Good morning and welcome to another edition of “Links I Like,” a weekly roundup of the stories that have impacted me throughout the past few days. I hope you’ll find these as encouraging and enlightening as I did.
I would, though, like to ask for continued prayer. I had ACL reconstruction surgery on Wednesday and am now at home, recovering and rehabbing. The pain is sharp, at times, but it’s more of a nuisance than anything else. Pray I’m able to recover quickly and that I won’t get discouraged by the long road of rehabilitation that lies in front of me. Thank you!
Now, onto the links!
What if all I want is a mediocre life?
To be honest, I haven’t been able to shake this column ever since I first read it a few weeks ago. I had planned to include it in this list at that time but felt I need more time with it. You see, there’s something within us that thinks that mediocrity is failure. If you’re not excelling, what are you doing with your life? If you’re not grasping for something higher, something beyond yourself, are you wasting your days? The world asks us these questions and lays down the law: excellence is the only bar that matters. But what if Christ says something different to us? What if He says that there’s more meaning in the simple than in the significant? Indeed, that there’s more significance in the small than the big, colossal achievements? Right now I’m reading both Zack Eswine’s The Imperfect Pastor and Michael Horton’s Ordinary, and one theme that unites both books is finding purpose in the small, slow, simple life. I’m still fighting with some of the very same thoughts Krista speaks to in this piece. The internal resistance against mediocrity doesn’t let up that easy. And then I have to ask myself something Zack asks: “If I am bored with ordinary people in ordinary places, then am I not bored with what God delights in?” I pray I’m never bored with those souls right around me. I to be satisfied with the simple. Interesting and thought-provoking piece via ABC News. continue reading→
God Daily Gives Us More Than We Can Handle
Many Bible scholars and interpreters and commentators have remarked that God gives us more than we can handle so that we can learn how dependent we are on Him. Most often, this is in reference to the difficult seasons we endure, the trials that litter our lives with stress. But God’s means of teaching dependence aren’t limited to times of hardship. Every single day you’re dependent on something and someone. As Chad writes, “Being human is being in a state of constant dependence.” There’s never a moment when you aren’t reliant on someone else. Great reminder from Chad Bird. continue reading→
Recurring Failure & Never Failing Grace
The unending thread that runs throughout the tapestry of Scripture is that of God’s unfailing, unconditional grace. Go through all the stories of the Old Testament and the scenes of the New, and what you’ll find is portrait after portrait of God’s grace meeting us in failure, of His mercy coming to us even when we’re His enemies, even when we’re not seeking after it. As powerful as man’s sin is, it is nothing compared to the power of the grace of God. “Grace,” writes Mark, “that will never be extinguished by the darkness of disobedience.” Beautiful piece from Mark Johnston on Place for Truth. continue reading→
Welcome to the Team
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a sports fan. I had SportsCenter perpetually on growing up, soaking up the news and highlights and banter. I love sports. Still do. And I still hold that nothing can make two total strangers feel like family like sports can. I’ve experienced this firsthand. I remember being at Doak Campbell Stadium (where the Florida State Seminoles play) and watching a close game against NC State. Whenever the home team scored, cheers and high-fives and even hugs were passed around by folks who didn’t know each from Adam. But in that moment, they were more than friends, they were part of the team. The remarkable truth of the gospel is that we’ve been likewise chosen and welcomed into God’s team. It matters not your reputation, your résumé, your race, or your record — you are welcomed in. “Jesus picked people from the sidelines of life and chose them to join Him on a greater mission.” Great piece from Kayla Brock over on The Gospel Economist. continue reading→
Jesus Is the End of Religion
It sounds counterintuitive to say that “Jesus is the end of religion.” It doesn’t really fit the modern American concept of religious acceptance. Of course having Jesus is having religion, some might counter. But it’s not religion how you think of it. For many, being religious means believing, behaving, and belonging. It’s often summed up thinking that being a good person is good enough. But the most religious person who ever lived died for you on a cross. It’s not your religious activity that counts, it’s your faith in Another’s perfection that matters. “Jesus has already done for everyone what is impossible for any of us to do: believe in Jesus, belong to Him, and behave ourselves when we’re around Him.” Superb reflection from Donavon Riley via 1517: The Legacy Project. continue reading→
The Secret to Life
Life is a troubling thing. We want the same things — happiness, contentment, meaning, purpose, prosperity, etc. — but they always seem out of reach. Forever an inch out of grasp. But finding the abundance of life can never happen if you’re looking for it in and by yourself. We pursue things that we think will make us happy, but they only leave us emptier than before. Actually, opposite to what the world will tell you, “life is found when you let go of the pursuit of the life that you think will make you happy.” Great piece on Dead Men Stuff from Craig Miller. continue reading→
My Deepest Awareness
If we’re honest with ourselves, we’re nothing but a “bundle of paradoxes,” living life with an incredible mixture of fear and hope, belief and doubt, love and hate. But to believe in grace is to believe in a love that covers both, a love that envelopes both the good and bad of my heart. “My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.” Wonderful excerpt from Brennan Manning over on Christ Hold Fast. continue reading→
The Gospel According to Gandalf
It’s no secret that J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books are filled to the brim with religious imagery. Even though the author himself despised allegories, the Christian undertones are unmistakable and undeniable. Finding the gospel in works like these, though, as trite as that may be, I believe brings a certain crispness to the truth of God’s Word. Good thoughts from Margaret Pope via Mockingbird. continue reading→
Song of the Week
“All the Poor and Powerless” by The Digital Age.