Topic: Life in Christ

Key Connections

Key Connections (August 10, 2018)

Here are your Key Connections for the week! Isn’t The Bible Full of Errors? (John Piper, Desiring God) A sermon (and audio transcript) by John Piper in which he discusses the history of the Scriptures, ancient Roman texts, why he thinks “it’s probably just as well that we don’t have those […]

keep on pedaling

Keep on Pedaling

The doctor said, “The child has severe hemophilia.” In the crib looking up at me with charming brown eyes lay a beautiful baby boy. A “severe” hemophiliac. My son. Emotions swirled. “Are you sure?” I asked, feeling pathetic in the doctor’s eyes. “Yes,” he responded. Most things in life happen […]


What Is Freedom? How Do We Become Free?

As a culture, we want to feel that we are in control of our lives, and especially that we are in control of the things that matter most. That includes our salvation. You hear this all the time on the talk shows: “You can be anything you want to be.” […]

Key Connections

Key Connections (June 15, 2018)

What Are You Waiting For? (Jon Bloom, Desiring God) It might feel to us like the things we’re waiting on God for are the main things. But someday we might discover that the most important fruit ever produced in our lives came from faithfully doing good while we waited. Jen Wilkin […]

10 Practical Ways to Treasure Christ

I often look back on my day with regret. I think of the many minutes gone to waste in the form of mindless scrolls or swipes, and the hours spent with eyes glued to a screen. A fellow youth leader posed a question to our senior high girls recently that […]

God's Will

The Only Way You Can Do God’s Will

I can’t. Our culture despises those two little words. Hatred for weakness and inadequacy is why we tell our kids never to say, “I can’t.” It’s why we love the inspiring words of Thomas the Tank Engine: “Yes, you can!” The belief that we’re capable of anything, if we set […]

God is working

God Is Working Through Your Waiting

Waiting is a common pattern in my life. Waiting for graduation, for work, for a boyfriend, for a trip, for an idea, for the next big thing. And I find this terribly inconvenient. I am a full-throttle go-getter who wants to move from thing to thing with speed and efficiency, […]

A Little Book on the Christian Life

Book Briefs: A Little Book on the Christian Life

Editor’s Note: Today we continue our new series, “Book Briefs,” to help you stock your reading pile with excellent, gospel-centered books. Tim Augustyn, our Pastor of Ministry Resources, shares a brief summary of titles he’s read, along with his favorite quotations from each. We hope “Book Briefs” will help and […]


What’s Wrong With Self-Condemnation?

It’s been a hard day. You’re finally sitting down on the couch; the lights are dimmed and the curtains are shut for the night. Everything has stilled; and though the house is quiet, it’s not peaceful. As you hug your cup of lukewarm coffee to your chest, the voices begin […]

Key Connections

Key Connections (May 11, 2018)

Pastor, Don’t Avoid Uncomfortable Topics (Brett McCracken, The Gospel Coalition) …the whole counsel of God—revealed to us in his Word—is challenging to preach. But preach it we must. Otherwise, we as pastors have the blood of our congregations on our hands (Acts 20:26). Does the New Testament Misquote the Old Testament? (Peter Krol, Knowable […]


Make a Fool of Yourself

April 1 exploits them. The book of Proverbs warns against them. The Apostle Paul says to become one— But how exactly do we become fools for Christ? I must confess that, while it can be fun with the right people, April Fool’s Day has never been my favorite holiday. It’s […]


The 3-5 Method: Studying God’s Word When You’re Tired and Busy

If you clicked on this article, you’re likely struggling with consistent time in God’s Word. In any given season, a myriad of factors can keep us from reading the Bible: limited time, guilt, a lack of discipline, a lack of desire, unrealistic expectations of what time in the Word should […]

Christian life

The Twin Tracks of the Christian Life

The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, NIV) The apostle Paul describes the Christian life as “the life I live in the body,” but Paul says that he lives this life […]

sermon clip

Where Can I Go With My Shame?

Video Transcript: Where can I go with my shame? That is the question. The answer does not lie in a new story of loving yourself. The answer lies in the great story of the Son of God who loved you and gave himself for you. There is a love outside […]

spiritual disciplines

Don’t Lose Spiritual Disciplines for Fear of Legalism

In 2015, I was given the incredible opportunity of participating in a 16-week course taught by Colin Smith alongside of a few other guest speakers. During one of these sessions, I was struck by a statement made by Pastor Colin. He said, Don’t let the fear of legalism rob you of […]


Salvation and Purpose in Five Little Words

“But” is my favorite word in the Bible. Throughout Scripture we see “but God,” or “but Christ,” or “but when…” Something was lost, but now it’s found. Someone was dead, but is now alive. A person was blind, but now can see. There was no way, but God made a […]


Freedom from Perfectionism

Have you ever re-folded the towels because someone put the laundry away badly? Are you silently judging other parents when their children throw tantrums? Do you feel like you’re always behind, frustrated when you don’t complete a project to your own impossible standards? If so, you may be suffering from […]

Key Connections

Key Connections (September 15, 2017)

4 Lies that Cause Pastors to Neglect their Families (Jamie Owens, 9 Marks) Among young pastors and church planters, there’s no less than a deluge of pressure to give every waking moment to our churches, to the neglect of our families. But brothers, it should never be so. We Should Always Take […]


When Your Opportunities and Influence Fade

I recently spoke with a man who was the chairman of our church 15 years ago. For two years, he was the man to whom I was accountable. At the time, he had his own business and with it, a wide sphere of influence. Today, his world is smaller. His […]

Key Connections

Key Connections (August 16, 2017)

You Can’t Love Missions Without Loving the Local Church (Caleb Greggsen, 9Marks) First, there’s a dreadful tendency for both “stayers” and “goers” (at least the young ones) to question motives of the other “side.” Second, missionary zeal and love for the local church should not be competing affections in our heart. […]

Key Connections

Key Connections (August 10, 2017)

Three Surprising Ways Bible Reading with My Kids Has Changed Me (Jon Nielson, Tim Challies) There are plenty of distractions and reasons why reading the Bible with my three young kids is hard. But I’m convinced that the best thing I can do for my children is expose them to the […]


Are You Living the Dream?

Maybe you (or someone you know) is “livin’ the dream.” As the phrase has become more mainstream, I’ve quietly wondered, What on earth does it mean? I may live a sheltered life in the suburbs of Chicago, but lately I’ve heard at least three versions of “livin’ the dream,” which […]

Key Connections

Key Connections (July 20, 2017)

Selfless or Self-Centered? What Kind of Servant Are You? (Kale Uzzle, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship) If you scan through the Bible’s vast array of stories, proverbs, and instructions regarding servanthood, there are three questions that distinguish the real thing from a false co-opting of servanthood. Praying Together as Mentoring and Discipleship […]

faith is shaken

When Your Faith Is Shaken

What makes you question your faith? A crisis, chronic condition, daily drudgery, or something else? If you experience a season when your faith is shaken, you’re not alone. At least three Bible heroes faced a crisis of faith. In each case, Christ intervened and transformed dark moments of questioning, cynicism, […]

sermon clip

Don’t Follow Your Heart

Video Notes: Our culture is constantly encouraging us to “live in the moment.” If that means to be fully present and engaged in whatever you are doing, rather than being distracted, this is a good thing. But I have noticed this phrase being often used by people who are clearly […]


15 Marks of a Disciple of Jesus

Christianity is not a club. Jesus does not want cheerleaders or groupies. Following Christ is not about T-shirts, slogans, or hashtags. Jesus calls us to be children of his Father. He calls us to be his disciples. Because Jesus has a unique role in God’s plan of salvation, he is […]

Key Connections

Key Connections (June 1, 2017)

Do You Resent the Life God Gave You? (Sarah Walton, Desiring God) If we try to make sense of our circumstances, or compare our circumstances to others’, we will inevitably feel like we drew the short straw. 4 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor (Trevor Forbis, Chuck Lawless) I have found four easy ways […]


Six Great Devotionals to Read This Summer

Summer often feels like an emotional reset. We slow down and collectively catch our breaths, snatching a respite from the rat race. We pause from the frenetic pace of our daily lives in the seasonal shift, moving from the hurried speed of spring to the lazier, longer days of summer. […]

good news

The Good News for All Time

Jesus. If he isn’t the epitome of good news for all humanity, hope is undoubtedly lost. Thankfully, our hope in the Savior is not misplaced or misguided, as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John record the life, death, and resurrection of the risen King of Kings so we, like those throughout […]

God's love

Six Ways to Respond to God’s Steadfast Love

Driving the Pennsylvania Turnpike can be rough, especially when you’re tired. The hills and farms all look the same, and it’s easy to get lulled to sleep by the endless pattern of signs: speed limit, exit, service plaza; speed limit, exit, service plaza. Many of us read Psalm 136 this […]

walk by faith

Walk by Faith When Things Get Worse

Jacob limped forward and bowed again. It was hard to get up; his hip was still pained from the previous night’s struggle. With every step that brought him closer to his brother, he became more terrified. Last night, this fear caused him to send everyone else across the river and […]


Three Keys to Abide in Christ

“Abide in me, and I in you.” (John 15:4) Christianity is about far more than holding right beliefs or adopting right behaviors. At salvation, we enter into a union with God that changes our legal status. We have right standing with God now. We have a righteousness that comes by […]

Good Shepherd

Forsake Sin by Following the Good Shepherd

Seeing the people, [Jesus] felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36, NASB) Brothers and sisters, the fight against sin feels prolonged and arduous in this life—doesn’t it? We grow in one area, only to meet the next depravity in ourselves […]

God's love

Three Ways to Experience More of God’s Love

Is it possible to fully understand the immensity of God’s love? The Bible tells us repeatedly that God loves us and has given us plenty of evidence to back up his words. He created us. He created a marvelous world in which we are called to create. He provides for […]

Should I Give Up Something for Lent

Should I Give Up Something for Lent?

“Would you like half my brownie?” “No thanks,” my friend said. “I’ve given up sugar for Lent.” Guilt pinched my heart. I glanced around my church’s fellowship hall, filled with folks enjoying their meal. How many of them had also sacrificed something for Lent? I’d never given up anything during […]

Does God Just Tolerate me

Does God Just Tolerate Me?

I have some close friends at church who are grandparents. For them, the cliché is true—they are over the moon about their grandchildren! My friends would move mountains to spend time with their grandchildren. They soak up every moment of each visit and anticipate the next. They delight in their […]

Key Connections

Key Connections (March 8, 2017)

The Shack — The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment (Al Mohler, Albert Mohler) The popularity of this book among evangelicals can only be explained by a lack of basic theological knowledge among us — a failure even to understand the Gospel of Christ. 5 Reasons You Desperately Need Your Bible (Kristen Wetherell, For The Church) […]

secret to being content

The Secret to Being Content

Desire is an interesting thing. Some desires are good. I desire to be more disciplined in prayer. I desire to be quicker to listen and slower to speak. Yet other desires are laced with sin. I desire the praise of man. I also desire the security of a bigger paycheck. […]

Key Connections

Key Connections (February 22, 2017)

Love the Church You’re With, Not the Church of Your Dreams (Ricky Alcantar, The Blazing Center) You may find that some of the things you long for begin to be more evident…Or you may find that God changes your heart to appreciate what’s already there. God Uses Our Work—Even Cleaning Milk […]


Three Keys to Decision-Making

“I should’ve signed up to help with junior high Sunday school!” I whined to my husband. I had just heard about some new girls who were coming to the church, and I thought it would be great to connect with their families and welcome them. My husband wisely reminded me […]

fear the future

What to Do When You Fear the Future

Have you ever felt like you don’t know what to do next? Like you’re at a crossroad? You feel stuck, like you’re paralyzed, insecure and unsure of your next step. Do you ever fear the future because you have no idea what you’re supposed to do? I have, and the feeling […]


Your Battle with Sleep

I’ve always been a good sleeper. While some people spend their nights tossing and turning, I do not. Or at least I didn’t—until a year ago. Shortly after my third child was born I began struggling with insomnia. I would go to bed exhausted, only to stare at the clock […]

Key Connections

Key Connections (January 4, 2017)

Bible Reading Plans for 2017 (Nathan W. Bingham, Ligonier Ministries) Many Christians take the beginning of a new year to evaluate their Bible reading habits, and then change or begin a Bible reading plan….For your convenience, we’ve compiled a list of Bible reading plans for you to choose from. Do We Expect More […]

put away childish things

Should Christians Be Like Children, or Put Away Childish Things?

Jesus said the kingdom of God belongs to those who are like children, but Paul stated that grown-ups must put away childish things. So in what ways are believers to be like children? In what ways are we not? Infantile Believers When I was a child, I spoke and thought […]


How God Fulfilled His Own Promise at Christmas

Imagine nothing. It is almost impossible. But before the creation there was nothing, except God. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1) In schools, we challenge our children’s creativity by giving them materials to work with: “See what you can do with this,” we say. But […]

Seven Good Books for Kids (and Their Grown-Ups)

It’s a great day for Christian children’s literature. Theologically sound authors are joining forces with incredible illustrators to create books for kids with the truth, stimulation, and whimsy necessary to reach a child’s heart and mind. Part of my wonderful job is to find the best ones. Here are seven […]

Key Connections

Key Connections (December 7, 2016)

Are You Ready for Persecution? (Jordan Standridge, The Cripplegate) …those who have been persecuted are more mature. They seem to evangelize more, to say no to sin more often and to be an encouragement to those around them. The Unseen Misery of Dec 25th (Tim Thornborough, The Good Book Company) We’ve been […]


Seven Blessings for Empty-Handed Believers

Empty-handedness is where the blessing of God begins. People who feel they have something to offer God come to him with their hands full, but as long as our hands are full, we are not in a position to receive. As Thomas Watson says, “If the hand is full of pebbles, it […]

pastor colin smith

Q&A: How Pastor Colin Smith Unlocks the Bible

Christian Union: The Magazine recently interviewed Pastor Colin about the importance of Bible reading, tools to unlock the Bible, and the significance of Bible reading for our nation. Read the full interview here. When did your passion for the Word of God begin, and what has it meant in your own […]

college students

How College Students Can Prioritize the Bible

Whether we’re ready or not, back-to-school season is upon us. Summer days are melting into autumn chill. Backpacks are full-price again. Dorm halls are disaster zones. And books are everywhere. We have boxes and bags of new textbooks, shelves sagging under the weight of required reading, millions of words we’ll […]

Why Is Sound Doctrine So Important?

Shortly after placing a saving faith in Jesus Christ, I posted a quote to Facebook from a well-known, worldwide preacher. Later I received a message in my inbox from a Christian friend. She encouraged me to research this man and his Christian teaching before “following” him further. In my immaturity, […]

why you need the bible

Five Reasons You Desperately Need Your Bible

Why is Bible reading important? Most Christians know they should read their Bibles. But often, our Bible reading can feel dry and insignificant. Why is it so important for us to read this book? What’s the urgency of it? Ruth and Naomi’s story in the Old Testament reveals some urgent […]

walking by the Spirit

How Do You Know If You Are Walking by the Spirit?

Walk by the Spirit, Paul tells the believers in Galatians 5:16. Sure. Easier said than done. How do I know when my actions are Spirit-driven and when they are not? We human beings are quite capable of convincing ourselves that we’re living by the Spirit when we’re not even close to doing so. […]

The Cure for Perfectionism

But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit. (Romans 7:6) Romans 7 is the cure for perfectionism. Some of you live under a crushing burden. Let me try to describe what […]

making tough decisions

Three Steps to Making Tough Decisions

We all follow leaders. The question is, who’s leading? Most of us follow some combination of our peers, people we admire, advertising, media outlets, and most importantly for Christians, Jesus. As a Christian, my desire is to follow Jesus more closely and to let other influences fade. I don’t kid myself that I can […]

examining your life

10 Questions for Examining Your Life

With the re-release of The 10 Greatest Struggles of Your Life next month, our writing team begins a series of articles on each of the Ten Commandments in July and August! Examining your life is essential to your growth as a Christian believer. Seeing your own sins and failings will make it possible […]

why was Jesus baptized

Why Was Jesus Baptized?

The matter of Jesus’ baptism can be confusing for some people. If Jesus was perfect, and John was baptizing with water for repentance (Matthew 3:11), then why was Jesus baptized? He didn’t have anything to repent of! Yet, in Matthew 3:15, Jesus says to John, “Let it be so now, for thus it […]

20 Verses About God’s Plan for Your Welfare, Future, and Hope

Who doesn’t want a happy and successful life? It’s what we love about the American Dream. Work hard enough and you can enjoy many prosperous and comfortable days. While there is nothing wrong with hard work and nice things, many who have faith in Jesus Christ have confused the plans […]

God's calling

The Mysterious Nature of God’s Calling

It had to happen in a classroom filled with students. The difficult question was asked: “What should I look for in a personal call?” This question is important because we often are attracted to profound stories of God calling people. In that moment, I honestly stuttered. The question was real, […]

renewing your mind

Five Steps to Renewing Your Mind

What does your stream of consciousness sound like? There are words floating through my mind at all times; some are good and purposeful, and others are not. My mental monologue generally contains too much self-focused and self-defeating babble. “What a stupid thing to say!” (Imaginary palm to the forehead.) “Did she just ignore […]

Transformed by christ

Five Hallmarks of Being Transformed by Christ

Transform: “To change completely or essentially in composition or structure”[1] Do you think that’s possible? Maybe for a caterpillar. But what about for you and me? What about that neighbor who blares music late at night, the colleague who takes credit for your work, or the relative who belittles you […]


The Wasteland of More What

More. Within each human spirit, a whispery voice urges, “More.” And the chronic itch that we can’t reach is more of what? Philosophers say more knowledge. Hedonists say more pleasure. Scientists say more answers. Merchandisers say more stuff. King Solomon asked that question: More what? And he tried all those […]

God's presence

What the Gift of God’s Presence Means for Us

A sitting silently at the feet of Jesus is of more worth than all the clatter of Martha’s dishes. (C. H. Spurgeon) It was a rare occasion. My husband and I were home on a Saturday, with nothing to do, so I decided to get caught up on some chores. […]

bonds of Jesus

Seeing Beauty in the Bonds of Jesus

It is remarkable to me that the Gospel writers have preserved for us a record of three separate moments that our Savior was bound by his enemies and led through the streets before his crucifixion. First, in the garden, John 18:12-13 says “…they arrested Jesus and bound him. First they […]

surrender to God

What It Means to Surrender to God

The act of surrendering is very difficult for those who realize that the battle is lost. In his book No Surrender: My Thirty-Year War, Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda tells a fascinating tale of being one of the last Japanese-born soldiers to surrender in World War II. Onoda had been stationed on […]

God still speaks

God Still Speaks, But Are You Listening?

Through church history and even among our varied denominations, people often use words like, “The Lord spoke to me,” or “I heard the Spirit say,” and still yet, “I have this feeling that the Lord…” I am struck by these comments. They presuppose one thing: God still speaks. Speaking and […]

deceitfulness of riches

The Deceitfulness of Riches: Five Diagnostic Questions

And others are sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. (Mark 4:18-19) When Jesus describes the thorns that choke the […]


Bible Q&A: Is It Stealing to Look for the Lowest Price?

Question: Pastor Colin said in one of his sermons that stealing is trying to get as much as possible while giving as little as possible. So, if I fill up at the gas station with the lowest price, is that stealing? Answer: This is Pastor Tim from Unlocking the Bible. Thank you […]

Seven Steps to Making the Best Decision

The Lord, in his goodness, has given us decisions to make in our daily lives. Some of those decisions seem relatively insignificant—like what to eat or how to cut our hair. But the constant barrage of choices can be stressful. Especially perplexing is the choice between multiple good options—when a […]

God's Purpose

Our Plans, God’s Purpose, and Faith

January is a logical time to think about plans, goals, and dreams. I’m more motivated to make changes in my life in January than I am in April or October. To live fruitful lives it’s healthy to make plans and to pursue our dreams by achieving goals. But how does one’s faith in God […]

all things new

Three Ways God Makes All Things New

New is great. New sounds like potential and opportunity…unless I think about it too much. Then it sounds like change and the unknown. As this new year begins, I’ve promised myself that instead of fearing the unknown I will choose to hope in the known. So what is known about […]


Resolutions: Good Intentions or Real Actions?

“This year is going to be different,” I say, as I roll up my headphones and look for my gym key card, which I had not used for the last two months. I find it shoved in my glove compartment and play “This Is My Fight Song” as I head […]

fullness of Christ

Drained? Receive the Fullness of Christ

Christmas can leave a good number of people feeling more empty than full. And not only Christmas but many aspects of life. Parenting children. Budgeting monthly finances. Maintaining a healthy, vibrant marriage. Making appointments on time. Meeting the boss’ expectations. Running errands within a packed schedule. Caring for family and […]

Christmas gift idea

The Complete Christmas Gift Idea Guide

While you make your lists and check them twice this Christmas, consider the gift of God’s Word for your friends, family members, coworkers, and neighbors. From Bibles to devotionals to books to studies and more, our Online Store has a wide selection of biblical resources for all your gift-giving needs. […]

What Does It Really Mean to Be Blessed?

I often hear statements such as, “I am so blessed to have three healthy children!” or “I received the promotion that I’ve been waiting for…I feel so blessed!” or “We just bought the home of our dreams. We are incredibly blessed!” or “We are blessed to live in a country […]


When Freedom Is Actually Slavery

In many ways and on various holidays, our nation celebrates freedom. Freedom to worship God in public places without restrictions, freedom to believe various worldviews, freedom of speech, freedom to vote and participate in democracy – the list goes on and on. Praise God for the United States of America, […]

in exile

Four Keys to Living Faithfully in Exile

We have all known seasons of exile, in one form or another. Perhaps you’ve found yourself stuck in a geographical location, and every circumstance — no matter how hard you’ve tried to escape — seemed to hold you there. Maybe you’ve seen all your hopes, dreams, and plans go terribly awry. […]

God's will

God’s Will for Your Life

Many of us are desperate to know the will of God for our lives. There are so many decisions to make and none of the answers seem clear. Where should I go to college? What kind of career should I pursue? Should I keep the job that I have? Should […]

The Trouble with Listening to Ourselves

I had hit a wall. I was exhausted and could see no rest coming anytime soon. I was feeling overwhelmed by the ongoing demands and opportunities of ministry, both at work and at home, and frustrated in light of things I wanted to do but couldn’t. Things such as: Accompanying […]

By-the-Brook Experiences and Mount Carmel Moments

God can do anything he wants to do. He is all-powerful, almighty.He created all that is, and he holds it all together. He has the power to take away your most troublesome problem or to bless you beyond your wildest dreams. However, God does not choose to do either of […]

less stuff

Less Stuff, More God

“Just simplify your life. Then you will be happy.” I often hear those words strung throughout social media, whether in a new Facebook challenge to get rid of “forty bags in forty days” or an article sharing the latest organization tips and tricks. There is even a book on the […]

God's voice

You’ve Already Heard God’s Voice

“God told me…” I have to confess something. I’ve grown up in the church all my life, but I have never heard God’s voice audibly. That’s not to say that I doubt others have heard a word or a whisper from our Heavenly Father and that it has been sincere. […]


Learning the Art of Contentment…and Discontentment

However much you have, there are others who have more. However little you have, there are others who have less. All of us have more than some other people. All of us have less than some other people. However much or little God has trusted to you, there will be […]

freedom in Christ

The Glorious Privilege of Freedom in Christ

There’s no such thing as freedom — at least not in the sense that we can do whatever we please without restraint or consequence. That’s been Satan’s lie since the Garden of Eden: “Sure, Eve, you can eat the forbidden fruit. Then you can do whatever you want to do […]


How the Gospel Redeems Our Past

Whether we became a Christian at a young age or took every wrong road before surrendering our lives to Christ, we all have a past. While each of our blessings and struggles are unique, every person carries baggage to some degree: a missed opportunity, a wrong decision with devastating consequences, victimization in one form or […]