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.

(I often link up with some of these bloggers)

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

I found some good reads this week. Maybe a few will be of interest to you.

God Can Redeem Your Worst Year Ever. “If you’re a believer and 2020 was your worst year ever, not one minute of it was wasted.”

Why Crucifixion? HT to Challies. If you’ve ever wondered why Jesus died this specific way, this article gives some good answers.

Rehearse Book, HT to Kim. “When a problem comes, rehearse God’s Word, not the problem.

Please Stay, HT to Challies. “Stay in your Bible preaching church with imperfect people, imperfect pastors and imperfect teachers. Stay and commit to hiding God’s word in your heart, reading and meditating every single day. Stay and humbly repent of your own sins. Stay and pray for others. Stay and serve. Stay and speak a kind word. Stay and confront a grievous sin. Stay and be confronted. Stay and forgive. Stay and encourage your pastor, who is often left alone to carry the weight of his calling and the weight of his flock.”

Four Defining Moments for Young Marriages, HT to Challies. “Decisions regarding marriage and within marriage can become defining moments for marriage. God sprinkles the newlywed years with these moments — experiences, events, or decisions that determine (and sometimes alter) a young couple’s direction.”

Help! I Don’t Know How to Answer My Kid’s Tough Questions. All parents deal with this, but the rapid changes in our society are likely to bring about even more hard-to-answer questions.

Ignore the Noise and Shepherd the Flock Among You, HT to Challies. “I don’t need to get involved with every issue out there. I need to care for the people entrusted to me.” This is geared to pastors, but I think it has applications to everyone.

When Martyn Lloyd-Jones Confronted a Pastor Who Loved Controversy and Denunciation, HT to Challies. A great example of kindly confronting a contentious Christian.

Gospel Tracts Don’t Work: Agree or Disagree? They can. The author shares points that can make them less effective.

Do You Think You Will Marry Again? A widow’s perspective. We really need to stop making single people feel incomplete without a spouse.

A Formal Farewell to Prince Philip, HT to Laura. I had not watched his funeral, so I appreciated this detailed account of it as well as A Royal Funeral with a Message for Everyone, HT to Challies. “Behind the awe inspiring grandeur of this yet simple royal funeral, probably overlooked by many and yet very present, a word of hope was offered.”

Heartwarming: an older couple reunited after four months apart:

Hope you have a good Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

IMG_0195

I’m way behind on blog reading, but here are some good ones I’ve come across the last couple of weeks:

So You Want to Be Relevant? “What does the Bible say about itself that will convince the reluctant and indifferent reader to dig in and spend time in the Word, to begin seeing biblical fidelity as the key to remaining relevant in every phase of life?”

Finding Repeated Words and Phrases in Bible reading. “Authors didn’t have bold and italics back then, so a common way to emphasize a point was to repeat it multiple times. It’s like saying, ‘Hey, don’t miss this!’”

Where’s the Lie, HT to Knowable Word. “Con artists don’t look shady. If a lie were obviously false, it wouldn’t be dangerous. Christians know that ‘the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick’ (Jeremiah 17:9), and yet we regularly overestimate our ability to spot error. We need a consistent standard by which to compare every suggestion we hear. Because of God’s gracious provision, we have such a standard. The words God has already spoken are completely and always reliable.”

When It’s Time to Leave a Church, HT to Challies.

Bucking the Trans Trend, HT to Challies. I’ve been astounded at how far this trend has gotten with so little known about the effects. Thankfully, at least in England, it’s being questioned.

How Forgiveness Displays the Gospel to Our Kids, HT to The Story Warren. “And then it hit me. Only minutes before, I’d shown such little grace to my own daughter, but here I was showing mercy to myself for the very same mistake.”

Finally, I came across this quote this morning. Many of us don’t like change, and not all change is good. But much is necessary.

Have a great weekend!

Laudable Linkage

IMG_0195

Here are a few good reads from this week:

To Those Who Are Frustrated With the Church, HT to Challies. “It’s easy for a critic and the cynic to come into the local church and say, ‘Look at all this that is not yet done. Look at all this that is not yet complete. How can Jesus Christ be present in this?’ Jesus Christ is present in His church as the builder. The evidence of Christ’s presence is not that everything is complete, but that everything is in process. The fact that the church often feels more like a building site than a showroom is evidence of the presence of the builder.”

Help! I Want to Read the Bible, But I Find It Boring. “If we’re honest, I think we’ve all been there. It took years before I learned to enjoy and love the word—and that was after I became a Christian. Here are a few things I learned as a young person struggling to find a love for the Scripture.”

How My Mind Changed about End-of-Life Care, HT to Challies. My mother-in-law’s decline was a revelation in many ways. At one time I would have said that food and water should be given until the last moment. I didn’t realize that part of the body’s final shutting down means losing the ability to process food. Trying to get food into a person in that condition can cause problems. I don’t agree with withholding food and water just because someone is terminal. But there does come a time when treatment causes more harm than good.

Do You Have Enough Faith to Be Kind? HT to Challies. “If we are hesitant to be kind to one another in moments like this, it may be that we have more faith in brute force than the strength of our argument. Worse, it may be that we believe the power of public shame is greater than the power of the Holy Spirit. Our instinctive response answers an important question: Do we have enough faith to believe that ‘a soft answer turns away wrath’ (Prov. 15:1)?”

Help! My Kids Don’t Like to Read. Obstacles and tips.

As I read Shelly Hamilton’s update on her husband, Ron, his song “I’m Going Home” came to mind. At my first recall, I connected it with getting ready for heaven. But as I listened to it again, I remembered it’s a beautiful prodigal son song. I thought I’d share it with you:

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

Here I share the first set of recommended reading for the new year!

2020–What a Beautiful Time to Be Alive. “Don’t let bad thinking take this year from you. Don’t grit your teeth and just try to get through. Life is too precious for that and entirely too short. Live this year as you ought to live every other.”

The Longest Night. Long periods of waiting are not unusual for the children of God. “Years of waiting were not caused by a delay, but were part of God’s design. . .We can also trust He has a purpose in the waiting. Sometimes, while we are concerned with our circumstances, God is more interested in growing our character and our dependence on Him.”

Reading the Bible Requires Rules We Already Know, HT to Challies. “It’s easy to misinterpret the Bible when you don’t follow basic rules of interpretation. Therefore, I’ve offered the approach of asking three questions when reading any passage.”

The Bible Reading Plan I Recommend for 2021. You can find all kinds of Bible reading plans this time of year. Bible Gateway has several. Our church uses a five-year plan, though it’s laid out a little differently from this one. I’ve found that I like having a five-day-a-week plan. That gives time to catch up if you miss a day, plus time to consult other sources (commentary or Bible reading notes), plus a day or two to do other reading if you’re doing a Bible study or project.

Proactive and Reactive Bible Intake, HT to Challies. I had not heard the term “reactive” Bible reading, although I have done it. “In many ways, proactive Bible intake prepares us to know where to open the Scriptures when we need reactive Bible intake.” Both are needed.

Expecting Less From the Church, HT to Challies. I would not have thought of advising lower expectations from church, but I see the wisdom from this article. Sometimes our expectations are so high that we set ourselves up for disappointment because no church can meet them. “We have expectations of course—baptism, the Lord’s Supper, theological orthodoxy, preaching Christ crucified, prayer—but these do not include at least one new insight per sermon and arena-quality worship. These do not include my passive presence that waits for an experience like I had watching a recent movie.”

A Parable from the Dead, HT to Challies. I’ve been troubled by the news of Ravi Zacharias. This draws out some truths from the situation

Marriage: The Beginning of a Revolution, HT to Challies. What a sweet story, and an illustration of what a testimony a godly wedding and marriage can be. “The road to this joyous occasion was paved with tears, persecutions, and pain. In the Lord’s wisdom, it was this very pain that grew the character of the bride and groom and helped them to understand the value of a husband and the value of a wife.”

Someone Will Catechize Your Kids. Don’t Outsource It. HT to The Story Warren. Some might be turned off by the thought of catechism as rote or ritualistic teaching. But the basic idea in the article is just teaching truth. Kids will be exposed to all kinds of values: we need to be sure to teach them God’s truth o a level they can understand.

And finally, I don’t think we’re so far from Christmas that we can’t enjoy this sweet story (if you see this via email, you might have to click through to see the video):

Happy first Saturday of 2021!