Monthly Mash Up (January 2017)

We've reached the end of January. I’d like to take a moment and share with you what I'm reading, pondering and enjoying. This has been something I’ve regularly shared with email subscribers but will now be sharing as a regular post on the blog. I’m still tinkering with exactly what it will look like, but it will most likely be a monthly post. It is my sincere hope that the resources I share with you here will be helpful and that you enjoy reading it. If you do enjoy it, I’d love for you to share it with family and friends. 

Verse I'm Chewing On

 “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:15

I need to recall this verse a thousand different times a day. There are far too many instances in which I try to do things myself. When I do, it rarely turns out the way I’d planned. This verse serves as a real and vigilant reminder that I must remain connected to Christ.  

What I'm Reading

1. Church History: In Plain Language by Bruce L. ShelleyMy mentor and I started reading this one a few weeks ago and I’m enjoying it deeply. Day by day I’m learning new things about church history and seeing God’s sovereign hand moving across page after page. Do I agree with each and every conclusion Shelley comes to? No, but I appreciate his attempt to condense two thousand plus years of church history into a style and presentation that helps people understand and appreciate all God has done these last two millennia. 

Favorite quote: "The Christians, on the other hand, were always talking about their Jesus. They were out to make Christians of  the entire population of the empire, and the rapidity of their spread showed that this was no idle dream. Not only did they, like the Jews, refuse to worship the emperor as a living god, but they were doing their utmost to convince every subject of the emperor to join them in their refusal." 

2. The Meaning of Marriage by Tim KellerOur community group is reading this together. We are focusing in on our marriages as we kick off 2017. Can’t wait to see what we learn and how reading along in the context of community helps grow our understanding.

3. Steal Like An Artist by Austin KleonMy sister-in-law gave me this one for Christmas and Hannah and I are taking it slow. We are reading just a few short page each morning and it’s been a fun read chalked full of interesting and inspiring quotes and one liners.   

4. A Christmas Carol by Charles DickensI started this one the week of Christmas, and have really enjoyed how Dickens frames a scene. He can be a little wordy at times, but this one is a classic for a reason.

What I’m Listening To

1. James Emery White on the Rise of Generation Z: A Post-Christian, Post-Millennial Generation I listened to this podcast episode just after the new year. It was interesting and thought provoking. Most of all it made me think about the world my son will grow up in and how different it will be from the one I knew as a kid. He will have totally new and different experiences, and they’ll shape him in ways I don’t fully understand. That’s ok because the Lord does.

2. Psalms Live by Shane & ShaneI picked up my first Shane & Shane album as a college freshman in 2008. I remain just as hooked on their mad vocal and musical stylings almost ten years later. More importantly, I am encouraged by how these two men have lovingly worshiped the Lord night in and night out on stages all over the world and invited all of us to join in. In a world full of pretenders, fakers and people in it just for the money, these two men named Shane are a bright light pointing to Jesus. Grab this album, find a quiet place to stick in your head buds and try not to let everyone see you belting it out. If you’re anything like me, you just won’t be able to sit still.

3. Blueprint for Armageddon - I listened to Dan Carlin dive deep into the plotting, mud, inhumanity and swift moving change that characterized World War I in December of 2015. I found it not only entertaining and informative but find fascinating parallels between our present day and the events now a century past, that I decided to give it another go this winter as well. Perhaps it will become an annual tradition.

Helpful Resource

1. Jesus, The Only Way - In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had some pretty interesting conversations. In a few the assertion that you can be a Christian without holding to the exclusivity of Jesus Christ has popped up. In this extremely helpful packet you’ll find over 100 verses in the New Testament that destroy this notion. We might misinterpret one verse, maybe two, but Christian’s aren’t whiffing on over 100 verses. The orthodox Christian doctrine that Jesus is the only way to right relationship with God, is the biblical teaching. Perhaps you’re like many of the folks I’ve had the pleasure of talking to of late, and you question this aspect of Christianity. I’d lovingly encourage you to go the Stand to Reason website and collect this immensely helpful resource. Scroll to the bottom of the page, subscribe to any of the Stand to Reason newsletters and receive your free copy of this awesome pdf.

From the Internet

1. What’s The Best Way To Start Off A Marriage via Real Truth Real Quick - I love being married and marriage in general. I know of few things the Lord uses daily to shape and mold me like He does my marriage. In this quick video, Todd Wagner gives some great advice to help kick off marriage on the right foot. Regardless how long you’ve been married, there’s something here for you. If you haven’t taken the plunge just yet, grab a pen, and listen up as Todd sets you up for major success.    

2. God Hates Sexual Immorality via Tim Challies - This post from Tim hits hard. I’d be absolutely shocked if anyone made it all the way through without some twinge of guilt. I certainly didn’t and that’s why I found it helpful.

3. Corporate Worship Saved My Marriage (Video) - I found this encouraging. “Corporate worship,” Piper says, “is one of the best remedies for our sin-sick souls. Without fail, trials and troubles renew every week. Big or small, they draw our gaze away from Jesus and distract us from God’s amazing mercy and grace. Instead of resting in the gospel, we frantically look elsewhere for help.”

4. Tricked Into Playing The Wrong Game - I need helpful reminders every day. Usually these reminders come from God’s word and His people, but every now and again I find a helpful reminder in a blog post I read. In this post, Godin takes on the idea that we must always be growing and growing; reaching a bigger audience. “Bigger,” Seth Godin said, “isn't better. It's merely bigger. And the mass market might want what the mass market wants, but that doesn't mean that it's your market.”