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)

 

Good Reads 11.08.17

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

On the church shooting in Texas: Tragedy in Texas: Christian Testimony in the Face of Evil by Albert Mohler

This particular attack in Texas highlights the fact that Christians are not immune from this kind of heartbreak. We cannot understand exactly what that congregation in that community is experiencing, but we do understand heartbreak, and we know that heartbreak is at the very center of their experience at this moment.

The Christian worldview affirms the dignity of human life. According to Scripture, every single human life is of eternal value and inestimable worth. Murder is not, then, merely a crime, it is an assault on the dignity of the human being—an attack upon the image of God. (click here to read more)

On contentment and the gospel: Chasing Contentment by Jonathon Woodyard

How does all that relate to contentment and discontentment? Augustine once told us that man’s heart is restless until it finds rest in God. Another way to say it, man is perpetually discontent until he finds contentment in God. We are constantly looking for the “great it of satisfaction.” Yet, we look in all the wrong places. We look for ultimate happiness and peace and satisfaction (i.e. contentment) in relationships and riches and promotions and a host of other things. And yet nothing ever quenches that deep thirst for something more, something else.

The gospel is a message to every discontented heart that says the pathway to contentment is open to all who would come to Jesus in faith. Come to Jesus and be reconciled to the one at whose right hand are pleasures forevermore (Ps 16:11). Turn from sin and place your faith in Jesus and find that through Jesus you get God. God is the great who of satisfaction. (click here to read more)

On loving your enemies: The Lord’s Crazy, Counter-Intuitive, Upside Down, Against-All-My-Feelings-and-Emotions Command by Stephen Altrogge

Has someone hurt you, taken advantage of you, ripped you off or insulted you?

You could take revenge. You could treat them as they treated you. You could hurt them back. You could take something of theirs. You could insult them back or badmouth them to others.

But if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you don’t have these options. Jesus says, “I’m going to tell you something completely counter-intuitive. Something absolutely crazy. Something that will go against all your feelings and emotions. And something that you can’t possibly do in your own strength. Yet when you do it it will demonstrate that you are a son or daughter of mine. And you will experience blessing you couldn’t imagine.” (click here to read more)

On God’s sovereignty: How a Genealogy Changed My Life by Jordan Standridge

The New Testament begins with the genealogy of Jesus. Unlike the one in Luke 3 which goes in ascending order form Jesus to Adam, the one in Matthew goes in descending order from Abraham to Christ. Matthew does something really fascinating in a few of the verses. Whenever there’s a famous woman in the line of Jesus, He lets us know. In verse 3, He mentions Tamar, in verse 5, Ruth, and in verse 6, Bathsheba. But it was another name in verse 5 that really blew my mind. The name was Rahab.

All of a sudden, when I read her name, it was as if a burden lifted off my back. I understood God’s sovereignty like never before. I became emotional as I considered the implications of reading her name in the line of Jesus. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 11.01.17 (on: parenting, God as refuge, and more!)

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

On God being our refuge: The Type of Refuge God Is by Mike Leake

God is not a reluctant refuge. He isn’t a passive refuge like a cave. He is one who delights in those who take refuge in Him. Therefore, I am emboldened to cast all my cares and anxieties upon Him. I don’t have to pretend that I’m someone that I’m not. And I don’t have to fear that when I come into this cave and spill all my guts and things get ugly that somehow I’m going to be rejected and booted out of this source of refuge. No, I’m loved and known deeply. (click here to read more)

On battling depression: What I Learned in My Season of Depression by Shona Murray

When I was a pastor’s wife and a mother of four children, I was T-boned by burnout and depression. As an energetic, motivated, organized, and outgoing person, I could never have anticipated the anxiety, fear, and endless despair that enveloped me. But God, in his love and wisdom, chose this very specific trial for me. Perhaps he has chosen it for you, and you too are bewildered. Let me give you some hope by sharing some of the lessons I learned from this shocking providence. (click here to read more)

On loving and serving moms: 3 Ways to Love Moms in Your Church by Allyson Todd

As you pursue and love moms in your church, let those moms also pursue and love you. This can be a life-giving opportunity for women to be reminded that their identity is not just in their motherhood. Let women with children disciple you, serve you, and love you as you love them.

I have some friends who would regularly invite me over for dinner when I didn’t have a kitchen. Since my friend was already cooking for her family, my presence at their dinner table wasn’t a burden. This same family let me live in their basement when I was in-between homes. We may feel like a burden to our mom-friends, but we can communicate our needs and let women with children meet us where they can. (click here to read more)

On parenting: 18 Things I Will Not Regret Doing with My Kids by Tim Challies

It baffles me that one of the things that most intimidates me is praying with my kids. I don’t mean praying with the whole family before or after a meal, but praying with my daughter for my daughter or with my son for my son. Yet this kind of prayer lets them see that I am concerned for what concerns them and it lets us join in prayer together for those very things. I know I need to prioritize this because I will never regret praying with them for them. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 10.18.17 (on church membership, work, and more!)

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

On perseverance: What Should You Do When You Feel Like Quitting? by Mark Altrogge

Have you ever said something like, “I’m tired of praying and not seeing an answer. I’ve been asking God to change this situation for 15 years and nothing ever changes.” Or, “Why do I keep hoping my son will believe in Jesus? He’s never going to change.” Or, “I’m just so tired of all this conflict. I’m just so tired of trying to be a peacemaker. I’m out of here.” Or, “I’m just tired of living. I wish the Lord would just take me home.”

Like you’re just done with all of it? Like, what’s the point? I have felt like giving up many times. I’ve been discouraged and downcast. I’m sure not to the degree that many of you have been. But I’ve had my share. And the Bible says every believer will be tempted to give up. What can we do when we feel like quitting? (click here to read more)

On work: Idolatry at the Office: Confessions of a Workaholic by Kathryn Butler

More importantly, our work does not please God when we labor for people’s applause. The trappings of worldly accomplishments may swell our pride, but when we pursue them to inflate our own egos, they are like filthy rags to the one who made heaven and earth (Isaiah 64:6). Only when we abide in Christ do we accomplish anything that honors God, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). However noble our efforts may appear to the world, we labor in vain when we strive apart from God (Psalm 127:1–2). (click here to read more)

On Jesus and our sin: Six Things Christ Does With Your Sin by Jared Wilson

He Carries It.

Like the true and better scapegoat, Jesus becomes our sin-bearer.

1 Peter 2:24 – “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

2 Corinthians 5:21 – “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (click here to read more)

On being a church member: Seven Things Your Church Needs from You by Tim Challies

There is no character quality more important than humility. While humility does not come naturally to any of us, it can be learned, because here’s the thing: Humility isn’t a feeling or an attitude—it’s action. If you want to learn humility, you need to act humble. Here are 3 quick tips on becoming humble: (click here to read more)

Good Reads 10.12.17 (on life’s difficulties, fighting sin, and more!)

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

On following Jesus and the difficulties of life: The Hard Road Is Where You’ll Find the Lord by Kole Farney

Here is something worth review: following Christ doesn’t result in a life without difficulty. Trials are normative, and pain is God’s chosen way to work out holiness and dependence in our lives. He is a vinedresser who carefully prunes every branch. He is a loving Father who disciplines all his children.

Therefore, because of his careful love for you, he will direct you down hard roads of suffering.

But, take heart; the hard road is where you’ll find the Lord. As strange as is sounds, this is a reality for every believer—God is working in and through the most painful circumstances in our lives. And he is there, right beside you, leading you, helping you. (click here to read more)

On “feeling” God’s presence: Don’t Freak Out if You’re Not Feeling God’s Presence by Stephen Altrogge

For much of my life, I’ve relied on my experience of God’s presence to determine how close I am to God. If I have an emotional experience in corporate singing, then I tend to think I’m closer to God. On the other hand, if my Bible reading feels drier than a college accounting lecture (I sat through some terrible ones), I conclude that I didn’t experience God.

If this dryness goes on for any length of time, I can begin to despair, believing that I’m in some sort of metaphorical/spiritual Valley of Dry Bones. But I’ve come to conclude that, for the most part, this thinking is unbiblical. Here’s why. (click here to read more)

On relationships and conflict: How To Resolve Most Relational Conflict by Jon Bloom

Pride is the enemy inside us that speaks to us like a friend. Its counsel sounds so much like self-protection, preservation, and promotion that we’re often blinded to the fact that it’s destroying us and others. It rises in great indignation as a prosecuting attorney when others’ pride damages us, but it minimizes, qualifies, excuses, rationalizes, and blame-shifts our behavior when we damage others. We can be easily deceived into believing that our pride wants to save us, when really, it’s our internal Judas betraying us with a kiss.

We must, to use an old term, mortify it — put pride to death. And there is only one way to do this: we must humble ourselves. (click here to read more)

On fighting sin: A Three-Step Strategy for Fighting Sin by Colin Smith

Our flesh is drawn to sin. Christian writers sometimes refer to this as “indwelling sin,” the impulse to sin that remains active in your flesh throughout your Christian life. Indwelling sin means you have a battle on your hands. But if you are going to engage effectively in the battle against sin, you have to know where to fight.

How does God reveal your indwelling sins, so you can battle against them? Through his Word: “The entrance of your Word gives light” (Psalm 119:130). Use the Bible as a tool for self examination. When you read the Bible one question to ask is, “Is there a sin to avoid?”

Try to see if there if what you are reading points to a sin that could be lurking in your life.

The first priority in turning from sin is that you should know it. The entrance of God’s Word gives light. Once you know what you are up against, you will be able to make progress. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 10.05.17 (on anxiety and prayer, evangelism, and more!)

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

On evangelism: Engaging Others with the Gospel by Adam McClendon

We are called to consistently engage our culture with the gospel in mind, within and outside our normal routines. We should go on mission trips. We should, on occasion, go door-to-door to people we don’t know to engage them in gospel conversation, but we don’t end our engagement there. We should engage others from a gospel perspective in our everyday and every-weekend moments like our school boards, club teams, Home Owners Associations, Parent / Teacher Associations, workplaces, classrooms, charities, neighbors, etc.

We should take others fishing, hunting, golfing, or whatever other recreation activity we might prefer, and we should do it with a gospel mindset and a love for others. Many of us are already engaging our world where we are through social media, neighborhood conversations, sitting at our kid’s practices, etc. We just need to ensure we shift in our mindset, keeping the gospel in view. In addition to just being friendly, we must engage with a gospel mindset that looks for opportunities (i.e. open doors) to point people to Christ and gauging their openness to the gospel. (click here to read more)

On prayer and anxiety: What if Prayer Makes Anxiety Worse? by Mike Leake

This is why I still pray…or try to pray…in the midst of darkness. Because eventually the gospel wins out and God breaks through. It happened with Bunyan and it happens with me.

Prayer is helpful even when our thoughts of God are jacked up simply because the gospel is true. When we cry out to God—even with hearts tinged with unbelief, depressive thoughts, and the whole lot—he answers. It may not make me feel better in the moment in which I pray. But God hears and God answers. (click here to read more)

On discipleship: Let’s Get Real About Women’s Discipleship by Rachelle Cox

Less than a year ago, I helped organize a women’s ministry event focused on discipleship. During this hour-long event, we offered women the chance to ask anonymous questions to a panel of female leaders in the church about the practice of discipleship. It went well. Frankly, a little too well. The five of us participating on the panel ran out of time long before those in attendance ran out of questions.

While I was encouraged by the interest women showed in the topic, I left the panel feeling somewhat burdened by the trend I saw in the questions women were asking us. Many women in my church seemed to struggle with the essential rhythm of discipleship, mostly because they had unrealistic ideas about what discipleship should look like in the first place. They were frustrated by their lack of theological prowess or their inability to squeeze a group Bible study into their schedules, and rather than doing discipleship “wrongly” they were just foregoing discipleship completely. (click here to read more)

On doing good to others: Enjoying God Fuels Doing Good by David Mathis

Titus also has something to say about “learning” to do others good. There’s a process — with practical steps to take ahead of time — to make space for the Spirit’s leading. That may include leaving enough margin in your schedule to be able to meet unexpected needs, or carrying paper money to give on the spot to someone in need, or setting aside funds for personal ministry in your monthly budget.

“Let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14). Being ready to do good doesn’t necessarily come naturally. It’s something we learn. We learn to devote ourselves to the good of others. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 09.20.17 (on: encouragement, worship, and more!)

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

On church and worship: Sunday Morning Is Not About Me by Stephen Witmer

As one who longs for spiritual transformation in myself and others, I really want to know how God turns a call to worship (Psalm 33:1–3) into a response of genuine and joyful worship (Psalm 33:20–22). How does he form a people who will say, “Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name”?

The real treasure of this psalm is that it answers that question. It gives us reasons to worship — Psalm 33:4 begins with the word “because” — and these reasons are not about us; they’re about God. The psalmist feeds our minds and fires our hearts with the character of God:… (click here to read more)

On encouragement: The Necessity of Encouragement by Charles Spurgeon

Labour to help others, and especially strive to encourage them. Talk cheerily to the young and anxious enquirer, lovingly try to remove stumblingblocks out of his way. When you find a spark of grace in the heart, kneel down and blow it into a flame. Leave the young believer to discover the roughness of the road by degrees, but tell him of the strength which dwells in God, of the sureness of the promise, and of the charms of communion with Christ. Aim to comfort the sorrowful, and to animate the desponding. (click here to read more)

On sex: What’s the Purpose of Sex by Tim Challies

We do, indeed, have a natural appetite for sex. Yet this appetite is given by God and is to be used in ways that are consistent with his design. Paul’s reply to the Corinthian church tells why this view is so dangerous. He begins by quoting their words but then immediately counters them: “‘Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food’—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” (1 Corinthians 6:13). While it is true that God has made us sexual beings and given us a natural appetite for sex, we must remember that sex is God’s idea and God’s gift. As the creator of our bodies and the author of sex, it is God who determines how the gift must be expressed, and it is God to whom we will ultimately give an account for how we used it. God has made us for himself, and we have no right to use his gifts for purposes that dishonor him. (click here to read more)

On marriage and singleness: Your Letter to Your Future Spouse by Kelly Needham

Undoubtedly, marriage is a treasured gift many Christians will receive. Instituted by God before the fall, and intended to showcase the beauty of the gospel, marriage ought to be highly regarded by God’s people. But marriage is no savior. It cannot rescue, redeem, or ultimately fulfill us. It has no final power to save us from our loneliness, emptiness, or purposelessness. Believing marriage can do the work of God himself is to serve an idol.

So, in the interests of putting marriage in its proper place, here are four reasons to set your hope in a present Christ rather than a future husband or wife. (click here to read more)