This Week’s Good Reads

morning-paper2Here are some interesting articles compiled from around the web. Check it out, there’s bound to be something here that interests you:

1. “The Bible and Same Sex Relationships: A Review Article” by Tim Keller

Keller interacts with two popular pro-gray marriage texts: Matthew Vines’ God and the Gay Christian and Ken Wilson’s A Letter to My Congregation. He doesn’t so much review the works as he interacts with six key arguments from the books in favor of their positions. He points out the serious flaws in their arguments and gives one of the best popular arguments against these positions.

2. “Help My Unbelief” by John Frame

A book on doubt? That’s what Barnabas Piper, son of John Piper, has written. Here John Frame gives a positive review of the work at TGC. I am looking forward to reading this book and recommending it to many for whom I believe it will be a help. Frame explains in particular here what Barnabas, a young theologian in his own right, brings to this rather old conversation. With a few criticisms, Frame recommends this book to a wide audience.

3. “The Sabbath was Made for Man not Animals” by John Starke

Starke shares a moving and thoughtful poem from W.H. Auden. Well worth your time, friends.

4. “Our Odyssey Against Sexual Temptation” by Jimmy Needham

Needham discusses here two ways to fight lust’s power: white knuckled will-power and delight in a greater joy. You can guess which he promotes. This can serve as a good reminder that there is a difference between good days and real change. Good days can resist by sheer will power for a short time. Real change is when a person no longer finds sexual sin as alluring.

5.  “Pastors and Burnout” by Frank Tallerico

Frank discusses here some of the realities of pastoral burnout, sharing statistics and recognizes the relationship between pastoral burnout and their output as employees. This is worth reading for both pastors and congregations and the research to come will direct us all towards solutions.

6. “Why the Key Character in Inside Out is the One Who isn’t There” by Linda Holmes

Holmes takes her starting point for this review from the lack of bad guys in Inside Out. The fact that there is no villain in the film helps to emphasize the normalcy of the struggle, she says. It’s a good reflection on what makes this film so special.

7. ” ‘Screen Time’ For Kids Is Probably Fine” by Emily Oster

I have often been suspected of the suggestion that watching television, playing games on the iPad, etc. leads to lower test scores for kids. Causation is just so hard to prove and most of the “research” has often assumed more than it proved. In this piece for Five Thirty Eight Science, Oster makes the case that in fact “screen time” is actually not affecting test scores and that correlation does not take into account other factors (like parental involvement, economic status, etc.). This is a good, worthwhile piece that just might help ease some parental guilt and parental obsessiveness. It’s not an end to the discussion by any means, but it’s a good reminder that the burden of proof falls on those who are arguing in the other direction.

8. “The Pastor and Counseling: A Conversation with Deepak Reju & Jeremy Pierre” by Jonathan Leeman

A great interview on a number issues related to counseling in the local church. Though geared directly towards pastors as part of the 9 Marks audio conversations, it is nonetheless helpful to a wide array of folks in general. I highly commend it to you for some good coaching.

9. “Humility Comes Through Humiliation” by John Starke

Ugh! This is an important, if terrifying and discouraging, reminder that humility can’t just be mustered up. God gives it to us through our humiliating failures. It’s not just general suffering that produces humility, it’s the kind of suffering “due to our own arrogance” that produces it. Starke reflects on this realization in his own life and in the works of two authors who recently promoted the truth in books he was reading. This is a good, important, read.

10. “This is Christianity: Why are You Here?” by Jemar Tisby

This looks like a great series by Jemar. He writes in an apologetic/evangelistic fashion to explain what Christianity truly is to outsiders. This might be a useful grid for thinking about our evangelistic methods. Using the Westminster Shorter Catechism he is framing a series of discussions about the Christian faith in order to help others fully understand it. In this first post he uses Q1 to guide us into thinking about our purpose as people. Check it out.

11. “How to Conquer the Grumbles” by Michael Herrington

Picking up from Paul’s teaching in Philippians this author not only spells out how grumbling destroys our gospel witness, but he helps us to see how the efforts to stop grumbling work to promote godliness in our lives and witness. This is a good reminder at just how subtly destructive grumbling is, and how important and worthwhile it is to resist it.

12. “Talking About Inside Out” by Jeremy Pierre

Dr. Pierre, a Biblical Counselor and seminary professor, discusses the film Inside Out with an eye towards helping our kids think about Biblically faithful emotional health. While not a review of the film per se, it is a thoughtful interaction with its content.

13. “What Principles Guide My First Meeting with a Couple in Marital Crisis” by Robert Cheong

A bullet point list of recommended starting points to kick-off counseling with a couple in crisis. Nothing that Cheong writes here will be earth-shattering, yet seeing these details written out can actually illuminate our process better. It’s helpful for counselors to think intentionally about the details of their initial meetings as it safeguards us from forgetting important and even obvious points.

14. “How Not to Fix the Discipleship Problem in a Church” by Chuck Lawless

Lawless lists 9 predictable paths that leaders might take to try to address a discipleship deficiency in their church. These problems, however, do not resolve the real issue and will have either little or no impact on the actual root of the problem.

15. “American Memory, American Tragedy” by Samuel Loncar

In light of the devastating attack on the Emanuel AME Church in Charlotte Loncar presses us to consider carefully how we discuss this issue. He warns us that our language can reveal either a sensitivity to the failures of our history or a denial of them. “We are what we remember. And what we forget.” He asserts that in American culture we simply can’t withstand the dismantling of our accepted identity, so we deny the failures of our history. It is a sad, true depiction of the state of our country I believe. It is a sober reminder of what must be done and what so many are unwilling to do.

16. “Six Things to Do After the Supreme Court Decision on Gay Marriage” by Mark Galli

“We lost this one,” says Galli. We gave a solid effort to make a compelling and convincing case to our culture, they just didn’t adopt our position. So what now? Galli writes:

The temptation is to go off and sulk in our holy corner. Or to dig in our heels and fight harder. Or to lash out in anger. Or to despair. We can do better. Like taking to heart especially the Beatitudes.

He gives us six things to do now that the decision has been handed down and they stem from the beatitudes. This is a good reminder of our calling in the world and the relationship we are to have to it and to the challenges we face in it.

17. “Why the Church Should Neither Cave nor Panic about the Decision on Gay Marriage” by Russell Moore

Moore is always a reasonable and godly voice when it comes to thinking through these issues. Writing in the Washington Post he helps us here to remain calm and to think carefully and strategically about how we are going to respond in the days ahead. In particular, I loved his discussion of the church being a place of hope and help for the refugees of the sexual revolution – those who got what they wanted and found it wanting. These are good words, friends. Read them with hope.

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