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 220 posts from the category 'Christian Resources.'
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The government is facing mounting pressure to extend or even scrap the current consultation on the Gender Recognition Act, which sets out its aims to make changing gender easier.
The consultation closes at 11pm on Friday 19th October.
What if you were to ask your teen the following questions:
- What does the Bible have to say about using Facebook?
- Are you honoring Jesus as you participate in sports?
- Do you have a biblical view of doing your homework?
- Are you wise in the friends you choose?
- Why are the answers to these questions important for your life?
What kind of answers might you get in response? Would your teen be able to explain his or her answers using specific verses and biblical truths? What might the answers reveal about his or her heart?
As these questions suggest, our young people do need a thorough knowledge of the Bible to navigate the many arenas of life. But these questions also reveal the need to go beyond head knowledge, says author and biblical counselor Paul David Tripp.
What a teenager needs, if he is going to live a God-honoring life, is a thorough knowledge of Scripture that allows him to apply its commands, principles, and perspectives to the many different situations that arise in everyday life. He needs to be more than a person who has acquired biblical knowledge; he needs to be a person who is able to approach life with biblical wisdom.
I am convinced that many teenagers are unprepared for the spiritual struggle because they have never been taught to think biblically. They have been in Sunday school, so they know all the familiar Bible stories and they have memorized all of the favorite Bible passages, but these are not much more than isolated, unconnected biblical factoids to them. They haven’t been woven into a consistent, distinctively biblical view of life. The Bible isn’t a way of thinking to these teenagers. It is a book of moralistic stories, a book of dos and don’ts. The result is that, although they have lots of biblical knowledge, they have little biblical wisdom. They do not have a functional, useful, biblical view of life that would keep them from living foolishly.
We must disciple our children to think biblically, to interpret all the facts of life from a biblical perspective. We must teach them to always ask how the Bible can help them to understand whatever they are considering. (Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens, 121.)
This is no simple endeavor. Imparting biblical wisdom requires a serious, well-thought-out, intentional, long-term plan that involves both formal biblical instruction as well as relational discipleship. At Truth78, we have taken great care to write all our resources in a manner that serves to foster both. We designed Your Word Is Truth – A Study for Youth on Seeing All of Life Through the Truth of Scripture to help lead teens in developing wisdom.
My brother and I had a childhood ritual of asking one another’s forgiveness for a laundry list of vague sins from our beds each night. I would lie there after the lights were out, look across the hall to his own open door, and let my voice carry my contrition to his sleepy hearing. Having been warned not to let the sun go down on our anger, we made sure to cover all possibilities of sins we may have committed during the day. “Aaron, I’m sorry for yelling at you, hitting you, being selfish with the Nintendo, and tattling on you today. Will you forgive me?” His answer, along with his confession of the typical older-sibling sins counter to my own (pestering, bossing, manipulating) came back to my room in return. Thus we slept in the peace of the slightly remorseful.
When I read Psalm 51 (written by David after his sin with Bathsheba), I realize how lacking my childhood confessions were. Actually, even many of my confessions in adulthood leave much to be desired.
Often we treat repentance as a statement—an “I’m sorry, please forgive me” that checks a box and (hopefully) alleviates our guilt. But if we look closely at Psalm 51 we see that repentance is a turning away from sin and a turning toward God—a process that doesn’t merely alleviate guilt but cultivates deep joy.
And that’s not the only pay-off. I wrote my book, Real: the surprising secret to deeper relationships, to I show that repenting and receiving forgiveness from God leads to real relationships with others, because it leaves us with nothing left to hide.
So how do we grow in a joy-giving habit of repentance? Here’s how.Rule 1. Define the sin.
The first step to meaningful confession is understanding what sin is. David uses three different words for it in Psalm 51: “Iniquity,” “sin,” and “transgressions” (v 1-3). Each term has been deliberately chosen for its unique meaning in Hebrew. “Transgressions” implies a rebellion against God’s authority and law, “Iniquity” means a distortion of what should be and “Sin” is a missing of the mark. David is making it clear that his sin is deep—there is no minimizing or excusing it.Rule 2. Appeal to God’s mercy
“Have mercy on my, O God, according to your unfailing love” (v 1). Here, David appeals for forgiveness based on what he knows about God’s character: that God is merciful. David knows that God is committed to him in a relationship (or covenant) of “unfailing love”—and when we come before God in repentance, we do so on the basis of his covenant with us through Christ.Rule 3. Avoid defensiveness and see God rightly
David’s sin hurt multiple people. He committed adultery, orchestrated a murder, and tried to cover it all up. And yet he says to God that “against you, you only, have I sinned” (v 4). How can that be?
Well, if we think of sin as failing to hit the mark, then we have to ask, “Whose mark are we missing?” The answer, of course, is that it’s God’s mark. So although our sin does hurt others, and repenting to those people is important, sin is ultimately against God, since it’s his ways that we have failed to live up to, and his image-bearers whom we hurt.Rule 4. Look to Jesus
David’s reference to hyssop in verse 7 is not accidental—”Cleanse me with hyssop, and I shall be clean”. He knows hyssop signifies purification (see Exodus 24) with blood, and he knows that blood alone can make him whiter than snow. What he doesn’t know is how this will be done fully.
But we do. Instead of relying on an animal sacrifice, we look to Jesus, who “has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9 v 26). His blood is enough to make us “whiter than snow” (Psalm 51 v 7).Rule 5. Ask God to break you and heal you
David prays, “Let the bones you have crushed rejoice” (v 8). When God reveals our sin to us, it’s painful. David was already a sin-broken man; he just didn’t fully realize it until God sent the prophet Nathan to show him his sin and break him all the way. Like a doctor resetting a fractured bone, it is God who breaks, God who sets, and God who heals.
And this is all mercy: 19th-century British pastor Charles Spurgeon wrote that seeing our weakness, and experiencing God’s power to save, teaches us “a heart-music which only broken bones [can] learn …”Rule 6. Be comforted by the Spirit
Next David prays, “Do not … take your Holy Spirit from me” (v 11). But the very fact that David is grieved over his sin is a sign that God’s Spirit is at work in him. This is true for you as well. Have you ever been so discouraged by your sin that you’ve wondered, “How can God love me? Surely I’m not really a Christian.” Take comfort in knowing that the very grief you’re experiencing is a sign that you have the Spirit of God working in you, causing you to hate what God hates.Rule 7. Rejoice and proclaim truth
In verses 12-15, David is asking God to make him so joyful about his salvation that he can’t help but teach other sinners the forgiving ways of God—”Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise”. This is important, because so often we do the opposite—we’re inclined to wallow in our sin and draw back from serving others, whether in church or in our communities, because we think we’re unworthy. But here David says the joy of forgiveness for sin should compel us to speak of that good news with friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors.Rule 8. Resolve to obey
We can check all the boxes, do all the steps above, and say all the right words, but if in the back of our minds we’re planning to sin in the same way again, then grace isn’t truly taking root. What God desires is the mark of true repentance—a heart that is “broken” by sin and truly “contrite”.
As Puritan pastor and writer Thomas Watson wrote, “Till sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet” (The Doctrine of Repentance, p 63). If we come to God with a heart like that, he “will not despise” it; he will accept it, and accept us, because of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf (v 17).Time to respond
What sins are weighing on your heart? What guilt have you been trying to cover with distraction? Or are you submerging yourself under the weight of it as a form of penance, rather than taking your sin to the cross, where it’s already been paid for?
Take some time now to work through the steps above, and rejoice in the incomparable grace offered to you in Christ!
In Real: The Surprising Secret to Deeper Relationships, Catherine Parks shows us that the secret to growing the relationships we crave is in developing a biblical habit of repentance. By being honest about our sin before God and receiving his forgiveness, we're freed be honest about our sin with others. Buy the book today.
Statement from the Church and Society Commission of the Church of Ireland, on the Referendum to remove the reference to blasphemy in the Irish Constitution
“Our slogan ‘The Episcopal Church Welcomes You’ is not enough; we need to learn to seek and invite.”
Tim Dieppe, head of public policy at Christian Concern, discusses the government’s response to Baroness Cox’s question to the House of Lords about helping victims of sex-grooming, such as in the case of ‘Sarah’, who is currently being supported by the Christian Legal Centre. He argues that the government is in denial about the Islamic connection to sex-grooming gangs and says it has a long way to go before it really addresses the issue.
When Mike and Deb Watters first started teaching My Purpose Will Stand, a study on the sovereignty of God, to their church’s sixth grade class, they were excited to explore big truths with the kids. What they didn’t realize was that God was also teaching them, preparing them for the storms that were ahead of them as a family.
In this interview about their experience, Mike says,
We learned in a new way, and had confirmed what we had been teaching through the curriculum for the past five years, that God has a plan, that He is not surprised, that He is active, that he is continuing to work out His purposes for His glory and that all things will work for His glory. We learned that in a much different way than simply teaching a curriculum. We saw that up close in the front row.
In a day when so much of God’s Word is being watered down and outright rejected, the Watterses’ story shows how God’s big biblical truths prepare all believers, young and old, to stand strong in faith amidst profound suffering.
Have you been strengthened through teaching one of the Truth78 curricula or devotionals? We’d love to hear your story in the comments section, or through email at email@example.com.
Recently, we caught up with the creator of the PrayerMate app, Andy Geers. We talked about prayer, how he’s working to help others pray more and better, and—since we just released 5 Things to Pray for Your City—to ask what he’s currently praying for the big city he calls home.
Q: Why do you think we find it so hard to pray?
A: There are lots of reasons why we find it hard to pray, but I think they all boil down to this: we don’t believe we need to pray. Prayer is the natural outworking of a faith that utterly depends on God for everything - and yet our sinful hearts constantly drift towards self-reliance. We forget that it is God alone who “gives everyone life and breath and everything else” (Acts 17:25). We forget that it is God alone “who justifies the ungodly” (Romans 5:5). Without his sustaining us moment by moment we would simply cease to exist, and the gospel tells us that we could never earn our own salvation.
Sometimes we also don’t believe it’s worth praying—why would God listen to my prayers? And even if God hears, can he really do anything about it? But I think these questions are really related to the main issue—we are relying on ourselves. God is the almighty Father who loves to hear and answer the feeble prayers of his beloved children. And we give ourselves too much credit if we think we managed to get to where we are now without God’s miraculous intervention at every step along the way—so he can certainly intervene again.
If our hearts truly grasped all this, the question would be “why would we NOT pray?”
Q: What is PrayerMate and how can it help?
A: PrayerMate is a free mobile app to help us be consistent in praying for ourselves, for our loved ones and for God’s world. Over time you build up a set of digital prayer lists—“My walk with God”, “My family”, “World mission”, and so on. Then every time you use PrayerMate it selects a few items from across your lists to pray for, so that over time you can make sure you pray for everything but without ever being overwhelmed. You can also draw in content from various feeds to pray for things like the persecuted church around the world, student ministry, individual missionaries you support or your church small group—or books like 5 Things to Pray for Your City.”
Editor’s note: The Good Book Company has teamed up with PrayerMate to offer a free digital download of 5 Things to Pray for your City to everyone who buys a print copy.
Of course, a simple app can’t change our hearts and cause us to stop depending on ourselves—but PrayerMate can provide a valuable structure to help us be people of our word when we say “I’ll pray for you!”, and to help broaden our horizons a little rather than getting stuck praying the same things day in day out. It’s similar to why books like 5 Things to Pray for Your City can be so valuable—because they help you get specific and pray in the nitty gritty rather than just staying at the same high level request.
Q: As a resident of London, what do you want to be praying for your city?
A: One of the things I love about living in London is how you have the whole world on your doorstep—which creates an amazing opportunity for the gospel to reach the nations without even having to go anywhere. So I want to be praying that churches here in this city have a big vision for making the most of that opportunity, and seeking to share the wonderful gospel of Jesus with anybody and everybody. I also want to pray that this open door for the gospel continues for many years to come—that the city remains open to the Christian message and remains somewhere where people feel welcome to come and where they’re going to be respected and not feared.
Andy Geers is a Londoner, a Christian software developer and the brains behind the PrayerMate app. PrayerMate is available for iOS and Android. It’s free to download in the App Store and in the Google Play store. To find out more, visit prayermate.org.
The book he mentions, 5 Things to Pray for Your City by Pete Nicholas and Helen Thorne, has been developed in partnership with London City Mission and Redeemer City to City. Whatever your urban context, use it to fuel powerful Biblical prayers for your city. It's available to buy now.
It was a dark and stormy night…
That’s how many classic ghost stories begin. But what if your child is scared of the dark, and worried about what a stormy halloween night may bring? Here are some thoughts on how we can use their questions to point them to the wonderful truth about Christ.
“Freddie told me he saw a ghost last night. Is that true, Dad? Are ghosts real?”
Someone who has died cannot come back to haunt this world as a ghost. There are a few stories in the Bible about people being brought back to life, but it is always through God’s amazing power since he is the source of all life. So in Luke 8, we read about a 12-year-old girl who was very ill. While her father, Jairus, was begging Jesus to come and heal her, the girl died. But she didn’t stay dead! Jesus brought her back to life a few hours later. He was able to do that as easily as waking her up, because he is the Son of God. In every example in the Bible of someone dying and then coming back to life, it is God’s power that restores them and it is God who is given the glory. That’s very different from the stories people like to tell about ghosts. Those made-up stories are designed to make us scared. But the true stories about Jesus will make us happy instead. And if we have Jesus as our friend, we have no need to be scared.
“Amy said that witches fly in your windows on halloween night. I’m scared!”
It’s true that there are people today who choose to live as witches and worship dark forces. They have turned away from God. But they can’t fly on broomsticks or zoom in through bedroom windows! And we don’t need to be scared of them. God understands when we find things frightening. In fact, the Bible tells us 366 times not to be afraid. That’s one for every day of the year, plus one extra for a particularly scary day! So any time we feel frightened, we can talk to God about it. We can thank him that he is far more powerful than anything that scares us. And we can ask him to help us trust him if we’re afraid.
“Pete told me that the devil comes out on halloween and that he hides in the dark waiting to catch people.”
Our world is full of things we can touch and see, taste and hear. So we know those things are real. But the Bible tells us that the spiritual world is real too, even though we can’t see it. So the devil is real, and so are evil spirits. But when we read about evil spirits in the Gospels, one thing is always true. They have no power over Jesus. Instead, they have to do what he says, and go where he tells them, even into a herd of pigs! (Mark 5 v 1-15)
Many people are afraid of the dark. It’s because we can’t see what may be there. But the Bible describes Jesus as “light”! (John 8 v 12) And when you switch on a light, even the darkest room stops being dark. The darkness is wiped out by the light. If your child is scared on halloween night, putting a light on in their room may help. Not only will it help them see there’s nothing there to be scared of, but it will also remind them that Jesus is “the light of the world”. He is much stronger than the devil. He is far more powerful than any evil spirit. We can trust him when we’re feeling scared.
“Jenny believes in witches and zombies. So why doesn’t she believe in God?”
Halloween can be a wonderful opportunity to talk about what we believe and why. It is a time of year when many people, adults as well as children, will say they believe in things they can’t see, such as zombies or ghosts. Jesus once told his friends that, if they wanted to know what God the Father is like, they just have to look at Jesus. (John 14 v 9) So one way to help our friends believe in God is to show them Jesus.
And at halloween, one way to do that would be to read them a “real ghost story” from the Gospels. For example, the story of Jesus walking on water in Matthew 14 v 22-33, or when he appeared to his friends after he had died, and ate some food to prove to them that he wasn’t a ghost (Luke 24 v 36-43). In both of these stories, Jesus' friends first thought he was a ghost because he was doing things they knew no one could do - he walked on water, he appeared in a room even though the door was locked. Jesus could do many other things that no one else could do - he could heal people who were ill just by touching them; he could stop storms just by speaking to them; he could even bring people back to life. And the only reason he could do all these is that Jesus himself is God.
And that’s something wonderful to celebrate this halloween! The Ghost That Wasn't a Ghost is a children's story leaflet retelling Jesus walking on the water, particularly suitable for handing out at Halloween.
For more answers for common questions from children have a look at this PDF about answering children's questions.
Statement by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church concerning the encroachment of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on the canonical territory of the Russian Church
Sydney Anglican Schools do not expel students for being gay, Archbishop Davies told his diocesan synod
Pastoral Letter from the Bishop of New York asking victims of Bishop Moore to come forward in confidence to share their stories
It's become a follower, not a leader, of British culture, offering flaccid ecumenicism and little more.