Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

I am behind again in my blog reading, but here are posts that stood out to me this week:

Judging the Sins of Our Fathers, HT to Challies. “It should also make us less sanctimonious and more cautious when we judge the sins of our fathers and the systems in which they were participants. Our hands are not so clean.”

Give Me Nineteen Men“: Muslim Missions Twenty Years after 9/11, HT to Challies. “It could not have been a better time to go. Going when circumstances looked so dark made a statement to our new neighbors: we weren’t afraid because we knew Jesus went with us. It also bore testimony that we loved the people of the Arabian Peninsula, and that we had something important to share with them.”

The Americans Who Don’t Want to Leave Afghanistan, HT to Challies. “But there are indeed Americans who want to stay in Afghanistan. I don’t know how many and I don’t know the story of each one. But there are more who want to stay than you might think. Why? Because they love God and they love Afghans.”

Are Pro-Lifers Just “Pro-Forced Birth?” HT to Challies. “Abortion advocates are brilliant at playing word games. Using clever rhetorical moves, they are able to make protecting preborn children look bad and killing preborn children look good.”

Does This Really Matter? HT to Challies. “How we spend our days isn’t just how we spend our lives. It’s how we become who we are and who we will be. It’s not just about what we’re doing, but the heart behind how and why we’re doing it.”

All We Need. “Earlier this week a friend and I were talking about the difficulty of not casting blame when other people let us down.  We came up with a pretty simple prayer from the perspective of frail and fallible human beings who are walking side-by-side along life’s path with other frail and fallible human beings.”

Finalists of the 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, HT to Laura. These are always so fun.

And finally, I just happened across this video. Having a little fun with the William Tell Overture:

Laudable Linkage

Here are several posts that spoke to me this week:

What Can God Do with Broken Hearts? “Where we tend to dispose of what has been broken, God treasures it. Where the human instinct is toward those who are confident, assertive, and self-sufficient, the divine eye is drawn to those who are humble, who are contrite in spirit, and who tremble at God’s Word. Where the world looks to those who are whole and strong, God looks to those who are weak and broken, for his specialty is bringing much from little, beauty from ashes, strength from weakness.”

It’s a Terrible Thing for a Sheep to Go Astray, HT to Challies. “Baarack probably thought it was a great adventure when she wandered off from her flock. Yet, fast-forward a few years, and that freedom was shown to be a massive problem. With no-one to look after her or encourage her, she was close to death.”

Has God Abandoned Me? “He bends down and begins writing in the dirt. The Bible doesn’t tell us what he wrote. I wonder if that’s because his intention was deeper than words. He wanted to show us he’s not afraid to stoop low into our dirtiest messes and get our dirt on his hands.”

Is Your Wisdom Really Wise? “Although I’ve never seen these qualities hanging on a wall like the fruit of the Spirit, James 3:17 provides us a compact description of ‘the fruit of wisdom.'”

Being the Bad Guy, HT to Challies. “The thing is, all my terrible plots have ended in failure. I guess I’m not really that great at being an evil mastermind. Somehow, the children have always found a way to defeat me. Which is fine. Actually, I’m happy. I want the bad guys to lose, too.”

5 Things to Say to Help a Depressed Christian. “While these descriptions can help you understand depression a little more, you don’t have to know if someone has been clinically diagnosed to help them. You don’t have to be a counselor to be a loving and compassionate friend.”

The Commitment Cycle. “It’s a reminder to slow down, do less, and go deeper on the stuff that really matters. I want to be intentional about optimizing for quality over quantity, choosing focus over frenzy.”

No Purpose for Old Folks, HT to Challies. Loved this story with it’s ironic title.

The World Needs Your Story, HT to Challies. “I don’t need to go viral for my contribution to the world to be valuable. My story doesn’t have to be seen by the masses to be meaningful.”

Looking the World Back to Grace, HT to The Story Warren. A delightful piece about how Anne of Green Gables sees things: “If Anne seems out of touch with reality, it is because she is in touch with a deeper reality. Matthew and Marilla are good people, but they are pragmatic people, in bad need of a reminder that there is more to their world than meets the eye.”

A Prayer for Our Nation on September 11. “We remember the fear and uncertainty we felt that September morning. But like the Americans at Fort McHenry in 1814, we also remember the hope you gave us as the smoke began to clear and we saw our star-spangled banner, still waving, unfurled over the battlefield our enemies meant to be our place of defeat. Lord, encourage and strengthen us on this day, for You are our true hope.”

It’s hard to believe it’s been twenty years since 9/11. I shared my experiences and impressions of that day here as well as subsequent anniversaries. One of the young men in our church shared the following verse in the aftermath. Life is short and uncertain. Only in God is our refuge, strength, and comfort. My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones that day.

Shared from The Story Warren, William Blake’s poem, “On Another’s Sorrow.”

Laudable Linkage

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Here are some noteworthy reads and a couple of listens discovered this week:

When Furrows Fight Back, HT to The Story Warren. This is timely, with Labor Day on Monday: God’s creation of work before the fall and redemption of work after the fall.

Navigating Cross-Cultural Relationships, HT to Challies. “It is becoming increasingly common that, wherever you live, you will find yourself relating with someone from another culture. This is true in workplaces, neighbourhoods and churches. When confronted with a different culture, there are three common reactions.”

On Divisions and the Kingdom, HT to Challies. “So are you growing in righteousness, and peace, and joy? All the things which we are absorbing, all the debates we are throwing ourselves into, all of our stances, all of our focus and attention on the things which divide, all of our talking points….are these bringing about righteousness and peace and joy? Maybe, then, they aren’t the stuff the kingdom is made of.”

How to Speak with Grace, HT to Lisa. “How do we ensure we heal rather than hurt? Compliment rather than crush? Encourage rather than extinguish? How on earth do we speak with grace?”

10 False Versions of Jesus People Are Falling For. “Our culture presents us with so many versions of Jesus, letting us make Him in our own image. Maybe you’ve come to depend on a false Jesus and didn’t even realize it. If you are struggling to find peace, read about these false Jesuses with an open mind. Consider what Jesus said about Himself and test your beliefs against the truth from Scripture.”

Preaching the Funeral Sermon I Once Dreaded, HT to Challies. Beautiful.

5 Things Special Needs Families Wish the Church Knew. “We expect the world to shun us for being different, but not the church. Youth and children’s ministers are missing an enormous blessing for themselves and rich experiences for everyone involved by ignoring this issue.”

The “Revive Our Hearts” radio program for women with Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth is celebrating its twentieth anniversary. I read the blog, but I don’t hear the program—the Christian radio station I listen to doesn’t carry it. They have the episodes online, but I just don’t think to find and listen to them, unless I hear about something special like Valerie Elliot Shephard’s episodes about her parents, Jim and Elisabeth Elliot. But I enjoyed this “Birth Story” of the broadcast as well as On the Eve of Twenty Years for Nancy’s journal entries and prayers as she considered stepping out to start this ministry.

If you’re a podcast listener, ThinkBible for women has just started a new one with the same name. I’ve been reading their blog for a few months now. I was not familiar with the main blog owner/podcaster, but she used to have a list of contributing writers on the blog, and I knew a few of them personally. One of my favorite people of all time, Claudia Barba, is interviewed in the second podcast. I could not find the podcast on Apple podcasts, but it’s on Spotify and other venues and can be listened to on the ThinkBible website as well.

30 Creative September Activities for Kids, with a printable list, HT to The Story Warren.

This is interesting: time lapse of a dandelion over a month:

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30).

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8).

Laudable Linkage

Here’s another list of good reads I cam across recently.

Gentle and Lowly Book Club. Linda is hosting weekly discussions of Dane Ortlund’s Gentle and Lowly: the Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers from September 12 through October 3. I haven’t read the book yet, but I have heard many good things about it. Reading with others always enhances the experience and brings out more than I gleaned on my own.

Afghan Pastors Ask for Prayer, HT to Challies. “As Taliban forces have swallowed up Afghanistan and even now the capital city of Kabul, pastors in the country have been emailing and messaging me over the last few days, even hours, anxious for prayer.” See also Pray for Afghanistan.

The Situation in Afghanistan, and Ways to Pray and Help, HT to Challies. “Jesus is literally all they have left.”

What Does It Mean to Be Filled with the Spirit? It’s interesting that this post came up just after reading about the same topic in the ESV Study Bible notes and Warren Wiersbe’s “Be” commentary on Acts and a Bible study discussion at church on the first five chapters of Acts—and they all agreed.

Perfect Courtesy Toward All in the Worst of Times, HT to Challies. “Paul tells Titus to remind his flocks of seven important Christian virtues. Their need to be reminded implies a tendency to forget. Apparently, top-to-bottom cultural corruption creates a need for repeated conscience re-calibration.”

How to Experience Peace in Spite of Unsafe People. “We think if we can escape their presence and any reminders of them, we’ll have peace. My experience in Switzerland reminded me peace doesn’t come from distance from them but from closeness with Jesus.”

5 Ways to Reflect Christ’s Character in Contentious Conversations. “God tells us that we are to seek peace, not contention. Peace isn’t simply the absence of conflict, and it isn’t a passive act. We have to pursue it with an active and committed determination, searching for ways to maintain peace with others.” 

Mom Guilt and the God Who Sees, HT to Challies. “Mom guilt. Moms today are well acquainted with the term. We use it as a kind of shorthand to express an all-too-common feeling we face in the everyday events of mothering.”

Dear Next Generation. Though this is addressed to young people, the advise is good for any age. “I didn’t really think about the gospel all that much. At a young age, I believed that Jesus died on the cross for my sin, but that’s where the story ended for me. I had never considered that the gospel should impact my everyday life. Why would I need to hear the gospel anymore?”

This is interesting: four cellists play Ravel’s “Bolero”—on one cello. I wonder how many practices it took to coordinate without bumping into each other. I like the first comment on YouTube: “When everyone except the cellist forgets their instruments: It’s ok guys, we can make it work.”

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

Once again I’m way behind in my blog reading, but here are a few that spoke to me this week:

Success Beyond What We Can Handle. “Their success outpaced their sanctification. The level of their accomplishments rose faster than the growth of their character. Their vocational achievements came at the cost of spiritual achievements. They gained more success than they could handle and it led to great harm.”

I Need You to Read Your Bible, HT to Challies. “I need what is true and biblical and dependable. Maybe it’s just me, but ‘God’s got this!’ doesn’t have the same effect on my heart as ‘Hezekiah prayed and turned his face to the wall.’ The first is a plucky, optimistic but neutral response that flies from the mouth with good intention but little thought to the weightiness of a person’s struggle. The latter laments the person’s struggle, points them to Scripture, and says, ‘This is hard and God hears your prayers.'”

A Church Only Explained by the Gospel, HT to Challies. “When outsiders look in, they should struggle a bit to explain what makes us gather together. If they can say, “Well, it makes sense that those people would share the same church — they look alike, think alike, etc.,” we do not give confront them with the stupefying power of the gospel. The grace of God unites like no other force. Not even our natural friendships work this way.”

Your Work Is Worthy, HT to Linda. “We’re word people, we know language matters! And yet writers have generally terrible habits when it comes to how they talk about their work.”

I was looking up a song recently and found these old recordings by Bill Pearce and Dick Anthony. Bill Pearce’s “Night Sounds” programs ministered to my heart in my early Christian life. I’m glad someone put these old recordings online.

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

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I’m way behind on my blog reading this week, but here are a few thought-provoking posts I came across:

Strength for the Weary, HT to Challies. “As I sat with the mid-week church group, the people around me had no idea how I felt. What they saw was a man dressed in business casual who had just come from a day of work, and he had a smile on his face. What they did not know was I was forcing that smile.”

Don’t Feel Sorry for or Fear for Your Kids; Raise Them up to Walk in Faith, HT to Challies. “Don’t feel sorry for or fear for your kids because the world they are going to grow up in is not what it used to be. God created them and called them for the exact moment in time that they’re in. Their life wasn’t a coincidence or an accident.” This encourages me as a grandparent—I admit I have been concerned about the world my grandson is growing up in.

Ask the Forbidden Question in Bible Study, HT to Challies. On asking, “What does this verse mean to me?” “The reality is, there is an objective truth. Every biblical text was written with authorial intent—human author and the Spirit. . . . We must ask what it means to us, to our lives, to our personal discipleship.”

What Response Are You Going For? Though written from the standpoint of a Bible teacher, I think it’s good for writers as well.

Netflix’s “Pray Away” Seethes with Contempt for Christianity, HT to Challies. “As someone who worked in Hollywood for decades, I’ve seen firsthand the contempt the entertainment industry has for Christianity. But only after I left my gay identity—in exchange for a new identity in Christ—did I realize the special resentment Hollywood reserves for converts like me.”

I’ve seen a couple of videos about baby sea turtles hatching and making their way to the sea. One source said they hatch through the year, but mostly in summer. What fun to catch sight of them.

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

Here’s another list of good online reads:

To the Woman Who Is Deconstructing. “You’ve been raised with one understanding of who God is, what His Word means, and how you’re supposed to live, but lately the foundation of your faith feels a little . . . fractured. Something you’ve read or experienced or felt has changed you. It’s like you’re wearing a new pair of glasses. Everything you thought you knew about Jesus suddenly looks very different.” I don’t know that I’d equate deconstructing with questioning—though deconstruction probably begins with questions, it seems to indicate those who have gotten past the questions to actually dismantling their belief system. Nevertheless, this post has some good encouragement for when questions about faith come up.

Pastor, Your People Need the Hard Texts, HT to Knowable Word. Good for writers and teachers, too. “We love the highlights of Joseph and Genesis 39. But we also need the lowlights of Genesis 38. God meets us in the lowlights. It’s there in the wreckage of our lives that God shows us the way out.”

Who Gave You the Right? “The sanctified instinct of the Christian heart should not be to discourage but to encourage, not to further demoralize other people but to give them strength, to give them heart, to give them courage.”

Focusing on What I Can Measure, HT to Challies. “My physical health is more than the numbers I can measure. And my spiritual health is, too. It’s always tempting to focus on what I can measure in my relationship with God.”

Patience: More Than a Virtue for Motherhood, HT to The Story Warren. “The last thing I wanted to hear as I hurried the kids to get ready for church were the words I had spoken to them many times during the week, “Mom, remember patience is a virtue and a fruit of the Spirit.” They can’t remember to say thank you or where they last left their shoes, but they remember this?! I was beyond impatient. I was angry and aggravated—but also convicted. How easy it was to come up with such a memorable and catchy quotable to use on my kids, but how hard it was for me to receive it back from them!”

Identifying Stanzas in Lamentations. An interesting, different, and inspirational way to look at probably the most well-known passage in Lamentations—through the pronoun shifts.

How to Brainstorm a Nonfiction Writing Project. I think this would be good for brainstorming other things as well. I tend to just jot lists, but I can see value in this method.

How to Feel Comfortable in Front of a Camera. Often when trying to get a group photo, someone will protest that they hate having their picture taken. As people try to draw them in, they protest more. By trying not to call attention to themselves, they draw more attention. And I’ve often thought, “We all know what you look like anyway!” It’s not like no one else will see them because they’re not in a photo. But I have known of people who grieved because they had few photos of a departed loved one who always shied away from the camera. April‘s tips will help, whether you’re in a photo with a group or alone.

This video, HT to Steve Laube, reminds me of Psalm 8:3-4: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” The God who created the vastness of all the planets and stars and space cares about us and the details of our lives.

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

Here are a few of the noteworthy reads found online this week:

Teachable, HT to Challies. What teachability is, isn’t, contrasts with faux teachability. This hit on a number of points I’ve been thinking about lately.

Joy and Idol-Smashing, HT to Challies. “If I’m not reading my Bible, praying diligently, loving my church, hiding God’s Word in my heart, then my earthly relationships, especially the closest ones, will suffer from my inattention to Jesus. I can’t see my idols if I’m not looking at Jesus.”

Judge Not Lest You Be Blind, HT to Edie Melson. “Choosing not to judge someone else? It’s called grace — and judging others, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, blinds us to grace. I want to be more lavish with grace, while ignoring the impulse to judge. After all, how would I want others to respond to me? With judgement … or with grace?”

Sticks, Stones, and Words . . . Can Cut Me Deeply, HT to Linda. “Words transform. They heal. And they can…and sometimes do…’hurt me.’”

The 7 Types of Rest that Every Person Needs, HT to Linda. “Have you ever tried to fix an ongoing lack of energy by getting more sleep — only to do so and still feel exhausted? If that’s you, here’s the secret: Sleep and rest are not the same thing, although many of us incorrectly confuse the two.”

Even to Your Old Age: New Life for Christian Grandparents, HT to Challies. “What does the Bible say about grandparenting? Very little. Although past generations matter significantly to the biblical authors, the Bible does not give grandparents specific attention. The word grandparent does not even appear in the English Bible. Nevertheless, we know this role is essential to God, our extended families, and our local churches.”

Recommended, HT to Challies, a not-so-hypothetical short story.

This was one of my favorite Olympic moments. A teenager from Tunisia won a gold medal when not expected to. When discussing the swimmers, the announcers didn’t even mention his name til almost halfway through the race. The last few seconds of the last lap were pretty exciting!

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

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Here are some of the thought-provoking reads discovered this week:

On Worship. A very clear, simple, and helpful explanation.

Trusting God in the Midst of Tragedy, HT to Challies. “How do you go on in life when something like this happens? How do you move forward as a husband, a dad, a Pastor? There is no training that can prepare you for this.”

When God Contests His Children, HT to Challies. “During the fight, God caused Jacob to undergo a complete reversal. Jacob went from striving against God to clinging to Him, and that is where he received the blessing.”

Love Your (Imperfect) Pastors, HT to Challies. “When our expectations for how our pastors must act or behave center on our preferences or pet agendas, we likely will lose the eager anticipation we should have when gathering with God’s people.”

Being Discerning and Being Critical Are Not the Same Thing, HT to Challies. “There seems to be a fine line between discernment and just being critical. So, how can you tell the difference between a discerning person and a critical one?”

A Spirituality of Quitting, HT to Challies. Sometimes it’s the right thing to do.

Kindness: More Than Just a Random Act, HT to The Story Warren. “While there’s nothing wrong with encouraging people to do nice things, the Bible has a radically different take on kindness. It teaches that kindness is a fruit of the Spirit, a supernatural gift from God. Kindness is much more than being friendly, generous, and considerate. Kindness is what God is.”

Using a Literature Approach to teach Early American History, HT to The Story Warren. I’m not endorsing the product mentioned–I don’t know anything about it beyond this article. But I love this idea. I had zero interest in history until college, when a professor made it come alive for me. And I’ve learned so much reading historical fiction which then leads me to look up more about the history it covers.

How to Talk to Kids About Their Art. I wish I had thought of some of these approaches when my kids were young! And it’s an interesting observation that “too much empty praise can have negative effects on our kids’ motivations.”

Sorry, I don’t have any videos or graphics today. 🙂

Have a great Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

Here’s another list of good online reads:

Biblical Literacy: Jen Wilkin on the Importance of Bible Study, HT to Knowable Word. “By her twenties, Wilkin understood it was possible to drown in waves of opinion. If she was going to learn to swim, she would have to learn to read the Bible for herself.”

On Basketball, Spiritual Disciplines, and Sanctification. “I had in mind a list of characteristics that I felt were necessary for me to sanctified—to be holy. Most of them had something to do with keeping a list of rules or living by a certain standard in my life.” I did, too. I appreciate this testimony of learning that “Sanctification comes through relationship.”

You Will Fail Sometimes. Don’t Quit. “I used to think that there is some point in the Christian life when you arrive, when you finally see that your heart and head and spirit align in some sort of beautiful sphere of sincerity and goodness and true devotion to Christ. But the older I get and the more I have begun to understand why the Bible teaches that we need armor.”

Does Your Prayer Life Need to Change? Sometimes we don’t know where to start–sometimes our routines have turned into ruts. There are helps here for either problem.

Moms and Dads: Show Your Need, HT to Challies. “I wish I would’ve shown my kids my need for Christ more. I worked so hard to show them my godliness that I didn’t show them my need. I should have been more transparent. I should have shown them just how much I needed Jesus.”

Far From Home, HT to Challies. “Some of us include in our spaces only those who support our biases or our preferences; or those who have been born into our circle or have earned membership there. But the Bible is filled with admonitions to welcome and care for the widow, the orphan and the foreigner. It doesn’t say anything about first determining whether or not they deserve it, or how well they live up to our cultural ideals.”

The Scenes They Leave Out, HT to Challies. “This steady diet of films and books and TV full of action, adventure, and high drama is stimulating. But are we inadvertently teaching ourselves that normal life is not? When the ordinary stuff of daily living is at best a quick montage to set up the real action, aren’t we in danger of losing sight of the fact that the ordinary stuff of daily living is actually most of the real action of real life?”

It‘s Not Martyrdom if You’re Being Obnoxious. “When Christians suffer, there are more possible reasons than just ‘suffering for Jesus.’ Christians, individually or corporately, might be suffering because they’ve said or done stupid things, placing themselves under the divinely designed cosmic order, whereby life is tougher if you’re stupid (as John Wayne allegedly said).”

It Is All a Snare to Me. I don’t always get a lot out of reading other people’s prayers. But this touched home in many areas, reminding me “my greatest snare is myself.”

Should Christians Cuss? HT to Challies. “It is true that Jesus often used sharp, confrontational words, but that is not the same thing as using obscenities.”

2021 Audubon Photography Awards, HT to Challies. Stunning photos of God’s creation.

This is a cute excerpt from a BBC special about “Snow Bears” (which I have not seen):

“But it’s the wrong hole.” Not for the seal! 🙂

Happy Saturday!