A Walk of Good Works: Ephesians 2:8-10

This article touches on how Scripture equates our life with the way we walk. I suppose this is because how we walk and where we choose to walk tells a lot about us! From Place for Truth……………….

How Creating a Context Vacuum Sucks Us into Overwriting God’s Word

This is a pretty important article because it addresses an important problem that probably occurs frequently in our reading and studying of Scripture; and that is, if we are unaware of the context of a particular, then our minds will supply a context, which may very well be incorrect for that particular portion of Scripture. From Stand to Reason………………………..

https://www.str.org/w/how-creating-a-context-vacuum-sucks-us-into-overwriting-god-s-word

5 Myths about Depression

As widespread and common as depression is, it surprises me to realize that so many people are misinformed about it. This brief article addresses some of the misinformation that is out there. Here is a quote I really liked: “Gandalf, one of my favorite quotable characters who exists only but no less vividly in the minds of readers, said ‘Despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.’6 It is a temptation to think that we do when we do not, and to see an evil end when God has something quite different in mind and in store. Yet, it is a temptation to which most—if not all—of us are vulnerable.” From Crossway.org…………………..

https://www.crossway.org/articles/5-myths-about-depression/

I Was Discipled by….the Church

This is a pretty important article. We have all heard and read how important it is to find a mentor (or even to be a mentor for someone else!). But unfortunately, it is extremely rare for a younger believer to find a true mentor in the faith. But this article brings us the happy news that all of us can be disciples and encouraged by our local church…if we go about it in the right way! From The Gospel Coalition………………..

God Gives Abundant Gifts — Dallas Willard

Pay attention to God’s abundant gifts

It is God’s intention that our lives should be a seamless manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23). He has made abundant provision for His indwelling our lives in the here and now. Appropriate attention to the care of our souls through His empowerment will yield this rich spiritual fruit and deliver us from the sad list of “deeds of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19–21). We can be channels of the grace of the risen Christ, and through our ministerial activities—speaking, praying, healing, administering—He can minister to others. But we must attend to the means of His grace in practical and specific ways to experience His life into and through our lives.

From The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus’s Essential Teachings on Discipleship. Copyright © 2006 by Dallas Willard. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Luther’s Introduction to the Book of Micah

This article provides an introduction to the minor prophet Micah by Martin Luther. From Concordia Publishing Publishing House……………

God is the Most Joyful Being in the Universe — Dallas Willard

God is full of joy

We should, to begin with, think that God leads a very interesting life, and that He is full of joy. Undoubtedly He is the most joyous being in the universe. The abundance of His love and generosity is inseparable from His infinite joy. All of the good and beautiful things from which we occasionally drink tiny droplets of soul-exhilarating joy, God continuously experiences in all their breadth and depth and richness.

From The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God. Copyright © 1997 by Dallas Willard. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Sparkling Gems from the Greek

This time, the emphasis is on a very important verse that is found in the Epistle to the Hebrews, Hebrews 11:6 — “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” From Crosswalk.com……………….

Does Isaiah 65:17 Mean We Won’t Remember Our Previous Lives When We’re in Heaven?

Isaiah 65:17 says, “For behold, kI create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.” But does that mean that we won’t remember anything about our previous lives on earth when we are in heaven? Randy Alcorn takes a stab at an answer here. From Eternal Perspectives Ministries……………..

https://www.epm.org/blog/2020/Nov/20/remember-previous-lives-heaven

GIVE JESUS YOUR WORRIES (AND DON’T TAKE THEM BACK!) 

I know that I should give my worries to Jesus, and I really do try to do that, but I often just wind up reaching back for my worries a few minutes or hours later afterwards! How to stop? This article doesn’t exactly answer that hard question, but it does exhort us to not look to take those worries away from Jesus once they are handed over! From Core Christianity……………..

How Studying the Bible Restores the Soul

This article examines Psalms 19 to demonstrate how reading and meditating on the Word can renew and invigorate our soul and our spirit. This can happen because the Scriptures have the power to shape us inwardly and to direct us outwardly. From Crossway.org…………………….

WHAT THE APOSTLE PAUL TEACHES US ABOUT SUFFERING

Although the Apostle Paul had a special, unique assignment of suffering for the Gospel from Jesus, yet all believers can learn from Paul’s sufferings when we face our own set of sufferings and trials. This article discusses this is some depth. Here is a tidbit: “Paul proclaimed a message of hope in the midst of hopelessness. He knew that God never loses his bearings, no matter how bad things may seem, and that God would not promise what he could not do. And God did as he said, for God sovereignly controls all of life’s storms. He can–and ultimately will–see his people safely through even the worst storms.” From Core Christianity………………

What the Apostle Paul Teaches Us About Suffering

5 Things Joshua and the Promised Land Can Teach Us about God’s Faithfulness

As we know, all of Scripture has been given to us to teach us and provide models of righteousness, as well as to encourage us in our walk with Christ. Many people today might feel inclined to skip the Book of Joshua, but it has some very important things to teach us today. From Crosswalk.com…………………

https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/bible-study/things-joshua-and-the-promised-land-can-teach-us-about-gods-faithfulness.html

What Does It Mean That God Chose Us before the Foundation of the World? (Ephesians 1)

This article does a really good job of providing an overview of Ephesians 1, and especially digging into the important topic of the election — or choosing — of God of those who He will redeem. This is one of the possible ways to read this passage, but I feel there is a lot of merit to it. From Crossway.org………………..

Burn the Ships

Here is a thought-provoking devotional from pastor and author Mark Batterson. Here, he talks about the reason that many people experience failure, or at least settle for something less than what God might have planned for them — because they did not burn their ships. What doess this mean? Read the article!

THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS OF WISDOM

I found this article to be most intriguing and enlightening (as you would expect an article on wisdom to be!). Wisdom is sorely lacking in our world, is rarely found in any of our leaders any longer, and we are hard-pressed sometimes to even see it demonstrated in the church. But with the Holy Spirit still active in the world, there is always hope! From the Lexham Press Blog………………….

Praying the Lord’s Prayer Specifically for a Person or Situation

Here is an article by author and pastor Kevin Halloran, who wrote a new book on prayer titled, When Prayer is a Struggle (which I reviewed and found to be an excellent resource), in which he gives a couple of examples of how to use the Lord’s Prayer in specific examples for other people or situations not our own. From Anchored in Christ………………….

The Emotional Abundance of God

The point that the author of this article makes so beautifully is that God does not just act in our lives as the almighty God of creation, but He is also ever-present to us to uplift and encourage us in our inner thoughts and emotions. This is because our God is a God who is well-acquainted with human feelings and emotions. From Duncan Edward Pile…………………….

I ‘Just’ Do Ordinary Work

The topic and the tenor and this article really resonates with me and the ethos behind this little blog of mine. The title of this site — AverageChristianNet — is about my firm conviction that the Christian and the non-believing world needs to hear more from us “average Christians.” Of course, us non-pastors, non-professorial types make up the vast majority of the Body of Christ….yet, we downplay our own contributions in the workplace, the marketplace, and the Internet. (I will have a lot more to say about this in upcoming original pieces). In the meantime, this article makes some important arguments that none of us do “ordinary” work! From The Gospel Coalition…………..

The Sufficiency of Scripture

This is one of the five famous “solas” of the Reformation — sola scriptura, that Scripture alone is enough to guide us in our salvation and living the Christian life (as opposed to church decrees). This article touches on this important aspect of Christian faith and practice. From Modern Reformation…………………..

https://modernreformation.org/resource-library/web-exclusive-articles/the-mod-the-sufficiency-of-scripture/

Giving Has a Boomerang Effect

Here is another nice article from Randy Alcorn, who wants to remind us that we don’t give to God and the church to get back, but like a good Father, God delights to send little rewards and reminders to us that He is pleased with us when we give without concern for kudos for the sheer joy of it! From Eternal Perspectives Ministries………………

How to Respond When Someone Introduces Your Child to Bad Things

There is a lot of practical and useful advice for parents in this article from biblical counselor Rick Thomas. Here is a tidbit to whet your appetite: “If they [the parents]don’t introduce the world to their child incrementally, the world will present itself to him. The operative word is incremental, as well as appropriately. There is a time to start teaching children about the culture, which begins at birth. Biffy was born in this world, and he needs to know how to navigate it, including all the cliffs, ravines, gorges, and swamps.” From RickThomas.net…………………

https://rickthomas.net/how-to-respond-when-someone-introduces-your-child-to-bad-things/

Is Depression a Sin? No!

Personally, I am a little flummoxed that this is even a serious question these days, but this article addresses anyone with any doubts that depression can and does afflict even the most godly of Christians. From the Mental Health Grace Alliance…………..

3 QUESTIONS ABOUT SELF-CARE

First of all, I do not believe that there is “no such thing as Christian self-care.” But also, there is a whole world of difference between the ways the world practices self-care, and the core beliefs behind how a Christian practices self-care. This article does a commendable job in describing self-care for the believer. From Core Christianity…………….

A Holy Tension: Responding to Failed Expectations in the Already and Not Yet

There are many paradoxes in the Christian life that all believers must learn to hold in tension at the same time; that we are already saved and counted as righteous, but we are not yet fully sanctified. This article does a fine job of describing this fact of the Christian life to our benefit. From Beautiful Christian Life…………….

https://www.beautifulchristianlife.com/blog/a-holy-tension-responding-to-failed-expectations-in-the-already-and-not-yet

Faith to Build Your Life On — Dallas Willard

Faith to Build Your Life On

We don’t have to look very far into our own thinking and living to see the effects of either being sure of God or not being sure of God. I believe that Scripture always presents real faith as something that is based on knowledge as well as something that goes beyond anything you could know, and involves a commitment to God and his kingdom. Those two things, knowledge and commitment, are not exclusive of one another; rather, they are related. If we do not have a knowledge of God at the foundation of our commitment, that commitment simply will not hold up. It will waver; it will not govern our lives. It will be like pulling a chair away from someone in the act of sitting down. We will not be able to hold on to our belief as God intends, by the action of his Spirit on our hearts and our minds. Knowledge and faith are intended to go together.

For example, when you read Hebrews 11, the great chapter on faith, you will see faith equated with a vision of reality. We are told that Moses endured as one who sees the invisible. Faith is not a mere thought that something is true or the hope or resolve to believe it is. As Martin Luther said in the preface to his commentary on Romans: “Faith is a living, well-founded confidence in the grace of God, so perfectly certain that it would die a thousand times rather than surrender its conviction. Such confidence and personal knowledge of divine grace makes its possessor joyful, bold, and full of warm affection toward God and all created things—all of which the Holy Spirit works in faith. Hence, such a man becomes without constraint willing and eager to do good to everyone, to serve everyone, to suffer all manner of ills, in order to please and to glorify God, who has shown toward him such grace. It is thus impossible to separate works from faith—yea, just as impossible as to separate burning and shining from fire.”

So when we contrast faith and sight, we always have to be sure that we qualify it, so that we understand what kind of sight we are talking about. And that kind of sight—the vision of the Self-subsistent Being without which all of the universe as we know it would simply fold up and disappear—that knowledge, that faith, that vision is the rock upon which we can build our lives.

From The Allure of Gentleness: Defending the Faith in the Manner of Jesus. Copyright © 2015 by Dallas Willard. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.  

The Whisper of God

This article is for anyone who may be hurting and in need of encouragement from their heavenly Father, written sensitively by someone who has walked a path of pain and suffering. Here is the takeaway for me: “Whatever your circumstance, however dire, there is a way out. There is always a way with God.” From Duncan Edward Pile………………

What Is God’s Promise to Abraham and Why Is It So Significant?

This article takes a thorough look at a very important topic in both the Old and New Testaments — God’s promise to Abraham (and by extention, to his spiritual seed). Here is a tidbit: “The Abrahamic Covenant is remarkable in its disclosure of how God will move from an otherwise insignificant band of Semitic peoples, to a land in turmoil, to a nation, to a spiritual realization of the covenant that will bring forth the Messiah, and descendants of Abraham that include the entire world.” From Crosswalk.com…………………….

https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/bible-study/why-is-gods-promise-to-abraham-so-significant.html

THREE LEADERSHIP LESSONS FOR ALL OF US (Not Just Pastors)

I believe all believers are tasked with serving Christ by being beacons of light and leading others through our actions. This article fleshes that basic idea out. From Gospel-Centered Discipleship………………….

BOOK REVIEW: FREE TO THRIVE — How Your Hurts, Struggles, and Deepest Longings Can Lead to a Fulfilling Life 

by Josh McDowell and Ben Bennett (Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2021)

The authors, well-known author and apologist Josh McDowell, and pastor and speaker Ben Bennett have joined forces to examine why so many Christians struggle through life rather than thrive as children of God. Due to their own experiences and their years of ministry, they believe most believers are suffering due to unmet needs in their lives.

McDowell and Bennett make the case that God has designed all people with seven basic needs:

  1. Acceptance — to be included and approved of, as you are, no matter what.
  2. Appreciation — the longing to be thanked and encouraged for something we have done.
  3. Affection — the longing to be cared for with touch and genuine emotional engagement.
  4. Access — the longing to have the consistent emotional and physical presence of key persons.
  5. Attention — the longing to be known and understood by someone who enters into your world.
  6. Affirmation of feelings — the longing to have our feelings validated and confirmed by others.
  7. Assurance of safety — we need to feel protected and provided for emotionally, physically, and financially.

The authors contend that hurting Christians with unfulfilled longings suffer because they try to satisfy those longings themselves or with other earthly things or people. But God placed those longings in us so that we might always go to Him with our needs.

McDowell and Bennett are unusually open and honest in sharing their own unmet longings and the adverse effects those had in their personal lives and ministries. Writing as fellow strugglers, they encourage readers to understand that they are not unusual in trying to satisfy their longings without God and give practical steps to begin looking to God for help and comfort. The book concludes with helpful appendices of the Longings Table and websites and books for further ongoing support. I heartily recommend this book.