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)

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)