Satan

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      Why the Devil Didn't Think He Won When Jesus was on the Cross: I hadn't thought this through as clearly until I read this JA Medders post. His final reason is the strongest: " Fifth, as Jesus was hanging on the cross, he is tempted to get himself down from the cross. Why? This would cease his substituting death for us—Satan wouldn’t be disarmed and defeated. But Jesus did the Father’s will, he died and rose again for us. Defeating Satan every step of the way."

2.      How to Mend a Relationship That has Been Broken for Years: Vital Signs delivers consistently difficult, but healthy advice on matters related to conflict: Joseph Grenny offers, " I have come to believe that my capacity for joy in life is a function of my capacity to love imperfect people. And the most aggressive calisthenics of that capacity is practicing vulnerability at times of the most acute emotional risk."

3.      Seeing the Individual's Face: Jennie Cesario with one of the most beautiful reflections I've read in a while: "[T]o grow in the love of God is to expand my heart and vision in this way. To, little by little, allow more faces to become particular to me, more faces to become dear — whether they’re next to me in a church pew or against me in the voting booth; whether they’re my kindred or my worst enemies."

4.      What Teens Value Most: Helen Gibson reports on Pew Research Center's latest poll on teens. In it, having a career they enjoy ranks first, then helping others who are in need, and third is having a lot of money. Getting married is fourth and having children is fifth with less than 40% of teens saying they desire to have children one day.

5.      Is God Anti-Gay? Sam Alberry reflects on this big question during a Gospel Coalition panel (this is a podcast).

The Light and You

The Light and You

I was born in Fairbanks, Alaska. During the dead of winter, there are several weeks where the sun skims the horizon for a mere four hours a day.[i] If you move north to the Arctic Circle, there are days with no sunlight at all.

Can you imagine a world without light? A world where you can’t see your hand in front of your face?

A world without light is a world of terror and fear. It is a world where nothing is revealed and everything is hidden.

Jesus tells us that the world was dark before he came into it. In John 8:12 he tells us that he is the light of the world. Without Jesus the world is utter blackness.

And we are made to be the light. But before we can become the light, we need to have the light illuminate any darkness in us.

In Luke 8, Jesus talks about the lamp that comes into our lives: “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.”[ii] 

This passage is usually misunderstood.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      Almost Half of US Births Happen Outside of Marriage: Riley Griffin reports, " Forty percent of all births in the U.S. now occur outside of wedlock, up from 10 percent in 1970." In addition, " The average age an American woman has her first child is now 27, up from 22 in 1970."

2.      The Solution of Our Political Problems is Believing in Satan: Michael Bird has a surprising suggestion regarding our devolving political climate: believe in Satan. He says, " [U]nless you believe in demons, you will begin to demonize whatever political apparatus you find yourself opposing. You will treat your political and cultural opponents not as compatriots with wrong opinions, but as the ultimate enemy of the human race, and imagine that you are involved in a life or death struggle against them. And that, in turn, justifies whatever you think you need to say about them or do to them in order to stop them."

3.      5 Troubling Shifts that Mark Modern Culture: JP Moreland's list is insightful. He says, " The second shift is in the realm of guidance for living one’s life, and it goes from truth to the immediate satisfaction of desire."

4.      Don't Reap the Edge of Your Field Michael Kelley on Old Testament harvest laws and the application to our lives: "God did not want His people reaping to the edge. He wanted them to have some margin at the end of their rows. Now, before we disregard this verse as something inapplicable to us, consider why the Lord would make this command. It wasn’t just about preserving His own people. He didn’t tell them to create this kind of margin because doing so is personally healthy and psychologically balanced. He gave the command for the sake of other people who might wander into those fields."

5.      Baffling Illusionist: This is a really impressive act... a lot of fun to watch and slow down to try to figure out.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       The Loneliness Epidemic: In a world more connected than ever, we have a significant loneliness problem, Bob Smietana shares, "More than half of Americans (56 percent) say they feel lonely, even when surrounded by other people. Forty-six percent say they feel no one knows them very well. Thirty-six percent believe there is no one they can turn to—at least some of the time. Nearly 1 in 5 say they don’t have people they can turn to (19 percent) or talk to (18 percent), according to a new survey of more than 20,000 Americans from Cigna, a global health service company."

2.       The Soul Mate Fantasy: David Beasley says that the idea of a soul-mate isn't just wrong, it's harmful: "Nowhere in the Bible does God say anything about soul mates. God gives us the simple details on how to have a great marriage: Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. Wives, respect your husbands."

3.       Moms Need Soul Care Over Self CareMaggie Combs with wisdom for men and women alike: "It's almost impossible to visit a motherhood website, blog, or play group without running into it. The concept of self-care is simple: If the plane is going down, you should put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others. But if your motherhood plane is about to crash and burn, God is the only source for the oxygen you need to survive the fall. Self-care encourages coffee runs, nap times spent reading novels, pedicures, happy hour with girlfriends, new clothes, massages, exercising, decorating homes, and lavender bubble baths. There is nothing inherently bad in this list, but the problem lies in the elevation of these good things as necessities for surviving (or even thriving in) motherhood."

4.       Good News! Satan Wants to Destroy You! Derek Rishmawy reminds us that alongside the very real and active presence of our adversary, God is at work: "But Christ has robbed those accusations of their force by wiping away our guilt through his death on the cross (Col. 2:14). And he sends the Spirit of God not as our Accuser but as our Advocate, testifying to our hearts that we are God’s dearly loved children."

5.       Culture is the Hardest and the Last Thing Changed: Eric Geiger with a good word to leaders, "I frequently hear leaders talk about changing the culture as if it is their first order of business. An inexperienced and unwise leader declares, “I am going to change the culture.” Leader, if you change the culture, it will be the last thing you change. Not the first. You can’t simply speak a new culture into existence. You are not God. You may desire to influence the culture but you are woefully mistaken if you think you can show up and announce a new culture.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.    The Respectable Idol of Work: I identify with Kathryn Butler’s story of her safe idol of workaholism, “After the accident, colleagues and mentors applauded me as altruistic, selfless, and committed. They nicknamed me “Mighty Mouse.” Around corners, I overheard fellow residents remark about my dedication and strength. Overnight, I transformed from an insecure trainee who endlessly fumbled to the one whose allegiance to the job superseded concerns for herself. To someone scrambling for worth in the dark, the accolades were intoxicating.”

2.    10 Things Your Pastor Needs You to Be: Tim Stevens with a great list. A few of the great points on his list: 1. A Momentum-Increaser; 3. A Silo-Destroyer; 6. An Innovative-Thinker; 8. An Integrity Keeper; 10. A Lifelong Learner.

3.    The Scripture-Alone Life: What does the Reformation doctrine of sola scriptura (Scripture Alone) have to do with my life? Steve DeWitt shares, “God’s Word over us is the final authority. God’s Word under us is the foundation of promises. For either of these to be effective, we must have God’s Word in us.”

4.      10 Things You Should Know About Temptation: This is a long and helpful post both theologically and practically. A few of the gems Sam Storms offers, "Temptation is often strong because it comes in the form of an enticement to satisfy legitimate needs through illegitimate means." " Satan especially likes to tempt us when our faith feels strongest, i.e., when we think we are invulnerable to sin. If we are convinced that we have it under control, we become less diligent. 'An unguarded strength,' said Oswald Chambers, 'is a double weakness.'" " Satan also likes to tempt us when our faith is being tested in the fires of affliction. When we are tired, burnt out, persecuted, feeling excluded and ignored, Satan makes his play. His most common tactic is to suggest that God isn’t fair, that he is treating us unjustly, from which platform Satan then launches his seductive appeal that we need no longer obey." 

5.      Science is Giving the Pro-Life Movement a Boost: Last week we reflected on the 45 years that have passed since Roe v. Wade. Emma Green gives us reason for encouragement, "These advances fundamentally shift the moral intuition around abortion. New technology makes it easier to apprehend the humanity of a growing child and imagine a fetus as a creature with moral status."

6.    When You Celebrate Too Early: This soccer goalie will never forget that crucial lesson after his horrible-no-good-very-bad play.

The Danger of Ingratitude

The Danger of Ingratitude

There is a deadly poison that contaminates the air we breathe. It’s a poison that, if we are aware of it at all, seems innocuous to us both because everyone else is breathing it in, and as far as we’re aware of it, others are breathing more of it in than us.

The poison is ingratitude. And it is everywhere.

Everything (that I don’t have) is Awesome

Psychologists agree that social media has made us less happy. Why is that? Because the constant access into others’ lives taps into our propensity toward ingratitude. We are surrounded by neighbors with nicer cars, friends who take better and longer vacations, couples who are happier, and everyone seems to be fitter and better dressed than we are. And it’s all there for us to see tucked into that powerful, shiny rectangle in our pockets. Every minute of every day.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      An Adorable Duet: A four year old and her dad sing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”... yup, it’s just as cute as is sounds.

2.      Don’t Let Satan Blackmail You: Tony Reinke: "In Christ we walk in the light of freedom that repels back into the shadow the greatest blackmailer this world has ever seen.”

3.      Which Degrees Are Create the Best Stewards? This fascinating study considered which degrees produce the best credit scores and the least amount of debt. Hint: that MBA isn't likely to help you out with your debt load! And hurrah for pharmacists!

4.      Boring Men and the Women Who Love Them: Ann Voskamp reflects on the real truth about romance and boring men.