He Had Me Before Birth

This article was originally published in November of 2015 as part of my Autobiography With Purpose series. I wanted to reprise it today in celebration of my birthday. May it cause you to praise God for His grace and sovereignty.

NewbornShe suffered two miscarriages, and then her son was stillborn. As soon as she knew she was pregnant with me, Mom obeyed the doctor’s orders by staying in bed–flat on her back–during the entire pregnancy.

When I still hadn’t arrived by the tenth month, Mom found little humor in a friend’s comment: “I thought only elephants gestated this long!” My mother, usually a  stickler for proper etiquette, retorted, “Oh shut up!” as she slammed down the phone. She felt frustrated and undoubtedly fearful. At age 37, she had little time left for her dream of being a mother to come true.

But my September 30, 1953 arrival, a full month after the due-date, failed to be the joyous occasion my parents had expected. Because I weighed only five pounds and Continue reading

Christian Life Is Open Warfare

Coming of age during the Vietnam War era made me resistant to the Bible’s passages on warfare — physical and spiritual. I wanted a peace, love and groovy Christianity led by a peace, love and groovy Jesus. Of course, I encountered the real Jesus, Who wasn’t the least bit interested in conforming to my culturally influenced expectations of Him.

So I learned that following Jesus necessitates warfare against the world, the flesh and the devil. Although I can fight these enemies only by complete reliance on the Lord, I can’t  be a Conscientious Objector. As a Christian, I’m automatically conscripted into His service.

So are each of you.

That being the case, let’s prepare ourselves to stand up for Jesus, even when the battles seem relentless and discouraging. Christ Himself always goes before us, reminding us that He has already secured victory. His ultimate triumph allows us to follow Him into the fray with rejoicing. He will indeed conquer and reign!

Note: next Saturday Justin Peters will be at First Baptist Church Weymouth (where John and I are members) leading a Discernment Conference. Because of this conference, I won’t be posting either a Saturday Sampler or a Sunday Hymn next weekend. I apologize for any inconvenience.

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Saturday Sampler: September 23 — September 28

Spiral-based Florish

Everything you need to know about social media memes  can be learned from Michelle Lesley in her post, Memeology 101. It’s somewhat lighthearted, yet it offers helpful guidelines for reading and sharing memes.

In her blog, Growing 4 Life, Leslie A contrasts Real Christianity with cultural Christianity. I love the way she bases everything on the Word of God.

Women, as well as men, gave their lives as martyrs as a result of the Reformation. Lady Jane Grey, for example, was beheaded for refusing to participate in the Roman Catholic Mass. Christina of Heavenly Springs shares Lady Jane Grey’s Letter to Her Sister on the Eve of Her Execution as a tribute to the Word of God. You might also read Encouragement from a Reformers Wife. The ladies of the 16th Century were definitely not wimps!

Writing for Parking Space 23,  Zach Putthoff lists 8 Truths About Speech & the Christian Life by drawing practical principles from James 2:2-12.

John Ellis often uses adayinhiscourt to say things that Christian adults don’t want to hear — but need to know. Youth Group Lock-Ins: Proof of Adults’ Naivety (or Their Bad Memory) isn’t a  comforting article, but parents really ought to read it.

Let’s have a second post from Michelle Lesley. Throwback Thursday – Wise to the Ways of the Worldly: 4 Ways Worldliness Sneaks In, and the Scriptures to Slay It may not be  as fun as Memeology 101, but every one of us needs its message.

As a contributor to The Cripplegate, Jesse Johnson walks us through 3 steps to understanding a tricky passage (cf. John 20:23). Employing these steps might help you develop godly discernment, thereby strengthening you against false teaching.

Do you know How to hear God’s voice 100% of the time? If  not, consider Elizabeth Prata’s essay in The End Time as a helpful guide to discerning when He is speaking. I can guarantee that, if you follow her counsel — which she borrows from Chris Rosebrough — you’ll never struggle to discern God’s voice again.

Note: next Saturday Justin Peters will be at First Baptist Church Weymouth (where John and I are members) leading a Discernment Conference. Because of this conference, I won’t be posting either a Saturday Sampler or a Sunday Hymn next weekend. I apologize for any inconvenience.

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Flashback Friday: Full Bellies — Starving For Truth

Originally published February 23, 2016:

At The Cross“No one wants to hear about God’s wrath,” the young pastor explained to my friend. Then he added, “We help the poor in our community as a demonstration of His love.”

Look, I have nothing against helping the poor. In fact, if more  churches provided such services, less of us would be forced to rely on government programs. So as you read this essay, please don’t misunderstand me as saying that Christians shouldn’t care for the needs of those less fortunate than themselves. Yet I believe we must keep practical ministry secondary to our primary commission to declare the Gospel.

And whether we like it or not, declaring the Gospel first necessitates telling people that they’re sinners who deserve God’s wrath. I agree with the young pastor that no one enjoys hearing about their sin, nor do they like being confronted with the fact that their sin consigns them to an eternity in hell. And Christians don’t relish the duty of proclaiming that part of the Gospel message, if you want to know the truth.

But, dear sisters in the Lord, we don’t get to pick and choose what aspects of the Gospel we present in our evangelism. As ambassadors of Christ, we bear the responsibility to tell people the Gospel in its entirety, aware that we represent Him rather than ourselves.

18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ~~2 Corinthians 5:18-21 (ESV)

If we offer a message of reconciliation to God, we must begin by helping people understand that such a reconciliation indeed needs to take place. Most non-Christians and Christians-in-name-only simply don’t believe that God takes their sin seriously enough to send them to hell. They may admit that they’ve done some bad things here and there, but they reassure themselves that the good they’ve done outweighs the bad. Consequently, all our talk about Jesus showing His love by dying in their place strikes them as absurd until we show them that they’ve offended a holy God.

The beauty of God’s love shines through the fact that Jesus willingly shed His blood on the cross, bearing His Father’s fury over the sin that you and I committed. That act, more than anything else, epitomizes His love.

It’s wonderful when churches run soup kitchens and pregnancy resource centers. And praise God for missionaries who dig wells and build orphanages. But when people deliberately repress part of the Gospel in order to attract people to their services, they no longer represent the Lord. Leave humanitarian work to secular agencies unless you do it in a way that offers people the eternal hope of Jesus Christ.

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A Lesson In Using Scripture To Practice Discernment

Beth Moore knows how to use Twitter to keep herself in the limelight, evidently. On Tuesday September 24, she came out with an interesting Twitter thread:

Beth Moore deification of Paul Tweet

If she hadn’t written that third tweet, she would have been pretty much fine.  Her last sentence in the second tweet was perhaps a little snide, but most people probably would have let it slide. To her detriment, however, Continue reading

Have You Ever Been Angry At God?

Experience Bible“God has big shoulders. He can handle your anger.”

Several times, people have used that rationale to encourage my feelings of anger towards the Lord. I don’t know if this concept comes from so-called Christian psychology (it seems altogether likely), but I  absolutely believe we must reject it.

Of course I empathize when people experience such anger. During John’s cancer, I even confessed to friends that I had feelings of hatred towards the Lord. As I think back on the time that I lacerated my throat by yelling at Him, I have compassion for others who go through similar outrage. I know the pain of hearing about His sovereignty and therefore feeling helpless to influence His will. So as you read this article, please don’t mistake me as being callous to your frustrations.

Having said that I empathize with anger towards God, I must say as gently as I Continue reading

Getting Good Teaching By Clicking Your Mouse

Tulip Bible

My heart rejoices that John and I were providentially led to a church that features strong expositional preaching. That same heart breaks when I hear of people who don’t have access to such a church. While I strongly encourage people in situations like this to find churches as close to sound doctrine as possible, I’d like to recommend some online resources to Continue reading