Links for the Weekend (2022-06-03)

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

Our Hope in the Ascension

Protestant Christians don’t always do a great job understanding the ascension of Jesus. Here is an article that explains why the ascension should give us great hope.

More important than history, of course, is the Bible. And here we find that Christ’s ascension is more prominent in Scripture than many realize. Luke describes the Ascension in the most detail, first in his Gospel and then in Acts. Peter’s Pentecost sermon is, in part, about the Ascension and enthronement of Christ. Likewise, John’s Gospel is full of references to the Ascension of the Son of Man and the importance of Jesus returning to the Father.

Submit Your Felt Reality to God

What we think and feel does not always match reality, and it takes some humility (and perspective) to realize this. I appreciated the language and categories this article gave me.

Reality and felt reality aren’t the same. Sometimes they align — what I think and feel fits with what is actually happening. Other times, my felt reality is out of accord with reality. In such cases, I might be believing lies, or framing reality wrongly, or overreacting. My perspective might be distorted by my emotions or my sinful desires or my own limitations.

Building Deep Community in a Lonely World

Here’s a podcast episode in which Collin Hansen interviews Jennie Allen about her book on building community. It’s hard to make and keep friends, and this conversation was helpful on the topic.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called The Christian Life is a Waiting Life. 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 (1/7/2022)

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

The Neglected Ministry of Specific Encouragement

I’ve never heard of anyone who has been encouraged too much. Here’s a short, practical article on how to give and receive encouragement.

Herein lies the primary difference between worldly compliments and biblical encouragement. Worldly compliments exalt self; biblical encouragement exalts God. When someone receives biblical encouragement, she walks away praising and thanking God—not praising and inflating self.

Say Hi to the Old Lady on the Porch

Here’s a delightful story about an unlikely friendship in Memphis between two women who didn’t have many other people in their lives.

So I waved back, because if a cute old lady waves at you and you don’t wave back, you might be the biggest jerk ever to exist. But day after day, wave after wave, it began to feel weird to not stop and say hello. How many times can you wave and not actually speak without it getting awkward? And I was curious about her. Who was this old woman who sat on this porch in her rocking chair, her hands folded nicely over her stomach as she rocked, waved, rocked, waved? So one day, I stopped my bike and said hello.

A Sonnet for Epiphany

Epiphany is January 6 on the church calendar, and Christian poet Malcolm Guite wrote a poem for the occasion. In the winter it feels like we all could use a little more poetry in our lives.


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 (12/10/2021)

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

How Mary’s Song Bridges The Old and New Testament

We may not often think of how the Old Testament shaped the thoughts and meditations of the characters in the New Testament. Katy Morgan looks at Mary’s Song as an example of someone rejoicing in what God has been doing for generations.

Once you start seeing it, you can’t stop: the writers of the New Testament, especially in the Gospels, have a worldview shaped by the Old Testament. They constantly refer to the history of God’s people; their whole understanding of God comes from there. People around Jesus made sense of him by referring back to what God had always been like and what he had always promised.

Advent Meditation: Sigh No More

Brett McCracken reflects on the theme of hope in Isaiah 35.

Maybe one day—when “Emmanuel” is our everyday ex­perience (hallelujah!)—we’ll look back on this life of lonely exile and feel gratitude for how the sighs and sorrows made us hungrier for the everlasting feast, and the fullness of joy, that will be ours forever.

A Great Way To Make Friends

At a time when making new friends can be difficult, Seth Lewis encourages us to focus first on being a good friend to others.

Finding friends can be hard. But if you spend your time and energy loving and serving the people around you whenever you can, however you can, with whatever you have to give, then eventually you might be surprised to see that you’ve got real, deep friendships growing all around you. So many people are looking for friends. If you’re friendly, then they are looking for you. This Christmas, why not take the opportunity to reach out to someone? 


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 (10/1/2021)

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

I Searched for the Key to Discipleship

Is the key to discipleship found in books? In experiences? Programs? When Melissa Edgington started asking these questions, she realized she was approaching discipleship all wrong.

Over time, it became painfully clear to me that the answer to the question of discipleship isn’t as easy as finding the right program. This is something that I learned from our church members by watching them live it out: discipleship isn’t nice, crisp books or carefully planned mission trips. It’s something altogether more intimate, more demanding, and more sacrificial. And once I realized that the people around me were showing me how discipleship works, I started to see it everywhere.

5 simple ways to be a better friend

Most of us long to have good friends, but we may give much less thought to how to be a good friend to others. Luke Finley writes about how to be a better friend.

It’s so easy to make our friendships all about us: our thoughts, our problems, our lives. But a great friend doesn’t primarily use their friends for their own needs, but rather are more interested in the other person than themselves. They ask good questions and are curious about the answers, whether it’s what their friend enjoys about their job, what they’d like to accomplish in the future, or what key moments have shaped their lives. They ask these questions not because they have to, but because they care about the other person and want to get to know them better, even after years of friendship. 

3 Things Overwhelmed Students Need

You likely have a student in your life (or at your church!). Chances are, if you ask them how they’re doing, the word “busy” will come up. David Murray writes about what we can do to help students like this find rest.

However, such a restless, nonstop lifestyle and culture is one of the main causes of the soaring anxiety levels among teens. The chronic stress and internal inflammation that result are extremely damaging to the bodies and minds of our teens. One of the best things we can do for them, therefore, is to help them rest. This isn’t going to be easy, but it’s absolutely essential. This rest can be encouraged in three main areas: sleep, Sabbath, and relaxation.

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 (8/27/2021)

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

We Won’t Perfectly Practice What We Preach

Jen Wilkin writes in Christianity Today about being convicted by her own words (quoted back to her) on Instagram. I appreciated what she shares about sanctification and growth as a Christian.

Sanctification is not a swipe but a slog. It rarely looks like an immediate ceasing of a particular sin. Instead, we become slower to step into the familiar traps and quicker to confess when we do. Slower to repeat, quicker to repent. This becomes a mantra of hope. Our hatred of sin is learned across a lifetime.

We Agree, Right?

Holly Mackle discovered she was presuming that her conversation partners agreed with her unspoken opinions when they had other characteristics in common. In her, this led to condescension when there was not agreement. She proposes a wonderful remedy: curiosity.

Considering the opinions or beliefs of others can be hard. And it takes a supernatural, Holy Spirit level of humility and grace to grant another the space to disagree. It can be an exhausting exercise to continually remind myself to elevate others over my own opinions, plans, or preferences. But I’ve found that expecting others to agree with me all the time can quickly shade the way I approach God, luring me to attempt to poach on his lordship. This habit of presuming I’m in the right and that others will agree is a slippery slope to making God in my own image.

9 Things You Should Know About the Taliban

Sadly, the Taliban are back in the news because of their return to power in Afghanistan. If you’re unfamiliar with this group, here is a helpful explainer from Joe Carter.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called Restore Us to Yourself That We May Be Restored. If you haven’t already seen it, check it out!

Thanks to Leeanne E 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 (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 (11/13/2020)

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

No Blank Slate Christianity

Jared Wilson has written a great encouragement not to believe a “half-gospel.” Too many people, he says, know about the forgiveness of sins but forget (or do not know) about the imputed righteousness of Christ.

The doctrine of imputation gives the Christian the right kind of confidence. Because your faith is counted as righteousness (Rom. 4:5), you don’t have to “pay back” what Christ purchased for me (as if you ever could anyway!). You don’t have to earn credit with God. He has freely given Jesus’ sinless perfection to you as if it was your own. Now you can obey God freely and with joy, knowing you’ve been set free from the condemnation of the law. This is hugely confidence-building, as it destroys any pride we might have in our own obedience and strengthens our reliance on Christ’s obedience on our behalf.

How to Read the News Wisely

Scott Slayton has some good advice about how Christians can consume the news.

We could spend all day reviewing the glories that are coming to those who are in Christ and we need to look at the daily news in light of these overwhelming realities. This doesn’t mean that healthcare, abortion, social justice, and civil liberties don’t matter, instead, it reframes how we think about these issues. If we don’t get justice in this world, we know that ultimate justice is coming. If our opportunities for a comfortable retirement are declining, we remember that we look forward to something much better than retirement. Our great future hope changes the way that we look at everything.

Podcast: Wisdom Gained by Walking Together

Here’s an episode of the podcast from the PCA’s Women’s Ministry about friendship and mentoring relationships. For those feeling the weight of isolation and strained relationships this year, this may be an encouraging help.


Thanks to Maggie A for her help in gathering 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 (9/25/2020)

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

Be Careful What You Put Your Hope in, Including Politics

Randy Alcorn writes about hope and politics, and he shares an extended quote from Paul Tripp. Good food for thought, especially over the next six weeks.

God is the sovereign King, and He alone is the hope of this nation and every other one. Even if America crumbles (which could happen under any presidential candidate, or be delayed to sometime in the future), God is the only hope of each person and each family. He has been that all along, but perhaps this time it will be just a little more obvious.

The Siblinghood of the Saints

Being part of God’s family means not only that we can call God “Father” but also that we call each other “brother” and “sister.” Allyson Todd has some wise words about how opposite-sex relationships should look different in the church than in the world.

Surely we all must act with wisdom according to conscience in our relationships with the opposite sex. We ought to have nuance and balance. If we avoid one another, we give in to fear and distrust. If we exploit one another, we give in to selfishness and abuse. If we love one another as Jesus loved us, we demonstrate the magnificent gift of the family of God, and by this, we declare the reason for our love: it is by God alone. 

When God Says No to Your Earnest Prayers

I don’t know about you, but I need good, solid reminders about unanswered prayer on a regular basis. Here is a helpful article from Garrett Kell.

Jesus wants us to know that our heavenly Father only gives us good things (Ps. 84:11). He never gives us snakes when we ask for fish, or stones when we ask for bread. He may not give us bread or fish, but he will never withhold good from us. As John Piper once said, “[God] gives us what we ask for, or something better (not necessarily easier), if we trust him.”

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called What Do We Want for Our Friends? 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 Do We Want for Our Friends?

It is a sad fact of life that friends move away. How do you pray for such a friend? What do you want for them?

Perhaps you pray for their health, their family, or their church. You surely pray for specific requests they share.

And while these petitions are wonderful, the apostle Paul would like to add to our list.

Paul and the Thessalonians

Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians as an evangelist and pastor. But the warm nature of the letter shows that he also wrote to these people as friends.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:17–3:13, I notice at least five things Paul earnestly wanted for his friends.

Paul wanted to see them face-to-face

Paul was driven out of Thessalonica after a short period of ministry (Acts 17:1–10). He described it as being “torn away” from them, so great was his pain (1 Thess 2:17).

Though I’m sure Paul was grateful to send written communication, he longed to be with his friends in person. (See 1 Thess 2:17–18, 3:6, 3:10, and 3:11.) In fact, this is one of the dominant themes of the letter: Paul loved the Thessalonians, missed them, and wanted to see them!

The same is true for us. We can thank God for modern technology that lets us keep in touch with our distant friends while still longing and planning to see them in the flesh.

Paul wanted to strengthen and encourage them

Paul couldn’t stand the separation from the Thessalonians (1 Thess 3:1) so he sent Timothy to visit. Paul was willing to give up the help and fellowship of his dear friend so he could send a personal word to this church.

Timothy was sent, in part, to “strengthen and encourage” them in their faith (1 Thess 3:2, NASB). The Thessalonians were disheartened because they heard of Paul’s suffering (1 Thess 3:3–4). Paul wanted them to know this was an expected part of following Jesus (1 Thess 3:3).

Paul was not just acting as an apostle. This is a vital role friends play in each other’s lives. We remind each other of what is true, because we easily forget. We need our friends to point us back to God, to rehearse the good news of the gospel for us, to recall the hope we have for the future because of Jesus.

Paul wanted to hear about their faith

Paul sent Timothy to Thessalonica for at least two purposes. In addition to encouraging this church, Paul wanted Timothy to bring back a report about their faith (1 Thess 3:5).

Paul was concerned that the disturbance the Thessalonians felt regarding Paul’s afflictions might tempt them to turn from the faith (1 Thess 3:5). This was no idle curiosity for Paul—he loved his friends so much that their standing with God was vital to him.

But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you—for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. (1 Thess 3:6–8)

How often do we pray this simple prayer for our friends? Lord, strengthen them to stand firm.

Paul wanted to minister to them

As Paul thanked God for the joy the Thessalonians gave him, he prayed “most earnestly” that he could see them face to face. One reason he wanted to see them was so he could “supply what [was] lacking in [their] faith” (1 Thess 3:10).

Because of the way Paul had to leave Thessalonica (Acts 17:10), he likely had not finished the initial training and instruction he had planned for these young disciples. While we are not apostles, we do have important roles to play in ministering to each other within the body of Christ. God often calls us to be bearers of grace to one another.

Paul wanted them to be ready to meet Jesus

Paul ended this section of his letter with a benediction.

Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. (1 Thess 3:11–13)

Paul has Jesus’s return in view throughout this letter. Here he holds up Jesus as the judge. He wants them to be blameless, and he knows that abounding in love is the way to get there.

Praying for Our Friends

This is a convicting passage for me. I don’t always have my friends’ growth and love in mind as I pray. I’m not often looking for opportunities to encourage and minister to them.

As I see my failings as a friend, I am reminded of Jesus, the Friend of sinners. He encourages, strengthens, and ministers to his people. Even better, he wants to be with us forever, and his sacrifice secures our hope.

As those who are friends of Jesus, by his grace, let’s learn to be better friends to each other. Then we can say, with Paul, that we really live if our friends are standing firm in the Lord.

Photo credit