The only way to promote and sustain necessary change in the church (Karl Vaters): Changing because the mission demands it is the only way to make changes that last. Read more at Christianity Today.
4 key attitudes that are killing church attendance (Thom Rainer): Declining church attendance has at its core unbiblical attitudes. It’s time to stop pretending otherwise. Read more at ThomRainer.com.
Three lines in the sand (Stephen Nichols): At the turn of the twentieth century, the sciences supposedly knew better than the Bible. Now, the social sciences supposedly know better than the Bible. And we are seeing this new world-view presented artfully and entertainingly through a barrage of media and in the halls of the academy. A casual watcher and listener will be exposed to countless gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, acts, and ideas—and all without ever leaving mainstream media outlets. These are the times we live in. Read more at Ligonier Ministries.
Two dangers in doing the Lord’s work (Raymond C. Ortlund Jr.): Our Lord’s claim in John 6:63 leads us to a solemn awareness that we must do the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way for our work really to be the Lord’s work. We might have thought we could choose between two categories: doing the Lord’s work versus doing the Devil’s work. But the truth is that we are always choosing between three categories: Doing the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way, for his glory; doing the Lord’s work in our own way, for our glory; doing the Devil’s work. Read more at Crossway.
Why cool church doesn’t work anymore: more on the future church (Carey Nieuwhof): Everything has its season. And the season of the cool church is, in many ways, coming to an end. Here are 5 keys I see to a future of greater impact. Read more at CareyNieuwhof.com.
Seeking reward is a legit motivator to pray (Kevin Halloran): Due to the constant discouragement many of us face in prayer, we need constant reminders of why prayer is important. There’s one biblical motivation to pray that I used to think was counterfeit. “There’s no way that can be a legit reason to pray,” I thought. “Only selfishness could drive a person to pray with this motivation.” Read more at KevinHalloran.net.
Trials / Suffering
God gives you more than you can handle (Tim Challies): “God never gives you anything you can’t handle.” This phrase is not biblical, despite what people think. It is, at best, a hopelessly flawed paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 10:13, which assures us that God “will not allow [us] to be tempted beyond what [we] are able” (NASB). Paul is giving a straightforward maxim about sin and temptation in that verse, not waxing eloquent about life circumstances. In order to interpret those words in such a way, you have to squint your eyes hard and look through the verse, like one of those magic-eye pictures that haunted shopping malls in the 1990s. No . . . I don’t see it either. Read more at Challies.
God is bigger than your problems (Scott Hubbard): When the promises of God seem powerless to quiet our fears, soothe our grief, lift our worries, or motivate our obedience, we need to do more than simply hear his promises again. We need to behold the God who gives them. Read more at Desiring God.
God knows what you don’t have (Abigail Dodds): What exactly does Paul mean when he promises, “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19)? Read more at Desiring God.
Anywhere but God: The suffocating hunt for happiness (Greg Morse): We all, to varying degrees, are conscious of this yawning cavern placed within us by Someone without. Inexplicably, we hunger for a meal we have not yet tasted; we thirst for streams our lips have never touched. And we cannot shake it. We try to appease the appetite with earthly snacks or distract ourselves with cheap thrills, but silent rooms still scare us. There, the whisper finds us. There is more. Read more at Desiring God.
Are we really in danger of making an idol of the family? (Kevin DeYoung): God has given us many gifts in this life. Money is a gift. Sex is a gift. Work is a gift. Athletic ability and musical skill are gifts; so are intelligence and beauty. No one doubts that all of these good things can be idols. Just like the family. The conjugal family—one man and one woman whose covenant union produces offspring—is profoundly good, a necessary and foundational element of God’s creational design. But it is not ultimate. At least not if we are defining family as the natural relationships we have by marriage and blood, rather than the supernatural relationships we have by the blood of Christ. Read more at The Gospel Coalition.
Quit trying to become a great preacher (Karl Vaters): Instead of preaching better sermons, we need to become more effective at using our words and actions to point people to Jesus. Read more at Christianity Today.
The 10 commandments of preaching (Josh Moody): I used the pneumonic ‘E-X-P-O-S-I-T-O-R-Y’ for the ten commandments of preaching. These are some of the notes from which I spoke. Read more at God Centered Life.
How do you know if a sermon is expository? (Jason K. Allen): Expository preaching begins with a commitment to preach the text. This commitment is rooted in the Bible’s self-attestation that “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” and that the preacher’s primary task is to “preach the Word.” As he does, the preacher stands on promises like, “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” Read more at JasonKAllen.com.