Links for the Weekend (8/14/2020)

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

“Your will be done”: powerful not pathetic

Praying that God’s will be done can be a meaningless habit or a way to guard against disappointment. But Stephen Liggins shows how we follow Jesus’s example (and his heart) in praying this way.

And think about all the situations we encounter where we just don’t know what to pray. Relational dynamics can get so messy that, other than praying generally that all people would be saved and treat each other in a loving manner, it is hard to know exactly what to hope for. Thankfully, we can pour our hearts out about the situations—whether they be in the home, workplace or schoolyard—pray that God’s will would be done, and then rest in the confidence that he will do what is best.

But I’ve Never Been Discipled!

Christians are called to make disciples, but many have never been part of a good mentoring relationship. Quina Aragon encourages us to press ahead anyway. She writes about what discipleship is and how we can be a part of this whole-church project.

Discipleship often means just showing up. It means praying alongside someone in a meeting. It means discussing what you learned from the sermon. It means singing loudly enough to encourage the people around you—even if your voice isn’t choir-material. It means living the Christian life in a way that models Christ and inviting others to live it alongside you.

Podcast: Hymns and the Joy of Singing (Kristyn Getty)

The Crossway podcast recently featured Kristyn Getty, a popular hymn writer and singer. From the episode’s description:

In this episode, Kristyn Getty, featured in the ESV Psalms, Read by Kristyn Getty, discusses congregational singing, the power of music for teaching doctrine, and the foundational role of Scripture for the Christian life. She reflects on her career in the Christian music industry, explains why hymns still matter and are worth learning today, and shares how her family has been seeking to use music to serve others during this season of lockdown.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called Turn to Serve and Wait: Our Christian Calling. If you haven’t already seen it, check it out!


Thanks to Maggie A for her 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. 

The Right-Now Blessings of the Kingdom of God

Christians have a sure hope of heaven. Because Jesus has paid for our sin and we have received his righteousness, we are children of God who will be with our Father forever.

That’s wonderful! But, some might ask, what’s in it for me now?

Though most Christians don’t ask this question in polite company, many have wondered. Aren’t there some tangible, present-time benefits of being a Christian? Or must we wait entirely for heaven?

We Have Left Our Home

Jesus addresses this matter with his disciples on the heels of his interaction with the rich ruler in Luke 18. The ruler wants to do something to inherit eternal life, and Jesus pokes his finger where it hurts.

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22)

The ruler leaves in grief because he is so wealthy, and Jesus notes how difficult it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. This doesn’t rule out the possibility of prosperous Christians, however, because “what is impossible with man is possible with God” (Luke 18:27).

Peter then says, “See, we have left our homes and followed you” (Luke 18:28). Peter must be thinking back to Jesus’s words in verse 22. We have done what the ruler did not. What does that mean for us?

Jesus’ reply is stunning.

And he said to them, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Luke 18:29–30)

There is eternal life to come, but the blessings of the kingdom of God start now. And those blessings are abundant.

Blessings in this Time

We can almost hear the gears turning in Peter’s head. What is it that we receive now?

Jesus is not talking about wealth. That wouldn’t make sense in the context of leaving house and family, and it doesn’t fit after the warning about material riches.

There are probably hundreds of gifts we could discuss, but let’s focus on three.

The Freedom from the Grip of Idols

If an idol is anything (even a good thing) that occupies a commanding place in one’s heart, then the ruler made an idol of his wealth. Jesus told him to sell everything—not because this is a universal command to all believers, but because Jesus wanted the ruler to confront his idol. Sadly, the ruler was devoted to his riches.

When we follow Jesus, we start down the path of freedom from our idols. Jesus calls us to this freedom and gives us the power to make this freedom happen.

To determine the idols that occupy our hearts, we must ask ourselves: Where do I turn for refuge, safety, comfort, or escape? What brings me hope or causes me despair? It could be family, reputation, achievement, politics, or work. It might be a dozen other things.

If you’ve identified one or more idols here, don’t despair. It simply means that you are a human being. Jesus is eager to help idolatrous humans like us!

The Church

In the first century, a disciple who left his family (Luke 18:29) was leaving virtually all of his friends and contacts. With a few exceptions, he probably didn’t know any other disciples, but he was so compelled by Jesus that it didn’t matter.

We may lose family and acquaintances when we follow Christ, but we gain so much more. Christians who have joined a healthy, local church know the joy of belonging to a new family (Matt 12:46–50).

The people in the church are our brothers and sisters (Rom 8:29). They care for us; they help us with physical, emotional, and spiritual needs; they share a mission and a vision with us. In prayer, in gathering around the Scriptures, they point us toward the most important things in life—loving God and loving our neighbors.

The Presence of God

The disciples walked the same roads as Jesus. This was its own blessing—they learned from and were cared for by the Son of God! This is the very gift Jesus wanted to give the ruler in Luke 18.

And this gift is just as present for us. We have the Holy Spirit, and Jesus said that in some ways we have it better than his first-century followers.

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7)

The presence of God—lost in the garden of Eden, accessible to a select few in the tabernacle and temple, described and promised in the psalms and prophets—is a real, glorious gift for Christians right now.

Not Just in the Age to Come

The best earthly blessings resonate with us because they offer a foretaste of heaven. Freedom from sin, the fellowship of believers, the presence of God—we long to have these gifts in full!

But the good news of this passage is that leaving everything to follow Jesus has benefits now. These present-time blessings strengthen us, encourage us, and develop our affections for eternity.

Photo credit

Links for the Weekend (5/22/2020)

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

When My Idol in Motherhood Is Me

I’m guessing that every parent has had to grapple with anger at their children. Aurlyn Wygle took the time to think about the cause of her anger, and she came to a startling fact: her biggest problem as a mother was not the sin in her sons, it was the sin in her.

The more that I lay this idol at the feet of Jesus, the more He gives me eyes to see my sons the same way He sees me—with compassion, and like sheep without a shepherd. I certainly still have frequent moments of anger. But now I know that the anger is pointing to a deep-rooted sin inside of me, not them. The Lord is working to expose this in order that I might lovingly and graciously engage my children, raise them in righteousness and enjoy them.

Life on Life Discipleship

Podcast host Karen Hodge and guest Cheryl Mullis talk about life-on-life discipleship within the church. What sort of transformation could a culture like this create? This podcast is a resource produced by the PCA’s Committee on Discipleship Ministries (CDM).

Flattery is not Encouragement

We are commanded to encourage each other but forbidden from flattery. The problem is, they can sound very similar! How can we tell the difference, both in ourselves and in others?

It’s difficult to distinguish between the two because it’s often a matter of motive. Flattery is defined in Webster’s dictionary as “praise excessively especially from motives of self-interest.” Sometimes flattery is detectable because it is “excessive,” but other times it’s simply the motive of the speaker that differentiates it from encouragement.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called Learning to Lament. If you haven’t already seen it, check it out!

Thanks to Maggie A for her 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.