Good Reads: A late October 2018 edition

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After a hiatus, we are back and sharing a collection of blogs or articles on topics that are relevant for our church body. We hope it edifies you, makes you think, or teaches you something that you can apply in your life. Here’s to learning and Good Reads!  They are organized by topic, so feel free to skim and find something relevant to you. 

Discipleship

Quit Asking God to Join Your Side:  Eric Geiger:  I need to stop bringing my plans to God and hoping He will bless myagenda. As a parent, I need to stop praying God will help my plans for my kids come to fruition. Because when I became a Christian, those plans aren’t really mine anymore anyway.

15 Scriptures for Your Kids When Dealing with Racism:  If you are like me, you wish by now we would have decided as humans to treat others the way we want to be treated. You wish the next generation would be further along than we are and that racism would be a thing of the past. The reality is kids today are still battling this issue. If your kids have come home in tears after being bullied for their race, here are 15 truths to talk about as a family.

He will hold me fast:  Here’s the story and theology behind a great song. “Paul pressed on. He was diligent. He labored. He applied himself. He strained to endure and increasingly make Jesus his own. But he knew that all his striving and enduring was enabled decisively by the power of Christ, who had made him his own and would certainly hold him fast.”

Leadership

Do you fight the comparison game?  Are you content with who you are and who you’re becoming? Are you focused on running the race marked uniquely for you? What steps can you take to compare and criticize less? Make a commitment today to become more secure in your own calling and celebrate the Kingdom success of others in the trenches of ministry.

Practical Ministry

The Duties Required by the Ninth Commandment in a Social Media World:  “With the rise of modern communications technologies, and especially social media, I am convinced we need to diligently apply ourselves to a fresh consideration of all this commandment requires of us.”

10 Simple Ways to Reach Your Neighbors for Jesus:  Most believers will never share the gospel with anyone, and many will never even invite anyone to church. Sometimes, in fact, we overstate the hard work of evangelism, and our folks never even try to reach anyone. Here are some simple ways to start correcting this problem by reaching your neighbors….

Relationships

Rebuilding Parental Authority:  Parental authority is not about force, or power, or dominance. It is about wise influence. It is about relationship and Christ-like leadership that values the good of those being led. So, instead of becoming more authoritarian with your kids, invest in your relationship with them. Show them you care and are committed to their good. It may not be well received at first, and it may take time. You may need to limit activities, time with their peers, and the multitude of ways your family gets pulled away from each other—but the results are well worth the effort.

3 Ways the Gospel Changes the Way You Apologize: “Christians, of all people in the world, should be the best apologizers. Not because they necessarily have more to apologize for, but because the gospel frees us to apologize rightly, changing our apologies in at least these three ways:”

12 Questions To Ask Ourselves In Conflict:  “Usually our first impulse in conflict is to look at all the ways the other person is wrong. All the ways they hurt us or messed up or all the ways they are thinking incorrectly about an issue. But over the years I have found it helpful to examine myself before focusing on the other person. Here are 12 questions I have found helpful to ask myself when I find myself in conflict:”

Discernment in Marriage:  “Areas that need to change will vary in every marriage. When it comes to our spouse, we must remember that there are things to let go of and things we can not let go of. There are things to be overlooked and things that must not be overlooked. We need wisdom and discernment from God to know the difference.” We sure do, even after 20 years of it!

You Won’t Make It Alone – Five Reasons You Need Good Friends:  “What next steps might you take to cultivate deeper friendships? Identify a few people and plan time to get together, such as a weekly rhythm of coffee or lunch. Reach out to a friend you’ve lost regular contact with. Plunge your conversations below the shallows and into the deeper waters of life. Oxygenate your friendships with affirmation and encouragement. God helping us, let’s make it to our deathbeds without relational regret.”

Good Reads – May 5, 2018

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Every month, we’ll be sharing a collection of blogs or articles on topics that are relevant for our church body. We hope it edifies you, makes you think, or teaches you something that you can apply in your life. Here’s to learning and Good Reads! 

Discipleship

When My Anger Collided with the Goodness of God:

Shortly after my second miscarriage, my heart filled with doubt about the goodness of God. Though I had initially experienced a sense of peace, as I moved forward, I had no desire to be with God.  I tried to read the Word, pray; and spend time with God, but the thought of Him just made my heart sick. I didn’t want Him. Every time I read the Bible, I saw how God had control of fertility, and it made me angry. Though some of these stories ended well, I didn’t know the end of our story. How can I trust God and go to him when he totally uprooted my dream? He seemed distant and unkind in this particular season of my life.

Leadership

The Importance of Integrity in the Small Things:

A lack of integrity in small things rarely ends with the small things. Please note: I am not suggesting that lying and deceiving others about a race is a small matter, but surely embezzlement and involvement with cocaine are more devastating. And a lack of integrity in so-called minor areas of one’s life typically grows and multiplies to other areas. Here are three common ways a lack of integrity multiplies in someone’s life….

The Humble Leader:

So how can leaders recognize our drift from humility to pride?  Look for entitlement. Entitlement always rises as pride rises. It is impossible to be filled with humility and a sense of entitlement at the same time. Whenever we feel we are owed something, it is because we have forgotten that God is the One who gives all good things.

Practical Ministry

Engaging Culture Well: How to Share Your Faith Critically and Contextually Today:

The message of Christ’s redemptive love and free gift of forgiveness for all has been the force behind centuries of social change. Christians who understand the implications of this gospel can’t help but find ways to apply its principles as they live and work in secular society.  For obvious reasons, however, cultural engagement brings with it unique challenges and complications. Many find themselves wanting to charge in, speak prophetically, criticize openly, and then expect to wait and watch for meaningful change to occur. But as Christians work to identify issues of concern in communities—either our own or those elsewhere—a posture of respect becomes critical.

Trust God With The Spiritual Gifts He Gives:

In our sinful state, our hearts wander into covetousness, comparison, and criticism when it comes to the gifts God gives his people. Instead of seeing what God has graciously given—our spiritual gifts, opportunities, and influence—we often fixate on what he hasn’t given us.

Relationships

3 Disastrous Dating Mistakes:

One way of learning how to do something is by watching someone else do it poorly.  Consider how Samson went about finding a wife. I once heard a dating talk entitled, “The dos and don’ts of dating.” Unfortunately, in chapters 14–16 of the book of Judges, we find only the don’ts of dating. There are no dos in Samson’s story. He did everything wrongly.

The Power of Saying Sorry:

Apologizing is hard because it goes against our grain. Our natural bent is to think we have it all together and to let our pride insulate us from our faults. But when you say “I am sorry” and you acknowledge that you have done something less than stellar, you have to come face to face with the fact that you don’t have everything down perfectly. It can take it out of you emotionally to have to say “sorry.” It can bring disappointment, not just with how you view yourself, but also in how you think others view you. It can bring friends along with it, so that past failures and mistakes are remembered and cause added torment.

Make It Easy for Your Kids to Love God:

Your children need something more than to be fortified against sin. They need to be inspired toward God. Tell them, with all the confidence that Proverbs 8 warrants of his joyous wisdom across the whole of life. Prove to them, by the very ethos of your home, that the Lord is good. Let them see that faith in you, and the glory of the Lord will be hard for them to resist.

Recommended Reading

The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World by Rosaria Butterfield:

What did God use to draw a radical, committed unbeliever to himself? Did God take her to an evangelistic rally? Or, since she had her doctorate in literature, did he use something in print? No, God used an invitation to dinner in a modest home, from a humble couple who lived out the gospel daily, simply, and authentically. With this story of her conversion as a backdrop, Rosaria Butterfield invites us into her home to show us how God can use this same “radical, ordinary hospitality” to bring the gospel to our lost friends and neighbors. Such hospitality sees our homes as not our own, but as God’s tools for the furtherance of his kingdom as we welcome those who look, think, believe, and act differently from us into our everyday, sometimes messy lives—helping them see what true Christian faith really looks like.

Good Reads – April 5, 2018

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Every month, we’ll be sharing a collection of blogs or articles on topics that are relevant for our church body. We hope it edifies you, makes you think, or teaches you something that you can apply in your life. Here’s to learning and Good Reads! 

Discipleship

How the Resurrection Reshapes Success and Regret
If you had definitive proof of an afterlife, how would you respond? If you knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, you’d enter another life after you die, what would you do? Would you pull the trigger?

Leadership

8 Ways To Find Greater Focus
The truth is that while many of us pride ourselves on our ability to multitask, it actually works against us. When it comes to attention and productivity, our brains have a finite amount of mental energy.  While we’re constantly switching rapidly from task to task, every time we switch tasks, it consumes mental energy. As mental energy reduces, so does creativity and productivity.

Practical Ministry

4 Ways Christians Should Share Their Faith That Are Actually Effective

What does evangelism, what does making disciples, look like in our post-Christian, post-modern, post-truth, post-everything world? Put simply, how do we share the Gospel in the age of unbelief?

All About Relationships

6 Reasons Why Raising Generous Kids Will Change the World
Generosity isn’t just about giving money. It’s about sharing what we’ve been given. When we raise kids in this vein, we are raising kids who leave more than they take, give more than they receive, share their faith and meet the needs of others.
Christ-Centered Friendship
Friendship is vital to our growth and endurance as Christians, but friendship is the type of relationship we do not often learn about in the church.

Just for Laughs

How To Argue On The Internet: A Step-By-Step Guide
Satire:As the nation continues to grow more and more polarized, we find ourselves encountering worldviews diametrically opposed to our own day in and day out, especially on the internet. How do we effectively engage with those viewpoints?

Recommended Reading

The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place. ($2.24 on Kindle)
Making conscientious choices about technology in our families is more than just using internet filters and determining screen time limits for our children. It’s about developing wisdom, character, and courage in the way we use digital media rather than accepting technology’s promises of ease, instant gratification, and the world’s knowledge at our fingertips. And it’s definitely not just about the kids. – A Must Read for Every Family