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 & There (March 20)

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Jennifer Rothschild shares her thoughts on how to Turn Worry Into Peace.

Some great counsel from Samantha Louck for those times When Your Heart Needs a Pep Talk  – “So sometimes, our hearts need a pep talk. Mine needs one almost every day. I’m weak, sinful, and desperate for the joy of my Savior to shine into my aching heart. Because it’s Him we’re really aching for.”

A well written article over at The Gospel Coalition by Jill Barlow that examines the question, What if Singleness IS my Fairy Tale?    God knows my singleness and my barrenness, but it is as easy as breathing to think that if I am single at my age, there is little hope of being married and having children. The odds are simply not in my favor. To meet a godly, single man now seems an impossibility. What if singleness, rather than marriage, is my fairy tale? His Word tells me that I have everything I need for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called me to his own glory and excellence. Everything.”

Moms Need Theology Too  – Think Theology is just for Pastors and Seminary Professors?  Think again…  “For many of us moms, the mere thought of studying theology seems way beyond what our daily life can handle. We might think, At this stage in my life, I can’t learn theology. My life is consumed and overwhelmed with the daily duties of motherhood…But the truth is we desperately need theology for all our daily duties of motherhood. We need theology for bedtime battles, feeding worries, the grocery store, and everything else in between.”

J. D. Greear writes on Why God Doesn’t Remove Our Sinful Cravings Immediately  – “The persistence of pain in our lives—especially the pain of battling against sin—shouldn’t make us complacent. God didn’t leave the Canaanites so that Israel would eventually get comfortable with them being around. It was just the opposite: he left the Canaanites so that Israel would learn to fight. So when you are tempted to despair because you continue to struggle, remember what God is doing through your circumstances. Look to Christ, whose resurrection guarantees victory. Look to Christ, who fought for you when you were his enemy. Look to Christ, the only Savior who can give you the strength to stand, and who will pick you up every time you fall. Look to Christ, and fight.”

In light of the current trends of “Mandom”, Paul Tripp examines what it means to be a man in Man Does Not Live By Man Skills Alone  – “As a man, I don’t just need to be rescued from the pressures, deficiencies, prejudices, and imbalances of the surrounding culture. No, I need to be rescued from my sin—from myself. It is humbling to note that the greatest danger to any man exist inside of him, not outside of him. Sin makes me willing to be less than the man God designed me to be, and for that, I need forgiveness and transforming grace. The next generation of men need may need to be challenged to be real men. But more than anything, they need to be introduced to the Savior who alone can make that possible.”

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Here and There (February 27)

“God is God. Because He is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what he is up to.” ~Elisabeth Elliot~
Quiet Moments  –  A great reminder from Thankful Homemaker that although life may not turn out the way we’d hoped, God is still in control and our strength to cope is found in Him and Him alone.   “Not the life I envisioned – but it’s not about me.”
10 Ways to Live a Miserable Life  – A humbling checklist of how not to “do” life:  “A self-centered life will not lead to living an abundant life, it will just lead to a miserable life. All of these actions and attitudes are so easy to succumb to because our flesh will naturally default to them.  It’s a wise woman who recognizes these ways do not lead to a flourishing life but rather a rotten one.”
3 Important Questions for Your Single Years  – Bethany Baird at LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com reminds us:  “Don’t waste these years. God has given you these single years for a reason, so don’t squander them. Use them to point others to Christ.”  Good ideas here and book recommendations too!
Are We Christians Who Don’t Make Sense?  – “Wimpy theology makes wimpy women,” he said. We must be careful to get our theology straight, but even that’s not enough. We must be sure we’re living in (acting on) biblical truth!”
Holding Fast in the Storms of Life  – An encouraging post from Sally Clarkson on the rewards of being faithful during all the seasons of life.  “Gal. 6:9  Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not lose heart.  All family travel into the eyes of life-storms. It is not an evidence of a bad family, it is the reality of a fallen world, with rebellion and fallenness evident with every dark cloud.  And yet, wanting to love God and serve Him through it all, was the glue that held me, us, our own family, together when life threatened to tear all of us apart.”
8 Life Lessons to Teach Your Kids  – Some good ideas here.
Raccoons, Fleas, and “Happily Ever After”  – From Leslie Ludy: “Let Christ have His way, even if it means giving up everything you ever hoped for in life. Let Christ be your source of true fulfillment, even when your spouse lets you down. Your life may not ever look the way you pictured it, but you will find satisfaction and security that can’t be shaken by the circumstances or disappointments of life.”
The Greatest Illustrated Story  – The Galottis write: “Faith is confidence in things hoped for and conviction of things we can’t see. But God, because He made us, knows us, and wired us, has filled His world with paintings, sculptures, and set designs that illustrate His Story.” 
Inviting Children into the Prayer Closet  – Yes, pray for them and with them and also OVER them.  “When they are old, will they still remember the prayers I prayed?  When they see them answered, will they know without a doubt that it was God, extending grace to a praying mother and her children?  When the prayers go unanswered, will they say, “Even so, we trust Him?”  Will they learn to offer their own impassioned pleas to King Jesus? So many dreams and prayers.  My babies will hear them all.  And, so will my God.”
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Here and There (February 25)

“One reason we are so harried and hurried is that we make yesterday and tomorrow our business, when all that legitimately concerns us is today. If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy.” – Elisabeth Elliot

Meeting God in the Thick of Things  – A reminder here that God is with us right in the middle of everything going on.  “We forget that God is with us. He is near, even when pea soup is scorching on the stove and the baby is screaming for attention.  Don’t get me wrong, there are times when we do need to withdraw from all the noise of life. We need to carve out crevices for solitude and reflection and prayer. I’m just uncomfortable with a tendency I see in myself to think of retreat as the only way to meet God. I forget that He is in the midst of the fray as well.”

When I Forget to Breathe  – Encouragement for those who have experienced the heartbreak of miscarriage.

All I Have is Christ  – Examining our hearts for greed and a battle plan for resistance.  “Christian, we have a greater possession than the Arkenstone. We have a treasure infinitely greater than all the gold in Erebor. His name is Jesus. To be at home with him is our great reward. He is our better possession and abiding one. We are our Beloved’s, and he is ours.  And when he is our Great Possession, dragon-sickness has lost its power, and we are finally freed to possess the kingdom our Father created us to inherit. And even on that day when we finally have it all materially, our greed-free hearts will gladly say, “All I have is Christ.”

Loving Your Husband Before You Get Married  – Single or married, the goals are the same: “Problems in marriage are always the result of self-centeredness. So the time a person spends when he is single should be time spent in preparation for marriage. This is important even if he never gets married. This is because biblical preparation for marriage is nothing more than learning to follow Jesus Christ and love one’s neighbor. In other words, preparation for Christian marriage is basically the same as preparation for Christian living.”

A Plead for Innocence  – A case made here for becoming an expert on what is true…”John MacArthur: “Don’t study false doctrine, don’t study sin, don’t study error, stick with the truth and godly obedience.” It is well and good, I think, to have some familiarity with some of the most common false teachings and false teachers. We do well to know why we are not Mormons or Roman Catholics or why we believe same-sex marriage is wrong. But it can be dangerous to immerse ourselves in false teachings and false teachers. It can be dangerous to assume that we need to have a deep understanding of error in order to hold fast to what is true.”

Jesus Flips the Switch  – A great illustration here:  “Whatever suffering you’re currently experiencing, or whatever suffering comes to you in the future, you can trust that you’re held in the hands of a sovereign King, who knows your suffering, is sovereign over your suffering, is with you (“Emmanuel”) in the midst of your suffering, and has conquered your suffering. He flips the switch, allowing suffering to refine us, not destroy us. And he does so as the sovereign ruler over all things, “the first and the last, who died and came to life” (Revelation 2:8).”

Building Loving Relationships in Your Church Family  – Article from Thankful Homemaker on the messy business that is doing life together in our church family.  “Do you look at those in your church and see them as your family?  If you are in Christ then your brothers and sisters in the faith are your family. Sometimes because they are family we can treat them like our own immediate family members.  We can hold a grudge because they said something we didn’t appreciate.  We can judge them by their words or actions.  We can speak poorly of them to others.  We so often forget they – just like us – our sinners saved by grace who don’t always look or act like their heavenly Father but look and act more like their old selves before new life in Christ.”

Put a Little Love in Your Voice  – “The trouble isn’t necessarily what we say. It’s how we say it.”

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From Adam4d as only he can put it.

Here and There (February 19)

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Women, Stop Submitting to Men?  – An interesting article by Russel D. Moore on a controversial topic.

Some links relevant to the unmarried:

20 Lessons on Dating & Love  – Samantha Loucks with some thoughtful suggestions.

Waiting for a Christ Built Man  – Leslie Ludy writes, “All too many young women lower their standards out of desperation – thinking that if they don’t snag the one guy who seems at least somewhat better than the rest, they will end up alone.  But this attitude demonstrates a lack of trust in God’s love for you and perfect plan for your life.  If you give Him the pen and allow Him to script your story, you don’t need to strive or manipulate in order to make a romance happen – He will bring the perfect guy into your life in His own perfect time and way.”

My Ugly Expectations for My Boyfriend  – Paula Hendricks over at liesyoungwomenbelieve.com shares, “As I looked at them, I realized how much culture had informed my expectations rather than God’s Word.”

And some items of interest for those of us in the trenches of parenting:

Stress is a Family KillJoy  – Jennifer Smith reminds us, “We need to be willing to reduce our stress with intentional efforts, including going to God through prayer before things escalate.”

What’s Wrong with Controlling our Children?  – Ever wondered?  Christy Halsell points out the difference between controlling our children and guiding them. “When my children didn’t do what I thought they should be doing, my mindset was that I had to make them do it.  I wish I knew then what I know now.  God doesn’t control me.   He doesn’t make me do what He thinks I should do.  Yes, I have consequences when I go too far in the wrong direction, but God doesn’t level those consequences at me with vengeance and disappointment.  He gives me consequences in love, understanding my bent for doing the things that aren’t for my best.  Love.  Understanding.  Those are characteristics I was lacking in my need to control my children.”

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“Grace” by Laura Story

My heart is so proud. My mind is so unfocused.
I see the things You do through me as great things I have done.
And now You gently break me, then lovingly You take me
And hold me as my father and mold me as my maker.
[Chorus:]
I ask you: “How many times will you pick me up,
When I keep on letting you down?
And each time I will fall short of Your glory,
How far will forgiveness abound?”
And You answer: “My child, I love you.
And as long as you’re seeking My face,
You’ll walk in the power of My daily sufficient grace.
“At times I may grow weak and feel a bit discouraged,
Knowing that someone, somewhere could do a better job.
For who am I to serve You? I know I don’t deserve You.
And that’s the part that burns in my heart and keeps me hanging on.
[Chorus:]
As I walk with You, I’m learning what Your grace really means.
The price that I could never pay was paid at Calvary.
So, instead of trying to repay You, I’m learning to simply obey You
By giving up my life to you For all that You’ve given to me.
[Chorus:]

Here and There (February 16)

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Kindle Deal highlighted:  Crushed  by Jessie Minassian $.99

Dear Mom Who Refuses to Rest  – “If you’re tired, it’s a good indication that you’ve neglected rest…and resting in Him.”

Changing Fools  – “It’s true of you today, and it’ll always be true of you until glory – your heart is susceptible to foolishness. But you also need to remember this: there is no foolishness too reckless for grace’s wisdom.”

Are You Satisfied in Jesus?  – “Imagine losing all contact with those you love. No opportunity to see your husband or friends or children, or even to hear their voices over the phone. Imagine being completely by yourself, twenty-four hours a day.  Would Jesus be enough to satisfy you?”

Contentment is Like a Discomobile  – A video (05:47) by Jessie Minassian from LifeLoveandGod.com  that explores the question: “A “content” single girl doesn’t long for a relationship on Valentine’s Day . . . does she?”

Would Everybody Please Leave Me Alone?  – “Jesus withdrew because he knew his first job was to fuel his soul by connecting with his Father—alone. He couldn’t pour out what he hadn’t first been given from God.”

10 Articles on Pornography  – A Tim Challies collection of important articles.

The Most Glorious Cure  – Do you ever think about what mark you will leave on this world when you are gone?  I do.  Here is a moving tribute to a young man who used his limited time here wisely.  “Elliott fought the good fight. He finished the race. The last time I spoke to him–a few days before he passed away–he talked about caring for his dear wife and longing for heaven. I asked him what song we could sing. He said, “In Christ Alone.” Very fitting. That’s how he lived, and that was the comfort in which he died.”

10 Scriptures for Everyday Encouragement  – 10 Scripture Verses from Creative Home Keeper that can be printed out for encouragement and reminders throughout the day.

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In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

Here and There (February 6 )

Praying for Adult Children – “When you think about it, they spend the most of their lives not as children under our roof, but as adults on their own.  That’s a lot of time to pray for them.  It’s a good thing we have a God who is trustworthy.”

9 Tips For Singles – “Singles make up a huge part of American society. We all have been—and may again be—single. According to the 2012 census, over forty-four percent of all U.S. residents ages eighteen and older are unmarried. With that in mind, here are nine tips for single Christians from nine different authors…”

And while on the topic, here is advice for anyone fearful of singleness from CCEF.

Maybe It’s Time To Get My Nails Done  – Serving God faithfully and quietly as they see a need and meet it.

Are You Fighting the Sin of Comparison?  “To love is to stop comparing.”

The Rules  – “We decided it would be best for us to teach our daughter how to navigate this new world successfully rather than just putting up a sign that says ‘keep out’. Not that there’s anything wrong with prohibition in the right circumstances. We’ve had a ‘keep out’ sign over Facebook until now (and will leave that sign in place for our younger children). There are ‘keep out’ signs over alcohol at least until they’re 18, and the ‘keep out’ signs over smoking and recreational drugs are most likely to remain for as long as we have authority to maintain it. Part of teaching our children how to navigate this world is to know where the dangers lie.”

When Weary Wants to Run, Hope Holds  – Maybe you are like me and can identify with the urge to run away from it all at some point in your life.  Stacey Thacker points out that the hope is not in the what but in the WHO we run TO.  “I’ve learned slowly that growth doesn’t happen at Disney World; it happens in the places in our lives we would rather escape. These hard places might be wrapped in the normal mundaneness of Thursday, or the grief shattering loss of a loved one. Instead of running away, the key to walking through our weariness is learning to run to Jesus, the hope of all the world. Because even through the strong urge to run, Hope willingly holds us.”

A New Approach to Friendships  –  A good read examining the question:  Do our relationships—the friends we choose and the time we spend with them—bring glory to God?

External Change  – “Husbands and wives, your spouse is not the cause of your moral failing – your own sinful heart is. Parents, your kids are not the cause of your moral failing – your own sinful heart is. Pastors, your congregations are not the cause of your moral failing – your own sinful heart is. Christian, this fallen world and the difficulties in it are not the cause of your moral failing – your own sinful heart is.”

3 Steps Closer to Patient Parenting  – “A few days back I got a text from a dear friend of mine who has two young children. Her text simply said, “I’m sinning against my kids . . .“I texted her back with words that maybe you need to hear today too: “Yes, you’re a sinner. And us moms often sin against our kids. Has it taken you to the cross? Have you gone to that place where your sin was made no more, where grace and mercy freely flow? The cross: that place (the only place!) where we are given fresh grace and new life. So often our kids are the ones who know and see our sin up close and personal. But such hope is found at the cross. Such grace. Such joy.

Whatever it takes  (as performed by Kevin Inafuku)

Whatever it takes
To keep me tender toward You,
Whatever it takes, Lord
I beg You to do.
Whatever You must lead me through,
Whatever it takes, Lord … do.

At times I hear your voice and try to hide
But patiently you draw me to your side.
I may not always see
That Your words are life to me.
So many times I’ve missed You,
Help me, Lord, to not resist You

Sometimes my heart gets hard and I can’t see
That Your correction is protecting me
But as I look within
The darkness of my sin
Breaks my heart and leaves me tender:
Gratefully I then surrender.

Whatever it takes
To keep me tender toward You,
Whatever it takes, Lord
I beg You to do.
Whatever You must lead me through
Whatever it takes, Lord,
There’s too much at stake, Lord.
Whatever it takes, Lord … do.

By Jon Mohr

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