Links for the Weekend (2023-11-24)

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

Why the Church of England’s Same-Sex Marriage Vote Breaks My Heart

Rebecca McLaughlin reflects on the Church of England’s recent vote on same sex marriage and what the Bible has to say about sex.

Some think Christians who uphold the Bible’s no to same-sex sex are hateful. Sadly, some Christians have indeed been hateful in their treatment of people who identify as gay or lesbian. The bullying, stereotyping, and mocking of those we are called to love is sinful, and Christians who have done so must repent. But when we dive into what the Bible says about sexuality and marriage, we’ll find it’s not a story of hate but a story of love—it’s just a more amazing love story than we’d imagined. It starts at the very beginning and finishes at the very end.

Thankfulness (and other habits)

This article discusses mental health and some of the commands in Philippians.

Whether you keep a journal of things you’re grateful for, or just make a practice of stopping throughout the day to notice what’s good, being thankful is an important habit (all year long, not just at Thanksgiving!) It will also help you to see the goodness of God in your life, which takes your eyes off of yourself and puts them on him. 

Working and Resting

Here are some helpful and thought-provoking musings about what it means to work and rest in the modern day.

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

Why Most Productivity Advice Doesn’t Help

Turning to the internet for productivity advice might sound like searching for a nutritionist at KFC. But you can find wheat amid the cat-video chaff. Set smart goals. Use good tools. Make realistic to-do lists. And so on.

The Main Problem

Despite all the practical tips, I’ve been disappointed. Most articles, even from wise Christians, don’t address the biggest barrier to my productivity.

That would be me.

That’s right—I’m the biggest obstacle. Even when I’m in a good location with clear goals and a dynamite to-do list, the fact is that sometimes I don’t want to work. I’d much rather read, sleep, or sort my paperclips. Work is hard.

In my flesh, I’m a lazy man. I’m addicted to comfort, ease, and pleasure. No matter what the newest productivity book says, the main reason I don’t accomplish what I should is that I’m a sinner. My heart wants the wrong things.

God’s Standard

Work has been around since the beginning; it was God’s idea well before the fall of man (Gen 2:7–9, 15–17). And God has clear expectations.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Col 3:23–24)

For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. (2 Thess 3:10–12)

To these commands we can add the numerous examples and warnings in Proverbs. There we see the terrible consequences of laziness and the rewards of hard work and planning. (See, for example, Proverbs 6:6–11; 10:4–5; 13:4.)

I wilt under these standards in God’s word. I see my sin in sharp contrast, and I know the way forward is confession and repentance. But what does repentance look like?

Hope for the Lazy

Once I confess my laziness, change isn’t as simple as telling myself to work hard. That’s just a restatement of the law. Knowing God’s standard is essential, but I also need a heart that wants good things, that pumps the right motivation clear down to my toes. The first step, then, is obvious: God, please change my heart!

In part, God transforms us as we understand and believe the truth. Because the gospel of Jesus Christ addresses and transforms all of life, this includes my work. So I return to these gospel principles.

God’s work covers mine. In Christ, God has done the most important work for me—work I could never do myself. He has atoned for my sins and kept the law perfectly to make me righteous. My motivation for work must flow down from this mountain spring.

I belong to God. He has created and redeemed me; I am his and I answer to him. My name is written beautifully in heaven, so I don’t have to scrawl it in the dust of earth. From God, my big-picture tasks are to do good to others and make his name known.

God approves of me. He loves me as his son. This must be my dominant feedback, above the most recent or loudest evaluation from my students, colleagues, deans, or any larger community.

I live for others. Because I have been freed and bought with a price, I can freely live for others. I have this charge from God and the Spirit-given ability to do it. As Matt Perman writes in What’s Best Next, “generosity is to be the guiding principle for our lives.” (p.87)

In other words, love should fuel my work. I must put aside ego, fear, and every selfish motivation. Because I am loved, I can work my tail off to love others. What does this mean?

…take the energy you have for meeting your own needs and use that as the measure of the energy you use in seeking the good of others. Desire and seek the good of others with the same passion, creativity, and perseverance as you seek your own. (What’s Best Next, p.88)

Battle On

I still fight an hourly campaign against laziness. But when God gives me victory, it’s usually because I glimpse my standing as a child of God by grace and my opportunity to do good to others. Then, when I am thinking clearly (i.e., believing truth) about my work, I can turn to advice about productivity with some profit.

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God’s Work and Our Work, Hand in Hand

I love watching toddlers learning to walk. Once they’ve reached the stage of pulling themselves up on chairs and coffee tables, they’re ready for the big adventure. Some brave souls make a few solo attempts, but these wobbly steps often end in tears.

What comes next? A parent or grandparent steps in! You’ve seen this adorable dance—the adult, bent at the waist, the child between their feet; the toddler, reaching up to grasp the offered hands, ready to barrel out into the wide-open spaces.

This picture always brings to mind the way that our work and God’s work are joined together.

Opposition to Nehemiah’s Work

At his request, Nehemiah was sent from the Persian city of Susa back to Jerusalem so that he might rebuilt the city that lay in ruins (Neh 2:5). He quickly won the support of the people and directed an effort to rebuild the walls that encircled Jerusalem (Neh 2:9–3:32).

However, from his first days back in the holy city, Nehemiah faced opposition (Neh 2:10, 19). This hostility reached a breaking point in the fourth chapter of Nehemiah.

Praying and Working

We have much to learn from the way Nehemiah pointed the Israelites to their God and to their work in response to the resistance of the surrounding peoples.

Sanballat the Horonite heard about the Jewish work on the Jerusalem wall and he was “angry and greatly enraged” (Neh 4:1). He and Tobiah the Ammonite taunted and mocked the Israelites (Neh 4:2–3). Nehemiah responded by praying to God for his people (Neh 4:4–5); then everyone got to work and built the wall (Neh 4:6).

When Sanballat and Tobiah (and others) made a plan “to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it” (Neh 4:8), Nehemiah took the same approach. The people prayed and set a guard for protection (Neh 4:9).

Later, there were reports of a more specific threat, so Nehemiah stationed armed Israelites in strategic places near the wall (Neh 4:13). Nehemiah addressed the nobles and officials and people:

Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.

God frustrated the plans of these opponents, and thus the Israelites got back to work (Neh 4:15). Nehemiah organized an alert system for the workers—a trumpet would blow when an attack came, and the people would rally there. Nehemiah was confident of the Lord’s hand: “Our God will fight for us” (Neh 4:20).

Throughout this chapter, Nehemiah urges the people to work while reminding them of God’s work. He instructs them to look to the Lord and to look to their labor.

Hand in Hand

Without older hands for stability, a toddler would stagger and fall. But without the child’s desire to learn and move, the adult would just drag an unhappy, small person across the floor. The child’s and the adult’s work go together.

We may be tempted to work without looking to the Lord, but that is foolish. We cannot accomplish God’s work without him. But we must not swing to the other extreme either—praying without putting our hands to work is presumptuous and faithless. Most often, God works through our work.

Nehemiah 4 is a good reminder that God’s sovereignty and our responsibility are not opponents to be pitted against one another. They are friends, walking hand in hand, accomplishing God’s will.

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Work as for the Lord

In late 2020, I attended a cesarean birth with my client and her husband. An unexpected complication led to a quick drive to the hospital and a long wait for surgery. As a birth doula, during a c-section I am typically seated near the head of my client, next to her birth partner. I provide moral support for the pair and a hand to squeeze for anyone who needs it. Only inches away on the other side of a sterile curtain, a team of doctors and nurses do their specialized work with fine-tuned precision. From my vantage point, I see only a sea of blue backs and caps. Voices are low, and each person knows exactly where to stand and how to move around the crowded space. Every step is planned and executed, gears turning smoothly in a living machine.

Typically, the anesthesiologist is the only person on our side of the curtain. That early morning surgery was no different, but this time, the man who managed the patient’s anesthesia would leave a lasting impact on me. 

A Perfect Encounter

Hours before we were taken back to the OR, my client and her husband passed the time by creating a careful playlist, a mix of uplifting and sentimental favorites that would be the soundtrack of an unforgettable moment, the birth of their child. A few of their choices were Christian worship songs, and I smiled as I noticed the common faith that I didn’t know we shared. My client noted that I had mentioned “church” in one of our conversations, and the knowledge that I was a believer gave her peace and made her not worry about her song choices surprising me. 

As the selection of music played during the surgery, the anesthesiologist busily did his work. He adjusted dials and gauges here and there, monitored vital signs, shared a few lighthearted jokes, and frequently asked how my client was feeling. A new song selection rang out, and the blessed name of Jesus suddenly filled the room. The anesthesiologist paused and said with a smile, “I approve of this song choice!” He began to sing along under his breath. In his quiet way, he made his belief known, and with those words, he invited himself into the moment. In the most unexpected of places, the four of us had an unanticipated encounter with fellow believers and engaged in a short but heartfelt moment of worship.

Work in a Secular World

According to a study conducted by Barna Group and released in 20181, Christians increasingly reject a “spiritual hierarchy” of employment (for example, the idea that the job of a pastor is more important than that of an accountant). Instead, modern American Christians are more likely to blur the line between secular and sacred work as they embrace a sense of vocation in all work, a belief that various forms of employment outside of traditional ministry can be callings for which God has specifically equipped a person.

Even with a growing sense of vocation among us, many Christians also recognize that outward expressions of faith are often unwelcome in secular workplaces. Teachers in public schools and secular universities could face reprimand for openly preaching the gospel in class. A doctor or lawyer may be frowned upon for giving his or her Christian testimony in a conversation with a patient or client. As an entrepreneur, I have the right to share my spiritual faith, but I am also keenly aware that a major component of my work is to set an expectant family at ease during an intimate and often challenging experience. I must “read the room” with wisdom and care, and introducing details of my personal life is not always the best way to do my job well. 

All Work is for the Lord

Must Christian employees feel constantly at odds between God’s call upon their lives and the expectations of the world? How can a believer work for the Lord under the constraints of a secular environment?

First, take heart in knowing that evangelizing and sharing Scripture are not the only ways in which Christians do their work for the Lord. These are small components in a much larger picture. Colossians 3:23 reminds us, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” The word heartily points to industriousness, working with vigor and steadfastness. This word points to consistency and effort. All of these qualities speak to attitude and approach rather than specific tasks. Additionally, we see that our work is done for the Lord. Our purpose should be attached to the Lord’s pleasure, not merely the opinions of our clientele and superiors. Verse 24 continues, “knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Here we are pushed to look past wordly benchmarks that might be measures of man’s success, and instead, we are meant to look to the Lord for our reward.

Colossians 1:10 reads, “you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Here we see, again, that the manner in which we conduct our work matters to God and is a reflection of who we are in him. In the fruit we produce and the growth we display, we are honoring him. In the workplace, any of the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) contribute to a positive environment and build healthier relationships. Certainly, a display of patience could diffuse a tense interaction or a demonstration of self-control could lead to productive teamwork despite heightened emotions. As so often happens, God’s word speaks to the greater spiritual good but does not fail us in the practical matters of living and working in this world.


I hope that the anesthesiologist can be an encouragement to all of us. This medical professional performed his job with excellence. I have no doubt he provides medical care of the highest quality for every patient on his docket, regardless of the music they choose in the operating room. Yet, he selected a subtle comment in a perfect moment to provide comfort and camaraderie, to serve the Lord with his words and actions, while never compromising the expectations of his position. I was moved in that moment, and I immediately thought of the potential opportunities I have in my work to express the truth of the gospel in a world that needs it.

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  1. Quoted in Study: American Christians Are Erasing the Divide Between ‘Sacred’ and ‘Secular’ Jobs, The Gospel Coalition, Joe Carter, September 25, 2018.

Links for the Weekend (11/27/2020)

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

How to Harm a Heavy Heart

Vaneetha Risner writes about listening to and grieving with friends who are going through difficult times. I appreciated the way she discussed the Christian practice of lament.

Sometimes we aren’t in a setting to lament together through Scripture, but we can apply those principles to everyday conversation. We can invite our friends to talk about their feelings without judgment, beginning the conversation by saying, “This must be so hard. It would have opened a whole host of struggles for me. How are you feeling?” Sharing our own battles and temptations invites others to speak, knowing they won’t be judged.

Our Only Hope In Life and Death

This short, solid reminder about a Christian’s true hope cheered my soul.

This can bring us great comfort, knowing that hope is not lost, that our hope is in Christ alone. We will continue to struggle with the restrictions, but placing our faith in God means we know His promises still stand, that He is sovereign over the world, and that our lives are lived unto Him, every day. 

Should We Expect Our Jobs to Make Us Happy?

We’re all prone to find our identity and happiness in unfit places. Barnabas Piper writes about why our work can’t bear the weight we often want it to.

Work— like many other things in life- is a means of finding happiness. It’s designed by God and is a good thing. It’s a good hook for the right things, but too weak to hold our hopes for total happiness.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

Not this week, but last week on the blog we published an article I wrote called How to Encourage Those Who Grieve. 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 (4/3/2020)

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

It Takes Theology to Lament

A lament is a biblical prayer that is sadly out of favor these days. But it is just the type of prayer we need when things are not right with us or in the world. Mark Vroegop writes about the theology that is needed in order to lament.

Most laments contain four elements: turn, complain, ask, and trust. Each is designed to move the weary-hearted saint toward a renewal of hope in God’s character, even when dark clouds linger. Turning to God in prayer is the first step. It refuses to allow a deadly prayerlessness to develop. Complaining lays out our hurts in blunt but humble terms. We tell God what is wrong and the depth of our struggles. Asking reclaims the promises of God’s word that seem distant, and it calls upon him to intervene. Finally, all laments end in trust. This is where biblical lament is designed to lead – a faith-filled renewal of what we know to be true.

COVID-19: Living by Probabilities or Providence?

If you’ve been paying a lot of attention to the coronavirus-related statistics in the news recently, this article might be for you. Mike Emlet encourages us to turn our gaze (and our trust) to the Lord.

Sit with these glorious realities for a minute. Read through them slowly. Let them soak into your soul. We don’t live by probabilities and chance. We live under the loving, wise, and sovereign rule of our Creator and Redeemer God. The result of that is true hope, which steers clear of both a naïve optimism or a resigned pessimism.

A Prayer for Working from Home

This is exactly what the title says. You may not think you need such a prayer, but if you’re not used to working from home, I suggest you take a look.

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 (2/15/2019)

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

Encouragement for Regular Bible Reading

Over at For The Church, Trevin Wax addresses this important question: “What keeps so many Christians from regularly studying the Bible?” His video answer is filled with wisdom and encouragement to think about the long term benefit of our Bible reading and Bible study disciplines.

7 Tips for Keeping Your Cool When Your Kids Misbehave

I wish I didn’t need this advice, but I do. At the Crossway blog, Sam Crabtree offers some advice for avoiding an explosion of anger when children misbehave.

So, you’ve blown your stack. You admit it. You confess your wrongness to all involved parties. You apologize, asking forgiveness. And you resolve to not be that way again, to not do it again. But there’s the problem. The resolve of our own nature will fail. We need supernatural enablement for change. Overcoming anger requires something humanly impossible, something supernatural. The good news is that Jesus came to make it possible for all kinds of people—including angry parents—to be changed into people who yield their expectations to God in service to others, specifically their children.

Sharing Your Faith at Work

Here’s a short article brimming with wisdom. Greg Forster first counsels us to “earn the right to be heard.” He then shares three practical tips. Here’s the second one.

Be patient. Earning the right to be heard takes time. You should not expect evangelistic opportunities quickly. Trust that as you labor faithfully, God will use your track record of excellent performance and humane treatment of people to awaken the hearts of those around you. I have a relative who came to Christ after her retirement; she became convinced Christ was alive after reflecting on decades of seeing Christians do their daily work so differently.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published Pastor Don Waltermyer’s article about killing sin. 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.