Good Reads 02.23.18 (on: marriage, Billy Graham, and more!)

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

Two On Billy Graham in light of his passing:

Three Lessons from the Extraordinary Life of Billy Graham by Steven Lawson

The centrality of prayer: As an evangelist, Mr. Graham was a dedicated man of prayer. He was on his knees long before he ever reached the pulpit. Every time I was ever around him, he was praying. He continually asked others to pray for him or with him. If a person asked how they could best help the crusades, Billy always said the same thing: “Pray.”

His personal devotion to prayer left a huge impression on me. Even in small things, his commitment to prayer shined brightly. I recall that the posters advertising the crusades did not have a picture of him preaching, but rather of him praying. It’s not coincidental that the life of the most impactful evangelist of our generation was first and foremost a life of prayer. (click here to read more)

A Tribute to Billy Graham by Mark Terry

Fidelity to the Bible. Early in his ministry Billy Graham began to doubt the reliability of God’s Word, but one night he expressed his doubts to God and received assurance from the Lord. In my mind’s eye I can still see him with the Bible in his left hand and gesturing with his right, declaring “the Bible says.” In that he set an example for all preachers to follow.

Passion for Souls. Billy Graham understood his calling—to serve as an evangelist. Through his life many offered him positions in institutions or encouraged him to run for political office. Through it all he remained focused on his calling, preaching the gospel and inviting people to profess faith in Christ. Some estimate that he preached the gospel to two billion people. Amazing! (click here to read more)

On fighting against sin: The Battle Against Sin and Self by Kaitlyn Wright

Impatience with my children is the reoccurring sin that has been at the forefront of my mind and heart. Every Sunday, I am resolved to do better and not get frustrated with them over their constant demands and lack of appreciation. But, come Monday morning at about 7:30 (they usually awake at 7:15), I’m already feeling the frustration of, ‘How dare they interrupt ME from what I WANT to be doing?!’

After a long period of recognition that this attitude is wrong, yet continually giving in to the frustration, the Lord began working in me to act. Through conversations with friends, my husband, and just being overwhelmed by conviction through God’s Word and the preached truth, I reached a point of brokenness. I realized I was FED UP with this sin, and I needed God’s help to wage war against it to kill it. (click here to read more)

On marriage: 12 Major Lessons God Has Taught Me in 38 Years of Marriage by Mark Altrogge

Resolve conflicts quickly and keep short accounts

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. EPH 4.26-27

Try to resolve conflicts before going to bed. If possible, don’t let them linger. You may need a few minutes to calm down, but try to work things out the same day. When we let anger linger over time it gives the devil the opportunity to lie to us, to foster bitterness, etc.

Sometimes it’s hard and takes a long time to discuss something and try to resolve it the same day, but try to. Early in our marriage someone said, “Keep short accounts.” Don’t let anger linger. Along those lines… (click here to read more)

Good Reads 02.15.18 (on: resolutions, respect, and more!)

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

On the forgiveness of sin: White as Snow, Though My Sins Were as Scarlet! by Tim Counts

In Isaiah chapter 1, the LORD of Israel has just laid out a court case against his people. They are guilty. He does not even want their sacrifices anymore, because going through the motions without hearts that love God–as seen in their actions–is detestable to him (Isaiah 1:11-17). So, what will it cost them to receive forgiveness? If verse 18 which promises purity like snow is not enough, the answer becomes crystal clear near the end of the prophecy: “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!…Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food” (Isaiah 55:1-2). The holy God offers sinners a free banquet–and promises to satisfy them in himself. (click here to read more)

On manhood: How to Teach Boys to Respect Women by Russell Moore

First, fathers and male teachers, especially, can highlight the ways they learn from and are sharpened by godly, strong women—from the biblical examples of such leaders as Ruth and Priscilla and Lydia and our Lord’s mother Mary to our more immediate mothers- and sisters-in-Christ. If you are married, men, pay attention and give respect to the counsel of your wife. If you are a pastor, do not patronize women in your sermon illustrations or introductions. Highlight the creation and eschaton callings of women bound up in our common inheritance.

At the same time, emphasize the horror of a man mistreating women. Do not let the boys and young men around you ever, even for a millisecond, see you waving away or justifying sexual predation, misogynistic comments, or violence against women by a sports figure because he plays for your team or a politician because he belongs to your party or an entertainer because he makes you laugh. Your hypocrisy cannot only point the next generation away from Jesus, but may also point them toward the way of predation. (click here to read more)

On our plans failing: When Your New Year’s Resolutions Have Flown Out the Window by Stacey Reaoch

When our plans go awry it can be easy to spiral into complaining and self-pity. I’ve definitely battled that temptation the past week. But more importantly, God is teaching me to hold my resolutions with an open hand, realizing He is working in the midst of the daily trials that come my way. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience. Maybe you feel like you’ve already failed in keeping up with your Bible reading, or had too many cookies at bedtime. Here are a few things I’m learning in the midst of faltering resolutions… (click here to read more)

On God saying “no” to our prayer requests: When God Says ‘No’ by Melissa Kruger

I paused and really considered this verse for perhaps the first time. Jesus—always perfect, always righteous—offered up prayers and supplications. He cried out with tears. He was heard!

And, the answer he was given? No.

It doesn’t seem to make sense. God heard Jesus’s cries and tears. He heard his beloved, perfectly obedient Son. Yet Jesus still suffered and died. He wasn’t rescued from the cross. And God does not always rescue us from the trials we face.

When God says no, we often wonder if we’ve got a bad connection: “Can you hear me?” “Can you hear me now?” This passage reminds us that God hears our prayers. In Christ, we’re heard because we share in his righteousness. God’s not deaf to our cries, pleading, and longing. But, sometimes, for reasons that we may not understand, his good purpose is to say no. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 02.08.18 (on: joy, midlife crisis, and more!)

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

On praying and pastoring: How to Pray for Your Pastor by Todd Benkert

As a pastor, one of the greatest encouragements is to hear the words “I’m praying for you.” Truly, one of the great blessings of being a pastor is knowing that prayers are being lifted up on your behalf. Often, people ask how they can be praying for me. While there are particular needs that I have from time to time, here are some prayers for pastors that are always in season… (click here to read more)

On joy: I Am Eeyore by Adam Kareus

My mom nicknamed me Eeyore. She thought it truly expressed my soul. By nature, I have always been melancholy. Where others might reside on a baseline of 5 on the joy scale I was always resting at 2. My life has been good. It is not circumstances that have me down. Rather it is part of my personality. I experience joy and happiness, it just seems to be smaller peaks of happiness than others. Something pretty extraordinary has to happen for me to experience true joy. And because of that, I have looked upon others who seem to be happy in small stuff and it is hard not to wish to be more like them.

But that might explain my fanatical feeling toward God. For it was from Him and Him alone that I have found true lasting joy. This is joy uplifts all that I do so that I can now find joy in the most mundane task or everyday circumstance. In fact, this joy transforms my world in that circumstances aren’t the main thing that determines what I feel, rather what determines it is who I am in God’s eyes. (click here to read more)

On guilt: Christ Turns the Tide of Guilt by Amy Mantravadi

For the redeemed, the arms of the Lord are wings of protection in which they feel utterly at peace. For the sinner, there is only the arm of judgment spoke of by the prophets. They are not children wrapped in a familial embrace, but “sinners in the hands of an angry God”, to quote Jonathan Edwards. Overwhelming guilt and absence of trust: this is why the prisoner of the sinful nature takes no comfort in the phrase, “I am not my own”. (click here to read more)

On growing older: Why I Thank God for My Painful Midlife Crisis by Akos Balogh

If the root of midlife struggles is a wrong interpretation of life, then we are faced with a choice: will we let the theology of Scripture exegete and interpret our life, or let life reinterpret our theology?

In other words, will I let my midlife pain overtly shape my view of Godleading to doubt and uncertainty in Him? Or will I let Scripture interpret my painleading me to my suffering Saviour, who knows my distress?

The choice is clear.

Looking back, I had let a secularised view of reality frame my experience of midlifewhich is why I felt so fearful and starved for meaning.

But a biblical view of reality provides a different interpretation, a different narrative: one that gives meaning, hope, and joy. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 01.25.18 (on: purpose, the Holy Spirit, and more!)

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

On hope, fear, and the future: Most of Life Is Waiting by Jani Ortlund

Hold your fears loosely. Bring them to God and offer them to him with open hands, asking him to replace your fears with hope. Let go of your fears and hold on to him. As we leave our fears with him, he will quiet us by his love (Zephaniah 3:17), helping us to ask ourselves, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Psalm 43:5).

And what does that hope look like? It looks as satisfying and secure as God himself, because real hope is a person. Paul tells us in Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” When we hold on to the God of hope, what we have then is not a psychological uplift, but God himself as our ally for every doubt and danger. (click here to read more)

On giving: How Much Money Am I Supposed to Give Away by Tim Challies

When I say we are to give enough that it matters, I mean that we should give enough that it makes a difference to our lives, to our lifestyles. Erwin Lutzer says it well: “Those who give much without sacrifice are reckoned as having given little.” We are meant to give enough that there are things we cannot do and cannot have because of our dedication to the Lord’s work. Let me be clear that I do not mean that we should do without food or we should do without paying our bills. The sacrifice is to be ours and not the bank’s or the landlord’s. Giving “as he may prosper” is not calling us to give beyond the ways the Lord has prospered us. There are theological traditions that insist that going into debt in order to “plant a seed” will ensure God’s provision in return. God may choose to do that, but wisdom dictates that we ensure that we are able to pay our bills and feed our children. We are to be generous, but we are to be wise as well. (click here to read more)

On the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit Is not an It by Jared Wilson

The Holy Spirit cannot be pumped and scooped. He cannot be slung around, gathered up, or dispensed. He’s not pixie dust. In this sense, there is no such thing as the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is not a thing at all, but the very presence of the personal God himself—with us, in us, and around us.

Yes, the Holy Spirit’s power is something we really do experience, really do have access to, really can be more aware of or less—that is what this entire book is about, after all—but we never, in any sense whatsoever, can think of ourselves as controlling the Holy Spirit. You may as well try controlling ten thousand hurricanes at once. “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). (click here to read more)

On purpose: The Surprising Truth About Finding Your Purpose by Mark Altrogge

You know what I love about this verse? It doesn’t talk about me finding MY purpose for my life. It talks about the Lord fulfilling HIS purpose for my life. This is great news. The Lord has a purpose for every single person who has believed in Jesus and called upon him to save them. God isn’t wondering what to do with me; he knows exactly what he is going to do. He has plans for the life of every one of his children. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 01.18.18 (on anger, heaven, and more!)

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

On heaven’s impact on life today: 3 Things Heaven Changes by Jared Wilson

Many of us are tempted to simply treat our days like punching a clock for that paycheck, something to keep us warm and well-fed. If we dare to dream big, we think along the lines of the American Dream, of investing for our financial future, or putting the kids through school or leaving them a good inheritance. But the immediacy of heaven transforms the way I view work.

If in fact my daily work is a part of God’s mandate to His people to take dominion and subdue the earth, then my workday becomes brimming with heavenly possibility! Through my work, I am laying up treasures in heaven.

I work now “as unto the Lord,” trusting that even the mundane things I do are being stewarded by Him to accomplish His purposes on earth—and in the earth to come. (click here to read more)

On anger: The Easiest Sin to Justify by Tim Challies

But I think anger is often different. When we sin in anger, we tend to absolve ourselves of blame by pleading the circumstances around the anger. So we blow up at our child, we raise our voice, we fling an insult. But when we’re challenged by our spouse or child or even our own conscience we point to the circumstances. “If she hadn’t been disobedient, this never would have happened.” So really, you see, it’s her fault. We scream an insult at the driver who cut us off in traffic. We use one of those four-letter words that surprises us (not to mention the rest of our family) as we hear it coming from our mouths. But in the silence that follows, or over the gasps from the back of the van, we insist, “He cut me off! He could have killed us!” It’s not our fault, but his.

When it comes to the sin of anger, we can always find an explanation that exists outside of us. We can always dump this sin in the lap of a husband or wife, a child or stranger. Failing that, we can plead fatigue or hormones or waking up on the wrong side of the bed or something—anything!—else. (click here to read more)

On knowing that you’re saved: How a Fish Can Help You Answer the Question of Whether or Not You Know Jesus by Mike Leake

But what separates a live fish from a dead fish? It isn’t that on occasion they are being tossed about by the stream or even swimming with the current of the stream. Both living fish and dead fish can go with the current. But there is one thing a dead fish can never do—swim up stream. They cannot go against the current.

The same is true of believers. There are times when we go along with the current of the world. We look just like the dead fish—being carried about by the cultural stream. We look like unbelievers being tossed to and for by every wind and wave. In such a season we’ll likely question our salvation because we aren’t reflecting our new life in Christ, we’re just going downstream like nothing has changed. (click here to read more)

On reading the Old Testament: The Joy of the Old Testament by Patrick Meador

God is introduced in power! He is introduced by what He has done. This is the power of biblical history. By reading what God has done, we gain insights into the character of God. When we read of God’s deliverance of the Israelites, we see the love, compassion, and power of God. In the recounting of His dealings with King David and Bathsheba, we see that even a man after God’s own heart can be broken and redeemed. It is in Isaiah 53 that we see the prophecy of the suffering servant, Jesus Christ. We read of God not only making promises but delivering on them!

Since discovering the value of the Old Testament, I have done sermon series through Joshua and Nehemiah as well as spent many times on sermons through the Old Testament, pouring over the text. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 12.14.17 (on: parenting, angels, and more!)

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

On parenting and Christmas: A Christmas Prayer for My Children by Tim Counts

As I picked up my 2-year-old son out of his crib this morning, hearing him chatter in toddler-talk about the mini Christmas tree in his room, it struck me that Your Son not only came as a little baby but also grew up as a boy. The Word who became flesh learned how to form words with his mouth. How incredible. How humble. How like us and yet unlike us you are, Jesus.

As we approach Christmas Day, my prayer is that my children would not miss Jesus for Christmas. I know this starts with me, Father. Would you strip away idols of materialism and picture-perfect white Christmases from my heart and help me to shine the spotlight on Jesus brightly this Christmas? (click here to read more)

On hope, trust, and God’s word: Seeing God’s Hand by Adam Kareus

On the approach back to our driveway, we have to go down a little hill. My son doesn’t like the hill and is convinced the hill doesn’t like him, either. He doesn’t trust the hill and is convinced the hill is up to no good. So, it never fails: when we approach this hill, he cries out for me to grab hold of his bike and control his speed. He is completely able to stop himself with the brakes, but still wants me to be there and hold his bike. If I take my hands off, he cries. It doesn’t matter that he can see me right there, ready to help. He has to see my hand grasping hold of his bike. Him seeing my hand holding on makes him feel safe.

We are the same way with God. We have to know that He is holding on. Without that knowledge, there is not a sense of security or safety. And this is not just head knowledge that God is in control; it is a deep seated trust that God is there and He is holding us in His hands. In fact, when we read our Bibles, it is amazing to see how often the writers wrote about this very thing. (click here to read more)

On angels: Angels in the Bible: What Do We Actually Know About Them? by Wayne Grudem

For centuries, artists have portrayed angels as beautiful humans with wings and glowing light, complete with halos, harps, and flowing white gowns (or perfectly sculpted bodies). But is that really what angels look like? Angels have inspired all sorts of imaginative stories and depictions, but what’s left when we separate fact from fiction? In order to know the truth, we have to ask, what does the Bible say about angels? (click here to read more)

On seeing God’s promises in the midst of pain: When You Cannot Yet See the Great Light by Lore Wilbert

A quiet, pulsing comfort when I’m reminded, in no uncertain terms, that we don’t always get what we want, is we haven’t been promised most of whatever it is we want. Marriage? More money? Bigger house? Health? More kids? Kids at all? None of them are promised. The years go by with no prospective spouse, the bank account always seems to be dry, every month a painful reminder that no seed has taken root in our womb. The reminders are everywhere, we don’t even have to look far. Name anything you want and haven’t yet got and there it is, your reminder.

Today, though, I woke on this fifth day of Advent and the second day of a miscarriage, remembering the child who was promised to me. God promised a child would be born to us, a son, given to us (Isaiah 9). He was not the child I wanted last night as silent tears tracked down my face, but he was given to us the same.  (click here to read more)

Good Reads 12.06.17 (on: becoming a Christian, marriage and dementia, and more!)

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

On helping teenagers in church come to their own faith in Christ: How to Become a Christian by Bryan Elliff

The problem was that I couldn’t figure out how to become a Christian. Yes, I knew that you had to repent and believe, that the Holy Spirit had to work in you to give you new life, and that you couldn’t just pray a prayer to “get saved.” But when it came down to the actual logistics of the thing, I was in a bit of a fog. How could I get the Holy Spirit to come work in me? What would it look like for me to decisively repent? I mean, I wasn’t doing drugs or even disobeying my parents, at least not in big ways. And how could I know that I had “believed” with a genuine faith? (click here to read more)

On the temptation to compare ourselves to others while suffering: But Others Have It Worse by Tim Challies

This is our temptation in suffering, to compare it to what others have endured and to downplay our suffering in relation to theirs. “I can’t possibly complain when he has endured that much while I’ve only endured this much.” “Yes, it has been difficult, but then I think of what that other person has endured, and then who am I to complain…”

This isn’t entirely wrong, is it? Stubbing my toe doesn’t earn me the right to commiserate with someone who has lost a leg. Losing my dog doesn’t equate to losing a child. But that’s not the same as saying those things don’t matter or that they aren’t genuinely painful. That’s not the same as saying those things don’t comprise true suffering. And that’s certainly not the same as saying those things don’t matter to God. (click here to read more)

A testimony on being faithful to one’s spouse during the battle with dementia: One Man’s Story of Faithfully Loving His Wife through Early Onset Dementia by Randy Alcorn

“I love Debbie and know that she still loves and needs me, she just has lost the ability to say it most days. I have to remind myself it is not really her anymore and even though that placates my fear of the loss of our love, it deepens the fear and angst over losing her; the person. But through some mystical, spiritual, emotional bond that ties us, her rare moments of comfort and signs of affection are the purest form of medicine for my soul.” (click here to read more)

On the Christian response to those guilty of sexual assault: Sexual Assault and the Scandal of the Gospel by Trevin Wax

How then should we respond? As Christians, there should be no equivocation or excusing of inappropriate sexual advances or abuse. Lord forbid the world be clearer than the church in naming and shaming evil deeds!

The church must be unflinching in its naming of sin. And yet the church must also not shrink back from the call to repentance. Repentance is the hope-filled call of the gospel: anyone can repent and be restored. Yes, anyone can turn from sin and find forgiveness.

Herein lies the scandal of the gospel. Christians name evil for what it is. Yet we also believe that evil desires and deeds can be confessed and overcome, that sin can be forgiven, and that people can be redeemed. The church is the peculiar society that insists that certain acts the world finds praiseworthy are sinful, while certain sins the world finds unforgivable can be wiped away. (click here to read more)