Laudable Linkage

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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!

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Nice, but still a rebel

You can hardly read Facebook, especially during election season or any kind of controversy, or just about any comments on anything online, without wishing people would be nicer to each other. We’re all so prone to forget the admonition to treat others with the same respect and grace with which we would want to be treated, especially when we deem them wrong in some way..

But is it possible to be thoroughly nice and still not right with God? Some years ago while reading Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, I came across a passage where he discusses that. It’s from the chapter “Beyond Personality” in a section concerning the truth that you can sometimes have an unsaved person who is actually nicer than some Christians. Lewis goes into many reasons for that which I won’t reproduce here, but one reason has to do with general disposition. Person A may be a quieter, calmer person and generally nice and personable, yet unsaved. Person B may have a more excitable personality and a fiery temper which the Lord has been giving him grace to overcome, and he may be a lot better than he was, yet compared with Person A he doesn’t seem as nice. Lewis then goes on to say (emphasis mine):

If you have sound nerves and intelligence and health and popularity and a good upbringing, you are likely to be quite satisfied with your character as it is. “Why drag God into it?” you may ask. A certain level of good conduct comes fairly easily to you. You are not one of those wretched creatures who are always being tripped up by sex, or dipsomania, or nervousness, or bad temper. Everyone says you are a nice chap and (between ourselves) you agree with them. You are quite likely to believe that all this niceness is your own doing: and you may easily not feel the need for any better kind of goodness. Often people who have all these natural kinds of goodness cannot be brought to recognize their need for Christ at all until, one day, the natural goodness lets them down and their self-satisfaction is shattered….

If you are a nice person — if virtue comes easily to you — beware! Much is expected from those to whom much is given. If you mistake for your own merits what are really God’s gifts to you through nature, and if you are contented with simply being nice, you are still a rebel: and all those gifts will only make your fall more terrible, your corruption more complicated, your bad example more disastrous. The Devil was an archangel once; his natural gifts were as far above yours as yours are above those of a chimpanzee.

….We must not suppose that even if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world — and might even be more difficult to save.

For mere improvement is no redemption, though redemption always improves people even here and now and will, in the end, improve them to a degree we cannot yet imagine. God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man

If what you want is an argument against Christianity (and I well remember how eagerly I looked for such arguments when I began to be afraid it was true) you can easily find some stupid and unsatisfactory Christian and say, “So there’s your boasted new man! Give me the old kind.” But if you once have begun to see that Christianity is on other grounds probable, you will know in your heart that this is only evading the issue. What can you ever really know of other people’s souls — of their temptations, their opportunities, their struggles? One soul in the whole creation you do know: and it is the only one whose fate is placed in your hands. If there is a God, you are, in a sense, alone with Him. You cannot put Him off with speculations about your next door neighbors or memories of what you have read in books. What will all that chatter and hearsay count (will you even be able to remember it?) when the anesthetic fog which we call “nature” or “the real world” fades away and the Presence in which you have always stood becomes palpable, immediate, and unavoidable?

Jim Berg quotes Lewis in Changed Into His Image and then goes on to say:

Surprising as it may seem, there are many of us who really try to be good, not because we are allowing God to work in our lives to produce His fruit, but because it seems that life has fewer snags when we stay out of trouble. We often achieve the accolades and image we want. We can become smug around others who aren’t doing right and can become easily embittered during the times when we are being good and don’t get what we want.

We sometimes think we are pretty good people who “mess up” once in a while. The biblical picture is just the opposite: we are pretty bad people who do right only by the grace of God.

The true strength of my sinful heart…was not fully known to me until I resisted it.

“Being good” can be just our own way of making life work without God.

One of my friends had a hard time coming to the Lord for that very reason — she felt she was every bit as good as the people witnessing to her and therefore didn’t “need” to be saved. Thankfully the light finally broke through.

 The Bible tells us that “we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6, KJV). Next to God’s blazing holiness, our righteousness is like filthy rags.

But how can that be, you might ask. You’re not promiscuous or hateful, you return the money when the cashier gives you too much back, you give to good causes, you drive the speed limit.

Think of it this way. Jesus said the greatest command is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. So it follows that the greatest sin is breaking this commandment…and we all fail in that way several times a day. Plus the Bible tells our our heart is deceitful, so there are likely ways we sin that we don’t realize.

This is a paltry comparison, but imagine you have a favorite white shirt that still looks pretty good to you. But one day in the store you find another white shirt and decide to get it, and, when you bring it home and hang it up next to your old one, you’re horrified to see that your old one, which looked perfectly fine to you the day before, now looks grey and worn next to the bright new one.

The only righteousness that meets all the qualifications for heaven are His.

For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Romans 10:2-4, ESV).

And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith (Philippians 3:9, ESV).

Christ took our unrighteousness on Himself on the cross, and when we repent of our own way and believe on Him, He credits His righteousness to our account. As Chris Anderson’s hymn, “His Robes For Mine,” says:

His robes for mine: O wonderful exchange!
Clothed in my sin, Christ suffered ‘neath God’s rage.
Draped in His righteousness, I’m justified.
In Christ I live, for in my place He died.

So, I am all for being nice and wish the world contained more niceness. But before God, being nice is not enough. Instead of trying to make our own righteousness come up to Him, an impossible task, we need the righteousness that comes from Him. If, like me, you’ve made that exchange, rejoice with me in His grace. If not, I invite you to come to Him today.

(Revised from the archives. Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Glimpses, Soul Survival, Tell His Story, Woman to Woman Word-filled Wednesday, Wise Woman)

Laudable Linkage

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It’s later in the day than I usually post these, but here are a few good reads discovered in the last week:

Today, More Than Ever, Read Beyond the Headlines. Yes! And the Twitter feeds.

Hard Evidence for a Supernatural Book.

Those Spiritual Gift Tests? Maybe You Ought to Ignore Them.

Please Stop Saying “Christianity Isn’t a Religion, It’s a Relationship” HT to Challies.

10 Suggestions for new Bible College Students, HT to Challies.

White Christian conservatives should oppose protests by white supremacists.

On Waiting and the Lord of the Rings.

Redeeming Princess Culture, HT to Story Warren.

And something from Pinterest that resonated with me:

The Rock higher than I

Laudable Linkage

IMG_0195Here are some noteworthy reads discovered in the last couple of weeks:

Can I Sing “Amazing Grace” If I Was Saved at Six? We tend to forget that if loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength is the greatest commandment, then failing in that is the greatest sin, and we have all done that every day!

Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of My Diving Accident.

Bible study resources.

Lies the Modesty Culture Teaches Men. We were just having a family discussion about this recently.

When Your Kids Won’t Bow Down to Your Idols.

I would never forget my child in a hot car…until she did. Good advice to teach little ones (who are old enough to understand) safety tips for such a situation.

And I found this funny on Pinterest – both moms and kids of any age can identify with this. 🙂

Happy Saturday!

The Holy Spirit’s Activities

Some time ago I came across a post with a question something like, “Do you believe in the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit or do you believe He is inactive today?” I can’t remember exactly how it was worded, but I do remember it was presented as an either/or proposition: either you believe in what we call the “sign gifts” – speaking in tongues, miraculous healings, etc. – or you believe the Holy Spirit has been basically sitting on the sidelines since the first century.

But that’s an unfair proposition. The Bible presents a number of activities or ministries of the Holy Spirit.

He helps believers.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16-17a, ESV. KJV says “Comforter”).

“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” John 16:7.

He assures believers of their relationship with God.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:15-17.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 1 John 4:13.

He helps us in prayer.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27.

He helps us to hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.  Romans 15:13.

He pours God’s love into our hearts.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:5.

He teaches us.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14:26 (KJV says Comforter rather than Helper).

He guides us.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. John 16:13.

He glorifies Christ.

He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. John 16:14.

He convicts.

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. John 16:7-11.

He is involved in our salvation.

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” John 3:5-6.

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:3-5.

You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:2-3.

He baptizes us into the body of Christ.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13.

He gifts us for service.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.

He dwells within us.

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”  Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:37-39.

And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22.

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.

He seals us.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30.

He fills us.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18.

He produces fruit in us.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23.

And this isn’t even an exhaustive study! Some of these things take place once at salvation, some are continuing ministries until we get to heaven (I probably should have separated them into those categories, but this has already gotten much more involved than I planned. Perhaps I’ll come back and do that another time. I’ve come across several things I need to study more just in this brief study.)

My purpose here is not to go into which ministries or gifts of the Holy Spirit are still active today. The great majority of these are still active. The ones that are disputed (tongues, interpretations, healings, miracles. God does still heal and work miracles; the question is whether He uses healers or miracle-workers to do so) have been better handled by others elsewhere, and there is not time and space to deal with them right now anyway. I personally know dear people who love God with all their hearts on both sides of the issue.

My point, rather, is to call attention to all the other things the Holy Spirit does. He is quite active in our day. Why do we get so fixated on those few gifts? Are we just as happy to have the Holy Spirit guide us, teach us, work in us love and gentleness and self-control, glorify Christ in and through us? Or do we prefer the “flashier,” seemingly more exciting and unusual gifts?

Whatever you believe about the “sign gifts” of the Holy Spirit, don’t neglect to study and appreciate all of these other things He does in God’s children.

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Wise Woman, Woman to Woman Word-filled Wednesday, Faith on Fire)

What are you seeking?

That question was prompted by yesterday’s Daily Light reading. After my initial response of “Well…um…,” I concluded that I am seeking to know the Lord better each day, to love and serve my family, to attend to the various tasks and ministries that are under my care.

The word “seek” implies activity to me, even urgency. If someone leans back in his chair with feet on the desk and hands clasped behind his head saying, “I sure hope I find…” whatever, he doesn’t seem all that concerned at the moment.

One Greek word in Hebrews for “seek” means “to seek out, search for, investigate, scrutinise, to seek out for one’s self, beg, crave, require.” Another means “to seek [in order to find out] by thinking, meditating, reasoning, to enquire into; to seek after, seek for, aim at, strive after.”

Different passages started coming to mind about seeking, so I looked some up this morning:

But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. Deuteronomy 4:29

 Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord. Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually. 1 Chronicles 16:10-11

And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever. 1 Chronicles 28:9

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 1 Chronicles 7:14

One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple. Psalm 27:4

Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. Psalm 34:14

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Psalm 63:1-2

Seek the Lord, and his strength: seek his face evermore. Psalm 105:4

Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart...And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts. Psalm 119:2, 45

Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:3-5.

He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends. Proverbs 17:9

 Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read. Isaiah 34:16a

 Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Isaiah 55:6-7

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33

 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

Charity [Love] suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3:1-2

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrew 11:6

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a countryFor here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. Hebrews 11:13-14;13:14

This is not an exhaustive study, but this topic is worthy of one! There is much more about what we’re to seek, when and how, what we’re not to seek, and especially about God’s seeking us: I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick” (Ezekiel 34:16a).

I know just stringing together a list of verses may not be the best way to convey what the Scripture says on this topic. But I hope it’s a catalyst for you to seek more about what God wants us to seek.

And God promises that “they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. Psalm 9:10.

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Faith on Fire, Wise Woman)

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Laudable Linkage

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Once again, here are some of the reads I found thought-provoking this week:

How to Read the Bible For Yourself.

Walking in the Spirit. Probably the most helpful explanation I have seen of this. I had long ago noticed the similarities between being filled with the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18-33 and letting the Word of Christ dwell in us richly in Colossians 3, and wondered how that worked together. This is the first time I have seen it explained.

How Can I Forgive Myself, HT to Challies. “You do not need to supplement divine forgiveness with any self-forgiveness. Your forgiveness in Christ is complete. Receive it. Remember it. And rejoice in it. If your testimony is, ‘God has forgiven me,’ that is enough!”

For the mom who doesn’t have time to read her Bible. Love this. “Bible time is not only an hour at the crack of dawn, or an intense evening devotion, or a dedicated small group meeting.”

Michelangelo’s David and the Gift of Limitations, HT to The Story Warren.

Do Visitors From Your Church Really Feel Welcome? HT to Challies.

No Time For Widows, HT to Challies. The best part: “Every widow is an individual person. No one likes being lumped into a group and having assumptions made about them based on demographics. The only way to truly help a widow is to get to know her.”

Some questions I’m asking while off to my white evangelical church, HT to Challies.

An Open Letter to the Person Caring for a Loved One With Dementia, HT to True Woman. My own m-i-l was not one to “explode” in anger as is mentioned here, but I know some of you have dealt with that.

It’s Never a Good Time to Invite Kids In.

27 Things People Don’t Realize You’re Doing Because You’re a Highly Sensitive Person, HT to Lisa. I could easily identify with about half of these, and somewhat identify with more.

And a few words of wisdom from Pinterest:

Happy Saturday!

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