Lessons on Counseling, Marriage, Gender Roles, and More (Todd Bordow)

Todd Bordow is the pastor of Cornerstone OPC in Houston. He has degrees from Westminster Seminary California (M.Div.) and Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando (D.Min.). He blogs occasionaly at Kingdom Kompilations.

In the following episodes of the Glory-Cloud Podcast, Pastor Bordow talks wtih Chris Caughey about several challenging and controversial issues church leaders face, especially in conservative churches. Bordow is a careful exegete with a deep commitment to Scripture. He also speaks from years of experience and demonstrates genuine love for Christ and Christ’s flock.

So I’ve complied this mini-series here for easy reference. He begins with some thoughts about pastoral counseling in general.

Video Conference Etiquette + Skills Checklist

Meeting with people on the Internet has a specific set of blessings and challenges, just like other ways of meeting. And like other others meetings, how you act and treat others will depend on the context. Are you goofing around with your friend or interviewing for a job? Are you hosting the meeting or attending it?

Here are eight guidelines for video conference meetings that lean toward the formal where you are the attendee. Use wisdom to adjust to your particular video conference.

  1. Remember that we connect and communicate a lot with our eyes. Your attention shows care. To give this kind of attention, look into the camera. This works best if you put the camera at eye-level. This is not always easy, so be patient with others.

  2. As with in-person meetings, guard against distraction. For example, be careful about using technology for any purpose other than engaging in your meeting.

  3. Web conferences lean toward informality. Watch out for this if you’re attending a more formal meeting. For example, avoid playing with backgrounds or experimenting with other features during the meeting. Give thought to what you wear and what is within audio/visual range.

  4. In general, keep your audio muted when you’re not speaking.

  5. Be courteous during techno-lags in the conversation. People may look funny if the video freezes, just wait for the video to resume. Moving a little slower in a meeting and checking in often a benefit to everyone.

  6. Do not use the private chat feature unless the host has encouraged it.

  7. Connect a little early and be prepared to start on time. 

  8. If you are new to video conferencing, read these tips for better video conference calls. If you are new to a particular platform, download the software needed (desktop is better than mobile) and test it out to get familiar with the features. You could practice with a friend, or try out a real Webex meeting or Zoom meeting online. Practice is your best friend. This will give you time to find and fix problems before the meeting and fully participate once the meeting begins.

Bonus: Skills Checklist for Attendees

  • Do I know how to mute and un-mute myself?
  • Do I know how to start and stop my video?
  • Do I know how to share and stop sharing content?
  • Do I know how to switch between the different viewing options?
  • Do I know how to raise my hand (virtually)?

🍎🥩🍌🍐🍉🍖🥚🍇🍓🥬🍆🥑🍗🥛 USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue salutes the heroes in the US food supply chain.

Clara sings! A better way to wash your hands.

Instead of counting to 20 when you wash your hands, sing a hymn. It’s a practical way to trust in God instead of getting anxious. And since each verse of the hymn I picked lasts about 20 seconds, even if you sing fast, it helps you do the job well while glorifying God. We are learning verse 1 this week. Join us! My amazing daughter, Clara, will show you how. #handwashhymn

📺 The Berlin Phil is offering free streaming of its concerts. And starting Monday with Carmen, the Met is going to be streaming a free opera every night. Thank you, musicians!

Want to limit germ spread during communion?

Passing communion trays is a very common practice, but it doesn’t seem to be the best way if you are trying to limit the spread of germs. So are there other ways to serve communion in accord with God’s word and Christian prudence?

Consider the history of the Reformed churches. Though not without some controversy, the history of the Reformed churches shows a variety in practice.

At the heart of the Reformed understanding of the Lord’s Supper is the sharing of the sacred meal. The medieval Mass put the emphasis on reciting the canon through which the miracle of transubstantiation took place and the consecrated host was offered up as a sacrifice for the living and the dead. As Reformers taught it, the communion was the focal point of the service. The sign Jesus gave was the sharing of a meal and as the Reformers understood it the visual sign should look like a meal shared by the communicants. Various approaches were taken by churches to make the celebration look more like the sharing of a meal. In Strasbourg, right from the start, the altar was replaced with a table. People came forward and stood around the table as the ministers passed the bread and wine to them. In Zurich a table was set in the middle of the church in front of the pulpit. While the people remained in their seats the bread and the wine were passed to them. The church was centered around the baptismal font, the pulpit, and the table. In the Rhineland, the Netherlands, and Scotland special tables were set up in the front of the church and the people left their seats, sat down at these tables, and passed trays of bread and the cups from one to another.

For more details on this history, see B. B. Warfield’s article, The Posture of the Recipients at the Lord’s Supper: A Footnote to the History of Reformed Usages., and also Liturgical Space: Christian Worship and Church Buildings in Western Europe 1500-2000 by Nigel Yates.

🚥 Check out the Coronavirus Misinformation Tracking Center by NewsGuard.

How Hughes Oliphant Old Got Better at Praying

I suspect all Christians would like to improve in their ability to pray. I know I would.

Even though we don’t believe prayer is a performance, it is still something that can be done well or done poorly or somewhere in between.

But how can you improve? I’ve read various books on prayer—old and new—and they are good in so many ways, but I’ve often felt like there is a missing piece. I ask questions like: “Is there a method for using A Method for Prayer?“

If you’ve ever felt like this, here’s what you need to know: In order to improve at anything, you need to gain awareness of what you are aiming for in relation to where you are, alongside practice in attaining it. Books like Matthew Henry’s classic, A Method for Prayer, can help if you use them in the right way.

You get a sense for what this looks like in Leading in Prayer: A Workbook for Ministers. In this book, Hughes Oliphant Old describes the kind of things he did to improve his prayers and provides sample prayers, with plenty of margin space for note taking, to help us improve too.

Here’s what Old did and suggests:

  1. He set aside time to pray. For example, he used Saturday mornings to prepare prayers for Sunday. The puritans prayed well because they prayed a lot. They prayed alone, with their families, and in their churches.
  2. He learned through emulation. Like an apprentice painter that learns to paint by first painting the great works of art done by others, Old used prayers he admired from others for his own praying. He used the Psalms and the prayers of the Reformers and church fathers, for example.
  3. Old also practiced his ability to identify the qualities of good prayers (tone, parts, logic, imagery, etc.) and the deficiencies of bad prayers. Well-known books on the topic offer lists and explanations to help you with this. But it’s good to learn through close, personal observation as well.
  4. Old would also practice by rewriting or reworking prayers to fit modern English and the particular needs of the moment.

Essentially the same advice is given by Samuel Miller, Isaac Watts, and others but with more power and detail than I’ve done here.

Based on these four types of exercises, you could devise a 1-2 week plan of assignments for yourself. Then when you finish, reflect on what you’ve learned, and then do it again, work on something else, or tweak your plan and try again.

This kind of practice will help you improve your prayers and should not be disregarded lightly. But remember: In learning to emulate the patterns of holiness, guard yourself from becoming a mere mimic. Having the appearance of godliness but denying its power is not the goal.

This kind of irreverent mimicry is mockery. It happens when we trust in our own strength rather than the Spirit, and it happens when we aim to please man rather than serve God.

Instead, when you pray, offer yourself fully to God in your prayers. Seek to do his will from a sincere heart. And when you sense your weakness, rely on the Spirit to help you. Because, as it says in Romans 8:27, he will intercede for you according to the will of God.

Paul said, “Be angry and do not sin.” Also true:

Love and do not sin. Hate and do not sin. Desire and do not sin. Spurn and do not sin. Hope and do not sin. Assert and do not sin. Despair and do not sin. Fear and do not sin. Celebrate and do not sin. Sorrow and do not sin.

📷 Day 11: Plain

I know, it’s impressive how @dellachelpkaArt turned this plain wall into a work of art., and I don’t want to brag, but do you know who set up the ladders?

📷 for Day 10: Sign

📷 for Day 9: Lull

dogs, one is sleeping

📷 for Day 8: Contrast…this coloring book cover. 😆

"Happy Times with God's Creation" coloring book cover features fox hunting its prey

📷 I’m late to the photoblog challenge, but I’ve got a great one for today’s word: Above.

desert scene with bird, cactus, cliud, and sun

📚 Read Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out by John Calipari and Michael Sokolove. I think this might be the first sports book I’ve ever read!

Churches Should Protect Their Data. Tips and Links!

data privacy day

Dear Church leaders,

How are you doing at protecting the valuable data of your church and its members? Whether it’s less private information like the church bylaws, or very private information like membership directories, financial transactions, and personal messages, churches have a responsibility to keep its data safe.

Of course, there’s no such thing as perfect security, but there is such a thing as due diligence. And some of us aren’t doing a very good job.

Let me encourage you in this way: start thinking about protecting information online like you would offline. For example, if you wouldn’t counsel a couple whose marriage is falling apart in the middle of a public coffee shop, then neither should you send sensitive emails to that couple over that coffee shop’s public WiFi.

The data we possess as leaders of the church is valuable and we should treat it as such. Losing data, because of a hardware crash or a thief can be very expensive to recover and can even alter some people’s lives.

This means that as leaders we need to follow good practices, like the ones listed below. We also need to help shape a culture in our churches that thinks about safety not only in the nursery and in the classroom but also on the Internet. Because as a body what we do effects each other, and the good work you do can be undone if others in the church don’t their part.

Everyone can learn more at stopthinkconnect.org. But let’s get some things done today.

Here are three simple things you can do today.

  1. Start using a browser and search engine that protect your privacy rather than ransack it. Download Brave and switch your default search engine to DuckDuckGo.
  2. Secure your email accounts with good passwords and turn on two factor authentication (apps like Authy are better than SMS messages which are better than nothing). Here’s how.
  3. Start using a password manager today. Bitwarden is great and offers free and super-cheap accounts. Don’t wait to start. You can adjust your system to meet your needs as you go, and if it Bitwarden doesn’t work for you, it’s easy to export your data and move it somewhere else.

Here are three things you could do this month.

  1. Secure your home and church networks.
  2. Backup your data so it can be recovered in case of loss. Having local, physical backups and offsite electronic backups is a good idea. I like Backblaze.
  3. Install a VPN on your mobile devices. If you don’t know what that is, make it easy on yourself and just sign up for Tunnelbear. Again, you can always switch later.

Having fun? Want to level up?

  1. Lock down your privacy settings. Start with your most important accounts and devices first.
  2. Get away from businesses that require your personal data to make money. Visit nomoregoogle.com and ethical.net to find better tools.
  3. Own your own data. Instead of giving away your data for free to social media companies, take back control of your online presence by having your own website and posting there first. This once was difficult, but now it’s easy and cheap with services like Micro.blog and Blot.im.

Learning to use the Internet safely is empowering. And it’s easier than the other ethical alternative: disconnecting from the internet. Because if you can’t use it safely, then you shouldn’t use it.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, just go back to the things you can do today. The tools I suggest are well-respected, easy to use, and inexpensive. And if you don’t like them, you can always switch later. You’ll feel good having taken a step in the right direction.

To learn more, follow the links above and consider subscribing to a couple blogs to keep current on the issues.

See you online.

🎈Happy Data Privacy Day. Learn more: staysafeonline.org.

Keep Current on Cybersecurity with These Four Blogs

Cybersecurity needs and threats change. If you want to keep current on recent threats, get tips for online safety, and read other cybersecurity related news, consider subscribing to one or more of these blogs. They’re good for non-professionals like me.

🔭 My daughter and I are learning about God’s amazing planet Saturn.

A simple model of thr planet Saturn

🦉 Updated my learning page tonight.

Reflecting on Attachment Theory in Light of Scripture

This is entry 6 of the blogchain TBRI.

TBRI is rooted in attachment theory, as seen in this animation.

I’ve done some more reading and thinking about attachment theory and it’s level of helpfulness in light of the Bible’s teaching. And I plan to share some of my conclusions thus far. But until then, here are some short essays worth considering.

The first is a careful and solid review of a popular book called God Attachment. The second was more enjoyable to read, though I wished it was more precise in a few places. It contains an overview of attachment theory ( the first does too) and several helpful theological observations.

👞 If all goes well, these pieces of birch plywood are going to become tap dance practice pads for my kids.

large pieces of birch at Home Depot

💬 Rebecca McLaughlin (@RebeccMcLaugh) tweeted:

Friends sometimes tell me they wish they had my faith.

When this happens, I gently point out that they do: they just put it in other things.

Faith isn’t an extra app that some people have. It’s our core OS.

👏🏻 Notebooks is about to get several major upgrades. According to Screen Time, it competes with Brave for my most used app. I still agree with what I wrote almost a year ago. And these upgrades are going to make it even better. Yay!

A Toolbox of Helpful Phrases for Parents and Other Caregivers

This is entry 5 of the blogchain TBRI.

Words are powerful tools to help get kids back on the right track. So it’s helpful to have a toolbox of reliable phrases you can turn to again and again when responding to behavior problems or potential behavior problems.

The following phrases are recommended and modeled by Karen Purvis in these TBRI training videos, especially Chapter 4. Watch them if you can because it’s helpful to see these words used in real life.

I’ve separated them into engagement-types, but don’t be rigid. Many can be used in multiple categories, so be curious and try things. And remember to keep your relationship goals in mind in addition to your behavioral goals.

Level 1 (Playful Engagement) Words

  • “Would you please try that again with respect?”
  • “Let me see your eyes.”
  • “Give me eyes.”
  • “Try nice words.”
  • “Can you try that again?”
  • “Would you like a redo?”
  • “With respect.”
  • “Gentle and kind.”
  • “Use your words.”
  • “Are you asking or telling?”
  • “What do you need?”
  • “How’s your engine running, buddy?”

Level 2 (Structured Engagement) Words

  • “Sweetheart, you have two choices…”
  • “Sweetheart, if you’re asking for a compromise you need to do it with good words.”
  • “No hurts.”
  • “Listen and obey.”
  • “Can you calm your engine on your own or do you need help?”
  • “What did you do wrong? How could you do it right?”

Level 3 (Calming Engagement) Words

  • “Let’s (get and ice cream cone/do some art/take a nice walk) and talk about this.”
  • “You need to think about what you did wrong and how you can do it right. When you’re ready. You say ready. I’ll be right here.”