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It’s been a bit quiet on the blog front the past few days because Shona and I have been speaking at a conference at Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida, where Tom Ascol and Jared Longshore are the pastors. We tagged on three days vacation with a few of our kids at the end of it. Normal service will be resumed in a couple of days.

Many thanks to Tom, Jared, and the congregation for their warm fellowship and generous hospitality over the past weekend. It was all the more memorable for us because it was the first conference Shona had spoken at, and she did so in connection with her book, Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands.

Hannah Asco, Donna Ascol, Tom Ascol, David Murray, Shona Murray, Amy Murray, Joni Murray, Scot Murray

Hannah Asco, Donna Ascol, Tom Ascol, David Murray, Shona Murray, Amy Murray, Joni Murray, Scot Murray

Here are some of the articles I’ve been reading the past few days.

Do You Sleep Less Than Jesus?
“The Word became flesh and slept among us. God himself in full humanity — body, heart, mind, and will — closed his eyes and went to sleep. And not once or twice, but every day.”

How the Church Helps Trauma Survivors
The second article in Todd Hardin’s series on PTSD. I love Todd’s holistic approach to biblical counseling.

When Combat Trauma Tests a Marriage
“Treatment of PTSD requires the expertise of mental health professionals. However, the need for a professional counselor never negates the need for a loving church family. The church is uniquely positioned to wrap around both veterans and their families: loving them, supporting them, and praying for them. A strong support system—like what a church family can offer—is crucial for healing.

Frustrated with a Friend
What do you do when a scholar you admire writes a disappointing chapter that undermines the Messianic Psalms?

How to Be Busy but in Balance
Written by one of the busiest men still alive:

“Perhaps the first step is to stop working, spend some time with God, and seek understanding as to what he is saying about your work. After all, he is our model; he is the one who calls us to work hard and to enjoy rest.

Facebook founding president sounds alarm
The founding President of Facebook takes us behind the curtain.

“The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’” “That means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you… more likes and comments.”

Kindle Books

Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion by Os Guinness $5.99.

The Making of an Atheist: How Immorality Leads to Unbelief  by James Spiegel $2.51.

Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life by Jeff Vanderstelt $4.99.

Gospel-Centered Discipleship by Jonathan K. Dodson  $4.99.


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Blogs

We start with few articles for churches in the aftermath of Sutherland Springs. I predict that a church’s security policy is going to become a major factor in choosing where to attend church. First of all here’s the federal government’s most recent advice and resources page for protecting houses of worship.

7 Ways to Prepare Your Church Against Violence
“How then can we prepare for the range of potential violence we may encounter on Sunday mornings? While there are excellent resources and organizations that can help you develop formal and specific plans, here are seven general actions to prepare your church.”

How Your Church Should Prepare for an Active Shooter
Active shooters are a harsh reality of church life today. We can be prayerful. And we can be prepared.

Deranged, Depraved, or Dejected?
A Christian psychiatrist urges us not to add people with mental illness to the “victims” of mass shootings:

In the wake of yet another tragic mass shooting, this time affecting another church, we’re called to reflect again about how to process these events. Many writers have discussed how to grieve, heal, and avoid living in fear following heartbreaking tragedies. Today I want to advocate for a marginalized group often indirectly hurt by the public response to these events: those who struggle with anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, and other emotional difficulties.

Stressed to the Max: How Does God Want Us to Deal With Stress?
“It is possible to be supremely busy without the stress overwhelming us and without getting cranky and Irritable? Can we manage stress biblically? Are Christians even supposed to get stressed? Is it sinful? ”

Why Do You Have a Phone?
“Have you ever thought about giving your phone a mission statement?”

Kindle Books

A Cross-Shaped Gospel: Reconciling Heaven and Earth by Bryan Loritts $2.99.

Better Love Now: Making Your Marriage a Lifelong Love Affair by Tommy Nelson $0.99.

Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ by John F. MacArthur $2.99.


Inspiring Transgender Testimony

Denny Burk recently posted a link to Laura Perry’s incredible testimony. Laura was born a woman but lived as a transgender male for ten years before God brought her to himself. It’s one of the most amazing testimonies I’ve ever heard. The first half is an interview with Laura, with her godly parents joining her for the second half. What a Gospel we have! What a Savior we have!

Don’t make the mistake that I did of listening to this in the car—unless you’ve got some great windscreen wipers.

Laura Perry Interview


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Blogs

God’s Ministry of Disappointment
“Our journey to one day having children has not been blissful, innocent, joyous, or as easy as I expected it to be. It has been a journey of loss, heartbreak, delay, doctor appointments, test results, delays, stress, frustration, more appointments, more delays. Hope seems to be a liability too expensive to carry in the face of so much disappointment.”

Hobbies of Highly Effective People
“Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is one of the most relentlessly competitive leaders you’ll ever encounter. That doesn’t mean he’s burning the midnight oil (even if some of his employees are). “Eight hours of sleep makes a big difference for me, and I try hard to make that a priority. For me, that’s the needed amount to feel energized and excited,” he told Thrive Global.”

How a Genealogy Changed My Life
“Constantly worried about what people thought of me, and living a selfish life thinking I was the center of the universe. I loved myself so much and expected everyone else to love me as much as I loved myself, but, sadly, they were too busy loving themselves.”

3 Tips for Coping with Today’s Biggest Threat to Mental Health
“Research also shows that loneliness and social isolation are major contributors to addiction and other psychiatric disorders, recovery from which, we now know, largely entails supportive relationships of love and connection.”

Preaching the Psalms to Ourselves
“Preach the Psalms to yourself. As you do, your confidence in the Lord will soar. The result? Your knowledge of Him will grow and you will respond in worship and right living before the Lord. Open your Bible to the Psalms and begin today, preaching the Psalms to yourselves.”

Guns & the Future of Ministry
I own guns and have a CPL, but this is a thought-provoking reflection on the impact guns are having on ministry. Lots of questions but no easy answers.

“”Over the last 10 years,” he said, “the number of guns in our community has exploded. We’re a rural town. People have always had hunting rifles and shotguns, but now everyone has handguns and they carry them everywhere. Even to church.” He warned me before speaking that at least 80 percent of the congregation would be “packing” during my sermon.”

Why We Can Rejoice that Marriage Will End
I find this harder to imagine than my wife does.

“When marriage someday ends, we will agree that God has not subtracted anything, but only added. He has not divided, but united us in an even deeper way. Marriage is a wonderful gift and today we thank God for it. But in that day we will praise him for bringing it to an end so we can experience something even better, the very thing it has been pointing us toward all along. Until then, the joys of marriage direct our eyes to the joys to come.”

Kindle Books

Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds by Chris Brauns $3.99. First class book that may change your life.

The Book that Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization by Vishal Mangalwadi $2.99.

Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Family Members, Close Friends, and Others Who Know You Well by Randy Newman $3.99.


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Blogs

Something to Hate
“While hate is a strong word, it is a necessary word. It is necessary to speak the truth about what is evil. We need to use it to think about, talk about, and act against sin. In doing so, it will help us see sin for what it is: an affront against a holy, perfect, and righteous God. Hating sin helps us take it seriously. It helps us put it in its proper place. When we hate sin, it moves us fight against it, to be alert for its work in our lives, and to put it to death. The opposite of hate is love and if we don’t hate sin and treat it as evil, we will grow to love it.”

The Research Proves The No. 1 Social Justice Imperative Is Marriage
“A consistent and irrefutable mountain of research has shown, reaching back to the 1970s and beyond, that marriage strongly boosts every important measure of well-being for children, women, and men. Pick any measure you can imagine: overall physical and mental health, income, savings, employment, educational success, general life contentment and happiness, sexual satisfaction, even recovery from serious disease, healthy diet and exercise. Married people rate markedly and consistently better in each of these, and so many more, compared to their single, divorced, and cohabiting peers. Thus, marriage is an essential active ingredient in improving one’s overall life prospects, regardless of class, race, or educational status.”

Let Me Show You What Postpartum Depression Really Feels Like
“Being a mom not suffering from postpartum depression (PPD) has been an illuminating experience. After suffering from it with my first two children, I am sure I technically have PPD with my third child, but I am on medication that controls my symptoms so well that I function as a healthy neurotypical person.”

Elijah’s Tree Ministry for Discouraged Ministers
“Elijah’s Tree exists to provide God-centered, Christ-magnifying, Scripture-saturated, confidential, and accessible shepherding and spiritual refreshment for discouraged, burned out, wounded and hurting pastors, pastoral couples, chaplains, and missionaries.”

Emotional Intelligence, a Critical Trait of a Church Replanter
The four characteristics of emotional intelligence that we cover in this episode are:

  1. Self-awareness: The ability to know yourself and your emotions, not as you wish they were, but as they really are.
  2. Self-regulation: The wisdom and ability to understand the impact you have when you take action or refrain from action.
  3. Social awareness: The ability to read other people and understand their emotions.
  4. Relationship management: The ability to incorporate the other 3 skills to navigate and build positive relationships with all types of people.

Columns from Tabletalk Magazine, November 2017
“The November issue of Tabletalk considers the biblical teaching on leadership. Our nature as human beings is to seek out leaders to set a course for us and direct us in accomplishing things, and as Christians we are designed to seek leaders who will motivate us to do excellently for the sake of the kingdom of God. Yet in the workplace, the church, and the home, good leaders are often scarce. Further, we see leaders fail, and we often resist following our appointed leaders. These problems indicate that while we know we need leaders and that many of us should become leaders, we have a deficient understanding of what godly leadership actually is. This issue examines the biblical concept of leadership so as to help equip believers to be better leaders and followers in the various spheres of life.”

Whatever Is Lovely: How to Overcome Demanding Thoughts
“When we are struggling with distracting, demanding thoughts and emotions, God wants us to know that we are not victims who must simply endure the miserable ride on the train of our thoughts. He wants us to seize the controls he’s given us, switch tracks, and head in a faithful, joyful direction.”

Conversations through 95 Theses – Reflections on a Facebook Live Q&A
I’ve rarely seen such a sustained, charitable, and reasonable critique.

Kindle Books

Pursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling Our Conflicts by Robert D. Jones $3.99.

Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing by Andy Crouch $2.99.

The Life of God in the Soul of the Church: The Root and Fruit of Spiritual Fellowship by Thabiti Anyabwile $2.99.