Links for the Weekend (2022-09-16)

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

Lord, Help Me See the Ways to Die Today

Trevin Wax writes about how the opportunities for self-denial often show up in small ways throughout each day.

A few months ago, I began asking the Lord every morning to give me chances that day to die to myself, and for the Spirit to help me recognize those opportunities. He has never failed to answer this prayer. Not once. Every time I’ve asked him to show me opportunities to die to myself, he’s come through. Annoyingly so. On occasion, I’ve thought it might be best to stop praying this prayer, as I grew tired of the spiritual discomfort.

Why It Matters That Jesus Was and Still Is Human

Here is a moving reflection on the humanity of Jesus which focuses on his great compassion.

One implication of this truth of Christ’s permanent humanity is that when we see the feeling and passions and affections of the incarnate Christ toward sinners and sufferers as given to us in the four Gospels, we are seeing who Jesus is for us today. The Son has not retreated back into the disembodied divine state in which he existed before he took on flesh. 

You’ve Never Heard This (Spiritually) Before

Many times the first time a person hears the gospel is not actually the first time that person hears the gospel.

So what’s the point? Why sow seed that just seems to get eaten by the birds, rich truths that seem to immediately get suppressed and later forgotten? Simply because this is the only way that spiritual understanding comes about – through the unrelenting sowing of God’s word. The Spirit only comes upon those who have heard the words of truth. He does not work without it or around it. He works through his word, period. And from our perspective we cannot see what is going on behind the scenes, which seed is the one that will take root and burst through the concrete. He sovereignly chooses to strike with life sooner, later, or not at all.

Did Jesus take on our sin nature?

Here’s a short video answer to this question, courtesy of Ligonier Ministries and Michael Reeves.


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

Toward Mending a Divided World

Everywhere I look, I see divisions. There are lines drawn between people, pitting us against each other because of skin color, finances, gender, political party. Even in the church, we put up boundaries to keep from mixing with people who are different. I lament the way we are separated. I’m tired of it.

So, when I found Jesus Outside the Lines, I began reading it immediately, finished it in a day, and immediately wanted to hand a copy to everyone I know.

This fantastic book, written by Pastor Scott Sauls, gently leads us away from an us-against-them mindset and toward loving our neighbors despite our differences. He begins with an introduction that reminds us of Jesus’s call to love all people, even those who do not love us. He shows how kindness to people who do not agree with us flows naturally from God’s mercy and compassion to us.

Sauls addresses two different ways in which we must love across divisions, and these are the book’s two parts: within the body of Christ and outside of it. In each section are several chapters addressing particular issues that are difficult for Christians.

The first section covers loving our siblings in Christ across internal borders. It includes chapters addressing political and economic differences, among others, and how we must love people who voted for the other candidate or who earn more or less than ourselves. It is equal parts exhortation and encouragement. It is easy to say we must love our family; actually doing it can be difficult!

The path is harder still in the second section, because we are also meant to love those who do not believe as we do. This part addresses far more subjects, because there is so much to keep in mind when we talk to non-Christians. Should we affirm or critique? Should we be hopeful or realistic? What do we say when we are called hypocrites? How do we talk to those outside the faith about chastity?

Sauls doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, but rather helps the reader think through this important question: How do we love our neighbors, especially when we do not agree with them? The question is crucial since we will disagree with nearly everyone on one point or another. As people of God, we must treat each person with loving kindness, regardless of their beliefs.

The majority of people I interact with during the week are not Christians. It can be challenging to relate to classmates who center their lives around something that is not God, and sometimes this fundamental difference threatens to divide us. But I don’t want this to happen; I care about many of them, and I want to be someone people can count on to listen when they need to talk, to be kind when they are hurting. I want God’s light to reach them. This book provided guidance about the confusing mess of human relationships in light of God’s word and his love for us. It gave me permission to affirm and encourage non-Christians around me and to be friends with them. It also reminded me that critique, not criticism, is sometimes the most loving thing to do, and I ought to do so with an attitude of gentleness, not judgement. 

If you want to learn how to talk to people who aren’t (yet) believers or how to handle politics with other Christians, Jesus Outside the Lines is a great resource. It would be valuable for anyone who wants to build friendships with people who don’t agree on every issue, whether inside or outside the church.

How Do We Obey the Gospel?

“Obey” is not one of the verbs we typically connect to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We talk about preaching the gospel, sharing the gospel, and believing the gospel. But we don’t hear much about obeying the gospel.

And yet, this must have been a phrase used in the early church, because it appears in at least two places in the Bible. In the context of talking about eternal punishment, Paul writes of “those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thess 1:8). In a similar manner, Peter refers to “those who do not obey the gospel of God” as being outside the household of God (1 Peter 4:17).

What did these apostles mean when they used this phrase?

News That Demands Action

The word “gospel” means “good news,” so on the surface this phrase doesn’t make much sense. After all, how can we obey news?

The gospel is not just any news. It is good news announced by God. Such news requires action.

The ministry of Jesus answers our question directly.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14–15)

Because the kingdom is at hand—meaning that the king (Jesus) is here—repent and believe in the gospel. This is confirmed in other places in the New Testament.

Paul ended his sermon in Athens this way, including the command for all people to repent.

“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30–31)

Paul also wrote this to the Romans, where he equates obeying and believing.

But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” (Romans 10:16)

Using these passages, we can take a swing at what it means to obey the gospel. Obeying the gospel means repenting of sin and believing the gospel.

This definition still demands an explanation “the gospel.” But, in an effort to keep the length of this post reasonable, I’ll leave that to another source.

We still have one question to answer. If the Bible speaks this way, why don’t we?

An Invitation or a Declaration (or Both)?

One reason we don’t talk about obeying the gospel is because we don’t view the message as authoritative. The good news about Jesus becomes one option among many. It might be our favorite option, but this mindset turns Christianity into one choice on a religious buffet. When we talk to our friends about the gospel, we’re hoping they’ll pick the potato salad like we did and sit at our table.

We have (rightly) understood the gospel to be an invitation, but we have not seen it as anything more.

To be clear, the gospel is an invitation! Jesus did not (and does not) coerce anyone into faith, and we won’t force or argue anyone into the church. Jesus was (and is) gentle and hospitable, welcoming all who call on his name.

But as we have seen, the gospel demands action. Turning away from Jesus is not just making a different, individual choice—it is disobeying and rejecting God. Our evangelistic efforts should emphasize both the call to obey and the invitation.

Ongoing Obedience to the Gospel

We need the gospel every hour of every day, not just at the beginning of our Christian lives. Therefore, the obligation to “obey the gospel” is not just for unbelievers—it’s for Christians too.

We get a hint of this in a letter from the apostle John, who was writing to Christians.

And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. (1 John 3:23)

And in this same letter, we are not only urged to believe in the name of Jesus, but also to confess our sins and repent (1 John 1:8–10).

We enter into faith by the grace of God, and we are sustained in faith by this same grace (Gal 3:1–6). This glorious grace of God helps us to repent and believe in the gospel and to invite others into this same obedience.

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Links for the Weekend (2022-06-17)

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

Why Self-Help Is Not Encouragement

Sadly, much of what passes for encouragement among Christians is more like self-help mantras. Lindsey Carlson helps us understand what Christian encouragement is all about.

Encouragement based on self-confidence has produced a world of under-encouraged Christians. Our confidence is too often in our own desires and feelings, both of which are subject to change. When our confidence is shaken, our heart grows quickly discouraged and we’re far less likely to endure the trials set before us.

Help! I’m terrified of evangelism!

If evangelism feels like a scary enterprise, this article is for you. It’s a simple, down-to-earth list of ideas about how we might start talking to other people about Jesus.

Don’t overthink evangelism. You don’t need to come to every interaction with a non-Christian with a checklist of items to include in the conversation. But don’t censor yourself. Talk about the church service you attended on the weekend. Pray for help from God for courage and clarity. Mention something you have been thinking about from Bible study. Thank God for the weather. Let your faith be seen by others, and you will find opportunities to talk about the One who matters most.

Should I Pray Someone Else’s Prayers?

Chris Woznicki writes about using The Book of Common Prayer to help him pray. Coming from a “low church” Baptist background, this wasn’t natural, but he has found it helpful.

You can feel free to adopt the words of biblically-based, gospel-centred, Christ-exalting prayers written by someone else as our own. I would encourage you to find written, historic prayers, like The Litany that help you to articulate the content of your heart as you pray to God. Doing so has been helpful for me and it might be helpful for you too.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called Praying “God, Be With Us.” 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 (2022-04-29)

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

Friendship and Belonging in Middle Age

Here’s an article by Alan Noble on some of the reasons it’s hard for people in middle age to make and sustain friendships. And yet, we need friends!

The way our lives are set up is broken. The structures, habits, practices, and values. Our city planning, markets, careers, laws, and entertainment—all have been designed with a false idea of what a human being is. Collectively we assume that to be a human is to belong only and ever to yourself. Thus, friendships can be a nice perk of a successful life, but friends can’t demand anything of you that you don’t choose to give. At any point, if a friendship is holding you back or bringing you down, you can bail. Because the only person you owe happiness to is yourself.

Jesus, Friend of Sinners

One of the main accusations that Jesus faced was that he hung out with sinners too much. What are the implications of this for our churches today?

Some Christian circles assume that if a pastor or church is drawing in sinners, they must be compromising the message of the Bible. Maybe they’re seeker-sensitive, watering down the more offensive doctrines of Christianity. On the flip side, pastors who have a reputation for castigating sinners, faithfully exposing the sins of society, must be doing something right. But the truth is, neither approach captures the complexity of Christ’s gospel ministry. Jesus had the ability to attract notorious sinners with the offer of grace without ever compromising truth. It wasn’t the outwardly sinful who were typically put off by Jesus, but the sanctimonious! Ministries that repel sinners through so-called boldness can be just as unfaithful as those that attract them through compromise. 

Go to Funerals

I love the way this article talks about a church body attending funerals. The author encourages everyone who is able to go—especially children—because a church is a family.

The Christian community can be distinct by going to funerals of everyone in your church. At funerals, we display to the world what the body of Christ is like. At funerals, we display what commitment looks like in a covenant body. When we take our membership vows, we are not joining a hobby or a club. We join a body. A body needs all its members—especially at a funeral.


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 (6/4/2021)

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

What Does Ongoing Sin Say About Me?

The title of this article is a common question for Christians. Scott Hubbard gives us some helpful categories to think through our relationship with ongoing sin.

Some of the clearest displays of our loves and hates appear on the battlefield. While some fight their sin half expecting and (if truth be told) half hoping to lose, others learn to fight like their souls are at stake — like Jesus spoke seriously, even if not literally, when he talked about cutting off hands and tearing out eyes (Matthew 5:29–30).

Going Beyond Clouds That Hide the View

Sylvia Schroeder writes a beautiful meditation on waiting, God’s timing, and beholding his glory.

When clouds draw shadows dark and foreboding, when mist dims His splendor, we can take heart because we know the certainty. We have seen His glory, and nothing less can satisfy.

This Week’s Free eBook: ‘Evangelism as Exiles’

It looks like this deal at The Gospel Coalition is only good through June 6. But hey, free book!

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called How to Find Hope When Hope Has Perished. 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 (2/5/2021)

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

What Do You Mean by ‘Unity’?

I appreciated this article by Quina Aragon about what unity is and is not, according to the Bible.

It’s important for us to keep in mind the biblical vision, especially when we hear hollow unity calls that fail to also call us to repent of damage done to others. If we really want true and virtuous unity among God’s people, that both reflects him and also expresses the unity his Son secured on the cross, then we must examine ourselves. Are we insisting on our own way or dismissing others’ pain (Phil. 2:3–4; Luke 10:25–37)? Then we must repent, resolving anew to love our neighbor as ourselves.

The Lost We Love the Most

If we’ve already shared the gospel, and if there’s been no response, how do we continue to love our friends and family?

But what if evangelism is about more (not less) than sharing the content of the gospel? What if people are more complex and unpredictable than we may think? And what if the situation with our spouse, friend, child, parent, or neighbor is more dynamic than Satan would have us believe? In the face of an apparent stalemate, it’s refreshing and encouraging to remind ourselves of three dynamic realities in any relationship with a lost loved one.

Do Not Despise the Gentle Nudge

While there are exceptions, we often need many small nudges instead of large shoves in order to stay on a faithful path with God.

These little adjustments to our spiritual lives, while seemingly small and insignificant by themselves, make all the difference in avoiding spiritual danger and experiencing intimacy with God.


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 (2/14/2020)

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

A New Year’s Resolution: Don’t Try to Be With It

At the end of 2019, Kevin DeYoung wrote an article about the trivial nature of so much of the media we consume. Without being a scold, he urges us toward contentment in not keeping up with every last thing.

It can be scary to detach, even a little bit, from the screams of social media, Netflix, and cable news. But let’s not mistake knowledge for wisdom, or a multimedia platform for kingdom usefulness. There is no way to possibly stay with it, so why bother? Look out the window. Put down the phone. Lose touch with pop culture and reconnect with God. If you get to the end of 2020 and can’t recall any of the big style stories from CNN, don’t fret: in a few minutes no one else with either. 

The One Life Dream That Makes a Girl Blush

Here’s a wonderful article on the high calling of marriage and motherhood and how sad it is when young women feel ashamed to desire such a calling.

I wish we loved the strength it takes for a woman to become a wife and a mother. We marvel at her physical strength when she births a child. But we forget what invisible strength she shows when she lays down her life for her home every day after that.  

5 Necessities for Engaging Skeptics with the Gospel

This article is geared slightly toward preachers, but there is a lot here for the rest of us to learn as well. How can we engage skeptics with the gospel?

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called The Bible is for Everyone. 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 (11/1/2019)

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

When Joy Feels Far Away

Over at Desiring God, Scott Hubbard uses Psalm 40 to discuss those times when darkness settles in. He gives solid, helpful encouragement from King David’s experience.

David’s confidence in the coming joy does not mean his darkness was not so deep after all; it means that joy, for those in Christ, is always deeper and surer than the darkness — everlastingly deeper, infinitely surer. You may not feel the truth of it right now. But can you, in hope against hope, imagine yourself singing again, laughing again, telling everyone who will listen, “Great is the Lord!”?

The Cross Is Our Stairway to Heaven

Jen Wilkin writes about the common evangelistic tool known as “the bridge.” She observes some small flaws in the basics of the drawing and explains why it is important that God came down (not across).

But Christ is not merely the stairway, he is also the perfect mediator, superior to angels in his descending and ascending. “To which of the angels did God ever say, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet?’” (Heb. 1:13). In the incarnation Christ descended to Earth. The sinless Son condescended to take on human flesh. And having suffered, died, and raised from the dead, he ascended to the right hand of the Father.

Five Questions about Faith and Works

The doctrine of justification by faith is at the heart of the Reformation, and Kevin DeYoung has a good discussion about some of the important facets of the related debate. The article draws on the work of Francis Turretin for helpful answers.

In short, while our good works are often praiseworthy in Scripture—pleasing to God and truly good—they do not win for us our heavenly reward. There is a true and necessary connection between good works and final glorification, but the connection is not one of merit.

5 Myths about the Reformation

Here’s a brief discussion of five myths that persist about the Protestant Reformation.


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 (8/16/2019)

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

The Commuter Bible Podcast

If you’re looking to spend more time in the Bible, consider the Commuter Bible podcast, created by John Ross. Each episode is around 30 minutes long, perfect for a commute, a workout, or chores around the house or office. Released on weekdays (and excluding official U.S. holidays), over the course of a year you’ll listen to the entire Bible (CSB translation).

Overcoming the Fear of Evangelism

Juan Sanchez knows that evangelism is easy for some and difficult for many. He takes Jesus’s promises in the Great Commission (that he is with us and he is sovereign) and helpfully traces out the implications for different situations that call for us to share the gospel.

You see, because Jesus is with us and because He is sovereign over all things (including salvation), we can share the gospel courageously and confidently. Christ will build His church, and we need not fear what man may do to us.

Is It True That God “Loves the Sinner but Hates the Sin”?

In this brief video, Stephen Nichols looks at the biblical evidence for this common phrase. He concludes that we don’t do sinners any favors by trying to downplay the wrath of God.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called Grandparents, We Need 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.