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)

Good Reads 09.14.17 (on friendship, singleness, and more!)

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

On Christian friendships: The Painful Paradox of Christian Friendships by Ronni Kurtz

Friendships between Christians are a bit of a peculiar thing. We know that eternally all we need is Christ, yet we feel temporally that we have a desperate need for each other. God shows off his kindness in fewer things more than allowing his children to walk through their days with one another. We are called to a laundry list of “one another” imperatives: love one another, rebuke one another, bear one another’s burdens, forgive one another, provide for one another, and so forth the glorious commands to live for the good of another go.

The relationships between believers is different because it’s not built around a small commonality of cultural taste or preference; it’s built around seeing to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God as we march hand and hand with our brothers and sisters towards the promise land. This eternal drum beat that our feet move to causes a bond that other friendships just can’t quite have. They are deep, they are meaningful, and they stir our affections for Jesus. (click here to read more)

On grief: How to Grieve Like a Christian by Tim Challies

Grieve hopefully. When Paul says, “you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” he is really saying something like, “we grieve, but not in the same way as all those other people who have no hope.” Or, “even though we do grieve, we grieve differently from those other hopeless people.” Again, we see there’s a distinctly Christian way to express grief. We must not grieve like unbelievers do. What is this Christian form of grieving? Christians experience grief but without despair, sorrow but without defeat, sadness but without hopelessness. It’s true sorrow and true hope. (click here to read more)

On marriage and hard times: When Marriage Is Filled with Worse, Poorer, and Sickness by Sarah Walton

If your marriage is struggling under the weight of trials and both you and your spouse have a desire to follow Christ, I would like to encourage you with a few ways that the suffering we endure throughout marriage can be a disguised blessing to bring about a richer, deeper, Christ-centered marriage. And if you are married to a spouse who is not following the Lord, I pray that God will use those trials to draw him/her to a saving relationship with Christ.

So how can the trials that we face in our marriage bring about a greater richness to our relationship with Christ and one another? (click here to read more)

On singleness: Are You ‘Not Yet Married’? by Marshall Segal

Being “not-yet-married” is not about dwelling on the negative. If you are in Christ, you are never again defined by what you are not. You have too much in him to be discouraged about not having anything else — even things as important in this life as a job, or a spouse, or children. The things that fill our lives and make us happy here are simple grains of sand compared to the endless beaches of knowing Christ.

It was, after all, an unmarried man who said, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him” (Philippians 3:8–9). (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 10.05.16 (on: happiness, singleness, and more!)

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

On happiness: God Wants You to Find Your Happy Place (an interview with Randy Alcorn)

Something would be terribly wrong if we weren’t grieving for this world and those who suffer. But is it okay to be happy when we live in a world of hurt? And beyond that, is it actually God’s calling? Because if God commands us to rejoice, he must empower us to rejoice. He must want us to be happy. That’s what got me interested in God’s happiness. Is God happy? Can he be happy when he sees so much sin in the world, when he knows what his Son endured on his behalf, when he sees the persecution of his people? Can we? Clearly, the answer is yes. (click here to read more)

On singleness and prayer: Nine Prayers for the Not Yet Married by Marshall Segal

Singleness can be a long, lonely, and confusing road, especially when it’s unwanted. Through most of my twenties, I felt like I was born wanting to be married. God finally gave me a wife a little more than a year ago, but not before walking with me through a winding decade of temptation and sometimes failure, of waiting, wanting, and wondering why not yet. (click here to read more)

On adoption: Adoption: God’s Glorious “Plan A” by Laura Wifler

The longer I’ve known Christ, the more I’ve seen the ugliness of my sin. As I study and learn from him, the more holy, sacred and perfect he becomes— and the more I understand my desperate need for a Savior. And as his righteousness is revealed, I become more broken in sorrow yet overflowing with insatiable joy for what he has done for me. That he would make me — a flawed, undeserving, rebellious, unattractive human — his daughter with all the same rights and inheritance as his Son, is, well, just plain mind-boggling to me. There is no reason God should have loved me, but he did. He redeemed me. He reconciled me to himself and restored me to be a part of his family.

And that, my very own story of redemption, right there — that is adoption. And the day I fully grasped this, was the day we began the process to adopt two children from Eastern Europe. (click here to read more)

On church attendance and membership: 3 Quick Questions Before Quitting Your Church by Tim Challies

Here’s the first question: Have you been praying for the people of this church? Your love for others grows in direction proportion to your prayer for them. As you pray for people, you find that you love them. You are called to pray for your enemies in the hope that they will become your brothers and sisters and for strangers in the hope that they will become your friends. How much more, then, are you to pray for your fellow church members? (click here to read more)

Good Reads 08.12.15 (on: singleness, parenting, what matters in life, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Be sure to check them out!

On the greatest things in life: See the Invisible Kingdom by Ann Voskamp

Again, today, that’s always the call: Slay the idol of the seen. Slay the idol of focusing on what can only be seen, lauded, noticed. Today, a thousand times again today, I will preach his truth to this soul prone to wander, that wants nothing more than the gracious smile of our Father: “Unseen. Things Unseen. Invest in Things Unseen. The Unexpected Priority is Always Things Unseen.” (click here to read more)

On singleness and the Christian life: 11 Ways Single Christians Enjoy their Singleness without Wasting It by David Qaoud

Being single, you probably have more free time right now than you will ever have in any other season of life. Don’t waste this time. Instead, use it wisely by spending intentional time in Scripture and prayer, serving your Church and community, growing in your career, learning new trades, reading books, building healthy friendships, and potentially serving in overseas missions. You’ll still be able to do those things if and when you get married, but you just won’t be as flexible as you are right now. So steward this time wisely. (click here to read more)

On parenting and prejudice: Parenting Our Children’s Prejudice by Zack Owens

And so, as Christian parents, it is a delight to see our children conformed to the image of their Savior — one who draws close to the rejected and brokenhearted. Jesus comes near to those who were once far off, alienated, separated, told to “sit at my feet,” and those whose very lives are discarded because they provide for us no tangible benefits. (click here to read more)

On the heart change of a doctor who used to perform abortions: What’s It Like to Abort Your Own Child? by Bethany Jenkins

We in the pro-life movement have no enemies to destroy. Our weapons are chaste weapons of the spirit: truth and love. Our task is less to defeat our opponents than to win them to the cause of life. To be sure, we must oppose the culture and politics of death resolutely and with a determination to win. But there is no one—no one—whose heart is so hard that he or she cannot be won over. Let us not lose faith in the power of our weapons to transform even the most resolute abortion advocates. (click here to read more)

On the heart of the gospel message: More than Good Advice by N. T. Wright

Over the years, I realized that many Christians have settled for a version of good advice: “You might need to say this prayer,” or “You might want to avoid certain types of behavior,” or “You might need to go to church from time to time.” Now, I’m all in favor of people saying prayers, reordering their behavior in the power of the Spirit and showing up for worship on Sunday. But that’s not good news. That’s good advice. It’s a system we plug into, rather than an event that transformed the world. (click here to read more)