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Having Trouble in Ministry? Just Face it. Literally
“I remember a particular ‘green’ moment in my first year of full-time ministry when I asked the guys during a staff meeting (this was about 4 months in), ‘Is it always like this?’ To which they lovingly responded, ‘It is Mach IV with your hair on fire. Buckle up. Heaven will be great.’ This was during a particularly tumultuous time, but it has nevertheless characterized ministry. Those of you who are in ministry know what I am talking about.”

Yes, Your Pastor Needs a Sabbatical
“Focused, intentional rest doesn’t come easy, because we have become addicted to productivity. Our inability to faithfully rest is due to a number of things, yet at the top of the list is an unhealthy drive to perform, control, and produce. The affects are that we can slowly begin to forget that God can keep things going without us.”

30 Pieces of Advice for the New Wife
This sweet post is from a 3-month-old wife. If you’ve been married for more than a few years or have kids, you’ll have a good laugh at the beautiful ideals!

Visual Theology: Seeing and Understanding the Truth About God (Coming Soon!)
An upcoming book from Tim Challies and Josh Byers. “In this book, we have made the deepest truths of the Bible accessible in a way that can be seen and understood by a visual generation. We have prepared what we see as a theology of the Christian life, a book that explains the ‘now what?’ of living as a Christian. It is ideal for the new or seasoned believer.”

The Great Ebook Battle of 2016
Ebooks or print? Which do you prefer?

Handwriting Helps You Learn – Business Insider
“Typing is fast. Handwriting is slow. Weirdly, that’s precisely why handwriting is better suited to learning.”

Kindle Books

Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin ($4.99)

The Pastor’s Family: Shepherding Your Family through the Challenges of Pastoral Ministry by Brian and Cara Croft ($3.99)

The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism by D. A. Carson ($3.99)

A Place for Weakness: Preparing Yourself for Suffering
by Michael S. Horton ($3.99)

New Children’s Book

God’s Servant Job: A Poem with a Promise by Douglas Bond ($4.99 Kindle, $9.99 Paperback)


From Ivy League to Furniture Maker

A New Gold Standard For Seminaries

My oldest son, Allan, is off to US Marine boot camp in a couple of weeks. On Saturday, he persuaded us all to watch a PBS documentary on the US Marine training. I thought it would scare me witless and reduce Shona to tears. Instead, it was inspiring and encouraging, especially the part about the Officer Candidates School. In one section, Col. Robert Chase, Jr., Commanding Officer, Officer Candidates School, said this:

My job is to screen and evaluate potential candidates for being officers in the marine corps. I made a promise to every marine I’ve served with over 33 years that no one will walk across that grinder to graduate that I would not want to lead my son or my daughter. Simple as that. If I would not trust them with my child, I will not trust them with yours.

As the father of someone going in at the lowest rung, I found that comforting; but also challenging.

Because if that’s the standard for US Marine Officer Candidates School, should it not also be the standard of every Seminary training officers for the Church of Christ? Perhaps Faculties, Boards of Trustees, denominations, and federations should adopt that simple gold standard.

We will not let any student graduate that we would not want to lead our sons or our daughters. Simple as that. If we would not trust them with our own children’s souls, we will not trust them with yours. 

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Why Your Stubborn Kid Will Probably Be A Wildly Successful Adult
Well here’s some hope for the battle (just make sure your kids don’t read this one): “A study found that kids who ignored both rules and their parents grew up to earn higher salaries.”

Roe v. Wade — Abortion Won the Day, but Sooner or Later That Day Will End
You’ll need to steel yourself to read this, but the good news is that this author is now pro-life:

Twenty years ago, someone told me that, if the names of all those lost babies were inscribed on a wall, like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the wall would have to stretch for 50 miles. It’s 20 years later now, and that wall would have to stretch twice as far. But no names could be written on it; those babies had no names. 

Women Manage The Home Better Than Men Do
Cows eat grass as well. This from a stay-at-home Dad:

This job is really hard, and our wives have always made it look effortless. When working full-time, men leave the house for at least 40 hours a week and, in that time, our wives are civilizing the kids, feeding us all, and keeping the house organized. When our kids call for mom they are not trying to undermine dad. They’re just calling for an expert.

Clarifications for Christ Centered Preaching
“When speaking about Christ-centered exposition, let’s make sure we are including the following six clarifications. ”

10 Things Pastors Will Think about as They Preach this Weekend
“I’ve preached most Sundays since April of 1981. You’d assume by now that I could simply focus on nothing but the Word when I’m preaching, but I still think about other things at the same time. Here are some of those things that I – and, I suspect, many other pastors – think about”

Prayer Societies
“How can we overcome obstacles and help stir one another up in prayer? One means I have learned from others and used over the years, with last night being the most recent, is to introduce the idea of Prayer Societies.”

Kindle Books

A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories that Stretch and Stir by Collin Hansen $3.99. This is a hugely encouraging book.

The Next Story: Faith, Friends, Family, and the Digital World by Tim Challies $3.99.

PROOF: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace $3.99. A modern re-presentation of the doctrines of grace.


Memory Capacity Of Our Brains 10 Times What Was Previously Believed, Equal To Entire Internet
“The memory capacity of our brains may be 10 times what was previously believed, say scientists who’ve gained important insights into the size and extent of our neural connections.” This is a perfect graphical commentary on Psalm 139:14.

Should You Share Your Sexual Past?

Should you share your sexual past with the person you plan to marry? Paul Maxwell explores the “How to?” of this in You Are Not Damaged Goods: On Dating with a Sexual History, but he doesn’t deal with the “Should you?” He gives good advice for couples who decide to have this conversation, but simply assumes that they will have it.

But should they?

Personally, I’ve never been convinced that this is always necessary or wise for a dating or an engaged couple. When I’ve counseled Christian couples getting married, I’ve always offered to talk with them about this subject if they wish, but I’ve never insisted on it (usually much to their relief!). I’ve suggested that they chat with one another about it if one or other feels it necessary, but again, I have never pressurized them.

Maybe it’s my more conservative Scottish background because although it seems to be a common practice in American pre-marital counseling, I had never heard of such a thing in Scotland. As Paul’s article makes clear, and I have heard of from others forced into having these conversations, serious long-term relational damage can result (more than just the consequences mentioned by Paul).

I can conceive of some circumstances where one’s sexual past should be disclosed and discussed. For example it would be wise to consider this:

  • If there’s been an STD in the past.
  • If there has been some abuse that might make it difficult for one or other to view or experience sex positively.
  • If there’s been habitual sexual immorality, especially if it’s been something close to a sex addiction.
  • If there’s the likelihood that someone from one’s sexual past could resurface to threaten the marriage.
  • If one party is sexually experienced and the other is a virgin.
  • If the immorality occurred after coming to faith and therefore may affect a Christian’s public witness.
  • If there has been an abortion.

But, outside of these (and similar) circumstances, if it’s two Christians getting married I simply encourage them to let the blood of Christ cover their sexual pasts just as it has every other sin in their pasts, and to seek the purging of their consciences and bodies through faith in the perfect Bridegroom. 

Am I wrong?

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Why You Should Read 50 Books This Year (and how to do it)
If you’re doing the 2016 Reading Challenge with Tim Challies, you probably want to read this. Best piece of advice comes from Thomas Davis, author of Unhooked: How to Break Bad Habits and Form Good Ones That Stick, who says:

You have to make reading a habit instead of waiting until you’re in the mood. Identify a constant trigger for when to read (like an existing habit) and commit to it,” he writes in his blog. “I read for 30 minutes every morning, immediately after my wife goes to work. As soon as I’ve kissed her goodbye, I sit at my desk, set a timer for 30 minutes, and read without interruption. By scheduling when to read, you begin to look forward to it, and can enjoy it guilt-free.”

43 Years After Roe, Hope is Alive
Here’s a super-encouraging and super-informative article by Robert George.

Evidence is everywhere that our prayers and efforts are availing. Hearts are turning. Young and old are gaining strength, confidence, and courage. They are committing to the cause, deepening their commitment to the cause, finding their voices. We shall overcome.

Rethinking our Relaxing
A fascinating interview with Paul Heintzman, author of Leisure and Spirituality: Biblical, Historical, and Contemporary Perspectives, an academic study of how Christians through the years have viewed and practiced rest and relaxation.

The Most Important Ingredient to Improve Your Marriage
Tim Lane asks, “What fuels a strong, resilient, enjoyable marriage?” His answer:

Most people would immediately answer with suggestions like better communication and the ability to resolve conflicts. As important as those skills are, it is actually much more simple than that. According to marriage and relationship expert John Gottman, it boils down to one thing: friendship!

Why I Challenged My Kids To Start A Business Before College
I love this idea.

When our two daughters finished their high school studies, my wife and I made them a deal: we would pay for college, but first they each had to run their own business for at least a year. In our view, this was an important entrepreneurial track to their education. They needed to know how the world works before they could know what they wanted from college.

Kindle Books

Beginning at Moses: A Guide to Finding Christ in the Old Testament by Michael Barrett $0.99. Oh, this is gold, get it now before the offer ends.

Preaching and Preachers by Martyn Lloyd Jones (updated edition) $3.99. Surely every preacher has this?

The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision $3.99.

Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home $1.99. Not a Christian book, but a phenomenal story of human endurance.

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How a 29-Year-Old G. K. Chesterton Flipped 4 Arguments Against Christianity Upside-Down | TGC
“Chesterton did not dismiss the arguments against Christianity. He recognized the truth in each objection, but then he turned the objection inside out in order to make a case against the skeptic. His conclusion is just as memorable as his defense, with a brilliant twist at the end:”

5 benefits of praying the Psalms | Southern Blog
“Praying the Bible means talking to God about what comes to mind as you read the Bible. Usually you might read the passage first, then go back and pray through what you just read.”

18 Reasons the Abortion Industry is Losing Its Support by George Grant | Ligonier Ministries Blog
“In short, one scandal after another has hit the abortion industry, its medical personnel, its educators, its researchers, its lobbyists, and its administrators. As a result, its ‘Teflon’ reputation is starting to wear a little thin and its ‘grand illusion’ has begun to lose its luster.”

A Fragile Life Worth All Our Love | Desiring God
“I was 21 years old when I sat in a high-risk pregnancy clinic with my wife after her level-two ultrasound. Doctors told us Levi had all the markers for Down syndrome. After declining an amniocentesis, we were ushered straight away into the next room where a genetic counselor told us we had ‘options.’ She explained we were too far along at 22-weeks pregnant to terminate in Minnesota, but they could connect us with someone in Chicago or Phoenix. My wife and I sat shell-shocked – first from the news about our son’s diagnosis and second from the attempts to exterminate him.”

The Character of the Christian: Above Reproach | Tim Challies
This is a calling not just for elders, but for all Christians. Tim unpacks what this means in our lives.

What are the most up-to-date stats on porn? | Covenant Eyes
Information about current stats as well as the Set Free Summit in the Spring.

Kindle Books

Making a Difference in Preaching: Haddon Robinson on Biblical Preaching by Haddon Robinson ($1.99)

The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make by Hans Finzel ($2.99)

Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good by Steven Garber ($2.99)


Marco Rubio: Pastor in Chief?
I can’t quite figure out Marco Rubio. This is impressive, but in another video, he says he is “I am fully, theologically and doctrinally aligned with the Roman Catholic Church.”