Good Reads 01.18.18 (on anger, heaven, and more!)

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

On heaven’s impact on life today: 3 Things Heaven Changes by Jared Wilson

Many of us are tempted to simply treat our days like punching a clock for that paycheck, something to keep us warm and well-fed. If we dare to dream big, we think along the lines of the American Dream, of investing for our financial future, or putting the kids through school or leaving them a good inheritance. But the immediacy of heaven transforms the way I view work.

If in fact my daily work is a part of God’s mandate to His people to take dominion and subdue the earth, then my workday becomes brimming with heavenly possibility! Through my work, I am laying up treasures in heaven.

I work now “as unto the Lord,” trusting that even the mundane things I do are being stewarded by Him to accomplish His purposes on earth—and in the earth to come. (click here to read more)

On anger: The Easiest Sin to Justify by Tim Challies

But I think anger is often different. When we sin in anger, we tend to absolve ourselves of blame by pleading the circumstances around the anger. So we blow up at our child, we raise our voice, we fling an insult. But when we’re challenged by our spouse or child or even our own conscience we point to the circumstances. “If she hadn’t been disobedient, this never would have happened.” So really, you see, it’s her fault. We scream an insult at the driver who cut us off in traffic. We use one of those four-letter words that surprises us (not to mention the rest of our family) as we hear it coming from our mouths. But in the silence that follows, or over the gasps from the back of the van, we insist, “He cut me off! He could have killed us!” It’s not our fault, but his.

When it comes to the sin of anger, we can always find an explanation that exists outside of us. We can always dump this sin in the lap of a husband or wife, a child or stranger. Failing that, we can plead fatigue or hormones or waking up on the wrong side of the bed or something—anything!—else. (click here to read more)

On knowing that you’re saved: How a Fish Can Help You Answer the Question of Whether or Not You Know Jesus by Mike Leake

But what separates a live fish from a dead fish? It isn’t that on occasion they are being tossed about by the stream or even swimming with the current of the stream. Both living fish and dead fish can go with the current. But there is one thing a dead fish can never do—swim up stream. They cannot go against the current.

The same is true of believers. There are times when we go along with the current of the world. We look just like the dead fish—being carried about by the cultural stream. We look like unbelievers being tossed to and for by every wind and wave. In such a season we’ll likely question our salvation because we aren’t reflecting our new life in Christ, we’re just going downstream like nothing has changed. (click here to read more)

On reading the Old Testament: The Joy of the Old Testament by Patrick Meador

God is introduced in power! He is introduced by what He has done. This is the power of biblical history. By reading what God has done, we gain insights into the character of God. When we read of God’s deliverance of the Israelites, we see the love, compassion, and power of God. In the recounting of His dealings with King David and Bathsheba, we see that even a man after God’s own heart can be broken and redeemed. It is in Isaiah 53 that we see the prophecy of the suffering servant, Jesus Christ. We read of God not only making promises but delivering on them!

Since discovering the value of the Old Testament, I have done sermon series through Joshua and Nehemiah as well as spent many times on sermons through the Old Testament, pouring over the text. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 12.14.17 (on: parenting, angels, and more!)

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

On parenting and Christmas: A Christmas Prayer for My Children by Tim Counts

As I picked up my 2-year-old son out of his crib this morning, hearing him chatter in toddler-talk about the mini Christmas tree in his room, it struck me that Your Son not only came as a little baby but also grew up as a boy. The Word who became flesh learned how to form words with his mouth. How incredible. How humble. How like us and yet unlike us you are, Jesus.

As we approach Christmas Day, my prayer is that my children would not miss Jesus for Christmas. I know this starts with me, Father. Would you strip away idols of materialism and picture-perfect white Christmases from my heart and help me to shine the spotlight on Jesus brightly this Christmas? (click here to read more)

On hope, trust, and God’s word: Seeing God’s Hand by Adam Kareus

On the approach back to our driveway, we have to go down a little hill. My son doesn’t like the hill and is convinced the hill doesn’t like him, either. He doesn’t trust the hill and is convinced the hill is up to no good. So, it never fails: when we approach this hill, he cries out for me to grab hold of his bike and control his speed. He is completely able to stop himself with the brakes, but still wants me to be there and hold his bike. If I take my hands off, he cries. It doesn’t matter that he can see me right there, ready to help. He has to see my hand grasping hold of his bike. Him seeing my hand holding on makes him feel safe.

We are the same way with God. We have to know that He is holding on. Without that knowledge, there is not a sense of security or safety. And this is not just head knowledge that God is in control; it is a deep seated trust that God is there and He is holding us in His hands. In fact, when we read our Bibles, it is amazing to see how often the writers wrote about this very thing. (click here to read more)

On angels: Angels in the Bible: What Do We Actually Know About Them? by Wayne Grudem

For centuries, artists have portrayed angels as beautiful humans with wings and glowing light, complete with halos, harps, and flowing white gowns (or perfectly sculpted bodies). But is that really what angels look like? Angels have inspired all sorts of imaginative stories and depictions, but what’s left when we separate fact from fiction? In order to know the truth, we have to ask, what does the Bible say about angels? (click here to read more)

On seeing God’s promises in the midst of pain: When You Cannot Yet See the Great Light by Lore Wilbert

A quiet, pulsing comfort when I’m reminded, in no uncertain terms, that we don’t always get what we want, is we haven’t been promised most of whatever it is we want. Marriage? More money? Bigger house? Health? More kids? Kids at all? None of them are promised. The years go by with no prospective spouse, the bank account always seems to be dry, every month a painful reminder that no seed has taken root in our womb. The reminders are everywhere, we don’t even have to look far. Name anything you want and haven’t yet got and there it is, your reminder.

Today, though, I woke on this fifth day of Advent and the second day of a miscarriage, remembering the child who was promised to me. God promised a child would be born to us, a son, given to us (Isaiah 9). He was not the child I wanted last night as silent tears tracked down my face, but he was given to us the same.  (click here to read more)

Good Reads 12.06.17 (on: becoming a Christian, marriage and dementia, and more!)

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

On helping teenagers in church come to their own faith in Christ: How to Become a Christian by Bryan Elliff

The problem was that I couldn’t figure out how to become a Christian. Yes, I knew that you had to repent and believe, that the Holy Spirit had to work in you to give you new life, and that you couldn’t just pray a prayer to “get saved.” But when it came down to the actual logistics of the thing, I was in a bit of a fog. How could I get the Holy Spirit to come work in me? What would it look like for me to decisively repent? I mean, I wasn’t doing drugs or even disobeying my parents, at least not in big ways. And how could I know that I had “believed” with a genuine faith? (click here to read more)

On the temptation to compare ourselves to others while suffering: But Others Have It Worse by Tim Challies

This is our temptation in suffering, to compare it to what others have endured and to downplay our suffering in relation to theirs. “I can’t possibly complain when he has endured that much while I’ve only endured this much.” “Yes, it has been difficult, but then I think of what that other person has endured, and then who am I to complain…”

This isn’t entirely wrong, is it? Stubbing my toe doesn’t earn me the right to commiserate with someone who has lost a leg. Losing my dog doesn’t equate to losing a child. But that’s not the same as saying those things don’t matter or that they aren’t genuinely painful. That’s not the same as saying those things don’t comprise true suffering. And that’s certainly not the same as saying those things don’t matter to God. (click here to read more)

A testimony on being faithful to one’s spouse during the battle with dementia: One Man’s Story of Faithfully Loving His Wife through Early Onset Dementia by Randy Alcorn

“I love Debbie and know that she still loves and needs me, she just has lost the ability to say it most days. I have to remind myself it is not really her anymore and even though that placates my fear of the loss of our love, it deepens the fear and angst over losing her; the person. But through some mystical, spiritual, emotional bond that ties us, her rare moments of comfort and signs of affection are the purest form of medicine for my soul.” (click here to read more)

On the Christian response to those guilty of sexual assault: Sexual Assault and the Scandal of the Gospel by Trevin Wax

How then should we respond? As Christians, there should be no equivocation or excusing of inappropriate sexual advances or abuse. Lord forbid the world be clearer than the church in naming and shaming evil deeds!

The church must be unflinching in its naming of sin. And yet the church must also not shrink back from the call to repentance. Repentance is the hope-filled call of the gospel: anyone can repent and be restored. Yes, anyone can turn from sin and find forgiveness.

Herein lies the scandal of the gospel. Christians name evil for what it is. Yet we also believe that evil desires and deeds can be confessed and overcome, that sin can be forgiven, and that people can be redeemed. The church is the peculiar society that insists that certain acts the world finds praiseworthy are sinful, while certain sins the world finds unforgivable can be wiped away. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 11.22.17 (on: thanksgiving, prayer, and more!)

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

On Thanksgiving:

The Scientific Connection Between Gratitude and Happiness by David Murray

Thanksgiving is much more than saying “Thank you” for a present or benefit we’ve received. The world’s most prominent researcher and writer about gratitude, Robert Emmons, said it is “a felt sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life.”

We can boost gratitude in our lives by intensifying the feeling of it for each positive event, by increasing the frequency of it throughout the day, by expanding the number of things we’re grateful for, and by expressing gratitude to more people. But the most effective multiplier of gratitude, said Emmons, is humility: “At the cornerstone of gratitude is the notion of undeserved merit. The grateful person recognizes that he or she did nothing to deserve the gift or benefit; it was freely bestowed.” (click here to read more)

Blessed Even in the Worst by Nancy Guthrie

These words were not given for Israel’s priests to use to ask God for his blessing, leaving them to wonder whether or not God would give it. Rather, God took the initiative to assure his people of his settled intention to bless them. He seemed to want to make it clear that he intended to be personally involved in their lives as the source of all the goodness they would enjoy.

So the first thing we learn from this blessing is that God is the source of every blessing in our lives. He blesses us by keeping us secure, extending his grace, and flooding our lives with his healing and wholeness. He is fully engaged, fully determined, and fully able to fill our lives with the security, grace, and peace we all long for. (click here to read more)

On prayer and salvation: 18 Prayers to Pray for Unbelievers by Tim Challies

A friend asked the question: How do I pray for unbelievers? How do I pray effectively? I trust that every Christian regularly prays for family or friends or colleagues or neighbors who do not yet know the Lord. And while we can and must pray for matters related to their lives and circumstances, the emphasis of our prayers must always be for their salvation. Here are some ways the Bible can guide our prayers… (click here to read more)

On the cultural oddity of Christianity: The Early Christians Were Odd, Too by Michael Kruger

A fundamental aspect of early Christian worship was its exclusivity. Only Jesus was to be worshiped. Whatever other religious loyalties one possessed before coming to Christ, they had to be abandoned and full devotion given to Jesus the King.

One might think the Roman state wouldn’t care about private worship practices. They cared because the Roman government didn’t view religion as private.

To be a good citizen, your duty was to pay homage to the Roman gods who kept the empire prosperous and flourishing. To refuse to worship the gods wasn’t only socially rude (Christians were viewed as sanctimonious), but it risked invoking the gods’ displeasure.

Thus, Christians’ refusal to participate in the broader Roman worship caused them to be viewed as reckless and callous to the welfare of their fellow man. Indeed, they were called “haters of humanity” (Tacitus, Annals 15.44). As a result, they often suffered serious persecution. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 11.15.17 (on parenting, spiritual warfare, and more!)

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

On parenting and the gospel: I Want My Kids to Be Good by David McLemore

My boys listen and interact and respond. They understand sin is bad and God is good. They learn the path Abraham should have taken. Don’t go to Egypt. Stay in the land God provided. Refuse the riches of the world. Receive the priest’s blessing.

But they will commit their own sins. They already have, and more are on the way.

I can’t stop it and it’s my fault. It’s Abraham’s fault, and Noah’s, and Adam’s. But it’s God’s plan, too. I can’t reroute their sins to me. I can’t undo the pain they’ve already felt. I can’t remove the stain with which they were born. But Jesus can. (click here to read more)

On parenting: My Biggest Mistake as a Mother by Carolyn Mahaney

It’s not that I didn’t trust God ultimately. But at times, doing good would creep up to the front, and trusting God would get shoved to the back. I was focused on what I was doing (or not doing) for my children, and only vaguely aware of what God was doing in my children’s lives. Trusting God became something of an afterthought, and I would mother my children as if it was all up to me. (click here to read more)

On being changed by the gospel: On Getting Un-Dragoned by the Light of Christ by Jared Wilson

We have to understand just how much this sacrifice has purchased! Christ’s shed blood has delivered us from the domain of darkness. His blood speaks the better word of justice accomplished. His blood declares pardon for us, cleansing for us, and—as John Calvin helpfully reminds us in his commentary on 1 John—this cleansing pardon is “gratuitous and perpetual.”

Christian, you are never not covered by the blood of Jesus. So: If his blood has covered your sin, why are you still walking in fear and hiding? (click here to read more)

On spiritual warfare: Doing Spiritual Warfare without All the Weirdness by Stephen Altrogge

James writes this as part of a bigger discussion about pride and humility. He’s not talking about claiming territories for God or praying walls of spiritual protection around people. He’s saying that spiritual warfare against Satan involves fighting against the demonic temptation of pride.

When we fight against the sin that so often rages within, we are doing spiritual warfare. We are resisting the devil. We are taking up the shield of faith and standing firm against the temptations and accusations of the enemy. We are declaring the old us is dead and that we are no longer part of the kingdom of Satan. (click here to read more)

 

Good Reads 11.08.17

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

On the church shooting in Texas: Tragedy in Texas: Christian Testimony in the Face of Evil by Albert Mohler

This particular attack in Texas highlights the fact that Christians are not immune from this kind of heartbreak. We cannot understand exactly what that congregation in that community is experiencing, but we do understand heartbreak, and we know that heartbreak is at the very center of their experience at this moment.

The Christian worldview affirms the dignity of human life. According to Scripture, every single human life is of eternal value and inestimable worth. Murder is not, then, merely a crime, it is an assault on the dignity of the human being—an attack upon the image of God. (click here to read more)

On contentment and the gospel: Chasing Contentment by Jonathon Woodyard

How does all that relate to contentment and discontentment? Augustine once told us that man’s heart is restless until it finds rest in God. Another way to say it, man is perpetually discontent until he finds contentment in God. We are constantly looking for the “great it of satisfaction.” Yet, we look in all the wrong places. We look for ultimate happiness and peace and satisfaction (i.e. contentment) in relationships and riches and promotions and a host of other things. And yet nothing ever quenches that deep thirst for something more, something else.

The gospel is a message to every discontented heart that says the pathway to contentment is open to all who would come to Jesus in faith. Come to Jesus and be reconciled to the one at whose right hand are pleasures forevermore (Ps 16:11). Turn from sin and place your faith in Jesus and find that through Jesus you get God. God is the great who of satisfaction. (click here to read more)

On loving your enemies: The Lord’s Crazy, Counter-Intuitive, Upside Down, Against-All-My-Feelings-and-Emotions Command by Stephen Altrogge

Has someone hurt you, taken advantage of you, ripped you off or insulted you?

You could take revenge. You could treat them as they treated you. You could hurt them back. You could take something of theirs. You could insult them back or badmouth them to others.

But if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you don’t have these options. Jesus says, “I’m going to tell you something completely counter-intuitive. Something absolutely crazy. Something that will go against all your feelings and emotions. And something that you can’t possibly do in your own strength. Yet when you do it it will demonstrate that you are a son or daughter of mine. And you will experience blessing you couldn’t imagine.” (click here to read more)

On God’s sovereignty: How a Genealogy Changed My Life by Jordan Standridge

The New Testament begins with the genealogy of Jesus. Unlike the one in Luke 3 which goes in ascending order form Jesus to Adam, the one in Matthew goes in descending order from Abraham to Christ. Matthew does something really fascinating in a few of the verses. Whenever there’s a famous woman in the line of Jesus, He lets us know. In verse 3, He mentions Tamar, in verse 5, Ruth, and in verse 6, Bathsheba. But it was another name in verse 5 that really blew my mind. The name was Rahab.

All of a sudden, when I read her name, it was as if a burden lifted off my back. I understood God’s sovereignty like never before. I became emotional as I considered the implications of reading her name in the line of Jesus. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 11.01.17 (on: parenting, God as refuge, and more!)

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

On God being our refuge: The Type of Refuge God Is by Mike Leake

God is not a reluctant refuge. He isn’t a passive refuge like a cave. He is one who delights in those who take refuge in Him. Therefore, I am emboldened to cast all my cares and anxieties upon Him. I don’t have to pretend that I’m someone that I’m not. And I don’t have to fear that when I come into this cave and spill all my guts and things get ugly that somehow I’m going to be rejected and booted out of this source of refuge. No, I’m loved and known deeply. (click here to read more)

On battling depression: What I Learned in My Season of Depression by Shona Murray

When I was a pastor’s wife and a mother of four children, I was T-boned by burnout and depression. As an energetic, motivated, organized, and outgoing person, I could never have anticipated the anxiety, fear, and endless despair that enveloped me. But God, in his love and wisdom, chose this very specific trial for me. Perhaps he has chosen it for you, and you too are bewildered. Let me give you some hope by sharing some of the lessons I learned from this shocking providence. (click here to read more)

On loving and serving moms: 3 Ways to Love Moms in Your Church by Allyson Todd

As you pursue and love moms in your church, let those moms also pursue and love you. This can be a life-giving opportunity for women to be reminded that their identity is not just in their motherhood. Let women with children disciple you, serve you, and love you as you love them.

I have some friends who would regularly invite me over for dinner when I didn’t have a kitchen. Since my friend was already cooking for her family, my presence at their dinner table wasn’t a burden. This same family let me live in their basement when I was in-between homes. We may feel like a burden to our mom-friends, but we can communicate our needs and let women with children meet us where they can. (click here to read more)

On parenting: 18 Things I Will Not Regret Doing with My Kids by Tim Challies

It baffles me that one of the things that most intimidates me is praying with my kids. I don’t mean praying with the whole family before or after a meal, but praying with my daughter for my daughter or with my son for my son. Yet this kind of prayer lets them see that I am concerned for what concerns them and it lets us join in prayer together for those very things. I know I need to prioritize this because I will never regret praying with them for them. (click here to read more)