Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

Here are the latest thought-provoking reads I’ve seen:

Would It Be Okay for Me to Be Angry With God? “And who am I to be angry at what God has done? Who am I to disapprove of what he has permitted? Who am I to conclude God has done something he should not have, or to even suggest the notion?”

Start Here: How to Begin Reading the Bible this Year. “If you’ve been feeling like reading Scripture will be too hard for you, as though there’s no way you’ll be able to do it on your own—stop now and thank God. Knowing that we need Jesus is a gift. We can’t do this without Him, and He’s ready and able to help.

The Prayer Group, HT to Joanne. “These women have prayed so hard their knees have gone bad. They’ve prayed for rowdy husbands who are bad to drink. For children who are ill. For couples who fall upon the rocks. They have even prayed Carol through her cancer. Twice.”

Ministry With, Not Merely To those with developmental disabilities, HT to Challies. “My friend and mentor, Rich, heads up the Friendship Bible Study, and he constantly reminds us that we will minister with and not merely to those who come. It’s my observation that such a mentality fuels ministry that has the capacity to endure. Consequently, this demographic that is among the most unreached in these United States is a demographic which has most reached the congregation I serve.”

The Wide Gate, HT to Challies. “Since Time magazine announced God was dead in 1966, people have done their best to manage without Him, notably in relationships. God’s narrow way of one man and one woman monogamously raising offspring has been paved over with multilane beltways, bypasses, and loops that must look sort of messy from angel altitude.”

Visiting the Sick, HT to Challies. “The topic . . . comes at a tragically unique time in history: when visiting the sick and our ability to go to hospital to care for the infirmed, weak, or dying is greatly diminished. And yet, care for those in the church who are ill or afflicted among us, is some of the most foundational stuff of our true religion.”

No Strings Attached, HT to Challies. “There is simple kindness, among few, in the art of gift giving. An offering presented with joy and weightlessness; a smile of anticipation in the knowing of the goodness to be shared.”

A friend with a young baby posted this on FaceBook. A young mom wants to know how to keep strangers from touching and kissing her baby in public. The answer is hilarious.

When Not To Be Minimalist

When not to be minimalistI enjoyed reading Joni Eareckson Tada’s Spectacle of Glory devotional book a couple of years ago. One quote from the book that came back to me many times after reading it was from the August 9 entry, which commented on Ephesians 3:8 about “the unsearchable riches of Christ”:

We can study all we want, but Jesus will always be a greater Savior than what we think He is. He is more ready to forgive than you can imagine asking Him. He is more willing to supply your wants and needs than you are to declare them. He is so much more ready to give than you are to receive. Don’t ever tolerate low thoughts of a barely adequate, minimalist Savior who might “keep you going” but not much more. Jesus has riches to bestow on you right now. He will not only give you heaven above, but heaven-hearted joy in serving Him here on earth.

Lord, my thoughts about You are too small, too lean, too sparse, too thin, too colorless. Paul writes about your unsearchable riches, but on some days, I barely even approach the treasuries. My mind is filled with too many smaller things. I’m in the trees and can’t see the mountains. Lift my gaze to your greatness and majesty today (p. 242, emphasis mine).

The phrase “minimalist Savior” especially jumped out at me, since minimalism is such a byword these days. I don’t want to comment on the current notions of minimalist lifestyles or practices, but I began to think of other ways we should not be minimalists.

In thoughts of our Savior

Joni wasn’t saying Jesus lived extravagantly while on earth. He was born into a poor earthly family. He didn’t own a home as an adult. One former pastor used to say that Jesus was “born from a borrowed womb and buried in a borrowed tomb.”

But, contrary to the “prosperity gospel,” all blessings are not material. God promises to supply our needs, but He doesn’t promise physical riches to His followers. Rather, “according to the riches of his glory” (Ephesians 3:16), He “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20. The KJV says “exceedingly abundantly.”)

In prayer

Couched between Ephesians 3:16 and 18, based on those riches of Christ, this is what Paul prays for:

According to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Sometimes when I find myself suggesting to God ways that He might answer, I remind myself of this: He can do far more than I can ask or even think, according to Ephesians 3:20.

In worship

In Mark 14, a woman came into the house where Jesus was a dinner guest. John 12:1-8 identifies her as Mary of Bethany, whose brother, Lazarus, Jesus had raised from the dead (Matthew 26:6-13 also records this incident). She “came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.

That might seem weird to us in our time. I went on a bit of a rabbit trail trying to discover what anointing meant and why it was done in that day. The best explanation I found so far is here. Anointing was a mark of respect and also a way of setting apart a prophet, priest, or king. Christ is referred to an anointed in other passages. Perhaps Mary was showing her gratefulness for Jesus having raised her brother. Perhaps she had some of these other aspects in view. But Jesus took her actions as anointing his “body beforehand for burial.” Whether Mary did this unwittingly or whether she caught what so many of the other disciples missed when Jesus foretold His death, I don’t know. Others criticized her actions, pointing out that this expensive ointment could have been sold and given to the poor. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me” (verse 6). And He promised that “wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her” (verse 9).

A similar incident occurs in Luke 7. We know this is a different situation because the event, timing, host, woman, actions, critics, criticisms, purpose, and response from Jesus are all different. The woman in this case is known as sinful. She wet Jesus’ feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, and anointed them with the expensive ointment. The host, a Pharisee, criticized Jesus in his heart, saying, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” Jesus then told of two debtors. One owed a large amount and one owed a small amount. Both debts were forgiven. Jesus asked which of the debtors would love the lender more. The Pharisee answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt,” (verse 43). Jesus said of the woman, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little” (verse 47). Her actions were extravagant both because of the cost of the ointment, but also because she loved so much that she risked ridicule and shame from others to show her great love to Him.

Have we thought recently about the greatness of our sins and how much it cost Jesus to forgive them? Have we meditated on His goodness and greatness enough to be overawed?

In giving

We’ve already seen from these two women that their love and worship led to costly actions. Does that mean we need to get some expensive perfume to bring to church or pour out when we read our Bibles? No. But generosity should be part of our character. King David once said, “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24).

When Paul sought financial help for needy saints, he told the Corinthians:

Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

He wasn’t speaking just to the rich Corinthians. He referred earlier to the Macedonians, who first gave themselves to the Lord and then to the apostles, and who begged for the opportunity to give out of their extreme poverty (2 Corinthians 8:2-5).

I’ve seen a lot of criticism of the rich online recently, and a lot of judgment about what they do with their wealth. But we’re not accountable for them. We’re accountable for ourselves. The Macedonians were in extreme poverty yet begged to be allowed to give to help others.Jesus commended a poor widow who only offered two small coins because that was her all (Luke 21:1-4).

Giving abundantly doesn’t necessarily mean we need to sell everything we have and give it to the poor. Jesus only told one man to do that, because he knew that man’s wealth was a problem for him. 1 Corinthians 16:2 tells us to give as God has prospered us.

Sometimes we save to be able to give. Another former pastor once advised his people to have a “benevolence” section in their budget, to put aside a little bit of money every paycheck so that when they become aware of a need, they would have some on hand to give.

We should give wisely, of course. There is a type of giving that enables people to continue on in their sin. Sometimes we have to say no. Sometimes God says no, because what we’re asking isn’t good for us or isn’t the right time.

And we don’t just give money. Our time, schedules, attention, homes, all belong to God, to be used as He directs.

We don’t give for show, as Ananias and Sapphira and the Pharisees did. But we give as God directs out of a grateful heart for what He has given us.

And we can’t outgive God. Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).

In love

1 Peter 1:22 tells us to “love one another with a pure heart fervently.” Other translations say “deeply” or “earnestly.” Biblical love could take another whole post (or several) to expound upon, but it’s aptly summed up in 1 Corinthians 13. Verses 4-8a say:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends . . .

My heart is full, thinking of God’s great generosity to me, inspired to be generous towards others, overflowing into even more ways to be generous rather than minimalist: thankfulness, praise, patience, and more.

How about you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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Laudable Linkage


Here’s my recent roundup of recommended reading for your reviewing relish. 🙂

Yes, You Can Trust the Four Gospels. Even When They Conflict. Argument against a new theory that posits the gospel writers wrote in a literary way, changing and even making up details to support their theme. This author did a lot of research and contends that, no, they reported facts..

When Valentine’s Day Hurts.

Crumbling Into Compassion, HT to The Story Warren. Beautiful story of redemption and reconciliation.

Are You Too Sensitive? Sensitivity has its good and bad points.

People Are Hard to Hate Up Close. “Attributing these characteristics to those on the left or the right may give us the momentary thrill of self-righteous indignation, but it deepens the divide, fuels our anger, and keeps meaningful conversations from occurring.”

Are You Seeking Counsel or Gossiping? I’ve often wondered what exactly makes up gossip. It’s not just sharing when someone else did something wrong–the epistles do that. I’ve often wondered if it primarily has to do with intent. This post has some good guidelines.

The Advance of the New Legalism, HT to Challies. I have seen wisps of this: “We are prone to seeing our way of doing things as a good way (which it might well be). But what we consider a good way soon becomes the best way (which, still, it could be). Only, the best way quickly gets called the right way which, soon enough, becomes the only way that, in turn, becomes synonymous with a biblical mandate (at least, in our minds).”

Leave “Always” and “Never” Out of Your Marriage. I came across that advice early on, and it probably saved us trouble.

What Do Hit Men and Porn Watchers Have in Common? “So what about those people who watched the video? If they watched a person being raped for their entertainment, surely they are complicit in that rape, aren’t they?”

The Way to Good Judgment. Is it only through experience, and bad experience at that? Nope.

The Best Way to Give Generously, HT to Lisa. “I don’t know about you, but I have to admit that the gifts I give of myself are frequently stingy and laced with traces of criticism, if not outright begrudging. Here’s where we have the chance to offer ourselves grace, though, recognizing that when God highlights one of His attributes for us like this, He’s giving us an opportunity to do things differently.”

Finally, a thought for carrying Valentine’s Day love into everyday life:

Louisa May Alcott quote about loving handsHappy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage


It’s been a little longer than usual since I’ve had the opportunity to share some noteworthy reads discovered online the last few weeks, so here goes:

What Does It Mean to Abide in Christ?

3 Tests God Ordains for His Children, HT to Challies.

Self-examination Speaks a Thousand Lies. “God calls us to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5; Lamentations 3:40), but healthy self-examination is a difficult and dangerous duty….when that introspection makes us self-absorbed instead of Christ-absorbed, we undermine our faith.” “God knows the worst about you and loves you still.”

Don’t Speak Up: On the Spiritual Discipline of Silence, HT to Challies. “As evangelicals, we often feel guilty for not evangelizing more, or not speaking a word of correction to a friend in sin. And sometimes that sense of guilt is correct! But here, Jesus identifies another way we can err: speaking up wrongly, at the wrong times, and to the wrong person.”

Remembering My Friend, Nabeel Qureshi, HT to Challies. I was heartbroken to hear of Nabeel’s passing, though happy that he is no longer in pain and with the Lord. I loved his book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus and respected his integrity and determination to go where the truth led him, no matter the cost. I have to admit I wondered why God would take someone so young who was doing so much to bring people to Himself. But after a while I thought the better way of thinking would be that we all have a given number of days, not guaranteed to be 80+: are we making the most of them like he did?

Embodying Masculinity in a World That Rejects It. “If I thoroughly study the ‘man’ passages and never work through the ‘all believers’ passages (the rest of the NT), I will completely fail in both.”

Have We Christians Made Marriage Too Complicated? HT to Challies.

God Didn’t Write a Book. “It took the printing press to make the Bible a book, but it didn’t take the printing press to make the Bible the Bible…the Bible is not essentially a book. It is essentially God’s recorded words to humanity, and those words transcend any single medium.”

Modern Media Is a DoS Attack on Your Free Will, HT to Challies. Lots to ponder in this one, but one statement stood out to me: “Democracy assumes a set of capacities: the capacity for deliberation, understanding different ideas, reasoned discourse. This grounds government authority, the will of the people.” And these are largely absent from most social media exchanges.

The Wrong Donations: Some Tough Words on Disaster Relief.

Ten Unfair Expectations of Pastor’s Wives, HT to Challies.

Why I signed the Nashville Statement, HT to Challies. Particularly poignant since Rosaria was once a lesbian feminist.

A Real Life Fall Home Tour. I loved this! Laura Ingalls Gunn (yes, related to that Laura Ingalls!) writes about home decor and posts Pinterest-worthy photos, but this time she showed “real life” scenarios – shoes and “stuff” out, etc. I am tempted to do a similar post, even though I don’t usually write about home decor. I think as homemakers we often strive for that balance between wanting things to look aesthetically pleasing and yet wanting the people who live there to feel comfortable and at home.

Happy Saturday!


Laudable Linkage


It’s time for another Roundup of Recommended Reading Researched from Remarkable Writers around cyberspace. 🙂

11 Questions to Ask of a Bible Passage, HT to Challies.

How to Be an Encouraging Friend in Times of Pain.

The Worst Consequence of Skipping Church.

Sister, You Can Do Hard Things.

Satan Wields Ignorance of the Word as a Weapon. “Most Christians I talk to have never read the entirety of the Bible. They may read it frequently but only parts of it. But daily reading parts of the Bible doesn’t mean you know it any more than daily reading the first chapter of Moby Dick makes you an expert on the famous novel. Ignorance of the whole of God’s Word makes us easy targets in the war Satan has waged against God. Lies can slip through undetected like poison gas because we’re just not that familiar with the truth.”

A Hill to Die On, HT to Challies. “When you’re fighting a war, there’s very rarely a compelling reason to die for the next yard of soil – but that’s how wars are won, and that is how the line is held – yard by yard.”

Beware of Broken Wolves, HT to Challies. “These are the false teachers who use their own authenticity, pain, and brokenness to attract believers who are also suffering and broken—and then using their “brokenness” to lead the sheep to turn away from God’s Word and embrace sin.”

Don’t Skim the “Minor” Bible Stories.

What We Gained When We Lost Our Hymnals. This was a follow-up to What We Lost When We Lost Our Hymnals. I have read online a lot of complaining about using screens vs. hymnals, but I like the advantages he brings out about using screens. There are pluses and minuses to each. Our church uses both. If a song is not in the hymnal, it is projected on the wall. If it is in the hymnal, the words are also projected but our songleader tells where it is in the hymnbook for those who prefer to use it.

Living Faithfully Instead of Fancifully in an HGTV World. HT to True Woman. “To revel in the beauty of an earthly home knowing it will never completely satisfy because there’s a heavenly one ahead”; “The pursuit of joy is good but can come dangerously close to hedonism and not the Christian kind.”

Giving Up or Giving Back. This was from the Lenten season but has some tips for “giving back” in various other settings as well.

4 Ways Satan Uses Christian Generosity for Evil, HT to Challies.

Manage profanity in writing, HT to Adam Blumer. Tips for making villainous characters realistic without filling your readers’ heads with foulness.

And, to end with a smile:



Happy Saturday!

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