Laudable Linkage

Here’s the latest thought-provoking reads seen around the Web lately.

The Bible Is Not an Instruction Manual, HT to Challies. “’Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.’ Ever heard the Bible explained that way? It’s a handy mnemonic device that certainly has some truth to it. But does it get at the heart of what the Bible really is? The way so many of us treat the Scriptures—as God’s ‘how to’ book—doesn’t seem quite right when we carefully look at what its own pages say. And I fear that the way we use the Bible in this way actually accomplishes the opposite of what we intended.”

Shepherds, Please Think “Protect Well.” Please Stop Saying “Suffer Well.” HT to Challies. “STOP IT! STOP SAYING, ‘SUFFER WELL! When we say, ‘Suffer well,’ to an abuse victim, they hear, ‘It’s your fault. If you would only handle this better, then God would stop your suffering.’ When we say, ‘Suffer well,’ to a domestic violence victim, they hear, ‘Your protection is secondary. Your safety is secondary. Protecting the image of the church is primary. Suffer well so that our congregation is not shamed.’”

The Ukulele and the Cross, HT to Challies. “Theologians have wrestled with the various angles that describe what Jesus did for us on the cross. Some will even argue that there is only one way to describe and define what Jesus did for us on the cross. Rather than pick sides on the theological playground, I want to propose a harmony of notes that are played at the cross of Christ.”

Should Pro-Lifers Embrace Embryo Adoption, HT to Challies. John Piper offers some considerations on a thorny issue with many difficult angles.

Confessions of a Past Culture Warrior. “It’s one thing to advocate for and defend our principles in the common square; it’s another thing entirely to enjoy the fight. And too many of us love the battle. We delight in the pillaging and destruction of our ideological enemies. We love the war because of the rush of righteousness that accompanies it.”

Instagram Brings Back the Chronological Feed with Favorites and Following, HT to Lisa. I want all my feeds to just show me what’s recent from people I follow rather than having my feed stuffed with what they think I’ll like.

This was cute—a new baby seems unimpressed with his family, or maybe the world in general.

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

Happy Saturday! Here are some good reads I have discovered online recently.

Don’t Waste Your Experience, HT to Story Warren. “In the forums of The Habit Membership, Carey Christian recently posted an essay she had written about her experience as a survivor of the Columbine High School shooting . . . She survived by hiding with classmates in a locked and darkened office for three hours. (You can read the whole essay here.) The heart of the essay, however, is not those three hours of immediate peril, but the fifteen years after.” “It takes time to know what things mean. Writing and reflecting greatly improves your chances of learning what there is to learn from your life.”

Bible Reading Blues? Study Your Stop. “One of the most important questions a Bible reader can ask is what made her stop and walk away midway through. Think back to the last time you abandoned your Bible reading plan—it may have been as recently as this morning. Find your Bible and open to the page where you stopped reading; let’s figure out what went wrong.”

Should Parents Talk to Their Kids About Scary World Events? HT to Story Warren. “Since this digital age has made it virtually impossible to shield our children from disturbing news, parents have no choice but to address the issues head-on. With God’s help, we can provide balance and truth that will empower kids to walk in freedom from fear. Here are some tips to use when talking to children about scary world events.”

The Indispensable, Enduring, and Intervening Work of the Spirit, also from the Story Warren. “Much like the disciples, our heartaches can readily consume our perspective, hijack our story, and overshadow the truth of who God is. When we’re in the midst of hard circumstances, relinquishing our expectations of how things ought be feels frightening and vulnerable. We choose instead, to numb pain, worry obsessively our way through uncertainty, and manipulate people and our environment for a desired outcome. However, what if our insistence on control and holding tightly to our misplaced securities—such as health, finances, work, successes, giftedness, and relationships—hinder us from hearing Jesus? And what if we miss his tender care and reassuring comfort for us?”

Back to the Hospital: A Story of God’s Faithfulness, HT to Challies. A wonderful story of a young woman finding a way to minister as a patient in a mental health hospital.

How Heroes of the Bible Build Faith and Courage in Your Son. “A right understanding of biblical heroes provides a model for many desirable traits that we long for and pray for in our sons. But the Bible is a book about God, not a self-help manual. Scripture provides the faithful reader with a blueprint not just for good behavior, but for godliness.”

Are You Principled or Just a Contentious Jerk? HT to Challies. “The apostle Paul says ‘an overseer must be . . . not quarrelsome’ (1 Tim. 3:2–3). Yet in my experience, quarrelsome people often hide behind the excuse, ‘I’m just principled’ or ‘I’m standing up for the truth when no one else will.’”

When He Loves Someone Else. I don’t know if I have ever seen this topic addressed, but this is a good treatment of it. I don’t remember this incident from Corrie ten Boom’s life—it’s been way too long since I’ve read The Hiding Place.

Busyness . . . God’s Way. “In our hustle culture, the term ‘busy’ often gets a bad rap (and understandably so – sometimes we just flat out are too busy with misplaced priorities!). But just because we aren’t called to hustle and strive and be workaholics doesn’t mean it’s automatically wrong to ‘be busy’. It all comes down to what we are busy doing.”

Finally, this is a cute little film:

Laudable Linkage

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Welcome to my almost weekly list of good reads found around the Web.

This Dying Young Woman Has a Message for Us, HT to Challies. “Brooklyn may face dark moments, but they are never so dark that the light of Christ does not breakthrough. Along with telling her story, she wants to speak directly to us, and even when she wants to tell us hard truths, her sense of humor steps in to help us swallow the medicine. ‘I’m sick. Soon to die. But so are you. I’m just doing it faster.'” Brooklyn did pass away March 1.

Truth in Small Bites Is Truth Nonetheless. “When life takes a turn, most of us tend to push Bible reading aside until our circumstances return to normal. If you’re not able to sit down at your kitchen table for a quiet hour of in-depth study, you don’t even crack open God’s Word. Somewhere along the way, you’ve told yourself that if you’re not able to feast, you shouldn’t eat at all, not realizing that a handful of almonds in the middle of the night is far better than allowing your soul to starve.

Sexual Sin Is Not Inevitable, HT to Challies. “God never commands us to do anything without providing the resources to obey by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Death, Miracles, and Tears from a missionary in Cameroon, HT to Challies. “About three years ago I took a girl in our village named Mami to get an ultrasound. At the clinic I met her boyfriend named Koo who was visibly concerned about her pregnancy. So much so that he made a deal with God: if his baby survived, he would dedicate his life to the Lord.”

The Friend Who Sharpens Me, HT to Challies. “While it’s great to have friends we agree with theologically and mentors who can teach us more about the historical faith we hold to, I’m learning that it’s important to make friends with those I disagree with. It’s important to learn from those with a different viewpoint than me.”

Tell Me a Story? “There are many nights when both Dan and I draw a complete blank. Four sets of eyes stare at us longingly as we frantically rake our minds for something to say, only to come up as empty as one of Pooh’s honey jars. Over the years we have developed a strategy for handling situations like this. It’s easy to implement, and it has never failed.”

This is a good reason to get those dust bunnies when they’re small and few. 🙂

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

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Here are a few posts that especially caught my eye this week. Maybe some with catch yours, too.

What to Do When Your Resolutions Start Dissolving. “We’re officially two weeks into 2022. And two weeks also happens to be the average life span of a new year’s resolution. So, even if you’re finding your big plans for “new year, new me” are already floundering, I’d like to offer you a few notes of encouragement.”

Spiritual Covid and Losing Your Taste for God, HT to Challies. “Through the pain of suffering or the false promises of sin, we can come down with a case of Spiritual COVID. We’re fatigued and grumpy, and even worse, we can’t taste anything anymore. We eat to survive, not because the food has any taste. We become sluggish in our service, bored with the Bible, less committed to the church.”

Everywhere Spoken Against, HT to Challies. “There may be a time to leave the local congregation but never a time to leave the church. I’ve compared her to an ugly bride, stumbling down the aisle toward glorification. That’s me, and that’s you.”

Our Escape Room, HT to Challies. “Finding out that you’re not the cream rising to the top is only traumatic if you thought you should be. And who are you to think you should be? A friend once told me, ‘Your problem is not that you think you’re not as good as other people; your problem is you want to be better than other people.’ Ouch.”

3 Simple Ways to Flatten Your Neighbor, HT to Challies. “Unfortunately, many in our society seem to be reverting to fourth-grade categorizations for just about everyone, and often doing so with the zeal of a crusader for a righteous cause.”

When Aslan Wept, HT to Challies. “While it is within God’s power to remove our suffering and make us feel better again, sometimes He does not. We can only trust that He’s grieving alongside us while working things out behind the scenes for our good and His glory.”

Whose Purpose Will Prevail in Your Suffering? HT to Challies. “Satan intends your suffering for evil; God intends it for good. Whose purpose in your suffering will prevail? Whose purpose are you furthering? Satan attempts to destroy your faith, while God invites you to draw near to Him and draw upon His sovereign grace to sustain you.”

Discipline: What If Scripture Isn’t Politically Correct? “Scripture has always been countercultural and while the world remains in its sinful state it always will be. This also means that faithfulness to the Biblical text will lead to cultural conflict. If some texts are ‘troubling to modern readers,’ we shouldn’t be surprised.” Beyond the subject of discipline, this article shows the problem with wrongly interpenetrating Scripture.

End of Year 2021 Book Lists. If you like adding to your ever-growing TBR list, Sherry looked through a lot of end-of-year book lists to get some great ideas.

Temperance and Play: The Weird and Wonderful Word of Wordle, HT to The Story Warren. If you’ve seen those tri-colored grids of cubes on social media and wondered what they were all about, this article explains.

And to end with a smile:

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

Blog reading was hit-or-miss over the holidays while family was here. I’ve been catching up this week and almost have my Feedly account worked down. But this week’s list of noteworthy links might be a little longer than usual. Perhaps you’ll find an item of two of interest to you.

A Real Christmas, HT to Challies. I don’t think we’re too far from Christmas to contemplate this. “We gloss over the harsh, cruel parts of the story because they don’t fit the narrative we want. But aren’t those parts the point of it all? Jesus came because we needed him – need him still, as evil rages around the globe and even in our own backyards.”

End of the Year Journaling Prompts. There are some for the new year as well. Some would work as blog post ideas.

You Don’t Have to Read the Whole Bible This Year. “Reading the Bible is a glorious privilege; it is entirely worthwhile; it is revealing and convicting and strengthening and encouraging in ways we can barely imagine beforehand. But in the Bible itself we do not find any prescription for the amount we must read each day or year.”

We Should Trust God—But for What? HT to Challies. “I cannot trust God to answer every prayer exactly how I want them answered. I cannot trust him to orchestrate my life so there is no suffering, toil, or disappointment. I cannot trust him to give me everything I want. I cannot trust him to stick to the timeline I had planned for my life.”

How Are We to Live in What Feels Like Unprecedented Times? “Yet all these likely end-of-the-world scenarios have come and gone. G. K. Chesterton wrote, ‘With every step of our lives we enter into the middle of some story which we are certain to misunderstand.’ Our perspective is limited. We’re not God, we don’t hold the universe in the palm of our hands, and we just don’t know what lies ahead of us.”

Did the Pandemic Wreck the Church? Good news here.

Father In Every Way but One, HT to Challies. Beautiful writing here.

Let Us Rediscover the Power of Forgiveness, HT to Challies. “Is this Jesus so dangerous that a young woman finds in Him the power to want good for her father’s killer? Even that she might one day be able to tell him about Jesus?”

In the Darkest Night: Draw Near, Hold Fast, Consider Others, HT to Challies. “In the darkest season of my life, I was lifted decisively out of the pit by a passage in the book of Hebrews. The three simple commands embedded in it made all the difference.”

A Tale of Two Dogs, HT to Challies. This illustrates an excellent point.

Old Spiritual Journals—Keep or Destroy? HT to Linda. This article also shares another side of the issue: Why I Burned 90 Journals . . . And Still Journal Daily. The short answer: it partly depends on why you’re writing in the first place.

This is courtesy of Denny Burk’s Top Ten You Tube video list for 2021, HT to Challies. What a testimony—to play that song in the aftermath of such a storm.

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

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Here are some noteworthy reads found this week.

From Meat to Meta: Facebook’s Disincarnate Dreamworld, HT to Challies. “For those who labour under the Enlightenment (and latterly Zuckerbergian) prejudice that ideal reality is immaterial and universal, the notion that God could have a body is quite a scandal. But it is deeply, deeply good news that the Word ‘became’ flesh.”

Life Beyond the Spiritual Shallows. “There is a depth to God’s character that cannot be assessed with quick glances and fleeting thoughts. We will never become the kind of women who face the lion’s den without a deep understanding of God’s character. We will never know that depth if we cannot find ways to circumnavigate our brain’s wiring and study God’s Word for longer than eight second bursts.”

Should We Pursue Self-Love? HT to Challies. “God acknowledges the reality of self-love, but He certainly does not teach it as a Christian virtue to be cultivated. Rather, it is an existing reality, necessary for our survival, in some respects healthy, but in other ways very much tainted by our sin. Our instinct to take care of ourselves is something we are to extend to others, that we might lovingly take care of them.”

When You Are Wrongly Accused: 5 Things to Do. “What can we do when we are wrongly accused? Either directly or indirectly? When someone we know is telling us we are a bad person, exhibiting bad behavior that we are not responsible for, have ruined something way beyond our control, or have a pattern of wrong deeds and we feel it simply is not true. Before you start responding to their accusations, you want to ask yourself a few questions.”

Two Important Principles for Trusting God: Commas and Periods. “Clearly, punctuation matters when giving instructions. It’s even more important when it comes to trusting God. Understanding and embracing the principles of God’s punctuation can give us peace—and even joy—in the waiting.”

Night Watch, HT to Challies. “Night watch. Our God neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121). And sometimes He wakes us in the night. To watch and pray. I remember when the two emails arrived. One after the other. To our inbox in Karachi. Same time. Same message. Traveling across the world. From opposite sides of the United States.”

Dividing Lines: Beware of “Us vs. Them.” “The Bible separates people into just two categories as well: those who are in Christ and those who aren’t. But this important distinction does not give us permission to attack people who don’t agree with us. In fact, Jesus told a parable about a religious person who did just that.”

This moving video, shared by Lisa, is titled Before You Call the Cops. This man had an experience when, just seeing him, a woman reacted in fear. He encourages us to get to know each other and not fit everyone into stereotypes.

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

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

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!

Hungry for God, Starving for Time

Lori Hatcher has to have one of the best titles ever in her book Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time.

Most of us can identify with what Lori says in her introduction: we don’t always have an hour to spend in the Bible, but “even when we can’t sit down to a five-course feast, even a quick nibble from God’s Word can nourish and sustain us” (p.16).

The devotions in this book each begin with a question to ask God, results of Lori’s own search for answers in the Bible since her early life as a Christian. The responses are designed to take about five minutes to read. They include experiences from Lori’s life and applicable insights from God’s Word.

Some entries are heavier: “The Day the Car Caught Fire” and “When This Sad, Sick World gets You Down.” Some are whimsical: “Bad Hair Days and the Kingdom of God,” “Sometimes I Wake Up Grumpy,” and “Caesar, the 115-Pound Lap Dog.”

One of my favorite chapters was “Distressed or Damaged?” Lori and her daughter were furniture shopping when Lori was amazed at the asking price for a chest of drawers with “dinks, scuffs, and chipped paint.” Her daughter explained that “distressed” furniture was considered highly valuable. Another piece, though, was actually damaged rather than distressed. Lori talks about how we can be distressed–shiny finish worn off, chipped surfaces as a result of encountering life. After discussing a few verses about God’s healing and help, Lori concludes: “God’s care reminds us that distressed and damaged is not discarded and defeated. Perhaps the designers have it right—distressed can be beautiful.” (p. 48).

If you’re eating on the run, it’s important to eat something substantial and healthy. Lori’s devotions are like a spiritual protein bar.

Lori’s not advocating that we never spend more than five minutes a day in the Bible. But on those days when we hardly have time to sit down, we can still have meaningful time in God’s Word.

In my case, our church is reading through Numbers. The book of Numbers has some dramatic moments, but it also has some dryer portions. Most of its chapters are fairly short as well. I enjoyed finishing my devotional time with a section from Lori’s book.

I had heard Lori speak at two of the writer’s conferences I attended, so I was sure I would enjoy her book. You can find her also at her blog, also named Hungry for God, Starving for Time, and her Facebook group by the same name.

(I often link up with some of these bloggers)