Laudable Linkage

Some of you have told me that you really enjoy the links I share on Saturdays. I share more through the week on my Twitter account as I come across them. That’s about the only thing I use Twitter for, as well as sharing my own posts (and my Wordle scores. 🙂 ). Then I share here the ones that particularly resonated with me or that I think readers would like. The lists here and there don’t match exactly, but they overlap a great deal.

Immovable Hope in the Wake of Hurricane Ian, HT to Challies. “Psalm 46 describes an earth-shattering ocean storm. These verses will never again be an abstraction for those of us from Sanibel. Yet we must not forget how the psalm begins. God is our refuge.”

Be Angry and Do Not Sin, HT to Challies. “The problem is that we are happy to exploit what seems to be a legal loophole. Anger, in its very nature, is self-justifying. My anger is righteous; your anger is not. So if we are to find some righteous wiggle room here, we must proceed very carefully.”

A three-part series on uprooting bitterness: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Three Battles to Fight for Personal Bible Study. “What if your life schedule has ticked up a notch and your desire for the Word has cooled and you’re rusty on your Bible study methods? If we hope to protect our daily time with God, we must keep up the fight on all three fronts. We must get ‘triple protection’ for our time with God if we hope the habit will last.”

Prioritizing Evangelism, HT to Challies. “But knowing the gospel and loving the lost isn’t enough. Just loving the lost is like crying at the bedside of a dying patient with the cure in our hands. We must administer it. What good is the medicine? What good are our tears? So speak forth the very Word of God. It’s the only medicine that can save the sin-sick souls from eternal physical damnation.”

When You Can’t Meet Every Need, HT to Challies. “I want to meet their needs and it brings me great joy to meet their needs. But I cannot meet every need for every person in the ways they want or even in the ways I would like to. It’s impossible. And so, as I was explaining this conundrum to my husband, I told him how I’ve reconciled the tension in my heart.”

You Can’t Do Everything and Not Everything Is for Everyone, HT to Challies. This is a similar idea to the article above except that one is about individuals and this one is about the church, but could also be applied to groups and organizations. “All these are valid questions to ask and think through. The problem is not in their being asked, nor in their being thought through, but in the stymying effect whatabouttery can have on actually doing anything at all.”

Mom, Jesus Is Praying for You, HT to Challies. “‘You’ve got this’ is a popular encouragement for moms. But what’s behind it? If it’s the belief that I naturally have what it takes to keep my children alive, help them flourish, and even see them come to Christ without completely losing my mind in the process—then I definitely don’t ‘have this.’ Not on my own.”

People Pleasing Is a Shapeshifter, HT to Challies. “Lo and behold, my consuming worries had very little to do with the other person at all. The anxiety was actually about me – my desire to be liked, respected, admired…and my craving to please people. Well, what do you know? I’m still a People Pleaser, after all. Apparently, People Pleasing is a shapeshifter, disappearing in one form and reappearing as something else.”

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

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 some of the latest good reads I’ve come across. This also might be a good time to remind that linking doesn’t imply 100% agreement. In some cases, I have never before read the writer, but I followed a link someone else provided. In some cases, I might agree with the majority of the article, but the small thing I have a difference with isn’t worth mentioning.

Counseling Children Who Have Professed Faith in Christ. “Like many children who’ve grown up in a Christian home, Clara professed faith in Christ at an early age. But, like so many other young people who professed faith early, she struggles with doubts.”

No One Shared the Gospel with Me, HT to Challies. “Rather than hate that lost person because he or she is doing what any biblically informed Christian should expect a totally depraved sinner to do, namely sin, we should pray for them. Show them the compassion and love of Christ. Tell them that life is not meaningless. Tell them that with Christ, there is light at the end of the tunnel, eternal light. We cannot simply assume that a lost person is a lost cause.”

Love is Inconvenient, HT to Challies. “Love is inconvenient. It actually has the audacity to ask us to drop what we’re doing in order to attend to the needs of another.”

How to Respond to Social Media Enemies.

The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. “Shrier writes as one who is sympathetic to people who have diagnosable gender dysphoria and for such people she affirms their decision to transition. But she is dismayed that ideologues have made transgenderism a valid and desirable option to those who are not truly diagnosable. She laments the way it has spread among young women as a kind of social contagion. She fears that many of them will go on to have regrets but be left with permanently damaged bodies.”

Not White Fragility—Mutual Responsibility, HT to Challies. This makes better sense to me than anything else I’ve read on race relations. “The concept of white fragility is an academic way to tell white people to be quiet and listen. Bottling up the expressions of white people, though, is not the path to addressing our society’s racial alienation. Indeed, it’s a path that will continue to frustrate attempts at correcting racism’s genuine effects.”

It’s Alright To Just Be Pals, HT to Challies. “They wanted to formalise something that, as far as I was concerned, didn’t need formalising. They wanted to stick a label on something . . . that we were essentially already doing as mates.” Yes! I agree that we don’t have to formalize and label relationships in order for them to be beneficial.

Maher panel blasts ‘cancel culture’: It’s a form of ‘social murder.’ HT to my husband. I don’t follow Fox News (or CNN) and would rarely agree with Maher, but I agree with these concerns. ” If conversation with people that we disagree with becomes impossible, what is the way that we solve conflict?”

Delight in Loveliness for the Glory of God. Productivity is important, but it’s not everything.

And to end with a smile:

Happy Saturday

Laudable Linkage

This is my first chance in a couple of weeks to share noteworthy reads discovered around the web in that time. Enjoy!

A Case For Christian Magnanimity.

The Hero of the Story Is Always God.

Why Doesn’t Our Faith Move Mountains?

The Providence of God in History.

5 Christian Cliches That Need to Die.

When Does Old Age Arrive? I’m facing a milestone birthday next year, and I found this very encouraging.

Mothers in the Church.

Learning to Let Go. “Even though a parent’s spiritual influence is so important, I was never meant to fill the place that only God can in my daughter’s life. He is a better teacher, protector, and guide than I can ever be.”

Which Expired Foods Are Okay to Eat.

And a few concerning the holiday season:

Evangelism, the Holidays, and My Atheist Grandpa.

5 Ways to Make the Holidays More Peaceful.

Navigating Family Tensions at the Holidays.

The Problem With Our Holly Jolly Christmas Songs.

No wonder our pets get confused sometimes. 🙂


And finally, this brought a smile that I am sure my fellow Southerners will understand:


Happy Saturday!


Laudable Linkage

Here are a few noteworthy reads from the last week or two:

20 Tips for Personal devotions in the Digital Age, HT to Challies. I don’t agree entirely with #5 about not sharing what you’ve read on social media. Sometimes that’s a blessing to read, but I agree you shouldn’t have devotions with that in mind.

Do Not Depart has a series this month on Nameless Women in the Gospels. I especially enjoyed this one from Lisa: Gifts from a personal God.

Evangelism in the Workplace, especially as the culture becomes more hostile to Christianity, HT to Challies. A quote from it I especially liked: “While the Lord used Hunter to pursue me, I never felt like a project, just a friend.”

Jim Elliot’s Brother Bert: The Hero You Don’t Know, HT to Ann. Neat comparison of his being an everyday faithful star as opposed to Jim’s being a meteor. Neither is better or worse and God has places and purposes for both, and we can learn from and be inspired by both, but probably most Christians are more like Bert than Jim.

Flawed Heroes and Virtuous Villains. Even the best of men have flaws.

How the Christian Orphan Care Movement May Be Enabling Child Abandonment and alleviate both have some good thoughts about orphan care that may be more harmful than helpful.

National No Bra Day and Breast Cancer Awareness Month — OR — Please Put That Pink Can of Soup Down & Put Your Bra Back On. How breast cancer survivors really feel about some of the silly breast cancer “awareness” campaigns. (Warning: a little more explicit than what I usually post, but she makes excellent points.)

Julia is offering readers a cute free Thanksgiving Subway Art Printable.

And, though the government shutdown really is not funny – I know people personally who have been laid off or furloughed until the government gets its act together – I have to admit this did make me smile:


Hopefully something will work soon!

Happy Saturday!

Thoughts on Coffee Shop Conversations: Making the Most of Spiritual Small Talk

The first few years after I was saved as a teen-ager, whenever I heard anyone teach or preach about witnessing to others, we were instructed to somehow get to the point of asking, “If you were to die tonight, do you know that you’d go to heaven?” Then, if the person would allow us, we were to share with them the Roman’s Road. I think the Roman’s Road is a good tool, but I don’t think you necessarily have to use it exactly as is to witness to someone. It’s good to be familiar with several Scriptures so the Holy Spirit can bring them to mind as needed.

But in recent years I have struggled with that question, “If you were to die tonight, do you know that you’d go to heaven?” For one thing, it puts the emphasis on what happens after death, as if eternal life started then and not at salvation. Preachers lament over people having a “fire escape” mentality to salvation, as if the only important thing about it is escaping hell, and I can’t help but think that’s because that’s the way Christians have presented it over the years. In addition, I can’t recall any witnessing exchange in Scripture ever using a variation of that question. My next time through the New Testament, I want to especially note how Jesus and the apostles dealt with people.

In more recent years I’ve heard the question, “When you stand before God some day, if He should ask you, ‘Why should I let you into My heaven,’ what would you say?” I like that a little better because the answer instantly reveals what a person is trusting in, but it still focuses on life after death, and though that is vitally important, it’s not the totality of salvation. The forgiveness of sins, overcoming sin, becoming a child of God, knowing God, having a Friend and Comforter in this life, all those seem to be glossed over on the way to dealing with he emphasis of life after death.

Besides wrestling with these issues, I struggle with figuring out how to even get to the gospel in everyday conversations with people about the weather, the produce, etc., all the while a part of me is scared to death and looking for excuses not to get to the gospel.

So against this background of conflicting thoughts, Lisa’s review of Coffee Shop Conversations: Making the Most of Spiritual Small Talk by Dale and Jonalyn Fincher piqued my interest.

I just finished the book last week, and I agree with Lisa, there is much that is helpful in it: when we talk about the Lord, we need to be respectful rather than belligerent or bombastic, remembering that  “the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17). We need to get out of our Christianese to think about how a lost person is perceiving and understanding what we’re saying. In conversations with lost people, we need to avoid getting derailed by issues that even Christians disagree about. We need to be careful about our own attitudes even when we think non-Christian people aren’t around, joking about certain types of sin and sinners (“Mocking others, even behind their backs, destroys our capacity to respect them when we speak face to face” [p. 36]). We need to “allow others to remain unconvinced” rather than badgering them into making a “decision” now. (I can testify to having a couple of family members who were supposedly saved when the person talking with them backed them into a corner and wouldn’t let them go without their responding to the gospel, but those kinds of decisions are not usually genuine decisions if the person is just trying to get the Christian out of their face while being too shy or polite to put it into those words.) I agree we need to relate to people as people and not “projects.” The chapters on “One True Religion?” and “Talking About the Resurrection” were particularly helpful to me.

But I have to confess there were a few things I either didn’t agree with or was wary of in the book. And in discussing a few of these, I am not trying to be nitpicky or critical: I am trying to exercise discernment and understanding. If some of these things come across to me this way, I am sure they do to others as well.

For instance, on page 14 the authors write:

While we believe Jesus distinguishes himself as the Savior and King of us all, while we obey his teachings because we believe they give us the best road map for life, we also believe the biblical idea that all humans — be they Christians, Buddhists, Mormons, atheists — are made in God’s image. All humans reflect God in varying degrees of clarity. Therefore we approach every conversation as fellow learners rather than posturing as experts. We can gather data and truth even from those who do not follow Jesus, growing in wisdom and love, and giving others dignity by assuming they are doing the same. If we want our conversations to always be full of grace, then humility, not deft arguments or clever words, must become our first concern.

I agree with the last sentence, and I agree that when talking with someone with a different belief system, we don’t need to “blast” them for what they believe or come across as “superior.” And I do believe that God created man in His image, and that we still reflect something of His image even though that reflection has been marred by the entrance of sin into the world, yet I don’t believe  false religions reflect Him (and the authors don’t either, but that sentence just could be misconstrued). I agree that while talking with someone from a different belief system, we will probably exchange our differing beliefs, and that gives me a window into how he is thinking and an opportunity to share what I believe the Bible says (kindly). And that’s only polite — I can’t expect him to listen to what I say unless I listen to what he says. So I think ultimately we’re on the same page in this, but the sentence that everyone in every religion reflects God’s image could come across as saying that every religion contains truth, which is not what the authors believe. On page 25 the authors mention various outcasts of society (adulterers, demon-possessed, tax collectors, etc.) who followed Jesus, saying, “He loved them beyond their labels, seeing them as people, bearing the image of God.” Again, I agree with the first part of this sentence, but He loved them despite the fact that God’s image in them was marred because of sin, not because there was something of God’s image still left in them.

On page 25 the authors write, “Jesus didn’t act like many many evangelicals. When Jesus met people, he dignified their search for the good life, giving them parables to mull over and offering winsome, playful banter when they could handle his verbal sparring.” The footnote to this sentence references Matthew 13 and Mark 7:24-30. I’m sorry, but I don’t see anything playful in those passages.

On page 68 the writers say, “By coming to earth in the flesh, Jesus put his stamp of approval on what humans are.” My first response to that was, “Huh?” The next sentence says, “Jesus’ life proves God still finds humans worth redeeming.” Yes, I agree with that, but the first sentence threw me a little bit, because my response was, “He came to redeem us from what we are — sinners — not approve us.” In context I could see what they meant, but many places like this gave me pause at first.

From page 151:

Jesus taught that we live with evil and self-centeredness in our hearts. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” [Matthew 15:19]. According to Jesus the human problem that lives inside us is beyond our powers to fix. Our humanity could only be restored when an uncorrupted, fully human person comes as an example and sacrifice, not only to break the evil within but to empower humans to become fully human in relationship with God and others. Jesus empowers us to do what many religions only tell us to do: grow in love, discipline, and truth. In Christianity, as in all religions, good works are important, but these good works don’t earn the love of God, they evidence the love of God working in us. And unique from all Eastern religions, the end of humanity is not escape from the earth but a remaking of it.

There’s a lot of great stuff in that paragraph that I fully agree with, but that one sentence in the middle about being fully human jars me a bit. Jesus was and is, of course, much more than fully human, He is the Son of God, and when we’re saved we don’t become just fully human, we become children of God, though not in the same sense as Jesus’ Deity (we don’t become gods, as the Mormons believe, and the authors aren’t trying to convey that). I know the authors believe in Jesus’ Deity and in what happens to us to us at salvation, but I think the phrasing of that one sentence can be misconstrued and misunderstood. The authors bring up the idea of Jesus making us “appropriately human” again on p. 213, and that seems to be the focus of their web site .

In the chapter “The Hope For Human Healing,” Jonalyn mentions a moment of lust, and “Instead of berating myself for for being flirtatious or lustful, I simply prayed, ‘Jesus, I invite you into my lust'” (p. 154). I wrote in the margin, “Where is the Scriptural basis for this?” It sounds like inviting Jesus to join in one’s sin, though of course that is not what she means. Earlier in the chapter they mention Brother Lawrence learning to “invite Jesus into every moment, from washing dishes to saying prayers’ (p. 153). I wrote in the margin there, “Is He not already there? There’s a difference between invitation and acknowledgment.” Jesus is everywhere: I just need to remember that and acknowledge His presence, and in a lustful moment my response would have been, “I’m sorry — please help me with this.” It may just be a matter of semantics, we may mean basically the same thing by our different ways of phrasing it.

When people ask the authors whether they follow one religion or denomination, they say, “We follow Jesus. We think he was on to something” (p. 158). I agree that denominational labels don’t save and may sidetrack people, and I agree that we need to keep pointing people to Jesus rather than our “system,” but I think “he was on to something” is very, very weak.

Just to mention a few other problems: The Finchers are more liberal than I am in many of their views about mountains and molehills in the two chapters talking about those. Dale mentions coming from a very strict religious background, and sometimes people who do that go maybe a little too far the other way, in my opinion. And I saw more emphasis on philosophy than depending on the Spirit and Word of God. We do need to think about what we’re saying, how we’re coming across, how the other person might be processing what we’re saying, rather than just lapsing into a witnessing spiel. But as we seek the Lord in knowing how to speak of Him to others, we can trust Him to bring the thoughts and Scriptures to mind that are needed for the moment. God’s Word is what opens people’s eyes, convicts them, draws them to Himself, brings them life (John 6:63) and faith (Romans 10:17).

I was almost feeling like the authors thought every person needed to study philosophy and other religions before talking to people about the Lord, until I came to this paragraph:

Our hope is that you will find many friends to learn from as you talk about Jesus. We want this book to serve not merely as a collection of apologetic tools, but as a road map guiding you toward freedom to be yourself as you talk about Jesus. We hope you will customize your conversations to the unique gifts God has forged in your soul. May you develop your own questions and ideas to introduce others to the God of Israel. May you continue to be taught and humbled by the humans God places in your life (p. 218).

I can say Amen to that.

I think it is wise to try to discuss the gospel as inoffensively as possible (II Cor. 6:3: “Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed). But we have to remember that the gospel in itself will bring offense sometimes. Paul speaks of the offense of the cross. Look at the reaction Christ Himself as well as the apostles received when they shared the gospel. People don’t like hearing that their way of thinking and doing is wrong, no matter how kindly we try to put it. True, too many people have caused offense by their personalities and prided themselves that they were suffering persecution for the gospel’s sake when it was their own fault. But we can’t go too far the other way (which is something I struggle with), trying so hard not to offend the person that we hold back or tone down the truth.

I apologize that this hasn’t been a book review so much as a hammering out of my own thoughts in regard to witnessing in general and the book in particular. I encourage you to see Lisa’s review — she did a much better job. 🙂 For my part, though I found much that was helpful and much that I agreed with, there were enough parts that I either disagreed with or that raised questions for me that I couldn’t endorse it completely. But I think much good could be gleaned from it by a thoughtful and discerning reader.

(This review will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)