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On Fear: Advice from Ed Welch

Ed Welch has written some of the most helpful books on fear that I have read, particularly When People are Big and God is Small and Running Scared. In preparation for his newest book on the subject, he talks briefly in this video about three common types of fear as well as some solid biblical pointers for those of us who struggle in this area:

September 2, 2010   No Comments

Considering Colleges, Part 3

(Read Considering Colleges, Part 1 and Part 2)

My final thoughts on considering colleges concern finding a church. It’s no secret that many young adults, despite growing up in the church, stop attending during college. The reasons behind this fall-off are numerous, and I don’t intend to wade through them in this post. Suffice it to say that yes, it’s true: many stop attending because they never wanted to go in the first place. But many others drop out because they’re overwhelmed with the task of finding one.

I truly believe that for a Christian, access to a solid church needs to be a criterion for evaluating colleges. Don’t wait until after you’ve settled into the dorm to start looking around; but apply the same amount of care you put into selecting a school towards selecting a church. For many people (myself included), college is a time of spiritual struggle and transformation. Many “church kids” come to terms with what they — not their parents — truly believe; and they need to be part of a community committed to guiding them biblically.

I need to acknowledge the profound and active role my parents played in my college church search. The care they took to call up pastors, ask for recommendations, and plan church visits — before I even chose which school to attend — reinforced to me the seriousness of the task. Even though I had attended church my whole life, I had absolutely no experience searching for one; and I’m grateful that they guided me through the process. Yes, ultimately I “chose” what church to attend during college; but knowing why they suggested certain ones helped me make an informed decision.

The primary concern in finding a church is spiritual solidity. Consult with your current pastor for suggestions or possible connections. Here are a couple of good overview articles on what to look for in a church:

Some practical advice:

  • If you won’t have a car, look for churches that are within walking distance or that offer reliable weekly transportation. This will give you fewer excuses to skip church once you get “busy.” No matter how well-intentioned we are, we can all use some preventative measures — especially if getting yourself to church is a new responsibility.
  • College students are notorious for being “pew-warmers.” Look for a place where you can not just attend, but serve. Some churches require membership to serve in certain areas, so inquire about those processes early. Once you decide where to attend, make the commitment to find ways to plug in and get started early.

August 31, 2010   2 Comments

Fighting the Blues, Part 2

(Read Fighting the Blues, Part 1)

When it comes to fighting the blues, oftentimes I turn first to physical “fixes”: food, exercise, sleep, medicine. Now I don’t want to discount the physical aspect of depression. Unhealthy habits undoubtedly affect mood, and we cannot neglect caring for our physical bodies.

But when I feel down, the root emotion I am experiencing is hopelessness: a spiritual issue. Physical changes may temporarily relieve symptoms; but if I ignore the deeper matters of the heart, the infection of hopelessness will return no matter how bodily fit I am.

I have found the following helpful in fighting the blues:

Preach to Yourself

“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?”
-D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cures

Strong emotions are persuasive. They convince us life is a certain way; and the more we listen, the more we grow in our confidence of that interpretation. Therefore, we must fight feelings with truth.

In addition to the Martyn Lloyd-Jones book listed above, I highly recommend Richard Baxter’s sermon The Cure of Melancholy and Overmuch Sorrow, by Faith. Yes, the English is old-with-an-e; but it is well worth the effort. Baxter offers a mine of practical wisdom to both those who battle melancholy and those close to the melancholy. Especially helpful is this list of truths to apply to the heart during times of hopelessness.

Read Biographies

Hopelessness is isolating; we feel that no one understands what we are experiencing. Not true. I am often amazed at the number of famous Christians who suffered from seasons — sometimes extremely serious, almost paralyzing seasons — of hopelessness: King David, Charles Spurgeon, Isaac Newton, Jonathan Edwards. Reading about their struggles and triumphs reminds me of God’s faithfulness throughout history and provides comfort for the present.

Do your Duties

“Be sure that you live not idly, but in some constant business of a lawful calling, so far as you have bodily strength…If you will not be persuaded to business, your friends, if they can, should force you to it.”
-Richard Baxter, The Cure of Melancholy and Overmuch Sorrow, by Faith

Refuse the urge to mope and wallow in self-pity. If you’re acting useless, you’ll feel useless. Arm yourself with the truth, and then get moving. We all have things we are called to do; and fulfilling our purpose does wonders in uplifting the soul.

Further Recommendations

(Photo: VinothChandar)

August 23, 2010   No Comments

Worship Music Resource Roundup

This past weekend I’ve been hanging out in Toronto, where I completed my undergraduate degree. I had the privilege this morning of worshiping with my brothers and sisters at Toronto Holy Word Church. One of the many things I appreciate about this congregation is their commitment to singing songs that are theologically sound and musically tasteful. This involves, of course, a healthy dose of classic hymns — but also includes a regular rotation of newer music. For example, today we sang Sovereign Grace’s Surrender All. This song communicates a similar message as the well-known I Surrender All, but with different lyrics and (in my opinion) a more singable melody.

Ever since my time at HWC, I’ve been on the lookout for songs with/resources on this needed blend. I’m compiling what I’ve found below in the hopes that it will be useful for others. If you have anything to add, please leave a comment and I will add it to the list.

Singers/Songwriters (Official Sites)

Blogs and Articles

Conference/Training MP3s and Other Media


(Photo: Peter Baker)

August 9, 2010   2 Comments