Good Reads 12.06.17 (on: becoming a Christian, marriage and dementia, and more!)

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

On helping teenagers in church come to their own faith in Christ: How to Become a Christian by Bryan Elliff

The problem was that I couldn’t figure out how to become a Christian. Yes, I knew that you had to repent and believe, that the Holy Spirit had to work in you to give you new life, and that you couldn’t just pray a prayer to “get saved.” But when it came down to the actual logistics of the thing, I was in a bit of a fog. How could I get the Holy Spirit to come work in me? What would it look like for me to decisively repent? I mean, I wasn’t doing drugs or even disobeying my parents, at least not in big ways. And how could I know that I had “believed” with a genuine faith? (click here to read more)

On the temptation to compare ourselves to others while suffering: But Others Have It Worse by Tim Challies

This is our temptation in suffering, to compare it to what others have endured and to downplay our suffering in relation to theirs. “I can’t possibly complain when he has endured that much while I’ve only endured this much.” “Yes, it has been difficult, but then I think of what that other person has endured, and then who am I to complain…”

This isn’t entirely wrong, is it? Stubbing my toe doesn’t earn me the right to commiserate with someone who has lost a leg. Losing my dog doesn’t equate to losing a child. But that’s not the same as saying those things don’t matter or that they aren’t genuinely painful. That’s not the same as saying those things don’t comprise true suffering. And that’s certainly not the same as saying those things don’t matter to God. (click here to read more)

A testimony on being faithful to one’s spouse during the battle with dementia: One Man’s Story of Faithfully Loving His Wife through Early Onset Dementia by Randy Alcorn

“I love Debbie and know that she still loves and needs me, she just has lost the ability to say it most days. I have to remind myself it is not really her anymore and even though that placates my fear of the loss of our love, it deepens the fear and angst over losing her; the person. But through some mystical, spiritual, emotional bond that ties us, her rare moments of comfort and signs of affection are the purest form of medicine for my soul.” (click here to read more)

On the Christian response to those guilty of sexual assault: Sexual Assault and the Scandal of the Gospel by Trevin Wax

How then should we respond? As Christians, there should be no equivocation or excusing of inappropriate sexual advances or abuse. Lord forbid the world be clearer than the church in naming and shaming evil deeds!

The church must be unflinching in its naming of sin. And yet the church must also not shrink back from the call to repentance. Repentance is the hope-filled call of the gospel: anyone can repent and be restored. Yes, anyone can turn from sin and find forgiveness.

Herein lies the scandal of the gospel. Christians name evil for what it is. Yet we also believe that evil desires and deeds can be confessed and overcome, that sin can be forgiven, and that people can be redeemed. The church is the peculiar society that insists that certain acts the world finds praiseworthy are sinful, while certain sins the world finds unforgivable can be wiped away. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 05.04.16 (on: suffering, parenting, and more!)

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

On suffering and difficulties: 3 Things to Remember When Life is Darker than You Expected by David Qaoud

I don’t know why your life is so hard. I’m not sure why God sends so many trials your way. I have no idea when it will end. But I know this: your hardships are not because God doesn’t love you. Yes, remember the love of God in hard times. But don’t forget to also remember these three truths. (click here to read more)

On cancer and faith: What Cancer Cannot Kill by Ricky Alcantar

Around that time an unexpected and uninvited thought began surfacing at different points throughout my day: “What if I get cancer?” And there were variations of it: “What if my wife does? What about my sons? What about the rest of my family?” At times I could swat it away but other times it seemed to just sit there, unmoving, staring back at my throughout the day.

But a surprising thing happened: One day as I spent time with God and my Bible I gave in. I said, “Okay, what if it happens? What would I do?” And in that moment God met me in a surprising way. God brought to mind what I’d heard over the last year from the very people battling cancer, truths that the each held on to in different way. (click here to read more)

A series of posts on family life:

9 Marks of a Christian Family by Paul Tautges

What makes a Christian family distinct from a non-Christian one? Is it the number of times those in it attend church each week, or are there many more fundamental differences? Recently, at a parenting workshop at our church, I passed on the following outline that I had developed about fifteen years ago and have taught numerous times. You may want to use it for personal Bible study or work through it in your small group. (click here to read more)

The Two Kinds of Conversation You Need to Have with Your Children by Tim Challies

One of my most formative conversations came when my oldest child was seven or eight. I was speaking to a friend who was both older and more experienced in parenting—his oldest child was already into her late teens. The counsel this friend gave me was as simple as it gets and just about as helpful as any I’ve heard.

He told me about the various conversations you will need to have with your children as they grow and mature. Those simple and direct talks with seven-year-olds eventually give way to much deeper and more nuanced ones with seventeen-year-olds. And then he offered advice on two different ways to have such conversations. (click here to read more)

Five Awkward Conversations Every Teen Needs to Have with Their Parents by Jaquelle Crowe

Awkwardness is something we humans love to avoid. Nobody likes how it makes us feel. But for Christ-following teenagers and parents, awkwardness is an inescapable part of learning. Jesus himself could be called the master of awkward conversations. He modeled the reality that hard conversations are necessary for the sake of gospel growth. His young disciples in first-century Palestine learned this, and his young disciples in modern-day America need to learn it, too. (click here to read more)

Four Ways to Help Your Teenagers Discover Their Identity in a Confused World by John Majors

Consider the confusing path teenagers must navigate today on just one subject—their sexual identity.  Understanding sexuality is difficult enough for any adolescent, but our culture is crammed with confusing questions and messages about gender roles, peer expectations, sexting, pornography, sexual morality, homosexuality and transgenderism.  Sexual images and messages bombard us continually.

Without a doubt the teen years are some of the most confusing when it comes to understanding who you are—your identity.  But knowing what shapes your identity can make all the difference between flourishing and floundering. (click here to read more)

Good Reads 09.30.15 (on: suffering trials, seeing the best in others, and more!)

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

On God’s purpose in life’s trials: Injury Interrupted My Idolatry by Landry Fields

Through suffering, God gives us humility. When I first started getting injured, I prayed, “God, leave it up to me, and leave me alone.” Now, I pray, “Thank you, Lord, for doing this and driving me back to you.” Suffering magnifies Christ to me, and in me, and through me. I’m thankful for my injured elbow, hand, and hip, because they make me depend on God in a way that I never would have without them. (click here to read more)

On growth in a Christian’s Life: When You Feel Discouraged Over a Lack of Fruit, Remember This… by Stephen Altrogge

Serving the Lord is a slow, long-term project, and fruit is often a very long time in coming. The fruit of parenting isn’t seen in a week or a month, but over the course of years. The members of your small group will probably change over the course of five years, not six months. The fruit of your efforts in children’s ministry probably won’t show up until many years later. That’s just the way it works when it comes to serving the Lord. (click here to read more)

On how we view other people: A Glass Half Full by Tim Lane

It does no one any good to go on ferocious sin and idol hunts in one’s life or the lives of others. Not only do they not help, they can seriously hurt people. Instead, we want to begin with marks of God’s work in our own life and in the lives of others. As I met with John and Erin, I had many opportunities to help them see where God was actually powerfully working in their marriage and family. It wasn’t a completed, pretty picture, but it was a masterpiece in the making by God’s grace. Remember, if you are a Christian, you have God’s Spirit at work in your life. You can always find places where he is at work; just like John and Erin. And you can find ways that he is at work in others, too. (click here to read more)

On what to pray before reading your Bible: Four Prayers for Bible Reading by David Mathis

Prayer is a conversation, but not one we start. God speaks first. His voice sounds in the Scriptures and climactically in the person and work of his Son. Then, wonder of all wonders, he stops, he stoops, he bends his ear to listen to us. Prayer is almost too good to be true. With our eyes on God’s words, he gives us his ear, too. How then should we pray over our Bibles? (click here to read more)

On the importance of Bible reading: The Fan Club? A Parable Featuring Harry Potter by Rustin Umstattd

Let’s for a moment be honest with ourselves. There is not a single fan club in existence that is based upon a novel in which the members of that club have not read the novel or are not actively, aggressively reading through the novel. In fact, the fans of Harry Potter have read the 1,000,000 words of J.K. Rowling over and over again. They are enraptured by the story that this woman has told. Their lives have been shaped in countless ways (often unnoticed by the person) by their engagement with the story and its characters. So what does this say to us who have the Bible that is 800,000 words? You read that correctly. The Bible is shorter than Harry Potter! Why have we not read the words of God over and over again? (click here to read more)