Discernment Isn’t Always What We Expect

3d383-ladies2bstudy2b03Let’s be honest, ladies. There’s a certain satisfaction to picking apart false teachers like Beth Moore (why is she always the first one to come to mind?), Ann Voskamp, Lysa TerKeurst and Sarah Young. Okay, we do need to show less discerning believers why such teachers shouldn’t be followed, especially when so many women’s Bible Studies use their books. But when “discernment ministries” do little else than try to discredit anyone they disagree with, they’ve abandoned true discernment in favor of cheap gossip.

Early in December, I wrote a couple articles linking Biblical discernment with wisdom. Tired of simply finding creative ways of saying that discernment involves so much more than Continue reading

Has Anybody Seen The Opportunity That I Misplaced?

Dark WisdomSo John came into the bedroom with his laptop, offering to let me dictate a blog post to him. (I am a blessed woman!) As soon as he opened it, all my brilliant ideas fluttered out of my head and refused to be retrieved. Consequently, I lie here feeling frustrated and disappointed that I can’t fully take advantage of this opportunity.

I hate missed opportunities. I especially hate having an opportunity to share the Gospel, only to sit there with the words rumbling around in my throat and not coming out of my mouth. Until recently, I would fear that the person would spend eternity in hell because I failed to tell him or her about Jesus.

Certainly, Christians have a responsibility to proclaim the Gospel to whomever we can. God has ordained evangelism as the means of bringing people to salvation. Furthermore, a failure to speak on His behalf constitutes disobedience on our part.

That said, none of us should presume to think that a person’s salvation depends solely on our obedience. If somebody is elect, He will be faithful to make sure that the person hears and responds to His Word. Trusting His sovereignty relieves us of believing that we have responsibility for a person’s eternal destiny.

So should we feel guilty if we miss (or neglect) opportunities to present the Gospel to others? Yes and no.

Any disobedience should cause us to feel guilt. Christ has blessed us in abundance with salvation and the hope of eternity with Him! The grace He has given us should motivate us to obey all of His commands, including the command to go into all the world and make disciples, teaching them everything He has taught us. Our silence is a sin against His grace.

At the same time, we should not sin by presuming that we are ultimately responsible for anyone’s salvation. Heavenly days, we can’t even take credit for our own salvation – what makes us think that we can effect salvation in somebody else’s heart? Do we really think that the Lord is totally dependent on whether or not we share the Gospel?

Please.

We must remember that all of His elect will come to salvation regardless of our obedience to witness. He has determined who will enter His Kingdom, and our disobedience (even though it is sinful) isn’t strong enough to sabotage His will.

Lost opportunities indeed frustrate and disappoint us, especially when those opportunities involve bringing the Gospel to people who need Christ. But when we lose opportunities, we need to remember that God hasn’t lost His control. He knows who belong to Him, and He will save those people regardless of our actions. Rest in this assurance.

*Thanks to John for typing this post at my dictation.

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Christmas Vacation In Boston (Well, At Mass. General Hospital)

Background July 2016 2Those who know me well are quite aware that I would love to live in downtown Boston. I have daydreamed about spending a few nights in one of the hotels, being able to wander around the city without the two hour commute back home.

My mother always told me, “be careful what you wish for – you might get it.”

On Monday, December 17, I was doubled over with severe hip pain that kept me from sitting upright in my wheelchair. We called the paramedics, who transported me to a local hospital. This local hospital (which I have never liked) diagnosed me with a pulled muscle, sending me home with instructions to see my primary care physician in a few days. By that Wednesday it was evident that I could not even get into my wheelchair, much less take the RIDE into my doctor’s office in Boston. To make a long story short, an ambulance transported me to Mass. General Hospital the next day. Continue reading

The Hope Of Christmas Bells

By 1864, famed poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had already lost his beloved wife to an accidental burning. Now the country he cherished was savagely divided by a civil war that claimed far too many lives. Struggling with the Christmas sentiment of peace on earth, goodwill to men, he wrote a poem about the apparent contradiction between the sentiment and the bitter realities of life.

His poem was later condensed into a Christmas song. Although the song doesn’t focus on the Lord Jesus Christ per se, its trust in God for ultimate justice offers meaning in today’s divisive climate. As Christians, we know that the same Christ Who came as a sweet Baby will return as the powerful Judge Who will right every wrong. Listen to Longfellow’s words with that glorious promise in mind.

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Saturday Sampler: December 9 — December 15

Snowmen Sampler

So often, Leslie A writes things in Growing 4 Life that make me want to jump out of my wheelchair, do a happy dance and shout “YES!” at the top of my lungs. To see a blog post that gives me such a giddy reaction, read Is There More Than One Way to Interpret Scripture?

Speaking of posts that resonate with me, go over to Possessing the Treasure and read The Believer’s Supreme Act of Spiritual Worship by Mike Ratliff. He accurately diagnosis major problems among evangelicals and prescribes the remedy.

Elizabeth Prata also has me ready to do a happy dance because of her essay, Another good reason to develop discernment, which appears in The End Time. It’s incredibly refreshing when a well-known discernment blogger writes an article like this! But my poor wheelchair is beginning to look awfully empty!

One of the reasons I love living near Boston is its rich literary history. Several years ago, John took me to Longfellow’s house in Cambridge to celebrate my birthday. So I appreciate Barry York’s A Lesson Learned in Longfellow’s Home in Gentle Reformation. I don’t know if Longfellow truly knew Christ,  but the poem still has tremendous power.

The lady who blogs at Biblical Beginnings writes Movie Review — Polycarp. After reading her review, I got my husband to pull this movie up on Amazon Prime. Except for the hokey lighting behind Polycarp’s  head during one of his prayers, it’s an excellent film. And as we see persecution approach Christians in the United States, this movie offers wonderful encouragement.

Having a range of personal struggles and sorrow over the death of my former prayer partner, I appreciate Jessica Jenkins’ When Christmas Doesn’t Feel Merry in Biblical Woman this week. If you’re hurting, please make time to read this piece.

Allen Nelson IV, writing for Things Above Us, shows us How Not to Be a Heretic this Christmas as we contemplate the Incarnation. Don’t miss this short but comprehensive look at five common errors in understanding Christ as 100% God and 100% Man.

Do you need 5 Reasons To Read The Bible When You Feel Absolutely Nothing? Then Stephen Altrogge’s blog post in The Blazing Center is perfect for you!

 

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Flashback Friday: Charismatics Aren’t Like Joseph

Originally posted December 23, 2016:

bethlehem-dazzle-frameDuring my years as a Charismatic, I remember using all sorts of Scriptures as proof-texts to validate whatever spiritual experience I happened to be practicing at the time. Most of the Charismatics I knew did the same thing to greater or lesser degrees.

At Christmas time, Matthew’s nativity narrative gave me and my Charismatic friends excellent proof-texts to substantiate our claims that the Lord spoke to us personally. Three times in Matthew 1 and 2, the Lord sent Joseph dreams, in which He spoke very clearly to instruct Joseph. For example, look at God’s intervention when Joseph learned that his fiancee, Mary, was carrying a Child that he hadn’t fathered.

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. ~~Matthew 1:18-25 (ESV)

Naturally, we concluded that, since the Lord spoke to Joseph, we had good reason to expect Him to speak to us in dreams, visions, still small voices or what have you. Our conclusion certainly seemed reasonable at the time, granted, but let’s think through a few points regarding who the Lord generally spoke to in Scripture and why He spoke to them.

In the Old Testament, God spoke to prophets, or to people who would further the development of Israel (and the Messianic line). He didn’t speak to everyone in Israel, nor did He speak about inconsequential matters. He was building His nation, teaching them how to worship Him and to separate themselves from those who worshiped false gods and committed abominable sins.

Likewise, in the New Testament He spoke to apostles and prophets until His Word was written down by some of those same apostles and prophets. Those apostles and prophets, according to Ephesians 4:11-16, built the foundation of the Church by the revelations that the Holy Spirit gave them. That revelation (at least the revelation that we needed) has been preserved in the Bible’s canon.

The Lord spoke to Joseph because Joseph would serve as the legal father of Jesus, thus legitimizing His claim to David’s throne. In turn, this claim validated Jesus as the Messiah. Had Joseph divorced Mary, Jesus would not have had this legal claim. Therefore, God had to intervene by speaking directly to Joseph. Notice that His instruction that Joseph name the Child Jesus fulfilled prophecy.

God spoke two more times to Joseph (Matthew 2:13-15 and Matthew 2:19-23), both times to protect Jesus from an early death and, again, to fulfill prophecy. The Lord spoke to Joseph for specific purposes that resulted in Jesus growing to Manhood, demonstrating Himself to be God, dying on the cross to atone for the sin of those who would believe in Him and rising from the grave to break the power of sin. God’s words to Joseph held eternal consequences.

God’s words to Joseph were vastly different from the things that present-day evangelicals (particularly Charismatics) claim to receive. Joseph, like other key figures in Scripture, played a critical role in God’s plan of redemption. That being the case, 21st Century Christians need only the Bible in order to hear everything the Lord wants us to know.

Hebrews 1:1-2 says that, in these last days, God has spoken through His Son. Praise God He spoke to Joseph back then, so that we would have His Son’s Word for all eternity!

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Our Sorrow; Her Joy

SunsetApr10_2004Forgive me for keeping the details vague, but I want to respect the privacy of her husband and children. Putting it on Facebook for family and friends is vastly different that putting it on a public blog, wouldn’t you agree?

But the Lord took her Home early this morning, ending years of physical suffering from an illness that her doctors didn’t understand. My new life separated us by 3000 miles,  and of course the letters, phone calls and emails Continue reading