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!

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Laudable Linkage

I have just a short list today of good reads to share. Enjoy!

What Does It Mean to Abide in Christ? HT to Challies. Probably the best explanation of this I remember hearing.

Is Spoiling Your Grandkids Blessing Them?

How to Be a Helper Not a Meddler. HT to Linda. I especially like the side-by-side chart. Good for all relationships, not just marriage.

Receiving Well: Eleven Tips for Helping Expats Come Home, including missionaries. HT to my friend Lou Ann, a missionary in Spain. Hint: A big welcoming party at the airport might be great for some but misery for others.

A friend posted these on Facebook for when you need encouragement for adulting. 🙂 It was from a parenting thread based in Australia, so I don’t know if they have them here. I did just a bit of searching and found others, but not these.

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!

Laudable Linkage

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Here’s my latest list of good reads found online recently:

Should Christians Abandon Christmas? HT to Challies. “When churches ‘ignore’ Christmas, how much preaching and teaching are they likely to receive on the incarnation?” “The abuse of something shouldn’t be allowed to destroy its proper use.”

On the Death of John Allen Chau. Good points all, especially the first one: “We don’t need to rush to judgment.”

3 Internet Accusations Against Missionaries, HT to Challies.

Singleness Is Not a Problem to Be Solved, HT to True Woman.

Gospel Hope for a Weary Mom, HT to True Woman.

Pastors: Preach, Don’t Rant, HT to Challies. Good advice for writers and teachers, too.

The 50% Lie, HT to Challies. Turns out it has never been true that 50% of marriages end in divorce, by any way of measuring. “Imagine the difference to our collective consciousness about marriage and divorce if we began to say ‘Most marriages last a lifetime’ [8 out of 10] rather than ‘Half of marriages end in divorce.'”

Why J. I. Packer Reads Mystery Novels (Or, In Defense of Light Reading), HT to Challies. “Light reading is not for killing time (that’s ungodly), but for refitting the mind to tackle life’s heavy tasks (that’s the Protestant work ethic, and it’s true).”

And finally, a smile found on Pinterest:

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

Welcome to another gathering of great reads discovered this week:

Downstream. Love this analogy: “A river reaches places which its source never knows.”

If Kids Don’t Understand Why Miracles Don’t Discredit the Bible, Their Faith Will Be Easily Crushed, HT to Challies. “Miracle accounts simply don’t automatically discredit the Bible. Anyone who thinks they do hasn’t thought critically about the subject. Please help your kids understand this so they’re prepared the next time someone tries to make them feel like a fool by making simplistic appeals to ‘common sense.’”

Musical Choices–Objective Subjectivity. What music is appropriate for Christians has been the subject of multiple debates for years. But I think we can agree that music (not just words) which appeals to the flesh would fall on the wrong side for us. And we have to be honest about that appeal: as is shown here, if even secular musicians apply words like “raunchy” and “angry” to their music, how can we deny those elements are there?

Praying for Your Missionary’s Emotional and Mental Health. We pray for physical safety, but missionaries need help in other areas, too.

Josh Harris releases a statement on his book I Kissed Dating Good-bye. HT to Challies. I’m glad to see this. We gleaned some good principles from the book but formed our own philosophy which disagreed in parts with his.

The Literary Christmas Reading Challenge runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31.

If you like Christian Fiction and/or scavenger hunts, the annual Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt starts here, with an opportunity to win “25 books as well as Amazon gift cards, an iPad and more!” Plus most of the individual authors are hosting giveaways on their own sites as well.

And, finally, a couple of thoughts found on Pinterest:

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

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It’s been a little while since I’ve been able to share some interesting online reads with you. Here is my latest collection:

Behind on Bible Reading? Sometimes our Bible reading plans from January have fallen by the wayside by this time. This is some encouragement to pick back up where you left off: “The point of reading daily is to continuously stay in the Word so I might better know and worship the Lord, not to be legalistically bound to a calendar.”

5 Ways Porn Lies to You. Much of this is true for other sins as well.

God Is Much Greater Than Her Experience of Him.

It’s Not My Place to Judge.” What’s right and wrong with this sentiment.

Yes, You Can Please Your Heavenly Father.

God Will Open Doors For You to Serve.

Manoah’s Wife.

Blame Your Parents?

Parents, Take Time for the Tender Moments.

The Surprising Power of Little Things. HT to Challies.

No, “Saul the Persecutor” Did Not Become “Paul the Apostle.” I would have sworn this was wrong, until I read it.

When Should Christians Use Satire?

Solomon’s Twitter Guidelines.

No, Stay at Home Moms Do Not Waste Their Education, HT to Challies. I have felt this way but hadn’t put in into words quite like this. Very much agree that “Education is not just a synonym for job training” and “Education helps people do a better job at any task by helping them discover how to think, how to learn, and how to exercise the self-discipline necessary for achievement.”

A couple about missionaries:

5 Things Every Missionary Wants You to Know, HT to Kim.

Praying Biblically For Your Missionary: Clarity.

And a couple of funnies found on Pinterest:

Happy Saturday!

 

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Laudable Linkage

Time again for another roundup of links I found noteworthy over the last couple of weeks:

What to Do When God Says No, Not Right Now.

The Instagram Bible. “Beware the Instagram Bible, my daughters – those filtered frames festooned with feathered verses, adorned in all manner of loops and tails, bedecked with blossoms, saturated with sunsets, culled and curated just for you. Beware lest it become for you your source of daily bread. It is telling a partial truth.”

3 Quick Questions Before Quitting Your Church.

What the Old Testament Prophets Say to Us During This Election Season. This is helpful if you, like me, are discouraged with our choices this election and the state of our nation in general.

Parenting 001. I linked to this on a recent book review, but for those who may not have seen it there, I wanted to share it again.

Third Culture Adult Identity Crisis by my friend Lou Ann, a missionary for 32 years. Helpful not only for missionaries but for those who minister to them.

And finally, an entertaining ballet number, even if ballet is not your thing. I was thinking that it is probably harder to do it this way that the “right” way.

Happy Saturday!

Book Review: Ten Fingers For God

Ten Fingers For GodI first read Ten Fingers For God about Dr. Paul Brand by Dorothy Clarke Wilson some 25-30 years ago when we attended a church with a solid lending library of mostly biographies. After reading this book I read the same author’s book about Paul’s mother, Granny Brand, and I believe I also read her Take My Hands: The Remarkable Story of Dr. Mary Verghese, after seeing her story mentioned in this book. I reread Granny Brand a few years ago, and that caused me to want to reread Ten Fingers, so I found an inexpensive used copy online.

Originally my primary interest in Ten Fingers For God was stirred when I was told it mentioned Dr. John Dreisbach, who attended our church whenever he was in the country. But I was soon caught up in Paul’s story on it’s own merits.

He was the son of unconventional pioneer missionaries to India, Jesse and Evelyn Brand. He and his sister were allowed to roam pretty freely, his mother even letting him do his school work up in a tree and drop finished assignments down to her. “If [his work] was wrong, he had to climb down and get [it], reascend, and start over again” (p. 14). So it was a pretty strong shock to his system when, at the age of 9, I believe, he was taken to live with two maiden aunts in England for his schooling. Some of my favorite parts of the book are his and his sister’s antics there, like hanging upside down on the crosspiece of a streetlight in front of the aunt’s house, smiling at passers-by, or pretending the floor was lava and trying to make it around the room on the furniture without touching the floor. The aunties handled it as well as they could.

Paul’s father died when he was 15, and his mother returned to England for a time, devastated, but eventually she went back to India. It was understood that Paul would follow. Initially his main interest was in carpentry, so he apprenticed to a man his mother knew. When he applied to be a missionary, however, he was turned down. His father had had to build structures, which is one reason why Paul was interested in building, but it wasn’t accepted as a main missionary occupation. Medicine had originally been repulsive to him, with memories of his father treating gross and disgusting conditions. But once Paul decided to go that way and got into it, he marveled at the way God created the body and its systems and saw it as a wonderful way to help people.

He married and went to India and was thrust into more than full time medical ministry. Leprosy was still a mystery with a huge stigma attached. Sadly, most lepers were not actively contagious, but once the disease began they were ostracized. It was thought that their flesh wasted away, so much so that they couldn’t even be operated on, but Paul discovered that the cause for their ulcers and even lost digits was lack of pain sensation. He pioneered a surgery to transform their hands from their clawed version to workable, usable hands.

But that actually created more problems. People would not hire them because of the stigma of leprosy, but they couldn’t successfully beg any more because they no longer could garner the sympathy their clawed hands had elicited. Paul found employment for some at the hospital, but of course he could not do that for all of them. Eventually a training center was built where patients could not only learn a trade, but learn how to handle their tools in safe ways that wouldn’t damage hands that couldn’t feel, and in turn, as Paul and his crew became aware of problem areas, they could adapt tools or processes to the patients’ needs. Paul’s carpentry experience was valuable many times over in these endeavors.

Not many doctors were treating leprosy patients, so when possible, Paul traveled to other parts of the world to gain more insight (which led him to Dr. Dreisbach in Africa).

Eventually treatment expanded to include operations on feet, noses, and restoration of eyebrows. Paul’s wife, Margaret, became an expert in her own right on how leprosy affects the eyes.

I had forgotten that Paul worked in the ministry founded by Dr. Isa Scudder, someone else whose biography I enjoyed.

The last third or so of the book was not quite as interesting to me, as it got further away from Paul himself and more into how his procedures and methods gained worldwide attention, what organizations he became affiliated with, which organizations sent people or set up additional centers in Vellore, etc. There’s a nice epilogue in this edition which I don’t believe was in the one I first read, telling what happened in the lives of Paul, his wife, and each of his children.

He was so incredibly busy, I don’t know how he found time to even have a family. Yet he was known for being unflappable in just about any circumstance.

A lot of his insights into pain are in this book, but perhaps his best known book was originally titled Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants, which I’ve not read. It’s been republished and retitled The Gift of Pain with Philip Yancey, but I don’t know if the text has been altered or what Yancey’s contribution to the book was. They did collaborate on other books, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made and In His Image (I’ve not read these, either.)

Overall this was a fascinating look into a unique and remarkable man, perfectly fitted to what God called him to. I’m glad I read it again.

Genre: Biography
My rating: 10 out of 10
Objectionable elements: None
Recommendation: Yes, I highly recommend it.

(Sharing at Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)

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Book Review: Don’t Let the Goats Eat the Loquat Trees

LoquatI saw Don’t Let the Goats Eat the Loquat Trees: The Adventures of an American Surgeon in Nepal by Thomas Hale mentioned at Lou Ann‘s, put it on my TBR list, and just finished it recently.

Thomas open his story with the realization of his need for Christ, even though he would have said he was a Christian before that. After truly believing on Jesus for salvation, he spent much time in the Bible as it opened up to him. He “asked God what He would have me do. I was disturbed by Jesus’ statement to His disciples: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’ I didn’t seem to be able to tone down that passage. It meant to me that if I was going to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, I had to go all the way, to hold nothing back, to give my entire life to God. That was a tall order, as I’ve found every day since.”

God eventually led him to prepare to go to Nepal as a surgeon, and along the way, led him to his wife, Cynthia, who was training to become a a medical missionary as a pediatrician.

Just two months before heading to Asia, their mission informed them that they were being sent not to the large hospital in Kathmandu that they had been expecting, but rather to a “small fifteen-bed hospital located out in the hills, a day’s journey from Kathmandu…still under construction…” without “even a road to it.” The change in situation would mean a completely different atmosphere: rather than a large, well-equipped hospital with culture and entertaining nearby, they’d be going to a “tiny, ill-equipped rural outpost” and a “crude, mud-walled house, where our neighbors would be illiterate and unkempt hill people.” “Cynthia made her biggest adjustment to life in Nepal right then and there.”

We might have been tempted to think how lucky Nepal was that we had come. After all, there couldn’t have been many fully trained surgeons and pediatricians in that little kingdom of twelve million people. That attitude, however, would have been the worst we could have harbored. Indeed, we had been warned of the harmfulness of such an attitude, warned that even a trace of superiority would create a barrier that would repel the friendliness and goodwill of any Nepali we met. At the same time we found that rooting out our deep and often hidden feelings of superiority–feelings of importance, of being advantaged on background and education, of having so much to offer–was no easy task.

One problem this entailed before they even left was the supply of surgical equipment that would normally be supplied by a hospital, but of course would be impossible for the small hospital they were going to. Hale details the miraculous way God provided for a multitude of equipment.

It’s fascinating reading of their trials in just getting to their hospital and home, landing on an “airstrip” that was not much more than a field, the difficulty of getting carriers for all of their things (including a piano, which the natives were not impressed by), accidentally killing a cow, which was considered the same as killing a man “and drew the same penalty–eighteen years in prison–if the crowd didn’t get you first,” adjusting to insects (“if you think you can kill ants faster than they can be hatched…don’t count on it”), learning to love the people, dealing with mistrust of the “foreign doctors” at first to eventually have the opposite problem of being overrun with people and needs. He shares many case studies and lively stories along the way. He shares, as well, many things he learned about himself and about living for God:

It took a mild-mannered and uncritical animal to make me see in myself those negative attributes that I had always attributed to other American surgeons. Facing two hundred angry men proved to be effective therapy for removing most traces of condescension with which I previously might have regarded them. It also improved my relations with missionary colleagues and with Nepali brothers and sisters in the church. I guess God had no gentler way of removing some of my imperfections; I only wish I could say, for His trouble, that He finished the job. But it was a start.

Much time and energy can be wasted on matters that are, at best, trivial.

The key to successful ministry will lie in their ability to assimilate that culture and to free themselves from the attitudes and prejudices of their own. They have been warned about the inevitable feeling of superiority, paternalism, disdain, impatience, and frustration that they are sure to experience and to which they previously may have considered themselves immune. Finally they have been told that the course of their entire missionary career will ultimately depend on one thing: their day-by-day, step-by-step walk with God.

Many times a worker arrives in a foreign land only to discover he doesn’t love the people quite as much as he thought. They are different; their ways are different. And the new missionary quickly learns that survival depends on his ability to adjust to the new people among whom he plans to live; he adjusts to them, not vice versa.

To give unwisely demeans and creates dependence; to give wisely takes time, which is scarce, and wisdom, which is scarcer.

When medicine is given free, patients often sell it instead of taking it themselves; they’d rather have the cash.

We find it comfortable to sit back, fold our arms, and mutter to one another, “All they have to do is repent.” But is that what Christ did when He rose from where He was and, with unfolded arms, came into the world to minister to us? Taking Christ’s example, we need to minister to the world in every way we can. Each Christian, before God, must find out where his or her duty lies.

Love is the one quality the world can discern that sets Christians apart and makes Christianity distinct from every other religion. If we fail to act on this truth, we will lose our right to be heard and will enter the post-Christian era for good.

The only way we know to help our Nepali friends in a lasting way is to put them in touch with the God who is the source of love and who sent His son Jesus into the world to demonstrate it.

Those early disciples had only two fish and a few loaves, but they gave Him all they had. Is this not His word to us today—to give Him all our loaves and fishes, to give Him everything we have? Then, who can say what He would be able to accomplish in our time through us?

Some of the hardest parts to read are those where the hospital had to cut corners because of the overwhelming demand on their time and resources. I don’t know if I could have made some of the decisions they did, but then, I’ve never been in that situation. They did rescind some of them after a time.

Though I wouldn’t agree with just every little point in the book, overall I found it quite an interesting and eye-opening account and really enjoyed it.

(Sharing at Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)

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Laudable Linkage

It’s been a few weeks since I have had time to share, but here are some thought-provoking reads discovered recently:

How to Repent Without Really Repenting.

For the Woman Who Is Simply Weary of Serving.

10 Ways to Overcome Spiritual Weariness.

How to Move On When You’ve Been Betrayed.

Invent a Ministry. HT to Challies. Love this. One of my themes is that ministry isn’t always in an official church-sponsored activity. It’s being available for God to use you all throughout the day. Another is the “Someone should…” or “The church should…” mentality, forgetting we ARE the church. I’ve been thinking about a possible blog post along these lines.

Unavoidable Tantrums. Good thoughts here.

12 Things That Every First-Time Dad Should Know.

Have This Conversation Before You Send Your Baby Back to School. I wouldn’t say, “Don’t strive to do your best,” but otherwise very sound advice.

The Dramatic, Adrenaline Soaked Life of a Missionary, or, It’s Not Like You Read in All Those Classic Biographies, and That’s OK. From a missionary we know in real life.

What It’s Like When You Publish a Book. Interesting thoughts on the type of people God uses (clue: messed-up ones, because that’s the only type available).

Sticking With It, on reading long books with dull spots, either personally or to children. I don’t think the author is advocating for never putting a book aside, but I like the analogy that life is going to be that way sometimes.

25 Ways to Ask Your Kids ‘So How Was School Today?’ Without Asking Them ‘So How Was School Today?’ HT to The Story Warren. I had to learn this with one child who would always just answer, “Normal.” I don’t think I used any of these, but I did learn to ask specific questions.

Finally, this cute little boy, his reaction to hearing he is going to become a big brother, and his accent are all adorable:

And this was sweet: an orphaned kangaroo hugging a teddy bear:

Happy Saturday!