About Barbara Harper

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Your Soul Needs Food Even When It Doesn’t Want It

Your Soul needs food even when it doesn't want it

You’re sick. Your sinuses are inflamed, your throat is raw, your nose is red, drippy, and chafing. You have a fever and ache all over. And you don’t feel like eating.

But you do eat. Nothing sounds good (except maybe the proverbial remedy for a cold, chicken soup). But you eat because your body needs it. And the very food you don’t have an appetite for not only nourishes you, but helps your body fight infection and get well.

The same is true spiritually. When something is wrong in our lives—someone has hurt us, we’ve given way to some sin, we don’t feel we fit in at church, maybe we’re even a little malnourished from lack of time at church or in the Bible—we tend to put God’s Word aside. Our appetite for it has waned.

But we need the Bible now more than ever. We may not be able to keep up with our usual routine or an intense study. But we need to keep sipping and tasting. We might spend more time in the Psalms or the gospels than some of the other books. We might listen instead of read.

And the very Word we don’t have an appetite for not only nourishes us, but helps us heal. It will strengthen us and help us fight spiritual infection.

So when your appetite for the Word of God is off, keep partaking. Your soul needs it. You may not feel instant refreshment. It may seem a little dry. But ask God to open “the eyes of your heart” and minister to you.

Often a subdued appetite can be aroused by tasting food. It didn’t sound good, but once we had a few bites, we wanted more. We may feel like reading the Bible is the last thing we want to do. But it’s been my experience, many times over, that once I start reading it, I want more.

Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways (Psalm 119:36-37).

They loathed any kind of food,
    and they drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
He sent out his word and healed them,
    and delivered them from their destruction.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
    for his wondrous works to the children of man!
And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,
    and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

(Psalm 107:18-22)

Jeremiah 15:16 Partaking of God's Word

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

Here are some helpful posts found this week:

Advent–Opening Again to Wonder. ‘Advent is here. Glorious Advent — one of the best times of year to be completely filled with awe. But what do we do when, no matter how many times we toggle the switch, our desire to marvel, or even care, doesn’t turn back on? How do we come to the age-old story grateful and amazed instead of distracted and numb?”

How Much Does a Good Deed Weigh? HT to Challies. “How much does a good deed weigh on the scales of perfect justice? How many good actions does it take to balance against a bad one? What about bad attitudes? If I do a good deed with mixed motives, does it still count as good, or have I ruined it with my divided heart that hides so much selfishness and pride and envy right alongside whatever good I’m trying to do?”

Helpful Things You Can Say to Grieving Parents. “I recently consulted with a few other parents who have experienced the loss of a child and want to offer a few things you can say to grieving parents that may prove an encouragement to them—a flicker of light in their time of deep darkness. These phrases may be helpful to people experiencing other forms of grief, but I offer them particularly for those grieving the loss of a child.”

What the Gospel Says About Your Child’s Learning Differences, HT to The Story Warren. “Reading levels are just reading levels. They are temporary. Learning differences are just learning differences. They, too, are temporary. But our identity in Christ is eternal, and to this we must cling when we are tempted to believe that our academic accomplishments are all there is to life.”

It’s Too Loud in Here, HT to Challies. I love the subtitle: “I feel screamed at all the time.” I love the conclusion.

Two Different Prescriptions. “The Bible draws a distinction between works of the flesh and works of the Spirit. Like our Ivermectin prescriptions, we need to use the correct form of anger, or the consequences can be deadly. Here are three ways to tell which prescription of anger we may be using.”

Does Mathematics=Western Imperialism? HT to Challies. You wouldn’t think so, with math being the most objective of subjects. Nancy Pearcey explains why some think it is and what’s wrong with that thinking. Her explanation of critical theory is one of the clearest I’ve seen.

Thanksgiving Myths Old and New. Some are trying to rewrite the history of the early pilgrims, but original sources tell us about their first Thanksgiving with the Indians and their intentions.

praise, thanksgiving, C. H. Spurgeon

Happy Saturday!

Friday’s Fave Five

It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week
with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

It must be Thanksgiving after-effects: I fell asleep in my desk chair early this morning and napped much longer than intended! But here are some favorites from this week:

1. Supplies. It seems like every grocery store online order or visit results in several unavailable items, necessitating a visit to another store to fill in. But we’ve not lacked anything major, even if it takes more effort and time to find supplies.

2. Thanksgiving Day, of course, with feasting and time with family.

3. A successful pie crust. I may have made pie crusts from scratch in early married life, but then switched to either frozen or, more recently, the Pillsbury refrigerated ones. Since my daughter-in-law and grandson have developed gluten intolerance, we’ve used frozen GF crusts, but they’re not very good. Sometimes they’ve bought fresh-made ones from a GF bakery, but the prices have gone up and they’re a distance away. So this year I tried a pie crust mix made by King Arthur flour. I didn’t roll the dough out—I just pressed it into the pie pan with my fingers. It held up well, and most important, tasted good.

4. Thanksgiving place mats. These were cute and entertaining. I set them around the table before everyone got here along with some crayons. Different ones gathered to color, solve puzzles, place stickers, etc., while we talked and prepared the meal.

5. A Thanksgiving tree. I did this a couple of years ago. Then I didn’t last year, and a couple of people mentioned missing it. So it made a return visit this year. 🙂 I taped several sheets of brown card stock together and then cut out a tree trunk and taped it to the pantry door. Then I used the cut-off portions for branches. I set out a package of leaf cut-outs from Hobby Lobby along with masking tape and a marker, and added a few leaves to start everyone off. Throughout the day, people would write or draw things they were thankful for and tape them up. It was fun.

Happy Friday!

A Perfectly Ordinary Thanksgiving

I was working through a couple of blog post ideas, trying to decide which to use. Then I remembered this was Thanksgiving week.

“Hmm,” I thought. “I should probably say something about Thanksgiving.”

But what could I say that I hadn’t already said? What new angle or twist could I come up with?

Then I thought—does Thanksgiving really need an angle? Can’t we just—be thankful?

But what if we’re not feeling so thankful?

Well, thanksgiving isn’t a feeling. It’s an action, an act of the will. And once we start giving thanks, it’s not long before we feel thankful.

If you’re not feeling so grateful this week, maybe you could read some psalms, like 100 or 103 or 107 or 145.

Or you could sing or read some hymns, like “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” or “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”

Or you could recount your Ebenezers, those times in your life you especially saw God’s hand at work.

Or you could make a list of simple blessings: a beautiful sunset, a warm home, friends and family, food to eat, and so on.

Though we should be thankful every day, Thanksgiving is a good reminder that we do have a lot to be thankful for. I’ve found that once I get started looking for things to be thankful for, it’s hard to stop.

It’s fine to create a Thanksgiving feast (we will) or try some new ideas to spur thankfulness (we have) or set out Pinterest-worthy decorations or or try some Thanksgiving-ish crafts (done those, too).

It’s also fine to eat out or use paper plates or grill hamburgers or make sandwiches.

But simply giving thanks to the Giver of all good things often gets lost in the shuffle of everything else. Whatever else we do, may giving thanks to Him be our main focus.

Here’s both a hymn and a thankful list! It’s beautifully sung by the Sacred Music Services‘ men’s chorus.

I wish all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving Day, someone to share it with, something good to eat, some time to rest, and some time to “give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 107:1).

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

Laudable Linkage

Here’s are some good reads found this week. Perhaps some might be of interest to you.

How to Pray for Your Child’s Salvation. “Every Christian parent knows this longing for their children. Most would even confess that our children coming to saving faith is, in fact, the greatest desire we have for our children. Yet, we cannot force this faith. We labor for it, we teach to it, we encourage it, and above all, we can pray for it.”

The Antidote to #MomGuilt. “Why are mothers the most guilt-ridden creatures on the planet? I’m not completely sure, but I think the pressure of daily sustaining tiny people’s lives may have something to do with it. The acknowledgment that we’re messing up seems the worst thing we could say about ourselves in light of the weightiness of our soul-shaping, life-preserving occupation. We know that our actions or inactions could set a course for another human that is marked by pain or sorrow or self-loathing or failure, and what if it lasts longer than a lifetime and into eternal torment?”

In Defense of Something Close to Venting, HT to Challies. “Speaking honestly and openly seems both necessary and precarious. So then, how are we to share our stronger thoughts and feelings? Is venting legitimate, constructive, healthy, and faithful? In short, is it ok to “vent?” Scripture offers a nuanced response. It gives permission, admonishes caution, and provides direction.”

An Invitation, HT to Challies. “But for those of you who find yourself playing with words, turning over sentences, creating mounting paragraphs, carrying index cards in your pocket or on the dashboard or atop your nightstand, texting yourself meaningful phrases or ideas, your mind brimming with childhood memories and stories which spark a seeing of the hand of God in the minutiae, I beckon you to write. Our world needs more Christ-following writers willing to swirl truth with beauty.”

Resisting the Pull of Materialism. “Black Friday is coming soon, and I admit: I enjoy it. I’m a proud bargain shopper, and the deals this time of year are irresistible. In fact, the sales have already begun, and they are tempting me to buy, buy and buy some more. But this year, I want to be intentional about resisting the pull of materialism.”

Inter-Generational Church, HT to Challies. “I have come to think it largely a net loss that we segregate ministries based on age, and I am not referring to children’s ministries. . . . Certainly, there is value in likeminded people in similar situations encouraging one another along. The potential comradery is undoubtedly high when I meet with another dad who is going through the same things as me. But on the other side we far too often miss the invaluable outside perspectives, like what my older friend told me.”

Turning the Dials at Thanksgiving, HT to The Story Warren. “It’s Thanksgiving and I’m in the kitchen turning dials, trying so hard to get everything just right. If only I spoke of solely the oven dial—but who can forget the relational dials, the conversational dials, the quick repentance dials, and even the simple act of dialing the number just to extend the invitation. At the holidays it seems there are far too many complex layered dials to turn and crank and adjust just so. It can be downright exhausting.”

May your Thanksgiving preparations go better than this, HT to Linda.

This is a beautiful rendition of “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus,” HT to The Story Warren.

Happy Saturday!

Friday’s Fave Five

It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week
with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

Tomorrow we’ll be 2/3 of the way through November. It’s going fast! Here are some highlights of the week:

1. Thanksgiving turkey. We had heard that some Thanksgiving dinner supplies might be hard to come by. So I was trying to decide whether to go ahead and get a turkey, paying more than usual, or wait for the sale prices that usually come up the week or so before Thanksgiving. I saw an ad for turkey for $.98 a pound, and figured that was as good a price as I’d probably get this year. But when I went to the store, they had a couple of different brands of turkey for $.49 a pound. I got most of the other supplies for the meal feast while I was at it, so I am thankful to be pretty much ready.

2. Ladies Bible study. We’d had to meet via Zoom last month as COVID was running through the church. And it seems like I missed a time or two before that for various reasons. It was good to meet together. We discussed Romans 12-13, a very rich and full passage.

3. Christmas cookies. Mittu asked if we could do our Christmas cookie baking and decorating early this year, since December is often so busy. She brought over zucchini boats for dinner and sugar cookie dough. I had the equipment, icing, and sprinkles. It was a fun time.

Jason’s creations looked the best!

4. Getting my hair cut. My hair gets to a certain length and then just does not cooperate any more. For once, I made a point to get it cut before I got frustrated with it. I wanted to go a bit shorter than usual—and ended up with it quite a bit shorter than I had in mind. But it will grow out.

5. Warmth. It seems like we’ve had a short autumn and have jumped right into winter. We’re supposed to get down in the 20s most of the next several nights. I’m thankful for home heat at the touch of a button, decaf coffee, sweaters, throw blankets, and fingerless gloves so I can still type with them on.

I hope you’ve had a good week as well!

Be Right (Romans): How to Be Right with God, Yourself, and Others

Warren W. Wiersbe sheds some light on the book of Romans in Be Right (Romans): How to Be Right with God, Yourself, and Others. The title comes from the fact that some form of the word “righteousness” is used over sixty times in Romans. Also, the most important pursuits in the world are being right with God and our fellow humans.

Romans has some of the most familiar verses in the Bible, but also many difficult passages.

We typically use verses from Romans when sharing the gospel with others.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (Romans 10:9-10).

But these are not isolated verses. They come from a context of Paul’s detailed explanation of man’s sin, Christ’s sacrifice, and more.

Chapters 6-8 detail the struggle between the flesh and Spirit.

Romans also discusses God’s plan for Jews and Gentiles. He has not forsaken the Jews, but he has “grafted in” the Gentiles (chapters 9-11). Paul shows that this was God’s plan all along. The section about election and free will from Romans 9 was very helpful to me.

Then chapters 12-14 are full of practical instructions. Paul often deals with the doctrinal first, then shows how doctrine manifests itself in everyday lives. Romans 14:1-15:7 particularly deal with disagreements among Christians over what we call “debatable” matters.

Romans ends with Paul’s warm greetings to several individuals.

As always, I have several passages marked. Here are a couple that stood out to me:

In the Christian life, doctrine and duty always go together. What we believe helps to determine how we behave. It is not enough for us to understand Paul’s doctrinal explanations. We must translate our learning into living and show by our daily lives that we trust God’s Word.

Christian living depends on Christian learning; duty is always founded on doctrine. If Satan can keep a Christian ignorant, he can keep him impotent.

The law was a signpost, pointing the way. But it could never take them to their destination. The law cannot give righteousness; it only leads the sinner to the Savior who can give righteousness.

Does a strong Christian think he is making a great sacrifice by giving up some food or drink [for the sake of a weaker believer]? Then let him measure his sacrifice by the sacrifice of Christ. No sacrifice we could ever make could match Calvary.

A person’s spiritual maturity is revealed by his discernment. He is willing to give up his rights that others might be helped. He does this, not as a burden, but as a blessing. Just as loving parents make sacrifices for their children, so the mature believer sacrifices to help younger Christians grow in the faith.

Spiritual gifts are tools to build with, not toys to play with or weapons to fight with. In the church at Corinth, the believers were tearing down the ministry because they were abusing spiritual gifts. They were using their gifts as ends in themselves and not as a means toward the end of building up the church. They so emphasized their spiritual gifts that they lost their spiritual graces! They had the gifts of the Spirit but were lacking in the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, etc. (Gal. 5: 22–23)

This is a fairly short commentary, so Wiersbe didn’t go into as much detail as he could have in some sections. But I think this is a good book for those who want more insight from Romans without slogging through a massive volume.

Book Review: Hidden Among the Stars

In Austria in 1938, Annika Knopf is the daughter of the caretaker of the Dornbach family’s castle in Hallstatt. She and the Dornbach’s only son, Max, have been friends since childhood. But now they are grown, and she has quietly loved him for a long time.

When Annika discovers Max is hiding treasures of their Jewish friends on the estate grounds, she wants to help. Max wants to protect her as much as possible, but the time comes when he must accept her offer.

Max has never seen Annika as anything but a good friend. He’s in love with Luzia Weiss, a beautiful and brilliant violinist with the local orchestra. The Dornbach and Weiss families have been friends for years. But as Hitler’s forces advance, it’s not healthy to associate with Jews like the Weiss family. Max loves Luzia still and looks for ways to avoid fighting for the Reich and to get Luzia and her family out of Austria before it’s too late. In the meantime, he brings Luzia to the family’s lake castle to hide and asks Annika to watch over Luzia.

In modern times, Callie Randall runs a book store with her sister. Her tumultuous early life, with rejection from both parents and and betrayal by her fiance, has turned her naturally introverted character into someone who enjoys hiding out and is afraid of . . . almost everything except her job and shop.

Callie’s sister gifts her an early edition copy of Bambi, and Callie finds within its pages a list of items in the same script as the book’s font. The name written in the front is Annika Knopf. Callie begins an Internet search, hoping to reunite the book with Annika or someone in her family. But Callie discovers Annika’s story may intersect with Charlotte, the woman who took Callie and her sister in and whom she loves like a mother. Callie yearns to find Annika and restore to Charlotte something of her lost history. But first she must find the courage to step outside her safe haven.

I had read several WWII-era books this year, and was determined to read something from a different time. I love stories from that era, but I was starting to get a little tired of it. However, when I read the description of Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson, I had to read it next. A main character with a personalty similar to mine, a bookstore owner, mention of several classic children’s books, a castle on a lake—all these drew me in. And I am glad. I think this might be my favorite of Melanie’s books so far—and that’s saying something, because I’ve enjoyed all I’ve read from her.

I listened to the audiobook, wonderfully read by Nancy Peterson. Unfortunately, the audio version didn’t include any back matter that books sometimes have about the author’s inspiration for writing, historical research, etc. However, I did find that information on Melanie’s site here. There really is an abandoned castle in Hallstatt! I enjoyed hearing about Melanie’s trip there.

I’m pretty sure this will be one of my top ten books of the year. Highly recommended.

Don’t Reject God Because of His People

There are a number of reasons people walk away from Christianity, or at least from church. Some have faced disdain or hurt from those who were supposed to model and minister Christ to them. Some groups or ministry leaders were found to have shocking hidden pasts or current sins. Some movements displayed racist thought in their pasts.

Sometimes leaving a particular group or church or dissociating from an individual is the right thing to do.

But we shouldn’t reject the whole body of God’s truth because some of His people, or those who professed to be His people, fell so far from His ideal. They’re accountable for their sins and failures, but what they do doesn’t void the truth they taught. We’re accountable for the truth we’ve heard despite the vessels it sometimes came through.

Someone once said if you look for the fatal flaw, you’ll find it. And you don’t have to look very far in some cases. That’s because we all have one—or more than one. Some seem worse, or more obvious, than others.

When you look through the Bible, you find people who loved and followed God, yet they failed in spectacular ways. Though we grieve over their falls, we don’t dismiss the truth they taught. We don’t throw out Proverbs because Solomon failed to keep his own admonitions. We lament David’s sins, but we don’t reject the psalms because of them. The disciples fought over who was greatest and fled when Jesus was arrested. Yet God transformed and used each of them in mighty ways.

Instead of throwing out “the baby with the bath water,” we can learn from the failures of others.

We’re all at risk of falling. Proverbs 16:18 warns that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:12 says, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” Verse 13 goes on to say that we’re not tempted beyond our ability, but God will provide a way of escape. But we need to look to Him: we can’t take pride that we would never do certain things.

Most have or will experience failure of others. Joseph’s own brothers wanted to kill him and sold him into slavery. Abigail’s husband, who should have been her leader and protector, nearly caused their household to be attacked by the king. Saul, who should have been David’s mentor, instead was jealous and tried to kill David. At some point, we will fail others and they will fail us.

Learn from people who failed what not to do, what precautions could have been taken, etc.

For all the bad ones, there are many good ones. When I worked with the general public, the rude and obnoxious customers and comments hurt and stayed with me a long time. Yet there were many more kind and thoughtful customers than bad ones. Though none is perfect, there are many within Christendom who love God and others well. Don’t let the bad ones obscure the good ones.

Compare what we see and hear with Scripture. Those noble Bereans “received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). They took what they were told even of Paul and Silas and checked it against Scripture.

Others’ failures don’t nullify truth. In Romans 3:, Paul writes, “What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar” (Romans 3:3-4). Does that mean faithfulness doesn’t matter, or people get away with being unfaithful? No. God will deal with them. But their unfaithfulness doesn’t make God unfaithful or disprove His truth.

Hold fast. Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Then verse 35-36 says, “Do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”

Stir up others to love and good works. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,” which, interestingly, takes place in the context of church: “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:23-25). Perhaps some would have been prevented from a fall by a loving friend’s kind rebuke.

Forgive. Most have found that when they refuse to forgive others, the one they end up hurting the most is themselves. Unforgiveness can lead to bitterness and unanswered prayer or keep us from being forgiven. Jesus said, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15). He taught that we’ve been forgiven so much, we should not withhold forgiveness for lesser sins than the ones we’ve committed against Him (Matthew 18:21-35).

Overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). This sentence comes at the end of a section about loving enemies and not avenging ourselves, but leaving vengeance to God. That’s not to say we don’t report or deal with wrong-doing. Sometimes we need to allow consequences to catch up to someone for their own good and for protection of ourselves and others. But we don’t seek to “get them back.” Instead, we go the extra mile and do them good.

Jesus knows what we’re going through. No one has been failed by others as much as Jesus. His family didn’t understand Him. His disciples missed the point of His teaching much of the time. They fled when He was arrested. The people He came to save rejected Him. But He didn’t walk away from them. He loved even when they didn’t love Him. He patiently kept working with them. “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:14-15).

Keep our eyes on Christ. Others will fail us, even those who mean well. “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,” (Hebrews 12:2b-3a).

In Psalm 55, David tells of his fear, trembling, horror, and anguish due to the oppression of an enemy. Then he reveals in verses 12-14:

For it is not an enemy who taunts me—    then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—    then I could hide from him.
But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend.
We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng.

Instead of letting a friend’s betrayal drive him away from the God he professed, David let the situation drive him to God.

But I call to God, and the Lord will save me.
Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. He redeems my soul in safety  from the battle that I wage (verses 16-18).

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you;
he will never permit the righteous to be moved (verse 22).

When others fail you, betray you, ignore you, or hurt you, they are accountable to God. But don’t walk away from Him because of them. Run to His arms and let Him heal, soothe, encourage, and strengthen you.

“The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
(Psalm 147:2-3)

Man may trouble and distress me;
Twill but drive me to Thy breast.
Life with trials hard may press me.
Heaven will bring me sweeter rest.
Oh, tis not in grief to harm me
While Thy love is left to me.
Oh, twere not in joy to charm me
Were that joy unmixed with Thee.

Henry Francis Lyte, “Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken”

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

Laudable Linkage

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Here are some noteworthy reads found this week.

From Meat to Meta: Facebook’s Disincarnate Dreamworld, HT to Challies. “For those who labour under the Enlightenment (and latterly Zuckerbergian) prejudice that ideal reality is immaterial and universal, the notion that God could have a body is quite a scandal. But it is deeply, deeply good news that the Word ‘became’ flesh.”

Life Beyond the Spiritual Shallows. “There is a depth to God’s character that cannot be assessed with quick glances and fleeting thoughts. We will never become the kind of women who face the lion’s den without a deep understanding of God’s character. We will never know that depth if we cannot find ways to circumnavigate our brain’s wiring and study God’s Word for longer than eight second bursts.”

Should We Pursue Self-Love? HT to Challies. “God acknowledges the reality of self-love, but He certainly does not teach it as a Christian virtue to be cultivated. Rather, it is an existing reality, necessary for our survival, in some respects healthy, but in other ways very much tainted by our sin. Our instinct to take care of ourselves is something we are to extend to others, that we might lovingly take care of them.”

When You Are Wrongly Accused: 5 Things to Do. “What can we do when we are wrongly accused? Either directly or indirectly? When someone we know is telling us we are a bad person, exhibiting bad behavior that we are not responsible for, have ruined something way beyond our control, or have a pattern of wrong deeds and we feel it simply is not true. Before you start responding to their accusations, you want to ask yourself a few questions.”

Two Important Principles for Trusting God: Commas and Periods. “Clearly, punctuation matters when giving instructions. It’s even more important when it comes to trusting God. Understanding and embracing the principles of God’s punctuation can give us peace—and even joy—in the waiting.”

Night Watch, HT to Challies. “Night watch. Our God neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121). And sometimes He wakes us in the night. To watch and pray. I remember when the two emails arrived. One after the other. To our inbox in Karachi. Same time. Same message. Traveling across the world. From opposite sides of the United States.”

Dividing Lines: Beware of “Us vs. Them.” “The Bible separates people into just two categories as well: those who are in Christ and those who aren’t. But this important distinction does not give us permission to attack people who don’t agree with us. In fact, Jesus told a parable about a religious person who did just that.”

This moving video, shared by Lisa, is titled Before You Call the Cops. This man had an experience when, just seeing him, a woman reacted in fear. He encourages us to get to know each other and not fit everyone into stereotypes.