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)

Put Away Your Idols

“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.” ~ Joshua 24:14

Toward the end of his life, Joshua called together the leaders of the tribes of Israel and issued them a final challenge. He told them to put away the gods their ancestors had served in Egypt and to follow his example in serving the Lord alone. This came with a warning from Joshua that if they failed to serve the Lord fully and turned back to their idolatry, then they would experience God’s judgment (a reality we see again and again throughout the book of Judges, as well as the people’s exile from the land many years later).

This speaks to our hearts as well. We all come to Jesus with various idols in tow. For us in western cultures, these are not so much trinkets of wood, rock, or gold that we place on our mantles for homage. Yet these are things in our lives that hinder full devotion to Jesus.

In The Imperfect Disciple, Jared Wilson provides a good diagnostic question to determine the idols of our hearts:

This is how you know what your god really is; this is how you know what’s really the treasure of your heart. What is it that you wouldn’t give up for Jesus? You’d give up everything in the world but this one thing. Well, that’s what you worship.

In another book, Gods at War, Kyle Idleman details nine potential idols. Three are in the “temple of pleasure”—food, sex, and entertainment; three in the “temple of power”—success, money, and achievement; and three in the “temple of love”—romance, family, and self.

When Jesus calls us to follow him, he calls us to put away all our idols and worship him alone. He calls us to lay down our very lives to pick up the self-denying sacrifice of our own crosses and follow after him (Luke 9:23). This isn’t easy, but it’s necessary.

The good news is that God gives us grace and the power of his Spirit to actually lay down our idols. The more we focus on God, his greatness, his glory, and the salvation he offers through Jesus, the less our hearts cling to the idols of our past. When Jesus is Lord over our hearts and priorities, it keeps our desires and needs in their proper place and prevents them from growing into hopeless idols.

This concludes our devotional series through Joshua. Look for a new series coming soon!

Monday Update (05.15.17)

We had a busy week last week with not much time to keep the blog up to date. Tomorrow we’ll get back to it with the conclusion of our devotional series in Joshua and a new series to begin soon.

We’ve also completed some updates to the church website with this new look and the addition of a “recent sermons” page. We upload our sermons to SoundCloud. Typically, the four most recent sermons will be available. You can listen to them here: or here:

Sunday 05.14.17 (times and seasons)

This Sunday we want to wish all our mothers a Happy Mother’s Day. We have a special gift for all ladies in attendance. We’ll also be continuing our Meaningless/Meaningful series through Ecclesiastes with a look at 3:1-14, Times and Seasons. With the holiday, we will not be having evening service. We hope to see you there!

Sunday Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
**No evening services

Sermon Notes
Times and Seasons ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

In our search for meaning in life, we must be rooted in Christ. Our purpose is to delight in the Lord: to glorify God by enjoying him. We seek to know him and make him known. Life is filled with different seasons and change. How do we stay focused on our purpose during these times?

  • The rhythms (times and seasons) of life (3:1-8)
  • Five unchanging things that help us maximize our God-glorifying purpose and find meaning in our seasons:
    • Be in awe of God (3:11, 14-15)
    • Look for and develop the beauty around you (3:11)
    • Pursue joy (3:12)
    • Do good to others—develop goodness around you (3:12)
    • Work hard and rest well (3:13)


Sunday 05.07.17 (looking for joy)

This Sunday, we’ll continue our journey through Ecclesiastes and consider the right and wrong places to look for joy in life, as Solomon tested pleasure, wisdom, and work and found them each meaningless without God. Then on Sunday night, we’ll make up last week’s Attributes of God lesson with a look at God’s omnipotence. We hope to see you there!

@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Attributes of God study

Sermon Notes
Looking for Joy in All the Wrong Places ~ Ecclesiastes 2:1-26

Solomon tested the limits of pleasure, wisdom, and work to see if they would bring him joy and meaning in life, yet found each lacking. Instead, to find joy, we should:

  • Delight in God more than you delight in the pleasures of the world (2:1-11)
  • Seek to be wise in eternal ways and not merely temporary ways (2:12-17)
  • Work for the glory of God more than for personal gain (2:18-26)


The Greatest Leadership Quality

“Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God.” – Joshua to Israel’s leaders, Joshua 23:11

Toward the end of the book bearing his name, Joshua, now “old and well advanced in years,” summoned the leaders of Israel together and gave them both a promise and a warning. The promise: Much of the land had already been taken, and if the people remained faithful to God, then he would drive out the rest of the inhabitants. The warning: If the people turned from God then he would not drive out the inhabitants and would even expel Israel from the land.

In the midst of this, Joshua gave the leaders the charge to be courageous and faithful, as God had charged him, and also to be “very careful to love the Lord your God.”

This same line, taken from Moses, was later given as an answer by Jesus to the question, “What is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Following this command is, therefore, something we all should do, but it is especially the number one attribute we should look for in leaders.

As you move from Joshua into Judges, you see that Israel’s faithfulness did not last long. This failure seemed to stem from a lack of God-loving leadership to guide the people well.

So often today, we want to treat the church as a business, the pastors as functional CEOs and the deacons as a Board of Directors. We highlight communication and administration skills and matters of personality as the highest priorities. This is not to say that leaders and potential leaders should not seek to grow in these things, but at the core of their being must be a deep love for God above all else.

It is better to have an unpolished leader who deeply loves Jesus than to have a grand executive whose love for God is spotty at best. Only with their own growing love for God will leaders be able to help others grow to love God more.

New posts in this devotional series will appear most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

The Reward of Patient Faithfulness

“And Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’” – Caleb to Joshua, Joshua 14:9

While the land was being divided up among the tribes, Caleb approached Joshua and reminded him of a promise that God had made after Moses had sent spies into the land—a story we read about in Numbers 13-14. Moses sent twelve spies into Canaan, one from each tribe, a number that included both Caleb and Joshua.

The spies returned saying that the land was a good land, flowing with milk and honey as God had promised. But ten of the spies discouraged the people by telling how mighty the inhabitants of the land were and how their mighty armies would surely crush Israel. Only Caleb and Joshua proved faithful and held onto the assurance of God’s promise to fight for the people.

The result was that every person twenty years old or older was left to wander and die in the wilderness over a 40-year period. Those nineteen and under at that point would be allowed to enter the land with their future children and grandchildren.

Caleb and Joshua were the exception to this. Both, though, still had to wander through the wilderness for four decades just like the rest of the people. But whereas their peers died, Caleb noted, “Behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses… I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me” (Joshua 14:10-11).

So, Caleb received what he was promised. The reward of his obedience was something he had to wait patiently for, but at the proper time it came. It is the same for followers of Jesus when the Bible calls us to endurance (Hebrews 10:36, Revelation 14:12).

The fulfillment of God’s promises is not often immediate. Before we experience everything God has promised us, we may have to spend 40 years wandering in the wilderness, we may have to spend a lifetime. But, the day will come when we receive what has been promised; and when that day arrives, the wait and anything we endure in the process will prove more than worth it (Romans 8:18).

New posts in this devotional series will appear most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.