This and That 09-24-16

Why I’m Trying to Preach Shorter Sermons – If the people stop listening at 45 minutes each week, what value is there in going another 15 minutes? If the people aren’t receiving the information, I’m not really making disciples. – Josh Buice

Crush Your Exegesis Paper: 3 Secrets Every Student Should Know – Don’t write like an academic computer writing binary theological code to other academic computers. Writing exegesis papers, like preaching sermons, means sending “truth through personality.” Write like you and your teacher both need to be edified by the Bible, because you do. – Mark L. Ward, Jr.

Five Categorical Lies about Pastors – Lie #3: “Megachurch pastors don’t care about the members.” Pastors of large churches and megachurches (over 2,000 in average worship attendance) are getting the brunt of these criticisms. The assumption is that large is bad and unloving. Here is the reality. A church of over 150 in attendance is a large church compared to most of the 350,000 churches in America. And even the pastor of a church of 150 cannot give ongoing personal attention to every member. Most large church and megachurch pastors do really love their flock.

Gospel Points – Questions on Depression


This week on the Gospel Points podcast we continue our look into the issue of Christians and depression. Our latest installment features an interview with Pastor Chris Brauns of the Red Brick Church in Stillman Valley, IL. The interview took place a few years back as a follow-up to a message Pastor Chris preached during a chapel time at Rock County Christian School. So listen in and hear answers to such questions as, is depression a spiritual or medical issue? Is depression a sin? What are the causes of depression? What is the spiritual condition of those who take their own life?

Listen to the streaming audio on podomatic or download the mp3.

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Related Links:

When the Word Leads Your Pastoral Search
Unpacking Forgiveness
Bound Together

Book Review – Good and Angry by David Powlison

Title: Good and Angry:  Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining and Bitterness
Author: David Powlison
Publisher: New Growth Press
Publishing Year: 2016
Pages: 246
My Rating: 5 out of 5 (1 meaning I hated the book, 5 meaning I loved the book)

This is one of those books that I’d like to say I read for a friend…  But, anger is an issue that has been in my family probably as long as it has been in existence.  So, it easy to excuse it away.  Not only does it come natural, it just seems right.  Getting angry, at its core, is a fight against injustice, so of course I’m going to get angry.  But, in the past few months the Lord has been convicted me of this sin that pushes away others and builds up my own pride.  With all of this in mind, I was excited about the chance to review Good and Angry for all of you.

I was disappointed in the book.  It’s not what I thought it would be.  I was looking for some practical tips of how to control the rage that sometimes bubbles up within me.  I was looking for ways to keep myself under control when everything inside of me wants to be out of control.  This was not that book.

Yet, what I found was that while this was not the book I wanted, it was indeed the book I needed.  Good and Angry taught me that my whole concept of anger needed to change.   For so long I have viewed anger as some sort of foreign entity that somehow resides in my body and from time to time surges up.  I was looking to control and force.  Yet, now I am coming to understand that anger is not something merely within me, it is me!

Powlison writes, “Usually angry people and those who give them advice focus on only one part of what is going on in anger.  And, curiously, the part they focus on is not you.  Anger becomes something that is happening to you or in you.  You deal with “it,” or harness “it,” or liberate “it,” or manage “it,” or rid yourself of “it.”  But you are not intrinsically responsible for “it.”  “It” is going on inside of you, but you aren’t doing it… One key to getting anger straight is to understand that when you are angry, you are doing something.  Anger is not an “it.”  Anger is not just one part of you.  Anger does not “happen” to you.  You do anger.”

That one little paragraph changed my entire perspective on anger and how I deal with my sin.  This entire book is a game-changer.  Very few books blow me away, but this one did for sure.  Good and Angry breaks apart the DNA of anger and helps us to see it at a basic level which then allows us to see its cause and core.  Then, Powlison takes on a journey to see anger not as a problem, but as an attribute of God meant for good.  Yes, anger can be a good thing when put in the right perspective with the right motive.  Anger does not have to lead to sin, though we are so accustomed to only think of it from that perspective.  Actually, patience and mercy may flow from the angry heart.

While Good and Angry does not offer tips such as counting to ten or punching a pillow, the book is filled with practical tips that will challenge your assumptions and take you the Word of God to see God’s intent and design.  This book was convicting on a deep level, but left me encouraged and inspired to rethink how I approach this entire subject.  I cannot recommend this book enough.

Purchase the book for yourself here.

Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.

This and That – 09-17-16

Call to the Ministry Checklist – In my “Christian Ministry” class we put together a “Call the the Ministry Checklist.” Basically we went through the Bible, and a number of pastoral theologies, pastoral biographies, and blog posts on the subject and noted the most common recurring marks that were given by various authors. – David Murray

10 Things You Should Know about Definite Atonement – Christian doctrine is not arrived at by providing a few proof texts here or there. If we treated doctrine like that, then we would have to affirm justification by works and not justification faith alone, as there is a text clearly stating the former (James 2:24) but no such text stating the latter. The same may be said about other important doctrines like the Trinity or the two natures of Christ in one person. These doctrines are arrived at by holding together a range of biblical texts, while at the same time synthesizing internally related doctrines that relate to the doctrine in view. – Jonathan Gibson

Gospel Points – Christians Get Depressed Too


This week begins our next series on the Gospel Points Podcast, Christians and Depression. For this first installment we will hear from Dr. David Murray, Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. Dr. Murray is also the author of Christians Get Depressed Too. Listen in as Dr. Murray shares with us a little bit about his wife’s struggles and then gets into depression’s symptoms and causes along with some practical helps.

Listen to the streaming audio on podomatic or download the mp3.

Other listening options:

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Related Links:

Head, Heart, Hands

This and That – 09-10-16

How to Talk to Your Children About Election 2016 – The most important step is to combat fear. That’s true in any election year, due to the way that partisans—and, sadly, especially Christians—speak in apocalyptic terms every four years. “If Barack Obama is elected, we won’t have a country left in four years,” was said many times in 2008. “Our country can’t survive the reelection of George W. Bush,” others said in 2004. Elections have consequences, yes. Elections are important, yes. But elections are not the pinnacle of history—for either good or for bad.  Our children should see that we are concerned about our country, but not that we are wringing our hands over the election. As Christians, we have an Apocalypse revealed to us. This isn’t it. – Russell Moore
An Open Letter to the Single Bag of Oreos at the Church Potluck – You are most welcome here! Amidst a shimmering, gelatinous sea of casseroles and Jello, you are a glorious beacon of preservatives and GMOs. You are also a symbol of hope and freedom, reminding all that attendance at a church potluck is not dependent on one’s ability to cook or one’s adherence to social conventions. You, the bag of ice, and the Fritos loudly declare that this is a safe place where judgment does not exist. – Stephen Altrogge