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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Shall We Reduce Scripture To Ashes?

Untitled-1For the past few years, I’ve groaned a little on Ash Wednesday. Not in anticipation of giving up something for Lent — I have never observed Lent and will never observe it. I groan at the thought of evangelicals observing such an unbiblical practice.

As I explained in a blog post I wrote two years ago, “my objection to Lent boils down to the same problem I have with Roman Catholicism in general: it rejects the sufficiency of Christ’s finished work on the cross. For all the talk of Lent enhancing our devotion to Him and drawing us to deeper repentance, we can’t escape its emphasis on human good works. As usual, the attention shifts from what Christ did for us to what we credit ourselves as doing to earn His favor.”

That deviation from  the sufficiency of Christ’s atoning work on the cross is the most disturbing aspect of Lent, of course. But there’s another aspect that is closely Continue reading

Needing Prayer Again

The woman we hired as our morning PCA just wasn’t working out. She was uncomfortable with how we do  things because it goes against her CNA training. I guess she doesn’t understand that PCA work is different from CNA work. I think I picked up on her nervousness, which in turn made me nervous.
To make a long story short, we decided it wouldn’t work out. As she left she threatened to report us to the CNA board (she didn’t specify which she would report, but said we did something illegal). Of course the CNA board has no jurisdiction over the PCA program — so it was an empty threat.  Our case manager at Boston Center for Independent Living assured us that we’ve done nothing wrong. Still, it rattled my cage a bit.
Another person interviewed for the position, so I emailed her offering her the position. Please pray that we’ll get a suitable person who will cooperate with us. We know God is sovereign, but sometimes it’s hard aligning our emotions with the Word of God. Please pray for my struggles with anxiety. Also pray that God will be glorified in this mess.

Keys To Discernment: A Portrait Of The Real Jesus

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False teaching invariably attacks, perverts or (at the very least) distorts the nature of Jesus Christ. Beth Moore, for example, reduces Him to a romantic playmate Who speaks directly to her and is “the bossiest thing.” For proper discernment, therefore, Christians must possess an accurate understanding of Christ’s nature.

Over the past few weeks we studied Paul’s prayer for the Colossian church to be filled with knowledge, wisdom and understanding. We also studied the way God qualifies believers to share in His inheritance.  As we closed last week’s study, we shifted our attention from the Father to His Son, and Paul now picks up the discussion with Continue reading

The Lamb Who Shepherds His Flock

The Old Testament required that the priests sacrifice innocent lambs to atone for the sins of the people.  Currently, I’m reading Matthew’s Gospel, and yesterday I read about Christ’s final Passover meal with His disciples — a meal foreshadowing His sacrifice on the cross that next day. For all those centuries, Jewish priests had unknowingly pictured the Messiah as the Lamb Who would be slain as the ultimate sacrifice of atonement.

Jesus became the meek Lamb of God as He voluntarily allowed the jealous leaders of the Jews to wrongfully condemn Him. As the meek Lamb of God,  He permitted the Roman soldiers to verbally and physically abuse Him. And, as the meek Lamb of God, He sacrificed His life, shedding His precious blood to cleanse all who believe in Him.

Curiously, this Lamb calls Himself our Shepherd, guiding us with the rod and staff of Scripture as we learn His ways of meekness. Under the sanctifying influence of His Holy Spirit, we slowly but surely learn to be meek. We become His lambs.

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Saturday Sampler: February 16 — February 22

Untitled-1Amy Spreeman posted The State of the Conservative Christian Union from JeremyHoward.net on Facebook this week,  and I appreciate the way Mr. Howard explains the various parties under the Reformed umbrella. I bookmarked this article to my browser, and I recommend that you do the same.

Please read the Testimony from an ex-Beth Moore follower: Lessons about Jesus, But not Jesus Himself that Elizabeth Prata shares on The End Time. If any of you still don’t understand why we warn against Beth Moore so often, this testimony and Elizabeth’s subsequent comments should supply insight into our serious concerns about this popular false teacher.  This testimony demonstrates why she is so harmful.

Like Michelle Lesley, I’m tremendously troubled and concerned about the Southern Baptist Convention. If I wasn’t physically disabled, I’d be begging my pastors and elders to send me as a Messenger to Orlando this June. If you belong to an SBC church, read Arrive Prepared: Resources for Messengers to the 2020 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. Pray about attending as a Messenger. If, like me, you can’t attend, please pray for our denomination.

Over on The Tulips & Honey Hub, Gina Cook writes Through the Narrow: Accountability to encourage us about receiving correction. She makes important observations that challenge our pride — always a good thing.

If you really want to read something scandalous, go to Parking Space 23 and see what John Chester preached to elicit The Great Gasp from his congregation. This scandal is every bit as serious as calling out false teachers, and may actually explain why evangelicals embrace false teachers in the first place.

L. Dorman, contributing to Conservative Resurgence: Voices, writes Women Preachers in the Southern Baptist Convention: But Wait, There’s Moore (Part 2) as a clear example of the eroding fidelity to Scripture threatening the SBC. And those of you who aren’t in SBC churches should pay attention. This sort of compromise could easily infiltrate your churches too.

As someone who struggles with the sin of anger, I appreciate Melissa of Your Mom Has a Blog for encouraging her readers to Surrender Your Right to be Angry with Your Spouse. I would add, however, that her counsel applies to other relationships as well. Singles, God also holds you accountable for your anger towards those who wrong you.

Writing for Reformation 21, William Boekestein authors Join or Die? to emphasis the necessity of belonging to a local church body.

HT to Erin Benziger for leading me to Learning to Be Careful with the Name “False Teacher”by Lara d’Endtremont. Writing for Women Encouraged, this blog post brings needed balance to the world of discernment ministry — a world that can ironically lack a lot of discernment.

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