Good Reads 05.17.17 (on Christian living, prayer, and more!)

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

On our dreams vs. our reality: Embrace the Life You Have by Vaneetha Rendall Risner

Finally, I am called to embrace the life I have. Embrace it as I would a beloved friend. Wholeheartedly. With joyful acceptance, not grudging obedience. Embracing means gladly receiving and even welcoming whatever the Lord gives me, even when it wasn’t in my plans. It means being fully present, living in the now, finding joy in the moment, and not longing for what’s past. (click here to read more)

On parenting: How Should Parents Respond to Their Children’s Sexual Sin by Russell Moore

It’s good for parents to feel burdened about their kids’ sin. There are far too many parents, including evangelical parents, who assume sexual sin is just part of growing up, particularly when it comes to boys. That’s not true. This is a sin against God, and a genuinely Christian response to such sin needs to begin with feeling the true weight of this sin.

Having said that, parents should also not be excessively shocked. We shouldn’t communicate to our children, “I can’t believe what you did,’ or even worse, “I can’t believe you did this to us.” Too many parents take their children’s sin personally, because they expect their child to always make the right moral decision in challenging moments. There is no sin except what is common to man, and while there are extreme sins, your child will not invent any sin. (click here to read more)

On men and prayer: Men, Lead Out in Prayer by Casey Lewis

Prayer is what the church and country need. It especially needs men who are willing to lead spiritually, and specifically, to lead in the area of prayer. Men, we can’t abdicate our responsibility any longer to the women in the church. We must lead as God has called us to lead.

I am sure other pastors in other times have said this but I am going to say it now in our time. Men, if we want our country and community to change, if we want to see people come to Jesus, we have to be spiritual leaders who are leading out in prayer. (click here to read more)

On living faithful to Jesus: Stop Being on Fire for Jesus by David Appelt

And that’s the rub. Yes, if I am living my life in obedience to Jesus, in worship of him, and striving to grow in His grace, then I will have the positivity that often comes along with it.

But by no means does the bible tell us to gauge our spiritual lives solely (or even primarily) based on our feelings. It’s a reality in the bible that we will go through seasons of pain, doubt, failure, feebleness, and loss. Not every second of our lives will be exhilarating, news-worthy, record-breaking happiness, and excitement. Most of the Christian life is radically ordinary. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 04.26.17 (on: parenting, hospitality, and more!)

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

On anger and parenting: When Anger Rears Its Ugly Head by Christina Fox

As I watch both of our children battle against the very same anger their parents both fight with, I feel afraid.  I hear stories of friends who as children crawled into bed with a sibling or locked themselves in another room when their parents argued, and I want to take action, because this cannot be the story my children are going to tell. So, I read blogs and vow to change.  I seek counsel from wise people who can give me a plan–something I can get started on today, something that will work.  And whatever I settle on works for a little while, until it doesn’t.  Failure. Shame. Condemnation. More resolutions.  I’m right back where I started, and the cycle continues.

It happened again, at the end of a very long day with our young children, when my husband called on his way home from work and asked me how I was.  I told him.  And it wasn’t pretty.  And when he got home I told him again.  It was loud, it was thoughtless, and our kids witnessed it all.  I almost believed the evil one again, but right on the verge of despair the Spirit was so gracious and reminded me of Romans 7-8, nudging me to read it out loud. (click here to read more)

On adoption: Adopted to Show Them the Image of God by Lisa Blanco

The children who have come to us are asking to be shown a God who will never forsake them. They need this, not just in words, but in our healthy touch, our immediate arrival upon their cries, our endless reminders of our love for them, and our willingness to start over no matter how many tantrums or how much time they take from us.

Whether their experience was fearful neglect, horrific abuse, or anything in between, the effects on these children are clear. Life for them had to be an “all about me” perspective. When you see your caregivers on auto-pilot most of the time, then yes, it had to be about “how to take care of me”.

Now they’re in our homes. We know they’ve been brought to safety, but they don’t know that yet. As we teach them to not take their anger out on our children, or break the T.V, we remember they’re in immense need of healing – a healing that’s beyond a few lectures or time-outs. (click here to read more)

On faith and contentment in the face of hardship: Contentment in Trials: How God Prepared Us for a Brain Tumor by Nancy Wilson

So, now what? Do I believe what I wrote about being content in our good God? Absolutely. He will never leave us or forsake us. He wants us to exercise our faith and lean on him, and this happens most when we are in the midst of trial. As God tests us, he wants us to test him, to see if he is as faithful as he promised. And he is. He wants us to have practice knowing that our lives are governed entirely by his wisdom and grace.

God knows what he is about, and he’s told us what to do: we are to cast our cares on him (1 Peter 5:7), set our minds on things above where Christ is (Colossians 3:1–2), and walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). And on top of this, he wants us to rejoice in all things, giving thanks for everything (Philippians 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:18). This is not amazing, super-special Christian living. This is basic Christian living. (click here to read more)

On hospitality: Creating a Culture of Hospitality by Bryan Elliff

Church doesn’t just happen on Sunday morning and Wednesday nights. We all know that. In our busy and self-isolating culture, we have to make intentional, personal contact with each other if we want to be a real community. But how do we do it? Let me suggest one centuries-old method: invite people over.

There is something bonding about being in someone’s house. You enter their world. You see their interests and their style of life. You see their kids schedules and get a feel for some of the daily challenges they face. In other words, you step beyond the neutral-site church meetings and begin to understand them in context. That’s why a church whose members invite each other over can develop a stronger community. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 03.22.17 (on: adoption, godly mothers, and more!)

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

On adoption: Adoption is Commitment by Joel Littlefield

Unlike a good dream where one hopes it never ends, adoption may not always feel that way. There may be days when tiredness gets the best of me, and physical and spiritual fatigue leaves my wife and me to sit on the couch at the end of the day and feel stuck. But God will meet us in that place. We will look each other in the eyes and remind each other that this is God’s work. It’s His calling on our lives and His heart for adoption. We cannot do this in our own strength.

I’m here to say that we didn’t pursue adoption because it sounded fun, or to be heroic, or to make a statement. We went down this long road because at the core of the Gospel is a Father’s heart for orphaned souls. God sought me before I ever knew He was coming for me. He knew my name, my birth, my whole life, my sin and the sin of my ancestors, and yet, He still ran to me in His perfect timing. He showered His grace upon me and said, “You’re mine. I died for you. I purchased you. I’ve adopted you as my own and no matter what you do I’m never going to leave you…ever.” (click here to read more)

On parenting / mothering: Christian Men and Their Godly Moms by Tim Challies

It may surprise us, though, to learn how many of our Christian heroes were shaped by the attentiveness and godliness of their mothers. Even though they may have had fathers who were present, involved, and godly, still they would insist that their primary spiritual influencer had been their mother. One of history’s greatest preachers would say with affection, “I am sure that, in my early youth, no teaching ever made such an impression upon my mind as the instruction of my mother,” while one of its most committed evangelists would say, “I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians in England.” An eminent theologian would state, “To our mother, my brother and myself, under God, owe absolutely everything.” A great defender of the faith would write about an overwhelming moment of doubt, then relate how he found deliverance: “My mother [spoke to me] in those dark hours when the lamp burned dim, when I thought that faith was gone and shipwreck had been made of my soul. ‘Christ,’ she used to say, ‘keeps firmer hold on us than we keep on him’.” (click here to read more)

On grace and anxiety: Everything Is Going to be Okay by Matt Moore

I’m sure most of us are well acquainted with Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things are working together for good.” The following verse defines for us exactly what this “good” is: “for those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29; emphasis mine). God works all things, including hard and painful things, together to make us like Christ—which is the greatest kindness he can do for us. Enjoying and reflecting the glory of Jesus is the ultimate purpose for which we were created. And as God fulfills this purpose in part through the refining fires of trials, our joy in him and love for him soar increasingly higher. We will always come out on the other side of difficult circumstances looking more like Christ and enjoying him more fully.

However, though I believe I will be okay when I exit trials, I do sometimes worry about how I will fare in the midst of them. I fear my joy and peace may completely dry up as I endure whatever painful situations lie ahead in my future. Will I have the emotional fortitude to not crumble under their weight? Will my soul be strong enough to enjoy and worship God amidst the suffering? Will God be good to me in the trials as he allows their fires to refine me? These are the questions I ask myself—the ones that cause me the most anxiety. (click here to read more)

On the little things in life: The Surprising Power of Little Things by Matt Rogers

The influence of little things can cause me to hyper-focus on every detail, thinking that if I can somehow control everything about my life then I can move toward my predetermined end. But, it doesn’t take long to realize the futility of this approach.

I can’t control my life—and neither can you. People do all sorts of things we can’t control. Life throws us curves we’d never anticipate. It’s just the way things are. Sometimes these little things work in our favor—propelling us further, faster than we once thought possible. Sometimes the little things work against us—derailing our plans before we ever begin. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 03.15.17 (on: #prayer #parenting #singleness and more!)

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

On parenting and prayer: Seven Things to Pray for Your Children by Jon Bloom

So, pray for your children. Jesus promises us that if we ask, seek, and knock, the Father will give us good in return (Luke 11:9–13), even if the good isn’t apparent for forty years. And because Jesus regularly asked those who came to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51), we know that he wants us to be specific with our requests. (click here to read more)

On parenting and discipleship: Don’t Farm Out Your Child’s Discipleship to the Youth Pastor by Clark Forbes

What I tell them isn’t usually the answer they’re looking for: the best practice and strategy for helping kids know the gospel, come to saving faith, and grow as a disciple, is a parent investing in the discipleship of their child. Nothing helps a teenager know the gospel like seeing it modeled in the home; not just taught or spoken to them, but modeled through their parents’ relationship to each other and to the kids. (click here to read more)

On singleness and God’s Mission: Single, Satisfied, and Sent by Marshall Segal

While it may seem like two categories at first, we soon discover in application that there are three: the single, the married, and the not-yet-married. After all, as any single person knows, a desire for marriage does not a marriage make. My hope in reflecting on Paul’s words is to restore hope and ambition in the hearts of the not-yet-married and set them solidly on mission in their singleness. (click here to read more)

On the God-centered focus of preaching: You Are Not the Story by H. B. Charles Jr.

After watching a few minutes of a news telecast, I find myself turning the channel in frustration, grumbling to the reporter on the screen, “You are not the story!”

Unfortunately, many of us who stand in the pulpit need this reminder just as much as those who sit at the news desk. Christian ministers are charged to preach the word (2 Timothy 4:1-2). The Lord commands it. The truth demands it. The hearers need it. Yet there is always the danger of inserting ourselves into the sermon – by our content or delivery – that the message is obscured.

People should not leave the sermon having learned more about the preacher than Christ. When we stand to preach the word, we should prayerfully whisper to ourselves, “You are not the story.” (click here to read more)

On the ups and downs of spiritual growth: Why Do Spiritual Highs Fade? by James Beevers

So, if there is to be any lasting effect from these events and experiences, it must have at the bottom seeing and savoring Jesus Christ — and this is often what camps, conferences, and events provide. Anything of true, durable worth from these experiences comes from seeing God clearly as he really is. This can come from sermons, or discussions, or singing in worship, or late night conversations, prayers, and devotions.

When we see the light of the glory of Christ most clearly, the things of this world seem dim and worthless by comparison. Why have sin, good as it may look, when we can have Christ? (click here to read more)

 

 

Good Reads 02.15.17 (on: prayer, revival, love, and more!)

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

On prayer and revival: Prayer for Revival and Faithful Plodding by Mike Leake

I wonder if this is why we pray so much for revival. Because times of revival aren’t the times of slow plodding. That’s when the wheel is spinning at full speed and you’re just trying to keep up with its produce. What ministry leader wouldn’t want that?

But in my mind our view of revival is a bit like an empty water wheel that just starts spinning by an unseen hand. I wonder if sometimes my prayer for revival is little more than, “Lord, make my job a lot easier”. Am I praying that God would cause the wheel to spin apart from seasons of faithful plodding? Is my prayer for revival just laziness cloaked in spiritual jargon? (click here to read more)

On prayer and parenting: 10 Prayers for Great Parenting by Ron Edmondson

Dear Lord, Help me not to overwhelm my children with unrealistic expectations. Remind me discipline is for their good – and to always administer it in love – not in anger or purely emotion. Keep me from dumping my adult problems on them, while helping me be transparent enough for them to learn from my mistakes. Help me to remember my children’s current age – and respond to them accordingly. (click here to read more)

On love and marriage: The 5 Weightiest Words of Love by Trevin Wax

The cost of the average wedding in America now exceeds $30,000, with prices soaring 16 percent between 2011 and 2015. With all the glitz and glamour surrounding a couple’s special day, it’s easy to focus on the decorations and dresses, while overlooking the most valuable moment of the day—the costliest words spoken between a husband and wife.

“Till death do us part.” (click here to read more)

On discipleship: Seven Costs of Disciple-Making by David Mathis

In disciple-making, we need to remember our aim is to please Jesus, and this will cost us favor with certain persons, especially when we have to say no to our involvement in their program or event or even to discipling them personally, because we’re protecting the space to invest in others. (click here to read more)

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)

Good Reads 12.08.16 (on: marriage, parenting, preaching, and more!)

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

On parenting: The Disciple-Making Parent, a book review by Tim Challies

As long as I am a parent, and especially a parent of tweens and teens (parenting babies and toddlers is straightforward by comparison!), I want to stay sharp, to be challenged, to be equipped. A good book helps me better understand the purpose of parenting and helps me better fulfill my God-given duties. Chap Bettis’s The Disciple-Making Parent is a good book, exactly the kind that challenged me and, I trust, better equipped me as a dad. It offers what, to my knowledge, is a unique angle in a crowded genre: Its focus on discipleship as the heart of parenting. (click here to read more)

On marriage and prayer: Husband, Pray for Your Wife! by Geoffrey Kirkland

Husband, do you pray for your wife? Not just a few words here or there. But do you really pour out your soul to God in desperate pleadings, fervent cries, and intercessory petitions on behalf of your most treasured possession on earth, your bride? If God were to affirmatively answer all of your prayers right now, at this instant, how much would really change in your marriage, or in your wife’s life?

Pray with frequency for your wife. Seek the Lord early for your bride. Prayerfully lead her to the throne before she even brings herself to the throne of grace. Beg God for strength to equip her to stand strong in almighty grace and to ward off the devil’s wily schemes. Seek the Lord that she may grow in grace, in wisdom, in love, in patience, in holy zeal, and in evangelistic opportunities. (click here to read more)

On preaching: 21 Thoughts on Preaching by Jared C. Wilson

Passion, brother, passion. Give us your theology, yes. Don’t short-shrift us on the text. Don’t confuse yelling for preaching. That’s not what I’m saying. Give us your rhetoric and your logic sure, but give it to us affectionately. “Preaching,” as Martyn Lloyd-Jones put it, “is theology coming through a man who is on fire.” (click here to read more)

On reminding ourselves of the gospel truths: When Preaching the Gospel to Yourself Becomes Like Brushing Your Teeth with Your Finger by Mike Leake

Precious truths which come from the character of God cause Micah to have great hope even in the midst of this season of discipline. But he knows that he isn’t sovereign over the matter and that he’d only further confirm his obstinacy if he runs from the rod to apply his own balm. He must let the Lord do the work of putting him through the fire (bearing the indignation) and wait upon the Lord to apply the healing. (click here to read more)