Head Heart Hand
Have we Christians made Marriage too Complicated?
Here’s a thought-provoking post. It jives with much of my own experience.
Can Leadership Be Learned?
Ed Stetzer says yes.
“There is an old phrase, “Leaders are learners.” I think that is true, but would add you can learn your way into leadership. Most pastors I know have had the same experience over and over. They’ve not learning, but just repeating the experience of the last year or years. So, get some books. Do some reading. Get a mentor. Leadership can be learned if we will be learners.”
Descriptions and Prescriptions
An interview with Mike Emlet about his landmark new book.
When it comes to issues of psychiatric diagnoses and medications it is too easy for Christians to go to one extreme or the other. That is, to either grant too much authority to psychiatric classifications and solutions for people’s problems as though Scripture is irrelevant for issues of mental distress. Or to dismiss them altogether as though medical science is irrelevant for issues of mental suffering in Christians. I wrote this book to present a nuanced “third way” between those two extremes that is grounded in Scripture, does justice to human beings as embodied souls, respects the role of scientific inquiry, and suggests compassionate and wise ways to minister to those who are struggling with mental illness in our churches.
Jared challenges us to expand our thoughts and words.
“The challenge is clear: to train our minds and hearts to think bigger and better thoughts about God. To read authors who take us to new heights of theological devotion. To be around Christians who are smarter and wiser than we are. To preach sermons that strive for both simplicity and profundity. To be churches where young Christians are comfortable but mature Christians frequently challenged as well. Which is all to say that we need to be people of the Word of God because only the Bible manages such a feat.”
Truth I’m Trying to Hold Onto
Mike’s list of therapeutic truths would be good for everyone to print out and keep in front of them.
“I’m going through a rather dark season of the soul. At times it’s just my depression talking and kind words are being filtered through a wickedly unhelpful lens. And at times it’s just that I’m enduring criticism on a daily basis for something or another. And I’m usually right there in the crowd yelling, “crucify him”. And so when my feelings are all jacked up I try my best to meditate upon things that I know to be true. “
Hell Is Not Separation From God
Contrary to what you may have heard, and even said:
“Whatever the exact nature of this everlasting judgment, it is horrible ultimately for one reason only: God is present.”Kindle Books
Running on Empty: The Gospel for Women in Ministry by Barbara Bancroft $1.99.
Taking Hold of God: Reformed and Puritan Perspectives on Prayer by Joel Beeke and Brian Najapfour $2.99.
Developing A Healthy Prayer Life by James Beeke $2.99.Video
What is depression?
Here’s a TedEd video with some good background info on depression. Most staggering fact: “According to the National Institute for Mental Health, it takes the average person suffering with a mental illness over ten years to ask for help.”
One of the privileges of working at PRTS is the weekly arrival of new books to supplement our library of 70,000+ books. Here are some of the new selections this week.
Note: Inclusion in the library does not necessarily mean endorsement of contents. We often have to buy books to help students with specialist theses and also to train students to think critically. Also, a book new to the library does not necessarily mean a new book on the market.
Religion in Enlightenment England: An Anthology of Primary Sources by Jayne Elizabeth Lewis
“Religion in Enlightenment England introduces its readers to a rich array of British Christian texts published between 1660 and 1750. The anthology documents the arc of Christian writings from the reestablishment of the Church of England to the rise of the Methodist movement in the middle of the eighteenth century. The Enlightenment era witnessed the explosion of mass print culture and the unprecedented expansion of literacy across society. These changes transformed many inherited Christian genres―such as the sermon and the devotional manual―while also generating new ones, from the modern church hymn to spiritual autobiography.”
“The debate over the relation between election and free will has a central place in the study of Reformation theology. Phillipp Melanchthon’s reputation as the intellectual founder of Lutheranism has tended to obscure the differences between the mature doctrinal positions of Melanchthon and Martin Luther on this key issue. Gregory Graybill charts the progression of Melanchthon’s position on free will and divine predestination as he shifts from agreement to an important innovation upon Luther’s thought.”
Encountering the History of Missions: From the Early Church to Today by Robert L. Gallagher and John Mark Terry
“Two leading missionary scholars and experienced professors help readers understand how missions began, how missions developed, and where missions is going. The authors cover all of missions history and provide practical application of history’s lessons.”
Saved by Faith and Hospitality by Joshua W. Jipp
“Too few Christians today, says Joshua Jipp, understand hospitality to strangers and the marginalized as an essential part of the church’s identity. In this book Jipp argues that God’s relationship to his people is fundamentally an act of hospitality to strangers, and that divine and human hospitality together are thus at the very heart of Christian faith.”
Wrestling with Isaiah: The Exegetical Methodology of Campegius Vitringa by Charles Telfer
“Campegius Vitringa (1659-1722) of Franeker University was a biblical scholar of considerable influence for the first half of the 18th century. Similar to that of Calvin, his exegetical methodology attempts to walk a via media between the historicism of Grotius (1583-1645) and the Christocentrism of Cocceius (1603-1669). His magnum opus was a widely-acclaimed commentary on Isaiah (1720). Vitringa scholars have charted his influence along a historical-critical trajectory (including Schultens, Venema, Alberti, Manger, Delitzsch, and Gesenius) and along a Pietistic trajectory (including Franke, Lange, and Bengel, leading toward Lessing, Herder and German Idealism). The book includes the first biography in English and compares his hermeneneutical theoria with his praxis. It analyzes Vitringa’s exegetical presuppositions, his remarkably high view of the Bible, and his canones hermeneuticos (highly valued by J.J. Rambach [1693-1735]). It shows Vitringa’s contextual sensitivity at every level of exegesis, commitment to New Testament normativity in the reading of Isaiah (in which redemptive history is the ultimate hermeneutical horizon), nuanced views on the historical fulfillment of prophecy, and concern for pastoral application.”
“Jaroslav Pelikan has been translating, editing and studying the Christian creeds and confessions of faith for 60 years. This book is the historical and theological distillation of that work. In “Credo”, Pelikan addresses essential questions about the Christian tradition: the origins of creeds; their function; their political role; how they relate to Christian institutions, worship and service; and how they help to explain the major divisions of the Christian church and of Christian history.”
T&T Clark Companion to Reformation Theology by David M. Whitford
“This volume introduces the main theological topics of Reformation theology in a language that is clear and concise. Theology in the Reformation era can be complicated and contentious. This volume aims to cut through the theological jargon and explain what people believed and why.”
Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought by Joshua A. Berman
“In Created Equal, Joshua Berman engages the text of the Hebrew Bible from a novel perspective, considering it as a document of social and political thought. He proposes that the Pentateuch can be read as the earliest prescription on record for the establishment of an egalitarian polity. What emerges is the blueprint for a society that would stand in stark contrast to the surrounding cultures of the ancient Near East — Egypt, Mesopotamia, Ugarit, and the Hittite Empire – in which the hierarchical structure of the polity was centered on the figure of the king and his retinue. Berman shows that an egalitarian ideal is articulated in comprehensive fashion in the Pentateuch and is expressed in its theology, politics, economics, use of technologies of communication, and in its narrative literature.”
“This book considers John Calvin’s interpretation of the Pauline epistles, discussing his interpretive method and the link between biblical interpretation and correct doctrine. It introduces a division between doctrinal hermeneutics and textual exegetical rules clarifying Calvin’s relationship to the antecedent and subsequent traditions. The book portrays Calvin as a theologian for whom the doctrinal and exegetical tasks cohered, especially in the context of the Church in the Reformations.”
This book explores the organic motif found throughout the writings of the Dutch Calvinist theologian Herman Bavinck (1854-1921). Noting that Bavinck uses this motif at key points in the most important loci of theology; Christology, general and special revelation, ecclesiology and so forth; it seems that one cannot read him carefully without particular attention to his motif of choice: the organic. By examining the sense in which Bavinck views all of reality as a beautiful balance of unity-in-diversity, James Eglinton draws the reader to Bavinck’s constant concern for the doctrine of God as Trinity. If God is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Bavinck argues, the creation must be more akin to an organism than a machine. Trinity and organism are thus closely linked concepts.
God and Soul Care: The Therapeutic Resources of the Christian Faith by Eric L. Johnson
“In God and Soul Care―a companion to Foundations for Soul Care―Eric L. Johnson explores the riches of Christian theology, from the heights of the Trinity to the mysteries of eschatology. Each chapter not only serves as an overview of a key doctrine, but also highlights the therapeutic implications of this doctrine for Christian counseling and psychology. A groundbreaking achievement in the synthesis of theology and psychology, God and Soul Care is an indispensable resource for students, scholars, pastors, and clinicians.”
Undomesticated Dissent: Democracy and the Public Virtue of Religious Nonconformity by Curtis W. Freeman
“Undomesticated Dissent provides a sweeping intellectual history of the public virtue of religiously motivated dissent from the seventeenth century to the present, by carefully comparing, contrasting, and then weighing the various types of dissent―evangelical and spiritual dissent (Bunyan), economic and social dissent (Defoe), radical and apocalyptic dissent (Blake).”
“Maarten Wisse develops a critique of dominant trends in contemporary theology through a re-reading of Augustine’s De Trinitate. Theological topics covered include the thinking about the relationship of between God and World as participation of the finite in the infinite, Christology as a manifestation of this ontology of participation, Trinity as a model for our relational mode of being and deification (theosis) as the purpose of salvation.”
Martin Luther’s Theology of Beauty: A Reappraisal by Mark C. Mattes
“Many contemporary theologians seek to retrieve the concept of beauty as a way for people to encounter God. This groundbreaking book argues that while Martin Luther’s view of beauty has often been ignored or underappreciated, it has much to contribute to that quest. Mark Mattes, one of today’s leading Lutheran theologians, analyzes Luther’s theological aesthetics and discusses its implications for music, art, and the contemplative life. Mattes shows that for Luther, the cross is the lens through which the beauty of God is refracted into the world.”
Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken by David Powlison
“This book offers hope for both the sexually immoral and the sexually victimized, pointing us all to the grace of Jesus Christ, who mercifully intervenes each moment in our lifelong journey toward renewal. Author David Powlison casts a vision for the key to deep transformation, better than anything the world has to offer—not just fresh resolve, not just flimsy forgiveness, not just simple formulas, but true, lasting mercy from God, who is making all things new.”
When the job you love hurts you: exploring burnout in the workplace
“According to Merv Gilbert, an adjunct professor of health sciences at Simon Fraser University, workplace burnout has three components. “You’re just wiped out. You don’t have any energy. The second thing is de-personalization or detachment. You just feel disconnected from what you’re doing. “The third thing is a sense of failure. You’re really not getting a sense of achievement or accomplishment from what you’re doing anymore,” he said. While Gilbert said it’s unclear whether burnout is becoming more prevalent, people are beginning to open up about their experiences. ”
Life Is Short
“Numbering our days is not an excuse for irresponsibility. It’s an invitation to think more seriously about eternity. It’s a call to work for the things that will keep working when we can’t.”
Dear Extended Families of Expats
Yesterday we said goodbye to my 79-year-old father and my 75-year-old mother who were visiting us from Scotland, probably for the last time.
“If you’re a close friend or family of someone who has moved far away to serve the Lord, you may feel saddened by their absence, or even abandoned. I want to tell you, on behalf of all of us expatriates (“expats”), that we love you. We really do. Whether we’ve moved away to serve as occupational missionaries or follow God’s leading to start a business, work in education, or study at a school, we miss you. Hopefully this letter will explain our situation and encourage you. ”
Introducing ‘Exploring the Bible’
“Reading the Bible is like taking a trip through God’s story, setting out to explore and experience the beautiful views found within. But without a map, it’s easy to get lost. Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids leads children ages 6–12 through the Bible one day at a time over the course of a year. Designed for use alongside any Bible, this workbook will help kids see the overarching story of Scripture and lay the foundation for a lifetime of discovering truths about God, humanity, and the gospel.”
Six Ways to Inspire Confident, Contagious Faith in Your Kids
“How do we help children and teens contend with the big questions? An apologist offers her take.”
Only Love Prevents Adultery
“Dear Friend, Although we haven’t met, I know at least one thing about you. I know you didn’t enter your marriage thinking, “How can I ruin this? How can I bring pain to this man, and our families, and our friends?” You began your marriage hoping it would become a life-long love story, filled with deep joy and satisfaction. And yet here you are today, thinking about things you never thought possible.”
The Half-Way Covenant & Whole-Hearted Youth Ministry
“Baptists and Presbyterians can agree regarding one application of child baptism in church history. What was known as the Half-way Covenant was a bad idea. Yet from it we can gain a valuable lesson regarding the church’s gospel duty to young people.”
Why do we take our individual, personality, character, gifts, or calling and make that the sum total of godliness for everyone else?
The introvert equates godliness with quietness.
The extrovert equates godliness with activity.
The generous person equates godliness with giving.
The social person equates godliness with hospitality.
The workaholic equates godliness with hard-work.
The pastor equates godliness with preaching gifts.
The counselor equates godliness with discipling gifts.
The home-educator equates godliness with home-schooling.
The missionary equates godliness with mission support.
The evangelist equates godliness with outreach.
The reader equates godliness with a large library.
The happy person equates godliness with cheerfulness.
The melancholy person equates godliness with guilt.
The courageous person equates godliness with public witness.
The political person equates godliness with social action.
The practical person equates godliness with doing.
The intellectual person equates godliness with thinking.
The emotional person equates godliness with feelings.
The friendly person equates godliness with having lots of friends.
The artsy person equated godliness with “cultural engagement.”
Godliness should be measured not so much by what comes easiest to us but by the progress we’re making in areas we’re weakest in.
In The Disciple-Making Parent, Chap Betis says that “the years of twelve to twenty-one are absolutely crucial years in our children’s walk with the Lord.” Up to age 12, they have learned the faith of their parents, but about age 12 or 13 onwards they begin the process of either making that faith their own or of walking away from it.
It’s in the early teen years that they often start asking more challenging questions, they compare what they’ve been taught with what they see in the lives of Christians, and temptation grows more frequent and powerful.
At this point Chap Betis has seen parents fall into one of two extremes: disengagement or tighten control.
Disengagement: “One group of parents backs off. They throw up their hands, looking for the youth leader to keep their kids in the kingdom.”
Tighten Control: “They still seek to make the smaller decisions for their young person just like when their child was five or six. Rather than asking questions to understand the thoughts their child is having, they’re still inclined to lecture. They do not recognize the changes that have occurred in their children.”
How then do we engage our children without controlling them? Betis answers:
Rather than employing command and control, we must become a persuading and inquiring coach. While obedience is still required, we must influence with our words, giving the reasons for what we say. This is the season of life when our emphasis should move to principles. As parents, this role change means that we are simultaneously an authority and a fellow disciple, an instructor and a fellow learner…The goal in discipleship is to move from command to persuasion, from discipline to discernment, from external controls to internal controls, and from parent control to Spirit control (1 Thessalonians 2:7, 11-12).
Nabeel Qureshi (1983-2017)
This is a beautiful tribute to the muslim convert turned Christian apologist.
On Saturday, September 16, 2017, Nabeel Qureshi, age 34, entered into the joy of his master, Jesus Christ, after enduring a yearlong battle with cancer.
Five Consequences of a Life Out of Balance
Michael Hyatt explains “5 very important assets you are potentially putting at risk if you don’t keep your normal workload under 55 hours a week.” I’d simply add that habitually working 55+ hours per week is a recipe for disaster.
For Pastors: How to Vet Potential Counseling Referral Sources
“As a pastor, it will serve you well to get to know the mental health professionals in your community and identify several who have a strong faith commitment that can be a part of a trusted referral network. This post is meant to help you think through how to vet counselors in your community; whether (a) you are new to a community and building an initial referral network, or (b) a new counselor contacts your church and wants to become a referral resource.”
Boy or Girl? How do we relate to Transgender People?
“How should we respond to people who experience what is now called ‘gender dysphoria’ – someone who is deeply distressed by the disconnect between their sex and their sense of gender. How should we respond? We should do as Jesus commands and love our neighbour. That’s what we called to do no matter who we’re engaging with. But what does it look like to love your transgender neighbour in particular? Let me suggest several things…”
Kaine Is Simply Not Able to Speak Up Rightly for the “Least of These”
Ed Stetzer exposes Tim Kaine’s hypocrisy. As Ed says, the “least of these” includes the unborn.
When a Hurricane Destroys Your Distractions
This is a fascinating article about the social benefits of Hurricane Irma.
When my entire neighborhood was thrust out of our air conditioning, we discovered the gifts of community—good conversation, sharing stories, knowing that people are concerned for our welfare, s’mores. It was beautiful.
The Truth about the Rapture
Danny Hyde has produced a short eBook to present the Reformed view of the rapture. ”
Feeding on Christ When Jesus Read the Bible
“Here are 14 ways that Jesus would have understood the Old Testament to have been written both to and about Himself.”
Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole by Eric Mason $2.99.
Beating the College Debt Trap: Getting a Degree Without Going Broke by Alex Chediack $5.99.
Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken by David Powlison.
Westminster Bookstore have published an interview with me about Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids. They also have some great discounts for the next week with up to 50% off. Details here.
Here’s the first question and answer:
1) So far you’ve only written books for adults. Why write a book for kids and why did you choose this particular project?
To be honest, I didn’t set out to write a book for kids. A number of years ago, I started preparing a daily Bible reading plan for my own kids. It was usually 3-5 verses with either a simple question to answer or a verse to write out. Doing that, we worked our way through many different books of the Bible.
At some point I started posting the weekly plans online as I thought other parents might want to use them, and I was amazed at the positive response. There seemed to be a real demand for a simple daily Bible reading plan for kids. Crossway approached me a couple of years ago and we started talking about how we could adapt this into a book format that would take kids through the Bible in a year, resulting in Exploring the Bible.
Click through for answers to further questions such as:
2) Often Bible reading plans and devotionals for kids are either too ambitious or too watered down. How did you strike that balance to make this a substantive yet doable plan for kids (and their parents)?
3) What makes the 8-12 age range such an important time to read through the whole Bible?
4) As a pastor, what is your hope for the kids in your own church who use this book?
You can access sample pages here.
Four Types of Questions NOT to Ask in Your Small Group Bible Study
Melissa Kruger on the importance of asking the right questions in education:
The more years I taught, the more I realized students learned as much from my questions as my explanations. While lecture may offer knowledge, comprehension and even some application, questions force students deeper into Bloom’s taxonomy–analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Questions allow students to verbalize their understanding and learn as they share their answers. The mind focuses and engages in a different way when asked something than when told something.
Get Up, Stand Up!
The New York Times on the dangers of sitting
The scientists then found strong statistical correlations between sitting and mortality. The men and women who sat for the most hours every day, according to their accelerometer data, had the highest risk for early death, especially if this sitting often continued for longer than 30 minutes at a stretch. The risk was unaffected by age, race, gender or body mass. It also was barely lowered if people exercised regularly. But interestingly, the risk of early death did drop if sitting time was frequently interrupted. People whose time spent sitting usually lasted for less than 30 minutes at a stretch were less likely to have died than those whose sitting was more prolonged, even if the total hours of sitting time were the same.
Suggested Steps for Going from Text to Sermon
Great checklist, and not just for beginning preachers.
Why Relaxing Vacations Should Be at Least Eight Days Long
“Sometimes a quick vacation is better than nothing, but if you can swing it, try for at least eight days. Research suggests you need at least that much time to truly unwind and feel refreshed.
Pastoring Singles in a Sex-Crazed, Gender-Confused World
“Christian singles must pursue holiness in a world of friends with benefits, genderless children, and polyamory. They’ll be tested as to what they believe about sexuality, gender, and marriage. We all will. If we’re to shepherd singles faithfully in this sex-crazed, gender-confused world, we need to ground them in what the Bible teaches about being a Christian and being single. Here are six truths the Bible affirms about singleness.”
How to Journal through the Psalms
Journal your way through each psalm under three subheads: Prepare, Personalize, and Pray. Let’s give it a try with Psalm 3.
Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission by Amy Simpson $4.99. Wonderful book. Cannot commend it enough.
Anxious: Choosing Faith in a World of Worry by Amy Simpson $3.99. A real eye-opener into the complex nature of anxiety and the need for a holistic approach.
Forgotten Songs by Ray Van Neste $2.99.
What’s the age range for Exploring the Bible?
That’s the most common question I’ve been asked about my forthcoming children’s book. The official answer is 6-12, but now there’a a better way to judge. Crossway have supplied some sample pages so that you can make up your own minds.
The sample includes the introduction explaining the format and also the value of daily Bible reading. Then follows two of the fifty-two week-long expeditions, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament. Have a look and see if it would be suitable for your kids.
You can pre-order the book on Amazon and get it sent to you in a couple of weeks when it comes available. Or you can hop on over to Reformation Heritage Books who managed to snag a number of pre-launch boxes. They are offering a special pre-launch price of $9 or you can get a pack of five for $40. Westminster Books also have some pre-launch copies available here.
As a number of churches are planning to use this resource in their Sunday Schools, Crossway are also offering discounts for twenty or more. You can contact them here to get more details.
Download the sample pages here.
Survey: Being a Pastor’s Wife Is Good for Faith, Bad for Friendship
Some positives in this report:
“Overall, pastors’ spouses see their family’s ministry involvement as a good thing; 90 percent say it has had a positive effect, according to LifeWay. More than half commit to regular family time at least once a week to avoid burnout and rest together. While some spouses suffer anxiety, depression, and resentment tied to the pressures of being married to a pastor, most report being generally happy and satisfied with their lives. They view themselves as happier than their peers (74%) and see their work as valuable to the ministry (88%).”
Closely Connected Care
In the aftermath of the hurricanes and other disasters, does the Bible offer any guidance on what our priorities should be in the face of so many competing needs?
Entitlement Will Rob You of Rest
“If entitlement is so dangerous, and often so subtle, how can we fight it? I recommend three steps to move from a spirit of entitlement to a spirit of rest: diagnose your heart, remember your God, and imitate your Savior.”
Popular Author Stumbles — What Should We Do With His Books?
Helpful answer here from John Piper:
If a writer does move in a seriously defective direction doctrinally or morally, we have good reason to reread what he has written and be on the lookout for the seeds and trajectories that might give some explanation for why he went in such a wrong direction.
Should We Pull the Plug on Cable News?
One of many insights from this piece by Trevin Wax:
Could it be that the reason Andy Crouch’s cultural analysis is so astute and Piper’s devotional and exegetical writing is so compelling is because they don’t spend time in front of the screen?
The Overcommitted Church
“Many churches have become too busy for their own good. They have so many activities, programs, events, and services that they are wearing out their congregations. Here is the irony. Most of the activities in these churches were started with a noble cause to make a difference in the congregation and the community. But the members became so busy they don’t have time to connect with people in a meaningful way. The overcommitted church has become the ineffective church. So how did our churches get in this predicament? The causes are many, but here are seven of them:”
An Abundance of Counselors
“The Lord himself is our great Counselor. In addition to his word and the work of his Spirit within us, he uses people to aid us in making wise decisions. There are at least two ways in which the “abundance of counselors” principle should be applied in our lives:”
4 Ways Pastors Can Help With Mental Health
Most pastors I know prefer serving on the prevention side of mental health. In all honesty, we are not adequately trained to assess, much less diagnose, many mental health issues. Here are four proactive ways we can help lead a mentally healthy ministry.
Have a look down this page for some wonderful commentaries at $4.99 each. I almost always consult these when preparing sermons.
My assistant Sarah Perez has just completed the herculean task of organizing and categorizing the many online articles I’ve gathered over the years on the subject of depression. Thank you, Sarah! After my favorite books on depression, you will find articles organized under the general outline of Love, Know, Speak, Do (See Paul Tripp’s Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands). You can find more resources on other subjects here.Favorite Books on Depression
I’m Not Supposed to Feel Like This by Chris Williams (and others).
Dealing with Depression by Sarah Collins and Jayne Haynes.
A Practical Workbook for the Depressed Christian by Dr John Lockley.
Overcoming Spiritual Depression by Arie Elshout.
Depression: Looking Up From The Stubborn Darkness by Ed Welch.
D Is For Depression by Michael Lawson.
Spiritual Depression: Its Causes And Cure by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
Broken Minds by Steve and Robyn Bloem.
Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission by Amy Simpson.
Christians Get Depressed Too: Hope and Help for The Depressed by David Murray.
Other helpful books include:
If I’m a Christian, Why Am I Depressed? by Robert B. Somerville
Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness by Matthew Stanford
These links will help you build an understanding of the problem in general. Included are definitions, personal testimonies, and research.
Personal Accounts and Testimonies
Helping and Understanding
Research and Statistics
These links will help you find out about the problem in more detail. This includes interpretations, information on specific issues, and possible causes.
Childhood Trauma and Difficulties
Cutting and Self-Harm
Depression in Pastors and Ministry Leaders
These links start to provide possible guidance, advice, or direction – resources for speaking into someone’s life.
These links include practical advice and possible “homework” for a counselee.
Serious Sins | Kevin DeYoung
“If we as Christian laypeople, Christian pastors, and Christian churches never talk about sexual sin, only talk about sexual sin, ignore what the Ten Commandments say about sin, or refuse to warn people of the dire consequences of sin, we are doing something wrong.”
What’s changed in Britain since same-sex marriage? | The Spectator Australia
“In the United Kingdom, it has become abundantly clear that redefinition has affected many people, across many spheres. At first glance, these spheres appeared distinct from marriage redefinition. However, subsequent changes, have proved that they are entirely intertwined.”
Goldilocks, Psychiatric Diagnoses, and Psychoactive Medications | CCEF
Mike Emlet introduces his excellent new book, Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications.
“There is no doubt that many people suffer greatly with emotions and patterns of thinking that bring grave hardship to them and to their loved ones. The pressing issue is how best to know and understand their struggles. And then, having understood, how best to provide compassionate and wise help. After all, we are called to “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Psychiatric diagnostic classification and psychoactive medications provide a way to understand and help those who are burdened in particular ways. This book assesses the limitations and benefits of understanding and helping people using that lens.”
How the Minor Prophets Help Us Enjoy Jesus | Desiring God
“The Minor Prophets will help you enjoy Jesus more deeply, if you let them. Why not begin your journey to greater joy in Jesus through reading the Minor Prophets? Pray that through these twelve short books God would open your eyes wider to see wonderful things in his word (Psalm 119:18) and shine into your heart brighter “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 3:18–4:6).”
Rejoice in the Wife of Your Youth: A Letter to a Would-be Adulterer
“However cute that woman might be that you’re tempted toward, ask yourself if your legacy is worth destroying for a moment of stolen pleasure. Your sin will quickly turn into a bitter aftertaste you’ll be spitting out of your mouth for the rest of your life. But God is positioning you and your wife to bless the generations yet to come. Embrace the vision! Don’t throw your legacy away!”
6 Ways to Teach Like Jesus | Facts & Trends
“If you want to be a better preacher, look no further than Jesus. Tell stories, be shocking, craft memorable statements, use object lessons, and repeat.”
5 Reasons Why People are Unproductive at Work – Michael Hyatt
“There are hundreds of reasons that emerge in job satisfaction surveys and conversations with workers. But five reasons really stand out to me.”
America’s Epidemic: How Opioid Addicts Find Help in the Church
“In 2010, Americans—which make up less than 5 percent of the world’s population—consumed 80 percent of the world’s opioids and 99 percent of its hydrocodones (semi-synthetic opiates like Vicodin or Lortab). “America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks,” the report said. “[I]f this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone it soon will.”
Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications by Mike Emlet. Here’s my commendation:
Any book that has ‘A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications’ in its subtitle is going to be huge, complex, impractical, and highly controversial. Right? Wrong! Mike Emlet has managed to write a short, accessible, and immensely practical book on this vital subject. And he’s done it in such a sensible, balanced, and biblical way that the book will promote peace and unity rather than debate and division. Here is help for the helpers and for the helpless.Kindle Books
Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom by Ryan Anderson $1.99.
History of Israel by Walter Kaiser $2.99.
Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God’s Word Today by David Helm $3.99.
Probably the most common question I’m asked about teaching Christ from the Old Testament is how to interpret the Old Testament types. Here’s a podcast conversation about the subject between myself and Nancy Guthrie. We also talk about the crisis in my own life that resulted in me writing Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture.
5 Ways to Focus at Work, from an Executive Who’s Struggled with ADHD
“Once I entered the working world, I knew I had to make some changes. I couldn’t spend my life running away from this problem, especially if I wanted to succeed in sales, my chosen field. I’d have to organize and track my interactions with prospects and clients and stay attentive to their needs. Through a lot of trial and error, I’ve discovered several work-arounds that can help anyone struggling to stay focused at work.”
What is God Saying to Us?
“Understandably, people are trying to make sense of these devastating natural disasters. “What is God saying to us?” is the question of the hour. Many of the responses are less than satisfying. Some are extremely unhelpful. As I have listened to these suggestions, Martin Luther’s wise counsel keeps ringing in my ears; “Let the man who would hear God speak, read holy Scripture.”"
Having Mental Health Issues Doesn’t Mean You’re a Bad Christian
“I’m here to say mental health issues happen to everyday people—even to believers who are strong in faith and have friends, because it happened to me. The bad part was the sense of shame some Christians made me feel about my emotional struggles, but as I discovered how God views healing, I realized it wasn’t my faith that was flawed; it was their views toward mental health and faith.”
10 ways to pastor adoptive parents and those considering adoption
“There are many ways that you can express your pastoral care for those considering adoption and those who have adopted already. As an adoptive father and former pastor, I offer a few thoughts on how to help adoption become a biblically based, heart-led, missional movement in your church and not merely another program on your church’s list.”
The Largest Survey Ever Conducted of American Religious and Denominational Identity: 14 Major Findings from a Landmark Study | TGC
“PRRI (Public Religion Research Institute)—a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to conducting independent research at the intersection of religion, culture, and public policy—has released their report on the 2016 American Values Atlas (AVA), which was the single largest survey of American religious and denominational identity ever conducted.”
Rescuing Souls from Death
“Rescuing souls involves evangelizing, preaching, teaching, disciple-making, disciplining, rebuking, exhorting, comforting, encouraging, and praying. Rescuing souls even involves rescuing the lives of the unborn from being murdered, helping to care for those who are rescued, and trying to rescue the souls of those who attempt to murder the unborn. ”
Restoring Fallen Leaders Back to Ministry?
“Those who defend fallen Christian leaders as “wounded warriors,” and put all the emphasis on their need to heal and be productive and use their gifts, often do not seem to grasp the harm done to the church, the body of Christ, and the damage done to the credibility of the gospel among unbelievers.”
Developments in Biblical Counseling by Cameron Fraser $2.99. My endorsement of this book:
Cameron knows his subject, writes simply and clearly, and assesses positions in a fair and balanced way. This book will help readers navigate the different approaches in biblical counseling.
Compassionate Jesus: Rethinking the Christian’s Approach to Modern Medicine by Christopher Bogosh $2.99.
Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith by Jen Pollock Michael $2.99.
After preaching a sermon on he necessity of the fear of God in public worship, a friend reminded me, “If you want a nail driven in, you have to hit it more than once.” With that in mind I set about a survey of the Bible’s teaching and found forty truths about fearing God to help hammer in the nail. Brief expositions of some of these verses can be found in Pastor Al Martin’s The Forgotten Fear: Where have all the God-Fearers Gone? (RHB) and Arnold Frank’s The Fear Of God: A Forgotten Doctrine (RHB).
Fearing God is the right reaction to sin, guilt, and shame (Gen. 3:10).
Fearing God will flow from being in the presence of God (Gen. 28:16-17: Ex. 3:6).
Fearing God is an appropriate response to God’s character (Gen. 31:42).
Fearing God is an essential characteristic of Christian leaders (Ex.18:21).
Fearing God is the ultimate purpose of divine revelation (Deut. 4:10).
Fearing God should flow from the administration of justice (Deut. 17:13; 21:19-21).
Fearing God is the mark of an exceptional believer (Neh. 7:2).
Fearing God is approved by God and noted by Satan (Job 1:1, 9).
Fearing God is the right response to the exalted Christ (Ps.2:10-11).
Fearing God is to be mixed with joy (Ps. 2:10-11).
Fearing God will happen where mission is successful (Ps. 67:7).
Fearing God assures us of God’s mercy and love (Ps. 103:11, 13).
Fearing God is the result of forgiveness (Ps. 130:4).
Fearing God is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7).
Fearing God is the end of wisdom (Eccl. 12:13-14).
Fearing God turns us away from evil (Prov. 3:7).
Fearing God will extend your life (Prov. 10:27) and improve the quality of your life (Prov. 14:27).
Fearing God will make you happier than millions of dollars (Prov. 15:16).
Fearing God neutralizes envy and is to be present throughout our lives (Prov. 23:17).
Fearing God is more important than looks in choosing a wife (Prov. 31:30).
Fearing God is a dominant trait in the Messiah and will always accompany the work of the Holy Spirit (Isa. 11:2-3).
Fearing God is the promised gift of God to new covenant believers (Jer. 32:40).
Fearing God helps them persevere in the faith (Jer. 32:40).
Fearing God is commanded by Jesus (Matt. 10:28).
Fearing God is still expected of God’s people in the New Testament (Luke 1:49-50).
Fearing God grows in response to miracles (Luke 5:8).
Fearing God was one of the fruits of Pentecost (Acts 2:43).
Fearing God is a spiritually healthy reaction to his judgments in the church (Acts 5:5,11).
Fearing God is a mark of the New Testament church and is consistent with the comforting work of the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:31).
Fearing God is deepened by sovereign election (Rom. 11:20-21).
Fearing God is a motive for evangelism (2 Cor. 5:10-11).
Fearing God motivates sanctification (2 Cor. 7:1).
Fearing God is the framework for a biblical marriage (Eph. 5:21).
Fearing God makes us better employees (Col. 3:22).
Fearing God is the context for working out our salvation (Phil. 2:12-13).
Fearing God assists perseverance in faith (Heb. 4:1).
Fearing God is intensified by redemption and continues throughout our whole lives (1 Peter 1:17-19).
Fearing God is an essential part of successful witnessing (1 Peter 3:15).
Fearing God is God’s last sermon to the world (Rev. 14:6-7).
Fearing God continues into eternity (Rev. 15:3-4; 19:4-5).
The Apollos Project – Raising an Alien Child | Jen Wilkin
“We are going to ask our children to think and live differently than the world in five different areas. ”
You Know You’re Preaching When… | The Christward Collective
“Preaching is a combination of certain elements. Preaching contains teaching or truth, but it is more than information dissemination. Preaching is a combination of spirit and truth, light and heat. Preaching informs the mind and stirs the heart. So, how do you know when you’re preaching? Here are a few tangible metrics you can use for guidance in the self-evaluation process:”
Working Toward Rest | LifeWay Pastors
“I have never met a pastor who did not say, “I’m in it for the long haul.” If the long haul is the goal, then routine maintenance is a must. And, rest is a required element of maintenance, so do not ignore it.”
4 Lies that Cause Pastors to Neglect their Families | 9Marks
“Our families are the closest people to us, and so our responsibility to disciple them and wash them in the Word is greatest. Pastors, let’s trust God, and keep our own vineyards.”
How Can Parents Help Their Kids Embrace Those Who Are Different Than Them? | The Good Book Blog
“Here are four ways to help kids embrace those who are different than them:”
Snapchat Wisdom on College Ministry Do’s and Don’ts | For The Church
A Youth Pastor asked his students “What is one Do and one Don’t of college ministry?” Here’s their response and his conclusions.
Practical Study Tips for Overwhelmed Students
“Now that I’ve learned the gist of a few languages, have taken hundreds of tests and received lots of grades, I’ve learned a thing or two about studying that I can pass along. With school back in session, I thought it may be helpful to post a few practical study tips for those back to the academic grind, especially for those of you that feel overwhelmed.”
Rosaria Butterfield: “Why I Signed the Nashville Statement” | CBMW
“I signed the Nashville Statement because my conscience compels me so, because the promises of liberty on the world’s terms are false and deceptive, and because many who currently claim to have Christ’s forgiveness and salvation must be called to account for leading good people astray with false promises and filthy lies.”
Has Christianity Failed You? by Ravi Zacharias $3.99.
Incomparable: Explorations in the Character of God by Andrew Wilson $1.99.
Tried by Fire: The Story of Christianity’s First Thousand Years by William Bennett.
Bob Kellemen’s newest book, Counseling Under the Cross: How Martin Luther Applied the Gospel to Daily Life releases on September 11, 2017, by New Growth Press. Just in time for the celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, Counseling Under the Cross shares scores of powerful vignettes, Luther quotes, and real-life narratives that illustrate how Martin Luther provided biblical counseling to hurting and struggling people. The following author interview with Dr. Kellemen provides a great introduction to the book.
1. Many people, when they think of Martin Luther, think of the great theologian-reformer. Yet you say that it was Luther the pastoral counselor who motivated Luther the reformer. In what way?
In his own life, Luther struggled to understand how to find peace with God. After many failed attempts at gaining favor with God by works, Luther finally realized the truth of salvation through Christ alone by faith alone through grace alone. He then spent the rest of his life helping others to come to the same saving realization. He nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg because he had tremendous pastoral concern that people were being led away from grace/faith and led toward works as the means for peace with God.
2. You explain that Luther struggled greatly with depression, anxiety, fears, and even with what we might today call “OCD.” What were Luther’s struggles like and how did he find peace and hope in the gospel?
Luther lived in terror that he could never satisfy a holy God—and he could not—in himself. He was tormented daily with fears of death and damnation. When Luther came to realize that Christ already satisfied all of God’s righteous requirements, Luther found the peace he longed for. Luther taught that if we deal with life’s greatest fear/anxiety—whether God accepts us—then we can face all of life’s lesser (but real) anxieties and fears. Grace grants peace.
3. Counseling Under the Cross is filled with scores of vignettes and stories of Luther’s pastoral counsel. Which stories are most meaningful to you?
It’s almost impossible to choose from among so many stirring examples, so I’ll highlight a “category” of care. In the book, I share numerous vignettes where Luther counseled grieving people. We often think of Luther as the fiery reformer. But he also had such a tender heart for hurting people. He encouraged people to grieve honestly, deeply, and candidly. He entered their pain and loss, and then he directed them to the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. Grieving people found in Luther a compassionate spiritual comforter.
4. One of the most powerful messages of Counseling Under the Cross is the four-fold message Luther taught about our salvation in Christ alone. What is that four-fold message and what difference does it make for our lives and ministries today?
In Christ, the Father says to us, 1.) “Forgiven!” (Justification). 2.) “Welcome home!” (Reconciliation). 3.) “Saint!” (Regeneration). 4.) “Victor!” (Redemption).
What difference does it make? We are to preach the gospel to ourselves every day so that we understand who we are in Christ and so we then live out that newness through Christ.
5. If Luther was talking to pastors today, what counsel would he give them about pastoral counseling?
We think we are too busy to counsel. We think we are ill-equipped to counsel. We think we should just preach (the pulpit ministry of the Word) and not counsel (the personal ministry of the Word). Luther was busy—and he still counseled. Luther never had a course in “pastoral counseling,” but he still counseled the Word. Luther was a preacher, but he was also a pastoral counselor.
So, “Pastors, just do it! Speak gospel truth in love.”
6. You end each chapter with a tweet-size summary. So, what’s your tweet-size summary of Counseling Under the Cross?
I’d use the sub-title of the book as the foundation for that tweet. Here we go:
Richly Apply the Gospel to Each Other’s Daily Lives: “Forgiven! Welcome home! Saint! Victor!”
USA Today has published a fascinating article about how top athletes are battling mental illness and also using their platform to de-stigmatize it.
There are a number of deeply moving stories which can only help build understanding and sympathy at the expense of ignorance and cruelty.
Roughly 44 million Americans experienced some form of mental illness in 2015, according to estimates by the National Institute of Mental Health. That’s nearly one in five people aged 18 or over. But athletes may be at increased risk because injuries, competitive failure and overtraining can lead to psychological distress.
An NCAA survey of athletes found over the course of a year that 30% reported feeling depressed while half said they experienced high levels of anxiety.
Each athlete found help in a number of different places, but if there’s one common theme it’s the importance of honesty and transparency, of opening up and talking about it.
My favorite quote is from tennis player Mardy Fish: “It’s OK not to be OK,” he says. “To show weakness, we’re told in sports, is to deserve shame. But showing weakness, addressing your mental health, is strength.”
3 Things You Will Never Hear Me Say in a Counseling Session | Suzanne Holland, Biblical Counseling for Women
Suzanne breaks down 3 common “positive thinking” statements and instead shows us biblical responses.
Announcing a New Online Home for Tabletalk Magazine
My favorite Christian periodical.
Signs Of Danger Mean Time To Flee | Leslie Vernick, Christ-Centered Counseling
“Here is an acronym DANGEROUS that I developed to help counselors and people helpers to quickly discern the level of physical danger someone might be in. Please read it through and see what else might apply for you.”
Why We Must Emphasize A Pastor’s Character Over His Skill | Tim Challies
“So many Christians could be spared so much trauma if only their churches would refuse to put a man in leadership who is lacking such character. So many congregations would be spared so much pain if only they would remove men who prove they don’t have the kind of character God demands. This failure to heed what God makes plain is a terrible blight upon the Christian church.”
My 7 Most Productive Habits | Mark Dance, LifeWay Pastors
“Any pastor who wants to be productive needs a good plan. Last week I shared my seven least productive habits, so today I will show how I have turned those same bad habits into better ones.”
Confessing the Faith: A Reader’s Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith by Chad Van Dixhoorn. Chad’s wife, Emily, also put together an accompanying study guide.
Particular Redemption by John Hurrion