Laudable Linkage

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I found a lot of good reads the last week or so:

On Blind Faith and God.

Why You Desperately Need the Holy Spirit , HT to Challies.

The Power of De-Conversion Stories: How Jen Hatmaker is Trying to Change Minds About the Bible, HT to Challies.

Who Is the God of Mormonism?, HT to Challies.“One thing you’ll discover as you’re talking with your Mormon (LDS) friends is that though we use the same terms, we often mean very different things. Mormons have different definitions of Gospel, repentance, salvation, grace, Hell, and nearly every term you’ll be using in your conversation.”

5 Things That People Who Are Dying Want You to Know, by Kerry Egan, HT to Lisa.

How to Choose Worship Songs. Yes, to all the points mentioned here.

My Son, Withhold Judgment, HT to Challies.There are some times we need to act quickly; there are other times to realize we don’t know all the facts and need to wait.

How Do I Fight Pride When Competing in School, Business, and Sports? HT to True Woman.  “If we are better in some subject than someone else, God made us better. And his reasons for doing so are not pride and boasting and elitism. His reason for doing so is that we might use our competencies for the good of others.”

If God Doesn’t Heal You, HT to True Woman. “Although God can heal us, we must never presume that he must.”

The Why of Encouragement.

Why Do I Believe in Credobaptism, HT to Challies.

Why Young Christians Need Old Books, HT to True Woman.

In Defense of Evangelicals Who Support Trump, HT to Proclaim and Defend. Interesting, whichever side you’re on. Not written by an evangelical but by a Jew who acknowledges that “It is usually easier for an outsider to defend a person or a group that is attacked than for the person or group.” As he also says, “Character is a complex issue.” I’m not willing to say it’s not a factor at all – far from it, and I don’t think he’s saying that, either – but it’s true that some people with awful personal lives can be good leaders. But if we acknowledge that on one side of the ballot, we need to concede it for the other as well.

Growing Old Graciously, HT to Challies.”I don’t know everything, but what I do know, I can share.”

The Benefits of Listening to the Elderly, HT to Challies. “Why might the Lord, in his grace, cause the aged to repeat themselves as they do? What is the Lord showing us through it? Rather than rolling our eyes or thinking ‘Here goes Grandma again,’ what can be gained from these times?”

When I Give a Book.

On Writing Books and Getting Published, HT to Challies.

The Incredible “Mehness” Of Social Media, HT to Challies. An aspect we don’t often think of. Even if much of what we do there is harmless or even interesting, how does that impact our everyday lives and responsibilities? Do those things impact those with whom we have to do or take our attention away from them?

Ideas For Things to Do On a Snow Day, HT to Story Warren.

And in the “Seriously?” category: There’s a Reason using a Period In a Text Makes You Sound Angry, HT to Lisa. I never knew this was an issue – and it shouldn’t be. A period is just the end of a sentence, not the end of a conversation or an indicator of anger, disinterest, or insincerity.

Hope you have a fine Saturday!

(Links do not imply 100% endorsement.)

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Laudable Linkage

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A lot of my blog friends and a family member or two are experiencing a lot of snow this week. A perfect time to get cozy and read some edifying material. 🙂 Here are a few thought-provoking reads that caught my eye the past week or two:

Are You Not Ready to Worship? HT to Challies. “A worship leader who’s aware that his/her congregation is most likely filled with people who aren’t exactly fired up and ready for…. epic worship…will present a congregation with the gloriously good news of a great and faithful God, a gracious Redeemer, and a generously outpoured Holy Spirit, instead of a guilt-inducing pressure to hype something up that isn’t there to begin with.” Yes. I hate to hear people being scolding for how they are singing or what they look like while singing – that’s not particularly worship-inducing.

Christian Life Beyond the Quiet Time.

Photobombing Jesus: Confessions of a Glory Thief, HT to Challies.

Five Tests of False Doctrine.

Theonomy, or “a movement that teaches the earthwide rule of God through the reinstitution of the Law of Moses for every nation.” Why people promote this and what’s wrong with the idea.

If Abortion Was About Women’s Rights, What Were Mine? From an abortion survivor.

9 Things Your Kids Need (But Won’t Tell You)

On love and marriage:

If You’re Looking for Romance, It’s Probably Right in Front of You.

One Hour in a Restaurant Doesn’t Make a Good Marriage.

On politics and social media:

7 Questions to Ask Before Posting About Politics on Social Media

7 Ways to Do Political Punditry Wrong in a Polarized World

And lastly, I debated about this one lest it sound like I thought yelling at God was ok. But if you think of it more like an anguished prayer, I think many could commiserate with this little boy:

Thankfully it’s not too cold where we are, and next week doesn’t look too bad except for some cool nights. But I am ready to see spring!

Have a great weekend!

 

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Laudable Linkage

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I usually go a couple of weeks or more between these, but had so many, I decided to go ahead and list them. These are all thought-provoking reads found in the last week or so.

Believing in the somehow.

God’s Work in Your Bible Reading. “The Bible was precious because it mediated a sight of God, and a relation to God, which are sweeter than any other experience. This was the spring of what Sweeney called ‘Edwards’s lifelong love affair with Scripture.'”

Rethinking Phil. 4:13. It’s for far more than positive thinking and winning ball games.

How many days would it take to read through the Bible? A friend and missionary tried reading straight through the Bible in a week and discussed it here, then followed up with Meditations on binge-reading the Bible afterward.

Friends your age are not enough. We need friends of all ages.

#NotMyPresident. I’ve been appalled at some of the reaction to the president-elect. Many of us weren’t happy with the last two elections, but we didn’t act like this. I don’t agree 100% with everything about Trump, but, as a Christian, I appreciated this perspective.

Why Kids Ask Why (and How to Respond Lovingly)

Want to raise successful boys? Children, especially boys, learn better when they have more opportunities to move around than the average school gives them.

Must Christian Homeschool? Well thought-out response from Rebekah.

More than slightly Christian novels. Yes! This resonated with me.

Writing tips from Charles Spurgeon, HT to Challies.

And finally, someone posted this on Facebook, and I found it adorable:

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

I’m a bit later than usual getting to the computer today, but here are a few links discovered in the last week or so that I found interesting:

Sisters, Jesus Is Not Your Cheerleader.

Four Daily Prayers For Your Children.

Signs and Wonders. Interesting study of them in the Bible.

Beggars & Me from a missionary friend.

4 Spiritual Disciplines For Christian Authors.

The 13 Most Amazing Findings in the 2016 Exit Polls.

The Childhood Struggles of Every Myers- Briggs Type. I’m not quite up on the types and keep forgetting which I am (though I know it starts with an I!) But thought this had some good points.

Winning Photos From the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards. Some of these are pretty funny.

And finally, a friend shared this on Facebook: someone added dialogue to his pet guinea pigs’ movements, and it turned out pretty funny, especially for this time of year when pumpkin spice stuff is everywhere.

Have a good weekend!

Laudable Linkage

I usually only share these every couple of weeks, but I had a good list today, and some of them are timely, so here goes:

Freedom From the Tyranny of Hyperspirituality. Yes!

Love Your Neighbor Enough to Speak the Truth. Rosaria Butterfield, who was saved out of a leftist, homosexual lifestyle, responds to some of Jen Hatmaker’s comments re homosexuality.

6 Surprising Characteristics of Biblical Faith According to Hebrews 11. It’s not the “leap in the dark” that we tend to think.

Shame, Sanctification, Singleness, and Marriage. HT to Challies.

The Humbled Mother.

In the aftermath of the election:

No, You Aren’t Moving to Canada. (We knew this young man, now a missionary, when he was a boy, near the same age as my oldest.)

Trump, Victory, and Where Evangelicals Go From Here.

Mike Rowe on Trump’s Victory (and why people shouldn’t ascribe all of his attributes to those who voted for him)

Happy Saturday!

Thoughts on the election

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I don’t think I have said much, if anything, about this year’s presidential election. There have been too many voices carrying on ad nauseam about it, and I figure if I have been sick of it for weeks already, probably most of my readers have as well. Plus I don’t like stirring up controversy, and this election has been the most controversial in my memory.

But there are some things on my heart, and this is my outlet, so I am going to try to lay them out here. Who knows, I may get to the end and then delete it. But I want to take the swirl of different thoughts and try to set them out and examine them one by one.

Most of the blog and social media posts I have seen on election eve have been reminders that no matter who wins the election, God is in control. And that’s true.

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. Proverbs 21:1

For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. Psalm 75:6-7

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.  Romans 13:1

Some take these truths to mean, “God’s in control so it doesn’t matter what I do or whether I do anything.” While there is a sense in which that’s true, God most often uses means (like prayer to accomplish His purpose or witnessing to bring the gospel to the lost). We can each only do in good conscience what we feel God wants us to do, but we should at least do that: pray about it and then act accordingly. I don’t think God ever intended for us to take no notice of what’s going on in the world and never participate in it because He is in control. Throughout the Bible He calls people to action even while asserting His sovereignty. Sometimes He works in spite of people or without people, but most often He seems to work through people.

I’ve even seen a few saying that since Christians are citizens of heaven and this world is not our home, we don’t even really need to participate in the election process. That, to me, falls in the category of being so “heavenly minded one is of no earthly good” and seems a slap in the face of myriads who fought and died for us to have this privilege. We have this incredible gift to have a legal say in our government, and I can’t understand not using it. I think the above truths apply here as well.

But most of the chatter I have seen has not been along the lines of opting out or disregarding the privilege to vote. It’s been more along the lines of the best way for Christians to use that vote, often fraught with deep disagreement.

My biggest problem with some of the political bantering on social media is the idea that if person A has a different view on things than person B, then B thinks there must be something defective with A’s understanding, reasoning, intelligence, motives, sanity, character, patriotism, Christianity, etc. It’s possible for good people to have very different views on what should be done and how and who should do them.

Almost every election, I’ve heard the phrase going around about choosing the lesser of two evils, meaning neither candidate is ideal. This is the first year I have heard Christians objecting to that. But no candidate is ever going to line up 100% politically and spiritually with how we think. No one like that would make it that far because that’s not how the majority of the country thinks any more. And we differ so much on some of the finer points, we wouldn’t all agree on a candidate like that anyway (that, in fact, is how I believe we ended up with the Republican candidate we have: most Christians I know were splintered between 3 or 4 of the other candidates in the primaries, dividing their votes and resulting in none of them winning). We can’t hold out for the ideal candidate: we have to choose between what we have, rather than wishing for what we don’t have.

There is such a deep divide over the issues and candidates, I fear that whoever wins, the other side will be discontent and continue to complain for months to come, if not until the next election. But once we’ve studied not only the candidates, but the platforms, and prayed, and before God in good conscience made the best choice we know how to make, we have to accept the results.

We need to remember, too, that no president operates in a vacuum. We do still have a voice: we need to be alert and use that voice to let our representatives know our views on issues.

And once it is all over, our response is to be:

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NKJV)

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. 1 Peter 2:13-17

Those verses have all the more poignancy when we remember the kinds of rulers those writers were under.

In some ways, Christians tend to be more watchful and prayerful when their preferred candidate is not the elected one. Otherwise we tend to sit back and relax and trust everything will go well and forget about it all until the next election. But I do pray for God’s mercy in this, and, as a guest speaker prayed in church yesterday, ask that we’ll get the candidate God knows we need, not what we deserve.

And though I do believe the political process is important, and some are called to participate more than others, ultimately that’s not what helps people’s hearts or brings lasting change. Only the gospel can change hearts; only God and the Bible can change people’s thinking. Doing our part to be informed and vote is vital and necessary: doing our part to share the gospel and make disciples is even more so.

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Christians with political differences

Arguing

Photo Courtesy of Ambro at freedigitalphotos.net

Normally I stay far away from politics online, especially here. It’s just too volatile a subject, with good people on the opposite sides of some fences.

While differences and their tensions are present every election, I’ve been dismayed this year by comments such as, “I don’t see how any Christian can vote for that candidate.” We don’t need to call each other’s spirituality into question over politics.

I came across a couple of good posts this morning on the subject. Especially now that it looks like the final nominees are not the ones some of us wanted, we have been pondering what to do. In Can You Vote For Trump With a Clear Conscience? Andy Naselli discusses the options, none of which is ideal, but makes the point that believers can vote in totally opposite ways or think in different ways about this and still have a clear conscience. He’s obviously against Trump, but I’m sharing this for his delineation of the different ways a Christian’s conscience might lead him to vote, not necessarily for his views on Trump, even though I agree with many of them. For or against, “fellow Christians who are members of the same church should be able to disagree on these issues and still have close fellowship with each other” – and fellow Christians who don’t go to the same church should be able to do this with disputable matters as well.

Joel Arnold brings out many good points as well in Trump vs. Clinton: The Story of the Great Evangelical Predicament. He notes, “It’s entirely possible that there is not a single ‘right Christian response'” and “red vs. blue isn’t light vs. darkness.” “Don’t call your friend a liberal/heretic/moron because he didn’t agree with you.”

In this arena as well as all others, we need to remember:

  1. To “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:8).
  2. To be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16).
  3. To spend more time praying than arguing over these options.
  4. Though we do have a responsibility to be aware of issues and vote our conscience, our ultimate hope and the greatest need of any citizen is not in a political candidate.

See also:

Thoughts on Inauguration Day.
Thoughts About the Election.
Post-election Blues.

A revival of what?

Some days ago I turned on the radio to catch the news at noon, and caught the last few minutes of the prayer time my Christian radio station has right before 12:00. As I listened, I heard the announcer pray for “a revival of Biblical values” in our society. I stopped in my tracks and thought, “What?

50sI’m sure he meant well, and I am pretty sure I know what he meant, but that request struck me as a little off-base. I had the same reaction as I do when people speak of “reclaiming our culture for Christ.” I know they don’t mean this, but it brings to mind a 50s-style era where people were at least fairly decent in their lifestyles and even to some extent “God-fearing.” The problem is you can have a pleasant culture exactly like that with most of its members totally lost and on their way to hell.

I don’t think we’re called to reclaim cultures or promote Biblical values without the underlying base of trying to introduce people to the Lord. He has called us to make disciples. That kind of change comes from within and then influences a person’s actions which will then result in a change of values. Trying to promote Biblical values without a heart change is coming at things from the outside. It may make a person easier to live with, but it doesn’t change their destiny or character. But in this postmodern era, especially, Biblical values don’t make sense to someone without a Biblical heart.

I don’t mean that Christians should not be active in government. I’ve been listening to bits of Stephen Davey’s message “Stay on Task” (in other places it appears to be named “I Pledge Allegiance, Part II”) on the radio. I agree with the general thrust of his message that “The mission of the church is not moral reformation, but spiritual transformation” and “Our true battle is against the kingdom of darkness which has blinded the minds of the world to believe that God is not watching.” (It’s a great message – I encourage you to listen to or read it). On the other hand, just because Jesus or the apostles never tried to organize voters or push for campaign issues doesn’t mean it is wrong to do so. Unlike Bible times, we do have a government in these days where we can use our voice. We should first of all pray “For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (I Timothy 2:1-3). And personally I believe we should at least vote, as intelligently as possible. To be given such a gift at this time in history and not use it would be terribly negligent. Some might be called to do more, as described in the article “Is Voting Enough?” I think it is good for Christians to be involved in government as in every other segment of society, to be salt and light there. Since our government can be influenced by our voices, I am grateful for some who keep on top of issues, stand for the right, keep voters informed, and voice our concerns to our representatives. I don’t believe our ultimate hope is in government, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a tool in God’s hands that can be used for good. Proverbs 21:31 says, “The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.” God didn’t tell people to abandon their horses, but He told them rather to remember that ultimately safety is of Him. Our trust is in Him, not in any tools, even though He may use various tools to accomplish His objectives.

And in past history He has done so without a conservative culture or a representative form of government. I am extremely thankful for both of those and I hope we keep them. But the church can and should thrive with or without them. In Paul’s time, dictators were in power, yet the church grew in numbers and in character.

While we can and should use the tools at our disposal, those pursuits should never take priority over the basics of what God has called us to: being salt and light wherever we are, showing His love and grace to people, and telling them about the only God and Savior who alone can save them and meet their needs.

Thoughts about the election

After yesterday’s election, of course several thoughts are floating around my mind. I had another post planned for today but decided I’d pin some of these thoughts down.

1. Though I am disappointed in the presidential election results, “the powers that be are ordained of God” ~ Romans 1:13b. “[God] changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings” ~Daniel 2:21. If that is true for kings, I am sure it is true for other leaders. For reasons only He knows, He has allowed this administration to continue for another term. That doesn’t mean He approves of everything it does.

2. I think conservative Christians are more watchful and prayerful when someone is voted in with whom we have strong disagreements. When someone is voted in whose views are more in line with ours, we tend to sit back and relax.

3. Though I disagree with many of the president’s views and policies, I am instructed to be subject to him (unless his requirements violate Scripture) and to pray for him. These instructions were written while under a leadership much worse than anything we have ever seen in this country.

4. As I mentioned yesterday, government cannot change a human heart. Only God can do that. Many of the underlying issues affecting governmental policy (and the choices people make to vote for such policies) are a matter of heart. We need to be about the Father’s business of trying to lovingly lead people to Him and disciple them by teaching His Word.

5. The talking heads analyzing the election last night made the point that for conservatives to win office, they need to be more “electable,” and that would mean compromise. Compromise can be a good thing in some instances, a  bad thing in others. The type of compromises they are talking about are probably going to be the ones conservative Christians would be most opposed to. The fact that there are more people voting for those policies than against them, and the pressure will be on to compromise in those areas, highlights even more the need for us to be the salt and light we should be.

6. Government cannot meet all my needs or take care of all my responsibilities.

I do have some different posts planned: November is National Adoption Month, and I have at least a couple in relation to that, and I’ve finished some books I want to discuss. I’m looking forward to moving on and sharing some of these things in the days ahead.

Praying and voting

Our ultimate hope and need is not in a certain political leader. “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.” (Psalm 118:8-9).

Ultimately the only hope for change in a country is in change in the human heart, and that can only be effected by God, not government.

But though our hope is not in leaders, God uses them to accomplish His purposes. We have in this country the privilege of voting for our leaders. Not every country in every time has been able to do this, and I don’t see how we can take this responsibility lightly or ignore it. Neither candidate is my ideal choice, but one clearly edges out the other in the issues of highest importance to me.

So I urge folks to vote their conscience as well as to pray for our country, its leaders, and its people.

Here are a few other thoughts on the election, more thorough and eloquent than mine:

Thinking about the election from a Biblical point of view.

Conscience, Christ, and the ballot box.

Election.

Notes on the election for believers.

A Prayer for America on Election Day. (Mohler)

I am going to vote (Piper).

A prayer for the election (Piper).