It has been a joy to lead LifeWay Voices. When Voices was just an idea in January 2018, I never imagined it coming to fruition like it has. I hope it has been a blessing and a helpful resource for you.
Our work at Voices is really just a manifestation of the larger mission of LifeWay Christian Resources.
Our goal is simply to provide you with free, helpful, trustworthy content that you can consult as you navigate the world around you as a follower of Christ.
I love reading the various top 10 lists websites post this time of year, so I thought we should make our own! Here are the top 10 most-read LifeWay Voices blog posts since we launched in September.
Happy New Year!
By Bruce Ashford
In the long run, this ideological movement and the power-brokers, professional agitators, lobbies, and corporations who promote it will harm not only society at large but also vulnerable individuals who are experiencing gender dysphoria.
As the great sociologist Philip Rieff argued, American society is in the midst of an unprecedented experiment in building society apart from religion. One of the primary ways we’ve done this is by overthrowing the Judeo-Christian view of sex and gender. By untethering sex from marriage, we have enabled the normalization of hard core pornography, extramarital affairs, explosive growth of STDs, death of 60 million babies in the womb, and a divorce epidemic. And by severing gender identity from God-given sex, we will likewise reap a psychological, social, cultural, and political whirlwind.
By Katie Orr
[Your pastor] is learning. He is growing. He will fail (again and again and again).
Your pastor’s best will never be enough, but the good news is that he doesn’t need to be Superman. Our hope as churchgoers ought not to be in our pastor’s performance. Our hope for life change, church growth, and the advancement of God’s kingdom is in God Himself.
So, perhaps the greatest gift you can give your pastor this month (and every month) is some careful, humble soul-searching and making the choice to change your perspective when it comes to all things church.
By Trevin Wax
Why do so many Christians start with a strong commitment and yet lose their way when reading the Bible? One reason may be that we have too high of an expectation of what we will feel every day when we read. We know this is God’s Word and that He speaks to us through this Book, and yet so many times, when we’re reading the assigned portion of Scripture for the day, it all feels so, well, ordinary. We read a story, note a couple of interesting things, don’t see how it applies to our lives today, and then move on. By the time we near the end of the first books of the Bible, we’ve gone through extensive instructions on how to build the tabernacle, or how the sacrificial system is to be implemented, or a book of Numbers that is aptly titled. We read the daily portion of Scripture, put down our pencil or highlighter and wonder, “Why don’t I feel like my life is changing?”
By Trillia Newbell
One of the hardest things a survivor of sexual assault ever does is say these words out loud: I have been a victim of sexual assault. People do not share they are victims of sexual abuse or assault because shame and unwarranted guilt that often plagues them. So when someone tells you this deeply personal part of their story, you must be ready to listen and care without any hint of accusations.
Women in particular are blamed for their assaults. I’ve heard women share with me some of the terribly hurtful and preposterous words said to them, such as: “You were too friendly.” “You shouldn’t have been wearing that.” “You shouldn’t have been in the room with him in the first place.” Accusations such as these aren’t only inappropriate; they are soul crushing and damaging. You cannot eliminate shame but you can reduce it by being conscientious of how you react and respond. Tell her it’s not her fault. She did not make him assault, harass, or abuse her. He is responsible for his actions.
By Trevin Wax
Bible reading plans can help you grow as a follower of Christ. They guide you through reading the Bible, so that you can see God’s plan for this world and why it matters.
An intentional Bible reading plan also helps you stay committed. The regular cadence of reading, studying and applying God’s Word will help you develop Bible reading as a habit — something you work into your everyday routine.
Going through a reading plan makes sure that you don’t just camp out on your favorite Bible passages. Some of the stories in the Bible will surprise you. Some passages may puzzle you. Some verses you’ve never seen before will jump off the page. The element of surprise as you read through the entire Bible is one of the great reasons you should consider a reading plan.
By Joshua Straub
Research from two psychologists just last year, suggest that lying to our children about Santa Claus could expose our children to “abject disappointment.”
As Kathy McKay, co-author of the study, said: “The Santa myth is such an involved lie, such a long-lasting one, between parents and children, that if a relationship is vulnerable, this may be the final straw. If parents can lie so convincingly and over such a long time, what else can they lie about?”
If you go along with the Santa tradition like most families do, take heart. I’m grateful my parents went along with Santa. But I also think we should pay attention to the research, and take some caution.
By Micah Fries
Before we go any further it’s important to note that whether we celebrate Halloween or not is not a question that is morally certain in scripture. I didn’t realize this growing up in a more strict environment. In my childish mind it was pretty clear; those who celebrated Halloween were bad, and those who didn’t were good. As I have grown and understood the gospel more fully, and studied the Bible more thoroughly, I realize that, first of all, there is no such thing as good and bad people. We are all bad. Every last one of us. Thankfully our badness doesn’t keep us out of heaven; disbelief does.
Beyond that, though, it’s also clear that engagement in celebrations like Halloween are areas where our conviction, based on scriptural principles, needs to guide us. Much like what school our kids should attend, and whether we should watch certain movies, celebrating Halloween is a question of conviction and people who love Jesus will come down on both sides of this equation, and that’s ok. What’s not ok is determining that your conviction has to be shared by everyone else and then equating moral good or evil based on adherence to your personal conviction.
By Mark Dance
If you want to treat your pastor by feeding him, consider a gift card with multiple restaurant options. This doubles the impact of your blessing by allowing him to share that blessing with his family.
Every pastor is unique, and I do not speak for all of them, but the fact that you read all the way to the end of this article means that you care enough to do your homework. Thank you for blessing your pastor in any way this month—or any time of the year.
“Dear friend, you are showing faithfulness by whatever you do for the brothers” (3 John 1:5).
By Katie Orr
Five years ago this month, I lost my 29 year old brother to a drug overdose. The moment I heard the devastating news will be etched on my soul forever. The last time I saw my brother James alive was in July of that year. That hot summer day I never would have guessed the next time I laid eyes on him he would be lying lifeless—cold in a casket. Up until that moment, the news of his death felt like nightmare I would wake up from soon. Surreal. Yet, when I walked into the funeral parlor with my parents and remaining two siblings, we saw the proof of his departure. Death indeed had come. All that remained of James was his decaying physical body.
Together we said our individual goodbyes to James. One by one we approached the casket to utter our final words. On my turn, with the feeling of his cold forehead fresh on my lips, a deep and desperate anguish rose up within me that longed to pick him up by the shoulders and shake him awake. I wanted to beat his chest and demand him to breathe again. Instead, I pulled myself away from his body and whispered my last “I love you.” Through tear-clouded vision we stood there— looking at and longing for our James —the last time as a family of 6.
By Lore Ferguson Wilbert
Nestled among a long list of exhortations and blessings in 1 Thessalonians is a line we’ll see in plenty this month. Distressed on barn wood at your local craft store, printed on banners hung in the dining room, embossed on the ceramic plate the turkey is served on, and rife in sermons everywhere, “Give thanks in everything,” is the rally cry of November. But, like Aunt Jane’s consistently overcooked turkey, the truncated statement can also leave a dry taste in our mouths.
Gratitude will be on the rise for the next two months, followed by a sharp decline on January first when we resolve to change all the things our mere gratitude couldn’t change: love-handles, schedules, relationships, the project we’ve been putting off. There’s nothing like a full serving of gratitude to show us just how many things exist for which we’re still not thankful. We will give thanks for everything except all the things for which we’re still bent on changing.