Blogroll Category: Christian Resources
I read blogs, as well as write one. The 'blogroll' on this site reproduces some posts from some of the people I enjoy reading. There are currently 186 posts from the category 'Christian Resources.'
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We LOVE these books, but don't take our word for it. Here are a selection of customer reviews from some of our most popular releases this year.Women and God
Hard Questions. Beautiful Truth by Kathleen Nielson
"Nielson delivers sound theology in a loving, patient, and clear way."
Ben Daniel, TGBC customer
"A thorough and worthwhile book."
Margaret Sims, TGBC customer
"Life in the Wild is Outstanding!"
Lonnie Brooks, TGBC customer
"Masterfully handles the issues of evil and suffering"
Nick Harsh, TGBC customer
"Be encouraged for your journey in the wild"
James Economidis, TGBC customer
"An easy-to-read and very insightful book"
Krissy Burke TGBC customer
(with Jill Nelson)
The first time I heard our young grade school-aged sons say they spent some of the Sunday school hour doing “sword drills,” I wondered if maybe they’d had a guest speaker from the Army. I’m only half kidding. Not having grown up in churches that had Sunday school, I had to ask them what they meant by the term. They explained that the teacher would announce an “address” (chapter and verse) for a Bible passage, and then all the kids would hold their closed Bibles over their heads, and once the teacher said “Go!”, they’d race to see who could find it first.
“How did you do?” I asked, doubtful if they knew the location of all but a few of the 66 books of the Bible. Thankfully their classmates were willing to lend a hand to these newbies who likely weren’t sure which Testament Zephaniah was in or the difference between an epistle and an apostle.
Fast-forward a handful of years and now our younger sons are among those leaning over to help newcomers at the sound of “Go.” As a teacher in the fourth grade Sunday school class, I’ve realized that growing up in Sunday school is no guarantee that children know where the books of the Bible are located or the difference between “chapter” and “verse.” We have students in our class who have been in church from birth, who still struggle to know their way around Scripture. And I’m more convinced than ever of the importance of knowing.
Years ago, when Jill was teaching 2nd-grade Sunday school, she ran into some push-back when she tried to make the case for Sword Drills. She says, “We were just beginning to strategically and intentionally present our children with a God-centered, Bible-saturated focus in our Sunday school classes. In order to maximize our classroom time toward that goal, we began moving away from the regular and time-consuming crafts to which the children had grown accustomed.”
“Some of the teachers were concerned that this wasn’t the best thing to do. ‘Won’t the children be upset?’ they wondered. ‘Won’t they grow bored if we don’t have some fun, hands-on crafts each Sunday?’”
Instead of eliminating crafts, they proposed an experiment: doing crafts every other week, then, on “no crafts week,” working on Bible skills during what would have been craft time. “I taught the children how to do Sword Drills,” she said. “We even had Sword Drill competitions with boys versus girls or teachers versus the children.”
Over time, guess what happened? The children started to complain, about the crafts. “Mrs. Nelson,” they pleaded, “can we do Sword Drills instead of crafts?”
Yes, it is possible to get children really excited about doing Bible skills activities in the classroom. That’s not to say that doing crafts is never an option—especially with younger children. Even older children can benefit from a craft that is geared toward helping them visualize and better understand a particular spiritual truth. However, craft or no craft, knowing God’s Word is essential for the Christian life. And knowing how to navigate it—to find what you’re looking for, is among the most foundational lessons a child can, and must, learn.
Are you giving precious, limited minutes to crafting on Sunday morning? Consider how you might maximize your classroom time toward things that will have a lasting, eternal, impact on your student’s lives. Taking class time to teach children basic Bible skills can be as fun, interactive, and “hands-on” as any craft. It’s certainly more important. It may even prove more exciting. Just ask those second graders.
Want some ideas to get you started? Here is a list of Bible and Memory Verse Activities, as well as detailed instructions for leading Sword Drills, you can use in your classroom or home.
There are many reasons, writes Michael Nazir-Ali, for restricting the wearing of these garments in a number of important areas of our common life.
First of all, I don’t really like open letters. So it’s rare, and strange, to find myself writing one, but my love for you has compelled me.
I’ve been going to Sunday services since before I was born. Growing up, we went every time the doors were open—three services a week—and many times when the doors weren’t open. My father gave much of his time helping build church buildings and as an elder and treasurer. My mother taught Sunday school, served as a secretary, and did a host of other functions.
I was the kid who had to stay late because his parents had a meeting and still got upset he had to leave. Church, I loved you. And I love you to this day.
You have formed me in so many ways. Singing the hymns with you over and over again—words I barely understood at first—shaped my soul in ways that reverberate in my adulthood. Hearing you preach the gospel—from flawed but godly messengers—has implanted in my heart a deep love for Jesus. And having the chance to help lead a small part of you has been one of the joys of my life.
I love you more today than I ever have. I want my kids to grow up hearing those hymns and hearing that gospel and drinking that cup. And I want my friends and neighbors to come to Sunday services with me to hear about this man from Nazareth who died and paid for my sins.
We’ve asked Jesus, rhetorically, “Who is my neighbor?”, looking for loopholes in his command to love.
We minister in a world fractured by the Fall. All around us and blinking every minute, it seems, on our smartphones, we see tragic results of sin. Racism, violence, famine, abortion, sexual assault, poverty, war. The strong prey on the weak. The privileged pass by the vulnerable. The corrupt mock and displace those with character. And you, church, are where people find hope, and forgiveness, and freedom, and wholeness.
And yet as much as I love you, I know your flaws. Our flaws. We can often allow our tribal instincts and prejudices to blind us to what Jesus is calling us to do in the world. We can be swayed by cultural winds. We are often loud when we should be quiet and silent when we should be shouting.We need a dignity revolution
So, church, you—we—need a fresh approach to engaging the world around us. And yet this fresh approach has its roots in the oldest book of the Bible. Genesis opens with a stunning, radical, visionary picture of human dignity. Unlike any other part of creation, God has stamped upon people his image. He sculpted humans from the dust of the ground and breathed into us the breath of life.
Church, one of our best best gifts to the world is a robust view of human dignity. And one of our greater failings is when we keep quiet about it, fail to apply it, or (worst) forget all about it.
So my hope for you is simple: I long for us to recover the beautiful, robust, rich doctrine of dignity. I pray we allow the imago dei to disrupt our politics and cause us to recognize the humanity of those we are tempted to marginalize, to come alongside the weakest and most vulnerable members of society. I pray we recover what it means to be human to help a world that has lost what it means to be human—so that in a disconnected, frayed, and uncivilized public square, we are known for modeling, in our conversations and in our communities, that rich biblical vision for community.
At its best, this is what we have done. It has often been Christians who have come alongside the sick and the dying in times when no one else would, who have started hospitals and clinics, who have championed civil rights movements and worked to abolish injustices suc as the slave trade in England. And today it is often Christians who are the first to offer relief after natural disasters, and who give up everything to move to developing countries to provide immunizations to disease, to bring fresh water to villages, and to triage in war-torn countries.
And yet we must admit that at our worst, we’ve often been like that priest or Levite on the Jericho road. Instead of seeing the humanity of those who suffer, we’ve found convenient, religious-sounding reasons to pass on by. We’ve asked Jesus, rhetorically, “Who is my neighbor?”, looking for loopholes in his command to love.
I’m not saying that doing this will win the favor of the masses. The good news of the gospel will always be considered radical to those who are far from God. It will always cut against the ethos of the age. But may our radicalness be caused because we are like Jesus, and not because we have imbibed the bigotries of the hour or the greed of the age. May we be different because we are a small and blurry glimpse of that glorious kingdom to come.
Church, I’d love for you to join a dignity revolution. Because, church, you’re the only one who can.
Yours in Christ,
Daniel Darling, Vice-President for Communications of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Pastor of Teaching and Discipleship at Green Hill Church, Mt Juliet, Tennessee.
In The Dignity Revolution, Daniel shows us that each one of us can be, and are called to be, part of this new movement—a human dignity revolution that our societies desperately need, and how we—you—are uniquely placed to join.
The Bishop of Daejeon, Moses Nak Jun Yoo, has been elected as Primate of the Anglican Church of Korea.
The practice of personal Bible study seems sadly to be on the decline in many of our churches. So, as pastors, we need to be aware of good quality resources to stimulate the individual members of our
congregations to pick up their Bibles for themselves, in order to
develop their understanding and personal application of God’s unchanging Word.
One such excellent resource, out of Australia, is “A Better Way To Live” by British author, Graham Hooper.
Graham is a Consultant and former Senior Executive for a global infrastructure company. His work has taken him to more than 20 countries. Now retired and living in Melbourne, he speaks and writes regularly on matters relating to Christian faith in daily life. His first book, “Undivided: closing the faith life gap” was published by IVP in 2013.
Graham brings a life time of experience in the business world to bear on the central challenge of developing a life of wisdom and integrity amid all the pressures of contemporary life.
The book comprises of 52 studies in Proverbs and Psalms which combine careful, thoughtful exposition of the Biblical text with reflections and applications to everyday life. Each of these studies is fresh, engaging, challenging and strengthening.
In his Preface, Graham writes, “There is nothing quite so attractive and so powerful as a godly life …. a way of integrity, love and faithfulness; a way of worship, thankfulness and hope – a better way to live”. That is exactly what these compelling studies portray. They can be used at whatever speed most suits the reader, and probably for many they could form a full 52 weeks of personal learning and development. He continues that the way of practical godliness is “better than the bleak emptiness of secular materialism; better than a vague spirituality which has no substance; better than mere formal religion …. it is about God calling us to live for him in a world that rejects his authority.”
This is a book of authentic spiritual strength and conviction. It has been forged through a life-time of experience and it is this connection to the realities of everyday life which makes it such a valuable tool.
I have worked through the studies myself [DJ], with great enjoyment and profit. I would warmly recommend it to anyone as a valuable tool in helping us live ‘better’ for God before a watching world. It deserves a central place on every church bookstall. The book is published in Australia by Acorn Press, but is available on Amazon, Kindle and Book Depository.
The BBC has reported on the tragic case of a troubled 29-year-old woman, Aurelia Brouwers who obtained voluntary euthanasia in a bid to escape her struggles with depression and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).
“Who am I?” Our modern culture invites us to ask this all the time. Identity has become fluid or malleable. A century ago, who you were was determined by where you had grown up and who your parents were. You were likely to do the job your mother or father did and live in the same area.
But now we can invent and reinvent ourselves almost on a daily basis. We switch careers. We move around. We join subcultures. We have online identities. It’s a world of opportunity— but it also creates angst and anxiety.
Moreover, there is nothing bigger than us to form our identity. The breakdown of families, national identities and belief in God all mean we ourselves have become the measure of our lives. In the past, you might have had a humble job, but you were proud to be part of the company, and proud to be part of your nation. But those corporate identities don’t matter so much now. Now identity is down to me. Identity has become something you achieve rather than something you receive.What if your identity is questioned?
Consider Moses’s identity crisis in Exodus 3. The questioning of his identity was prompted by a task he felt unable to complete. It’s the same today. We enjoy creating our own identity, until we find ourselves unable to deliver. For many people the pressure to achieve and sustain our self-built identities becomes too much. Rates of depression are higher than ever before, and part of that is caused by the brittleness of our sense of who we are, which means we are constantly evaluating and re-evaluating our identity, striving to confirm it and dealing with failures to live up to it.
So the question is: Who am I? God’s answer? “I will be with you” ( v 12). Is that an answer?! How does knowing that someone is with you help you know who you are? I think it is an answer—in fact, the answer. God is saying to Moses that his identity is tied to God’s identity. Moses says, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” We might have said, “Moses, you’re the ideal person. You were brought up in the Egyptian court. You have seen your people’s suffering. And you have been protecting and providing for your flock for years. You can do it.” But God says, “I will be with you”. God is the One who will make the difference. Moses does not need to have higher self-esteem; he needs a greater sense of God’s presence.
You can be a self-made person. And for a while, you may enjoy your autonomy. But it’s hard work. Whether you’re trying to fit in at school or prove yourself in your career or keep up with the latest fashions, eventually the cracks will appear. Always the question remains: Will my self-made identity withstand the pressures of this life, and then the test of divine appraisal beyond this life?
And God says to you, “I will be with you”. You can walk through life with me. You can base your sense of self on your knowledge of me—find your confidence and worth in knowing that I am there for you, and here with you. You can know that I am with you, and your achievements and your failures will not affect that status. “I will be with you.”
Today you can go out with confidence—not in what you can do, but in who is with you.Divine privilege
Imagine trying to visit the Queen at Buckingham Palace. You’re going to be asked, “Who are you?” In other words, “What gives you the right to be here?” Most of us are not going to get past the front gate. But what about Kate Middleton? When she was 15 years old, she would have got no further than us. Now, she can say, “I’m with him. I married the prince.” Who is she? She is Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge. She gets that identity from her husband. In the same way, we get our identity from Jesus our Husband. “I’m with him.” United to Christ, we are children of God the Father.
Moses here is a picture of Israel. This encounter with God takes place at “Horeb, the mountain of God” (v 1). Horeb is another name for Mount Sinai. God tells Moses that the “sign”—the proof that he is with Moses—is that “when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain” (v 12). This is what happens when Israel comes to Mount Sinai in Exodus 19. Israel will repeat the experience of Moses. They will encounter the holy God, tread on holy ground, and hear his voice. Israel as a whole will receive their identity from God, becoming his “treasured possession ... a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (19:5-6).
In 4:22, we’ll hear God say that “Israel is my firstborn son”. In the New Testament, we hear God say that to those who received him when he came among us in the person of his Son, the Lord Jesus: “To those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Who am I? One of the children of God. We are the people who are defined by our God. Yesterday you may have been a great employee or you may have had a terrible day at work. You may have been a great parent or child, or a selfish one. You may have been praised, or mocked, or ignored. You may have been mainly obedient or horribly sinful. But if you have received Christ as your Lord and Saviour, then you are a child of God—and nothing can change that. That means that today you can go out with confidence—not in what you can do, but in who is with you. Who am I? I am a child of God. “I am with you”, God says to you.
This is an extract from Exodus For You, part of the God’s Word For You series of expository guides which walk you through books of the Bible verse by verse. In Exodus For You, Tim Chester shows how this foundational book foreshadows Christ, points to the new creation, and calls us to radical discipleship.
Late summer is a busy time for children’s and youth ministry as church staff and volunteers gear up for the beginning of a new school year. And, increasingly, there are new and exciting resource options out there to consider—resources that claim to engage students in ways that are “relevant” to their particular age group, along with teaching methods and class resources that will keep students eagerly coming back week after week. There’s nothing wrong with that, necessarily.
Wanting your ministry and materials to be engaging and magnetic is understandable. But holding students’ attention should be the result, not the goal, of what you’re teaching.
In “Recovering the Priority of Personal Holiness,” Alistair Begg issued a challenge that applies to the popular notion that Sunday School should be primarily about giving kids fun things to do so they’ll be excited to come back.
…Let’s consider whether we have allowed contemporary culture to infiltrate our minds and hearts. Have we inverted Christ’s desire that the church be in the world by bringing the world into the church instead? If we take an honest look, perhaps we’ll discover that we are contributing to this trend. Rather than relying solely on the sufficiency of God’s Word, are we employing counselors in our churches who apply worldly methods of psychological analysis to address felt needs? Have we adopted worldly means to reach the seekers [or possibly some teens you know] who sit skeptically in the back pews rather than offering them the truths of the Gospel and the Christian life? Faithful teaching of God’s Word is vanishing. Are we among the number that have replaced preaching with elaborate drama productions aimed at entertaining?
Begg cites Puritan pastor John Owen who wrote, “If the Word does not dwell with power in us, it will not pass with power from us” (The Works of John Owen, vol. 16, page 76). Begg says, “…what gave John Owen success in ministry was not so much his oratory skill, nor his evangelistic zeal, nor even his love for the people he shepherded. John Owen was used mightily by God in all these ways because he was a man characterized by personal holiness.” He writes,
…Rather than devoting much time to developing innovative amusements for the worship hour, Owen made private communion with God a top priority…The Word of God is the means employed by the Holy Spirit to transform us into the image of Christ, so if preaching and evangelism are to be effective, private communion with God in His Word must be more important than discovering the latest ministry technique.
Begg’s excellent article challenged me, as a teacher, to ask myself, How do I prepare for the upcoming Sunday school hour?
- Do I prioritize private communion with God over and above time spent developing innovative amusements for the Sunday school hour?
- Do I meditate on the Word of God as the means the Holy Spirit employs to transform me into the image of Christ?
It is only through God’s transforming work that our teaching will flow out of personal holiness. And such is the teaching that will penetrate the hearts of young sinners in need of grace; something no ministry technique can ever do.
It is the power of God’s Word, not a popular curriculum or new-fangled teaching approach, that will change the hearts of your students. What might God be pleased to do this coming year if we were to recover the priority of personal holiness in our ministry to children and youth?
Just when you thought it couldn't get worse -- Jeff Walton reports on the church of what's happening now
Roger Kiska provides an update on the effects of pro-life, pro-family policy in European countries.
You may remember Sarah Kuteh, a nurse who was dismissed from her job after talking to patients about her Christian faith and giving a Bible to one patient.
After dismissing her, Darent Valley Hospital reported Sarah to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), questioning her 'fitness to practise'.
“It’s 1am, and I’m painting my hallway skirting boards.”
This self aware thought was on repeat in my head as my hands cut a clean line of white paint at far too late an hour. You probably don’t paint that late at night. And normally, neither do I, but it was a relentlessly busy season, and I was convinced that this was the best and only time to do it. I wasn’t happy to be that busy, of course — to have just bought a home which was built only a decade or two after the Civil War ended, to be refurbishing it, to have a baby that refused to sleep, and to have a demanding church job. In fact, I was downright angry.
I’d fallen into the busy trap. See, I’m an achiever. Some might say an overachiever. In my immature achieverliness, I didn’t stop. Ever. Stopping was a missed opportunity for accomplishment. “Rest is for the weak and the dead,” I would say. When your heart is postured that way, your hands won’t stop finding things to do. Things like painting your skirting boards at 1am. That’s the busy trap… the self-defeating spiral of non-stop action that feeds on the belief that restfulness is weakness.
But, rest is not weakness. Rest is an irreducible ingredient for the life that enjoys God.Refusal to Rest Robs God
Have you ever stopped to wonder why, exactly, God would get so upset when Israel forgot to practice the sabbath? In Ezekiel 20, the prophet is going after Israel for this very thing. But why? Simply put, by forgetting to stop we forget God. Restlessness — the refusal to lay down our work so we can open our arms to God — means that our busy hands are always full. This robs God of his glory — his weighty significance in our lives. Holy time given to a holy God makes us wholly aware that we are not gods — we neither create nor save ourselves. God does. If we won’t stop to experience the glory of God in rest, we’ll soon forget the glorious God of rest.Refusal to Rest Reveals Idols
Forgetting God has deadly side effects. If we won’t worship God in rest than our work will soon metastasize into the worship of some idol — self importance, control, money, the list goes on. That’s exactly what Israel had done. By working without sabbath rest the work of their hands became the idols of their hearts. Tell me, if you imagine a regular day of rest, how does that panic you? Your fear of stopping might reveal what you’re really worshipping. For, anxiety is the emotion of unbelief.
You’re made for work that terminates in the exhale of rest based on God’s “it is done.”Refusal to Rest Reaps Ruin
One doesn’t actually need the Bible to see the effects of ceaseless labor. Oh sure, you may achieve some good goals. You’ll have money, career success, and your course may even chart ever upward, for a while. But, at what cost? Sleeplessness, anxiety, overwork, dissolved relationships, distant children. We work without rest to arrive at some future rest without work. But, that’s a bad deal on both sides. Humans weren’t made to work without rest. But, say you do this. Say you burn the midnight oil, the candle on both ends, and the candelabra too… then what? You arrive at your retirement — a rest with no work. And slowly you begin to realize that, too, is a nightmare. Humans weren’t made for that, either.Repenting of Restlessness Is Possible
If it is true that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him — and it is true — then what a sad irony to find so many of us Christians who refuse to pause long enough to enjoy him. Sure, you can love God in your work, and you should! But the God and Father of Jesus Christ is not the false god of Pharaoh. Only false gods — like Pharaoh’s pantheon … like financial independence … like control — demand ceaseless work to gain entry into their paltry heavens. The true God has actually done all the work necessary to invite us to rest in him. You can actually learn the art of rest if you’ll repent of your restlessness.
Your fear of stopping might reveal what you’re really worshipping
I’d love to tell you that I had a eureka moment that night — that I put down my paintbrush, rushed downstairs, shook off my silliness, and went to sleep having learned my lesson. But, my story had a darker few chapters still to go. Pages filled with more work, more church, more doing … and less and less God. Then, I hit a hard depression. I achieved the end of my will to achieve, and it almost killed me.
So, please believe me when I say, for the glory of God, rest.
You’re made for work, that is true. But, it’s not the whole truth. You’re made for work that terminates in the exhale of rest not based on the completion of your to-do list but on God’s “it is done.” If we’ll learn the art of rest together, then perhaps our lives will be peaceful enough to enjoy God and beckon others to enjoy him, too.
Adam Mabry's book, The Art of Rest is available to buy now.
This article first appeared on Desiring God.