Laudable Linkage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Uses Flawed People

Recently I was praying for someone who had walked away from church and possibility Christianity. Humanly speaking, he had good reason. Christians aren’t always the best representatives of what they are supposed to believe.

A parachurch organization that reached out to teens in my public high school was an important influence in God’s drawing me to Himself. Years later, my understanding of Biblical doctrine led me to a place that I could no longer support them.

My husband and I had a discussion last week about an institution we had both been a part of. There were glaring problems in the policies as well as in the prevailing attitudes of individuals.

Yet my sense during my time there was not, “Ugh, this is such an awful place.” I was aware of some problems, and came to understand others later. Yet God used that place to ground me in my faith and draw me closer to Himself. How can that be?

How can it be that an organization or group of people can be used of God while so flawed?

As our church has studied through the first few books of the OT, we’ve seen that God’s people have never been a showcase of pristine saints. One man in another church we were in, when asked in Sunday School what he was learning from the OT narratives, said, “If God can use and have mercy on those rascals, there’s hope for me.”

Some of the Biblical people that God used in a major way failed spectacularly.

This doesn’t mean we set the bar low. Our goal is not to be like the lowest examples in the Bible of those who followed God. Our goal is to be like Christ. We’ll never reach that goal this side of heaven. But as we behold Him in His Word, we should be growing in grace more and more like Him.

And depending on Him, filled with His Spirit, we can show His grace and patience to those who fail and falter.

Yes, there are times to walk away from a particular person or church or institution that strayed far from what it should be and will not listen to counsel. But if we “cancel” everyone who doesn’t live and believe perfectly, we’ll have no one left.

When we stand before God some day, we’ll give an account of ourselves, not anyone else. Though others will have to give an account of their failures, we won’t be able to blame them for our own. God has promised His grace for every trial, His way of escape for every temptation, His strength in our weakness. If everyone we ever knew failed us, He never will. “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).

When people talk about forsaking institutional religion because it’s so flawed, I want to ask, “Have you ever read Corinthians?” Talk about a messed-up church. Yet neither God nor His apostle forsook it. They took time to correct and admonish. If the Corinthians had refused to hear and rebelled, that would have been a different story. But they took the apostle’s warnings to heart. They made some changes immediately, but I am sure their overall growth was probably a slow process.

Isn’t that the way for us as well? If we’re still growing in grace and the knowledge of the Lord, we should be farther along now than we were a few years ago. But we still mess up. We still stumble over besetting sins. On our worst days, we’re far from the shining testimony we should be.

This is not an excuse. We’re accountable when we offend someone or make them stumble. We need to walk circumspectly and confess our sins to God and those we sin against.

Yet we also don’t forsake God’s people as a whole because of their flaws. The church is Christ’s bride, our brothers and sisters in Him. We don’t excuse or ignore flaws. Sometimes confrontation is necessary. But we also look for the grace. Instead of writing someone off or retaliating when they fail, we pray for them and seek to point them in the right direction, remembering we’re part of the same family. We love and serve and encourage and forgive and forbear. Because He did that for us.

Peter denied Jesus. James and John jockeyed for position and wanted to call down fire from heaven on those who didn’t run in the same circles. They fell asleep instead of supporting Him, argued with Him, thought they knew better than Him. But Jesus kept working with them, and look at them a few years later. That transformation is what we long for and pray for, for ourselves and others. Thank God for His longsuffering and mercy and grace.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful (Colossians 3:12-15).

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:23-25).

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

Laudable Linkage

Here are some good reads found this week:

Evaluating Evangelistic Phrases. “Sadly, much of what is called evangelism today lacks gospel clarity. Repentance and faith are often missing or muddied in many of our evangelistic endeavors. Over the years, a number of popular phrases, terms, and shorthand expressions have either watered down or replaced the Biblical response to the gospel.”

What Is the Gospel? HT to the above article. “What exactly do Christians mean when they talk about the ‘gospel of Jesus Christ’?” I especially like the definition of repentance: “To repent of our sins means to turn away from our rebellion against God. Repentance doesn’t mean we’ll bring an immediate end to our sinning. It does mean, though, that we’ll never again live at peace with our sins.”

How Valuable to Me Is My Bible Today? “What would it feel like today not to own a Bible? What if I knew hardly anyone who did? What would I be willing to do to have one for myself?” Written by our beloved former pastor.

The Paradox of Parenting and How to Trust God More, HT to Challies. “From the moment our babies leave the safety and protection of the womb, we are literally and figuratively pushing them out. They can’t stay in the nest forever, and this brings us joy and sorrow. Isn’t this the paradox of parenting? The more we want to hold on to them, the more time reveals we have to keep letting them go, little by little.”

A Common Face, HT to Challies. “One of the best things my church’s women’s ministry does is to have someone share their testimony at our events. I am often stunned at what I hear from the ordinary women around me – women who quietly go about their everyday lives while harboring beautiful, compelling stories of God’s mercy. Why do we pander and scramble to hear the famous, successful and beautiful people speak, when God’s glory is just waiting to be displayed by the sisters and brothers around us?”

Sending Love, HT to Challies. “Sending Christ-like love means moving from the busy lane of one’s own life to enter the path of another, just as Jesus did when God sent Him to earth. It’s a selfless kind of love, not one from which the giver seeks to gain. And when such love is given, it brings blessed relief, casts hope over despair, and offers a glimpse of Christ.”

Church Membership–The Biblical Basis for It and Benefits of It. I enjoyed this creative look at what the church is and does and why we need to be a part of it.

A Message for Young Women. “Somewhere out there in the great, wide world, someone is praying for you. She probably doesn’t know you and you probably don’t know her. You may not meet one another for many more years. But she’s praying for you nonetheless and has been for a very long time. She is the mother of a son.”

Resources for Bible Study and Teaching. I came to this through a link from another post on the Knowable Word site.

Incredible performance. An annual meeting of high school choirs in KY led to a wonderful tradition.

I enjoy listening to parts of Stephen Davey’s sermons on the radio while my oatmeal is bubbling. I’m thankful he puts the transcripts online so I can catch the rest. He had a series of messages about David that I particularly loved. This section from last Tuesday (Feb 8) struck me:

And as we’ve already learned, being a man or woman after God’s own heart doesn’t mean you’re sinless. David was guilty of great sin against God and others.

Why could David be called a man after God’s own heart? Was it because David was perfect? No; it was because God was David’s priority.

Being a man or woman or a young person who pursues after the heart of God doesn’t have anything to do with your perfection – it has everything to do with your priority.

And that is exactly the priority that David wants to ring in Solomon’s ears for the rest of his life.

That’s what I want to ring in my children’s hearts as well. I think I put this verse somewhere in their graduation paraphernalia for each of them: “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever” (1 Chronicles 28:9).

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

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!

15 Favorite Posts from 15 Years of Blogging

I mentioned in my end-of-July post that I forgot my blogging anniversary until WordPress sent me a reminder. It’s been fifteen years!

Often in the past I’ve done something special to observe my blogiversary. Since it caught me off guard this year, I didn’t have anything prepared.

I had been pondering ways to bring some of old posts back to the forefront, since they were published before I knew some of you. Then, voila! The idea came to list fifteen of my favorite blog posts to commemorate my fifteenth year of blogging. There won’t be one from each year—that would have taken too much time to search out. But these were either fun to write or were special to me in some way.

So here we go, in no particular order:

  1. Coping when a husband is away. This is my top-viewed post of all time. I had no idea it would touch such a chord. My husband had to travel heavily for at least half, maybe as much as two-thirds of our 41-year marriage. Though I didn’t like it, I am thankful God used what He taught me to help others.

2. How Not to Become an Old Biddie. After seeing examples of different kinds of older ladies, I realized I needed to start working on what kind of older lady I want to be now. (Related: Why Older Women Don’t Serve and Ways Older Women Can Serve.)

3. With All Our Feebleness. Reflections on serving God with physical and other limitations.

4. My Ebenezers. In 1 Samuel 7:12: “Samuel took a stone . . . and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, ‘Till now the Lord has helped us.’” “Ebenezer” means “stone of help.” In this post, I listed some of my verbal “Ebenzers,” commemorations of the Lord’s special help in my life.

5. Having Devotions When You’re not Feeling Very Devoted. We’ve all been there, I’m sure. (Related: When There Is No Hunger for God’s Word.)

6. Strong Women. What feminine strength means and doesn’t mean, with literary and Biblical examples.

7. Encouragement for Mothers of Small Children in the area of trying to find quiet time with the Lord.

8. The Back Burner. The stuff on the back burner is all the more flavorful for its time sitting and simmering. So with the things in our lives we have to set on the back burner: they’ll be all the better for the wait.

9. Why Read? Why Read Fiction? Why Read Christian Fiction? Every reason I could think of for reading all of them.

10. Can Frugality Go Too Far? Even good traits can be carried too far.

11. It’s Not For Nothing. Caregiving can seem monotonous and futile when the patient sleeps most of the time, can’t speak, and isn’t interested in food, as was the case for my mother-in-law her last two years in our home. These were truths that encouraged me. (Related: Remembering the Loved One Who Has Forgotten You.)

12. Manufactured Spirituality. Routines and programs can help us spirituality, but sometimes we focus on them to the detriment of real spirituality.

13. The Quiet Person in the Small Group. How not to torture your introverts.

14 Going to a Church with Problems. They all have them, even the ones in the Bible. (Related: What You Miss When You Turn Your Back on Church.)

15. Myths and Maxims of Ministry gleaned over many years. Myth #1: “Since this is being done for the Lord, everything should go smoothly.” Nope!

These are the posts that floated to mind. If I had actually searched every year’s posts, I might have had a different list. But there’s probably a reason these are the ones that came to mind.

As you’ve noticed, I cheated stretched my numbers a bit. Sometimes I couldn’t decide between a couple of posts on a similar topic, so I included one as “related.”

I’ve noticed that I should probably go back and edit some of the older posts. One of the tendencies my first critiquer at a writer’s conference pointed out was “long, convoluted sentences” that should be broken into two sentences (or three or four). Hopefully some day I can correct those in my older posts.

Thank you so much to all of you who read and comment. Without you, this would just be an online journal. Nothing makes me day like hearing that something here has blessed and helped someone.

(I often link up with some of these bloggers)

Laudable Linkage

Here are some of the online reads that caught my eye this week:

Providential Dullness. Ever wonder why the disciples didn’t “get it” when Jesus foretold His death and resurrection? The answer may surprise you.

Help Wanted: The Vanishing Work Ethic. “When God made the first man, He placed him in the Garden of Eden and gave him a job. Adam was to dress the garden and keep it (Gen. 2:15). God designed man to have both activity and responsibility. Sometimes we imagine that Adam lived a life of leisure in Eden. But that is not the case. God’s design for man’s health and happiness involved work.”

Each Man Before the Mob. “We should be happier if a man follows a different path than we do while heeding his conscience than if he imitates us while violating it. We should affirm him in making a decision that is different from our own, as long as that decision is consistent with his conscience.”

Why Our Secular Age Needs Ecclesiastes, HT to Knowable Word. “This world is desperate for answers to life’s fundamental questions. What is life about? Why is life so unjust? Why does work have to be so toilsome? How can I be happy when the world seems pointless?”

Christians, Beware the Blame Game, HT to Challies. “By all means, call out the moral failings of Christians, congregations and denominations, left and right; but be specific, do so without slander and vitriol, and make a clear distinction between the church and the specific failings to which you allude in order to promote clear thinking. And remember—if your critique of Christians is not balanced by a Pauline emphasis on the church, the body of Christ, as the answer to the world’s problems, you ultimately offer no true Christian commentary on the contemporary scene.”

The Word that Never Fades, HT to Challies. “Though her memories collide with the present and it’s challenging for her to stay rooted in the moment, the habits of faith that she has built her life upon still seem to anchor her with recognition of the Lord’s presence. Wherever her mind may travel, He is ever with her.”

Widowhood: More Than Grief. “Despite being a large number in our population (and with the boomer generation, the number will grow), widows may be overlooked in society and are often on the periphery in groups. Our culture is a Noah’s Ark culture, where much is geared to couples, including the advantage of filing joint US tax returns.”

When I Discovered I Had Three Fathers, HT to Challies. “I am still walking through the very real effects of all of this new information. I am grappling with how to establish a relationship with the father I have found at this point of my life—or with whether I should even try. There’s no playbook for this. But through it all, I have started to see what has anchored my soul through this period of uncertainty and upset.”

Becoming a Good Mother, HT to The Story Warren. “Our choices don’t make us good. Only grace working through faith in Christ can do that.”

Laura Perry’s Story in two parts: “T” Is for Transformation and Delivered from Destruction. A young woman finds that changing her gender doesn’t solve her problems.

Jen Hatmaker quits “church” and invites you to join her, HT to Challies. “Actually, Jesus met us in our sin, adopted us into an eternal family, and started a supernatural movement that was defined by believers getting together for worship, teaching, and serving together. It’s defined by people in relationships that are centered on Christ. Church is bigger and more mature than a life of casually hanging out with your favorite people on your porch.”

And for a bit of fun, here are different kinds of beach people:

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

I’m a little behind on my blog-reading, but here’s a collection of good reads from this week. Some are just in time for Father’s Day.

My 10 Favorite Attributes of God as Father. “Regardless of our earthly-father experience, God as Father, rises above any father definitions we write into our stories. He is Abba Father.”

I Am My Father’s Son (Hope for Failing Dads on Father’s Day). “I know he is anxious about this conversation. I know he is fearful of his accountability of the past. He is well aware of his sins and his demons and his neglect of those he should have loved.”

Honoring Your Father When He’s Evil, HT to Challies. “In our family, I was taught to honor my father and mother, forgive others, and not gossip, but homes warped by abuse have their own language. ‘Forgive’ meant pretend you’re happy, even when you’re covered in bruises. ‘Honor your father’ meant obey him, even when you’re terrified he might kill you. And we were repeatedly warned not to ‘gossip,’ which meant telling anyone the truth.”

A Good Friday Ride, HT to Challies. “It occurred to me to marvel that we’d meet a Muslim man on Good Friday and have him evangelize to us rather than the other way around. And it also occurred to me to pray—even if just for an instant—for this fellow image-bearer of God who would so excitedly and passionately share his faith with us.”

The Good Commission, HT to Challies. “I would trade every kid who takes a mission trip to change the world for one who would stay home and clean his room, treat his brother like a human being and help mom around the house without being asked twice. Changing the world is easy, the latter is harder and far more Christlike.”

Fighting Atrophy, HT to Challies. “Just like our muscles atrophy and weaken through lack of use so our spiritual muscles atrophy though lack of use. The question as things reopen is will we put the work in to develop and grow those muscles that have atrophied in recent months?”

Dealing with Criticism: 7 Truths to Remember, HT to Lisa. “No one likes criticism, but it’s an inevitable and valuable part of life. Here are some truths to deal with criticism next time you’re so fortunate to receive it.”

Happy Saturday, and I hope you have a great Father’s Day tomorrow.

Laudable Linkage

Here are a number of thought-provoking reads discovered the last few weeks. Perhaps one or two will be of interest to you.

On the Longing to Be Seen, Heard, and Known, HT to The Story Warren. “Wanting to be seen, heard, and known isn’t sinful in itself (it’s part of our human nature, given to us by God), but as with everything in life, sin has tainted it in a big way.”

Disturb us, Lord. Ouch.

The Ministry of Sorrow. “By facing trials in a distinctly Christian way, by ministering to others through their sorrows, by testifying to God’s light even in the deepest darkness, each of them has provided a testimony to God’s grace that has lifted many tired hands and strengthened many weakened knees.”

Grace as Deep as the Sea. “I want to scold the dad with his back to the son, ‘You can replace the net—you can replace a thousand nets!‘ But I know, deep inside, this has nothing to do with a broken net and everything to do with a broken life, a broken dream, a broken son, and a broken heart.”

Headlines. “Do you see how your perspective or focus can change the headline? Which view will you take in your particular trial?”

How Not to Debate Ideas in the Public Square, HT to Challies. “There will always be people who disagree with each other. That’s not necessarily a problem. And there will always be people who make bad arguments. That’s inevitable. But if we are interested in debating ideas (not just destroying people) and interested in persuading (not just performing), we will try our imperfect best to speak and write in a way that aims to be clear, measured, and open to reason.”

What If I’m Not the Best at Anything? HT to Challies. I think many of us can identify with this. I love his conclusion.

A Lesson to Learn as we emerge from the restrictions of the past year. HT to Challies. “Who do you instantly dismiss as being too gung-ho or too cautious? That is the danger for us in church over the next few months. The danger is a loveless fracturing of church unity. A dismissal of one another, a failure to love and bear with one another.”

“Putdownable” Books. Though this post is a review of Dickens’ Great Expectations, I love what the author said after seeing ads for books “you won’t be able to put down”: “But I want to take a moment and consider the books that are so good we have to put them down. I don’t mean books we put down and lose interest in—no. I mean books so beautiful we must linger over them, savor them, pause from time to time to reflect on a beautiful passage or perhaps write it down somewhere. These are the books we read more and more slowly toward the end, because we do not want to finish the last page and be left outside the world of the story. We do not want these books to end.”

I just discovered from Ancient Mariners, Psalms, and Prayers this article telling about a project to have different people read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge. I’ve always thought that was one of the most dramatic poems ever. I’ve only listened to a few minutes of it, but it’s good! Here’s the first section:

The whole thing is put together here. On this list of the readers here, you can click on each name to hear that section.

Happy Saturday!

Have mercy on your pastor this Mother’s Day

When the COVID pandemic first began, I saw a lot of blog posts and articles pleading with people to be compassionate towards their pastor because he had likely never shepherded people through such an occasion before. It would take time to discern the best course of action in response to ever-changing information, and he had people on opposite sides of every fence involved.

Pastors face a similar dilemma on Mother’s Day, no matter whether this is their first pastoral Mother’s Day or their 50th. They will likely have people in all these circumstances in their congregations:

  • women who desperately want to have children, but God has not granted them yet
  • women who love their children but are tired and discouraged
  • women who are in despair over their parenting failures and need guidance
  • women who have no desire to be mothers
  • women who are single by choice or by circumstance
  • women whose children are wayward and breaking their hearts
  • women whose children have died
  • people whose mothers were not honorable
  • people who are estranged from their mothers
  • people whose mothers have died
  • people who don’t even know they need a Savior

Anna Jarvis probably had no idea she was creating such a minefield when she sought a simple way to honor her mother.

I’ve seen posts on Facebook already indicating that Mother’s Day shouldn’t be observed in church because it’s not a national holiday. Prophets and preachers in the Bible spoke about current events, and honoring parents is a biblical teaching. So it’s not wrong to observe the day. But whether that observation should be just a passing acknowledgment, or the whole service should be built around it, is up to each pastor’s leading of his particular congregation.

Whether pastors let the holiday go by unobserved and carry on with whatever book or series they are preaching through, or they choose to honor mothers in some way, someone is going to be offended.

Can I urge us as Christian women to be mature in response to whatever path the pastor chooses to take? To remember that love “does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful” (1 Corinthians 13:5). To understand that there are different needs among the congregation? No one sermon will meet them all except as it points us back to the only Savior who can help and heal and provide grace.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable” (II Timothy 3:16-17). Whatever God lays on the pastor’s heart to preach this Sunday, if it is based on the Word of God, it will be profitable for us.

Let’s pray for our pastors to preach the message God wants him to preach that day. Let’s pray for grace for our particular triggers, seek to get from the message what God has for us, and seek to encourage others rather than focusing on self.

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