Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

Here are some of the most noteworthy reads discovered recently:

Be a Peacemaker, Not a Peacekeeper. “For a long time, I thought that working for peace meant staying quiet – withdrawing from conflict, brushing aside whatever was bothering me, ignoring my own feelings and opinions to appease someone else, doing anything to avoid rocking the boat. It seemed like the nice thing to do, even the Christian thing to do. But then I realised that it is not really peacemaking, but peacekeeping.”

Things Revealed, HT to Challies. I was pondering this very concept recently. “A lot of us spend our time trying to read that book called ‘The Secret Things’ while all the time the book called ‘The Things Revealed’ is sitting right in front of us. God has given it to us and it belongs to us and to our children so we won’t just read it but also obey it.”

9 Wrong Ways to Read the Bible (And One Better Way). “When we yawn over the Bible, that’s like a severe asthmatic yawning over the free offer of a ventilator while gasping for air. Read the Bible asking not mainly whom to imitate and how to live but what it shows us about a God who loves to save and about sinners who need saving.”

Fading Joy: Am I Seeking an Experience or a Relationship? “Too often we value a feeling over the reality that would produce that feeling. We want to feel close to God without actually drawing close to God. We want the benefits of a close walk with God without the heart change required to walk with God. Many times, we want the outward trappings without the inward transformation. Our need for an experience can become an idol that dethrones God in our lives.”

Teach What the Bible Says First, HT to Knowable Word. “Sometimes, people who are teaching the Bible try much too hard to be brilliant, giving us their own insights into life rather than letting the brilliance of the Bible speak for itself. Let the Bible speak! I would rather hear one halting, inexperienced speaker show me God in a text of the Bible than hear 1,000 polished pastors give me their three-point, alliterated instructions for life, which are often only loosely based on the actual text.”

The Sin of Provoking. “It’s one thing, as Proverbs cautions, to recognize an angry person and beware; it’s quite another thing to provoke to the point of an angry response an individual who is seeking to do right (and then condemning the person for their angry response).” Yes! I am glad to see this addressed.

Bitter Roots, HT to Challies. “At some time each of us is affected by unfairness and hurt. Each of our stories would be, could be, maybe even should be different had people or situations not altered our path. . . . We can choose to replay wrong and rewind hurt. But when I read God’s Word, I come back time and time again to this.”

A Diligent Wife, HT to Challies. “So, I began to pray. For my marriage, yes. But, more than my marriage, I began to pray for my heart. The kids weren’t going to stop needing me. Giving up my role as a Mom wasn’t an option. But neither was quitting on my marriage. How could I be a wife and a Mom? Was it possible to be both? What could this look like, and where was I to start? What needed to change in me in order to invest more fully in my marriage?” This is the first of a 31-day series that looks great so far.

Wanted: Spiritual Mothers. HT to Challies. “The truth is, you’re never too old to no longer want your mom—the mom you may or may not have ever had. One who not only cares for you physically, but also speaks into your life with spiritual wisdom and comfort, who prays for you and builds you up with words of experience and knowledge, who reminds you of how much God loves you and desires a relationship with you.”

Fall color video, HT to Story Warren. If you need a dose of fall color, these drone shots of gorgeous autumn trees will feed your spirit.

Finally, these ceramic masters are amazing, HT to Steve Laube. They make it look so easy. Some years ago, a man demonstrated to our church what was involved in throwing and shaping clay. He and his wife were going as artists to a country that did not welcome missionaries. As he worked, he pointed our various parallels between what he was doing and what God does for us. Though the whole demonstration was wonderful, the one thing that stood out to me was the intimacy of what he was doing. The wheel is almost in the potter’s lap. He’s bent over it, his arms around it. That picture of God as being over us, surrounding us, carefully watching and shaping us, has stayed with me for years.

Something secondary came to mind as I watched this video: creating art is messy before it is beautiful. The artists aren’t bothered by getting their hands dirty or brushing away shavings. They have the finished project in mind.

Hope you have a lovely weekend!

Laudable Linkage

I was sorry to miss Friday’s Fave Five yesterday. We were out of town for a memorial service for the man who was my husband’s pastor in his teens and college years. His son is my husband’s best friend, and the whole family is like second family to us.

I thought we’d arrive early enough Thursday evening to write an FFF post for Friday, but that didn’t work out. We just got home this morning and had a nap, with more to come, I am sure.

Since I post these links in a draft as I find them, this post was nearly ready to go, minus a video or photo at the end this time.

Carry a Candle. “Because it’s increasingly debilitatingly possible, with the rise of instant global communications and now virtual social outlets, to spend – not just whole afternoons – but whole years of our lives torturing ourselves over the state of nations. Cursing the night.”

I Searched for the Key to Discipleship. “Over time, it became painfully clear to me that the answer to the question of discipleship isn’t as easy as finding the right program. This is something that I learned from our church members by watching them live it out: discipleship isn’t nice, crisp books or carefully planned mission trips. It’s something altogether more intimate, more demanding, and more sacrificial.”

God Is Frustrating, but not in the sense we usually mean the word. HT to Challies.

The Early Christians Were Odd, Too. “It can be disheartening, not to mention frightening, when our culture rejects aspects of Christianity as strange or offensive. When Christians feel isolated and alone, it’s helpful to remember this experience is nothing new for God’s people.”

Is There Such a Thing as Righteous Anger? HT to Challies. “Technically, of course, there is such a thing as an empty gun. But if you think it’s empty and you’re wrong, the consequences can be so tragic it’s better to just pretend that no gun is ever empty, except in very specific situations like cleaning or repairing it. I’m beginning to think we should have a similar attitude towards so-called ‘righteous anger.'”

Do Not Trust Your Anger, HT to the article above. “But unlike our Lord, when we get angry, we can corrupt it. We can complicate our anger with selfishness, wounded pride, impatience, lust for revenge, plus a lot more — and without even realizing it. But surely we can all agree on this: our anger can be good, and it can be bad, and it can even mingle good and bad together. So, we must weigh our anger carefully (and continue to weigh it throughout our lives).”

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

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Here are some noteworthy reads found this week.

On Christians and Vaccines. “Writing about vaccines is going somewhere that angels fear to tread. Last year’s mask controversies pale in comparison to the vaccine discussions going on now.”

Sin Is Death? HT to Challies. “While sin isn’t a substance in itself, that doesn’t make it any less lethal. Sin isn’t just a series or errors or poor judgments with momentary consequences. Sin is taking you somewhere. It’s leading you down a path of decay, a path that ends in spiritual death.”

Relationships 101: One Young Mother’s Journey to Love. “Yet sometimes we find it hard to love anyone, even the most loveable. We may think that God’s greatest command, to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, is also His hardest command. But honestly, the second great command often feels even more impossible. How can we truly love others as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:37–40)?”

Peanut Butter and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, HT to Story Warren. “The table is, for many on this broken Earth, a place of struggle. The gift of food itself, in all its savory, salty, sweet wonder, is for many a source of sin or brokenness or fear or lack. The good has become not good, and we suffer for it. The wrong meal in Eden has polluted every meal since, and though we look to redemption, the shadows still lurk.”

21 Things That Are Still True in 2021, HT to Story Warren. “1. God is still God. He is still on His throne, unshaken by what happens. Nothing takes Him by surprise and nothing is out of His control. 2. Right and wrong aren’t subjective.”

Care. “The cares are valid cause for concern as the world is so rapidly changing,” but “The cares of this world will choke out the Word and cause our lives to become unfruitful.”

God, Don’t You Care? “If God cares, why does the storm continue? Why does he let it get so hard? Why doesn’t he do something?”

What If God Doesn’t Speak to Me? HT to Challies. “Rather than giving directions for receiving prophecy, hearing God speak, or discerning nudges and feelings, the New Testament writers beckon us to immerse ourselves in the writings of Scripture.”

The Hidden Harm of Gender Transition, HT to Challies. “Grace is one of many who have been fast-tracked down a pathway of ‘treatments’ for gender dysphoria, while underlying mental health issues have remained undiagnosed and unaddressed. They are victims of the false claims of gender ideology.”

The Secrets of the World’s Most Famous Symphony, HT to Challies. A video that shares “what makes Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony Number Five a musical masterpiece, and uncover[s] the story behind its inception.”

I’ve seen Victor Borge perform this before, but not with someone. It never gets old. HT to Steve Laube.

Happy Saturday!

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.