Good Reads 11.22.17 (on: thanksgiving, prayer, and more!)

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

On Thanksgiving:

The Scientific Connection Between Gratitude and Happiness by David Murray

Thanksgiving is much more than saying “Thank you” for a present or benefit we’ve received. The world’s most prominent researcher and writer about gratitude, Robert Emmons, said it is “a felt sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life.”

We can boost gratitude in our lives by intensifying the feeling of it for each positive event, by increasing the frequency of it throughout the day, by expanding the number of things we’re grateful for, and by expressing gratitude to more people. But the most effective multiplier of gratitude, said Emmons, is humility: “At the cornerstone of gratitude is the notion of undeserved merit. The grateful person recognizes that he or she did nothing to deserve the gift or benefit; it was freely bestowed.” (click here to read more)

Blessed Even in the Worst by Nancy Guthrie

These words were not given for Israel’s priests to use to ask God for his blessing, leaving them to wonder whether or not God would give it. Rather, God took the initiative to assure his people of his settled intention to bless them. He seemed to want to make it clear that he intended to be personally involved in their lives as the source of all the goodness they would enjoy.

So the first thing we learn from this blessing is that God is the source of every blessing in our lives. He blesses us by keeping us secure, extending his grace, and flooding our lives with his healing and wholeness. He is fully engaged, fully determined, and fully able to fill our lives with the security, grace, and peace we all long for. (click here to read more)

On prayer and salvation: 18 Prayers to Pray for Unbelievers by Tim Challies

A friend asked the question: How do I pray for unbelievers? How do I pray effectively? I trust that every Christian regularly prays for family or friends or colleagues or neighbors who do not yet know the Lord. And while we can and must pray for matters related to their lives and circumstances, the emphasis of our prayers must always be for their salvation. Here are some ways the Bible can guide our prayers… (click here to read more)

On the cultural oddity of Christianity: The Early Christians Were Odd, Too by Michael Kruger

A fundamental aspect of early Christian worship was its exclusivity. Only Jesus was to be worshiped. Whatever other religious loyalties one possessed before coming to Christ, they had to be abandoned and full devotion given to Jesus the King.

One might think the Roman state wouldn’t care about private worship practices. They cared because the Roman government didn’t view religion as private.

To be a good citizen, your duty was to pay homage to the Roman gods who kept the empire prosperous and flourishing. To refuse to worship the gods wasn’t only socially rude (Christians were viewed as sanctimonious), but it risked invoking the gods’ displeasure.

Thus, Christians’ refusal to participate in the broader Roman worship caused them to be viewed as reckless and callous to the welfare of their fellow man. Indeed, they were called “haters of humanity” (Tacitus, Annals 15.44). As a result, they often suffered serious persecution. (click here to read more)

Sunday 11.12.17 (mutual encouragement)

This Sunday we’ll take a look at 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13 and how a church and its leaders are meant to mutually encourage one another in their faith. Then stick around and join us for our annual Thanksgiving dinner following morning worship. We hope to see you there!

@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@Noon Thanksgiving Dinner
@6pm Scripture and Authority video study

Sermon Notes
Mutual Encouragement ~ 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13

  • Encourage your church leaders by being a cause of joy for them (3:6-9)
    • Churches should bring joy to their leaders, and that is a great advantage for you (3:9)
    • Ways to cause joy include:
      • Be committed to your faith in Jesus (3:6-8)
      • Be devoted to loving others (3:6)
      • Be eager for fellowship—the sharing of your life with others (3:6)
  • Be encouraged by your leaders’ care for you (3:10-13)
    • Leaders show their care as they:
    • Pray for you (3:10-13)
    • Help you grow in your faith (3:10)
    • Fellowship with you (3:10-11)

1 thessalonians

Songs for Worship
This is the Day
Step by Step
Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
In Christ Alone
Brethren, We Have Met to Worship

Image taken and modified with permission from

Sunday 11.27.16 (the Jesus-centered life)

This Sunday we’ll take a look at Psalm 127 and see how following Jesus impacts our work, rest, and family. Then Sunday night at 7pm, we’ll gather with other churches from town at Adrian Christian Church for the annual Ministerial Alliance Thanksgiving Community Worship Service. We hope to see you there!

@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@7pm Thanksgiving Service at Adrian Christian Church

Sermon Notes
The Jesus-Centered Life ~ Psalm 127

  • Jesus and work (127:1-2)
    • Work for God (in whatever you do, 127:1)
    • Work without worry (127:2)
  • Jesus and rest (127:2)
    • Work hard and rest well
    • God gave rest by design, decree, and example
  • Jesus and family (127:1, 3-5)
    • See family as a blessing from God (127:3-5)
    • Keep your family focused on God (127:1), by: fearing God, loving each other, teaching and training, and correcting and disciplining

Good Reads 11.23.16 (on thanksgiving, prayer, and church)

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

On Thanksgiving: Look Through the Lens of Thanksgiving by Vaneetha Rendall Risner

Counting my blessings may be arduous at first, an act of taxing obedience rather than an overflow of joy, but in the end it opens up space in my heart. When I choose to focus on what I have been given, rather than linger over what I’m missing, I feel happier. More content. Less agitated.

And when I choose to face my miseries directly and find blessings in them, something miraculous happens. I view all of life differently. I see my circumstances through a lens of faith. And I am able to declare with confidence that, even in the worst of circumstances, God is still good and there is much to be thankful for. (click here to read more)

On the individual and the church: You Are Not the Church by Matt Moore

The communal aspect of the Christian life is, according to Jesus and his apostles, indispensable. We cannot grow and persevere without it. God could have infused into each one of us all the gifts and graces necessary to reach “mature manhood” in Christ (Ephesians 4: 13). But he didn’t. Instead, he chose to endow each of us with particular gifts and graces (Romans 12:4) so that our spiritual maturation would occur as we exercise them in a communal context. When we gather together for the purposes of worship, fellowship, and discipleship, our individual, God-given roles and functions merge and work together to build up the whole body in the love and knowledge of Jesus. (click here to read more)

Two articles on prayer:

Twelve Ways to Pray for Yourself Everyday by David Qaoud

What people see of me is the exterior. This is important — but it’s not enough. I can seem impressive in public, yet remain sinful in private. And when we talk about holiness, we often only talk about the “big things” like not killing people, and staying faithful to your spouse. But holiness is much more than that. It includes the thousand little, overlooked things of life that no one else knows about. I pray that I can honor the Lord in these things. (click here to read more)

The Challenge of Praying with Your Spouse by Melissa Edgington

It’s hard to be annoyed or upset with someone who is praying for you. It’s hard to hold grudges or unforgiveness in your heart when you are praying for someone.  Praying together has made me want to live up to the desires that we express with each other before God: Help us to love each other well. When we pray in these ways, the Holy Spirit really does show us where we can improve, where we can lose the attitude, and as a result, we find that we are going out of our way to help each other. We’re taking the time to say thank you. We’re stopping to recognize what a blessing our marriage is. (click here to read more)

What joy! (a meditation)

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving. We always risk the danger of being distracted with football and Black Friday savings, but if we slow down and ponder the things we should be thankful for, then we will understand the true meaning and develop a great joy.

In Psalm 126, the psalmist looked back upon the return of God’s people from exile, and wrote:

When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream! We were filled with laughter and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, “What amazing things the Lord has done for them.” Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy! (126:1-3)

This rush of joy should be the same feeling we get when we think of our salvation in Jesus. Our sin had trapped us in a spiritual exile with little hope of escaping the darkness. Then, by giving us Jesus, God pulled us out of hopelessness. Like a wonderful dream, the Righteous King gave himself from sheer mercy and love and brought us into his people and his eternal land.

Our sins forgiven and our eternal hope secured—what laughter it should cause and what songs of joy should be sung!

When we ponder such salvation, our hearts should surge with thanksgiving. More than for food, more than for social freedoms, and more than for family, our minds should be overwhelmed with gratefulness for what God has done for us in Jesus.

As we let our hearts be thankful for salvation and we let joy fill our minds over what God has done, then we can be properly thankful for other good things, other evidences of God’s grace in our lives. Then, when the world sees our thankfulness and joy, they will see that God has indeed done great things for us.

Joy is a witness. Thankfulness points beyond ourselves. We acknowledge a greater Giver, a greater Rescuer, a greater King. This points others to the same source of hope and we can sing along as one voice: “Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy!”

This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.

Good Reads 09.28.16 (on: reputations, thankfulness, and more!)

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

On our reputations: Christ Our All: Image Maintenance in an Age of Emojis by Owen Strachan

This does not preclude any response to critics. At times, one must speak up. There are real falsehoods that deserve a response. But we will never be able to undo opposition in a total and final sense by our own strength. Important as it is for us to engage in select discussion, there simply is no ultimate vindication of ourselves we can accomplish. Only Jesus can clear our name. Only Jesus can overcome our enemies. Only Jesus can quiet hate, and destroy evil, and right every wrong ever done to his people (and every wrong we ourselves have done, sadly). (click here to read more)

On being thankful: Lay Aside the Weight of Thanklessness by Jon Bloom

In parents like these, we see an image of God’s heart for us. God does not command and exhort us to thank him because he loves to hear the “magic words” or watch us perform a mere divine courtesy. He’s after our spiritual health and prosperity. He does not want us to be spiritually sick and poor. He tells us that thanklessness is a sign of unbelief (Romans 1:21). But thankfulness is a sign of faith, evidence that we really see his grace and feel its effects. That’s what he wants for us. (click here to read more)

On praying for pastors: Top 10 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor by Michelle Leslie

Does your pastor have time to get alone with the Lord for his personal relationship with Christ? Maybe he’s struggling against a particular sin or striving to be more committed to prayer. Pray that God will grow your pastor in Christ as an individual. (click here to read more)

On church and helping people see the awesomeness of God: They Unchurched the Church by Erik Raymond

As the discussion went on I was able to figure out why he had so thoughtfully engaged with this experience. He went to church looking for something. You might say he was a seeker. In his case, he was truly seeking to learn about God. He wanted to see how Christians worshiped. But notice the painful irony: the church in its effort to be relevant to the unchurched was actually irrelevant to this seeker. They had unwittingly unchurched the church. At the time of his visit my friend wanted answers to some important (and extremely relevant) questions he had. He went to what seemed like the right place—a Christian church with a lot of people. However, what he found was a ecclesiological Potemkin village. This church’s unhealthy quest relevance led them to a startling place of irrelevance. (click here to read more)