Links for the Weekend (8/9/2019)

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

Make Sunday Mornings Uncomfortable

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

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

Three Cautions and Encouragements for Dads

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

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

El Paso, Dayton, and Gilroy

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

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

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


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

Links for the Weekend (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. 

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. 

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 (5/17/2019)

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

Exercise for More of God

I love this article from Stacy Reaoch at Desiring God. She guides us around worldly motivations for exercise to reasons that befit children of God.

Personally, I exercise as much for the emotional benefits as for the physical benefits. Throughout my adult life, I’ve been prone to emotional highs and lows, and sometimes the lows are pretty deep. Some days, I need to pray for strength to get out of bed and do the next thing, exercise being one of them. I’ve learned that as I keep the discipline of heading to the gym or going out for a jog, I’m rewarded with a happier spirit and an increase in energy. God often uses exercise as a means to turn my sullen mood toward a joyful one.
And when my body is not dragging me down, I find it less difficult to delight myself in the Lord. Exercise has a way of clearing the cobwebs from my brain and helping to hold my focus on the promises of Scripture. It wakes me up to more readily hear the sound of God’s voice through Bible reading and meditation. It can help me to focus on memorizing a particular section of Scripture and keep me engaged as I pray for the needs around me.

8 Ways for Men to Make the Friends They Won’t Admit They Need

William Boekestein has an article at The Gospel Coalition that is worth checking out. He gives eight suggestions for men to succeed in the old-fashioned but desperately needed art of friendship.

Many men today struggle with maintaining male friendships. This claim doesn’t need to be argued. We know it. I personally have a sporadic friendship track-record. Particularly in my early years of ministry, my lack of male friendships was actually inhibiting the full expression of my humanity. I still have a long way to go.

I Love Parenting Teenagers!

It is wonderful to read how a Christian approach to an area of life can completely upend the world’s cynicism. Tim Challies writes about five of the reasons he loves parenting his (three) teenagers.

Now, with my youngest having just turned thirteen and my eldest not yet twenty, we are in a brief period where all we’ve got is teenagers. And I’m glad to report that those skeptics were wrong. These aren’t the worst years, but the best. I wouldn’t say they are the easiest years, but they’re undoubtedly the most joyful. I absolutely love parenting teenagers, and here are a few of the reasons why.


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 (3/1/2019)

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

When God Says ‘No’

Melissa Kruger helps us think about why God seems not to hear us, or why he seems not to care, when he doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want.

I’ve seen the Lord teach me these very lessons by withholding the things I wanted so much. And, yet, when a new “no” is given, I stumble around in the darkness of my understanding, wondering again what the Lord is doing and why he withholds the yes I believe I so desperately need. It’s tempting to believe the lie that a yes from God confirms his blessing, while a no is a form of punishment or heavenly disapproval. Or perhaps, we wonder, does God even hear our desperate cries?

Is Your Smartphone Making You Unhappy?

At The Good Book Company’s blog, Emily Robertson writes about contentment and the comparisons we tend to make when using (and over-using) our phones. An article like this could read like a ten-minute scold, but Robertson points us to Christ and leaves us with hope instead. I appreciate that!

Comparison is not a modern phenomenon. (The phrase, “all comparisons are odious” was recorded as early as the 15th century. And you don’t have to read very far into the Bible to see the destructive outworkings of envy.) But, arguably, this age-old struggle has been intensified in the 21st century by the rise of personal technology and social media.

Your Fight Against Sin Is Normal

Brian Hedges offers hope for saints who are weary in their fight against sin: the conflict is normal, the battle is winnable, and the war is coming to an end.

Athletes speak of hitting the wall when they experience extreme exhaustion due to depleted reserves of glycogen in the liver and muscles. Many believers feel similar spiritually. If you find yourself in an ongoing cycle of three steps forward, two steps back; if your prayers, resolutions, and frustrated attempts at mortification still leave you struggling with the same old sins; if you are weary in the race set before you and feel ready to quit, you’ve hit the wall.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published Sarah Wisniewski’s article, God Is in the Fish. Check it out!

Thanks to Maggie A for helping me round up articles this week!


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

Links for the Weekend (2/22/2019)

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

Don’t Waste Your Weaknesses

I don’t know about you, but I am reluctant to dwell too much on my weaknesses. But, in this post by John Piper, I’m reminded that my weaknesses are not an accident or a surprise to God! Piper encourages us to consider how to glorify God in our weaknesses, and he uses one of his own weaknesses as an example.

We can sum up the purpose of Paul’s weakness like this: securing Paul’s humility and showing Christ’s power. That’s why God made sure Paul had weaknesses: to keep him “from becoming conceited” and to give him a more obvious experience of the power of Christ resting on him.

How to Be a Friend at All Times (Even When You Don’t Have Time)

Winfree Brisley writes for The Gospel Coalition about being a good friend. I appreciate this article because she acknowledges how hard this is with a busy life, but she gives practical suggestions.

In this season of having three kids between the ages of 5 months and 5 years, so many wonderful things get pushed aside for the tyranny of the urgent. It’s tempting to hunker down at home and pretend that outside relationships and responsibilities don’t exist. If I’m honest, friendships with other women can seem like those magazine cover photos—a beautiful idea that I don’t have the capacity to realize amid the demands of my chaotic life.

How to Soak the Next Generation in God’s Word

After encouraging moms to cherish their own Bibles and share it with their children, Jani Ortlund writes about the benefits of passing along God’s word. It’s a great vision to catch and spread!

How do we help children revere and feast on the most influential book of all time? No book has sold more copies, in more languages—ever. No book has affected the world more deeply. How can we raise Bible soaked and saturated children, teenagers, and young adults?


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