Reading Roundup- February 2024

February’s reading roundup includes a bit of variety combined with several articles from Desiring God that really convicted me (Desiring God was rather rude to me this month!). I’m also rarely triggered by what I see on the internet, but the last article in this list made me want to punch something.

Without further ado, here they are:

Vetting Kids’ Entertainment Isn’t a One-and-Done

Brett McCracken

Media and screentime can be a hot button issue among parents. Full disclosure—we’ve chosen to go the extremely minimalist route and our kids get very little screentime (typically only 30 minutes per week). I’d love to write more on our approach and why we chose that method, but that’s a different article for a different time.

I realize that most families are not quite as extreme in their approach, which is why I appreciate McCracken’s article. As we and other families continuously reevaluate how we handle media and screens with our kids, McCracken gives some helpful guidelines that encourage parents to make that an ongoing conversation and process, that can guide us even through the teen years. Here is a key quote:

“Be concerned for the formative power of media on your soul too, and let that be part of the conversation with your kids.”

Texas’ Friday Night Lights through the lens of photographer Nash Pils

Dave Wilson

Give me a feel-good sports story, movie, video clip—all of it—any day of the week. Nash Pil is a high school junior and documentarian for his school’s sports programs. He also happens to have Down Syndrome. In this article, Dave Wilson documents Nash’s journey to becoming a beloved town celebrity and gifted photographer. The last line of the article may have made me tear up a bit.

Lazy Busy: Unmasking the Deadly Sin of Sloth

Tony Reinke
Desiring God

This article is almost 10 years old, but I only just discovered it this month. In it Reinke describes “the deadly sin of sloth” and kicks my tail in the process. Fortunately, there is hope for the comfort-junkie: God loves us enough to remove the comforts we crave to make room for our joy to be rooted in Christ instead. Reinke writes:

“The sloth is a comfort control freak — an illusion of power that robs all our true joy… When we get overly comfortable with something, we start to sink into spiritual slumber. And then lightning falls from the sky. The comfort is taken away, and we are jolted back to spiritual alertness.”

Worse Than Any Affliction: Why I Refuse to Grumble

Joni Eareckson Tada
Desiring God

This article has lived rent-free in my head since I read it. If anyone has a reason to grumble, it’s Tada. No one would blame her for it. Further, how often do we consider complaint to be really that bad? Tada provides a different perspective. She decribes the grievous sin of complaint and refuses to grumble for two reasons. First, because of what Christ endured to set her free and reconcile her to God. Second, so as not to diminish the spiritual walk of those around her. I so appreciate Tada for helping me become more aware of my own grumbling spirit. I probably highlighted half of the article. She writes:

“I will not coddle anything that helped drive the nails deeper. I relinquished my right to complain so that I might glorify Almighty God through my hardships. Anything less shrinks my soul.”

Start the Day Happy in God: The Lost Art of Bible Meditation

David Mathis
Desiring God

I told you Desiring God had my number this month. This is another that I’ve dwelled on every day since I read it. David Mathis dispels the myth that our thoughts, desires, and feelings cannot be shaped over time. It’s a necessary departure from the common notion that “casts ourselves as the victim of a sluggish heart.” Many of us are simply too lazy to do the hard work of “meditating to the point of delight.”

David Mathis encourages his readers not to be so easily defeated by negative or lazy feelings in our spiritual life. Instead, he exhorts us to:

“Wrestle with your own sluggish soul. Direct it. Turn it. Grapple with it until it does what it’s supposed to do, and feels more like it’s supposed to feel about the wonders and horrors of the word of God.”

The Improbable Love Story Behind Alpha’s Origins

Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra

I first heard about the Alpha course a few years ago when our church in Houston began looking at the possibility of implementing Alpha in its small group ministry. I had no idea how long Alpha had been around, much less the story behind its origins. I found this a very pleasant and interesting read.

The Idol of Competence

Reagan Rose
Redeeming Productivity

If there was an article that poked on one of my biggest idols, this would be it. I had to grapple with this particular idol even more this month, with several big projects due for work, several side projects that came up, and a lot of life stuff in between. To cope, I’ve grasped hard to remain outwardly competent and productive, even if inwardly I’m anxious and emotional. Rose provided a helpful reminder for these last few weeks:

“If you came to Christ naked and empty-handed to receive His grace, why are you living the rest of your life as though your value depends on what you have to offer?… If you wish to smash the idol of competence in your life, your first, only, and ongoing task is to fix your eyes on Jesus Christ”

A Marketplace of Girl Influencers Managed by Moms and Stalked by Men

Jennifer Valentino-DeVries and Michael H. Keller
New York Times

I included a similar article last month, but that’s because I think that articles like this are so important. They bring to light the effects that social media, and particularly influencer culture, are having on our children. To be quite honest, this article infuriated me—and not because the article itself exists but because of the exploitation of children described in it. So I’ll keep my hot-take commentary to myself and just recommend that you read it, despite how uncomfortable it might make you feel.

You can find previous roundups here.