Hello and welcome to another edition of “Links I Like,” a weekly collection of the stories and sites that have encouraged and enlightened me throughout the past week. I hope you’ll find them just as encouraging and enlightening.
Be sure to sign up for my newsletter to get a brand new, freshly edited, free copy of Octavius Winslow’s superb 31-day devotional, Thus Saith the Lord. Just fill out the box to the right or click here to do that.
A Call to Reform
The notion of being a “Protestant” is misconstrued in many respects. Some see only the “protest” of Protestanism, and set about looking for all many of ways to fight general order of things. But, as Obbie explains so well, a Protestant is first found not in conflict but in revival. “Protestants are a people of revival. Hence reformation not only birthed Protestantism; it remains its driving force.” Juxtaposed against modern Protestants, who are mostly known for only what they’re against, historic Protestants are people who’ve been captured by sola fide and sola gratia through the proclamation of sola Scriptura. Superb piece from Obbie on the Church’s notion of semper reformanda. continue reading→
As much as I can, I shy away from confrontation. I loathe the uncomfortableness this feeling brings. And for as much as I might sanctimoniously claim that I’m upholding peace by avoiding conflict, I’m actually doing the opposite. I’m stirring up more conflict. I’m making way for more false peace. As Becky writes in this excellent piece over at Gentle Reformation, “True peacemaking is not silence, it’s not getting over things, it’s not false apologies; but an honest, unapologetic attack on injustice, falsehood, and sin.” Peace is violent. It’s bloody and uncomfortable and awkward. Christ proves this and shows this no better than on the cross, where He became the ultimate peacemaker, appeasing the Father’s wrath. These are some great words on what true peace looks like. continue reading→
What a Madman Taught Me About Prayer in Life’s Chaotic Times
The Psalms are generally considered to be the most beloved book of the Bible. It doesn’t take long to understand why either. The rawness of the psalmist’s language gives the entire book a sense of relatablity that the majority of us find engaging and enthralling. In the Psalms we get a look into the human soul. But, more than that, we get a look into a soul that’s constantly terrified but always knows where to run. As much as David’s life seemed chaotic and out of control, his cries to God were the only constant. “It seems to me,” writes Chad, “that there is an unspoken but vital truth in this prayer. The more out-of-control our lives become, the more stable and predictable prayers can be.” These words from Chad Bird are extremely encouraging, especially for those who might be enduring turbulent times right now. continue reading→
Singleness Does Not Equal Solitude
I am continually impressed with my sister’s blog, Till This Moment. She writes on Christianity and singleness, and finding the humor and grace in it all. I love what she’s doing and what she’s writing, especially because I think it’s so relevant for young people today, especially young women. If you haven’t yet, definitely take the time to read Bethany’s stuff. I know you’ll be encouraged if you do. continue reading→
Running on Empty
I read somewhere that preaching salvation by works to sinners is like shouting to a drowning man, “Swim harder!” It doesn’t do anything except add to the bedlam and confusion of the moment, and, perhaps, might actually aid in the man actually drowning. Such is what some preachers do week in and week out. By preaching a message of coercive obedience to people running on empty, he thereby helps in them remaining in their emptiness. He never fills them up with the grace of Christ’s that’s necessary for actual, God-fearing obedience. Pastors, don’t just “namedrop” Jesus. Instead, refuel your church by preaching Christ, the crucified, risen One who lives and moves on your behalf. Beautiful piece by Paul Dunk. continue reading→
Walking on Waters of Baptism
One the grandest gospel scenes you’ll ever find is when Jesus walks on the water to disrupt the fears of the trembling disciples. So much is packed into this singular event that it’s hard to decipher all that’s going on. But, to be sure, what we can’t forget to notice through it all is “the One who walked on water walked up to Jerusalem for you.” It is Jesus, the Son of the Living God who walks on the waters on behalf of the apostles, on behalf of us. He comes and says to us, “Take heart; it is I, your redeemer who speaks to you. It is I, Emmanuel, God with you.” It is this Jesus that we must see. The hand that reached out to Peter is the same hand of grace that’s extended to you. “The feet that stood on that water, are the same feet that were nailed to a cross for you.” Wonderful words from Kathy Strauch via The Gospel Economist. continue reading→
The Grace of Becoming Less
More than ever, the clarion call of the old Adam lurking inside of every one of us shouts for us to be significant. Indeed, the quest for significance is an insatiable temptation that affects us all. But, as John the Baptist shows, the call of the second Adam is for us to become less. It is not us nor our ministries that should take the spotlight, it’s Christ Himself, the Lord, the Savior, the Light. He is to be the center of our service. This is what the gospel empowers us to do. It grants us the grace to become less. Superb words, here, from Charles M. Barrett via The Christward Collective. continue reading→
The Forgotten Pastor
One of the more frustrating things about teaching weekly on Sundays is when you try to recap previous lessons only to realize that your students weren’t really listening. The old Adam in me gets quite perturbed when this happens. I mean, I’d spent hours crafting a lesson that would point and pour Jesus into the hearts and lives of these youngsters, and they don’t even have the decency to remember anything I said? It’s then that the Holy Spirit usually interjects my thoughts with the reminder that I’m, once again, missing the point of ministry. As Matthew delineates so well in this post, the purpose of ministry is to become memorable. continue reading→
Song of the Week
“King of My Heart” by Bethel Music, featuring Steffany Gretzinger. This comes off the newest record from Bethel Music, Starlight, which is now available for download.