Good Reads 12.09.15 (on: identity in Christ, Christmas, imperfect churches, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On God’s use of imperfect churches to grow us in Jesus: You Don’t Need Your Perfect Church Now by Stephen Miller

We all want to “arrive” at our ideal church, whether it’s in ministry or as members. The problem is that it doesn’t exist. There may be a honeymoon phase when you arrive at a church, but before long, the conflicts and complications will arise. Our great hope is not that someday we will arrive in this life at that perfect, ideal church. No, God has something much greater in mind. He wants to use those imperfect people, places, and positions to sanctify you toward the perfect image of his Son. (click here to read more)

On Christians, Christmas, and jolly ol’ St. Nick: Facing Down Santa by John Mark Yeats

Allow your kids to have fun with the stories about Santa. Call them “games” or “tall tales” or “fun stories.” Point them back to the history of St. Nick as a real person. Talk about his generosity or his courage to stand firm for the faith. But please heed this: Always Tell the Truth – If your young child asks if Santa is real, tell the truth. Do not allow them to miss out on the truth of Jesus once they discover the “truth” of Santa. Again, in our family, we often talked about the “game of Santa” or pointed them to  history. We didn’t want them to miss out on the greatest joy – Jesus. (click here to read more)

On our hearts and idols: Is Your Heart an Idol Factory? by Mike Leake

Yet, I still have to wonder if we aren’t misreading and wrongly applying that Calvin quote. I don’t think “perpetual idol factory” is an accurate description of the heart of one transformed by Jesus Christ. Nor do I think that is what Calvin, or more importantly the apostle Paul, is saying. The reference for Paul—and Calvin after him is one that has not yet been redeemed. To say that we are still churning out idols at a perpetual rate is, in my mind, to deny the transforming work of the Spirit within us. (click here to read more)

On who we are in Jesus: What Does it Mean to Find Your Identity in Christ? by Gavin Ortlund

The most powerful words I have discovered in my sanctification are, “this is not who I am anymore.” There is real power in speaking those words into temptation, into shame, into fear, into anger. And likewise, there is nothing like the joy of truly overcoming sin and then saying (and knowing it to be true), “this is who I am now.”

To find your identity in Christ is to taste this death and this joy deep in your bones. It is to say to the worst sins and disgraces of our lives, “I am dead to that;” and to say, in the best moment of our lives, that moment where new righteousness springs up unexpectedly, “this is who I am in Christ. This is the joy of Easter morning inside me.” (click here to read more)

On repentance and the struggle of life: When Repentance Feels Impossible by Matt Moore

Weary brother or sister, I want to tell you from personal experience that there is hope for you. You are not too far-gone. In Christ, repentance is possible, joy is attainable, and peace is yours for the taking. The Jesus who saved you is the same Jesus who is going to snatch you up from this hellhole of hopelessness. He loves you, even in all your sin, and is ready to help you fight your way out of this. (click here to read more)

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