Digital Detox Round-up

We start with a general article on How Much Entertainment Is Too Much? Tim Challies offers some guidance on how to strike the balance.

Entertainment is a good gift of God, designed to refresh us from the long labor gone by and to renew us for the long labor ahead. As Christians we do well to pursue it. We do well to create new forms of it, to invite others to participate in it with us. But always we must remember what J.R. Miller says so well: “Amusement is not an end, but a means. It is not life’s object, but a help along the way. It is not the goal, but the cool bower, or the bubbling spring on the stiff, steep mountain-side.”

The Gospel and Social Media Part 3 | For The Church (Part 1 and Part 2)
This article emphasizes some of the Gospel benefits of social media:

Though the negatives of social media seem to justify abstaining from using it (and for some, it should) there are some gospel positives that come along with our virtual societies. If social media users can press into these realities while straying from some of the pitfalls, social media can actually act as a gospel well we should drink from often.

A Spiritual IT Policy
Good tips on how to prune back our use of Apps, social media, podcasts, etc.

7 Questions to Ask Before Posting about Politics on Social Media
My own policy is  mostly “Don’t.” but if you want something more sophisticated, here are some good questions to run through before hitting “share.”

Facebook Dead At 12, A Victim Of 2016
Bethany Mandel writes an obituary for Facebook:

Since the end of the 2016 election, and especially since it resulted in the victory of Donald J. Trump as president, Facebook has become utterly intolerable. I took the application off my phone when I realized, a few days after the election, that I felt angry every time I scrolled through my newsfeed, and that this sour mood was affecting how I spoke with my co-workers, who happen to be my children (I’m a stay-at-home mother by profession). Deleting the application made me feel more disconnected from these online friends from all walks of my life, but also happier and more calm.

I’m 15 and Snapchat makes me feel awful about myself
Am I glad I’m not fifteen!

7 Tips to Stop Your Phone from Interrupting Your Life | Time Management Ninja
If you want to get more work done, you need to remember that your phone is a tool that is meant to help you, not constantly interrupt your day.

  1. Don’t Answer the Phone When You are Busy.
  2. Turn Your Phone Off.
  3. Use Do Not Disturb Mode.
  4. Let it Go to Voicemail.
  5. Block Unwanted Callers.
  6. Respond with a Text.
  7. Only Answer Callers That You Know.

Why Our Son Doesn’t Have a Smartphone | TGC
This is the article all teens have been hiding from their parents all week.

A Parable on the Reading of Blogs | A Small Work
Good motivation to prioritize books over blogs.

Thirty Seconds Alone with God | Desiring God
Tony Reinke analyzes the changes in our use of digital technology between 2015 and 2016. The clearest finding is “that our mobile devices, our tablets, and especially our smartphones are filling in more and more of life’s little gaps with perfectly sized bits of consumable media.” He warns us: “The worst of our compulsive social media habits in the empty spaces of our lives is corroding our prayer lives.”

More Digital Detox Resources.


Check Out

Blogs

How the U.S. Marines Encourage Service-Based Leadership | Angie Morgan and Courtney Lynch, Harvard Business Review
“If managers want to get the most out of every team member, they can adopt many of the Marine Corps’s service-based leadership practices. Understanding the concept isn’t enough; they must overcome the three common barriers that prevent managers from putting the needs of their employees first: awareness, time, and unhealthy competition.”

Encouragement for Discouraged Pastors | Jay Sanders, LifeWay Pastors
Jay’s answer to discouragement? “Cut the grass!” It’s not as crazy as it sounds.

Stott’s Simple—Yet Surprising—Productivity Secret | Kevin Halloran, For The Church
“Take a quiet day once a month. Go away into the country, if you can, where you can be sure of being undisturbed. Stand back, look ahead, and consider where you are going. Allow yourself to be drawn up into the mind and perspective of God. Try to see things as he sees them. Relax!”

Pastors and Retirement Stewardship | Chris Cagle, Retirement Stewardship
“The same powerful forces that are at work and that make planning and preparing for retirement necessary for you and me are just as important to pastors. Things such as increased longevity, the need for income for life, taxes, inflation, the uncertainty of investments, and escalating healthcare costs, are all in play.”

New Book

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.


Sons in the Son: The Riches and Reach of Adoption in Christ by David B. Garner

Kindle Deals


Telling the Truth: Evangelizing Postmoderns by D. A. Carson ($3.99)


The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision by Gerald Hiestand and Todd A. Wilson ($3.99)


God in the White House: A History: How Faith Shaped the Presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush by Randall Balmer ($1.99)


Fishing for Souls

I wrote this post a few years ago but thought it might be appropriate to post along with Darryl Bradford’s most recent “Meet The Faculty” Video. Here’s another about Michael Barrett.


What is a minister of the Gospel? The most common answers include models like Shepherd, Servant, Preacher, Theologian, Teacher, Counselor, Leader, and so on.

But one model that’s rarely thought about or spoken about today is the first model that Jesus used – Fisherman (Matt. 4:19).

My favorite hobby probably biases me here but I believe fishing for souls is one of the most powerful models of Christian ministry and must be re-prioritized. It’s such a perfect metaphor for both the fish (sinners) and the fishermen (pastors/witnesses) that I’ll leave you to make the obvious applications.

The Fish

Fish love water: They are comfortable there, have no desire to leave it, and will stay there even if the water is polluted and is killing them.

Fish are suspicious: They are wary, sensitive, fearful, easily spooked, and spend their life hiding.

Fish fight: They fight with passion when caught, even after being caught, and even with their last breath.

Fish are frustrating: They are unpredictable, annoying, baffling, discouraging, and even depressing.

Fish are worth catching: But when caught, what satisfaction, what enjoyment, what memories, what tales!

The Fishermen

Passionate: He loves fish and loves to catch fish. It’s all his one-track mind thinks about.

Optimistic: He goes out expecting to catch and confident of catching no matter how misplaced his confidence seems to others (especially his wife).

Opportunistic: He looks for every little window of opportunity to get to the river or the lake. He keeps his tackle handy so that every time he passes a stretch of water that looks promising he can take the chance.

Equipped: He has a good, large, and strong net with no holes in it.

Skillful: He acquires many different skills and learns many different techniques and tactics

Sensitive: He has a sixth sense, an inexplicable feeling about just when and where the fish are about to bite. This is not about intelligence or education – it’s usually the result of long years of experience.

Sacrificial: He gives up time and money to fish. He gets up early and stays out late. He invests in equipment and training

Courageous: Sometimes he has to go into difficult and dangerous places to catch the biggest fish.

Patient: He spends time casting, casting, casting, even when the fish keep swimming away.

Persevering: He goes back time and again, even when he’s failed many times before, even when everyone tells him it’s useless.

Prayerful: He knows that only God can put fish in his net.

Happy: He enjoys fishing even when he doesn’t catch anything. It refreshes and energizes him (John 4:32).

Successful: When he’s successful, lot’s of people ask him “What did you use?” “What did you do?” He’s happy to share his secret, because it is no secret. “I follow the Master Fisherman (Matthew 4:19). I stay close to Him, watch Him, imitate Him, love Him, and obey Him.”


Check out

Blogs

To Be A Diaper Changer – Reformation21 Blog
Nick takes on unbiblical views of vocation:

A “change the world” mentality often ironically serves as a catalyst for discontentment or undue guilt. The common failures and frustrations experienced in the mundane day-in and day-out aspects of life tend to leave those who had hoped for more importance jaded or calloused as the years progress.

Such a mentality also has the adverse effect of inadvertently leading others to dismiss the importance of the work of the mother who faithfully changes her children’s diapers, drives them to sporting and music practices, takes them to the doctor, keeps up the organizational aspects of life at home and serves with her husband in many unnoticed capacities at church. It tells the man who humbly hangs a sign for a church plant each and every Friday night and takes it down every Sunday night that what he is doing is insignificant. It implicitly disrespects the man who gets up at 5:30 every morning and who comes home at 7:30 every night (and who then repeats that process 6 days a week for 25 years) from his job in a factory.

Why Francis Chan is radically wrong
Continues in a similar vein to Nick’s article above. You don’t need to accept the whole Family Integrated Church Movement’s ideas to agree with many of these points.

Whom Do You Serve—the Dragon or the Lamb?
I’ve just started reading this much-needed book

Though 2017 is barely underway, it’s safe to say The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb will be one of the year’s most important ministry books. Every ministry leader will benefit from this wake-up call for many who’ve embraced less-than-biblical attitudes toward power. It should lead some to weep, as they contemplate how much of their ministry will be burned up in the end (1 Cor. 3:12–14). It should also serve as a fresh call to Spirit-led ministry, flowing from humble abiding in Jesus (John 15:1–5).

The 4 Types of Ineffective Apologies
From the Harvard Business Review. Hopefully Christians can raise the standard even higher.

Apologizing isn’t easy, and many people do it only part way, insincerely, or not at all. And in doing so, they miss out on key opportunities for relationship repair. With this in mind, let’s take a quick tour of four common forms of ineffective apologizing I’ve noticed in my work. See if any of them resonate with your experience.”

7 powerful quotes from ‘Jane Roe’ of Roe v. Wade
Norma McCorvey, also known as “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade, was the plaintiff that attorneys, Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, used in the Texas court case that struck down all laws against abortion throughout the United States. Today, McCorvey is pro-life.

Kindle Books

Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship by John Macarthur $2.99.

The Gospel according to Daniel: A Christ-Centered Approach by Bryan Chapell $2.99.


A Crazy Pledge of Allegiance?

About fifteen years ago, we started home-schooling our two sons, Allan and Angus. The concept of Christian education was rare in Scotland with only a handful of tiny Christian schools in the whole nation. Also, the idea of home-schooling your kids was totally weird to most people. However, I had long before decided from my own terrible childhood experience of Scottish public schools that putting them through the same system was not an option. So homeschooling it was.

With the total lack of Christian education curricula in Scotland, we turned to the USA and ordered a complete first grade curriculum from Abeka Book in Florida. I’ll never forget the day the UPS sack arrived in our home and all these wonderful books and other resources were spread out all over our kitchen table. I wept tears of joy that my kids were going to get taught every subject from a Christian perspective.

There was just one problem. Everything was American. The boys were learning American history, American geography, American currency, American spelling, American everything! Here we were in the remote highlands of Scotland, turning two little Scottish boys into experts on everything American. When we visited stores in Stornoway, they would say out loud, “How many dollars is this, Dad?” Strange looks all round. Thankfully they did not (yet) have American accents.

A Crazy Pledge?
It all came to a climax one day when I was teaching the boys American history and the lesson required them to memorize the Pledge of Allegiance. I remember looking out of the window across the Atlantic ocean towards America as they recited the pledge, and thinking, “What are we doing?” It seemed crazy. What possible point could there be in this? What a waste of time. It was almost treasonous!

Another time I was teaching them the State birds, and I specifically remember when we came to Michigan’s robin (much bigger than the British one, of course) and thinking, “We’ll never set foot in this place and here we are learning about its State bird!” Was I mad?

A Wise Providence
What I didn’t know was what God, in his wise and mysterious providence, had already planned for me and my family. Six years later I would be emigrating to the USA with my family. The kids were already “Americanized” and knew their nickels, dimes, and quarters better than I did. And now, today, fifteen years since my boys “pledged their allegiance,” we are heading to Detroit for our final US citizenship interviews. “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18).

As I’ve been prepping for the American Civics questions, so many of the lessons I taught the boys are coming back to me. Angus hardly needed to study at all because it’s all so relatively recent and fresh to his young mind (Allan’s already a citizen through the US Marines).

There are so many times in life when we have no idea what God is doing with us or where he is taking us. It’s only later, sometimes many years later, that the seemingly crazy puzzle pieces begin to come together in a beautiful way. As Jesus said to someone else: ”What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this” (John 13:7).


Check Out

Blogs

Overcoming 5 Types of Anger | David Dunham, RPM Ministries
“Not all anger is the same, and so counseling always needs to be person-specific. As you train yourself to understand the diversity of anger’s manifestations you will be better equipped to help those who are struggling with it.”

Jesus Loves the Rich| Nicholas T. Batzig, Feeding on Christ
“the Jesus of Scripture never showed partiality to the poor as over agains the rich. The Jesus of Scripture came into the world to redeem rich and poor. A brief survey of the Gospel record teaches us this important lesson–a lesson that we so desperately need to learn if we are to be faithful witnesses to the saving grace of God in Christ to all in in a day in which the rich are vilified by the poor. ”

Here’s A Primer On Pro-Life Responses To Common Counter-Arguments | Daniel Payne, The Federalist
“The ideas of the pro-life movement are much richer and more interesting than many commentators would have you believe.”

7 False Teachers in the Church Today | Tim Challies
“False teachers take on many forms, custom-crafted to times, cultures, and contexts. Here are seven of them you will find carrying out their deceptive, destructive work in the church today”

7 Ways to Do Political Punditry Wrong in a Polarized World | Kevin DeYoung, TGC
“Let’s briefly consider seven ways to do political punditry wrong in a polarized world.”

Saying No to More Work | Amy Gallo, Harvard Business Review
“Most people have way more to do than they can possibly fit into their workweek. The smartest ones are constantly reprioritizing their to-do lists… To stop more things, or the wrong things, from creeping onto your list, you have to start saying no.”

David Beckham reveals the secret to his long-lasting marriage | Sam Haysom, Mashable
Not many celebrity marriages last twenty years. David Beckham has a simple explanation:

We stay together because we love each other; we stay together because we have four amazing children, and do you go through tough times? Of course you go through tough times. It’s part of relationships, it’s part of marriages, it’s part of having children, it’s part of having responsibilities.

Kindle Deals


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


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


Pray for the Flock: Ministering God’s Grace Through Intercession by Brian Croft and Ryan Fullerton ($2.99)

Video

What are some common rookie preaching mistakes? | H. B. Charles, Jr.