Links for the Weekend (2024-03-29)

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

Good News! You Can’t Engineer an Experience with God

In this article, Trevin Wax explores the mystery of prayer and why it might be a good thing that we cannot manufacture feelings of closeness with God whenever we want.

Prayer can be frustrating. We’re fully aware of prayer’s importance in the Christian life, but it’s easy to be disappointed by lackluster results. Maybe you see God answering your prayers, but maybe you don’t. Maybe you feel a sense of God’s closeness at times, but maybe you don’t. Maybe your Bible reading pops with insight that leads you to respond to God with thanksgiving, but maybe it doesn’t.

How (and How Not) to Fight Sin

This is a direct, no-nonsense article about sin, providing ways we should (and ways we should not) fight against it.

To avoid the prowling tempter, you must set up intentional protection against temptation. You must “make no provision for the flesh” (Rom. 13:14) by setting up barbwire, as it were, at all access points. Make it as difficult as possible for you to access something that is sin or might lead you to sin.


Poem of the week: dependency, by Abigail Moma. This is a great little poem about what it means to come to God like a child.

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 (2024-03-22)

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

Truthful Thinking Is Greater Than Positive Thinking

I appreciated this alternative to positive thinking: truthful thinking.

The world is broken, and people are complex. Life isn’t easy. Positive thinking won’t change the fact that our world is hurting and full of trauma. Sure, positive thinking may change the way we perceive the world around us, but it won’t address anything beyond our own self-absorption.

More than a Social Gospel

A lot of Christian ministries and ministers like to quote Charles Spurgeon; he was very quotable! This article shows that Spurgeon is not easily categorized as an only-evangelism or an only-social ministry historical figure.

For those who embrace the social gospel, social ministry is at the heart of the gospel. For Spurgeon, social ministry flows out of the gospel. Spurgeon believed ministry to the poor, though not the gospel itself, nonetheless enhances the witness of the gospel. In this sense, social concern serves gospel ministry. It serves the preaching of the gospel by validating the message and providing a tangible expression of Christ’s love toward those in need. In this way, the two are inextricably linked together.

In the Home Depot Parking Lot

Our poem of the week: a delightful meditation on baby babble as holy speech and the privilege of having a front row seat.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called Does God Just Tolerate Me? 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. 

Does God Just Tolerate Me?

I have some close friends at church who are grandparents. For them, the cliché is true—they are over the moon about their grandchildren!

My friends would move mountains to spend time with their grandchildren. They soak up every moment of each visit and anticipate the next. They delight in their grandchildren.

Something that delights us does more than make us momentarily happy. It stirs our hearts, and the ripples wash lightness through our bodies. You might delight in a favorite place, a dear friend, or a treasured book or movie.

Have you ever pondered what delights God? The Bible provides a surprising answer.

The Anointed One

Our answer comes from the book of Isaiah. Aside from the Lord himself, the major characters in Isaiah are the Coming King, the Coming Servant, and the Coming Anointed One (the Messiah). We see pieces of Jesus’ mission in each of these prophetic figures.

At the end of Isaiah 61, the Anointed One rejoices in the task set before him (Is 61:10). He is dressed in “garments of salvation” in the same way that a couple prepares themselves for their wedding. These clothes mark the Messiah for his momentous work.

It’s no secret—the task of the Anointed One is salvation for God’s people (Is 61:1) and the glory of God’s name (Is 61:3). As surely as the earth brings forth plants, God guarantees that the Messiah’s mission will succeed (Is 61:11).

Despite God’s promise, the Anointed One is not passive. He is determined, zealous, and vocal that the righteousness and glory of God’s people be displayed before all nations and kings (Is 62:1–2).

God’s Delight

The results of the work of the Anointed One are astonishing and life-changing:

The nations shall see your righteousness,
and all the kings your glory,
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you. (Isaiah 61:2–5)

God’s people will be a “crown of beauty” in his hand (Is 61:3). A king’s crown is the physical sign of his royal position and glory. Amazingly, God’s people are a sign of his kingship and evidence that he is glorious. It’s hard to believe when looking around (or in the mirror), but God says it will be so.

Perhaps even more dramatic is the renaming in verses 2 and 4. The people shall go from “Forsaken” to “My Delight Is in Her,” and the land will go from “Desolate” to “Married.” Why the change? Is it because of all the good the people have done, all the yield the land has produced? Not hardly.

God changes the people’s name for a simple, profound reason: love. “For the Lord delights in you” (Is 61:4). To highlight this in the brightest colors, Isaiah writes that God will rejoice over his people as a groom rejoices over his bride (Is 61:5).

What was predicted long ago is our reality now. What a reality!

I rarely imagine God rejoicing over me. I think he occasionally disapproves of me and that he mostly tolerates me. I can be persuaded that he loves me at times. But to delight in me? That seems too outlandish, too fantastic to believe. But it’s true!

For Isaiah, the good news has never been just for Israel. God is eager for others to join his family; Israel must “prepare the way” and “build up the highway” (Is 61:10). The references to “the people” and “the peoples” (Is 61:10) show how God welcomes both Israelites and Gentiles to his holy city. They will all be called “The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord” (Is 61:12).

At the end of this chapter, God wraps all his people together, giving them the same name. In a nod back to verse 4, they will be called “A City Not Forsaken” (Is 61:12). The Lord delights in his people, and their new name reflects his abiding, promise-backed love.

The Forsaken One

It’s hard to read this passage without wondering about this dramatic change. Why will the people no longer be forsaken?

Over many years and in many ways, Israel sinned against God. Though God turned away from them for a time, his covenant promise pulsed in the background of history. Through his Anointed One, God would fulfill this promise at the pinnacle of his justice and mercy.

God delighted in his Son, but in his hour of greatest need, the Father turned away. Jesus felt this abandonment like a hot knife tearing into his soul. On the cross, he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)

We deserve to be forsaken. But our name is “Forsaken” no longer because Jesus was forsaken for us. God delights in us because his Son—the one in whom he delighted the most—became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The Loved Ones

What difference would it make if we absorbed these truths into our bones? How would our lives change if we were sure of God’s delight in us?

Two applications come to mind.

First, we’d be more willing to take gospel-driven risks. If the delight of our heavenly Father is secure, then the potential harm to our reputations or social networks won’t be scary. If God smiles, we can shrug off others’ frowns.

We would also be more likely to trust God in uncertain times. God is not only sovereign and wise, he is good and loving. Even if we cannot connect the dots between our circumstances and God’s intentions, we can be sure there is a straight line from his heart to his providence in our lives.

Post credit | Picture credit

Links for the Weekend (2024-03-15)

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

We Who Have Few Talents and Sparse Gifts

If you’ve ever thought God might use you more for his kingdom if you had more talents, money, or influence, this post from Tim Challies is one you should read. It’s a great lesson about contentment with what God has given us.

The fact is, the God who used spit and dust to cure a man of his blindness can most certainly make use of you. And I assure you that if you had great talents, you would simply compare yourself to those who have more still. If through greater gifting you had greater opportunity, you would still not be satisfied. If you cannot be satisfied with little, you will not be satisfied with much.

How does the Holy Spirit help me pray?

This is another one of those videos from Ligonier that answers an important question in a short, helpful way. Here, Michael Reeves talks about how the Holy Spirit helps us to pray.

Lenten Sonnet | February 26, 2018

Poem of the week: Andrew Peterson with another Lenten sonnet. This one is about nature warming in the spring.

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 (2024-03-08)

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

Our limits are a gift from God

We don’t often thank God for our limitations, but Aaron Armstrong argues that might just be what we need to do.

Even more than reminding us that we are not God, our limits encourage us to see the goodness of life together. Of being part of a community that bears one another’s burdens, weeps with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice. People with whom we can share our weaknesses, and God uses to carry us forward.

When the Walk Becomes a Crawl: One of the Most Hopeful Reminders I’ve Read about Sanctification

Justin Taylor shares an excerpt from a David Powlison book that gives great encouragement about the speed and direction of sanctification.

But, in fact, there’s no formula, no secret, no technique, no program, no schedule, and no truth that guarantees the speed, distance, or time frame. On the day you die, you’ll still be somewhere in the middle. But you will be further along.

10 Reasons the Old Testament Matters to Christians

Christians don’t often need to be convinced of the value of reading the New Testament. But the Old Testament is a different story. Here’s a list of ten reasons the Old Testament really matters, with great explanations.

To understand the Old Testament fully, we must start reading it as believers in the resurrected Jesus, with God having awakened our spiritual senses to perceive and hear rightly. As Paul notes, Scripture’s truths are “spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14) and only through Christ does God enable us to read the old covenant materials as God intended (2 Cor. 3:14). This, in turn, allows our biblical interpretation as Christians to reach its rightful end of “beholding the glory of the Lord” and “being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:14–18). Thus, we read for Christ.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called What My Children Taught Me About Grace. 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. 

What My Children Taught Me About Grace


As I take my keys out of my pocket, the piano stops and the stampede begins. My children rush to the back door and fling it wide before I can unlock it. I am enveloped in hugs, and my day is made.

This is the scene at my house many times when I get home from work. It doesn’t always happen, and I don’t presume it will continue on indefinitely. (And it doesn’t happen only for me!) But, what a blessing it is! God has given my kids a love for me that I don’t deserve, and the occasional exuberance is wonderful.

This end-of-day greeting isn’t just a blessing of fatherhood. It’s a picture of God’s grace.

A Picture of Grace

I’m far from a perfect father. I’m frequently impatient, too quick to anger, and sometimes just mean or clumsy with my children’s feelings. In an honest accounting, I don’t deserve the extravagant love my children show me.

But my children give me what I don’t deserve. Instead of a cold shoulder, they embrace me. Instead of hesitating, they run. They let me know, unmistakably, that they are glad to see me.

I feel immediate acceptance when I peer through our back window and see those small, smiling faces. I don’t need to bring anything, say anything, or do anything. In that moment, their love does not depend on what I have done for them or what I might do for them. The greeting I receive has no relation to my recent behavior toward them at all—on most days I haven’t seen them for almost eight hours.

This sounds familiar, right? My children’s love is a small, imperfect pointer toward the grace of God. His constant, lavish, maximum love toward those who don’t deserve it—this is his grace and the heartbeat of the Christian life.

A Biblical Truth

Don’t just take my word for it. And don’t let a sentimental fact about my family convince you God is like this. This picture resonates with me because it is the description of divine love we see in the Bible.

The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:8–12, ESV)

And God’s grace is fully and finally realized in the giving of his son for sinners.

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:3–7, ESV)

Embracing Grace

Grace like this demands a response. Overflowing love, once offered, changes us in one way or another.

Do you know the grace of God? You have never been loved like this, so it might seem unreal. And yet, it is certain. Because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we can enter God’s house. We don’t need to sneak in a window, we don’t knock ashamed—God opens the door himself.

He is glad to see you. He invites you to sit down with him and rest. And the music starts to play once again.

Post credit | Photo credit

Links for the Weekend (2024-03-01)

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

The Bond of Love

This article is especially appropriate for our church as we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper this coming Sunday. Keith Mathison explains the importance of the unity evident when a church takes communion.

Following Augustine, Calvin spoke of this “horizontal” aspect of the Lord’s Supper as “the bond of love.” The Supper is something that is to unite believers and encourage them to love one another. Paul tells us that Christ has only one body of which He makes us all partakers; therefore, we are all one body (1 Cor. 10:17). According to Calvin, the bread in the Supper provides an illustration of the unity we are to have. We are to be joined together, without division, just as the many grains in the bread are joined together to form a single loaf.

Talking with Kids about Gender Issues: Give Them Biblical Vocabulary

I appreciate this effort to equip parents to talk to their children about important issues of gender and sexuality.

Mom and Dad, your key priority is to love, know, and trust God and to understand how the gospel applies to our experience of gender. Christ came offering forgiveness for our sin, including rejecting His design of us as male and female. He came to draw near and heal broken hearts when gender dysphoria triggers shame, and kids feel, and are, outcast and alone. And He is near to you as you engage this vital discipleship pathway with your kids. You may be fearful and overwhelmed with this task, yet remember Jesus’ words to you, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14).

The Idol of Competence

I suspect more of us worship an idol of competence than we realize.

The idol of competence is the desire to be perceived by others as capable. It springs from the belief that my worth is tied to my output. It’s productivity fueled by shame and fear. But if we want to do our work in a God-honoring manner, have joy while we do it, and truly serve God and man, we must disentangle our conception of productivity from the idol of competence.

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