Links for the Weekend (10/4/2019)

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

Your Church Needs You to Sing

At Desiring God, Nick Aufenkamp writes about singing in church. I especially appreciated his teaching on how our singing testifies to God’s faithfulness and exhorts our fellow believers. Yet another way we need each other!

Singing is vital to the edification of the church. And it’s not enough that just a few people sing — Paul is telling you to sing for the benefit of your brothers and sisters. But how does your voice benefit your church — especially if your singing voice sounds like a dog’s howl?

The discipline of listening

When our friends are suffering, they often need our presence much more than a sermon. Sophia Lee has a great piece in World Magazine about the importance of sitting with our friends and listening to them.

I try to practice the grace, humility, and lovingkindness my friend demonstrated that day. It’s not easy, because I have to fight my natural inclinations toward impatience and selfishness and pride. But it’s also easy, because the burden isn’t on me to fix things—often impossible for anyone other than God—but to simply listen.

Finding Joy on the Other Side of Guilt

Here’s a story about the death of a pet ladybug and a lesson about the fallout from sin and the change the gospel brings.

Every day, I encounter opportunities to get it wrong and hurt people through my choices (because sin always hurts both myself and others). And sometimes I can stand there like my daughter, wracked with guilt over what I’ve done, not sure how to make things right. In that moment, Paul’s next words are like a cup of cold water for my soul: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).

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. 

Links for the Weekend (9/13/2019)

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

A Letter to a Reader about the Battle against Sin

I would guess most Christians have wrestled with this question as they walk with the Lord. And Barry York provides an excellent, short answer. Here’s the key question.

How can someone know if they are a legitimate Christian struggling with sin versus an unbeliever in sin? And what should a Christian struggling with sin do when he feels defeated?

How to Kill Your Anger so You Can Represent Christ to the World

How do you respond to anger from others directed at you? How do you respond to your own anger? Amy K. Hall helps us with sound advice from the Bible. We are not to fight anger with more anger.

Lest anyone think all anger must be expressed in order for one to be “healthy,” it’s important to note that ignoring your anger is not the same thing as fighting and killing it, though both are attempts to avoid expressing that anger against others. The first will only cause the anger to build up until you can’t ignore it anymore. The second dispenses with it in a way that glorifies God and respects the people around you.

God’s Sovereign Plans Behind Your Most Unproductive Days

In this episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast, John Piper answers a question from a listener who struggles with efficiency in her life. Piper works through an imaginary scenario—and then two passages from the Bible—to show us how God’s purposes may frustrate our desire for efficiency. Have a listen or read the transcript here.

Then walk in the peace and freedom that, when it shatters on the rocks of reality (which it will most days), you’re not being measured by God by how much you get done. You’re being measured by whether you trust the goodness and the wisdom and the sovereignty of God to work this new mess of inefficiency for his glory and the good of everyone involved, even when you can’t see how.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called God May Postpone Your Relief for His Glory. 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 (8/16/2019)

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

The Commuter Bible Podcast

If you’re looking to spend more time in the Bible, consider the Commuter Bible podcast, created by John Ross. Each episode is around 30 minutes long, perfect for a commute, a workout, or chores around the house or office. Released on weekdays (and excluding official U.S. holidays), over the course of a year you’ll listen to the entire Bible (CSB translation).

Overcoming the Fear of Evangelism

Juan Sanchez knows that evangelism is easy for some and difficult for many. He takes Jesus’s promises in the Great Commission (that he is with us and he is sovereign) and helpfully traces out the implications for different situations that call for us to share the gospel.

You see, because Jesus is with us and because He is sovereign over all things (including salvation), we can share the gospel courageously and confidently. Christ will build His church, and we need not fear what man may do to us.

Is It True That God “Loves the Sinner but Hates the Sin”?

In this brief video, Stephen Nichols looks at the biblical evidence for this common phrase. He concludes that we don’t do sinners any favors by trying to downplay the wrath of God.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called Grandparents, We Need You! 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. 

How to Resist Sins of Conformity

We’ve all been there. You’re cruising on the interstate and you take a casual glance at your speedometer. Whoa—you were NOT prepared for that!

How did this happen?

You were in the flow of traffic, going along with the crowd. Your speeding probably won’t lead to a ticket, but any police officer who stopped you would be justified. You were flat-out guilty.

What is a Sin of Conformity?

Many sins in our lives follow this pattern. We get swept along in the tide and can’t believe what we’ve done. We’re always responsible for our actions, but sometimes social pressure tempts us in powerful ways.

Sins of conformity happen when, because of the pressure to fit in, you adopt the sinful action or inaction of a group. Active sins in this category include gossip, coarse language, and spending above your means. (This is just a sample.) Sins of omission show up too—prayerlessness, failing to care for the poor, and failing to evangelize can be epidemic in churches.

An Incremental Slide

With good intentions, how can we end up with such rotten behavior?

The answer, as always, is our hearts. Though a Christian’s heart is being transformed by God, the old man lurks. He tempts us with empty promises and false treasures.

Most people crave the approval and acceptance of their peers. To secure this love, we adopt the practices, preferences, and values of our social group.

This happens by increments. Few people wake up one morning determined to gossip about a coworker. But after weeks of indulging office chatter, we slide from tolerating to agreeing with to participating in the sin.

Waking Up

In his mercy, God alerts us to sins of conformity in one of three ways.

Sometimes, God convicts us supernaturally. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the damage we’re doing to ourselves and others.

Other times we see a righteous example. A “slow” car in our lane obeys the speed limit, or an officemate speaks up for the slandered.

Finally, we might be confronted with our sin. A godly friend rebukes us for inappropriate joking or an audit uncovers dishonest use of money at work. Though it might seem severe, God can use the consequences of our sin to bring us to repentance.

Gospel Power

Even when you’re convicted about a sin of conformity, it can be hard to stop. Refusing the sin means resisting the social pressure that makes the temptation powerful. How will you handle upsetting the group?

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the key. We all want to be liked and included, and if you’re a Christian, you are! You are a child of God, eternally a member of his family. Because Jesus was excluded for a time on the cross, you are loved and welcomed in the best way imaginable. Though your repentance may displease your friends, be confident that God is pleased with you. All the favor and approval you want from other people, you have in your sovereign, loving, heavenly father.

Avoiding These Sins

Though we think of peer pressure mostly for adolescents, sins of conformity are present in all social groups. Repenting of these sins is one matter, but how can we avoid them?

  1. Pray. Pray that God will sharpen your conscience and make you aware of your weaknesses, your temptations, and the group pressures you face. Pray for the Spirit’s help to stand firm in the gospel.
  2. Read the Bible. The Scriptures replace the loud, urgent messages of our peers with the eternal truths of God’s law and his love.
  3. Nurture close friendships. You need at least one person in your life who can—and will—ask you anything. He knows your struggles and tendencies, and you can talk honestly with him about your wider social circles. Sin is deceptive, so we must have devoted friends with whom we speak regularly and deeply about the most important things in life.

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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. 

Is “Killing Sin” on Your To-Do List Today?

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Well, it ought to be. And, it needs to be.

“Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” These are the words of seventeenth-century English theologian and pastor John Owen. Recently, on my study leave, I was reading a book he authored, The Mortification of Sin, which I highly recommend. (Ed. note: This work is available for purchase at places like Amazon, but it is also available for free in digital and audio formats.)

This is an aspect of the Christian life that I think (at age 62!) I’m just getting to understand. It’s a matter of life and death. Mortifying (putting to death) sin is not the same as repentance. Repentance takes place after we’ve sinned. Mortification is dealing with our sin before it deals with us.

A key verse is Romans 8:13: “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

Probably the best way I can get across what Owen says is to share a few quotes with you here.

Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it while you live; cease not a day from this work.

Indwelling sin always abides while we are in this world; therefore it is always to be mortified.

So, believers need to be aware that “sin is crouching at the door” and that “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” And, by the help of God’s Spirit, we must be making a fight for our lives.

Two encouraging thoughts as I conclude.

  1. This is a work of God’s Spirit in you (see Romans 8:13 above). Don’t do this in your own strength. Read, meditate, and look to the Scriptures. Ask God for help, talk and share with (and ask for prayer from) other believers.
  2. Your new natural tendency (if you know Jesus Christ) in the Holy Spirit is “to be acting against the flesh” (Owen). In other words, this is a battle, but we’ve been equipped fully to fight it!

So, is killing sin on your (and my) to-do list today? It needs to be. Jesus has set us free. We are going to make it home by his grace. But on the journey, lean on him and make it your daily work to kill sin—preemptively. Romans 8:13 promises that, as you do, you will really live!

Note: This article originally appeared in the Fall 2018 WPCA newsletter.

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