Links for the Weekend (9/3/2021)

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

The Gospel According to Ecclesiastes

Here’s a nice summary of the book of Ecclesiastes and some thoughts on its relationship to the gospel.

Too often, our superficial, triumphalistic approach to Christianity in America doesn’t face the real problems of living in a sinful world. In Ecclesiastes 8:14, the Preacher, provides this depressing assessment, “There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity.” Not exactly the kind of descriptions that would make a tourism brochure for the global chamber of commerce. But the preacher in Ecclesiastes follows that statement up with “I commend joy” and “to eat and drink and be joyful” (Ecc 8:15). What is the connection between gut-wrenching, painful injustice and being joyful?

What Do I Do With “Wasted Years?”

Jeremy Howard writes a personal reflection that is worth your time. He wrestles with a question many of us face—how should we think about periods of our life where there is no obvious fruit from our diligent efforts for the kingdom of God?

Due to life circumstances, I left at the end of 2014.  Shortly after that, the school had to close for a myriad of reasons. When I left 6 years after starting, I had changed exactly none of that future for them.  Years of effort and love and passion poured into a project that one day vanished like the mist.  No discernible impact from my perspective. What was it all for?  Was there a purpose in what I did? I cannot speak to the greater impact, only eternity can reveal that. 

What’s the Difference Between Sloth and Rest?

John Piper gives a helpful answer to this question. He describes the difference between the laziness of the sluggard and the restfulness of the diligent.


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 (8/20/2021)

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

Reflections from Week One of an Empty Nest

Jared Wilson writes about the next stage of life and ministry as he drops his youngest off at college.

One thing I keep coming back to in the midst of my nostalgia about my kids’ youth — and, admittedly, in my niggling fears about things I did wrong or at the least could have done better — is that watching your kids grow up and leave the nest is kind of the point of parenting. Sending them out was the goal all along. I do hope of course that our kids remain close to us relationally throughout adulthood. But our job as parents was not to coddle them into codependence with us, but to raise them to love Jesus and neighbor, to train them to be mature grownups. All of the raising in the home and the church was training for their followship of the Lord outside. That was the whole point. It’s silly to run the race to the best of your ability and then begrudge the finish line when it approaches.

Does the Book of Proverbs Over-Promise?

How should we think about those proverbs which don’t seem true in our experience? Are the Proverbs just probabilities, or is there something more going on?

We will partially see these promises in this life—that is, unless God calls us to a higher form of blessing. But, in Jesus, we will see them fully in the next. No one has ever lived the conditions for these promises more perfectly than Jesus Christ, yet God called him to something higher than mere earthly prosperity.

Six Dangers of Podcasts

John Piper offers some potential dangers associated with listening to podcasts. (Of course, the dangers are offered on a podcast, so there’s that.)


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 (4/16/2021)

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

The Day After Easter

Glenna Marshall mourns her friend who died on Easter Monday. She points us toward true resurrection hope.

Just the day before, we celebrated the resurrection of Christ. For most of my life, I only celebrated His resurrection. I didn’t realize that His resurrection guaranteed my own. But everything we hope for, everything we are staking eternity on, everything we have given up for the sake of Christ hinges upon the fact that He conquered death. He rose again. And we will, too. We bury Sue on Saturday, but one day her grave will be empty like His.

Post-Pandemic, Will China’s Church Be Changed Forever?

The Chinese government imposed new restrictions in 2020 which have drastically affected the church. This article describes how house churches have adapted and what the future might look like.

How Does Chronic Pain Glorify God?

When pain does not go away for those who follow Jesus, how does that bring glory to God? In this episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast, John Piper gives a helpful answer from the Bible. (The second half of this podcast is especially helpful.)

First, when we suffer without cursing God, without forsaking Christ, declaring ourselves to be his friend and servant and disciple and follower and a great lover of his glory and faithfulness, we make plain to others that having Christ is more precious to us than having freedom from pain.


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 (3/26/2021)

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

What We Celebrate on World Down Syndrome Day

This past Sunday (March 21) was World Down Syndrome Day. Lauren Washer is a mother to a boy with Down Syndrome, and she reflects on some of the difficulties and the gifts that have come along.

I don’t pretend to understand why God allows disability, but I do know he displays his glory in our suffering. For it’s in hardship, challenges, and grief when we grow to know God more. Maybe not at first, but as our faith increases, God uses suffering to produce in us character, perseverance, and hope. Through suffering we come to know Christ more as we share in his suffering. And we grow to long for heaven like never before. When I see my son suffer, I yearn for Jesus to return and make all things new. Will there be Down syndrome in heaven? I don’t know, but if there is, it won’t be accompanied by hardship.

Delivered From the Tyranny of Emotions

What is the difference between experiencing emotions and being controlled by them? Megan Johnson explores this question and thinks about the role of her Christian faith.

My emotions have a place, and rightly so, as God made us to be feeling creatures, but my emotions shouldn’t have the final say about what is true in a situation. God, in his severe mercy, has given me a number of opportunities to practice this lately.

How Can I Fight Sin Without Losing Sight of Christ?

John Piper tackles a difficult question about fighting sin on a recent episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast. Here’s the question he addressed.

The following question is the source of my confusion: How can I rest in being justified if I need obedience as the evidence to truly know that I am justified? In other words, how can I rest in the verdict of ‘not guilty’ if in reality the verdict could be ‘guilty’ unless I see obedience in my life? This circular reasoning inevitably puts the focus back on myself instead of Christ, the opposite of what it is intended to do. I am almost sure I am thinking about this the wrong way.


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 (1/1/2021)

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

3 Questions For Setting God-Centered Goals

We all know the beginning of the year is a common time to set goals and resolutions. But, if we’re not careful, our goals can be terribly self-centered. Paul Worcester writes with advice on glorifying God with our goals.

If I’m not careful, I can gravitate toward goals that have the subtle motivation of glorifying myself. Fitness, finances, and fans can all be tools to glorify God. But if those things become ends in themselves, I am in danger of idolatry.

How Do I Become Passionate About Bible Reading?

John Piper answers this question on an episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast. I appreciate how Piper communicates how God uses his word in our lives.

But what I want to do in the next few minutes, at the beginning of the year here, is not persuade people of a particular plan, but to give the profound biblical truth and reality that ongoing feeding upon the word of God day by day is built into God’s way of saving you. In other words, we’re not putting icing on the cake of Christianity when we talk about Bible reading. We’re talking about the cake of God’s spiritual plan to preserve you and bring you safely to heaven with all the necessary holiness that the Spirit creates only by the word of God.

2020 Bashing

It’s easy and common to complain about how terrible 2020 was. Lisa LaGeorge has written an encouragement for us as we head into 2021—God is in control and he is good. She includes some helpful quotes from Corrie Ten Boom in her article.

Your God has planned 2020. There is nothing outside of His control, and He knows what is best. That change in the rhythm of life? The reduction in travel? The impact of the virus? All wrapped up in His goodness and work.


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 (10/9/2020)

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

Autumn and the Beauty of Death for the Christian

In this article, Tim Counts isn’t arguing that death is good or natural. There is, however, something special about death for a Christian. There is beauty in what awaits the Christian after death.

No, I am not talking about Christian death being beautiful because it is somehow less physically painful or less final on this side of eternity than non-Christian death. I am talking about Christian death being beautiful because the gospel gives us God’s perspective on even our final enemy, death.

Christian, be a Peacemaker

At a time when divisiveness is the norm in our country, this is a needed word. Blake Long writes how we can seek peace in our spheres of life.

Christian, be a peacemaker. Be the one to de-escalate when things are getting heated. Don’t stoke the fire with your sarcastic whit. Live at peace with all people and strive, by the Spirit’s power, to be like Jesus in every situation. 

Why Do I Need to Read the Bible When We Have Bible Teachers Online?

John Piper tackles this question on an episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast. He urges his questioner to read the Bible for himself, using Psalm 119 for much of his reasoning.

Perhaps at the bottom of the problem is that our friend has so completely intellectualized his faith that the only category in which he thinks, the only category that’s going to profit him, he thinks, is the category of verbal explanation. There are a lot of people who think about sermons that way. They just think, “I need to know; I need some more information, some more explanation,” rather than also the heartfelt exultation that a lover has in reading the very words of his beloved.

Justin Giboney’s Both/AND Politics

Here’s a profile of Justin Giboney, one of the cofounders of the AND Campaign. Since I’ve learned about this organization’s efforts to encourage Christians to think and act with “compassion & conviction” about politics, I’ve learned and grown a lot. This article explains the launch of the AND Campaign and Giboney’s role and aims with the organization.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called I Know God’s Will for You. 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. 

Links for the Weekend (4/17/2020)

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

Christ is Risen — Now What?

Jared Wilson writes movingly about the significance of Easter for the first disciples and for us. He explains how “Easter has become the ultimate game-changer for the human experience.”

We know now that whatever we face, be they personal trials or global pandemics, the good news endures and cannot be conquered. With the empty tomb in the rearview mirror, even the grave before us poses no threat. For death could not hold him, and therefore it cannot hold us. Even the taking up of our own cross has become a light burden compared to the past bondage of sin.

Fighting Loneliness in the Coronavirus Outbreak

The feeling of loneliness is a reality for many of us now in ways it was not six weeks ago. For some, that feeling has been around for years but has been amplified recently. In this episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast, John Piper addresses loneliness.

Will God answer that prayer? There are good reasons to believe that he will. First because he made provisions for it while he was still here. He said, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18). The last thing he said on earth was, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). In other words, he sends the Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of Christ, and he will be with every Christian. Christian, you are not alone. I’ll say it again: Christian, you are not alone. This is absolutely wonderful. You are never alone. The most important person in the universe — mark this — is with you personally. He promised to be. He doesn’t break his word. He is.

I Didn’t Know I Loved You Like This

If you’re anything like me, this period of semi-isolation has shown you just how valuable the church body is. This is a brief love letter by Glenna Marshall to the church on that theme.

We’ve had our fair share of arguments and arms-length distancing. But better to work through our issues together than to miss one another apart. Truly, we are better together. You show it now with your calls and texts, letters and cards. In your absence, my heart grows fonder. I didn’t know just how interwoven your life was with mine. There’s a hole, an empty seat, a vacant lot, a void that’s only yours. I feel it more each day, and every day I’m surprised by the depth of it all.


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 (3/27/2020)

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

Practice Hospitality. Especially During a Pandemic.

How do we keep our Christian commitment to love our neighbors in the climate of a pandemic? Rosaria Butterfield gives us four ways to practice Christian hospitality in these times.

The sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” reminds Christians of both our positive and negative duties in times of plague. Faced with COVID-19, there are things we should do, and there are things we should not do. In all things, we seek the glory of God and the good of our neighbors. 

Should Stay-at-Home Moms Take a Day Off?

The Ask Pastor John podcast features John Piper answering listener questions on theology, Christian living issues, and more. In this episode, he shares how he and his wife thought about finding “the pace to finish the race.” In other words, how do they help each other to rest, especially when young children are part of the family? (As a bonus, there’s a great segment in this episode about the long-lasting fruit of disciplining children when they’re young.)

So, the question for all of us moms, single moms, husbands, single dads is: How do you find the pace to finish the race? That’s the question. We don’t want to loiter on our heavenly journey, and we don’t want to fall exhausted halfway through. That’s not a selfish question to ask; it’s a wise one to ask: How can I find the pace to finish the race? So whether it’s a day off or some other configuration of off and on, work and rest, a sustaining rhythm, here are five observations that might prove helpful to think about.

25 Hymns to Sing in Troubled Times

In a time when we’re not gathering together as God’s people, here’s an article which collects 25 hymns to sing during times of uncertainty and fear. There’s an accompanying Spotify playlist, too.

So, through these hymns, lay your burdens at Christ’s feet. Praise the Lord of history who holds all things—disease, life, and death—in his hands. Ask for his help in a season of waiting. Lament and grieve the tragic effects of the fall. And herald the good news that through Christ’s death and resurrection, he has given us an unshakeable hope.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article by Erica Goehring called Now is the Time to Love Our Neighbors. 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. 

Links for the Weekend (7/5/2019)

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

Do I Need to Love Myself More?

Does the second greatest commandment (“Love your neighbor as you love yourself”) mean that we need to focus on loving ourselves? John Piper tackles this question in another episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast.

He’s referring to the fact that all of us have an inborn instinct, or reflex, to seek our own happiness and to avoid harm. In other words, our self-love that Jesus assumes in this commandment is our desire for happiness or our desire to minimize our unhappiness.

Touch

This article from Stephen McAlpine is so beautiful that I almost hate to describe it for fear that I’ll diminish it somehow by my description. Let me just say that he reflects on the power of human and divine touch in a simple and captivating way.

We love touch. We long for it. And there’s something biblical about its healing capacity. God forms everything but humanity with Word, but when it comes to us, the image is of hands shaping and moulding. And then there’s the deeply intimate act of God breathing the breath of life in the nostrils of the man.

A Dynamite Sermon

Pastor Waltermyer spent several days recently in Dallas, Texas for the PCA’s General Assembly. He told me that the sermon preached on Thursday night was one of the best he’s ever heard. The sermon was given by David Cassidy and was entitled “A Brief History of the Future.” You can find a video of the entire worship service here, and the sermon begins at 1:14:45. I’ve also tried to embed the video below.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published Where Our Gaze Lands, by Erica Goehring. 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. 

Links for the Weekend (6/28/2019)

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

Is God Angry at Me When I Sin?

In this episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast, John Piper answers a question that gets right at the center of Christian experience. God loves his children, but he hates sin. So how does he feel about his children when they sin? At this link you can listen to the answer (or read the transcript).

He never looks upon us with contempt because he’s always for us, never against us. He will always restore us and bring us unfailingly to an eternity when there will be no grieving him, no quenching him, no displeasing him anymore.

The Most Epic Bible Study of All Time

Do you remember the conversation Jesus had with disciples on the road to Emmaus, where he showed them how Moses and the Prophets pointed to him? Garrett Kell imagines this exchange, and he goes through each book of the Old Testament to give an example of what Jesus might have said. It’s a great illustration of how to see Jesus in the Old Testament.

Reading the Old Testament to find Jesus isn’t meant to be like playing “Where’s Waldo?”—looking behind every tree for a cross or every chair for a throne. We do, however, find both explicit teachings and also implicit themes that push us to know that something, or someone, greater must come to fulfill them. Jesus proved this true that day following his resurrection.

Sleep Well for God is Awake

With all that is going on in the world—not to mention all that happens in your life—how are we supposed to sleep? Darin Smith gives seven (brief!) reasons why Christians can sleep well.

You are as secure as Christ is (Eph. 1:13-14).  No one loves you like Jesus, so unplug your life-giving cord from people, and live, love, and serve to God’s glory today (1 Cor. 10:31). Rest!


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