Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

Here are a few of the good reads discovered this week:

Why Biblical Literacy Matters. “Such artistry of language—from simple words that convey powerful truth to overarching patterns that direct our interpretation and application—reveals a God who communicates to us carefully and meaningfully through His words.”

Self-Talk and Sanctification, HT to Challies. Have you ever been confused by the thoughts in your head, wondering which are God’s which are your own, and which are Satan’s? This gives some helpful distinctions.

The Character of the Christian: Gentle. I think of gentleness as the forgotten fruit of the Spirit.

Tally On, Dear Writer. Though this is within the context of writing, it’s good in any area to frame goals in an encouraging way.

We Need Balance When It Comes to Gender Dysphoric Kids. I Would Know. HT to Challies. This is not written from a Christian viewpoint. But the writer makes an important point. There’s a downside to transgender treatment. “There is no structured, tested or widely accepted baseline for transgender health care. . . . It is not transphobic or discriminatory to discuss this—we as a society need to fully understand what we are encouraging our children to do to their bodies.”

On Boiling Goats, HT to Challies. Have you ever wondered about that odd prohibition in the OT about not boiling a goat in its mother’s milk? Here are some possible reasons behind it as well as tips on how to view passages like this.

A Bible Reading Plan Generator. Now you can customize your Bible reading plan!

Have a great weekend!

Laudable Linkage

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My online reading has been quick and light this week, but here are some reads that stood out to me:

What Freedom From Sin Looks Like in This Life, HT to Challies. “We want to have a neatly resolved plotline where we say I had this problem, and I asked the Lord, and he removed my desire for that, and I didn’t do it anymore. But, we all know that’s not how we typically see holiness playing out in our lives.”

Let’s Stop Stirring the Pot, HT to Challies. Sometimes sharing truth will cause controversy. But we shouldn’t post online just for the purpose of stirring up controversy.

Dr. James Dobson’s Election Reflections.

Making Sanctuaries. I love posts like this that encourage moms in their ministry at home. “Here we pray and worship. Here we read and learn. Here we play and argue and muddle through. For now, there’s nowhere else. So I try, in as much as I can, to make this a place of safety. Of welcome, even on the hard days. Of messy, constant grace, and awareness that the sacred is always closer than we think.”

2020 Comedy Wildlife Photo Finalists, HT to Laura. These are always fun. I especially like the first one with the bears and the fox and mouse.

Finally, this is a post-Thanksgiving experience for many of us (seen on FaceBook, don’t know original source), HT to my brother and sister:

Happy Saturday!

Book Review: In His Image

There are some ways in which we will never be like God. Jen Wilkin dealt with most of those in her excellent book None Like Him:10 Ways God is Different From Us (and Why That’s a Good Thing) (linked to my review).

But there are ways we are supposed to be like God. We will never become deity and we’ll never exercise these in perfection, at least until heaven. But we’re supposed to grow in them now. Jen discusses ten of these in In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character.: holiness, love, goodness, justice, mercy, graciousness, faithfulness, patience, truthfulness, and wisdom.

Jesus held all these traits in perfection. We’re called “to be conformed to [His] image” (Romans 8:29).

Our inclination is to discern God’s will by asking, “What should I do?” But God’s will concerns itself primarily with who we are and only secondarily with what we do. By changing the question and asking, “Who should I be?” we see that God’s will is not concealed in his Word, but is plainly revealed.

The Bible plainly answers the question “Who should I be?” with “Be like Jesus Christ, who perfectty images God in human form.” God’s will for our lives is that we conform to the image of Christ, whose incarnation shows us humanity perfectly conformed to the image of God (pp. 20-21).

In each chapter, Jen discusses what these traits look like in God, and then explains how we can best put them to practice in our own lives. The chapters end with verses and discussion questions.

I have multiple places marked in the book. But here are a few quotes that convicted me:

If we focus on our actions without addressing our hearts, we may end up merely as better behaved lovers of self.

As with the Ten Commandments, the Great Commandment begins with the vertical relationship and moves to horizontal relationships. Unless we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, we will love ourselves and our neighbors inadequately. Right love of God is what enables right love of self and others (p. 38).

And what does right vertical relationship look like? It looks like the full deployment of our heart, soul, mind and strength—the totality of our being—in the active love of God (p. 39).

Right now, there is much that we witness or endure that is clearly not good. But under the sovereign governance of an eternally good God, we can trust that all that is not now good will ultimately be used for our good. Like Joseph we will one day, in this life or the next, look over our had pasts and acknowledge with him that what our enemies meant for evil God has used for good (Gen. 50:20) (p. 48).

Generosity is the hallmark of those who are determined to be lights in the darkness as children of their heavenly Father. It is the calling card of all who are recipients of the generous good news of salvation through Christ (p. 52).

We are familiar with the maxim that patience is a virtue, but it is a virtue rarely sought. The world’s solution to the problem of impatience is not to develop patience, but to eliminate as many situations that require it as possible (p. 110).

It is not coincidental that a lack of discernment and a neglected Bible are so often found in company (p. 144).

I wish there was a way to retain everything we read from books. Since there is not, I will have to revisit this and None Like Him again in the future. I appreciate Jen’s clear and skillful discussion of biblical concepts.

(Sharing with InstaEncouragement, Grace and Truth,
Carole’s Books You Loved, Booknificent Thursday)

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading onlineHere are some thought-provoking reads discovered recently.

What Does a Christian Need to Grow? HT to Challies. “Conferences abound – they’re good aren’t they? – and there are all the worthy books you might read, they’re surely helpful? Some people are into blogs and podcasts too. Such vital media are surely valuable, are they not? But, honestly, no. Not ‘no’ as in, they’re not valuable. All these things might be valuable. But no, you don’t need them to grow.” I love back-to-basics posts.

Was That Worship? HT to Challies. Nostalgia or emotion might be part of worship, but are not worship in themselves.

Should We Legislate Morality?

Christians Don’t Need the Black Lives Matter Movement to Defeat Evil, HT to Proclaim and Defend. Before you react to this one, let me say that I was hesitant about posting it because the title and some of what it says is polarizing. But, whatever specific points we might agree or disagree with, the most important, and the reason I am sharing this, is that some are encouraging Christians to follow a movement instead of living out their Christian faith. In past decades it was Christians who led the fight for abolition and civil rights. “The idea that the gospel is not enough to defeat evil is a belief that could severely hamper the work of the Kingdom. Thankfully, the history of the last two centuries is enough to prove otherwise.” Also, while I believe, as this author does, that Black lives do matter, I didn’t know until a few weeks ago that there is an organization by that name with which I would not agree. Christians attending peaceful marches and protests are fine, but not in place of the gospel and Christian principles. And, as I said before, we do need to listen and acknowledge and learn.

Are Churches “A Major Source of Coronavirus Cases“? No, despite some headlines. We need to exercise discernment when we read the news. (In today’s post, Tim Challies notes that the headline has been changed to the more accurate and less provocative “Churches Were Eager to Reopen. Now They Are Confronting Coronavirus Cases.”)

40+ Free Virtual Vacations Your Kids Will Love, HT to The Story Warren. With vacation plans nixed due to COVID-19, here are some ways to explore areas you might never have the opportunity to see in person.

Amazing Chalk Art by a 14-year-old, featuring her brother. HT to The Story Warren. At the end is a list of links of fun things to do at home.

This is one Welsh church’s humorous rendition of how things would work when their church reopened after the lockdown. Probably whatever they actually did would seem much better after viewing this. 🙂 HT to Steve Laube.

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading onlineHere are some of the great reads I discovered this week:

How to Disagree Better about COVID-19, Conspiracy Theories, and Pretty Much Everything Else in Life.

The Cure for a Lack of Fruit in Our Christian Lives, HT to Challies.

5 Ways Christians are Getting Swept into a Secular Worldview in This Cultural Moment. HT to Proclaim and Defend.

The American Soviet Mentality, HT to Challies. I hadn’t made the connection between today’s cancel culture and what they used to do in the Soviet Union, but now that I’ve read this, the similarities are striking and scary.

How to Bear Up Under Your Burdens.

Getting Practical: How to Host a Middle Eastern Friend, HT to Challies. These are useful tips if you have the opportunity to host someone from the Middle East.

11 Transcendent Moments of Movie Music. “Wordless music in a film often speaks more to us than all the words of the script. Why? I think it’s because music in general is a language with mysterious communicative potential.” I enjoyed this a lot. I haven’t seen all the movies listed here, but would like to check out some of them now. And with that, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite pieces:

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading onlineHere are some great reads collected in the last couple of weeks.

How to Be Refreshed by Opening Your Bible.

It’s Time to Conquer that Midyear Bible Reading Slump. What a great idea to revisit the plans we made for Bible reading back in January. Michele suggests several great resources.

A Statement About Statements, HT to Challies. I appreciate the difficulty of being expected to come up with a statement on issues while still processing them.

We Need Rainy Times, HT to Challies. “We all love the sunshine, but the Arabs have a proverb that ‘all sunshine makes the desert.'”

I Know a Place, of justice, righteousness, mercy, grace, and more. HT to Challies.

Dear Worthless Cockroach, HT to Challies. “Is there anything about me (as myself, as the person I am apart from God’s saving grace) that is actually worthwhile or lovable? Am I just a worthless, sinful cockroach that God has chosen to love? And if so, am I wrong to feel bad or uneasy about this? To feel (as I sometimes do) that underneath everything, I really am pretty worthless and unlovable?”

The Exchange of Pleasures, HT to Challies. “Achieving a fitness goal and killing sin both happens through the exchange of pleasures.”

Pluckers. Proverbs 14:1 in the KJV says, “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” I enjoyed this post about ways we might unwittingly be “pluckers.”

A Cake on the Back Seat, HT to to Challies. “Dear sister, don’t underestimate your voice, especially when many others do. In speaking wisdom to us, reminding us of cakes being carried on back seats, you carry with you the spirit of Abigail as she rode out in 1 Samuel 25.”

Ten Questions Missionaries Love to Answer, HT to to Challies.

From Camping To Dining Out: Here’s How Experts Rate The Risks of 14 Summer Activities, HT to Lisa.

Giant List of Indoor Activities for Kids, HT to Story Warren. With playgrounds and restaurants closed and play dates off the calendar, this is good if you need some fresh ideas for the kids.

The Elisabeth Elliot.org site has gotten a complete overhaul in order to put the writings of Elisabeth, Jim Elliot, and their daughter, Valerie Elliot Shepard all under one “roof.” I miss “Ramblings from the Cove” that Elisabeth’s third husband, Lars, used to write, and I hope they include a word from him sometimes.

And finally, this was pretty clever. HT to Steve Laube.

Happy Saturday!

How do you know if God is displeased with you?

How to know if God is displeased with youAs I skimmed through Twitter recently, I saw a tweet from someone I didn’t know who asked, “How do you know if God is displeased with you?”

I didn’t have time to read all 60+ responses, but I scrolled through several. I was astonished to see that no one appealed to the Bible or prayer.

One mentioned a sinking feeling in the pit of their stomach. Another cited a vague uneasiness. One said that everything going wrong in life was a sure sign of God’s displeasure. But those can all be caused by any number of things.

God uses our consciences to convict us sometimes, but conscience has to be trained. Some people have no conscience about cannibalism or genocide. Others’ consciences trouble them over every little thing.

So how do you know if God is displeased with you?

Ask Him. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24).

Read His Word. There He tells us what’s right and wrong. Of course, we have to be careful to read in context, consider who is saying what to whom, and interpret it with some common sense principles.

Paul says, “Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet” (Romans 7:7b). The Bible gives us the ten commandments (Exodus 20), a list of things God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19), lists of things to put off and put on (Ephesians 4:17-32), the difference between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26), as well as other instructions.

The Bible doesn’t just tell us what not to do: it also tells us what we should be doing. So we could also displease God by failing to do good in some area.

The more we read the Bible and grow in the Lord, the more we grow in our understanding. For instance, we might read early on that we shouldn’t steal. That seems pretty straightforward: don’t take anything that belongs to someone else. Then later we realize that if we goof off on the job, we’re stealing from our boss the work he has paid us for. Then even later we come across Ephesians 4:28: “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” We realize that not stealing isn’t an end in itself: we need to replace theft with honest work not only to provide for ourselves, but to help others.

Besides general right and wrong, the Bible shares some specific things that God is pleased with:

Faith. “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” Hebrews 11:6).

Fear (reverence): “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love” (Psalm 147:11).

Spiritual sacrifices: “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Hebrews 13:15-16).

Obedience: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22). Wait a minute—I just mentioned sacrifices were pleasing to God, and now I am saying they are not? The sacrifices in this verse were part of the OT system of worship. Too often people fell into religious ritual without their hearts being in it (we still do that, though our rituals are different). God was saying through Samuel that it doesn’t do any good to perform religious rites without obeying Him. That’s the height of hypocrisy.  But the spiritual sacrifices that please God, mentioned above in Hebrews, were ministry to others at cost to ourselves from a heart of love and worship of God.

Jesus: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Matthew 17:5). “And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him” (John 8:29). Jesus is more than just an example, but God does want us to listen to Him and live like Him. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

One problem with trying to please God is that we can’t in our flesh.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:5-8).

That’s dire. What’s the remedy?

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you (Romans 8:9-11).

How does that happen? When we believe on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and turn from our sin and trusting in ourselves or anything else, Jesus and the Holy Spirit live within us. Jesus lived a perfect life of righteousness, which we could never do. He took our sins on Himself on the cross, so that when we repent and believe on Him, He puts His righteousness on our account.  We could never be good enough on our own to please God. Even if we could from this moment forward, we have a past of not pleasing God. The only way He can be completely pleased with us is through Christ.

We can be saved in a moment. But then it takes a lifetime to grow in grace and Christlikeness. One former pastor used to say that “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) meant not to work for salvation, but to work it out like a math problem: take all those lofty truths and principles and work them into your everyday life.

But we do stumble and fail. When we believe in Christ, God becomes our Father.

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13-14).

Over and over in the Bible, God is described as longsuffering, slow to anger, merciful, ready to forgive, ready to help. If our heart is with Him and our desire is to walk with Him and do His will, we don’t need to walk around with a vague feeling of spiritual uneasiness. As a loving Father, He will show us right from wrong, forgive us when we fail, and enable us to live for Him.

But some walk in blatant disregard of the Bible yet think God is well-pleased with them. Or they think they know who God is and what the Bible says, but they’re misinformed. We shouldn’t be presumptuous. How we need to read His Word, come to Him with a humble spirit, and seek His grace to live for Him.

Early in my Christian walk, I probably had more of that vague uneasiness that something was wrong spiritually. A former pastor used to say that when we come to God and ask Him to search our hearts, then we wait and deal with whatever He brings to mind. He likened it to opening a box, dealing with what’s there, opening another box, until there are no more boxes—nothing else that God brings to mind. I still do that sometimes. But now, after 45 years of reading His Word and walking with Him, usually conviction is immediate. Often, right after I do or think something wrong, God will remind me of what His Word says about what I just did or thought. Then I try to immediately ask His forgiveness. But it’s still good to ask Him to search our hearts in case we’re overlooking something.

Sometimes it takes a while to sort through whether we’re feeling false guilt over a man-made principle that goes beyond the Bible. But the more we read His Word and walk with Him, the more familiar we’ll be with what pleases and displeases Him.

 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 13:20-21).

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Global Blogging, Senior Salon, Hearth and Soul,
Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story, InstaEncouragement, Anchored Abode,
Recharge Wednesday, Worth Beyond Rubies, Share a Link Wednesday,
Let’s Have Coffee, Heart Encouragement, Faith on Fire,
Grace and Truth,
Blogger Voices Network)

 

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading onlineHere are some great reads collected in the last couple of weeks.

Women Wielding the Word.Such a good post by Sue on maintaining a habit of meeting with God in His Word. “I figure if I can’t give God five minutes anytime on any given day, I’m not taking Him and our relationship seriously.” ” We don’t worship the habit – that’s a rope on our necks instead of an anchor to our souls. God’s not interested in my checking off boxes in His name. I don’t worship the habit, but habits help me worship.

More and More, HT to Challies. I think many of us can identify with Glenna’s discouragement at not being more Christlike. “I’m beginning to think that when we’re most discouraged by our sin, God is working something good. The more we see it, the more He helps us to fight it.”

One Way to Build Your Trust Muscles, HT to Maree. “But if you’re looking for ways to strengthen your trust muscles for the days ahead, now might be a good time for you to start gathering up some stones from your past too.”

The Two Paths Out of Trials, HT to Challies.

The Right Response to the Old Testament Law. “Some struggle to understand how these laws reflect divine love and noble character. But this should not be surprising since we live at such a vast distance from that culture. If we want to see how the laws are just and fair and good, we need to study not only the laws, but also the context in which they were given”

Thankful for God’s Good Gift of Government. Our church has read through Ezekiel and Daniel in the past months, and one truth that comes through those books loud and clear is that God works behind, in, and through governments. That doesn’t mean they are always right. But he does call us to obey and honor them unless they contradict His commands.

5 common triggers for highly sensitive people, and 5 antidotes to help them survive social distancing by Anne Bogel, HT to Linda. This fits me to a “T” and was a good reminder. And a reassurance that I’m not the only one.

On Christians Spreading Corona Conspiracies: Gullibility is not a Spiritual Gift, HT to Linda. “God has not called us to be easily fooled. Gullibility is not a Christian virtue.” “Spreading unproven speculation is bearing false witness.”

How to Talk to Your Kids About the Tragedies of COVID-19, HT to the Story Warren.

The Worst Rebrand in the History of Orange Juice, HT to Challies. “Don’t let beautiful design distract from what’s important: Communicating the right information to your customer at the right time.” Yes! I hate when products undergo a major rebranding that’s artsy but doesn’t tell me what I need to know at first glance.

Of Stuck-ness and Sustaining Books. I loved this—partly because Pooh was a beloved character at our house, partly because of the scene Disney left out, and the comfort of “sustaining books” and kindness.

Mincaye Is Now With Jesus. Many of you are familiar with Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, and the other missionaries who were speared to death by the tribe they were trying to reach in Ecuador in 1956. Their story has been dear to me since I first read Through Gates of Splendor in college, and I have read much about the men and the families since that time. Mincaye was one of the killers of the men who later came to the Lord and became a grandfather figure to Steve Saint’s kids. Mincaye just passed away this week. Steve Saint’s tribute to him is here.

Finally, I loved this attempt at a professional video with a toddler “helping,” especially the end. The comments are fun, too. I am not sure if the video will show up in Feedly or emails: if not, you might need to click through to see it.

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

Here are a few of the good reads that caught my eye lately:

I Was a White Supremacist, HT to Challies. What struck me about this, besides the dramatic change wrought in the heart of the writer, was the fact that a group of women  prayed for that change for two years after hearing about him in the news. Would that we would do that more often.

Do We Play Any Role in Our Sanctification?, HT to Challies.  “The battle image is a very active image. Soldiers in battle are not passive observers. They’re not sitting there watching life go by. They’re as actively engaged as anybody could be in any activity. So, too, we are called to be actively engaged in sanctification. It is our great calling to pursue holiness, to aspire to that for which God has called us, and to strain every effort that we have.”

Reasons to Go to Bible Study. The schedule hasn’t always worked out for me to go, but when it has, it’s been so beneficial.

Younger Pastors and Senior Adults, HT to Challies. Excellent perspectives of older folks and ways to minister to them and involve them in ministry.

I wish . . .When we envy someone’s blessings, do we want the trials that led to the blessings as well? Probably not.

5+ Questions to Ask a Visiting Missionary at Dinner, HT to Challies.

The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards. I have no closing pictures or videos today, but there are plenty of good ones here!

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

I have another short but noteworthy list today:

Don’t Trust in Your Christianity, HT to Challies. “I’m afraid many find themselves in a similar predicament of pretense after growing up ‘Christian,’ developing ‘Christian’ habits, and embracing ‘Christian’ ideals—all without any real knowledge of the truly narrow road that leads to eternal life.”

Skillet’s John Cooper on Apostasy Among Young Christian Leaders. I don’t know this person, but I was fascinated by this article a friend linked to on Facebook. I think he’s right. “It is time for the church to rediscover the preeminence of the Word. And to value the teaching of the Word. We need to value truth over feeling. Truth over emotion. And what we are seeing now is the result of the church raising up influencers who did not supremely value truth who have led a generation who also do not believe in the supremacy of truth. And now those disavowed leaders are proudly still leading and influencing boldly AWAY from the truth.”

Most Growth Will be Slow Growth, HT to Challies. “We are just plain tired. Tired of daily self-denial. Tired of taking two steps forward and one step back. Tired of walking on a road that feels endless, toward a city we cannot see. Disillusioned and exhausted, many sit down on the path, not sure if they will get back up again. Why does the slowness of our sanctification come as a surprise to so many of us?” This is something I have wrestled with and very much needed to hear.

How Not to Fall Away, HT to Challies. “[Paul] mentioned Hymenaeus and Alexander who had blasphemed and ‘concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck’ (1 Tim. 1:19-20). What a terrible image. But Paul wasn’t exaggerating. He had been shipwrecked (2 Cor. 11:25). He knew that apostasy was no less tragic than the sinking of a vessel on which people’s lives depended.”

Finally, this cracked me up at first, but then seemed poignant. A lot for a short video to convey! The comments on YouTube with different people’s interpretations was interesting, too.

Happy Saturday!