Christ’s Glory, Our Goal

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. (Phil. 2:14-15)

Complaining is a universal currency in our world. Almost without fail, it provides a point of connection in even the most casual interactions. Paying at the grocery store? Just grumble about how cold (or hot) the weather has been recently, and you and the checkout clerk will quickly form an alliance. Filling your mug at the office coffee station? Point out how horribly weak (or strong) the brew is today, and your coworkers will vigorously nod their heads in agreement. Late to a party? Mutter about the traffic, and every guest in earshot will have their own gridlock lament to contribute. There is seemingly nothing that we won’t complain about, and seemingly no one who won’t join us when we do.

But belonging to Christ radically changes everything. Because we know that God does all things for our good and His glory (see Rom. 8:28), because we rest secure in His love for us and our union with Him (see Rom. 8:38-39), and because we have been given the indispensable help of his Holy Spirit (see Phil. 2:13), we are not like the murmuring unbelievers around us. We refrain from grumbling, because bringing glory to Christ is our highest goal (see Phil. 2:14-15).

Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16); and, when we refuse to join the office pity-party, we publicly exalt Christ in at least three ways:

1. WE TESTIFY THAT GOD IS GOOD. Most of us would tell our neighbors that God is good. But our dissatisfied grumblings are a jarring contradiction to what we say we believe. A tongue that is used for both blessing and cursing “ought not to be so” (James 3:10)!

2. WE TESTIFY TO AN UNSHAKABLE HOPE. When Job’s wife encourages him to curse God for the trials in his life, Job replies, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). By his sinless response, Job testifies that he has faith in God’s eternal purposes, whether his outward circumstances appear rosy or grim.

3. WE TESTIFY TO A DEEPER REALITY. If our conversations with unbelievers are taken up by the minutiae of life’s inconveniences, we act like this world is all that matters. Instead, we ought to take every opportunity to point to deeper — and more lasting! — spiritual realities.

—Megan Hill, Contentment: Seeing God’s Goodness

Women’s Resources

P&R has many books for women at all stages of life. Here is a list of some of our women’s resources.

1. The Afternoon of Life: Finding Purpose and Joy in Midlife by Elyse Fitzpatrick

The Afternoon of Life is written for women in the middle years of their lives. As we age, we wonder at the many changes occurring in our lives. How do we make the necessary adjustments? How do we handle all this? Elyse Fitzpatrick shows us how our faith can be at the center of how we respond to these life changes. With humor, transparency, and biblical wisdom, she helps us see that God’s purpose in bringing us through this time is to glorify himself and sanctify us.

2. Hungry: Learning to Feed Your Soul with Christ by Rondi Lauterbach

Just like your body, your soul needs to be fed—but how do you satisfy it? Rondi Lauterbach shows us how to prepare true nourishment that meets our deepest hunger.

3. Bible Study: Following the Ways of the Word by Kathleen Buswell Nielson

What is Bible study, anyway? This book highlights not a rigid set of methods, but a clear approach to Bible study that acknowledges Scripture for what it is—the very Word of God.

4. Joy Beyond Agony: Embracing the Cross of Christ, A Twelve-Lesson Bible Study by Jane Roach

In twelve lessons Jane Roach takes us to different aspects of the cross, showing us what the crucifixion meant to Jesus—and what it can mean to us. Why was it necessary? Why did Jesus embrace it? And how do we take up our crosses and follow him? 

5. God for Us: Discovering the Heart of the Father through the Life of the Son by Abby Ross Hutto

Does God feel far off and unconcerned—or even against you? Abby Hutto presents thirteen stories about Jesus from John’s gospel that dispel our distrust and confusion by narrating through Jesus who God truly is. She interweaves testimonials from modern-day believers with further Scripture and discussion questions to assure us that God is for us and longs to draw our confused, distrusting hearts to himself.

6. No Little Women: Equipping All Women in the Household of God by Aimee Byrd

Why are many well-intentioned women falling for poor—even false—theology? Writing to concerned women and church officers, Aimee Byrd pinpoints the problem, which lies especially in the way Christian women have been targeted by the publication industry. Aimee answers hot-button questions—How can women grow in discernment? How should pastors preach to women? What are our roles within the church?—and points us in the direction of a multifaceted solution.

7. Created to Care: God’s Truth for Anxious Moms by Sara Wallace

If you struggle with anxiety as a mom, Sara Wallace wants you to know you’re not alone. What’s more, God’s Word has specific, practical comfort that will help you to embrace this season with peace and confidence. Sara shows how we can learn to have peace in ten critical areas—from our personal insecurities to the spiritual well-being of our children—and provides practical tips from other moms.

8. The Promise Is His Presence: Why God Is Always Enough by Glenna Marshall

Glenna Marshall’s awakening to God’s presence began in the depths of winter. Rereading her journal, she realized that for six months she’d been cataloging all the ways God had abandoned her. What if that . . . wasn’t true? Interweaving her own story of faith and doubt amid suffering, Glenna traces the theme of God’s presence from Genesis to Revelation and shows what it means for us in our own daily joys and struggles. 

9. Sufficient Hope: Gospel Meditations and Prayers for Moms by Christina Fox

Motherhood is a wonderful season of life—but also one filled with challenges, trials, discouragements, and stress. Moms labor to tend to the needs of their children and often find themselves empty and spent by the end of the day. But in the gospel we have a wonderful resource to sustain us. God is more than sufficient to uphold us, and his message of good news applies to all the daily challenges of motherhood.

10. Extravagant Grace: God’s Glory Displayed in Our Weakness by Barbara R. Duguid

Barbara Duguid uses the writings of John Newton to help us understand why even mature Christians can’t seem to shake off sin—and to make us joyous once again at God’s extravagant grace.

11. Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone, Revised and Updated by Elyse Fitzpatrick

Do you feel discouraged, even defeated, in your battle against habitual sin? Are you dismayed or surprised by the situations that bring out your fear, anger, or distress? Elyse Fitzpatrick delves into the heart of the problem: deep down, we’re all idol-worshippers who put our loves, desires, and expectations in God’s place—and then suffer the consequences of our misplaced affections. Yet God loves his people and can use even our messy lives and struggles for his glory. Fitzpatrick shows us how to better search and know our hearts, long for our gracious Savior, and resist and crush our false gods. Includes questions for further thought. Revised edition.

12. Legacy of Faith: From Women of the Bible to Women of Today by Lydia Brownback

Following examples of women of faith is a great way to learn how to become women of God. And the best examples are from the true stories in the Bible. Not all the women of the Bible were faithful to Christ. But we can learn from past women’s failures as well as their triumphs.Legacy of Faith highlights twenty-four of the Bible’s most prominent women. Brownback offers insight and practical application for today’s women. She reveals how we can claim the same promises of Christ as these women did—because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

13. Letter to Pastors’ Wives: When Seminary Ends and Ministry Begins edited by Catherine J. Stewart

Pastors’ wives encounter special challenges as well as special joys. These letters from the seasoned wives of seasoned pastors provide empathy, wise counsel, and encouragement on a wide range of topics.

14. Beyond Authority and Submission: Women and Men in Marriage, Church, and Society by Rachel Green Miller

Rachel Green Miller argues that what the Bible teaches about women, men, and gender is both simpler and more difficult than we’re often told. Although modern discussions have focused on authority and submission, there is much more to the biblical picture. Examining common beliefs in the light of Scripture, she draws out important biblical themes that will strengthen our relationship as co-laborers in the kingdom of God and for the good of this world.

15. My Grandmother Is . . . Praying for Me: Daily Prayers and Proverbs for Character Development in Grandchildren by Susan Kelton, Pamela Ferriss, & Kathryn March

Pray for your grandchild’s spiritual development throughout the year with this guide that focuses on one character trait for each month. The daily lessons contain Scripture references, prayers, and activities.

16. Prayer PathWay: Journeying in a Life of Prayer by Kathi Lambrides Westlund

Each one of our days is a small portion of life’s grand journey. Are you prepared to travel? God calls us to pray because he knows that we need him; he uses prayer to connect with us through all the stages and seasons of life. The result of the author’s forty-year prayer journey, Prayer PathWay is a guide to assist fellow sojourners. To help readers along the way, Kathi Westlund uses eternal biblical truth, timeless wisdom from sages, and practical tools centered around the acronym PRAYERS (Praise, Repent, Ask, Yield, Express thanks, Rejoice, Shalom). The guide can be customized and modified to fit your needs, so that you can develop and establish a personal prayer routine that will hold up for years to come.


3 New Releases Today!

We have 3 new releases today!

May 6th new releases

Chronic Illness: Walking by Faith by Esther Smith

96 pages | $9.99 | 31-Day Devotionals for Life | Mobi: $6.99 | ePub: $6.99

About

Is chronic illness taking over your heart as much as your body? Physical symptoms and limitations change all aspects of life, leading to losses and to unique challenges that are difficult to navigate. Writing from her own experience with these issues, Esther Smith focuses heavily on encouragement and practical application, showing you how to release guilt and shame, ask for help, balance work and rest, and get through days of difficult symptoms. Each day, you will be encouraged as you consider how God uses illness in sanctifying, kingdom-advancing ways to display his glory and work in your heart.

Endorsements

“You will no longer suffer alone as you take up the journey of walking with God in the pages of this book.”

—Eliza Huie, Director of Counseling, McLean Bible Church, DC Metropolitan Area; Dean of Biblical Counseling, Metro Baltimore Seminary 

“Speaks eloquently to chronic illness. . . . Gives hope and wisdom for all sufferers and for those who seek to care for them as well.”

—Andy Farmer, Pastor of Counseling and Care, Covenant Fellowship Church; Author, Real Peace: What We Long For and Where to Find It

“Simply outstanding. . . . Delivers an avalanche of hope as well as practical help about how to care for our bodies.”

—Dave Furman, Senior Pastor, Redeemer Church of Dubai; Author, Being There: How to Love Those Who Are Hurting and Kiss the Wave: Embracing God in Your Trials

“An exceptional devotional written by one who understands chronic illness. . . . A feast to savor and treasure!”

—Cindee Snider Re, Cofounder, Chronic Joy (chronic illness ministry); Author, Chronic Joy Thrive Series and Abide Series


Engagement: Preparing for Marriage by Mike McKinley

96 pages | $9.99 | 31-Day Devotionals for Life | Mobi: $6.99 | ePub: $6.99

About

Have your wedding plans crowded out the spiritual significance of your marital union? God created marriage as a picture that demonstrates his love and character—both to you and to those around you. Using daily devotional readings, reflection questions, and practical action points, Mike McKinley prepares your heart for the wonderful, sanctifying calling to love another person in a way that echoes God’s love for his people.

Endorsements

“Will recall, reinforce, refresh, and expand on relevant truths in an especially interesting and unique way.”

—Wayne Mack, Best-Selling Author, Preparing for Marriage God’s Way; Director, Association of Certified Biblical Counselors—Africa 

“The perfect premarital gift to offer to a newly engaged couple to help them to direct their gaze to what really makes marriage work: the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

—Jonathan D. Holmes, Pastor of Counseling, Parkside Church, Chagrin Falls, Ohio; Author, Counsel for Couples

“Argues that the key to marital success is to put the Lord first and to look to him, not marriage, to provide ultimate fulfillment.”

—Jim Newheiser, Director of the Christian Counseling Program and Associate Professor of Practical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary

“Provides biblical clarity concerning what marriage is and what husbands and wives are called by God to be and to do.”

—Nick Roark, Pastor, Franconia Baptist Church, Alexandria, Virginia; Coauthor, Biblical Theology


Marriage Conflict: Talking as Teammates by Steve Hoppe

104 pages | $9.99 | 31-Day Devotionals for Life | Mobi: $6.99 | ePub: $6.99

About

How we communicate with one another matters—especially in a marriage. The Bible reminds us to use words that build up our spouses, not tear them down. Whether your marriage is a verbal war zone or just needs a little help in the communication arena, both you and your spouse will benefit from the encouragement in these pages. This devotional is not a program to do better; it unveils how God helps you to be better. As you read through it as a team, meditating on Scripture, praying, and using the practical questions and action steps, you will learn to communicate with Christlike love, grow in holiness, and glorify God with your words.

Endorsements

“Of all the marriage books I’ve read, this one has swiftly risen to the top.”

—Scott Sauls, Senior Pastor, Christ Presbyterian Church, Nashville; Author, Jesus Outside the Lines and A Gentle Answer 

“Steve’s writing is thoughtful, engaging, and biblically rich. My married counselees will love this.”

—Ed Welch, Counselor and Faculty Member, Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation; Author, When People Are Big and God Is Small

“It will bring joy, laughter, and the peace of God to your marriage.”

—Rebekah Lyons, Author, Rhythms of Renewal and You Are Free

“Through a series of specific, concise, and thoughtful reflections, you will inevitably grow in your communication with your spouse.”

—Michael Keller, Lead Pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Lincoln Square, New York


Available now

Amazon

Christianbook.com

CVBBS

P&R

WTSBooks.com


Choose to Remember: What it Feels Like When Purpose is Undermined by Stephanie O. Hubach

Impossible as this future reality may seem from the vantage point of May 2020, there will come a day when the era of the COVID-19 pandemic feels like a distant memory. As with all memories, our recollections will fade, or our perspectives on this time will change as life progresses. As human beings, we do this all the time. Years after the experience, a mother’s memory softens about how incredibly difficult the labor and delivery of her baby was. By the time he has teenage sons, a father’s memory of how deeply self-conscious he felt in middle school has lost its edges. Even grandparents forget how to identify with the perpetually exhausting demands of caring for young children, day in and day out. Perhaps, this tendency is one of the reasons the Scripture regularly exhorts the people of God to actively choose to remember. This unique time in history affords us an opportunity to choose to remember—even before this current event is in our past. Even as we are in the throes of this season, we need to emblazon in our hearts and minds—with intentionality—what it feels like when one’s sense of purpose is undermined.

In the opening chapter of Genesis, we learn a lot about God’s purposes for humanity. The narrative calls us to remember who our Creator is, who we are and how we are wired as human beings. We are loved image-bearers of the living God; created to display his character in the world, through everything we do. Designed for living in relationship with God, self, others and nature—we are commissioned to apply our God-given gifts and abilities in ways that are creative, meaningful and beneficial. Deep purpose is to be found in participating in an interdependent, flourishing society where external human activity and engagement is internally directed by godly character. This is what we were made for.

Perhaps one of the many reasons this season of COVID-19 is so undoing to so many is because of how it has fractured our engagement with our divine purpose. Rather than living in interdependent relationships, we are isolated from almost all of the face-to-face relationships in our lives. Rather than exercising agency, we are limited by extreme amounts of uncertainty and highly limited resources. Rather than engaging in work that is creative, meaningful and beneficial many of us find ourselves unable to go to work, out of work, or unable to focus on work we do have available. Rather than moving about freely, we are restricted in our ability to enter into the world around us. As we squirm under these things, we begin to recognize, perhaps for the first time, how incredibly essential each of them is in fostering a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives. Access to relationships. Agency to make plans and act on them. Participation in fulfilling work. Freedom to go from place to place so that we might do all these things, and more.

Choose to remember. Remember what this feels like, because these same elements that you are most likely chafing against during the pandemic are everyday realities for many people with intellectual disabilities. Every. Single. Day. As the mom of an adult son with Down syndrome, I don’t say this in a snarky, sarcastic, “Welcome to my world!” kind of way. I say it gently. I say it with a sense of urgency. Everyone needs the opportunity to live a life of God-given purpose. Please. Remember what this feels like when purpose is undermined.

Someday, when this current crisis is past, and whatever your “new normal” is has a slightly worn and predictable cadence, please take time to circle back around to an individual with intellectual disabilities who you know. Ask them the following types of questions, and then think creatively and brainstorm with them about how you might support them in moving forward in some of these areas of their life.

  • Access to relationships: What do you need so that you will be able to spend time with those whose company you enjoy, those you’d like to learn from, those whom you can grow in your faith with, and those you’d like to help?
  • Agency in life: What do you need so that you can exercise God-given agency by having plans and goals and dreams for your life and acting on them?
  • Meaningful work: What do you need so that you can obtain regular work that is meaningful to you; where you are able to make your own unique contribution to God’s world? If you already have meaningful work, are there new skills you would like to learn or what new types of work would you like to try?
  • Freedom of movement: What do you need to get from place to place so that you might enjoy good relationships, act on your plans, and engage in the work that God has given you to do?

In closing, here’s one final thing to remember: that many people with intellectual disabilities are much better than those of us with “typical intelligence” at carrying God’s character into the world, to the degree that they have access to the world. Many people with intellectual disabilities know contentment, and possess gifts of encouragement, exercise trust freely, and continue to hope in the face of adversity. These are the very gifts they can offer to others, especially in fluid times such as these. Simple faith isn’t a lesser faith—it’s often a truer faith. My son who has Down syndrome, Tim, has a gift of praying in true faith through uncomplicated and beautiful prayers. At the dinner table one New Year’s Eve, he prayed: “Thank you for what you have done, and you bring the future to come alive tomorrow.” I think that prayer applies, more than ever, to those of us who are living through the COVID-19 pandemic right now. Let’s remember who God is, what he has done, and how the future is—and always has been—in his hands to “bring the future to come alive tomorrow.” The future will come alive again. And when it does, choose to remember. Circle back around to a friend with intellectual disabilities. Consider how you can offer support to expand their access to the world so that they might live out their divine purpose as well.

Stephanie O. Hubach,

author of Same Lake, Different Boat: Coming Alongside People Touched by Disability, Revised and Updated


Same Lake

Updated Edition


Author Interview with Esther Smith

This week’s author interview is with Esther Smith. She is the author of Chronic Illness: Walking by Faith in the 31-Day Devotionals for Life series. It releases May 6th.

  • Tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m originally from a small town in Western Pennsylvania and now live near Baltimore, MD. The first question people often ask me when I reveal this fact is if I’m a Steeler’s fan or a Raven’s fan. No and no. Fortunately for me, I don’t watch football.

I’m married to my husband, Ian, and we live with our two Italian mastiffs, Bug and Bella. I’m an unapologetic dog person. My dogs are my constant shadows and faithful stress relievers. I suggest only asking me about my dogs if you want to see pictures and hear anecdotes.

For work, I divide my days between counseling and writing. I work as a biblical counselor at Life Counseling Center Ministries, and also do some freelance writing for a company that focuses on wellness and preventative care for mental health. It truly feels like a privilege to spend my days in this way.

When I’m not spending time with my dogs, I enjoy all things food, coffee, and nature. Physical health problems have derailed my ability to be active outside in the ways I would like, so I live vicariously through shows like River Monsters and Man vs. Wild. If life had turned out differently, I might have been a culinary chef, an entomologist, or an adventure-based counselor, but some twists and turns have led me to where I am today, and I know this is where I am meant to be.

  • What inspired you to write this book, about this topic?

This book was definitely inspired by my personal experience with chronic illness. I first started writing about six years ago because I needed a way to process everything I was thinking and feeling as I adjusted to life with chronic health problems. I turned to Christian books on suffering and found I was not fully satisfied by their conclusions. Many books seemed to assume that suffering is always seasonal. This wasn’t my experience. What about suffering that remains for a lifetime?

This question and others led me to start a blog about some of the unique challenges of living with chronic illness. Thoughts I first processed on that blog eventually led to thoughts you will find in this book. I write because I want people who live with chronic illnesses to feel less alone and because I want to challenge the mentality that worth is gained through ability and productivity. I hope that comes across in this book.

  • What book are you reading now?

Right now I am reading Worthy: Celebrating the Value of Women by Elyse Fitzaptrick and Eric Schumacher. I’m three chapters in and very impressed!

  • At what time of day do you write most?

I do most of my writing in the morning, ideally before starting other types of work. Coffee first. Some time for reading and reflecting. Then, I try to start writing before checking my email, looking at social media, or reading the news. I’m not always successful at this, but I’m most productive when I start writing before my mind drifts to other things.

  • What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I would give the same advice many other people have already given. Write a lot and read a lot. Becoming a better writer happens through lots of practice and through exposing yourself to other peoples’ great writing over and over again.

  • What is your favorite food?

I love ramen, and I’m not talking about instant ramen. Fresh ramen noodles dowsed with a salty, spicy, garlicy sauce. Topped with stir-fried vegetables and a fried egg. Garnished with green onions, chili peppers, and lots of Sriracha. Bon appetite!

  • How can readers discover more about you and your work?

Pre-order Chronic Illness: Walking by Faith