Check out

Blogs

Print, eBook, or Audio? Tips for Finishing More Books
Some tips on how to “Read More Better.”

The A.R.C. of Racial Reconciliation | Reformed African American Network
Jemar Tisby: “I had the honor of presenting at the 2016 Together for the Gospel conference on the A.R.C. of Racial Reconciliation. It was part of a breakout session I did jointly with Ligon Duncan, Chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary.  n it, I explained the essential elements of all genuine racial reconciliation.”

9 Things You Should Know About Autism
“April is National Autism Awareness Month, a time dedicated to understanding autism spectrum disorder, a condition that affects 1 in 68 children in America. Here are nine things you should know to help raise awareness and prepare you to minister to those with ASD.”

Outsourcing memory and wired for distraction | Gentle Reformation
“Nathan Eshelman’s excellent post called us to reassess how the internet and social media eats our time. I want to follow that by calling you to assess how it eats your brain!”

Covenant College Forfeits Women’s Tennis Championship Match Because Scheduled On Sunday
“Covenant College has elected to forfeit the Women’s Tennis USA South Conference championship match, scheduled for April 17, 2016. The championship match takes place on a Sunday, and as an institution owned and operated by the Presbyterian Church in America we observe the Sabbath by not competing in athletic events on Sunday.”

Why are the Dutch the tallest people on earth? | Proceedings of the Royal Society of London
This one is for my giant Dutch friends (Dutch giant friends?) here in Grand Rapids. Over the last 200 years, the Dutch have grown 20 cm in height, making them the tallest people on earth and challenging door manufacturers everywhere.

You Were Made to Meditate
“You will mediate. The question is not whether you will meditate, but on what. What is it for you today? What occupies your idle thoughts? What is the default of your heart? What’s your flavor of the day? What are you looking forward to? That’s the object of your meditation. And it can indeed be captured for Christ, and be a powerful means of grace in the Christian life. It is, in fact, the high point of receiving God’s word.”

Kindle Books

The Imperfect Pastor: Discovering Joy in Our Limitations through a Daily Apprenticeship with Jesus by Zack Eswine $3.99. Excellent book!

The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield $0.99. Probably everyone has this now, but just in case…

Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told: A Sociologist Shatters Myths From the Secular and Christian Media $0.99.

Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences $1.99. This is not a Christian book but maybe all the more powerful because of that as it argues for differentiating between male and female genders.

Video

Watch: College Kids Can’t Explain Why a Short White Man Isn’t a Tall Asian Woman
Welcome to our brave new world.


A Reformed “Spotlight”: Fighting Spiritual Abuse in the Reformed Church

I am so angry — and, I fear, not all of it is holy anger.

Earlier this week, I sat with a young man who, six years later, is still recovering from spiritual abuse at the hands of a “respected” Reformed pastor. He’s one of a number of this pastor’s victims, all of them gifted and godly men, but all of whom have had their confidence shredded and their faith devastated by this man’s abuse of his spiritual position and authority.

Within 24 hours I was sitting with another young man, whose details I cannot reveal, but let’s just say he had also suffered from another Reformed church’s failure to follow basic biblical, and even just humane, process.

I wasn’t looking for these men. They just “happened” to be in my life this week.

As I pondered their painful stories, I “happened” to watch an online video of a respected Christian leader abusing his position as a conference speaker to demolish the reputation and Christian character of a godly man and a friend of mine. He didn’t just criticize his views but his character, his faithfulness, and his spiritual state. All of this in front of a couple of thousand people and without any opportunity for the man to defend himself. (UPDATE: I’m not referring to T4G).

The Dam Bursts

And today the dam burst when I read in Christianity Today  that “celebrity-pastor,” Darrin Patrick, has been “fired for violating his duties as pastor” at the Journey Megachurch in St. Louis.

“The Journey cited a range of ongoing sinful behaviors over the past few years including manipulation, domineering, lack of biblical community, and a history of building his identity through ministry and media platforms.”

As Christianity Today points out, this is just the latest in a way-too-long line of prominent “Reformed” pastors who have either voluntarily or involuntarily stepped away from ministry due to spiritual failings that have impacted many people (I think it’s unfair to include John Piper in this list as his case did not involve spiritual abuse). Sadly, Christianity Today’s list is incomplete as other prominent names could easily be added. Even more sadly, there are multitudes of other non-celebrity pastors whose stories will never hit the headlines, but will result in even greater multitudes of victims.

Apart from one exception, I’ve generally refrained from giving publicity to such abuses of spiritual authority, mainly out of a desire not to damage the church’s witness before the world and a fear of undermining Christians confidence in their leaders. However, that was the argument the Roman Catholic Church used for decades as it covered up their priests’ sexual abuse. And victims continued to multiply in the silence.

So, yes, for me the dam has burst. And it’s not just the past week. I’ve had increasing numbers of emails from victims of spiritual abuse over the past years. It’s now time to speak out. It’s time for the Reformed church to take responsibility and clean house. It’s time to stop pointing the finger at the Catholics’ sexual abuse scandals and start exposing the spiritual abuse scandals in our ranks.

There have been brave voices in the wilderness here and there who have been calling for reformation in this area for years. But they’ve been dismissed as cranks, as obsessive, as outside the mainstream. That’s what the Catholic church used to say of their victims and critics too. It’s time to listen to these voices and stand with these victims.

And I speak as a fellow victim. I too have a story of spiritual abuse. I too have a story to tell. I’ve not only seen spiritual abuse, I bear the marks of it in my mind, my heart, and my soul.

Five Roles

So what can I do? I don’t want to be a conduit for unsubstantiated allegations. I don’t want to be a gossip blog. I don’t want to abuse my position in the process of highlighting the abuse of others. I won’t name names unless in exceptional circumstances; a lot of good can be done without personalizing issues. Rather I see my role and responsibility in five areas: warning, preventing, confronting, recovering, and modeling

Warning: I will regularly highlight the warning signs of a spiritual abuser, how to identity them, what to look out for, how to spot them early on, and also how to see danger signs in oneself! That’s one of the most fearful aspects of spiritual abuse — the abuser is usually totally blind to it. It could be you! Or me!!

Preventing: I want to help churches prevent spiritual abuse in their midst, to stop it before it starts, to nip it in the bud, and so on.

Confronting: I want to help individuals and churches confront spiritual abuse and root it out; how to use legitimate spiritual authority, including church discipline, against abuses of it.

Healing: I want to aid the healing process, helping wounded individuals, families, and churches recover their sanity and their souls and build solid foundations for spiritual life where at present there is only rubble. And I’ve got to believe that healing is possible for the spiritual abuser too, that, by grace, the most deformed leadership can become the most cruciformed.

Modeling: I want to promote godly models of leadership both in the church and in the family; because this is not just confined to pastors. As too many stories confirm, Christian husbands and fathers can also abuse their God-appointed leadership roles. We need to skillfully apply the Bible’s principles to our practice, and to advance positive and beautiful models of what it means to lead both in the church and in the home.

In summary, I want to be constructive more than destructive. And I want to start with a definition of spiritual abuse — stay tuned.

Let’s shine the “Spotlight” on ourselves before Hollywood does.

**UPDATE** Thanks for all the comments. These will all be very useful going forward. I’ve closed the thread due to a couple of people abusing the privilege.

Other posts in this series here.


Check Out

Blogs

100 Questions to Fuel Mentoring Relationships | Laura Booz, True Woman Blog
“Just in case you’re curious, here are the 100 questions that I think would encourage many fruitful conversations amongst women.”

Ten Lessons from Ten Years of Pastoral Ministry | Timothy Raymond, Credo Magazine
“I hope these lessons are of some encouragement to you, my brother-pastors.  Please pray for me as a pastor and my church. Keep your hand to the plow.”

4 Of The Best Pieces of Marital Advice I’ve Ever Heard | Mark Altrogge, The Blazing Center
“1). Try to be the biggest servant in the house.”

Navigating Dangers and Temptations in Ministry | Joe Thorn, Reformation21 Blog
“But there are four principles that should guide us through the dangers and temptations connected to ministry. In fact, these principles are not only for leaders, but for all of God’s people.”

Always A Woman | Aimee Byrd, ByFaith
“While society is trying to figure out if gender is a biological trait or something we feel from within, the church is also struggling with the purpose of our design. We have all kinds of resources now for so-called biblical womanhood and biblical manhood. Some of it is helpful, and yet some of it adds to the frustration. Many women feel sidelined, left to contribute in the nursery, children’s classes, and the nebulous world of women’s ministries.”

My Love/Hate Relationship with Leadership | Ed Stezter, The Exchange
“The lack of leadership development is, in my view, one of the primary reasons churches plateau. Too many pastors are incapable (or unwilling) to identify and cultivate leaders within the church. They struggle mightily just to recruit workers! But, until pastors are able and willing to train leaders and leaders of leaders, the church will always stop growing at the furthest reaches of the pastor’s own ability to work.”

Kindle Books


The Pastor’s Ministry: Biblical Priorities for Faithful Shepherds by Brian Croft ($3.99)


The Promises of Grace: Living in the Grip of God’s Love by Bryan Chapell ($2.99)


Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness by Edward T. Welch ($2.99)


What is Reformed Theology?: Understanding the Basics by R. C. Sproul ($3.99)


Why Believe the Bible? by John MacArthur ($1.99)


Check Out

Blogs

25 Incredibly Useful Free Sites And Services | Fast Company
“Save time, protect your privacy, stash some cash, and more with these no-cost wonders.”

5 Little Things You Can Do to Be More Productive | Time Management Ninja
“It’s not always the big things that impact your productivity. In fact, when it comes to time management, it is often the little things you do.”

Theology Conferences Part I of II: A Brief How-To Guide | Adam Johnson, The Scriptorium Daily
“If you are interested in an academic career, welcome to the world of conferences. For all their weaknesses, these are one of the main heartbeats of the academy. Over two posts, I will do my best to pass along what I have learned, thus speeding up the learning curve.”

Why Write New Books When There are Good Old Ones? | Ryan McGraw, Meet the Puritans
“So, should the church keep writing books today? Manton would say ‘yes.’ Why? Because we need to use every means possible to combat the darkness of sin, because we will continue to gain fresh discoveries of God’s glory in Christ, because believers need to be godlier, and because truth needs defending.”

4 Questions for Women Considering Seminary | Mary Willson, TGC
Not an argument for females in office but for well-trained women in other important roles within a congregation.

Five Reasons Leaders Must Encourage | Eric Geiger
“If you read any leadership book, you are likely to be encouraged to encourage the people you lead. If you have served with an encouraging leader, you know the impact the encouragement makes on the morale of the team, the focus of the people, and the commitment to one other. Here are five reasons leaders must encourage.”

Job’s Miserable Counselors: How Not to Counsel | Bob Kelleman, RPM
“I often learn best from how not to do something. So, we can learn how not to be a compassionate biblical counselor from the bad example of Job’s ‘miserable comforters’ (Job 16:2) ‘Miserable’ means troublesome, vexing, and sorrow-causing. They were the opposite of ‘comforters’– a word that means consoling, sympathetic, feeling deeply the hurt of others.”

New Book


Church Revitalization from the Inside Out by Robert D. Stuart

Kindle Deals

For your non-Kindle book buying needs please consider using Reformation Heritage Books in the USA and Reformed Book Services in Canada. Good value prices and shipping.


Take the Risk: Learning to Identify, Choose, and Live with Acceptable Risk by Ben Carson ($0.99)


Portraits of Faith: What Five Biblical Characters Teach Us About Our Life with God by Joel R. Beeke ($2.99)


John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace by Jonathan Aitken ($4.99)


Planting, Watering, Growing: Planting Confessionally Reformed Churches in the 21st Century edited by Daniel R. Hyde and Shane Lems ($2.99)


The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters by Albert Mohler ($3.82)


Check out

Blogs

The Way Out of “Burnout”
“I’m sure most women know what I mean by the phrase burned out. Burnout is what happens to us when we take on too much, and we simply hit the wall.”

Trans Mafia Put North Carolina In A Chokehold
“The ongoing LGBT activism that has overtaken a large part of the United States puts us at a strange crossroads in our country’s history: for perhaps the first time in American history, a civil rights effort is in fact more authoritarian and intolerant than the structure of power against which it is rebelling.”

3 Reasons Why Religious Liberty Laws Don’t Discriminate
“Supporters of religious freedom laws are not interested in discriminating against persons. What many find objectionable are participating in services that have an overtly sacramental meaning. Once you understand the true face and nature of discrimination, you’ll see that religious freedom laws in no way commit the type of di scrimination defined above.”

Transgender thoughts
“Some thoughts about last night’s 60 Minutes segment on Schuyler Bailar, a transgender swimmer at Harvard.”

5 Ways to Make It through a Difficult Season
“when God calls you to endure in difficult environments, here are five strategies I’ve learned to abide by.”

Kindle Books

For your non-Kindle book buying needs please consider using Reformation Heritage Books in the USA and Reformed Book Services in Canada. Good value prices and shipping.

The Hardest Sermons You’ll Ever Have to Preach by Bryan Chappel $3.99.

Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine by Greg Allison $32.48 $7.99.

Gospel-Centered Counseling: How Christ Changes Lives by Bob Kellemen $16.52 $6.99.

Gospel Conversations: How to Care Like Christ by Bob Kellemen $15.90 $6.99.

Preaching and Preachers by Martyn Lloyd-Jones $3.99.