1. “Keller Helps Preachers Reach the Heart” by Matt Smethurst
An interesting interview with Keller regarding his new book on preaching. In this piece, Keller offers tips to pastors on sermon prep, cultural awareness, contextualization, and prayer. Worth the read, friends.
2. “Hope for Depressed Pastors” by Dave Dunham
This is my first public admission that I have had an emotionally hard year. In this piece I talk about my own relatively new experience with depression and how I am learning to work through it. It’s been tough but not hopeless. Part 1 discusses the spiritual counsels that have been helpful, while part 2 looks at the practical steps that have encouraged hope.
3. “What Is Christian Unity?” by John Piper
Piper suggests that unity itself can be either good or bad, it depends on the source, views, affections, and aims of that unity to determine its true quality. He unpacks true Christian unity based on this grid and offers some guidance to cultivating it in our own hearts. His discussions of loving and serving Christians across boundaries is particularly encouraging.
4. “8 Lessons from a Long Battle with Spiritual Depression” by Derek Brown
The lessons are mostly obvious, but I appreciate both the authors candor and encouragement. His discussion on seeking “means not breakthroughs” is a good reminder. For those who struggle this might be a good simple read.
5. “My Favorite Posts on Abusive Relationships” by Brad Hambrick
Hambrick pulls together some great resources for thinking through abusive relationships. You can read the whole list here and click the links to a wealth of resources for you own aid, you can also go beyond his writings to read some of the recommended books on his list.
6. “The Value and Challenge of Sermon Review” by Bob Johnson
The humility of our senior pastor is one of his most endearing qualities. He leads well because he is humble. In this piece from 9 Marks he discusses why we do a weekly sermon review that opens his sermon up to be critiqued by the staff. To be fair it’s not easy for any of us. Most of the time I feel woefully inadequate to critique the preaching of a man who is as experienced as Bob is. Yet, the discussion can be insightful and encouraging. Check out this sample from last week’s discussion.
7. “Morning Has Broken, Summer is Over: A Eulogy for ‘Phineas and Ferb’” by Luke T. Harrington
This is great! I so loved Disney’s Phineas and Ferb and the series finale will be a sad thing for our family. Luke helps us mourn and rejoice by putting into beautiful words what it was about this show that we all loved so much.
8. “Homosexuality: A Matter of Orientation” by Michael Snetzer
I have a great deal of respect for Snetzer as a counselor, and in this piece for the Biblical Counseling Coalition he helps us think clearly about the controversial issue of homosexuality. I think the piece lacks a little bit of focus, but when he gets to discussing the matter of orientation he is insightful. Discussions about sexual orientation (homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, etc.) miss the larger point of spiritual orientation. He writes:
But the conversation must move beyond the horizontal orientation and, instead, must be oriented vertically in terms of our relationship with God. Through the fall of mankind, in addition to having distorted desires, we have become disoriented from God. This means that we are inevitably lost—looking to the culture to define us while simultaneously seeking to have our desires met through creatures for what only He can ultimately provide.
This is a helpful way to think about the issue of orientation, and one that opens up some levels of conversation.
9. “Surgical Sex” by Paul R. McHugh
This is a fascinating piece by the Psychiatrist-in-Chief at John Hopkins. He writes about why and how he sought to stop the practice of gender-reassignment surgery. In light of all the praise surrounding this issue, here is a good reminder that surgical sex does not change psychological problems.