A Gift in a Black Box
For a fast-paced society like ours, being busy is part of our identities — an unhealthy part of our identities. For nearly six months our routines have been interrupted and many of us have been forced to bring our frenetic busyness to a halt.
We have been forced to work from home. Plans have been cancelled. Vacations have been rescheduled. Most of us would reluctantly admit that we have responded to all of this with anxiety and frustration.
We know, however, that God is always at work for our good and His glory, even in things like a pandemic (Rom. 8:28). In fact, it is often through seemingly dire, frustrating circumstances that God pours out His grace — like gifts in a black box. We believe that God has given us a rare opportunity, a chance to pause, take stock of our pursuits, and refocus on Him.
Resetting Our Aim
In Luke 10:38-42 we are given an account of Jesus in the home of two sisters, Mary and Martha. While Jesus was in the home Martha “was distracted by serving.” Mary, on the other hand, sat at the feet of Jesus to listen to his teaching.
While serving is certainly commendable, Jesus lovingly rebuked Martha. What her busyness revealed was an anxious, distracted heart. For Mary, however, Jesus was supremely valuable to her. He was more precious to her than productivity. For this reason, Mary is held out to us as an example, and Martha as a pointed warning.
As things begin to move back towards some sense of normalcy it will be all too tempting to try and get back to life just as it was before the pandemic. Our encouragement to you is this: aim for something better than the old normal.
Don’t settle for frenetic busyness again. Take this God-given time and ask yourself what you need to say “no” to so that you may say “yes” to sitting at the feet of Jesus.
As we aim together to be a people who value intimacy with Jesus above all else, let’s commit to the basic means of grace that God has given us: the Word, prayer, and the church.
We have compiled a list of resources below to help you in this pursuit. We wholeheartedly commend them to you. Know that your leadership is praying for God’s Spirit to work mightily in you. Never forget that “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)
Read the Bible On Your Own
It's never too late to start or pick back up reading the Bible. Our church is currently using the Discipleship Journal Bible Reading plan. You can also find it on the Bible App. You can find other Bible reading plans here.
Listen to the Bible
Dwell is a Bible listening app. If you are more of an audible learner, then this might be the perfect tool for you to get into God’s Word. Follow the following steps to get set up:
- To create a Dwell account and join the group, go online and follow this group link.
- Download the app: Search "dwell" in your app store.
- Sign in with I already have an account.
Study the Bible Together
There’s no such thing as a “lone ranger” Christian. Here are the Bible studies we are offering this fall to encourage our growth in grace during this trying season.
For Men: The New Man by Dan Doriani
“Men don’t need more lists to excel as husbands, fathers, or leaders. The new man in Christ is shaped by knowing God through his Word, because the way of a godly man is the way of his God. With a focus on honing character rather than following techniques, Doriani helps you to reflect God’s character in marriage, friendships, wealth, work, fitness, play, and more. You won’t find checklists for self-improvement (or three ways to grill a steak), but you will find clarity, honesty, encouragement—and freedom in the Man who is not just our example but ultimately our Savior.”
Meets socially distanced in the sanctuary on Wednesdays from 6-7:30 p.m., starting September 16.
Pick up a copy here.
For Women: Psalms with Jen Wilkin
Our women will be participating in a virtual study of the Psalms with Bible teacher Jen Wilkin. Watch this video to learn how to get registered. Each person will register on their own which will give you access to a workbook and video teaching.
For those who feel comfortable joining us in person, we will be meeting to discuss the workbook and watch the video teaching together.
Meets socially-distanced in the sanctuary on Sunday evening from 6-7:30, starting September 13.
Ligonier has a vast library of great resources. They have opened up their collection of teaching series. They’ve also added 20+ teaching series to Amazon Prime and unlocked the group study feature at Ligonier Connect so you can take courses with others.
The Bible Project
Is the Bible a bit of mystery to you? You’re not alone! Fortunately, the Bible Project has created a series of short videos that explain whole books of the Bible, as well as how to read different parts of the Bible and Biblical themes. The “How to Read the Bible” series is a great place to start.
Visit the following sites for tons of great articles to read and sermons to listen to:
Media and News
Much of our anxiety, fear or anger may stem from the fact that we flood ourselves with a steady stream of constant information. On top of that, reliable, hype-less media from a Biblical worldview is hard to come by.
First, step back and check your heart and consumption of media.
Second, check out these options for news and analysis from a Biblical worldview.
WORLD News Group offers a wide range of digital and print news reporting from a Biblical worldview – free from the hype that often characterizes other outlets. They have a daily news podcast as well as a video series for teens.
The Briefing goes underneath the headlines for cultural analysis of our current moment.
Resources for the Whole Family
New City Catechism
Training ourselves and our children in good doctrine is more important than ever. The New City Catechism is a great tool for helping the whole family to learn truth together.
For Younger Kids
From the creator of Veggie Tales, Mr. Phil TV provides your little ones with good Bible content in an entertaining package.
For Older Kids and Teens
This book, written by a teenager for other teenagers will help your teenager see how the truth about God changes everything — their relationships, their time, their sin, their habits, and more – freeing them to live joyful, obedient, and Christ–exalting lives, even while they’re young. We encourage you to buy a copy for your student and have them read it. You won’t regret it! You can buy it here.
Books Worth Reading
The apostle Paul traces out a pattern of dying and rising with Jesus--what Paul Miller calls the "J-Curve"--as the normal Christian life. Life's inconveniences, disappointments, and trials can leave us confused, cynical, and eventually bitter. But the J-Curve plots the ups and downs of our lives onto the story of Jesus. It grounds our journeys not in some abstract idea but in union with Christ and his work of love. Understanding our life in light of the J-Curve roots our hope, centers our love, and tethers our faith to Christ. You can purchase it here.
“Hurry is the great enemy of the spiritual life.” John Mark Comer explores this reality in this book and makes a compelling case in favor of a slower, simpler lifestyle. You can purchase it here.
Christians know what Jesus Christ has done--but who is he? What is his deepest heart for his people, weary and faltering on their journey toward heaven? Jesus said he is "gentle and lowly in heart." This book reflects on these words, opening up a neglected yet central truth about who he is for sinners and sufferers today. Our youth group is going through this study on Wednesday nights and we guarantee it will be worth your time to read it. You can order it here.