Laudable Linkage

With family here this week, I haven’t been at the computer as much as usual. But here are a few good reads I discovered.

The Appropriate Blessing. “We are each sons and daughters of God, our Father. We are each unique and different from one another. Our personalities, quirks, talents, and purposes are as varied as the colored crayons in a 64 Crayola box of crayons.”

Our Understanding of Earth and Our Assumptions of Heaven. “Jesus told us to be like little children, not like great celebrities. He didn’t tell us to be famous, but to be faithful, not to revel in the applause of men but to long for the affirmation of God. Our responsibility is to exercise the gifts and embrace the duties God has given us, no matter what they are, no matter how public, no matter how visible.”

Healthy Distrust of Self. “Paul was not self-focused; he didn’t spend his days beating himself up mentally for his failures and shortcomings. But he did have a healthy distrust of his own inclinations, and he saw to it that the circumstantial doors to those inclinations were kept closed.”

Don’t Let “Discernment” Give Doctrine a Bad Name, HT to Challies. “I get frustrated sometimes by the lack of discernment I see from people who fly the ‘discernment’ banner. Isn’t the whole point of discernment to be able to discern truth from error? To see clearly what is good and right as opposed to what is bad and wrong?”

Steps of Assurance Counseling. “Just like the check engine light on my truck might be caused by any number of issues, doubts as to one’s salvation may be caused by any number of spiritual issues. Because of that, it is very important when counseling someone who is struggling with assurance to properly diagnose the problem.”

Home Library Management: Weed Out the M.U.S.T.Y. Titles, HT to the Story Warren. “Deacquisition. Um, yes…this is also known as ‘culling’ or ‘weeding.’ A painful subject for booklovers, but it is true that some books outlive their usefulness to you. The purpose of weeding is to cultivate the quality of your collection.” Megan shares an acronym to help make those decisions.

Laudable Linkage

Here are some of the posts that resonated with me this week:

Did You Know You Might Be Someone’s Blessing in Disguise? “I don’t remember that nurse’s name, but God does. She never knew how her warmth, genuineness, and kindness blessed us that day. But God does.”

Counseling Your Child About Salvation. When my kids were young, I was greatly concerned with how to know they were ready to be saved rather than just praying a prayer to please parents or fit in. This article has some wise advice.

Something to Eat, HT to Challies. “Too often, when someone first believes in Jesus – especially someone famous – we rush to push them on stage, or sign a book deal, asking them to tell their stories while they still have an empty stomach. They have been raised to new life, but they still need something to eat.”

Judge Not, HT to Challies. “Matthew 7:1 is one of the most needed and one of the most abused statements in the Bible. . . .Yet just because people can misuse a verse does not give us a reason to throw out that verse. The fact is that Matthew 7:1 is a necessary corrective that many Christians need to hear. If we can first clear away the false claims, we will be in a position to let Matthew 7:1 shape us as Jesus intended.”

The American Dream Couldn’t Save My Marriage, HT to Challies. “I am grateful to this country which granted me asylum and opened the door for my permanent residence status. I received many opportunities through which I was able to continue my education, find a better job, and travel freely without fear. When I purchased my first home, I felt I had accomplished the American dream. This and lots of other things ended up going right for me before I had to realize how wrong I had been.”

On Losing Consciousness in Public, HT to Challies. Though I don’t have Seth Lewis’ health problems, my own have frustrated me due to their seeming waste of time and hindrance of doing the things I need and want to do. “My body betrayed me and flipped the power switch without my permission. When something like that happens, I am forced to remember two realities: that I am not in control, and that I am not as strong as I think I am.” But instead of being distressed by those truths, I can trust “there’s no need for despair over weakness because God is still in control and still strong enough to keep his promises for his children.”

What to Remember When God Feels Distant. “Often, it is in seasons of struggle and weariness that we find God’s peace to be most sustaining, His comfort most reassuring, His presence most stabilizing. Maybe we have to come to the end of ourselves to realize He truly is the only Source of everything we need?”

When Church Leadership Goes Wrong. “But it is my conviction, and Honeysett’s, that the majority of leaders who eventually go wrong set out with good desires and noble motives. Their good intentions were not enough to protect them from eventually abusing their power and misusing their authority. Some of them may have even behaved in abusive ways without knowing they were doing so. Yet ‘lack of intention doesn’t remove culpability. The heart is deceitful, and we are never fully aware of our own motives.'”

Being Senior. “In any other context but aging, the word senior is very positive.”

Laudable Linkage

I have a fairly short list to share today.

Elizabeth the Faithful”–a Small Reflection on Our Queen, HT to Challies. I’ve read several tributes to and reflections of Queen Elizabeth, but I particularly liked this one, which contains an except of David Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ sermon after her she first became queen.

Why I’m No Longer Trying to Be Extraordinary, HT to the Story Warren. “Who are the people who left a lasting mark on you? My guess is they weren’t superstars, celebrity pastors, or people with global influence. In my life, the most influential people were the teachers, coaches, pastors, and family members whose roots went down deep. They led lives of quiet faithfulness, regularly slowing down long enough to be present with those around them.”

Will You Be Good at Your Thing Today? “There are many things we can be good at in this worldGod gives several talents to each person. But on this morning on this day, this nurse being good at drawing blood might make all the difference to this young boy. Whatever you do today, if you can, do it well. It might move someone from feeling terrified to being glad to see you

Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Apply a Passage to Others, HT to Challies. “Some expositors and exegetes are gifted at applying Scripture. It’s as though these communicators have read our minds. They seem to effortlessly connect a text to our experiences and emotions. I envy them. Application doesn’t come easily for me. I have to work at it.”

Little Kids and Big Emotions. “Is there a way to help our children to begin to manage their feelings without stuffing them, prettying them up, or feeling as if there’s no room for them?”

For writers, seen at The Funnies, HT to Challies:

Just after praying for some dear to my heart, I was blessed and comforted to see this verse in my morning reading in Daily Light today:

Laudable Linkage

Here are a few of the thought-provoking reads found this week:

Hey, Christian, Don’t “Quiet Quit” Your Faith, HT to Challies. “But enough about the noisy quitters! What about the quiet quitters of the faith? There’s been a lot of ink spilled over the rise of the ‘Dones’, those who have just finished with the faith. But there’s a way of leaving the faith that’s less obvious. . . “

Driven by Awe, HT to Challies. “When Christians think of fighting sin, we usually imagine strict self-discipline and saying ‘no’ to wrong desires. Certainly, self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit and a means of helping us fight our sin. But, what if we had another tool given to us by the Spirit to help us overcome?”

When You Hear of a Scandal, HT to Challies. “I’m no longer naïve. I’m not surprised when I hear of a Christian leader falling into sin. I have, however, learned four important lessons on how to guard my own heart when I hear of another leader who’s fallen.”

Though My Flesh May Fail: Reflections on Chronic Suffering From the Hospital Bed, HT to Challies. “I’m a firm believer in the sovereignty of God’s grace. I believe everything that happens to the believer is for good. After receiving an autoimmune diagnosis and seeing the subsequent bills roll in, though, this conviction has been put to the test. Amidst temptations to doubt, God continues to reveal His good purposes for me in my affliction. As I sit in my hospital bed today, three lessons stand out among the rest as reminders of the sovereignty of God’s grace and His goodness in my life.”

Planning Like Paul. “Some Christians think that making plans for your life is the opposite of being Spirit-led. . . They’ll tell you that if you make plans then you aren’t trusting God. What you really need to do is just let go and let God. But is this the model of the Christian life that Scripture presents us with? Should we never make plans? Are goals simply a manifestation of a lack of faith?”

A Few Handfuls for Weary Little Listeners. I love this idea and examples of speaking directly to children in a message.

Stories Are Light. “Isn’t this why we read to our children, why we fill their minds and hearts with true and beautiful story? Why we seek to cultivate their imagination and sense of what is good and holy? This beautiful confession took my words away. Wow, I said. You’re right. That is beautiful and true and wise.”

Tomorrow is the twenty-first anniversary of 9/11. Some years I have acknowledged the anniversary with post, but not always. But I do like to take a moment to think about it. Many of us promised we would “never forget” that tragedy, and I want to keep that promise. It’s a good time to pray for the survivors, the families of the fallen still living with loss, the fight against terrorism.

Laudable Linkage

I’ve been saying for weeks that I was behind on my blog reading. I’m almost caught up now, as evidenced by this long list of good reads.

Imagine Reading The Lord of the Rings the Way You Read the Bible, HT to Challies. “The aim of the story is really to sweep you away in the narrative, to carry you along in a story in which you are not the starring character but in which the idea is to fall in love with other characters. That’s how epic stories are meant to be read—not as tiny little morality tales, but as horizon-busting, eye-bugging, world-broadening, even life-shaping experiences.

Sometimes I Struggle With the Bible, HT to Challies. “I relate to what Mark Twain allegedly said, that ‘it ain’t the parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me; it’s the parts that I do understand.’ It is comforting to know that one of my personal heroes, C.S. Lewis, shared similar feelings about the more perplexing parts of the Bible.”

I Should. . . “When we’re here, sighing over “shoulds” that overwhelm, our brain space ends up reading more like a to-do list than an ongoing conversation with God. We spend less time listening to God, and more time just asking him to help us get enough done today. The words of Jesus in Luke 10:42 strike a chord when the shoulds start to drive our days.”

Harmony of the Gospels. “When you carefully read the four Gospels, you will inevitably . . . encounter what might appear to be discrepancies or contradictions between the Gospels. How should you approach apparent contradictions? The following four starting points will help readers of the Gospels approach apparent contradictions in a helpful way.”

Is Your Gospel an Urban Legend? HT to Challies. “If you talk a big game about ‘the gospel,’ but don’t live like it’s true, the people you do life with will begin to suspect you don’t actually believe it. Worse yet, they may begin to disbelieve it themselves.”

Intersectionality and My Adoptive Family, HT to Challies. “If our family took these ideas seriously — as serious proponents intend — they would suffocate our love, steal our joy, and destroy my family. Intersectionality brings the division of mother against child and son against father in very different ways than Christ does.”

The Purpose of Discipline. “God gives us His grace during seasons of discipline so that we come to know Him more deeply. His desire is for us to know Him increasingly and intimately.”

4 Truths for Your Insecure Moments. “The next time you feel insecure, remind yourself that the parts of you that make you unique are the precise parts God wants to use to fulfill his purpose through you.”

I Didn’t Want to Go to Church, HT to Challies. “Recently it took everything within me to drag myself to church (for Wednesday night Bible study). My body was tired, my mind exhausted, and my heart fatigued. Further, it meant bringing both children who, for one reason or another, always decide to act wild on those nights. Long story short, I went to church that evening.”

First Friday Prayers; Galatians 1:24. Lauren takes every first Friday of the month to share how we can convert Scripture into prayer. This time an overlooked phrase from Galatians packs a big punch.

Living With a Legacy. The Elisabeth Elliot Foundation newsletter referenced a nice article in World Magazine about Valerie, Elisabeth’s daughter, growing up with the legacy of Jim and Elisabeth (I can see the article on my phone but not on my computer. World only allows a few views before hiding their articles behind a paywall).

These verses grabbed my attention when I was in another part of 1 Timothy 6. Don’t they sound just like the spirit of our age? May we share right words with a right heart.

Laudable Linkage

I have just a short list of links to share as I am still way behind in my blog reading.

Six Steps to Shield Yourself from Satan, HT to Aritha. “So, no matter how many flaming darts Satan fires against us, the shield of faith can extinguish them all. But that doesn’t happen automatically. Shields need to be picked up, and used. So, how do we do that? Here are steps I have found helpful.”

The Lord’s Prayer: Antidote to Expressive Individualism, HT to the Story Warren. “Expressive individualism, the view that who you are is who you feel yourself to be on the inside, is the dominant approach to identity formation in our day. . . This approach to self-understanding is a challenge to a Christian view of the self at every level.”

Inconvenienced, HT to Lisa. “I feel the sting of guilt because I don’t want to be inconvenienced in this way. I want to carry on with my personal schedule as planned. I’m ashamed to say this. I don’t want my routine interrupted. How totally selfish is that?” I can identify.

Three Significant Ways to Teach Your Son The Value of Marriage. “With marriage feeling so ‘optional’ in our present culture, how do we communicate its value and significance to our sons?

Update: I thought I hit “publish” this morning! I guess I didn’t. My apologies.

Laudable Linkage

Here are some great thought-provoking reads found recently:

Bored With Christianity? HT to Challies. “In a world that offers such multitudinous choices and options for life and happiness–why persist in this same old religion with the same old book?”

Christ’s Crucifixion Isn’t Child Sacrifice, HT to Challies. “Many professing Christians are uncomfortable with God killing his Son as the penalty for our crimes. They see this as child sacrifice. From their perspective, it’s impossible for such a doctrine to be consistent with God’s character when it’s so clear that God abhors the killing of innocent children.”

Unfathomable. “Give them a taste of this big, wild, wonderful world that was made by a bigger, wilder, more wonderful God. It won’t make any of your problems, or theirs, disappear. But I have a strong hunch that in the presence of something so large, they will be reminded of the One who is Unfathomable himself.”

Cosmic Significance Therapy. “For Moses, the aim of considering the brevity of life isn’t hopelessness, but a proper outlook—an eternal perspective. And this perspective shapes how we live and work today.”

When You’re Up to Your Neck in Mud—Sing! HT to Challies. “Singing in adversity gives hope and lifts spirits. If that’s true in general terms, how much truer wouldn’t that be if we were up to our necks in mud and singing songs that actually spoke of hope, songs like psalms and biblical hymns?”

I’m Not an “Angel Mommy,” and Here’s Why. “As a follower of Christ and a mother who suffered three miscarriages, I have a vastly different view of what my babies are experiencing. People who die don’t earn angel wings.”

The Delight and Distress of Preaching, HT to Challies. I’ve experienced what this writer discusses, even though I am not a preacher and have done little speaking. By the way, I would much rather hear a preacher or teacher who feels like this than one who is brash and overconfident.

Knowledge Is Not a Bank, HT to Challies. “Knowledge is not a bank. It’s more like a garden. Truths and skills that are planted in our minds can bear good fruit in our lives. But just as a neglected garden will run wild with useless weeds, so our minds can easily become a wilderness of distractions, anxieties, and trivialities that choke out the good and productive knowledge we’ve accumulated before it gets the chance to take root and grow into real applications in our real lives.”

Reject the Algorithm, HT to Challies. This isn’t written from a Christian perspective, but makes some good points for being genuine rather than trying to get the most clicks.

Song of Suffering: A Short Film Featuring Joni Eareckson Tada, HT to Challies. This video is well worth 13 minutes of your time.

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.”