Laudable Linkage

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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:

Laudable Linkage

Any link I share with you is a worthy read, but there have been some especially excellent ones this week:

A Tale of Two Teachers. “We elevate youth and beauty. We want funny more than we want wise. . . We want empowerment more than we want humility.

If You Want Your Kids to Own Their Faith, Teach Them to Think Critically about Their Faith, HT to Challies. “I think this is one of the reasons why many Christian kids grow up and abandon ‘their’ beliefs. For many of them, those beliefs were never theirs in the first place. They were their parent’s beliefs that the kids were taught to memorize and regurgitate, beliefs the kids were never challenged to think through for themselves.”

Make Me a Cake, HT to Challies. “Sometimes during the long dark nights, I wake. And I remember Autism, that dark cloud that settled over our lives years ago. And I think about how this is forever, at least on this Earth. How this is the rest of my life. And I wonder, how can I do this for the rest of my life?”

The Ministry of Presence. “The local church doesn’t need people of outsized talents or rare abilities as much as it needs normal people with full-out commitment.”

5 Tips for Conversations in Our Tense Cultural Moment, HT to Challies. “In years gone by, it seems you could just disagree with someone and everyone was fine with that. You could just shake hands and move on. But now, in our tense cultural situation, disagreement is regarded as a personal attack. To disagree with someone is to be hateful and unloving toward them.”

Confidence to Face the Challenge. “He doesn’t look to boost Solomon’s self-esteem, but to encourage his confidence in the God who has called him.”

Why I Find Decorating Important to the Soul, HT to Kim. “There was a time when I almost stopped doing any kind of seasonal decorating. Why bother when we no longer have children living at home and the days of spending hours preparing a meal for a crowd are long gone. Why decorate when it is just two of us and a cat most of the time?”

Finally, this showed up in my Facebook memories this morning: a text with my husband a few years ago that brought a smile.

It makes me wish there was a breakfast biscuit called Bacon Nation. 🙂

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

I’ve been debating with myself about whether to post these now or wait. It’s later in the day than I usually post, because we had an outing earlier today. But this is a nice-sized list: if I wait til next Saturday, it might be twice as long. So I think I’ll go ahead and share them. Hopefully you’ll find something that interests you among them.

Are You Pointing Your Suffering Friend to Earthly Things. “The ‘at least’ and ‘look on the bright side’ statements that jump from our mouths originate from a desire to fix a hard circumstance, but in saying them, we run from the reality that we simply can’t. We can’t take our fellow Christians’ suffering away. Unfortunately, in our efforts to help take their minds off their pain, we often point them to the wrong place.”

When Missionaries Return Broken, HT to Kim.

The Quiet Miracle of Roots and Leaves. Lots of good stuff in this one. “It turns out that a believing teen’s struggle with apathy and hypocrisy requires the same grace from the same Savior who longs to deliver less-catechized teens from drug addiction and immorality.” True for us adults, too.

The Opposite of a Bucket List. “Even if I did come up with the perfect list–challenging enough to be exciting, but not so challenging as to be impossible–and I managed to actually accomplish every item on it, what then of the end game? What would be left to life once everything on the list had been checked off?” I like her alternative much better.

Should Introverts Be Expected to Act Like Extroverts? HT to Challies. I’ve read many articles about introverts, usually by introverts. This one, written by an  extrovert, was refreshing.

These 5 Classic Books Are Getting Remade Into Movies, HT to Karen Swallow Prior. Some look promising. I hope they do them justice.

I came across this quote by Spurgeon on a friend’s Facebook page, reposted from the C. H. Spurgeon Quotes page. Thought it went well with my Monday post about church.

Have a great rest of the weekend!

What you miss when you turn your back on church

It happened again last week: I came across someone’s comment that they no longer attended church. This was not from an unbeliever or someone who had never been a churchgoer. This was from a professing Christian who had attended church regularly for years and then decided to forsake the practice. This commenter did not say why she no longer attended, but there seemed to be just a bit of vitriol in her response. Perhaps someone had offended her or something happened that she didn’t care for. People seem to be leaving the church in droves for such reasons.

I’m always grieved when I see this kind of thing. It’s necessary at times to leave a particular church, but you miss a lot if you give up church all together, such as:

1. God’s gifts to the church.And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Ephesians 4:11-13a, ESV). Yes, you can gain from hearing a good radio or Internet sermon. But that’s not the same as being personally pastored or shepherded by the man God has raised up to lead your congregation. Hebrews 13:7-17 gives more instruction about our reaction to church leaders: remembering, imitating, obeying.

2. Getting equipped. The purpose God gave those gifts mentioned in the first point was “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”

3. Being fed. I Peter 3:1-4 instructs church leaders to “feed the flock.” Yes, we should feed ourselves in the Word during the week, but we shouldn’t neglect the “family dinner” available to us every week at church.

4. Being a part of what God is doing through the church. “So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10). That’s an amazing thought, that God teaches things about Himself to “rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” through His interactions with the church.

5. Your place in the body. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul goes to great lengths to explain that the church is like a body. We’re not all eyes, else how would we hear or smell (verse 17 and following)? We each have different gifts and functions, designed to work together and minister to each other. When we remove ourselves from the body, we leave an empty place and we miss the function of the others.

6. The care of a church family. “God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” Most church members could tell you stories about being ministered to and cared for my other members.

7. A place to use your gifts and be ministered to by others. This overlaps with #5 a bit. But the Bible lists several types of spiritual gifts that God distributes to His children, among them, teaching, administration, giving, mercy, helps, and others. We’re to use them to minister to each other. Sure, they’re not restricted to the four walls of the church: we use them at work, with neighbors, online, etc. But church is the primary outlet. You miss being ministered to by others and and you miss the people you’re to minister to. As our church read through the book of Acts over several weeks, I noted several times people strengthened people (14:22; 15:32, 41; 16:5; 18:23). And I thought, “Wait a minute: isn’t it Go who strengthens us?” Yes. But He often uses people to strengthen, to encourage (often paired with strengthen in Acts), to comfort.

8. Biblical one anothers. Again, these can be done outside the church, but the context of most of them is within the church.

Wash one another’s feet—John 13:14.
Love one another—John 13:3; 15:12, 17; Romans 13:8; I Peter 1:22; I John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11.
In honor preferring one another—Romans 12:10.
Don’t judge one another—Romans 14:13.
Receive one another—Romans 15:7.
Salute one another—Romans 16:16.*
Greet one another—I Cor. 16:20, II Cor. 13:12, I Peter 5:14.
Serve one another—Gal. 5:13.
Don’t provoke one another or envy one another—Gal. 5:26.
Bear one another’s burdens—Gal. 6:2.
Forbear one another in love—Eph. 4:2, Col. 3:13.
Forgive one another—Eph. 4:32, Col. 3:13.
Teach and admonish one another with song—Col. 3:16.
Comfort one another—I Thess. 4:18.
Edify one another—I Thess. 5:11.
Exhort one another— Heb. 3:13; 10:25.
Consider one another to provoke unto love and good works—Heb. 10:24.

9. Biblical conflict resolution. In Matthew 18, Jesus gave instructions about how to handle when other people sin against you. If you just leave the church without settling these manners, you do a disservice to yourself and the other person. Some people go from church to church to church with a trail of unresolved conflicts in their wake, until they finally stop going all together.

10. Exercise in forbearance. No church is going to be perfect. How could it be, when each is made up of sinners who are not yet perfect? We all still struggle with our flesh and will til we get to heaven. Sometimes our fleshly natures irritate each other. Sometimes we need to confront each other, as in #9. But sometimes we need to depend on God’s grace to forbear each other. If we leave due to others’ irritating us, we miss out on this (difficult) grace. “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3, KJV). “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful” (Colossians 3:12-15, KJV).

11. Accountability. Jesus gave an illustration about the danger of judging by showing how ludicrous it was to try to help someone get a speck out of their eye if you’ve got a 2×4 in yours. Most people get the idea that we usually have bigger issues than the person we’re judging, and we need to take care of our own faults. But we overlook verse 5: “First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” We’re supposed to help each other with the things that cloud our vision.

12. Obedience. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25). I know some use these verses like a club, and they shouldn’t. But they are in the Bible.

Sure, there are times one can’t attend church: illness, exhaustion, travel, grief, etc. Some people can’t attend church due to long-term physical issues. We should still be the church to them and minister to them.

And, yes, some Biblical teaching about the church refers to what we call the church universal: everyone who has ever been and will be a believer. But most of the New Testament epistles were written to small local assemblies where these things were to be practiced.

And yes, attending church is not a guarantee that everything will go well with your life. But there are people there who can help when things do go wrong.

And going to church is not a substitute for a personal relationship with Christ. If we go to church all our lives and miss that, we’re in trouble. Not all churches teach the gospel or the Bible. It’s important to go to one that does. We don’t become righteous by attending church every time the doors are open: we need to repent of our sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior. But a church made up of people who have done that can help each other along the way.

A few days ago I read in Seasons of the Heart:

How unhappy it is, my dear friend, that the little family of Christ should be so torn with internal animosities and feuds at a time when the state of the world seems to render it peculiarly necessary that all its members should be bound together in the unity of the Spirit an the bonds of peace. At no period in the history of the church can we discover so many and such powerful efforts of the prince of this world and his adherents to destroy its purity and its very existence as at the present time. (June 21 entry, Susan Huntington)

And that was in the early 1800s! Susan concludes:

But thanks be to God–He is showing us, by the effusions of His Spirit on various places, that He still remembers His church and will not suffer the gates of hell to prevail against it. And blessed be His name for the assurance that none shall be able to pluck His children out of the Savior’s hands or prevent His giving unto them eternal life! My friend, let us pray for each other. And may He, who is the believer’s hope, finally present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy!

The church has always been full of problems. Most of the NT epistles were written to correct some of those problems. We’ll always have differences with each other, some due to personality, culture, stages of growth and maturity. Perhaps some differences exist to encourage us to thoughtfulness, understanding, seeing things from another’s viewpoint, grace. But some are due to blind spots. We can help each other with those blind spots if we’re open and humble (Matthew 7:1-5).

I’ve never read Phil Yancey, but I saw this quote attributed to him and it affected me so much. I’m not sure where or when he said it: “I rejected the church for a time because I found so little grace there. I returned because I found grace nowhere else.” I’m also not very familiar with Jackie Hill Perry, (though I want to read her book) but she once Tweeted, “Do you know who God used to heal me of my church hurt? The church.”

The church means a great deal to Christ, so how can we dismiss or ignore it? “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27). If Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, and we love Him, can we forsake the church He loves so much?

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday,
Kingdom Bloggers, Tell His Story,
Purposeful Faith, Let’s Have Coffee,
Share a Link Wednesdays, Grace and Truth)

 

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Here are some good reads I’ve discovered recently:

The Oh So Human Dad’s Club. A look at some biblical fathers commemorated in the “Hall of Faith” despite serious flaws – encouragement that God can use any of us who are “only human.”

Six Reasons We Love Faithful Fathers, HT to True Woman.

A Guide to Same Page Summer. This introduces a summer Bible reading plan, but it has some great principles for Bible reading in general.

Distinguishing Marks of a Quarrelsome Person, HT to Challies. “Of course, there are honest disagreements and agree-to-disagree propositions, but that’s not what the Bible means by quarreling. Quarrels, at least in Proverbs, are unnecessary arguments, the kind that honorable men stay away from (Prov. 17:14; 20:3). And elders too (1 Tim. 3). These fights aren’t the product of a loving rebuke or a principled conviction. These quarrels arise because people are quarrelsome.”

Why We Go to Church on Vacation.

When Old They’ll Still Bear Fruit, HT to Challies.

Losing a Foster Child. Some people don’t want to foster because of how painful it would be to let a child go after caring for it. But some children need just that kind of love and care during an unsettling time in their lives. This has some good help for the pain of giving back a foster child.

The True Woman blog, an arm of the Revive Our Hearts ministry, is holding a summer book club reading through Elisabeth Elliot’s just-published book, Suffering Is Never For Nothing. This book comes from a series of messages Elisabeth shared at a conference and is different from her earlier book, A Path Through Suffering (though I would guess they probably overlap). The book club starts this Tuesday, June 18, and continues for 6 weeks.

Someone set up a “bird photo booth” and caught some great close-up photos of birds.

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

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

Worship Is Not a Reflection of How You Feel. HT to Christopher Yuan. “Worship is not a depiction of our feelings, but a declaration of our faith.”

Bad News Comes, But Good News Wins. “Every time I open my Bible, every time I recall a promise from these pages, good news wins. So let the bad news come—it will soon be buried with my bones anyway (whether in one year or fifty). But good news gains momentum.”

What I Pack in My Spiritual First Aid Kit.

A Tree Between Two Mountains, HT to Challies. “We must not fall into the trap of only seeing God on the mountain tops of life; falsely believing that if we soak enough of Him in in those moments it will sustain us until the next peak. God is in the valley also. God is in the dry and barren places. God meets us in the shadow of the Broom tree. There, as he does in all places, God sustains us with what is needed for the journey ahead.”

On Being the Church for the Weak, HT to Out of the Ordinary. “We have met some incredibly empathetic, high-capacity people, dedicated to serving the weakest. We have also been in organizations that are tone deaf to voices of lament, where the strong are honored and the weak are told to trust God.”

Most Abortion-minded Woman Aren’t Calculating Killers. They’re Afraid. HT to Challies. Compassion and consideration for the woman considering an abortion is too often forgotten in our rightful rhetoric against it. I’m so thankful for our local crisis pregnancy center, which goes beyond just trying to avoid abortions and seeks ways to counsel and support women who do choose to keep their pregnancies.

Don’t Forget the Good Book. “These stories that we love, about rabbits with swords and lizard-slaying siblings and worlds that a lion sings into existence, they are the sign-posts. They have a glorious purpose. But God forbid we get so absorbed with studying them alone that we never arrive at the destination toward which they point.”

Were the First Christians Socialists? HT to Challies.

The View from ‘Doralzuela’, HT to Challies. “When will those who hear socialism’s siren song ever learn? Maybe listening to Venezuelans recently arrived in Doral will help.”

How to Call Christians Out on Twitter, or reasons you might want to at least think about it first. HT to Challies.

To Be Found, HT to Challies. “‘I know you don’t know where you are, Grandma, but Jesus knows where you are – He’s found you; you’re found in Him.’ ‘Yes,’ she said. Her anxiousness was still there, but there was assurance mixed with it now.”

This video is a bit longer than I usually post here, but I found it fascinating. I was going to watch only a minute or so, but before I knew it, the video was nearly over. This is about a man who makes all kinds of paper props for TV and films, HT to Steve Laube. I didn’t realize just how many paper props there were until now!

Happy Saturday!

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It’s been a little while since I have shared good finds on the Web. Here’s my most recent batch. Maybe you’ll find some of these good reading as well.

Partially Hydrogenated Bible Study. “Much like junk food manufacturers, Christian writers have been known to appeal to our senses to garner popularity. But the stakes for dining on spiritual junk food are high.”

Falling in Love With God’s Word, HT to True Woman.

The Gift of a Friend’s Rebuke. “Because I had not willfully sinned against her in my heart, my conscience had not been awakened to shine the light on my oversight. But still, I had hurt my friend. So much so that she no longer looked forward to hanging out with me, which was how she knew she needed to address it. Because she valued our friendship and cared about me, she spoke up, even though it was highly uncomfortable for her.”

The Surprise Meaning of Judge Not Lest You Be Judged.

Are We Doing Church Wrong?

Avoiding Difficult People, HT to True Woman. Though “there are clear circumstances that call for avoidance, distance, or even permanent severance from a relationship,” the “cultural philosophy of avoiding difficult people has an underlying worldview that should alarm any Christian.”

How Does She Do It? The Making of an Atypical Woman. HT to True Woman. “Isn’t that the beauty of God’s work in our lives? He takes us — the un-super, regular, sometimes scraping-by women — and he works on us.”

Kitchen Table Discipleship, HT to Story Warren. “So often we think our greatest accomplishments will come from outside the four walls of our house, but the discipleship we do right at the ‘kitchen table’ has eternal impact as we raise little ones to love and follow Jesus.”

Our Culture of Contempt, HT to Challies. “People often say that our problem in America today is incivility or intolerance. This is incorrect. Motive attribution asymmetry leads to something far worse: contempt, which is a noxious brew of anger and disgust. And not just contempt for other people’s ideas, but also for other people.” “Contempt makes political compromise and progress impossible. It also makes us unhappy as people.” “What we need is not to disagree less, but to disagree better.”

Famous Christian Quotes . . . That Aren’t Real, HT to Challies.

Evangelicals Embracing (and Rejecting) Lent, HT to Challies. I really appreciate the balance here. “What is more important than the practices we take on is the heart attitude behind them. If there’s anything we should give up this time of year, it’s our sense of superiority either to those outside the church or those inside the church who do things differently than we do.”

A thought from Pinterest. I couldn’t find where it originally came from to credit the creator.

And don’t forget, it’s that time of year (seems way early to me!)

 

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Here are the reads I have found most compelling this week:

Have This Mind Among You, HT to Michele. “‘We don’t treat our marriage like it’s the place where we can be our worst selves. We don’t treat our home like it’s the place where we can ‘be real,’ as though every other relationship in our lives deserves the fruit of the Spirit, but at home we can drop the facade and level all the pent up frustration of the day at one another.’ I said, ‘Nate should get my best self, the best of the Spirit’s fruit in my life and heart, not the worst self.'”

When Being “Relatable” Does Damage, HT to True Woman. “At its best, relatability is a transparent humility that aims to serve others by providing a starting point for relationship. At its worst, it’s a longing for others to relate to our sin in a way that minimizes it.”

Don’t Put Your Hope in Date Night, HT to True Woman. “When we falsely believe a date night out is the only way to grow in marriage, enjoy one another, foster intimacy, and maintain a healthy commitment, we’re bound to continually feel defeated and disappointed. God is gracious to provide many ways for couples to connect and grow deeper in their love for one another beyond a night out.”

You Don’t Want to Have a Megapastor.

5 Myths About Christian Publishing, HT to Challies.

Laudable Linkage

Here are a few good reads recently discovered:

Studying the Bible Is Not Supposed to Be Easy, HT to True Woman. “We need to go into it expecting, not that it will be easy – that the Holy Spirit is just going to dump truth on us just because we were faithful to sit down and flip open the covers – but rather, that if we obey just some simple reading tools that we would use with any book, that the Bible will begin to yield up treasure to us.”

Minimalism Is Not the Gospel, HT to Out of the Ordinary. “Christian finds freedom not in lifestyle changes or donations at the local charity shop but in Christ. He finds relief not in what he has done but in the One who has done everything for him; not in needing less but in acknowledging his complete dependence on his Savior; not in the arrival of the recycling truck but in the beauty of the cross.

Why an unwanted pregnancy is about the baby and the father, too. “We also need a generation of women who will encourage men to take responsibility and show the sacrificial love and empathy that ought to mark men, not push them out of the conversation about abortion.”

When a Cussing, Drug-addicted Mom Shows Up at Your Church, HT to True Woman. I don’t like that multiple links to the author’s book makes this seem like a big commercial, but if you can look past that, this is a beautiful story of how God used a nursery worker to redeem a situation and draw this mom toward God’s grace instead of banishing her in shame from it.

Joining a Mob, HT to Challies. “We can’t let our emotion run away with our discernment. Hot takes should be anathema to people charged to be slow to anger and slow to speak.”

What Is the Role of the Christian Writer? “The Christian writer is not to write just to make others think. That is not enough. Making people think is easy—just challenge their ideas or shock them with controversy. That’s just noise, and Lord knows we don’t need more noise. No, the Christian writer is to fetch treasure to share with readers.”

The Dangers of Self-care, HT to True Woman. A little relaxation, taking a break, even hobbies are fine, but “When we sate ourselves on the things of this world—pleasures and comforts of whatever kind—we become spiritually sluggish. Our prayer life, our Scripture reading, and all the delights of belonging to God seem distant and dull when we prioritize our time and activities around gratifying our appetites.”

Cultivating Self-Control, HT to Challies.

The Demise of Book Collecting? No, not for avid book lovers. Good thoughts on the difference between collecting and hoarding.

And, finally:

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Just a few good reads to share today:

Read Your Bible to Fight Unbelief, HT to Challies. “We stop reading it when, in our unbelief, we start living as if we were autonomous and knew well how to do this thing called life without any direction from the Holy Spirit.”

Why Paul’s Messy Churches Give Us Hope.

Walking Saints Home, HT to Challies, on “the calling to walk with men and women to the end of their earthly lives.”

Why You Shouldn’t Stop Blogging (or Why You Should Consider Starting)

And, finally, this was floating around Facebook a while back. It always cracks me up:

Happy Saturday!