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!

Is Love More Important than Doctrine??

Some would say so. The reasoning goes that the Bible says God is Love. It doesn’t say God is doctrine. Therefore, love trumps doctrine.

Part of the confusion or disagreement comes from what is meant by doctrine. I’m using the word here as the truth God declares about Himself and His requirements for us.

And the Bible also says God is truth.

Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

The Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13).

Some translations of Deuteronomy 32:4 say God is “a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”

Not only is God truth, but His Word is characterized as truth.

The psalmist declared, “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever” (Psalm 119:160).

Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

God wants us to respond to Him in truth.

Jesus said, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).

“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Psalm 145:18).

Most of the books of the Bible warn against false doctrine, false prophets, and false teachers in the strongest terms. It’s not loving to cut corners on truth for the sake of not sounding adamant. It’s not loving to God or to others to teach something untrue about Him or about how He wants us to live.

But it’s also not loving to bludgeon people with truth like a club.

And it’s wrong to elevate every little disagreement to the same level as doctrine. There are areas where we can’t give any ground: the deity and humanity of Christ, our need for salvation, Christ’s death on the cross for our sins, salvation by grace through faith, the resurrection, the Bible as God’s Word, and so on. But there are areas in Scripture where good people can disagree and should give each other grace. Too many Christians spend way too much time and effort on these issues than on declaring unequivocal truth and loving each other and the lost.

We don’t need to put love and doctrine in competition with each other. We need them both. Both are aspects of God, and both should permeate our lives.

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

Laudable Linkage

IMG_0195

I don’t want to “laud” my own link, but I wanted to share once again a post from a few years ago about grieving over Christmas. My mother, father, and grandmother (as well as a family friend and our only family pet) all died in December, though in different years. The first few years after my mom passed away were the hardest, especially with how much she loved the season. It seems like every year, someone I know is facing their first Christmas without a certain loved one. So I hope these thoughts will be helpful: Christmas Grief, Christmas Hope, Christmas Joy.

Now, on to some good online reading and listening found recently:

Losses of a Prayerless Christian, HT to Challies. “Though God is sovereign over all things, He ordains the means of prayer. There are some things He will not do unless we pray, though He always does all He purposes (Psalm 135:6). The mystery does not change this truth: You do not have because you do not ask (James 4:2).”

Gentleness Is a Christian Virtue, HT to Challies. ‘Christians should be the absolute opposite of mean and angry. Jesus’s people are to be kind, gentle, joyful, patient, peaceful, good, and self-controlled. None of these character traits define American culture today, but they must define Christ’s church.”

Must You Remain Silent on Abortion Unless You Adopt a Baby? HT to Challies. Perhaps you’ve heard the argument that unless a pro-life person is willing to adopt babies (supposedly babies that would be saved from abortion), then that person has no voice in the abortion debate. This article explains what’s wrong with that reasoning.

Gospel Parenting During the Little Years with Melissa Kruger and Jen Wilkin (one of my favorite authors). This is an almost 50-minute video, but well worth a listen. I wish I had had this when mine were little, though I think I came to many of the same conclusions over time.

Jen Wilkin on Women in the Church with the Gift of Leadership. Jen speaks from a complementarian background, but encourages that there is a place for women to exercise their gifts. Different ones of us will fall on different places in the spectrum of this discussion, but the issues are worth contemplating.

People’s Choice; Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021, HT to Laura. These are always so fascinating.

If you need a good laugh this morning, try this “12 Days of Christmas” skit, HT to The Story Warren.

This is as good a time as any for my occasional reminder that linking doesn’t always indicate 100% endorsement with everything and everyone linked to. But the links contain food for thought.

Happy Saturday!

Is This the Right Way?

“I hope you know where we’re going.”

My mother-in-law would say this whenever I drove her anywhere.

Ten years before my mother-in-law passed away, we moved her from her long-time home in Idaho to be near us, then in SC and later in TN.

For the first five years, she was in an assisted-living facility. She was still mobile (with a walker) and verbal then.

When she first came, we had to gently insist that she needed new hearing aids. We could yell right next to her, and she’d encourage us to “just speak up.” When we finally got the new aids, she could hear much better and didn’t fuss about them any longer.

The new hearing aids required that we visit the audiologist’s office every few months for a tune-up and tube replacement. It was my responsibility to chauffeur Mom to these appointments.

Mom had never driven. She had several physical issues as a result of being born two months premature in the days before the streamlined NICUs we have today. She was used to her husband driving her wherever she needed to go. And she was used to the familiar roads in her small town in Idaho.

She did not have Alzheimer’s, but she had a degree of dementia that flared up most often when she was nervous or agitated.

So on our drives, in a place and vehicle and with a driver she wasn’t used to, she would frequently express her hope that I knew the way.

I would reassure her again and again. Once I teased, “No, I thought I’d just get in the car and drive around until we found it.” But her uncertain look told me that teasing probably wasn’t wise.

Later I would learn that when we’d get in these repetitive conversational loops, logic didn’t work. It was best to respond factually and then divert her attention. Trying to keep up a conversation kept her mind from reverting back to wondering where she was going . . . most of the time.

Her repeated question often reminded me of a poem I saw in one of Rosalind Goforth’s books. She and her husband were ministering in China when “foreign devils,” as they were called, were not welcome. They were staying in a “barn-like room” with paper windows full of holes. She couldn’t get warm. She got sick. She cried out, “O Lord, have you no pity? Oh, help me! Why should I suffer so?”

Just then someone brought in two baskets with a letter from two missionaries who had stayed with them the day before. The missionaries saw the Goforths’ meager accommodations and must have sensed that they had used most of their supplies to serve them. So the caring guest missionaries sent an assortment of food. Rosalind rejoiced at the kind provision. “But the most timely and precious evidence of God’s love and care came, when tearing paper off a bottle of grape juice,” she noticed this poem:

Is this the right road home, O Lord?
The clouds are dark and still,
The stony path is hard to tread,
Each step brings some fresh ill.
I thought the way would brighter grow,
And that the sun with warmth would glow,
And joyous songs from free hearts flow.
Is this the right road home?

Yes, child, this very path I trod,
The clouds were dark for Me,
The stony path was sharp and hard.
Not sight but faith, could see
That at the end the sun shines bright,
Forever where there is no night,
And glad hearts rest from earth’s fierce fight,
It IS the right road Home!

The poem was from an English paper printed in 1914, four years earlier, with no author listed. Who knows how it “happened” to find its way to Rosalind right when she needed it. She read the words over and over and finally prayed, “O Lord, if this is the right road home, then I will not murmur!”

Two days later, Rosalind returned to their home in Changte while others went on with the tour. Noting that she looked like a ghost of herself, friends cared for her until she recovered (Climbing, pages 118-120).

Even those of us who know the “prosperity gospel” is false sometimes fall into the trap of thinking the Christian life is akin to the “American dream.” When troubles come, we’re dismayed, because this isn’t what we thought the Christian life would be like. Did we take a wrong turn? Did God really mean for this to happen?

But He told us, “In the world you will have tribulation.” Yet He sandwiches that truth between two promises:

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

Several people in the Bible must have wondered if they, too, were on the right road:

Abraham and Sarah waiting long years for the son God promised.

The children of Israel wandering for forty years in the desert.

David, though anointed as the next king, hiding out in a cave from Saul.

John the Baptist in prison.

Peter when he heard Jesus speak of suffering and dying.

We’ve had friends who also must have wondered at times why life looked so different than they thought it would: a couple on deputation for the mission field when their son was diagnosed with leukemia; a young man in seminary who was in a car accident which left him paralyzed; a woman who is still alone though she thought she would have a husband and children; another woman who had to leave her beloved mission field due to her husband’s sin.

The Bible tells us often that trouble is part of life here. But the Bible also assures us time and again that God will be with us and help in trouble. God tells us not to lean on our own understanding, but to trust God (Proverbs 3:5).

He promises that when—not if—we pass through deep waters or fire, He will be with us:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you (Isaiah 43:2).

What’s the best way to stay on the right path? “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:6). If we’re seeking Him day by day, step by step, we can be assured we’re on the right path even if the circumstances are confusing.

What if we do stray from the path of God’s will? Sometimes trials are God’s chastening or His attempt to get our attention. Jonah went the opposite direction God told him and ended up inside a big fish. The prodigal son deliberately walked away from his father and ended up in a pigsty. Most of us don’t have one dramatic turn, but we gradually drift. We miss a few times with the Lord until we get out of the habit. We make excuses for a sin instead of killing it. Then we find ourselves either lukewarm and apathetic like the Laodicean church, or in a tangled mess. God issues many invitations in the Bible to repent and turn back to Him. One is Isaiah 55:7:

Let the wicked forsake his way
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
And let him return to the Lord,
And He will have compassion on him,
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.

A beautiful song based on this passage:

And I love this new version of the old hymn, “Coming Home”:

We can trust that God knows the way home and is with us every step.

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

Laudable Linkage

IMG_0195

Here are some noteworthy reads found this week.

The Weight and Wound of the Word, HT to Challies. “Some—perhaps much—of the Bible was given not for our comfort but for our discomfort. The Scriptures are profitable for reproof and correction, after all; they provoke, unsettle, and rebuke us. Far from harsh, this is a sign of God’s love. It is damaging for our souls—indeed, for our humanity—to turn against God in rebellion. The fact that he steers us away from sin and back to himself is evidence of his care.”

Three Unthievable Treasures. “Almost anything we treasure—from people to possessions to abilities—can vanish in an instant. However, Scripture teaches us about a few precious treasures that no thief, con man, devil, or despot can ever take away.”

If Just One Person Returned. “Instead of having us base our confidence on the word of friends or family members, he has us base our confidence on his infallible words. And why would we believe the word of a man if we will not believe the word of God himself? Why would we long to base our confidence on a created being if we will not believe the one who created us?”

The Best Choice: Bringing Christ into Our Decision Making, HT to the Story Warren. “I don’t remember much about registering for baby gear, but I remember crying. What was intended to be an exciting afternoon with my husband turned into a near panic attack. As if carrying a child with an eternal soul in my womb was not weighty enough, I was assaulted with hundreds of secondary and tertiary questions. Disposable or cloth diapers? If disposable, which brand? Pacifier or no pacifier? If yes, which brand? Three hours later, we walked out of a giant superstore far less confident and far more overwhelmed as soon-to-be parents.”

Why I Quit Praying for God to “Use Me,” HT to Challies. “Deep down, for the majority of my Christian life, I have lived, prayed, and ‘served’ because I related to God as my employer, not my ‘Abba Father’ (Gal. 4.6; Rom. 8.15). With God as my divine employer, I could count and quantify my work for him and be the judge of whether I was ‘useful’ or not. Having God as my employer, love, intimacy, acceptance, and belonging were not the name of the game. No. Productivity and getting things done are what was important. Meditation, confession, and repentance were replaced with planning and strategizing.”

A Key Sign You Are Maturing as a Preacher, HT to Challies. I’m not a preacher, but I see a parallel with writing. I used to think I couldn’t write on a given concept in Scripture without studying all the verses about it, and then I felt I had to include all the verses. But people don’t usually read lists of verses. And the more verses or points that are included, the harder it is to process. One’s head starts swimming instead of focusing or discerning a main point. So, substituting writing for preaching, this is a good reminder for me : “God calls us to preach the word, to be sure. But he calls us to preach to people. Real, living people. People with a distinctive set of issues, needs, and problems.”

7 Traits of False Teachers, HT to Challies. “In the same way Peter says, ‘There will be false teachers among you.’ Notice the words “among you.’ Peter is writing to the church and says, ‘There will be false prophets among you.‘ So he is not talking about New Age people on television. He is talking about people in the local church, members of a local congregation.”

These kinds of videos always get me a little misty. A baby gts glasses and sees his mom clearly for the first time. Love how he’s looking all over, taking things in, then he sees her eyes.

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

IMG_0195

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!

Don’t Forget the Hope

The church we attended when my sons were teens wanted to emphasize the need for modesty among the young women. Speakers shared that women displaying too much flesh or too-tight clothes could cause men to lust. Men are aroused visually, we were told, and therefore women and girls should take care how they present themselves visually.

I didn’t realize until years later that this information created a problem for one of my sons. If he was aroused visually, how was he supposed to respond when immodesty came into view through no fault of his own? It’s not that he had an extraordinary problem with lust, but he felt bombarded by what he saw constantly on billboards, in stores and public venues, and yes, even at church. He felt like he was at the mercy of temptation in a world that didn’t value modesty. The battle seemed impossible to win.

He spent his college summers volunteering at a Christian camp. One year the camp had a new director who had previously been an evangelist. At one meeting with the counselors and staff, the director happened to share about a time when his plane landed in a tropical country. Women surrounded the disembarking passengers and placed leis around their necks. To this man’s astonishment, the women were topless.

One of his listeners asked, “What did you do?”

The evangelist replied, “I looked in their eyes.”

That one statement was a watershed moment for my son. When faced with temptation, there was a way out—just as the Bible said. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Evidently previous youth leaders and pastors were so intensely concerned about modesty that they forgot to present the other side of the issue: that God can give men victory even when women are immodest.

It’s true that women should be modest. The Bible tells us so. The problem comes in defining exactly what that looks like. But women shouldn’t have the attitude, “I should be able to wear whatever I want, and men shouldn’t look.” If we had a friend we knew was trying to lose weight, we wouldn’t serve her doughnuts, would we? Or if a friend had credit card debt and spent money too easily, we probably shouldn’t invite them to a mall shopping spree. Yes, people are responsible for their own sin, but we don’t have to make it harder for them.

And there is a higher principle for women’s dress than not tempting others. We are daughters of the king. We should honor Him in how we dress. I’ve often thought that if our young people were encouraged more in their inner walk with the Lord, getting to know Him better in His Word, the outer standards would take care of themselves.

But this post isn’t primarily about modesty. It’s about remembering to share hope with our children, students, readers, those whom we’re discipling. Sometimes we’re so passionate about whatever we’re warning against that we forget to offer the hope that God extends to His people.

I attended church only sporadically until I was about sixteen. Then God led me to a Christian school and a good church where we were encouraged to read through the whole Bible.

I was not taught a works-based salvation or a performance-based Christian life or the eradication of our sin nature. But somehow I didn’t understand sanctification, though I’d heard the term. I was grieved to the core when I sinned. I knew I could confess my sin to God (1 John 1:9) and be forgiven. But then I’d sin again, either the same way or in a different way. I despaired of ever living a Christian life without “messing up.” I was almost afraid to step out and serve in some ways, because I knew I’d fail.

Maybe it just took a while before everything I was learning about the Christian life coalesced. But one year in college, a guest speaker preached a sermon on grace. Of course, I knew about grace: we were saved by grace and lived by grace. I don’t remember the details of the message, but I remember being so relieved. God knew I would “mess up.” He expected growth, but He knew I would continue to fall short until I reached heaven. “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13-14).

Sometimes the very weight of God’s requirements is what drives us to His grace. We realize we can never live the Christian life on our own, and we need His help. Some years later, I was praying for forgiveness for something, and told the Lord I didn’t deserve His forgiveness and was asking for His grace. Then the light dawned—my Christian life was dependent on His grace all along.

Another pastor taught the truth that we’ll always have a sin nature because what the Bible calls the flesh or the “old man” is still with us and will be until we get to heaven. I remember feeling deflated. You mean I am going to have to battle this all my life? This was a godly, balanced preacher, so I am sure he went on to share how to have victory. But I think I missed it because I was stuck on this point.

Then some time later, I came across 2 Peter 1:3-4:

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

All things that pertain to life and godliness. All things! It was then that I realized I could truly live for the Lord. Not a sinless life. But a victorious one.

I wish I had taught these things more to my children. I was still learning them myself. The big emphasis in Christian parenting books when I was a young mom was on teaching obedience. And that’s good and necessary. If children don’t learn obedience to their parents, they’ll never learn to obey God and other authorities. If they never learn to rein themselves in, they’ll be a slave to their own desires and will. But I wish I had talked more about God’s grace not only for forgiveness, but enabling. I know we taught them to ask God for forgiveness. I’m pretty sure we encouraged them to ask Jesus to help them. But I wish I had shared grace more.

Elisabeth Elliot wrote, “Choices will continually be necessary and — let us not forget — possible. Obedience to God is always possible. It is a deadly error to fall into the notion that when feelings are extremely strong we can do nothing but act on them” (from The Glad Surrender). Obedience is not always easy. But it’s possible, through His power and grace, by way of His Word and His Spirit.

The Bible is permeated with hope. Some of the sternest warnings of the OT prophets were accompanied by some of the tenderest expressions of God’s love and longsuffering and readiness to forgive. The New Testament is filled with encouragement to look to and depend on God’s promises to equip and supply us with everything we need to live for Him.

One of my college professors was known for encouraging a “positive faith attitude.” Not just a baseless positive thinking or a Pollyanna-ish optimism, but a positive trust in God’s presence, Word, grace, strength, and provision.

There’s every indication that life might get harder for Christians. The world is ebbing ever further away from a Judaeo-Christian ethic. Our flesh isn’t getting any weaker, and the enemy of our souls is ever persistent. But God is greater than them all.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8).

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

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

IMG_0195

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.