gospel coalition

A Loving Life by Paul Miller

A Loving Life - Paul Miller

My wife and I are going to begin reading this book together in the evenings. After watching Justin Taylor interview the author, I’m really excited. Here’s what two men, Scotty Smith and David Powlison, whom I deeply respect, have said about Miller’s book:

I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is the most honest, timely, and helpful book I’ve ever read about the costly and exhausting demands of loving well. And at the same time, A Loving Life is the most faithful, alluring, and encouraging presentation of God’s love for us in Jesus I’ve fed on in years. …
— Scotty Smith

“The word love is often either a vague sentiment or just another four-letter word. But in Paul Miller’s hands, the quiet, compelling reality emerges. You will witness how love is thoughtful, principled, courageous, enduring, and wise—all the things you know deep down it should be. And even more than those fine things, you will be surprised and delighted at how true love is grounded in God.”
— David Powlison

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New Years Resources

It’s that time of year when everyone is talking about resolutions. Here are the most helpful and insightful resources I’ve found for taking the new year seriously, listed in order of usefulness and clarity:

How to Read the Whole Bible in 2014

Justin Taylor does this post every single year. It’s astounding. And the content always gets better. His exhortation is crystal clear: Tolle lege. Take up and read! I gladly join his charge: would you make a plan to read the Bible this year?

The Sobering Effect of Year-Ends

This man has had a greater impact on my life than any other. I don’t say that lightly. Here’s a very brief video on how he views the transition to a new year.

Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year

Donald S. Whitney is well known for his book, “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.” His 31 questions will be the way my wife and I spend new years day. Give them anything more than a quick glance and you’ll see why. Here are the first four:

  1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
  2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
  3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
  4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

It’s a Good Time to Remember, Reflect, and Resolve

An exhortation from the blog All Things For Good to take the time to reconsider our lives and hearts: “If we don’t regularly take time to evaluate our heart, we can, often unknowingly, drift into sinful or sluggish patterns.”

Where We Go Wrong With New Year’s Resolutions

A lot of fluff here, but his second point is worth consideration. Why do we often fail to keep resolutions? Because “We focus on external change before we address the internal issues”

 

How Can God Be Good In Suffering?

I don’t know exactly why, but this video encouraged me tremendously. Perhaps it’s because these men exude such incredible confidence about the applying the gospel to life, while I’ve been focused (for a while) on what you might call “theoretical” issues.

Whatever the reason, I was stunned and encouraged and uplifted and corrected and confronted by their honest advice about what to do and think when suffering strikes.

These guys have experienced degrees and lengths of suffering I’m not sure I ever have. Perhaps you’ll be helped by their measured words (I didn’t hear one stray or flippant thought) and real-life encounters with God in the midst of suffering.

Trevin Wax on why we gather as a church

Trevin Wax, being brilliant as usual:

I had to apologize to my son recently.

We were on our way to church one Sunday, and he said, “Dad, I think I know all the Bible stories now.”

“Really?” I said. “All of them?”

“Just about,” he replied. “And I know all the songs we sing in church too.”

“That should make it easier for you to sing along,” I said.

“I don’t know why we keep going over the same stories and singing the same songs. Don’t they think we’ve got it down by now?”

“I’ve been studying the Bible and singing songs for a long time, Timothy. And I get something new from God’s Word every week.”

By this time, we were getting out of the van and walking towards the worship center. That’s when he said, “I don’t think we need to go to church every week. Why don’t we just wait until there’s something new to learn?”

He goes on to provide a stunning answer. I commend the article to you. Read it here.

Seashells

While I’m spending the week with my fiancee I won’t be doing any writing/chapter summaries. Instead, it’ll be a good time to put up some quotes from what I’m reading and link up to other articles that have been a blessing or have been challenging to me. Todays:

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2013/05/20/john-piper-is-not-anti-seashell/

Living with a view towards our ultimate satisfaction in God doesn’t mean we close our eyes to the pleasures that God has made in this world. It means we appreciate them even more than we ever thought we could!

I appreciate the fact that Trevin Wax picks up on this nuance in Piper’s theology, and his article makes that clear. Even if you’re not familiar with John Piper, its worth a read for the amazing quotes and ideas.

A snippet:

“To wake up in the morning and to be aware of the firmness of the mattress, the warmth of the sun’s rays, the sound of the clock ticking, the coldness of the wooden floor, the wetness of the water in the sink, the sheer being of things (quiddity as he called it). And not just to be aware but to wonder. To be amazed that the water is wet. It did not have to be wet. If there were no such thing as water, and one day some one showed it to you, you would simply be astonished.” – John Piper

Two necessary prayers

From Scotty Smith’s constantly heart-centering and encouraging blog:

read this first: A Prayer about Sin’s Desire for Us and God’s Grace for Us

and then this: A Prayer about Being Loved by Jesus, Fully and to the End

This morning, I remember my need and my Savior. 

While we’re in this world, you’re constantly loving us—without variance in degree, perfectly and passionately, all the time. You’re loving us when we’re alive to your presence and affections, and you’re loving us when it feels like you’re ignoring our prayers, indifferent to our pain, or displeased with our lives. 

 

Though you died for a huge pan-national bride, I declare today that the Son of God loved me and gave himself for me (Gal. 2:20). This isn’t narcissism; it is necessity. It’s not selfish; it’s sacred. It’s not Western individualism; it’s deeply personal. I’m once again in awe, Jesus. 

The need for evangelism

How Your Church Can Grow in Evangelism from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Both encouraging and convicting. Actually, mostly convicting. Really appreciate these guys and the model they provide for us to follow.