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When Complaining Tears Us Apart | Her.meneutics |
Sociologists say voicing our frustrations brings us together. Scripture offers another way.

Slighting Syria’s Christians | First Things
Why has the US only accepted 53 Christian refugees from Syria in 5 years of conflict?

Pastor or Scholar? Pursue Your Strongest Desire
Interview with Thom Schreiner on how he has combined scholarship with pastoring.

Three Ways to Love Your Imperfect Husband | Desiring God
One for my wife.

Does God Want Me to Excel in What I Do or Who I Am? | IFWE
“God wants his people to excel in both what they do (behavior or good deeds), and who they are (inward character).”

Here’s What The Most Successful People Read And Why | Fastcompany
“A surprising number of the people I speak to don’t read just anything. They read—even obsess over—biographies and autobiographies.”  If you want to start, see two good biographies below.

US Blasts Open Trans Locker Room Doors | The American Conservative
“Ten years ago, if you had said that the federal government was soon going to force public schools to let biological males undress in girls’ locker room, and biological females undress in locker rooms filled with teenage boys, you would have been called some sort of right-wing paranoid.”

Government Should Not Fund Organizations that Kill Innocent Human Beings | HHPR
“Regardless of whether Planned Parenthood has violated the law, and regardless of whether its abortionists or officials should be prosecuted, Planned Parenthood should not be eligible for government funding because it engages in acts of profound injustice against the weakest and most vulnerable members of the human family. The central truth that the recent videos highlight is the humanity of the living being that Planned Parenthood dismembers in abortion. The videos show Planned Parenthood technicians sifting through aborted fetal remains while exclaiming, “It’s a baby!” and “Another boy!”

The value of university: Our first-ever college rankings | The Economist
Four-year non-vocational American colleges, ranked by alumni earnings above expectation.

Kindle Books

The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith by Peter Hitchens $2.99.

Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds by Chris Brauns $2.99. Best book on the subject.

Know the Creeds and Councils by Justin Holcomb $3.99.

New Books

In connection with the documentary video below you can read more about J. I. Packer in two recent books.

J. I. Packer: An Evangelical Life by Leland Ryken $20.99.

Packer on the Christian Life: Knowing God in Christ, Walking by the Spirit by Sam Storms $9.99.


J I Packer in his own words
A beautiful 20 minute documentary on Dr. Packer’s life and legacy.

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Porn Use as Grounds for Divorce: How My Opinion Changed | Covenant Eyes
In the past, when asked if divorce could ever be a viable option for these women, my typical response has been a reluctant no. As much as my heart went out to these women trapped in horrific marriages, I simply didn’t see any biblical justification for divorce in situations of porn use. About a year ago I decided I was going to write my Master’s thesis about this topic and had intended to write a robust biblical defense of my position. I never imaged for a minute I would come to the opposite conclusion.”

Church, Stop Doing so Many Good Things | Prince on Preaching
“In most church situations you will do more by doing less.”

Recommended Resources on the Decalogue: Part 2 | Credo
And here’s part one.

My Top Ten Favorite Books on the Authority of Scripture | Canon Fodder
Michael Kruger’s annotated bibliography for the best books on the authority of Scripture.

Pastors and Their Bucket Lists | Zack Eswine
“It’s possible for ministry leaders to desire greatness in ways no different from anyone, anywhere in our culture. Attaching Jesus’s name to these desires doesn’t change the fact that they look just like the cravings of the world.”

Five Ways to Stop Spending Time Managing Time | Desiring God
“While in no way exhaustive, here are five applications Christians might employ for buying back time for the purposes for which they were given it by God.”

Is It Even Possible to Have a Christian View of Productivity? | What’s Best Next
Matt has re-launched his blog with a new look and focus.

Letter to the Catholic Academy | The New York Times
Ross Douthat declares war on liberal Roman Catholic professors.

Declining Student Resilience: A Serious Problem for Colleges | Psychology Today
College personnel everywhere are are struggling with students’ increased neediness.

Recommended New Book

Augustine on the Christian Life: Transformed by the Power of God by Gerald Bray.

Kindle Books

$30 off top of the line Kindle models here.

Pray for the Flock: Ministering God’s Grace Through Intercession by Brian Croft and Ryan Fullerton $3.99.

Comfort the Grieving: Ministering God’s Grace in Times of Loss by Paul Tautges $3.99.

Tributes to John Calvin: A Celebration of His Quincentenary $1.99.


Piano Guys + Scotland + Bagpipes = Lots of Tears
I was a pastor in this area of Scotland, Wester Ross, for almost five years. Brings back lots of memories.

A Church Transforming Proverb

If there’s one thing that would transform our churches, it’s the application of the simple principle in these two proverbs:

He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him (Proverbs 18:13).

The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him (Proverbs 18:17).

What does this mean in practice? Here’s an example:

When your elders are dealing with a dispute or a case of discipline, they are bound to confidentiality. The person or people who are at the center of the controversy often do not exercise such self-restraint and will talk to others inside and outside of the church, presenting their side of the story and their opinions about how the elders have been dealing with them.

What should you do if you are one of the people that hears just that one side of the story?

You should start by saying this to the person: “If I express an opinion about this without hearing the other side of the story, the Bible says that I am a fool and a disgrace. You don’t want me to be that, do you?”

(I’d like to add that Q&A to every catechism that exists and make memorization of it compulsory).

You then have a choice between two options about what to say next:

Option 1: ”I trust the elders to get this right and I would encourage you to plead your cause before the elders rather than going around pleading your own cause in their absence. If I hear of you continuing to present only one side of the story, I will have no option but to inform the elders that this is happening.”

Option 2: “Would you free the elders from their commitment to confidentiality so that they can share with me the results of their examination of your case? That way I will avoid falling into folly and disgrace by expressing an opinion without knowing both sides.”

If we actually followed the Bible’s teaching on this, so many churches would have so much more peace.

Elders should also make clear to anyone in dispute with them, or in the midst of a disciplinary process, that they will maintain confidentiality and expect the person to to the same. However, they should also warn the person that if they abuse the benefit of that commitment, they forfeit the privilege of it.

Another Example

This Proverb also applies to less formal situations — ordinary, everyday relationships. For example, I once had a Christian friendship that was growing increasingly close and mutually beneficial (I thought). And then it suddenly went cold. Stone cold. It was so painful and I just couldn’t understand it. I probed gently to see if I had offended him in any way but made no progress. There was clearly no desire on his part to maintain the relationship.

Some months later I found out that a Christian I had crossed swords with many years before had poisoned the brother’s mind against me with lies. Yet my “friend” never asked my side of the story. I thought about trying, but then remembered Proverbs 18:13 and concluded that it was not a “friendship” worth having.

So, please, please, please, the next time someone comes to you with a “story” about someone, don’t be so foolish as to believe it without asking for the other side. Instead, say, “I know you would not want me to be a Proverbs 18:13 fool, so would you mind if I asked this person for his/her side of the story?” That wouldn’t just be church-transforming; it would be world-transforming.

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Simple Secrets to Improve Your Eye Contact
These tips on how to produce more AND better eye-contact in public speaking apply also to preaching.

This might be the key to a happy marriage | USA Today
After interviewing 468 married individuals on relationship satisfaction, covering everything from communication habits to finances, they found that the “most consistent significant predictor” of happy marriages was whether one’s spouse expressed gratitude. 

10 Ways that Satan Loves to Watch Marriages Fall Apart | Biblical Counseling Coalition
“We don’t need Satan to ruin our marriage. We do plenty of unhelpful thingson our own to ruin our marriages. I’m sure Satan enjoys having a front row seat, watching our folly and foolishness.”

Particle Board Preaching | Nick Batzig
“Particle board preaching, like particle board furniture, looks attractive from the outside to many, seems affordable and convinces us that it will get the job done; however, we can be absolutely sure of one thing–nothing about it will last.”

5 Ways to Deepen Your Preaching | Gavin Ortlund
Much good direction here, for example: “It isn’t enough, then, to proclaim truth clearly. You must connect that truth to the struggles of real life—whatever issues are most entangling and hindering the people right in front of you. And to do so effectively you need not only courage and wisdom, but also deep enough relationships to know what those issues are.”

Delighting in Death? | Carl R. Trueman
Carl wrestles with what has frequently puzzled me: “What I cannot understand, however, is the way so many see abortion as a badge of honor and a source of pride and joy. To argue that abortion is a tragic but necessary evil is one thing; it is quite another to smile for the camera while wearing a tee-shirt which proudly boasts that you have had one.”

10 Convictions About Labor and Birth from a Christian Worldview | Gloria Furman
I was surprised by how much material there is in the Bible around this subject.

Kindle Books

The Betrayal: A Novel on John Calvin by Douglas Bond $0.99.

Sermons That Shaped America: Reformed Preaching from 1630 to 2001 $1.99.

Management Essentials for Christian Ministries $2.99. If you can’t pick up a few worthwhile tips from a book like this, you must be in heaven.

Salvation by Grace: The Case for Effectual Calling and Regeneration by Matthew Barrett $0.99.

Recommended New Book

Expository Apologetics: Answering Objections with the Power of the Word by Voddie Baucham


Why Abortion is Unjust Discrimination

The Power of Rest: Why Sleep is Not Enough

The Power of Rest: Why Sleep Alone Is Not Enough. A 30-Day Plan to Reset Your Body by Matthew Edlund M.D. Special Kindle price for limited time of $1.99.

I’ve been benefitting from this book’s comprehensive view of rest. As the sub-title says, “Why sleep alone is not enough.” But it is an important foundation as Edlund outlines in chapter 1. Here’s a summary:

1. Sleep Is Necessary for Weight Control

From 2003 to 2009 multiple population studies around the world have shown that people who sleep fewer than seven hours, especially those getting fewer than six hours of sleep, gain appreciable weight. In the small-scale, short-term studies done in 2008, sleeping an extra thirty to sixty minutes a night decreased weight. Some people rapidly shed ten to fifteen pounds.

2. Sleep Is Required for Memory and Learning

The better you sleep, the more you learn.  The deeper the sleep the better our learning. But research at Harvard has shown that short periods of daytime sleep— even as short as a six-minute nap— can improve memory.

3. Sleep Is Needed to Prevent Major Clinical Depression

When people sleep enough, their mood quickly improves.  And getting enough sleep should also go a long way toward preventing major clinical depression, an illness whose rates have been doubling and tripling among Americans over the last thirty years.

4. Sleep Is Required to Grow New Brain Cells

This has only been discovered in the past few years, overthrowing years of scientific dogma.

5. Sleep Is Needed to Avoid Colds and Fight Off Infection

Rest is more than restoration. Rest is on the front lines of your infection defense system. It keeps your immune system going. Rest prevents infection. Rest well, stay well.

6. Enough Sleep Prevents Plaque from Forming in Your Arteries, Preventing Heart Attack and Stroke

Arterial plaque is the basis of the majority of heart attacks and strokes, and fortunately for us, good sleep can prevent its even getting started.

7. Proper Sleep Is Required to Maintain and Strengthen the Inner Clocks That Regulate Our Lives

It doesn’t really matter when you sleep; what does matter is the regularity of your pattern, when you wake and when you sleep. Your clocks are regular in their timing for a reason. Life is rhythmic. So is sleep. To know when to sleep, it pays to know a little about your own inner music.

The Power of Rest: Why Sleep Alone Is Not Enough. A 30-Day Plan to Reset Your Body by Matthew Edlund M.D. $1.99.

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The Slow Death of the University | The Chronicle of Higher Education
ome of this is rather quaint but there are good points in it. “As professors are transformed into managers, so students are converted into consumers.”

Key Works by Abraham Kuyper Available in English for the First Time | LogosTalk
Just for Logos users, unfortunately.

Activism, Apathy, or Affliction? | Gentle Reformation
ow should Christians respond to anti-Christian legislation? James Faris’s answer: “Those in leadership should give serious consideration to leading God’s people to the throne of grace in days of fasting and prayer.”

19 Turning Points in the History of Philosophy and Theology | TGC
Such a helpful teaching aid.

Pastoral PTSD | For The Church
“My church became a street-fight and I wasn’t ready. As if it weren’t bad enough that people left by the dozens and the church finances went cliff diving in shallow water, the personal attacks were jarring.”

Liberal Churches Most Discriminatory | Secular Right
“Mainline Protestant churches—who generally embrace liberal, egalitarian attitudes toward race relations—actually demonstrated the most discriminatory behavior.”

New Book

J. I. Packer: An Evangelical Life by Leland Ryken. The subject and the author make a wonderful combination.

Kindle Books

Theology of the Reformers by Timothy George $2.99

The Five Points of Calvinism: A Study Guide by Edwin Palmer $0.99

Love the Home You Have by Melissa Michaels $2.99. “This is your invitation to fall in love with the home you have and embrace the gifts of life, people, and blessings right where you are”

And one for the men :)

The Savior Generals: How Five Great Commanders Saved Wars That Were Lost – From Ancient Greece to Iraq by Victor Davis Hanson $1.99

And here’s a classic.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield $1.99 (almost 2,000 reviews on Amazon)


From Guillain Barry Syndrome to Happy Ever After

What an incredibly inspiring story. The music is a bit intrusive but you can turn it down and still get the story. I noticed there’s a book version of the story too: Happily Ever After: My Journey with Guillain-Barré Syndrome and How I Got My Life Back.

At the age of 26, less than 3 weeks after giving birth to her first child, Holly was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder, called Guillain-Barre syndrome. It started with a pain in her neck and a weakness in her legs, and within 12 hours, she could no longer walk anymore. Within 72 hours, she was completely paralyzed and could no longer breathe on her own anymore. But watch this for the happiest of endings.