Good Reads 09.06.17 (on: parenting, forgiveness, and doubt)

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

On sin and forgiveness: If All My Sins Are Forgiven, Why Must I Continue to Repent? by Stephen Wellum

As we live our lives and unfortunately sin, we need to return to God in repentance and faith and seek his forgiveness. Yet we do so on the basis of Christ’s work applied to us in our justification. Such an experience is not a new justification but a renewed application of our justification.

When we sin, we lose our consciousness of forgiveness and our sense of peace with God. So when we confess our sins, by the work of the Spirit, we are reawakened to what Christ has done for us, and God revives our security in him and assurance of our salvation. Believers, then, continue to pray daily for forgiveness—not with the despair of one who thinks he is lost, but in the confidence of justified and adopted children approaching a heavenly Father who has declared them just in Jesus Christ. (click here to read more)

On parenting and our need for God: The Glory of a Father: Parenting on Fumes and Grace by David Mathis

Parenting young kids means running regularly on emotional fumes. My wife and I had our fourth in April. We haven’t yet found that elusive “new normal” that feels sufficiently manageable, and I’m beginning to suspect we won’t for some time. But it seems this is right where God wants us: desperate, exhausted, dependent.

God does not call me as a daddy to have enough strength now for next year, next month, next week, or even tomorrow. Just for today. Be faithful today. Don’t check out today. Ask God to provide the energy needed to finish this day well as the head of this home. Sufficient for each day is trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34). His mercies will be new tomorrow (Lamentations 3:22–23). (click here to read more)

On doubt and insecurity: What To Do When You’re Stuck in Doubt by Michael Kelley

All of us know the feeling of kicking yourself for missing something. Sometimes it’s as simple as going to sleep before the 4th quarter of a football game; other times, it’s that you make the conscious choice to be one place instead of another. Maybe it’s staying at the office instead of being at the ball game or the dance recital – and then knowing immediately that you have missed something big. Something important. It’s that feeling of second guessing yourself, over and over again, knowing you could have made different scheduling choices to be where you ought to have been, but you didn’t.

But this was not missing the opening few minutes of a play or walking in a few minutes late to a party. Thomas missed Jesus. And just as we don’t know why he wasn’t there, we don’t really know what was going on in his mind. We only know what he said: “If I don’t see the mark of his nails in His hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe!” (John 20:25) (click here to read more)

Good Reads 08.24.17 (on: parenting, prayer, Bible reading, and more!)

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

On parenting and discipleship: 8 Tips to Help You Disciple Your Kids by Dembowczyk

One of the main problems we have as parents is that we expect way too much of ourselves when it comes to discipling our kids, and when we can’t live up to them, we feel like failures and often quit. Family worship doesn’t have to look like worship with your church family with singing, prayer, and lengthy and in-depth Bible teaching. Gospel conversations don’t always have to end with some profound theological gem from you. We need to be realistic of what our family discipleship will look like. Perhaps that means talking about a Bible story for 15 minutes one night a week at dinner and trying to find one or two times each week to move conversations toward the gospel. Wherever you are, start there and develop rhythms and habits that work and then build on them to get to where you want to be. (click here to read more)

On Bible reading: 4 Bible Reading Strategies for Reading Plan Quitters by Scott Slayton

When you read large portions of Scripture, you will consistently see passages where you want to slow down and read more carefully. Keep a list of these passages and when reading large sections starts to feel tedious, spend some time reading only one chapter or less each day for a while.

When you do this, make sure that you read with a pencil and a notebook. Write out what you are reading on your notebook. Skip a line so that you leave yourself room to write notes. Then, go through the passage slowly. Mark significant words. Look for words that the writer uses more than once. Take note of the connecting words like “for,” “therefore,” “but,” “so that,” or “in order that” and pay attention to how they connect one clause in the passage to another. (click here to read more)

On joy and prayer: Ask Him for Joy by Mike Phay

Jesus references a radical change in relationship between his followers and his Father that will happen through his mediating work; specifically, through his redemptive death, burial, resurrection and ascension. Jesus is assuring his gathered disciples that “that day” will come when direct access to the Father will take place. In that day, Jesus says that we will be able to ask directly, that is, we will be able to pray. We will be able to approach the Father directly in Jesus’ name and through his mediating work—and we will be the ones asking (“I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf”). In turn, the Father himself will be the one hearing, listening, and responding, “for the Father himself loves you.” (click here to read more)

On Bible interpretation: Are You REALLY Interpreting the Bible Literally by Stephen Altrogge

Understanding the original intent of the passage guards us from reading a modern meaning back into scripture. Does it take work and study and thinking to wrestle the original meaning from the text? You bet. But it’s valuable, necessary work.

Why do so many people end up twisting scripture? Because they infuse their modern, “enlightened” sensibilities into the text, taking it far away from what the author originally meant. (click here to read more)

 

Good Reads 08.17.17 (on: life and death, racism, and more)

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

On our union with Christ: A Beautiful Union for Broken Hearts by Allyson Todd

Doubts flood my mind when I feel pain. Will God ever relent? If He loved me, wouldn’t he end this? I can’t seem to move past my heartbreak, so does that mean I’m not a Christian?

If we belong to Christ’s blood-bought tribe of sojourners, we are fully His. Our faithfulness is dependent upon the One who dwells within us. This means that we can doubt our doubts. Even if we don’t feel like God hears us and struggle with doubt, we know that we belong to Jesus. (click here to read more)

On battling racism: Race, the Gospel, and the Moment by Tim Keller

First, Christians should look at the energized and emboldened white nationalism movement, and at its fascist slogans, and condemn it—full stop. No, “But on the other hand.” The main way most people are responding across the political spectrum is by saying, “See? This is what I have been saying all along! This just proves my point.” The conservatives are using the events to prove that liberal identity politics is wrong, and liberals are using it to prove that conservatism is inherently racist. We should not do that.

Second, this is a time to present the Bible’s strong and clear teachings about the sin of racism and of the idolatry of blood and country—again, full stop. In Acts 17:26, in the midst of an evangelistic lecture to secular, pagan philosophers, Paul makes the case that God created all the races “from one man.” Paul’s Greek listeners saw other races as barbarian, but against such views of racial superiority Paul makes the case that all races have the same Creator and are of one stock. (click here to read more)

On parenting: Loving Your Hard-to-Like Kids by Laura Booz

I wish I could say that I don’t relate to these questions, but I do. I have disliked each of our children at one time or another. For years, I have kept these occasional struggles to myself because I don’t like when I don’t like my own precious children.

My children are hurt by my broken affection; it permeates how I speak to them and how I treat them. I’ve worried about how it may affect them in the long run. Do you ever feel the same way?

God is leading me on a mission to understand and overcome this struggle. And I want to share the things He’s teaching me that are helping me to gain some perspective and victory. I hope they help you, too. (click here to read more)

On death and life: My Left Knee: A Heartwarming Story of Creeping Death by Jared C. Wilson

My left knee is a reminder that I am groaning for redemption. I am slowly wasting away, giving way to the real me, the one made in the likeness of my Redeemer, strong knees and all. And on that day I finally see his face, my knee won’t hurt any more. And I won’t care any more, or think about it to care. I’ll run tirelessly, leap fearlessly, even school you on the basketball court.

Until then, though, my left knee is a reminder that death is coming, but also that, charmingly enough, so is an eternal lease on life.

One day this knee will bow before its Maker. And all will be well. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 07.05.17 (on: parenting, boredom, hope, and more!)

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

On parenting: A Letter to My Children by Adam McClendon

I pray that you will be a light for Jesus, that you will live for him, and tell others about him. Hope is only found in Jesus. Remember that. Also, remember that we have an enemy in Satan and he wants to destroy you. He will use your friends to tempt you to do wrong. People will make fun of you and try to pressure you into doing wrong. Don’t let them. Stand your ground. I promise, in the long run, they will respect you and want to be like you. (click here to read more)

On persevering in hope during the struggles of darkness: Saying Goodbye to Narnia by Chris Thomas

Peter lifts our downcast eyes to focus not on the joys of yesterday, but instead on the glorious realities of tomorrow. Yes, we may sit in dreary days of cold stinging rain, but once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen of Narnia. Tribulation is real—we should not be surprised by it—but it is not our defining reality. We have a living hope, an imperishable inheritance, and a secure salvation.

Dark days will come, but these are just ‘a little while’; days not to simply endure, but to rejoice in—days to abide in as we wait for tomorrow. Our waiting in the darkness isn’t simply a sufferance, but is essential in the preparation for brighter days, days filled with the praise and glory and honour of the revealed Saviour. (click here to read more)

On the value of boredom: Make Time to Be Bored by Tim Challies

When we were children and teenagers, boredom seemed like a bad thing, because idle hands are the devil’s workshop, right? But boredom should not be confused with idleness. Idleness is laziness and indolence. It is refusing to do what needs to be done. But boredom is simple inactivity, a break from the hustle and bustle and busyness of life. Boredom is the pause between activities or the deliberate escape from activity altogether. (click here to read more)

On facing death: Mourning Has Broken by Stephen McAlpine

Death did as it should to me. As it should do to all of us before we die.  It made me reflect on my own death; the need to be prepared; the brevity of life; the ageing process; the fact that the dementia time-bomb in Dad’s head may also have been smuggled into my own by some genetic terrorist bent on biomass destruction.

It found me simultaneously praising God for delivering us from the sting of death, which is sin, and grieving over death’s certainty for us all.  Death is not the sting, a common misunderstanding and misreading of 1Corinthians 15:56.  Sin is.  Somewhere in God’s plan a transition from this age to the age to come was planned for untainted humanity, a well-done-good-and-faithful-servant-reward. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 06.22.17 (on: parenting and discipline, affirmation, and more!)

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

On parenting: 3 Reasons Why Discipline is Harder than Punishment by Michael Kelley

If you are strictly punishing your kids, then just put them in time out. Or spank them. Whatever it is you do in your house. You can do it quickly, and then it’s over and done with. The reason why punishment is quicker is because the goal of punishment is exclusively reactive; they did something bad, and you need to make sure they don’t do it again. But when you discipline, your goal isn’t just behavioral; it’s about the heart. Heart formation takes much longer than behavior modification. That leads us to the second reason why discipline is harder. (click here to read more)

On our need for affirmation: When a Father Wound Defines You by Scott Sauls

I once heard Tim Keller say that Jacob’s deceit was the first recorded case of identity theft. But what was Jacob’s motivation? Why, under false pretense and knowing that it would not be long before both Isaac and Esau would find him out, did Jacob deceive anyway? Ten out of ten therapists would say that it was because Jacob, like every other child in the world, craved a paternal blessing. More than anything, he longed to hear words of affirmation spoken over him by his father. And, if the blessing can only be gained under false pretenses, a child will resort to any measure to satisfy this primal craving. Simply put, Jacob wanted more than anything to hear from his father’s lips, “I see you. You matter. I love you. I like you. You matter to me.” (click here to read more)

On overcoming pornography: Victory Over Porn is Closer Than You Think by Jimmy Needham

Fighting sin feels like this, doesn’t it? When we’re in the midst of temptation, all we can see is the next big wave looming in front of us. Surrounded and hopeless, we give in and face defeat, never knowing that just over the water ridge is the calmer sea of victory in Christ. If we only had eyes to see over, what freedom would we experience in the midst of temptation? What fresh strength and resolve would we feel, with God’s help?

But so many of us can’t see over the ridge.

Here’s where God’s word offers an unfathomable gift to the tempted and addicted: a peek over into the calm ocean beyond our hour of temptation. Consider with me a handful of precious texts that serve to reassure us that God truly gives us the victory (Romans 7:24–25). May they serve you as they have me to walk in lasting freedom from this sin struggle. (click here to read more)

On revival: A Revival Without Christ at the Center is Not Revival by Jared Wilson

At the front end of Paul’s excursus to the Corinthians on the sign-gift charismata, he reminds us: “Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus is accursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3).

What we often see in false revivals is the exaltation of particular figures or the worship of a worship experience itself. You can turn on nearly any religious television programming and see this work in action. Christ is given lip service but exhilaration, personal revelation, warm fuzzies, and spectacular manifestations are the real objects of worship. Charlatans are at the helm, and they purport to wield the Holy Spirit as if he were pixie dust. In these cases and others, it is not the Spirit stirring, but the spirit of the antichrist. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 06.07.17 (on: fostering, identity, and more!)

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

On fostering and the church: Foster Children Need the Church by Brittany Lind

The need is enormous, but when you consider that there are roughly 348,067 evangelical churches in America, the 430,000 children-in-foster-care number doesn’t seem quite so daunting. Unfortunately, it’s not a problem that can be solved by simply doing the math and distributing children among churches. Many factors complicate the issue, but the numbers are still fascinating to consider.

The church really can do something to help. While not all may be called to open a home to foster children, there are numerous ways to get involved and be part of the solution. I’ve been incredibly blessed by a meal from a friend on a busy week of social worker visits, or by friends who took the time to get fingerprinted so they could be approved babysitters. Larger group homes may be in financial need to care for the children, or they may have a child in need of a tutor or a counselor. The needs are many and ongoing at every level of the foster care system. Who better to meet those needs than the church? (click here to read more)

On your identity and behavior: Always ‘Be’ Before You ‘Do’ by Jon Bloom

Jesus came with the true gospel and the gift of the new birth to set us free (John 8:32). We must not allow the old, corrupt virus to dictate our lives. We must refuse to “submit again to a yoke of slavery,” by living out of the old “Do. Have. Be.” ethic (Galatians 5:1). “For freedom Christ has set us free,” so let us “stand firm” by living out of the liberating gospel ethic of “Be. Do. Have.” (Galatians 5:1).

When it comes to the source of our identity, discerning and then choosing which operating system governs how we live, we must always “be” first. (click here to read more)

On life in Jesus: Jesus: Living Water by Jonathan Camac

That’s the beauty of the gospel. Jesus makes a way. 

Where joy is found lacking, Jesus provides (John 15:11). Where hope is left wanting, Jesus comes through (Hebrews 6:19). Where help seems absent, Jesus is always present (Matthew 28:20). Where life is cut mortally short, Jesus eternally extends (John 3:16).

Jesus offers us something that nothing in this world can ever offer. Where the world can only promise temporary life and joy, Jesus promises eternal life and joy. And get this. We know for sure that Jesus is not in the business of ripping people off.

Because he offers all this for free. (click here to read more)

On getting rest: Christian Restivisim by Stephen McAlpine

But the radical reality of the gospel is not that it enables us to be activists, but that it enables us to be restivists. It enables us to rest from all our labours (Hebrews4:10); enables us to be something that the secular culture won’t applaud; enables us to be something that our self-righteous, harried hearts feel nervous about, and therefore will shy away from.

Indeed our self-righteous, harried hearts DO shy away from rest, and our church culture seems to be doing everything within its grasp to help us shy away from rest and pursue its own form of evangelical activism.  The defining feature of evangelical churches in the West is not rest. Do I even need to tell you that?  It is not even merely well-considered activism.  It is ill-considered activism.  And it’s burning out church leaders and their flock at a rate of knots. (click here to read more)

Finally, words of wisdom from challies.com:

Challies_June-4-10-02

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)