Longtime readers of my column know that I usually take the month of July off from writing, in order to give more time to reading and reflection and to get ahead on other projects and responsibilities that come my way. This year—in order to give my best to the excellent LifeWay team that I have the privilege of overseeing, and in order to keep my focus on my primary calling as husband and father—I believe it’s best for me to take advantage of my normal July break from writing. As always, thank you for reading my work and praying for my heart.

Seven of the best articles I came across this week:

1. Celeste Headlee – The Mistake I Made with My Grieving Friend. “Conversational Narcissism.” A mistake that is so easy to make. I’ve done this. I’ve had it done to me. Here’s why we should avoid this temptation every time we want to empathize with someone in grief.

2. Steve Bezner – On Being Matt Chandler’s RoommateThis is a story about two young men who were friends, roommates, and pastors. In other words, this is a story about jealousy.

3. Bruce Ashford – Marxism: A False Religion That Cannot Deliver On Its PromisesBruce and I have both spent significant time in formerly Communist countries that were ravaged by this philosophy. Here is Bruce’s take on the religious element of the ideology.

4. Yascha Mounk – Republicans Don’t Understand Democrats—And Democrats Don’t Understand RepublicansA new study shows Americans have little understanding of their political adversaries—and education doesn’t help.

5. Irenaeus of Lyon: Passionate Apologist to the Gnostics. Excitement over who God is and what he has done in Christ stands, for Irenaeus, as the basis of the Christian’s way of life—a life that is marked by grateful obedience, love, and exuberance.

6. Cameron McAllister – HBO’s Chernobyl and the Communal Nature of Sin. Chernobyl is an excellent show, but a large part of its massive cultural resonance has to do with its emphasis on the net effect of human sin—the disproportionately catastrophic results of seemingly small errors.

7. Sophia Lee – A New Old RealityAs the internet fuels extremism, American Jews are increasingly becoming targets of an ancient hatred