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4 Reasons Preachers Must Find Their Own Voice
“In his classic book, Lectures To My Students, Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Scarcely one man in a dozen in the pulpit talks like a man.” This is a problem all too common today. Some preachers feel inclined to take certain routes in their sermon preparation, leaving them to be very unnatural in their delivery, as if they are trying to be something, or someone, else.”

The Intellectual Roots of the Sexual Revolution
Succinct excellence, as usual, from Al Mohler

The Pastor’s PTSD
“When I compare a pastor’s pain with PTSD, I am not equating church stresses with the terrors of war. But when you get inside the causes and symptoms of PTSD, you can find parallels.”

How the Percentage of Americans Who Go to Church Every Week Is Changing
Well this is pathetic, especially when you consider the lengths people go to to get to kids sporting events.

“A new survey suggests the logistics of going to services can be the biggest barrier to participation—and Americans’ faith in religious institutions is declining.”

Help Me Teach the Bible: Rosaria Butterfield on Teaching with Openness, Unhindered
Nancy Guthrie and Rosaria Butterfield discuss teaching the Bible to people who are angry and skeptical, yet wanting to discover if the Bible is credible, what has to say, and what it demands.

What Causes Us To Worry?
This is a wonderfully balanced and holistic look at the factors that contribute to worry.

Kindle Books

God and the Nations by Henry Morris $2.99.

Relationships: A Mess Worth Making by Tim Lane and Paul Tripp $2.99.

Beneath the Surface: My Story by Michael Phelps $1.99. A bit dated but a good weekend read for $1.99.


Sanctification and the Christian Life: A Google Hangout with Sinclair Ferguson and Burk Parsons

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Report Debunks ‘Transgender’ Label For Kids
This is a must-read as a new report, based upon science, debunks many of the myths being propagated about human sexuality.

Have Lots Of Children. It’s Good For The Planet
Dismantles the environmentalists’ case for protecting our kids by not having them.

Having Mental Illness Is Like Being In Fight Club
“If you really want to help those who are struggling, don’t assume they’re sinning. Listen. Ask questions. Ask them what it feels like. Pray for them. Be present with them. Don’t prescribe solutions. There may be a time for that, but certainly not right away.”

The Pressure Of The Pastorate
“The #1 mistake I see pastors make is living in isolation. We don’t mean to, but we just get busy, overcommitted, overextended, exhausted, and sometimes even numb. After a long week of ministry, many of us just want to go home and binge on Netflix or self-medicate in some other way. What’s missing in the lives of many megachurch pastors I know is genuine friendship, camaraderie, koinonia, and intimacy. We are missing relationships that are FOR us and WITH us, not just BEHIND us or UNDER us.”

The Effects of Hostility and Betrayal upon the Mind and Body
“Sadly, hostility and betrayal are part of the human experience and even the Christian life. Hardly a week goes by that God does not have me minister to someone who is experiencing this kind of pain in some form. But I can say, for myself, that experiencing hostility and betrayal in the past has changed me. It has made me a different, more compassionate pastor (I hope); and more effective counselor (I think), as does the continued study of the most honest book in the Bible—the book of Psalms.”

Ministry is Discouragement
“My point is simply to say that ministry forces us to face discouragement, to learn to minister through it and even to rejoice in it–and not just once or twice but continually over the course of our lives. Whatever else we may face in ministry, we can be assured that we will face discouragement. It is a constant. And that is why I oftentimes say that ministry is discouragement.”

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.

Three excellent books for a combined total of $10! That’s a ton of reading, education, edification, and, hopefully, sanctification for the cost of a couple of Starbucks. Plus, there’s a great sale at Reformation Heritage Books with up to 70% of Christian Focus books.

A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Loving the Old Testament by Alec Motyer $1.99.

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

Humilitas: A Lost Key to Love, Life, and Leadership by John Dickson $3.99.


The Next 500 Years
Here’s a neat video promoting Ligonier’s next national conference, March 9-11, 2017.

The Difference Between Perfectionism and Excellence

What’s the difference between a healthy will to excel and perfectionism?

According to Allan Mallinger in Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets Out of Controlthe perfectionist’s credo is:

1. If I always try my very best and if I’m alert and sharp enough, I can avoid error, everyday blunders, oversights, and poor decisions or choices.

 2. I must never make mistakes because they would show that I’m not as competent as I should be.

3. By being perfect, I can ensure my own security with others. They will admire me and will have no reason to criticize or reject me. 

4. My worth depends on how “good” I am, how smart I am, and how well I perform (pp. 37-38).

Based upon Mallinger’s explanation and many of my own observations, we can distinguish perfectionism from a healthy will to excel (excellence) in the following ways:

  • Perfectionism is rigid; excellence is flexible.
  • Perfectionism is self-defeating; excellence is health-giving.
  • Perfectionism never satisfies; excellence gives pleasure.
  • Perfectionism is impossible; the desire to excel is usually possible.
  • Perfectionism does not distinguish between performing heart-surgery and washing dishes; excellence recognizes that some activities require more attention than others.
  • Perfectionism cannot bear criticism; excellence seeks it and tries to grow through it.
  • Perfectionism views failure as catastrophic; excellence views it as part of learning.
  • Perfectionism procrastinates because of the fear of failing; excellence does what can be done each day.
  • Perfectionism prefers safety to risk and rarely moves out of the comfort zone; excellence is more prepared to try new jobs and accept new challenges.
  • A perfectionist must be right all the time; excellence accepts correction from others.
  • A perfectionist’s sense of worth depends on perfect performance; excellence does not tie their identity to performance.
  • A perfectionist can only see what’s lacking in a job or relationship; excellence sees what is good and enjoyable.
  • A perfectionist clutters their communications (and sermons?) with too much boring and unnecessary detail (for fear of leaving anything out); excellence communicates with less detail but with more clarity, color, and effectiveness.
  • A perfectionist might admit to general failings but refuses to be specific; excellence faces up to to both general and specific faults.
  • A perfectionist is hyper-defensive of self and hyper-critical of others; excellence is more tolerant of others failings, having accepted and faced up to their own.

It’s little wonder then that perfectionists are among the most anxious, stressed, and unhappy people on the planet (and so are those who have to live with them). Next time, we’ll begin to replace the perfectionist’s false and destructive credo with a true and constructive credo.

See previous posts on Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets Out of Control here

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Back-to-School Backpack List (2016) | Redeemed Reader
Some reading suggestions for different ages to kickstart your school year.

Ministry: A Haven for the Lazy and the Workaholic | Eric Geiger
“Sadly, ministry can be a great place to hide out and a great place to burn out…Ministry can be a haven for the lazy and the workaholic.”

If Women Can’t Have it All, Can Men? | Courtney Reissig
“At the end of the day, no one can have it all. We all make sacrifices to do what we want to do most. Perhaps a greater question we should be asking is “where do your priorities lie”? Maybe then we could get to the heart of the matter. ”

This Republican mayor has an incredibly simple idea to help the homeless. And it seems to be working | The Washington Post
Yes, I know it’s hard to believer, but this really is a good news story about a Republican in the Washington Post.

The Best Leadership Quotes from the 5LQ Podcast | The Blazing Center
Chew on one a day.

5 Mistakes Pastors Make in Reaching Men

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.

Seeking the Face of God: Nine Reflections on the Psalms by Martyn Lloyd-Jones $3.99.

White than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy by Paul Tripp $3.99.

Decision-Making and the Will of God by Garry Friesen $1.99.


A Slice of Life at PRTS

Our wonderful librarians, Kim and Laura, organize a book giveaway for students. This is the first film for PRTS shot by our new and hugely talented video producer, Darryl Bradford.

Am I a Controlling Person?

In Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets out of ControlAllen Mallinger asserts that the central dynamic in the obsessive personality is that of control.

Most of us, obsessives included, would allow that life is fundamentally unpredictable. As hard as the best-intentioned, most conscientious person might try, it is impossible to control every aspect of one’s existence; we are vulnerable. Despite such lip service to these truths, however, somewhere near the center of their inner being, far from their conscious awareness, obsessives are trying to deny this reality. Their subtle but constant efforts to control everything in the world around them (and inside them) are an attempt to do the impossible: to guarantee security; to assure safe passage through the risks and uncertainties of living. (8)

The price of this attempt to control is an inability to show or share feelings, reluctance to trust anyone, loneliness, the stress of being perfect in everything, the fear of embarrassment, an over-sensitive conscience, a phobia about trying anything new, and an inability to relax and enjoy the moment.

In pages 10-12 of Too Perfect, Mallinger provides 25 self-test questions. The most piercing and telling in my view are:

2. Is it hard for you to let go of a work project until it’s just right—even if it takes much longer than it should?

4. Is it important to you that your child, spouse, or subordinates at work perform certain tasks in a certain specific manner?

9. Do you have a particularly strong conscience, or do you often feel guilty?

11. Are you especially wary of being controlled, manipulated, overpowered, or “steam-rollered” by others?

12. Is it important for you to get a “good deal” in your financial transactions, or are you often suspicious of being “taken”?

15. Is it hard for you to let yourself be dependent on others, rather than self-reliant? (For instance, are you uneasy about delegating tasks at work or hiring help with taxes or home repairs?)

17. In thinking about some future event, such as a vacation, a dinner party, or a job report, do you dwell upon the things that might go wrong? 18. Do you worry more than most people?

22. Do you feel guilty when you aren’t getting something done, even in your time off (no matter how hard you’ve worked all week)?

The number of “yes’s” is important, but even more so is the question: “Does this characteristic cause difficulties in relationships, work, or leisure activities, or does it interfere with your ability to enjoy life in general?”

To go back to the beginning though, at the root of all this, though often deeply buried in the psyche, is the irrational conviction, the myth, that perfect control can be achieved and can guarantee a safe and successful life. Dealing with that myth requires reason and revelation, but that will have to wait until next week now.

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Why Do You Want to Be Happy?
Randy Alcorn asks why we’re so suspicious of the desire to be happy.

Based on books I’ve read, sermons I’ve heard, and conversations I’ve had, it’s clear many Christians believe that humanity’s desire for happiness was birthed in the fall and is part of the curse. Hence, the desire to be happy is often assumed to be the desire to sin. But what if our desire for happiness was a gift designed by God before sin entered the world? If we believed this, how would it affect our lives, our parenting, our ministry, our entertainment, and our relationships? How would it affect our approach to sharing the gospel?

How to Write a Sermon: A Template
Preachers will always learn something from this kind of post.

How do I get from text to sermon? This is the question in sermon preparation. After preaching for 15 years, I’ve developed a basic pattern that might serve as a helpful resource to others. Call it “Thunome’s Template for Sermon Prep.”

5 Words of Advice for Young Seminarians | TGC
“For those starting college or seminary education, I know it can sometimes be intimidating or overwhelming. And for those who don’t feel a little intimidated or overwhelmed, you may need to prepare yourselves, lest you get caught off-guard by the challenges of your studies and the seminary culture. Maybe the following few words can serve in this regard.”

6 Ways to Smash the Approval Idol
“What’s a chronic people pleaser to do? Here are six ways I’m still learning to fight the idol of approval.”

Why So Many Families Who Want To Adopt Can’t
“Since the dawn of time there have been pregnant women who could not parent the child in their wombs, and there have been infertile couples longing for a family. Never has it been harder to bring those two parties together—birth mother and adoptive parents. The basic problem is the growing scarcity of babies due to culture of abortion.”

New Book

And So I Began to Read…Books that Have Influenced Me by Faith Cook (author of over twenty books) $8.99.

Kindle Books

The Liberator: One World War II Soldier’s 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau by Alex Kershaw $1.99. This is an incredible book, but you’ll need to steel yourself for the horrors of war.


An Update From Our Church Planters In Barlanark, Glasgow
I was born and grew up in the city of Glasgow. These church planters are working in one of the neediest areas of that city.