Links for the Weekend (10/22/2021)

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

Churchgoers May Remember Song Lyrics Over Sermon Quotes

Jen Wilkin writes about the power of song to help us remember. She also challenges her readers to consider the particular formative effects of the songs they sing.

It matters whether those who lead us in song see their task as creating a mood or a memory. If primarily a mood, lyrics can take a back seat to vocals and instrumentation. If primarily a memory, the lyrics are critically important. Like the Psalms, they should be able to stand on their own, combined with music or not.

Not Easily Offended

Part of loving others well is learning how to be not easily offended.

If this is the common experience of true believers, then it means that we should be willing to bear long with others. If we have known the continual battle between the flesh and the Spirit in our own life, then we should be ready to walk with others who know the same experience. This is why Jesus taught Peter that believers are to forgive their brother or sister if he or she comes and repents “seventy-seven times” (Matt. 18:21–22).

Leaving a Legacy of Bible Reading

As we aim to influence others, especially our children, to read the Bible, Sarah Humphrey writes that our example is powerful.

As we lead children into the Word, the best way for them to actually become interested is by seeing us already invested. I can tell my kids to practice the piano all day long, but it’s when I sit down at the bench to play that they come and sit with me. I can encourage them to make their own toast each morning, but it’s when I show them how, that they feel empowered to make their own breakfast. Teaching the Bible is no different. It comes with the patience, explanation, and the beauty of storytelling that will engage and interest them by showing them the worth of what is inside.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called Lamenting Like a Christian. 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. 

Lamenting Like a Christian

It takes no particular religious conviction to complain about the world. But lament is different. The Bible shows us how God’s people throughout time have lamented as his people.

So what does it look like to lament as a Christian? How do we bring our sorrows and pain to God in a way that is specific to followers of Jesus?

Full of Faith

Biblical lament is full of faith. Those who lament know both the character and promises of God. They know God himself. At the same time, the pain and sorrow they suffer in the world don’t line up with what they know of God.

Here is the spark in the furnace of lament for each believer: My anguish in the world doesn’t match the reality I’d expect if the God I know had fully and finally set everything right.

That gap between our knowledge of God and our experience of the world is the space for faith. We need not have watertight answers or certain solutions, but we can turn to trust the one who holds all things together, knowing he is good and wise.

Broken By the Fall

Adam and Eve were the first king and queen of God’s world, and when they fell, everything came crashing down. All the groans ever groaned can be traced back to that original sin.

To be sure, some of the sickness and tragedy on earth may result directly from sinful deeds, evidence of God’s pointed judgment. But this is incredibly hard to discern; it’s safer to say that our hardships are traceable to the general broken state of the world we inherit and in which we participate.

The reasons for lament point to the brokenness of the world, and that brokenness points to sin. It’s exactly this simple: Without sin, the world—our bodies, our relationships, our surroundings—would not be corrupted in any way.

Jesus and the Kingdom

Jesus came to bring God’s kingdom to earth. He came as the perfect human king to rule on God’s throne. And that mission of rule and reconciliation was of necessity also a mission of suffering and sacrifice.

The imperfect and frequently despicable kings of Israel and Judah pointed to the coming of an incorruptible king. When Jesus began his ministry announcing that the kingdom of God was at hand (Mark 1:15), those steeped in the Old Testament would not have reacted with confusion but relief. He’s here!

Jesus’s miracles were brief, glorious windows into the emerging kingdom of God. The blind would see, the lame would walk, and the hungry would be fed. Sickness would flee, and the dead would rise. In those flickers of restoration we saw the curse being lifted by the corner and peeled back.

As the cross came closer, many around Jesus assumed he would pursue a political path to kingship. This excited some and angered many others. But Jesus spoke of death and resurrection, not coronation. He made it clear (to those with ears to hear) that a fully realized kingdom of God on earth would happen in the future, not immediately. Yet Jesus’s unmistakable resurrection also underlined the fact that his kingdom was imminent.

Final Fullness

Lament is our longing for this full and future kingdom to come now. It is our cry with the apostle John—“Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)

We want God’s kingdom to arrive in its final fullness with the rightful king on his throne. This king will bear the marks of this world in his scarred body. He himself has traveled a path of pain and agony. The bloody sweat at Gethsemane and the mournful cries on the cross bear witness to Jesus’s journey of lament.

When the end finally comes—when all hopes have been realized and the curse is no more—there will be no more need for lament. We will have our full and final comfort in the form of our strong and kind king. We will be at home and there will be no distance between our experience and our longings.

The Man of Sorrows—who bore our sin, who mourned and lamented in our place—makes our present-day lamenting possible. We lament as Christians when we cry out to God in our pain, trust him to keep his promises, and look ahead to the glorious kingdom that Jesus has secured for us.

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Links for the Weekend (10/15/2021)

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

“Just Say No”? 3 Practical Ways to Resist Temptation

Using the book of James, Lee Hutchings writes about how to effectively fight temptation. His three pieces of advice: focus on how temptation works, focus on the goodness and love of God, and focus on our status as new creatures in Christ.

Sometimes the battle is lost in temptation because we feel resigned to inevitable defeat. Maybe we’ve committed a sin so often, with so little power to resist, that we feel hopeless and helpless. Pastor James reminds us in verse 18 that God, “of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.” We may feel weighed down, and that we have no strength to overcome temptation, but that’s not the truth of our position, if we are in Christ. Paul writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Live not by outrage

Samuel James wrote a helpful column at World about how social media companies profit on the outrage of their users. He includes thoughts on how Christians should be known differently.

Why have Christians not done more to rise above this ideological swamp? Part of the answer is that many of us are more excited about politics than truth. But another answer is that too few Christians are thinking critically about the consequences of technology: how constant, never-ending access to information, untethered from accountability and community, might be training our spirits in a way that is antithetical to the discipline of taking every thought captive to the mind of Christ. 

Putting Our Contentment to the Test

Amber Thiessen reflects on contentment using the perspective of a newborn baby.

When our babies cry out, they’re letting us know something’s up and they need us. As caring parents, we seek to provide for them by changing their diaper, snuggling them, or feeding them. If you’ve ever reached that frustrating moment where you’ve tried everything, twice, to help them settle to no avail, you know that feeling of helplessness and fatigue.

God knows what you need.


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 (10/8/2021)

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

The Gentleness of God

God’s gentleness is one of his often-overlooked traits. And how precious it is!

So too, in light of this, we can hardly be surprised by the fact that the gentleness of God shines through in the life of the incarnate Son. He is truly the one who is gentle and lowly. In all his dealings with people in every circumstance of life – right down to his concern for his mother at the cross – his gentle spirit is manifest in his heart for others.

How Moms Can Model God’s Grace

Here’s an excerpt of a book by Gloria Furman. She writes about the way a deep understanding of God’s grace shapes the life of a mother. (As I often note, this is not just for mothers!)

As one hymn writer wrote, “All the fitness he requireth is to feel your need of him.” Grace is the most important thing for us to keep in mind as we shape the expectations of our home. Our children need to grow up knowing, “We always trust God because he’s willing and able to help us,” and, “We always praise God because he is our most valuable treasure.” And we need to get up every morning knowing, “I always trust God because he’s willing and able to help me.”

Men, Are You Submissive?

The Bible calls us all to be submissive. Michael Kruger draws out some implications of this for men. (Not just for men!)

Perhaps, then, we need to recalibrate the way we think about—and talk about—submission in the church. Rather than repeatedly focusing on just one example (Eph. 5:22), we need to call all Christians to submit to whatever authorities are over them. 

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article written by Allan Edwards called Remember Who You Are. 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. 

Remember Who You Are

The stories we tell ourselves matter. Go into work thinking everyone’s out to get you and you’ll find yourself paranoid and agitated. Remember how much your family loves you and you’ll walk in the door ready to dole out hugs and kisses. There’s a connection between the story we tell ourselves and how we relate to the world around us.

This is especially true for Christians who join the story of their life to the great story of life itself when they lose themselves in being united to Jesus by faith. Our story gets swooped up into his. “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me,” writes St. Paul, “for me to live is Christ.”

Too often followers of Jesus forget whose story they’re living in. Their own failures or problems of the world dominate the story of their lives more than the glorious good news of King Jesus’s resurrection and reign. One Scottish minister gazed at a congregation of Presbyterians and, for the long look in their faces during worship, asked, “Have yae all been baptized in vinegar?”

Is it any wonder that anger, resentment, and broken relationships characterize our churches? Or that our defense of the faith is more reactionary arguments than gracious invitations? No wonder many of us lack any power to fight off sin and temptation in our lives.

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” writes the author of Hebrews. What do we hope for? What is the true but unseen story? Namely, that we who have believed have been bought with a price. We are not slaves but sons of the most high. Jesus isn’t ashamed to call us family. We’re destined for the New Jerusalem where every tear will be wiped away and God himself will be our light. This is our story!

What if we believed it?

In his fantasy adventure novel “North! Or Be Eaten,” Andrew Petersen writes of two brothers, long lost princes. One is hideously transformed into a beast when he loses hope in the true story of his kingdom. After he attacks his older brother, both boys are bedridden, one from injuries, the other having been restrained, for days on end. Each morning the boy’s mother asks her beastly son, “What is your name?” only to be met with a growl. But each night the older brother whispers stories of their youth to his transformed brother—stories of their childhood games, adventures, songs—till at long last one morning their mama comes down to their room and asks the beast, “What is your name?” and is delighted to hear “My name is Kal, son of the High King.”

He listens to stories of his true self and then, as the shadow passes, he believes them, and he remembers who he is.

Do you have a story teller reminding you of who you are? A gospel speaker whispering “beloved, child of God, adopted, chosen, made new” in your ears? How precious and powerful—to remember the true story of our identity and so live with hope for things as yet unseen.

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Links for the Weekend (10/1/2021)

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

I Searched for the Key to Discipleship

Is the key to discipleship found in books? In experiences? Programs? When Melissa Edgington started asking these questions, she realized she was approaching discipleship all wrong.

Over time, it became painfully clear to me that the answer to the question of discipleship isn’t as easy as finding the right program. This is something that I learned from our church members by watching them live it out: discipleship isn’t nice, crisp books or carefully planned mission trips. It’s something altogether more intimate, more demanding, and more sacrificial. And once I realized that the people around me were showing me how discipleship works, I started to see it everywhere.

5 simple ways to be a better friend

Most of us long to have good friends, but we may give much less thought to how to be a good friend to others. Luke Finley writes about how to be a better friend.

It’s so easy to make our friendships all about us: our thoughts, our problems, our lives. But a great friend doesn’t primarily use their friends for their own needs, but rather are more interested in the other person than themselves. They ask good questions and are curious about the answers, whether it’s what their friend enjoys about their job, what they’d like to accomplish in the future, or what key moments have shaped their lives. They ask these questions not because they have to, but because they care about the other person and want to get to know them better, even after years of friendship. 

3 Things Overwhelmed Students Need

You likely have a student in your life (or at your church!). Chances are, if you ask them how they’re doing, the word “busy” will come up. David Murray writes about what we can do to help students like this find rest.

However, such a restless, nonstop lifestyle and culture is one of the main causes of the soaring anxiety levels among teens. The chronic stress and internal inflammation that result are extremely damaging to the bodies and minds of our teens. One of the best things we can do for them, therefore, is to help them rest. This isn’t going to be easy, but it’s absolutely essential. This rest can be encouraged in three main areas: sleep, Sabbath, and relaxation.

Thanks to Phil A 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.