Incarnation, Devotions, & Reading (Dec 23, 2016)

The Fullness of God Dwelled in a Womb

An excellent devotional from Jared Wilson.

10 Ideas and 10 Tips for Family Devotions in 2017

Great thoughts!

Less important than how you do family devotions is that you do family devotions.

Dad, take responsibility for family devotions. Lead your family by leading them to the Word and leading them in prayer.

Drop Everything and Read

Reading is not an activity for when everything else is done. It’s an activity to put in our schedules first. We must guard and protect this time to nourish our minds and our souls.

Birth of Jesus – Gospel of Luke Ch 1-2

A fantastic start to their new series covering the Luke’s Gospel… and just in time for Christmas!

Light for Those Who Sit in Darkness

This Christmas may God cause our hearts to explode with real joy over the salvation that comes through Jesus. If that is going to happen, we first need the courage to reckon seriously with the darkness within us. And if we do this, then we’ll truly appreciate that “a light has dawned” among us (Matthew 4:16).


Reading, Indecision, & Ancient Pastors (Dec 9, 2016)

Here are a few articles from around the Internet worth reading this week.

2017 Christian Reading Challenge

I’m excited for this. I began following Tim Challies midway through 2016, so I missed his 2016 reading challenge. But my wife and I are jumping on board this year!

Those Books Won’t Read Themselves

So how about this for an early New Year resolution: In 2017 read some books, because books are good, and teach us many things. (And they are far better when physical objects than Kindlefied files – though if you’re going on a beach holiday you may take your Kindle.) Read broadly, but wisely – you don’t have to read stuff that does your soul no good. Read for information, and for pleasure, but not competitively. And don’t feel guilty about all the books you haven’t read, or those you only skim through, because of the making of many books there is no end. And read your Bible!

You Could Be Doing So Much

This is my last one on reading for the week. I promise.

I’m Paralyzed by Indecision – What Should I Do?

A great episode of John Piper’s podcast, Ask Pastor John.

1500-Year-Old Pastoral Wisdom from John Chrysostom

Chrysostom argued that if a preacher “is overcome by the thought of applause, harm is equally done in turn, both to himself and the multitude, because in his desire for praise he is careful to speak rather with a view to please than to profit” (5.2). Similarly, Chrysostom used the analogy of a skilled painter who “ought not to be dejected, and to consider the picture poor, because of the judgment of the ignorant” (5.6) to make the point that pastors shouldn’t be undone by the criticisms of some. Even outside of the context of preaching, a pastor should be indifferent to “slander and envy” (5.4).

Christmas, Sin, & Small Towns (Dec 2, 2016)

Here are a few articles from around the Internet that are worth reading.

A Plea to Pastors: Don’t Cancel Church on Christmas

Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, so why should we attend church on Christmas?

It’s the day we celebrate the incarnation, the birth of the Messiah, the entrance into our world of the second Person of Trinity. Don’t we want to sing? Don’t we want to celebrate? Don’t we want to preach and praise and pray?

Sin Will Never Make You Happy

With all eternity hanging in the balance, we fight the fight of faith. Our chief enemy is the lie that says sin will make our future happier. Our chief weapon is the truth that says God will make our future happier. And faith is the victory that overcomes the lie, because faith is satisfied with God.

Big Dreams and Blue Jeans

Since I pastor a church within a small town, it’s encouraging to remember that small towns matter in the kingdom of God.

How to Stop Despairing Over World Suffering and Start Addressing It

I believe we should act locally, specifically, and personally. We should start with the spheres closest to home, and then continue to reach out from there, as God gives time, money, and opportunity. Such giving combats some of the feelings of fatigue and guilt that come with knowledge of worldwide suffering. To stay stuck in that place of guilt is to remain in a selfish spot. But if we assume ourselves responsible for all the problems of the world, that also is a selfish response.

5 Christian Clichés That Need to Die

But one-liners aren’t always helpful. Sometimes, in our desire to simplify truth, we can trivialize and even obscure it. And to obscure the truth is to tell a lie.

Self-Defense, Secular Campuses, & the Wisdom of Job (Nov 11, 2016)

It’s been a crazy few weeks with much time spent in a trauma ICU, but I’m planning to return to my regular number of postings next week. Until then, here are a few items from the internet this week that are worth your time.

Should Christians Defend Themselves

I wrote on this topic several weeks ago as well.

We recognize that this is a sensitive issue of conscience for many, and that grace and love must characterize this conversation. We also are convinced that any such self-defense must be considered as a last resort and in response to a reasonable threat. The same principle of valuing the image of God in others that drives us to protect the weak among us also compels us to a careful and measured response.

Church Should Feel Uncomfortable

A good reminder:

[Being the church] means worshiping all together without segregating by age or interest (e.g. “contemporary” or “traditional”). It means preaching the whole counsel of God, even the unpopular bits. It means fighting homogeneity and cultivating diversity as much as possible, even if it makes people uncomfortable. It means prioritizing the values of church membership and giving, even if it turns people off. It means being fine with the music even if it’s not your favorite style. It means sticking around even when the church goes through hard times. It means building a tight-knit community but not an insular one, engaging neighbors and launching members when mission calls them away. It means bearing with one another in love on matters of debate and yet not shying away from church discipline. It means preaching truth and love in tension, even when the culture calls it bigotry. It means focusing on long-term healing rather than symptom-fixing medication.

None of this is easy or comfortable. But by the grace of God and his Spirit’s help, uncomfortable church can become something we treasure.

How God Is Moving On Secular Campuses

Friends, God is moving on secular campuses. In some cases, the odds seem impossible. But God loves facing seemingly impossible odds. He loves to use small things, foolish things, to shame the world. We do not know where we are headed. But we know this: we are not alone. God has gone ahead of us.

The Book of Job 

This concludes the Bible Project’s trilogy of videos on the wisdom books of the Bible.

Trump, Heresy, & Sunday Morning (Oct. 14, 2016)

Below are a few items from the internet this week that are worth your time.

If Donald Trump Has Done Anything, He Has Snuffed Out the Religious Right

As a 26-year-old evangelical pastor, I completely agree:

The 30-year-old evangelical pastor down the street from you would rather die than hand over his church directory to a politician or turn his church service into a political rally. Finding new ways of engaging our fellow citizens and forming collaborative majorities for public action are now the urgent priority of evangelicals who wish not to concede the public space, in our name, to heretics and hucksters and influence-peddlers. The gospel matters more.

Survey Finds Most American Christians Are Actually Heretics

A sobering read…

A survey of 3,000 people conducted by LifeWay Research and commissioned by Ligonier Ministries found that although Americans still overwhelmingly identify as “Christian,” startling percentages of the nation embrace ancient errors condemned by all major Christian traditions. These are not minor points of doctrine, but core ideas that define Christianity itself. The really sad part? Even when we’re denying the divinity of Christ, we can’t keep our story straight. Americans talking about theology sound about as competent as country singers rapping.

Making the Most of Sunday Morning

God wants us to be thoughtful and purposeful in our gatherings, not lazy and aimless. It’s been said that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. And if you aim at nothing, you hit it every time. Sure, God’s grace compels and guides us to stir and encourage in ways we did not intend. But God’s grace also makes us intentional. He gives us grace not only despite our effort, but in our effort. Hebrews 10:24–25 compel us to actively consider how we might encourage and strengthen the particular saints we meet with each Sunday.

You, Me, and the ESV

A great thought on my favorite Bible translation.

Millions of people have adopted the ESV, have come to love it, and have deep feelings for it. We’ve spent hundreds or thousands of hours reading it, pondering it, memorizing it. For many, the ESV is the Bible, the only Bible they have ever known. For others it is the Bible that led them to salvation or that led them to a theological awakening. This is especially true of people who have been part of the modern-day Reformed resurgence. In many ways and for many of us the ESV is inseparable from our newfound convictions. We don’t just use the ESV, we are deeply connected to it, deeply invested in it.

Authority: God’s Good and Dangerous Gift

The latest 9Marks Journal is available with plenty of  great articles to keep you reading and thinking until the next one.

Alistair Begg: You are not responsible for your prodigal

An encouraging video on a difficult topic.

Oct. 7, 2016 (Reader’s Bible, Internet Usage, & Sabotaging Sermons)

Below are a few items from the past week worth reading.

ESV Reader’s Bible, Six-Volume Set

I love the concept of a Bible designed entirely for reading. The Westminster Bookstore also has a sale on this set throughout October.

An Apology to Christian Millennials

I am sorry that we made the church to be all about you growing up. We were always looking for ways to make it more fun and fabulous, and “You” were the mantra of the church: “How YOU can be a winner in life;” “Ways YOU can make a difference in the world.” I think we thought that if we made it cool for YOU, YOU would want to stay. We heard the statistics about how you were “going to leave” the church when you got out of high school and we didn’t want that to happen. That’s when we over compensated. I am sorry we lied to you! The church is not about YOU, it is all about GOD!

Every Click Counts: what you should know about the Internet

The private use of the Internet is a mirage — a satanic illusion to deceive you into thinking what you do online really doesn’t matter. But there is no such thing as truly private use of the Internet. Every click has a public dimension. And every click shows and shapes. It’s not only a current expression of your heart, but also has an effect on who you will be moving forward.

How I Learned to Separate Meat from Bone in the Charismatic Tradition

While some aspects of the charismatic movement are commendable, there are also glaring concerns. When I was unable to find a church home during college, my father told me sometimes picking the right church is like eating deep fried catfish. You eat the meat and spit out the bones. And there is both meat and bones in contemporary charismatic circles.

How to Sabotage Your Pastor’s Sermons

Sitting under the Word of God preached is a spiritual practice. God is dealing with our hearts through the Word. James is advocating that we actually go to work on our own hearts before the sermon (or any other time in the Word). To neglect the indwelling sin is to neglect the priority of sanctification. If you want to sabotage the sermon then you simply need to come with a neglected heart, overgrown with the weeds of sin. If you don’t want to actually change, then simply do nothing but show up.

Sept. 30, 2016

Below are a few articles that I found beneficial this past week.

5 Ways To Not Suck at Sharing About Jesus

We mean well and want to share about Jesus with our friends, but an invitation without relational investment is a sales pitch.

7 Reasons Why Faithful Church Attendance Matters

“I love Jesus but not the church” is like saying to a new groom, “I love you but not your bride.” The Bible describes the local church as the bride of Christ (2 Cor. 11:2 Eph. 5:24-27, Rev. 19:7-9, 21:1-2). It is impossible to maintain a thriving relationship with Christ while at the same time avoiding fellowship with a gospel-believing local church. When we commit to loving the church, we commit to loving Christ.

5 Practical Guidelines for Reading the Old Testament Laws

Let’s be honest. Certain parts of the Old Testament can seem just plain weird, “recurringly odd and unaccommodating,” as Mark Coleridge puts it. And no part of the Old Testament seems more foreign than those sections that detail God’s laws for Israel. Whether we read that the Israelites were not to wear clothing with mixed fabrics, or eat shrimp, or make a bald spot on their heads on behalf of the dead, we struggle to see what this has to do with us. I simply haven’t ever been tempted to “boil a baby goat in it’s mother’s milk” (Exod. 23:19; 34:26; Deut. 14:21)! Have you?

How to Pray a Psalm

So basically what you are doing is taking words that originated in the heart and mind of God and circulating them through your heart and mind back to God. By this means his words become the wings of your prayers.

9 Things You Should Know About the ESV Bible

As an “essentially literal” translation, the ESV most closely aligns with a formal equivalent translation philosophy in that is “seeks as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer.”