Wednesday, May 28, 2014

online meanderings

Sexual desire and the single girl - We don't have enough writing and conversation on this topic. A helpful post.

8 ways to comfort the suffering - Beginning with "Show up!".

Missionary died thinking he was a failure; 84 years later thriving churches found hidden in the jungle - Encouragement for when we can't see results.

Don't hide the strangeness of the gospel; embrace it with clarity - Just like Jesus did.

Delicate tastes - "I've come to suspect the gluttony of nice things, or daintiness, lurking in our increasing appreciation for finer cultural goods."

Is looking back to past relationships a good idea? - Here's wisdom.

Same sex attracted? Well, quit whinging - Sounds harsh, but this is actually a helpful read for all of us.

for parents:
When parents don't want to go to church - A great little article that reminds us: our example counts.

Three things teenage daughters wish their fathers knew - The helpful results of an unscientific and very small survey.

Cyber-parenting on Minecraft - A good beginning.
One thing I have learned over the course of our church’s afflictions is that when a saint’s body gives way, their spirit builds up. They get smaller, and God gets bigger, as if their passing is itself a foretaste of the day Christ will put all things in subjection under his feet. And we are not annihilated on that day but redeemed, resurrected, restored. When we die, we get smaller and God gets bigger, that he might be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28). Jared Wilson

If anyone is serious about writing (or art in general) it’s important to get beyond what we usually like to call “inspiration.” In fact, that’s the wrong word. That first swell of love we have for a potential work isn’t inspiration, it’s infatuation. And just like in human relationships, once the infatuation fades, the real work of love begins. And it’s in the context of that real work—that work in which you may seem at times to fall out of love with the object of your labor—it’s in that work that real inspiration takes place. And it’s out of that hard labor that a work of art is finally hewn. - Pete Peterson

To see more links and quotes, click here (Facebook) or here (Twitter).       

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

what I'm listening to: Mary, Martha, and Jesus

Have you ever wondered what to make of the story of Mary and Martha?

You can skip the next paragraph if you already know it.

Jesus is at Martha's house. Her sister Mary sits at Jesus' feet, listening to what he has to say. Martha is getting hot and bothered in the kitchen. She marches up to Jesus and says, "Lord, don't you care that I'm doing all the work, while Mary just sits there?" Jesus says, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing matters. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38-42

Huh? So it's okay for me to do all the work while my sister just sits there? Why is it better for her to sit listening, while I do the serving? Who's going to get all this done if I don't???

Maybe, like me, you feel a little sorry for Martha.

In this brilliant talk by Anna Moss,* she explains that busyness vs. sitting still isn't really the issue. It's that Martha has forgotten who the dinner is all about - who life is all about:
Martha is distracted. She's so distracted that she's forgotten that the dinner is all about Jesus.

She's trying to serve Jesus, but her serving has stopped her even seeing him. It's stopped her relating to him. It's stopped her listening to him.

He's right there in her living room, and she's not seeing him. She's not hearing him.

Instead of being amazed that Jesus, the holy one of God, has come into her home to share a meal with her, she's worried and distracted by sandwiches and dip.
Doesn't that sound familiar? We can be so busy serving Jesus, that we don't even stop to see him:
Maybe you can relate to Martha. You slog away at church, faithfully and consistently, trying to serve, and it just seems that no one notices, or even acknowledges what you're doing. You start feeling resentful, maybe even a bit self-righteous: "I'm the one who's regular and reliable. I'm the one who turns up when others pull out."

Or maybe you persist in your marriage even though it's tough. You work hard with your parents and children. But it feels thankless. You feel unappreciated and overlooked: "Maybe God doesn't care I'm doing all this." Your serving can end up damaging and breaking relationships, rather than blessing and building them.

We end up distracted from Jesus when we try to do it all ourselves.

Have you become distracted? Have you stopped coming to Jesus as the empty, broken person that you are, in daily need of his help and his grace in your life? Have you stopped seeing him as your treasure? As the one that you just can't do without?
It all becomes about me - my schedule, my strength, my achievements - rather than about Jesus:
Sometimes we want to fit Jesus in with our schedule, into where we're comfortable, and into our need to feel competent and in control.

We had our third child last year, and recently I went back to work at my church. I wanted to go back feeling strong and competent, on top of things, and in control. I wanted people to say, "Wow! How do you do it all?". I wanted to serve God from a position of strength; but instead, I felt weak and vulnerable. I didn't want to feel that way.

But let me say this: there is no other way to serve him. He doesn't want us bustling around, self-reliant and self-absorbed. He doesn't want us to give on our terms, in ways that make us look good and feel in control.

When it comes to Jesus, we can't rely on the things we've achieved. We can't rely on our qualifications, or how well our kids are going. We need to respond to him on his terms, not our own. We don't have anything to offer him. We come to him with empty hands.
We don't like to feel needy. But Jesus wants us to receive from him:
It's easy to give people things we want to give them. We want to give Jesus our competency. We want to give him our agenda. We want to show off our abilities.

But what does Jesus want to receive? How does he want to be served? What really communicates our love for him?

He wants to give to us. He wants to determine what's best for our lives. He wants to redirect our hearts, and for us to treasure him more than any plan we've ever made. He wants us to be needy for him.

But being needy doesn't sit comfortably with us most of the time. Personally, I find it easier to stay busy; easier to keep active, and to feel useful.

It's easier to feel needed and useful than to feel needy and broken. It's easier to serve others with our competence, on our terms, in ways that we feel comfortable, than to admit how desperately messy, needy, and weak we really are.
In the end, the story of Martha and Mary isn't really about whether we're busy or not, but about our attitude to Jesus:
You see, at the heart of this story isn't the question, "Are you too busy?". It's a deeper question about our attitude, not so much a question about our activity.

So on the days that you're flat out and really busy; or when you've got time to sit, rest and read your Bible; what matters is that we depend on Jesus. That we choose his agenda, whatever the day. That we choose to trust him, and rely completely on his grace.

When Jesus comes to their house, who's the host? It's not Martha, is it? It's Jesus. It's always his party, not ours. He wants to give, and he wants us to receive.

Martha wants to give him food; but he's the only one who can give the food that really satisfies, the food that will never be taken away. He wants to give us the good portion, the very best of gifts: eternal life.

He wants to set us free from the treadmill of having to achieve and needing to please. He's come to serve.
Our lives are busy, and sometimes we can't avoid this. But even then we can turn to Jesus and receive from him. I was so encouraged by Anna's story of her friend:
We can choose what is better in the midst of all the things going on in our lives.

One of my closest friends is a single mum with four young kids. As you can imagine, there's a whole lot of running around, and not a whole lot of sitting round for her.

She shared with me recently how hard it is to keep trusting Jesus when things just seem so wrong. She often feels overwhelmed, and she wonders how to keep going.

But she said this: "I have to keep trusting Jesus. I've got no where else to go but to him. I have to trust that he's big enough for this. It can be a fight to trust, but I know that he's in control of my life, that he cares for me, and for my children. I often feel so weak, but I'm in his hands."

Things can feel like they're unravelling, but with Jesus, I can keep going. He wants to serve us. He's big enough to give us what we need.

Where else have we to go, but to the feet of Jesus? Choose what is better. Don't miss the mark. Listen to him, and let him serve you.

* This is from Anna Moss's talk from Equip 2013. I highly recommend these talks. I found them very encouraging.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

a kick in the praying pants

I haven't been praying much recently. So this post is for me as much as for you.

Here are some verses that keep nudging at my mind:
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (Col 4:2)

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Rom 12:12)
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thess 5:16-18)
Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. (Luke 18:1
And then, an example:
He is always wrestling in prayer for you. (Col 4:12)    
Now, I know we pray, not because we have to, but because we get to. Prayer is a privilege. It's a gift. It's our response to grace. It's the fruit of a relationship.

We pray because, in Jesus, we can approach God with confidence (Heb 10:19-25). We pray because the God of the universe is our Father (Matt 6:9). We pray, because where else have we to go? (John 6:68) We pray because God is our help and strength (Psalm 46:1).

Yet sometimes what I really need is a kick in the pants. A reminder to get praying, even when I don't feel like it.

Because prayer is not just a gift: it's also hard work, the hard work that responds to grace (Phil 2:12-13). It requires self-discipline and commitment. It struggles and wrestles and perseveres.

Prayer not just a privilege: it's also a responsibility. It's love in action. We do it for others, not just for ourselves.

So that's why I've listed these verses. For me; and for you, in case you, too, need God’s word to give you a kick in the praying pants.

This post first appeared at The Briefing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

online meanderings

True kinship - Can you adopt someone into your family? A celibate man writes.

Life is not in my control - A wonderful post by Jenny Kemp.

Grumpiness and irritability - "Maybe you don't vent--you just stew ..."

No one left behind - How easy is it to disappear from your church?

10 good reasons to memorise big chunks of the Bible - Reason 1: Because you have a bad memory. That's enough reasons for me.

Debunking 5 myths about expat life - Ever wondered what it's really like to be a missionary?

For parents
How many children should I have? - I think this is a pretty good answer from the perspective of wisdom.

Soul food for mum - One mum encourages another.
The new greed. We are after so many things, and it's playing out on our phones and iPads and computers as much as it ever has in our material possessions and our bank accounts. Why are we--why am I--checking my phone so often, scrolling through Facebook or Instagram? What exactly are we looking for? Why are we leaving our present reality that God has given us so richly to enjoy to go somewhere else in our mind, a place often called Comparison or Discontent? It's something to think about, because it muddies the waters of what has real value, and because greed's mantra is that we never have enough. Christine Hoover

"Daddy, why is it so hard to say goodbye?" ... My girl and I may be separated for a few days. Or maybe the Lord will decide that I do not return from this trip. But even then, the separation will be short because we know, and we believe, in the words of the poet: “One short sleep past we wake eternally, and death will be no more.” In that day death will be gone, and so too will every painful goodbye. Tim Challies

To see more links and quotes, click here (Facebook) or here (Twitter).       

what I'm reading: the smile of God

How do you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus? (Col 3:1-4) Here's one way I do it.

Every year I read one or two books about God's character or the cross. I do this on my mornings off, sitting in a cafe, sipping my spiced chai.

I recently read Knowing God. Finishing the last page was bittersweet. I wondered what I could possibly replace it with.

Then I remembered Tim Chester's The ordinary hero. It's been on my shelf for a while, waiting for an opportunity. I'm 4 chapters in, and loving it.

Here's a bit that spoke to me. It's for anyone who trusts in Jesus:
God doesn't merely tolerate you. In Christ he smiles upon you as a Father ...
Why should we think that God would abandon us when he's already given us his Son? Why should we think there's any limit to his love when he's already given what was most precious to him? ...

You're not made right with God by what you do. You don't do it in the first place, so why suppose you could undo it! ... Perhaps this is the ultimate humiliation. Not only can we not contribute to our salvation; we can't even wreck our salvation. But who cares? ...

Our heavenly Father is not a stern father who needs to be placated by his Son. Maybe your human father was like that. Stern. Distant. Maybe you approached him hesitantly or reluctantly. But your divine Father isn't like that. The Son's actions are the outflow of the Father's love. ...

The Son didn't placate God to make him favourably disposed to us. No, it's the other way round. The work of the Son starts with the love of the Father. ...

God doesn't merely tolerate us. He delights in us. We make him sing for joy (Zeph 3:17) ...

When you look into the face of God, what do you see? Do you see a frown? Do you see a judge? A schoolmaster? Or do you see a smile?

In Christ, God smiles upon us. Who can resist that smile?

Tim Chester The ordinary hero 39-46.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

in the face of evil

Wise words from a missionary who faces unimaginable evil every day because he loves Jesus:
God knows we can endure more than we think we can in his strength. We, on the other hand, have our doubts. Some days the battle just wears us down, and even if we think we can endure another day, we just don't want to.

Suffering is not a new concept; it is just new to us. Scripture addressed these issues long ago. God is by no means unaware of our pain (Ex. 3:7), and he calls us to endure our sufferings and continue in our service to him (2 Tim. 4:5). We know God will not give us more than we can endure (1 Cor. 10:13), and we understand the Lord prepares his servants for battle (Ps. 144:1).

Our doubt, pain, and discomfort do not absolve Christians of our responsibility to spread the saving grace of Christ and show his mercy to the needy. We were never promised lack of pain or suffering, only the unwavering knowledge that the Creator of the universe loves us.

When we struggle with safety and security and still get out of bed every morning to toil in the name of Christ, he receives an extra measure of glory from our labors. How fortunate to experience suffering that results in God's glory, pain that expands God's name, and persecution that points towards heaven!

John Piper said, "This is God's universal purpose for all Christian suffering: more contentment in God and less satisfaction in the world." Indeed, our bodies and souls belong to the Lord. Our worship of Christ includes offering our entire life to God. Our joy comes in service when we obey his commands.

Be it money, comfort, family, or friends, mission work entails sacrifice. God calls us to be willing to give all we have. As with all other Christians, missionaries must die to self, forego personal gain, and submit to Christ. No matter the cost we are called to serve the Lord.

"They gave our Master a crown of thorns," Martin Luther wrote. "Why do we hope for a crown of roses?"
- Mike Pettengill

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

online meanderings

Going grey and that's okay - A fantastic article about beauty, aging, death, and true hope.

The assumption we cannot afford - "I’ve been in church for years, but no one has taught me to study my Bible until now."

Top 10 causes of depression in pastors and how we can help.

6 ways to help a family with a child with autism or other special needs.

You won't waste your life - Could you give your life to making Jesus known in an obscure, rural area?

Love and loss on mothers' day

for parents:
I miss the absurdity - A beautiful post about kids growing older.

10 money lessons to teach your kids

The danger of over-parenting teens - "The truth is that painful lessons in the school of hard knocks are long remembered, but only if the pain is allowed to do its work."

for pastors, service leaders and Christian writers:
Dear well-meaning-Anglo-Saxon-Australian Christians - An important post for pastors and service leaders.

Words to use instead of "points" or "things"
Every single time you sit down to make something, even if you’ve done this for years and know the routine, it feels like you’re starting from scratch. It feels like you have absolutely nothing to offer, nothing new to say, and whatever you’ve managed to get right in the past was just a fluke ... So are we starting from scratch? Yes. And no. Every line in your notebook, every strum of your guitar is an act of faith. But you’ve been here before. Don’t be afraid. Andrew Peterson

Maybe it’s time to start thinking of paper and screens another way: not as an old technology and its inevitable replacement, but as different and complementary interfaces, each stimulating particular modes of thinking. Maybe paper is a technology uniquely suited for imbibing novels and essays and complex narratives, just as screens are for browsing and scanning. Brandon Keim

To see more links and quotes, click here (Facebook) or here (Twitter).      

it's not about me

A helpful reminder from Staci Eastin that suffering is not just about me.
It makes me nervous when we start surmising apart from Scripture on why God does this to us. I’ve heard many sentences that start with “I think God does this because…” that ended up making us the center of things and not him. ...

God is there where Christians gather in secret for fear of their lives. He’s also there when the nursery staff realizes they’re dealing with a particularly nasty case of rotavirus, and with the Sunday School teacher when the Junior Highers just sit with their arms crossed, scowling at the floor. He’s there when the speaker at the women’s retreat realizes that she’s not only lost her train of thought, she’s lost her place in her notes as well.

Anyone who’s been there comes out of it feeling that he or she knows God just a little bit better, but we’re mistaken when we think it ends with what we’ve learned. It’s about a Holy God, using sinful people to do a thousand little things, but letting those little things add up to a giant demonstration of his wisdom that’s so glorious even the angels are compelled respond with praise that echoes through the universe.

If I try to make that just about me, I make far too little of God.
You can read the rest here.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Jesus is our accountant

Jim Douglass:
I remember sitting with a mortgage salesman who was telling us how quickly we could own our home. I then asked him to do the sums again taking into account the money we wanted to give to church, student ministry, overseas mission and child sponsorship. He then told us we couldn’t afford it!

  • Now we are paying our mortgage off at an incredibly slow rate, but we’re supporting our local church.
  • Now we only have one car, but we’re supporting university ministries around Australia.
  • Now our holidays are fairly simple affairs, but we’re supporting overseas mission.
  • Now we’re spending less on restaurants and clothes, but we’re helping the poor in other parts of the world.

Part of me wants more; part of me wants to give my family all the best holidays and experiences. Part of me wants the stuff that other people have.

Recently, my car mechanic gave me the “It’s-getting-old, there’s-not-much-we-can-do” talk. But Vanessa and I agreed that it’s not dead yet.

The truth is I feel the allure of fun family holidays and gadgets and a new car and gadgets and paying off our mortgage and gadgets, but our great accountant helps keep our priorities in perspective.

The gift Jesus gives us is greater than all those things, it’s the gift of contentment and the ability to say no to something good for the sake of something better.
Read the rest here.

Friday, May 9, 2014

my favourite Bible verses for seasons of suffering

A friend asked what Bible verses help me get through times of suffering. She said,
What I need right now is a Romans 8.28 replacement. Maybe I just need verses that remind me that God is good and God is strong. Got any short ones I can repeat over and over?
Here's my response:
There are a few single verses I keep coming back to, like Romans 5:3-4, 8:31-32, 8:35; Galatians 6:8-9; 1 Peter 1:6-7; and little bits of the psalms like Psalm 46:1 and 84:1. But I am not very good with short verses, because I find it easier to remember longer passages.

When I'm going through a time of struggle, I often memorise a psalm for that season; my favourites are 23, 42, 46, 84, 103, 121, 130, 131, 139 and I am always coming back to them (at least the bits I remember!). Many of them are quite short.

Three favourite passages that help me persevere through times of trial are 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, Hebrews 12:1-13 and Romans 8:18-39

I love Psalm 73:23-26 and Habakkuk 3:17-19, for they remind me that I could lose everything, and still have all I want in Jesus. "Where else have we to go, since you alone have words of eternal life?" (John 6:68).

I also say these passages over and over: Ephesians 1:3-10 (all spiritual blessings); 1 Peter 1:3-9 (how suffering refines our faith); Romans 5:1-11 (being sure of God's grace).

And there are some passages on anxiety I keep returning to, like the ones in Matthew 6:19-34 and Philippians 4:4-9.

What verses would you add? I'd love to hear from you (and so would my friend, I'm sure).  

For more suggestions, and if you'd like to commit some of these to memory, see my series memorizing the Bible.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

the middle mile

Vance Havner:
To most of us, the most important parts of a journey are the start and finish. But the part of a trip that really tests the traveler is neither the beginning nor the end but the middle mile.

Anybody can be enthusiastic at the start. The long road invites you, you are fresh and ready to go. It is easy to sing then. And it is easy to be exuberant at the finish. You may be footsore and weary but you have arrived, the goal is reached, the crown is won. It is not difficult to be happy then.

But on the dreary middle mile when the glory of the start has died away and you are too far from the goal to be inspired by it—on the tedious middle mile when life settles down to a regular routine and monotony-there is the stretch that tires out the traveler.

If you can sing along the middle mile, you've learned one of life's most difficult lessons.

This is true of all life's little journeys. A boy hears a great musician and is inspired to undertake a musical career. Years later, he makes his debut and leaps into fame. Both those milestones, his start and his success, are played up in the papers. You hear nothing about the middle mile when he banged a piano until his ears rang; those dull, drab years when he was so often tempted to give it up and be a nobody. But it was the middle mile that made him, that proved the fabric of his soul. . . .

A boy and girl marry. It is easy to be affectionate those first heavenly days when life is a paradise made for two. Fifty years later they lie in the sunset's glow still in love although time has bent and wrinkled them and silver threads have long since replaced the gold. But it is neither the honeymoon nor the golden wedding that tests the lover. It is the middle stretch, when rent is due and hubby had lost his job and the kids have the whooping cough, that tests the traveler of the matrimonial highway.

A man is converted, "gets religion" we say. It is easy to be spiritual those first great days when the wine of a new affection so intoxicates the soul. A half-century later, he comes to the dark valley and a song is still on his lips and the heavenly vision is still bright within him. But the testing place of his religion was the long middle mile when the enthusiasm of the start had passed and the goal was still far away, when the vision had dimmed a bit and a sense of things real came doubly strong." . . .

So in life as a whole, it is not for fine beginnings and noble resolutions that we suffer most today. And nobody needs advice on how to be happy at the end of the road, for if you have traveled well, the end of the way will care for itself. It is on the intermediate stretch where the rosy start gives way to long desert marches, where the ordinariness of life bears heaviest on the soul-it is there that we need to know how to keep the inner shrine aglow with the heavenly vision. . . .

This grace of the middle mile the Bible calls "patient continuance." It is a wonderful art that few have mastered. It proves, as nothing else can, that character. And it gets least attention from the world because there is nothing very dramatic about it. There is something theatric in a big start or a glorious finish. There is nothing for a news reporter along the middle mile. It is a lonesome mile, for the crowd is whooping'er up for the fellow who got through. It's a hard mile, for it's too far to go back and a long way to go on. But if you can keep a song within and a smile without on this dreariest stretch of life, if you can lean to transform it into a paradise of its own, you have mastered the greatest secret of victorious living, the problem of the middle mile.
 With thanks to Vitamin Z.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

online meanderings

6 kinds of grace - An encouraging post by Paul Tripp.

5 lies about our bodies, and 5 truths from God's word - Excellent.

Why compromise matters

How cancer changed one man's bucket list

Two empty chairs- Grieving differently.

Good complaining; bad complaining - What's the difference?

Why pastors need female teachers (and vice versa)

The problem of men in Australian society today

Crazy busy - A great post on busyness and a book review from Macca.

for parents
I miss the absurdity - A beautiful post about kids growing older.

"When", not "if" - A good post by a mum about equipping your kids to say "no" to porn.

"I’m pretty sure my kids are insane..." - It's good to know our family is normal.
If you're talking to a mum with school age children who says 'But I need the time they're at school for myself', it's not because they're selfish. It's actually because they're often working hard to foster new depths of patience and love and wisdom for caring for their kids through this stage. Jenny Kemp

We beat on the text with our eyes and our mind and our heart and our prayer until it yields what God made it to yield. We wrestle with it, like Jacob and the angel, “I won’t let you go till you bless me.” John Piper on Martin Luther

Humble people cast all their anxieties on God. Proud people don’t. Proud people try to take matters into their own hands. Proud people worry. Anxieties are normal in a fallen world. Some of us have more or greater anxieties than others, but we all have them. The question is this: What are you going to do with those anxieties? God lovingly commands you to humble yourself under his mighty hand by casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you. Andy Naselli

To see more links and quotes, click here (Facebook) or here (Twitter).     

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

what I'm reading: the still point of your turning world

I think this is wonderful:
Many people say, “Sure I believe that Jesus is a great teacher, but I can’t believe what they say about him being God.”

That creates a problem, because his teaching is based on his identity claim. ... He is the One who created the world.

Here is how his historian NT Wright puts it:
How can you live with the terrifying thought that the hurricane has become human, that fire has become flesh, that life itself became life and walked in our midst?

Christianity either means that, or it means nothing. It is either the most devastating disclosure of the deepest reality of the world, or it is a sham, a nonsense, a bit of deceitful playacting.

Most of us, unable to cope with saying either of those things, condemn ourselves to live in the shallow world in between.
In the end, you can’t simply like anybody who makes claims like those of Jesus.

Either he’s a wicked liar or a crazy person and you should have nothing to do with him, or he is who he says he is and your whole life has to revolve around him and you have to throw everything at his feet and say “Command me.”

Or do you live in that misty “world in between” that Wright says no one can live in with integrity? Do you pray to Jesus when you’re in trouble, and otherwise mostly ignore him because you get busy?

Either Jesus can’t hear you because he’s not who he says he is—or if he is who he says he is, he must become the still point of your turning world, the center around which your entire life revolves.

Tim Keller's King's Cross 44-45.

Friday, May 2, 2014

online meanderings

The color of happiness - Green and blue, of course. Time to go for a walk in this glorious Autumn weather.

Hospitality is more than tea and scones

But what about gluttony? - Finally: something decent written on gluttony

Discontent - Are you feeding yourself eye candy?

The blog vs. real life -  Why you might need to read less and get to know people more.

for parents:
10 ways Christian parents can achieve more by doing less - A 'de-cluttering' guide to raising Christian children by Jenny Kemp.

Prodigal pastors' kids: fact or fiction? - An interesting US study which surveyed pastors on their (grown) children's faith. Includes parenting successes and regrets.

Dear discouraged cook - An idea for getting kids to try new food. We use this one.
Be content to be nothing, for that is what you are. When your own emptiness is painfully forced upon your consciousness, chide yourself that you ever dreamed of being full, except in the Lord. Charles Spurgeon

One of the greatest fallacies of our faith, and actually one of the greatest acts of unbelief, is the thought that our spiritual acts and virtues need to be advertised to be known. ... We should allow God to decide when our deeds will be known and when our light will be noticed. Dallas Willard

Spare a thought for the people who do not have the Lord as their shepherd. Spare a moment for them and pity them. What is it that they can say? And what is the truth of their position? Can you hear their cry?. ''The Lord is not my shepherd. I am in terrible want. No one comes to my aid. I know nothing of green pastures or still waters. It is 'every man for himself' in the world I live in. I flounder around in life desperately trying to make sense of it. When I face death, terrible fear grips hold of me, and in the presence of my enemies this fear intensifies. Goodness and loving kindness are total strangers to me. I have no hope at all when I look to life after death. Pity the person who is shepherdless! We should have compassion on the multitude around us who are lost. John Chapman

To see more links and quotes, click here (Facebook) or here (Twitter).