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A short but meaty list of good reads from this week:

There Are No Shortcuts to biblical discernment. HT to Challies.

A Christian Response to Riots Left and Right. “Peaceful protest is a protected right in this country, rioting is not. Let’s set the politics aside and consider the biblical principles for a moment.”

More than Sexual Purity, HT to Challies. “The unintentional message over time was that this was spiritual maturity: consistent devotions and sexual purity. By setting such a low bar for men, though, we inevitably train men to be lazy, selfish, insecure, and ambitionless. We raise a generation of men to check spiritual boxes and then live for Xbox. But men are capable of so much more in Christ than Bible reading and self-control (not to diminish either).”

When Your Identity Becomes a Liability: 4 Responses to Unjust Suffering. I fear the days are coming when we’ll need this.

An Illustration of Repentance, HT to Challies. I found this helpful in understanding why there’s not always instant outward change when we seek repentance.

Dignity Beyond Accomplishment, HT to Challies. “She loves her life. She loves her life even though she will, like most Americans, never finish an Ironman. But that does not finally matter. Human life is good and worthy of dignity not because of accomplishment, but simply because it is loved into being by God.”

Though I don’t like parents lying to kids, even for fun, I love this little boy’s response to hearing that his mom ate all his candy. I wonder, though, what the mom was expecting and why she would do this.

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

Here are the latest thought-provoking reads I’ve seen:

Would It Be Okay for Me to Be Angry With God? “And who am I to be angry at what God has done? Who am I to disapprove of what he has permitted? Who am I to conclude God has done something he should not have, or to even suggest the notion?”

Start Here: How to Begin Reading the Bible this Year. “If you’ve been feeling like reading Scripture will be too hard for you, as though there’s no way you’ll be able to do it on your own—stop now and thank God. Knowing that we need Jesus is a gift. We can’t do this without Him, and He’s ready and able to help.

The Prayer Group, HT to Joanne. “These women have prayed so hard their knees have gone bad. They’ve prayed for rowdy husbands who are bad to drink. For children who are ill. For couples who fall upon the rocks. They have even prayed Carol through her cancer. Twice.”

Ministry With, Not Merely To those with developmental disabilities, HT to Challies. “My friend and mentor, Rich, heads up the Friendship Bible Study, and he constantly reminds us that we will minister with and not merely to those who come. It’s my observation that such a mentality fuels ministry that has the capacity to endure. Consequently, this demographic that is among the most unreached in these United States is a demographic which has most reached the congregation I serve.”

The Wide Gate, HT to Challies. “Since Time magazine announced God was dead in 1966, people have done their best to manage without Him, notably in relationships. God’s narrow way of one man and one woman monogamously raising offspring has been paved over with multilane beltways, bypasses, and loops that must look sort of messy from angel altitude.”

Visiting the Sick, HT to Challies. “The topic . . . comes at a tragically unique time in history: when visiting the sick and our ability to go to hospital to care for the infirmed, weak, or dying is greatly diminished. And yet, care for those in the church who are ill or afflicted among us, is some of the most foundational stuff of our true religion.”

No Strings Attached, HT to Challies. “There is simple kindness, among few, in the art of gift giving. An offering presented with joy and weightlessness; a smile of anticipation in the knowing of the goodness to be shared.”

A friend with a young baby posted this on FaceBook. A young mom wants to know how to keep strangers from touching and kissing her baby in public. The answer is hilarious.

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Here are several good reads recently discovered:

Don’t Overthink It Book Club. Linda is hosting a three-week book club on Sunday evenings to discuss Anne Bogel’s book Don’t Overthink It. I just finished chapter four this morning, and the book is proving very helpful so far. At the moment, it’s on sale for the Kindle for $1.59—don’t know how long it will be at that price.

Be a Truth-Lover. “Your love for truth must be greater than your party, your political pre-commitments, and your agenda.”

He Is a Jealous God. “If the United States of America ceased to exist tomorrow, would that be the end of our belief in the God that we claim to hold so dear? Or do we have a faith that extends beyond the bounds of country, of comfort, of confidence in the systems of this world?

A Call for Content Creators to Cultivate Discernment, HT to Challies. “But beautiful language, by itself, does not encompass all that it means to write well as a Christian. Christian writers must labor not only to write what is true but also to write in a manner that adorns the truth.”

Remembering God’s Faithfulness in the Face of a Detour, HT to Challies. “How about you? Do you trust God’s faithfulness to deliver again in the midst of your daily detours?”

Five Key Questions for Setting Gospel-Shaped Goals, HT to The Story Warren. “It was an apt senior quote for the young perfectionist, who keenly felt her failure to ‘obtain all this,’ who knew how short she fell in every area where she longed to succeed. Sadly, that seventeen-year-old senior, who had only been a Christian for two years when she chose Philippians 3:12 to mark her life, didn’t fully understand the dynamic of grace and goals.”

Stupid and Wise People. “There will always be those with whom we cannot agree or come to a compromise. We cannot control their actions but we can control our own reactions and choices.”

Your Work Matters More Than You Think, HT to Challies. “God puts his people in some surprising places. The testimony of Obadiah can encourage Christians who have been called to serve God in dark places for His purposes.” I enjoyed this contrast between Obadiah and Elijah.

A Blog about Blogging, HT to Challies. Good overview for Christian bloggers in particular.

Tookish Bagginses. Lessons from hobbits. “Because nowness and not-yet-ness overlap and intermingle. God made us out of dust, but he also breathed eternity down our lungs. We’re a walking marriage of the sacred and the profane— the eternal and the ordinary. We’re Bagginses with the blood of Tooks who’ve been to Mordor and back again.”

This is as good a time as any for my occasional reminder that links here do not mean 100% endorsement of the blog or blogger they come from. Some of these are from blogs I read regularly, but others are from posts I happened upon or saw on other’s blogs.

Finally, to end with a smile: a cat interrupts a UK parliamentary live call:

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

Here I share the first set of recommended reading for the new year!

2020–What a Beautiful Time to Be Alive. “Don’t let bad thinking take this year from you. Don’t grit your teeth and just try to get through. Life is too precious for that and entirely too short. Live this year as you ought to live every other.”

The Longest Night. Long periods of waiting are not unusual for the children of God. “Years of waiting were not caused by a delay, but were part of God’s design. . .We can also trust He has a purpose in the waiting. Sometimes, while we are concerned with our circumstances, God is more interested in growing our character and our dependence on Him.”

Reading the Bible Requires Rules We Already Know, HT to Challies. “It’s easy to misinterpret the Bible when you don’t follow basic rules of interpretation. Therefore, I’ve offered the approach of asking three questions when reading any passage.”

The Bible Reading Plan I Recommend for 2021. You can find all kinds of Bible reading plans this time of year. Bible Gateway has several. Our church uses a five-year plan, though it’s laid out a little differently from this one. I’ve found that I like having a five-day-a-week plan. That gives time to catch up if you miss a day, plus time to consult other sources (commentary or Bible reading notes), plus a day or two to do other reading if you’re doing a Bible study or project.

Proactive and Reactive Bible Intake, HT to Challies. I had not heard the term “reactive” Bible reading, although I have done it. “In many ways, proactive Bible intake prepares us to know where to open the Scriptures when we need reactive Bible intake.” Both are needed.

Expecting Less From the Church, HT to Challies. I would not have thought of advising lower expectations from church, but I see the wisdom from this article. Sometimes our expectations are so high that we set ourselves up for disappointment because no church can meet them. “We have expectations of course—baptism, the Lord’s Supper, theological orthodoxy, preaching Christ crucified, prayer—but these do not include at least one new insight per sermon and arena-quality worship. These do not include my passive presence that waits for an experience like I had watching a recent movie.”

A Parable from the Dead, HT to Challies. I’ve been troubled by the news of Ravi Zacharias. This draws out some truths from the situation

Marriage: The Beginning of a Revolution, HT to Challies. What a sweet story, and an illustration of what a testimony a godly wedding and marriage can be. “The road to this joyous occasion was paved with tears, persecutions, and pain. In the Lord’s wisdom, it was this very pain that grew the character of the bride and groom and helped them to understand the value of a husband and the value of a wife.”

Someone Will Catechize Your Kids. Don’t Outsource It. HT to The Story Warren. Some might be turned off by the thought of catechism as rote or ritualistic teaching. But the basic idea in the article is just teaching truth. Kids will be exposed to all kinds of values: we need to be sure to teach them God’s truth o a level they can understand.

And finally, I don’t think we’re so far from Christmas that we can’t enjoy this sweet story (if you see this via email, you might have to click through to see the video):

Happy first Saturday of 2021!

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I’m waaaay behind on my blog reading. But I wanted to go ahead and share the ones concerning Christmas before it was all over.

We Need a Little Christmas! I love both meanings of this post by Lesley.

This Is Not How I Thought My Story Would Go, HT to Diane Heeney. Good applications drawn from Mary’s life.

We Wait in Darkness: Some Thoughts for Advent. “In Advent, we wait in the darkness. But we do not, I am convinced, wait hopelessly. For while we wait, we can tend the flame. The stories each of our homes are telling can be ones that lend flesh to truth, goodness, and beauty, so that the waiting we do can tend the flame of the Gospel flickering inside our hearts.”

Goodnight Till Then. Those of you who know Tim Challies know that his college-age son died suddenly and unexpectedly a few weeks ago. Also from Tim: When All Seems to Be Gain, Plan for Loss.

Do You Ever Wonder? Lessons Learned from Rebecca. Both Rebekah and Sarah manipulated events instead of trusting God’s promises. We all leave a string of failures in our wake, but thank God He redeems them.

Looking for Joy? Abide. “In addressing His disciples hours before His arrest, Jesus tells them over and over to abide, to remain, to dwell in Him. He knows that they’re worried about what life will look like without Him, so He gives them these instructions for a specific reason: “that [their] joy may be full” (John 15:11).”

On Benedictions, Part 1: He Who Is Able. “This passage doesn’t promise that we’ll never stumble into sin. But it does promise that God’s grace can enable us to persevere to the end—to stand before his throne still blameless, still washed by the blood of Christ, still cleansed from the sin in which we all too readily engaged.”

Assurance in an Age of Cancel Culture, HT to Challies. These days of being so easily “cancelled” when the culture at large doesn’t like what we say can make us fearful of speaking out. “This article is an outpouring of my inner war with ‘cancel culture’ and fear of man. These Biblical truths are weapons of warfare for me in the middle of my fight with ‘cancel culture.’”

Meatloaf Ministry. If you’ve ever been part of a church food ministry or any behind-the-scenes ministry, this will bless you.

Social Justice in Our Divided Age. Not everyone means the same thing by that term, which causes confusion and even hard feelings at times. I thought this was a good explanation.

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

Here are some great reads found this week, the first few Christmas-related.

Christmas Is for Dark Times, HT to Challies. “For many, 2020 has been a dark year – physically, emotionally, mentally, financially. People have lost their loved ones, their jobs, their security and their health. Does this mean Christmas should be cancelled? No. The real Christmas happens in the darkness.”

3 Ways to Have Less Stress at Christmas. We can all use less stress, especially this time of year. I love Stacey’s tips.

An Advent Mindset: Mary’s Prayer. Sarah brought out some aspects of Mary’s prayer that I had not considered before.

A Simple Strategy for Meditating in God’s Word, HT to Challies. “God speaks to you directly through His Word. He directs your heart as you read it and meditate on it. Here is a simple strategy that can help you to feed on God’s Word directly.”

Can a Difficult Marriage Change? Sarah shares from 20 years of experience.

The Biggest Threat Faced by the Church, HT to Challies. “What is the biggest threat faced by the church today? Many in the U.S. seem to think the answer is government tyranny. Tyranny is always a danger, but tyranny is not the biggest threat faced by the church in the U.S. or any other nation.”

All Moms Need to Do Is Remain, HT to the Story Warren. “But moms already have so much work to do, and our relationship with God is often put on the backburner. Well-meaning friends, family, and podcast hosts may tell you that it’s okay, busy moms just don’t have time to meet with God. People think they are letting you off the hook, but it makes remaining with God seem impossible (or at least improbable).”

Are Masks a Conscience Issue? HT to Challies. “I’m not qualified to offer a defining medical word on masks, but I want to offer some thoughts on the implications for Christians who refuse to wear a mask because they say it violates their conscience.”

And finally, a fun look at different kinds of Christmas shoppers, HT to Steve Laube:

Happy Saturday!

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My online reading has been quick and light this week, but here are some reads that stood out to me:

What Freedom From Sin Looks Like in This Life, HT to Challies. “We want to have a neatly resolved plotline where we say I had this problem, and I asked the Lord, and he removed my desire for that, and I didn’t do it anymore. But, we all know that’s not how we typically see holiness playing out in our lives.”

Let’s Stop Stirring the Pot, HT to Challies. Sometimes sharing truth will cause controversy. But we shouldn’t post online just for the purpose of stirring up controversy.

Dr. James Dobson’s Election Reflections.

Making Sanctuaries. I love posts like this that encourage moms in their ministry at home. “Here we pray and worship. Here we read and learn. Here we play and argue and muddle through. For now, there’s nowhere else. So I try, in as much as I can, to make this a place of safety. Of welcome, even on the hard days. Of messy, constant grace, and awareness that the sacred is always closer than we think.”

2020 Comedy Wildlife Photo Finalists, HT to Laura. These are always fun. I especially like the first one with the bears and the fox and mouse.

Finally, this is a post-Thanksgiving experience for many of us (seen on FaceBook, don’t know original source), HT to my brother and sister:

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

Just a short list today:

Should I Really Honor an Ungodly Politician? “If you chose one word to describe the most prominent attitude in today’s society, there is one I am sure you would not immediately select. The word is ‘honor.’ Nor is this a primary descriptor of many Christians in our day. Rather, on a variety of fronts, American Christians are divided, combative, and even angry.”

It Is a Weakness of Faith to Refuse to Mourn the Death of Loved Ones, HT to Challies. “I am often troubled when I attend a funeral, and the leader refuses to let the people mourn. Those in charge of funeral arrangements, and often the families themselves, put so much effort into making the occasion a celebration of life, a graduation to heaven, that those in attendance might feel like their faith is weak if they were to shed tears of sorrow, but the opposite is true.”

You Know You Trashed a Conversation When, HT to Challies. Ed Welch shares ways conversations can get derailed and hurtful.

This was amusing:

Happy Saturday!

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Here are thought-provoking reads found recently.

Counseling for Those Struggling with Assurance.

Don’t Fall For It, HT to Challies. “Satan is clever. He’s happy to distract you with global disturbances while he chips away at the foundations of your devotion to Christ.”

Loving Difficult Neighbors Isn’t Optional, HT to Challies. “Imagine standing before God with this logic: ‘Yes Lord, they were made in your image and starved for gospel hope, but their dog’s barking always woke us up at 2 a.m., so we shut them out.'”

Taking on the Revolutionary Program of Ibram X. Kendi, HT to Challies. Several serious concerns about the book How To Be an Anti-Racist.

How to Lead and How to Follow. Applying the “Golden Rule” to both.

Catching Our Reflections in the Lives of Our Children, HT to The Story Warren. “What can we do when confronted with the sin of our children, sin that turns out to be ours as well? The discouragement can be crippling, preventing us from seeing any fruitful way forward. Even in the midst of this discouragement, God invites us to move forward in hope, pressing into the gospel of grace.”

Things to Do in November for Kids and Parents, HT to The Story Warren.

And finally, HT to Lisa:

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

Some good reads from this week:

Bible Study From the Outside In. How to work from the big picture to the smaller details.

The Wisdom in Restraining Our Lips, HT to Challies. When I respond in the heat of the moment, I usually regret it. “There is wisdom in letting our words slowly bake and simmer in our hearts and minds before making them known.”

Intellectual Disabilities and the Church, HT to Challies. I like the step beyond inclusion to integration.

Watching What I Invest in Evaporate, HT to Challies. So much of what we do is fleeting, needing to be repeated the next day or week. But “What you do—the conversations you have, the games you play, the emails you write, the projects you work on, the loads of laundry you do—are the strands of life that when woven together build into something larger than the fleeting moments they represent.”

A Wild Harvest, HT to Challies. Neat story of fruition during persecution in China and a daughter’s return to her roots.

The Word You Can Use Once a Year (and No More)

Two Truths and a Lie about Family Devotions, HT to Story Warren. In a recent radio program with Elisabeth Elliot, she said that when we feed children physically, it’s a messy process at first. And, she said, it’s the same spiritually. It’s not going to be perfect, but it is still useful.

I’ve seen a few of these videos with Olive and Mabel. Pretty cute.

Happy Saturday!