Good Reads 05.10.18 (on #marriage, #bible, and more!)

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

On the Bible: What the Word of God Says About the Word of God by Jared Wilson

What God says about his word is a deep, complex, and staggering thing. And each book of the written word testifies to the wonder of his revelation. I decided to take a look, book by book, selecting a representative passage from each to highlight many of the things God’s word says about God’s words.

The word of God is . . . (click here to read more)

On Social Media: The Oldest, Most Ignored Social Media Command by Aaron Earls

Notice how Paul frames this rule. He didn’t say don’t discuss disputed matters. And he didn’t say don’t argue over vital matters. Specifically, the command is not to argue over doubtful issues. We are not to get emotionally wrapped up in arguments over third tier (or lower) issues. Yet, so many Christians are consumed by this very thing.

What happens when we violate this rule for life and social media? Several of the points Paul makes following this verse in Romans 14 gives us an indication of what it would be like… (click here to read more)

On Marriage: 7 Ways to Increase Intimacy in Your Marriage by Casey Lewis

While the world has distorted the purpose of sex, the Bible, and specifically the Song of Solomon teaches us that sex serves a greater purpose. Sex is a way to increase intimacy that already exists in marriage, which means that without sex a marriage will grow stagnant and cold. Sex, then, is important to the vitality of the marriage relationship.

While it’s true that sex is an important part of marriage, it’s just as important that a relationship exists before and after one has sex, which is what I want you to see from the Song of Solomon. A careful reading of the text reveals that their marriage relationship wasn’t consummated until the end of chapter 4 and the beginning of chapter 5. Everything before those chapters consist of their courtship and wedding. (click here to read more)

On Confidence: Confidence Comes from a Clearer View of God by JD Greear

Moses couldn’t see that at the time. His thoughts were dominated by the insecurities that always come when you focus on yourself. In time, he would come to see these things and appreciate God’s sovereign preparation of him for the task. When he was called, though, he only saw his lack of potential.

But what is most interesting is that God, in trying to give Moses confidence, doesn’t point to any of Moses’ potential, even though it was there. He doesn’t say, “Moses, wake up! I have been preparing you! You have what it takes!” Instead, he simply says, “Moses, I am with you. Walk forward in confidence, knowing that what I have called you to, I will supply you for.” (click here to read more)

Good Reads 04.24.18 (on family)

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

On family worship: A video by Don Whitney on helping with the struggles of family worship–click here

On parenting: How to Parent Fearful Kids by William Smith

First, please don’t tell them that there’s nothing to be afraid of. They know better. They know that they might fail or get hurt. Telling them there’s nothing to fear will only convince them that they understand the world better than you do. If they think you see less than they do, you’ll only convince them that you have nothing to offer.

Instead, acknowledge that they’re scared and either ask or guess what frightens them. Then, to the extent that you can, tell them that you get it. Let them know you understand why that’s scary for them. At the same time, though, remind them they’re not alone. Tell them you’re there with them and they don’t have to fight their fear all by themselves. (click here to read more)

On siblings: How to End Sibling Rivalry Like a Christian by Jen Wilkin

Why do we discount the vision of our kids as each others’ dearest friends? Why do we settle for rivalry? Frankly, as a parent, it’s easier to be a referee than a reconciler. It’s easier to separate than to shepherd—at least in the short-term.

But as I witness the deep friendship that has grown between my kids, I affirm that the long-term benefit was worth the effort. A friend who sticks closer than a brother is a rare gem. A sibling who is a best friend is a treasure for a lifetime. And a Christian family filled with siblings who are friends bears compelling testimony to the gospel of peace. (click here to read more)

On the struggles of aging: Navigating Through Difficult Seasons of Life by Darrell Deer

Maybe you, too, are in a season of struggle. Perhaps your season, like mine, involves helping the people you love navigate the difficulties of aging. Or, maybe your struggles fall into a completely different category. Whatever the context of your life right now, I imagine the lessons above still have relevance for you. Learn to focus on the step in front of you. Be encouraged by the people around you. Dive deep into the pool of prayer and trust confidently in a sovereign God. May He help each of us manage the difficult seasons of our lives. (click here to read more)

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)