Good Reads 10.05.17 (on anxiety and prayer, evangelism, and more!)

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

On evangelism: Engaging Others with the Gospel by Adam McClendon

We are called to consistently engage our culture with the gospel in mind, within and outside our normal routines. We should go on mission trips. We should, on occasion, go door-to-door to people we don’t know to engage them in gospel conversation, but we don’t end our engagement there. We should engage others from a gospel perspective in our everyday and every-weekend moments like our school boards, club teams, Home Owners Associations, Parent / Teacher Associations, workplaces, classrooms, charities, neighbors, etc.

We should take others fishing, hunting, golfing, or whatever other recreation activity we might prefer, and we should do it with a gospel mindset and a love for others. Many of us are already engaging our world where we are through social media, neighborhood conversations, sitting at our kid’s practices, etc. We just need to ensure we shift in our mindset, keeping the gospel in view. In addition to just being friendly, we must engage with a gospel mindset that looks for opportunities (i.e. open doors) to point people to Christ and gauging their openness to the gospel. (click here to read more)

On prayer and anxiety: What if Prayer Makes Anxiety Worse? by Mike Leake

This is why I still pray…or try to pray…in the midst of darkness. Because eventually the gospel wins out and God breaks through. It happened with Bunyan and it happens with me.

Prayer is helpful even when our thoughts of God are jacked up simply because the gospel is true. When we cry out to God—even with hearts tinged with unbelief, depressive thoughts, and the whole lot—he answers. It may not make me feel better in the moment in which I pray. But God hears and God answers. (click here to read more)

On discipleship: Let’s Get Real About Women’s Discipleship by Rachelle Cox

Less than a year ago, I helped organize a women’s ministry event focused on discipleship. During this hour-long event, we offered women the chance to ask anonymous questions to a panel of female leaders in the church about the practice of discipleship. It went well. Frankly, a little too well. The five of us participating on the panel ran out of time long before those in attendance ran out of questions.

While I was encouraged by the interest women showed in the topic, I left the panel feeling somewhat burdened by the trend I saw in the questions women were asking us. Many women in my church seemed to struggle with the essential rhythm of discipleship, mostly because they had unrealistic ideas about what discipleship should look like in the first place. They were frustrated by their lack of theological prowess or their inability to squeeze a group Bible study into their schedules, and rather than doing discipleship “wrongly” they were just foregoing discipleship completely. (click here to read more)

On doing good to others: Enjoying God Fuels Doing Good by David Mathis

Titus also has something to say about “learning” to do others good. There’s a process — with practical steps to take ahead of time — to make space for the Spirit’s leading. That may include leaving enough margin in your schedule to be able to meet unexpected needs, or carrying paper money to give on the spot to someone in need, or setting aside funds for personal ministry in your monthly budget.

“Let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14). Being ready to do good doesn’t necessarily come naturally. It’s something we learn. We learn to devote ourselves to the good of others. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 03.22.17 (on: adoption, godly mothers, and more!)

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

On adoption: Adoption is Commitment by Joel Littlefield

Unlike a good dream where one hopes it never ends, adoption may not always feel that way. There may be days when tiredness gets the best of me, and physical and spiritual fatigue leaves my wife and me to sit on the couch at the end of the day and feel stuck. But God will meet us in that place. We will look each other in the eyes and remind each other that this is God’s work. It’s His calling on our lives and His heart for adoption. We cannot do this in our own strength.

I’m here to say that we didn’t pursue adoption because it sounded fun, or to be heroic, or to make a statement. We went down this long road because at the core of the Gospel is a Father’s heart for orphaned souls. God sought me before I ever knew He was coming for me. He knew my name, my birth, my whole life, my sin and the sin of my ancestors, and yet, He still ran to me in His perfect timing. He showered His grace upon me and said, “You’re mine. I died for you. I purchased you. I’ve adopted you as my own and no matter what you do I’m never going to leave you…ever.” (click here to read more)

On parenting / mothering: Christian Men and Their Godly Moms by Tim Challies

It may surprise us, though, to learn how many of our Christian heroes were shaped by the attentiveness and godliness of their mothers. Even though they may have had fathers who were present, involved, and godly, still they would insist that their primary spiritual influencer had been their mother. One of history’s greatest preachers would say with affection, “I am sure that, in my early youth, no teaching ever made such an impression upon my mind as the instruction of my mother,” while one of its most committed evangelists would say, “I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians in England.” An eminent theologian would state, “To our mother, my brother and myself, under God, owe absolutely everything.” A great defender of the faith would write about an overwhelming moment of doubt, then relate how he found deliverance: “My mother [spoke to me] in those dark hours when the lamp burned dim, when I thought that faith was gone and shipwreck had been made of my soul. ‘Christ,’ she used to say, ‘keeps firmer hold on us than we keep on him’.” (click here to read more)

On grace and anxiety: Everything Is Going to be Okay by Matt Moore

I’m sure most of us are well acquainted with Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things are working together for good.” The following verse defines for us exactly what this “good” is: “for those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29; emphasis mine). God works all things, including hard and painful things, together to make us like Christ—which is the greatest kindness he can do for us. Enjoying and reflecting the glory of Jesus is the ultimate purpose for which we were created. And as God fulfills this purpose in part through the refining fires of trials, our joy in him and love for him soar increasingly higher. We will always come out on the other side of difficult circumstances looking more like Christ and enjoying him more fully.

However, though I believe I will be okay when I exit trials, I do sometimes worry about how I will fare in the midst of them. I fear my joy and peace may completely dry up as I endure whatever painful situations lie ahead in my future. Will I have the emotional fortitude to not crumble under their weight? Will my soul be strong enough to enjoy and worship God amidst the suffering? Will God be good to me in the trials as he allows their fires to refine me? These are the questions I ask myself—the ones that cause me the most anxiety. (click here to read more)

On the little things in life: The Surprising Power of Little Things by Matt Rogers

The influence of little things can cause me to hyper-focus on every detail, thinking that if I can somehow control everything about my life then I can move toward my predetermined end. But, it doesn’t take long to realize the futility of this approach.

I can’t control my life—and neither can you. People do all sorts of things we can’t control. Life throws us curves we’d never anticipate. It’s just the way things are. Sometimes these little things work in our favor—propelling us further, faster than we once thought possible. Sometimes the little things work against us—derailing our plans before we ever begin. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 04.15.15 (on: fear, sexuality, children and church, and more)

Here is a collection of links to good reads gathered over this past week:

Help Me Face Today by Amanda Knoke http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/help-me-face-today

What did the temptation to fear look like for the One who identified with us in every way, yet was without sin? With the cross before him and complete separation from his Father, how was Jesus able to avoid sinful fear? He cried out to his Father.

On sexuality: The Dead End of Sexual Sin by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-dead-end-of-sexual-sin

Conversion brought with it a train wreck of contradictory feelings, ranging from liberty to shame. Conversion also left me confused. While it was clear that God forbade sex outside of biblical marriage, it was not clear to me what I should do with the complex matrix of desires and attractions, sensibilities and senses of self that churned within and still defined me.

On evangelism: Remembering Who You Were by Mike Leake http://www.mikeleake.net/2015/04/remembering-who-you-were.html

Rather than throwing stones at the world and distancing himself from the emptiness, Newton went back to where he once was. He put himself in the place of the lost person and allowed himself to feel the weight and burden of this lostness again. He did this so he could appeal to them to come to Christ and find rest.

On children and the church experience: Helping Children Benefit from the Sermon by Erik Raymond http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/erikraymond/2015/03/31/helping-kids-to-benefit-from-the-sermon/

Read the Passage as a family before Sunday morning. This is easy and so very important. They hear the passage read by Dad or Mom and see your commitment to the Word of God. This goes further than you can imagine.

On the purpose of church buildings: Church Buildings Should Serve People, Not Vice Versa by Karl Vaters http://newsmallchurch.com/church-building-should-serve-people/

It’s because we have a mission to love God and serve the people in our community. That’s what using our building to fulfill our mission looks like for our church. It will look different for your church and your community. But maybe what we’ve done can inspire other churches to imagine what putting people ahead of their building might look like for them.