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. 

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.

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The Default Posture of Love

It was a delightfully ordinary morning. I was well-rested, blessed by the routines of both the previous evening and the present day. I was enjoying the silence and stillness. Then my children awoke.

Though this happens every day, something was different. I was immediately on edge, listening critically to their conversation and actions. I felt like a coiled spring, ready to bounce upstairs to correct, scold, or yell at the slightest provocation.

Default Positions

We all know a bit about defaults. A default is a position assumed automatically without active choice. We’ve all accidentally subscribed to an email newsletter (or fifty) because we didn’t uncheck the proper box.

On this particular morning, my default position toward my children was one of suspicion and anger. Before they said or did anything, I took on an adversarial stance; I assumed they would soon need correction or discipline. I’m convicted as I remember this attitude, because it’s simply not the way a Christian should think about his kids.

A False View of God

Christian fathers have a weighty task. Whenever they interact with their children, they speak about God’s fatherhood. Like it or not, kids will learn what God is like as a father (in part) by watching, playing with, and listening to their dad.

In my posture toward my children, I was promoting a false view of God.

The culture at large thinks of God as a scold, a grade-school nun eager to draw blood from knuckles with a ruler. The clear, Scriptural evidences of God’s holiness and judgment are used to paint God as perpetually angry, just waiting for us to sin so he can strike. He may be merciful, but only as a last-second shield from his wrath.

These conceptions of God do not square with the biblical picture, especially for Christians.

The True View of God

If you are a Christian, God loves you (1 John 4:10). Your faith is an evidence of his love. He cannot love you any more, and he cannot love you any less. Full stop.

There is not a drop of his wrath remaining toward you (Rom 8:1). Every last ounce was wrung out on Jesus in your place (Rom 5:6–11). Because he is just, God is not waiting for you to fall. (Though he will pick you up when you do.)

Of course, God disciplines us as a loving father (Heb 12:3–11). But God’s discipline comes as needed, in just the right measure and at just the right time. It is never extraneous or excessive; it is never vengeful or disproportionate. His discipline is perfect and perfectly loving.

In short, God’s posture toward us is one of love.

A Godly Vision of Fatherhood

Perhaps the application for parents is clear. Our default posture toward our children must be one of love and peace. We should rejoice at the God-given relationship we have. Friends come and go, but these will be our children forever. Instead of suspicion and anger, my resting state with my children must be warmth and joy, especially if I am to teach them about God.

This posture doesn’t excuse sin or disobedience. In fact, it provides the biblical context for addressing disobedience.

I can love because I am loved. I can help because I have been helped. I can forgive because I have been forgiven. I can correct, guide, and instruct because my Father does the same for me.

For yourself, and for your children, this makes all the difference in the world.

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Links for the Weekend (2024-02-09)

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

The Parenting Book Too Few Parents Read

Tim Challies encourages us to learn from the ways our fellow church members parent their children.

And yet I believe that many parents fail to read the parenting book that could make the biggest difference to their lives and families. Many neglect to give their attention to the parenting book that God has set right before them. It’s the “book” that is being written in the lives of the people in their own local church.

Why We Pulled Our Kids from Club Sports

This article is an interview with the athletic director at Dordt University about kids’ involvement in club sports. He highlights the good things about sports for children, and he offers some cautions as well.

Navigating that fine line between loving sports and idolizing sports is really hard, and that’s why we need Christian coaches and leaders to help educate families on moderation—on what is enough for their family. Certainly, we are getting no help from the culture on de-idolizing athletics, so we need to be intentional. We hear loud noises from the greater sports culture saying, “Indulge, indulge, indulge.”

Selfless Self-Control in a Selfish Society

When we think of self-control, we often think primarily of ourselves. This article explains why self-control is commanded of God’s people—to benefit others.

Godly self-control, such as we find described in Titus, is the opposite. It is about us restraining ourselves not just for our own sake but for the sake of other people. Self-control admits that, left to our own devices, we would not tend towards the interests of others but towards our own interests—and seeks to do better.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called God’s Promises Are So Much Better Than We Think. 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 (2023-11-17)

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

Answering Kids’ Hardest Questions: Will God Always Keep Me Safe?

This article tackles an important matter: how do we help our children grapple with what God has and has not promised?

God does not promise to leave us alone. God does not promise to not allow us to encounter these circumstances. But what God does promise us is that he is good and that he is always working for the good of his people.

Dare to Be a Daniel

When we ask how to read the Old Testament, Mitchell Chase has a great answer: look at how the New Testament authors read the Old Testament.

A mere moralization of Old Testament stories is a deficient interpretive method. But as we seek to read the Old Testament as the New Testament authors do, we will see that they not only show how Old Testament stories anticipate Christ, they teach how these Old Testament stories build our faith and direct us in wisdom. 

The Last Days of C. S. Lewis

We are coming up on the anniversary of the death of C. S. Lewis. Trevin Wax takes the occasion to write about the end of Lewis’s life and how he faced death.

Lewis said goodbye to his closest friends, perhaps like Reepicheep as he headed over the wave in his coracle in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader—“trying to be sad for their sakes” while “quivering with happiness.” The joy—the stab of inconsolable longing—that animated his poetry and prose was on display in how he died, in those weeks of quiet rest, as he endured his physical maladies with patience and good humor, in full faith that this earthly realm is just a prelude to the next chapter of a greater story, a new and wondrous reality suffused with the deep magic of divine 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. 

Links for the Weekend (2023-11-03)

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

Living Sorrows and Departed Joys

Tim Challies writes a moving article comparing the griefs that come from losing a child to death and having a child leave the faith.

His daughter has said she will come to church today. His daughter has wandered far but has said she is ready to return. His daughter who has squandered so much says she has learned her lesson. His daughter who has caused her father’s heart to ache has said that today she will soothe it. This man is looking for his daughter, his beloved daughter.

When Death Starts to Take Our Friends

This author reflects on the death of actor Matthew Perry and urges us to keep the brevity of life before us.

I was told I was going to die, once. I mean, I was told that I was going to die in a very short period of time of a dreadful illness. I didn’t. Here I am still. So far. But for a few short weeks the full impact that one day very soon would be my last day and after that, eternity, was seared into my brain. The enormous reality of it hit me. And I was only 42. The lurking truth came out of the shadows over there and stared me in the face right here.

What Does It Mean to Grieve the Holy Spirit?

Here is a video posted by Crossway in which Dr. Fred Sanders answers the question, “What does it mean to grieve the Holy Spirit?” (A transcript is also available.)

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called 3 Skills Christians Can Learn from a Great Interviewer. 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 Daughter Taught Me About Joy

There was a fight in my house on Sunday morning. A big one.

We separated the combatants, and no one was badly hurt. I’m not sure what started the conflict, but I was relieved to hear the elephant was not involved.

Making the Bed

One morning a few months ago, my youngest daughter (4) was taking longer than usual to make her bed. It was Sunday and I was trying to herd my children toward the car.

I entered her room and saw her deep in thought and narration. After straightening her pillow, sheet, and comforter, she was arranging some stuffed animal friends on top of the bed. This was serious business.

The animals were going to church. The sanctuary (the bed) was all prepared and the preacher (a penguin) was ready to give his address from the pulpit (the pillow).

We’ve seen a similar drama unfold every Sunday since. There isn’t often conflict, but there is always a story.

Story and Joy

My children are constantly in the midst of a story. Their creativity bubbles and overflows, and I love it. (I blame and thank their mother.)

To me, making the bed is an easy, necessary task to complete as quickly as possible. I grumble throughout and take no pleasure in the chore.

But where I complain, my youngest delights. And she teaches me about her Creator.

Reflecting Our Creator

My daughter approaches work much more like God than I do.

He created and proclaimed it good. In every blue sky scattered with cottonball clouds, in every mud puddle begging for boots, in every colorful October leaf shower, can you see God’s playfulness? His delight? His pleasure in creating, sustaining, and spinning our earth on his finger?

Since joy is a fruit of the Spirit, God must be the most joyous. This, despite so many efforts to paint him as severe, brooding, and dour. He is no British matriarch on PBS.

Yes, God is holy and his holiness demands obedience. But holiness is not drudgery. Obedience is not grim. For the Christian, growth in obedience parallels growth in joy.

Our Source of Joy

I don’t mean our lives are all balloons and confetti. But the joy of the Lord is deep, warm, and abiding. This joy remains precisely because it doesn’t depend on circumstances.

Our joy is rooted in a restored, permanent relationship with God. We have the promise of a future with him and a foretaste of it now. That God makes this joy available and free to his enemies is unimaginable.

And yet, there was a great cost to providing this joy. Though it was for “the joy set before him,” Jesus endured the cross. Because of our sin, Jesus’s joyous fellowship with God was broken for a time so we might know the unending joy of reconciliation with the Father.

Imagine not just the confusion and wonder at the discovery of the empty tomb, but picture the joy that first Easter morning. Jesus is alive! Death is not the champion—Jesus is!

Pursue Joy in the Lord

While stunning and earth-shattering, this truth has practical implications: more smiling, more singing, less complaining. This godly joy should trickle and seep into every second of every day.

Because God is king and Jesus is alive, we can find joy in even the most mundane tasks. Just ask my daughter—she’d be glad to show you.

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Children: A Blessed Interruption

I started a recent Saturday morning with a sigh. It was time for one of my least favorite tasks: grading.

Grading for a professor is like sweeping the floor for a barber. It’s necessary, tedious, and often a hairy mess.

I was hoping to finish in an hour. I sat down with a red pen and braced myself. Then, the barrage began.

Daddy, can you watch me dance?
Daddy, can you make me breakfast?
Daddy, will you help me with this puzzle?
Daddy, my sister is bothering me!

Abundant tears. Disappointment galore. (My children had a rough time, too.)

One hour stretched into two. As with so much of parenting, this was not what I planned.

Children Are Interrupters

Interruptions and parenting go hand in hand. Every parent-to-be hears this, but it’s hard to grasp the new reality until it arrives.

For mothers, disruptions begin early as the child takes over her body during pregnancy. Unplanned clothing, cravings, emotions, pains, and trips to the bathroom mark those nine months.

During their first years of life, children survive through interruptions. They broadcast their needs at all hours and volumes.

While those early-year disturbances don’t disappear, they gradually change. Feedings, diaper changes, and 3am lullabyes give way to snack requests, scraped knees, and 3am counseling.

This isn’t unusual; this is parenting.

God is an Interrupter

I often brush aside these intrusions as meaningless accidents. Surely (I say to myself) the important parts of life lie elsewhere: adult conversations, work, community service, prayer, reading, church.

But God is an interrupter. Just ask Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Paul, or anyone that encountered Jesus.

Because he is sovereign, none of our interruptions come by chance. Some people use the term “divine appointment,” but that’s too tame. God disrupts our lives more like a rock through the window than a polite meeting request.

Learning Through Interruptions

God’s interruptions are more than a detour. His diversions don’t just lead to the correct path, they are the path. God teaches through disruption.

Consider Moses. God used Moses’ curiosity about the burning bush (Exodus 3:3) to reveal his name (Exodus 3:6,14–15), give Moses his mission (Exodus 3:10), and pledge his presence (Exodus 3:12). God didn’t just end Moses’ shepherding career, he gave Moses spiritual supplies for his new, enormous task.

We must embrace not only the result of God’s interventions but the interventions themselves. We need to see the opportunity, not the annoyance.

Which brings me back to my children.

Learning With My Children

I need these parenting interruptions. I need to be shaken from self-centeredness and reminded of how important my children are. I have only a finite number of dances to watch, breakfasts to prepare, and puzzles to build.

Yes, life with children is hard. But it is good, too.

God teaches me though my children’s requests, their needs, their disagreements, and even their disobedience. He shines a light on my heart, my requests, and my disobedience. He graciously shapes my character as I learn how to respond and how to love.

I’m grateful for God’s instructions. The question is: Will I listen?

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Links for the Weekend (2023-03-24)

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

If God Would Outsource His Sovereignty

Tim Challies imagines a scene in which we get to pick our life circumstances. Though we might shy away from difficult providences of God, this article reminds us how God uses them all.

And as we receive these from his hand we can rest assured that in the life of the Christian there are not two classes of providence, one good and one bad. No, though some may be easy and some hard, all are good because all in some way flow from his good, Fatherly hand and all in some way can be consecrated to his service. For we are not our own, but belong to him in body and in soul, in life and in death, in joy and in sorrow, in the circumstances we would have chosen anyway and the ones we would have avoided at all costs.

Helping Children with Anxiety

This article discusses how parents can help their children deal with anxiety. It also includes some resource recommendations at the end.

While children deal with their own fears and worries, they’re also watching you, taking cues on how they should respond. As parents, we tend to think it’s best to shield our children from our anxiety, and there are times when that’s appropriate. But shielding them and denying the presence of anxiety teaches them to do the same. That’s unhealthy, and it’s unbiblical. The psalmists didn’t bottle things up; they poured everything out. That doesn’t mean you should pour out your soul before your kids each day. But it does mean they should see it’s okay that you deal with fear and anxiety, too, and you do something about it: you turn to your heavenly Father in prayer. You read his word. You walk by faith. You believe. Showing them what to do with anxiety is much healthier than modeling denial.

One Man’s Walk in the Snow Creates a Giant Masterpiece

This last link is not specifically Christian, but this video displays God’s glory and man’s creativity in nature. This short film is only 6 minutes long.

    On the WPCA Blog This Week

    This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called Lord, Teach Me to Hunger. 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 (2022-11-04)

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

    The Body Is Bigger Than You Think

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

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

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

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

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

    Hymn of the Day

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

    On the WPCA Blog This Week

    This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called Gather With All Ages. If you haven’t already seen it, check it out!

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