Bell Creek Community Church

A non-denominational church in Livonia, Michigan with Biblical teaching, worship, and kid's ministries.

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David Murray blogs on ministry, leadership, preaching, counseling, technology, and theology.
Updated: 55 min 40 sec ago

Why’s there so much blood in the Old Testament?

Fri, 02/23/2018 - 1:00am

Here’s the video to show your kids at the end of Expedition Eight of Exploring the BibleIf you want to bookmark a page where all the videos will eventually appear, you can find them on my blog, on YouTube, or the Facebook page for Exploring the Bible. Thanks to Darryl Bradford, Video Producer/Editor at PRTS for all his work on these videos.

If you haven’t started your kids on the book yet, you can begin anytime and use it with any Bible version. Here are some sample pages.

You can get it at RHBWestminster BooksCrossway, or Amazon. Some of these retailers have good discounts for bulk purchases by churches and schools.

Digital Technology is Killing our Relationships

Thu, 02/22/2018 - 1:00am

Although so much digital technology revolves around communication, it has had a devastating impact on so many aspects of relationships.

Digital Technology is Killing our Identity

Successful relationships cannot happen unless the people involved have a clear sense of personal identity. But we cultivate and project so many social media personas that we’ve forgotten who we really are. The Internet has changed the way we present ourselves to one another.

American Girls and Their Social Media Lives

Today teenage girls live online, a recent study revealing that “92 percent were going online from a mobile device daily” (10). But this online world isn’t the screen of innocent fun so many parents believe it to be. It’s a hypersexualized world where validation, acceptance, and worth are inexorably connected to sexual appeal and appetite.

The False Reality of Social Media

We live in a world of false realities. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest all offer an alternate view of who we are as individuals. We can tweet spiritual tweets and show off our immaculate houses or perfectly cooked food on Instagram. We can either judge or feel judged as we scan our Facebook timelines, and Pinterest shows us how far we fall from perfection.

The “reality” photos and statuses published are just as much a mask as the perfect happy posts we broadcast. Neither show our cyber friends who we really are. We are safe from vulnerability, risk of failure, and have complete control of the image we portray of ourselves.

Digital Technology is Killing Family Life

“Parent’s Mobile Use Harms Family Life” say High School Students

A recent survey found:

  • More than a third of 2,000 11 to 18-year-olds said they had asked their parents to stop checking their devices.
  • Of pupils who had asked their parents to put down their phones, 46% said their parents took no notice while 44% felt upset and ignored.
  • 82% of students felt meal times should be device-free
  • 22% said the use of mobiles stopped their families enjoying each other’s compan

“Our poll shows that children are aware of many of the risks associated with overuse of technology but they need the adults in their lives to set clear boundaries and role model sensible behaviour.”

Digital Technology is Killing Parenting

If you doubt that, look at this sign.

Then read the story behind it.

That Viral Houston Daycare Sign Is Right. Parents, Get Off Your Phones

Digital Technology is Killing our Friendships

By killing our listening skills and speaking abilities, it’s killing face-to-face communication and friendships

US psychologists claim social media ‘increases loneliness’

A report suggests that more than two hours of social media use a day doubled the chances of a person experiencing social isolation. It claims exposure to idealised representations of other people’s lives may cause feelings of envy.

Smartphones and How They Change Us

While I have undoubtedly gained an immense amount from these (internet relationships), I have frequently found them to be a retreat from the challenge of actual relationships with Christian neighbors with whom I differ.

Has the Smartphone Destroyed a Generation?

Social-networking sites like Facebook promise to connect us to friends. But the portrait of iGen teens emerging from the data is one of a lonely, dislocated generation. Teens who visit social-networking sites every day but see their friends in person less frequently are the most likely to agree with the statements “A lot of times I feel lonely,” “I often feel left out of things,” and “I often wish I had more good friends.” Teens’ feelings of loneliness spiked in 2013 and have remained high since.

Millennials and Social Media  (Video)

Simon Sinek argues that this social media has become a societal addiction and the main reason for poor self-esteem and shallow relationships.

Digital Technology is Killing our Marriages

I Am iPhone: How Our Tech Endangers Our Relationships

“Certain family therapy theorists maintain that when you are working with a couple, there are always three people in the room to consider: the man, the woman, and the relationship itself. The more I have begun to work with couples, the more I’ve realized that this maxim is actually a half-truth. There are three people in the room, but far too often the third ‘person’ is one partner’s smartphone.”

Every case of married infidelity I have seen has involved some form of indiscretion committed on a phone. I have even spent whole (paid!) sessions helping couples learn how to manage their phones.

Digital Technology is Killing our Private Lives

It’s killing privacy as every moment is now digitized not for family archives but for instant upload to the world for likes and hearts by complete strangers.

We don’t have much of a private life any more as so much lived out in public arena, making mistakes very public too. Also, so much gathering of personal data is going on undetected.

Millennials and Their Phones

The average parent will post almost 1,000 photos of their child online before he or she turns five, according to a 2015 survey of 2,000 parents by The Parent Zone, a U.K.-based site devoted to Internet safety and parenting in the digital age.

Why our son doesn’t have a smartphone

The real reason why our son doesn’t have a phone is because we think his middle-school years will be better spent without one. The answer I’ve given, over and over again, is this: I want you to be free from middle school drama when you’re at home.

Previous Posts: Technology is Created by GodTechnology is the Gift of GodTechnology Reveals GodThe Dangers of Digital BabylonDigital Technology is Killing our MindsDigital Technology is Killing our Health.

Digital Technology is Killing our Health

Wed, 02/21/2018 - 2:00am

Yesterday we saw that digital technology is killing our minds. But it’s also killing our health by killing our sleep, our physical exercise, our mental health, and our lives.

Digital technology is killing our sleep

Screen technology is killing our health partly by its shortening, shallowing, and interrupting of sleep. Excess and late technology use damages quality and length of sleep. Kids are consuming 11 hours of media a day with huge impact on quality and quantity of sleep.

Has the Smartphone Destroyed a Generation?

  • Although teens need about 9 hours of sleep the average is now less than seven.
  • 57% percent more teens were sleep deprived in 2015 than in 1991.
  • The change can be traced largely to when teens get a smartphone.
  • Teens who spend three or more hours a day on electronic devices are 28 percent more likely to get less than seven hours of sleep than those who spend fewer than three hours,
  • Children who use a media device right before bed are more likely to sleep less than they should, more likely to sleep poorly, and more than twice as likely to be sleepy during the day.
  • Sleep deprivation is linked to compromised thinking and reasoning, susceptibility to illness, weight gain, high blood pressure, depression and anxiety.

 I asked my undergraduate students at San Diego State University what they do with their phone while they sleep. Their answers were a profile in obsession. Nearly all slept with their phone, putting it under their pillow, on the mattress, or at the very least within arm’s reach of the bed. They checked social media right before they went to sleep, and reached for their phone as soon as they woke up in the morning (they had to—all of them used it as their alarm clock). Their phone was the last thing they saw before they went to sleep and the first thing they saw when they woke up. If they woke in the middle of the night, they often ended up looking at their phone. Some used the language of addiction. “I know I shouldn’t, but I just can’t help it,” one said about looking at her phone while in bed.

Digital Technology is killing physical exercise

Why Are Our Children So Anxious?

Many children are not accessing the outdoors, engaging in enough regular physical activity, and experiencing the benefit of child-led free play,” adds Vanessa Lapointe, PhD, a parenting author and psychologist in British Columbia. “This changes the chemical makeup of the brain and lead to increases in anxiety and related mood shifts.”

Digital technology is killing our mental health

Constant beeps, buzzes, and updates reduce undisturbed time for the brain to rest. Unlike other revolutionary media like radio and TV, the Internet is ubiquitous. We never get even a few minutes waiting in line with our own thoughts but turn to the smartphone to fill it up.

Parents Need to Get Serious About Saving the next Generation from Internet Addiction

While iGens may be physically “safe,” their emotional and mental selves are often a mess. Today’s teens are more depressed; more prone to bullying, and being bullied; more likely to commit suicide. They often struggle with a FOMO (“fear of missing out”) so intense it affects their psychological wellbeing, the decisions they make, and the friendships they form. They struggle with body image and confidence. They struggle to foster healthy, wholesome friendships and romance.

Why Are Our Children So Anxious?

6 million American teens grapple with an anxiety disorder of some kind. That’s probably an underestimate because it doesn’t take into account children under 12, whom therapists say are also increasingly facing anxiety that exceeds normal childhood fears and worries. The three main reasons given are “more pressure, more stimulus, and more trickle-down stress.”

They feel pressure to create and manage a digital identity. And they have endless information at their technological fingertips which has the potential to emotionally overwhelm them.

“They’re in a cauldron of stimulus they can’t get away from, or don’t want to get away from, or don’t know how to get away from.”

Instagram is Worst Social Media Network for Mental Health

Instagram, an app that people use to share photos of their lives as seen through a series of flattering filters, was rated worst for the mental health of young people in a study by the Royal Society for Public Health in the U.K.

“Social media has been described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol,” Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, said in a statement. “It is no longer possible to ignore it when talking about young people’s mental health issues.” (Indeed, one-quarter of millennials look at their phone more than 100 times a day compared with just 10% of baby boomers, a study released this week found.) Both Instagram and Snapchat “are very image-focused and it appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people,” she says.

Has the Smartphone Destroyed a Generation?

Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy. There’s not a single exception. All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness.

Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.

The more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression. Eighth-graders who are heavy users of social media increase their risk of depression by 27 percent, while those who play sports, go to religious services, or even do homework more than the average teen cut their risk significantly.

Digital technology is (literally) killing our lives 

10 Statistics That Capture the Danger of Texting and Driving

9: Number of Americans killed every day from motor vehicle accidents that involved distracted driving, such as using a cellphone, texting or eating.

1 in 4: The probability that a motor vehicle crash involved a cellphone.

40%: The percentage of teens who say they have been a passenger in a car whose driver used a cellphone in a way that put them in danger.

33%: The percentage of U.S. drivers ages 18 to 64 who reported reading or writing text messages while driving in the previous month. In comparison, only 15 percent of drivers from Spain reported texting while driving in the same period.

341,000: Number of motor vehicle crashes in 2013 that involved texting.

4x: How much using a cellphone while driving increases the risk of a crash.

2: Number of seconds a driver can safely glance away from the road while operating a motor vehicle.

5: Number of seconds drivers take their eyes off the road to send a text message, on average.

Previous Posts: Technology is Created by GodTechnology is the Gift of GodTechnology Reveals GodThe Dangers of Digital BabylonDigital Technology is Killing our Minds.

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Wed, 02/21/2018 - 1:00am

The Missing Word in Our Modern Gospel
“There’s a word missing from the presentation of our modern gospel. It’s the word repent. Yeah, I know, that sounds old school, like an embarrassing sidewalk preacher with a sandwich board and cheap tracts with bad graphics and lots of exclamation points. And yet, even a cursory glance at the New Testament demonstrates that we haven’t understood the message of the gospel if we never talk about repentance.”

I have forgotten how to read
“For a long time Michael Harris convinced himself that a childhood spent immersed in old-fashioned books would insulate him from our new media climate – that he could keep on reading in the old way because his mind was formed in pre-internet days. He was wrong”

Does It Bother You That God Barred Moses from the Promised Land?
“Numbers 20 doesn’t bother me anymore. It challenges me, as God always intended it to. I’m thankful for the warning this story provides. I’m thankful also that even in this act of judgment, God’s heart of holy love shines.”

5 Reasons Emotional Intelligence Is so Important for Leaders
“Emotional intelligence is the extent to which someone is able to understand, filter through, and leverage his or her emotions in order to accomplish a task.It is an interpersonal, intangible set of abilities. And whereas your IQ is a constant, EQ can be developed and increased. ”

Gather Your Seashells while Ye May
How Don’t Waste Your Life inspired a generation to limit theirs.

Mass Shootings, Mental Illness, and Local Church Ministry
“Yes, I believe the church should have a more active voice in the conversations around mental illness, but it is unwise for a church to begin talking about mental illness in the immediate aftermath of these kinds of tragedies.

Kindle Books

What Happens After I Die? by Michael Allen Rogers $2.99.

Killing Calvinism: How to Destroy a Perfectly Good Theology from the Inside by Greg Dutcher $5.78

The Absurdity of Unbelief: A Worldview Apologetic of the Christian Faith by Jeffrey D. Johnson $0.99

Digital Technology is Killing our Minds

Tue, 02/20/2018 - 1:00am

We have gained much from technology, but we have also lost much. It has enhanced our lives, but it’s also (slowly) killing our lives. I want to highlight its murderous power over the next few days, starting with how it’s killing our minds

Digital technology is killing our concentration

How tech ate the media and our minds – Axios

Our brains have been literally swamped and reprogrammed. We spend around 6 hours per day consuming digital media. As a result, the human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds to eight seconds since 2000, while the goldfish attention span is nine seconds.

Digital technology is killing our IQ

The Great Disconnect: MegaHERTZ to MegaHURTS

University of London found people who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines similar to if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night. IQ drops of 15 points for multitasking men lowered their scores to the average range of an 8 year old child.

Digital technology is killing our reading

It’s A Problem Literature Reading Is Low. ‘Digital Temperance’ Can Help

Christopher Ingraham reported for the Post last year that the percentage of Americans who read literary content has dropped to at least a three-decade low. In 2015, less than half of Americans reported reading at least one work of literature—down from 57 percent in 1982.

Digital technology is killing our memory

Memorizing Scripture texts and references has become a lost art because we just need the odd word and a rough idea of location to Google the verse. We think we know things but all we know is that we can find it on Google.

Digital technology is killing our problem solving.

We don’t work at answering questions, puzzling something through, but, again, just Google it. In YouTube is my Father, Michael Anthony Adams describes how YouTube has become his substitute father, teaching him things like how to tie a tie and fix a flat.

Digital Technology is killing our creativity

Are You Suffocating Your Creativity?

With nearly every technological advancement comes secondary effects. Most of these are unseen and certainly not intended. One such area involves free time to simply think. This is an open time when we can allow our minds to wander a bit and latch onto things that we may not normally have the opportunity to think through. I believe this free space is vital and increasingly being diminished…It’s like we are allergic to mental down time. There is no space for deep thinking, creativity, or dreaming when we are constantly distracted or diverted by our technology.

Previous Posts: Technology is Created by GodTechnology is the Gift of GodTechnology Reveals God, The Dangers of Digital Babylon

The Dangers of Digital Babylon (1)

Mon, 02/19/2018 - 2:00am

A few thousand years ago, God sent his people into Babylonian exile where they had to live in a culture that was extremely hostile to them and their faith. Yet God called them to continue to seek the good of the land, to have children, and parent them for his glory (Jer. 29:4-14).

Although we are not in physical Babylon, we are very much living in digital Babylon, an all-pervasive digital culture extremely hostile to the Christian faith and true spirituality. I believe digital Babylon is at least as dangerous as historical Babylon. Historical Babylon slew its thousands but digital Babylon its tens of thousands.

Although hundreds of thousands were taken into Babylonian captivity, seventy years later, when God called them to return to Israel, only several thousand actually did so. The rest had been thoroughly Babylonized over the years. If we want to avoid that in digital Babylon, we need to clearly identify the digital dangers we are facing and the damage they are doing.

This is vital because those who do so and can get digital technology under control are going to be uniquely placed to excel – intellectually, relationally, vocationally, educationally, and financially. There is no surer way to stand out and gain a massive “competitive advantage” in every area of life, relationships, and work.

But control (or lack of it) of our devices is also the biggest determinant of our spiritual health, growth, and usefulness. If we want to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, we must grow in digital self-discipline

I’m 100% convinced that there’s nothing more important for individual Christians than to get digital technology under control. I really mean that. This is going to make or break our Christian lives, our families, and our churches for decades to come.

This is a multi-dimensional problem with multi-dimensional solutions. It’s going to require some eye-gouging and some hand-amputation (Matt. 5:29). It will involve much putting off and much putting on (Eph. 4:22-24). But life on the other side of this will be so worth it that we may eventually look back with shock and horror, asking one another, “What. Was. I. Doing?”

Over the coming days, I’m going to be highlighting how digital Babylon threatens this generation

Previous Posts: Technology is Created by GodTechnology is the Gift of God, Technology Reveals God,

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Mon, 02/19/2018 - 1:00am

Four guidelines for mental health issues and the church
“Developing pastoral practices and a church environment that welcomes people who struggle with mental health issues requires awareness, intentionality, and wisdom, but every effort a church makes, both great and small, offers new hope and practical help to the silent sufferers among us.”

18 Questions about Faith and Mental Illness
“As I’ve read, counseled, and thought about the subject of mental illness, here are some of the questions that have emerged. ”

Getting Beyond the Stigma of Mental Illness
The study found that pastors and churches want to help those who experience mental illness. But those good intentions don’t always lead to effective ministry.

Heath Lambert’s Story of Abuse
This is a remarkable testimony to the grace and power of God

Kindle Books

Heaven by Christopher W. Morgan and others $2.99.

A Loving Life: In a World of Broken Relationships by Paul E. Miller $3.19.

The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation  by Michael Reeves $2.99.

Are you a policeman?

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 1:00am

Here’s the video to show your kids at the end of Expedition Seven of Exploring the BibleIf you want to bookmark a page where all the videos will eventually appear, you can find them on my blog, on YouTube, or the Facebook page for Exploring the Bible.

If you haven’t started your kids on the book yet, you can begin anytime and use it with any Bible version. Here are some sample pages.

You can get it at RHBWestminster BooksCrossway, or Amazon. Some of these retailers have good discounts for bulk purchases by churches and schools.

Digital Doxology (3): Technology Reveals God

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 2:00am

The world is the theater of God’s glory. But it’s not just beautiful natural landscapes that motivate our worship; it’s beautiful work as well, even when done by unbelievers.

Who can look at an apple and not worship God? Who can look at an Apple and not worship God. The simplest natural product and the most sophisticated digital product both provoke and promote worship.

Why is that?

It’s because both reveal God in ways that lead us to admire his attributes. Here, for example, are six attributes of God that are revealed in technology,  providing lyrics of praise to God.

Technology makes us worship God’s wisdom: It’s God’s mind that conceived of silicon, radio waves, fiber-optics, light, electricity, magnetism, space travel, rocket fuel, etc. It’s God’s mind that put sufficient general principles in Scripture to guide our use of technology

Technology makes us worship God’s creativity: Behind every good invention and ingenious design is The Inventor and The Designer.

Technology makes us worship God’s goodness: How thankful we should be that we are living in an age of such life-saving and life-enhancing technology.

Technology makes us worship God’s power: It’s mind-blowing to think of the amount of energy that technology uses every day – hundreds of billions of kilowatts – and yet that’s just a little part of God’s great power.

Technology makes us worship God’s patience: What incredible patience and longsuffering that sees such good gifts taken, abused and turned against the Creator and His creatures, and yet He still spares us and our world.

Technology makes us worship God’s grace:  because our overuse and abuse make us realize how much we need his grace of forgiveness for our sins and the grace of his Holy Spirit to deliver us from tech enslavement.

Previous Posts: Technology is Created by God, Technology is the Gift of God

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Thu, 02/15/2018 - 1:00am

1 in 5 college students have anxiety or depression
“Teenagers, he warns, are increasingly pushing into splitting their attention between a virtual life and the real world, meaning there is no ‘switch off’ ”

America’s Real Digital Divide
“A group of former Facebook and Google employees last week began a campaign to change the tech companies they had a hand in creating. The initiative, called Truth About Tech, aims to push these companies to make their products less addictive for children — and it’s a good start.”

The Slow Miracle of the Lord’s Day
“”God’s intention was to bless his people through the constant and conscientious observation of the [Sabbath], week after week and year after year. Believers are sanctified through a lifetime of Sabbath observance. In other words, the Sabbath is designed to work slowly, quietly, seemingly imperceptively in reorienting believers’ appetites heavenward. It is not a quick fix, nor is it necessarily a spiritual high. It is an ‘outward and ordinary’ ordinance, part of the steady and healthy diet of the means of grace.”

Trusting God in the Decision to Care for a Loved One
“Approximately 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult aged 50 or older in the past 12 months. The majority of caregivers are female (60 percent)… These statistics reveal that at some point in our lives, most of us will be faced with the decision to care for a loved one—sometimes sooner than we expect.”

The Effects of Sleep on Your Relationship
“We are aware of the effects sleep has on our mood, cognition, and performance, but we may not realize that our relationships also depend on it. Relationships depend on decision making, shared responsibility, even humor and attractiveness. Sleep deprivation affects all of those aspects ultimately leading to a less than ideal partnership.”

What City Was Once “The Jerusalem of the East?”
Don’t give up praying for the liberation of North Korea. I grew up when the “iron curtain” looked impregnable.

What do you think of when you hear “Pyongyang”? Despite what it means now, Pyongyang once stood as a symbol of faith, evangelical fervor, and theological fidelity. Perhaps naïve, but I join many around the world in praying for Pyongyang that it will once again become the shining light on a hill where Christ is known and proclaimed.

A Simple Treatment for Ministry Weariness
“Follow God’s prescription for Elijah: Eat. Sleep. Get time with the Lord. ”

Kindle Books

Loving the Way Jesus Loves  by Philip Graham Ryken $3.19.

Awakening the Evangelical Mind: An Intellectual History of the Neo-Evangelical Movement by Owen Strachan $6.99.

Christians in an Age of Wealth: A Biblical Theology of Stewardship by Craig L. Blomberg $7.99

Digital Doxology (2): Technology is the Gift of God

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 2:00am

Yesterday we started forming the Digital Doxology Choir, and provided the lyrics of their first praise song. Today, we want to add a second verse based upon the second biblical principle for digital technology: Technology is the gift of God.

When we see so much carnage resulting from the digital revolution, we are tempted to view technology as simply the spawn of hell. But just because the devil uses it to destroy, doesn’t mean God never gave it as a good gift to his people. Let’s remind ourselves of the goodness of God in the wonderful benefits that technology has brought us.

Health Benefits: Many of us wouldn’t be alive today were it not for God’s gift of technology in various diagnostics, surgeries, etc. Technology has increased the quantity and quality of our lives.

Family Benefits: Distant families can communicate in voice and video via Skype or Facetime. No wires, no delay, no cost, no hassle. It’s absolutely incredible. We can share photos and news with families with one quick click

Financial Benefits: Online banking, online shopping, online investing, etc.

Administrative Benefits: Digital storage, word-processing, email, scheduling, accounting software, tax filing, etc.

Educational Benefits: Online education, MOOCs, homeschooling resources, access to less-biased media, whole libraries on one Kindle.

Publishing Benefits: Everyone’s a film-maker and everyone’s a publisher.

Spiritual Benefits: Christian sermons books, articles, blogs, podcasts from the best speakers and writers. Connections with other Christians from other backgrounds. Access to current Christian comment on latest moral and ethical dilemmas.

Ministry Benefits: Logos Bible Software, access to books and online libraries, outreach to local and international mission fields via Facebook, internet radio, sermonaudio, etc.

I work at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and sometimes when we are enjoying the beauty of Reformed and Puritan theology, someone will ask, “Don’t you wish you were alive in these days?”

I have to be honest, I don’t. I’m glad to live in our own day with all its technological blessings and benefits. God is so good! We trace all these good gifts to our good Giver. ”Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

Why is it so important to recognize that technology is a gift of God?

When someone we love gives us a precious gift, our affection for that person will make us look after that gift far more than one from a stranger. Therefore the more we see technology as the good gift of our heavenly father, the more we will abhor taking his good gift and using it against him; and the more we will take his gift and use it as he intended.

Like all of God’s good gifts, technology has been perverted and abused by the devil and by sinful men and women. That means we need to exercise great discernment and care in our use of technology. But it doesn’t change the fact that it is a good gift from a good God to underserving sinners.

Check out

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 1:00am

Marriage Tune Up: Five Books, Five Questions
Here are five questions to ask yourself and your spouse on Valentine’s Day.

Looming Debate Over SSA
Rick Philips discusses the problem of affirming same-sex-attraction or “gay Christian” as a Christian category.

Advice to Guys Who Want to Date My Daughters
“Men, you can do this! You can show manful care. Bring glory to Christ by being countercultural in your dateless, sex-saturated generation where men have the backbone of a jellyfish.”

Preacher’s Toolkit: How Do I Teach Difficult Doctrines without Splitting the Church?
“Doctrine does not have to divide, however, if a pastor will employ a few basic strategies when he encounters a difficult or controversial doctrine in the Bible.”

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think
Here’s an easy way to a bigger and better brain (as well as improved mental health).

Why Monday Is Your Most Productive Day Of The Week
Even if it doesn’t feel like it. Here’s how to make the most of it.

Planning a Wedding? Say Yes to the Guests and Spend Less on the Dress
“The evidence suggests that the types of weddings associated with lower likelihood of divorce are those that are relatively inexpensive but are high in attendance.”

Kindle Books

How Can I Serve God at Work? by Ray Pennings $0.99.

Understanding Biblical Theology: A Comparison of Theory and Practice by Edward W Klink III and Darian R. Lockett $5.99.

Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick $3.99.


Yesterday would have been R.C. Sproul’s seventy-ninth birthday. Watch this message from the Ligonier team.

Digital Doxology (1): God Created Technology

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 2:00am

Let’s praise God for digital technology!

“What? Have you no idea how dangerous digital technology is? Don’t you know that even many secular studies are warning about the peril of our digital devices? I mean, even Facebook directors and shareholders are sounding the alarm. And you want to praise God for digital technology?”

Yes, I do, and so should you, because, as I’ll show you in a minute, it’s right to do so and we have plenty reason to do so. But I also believe that by starting with positive praise, we have a better chance of getting a hearing for our later negative critiques. So, yes, I’m going to warn and caution, but not before I appreciate and praise.

So let’s now turn to the Bible.

“What? The Bible? What’s the Bible got to say about smartphones and snapchat?”

Nothing specifically, but everything in terms of general principles of guidance and direction.

“What do you mean?”

Well, you’re right, the Bible does not give an specific rules about digital technology. However, God has placed sufficient general principles in the Bible so that with the help of prayer and the Holy Spirit we can identify the relevant general principles and then apply them to today’s specific technological challenges.

“Right, hit me with it then. What does the Bible teach about technology?”

The first general principle we find in the Bible is that technology is created by God.

“O, come on, be serious, technology is of the Devil.”

No, the devil did not create technology, neither did Apple, Facebook, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerburg. The devil may abuse technology but God created it. Tech companies, and tech-titans may discover technology, but only because God had already created it.

“OK, so where’s the iPhone in Genesis 1?”

It’s there alright, not in finished form of course, but God created all the physical elements that manufacturers use to produce technology and he did it knowing that all these things would be required to make the iPhone. He also created the forces and powers that we need to make technology work: magnetism, electricity, radio-waves, and so on. And his creative work continues in the sense that he creates and directs the human minds that discovered and invented the silicon chip, the internet, fiber optics, and so on.

God is the ultimate Inventor of everything. He just allows men and women to discover what he has already invented. And that’s the first reason why I say, “Let’s worship God for digital technology. Because God created its materials, its forces, and its inventors brains and skills.”

And if you want a verse for that, try this one: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him” (Col. 1:16). Or “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3).

I’ll give you a second reason to amp up the praise tomorrow.

Check out

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 1:00am

How to Teach Boys to Respect Women
“First, fathers and male teachers, especially, can highlight the ways they learn from and are sharpened by godly, strong women—from the biblical examples of such leaders as Ruth and Priscilla and Lydia and our Lord’s mother Mary to our more immediate mothers- and sisters-in-Christ. If you are married, men, pay attention and give respect to the counsel of your wife. If you are a pastor, do not patronize women in your sermon illustrations or introductions. Highlight the creation and eschaton callings of women bound up in our common inheritance.”

4 Things I Learned from Stealing Credit Cards and Buying Beer in High School
Here’s an encouraging testimony for parents who are struggling with rebellious teens:

“One night a couple of friends and I foolishly broke into vehicles, stole credit cards, and drove throughout New Orleans buying beer and other things on the cash and credit cards we stole. We were arrested and charged with eleven felonies. The news hit the paper and the shame and guilt quickly consumed me. In God’s mercy, the night that was the worst night of my life was what He used to crush me and bring me to Himself. Here are four things I learned.”

What Christians Should Know About Embryo Adoption
“A hallmark of the evangelical church in America is the backing of a pro-life worldview. As such, abortion clinics and the politics that govern them are primary areas of focus in this important cause. However, there’s another front that often gets overlooked in the fight for life: the state of the thousands of children who remain cryogenically frozen as human embryos following in-vitro fertilization cycles.”

Five Reasons Why the Children’s Minister Is the Staff Position in Greatest Demand
The staff position of the greatest demand in congregations is the children’s minister.

Know These Signs Of Domestic Abuse So You Can Help
“Many abusive partners may seem absolutely perfect in the early stages of a relationship. Possessive and controlling behaviors don’t always appear overnight, but rather emerge and intensify as the relationship grows.” Warning signs that a relationship may be abusive include a partner who:”

Pornography, Respect, and Responsibility: A Letter to the Hotel Industry
“A letter on pornography and business ethics written by two prominent public intellectuals—one a Christian, one a Muslim—sent to hotel industry executives last week.”

Life In Post-Christian Britain
“American readers, especially Christians, so many of us think it can’t happen here. It can, and it will.”

Kindle Books

Being There: How to Love Those Who Are Hurting by Dave Furman $3.99.

I Exalt You, O God: Encountering His Greatness in Your Private Worship by Jerry Bridges $5.99.

Faith. Hope. Love.: The Christ-Centered Way to Grow in Grace by Mark Jones $4.99.

Who’s the Worship Leader when there’s no “Worship Leader”?

Mon, 02/12/2018 - 2:00am

Over the past years, I’ve been in a number of churches and conference settings where the worship was led by a worship leader or worship pastor. For those not familiar with the idea, in churches this is often a full-time paid position, sometimes a part-time position, and sometimes just voluntary. The worship leader is often involved in selecting the songs in consultation with the preacher, training musicians and singers, practicing through the week, and teaching the principles and practice of worship. Whether full-time or part-time, the climax of the work each week is leading the worship at the Sunday services.

I’ve seen this done really badly and I’ve seen it done really well. More recently, I’ve seen some good examples of this and appreciated the difference it’s made to the worship experience. It can be especially helpful in teaching and training people with no church background how to  worship God.

So, should conservative reformed churches adopt this practice?

Some of my Presbyterian friends will say, “Our precentor is our worship leader.” For those of you unfamiliar with this term, this is a person who leads the singing in Psalm-singing churches that do not use instrumental music. However, it’s hardly comparable to the modern day “worship leader.” Usually the precentor is given the psalms by the pastor just before the church service and he has a few minutes to choose the tunes and then sing the first few words in the hope that the congregation will recognize the tune and join in before too long. At its best, it’s heaven on earth; at its worst, well….

Some of my Dutch Reformed friends will say, “Our organist is the worship leader.” It’s true that the organist probably exercises the greatest influence over such worship services. An organist can make or break worship services. But should the organist be the most influential person in the worship?

Modern Innovation?
Many of my conservative reformed friends will be resistant to the modern idea of a “worship leader” and certainly of a “worship pastor.” They will view it as a modern innovation. “We never had them in the past. Why should we need them today?”

I’m sympathetic to this argument, especially because I’ve seen some really awful examples, where the worship leader ended up becoming the only worshipper, or, even worse, ended up being the one worshipped!

So let me suggest a “compromise,” one that I believe is biblical. Reformed pastors should view themselves not only as preachers but as worship leaders. Very few do. If you doubt that, ask how long most reformed pastors spend preparing their sermons, and then how long they spend preparing the worship. I know, I know, the sermon is the worship too; but I’m speaking especially here of the singing part of worship.

Let’s assume I’m right, that reformed pastors should be not only the best preachers they can be, but the best worship leaders they can be. What would this look like? How can a reformed pastor grow in his ability as a worship leader? Here are some basic steps to begin with.

1. Regularly teach the congregation about the elements of worship. Don’t assume that people know why we worship the way we do. By way of sermons, book recommendations, small booklets, articles, and occasional brief comments introducing the elements of worship, explain what we are doing and why.

2. Motivate people with the benefits of worship. Encourage worshippers by reminding them of how worship has a heavenward,  outward, and inward impact. Explain how God is pleased, unbelievers are impressed, and souls are healed via songs of praise.

3. Choose appropriate songs. Too often this is done at the last minute and almost as an afterthought to sermon preparation. The reformed worship leader should select songs that will form a fitting beginning, middle, and ending to the worship service, as well as fit the theme of the sermon. Songs should not simply be the pastor’s or the congregations favorites. And sometimes explain why you chose the song and the connection with the sermon.

4. Model a true worshipper. This is where I believe there is greatest room for reformation in reformed congregations. Way too often, the preacher is hardly opening his mouth during the worship songs. He is looking around the congregation, shuffling his papers, or just half-heartedly mumbling the words while his mind is clearly elsewhere. This must inevitably undermine the congregation’s worship. The pastor has a responsibility to be one of the most enthused and engaged worshippers in the whole congregation, in the hope that his example excites and ignites the whole congregation.

At this point I hear some objections rising up.

“But I’m not a singer.” Turn off your mic then and make a “joyful noise” to the Lord even if you can’t make a joyful harmony. If the sound of your worship can’t inspire others, the sight of your worship can.

“But I don’t want to be the center of attention.” You already are. You’re standing at the front, you’re visible to everyone, you’re the representative of God to the people and of the people to God. Accept the reality of this and take the responsibility for it. No one is asking you to raise or clap your hands. Just open your mouth wider and at least look alive.

“But I don’t want to be an actor.” Why assume that a vigorous worshipper is an actor? Maybe this gets to the heart of the problem, that worship is not in the heart. If true worship is in the heart, will it not naturally break out in at least the face and lips? I must confess sometimes I have acted in worship — but the act was to maintain a stoic “reformed” expression when my heart was bursting at the seams with joy. That kind of acting has got to be wrong.

“But people will think I’ve gone charismatic.” Seriously? Just because you look up from your psalter/hymnal from time to time, and actually put some energy into singing? Ever had a look into heavenly worship (Rev. 4, 5, 14, 15, 19, 22)?

“But this will feel so uncomfortable.” Initially, yes. But so did preaching at first, didn’t it? You’ll get used to it and so will the congregation. And think of the gain, not just the pain. Imagine the possibility of improved worship bringing more glory to God and more good to souls.

“But is this really that important?” Whether you’re Psalms, Hymns or CCM; whether you have a worship leader or are the worship leader, the principles of Keith Getty’s words are relevant:

“Singing isn’t just some side-subject. Singing is the second most common command in Scripture. So it has to be absolutely crucially important for the spiritual transformation of the individual, the family, the church, and the witness to the community…So any pastor who isn’t taking an active role in the leading of worship and working closely with his worship leader is probably abdicating his responsibilities.”

The Spirit of the Age: Age of the Spirit

Mon, 02/12/2018 - 1:00am

More details here.

Saved from Slavery (Video)

Fri, 02/09/2018 - 2:00am

Here’s the video to show your kids at the end of Expedition Six of Exploring the BibleIf you want to bookmark a page where all the videos will eventually appear, you can find them on my blog, on YouTube, or the Facebook page for Exploring the Bible.

If you haven’t started your kids on the book yet, you can begin anytime and use it with any Bible version.

You can get it at RHBWestminster BooksCrossway, or Amazon. Some of these retailers have good discounts for bulk purchases by churches and schools.

Check out

Fri, 02/09/2018 - 1:00am

Entrepreneur developed a solution to smartphone addiction now used in over 600 U.S. schools
“I don’t think people realize how radically different it is to be a human being with a phone in your pocket,” he said. “If it becomes something that’s going to hollow out the meaning in your life, that’s something we’re going to have to address. … All we’re saying is, step into a phone-free zone; see what that’s like for a while.”"

Why we need kind, compassionate dialogue about mental illness
“We need to talk about mental illness. But more than that, we need kindness and compassion. And we definitely don’t need simplistic remedies that betray ignorance.”

31 questions to ask for a more Christ-centered 2018
These are great questions for discipleship and positive counseling.

Brokenness Is Not a Barrier
This is quite the story. Looks like a book well worth a place in your library.

“I wish I had a fairy-tale ending to share, but I’m still disabled. I’m unable to do normal, everyday things: play ball with my kids, drive our car, open the car door or put my seatbelt on by myself. I can’t even pick up a glass of water or hold a book. I’m in pain 100 percent of the time. Joy is a daily, often hourly, fight.”

There’s Dignity at Work for the Gleaner and the Businessperson, Too
“When people learn what their work is worth in God’s eyes, they are freed to work with all their might for him and the good of others. They actually become better workers, recognizing that God has called them to responsibly steward all of their lives for his glory and the benefit of their neighbor.”

Is Homosexual Practice No Worse Than Any Other Sin? by Robert A. J. Gagnon
“As we shall see, there is a mountain of evidence from Scripture (in addition to reason and experience) that shows (1) sins do differ in significance to God and (2) God regards homosexual practice as a particularly severe sexual sin.

Kindle Books

The Silent Shepherd: The Care, Comfort, and Correction of the Holy Spirit by John MacArthur Jr. $2.39.

The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship by Jonathan Holmes $2.99. EXCELLENT BOOK.

New Book

Kiss the Wave: Embracing God in Your Trials by Dave Furman.

The Competitive Advantage of Digital Discipline

Wed, 02/07/2018 - 2:00am

Listen to the Revive our Hearts series of broadcasts on Refresh here.

Check out

Wed, 02/07/2018 - 1:00am

How does food expose the activity in a pastor’s soul?
“Pastors, be honest with the place food has in your life. It took me thirty years before I was honest about it. It will always be a battle for me. I assure you, the soul will continue to languish in the pain and sadness that exists that food tries to cover. Remember, God’s grace will meet you in that place of openness and honesty and will give you strength to walk in self-control and victory with the snares that food brings. It will create a space in your soul that will bring the relief and peace that you truly seek.”

The Effective Leader: Five Essential Habits
“What I’ve discovered in studying effective leaders is that they demonstrate consistent disciplines or habits that build the foundation for their success.”

On Writing Books and Getting Published
ots of helpful advice here from Kevin DeYoung.

10 types of thinking that undergird depression-anxiety
“There are styles of thinking that are highly prone to cause and perpetuate depression-anxiety. The first step for someone to stop biting their nails is to realize they are doing it. Likewise, an important step in overcoming depression-anxiety is to recognize these patterns of thought as they are occurring.”

The Power of De-Conversion Stories: How Jen Hatmaker is Trying to Change Minds About the Bible
“De-conversion stories are designed not to reach non-Christians but to reach Christians.  And their purpose is to convince them that their crusty, backwards, outdated, naïve beliefs are no longer worthy of their assent.  Whether done privately or publicly, this is when a person simply gives their testimony of how they once thought like you did and have now seen the light.”

The Benefits of Listening to the Elderly
Sweet little story.

Kindle Books

The Son of God and the New Creation by Graeme Goldsworthy $3.99.

Work and Our Labor in the Lord by James M. Hamilton Jr. $3.99

Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel by Raymond C. Ortlund Jr. $3.99

The Book on Leadership by John F. MacArthur $2.99.