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Tools of the Trade for the Week of February 1, 2021, Part 2

I continue to collect some really useful articles, and will share some with you now and then the rest next week. This set deals with topics that you might find helpful to share with your people – as well as yourself!

Mike Emlet, Dean of the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF) provides “An Open Letter to a Sinner.” This is directed at someone who is struggling and on the verge of turning away. Make sure you save this one.

Peter Mead shares some helpful reminders on the need for endurance.

We’ve all been in small groups where the questions just seem to get no response. Leading a group like that is tough, but the problem may often be with the questions. Here’s a helpful article on what makes a good small group study question.

Hey Pastor! Take a look around. Do you see order in your workspace/office or does it look like you’re collecting piles? This article, from a secular source, may be of help. (Tip – Don’t hand it to your wife and say, “Here Honey, I thought you should read this!”)

Tim Challies, who along with his wife has borne up with such dignity and grace after the sudden loss of their college-age son a few months ago, talks about tears in Heaven.

Here in the United States, and perhaps elsewhere, children as young as first grade are being taught that deviant sexual choices and behavior are to be accepted – no more than that – they are to be embraced. Who is teaching the kids of your church about sex?

Pastors of all ages, but especially you younger guys, PLEASE read this! Please!


I have some great articles on pastoral work, leadership, and preaching to share at the beginning of the week. I’m aiming for Monday, but it may be Tuesday. Have a great weekend!

Tools of the Trade for the Week of February 1, 2021

It’s been two weeks and I need to be more current. To those of you who read regularly, I apologize. I will try to be more consistent.

I’ve got two or three days worth of articles to share with you, so let me get a list out now and then try to do another in a few days.

I’m going to be starting an online series on 1 & 2 Peter next week and saw this 10 day devotional that I’ll share with our folks. But you may want to share it with your’s.

This is a great article on creeds and confessions. Your church may look sideways at things like this, but they are great teaching tools!

Cindy Matson asks a very important question: Are You Living as A Citizen of Heaven? Good reading for pastors and something to share with the congregation.

I think I have a number of Peter Mead’s articles to share. Here’s one about sermon outlines.

What is the impact of Bible reading in the lives of your people? Here are some states that may make your jaw drop a bit.

What is the role of the Pastor when the news is filled with significant events? This certainly has been one of those years, and 2021 seems to be continuing that trend. Michael Niebauer has some helpful counsel. On the same general subject is this article by Chris Colquitt.

Jonathan Leeman and Mark Dever sat down recently to talk about the pastor’s responsibility to prepare his people for eternity. It’s a 24 minute listen.

Everyone is talking about unity. Nick Batzig challenges us to biblical unity. This is one of those “share this with the congregation” articles. And along those same lines is this article by Ryhne Putnam.

Peter Adam has an interesting article about Training Preachers in the Local Church.

Thom Rainer released a book in the early fall this past year called “The Post Quarantine Church.” I read the book about two weeks ago and found it largely helpful, especially those sections that talk about the continued use of technology. Allen Duty, who reviewed it, said what I would say, only much better: “Consultants are paid to come into an organization from the outside and point out things that may not be obvious to those on the inside. They are paid, essentially, to ask good questions. Not every question raised by Rainer will be relevant to your church. But many of them will be and answering those questions will help you minister more faithfully in the next season. And I think that’s worth a few bucks.”

Tim Reigle, who leads our music at Calvary, is also involved in ministry to guys struggling with porn. It’s a blog that’s worth following. He wrote a solid article here that will be of help to pastors who counsel in this area.


I hope that you find some helpful information and some ideas that will challenge you in these articles. I’ll do my best to share some more with you by the weekend.

Tools of the Trade for the Week of January 18, 2021

I have a LOT of good stuff this week. Some things to share with your people and some things to share with other leaders and some things to help you in your own ministry. Read on . . .

Here’s an article that every preacher needs to read. We have probably all been tempted to skip hard passages or subjects in the text. This is good counsel.

The folks at Ligonier have some helpful remarks on how we should be studying the Bible together and how we can prevent it from being unhelpful.

Peter Mead has some advice about using illustrations. Part 1 is here. Part two is here.

On Wednesday the US will witness the inauguration of Joe Biden as our President. It has been a contentious year with COVID and politics, and that contention has not evaded the church. Rene DeAnda tells us about pastors and praying for our new President. In this article Jesse Johnson counsels us on how to pray for our leaders.

Kevin DeYoung writes too infrequently in my opinion. This article, titled “Come Let Us Reason Together” might be one of those you deliberately pass on to your whole congregation.

This article, in Christianity Today, tells us about where people who follow Jesus are suffering. Let me encourage you to get a list of 10-12 nations where this is happening and publicly pray for one each week.

Here’s a review of Sinclair Ferguson’s book “Devoted to God’s Church.” It’s on my list of books to get and looks very worthwhile.

We’ve recently been intentionally involving members of our church in caring for others. I’ll write about that sometime, but here are three ideas on how this can be done.

Here are some things to share with a discouraged brother or sister in Christ. Maybe you will find it helpful yourself!

Well, this one may raise some hackles, but it’s a necessary topic to consider. Jake Meador writes “Defining ‘White Evangelical Crap’”

The folks at Facts and Trends write about “The Crippling Disease of Ministry Comparison.”

Jared Wilson says: “I am convinced that too many evangelical churches in the United States are overly fixated on bigness, excitement, and individualistic improvement, and that we don’t often realize it because we can often achieve a kind of success focusing on those things that give the impression we are on the right track.” Then he encourages us to reevaluate our church’s values.

Finally, here’s an article to share with your small group leaders.

Have a great week!

Tools of the Trade for the Week of January 11, 2021

I hope you had a good weekend! Here are some helpful articles that I encountered this week.

Social Media. Ugh. What a mess. If we’re going to use it, let’s be sure to use it right. Chris Martin gives “3 Reasons to Use Social Media for Good This Year.” While not directly related to social media. Benjamin Vrbicek issues “A Call for Content Creators to Cultivate Discernment.”

Read how to keep people coming back to your small group, written by Ken Brady.

Justin Holcomb writes a compassionate letter to those who are victims of abuse. Keep this one to share with those who come to talk to you about the abuse they have suffered.

Hopefully this situation will soon be in the rear view mirror, but Steven Wedgeworth shares some thoughts on whether churches should submit to civil authorities if those authorities try to curtail worship over health issues.

Tim Challies asked what people were finding encouraging at their church. It’s worth reading, and maybe even asking your own people to share what encourages them.

I love technology, but I have to agree with David Mathis. He asks “Are Paper Bibles Better?” Give it a read.

This article is for anyone in ministry, but is especially relevant for you younger guys who may not be doing what you’d really like to do. Jeff Martin will encourage you.

Mike Leake wrote one of the best, if not THE best, articles I’ve read so far this year. “Why We need to Break Up With Our Angry Friend.” It’s not what you might think, but man, does he hit one out of the park.

It’s a rare week when Peter Mead’s name doesn’t appear in this list. Here he reminds us that we are not performers. Please read it!


That’s it for this week. I hope to resume Five from the Files this coming weekend. You all stay safe and have a great week.

Tools of the Trade for the Week of January 4, 2021

Happy New Year!. Let’s start the new year off by looking at a number of helpful articles from the last week or two:

YOUNG PASTOR ALERT: Jason Allen provides some sound advice for beginning preachers. His experience as a new preacher is described this way: “In hindsight, that sermon was an absolute train wreck. Even now, I pray it was not recorded and that it does not someday surface in my life. My feeble attempt to preach was earnest, but the finished product was no doubt laughable.” Here’s some help in avoiding that.

Your people may ask if our prayers change God’s mind. Nathan Bingham answers this question.

ANOTHER YOUNG PASTOR ALERT: Here’s four minutes of counsel from Jared Wilson dealing with new pastors who want to quit. Have you felt that way? Listen to what Jared says.

Peter Mead makes what seems to be a weekly appearance on this site with this post about our books. Good stuff.

Paul Tripp tells us how to pray for 2021.

David Mathis reflects on John Piper’s first sermon at Bethlehem Baptist over 40 years ago. His message is for preachers as well as those who hear them.

Jared Wilson shares “3 Ways the Gospel Encourages Weary Christians.” Read it for yourself and then share it with your people.

Here’s another helpful article by Peter Mead titled “Spiritual Warfare and Pulpit Ministry.”

Finally, here’s a piece by Michael Kelly on what the COVID situation has shown us about the church. This is a good read.

Tools of the Trade – Weekend Edition – January 1, 2021

A number of really good articles have been written over the last two or three weeks. Here’s a group of them to enjoy and I’ll have more in a few days.

Cynthia Epply writes for those who come to the holidays realizing that things are going to be different – and not (just) because of the Covid. Holiday Grief is something very real to many who will miss loved ones this year.

Allyson Todd continues the theme of the above article by writing about memories, brokenness, and the things that crush people at Christmas.

And here is one more article on this theme, which no doubt has been amplified by all that has happened in 2020.

This article by Joshua Heavin speaks to the need to minister appropriately to people who have disabilities in general and those with dementia in particular.

Mark Redfern shares some thoughts about how the reality of how Heaven shapes our ministry and helps us overcome the challenge we face.

This is a secular article, but contains a lot of wisdom for those of us who are married.

Christmas is wonderful, but it can be draining. David Mathis suggests a silent retreat after Christmas.

The always helpful Peter Mead shares 7 Things to Pray for as You Prepare to Preach in 2021.

YOUNGER PASTOR ALERT!!
As you get older you may find that your voice has changed, and not always for the best. This article, again from a secular source, contains some very good advice on improving your speaking voice.

Ed Welch writes: “So, trying to follow my wife’s example, I recalibrate my expectations of the local church and summarize them this way. To be in the body of Christ is to be a pastor, not necessarily an ordained pastor but a pastor in that we are all called to care for the souls around us. Passivity is out of the question.”

Jared Wilson has “Good News for Those Dragging Themselves Across the Finish Line to January 1.”

Another helpful article by Peter Mead. He says: “As preachers we often think in terms of giving answers. After all, we are the ones who need to study for hours in order to communicate God’s Word in a way that emphasizes its relevance to the people in front of us. Here are a few quick thoughts, not about answers, but about questions.”


Have a Happy New Year and thanks for stopping by!

Tools of the Trade for the Week of December 21, 2020

According to my count, this is my 200th blog post. I appreciate any and all who find this useful. Here are some helpful articles for you to read, mark, save, share.

You should be setting up your planner or productivity system for 2021. Here is an article about being more productive.

Todd Pruitt, pastor in Virginia, shared (courageously) some struggles with anxiety and depression. This is good reading whether you’re a fellow-sufferer or not, and there is more to come.

For those who counsel, here is a reminder that Christ is the solution.

Over the years I had some small groups take a Christmas quiz. It’s amazing how much non-biblical “stuff” people think is part of the biblical story. Michael Krueger talks about 5 misconceptions.

Just read it.

Tim Challies posts a consensus list of the best books of 2020.

Here are some suggestions for what our churches should pray for in 2021.

With all the mayhem going on in our world (and in a lot of churches), you pastors may find this really helpful right about now.

Here’s a challenge about mentoring the next pastor for your church.

I haven’t read this but I’m going to. We need to understand discipleship as more than a course or a set of classes.

Zac Durant talks about encouragement in ministry as we reach the end of 2020.

And just read this too.

If you’re inclined to wax eloquent on the dangers of the consumerist culture (and there are some) at Christmas, here’s something to read first.


Merry Christmas to you all. And may God bless us everyone!

Five From the Files

For the Weekend of December 18, 2020

Back to the archives again, though I have some great stuff waiting for you on Monday. For those who are not familiar with the “Five from the Files” idea, I have been sharing some articles that I’ve saved that go back a few years. What we read online seems here today and gone tomorrow, and there are some treasures that I’m unearthing in these posts. I hope you will find something helpful.

How is your church organized? How does the way your church is organized reveal what your church is all about? Timmy Brister wrote a good piece on Structuring the Church for Maximum Edification. (2012)

Back in 2012, Russell Moore wrote a really great piece on the humanity of Christ and why it matters. Let this one sink in. (2012)

One of the most difficult issues couples can face is infertility. As a pastor you may find yourself counseling a couple dealing with this. Here are five things they would want you to know. (2012)

Al Mohler writes about “Celebrating Christmas in the Face of Grief and Death” (2012)

Ron Edmondson provide some solid advice on the content of premarital counseling. (2012)


Have a great weekend!

Tools of the Trade for the Week of December 14, 2020

Some really good reading available over the last few weeks. Here’s another round of articles that should be helpful to you in your ministry.

The 9Marks group put out their list of recommended books for pastors from this past year. Have you read any of them. Share some comments in the comments section.

How well do our people know the Bible? How do you think they do at reading it accurately? Here’s an article that suggests some ways to build a build a biblically literate church.

The always helpful Peter Mead shares some important tips on preaching at Christmas.

We want our churches to be disciples who make disciples. Here are some helps from Rusty Richardson.

Pastors’ wives get little credit for all they do. Whether they are active in a variety of ministries or if they are a homemaker with the job of supporting their husbands, their praises need to be sung.

One of my first articles, Companions for the Journey, was read over 750 times. A group of pastors has been a lifeline for me, and I believe every pastor needs other pastors to talk to. Here’s an article on how to get a group going.

Ken Braddy writes about your small group’s worst enemy during this pandemic process and how to deal with it. Must read!!

Ray Ortlund writes on The Surprising Ministry of Encouragement.

Finally, here’s another must read: Navigating Pastoral Care Through COVID and Christmas.


I hope you have a great week! Read – Share – Save in Evernote.

Tools of the Trade for the Week – Weekend Edition – December 11, 2020

I have too many really good articles to share so I’ll put some up today and some on Monday.

I’ve mentioned that I’ve had some grief with the new version of Evernote, but I think they have it fixed. I tried several other programs over the last week, but none fit the bill. If you haven’t updated I think it’s safe to do now.

Here you go:

Tim Reigel, who writes a blog for those dealing with pornography, has an article of encouragement and instruction to read and share. And congrats to Tim for being hired as Worship Leader for our church.

Joe Rigney, at Desiring God, talks about the value of confessions. If your church is “that way,” it might convince you to start leaning.

Pastors get depressed and anxious, and so do people in our congregations. Here’s some help on counseling those who struggle.

Your People Must Know Jesus.” Sounds kind of obvious for a Christian church, right? Not so fast. Which Jesus do your people know?

If you are preaching, here’s a reminder why you need to keep doing it.

The Covid situation makes us feel like we’re limping toward the finish line this year. However, this article shares some ways our churches can finish strong in 2020.

Who would have thought that facemasks would be controversial? And who ever thought we’d be wearing them as long as we have (and apparently will). Eric Raymond adds a voice of sanity.

If your church, like ours, is looking at a different kind of Christmas this year, here are some ideas for making it special.

Garrett Kell shares some things he’s learned from a recent pastoral transition.

Here’s one to read and share about learning to meditate on the Bible.

Luke Holmes writes about tools that every pastor needs to have today.

The always provocative Carl Trueman has a video and accompanying text (5 minutes) on some of what is going on today in the area of “expressive individualism.”

Kevin DeYoung writes about the 3 dangers of busyness.

Sam Emadi, writing at 9Marks, tells us why and how shepherds are shaped by the sheep.


More to come early next week!