Saturday Sampler: September 15 — September 21

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Normally, I shy away from recommending reviews of books I haven’t personally read. Clay Kannard’s post, 167. Why Do They Cross the Tiber? Stories of Evangelical Conversions to Rome in Vatican Files is a worthy exception. And no, this article does not support evangelical to Catholic conversions.

Using a fascinating piece of church history, Barry York writes Learning a Lesson from the Duplicity of James Arminius and the Remonstrants for Gentle Reformation.

We’ve all heard the caricature of Reformed Christians not believing that God heals people today. Josh Buice of Delivered By Grace writes Yes, God Still Performs Miracles to correct Charismatics who misunderstand our beliefs on this matter.

Christina at Heavenly Springs shares an excerpt from Joel Beeke as he comments on a passage Calvin wrote regarding Finding Safety in the Church. What an intriguing take on the relationship between church membership and discernment!

Offering a chilling report of how leftist ideology walks hand in hand with the Australian Psychological Association, Stephen McAlpine writes InPsych Magazine: Telescoping the Future of Gender as a clear, if not disturbing, warning to Christians tempted towards a career in psychology. And please don’t assume that these dangers confine themselves to Australia. If you have any interest in psychology, I implore you to read this post.

Does anyone care if you skip church? Things Above Us contributor Allen Nelson IV thinks so. In When You Miss, You’re Missed, he explains how our absences — legitimate or illegitimate — affect the rest of our church family.

The debate pitting human free will against God’s sovereignty often flattens the two positions into a false dichotomy, as John Ellis demonstrates in Discovering the Real Meaning of Free Will and Divine Freedom for Servants of Grace.

In the mood for something short but thought provoking? Throwback Thursday: He Knows My Name by Michelle Lesley should do it for you.

Maybe Melissa at Your Mom Has A Blog states the obvious in Marriage as a Ministry, but don’t pass by her piece simply because you already agree with the title. Sometimes we neglect — or even forget — the most obvious spiritual principles.

Like Elizabeth Prata, I know when real climate change will happen. Visit The End Time to read The Earth without Water to learn about God’s sovereignty in the most cataclysmic climate change event in history.

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Did You Go To Them Privately?

Powerful Word

Social media provides a platform for anybody with access to a keyboard. In many ways, that access makes it easier for Christians to proclaim the Gospel and offer good teaching. In this day in age when fewer and fewer evangelical churches preach expositional sermons and encourage congregants to understand Scripture in its proper context, blogs, tweets and Facebook posts can serve as needed nourishment to Christians.

Sadly, social media can also enable false teachers to spread their poisonous doctrines.

Since false teachers utilize social media so effectively, we can praise God for tech-savvy people who have both the courage and the discernment to repudiate their errors. Admittedly, some writers who consider themselves discernment bloggers carry things way too far and end up making legitimate discernment bloggers look unsavory. But once you weed those writers out, you appreciate the ones who stand against error and guide readers back to the Word of God.

Invariably, those of us who expose false teachers receive angry responses, demanding to know whether or not we confronted said teacher privately in accordance with Continue reading

Throwback Thursday: It’s Not About Why A Good Man Suffers

Originally posted February 16, 2018:

God Answers

Of course I’d read the book of Job many times throughout my 47 years of being a Christian, so its story hardly surprised me as I read it this week. Yet this time I noticed Job’s attitude. During the course of his trial, it degenerates from trusting God to questioning Him to flat-out anger against Him.

Job knew that He’d initially done nothing to warrant the severe suffering that God allowed Satan to heap on him. When his three “comforters” asserted that God was punishing him for sin, he vehemently denied their analysis. Sadly, as they persisted in their accusations, Job slid into the sin of self-righteousness, eventually demanding that God answer to him!

As we know, God finally puts a halt to Job’s temper tantrum by reminding Job that He created heaven and earth. Therefore He has authority to act however He pleases, and His creatures really don’t have any right to call Him into account. Thankfully, Job then repents of his self-righteousness and receives a restoration of God’s blessings.

Let’s talk about Job’s self-righteous anger against the Lord for a bit. I’d never really noticed it until this week, but I believe it holds a key to understanding the whole message of the book.

In college, a classmate who categorized herself as an agnostic summarized the book of Job as an exploration of the question, “Why does a good man suffer?” I thought of her assessment this week as I read Job’s self-righteous protests of his innocence, and I realized the glaring fallacy of her statement.

God used Job’s suffering to reveal Job’s heart. For all his attempts at piety and obedience, deep down Job ultimately trusted in himself rather than God for his justification. God used the trial to confront Job with his arrogance. Although he’d done nothing to provoke God’s judgment when the trials began, his reaction to the unfair remarks of his “comforters” led him to express his deep-seated self-righteousness. And it was ugly.

God, in His grace, allowed Job to recognize his need for a Savior. He graciously brought Job to repentance, and then rewarded Job for that repentance. The book isn’t about a good man who suffered as much as it’s about a good God Who uses suffering to show us both our sin and His wonderful grace.

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Ongoing Struggles Over Discernment Blogs

Narrow Gate

In my eight years of editing a church newsletter, I quickly learned that I couldn’t please everyone. My writers wanted me to publish their pieces exactly as God “told” them to write them (leaving me puzzled by God’s many grammatical errors). My assistant editor regularly pleaded with me to edit more strictly than I did. My distribution manager once refused to bring the tomes to church because he disagreed with the theological content of the lead article. The pastors subsequently decided I needed a content manager, and appointed the very man who had written the controversial article.

Usually, someone was unhappy with how I did my job.

Over 30 years later, here I sit struggling with my blog, which I guess can be categorized as a discernment blog. I’ve vacillated quite publicly in these posts on whenever or not I want such a designation. And, finally yielding to the reality that, Continue reading

Maybe I Should Play Solitaire More Often

Untitled-1Up until three weeks before our wedding, John and I lived 3000 miles apart from each other. At about 3:30 p.m. California time every day, he’d send an Instant Message on AOL (hey, we were scarcely out of the 90s, when AOL still ruled the internet) and we’d spend the next few hours chatting online. If he had to end the conversation before Mom had dinner ready, I’d kill time by playing solitaire on my computer.

You need to understand that I’ve never had much use of my hands, so card games posed a challenge. When my sister and I played Old Maid, Fish or the few other games I could manage, she’d wedge my cards (without looking) between a shoebox and its lid,  mentally numbering the cards from her left to her right. To play a card, I’d call out the number. Sometimes I’d forget to number them from my right to my left, causing all sorts of frustration for both of us.

Needless to say, solitaire games were — I can’t resist typing it — not Continue reading

The Essence Of Spiritual Warfare

Sword

Standing for truth, in an increasing number of evangelical churches, means that we cause division.

Yet Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament epistles, saw division very differently than 21st Century evangelicals see it. Consider this quote:

Paul regards divisiveness as those who depart from sound doctrine. Doctrine is not the cause of disunity, departure is. ~Carl Trueman

Responsible reading (not to mention study) of Paul’s epistles bear out Trueman’s point. The apostle wrote several of his epistles (most of them, actually) with the purpose of clearing up doctrinal error and preserving correct teaching. As a matter of fact, he drew an interesting correlation between refuting false teaching and Continue reading

And Speaking Of The Church

After writing a series of posts about the church, only one hymn seems fitting. The hymn writer shifts the focus from the church itself to the One Who established the church as His bride.

Usually, I introduce Sunday hymns with lengthy musings on them, and usually doing so has merit. In this case, however, the hymn simply provides a conclusion to my series. May we remember that the church belongs to Christ and exists for His glory.

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