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Category: Wednesdays on the Web

Wednesdays on the Web (13/12)

Is the Pope Right about the Lord’s Prayer?

I must admit I was fascinated to hear that the Pope has done more than simply recommend that the Lord’s prayer be amended for clarity, but that he’s actually given permission for his clergy to begin using his updated phrasing. To a certain extent, language shifts (or expands) over time, and words can take on a broader semantic range. So is the Pope on the right track here?

UPDATE: Al Mohler weighs in on the discussion.

Why Invest in the Men?

The church should never lose focus on its goal to fulfill the Commission to share the good news of the gospel with those who haven’t yet heard. But the church’s ministry is two-fold, the other side of that same coin being to make those new hearers into mature believers and disciples of Jesus Christ. Here are five excellent reasons why Pastors should proactively invest in the lives of the men under their charge.

Things Pastors Should Never Say

My favourite is number 7: “I have not had time to prepare today’s sermon as thoroughly as I should have.” But in all seriousness, there are good arguments here for why pastors need to adopt a careful vocabulary which excludes these phrases.

Sex Against God

Sex is not about securing pleasure for yourself, but about giving an incredible gift to your spouse.

Should We Capitalize Divine Pronouns?

I’ve been corrected by people on both sides of this argument, and I’ve never really had an opinion—in fact I’ve been pretty ambivalent, oscilating between the two. But I very much like the argument put forward by the highly respected Mounce, and I think it just settled the argument for me. Finally.

How to Grow Your Marriage While Having Young Kids

Jen Wilkin, Melissa Kruger, and Gavin Ortlund have some sage advice on ways to invest in your marriage during the busiest season of family (and they have more kids than me, which I found reassuring).

Wednesdays on the Web (06/12)

What Student Ministry Really Needs? Homework

Jen Wilkin is on the money in this article where she communicates that teens should take Bible study as seriously as school and sports practice.

10 Must-Read Posts for Young Christian Wives

Full disclosure: I didn’t read all of the articles linked through here in full, but I poked around in most of them. They’re well written, and will provoke thought, and hopefully healthy discussion.

The inspiration of Wonder Woman & the Disappointment of its Postscript

Melinda Cousins (biblical studies lecturer at Tabor Adelaide) reflects on the success of Wonder Woman, and provides a critique of this portrayal as it continued in Justice League.

Diana Prince in 2017’s Wonder Woman is both empowered and empowering. She is heroic, brave and strong. She is the protagonist of her own story, but the men surrounding her do not appear threatened or emasculated by her. She is portrayed as clearly feminine and yet not overly sexualised. She is emotionally vulnerable, idealistic, perhaps even naïve, and her greatest strengths lie in her compassion, her love and her hope. She upends the assumptions that a parade of men make about her to ensure that she is fully heard and seen. She fires up our imagination of what a girl can be.

Go Set a Watchman

Carl Lentz is back being biblically wishy-washy on Christians ethics. Again.

The 2018 Reading Challenge is Here

I first picked up Tim Challies’ reading challenge a few years ago, and greatly appreciated the way that it forced me to read outside of my normal interests, genres, and worldview. Whether you have a kindle, a library card, your local church, or that friend with too many books at home, there’s a way to enjoy a balanced diet of books that will entertain, challenge, and motivate you to be a better person. The benefits are as plentiful as the books.

Waiting in the Dark

Advent creates space to acknowledge that God’s work of redemption is not yet finished.

God’s Will in Seven Words

The next time you or someone you care about is wrestling with the will of God, try helping them out with these seven words.

One Important Gnome

Wednesdays on the Web (29/11)

Why Seminary? Exhibit A: Joel Osteen

…formal theological training at seminary level is not a biblical prerequisite for being a preacher of God’s word. The Apostle Peter, for instance, had no MDiv degree hanging on his office wall. But I’m sure we all agree that his 24/7 intensive, three year internship with Jesus was, um …adequate preparation. But if an excellent theological education is available to you, there is wisdom in being a good steward of that opportunity.

Loving Better by Typing Less

The thing about sinful, broken people is that there is never a shortage of sin and brokenness. However, it rarely (if ever) does anyone any good to be publicly thrown under the bus for wrong thoughts, wrong actions, and wrong words. I’m an advocate for the model of church discipline that Jesus outlines in Matthew 18, and I’d be happy to see less of the former, and proportionately more of the latter.

Sometimes a Light Surprises (A Thanksgiving Poem)

If you are going through a period of spiritual darkness this Thanksgiving, let the truth of Cowper’s poem encourage you to thank God for your trial, knowing that when you least expect, God may astonish you with his truth.

Top 17 Books of 2017

Not sure where to begin with Christmas presents this year? You’re welcome.

Advent Reading Plans

We’ve been through some of these as a family (and will again). For those who need a springboard to launch family discussions around anticipating the coming of the Saviour, these are a great place to start.

28 Non-Numerical Signs of a Healthy Church

Last, do you find yourself (sorry, I meant people you know) too caught up in a church that needs to grow numerically? CT has posted a wonderful list that points us away from an interest in being “A Church Grower”, “Apostolic Multiplier”, or any other kind of numbers-centric motivator. Looking at this list, I would be so bold as to say that numbers are one of the last things from which we should measure the health of a church.

 

Wednesdays on the Web (22/11)

You Are Not Your Personality Profile

I see the value in understanding that I’m an ESTJ. At the time that I filled out the test, I paid extra to receive the extended personality profile results so that I could dig deeper into the quirks of why I am this way (because, for the most part, I fit the categories almost perfectly) and so I understand myself—particularly my flaws—better. However, Aaron is also dead right when he says here that we can take it too far.

2017 Winter Book List

It’s always helpful when someone else puts these lists together, particularly when broken down into categories that are helpful for parents with children of different ages and interests. Not to mention more than a few award-winning reads to add to my own list while I’m there.

Nerds! Get Your Greek On

I’ve studied only one Intro to Biblical Languages unit, and I’m super keen for more. One valuable resource to connect with some more intermediate courses are offered by Zondervan Academic. But in the mean time if you can’t spare the cash, ESV have made the Greek Bible available online for free. How about that.

7 Habits that make People seem Less Intelligent

You always want to put your best foot forward, right? Well here are some things from healthyway.com that you may have thought made you appear smarter, but actually don’t.

The Necessity of Effectively Communicating with Children

When it comes to children, I think there’s a fine line (which I often can’t see) between using the words we want our children to grow up into, and adopting the words that they use today. We have songs playing in our car (right now it’s Phil Vischer’s What’s in the Bible: the Songs) which use words like Pentateuch and Apostatize, which some adults still can’t define. This article presents some good thoughts on how to see that line.

SSM – What will change? What does it mean? How do we respond?

It’s simpler than you might think.

Jen Wilkin on Women as indispensable to the Church

 

Wednesdays on the Web (08/11)

Looking Like Monastics

I heartily agree with the sentiment in this article. Too often Christian women are encouraged to ‘feel all the feels’ when it comes to their faith; seeking the Spirit but discouraged from engaging the intellect. I’ve been very glad to see so many excellent women bible teachers and theologians recently, and pray this continues to increase.

Hillsong Pastor Carl Lenz in the Spotlight

Pastors can’t dodge hard questions. Pastors are appointed by God to answer hard questions. They are the figures in the cosmos who must speak the truth.

How to Revive Lifeless Prayer

Of all the spiritual disciplines, surely the most essential are bible reading and prayer. But these can be difficult, and often we go through seasons of dryness. Here are 10 tips from The Master’s Seminary on how to breath life into your prayer life.

Emotional Intelligence is a Critical Trait

On this podcast episode, Thom Rainer covers the four characteristics of emotional intelligence that are essential for a pastor/church planter.

9 Ways to Protect your Children from Sexual Abuse

Justin & Lindsey Holcomb have written an excellent book (we’ve have this on our shelf for a few years now), and have distilled a summary of the main points here.

Wednesdays on the Web (01/11)

The Proven Path to Mental Health

Christianity turns out to be the greatest, most beautiful story of redemption ever told. It addresses all our greatest and deepest needs and longings. It offers all of us the most hope, no matter who we are and how horrible we’ve been. When holistically believed and consistently lived, Christianity produces the most mentally healthy people history has ever known.

The Reformation and Doxology

A Reformed pastor from Tasmania who makes his opening argument by quoting a Christian hip-hop artist? I’m gonna read that.

Responding to CT’s Editorial Against the Nashville Statement

Denny Burk responds to the recent CT editorial in which the Nashville Statement was critiqued (which is welcome) yet Burk points out that CT utterly missed the mark when it comes to offering any kind of solid argument or scriptural basis for critique. Sorry CT, maybe next time.

The Obscenity of Indulgences

As we think about the issues surrounding the Reformation, the first one that comes to your mind if you’ve ever dipped your toe into reading about the Reformation is probably the practice of indulgences. Here’s a brief overview of the practice, why it was so wrong, and some inferred implications for the contemporary Christian.

The 95 eBooks Sale

Save up to 81% on these key eBooks on the Reformation, Reformed theology, and more.

BONUS: TGC’s Reformation 500 Statement

Wherever we find the Scriptures alone as the highest and final authority, grace alone as the only hope for sinners, faith alone as the only ground for justification, Christ alone as the only atoning sacrifice for sin, and God alone as the ultimate object of our worship—wherever we find these truths sung, savoured, and celebrated, we have reason to rejoice in the Reformation.

Prayers of the Saints Live

Launching on Nov 17, this new live album from SGM is guaranteed quality. Available for pre-order now.

Wednesdays on the Web (25/10)

4 Reasons to Make Your Kids Go to Church

Want a hot-button issue to divide Christian parents? Mike Kelly believes we should undoubtedly force our children to go to church, even when they don’t want to. Before you pick up stones, read his post.

The Solas of the Reformation: A 5-Day Reading Plan

At the time of its release, we are 7 days away from the 500th anniversary of Luther’s nailing the theses. Even putting that aside for the moment, the 5 Solas hold the key tenets of the Christian faith, and we would do well to spend time reading scripture with them in mind. This is guaranteed to be a few minutes of your next 5 days well spent.

Simple Prayers for Your Grieving Heart

The shock of loss seems to steal our breath and with it our ability to think clearly. It can be extremely difficult to think of how to pray for ourselves and the people we love so dearly. Thankfully, our faith in God and reliance on Him has greater power and yields greater results than our grief.

11 Resources about the Reformation

I’ve read (or have on my nightstand) 4 of these, and can say with confidence that Christians today have so much more to learn from the Reformation than we first realise. Keep an eye on these titles, buy them, borrow them—just don’t ignore them. Your life will absolutely be richer for it.

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Wednesdays on the Web (17/10)

Is It Really God Speaking to You?

Recently, I had a conversation with some guys about times in our lives when we’ve felt like God is speaking/confirming/leading us to do this or that (life decisions—not where to park the car). Mike Leake has a good word to add to this conversation.

Sufficient for Its Day

Here’s something totally unexpected. As a Christian, you heard certain phrases and immediately equate them to the part of the Bible you think they’re referring to (or maybe just me). I had an idea of what this article would be about and immediately put it on my shortlist, thinking it would contain good advice for Christians struggling with today. I had no idea, and what I found was a more beautiful, evocative, stirring piece that mingled sadness and joy with bright, enduring hope.

Crucify Them!

Two things continue to fascinate me about situations like this one from Melbourne over the weekend. First, the reality that Love is Love Until You Disagree (then we’ll cry “crucify them!”). The second is that Christians continue to be shocked and saddened that they’re being persecuted. Like that’s unexpected, or a new thing.

5 Psychologically Proven Ways Scripture Teaches Us to Combat Anxiety

I’ve deeply struggled with anxiety in my life and the scriptures have played a defining role in my ongoing recovery. So I want to share with you what some of the scriptures have to say about facing anxiety, and how it’s psychologically proven to be true.

A Five Minutes Guide to Better Typography

Tame the text. (please)

#MeToo — Stop Asking Women to Fix it

It’s happening in response to the revelations of widespread sexual harassment in Hollywood. But this extends way beyond Hollywood.

Too many of our sisters in our church family and too many women in our neighbourhood have experienced sexual assault or harassment. This is not right. We hear you. We believe you. We’re sorry.

Theologicon: Australia’s First Pop-Culture Conference

Take your favourite comic book characters, pop-culture icons, and silver screen superheroes, mix in theology… and you’ve got Theologicon: a conference to explore how Christians can engage with the enduring themes and questions posed within pop-culture. The timetable has been released, the topics look amazing, and the tickets are selling fast.

Wednesdays on the Web (11/10)

Serious Preaching in a Comedy Culture

David Murray has put together these relevant reflections on what preachers can learn from TED talks. He outlines seven main arguments, each of which should inform and motivate those who preach today. He writes

I am all for being natural in the pulpit. However, there are certain elements of our nature that we have to control when we are representing Christ. One of the repeated qualifications for an elder is to be “sober.” That means to be “self-controlled,” to be able to restrain and curb some elements of our nature, character and personality. In the light of the seven reasons for seriousness, I would suggest that the natural ability to make people laugh is something we should leave at the bottom of the pulpit steps. Would we crack jokes in the Oval Office?

Learning to Doubt our Fears

Obeying the command to take “every thought captive” begins with our ability to doubt our fears. But what does that look like?

Clinging to the Crutch

Anxiety is all-encompassing, and it has the potential to lead to ultimate destruction, but there’s hope in recognising that we are not in control. We are not masters of our own destiny, but rather when we lean on Christ as the One who bears our burdens and carries our very souls, we find this crutch is more than able to take the weight.

Five Obstacles that Dads Face

I’ve just spent two weeks at home spending quality time with our children while my wife was away (for the most part), and I loved being able to invest time in them, watching them grow, learn to interact, and discover. But I’m not perfect, and kids have a way of revealing the areas in which I still have a long way to go. Scott Slayton puts his finger on a few.

Don’t Freak Out if You’re not Feeling God’s Presence

If you’re dependent on an emotional experience during Sunday morning worship, or expect to always feel God while you’re in prayer, you could be running with some unbiblical thinking. Stephen Altrogge explains.

Wednesdays on the Web (04/10)

Pastor, What’s Your Point?

David Murray: Just because a sermon has points, doesn’t mean it’s got a point.

Searching for Meaning in Las Vegas

Our hearts break with the families who are still experiencing the affects of the worst mass shooting in US History. Here’s a round up of encouraging, formative, or reorienting words from Al Mohler, the ERLCGentleReformation, and Russell Moore.

Only the Christian worldview, based in the Bible, can explain why moral facts exist, and how we can know them. Only the biblical worldview explains why sinful humanity commits such horrible moral wrongs. The Christian worldview also promises that God will bring about a final act of moral judgment that will be the final word on right and wrong — as facts, not merely speculation. The Gospel of Christ points us to the only way of rescue from the fact of our own evil and guilt. -Al Mohler

Think Fake News is Scary? Try False Teaching

From Jen Wilkin (via Christianity Today):

We learn to spot a lie by studying the truth. Both fake news and false teaching bow to this principle. To help children sift the digital messages that bombard them, educators now teach media literacy in the classroom to aid critical thinking. The church must act similarly.

Let’s Get Real about Women’s Discipleship

I’ve seen some wonderful women’s resources (and women teachers) become better known in 2017. The 3 points in this post are simple yet transformative, like the gospel it encourages women everywhere to look deeper into.

A Reformation Song

This magnificent song from Bob Kauflin and Tim Chester is an example of the perfect congregational song. Engaging the intellect and declaring wonderful truths (each verse or chorus begins and focuses on one of the Five Solas) while simultaneously making the heart soar. For me, it is exactly what joining together in song is all about.

Wednesdays on the Web (27/09)

Christians, Horror, and IT

I’m not persuaded that you can be a Christian, and still find entertainment in work that is designed to glorify evil or lead people astray. Work like this is never good, no matter the craftsmanship. Tony Reinke writes

And I see this conviction as part of the answer to the most beautiful question in the Bible: “Who has eyes that will behold the king in his beauty?” (Isaiah 33:17). Answer: He “who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking on evil” (Isaiah 33:15). The beauty of God is for those who do not feed their sensory curiosities with violence and wickedness. On this basis I believe entertainment-by-gore is forbidden in Scripture, even at the level of what gets communicated to my senses as entirely fictional media.

Not all Christians hold to this position, and this article poses some interesting points about how God might use this darker genre.

Correct Ways to Correct

Addressing sin in the church is part of the function of the body of Christ we’re saved into and called to actively submit to and participate in. Christians should be characterised by their desire to become more like Christ, and a big part of this is the humility that is our necessary response to loving correction. Here’s a punchy little post about the need for correction, the goal of correction, and the (right) method for correction in the church.

5 Ways to Murder Your Marriage

This article uses irony in order to demonstrate ways that a person can destroy their marriage. These examples aren’t as rare or nuanced as you might hope.

Worship Is My Life, Not My Role

Bob Kauflin continues to encourage, convict, and spur me on to worship as a “living sacrifice”, not simply the 20-30 minutes I give God in song on a Sunday morning. He writes

Leading worship starts and ends with the way I live my life, not what I do on a public platform.

What does that look like?

Loving God More by Taking Better Care of Your Body

There’s always the risk of discussions like these being taken to far, but the benefits outlined here are obvious, and most of us recognise that we take better care of others when we also take time to care for ourselves.

 

Wednesdays on the Web (20/09)

Please Read Me Your Email

This is a terrific strategy when it comes to electronic communication, and not just when you’re a Pastor or in a position of leadership. I can see key situations being handled much better (by either the sender, or the receiver, or both) if a system like this was put in place.

Artists’ Spiritual Insights

I think that every bible college lecturer I learned from saw the value that artists throughout history have contributed through their craft to helping convey the beauty and significance of biblical truth. Take the time to pause in front of these examples and see for yourself.

Setting the Tone in Your Home

I will never forget the day that little five year old Sawyer looked up at me and said, “Mama, you’re always mad.” It was a wake up call like no other. The truth is that I hadn’t realized how irritable I had become in that phase of life. But, when he said it, scenes flashed through my mind, revealing the hard truth that I had become increasingly unreasonable in my interactions with my family. I was turning every small inconvenience into a huge show of annoyance, and even though I didn’t necessarily feel angry and upset all the time, as far as my family was concerned, I was behaving like I was.

5 Christian Comedians Who Are Crushing It

These clips will brighten your day.

What Is Biblical Meditation?

It’s funny how this conversation comes up at least once a year for me. Christianity has such a rich heritage of spiritual practices, and yet we still tend to muddy the waters which leads to well-meaning Christians seeking answers in the wrong places. This article helps by discussing what Christian meditation is, and what it is not.

So Many Different Bible Translations

Bill Mounce offers this helpful introduction to why there are different Bible translations, and why they can be trusted.

Wednesdays on the Web (13/09)

7 Standards for Good Writing

I blog because I enjoy the act of writing; the craft of forming something with words and phrases that is clear, compelling, and convicting (when the piece calls for that). As an author himself, Barnabas Piper always seeks to be a better writer, and offers these global standards to consider.

How to Journal through the Psalms

The Psalms are so important for the Christian life; in them we encounter what it really means to have a God who is big enough to relate to the full range of human emotions and we rejoice. I know a few people who have made the Psalms part of their daily bible intake, and the benefits to journaling are many. Why not put these two great things together?

Beyond Veggie Tales: Forming the Moral Imagination of Your Kids

At a recent parenting conference, Phil Vischer shares how storytelling can be an effective tool for creating a Biblical framework for imagination and creativity. Watch the (16 minutes) video here.

Churchgoing is Beautiful

If you’re a Christian, church attendance is not optional. Pause in this article and see again the beauty of attending the Sunday morning service, called and gathered by the Holy Spirit. We are called to love, and be part of, the church.

Having Mental Health Issues doesn’t make you a Bad Christian

It is tough enough combatting the stigma of mental health in a culture that prides itself on entrepreneurship, self-reliance and curating Instagram-perfect lifestyles. But as a Christian, it was even worse. Speaking up about the emotional pain I once survived or was enduring, I ran into a lie often perpetuated in our church culture about mental health and spiritual fitness: If you’re feeling emotionally broken, your faith is weak or broken.

The Christian and Tithing

 

Wednesdays on the Web (06/09)

Jesus Isn’t Calling, God Has Already Spoken

I was already on board before listening to this ep from Sheologians; having my own reservations about the popularity of Sarah Young’s book and devotional sequel, even in my own congregation.

One More Time on Game of Thrones

It amazes me that Christians are actually even posing this question, but I’ve seen it a lot. Kevin DeYoung writes with conviction and clarity, and I have yet to see an argument that could oppose his points.

MacArthur and a Response to Racism

While Australia hasn’t had an event like Charlottesville, we’re not immune to racial issues. In this interview MacArthur frames a high-level response through a Christian worldview. Honestly, this would make our world a better place.

Why I Signed the Nashville Statement

Rosaria Butterfield has an amazing story, and is a wonderfully eloquent, highly intelligent, thoroughly engaging communicator. Her book (Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert) opened my eyes to a world I knew nothing about. In this piece, she writes

The issue is not whether people are good-intentioned and sincere in desiring things that God forbids.

The issue is whether we all bear the sin of Adam, inheriting an unchosen moral deformity, an energy of opposition to God, a rebellion that bequeaths to us a sin nature that we cannot erase on our own terms and by our own hands.

The issue is whether Jesus rose from the grave, is alive today, and whether His blood and love and resurrection makes any wit of difference in how you fight the original sin that distorts you, the actual sin that distracts you, and the indwelling sin that manipulates you.

The issue is whether you can trust the Bible to tell you who you are, who God is, and which way is up.

Hermeneutics for Parenting: Obey the Word

This helpful blog reveals some common errors to avoid, and a few helpful tips for making solid, biblical applications when it comes to teaching our children the truth of scripture; and it begins with living it out in our own lives.

Wednesdays on the Web (30/08)

God Loves U-Turns

We live in a world where U-Turns are difficult at the times we need them the most, reserving them only for unusual circumstances (for safety reasons, of course). But living our spiritual lives before God is different. Living authentically with God, and for God, in this world requires innumerable U-Turns.

When I Survey – Voting for Jesus

This is a fascinating statement from Creek Rd Presbyterian regarding the upcoming postal plebiscite on Same Sex Marriage, and why Christians may vote no, yes, or abstain.

Kindness Begins at Home

The fact is nowhere am I more tempted to be selfish and lazy than in my home and my closest relationships. Here Nancy provides a poignant, personal reminder that kindness – while it might look different at home – is so important for me to be actively working on as part of my personal ongoing sanctification, but also in modelling Jesus to my family.

My 7 Least Productive Habits

Not often discussed from the negative angle, here’s a super-helpful and revealing list of activities that drain more than just productivity. I need to keep more than one of these in check.

Theologicon: Australia’s First Pop-Culture Conference

Take your favourite comic book characters, pop-culture icons, and silver screen superheroes, mix in theology… and you’ve got Theologicon: a conference to explore how Christians can engage with the enduring themes and questions posed within pop-culture. This looks like the most fun I could have on a weekend. I’ll be keeping an eye on the event page.

Wednesdays on the Web (23/08)

10 Common but Illegitimate Reasons to Divorce

This article needs no introduction, except to say that I appreciate the clarity, and all Christians would do well to be equipped with a good theology of marriage/divorce/remarriage.

Getting Bored with the Right Things

Jared C. Wilson sagely observes how Christians are all too often prone to outspoken activity (whether it be social, political, or ethical) over that which is temporary, but when it comes to the things of the gospel, we can barely keep ourselves awake.

Anxiety Resources

David Murray provides a number of helpful new books and articles. In particular, I found Before You Advise Something with Anxiety… very insightful.

God and the Transgender Debate

Christians seem to be playing catch-up o the transgender debate. Often the issue is oversimplified, and from a place of ignorance. I’ve just bought this new book from Andrew Walker, because I run the risk of being that Christian too.

Wednesdays on the Web (16/08)

A Christian Response to Charlottseville

This week, I realised that as a white Australian, I don’t have all the categories in which to process the events that took place in Charlottesville recently. My mind boggles and my emotions reel at the horrific scene and the disturbing attitudes that are still very much alive in parts of American culture. There have been any number of responses to this painful experience, including Righteously Angry, Graciously Hopeful by J. D. Greear; The Five Crowds of Charlottesville by The Cripplegate; A Time for Moral Clarity by Denny Burk; and The Gospel Coalition’s What Now in Charlottesville?

The Meaning of Marriage

David McGregor, Senior Lecturer in Theology at Tabor Adelaide offers his thoughts on Tim & Kathy Keller’s book. I love the way McGregor writes, and if you’re unsure whether you should read the Keller’s book, McGregor can show you why.

Both single and married people need to realize that, as wonderful as marriage is, it only works best if it is not held up as the ultimate in and of itself – the “Real Marriage that our souls need and the Real Family that our hearts were made for” can only be found in the love that God has for us, and our true brothers and sisters in the Christian community who share our ultimate hopes.

Be Who You Are: Teaching Kids about Gender

The second biggest topic to break my newsfeed this week was a tie between SSM and gender dysphoria. Here are some thoughtful insights about the latter.

Why We Struggle to Pray in the Digital Age

None of these are ground-breaking discoveries or insights into our technology-addicted no-attention-span society. But Scott Slayton also offers some challenging remedies which are sure to shake things up in your schedule.

Like I said, the fact that Christians do trust God in the midst of their suffering should be intriguing to atheists. What do Christians see in God that makes knowing Him worth any amount of suffering they experience? Christian, every time you trust God in your suffering, you’re making an argument for the value of God, and everyone can see it.

 

Wednesdays on the Web (09/08)

I Don’t Understand Christians Watching Game of Thrones

I don’t expect those who are strangers to the light to be bothered by the darkness. But for conservative Christians who care about marriage and immorality and decency in so many other areas, it is baffling that Game of Thrones gets a free pass.

The Gospel is the Entire Meal

Often and in various ways, well-meaning Christians may try to supplement the gospel with more “meaty” teaching; as if the gospel were a side-dish, or at best the appetizer designed to whet your appetite for the rest of the meal. But the gospel is a great and glorious meal, and the only one we’ll ever need.

On “Orthodox Christianity”

This post from James K. A. Smith encourages Christians to be more astute when it comes to employing terms like orthodox. It’s longer, but well worth the read. There’s also a very interesting follow-up article titled “Orthodoxy, Sexuality, and the Local Church” which provides some poignant food for thought.

How to Tell Your Friend the Hard Truth

Remember the gospel. Remember your need for grace.

5 Things to Know about the Transgender Debate

There’s an enormous difference between the political aspects of the culture war surrounding transgenderism and the reality that there are precious persons who have genuine struggles with gender dysphoria — a condition where a person senses that their gender identity (how they feel about being male or female) may not align with their biological sex and experiences emotional distress as a result.

Christians cannot avoid the transgender debate. In his new book Andrew Walker from the ERLC helps Christians to understand a more biblical posture towards an issue that requires equal amounts of conviction and compassion,

Wednesdays on the Web (02/08)

Making the Most of Working from Home

I’ve used Evernote for many years and consider myself a power-user, but one feature I’ve under-utilised is their blog. This post has a great deal of wisdom when it comes to successfully being able to manage your work/life balance, while also dispelling some common productivity myths.

Are You a Healthy Church Member?

A healthy church member is someone that, in one sense, shares all the sensibilities of a good pastor. They’re going to have a concern for the spiritual growth of others, they’re going to have a concern for the right teaching of God’s Word, and they will have a concern for the church’s witness to the community, for reaching their neighbors and friends. They’ll do that as people who have a high view of what it means to be a member of a church.

Read a Biography this Summer

I’ve always embraced the idea of taking rest seriously. I’m a firm believer that when we rest, we’re actually being like God.

Five Necessities of Soul Care

This month I’m reading Don Whitney’s book on Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Dave Higl from the Wesleyan Church puts his finger on five wonderful disciplines to counteract our modern mindsets of multitasking, and take time to put ourselves in a position where God can work in us for our good and his glory.

Christian Discipleship’s Most Important Ingredient

If you’re an imperfect follower of Christ like me, you’ll be grateful for Jared C. Wilson’s focus (and encouragement) in this new book.

Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of My Diving Accident

Joni Eareckson Tada reflects on 50 years of trusting God through chronic pain and quadriplegia. Joni continually teaches me more about the depth of grace and dependence on God in a way that I’ve never experienced, but long to live in.

The Enemy We Need

Russ Ramsey calls suffering “the enemy we need”. He writes

The day will come when sorrow and death will be no more. Until that day, we will struggle with the limits of living in this broken world. And we will suffer. But our Lord uses our suffering to produce endurance, which produces character, which produces a hope that will not disappoint.

And part of this character is produced when God uses our seasons of affliction to dredge the floor of the heart to bring to the surface pride, which we would never confront and may not even see if we did not suffer.

This is his merciful continuing work in me.

Bad Joke Telling

Wednesdays on the Web (26/07)

Meet the Puritans: Union and Communion

I’ve enjoyed this series, and this article is particularly comforting for those who face death, but who know of their union with Christ. Death no longer holds us captive to fear, and Jesus has made our hope for resurrection secure.

A High View of Marriage Includes Divorce

This article fascinates me, and I’ll admit I’m still thinking through all the applications for the many and varied situations that divorces arises from, and the “lies” that this author seeks to address from the gospel.

Dear Church, You’re Wrong About Sex

Phylicia gets down to business.

Dealing with Disappointment

Depak Reju has written some quality work (I have one of his books still on my wishlist) and this article further supports that statement. Along similar lines to the excellent You Are What You Love, Reju appropriately shines the spotlight back on us.

No One is Born a Child of God

This one often comes up when people talk about God being ‘unjust’ towards people, but there are plenty of other false narratives that would be corrected, if we just realised this simple truth.

The doctrine of Adoption is arguably one of the sweetest doctrines in the Bible, but it doesn’t make any sense if people are already born children of God.

Theologicon: Australia’s First Pop-Culture Conference

Take your favourite comic book characters, pop-culture icons, and silver screen superheroes, mix in theology… and you’ve got Theologicon: a conference to explore how Christians can engage with the enduring themes and questions posed within pop-culture. This looks like the most fun I could have on a weekend. I’ll be keeping an eye on the event page.

Wednesdays on the Web (19/07)

Fill out a short form to get this free e-book from Mark Dever on the gospel & personal evangelism.

The Radical Difference between Believers and Unbelievers

Different worldviews, different rules, different kingdoms, and ultimately different kings.

Every Book of the Bible in One Word

There were a number of reasons why I really enjoyed this. A good summary helps my memory, but also asks me the question “do I know why that is the word chosen for this or that book?”

It’s a Date Night: What Did You Expect?

Joshua Waulk via Balight Counselling:

“It may seem like a settled matter to some, but from the first session of counseling I hold with any couple, I seek to convince them of the primacy of hope in Christ and his gospel alone for their marriage, rather than any particular tool, intervention, or methodology that we may discuss or employ. This would include, for example, date nights, even if they appear to have been helpful, or the latest best-selling book on marriage, even if it’s all the rage in the Christian blogosphere.”

The Agonizing Ordeal of Eugene Peterson

Thoughtful reflection from Albert Mohler on the brouhaha that was Eugene Petersen last week. How can I look at the cirumstances, actions, reactions, recants, re-reactions, and consider how I might learn from this. Not only to ensure I always speak with truth and clarity but to avoid – as Mohler suggests – being next.

The Words of my Mouth

This honest piece is very relatable; both as who I am, and who I strive to be. A good reminder of the wisdom that came from the brother of Jesus. Lore Wilbert writes:

I have spent decades trying to figure out how to bridle my tongue, going from one extreme to the other, from utter silence to rampant zingers. This discipline of letting the Word of God be my bit and reins for a bridled tongue is the only thing that’s changing me really, from the inside out.

 

Luther: The Man and His Theology

This event is happening in Brisbane next week, and tickets are almost sold out. Come and celebrate 500 years of Martin Luther’s legacy; and learn not only about the man and his theology, but why the Reformation still matters for Christians today. (At the very least, come and get the free CSB Bible for attendees)

Wednesdays on the Web (12/07)

Good News for Difficult Times

Our circumstances may be difficult, even insurmountable, but we have good news to preach to ourselves that will change the way we respond to difficult circumstances.

Scott Slayton provides a valuable reminder here (rooted in Romans 8 and coupled with Martin Lloyd-Jones’ Spiritual Depression), which I really need to read.

You May Not Love What You Think

A timely reminder for me, as I’ve just finished reading James K. A. Smith’s book on this. Here, he writes “how are you curating your heart?” through the activities you invest in and the priorities you choose (consciously or subconsciously). How do we engage in self-awareness rooted in scripture for the good of ourselves, our families, and the glory of Christ?

The Law of Love

Barnabas Piper writes for hereadstruth.com (follow it, if you don’t already) about law, Christian liberty, and love.

What Hogwarts Can Teach us about Friendship

…friendships are part of the triumph of the good. The final victory over evil demands love seasoned through the years. Every time that Harry tries to accomplish by his own strength, even if his motivations are noble (like keeping his friends out of harm’s way), Ron, Hermione, and others intercede on his behalf.

What Augustine’s ‘Confessions’ Taught Me About Parenting

Even if you’ve never read Augustine, there’s gold in this post.

What is the Purpose of Fasting?

I’m currently reading my second book by Don Whitney, this time Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. The book is full of insight into how to understand and mature your Christian faith, and the many benefits that come from intentional investment in relationship with God. Here’s a short clip on one discipline that I found helpful.

Wednesdays on the Web (05/07)

4 Essential Tips to Transform your Bible Reading Experience

Every Christian knows the importance of this fundamental means of grace. Scripture is one of the primary ways through which God speaks to his people today. And yet, we’ve all experienced peaks and troughs as we engage in this discipline. Time to get back on track? Try this.

Resources During Suffering and Lament

Suffering isn’t a question of if; so when the storms come, I would like to have a solid foundation under me. Having my feet firmly cemented in these truths is what I need.

Make Time to be Bored

It’s school holidays for us right now, and boredom is a very real thing. But is it a thing to be avoided? And what about the adults? This is a worthy reminder.

5 Questions to Ask Singles Instead of “How’s the Love Life?”

We all know single people. Beautiful, ambitious, life-giving people who just happen to not be married right now. While culture is in a state of fluidity and liberty when it comes to relationships and the status of being “married”, there’s a lot more to a person that this; why not get curious about something different?

The Order Matters

It mattered to them, and it matters to us.

 

Wednesdays on the Web (28/06)

Most Christians Have Non-Christian Worldviews

While this is written from the American church perspective, I found it interesting as a launchpad for discussion, particularly in light of the recent Australian census data. I find it fascinating that so many Christians look down on other Christians because of their ‘sheltered’ or ‘myoptic’ worldviews, but the title of this article is revealing, and shows us how much we still have to have our minds renewed.

A Painting of Come Lord Jesus, be our guest…”

A dearly loved friend introduced me to this prayer a few years ago, and only recently had I come to appreciate the beautiful theology behind it.

Meet the New ‘Twicer’

“I came across an interesting expression recently: the twicer.1 From what I understand, ‘the twicer’ used to refer to the person who went to church twice a day (think of the days of morning and evening prayer). It then began to refer to the nominal churchgoer who would attend twice a year, the ‘Christmas and Easter’ Christian. When I heard the phrase recently, it was used to refer to the committed churchgoer. That is, to describe a regular churchgoer—who attends church just twice a month on average.”

Analyzing Annihilationism

While discussions about eternal destinations should be carried out with sensitivity, urgency and (often) through tears, the guys at The Cripple Gate speak clearly and biblically to questions relating to Hell. There’s some truth in here for those who would hold a Universalist position too, particularly in the statements from fathers of the faith throughout history at the bottom of the article. I think it’s important to know the truth on matters like this; though they are difficult, they too point us to Christ.

How to Stay Productive while Living at Home

Easy to talk about. Easy(ish) to implement. Sticking with it? Well, that often feels like pushing a boulder, up a hill, in a snow storm (without pants).

A Spiritual Barometer Check

This quick post poses questions that are well worth returning to on a regular basis. Growth must be intentional, and have checks and balances to make sure we’re getting somewhere.

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

I appreciate this piece from Jessica Hughes so much. Too often in the West we suffer from a sort of ‘destinationism’; the feeling that what we’re doing isn’t important enough (yet), that we’re made for something more, something less mundane, and we need to keep striving to find our fulfillment. This article is filled with grace and gives peace.

A New (and important) Site You Need to Check Out

Gospel in Society Today is a committee of the Presbyterian Church of Queensland. Their purpose is to write about complex issues and how to think through them as people who love Jesus. Their newly launched website already has papers on issues such as how to think carefully about domestic violence, transgender and sexuality, the environment, and more. This is well worth keeping track of, and the committee love interaction, so get on a discuss these important issues.

 

 

Wednesdays on the Web (21/06)

Stop Telling Me God is My Father

In light of American Fathers Day recently, this article provides a poignant perspective from a person whose story is more common than we realise, and yet we can be remarkably dismissive through our Christian clichés.

The Problem with Pet Sins

There’s a number of reasons why I find this post fascinating and valuable. First, because I’m currently reading James K. A. Smith’s You Are What You Love in which I’m seeing more clearly the importance of self-awareness when it comes to re-calibrating our hearts away from the practices of the world and forming habits that align our spiritual compass to the ‘true North’ of Jesus Christ, and second because it answers the popular question of “Does God always answer prayer?” with the less popular “Actually, no”.

Sin is Cosmic Treason

North Pine Baptist Church is currently in a series on Heaven & Hell, and this continues to prompt a number of questions (some healthy, some less so) about God’s love vis-a-vis his righteous justice when it comes to eternal destinations. This post adds value to that discussion by reminding us of the seriousness of sin, the scandal of the cross, and God’s glory displayed in and through everything he does.

Re-calibrating Life

This short post continues a theme I’m seeing in my reading lately; one of reorientation away from the things of the world that would seek to distract, depress, or destroy and lift one’s eyes to him who redeems and restores. In this author’s case, the Psalms are a helpful way to still our souls and fix our eyes on Jesus.

10 Things You Should Know about God’s Attributes

Easy to read and with plenty of headings, this is a list that you could skim through in under a minute. And yet, I’d encourage you to pause; smell the flowers, touch the leaves, turn over the stones. These attributes are wondrous, and they lead us to worship.

3-2-1: The Story of God, the World, and You