Links for the Weekend (3/6/2020)

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

Confessions of a Recovering Political Idolater

About 20 years ago, Jared Wilson realized he had an idolatry problem. The way he paid attention to politics was unhealthy, and it was not honoring to God. I commend this article to you, because Jared talks about his repentance in ways that are specific and helpful (whether your idolatry problem is with politics or with something else).

My repentance consisted of a few practical things. I swore off all cable news, realizing how much the constant bombardment of news both real and speculative was eroding my joy and buttressing my anxiety. In the twenty years since, I haven’t watched but a handful of hours, usually when at other people’s homes when it is the background noise of choice. But other habits die harder. Here are some symptoms of my ailment I need to stay in constant vigilance about. Maybe you do too.

Marriage Was Never Supposed to Fill the Empty Spaces

Sometimes God uses hard situations to teach us important lessons. Lauren Washer has found herself in just such a situation, apart from her husband while he is deployed in the military. She’s learning a lot about trusting God and the design of marriage during this hard season.

Yes, he’s helpful, trustworthy, and loves me enough to be honest, rebuke me, and walk me through my struggles.  His wisdom is invaluable and I’m a better person having been married to him for the past thirteen years.  But he’s not God.  And try as I might to make my marriage relationship fill my soul, it never will.  Neither will anything else.

No Condemnation

Kristen Wetherell writes about her sense of inadequacy, the way she wonders if she’s disappointing God. She shares two questions she asks herself in those moments. I’m guessing these will be helpful for you, too.

Rather than buckling under the dark cloud of condemnation and listening to your fears, you can speak back to them. You can confidently confess your need for a Savior––”Jesus, I need you!”––and desperately seek him for change. His grace wasn’t just for the moment you believed by faith, but is for each and every moment of faith, for your every failure and every need.


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 (2/28/2020)

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

Christians Grieve the Death of Believing Loved Ones, But We Don’t Grieve Without Hope

Given the multiple deaths in and surrounding our church family recently, I thought this was a good article from Randy Alcorn to share. He meditates on what it means to grieve with hope.

Therefore, though we have genuine sorrow when Christian friends and relatives die, we also can say with Scripture, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? . . . Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). Though we mourn, our mourning should be mixed with worship of God and thanksgiving for the life of the loved one who has died. 

The First Empty Nest

Stacy Reaoch has reached the stage of parenthood when all of her children are in school. This means her house is quiet in the middle of the day, and it has made her reflect on freedom, control, and God’s faithfulness.

The closing of a chapter is bittersweet. In some ways, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. seems like the first empty nest. It’s a transition from having little ones always by my side, to them being out of reach. It’s a time when I need to trust that God is able to meet their needs even when I’m not present. Parenting is a series of letting go, a series of trusting God with the children he has given us. Will I trust him to keep them safe while they’re at school? Will I trust him to provide a friend at the lunch table?  

What is Reformed Theology?

We accurately refer to our church as a “reformed” church, but that term may not be familiar to everyone. Being “reformed” refers to a theological position, but that doesn’t have to be academic or stuffy. In this short video (under 2.5 minutes), Kevin DeYoung gives a quick description of this important label.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article by Sarah Wisniewski called Learning, Teaching, Writing, and Women. 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. 

Learning, Teaching, Writing, and Women

As a writing major in college, I took a bunch of classes in literature and literary theory. In my junior year, I also picked up an elective called How to Read the Bible, focused on biblical scholarship. 

They turned out to be basically the same skillset: You consider the themes and structure of the text, its historical context, what else that author has written, and opinions from other scholars. Yet my literature classes were full of women, while the biblical studies class was mostly men.  

Women have the same capacity as men for deep study, informed and reasoned discussion, and presentation of learning. These talents, in both sexes, are a gift to the individual and also to the body of Christ. 

In churches like ours that follow the biblical teaching that women are not “to teach or to exercise authority over a man” (1 Timothy 2:12), though, it can feel like there’s no outlet for a woman to share what she has learned. 

Encouragement for women

Scripture makes at least one thing clear on the subject of women in the ministry of the church: Women’s voices are valuable and needed for the building up of the whole church. 

Women are commanded to teach

Paul, in a letter to another young pastor, instructs that “Older women … are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled” (Titus 2:3-5).

Women are instructed to pass on what they learn to younger women. Paul highlights the snowball effect of investing in the spiritual growth of other women: A woman benefits herself; she loves and builds up her household–and she is even granted the honor of upholding the integrity of God’s own reputation. 

Women’s voices are not only for women

Men can also benefit from the insights and wisdom of women. We’re told that “when Priscilla and Aquila heard [Apollos preaching], they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26). Priscilla, wife to Aquila, is included in both the hearing and the explaining. 

Priscilla knew more than the man in the pulpit. She used her godly wisdom to instruct one who was already “competent in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24), so that the gospel truth would be declared. Her contribution mattered in the kingdom of God; we find out later that Apollos’ teaching gained a large following (I Corinthians 3:4-5). Priscilla’s example demonstrates that there are appropriate avenues for a woman to instruct and even correct a man.

A need in the church

Our denomination, the PCA, has recognized that many of its churches are not encouraging women to serve to their full ability. Churches have tended to be “focused on what women cannot do rather than [on] fostering a biblically informed culture of what women are called to do” (WSMC report, Chapter 5).

The PCA commissioned the Women Serving in the Ministry of the Church (WSMC) study committee in 2016 “to pursue and equip the women of the church for every biblical role of service open to them” (WSMC report, Chapter 1). The committee submitted its report in 2017, including several recommendations to all PCA churches, detailed in Chapter 5 (pp. 58-63). 

The whole report is worth a read, to understand the value, biblical precedent, and bounds of women’s activities in the church. The thrust of the report is toward recognizing all the possible contributions women can make to the church. One opportunity that our church is pleased to offer is the WPCA blog. 

Write for the blog! 

I encourage any member to share on the blog, but this call is particularly to women. The church–our church–needs your wisdom, biblical insight, and experience. I hope the previous encouragements have eased any fears of overstepping biblical roles, but I realize there are other reasons people may hold back. 

I don’t have anything worth saying. Did the sermon strike you just so this week? Did something in your personal reading make you think? A blog doesn’t need to be a comprehensive analysis of a topic; in fact, smaller observations often make for more readable articles. I’ve found that I learn more by sitting down to write on a topic than if I simply study it for my own knowledge. 

I’m not trained in biblical scholarship. You have the Holy Spirit in you, teaching you through Scripture. There are plenty of Bible study tools out there (Knowable Word’s OIA method has been taught at our church), as well as commentaries for free online, for purchase, or for borrowing from our pastors. Study and write with prayer, and trust God to defend his truth. (Also, an editor will read your work and catch any blatant heresy.)

I’m not a writer. Writing is just thinking on paper. If you have an idea, jot down some notes and see where it goes. Ryan, as editor of the blog, or another writer can help with the writing. You could even co-write a piece with someone else to take the pressure off of you. 

Blogs are too high-tech for me. Write it by hand! I volunteer to type it up for you. Writers for the blog are not responsible for any of the techy stuff like formatting and posting articles. 

The WPCA blog exists for members of the church to share with one another what God is revealing to us. Anybody can write for the blog: men and women, pastors or lay people, the highly educated or the self-taught. We’d love to hear what God has taught you!

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Links for the Weekend (2/21/2020)

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

Why Do We Read Scripture?

It seems like a pretty basic question, right? What are we hoping will happen when we read the Bible? Andrew Wilson gives one wrong answer and five right ones.

We do not read it to earn. It is so easy to be tricked into thinking like this, but the purpose of reading the Bible is never to present God with a good work that entitles you to a reward. You are no more justified after reading a Bible for an hour than you are after playing Playstation or having breakfast or going for a walk.

To Those Who Send ‘Good Thoughts’

I never know how to respond when someone tells me they’re sending me “good thoughts” or “positive energy.” Nancy Guthrie writes a winsome response to this situation; it is a model of charity and grace. And she brings in the life and work of Jesus in a beautiful way.

I want you to know that whenever I read that you are sending me or someone else “good thoughts,” I’m not going to roll my eyes. Instead, I’m going to close my eyes and meditate for a moment on all of the goodness that has flowed into my life from my heavenly Father, all of the goodness being worked into my life by the Holy Spirit, and all of the goodness I stand to inherit by being joined to Jesus Christ. And I’m going to pray that you will know and experience that goodness too.

A Prayer for Battling a Destructive Desire

We all face desires that could destroy us. How will we respond when that lands on our shoulders? Tim Challies shares a prayer that has helped him.

Faced with this temptation,
I would rather choose you, Jesus—
but I am weak. So be my strength.
I am shadowed. Be my light.
I am selfish. Unmake me now,
and refashion my desires
according to the better designs of your love.


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 (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.