Best of the Week (Holiday Version)
In Best of the Week we link to a handful of the best articles, videos, books, etc. that we have come across in the last week. We hope this will point you to some of the right places and give you gospel-rich tools and thoughts for life and mission.
This special edition is coming right in the middle of a couple of holiday weeks and will have a few more links than usual. Enjoy!
“Christmas lights — Legend has it that the German Reformer Martin Luther was not only the first person to bring a Christmas tree into the house (not true), he was also the first to decorate it with lights (also probably not true).”
One more as we wrap up Christmas. As with many things, I think Christmas decorations and traditions are what you make of them, but for those who like to know the backstory, these are interesting facts about where some of our most known Christmas traditions came from, or didn’t come from.
“For some of you, it is a stranger that you greet on the way to work but never have over for a relaxed evening of conversation, and seldom invite along to spend significant time with you on vacation. Do not, then, be surprised if you are ill-equipped to read the trajectories of God’s will for your own life.”
This one is VERY good and was VERY challenging to me. I would consider myself one who does prioritize the words of God, specifically through the Bible, and still I was challenged at what I am mostly influenced by and why.
“In the middle of one session, Andy put down the toy truck, held onto a Barbie, and said, ‘Mommy and Daddy, you don’t love me when I’m a boy.’ When Andy was 3, his sister with special needs was born, and required significantly more of his parents’ attention. Andy misperceived this as ‘Mommy and Daddy love girls. If I want them to love me, I have to be a girl.'”
This will not gain much traction with those who advocate the worldly transgender agenda, but it’s pretty simple. It’s so simple many will call it “old-fashioned,” but some things are “old” because they are true and cannot be changed. It was written by the president of the American College of Pediatricians.
“It’s time we examine our hearts and redefine what the story of everyday missions looks like. The message remains the same, but our approach must become more intentionally integrated into the everyday rhythms of our lives.”
This is short and simple, and it gives us three areas to rethink as a kick-start for seeing our ordinary routines as conduits for God’s mission. Putting it short, we are a missionary people. It’s not whether we are or not, but what it looks like to make it a part of life.
“Ministry is glorious, but it’s not glamorous. Like farming, most of our work goes unseen; it demands attention and endurance. And at the end of the day, we’re desperate for God to give the growth (1 Cor. 3:7).”
This is a good insight “behind the curtain” of ministry and church planting as a vocation, but it also applies to every one of you who are involved in ministry or helping to plant a church. The work is long, usually slow and difficult, and the fruit takes time to grow. And it is God, and only God, who produces the growth.
“Why would they step in to stop this behavior? Is it because they’re hateful and arrogant? Is it because they’re judgmental people who need to mind their own business? Are they controlling people who want everyone to act like them? No. True friends stop their friends because driving drunk can be destructive and life-ending. A friend who truly cares will do what they can to stop this from happening.”
This gets to the true heart of discipleship, “pastoring” each other with the grace AND truth of the gospel. It’s a hard balance to strike, but we must strive for it, even though we will fall too far in either direction at times. Our lives and souls are at stake.
“More than merely dealing with measures on an income statement, sales report, or balance sheet, a pastor deals in the arena of “sin” and wrestles continually with the implications of a fallen and broken world.”
It would be impossible to encapsulate the weight of being a pastor into an article or even a series of them. I’m not going to say it’s harder or easier than any other profession or leadership role. It’s just different…way different! But if you want a quick glimpse into what it’s like, this is a good start.
This is a 12-minutes video unpacking one of the foundational passages on giving in the Bible. It is powerful and very insightful, both on the joy of giving and on studying this passage. It was challenging and motivating to me, and I’d encourage you to watch.