Good Reads 04.24.18 (on family)

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

On family worship: A video by Don Whitney on helping with the struggles of family worship–click here

On parenting: How to Parent Fearful Kids by William Smith

First, please don’t tell them that there’s nothing to be afraid of. They know better. They know that they might fail or get hurt. Telling them there’s nothing to fear will only convince them that they understand the world better than you do. If they think you see less than they do, you’ll only convince them that you have nothing to offer.

Instead, acknowledge that they’re scared and either ask or guess what frightens them. Then, to the extent that you can, tell them that you get it. Let them know you understand why that’s scary for them. At the same time, though, remind them they’re not alone. Tell them you’re there with them and they don’t have to fight their fear all by themselves. (click here to read more)

On siblings: How to End Sibling Rivalry Like a Christian by Jen Wilkin

Why do we discount the vision of our kids as each others’ dearest friends? Why do we settle for rivalry? Frankly, as a parent, it’s easier to be a referee than a reconciler. It’s easier to separate than to shepherd—at least in the short-term.

But as I witness the deep friendship that has grown between my kids, I affirm that the long-term benefit was worth the effort. A friend who sticks closer than a brother is a rare gem. A sibling who is a best friend is a treasure for a lifetime. And a Christian family filled with siblings who are friends bears compelling testimony to the gospel of peace. (click here to read more)

On the struggles of aging: Navigating Through Difficult Seasons of Life by Darrell Deer

Maybe you, too, are in a season of struggle. Perhaps your season, like mine, involves helping the people you love navigate the difficulties of aging. Or, maybe your struggles fall into a completely different category. Whatever the context of your life right now, I imagine the lessons above still have relevance for you. Learn to focus on the step in front of you. Be encouraged by the people around you. Dive deep into the pool of prayer and trust confidently in a sovereign God. May He help each of us manage the difficult seasons of our lives. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 01.25.17 (on: friendships, praying for leaders, and more!)

On friendship: Friends Your Age Are Not Enough by Jaquelle Crowe

Yet while having friends of the same age is normal and natural, we miss something special when we don’t have any friends who are of different ages than us, particularly in Christian community. Christians share a bond and identity that trumps everything else — job, race, and most definitely age. If there’s no longer Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, there should be neither old nor young (Galatians 3:28).

Age should not build walls. Jesus should tear them down. When we put aside our preference for people just like us, we broadcast the beauty of our shared union with Christ. (click here to read more)

On aging gracefully: Greater Age Brings Greater Responsibility by Tim Challies

Then there is the responsibility of example, of setting an example of the character and conduct that God commends. We expect little from children when it comes to modeling such traits. But as they grow into their teens and then pass into their 20s and 30s, we rightly expect much more. With aging we gain the special responsibility of setting an example to those who are younger than we are. Titus 2:2-3 lays out specific ways that older people are to serve as an example to younger people. “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good…” Older men are to cultivate and display specific character traits—traits that are appropriate for their age and lacking in those who are younger. Older women, too, gain new responsibilities of character and conduct that serve as an example to younger women. (click here to read more)

On prayer for national leaders: You Should Pray for Donald Trump No Matter How You Voted by Russell Moore

After all, we live in a society in which politics has become a badge of tribal identity. Many see their political “side” as the force for good, and the other “side” as the total opposite. That’s why one can take poll questions on issues and get opposite opinions, from the same people polled, based on whether the issue is associated by the pollster with one president or another. Prayer can become that way.

We can pray in a way that wants absolute success for officials we like, and total defeat for those we oppose. That’s not the way Christians pray.

Consistently, no matter who is in office, we are to pray for success. That doesn’t mean we pray for all of any leader’s ideas to be realized. But it means that we pray that he or she would succeed, would carry out an agenda that leads to the flourishing of the rest of society and, particularly, so that the church may “lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” (click here to read more)

On being a part of the church community: The Life-Changing Magic of Showing Up by Ricky Alcantar

We are obsessed with lifehacks and shortcuts today. Everywhere ads hit us with easy trick to grow our investments, to make dinner prep a breeze, to give us a toned body in seven minutes, to rack up credit card points. We’re tempted to believe that maybe, somehow, there’s a real shortcut there for Christian community and spiritual growth.

Certainly tips and tricks for daily life stuff have their place, but the writer of Hebrews gives us the opposite of a shortcut: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb 10:24-25)

That’s his charge: think about how to stir up other believers, don’t neglect just showing up week after week at church or in your small group or with your accountability partner and encourage them. No shortcuts. Just refusing to quit. (click here to read more)

Going Gray (a daily proverb)

This devotional series examines a verse or two from a chapter of Proverbs each day of January 2017.

Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life. ~Proverb 16:31

Health and beauty items are big sellers here in the United States. Always longing for some mystical fountain of youth, having yet to find it we seek to cover over the marks of growing old. Cream to hide wrinkles, concealer to cover dark eye circles, and dye to color hair.

Solomon gives us a different take on aging. Gray hair isn’t something to hide, but is rather the crown of a righteous life.

When dealing with proverbs, we must remember they are meant to cover general truths not every occasion truths. There have been unrighteous and even some exceedingly wicked people who have lived into old age with gray hair. Theirs is not a crown from a righteous life. And there have been righteous and very godly people who have died before gray hairs sprouted.

But in general, what we find through the proverbs is that wise and godly living helps us to avoid many behaviors that can result in a life cut short.

If a person is devoted to following after Jesus, and truly getting to know the One True God, then with age comes greater wisdom and greater righteousness. For these, by the grace of God, have devoted themselves to not be satisfied with simply skating by, spiritually speaking. These are the men and women that Solomon had in mind.

John had a similar thought in his letters:

I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. (1 John 2:12-13)

This is the progression of spiritual growth. The children have experienced the basics of forgiveness through Christ. The young men and women are like warriors, battling strong against sin and the ways of the old life. The fathers and mothers are those with a deep relationship with the Living God, those who have faithfully walked the path of Jesus and are passing on that legacy to a new generation.

These are the gray-haired of Solomon. Such is the crown that we should pursue.