Links for the Weekend (2/14/2020)

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

A New Year’s Resolution: Don’t Try to Be With It

At the end of 2019, Kevin DeYoung wrote an article about the trivial nature of so much of the media we consume. Without being a scold, he urges us toward contentment in not keeping up with every last thing.

It can be scary to detach, even a little bit, from the screams of social media, Netflix, and cable news. But let’s not mistake knowledge for wisdom, or a multimedia platform for kingdom usefulness. There is no way to possibly stay with it, so why bother? Look out the window. Put down the phone. Lose touch with pop culture and reconnect with God. If you get to the end of 2020 and can’t recall any of the big style stories from CNN, don’t fret: in a few minutes no one else with either. 

The One Life Dream That Makes a Girl Blush

Here’s a wonderful article on the high calling of marriage and motherhood and how sad it is when young women feel ashamed to desire such a calling.

I wish we loved the strength it takes for a woman to become a wife and a mother. We marvel at her physical strength when she births a child. But we forget what invisible strength she shows when she lays down her life for her home every day after that.  

5 Necessities for Engaging Skeptics with the Gospel

This article is geared slightly toward preachers, but there is a lot here for the rest of us to learn as well. How can we engage skeptics with the gospel?

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called The Bible is for Everyone. 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. 

The Bible is for Everyone

There are more Bibles in print today than ever. We have dozens of English Bible translations and scores of Bible apps. The number of ways to listen, stream, and download the Bible would amaze our parents in the faith.

And yet, some think the Bible is exclusive and elite. That it is aimed at a narrow strip of humanity.

Brethren, this should not be. The Bible is for everyone.

It is not just for pastors and ministers, not just for the ordained. It is not just for missionaries or evangelists or worship leaders. It is not just for elders, deacons, or Bible study leaders. It is not just for those in vocational ministry.

The Bible is not just for independent adults. It is not just for the employed or the wealthy or the powerful. It is not just for those who speak loudly into the world and influence others. It is not just for the educated.

The Bible is not only for those who already know it. It is not a private club with a secret handshake. It is not only for church members, not only for the theologically astute, not only for people who can turn to Amos without consulting the table of contents.

The Bible is not for a select, respectable few, because Jesus did not come for a select, respectable few.

With the drama and force of a thousand neon arrows, the Bible points to Jesus. And since Jesus invites everyone to come to him, the Bible is for everyone.

The Bible is for those who don’t know Chronicles from Corinthians. It’s for those who have never been to church, who don’t what “theology” means.

The Bible is for babies, children, teens, and the elderly. It is for the jobless and the retired. It is for the poor and helpless, the weak and the overlooked. The Bible is for grade-school dropouts and those with mental challenges.

The Bible is for regular, normal Christians. And it is also for the curious, the doubting, and the disenchanted.

The Bible is for you. And the Bible is for your neighbor.

Regardless of your achievements, bank account, or any status in anyone’s eyes—good or bad—the Bible is for you. And God invites you to read, listen to, study, and memorize the Bible so that you might know him through his son Jesus.

So grab a Bible, grab a neighbor, and take up this remarkable, unique book that is written for all people. Let’s dig in.

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Links for the Weekend (2/7/2020)

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

6 Tips for Reading Your Bible Amidst Your Busy Life

At LifeWay, Jamie Ivey writes about the value of reading the Bible in the midst of a busy life. She shares some practices that have helped her read the Word when she can.

On the long list of things that were far different than I expected in motherhood was my morning quiet time. I learned that “morning” is defined differently by children, and so is “quiet time”! I quickly discovered that I was going to have to make some changes in order to spend quality time with the Lord. Here are some things that worked for me and some that worked for other mama friends of mine.

Plants and Pillars, Sun and Moon, Sons and Daughters, One Glory and Another

Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and all older church members know we should be praying for our children. And while there are many way we should pray the same things for boys and girls, Abigail Dodds urges us to consider the specific ways to pray for each of them.

Is it wrong to ask God to make my daughters full-grown plants? Of course not. Metaphors are useful in a hundred ways. I often pray God would make each of our children oaks of righteousness. But, I do believe that anyone who wants to turn Christian discipleship into a system by which all disciples are interchangeable, invariably makes the church invariable––that is to say, exactly what she is not and mustn’t ever be, for in so doing she would cease to be what she is. Christ’s body cannot be one million opposable thumbs. It must not be ten thousand eyes. It cannot function as all left feet.

Let Not Food Destroy the Body

Food can (and often does) bring the body of Christ together. But, sadly, food can also divide. In this article, Stacy Reaoch writes about what it means to glorify God with your approach to food.

Food is a good gift from God, as long as we are not consumed with our diets and menu plans. Sharing a meal with our neighbors or meeting a friend for coffee provides an atmosphere where hearts are shared over a table. When babies are born, or a friend is sick, food is delivered to help ease the burdens of the one in need. Food provides opportunities for outreach as we host ice-cream socials in our backyard or hand out apple cider on Halloween.


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 (1/31/2020)

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

Lies That Keep Women from the Word

Here is a very helpful (and convicting) article at Desiring God about the reasons why we don’t read the Bible. Despite the title, there is very little in this article that is only for women.

Why, then, does the very fundamental practice of reading the word of God fall so badly by the wayside for many Christians? Because when it comes down to it, we don’t think it actually matters. If we did, this practice would not be the monumental struggle it is for so many women — women who are drinking coffee, wearing clothing, organizing offices, feeding themselves and others, coordinating all manner of activities, throwing birthday parties, and thinking ahead on Christmas. In short, women who have the time and intelligence to do the things that they prioritize and believe matter. 

Fasting Isn’t for the Spiritually Elite. It’s for the Hurting.

This article includes answers to the when, why, and what questions surrounding fasting.

So we fast because of our sin and the toll it takes on others. We fast because as long as we’re breathing, our sanctification is not yet complete. We fast because natural disasters ravage the world. We fast because people die of starvation and thirst, lacking the necessities of life. We fast when cancer tears through our bodies or those of our loved ones. We fast because the entire cosmos is groaning for redemption. We fast because Christ has not yet completed the work he began in a manger.  

Your Kids Need You to Talk to Them

Children, like every one of us, mature through conversations with the people around them. In this Crossway article, William P. Smith reminds us of the value of conversation in our lives and encourages parents to make this a priority with their children.

By God’s intent, we enter life knowing nothing, then are slowly brought to understand our world and our place within it through the very ordinary medium of people talking to us. With their help, over time, we mature into contributing, responsible members of society who in turn can support and nurture others. Oddly enough God entrusts our development to people who once were more ignorant than they are now, which in my son’s case means me for the foreseeable future.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article written by Sarah Wisniewski called Who Should Read Proverbs 31. 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. 

Who Should Read Proverbs 31

“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” So begins the description of the Proverbs 31 woman, familiar to Christian women and girls as the pinnacle of biblical womanhood.

Except—Proverbs 31 is not addressed to women.

In a 2018 article for Fathom Magazine, The Proverbs 31 Husband, Rachel Darnall points out that the entire chapter, including the passage about women, is addressed from King Lemuel’s mother to Lemuel himself, instructing him how to be a good man and a good king.

“The instruction at the conclusion is not ‘See that your wife conducts herself this way’ or ‘Find such a woman,’” Darnall writes. “The only direct instruction in the excellent wife discourse is this: ‘Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates’ (Proverbs 31:30–31).”

Freedom from Poor Applications

Redirected to a male audience, the exhortation in the excellent wife discourse shifts from “Women, do these things to be considered good” to “Men, value these qualities in women.” 

This frees women from some stifling misapplications. Proverbs 31 is neither an instruction manual to women nor a scorecard of their worth. It doesn’t teach women how to be good enough to earn a husband, respect, or acceptance by God.

Ladies and gentlemen, I can sew on a button, but I will never “make linen garments and sell them” (Proverbs 31:24). Will I never be an excellent wife?

Such misapplications create a false correlation between the perceived quality of a woman and the level of respect she deserves. If the excellent wife is to be praised in the gates (Proverbs 31:31), is the sub-par wife to be shamed in her home?

A woman’s worth is found in being created in the image of God: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).

The world tells us a woman’s worth is in her beauty, her career, her number of sexual partners, her health, or her popularity on social media. The church community has its own false standards: At various stages of life, women earn worth through being married, bearing children, virginity, homeschooling, teaching Sunday school, or having the best dish at the potluck. These are lies. Women, you are valuable and worthy of respect because you were crafted by God’s hand, a reflection of his own image. 

If she is a sister in Christ, a woman’s worth is further grounded in having been “bought with a price” and adopted by God as a “fellow heir with Christ” (I Corinthians 6:20, Romans 8:17). The death and resurrection of Jesus makes her more than “good enough,” and no amount of weaving, vineyard planting, or purple dyeing can strengthen or weaken that.

The Value of the Excellent Wife

“She is more precious than jewels” is a statement of value. If every woman has inherent worth given by God, then what makes the excellent wife so valuable? King Lemuel’s mom answers: “a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).

The specific activities listed, such as planting vineyards or weaving cloth, point beyond their cultural context to godly qualities. We have many gifted seamstresses in our church. I’m sorry ladies; quilting is not a fruit of the Spirit. But your generosity in sharing your talent absolutely is!

Take, for example, verse 14: “She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.” This woman shows wisdom as well as care for her family by planning ahead, shopping around, maybe ordering in bulk, to steward her family’s resources well.  

Or consider Proverbs 31:16: “She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” This woman demonstrates initiative, commitment, and follow-through. She not only makes a savvy purchase, but she also capitalizes on her investment by launching a business that requires her continued oversight, in order to generate revenue for her household. 

The traits in Proverbs 31 are elsewhere in Scripture addressed to all believers, not just women. Paul encourages industriousness (2 Thessalonians 3:10-11); James urges us to seek wisdom (James 1:5). Jesus in the Gospels “opens [his] hand to the poor and reaches out [his] hands to the needy” (Proverbs 31:20).

What God declares valuable in women is the same thing that is valuable in men: godly character.

Proverbs 31 is for You 

Understanding this passage as a meditation on excellence rather than a list of instructions opens applications for every reader.

As Darnall points out, the direct instruction in the passage is to husbands, to notice and praise these qualities in their wives. She explores more applications within marriage in her article.

Single men seeking wives should use these qualities when considering a third date.

Women do well to dwell on what God has labeled excellent and pursue these qualities.

Anyone who knows at least one woman should encourage these qualities in the women around them. When water cooler talk turns to women, men can direct their conversation toward recognizing these qualities in their female peers. Those in leadership may entrust greater responsibility to women who show these qualities. Married women can commend these qualities in their single friends who don’t receive the same encouragement from a spouse. 

The wisdom of Proverbs—all of its chapters—is a gift from God to all of his people. God has not only redeemed us by his Son and given us his Spirit to keep us from sin; he has also given us practical advice to promote the well being of ourselves, our households, and our communities.

(And, in case it wasn’t clear, I recommend Darnall’s article.)

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Links for the Weekend (1/24/2020)

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

Kill Whatever Kills Your Love for God

Our sin is deadly and dangerous, and yet we so often hesitate to put it to death. Why is that? Garrett Kell helps us think through the matter.

The apostle Peter pleads with us to “abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11). As long as we are in this world, sin will seek to sap our love for God and stoke our love for every other god. We must do whatever it takes to put it to death. Love for God and sin cannot coexist. Kill your love for sin, or sin will kill your love for God.

20 Benefits of Being in God’s Word According to Psalm 119

The Bible offers countless blessings, comforts, and encouragements. Here’s a list of many of these benefits, pulled from Psalm 119.

If only the world could grasp the benefits available to the soul who seeks God through His Word—willing to see it as truth, clinging to it at every turn. For the Word of God is life-changing and life-sustaining and life-giving. And it’s so much more, as the author of Psalm 119 testifies. The psalmist offers us numerous reasons to run to the comfort of Scripture and never turn away from it.

True Friends Confront Sin

In the church we are called to love one another, even when it is painful. Sometimes this means we need to point out and/or help our friends with the sin in their lives.

If you want to grow in grace, surround yourself with godly friends. These are the people who aren’t afraid to wound you every now and then so that you get your act together. Woe to you when your friends only have kisses for you, those aren’t your buddies. Blessed are you when like king David in 2 Samuel 12, you have a Nathan in your squad. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad! “Let the righteous man strike me – it is kindness; let him rebuke me – it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.” (Ps. 141:5) Choose the friends who are going to love you enough to be real with you when you’re falling. If you don’t – if you surround yourself with people who won’t call you out, or worse, who share the same idols you do – you’re digging your own grave.


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 (1/17/2020)

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

Neither Sin nor Death nor Elections Can Hinder God’s Work in 2020

Benjamin Vrbicek considers the very end of the book of Acts and writes about the spread of the gospel. As we face both personal and national difficulties, this is a great reminder.

God’s name “will be great among the nations”—not because he removes every earthly hindrance, but because no single hindrance we experience is strong enough to impede the gospel’s spread. God wills and works for his gospel to be cherished, and even hell’s gates can’t hinder his church’s advance (Matt. 16:18). 

Should We Trade in Funerals for “Celebrations of Life”?

Rare is the person that likes to think about death. And, as a pastor, Jason Allen has seen how this aversion affects the way many people treat funerals for those they love. He cautions against discarding the opportunity of a distinctly Christian funeral for a light-hearted “celebration of life” service. (This article is written for pastors, but I think we all can benefit from it.)

After all, death is God’s enemy. Paul tells us as much in 1 Corinthians 15:26. But it’s an enemy that has already been defeated by the resurrection of Jesus. What better venue than a funeral to highlight this glorious truth? We shouldn’t aim for “upbeat and lighthearted” when the deep emotional well of Christian hope is available to us. We shouldn’t spend so much time on jokes that we give short shrift to Jesus Christ who, having defeated sin and death, has made a way for the wicked to be forgiven and made righteous.  

Four Lies My Teachers Told Me

This article is framed around lies the author heard on a secular college campus. However, I suspect it is true much more broadly. Think of these lies as those underlying beliefs that most of our unbelieving neighbors hold without questioning them. The first lie that Kaitlin Miller addresses is that “only religion requires faith.”

The question, therefore, is not whether we will have faith, but in what we will put our faith. The question is not even whether we will place our faith in evidence, but rather, on what evidence we will place our faith — empirical evidence alone, or the intersection of historical, logical, moral, and philosophical evidence on which Christianity has always been based.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called 3 Essential Words to Say to Your Child. 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. 

3 Essential Words to Say to Your Child

I slid behind the wheel and felt the familiar pang of spiritual conviction. As we began the short trip to school, I tried to ignore the tap on my shoulder, but I knew what I had to do.

Just twenty minutes earlier, I yelled at my children. This was not a loving, firm correction, but an explosion. They disobeyed, and I lashed out at them, trying to provoke feelings of guilt and shame and smallness. It was terrible and embarrassing. I needed to come clean.

I confessed my sin and asked my daughter for forgiveness, which she gave gladly. Her grace pointed me to the very goodness of God I needed to remember.

The following hours were busy, filled with meetings, classes, advising, and grading. And yet, that four-minute conversation was the most important part of my day.

Seek Their Forgiveness

For their spiritual health and yours, your children need to hear you say those three little words: Please forgive me.

I’ve resisted this, and you have too. I have thought my sin was not that bad, or it wasn’t the right time, or they didn’t notice. If we’re honest, it’s easy to find reasons not to confess your sins to your child. You’re big, they’re small, and they’re not the boss of you.

But these conversations are crucial, both for your child’s spiritual development and for the health of your relationship with them. They’re one of the best ways to spotlight Jesus and glory in the gospel. Each talk may be uncomfortable, but there are at least five reasons we should ask for forgiveness from our children.

  1. Because God commands it. In the Bible, God urges reconciliation and harmony in relationships. We are to forgive others as God in Christ has forgiven us (Eph 4:32Col 3:13). Real forgiveness presupposes confession from the guilty party, so when you sin against someone else, you should ask for their forgiveness.1 This includes your children.
  2. Because obedience is for everyone. Parents make and enforce the rules at home, so children usually know their offenses. But they see your sin too, especially when you sin against them. Through confession you underline that you are not above the law. God’s standard applies to you, and you don’t measure up. Admitting your sin gives you the chance, as a fellow sinner, to point to Christ.
  3. Because it teaches them how to forgive and seek forgiveness. Give your children a model for these conversations. Confess your sins specifically, without excuses. Describe the pain you have caused. Express your grief over your sin and the relational rift you’ve created. Ask them to forgive you, and thank them when they do.
  4. Because it teaches them grace. You don’t deserve your child’s forgiveness, much less God’s. Remind your child that God forgives his enemies: us!
  5. Because it points to Jesus. God didn’t forgive by putting our sins off to the side; he faced them. He is enraged against sin, but Jesus felt God’s fury in our place. Forgiveness, even the peer-to-peer kind, is costly (see Matt 18), and talking about this cost naturally turns to the gospel.

The Importance of the Heart

When you talk to your children about sin—whether theirs or yours—emphasize the heart. Give your children categories and language to describe the most important part of their relationship to God.

For example, I yelled because I was angry. But I was angry because my child’s disobedience upset my comfort and peace. I reacted in a sinful way because my happiness was more important than honoring God and caring for my children.

Conclusion

Enlist your spouse in your efforts to keep short accounts with your children. They have a better sense of when you need to confess than you do, and they can see your relationships more objectively.

As these conversations become more a part of your family life, your children will trust you more. Hopefully, they will come to a greater awareness of their own sin and the forgiveness and grace that God offers. This is the great aim of parenting.


  1. For much more on this line of thinking regarding forgiveness, check out the book Unpacking Forgiveness.  

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Links for the Weekend (1/10/2020)

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

Why Bible Reading Can Be Such a Challenge

The Gospel Coalition is running an initiative to read through the Bible in 2020, and this article is a companion to the launch of that project. Don Carson writes about the challenges of reading Scripture and how this reading initiative can help.

The challenge has become increasingly severe in recent years, owing to several factors. All of us must confront the regular sins of laziness or lack of discipline, sins of the flesh, and of the pride of life. But there are additional pressures. The sheer pace of life affords us many excuses for sacrificing the important on the altar of the urgent. The constant sensory input from all sides is gently addictive—we become used to being entertained and diverted, and it is difficult to carve out the space and silence necessary for serious and thoughtful reading of Scripture.

A Good Funeral is a Blessing to the Soul

Often funerals are the occasion of great sadness and grief. But a good, Christ-soaked funeral can also bless and strengthen those who attend. This meditation on a funeral from Adam York is a great testimony of a great funeral.

So, then, what could possibly cause a funeral to be a blessing? Only the gospel. Death is a result of sin, yet God sent his Son to conquer death through his death, burial, and resurrection. Even as death is conquered it still happens in this mortal life until Jesus returns, yet death has been conquered to the point that God can use it to challenge us to live for and magnify his kingdom. God can use a funeral to challenge us to be more like Lula Mae as she was more like Jesus.

5 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor in 2020

Most of us probably know we should be praying for our pastors. But this article gives specific, practical ways to pray. Very helpful. (I promise that neither Pastor Don nor Pastor Phil put me up to this!)

With so much opposition and difficulty within and without, pastors constantly need the people of God to be praying for them. The shepherd needs the prayers of the sheep as much as they need his prayers. He also is one of Christ’s sheep and is susceptible to the same weaknesses.


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 (1/3/2020)

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

Seize the Morning

Many people are in a reflective and/or goal-setting mode at the beginning of the year. David Mathis helps us think about how we might make the most of our mornings. (I recognize that the morning may not be a good time for everyone, but many of these principles can apply to any time of day you’d like!)

The Bible never commands the modern “quiet time.” Nor does it specify that we must read our Bibles first thing in the morning. In fact, the concept of Christians having their own copy of the Scriptures for private reading is a fairly recent phenomenon in the history of the church. So, here at the outset of the year, we’re not talking mainly about an obligation but an opportunity.

For Christians, getting our souls within consistent earshot of God’s voice in his word is as basic as sleeping and eating and even breathing. Our fully human Savior himself said, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). If Jesus needed his Father’s revealed words for daily human living, how much more his fallen brothers?

Is Your New Year’s Resolution Biblical?

I love the impulse behind this article. Just because it’s a new year and we want to turn over a new leaf doesn’t mean that’s a good leaf to turn over!

You may think your goal is to lose weight this year. But what’s the goal behind losing weight? Your motive may have to do with self-image, your health, or having the energy to go on an adventure you’ve always dreamed about.

Help! I Want to Read the Bible, but I Find It Boring

It’s hard to find a more honest title than this one! And, if we’re honest, I think many of us feel the same way. Katherine Forster has written some advice that you may find helpful. (This is written by a teenager but certainly not only for teenagers!)

If we’re honest, I think we’ve all been there. It took years before I learned to enjoy and love the word—and that was after I became a Christian. Here are a few things I learned as a young person struggling to find a love for the Scripture. Perhaps they’ll be helpful for you, too—especially if you’re also a teen!

Bible Reading Plans for 2020

I shared this link last year, but it’s worth sharing again. Ligonier Ministries has put together a great list of Bible reading plans for 2020. Check it out and see if anything resonates with you and your Bible reading goals for the year.


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