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TREASURE FOR TROUBLED TIMES

JULY 8, 2020
TONY EVANS, AUTHOR AND PASTOR OF OAK CLIFF BIBLE FELLOWSHIP


Isaiah 33:1–6


Sometimes life gets so stormy that we wonder if we’re going to make it through. But in this lesson, Dr. Tony Evans will show us how to find treasure in troubled times, even when things are at their worst.


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CULTIVATING GOSPEL-CENTERED FRIENDSHIPS

APRIL 2, 2014
SHANNON KAY McCOY, BIBLICAL COUNSELING COALITION


“Taking a break from our friendship.” That was the title in the subject line of an email I received from a dear friend. My jaw dropped and my heart sank. It felt weird—like a boyfriend breaking up with me in grade school.


First, she stated how much she appreciated our friendship; then proceeded to explain why she needed to take a break. She expressed her understanding of how busy I was with my daughter, work, etc., but felt that I had been “rude” and “flaky” about planning to spend time together and then cancelling due to other conflicts.


Although I was offended, she was right. At the end of the email, she left open the possibility to continue our friendship “at another time or season in life that is maybe less busy.” It was clear what she needed from me; however, life got busier and I wasn’t able to give to her what she was asking. I received that email a year ago and my heart still aches over it.


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BOOK REVIEW—IF GOD IS GOOD by RANDY ALCORN

SEPTEMBER 15, 2009
TIM CHALLIES, BLOGGER, AUTHOR, BOOK REVIEWER


It seems a fair question, doesn’t it? If God is truly good, as Christians insist, then how can there be so much suffering in the world? Since ancient times this question has led skeptics to believe that God cannot, must not, exist. Even today’s so-called New Atheists show how little is really new when they use the existence of suffering and evil as a linchpin of their arguments against God’s existence. Quite simply, they say, if suffering and evil exist, then God must not. Yet though people have wrestled with this question and allowed it to drive them from the faith, many more have wrestled with it and have come to the conclusion that God does exist despite suffering. They have found that suffering is God’s invitation to trust in him and to hold out hope for a better world to come.


If God Is Good is the latest book from Randy Alcorn’s who is probably best-known for his last major release, Heaven, which has sold well over a half million copies in hardcover. From my experience, Alcorn primarily writes three types of books: novels, very small books and very large books. If God Is Good, like Heaven before it, fits squarely in the final category. Weighing in at 512 pages, this is a good-sized hardcover that offers a thorough examination and defense of faith in the midst of suffering and evil.


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10 SIMPLE WAYS TO EVANGELIZE DURING A PANDEMIC

APRIL 6, 2020
PAUL WORCESTER, THE GOSPEL COALITION


A few days ago I heard a friend say, “The gospel can’t be quarantined.” I’m grateful he’s correct.


People around the world face fear, isolation, and loss of their regular flow of life. Many face significant financial and health issues that often bring spiritual issues to the forefront. People tend to be open to Christ during trouble and transition. The coronavirus crisis fits both categories.


I’m praying that many years from now, this testimony will become common: “I became a Christian during the coronavirus pandemic.” It’s a ripe time to do evangelism.


Here are 10 simple ideas for leveraging this season to advance the gospel.


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HIS LOVE IS ENOUGH

APRIL 23, 2020
ADAM AND MANDY BARKER


Have you ever been scrolling through Facebook and come across a post with an ideal family snapshot of everyone sitting on the back porch eating their “new family recipe” for homemade ice-cream? Or read a blog about a seemingly “perfect” mom whose six kids just wrote out thoughtful, compassion-filled letters for an orphanage in Guatemala, and enclosed them with money they raised from a lemonade stand? How about watched a video of your friend’s three-year-old, quoting Psalm 23, in English, Spanish AND sign language? (sigh)


You want to be encouraged and proud for your friends, but the reality is there is a restlessness inside of you. Your mind erupts with a sense of guilt that seems to be rooted in a frustration with yourself. Is it that you are not living up to the standards around you? Or is it all about the standards you have set for yourself? As you are sorting through these emotions, you are interrupted by the shrieking sound of one of your own kids shoving Cheetos up their little brother’s nose. Whether before, during, or after the Cheeto removal, your feelings of failure become an indicator of where you are finding your identity.


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5 ACTIONS TOWARDS DATING YOUR SPOUSE DURING COVID-19

MARCH 26, 2020
BRAD HAMBRICK, COUNSELOR AND AUTHOR


So, how do you go on a date when you aren’t allowed to leave your house? A month ago, this question would have been a lame set of jumper cables to start a conversation when there wasn’t anything to talk about. Now, it’s beginning to feel like an essential marital survival skill.


Many of us are learning how to work from home. If both spouses are doing this, it can feel like “we are spending more time together than ever before” (in corresponding news, many couples are also second guessing whether they ever want their spouse to retire). We’re realizing that “time together” and “dating” are not the same thing.


In this article, we’ll consider five actions to help you meaningfully date your spouse during a time period where you can’t leave your home.


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EVERYTHING'S CANCELED! DEALING WITH DISAPPOINTMENT IN PANDEMIC

MARCH 24, 2020
ABBEY WEDGEWORTH, THE GOSPEL COALITION


On March 14, actress Jennifer Garner extended a social-media invitation to “preschoolers to professionals” whose games, meets, recitals, and productions had been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She urged them to share what they’d been working on (using the hashtag #heyjenlookatme) so that she could share it “with the world,” adding tenderly, “because I want to see.”


I enjoyed following along as she shared dance routines and monologues, but I’ve also grieved as I’ve considered the tangential losses that the coronavirus has caused all over the world: massive denominations with canceled meetings, brides with canceled weddings, seniors who won’t get to walk across the stage in cap and gown, athletes who have lost the chance to compete, students who have lost one-eighth of their college experience, families whose vacations have been canceled, fans who don’t get to see their favorite artists, children who won’t be able to share cupcakes with friends on their birthdays. Some of these things can be rescheduled, but some cannot.


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KING JEHOSHAPHAT AND THE CORONAVIRUS

FEBRUARY 6, 2020
JASON SEVILLE, THE GOSPEL COALITION

  

“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

 

As I sit in my apartment in coronavirus-laden China, I’m hard pressed to think of a better prayer than that one, uttered by a desperate but confident Judean king named Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. 20:12).

 

The eyes of an anxious world are on this global health crisis. Companies and schools in China are delaying operations. Borders are closing. And in recent days many airlines have suspended all travel in and out of this great country. As an American who pastors in China, our decision to stay now feels like a clear “burn the ships!” moment.

 

Our prayer? We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you, Lord.

 

Jehoshaphat’s ancient perspective is more apropos for February 2020 than we might think. In his context, a dangerous delegation from Edom was closing in on Judah. But his faith was all-encompassing. He wasn’t just trusting the Lord in the face of potential military defeat, but for any disaster that may come!


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IT'S OKAY TO FEAR CORONAVIRUS

MARCH 18, 2020
PAUL TRIPP, PAUL TRIPP MINISTRIES


We find ourselves in a time of unprecedented trouble. Faced with a global pandemic, we need to take a moment to think biblically about our response to COVID-19.

 

I only have one thought that I will repeat in today’s devotional: Be afraid, but don’t give way to fear.

 

That statement may seem contradictory, so let me explain.

 

Fear is one of God’s good gifts to us. I think there are three types of spiritually healthy fear:

 

1. Fear of God. This is a holy reverence of the Almighty, living in awe of, and submitting to, the King of the universe.

 

2. Rapid Response Fear. This is our instinctual ability to react in a moment of danger. Think of a parent who spontaneously leaps into action to protect their child right before they hurt themselves.

 

3. Appropriate Concern: This allows us to be sobered by what we are facing, and with our God-given ability to analyze, we make wise and planned choices to protect ourselves and those we love.


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C. S. LEWIS ON THE CORONAVIRUS

MARCH 12, 2020
MATT SMETHURST, THE GOSPEL COALITION


It’s now clear that COVID-19 is a deadly serious global pandemic, and all necessary precautions should be taken. Still, C. S. Lewis’s words—written 72 years ago—ring with some relevance for us. Just replace “atomic bomb” with “coronavirus.”


"In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”


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DON'T WASTE YOUR FAMILY QUARANTINE

MARCH 19, 2020
COURTNEY REISSIG, THE GOSPEL COALITION


A month ago, our school district closed unexpectedly for a couple of days because of the flu. Our family had already been hit hard by it, so it came as no surprise to me. Since I had recently been out of town, I was actually thankful for the extra days at home with my kids.

 

But then coronavirus protocols took effect, and all our daily activities were upended. No longer are we looking at a few days off to rest from the flu. Now, we’re staring down the barrel of multiple weeks at home with nothing to do.

 

Many parents are in the same situation. We have to think through not only the disruption to everyday life, but also how to lead children through cancellations that affect them.   


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A PRACTICAL WAY TO LOVE YOUR (SELF-ISOLATED) NEIGHBOR

MARCH 18, 2020
ELIJAH ELKINS, THE GOSPEL COALITION


Over the last year my wife, Tana, and I have been gathering with a few Christian neighbors in our small village for friendship and fellowship. Often we’ve prayed for our village, asking God to show us how to love and serve our neighbors.

 

A few days ago, we began praying in a more specific way: How do we love our neighbors now? How do we love them even if they’ve gotten the coronavirus?

 

Jesus said we, his followers, are to be the salt of the earth and light of the world. This is who we are. This is our identity. We are to illumine places and feelings and topics of darkness and fear. We are to prevent decay and preserve life. We are to continue shining in the face of COVID-19. And we’re to love our neighbors who’ve caught coronavirus.


As A. W. Tozer put it, “A frightened world needs a fearless church.”   


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10 GIFTS I PRAY GOD GIVES THE CHURCH THROUGH THE CORONAVIRUS

MARCH 18, 2020
ORION BERRIDGE, "FOR THE CHURCH" BLOG FROM MIDWESTERN SEMINARY


As the ban on gatherings increased and churches lost their ability to gather for corporate worship, I woke up in the middle of the night with a familiar passage stuck in my head: . . . not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (Heb. 10:25 ESV). ​I thought, “What a cruel passage for a pastor to sit and ponder in the night watch.” But then I remembered what led up to that verse: Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works . . . (Heb. 10:23-24 ESV). These two verses erupted in prayer from deep within me as I sat there thinking about my hope for my family, and the church that I pastor. “God, help us hold fast to you. Make us a hope-filled people that make people wonder who this God is that we have such confidence in. And Father, awaken us, even as isolated as we are, to stir one another up and see the body of Christ love like never before.” It was a simple prayer. I laid back down feeling satisfied like one does after a good meal, and, just as I was about to fall asleep, I realized I was still hungry. I wasn’t finished praying. A flood of prayers and hopes followed, which I wrote down asking God to give the church through this trial. Maybe you hope for some of the same things. Maybe you will pray for these with me. . . .


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