Good Reads 11.15.17 (on parenting, spiritual warfare, and more!)

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

On parenting and the gospel: I Want My Kids to Be Good by David McLemore

My boys listen and interact and respond. They understand sin is bad and God is good. They learn the path Abraham should have taken. Don’t go to Egypt. Stay in the land God provided. Refuse the riches of the world. Receive the priest’s blessing.

But they will commit their own sins. They already have, and more are on the way.

I can’t stop it and it’s my fault. It’s Abraham’s fault, and Noah’s, and Adam’s. But it’s God’s plan, too. I can’t reroute their sins to me. I can’t undo the pain they’ve already felt. I can’t remove the stain with which they were born. But Jesus can. (click here to read more)

On parenting: My Biggest Mistake as a Mother by Carolyn Mahaney

It’s not that I didn’t trust God ultimately. But at times, doing good would creep up to the front, and trusting God would get shoved to the back. I was focused on what I was doing (or not doing) for my children, and only vaguely aware of what God was doing in my children’s lives. Trusting God became something of an afterthought, and I would mother my children as if it was all up to me. (click here to read more)

On being changed by the gospel: On Getting Un-Dragoned by the Light of Christ by Jared Wilson

We have to understand just how much this sacrifice has purchased! Christ’s shed blood has delivered us from the domain of darkness. His blood speaks the better word of justice accomplished. His blood declares pardon for us, cleansing for us, and—as John Calvin helpfully reminds us in his commentary on 1 John—this cleansing pardon is “gratuitous and perpetual.”

Christian, you are never not covered by the blood of Jesus. So: If his blood has covered your sin, why are you still walking in fear and hiding? (click here to read more)

On spiritual warfare: Doing Spiritual Warfare without All the Weirdness by Stephen Altrogge

James writes this as part of a bigger discussion about pride and humility. He’s not talking about claiming territories for God or praying walls of spiritual protection around people. He’s saying that spiritual warfare against Satan involves fighting against the demonic temptation of pride.

When we fight against the sin that so often rages within, we are doing spiritual warfare. We are resisting the devil. We are taking up the shield of faith and standing firm against the temptations and accusations of the enemy. We are declaring the old us is dead and that we are no longer part of the kingdom of Satan. (click here to read more)


Sunday 08.20.17 (gospel conversations: the conversations)

This Sunday we’ll conclude our “gospel conversations” series with a look at John 1:29-51 and some examples of how we can have conversations about Jesus in our everyday lives. Then in the evening we’ll look at God’s mercy and grace in our “attributes of God” series. We hope to see you there!

@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Attributes of God Study in the church library

Sermon Notes
Gospel Conversations: The Conversations ~ John 1:29-51

  • The Conversations: As people who love Jesus, we want to love others by telling them about Jesus.
  • Three conversations about Jesus (John 1:29-51)
    • Some of us will speak to a large audience, like John the Baptist (1:29-34)
    • All of us can speak one-on-one with people we know like Andrew and Philip (1:35-51)
  • Starting points of Gospel conversations
    • Assume people want to talk about spiritual things (God created us with a longing; Gen 1:26-27)
    • Try to see the best in others (1 Cor 13:4-7)
    • Even if they reject you and the Gospel, they are not the enemies, our war is spiritual (Eph 6:12)
    • Pray (Col 4:4-6)
  • Ways to have Gospel conversations
    • Personal testimony
    • Ask good questions, listen, and respond
    • Get to know a basic presentation such as The Story or The 3 Circles

Gospel Conversations (sermon series)

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Sunday 08.13.17 (gospel conversations: the story)

This Sunday we’ll look at Luke 24:44-49 in part 2 of 3 of our Gospel Conversations series and consider the gospel story that we have to share with others. Stories are a powerful way to communicate truths, and God has given us the greatest story of all. Then on Sunday evening in our attributes of God study, we’ll consider the love of God. We hope to see you there.

@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Attributes of God study in the church library

Sermon Notes
Gospel Conversations: The Story ~ Luke 24:44-49

  • The Story: We can explain the Gospel in four summary statements
  • The Gospel story in Scripture (Luke 24:44-49)
    • All of Scripture tells about and points us to Jesus as God’s Son and our Savior-King (24:44-46)
    • Knowing and trusting Jesus through the Gospel leads us to be witnesses to others about Jesus and his Gospel
    • The core of the Gospel is that Jesus lived, died, and rose again as the sacrifice to forgive our sins and give us eternal life (24:46, 1 Corinthians 15:1-5)
  • The Gospel story in four summary statements: Creation, Fall, Rescue, and Restoration

If you want to know more about the gospel story or desire a resource to share with others, you can watch a short film from Spread Truth Ministries at the following link:

Gospel Conversations (sermon series)

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Sunday 08.06.17 (gospel conversations: the conviction)

This Sunday we’ll start a 3-week series entitled “Gospel Conversations”–and we’ll see what it means to be everyday missionaries, seeking to share our hope in Jesus through the relationships we have. Over these three weeks, we’ll consider: The Conviction, The Story, and The Conversations. We hope to see you there!

@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Attributes of God study in church library

Sermon Notes
Gospel Conversations: The Conviction ~ Acts 1:8

  • The Conviction: Every follower of Jesus is a Spirit-empowered missionary tasked to share the gospel
  • Our Power: The Holy Spirit is God in us, empowering us to tell others about Jesus
  • Our Task: We share about Jesus, desiring to see others also become his followers, wherever God places us

Gospel Conversations (sermon series)

Image taken and modified from

Good News and the Kingdom

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” ~ Mark 1:14-15

Jesus’ ministry centered on his preaching, but this wasn’t simply some feel-good, here’s five points to follow message. No, Jesus came to declare the good news.

Good news—that’s what this word “gospel” means. Throughout the New Testament this word is used with various descriptors. It is called the “gospel of God” (here and Romans 1:1), the “gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 4:23, 24:14), the “gospel of grace” (Acts 20:24), the “gospel of Christ / Jesus Christ” (Mark 1:1, Romans 15:19), and the “gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15) among others. Most often, it is just simply “the gospel.”

Each of these descriptions point us to the same reality: We need the good news because there is bad news in the world. The bad news is our rebellion against God, decay and death, and eternal condemnation under God’s wrath, all from which we cannot rescue ourselves.

But the good news is that God has given us rescue through Jesus. He is bringing his righteous Kingdom to reign over creation, to right all wrongs, to give peace where there is enmity, and to put an end to sin and death. We are a part of this if we realize the bad news, hear the good news, and put our trust and hope in Jesus.

When Jesus said, “the kingdom of God is at hand,” he was declaring that all of these things were about to take place. The day is still future when King Jesus will return and bring the fullness of his kingdom to this world, where he will rule with perfect justice and goodness, and peace and joy will fill the lands. In the meantime, though, the kingdom is already here.

After his death and resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven and took a seat on his throne beside God the Father. Everywhere there is a follower of Jesus, the world has an ambassador representing the King and his kingdom. Everywhere the church gathers, it is a meeting of kingdom citizens.

Our task in this world is not to keep the good news of God to ourselves, but to do as Jesus did and invite others to join the kingdom ranks. We urge them to repent—to leave their rebellion against God, and to believe—to trust in Jesus as the Savior-King, believing his gospel. Every act of kindness and social justice we engage in, then, flows from this conviction and points to the King. So, let us go out and fulfill our role as kingdom representatives as those who have been entrusted with good news.

New posts in this series will appear most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

Mark 1_14-15

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A Gospel-Worthy Manner of Life

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that is from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. ~Philippians 1:27-30

What does a manner of life worthy of the gospel of Christ look like? Paul painted the picture this way:

Unity. The gospel produces a God-given unity in the followers of Jesus. Not that we always see everything the same or that we agree on every detail this side of eternity. But that we have a strong familial love for one another. We are children, brothers and sisters, of the One God; followers of the One Savior-King; filled with the same Holy Spirit; and focused on the same purpose: the exaltation of Jesus. This unity in our diversity is a beautiful picture of God’s saving power for the world.

Mission. The gospel produces a sense of Christ-centered mission. In unity of spirit and mind, we “strive side by side for the faith of the gospel.” In other words, we make Paul’s aim our aim. We strive to make Jesus known in all places, seeing people turn to him. We have a sense of mission because we realize that life is more than just what we experience in this world. Choices today have eternal consequences beyond death. We will either live with Christ and one another in eternal joy, or we will suffer the consequences of our sin in the hell of eternal torment. We are driven by mission because we want none to taste hell and all to know joy.

Boldness. The gospel also produces a boldness in our faith. There are many gospel-opponents in the world: Those who would rather enjoy the temporary pleasures of sin, those who find faith foolish, Satan and his minions, and war, poverty, and other effects of sin. The Bible reminds us that we live in the midst of a spiritual war. Boldness joyfully and faithfully stands firm in Christ, despite the opponents. If we suffer as Paul did, it’s no strange thing, because Jesus also suffered. But suffering is momentary. Salvation is forever.

Unity, mission, and boldness all manifested in a life that loves and follows Jesus. Here we find the gospel-worthy manner of life.

New posts from this devotional series in Philippians will run most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.


Difficult Seasons and Gospel Opportunities

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. ~Philippians 1:12-14 (ESV)

How do you view the difficult times in your life?

When Paul wrote to the church at Philippi, he was in prison, likely in Rome. This wouldn’t have been the first time that Paul was jailed because of his faith. In Philippi itself he spent time in jail, and even after being miraculously freed from his chains, he didn’t immediately run out the door. The life of the jailer was too important to him, and he led the man and his family to Christ.

This was Paul’s attitude. Hard times were not causes of stress and emotional toil, but of gospel opportunity. Paul had the attitude that if he was free, he would share the gospel as much as he could, and if he was jailed, he would still share the gospel as much as he could.

The faith that Paul had to face difficult situations like this was a deep faith in God. He had come to the conclusion along the way, “To live is Christ; to die is gain” (1:21). He was going to do everything he could to the glory to Jesus, and it didn’t matter what circumstances or other people brought to him, even death would not stop him, because death meant being with Jesus.

Keep in mind, though, that Paul did not come by this faith naturally or easily. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul wrote of some “thorn” that he suffered. We don’t know exactly what this was, but it was a clear test of his faith. It made him uncomfortable, and he wished it gone. So he pleaded with God to remove it, until God responded, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

Paul needed that reminder of God’s sufficient grace to help him through. And so do we, if we will develop faith like Paul’s. So, we keep looking to Jesus. We keep finding comfort in scripture. And we keep turning to God in prayer. So that we might see our difficult times as gospel opportunities.

New posts from this devotional series in Philippians will run most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

Saint Paul in a Roman prison cell with Onesimus.