Links for the Weekend (2/15/2019)

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

Encouragement for Regular Bible Reading

Over at For The Church, Trevin Wax addresses this important question: “What keeps so many Christians from regularly studying the Bible?” His video answer is filled with wisdom and encouragement to think about the long term benefit of our Bible reading and Bible study disciplines.

7 Tips for Keeping Your Cool When Your Kids Misbehave

I wish I didn’t need this advice, but I do. At the Crossway blog, Sam Crabtree offers some advice for avoiding an explosion of anger when children misbehave.

So, you’ve blown your stack. You admit it. You confess your wrongness to all involved parties. You apologize, asking forgiveness. And you resolve to not be that way again, to not do it again. But there’s the problem. The resolve of our own nature will fail. We need supernatural enablement for change. Overcoming anger requires something humanly impossible, something supernatural. The good news is that Jesus came to make it possible for all kinds of people—including angry parents—to be changed into people who yield their expectations to God in service to others, specifically their children.

Sharing Your Faith at Work

Here’s a short article brimming with wisdom. Greg Forster first counsels us to “earn the right to be heard.” He then shares three practical tips. Here’s the second one.

Be patient. Earning the right to be heard takes time. You should not expect evangelistic opportunities quickly. Trust that as you labor faithfully, God will use your track record of excellent performance and humane treatment of people to awaken the hearts of those around you. I have a relative who came to Christ after her retirement; she became convinced Christ was alive after reflecting on decades of seeing Christians do their daily work so differently.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published Pastor Don Waltermyer’s article about killing sin. 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. 

Links for the Weekend (1/25/2019)

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

I Lost My Mom, but I’ll Never Lose the Church

At The Gospel Coalition, Ronnie Kurtz writes about the way the church was there for him when his mother died. It’s a great reminder of the importance of a local church family.

It’s not hard to find articles pointing out the church’s shortcomings. Our reading streams are inundated with digital fingers pointing out her stains and failures. And yes, the church is frail and frequently falls short of her calling. Yet in all her missteps and imperfections, she met me in my sorrow, and she was exactly what I needed.

Teach Your Teen How to Read Their Bible

We often think that teenagers need age-specific material in order to engage with the Bible. Jen Wilkin argues that what teenagers really need is “basic tools to help them read and learn the Bible on their own.” Check out this excellent advice over at the website for The Village Church.

By guiding them in some basic study methods, you can position them to use devotional and topical material with far better discernment and far greater benefit, as those types of resources assume a first-hand knowledge of the Bible that many teens have not yet developed.

How a Church Can Care for Former Prisoners

As a former prisoner, Mark Casson writes with first-hand experience about how churches can welcome and care for those who have been incarcerated. Ex-prisoners can feel fearful about joining a local church. And the church can have a powerful impact in extending love to these brothers and sisters. Check out the article at Table Talk Magazine.

Finally, in loving the returning citizen, I would encourage you to treat him differently than the world treats them. The world says: “You can’t live here. You can’t work here. You are not welcome here. You cannot vote here.” If we are honest, discrimination against felons is acceptable in the world. Brothers and sisters, it cannot be acceptable in the church. If we believe that the blood of Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness, then this includes felonious unrighteousness.


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 (1/18/2019)

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

Accepting “No” as God’s Will

This article is an excerpt from a book by the late R.C. Sproul. He looks at Jesus’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and helps us think about the way God answers our prayers.

The prayer of faith is not a demand that we place on God. It is not a presumption of a granted request. The authentic prayer of faith is one that models Jesus’ prayer. It is always uttered in a spirit of subordination. In all our prayers, we must let God be God.

A Bible Reading Plan for Children

How do we help our children develop a pattern of regular Bible reading? Joe Carter describes one simple way over at The Gospel Coalition. I like that this plan is realistic and emphasizes grace (even while we want to urge children strongly to read the Bible!).

The key to success is flexibility. If the child misses a day, just have them move on to the next section. If it takes longer than a year, don’t sweat it—there’s no rush. Be persistent but easy-going, encouraging rather than demanding. The goal is develop in your child the habit of wanting to read the Bible. Even if the child isn’t able to complete the entire reading program in a year (or two), if they follow the plan regularly they’ll have read large sections of Scripture and laid a solid foundation for future engagement with God’s Word.

52 Ideas for Inviting Someone to Church

When we try to point our friends and neighbors toward Jesus, sometimes we feel inadequate. But we don’t need to have all the answers. Sometimes the best thing we could do is invite someone to church. Here’s a great list of 52 ideas for inviting someone to church. Not all of them will apply to everyone, but I’m sure there’s something here that could be helpful.

As God puts people in your life, will you intentionally invite them? Jesus commands His followers to bring lost people to know Him. You have a unique circle of influence, and your personal invitation can influence them toward Jesus. Invite!

On the WPCA Blog This Week

Debbie Burtoft wrote for the blog this week: Rejoice at How God Builds His Church. If you haven’t read it already, 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. 

Links for the Weekend (1/11/2019)

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

Three Tips for Better Bible Reading

In a post at Desiring God from 2014, Andy Naselli gives three ways to read more of the Bible: audio Bibles, reading complete books of the Bible in one sitting, and reading without chapter or verse numbers.

Jesus as Our Offering

How does the sacrificial system of the Old Testament connect to the coming of Jesus in the New Testament? How does Jesus satisfy the requirement of an offering for sin? At the Core Christianity website, Adriel Sanchez writes about how Jesus is the perfect burnt, sin, and guilt offering.

Dear friends, we don’t come to God with any sacrificial offering for sin today, because Jesus has fulfilled the Old Covenant system of worship through his once-for-all sacrifice. His sacrifice cleanses you, satisfies the debt you owe, and gives you peace with God, allowing you to enter into the presence of the Holy One.

Caring for a Friend with a Troubled Past

Brad Hambrick tackles a difficult but important question at his blog: What does the process of redemption and restoration look like for a person scarred by a past that includes multiple sex partners and abortions? He carefully walks his readers through steps of listening, empathy, honoring the friend’s pace of growth, showing interest in the whole person, and showing compassion. If we want to invite people from outside the church to follow Jesus, these are crucial conversations and relationships to consider!

No one chapter of any person’s life defines his or her whole life. Shame often tempts us to define our entire lives by our most painful moments. One of the unique opportunities of friendship and pastoral ministry – that is different from formal counseling – is that the relationship does not have to be problem-focused. We help lift shame when we take interest in all of our friend’s life by celebrating the good, supporting the hard, and being interested in the mundane.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

I wrote a short how-to article for the website this week: The Best Ways to Follow this Blog.


Thanks to Phil A for his suggestion for this batch of links!


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 (12/28/2018)

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

Family Devotions

Tim Challies has a great post containing ten ideas and then ten tips on family devotions. I thought everything was valuable, but here are the first two tips to give you an idea.

1. More important than how you do family devotions is that you do family devotions.
2. Keep family devotions simple, especially when starting out. Five engaging minutes are far better than 20 rambling ones.

Encouragement for the Weary

At the end of the calendar year, it’s easy to feel more worn out and tired than excited and energetic. Here’s a post by Colin Smith at Unlocking the Bible addressed to those who feel weary.

Here’s what you know about yourself: You are not God. You’re a created being with limits to your own strength and endurance. You will become weary. You will know what it is to feel spent and exhausted. Feeling worn out should not take you by surprise. Lean into the truth that you know. But that’s only half the answer. 

Bible Reading Plans

The beginning of the calendar year is a great time to reassess your Bible reading practices. There’s a great post at Ligonier which collects links to many helpful Bible reading plans. Maybe you’ll find something here that will be a good fit for you in 2019!


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

The Minor Prophets: Not So Scary

anonymous (2016), public domain

“Let’s read the minor prophets,” said Zack. “Neither of us have.”

I did not want to read the prophets. Four hundred pages of “You broke the covenant, now wham! Terrible judgment is coming.” But Zack prevailed (I didn’t have much of a case to skip an entire genre of Scripture). We didn’t set out to do a detailed study, just to know what was written.

As we read through Hosea, the first minor prophet, I found a lens through which to read the rest of the prophets: God’s wrath is so great because his love is so great.

Hosea is best known for the love story between Hosea and Gomer. Did you know that the whole encounter is only the first three out of 14 chapters? I didn’t.

The book illustrates God’s great love for his people through several metaphors, beginning with the marriage of Hosea to the adulterous Gomer to symbolize God’s faithful love to faithless Israel, who were mixing pagan religion into the worship of the one true God. God goes on to call to Israel as a loving parent to his son (Hosea 11:1), a master tenderly hand-feeding his livestock (Hosea 11:4), and a farmer nurturing his plants (Hosea 9:10; 14:5).

The Lord through Hosea describes how he had pursued Israel before resorting to the dire judgment found in Hosea’s prophesies:

For she said, “I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.” … And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal. (Hosea 2:5b, 8)

Can you hear the aching grief of a scorned lover? Even as Israel pursued false gods, the Lord had mercy—instead of raining down the covenant curses Israel deserved, he lavished love on them—and Israel attributed their comfort to the pagan fertility gods. Hosea recounts that “The more [Israel’s] fruit increased, the more altars he built; as his country improved, he improved his pillars,” and while for a time God had mercifully withheld judgment, “now they must bear their guilt” (from Hosea 10:1-2).

The story of Hosea and Gomer is followed by seven chapters enumerating Israel’s sins and describing the judgment to come, coming to a devastating crescendo of utter desolation:

Therefore the tumult of war shall arise among your people, and all your fortresses shall be destroyed, as Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel on the day of battle; mothers were dashed in pieces with their children. Thus it shall be done to you, O Bethel, because of your great evil. At dawn the king of Israel shall be utterly cut off. (Hosea 10:14-15)

And then, in the very next verse, it’s as if the Lord of the universe’s voice breaks with grief. “When Israel was a child, I loved him,” he says, “and out of Egypt I called my son. … Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them” (Hosea 11:1, 3). The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob laments that after centuries of covenant relationship, it has come to this. He has wooed Israel as a lover, nurtured and raised them as a parent, and now he must discipline them as their God. Chapters 12 and 13 lay out Israel’s further sin and due judgment, and it is ugly and bloody and sad.

The book of Hosea concludes with an impassioned call to even now return to the Lord. He takes no delight in destroying his beloved (see Hosea 11:8) but desires to restore Israel to covenant relationship with himself. “I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them,” the Lord promises. The heat of God’s anger is exactly equal to the fire of his love. If he loved his people less, their unfaithfulness to him would be less offensive. But his love is fierce, and thus so is his discipline.

Were God a human, we would label these swings from judgment to compassion capricious, even vindictive. But God reminds us that “I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath” (Hosea 11:9). God is not lashing out at Israel in a rage; he is pursuing a relationship with his people, first through mercy, and now through discipline (Hosea 5:2; 7:12; 10:10).

Our Lord still pursues a relationship with his people, no longer through prophets but now through his Son, Jesus (Hebrews 1:1). In Jesus’ perfect life on earth, we see what a life of covenant faithfulness would look like–and how short we fall in comparison. In Jesus’ death on our behalf, we see all the curses, all the divine wrath described in the prophets, that our sin still deserves. Under the new covenant we see God’s justice and his love united at the cross, as the wrath of God is poured out, not on us, the unfaithful ones, but on Jesus, God’s own son. God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that we, the faithless ones, could be called the bride of Christ, and we, the ungrateful children, could be called the sons of God.

Zack and I are still working through the minor prophets. I’m still pretty intimidated by them. We often lean on our study Bible notes for historical context and interpretive support. There is a lot of judgment—but also a lot else: persistent faithfulness, deep mercy, and relentless love.

Links for the Weekend (12/14/2018)

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

A Podcast

Risen Motherhood is a podcast aimed at mothers. Here is part of their description from their About page.

This is a community that will remind you of gospel-truth, no matter how you feel about your motherhood. It’s for the imperfect mother, still learning, still growing and still fully recognizing she doesn’t have it all together, but we serve a God who does.

If you don’t know about this podcast, there’s a lot to explore on their web page. They have a list of recommended resources (music, podcasts, and books, among other things) as well as resources aimed specifically at children

Of course, their main undertaking is a podcast that releases every Wednesday. If you’re looking for a place to begin, try this interview with Nancy Guthrie on trusting God with your children.

An Article on Bible Reading

In this article at LifeWay Voices, Trevin Wax writes about how routine Bible reading can change your life.

It’s not every day that you find something extraordinary that stays with you. But every day, in the ordinary routine of reading your Bible, you’re still eating. You’re coming to the table, asking the Lord to sustain you and nourish you through His Word. You’re coming to the Gospels, looking to see the Savior again and again. This is an ordinary routine, yes, but ordinary routines can change your life.

An Advent Resource

If you’re looking for something to do with your family during Advent, try these Advent printables from Faith Gateway that correspond to the Jesus Storybook Bible. You’ll need to hand over your email address, but you’ll get an Advent reading plan that can work for kids of all ages.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

We kicked off the WPCA blog this week with a wonderful article by Erica Goehring entitled “Called Inside.” If you haven’t yet read it, check it out!


Thanks to Maggie A and Sarah W for suggestions for this batch of links!


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