Singleness

5 Things Singles Wish Married Couples Knew
by Jennifer Grisham for  
The Gospel Coalition
As my church has been going through 1 Corinthians, we’ve talked a lot about marriage and singleness. Ever since we looked at 1 Corinthians 7, I’ve had interesting conversations with my single and married friends.
In my experience, here are five things singles wish married couples knew. 
 

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Pilgrim Love

What Real Love Looks Like
by Ray Ortlund for The Gospel Coalition

William Bradford, leader of the Pilgrims, describes the remarkable love with which they cared for one another during that horrible first winter:

“But that which was most sad and lamentable was, that in two or three months’ time half of their company died, especially in January and February, being the depth of winter, and wanting houses and other comforts; being infected with the scurvy and other diseases which this long voyage and their inaccommodate condition had brought upon them. So as there died sometimes two or three of a day in the foresaid time, that of 100 and odd persons, scarce fifty remained. And of these, in the time of most distress, there was but six or seven sound persons who, to their great commendations, be it spoken, spared no pains night nor day, but with abundance of toil and hazard of their own health, fetched them wood, made them fires, dressed them meat, made their beds, washed their loathsome clothes, clothed and unclothed them. In a word, did all the homely and necessary offices for them which dainty and queasy stomachs cannot endure to hear named; and all this willingly and cheerfully, without any grudging in the least, showing herein their true love unto their friends and brethren; a rare example and worthy to be remembered.”

William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647, edited by Samuel Eliot Morison (New York, 1953), page 77.

“Love one another earnestly.” 1 Peter 1:22



The Cubs Win–A (Small) Foretaste of Glory Divine

Cubs Win!  A (small) Foretaste of Glory Divine
by Mark Mellinger for
The Gospel Coalition
 
So this is what it looks like when the Chicago Cubs finally win the World Series, when baseball’s most notorious losers complete the transformation into indelible winners: Grown men, exhausted, tearful, and lost for words after surviving a crazy Game 7 that was, as one of the commentators put it, a battle of attrition. Every pitch from the middle innings on seemed like slow torture. Exemplary Christ-follower Ben Zobrist delivered the go-ahead hit in extra innings and was named series MVP.
Contrary to what’s expected of them, the lovable losers endured to the end.

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9 Things You Should Know About the ESV Bible

Covenant Article–9 Things You Should Know About the ESV Bible
9 Things You Should Know About the ESV Bible
by Joe Carter for The Gospel Coalition
 
Last month the publisher and translator team that produced the English Standard Version (ESV) announced the “text of the ESV Bible will remain unchanged in all future editions.” But after public debate about making the latest edition the “permanent text” they announced this week, “We have become convinced that this decision was a mistake.”
Here is what you should know about the ESV, one of the most popular English translations of Scripture:

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10 Signs That Say “You Are Not welcome in This Church”

Covenant Article–10 Signs That Say “You Are Not Welcome In This Church”
10 Signs That Say
“You Are Not Welcome in This Church”
by Joe McKeever
 
 
“You shall love (the stranger) as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:34).
As a retired pastor who preaches in a different church almost every Sunday, a fun thing I get to do is study the church bulletins (or handouts or worship guides) which everyone receives on entering the building. You can learn a great deal about a church’s priorities and personality in five minutes of perusing that sheet.

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Ministering to Those in Grief

Covenant Resource–Ministering to Those in Grief
Yes, You Should Say Something:
Overcoming Awkwardness with Grieving People
by Nancy Guthrie for The Gospel Coalition
 
 
Recently I was talking with a friend. We were trying to figure out if and how to reach out to someone she hasn’t spoken to in years who lost her 35-year-old son. It’s been a while since he died, and much longer since she’s interacted with her friend. She was afraid of the awkwardness, of saying the wrong thing, of making her friend feel sad since maybe she wasn’t so sad at this point.

I explained to her that when someone you love has died, it’s as if a hurdle has been placed between you and every person you know, and that hurdle stays in place until your loss has been acknowledged in some way. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture or a long conversation. It doesn’t matter if it’s been a while since the loved one died. It doesn’t have to be anything brilliant. Sometimes a simple “I know what has happened, and I’m so sorry,” or even a nonverbal hand on the shoulder or squeeze of the hand, will knock down that barrier.

A few months after our daughter died, I was in the carpool line waiting to pick up my son from school when another mom, who had a daughter born a short time before Hope, came up to my car. She told me that she felt awkward each time she saw me since she still had her daughter while mine was gone, and that she didn’t how to get past that awkwardness. “You just did,” I told her. Simply acknowledging the barrier knocked it down.

Sometimes we hesitate to approach someone because we fear it’s been too long since their loved one died, and that they’ve moved on and don’t want to talk about it anymore. But the opposite is more likely to be true. If it’s been a while, it’s likely people have stopped talking about the one who died, while the grieving person’s desire to talk about him or her has only increased.

So bring it up. And keep bringing it up over the months and even years to come. That’s a gift a true friend gives someone who’s grieving. It matters less what you say than that you say something.

What Grieving People Don’t Expect

It’s not up to you to say something that answers the significant questions they’re asking. Those take some time to work through, and if they sense your willingness to linger with them a bit in the midst of the questions rather than offer simplistic answers, they’re more likely to want to explore them with you down the road. It’s not up to you to recommend the book they need to read, the counselor they need to see, the drug they need to take. You don’t have to provide a framework for thinking and feeling their way through their loss. Really, you just have to show up and say little. What they need more than someone with a lot of words is someone with a willingness to listen without judgment, someone who seems to be entering into their hurting world for the long haul of grief.

It’s not up to you to make the pain go away, even though you would love to be able to do so. Grieving people aren’t expecting you to say something that will take away the hurt. They’re really just hoping you will be willing to hurt with them. The reality is that even if you come up with the perfect thing to say (as if there is such a thing), it simply won’t fix the hurt or solve the problem. Does that take some pressure off? I hope so.

There’s nothing you can say that will make their loss hurt less. It’s going to hurt for a while. They’re not looking to you to make sense of it or to say something they haven’t thought of or something that makes it not hurt. You purpose in saying something is to enter into the hurt with them and let them know they’re not alone.

What makes a great friend in the midst of grief is someone willing to overcome the awkwardness to engage. He or she comes alongside and is willing, at least for a while, to agree that this is terrible, unexplainable, the worst. No forced looking on the bright side. At least not yet. No suggesting you should be grateful for anything. At least not yet. To have a friend who, with a shake of the head and a sense of “How can this be?” refuses to rush too quickly past sharing a sense of agonized disappointment at the reality of death-what a gift.

What Grieving People Most Want
Recently I conducted an online survey of people going through the loss of a loved one, asking what others have said or done in the midst of their loss that has been helpful for meaningful and what they wish others grasped about their grief. I’ve included many of their responses in my new book, What Grieving People Wish You Knew About What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts)

In the responses I received, I noted two things in particular grieving people really want others to say to them.

1. Grieving people long to hear the name of the person who died.

Oh, to hear that person’s name. It’s like salve to an aching soul, music to a heart that’s lost its song. So many people get uncomfortable with speaking of the deceased by name, afraid it will take the conversation in an awkward direction. But when a person keeps speaking of someone you’ve loved with joyful remembrance, it does something nothing else can do. It doesn’t have to be a big deal or an emotional conversation. The more natural, the better. You can say things like:

“I thought of Bob the other day when we were getting barbeque. I always loved how he made such good barbeque. I wish he had taught me his secrets.”

“Every time I pass a biker on the road, I think of Cheryl and how she always amazed me with her stories of the rides she went on. It makes me miss her.”

“I was thinking about Barb the other day and wondering what life is like for her now in heaven. I bet she is enjoying the beauty there. She always had such an eye for beauty.”

“Remember those big curls David had? I was always kinda jealous of his hair.”

“I wish Todd were here at the game with us. What do you think he’d have to say about those refs?”

“When all the children got up to sing in church this morning, I couldn’t help but notice that someone was missing. It hurt that Allison isn’t here.”

2. Grieving people long to hear stories about the person who died and specific things they said or did that were meaningful and memorable.

They’re looking for something specific rather than general. They want something beyond “She was a special person.” They want to hear or read about a specific experience you had with the person who died that made her special. Instead of hearing that he was “always there for you,” they want to hear about a specific time and way he helped you.

If you can write down your memories of the person who died so that the grieving person can read them now and save them for later, your thoughtfulness becomes a gift that keeps on giving. And if the grieving person is active on social media, posting your memory online and inviting others to share similar stories is a great way to get friends in on this joyful remembering.

When you overcome the awkwardness to engage, refusing to presume you can fix anything with your words, recalling memories of and saying the name of the person who died, it’s likely the grieving person may cry. But don’t think for a moment you made them cry. You don’t have to apologize. You simply brought to the surface what was there anyway and needed to be released.

You were brave and caring enough to talk about what others may have avoided. You’ve been a really good friend to someone who is grieving.


Editors’ note: Nancy Guthrie will be speaking on “Walking with Others in the Midst of Grief” at the 2017 Bethlehem Conference for Pastors and Church Leaders, January 30 to February 1 in Minneapolis. She is the author of a new book, What Grieving People Wish You Knew About What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts) (Crossway, 2016).
 


Stop the Revolution–Join the Plodders

Covenant Article–Stop the Revolution. Join the Plodders.
Stop the Revolution.  Join the Plodders
by Kevin DeYoung for Ligonier Ministries
 
It’s sexy among young people-my generation-to talk about ditching institutional religion and starting a revolution of real Christ-followers living in real community without the confines of church. Besides being unbiblical, such notions of churchless Christianity are unrealistic. It’s immaturity actually, like the newly engaged couple who think romance preserves the marriage, when the couple celebrating their golden anniversary know it’s the institution of marriage that preserves the romance. Without the God-given habit of corporate worship and the God-given mandate of corporate accountability, we will not prove faithful over the long haul.
 

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3 Reasons Your Small Group Is Not the Church

3 Reasons Your Small Group Is Not the Church
by Sam Allberry for The Gospel Coalition

Small group ministry is vital for many churches. Groups of around ten believers can be among the best contexts for discussing Scripture, sharing needs, and finding support and praying for one another. In a larger church, there may not be the same opportunity to interact at this level during the main Sunday gathering. We are in a swirl of people, conversations are snatched and bitty, and we are conscious of the need to welcome visitors.

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7 Things the Lord’s Prayer Teaches Us

7 Things the Lord’s Prayer Teaches Us
by Nicholas Davis
 
You might not realize it because of its brevity, but the Lord’s Prayer has a lot to teach us about the Christian faith. One of the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray” and in response to this question Jesus taught them this prayer: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
(Luke 11:1-4; Matt. 6:9-13). There are seven things we learn from this short prayer that Jesus gave to us:

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How Vocation Brings Dignity to Your Work

 
How Vocation Brings Dignity to Your Work
by Tim Challies for
The Gospel Coalition
 
What we do is closely related to who we are. And as Christians, you and I are responsible to give all of who we are and what we do to the Lord.
 
Often we get tripped up in thinking about vocation. We might struggle to see how our work brings glory to God. Alternatively, our eyes might show us the farmer as the provider of food, or the pastor as provider of spiritual nurture. But we easily miss that God is present and active in everything they do for us.

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