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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!

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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!

Laudable Linkage

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!

Laudable Linkage

Welcome to another gathering of great reads discovered this week:

Imperfections Make Sundays More Beautiful, HT to Challies. “I’ll admit it: these human quirks and errors sometimes exasperate me. I’m here to focus on the Lord! Your awkwardness is distracting me from worship! So mutters my self-righteous heart. Perhaps the real problem isn’t with the clumsiness of others, but with our expectations for corporate worship.”

The Bible: Reading the “Ordinary” Way, HT to Challies. Good thoughts about taking the Bible “literally,” how metaphor is used, etc.

Are You Different Enough? 5 Ways to Use Differences in Your Relationship.

The 17 Phrases That ‘Scare’ Introverts the Most, HT to Lisa. This was posted before Halloween, thus the “scary” faces.

Heartwarming Photos of Acts of Kindness, HT to Lisa.

Back to the Sources, HT to Linda, on cases of what were probably inadvertent plagiarisms by Christian authors (see the comments for how it could possibly have happened).

The 2018 Modern Mrs Darcy Gift Guide for Book Lovers, HT to Linda.

As we look ahead to Thanksgiving in the US this week:

There seems to be a theme running through most of the posts I’ve read concerning Thanksgiving so far this year: the fact that thankfulness isn’t an emotion, but an act of the will, and not always easy. Here are a few:

Gratitude Is a Gift for All Seasons. “To intentionally call to mind images of gratitude in the midst of peace and prosperity is one thing, but it takes a sinewy faith to summon them when chaos reigns and the future looks bleak.”

Being Grateful Ain’t Always Easy (Or Is It Just Me?)

Thankfulness From Those Who Suffer.

Time Out for Thanksgiving

For some Thanksgiving fun:

Free printable Thanksgiving trivia, for use as a game or conversation starter

Thanksgiving Bingo.

Thanksgiving Word Search Place Cards, HT to Laura.

And, finally, a couple of my favorite Thanksgiving quotes:

Happy Saturday!

 

Laudable Linkage

Welcome to my latest round-up of noteworthy reads around the web:

Please Do and Don’t Assume Motives. This would solve so much. It doesn’t mean being naive.

Are You Becoming More or Less of an Encourager? HT to Challies. “The church must be an oasis for the true Christian! You must be such a great encouragement that you become a breath of fresh air for those who speak to you. Of course, we should confront sin and push people towards holiness, but when people talk to us they should feel like we care about them and, more importantly, their soul. Sadly, as life goes on and as time goes on, we can tend to become crankier and less thankful for our salvation, but the writer of Hebrews calls us to be different.”

We Don’t Need to Go Back to the Early Church, HT to Challies. I’ve heard off and on throughout my Christian life that we need to “do church” like the early church of the first century. But if you read the NT epistles, those churches were rife with problems that the NT writers had to correct.

How Can You Show Radical Hospitality as an Introvert? by Rosaria Butterfield, HT to Challies. “We need the people who are quietly listening and praying as other people are talking, discerning about things.”

Home Libraries Confer Long-term Benefits. “Home libraries are strongly linked to children’s academic achievement.”

Is Turning Off Your Notifications the Ultimate Productivity Hack? HT to Challies. Excess notifications are one of my biggest pet peeves, and I turned off most of them long ago. Especially anything that makes noise. Interesting note here that it takes “on average, 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task at hand after a distraction.”

And, finally, someone shared this on Facebook. Pretty cute.

Happy Saturday!

Why should we sing?

I don’t go looking for posts about congregational singing, but a couple of blogs I follow comment on or link to blog posts on the topic fairly often.

The prevailing consensus is that congregational singing is declining. I have not noticed that myself, but apparently others have.

Naturally, people want to find the problem and fix it. A number of possible reasons for this decline have been proposed.

Some say that the congregation doesn’t sing as well since the advent of worship teams. Some blame this on the atmosphere seeming more like a concert than a church service. Others point blame at the number of instruments on stage, the loudness of the music, the singing of new songs that no one knows, the difficulty of some of those songs for a congregation to sing. Some have blamed the professionalism or the commitment to excellence of the musicians, because that makes us “average Joes” feel like we don’t measure up. Sadly, many churches are eliminating performed music (what we use to call “special music”) for these reasons. The most recent article I saw said the problem started way back even before the worship team advent, when churches had choirs that “drowned out” the congregation.

My own experience is limited, of course. We’ve only visited one church where I truly felt like the stage and musicians were set up for a concert rather than congregational singing. This church had a choir and a worship team, multicolored lighting, a stage covered with instruments. I don’t think any of that would have been insurmountable, though. The one main problem was that the songleader or worship leader never told us as a congregation when to join in or invited us to sing along. As we looked around to see whether others were singing, we noticed that some were and some were not. So we didn’t know quite what to do.

Most of my church experiences have involved one songleader on stage with a choir behind him, sometimes with musicians on stage or nearby, sometimes not. The choir helps keep the pace and provide the melody for those who might not know a song. I have never been in a church where the choir “drowned out” the congregational singing.

I have been in two churches where the songleader was an actual professional in the sense of having a PhD not just in music, but in voice. In both of those churches, the singing was robust. No one seemed to be intimidated by the professionalism of the leader and others in the choir and church. Ordinary, untrained people sang special music as well as the trained ones. So I don’t think professionalism in and of itself is a factor, or at least it shouldn’t be.

There is one factor, however, that overrides any problems with congregational singing: the fact that the Bible tells us we’re supposed to sing.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Psalm 100:1-2, ESV

Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart. Ephesians 5:18b-19, ESV

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16, ESV

We shouldn’t use these verses as clubs to beat people over the head with their responsibility, but we should encourage each other to obey God in this respect. Some have tried to encourage thinking about the songs we sing by almost preaching a small sermon between songs, sharing long Puritan readings, etc. There might be a time for that kind of thing, but usually I find that, rather than encouraging singing, it takes away from it. People get weary mentally and their minds wander (or even physically, if they’re made to stand through all of that).

I’ve long wanted to do a study of music in the Bible. I notice that in many of the psalms, singing is associated with thanksgiving. The passages above speak of singing as an outgrowth of being filled with the Spirit of God and the Word of God. Could it be that poor congregational singing is a symptom of a lack in these areas, rather than a problem in itself?

One of my soapbox issues is that our responsibility to do right before God should not depend on other people or circumstances. I can’t stand before God and blame other people for my sin. They are responsible for their influence, and they’ll have to answer for their failures and temptations. But God has promised each of His children that, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). That is true not just for avoiding sin and resisting temptation, but also for doing right. I should do the right thing whether the circumstances are conducive or not, whether anyone else is doing so or not.

Sure, it’s good to study what helps and hinders good congregational singing. But we as a congregation need to realize that whether the song is too old or too new, too high or too low, too fast or too slow, too soft or too loud, whether there is one musician or many, whether others sing better or worse or not at all, we need to sing as unto the Lord. He is worthy of our praise. Let’s overlook the petty hindrances to our comfort level and think about His greatness and goodness and all He has done for us. It will be hard to hold back from singing then!

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
And with my song I will praise Him.
Psalm 28:7, NKJV

The Lord is my strength and my song;
    he has become my salvation.
Glad songs of salvation
    are in the tents of the righteous.
Psalm 118:14-15a, ESV

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Tell His Story, Let’s Have Coffee, Porch Stories, Woman to Woman Word-filled Wednesday, Wise Woman, Faith on Fire)

Laudable Linkage

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I don’t usually do these every Saturday, but I accumulated a lot of good reads this week.

10 Reasons Americans Go to Church – and 9 Reasons They Don’t, HT to Lisa. “But this study suggests that there is an under-served group of believers who seem like they’d actually like to go to religious services — if only someone could help get them there and welcome them when they arrive.”

God’s No Is a Yes, HT to True Woman.

Ask Someone Older Than You, HT to Lisa. Advice on how to get help in making an important decision.

How to Ruin Your Life in Your Twenties, HT to True Woman.

You Are Not Your Temptations, HT to True Woman.

What Is Encouragement? HT to Challies. Yes, yes, yes! I wrote recently about well-meant encouragement that is too self-focused and “puffs up.” This post describes what encouragement actually is and does. If I had a rating system for blog posts, this would garner the ultimate number of stars.

What Do People Mean by “Coming Into the Presence of God?” HT to Challies. This is something I have contemplated, too. I’ve seen many people say that we should “invite” God into situations (or worse yet, ask Him to “show up“). But He is always with us. I suspect the mindset might be something like that of people in the same room but all on their phones or doing something else, then a call to meet together has everyone putting everything else aside to pay attention to the other people. But God is always paying attention, never distracted from us. So it’s not that we need to invite Him in – we need to lay aside our distractions and focus on Him.

Cringing at Church: What It’s Like as an Autistic Person in Your Congregation, HT to Challies.

Was the Early Church Communist? HT to Challies. No, but some think so. Here’s why not.

The Boy Who’d Never Tasted an Apple, HT to Story Warren. A parable for kids about sex.

And, finally, I couldn’t help laughing along with this:

Happy Saturday!