Links for the Weekend (11/26/2021)

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

Helpful Things You Can Say to Grieving Parents

Tim Challies has written a practical article from which I learned a lot. When you encounter Christians experiencing profound grief, here are some loving ways to speak to and care for your friends.

It can be awkward to reach out to those who are deep in grief. It can be hard to know what to say and easy to believe that our words are more likely to offend than comfort, to make a situation worse rather than better. We sense that our words ought to be few, but also that the worst thing to say is nothing at all.

Thanksgiving, Gratitude, and Leanness of Soul

What does it look like to be thankful? What might keep us from being thankful? Doug Eaton offers some reflections using Psalm 106.

Gratitude flows freely from a heart full of God, mindful of His wondrous works, and aware of His grace to such unworthy and sinful creatures. The sinner, who hungers and thirsts after righteousness and has been filled by the justifying work of Christ, can find themselves in any harsh situation this life has to offer and still rejoice with full hearts. On the contrary, the person who forgets God’s great works toward them and begins to think they deserve more can be in the most pleasant of all earthly positions and still live with lean souls.

The Danger of Nostalgia

Here’s a helpful word about nostalgia in the life of a Christian.

When we view certain seasons of our lives as rosier than they actually were, it can make things now seem worse than they really are. Our relationships or career or church now seem more lackluster than they really are. Our gratitude with the past might be coupled with ingratitude for the present. 

Why the Gospel of Self-Improvement Isn’t Good News

Here’s a podcast from The Gospel Coalition where Colin Hansen interviews Ruth Chou Simons about her new book, When Strivings Cease. If you need a reminder about why God’s grace is enough for you, have a listen.

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 (11/19/2021)

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

The Middle Years

Melissa Edgington wrote an article reflecting on aging as a Christian. I thought the conclusions she drew were especially helpful.

I’m not going to sugar coat this for you, though. This is harder than I expected it to be, this moving from youth to the middle years. This, like all difficult things, helps me to rely on Him. It helps me to remember that it isn’t just beauty that’s fleeting…it’s this life. Here, we age and we fade and we grow ill and we die. In eternity, it’s all beauty and youth and vigor and life. Spurgeon admonished his congregation to be grateful for the thorns and thistles that keep us from falling in love with this world. I suppose that this aging process is one of those. It’s a thorn. It stings. But it’s a very present, everyday reminder that there are better things coming.

Thanksgiving in Everything, Not for Everything

Here is an article observing what Paul did and did not say in 1 Thessalonians 5:18. What does it mean to live a life of thankfulness?

Above all, we know God is working in every situation to bring good to those who are His (Rom 8:28)—which does not mean that everything that happens to the believer is itself, “good.” Calvin helpfully comments on 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “God has such a disposition towards us in Christ, that even in our afflictions we have large occasion of thanksgiving.” Like Romans 8:28, “In everything give thanks” reminds us of the providence of God in all aspects of our lives.

The Teacher Who Never Spoke

This article is on the long side, but it’s really good. Maureen Swinger wrote about her brother Duane and his impact on the world. Duane was never able to talk or walk and only lived 31 years, but this is a moving reflection on the image of God in humans.

The five of us siblings were born within the space of five years, with D right in the middle of the lineup. As kids we prayed confidently for miraculous healing, sure that the next morning he’d run out of his room to meet us. But sooner or later, the realization caught up with each of us: D is D, and he’s here, as he is, for a reason.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called How to Be Less Thankful. 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 Be Less Thankful

Late fall can be difficult. The daylight is fading, the weather (at least here in Pennsylvania) is getting cold, and there’s a gray dinginess in the air.

On top of environmental downers, people pop out of the woodwork to encourage us to be thankful. What a drag! How can we possibly give ourselves the focus we deserve when our friends are pointing out all the ways we should be grateful? It’s oppressive, I tell you.

If you’ve had enough of the thanksgiving police bullying you into a humble posture, this article is for you. Read on for some tried and true methods for growing in thanklessness.

Negative Advice

I’ve collected nine pieces of advice here to turn you into a thankless person.

Don’t think about what God has done

There’s a consistent theme in the Bible: Considering God’s deeds will fuel thankfulness (Psalm 9:1, 26:7). We can’t have that.

We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near. We recount your wondrous deeds. (Psalm 75:1)

Don’t think about other Christians

If you’re anything like the apostle Paul, when you think about how God has worked in the lives of other believers you’ll be filled with thanks (Philippians 1:3–5, Ephesians 1:15–16). The first three chapters of 1 Thessalonians are just stuffed with this. So, while it might be hard, you’ll need to banish these thoughts.

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:4–8)

Don’t think about the body of Christ

Not only should you avoid thinking about God’s grace given to others, you must also dispel any thoughts of God’s people as one united body. Individual Christians are graciously brought into this loving family where peace and forgiveness are possible. The acceptance and compassion that you can experience in the church are sure to make you grateful, so put these thoughts far away.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12–17)

Don’t think about God’s character

The Old Testament Israelites sang frequently about God’s steadfast love. This love is a part of his character and the basis of his mighty works for his people.

This means that if you want to be less thankful, you must not ponder who God is and what he is like.

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord, or declare all his praise? (Psalm 106:1–2)

Don’t think about God’s provision

A surefire way to be thankless is to develop an outsized notion of what you deserve and how much what you have is a result of your hard work and merit. Stay away from those teachings about humility, sin, and God’s providence.

The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. (Psalm 145:14–16)

Don’t read the Bible

To be safe, you probably shouldn’t get anywhere near the Bible if you want to be less thankful. And you certainly shouldn’t get anywhere near Psalm 100. The writer of that psalm composed those words specifically to aid in thanksgiving!

Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. (Psalm 100:3)

Don’t think about God’s redemption

The greatest, lasting work of God is his redeeming work. At a high price, he bought his people for himself that he might have them forever. Quite naturally, meditating on this gracious work of God will lead people to praise and thank him.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. (Psalm 107:8–9)

Don’t think about the gospel

Jesus came proclaiming the gospel of his kingdom. God’s redeeming work reached its climatic, essential summit in the suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. This is how God changes hearts and brings people to himself.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8)

Don’t eat

This last bit of advice is extreme, I’ll admit. It might be hard to pull off, particularly at this time of the year.

If you’re serious about becoming less thankful, you probably need to stay away from food. Especially for people who have spent a lot of time around the church, the beginning of a meal is the occasion for prayers of thanks. This groove may be so well worn in your brain that you are naturally inclined to thanksgiving before picking up your fork.

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:4–5)

A Sustaining Vision

If you’re starting this journey, it may seem like a long road ahead of you. You need a sustaining vision to get you through those difficult moments.

Think about the person you will be. As you become less and less thankful, you’ll become more entitled, more turned in on yourself, more lonely, more bitter, more critical, and more miserable overall.

Sounds like a plan!

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Links for the Weekend (11/12/2021)

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

A monument of gift

T. M. Suffield reflects on two occasions in the Bible when God’s people built monuments to remember the Lord’s saving work. Is there any place for this practice for modern day Christians?

You see, the house is not the gift. It is the monument, the pile of stones, the signpost to the gift. The gift is the gift the God of gifts always gives: Jesus, my friend, my master, he is the gift. Our home whispers a story, that I am loved, that I am known, that I am wanted, and that despite the ongoing trials and struggles of my daily life, I always will be.

Shire Reckonings

This essay by Rebecca D. Martin touches on wandering, travel, belonging, and maturing in life. But most of all, this is an article about home, with a helpful aid from Frodo Baggins.

After an eighteen year childhood stretch set firmly in one city, I have been repeatedly carried away to someplace new. I haven’t always liked it. “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.” Yes, Bilbo. Agreed. 

What Does the Bible Say about Marriage?

This article from Crossway walks through an explanation of the historic Christian view of marriage. It includes Scripture references, reflection questions, and an FAQ.

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. 

Links for the Weekend (11/5/2021)

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

A Year of Sorrow, a Year of Gratitude, a Year of Grace

Tim Challies lost his son a year ago, and in this article he reflects on both the pain and the gifts of the past year.

But though the last year has been one of so many sorrows, it has also been one of so many blessings. As I look back on the most difficult of years, I also look back on the most blessed of years. As I ponder the year since my hardest day, I find my heart rising in praise to God. I find my eyes wet with tears, but my heart filled with gratitude.

5 Ways to Benefit from the Lord’s Supper

Since we will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper on Sunday (November 7), this article might be helpful to read ahead of time. Colin Smith advises us how to set our minds during the partaking of the sacrament.

When you come to the Lord’s Table, order what is on the menu. Tell the Lord that you want what He has promised. Tell Him you are hungry for a fresh touch of His love. Tell Him you want to see more of His glory. Tell Him you would like to taste His goodness. Tell Him your soul is dry and thirsty and that you need to be renewed by His Holy Spirit. The Lord’s Table gives us a special opportunity to draw near to Him in faith and to be nourished by Him. So when you come to the Lord’s Table, look up to your risen Savior. Ask and receive from Him.

Time Is Short. Be Patient.

Megan Hill writes about the counterintuitive command found in James relating patience to the shortness of time.

On the one hand, the shortness of time ought to make us rightly fear God and seek to obey him. We cannot waste time in impatient unrighteousness, squandering our moments in anger and anxiety, and be found grumbling when the Judge appears.

On the other hand, the shortness of time ought to give us courage. One day very soon, our Lord will right all wrongs and judge all injustices.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called The Weight and Wound of the Word. 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 Weight and Wound of the Word

The Bible is miraculously cohesive, but it is not uniform. Different portions were given for different purposes; distinct authors at distinct moments to distinct audiences.

While many today look to the Bible for comfort or inspiration, an honest look at the Scriptures reveals that not all of it was given for these purposes. If we randomly dip a ladle into the depths of Ezekiel, the brew that emerges is more likely to be sharp than sweet.

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)

Some—perhaps much—of the Bible was given not for our comfort but for our discomfort. The Scriptures are profitable for reproof and correction, after all; they provoke, unsettle, and rebuke us. Far from harsh, this is a sign of God’s love. It is damaging for our souls—indeed, for our humanity—to turn against God in rebellion. The fact that he steers us away from sin and back to himself is evidence of his care.

In our efforts to soothe our troubled friends and not to cause offense, we often dull the blade of the Word. We wince and brace at the damage the wound may cause, so we soften the blow. In doing so, we strip the Bible of some of its power.

Some time ago I was listening to a preacher speak on a passage that touched on the dangers of riches. Predictably (and understandably), he included a few words about how money is not inherently evil, nor is it automatically sinful to be wealthy. Yet he said this so soon after the Scriptures were read that I fear their full force did not land. This is, unfortunately, not rare.

In that space after the reading of the Word, there is a window where the Holy Spirit often works to convict sinners. We dare not step in to bind up the holy wounds the Spirit has opened. Those wounds often lead to the salve of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He did not come to heal the healthy, but the sick; he did not come to bind up the whole, but the injured.

We blunt the sharp tip of the piercing Word when we quickly say what it cannot mean. There should be a time both for clarification and for consulting other sources (both Biblical and extra-Biblical). But we must not clarify quickly at the expense of a plain rebuke that many people need to hear simply because we fear discomfort.

We must learn to sit with the weight and wound of a Bible passage. If we are shocked, offended, or rebuked by its obvious implications, that may be exactly the point.

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Links for the Weekend (10/29/2021)

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

Grief Is Not an Enemy of Faith

Trevin Wax writes about what grief looks like when it is informed by the gospel.

You can cry, to the glory of God. You should never feel guilty for doing something Jesus did. Grief is an appropriate response to loss. Paul didn’t condemn grief; he gave the Thessalonian Christians hopeful word so they would have a different kind of grief than those who do not know Christ.

Forest Fires & Apple Orchards

Here’s a helpful article (and metaphor) about the biblical concept of meekness.

In some ways meekness is best defined by what it is not. Meekness is the opposite of self-assertion, the opposite of acting as if my will should triumph over God’s or even that my will should necessarily triumph over any man’s. It is the opposite of insisting that this world would be a better place if God and man alike just did things my way. Therefore, it is the opposite of grumbling against God’s providence as it’s expressed through circumstances or even through the hands of men. 

Our Scattered Longings

Here’s an article from Brianna Lambert about our longings and contentment.

The goodness of knowing Christ not only surpasses any good on this earth, but it lasts. Christ will never leave us or forsake us. This is the root of our contentment, and the end of all of our scattered longings. We don’t need to depend upon that hanging carrot in front of us. We don’t need to stake our hopes on bread that isn’t bread (Isaiah 55:2). We can be content in what we have, for friends, we have Christ.

Ingredients for a Theology of Feasting

John Piper provides a short response to a question about feasting in an episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast.


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 (10/22/2021)

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.