Tools of the Trade For the Week of August 10, 2020

I’ve not had much original content in the last few weeks. There are a couple of reasons for that, but the most significant one is that I haven’t had many original thoughts. 😁

Here are a list of links to articles you’ll find helpful for your self and your people.

Lydia Brownback has a podcast on Crossway’s website on how to lead a Bible Study. Leading a Bible Study group is not always that easy. Suggested listening!

Dr. Phil Ryken has a podcast on How to Read (and Not Read) the Bible. Hey – if your people are still in semi-shutdown why not forward helpful articles or podcasts to them? It would be far better for them to read/listen to these kinds of things than spend time on social media.

The problem of pornography is something that Christians have addressed often, and I can’t imagine Christians quibbling over whether porn is appropriate. However, it’s not often that a secular source deals with the subject. This article from The Federalist, a conservative political magazine, is worth reading. I don’t recall any naughty words, so if you find one, I apologize in advance.

Here’s an hour-long podcast by Pastor Won Kwak on writing sermons. We should be regularly looking to improve our preaching and here’s a good resource.

Aaron Earls writes about a study of churches who are gathering again in this period of pandemic.

Burk Parsons encourages behaving ourselves when we talk with each other. Several other writers have addressed this theme, but it is an important reminder. Send this to your people. Or post a link to it on your social media account.

David Murray has written several times lately on the subject of depression and anxiety. Here’s an article on prayer during depression. Keep it and share it. And here’s another keeper on understanding teen anxiety and depression.

Have you ever been discouraged as a pastor? Even during good periods of ministry there are issues that discourage. Jim Eliff shares some counsel for discouraged pastors.

There’s a lot going on that makes people afraid. Jonathan Rourke writes about how we can best care for fearful church members.

Simple title: America Was Never Home. I need this reminder. Do you or your people?

It may be painful to ask ourselves if you are exploiting your church, but it’s important that we do.

Have a great week!

Tools of the Trade For the Week of August 3, 2020

Each Monday or Tuesday I provide links to some articles that I think will be helpful to pastors. While older pastors don’t have all the answers, these articles are often especially helpful to you younger guys.

Thankfully the majority of preachers I’ve heard treat the text of Scripture fairly and faithfully. But I’ve heard some who, while well meaning, find “truths” that aren’t there. Here’s one reason this happens.

When I first had kids TV was the only “screen” that they had, and it was always possible to let them have too much TV time. Then came video games, followed my computer games, followed by the internet, followed by phones and tablets. While it’s easy to keep kids occupied with these devices, there’s a price to pay if it’s not monitored. Share this with your parents. Well, not your parents, but the parents in your church.

Colin Adams writes about something most of us deal with – the very long time it is taking to get back to “normal church.”

From time to time there are articles that I think pastors should just leave lying around in visible spots for people to take. If you have people who are looking for the perfect church, here’s one to make available.

This article, by H.B. Charles is about preaching the tone of the text. So many times we ignore not only context (see the first article above) but the tone.

Here’s a half-hour podcast from Carl Truman and Todd Pruitt on church leaders and social media. Todd recently jettisoned Twitter and Carl is one of the most astute commentators on “what’s going on” that I’ve read/heard.

Kevin Vanhoozer write about a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot (again) of late. I’m letting some thoughts marinate for a future post that relates to the theme of doctrine in the life of the Christian. The title of this piece is Doctrine for Discipleship.

Here’s another article for preaching. Bryan Chapell discusses the importance of balance when dealing with imperatives and indicatives in the Biblical text. This article, and the other two above, are probably the kinds of preaching helps we should read every few months.

I’ll close this week’s list with another by H.B. Charles on sermon introductions. I wrote about this months ago. It’s an important topic.

I hope you have a good week!

Tools of the Trade For the Week of July 27, 2020

Each Monday or Tuesday I provide links to some articles that I think will be helpful to pastors. While older pastors don’t have all the answers, these articles are often especially helpful to you younger guys.

Before I give this week’s links, I want to point you to an article my friend Cynthia Epply wrote last week. Cynthia served as a counselor for many years. Many, many, many years, right Cynthia? 😇 She encountered a situation by chance, and if you love baseball, whiffle ball, family, or just want to read about something good coming out of the pandemic, take a look at this article.

Now here are some helpful links for this week.

“Future Pastors Need Mentors” is a challenge not only to experienced pastors, but to you guys who might be starting out or still in seminary.

We evangelical Christians have often been guilty of using some really questionable means of finding God’s will. One of the best books on the subject is Kevin DeYoung’s Just Do Something. But here is an article about the dubious practice of “putting out a fleece.”

One of the ways you can be a better preacher is by planning in advance. The folks at 9Marks talk about planning a preaching calendar.

John Piper writes about the solemn charge to every pastor.

With some presidential candidates past and present identifying themselves as Christians, the late RC Sproul and some other well-known pastors talk about the theology of candidates and how it should/shouldn’t affect how we vote.

David Murray has written some helpful material for those who suffer from anxiety or depression. I believe it’s vital that pastors read up on these issues and grasp the various dimensions of both. If we don’t, we’re likely not only to be unhelpful, we may be hurtful. Anyway, here’s an article on prayer to share with those who struggle.

Jeff Robinson, on the Crossway Podcast, talks about the Blessings and Burdens of Pastoral Ministry.

Back in the day I used to thumb through the hymnal our church used and wince at some of the awful theology some songs contained. The church used to have a staple of 500-600 hymns. Today we have a plethora (note – side humor) of songs: some good, some not-so-good, some really bad. How do we choose what to sing? This article talks about how the Psalms can teach us what to sing.

That’s all for today. Have a great week. Let me modify what one network anchor says: “We’re one week closer to the New Heavens and New Earth.”

Tools of the Trade For the Week of July 20, 2020

Here are some links you will find helpful. Some to file, some to read and share. Enjoy!

Important! Important! David Murray had several posts recently on the subject of teen anxiety and depression. This is stuff to read, save, share. There are a lot of hurting kids out there.

Did you ever feel that your small group is not what you expected or what you’d like it to be? Brad House has a helpful post right here. And then head over to this article on small groups.

We have lots of questions about life after death. What was life after death like during the OT period. Matthew Emerson writes about Sheol: Exploring the Afterlife in the OT.

Vaneetha Rendall Risner, writing at Desiring God, shares some thoughts for people who have lost a child. You’ll encounter this very painful situation. This article will help you navigate it and say the right things.

Was Jesus without sin? CNN host Don Lemon recently commented that he was “not perfect.” While this response is from a conservative publication, it is an excellent theological defense of the sinlessness of Christ.

Jenny Whitaker speaks to an issue that all pastors can relate to – being concerned about pleasing people.

My friend Cynthia Epply has some thoughts on the cancel culture that is growing in our society. And they are worth reading.

Quina Aragon and Eugene Park speak to how to minister to “wounded and straying sheep in a pandemic.”

This article is one to read, reflect on how it relates to the climate you’re creating in your church, and then send to your congregation with a note that says, “I found this interesting. What do you think?”

John Folmar writes about “The Danger of Sending Unqualified Missionaries.”

I’ve written a couple of times about finding companions in ministry. This article, titled “Uncommon Brothers” reminds us why this is so important.

And that’ll do it for this week. Have a good one!

Tools of the Trade for the Week of July 13, 2020


Another week is ahead of us, filled with opportunities and challenges. Here’s a group of links to helpful resources.

First, my wife and I watched Alistair Begg yesterday morning and his message was spot on for the times. I appreciate how he can speak to current events while letting the text dominate the message. It’s worth watching this both for its content and as an example of good preaching.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the Psalms over the last few years and I notice that as the age we live in becomes more troubled there are more and more articles being written about the value of this OT book. Here are 4 Reasons to Preach the Psalms to Ourselves.

Another topic getting a good deal of attention is the way Christians behave on social media. Sharp Tongues and Angry Tweets is worth reading and passing on.

This article points to a podcast that provides the opportunity to listen to recordings of history’s greatest sermons. Not the originals of course, but worth checking out.

Crossway has a podcast that is worth checking. This particlar podcast is on Learning from the Church Fathers by Michael Haykin.

For churcn planters: The Secret to Church Planting (From a Former Muslim).

Some of you have been there, others are there right now. It’s going to happen to all pastors sooner or later. Read and file: How to Pray When You Want to Give up in Ministry.

All pastors and church leaders want to see their churches grow. Aaron Menikoff shares 5 Reasons to Pray Your Church Would Grow Slowly.

It’s so much easier to talk than to listen. But if we want to help people – really help people – we need to be better at the latter than the former. Here’s some help.

Again, you may have been there, others are there right now. Some of your people may feel that No One Understands.

That’s all for this week! I have an article rolling around my mind for probably Thursday. Have a great one!!

Tools of the Trade For the Week of July 6, 2020

July 6th!Already! Where has the year gone?

Here’s another selection of articles from the past week that you may find helpful personally, in your ministry, or as resources to share.

Have you ever heard a sermon from a passage taken out of context? Have you ever preached one? This writer warns of the dangerous consequences, and he’s right.

I live in Pennsylvania and this was written by a pastor in our state. I agree with his assessment of the current culture. I disagree (at least a little) with the extent of his pushback. I was challenged by what he said.

There was a man in my church years ago who was last one in, first one out. When I talked to him he indicated that he came for a “me and God” moment (my words). Here’s why that’s wrong.

If you’re in a college town, this article should be of help to you as you try to minister to the student population.

This is worth reading if you’ve had COVID cases in your church, if you’re concerned about reopening, or if you’ve reopened and the number of cases has gone up.

One Memorial Day, a man in our church called out, “Can we sing a patriotic song?” How would you respond? I believe Joe Carter nails how we should deal with the question of patriotism and our worship services.

Tim Chester writes about the need to be able to hear what the culture is saying.

If you have people in your church who are reluctant to wear a mask during this pandemic, here’s a challenge for them.

There’s been a good deal of virtual ink spilled on the subject of Christians and the coronavirus. However, here is a worthwhile read from Desiring God.

I’m always interested in articles relating to productivity and productivity systems. Here’s one from a secular source that may prove helpful.

The folks at Ligonier have a helpful article on welcoming new church members.

“What the Puritans Taught This Builder About Ministry.”

I appreciate Mark Dever of 9Marks and Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Here’s an article that talks about the commitments pastors should have.

This is real pastoral work. Are you doing it?

With a subtitle, “Good Pastors Know When to Pick a Fight But Prefer to Avoid Them,” how can you not read this one?

It’s hard, but so important.

Have a great week!

Tools of the Trade For the Week of June 29, 2020

There were quite a few good articles and resources posted last week. Here are some that will be helpful in your ministry, either for yourself or to pass on to others.

Helping teens honestly face and deal with their doubts is one of the most important tasks a youth worker has. Here’s some help.

Pastors live with dreams of what God might do in the lives of their people. Whether trying to change a church culture or see change in the lives of our people, change is slow. But don’t give up!

This is one to share with your people. There will be a day when our struggle with sin will end, and what Paul writes about in Romans 7 will be over and done with. In the meantime be encouraged.

If you have people who are reluctant to return to church after the pandemic, this article might help you approach them.

“Exposition or Imposition? How Gospel-Centered Preaching Can Go Wrong.” John Piper writes about something we all need to think over.

My previous post was about Christians behaving badly on social media. Here’s a companion article with a catchy title. I’ve noticed several people writing about this recently. Maybe because there’s a problem? Yup.

And while we’re on that subject, I saw this title and thought it was a new book. However, it was written ten years ago. Yet it speaks directly to the problem of relationships and to some of the issues that have arisen because of social media.

This article by Don Whitney discusses how we can let our Bible reading guide us in our prayers. Helpful!

Stay up to date with the Supreme Court’s decision regarding LGBT issues.

Here’s an audio interview discussing “Preaching Over the Long Haul.”

Here is an article about how we should deal with the vast changes that have taken place in our world over the last few months. I’d recommend sharing this one with your people. Just send them the link!

Finally, here’s an article that will encourage those of you who are church planters – or feel like it!

Have a great week! Thanks for stopping by once again!

Tools of the Trade For the Week of June 21, 2020

Here are hopefully helpful links for this week:

There are a couple of articles on planning preaching. Here’s one from 9Marks on why you should plan to preach through 2 Timothy. Tim Patrick and Andrew Reid write about planning a preaching schedule for the long term.

Recent events have certainly caused many people to be fearful. This article talks about how God calms us in times of fear. Share this with your people.

Different trends in society and theology may make us want to add to or change our church doctrinal statement. Jeff Robinson offers helpful advice here.

Many people struggle with the daily habit of Bible reading. This is one for your literature rack.

Oh, and did you know prayer comes hard for some people? Another one for the literature rack.

The Psalms have been such a comfort to so many through the years. This article tells us why we need the Psalms more than ever.

Paul Tripp has a new book on the subtext of leadership. Head on over to Amazon and check it out.

Most of the pastors I’ve met have embodied the quality of gentleness. But here’s why it’s so important.

I hope to see you sometime this week. Thanks for stopping in!

Tools of the Trade For the Week of June 15, 2020

I hope you had a good weekend. It seems like many churches have re-opened and that it will happen very soon for others.

This was supposed to be Monday’s post but life got a bit busy over the last few days. So without further delay, here are some links to good reading for this week.

David Mathis writes, “Leadership has fallen on hard times. As a society, we are suspicious of our leaders, often assuming they will use their power for selfish gain, rather than our good. That makes these fearful days for taking and holding office, not just in business and politics, but also in the church.” You need to keep reading.

Regardless of your position on divorce and remarriage, when someone like Wayne Grudem shifts his view, it’s worth find out why.

In many parts of the US (and possibly the world), kids are experiencing a summer vacation that began 3 months early. Here’s an article to share with parents on how to pray for their kids this summer.

We all have our theological biases and some are held very tightly. There’s nothing wrong with that, though this article rightly encourages humility in how we hold our views.

Winston Smith reminds us that “In Ministry, Joy and Sorrow Don’t Cancel Each Other Out.”

My friend Cynthia writes about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Special Needs community. This is one to read for yourself as well as share with parents who have special needs kids.

I don’t know about you, but I’m troubled by the number of churches that seem to lack humility in their self-promotion. Being the Next Big Thing isn’t part of the Great Commission. Is it possible that pastoral ambition is at the root of some of the claims made about uniqueness and mission?

Having a spiritual mentor is a treasure, and this article speaks to the question of what kind of person best fits that role.

Here’s an article to share with the leaders of your women’s ministry and/or the older women in your church. It’s about discipling younger women and it’s worth the read! In that same vein here’s a podcast by Melissa Kruger on pursuing meaningful mentoring relationships.

Peter Mead writes about preaching, and this article explores the consequences of preaching that is “Bible-lite.”

This article addresses a topic that we probably all have or will wrestled with: “When It Seems Your Life is Going Nowhere.”

The hardest topic to preach about, at least in my opinion, is how a church relates to the pastor. You should just leave copies of this article laying around the church. Hopefully someone will read it and encourage you. 🙂

We need to be reminded that normal is good.

The US Supreme Court made a very significant decision this week and author Joe Carter explores the implications for churches. You need to read this article and share it with your staff and other church leaders.

The Gospel Coalition is promoting some helpful resources for our churches. Read about them here.

I’ll have more links on Monday. I hope something here is helpful to you and your ministry!

Tools of the Trade For the Week of June 8, 2020

This is a day late this week. Apologies! Here are some helpful links I came across this past week.

Peter Mead had a three-part series on how to improve your preaching. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

My friend Cynthia wrote about the impact of the social distancing on mental health. Working in a retirement community, I wonder about the long-term impact on older folks who have been isolated. Cynthia writes about several different groups, and her article is well worth reading.

What will re-opening look like for you? Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra writes about what took place when five churches reopened recently.

Glenna Marshall writes about the need for ordinary faithfulness in a post that every pastor should read.

Meghan Hill writes about what we need to know about the church in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many people have written about missing gathering as a church. Here is a reminder that “Physical Presence is A Spiritual Gift.”

Several years ago I preached through Judges. When we read some of the accounts in Judges we wonder what on earth we are to think about what happened. Credo Magazine just began a series on Reading Judges Theologically. You may want to follow it here. And by the way, put Judges on your “Preach Soon” list.

I hope you will find something helpful to your ministry. Have a good week!