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MLB Commissioner Never Has, Never Will Send an Email
Sigh! That’s almost worth becoming important for.

6 Pillars of a Christian View of Suffering
Don Carson gives six principles to learn so that when the evil days come we will “be best positioned to face the complexities of suffering with stability, humility, compassion, and joy.”

Raising Black Boys
Thabiti takes issue with some of Toure’s advice to black parents in the way of the Trayvon Martin shooting and the George Zimmerman trial.

For The Guy With The “Smokin’ Hot Wife”
Kim Shay finds some old wisdom for modern times in Richard Baxter’s “The Godly Home.”

How To Tell If Your Grace Is Weak Or Counterfeit
And Mike Leake turns to William Bridge to help trembling souls answer this vital question.

Seven Steps to Teaching Your Kids That God Is Not Just For Sundays
“Someone recently asked me how do I integrate godly thinking into the “everyday” of my children’s lives…”

“All Things for Good.” Suffering too?

All things for good? What about disease? What about bereavement? What about injustice? We must not deny nor downplay the agony of these experiences. We shouldn’t expect even the strongest of believers to just brush off these kinds of burdens as if they were feathers. Even Jesus wept over lost cities and dead friends.

If we take just physical suffering for example, there’s no question that it’s much easier to maintain strong faith when our bodies are fit, healthy, and functioning well. Indeed, one of the quickest ways to weaken faith is to abuse the bodies God has given us through overdoing work or underdoing sleep, exercise, and good food.

Three Pills
God has so made us that the body and soul are mysteriously tied together, dependent on one another, and to some degree each determining the health of the other. Many of the depressed people I’ve counseled have ended there through overwork, under-sleeping, and failing to exercise and eat well. A Christian psychologist friend of mine told me once that he always prescribes three pills as a vital part of his treatment plan for depressed patients: good food, good diet, and good sleep!

I know myself that when I’m not sleeping enough, or when I’m not getting daily exercise, that negative thought patterns quickly set in and I start spiraling downwards. My weary body drags down my mind and soul. But a few good nights’ sleep and regular exercise will usually turn me around again so that I can live with a more positive and God-glorifying faith.

Sick Bodies
But what if health is no longer an option? What if our body is sick, diseased, disabled, and even dying? That will happen to most of us eventually, even to those of us who have cared most for our bodies. God is able to work even the worst of suffering together for our good (Rom. 8:28).

He does this by helping us to find a redemptive perspective, which, Donald Miller explains, is really about creating two lists rather than one.

Normally when something hard happens we start a running mental list of all the negative consequences. And that’s fine and normal. Finding a redemptive perspective, however, is about creating a second list, a list of the benefits of a given tragedy. And there are always benefits.

The “Benefits” of Suffering
Why not go back through the yesterday’s list of “benefits” from the conviction of sin and calculate which of these fruits that suffering has produced in your life. Just like sin, suffering humbles us, sensitizes us, silences us, draws us, makes us dependent, increases carefulness, fans hatred for sin, motivates us to oppose the devil, drives us to the Bible and our knees, stimulates love for the Christ who suffered for us, provokes thankfulness for the good days and for the good God draws out of the bad days, makes us better comforters and encouragers, and above all, makes us long for heaven.

As the Apostle said, “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 1:18). But we don’t need to wait until heaven to see and enjoy the fruit of suffering. Though “no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:11).

Beautiful Balance
That’s a beautiful balance, isn’t it. The Apostles do not downplay sin or suffering; they feel both deeply and painfully. However neither do they view them apart from the sovereign power and wisdom of God who is able to make the most and the best of our least and our worst.

The suffering Apostle Paul put it this way: “As dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yetnot killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (2 Cor. 6:9-10). Both sides together at the same time. Sorrowful and rejoicing. Mourning and being comforted.

This is what distinguishes faith from mere optimism and enables faith to trump optimism. We confront the brutal agony of our lives, our families, our churches, and our society. But, at the same time, we also keep steady faith in the Word of God, especially its sure promises of personal perseverance and the ultimate triumph of faith and of the Church of Christ. Optimism is not faith; but faith is optimistic.

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Should We Move On?
Trip Lee brings home the continuing painful reality of daily life as a young black man: “If you’ve never been on the receiving end of racism, sympathize with those who have. Learn about their experiences. You can’t love someone if you ignore or belittle their concerns. Please never assume that people are just complaining and playing the “race card.”  Seek to understand them, and respect the fact that some of us live in different realities and have to endure different trials.”

Race Relations: Four Things You Can Do To Help
Kevin DeYoung: (1) Don’t bail; (2) Be quick to listen; (3) Enjoy friendships across racial lines; (4) Examine your heart.

My Lightning Strike
Tom Ascol and his daughter reflect on the lightning strike that changed their lives 5 years ago. If you read only one link today, please read Tom’s daughter’s reflection, If you hadn;t been struck by lightning…

Using the Heidelberg Catechism with Your Family
7 reminders and suggestions from Erik Raymond.

Preaching the Gospel in a Hostile Culture
Dave Furman is pastor of Redeemer Church of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Bryan Chapell on Christ-centered Preaching
“The alternative to trying to make every biblical text mention Jesus is identifying the redemptive context of each text; i.e., where and how does this text function in the unfolding revelation of God’s redemptive nature and plan.”

“All things for good.” Sin too?

All sin is evil. No sin is worth it. It’s always better that we not sin. However, sin is also part of the “all things” that God works together for the good of His people (Rom. 8:28). Consider 12 “goods” that can result from sin that is repented of and forgiven.

1. We are humbled: When we fall into sin we realize our pathetic weakness and vulnerability. We are not as strong and impregnable as we thought we were.

2. We are sensitized: We often fall into sin when we are spiritually hard and cold, but when we are humbled and broken by the Holy Spirit, our spiritual senses are revived and re-stimulated, making us tender and sensitive again to God’s Word and Spirit.

3. We are silenced: We so easily get arrogant, self-confident, and full of ourselves, with an opinion on everyone and everything. But when we are convicted of our sin, we talk less favorably of ourselves and less judgmentally of others.

4. We are drawn nearer: Having wandered slowly and imperceptibly away from the Lord, we are now shocked to see how far we have travelled, how distant we have become. We find ourselves longing for the nearer presence of the Lord again as He begins to woo us back to Himself.

5. We are dependent: Sin is usually the result of relying on our own strength and wisdom and failing to pray, “Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.” When we are convicted by God’s Spirit, we learn to depend on the Lord like a little baby on her mother. Looking away from ourselves, we do nothing without seeking God’s help and blessing.

6. We are careful: Often our sin comes about when we have been spiritually careless. We’ve played with temptation. We’ve walked too close to the edge, then fallen over. Now, our scars and memories make us much more cautious about letting even the first thought of sin to lodge in our minds and hearts. We run away from the edge of the cliff.

7. We hate sin: When we see the evil of sin and the misery it produces, we no longer view it as harmless or humorous. We hate it with a passion and want to kill it at the roots.

8. We fight the devil: Looking back on our sin, we see the role that the devil played. He was well-disguised, for sure, but now we seem Him unmasked in all his hideous ugliness. We resolve to go to war with him, and never again to let him seduce us.

9. We are disciplined: When we re-trace our steps, we realize that we had become irregular and half-hearted in our Bible reading, prayer, family worship, and church attendance. We now realize how much we need to use these God-given means to keep us on the right track and become much more regular and disciplined in our daily and weekly use of these resources

10. We love Christ: Whether or however we loved Jesus before, we love Him all the more now. He who has been forgiven much, the same loves much. We are even more thankful for Christ’s atoning work and gracious salvation. We love His cross, we love His mercy, we love His love.

11. We are helpful: Having experienced the power of the Gospel to forgive and restore, we are better able to draw alongside others and humbly apply the Gospel to their sinful failings and faults.

12. We long for heaven: Oh to be free from sin, to never want to sin, to be with and like Jesus!

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4). The mourning is essential, but it’s not the end, it’s not the destination. Comfort is. And part of that comfort is seeing how God can bring spiritual good from even our worst sins.

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The Central Tragedy of This Case
A fine article from Dr. Mohler on the Trayvon Martin killing.

The Puritans: John Owen
Tim Challies has started a series of potted biographies of the Puritans. Definitely “a gap in the market” for this.

The Six Types of Atheists
“Two researchers at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga found that atheists and agnostics run the range from vocally anti-religious activists to nonbelievers who nonetheless observe some religious traditions.”

How Jonathan Edwards Wrecked My Soul
“Awe of God has been replaced by activity for God. I’m worn out and my joy in the Lord has faded. Activity for God, and even pursuing knowledge of Him, is not the same as savoring and treasuring Him.”

God has a prayer book – are you using it?
“Wouldn’t it be nice to have the definitive book on prayer, one that included both forms of prayers and words to pray, one that could be used in any season of life?” Actually, that sounds like the Psalms.

Checklists for Effective Meetings
Yes, please!

Children’s Daily Bible Reading Plan

This week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

This week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

If you want to start at the beginning, this is the first year of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

And here’s the second year of morning and evening readings in Word and pdf.

And here’s the first 12 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

Here’s an explanation of the plan.

And here are the daily Bible Studies gathered into individual Bible books. Further explanation of that here.

Old Testament

New Testament