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

Here’s another list of good reads I cam across recently.

Gentle and Lowly Book Club. Linda is hosting weekly discussions of Dane Ortlund’s Gentle and Lowly: the Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers from September 12 through October 3. I haven’t read the book yet, but I have heard many good things about it. Reading with others always enhances the experience and brings out more than I gleaned on my own.

Afghan Pastors Ask for Prayer, HT to Challies. “As Taliban forces have swallowed up Afghanistan and even now the capital city of Kabul, pastors in the country have been emailing and messaging me over the last few days, even hours, anxious for prayer.” See also Pray for Afghanistan.

The Situation in Afghanistan, and Ways to Pray and Help, HT to Challies. “Jesus is literally all they have left.”

What Does It Mean to Be Filled with the Spirit? It’s interesting that this post came up just after reading about the same topic in the ESV Study Bible notes and Warren Wiersbe’s “Be” commentary on Acts and a Bible study discussion at church on the first five chapters of Acts—and they all agreed.

Perfect Courtesy Toward All in the Worst of Times, HT to Challies. “Paul tells Titus to remind his flocks of seven important Christian virtues. Their need to be reminded implies a tendency to forget. Apparently, top-to-bottom cultural corruption creates a need for repeated conscience re-calibration.”

How to Experience Peace in Spite of Unsafe People. “We think if we can escape their presence and any reminders of them, we’ll have peace. My experience in Switzerland reminded me peace doesn’t come from distance from them but from closeness with Jesus.”

5 Ways to Reflect Christ’s Character in Contentious Conversations. “God tells us that we are to seek peace, not contention. Peace isn’t simply the absence of conflict, and it isn’t a passive act. We have to pursue it with an active and committed determination, searching for ways to maintain peace with others.” 

Mom Guilt and the God Who Sees, HT to Challies. “Mom guilt. Moms today are well acquainted with the term. We use it as a kind of shorthand to express an all-too-common feeling we face in the everyday events of mothering.”

Dear Next Generation. Though this is addressed to young people, the advise is good for any age. “I didn’t really think about the gospel all that much. At a young age, I believed that Jesus died on the cross for my sin, but that’s where the story ended for me. I had never considered that the gospel should impact my everyday life. Why would I need to hear the gospel anymore?”

This is interesting: four cellists play Ravel’s “Bolero”—on one cello. I wonder how many practices it took to coordinate without bumping into each other. I like the first comment on YouTube: “When everyone except the cellist forgets their instruments: It’s ok guys, we can make it work.”

Laudable Linkage


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

A collection of good reading online

Here is a short but thought-provoking list of reads discovered this week.

Be Reasonable for the Sake of the Gospel. “Hyperbole seems to be the rhetorical strategy of the day in Christian circles. In comment boxes, imprecise language and thinking, haphazard arguments based on fallacy, and all kinds of claims about what Satan is doing often taint an otherwise helpful, measured post.” I’ve noticed this, too.

5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Studying the Bible. “When we pick and choose verses from Scripture aimed merely at lifting our spirits when we’re feeling down, we run the risk of reducing the Bible to a self-help manual.”

Infographic: You Have More Time for Bible Reading Than You Think. Interesting graphics that show how much time it takes to read different parts of the Bible and how much time we spend in other pursuits.

The Tyranny of Tech and Trans, HT to Challies. Alarming on many levels.

I’ve heard a bit about the guarding of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but not as much as is shown here. I so appreciate the respect shown.

If a bear came where I was sitting, I don’t know if I could calmly sit still. But that’s probably the best thing to do.

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

Here’s my latest roundup of good reads on the Web:

Gospel Hope for a Weary Mom, HT to The Story Warren. “The good news is, it’s not our perfect love and perfect parenting that will reflect Jesus to our children; it’s admitting our dependence on Christ’s perfect love and perfect life that points them to their own need for a Savior.”

Love Hopes All Things–and Tosses the Worst Assumptions, HT to Challies. “With the admonition to be slow to speak we should also remember, So be slow to assume.”

What Do We Do When Our Stories Collide? “Yes, at first, the timing for the two stories could seem awkward at best, even insensitive. But it was also an honest view of real life. How we can be dealing with one thing – a joy-filled occasion – and be unaware that the person next to us can be grieving.”

Individual and Community Discipleship. Discipleship isn’t always about two people working through a curriculum. “I have a received a lot of discipleship from Christians who were just doing what God made them to do.” Me, too.

A “God Is Faithful” party. When friends didn’t want the attention of a going-away party, Sue turned it into a “God is faithful” party. Love this idea!

An RV Renovation, HT to Decor to Adore. Wow! Inspiring!

This video was shared at Appointment Etiquette at a Writing Conference. It’s all about the wrong ways to get your manuscript to an agent or publisher, but I think you’ll find it funny even if you’re not interested in publication:

Happy Saturday!

Book Review: What Is the Gospel?

What Is the GospelWhen we received the book What Is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert in a gift bag from a church we visited, my first thought was, “It takes 121 pages to explain that?”

But, as he demonstrates in the first few pages, people have a variety of ideas about what exactly the gospel is, some odd, some close but not quite accurate. This, above anything else, is essential to know, because if we’re wrong about this, we’re in big trouble.

The first issue is our source of authority. After showing that reason, our own experience, and tradition are all unreliable, he goes to the Bible. He asserts that we can’t just do a study on the word “gospel” because many passages that describe it don’t use that word. So he suggests “looking at what the earliest Christians said about Jesus and the significance of his life, death, and resurrection” (p. 27).

Starting at Romans 1-4 and then examining other passages in the Bible, he observes that the gospel covers four basic questions:

1. Who made us, and to whom are we accountable?
2. What is our problem?…Are we in trouble and why?
3. What is God’s solution to that problem? How has he acted to save us from it?
4. How do I…come to be included in that salvation? What makes this good news for me and not just for someone else? (p. 31).

He further distills this down to “four major points…God, man, Christ, and response” (p. 31) and then dedicates a chapter to each one. One quote that stood out to me in the chapter on our response:

Many Christians struggle hard with this idea of repentance because they somehow expect that if they genuinely repent, sin will go away and temptation will stop. When that doesn’t happen, they fall into despair, questioning whether their faith in Jesus is real. It’s true that when God regenerates us, he gives us power to fight against and overcome sin (1 Cor. 10:13). But because we will continue to struggle with sin until we are glorified, we have to remember that genuine repentance is more a matter of the heart’s attitude toward sin that it is a mere change of behavior. Do we hate sin and war against it, or do we cherish it and defend it? (p. 81).

Since Christianity is not just about what we’re saved from, but it’s also about what we’re saved to, there’s a chapter on the kingdom of God. The chapter on “Keeping the Cross at the Center” addresses our tendency to try to make the gospel bigger, or more relevant, or less offensive by getting off-center, and he discusses three “substitute” gospels that even well-meaning people can fall into sometimes. And finally, the last chapter explores several responses a proper understanding of the gospel should have on us, one of which is loving the brethren.

Christian, the gospel should drive you to a deeper and livelier love for God’s people, the church. Not one of us Christians has earned his or her way into the inheritance God has stored up for us. We are not “self-made” citizens of the kingdom. We are included in God’s promises only because we know that we are dependent on Jesus Christ to save us, and we are united to him by faith.

But here’s the kicker. Do you realize that the same thing is true of that brother or sister in your church who annoys you? He or she believes in and loves the same Lord Jesus that you do, and even more, he or she has been saved and forgiven by the same Lord who saved and forgave you (pp. 117-118).

I found this a very readable and highly valuable book, both for non-Christians who want a clear presentation of what the gospel is all about, and for Christians to remind ourselves of what a treasure the gospel truly is, to keep us from getting sidetracked by “good” causes which de-emphasize, leave out, or muddy the gospel, and to let it affect our lives in every way it’s supposed to.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books, Literary Musing Monday, Carole’s Books You Loved)

31 Days of Inspirational Biography: Walter Wilson

Walter WilsonWalter Wilson had the ability to turn nearly any conversation into a witnessing opportunity, yet with graciousness and kindness rather than belligerent buttonholing. A friend commented about him that he certainly had the gift of evangelism. True. But he also had an obedient and willing heart. He would have been the last person to have wanted people to think he was unique or that no one could do what he did. We can learn much from his spirit as well as the particular ways he had of turning conversations to the things of the Lord.

Harry Ironside urged him to write some of his experiences, which led to five books of anecdotes about various opportunities he had to lead people to the Lord. Some of the stories have been compiled into a fascinating book titled Just What the Doctor Ordered.

He was able to lead a German shop owner to the Lord when he told him the blank book he was buying was to be used for recording his prayer requests and answers. The man asked, “Can you get to Gott?” explaining that he had wanted to “find Gott” for many years.

One of my favorite chapters, “The Wrong Address But the Right Persons,” tells of a visit he tried to make while out of town to the son of a friend. After looking up the name and address, he arrived to find the man’s wife and two friends. As they began to talk, he realized that this young man, though he had the same name, was not the son of his friend. As he apologized and began to get ready to leave, he noticed a well-worn Bible on a table. He asked if they read it and loved it, which they said they did. He asked if they had learned from its pages how to be saved. Stirred, the three looked at each other, and then explained that when he had rung the doorbell, they had been on their knees praying that God would send someone who would show them how to be saved.

Another chapter tells about an atheist doctor known for his antagonism. Dr. Wilson visited him and discovered the one issue that kept the doctor from believing. He invited the doctor to church, and the Lord gave him just the right illustration that removed the obstacle in this doctor’s thinking. Another chapter tells how, as he was holding special meetings in a certain city, the pastor invited him to visit a church member who had been seriously ill in the hospital. They did so and had a good visit. Dr. Wilson took notice of a nurse in the room and went over to her to ask her if any of this man’s visitors had brought any message of comfort to her as well. She said no, she was not a Christian as these folks were. As he told her about the Lord, she began to weep. “All unknown to those who had visited the sick man, this nurse had been listening, the hunger had been increasing, and the desire to have what they were talking about became more and more acute in her soul…Although the visiting Christians had overlooked this splendid prospect, nevertheless God used their words to prepare her heart…The hungry heart may be quite close to us but may be all unobserved because we are not looking for the troubled soul.”

Other chapters are “The Case of the Japanese Barber,” “The Ticket Did Not Arrive on Time,” “God visited the Circus,” “Mrs. Fox Did Not Like It,” “A Hopeless Cripple Could Sing,” “Lost on Mount Wilson,” “The Candlestick Was Not in the Ark,” “”Lillian Was Miserable on the Stage,” “’Will I See My Little Girl Again?’” “The Intern Was Surprised,” “The Cursing Barber,” as well as others. At the end is a chapter entitled, “Hints and Helps For Personal Soulwinners.”

Dr. Wilson was not a trained or ordained preacher. He was a “medical doctor, natural scientist, salesman, businessman, author, preacher, school administrator, and more.” But he viewed sharing the gospel as his “principal business in life.” David Woehr, in his biographical sketch at the beginning of the book, says:

He translated that concern into action by taking advantage of every available opportunity to present the gospel. On the other hand, he placed great emphasis on the leading of the Holy Spirit. Each morning he would earnestly pray for the Holy Spirit to guide him to the particular person whom He had prepared to receive the gospel. During the day, expecting God to answer his prayer, he would take advantage of each favorable occasion to speak a word for Christ. He was not one to wait for some strange, inner urging of the Spirit to move him, for the opening up of an opportunity was leading enough for him.

Always a gentleman and never intrusive or abrasive, it was evident that the love of God motivated him. He was not a salesman with a product to huckster onto some unsuspecting potential client…Each one with whom he came in contact was a person who perhaps needed the water of life. He was a man under orders, ready at every moment to follow the Spirit’s leading and be the instrument by which God would bring a new-born babe into His kingdom.

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For the 31 Days writing challenge, I am sharing 31 Days of Inspirational Biography. You can find others in the series here.

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

Laudable Linkage

I’m here again today with my almost weekly round-up of interesting reads from the last week or so:

Gospel-Centered Reduction: Slighting the Spirit. There has been something bothering me about the term “gospel-centered” being used as an adjective on just about everything in Christianity in recent years, but I couldn’t quite articulate why. This article touches on some of the reasons.

Coffee With Facepalm Jesus Calling, HT to Bobbi. The various problems with portraying Jesus as saying things He wouldn’t say, from memes to cartoons to Jesus Calling.

Fred Phelps and the Anti-Gospel of Hate.

9 Things We Should Get Rid of to Help Our Kids.

31 Days of Purity: The Throne of Grace. I especially appreciated the paragraph by Lambert in the middle about the difference between condemning self-talk and confession.

This Mother Tore Off labels and Nurtured Her Son’s Hidden Genius.

Soldier Finds Lifeline in Letter Exchange With Vermont Author, HT to Sherry. I have never read either of these authors but want to now. I espcially liked this: “I needed that reminder that there was still hope and still beauty in the world. At that time in my life there was none. There was nothing except guns and fear. I was really not at all sure that I was ever going to get out of that place. This book gave me a little bit of beauty at that time, and I needed it. Not the way I need a new app for my iPad. I needed it to keep my soul alive.”

Threads: Loved this: “Every great story tells in some part The Great Story. Each truth revealed helps us make sense of our world. And through each tragedy, comedy, and fairy tale, the Truth is woven through the fabric of our being.” I don’t know that I’d say that about every story – I’ve read some awful ones with little redeeming value – but overall, yes, truth even in fiction points us to the ultimate Author of truth.

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

I don’t usually do one of these every week, but the past few weeks have been filled with good reading. Here are some posts that spoke to me this week:

A “Good Girl” Wrestles With the Gospel. “My sin nature seems to be super glued to me. Being a good girl doesn’t dissolve its adhesive effect. Following the rules doesn’t make me righteous. Acting like Pollyanna isn’t the same as having a pure heart.”

Nowhere Else to Go. This really touched my heart.

What Seems to Be. “If the characters in the story could step back and see what the storyteller sees, they might not despair quite so keenly.  They would trust the twists and turns as part of the greater narrative.  May it be so for me, and for all of us.”

5 Churchy Phrases That Are Scaring Off Millennial. We shouldn’t throw out a true phrase just because someone objects to it, but we do need to make sure what we say  is truthful and appropriate.

Modesty Matters: The Heart of Modesty. I’ve read so much on modesty that I wasn’t terribly excited when I saw this title, but I appreciated the balance and the focus here. This is the first in a series.

The Silent Suffering of Miscarriage. Helpful and not so helpful things, from one who has been there.

Undercover: How book covers come to be. Thought this was fascinating.

Free ESV Online Study Bible, for a short time, to celebrate Crossway’s 75th year.

God's care

31 Days of Missionary Stories: Margaret Stringer: A Merry Heart and a Faithful Spirit

Margaret Stringer

Margaret Stringer has been one of my favorite people for years. The church we attended in SC supported her in Indonesia (formerly known as Irian Jaya, now West Papua). She was there for a little over 40 years, and she “retired” (I always put that in quotation marks, because she is one of the most active retirees I know, traveling often to churches and missions conferences) not too far from our church, so we invited her to speak at least once a year to our ladies’ group. She would have us just rolling in the floor telling about situations which I’m sure weren’t funny when they first happened.

I’ve appreciated not only her merry heart, but also her faith and obedience. Many of us can’t imagine being the lone woman to go to visit a village of cannibals at the possible risk of our own lives. That sounds like something missionaries did way back, like Mary Slessor. But there are still people who haven’t heard of the Savior, and God’s ability to meet their needs as well as the needs of His messengers are still the same.

from_cannibalism_small.jpgA few years ago she wrote a book titled From Cannibalism to Christianity: The Vakabuis Story, which tells mainly how the Lord opened one particular group of villages, from first contact to the establishment of a full-fledged church. There are hilarious moments as well as frightening ones. But what joy there is in seeing the light of understanding dawn after repeated sharing of the gospel. I don’t remember if Margaret said this in the book, but I know I heard her say while speaking to us that there were moments when she thought, “This isn’t going to make sense to them.” Imagine sharing the Word of God with someone who doesn’t know anything about it and doesn’t know who God is. Yet they did share God’s Word by faith, and the Holy Spirit gave understanding and conviction.

Secularists don’t have to worry about the people’s culture being infringed on. The people still have their own traditions and culture. But they also have hope and life. As I said in an earlier post, I don’t know why anyone, even the most unchristian person on the planet, would have any objection to helping people get rid of traditions like cannibalism and killing a twin baby. I appreciated the way Margaret endeavored to help them not to be too dependent on her. When they asked her to name the church, for instance, she told them they should name it.

One of her major accomplishments while there was reducing two languages to writing and translating the Bible into them.

When she retired she thought she would never have an opportunity to go back, but she was able take a few trips back. One night at our ladies’ group she showed some video footage (24 minutes condensed from 5 hours) while she told us what was going on, interspersed with some history here and there of the people. I tell you — seeing footage of former cannibals and headhunters now singing hymns, hearing about the most powerful and feared witch doctor in the area who became a believer and whose son is now the head of the church — that just does something to your heart.

She told us about one man during a visit who said something like, “When you left us, I was very sad for a long time. But you told us you were leaving God here, and He helped me. So when you leave this time, I will be sad, but not for as long a time, because God is here with me.” She said that’s not exactly how she put it to him, but it was so neat he got the concept that God was still there and didn’t leave when she did, and he could depend on Him.

I was amazed at her fearlessness. In one piece of footage, she was getting out of a boat to see one of the villages she used to work in, and one man took her hand and began leading her away. Her friend said, “Where are you going?” She said, “I don’t know!” As people came to greet her and hug her, the man would stop for a few minutes, and then take her hand and lead her away again. Finally he led her to his house, where he had prepared lunch for them.

One of my favorite stories she tells is not in the book but is so characteristic of her. She was new to the field, which of course was an adjustment, and she was pretty low. A number of trying things had happened, one of them a big storm that had blown through the glassless windows and ruined about 95 % of her work of language analysis. After she went to bed, something fell off the wall and hit her on the head. That was the last straw: if I remember correctly, she “fussed” in her spirit at God, saying things like, “I thought you loved me! I thought you promised to take care of me!” She got a light to see what had fallen, and it was a plaque that said…”He cares for you.” That’s one way to get the message!

Margaret has also written several articles about becoming and working as a missionary here. This video, narrated by Margaret, tells the Vakabuis story in condensed form, well worth the 30 minutes it takes to watch:

(You can see other posts in the 31 Days of Missionary Stories here.)

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