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 (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 & There (March 16 )

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The Comparison Trap  – “Our struggles with sin aren’t identical. You may be strong where I am weak and vice versa. The Holy Spirit may be focusing His lens on an area in your life that is different from mine. The means may be different and the day-to-day outworking as well. But this is His work. Not mine. Not yours. It’s His prerogative to prune and produce fruit as He pleases for which none of us can take the credit.”

The history behind The Most Misused Verse in the Bible  – Why do we twist God’s promises—and how can we stop doing so?

Heidi Jo Fulk brings encouragement writing about A Tumor, a Setback, and a Renewed Mind  – “When faced with the trials and pain God allows in our lives, we can choose to respond with gratitude, love, service, and obedience through the power of the Holy Spirit. We can choose to focus on what God is doing in and through us in the midst of the difficulties that may be happening to us. Suffering may just be the path to becoming newly fueled to love, serve, and obey your Savior and Sustainer. How will you respond to God in the midst of the difficulties you’re facing?”

Older Men, Younger Men Need You  – Paul Maxwell writes “Older men, the younger men in your life need you more than you might know.”

Note to self:  Don’t Follow Your Heart  – “No, our hearts will not save us. We need to be saved from our hearts.  Our hearts were never designed to be followed, but to be led. Our hearts were never designed to be gods in whom we believe; they were designed to believe in God.”

“Here are nine marks that your church–even one that believes the Bible, preaches the gospel, and embraces good ecclesiology–may be unhealthy”:  9 Marks of an Unhealthy Church.

Some thoughts on Running to God With Your Doubts  – “Nowhere in Scripture does God condemn His children as they run to Him with their questions. Our gracious God tells us we can indeed ask Him to remind us of what we knew before. He knows we need Him to tell us over and over again that He loves us and that He won’t ever leave us. He knows life and the circumstances we face will cause our sinful human hearts to despair and to question what He has told us before.”

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Here and There (March 9)

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Christian Hoover shares on her decision to Stop Trying to be “All the Moms”  –  “Trying to be all the moms makes us feel better, until it doesn’t, and then we vow to do more and try harder.”

Ray Ortlund writes on  7 Ways We Can Guard and Repair Relationships.

Abiding in Christ Through Suffering and Loss  –  “So when I became a widow I had a few choices. I could wallow in self-pity, and believe me I struggled with this. Or I could run to the Lord. I could embrace my fears—and I struggled here as well—or I could embrace my Lord. I am happy to say that by his grace, I chose to abide, to rest in Him. I came to Him weary, brokenhearted, and heavy-laden, helpless to do life on my own. And he showered me with love and mercy and comfort and strength to do things I never ever even thought I would have to do.”

The Frangible Heart  – “Every peacemaker I know has had a broken heart. Yet, when hearts break in faith, trusting in the grace of God, we are not destroyed but rather strengthened for the mission at hand. When we trust that God’s grace is sufficient for us in our trials, and His power is made perfect in our human weakness, we can delight in the face of the conflict-related wounds we experience (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). When broken, frangible hearts respond in faith, hope, and love proclaiming the beautiful message of God’s love through Christ.”

Find Your Fulfillment in Faithfulness  – Part three of J.D. Greear’s excellent series Everyday Faith.  This one is addressed (for the most part) to young women.  “So if for a time God has assigned you to care for children and establish a home, find your fulfillment in knowing you have been a faithful servant, not in the praise of the world. If Jesus could find fulfillment in washing feet, you can find it in wiping butts for a season, too.”

Anna Marie Cox writes an interesting article on Why I’m Coming Out as a Christian  – “I’m not scared that non-believers will make me feel like an outcast. I’m scared that Christians will.”

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Here and There (March 11)

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An article well worth the read on The Fellowship of Suffering  – “If you are suffering, your first reaction, especially if you are early on in your suffering, is likely to find others whose suffering reconciled. The estranged couple who worked it out. The cancer patient who recovered. The parents of a rebellious child who saw their child return to the faith. But as your suffering continues, you’ll find a deep treasure in those who have endured without earthly resolution to their pain. Their perseverance will bless you as they know this world is not our home and look to the treasure that lies ahead.”

A Simple Guide to Reading and Applying the Bible with Jesus as the Hero  – “This guide is designed for Sunday school teachers, home Bible study leaders, and the Christian who is trying to be faithful to read and apply the Bible on a consistent basis.”

Parenting Means Wrestling Demons  – “If we go into the work of parenting with a Precious Moments romanticism, it won’t be long before despair sets in. It’s just too hard if we think it’s going to be easy. It’s essential to know, especially when the going gets tough, that we arefighting hell.”

Misty Krasawski brings A Scriptural Perscription for Anxiety  – “Is it possible that at least some of our anxiety is rooted in a failure to humble ourselves?  Might we find a prescription for anxiety in an unlikely place–a position of humility?”

Biblical counsel for depression in this article on Confession Meets Depression from CCEF  – “If you are a big-time confessor of sin when you are depressed—and there are a few of you—then please skip this. But if you are prone to depression, and confession is not high on your list, this might help.”

The last of J.D. Greear’s 4 part series on Everyday Faith:  Young Men, Don’t Murder Your Soul  – “Don’t be bought off by the petty little passions that promise so much and deliver so little. Look to the grace of God, so you can trade them in for real passion and real pleasure.”

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Here and There (March 2)

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Why are Homeschool Kids so Annoying?  – “And that’s why homeschooled kids are so annoying.  Because no one tells them that the way God made them isn’t cool enough.”

When you Meet Trials of Various Kinds  – “1. How I react to the trial reflects what I really care about. 2. The Lord is my only true hope and comfort. 3. The Lord was faithful yesterday, He is faithful today, and He will be faithful tomorrow.”

Three Relationship Rules  – From Ed Welch of CCEF:  “1. If something bothers you, give it to the relationship. “I am struggling with something and I think it would be best for us if we tried to talk about it.” 2. When one person is working, the other person should be working too. 3. If the other person asks you to do something and you can do it right away, then do it right away.”

Dos and Don’ts of Homeschooling to Encourage You  – Tricia Goyer shares some good ideas.

Some Common Misconceptions About Our Relationship With Sin  – Adam4d shares his thoughts regarding sin misconceptions as only he can.

Older Men, Your Best Days Are Not Behind You  –  Part 1 of J.D. Greear’s excellent series Everyday Faith.  I encourage you to read them all, but in case you don’t, I will be sharing them here because I think they are that good.  The focus of this one aims at temptations particular to those men with much of their life behind them.

The Cost of Motherhood  – A beautiful reminder by a new (again) Mom that in motherhood, “God has used little hands and little feet to help me understand that I cannot lose myself enough in the calling He has given me. And it is in the losing that something of worth is truly gained. Motherhood has cost me, but make no mistake, it hasn’t robbed me. It has given more than I could have ever hoped or imagined. It has caused me to look to the Lord and redefine what I value as important. It has changed me and grown me and helped me to value the quiet, unnoticed things.”

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