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)

Sunday 01.22.17 (the church and her membership)

This Sunday we’ll continue our journey through Titus with a look at 2:1-10, The Church and Her Membership–what does it mean to belong to the community of faith? Then we’ll return to our Attributes of God study in the evening. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@230pm Adrian Manor Nursing Home service
@6pm Attributes of God study in church library

Sermon Notes
The Church and Her Membership ~ Titus 2:1-10

  • Church leaders, teach the gospel and model godly living (2:1, 7-8)
  • Older men and women, seek for spiritual maturity and be an example to the younger members (2:2-8)
  • Younger men and women, seek for spiritual maturity and follow the examples of the older members (2:4-6)
  • Working members, be an example of godliness to those you work for and with (2:9-10)

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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)

We Need Others (a daily proverb)

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

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. ~Proverbs 18:1

There are some times in life where we need to get alone. We need to spend time just between ourselves and God, in prayer or in reading his word. We have times where we need to think and ponder in a quiet place.

But if we live in the habit of isolation, then we neglect the great reality: We need others. We need a community of people around us.

When God first created mankind, he started with Adam as the only human. Parading the animals before him, none was found to be a suitable companion to the lone man. Against this reality, God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone.”

Adam didn’t suffer from a lack of being around other creatures. He was, however, isolated as a human being.

When we think of Jesus saving us from our sins, we often couch it in terms of a personal relationships with Jesus. This certainly is an aspect of it. We will not be saved from our sins because of our parents’, grandparents’, friends’, or spouse’s relationship with God. We need to know Jesus ourselves. We each need to repent of our own sins and place our own faith in Christ as Savior.

But when Jesus saves us, he does not leave us isolated in that “personal relationship.” No, he saves us to be a part of a people (Titus 2:14)—his people.

The proverb above considers this from the angle of wisdom and sound judgment. When we isolate ourselves, we have no one else to ask and no one to challenge our thought process. We essentially, then, set ourselves up to be our own god. We see our own knowledge and understanding as absolute, and don’t see the need to grow from the input of others.

But this is a fool’s errand as a wise person realizes their need for wise counsel from others. So, let us be those who realize that we need others in our lives, and let us embrace the community that God intends us to be.

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Good Reads 01.11.17 (on: resolutions, social media, and more!)

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

On resolutions: One Thing Worth Everything by Jon Bloom

And since we are so finite, we are forced to choose only a few serious pursuits. That means a resolution is costly, because it demands a portion of our most valuable assets: love (devotion) and time. It requires us to say no to many other enjoyable things in order to say a tenacious yes to a joy and prize we consider superior to others.

The necessary, revealing, and costly nature of resolutions makes them dangerous. For not all strenuous, time-and-attention-demanding, and promising achievements are ultimately worth doing or having. Some promises turn out to be empty. Some impressive feats are a waste of life. (click here to read more)

On discipleship and relationships: How to Disciple New Believers in Marriage and Family Relationships by Todd Jamison

It was around this time I realized what disciple-making should encompass and how messy it can be. It’s natural for us to long for formulas. But implementing discipleship via fill-in-the-blank materials devoid of genuine relationships had proven ineffective. Those materials conveniently allowed me to complete statistical reports, but they didn’t move me in the direction of making disciples who obeyed everything Jesus commanded. As an old-timer, I’ve seen programs come and go, but certain things remain unchanged in the primary task to which we are called. (click here to read more)

On our need for community: Community Keeps You from Drifting by David McLemore

It should not surprise us, then, that it is the same when it comes to God. We understand God best when we are in community with other people. As we sit in a circle and talk about God from a text from the Bible, we begin to see the fullness of who he is. That aspect of him will stand out to one, another aspect to someone else. As we make our way around the circle we begin to lose our truncated view of God and begin to see him in his fullness. We need each other to see more of God. (click here to read more)

On life and social media: Life Is Not Lived Online by Barnabas Piper

The more we take our lives online the more we lose to a reality that is not ours. It is a sacrifice, a giving of ourselves to others who care little for us and are merely consumers. We become prisoners of comparison, constantly comparing our moments to others’ rather than simply appreciating them. We are bound by a weird sense of obligation to engage and respond to others’ moments or thoughts in just the right manner so that we are seen in the tight light – to express our sorrow at their grief or to like their photo quickly after it is posted. We strive for a persona, a “real” persona in an environment that is not reality. We are not being false (at least not most of us) and neither is social media fake – it simply lacks the multi-dimensional richness of life. (click here to read more)

 

The Joy of the City (a daily proverb)

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

When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness. By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is overthrown. ~Proverbs 11:10-11

Character matters. That is one of the big lessons we find again and again in the Bible. For God’s people, the number one qualification for leadership isn’t charisma, education, vision, or skill, but character. This is true in the home, the church, the city, and the nation.

Throughout the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, we see a repeated pattern. When the unrighteous are in power or bend the ear of the king, the people and the land suffers. When the righteous are in power or have the ear of the king, the people and the land prosper.

In his proverb, Solomon related this truth to cities. The wicked ultimately care most about themselves. They will make false promises, manipulate, lie, and use in order to exalt self and maintain their prominence. The righteous care about things like justice, love of neighbor, and the plight of the poor, the orphaned, the widow, and the sojourners. The righteous seek not to exalt self but to bring about the best situation for others.

This is what God calls his people to. As Jesus said: We are to love God and love neighbor. Ultimately, we cannot do one without the other.

So, if we have found new life in Christ, we should heed his call to love. We might not all have the power or influence of a king or a president, but we can be a positive force in the lives of those living next door to us. The more we love others, the greater benefit our communities receive, and that brings joy to our communities.

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Good Reads 04.27.16 (on: faith during uncertainty, Harriet Tubman, and more!)

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

On facing uncertainties and difficulties with faith: No Matter What Happens by Emily Jensen

Although I have deep concern for the hearts and lives of those around me, ultimately, there is comfort in knowing that external circumstances won’t impact the security of my own salvation. When I don’t have to defend my own stance before God, I can focus on pouring out love to others, remaining calm in difficult storms. I don’t have to fear those who can kill the body (or the dream or the bank account), because the one who controls both the soul and the body says my destiny is secure. (click here to read more)

On the need for church community: Isolation from the Church is Dangerous by Josh Buice

We must learn to see the church as a blessing from God rather than an inconvenience.  We must never look at the church as a violation to our spiritual privacy fence.  We were never called to walk the journey of the Christian life alone.  Surround yourself with gospel preaching, gospel singing, and gospel friends who will be honest with you.  When the church is honest with you, receive it.  Take heed so that you will not fall (1 Cor. 10:12).  We all need the church. (click here to read more)

On Harriet Tubman (who will replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill): 9 Things You Should Know about Harriet Tubman by Joe Carter

The abolitionist Thomas Garrett once said about Tubman, “I never met with any person, of any color, who had more confidence in the voice of God, as spoken direct to her soul. She frequently told me that she talked with God, and he talked to her every day of her life . . . she said she never ventured only where God sent her, and her faith in the Supreme Power was truly great.” (click here to read more)

On the new book Visual Theology: 5 Ways to Use Visual Theology by Tim Challies

Visual Theology is a book that offers systematic teaching on how to live the Christian life. There are many excellent resources that are meant for new believers or for believers eager to spur on their growth in knowledge and holiness. The majority of the resources are essentially short systematic theologies and, while systematic theology is good and crucial, I wanted to focus instead on systematic Christian living. (click here to read more)

On curiosity and eternity: What Can We Take to Heaven by Barnabas Piper

True curiosity is the pursuit of truth, the exploration of God’s creation and will for the world. In this way curiosity in this life is a launch pad for the next. Everything we learn of God, every soul we impact, every aspect of culture we impact for good, everything we create for His glory is preparing us for heaven and preparing this world to be the new earth. We cannot redeem this fallen world, only Jesus can and will do that. But we bear God’s image and are His emissaries. That means that we can leave bits and pieces of His image all over this world, and curiosity is how we do that. What is more, our own relationship with Him and knowledge of Him is enriched and enlarged, and this goes with us too. We don’t start over when we die; we take our knowledge and love and relationship with us. (click here to read more)