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Here and There (July 20)

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After Domestic Violence, Why Should a Christian Wife Call the Police, Not a Pastor, First?  – “Abused women who are Christians may try to understand their suffering by believing it is “God’s will” or “part of God’s plan for my life.” Yet we believe this runs contrary to the biblical image of a kind, merciful, and loving God who promises to be present to us in our suffering.”

Too “Busy” for God’s Word?  – “There is never an excuse for neglecting your time in prayer, reading of the Word, and personal worship of God. You may not have time for intense academic study, but just as you make time to nourish yourself with physical food, you must take time to nourish your soul as well.”

God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle  – “Suffering doesn’t ask if you’re ready. It may come slowly or with a vengeance, but it doesn’t ask permission, and it doesn’t care about convenience. There’s never a good time for your life to be wrecked. But the saying “God will never give you more than you can handle” tells me Ihave what it takes. It tells me I can bear whatever comes my way. It tells me God permits trials according to my ability to endure. Think about what this conventional wisdom does: it points people inward.  Yet the Bible points us Godward.”

Here is Truth  – “Genuine change is more than stopping wrong behavior; there must be repentance which includes an understanding that the actions are not glorifying to God; there must be a change in the manner of life that we live. Genuine repentance is accompanied by a desire to obey. We cannot separate thinking from obedience-they are inseparable. ”

4 Really Good Money Questions  – These are 4 great questions that bring biblical wisdom to bear on the way we use our money.

7 Questions Leaders Should Use Often  – “Questions are a powerful tool for every leader. The greatest leaders I know ask lots of questions.”

And 7 Statements Every Leader Needs To Use Often  – “One of the goals of a leader should be to encourage, strengthen and challenge a team to continually improve. Almost as a cheerleader rousing the crowd at a game, the leader uses his or her influence to bring out the best in others.”

7 Areas of Unbiblical Conscience Binding  – “God alone is Lord of the conscience, and has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to his Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship”

One Reason Children Rebel Against Their Parents  – “If we are not modeling the life of Christ to our children (1 Corinthians 11:1), then the chances of them rejecting Christ by the time they become teenagers is exponentially higher than parents who humbly present Christ to their children while they are young.”

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Here and There (July 16)

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Marriage, Infidelity, and Ministry  – “No minister of the gospel ever committed adultery without being involved inappropriately with another person, and without having lustful desires precede that involvement. Adultery is the last stop on a long line of faithlessness. This sobering and painful reality points us to a very helpful strategy in our fight for purity. If we want to maximize our effectiveness in this battle we must be committed to waging the war as early as possible. An effective fight against adultery requires a fight against the kind of impurity that leads to it, and that requires a fight against the covetous desires of our hearts that lead to that. We are on the winning side of the struggle when we are depending on God’s grace to squash every covetous sexual desire long before it manifests in impurity and sexual immorality.”

To The Wife Who’s Husband Works Long Hours  – “Most importantly, pray together. Put God first so neither of you end up putting yourselves first.”

3 Truths to Move from Discontentment to Contentment  – “How do we fight to put on contentment and put off discontentment? We fight to grow in contentment, and kill discontent, by knowing and trusting that God is sovereignly working what is best, right, and good in our life because He is perfect in wisdom, knowledge, goodness, and love.”

Ten Tips to Kill Your Marriage  – “If you can’t embrace losing, as in being second in your marriage, then you will be the biggest loser of all (Ephesians 5:21). Not only will you go down swinging, but you will take your marriage down with you.”

What to do with-after a Stupid Promise to God?  – “God would rather forgive an empty promise in a maturing child than the offensive action of a wayward child still embracing their folly. God is more glorified through forgiving us for making-breaking stupid promises than he is through us keeping stupid promises and misrepresenting what it means to have “great faith” to the world.”

Four Characteristics of Legalism  – “Legalism is something we all lean toward in one way or another. Humanity has been plagued by this from the very beginning as we see in Job’s friends. Why is this? Well, we like to have everything under control. We don’t like risk. We don’t like it when things get uncomfortable. And showing grace, to ourselves and others, takes the ball out of our court. Rule, laws, and lists of requirements are so much easier than grace and freedom.”

Pascal’s Wager: Misleading, But Challenging  – “According to the Scriptures, that kind of choice is not saving faith. It is a purely natural thing, not a supernatural thing. We are drawn to something we do not know, assuming an extension of the happiness we have here. But saving faith is not like that. It is rooted in the sight and foretaste of happiness in supernatural things — God himself. According to the Scriptures, living faith is created in the dead soul by the miracle of new birth. “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God” (1 John 5:1). That’s how the faith happens.”

Lessons for Young Men  – “Our world desperately needs men. Real men. Manly men. Godly men. Holy men. Courageous men. Men who fear no one because they fear their God more. Our culture despises true, biblical manhood. What our young people today who grow up in American society will not learn on their own, from their friends, from Hollywood, or simply by observing the way of culture is how to be a real, godly, courageous, man of God.”

Letter to Teens Unboxing Their First Smartphone  – “The way you use your technology reveals your heart.”

Guidance On How To Be A Man  – “My answer, and maybe yours as well, is that I so often forget who I am in Christ. Thousands of time a day, the world says to me “Be like this! Be like that!”, but never “Live out your life in Christ!”

Gospel-Centered Husbandship: Changing the Game by Changing Our Home  – “The opposite of a gospel-centered husband, I think, is a comfortable husband.”

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Here and There (July 9)

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Current Kindle deals: Make, Mature, and Multiply by Brandon Smith ($0.99); Called Together by Jonathan Dodson & Brad Watson ($0.99); The Stories We Live by Sean Post ($0.99); everPresent by Jeremy Writebol ($0.99); Reading God’s Story Chronological Bible ($2.99); HCSB Digital Reference Bible ($2.99); The Keys to the Chronicles by Marvin Hinten ($0.99); Mere Humanity by Donald Williams ($2.99).

What a Bikini Taught Me About Modesty  –  “Suddenly I realized that my bikini was not advertising my God-given value, but advertising the beauty of my body to a world that would never appreciate it the way God intended…Modesty is humility in action…In every decision we make, we shouldn’t be asking “How far can I go?” or “How much can I get away with?” but “How holy can I be?” 

Dear Girl, You Can’t Shed Shame by Shedding Clothes  – “They say women who cover themselves do so because they lack self confidence; that if they were really free, they would shed those standards and their “modest” clothes along with it.  But the dichotomy they propose is a false one.  Our world sees no shame in nakedness, so they seek to glorify it.  Our God sees glory in nakedness, so He shields it from shame…Shame did not come from modesty. Modesty – the covering – came to deflect shame. God Himself clothed man and woman to shield their beauty from the evil of this world.”

The Gospel Coalition has 20 Quotes from Rosaria Butterfield’s New Book on Sexual Identity  – “The image of me and everyone I love suffering in hell crashed over me like shark-infested waves of a raging sea. Suffering in hell not because we were gay, but because we were proud. We wanted to be autonomous. . . . I counted the costs and I did not like the math.” (23)  “Jesus met sinners at the table, but he did not join them in their choice sins. He sat with them, but he did not sin with them. And we ought not expect Jesus to sin with us today.” (31)

Identity in Relationships  – “Finding identity in your spouse will never work. No sinner can be your mighty fortress; only God can, as the classic hymn reminds us. Perhaps even more importantly: when you look to another person for identity, you’re not loving them; you’re using them to love yourself...Human relationships are unable to provide us with life, contentment, happiness, and joy, so when we ask them to be our source of identity, it’s only a matter of time before they fail us. We can never be reminded of this enough: our identity is only safe in one Person – Jesus Christ!

On Mt. Moriah You Can See the Whole Bible  – “Jesus wrote the last chapter of Moriah. He made this mountain his own. He climbed Mt. Moriah, to enter his Father’s house, time and again. He taught on this mountain. He turned over the tables of the money-changers like a madman on this mountain. On Moriah, he declared, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will rebuild it.” He spend the last week of his life on this mountain. And he brought this mountain’s story to its peak.  Jesus was not killed in Bethlehem as a baby, or in Galilee or Samaria as an adult. He couldn’t be, for it was necessary for him to die in Jerusalem, where Moriah is. He is the promised Seed of Abraham, the new and better Isaac. He is the promised Son of David, the new and better Solomon. He is the tabernacle and temple of God. And he is the Son who is not spared, but given up for us all. At his death, the angels outside Eden sheathe their swords and welcome us back into the paradise of God. He is the lamb of God, upon the altar of the cross, who transforms Golgotha into Moriah. He is the substitute, by whose sacrifice we are not just spared, but welcomed into the life and family of the Father.”

How and Why to Talk to Your Children About LGBT  – “Our attitude toward gays should be loving because, as we say, “There I would be too if it were not for the grace of God.” Your children should not hear hate or anger from you when you talk about the gay community.  If you do hate them, then your children will either (1) emulate your anger or (2) embrace the gays version of love—a love devoid of biblical conviction. Therefore, your starting point should be a level playing field: there are no righteous people, no not one (Romans 3:10-12).”

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Here and There (May 13)

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Kindle Deals:   The Next Story by Tim Challies ($1.99); The Pastor’s Kid by Barnabas Piper ($2.99); Jesus and the Gospels by Craig Blomberg ($4.99); The Pilgrim’s Regress by C.S. Lewis ($1.99) Warren Wiersbe books: Be Mature (James); Be Joyful (Philippians)

Singles: Distinguishing Between Good and Great  – “Remember: the first step to building a great marriage is often breaking off a mediocre dating relationship. It doesn’t have to be tragic or miserable, just mediocre. If you keep hanging on to “almost good enough” you may never find “great enough that I never want to lose it.”

10 Ways to Enjoy Your Child Today  – “The older generation tells us with love:“Don’t blink or you’ll miss it. It passes before you know it. Savor it now. It’s your one chance.”And we politely while somewhat annoyed respond: “Yes, I know. I know. I hear that a lot. And I want to. I really do. That’s why I had kids. To enjoy them. But the days, they just fly by. And before I know it, they are another day older. Meanwhile I still haven’t brushed my teeth. Or hair. So savoring them. Well, it’s harder than you know.”

Drinking It Straight  –  The Word of God compared to Coffee.  “The problem all along was that people had diluted the coffee, or added something to it, thinking that this would make it more enjoyable. When they added to it, they changed it entirely, so that it wasn’t really coffee anymore.”

Exposed By My Children For What I Really Look Like  – No matter what my mom weighed or wore, I always thought she was the most beautiful lady ever…

The Problem With Mother’s Day  – ” Don’t forget the reality of your situation on Mother’s Day, whatever it may be:  God is sovereign.  He is good. And, we can trust Him.”

For When You Have Nothing Left To Give  – “If your faith is shattered, your supply line is down and you’ve no way to access the provisions He’s providing. If your faith is weak today and you have nothing left to give, I encourage you to sit awhile with God’s word.”

I Looked For Love In Your Eyes  – A heartbreaking look at the devastation pornography causes.  A must read for anyone who may be inclined to think it’s “no big deal”.

When Trials Steal Your Joy  – “For the Christian, struggles are not meaningless. God has greater designs that we cannot always see or understand, but we can choose to see His goodness in them. We don’t have to like our circumstances, but we do have to trust that God is loving us in them.”

How Do I Know I’m a Christian?  – “Do you love God?  Do you love his commands?  Do you love his people?  If you don’t, it’s a sign you have death.  If you do, it’s sign that you have life. And that means confidence instead of condemnation.”

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Here and There (May 11)

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Kindle deals: Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson ($1.99); Forever Mom by Mary Ostyn ($1.99); Crazy BusyTaking God at His Word, and The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung ($2.99 each); Don’t Call It a Comebackby Kevin DeYoung and me and others ($2.99); One Way Love by Tullian Tchividjian ($1.99); Jesus or Nothing by Dan DeWitt ($2.99)

Some Hard Questions For Mothers  – “Is my role as a mother more about my need to be needed than raising children to maturity and independence?” “Do I fear not being needed by those under my care?” “Am I using my role as a mother to fill voids left by past hurts?”

Either “OK” or “Thank You”  – Everyday life and the Father’s will.  “We Christian Hedonists believe that God is most glorified in us when we’re most satisfied in him. We’ll highlight this truth in our books. We’ll tweet about it all day long. We’ll sing about it on Sunday mornings. But then things don’t go our way…”

God’s Bigger Than My Cancer  –  Learning lament and joy in darkness.  “Cancer changes your perception of life. Each day comes to us as a gift from the gracious hand of God — whether it is the last day of a short life or the first day of a long and healthy life. But living into the reality that each day is a gift also involves coming to recognize a stark, biblical truth that is deeply countercultural: God is not our debtor.”

Dear Mom Who Secretly Dreads Mother’s Day  – “This day is ultimately not about you, or your mothering, or the mothers in your life. It’s about the story Jesus is choosing to write through the picture of motherhood in and around your life. And that’s worth celebrating…and He certainly isn’t through with you yet.”

Mom!  – A short film about you and your mom.

Don’t Let Pride Steal Your Joy  – “In thinking ourselves far greater than really we are, we see truly great things far smaller than they really are. The lie of pride becomes a damned lie when we see God as smaller, and less important than he is. And in trying to make truly great things subservient to our false supremacy, pride shrinks our capacity to experience joy and wonder. In seeking to be gods and goddesses, we learn to only value what magnifies our glory or satisfies our appetites. We yawn at the Grand Canyon and fawn at the mirror.”

When God Closes The Womb  – Being childless on Mother’s Day.  “When God closes the womb He has other things in store. It isn’t about being mean or punishing me for past sin, it is because of His great Love for me… The big question for me has and continues to be “Is God Enough?”

On The Path To The Cancer Ward  – “I’ve discovered that grief travels in three directions: past, present, and future. The trauma of what we’ve gone through; the struggle to accept our changed lives; the fearful anticipation of what is to come. Sadness is a backpack of rocks you carry: you forget for a while, stop and enjoy the view, but always it’s there, some days too heavy to bear…Humble yourself under God’s hand. Cast your fears on him. Resist Satan’s attempts to undermine your faith. Remember you’re not alone. Remember this is just for a little while. Remember God will lift you up and restore you and make you strong.”

Wise words To The Sons And Daughters Of Divorce  – “I don’t think I have found more help in my own journey of healing than in seeking help from others who have walked the same paths — who have had to do the hard work of finding Christ through the weeds of having divorced parents. Look for other sons and daughters — of God, and of divorced parents — and walk with them.  You are not pathetic. You are not alone. You deserve to be deeply loved, and you are deeply loved by God. He will carry and keep you.”

Loving Difficult People  – “So when that child has you on the brink of tears, or you’ve just received a harsh and critical email about your ministry, or you’re confronted with that extended family member who drives you up the wall, ask God for grace not to run away, but to keep engaging in love that hard-to-love person. God will be honored and our hearts will find deeper satisfaction as we seek to love people just as Christ loved us when we were his enemies.”

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Here and There (May 4)

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Don’t Pitch Your Tent Next To A Pit  – “When we come upon sin—whether we know what’s coming or not—we have to be prepared. We can’t pitch a tent nearby to check it out or find an “acceptable” way in. We must prepare. We must guard. We must fight. We must flee.”

When Doubt Is More Than Just A Season  – “My doubt did not fade until I lifted my face up from a tear-soaked carpet and set it with a steely gaze toward the reality that it might not ever get better, that I would continue wrestle, like Jacob, until God blessed me. I stopped looking at my wrestling with doubt as if it were a passing season. While God promises good for his people, he doesn’t guarantee that he will fulfill his promises on our schedules or even in our lifetimes.”

Why God’s Will Isn’t Always Clear  – “But one reason why God usually doesn’t give us specific guidance in our sometimes-perplexing decisions is that he places a higher priority on our being transformed than our being informed in order that we will be conformed to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29).”

5 Hindrances To Believing The Gospel Of Done  – A list taken from David Murray’s Book, The Happy Christian.  “Some of us are convinced that God let’s us in based on His Done, but we don’t believe we stay in by His Done.  Too many churches preach the Gospel to unbelievers and an anti-Gospel to believers.”

When The Church Hurts You  – “Every church has a lot of messy people: immature believers, self-centered believers, selfish believers, pride-filled and obnoxious believers, and yes, even some “professing believers” who are actually still spiritually dead—they aren’t even truly believers…But as messy as the Church is, God’s desire is not for you to walk away from His Bride. No, His desire is for you to benefit from, and contribute to, the Church—bringing Him glory.”

The Wisdom In Giving Your Friends Room To Sin  – “It is important that we give people broad borders to be who they really are. To trim grace down to what you want, expect, demand, or what you think you deserve will circumvent your role in what the Gospel can do through you for others. There is no sinner or sin outside of God’s ability to redeem. We must not restrict it by expecting people to not sin. Give them room to wobble.

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Here and There (May 3)

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The Emperor Of All Maladies  –  A comparison of Cancer and Sin.  Well worth the time to read.

It Is Insane To Kill Human Beings Because Of Their Cognitive Abilities  – “Every human being of every ability is made in the image of God.”

A God Greater Than Google  – “We have an all-knowing, all-seeing, all-wise God, but most of the time we’d rather entrust our questions to the internet. After all, the god at our fingertips is visible, controllable, instant, and seemingly omniscient, at least omniscient enough for us. But God didn’t invent the internet to replace himself.”

Good Things Come In Small Packages  – “Size isn’t the most important thing. What matters is what’s coming from the pulpit and the commitment of the people who congregate. And we can each make a difference wherever we are, to be a sincere disciple of Christ, no matter how big our church is.”

How Can I Get Better At Evangelism?  – (Hint: the answer is pretty much the same for Evangelism as it is for anything else: savoring Christ and slaying self.)

Discipline: Strict or Grace-Based? Somewhere In Between  – “The definition of self-government is the idea that a person learns to command himself, his impulses, his work habits, his emotions, His intellect and talents and rule over his will in a productive way. Children can begin this at a very early age, but it is also of utmost importance to adults–as one cannot be a mature believer unless one has mastered self-government and self-control and patience. The idea behind self-government is that all of us have a power and authority over life that comes from within that can help us to master problems, obstacles, and can use our self-will to achieve great things. Adults who make excuses for their lives or always blame others for their unhappiness or irresponsibility, find themselves like the little children, unruly, unhappy, and whining always about life.”

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