Laudable Linkage

Though I am way behind on my blog reading once again due to a busy week, I still came across some good reads I wanted to share with you.

Why Don’t I Care? Steps to Overcoming Spiritual Apathy, HT to The Story Warren. “One of the most frustrating parts of my life is that I’m not as passionate about God as I should be. I imagine many Christians feel similarly. There are some, however, for whom this feeling goes deep and lasts long.”

Strengths, Weaknesses, Warts, and All. “Here’s what she knew, and I do too: We all have done bad things, experienced bad things and had bad things done to us. But God uses all those things to help others if we let Him.”

God’s Healing: Kintsugi in Practice. “It literally takes brokenness and turns it into beauty, and it sees the brokenness not as something to hide, but as something to value as part of the object’s history. As I looked into Kintsugi, I discovered many similarities with God’s healing work.”

Prayer That Pleases God. “We pray. We pray because God tell us to. We pray because we need to. We pray because prayer matters. But do we pray with confidence that God is pleased with our praying? Do we pray with confidence that God is pleased with our praying even when he does not grant our petitions?”

Dishes and Divorce: Why Little Things Can Lead to a Breakup. “How do couples come to a place where something as small as a plate on the counter has them contemplating divorce? I believe it comes down to one basic reality: the little things either communicate love, or they don’t.”

Never Forget! “The book of Deuteronomy contains Moses’ words to the Israelites as they are on the verge of entering the Promised Land, and one message comes across loud and clear: Don’t forget!”

Context Matters: The Whole Armor of God. “Context matters. If we learn to read the Bible for what it is—and not simply as a collection of vibrant metaphors for vague spiritual truths—we’ll discover that some of our most familiar passages may have far more usefulness than we’d previously assumed.”

Laudable Linkage

Though I’m a little behind on blog reading due to the online conference I’m attending, I still found lots of great stuff to share.

My Biggest Struggle with Daily Devotions, HT to Challies. “My biggest struggle with daily devotions is not carving out the 20 to 30 minutes needed to read the word and spend time with God. The most difficult part is slowing down my heart and mind enough to get anything from it.”

How Should We Apply Biblical Narratives, HT to Knowable Word. “A biblical narrative’s presence doesn’t necessarily imply approval of its contents. Description is not the same as recommendation. But in the absence of explicit commentary from the biblical author, how can we sort out what to apply from each story?”

From Rage to Repentance, HT to Challies. “Hamid* unexpectedly walked in just as the service was beginning. At once I felt anxious chills in the back of my head and neck, my body’s way of telling me that it feels threatened. The last time I had seen this man had been five years previous – and he had been screaming at me in the middle of the street . . .” Wonderful and encouraging story of God’s grace.

Why It’s Right for God to Seek and Demand Glory, HT to Challies. Way back in college, one of my Bible professors brought up the question of why it’s ok for God to seek to be glorified, but it would be selfish on anyone else’s part. Unfortunately, he didn’t answer the question, and it has troubled me from time to time over the years. I knew God deserved glory, and because He is inherently good, it’s not wrong for Him to seek it. But the thought that helped me most was that we’re changed by beholding His glory (2 Corinthians 3:18)–one reason He wants us to see His glory is so we might become more like Him. There’s a quote I can’t find right now, I think from John Piper, that says God doesn’t “need” glory, but we need to glorify Him. This post brings up another couple of reasons.

The Value of Knowing Both Sides, HT to Challies. “This skill—the skill of articulating both sides of an issue—is one that is in short supply in American culture. Most debates that we observe on television consist of two people trying to outshout and demonize each other. This is because it is much easier to dismiss opposing arguments than it is to understand them.”

When the Same Sin Comes ‘Round Again. This post brings out some good conclusions concerning Abraham’s repeated sin of lying about his relationship with his wife. But it’s also a good example of using observation and considering context when studying the Bible.

Entrusting My Treasure. “I wanted to require God to insulate my family from hurts in exchange for our sacrifice and service. This would not do.”

Be Careful About the Multiplying Attacks on Christian Nationalism. “There are those that are conflating conservative politics and Christianity, but the political left is conflating all conservatives into one category in order to dismiss them all.”

Laudable Linkage

I have just a short list this week of good reads found online:

What Questions Do You Have About Your Faith? HT to Challies. “It can be uncomfortable to wrestle with hard-to-answer questions, can’t it? A child is still figuring life out, so that seems more palatable. But what about us as adults? How do we perceive asking questions about what we believe? Is it a lack of faith when we put words to our confusion about what God is doing in our lives? Is there value in voicing our questions?”

Even the Darkness, HT to Challies. “It doesn’t matter how you find your way into darkness. You may be suffering with chronic pain. You may have succumbed to the same sin over and over and now realize you’ve backed yourself into a dark corner with no conceivable way out. You may just be under a heavy cloud of despair, unsure where it’s come from. Whatever it is, wherever it’s come from, you can take courage that God sees your situation from a different perspective.”

Which Sins Are Feeding Your Sin of Lust, HT to Challies. The sin we’re most discouraged about may have others that contributed to it.

Thinking Sensibly About Ourselves, HT to Challies. “When walking the narrow road of the Christian life, many of us fall into one of two traps when it comes to our gifts: viewing ourselves too highly or too lowly. Some of us have permanently taken up residence in one of these ditches and refuse to move.”

Laudable Linkage

Here’s another list of good reads found this week:

We Need More Holy Fools: How God Awakened Me to Eternity, HT to The Story Warren. “A man is trapped in a car, rushing down a hill toward a cliff. The doors are locked. The brakes are out. The steering barely works. Far ahead, he can see other cars hurtling into the abyss. How far they fall, he does not know. What they find at the bottom, he cannot imagine. But he does not seek to know; he does not try to imagine. Instead, he paints the windshield, climbs into the back seat, and puts in his headphones.”

God Will Turn You Every Which Way But Loose. HT to Challies. “Do not believe the lies that say God wants your life to be as smooth as possible. That he desires for you to have a problem-free existence if only you would have enough faith.”

Being Domineering as a Pastor Doesn’t Require Skill, HT to Challies. Though this is written to pastors, it’s good advice for anyone in any leadership role.

3 Myths of the Good Old Days. “I’m guessing every generation has uttered this phrase, which makes me question: If my good old days were the previous generation’s not-so-good days, and on and on backwards, then when were the real good old days?”

The Indispensable Ministry of Disability, HT to Challies. “Our more recent experiences with Ben have opened my eyes to the realization that people with disabilities in our congregations are not just objects of ministry. They are gifted just like the rest of us, though often in ways that we haven’t realized.”

Rolls and Circles in Women’s Ministry: Why You Need Both. “When you think of discipleship in your church, women’s ministry, or small group, how do you picture the chairs being arranged? Do you picture the chairs in rows, facing a teacher in the front? Do you picture the chairs in circles, where small groups of women gather? Or do you think of discipleship as a single chair, where a woman opens her Bible and hears from God directly?”

When You’ve Given Your Troubles to God—But Still Can’t Sleep. “Insomnia is horrible. It is a form of suffering that lays us utterly bare before the Lord. We completely depend on him to show up. Sometimes he shows up by letting us fall asleep; sometimes he shows up by stripping us of self-sufficiency, making us see that he takes weary people and sustains them even when all earthly things fail them.”

Take the Chance. “It seemed like the ideal opportunity. Crouching in the darkness of the cave, David saw his enemy alone and vulnerable. It looked like the chance he had been waiting for.”

Laudable Linkage

I just have a short list today—I’m behind on my blog reading. But I hope you’ll find something to encourage you here.

Bulletproof, HT to Challies. “As time passed, I gathered up frightening moments, storing them like scalding stones in a knapsack, hefting them with me moment-by-moment through life, and right into my early days of motherhood. As long as I remembered what could happen, and kept on the lookout for any potential dangers, maybe I could keep my little family safe. An exhausting way to live, I tell you. But after so many years it felt normal.”

Church Hurt. “Anyone who has been involved in a faith community over a long period of time sadly may know the very painful feelings of rejection, criticism, and disillusionment. Church hurt can stings like no other. Why is that?”

Shining a Light in the Darkest of Times. “My most recent fascination holds me captive at dusk. Sweet childhood memories delightfully dance across my mind’s eye as the fireflies gaily float across the lawn. Lately returned to our area after several years absence, they offered more than reminiscent delight. Visible only as darkness approaches, their light speaks a truth needful for today: that of shining a light in the darkest of times.”

Outside the Camp, Part 3: What It Means. Dan Olinger gives insight on what it means that Jesus was crucified “outside the camp” and why we’re told to go to Him “outside the camp” as well.

Give to Those Who Ask. “If someone were to walk up to you today, declare their poverty, and ask you for help, what should you do?”

Laudable Linkage

Here are some of the good reads found this week:

My Reconstructed Faith, HT to Challies. This is encouraging. “What I don’t often hear are stories of those who have reconstructed their faith. Since I couldn’t find many, I thought I would offer my own story of reconstruction after I abandoned Christianity for progressive Christianity.”

Debunk 8 Abortion Myths. “While Christians rejoice to see a step taken toward justice for unborn life, many of our neighbors are experiencing the decision as an existential threat. That angst gets channeled in attacks against religious groups, blaming them for what they understand to be a hypocritical and crippling national tragedy. Why are they so afraid? What can we do to help our friends, family, and coworkers understand why people of faith celebrate what they lament?”

A Declaration of Dependence, HT to Challies. “I am incredibly grateful for and deeply benefit from the Declaration of Independence penned by Thomas Jefferson; however, my soul needs to be stamped with deeper declaration daily: a declaration of dependence.”

Community: A Struggle to Fit In, HT to Challies. “When it comes to community in the church, many people feel like onlookers. For many, deep fellowship seems far off. Some feel excluded because they “do not fit in,” and others are unsure how to engage. In the church of Jesus, this should not be.”

40-Year-Old Moses vs. 80-Year-Old Moses, HT to The Story Warren. “Moses has gone from It makes sense that God would use me to Who am I that God would use me? And in that change, he demonstrates he’s now ready.”

Transformation of a Transgender Teen, HT to Challies. “Eva was in a church luncheon when she got an email from her 12-year-old daughter Grace. (Their names have been changed.) ‘Mom and Dad, I need to tell you I’m not actually a girl,’ she read. ‘My pronouns are they/them.'”

Pilgrimage to Dust, HT to Challies. “As saints united to Christ by faith, we follow after our Savior. Our bodies will continue to weaken in this life as we walk each day closer to death, but our story doesn’t end there either. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we know we too walk towards something greater.”

In a World of Loud, Be a Whisperer. “There are so many women who seek to gain control over others by being loud. (Often, me included.) By demanding . . . by parading . . . by yelling . . . But the women who have had the most influence in my own life have taken a much softer approach.”

Chapters, Verses, and Their Five Avoidable Challenges. Chapter and verse divisions weren’t in the original manuscripts of the Bible. They were added later and are extremely helpful for finding references. But they can cause some problems, too, if we use them the wrong way.

The Unappreciated Blessing of Busyness. “Is busyness always a bad thing? Like every time? Always? Hmm. I think we can nuance this better. See, there’s a difference between busy and hurry. Busy is when you have a lot on your plate. Hurry is when you have too much on your plate.”

But we also sometimes have to learn How to Graciously Say No. “I’m a people pleaser. So in the moment, it’s easier just to say ‘yes’ when someone asks me to do something. But ‘yes’ is a check future me must cash. And that’s when the problems start…”

Why Would You Steal My Words When I Might Give Them Freely, HT to Linda. On plagiarism, intentional or accidental.

I can’t decide whether this is remarkable or scary. Maybe both. HT to Steve Laube.

Have a good Saturday!

Edited to add: I meant to mention that I’m being interviewed on Kurt and Kate Mornings on Moody Radio Florida on Tuesday, July 12, around 8:10 a.m. EDT or shortly thereafter. They want to talk about my blog post on regret. There’s a link on their page to listen live if you’d like to. Plus I’ll try to have someone record it like we did before. I’d appreciate your prayers!

Laudable Linkage

Here are some of the good reads found this week.

Four Compelling Reasons I Am Pro-Life, HT to Challies. I can echo just about all this. I’d add to the science section that the DNA of an embryo or fetus is separate from its mother’s. So an unborn baby is not just part of the mother’s body.

Life Is Precious, HT to Challies. “Are children a limit on personal autonomy? Yes. There’s no getting around it. They take resources. They need help, care, support, food, time, energy, and the list goes on and on. They need everything supplied to them for a long time. And is there a better way to use autonomy than this?”

Whose Choice? HT to Challies. “In 1973 I was 19 years old and a sophomore in college when the Supreme Court decided the Roe vs Wade case and legalized abortion. Honestly, however, I never expected the Court’s landmark decision to affect me personally.”

Tell God the Unvarnished Story. “Though we profess that God is all-seeing and all-knowing, that he understands not merely the actions of our hands and the thoughts of our minds but even the intentions of our hearts, still we sometimes feel as if we need to hold back from telling him all that we have thought, all that we have done, all that we have desired. Yet if we are to confess our sins before him, we need to confess them all, for he knows them anyway.”

Finding Family, HT to Challies. “God’s family is a precious thing, bound by wine and bread instead of blood and resemblance. Its members don’t dress alike, share a uniform culture or a common language. But whether it be in a building or a living room, whether through candles and liturgy or guitars and blue jeans, whenever believers gather, we belong to each other. And wherever two or more of us come together, Jesus is there.”

When the Mob Shows Up the Monday After Roe, HT to Challies. “Using umbrellas and masks to shield their identities from security cameras, they smashed almost every ground-floor window on the side of the building that hadn’t yet been boarded up and covered the building in vile graffiti aimed specifically at Christians.”

These posts are a few years old, but they were just shared on the Elisabeth Elliot Quotes Facebook page recently: Lar’s and Elisabeth’s Love Story and Elisabeth Elliot’s Final Days.

If You Find Listening to Sermons Boring, Try This, HT to Challies. “During my lifetime I reckon I’ve heard about 4,000 sermons. Often I have been challenged, uplifted, provoked, transformed. Sadly, other times, I have been bored.”

On the Supreme Court Decision to Overturn Roe v. Wade. A look at the legal arguments.

Happy 4th to my fellow Americans! It’s nice that it made for a long weekend this year.

Laudable Linkage

Here are some good reads found this week:

How to Make the Case Against Abortion in Less Than a Minute, HT to Challies. With the Supreme Court ruling on abortion in the news, abortion discussions will multiply. This video helps pare pro-life position to key points.

Confess Your Sins to God When Applying Scripture. “It is good for us to think about the different spheres and directions for our Bible application. But confessing sin is often a necessary step in the process. It is not just that we need a different strategy for loving our neighbor or a new approach to handling gossip. Frequently, we must confess that what we have been doing (or not doing) is offensive to God and deserving of his anger.”

Dear Daughter: On Outrage and Its Remedy. “Outrage is when you get really upset about someone else’s decisions or actions — so upset that you want them to be punished or forced to change. Outrage insists on being heard. It always points a finger but never at itself. It assumes it is the supreme authority on a matter regardless of whether it has any actual knowledge of it. It creates caricatures of its opponents and refuses to acknowledge the complexities of their human souls.”

Teach Us to Number Our Days, HT to Challies. “Psalm 90:12 speaks of ‘numbering our days,’ but like these two toddlers, we often don’t get it right. While we know exactly how many candles should go on our birthday cake (even if we prefer that no one else knew), we still tend to get the math wrong.”

5 Reasons We Should Not Stop Using Male Pronouns for God, or to turn it around, because the title confused me at first: why we should use male pronouns for God. HT to Challies. “It is right to believe that God is transcendent: God is not a man. Even little children learn in the catechism that ‘God is a Spirit and has not a body like men.’ And certainly, in Scripture God’s character and actions are sometimes described using feminine imagery (cf. Isa 49:15). But none of that means we should abandon male pronouns for God.”

How Were the Books of the Bible Chosen? “Inspired Scripture was recognized, not chosen. Genuine works by prolific artists such as Monet and Degas hang in museums because art experts have recognized them to be authentic pieces, not forgeries. They didn’t choose any of the paintings to be a Monet or a Degas. They scrutinized them for the unique signs of the artist’s imprint and recognized them as genuine.”

Sky Painting, HT to Challies. “I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a boring sky. Even when the sky is an unending morass of steely grey cloud that stretches from horizon to horizon, I’ll give you that it’s technically dull, there’s a lack of sunlight, but it’s hardly boring.” I love the conclusion here.

Laudable Linkage

Here are a few of the good reads found this week:

First Love. “As I watched all of this unfold, I also watched what being around this young man did for the members of our church and me. There is something contagious about being around someone with that first love. There were several things I noticed in this man’s life that gave me pause to consider my own spiritual life.”

Why You Should Name and Even Feel Negative Emotions, HT to Challies. “I rarely dealt with or named my emotions—at least not the “negative” ones. They had to be killed, banished, ignored, and stuffed. I learned this from both Christian circles (like the counselor above) and my own fears. I didn’t want others to see my emotions. Negative emotions always equaled sin and weakness in my mind, a reason for people to look down their noses at me. So I tried to kill my negative feelings with kindness—or gratitude. But what if there’s goodness in every emotion—even in the ones we don’t like so much?”

When the Story Doesn’t Have a Happy Ending, HT to Challies. “The ‘successful’ missionaries always have lots of numbers. They fill their newsletters with compelling stories and photographs of large groups of believers. But nobody gives presentations about evangelistic events where no one showed up, or posts a picture of the local pastor who abused his daughter, or writes a newsletter about the exciting convert who just slowly disappears.”

Tyranny Follows Where Truth Fades, HT to Challies. “Having escaped the tyrannical regime of North Korea, where criticism of ‘Dear Leader’ can land you (and your family) in a concentration camp, she never anticipated the thought control she’d find at this elite American university.”

Speaking Truth in Marital Conflict, HT to Challies. “We know that when couples use words like alwaysnever, and only to describe each other’s behavior or to express a complaint, it will not help to resolve their conflict. These words exaggerate and overgeneralize in a way that provokes a spouse to defensiveness. Instead of considering and talking about their spouse’s concern, an accused spouse will be tempted to prove that they are not always guilty of this or that behavior.”

What “Leah’s Eyes Were Weak” Means—and What It Says About Bible Interpretation, HT to Challies. Admittedly, the state of Leah’s eyes doesn’t affect any major doctrine. Our opinions about what the statement about her eyes in Scripture means is not a hill to die on. But I appreciate the process Mark Ward takes us through when a passage of Scripture isn’t clear and even commentators disagree.

How Can I Be a Good Father When Mine Walked Out?

How Making an If/Then List Can help Your Mental Health, HT to Linda. “Recently, while going through the grief of a loss and all the emotional turmoil that can entail, I made myself an ‘if/then list.’ I thought through what helps—really helps—me in any given mood or symptom, and then made myself a list with easy, actionable steps to take if I found myself in any of those situations.”

This is as good a time as any for my occasional reminder that linking to a post does not mean full endorsement of everything about that site. If a friend’s link sends me to a site I’ve never visited before, and I consider sharing the post, I’ll look at the “about” section to have some idea where the person is coming from. I wouldn’t share something I have strong reservations about without some caveats, but obviously I don’t know everything about a site when I’ve just read one post there. And we often have some disagreements even with our dearest friends. We need to be discerning in all we read.

I watched a program last night in which what I would consider to be normal father-son love and support brought a couple of people to tears. I wondered if seeing such interaction was so rare in the world that it brought forth such an emotion. Maybe these folks didn’t have that fatherly support–or maybe they did, and the memory brought tears. At any rate, I very much agree with the statement below. Happy Father’s Day tomorrow to the dads out there. Keep up the good work. It’s vital.

Laudable Linkage

I have just a few links to share this week:

Prayers That God Will Not Answer. “There are times when it seems like God does not hear us. There are times when it seems like God has become deaf to our prayers and unresponsive to our cries. There are times when we seek but do not find, knock but do not find the door opened. Why is it that God sometimes does not answer our prayers?”

Embodied Discernment: Learning to Discern With Our Hearts. Minds, and Actions, HT to Challies. “Where I went wrong is that my discernment only engaged my mind—and if you’re like me, maybe you’ve gone wrong in this way too. Why is this a problem? Doesn’t discernment only require logic and study?”

5 Steps to Deal with a Distressing Situation. “Based on 1 Samuel chapter 30, I want to share with you these five biblical steps when we face adverse situations which cause great distress and bitterness.”

Patsy at InstaEncouragements is hosting a summer book club reading and sharing insights on Aging With Grace: Flourishing In an Anti-Aging Cultureby Sharon W. Betters and Susan Hunt. Discussion on the first chapter is here. It’s not too late to join in!