Truths for Troubled Times

Truths For Troubled Times

Posted October 19, 2020

“Missions: How the Local Church Goes Global,” by Andy Johnson
Recommendation by Pastor Gavin Kajikawa

As our church family focuses on evangelism for the month of October, I’d like to recommend “Missions: How the Local Church Goes Global,” by Andy Johnson. What I appreciate about the book is the focus on the local church holding to biblical truths in teaching, preparing, sending, and supporting missionaries around the world to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Here is a paragraph that will give you a sense of how missions can look different when a local church cherishes the gospel leading to the mission of making disciples a whole church endeavor.

“Imagine a local church where the congregation’s mission to the nations is clear and agreed upon. Elders guide the congregation toward strategic missions. Missions is held up as a concern for all Christians, not just the niche ‘missions club.’ The tyranny of new trends and demands for immediate, visible results holds no sway. Members see missions as the work of the church together rather than the personal, private activity of the individual. In this church, members see missions as a core ministry of the church, not an occasional short-term project. Relationships with missionaries are deep, serious, and lasting. Joyful giving to missions is a basic part of the church’s budget, not merely the fruit of occasional and desperate appeals. And members actually value missions enough that some want to uproot their lives and be sent out long-term by the church.” (19)

This book is short, but is biblically based in providing definitions for missions, talking about missionary care, organizing the sending church, having God honoring partnerships, short-term missions, and how to do missions here in America.

I’ll end with a quote from Andy Johnson, “We should have confidence because we know the mission will not fail. We may fail in our faithfulness, but God will not fail in his mission. Christ will have the nations for his inheritance” (120).

Posted October 12, 2020

How the Nations Rage: Rethinking Faith and Politics in a Divided Age by Jonathan Leeman
Recommendation by Pastor Kim Kira

For this week’s book recommendation, I wanted to commend to you, “How The Nations Rage: Rethinking Faith and Politics in A Divided Age” by Jonathan Leeman. It is a book I recommended in one of the recent sermons on politics and though I don’t think you will agree with every conclusion he comes to, I really appreciated his thoughtful, measured approach to politics. The point of the book isn’t to argue for a certain party) but to give us a theological framework to think through politics and our interactions in a politically divisive culture. Here are some quotes I thought were helpful:

  • Church and state are distinct God-given institutions, and they must remain separate. But every church is political all the way down and all the way through. And every government is a deeply religious battleground of gods. No one separates their politics and religion—not the Christian, not the agnostic, not the secular progressive. It’s impossible. (13)
  • The existence of hell is one of the most difficult things in the Bible to believe. Yet the path to political peace, harmony, and wholeness begins with the acknowledgement that we deserve hell. Until we do, we will continue to assert our right to rule. And as you assert your right and I assert mine, we cannot help but clash. “Give me the steering wheel.” “No, give me the steering wheel.” (58)
  • If you want an outwardly engaged church, you must continually emphasize the fact that the church’s upward engagement, not its outward engagement, is ultimate. (159)
  • One sign that you identify more with your ideological tribe than you do with Jesus is that you cannot hear what’s good when it comes from another tribe. (182)

Posted October 5, 2020

Compassion (&) Conviction by Justin Giboney, Michael Wear, and Chris Butler
Recommendation by Pastor Eufemio Magsombol, Jr.

I really appreciate Pastor Kim’s sermons on how we can live out our faith during this time of political divisiveness. I must admit this is an area of weakness for me, as I didn’t have much interest in politics growing up. One resource that I’ve found to be helpful as I strive to grow in this area is a book entitled Compassion (&) Conviction: The AND Campaign’s Guide to Faithful Civic Engagement by Justin Giboney, Michael Wear, and Chris Butler.

Compassion (&) Conviction is a good starting point and a balanced discourse on how we as Christians can think through our engagement in the political arena and how our faith shapes our involvement. We may not line up squarely with everything presented in the book, but as one reviewer from The Gospel Coalition puts it, “Compassion (&) Conviction doesn’t claim to be the definitive manifesto for Christian political witness. It instead offers itself as an introductory study guide to thoughtful, faith-based social engagement. For this purpose, it’s sensible and measured.”

Here are a few highlights from the book:

  • “the gospel should be the foundation and starting point of our political decisions. Our preferences, interests, and sociopolitical ideologies aren’t the ultimate authority and can’t take precedence over biblical principles… Two Christians can disagree on our important policy without one or the other necessarily being unfaithful… However, all Christians should make those decisions from a biblical framework… As Christians we must be deliberate about making sure our positions have biblical roots rather than being controlled by our political party or ideological tribe (Colossians 2:8).”
  • “Christians are usually proficient at identifying the flaws on the other side of the political spectrum and pointing out how our political opponents fall short of the gospel. But we’re less willing or able to identify the issues on our own end of the spectrum. Neither progressivism nor conservatism satisfies the love or truth imperatives of the gospel. Both fall outside of a biblical framework. Christians must recognize the failings and blind spots in their own political party and ideological tribe in order to avoid indoctrination and to faithfully correct unexamined assumptions.”
  • “Many Christians are conflicted because they believe in freedom, moral order, justice, equality, and inclusion. We want to protect the unborn and treat the poor and racial minorities with love and compassion… Christians must be critical thinkers and question the assumptions and conclusions presented to us. We shouldn’t simply accept the issues as they’ve been framed because these sources usually aren’t analyzing the issues from the standard of the gospel… Christians should say, ‘I support social justice, morality, and family values. I don’t affirm ungodly behavior, nor do I hate the individual; I affirm the human dignity of all people. I love and care for the poor, and I believe in personal responsibility.’ In other words, proper framing allows us to embrace the love and truth of the gospel. Christians can reject false choices in politics without walking away from civic engagement altogether.”
  • “As Christians, we have to be careful about how we label people. When we portray others in a demeaning light, we sin against them and reveal our own lack of wisdom (Proverbs 11:12)… Political leaders often talk as if their side is for all that is good and true, and the other side is for death and destruction. But civic decisions become too easy when we as Christians pretend politics is simply a battle between angels and demons. The implication is that we don’t have to parse the details of their proposals or weigh the alternatives, we just need to know what position the ‘right side’ is taking. This makes for a simple and powerful narrative, but in a broken world, neither side is completely good. There weren’t any perfect groups of people in the Bible (Romans 3:23), and there is only one perfect human, Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53:9). That fact still stands today.”

Posted September 28, 2020

Before You Open Your Bible by Matt Smethurst
Recommendation by Pastor Francis Chow

How would you describe the relationship between your life and the Bible? Even though we are constantly exhorted and reminded about the critical role of Scripture in our Christian lives, I’m guessing that, like me, it’s still challenging. It’s challenging to always be consistent in reading. Even when we do, it’s challenging sometimes to understand or apply what we’re reading. There are many practical steps that we can take to grow in getting the most out of our time in God’s Word such as studying hermeneutics, context, or theology.

I appreciate Matt Smethurst’s book, Before You Open Your Bible, because he addresses an aspect of reading our Bibles that we can easily neglect—not just head knowledge, but heart postures. Do we open our Bibles prayerfully, expecting God to speak? Do we remember that the Bible is God’s self-initiated, gracious revelation to us? Do we recognize that the Bible is something meant to be studied diligently? These are some of the helpful questions that this book poses that prepare our hearts to hear from God, even before we dive into the text itself.

In particular, I appreciated chapter 8 on our need to approach the Bible communally. It grew my thankfulness for others who can help show me the truth of Scripture in different ways, especially pastors who help the flock understand and apply God’s Word.

This book is a short, easy read and would serve as a helpful discipleship resource as you read the Bible together with someone else. For example, you could read one chapter each day and try to apply that idea to your Bible reading for that day, and I trust that God will shape your heart to better receive and delight in the treasure chest of His Word.

Posted September 14, 2020

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance by Bruce Ware

Book Recommendation by Pastor David Lee

My mind enters a haze when I think about how many pages I read during my years in seminary. Tens of thousands, most likely, with hundreds of hours burrowing in the bowels of the library, dusting off tomes of scholarly works and journal articles. There was an unspoken (and probably sinful) pride you felt when you could barely hold all of your research texts in your hands as you waddled precariously out of the library. “More pages means more learning” was the tacit belief.

But out of the countless pages I imbibed during those years, a specific 176 that I read in the winter of 2010 are my clear favorites. I took a weeklong intensive course with Dr. Bruce Ware on the doctrine of the Trinity, and the required reading for the course was Dr. Ware’s Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance. It was a short book by seminary standards, but packed into those 176 pages was a portrait of God that would sear itself into my mind and soul. It is easily the best book that I read in seminary.

The aim of the book is pretty simple. Ware unpacks the doctrine of the Trinity, offering biblical and historical summaries for its development. But where the book really surprised me was in its examination not only how each member of the Trinity is the same (equal in dignity, value, and personhood), but how they are different (distinct in role and relationship to one another). I had never considered each person’s specific responsibilities within the Trinity, the beauty of their humble cooperation, or how the fingerprints of God’s Trinitarian character are all over the pages of Scripture and human character.

Ware offers ten reasons why it is critical that we understand the doctrine of the Trinity:

  1. The doctrine of the Trinity is one of the most distinguishing doctrines of the Christian faith and therefore is deserving of our careful study, passionate embrace, and thoughtful application.
  2. The doctrine of the Trinity is both central and necessary for the Christian faith to be what it is. Remove the Trinity, and the whole Christian faith disintegrates.
  3. Worship of the true and living God consciously acknowledges the relationship and roles of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  4. The Christian’s life of prayer must rightly acknowledge the roles of Father, Son, and Spirit as we pray to the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Spirit.
  5. The Christian’s growth in Christlikeness or sanctification is rightly understood and enriched when seen as the work of the triune God.
  6. The triune relationships of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit cause us to marvel at the unity of the triune God.
  7. The triune relationships of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit cause us to marvel at the diversity within the triune God.
  8. The triune relationships of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit cause us to wonder at the social relationality of the triune God.
  9. The triune relationships of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit cause us to marvel at the authority-submission-structure that exists eternally in the three Persons in the Godhead, each of whom is equally and fully God.
  10. The doctrine of the Trinity – one God existing in three Persons – provides one of the most important and neglected patterns for how human life and human relationships are to be conducted.

To understand the Trinity is to understand the very essence of God himself, and it is to understand the very essence of being human, made in the image of a Trinitarian God. If a book on the Trinity may seem too abstract or theological, I want to assure you that the book is a delight to read, abundantly clear and accessible, and full of great application. You won’t regret reading it.

Posted September 7, 2020

Charity and Its Fruits by Jonathan Edwards

Recommendation by Pastor Eric Cai

I have been reading Jonathan Edwards’ Charity and Its Fruits as sermon preparation for our high school series in 1 Corinthians 13 (I recommend the edition published by Crossway, because it does help its readers out with some provided editorial comments in the margins). Preached in 1738 and published a little over a century later in 1852, the book takes a meditative look at the sweeping vistas of love’s characteristics in the apostle Paul’s famous chapter of love in 1 Corinthians 13.

While the book may not be as practical or its language as readily accessible, sometimes we may unexpectedly profit from the writings of previous saints. One of the reasons why contemporary Christianity is so spiritually anemic is because it isn’t accessing nor drawing deeply from the rich theological wells of saints who have gone before us.

Charity and Its Fruits is ripe, no pun intended, with devotional content aimed at expanding our appreciation of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ and enriching our call to love God and one another faithfully. As Jonathan Edwards takes the reader deeper and deeper into each facet of love, the reader is taken deeper and deeper into the very heart of God. Here are some quotes:

  • “When God is loved aright he is loved for his excellency, the beauty of his nature, especially the holiness of his nature” (41).
  • “Extraordinary gifts of the Spirit are, as it were, precious jewels, which a man carries about him. But true grace in the heart is, as it were, the preciousness of the heart, by which it becomes precious or excellent; by which the very soul itself becomes a precious jewel” (66).
  • “If you seek the glory of God and the good of your fellow creatures, it is a sure way to have God seek your interest…You shall be no loser by what you spend for his glory” (177).

Posted August 31, 2020

Making All Things New by David Powlison

Recommendation by Pastor Mat Pau

While most books address the topic of sexual desire from one perspective, Powlison thoughtfully and concisely recognizes that sexual desires in a broken world are much more complicated than that. Which is why this book is so helpful, especially at a time like this when this season of life has brought about various pressures – our hearts are always interacting and responding to those pressures (ch. 3). And I think for many of us and those that we know, sexual desire is most likely one of those areas affected – whether it’s because we struggle with sexual immorality, or are struggling with the impact of being sexually afflicted (ch. 1) – to some degree or another (ch. 7). And yet in this brief yet impactful book, Powlison thoughtfully and practically helps us to see the hope that we have in Christ (ch. 2).

Here’s what I mean: While most books I’ve read have been helpful in practical ways, Powlison is helpfully realistic. He understands that sanctification looks different for all, and that the issue isn’t speed or distance, but rather direction (ch. 4). This is incredibly freeing because for many who struggle, sexual struggles can often feel the most disheartening. Along with this, he also recognizes that sexual struggles are rarely an isolated issue – but intertwined with all of life (ch. 5), especially our hearts (ch. 6). And yet in its complexity, Powlison reminds us that the goal is simple: Not just sinning, but growing in knowing and being more like Christ (ch. 8). It is knowing Christ, how He speaks to our specific struggle, and how we relate to Him in prayer (ch. 9).

  • “To see sexual immoralities as wrong is not to be nervous about sexuality. Christian faith envisions sexual joy before the eyes of the holy God. Neither immorality nor prudishness understands that” (16-17).
  • “The Son of God came into the world to save sinners. You do not need to fear telling the truth about yourself. He already knows. He has come to bear our wandering and our woe that we might turn to him and find a new life that is filled with goodness” (29).
  • “God works organically in our lives. Organic growth has integrity. God works step-by-step. He walks with you. He’s always interested in how you take your every next step. Walking through life with him feels right. You’re going somewhere. The day of ‘completion’ will not arrive until the day when Jesus Christ arrives (Phil. 1:6)” (59).
  • “Understanding the deeper battle for our hearts deepens the significance of the Savior” (89).
  • “Your battle always gets fought at the next step, not all at once. ‘Today’s trouble’ is where you find God’s aid” (113).

Read it. I trust you’ll be as encouraged and edified as I was.

Posted August 24, 2020

“Caring For the Souls of Children”

Recommendation by Pastor Tim St. John

How do we shepherd our children and teens in this season? This complex question requires a variety of thoughtful answers and often generates an overwhelming amount of opinions. In this season our children and teens struggle with anxiety, anger, depression, suicidal thoughts, shame, confusion about their sexuality, and easy access to media has made global unrest part of their daily reality. Yet in the complexity of challenges our children face and that we face in shepherding them, the simple truth we want guiding our young people in life is the living hope of Christ found in the gospel.

In the new book, “Caring for the Souls of Children” edited by Amy Baker, there is a buffet of biblical truth presented by experienced parents who are also biblical counselors. Each author does an excellent job of presenting both the biblical foundations for understanding the hearts of our children, while still addressing the practical struggles they face day to day.

The book begins with three chapters to give us an overview of how to understand caring for children. Then in chapters 4-19 there are topical chapters to help us walk with children to better understand their relationships, their emotions, their bodies, and their suffering all through the lens of Scripture.  In this season, I would highly recommend reading chapters 7 and 8 on anxiety and anger to help think through how the whole family can care for one another and point each other to Christ in these struggles. While we rehearse God’s sufficient word with our children, we also will be putting our hearts in the pathway of grace to address our own struggles and grow with our kids.

Here are a few quotes to help you see the soul nourishing qualities of this work:

  • “For children, the struggles, desires, and hopes are no different than for those of us who are adults. Therefore, the counsel we provide for them should lead them to the same place—the good news of Jesus Christ.” (2)
  • “Children need to find hope and comfort in the right places. We don’t want to guarantee that bad things won’t happen, or offer false hope, or make promises we can’t possibly fulfill. We do want to point them to the one (Christ) who can really meet them in their struggles and fears” (102)

Posted August 17, 2020

When Sinners Say “I Do” by Dave Harvey
Recommendation by Pastor Wayne Hu

One of the books that I regularly recommend to married couples is the book, “When Sinners Say ‘I Do’” by Dave Harvey. This book was given to me by one of my groomsmen as a gift on our wedding day 12 years ago and I still regularly go back to it to remind myself of how much I need the gospel in my marriage.

This book is very honest about sin and very hopeful about the amazing resources of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. It reminds me that I am the biggest problem in my marriage and that Jesus is the only solution. With practical applications of the gospel in everyday life, this resource encourages me not to rely upon my own strength or wisdom but to look to the Cross and be empowered by grace as I seek to move towards Mel in times of conflict or disappointment.
Here are some quotes from the book:

  • “The gospel is an endless fountain of God’s grace in your marriage… To be able to look forward to a lifelong, thriving marriage, you must have a clear understanding of the gospel. Without it, you cannot see God, yourself, or your marriage for what they truly are” (25).
  • “Once I find 1 Timothy 1:15-16 trustworthy — once I can embrace it with full acceptance — once I know that I am indeed the worst of sinners, then my spouse is no longer my biggest problem: I am. And when I find myself walking in the shoes of the worst of sinners, I will make every effort to grant my spouse the same lavish grace that God has granted me” (41).
  • “Your spouse was a strategic choice made by a wise and loving God. Selected by him, for you, from the beginning of the world, your spouse is an essential part of God’s rescue mission for your life” (71).

Posted August 10, 2020

The Songs of Jesus by Timothy Keller
Recommendation by Pastor Gavin Kajikawa

The Psalms speak to the heart when we endure the hard times and when we bask in the joyful times. The Psalms unite our head and heart towards God. The Psalms are important in reminding us of the priority of worshiping God.My Bible reading plan starts with reading a psalm or a portion of a psalm, so each morning I wake up and let God speak to me. I follow Timothy Keller’s plan from his book, “The Songs of Jesus.” This daily devotional can provide context, other days insights, and some days thoughts to meditate on and each day the devotional ends with a short prayer.

August 10 covers Psalm 90:1-4. Keller writes this about these four verses, “Verse 4 is one of the most widely quoted verses in the psalms because it comforts us when we are frustrated with God’s timing. Time moves slowly forus, as we crawl from moment to moment. God, who inhabits eternity, sees all of history in a single moment, so his timetable is unlikely to match our own.”

This sets the direction of my thoughts as I personalize these verses. I think about being discouraged in God’s timing for a particular topic. It could be looking back and praising God for His timing in contrast to my time and plans. I may think about what I’m waiting for and how’s my heart in the waiting.

Whether you use this devotional or not, I hope that you’ll take time to journey through the psalms.

Posted August 3, 2020

Sipping Saltwater by Steve Hoppe
Recommendation by Pastor Kim Kira

It’s not too often that one of my kids reads a Christian book before I do, but last year one of my sons was looking for a book to read and so I gave him Sipping Saltwater by Steve Hoppe. I didn’t think much about it, until a little while later he told me, “It’s really good.” So there is your first endorsement, a teenager thought it was good (that probably carries more weight than a pastor saying it was good!). I then decided to read it, and proceeded to have my other two teenagers read and my wife ended up reading it as well.

The analogy is simple. We thirst and are tempted to turn to the world to see what it offers, but really it only offers saltwater. It looks appealing, but is actually deadly. Hoppe writes this, “Drinking saltwater means turning a gift from God into a god. It means looking for salvation in something that was never meant to save us. It means deifying something we were merely supposed to enjoy. It means turning a good thing into an ultimate thing. It means worshiping something that was never meant to be worshiped. Drinking saltwater is what the Bible calls idolatry.”

A few things I appreciate about the book:

  • It is hopeful. It is not a book simply telling you what good Christians do or don’t do. It paints a picture of Jesus as the one who truly satisfies. As we have often said, Jesus isn’t just right, he is better.
  • It is practical. After laying out the foundations, it spends a chapter each on very specific topics such as sex, control, comfort, busyness, people, food, and work.
  • It is helpful for believers and unbelievers. You could give it to either with great benefit.

All that to say, I think this is a book well worth your time.

Posted July 27, 2020

The Disciplined Life by Richard S. Taylor
Recommendation by Pastor Eufemio Magsombol, Jr.

During this Covid season, many of us feel that our lives have been upended. Daily schedules and routines have been disrupted. Some may have become more busy with added responsibilities at work and home, while others have gained extra time and freedom with a clear calendar. But wherever we are and whatever we have on our plate, the question remains: How are we using our time for the Lord? Are we living disciplined lives that allow us to best steward our energy and resources for God and others?

One resource that I’ve found to be helpful is a small book by Richard S. Taylor called, “The Disciplined Life.” In it he encourages believers to see the importance of discipline in our walks with the Lord. He emphasizes that discipline is “not the supreme value. Right relationship with God is the greatest of all treasures.” But it can be a tool that allows us to focus on what’s most important and is “a practical means of learning how to realize more fully in one’s life the supreme values of Christ’s kingdom.”

Here are a few highlights:

  • “The problem is not knowledge. The problem is actually giving first place to these values in practical daily living—and that is a problem primarily of character. This involves ability to reject day by day that great army of possible activities which clamor for our precious energy but which would hamper the doing of more important things… If life with us is to be fruitful and purposeful, we must heroically and decisively put the knife to most of the possible activities which could clutter every single day.”
  • “One mistake is to confuse disciplined living with holy living. The two are not the same. Discipline… may begin and end with self-interest. Holiness is meaningless except as it defines one’s relationship to a holy God.”
  • “Discipline unquestionably makes a man superior If not watched, it will also make him feel superior. There is a legitimate sense of satisfaction in self-mastery. But it is wrong when the sense of satisfaction becomes self-satisfaction. Such a disciplined man gives himself the glory, not God.”
  • “Without doubt disciplined living is a necessary aid in maintaining holiness and consolidating it into firm character and efficient living. But no amount of discipline of itself will make the sinful heart holy… it cannot create a clean heart.”

Posted July 20, 2020

Living Life Backward by David Gibson
Recommendation by Pastor Francis Chow

“It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting” (Eccl 7:2). If you’re not that familiar with the book of Ecclesiastes, you might read that along with author’s other statements about the “vanity” of life and walk away concluding that life in this world is futile, frustrating, and honestly quite depressing. Thank God we have eternity to look forward to, right?

David Gibson’s book, “Living Life Backward,” is an exposition of the book of Ecclesiastes, and his big idea is that death isn’t just about what comes afterwards for us as Christians, but a helpful teacher for informing how we should live wisely right now. As he puts it, “Living in light of your death will help you to live wisely and freely and generously. It will give you a big heart and open hands, and enable you to relish all the small things of life in deeply profound ways” (11).

Gibson interprets the word “vanity” in Ecclesiastes not as meaningless or futile, but more like a breath that comes and goes quickly. Life cannot be grasped or manipulated. The wisdom ofEcclesiastes reminds us that we can’t tell the future or guarantee success no matter how much knowledge we have or planning we do. But when we are mindful of that reality and when we keep death in view, then we can live wisely and still enjoy the life that God has given us.

One of the more memorable lines from the book was “Life in God’s world is gift, not gain” (37). Gibson’s insight made me think about all of the ways that we spend our lives trying to control our lives in order to gain or get ahead that we miss out on enjoying the gifts right in front of us. Rather than seeing relationships or resources or money as a stepping stone to something else, Ecclesiastes teaches us that those things are meant for us to cherish and enjoy as gifts themselves. Truly understanding that makes us more content, generous, joyful, and ready to share.

It’s interesting to think about how the message of this book might apply to our current season. Instead of looking forward to when things might return to normal, where we hope we will be, and what we would like to be doing, how can our destination inform the way that we live now? How can this season be a time of joyfully living within our limitations? Read this book for more insightful wisdom, but here are some quotes for now:

  • “The universe you inhabit and the life you have today come from God’s hand as something you do not deserve. Your life is on loan for a short while, and one day God will call time and take it back, just like the library will recall that overdue book on your shelf. So embrace life for what it is rather than what you’d like it to be. Live it before God with reverence and obedience. This is the pathway to joy.” (67)
  • “Ecclesiastes-type wisdom, Christlike wisdom, grows believers who spend their life on living in the world rather than on living in the world so as not to die” (126).

Posted July 13, 2020

Sing!: How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church by Keith and Kristyn Getty
Recommendation by Pastor David Lee

From the outside, a lot of what the church does may appear to very similar to what many secular organizations would do. We hold meetings, we put on events around shared interests, we listen to lectures that are meant to inform and improve, we make charitable donations. But one characteristic of the church that should make us instantly distinguishable from any other organization is that we are a singing people. Can you imagine a basketball team spontaneously bursting into song during a practice? A book club belting tunes while they read Ayn Rand? The PTA at school performing three part harmonies? Singing is a universal human experience, but it is a distinctively Christian mandate. Scripture gives us both exhortation and example of how we ought to be a singing people, those who ought to have a song in our hearts that burst out from our lips.

Two of the most important contributors to the church music of this generation just happen to be married. Keith and Kristyn Getty, writers of such Lighthouse standards as “In Christ Alone,” “Speak, O Lord,” and “The Power of the Cross,” step away from the microphone and piano and transition to pen and paper in their first book, Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family and Church. While many books already existed to equip leaders and musicians in the trade, precious few resources were available for the broader church and the every-day Christian.Bu the Gettys wrote this book for exactly that group of people. Their thesis is that music is not meant for those who identify as musicians, but it is a mandate for all of mankind, particularly for those who have been saved through Christ. Music is not reserved for those plays instruments or who can carry a tune; singing is for every Christian.

Here’s how the Gettys put it:

  • “God designed our psyche for singing. When singing praise to God, so much more than just the vocal box is engaged. God has created our minds to judge pitch and lyric; to think through the concepts we sing; to engage the intellect, imagination, and memory; and to remember what is set to a tune… God has formed our hearts to be moved with depth of feeling and a whole range of emotion as the melody-carried truths of who God is and whose we are sink in.”
  • One of their most helpful emphases is on the congregational, communal nature of singing.
  • “When we sing together as the Church, we are showing how we are a congregation of living stones. Our singing is an audible expression of the bonds we share, testifying to the life that lies within these stones. We are cut from the same elements of faith, united in Lord, filled by one Spirit, brought into one Church, to offer our praise to Him. We are being chiseled and refined through our singing, just as wet re through every aspect of our lives. We are forged together through our singing together” (72).

This is a challenging principle to apply these days, but I think we have great opportunity to live this out. Quite simply, are you singing? Do you sing during our worship service livestreams? Do you sing with your small group on Zoom? Are you singing with your children or your spouse? Are you singing with your roommates? While we may not be able to gather in a church building to sing, are we singing in the communities that we have available to us with the means we have available to us?

I heartily recommend this brief, practical book to you, and I even more heartily recommend singing to you. Sing on, Lighthouse!

Posted July 6, 2020

“A Gentle Answer: Our ‘Secret Weapon’ in An Age of Us Against Them” by Scott Sauls

Recommendation by Pastor Eric Cai

Do you have a ‘them’ in your life? ‘Them’, as in those with whom you have difficulty loving, those whose views you find difficulty tolerating, those whom you don’t have as much empathy for, but rather frustration, annoyance, and apathy. As we live in a continually fractured and divisive society, it has become increasingly apparent, now more than ever, that we live in an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ world. And the question that confronts every follower of Jesus Christ in our polarized age is, “What does the character of Jesus and his followers have to offer to an increasingly angry and divisive world?”

Pastor Scott Sauls provides practical answers to this question in his very helpful book, “A Gentle Answer: Our “Secret Weapon” in An Age of Us Against Them.” What he uncovers in the book is the fact that reality is a lot more complicated than merely demonizing “the bad guy” and lionizing “the good guy”. Because, in a way reminiscent of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Pastor Scott reminds me that the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.

What is characteristic of Pastor Scott’s writing is his delicate and sensitive balance of speaking the truth in love. This is especially reflected in his new work as he calls on Christians to the hard work of gentleness in a time of hostility and suspicion, starting from the most necessary source—Jesus’ own life and gentleness. Divided into two parts, Pastor Scott carefully crafts first the story of how Jesus personally and gently changes us. And as we change, we become gentle, becoming like Jesus himself. Throughout the book, there is a consistent pattern of Pastor Scott comforting us with the indicatives (who we are in Jesus Christ) before the imperatives (what we are called to do in Jesus Christ).

At times, this book will be confrontive and challenging. It has challenged me to reconsider how I view and treat people with whom I disagree and to repent of my dismissiveness and cavalier attitude. But the more it revealed my lack of gentleness, the more it revealed my need for the gentleness and sufficiency of Jesus. I suspect that this was precisely Pastor Scott’s intention in his book. To whet your appetite for this helpful resource, consider the following quotes:

  • “Counterfeits of Christianity have earned for Christianity itself a black eye in today’s cultural climate. Perceived by many as hypocritical, excessively partisan, and fixated on attacking the specks in others’ eyes while ignoring the planks in our own, it’s no wonder that Christians, especially younger ones, have become disenchanted with the idea of sharing their faith,” (pp. 32-33)
  • To gain strength and courage to offer a gentle answer, we must first be flooded by the reality that we’ve already received one,” (p. 68)
  • “This ‘Is it I?’ response to the Lord, as opposed to an ‘It is he!’ response, is a key indicator of a healthy, self-aware, non-presumptuous, gentle posture of faith. Sorrow mixed with introspection is, even for the most faithful disciples among us, the most appropriate response when the subject of evil and betrayal is raised…The more we realize these truths, the less accusatory we will become toward others, and the gentler we will become as well” (p. 164).

Posted June 29, 2020

“Safe & Sound: Standing Firm in Spiritual Battles” by David Powlison

Recommendation by Pastor Mat Pau

Why recommend a book on spiritual warfare? Most of us tend to see spiritual warfare as the bizarre moments we might have heard from mission trips – and as a result it might seem distant and impractical. But few of us see spiritual warfare in the everyday functions: Cooking, job searching, interacting with our children, or watching Netflix. Yet Scripture opens our eyes to the wider reality: “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but … against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places” (Eph 6:12), even in the everyday.

It is this very reality that Powlison’s “Safe & Sound” helped me to better see. In this accessible book, I was reminded that my everyday functions, no matter how mundane or rote, are never just neutral motions. Nor is spiritual warfare a distant reality. Although the book does address the more sensational contexts (chs. 7 and 8 deal with the occult and animism), the everyday routines are the battlegrounds in which my allegiance and worship to Christ is tested. How I responded to Jesus was either warring for Christ’s kingdom or against it, and it was all happening within my very kitchen.

What I most appreciated about this book was how it really simplifies the Christian’s role. Again we might be accustomed to ideas of exorcism or unique actions. But throughout, Powlison makes the case that in spiritual warfare, it is ultimately Jesus Himself who is the warrior. We participate therefore through the “normal” means of dependence upon Him, trusting in His Word, prayer, repentance, walking in love, etc. This doesn’t make those “normal” actions any less significant, if anything it makes them more significant because they are the weapons God has for us in the war for Christ’s kingdom in my life.

Especially during times like this, we often fail to see that each moment is significant: It can either war for Christ’s kingdom, or against His kingdom. I’m thankful for this book that helps me to see that helps me to be engaged with Jesus’ agenda thoughtfully, personally and practically. Here are a few quotes:

  • “In summary, Scripture treats spiritual warfare as a normal, everyday part of the Christian life, and so should we as well. It’s not about spooky special effects. It’s about how we think, feel, live, desire, and act in the presence of our enemies. The ultimate question that runs through everyone’s life and through the whole Bible is: Who will be your shepherd? Will you be shepherded by your good heavenly Father or by the liar and murderer – Satan?” (14)
  • “… we see that the devil plays an underlying, behind-the-scenes role inthe everyday problems of sin, misery, and death. But, again, the Bible does not lead us to make the liar and murderer the focus of ministry. People and their relationship with God are the focus. So, do speak of the devil, but don’t talk too much. The way you pay attention to Satan is analogous to how you pay attention to other influencing factors … They are in the mix, but the person as a moral responder always comes front and center.” (17)
  • “Turning to Christ is to win spiritual warfare.” (54)
  • “True spiritual warfare normalizes the abnormal, helps people live in Christ’s reality, not the haunted universe of animism.” (71)

Posted June 22, 2020

“A Hunger for God” by John Piper

Recommendation by Pastor Tim St. John

The pain of this season in history leaves all of us with a collective sense of longing. We together yearn for the pandemic to end, for racism to end, for violence to end, and for righteousness to prevail. The longings I have felt recently led me to pick up the book, “A Hunger for God,” by John Piper and read it, hoping it would help me place Christ at the center of my longings.

There are so many little things in this world that might momentarily sooth our current pain: snacks, getting a haircut, doing a puzzle, eating a meal, etc. But rather than temporarily soothing my unrest, this book has helped me see how fasting can drive me to pray more fervently and worship God more fully in the midst of the lingering trouble.

Piper’s book reveals how the neglected discipline of fasting can be used to encourage a deeper longing for Christ and strengthen our resolve to meditate on “the things that are unseen.” Especially in seasons of suffering, we are called to “look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2Cor 4:18) Fasting is a powerful discipline for moving our hearts away from the seen and letting the physical hunger we feel set our hearts and minds on Christ. He is our only true comfort and source of wisdom as we walk together through this valley of suffering.

Unlike other books on fasting, this work didn’t focus on method, schedule, or what to give up for your fast. But it laid a clear theological foundation for fasting. Piper discusses how fasting reveals our deepest desires, how it helps us set our houses in order, and how it gives us the opportunity to draw closer to God. Then, he examines Jesus’ experiences with and teachings on fasting. There’s also a great chapter on how fasting points us toward the Kingdom.

Most of all, the book helps us address the propensity of our hearts to worship the gift and forget about the giver. Fasting is a discipline of grace from our loving God to help us temporarily set aside a gift and refocus our hearts on remembering who he is as our loving Heavenly Father who cares and provides.

Here are a few quotes to help you see the soul nourishing qualities of this work:

  • “If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”
  • “The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night […] The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable and almost incurable.”

Posted June 15, 2020

“Parenting” by Paul David Tripp

Recommendation by Pastor Wayne Hu

If you’re like our family, this season of having more time together with our kids has brought about its share of both blessings and challenges. We’ve had more opportunities to create fun memories, experience meaningful conversations, reflect on our priorities and life direction, and grow in prayer and spiritual disciplines. At the same time, we’ve also had to navigate times of conflict and frustration, see more of our sin, constantly humble ourselves to ask each other for forgiveness, and look to Christ for grace and hope.

A resource that has been a blessing to my heart time and time again in my parenting struggles is the book, “Parenting,” by Paul Tripp. What I love about this book is that it not only provides insight into how to shepherd the hearts of my kids, but it also provides constant encouragement and guidance for my own heart when I am disoriented in my parenting. Exploring topics such as control, authority, inability, process, and calling, each chapter points parents back to the gospel and realigns their heart and motivation on the grace that we have received from Christ.

This book is filled with amazing gospel truths and I cannot recommend it enough! Here are several quotes from the book:

  • “Parenting is not first about what we want for our children or from our children, but about what God in grace has planned to do through us in our children” (14).
  • “Humble, confessing parents encourage their children to be humble and confessing too, and the result is that they have many opportunities to talk about the rescuing love of Jesus” (40).
  • “Parenting is not a behavior-control mission; it is a heart-rescue mission” (109).
  • “Self-righteously pointing out the sin of others never works; it is offensive and condescending, and it will close down the hearts of your children. Ask God to give you the grace to come to them to talk to them about their sin as a person who is much more grieved by the sin that is inside you than the sin that is in them” (177).
  • “Your best opportunities to get at issues of the heart in your children won’t be on your schedule. They will come when you’re in a moment you neither planned nor expected… It is important to see these moments as opportunities of grace and resist turning a moment of ministry into a moment of anger” (206).

Posted June 8, 2020

“Letters to the Church” by Francis Chan

Recommendation by Pastor Gavin Kajikawa

Author, pastor and missionary, Francis Chan writes “Letters to the Church” because of his love for Christ’s bride. He has lived through the unique challenges of pastoring Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley in the 1990s and early 2000s. He saw the excitement of growing from a church that met in a home to becoming a megachurch, starting a Bible school, partnering with global organizations, and becoming a bestselling author. In 2010, he left. This helps provide the framework for the purpose of the book. Chan writes, “Since the beginning of time, there has been worship God loves and worship He rejects. As I examine the state of the Christian Church today, I can’t help but think that God is displeased with many of the churches in America.” (24)

The book has nine chapters or nine “letters” to the American Church that address different challenges the church faces. The author’s observations and at times critiques are based on his reading of how the New Testament church lived out their faith. You may not agree with everything he writes, but you will be challenged as you read God’s Word and examine your heart and how you view the church.

Here are a few quotes that will remind you of the tremendous blessing and challenge of being a part of Christ’s bride.

  • “You are a part of something much bigger than yourself, something sacred. Through Jesus’ sacrifice you have been joined to His Church. Because of this, you are not only a part of God’s sacred temple but also a part of the heavenly community.” (39)
  • “Too often we add in our own voices, thinking if we offer just the right services or package the gospel in just the right way so no one gets offended, we can convince people to stay. By catering our worship to the worshippers and not to the Object of our worship, I fear we have created human-centered churches.” (53)
  • “We have to stop viewing church leaders as people who minister to us. God clearly explained their role. It was not coddle you but to equip you.Think personal trainer, not massage therapist.” (91)
  • “May God forgive us for building our church empires on the foundation of our own arrogance!” (164)

Posted June 1, 2020

“Seven Arrows” by Matt Rogers and Donny Mathis

“Praying the Bible” by Donald Whitney

Recommendation by Pastor Kim Kira

Over the recent weeks we have looked at a couple of books in our Sunday sermons meant to encourage us as we pursue God. I wanted to highlight them this week and encourage you to consider them as a resource not only for your benefit, but for those you invest in.

First, Seven Arrows by Matt Rogers and Donny Mathis. It’s aim (pun intended), is to “aid all of God’s people in the task of reading, understanding, and applying God’s Word.” It is meant to provide a “clear, orderly, and memorable guide for studying any passage of Scripture.” I personally feel it accomplishes these goals, and I have seen my older kids already grow in their ability to study the Word using the Seven Arrows: A 52-Week Devotional for Teens. Maybe a better endorsement comes from Thomas Schreiner. He is one of my favorite biblical scholars (to say he is 10 times smarter than me would be an insult to him). He writes, “The entire book is wise and useful and will help many to apply the Bible to their own lives.”

The second book is Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney. I mentioned this during our prayer service, but it is a very clear and understandable explanation of how to use scripture to guide your time of prayer. Whitney writes, “So basically what you are doing is taking words that originated in the heart and mind of God and circulating them through your heart and mind back to God. By this means his words become the wings of your prayers.” What I appreciate is the simplicity of the method, coupled with its ability to guide your prayer time while still providing the freedom to pray for a wide variety of topics.

I believe both books would not only encourage your own pursuit of God, but be a grace as you disciple and invest in others.

Posted May 25, 2020

“A Bright Tomorrow: Facing the Future without Fear” by Jared Mellinger

Recommendation by Pastor Eufemio Magsombol Jr.

Jared Mellinger, author of “A Bright Tomorrow,” puts it well: “The future of every Christian is incredibly bright… Our future is more glorious than we know.” The problem is that we often fail to set our hearts on this truth. And so our hope falters, and our hearts fill with fear and anxiety when we consider the trials and uncertainties that we face.

“A Bright Tomorrow” is a book that reminds us to look to Christ. It begins by exploring the difficulty of facing our future with confidence. The author shares from his own experience and acknowledges that, without exception, trials will come for all of us, and many will struggle to face the future with confidence. And so we must allow Christ to speak to our fears.

The first section focuses on biblical hope: God’s grace, our guaranteed future, God’s unchanging promises, and His unfailing love. The second section explores how we can connect and apply biblical hope to specific areas of life: future trials, parental fears, cultural decline, aging, and dying. And it fittingly ends on a reflection on our greatest hope: when Christ will make all things new. This is our bright tomorrow!

I encourage you to check out “A Bright Tomorrow” if you’re looking for a concise and accessible resource on how to battle anxieties through the greater hope we have in Christ. Here are a few highlights:

  • “This book is not just for those who look to the future and are troubled. It is also for those who don’t tend to think much about the future… All Christians need to think rightly about the future. Christ sustains us, satisfies us, and changes us by the power of a forward-looking hope.”
  • “the way to live a fruitful life in the present is to embrace all that God has spoken about that bright future… When our thoughts of the future are ill-informed or full of doubt, it drains our joy and peace. But when our thoughts are biblically informed and full of faith, we flourish.”
  • “True Christianity is a life of hopeful expectation, resolute confidence, and absolute joy regarding the future… The Bible is utterly realistic about the brokenness and pain of this world and, at the same time, it is full of hope regarding the future because of Christ. And this hope is what sustains us through grief and trials of many kinds.”
  • “Do you believe that God will give you the grace you need for everything he calls you to and everything He brings your way? It is not a question concerning your faithfulness, but God’s faithfulness to His promises concerning you.”

Posted May 18, 2020

“Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers” by Dane Ortlund

Recommendation by Pastor Francis Chow

It was the book’s subtitle and its language of “sinners” and “sufferers” that first caught my attention for how this might be a helpful and relevant resources, especially for ministry at Lighthouse. Ortlund’s book was exactly that—not just for ministry to others, but for my own heart as well. Pastor Kim has often encouraged us to “fuel our faith” with truth about God. How can we expect to trust a God who we don’t really know? There’s a world of difference between knowing facts, for example, about your spouse versus knowing your spouse’s heart in relationship (an illustration that Ortlund apparently stole from Pastor Kim in the book).
Ortlund’s goal is to show us “the heart of Christ. Who is he? Who is he really? What is most natural to him? What ignites within him most immediately as he moves towards sinners and sufferers? What flows out most freely, most instinctively, Who is he?” (pg. 1). He does that by meditating in each chapter on a passage of Scripture or some teaching from the Puritans on what is said about Christ’s heart for us. (Discovering some of the quotes and works from Puritans like Goodwin, Sibbes, and Bunyan might be worth the price of the book alone!) The title, “Gentle and Lowly,” comes from Matthew 11:29, which Ortlund points out is the only place in the gospel accounts that Jesus tells us about his own heart.
One of the things that I appreciated most about this book was Ortlund’s ability to move beyond just “doctrine” to what that teaches us about the heart of Christ. For example, I am aware of biblical truths such as the fact that Jesus is our intercessor and advocate or that we as believers can call Him friend. But the book skillfully presents those ideas in a way that shows us Jesus’ heart and makes us run back to Him. Ortlund understands that it’s our natural sinful desire to believe otherwise (chapter 20 is titled “Our Law-ish Hearts, His Lavish Heart”), and so it’s especially necessary to refresh our understanding of Jesus’ heart for us from Scripture. On top of that, Ortlund is a gifted writer, as I found myself highlighting and underlining quotes that I’m sure I’ll return to later on.
Read this book! I’m confident that it will warm your love for Christ, whois gentle and lowly in heart. Here are some quotes for now:

  • “Every human friend has a limit. If we offend enough, if a relationship gets damaged enough, if we betray enough times, we are cast out. The walls go up. With Christ, our sins and weaknesses are the very resume items that qualify us to approach him. Nothing but coming to him is required—first at conversion and a thousand times thereafter until we are with him upon death.” (pg. 64)
  • “For those united to him, the heart of Jesus is not a rental; it is your new permanent residence. You are not a tenant; you are a child. His heart is not a ticking time bomb; his heart is the green pastures and still waters of endless reassurances of his presence and comfort, whatever our present spiritual accomplishments. It is who he is.” (pg. 66)

Posted May 11, 2020

“The Gospel Comes With a House Key” by Rosaria Butterfield

Recommendation by Pastor David Lee

Few books have shaken me up as much as “The Gospel Comes With a House Key.” The author, Rosaria Butterfield, paints a picture of the Christian life as one of “ordinary radical hospitality,” where Christians open our lives and homes to the strangers and neighbors around us for the ministry of the Gospel.

Butterfield boasts an intimidating pre-conversion resume. If ever the world were to have a champion of secular ideologies, Butterfield would have been the undisputed title holder. A distinguished professor in a liberal university, an active homosexual, a prominent leader in the LGBTQ community, an articulate and intelligent skeptic of the Christian metanarrative; one could hardly imagine a less likely candidate to be a follower of Jesus.

And yet God saved her miraculously (as he does in all salvations), not through academic arguments, but through the kind hospitality of a Christian pastor and his wife, who invited Butterfield into their home and life, and subsequently into the life of Christ. She has experienced firsthand the barrier-shattering potential of hospitality, which brings the Gospel to bear on the heart not through power and force and imposition, but with gentleness and kindness and sacrificial love.

So Butterfield is uniquely qualified to speak to the necessity of Christian hospitality for Gospel ministry:

“Radically ordinary hospitality is this: using your Christian home in a daily way that seeks to make strangers neighbors, and neighbors family of God. It brings glory to God, serves others, and lives out the Gospel in word and deed. If you are prohibited from using your living space in this way, it counts if you support in some way some household in your church that is doing it. The purpose of radically ordinary hospitality is to build, focus, deepen, and strengthen the family of God, pointing others to the Bible-believing local church and being earthly and spiritual good to everyone we know” (31).

While hospitality may look different now as we are confined to our homes, we are also more exposed to our neighbors than ever before. We may not be able to invite them into our home, but the sidewalk conversations, the bag of groceries, the batch of cookies, the empathetic questions about the difficulties of life can make the path straight for the King and his Gospel. The biblical call to hospitality is more important than ever, and Butterfield sounds that call with an unparalleled clarity and beauty.

Posted May 4, 2020

“Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament” by Mark Vroegop

Recommendation by Pastor Eric Cai

“Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy” is a book that I purchased last year when I decided to take our high schoolers through the book of Psalms. I wanted to touch on an aspect of the Psalms, and the Christian life, that had been largely neglected—the aspect of lament. Little did I know that this neglected aspect of the Christian life would come to the forefront of our lives, roughly half a year later when the coronavirus became a pandemic.

What do you do when your life plays out in the minor-key, when the mood of your life shifts from fullness, celebration, and joyful abundance to trial, sorrow, loss and pain? What do you do when you know that God is good, but life is also hard? Pastor Mark Vroegop believes that the faithful response is biblical lament. Biblical lament is “how we bring our sorrow to God, how [we] live between the poles of a hard life and trusting in God’s sovereignty (21).”

Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy is immensely practical (if you don’t believe me, there are ‘Learning-to-Lament’ worksheets found in the appendix). Each chapter concludes with reflection questions. More importantly, it shows us how there is mercy and grace to be found when we bring our complaints, sorrows, and laments before the living God. And if you or your family aren’t going through difficulty or suffering yourself, this book equips you on how to faithfully weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn. Pastor Mark believes that this minor-key song is vital to the life of God’s people and his book offers a guide on how to faithfully lament during a time such as ours. Perhaps through this book’s eye toward Scripture, we can learn the apostolic example of being “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10).

There are many helpful applications strewn throughout the book, but let me offer you a few quotes to motivate you to see why his book is necessary for our church and for your relationship with God:

  • “Without lament we won’t know how to help people walking through sorrows. Instead, we’ll offer trite solutions, unhelpful comments, or impatient responses. What’s more, without this sacred song of sorrow, we’ll miss the lessons historic laments are intended to teach us.” (21).
  • “A third of the official songbook of Israel wrestles with pain,” (30).
  • “Choosing to trust through lament requires that we rejoice without knowing how all the dots connect. We decide to let God be his own interpreter, trusting that somehow his gracious plan is being worked out—even if we can’t see it,” (79).
  • “[Lament] is the prayer language that stakes its claim on the promises of God in the pains of life. Dark clouds may come, but divine mercy never ends,” (191).

Posted April 27, 2020

“Caring For One Another” by Ed Welch

Recommendation by Pastor Mat

Like most of you, I find it difficult and even painful to know that for however long God has us, physical distancing will continue to be the norm. We look forward to the days when we can greet each other with warm hugs, share a meal in person, laugh and cry together. But while physical distancing is the norm, relational distancing does not have to be. In the absence of physical presence, how can we continue to be involved in each other’s lives? How can we grow in relational closeness when physical closeness is a near impossibility?

In a short book spanning 8 chapters in 71 pages, Ed Welch’s “Caring for One Another,” helps us answer that question thoughtfully, wisely, practically, and biblically. It is a book that we’ve given to all our small group leaders to help personally and actively take steps to cultivate meaningful relationships and one that I have come back to time and time again. In this book I am reminded that although I might not be able to offer much, God uses my everyday conversations to move people toward Christ and build up His church. Especially in a time like this, this book reminds us that we can not only grow deeper with each other despite the absence of physical presence, but more deeply build each other up in Christ. Along with the discussion and study questions at the end of each chapter, we have also written one for you to help practice the contents of each chapter.

Here are some quotes to whet your appetite:

  • “Humility simply acknowledges our many sins and limitations, and it responds with, ‘I need Jesus, and I need other people.’”
  • “We do not deny the hardships of life. Rather, we want to speak them to the God who hears, remember his promises and faithful love, and grow in trust him.”
  • “Prayer joins together our knowledge of others, our love for them, and our knowledge of God and his promises.”
  • “God uses ordinary people and their increasingly wise, childlike, God-dependent conversations to build his church. These do not depend on our brilliance in order to be helpful; they depend on Jesus.”

Posted April 20, 2020

“When God Weeps” by Joni Eareckson Tada

Recommendation by Pastor Tim

The honor of counseling those who are suffering seems to always come with challenging questions like: “Why me, God?”,“How long will I have to suffer?”, and “What is God’s purpose for allowing all this pain?” Joni Eareckson Tada’s book, “When God Weeps,” takes up these challenging questions and answers them biblically, personally, and with a focus on Christ.

In the beginning, Joni recommends that you not read the book if you’re still angry. But Joni’s writing is so personal that I think you will find your heart softening as you read the book, even if your heart is still wrestling with present suffering. The theology of suffering is focused on Christ and is beautifully woven with stories of her own suffering and the stories of those she has ministered to. Her stories of suffering have been forged during more than forty years in a wheelchair as a quadriplegic. Yet every one of her stories are Christ-centered and as you read you get to witness how she wrestled through her suffering again and again to center her heart on Christ.

However Covid-19 is touching your life, this book can comfort you through the pain, help you see Christ’s purposes in your suffering, and equip you to care for those hurting around you. If you’d like to use it as a discipleship tool, our counseling ministry has written a study guide to go with it. You can download it here.

Here are a few quotes to help you see the personal, practical, and Christ-centered qualities of this work:

  • “Gut-wrenching questions honor God. Despair directed at God is a way of encountering him, opening ourselves up to the One and only Someone who can actually do something about our plight. And whether we, like Greg, collide with the Almighty or simply bump up against him, we cannot be the same. We never are when we experience God.”  (155)
  • “God, like a father, doesn’t just give advice. He gives himself. He becomes the husband to the grieving widow (Isaiah 54:5). He becomes the comforter to the barren woman (Isaiah 54:1). He becomes the father of the orphaned (Psalm 10:14). He becomes the bridegroom to the single person (Isaiah 62:5). He is the healer to the sick (Exodus 15:26). He is the wonderful counselor to the confused and depressed (Isaiah 9:6). This is what you do when someone you love is in anguish; you respond to the plea of their heart by giving them your heart.” (125)

Posted April 13, 2020

“A Praying Life” by Paul Miller

Recommendation by Pastor Wayne

COVID-19 has been a wake-up call to the world that we are not at all in control of our lives. With each passing day, we are left wondering when and how life will return to “normal” and when this pandemic will finally end. At the same time, as Christians we know that God is sovereign and actively working in and through all the circumstances in our lives for His glory and our good. But how do we make sense of life when it does not make sense?

With those thoughts, I highly recommend “A Praying Life” by Paul E. Miller. This book explores the ideas of what it means to pray helplessly like a child, what it means to trust Jesus in a world of cynicism, and how to live not in our story, but in our Father’s story. This resource also provides very practical and helpful suggestions on how to cultivate a life of prayer.

Here are a few quotes that I hope will encourage you towards a life of prayer during this season of uncertainty:

  • “If God is sovereign, then he is in control of all the details of my life. If he is loving, then he is going to be shaping the details of my life for my good. If he is all-wise, then he’s not going to do everything I want because I don’t know what I need. If he is patient, then he is going to take time to do all this. Whenwe put all these things together – God’s sovereignty, love, wisdom, and patience – we have a divine story” (10).
  • “The only way to come to God is by taking off any spiritual mask. The real you has to meet the real God. He is a person” (21).
  • “When you stop trying to control your life and instead allow your anxieties and problems to bring you to God in prayer, you shift from worry to watching.You watch God weave his patterns in the story of your life. Instead of trying to be out front, designing your life, you realize you are inside God’s drama. As you wait, you begin to see him work, and your life begins to sparkle with wonder” (60).
  • “God wants to do something bigger than simply answer my prayers. The act of praying draws God into my life and begins to change me, the pray-er, in subtle ways” (148).

Posted April 6, 2020

“A Small Book for the Anxious Heart” by Ed Welch

Recommendation by Pastor Gavin Kajikawa

Yesterday you heard Pastor Kim preach on how Jesus changes our anxious and worrying hearts, so I’d like to recommend Ed Welch’s book, “A Small Book for the Anxious Heart.”

This topic is something I was thinking about and wrestling with before Covid-19, and now the virus has turned up the heat. The range of my worry is vast, multilayered, and complex, so I’m glad that this book has helped put descriptors to what I’m feeling and, more importantly, has pointed me to Christ, my rock and salvation.

The book is broken into 50 daily meditations focused on a particular theme. At the end of each day are a few questions for you to reflect and meditate on. This book can be read individually, but you may benefit more by reading it with others and sharing your thoughts to the questions via emails, texts, or a phone call.

Here are a few quotes that you’ll read as you treasure Christ more.

  • “The rhythm of your journey is simple: You speak and God listens; God speaks and you listen . . . Whenever God speaks to you about your fears, you can be sure he will say something about being close.” (4-5)
  • “Worries can be born in the past, live in the future, and invade the present. They focus our attention on things over which we are relatively powerless, and they take our attention away from the mission that is right in front of us. Stay in the present.” (27)
  • “The basic idea is that what we fear controls us. Rather than being controlled by things and people in creation, we want to be controlled by the Creator.” (164)

Posted March 30, 2020

“God’s Grace in your Suffering” by David Powlison

Recommendation by Pastor Kim Kira

“In these unique times, suffering is a common experience. Though the type and intensity varies, I don’t know anyone that has been untouched in some way by the Coronavirus. In light of this, one book I would recommend is “God’s Grace in your Suffering” by David Powlison. 

It is a small book, but possibly my favorite on the topic. It is the right blend of being theological, personal, and practical and has the unique ability to draw our gaze to Christ amidst the storms of life. The structure is a simultaneous walk through of the great hymn, “How Firm a Foundation” and various passages of Scripture.

Here are a couple of powerful quotes:

  • “God’s voice speaks deeper than what hurts, brighter than what is dark, more enduring than what is lost, truer than what has happened” (page 28).
  • “Paul wrote, “The firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are his'” (2 Tim. 2:19). This excellent Word never changes. The Lord knows you. This reality is the single most important thing about you. You are his. This truth makes the decisive difference in how you walk down hard roads” (page 33). We need these glorious truths during times like these!”

Posted October 19, 2020

Starting the Morning Satisfied

So much information these days. So much confusion. Before we lend our ears to all other voices, let us prepare our hearts for the day by setting ourselves upon Christ.

If You Don’t See Beauty, Do You Really Know God As Well As You Thought?

God is creative and beautiful. His creation recognizes and testifies to this. Consider His goodness and wisdom in creation and then join in to praise God for the wonderful works of His hands. 

The Absurdity of Pride

Pride strikes at what it means to be created in the image of God. We forget how we are dependent upon our Maker and accountable to Him. Jesus Christ shows us a better way.

Don’t Quarrel Over Opinions But Welcome One Another

These days, unity is a forgotten essential. As the church, we can testify to the power of the good news by how we love each other, show grace, and strive for gospel unity before a contentious world.

Do Not Trust Your Anger

Let’s not be quick to validate our anger, but inspect and measure it against the Scriptures. We can trace it back to our hearts that we might grow in Christlikeness.

Seize the Day’s Interruptions

If we believe and trust in God’s sovereignty, then interruptions and unplanned events are divinely ordained that we might honor Christ with these opportunities. Love can be inconvenient and messy, but those are the moments it can be more evidently from God.

3 Ways to Survive and Thrive in a Presidential Election Season

These are good principles to keep in mind and apply throughout the election season and beyond. As Christians, we should be distinct in how we view, talk, and participate in politics.

Posted October 12, 2020

Steady as the Seasons Change

Have you traced creation back to the Creator? As we enter fall, let the cyclic nature of seasons remind you of God’s faithfulness and sovereignty.

We Look to Him

Simple and straightforward, set your gaze on Christ. So many things today can distract or cloud our vision to Christ, but look to Him as your source of hope, strength, and confidence.

You Can Lead Family Worship: Common Hurdles Fathers Can Overcome

The thought of conducting family worship may seem overwhelming, but may this article encourage you to establish this practice in your household. Consistency is key in cultivating a culture to love God and one another.

Parents, the Little Moments Matter Most

On the topic of consistency, let’s not overlook the impact of the little moments. In some ways, these opportunities are a better reflection of our relationship and our heart for our children.

God and Government

As a follow up to our mini-series on government, Kevin DeYoung offers some shrewd thoughts on the topic. There’s much to weigh and consider as the election approaches. 

How to Pray When You’re Feeling Anxious

A longer article, but a timely one that calls us to marshal our anxiety as motivation to pray. The author closes with some practical helps for fostering a heart with a propensity towards God through prayer.

Should We Expect Our Jobs to Make Us Happy?

How are we to rightly view our jobs as Christians? Work is a gift from God for His worship and we can derive a level of happiness from it, but it was never intended to sustain or satisfy our souls.

Posted October 5, 2020

Eyes that See More

Many things are vying for our attention these days. Let’s not forget to use God’s gifts as a telescope to behold His glory and worship Him.

Forgiveness Is Spiritual Warfare

Have you ever considered how divine it is to truly forgive someone? In Christ, we are given the gift to forgive another person’s wrong and it’s one means of grace to grow and help others grow to be more like Christ.

The Church Is You, So the Church Will Be Like You

We need to understand we all play a role and participate in creating a certain culture within the church. How we are individually contributes to how we are corporately, so may we grow in godliness to adorn the church with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Siblinghood of the Saints

Here’s an encouragement for how to encourage and foster relationships with others in the church. As the family of God, we can show the world a better way in our interactions with the opposite gender.

Sisters, You Have Permission to Lead an Ordinary Life

There is nothing particularly godlier about leading an “extraordinary” life. Since God is sovereign and always worthy of glory, we can render Him honor even in the simple and regular. This is a timely word in a season where we’re confined more and preoccupied with “ordinary” things.

How to Hold Your Tongue About Politics And Thereby Not Split Your Church Over Things the Bible Doesn’t Talk About: AN ADDENDUM

While this article is primarily written to pastors, there’s much to glean here for the upcoming election. We need biblical wisdom, self control, and much grace from God. 

10 Things You Should Know about the Danger of Media

From this past Sunday, we do well to consider one of Pastor Kim’s points of staying off of social media. This article expands on 10 potential dangers about social media. Let us strive to represent Christ well in every platform.

Posted September 28, 2020

7 Tips for Reading the Bible with Another Person

At times, reading your Bible may be hard, but you don’t have to do it alone. Sometimes it can be beneficial to read the Scriptures with another person. Here are some practical tips and blessings from enjoying God’s Word with another. 

Holy Is Who You Are: A Missing Weapon in the War Against Sin

Having a biblical understanding of our identity shapes our pursuits and provides hopes during hard times. This article outlines ways we fight sign and seek Christ, because as saints redeemed by God, that is what have been made holy.

Wisdom and Knowledge

If we want to be wise as Christians in this world, we need the knowledge of God contained in God’s Word.. There is no way to microwave our maturity than to be devoted as students of the Scriptures.

The Blessing of (Good) Authority

We don’t have an issue with authority when it’s our own. We bristle when someone else’s authority encroaches on our own. But if we submit to God’s authority and see it as good, it gives us a framework for how to wield our own and be grateful when we see the benefit that can come from good authority.

In Praise of Uncomfortable Friendships

We often measure our friendships based on how well we get along with another person. While this indeed can be a blessing, we also need good friends who will care more about Christ and our growth than keeping our relationship comfortable.

Becoming an Old Soul Christian

It is easy to get swept up with the latest fad, even in the Christian context. Yet we know God is our constant. He is our anchor and we can build our life on Him. Maybe we continue to be refreshed by HIs sustaining grace.

Posted September 21, 2020

Denying Yourself Is Loving Yourself

We might be tempted to believe that denying ourselves is the opposite of loving ourselves. Yet the Bible often flips our assumptions on their head and shows us a surprising but better way.

How Shall I Love My Neighbor? By Keeping the Law!

To return to a similar point from Sunday’s message, the love of God and the command to love are not in contradiction. This article reveals how obedience to God’s law enables, guides, and strengthens our call to love one another. 

No Hand But His Ever Holds the Shears

Part of being comforted when we are painfully pruned by God is knowing who does the pruning. God intends for us to thrive and bear fruit. Sometimes this can only be accomplished as we are refined through our trials.

What Are We Arguing About?

Contentious times call for tact and wisdom on the real issues at stake. Kevin DeYoung’s article offers some suggestions for the recent events and discerning where disagreements truly lie.

Christian, be a Peacemaker

Being a peacemaker is about being like Christ. It is a trait we need to be working on and cultivating in our lives. The author points to a few areas where we can represent our Lord and Savior well in this.

10 Bible Passages That Help Us Persevere

What’s encouraging about this article is the simple testimonies of people who have been edified and blessed from Scripture. It shows us the Word is sufficient and powerful to sustain us if we would meditate on it.

How the Psalms Teach Us Contentment

Along similar veins as the previous resource, this one considers how contentment is found nowhere else, but in God. The Psalms express real people in their real quest for satisfaction found only in a real relationship with God.

Posted September 14, 2020

Why Is It So Hard to Read My Bible These Days?

The struggle is real. This article outlines why it may be particularly challenging to read our Bibles these days. The community of faith spurs us to be diligent and disciplined in studying the Scriptures. Reach out to someone in the church for encouragement and accountability.

The Real Problem of Prayer

Prayer. When we really consider this privilege, it should compel us to draw near to the throne of grace. Keep the Trinity and our blessed relationship in view and let that cultivate a joy to commune with our living God.

How Perfectionism Makes You a Spiritual Quitter

In a society, where productivity and perfection are highly regarded, it is good to know there’s God grace for our reading plans and times of prayer. This is a helpful and encouraging corrective to rest in Christ. 

Enjoying Imperfection

This article rounds out some of the ideas developed in the previous. In our imperfection, we are reminded and steered towards the only One who is perfect. That frees us to grow in our relationship with God as well as serve and pursue others.

Recovering the Lost Art of Edification

These days, where we’re sequestered and relegated to being more physically disconnected, it’s easy to be loose with our words. As believers, we ought to marshal and deploy our words to impart grace to those who hear. It requires practice and discipline to learn this skill.

Why Has Quarantine Made Me So Angry?

The trying circumstances of this pandemic has caused hidden sins to emerge from our hearts. Anger has been a common vice many of us have been battling. We can redeem these moments as they teach us about the condition of our souls and point us to the patience of God.

Posted September 7, 2020

Love What’s Near

In our ambition to do something great for Christ, it is easy to overlook the opportunities God provides right in front of us. As we begin our small group series on caring for one another, this article encourages us to think through ways we can love those God has placed around us.

Suffering and Hope in the Time of COVID-19

Even our suffering is administered to us by God’s good hand. In light of this past Sunday’s sermon, here are some ways to respond to our difficulties while acknowledging God is pruning us so we bear more fruit.

Intimacy Comes Through Trembling

What I appreciate the most about this article is simply putting us in a posture of awe at the majesty and glory of God. To know God is not drudgery, but the greatest delight and that provides the impetus for everything else.

Are Christians More Confident in Politics Than in Christ?

Let us remember our hope and dismay is never ultimately in a political leader. Jesus is king, so we place our confidence in Him. If this be true, it should affect how we approach politics.

The Dignity of Every Kind of Work

The value of our work is not necessarily inherent in what we do, but who and how we do it for. From sweeping a broom to brokering a huge business deal, we can honor and worship God.

A Case for Being Honest with Your Elders

Part of the joy and responsibility of church leadership is shepherding the flock. Elders are greatly helped when people are willing to seek help in humility and honesty. Reach out!

Posted August 31, 2020

The Quiet Power of Ordinary Devotions

Following Sunday’s sermon on abiding in Christ, this article shows us how indispensable our devotions are. Do you realize the power of time in the Word? This simple habit of reading the Scriptures rehearses how apart from Christ, we can do nothing.

When Solomon’s Fool Created a Social Media Platform

These days, social media seems unavoidable. Whether that’s true or not, we should evaluate how we are utilizing various platforms and ensuring we are engaging in a manner that is worthy of the gospel.

You Didn’t Do ‘Nothing’ Today

Ordinary lives filled with routine tasks doesn’t mean we’re doing nothing. What we do in faith and truth can be done unto the Lord.

Who Defines Your Joy?

Our joy is a person. When we come to see this truth, it affords us much strength when we are suffering or undergoing a hard trial. This article unpacks how knowing God is with us can help us navigate through the difficulties of life.

We Need Wisdom, Not Wealth

In a time where it’s easy to cling to our wealth, this article calls us to examine our need for something far more valuable: wisdom. The good news is that God is eager to bless His children with His wisdom.

4 Qualities of God-Honoring Work

Our work is one way we worship. More than passing time or earning a paycheck, R. Kent

Posted August 24, 2020

Have You Been Isolated from the Herd?

In light of Sunday’s sermon, let us care for one another by adopting a herd mentality. We should know we belong to a community and seek to serve and love people who have committed to.

Lessons In Becoming a Better Listener

One of the ways we can move towards others and cultivate relationships is through better listening. As Pastor Mat highlighted, we need to listen intently to what’s going on in people’s lives so we can minister rightly. 

The Heartache of Rejected Counsel

As we care for one another, we risk being rejected. It comes with the territory, but we can find much comfort and strength knowing God stands by us.

To Grow, You Must Practice

Spiritual growth can’t be microwaved. There’s no shortcut around maturing in our faith, but to practice the things we have learned. We understand this principle for many aspects of our life and it’s one we need to apply to our faith.

Woe Is Me: The Sin of Self-Pity and How to Be Free

Self-pity can be a subtle form of pride. The key in our obsession with ourselves is to look outward. This article highlights what we are failing to see about God, His promises, and ourselves when we wallow in self-pity. 

Shedding Our Chameleon Skin

We all like to project an image of ourselves that may not be completely accurate to who we truly are. But the gospel frees us by giving us a new identity. We need to rehearse this reality by speaking the truth in love to one another as well as ourselves.

Posted August 17, 2020

Ministry Belongs to the Members: How God Uses Ordinary Saints
In light of this past Sunday’s sermon, this article reinforces how the joy of ministry belongs to the members of the church. While this is a unique season, our calling and privilege as the church is still the same.

Why You Should Join a Church
Part of serving is committing yourself to the church. Our church is having membership classes for those who want to formally commit to Lighthouse as their spiritual family. This article provides worthy considerations.

Fear Your Fear of Man
As we serve in the church or work in our jobs, let us be watchful of how the fear of man can creep into our motivations and shapes our behaviors. The way to combat this vice is to elevate God to His proper place.

The Back-to-School Supplies Parents Need
For most, school is back, which means the hustle and bustle of getting kids ready. One of the best ways parents can be prepared is by checking our hearts and deliberating over how we can leverage the new challenges of this school year.

Suffering and the Joy before Us
When we suffer, God wants us to turn to Him. In our times of need, God desires to show us His sufficiency. Trust in the truth of God’s Word until it strengthens you to endure knowing God is doing something good.

Humble Prayer Under Humbling Providences
Pray. One of the clear lessons of 2020 is to be a people of prayer. There is probably no ministry that is as accessible and as powerful as when we cry out to our omnipotent and caring Father.

Posted August 10, 2020

How 2020 Is Taking a Toll on Your Soul

A beneficial read to teach us our finitude is for our good and to examine the effect of technology on our hearts. It goes well with our church’s sermon on Zoom fatigue from a couple weeks ago.

Brave Words with a Broken Heart

I love this biblical juxtaposition of bravery and brokenness. When we are people marked by humility, we will be courageous in how we love others, even with hard truths. I want to be more like Jesus, the Lion and the Lamb.

How Can I Be a Workplace Servant But Not a Doormat?

We must remember our call to serve is one that is modeled by Christ who is a servant-leader. This article provides some clarity on what this might look like in the workplace as well as other arenas we are called to follow in the footsteps of our Lord and Savior. 

Raising Children in a Success Obsessed World

To reinforce Pastor Kim’s Sunday sermon, Christina Fox helps us discern what true success in parenting looks like. It begins with parents who seek to worship God so that what is taught is also caught. 

Mothering My Child’s Spirit

Here are obstacles we can remove so we might present Christ in our household. Some of these principles can be applied across the board to other relationships in our lives: coworkers, friends, neighbors. 

Where Will Your Twenties Take You?

Regardless of age or station in life, these are good ways to build a solid foundation for life in Christ and in the church. In our lives, may we continually endeavor to grow in our faithfulness.

Sometimes “Love Your Enemy” Means “Love Your Spouse”

Perhaps a clickbait title, but Challies offers good incentive for considering how we should love our spouses selflessly. Surely if Christ calls us to love our enemies in sacrificial ways, the love we demonstrate towards our spouse should go above and beyond.

Posted August 3, 2020

Apart for Now: Why We Long for Face to Face

In light of Sunday’s sermon, we can be stewarding this season to better perceive God’s grace. One of the lessons God made me teaching us is a longing for the church, so we would not take it for granted when we can gather again in the future.

Love is Inconvenient

No one denies shelter-in-place has made our lives inconvenient, but have you considered loving is inconvenient? This is a time where the cost of love is obvious as an opportunity to truly grow and serve.

Pruning

Perhaps God is using this painful circumstance to expose sin hidden in your heart. Take this as God’s grace to be pruned so you might bear more fruit for your joy and His glory.

Have a Little Patience

Patience is what we want to be, but not what we want to learn. Yet as the coronavirus has forced us to press pause and wait, this is the season to be stretched in patience.

4 Questions about Parenting and Screen Time

Let’s be honest. This series of questions and answers can be applied not only to our children, but to us as well. Many good principles to really deliberate over.

Defeating Despair

Here’s the article Pastor Kim referenced this Sunday. Use it as a springboard to analyze your heart and how you are interpreting various circumstances.

Millions of Kids Won’t Be at School This Fall. Christians Can Step Up to Serve.

This article contains some practical ways to address real concerns coming up. Consider how you can serve and be a witness to Christ. Our own seminar on schooling at home might provide insights as well.

Posted July 27, 2020

The Church Irreplaceable: Why God’s People Must Gather

Perhaps you’re tired of shelter-in-place and experiencing Zoom fatigue. While technology is a wonderful gift, the church is irreplaceable. Let this season be one of growing in our understanding and appreciation of the church so when we can gather again we serve with greater vigor and gratitude.

5 Reasons the Trinity Matters So Much

As we plunge deeper into the farewell discourse in the gospel of John, here are five reasons why the Trinity is indispensable to the Christian faith. May we seek to grow in our understanding of God that we might worship Him rightly.

Enjoying God Is a Command

We may feel that being commanded to rejoice in the Lord is a paradox. Yet, In his shrewd and inimitable way, Sinclair Ferguson exhorts us to consider four avenues to encourage us to enjoy God.

Do You Orient Yourself Toward Others?

Sure, our bodies may be bound, but our hearts don’t have to. We can still position our lives towards each other and creatively come up with ways to mutually edify each other.

40 Years Married

Ed Welch celebrates and reflects on 40 years married. He muses on how this good and gracious blessing points him to the greatest marriage to come. Let the goal of marriage inform and sharpen our marriages.

Parents: To Join Social Media Is To Witness Death

We live in a day and age where social media is unavoidable. For all it’s benefits, there are dangers and disadvantages we need to be aware of, not only for our own souls, but for those we have a responsibility to love and encourage.

Don’t Look for Community in the Church. Be the Community

As we struggle with isolation and feeling cut off, we may long for community. While community is important, it is created and strengthened when our focus is on Christ and being the community.

Posted July 20, 2020

Seeing the World in Black and White

Troubling times surface the sins residing within our hearts. Here’s an excellent article with a lot of wisdom on how we need to evaluate our assumptions. Let’s seek to be loving and gracious in our pursuits of what is right and just.

There Are No Shortcuts to Growth

In a day and age where we’re looking to get an edge or for the fastest solution, there’s no way to expedite our spiritual maturity. When we search for means to microwave our faith, we lose sight that Jesus is the end.

Drained and Depressed by the Internet? Go Outside.

Perhaps this season of quarantine has forced us to enjoy creation, to be reminded of our smallness and God’s bigness. With such an influx of social media, it might serve us to unplug to observe and appreciate God’s sovereignty and wisdom.

Help! I Find Myself Perpetually Discontent

Discontentment is something we’re more likely to wrestle with right now. Erik Raymond suggests ways we can combat this struggle and cultivate contentment.

Engaging Our Emotions, Engaging with God

It is good to know we have a God who is not distant and apathetic to us and our plights. In fact, emotions are designed by God to enable us to engage with Him, with our world, and with each other.

10 Flavors of Works-Based Salvation

Here are ten ways we may be distorting the free gift of salvation and be trying to earn it. We need the help of the Holy Spirit to recognize these aberrations and to grow in our love for Christ that our obedience follows.

Hoarding Hope: The Disturbing Quiet of Quarantine

Since we’re on lockdown, we may falsely assume we’re excused from proclaiming the good news. But the hope we’re afforded in and through Christ is never meant to be hoarded, but shared. The circumstances may change, but the command doesn’t.

Posted July 13, 2020

Why We Long for Intimacy with God

As we are separated and physically distanced, it is good to know nothing can separate us from the love of God. In Christ, we can rejoice in the simple yet profound truth that He is with us.

‘No One Understands!’ Lessons for Lonely Sufferers

Elaborating on the Sunday sermon, this article speaks to how we’re never alone in our struggles and troubles. The author shares four verses to memorize and work through when we feel the loneliness of suffering rising upon us.

A Habit You Didn’t Know You Needed

While this article is written with application directly for women, I believe we can all benefit from the principles shared. As we find ourselves busy and inundated with content and voices, it serves us well to carve out time to listen to God.

Your Seat in Church Is a Seat in Heaven

How we love the church and long one day to be physically present. Until that time, let us remember the privilege, blessing, and high calling of belonging to Christ as His family here on earth.

My Great Daily Challenge As a Christian

Living in such a technologically advanced world, a constantly changing culture, and a fast paced society, it is easy to apply the same outlook onto our Christian life. Challies pauses to consider what is the great daily challenge for us as Christians.

Parenting Advice for Pastors

This article is longer, but contains wise and insightful principles that will pay dividends in our parenting. Many of the same ideas can also be translated to other relationships we have.

Christian Colleges and COVID: A Gospel Moment

The president of Biola University shares an exhortation to college students who have difficulty redeeming this frustrating season. In reality, he speaks to many of us since we all could be served by the encouragement of persevering that we might mature in Christlikeness.

Posted July 6, 2020

4 Reasons to Wear a Mask, Even if You Hate It

Some don’t mind wearing masks. Others abhor it. Wherever you land on the spectrum and in light of this past Sunday’s sermon, this article provides some considerations for how our love for Christ and one another should shape our thoughts and behavior on this very issue. 

The Fear of the Lord . . . for today?

The fear of the Lord is a reoccurring and important theme in the Bible. Ed Welch serves us well by attempting to explain this profound topic.

Do not Let the Algorithm Control You

Social distance is on all of our minds. However, have you thought of social media distancing? While quarantined at home, we are consuming a lot of social media. This is a needed exhortation to evaluate the effect this has upon our heart.

Prayer Will Win the Nations: Three Ways to Pray for Missionaries

In a time where we’re sheltering-in-place and focused on our own troubles, we can still be part of the Great Commission. We can pray. Prayer is the indispensable way we partner with missionaries across the world.

The Mission Field I Never Expected

Speaking of missions, we don’t have to go far to advance the gospel. For many of us, it takes place in our own homes, with our family or children. From marriages to parenting to loving roommates, God sovereignly gives opportunities to love and people to serve.

How Much Patriotism Is Too Much Patriotism?

This year’s Independence Day felt very different from previous years. How should we view our nation? Piper is insightful and balanced. “Never feel more attached to your fatherland or your tribe or your family than you do to the people of Christ.”

Posted June 29, 2020

Small Decisions Matter: Discernment for Everyday Life

If our aim is to glorify God in everything we do, then even the small decisions matter. Instead of allowing the prospect of this making us anxious or leaving us petrified, we can plead for God’s grace and wisdom. 

Groaning, Waiting, Hoping: How to Live in a Fallen, Fragile World

COVID-19 has made many of us long for a return to the way life used to be. But as Christians, that’s not where our hope should be stationed. We groan, wait, hope, and live for a better country.

Help! I Can’t Stay Consistent with My Bible Reading

For those struggling with their Bible reading plans or goals, here’s an encouraging read. Let’s trust God’s faithfulness as we obey and nourish our souls in the Scriptures.

Conflict Isn’t Always Bad

Shelter-in-place has likely increased the frequency of conflicts at home. Instead of being discouraged, we should see conflicts of opportunities of grace. These are the moments where we can apply what we heard in this last Sunday’s sermon to love even when it’s unfair.

4 Ways Not to Be a Jerk Online

It is a sad commentary on our times that an article like this has to be written. Still, there’s a lot to glean and put into practice with how we extend grace and charity to each other. This should be true even in our interactions online.

Systemic Racism, God’s Grace, and the Human Heart: What the Bible Teaches About Structural Sin

A bit more of an academic read, Al Mohler is still able to distill and summarize what the Bible teaches about structural sin. Even if you don’t agree with everything, the article provides a lot to consider and pray through.

The Power of Double Listening

While the application is more towards preaching, the principle can be applied to how we study Scripture in our context as well as for how we counsel each other. May God be gracious to give us wisdom so we can “connect the gospel to people’s deepest longings.”

Posted June 22, 2020

What You Should Know About My Empty Chair in Church

As our church moves towards reopening, let’s be charitable with others. We may have a variety of opinions on the best way to do this, but we can all agree that what’s best is to pray for one another and show grace.

10 Unforgettable Lessons on Fatherhood

An oldie, but a good one. Ray Ortlund shares lessons he gleaned while observing and being taught by his father. An encouraging read, the key idea is stewarding our influence on others to foster a greater love for Christ and the gospel.

Contentment Isn’t Passive

Contentment is a lifelong struggle, one that has probably been intensified in the pandemic. This article points us to God who is at work in bringing us into likeness with His Son–and that’s where our true contentment is found and that’s what we actively strive after.

How to Pray for Your Kids This Summer

It may not feel like it, but summer is upon us. Sam Crabtree outlines ways we can be praying for our children. In a lot of ways, these prayers can be lifted for ourselves and others since we are all seeking to mature in Christ.

fear

We live in an age where social media and shame culture has shaped how quick or reluctant we are to comment on the latest issue. But what if we spoke openly about our love for Jesus. Alan Jacobs considers what faithfully confessing our faith in Jesus might look like in a time where devotion to Christ is costly.

Tend Your Own Garden

With so much unrest and brokenness going on in our world, we may feel overwhelmed and as if our efforts are pointless. But God has called us all to be responsible and faithful in what He has entrusted to us. Let us strive to honor God in the spheres of influence and the gifts He’s given.

Don’t Let Your Politics Ruin Your Witness

In this strange season, there’s no denying the prominence of politics. But as Christians, let’s be known for our allegiance to Jesus above our political affiliation. This is a longer article, but I think there’s value in thinking through some of the concerns this author raises so we might better represent Christ as Lord and Savior.

Posted June 15, 2020

The Monotony of the Wilderness: Are You Just Marking Time?

In this season of coronavirus, many of us can definitely relate with the monotony and routine of our days. While it seems like there’s little to glean from this repetitive season, God can use the seemingly endless mundane to stretch our faith and make us more like Christ.

10 Reasons to Come Back to Church after COVID-19

Some of us may have grown accustomed or even prefer worshipping from home. Regardless where you fall on the spectrum, here’s an article highlighting the necessity of gathering together in person. Please pray for the leaders for wisdom on how to lead our church through this process as well as our love and graciousness towards one another.

Our Present Moment: Why Is It So Hard?

Kevin DeYoung takes a stab at teasing out what is going on with the latest issues in our country. With clarity and wisdom, he provides helpful considerations to make sense of what’s going on, how our nation is reacting, and what we can do.

A Compassionate, Counter-Cultural, Christian Response

Our culture has reacted strongly to the recent events. As Christians, our reaction may appear similar to a certain extent, but there should be some aspects where our response is counter-cultural and filled with the aroma of Christ.

Empathize with Good Cops in This Time of Rightly Calling out Bad Ones

I am thankful for this article. With so many writing on race and injustice (and rightly so), Randy Alcorn sheds light on how we should think of, honor, and encourage good police officers who risk their lives to do their jobs.

Prayer Is Activism

These days, we are so quick to act. We want to do something about the wrong we see and we want to do it right away. So let’s pray. As Christians, let us never forget one of the greatest privileges and powers we have at our disposal: prayer.

12 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Posting Something Online

Along the same lines, here’s a very practical way to evaluate whether you should engage online or post something to social media. Let’s be wise, thoughtful, and loving in all our interactions. While this article is written primarily to pastors, it has application for all.

Posted June 8, 2020

Let the First Voice Be His

We live in an era where everyone has an opinion on the current events. Vast amounts of information is readily accessible on our phones or at the click of a mouse. The temptation is to turn to experts, scholars, and leaders for their take on latest issues. But there’s no source of wisdom better than from the One above. Seek Him first.

Say Something

Our hearts are broken by the brokenness of this world. As we consider what we are to do and how we are to respond, Ed Welch offers some practical suggestions on where to begin.

“A Thinking Person’s Checklist,” by Alan Jacobs

In light of the previous article, this one provides some wise balance on how we should think and process before we act. Justin Taylor synthesizes the main points of Alan Jacob’s popular book.

George Floyd and Me

However you may feel about George Floyd and racial injustice, Shai Linne’s sharing allows us to understand and empathize more while encouraging us to place our ultimate hope in the God gracious enough to create us in His image and provide salvation through His Son.

Pandemics, Digital Media, and Anxiety

We ought to be cognizant of all the benefits and detriments of digital media. Like any tool, in order to leverage its benefits, we also need to be cautious of potential pitfalls and how it can harm us. This article does a fair and good job of presenting considerations we should have on our relationship with digital media in this season of coronavirus.

What If Marriage Isn’t Making Me As Holy As I Had Hoped?

While written to the married, there’s much in this article for all of us to consider, because it deals with holiness. Challies does a good job in setting our expectations and framing our understanding of growing in godliness this side of eternity. May we strive for holiness individually and in the relationships entrusted to us.

Can We Weep With Those Who Weep

We need to be thoughtful and critical as we navigate through droves of information, both data and anecdotes. This article is longer, but I believe it’s worth the read. The author draws a balanced and helpful conclusion.

Posted June 1, 2020

7 Arrows for Bible Reading

Two weeks ago, Pastor Kim referenced a helpful method for studying Scripture. This article summarizes the seven “arrows” or questions we can ask to better understand our Bible. For even more information on this approach, feel free to visit the Seven Arrows website here.

How to Pray a Psalm

In light of this past week’s sermon on prayer, Don Whitney models what praying Psalm 23 could look like. This is an insightful yet simple example of how to use Scripture to shape your prayers.

We Are All Exiles Now

In addition to this global pandemic, the death of George Floyd and a multitude of reactions, we can feel confused, upset, and despondent. When our hearts are heavy, we do well to remember our identity as sojourners. We are born to a living hope, long for a better country, and entrust ourselves to a loving, sovereign, and wise God.

We Need to Be Uncomfortable

This past week has been particularly unsettling. The topic of race is charged and thorny. We need to handle it patiently and graciously, as we search the Scriptures, pray to God, and converse with others. This article suggests a starting point for how to do so.

How to Honor the Lord with Your Summer Vacation

This is not the summer any of us expected, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable and profitable. Timothy Z. Witmer offers some ways on how to redeem the time individually and together.

There is No Faith So Little That It Is Not Saving

I’m sure many of us feel weak and small. This can actually be a good place and position to be in, because it teaches us our faith is not in ourselves or others. Our faith is in God, a God who is not weak or small. May the encouragement found in this article comfort and strengthen your heart.

COVID-19 and Longing for a Joy That Is Complete

I miss the physical gatherings of the church and how meeting together fosters joy in Christ. Here are some reflections on how God might be teaching us to look forward to the consummation of our joy in Christ.

Posted May 25, 2020

What Is God Up To?: The Temptation to Overinterpret Suffering

In our curiosity and desire for answers, we may be missing the point. God doesn’t owe us an exhaustive response to all of our “whys,” but He has provided enough for us to trust Him and obey. As pastor Kim preached this past Sunday, let us draw near to know Christ better.

So Very Weak, Yet So Very Proud

One of the lessons God may be trying to teach us during this pandemic is how limited we are. COVID-19 has humbled us. But therein lies a precious truth. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Could a Recession Serve Our Joy?

Recession is a serious thing that will touch our lives. While this draws from a sermon John Piper preached over a decade ago, the introduction puts the snippet in our context today and shows us what God may be doing in the midst of a recession.

How Should College Students Engage With Their Families During This Season of Staying at Home?

This article is not only applicable to college students, but any who’ve had to make some living adjustments. Lots of wisdom and insights to consider.

Coronavirus as Dress Rehearsal

Many of us are longing for the day when this pandemic will all be over and we can return to some semblance of normalcy. But perhaps we would be served well to remember the Christian race is not a sprint, but a marathon.

Loneliness Has Been My Faithful Friend

As shelter-in-place drags on, the struggle with loneliness becomes more prevalent. Even our loneliness can be redeemed as a teaching instrument to grow us in our faith. Whether you’re single or married, young or old, there’s something for everyone in this article.

Posted May 18, 2020

Navigating Different COVID-19 Recovery Convictions

News of SIP being extended can be deflating and discouraging. The novelty of working from home has worn off. Many of us are itching for our society’s reopening. We can feel very strongly on how this should take place. Let us heed the wise counsel to consider our convictions and those of others with grace.

Encouragement for the Disappointed 2020 Graduate

For students, commencement ceremonies have been canceled, delayed, or taken place online. It’s not what they have envisioned as the culmination of all their labor and hardwork. Sara Barratt outlines ways we can encourage our graduates.

The Way We Shape These Days is Shaping Us

Our days are blurring and blending together. It’s easy to lose track and forget our purpose as Christians. In this article, the author gives practical advice for establishing rhythms of grace that will help us live today and the next in light of eternity.

Biblical Counseling as Mission in a COVID-19 Age

During this season of life, we’re facing more trials and challenges than we expected. As we administer the Word to one another, let us keep our sights set on one of the goals in our counseling: a deeper trust and obedience to God that honors Him.

Of Oceans, Thimbles, and Talking to Your Kids about Death

Death is unavoidable. The global pandemic has brought this reality to the forefront. Alasdair Groves and Julie Lowe provide some suggestions on how to speak to our kids about death. Much of their counsel can be profitable for us regardless of age.

Trusting God’s Hand When I Couldn’t See His Face

Our theology is the starting point for the difficulties we face. Timothy Paul Jones shares lessons he learned when his family discovered his daughter had COVID-19.

Posted May 11, 2020

Come to Me All Who Have COVID Weariness, and I Will Give You Rest

It is so good to know we can come to Jesus. The qualification for approaching Him is simply that we are burdened. This article teases out how Matthew 11:28-30 applies to all of us as we navigate through different life changes caused by the coronavirus.

10 Keys to Solving Marriage Conflict in Quarantine

To further unpack this past Sunday’s sermon, here’s an article that helps us get to the root of our marital conflicts. The author provides 10 principles that are practical in considering how God can be pruning and maturing us in our relationships.

Apart for Now

By now, many of us are over the novelty of Zoom and other video technologies. Marshall Segal considers what our longing to see each other may be teaching us about relationships, fellowship, and how to minister to one another in this season and the next.

COVID-19 Has Helped Our Church to Pray More Fervently

One of the benefits of the coronavirus is how we’ve been driven to pray. It’s not too late; join us for our monthly prayer meeting tonight.

10 Simple Ways to Evangelize During a Pandemic

This global pandemic has forced us to consider creative ways to evangelize. People are sensitized to God, heaven, hell, the meaning of life and death. Let us call others to repentance and faith, because the gospel can’t be quarantined.

5 Insights Into Your Feelings Under Lockdown

COVID-19 has afforded us with ample opportunity to examine our own hearts. Walking through Psalm 73, Peter Mead has us inspect our feelings and how to process them in light of God, His promises and character.

Posted May 4, 2020

9 Ways the Gospel Speaks to Us During COVID-19

Here’s a helpful article on the manifold ways the gospel addresses this current season. It’s also a good example of thinking through how to apply the gospel in whatever life situation we find ourselves in.

The Great Physician for COVID-19

Joshua Ryan Butler suggests which character in the Bible best represents us during these COVID-19 times and then draws some comforts we can receive from knowing Jesus is our Great Physician.

Drawing Closer to Your Kids during a Pandemic

For those of us with children, we may have been trying to survive and maintain order in our household. But we have a unique opportunity to not only survive, but nurture our children towards Christ.

Help! I’m Irritated With My Work-From-Home Husband

This is an honest confession from a mom and wife, which can help those in a similar position as well as nudging fathers and husbands to be more cognizant and sensitive in encouragement. While it’s shared from the author’s particular standpoint, there are still many principles to take away and apply regardless of marital status and number of children.

All Is Not Lost: 6 Lessons to Learn When Losing Your Job

Some of us have lost our jobs or we know people who have. Dr. Jim Stitzinger shares some counsel from his own personal experience to help us through this trial and equip us to encourage others wrestling through this hardship.

After the Virus Has Passed

This global pandemic has thrown us all for a loop. While we are disoriented and uncertain, this article shows us how we can find our footing and still labor in the Lord.

Posted April 27, 2020

Stay Safe — Forever

Church, we have a deeper definition of “stay safe” than the world’s. May this reality make us zealous in our evangelism, fierce in our love, and clear in our ambition. Christ, and life in Him, are of utmost importance.

The Proverbial Pandemic

We need wisdom, especially in times like these. Drawing from the book of Proverbs, Dr. Jim Shaddix provides helpful insights and practices for how to apply proverbs to our lives as we navigate through the global pandemic.

Glorify God in Your Habits

In this season, many of us are afforded more time. One way to redeem it is to examine and work on developing habits that will steer us towards God and maturity in the faith.

Sanctification By Homeschooling

Parents, when it comes to homeschooling, we often think we are the only ones teaching. This article reveals ways God may be teaching and sanctifying us through homeschooling.

Productivity in a Pandemic

For some of us, the novelty and convenience of working from home is starting to wear off or take a toll. Daniel Patterson has us consider what productivity might look like in a time of quarantine.

Why Funerals Are Better Than Feasts

Our natural inclination is for what’s pleasant, fun, and pain-free. But there’s much to be considered over the Bible’s shocking teaching that “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting…” (Eccl 7:2). The author of this article expands upon what can be gained from following this wisdom teaching.

Posted April 20, 2020

Do We Really Want to Go Back to Normal?

Expanding on some of the things Pastor David preached on, Trevin Wax has us consider what “normal” will look like for us as Christians through the coronavirus and after.

The Importance of Lament in the Midst of COVID-19

Sometimes we assume the Christian response during trials, like the coronavirus, is to maintain a happy demeanor. Philip Graham Ryken shows us lamenting and sadness can be a proper response in times of suffering.

Is Everything Sad Going to Come Untrue? Why We Need Eschatology Now More than Ever

The Bible teaches us our hope is certain. Let’s be active in preparing our minds by remembering the glory of Jesus Christ and what’s to come. Our longing for reprieve from the pandemic should catapult us to when all things will be made new.

Help for Quarantined Marriages

In this article, a couple shares what they have learned about their marriage in this season of quarantine. The same principles can be applied towards others we live with: children, roommates, parents, etc.

Is This A Judgment?

One of the humbling realities of this pandemic is in how our sin has surfaced. This article walks us through some considerations on how this virus could be God’s pruning judgment for our good. This season provides us unique ways to grow, but only if we will first admit and address our need to repent.

Where’s God When COVID-19 Kills My Business?

This pandemic may result or has resulted in the loss of jobs or businesses. To comfort our hearts, here are some considerations of what God may be doing in our lives.

Posted April 13, 2020

We’re All Children Now

Knowing who we belong to adds ballast to our soul during these desperate times. It is good to be a child of God and to be able to call him our Heavenly Father.

Coronavirus Could Kill Consumer Christianity

Sometimes it may be hard to see any good coming from this pandemic. Brett McCracken considers how God could be using the virus for the purity and growth of the church.

COVID-19: Anxious About Money?

The coronavirus has affected all of us in different ways, but one common area is in our finances. Many of us are struggling with anxiety over money. Ed Welch helps us diagnosis our heart in order to address our worries and seek God.

Generosity in a Time of Hoarding

Part of combating our anxiety over money is to think through ways we can be generous. While we may think of finances, generosity is so much more.

Evangelism in a Time of Social Distancing

We may reason that social distancing prevents us from evangelizing the lost. Instead, the times have shown us the urgency and need of proclaiming the gospel.

We Will Still Feast

It is so easy to focus on what we lack or what has been taken away. Instead, let these things catapult to all we have in Christ. Do not forfeit the lessons God wants to teach us by merely trying to survive this season. Meditate on His Word. Pray. Praise. These can’t be stolen.

Posted April 6, 2020

Easter Week in Real Time

Remember, this week is holy week, the week leading up to Easter. In this article, Russ Ramsey provides context to each day of the week as well as Bible passages to read.

Anxiety, Waiting and the Coronavirus

Waiting is normal to the Christian life. But as Christians, we don’t wait like unbelievers. Our waiting is active and filled with hope. This article encourages us to wait well.

We May Be Confused, but God Isn’t

In uncertain times, we draw comfort in knowing the God who knows all things. As we heard this past Sunday, we have every reason to trust and obey our heavenly Father because of His sovereignty, wisdom, and love.

In Every Season Give Thanks

A thankful combats an anxious heart. Joey Parker exhorts us to reign in our thoughts, center them on the gospel, and allow the truths of Scripture to cultivate gratitude to God.

7 Suggestions for Finding Joy in Isolation

Kimberly Wagner provides a very practical guide for finding joy in isolation. Both extroverts and introverts will be helped in this article.

Leverage Your Loneliness

Since isolation is a common struggle for most of us, here’s another article on how to redeem isolation and make it spiritually profitable. Our loneliness can be a surprising teacher on our deep needs and the sufficiency of Christ.

Talking to Children About Coronavirus

John Piper offers some suggestions on how to talk to our children about the coronavirus. Truth be told, this counsel is fitting and encouraging regardless of your age, number of children, and marital status. Much to glean and mull over

Parenting Anxious Kids in an Anxious Time

Adults aren’t the only ones who grow anxious. Parents have the opportunity to not only grow in trusting God, but to also shepherd their little ones towards Him as well.

Posted March 30, 2020

Make Fear Your Friend. Turn to Christ.
In light of Pastor Kim’s message two weeks ago and the daily devotionals, let fear cause you to flee to Christ, not from Him.

What Courage Might Corona Unleash?
When the world is cowering with fear, the gospel frees us to be wise and courageous in how we sacrifice and love one another. During this pandemic, we have been afforded a unique opportunity of ministry.

Practice Hospitality, Especially during COVID-19
Here’s an article that expands on the topics Pastor Tim preached on this past Sunday. While we are locked in with shelter-in-place, we can still practice hospitality. It may not necessarily mean opening our homes, but getting creative in how we care and love one another.

9 Ways to Work Efficiently from Home
For those of us not accustomed to working from home, Devin Maddox takes a practical approach on how to adjust to this new season of work life.

Never a Better Time for Family Prayer
In God’s providence, the coronavirus has given us the opportunity to spend more time together as a family. What better way to spend that time than in prayer together.

Posted October 19, 2020

Psalm Songs, Vol. 2

Here’s another album centered on the Psalms. I can’t think of many things better than singing Scripture as a way to meditate and memorize God’s Word.

Promises (feat. Joe L Barnes & Naomi Raine) – Maverick City | TRIBL

A constant theme we see and read in the Bible is God’s faithfulness. What’s true from ages past still holds true today. Through tumultuous times, we can cling to God’s faithfulness to keep His promises for His people.

Phil Wickham – Battle Belongs

Phil Wckham recently released a new single calling us to fight our battles by relying upon the Lord through prayer. May it encourage you as you praise to also pray.

Posted October 12, 2020

O Come, All You Unfaithful

Is it too early for Christmas music? In light of the gift of Christ, “this video contains people who are processing “O Come, All You Unfaithful,” most of them for the first time, in light of their own experiences. A stillborn child. A strained marriage. Feelings of shame. Legalism. Loss. Loneliness. Or simply having a heart that weeps with those who weep.”

Patient Kingdom – Sandra McCracken

The title song from Sandra McCracken’s new album, we are encouraged to long for God’s kingdom. God’s timing and plan is perfect, so we can be freed to be faithful.

Nothing Compares – The Village Church Worship

A song that casts our attention and affection upon Christ. Praise God, the One through whom all things are created and sustained is also the One who dies for sinners and is worthy of praise. None can compare to Him.

Posted October 5, 2020

2020 National Conference Worship Preview: His Mercy Is More

From the recent CCEF conference, here’s a great arrangement of “His Mercy is More.”

Nothing Without You (feat. Bethany Barnard)

A cry and plea to worship God. The simplicity of the song pierces through the complications of life and gets at the heart of what it means to be a Christian: to be with God.

Yet Not I but Through Christ in Me (Acoustic Release)

A classic and beloved song at Lighthouse gets a nice stripped down rendition. It’s an acoustic rendition that focuses our attention on the depth of the lyrics and the joy it is to praise God as the church when we are able to gather again.

Posted September 28, 2020

Praise Him – The Village Church Worship

God is always God. He is worthy of praise. This song has us consider the manifold reasons we have for exalting Him.

Psalms LP

The Psalms were meant to be sung. Robbie Seay Band does us a service by putting melodies to the rich theological truths contained in the Psalms and invites us to participate in raising our voices to God.

Posted September 21, 2020

Your Will Be Done // Lighthouse Community Church

We introduced this new song to our church two Sundays ago. Here it is so you can put it on repeat and be encouraged to seek God’s will in your life.

Psalm 136 (Your Mercy Endures) [feat. Leslie Jordan of All Sons & Daughters]

Our God is always worthy of praise, because He is always good. Let our gratitude help us endure in all circumstances.

Posted September 14, 2020

“Before the Throne of God Above” | Christian Soul Covers

Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but this is a bluesy and soulful spin on a beloved hymn.

“Light of Your Love” | Ellie Holcomb

Ellie Holcomb recently released a children’s album teaching them the truths of God. Here’s one song that encourages us, parents and adults included, to look to Christ.

Posted September 7, 2020

Abide in Me

Definitely enjoying this song. In light of the previous sermons we’ve heard, let the lyrics encourage you to remember the wonderful and invigorating truth of abiding in Christ.

Evensong – Hymns And Lullabies At The Close Of Day

The Gettys released a new album. Enough said. But if you need more information, according to their website, “born out of the thoughts, songs, and prayers the Gettys use to close each day with their own family, this new project features a mixture of lullabies and hymns to help declutter the mind and comfort the heart.”

Jonathan Ogden & Anh Thai – Create In Me [The Solitude Project]

A tune that’s relaxing and dreamy, here’s a modern spin on Psalm 51, focusing on David’s plea for forgiveness and restoration.

Posted August 31, 2020

I Want to Serve God

Let this song become a prayer where all our resources, giftings, and relationships do not become idols, but a stewardship by which we serve God and His people.

We Are One (Live)

Union with God means we are united to the body of Christ. This song rejoices over how this great truth comforts and encourages us to walk in love.

Songs from The New City Catechism

Here’s a clever way to teach your children (or yourself) basic Christian doctrine through music. Based off of The New City Catechism, these songs help commit theology to memory.

Posted August 24, 2020

All by Page CXVI

Take a listen to Page CXVI’s new album. One of the songs was previously featured in our weekly recommendations.

“Soldiers of Christ” – SBTS Virtual Choir

An old hymn sung as a virtual choir, this song features our aim as Christians in this world. May it encourage your heart to remember, while we remain on earth, we are on God’s mission to live for Christ and proclaim the good news.

Posted August 17, 2020

You Keep On Getting Better (feat. Majesty Rose)

Sometimes we need to awaken our souls to unchanging truths. From morning until evening, let us never forget the goodness of God.

Consider the Stars / Is He Worthy?

In preparation for their new album, Keith & Kristyn Getty tease with a couple of songs. “Consider the Stars” has us look to God’s relentless faithfulness to keep His promises and how this comforts us in difficult times.

Holy is Our God

Another live video put out by Austin Stone Worship. Here’s one that exhorts us to render worship to our Holy God.

Posted August 10, 2020

The King In All His Beauty

A recently released and slightly revised rendition of this song. During these troubling times, how precious it is to look to Christ in all His beauty. 

Jude by Psallos

Here’s something different. Psallos puts entire epistles to songs. They’ve also done Romans and Hebrews in the past. A helpful way to commit Scripture to memory.

Posted August 3, 2020

By The Streams

A short collection of songs inspired by the Psalms. May this album prompt you to linger over God’s Word until it nourishes your soul.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus [Acoustic]

We can find our souls weighed down and weary by all that’s going on around us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus. Doesn’t hurt that Shane & Shane use their gifts to encourage us towards our Lord and Savior.

Posted July 27, 2020

Before The Throne of God Above feat Joseph Bradshaw | Covenant Presbyterian

Classic hymns are classics for a reason; they are grounded in timeless and rich truths that always find relevance because the promises of God are unbreakable.

My Home by Claudia Isaki

Here’s something different: an ethereal soothing voice melded with lyrics drawn from the Christian life and biblical truths.

American Awakening Better Together

Tune in tomorrow for an online concert from artists such as Lecrae and Crowder. It’s free as long as you register.

Posted July 20, 2020

You Keep Coming After Me (LIVE) | Austin Stone Worship

What a joy and comfort to know we worship a God who not only beckons to come, but pursues us even when we flee.

The JEMS Mount Hermon Blessing

In a time where we’re sequestered in our own homes, it’s always encouraging to see and hear ways we can praise God together. Here’s a rendition of “Blessing,” put on by JEMS. Plus, you might see some familiar faces from our church.

Posted July 13, 2020

Be Ye Glad – Cover

Bob Kauflin and his daughter cover the most popular song from  his old band. The words are rich and particularly pertinent during this season.

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL (Arr. David Wise)

This is a neat arrangement to a favorite hymn. A collaboration by cell phone, who would’ve known.

COVID-19 Hit Christian Musicians Hard. Here’s How We Can Support Them

Musicians are interviewed on how this pandemic has affected their craft and livelihood. Should you feel compelled, they also share how people can support them.

Posted July 6, 2020

PSALM 90 | Shane & Shane

Is there a better duo than straight Scripture and Shane & Shane? I’ll leave the debate to you, but here’s a new song that encourages our hearts to sing the great theological truths found in Psalm 90.

Rest: Story Behind the Song

This video brings us behind the scenes to what inspired the Gray Havens to write the song “Rest.” We featured the song last week and you can give it a listen again here.

JARS Much Afraid LIVE STREAM

For old school fans of Jars of Clay, they recently put on an online concert. Take a stroll down memory lane and enjoy.

Posted June 29, 2020

Are You Washed In The Blood

Reawaken Hymns is a project to put classic hymns to modern music. There’s much to enjoy on his YouTube channel, but this is his latest one.

Sovereign Grace Music Collection

Sovereign Grace has selected and put together their most popular songs. The collection covers a wide range of themes which encourage us to cling to God’s truth and worship Christ. 

Rest by The Gray Haven

It’s been about two years since The Gray Havens last released a new original song. Even when we are sheltered at home, it’s still easy to busy ourselves. This song deals with resting and setting our sights on God.

6 Works of Classical Music Every Christian Should Know

Here’s a fun read for our classicalists. Included are links to listen to these timeless masterpieces.

Posted June 22, 2020

I Asked the Lord that I Might Grow • T4G Live II

While being quarantined, we all find our liberties restricted. But our growth as Christians isn’t contingent on our physical abilities. Here’s a hymn by John Newton that puts our prayer to song.

The Bay Area Blessing — Churches sing ‘The Blessing’ over the San Francisco Bay Area

If you enjoy these collaborative songs, here’s another one put together by over 50 churches in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Every Hour

More hymns (and spiritual songs)! Some of these may be unfamiliar, but they are laden with truths that raise our gaze to God and encourage us to hope in Christ.

Posted June 15, 2020

How Long, O Lord

A song that encapsulates our hearts’ longing. Turn your prayers and burdens into praise by bringing them to God with voices raised.

God Moves in Mysterious Ways

A rich hymn with rich theological truths so appropriate during this season. Added bonus! This is my favorite rendition and it’s done by our own Pastor David. For those curious about the background and story of this hymn, John Piper tells the story here.

10 Songs Churches Gravitated Toward During COVID-19

Just an interesting list to read to see what songs the church has gravitated towards in this pandemic. Some are no surprise, like the classic, “It Is Well With My Soul.”

Grace Community Church Children’s Music

For those interested, Grace Community Church has released all their children ministry music. A great selection of songs to teach kids about God and the gospel.

Posted June 8, 2020

Abide With Me

Sarah Groves captures timeless truths that have sustained saints of old as well as today. During times where we’re unsettled by what’s going on around us, we need to be planted on the firm foundation of God and His truth. This collection of songs help us find our footing on Him.

In Christ Alone

What I appreciate about this classic is the large swath of people involved. This arrangement took 5 months to complete with contributions made by 48 singers from 14 countries. Such is a small picture of the unity we have in Christ, a lesson we need to remember when many are divided.

Lighthouse Music

Been blessed by Sunday service praise? If you aren’t aware, we’ve parsed out worship sets into individual YouTube videos and placed them in a playlist for your enjoyment and encouragement.

Posted June 1, 2020

Forever Jesus

The Gettys recently released a song fixing our attention and affections on Jesus. During troubling times, there’s no better Rock to plant ourselves on. Let this song minister to your soul and cause you to praise our Lord and Savior.

I’ll Wait for You, My Love

This new album by Greg LaFollette focuses on hymns that set our sights on God and His promises as we struggle through our lament and longing.

How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds

We can never sing too much of Jesus. Here, Alistair Begg shares a personal story while also reflecting on the rich words from the hymn, “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds.” Here’s one rendition, if you want a listen.

Posted May 25, 2020

Song of the Day: “The Blessing”

Straight Scripture from the Aaronic benediction, may this song propel your heart to God’s faithfulness. He will not forsake His people. He will build His church.

Christ Be All (Live)

In times where we are physically apart, we need to remember that we are one in Christ. We celebrate our bonds in Him as the body of Christ. As we draw closer to Him, we find ourselves drawn closer to each other.

Though You Slay Me – Shane & Shane featuring John Piper

And oldie but so good and appropriate today. In our suffering, we can still sing. Jesus is still precious and glorious.

Posted May 18, 2020

Peace to All Who Enter Here

Josh Garrels released a new album focusing on encountering and rejoicing in the peace of Christ. There are few truths we need more than to cling to God’s goodness and sovereignty during these times of uncertainty.

The Gray Havens Online Concert

Like many artists, the Gray Havens played an online concert a couple weeks ago. Give it a listen and consider the biblical truths beautifully nested within their lyrics.

Posted May 11, 2020

Keeper of Days – Jon Guerra

A new album released by a pretty unique musician, Guerra describes his style as “devotional music, less Sunday morning worship music and more Monday morning prayer music.” For more insight, there’s an interview conducted here.

‘All Creatures’ by Rain for Roots: Music We Need Right Now

This collaboration album features eminently singable Scripture songs for kids and grown-ups. A veritable who’s who of Nashville Christian singer-songwriters meld a warm, folksy, Americana sound to biblical truth.

Getty Family Hymn Sing LIVE feat. Joni Eareckson Tada

A few weeks ago, Joni Eareckson Tada made a guest appearance at the Getty’s weekly family hymn singing.

Posted May 4, 2020

Your Will Be Done (Acoustic)

CityAlight released a new song that encourages us to remember God is infinitely wise, kind, and in control. Even in the midst of this global pandemic, we can rejoice to know God’s good and gracious plans will not be thwarted.

In the Hands of Christ My King

Along similar veins, this song calls us to trust in Jesus Christ. We put our hope and confidence in a king who would die for His people.

Sovereign Grace Kids Live Stream

If you missed the livestream of the Sovereign Grace Kids sing along, you can still watch and participate in it on Facebook.

Posted April 27, 2020

Songs of Comfort for Anxious Souls (Free Playlist)

Here is an ever growing list of songs (150!) to encourage our hearts with comforting truths and to focus on sights on our great God.

Songs from Home

For the Phil Wickham fans, here’s a playlist where he leads us in singing songs he’s written or other praise songs.

In the Garden

In God’s economy, life often comes through death. Jesus outlines the principle in John 12:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” This song puts these truths to music.

Posted April 20, 2020

Christ Our Hope in Life and Death

Just in case you missed it. If you enjoyed our church’s rendition of the song, “Christ Our Hope in Life and Death,” from Easter Service, there’s good news. You can now listen to it on repeat.

Something Greater

In the midst of difficult times, we need something greater to put our hope in. Jesus has conquered the grave, so we can trust Him to be powerful over death, virus, and our fears.

Resurrection Letters Live: Quarantine Edition

The resurrection is not only to be celebrated on Easter Sunday, but everyday till Christ returns. Andrew Peterson played a “quarantine” concert focused on resurrection songs he wrote. The lyrics are both theologically rich and beautifully crafted.

Posted April 13, 2020

Jesus, Strong and Kind

This has been on repeat in our household. While the words are simple, the truth is profound. In light of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, in light of a pandemic that reminds all of us of how little, needy, and child-like we are, it is comforting to know Jesus is strong and kind.

14 Hymns of Hope to Sing During COVID-19

Here are 14 hymns to plant us on solid theology and comfort the soul during COVID-19. There’s also a link at the top to join the Getty’s for a family hymn singing time every Tuesday at 6:15pm.

Easter Family Night of Worship

Speaking of family night of worship, Shane & Shane, put on a quarantine concert celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Give it a stream and sing along.

Posted April 6, 2020

“Lord From Sorrows Deep I Call” – Matt Boswell and Matt Papa

A hymn inspired by Psalm 42 that puts the oft loved psalm to song. What a helpful and instructive way to sing Scripture to your soul.

Upbeat Songs for Quarantined Kids

Here’s one for cooped up kids to release some of their energy while making a joyful noise to the Lord. Click on the link to see the tracklist as well as Spotify and Apple Music playlists.

Posted March 30, 2020

“Christ Our Hope in Life and Death” – Keithy and Kristyn Getty 
A new song by the Gettys; perfect for the times we are currently in and beyond. “Though many believers may be singing at home, unable to gather with their churches as usual, we can still sing with confidence, because we know the One who conquered the grave by his resurrection…” Watch the “Behind the Song” video as well and be encouraged!

25 Hymns to Sing in Troubled Times 
In a time of uncertainty, we need the robust and unchanging theological truths to grant us a sure footing. Here are 25 hymns that fuel our faith by directing us to the might and majesty of our God. You can click on each title to examine all the verses and listen to all 25 hymns on Spotify here.

Posted October 19, 2020

Episode 146: On Preparing for a Tough Political Season (Part 2)

Listen in as two pastors discuss how to navigate through a difficult political season. Here’s part 1. Most of all, don’t forget to tune in to our church’s seminar on this topic tonight at 8pm.

One Minute Apologetics

The Gospel Coalition has been releasing a video series where Christian leaders offer concise apologetic answers to common questions.

Posted October 12, 2020

Luther: The Life and Legacy of the German Reformer (Full Documentary)

October is Reformation month and, for a limited time, Ligonier Ministries has made this documentary free. This might be a useful resource to not only encourage your heart, but as an evangelistic tool. Watch it with someone. 

The Children’s Series You Should Start Reading in 2020

The latest book in the Wingfeather saga was recently published. Though geared towards children and teenagers, this series is still a riveting read for all. Here’s an interview with the author to persuade you to read.

Posted October 5, 2020

David Platt’s Plea Before You Vote

As a follow-up to this Sunday’s sermon, here’s more food for thought as we enter into this election. There’s a lot of pastoral insight worth our consideration and application.

Dealing with Grief and Anxiety

This round table conversation does a comprehensive treatment on dealing with grief. Timestamps are provided if you want to jump to various topics.

Posted September 28, 2020

Separation of Church and State?

As an addendum to Pastor Kim’s last sermon, Jonathan Leeman elaborates on the meaning of separation of church and state. This will provide further incentive in understanding our role as Christians as citizens on earth and, ultimately, citizens in heaven.

A New Podcast—Luther: In Real Time

Reformation Day is a month away. What better way to prepare than subscribing to this new podcast which walks you through the life of Luther leading up to his 95 theses and the aftermath of his courageous conviction.

Nothing Compares with Christ | Ep. 8 – Looking Unto Jesus | Paul Washer

In typical Paul Washer fashion, we are exhorted to look to Christ. There’s no better advice during a season where so many other lesser things are vying for our attention.

Posted September 21, 2020

Bible Talk by 9Marks

9Marks started a new podcast called Bible Talk which essentially does just that. Give it a listen if you’re interested in hearing how seminary professors and Bible teachers read and walk through the Scriptures.

Theological Essays

Want essays on theology? These should keep you busy for a while. May your readings not only sharpen your mind, but quicken your heart to love God and others.

A Conversation with Makoto Fujimura on Art and Beauty

For the artsy, this interview explores thoughts and principles behind Makoto Fuimura’s art. He’s the artist behind the Four Holy Gospels.

Money Motivates Me to Work Hard — Is That Okay?

John Piper provides some good counsel to a prevalent issue. Money is not inherently bad, but like good gifts in life, we need to understand its proper place.

Posted September 14, 2020

Infographic: 4 Biblical Ways to Pray

Here’s a neat infographic to encourage you to pray. It provides an outline to organize our pleas around. Print it out and hang it somewhere as a reminder when you pray.

What Do My Entertainment Habits Reveal About My Soul?

With pastoral insight, John Piper has us connect the dots from our entertainment habits to what we worship in our hearts. In a season where we may resorting to entertainment more, let us guard our hearts and love Jesus more.

Free Download: Printable Verse Cards Tracing God’s Unfolding Grace

This is a cool resource where forty key passages are selected to provide a general framework for the bigger story of the Bible. Color in the graphics. Memorize and meditate on these passages.

Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

Sometimes creation can be funny like that. God must have a sense of humor.

Posted September 7, 2020

Parenting Children With Special Needs

Pastor Steve Viars provides both the biblical principles and practices to help and serve parents who care for children with special needs.

Free Audiobook: How Can I Love Church Members with Different Politics?

With the election on the horizon, politics are on the forefront of our minds. Crossway has made this free audiobook available to help us to think and navigate through how we can love and be gracious to one another even if we don’t see eye to eye on every political issue. 

A Conversation on Faithful Christian Living: September 3, 2020

Recently, Ligonier Ministries hosted this panel discussion between Robert Godfrey, Stephen Nichols, and Burk Parsons on what it looks like to live faithfully today. They provide much to consider how to follow Jesus before a culture that is hostile to Him.

Thinking Theologically About Racial Tensions (Series)

Kevin DeYoung wrote a series of articles dealing with racial tension. He has compiled and edited those posts into a single PDF.

Posted August 31, 2020

Rosaria Butterfield on COVID-19

One question we might have during a time while we’re quarantined is how we can still be hospitable. Rosaria Butterfield, author of “The Gospel Comes with a House Key,” shares her insights on how to still practice hospitality amidst COVID-19.

What Characteristics Mark an Effective Church? Part 5 of 7: Mutual Care

As we prepare for the next series of small groups, Alistair Begg gives a short exhortation of how Christians are to care for one another with our resources.

The Generosity Project

By the same people who put out “Two Ways to Live,” here is a set of videos to teach us on generosity. We might associate generosity with giving money, but this series seeks to ground us in being generous people because of the gospel and, therefore, we give of ourselves.

Truth Unites

For those interested in apologetics and theology, Gavin Ortlund has started a YouTube channel that deals with this very topic. Give it a view/listen and find yourself challenged to think through how our faith is not necessarily illogical or without reason.

Who Gets to Rule Our Hearts This Week?

A fitting prayer to echo at the start of your week. Or any week.

Posted August 24, 2020

The Gospel in the Hymns: Lesson 1, Thou Lovely Source

Here’s something a little different. Indelible Grace is hosting a video series on the gospel in hymns. This is lesson 1 as a preview, but more will be released beginning this week. For more information, visit this website.

Conversations About Christianity and Race (Part 1)

Recently a group of pastors came together to discuss race issues in our churches and country. Pastor Bobby Scott, who was interviewed by Pastor Kim awhile ago, was also part of the roundtable conversation.

Free Ebook: The Gospel

Crossway has made this book available free to download. For all the ways we can claim to be “gospel-centered”, it’s good to reevaluate the truth and wonder of the good news.

A #2020 Confession

A confession and a cry to God I believe many can resonate with. May we seek to make much of this time in our own growth and sanctification as God surfaces hidden sins that we might pursue Christ.

Posted August 17, 2020

The Book of Hebrews with Dr. Michael J. Kruger

Bored out of your mind? Interested in the book of Hebrews, but intimidated by it? Dr. Michael J. Kruger of RTS provides study notes to help you plumb the richness of this treasured epistle.

How to Prioritize Family Discipleship

In promotion of a new book, this interview discusses some of the key lessons in shaping the lives within your household. Whether we realize it or not, we are always discipling each other; it’s just a matter of how and what. 

My Mourning Song

Poems can strike us in a way prose can’t. This one expresses the struggle as we learn to navigate through the hardships of life and sin while clinging to God.

An Everyday Miracle

Sometimes we need to consider the glories of God’s creation to be amazed at the glory of the Creator. This interesting video project has us look at the life cycle of a butterfly and the marvelous design of our God.

Posted August 10, 2020

Podcast: Hymns and the Joy of Singing (Kristyn Getty)

In this interview, Kristyn Getty talks about a wide range of topics related to musical praise. A transcript is also provided for your perusal.

All New CCEF Podcast

CCEF came out with a new podcast where they aim to discuss the intersect between Scripture and life. A worthwhile subscribe and listen.

Paul Tripp | How Do I Find Hope in Suffering? | TGC Q&A

Paul Tripp discusses how we can approach and respond to our suffering by placing our hope in Christ and the unbreakable promises of God.

Grant to us, Lord

Here’s a simple prayer we can raise to God throughout the week.

Posted August 3, 2020

Trevin Wax on How to Trust God in an Age of Fear and Anxiety

Anxiety puts at a crossroad of trusting God or something else. Trevin Wax calls us to rehearse God’s love to provide us a firm foundation in uncertain times.

Ask Ligonier with Steven Lawson

Ligonier hosted a Q&A with Dr. Steven Lawson in which various questions pertaining to the Bible, church, and the Christian life are asked and answered.

ACBC Pandemic Resources

If you don’t know about this vault, ACBC have categorized their resources so we might have biblical truths to face the challenges of COVID-19.

CCEF: Coronavirus

ACBC weren’t the only ones; CCEF also made many videos and articles available. The floodgates are open.

Posted July 27, 2020

The Doctrine of the Trinity: Explore the Distinctive and Central Doctrine of the Christian Faith

For those interested in an in-depth study of the Trinity, this is a free online course that unpacks the wonders of the doctrine of the Trinity.

Suffering, Healing, and the Hope of Eternity

No doubt many of us are suffering during this pandemic. We can draw much comfort and encouragement from this Q&A where Joni Eareckson Tada shares wisdom from her own experience on how our afflictions be redeemed by God for our good.

Seven Lessons for Productivity

As quarantine continues, you may feel your level of productivity declining. In this podcast, John Piper shares insights to help us think biblically about what it means to be productive as a Christian.

Free Ebook: Living For God

Crossway has a promo for a free eBook in exchange for filling out a short survey. “Living for God,” goes through five basic doctrines of the Christian faith and how they should impact our lives.

Posted July 20, 2020

How Can I Obtain Assurance of Salvation?

We all struggle with the assurance of our salvation at one point or another. John MacArthur provides the metric for how we should evaluate the authenticity of our salvation. 

Jen Wilkin On Holiness

A brief yet helpful explanation of what it means when we are commanded to be holy as God is holy.

The Simplest Way to Understand the Trinity

The Trinity has baffled Christians of all ages and of all eras. Fred Sanders encourages us with the simplest way to grasp this seemingly difficult doctrine. 

The Trinity: Explain It to Me Like I’m a 2-Year-Old Edition

Expanding on the Sunday sermon and the previous resource, here’s another video that seeks to break down the Trinity in the most accessible way possible.

Posted July 13, 2020

Recommended Reading for Young Adults

This one is especially for the young adults, but a lot of these books are appropriate and encouraging for all. Lots of good recommendations and favorites like “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment,” “Thoughts for Young Men,” and, “Just Do Something.”

Little Pilgrim’s Big Journey: Pilgrim’s Progress for Kids

This is a cool Kickstarter project that illustrates Pilgrim’s Progress for kids aged 4-10 years old. What a great way to introduce this classic to little ones.

10 Solid Films from the First Half of 2020

Please read this article rather than just grabbing titles and watching listed movies. There can be redeeming lessons from these films, but we need to exercise the power of discernment.

For the Christian who HATES being told to wear a mask

This video clip has us examine our hearts when our initial reaction to commands is to protest or disobey. There can be much gained in our submission, not only personally, but eternally.

Gentle and Lowly: A 14-Day Podcast

Dane Ortlund leads a 14-day audio devotional based off his excellent book, “Gentle and Lowly,” which was a previously recommended resource.

Posted July 6, 2020

God Is Our Fortress — A Reading of Psalm 46 by Kristyn Getty

One of my favorite Psalms read by one of my favorite musicians with one of my favorite accents. Sometimes there is nothing more needed than Scripture to be read and treasured.

Summer Reading for Middle School Students: The Wilderking

Middle schoolers (and their parents) rejoice. Jesse Johnson makes a compelling reason to read this trilogy. Read his endorsement or just jump into starting this book series.

Free Ebook: What Is the Mission of the Church?

Our world is clearly changing. Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert argue the central mission of the church doesn’t. In a capricious time and culture, this book is a welcomed resource to steel our backbones and sharpen our minds.

Why Did Water Come Out Of The Bottle? | Paul David Tripp

This is an older clip with a timeless and relevant lesson. Using a simple illustration, Paul David Tripp helps us dissect and examine our hearts.

Posted June 29, 2020

American Gospel: Christ Alone

If you haven’t seen this film and are looking for a way to spend an evening, this is a worthwhile rental. While not free, the documentary punctures a hole in the prosperity ”gospel” by bringing us back to the central truths of the good news. 

Introducing TGC Kids Books!

Here, Ivan Mesa introduces new TGC children books to fill the need for teaching children how to live as Christians in this fallen world.

Learning to Lament

This was a book previously recommended by Pastor Eric. Crossway is offering select readings through the book so we might grow in grieving and wrestling during these troubling times.

What is your view of Proverbs 22:6?

A short video clip where W. Robert Godfrey sheds light on what this famous verse means for parenting.

How Do I Honor God When Marriage Gets Tough?

In this biblical counseling podcast, Josh Squires provides godly wisdom on how to honor God when marriages are hard. There’s an index of subjects for those who wish to skip around.

Posted June 22, 2020

COVID-19 Spiritual Health Check | Rico Tice

“When our health is at stake, medics will check our vital statistics. But medics at my church long for their patients to take a spiritual health check, too. I’ve prepared this video to ask some vital questions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. How is your spiritual health?” This is a good way to diagnose and reflect on our hearts. It can also be passed along as an evangelistic resource.

The Attributes of God

Ligonier is offering a free video series by Steve Lawson on the Attributes of God. Redeem shelter-in-place to deepen your understanding and appreciation of God.

Pastor’s Q&A with Pastor Bobby Scott

Our church family was blessed and learned much from interviewing Pastor Bobby Scott of Community of Faith Bible Church. For those wanting more of his insights as well as how to respond to racism in a godly manner, this is another video interview with Pastor Bobby. The second part can be found here.

Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian – Documentary on John Piper – YouTube

John Piper shares his experience with racism growing up in the South. This video is a little longer, but worth the watch as Piper provides his personal testimony to encourage us on how powerful the gospel is. The eBook of the same title is free to download here.

Posted June 15, 2020

Introducing ‘Let’s Talk’: A New Podcast for Women

This one’s for the ladies. There’s a new podcast for women from The Gospel Coalition. Featuring Jackie Hill Perry, Jasmine Holmes, and Melissa Kruger, these women talk about various topics like fighting sin, godliness in social media, etc., from a Christian female vantage point.

Just Mercy

For the month of June, Just Mercy is free to rent and stream on various platforms. The film is based on the life work of civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson. Please do some research and exercise discernment on whether it’s appropriate for you and those you watch with.

#1,038 – Love Your Enemies (Matthew 5:43–48)

Pastor David Platt takes us through a familiar passage extracting some biblical insight. He then models for us how to pray over the Word by impassionately crying out to the Lord.

Posted June 8, 2020

The Chosen

I haven’t seen this TV show myself, but it’s received glowing reviews for faithfully yet creatively portraying Jesus’s life. Some of the first season episodes are free to watch through their app.

10 Reasons to Pray

This might qualify as an article, but it’s really made up of inspirational quotes from heroes of the faith. May the words of these saints engender you to labor more in prayer.

Ronni Kurtz on What Doctrine Brings the Most Joy

Doctrine is not supposed to be stale or merely intellectual. Doctrine is to culminate in doxology, a greater worship of God. In this video clip, Ronni Kurtz shares which doctrine stirs his soul to delight in Christ. 

How Do We Respond in Times of Division?

Many of us are quick to think of social reform, how to advocate for justice, listening better, what to do–all which can be appropriate and good. But let’s never forget the foundational power of the gospel and our identity is in the Lord Jesus Christ. In this short clip, Alistair Begg encourages us to this.

Christ and Calamity: Grace and Gratitude in the Darkest Valley

Two words: Free. Ebook. In our suffering and uncertainty, God is near and at work. Harold L. Senkbeil provides pastoral insights on how to view and respond to this global pandemic.

Posted June 1, 2020

Systematic Theology I

By creating a free account, you can participate in this course on Systematic Theology by Bruce Ware. This is a solid 28 hour introduction that covers the basics of systematic theology and the attributes of God.

Summer Reading: A Grade-by-Grade Recommended Reading List for Kids

With most, if not all, kids now on summer break, here’s a compiled summer reading list put out by a Christian school to help in keeping your kids busy and learning.

The Sorrows of Minneapolis

John Piper models what it looks like to pray in light of recent tragedies as well as the coronavirus. There’s much to glean and implement in our own cries of lament, petition, and hope.

A Prayer for Mercy

Here’s another example of prayer by Kevin Deyoung that brings our burdens and concerns about COVID19 and protesting/rioting before our great God.

Reopening Churches, Seeking Justice When Racism is Filmed, and Grieving 100,000 Lives Lost to COVID19

Listen in on a roundtable conversation concerning reopening churches, grieving the loss of lives from the pandemic, and the topics of racism and justice. Much to consider and pray.

Posted May 25, 2020

Panel Discussion: Comfort in Times of Crisis

In this panel discussion, Drs Sinclair Ferguson, W. Robert Godfrey, Steven Lawson, Stephen Nichols, Burk Parsons, and Derek Thomas discuss how we can draw strength and comfort from Christ during this season of panic and pandemic.

Trillia Newbell on Children and Idolatry

Short and sweet, this video clip is an encouragement to parents on how to love children without idolizing them.

The Pilgrim’s Progress: A Guided Tour

Now’s the perfect time to read the Christian classic, “The Pilgrim’s Progress.” This free teaching series provides a deeper look into Bunyan’s masterpiece.

Introducing a New Podcast for Families

Rejoice parents. Here’s a short family podcast that goes through the popular book, “The Big Picture Bible Story Bible,” by David R. Helm.

Posted May 18, 2020

Gentle And Lowly: A Book Review

In addition to pastor Francis’s endorsement, here’s another review on the book recommendation if you remain stubbornly unconvinced.

Resources from T4G20

T4G has flung wide open their doors. All resources from T4G20 are now available online. You can listen to a sermon or panel discussion while going about your day.

Christianity Explored

If you missed the opportunity to sign up for Christianity Explored, here’s good news. They have made the video sessions available free on YouTube through June 30th because of COVID-19.

Study the Book of Galatians

Tim Challies is hosting a study of Galatians along with Tom Schreiner that began on May 11th. Check out all the details in the Facebook group.

Posted May 11, 2020

Rosaria Butterfield on Hospitality in a COVID-19 World

In keeping with the book recommendation, here’s a recent interview that Rosario Butterfield did for Liberty University’s Convocation, specifically addressing the need of hospitality during the pandemic.

The Way Home: Scott James on the Unknowns of COVID-19 and How We Can Pray

In this podcast, a pediatric infectious disease physician discusses COVID-19, the struggles of the unknown, and how to pray for healthcare workers.

A Prayer in a Time of Coronavirus

Speaking of prayer, Daniel Darling models for us how to pray in response to COVID-19.

Embracing God in Your Trials

Available for free, Crossway has released a 7-day video devotional led by pastor Dave Furman. Consider spending this week encouraged to turn to God in the midst of these trying times.

Posted May 4, 2020

Theologians on the Christian Life

Want to get more familiar with Christian theologians of old? In partnership with Bethlehem College & Seminary, TGC has put together a course that introduces you to the lives of Spurgeon, Packer, Newton, Lloyd-Jones, Bonhoeffer, Edwards, and Lewis.

Download Study Guides for Free

If you need something to do during this time, Ligonier has made all of their study guides available for free.

What Are the Spiritual Dangers of Technology?

In this short podcast, John Piper has us dissect our hearts and how technology can be redeemed for spiritual benefit or a pitfall that distracts us from Christ. It’s incredible that this insight was made almost four decades ago, but there’s still relevance today, especially as all of us are reliant upon technology during this quarantine season.

Psalms in 30 Days

We’re now in the first week of May. Why not make it a goal to pray through the psalms? Here’s a prayer guide put together for that purpose.

Posted April 27, 2020

Zoe Kids Online Bible Lessons

Pastor Wayne and the rest of the children ministry staff have been doing an excellent job in providing resources for our church family. If you want even more, check out what our church plant, Zoe Community Church, has been producing.

“When The Earth Stood Still”: A Poem on the Pandemic

Here’s a video poem that helps us cast our longing and hope in God.

Themelios 45.1

Need more resources? The new April 2020 issue of Themelios with jam packed with lots of content touching on topics related to the coronavirus.

Posted April 20, 2020

TMAI Pictures of Hope

It’s easy to forget that God is not only doing something among us during COVID-19, but He is also doing something globally. This video series highlights encouraging reports of what God is doing around the world.

Crisis, Christ, and Confidence Episode 5: Coronavirus – A Call for the Church to Rise

In this video, some of the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary as well as an experienced physician discuss how we can love each other during these uncertain times. The church is afforded an occasion to testify to the gospel by our kindness and care to each other before the watching world.

Free (or Discounted) Books to Read in Quarantine

Here’s a wide range of books for all ages and interests. This is an accessible way we can all redeem the time.

Your Rod and Staff, They Comfort Me

A poem based on Psalm 23. It is so good to know God is with us.

Posted April 13, 2020

How Can Christians Live as Lights in a Dark Time?

Amidst dark times, we have the opportunity to shine and reflect God’s light. In this video, H.B Charles Jr., Sinclair Ferguson, and Burk Parsons discuss how we can testify to the peace we have received from God.

#PsalmsoftheDay

Professor and theologian Don Whitney leads us in praying through a psalm a day. This is an excellent way to read Scripture and then to petition to God with His own Word.

The Biggest Story Animated Short Film

Kevin DeYoung’s popular children’s book has been animated and you can stream it for free. There are helpful suggestions on how you might use the film for edification and evangelism.

Read Slow

Westminster Books has offered a great resource. “We’ve collected 15 of our favorite chapters that help us slow down and understand ourselves and our God in the midst of scary and uncertain times. These readings are available to download for free.” Included is a chapter from the book Pastor Gavin recommended last week.

Coronavirus and Christ

John Piper has written a short book on the coronavirus and made it free for download. In it, he considers six biblical answers to the question on our minds, “What is God doing through the coronavirus?”

Posted April 6, 2020

Share Your #JesusChangedMyLife Story

This week is holy week. While we can’t gather for Good Friday or Easter service, this is a creative outlet to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If you’re on social media, you can also search the hashtag and be encouraged with stories of grace.

Don Carson on the Ground of Our Assurance

In this video clip, Dr. Carson illustrates how our assurance comes not from the strength of our faith, but the object of our faith. A truth that is especially pertinent during these times.

Truth in Love: The Bible And Anxiety

Dr. Heath Lambert discusses how the Bible addresses anxiety in this audio snippet. Lambert walks us through a biblical framework and how to encourage someone (or ourselves) struggling with worry.

A Prayer for Working from Home – Will Sorrell

This prayer can serve as an example for how to petition to the Lord for those working from home.

Adventures in Odyssey

In case you missed it last week, Adventures in Odyssey is offering a free 4-week trial to all their content including devotionals, activities, puzzles, and videos. A fun and edifying way to keep your kids (and you) busy.

Posted March 30, 2020

How Do You Do Family Worship?
The idea of family worship sound daunting or you just don’t know where to start? In this clip, Don Whitney gives a simple outline and suggestions to structure the time.

John MacArthur: The Gospel, the Church, and This Present Crisis
In this video, Ligonier Ministries talks to Pastor John MacArthur about the coronavirus pandemic. MacArthur highlights some good theological truths to assure our hearts and practical exhortations for our witness to each other and the watching world.

WingFeather Saga
Andrew Peterson is reading his great WingFeather saga every night. Kids (and adults) can tune in and follow along at 5pm PST.

Free and discounted resources galore!
Who doesn’t love free or discounts? Tim Challies has put together a continuously updated list with such resources. Noteworthy to check out are Ligonier Ministries, Crossway (free access to ESV.org basic subscription), and Lifeway (free digital curriculum).