Links for the Weekend (12/3/2021)

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

What We Pray in the Dark

Glenna Marshall suffers from some painful ailments, and I found this account of her seeking the Lord in the midst of pain quite moving. Perhaps it will help you in your pain or in the ways you can love someone who hurts like this.

Pain tells me God doesn’t love me, but Scripture tells me God has demonstrated love in sending Jesus to die in my place. The voice we must listen to is the one that speaks truth—even when we just can’t quite believe in weak moments of pain and doubt. Sometimes all we can pray in the dark is “Lord, I believe—help my unbelief!” And He does. Somehow.

Gentleness Is A Christian Virtue

Those that follow Jesus should be gentle and kind. Craig Thompson explains why this is so necessary in modern times.

There is no room among Christ’s followers for meanness. In a dark world the light of Christ must shine through with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. Christians must be willing to be wronged, if being wronged enables the gospel of Christ to go forward and the glory of Christ to shine brighter to a lost world.

Ear of the Beholder

This article is Aarik Danielsen’s review/recommendation of Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God. That album is a worthy addition to your Advent playlist.

Plainspoken yet profound, these songs don’t stop at delivering sound, storied theology. They reject the whiplash rhythms of the unexamined season. They enter a tug-of-war waged between true hope and the shiny objects which promise to sate our hopes, yet only defer them for another day. Peterson’s songs beckon us to live by a truer, gentler meter and observe the real rhythms of Christmas: pausing, recounting, beholding, worshipping.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article by Erica Goehring called While We Wait: Advent with Children. 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. 

Solid Bible Promises for Times of Suffering

Creation groans, and we echo that same mournful tune.

We feel the Curse deep inside. We are broken people in a broken world, and no one avoids some measure of suffering. In my article on Lamentations 4, we saw the author arrive at the end of his lament with nothing but a promise of God. We too, at times, may feel like everything is stripped away. Our anguish seems like the most tangible element of life.

But we also have the promises of God! These are good gifts meant to sustain us and stoke our hope for the future.

Which Promises?

The Bible is stuffed with promises. However, we can’t claim every promise we find.

For example, some Bible promises are conditional. Consider Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” We cannot claim that God will meet our every desire unless we are delighting in the Lord.

Further, God made some promises to specific people at specific times (see Joshua 6:2). He made other promises to Israel, and we need to think carefully about whether they carry over to the church and/or individual Christians.

Where does this leave us? We still have many Bible promises that are meant for us. This article focuses on those which are helpful in the midst of suffering.

Promises for Sufferers

I’ve divided these promises into five categories. Learning, digesting, and even memorizing these verses will not eliminate pain or make suffering somehow desirable. But they will help us to trust in the Lord in dark times and to fix our eyes on Jesus.

God is with you

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38–39)

Suffering is often extremely personal and therefore isolating. In those times, we can treasure God’s presence with us. He is near to those in anguish, and he has promised never to leave or forsake his children. Nothing at all—not even this present suffering—will be able to separate us from God’s love for us in Christ.

God will comfort and rescue you

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3–4)

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5:10)

Because God will not abandon us, and because he loves us, he will comfort us in the midst of turmoil and eventually pull us out. Though pain and suffering seem unending, for the children of God, they are not. God will restore and strengthen us, whether on this side of glory or the other.

God will use your suffering for your good

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16–18)

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3–5)

God is in the business of turning bad things to good. Affliction prepares us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, and our sufferings produce endurance, character, and hope. Our sufferings in themselves are not good, but God brings good out of them.

Everything will be made new

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:51–53)

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3–4)

Our groaning bodies will put on immortality. Our new dwelling will be with God himself on a new earth. The mourning and crying and pain we experience now will then only be known as “former things.”

We will be forever with the Lord

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:17–18)

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” (Revelation 21:3)

The promises of a glorified body and a curse-free earth would be nothing without God’s eternal presence. The suffering we experience will be a distant, faint memory because we will live face-to-face forever with our Creator and Redeemer.

(Yes, I have listed Rev 21:3 twice. But it’s jaw-dropping, and we all probably need it twice.)

All By Grace

These promises are ours. But they are ours by grace. Our works deserve God’s wrath, not his blessing. These promises are given to us because we are the children of God, united to Jesus, sealed by the Holy Spirit.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Rom 8:31–32)

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Links for the Weekend (5/28/2021)

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

Do the Old Testament Promises of Prosperity Apply to God’s People Today?

Randy Alcorn writing about money is always worth your time. He tackles the question which serves as the title of his article.

So how can we explain the apparent contradiction between the words and lifestyle of Jesus and the apostles, and the Old Testament prosperity passages? Can God’s people today lay claim to those Old Testament promises of prosperity? The answers to these questions lie in the fundamental differences between the Old and New Covenants.

My Hiding Place

Kristin Couch writes about the way Corrie ten Boom’s testimony affected her in a season of suffering. One cool thing here is the number of years that passed between Kristin hearing of Corrie and when the application was needed.

I can see now, in hindsight, that God designs sufferings, created uniquely for his children. He does not toss hardships at random, like dreadful Christmas gifts from some Great Aunt who bestows the same matching, ill-fitting sweaters to each family member carelessly, with little care. Instead, God gives us our sufferings to fit his good and holy purpose: to grow and form and shape us in likeness to his Son. Our part is to trust and obey and follow our Father, knowing that there is nothing reckless or random in his plan. He is our perfect hiding place; the safest spot to dwell.

Manners for Social Media in Polarized Times

Anyone who spends time interacting with others online (not just on social media) would do well to read this article. Jim Elliff exhorts us to love others online.

Christian friends, we must be careful to watch our heart and our words. Have we adopted the spirit of the age? Most of the time our family and social media friends can get along without our condescending viewpoint. Is all our careless ranting displaying the glory and beauty of Christ? Surely it is time to change.


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 (8/7/2020)

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

Make Your School Decision. Then Trust God.

Glenna Marshall writes about a decision many parents are facing these days: What should we do about school for our children this fall? Some advice from a friend changed the way she was approaching the decision.

While walking through my neighborhood, I chatted on the phone with another mom who was also grappling with her decision. As I voiced my fears of getting it wrong this school year, my friend offered some sage advice. “God isn’t waiting to see if you make the wrong decision,” she told me. “He’s waiting for you to trust him with the decision you make.”

A Surprising Command for Suffering Saints

Michael Abraham reflects on James’s command to count trials as joy by directing our eyes toward Jesus.

Many of us, however, find great joy when our trials are over. James reminds us to find joy in our trials. Life is full of occasions for joy. Engagements are occasions for joy. Weddings are occasions for joy. Births are occasions for joy. You know this. But is sickness an occasion for joy? Are strained relationships occasions for joy? What about loneliness or loss? What about poverty and persecution? All trials are opportunities for joy.

Faithfulness in Forgotten Places

Scott Hubbard writes about “forgotten places”—those parts of our lives where are efforts are not noticed. He calls our attention to God’s providence and presence in the midst of these callings, as well as the reward in the future for faithfulness.

God sometimes does call us to do exceptional things for him: to adopt children, to launch ministries, to plant churches, to move overseas. But the point still holds, because none of us will do anything exceptional unless we have first learned, through ten thousand steps of faithfulness, to be exceptional in the ordinary.


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 (10/18/2019)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out. (Just two links for you this week!)

8 Sins You Commit Whenever You Look at Porn

Pornography is a big problem—both in the world at large and in the church. Perhaps it’s obvious that we commit the sin of lust when we view porn, but Tim Challies suggests there are eight other sins we commit as well.

You commit the sin of sloth. We are called in all of life to “redeem the time,” to understand that we live short little lives and are responsible before God to make the most of every moment (Ephesians 5:16). Sloth is laziness, an unwillingness to use time well, and reflects a willingness to use time for destructive instead of constructive purposes. In that way pornography is slothful, a misuse of time. It is using precious moments, hours, and days to harm others instead of help them, to foster sin instead of kill sin, to backslide instead of grow, to pursue an idol instead of the living God.

J. I. Packer, 89, On Losing Sight But Seeing Christ

Here is an interview with J. I. Packer from back in 2016, shortly after he lost his ability to read. Packer is a faithful, long-term writer and speaker who has influenced many, and it is both sobering and encouraging to hear him talk about his condition and his hope.

Overall, would you say you’re encouraged?
Yes, I don’t see how any Christian under any circumstances can’t be encouraged who focuses on God. I don’t see how any Christian can be discouraged, because God is in charge—God knows what he’s doing, all things work together for good for those are called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28), and our hope is in Christ. Those things don’t change, and those are the things to focus on.

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 (10/4/2019)

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

Your Church Needs You to Sing

At Desiring God, Nick Aufenkamp writes about singing in church. I especially appreciated his teaching on how our singing testifies to God’s faithfulness and exhorts our fellow believers. Yet another way we need each other!

Singing is vital to the edification of the church. And it’s not enough that just a few people sing — Paul is telling you to sing for the benefit of your brothers and sisters. But how does your voice benefit your church — especially if your singing voice sounds like a dog’s howl?

The discipline of listening

When our friends are suffering, they often need our presence much more than a sermon. Sophia Lee has a great piece in World Magazine about the importance of sitting with our friends and listening to them.

I try to practice the grace, humility, and lovingkindness my friend demonstrated that day. It’s not easy, because I have to fight my natural inclinations toward impatience and selfishness and pride. But it’s also easy, because the burden isn’t on me to fix things—often impossible for anyone other than God—but to simply listen.

Finding Joy on the Other Side of Guilt

Here’s a story about the death of a pet ladybug and a lesson about the fallout from sin and the change the gospel brings.

Every day, I encounter opportunities to get it wrong and hurt people through my choices (because sin always hurts both myself and others). And sometimes I can stand there like my daughter, wracked with guilt over what I’ve done, not sure how to make things right. In that moment, Paul’s next words are like a cup of cold water for my soul: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).

Thanks to Maggie A for her help in rounding up links this week.


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

Links for the Weekend (6/14/2019)

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

My Quiet Times Are Anything but Quiet

Perhaps we don’t read and pray as much as we’d like because we’re waiting for a perfect time that never arrives. Rachel Jankovic thinks this is the case, and writes about seeking the Lord in the midst of a noisy life.

When we imagine Bible reading, what we are seeing is something like the life of a scholar. We see uninterrupted focus and commentaries. We see a pastor in his study, where the word is his life’s work. We see someone living at a lake house — no intrusions, complete serenity, perfect coffee. Maybe we see the life of a superwoman, who rises well before dawn because she cares so much more than we ever will be able to. We see calm. We imagine focus. We see heroic diligence.

Simply put, we see the Christian practice of reading the Bible as dependent on a really specialized kind of moment — a moment that seldom (to never) graces our own life.

When Your Friend Is Suffering and Sinking

Sarah Taylor writes a helpful article at The Gospel Coalition about her experience of the pain and suffering caused by cluster headaches. She details the lies she is tempted to believe in the darkest moments, and she relates how her friends have helped her.

Lies especially thrive in the darkness. When I wake up at 2 a.m. with searing pain yet again, the pull to believe lies is strong. It’s hard to believe God is really for me. It’s hard to believe he loves me.

I hear things like: If God really loved you, he’d heal you. Your life was supposed to be better than this. Your children deserve a better mom. Your husband deserves a better wife. You deserve to be normal. No one cares about your pain. This is pointless pain. It would all be over if you’d just drive your car into an oncoming semi. Those are just some of the lies I’m tempted to believe in the dark.

The Good Enough Podcast

Lore Ferguson Wilbert and Andrea Burke host the Good Enough podcast, which I gladly recommend to you. I’ve read and benefited from Lore Ferguson Wilbert’s writing for years now, but the podcast is a new venture for her. It’s aimed at women, but I think everyone will benefit from listening. Here’s the podcast description.

Influencers aplenty, memes a dime a dozen, self-help books lining the shelves of bookstores, and YouTube tutorials for every tip under the sun and it’s still never enough. Why do the messages like “You’re the hero of your story” and “Trust yourself” still lead to anxiety, fear, uncertainty, and despair for most women? Andrea Burke and Lore Ferguson Wilbert are tackling fourteen of the counterfeit gospels American women believe today. We invite a guest each week to talk about beauty trends, diet culture, social media, “clean” living fads, singleness, dating, friendship with guys, and more. We know in Christ we truly are good enough for this never enough world.

I’m guessing that the whole podcast series (which is ongoing) is excellent. I’ve listened to and enjoyed this episode on diet culture.


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 (6/7/2019)

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

Sabbath Rest Is for Busy Moms, Too

Do you ever feel that you don’t have time for a weekly sabbath? That’s how Laura Wifler felt, and until she was challenged by her sister-in-law, she didn’t know what to do about it. This article explains how she realized her faulty reasoning, and how busy mothers can (and need to) find sabbath rest.

That’s because our weekly rest isn’t about tightly kept boundaries, it’s about delighting and finding our joy in the Lord. As we spend our Sundays going to church with our fellow saints, taking time for personal Bible reading and study, or heading outdoors for a prayer walk, we deepen our dependence on Christ. As mothers, we can bring our children alongside us—telling them Bible stories, practicing Scripture memory, or bringing them with us as we visit the sick and needy—to teach them the regular rhythms of a believer and reveal a mother wholly reliant on God, not her own efforts.

The Unknown Stories Behind Three Well-loved Hymns

Sometimes the soil of tragedy produces the most beautiful flowers. This article by Mike Harland highlights three hymns that were written after great personal loss. While the third story here is familiar, I had not heard of the first two.

In all three of these stories, a circumstance of life confronts the child of God. And, in all three, God’s grace enables his child to trust the heart of the Father.

Life will confront us too. The songs we sing in the darkest of midnight will be the very songs that show the world the unwavering faithfulness of our Father who loves us so much.

The darker it gets, the more we should sing.

Summer Reading: A Grade-by-Grade Recommended Reading List for Kids

Justin Taylor has posted a nice list of books from Calvary Classical School. This may help parents and grandparents as they point their children toward the library or bookstore this summer!

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published a post I wrote: Obeying God’s Commands as the Body of Christ. Check it out!

Thanks to Maggie A and Phil A for helping me round 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 (12/21/2018)

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

Look Forward to a Better Christmas

Matt Chandler has a great article at The Gospel Coalition connecting his personal story about cancer to Christmas. Here’s a sample.

Christmas finishes quickly each year. What we look forward to soon lies behind us. But you can look forward to a day that will never end and a future that will never disappoint. The decorations will get packed away. But this year, hope and joy need not. You can look at the God who came and lay in that manger. And you can look forward to the day when he comes again.

Joni Eareckson Tada and Suffering

At Breakpoint, John Stonestreet writes about Joni Eareckson Tada, suffering, and the gospel. Only the true message of the Bible is big and sturdy enough to handle the deep suffering that often comes our way.

This type of Christianity, that’s focused on giving us a positive experience and making us feel good, is a small shriveled vision of the Gospel. This kind of Christianity will crumble in the face of true suffering. It won’t withstand the assaults of quadriplegia, of terminal illness, or of a child with a severe disability. It certainly won’t disciple it’s people to withstand the social disapproval of an angry culture, or a school full of angry peers. It leaves us poorer and anemic.

Internet Church Isn’t Really Church

It’s refreshing (if a little surprising) to see this argument in a column in the New York Times. Laura Turner argues that while live-streaming a church service may be necessary for some, choosing to do “church via app” when you could be there in person misses the point of church.

In an era when everything from dates to grocery delivery can be scheduled and near instant, church attendance shouldn’t be one more thing to get from an app. We can be members of a body best when we are all together — we can mourn when we observe and wipe away tears, just as we can rejoice when we can share smiles and have face-to-face conversations.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

At the WPCA blog this week, Sarah Wisniewski wrote about what God has been teaching her through the book of Hosea. Check it out!


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