What Paul’s Warning Didn’t Mean –And How We Know It Didn’t Mean That

According to ScriptureThe meaning of 1 Corinthians 1:10 seems quite obvious, doesn’t it?

10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. ~~1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV)

Pretty straightforward, right? As a spokesman for the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, Paul warned the Corinthian church against having divisions within its  members. He later described the church as a unified body with each member functioning in cooperation with all the other members (1 Corinthians 12:12-30). Such unity precludes criticizing each other, clearly.

Some use 1 Corinthians 1:10 to shame those who call out false teachers who appear to be genuine Christians. We, rather than the false teachers, receive accusations of causing division within the church, as if our discernment violates Continue reading

The Displeasure Of Readers Shouldn’t Keep Me From Telling The Truth

Woman Asking FramedOnly two years after graduating from college, I became the editor of my church’s monthly newsletter. It didn’t take long to learn that I couldn’t please everyone all of the time. Writers complained that I was too ruthless in editing their articles, while my assistant editor complained that I was too lenient. No matter what I did, somebody would inevitability be unhappy with me.

I learned to live with the displeasure of others.

As a blogger, I’ve had to draw from that lesson I learned as an editor, particularly because I frequently write about discernment. Usually, the criticism I receive rolls off my back — I pretty much know that Continue reading

He Is A Faithful Father

We all struggle with the sin of anxiety these days, perhaps more than usual. While our anxious feelings are definitely understandable, however, the Lord calls us to remember His commitment to care for His children. If you’ve repented of your sin and trusted in Christ’s atoning death on the cross as your only source of salvation, you can depend on your Heavenly Father to faithfully take care of you.

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My Obligatory Post Regarding Covid-19 And Reinventing Wheels

Experience BibleI have a couple reasons for not wanting to blog about Covid-19. Perhaps my most compelling reason is that I honestly don’t think I can bring anything new to the table. Pastors and bloggers have covered every angle that I can think of, including speculations about God’s judgment and the end times that probably shouldn’t be publicly entertained at this point in time.

Such is the nature of evangelical thinking, I suppose.

Yet, having a public blog almost necessitates saying something about the crisis. Why? Because silence would inevitably be misinterpreted as indifference in the demanding sphere of social media, thereby Continue reading

Snap, Crackle, Pop — My Back And More Bedrest

Tulip SamplerOkay, folks– I guess the title of this post sums up why I haven’t been blogging these past few weeks. The “pulled muscle” ended up being a compression fracture in my lumbar region, meaning that the advice to sit in my wheelchair that I received from my February 28th visit to the Emergency Room was exactly opposite of what I needed to be doing.

On March 8th I got out of bed and tried to sit on the toilet. As I was screaming in pain, John called 911 and the Randolph Fire Department escorted me back to Milton Hospital. This time they did a CAT scan, which showed the fracture at the L2 level. So I’ve been lying in bed eating Tylinol and Motrin as I’ve had Lidocane patches on my back.

Just to complicate matters, my evening PCA has been out for three weeks with a fractured arm, so John’s been having to scare up people to help in her absence. Now with the Covid19 virus, we’ve had to ask his PCA to take a leave of absence (he works in a grocery store and is therefore exposed to a large number of people) so we’re having to find people to help him get up. This is the first time since I was diagnosed with the fracture that John has been able to type a blog post for me.

Please pray for both of us. I am improving, and hope to work on the blog post I started writing on March 7th. I expect to be doing a little typing by the end of next week, but I don’t think I should write that whole post in one sitting. And pray for John as he balances all of his obligations with helping me. I miss blogging. I miss my readers. May God protect all of us during this trying time, reminding us of His sovereignty and love.

 

Saturday Sampler: February 23 — February 29

Fish SamplerAlthough written specifically to church leaders, Mark McIntyre’s On Selective Denouncement in Attempts at Honesty applies to any Christian who openly stands against sin in others. I’ve been thinking along similar lines recently, though Mark has a take on the matter that hadn’t quite occurred to me (probably because I’ve been too lazy to remove this log from my own eye).

We can all feel intimidated when it comes to evangelism. Jordan Standridge’s article for The Cripplegate, Don’t Mess with the Message, helps brace us against that intimidation.  I greatly appreciate his Scriptural and practical encouragement.

Is it Time for a Change regarding your relationship with God’s Word?  Leslie A of Growing 4 Life issues a few challenges, including an unexpected one to those of us who really do spend time digging in to our Bibles. I always appreciate Leslie’s boldness to write things that make us examine ourselves.

John and I have been going through a few struggles. Actually, we’ve been having struggles for a couple years with relatively few breaks. So I appreciate Michelle Lesley for running Throwback Thursday ~ God’s Good Purposes in Suffering this week. As usual, she derives her principles from Scripture and helps us look to the Lord.

HT to Erin Benziger for sharing A Bad Kind of Discernment by Lara d’Endtremont on Twitter. Lara balances the abuses in sometimes self-proclaimed discernment ministries with the importance of exercising discernment out of genuine compassion for false teachers and the people they deceive. I can’t overemphasize the importance of this blog post!

I apologize for the brevity of today’s Sampler. I went to the emergency  room yesterday with the severe back pain, and found that I have injured a muscle in my back. I am not ready to do extensive typing, so there will be no Sunday hymn tomorrow and no Bible study on Monday. Hopefully by Tuesday I can post something. Thank you for understanding.

 

Throwback Thursday: If I Must Be Born Again, How Do I Manage It?

Originally posted November 28, 2018.

IMG_0356As a young Christian,  I had a zeal for evangelism. Not a talent for it, mind you, and not the best motives, but certainly the burning conviction that everybody needed to be born again. So I’d drive my motorized wheelchair all over my high school campus, passing out tracts and telling people they must be born again.

I frequently referred to John 3:1-8 as substantiation for my message. That indeed is the appropriate passage.

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” ~~John 3:1-8 (ESV)

Actually, I ignored verses 5, 6 and 8 because I just plain didn’t understand them! Anyway, I wanted to emphasize the apparent command to be born again. I demanded that people repent of sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to escape eternal hell. In my overly simplistic mind, accepting Jesus and living for Him caused someone to be born again.

My misinterpretation of the words “must be” created the problem, both in understanding the concept for myself and in presenting the Gospel to others. By separating those two words from their context, I emphasized human responsibility over the prerogative of the Holy Spirit.

Being born again isn’t a human accomplishment; it’s the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit on those He wills to save. In fact, the words of the apostle John two chapters earlier help clarify that very point.

12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. ~~John 1:12-13 (ESV)

Notice verse 13, please.  Although the acts of receiving Him and believing in His name are involved in becoming children of God (verse 12), the spiritual birth results from God’s will, not human will or effort.

Jesus taught Nicodemus that, though being born again is an essential requisite to  entering the kingdom of God, it isn’t something we do ourselves. As John MacArthur has explained numerous times, we played no part in our physical births, so what makes us think that we could possibly have anything to do with our spiritual ones?

Yes, Jesus said we must be born again. Like a child must be a certain height and weight to ride in a car without a booster seat. Like you have to be 18 to register as a voter. You can’t reach those conditions through your own efforts, but those conditions must be met. Although we must be born again, that rebirth happens through the work of the Holy Spirit.

I still have evangelism as a high priority, even if I do it better online than in person. I also still want people to know that they must be born again. Now, however, I understand what it means and how it happens. That understanding makes a huge difference!

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