Links for the Weekend (2022-04-15)

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

Only One Empty Tomb

Clarissa Moll wrote a powerful article about celebrating Easter in the light of her husband’s death. How do we celebrate Jesus’s empty tomb while we grieve all those tombs that are still full?

I confess I am impatient. I don’t want just an empty tomb 2,000 years ago. I want resurrection and a fully realized new creation now. Jesus’s victory over sin, death, and the Devil has brought me new life; but I want the hands on God’s clock to spring ahead. The empty tomb has whet my appetite. That’s what firstfruits do. Every day since my husband died, I have prayed, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.” But, so far, the answer is a dramatic “not yet.” So far, only one tomb is empty.

The Risen Christ Knows Us By Name

Here’s a short meditation on Jesus’s words to Mary after his resurrection.

It’s very important for us to realize that Jesus’s first words out of the tomb aren’t a speech or public discourse in front of the masses. Instead, his first words are a personal conversation with a friend. That’s because he’s a personal Savior and that doesn’t change after the resurrection. Even now as the crowned King—who conquered death itself and thus rules over all the living—he’s still intimately interested in you and me.

You Don’t Have to Suffer Alone

Vaneetha Risner wrote about the way her church stood by her when her husband left.

In those long, hard days, I also heard truth from friends and people in my small group who individually encouraged me, prayed with me, and wept with me as they pointed me to Jesus. It was through their faithfulness that I experienced firsthand the church as the body of Christ, redeemed people who love, serve, and sacrifice for each other. Their love came in many forms — providing for our practical needs, sharing testimonies of how God had met them in their own grief, and reminding me of truth when I was tempted to doubt.


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 (2/11/2022)

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

Burial is Hopeful

What does a hope in resurrection look like for our dead bodies? Here’s a very hopeful answer!

When we take a departed friend and carefully prepare their body, we say that this is them, even though they are briefly not inhabiting it. We stand against the lie that our bodies are sacks of meat that we carry around while our minds are what matter—we say that these bodies are us, for all soul and body can be parted for a time.

An Open Letter to a Distressed Sufferer

Here’s a letter from a CCEF counselor to a friend who is in the midst of great suffering. Perhaps you or a friend might also be helped by the way he points to Jesus.

Dear friend, I have no definitive answer for why God has permitted this particular tsunami to flood your life. But while we can’t penetrate the mysteries of suffering, we can be sure of this: our gracious and strong Lifeguard will not let us be swept away. Whether we are flailing about in our panic or nearly comatose with grief, he holds us fast next to his heart and swims with us toward safety. Our suffering as believers is never the end of the story even when it looms large in our eyes—sometimes as large as death itself.

All This Wasted Worry

Glenna Marshall has a great word for you if you tend to stay awake at night worrying.

I went to bed that night with a personal imperative which I now quote to myself nearly every night when I turn out the light: Go to sleep, for God is awake and he loves you very much. Sometimes the things we worry over are real and serious realities. Kids get sick. Friends die. Bodies break. Finances crumble. Careers slip away. Relationships end. Cars crash. Storms rage. We can’t ignore the difficult things that we face in this life, and we don’t have to pretend to be impervious to the hurts and dangers of life on a broken, fallen planet. And yet, we also don’t have to pretend that we’re somehow preventing all the imagined bad things from happening by lying awake hatching together a rescue plan. The Rescuer has already come. We can trust him with today and tonight because he has promised us an eternity of peace. We can trust him with forever.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called The Winsome Christian. If you haven’t already seen it, check it out!


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

Links for the Weekend (4/16/2021)

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

The Day After Easter

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

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

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

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

How Does Chronic Pain Glorify God?

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

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


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

Links for the Weekend (4/2/2021)

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

What Is the Historical Evidence that Jesus Rose from the Dead?

Justin Taylor helpfully points us toward an article which argues for the historical credibility of the claim of Jesus’s resurrection. There are also two videos linked in Justin’s post made by apologists arguing for the resurrection.

Rejoice Together, Suffer Together, Repeat

Christians are to rejoice with each other and weep with each other. Anne Kerhoulas writes about what it means that these commands come in the context of writing about worship. Quite an insight!

Rejoicing is an act of worship. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil 4:4). It is always about God because every good and perfect thing comes from Him (James 1:17), and we get to praise Him for what He has done. When my friend got engaged I didn’t tell her good job for her accomplishment. No, we celebrated what God had done and was doing.

Let Go of Lies About Heaven: Eight Myths Many Believe

Years ago, Randy Alcorn wrote a big book about heaven. In this article, he points out eight common myths about heaven. He directs our attention to the Bible to examine what God says about the future.

In an age when people try to make doctrines more appealing by ignoring or twisting biblical truth, here’s the irony—the true biblical doctrine of Heaven is far more attractive than the dull, inhuman view of the afterlife that has long prevailed in evangelicalism.


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 Surprising Transformation of the Disciples of Jesus

Jesus’ disciples were not at their best at the end of his life. They were fearful, uneasy, and uncertain about the future.

And yet, at the end of the Gospels, these same men were ready to take on the world. How can we explain this difference?

The Disciples Before

For most of the last chapter of Luke, the disciples were not exactly full of faith.

When the women who visited the tomb told the apostles what they had seen, the men did not believe them—it sounded like an “idle tale” (Luke 24:11). Peter was curious, but he didn’t have much company when searched out the evidence (Luke 24:12, John 20:8).

The two disciples on the road to Emmaeus were intrigued by the women’s report (Luke 24:22), but they had lost hope in Jesus as the Redeemer of Israel (Luke 24:21). His death was unexpected and disheartening.

When Jesus appeared to his disciples, they thought he was a spirit (Luke 24:37). They were full of fears and doubts (Luke 24:38). Even after Jesus showed them his hands and feet and invited them to touch his wounds, they weren’t convinced it was him (Luke 24:41).

The Disciples After

The end of Luke 24 stands in stark contrast to its beginning.

The disciples witnessed Jesus’ ascension, worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy (Luke 24:51–52). They were continually in the temple praising God (Luke 24:53).

The fact that the disciples returned to Jerusalem with great joy is itself an act of faith. In Luke, Jesus spent the first part of his ministry teaching and healing in Galilee, but then “he set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).

Things unraveled quickly after Jesus and his companions arrived in Jerusalem for Passover. Jesus was betrayed, arrested, tried, and killed. The religious and governmental leaders who were responsible were largely still present in Jerusalem on Easter Sunday; this would have made the city a terrifying place for Jesus’ followers.

Yet Jerusalem was to be the launching place for the proclamation of the gospel to all the nations (Luke 24:47). Jesus told his disciples to stay in the city until they received power for this mission (Luke 24:49). The fact that they faced staying in a dangerous place with “great joy” shows the magnitude of their transformation.

So, what caused the change?

The Elements of Change

As we observe the text of Luke 24, we notice three ingredients that kindled the disciples’ growth.

The Word of God

Jesus’ followers did not understand the Scriptures. Consequently, they did not grasp who he was nor did they expect him to suffer, die, and rise.

At the tomb, the angels reminded the women that Jesus had told them that he “must” die and rise (Luke 24:6–8).

Jesus told the Emmaeus-bound disciples that they were foolish and slow to believe what the prophets had spoken (Luke 24:25). He explained that it was “necessary” for the Christ to die and then enter glory (Luke 24:26). He then taught them about himself through all the Scriptures (Luke 24:27).

When Jesus appeared to the disciples, he reminded them that everything in the Law, Prophets, and Psalms “must” be fulfilled (Luke 24:44). He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45).

God’s word is the central corrective element in this passage. Jesus, the angels, and Luke all point to the Scriptures for a proper understanding about the Messiah. That understanding brought transformation.

Jesus

The disciples heard rumors of Jesus’ resurrection, but they were changed when they finally saw him.

After the two traveling disciples recognized Jesus at a meal, they felt conviction like heartburn when they reflected on his Scripture lesson for them (Luke 24:32). They returned to the eleven with the ground-breaking news (Luke 24:33), and when they arrived, the others were convinced of the resurrection because Jesus had also appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34).

When Jesus “stood among” the disciples, they weren’t convinced it was him (Luke 24:36–37). But Jesus invited them to touch and see. He showed them his hands and feet. He ate with them (Luke 24:39–43). Thus convincing the disciples that he was not a spirit and that he was, in fact, Jesus, he gave them supernatural understanding of the Scriptures (Luke 24:45).

Finally, the disciples went with Jesus to Bethany for his ascension (Luke 24:50). He blessed them as they watched him depart (Luke 24:51).

The disciples had experienced a traumatic stretch of days. At the center of their disappointment was the death of their leader and their loss of hope. Spending time with and learning from Jesus between his resurrection and ascension had a powerful effect.

A Mission and a Promise

When Jesus visited the disciples, he didn’t only give them instruction and fellowship, he gave them a purpose for the future.

When explaining the Scriptures, Jesus said “it is written” that “repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). And the disciples were not just messengers but “witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:48).

Jesus gave the disciples a promise to accompany their mission.

And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high. (Luke 24:49)

The disciples had a great task in front of them, but there was a mighty helper on the way.

Main Point and Application

Luke had at least one main point in writing the last chapter of his Gospel: An encounter with the resurrected Jesus will transform disciples and prepare them for a joyful mission.

We can start to apply this powerful truth by praying. Let’s pray for these encounters—for ourselves and others.

And as you brainstorm ways to bring yourself and your neighbors into contact with the risen Christ, remember that he is powerfully present in the Bible and with his people.

Post credit | Picture credit

Links for the Weekend (4/17/2020)

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

Christ is Risen — Now What?

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

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

Fighting Loneliness in the Coronavirus Outbreak

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

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

I Didn’t Know I Loved You Like This

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

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


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

Links for the Weekend (8/2/2019)

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

Christianity’s Best-Kept Secret

How’s that for a title? Tim Savage contends that while Christians think a lot about Christ in the past (forgiven sins) and the future (the coming of heaven), we don’t think enough about Christ in the present. This article helps to explain the wonderful phrase “Christ in you.”

As Christians, we’re organically linked to Christ at the deepest level. The apostle Paul makes the point repeatedly in a simple but easily overlooked prepositional phrase. No less than 164 times, Paul refers to Christians as people “in Christ” or “in him” or “in God” or “in the Lord.” It’s a tantalizing phrase, with thrilling implications for the lives of Christians.

4 Promises to Christians about the Resurrected Body

What does the Bible say about our future resurrected bodies? Colin Smith takes us on a tour of important Scriptural truths.

The new earth will be better than the earth we have now. The resurrection body will be better than the body you have now. And you will have forever to savor the pleasures that God has in store for you.

The Gospel in Psalms

Jesus told us in Luke 24 that all Scripture pointed to him. This is easier to see in some parts of the Bible than others. In this post, Bruce Ware and George Robertson show us how to read Psalms with Jesus always in mind.

Reading the Psalms mindful of Jesus is not a clever way to read this book of the Bible, nor is it one way to do so among others. It is the way. A gospel-lens to reading the Psalms is how Jesus himself teaches us to read them. As you read this portion of God’s Word, make these prayers to God your own, and consider the ways these Psalms are good news to us—expressing the full range of our emotions, and ultimately bringing our minds to rest on the finished work of Christ on behalf of sinners.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called How to Resist Sins of Conformity. 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. 

King David on the Resurrection

There’s a moment at the end of the Gospel of Luke that surprises me every time I read it.

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:44–47)

The resurrected Jesus speaks with his disciples and tells them that he fulfilled all that was written about him in the entire Old Testament. He says it is written that the Messiah should die and be raised, and that the gospel would be preached to the whole world.

Did you catch that? Jesus said his resurrection was predicted in the Old Testament. So…where was that again?

Peter’s Sermon

Many people rightly point to Psalm 22 or Isaiah 53 as places to turn for Old Testament teaching on resurrection. But today we’ll examine how the apostle Peter answered this question.

Peter began his Pentecost sermon by explaining that the early Christians had received the Holy Spirit. He then talks about Jesus—his arrest, death, and resurrection. In explaining that “it was not possible for [Jesus] to be held by [death],” Peter does a strange thing. He quotes David in Psalm 16:8–11.

For David says concerning him,
‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ (Acts 2:25–28)

Then Peter interprets for us.

Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. (Acts 2:29–31)

Whoa.

Peter says that David, believing God’s long-term promise, knew that the Messiah could not be abandoned in death. He would not decay in the tomb.

As with Jesus, so with Us

Knowing that David was speaking about the Messiah in Psalm 16, what can we now learn from that text?

Because Psalm 16 is written in the first person, we should read David’s words—at least in part—as speaking prophetically not just about Christ but for Christ. After expressing confidence in the resurrection from the dead (v.10), we read this.

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

Though we may be eager to apply these verses to ourselves, let’s slow down.

Jesus had enormous, painful, tortuous work to accomplish. He bore a weight of sin we cannot imagine, and in his death on the cross he suffered an agony of soul far beyond the bodily pain he endured. His eternal Father turned away, and the Son felt the wrath of God against sin. On the cross there was no presence of the Father, no joy, no pleasures.

But the resurrection (and ascension) turned this story around. Jesus was vindicated by his resurrection and was welcomed back into perfect communion with his Father. In place of the wrath, loneliness, and fury he felt in his crucifixion, Jesus would now have “pleasures forevermore.”

These delights await us too. We can gain nothing greater in the new heavens and earth than God himself and the full joy that comes from his presence. But that fellowship was bought for us at a great cost. The promise is first for Jesus—who died for us but over whom death could never be a victor. And then it’s for us, because we follow our elder brother in his resurrection.


This article originally appeared here.

Picture credit