Links for the Weekend (9/25/2020)

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

Be Careful What You Put Your Hope in, Including Politics

Randy Alcorn writes about hope and politics, and he shares an extended quote from Paul Tripp. Good food for thought, especially over the next six weeks.

God is the sovereign King, and He alone is the hope of this nation and every other one. Even if America crumbles (which could happen under any presidential candidate, or be delayed to sometime in the future), God is the only hope of each person and each family. He has been that all along, but perhaps this time it will be just a little more obvious.

The Siblinghood of the Saints

Being part of God’s family means not only that we can call God “Father” but also that we call each other “brother” and “sister.” Allyson Todd has some wise words about how opposite-sex relationships should look different in the church than in the world.

Surely we all must act with wisdom according to conscience in our relationships with the opposite sex. We ought to have nuance and balance. If we avoid one another, we give in to fear and distrust. If we exploit one another, we give in to selfishness and abuse. If we love one another as Jesus loved us, we demonstrate the magnificent gift of the family of God, and by this, we declare the reason for our love: it is by God alone. 

When God Says No to Your Earnest Prayers

I don’t know about you, but I need good, solid reminders about unanswered prayer on a regular basis. Here is a helpful article from Garrett Kell.

Jesus wants us to know that our heavenly Father only gives us good things (Ps. 84:11). He never gives us snakes when we ask for fish, or stones when we ask for bread. He may not give us bread or fish, but he will never withhold good from us. As John Piper once said, “[God] gives us what we ask for, or something better (not necessarily easier), if we trust him.”

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called What Do We Want for Our Friends? 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. 

Links for the Weekend (7/17/2020)

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

Sipping Poison Won’t Make You Wise (Take My Word for It!)

“Does experience with sin make you more wise or more foolish?” Because of the gripping power of turnaround testimonies, we might end up thinking wrongly here. Benjamin Merkle relates a story from his days in the Marine Corps to the temptations of our culture and reminds us where wisdom originates.

This type of temptation still pulls at each of us with an incredible power. We feel that tasting a forbidden thing will bring us greater wisdom and make us more impressive. In fact, think of how easily we can feel embarrassed by all the sins we haven’t committed! We can actually become ashamed of our own innocence. Who wants to be naïve and inexperienced? How many Christian kids are embarrassed by their virginity, even though they’re convinced they’re right in preserving it until marriage?

Respectable Sins of the Reformed World

Tim Challies writes about “respectable sins,” those which might be accepted by Christians even though the Bible forbids them. He writes about those sins to which we are particularly tempted online.

Impugning. To impugn is to dispute the truth, validity, or honesty of another person’s motives. And closely connected to disputing another person’s motives is suggesting that you know the truth behind them. There is so much of this in the Christian world today, and it generates so little disapproval, that it must be classified as respectable. Yet a little biblically-guided introspection should tell us that we often don’t even know our own motives, and if we do not know our own, how could we possibly know anyone else’s?

Prayer Will Win the Nations

If you’ve ever wondered how to pray for missionaries around the world, here is an article giving some concrete suggestions.

In fact, we must. Prayer isn’t just a passing gesture or a frivolous holiday present. Prayer is supplying missionaries with essentials for their survival. Prayer is partnership in their work, vital to its Spirit-filled efficacy and the rescue of sinners. At the risk of sounding clichéd, prayer is a matter of life and death. Our intercession protects them from harm (2 Corinthians 1:11) and provides for the gospel’s advance (Romans 15:30–32).

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called Learning from the Humiliation of Jesus. 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. 

Links for the Weekend (5/1/2020)

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

The Subversive Habit of Boastful Prayer

Trevin Wax has written before about subversive habits, by which he means habits which help keep the story of the Bible as the central story governing our lives. In this article he talks about the sort of prayer that boasts in the Lord and not in ourselves.

Boasting takes it up a notch, and in prayer it becomes subversive precisely because our natural inclination is to turn our praise toward ourselves, to speak highly of our treasures, our strengths, and our accomplishments. When we turn our focus away from ourselves and we look for reasons to boast in God, we push aside what is lesser and we grow in our love for the God we now adore specifically.

Zoomed Out: Freedom from Consuming All the Resources During Quarantine

R.D. McClenagan is exhausted by all of the content available for him to consume during the Coronavirus lockdown. He writes to remind us that the measure of how you’re doing as a Christian is not how much you are consuming or producing, but the quality of the life of your soul.

I want to give you the freedom to seek Christ and his kingdom first in this time—the freedom to be Mary in an online Martha world (Luke 10:38-42). There are many tasks to accomplish and there are many resources out there to accomplish them, but the most important task is to set your heart unto the Lord in this time. You don’t have to make your life group the most dynamic it has ever been, or figure out how to live generously like never before by the time stay-at-home orders are fully lifted, or feel the pressure to continue to project a greater spirituality to online masses than you actually have in your soul.

The Case for Donating Your Stimulus Check

Many people have seen or will soon see some money from the federal government make its way into their bank account. How should we use this money as faithful citizens of the kingdom of God? David Ingold suggests that for some people, a faithful response might be to give some or all of the money away. Whether or not you agree with his conclusion, the questions he asks (as well as the resources he provides) in this article are valuable.

The Kingdom of God is like the Shepherd who goes out into the wilderness to find the one lost sheep. It’s when prisoners go free, and the lame walk. It’s the age of Jesus, our crucified King who left his glory and riches behind to be born of a poor, virgin girl, a girl who sang out: “He has brought down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.” It’s the widow who gives her last dollar into the offering.

Was Moses Really the Author of the Pentateuch?

There is both internal and external evidence in the Bible for Moses writing the first five books of the Old Testament. Here is a short video (just 3.5 minutes) from William Wood of Reformed Theological Seminary laying out the arguments.


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

Prayer in the Newborn Days

Guys, I’m tired. We’re way past “watch a movie or read for a bit to recharge.” This is systemic, sleep deprived, newborn tired. 

The adult body needs 6–8 hours of sleep a night, but no one told babies that. For a few weeks we were fortunate to snatch one or two hours at a time overnight, or maybe less on a rough night. It’s getting marginally better, but wow could I do with one good night’s sleep. 

We all have something that we want, that our prayers return to again and again. Maybe for you it’s physical healing, a new job, greater patience, or a better relationship with your spouse, sibling, or child. I can’t speak for you, but when I pray I want to ask boldly—but also recognize “not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). 

I’ve been using Psalm 63:5–8 to guide my prayers.

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

I do a lot of “remembering [God] upon my bed … in the watches of night” these days. I would really like to be “satisfied as with fat and rich food” with a good several hours of sleep! 

The satisfaction mentioned in this Psalm, however, comes not from receiving what I want, like good food or sleep, but from remembering and meditating on God: “for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy” (Psalm 63:7). 

It’s not wrong to ask God for sleep. My body works better with adequate sleep. When I’m rested, it’s easier to be patient with my daughter, husband, and very needy son and to maintain a positive outlook on the thankless parts of the newborn days.

Psalm 63 reminds me that my truest desire, what my soul clings to and what upholds me, must be God himself. If he upholds me by providing sleep, then wonderful! But if it’s another sleepless night, then I can cling to God and trust him to uphold me another way. 

Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). We’re taught elsewhere that the God who clothes the lilies will surely meet our needs (Luke 12:27–31). God met our deepest need in redeeming us from our sin through Jesus. He also sent the Holy Spirit to live in us, to guide us and sustain us while we are on earth. The Spirit hears my sleepy and sometimes wobbly prayers and intercedes for me before the Father (Romans 8:26–27). 

There’s tremendous comfort in this truth, but also a call to obedience. It’s tempting to use my lack of sleep to excuse sin, such as being short-tempered. My thinking sounds like Adam in the garden (Gen. 3:12): “The night’s sleep you gave me was too short, so I snapped at my husband.” I must rely on the Holy Spirit to change me and equip me to do right and avoid sin, just as much as I lean on him to supply the energy to change the next diaper. And when I fail, I cling to God’s reliable forgiveness and love: “your right hand upholds me” (Psalm 63:8).

I’ve tried to shape my prayers more along these lines: “God, please give me sleep tonight! Or, please give me the divine strength and stamina for the next day.” 

This makes it sound like I’m a content, spiritually satisfied person every day. Nope—I still really want sleep, and if I’m honest, in my flesh I want sleep more than I want to cling to God. So I re-read the note card by my bed where I wrote these verses, and pray for God to reorient my heart toward him.

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Links for the Weekend (4/3/2020)

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

It Takes Theology to Lament

A lament is a biblical prayer that is sadly out of favor these days. But it is just the type of prayer we need when things are not right with us or in the world. Mark Vroegop writes about the theology that is needed in order to lament.

Most laments contain four elements: turn, complain, ask, and trust. Each is designed to move the weary-hearted saint toward a renewal of hope in God’s character, even when dark clouds linger. Turning to God in prayer is the first step. It refuses to allow a deadly prayerlessness to develop. Complaining lays out our hurts in blunt but humble terms. We tell God what is wrong and the depth of our struggles. Asking reclaims the promises of God’s word that seem distant, and it calls upon him to intervene. Finally, all laments end in trust. This is where biblical lament is designed to lead – a faith-filled renewal of what we know to be true.

COVID-19: Living by Probabilities or Providence?

If you’ve been paying a lot of attention to the coronavirus-related statistics in the news recently, this article might be for you. Mike Emlet encourages us to turn our gaze (and our trust) to the Lord.

Sit with these glorious realities for a minute. Read through them slowly. Let them soak into your soul. We don’t live by probabilities and chance. We live under the loving, wise, and sovereign rule of our Creator and Redeemer God. The result of that is true hope, which steers clear of both a naïve optimism or a resigned pessimism.

A Prayer for Working from Home

This is exactly what the title says. You may not think you need such a prayer, but if you’re not used to working from home, I suggest you take a look.


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 (2/21/2020)

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 (2/7/2020)

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 (1/10/2020)

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

Why Bible Reading Can Be Such a Challenge

The Gospel Coalition is running an initiative to read through the Bible in 2020, and this article is a companion to the launch of that project. Don Carson writes about the challenges of reading Scripture and how this reading initiative can help.

The challenge has become increasingly severe in recent years, owing to several factors. All of us must confront the regular sins of laziness or lack of discipline, sins of the flesh, and of the pride of life. But there are additional pressures. The sheer pace of life affords us many excuses for sacrificing the important on the altar of the urgent. The constant sensory input from all sides is gently addictive—we become used to being entertained and diverted, and it is difficult to carve out the space and silence necessary for serious and thoughtful reading of Scripture.

A Good Funeral is a Blessing to the Soul

Often funerals are the occasion of great sadness and grief. But a good, Christ-soaked funeral can also bless and strengthen those who attend. This meditation on a funeral from Adam York is a great testimony of a great funeral.

So, then, what could possibly cause a funeral to be a blessing? Only the gospel. Death is a result of sin, yet God sent his Son to conquer death through his death, burial, and resurrection. Even as death is conquered it still happens in this mortal life until Jesus returns, yet death has been conquered to the point that God can use it to challenge us to live for and magnify his kingdom. God can use a funeral to challenge us to be more like Lula Mae as she was more like Jesus.

5 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor in 2020

Most of us probably know we should be praying for our pastors. But this article gives specific, practical ways to pray. Very helpful. (I promise that neither Pastor Don nor Pastor Phil put me up to this!)

With so much opposition and difficulty within and without, pastors constantly need the people of God to be praying for them. The shepherd needs the prayers of the sheep as much as they need his prayers. He also is one of Christ’s sheep and is susceptible to the same weaknesses.


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

Rejoice Always

Recently at youth group we read 1 Thessalonians 5:16, one of the shortest verses in the Bible. It says, simply, “Rejoice always.” Thinking about it after, though, it struck me how it’s linked with the next verses. Here are the following verses, and notice that “Rejoice always” is part of a sentence: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Joy in All Things

Paul commands us to rejoice always and we should recognize that joy is not the same as happiness. Happiness comes and goes and is dependent on our circumstances at any given moment. Joy, on the other hand, is a state of mind, rooted deep within us in the knowledge that whatever may come, God is in control and that it’s all for our good and for His glory.

But that doesn’t mean joy always comes easily. Even now, I know people—some close to me—who are struggling with medical issues, financial challenges, and life changes that are difficult. These are people who, in a way, would have every right to be miserable or angry with their circumstances. But Paul says to have joy always. How can any of us rejoice all the time?

Prayer is the Key

The apostle gives us the answer: “pray without ceasing.” If prayer is simply having a conversation with God, then praying constantly shouldn’t be a difficult proposition. It doesn’t mean we have to walk around 24 hours a day with our heads bowed and our eyes closed (though there is certainly a time and place for that), but it does mean that we should allow ample time talking to the One who knows us best.

Part of prayer is recognizing who God is and what He has done for us. Think of the titles we use and what they mean in relation to God’s character. We call Him “God,” “Lord,” “Creator,” “Father,” “Savior,” “Spirit.” God sent His Son, who died and rose, that justice might be satisfied and our sins forgiven. Prayer is a great reminder of these things.

Thanksgiving All Year

Which brings us to the last clause of the sentence: “give thanks in all circumstances.” As we spend time in prayer, contemplating who God is and what He has done, it reorients us. It causes us to take our focus off of our problems and, instead, focuses us on the One who is in control of our problems. And that change in focus leads to thankfulness. It also brings us full circle. As we think about and give thanks for what the Lord has done, it causes our joy to deepen. And that makes it easier to “rejoice always.”

Paul’s command in this sentence is not an impossible one. Paul likely knew that life’s problems cause us to focus on ourselves. It’s easy to worry when things don’t seem to be going our way. But an attentiveness to prayer—and the awareness that brings as we’re reminded of the God who loves us no matter what we go through—changes our worry to joy. Then we will have what we need to follow the command to “Rejoice always.”

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Links for the Weekend (11/8/2019)

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

Comparison Steals More Than Joy

Brittany Allen writes about comparison, envy, and the sorts of truth that we really need to hear.

We need truths about Jesus. Truths that cause us to be overcome by thankfulness and gratitude. Truths that ingrain a trust in the Lord that seeps deep into our hearts. A trust that freely and humbly appeals to the Lord about our desires, but submits to His timing and will, knowing what He chooses to give or withhold are both His grace.

What Kind of Older Man Will I Be?

Here’s a short article at For The Church which tells the story of two godly older men and highlights their prayer for others. The author writes about good and bad ways to age in faith and ministry.

The examples of T.S. Mooney and William Thomas really help. Like them, I want to be an older man who disciples younger men with the confidence that the Lord will use them greatly in the future. Some men, as they grow older, become increasingly critical of younger believers. That’s such an unhelpful attitude. Instead, I want to teach younger men the Bible, believing they will grow and honor Jesus. 

Kanye West Proclaims Jesus Is King

The subject of iconic rapper Kanye West’s conversion to Christianity has been fodder for lots of online discussion over the past weeks and months. John Stonestreet pulls back a bit and asks us to consider celebrity conversions in general.

This foolish embrace of our cultural tendency toward celebrity worship has infected the church in so many ways, as evidenced by a generation of musicians and leaders in the church seeking to be famous and “have a platform” instead of being discipled and educated and obedient.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called The Glory of Repetitive Tasks. If you haven’t already seen it, check it out!

Thanks to Cliff L for help 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.