Refuting False Teaching By Keeping Christ In Focus

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Colossians is one of my favorite books of the Bible.

Okay, I lied — it’s definitely my favorite. John’s gospel is a close second, and I love it for the same reason that I love Colossians: both books center on showing us Who Christ is. I know, of course, that the entire Bible reveals Him, but these two books paint particularly clear pictures of Him. Therefore, I go back to them as often as I can without neglecting the rest of God’s Word.

So I’m currently working through Colossians during my personal time with the Lord, making preliminary notes before I go back over it using commentaries. What a rich, satisfying experience! I feel as if I’m dining at one of Boston’s finest restaurants!

This morning I came across a verse in Chapter 2 that absolutely thrilled me, as well as encouraging me in developing better discernment skills. In fact, I believe everyone in discernment ministry ought to Continue reading

God Doesn’t Restrict His Glory To Mountain Top Experiences And Neither Should We

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Photo taken from the summit of Mount Tamalpias in Marin Country, California

Often, we think of God’s glory in relation to the beauty of nature. As well we should! Scripture repeatedly makes that correlation,  leading us to follow its example. For instance, consider this beloved passage from Psalm 19:

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
    whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
    which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
    and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
    and its circuit to the end of them,
    and there is nothing hidden from its heat. ~~Psalm 19:1-6 (ESV)

I well understand why this psalm proclaims that nature showcases God’s glory. When I lived in California, I loved going to Mount Tamalpias. How often I enjoyed the wheelchair accessible Verna Dunshee Trail at the summit of the East Peak! A few days before I moved to Massachusetts to marry John, my friend took me up to Mount Tam one last time. That afternoon had crystal clear weather that allowed us to look down the plummeting ravines and out across the San Francisco Bay. We looked down on the back of a hawk in flight — a heady experience, I assure you!

My friend savored the magnificence of the moment (as did I) before remarking with a baffled voice, “I just don’t understand how anyone can deny the existence of God.” I shared her sense of awe at God’s creation. Looking out from the mountain at the sparking waters of the San Francisco Bay, and then at the golden grasses and green shrubbery cascading down the mountainside, I couldn’t help seeing what a wonderful Creator I serve.

But I didn’t stop to think that the breathtaking splendors of Mount Tamalpias pale in comparison to the glorious God Who created them. To really appreciate His glory, we need to look at Jesus. The apostle John actually described Jesus in terms of God’s glory.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ~~John 1:14 (ESV)

Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity, manifests God’s glory in a myriad of ways, most of which we won’t fully appreciate until we behold Him in His heavenly kingdom. Yet we see enough of Him in the pages of His Word to know His majesty. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John regale us with accounts of Him healing the sick, casting out demons and exercising His divine power over the wind and sea. They describe His sinless life, His authoritative teaching and His astonishing humility as He endured a crucifixion that He did not deserve. Most glorious of all, they describe His resurrection, which proved His victory over sin and death.

As we read God’s Word, we constantly see His glory in the Person and work of Jesus. And when we encounter Him, even the beauty of something like Mount Tamalpias seems trivial.

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We’re Only Channels, Not The Flow Of Water Itself

As a young Christian, I’d daily arm myself with Christian tracts and charge out to evangelize the toughest kids on the high school campus.You know, the kids that scared my Christian friends half to death. Looking back, I realize how vulnerable I was in my little wheelchair, but at the time I knew no fear!

One day my less courageous (read: more sensible) friend asked me why I went out to those particular kids. Borrowing a popular motto from that era, I self-righteously replied, “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done!”

The salvation of Terra Linda High students depended on me.

Since then, I’ve repented of my pride. Yes, the Lord calls me to declare His Gospel as faithfully as I can. Just as surely as He ordains the elect to be saved, He ordains evangelism as the means of saving the elect. We are the channels through which the living waters of the Holy Spirit flow.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that we are channels only. We want to do great things for the Lord and to enjoy recognition for our fearless ministry. But the Lord wants us to serve Him in humility, praising Him for the privilege of having His Holy Spirit work through empty channels like us!

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Saturday Sampler: July 14 — July 20

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Although I haven’t really vetted The Transformed Wife, Was the Purity Culture Harmful and Dangerous?  by Lori Alexander and her husband Ken raises points that we ought to seriously consider.

Denny Burk warns us to Beware of a “Test the Fruit” Hermeneutic. It never ceases to astound me to see ways that professing Christians manage to turn Scripture on its ear in order to justify sin.

Emma, who blogs at My Redemption for His Glory, reflects on her personal struggle to understand discernment in her post, Working Through Discernment | Hard Things. She reaches a conclusion that should be an example to all of us. Please put this one on your Must Read list!

The Ligonier blog features R.C. Sproul’s teaching on 3 Types of Legalism this week. If you’ve ever been called a legalist or a Pharisee, this piece will help you determine whether or not those accusations apply to you.

In a wonderfully convicting essay, Elizabeth Prata challenges our hypocrisy by writing ‘Looking this way and that’: About that secret sin… What a great reminder that we must maintain personal holiness! Dip into this blog post to see the reasons she provides.

The desire of a false teacher is to deceive, states Mike Ratliff of Possessing the Treasure. His post is uncharacteristically short, but it definitely wakes us up to the reality that false teachers don’t have our best interests in mind.

Believers must be above reproach, especially in our interactions with members of the opposite sex. That’s why Denny Burk offers Ten Thoughts about the “Billy Graham Rule” for us to ponder.

Banned by Amazon by Joe Dallas is both chilling and encouraging. Joe and I crossed paths a few times during my involvement in ex-gay ministry, and he has an amazing testimony. Thankfully, Amazon can’t silence him.

His annual reading of Pilgrim’s Progress led Greg Peterson to think about the Difficulties in Believing and to share his ruminations in a blog post for Parking Space 23. If you’re discouraged about unsaved family and friends, his thoughts offer the encouragement you need.

Tim Ferrara writes Discerning Dad primarily to  other young fathers.Every now and then, however, he’ll come up with something that applies to all Christians. Without Defect is one such article. I really hope you’ll read it. But even more, I hope all of us will put his ideas into practice.

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Not Your Typical Evangelical Prayer, But Paul Wouldn’t Have Been A Typical 21st Century Evangelical

Colossians prayer Think about the typical prayer requests that you exchange with your family and friends for a moment. Aside from praying for the salvation of loved ones, how many of those prayer requests reflect temporal concerns like health, finances, whom to marry or school. And I agree that matters like these do require prayer. Praise God for all the prayers that went up for John when he had cancer and a heart attack seven years ago!

But have you ever noticed how the apostle Paul prayed for people? I’ve been studying his epistle to the Colossians lately, and an early passage in Chapter 1 has made me examine Continue reading

Mary Understood What She Needed (Or, How Do You Stop A Runaway Blog?)

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In the past couple of weeks, I’ve blogged about some fairly important topics, and I don’t regret addressing those issues. Since publishing the Open Letter To Beth Moore, my online life has been a bit crazy, taking my thoughts in unanticipated directions. At times I’ve felt somewhat frustrated that I wasn’t taking my blog where I believed it should go.

As I thought about the disconnect between what I’ve wanted to write and what I’ve actually been writing, my mind went back to the familiar story of Continue reading

Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones, But What You And I Type On Twitter Can Be Devastating

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Someone on Twitter made unkind comments about my physical appearance this past weekend. Of course his remarks hurt a bit. I’ve felt more self-conscious when I’m around people, wondering if how I look offends them as much as it evidently offended the author of those unpleasant tweets.

But for the most part, I understood that the person just wanted to get a rise out of me. He had insulted a number of other Christians on Twitter that day, apparently threatening violence against a few of them. Obviously,  he was merely a stupid kid desperately trying to get attention. Several people reported him. I believe Twitter suspended his account.

His cracks about my appearance didn’t trouble me nearly as much as the juvenile way that people  (including Christians) interact online lately. They troubled me because I’ve been tempted to make personal remarks about certain false teachers that I’ve blogged about or have challenged on Twitter. You’d think that of all people, I’d be the last one to make fun of how someone looks, but the taunts I received Saturday forced me to Continue reading