Links for the Weekend (8/23/2019)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

I’m so glad our vows kept us

Jennie Cesario writes about her marriage and her vows and what’s like when two people are joined together over decades. It’s hard and exposing and beautiful. If you only read one of the recommended articles this week, make it this one; it’s the best writing I’ve read in quite a while.

But this is the trade-off: Our hearts are so very tender toward one another now with the long years, softened to a sweetness hard-won. I can’t imagine a context in which I’d throw a glass now or cut off my hair just to spite him. In my mind, if there are still disappointments, they are not mine but ours. Not me against him, or him against me, but the two of us pressed together. His flaws folding into my imperfections like our fingers entwined on the dance floor.

How To Be Lonely (To The Glory Of God)

Loneliness is all too common these days, both inside and outside of the church. In this article, Cole Deike directs us to Psalm 102, whose author knows deep loneliness.

The gospel, after all, is not the good news that if you believe in Jesus, you will be spared from loneliness. Loneliness discriminates against nobody. You can rip Psalm 102 out the Scriptures and sand down the edges of the cross if you wish to believe that nonsense. The gospel is better. It is the good news that if you believe in Jesus, then Christ will be present with you in your loneliness.

3 Reasons Drifting from the Faith Starts with Drifting from the Church

If the book of Hebrews is an encouragement to persevere in faith, and if one of the commands in that book is that we must not neglect to meet together (Hebrews 10:25), what does this teach us about the church? Michael Kelley gives us three reasons to help us see the importance of church to our perseverance.

We must not abandon the church if we want to persevere in the faith. We must keep going to keep ourselves going. The church is God’s gift to us – each one of us – not so that we have a perfect experience there, but because we are weak, and we really do need the help.


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

Links for the Weekend (8/16/2019)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

The Commuter Bible Podcast

If you’re looking to spend more time in the Bible, consider the Commuter Bible podcast, created by John Ross. Each episode is around 30 minutes long, perfect for a commute, a workout, or chores around the house or office. Released on weekdays (and excluding official U.S. holidays), over the course of a year you’ll listen to the entire Bible (CSB translation).

Overcoming the Fear of Evangelism

Juan Sanchez knows that evangelism is easy for some and difficult for many. He takes Jesus’s promises in the Great Commission (that he is with us and he is sovereign) and helpfully traces out the implications for different situations that call for us to share the gospel.

You see, because Jesus is with us and because He is sovereign over all things (including salvation), we can share the gospel courageously and confidently. Christ will build His church, and we need not fear what man may do to us.

Is It True That God “Loves the Sinner but Hates the Sin”?

In this brief video, Stephen Nichols looks at the biblical evidence for this common phrase. He concludes that we don’t do sinners any favors by trying to downplay the wrath of God.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called Grandparents, We Need You! If you haven’t already seen it, check it out!


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

Grandparents, We Need You!

As I was leaving a restaurant recently, I walked past a booth where an older man was sitting with a young girl. (I assume this was his preteen granddaughter.) The girl put on headphones and played with her phone while the man sipped his coffee and looked off sadly in the distance.

This stuck with me all day. I couldn’t imagine a breakfast without conversation, especially with my grandfather! What a tragedy.

Abundant Opportunity

Though this was a sad scene, I was not entirely discouraged. I mourned for this man, but then I turned the scene around in my head. What is the best outcome of such a meal?

Grandparents carry tremendous influence with their grandchildren. Here are three ways I’m praying my kids learn from their grandparents.

1. Learn Through Conversation

Many children are eager to talk about themselves but unable to focus on others. Outside of immediate family and school friends, they aren’t great at communication.

Meanwhile, grandparents love spending time with their grandchildren, and they’re delighted to play games, go to the park, or chat over cookies. Your kids can learn valuable lessons during these visits.

Train your children to interact with older adults. Teach them how to ask questions (and follow-up questions), how to listen, and how to take interest in others.

In addition to growing in conversational and social skills, children will learn more about their family. They can hear about their grandparents’ jobs, families, and adventures, and they might even see their parents in a new light.

In grandparents, children have an eager, loving, attentive audience. We can bless both our children and our parents by encouraging these visits.

2. Learn Through Experience

Godly grandparents have a precious heritage to pass along. A lifetime of walking with God, learning from him, and seeing his work—these are all gifts for younger generations.

Older Christians often have moving stories of God’s redemption and provision. They have seen his love displayed in ways that come only with decades of faithfulness. These stories display in vibrant color some of God’s attributes that might only exist in black and white for children.

As children hear testimonies of God’s goodness, they grow in their faith. When we learn how God has worked and provided in the past, we gain confidence that God will work and provide in the future.

3. Learn Through Example

While children are at the beginning of life, grandparents are closer to the end. One of the best gifts grandparents can give is to show how to age, weaken, and die with a joyful hope in Jesus.

That took a dark turn, didn’t it? Stay with me.

Most children are insulated from the hard realities of the Fall. We prepare them for school and jobs, for a spouse and a church, but we don’t talk much about sickness, weakness, and frailty. However, death is more sure than a spouse is. Our children need to know how to die.

Children shouldn’t develop a fascination with the grave, but thinking about death brings our faith into sharp focus. We see what really matters.

As grandparents age, they can show their grandchildren the greatness of God and the liberating salvation Jesus has won. As their bodies ache, as moving and breathing become more difficult, they can guide children to the true source of hope.

It’s easy for children to focus on the latest toy, the approval of friends, or the perfect science project. In the end, these are all meaningless. With a steady gaze at the glory of God, grandparents can display the power and grace of God to save and love sinners. Toward the end of life, grandparents can point to God in ways that peers, teachers, and even parents cannot.

Look Ahead

Parents, if your parents (or parents-in-law) are no longer around, don’t despair. Most churches are full of godly men and women who love children. They would jump at the chance to visit with your family once a month.

Finally, by God’s grace, let’s be the older Christians we seek for our kids. Let’s pursue God with all that we have so he can use us to influence generations to come.

Post credit | Picture credit

Links for the Weekend (8/9/2019)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

Make Sunday Mornings Uncomfortable

In this excellent article, Rebecca McLaughlin describes the three “rules” she and her husband keep in mind on Sunday mornings. These guidelines focus on welcoming those visiting their church for the first time, especially when a visitor might not be a Christian. I love this perspective, because it urges us to take risks and underscores how important community and connection are for everyone who is considering the Christian faith.

This was one of many opportunities my husband Bryan and I have had to connect with not-yet-Christians inside our church building. We have very little else in common. I’m an extrovert; he’s an introvert. I’m from England; he’s from Oklahoma. I’m into literature; he’s an engineer. But God drew us together around a shared sense of mission, and Bryan recently expressed that mission in three rules of engagement at church. These rules make our Sundays less comfortable, but more rewarding. If you’re tired of comfortable, you might want to give them a try!

Three Cautions and Encouragements for Dads

Dustin Crowe writes a good word for fathers. He reminds us how our words, actions, and attitudes should reflect our heavenly father when we interact with our children. I think all parents will be able to relate to the story that sparked his reflection.

When my daughter delayed getting our tent set up, I was more concerned about finishing the job and creating a great experience than I was about her. The idol of my plan ended up keeping me from loving my daughter well. That’s what idols do. They ruin and rob the things we hope for.

El Paso, Dayton, and Gilroy

After recent mass shootings, the public conversation about these tragedies becomes political all too quickly. John Stonestreet urges us not to point fingers at sin out there, but to look in here as well.

Yet, we wonder how lonely young men without meaning or moral formation or fathers, who have no way to fulfill their pornographic-fueled fantasies, but have access to plenty of self-medication options, could be driven to white-supremacist or progressive extremism.  We need to ask what it is about our culture that’s producing these young men bent on killing and chaos. And we need to ask: Where is the church?

Thanks to Cliff L for his help in rounding up links this week.


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

Links for the Weekend (8/2/2019)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

Christianity’s Best-Kept Secret

How’s that for a title? Tim Savage contends that while Christians think a lot about Christ in the past (forgiven sins) and the future (the coming of heaven), we don’t think enough about Christ in the present. This article helps to explain the wonderful phrase “Christ in you.”

As Christians, we’re organically linked to Christ at the deepest level. The apostle Paul makes the point repeatedly in a simple but easily overlooked prepositional phrase. No less than 164 times, Paul refers to Christians as people “in Christ” or “in him” or “in God” or “in the Lord.” It’s a tantalizing phrase, with thrilling implications for the lives of Christians.

4 Promises to Christians about the Resurrected Body

What does the Bible say about our future resurrected bodies? Colin Smith takes us on a tour of important Scriptural truths.

The new earth will be better than the earth we have now. The resurrection body will be better than the body you have now. And you will have forever to savor the pleasures that God has in store for you.

The Gospel in Psalms

Jesus told us in Luke 24 that all Scripture pointed to him. This is easier to see in some parts of the Bible than others. In this post, Bruce Ware and George Robertson show us how to read Psalms with Jesus always in mind.

Reading the Psalms mindful of Jesus is not a clever way to read this book of the Bible, nor is it one way to do so among others. It is the way. A gospel-lens to reading the Psalms is how Jesus himself teaches us to read them. As you read this portion of God’s Word, make these prayers to God your own, and consider the ways these Psalms are good news to us—expressing the full range of our emotions, and ultimately bringing our minds to rest on the finished work of Christ on behalf of sinners.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called How to Resist Sins of Conformity. If you haven’t already seen it, check it out!


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

How to Resist Sins of Conformity

We’ve all been there. You’re cruising on the interstate and you take a casual glance at your speedometer. Whoa—you were NOT prepared for that!

How did this happen?

You were in the flow of traffic, going along with the crowd. Your speeding probably won’t lead to a ticket, but any police officer who stopped you would be justified. You were flat-out guilty.

What is a Sin of Conformity?

Many sins in our lives follow this pattern. We get swept along in the tide and can’t believe what we’ve done. We’re always responsible for our actions, but sometimes social pressure tempts us in powerful ways.

Sins of conformity happen when, because of the pressure to fit in, you adopt the sinful action or inaction of a group. Active sins in this category include gossip, coarse language, and spending above your means. (This is just a sample.) Sins of omission show up too—prayerlessness, failing to care for the poor, and failing to evangelize can be epidemic in churches.

An Incremental Slide

With good intentions, how can we end up with such rotten behavior?

The answer, as always, is our hearts. Though a Christian’s heart is being transformed by God, the old man lurks. He tempts us with empty promises and false treasures.

Most people crave the approval and acceptance of their peers. To secure this love, we adopt the practices, preferences, and values of our social group.

This happens by increments. Few people wake up one morning determined to gossip about a coworker. But after weeks of indulging office chatter, we slide from tolerating to agreeing with to participating in the sin.

Waking Up

In his mercy, God alerts us to sins of conformity in one of three ways.

Sometimes, God convicts us supernaturally. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the damage we’re doing to ourselves and others.

Other times we see a righteous example. A “slow” car in our lane obeys the speed limit, or an officemate speaks up for the slandered.

Finally, we might be confronted with our sin. A godly friend rebukes us for inappropriate joking or an audit uncovers dishonest use of money at work. Though it might seem severe, God can use the consequences of our sin to bring us to repentance.

Gospel Power

Even when you’re convicted about a sin of conformity, it can be hard to stop. Refusing the sin means resisting the social pressure that makes the temptation powerful. How will you handle upsetting the group?

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the key. We all want to be liked and included, and if you’re a Christian, you are! You are a child of God, eternally a member of his family. Because Jesus was excluded for a time on the cross, you are loved and welcomed in the best way imaginable. Though your repentance may displease your friends, be confident that God is pleased with you. All the favor and approval you want from other people, you have in your sovereign, loving, heavenly father.

Avoiding These Sins

Though we think of peer pressure mostly for adolescents, sins of conformity are present in all social groups. Repenting of these sins is one matter, but how can we avoid them?

  1. Pray. Pray that God will sharpen your conscience and make you aware of your weaknesses, your temptations, and the group pressures you face. Pray for the Spirit’s help to stand firm in the gospel.
  2. Read the Bible. The Scriptures replace the loud, urgent messages of our peers with the eternal truths of God’s law and his love.
  3. Nurture close friendships. You need at least one person in your life who can—and will—ask you anything. He knows your struggles and tendencies, and you can talk honestly with him about your wider social circles. Sin is deceptive, so we must have devoted friends with whom we speak regularly and deeply about the most important things in life.

Post credit | Picture credit

Links for the Weekend (7/26/2019)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

Mothers in the Church

Jen Wilkin has written an outstanding piece on spiritual motherhood. It’s worth a read by everyone, not just by women. Spiritual infants need spiritual mothers, and all women can leave a legacy of spiritual descendants.

But a motherless church is as tragic as a motherless home. Guiding the spiritually young to maturity is not solely the job of the vocational pastor, the elder, or the Sunday school teacher. The church needs mothers to care for the family of God. We must rise to our responsibility, eagerly searching for whom the Lord would have us nurture. There is no barrenness among believing women. Through the gospel, all become mothers in their maturity. And unlike biological motherhood, spiritual motherhood holds the potential for hundreds, even thousands of descendants.

The Most Radical Mission for Christians May Be the Most Mundane

For many Christians, the thought of foreign missions is much more compelling and attractive than loving our neighbors down the street. Brett McCracken writes about the beauty of committing to and serving in a local church, even if there are fewer exotic stories that result.

Why is it easier for us to go to the other side of the world than it is to go across the street to talk to our neighbors about Jesus? It’s uncomfortable to share our faith with people in our immediate context because, well, we have to continue to do life with them and it may get awkward if we bring up Jesus. Plus it is sometimes easier to care for the soul of the foreigner who we don’t know than the proven heathen that we do.

Study the Bible for the Sake of Others

Evangelism is rarely about a one-time, thirty-minute conversation. Using the story of Philip in Acts 8, Kelly Minter writes about how our personal study and learning from the Scriptures prepares us to share the gospel with others.

So here are the two challenges this passage confronts us with: First, we must be willing to step into some chariots and sit alongside people who can’t make sense of life, much less the Bible (assuming we’ve been invited in). Second, we must be studying God’s Word diligently, learning from good teachers about His whole counsel, so that when we do have opportunities with those seeking to understand, we can engage them with the whole story instead of leaving them with a presentation.

Thanks to Maggie A for her help in rounding up links this week.


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

Links for the Weekend (7/19/2019)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

Embracing the Good in ‘Goodbye’

On this side of heaven, saying “goodbye” is a sad inevitability. It happens whenever God calls his people to a different earthly location. But when people we love move away, or when we are the ones moving, there is often profound grief knocking at our doors. Heidi Carlson helps us handle goodbyes as Christians.

Whatever the circumstances of the parting, grief is a close companion of goodbye. God created us for community, and when physical separation breaks our community, we grieve. We long for togetherness. As I tell my children and remind myself, it’s okay to cry at goodbyes. As believers, we stand in a long line of the faithful who have grieved at a departure. However, we grieve with the hope and knowledge that eternal togetherness is certain.

Living in the Bodies We Have and not the Ones We Don’t

Lore Ferguson Wilbert wrote a beautiful reflection on living in a body that is both wonderfully made by God and yet profoundly affected by brokenness. She has spent the last year writing a book on the topic, and this is a meditation on submitting to the bodies we have, not the bodies we want.

I have spent nearly 40 years trying to be the body I am not. I remember with startling clarity the moments I began to look for another body: the words a friend’s mother said about my pubescent body, the comment from the preteen girl with the perfect nose and teeth, the jovial jokes my family made about our genetic disposition (male and female) for sturdy thighs—these all took my eyes away from the fearfully and wonderfully made creation of the body God gave me and put my eyes on the impossible pursuit of the bodies God gave others. I worshipped the form I couldn’t have. I became a slave to the body I wanted, counting calories, straightening my hair, trying every new diet with a hashtag and eliminating every food group one at a time.

10 Things You Should Know about Reformed Theology

The phrase “Reformed theology” broadly describes the theological framework to which our church subscribes. What does that mean? If you’re new to Reformed theology, or if you’d just like an overview, check out this post at the Crossway blog from Paul Smalley and Joel Beeke.

God-centered teaching calls us to God-centered living. The Word aims to inculcate the wisdom of God’s Word through faith in Christ (2 Tim. 3:15), and the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord (Prov. 9:10). Though it is possible to do theology in a spiritually arid, merely intellectual manner, Reformed theology has historically aimed at the same Paul had in his teaching: “love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5).

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published The Sad Song of Samson, by Zachary Wisniewski. Check it out!

Thanks to Maggie A and Phil A for their help in rounding up links this week.


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

Links for the Weekend (7/12/2019)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

What Is Union With Christ?

Here is a helpful overview of this crucial doctrine, written by Cale Fauver at For The Church.

Scottish theologian Sinclair Ferguson once wrote that, “[union with Christ is] a doctrine which lies at the heart of the Christian life.” If there was ever a doctrine taught so profoundly in the Scriptures that believers must better see and adore, it is their union with Christ.

An $8.2 Million Judgment, Over $8.2 Million in Royalties Given Away, and God’s Sovereign Grace in Your Life and Mine

Randy Alcorn writes an account of his ministry, his legal troubles, and his salary (trust me, it’s relevant). It’s a wonderful testimony to God’s grace.

I stood before a judge in Portland and told him I would pay anything I owed to anyone else, but I could not in good conscience willingly hand over money to people who would use it to kill babies. I explained to the court and the media and all who were there the human rights of the unborn children, and the established history of civil disobedience to defend human rights.

Jesus and Nicodemus

Here is a sermon recommended by Phil Amaismeier. It is a sermon by James Montgomery Boice from John 3, which appeared on The Bible Study Hour. Phil said that he “found great encouragement about how the reading and teaching from the Bible is used by the Holy Spirit, and how John’s conversation with Nicodemus in John 3 emphasizes that very fact.” Check it out!

Thanks to Phil A for his help in rounding up links this week.


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

Links for the Weekend (7/5/2019)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

Do I Need to Love Myself More?

Does the second greatest commandment (“Love your neighbor as you love yourself”) mean that we need to focus on loving ourselves? John Piper tackles this question in another episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast.

He’s referring to the fact that all of us have an inborn instinct, or reflex, to seek our own happiness and to avoid harm. In other words, our self-love that Jesus assumes in this commandment is our desire for happiness or our desire to minimize our unhappiness.

Touch

This article from Stephen McAlpine is so beautiful that I almost hate to describe it for fear that I’ll diminish it somehow by my description. Let me just say that he reflects on the power of human and divine touch in a simple and captivating way.

We love touch. We long for it. And there’s something biblical about its healing capacity. God forms everything but humanity with Word, but when it comes to us, the image is of hands shaping and moulding. And then there’s the deeply intimate act of God breathing the breath of life in the nostrils of the man.

A Dynamite Sermon

Pastor Waltermyer spent several days recently in Dallas, Texas for the PCA’s General Assembly. He told me that the sermon preached on Thursday night was one of the best he’s ever heard. The sermon was given by David Cassidy and was entitled “A Brief History of the Future.” You can find a video of the entire worship service here, and the sermon begins at 1:14:45. I’ve also tried to embed the video below.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published Where Our Gaze Lands, by Erica Goehring. Check it out!


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here.