Head Heart Hand
I’ve been updating my resources pages over the past few weeks and, with the help of my assistant Jo DeBlois, I’ve just finished updating this page on anxiety which starts with books and then goes on to online articles.Books
Anxious: Choosing Faith in a World of Worry by Amy Simpson
Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest by Edward T. Welch.
Anxiety: Anatomy and Cure by Robert W. Kellemen
The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Dr. Edmund J. Bourne
When Panic Attacks: The New, Drug-Free Anxiety Therapy That Can Change Your Life by Dr. David D. Burns
These resources are organized using Paul Tripp’s “Love/Know/Speak/Do” paradigm.
What Depression Taught Me About Biblical Womanhood
PPD is often more complex than this, but this could help many women take some small steps out of the darkness.
Don’t smile it away. Don’t fake it till you make it. Stare right into the face of the darkness and trust that Christ is sufficient to conquer every little thing that you find inside of it — because he is.
Sleep deprived leaders were unaware that their sleep deprivation was harming their working relationship with their employees. Much like a person who has had a little too much to drink and does not realize they will be impaired when driving, sleep deprived leaders are essentially clueless about how their sleep deprivation leads their employees to mistrust and dislike them.
New manual guides church leaders in sexual abuse policies and prevention
The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide for Churches and Ministries is aimed at a Christian audience, though it may be useful to any group that serves youth. The book helps church leaders identify different types of abuse (sexual, physical, emotional, spiritual), learn about state laws and institute safeguards, such as background checks for employees. It guides churches on how to draft a protocol for responding to allegations of abuse and how to support victims.
When Homeschool is Hard
Some wonderful sentences in here. For example:
So the next time someone says, “I don’t know how you do it. You must have the patience of a saint,” perhaps I should say, “Actually, I don’t. But if we keep at it, that might be just what God develops in me!”
An Open Letter to Those Debilitated by Their Sexual Sin | Crossway Articles
Encouraging post for those despairing of their sin, and for those who minister to them.
10 Common but Illegitimate Reasons to Divorce
“God has provided a limited set of circumstances in which a marriage can legitimately be severed. However, many people—even Christians—offer reasons to divorce that are not sanctioned by God. Jim Newheiser helpfully outlines a number of these in his book Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage: Critical Questions and Answers. Here are 10 common but illegitimate reasons to divorce.”
Feeling Forsaken, But Not Forgotten: An Infertility Story
I challenge you to hold back the tears on this one.
The Devil’s Glasses
“How does Satan fool us with lies so that we believe that committing sin will be inconsequential? Here are five of the common ways he distorts our spiritual vision with his lies during temptation.”
The Disciple-Making Parent’s Donut Date Journal: 70 Questions to Connect You to Your Child’s Heart by Chap Bettis, author of the excellent Disciple-Making Parent.
Here’s how Chap describes this new book:
In The Donut Date Journal you will find:
- An easy, fool-proof method for connecting with your child’s heart.
- More than 70 questions you can use to start the conversations.
- Pages to record their answers over the years.
- As easy plan to create a keepsake they will value as adults.
- Parents or Grandparents who want to connect with their children.
- Birthday and baby gifts.
- Children or youth ministers who want to equip their church.
The Scriptures Testify about Me: Jesus and the Gospel in the Old Testament by Don Carson and others $2.99.
The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs by Greg Gilbert and Sebastian Traeger $2.99. An excellent book on connecting the Gospel with our jobs.
The Unbelievable Gospel: Say Something Worth Believing by Jonathan Dodson $2.99.
Every Christian father and mother longs to hear these wonderful words and prays earnestly for that happy day. Yet, it’s so hard to know how to respond when our children eventually utter them.
Some might go to the discouraging extreme of immediate skepticism: “Well, son, there’s a lot more to it than just saying you’re a Christian. We’ll see where you’re at in a couple of years.”
Another danger is simply to accept our child’s profession without any questioning or examination: “Great, we’re all going to heaven now, honey.” This fails to recognize that it’s fearfully common for children to profess faith just to please their parents or to follow others in their peer group.
Perhaps other parents might just accept this as part of the routine of being brought up in a Christian home. There’s happiness, but there’s no surprise, no delight, and no thankfulness for the mercy of God. It may not be said like this, but it’s sometimes the underlying thought: “Of course you’re a Christian, you’ve been raised in a Christian home.”
How then do we balance our joy with realism?
1. Welcome: Our first words should indicate how glad we are to hear this profession of faith. “You know that this is what we’ve prayed for and labored for all these years. We’re just overjoyed that you’re saying these longed-for words. There’s nothing we want more for you than to become a follower of Christ.”
2. Question: Without turning it into a suspicion-filled interrogation, we should then ask a number of questions — first experiential and then doctrinal.
The experiential questions should be framed in a way that communicates affirmation rather than hesitation: “Can you share with us what God has done in your life? How did you come to this faith in Christ? Who or what played a role in it? What impact has it made upon you? What’s changed most?”
The doctrinal questions should focus on the content of the faith. What is our child’s view of sin, of God, and of Christ? What or who are they putting their faith in? What is their understanding of repentance? What emphasis do they put on the cross? The questioning should be a gentle and joyful exploration of what they believe.
Both the experiential and doctrinal questions will either help us to enter into the joy of our child and worship God’s sovereign work of saving grace in their life, or else they might flag up some worrying misunderstandings and confusion for further discussion at a later date.
3. Patience: Even if our children have given “wrong answers” to our questions, we should not immediately write them off and conclude that this is a counterfeit faith. There can be much confusion, error, and misunderstanding in young believers. We must exercise patient charity over coming weeks and months to see if they are teachable and receptive to gentle correction and discipleship in these areas.
And even if our children give all the right answers, we still need to exercise patience to see if this is a genuine work of God. Some children from Christian homes can say all the right things without personally experiencing conversion. With them, we need to patiently wait to see if their lives will match their lips.
4. Teach: This is a time that is ripe for teaching our children. If this is a true work of God, their hearts will be tender and impressionable. Let’s especially encourage them to get into the habit of daily Bible reading, perhaps using Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids. As Jesus said: “If you continue in my Word, then are you my disciples indeed” (John 8:31). The Word is the best discerner and revealer of hearts and it will help our children discover for themselves where they truly are before God.
5. Challenge: Once we have laid the groundwork of positively welcoming this profession, hearing their spiritual experience, and patiently waiting for God’s Spirit and Word to work, we can begin to challenge our kids about what may be inconsistent with their profession of faith. Often this is in the area of their relationship to their siblings. We might quote “For he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (1 John 4:20). If God is savingly at work in our children’s lives, then their relationships with their brothers and sisters will be changed for the better. Loving siblings is one of the most humbling, testing, and revealing of challenges for kids who have become Christians.
Worship or Warning
As time passes, and the child goes on in the faith, we will hopefully be able to rejoice more and more heartily in God’s gracious work in their life. This is especially true as they navigate the teen years. This is when childhood faith will be truly tested. As the teen years pass, it get’s harder and harder to be a Christian, as temptations multiply both inside and outside the child. But there can be no greater joy than to see our children walking in the truth through these years (3 John 4).
If, however, there is little or no evidence of that work, if the child remains as he or she was before, or if the teen temptations sweep them away, then we need to lovingly warn them that many say, “Lord, Lord!” but don’t do the things that he says (Luke 6:46). If a child is truly born again, they will love God not the world. The Apostle John guides us to the right balance of warning and encouragement:
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:15-17).
Lots to catch up on after my week of teaching at Westminster Seminary.
On Knowing When to Resign
Best article I’ve read on the subject of pastoral resignations. File it away for the day you’ll need it.
Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?
If you haven’t yet read this, you need to:
More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.
Our Wedding Date Is Set — Why Not Have Sex Now?
Sadly and badly needed.
12 Basic Principles for Faith and Work
Transform your Monday morning.
4 Money Principles for Millennials
Being a long-time Dave Ramsey listener, I’m not shocked by these stats.
How did millennials get into so much financial trouble? They’ve received little financial training, college tuition has skyrocketed during their lifetimes, and student loans have become as easy to get as candy canes on Christmas. This combination of factors has landed many millennials in debt, unable to achieve their goals. With all this debt, it’s harder to buy a home, own a car, save for retirement, and start a family. Many millennials are asking how they can make a difference in the world when they can barely make their debt payments.
Why Does It Take an Eclipse to Get Us to Look Up to the Heavens?
You don’t ned to be in the path of today’s eclipse to wonder and worship:
Let’s not wait until the next eclipse to stop and pause and wonder. Look up to the heavens, and then look further up, until you find joy in the God who enjoys his handiwork.
Today, More than Ever, Read Beyond the Headlines
To paraphrase Hosea 13:9: “O media, you have destroyed yourselves.”
I’m not sure the news will ever be the same after the presidency of Donald Trump. While the industry has already been in a long decline, it seems to have entered into an era of near-insanity as the networks and websites compete against one another to set new standards in thoughtless, bloviating reporting. Whether those networks love or hate the president, they seem to be tripping over themselves and one another to say the most the fastest, to constantly editorialize on every decision, every step, every misstep. Reading the news has become a grueling, exasperating chore. Watching it has become almost unbearable.
Walking Through It: A Family Violence Survivor’s Reflection
The basics of how to help victims of domestic abuse.
A New Set of Priorities for Our Kids
“We must intentionally teach our children the skills and character traits they’ll need to thrive in college and beyond. We must teach them about their need for three things in particular: passion, humility, and trust in a sovereign God.”
Amazon are offering significant discounts on a number of Kindle devices.
God’s Love Compels Us: Taking the Gospel to the World by Don Carson and others $2.99.
Too Good to be True by Michael Horton $4.99.
Beating the College Debt Trap: Getting a Degree Without Going Broke by Alex Chediak $1.99.New Book
For those who are asking, here’s the syllabus for the D.Min. course I’m teaching at Westminster Seminary (Philadelphia) this week.
To investigate how the Scriptures shape a distinctive model of counseling among believers in the local church.
Degree Program Learning Goals
This course is designed to contribute to the following D.Min. program learning goals:
(1) Demonstrate the ability to be a reflective practitioner through interrelating counseling theory and practice.
(2) Demonstrate how an advanced understanding of one’s counseling ministry should be derived from the various exegetical and theological disciplines.
Course Learning Goals
As a result of this course you should be able to:
(1) Describe the distinctive characteristics of biblical counseling.
(2) Identify the essential steps in the biblical counseling process.
(3) Practice the skills used by biblical counselors.
(4) Evaluate your level of competence in the skills used by biblical counselors.
(5) Create a vision for how counseling functions within the life of a congregation.
The class will meet on the Campus of Westminster Theological Seminary from August 14-18. Exact times and venue TBA. The course will be divided into three main sections:
THE PRINCIPLES OF COUNSELING
An examination of the distinctive characteristics of biblical counseling:
- The Counselor’s Self-Knowledge
- The Counselor’s God
- The Counselor’s Bible
- The Counselor’s (and Counselee’s) Humanity
- The Counselor’s Qualifications
- The Counselor’s Church/Community
- The Counselor’s World
THE PROCESS OF COUNSELING
A step-by-step explanation of the essential steps in the counseling process.
THE PRACTICE OF COUNSELING
The principles and process of counseling in practice. A brief look at what biblical counseling looks like in practice via various counseling scenarios, together with some practical examples via role-playing.
The class will meet from August 14-18 as follows:
Monday 14 Aug: 1- 6pm
Tuesday 15 Aug: 8.30am-12.30pm, 2-6pm
Wednesday 16 Aug: 8.30am-12.30pm, 2-6pm
Thursday 17 Aug: 8.30am-12.30pm, 2-6pm
Friday 18 Aug: 8.30am-12.30pm
Prepare a script of a multi-session counseling scenario which narrates a dialogue between you and a counselee (real, based on reality, or imaginary), with footnotes explaining the reasoning behind your approach, questions, responses, decisions, homework, etc.
1. All you know before the first counseling session is what the person’s name is and that they are coming to you for counseling. You have to “discover” everything else in the counseling sessions.
2. Demonstrate in the dialogue how you would introduce yourself, welcome the counselee, explain your approach to counseling, initiate the conversation about the counselee’s problem, etc. You may choose any common counseling problem (e.g. depression, anxiety, sexual abuse, pornography, conflict, bereavement, anger, etc.).
3. There should be a minimum of 3-4 counseling sessions, each of which demonstrate knowledge of the principles and process of biblical counseling and skill in applying the Bible’s teaching to particular problems.
4. Each session should be set out as a dialogue between the counselor and counselee. Use footnotes to highlight where you are applying your counseling knowledge, and to explain what you are doing and why. Footnotes should also explicitly demonstrate what you learned from the lectures and from the books on the required reading list. You may wish to conclude each session dialogue with a summary reflection on what you learned and what you wish to teach others from it.
5. Although it may be helpful to get input from another party (e.g. the counselee’s spouse), in the interests of simplicity, try to keep such dialogue to a minimum for the purposes of this exercise or simply summarize what you may have discovered from other sources.
6. Be realistic by showing where you made mistakes in your counseling and how you hope to learn from them in future sessions.
7. Come to the classroom module with a rough draft of the first two sessions already prepared. You may submit this draft to the lecturer between August 14-18 for input and feedback. Use the class lectures to further refine these dialogues and be prepared to present your draft to the class if called upon. You will not be graded on this part of the assignment.
8. The sessions should demonstrate that your counseling is effecting change in the counselee’s life. However, it is not necessary to have a “happy ending.” The paper should conclude with a plan for future care for the counselee.
9. The assignment should be submitted into the online classroom by November 15 using the appropriate upload link.
10. The ultimate aim is to produce a counseling dialogue that can be used as a teaching tool, by you and your fellow students, for training counselors in a local church.
Read two of the following three books. Demonstrate in the counseling scenario assignment that you have read two of the books by explicitly referencing them and interacting with them in the footnotes (indicating agreement and disagreement).
Gospel-Centered Counseling by Bob Kellemen (Zondervan, 2014)
Gospel Conversations by Bob Kellemen (Zondervan, 2015)
A Theology of Biblical Counseling by Heath Lambert (Zondervan, 2015).
Imagine your favorite coffee. Over thirty years, you’ve bought it hundreds of times and you’ve drunk it thousands of times. It’s comforted you, fueled you, and stimulated multiple friendships with fellow coffee connoisseurs.
Then, one day, you get an invite to the coffee plantation in Columbia to see and savor where the beans are planted, grown, harvested, dried, and ground before being sent many miles away to your local store. It’s hard to believe that you’re going to the source of so much caffeinated goodness.
That’s how I feel this morning as I travel to Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia to teach a Doctor of Ministry course on “Counseling and Christian Ministry.” It’s my first trip to Westminster and a deeply moving one because of all the profit and pleasure I’ve gained from the teachers and teaching of Westminster since I was converted about thirty years ago.
I can’t count the Westminster professors I’ve studied under from afar via cassette, mp3, and innumerable books. Going all the way back to the original founders right up to the present day faculty, they have comforted me, energized me, and stimulated multiple spiritual conversations with friends over the years. And now I get to visit the plantation! So much Reformed goodness! I’ll try not to overdose.
I hope to post some updates as the week progresses, but the days are long and quite intense, so blogging might be a bit patchy.
I’m in the process of updating my resources pages for various subjects. These pages include book recommendations and the most helpful articles I’ve found on each subject. Here’s the updated addictions page.Book Recommendations
Help! I want to change by Jim Newheiser
Breaking the Addictive Cycle: Deadly Obsessions or Simple Pleasures by David Powlison
Divine Intervention: Hope and Help for Families of Addicts by Mark E. Shaw
Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave: Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel by Edward T. Welch. Here’s the accompanying workbook.
‘Just One More’: When Desires Don’t Take No for an Answer by Edward T. Welch.
Three Lessons Learned: Reflections of a Rookie Counselor
Not just for rookies either.
Parents Need To Get Serious About Saving Kids From Internet Addiction
“Forcing teens to turn off their phones isn’t about being cruel or Luddite. It’s about saving them from dangerous addiction—before it’s too late.”
The One Trait Every Leader MUST Possess
“I’ve meditated quite a bit on this question: What is a leader’s most important trait? Is it charisma? Is it intelligence? Is it wisdom? Is it people skills? Well, while I believe there are many traits and qualities a great leader must possess, there’s one that stands out among all others. In fact, the longer I think about it, I quickly realize that most every trait builds on this one trait! A leader’s most important trait is….”
A Theology of Vacationing
“Rest times and vacations are not meant to be an opportunity to get away from Christ – especially if we feel ‘he is our work’ day in and day out – but, rather, to enjoy him under different circumstances and in a different way. Pastors easily fall into the trap of relating to Jesus only on a professional basis. But he wants us to know him as our Friend – one who gives us theological warrant to enjoy our vacations!”
A Spiritual Brotherhood
“There are many others ways in which “God does great things when ordinary ministers of the gospel are bound together as blood brothers, to live and die together.” If Gospel ministers would ask God to increase in their hearts and minds a desire to intentionally integrate themselves into such spiritual brotherhoods, I am certain that we would be encouraged and astonished by what great things God will do through them. ”
The Benefit of Pairing Digital and Analog to Manage Your Day – Michael Hyatt
“When it comes to planning our time, reviewing our goals, and tracking our tasks, we basically have three options. Full digital. You can do everything with a digital solution such as Nozbe, Todoist, or Evernote. Full analog. You can do everything with a paper-based system such as a Bullet Journal, Day Runner, or the Full Focus Planner™. Hybrid system. You can do some things digitally and some things on paper. Obviously, you need to use what works for you. But there are some major drawbacks to the first two.”
Here’s why it feels like you have no free time, in one chart
“Compared to 2007, when screens ate up mere minutes of our free time, the ratio has now flipped. Practically all of people’s free time goes toward screens of some sort, Alter’s research has found. ”
Game of Dethroning Sexual Sin
“What are we to do, then, when it comes to fix a limit on what a Christian should and should not watch? Is drawing such a line tantamount to fundamentalism? Are we to simply chalk everything up to a case of personal liberty of conscience? Is it legitimate to compare the sex in the Bible to the sex in a show like Game of Thrones? We must ask and answer these and related questions, if we are to get to the bottom of a Christian ethic regarding what we watch and what we are to abstain from watching. ”
One Week Only: Subscribe to Tabletalk for $20
“For one week only, you can subscribe to Tabletalk for $20. Each month, you’ll receive articles from trusted teachers on a variety of topics related to theology and Christian living. Upcoming themes will provide biblical wisdom on important topics like the Reformation, leadership, and the Temple.”
A Well-Spent Sabbath
“in an age of frenetic and unrelenting busyness, when technology allows us to stay plugged in to the world twenty-four-seven, when entertainment becomes the de facto purpose of so many lives, nothing could be more countercultural, nor bear more eloquent testimony to a Christian’s citizenship in another world, than a well-spent Lord’s Day.”
Growing in Christ by J I Packer $3.19.
A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World by John Stonestreet $4.99.
True Community by Jerry Bridges $2.99.
Let me introduce you to seven men who will give us a guided tour of Romans 3:9-31.
Mr. Goodness hardly needs an introduction. We are all born hand in hand with him, know him well, and like him. After all, he tells us how good we are. And if we have any doubts, he helps us to find excuses, blame others, or find others that we can still look good beside.
As Mr. Goodness is extremely experienced, persuasive, and skillful, Paul spends the first few chapters of Romans attacking him with the sharp sword of Scripture. And in Romans 3:9-18 he “goes for the jugular” with thrust after thrust of multiple verses proving universal human sinfulness: “None righteous, no not one… none who understands… none who seeks after God…they have all turned aside… etc.”
With Mr. Goodness slumped on the floor, Mr. Guilty enters the room. And when Mr. Guilty enters the room, every mouth is stopped (3:19). Without defense, alibi, or excuse, we stop arguing with God.
Mr. Guilty drags us again and again to Mr. Law (we’ll look at him a bit later), who presents us with two documents: precepts to be obeyed and penalties to be suffered. And what can we say there but, “Guilty, guilty, guilty.” The precepts I have not obeyed. The penalties I cannot suffer.
Into this dark and gloomy room walks Mr. Righteousness. “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed” (v. 21). Mr. Righteousness has a nickname – Mr. Law Satisfier. He comes to law, looks at the precepts to be obeyed and the penalties to be suffered, and says, “I can do both. I can obey these precepts and suffer these penalties until there is nothing left to be paid.”
But how come Mr. Righteousness has a righteousness “apart from the law”? How can he be a law-satisfier apart from the law? It’s like saying red tomatoes are not red. This cannot mean what it seems to mean – a law satisfaction without satisfying the law. Rather it is a law satisfaction without any regard to our attempted law-satisfying.
Imagine if Mr. Righteousness walked into your yard with a wheelbarrow. Instead of admiring his perfection you start trying to put some of your own imagined law-keeping into his wheelbarrow. But he says “NO! I don’t want any contribution from you. I’m not interested in your law-satisfaction. I offer a law-satisfaction that is completely separate and independent from your attempted law-satisfying.”
It is also a “righteousness of God” (v. 21, 22). This is not a mere human righteousness but a divine righteousness. This is not a mere man that has obeyed the precepts and suffered the penalties. It is God himself. Can you imagine the value of that law-satisfaction!
We might conceive of a man who obeyed the precepts, suffered the penalties, and survived. That’s conceivable; but what good is that for anyone else? How can his righteousness extend beyond himself to any other human being. It might be enough for himself; he might be able to hand it over to someone else; but as it is only one human righteousness, it can only cover one human being. But divine righteousness is infinitely valuable and can extend to a multitude greater than any man can number.
Mr. Righteousness was witnessed to by the law and the prophets and has now been revealed even more clearly. Both Old and New Testaments point towards Mr. Righteousness. Who is Mr. Righteousness? It’s Mr. Jesus Christ. He can obey the precepts and suffer the penalties until they are exhausted. He is “the righteousness of God.”
So, here’s this soul chained to Mr. Guilty. And there’s Mr. Righteousness who can meet this soul’s deepest needs. But how to get rid Mr. Guilty and connect with Mr. Righteousness? That’s where Mr. Faith comes in. The righteousness of God is “through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe” (v. 22).
Mr. Faith comes to the soul, severs it from its guilt and connects it with Mr. Righteousness. As soon as this soul believes, faith smashes the chain of guilt and connects the soul with perfect righteousness (v. 25). All my guilt gone. His whole righteousness mine.
And this is not just for special believers, for those with special faith, or even strong faith. It’s “to all and on all who believe.” Instead of hearing, “Guilty, guilty, guilty!” the believing soul now hears not just, “Innocent, innocent, innocent!” but “Perfect, perfect, perfect!” All precepts obeyed, all penalties met.
The light has gone on, the dust is settling, and the soul is enjoying this salvation. Paul looks around and says, “Now, where is Mr. Boasting?” (v. 27). Mr. Boasting and Mr. Goodness were great allies. But with Mr. Goodness gone, Mr. Boasting is friendless. In fact, he’s very angry, especially with Mr. Faith. Because faith looks away from self to Christ. Faith turns the spotlight from self to Christ. Boasting is now evicted and runs away, cursing Mr. Faith. Oh, to be sure, he sometimes gets back together with Mr. Goodness and they stick their heads in the window again from time to time. But with the help of chapters like Romans 3 they are kept outside and at a safe distance.
So faith has chased away Mr. Goodness, Mr. Guilt, and Mr. Boasting. What about Mr. Law? Does Mr. Faith chase him away too? Let Paul answer: “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (v. 31).
Every other pretended way of salvation diminishes the law in one way or another: it’s requirements, it’s penalties, or it’s inner-penetration. In one way or another it makes void and diminishes the law. It helps people be saved by lowering the barrier, or by compromising justice. But this way of salvation strengthens and confirms the law. Mr. Righteousness reached the standard perfectly, and suffered the penalties fully. That’s why Paul says God is both “just and justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (v. 26). He is “a just God and a Savior.”
Mr. Goodness has gone. Mr. Guilt has gone. Mr. Boasting has gone. Who do we have left? Mr. Righteousness, Mr. Faith and Mr. Law. And then walks in our seventh man, Mr. Joy.
Mr. Joy says to Mr. Law “Are you happy?” “I’m happy,” he replies, “my demands have been met, my penalties satisfied. Rejoice!”
“Mr. Righteousness, you happy?” “Of course! I still have a perfect complete righteousness.”
“Mr. Faith, you happy?” “Sure, I’ve severed another soul from sin and united it with perfect righteousness!”
“And what about you, Soul?” asks Mr. Joy.
“Me?” says the soul, “Who could be happier! The law is satisfied. Guilt has gone. Righteousness is mine. And all by faith, without any contribution from me.” What a happy scene. What a happy soul!
“Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.”
Four Plumblines to Parent with Grace
“What does it mean to be a gospel-centered parent? As a youth minister who is also a parent, I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I may have a bit of insight. At our church, we often talk about four plumb lines – little phrases that, we believe, capture the heart of grace-centered parenting. 1) “Parents are neither saviors nor sanctifiers” 2) “Parents are pastors” 3) “You parent best when you repent most” 4) “Parent your kids to be sent, not to stay”"
Give Me Jesus Over Westminster Abbey
I loved Trevin Wax’s account of his visit to Westminster Abbey, especially his conclusion:
“If forced to choose between the power of Westminster’s ambience or the power of a simple preacher who shows me Christ, I say: Give me Jesus every time.”
Are You Chasing Happiness or Holiness? | Desiring God
Tony Reinke argues that “by distancing holiness from happiness we create a false dichotomy.”
We Cannot Help Women Reject Abortion By Screaming At Them
This from someone who left Planned Parenthood to become a pro-life campaigner:
“I do not believe we will ever win hearts through intimidation or illegal tactics. We won’t be able to help women if we scare them. It’s illogical to think that a woman already in a vulnerable position would willingly walk up to a man who is holding a graphic image, engaging in civil disobedience, and calling her a murderer just to, you know, have a conversation with him.”
The 4 Key Tools to a Successful Time Management System
Very simple but would transform the lives of so many young people:
“Here are the 4 Key Tools to a Successful Time Management System:
To-do List – A place to capture your tasks and get them out of your head so that you can concentrate on what you are doing.
Calendar – A tracker for all of your appointments and obligations to manage your day’s timeline.
Address Book – A collection of the contact information of all of the people who you need to connect with whether regularly or infrequently.
Notebook – Documentation of ideas and notes from your day’s activities and meetings. “
I Don’t Understand Christians Watching Game of Thrones
Also, see the Piper questions that Kevin points to:
“This will not be a long post. Because the issue doesn’t seem all that complicated. I don’t understand Christians watching Game of Thrones.”
Brothers, We Are Not Amateurs | For The Church
“Never before in the history of the church has theological education been so accessible, and never before has it been so needed. Advanced technology, innovative delivery systems, and proliferating resources all make being a ministerial amateur—as a permanent state—inexcusable. Why pursue ministry preparation? ”
10 Issues To Work Through Before You Get Married – Tim Challies
“Some people get married too soon. After love at first sight and a whirlwind romance, they quickly plan a wedding, exchange rings, and settle into a marriage that soon turns sour. So much pain can be avoided by working through issues before that wedding day. While courtship and engagement is, of course, the time to plan a wedding, it is also the time to plan a marriage. Here, drawn from the work of Jim Newheiser, is a list of issues to work through before you get married.”
If you want to stock up on J I Packer books, today is the day.
Taking God Seriously: Vital Things We Need to Know by J I Packer $2.99.
A Grief Sanctified: Through Sorrow to Eternal Hope by J I Packer $2.99.
Finishing Our Course with Joy: Guidance from God for Engaging with Our Aging by J I Packer $2.99.
You’ll find some other discounted Packer books here.
Seems like every second article these days is about either (1) technology addiction, (2) sexual addiction, or (3) depression. Beginning to think that there’s a frequent connection between them all.
Can You Repent Without Changing? The Beginning of the End for Sexual Sin
This wins the “Article of the Week” award and is in the running for “Article of the Year.”
“Having counseled thousands of men and women, I find that the first step in overcoming sexual sin is to understand that sexual misbehavior is the heart’s arrogant attempt to deal with pain, and that the pain itself is not the problem.”
Plowing Through Addiction: The ABC’s of Victory | For The Church
“Now, I’ve worked with men struggling with some form of sexual addiction for almost twenty years and there is much to this problem. Regardless of the addiction, recovery as a believer after involves these 3 beginning, common-sense steps.”
“The evidence that many married men and married women are using Facebook as a means to communicate emotionally and/or sexually outside of their marriage is overwhelming. Massive amounts of research pertaining to Facebook infidelity and related topics have been conducted by other researchers as well as myself. To bring you up to date, below are some key bullet points of what’s happening on the Facebook-infidelity front:”
Calling, Burdens, and Being Crushed By Facebook
“Why specifically does social media leave me so dried up? Because of callings, burdens, and borders.”
Hope in the Darkness of Mental Illness
“Here are four descriptors of a good comforter: a witness who sees us when we’re stricken; an advocate who defends us when we’re abandoned; an intercessor who prays for us when our prayers have run dry; a friend who hopes for us when we no longer have hope for ourselves.”
3 Lines in the Sand
“All three of these lines in the sand are drawn in the opening two chapters of the Bible. God makes it clear that He created us, that He created male and female, and that He designed marriage to be between a man and a woman. Those three foundational truths are clear. All three are rejected today.”
Ten Difficult, But Really Important Words
“Many words in the English language are hard to get out. In fact, there’s even a Dictionary of Difficult Words. But none are more difficult than these: “I’m sorry. I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?”"
Leadership as an Identity: The Four Traits of Those Who Wield Lasting Influence by Crawford Loritts $1.99.
United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity by Trillia Newbell $1.99.
Lasting Love: How to Avoid Marital Failure by Alistair Begg $1.99.
Collateral Damage: My Journey to Healing from My Pastor and Father’s Failure by James Carroll. My endorsement:
You will shed tears of joy over the healing power of Christ and the astonishing love of God’s people for a heart-broken 12-year-old boy.Video
Lean hard on the people who know you best, love you most, and will tell you when you’re wrong. We need friends who love God even more than they love us. Only people who love Christ more than they love you will have the courage to tell you that you’re wrong in dating — and give you the encouragement, truth, wisdom, and perspective you need.
See Marshall’s new book Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness and Dating
In Counseling Parents about Smart Rules for Smartphones (And All Social Media), Garret Higbee discusses how he and his wife have navigated the digital jungle with their three kids (including two teens). Click through to read about his approach. Here are the 10 rules they have developed over the years. He also provide an additional ten guidelines.
10 Rules for Smartphones and Social Media (Violation Means Restricted Use for Days or Weeks)
- Never text while driving a car.
- Never write a text or send a photo that you wouldn’t want your mom or dad to see.
- Always ask before you forward a text or photo.
- Never post your cell phone number anywhere.
- Turn off location services and never broadcast your location.
- Never respond to numbers you don’t recognize.
- If someone asks you to send an inappropriate photo, say “No!” and talk to your parents about it.
- If you receive an inappropriate photo, delete it immediately and tell your parents; block the sender.
- Don’t download apps without your parents’ permission.
- Don’t use social media or electronic devices to bully or gossip.
The 8 Questions I Need to Answer Before I Decide to Retire
“Retirement is just another season in life; one filled with both challenges and opportunities. So, as in any stage of life, we can never go wrong if we put God’s kingdom first when making the important decision about when to retire and how we will spend our time once we do.
Podcast: Pastoral Rest | Practical Shepherding
“Listen as Brian Croft and Jim Savastio discuss the often neglected issue of pastoral rest. From the vacation to the day off to the pastoral sabbatical, Brian and Jim explore the biblical necessity of rest and offer practical insights for avoiding pastoral burn-out.”
Leadership and Emotional Intelligence | Tim Lane
“In March of 2015, I pursued certification to use a tool called the Birkman Method to help leaders and teams grow in Emotional Intelligence. In addition to learning how to use this tool to help others, my training also allowed me to grow in greater self-awareness and learn how my own leadership style could be both productive and not so productive given the situation. I wished I had been exposed to this while I was in seminary preparing for leadership in ministry.”
3 Ways to Control Your Phone Addiction on Vacation | Harvard Business Review
“If we want to truly disconnect from everyday pressures and reap the positive benefits of a holiday we need to commit to setting three helpful boundaries.
How “Online” Is Your Prayer Life? | Counseling One Another
“The average adult in the UK spends nearly nine hours of each day on media and communication, outstripping even the amount of time spent sleeping or doing other vital tasks. Over 80 per cent of respondents to the study said the internet makes communicating easier, but a majority also conceded that they were probably “hooked” on the internet and spent longer than intended online each day. On average, we spend a little more than one day each week online (25 hours), with 10 per cent saying that they access the internet more than 50 times each day.”
“As followers of Christ, we cannot afford to take lightly the media’s pervasive presence in our lives. Think about the power of video entertainment, for instance. Whether viewed on computer, a portable player, or a traditional TV set, television and film are without peer in their cultural influence. Ken Myers, an astute Christian observer of popular culture, notes that television is not only “the dominant medium of popular culture” but also “the single most significant shared reality in our entire society.” He compares television’s impact to that of Christianity centuries ago, when “Christendom” defined the Western world:”
When Your Spouse Is Mentally Ill | Christianity Today
“Through the years, I have learned some things about marriage and mental illness that I wished someone would have told me early on. If you or a loved one are facing a similar challenge with mental illness, here are a few important truths.”
Four stages of “evangelical” affirmation of gay marriage | Denny Burk
“I have noticed a pretty consistent progression among those who eventually embrace gay marriage. It goes like this:
(1) Oppose gay-marriage.
(2) Oppose taking a stand on the question.
(3) Affirm gay marriage.
(4) Vilify traditional marriage proponents:”
4 Reasons to Teach Church History to Teens
“Far from being a stagnant collection of dates, movements, and odd-sounding names, the church’s past represents a treasure trove of God-exalting wisdom that helps us navigate the cultural realities of the present.”
God’s Grace in My Anorexia
“If you’d met me 13 years ago, here’s what you’d have seen: A ”successful” Christian, newly married to a pastor in training. The leader of a thriving children’s ministry with a bright future ahead. Someone who seemed to have it all together. But there’s one part you might have missed: a young woman gripped by an eating disorder that would nearly take her life. So how did I get there—and what has changed?”
Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life by Michael Kelley $2.99.
Health, Wealth & Happiness: Has the Prosperity Gospel Overshadowed the Gospel of Christ? by David Jones $4.12.
The Most Important Place on Earth: What a Christian Home Looks Like and How to Build One by Robert Wolgemuth $2.99.
Here are some of the online resources I refer to in the Foundations of Biblical Counseling course that I teach at Puritan Reformed Seminary. I have another bunch of links under the heading “The Counselor’s World” which deal with the relationship between Biblical Counseling and the other counseling systems that influence our world. However, that list is so long that I’ll post it separately another time.
For articles and resources on more specific counseling issues scroll down this page
WHAT IS BIBLICAL COUNSELING?
THE COUNSELOR’S GOD
THE COUNSELOR’S BIBLE
THE COUNSELOR’S HUMANITY
THE COUNSELOR’S COMMUNITY/CHURCH
THE COUNSELOR’S PROCESS (1): CONSENT & CONFIDENTIALITY
In general, I follow Paul Tripp’s helpful schema of “Love, Know, Speak, Do” as found in his book, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands. However, I expand it considerably under each heading.
THE COUNSELOR’S PROCESS (2): LOVE
Bob Kellemen series on Sympathy
Half Biblical Ministry to the Suffering
Counseling Without Loving Compassion
Mingling Our Sufferings and Sorrows
Job’s Miserable Counselors: How Not to Counsel
Climbing in the Casket: Rich Soul Empathy
5 Marks of Compassionate Biblical Counseling
4 Christlike Characteristics of a Biblical Comforter
Listening to 5 Biblical Principles of Gospel Listening
THE COUNSELOR’S PROCESS (3): KNOW
THE COUNSELOR’S PROCESS (4): SPEAK
THE COUNSELOR’S PROCESS (5): DO
Here are some articles by Joni and others reflecting on the 50th anniversary of her diving accident. If ever there was an example of God working all things together for good, this is it.
Moms Need To Stop Degrading Our Job As Brainless, Because It’s Not
“I have a college degree and worked for nearly a decade before I became a mother. The energy and ambition that I used to put into my career, I now put into my family. I’m still constantly drawing on my education and professional skills, but for a much more meaningful purpose. Most of the projects I worked on in my previous career are now obsolete. I believe my husband and children have eternal souls.”
When Husbands Die Young
“I was 30, and my husband had died. Sometimes I awoke to the sound of my own voice screaming his name, drenched in a cold sweat. Other nights were sleepless, the pain visceral. I lived in a fog, and then reality began to settle. He wasn’t coming back. Only 0.6 percent of American women are widowed when younger than 35. I’m a major anomaly, and people haven’t always known what to do with me. But the church can help. Here are six practical ways.”
10 Differences between Cockiness and Confidence
“You have heard it said that there is a thin line between confidence and cockiness, but the truth is they are miles apart. A cocky leader is not a leader with simply too much confidence; confidence and cockiness are very different traits all together. Here are ten differences between cockiness and confidence.”
What I’ve Learned From Being Fired
“I have been fired from three different jobs or gigs in my career and I learned from each one of them. Don’t get me wrong. Each of these was a painful experience. But these experiences also taught me important lessons that I probably could not have learned any other way. They were invaluable for my future success. Here are those lessons:”
What I Believe About Ministry
“Here’s a list of what I stand for. It’s still a work in progress. I expect to add to it and improve it over the years. But I don’t expect that many of the convictions I articulate here will change. I wish I’d held to them 25 years ago. My service to those I’ve pastored would have been richer for it.”
Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself by Joe Thorn $2.99.
Walking from East to West: God in the Shadows by Ravi Zacharias $2.99. Part auto-biography.
Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem by Kevin DeYoung $2.99.
Pastors used to be some of the happiest and healthiest people alive, with better life expectancy than the general population. But in “Taking a Break From the Lord’s Work,” journalist Paul Vitello reports, “Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension, and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could.”
High levels of stress, depression, and burnout are leading to broken bodies, broken minds, broken hearts, broken marriages, and broken churches. According to Christianity Today, burnout is responsible for 20 percent of all pastoral resignations. That’s hardly surprising, since surveys reveal that pastors relegate physical exercise, nutrition, and sleep to a much lower priority than the average worker.
I’ve been there and done that—and suffered the consequences. But through painful personal experience, and also through counseling many others since, I’ve learned that God has graciously provided a number of ways for us to reset our broken and burned-out lives, and to help us live a grace-paced life in a burnout culture. Before we get to these, let’s consider why so many pastors are joining these statistics.
Read the rest of this article at 9 Marks.
Why does God give us so many pictures of believing in Jesus? Why not just some philosophical treatise on faith, or some systematic theology of faith? Why illustrations? And why so many?
First, because faith is so hard. Unbelief comes naturally to us; faith is unnatural. Faith is so hard it has to be given us by God. And he gives it to us partly by multiplying the pictures of faith to maximize our understanding and exercising of it.
Second, because people are so different. Because of our different backgrounds, personalities, needs, etc., if God had only given us one picture of faith, it might not have suited everyone. He gave us ten (more than ten, in fact) to ensure that everyone could have a picture of faith that would suit them.
Third, because God’s desire for faith is so strong. Take these ten pictures as a vivid expression of Christ’s passionate yearning for us to believe in him. Click on over to The Christward Collective for ten pictures of faith and try to still believe that he really doesn’t want you to believe in him.
The Top Ten Surprises New Pastors Have | ThomRainer.com
Hopefully this will result in fewer surprises.
No Time for Widows? | Biblical Counseling Coalition
“Many people are uncomfortable around the bereaved, particularly if they have not experienced the death of a close family member or friend. Below I’ve listed just a few examples of things to say and not say to a widow. If you are unsure of what to say, it is best to say only ‘I’m sorry.’ Gentle hugs often speak more eloquently than words.”
6 Ways to Teach Your Kids the Bible | Jon Nielson, TGC
“I’m a father of three young kids. I can’t think of many things more important for them than regular exposure to the living Word of God. If you’re a Christian parent of young children, I assume you share the same conviction: Your kids need to hear from God, and you long for them to listen carefully to his good Word. But it’s hard. Life is busy, kids are lively, and reading the Bible often struggles to compete with the Disney channel, Legos, and the newest phone app. Here are six tips my wife and I have found helpful in our rhythm of Bible reading with our young kids (currently 6, 5, and 3).”
Higher Calling, Lower Wages: The Vanishing of the Middle-Class Clergy | David R. Wheeler, The Atlantic
“As full-time pastors become a thing of the past, more and more seminary grads are taking on secular jobs to supplement their incomes. ”
An Open Letter to the Person Caring for a Loved One with Dementia | John Dunlop, Crossway
“Taking responsibility for the care of a person suffering from any stage of dementia can be one of the greatest challenges of life. But there are not only challenges. There are also opportunities; opportunities to serve unselfishly in the way our Lord serves us, opportunities for personal growth, and opportunities for God to be glorified. ”
6 Steps to Setting Technology Boundaries in Your Home
“Technology exposes our idolatry. Combating the misuse or overuse of technology is important, but parents must always remember that a child’s behavior is nothing more than a reflection of his or her heart. And just like yours, those hearts are full of idols. But as you work toward these deeper issues, setting up appropriate boundaries can be very helpful. Here are some helpful ways to do just that:”
Building a Theological Library, Part 3: Tips on Building a Digital Library | Jeff Straub, Credo Magazine
“We live in exciting times. At no point in human history has it been easier to collect and maintain a ministerial library if one chooses the route of digital books. ”
Why is Cremation on the Rise? | Alex Chediak, The Stream
“For Christians, this raises the question: Is it really a neutral choice between whether to be buried or burned? If so, it’s easy to opt for convenience. But there’s a long tradition among Christians that a burial is much better.”
7 Insights From J.D. Vance And Co. About What’s Ripping Families Apart | Josh Shepherd, The Federalist
“On Thursday, with an auditorium packed to hear best-selling “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance, Heritage Foundation scholars unveiled the 2017 Index of Culture and Opportunity, an annual compendium of charts, essays, and expert analysis tracking national social and economic changes…”
Uncensored: Daring to Embrace the Entire Bible by Brian Cosby ($1.99)
Wilberforce by John Pollock ($1.99)
Running on Empty: The Gospel for Women in Ministry by Barbara Bancroft ($1.59)
Grief Undone: A Journey with God and Cancer by Elizabeth W. D. Groves ($1.99)
Am I Called? The Summons to Pastoral Ministry by Dave Harvey ($2.99)
I try to read or listen to anything that Diane Langberg says in the areas of abuse and PTSD. Here’s a video of a lecture she gave on domestic abuse to the Christian Leaders Forum in Budapest. As Cry for Justice puts it:
In this talk, Diane condemns the way that many Christians minimize the seriousness of what happens in domestic abuse, and she says that the church is not doing a lot to address the issue. She defines abuse as including emotional, verbal, financial, sexual, spiritual and social abuse as well as physical abuse. Likewise, she emphasizes that domestic abuse is a pattern of conduct, not just isolated incidents. And she applies scriptures very well to the issue.
We all know loneliness is not a good thing. At the very beginning, God told us that it is not good to be alone (Gen. 2:18). But perhaps it is beyond “not good,” – harmful, detrimental even.
That’s what Billy Baker from the Boston Globe discovered as he researched the effects of loneliness in his article, The biggest threat facing middle-age men isn’t smoking or obesity. It’s loneliness.
He writes, “Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general of the United States, has said many times in recent years that the most prevalent health issue in the country is not cancer or heart disease or obesity. It is isolation.”
Through his research, Baker identifies himself in the problem, realizing he hasn’t seen some of his “closest” friends in years. What is interesting to note, however, is that this loneliness and isolation is felt even among men with wives and families.
Lack of Friendship
It seems the real problem might not be “isolation” but a lack of friendship. Psychiatrist Richard S. Schwartz has studied this now typical phenomenon among middle-aged family-men. “When people with children become overscheduled, they don’t shortchange their children, they shortchange their friendships. ‘And the public health dangers of that are incredibly clear,’ he says.”
Here are those health dangers, not to mention the effects on mental health:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Early death (even after correcting for other lifestyle choices)
Male and Female Relationships
Another important point in this conversation is that (as we know) men and women are created differently. Therefore, they experience relationships differently. This is not to say that loneliness isn’t a danger for women, too, but that women naturally maintain their relationships better than men do. This is at least in part because what appears to be most meaningful to women is conversation, which can be done over the phone and from a distance.
However, activity is what bonds men together, which is why “studies have shown, men tend to make their deepest friends through periods of intense engagement, like school or military service or sports.” Unfortunately, as men and their responsibilities grow, the chances to engage in those kinds of side-by-side activities wane, or at the least, require a lot of effort. Baker even described feeling guilty about running off with the guys during his free time instead of using it to be with his family. That’s noble – and I’m sure his wife appreciates his consideration – but as we’re seeing, that might not always be the best choice for his health.
“I’m very happy in my life,” Baker says, “If I need someone to confide in, I have my wife. All the pieces are here, except one — the guys. I’d like to think they’re also missing me and are just locked into this same prison of commitments. But I don’t want to wait until we’re all retired and can reconnect on a golf course. It feels silly to wait that long, and thanks to this stupid story, I know it’s quite dangerous.”
What Can We Do?
So what do we do? One practical tip Baker describes is to establish a regular time for this side-by-side type of friendship. Pick a day with a few of your friends and meet every week at that time and do something together. Make it a standing appointment so that the importance of relationship doesn’t get swept away in the busyness of life. I would also recommend taking a long, hard look at your obligations. If you don’t have time to tend to your physical, mental, and/or spiritual health – and relationships are part of that – It’s time to drop some commitments.
We need friends. We need confidants (Proverbs 17:17, 27:5-6), companions (Ecc. 4:9-10), comforters (Job 2:11, 16:20-21), encouragers (Proverbs 27:17, 1 Thess. 5:11). The Bible is full of verses like these exhorting us in our friendships, showing us who and who not to have as friends, and outlining the many, many reasons we need others in our lives. Jesus Himself during his time on earth developed deep, rich friendships with three of His disciples, and also calls us “friend” (John 15:15). How important, then, this kind of relationship must be!
But it is hard. Even as people of God and members of local churches we fall into the same rut as Baker – overscheduled, overworked, and lonely. I encourage you to make the time. Find the regular, standing appointment. Fellowship with the men in your church. Don’t be afraid of the awkwardness or effort it takes to do this. Modern research is showing us what God has told us all along: It is not good for man to be alone.
For more resources on Christian friendship, I recommend The Company We Keep by Jonathan Holmes or The Friendship Factor by Alan McGinnis. Or just get started by picking up your phone and dialing a friend.