children

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      Let the Children Get Bored Again: Pamela Paul speaks wisdom to our age that runs from boredom, "Boredom teaches us that life isn’t a parade of amusements. More important, it spawns creativity and self-sufficiency."

2.      Survey Says That Evangelism is Far More Prayed For Than Practiced: Aaron Earls shares the results of a recent survey that ought to call us to boldly speak the gospel to our neighbor.

3.      Guard Your Heart From Adultery: Robert Wolgemuth reflects on how seriously we ought to take any hint of adultery in our marriages: "When you are hiding a secret from your wife, this qualifies as “for worse.” You feel this in your gut. It keeps you awake at night..What’s for certain, however, is that the situation you’re putting yourself in is going to have an impact on you. It’s inescapable. Keeping secrets is like standing chest-deep in water, trying to hold a beach ball down. It takes both hands and lots of energy. But eventually, physics will win out. You’ll run out of energy and the ball will explode through the surface. You will be found out.

4.      How Can We Know that the Bible Teaches that Jesus is God? Justin Taylor offers this tight argument: "Finally, it’s worth remember the helpful summary by the late great church historian Jaroslav Pelikan: ...The oldest surviving account of the death of a Christian martyr contained the declaration: “It will be impossible for us to forsake Christ ...or to worship any other. For him, being the Son of God, we adore, but the martyrs . . . we cherish.” The oldest surviving pagan report about the church described Christians as gathering before sunrise and “singing a hymn to Christ as to [a] god.” The oldest surviving liturgical prayer of the church was a prayer addressed to Christ: “Our Lord, come!” Clearly it was the message of what the church believed and taught that “God” was an appropriate name for Jesus Christ."

5.      7 Lies the Church Believes About Singleness: Great stuff, as always, by Sam Allberry: "Certain misconceptions never seem to go away: The Great Wall of China is visible from space (it isn’t), or shaving makes your hair grow back thicker (it doesn’t). A significant misconception that has been around for many years is that singleness is a bad thing. This is partly due to a confluence of our culture’s focus on romantic fulfillment as key to being whole with common Christian thinking that marriage itself is the goal of the Christian life."

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      When Pot is Legal, What Do We Say?  Ben Tertin navigates this tricky issue that is on our doorstep. "When a pastor's advice on a moral issue fails, the usual culprit is oversimplification. I feel this keenly on the pot question, having fought on both sides."

2.      I Want My Child to be an Alien: The pressure is strong to raise children who are popular. Jen Wilkin pushes against that impulse, " Sweet child, study the way you are feeling today. Because I love you, I ask this of you: Lean into your “otherness”—learn the contours of its face, feel out the steady grip of its hand. Because I intend it to be your lifelong companion. It is a truer friend than those who surround you now. More than I want your comfort, I want you to be an alien and a stranger."

3.      Was Gnosticism Tolerant and Inclusive? Contrary to public perception, Michael Kruger responds with a resounding "No." "After all, it is argued, traditional Christianity was narrow, dogmatic, intolerant, elitist, and mean-spirited, whereas Gnosticism was open-minded, all-welcoming, tolerant and loving.  Given this choice, which would you choose?"

4.       The Consequences of GendercideFor years China and India have been aborting millions of baby girls. Gene Veith reports on the devastating consequences, "Today, China has 34 million more men than women, which is equivalent to the population of California.  India has 37 million more men than women... Both countries are experiencing an upsurge in sexual assaults, including rape, and human trafficking."  

5.      The Deepest Dive in the Antarctica Reveals a Sea Floor Teaming with Life: Wow. What a Creator.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       What Do Americans Really Think About God? Pew's recent polling is revealing. Christianity Today reports, "Even in an era where more of the nation doesn’t ascribe to a higher power at all (10%) or believes in some sort of higher power or spiritual force (33%), a slim majority of Americans (56%) still believe in God “as described in the Bible,” according to the Pew report."

2.       Just How Christian Are the Wealthiest Zip Codes in the US? Not very, it appears. "Both communities also have fewer evangelical Protestants than the national average, data from TheARDA.com shows. Evangelicals account for less than 11 percent of the population in Miami-Dade County, Florida, and a scant 3.4 percent in San Mateo County, California—well below the national average of 16.2 percent."

3.       Children's Crusades: Alan Jacobs takes a cultural phenomenon head-on, "One clever little speciality of adult humans works like this: You very carefully (and, if you’re smart, very subtly) instruct children in the moral stances you’d like them to hold. Then, when they start to repeat what you’ve taught them, you cry “Out of the mouths of babes! And a little child shall lead them!” And you very delicately maneuver the children to the front of your procession, so that they appear to be leading it — but of course you make sure all along that you’re steering them in the way that they should go."

4.       Can a True Christian Have Depression? Jeremy Pierre's answer is excellent. He concludes, "The promise 'the Lord is my light' is most precious from a place of darkness."

5.       Beauty from AboveIncredible shots of America's beautiful landscape.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       Oprah Winfrey and Donald Trump Aren't So Different: Following the recent push for Oprah to make a run for President in 2020, Elizabeth Dias reports, “…beneath their vastly different images, Winfrey and [Donald] Trump share the same populist theology. Both preach a gospel of American prosperity, the popular cultural movement that helped put Trump in the White House in 2016. … Winfrey and Trump both preach a gospel of wealth, health, and self-determination, following in the relatively recent prosperity gospel tradition, which broadly speaking says that God wants people to be wealthy and healthy and that followers are responsible for their own destiny here on Earth.”

2.       The Story You've Been Told About Church and Science is Wrong: The history of pastors is the history of advancing, not hindering scientific inquiry, Jennifer Powell McNutt shares. "Pastors after the scientific revolution viewed engagement with new science as an opportunity to understand God as Creator with greater depth in order to bring him greater glory. And so, the clergy were frequent promoters rather than detractors, enthusiasts and participants rather than fear mongers. Their observations and contributions through publishing, preaching, and their own scientific pursuits helped enable the advancement of modern science in Western communities."

3.       A Reminder of the Danger of Communism: 100 years after the Bolshevik Revolution, Laura Nicolae reflects on the very present danger of communism: "Depictions of communism on campus paint the ideology as revolutionary or idealistic, overlooking its authoritarian violence. Instead of deepening our understanding of the world, the college experience teaches us to reduce one of the most destructive ideologies in human history to a one-dimensional, sanitized narrative."

4.       Why is Parenting so Darn Hard? Joe Carter reflects on the six ingredients that make parenting difficult. He ends by comparing us to the disciples: "The disciples, apparently, didn’t have super powers. What they had was access to the Father because of their relationship with Jesus Christ. When they neglected that access they found themselves operating without power in a hostile and unbelieving world. Why is that lesson so very hard for us to learn? I don’t have super powers. I cannot save or sanctify my kids. I cannot teach them out of their sin. I cannot discipline them out of their sin. I cannot scold them out of their sin or shame them out of their sin. I need grace and help from God! I need to get my children before Jesus!"

5.       Our Tiny Star, the Sun: An incredible 90 second video showing just how big our sun is.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       9 Questions to Ask Yourself to Prepare for 2018: Scott Slayton with a thoughtful list. I like especially his questions: “What are my roles?” What two changes will make the biggest difference,” and “What two things do I need to stop doing?”

2.       How Your Husband Defines Romance: Thoughtful advice from Dennis and Barbara Rainey, "When a man is rejected often enough, he typically internalizes his anger, his hurt, and his disappointment until such time when the rejection drives him to one of several reactions—none of them are good." This ought not to be taken as license from men who feel rejected, but as good advice for wives who want to love their husbands well.

3.       Why Being Tough as a Leader Fails: Kerry Patterson is excellent on leadership and conflict. He reflects, "“I yell at my employees because it’s the only thing that works,” say a surprising number of leaders I’ve consulted with over the years. Parents often take a similar path with their kids. “They only respond to threats. So, I mostly threaten them.” Of course, when you interview the employees or the kids, they don’t subscribe to Hunter Thompson’s theory of leadership. That is, they don’t believe that the newest and hottest motivational tools are fear and loathing. They prefer respectful reasoning."

4.       Six Times It's Time to Quit Your Job: Jeff Gilmer at Vanderbloemen asks, " How do you discern whether this is just a season, or if it’s a bigger sign that you should be looking for your next opportunity?"

5.       Protecting Children from Abuse: Tim Challies interviews  Boz Tchividjian about his important new book, The Child Safeguarding Policy Guide. He begins the interview sharing this heartbreaking statistic, " Research has consistently found that approximately 1 in 4 females and 1 in 6 males will be sexually victimized before their 18th birthday. With 75 million children in the United States, this translates to almost 15 million children who will be sexually victimized over the next 18 years!"

6.       The Spread of Christianity: A shocking visual representation of the spread of Christianity around the globe.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.     The Shepherd Who Stole Jesus: You can't leave a baby that cute just lying there! He needs some cuddles!

2.     The Twist in the Sermon on the Mount You Probably Missed: Mark Ward with a powerful insight of the authority of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, " For any flesh-and-blood human being to quote a Bible verse to a bunch of Jewish listeners in the first century and then follow it up with, “But I say to you. . .” is remarkable, breathtaking. It would be like a lowly clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court standing out on the steps of the court building in Washington, D.C. to relay the justices’ decision to the reporters at a press conference. He reads the detailed, multi-page decision, and then adds, “That was a good opinion the justices gave, but I think. . .” That clerk has no authority to say what he thinks. No journalist holding an audio recorder cares what he thinks. Jesus’ six antitheses work in this passage only if he has the right not only to interpret but even to add to the law of God (as Jesus will do later in the passage with oaths). And who but God can do that?"

3.       Living Life Undefended: Daniel Bush's simple reflection convicted me, "In the summer of 1984, the Gillette Company launched a series of television commercials advertising its Dry Idea antiperspirants, which led to one of the wittiest and most memorable slogans in the English language: “Never let them see you sweat.” There’s deep truth in that tagline, at least with regard to antiperspirants. I’ll even go as far as to apply it to business negotiations, trade deals, and global politics—but apply it to personal relationships, especially your relationship with God, at your peril."

4.       When Kids Won't Bow to Your Idols: Jennifer Phillips nails it in this reflection on parenting and idols. She begins with this story, "When I had my first child, I was determined to knock this parenting thing out of the park. I read all the books. “If you do these things,” they promised, “your child will be on a predictable schedule and will sleep through the night by the time you come home from the hospital.” Or something like that. Except my son wouldn’t cooperate. He cried endlessly. He had trouble feeding and wouldn’t nap for longer than 20 minutes. Do you know what my predominant emotion was in the midst of all of this? Anger. At an infant. I threw pillows in the middle of the night and yelled at my husband and said not-so-kind words. To my infant. Now, I’m sure that hormones and sleep deprivation played a role in my response, but more than anything I was upset because I had faithfully followed A and B and I wasn’t getting C. I deserved a child who would cooperate. All the books told me he would if I did my part, and I did my part. I was worshiping at the altars of control, success, convenience, and let’s just say it—reputation. But my son refused to bow down. And I was furious."

5.       I Joined the Wrong Church: Samuel Emadi's article is excellent and weaves a story I hear so often in terms of disappointment so many experience in the context of the local church, and then he re-frames the issue: "These covenant obligations are the foundations of our church commitment and should function as the backbone to church life. Covenant precedes community. We might even say covenant creates community. The covenant promises members make to one another blossom into the life-giving relationships our hearts crave."

6.       Martin Luther, the Anglicans, and Christmas Carols: Instead of focusing on theology, the British love meditating on snow, silence, and livestock in their Christmas hymns. Martin Luther finds this annoying.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.    Almost No One in the US Believes in a Consistent Ethic of Life:This requires a much longer conversation and I respect those who disagree, but I find the Catholic ethic of life to be compelling:"one of the distinctive features of Catholic theology is what’s been described as a “consistent ethic of life.” In other words, protection and preservation at all stages of life. That’s why the Catholic church’s “seamless garment” condemns abortion, the death penalty, assisted suicide, and embryonic stem cell research."

2.    Advent and Teaching Children to Wait: Scott James reflects, “If we allow ourselves to be shaped by a culture that views waiting as a vice and being made to wait an unpardonable offense, we’ll run contrary to the path Christ calls us to walk. To push back against this on-demand mindset, here are two ways you can cultivate a more measured approach this Christmas.”

3.    Children Need Close Pals, Not Popularity: A recent study proves what we would intuit: "Chasing after popularity can be stressful for children—and for their parents. A growing body of research suggests that they should give a different focus to their social energies. Having intimate friendships, it turns out, brings more long-term benefits, such as higher self-esteem and lower levels of anxiety and depression."

4.    How Do We Become More Effective At Outreach: Ed Stetzer reflects on the changing tide of what outreach means for us in America, " Using attractional elements is not bad or wrong; I believe they are quite useful, and in many contexts, contextual. However, if more and more people are skeptical about coming to a place, then we must teach and train our people to ‘be’ the church—the incarnational presence of Christ in the places they occupy. In essence, teaching and equipping our people about the implications of the gospel lived out in real life is the true attraction." 

5.    Strength in Brokenness: Frank Viola's words are so true: " It’s not hard to spot a Christian in ministry who isn’t broken. Unbroken people don’t know how to lay their lives down and lose. They only know how to try to win. If they’re criticized, they retaliate. If they’re attacked, they return fire. If misunderstood, they defend in anger. They are capable of doing all sorts of damage to others in order to save their own ministries and keep their reputations."

6.    Time Travel Dietician: A hilarious spoof on how the rules of dieting keep changing.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.     Males and Females in the Workplace: Interesting in-depth study on the shifting face of the workplace over the past 65 years. Really interesting and interactive infographics. 

2.    Why doesn't God Just Talk to Me? Dan Dewitt responds to this question, "So, here’s a few reasons why it’s better for you that God has chosen to speak to you through his Word rather than waking you up in the middle of the night with an audible, 'Hey you! Get out of bed and listen up!'"

3.    What's the Purpose of Children? Tim Challies's consideration of this simple question reveals how many significant cultural barriers there are, "The pursuit of dreams and the fulfillment of personal potential has become our highest priority. A recent Forbes article tells that in 2015, Millennials spent nearly twice as much on self-improvement than Boomers, even though their income is only half as much. This individualistic culture has a profound effect on our understanding of children. When self is at the center, children are regarded as yet another means of self-realization—one that can be pursued or rejected according to personal preference. Those who choose to have children do so only when it is convenient; when they are in a stable place in life, relationship, and career; and when the burden of having them will be as small as possible. Little wonder, then, that the percentage of women between 40 and 44 who have never had children doubled between 1976 and 2006. Children have become an optional accessory to a well-rounded, successful life. Many people essentially believe that the purpose of children is to add value to the lives of their parents."

4.    Why Even a Happy Marriage Won't Prevent An Affair: Russel Moore adeptly navigates the findings of a secular counselor and digs for a deeper Christian explanation, " In the October issue of The Atlantic, Esther Perel looks back on the scope of her counseling encounters with marriages in crisis over infidelity and notes how rarely she sees adulterous people who cheat out of a desire to flee a bad relationship. Often, she writes, it’s just the opposite. She encounters people who want to keep their marriage, the way that it is, and who don’t actually want to leave it for the other relationship."

5.      How Sharing the Gospel in the Secular Age is Different: Tim Keller and Russell Moore reflect on the unique challenges of our ages in this 8 minute video.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.     How the World's Most Recognized Atheist Got Booted Out of the World's Most Liberal College: The reasons for Dawkins's "deplatforming" reveal cracks in secular liberalism: "Ultimately Dawkins was deluded about the fact that you cannot remove the framework of the Christian gospel from the culture without removing the freedoms it afforded him. And now all he can do is splutter ineffectually on the sidelines. And Berkeley?  Their need to protect Islam is merely the self-righteous self-preening of elite liberals who are confident they stand above all religions and therefore are the arbiters of which ones should be afforded their favour and protection at any one time."

2.     The Key Pursuit of a Young Life: Tim Challies on the importance of our early life and how differently God planned his Son's life than we would have: "But it fell to God—not you or me—to set the course for his life, and God planned it very differently. Jesus lived for around 33 years, but his entire public ministry fit into just the final three. He spent 90 percent of his life in obscurity and only 10 percent in the public eye. For every one year that was recorded, there were 10 that were not. God arranged the itinerary, and he chose to have Jesus spend 30 years in quiet preparation for his three years of public activity."

3.     US Not Increasing Refugee Resettlement In Step With Worldwide Demand: Sarah Eekhoff Lystra reports, " Since 1980, more than 3 million of the world’s refugees have settled in America, according to a new study released today by the Pew Research Center. That’s more than any other country in the world, in terms of resettlement....  President Donald Trump cut the 2017 intake from Obama’s planned 100,000 to 50,000...  The Trump administration has capped refugees for fiscal year 2018 at 45,000—the lowest since presidents were given the power to set limits back in 1980..."

4.      You Were Created for More Than Motherhood: Melissa Edgington is one of my favorite bloggers and this is my favorite post she's ever written. Fathers, you may think this one isn't for you, but grab a box of Kleenex, click, and read: " It doesn’t mean that our hearts won’t still creak and crack and melt just a little when we remember what we once had. It doesn’t mean that what we’re doing here, in the wilds of motherhood, doesn’t have eternal significance. But, God’s purposes are big. Much bigger than we can imagine. The purpose of our lives is to glorify Him in all that we do, whether we are mothers or not. Whether we are in the thick of chasing toddlers everywhere or simply remembering those days, a little misty-eyed. God’s purposes don’t have dates of expiration. They don’t apply to only one section of our lives. And they certainly aren’t wrapped up solely in the too-short phases of mothering children."

5.     George W. Bush’s Timely Speech: Our former President delivered a powerful speech recently. The entire speech is worth reading (or watching). Among its powerful moments was this: “We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization. Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions – forgetting the image of God we should see in each other. We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism – forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America. We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade – forgetting that conflict, instability, and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism.”

6.     30 Days at Sea Timelapse Video: From New York to Hong Kong, with incredible views of thunderstorms and ports in between.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      Pastor, Fall on the Sword Before You Wield It: Trevin Wax with a piercing exhortation: "'Rightly handling' this sword means we should teach it correctly, and the pastor must experience the piercing of this sword before he wields it in battle."

2.      How to be a Friend to those who are Same-Sex Attracted: Bekah Mason provides sage advice birthed through her own story: "In the end, both legalistic condemnation and progressive license left me seeking more contentment and completeness than either could offer. One group had fallen short of acknowledging the genuine nature of my feelings and the other had overlooked the very real conviction I held about human sexuality by explaining it away as 'residual guilt from my legalistic childhood.'" Side note: I dislike the title that the editors gave this article. Please don't be put off by it.

3.      31 Questions to Help You Be a Better Parent: Some gems in this list, like these: "3. When I’m honest, what top five values do I feel most compelled to instill in my children? Would those line up with the top five values God would want my children to have? 8. How do I believe other people see each of my children? How do I feel about that? What portion of others’ opinions could I learn from, and what should I set aside? 9. Are my children developing more into givers than takers? 11. What are the events on the timeline of my children’s lives that have the most impact? 19. In what areas are my children most vulnerable? 28. How am I doing on teaching them biblical conflict resolution? Am I teaching them to be true peace-makers … or peace-fakers, or peace-breakers?"

4.      12 Pastoral Commitments (Or, How to Pray for Your Pastor): Kevin DeYoung's list is spot on. May God shape us into pastors like this!

5.      This Octopus Hunts... on Ground: Yikes. I think I might find another beach if I witness this in person.