Good Reads 08.10.17 (on: Bible reading, friendships, giving, and more!)

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

On family Bible reading: Three Surprising Ways Bible Reading With My Kids Has Changed Me by Jon Nielson

I have found that since reading the Bible regularly with my children, I am finding deep delight in discipling them. I am loving the sweet conversations with them about the the things of God, as they form questions and wrestle through theological thoughts. I love watching them discover new and beautiful things about God, his grace, and his glorious redemption of sinners. There is a new dimension of friendship opening up, a spiritual friendship between my kids and I, and I pray this will continue to grow and flourish as they get older. (click here to read more)

On men and friendships: Guys Need Bros: Five Ways to Find Male Friendships by Bryan Stoudt

A few years after this uncomfortable conversation, a respected Christian author challenged us to form close male friendships in a men-only session at a marriage conference. At the time, I knew nothing about the risks isolation posed. Physically, I felt great. But then he drew a connection between our friendships with other men and our marriages.

Now he had my attention.

Letting our friendships with other men fade, he warned, turns our wives into unintentional idols where they become our only true confidante and friend. This is a role God never intended them to fill, and places a tremendous amount of stress on our marriages. (click here to read more)

On giving as a spiritual gift: Giving Might Be the Most Neglected Spiritual Gift by Rand Alcorn

It’s increasingly common for Christians in accountability groups to ask one another the tough questions: “Have you been spending time in the Word?” “Are you living in sexual purity?” or “Have you been sharing your faith?” But how often do we ask, “Are you winning the battle against materialism?” or “How are you doing with your giving?”

When it comes to giving, many churches operate under a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. We lack communication, accountability, and modeling. It’s as if we have an unspoken agreement: I won’t talk about it if you won’t, so we can continue living as we are.

Think about it. If a young person wants to learn how to teach, pray, or lead a group, the church provides many examples to learn from. But how does a young Christian learn to give? Where can he or she go to see what giving looks like in the life of a believer captivated by Christ? Why are we surprised when, seeing no alternative examples, our young people take their cues from a materialistic society? (click here to read more)

Finally… A video clip of John Piper talking about how through Jesus we have freedom from condemnation and from the wrath of God. (click here to view)

Good Reads 03.29.17 (on: God’s bigness, simple joys, and more!)

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

On prayer: In a video presentation, Donald Whitney explains how to have a deeper and more meaningful prayer life–How Can I Improve My Prayer Life (click here to view)

On joy in everyday life: Taking Back Dinner Time by Katie Hughes

Anyhow, it occurred to me randomly one night that I was never truly in the moment. I think I was in the middle of bathing a kid and she was being cute and I was completely unaffected by it. Joy had left all of those things. I only had eyes for bedtime, my one true love. But really that means I only had eyes for my selfishness, because bedtime means me-time.

I find it very difficult to be present in the mundane stuff. Are you with me, parents?? …

But an older, wiser friend of mine once told me that not everyone has to enjoy the same types of things, but God does intend for you to find joy in the life He’s given you. If that’s lacking, you should go looking for it. What do you enjoy, Katie? (click here to read more)

On the bigness of God even in the little things: Drowning in a Drop of Water by Jon Bloom

These realities should have us trembling when we remember how Jesus didn’t drown. The Incarnate Creator Word (John 1:3) was in such comprehensive command of the math and the molecules that they were literally “in subjection under his feet” as he walked upon a sea (John 1:14; Matthew 14:25; Hebrews 2:8; John 6:1) — a sea ironically renamed after the reigning Roman emperor. This molecular miracle was metaphorical, for the sea would never so acknowledge Tiberias’s lordship. And when Tiberias’s government executed Jesus, the imperially ordered death also prostrated itself under the feet of the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8; 15:20, 27). (click here to read more)

The story of how a jihadi fighter became a Christian: The Jihadi Who Turned to Jesus by Eiad Abdullatif

Exactly why he sought solace in Christianity, rather than a more mainstream version of Islam, no one can quite explain. Reading the Bible, Mr. Mohammad claimed, made him calmer than reading the Quran. The churches he attended, Mr. Mohammad said, made him feel more welcome than the neighborhood mosques. In his personal view, Christian prayers were more generous than Muslim ones. (click here to read more)

On the joy of Bible reading: Treat Yourself to the Voice of God by David Mathis

I’ve found it revolutionary over the years to recognize and own daily “time alone with God” as an opportunity to treat myself. God’s offer to us to hear his voice is not a call to austerity, but the invitation of Isaiah 55:1, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters.”

Consider what small supplemental steps you can take to cultivate eagerness and receptiveness to God’s word — to develop the mentality that a regular season of Bible intake and prayer is a joy to anticipate, a genuine chance to treat yourself in the best of senses. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 02.08.17 (on: God in the mundane, community, and more!)

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

On embracing God in the mundane aspects of life: To Be a Diaper Changer by Nick Batzig

A friend once told me the story of a Christian garbage man whose hands were worn from his work. Someone once asked him about his callused and blackened hands. The man responded, “I’m thankful for these hands because they serve as a reminder to me that I believe that I have been called to do the work that I do and that I can pick up garbage to the glory of God.” This is what a “change the world” attitude misses. It fails to embrace Paul’s admonition, “Whatever we do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17).

To be a diaper changer to the glory of God is a glorious thing. Jesus said, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10). Among the many things that I regret in the early years of marriage is that I was far to eager too be out with people “doing ministry” and was not home enough helping my wife change diapers and put the kids to bed. I say this without any hesitation whatsoever: Any fruit I have in ministry is directly correlated to my wife’s faithfulness in doing what is least to the glory of God. (click here to read more)

On God’s kingdom and the home: How to Create a Kingdom Culture in Your Home by Steve Dewitt

Use The Deuteronomy Drip Principle. Most of us don’t feel qualified to carry on an hour-long conversation on justification or missions in Africa. What Deuteronomy encourages is the drip principle. Drip. Drip. Drip. Everywhere you go, whenever possible, drip spiritual content into your daily conversations. Pray. Make God and God-talk as easy and normal as Cubs fans talk about the Cubs, and even more. Regularly asking each other questions that get to spiritual conversation is important. Here are some examples: (click here to read more)

On Bible reading: Six Ways to Kickstart Your Devotional Life by Stephen Altrogge

All the practical tips in the world won’t make a lick of difference unless God moves mightily on your heart. God cannot be controlled. He is not a personal genie who can be summoned on command. He cannot be summarized or contained in a neat formula. He is God, and he moves where he wishes when he wishes.

But, he promises to respond to our humble requests. He is a good father who loves to give good gifts to his children. In Luke 11:13 Jesus said: If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

God loves to give the Holy Spirit to us, but we have to ask! I love to give my children good things, but I want them to ask, and God is the same way. He loves to pour out blessings on those who humbly come to him. He’s not a spiritual Scrooge, holding tight to the Spirit. (click here to read more)

On developing Christian community: Community Requires Vulnerability by Christine Hoover

What I didn’t yet realize was that community isn’t something that comes to us; it’s something that we go toward. We make choices that either invite community or hinder the very thing we long for. The reasons I struggled with friendship were many: I lacked initiative, I had very specific parameters placed around what type of friend I wanted and how they would relate to me, and I used time constraints as an excuse. But primary among them was that I chose not to take the risk and be vulnerable with other women. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 01.18.17 (on: the cost of following Jesus, parenting, and more!)

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

On community and the cost of following Jesus: Church, This is a Call for Familial Friendship by Christine Hoover

We certainly can’t lay out the benefits without the costs for the unconverted, but perhaps even more so we must be careful about this within the church. We must talk about the cost of following Christ with one another. What does the gospel cost you, unmarried Christian? What does the gospel cost you, Christian businessman? What does the gospel cost you, Christian mother pregnant with a baby the doctors tell you to abort? What does the gospel cost you, faithful pastor? What about you, college student studying at a public university antagonistic to faith? What does the gospel cost you, widow or widower? What does it cost you, dear reader? (click here to read more)

On reading the Bible: Why Do We Give Up on Bible Reading? by Bryce Young

What do you do when Bible reading produces no obvious application — when you walk away from your Bible reading with no fantastic insights, no deep revelations, or even any profound experience of awe or wonder? This happens more often than any of us would like to admit. It unnerves us. I just heard from God, and nothing seems different.

What do you do when your Bible reading seems insignificant or irrelevant? (click here to read more)

On praying effectively: How to Get Your Prayers to Work by H. B. Charles Jr.

Hypocrites pray! But their prayers are a performance for other people, not worship to God. They do it to be seen by men. And when other see them praying, they got want they wanted. God does not owe them anything! Your prayers won’t work if you heart is more concerned with what man thinks about you, rather than what God knows about you.

Jesus commands, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who sees in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:6). The secret to prayer is secret prayer. Secret prayer does not mean you should not pray corporately or publicly. It means that you must guard your sinful heart from praying to the wrong audience! (click here to read more)

On parenting: Be a Parent Worthy of Honor by Tim Challies

First, make your own godliness your foremost concern. As parents, there is the tendency to expect more from our children than we expect from ourselves. We have great expectations for them but only modest expectations for ourselves. A life of honor before others begins with a life of honor before God. As we pursue God, we will long to be who he wants us to be, to put on all the noble characteristics associated with godliness and to put off all the ugly characteristics associated with ungodliness. We will want to behave how God means for us to behave, to put aside any actions that are unfitting for a Christian while emphasizing all those actions that are worthy of a Christian. In these ways we will model mature character and behavior, extending and displaying love to our children, even when they exasperate us or push us to the brink of despair. We will live with a clear conscience before God, man, and our own children. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 01.03.17 (on: Bible reading, praying for your children, and more!)

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

On Bible reading: 5 Ways Daily Bible Reading Impacts Your Life by Kelly Needham

Reading the Bible is like stepping into God’s house. Everything is there because He desires for it to be there. If it is in the Word of God, which lasts forever, then it must be important to Him. As I read Leviticus, I am confronted with the reality that there is a whole book dedicated to different types of sin and their corresponding offerings. If it was important to God for this to be in His Word, I must conclude that our sin really, really, really bothers Him and that all sin, no matter how small, must be paid for.

The passages in the Bible that are the most confusing and most surprising actually tell me a lot about God. Instead of skipping or avoiding things you don’t understand, ask God why that particular passage is important to Him. Ask what it tells you about His character. Grow to love Him for who He is, not who you want Him to be. (click here to read more)

On New Year’s goals: 23 Realistic Goals for 2017 by Jeremy Howard

13. Pray over your children.
Have you ever taken a moment to walk into your child’s room while she was sleeping and pray for her? If you have, you know how special that is. Do it more often. Pray that your child(ren) will be filled with wisdom from above. If your children are older — or even out of the house — they need your prayers even more. (click here to read more)

On church and the decisions you make in life: Do You Make Life Decisions with Your Church in Mind by Joshua Hedger

Do you consider the church in the decisions of your life? Do you ask yourself how your job change could affect your church? Do you consider how your moving would impact the work of God through your church in your community? Do you seek insight into how your decision to leave or stay at your local church would affect the advancement of the gospel?

Chances are, like so many of us so many times, you don’t think about the church very much in these decisions. “If decision A was better for me, then it must be the right decision.” I didn’t pay much attention to how that decision impacted the rest of the church. But what we see in Paul’s thought process here was a communal and missional mindset in his decision process. He thought about how his decision would affect the community of Christians (the church) and the mission (the advancement of the gospel). (click here to read more)

On “Amazing Grace” and the new year: God Has Brought Me Safe Thus Far by Tony Reinke

At the start of every year, Newton set aside a day to reflect on life. He was at one time a hardened sailor in the slave trade. He was broken and humbled and redeemed. And he was aware of the ongoing grace upholding his life. And his future was completely in the hands of God’s mercy, too. Like David, Newton saw grace in 3D — past, present, and future. (click here to read more)

 

Good Reads 09.07.16 (on: marriage, God’s loving discipline, and more!)

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

On growing your marriage: Your Marriage Is Either Growing or It Isn’t by Melissa Edgington

But, I think after seventeen years I have finally begun to learn that no marriage will grow deep and strong unless we are both firmly planted in God’s word, letting the words of life sustain us as individuals and as a couple. I am not a “good” wife. But, when I turn to Jesus and ask Him to make me the kind of wife He wants me to be, when I ask Him to give us a marriage that is a brilliant picture of His love, then I start seeing that our roots can grow deeper that I ever thought possible. Our little marriage sapling can grow as tall and as wide as God’s will allows, if only we rely on Him in our weakness and let Him be the good and faithful gardener that He has proven Himself to be. (click here to read more)

On Bible reading and devotional life: Simple Ways to Spark a Lukewarm Devotional Life by Tim Challies

The phenomenon of daily, private devotions is relatively new to church history and there is something to be said for reading the Bible in community, perhaps as a married couple or as a group of friends. If you are struggling to read the Bible, why not allow yourself to feed off the habits and self-discipline of someone else? Ask your husband or wife if you can join in their devotions or ask your friends if you can get together with them to read and to pray. The biblical mandate is not to have a daily, personal quiet time, but to be steadily, consistently taking in the Word. (click here to read more)

On encouragement (especially for men) to get help fighting against porn in their lives: Why Men Don’t Get Help in Their Battle with Pornography by Brian Liechty

You see, even though Jesus was the perfect man, He didn’t suffer like one. Instead He suffered as one who was unclean. He faced punishment as if He had rejected God. He died like an outsider. And He did these things to remove our shame! In other words, Jesus became as an unclean, unacceptable, outcast so that we could become clean and accepted and welcome before God!!!

When men start to realize and believe that God has removed their shame in Christ it changes the way they face their struggle with pornography.  It leads them out of the darkness and into the light. It moves them from concealing their sin to confessing their sin. It challenges them to get the help they need instead of being paralyzed by their fears. (click here to read more)

On God’s discipline of those he loves: When God Graciously Makes You Miserable by Matt Moore

God laid a heavy hand on David because of his sin, leaving him miserable and desperate for relief. Why? Was it because God is a short fused tyrant who delights in inflicting pain on his creatures, as many critics of the Christian faith suppose? No—it was because “the Lord disciplines the one he loves” (Hebrews 12:6). It was not God’s hatred that descended upon David; it was God’s love. Knowing the destructive nature of sin, God refused to allow David to continue down a path that would lead to either great temporal suffering (at best) or even eternal demise (at worst). When he saw his beloved child veering away from the Springs of Eternal Life and sipping the poison of broken cisterns (Jeremiah 2:13) instead, he unleashed his disciplinary love to jolt his slumbering son awake—and it worked. (click here to read more)

The Lion Has Roared (a meditation)

The lion has roared—so who isn’t frightened? The Sovereign Lord has spoken—so who can refuse to proclaim his message? ~ Amos 3:8

Part of the Christian faith is the belief that there is power in God’s word. When he speaks, things happen. This idea saturates the Bible from the opening chapters when God speaks creation into existence to the closing chapters where Jesus defeats the enemies of his people with the words of his mouth.

Through Isaiah, God said that his word will accomplish all that he intends and will not return empty (Isaiah 55:11). In Ezekiel 37, the prophetic message brings dry bones back to life. Paul wrote that all scripture was breathed out or inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16). Hebrews 4:12 says that God’s word is “alive and powerful,” cutting into the very depths of a person. Peter wrote that the word of the gospel causes new, everlasting life (1 Peter 1:23-25).

When we truly believe this, it changes how we view the Bible. When we see the great power behind God’s word, we will:

1. Long to read it. Our hearts will seek out fellowship with God, the message that comes from his word. We will make it a part of our lives, longing to know the story of Jesus, and praying for the change that it creates in us. Through the word’s powerful work driven by the Holy Spirit within, we will experience the renewing of our hearts and minds to make us more like Jesus.

2. Long to hear it taught. Preaching and teaching have been a vital part of church life from the beginning. Paul told Timothy to give careful attention to the corporate reading of the word and then also to preach it (1 Timothy 4:13, 2 Timothy 4:2). Yes, the Spirit leads us in a deeper understanding of scripture each time we read it; but having someone help to guide us, remind us, and give us accountability in our understanding is also of great importance.

3. Long to share it. In the quote above, Amos envisioned God speaking being like the roar of a lion. It should cause people to stand up and take notice. But if God has so spoken, then surely we must also share what he has said. This was the experience of Peter and John. With the religious leaders of their day threatening them and telling them not to talk about Jesus, they replied, “We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). So it should be with us.

God’s word changes his people. Experiencing its power will change how we view it and what we do with it.

This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.