Around the Web May 2021

This week I am sharing some articles written by other Christians during May 2021, which I hope you might find helpful. I have included an extract from the article beneath each link to give an indication of the content of each one.

I’ve sinned again. Will God forgive me?

Jonathan Landry Cruse writes “If you’re struggling with that one sin that never seems to go away, the one that has a perfect record when facing off against you in the ring, that’s when you need the good news of the inexhaustible grace and love of Jesus more than ever. Why? Because when we’re low we’re more likely to believe that devilish lie that God’s love is contingent on our performance. We may think that his forgiveness can be depleted. We sin again—for the umpteenth time—and then think, “Will God really forgive me this time?” For those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, here’s your answer: Yes! To remember that, take to heart these three truths.”

How to Hear a Sermon Well

Scott Hubbard starts this article by saying “No preacher, upon looking up from his pulpit, hopes to see what I saw mid-sermon one Sunday morning: a man in the last row, head tilted against the back wall, sleeping like Rip Van Winkle.

A humbling moment for a young preacher, to be sure. Yet as I remember that drooping face several years later, a question comes to mind that brings a humbling of a different kind: How many church gatherings have I attended where, as far as spiritual attentiveness goes, I might as well have been sleeping?”

In Praise of Deep, Slow Study

Glenna Marshall shares some thoughts about her Bible study group, as they studied the book of Joshua, “In January, my Bible study group began reading the book of Joshua. We finished this week. That’s nearly five full months in one book of the Bible. Week after week, we read a portion of the text and answered the same questions about each passage. We discussed faithfulness, obedience, idolatry, worship, war, apostasy, promises, covenants, and the gospel…….. For these five months, we have laboured to understand, have come with our questions and our struggles, and have been encouraged by the hours of study each person brings to the table.”

Think before you speak. God loves the person you’re disagreeing with

Tim Farrow addresses the important issue of modelling what it means to disagree well. “As Christians we should seek to model a better way. We can – and should – be angry at injustice, but we must see those who take a different view to us as people of immense dignity created in God’s own image. As such, we are to treat them with kindness, gentleness and respect. We see today’s political issues as important to the welfare of our neighbour… but at the same time we also consider those issues to be temporary. Just as every ideology and every government is temporary, so we need not panic or explode in fury if we find ourselves on the losing side, nor gloat and denigrate our opponent if we are winning.”

Moses’ Guide to Postpandemic Parties

Michael J Rhodes says “When I walked up to my church’s outdoor Easter service, my first thought was a joyful one: “I have missed this so much.” But my second thought was much more unsettling: “I forgot how much I missed this.”

The pain of the pandemic has extended to every part of our lives. Some have lost loved ones. Some have lost jobs. Once-in-a-lifetime celebrations have gone uncelebrated. And many churches have made excruciating changes to our worshiping life. For some congregations, that has meant moving most of what we do away from in-person gatherings and on to the Zoom meetings, livestreams, and conference calls that have dominated our waking, working, and worshiping hours.

Prince Harry masked his pain with drink and drugs – so did I but God saved me

Emma Heath speaks about the how Jesus filled her soul with hope. “It amazes me that life was once so dark and hopeless and now, because of what God has done – and is still doing – it’s a life beyond my wildest dreams. Through God, I see how my battles have become blessings, helping people as I journey forwards.

Dealing with pain properly, rather than turning to substances, unhealthy habits or coping strategies is not for the faint hearted. Recovery – and developing new, healthy ways to deal with pain, as well as dealing with the root causes of trauma – takes commitment and dedication. Yet it is so worth it. The more effort you put in, the more you see the changes in yourself. I’ve stopped blaming the world and my past, and instead, through Christ, have learnt to forgive myself and others. The world is a mess and it’s so easy to blame everyone and everything for bad behaviour, yet having faith has helped me to do what I couldn’t do for myself. Change is possible.

Image by Lukas Bieri from Pixabay

Six Articles to Read

This week I am sharing some articles written by other Christians which I hope you might find helpful. I have included an extract from the article beneath each link to give an indication of the content of each one.

9 Practical Tips for Bible Reading

George Sinclair starts this article off by saying “You will never have enough time to read the Bible. If you wait until you have enough time to read the Bible, you will rarely read the Bible. The world, the flesh and the devil will help fill your day. This means that you have to choose to take time. You will have to sacrifice doing something else so you have time to read God’s word and pray to Him. You need to pray that the Lord will help you set time aside so you can spend time with Him. Here are some pointers.”

Why churches must never require Covid passports

Jesus did not put requirements on coming into his presence, and neither should we, argues Rev Dr Matthew Roberts, one of over 1,000 church leaders to have signed an open letter to parliament in opposition to vaccine passports 

Our Lord Jesus, for obvious reasons, never met anyone with Covid. But he did meet numerous people with another infectious disease, and one that was arguably much worse. Leprosy was, with good reason, feared by the people of Jesus’ day. It attacked the skin and living flesh, causing hideous wounds and often death, though not without years of suffering first. It also brought social isolation of the most miserable sort. To be a leper was to be cut off from society; God’s law required it.

Why should I read John Stott?

Chris Wright asks the question and supplies the answer: “Why should anyone in the 21st century read books by someone whose prime years of global evangelical leadership were fifty years ago in the 20th?  The answer could be summarized in three words that we use in Langham Preaching to identify what is required in good biblical preaching: Faithfulness, Relevance, and Clarity.”

A Royal Funeral with a message for everyone

Murray Campbell shares some thoughts on the recent funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh.

“As we viewed the royal funeral from our sofa, absorbing the sight of the ceremonial and the personal, the figure of a Queen in mourning and the sound of stunningly beautiful music, the common face death struck a note.”

It’s Far Too Easy To Buy A Tiger

Tim Challies says “We do hear about people who welcome big cats into their homes and we all have a pretty good idea of how such stories are likely to end. While we would be surprised to hear of a man being killed by his pet hamster or pet budgie, we are not at all surprised to hear of a man being mauled by his pet tiger. Why are we not surprised? Precisely because it’s a tiger!”

The Sweet Grief of Repentance

Greg Moore recalls “I can still see the moment clearly in my mind. At a Christian conference, a friend whom I had been studying the Bible with that semester shared with our group that he was ready to follow Jesus. He broke down in tears. We were football players. We didn’t cry. I honestly couldn’t believe it. He not only accepted my invitation to attend the conference, but he even repented of sin and believed upon Christ for the forgiveness of sins. I sat watching it unfold in absolute awe.”

Encouraging Articles January 2021

As we come to the end of the first month of 2021 this has certainly been a difficult and tough month for many people. At the beginning of January the UK entered its third national lockdown. We have seen a new variant of coronavirus emerge with the challenges that this brings. Sadly the number of deaths continues to rise and over 100,000 have now died from the virus in the UK.

The NHS are under significant pressure in different parts of the country as they battle to help those affected by coronavirus.

On a positive notice, it has been good to see the vaccine being rolled out and hopefully that will aid in the struggle against this virus.

If we are being honest it can be quite discouraging looking back over January. Therefore I thought it would be good to share some links below to articles written by other Christians, that I have read this month and found helpful. I have included an extract from the article beneath each link to give an indication of the content of each one.

Are COVID-19 vaccines made from aborted babies? What is HEK293?

Adrian Warnock has written a very comprehensive piece on the Covid-19 vaccines and starts by saying: “Some Christians do have genuine concerns about vaccination which I will address in this article. I wish to appeal to believers to consider carefully these matters rather than reflexly reject the COVID-19 vaccines.”

3 ideas for living well in 2021

Chris Goswami gives us 3 ideas for living well in 2021 and says “As we enter what we hope is a less exciting year than the last one, few of us now doubt that we are living in historic times. You may have heard Uncle Albert’s signature line in the comedy Only Fools and Horses: “……during the war …..”. He sits in the corner and says it a lot, and it gets met with a chorus of sarcasm from Rodney and Dell Boy. Well I wonder if we will end up in our old age quipping “during the virus …..” only to be met with a chorus of “grandad you tell us that story EVERY WEEK!” I don’t know, but “the virus” is the defining narrative of our age, the story we will retell for years to come, a period of history on which school examination questions will be set.”

OK Christians, Time to Do Your Job

Jeff Weddle reminds us that it is time for Christians to do their job and says “In our current state of rancour, arguing, shouting, rioting, and clamouring, I have an idea: how about we listen to what the Bible says a follower of Christ should do and quit following the world’s example.

If we did, we would shine like lights in the world. The good news is that what we’re told to do sounds very refreshing and lovely right about now!”

Is Sin Inevitable in the Christian Life?

Randy Alcorn asks if sin is inevitable in the Christian life. “One common Christian misunderstanding today is that grace and salvation in Jesus means God has lowered His standards, as compared to the Old Testament law. That’s simply not true. God has raised His standards for the Christian life—but He has empowered us to live that Christian life through our relationship with Him and His indwelling Holy Spirit. His grace teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness (Titus 2:12).”

Tempted and Unarmed

Garrett Kell reminds us why we need the armour of God. “It was the boy’s first day of junior high. All was going well until three older kids took his lunch, ruffled his hair, and stuffed him in a locker. They snarled at his squeals and high-fived one another as they walked away. What the bullies didn’t know, though, was that the kid in the locker was the little brother of the football team’s starting middle linebacker.

After lunch, the boy told his brother what happened. His brother looked him in the eyes. “Let’s go.” As the boy came to his locker, the bullies were waiting for him, grinning. But he hadn’t come alone this time. He came in the strength of his older brother. That was the last day they messed with him.”

Encouraging Articles

This week I am sharing some links to articles written by other Christians that I have found helpful. I have included an extract from the article beneath the link to give an indication of the content of the article.

Advent in a Global Pandemic

Advent, the season of waiting and preparation before the high feast of Christmas, is a chance to regain spiritual sanity, and create fresh and healthier rhythms personally and as a family and as churches. As we enter the six darkest weeks of the year in this hemisphere, we will pivot midway to mark the greatest and brightest turning point in all history: the birth of Christ. And perhaps this Advent will begin restoring what the locusts have taken this year.

Advent doesn’t pretend the darkness is gone. Our lives may yet grow darker. But Advent looks darkness square in the eye and issues this great promise for our season of waiting: darkness will not overcome the Light. It is only a matter of time. And Christmas is just over three weeks away.

How to Pray for the Advent Season

If you’re feeling stressed and over-taxed this Advent season, if you’re feeling lonely and left out, if you’re longing for how things used to be during the holidays of your past, you can still pause and remember the coming of Jesus, both past and future. Praying through the month of December can prepare your heart to focus on Jesus so you don’t miss the days of celebration and remembrance.

Secret Sins Will Harm Others

One of the most treacherous lies we can believe about sin, especially sin we consider private or secret, is that we can keep its consequences to ourselves. That we will be the only ones — if anyone — affected. We rarely consider how our sin inevitably influences others in one way or another.

Behold Your God: A Plea to Look to the Sovereign God

To know that God is completely in control of all things is the greatest comfort for the Christian. In these changing and uncertain times, we have an unchangeable and eternal refuge for our souls, the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, if we are completely honest, this season has brought about much weariness to the soul. We have been pressed and tried on every side. Where do we look to? My friend, by faith, look to the Sovereign Ruler of the skies!

Self-Discipline Is the Gateway to Christian Maturity

Well, there is good news. While some might be more naturally disposed to being disciplined, discipline is not an innate quality some have, and some don’t, like blue eyes or male-pattern baldness. Discipline can be cultivated, it can be grown, and by it we too can grow into Christlikeness. Let’s look at exactly what Christian discipline is, why we so desperately need it, and the practical steps we can take to cultivate discipline in our lives.

Thoughts on Flipping the Bible Open and Reading Wherever You Land (and Recommended Study Resources)

I don’t normally do the “flip the Bible open and put my finger down” method of reading Scripture. However, I used to mock that practice, and I don’t anymore. “Mock” is perhaps too strong of a word, but I used to think, Come on, don’t study the Bible that way. But I’ve often done it and been richly rewarded for it. It’s certainly not my usual way of opening God’s Word each day, but one real positive is that no matter what, you’re still going to end up in the inspired Word of God.

What prevents us from learning more?

Following last week’s post on more to learn this week we are looking at what prevents us from learning more. I have identified four things that can hinder and prevent us from learning more.

Sin
Everyone sins, even the most godly person. However, that is not an excuse for us to fail to wrestle and struggle against the sinful desires we encounter. When we do sin we should immediately ask God for forgiveness and seek to turn from that sin. If we refuse to do this then it will effect our relationship with God.

One of the ways is that we will feel a gap opening up between us and God. This will often result in us not praying and neglecting to read the scriptures. Instead of having a hunger to learn more of God we will become lukewarm in our relationship with God.

Unconfessed sin will have a negative impact on us, but when we confess our sin we experience true forgiveness. In Psalm 32: 3-5 we see this in David’s life as he says:

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of the summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my trangressions to the Lord’ – and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”

Distractions
Another way that we lose the desire to learn more is when other things distract us from spending time with God. These things may not necessary be bad or sinful in themselves, however we need to be aware of these distractions.

We may for example get into the habit of staying up late and watching TV, YouTube videos or browsing our favourite social media sites. Providing we are disciplined and careful with the above activities they can be relaxing. It’s easy though to fritter time away on these instead of spending time learning more about God. If we find ourselves going to bed late and feeling too tired to read our bibles or pray in the mornings, then we need to take action.

Whereas sin is normally obvious to us if we are being totally honest, distractions are not so. It might be a while before we realise how we have not been using our time wisely. When this is revealed to us it’s time to address the matter and introduce some changes to our lifestyles. Maybe we could consider having a day off the internet each week to make time for God or look at other lifestyle changes.

Tiredness
Another thing that can hinder us learning more is tiredness. There may be times in our lives when we are feeling tired and finding it a struggle to get through the days e.g.

  • When a mother has had a baby and is up during the night to feed them.
  • When we are involved in a busy work project which involves us working long hours
  • Following a medical operation when we have to spend time resting

In these situations it would be nonsensical to consider taking on a theology course, especially one that involved a commitment of several hours studying a week! It might be that the best we can manage is to listen to a Christian podcast for 5 minutes a day to edify ourselves. We have to accept that this is a season in our life where it’s not possible to spend several hours with God. The time will come eventually when our circumstances change and we can look forward to this.

Of course, if the tiredness is caused by too many late nights watching TV or YouTube then there is a simple solution: go to bed earlier!

I’m too old!
Another reason can be that we feel we are too old to learn more about God. I’m not referring to an arrogant attitude here that says we know it all. Instead I’m thinking of the lies that come into our mind that suggest we have left it too late in life to learn. This is a subtle form of attack as we might be very keen to grow in our knowledge of God, but feel rather dejected that we are too old and have missed the boat.

It’s probably unlikely that as a ninety year old that you are going to enrol on a three year residential theological course. However, there is no reason why you cannot consider doing a three or six month distance learning course.

In God’s eyes we are never to old to spend time to learn more about Him. There is no retirement age in God’s kingdom and we should never let old age prevent us from serving God.

Conclusion
Perhaps these four areas above have been ones that have prevented you from learning more about God. Maybe there are other reasons. The good thing is that once we discover the reason we can do something about these hindrances that are stopping us growing on our knowledge of God.

The True Christian

I found the following quote and photo on the JCRyle Quotes Facebook page

The True Christian hates sin, flees from it, fights against it, considers it his greatest plague, resents the burden of its presence, mourns when he falls under its influence, and longs to be completely delivered from it.

JCRyle