Laudable Linkage

Hope you’re having a fine weekend! Here are some thought-provoking reads discovered this week.

What We Need More Than the Mountaintop Experience with God. “The apostle Peter heard a voice from heaven during his mountaintop experience. And he concluded that the spiritual formation of Christ-followers relies not on repeating such an experience but on something even more certain.”

Can Cancer Be God’s Servant? What I Saw in My Wife’s Last Four Years by Randy Alcorn, HT to Challies. “By saying sickness comes only from Satan and the fall, not from God, we disconnect Him from our suffering and His deeper purposes. God is sovereign. He never permits or uses evil arbitrarily; everything He does flows from His wisdom and ultimately serves both His holiness and love.”

The Crushing Obligation to Keep Doing More and More, HT to Challies. This is so good. “I think most Christians hear these urgent calls to do more (or feel them internally already) and learn to live with a low-level guilt that comes from not doing enough. We know we can always pray more and give more and evangelize more, so we get used to living in a state of mild disappointment with ourselves. That’s not how the apostle Paul lived.”

When Praying Hurts: How to Go to God in Suffering, HT to Challies. “My desire to pray when I’m suffering can swing wildly in a single day — and sometimes within the hour. Through the severe trials in my life — losing a child, having a debilitating disease, losing my marriage — prayer has been both arduous and exhilarating. Exhausting work and energizing delight.”

Rethink Female Bravery, HT to Challies. “Why is physical dominance our measure for brave women? Why is heroism reserved for the person in charge—or the person with the weapon? Why aren’t there more stories that honor daring in the ordinary?”

An Anchor For Our Tongues, HT to Challies. “Preachers and authors do it all the time. They quote the English definition of a word or refer to its linguistic roots as a way to ground their argument, to establish the meaning of a term or concept. Then they move on, seemingly convinced that they have offered up enough evidence for their audience to trust that they are indeed communicating the true sense of that term. What is not often realized is that, for the Christian, this kind of appeal to the dictionary or history is actually an inadequate grounding.”

In Praise of Stuff, HT to Samuel James, resonates with me. It doesn’t advocate for materialism, but argues that “Experiences matter more than things” is not always right. “There are people whose long-finished lives are only dimly known to me, but whom I meet and cherish every year in the physical memorabilia they handed down: great grandmother’s silver, pottery made by my grandfather’s sister. Even ridiculous kitsch can gain a new dignity this way. Each Thanksgiving I greet a grinning plastic monkey that was my great Aunt Gertrude’s. I would miss him greatly if he were ever gone.”

Six Questions You Should Ask at the Beginning of 2023, HT to Challies. I don’t think we’re too far into the new year to consider these. “What I started doing a couple of years ago was to abandon the idea of New Year’s resolutions and instead start thinking about what I wanted to focus on for the next year in early December. Then I started implementing changes that would make progress on my goals before the new year begins. What this allowed me to do was to get out of the habit of thinking the new year would magically change me into a new person.”

Start the Year Small: Wisdom for Setting New Goals, HT to Challies. “Our flesh keeps us on the couch, waiting for opportunities that appear to promise instant and immense impact. Those who constantly dream of the big victory often overlook the small decisions required to get there.”

The Pro-Life Cause Nobody Marches For. “Ultimately, I had to reckon with what it meant to believe that all people have inherent, God-given worth when everything we give value to is stripped away. It has been a long and painful process, and a sanctifying one—the kind that teaches you to view others who are struggling to understand the size and significance of human dignity through the eyes of tender compassion.”