Links for the Weekend (2022-11-11)

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

Am I Resting or Just Being Lazy?

Because we’re sinners, temptation can spring up when we’re doing something very good. We all need to rest, but how do we distinguish between faithful rest and slothful laziness?

Rest, however, reorients us. It reminds us that though work is important, it’s not all there is. We were made to know, love, and enjoy relationship with God. He doesn’t value us based on our productivity. We can slow down and sit at his feet. We can put aside our tasks to commune with him as we explore creation. We can prioritize time with others, making memories and sharing laughter as we were created to do.

The Worshipper

Here’s an article which helps us think about how worship shapes our affections and actions.

There is no doubt about his worship. Everyone knows the object of his worship, because he cannot stop talking about it. Even the way he dresses and behaves declares his commitment to his cause. On a Monday morning he is full of the activity of the previous day, recounting everything that took place in the recent worship. 

What is the Holy Trinity?

In this video, Sam Allberry gives a helpful introduction to the topic of the Trinity.

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 (2022-11-04)

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

The Body Is Bigger Than You Think

Trevin Wax writes about the ways he has realized the body of Christ is larger than he assumed and why we need the global church.

Yes, Christians have divided into various traditions and denominations, but despite the outward differences, every true believer in Christ is connected by “mystic sweet communion” to all the Christians who have gone before and to all true Christians around the world today. The beating heart of orthodoxy joins us to confessors across space and time. We say, “I believe,” and we know we share a commonality with millions of people who have found the same treasure, who recite the same words, who believe the same concepts and trust the same Savior. The Body is big.

From Burden to Image Bearer: How God Changed My View of Children

The title of this article does a lot to convey its content. I enjoyed reading about how relationships in the local church helped Lainee Oliver view children more biblically.

My love for her children began to grow, and so did my heart toward motherhood and children in general. The Lord used this family—along with other families in my church and the faithful preaching of his Word each Sunday morning—to put right before my eyes the joy of raising children to know and love God. The more I got outside my college student bubble, the closer I became with families who valued children rightly. Couples who weren’t just raising children for the self-gratification of raising “successful” kids, but because of their calling as parents who viewed their children as fellow image bearers of our Almighty God.

Hymn of the Day

I love this idea: an email every day with the lyrics to a hymn. Often the emails will contain some historical or theological background to the hymn and/or a link to a recording on YouTube. I just signed up for this email; maybe it will interest you too!

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called Gather With All Ages. 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. 

Gather With All Ages

Almost a decade ago, my wife and I moved to a new city. We visited several churches, decided on a large, solid one, and wanted to get involved in Sunday school. We chose a class from the provided list, asked directions in the church foyer from the Sunday school traffic cop (note: not her official title), and made our way to the classroom.

We opened the door to a class bursting with young married couples. Almost immediately, we began to field question after question about our children. We didn’t yet have children, but having been married for three years, we were adept at volleying back our answers. We were surprised, however, by the reaction when others heard we were childless; this news was (apparently) shocking and confusing. Finally, someone broke the news to us: this class was only for young married adults with children under a certain age. Childless couples didn’t belong here. “Perhaps you’d fit better in another class.”

We soon learned that this church had segmented their Sunday school offerings to the extreme. Please report to room 205 if you are young, single, born in the midwest, and have at least two older siblings. Maybe it wasn’t quite this bad, but the number of categories and subcategories on display was something to behold.

I understand the impulse for Christian groups to gather according to age and life situation. Especially when children are involved, it is comfortable and refreshing to compare notes, walk familiar paths, and share common experiences.

But this segmentation is not all good. We miss out when we only spend time with people of our age and exact life situation. Two sandcrabs can’t give each other any wisdom about life on the other side of the dunes.

The Benefits

Here are some of the benefits of gathering with people of all ages, life situations, and backgrounds.

A perspective outside your own

A diversity of perspectives is important not just for sharing wisdom and giving advice. With more backgrounds we get to hear varied testimonies of God’s faithfulness and love. God has a multitude of ways of bringing people to himself, rescuing them, comforting them, and providing for them, and we need to hear these stories. We guard against self-centeredness when we are reminded that our story is not the only one.

Young people learn from their elders

More mature believers have traveled roads that still lie ahead for the young. They have raised their children, faced job layoffs, suffered cancer, mourned for wayward sons, and walked through much other joy and adversity. There is a lucidity that comes from being closer to death than to birth—younger people need to hear that clarity and the accompanying warnings about the entrapments of the world. Younger generations need to know that some of their “important” activities, toys, and pursuits may in fact be evidence of “fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11, NASB).

Older people learn from the young

One glorious aspect of multigenerational gatherings is that helping and teaching is not just a one-way street. The Bible tells us that the “glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair” (Proverbs 20:29). Both directions in this verse are true and relevant for this discussion. This strength of young men is real and can be helpful to those of more advanced age. Young men can use their physical strength to help with practical tasks for their elders, but the young man’s energy and approach to life can have an invigorating effect as well. Have you ever spent time around a new believer? They practically exhale enthusiasm and joy for others to breathe. Similarly, when a younger believer is convicted of a sin or God gives them understanding about a key doctrine, what was assumed and lived for years by the older can be seen with newer eyes. This can help challenge long-standing patterns of sin or unbelief in more mature believers.

It’s easy to see how the older can give the wisdom of experience to the younger, but in a quickly-changing world, younger Christians can provide some wisdom to their elders too. Consider the cliché example of technology. Younger believers who have brought some discernment to their use of new technology can help their parents in the faith to do the same. But there may also be experiences—opportunities associated with travel, work, or family—that the young have had which have eluded the old.

Finally, in a multigenerational gathering, we as a church can affirm the value of every believer. As Christians age and they are able to do less physically, this is a small way to communicate just how precious and valuable every person is. And this is no mere show—if you gather with believers of all ages and talk openly with each other for a significant length of time, you will benefit from each other.

A Different Experience

My wife and I had a much different Sunday school experience when we were first married. We intentionally sought out a class with mostly 40- and 50-year-olds. This was one of the best decisions we made in that church. After the group reminded us about the booming Sunday school class for graduate students and hearing that, no, we were here on purpose, we began a wonderful season of sharing our lives.

Meeting with Christians of all ages is not a cure-all, and there is undeniable value in friendships and gatherings with people of similar age and experience. But we would all do well to make room in our lives for all of the people God has placed around us, regardless of age.

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Links for the Weekend (2022-10-28)

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

Debunking Grief’s Myths: 4 Lies You Need to Stop Using

Some of the phrases we say to others when they are in grief sound like nice sentiments, but they are just not true. I enjoyed this article by Clarissa Moll where she looks carefully at some of these lies about grief and points us to the truth.

On the contrary, throughout the Bible, we see God’s children use persistent questions, doubt, and even despair to direct their hearts toward him. Psalms channel anger and frustration into praise. Longing and lamentations trace their path through centuries of faithful living. Rather than being a symptom of weak faith, grief shows us that true faith is always willing to ask hard questions. True faith claims God’s promises by holding him accountable to them. Prolonged grief is the expression of sorrow at the brokenness of this world, a persistent testimony to our faith in God even when we walk with him in the dark.

What Would Be Lost If We Didn’t Have the Last 2 Chapters of the Bible?

Nancy Guthrie answers this question by showing how the last chapters of Revelation provide a fitting end to the themes and story of the whole Bible.

And then there’s the beautiful theme of a garden itself. The Bible story begins in a garden and the Bible story ends in a garden, except this garden is even better than the original garden. It is more abundant. It’s more secure. And so I love this ending to Revelation because not only does it set something out for us to set our hearts on to long for—living in that city and worshiping in that temple and being satisfied in that and enjoying that marriage—it’s a fitting, satisfying end to the whole of the story of the Bible. 

How is God’s sovereignty compatible with man’s responsibility in salvation?

In this video, some of the men from Ligonier Ministries answer this important question about God’s sovereignty and human responsibility in salvation.

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 (2022-10-21)

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

Keith & Kristyn Getty, Rend Collective – Rejoice

Here’s a new song from the Gettys’ newest album. The song is called Rejoice.

A Call to Raise Daughters Wise to Domestic Abuse

It’s easy to chuckle at the macho threats of a father against a man who wants to pursue his daughter. It’s much harder to do the more loving and wiser task—helping young women learn how to spot men who might be likely to harm them.

You cannot predict future abuse, but being informed about abuse dynamics can help you discern if a man is characterized by concerning tendencies. An abuser’s heart inclines him to see his life through a lens of entitlement, and thus to see others as either assets or obstacles to the desire he’s supposedly entitled to. Where it gets dangerous is when he uses his influence and strength to diminish the influence and strength of those under him to get what he wants.

How can I be sure I’m saved?

Here’s a short video from Ligonier Ministries giving a wise answer to this common question.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called God’s Work and Our Work, Hand in Hand. If you haven’t already seen it, check it out!

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. 

God’s Work and Our Work, Hand in Hand

I love watching toddlers learning to walk. Once they’ve reached the stage of pulling themselves up on chairs and coffee tables, they’re ready for the big adventure. Some brave souls make a few solo attempts, but these wobbly steps often end in tears.

What comes next? A parent or grandparent steps in! You’ve seen this adorable dance—the adult, bent at the waist, the child between their feet; the toddler, reaching up to grasp the offered hands, ready to barrel out into the wide-open spaces.

This picture always brings to mind the way that our work and God’s work are joined together.

Opposition to Nehemiah’s Work

At his request, Nehemiah was sent from the Persian city of Susa back to Jerusalem so that he might rebuilt the city that lay in ruins (Neh 2:5). He quickly won the support of the people and directed an effort to rebuild the walls that encircled Jerusalem (Neh 2:9–3:32).

However, from his first days back in the holy city, Nehemiah faced opposition (Neh 2:10, 19). This hostility reached a breaking point in the fourth chapter of Nehemiah.

Praying and Working

We have much to learn from the way Nehemiah pointed the Israelites to their God and to their work in response to the resistance of the surrounding peoples.

Sanballat the Horonite heard about the Jewish work on the Jerusalem wall and he was “angry and greatly enraged” (Neh 4:1). He and Tobiah the Ammonite taunted and mocked the Israelites (Neh 4:2–3). Nehemiah responded by praying to God for his people (Neh 4:4–5); then everyone got to work and built the wall (Neh 4:6).

When Sanballat and Tobiah (and others) made a plan “to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it” (Neh 4:8), Nehemiah took the same approach. The people prayed and set a guard for protection (Neh 4:9).

Later, there were reports of a more specific threat, so Nehemiah stationed armed Israelites in strategic places near the wall (Neh 4:13). Nehemiah addressed the nobles and officials and people:

Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.

God frustrated the plans of these opponents, and thus the Israelites got back to work (Neh 4:15). Nehemiah organized an alert system for the workers—a trumpet would blow when an attack came, and the people would rally there. Nehemiah was confident of the Lord’s hand: “Our God will fight for us” (Neh 4:20).

Throughout this chapter, Nehemiah urges the people to work while reminding them of God’s work. He instructs them to look to the Lord and to look to their labor.

Hand in Hand

Without older hands for stability, a toddler would stagger and fall. But without the child’s desire to learn and move, the adult would just drag an unhappy, small person across the floor. The child’s and the adult’s work go together.

We may be tempted to work without looking to the Lord, but that is foolish. We cannot accomplish God’s work without him. But we must not swing to the other extreme either—praying without putting our hands to work is presumptuous and faithless. Most often, God works through our work.

Nehemiah 4 is a good reminder that God’s sovereignty and our responsibility are not opponents to be pitted against one another. They are friends, walking hand in hand, accomplishing God’s will.

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Links for the Weekend (2022-10-14)

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

A Manifesto for Times of Suffering

You may remember that Tim Challies lost his college-aged son tragically within the last couple years. As he was coming to grips with his loss, he wrote a manifesto for his suffering to which he could return for strength and a reminder of his calling and commitment.

I will receive this trial as a responsibility to steward, not a punishment to endure. I will look for God’s smile in it rather than his frown, listen for his words of blessing rather than his voice of rebuke. This sorrow will not make me angry or bitter, nor cause me to act out in rebellion or indignation. Rather, it will make me kinder and gentler, more patient and loving, more compassionate and sympathetic. It will loose my heart from the things of earth and fix it on the things of heaven. The loss of my son will make me more like God’s Son, my sorrow like the Man of Sorrows.

Love Your Unorthodox Neighbor

Why do we find it hard to love people with whom we disagree? What does this say about our definition of love?

This approach to doctrine is attractive because we’ve fallen for the notion that love requires agreement or approval. It’s hard to imagine we might love—deeply love—people with whom our disagreements are fundamental. We assume we must shift the foundations if we’re to love someone, when instead a better understanding of foundational Christian truth shifts us into a posture of love across chasms of difference. 

Bible Q&A: How Can We Trust the Bible When It Contains Inconsistencies?

Here’s a helpful answer to a common question about inconsistencies in the Gospels.

God is the only eyewitness that sees every detail. The rest of us are limited by our point of view. We believe the Bible was written by inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV). If the words of the Bible were breathed out by God, then they are true.

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 (2022-10-07)

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

Be Angry and Do Not Sin

Is there such a thing as godly anger? If so, what does it look like? In this article, Ed Welch gives some guidance about righteous and selfish anger.

And wise people pray. Before anger is at a full boil, we pray. Godly anger is slow to gather momentum because it first turns to God and listens to him. We submit ourselves before our creator and rescuer, and we pray that we would know and follow the counterintuitive ways of Jesus.

Don’t Let ‘Discernment’ Give Doctrine a Bad Name

This article describes the difficult task of genuine Christian discernment.

But those quick to champion discernment often place everyone into camps of “safe” or “dangerous.” And ironically, once you’ve got everyone properly placed and labeled, there’s really no need for discernment anymore. Just avoid the “bad” and embrace the “good.” The result is tribal factions that compete with the Corinthian church for the trophy of divisiveness.

Seek God’s Face Before You Seek His Hand

Sarah Walton describes the difference between seeking God’s face and seeking his hand.

However, the Holy Spirit has been gently opening my eyes to see my recent tendency to allow what I can see and understand to interpret God’s Character, rather than his character to interpret what I can see and understand. Therefore, I’ve been giving the enemy an easy target since it hasn’t take much for a difficult circumstance to make me question God’s faithfulness.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called Thank You, God, for Failure. 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. 

Thank You, God, for Failure

Thank you, God, for my failures. I do not like to fail, but I trust you use my failures for good in me.

In my failure, I realize how much I need help. So often I fail because I barrel into a task or project on my own. Thank you for reminding me of my limitations and for providing every droplet of assistance I need.

In my failure, I see my vulnerability and sin. I recognize my selfish choices, my blind spots, and the categories I didn’t even know existed. Thank you for pointing out my mistakes and for forgiving me as your child.

In my failure, I recognize the opportunity to grow. In my pride I often think I am wise and strong. Thank you for the chance to continue being human, to learn about your world and to gain abilities in it.

In my failure, I see the opportunity to identify with others who fail. Though I am prone to push other people away by boasting in my success, you are equipping me to help and talk with those who struggle. Thank you for your presence with me—and in me—that allows me to be a presence to others.

In my failure, I see an accurate picture of myself. No one fails at everything, but we hit the ground more often than the bullseye. Thank you for Jesus, who always hit the mark. Thank you for the gracious exchange of the gospel, in which he took my sin and gave me his righteousness. Thank you that every failure is a reminder of your patient mercy toward your children.

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Links for the Weekend (2022-09-30)

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

Why Do Christians Make Such a Big Deal about Sex?

This article is a good primer on what the Bible has to say about sex and marriage.

Whenever people ask me why Christians are so weird about sex, I first point out that we’re weirder than they think. The fundamental reason why Christians believe that sex belongs only in the permanent bond of male-female marriage is because of the metaphor of Jesus’s love for his church. It’s a love in which two become one flesh. It is a love that connects across sameness and radical difference: the sameness of our shared humanity and the radical difference of Jesus from us. It’s a love in which husbands are called not to exploit, abuse, or abandon their wives, but to love and sacrifice for them, as Jesus did for us.

Remembering Rich Mullins

The 25th anniversary of the death of Christian singer/songwriter Rich Mullins happened recently, and Lisa LaGeorge reflected on why his music means so much to her.

Rich was a friend, or at least, his music was. Ministry in Alaska was lonely at times, cold and dark. Rich was a click away on the Discman, making observations, asking questions, confessing, and declaring the love of the Savior of a ragamuffin people. I needed the reminders–often. I still do. 

Introducing Ligonier Guides: Accessible Theology for Everyday Life

Ligonier Ministries has developed a new resource called Ligonier Guides. These look like helpful essays on a variety of theological (and other) topics.

For those looking for clear and succinct biblical and theological teaching, Ligonier Ministries has developed a new resource: Ligonier guides. These guides, covering topics such as theology, worldview and culture, biblical studies, Christian living, and church history, provide overviews and explanations from Ligonier’s topic index, along with quotes and links to additional topics and resources.

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