Good Reads 07.20.17 (on: the Bible, health, and more!)

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

On the Bible and inerrancy: The Bible Is Better than Google by Margaret Bronson

The beautiful truth in all of this is that GOD WANTS US TO KNOW HIM. Learning about God isn’t googling “God” and reading millions of opinions on God. Instead, we open His Word, and we hear His very words breathed out. All other doctrines hinge on a sure source of evidence, a witness that we can trust. Without inerrancy, we cannot know anything about God with any certainty, and the “study of God” would be a guessing game, just like trying to figure out why my kid’s hair smells. Instead, with inerrancy, we can approach God and His Word with certainty, eager to learn of His ways and discern how to live faithfully in the world.  (click here to read more)

On godliness and health: Guard Your Health by Tim Challies (note: Challies is writing this “Run to Win” series for young men, especially, but it has truths which all can learn from)

You need to steward your body. As you surrender your body, you acknowledge that it does not belong to you but to God. Just as you are responsible to faithfully steward your time and money, you are responsible before God to faithfully steward the body he has assigned to you. You are to use your body wisely, to put your body to use in ways that bring glory to God. After all, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). (click here to read more)

On Jesus as the “way, the truth, and the life”: The Most Controversial Claim Jesus Made by David Mathis

Jesus gets the glory of being “the way,” (not “a way”), “the truth” (not just true), and “the life” (not just life), and as he does, we get the joy and peace and stability of having such a Lord and Savior and Treasure. “The way” is not centrally belief in certain principles and execution of particular actions, but trusting and treasuring a living person. At the heart of Christianity is not pillars to follow, but a person to know and enjoy. (click here to read more)

On the pastor and his character: A Pastor’s Character Over His Competence by Chris Thomas

Character over competence is a biblical idea. Note that I’m not saying that competence doesn’t matter—we’ll soon see that it doe. But that the vast weight of Scripture leads me to believe that God is primarily concerned with the type of man who shepherds, rather than the skills that man brings to the role.

There are two ‘go-to’ passages that deal with the qualification of a shepherd, both are found in letters written by Paul to emerging leaders of the first century church… (click here to read more)

Good Reads 07.05.17 (on: parenting, boredom, hope, and more!)

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

On parenting: A Letter to My Children by Adam McClendon

I pray that you will be a light for Jesus, that you will live for him, and tell others about him. Hope is only found in Jesus. Remember that. Also, remember that we have an enemy in Satan and he wants to destroy you. He will use your friends to tempt you to do wrong. People will make fun of you and try to pressure you into doing wrong. Don’t let them. Stand your ground. I promise, in the long run, they will respect you and want to be like you. (click here to read more)

On persevering in hope during the struggles of darkness: Saying Goodbye to Narnia by Chris Thomas

Peter lifts our downcast eyes to focus not on the joys of yesterday, but instead on the glorious realities of tomorrow. Yes, we may sit in dreary days of cold stinging rain, but once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen of Narnia. Tribulation is real—we should not be surprised by it—but it is not our defining reality. We have a living hope, an imperishable inheritance, and a secure salvation.

Dark days will come, but these are just ‘a little while’; days not to simply endure, but to rejoice in—days to abide in as we wait for tomorrow. Our waiting in the darkness isn’t simply a sufferance, but is essential in the preparation for brighter days, days filled with the praise and glory and honour of the revealed Saviour. (click here to read more)

On the value of boredom: Make Time to Be Bored by Tim Challies

When we were children and teenagers, boredom seemed like a bad thing, because idle hands are the devil’s workshop, right? But boredom should not be confused with idleness. Idleness is laziness and indolence. It is refusing to do what needs to be done. But boredom is simple inactivity, a break from the hustle and bustle and busyness of life. Boredom is the pause between activities or the deliberate escape from activity altogether. (click here to read more)

On facing death: Mourning Has Broken by Stephen McAlpine

Death did as it should to me. As it should do to all of us before we die.  It made me reflect on my own death; the need to be prepared; the brevity of life; the ageing process; the fact that the dementia time-bomb in Dad’s head may also have been smuggled into my own by some genetic terrorist bent on biomass destruction.

It found me simultaneously praising God for delivering us from the sting of death, which is sin, and grieving over death’s certainty for us all.  Death is not the sting, a common misunderstanding and misreading of 1Corinthians 15:56.  Sin is.  Somewhere in God’s plan a transition from this age to the age to come was planned for untainted humanity, a well-done-good-and-faithful-servant-reward. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 06.22.17 (on: parenting and discipline, affirmation, and more!)

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

On parenting: 3 Reasons Why Discipline is Harder than Punishment by Michael Kelley

If you are strictly punishing your kids, then just put them in time out. Or spank them. Whatever it is you do in your house. You can do it quickly, and then it’s over and done with. The reason why punishment is quicker is because the goal of punishment is exclusively reactive; they did something bad, and you need to make sure they don’t do it again. But when you discipline, your goal isn’t just behavioral; it’s about the heart. Heart formation takes much longer than behavior modification. That leads us to the second reason why discipline is harder. (click here to read more)

On our need for affirmation: When a Father Wound Defines You by Scott Sauls

I once heard Tim Keller say that Jacob’s deceit was the first recorded case of identity theft. But what was Jacob’s motivation? Why, under false pretense and knowing that it would not be long before both Isaac and Esau would find him out, did Jacob deceive anyway? Ten out of ten therapists would say that it was because Jacob, like every other child in the world, craved a paternal blessing. More than anything, he longed to hear words of affirmation spoken over him by his father. And, if the blessing can only be gained under false pretenses, a child will resort to any measure to satisfy this primal craving. Simply put, Jacob wanted more than anything to hear from his father’s lips, “I see you. You matter. I love you. I like you. You matter to me.” (click here to read more)

On overcoming pornography: Victory Over Porn is Closer Than You Think by Jimmy Needham

Fighting sin feels like this, doesn’t it? When we’re in the midst of temptation, all we can see is the next big wave looming in front of us. Surrounded and hopeless, we give in and face defeat, never knowing that just over the water ridge is the calmer sea of victory in Christ. If we only had eyes to see over, what freedom would we experience in the midst of temptation? What fresh strength and resolve would we feel, with God’s help?

But so many of us can’t see over the ridge.

Here’s where God’s word offers an unfathomable gift to the tempted and addicted: a peek over into the calm ocean beyond our hour of temptation. Consider with me a handful of precious texts that serve to reassure us that God truly gives us the victory (Romans 7:24–25). May they serve you as they have me to walk in lasting freedom from this sin struggle. (click here to read more)

On revival: A Revival Without Christ at the Center is Not Revival by Jared Wilson

At the front end of Paul’s excursus to the Corinthians on the sign-gift charismata, he reminds us: “Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus is accursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3).

What we often see in false revivals is the exaltation of particular figures or the worship of a worship experience itself. You can turn on nearly any religious television programming and see this work in action. Christ is given lip service but exhilaration, personal revelation, warm fuzzies, and spectacular manifestations are the real objects of worship. Charlatans are at the helm, and they purport to wield the Holy Spirit as if he were pixie dust. In these cases and others, it is not the Spirit stirring, but the spirit of the antichrist. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 06.07.17 (on: fostering, identity, and more!)

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

On fostering and the church: Foster Children Need the Church by Brittany Lind

The need is enormous, but when you consider that there are roughly 348,067 evangelical churches in America, the 430,000 children-in-foster-care number doesn’t seem quite so daunting. Unfortunately, it’s not a problem that can be solved by simply doing the math and distributing children among churches. Many factors complicate the issue, but the numbers are still fascinating to consider.

The church really can do something to help. While not all may be called to open a home to foster children, there are numerous ways to get involved and be part of the solution. I’ve been incredibly blessed by a meal from a friend on a busy week of social worker visits, or by friends who took the time to get fingerprinted so they could be approved babysitters. Larger group homes may be in financial need to care for the children, or they may have a child in need of a tutor or a counselor. The needs are many and ongoing at every level of the foster care system. Who better to meet those needs than the church? (click here to read more)

On your identity and behavior: Always ‘Be’ Before You ‘Do’ by Jon Bloom

Jesus came with the true gospel and the gift of the new birth to set us free (John 8:32). We must not allow the old, corrupt virus to dictate our lives. We must refuse to “submit again to a yoke of slavery,” by living out of the old “Do. Have. Be.” ethic (Galatians 5:1). “For freedom Christ has set us free,” so let us “stand firm” by living out of the liberating gospel ethic of “Be. Do. Have.” (Galatians 5:1).

When it comes to the source of our identity, discerning and then choosing which operating system governs how we live, we must always “be” first. (click here to read more)

On life in Jesus: Jesus: Living Water by Jonathan Camac

That’s the beauty of the gospel. Jesus makes a way. 

Where joy is found lacking, Jesus provides (John 15:11). Where hope is left wanting, Jesus comes through (Hebrews 6:19). Where help seems absent, Jesus is always present (Matthew 28:20). Where life is cut mortally short, Jesus eternally extends (John 3:16).

Jesus offers us something that nothing in this world can ever offer. Where the world can only promise temporary life and joy, Jesus promises eternal life and joy. And get this. We know for sure that Jesus is not in the business of ripping people off.

Because he offers all this for free. (click here to read more)

On getting rest: Christian Restivisim by Stephen McAlpine

But the radical reality of the gospel is not that it enables us to be activists, but that it enables us to be restivists. It enables us to rest from all our labours (Hebrews4:10); enables us to be something that the secular culture won’t applaud; enables us to be something that our self-righteous, harried hearts feel nervous about, and therefore will shy away from.

Indeed our self-righteous, harried hearts DO shy away from rest, and our church culture seems to be doing everything within its grasp to help us shy away from rest and pursue its own form of evangelical activism.  The defining feature of evangelical churches in the West is not rest. Do I even need to tell you that?  It is not even merely well-considered activism.  It is ill-considered activism.  And it’s burning out church leaders and their flock at a rate of knots. (click here to read more)

Finally, words of wisdom from challies.com:

Challies_June-4-10-02

Good Reads 05.31.17 (on: grief, growing up, and more!)

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

On discipleship and real life: Discipleship for the Rest of Us by Jared C. Wilson

If the mast gets struck by lightning, so do we. When church people say “Discipleship means following Jesus,” I think they tend to picture a group of sun-tanned dudes in cantata-quality robe costumes peacefully strolling through green pastures, perhaps stopping here and there under the comfortable shade of a tree to watch Jesus smile at them and tousle the hair of precocious children scampering about at his Birkenstocked feet.

Or maybe I’m just cynical. When I ask “What do you think of when you hear the word discipleship?” I’d love to hear people answer more along these lines:

“Believing God has a plan for me even when I’m afraid he doesn’t.”
“Believing God loves me even when I feel like nobody else does.”
“Trusting that God is doing something for my good even though my life has always been terrible up till now.”
“Following Jesus even though my feelings speak more loudly.”
“Denying myself to do what’s right although I don’t really want to.”
“Imagining a time when I won’t hurt as much as I do now.”
“Imagining a time when my spouse or child won’t hurt as much as they do now.” (click here to read more)

On how every Christian is called to be a servant to others: Every Christian a Minister by Eric Davis

Biblically speaking, however, the Christian life is not like that. In keeping with the football metaphor, the local church leaders are more like the team’s coaches and trainers (minus the temper). As such, they are called to work hard, study, stay ahead of things, and prioritize the care of the players. But they are not the players. Instead, all Christians are more like the players. As they receive the care, training, and equipping from the coaches, they are the ones on the field enjoying the challenges and rewards of the game.

To maximize their joy and effectiveness, they are to regularly stay connected with the coaches and trainers. They give and receive input to the coaches. They communicate closely with them. Wounds are treated, successes celebrated, and mistakes nurtured. They may not know every coach or trainer, but they stay closely connected with at least one. That/those coach(es) then provide accountability, equipping, care, and a nurturing relationship for as long as the player is under their stewardship. God’s design for every Christian is more likened to players on a field than spectators in a grandstand. (click here to read more)

On dealing with the pain and grief we face in life: Six Words to Say Through Tears by Nancy Guthrie

But when we are the ones who are grieving, what is far more important than what other people say to us is what we say to ourselves — what we say to ourselves in between sobs, when we have more questions than answers, when the emptiness feels overwhelming, when anger is getting a foothold in our heart.

When the grief is fresh and intense, we might take some wild ideas for a test drive, but to move toward healing and return to joy requires that we press this one idea deeply into our souls until it begins to impact us at the level of our feelings: “I can trust God with this.” (click here to read more)

On looking to Jesus to guide us as we grow up: Like Us, Jesus Had to Grow Up Too by Alun Ebenezer

Growing up in today’s world is hard. It’s a time of big changes. Hormones kick in and there’s the strain of having to contend with social media, peer pressure, the need to be cool, exam stress, insecurity and society’s relentless demand to be successful. It can all seem a bit much and young people can feel that no one knows, as Amy McDonald sung, ‘a single thing about the youth of today’.

But there is someone who knows; knows exactly what is to grow up in this fallen, broken world. The Son of God who thought it not robbery to be equal with God (Phil. 2:6), 2000 years ago humbled himself, made himself of no reputation (Phil. 2:7, 8), became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). For 33 years he learned what it is like to be you and me; to be a baby, a toddler, a child and an adolescent. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 05.24.17 (on: battling depression, spiritual gifts, and more!)

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

On the Old Testament: Seven Ways the Old Testament Deepens Our Love for Jesus by David Murray

One of the ways that children sometimes try to deepen their relationship with their parents is to travel back to where their father or mother grew up. They might visit historical societies, read archives, and gather newspaper stories and artifacts from old friends. Doing so, they build a bigger and better picture of their father or mother and experience a deeper sense of connection with them and love for them.

In a similar way, Christians go back to the Old Testament to build a bigger and better picture of Jesus Christ. By connecting with his past, we connect better with him and deepen our love for him. The Old Testament connects us with Jesus’ past in the following ways: (click here to read more)

On dealing with personal darkness and depression: What Do You Do When You’re in the Pit? by Godwin Sathianathan

Well, that’s all very true.  But last I checked we are all still human!  The Bible never calls us to be anything other than human.  And in our humanity, we hurt. To express this hurt to God isn’t necessarily sinful communication; it can come from a very deep place of trust in our Father’s tender care.  Kids who scrape a knee and then bury their tearful faces in mamma’s lap communicate profound trust in mamma.  Likewise, God’s children run to their Father when they hurt too.  This is child-like trust, not godless defiance. (click here to read more)

On loving your church: Love the One You’re With by Jon Bloom

The earthly church has always been a motley crew. It’s never been ideal. The New Testament exists because churches, to differing degrees, have always been a mess — a glorious mess of saints still polluted by remaining sin, affected by defective genes, brains, and bodies, and influenced by life-shaping pasts.

This mess rarely looks glorious to us up close. It looks like a lot of sin and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears invested into a lot of futility. It often looks like something we’d rather escape than join.

But this is the way it’s supposed to be. Because the mess is what draws out the one thing that advances the church’s mission more than anything else. And this one thing is why we must not, for selfish reasons, leave the church. (click here to read more)

On Spiritual gifts: The Only Spiritual Gifts Test You’ll Ever Need by Stephen Altrogge

As I skimmed it, I thought, Is this spiritual gifts test really necessary? Is figuring out my God-given gifts really this complex? 

Thankfully, I don’t think things need to be so difficult. In fact, I think determining your spiritual gifts is incredibly simple.

God wants you to know your gifts. He’s not hiding them from you. You don’t have to embark on a lengthy, soul-searching journey culminating in transcendent mystical revelation.

Figuring out your spiritual gifts requires only two questions… (click here to read more)

Good Reads 05.17.17 (on Christian living, prayer, and more!)

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

On our dreams vs. our reality: Embrace the Life You Have by Vaneetha Rendall Risner

Finally, I am called to embrace the life I have. Embrace it as I would a beloved friend. Wholeheartedly. With joyful acceptance, not grudging obedience. Embracing means gladly receiving and even welcoming whatever the Lord gives me, even when it wasn’t in my plans. It means being fully present, living in the now, finding joy in the moment, and not longing for what’s past. (click here to read more)

On parenting: How Should Parents Respond to Their Children’s Sexual Sin by Russell Moore

It’s good for parents to feel burdened about their kids’ sin. There are far too many parents, including evangelical parents, who assume sexual sin is just part of growing up, particularly when it comes to boys. That’s not true. This is a sin against God, and a genuinely Christian response to such sin needs to begin with feeling the true weight of this sin.

Having said that, parents should also not be excessively shocked. We shouldn’t communicate to our children, “I can’t believe what you did,’ or even worse, “I can’t believe you did this to us.” Too many parents take their children’s sin personally, because they expect their child to always make the right moral decision in challenging moments. There is no sin except what is common to man, and while there are extreme sins, your child will not invent any sin. (click here to read more)

On men and prayer: Men, Lead Out in Prayer by Casey Lewis

Prayer is what the church and country need. It especially needs men who are willing to lead spiritually, and specifically, to lead in the area of prayer. Men, we can’t abdicate our responsibility any longer to the women in the church. We must lead as God has called us to lead.

I am sure other pastors in other times have said this but I am going to say it now in our time. Men, if we want our country and community to change, if we want to see people come to Jesus, we have to be spiritual leaders who are leading out in prayer. (click here to read more)

On living faithful to Jesus: Stop Being on Fire for Jesus by David Appelt

And that’s the rub. Yes, if I am living my life in obedience to Jesus, in worship of him, and striving to grow in His grace, then I will have the positivity that often comes along with it.

But by no means does the bible tell us to gauge our spiritual lives solely (or even primarily) based on our feelings. It’s a reality in the bible that we will go through seasons of pain, doubt, failure, feebleness, and loss. Not every second of our lives will be exhilarating, news-worthy, record-breaking happiness, and excitement. Most of the Christian life is radically ordinary. (click here to read more)