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. 

Where Our Gaze Lands

We gathered around a glass enclosure at PetCo. My kids pressed their fingers and noses against the glass, trying to get a look at the entangled pile of ferrets napping in the corner. Some of the animals curled in upon themselves, while others were practically upside down—their mouths sleepily hanging open to show tiny, pointed teeth. I shuddered a bit.

“Oh, Mommy! Can we have one? Please?” my family begged in chorus. “They’re so cute.” 

Cute? Ferrets are too “rodent” for my taste. They make me think of a rat that got stretched like dough in a pasta maker. Sure, a ferret’s face resembles the more appealing sea otter, but the teeth, the little feet, and the beady eyes all bring me to emphatically decline my children’s requests.

“Mom, the sign says $39.99,” my first-born reasoned as he pulled out his wallet. “I almost have that much. If you could just…”

“No,” I interrupted.

My husband stepped in with a grin on his face.

“Give Mommy some time, guys,” he said. He turned to me with mischief in his eyes. “Do a little research. You’ll come around.”

I playfully punched him in the shoulder. This is an on-going joke between us. For as long as I can remember, I have loved research. When I dive into a subject, I become enthusiastic and nearly obsessed about my subject matter. I can become sympathetic to a cause after I’ve examined the complexity of the issues. I believe this is a good character trait—leading me to be well-informed and a person of compassion and empathy. However, it can also get a little silly with long, one-sided conversations at the dinner table about anything from urban chicken farming, to cellos, to childbirth. I admit that I dive in and try to drag my family with me.

When I allocate time to an idea, I am altering my perception of the world simply by placing my attention in a specific way.  You probably do it, too. We want to lose weight, so we dig around on the internet for solutions. We desire to change something in our relationships with our kids, so we pick up a parenting book. We’re hoping for a promotion at work, so we listen to the latest leadership podcast. Most of us have realized that when we learn more about something, we sharpen our attention toward that issue or object. We might not grab another doughnut because we just read about the downfall of simple carbs, for example. Most of us have also experienced the fading interest that comes shortly after a New Year’s resolution loses its sparkle. It’s easy to lose focus and hop to the next obsession. 

As a Christian, I know that my attention needs to be on the Lord, and my growth in faith is dependent on a steady diet of truth from God’s word and an influx of the Holy Spirit. Not unlike the weight-loss books and last year’s resolution, the knowledge and richness I gain from Scripture can fade if I am not deliberate about making time for study and prayer. I will drift back to the world and the sinful thoughts of my own heart if I do not return to the Bible with regularity and lean into the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

Consider Matthew 6:21. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Aren’t time and attention two of the gifts (the treasures) God has given to us? We allocate these finite things in many ways through a lifetime. The world clamors for our attention. We are bombarded daily with messages that insist that we must focus on our bank account, our BMI, our wardrobe, our kids’ report cards, our grocery list, and our calendars. And on and on. 

Any Christian knows that the emotional high of being saved or coming to a new understanding of Christ does not last forever. Our hunger for God waxes and wanes over the years of our discipleship. This is common. Few of us will stay on the soaring cloud of first love. God knows the fickleness in our humanity, and he will, through his Holy Spirit, sustain us when new love fades and we are enticed by things, people, and ideas that he does not intend for us. He welcomes us back after we have strayed, even pursues us when we would rather flit from one worldly interest to another. (See the parable of the lost sheep in Matthew 18:12-14 and Luke 15:3-7.) But we can be wise in fixing our gaze upon our Savior.

God offers us instruction on how to avoid the temptations of the world. In Philippians 4:8, we read, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” God gives us discernment and his Spirit so that we can choose purity over vulgarity, beauty over ugliness, and honor over corruption. Without his intervention, we would not see the world for what it is, but with Scripture in our minds, we will see the world through a different lens. Again, God knows this. In Deuteronomy 8:10, God tells his children, “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.” This is an instruction to keep God’s word ever present. 

When I am researching an issue, I have trouble thinking about anything else. I have lain in my bed long after I should have been asleep, unable to turn off thoughts about landfills, industrial farming, math curricula, and whether or not I could actually run a marathon. (Yes, my interests are varied.)

Imagine if my days included more time lingering over the Bible, resting in its promises and being stretched by its commands. Where, then, would my thoughts drift when I am troubled by an obligation or a looming deadline? How, then, would I react during a strained conversation with a colleague? Where would I turn when I face disappointment or pressure? How would I respond to a homeless person on the street, my spouse after a disagreement, or maybe even my neighbor’s question about the reality of God? A shift toward a heavenly focus can be as subtle as closing internet clickbait in favor of time in the Bible or redirecting a conversation with a friend in order to steer away from the potential of gossip. I can place my focus with intention and follow it.

Where our treasure is, our heart lies. Where our gaze lands, our thoughts follow. When we focus on Jesus and his good news, we are primed to walk nearer to him, speaking and behaving in ways that bring us ever closer to our Savior. 

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Links for the Weekend (6/28/2019)

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

Is God Angry at Me When I Sin?

In this episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast, John Piper answers a question that gets right at the center of Christian experience. God loves his children, but he hates sin. So how does he feel about his children when they sin? At this link you can listen to the answer (or read the transcript).

He never looks upon us with contempt because he’s always for us, never against us. He will always restore us and bring us unfailingly to an eternity when there will be no grieving him, no quenching him, no displeasing him anymore.

The Most Epic Bible Study of All Time

Do you remember the conversation Jesus had with disciples on the road to Emmaus, where he showed them how Moses and the Prophets pointed to him? Garrett Kell imagines this exchange, and he goes through each book of the Old Testament to give an example of what Jesus might have said. It’s a great illustration of how to see Jesus in the Old Testament.

Reading the Old Testament to find Jesus isn’t meant to be like playing “Where’s Waldo?”—looking behind every tree for a cross or every chair for a throne. We do, however, find both explicit teachings and also implicit themes that push us to know that something, or someone, greater must come to fulfill them. Jesus proved this true that day following his resurrection.

Sleep Well for God is Awake

With all that is going on in the world—not to mention all that happens in your life—how are we supposed to sleep? Darin Smith gives seven (brief!) reasons why Christians can sleep well.

You are as secure as Christ is (Eph. 1:13-14).  No one loves you like Jesus, so unplug your life-giving cord from people, and live, love, and serve to God’s glory today (1 Cor. 10:31). Rest!


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 (6/21/2019)

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

Stop Praying “Be With” Prayers

Gulp. I apologize in advance for the conviction you’ll feel when you read this article by Alistair Begg. This is an excerpt from his new book on prayer, and he urges us to pray more like our biblical ancestors.

The time-bound and fallen creature that I naturally am, I often forget the spiritual and eternal element of reality. That’s why the things that fill my prayers are so regularly absent from Paul’s—and why the things that fill his prayers are so regularly absent from mine. He has his eyes fixed on eternity. His prayers are spiritual. We need to make ours so, too.

Stop Loving Your Spouse Too Much

Ray Ortlund writes at Desiring God about two insights that can help shape and direct our marriages. First, “your marriage is your little remnant of the garden of Eden.” And, second: “Life is not in you. Life is not in your spouse. The life we all long for is in Christ alone.”

A marriage is not Christian because two Christians get married. A marriage becomes truly Christian as two Christians keep looking to Christ for the wherewithal each needs moment by moment. It isn’t a matter of practical tips, though I suppose there is a place for that — like training wheels on a child’s bike. But far more, it’s a matter of seeing him, with the eyes of faith, real-time as a husband and wife walk together through each day. It’s a matter of rejoicing that he is present with you, he is sharing his life with you, his light is banishing the darkness from the sacred circle he has given the two of you.

4 Things Teens Need from Your Church

Just because our church is not bursting with teenagers doesn’t mean we can ignore this important age group. Check out Sara Barratt’s article at The Gospel Coalition; she’s a teenager writing with solid advice for the church.

Instead of undiluted biblical truths and concrete theology, many are fed a watered-down message. They’re entertained at youth group and isolated from older, wiser Christ-followers. They’re drawn in with pizza parties, games, and programs, but leave with the burning issues of their hearts still unanswered. The games and good times were never what kept me in church or helped me as I battled the tumultuous struggles of my teenage years. Instead, it was the gospel-drenched truth that kept me coming back.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published Faith that Lives, Works that Justify, by Sarah Wisniewski. 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. 

Faith that Lives, Works that Justify

In March I joined a handful of WPCA women at the Dwelling in Scripture women’s conference (You can learn more about the conference in Patty’s blog). The aim of the conference was to develop a statement about God from an assigned passage in James. The God-centric framework pushed me to engage a familiar passage in a fresh way, but a stronger theme dominated my passage.

The book was written by the apostle James in Jerusalem to Christians scattered by persecution with virtually no support network. It would have been easy for them to claim a private faith that didn’t affect their lives. We, even with the benefit of an established church and a relatively accommodating culture, have the same temptation. James exhorts his readers to live as those who genuinely believe that the man Jesus was the Son of God who lived, died, rose, ascended, and will return.

James is full of practical applications: endure trials, don’t show favoritism, control the tongue, pray in faith. My passage, the familiar “faith apart from works is dead” passage (James 2:14–26), shows that these works are not an optional add-on to Christianity. A faith that does not include works is not a faith that saves.

“Can that faith save him?”

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14, emphasis added). James is introducing a question of eternal life-or-death consequences. Are you saved or not? The implications are twofold:

  1. One can claim “faith” and not be saved.
  2. There is a faith that saves!

The remainder of the passage presents some symptoms of false faith and then offers two case studies of true, saving faith.

Invisible Faith

Faith that does not save hides behind excuses, debates, and platitudes. “But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18). The hypothetical rebuttal here tries to logic its way out of works, but it creates a false dichotomy. It assumes that faith and works can exist independently. James counters with a slightly cheeky challenge to show faith without works—an impossibility. One’s actions are not just evidence of faith but faith itself made visible. An invisible faith is no faith at all.

Striking uncomfortably close to my own heart, James also points out that reciting doctrinal statements is not the same thing as works, and certainly not the same thing as faith. “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19). Demons—the literal forces of evil—can recite truths about God, but without acts of repentance and obedience, their knowledge only condemns them. God values our actions, not solely our doctrine.

Faith that saves

James treats faith and works as more tightly intertwined than we are used to talking about. He uses them almost interchangeably, so much so that he says:

“You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24).

All the Reformed people are suddenly sweating.

Faith and works are two sides of a coin and just as inseparable. James says both Abraham and Rahab were “justified by works,” but he unites their works inextricably with their faith (James 2:21, 25).

When Abraham sacrificed Isaac, “faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works” (James 2:22). His faith was incomplete without his works, and his works were hollow without faith active in them. As it stands, Abraham’s worked-out faith was credited to him as righteousness, justifying him before God (James 2:23).

Rahab the Gentile prostitute may seem like an unlikely candidate for the Hall of Faith, but nevertheless Hebrews 11:31 states: “By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.” Rahab did not perish (i.e., she was saved) because she welcomed the spies, by faith. Faith, works, and salvation are all tied up together.  

But, Sola Fide, right?

Our church, as part of the Reformed tradition, leans heavily on the rich biblical truth of Ephesians 2:8–9, that “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Faith that saves is a gift of God! But it is inconsistent with the rest of Scripture to assume that works have no part in it.

Consider the very next verse: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Faith for salvation is a gift of God—and so are the works that accompany it!

We are powerless to enliven dead faith through works; this is just salvation by works by another name. As recipients of the gift of true, living faith that leads to salvation, we are to gratefully accept the works that accompany it.

There is a warning in James to examine your faith for signs of life, but primarily his heart is to encourage his readers to do good works—such as those found in the rest of his letter—joyfully as those who have been saved and await the return of our King!

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Links for the Weekend (6/14/2019)

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

My Quiet Times Are Anything but Quiet

Perhaps we don’t read and pray as much as we’d like because we’re waiting for a perfect time that never arrives. Rachel Jankovic thinks this is the case, and writes about seeking the Lord in the midst of a noisy life.

When we imagine Bible reading, what we are seeing is something like the life of a scholar. We see uninterrupted focus and commentaries. We see a pastor in his study, where the word is his life’s work. We see someone living at a lake house — no intrusions, complete serenity, perfect coffee. Maybe we see the life of a superwoman, who rises well before dawn because she cares so much more than we ever will be able to. We see calm. We imagine focus. We see heroic diligence.

Simply put, we see the Christian practice of reading the Bible as dependent on a really specialized kind of moment — a moment that seldom (to never) graces our own life.

When Your Friend Is Suffering and Sinking

Sarah Taylor writes a helpful article at The Gospel Coalition about her experience of the pain and suffering caused by cluster headaches. She details the lies she is tempted to believe in the darkest moments, and she relates how her friends have helped her.

Lies especially thrive in the darkness. When I wake up at 2 a.m. with searing pain yet again, the pull to believe lies is strong. It’s hard to believe God is really for me. It’s hard to believe he loves me.

I hear things like: If God really loved you, he’d heal you. Your life was supposed to be better than this. Your children deserve a better mom. Your husband deserves a better wife. You deserve to be normal. No one cares about your pain. This is pointless pain. It would all be over if you’d just drive your car into an oncoming semi. Those are just some of the lies I’m tempted to believe in the dark.

The Good Enough Podcast

Lore Ferguson Wilbert and Andrea Burke host the Good Enough podcast, which I gladly recommend to you. I’ve read and benefited from Lore Ferguson Wilbert’s writing for years now, but the podcast is a new venture for her. It’s aimed at women, but I think everyone will benefit from listening. Here’s the podcast description.

Influencers aplenty, memes a dime a dozen, self-help books lining the shelves of bookstores, and YouTube tutorials for every tip under the sun and it’s still never enough. Why do the messages like “You’re the hero of your story” and “Trust yourself” still lead to anxiety, fear, uncertainty, and despair for most women? Andrea Burke and Lore Ferguson Wilbert are tackling fourteen of the counterfeit gospels American women believe today. We invite a guest each week to talk about beauty trends, diet culture, social media, “clean” living fads, singleness, dating, friendship with guys, and more. We know in Christ we truly are good enough for this never enough world.

I’m guessing that the whole podcast series (which is ongoing) is excellent. I’ve listened to and enjoyed this episode on diet culture.


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 (6/7/2019)

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

Sabbath Rest Is for Busy Moms, Too

Do you ever feel that you don’t have time for a weekly sabbath? That’s how Laura Wifler felt, and until she was challenged by her sister-in-law, she didn’t know what to do about it. This article explains how she realized her faulty reasoning, and how busy mothers can (and need to) find sabbath rest.

That’s because our weekly rest isn’t about tightly kept boundaries, it’s about delighting and finding our joy in the Lord. As we spend our Sundays going to church with our fellow saints, taking time for personal Bible reading and study, or heading outdoors for a prayer walk, we deepen our dependence on Christ. As mothers, we can bring our children alongside us—telling them Bible stories, practicing Scripture memory, or bringing them with us as we visit the sick and needy—to teach them the regular rhythms of a believer and reveal a mother wholly reliant on God, not her own efforts.

The Unknown Stories Behind Three Well-loved Hymns

Sometimes the soil of tragedy produces the most beautiful flowers. This article by Mike Harland highlights three hymns that were written after great personal loss. While the third story here is familiar, I had not heard of the first two.

In all three of these stories, a circumstance of life confronts the child of God. And, in all three, God’s grace enables his child to trust the heart of the Father.

Life will confront us too. The songs we sing in the darkest of midnight will be the very songs that show the world the unwavering faithfulness of our Father who loves us so much.

The darker it gets, the more we should sing.

Summer Reading: A Grade-by-Grade Recommended Reading List for Kids

Justin Taylor has posted a nice list of books from Calvary Classical School. This may help parents and grandparents as they point their children toward the library or bookstore this summer!

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published a post I wrote: Obeying God’s Commands as the Body of Christ. Check it out!

Thanks to Maggie A and Phil A for helping me round 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. 

Obeying God’s Commands as the Body of Christ

This part of the Bible wasn’t written for me.

I’m not an older woman, so why should I pay attention to Titus 2:3–5? I’m not a preacher, so what relevance does 2 Timothy 4:1–5 have for me? It almost feels like opening my neighbor’s mail.

The Effect of Individualism

We have a great temptation toward this thinking in the United States, as we breathe the air of individualism from an early age. Our sinful hearts hardly need any help, but our culture insists at every turn: be true to yourself, take care of yourself, believe in yourself. It isn’t long before our lungs are full of that toxic cloud and we lack the oxygen to think about others.

But God has called Christians to a different reality. We are the body of Christ, a people vitally connected to each other and to Jesus.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:12–13)

The books of the Bible were composed for all the people of God. Even when a letter was written to a church or an individual, the intention was public reading and instruction for the whole church.

So when we say that a part of the Bible wasn’t written for us, we’re actually wrong. If the Bible applies to anyone in the body, it has implications for all of us. We must not check out.

We Need Help From Others

Christians readily acknowledge that we need God’s help to obey his commands. (Though we always do well to remember!) It’s easier to forget how much help we need from other saints.

We need others praying for us, encouraging us, and giving us counsel. We need to talk with older saints who have stood in our shoes. We need the bold, clear-eyed enthusiasm of younger Christians to strengthen our wills to do what is right.

Finally, we also need correction from Christian friends when we sin. A gentle, loving rebuke is not often what we want, but we should seek and embrace this discipline. (See Proverbs 12:1.)

We must also view this truth—that we need others—from the other side. Others need us too. The experiences and wisdom God has given us are not just for our benefit; they’re also for the church.

An Example: Husbands

Let’s look at an example from 1 Peter. This command for husbands is found in 1 Peter 3:7.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Husbands need the prayers of the saints to obey this command. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, husbands will not love and sacrifice in the ways God requires.

Husbands should also talk to married men and women of all ages and experiences. Though understanding and honoring one’s wife will look different from one marriage to the next, husbands can learn of helpful habits to develop and dangerous pitfalls to avoid through the counsel and stories of others.

Each husband needs a few close friends who will ask him difficult questions. Are you honoring your wife? How are you living with her in an understanding way? Good friends will remember a prayer request or a confession of weakness and ask specific follow-up questions the next week. These friends will offer encouragement when they see fruit. A husband may also need a loving rebuke when neglect or selfishness continues without repentance.

And, of course, husbands need to listen to their wives. A wife will know if her husband is working to understand her and live with her accordingly. She will feel the presence or lack of honor.

None of this help is easy or natural to give, and none of it is possible without the work of the Spirit within us.

Called to Obey as a Body

The key to this obedience in community is love. It takes seeing and experiencing God’s love to lift our eyes off ourselves and recognize our corporate calling.

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:15–16)

God didn’t call us just to each other, he called us to himself. Through the atoning work of Jesus, God has forgiven his people and the Spirit is working to change us. Though withdrawal may be our default mode—wanting neither help from others nor to give aid ourselves—we are no longer slaves to this sin.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:24–25)

The wounds of Jesus have set us free and given us a new identity. We’ve been healed of our sin so that we might live to righteousness.

By God’s power, let’s do just that. Together.

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Links for the Weekend (5/31/2019)

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

Don’t Just ‘Share’ the Gospel

The language we most often use regarding evangelism is “sharing the gospel.” Elliot Clark looks at the New Testament to see if that matches the way those authors wrote about evangelism. (Spoiler: it doesn’t.)

Our English word for evangelism derives from the Greek word euangelizo. It means, most basically, to announce good news. As Don Carson has helpfully demonstrated elsewhere, euangelizo involves heraldic proclamation. It assumes the authoritative declaration of the gospel. In other words, evangelism is an act whereby one cuts straight. You can’t hem and haw and do evangelism. After inviting a friend to church, you don’t get to check the box for doing evangelism. Being faithfully present in your neighborhood doesn’t equal biblical evangelism. Polite spiritual conversations at work or around the dinner table also don’t mean you’ve evangelized anyone. You must announce good news.

What I Pack In My Spiritual First Aid Kit

Much like a first aid kit for medical emergencies, Tim Challies suggests that we have supplies in mind when spiritual emergencies arise. What should we do when we find it impossible to open the Bible or to incline our hearts in prayer? Challies’s suggestions won’t be a good fit for everyone, but I suspect everyone will find something helpful here.

Then, of course, there is the inestimable value of a godly spouse and good friend to whom I can appeal in difficult times with a simple, “Please tell me something that’s true” or “Please pray for me.” In difficult times, I sometimes have to rely on the faith of others, to siphon from them confidence, joy, or hope.

Heresy Often Begins with Boredom

Sometimes heresy begins when people try to resolve a tension the Bible maintains. Other times, writes Brett McCracken, heresy begins because Christians are bored with the Bible, the church, Christians, obedience, or tradition. I appreciate that McCracken ends this article with a suggestion to fight this sort of boredom with wonder.

Ultimately when we become bored with things that should actually inspire in us awe and gratitude, the problem is pride. We think our spiritual path is ours to chart. We think when it comes to knowing God and living rightly, “I got this.” But just as pride came before the fall in Eden, so too does this sort of spiritual pride precede our veering away from orthodoxy.


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 (5/24/2019)

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

This One Thing Will Keep Your Pastor Going Year After Year

Christopher Ash recently published a book, titled The Book Your Pastor Wishes You Would Read (but is too embarrassed to ask). This article at The Good Book Company’s blog is an excerpt.

The very best thing you can do for your pastor, and I for mine, is to repent daily of sin and trust afresh daily in Jesus. To be honest, if you and I do this—together with our committed belonging—even if we are terrible at looking after our pastors in other ways, they will probably keep on pastoring year after year.

Paul Martin on Family Worship

Paul Martin is a pastor at a church in Canada, and this article is a short interview with him about the way his family worships together as a family. I appreciate the simple and practical advice that he shares.

Once you are older you realize the Lord can be doing lots of things in people’s hearts that you have no idea about, especially because they are giving no outward signs of such at the moment. Just be a good farmer. Spread your seed on the soil and some of it will bear fruit, but if it is real fruit, it wasn’t you making it grow anyway. The important thing is to be deliberate and faithful to do something, even if it doesn’t look exactly like what others are doing. Do what you can and trust the Lord to bless your efforts!

Does Doctrine Matter for the Everyday Christian?

It’s tempting to think that doctrine isn’t relevant outside of seminaries and pastors’ studies. Does how I think about justification by faith really affect the way I live my life? Matthew Barrett answers with an emphatic “yes!”

If we’re not reminded of the gospel—and the implications of the gospel with justification—the temptation can be that we start to live as if the gospel doesn’t exist, as if it’s not real, as if it didn’t happen. We start to live as those who haven’t been justified, as those who don’t have a new status, a new identity in Jesus Christ.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published a post I wrote: A Picture of the Faith That Leads to Salvation. 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.