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Longevity and Millennials in the Workplace

Eric Geiger:

I learned a lot from my father about work ethic and offering your best, but I have not spent the last two decades in the same role or place. Few from my generation [Generation X] would quantify longevity as “the same role for your entire life,” and few from my generation will stay in the same role/place. In other words, longevity means different things to a Boomer and an Xer. And different things still to a Millennial.

You Really Don’t Need To Work So Much

This was really good:

Some people think that Americans just prefer work to leisure; a strong work ethic, according to this theory, has become a badge of honor for anyone with a college degree. If you’re busy, you seem important. There is also the pride that people can have in their work; they also find love and free food at workplaces, and go to conferences as a form of vacation. Others think the rise in work must somehow be related to inequality: as people at the top of the income ladder earn more money, each hour they work becomes more valuable. And there’s the theory that our needs and desires grow as we consume more, producing an even greater need to work.

Too Big Not To Fail

Jared Wilson:

If we look at Babel as the prototype for the pursuit of fame and power, we see a few interesting things by way of diagnosis. First, the pursuit of renown is really a pursuit of significance. Why do I want you to notice me, to tell me how great I am? Not because I fundamentally trust or value your opinion, but because I fundamentally distrust any notion that I’m anything in anywise special. The proof in that is that one ounce of praise from a few isn’t enough; I want more from many. Secondly, the pursuit of renown is the result of fear. “Let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” We seek security in attention.

Like the Babelists, we build our towers, not knowing the great dangerous irony — that the stronger we get, the more vulnerable we become. The fall is prefaced by pride. The split second before the great collapse is the proudest we’ve ever been.

Is the Apocrypha Scripture?

Mike Leake:

The books in question were all written by Jews in what is known as the “inter-testamental” period (430 BC-AD 40). Some of these books can be helpful for understanding the history during this time. Other books are entertaining stories. Some sound like typical biblical Wisdom texts like the Psalms or Proverbs.

So why don’t we accept them as Scripture? There are 5 main reasons, but first I think its important to understand a fundamental difference in the way Roman Catholics view the formation of the canon and the way we Protestants view the formation of the canon.

Six Lessons Learned in the Waiting

Chris Hefner:

Nearly five years ago, I walked into Dr. Greg Mathis’ office and shared with him that I believed God was leading me to become a Senior Pastor. That seems like a long time ago. In some ways, those years seemed an eternity. In another sense, they passed rapidly. When I first shared with Pastor Greg, part of me thought I would enter into a Senior Pastor position quickly. Well, that didn’t happen. Let me offer some of the lessons I’ve learned in the waiting process.

The 2015 end-of-summer giveaway!

summer-giveaway-2015

One of the things I’m most grateful for about this blog is the opportunity to share great books with you—and this week, I have the privilege of giving away a number of new books in partnership with my friends at Crossway, B&H Publishing, P&R Publishing, Cruciform Press, Zondervan, Faithlife, and more!

Here’s what you can win:

And don’t be surprised if you see a few extra titles added before this giveaway is done.

How do you enter? Simple: Just use the handy-dandy Rafflecopter tool below (RSS readers, you’ll need to click through to enter). You’ve got lots of options there, and the more you take advantage of, the greater the chances of winning!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The contest closes August 28th at midnight. Enjoy!

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Crossway’s put a number of titles in John Piper’s The Swans Are Not Silent series on sale for $3.99:

Life is Short: DON’T Have An Affair: Praying through Proverbs 7:18-26

This is much-needed.

Reflections on a Planned Parenthood Protest

John Piper:

This morning I was one of several thousand people who gathered in St. Paul, Minnesota, to say to Planned Parenthood that killing children is not an acceptable response to crisis pregnancies. And to say to our government that killing children should not be funded by tax dollars. Among other things.

Here are seven short reflections on the morning.

Stop and Enjoy the Ordinary

Tom Schreiner:

Ecclesiastes is realistic. It teaches us that life under the sun is often empty, futile, and absurd, and yet it does not run us into the rocks of despair either. The conclusion of the book functions as the lens, the perspective, by which the whole of the book should be read. “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13–14). When we understand that this world isn’t paradise on earth, we are reminded that nothing is more important than a right relationship with God.

Josh Duggar and the nature of repentance

Marty Duren:

It is easy to think our “Christian duty” fulfilled in castigating the wrongdoer, since neither fingers nor tongues wag as comfortably to the mirror. However, there are, for all of us who follow Jesus, a few lessons to be learned.

Hiding Our Gospel Light in Our Draculaic World

Chris Martin:

The idea of lighting a lamp and covering it is so ridiculous, we must read it and ask, “Why would Jesus even address the covering of a lighted lamp?” He address the ridiculous because its reality. By the light of the gospel, there is nothing hidden that will not be found and nothing secret that will stay that way.

Six of the most awful words for your soul

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They’re not, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” (That’s seven words.)

No, the words I’m thinking of are, to some degree, as equally terrifying as these ones, though. These are words that, in the right context, can be life giving. They’re an invitation, a call to respond. But when they’re used wrongly, they have the stench of death upon them:

“Here is what you must do.”

Encouraging action is a good thing, obviously. James makes it very clear that faith will lead to works, as does virtually every other letter in the New Testament. And the Old Testament law itself is built upon the same relationship as the commands of the New: we are always acting in response to who God is, what he has done and through his enablement.

Always. 

And yet, you’d never know it to be so based on what some of us who claim the name of Jesus write and speak. Far too many books have been written and far too many messages have been delivered that forget a basic truth of Christianity—the contrast between legalism and spirituality. Rather than emphasizing true spirituality—rather than recognizing that we live supernatural lives as those brought to life by the Spirit of Christ—the focus turns, and we’re encouraged to live by our own effort, under our own strength.

But the problem with this is it doesn’t work. And it never has, as Ray Ortlund reminds us in Supernatural Living for Natural People:

Legalism is externalized holiness, while spirituality is internalized holiness. And spirituality produces the kind of people the law had in mind all along. The ‘law of sin and death’, as Paul calls it [in Romans 8:2], is human virtue confined to legalism. It is trying to meet the challenge of God’s holy law through our own self-mastery. Really, it only reinforces sin, concealed under a veneer of self-righteousness. But still, legalism is attractive to the human heart, because it reduces righteousness to humanly manageable dimensions. It reduces holiness to sin management, behavior modification. Lacking God’s Spirit, however, it only produces death. It hollows a person out. It turns righteousness into a role play, and make-believe moral character is unsustainable.… [B]oot-strapping ourselves up by God’s law does not deliver us. It only intensifies our frustration. It binds us to our sinful patterns, even as it makes us pretend to be something we really aren’t.

Legalism’s hollow promise leads to hollow people. We don’t need to hear, again, how we can pull ourselves up by our spiritual bootstraps. And when you are weary of trying, when you are ready to cry out and ask who will rescue you “from this body of death” (Romans 7:24), remember that God has given us the answer—Jesus Christ! He has paid it all, he has given all, and he sustains all—but he doesn’t expect us to do it all. Not alone, not ever.

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Today is the last day to get these books on literature from Crossway:

Also on sale are:

Why I Am Going To Protest Planned Parenthood

Today, there are protests going on at Planned Parenthood sites around America. Jeff Medders explains why he is going to be a part of one in Texas.

Ashley Madison and Who You Are Online

Tim Challies:

One of the great deceptions of the Internet is that it allows us to think there are two parts to us, the part who exists in real time and space, and the part who exists in cyberspace. But events like this ought to make us realize that when you go online you display and expose who and what you really are. And who you really are will eventually find you out. God will not be mocked.

3 Things to Remember Before You Criticize Someone’s Theology

Justin Taylor:

Critique—done well—is a gift to the one being criticized. (“Faithful are the wounds of a friend,” Prov. 27:6a). We should welcome the opportunity to have our thinking corrected and clarified. We see see in a mirror dimly and we know only in part (1 Cor. 13:12), but God has gifted the church with teachers who often see things more clearly than we do at present. In God’s providence and through the gift of common grace he may also use unbelievers to critique our views, showing our logical mistakes or lack of clarity.

How One Group of Dads Invests in Their Sons

Bob Smietana shares the story of a group of concerned fathers who chose to intentionally start discipling their sons.

Is There Any Actual Demand for Same-Sex Marriage?

Joe Carter:

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. One question the Court ignored—and which few people ever truly considered—was whether there is an actual demand for same-sex marriage.

Tell the story that’s *yours* (For the Church)

enticing-enough

My series at For the Church, “Letters to a New Believer,” continues. The first post addressed the dangers of rushing into leadership roles. The second takes a step back to look at getting grounded in the Bible. The third, is my encouragement to tell the story that’s yours:

We tend to follow a pretty standard three-point summary:

  • what your life was like before becoming a Christian
  • what happened to draw you to Christ
  • what your life is like now.

I’m pretty sure that there’s no Christian who couldn’t divide up their story in this fashion.

But that doesn’t mean our stories are meant to fit neatly into a template.

The first time I realized this was when I tried to share my testimony in Honduras. It was 2006, I’d been a Christian for just over a year, it was my first missions trip, and it was super-awkward. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what happened (though I did), nor was it that I was particularly uncomfortable in front of a crowd (though I was). What made it awkward was the way I was telling the story wasn’t right.

Remember the standard three-point summary? Well, usually when you hear it, it goes something like this:

“Before I was a Christian, my life was a mess. I was living for myself, joyful on the outside but empty on the inside, numbing my insecurities with drugs, alcohol and/or sex with random strangers. One night, things reached a breaking point—I hit rock bottom—and I gave my life to Jesus. After that, I realized I’d found what I’d been looking for and now I’m living my life for him, serving in my church and found an extra five dollars in my coat this morning.”

Okay, that probably came across a little cheeky, but I don’t mean it to be glib. When I hear how God has brought someone to this obvious breaking point, and taken them through the proverbial fire, and when I see how their lives have been changed through their relationship with Jesus Christ, I am so thankful. But not everyone has an obvious rock bottom moment. And for some of us, the story doesn’t get better at the end.

Keep reading at For the Church.

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Anything is Possible if You Work Hard . . . Until it Isn’t

Dan Darling:

“Anything is possible if you work hard . . . ” this is a message that we hear, over and over again, a credo embedded in the ethos of many Americans. I say “many” because the realities of those of us who have grown up in safe, relatively affluent suburbs is vastly different from my brothers and sisters who’ve grown up in more hope-starved, crime-ridden, opportunity-free precincts of American life.

Do All Infants Go to Heaven?

Sam Storms:

This is more than a theoretical issue designed for speculation. It touches one of the most emotionally and spiritually unsettling experiences in all of life: the loss of a young child.

The view I embrace is that all those who die in infancy, as well as those so mentally incapacitated they’re incapable of making an informed choice, are among the elect of God, chosen for salvation before the world began. The evidence for this view is scant, but significant.

Planned Parenthood: Invitation, Explanation, Indignation

John Piper:

Indignation is cheap. Anyone can get bent out of shape. There is no great moral capital in human anger. It comes easy. But the absence of anger (and sorrow) in some cases is a sign of a disordered heart.

When an evil is as massive as the killing of human beings is in our nation, large and hard words lose their force over time. What is needed is real stories, real experience, real glimpses — not just of the babies, but the hearts of those who kill them. We are getting those, in this peculiar cultural moment.

Kindness Is Not Weakness

Russell Moore:

Listen to Christian media or attend a “faith and values” rally, and you’ll hear plenty of warfare speech. Unlike past “crusades,” however, such language is directed primarily at people perceived to be cultural and political enemies. If we are too afraid of seeming inordinately Pentecostal to talk about the Devil, we will find ourselves declaring war against mere concepts, like “evil” or “sin.” When we don’t oppose demons, we demonize opponents. And without a clear vision of the concrete forces we as the church are supposed to be aligned against, we find it very difficult to differentiate between enemy combatants and their hostages.

A Plea to Churches to Use Their Bibles

Jim Elliff:

Without turning back to a visible and rigorous commitment to the Bible, churches will continue to lead the way in moral decline, giving credence to all kinds of errant and ungodly ideas. Why are some churches, for instance, on the vanguard for homosexuality when the Bible clearly places homosexuals outside of His people? Homosexuals are to be loved, also a biblical truth, but repentance is necessary for homosexuals to be accepted into the visible body of Christ. Only people without the word of God as its guide can miss this easily discernible message.

Good writing, prioritizing and gospel communication

words-servants

Some of the best advice I ever read about writing came from Seth Godin.

Now, I know Godin’s a pretty divisive figure for some—he’s either beloved as a marketing genius, or he’s derided for speaking almost exclusively in buzzwords and sound effects. But when I was a brand-new writer, there was one thing he wrote on his blog that made writing make sense to me. He wrote,

Most people work hard to find artful ways to say very little. Instead of polishing that turd, why not work harder to think of something remarkable or important to say in the first place?

In the years since reading this, the advice has stuck with me. And the more writing I’m exposed to—whether from paid professionals, authors, bloggers, or folks writing emails in the office—the more I realize just how hard a time we have communicating well.

I’ve read entire books where the author’s said virtually nothing. I’ve read three page letters that could have been a paragraph. (I’ve probably even written a few of them.) We would all do well to remember that brevity is essential to good communication. Although I’m a fan of playful writing and treating writing as art (points I discuss in greater detail in the Write More Better eBook), it’s easy to forget that communicating simply is an art, too.

In their book Made to Stick, authors Chip and Dan Heath, put it this way:

Simplicity isn’t about dumbing down, it’s about prioritizing.… What’s the core of your message? Can you communicate it with an analogy or high-concept pitch?

A commitment to simple communication doesn’t reject beautiful writing. It reminds us that our words are servants of the message. And this is where I see much to be encouraged by in the Scriptures.

In the Bible—and especially in the gospel message—there is a marriage of simplicity and beauty in thought and form. The message of the cross is profoundly simple in many ways: the entire gospel message can be summarized as simply as “Jesus died for our sins, in accordance with the Scriptures… he was buried… he was raised on the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). It’s a simple statement, but it’s foolish to treat it as simplistic. It tells us the major beats, yes; but invites us to delve deeper. It hooks us. It makes us want to discover more (or at least it should).

That’s the kind of thing that I’m talking about—that’s what simple and simply good communication does.There are other examples, of course: many of Jesus’ parables, John’s epistles and even much of Paul’s writing can be easily understood, and invite us to plumb their depths. And that’s the point: in the same way the Bible embraces this “profoundly simple yet simply profound” form of communication, so should we as Christians. We need to recognize that the gospel isn’t a complicated message (even if its implications leave our heads spinning). We need to be thankful for that fact. And when we write, we should always make it our aim to let our words serve the message, rather than our message become muddled by our words.


This post is adapted from an article originally posted in June 2010.

Photo credit: Aftermath of the Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots via photopin (license). Designed with Canva.

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No Such Thing as Free Porn

Cam Triggs:

In the isolated dark office, sin disguises itself as “free” — free of cost, free of accountability, and free of consequences. Don’t believe the lie. Deconstructing the phrase “Free Porn” may save your marriage, and ultimately your relationship with Christ. Here is a truth we desperately need today — there is no such thing as free porn.

The 7th Planned Parenthood Video + 4 FAQs

Yet another video has been released, this one more horrific than the last (if that’s possible). Justin Taylor provides a helpful FAQ here.

Why I Don’t Blame Planned Parenthood

Camille Cates:

While confessing the sin of abortion may seem like it heaps more judgment and condemnation on you, God’s Word reveals something entirely different. When we turn to Jesus Christ in our conviction of sin—instead of shifting blame over it, justifying it, or simply ignoring it—we find hope and healing in the one who bore God’s wrath for sin on the cross.

Guardian Angels?

Nick Batzig:

“You must have a guardian Angel watching over you!” You’ve either heard it said or have said it to someone after their life took an unexpected and much needed turn for the better. It might seem like an irrelevant question in our post-modern, technological, post-enlightenment, scientific world; but, I care deeply about whether or not there are such things as guardian Angels appointed by God to watch over believers.

Contentment Isn’t Natural, but it Can Be Learned

Michael Kelley:

At that time, what I intended by putting that verse in my locker was to remind myself that I could run one more 40 yard dash through Christ who strengthens me. I could do one more drill through Christ who strengthens me. I could knock one more guy over through Christ who strengthens me. But then one faithful Friday night, my high school football team lined up across from another team – the Dumas Demons. And after the game, I saw a group of those Demons kneeling in prayer on the 50 yard line. And though it hadn’t struck me before, I suddenly came to the realization that there were probably actual Christians who played for the other team. In fact, there might even have been one Christian with Philippians 4:13 taped in their locker. So as I was trying to knock someone over with the power of Christ, so also might someone have been trying to knock me over with the same power.

9 things we learned in our first year of homeschooling

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Well, we did it: we completed our first year of homeschooling. When we started down this road, we didn’t really know what to expect: would the kids take to it? Would they turn into potatoes? Would we face the silent (or not so silent) judging of public schooling friends, family, and strangers?

These questions weighed pretty heavily as we started the year. But thankfully, it went better than I anticipated, even if there were a few hiccups along the way. Here are nine things I learned during our first year of homeschooling:

1. Kids’ books help me learn, too! Children’s books are more likely to give you the “big beats” of a subject that you maybe should have learned the first time around. Take history, for example: I want our kids to see that history is important. But in trying to teach this, I realized I didn’t pick up a particularly robust understanding of Canadian history in public school. So during our library and bookstore trips, I’d often grab a few books for myself. Among the things I learned? For one month, William Lyon Mackenzie was President of the Republic of Canada.

2. I loved seeing so many milestones firsthand. It was really cool to see Abigail learning to carry numbers, start to understand fractions, and begin memorizing her multiplication tables. Hannah was able to repeat back what she’d learned from our study on the ear. Hudson knows most of his letters and numbers, and points them out whenever he sees them. I would hate having missed all of this.

3. I realized my expectations were unrealistic (sometimes). Sometimes I picked work that I thought was going to be easy, but was not appropriate for the kids’ age levels. I had to apologize to Abigail for giving her a spelling list that was way too advanced for her. I also had to scale back my expectations of Hannah, who currently can really only do about an hour (tops) of concentrated schoolwork. I also had to deal with the disappointment of Hannah not liking the McGuffey Primer we purchased. (Sorry, she didn’t not like it—she hated it.)

4. Bible time was not a given. We know it’s important to teach our kids the Bible, but for some reason, it didn’t occur to me that Bible time was something that should be a part of our regular school routine. (Maybe we can blame that on my public school upbringing.) It was really helpful when Aaron brought home a copy of XTB, a daily Bible reading and activity book for kids ages 7-11 from The Good Book Company. Abigail’s really enjoying it so far, and we’re going to stick with it into the new school year.

5. Finding the right curriculum is challenging—but not for a lack of options. When I started researching homeschooling, one mom told me, “Don’t go to a homeschool convention. You will cry. I did.”

I’m glad I listened to her advice. There are literally millions of options out there—some good, some not so much. For example, I was super-excited about a zoology curriculum that was story-based. It had great reviews and the samples looked promising. But as we started working through it, I saw the story was poorly written, they had some major geography fails (seriously, they put Quebec in Manitoba on a map!), and the data sheets were a chore. My kids learned more from watching Wild Kratts on Netflix (don’t judge).

We ended up going with a hodge-podge of different resources, and it worked out pretty well for us. We had the Complete Canadian Curriculum as our foundation and supplemented with a bunch of other resources, including SpellingCity.com and Khan Academy. We even started doing Latin together, using Visual Latin as our curriculum (it’s super fun!).

6. Belonging to a co-op is helpful, but it is also a job. As first time homeschoolers, it was helpful for my children to be able to meet other home-educated kids and for me to get to know other parents. What I didn’t expect was how much work would be involved in teaching courses (parents are expected to teach three per year in our group)! By the end, I was pretty stressed as I taught our yearbook course which wound up having a lot of coordinating, following up and generally chasing people to get their work done. So there’s that.

7. No one is judging me. Really. No one cares when we get on the bus and go to the library on a weekday (with a stop at Starbucks on the way). No one freaks out about me setting up a beach cabana at the park on a Wednesday morning so the kids can eat raisins in the shade. I’ve had people come and ask questions before, but no one has ever accosted me. So, hurray!

8. I could take more breaks. There were days when the best thing to do when the kids were being super-whiny (“My hands are too tired to do school!”) or passive aggressive that we should have closed the books and went for a nature walk. Sometimes we did. But I probably could have done it more often.

9. When you’re done, it’s okay to be done. We ended up finishing our work before public school officially ended, and I was fretting because I didn’t know what to do. Aaron said, “Emily, you’re done. You can stop now.”

“Really? But there’s a week left before the public schools let out.”

“Who cares? You taught the material you wanted to cover, and then some. You can seriously stop now.” So I did and we transitioned into a more relaxed daily routine for the summer, with reading and Bible time, and educational computer games. After all, we don’t want to be rusty for the fall, right?

So that was our first year of homeschooling. I was really nervous going in—I worried that I would turn our kids into potatoes; that they wouldn’t learn anything and that they’d hate it. Thankfully I was wrong. Abigail loved her first year in our new set up. Hannah liked it more than she lets on (I hope). And Hudson’s just happy to be here.

Onward to year two!


Photo credit: arranging graph via photopin (license)

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Be sure to also check out this sale at Westminster Books on Rico Tice’s Honest Evangelism, which you can get for as little as $7.

The Divisive Person Is The One Who Departs From The Truth

Jared Wilson:

The person who objects is often told they are “singling out” this particular sin as over-important, as more important than unity! But it is not those who protest who are singling out particular sins. It is those bringing the revision, the ones asking, “Did God really say…?”, the ones who suggest it should now be normal what we previously agreed was objectionable who are singling it out, elevating it above the agreement. They are the ones making it the sticking point.

Writing With Authority

Mike Leake:

It’d been an ongoing discussion. One of those that isn’t heated but its just a difference of opinion on how to “do church”. The guy I’d been going back and forth with stopped into my office and gave me an article from LifeWay on the very topic that we’d been discussing. The article agreed with him and not me. The article landed on my desk with the thud of authority. “See, I’ve go the dudes at LifeWay on my side in this one. The people who are experts and ‘in the know’ agree with me on this”.

When You Get The Raw End Of The Deal

Mark Altrogge:

I’ve never experienced the horrible injustice some do on a daily basis, like Christians in North Korean prison camps or victims of ISIS. But like everyone else, I’ve been wronged at times. For trying to be kind, I’ve gotten scorn. A few times, after spending hours and hours trying to help someone, I’ve been blamed for their troubles. I’m not complaining and don’t feel like I’m a victim. I know many who have tried to help and bless others far more than I have, only to be despised and blasted on Facebook or worse.

5 Ways to Spot the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

While we want to assume the best of everyone sitting across from us in the pews, Jesus told us to be wary of wolves in sheep’s clothing seeking to infiltrate the body (Matthew 7:15).

But He didn’t want us always looking over our shoulder, fearful every person we shake hands with or strike up a conversation with in small group will stab us in the back.

We are Dust and He is Rest

Lore Ferguson Wilbert:

Heschel says, “If you work with your mind, sabbath with your hands, and if you work with your hands, sabbath with your mind.” I adopt this phrase and wear it as a mantra. I chop the basil and the spinach, press my thumb and index finger testing a ripe tomato, check on the chicken twice. I rest with these rhythms, these constants.

Why delight in the Word?

Delight

Why delight in the Word?

When a person delights in it, when he or she meditates on the Bible consistently, and the Holy Spirit is working in him, there will be fruit. It will always be there, even if only incrementally at first. But why does that fruit exist? Consider Psalm 1:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3)

The metaphor the psalmist uses in Psalm 1:3 is that of a tree in fertile ground, a healthy one that bears fruit in its season. Does a tree need fruit? Does it do the tree good? I mean, it doesn’t nourish the tree. The soil does that. It doesn’t give it life. The water does that. But its fruit does spread life—the fruit begets and nourishes new life.

In the same way, it’s not the fruit of our faith that gives us life—the living water that Christ gives us and that we come to know in His Word—that water gives us life. Our fruit benefits those around us—serving as encouragement to them, and perhaps being a catalyst for them finding new life in Christ.

So just think of one biblical example of two people who bore tremendous fruit for a moment: Timothy and Epaphroditus. In Philippians 2:19-27, Paul wrote that, “there is no one like him [Timothy] who will be genuinely concerned for your [the believers at Philippi] well being.”

There was no one like Timothy, among all those with whom Paul served. Think about that. Timothy was incredibly self-sacrificing. He would, without question, put aside his own interests for the sake of others. He wanted to see the gospel’s work completed in their lives. His love and concern—his Spirit-wrought love of others—was the fruit of his faith. Similarly Epaphroditus, Paul’s “brother” in the faith, his “fellow worker and fellow soldier and your messenger and minister to my needs,” was greatly distressed because Philippians had heard he was ill. He wanted their hearts to be glad. His desire was for their joy.

That is good fruit. That is the kind of fruit that nourishes and begets life. That’s the kind of fruit that comes from a life devoted to the Lord, to knowing his Word, to meditating on it day and night. The Spirit will always work through his word to bring about this kind of fruit.

Friends, if we are lacking in fruit, our response should not be to try harder or make promises to do more better. Instead, let’s turn to the word of God. For as we devote ourselves to the word, the Spirit will bring about much fruit.


Photo credit: Shepherdia argentea via photopin (license). Designed with Canva.

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Why Gay Marriage Can’t Be Christian Marriage

Ben Witherington:

At the end of the day either we realize that gender matters, and gender difference is essential to a real Christian marriage, or we totally change the definition of what counts as marriage, what counts as husband and wife, what counts as mother and father Biblically speaking. It is in no way surprising that in the most individualistic and narcissistic culture on the planet, that Americans would like to be able to even choose their gender, their own biology. But in fact you can’t do that, and since gender matters Biblically speaking when it comes to Christian marriage, you also do not have Biblical permission to redefine marriage, husband, wife, mother or father.

I Don’t Know, And That’s OK

Nick Horton:

Why are so many of us uncomfortable saying the words, “I don’t know?” It’s incredibly freeing, I recommend you try it  some time. We give voice to the truth that we are not God when we do so. The expectation of full and total knowledge is nothing more than unmasked pride, quivering in its rush to be like God. Yet we will never know everything, now or in Heaven. Omniscience is a divine attribute and as such does not convey to us.

The Distracted Worshipper

Check out the first part of a new series at the Leadership Resources blog.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Bible Rebinding

Matthew Everhard:

There is no book called The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Bible Rebinding, but if such a volume is ever to be written, I have a feeling that I may inadvertently be its protagonist.

Incidentally, The Bible Design Blog may well be my new favorite blog.

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say to Your Wife then…

Erik Raymond:

We have all heard the expression, “If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all.” This may be good advice for elementary school children but it is not preferred for husbands.

Am I saying, “Feel free to insult your wife.” Hardly. Instead I am saying that we need to try harder, look deeper, pay more attention.

Don’t Trust Yourself In Anything

cannot-be-trusted

You are not to be trusted. I may not know you, but I am confident that I can’t be confident in you.

Proverbs 3:5 tells us to trust the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding. It calls us to place our confidence in God. It leads us to forsake ourselves. Trusting the Lord gets most of the attention in that verse, and rightly so, but we have a tendency to forget that wisdom and to trust ourselves in some circumstances. Many scholars call that “super dumb.”

So, let’s look at not leaning on our own understanding. Here are three reasons you shouldn’t trust yourself.

1. You don’t know most of what you can know.

There is so much information available in the world, and you don’t know most of it. The knowledge is out there, but you don’t have it. If you don’t know that you don’t know most of what you can know, take this short quiz:

  1. What is the capital is the capital of Uzbekistan?
  2. What is the square root of 4096?
  3. Why is there an aurora borealis?
  4. Who invented power steering?
  5. Where is the largest sunflower garden?
  6. How many calories are in a Five Guys cheeseburger?

I don’t want to know the answer to that last question, but I don’t actually know the answer to any of them. And it was easy it was to come up with questions I don’t know the answer to because I don’t know the answer to most questions. Neither do you. How can we trust ourselves when we have such limited knowledge? We don’t know most of what there is to know.

2. You don’t know any of what you can’t know.

As much as we don’t know about what we can know, there is probably even more that we don’t know that we could never know. There are so many things that are simply impossible for us to know.

Next time you are at the grocery store ask yourself this question—“What is happening at my house right now?” You’ll probably have a good guess, but you can’t know for sure if you’re not there. Everything is probably how you left it, but it might be on fire. A pipe might have burst and your kitchen might be flooding. A truck might have just driven into your living room. Let that weird reality sink in. None of us know for sure there is not a truck in our living room when we are shopping for cereal.

We also can’t know what our kids will score on the SAT. We can’t know what our spouse is thinking when they don’t feel like talking. We can’t know when we are going to die. There’s so much we don’t know. There’s so much we can’t know. It is foolish to lean on our own understanding. But, there is one more reason.

3. You’re not honest with what you do know.

This last one is a harder to prove, but I’m hoping you can be honest with yourself just long enough to acknowledge the fact that you are often not honest with yourself. We must not lean on our own understanding because even when we have understanding, which is rare, we often lie to ourselves about it. Sometimes we know deep down that we are wrong, but we keep telling ourselves we are right, right? We are deceitful people and we are best at deceiving ourselves. We convince ourselves we are not as bad as we are, that we are not as wrong as we are, that we are not as weak as we are. Even when we know something we can know, we can’t know that we are really being honest about it.

We cannot lean on our own understanding because we don’t know so much, can’t know so much, and can’t be trusted. Thank the Lord we can trust the Lord. May he lead us to Five Guys.


Brandon Hiltibidal is a husband to Scarlet, a daddy to Ever and Brooklyn, an owner of the Green Bay Packers, and a Discipleship Strategist at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, TN. Follow him at @bmhiltibidal.