Laudable Linkage

Here’s my latest collection of good reads online:

Seeing God’s Sovereignty in Our Suffering. “But in seasons of suffering, we have hope. Our hope is not some kind of wishful thinking that things will magically get better. Our hope is rooted in the bedrock, Bible-based truth that our God is sovereign and is orchestrating all of the events in our lives to accomplish His wise, good, and gracious purposes. ”

Calming the Soul in a Culture of Fear. How to combat fear arising from headlines and media.

Are You Storm-Tossed And Weary?, HT to Challies. “I just want them home safe—God wants to conform them to the image of his Son. I want them to be shielded from harm—he wants them to be holy. So, in prayer, I lay them at his feet, entrusting them to his care, and asking for wisdom for them and myself.”

That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief, HT to Linda.

4 Things You Can Do For Your Mental Health During the Covid-19 Virus, HT to Linda

How Do I Overcome Comparison? The True Woman blog of the Revive Our Hearts ministry is doing a series called “Ask an Older Woman.” This is the second in the series, with some good advice.

How Do We Do Church Now? We Can Start With Prayer. Several things to pray for in connection with the coronavirus and it’s affect on us.

How the World Worshipped on One of the Most Unusual Sundays in Church History. This was neat: pictures from across the globe of people doing church remotely.

Ferdi, HT to Challies. While most of us appreciate the technology that allows up to “do church” to some degree virtually, we realize its limitations. But for some, this is the first time they get to meet with other believers.

What Will We Teach Our Kids About Trusting God? “Will we trust Him with the path ahead? Will we teach our children to trust even when things get dark? Or are we offering them a faith that is contingent on whether God does what seems right to them?”

The Gospel Is Worth the Embarrassment. There’s one odd sentence here I am not sure I agree with, but overall this is a good reminder that Jesus bore embarrassment for us. For whatever reason we feel a bit embarrassed to share His truth sometimes, it’s worth it.

I’ve mentioned Ron Hamilton several times on the blog. My kids grew up listening to Patch the Pirate, and I know and love several of the songs the Hamiltons have written and performed for years. Ron and his wife, and Shelly, were grad assistants when I was a college freshman. They were active in music ministry, so they were well known. A few years after they married, Ron lost an eye to cancer. That experience resulted in one of his most well-known songs, “Rejoice in the Lord,” his Patch the Pirate ministry to children (portions can be heard on BBN Radio on Saturday mornings), and his Majesty Music ministry for forty years. Ron and Shelly also experienced the mental illness and suicide of their son, Ron’s early-onset dementia, and Shelly’s auto-immune disease. I just watched these two videos with Shelly and was blessed to hear more of the story of God’s grace in their lives and news about how they are doing now. The videos are a bit longer than what I usually share here, but I thought some of you might be interested whether you were familiar with them before or not.

Hope you have a good Saturday.

Laudable Linkage

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These are some noteworthy reads if you have time today:

Look for Life Among the Living. “Don’t seek the living among broken mirrors, unfulfilled longings, and external doings. He is not there. He has risen!”

Never Read a Bible Verse (and Never Listen To a Sermon Clip). “I read the paragraph, not just the verse. I take stock of the relevant material above and below. Since the context frames the verse and gives it specific meaning, I let it tell me what’s going on.”

Allow Parenting to Push You Toward Humility. “We can admit our own shortcomings while also pointing our children to the truth of God’s word. To do one without the other is not true discipleship”

We Are Okay, and We Are Not Okay, HT to the Story Warren. From a family 40 days into quarantine in China. “If I only go where I feel safe, is that trust? If I only follow where I am guaranteed to be okay— health or otherwise— will my faith grow? If I only wander as far as I have placed my own protective boundaries, will I know the ever-sweeter presence of a Savior who would take me to the heights? Or will I be safe, but stunted?”

Your Child May Not Ask Questions, But He Needs Answers Anyway. “Kids are interesting little people. They are always thinking, always assessing, always making decisions in their minds about how things are. I think we forget that about them. We assume that if they aren’t talking about it, they aren’t thinking about it, but nothing could be further from the truth.”

And to end on a smile:

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

Here’s my latest collection of thought-provoking reads:

Eleven Practices for Growing Love.

Could a Lack of Purpose Be Stealing Your Joy?

Anxious for Nothing: Addressing the Worry I Can’t Explain, HT to Challies. This is what I wish more people understood about certain types of anxiety and panic attacks: that they’re not a deliberate violation of Phil. 4:6-7 or worry about anything in particular. Some good thoughts about dealing with anxiety.

Intersectionality and the Church, HT to Challies. This post explains the term and demonstrates why it doesn’t work for the church.

Jesus, the Prostitutes, and Transgender Outreach, HT to Challies. “We must never assume that Jesus’ loving welcome of prostitutes indicates the slightest endorsement or toleration of their sin. Notice how Jesus explained his behavior: ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick’ (Mt. 9:12). Jesus said that he came to cure people of their sinful disorder – that is, to remove it and render them free from it – but not to promote or explore its experience. When he added, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (Mt. 9:13), the mercy he offered was deliverance from sin to his righteousness.”

When Parents Feel Like We Are Mostly Failing Most of the Time, particularly in regard to  modern technology.

I Illustrated National Parks In America Based On Their Worst Review and I Hope They Will Make You Laugh, HT to Challies. One-star reviews are often ridiculous, but never more so than these. Loved how this artist turned them around.

Don’t forget to set your clocks back an hour tonight (bah, humbug).

And to end with a smile:

Happy Saturday!

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I usually share these on Saturday, but I needed to wrap up the Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge yesterday. Here are some great reads if you have time:

Who Is the Holy Spirit? “If your ideas about the Spirit are divorced from the clear truths of Scripture, you will go astray into all kinds of error and ultimately damage the cause of Christ.”

The Benefit of Yielding to Jesus. Two different meanings of the word “yield,” and one leads to the other.

The Way He Should Go. “I heard the same proverb referenced by all sorts…What I didn’t frequent hear was what ‘the way they should go’ consists of.”

What’s To Be Done? Potentially, Nothing Else., HT to Challies. “In the end, there may not be anything more to do beyond the ongoing, slow Word-based ministry and giving the Spirit enough room to move without our insistence on more and more stuff to do.”

The Most Frightening Three Words, HT to Challies. A well-meaning “How are you?” can unsettle those suffering with a long-term illness or chronic pain. They don’t want to overload you, and they may not feel like going into it. Kimberly shares a better approach.

Cameraman, Lend a Hand,” HT to Challies. I’ve often wondered, when watching a video of a child crying or someone in distress, why the person filming doesn’t put down the phone and help.

Seven Questions to Ask in Evaluating Online Pundits, HT to Challies. “The digital revolution has made knowledge more accessible, the flow of information more diverse, and the ability to make your voice heard easier than ever before. The same revolution has also made invincible ignorance more sustainable, pervasive crankery more common, and the ability to discern what voices are worth listening to harder than ever before.”

Should “Broken” Genes Be Fixed? My daughter changed the way I think about that question, HT to Proclaim and Defend. “We believe the world is a better place for having kids like her in it, and we want the world to think hard about whether it really wants to go down a path of engineering a world where there are no Ruthies.”

Here’s What Iconic Historical Figures Would Look Like Today. This is strangely fascinating. An artist has rendered historical figures with modern hair styles and makeup to show what they would look like if they lived now.

I was reminded of the song, “See the Destined Day Arise” a couple of weeks ago and planned to share it during Easter week. Then I thought—why wait? As our church celebrated communion last week, as we look every Sunday, every day to the cross, we grieve at the cost of our salvation but rejoice that an able and willing Savior accomplished it. The first two stanzas were written by Venantius Fortunatus (c.530-600) and translated by Richard Mant (1837). The last stanza, chorus, and music were written by Matthew Merker. (I don’t know the church in the video: I just thought this was a nice, clear rendition.)

Laudable Linkage

These are some online reads that gave me much to think on:

5 Bible Study Techniques for Busy Moms. “We make it so complicated sometimes with rules and regulations, but the most important thing about being in God’s Word is to just actually be in it.”

And on that note, 10 Ways to Engage With Scripture. “How do you engage with Scripture? Since the key to knowing God’s heart is through His Word, I pondered her question.”

Can My Calling Really Be That Simple? “It’s easy, especially in Christian circles, to get grandiose ideas of what calling looks like. It’s easy to look for people who make a big difference, give up everything, and have the numbers (or passport stamps) to prove it.”

Ten Exhortations Concerning Gossip Blogs and Online Speech, HT to Challies. I would add, don’t pass on tweets or posts that contain this kind of thing, and don’t share something with the thought, “I don’t know if this is true, but just in case…” Check it out first.

James 3:1 and the Trembling Teacher. If you’ve ever tried to teach a Sunday School class, lead a Bible study, speak (or even write) about spiritual things, you can likely identify with this post.

To the New Parent, HT to True Woman. “What a gift you have in your hands and really, the best is still ahead of you. There’s no ‘Just wait until…’ God’s grace will equip you for each new season, even if his grace simply equips you to fall to your knees.”

This Is Your Body Today, HT to Challies. “What does it mean to bear on our bodies the marks of living in this world, to experience all that life and God will give and throw at us, and to not blame the sleeplessness or stretch marks on being a mother—or to find pride in them either because they birthed live children? To not blame the creaks and groans on laziness or lack or time. To not see ourselves as a victim of some perverse injustice, but to simply say to the body that holds us today and to the God who made it: ‘Thank you’ and also ‘This hurts’?”

Max Lucado’s Endorsement of Jen Hatmaker: What it Means and Why it Matters, HT to Challies. I don’t know much about either of these two people and have not read their stuff, but I agree with the principles discussed here. The same God who calls people to unity calls out those who preach something other than biblical truth.

Finally, I had not heard of the group 40 Fingers, but stumbled across this very pleasant video this morning:

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

Here’s my first collection of noteworthy reads for the new year:

Six Tips for Dealing with Difficult Relatives. “As I’ve had time to think and pray over the situation, I’ve been reminded of the story of Abigail in 1 Samuel 25. She had a difficult person in her life, too—one whose foolishness went way beyond that of my distant relative! But her story gives me guidance for how I can approach these situations in the future.”

Laughing at the Days to Come. The Proverbs 31 woman “laughs at the time to come” (31:25, ESV). How can we face the future with that kind of confidence rather than fear?

Parenting with Authority, Affection, and Affirmation. Yes. Some parenting sources tend to emphasize one or the other, but they’re all important.

More Gospel, Less Trolls in 2020, HT to Challies. “If you don’t want to become an orthodoxy troll, don’t take non-essential doctrines and make them your rubric for attacking the orthodoxy of others. Make the gospel your main focus. Give liberty on those issues that are not essential for historic orthodoxy. Discuss these issues, for sure. But don’t act like they are on the same level as the gospel. And above all, for crying out loud, don’t be a jerk. Assume the best of others and act in love.”

The Real Scam of ‘Influencer,’ HT to Challies. “The things you need to do to be popular (the only metric the platforms share) aren’t the things you’d be doing if you were trying to be effective, or grounded, or proud of the work you’re doing. When there’s a single metric (likes/followers), we end up looking in the rear-view mirror when we should be driving instead.” I’m wrestling with this in light of seeking to be published next year. I’ve heard some publishers want authors to have tens of thousands of followers before they’ll even consider the author’s manuscript. Yet chasing online popularity can take away from writing.

This was a quote from a Spurgeon book I’m reading:

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

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Are you enjoying the last few days of visiting with family, as we are? Or chasing end-of-year sales or gearing up to go back to work on Monday? If you have some leisure, these recent online finds have much good to share. Maybe one or two will pique your interest.

A few related to Christmas:

Handel’s—and Jennens’s—“Messiah“, HT to Challies. I didn’t know that Handel only wrote the music, not the words to his famous oratorio, “The Messiah.” Here’s a look at the man who wrote the libretto and why he did.

An Idaho boy married the girl he sent an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox to, HT to Laura. Sweet story!

Competing with Christmas? I like this idea of leveraging the “fun” aspects of the season rather than seeing them as a competition for the spiritual side.

Wise Men: Gentiles Who Sought the Savior. I enjoyed this look at the Magi, the reminder that salvation has always been available to Gentiles, and the contrast between the reaction of Jews and Gentiles at Christ’s birth. I was particularly intrigued by the “bookends” Chris pointed out in the gospels. For instance, myrrh was a gift brought to Jesus at His birth and ointment was poured on Him not long before His death; He was called the King of the Jews by the wise men but not called that again until the crucifixion. I had known those as separate facts but never thought of them as bookends.

When Love Is Hard to Give, and Harder to Receive.

A Weary Mom Rejoices. When the world seems too much, it’s good to rest in the only One who can do anything about it.

That Might Preach, But…it might be not accurate, or the main message of the text. HT to Challies. “In our desire to make Scripture ‘preachable’ we import uncertain meanings into the text, while ignoring glorious truths that are actually there.”

A Fragrant Offering, HT to Challies. “It is through our willingness to bear the sufferings of others that people will see Christ. As we do, we become a pleasing aroma to God and the ones we love. The prevailing aroma of Christ pours forth in and through us.”

Still Looking for That Better Country, HT to Challies. Really interesting perspective from a missionary living in a country she’s not a citizen of, comparing that to our living in the world yet being a citizen of heaven, warning herself against the settling-down that can take place as she comes to her own country.

To Serve God in Heaven Will Be a Great Reward, HT to Challies. I’ve often wondered about that phrase concerning serving God in heaven. “Service is a reward, not a punishment. This idea is foreign to people who dislike their work and only put up with it until retirement. We think that faithful work should be rewarded by a vacation for the rest of our lives. But God offers us something very different…”

‘Advertising breaks your spirit’: the French cities trying to ban public adverts, HT once again to Challies. Yes! I can’t condone public vandalism in the name of stopping advertisements, but I agree with pushing back against being assaulted by advertising in every nook and cranny.

And finally, interesting footage of a seagull who stole someone’s GoPro. I’m amazed the owner got it back!

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

This is my latest collection of thought-provoking online reads:

Is the God of the Bible a Genocidal Maniac? HT to Challies. No, but some have made that accusation. Here is a thoughtful response.

When Joy Feels Far Away, HT to True Woman. “What do you do when you have tried everything, but joy still feels far away?”

How to Study the Bible. I have not had a chance to watch these videos yet, and I normally wouldn’t post something I haven’t checked out for myself first. But Jen Wilkin’s Women of the Word is one of my favorite books. An updated version has just been released, and Jen published a series of videos showing how to use the Bible study method she writes about.

A Stack of Bibles. “The power of the Reformation was the power of the Word of God in the hands of normal people.”

How to Hope in God When a Door Closes.

My Love Cannot Save You, HT to Challies. As deep and wide and strong as a mother’s love is, we’re still limited in how much we can protect our children. “I can’t prevent her pain or her tears, but I know the One who wraps his arms around her and catches every tear in a bottle, present and attentive to each one.”

How TO (and how NOT to) Raise a Monstrous Son, HT to Lou Ann. “For his own good, and for the good of all the women he will encounter in life, he needs you to stand up to him when he crosses the line, especially in regard to using his physical strength to harm others.”

Four Things the Princess Culture Gets Wrong, HT to True Woman. “Rather than jumping on the bandwagon of the mommy wars—to princess or not to princess—I’ve opted to reframe the concept according to biblical truth.”

Why NO ONE Should Object to Clean Teen Fiction. Believe it or not, some do! These are good reasons they shouldn’t.

I don’t follow many comics online, but xkcd is one. Here are a couple of recent entries:

Happy Saturday!

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Here are a number of noteworthy reads discovered recently:

How Christians Should Respond to Kanye’s Reported Conversion, or any celebrity profession of faith. HT to Challies.

Our Words as an Instrument of Gentleness. An example of a soft word turning away wrath in a volatile situation.

Living a Legacy Life. The older we get, the more we realize how little time we have left. Make it count.

Be Patient with Us as We Learn, HT to Challies. “Older saint, we need you to make the first move and keep pursuing us. We need you to seek, mentor, disciple, and love the younger Christians in our church. I’m asking you to be patient with younger Christians with a patience such as our Lord Jesus exemplified. When we act in pride, please patiently endure us.”

How to Help an Anxious Child.

3 Things to Keep in Mind When Hospitality is Hard, HT to Story Warren.

Announcements at Church: Why Do We Do Them? HT to Challies. I love this description: “It’s being like the family at Sunday lunch, sharing about what’s happened and what’s coming up. It’s about connecting, lining up, knowing what we are all up to. It’s about love.”

For Those Who Turn Up Their Noses at Christian Fiction.

To Infinity . . . “I’m thankful for stories that awaken our imaginations and, in so doing, encourage us to press on. I’m thankful for the adventures that happen in Narnia and Middle Earth and Aerwiar and Natalia. I’m thankful for the imaginary world and surprising wisdom of Andy’s toys. And I’m thankful for the Story that all good stories ultimately point to, whether the authors themselves realize it or not . . .”

Finally, this is amazing. A man with cerebral palsy creates art using just ten keys on a typewriter:

“Just Wait: It Gets Harder”

A young mom friend shared that she gets the above response whenever she mentions that life can be hard with several little children at once.

Why do we women do that to each other?

I’m so thankful that when I was a young mom, a special older lady told me that each stage of our children’s lives has it’s high and low points, and we shouldn’t dread any stage. I think at the time my oldest was about to turn two, thus I was cringing at the thought of the “terrible twos.” Her words helped me not to view that season of life negatively, and the “twos” were not all that terrible.

Though baby- and toddlerhood hold some cute, sweet, fun, and incredibly precious  moments, small people depending on you for every little thing can be exhausting. I loved my babies and little ones, but this stage of life was hardest for me. When they can feed themselves, go to the bathroom by themselves, dress themselves, etc., life gets a lot easier.

Perhaps for some moms, what I call the “taxi years” are the most taxing, when you’re chauffeuring kids to sports practice, music lessons, church activities, birthday parties, school activities, etc., etc. That season does have its challenges. We tried hard to strike the right balance by offering our kids a number of opportunities without the whole household revolving around children’s schedules. It’s not easy. But one perk was that one of our children opened up much more in the car than if I tried to draw him out across the table.

Probably most who warn about harder years of parenting are referring to the teen years. Once, when my children were still young, an older mom and I were working on a bulletin board together at church. As she shared something about her teenage daughter, she said something like, “Don’t dread the teen years. If you keep the relationship good, keep communication open, and train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, the teen years don’t have to be a trial for either of you.” And she was right, just like my mom friend who told me not to dread the “terrible twos.” The world has bought into this idea that rebellion is a teenage rite of passage, but it doesn’t have to be. They do ask hard questions, but we should welcome them and help them seek answers. They should be coming to a point where their beliefs are becoming their own rather than just rotely following what they’ve always been told. There might be a few bumps in the road towards independence, but it doesn’t have to be an all-out war.

And then we come to parenting adults. In some ways, it’s a relief that all their decisions are their own responsibility now. Yet we have to let them make their own mistakes. We only offer advice when asked, and then carefully. We have to let go, but we can pray.

Each stage of development is a necessary part of growing up. Each has its hardships and its blessings. We need to encourage each other all along the way.

Imagine you’re hiking up a mountain trail. The way is rough, you’re hot, and you’ve still got a long way to go. Way up ahead you see another hiker. You call out to her and ask how the trail is between you. She says, “You think it’s bad now; you think you’re tired now; just wait. It only gets harder the further you go.”

How encouraged would you be? Not at all.

How much better if those ahead on the path called back, “Yes, it’s tough. But God gives grace. You can do it. Keep up the good work!” Or, even better, we can share how we found verses like 2 Corinthians 9:8 true in relation to motherhood: “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”

Motherhood has been one of the hardest aspects of my life. Not much else (besides caregiving) showed me how selfish I was and how much I needed God’s grace. But watching and learning from other moms was a great encouragement.

Much has been said in recent years about mentoring, but we don’t need to set up formal mentoring relationships in order to encourage others. So often, I’ve received the most encouragement from off-the-cuff, seemingly random conversations in passing. But looking back, I know they weren’t random. I know God placed those people in my path for  my encouragement.

I’ve shared before this poem from an unknown author that was quoted in Rosalind Goforth‘s autobiography, Climbing (one of my favorites). I had always thought of it in relation to life in general, Christian life in particular. I had mostly thought of it in relation to missionary and other Christian biographies. Even though it’s not specifically about motherhood, much of it can apply. We don’t need to demean or “one-up” others. Older moms, let’s call back encouragement to younger moms. Older women, let’s support younger women whether they are mothers or not, married or not.

Call Back!

If you have gone a little way ahead of me, call back-
It will cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track;
And if, perchance, Faith’s light is dim, because the oil is low,
Your call will guide my lagging course as wearily I go.

Call back, and tell me that He went with you into the storm;
Call back, and say He kept you when forest’s roots were torn;
That when the heavens thunder and the earthquake shook the hill.
He bore you up and held where the very air was still.

O friend, call back, and tell me, for I cannot see your face;
They say it glows with triumph, and your feet bound in the race;
But there are mists between us and my spirit eyes are dim,
And I cannot see the glory, though I long for word of Him.

But if you’ll say He heard you when your prayer was but a cry,
And if you’ll say He saw you through the night’s sin-darkened sky-
If you have gone a little way ahead, O friend, call back-
It will cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track.

Has someone “called back” in a way that encouraged you? I’ve love to hear about it in the comments.

(I’ve read several posts about encouragement this week. This must be a
message God wants emphasized at this particular time.
I love how Kelly expanded this truth to all scenarios here.)

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Global Blogging, Literary Musing Monday,
Hearth and Home, Purposeful Faith, Tea and Word, Tell His Story,
Happy Now, InstaEncouragement, Anchored Abode,
Let’s Have Coffee, Recharge Wednesday, Share a Link Wednesday,
Wise Woman, Worth Beyond Rubies, HeartEncouragement,
Grace and Truth, Faith ‘n Friends)