Links for the Weekend (1/14/2022)

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

3 Reasons to Use Better Bible Study Resources than Strong’s

For Christians of a certain age, the best resource to reach for during a Bible study was Strong’s Concordance. This article explains some of the misconceptions about and misuses of Strong’s. Mark Ward, the author, also points to some better options.

3 Ways to Use Social Media More Wisely in 2022

Most Christians who use social media would probably admit they could use some advice on using social media. Chris Martin comes to the rescue in this article. He admits his own temptations and weaknesses with regard to social media and gives some basic principles to follow.

Social media is at the center of our lives in more ways than we often realize, so I think it would be wise for us to examine the role of social media in our days and do what we can to use it more wisely. How might we do that? I could list a dozen ways, but here are just three, and they all revolve around one principle: intentionality.

Discipled by Algorithms

This article is related to the previous one, but with a different angle. If we use technology, we are obviously influenced by technology. But how often do we acknowledge the extent to which we are shaped by technology? What does it mean to practice wisdom in this area?

Whether we realize it or not, algorithms are discipling each of us in very particular ways — by curating the news we see, the things we purchase, the entertainment we enjoy, at times functioning in ways that seem almost human — all feeding the sense that this world is ultimately all about you. While AI may seem innocuous at first, it can also have devastating effects on our relationship with God, our spouse, roommates, those in our local church, and our broader communities as we opt for efficiency over wisdom and the virtual over the embodied.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called The Grief of Finite Joy. 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. 

The Grief of Finite Joy

Somehow my oldest child is a freshman in high school. As I’ve experienced those where-did-the-time-go emotions that come with such minor milestones, I’ve started to feel a deep, preemptive loss.

I have loved being a parent. It has been one of the best callings in my life. My sadness at (possibly) having less than four years left with my daughter at home is not mere nostalgia for familiar or picturesque days. In the midst of a happy season, I can see its end on the horizon.

I’m not alone in this, and these feelings are not reserved for parents. I’ve felt this same grief in the middle of a family vacation as the lightness of the first few days becomes weighted with regret as I feel the end approaching.

This grief creeps into small things too, like stretching out the end of a good book to avoid snapping the cover closed for the last time. Or savoring a delicious coffee so long that it turns cold and sour.

This is a narrow, specific kind of grief, but it can be stifling. At times I feel myself pulling away from gatherings or experiences because I dread their endings. An honest person has to see how powerless the world’s pleasures are to give true, lasting satisfaction.

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book III, Chapter 10, “Hope”)

God has put eternity into our hearts, and we long not just for joy but for joy unending. Every happy experience we have on earth will end. That prick of incompleteness, of a premature finale, is an indication of the capacity of our souls. It points to a new land.

In the midst of a much-debated passage about the second coming of Christ, we read this from the apostle Paul.

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

Perhaps it is too well-known to warrant our attention, but the word “always” jumped out at me recently in this verse. Once we are with the Lord, we will never be away from him. I don’t know if this will be full-time, ecstatic joy, but the absence of the curse, along with unmediated fellowship with God, will give us a settled, fulfilled happiness that won’t ever be cut off. (See Revelation 21:3-4.)

Our joy will stretch out like a long road before us. We will no longer flinch when considering the end of a great happiness, for our happiness will have no end.

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Links for the Weekend (1/7/2022)

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

The Neglected Ministry of Specific Encouragement

I’ve never heard of anyone who has been encouraged too much. Here’s a short, practical article on how to give and receive encouragement.

Herein lies the primary difference between worldly compliments and biblical encouragement. Worldly compliments exalt self; biblical encouragement exalts God. When someone receives biblical encouragement, she walks away praising and thanking God—not praising and inflating self.

Say Hi to the Old Lady on the Porch

Here’s a delightful story about an unlikely friendship in Memphis between two women who didn’t have many other people in their lives.

So I waved back, because if a cute old lady waves at you and you don’t wave back, you might be the biggest jerk ever to exist. But day after day, wave after wave, it began to feel weird to not stop and say hello. How many times can you wave and not actually speak without it getting awkward? And I was curious about her. Who was this old woman who sat on this porch in her rocking chair, her hands folded nicely over her stomach as she rocked, waved, rocked, waved? So one day, I stopped my bike and said hello.

A Sonnet for Epiphany

Epiphany is January 6 on the church calendar, and Christian poet Malcolm Guite wrote a poem for the occasion. In the winter it feels like we all could use a little more poetry in our lives.

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