Links for the Weekend (7/16/2021)

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

Biblical Literacy: Jen Wilkin on the Importance of Bible Study

Here’s a helpful interview with Jen Wilkin on why we all need to understand the Bible ourselves.

Wilkin flatly rejects the notion that deep knowledge of Scripture is best left to adults and “experts.” “A child who is capable of reading is capable of reading the Bible,” she insists. “Children need early exposure to the Scriptures because they need to see them as a familiar friend. Reading the Scriptures to them—and then, of course, having them read them themselves—are all formative practices. Sometimes we think children should only read (the Bible) if they can understand everything they’re reading,” she says, but “we underestimate their ability.”

The Hard Work of Lifelong Friendships

This is a talk by Christine Hoover at TGC’s 2021 Women’s Conference where she focused on biblical friendships. You may listen to the audio here or read a transcript.

Christians Need More Intergenerational Friendships

Continuing the theme of friendship, Joe Carter has an article about friendship based on a survey of college students conducted by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. The survey revealed that “students need more intergenerational relationships.

If you’re like the average American, you are likely to have few or none. Indeed, many Americans do not have a large number of close friends. Almost half of Americans (49 percent) report having three or fewer, while only about one-third (36 percent) report having between four and nine close friends. Thirteen percent of Americans say they have 10 or more close friends, which is roughly the same proportion of the public that has no close friends (12 percent).

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called When the Promises of God Are All You Have. If you haven’t already seen it, check it out!

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 (6/18/2021)

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

Midlife, Christ Is

I promise I’m not just recommending this article because I’m jealous of its excellent title. Jared Wilson writes about faith in midlife, describing the ways Christ meets us.

I still think that phenomenon is a weird thing, but I think I understand it a bit better now. Midlife brings new insecurities and awakenings to long-dormant regrets. Many of us face empty nests and the prospect of, in effect, starting over with spouses we’ve only related to for so long as co-parents rather than as partners or friends. Many of us face the reality of aging parents and any fears or worries or responsibilities that come with that. And of course we daily face the reality of lost youth, waning strength, more difficult processes for maintaining health. Time moves a lot faster the older you get. That’s a cliché too, but it’s true.

Young Mom, You Can Read the Bible

I appreciated reading this article from Abigail Dodds on Bible reading for young mothers. She describes her own experience and how the “get up early” advice is well-intentioned but not always practical!

When you’re a mom of very young ones, an important tool you need to keep yourself fed with God’s word through those very short (yet very long) years is flexibility in how you read, along with consistency that you read. Be flexible about how you read God’s word, and be unwaveringly consistent that you read it. “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8).

Why Our Secular Age Needs Ecclesiastes

Kevin Halloran encourages us to read Ecclesiastes, noting how relevant it is to the needs of today!

Yes, creation and our lives under the sun were subjected to futility, but Christ gives us joy-producing hope in the present as we await our glorious future. Yes, this world is a difficult place to live; but we won’t always live here. Christ will set us free to enjoy Him and His glory forever.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called Banking on God’s Justice. 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 (1/15/2021)

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

Are Paper Bibles Better?

At Desiring God, David Mathis urges us to read our Bibles deeply and meditatively. And, for some people, this might mean that they need to spend more time with a physical Bible.

I want to invite you, here at the outset of a new year, to join me in doing something countercultural: get a paper Bible and learn to read it differently from your phone and other screens, and make the words of God your rock in a world of multiplied words of sand. You don’t need an old tattered, torn, marked up, and re-covered Bible like mine. You might consider, though, whether paper might make a difference in your time alone with God. There is some research to consider, not just my experience.

A Word of Hope for Those with Chronic Pain

This was written during Advent, but I think it is still helpful. We all experience chronic pain or know someone who does. What does it look like for people with such pain to wait in hope?

Waiting in chronic pain can wear you down, shrivel your love, fill you with self-pity, and poison your heart. Or it can refine your character, build your patience and endurance, and increase your longing for God. Whether our waiting does the one or the other largely depends on what we believe is on the other side of this suffering.

How to Overcome Temptation

Jared Wilson reflects on Jesus’s temptation by the devil and what we can learn from it about fighting sin.

Thanks to Jesus, temptation doesn’t have to be our undoing. Until he returns, we will struggle with sin, but we can fight against it and the constant attraction to it we face, if we will cling to Christ’s grace and follow Christ’s example in staying alert, staying focused, and staying in the word that gives power.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article by Sarah Wisniewski called I Am Not Enough. 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 (1/8/2021)

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

Begin with Worship

Zach Barnhart writes about how we can use the first hours of our day to glorify God. And without making it seem mandatory, he commends private worship early in the day.

On many occasions, people have asked me whether I see any difference between Bible reading in the morning compared to at night. The spirit of the question seems to be asking permission not to study the Bible in the morning. Reasons abound. We are “not morning people.” Our children need our attention. Our morning duties render the thought of meaningful Bible study impossible at sunrise. Each family has its own particular challenges to navigate with time, of course. And no time spent with the Lord, whenever it may be, is deemed inferior or a waste. But the more I have experienced the choice of beginning my day with purposeful worship, the more I believe there is something to it. It seems Scripture itself tells us so.

The Quiet Power of Ordinary Devotions

This seems a good article to pair with the previous one. While we may long for powerful devotional times, filled with dramatic insight and joy, more often we find our times ordinary. And yet, as the title says, there is power in ordinary devotions.

Yet the cause does not always lie in us. If we are reading our Bibles rightly, in fact, we should expect many mornings of ordinary devotions: devotions that do not sparkle with insight or direct-to-life application, but that nevertheless do us good. Just as most meals are ordinary, but still nourish, and just as most conversations with friends are ordinary, but still deepen affection, so most devotions are ordinary, but still grow us in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel in a Democracy Under Assault

What happened at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was shocking, and Russell Moore has written a helpful reflection for Christians.

2021 Bible Reading Plans

If you want to plan your Bible reading for the year but haven’t done it yet, Ligonier has a long list of options for you. You may also want to see what reading plan Tim Challies uses.


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. 

I Have Stored Up Your Word in My Heart

I have an early memory of being aware that God was a real presence, not a cartoonish old man on a glitzy throne in heaven. I was in my elementary school’s third grade classroom, and I was eight years old. A mighty storm raged. The sky was dark as if evening had already descended. A sideways rain pounded at the rippled glass. As any classroom teacher can attest, every child was focused on the weather outside, math or spelling lessons forgotten.

My dad worked for the telephone company, and sometimes his job required him to climb telephone poles to make repairs. When bad weather hit, I usually worried about my dad up on a pole. (I am certain he would never do something that risky, but when you are eight and your dad is a superhero, you just never know.) As I watched that wild storm whip the trees and rattle the glass, I felt calm and unusually relaxed. I felt, for the first time in my life, that God was with me—real, present, and almost close enough to touch. I remembered the story of Jesus calming the storm around his boat while his frightened comrades huddled, fretting about their fate. My parents read that story at home. My Sunday School teachers taught that lesson in class. Our VBS staff reenacted it. This truth about Jesus had been placed in my memory and stored in my heart. The moment arrived when I could tap into that storage and pull out assurance. 

Through the next 30+ years, I have often felt thankful for the little snippets of Scripture and broad Biblical truths that are living in my memory. Some of them are a little dusty; I’m ashamed that I often cannot pull out the exact verse and chapter, and I would never win a Bible Bee. But I only need to blow the dust bunnies away, and my knowledge of the Lord comes flooding back. 

Why Learn the Bible?

Comfort is not the only reason to know and remember Scripture. Psalm 119:11 tells us, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Knowing God’s word, including his commandments and standards, helps us to be aware of ways we may sin by doing something God forbids or neglecting something he requires. I find this analogy helpful: When you visit a new swimming pool for the first time, you cannot know if you are going to dive into the wrong area or bring in a forbidden beverage unless you know the rules. Storing away God’s word helps you avoid sinning against him.

We also read in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that “[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 competent, equipped for every good work.” This passage highlights several related reasons to know the holy Scripture. When we encounter God’s word, we are both being taught ourselves and being prepared to teach others. His word is a primary means he uses to prepare us for good works. We cannot anticipate the next mission he will present, but he can and he does! The Scripture is the main way God’s children hear his voice, so if we want to partner with him, we must listen and remember.

Additionally, the written word of God is a tool for growing faith. Romans 10:17 reminds us, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” When our faith is brand new or has been weakened by time, experience, or weariness, we can come to the Scripture where Christ’s words live and actively move (see Hebrews 4:12). This is our fuel, our nourishment, the fertilizer that grows our faith and our relationship with the one who is the source of all good things.

How to Learn Scripture

I benefited greatly from teachers in my early life who knew the value of the Bible. I had parents, relatives, Sunday school teachers, and pastors who committed their time and energy to planting God’s word in my heart and praying for it to take root. However, my education in the Scriptures didn’t end there, and a person’s relationship with the Bible doesn’t depend on beginning in childhood. 

First, dig into the Bible knowing that your pursuit will be imperfect. As a young Christian, I took a few approaches. Sometimes, I simply opened a Bible and read. I took a passage and tried to read with an open heart, eager to hear from God. Other times, I made use of a study Bible. Short, clear annotations allowed me to gather historical context or nuances of the language that led to deeper insights. I also took a book-by-book approach, seeking to understand the larger story of the entire Bible. I knew that I would make mistakes and sometimes misunderstand. I accepted that I would miss details or stumble on challenging language, but I also knew that God promised to provide understanding through the work of the Holy Spirit. 

Secondly, learn in community. Look for opportunities to join a Bible study or class. More informally, reach out to your brothers and sisters in Christ and ask to gather around the word of God over coffee or by means of technology while social distancing is still wise. 

Finally, remember that memorization happens in small pieces, and memory is like a muscle that needs to be exercised. A single verse may challenge you now, but a whole chapter is possible with time and practice.

A Perfect Resource

Whether you face extraordinary struggles or the average setbacks of a regular day, know with full confidence that God has already provided a soothing word for your pain or a pointed direction for your next steps. He has prepared a perfect resource as we learn, grow, and prepare to teach others. Compared to his might and majesty, we are all children in a storm, invited to call upon the Lord for safety, calm, and assurance. Tuck his truths into your heart so that you may remember his love when the wind rises.

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Links for the Weekend (6/19/2020)

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

Of Oceans, Thimbles, and Talking to Your Kids about Death

When death is in the news—at it is during the time of a global pandemic—it may be a good opportunity to talk to our children and grandchildren about death. This takes care, of course, but Alasdair Groves shares a truth he learned from his mother that will help. He also passes along very practical advice about talking to children about death.

So especially if you’ve never talked about death with your kids before, I’d encourage you to find a time soon to ask them what they are thinking about the coronavirus, death, and what scares them about it. Few things are more comforting to a child than knowing that it’s ok to talk about their fears. (It’s ok to share your own fears, too.) Even if you’ve talked to them about death before, it’s still a great time to look for, or even create, chances to have open conversations about the biggest problem any of us will ever face and the Good and Gentle Shepherd who laid down his life to rescue his sheep.

White Flags in Peru: How the Church Is Caring for Coronavirus Victims

I hope you’ll be as encouraged as I was reading this article. I love to hear about God’s miraculous provision and his church’s loving care of people in need. This article describes how a church in northern Peru is helping its community handle both food and medical emergencies related to the coronavirus.

The operating conviction for ongoing action in our homes and community is not only that God is a good and faithful Father who provides, but also that prayer is the power that moves his heart and hand. In our home we began daily prayer meetings to seek God’s favor and provision for our family, church, and community. It was not long before generous donations began coming from unexpected people and places. In a time when we should have been struggling and paralyzed, we moved forward in boldness with the ability to provide for and encourage more than 400 families with over 600 bags of food.

The power of reading…slowly

Tony Payne shares how the shutdown of COVID-19 has forced him to slow down in some important ways. In particular, he writes about how using a different (and older) translation of the Bible has helped him to notice details that escaped him in the past.

There is no question that the NIV is easier to read, just as white rice is quicker and easier to cook and goes down more smoothly than brown. And just as there is a time for white rice, so there is a time for simpler modern translations (such as reading aloud in church). But chewing over the RV has enabled me to metabolize the riches of God’s word more slowly and appreciatively.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called The Right-Now Blessings of the Kingdom of God. 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 (2/21/2020)

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

Why Do We Read Scripture?

It seems like a pretty basic question, right? What are we hoping will happen when we read the Bible? Andrew Wilson gives one wrong answer and five right ones.

We do not read it to earn. It is so easy to be tricked into thinking like this, but the purpose of reading the Bible is never to present God with a good work that entitles you to a reward. You are no more justified after reading a Bible for an hour than you are after playing Playstation or having breakfast or going for a walk.

To Those Who Send ‘Good Thoughts’

I never know how to respond when someone tells me they’re sending me “good thoughts” or “positive energy.” Nancy Guthrie writes a winsome response to this situation; it is a model of charity and grace. And she brings in the life and work of Jesus in a beautiful way.

I want you to know that whenever I read that you are sending me or someone else “good thoughts,” I’m not going to roll my eyes. Instead, I’m going to close my eyes and meditate for a moment on all of the goodness that has flowed into my life from my heavenly Father, all of the goodness being worked into my life by the Holy Spirit, and all of the goodness I stand to inherit by being joined to Jesus Christ. And I’m going to pray that you will know and experience that goodness too.

A Prayer for Battling a Destructive Desire

We all face desires that could destroy us. How will we respond when that lands on our shoulders? Tim Challies shares a prayer that has helped him.

Faced with this temptation,
I would rather choose you, Jesus—
but I am weak. So be my strength.
I am shadowed. Be my light.
I am selfish. Unmake me now,
and refashion my desires
according to the better designs of your love.


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 Bible is for Everyone

There are more Bibles in print today than ever. We have dozens of English Bible translations and scores of Bible apps. The number of ways to listen, stream, and download the Bible would amaze our parents in the faith.

And yet, some think the Bible is exclusive and elite. That it is aimed at a narrow strip of humanity.

Brethren, this should not be. The Bible is for everyone.

It is not just for pastors and ministers, not just for the ordained. It is not just for missionaries or evangelists or worship leaders. It is not just for elders, deacons, or Bible study leaders. It is not just for those in vocational ministry.

The Bible is not just for independent adults. It is not just for the employed or the wealthy or the powerful. It is not just for those who speak loudly into the world and influence others. It is not just for the educated.

The Bible is not only for those who already know it. It is not a private club with a secret handshake. It is not only for church members, not only for the theologically astute, not only for people who can turn to Amos without consulting the table of contents.

The Bible is not for a select, respectable few, because Jesus did not come for a select, respectable few.

With the drama and force of a thousand neon arrows, the Bible points to Jesus. And since Jesus invites everyone to come to him, the Bible is for everyone.

The Bible is for those who don’t know Chronicles from Corinthians. It’s for those who have never been to church, who don’t what “theology” means.

The Bible is for babies, children, teens, and the elderly. It is for the jobless and the retired. It is for the poor and helpless, the weak and the overlooked. The Bible is for grade-school dropouts and those with mental challenges.

The Bible is for regular, normal Christians. And it is also for the curious, the doubting, and the disenchanted.

The Bible is for you. And the Bible is for your neighbor.

Regardless of your achievements, bank account, or any status in anyone’s eyes—good or bad—the Bible is for you. And God invites you to read, listen to, study, and memorize the Bible so that you might know him through his son Jesus.

So grab a Bible, grab a neighbor, and take up this remarkable, unique book that is written for all people. Let’s dig in.

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