If you are preparing a sermon for Sunday, read Writing naked first. Extract: “My best tip is this: buy a cheap digital recorder. Say what you want to say, as if the person you seek to persuade is standing there, listening. Then type that up. Simplify. Send.” (Substitute “Preach”)
How can I develop spiritual discernment? Tim Challies answers:
Important conversation between Kevin DeYoung and Tullian Tchividjian about the role of effort in sanctification. Once again, Kevin manages to think my thoughts more clearly and express them more articulately. It’s a weird and humbling feeling.
Key sentence from Kevin: “I agree sanctification requires the fight of faith to believe this scandalous good news of the gospel of justification. I disagree that this is the only kind of effort required in sanctification.”
The truth about anti-depressants
Well, it’s not the whole truth, but this is a helpful and simply graphical presentation about anti-depressant medication. And while we are on the subject, here’s an important post by Phil Monroe, a Christian Psychologist, on how to begin bridging the divide between various Christian counseling camps.
Perhaps Reformed theology in general and Presbyterianism in particular are especially vulnerable to regarding intellectual achievement as identical with qualification for office. This is unfortunate. If a man cannot string a decent sentence together from a pulpit, has the personality of a ping-pong ball or the social graces of a pit viper, he will be a disaster in the ministry. The first will simply not be able to preach, the second will not be able to connect with people, and the third — well, we all know such types and we know they only ever seem to grow churches on the basis of similarly angry people leaving the church down the road and coming to join them.
A woman on working with women
Proclamation Trust asked Brenda Beckett, Children and Families worker at All Souls, to give pastors advice for working with paid female staff and unpaid female helpers. (Part two is here).
What a great little book this is for Christians of all ages and stages of maturity. Joe describes it as a book on ‘How to preach to yourself.” I’ve been reading one of the 2-page “Dear Self” meditations every day with my Bible reading. It’s been so profitable and edifying. Here’s a video of Joe talking to Justin Taylor about his book.
The Washington Post’s Steven Pearlstein on the inevitable “revolution” coming to a school or Seminary near you.
And while on the subject of Seminaries, William Evans has a helpful article on how to choose the right one for you. Using his categories, I would describe Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary as (1) A school for pastors, (2) Catechetical, and cheating a bit on (3) I would tick both Confessional & Ecumenical. We adhere to the Three Forms of Unity and the Westminster Standards. But we also have students from all kinds of backgrounds – Continental Reformed, Scottish and American Presbyterian, Baptist, etc.
And Logos’s new e-book store, Vyrso (should have focus-grouped the name!) looks like a great shortcut to Christian e-books. Good prices too.
“To create something great, you have to cut it in half… keep shortening it… and really figure out what really needs to be there.” Jason Fried of 37 Signals on sermon preparation (well, not really, but it could be).
John Cleese, yes that John Cleese, on creativity and productivity.
I shall live for God, not the ministry “Without remaining resolved in steadfast surrender to God, ministers living for the ministry will either leave the ministry, or, what’s worse, the ministry will leave them.” This article by Burk Parsons could revolutionize your ministry. It certainly challenged me.
Learning to grieve Go to the Shepherd’s Notes website and scroll down to five moving posts on the kind of bereavement grief experienced by the parents of disabled children. And while we are on the subject, you won’t want to miss Greg Lucas’ latest post on visiting Jake.
How to organize your library Pastors and students, if you want a guilt-trip, read Andy Naselli on how to organize a theological library. My only hope of attaining to this is in heaven. Seriously though, there are some good tips here. But don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress.
Wrestling with an Angel If you have been blessed by Greg Lucas’s posts at Wrestling with an Angel, then you will certainly want to buy his new book of the same name. And if you need further persuasion, then read his latest blog post about the mysterious communication between God and Greg’s disabled son, Jake.
Salvation Reading List Keith Mathison has an excellent survey of a number of books dealing with the doctrine of salvation in general and Calvinism in particular. He helpfully distinguishes which books would be best for different levels of Christian maturity.
Training Christian Leaders: An urgent need Lots to challenge Seminaries and Churches in Collin Hansen’s interview of David Helm.Mercy Ministries What do you do when individuals appear at your church with begging bowls? Nick Batzig has put together a helpful checklist of advice for churches and Christians in these situations.Stretches to relax brain and body Pastors spend a lot of time sitting at desks in horrible body-twisting postures. Sometimes I go home thinking I was laying bricks all day rather then mining the Word. Here are some stretches to ease the aches and pains (hope this isn’t yoga!).
Online distractions I wonder how many sermons would be better prepared if we had better control of our internet use. Here are Lifehacker’s tips on dealing with online distractions.
Google Instant for the Bible And in case you didn’t have enough potential for online distractions, this is a really neat website for quick Bible references and searches.Take back your free time Pastors who work at home can find it very hard to distinguish between work time and free time. Here are some ways to establish clearer and stronger boundaries.Short bio of R C Sproul Thanks to Burk Parsons for this fascinating insight into R C Sproul’s life and ministry (via Justin Taylor).
Puritan Preaching Innovative and insightful analysis of Puritan Preaching by Joseph Steele.
Death is not Dying Most of you have probably seen this but its huge pastoral usefulness was brought home to me again recently. Rachel passed into glory a few months after this recording.Word Studies I probably shouldn’t do this…but here is how to do Word Studies without knowing Hebrew and Greek (three steps along the top bar). And for the more gifted at biblical languages, here’s a more detailed article on word studies. I found the summaries at the end of each section extremely helpful. The Church’s Mission Martyn Lloyd-Jones quoted by Kevin DeYoung.
Collaborative Sermon Preparation Well I usually agree with Brian Croft; I link to almost everything he posts. But this article confirms to me yet again that we should call no man Master. I don’t think Paul had collaborative sermon preparation in mind in his pastoral epistles.
Ministerial Burnout Two burnt-out pastors have approached me just in the past week. Michael Horton provokes some thought on this subject here and here.
Pastoral Succession Colin Hansen recommends very conscious and deliberate steps to ensure successful transition from one pastor to another. I know where Colin is coming from and sympathize with the motives and aims, of course…but I’m not convinced.