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.”

What children should say about their parents

John Paton was a Scottish missionary to the island of New Hebrides in 1851.  This was an island full of cannibals.  In fact the only other missionaries that had ever attempted to evangelize this island were murdered and their corpses were eaten by these cannibals.  John and his wife, Mary, went to be missionaries to this island in 1858.  Three months after arriving there, his wife gave birth to their son Peter.  However, nineteen days later, Mary passed away from a tropical fever, followed by the death of his son Peter.  Despite these challenges, John served faithfully among this people group and as a result of his faithful service and God’s divine intervention, the entire island professed faith in Jesus before John died.

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John began a journal which later became published.  The first 100 pages of the auto-biography is where he talks about the influence of his parents on his life.  I wanted to give you a few quotes of what John would say about his parents:
[pl_blockquote]The very discipline through which our father passed us was a kind of religion in itself. If anything really serious required to be punished, he retired first to his closet for prayer, and we boys got to understand that he was laying the whole matter before God; and that was the severest part of the punishment for me to bear! I could have defied any amount of mere penalty, but this spoke to my conscience as a message from God. We loved him all the more, when we saw how much it cost him to punish us; and, in truth, he had never very much of that kind of work to do upon any one of all the eleven—we were ruled by love far more than by fear.[/pl_blockquote]
Another excerpt that stood out to me was the day that John describes leaving his home to attend missionary school.  He had to walk 40 miles just to get to the train station.  His godly father walked with him the first portion of the journey, knowing that accepting the missionary calling was accepting the call to leave family and probably never see them again.  Here is what happened:
[pl_blockquote]My dear father walked with me the first six miles of the way. His counsel and tears and heavenly conversation on that parting journey are fresh in my heart as if it had been but yesterday; and tears are on my cheeks as freely now as then, whenever memory steals me away to the scene. His tears fell fast when our eyes met each other in looks for which all speech was vain! He grasped my hand firmly for a minute in silence, and then solemnly said: “God bless you, my son! Your father’s God prosper you, and keep you from all evil!” Unable to say more, his lips kept moving in silent prayer; in tears we embraced, and parted. I ran off as fast as I could; and, when about to turn a corner in the road where he would lose sight of me, I looked back and saw him still standing with head uncovered where I had left him gazing after me. Waving my hat in adieu, I was round the corner and out of sight in an instant. But my heart was too full and sore to carry me further, so I darted into the side of the road and wept for a time. Rising up cautiously, I climbed the dyke to see if he yet stood where I had left him; and just at that moment I caught a glimpse of him climbing the dyke and looking out for me! He did not see me, and after he had gazed eagerly in my direction for a while he got down, set his face towards home, and began to return, his head still uncovered, and his heart, I felt sure, still rising in prayers for me.

I watched through blinding tears, till his form faded from my gaze; and then, hastening on my way, vowed deeply and oft, by the help of God, to live and act so as never to grieve or dishonour such a father and mother as He had given me. The appearance of my father when we parted has often through life risen vividly before my mind, and does so now as if it had been but an hour ago. In my earlier years particularly, when exposed to many temptations, his parting form rose before me as that of a guardian Angel. It is no pharisaism, but deep gratitude, which makes me here testify that the memory of that scene not only helped to keep me pure from the prevailing sins, but also stimulated me in all my studies, that I might not fall short of his hopes, and in all my Christian duties, that I might faithfully follow his shining example.
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