Check out

Is Mindfulness Christian?
“Instead of this stress-reducing “mindlessness” we need the reassuring presence of our Savior, Christ, who takes away our genuine guilt and gives us real spiritual stress relief.”

My Special-Needs Calling
“My primary calling is being a mother to a healthy one-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter with a severe feeding disability. It is a joyful, hopeful, sorrowful, tear-filled calling.”

Eight Ways Pastors Can Cultivate Long-Term Tenures
“Generally, long-term pastor tenures are better than short-term pastor tenures. The context where the pastor ministers can impact the tenure. The church body can impact the tenure. And the pastor can impact tenure length. Below are eight ways pastors can cultivate their own long-term tenures.”

Does your counselor have these two important skills?
Biblical counselors would change some of the terminology in this piece, but the insights are valuable.

Bakers should have the right not to make a ‘gay cake’ | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times
A prominent gay rights activist argues against the current judicial trend of punishing small businesses for failure to bake cakes, etc.

My Top Ten Suggestions for New Pastors
“As still a rather newish seminary professor, I am growing accustomed to seeing yet another batch of graduates go off into their first pastorate. I regularly get asked for a tip or two about what to do upon arrival (or sometimes I just offer them without being asked!). So I thought I would give ten of them that I regularly pass along one way or the other.”

Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace by Heath Lambert $3.99

What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman $3.99.


A Prof’s Life: Visit to Crossway

A couple of days ago, Shona and I travelled to Chicago to visit Crossway. We had been invited to record videos and attend meetings in connection with a few upcoming books. The first is my own, Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture. It’s a book for men and will be published at the end of March 2017.

The second is Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands, which Shona and I co-wrote. It’s a book for women and is based upon Shona’s recovery from depression and her experience of counseling other women through stress, anxiety, depression, etc. I’d never co-authored a book before and was a bit worried when we started the project about the potential for, shall we say, “marital discord.”  However, as we worked on it through the summer, we actually grew even closer, especially as we recalled some dark days in Shona’s life and the ways that God has restored her and is now using all of it for the good of others. Although the manuscript has been submitted, it’s going to be another 10-11 months before it’s published.

The third book is Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids. This will be published next September and its aim is to help children get into the daily habit of reading and interacting with the Bible. Through daily reading of carefully chosen verses, and the answering of simple questions, the children will be given an overview of the whole Bible in the course of a year. More details to follow!

The majority of Thursday was taken up with recording numerous videos for the first two books. Justin Taylor interviewed each of us for 15 minutes or so, focusing mainly on Shona’s story of depression and mine of burnout. Then there were multiple shorter videos answering various questions like:

Reset Questions

  1. Why do so many men experience burnout? What are some of the common causes?
  2. What unique factors in our modern culture are driving more and more men to burnout?
  3. What are some of the common negative effects of burnout in a man’s life?
  4. If there was one biblical truth you would impart as a remedy to burnout, what would it be?
  5. If there was one very practical thing a man could do to guard against burnout, what would it be?
  6. There are many men who will watch this video who are younger and have great ambitions for what they will do with their lives. How would you counsel them as they look ahead, hoping to live a life of hard work and success?
  7. What unique pressures might a man in ministry experience that would lead to burnout?
  8. Do you think the “celebrity pastor culture” we live in contributes to men in ministry burning out? If so, how?

Refresh Questions

  1. What particular demands are placed on women today?
  2. What would you say to women who feel they are only suffering from a spiritual problem? Is there a connection between spiritual, mental, and physical health?
  3. What are some unhealthy ways a woman might be tempted to handle the endless demands that are placed upon her?
  4. What steps do you recommend women take to rejuvenate their relationship with God after a season of poor spiritual, mental, and physical health?
  5. Can you highlight aspects of your own story that might serve as an example to women who are experiencing anxiety and depression, and are generally overwhelmed?
  6. What role does grace play in the processes of recovery and establishing a healthy pace?

You’ll have to wait for the videos to get the answers!

It was such special day for Shona and I. I’ve done quite a bit of video and interview work now, but it’s new to Shona. Although she was pretty nervous at first, Justin and the media team were great at helping her to relax and encouraged her every step of the way. I’m nominating her for an Oscar, anyway.

It was a joy to meet so many great people on the Crossway team: Justin Taylor, Dane Ortlund, Lane and Ebeth Dennis, Amy Kruis, Greg Bailey, Dave DeWitt, Lydia Brownback Joe, Kathy, John, and many others. I also had the privilege of addressing the staff chapel on Moses’s prayer in Exodus 33, “Show me your glory,” and God’s answer, “I will make my goodness pass before you.” I tried to encourage the staff that their work was an answer to Moses’s prayer; that every day they are showing God’s glory by publishing books that make God’s goodness pass before the world.


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Blogs

3 Common Sense Ways to Manage your Kids Screen Time
Many good points for parents to discuss with each other and their kids. And here’s a related article: If Parents Won’t Limit Kids’ Screen Use, Schools Should

‘High-tech schools’ are the last thing kids and society need, especially when parents are letting their kiddos gorge themselves on wasteful, even destructive screen-based entertainment.

Never Harmless, Never Private, Never Safe
Marshall Seagal fought and beat porn by finding a superior pleasure.

The reality was that no relationship could have ever solved my sexual sin — no relationship, that is, except for knowing Christ. I was looking to girlfriends, and to the hope of a future wife, to fill a craving only God could fill. I was focusing on self-discipline, dating, and marriage, when God was trying to teach me about joy and show me where to find real pleasure.

20 Quotes From Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel
Again, great conversation starters for couples and an appetizer for what looks like a super-helpful book.

Preach in a Mild State of Panic
I can’t fully endorse Dan’s method for everyone, but I do resonate with his plea to move away from reading over-prepared sermon manuscripts. Here are two paragraphs that stood out:

Write as much or little as you like, but stop trying to master your material and to deliver it as planned. Consider the possibility that while you master your notes, they master you, chaining you to the pulpit and pulling you away from people who want to know if you love them, who feel that eye contact is a sign of affection.

Write up as much or as little as you please, but when you preach, focus on the core message and the people, rather than your meticulously prepared remarks. Pray, lean on the Spirit, and embrace that twinge of panic that arises when you don’t quite know what to say next. Take heart; the Lord knows, and he has called and equipped you.

5 Truths from 10 Years of Discipleship Research
Scott McConnell just celebrated ten years of leading LifeWay Research. Here are five big truths he’s learned from ten years of discipleship research.

Kindle Books

Two books for Reformation Day.

Luther on the Christian Life by Carl Trueman $5.99.

Calvin on the Christian Life by Michael Horton $5.99.

New Book

Networked Theology: Negotiating Faith in Digital Culture

Video

Stirring Video From Ashers Baking Company
Daniel McArthur, General Manager of Ashers Baking Company in Northern Ireland responds to a ruling from the Court of Appeal in Belfast that Ashers had discriminated against a gay activist when it turned down his order for a pro-gay marriage campaign cake.


A Prof’s Life: Fighting for Hope

This morning I made some progress on my Matthew Henry research. I was comparing his teaching with that of his fellow non-conformists John Owen, John Bunyan, and Richard Baxter, as well as with the leading Latitudinarian of his day, Archbishop John Tillotson.

I’m using word-count software to highlight any differences and similarities in their writing. Logos Bible Software is particularly useful in that with a few clicks you can search the first 16 volumes of John Owen, the 23 volumes of Richard Baxter, and the 3 volumes of John Bunyan. I’m relying on PDF’s for Henry and Tillotson. The advantage of Logos is that it not only gives you the count for the word you are searching but if you scroll down it also gives you the context. Can you imagine trying to do that before the days of PDF’s and Logos Bible Software?

Although word search is a basic research tool that can yield superficial and sometimes misleading results, it offers a starting point that highlights potentially significant differences in word usage, and invites a more thorough investigation as to the nature of any difference in substance.

I then spent about 30 minutes reading a student’s MA thesis and offering some corrections and direction for further work before lecturing for three hours. In the counseling lecture we started looking at the “Counselor’s Process.” We had spent the first weeks of the semester looking at counseling presuppositions, and now we are getting on to the more practical part of the course. Although I follow Paul Tripp’s “Love, Know, Speak, Do” structure, I use mainly my own material under each heading. We covered “Love” today which I defined as: Love involves graciously welcoming the counselee with a sympathetic, humble, unprejudiced, unshockable, hopeful, persevering, prayerful, and confidential spirit. The lecture exegeted each of these words.

I admitted that one of the areas I struggle most with is being hopeful in certain types of counseling. With depression, I am strangely hopeful, probably because I’ve seen so many people, who use all the means God has provided, recover and go on to live useful and fruitful lives again.

Where I tend to despair is in the more relational issues, such as marriage breakdown or parent-child breakdowns. I’ve had more disappointments than encouragements in these areas and, therefore, I do find it difficult to approach these problems with optimism. The main reason why they are so hard is that parties almost always focus on the faults of the “other” rather than themselves, rendering it almost impossible to make any progress towards one another. As one of the students “counseled” me, our only hope is to keep our hope focused on the Lord. As long as I can do that, yes, hope is sustained.  It’s so important too, because people can detect if we’ve given up before we’ve even started.

The “Minister and his Ministry” lecture lecture focused on preaching. The mechanics of preaching are covered in our Homiletics course which Dr. Beeke and I will be teaching next semester. Today’s lecture was really trying to provide a theology of preaching drawn from about 25-30 pastoral biographies and pastoral theologies as well as from personal experience.

After the lectures, I picked the most urgent emails to answer, and then prepared for the chapel address I will give at Crossway, just outside Chicago, on Thursday. Shona’s coming with me as we will also be recording some videos there for our forthcoming books.

In the evening, I hope to meet someone for counseling and then attend our monthly elder’s meeting followed by our consistory meeting (elders and deacons together). I always look forward to these meetings as they are characterized by such brotherly love and spiritual unity and I almost always leave them encouraged and energized for future service.


Check Out

Blogs

Befriend Those with Disabilities and Special Needs | Scott Sauls, TGC
“According to The American Journal of Medical Genetics, 99 percent of those living with Down syndrome say they’re happy; 97 percent say they like who they are; and 99 percent agree with the statement, ‘I love my family.’ According to one writer, these statistics identify those living with Down syndrome as ‘the happiest people in the world.’”

Open Bible, Burning Hearts: Response to Andy Stanley | John Piper, Desiring God
“Now that Andy Stanley has responded so fully and helpfully to the critics of his sermon ‘The Bible Told Me So,’ we may be able to sort out a few things about his method more carefully. My aim here is to state what I think Stanley is commending to preachers, and then suggest some questions that young preachers should ask before embracing Stanley’s method. He has important things to teach us, and I was helped by reading his rejoinder to his critics.”

Laying R.I.P. to Rest | Nick Batzig, Reformation21 Blog
“I’ve noticed something of a concerning trend over the past several years. It is the way in which believers speak about culture-impacting individuals at their deaths. Instead of simply expressing appreciation for their life and achievements, it has become commonplace for Christians to use the shorthand R.I.P. (‘rest in peace’) on social media when speaking of individuals–in whose lives there was no evidence of saving grace–at their death. At the risk of sounding ill-tempered, I wish to set out several reasons why I am troubled by this occurrence.”

Do Christian Colleges and Seminaries Have a Moral Responsibility to Screen Ministry Students for Dangerous Mental Disorders? | Darrell Puls, Christian Academia Magazine
“Let’s be honest: We expect many pastors to be slightly off-centered and with amusing eccentricities. That’s fine, and the majority do much good. I am not concerned about them. What scares me is this: recent validated research strongly indicates that those who meet the diagnostic criteria of Narcissitic Personality Disorder are so strongly attracted to ministry that they make up just under one-third (31.2%) of all ordained clergy within a large, conservative denomination…”

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.


Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem by Jay W. Richards ($1.99)


Read the Bible for Life: Your Guide to Understanding and Living God’s Word by George Guthrie ($0.99)


True Sexual Morality: Recovering Biblical Standards for a Culture in Crisis by Daniel R. Heimbach ($2.99)

Video

Why you Should Watch The Atheist Delusion by Ray Comfort | Jordan Standridge, The Cripplegate