Saturday Sampler: May 15 — May 21

Paul Tautgus begins our week’s collection with You Were Chosen by the Father in Counseling One Another. His brief study of Ephesians 1:14 is so much more than an academic exercise in theology, however, and it most assuredly isn’t dry! The closing paragraph brings it all home in an encouraging and uplifting way.

Don’t miss The Center of the Universe by Clint Archer in The Cripplegate. He continues his series on Christ’s nature and deity with amazing examples. As last week, this installment not only provides solid theology, but it inspires awe and worship of our wonderful Lord!

How do you know you can trust what I write in this blog? Hopefully, you check it against Scripture. In her essay, Paul: What does it mean to be a Berean?, Elizabeth Prata of The End Time takes us back to the account of Paul’s ministry in Berea to show us how the people there verified his preaching. It’s great instruction on how we should filter whatever teaching we encounter.

Reprising an article from June 22, 2018, Michelle Lesley wants to know: Is the SBC’s Tent Big Enough for ALL Marginalized Christian Women? I understand that not all my readers are Southern Baptists, but the problems she outlines here extend to other denominations and even non-denominatial churches. The women Michelle references indeed suffer marginalization. Will churches and denominations listen to the concerns we have?

We’re All Against Abortion, So We Shouldn’t Fight Each Other

13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. ~~Galatians 5:13-15 (NASB95)

Maybe my memory deceives me. If any of you were involved in the pro-life movement prior to 1987, I’d welcome your correction if I remember things wrongly. I’m about to make an assertion based on my personal recollections of being in pro-life ministry, and I know full well that people who usually agree with me will adamantly oppose my convictions on this matter. I’m therefore open to hearing correction from people of my generation who fought to save unborn lives.

As I remember those early years when Francis Schaeffer and Dr. C. Everett Koop galvanized evangelicals to oppose abortion, infanticide and euthanasia with their film series, What Ever Happened To The Human Race?, I recall our unwillingness for any compromise. We understood the urgency of overturning Roe v. Wade. Precious babies were being slaughtered, and we needed to stand against laws that permitted such evil. We had no time to waste, and we wouldn’t settle for anything less than complete abolition of this horrible practice!

After several years of seeing absolutely nothing happen, we began to consider incremental steps to stopping abortion. Make no mistake — we continued praying for the total eradication of abortion, but we believed our all or nothing approach actually retarded our efforts. We decided that victory is best won by winning small battles first.

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Saturday Sampler: May 8 — May 14

Why didn’t I post each of the essays on those women of the Middle Ages who gained celebrity as mystics that Elizabeth Prata wrote in The End Time last week? She wrote five of them (including an introduction), which would have dominated Saturday Sampler and excluded the other fine articles I wanted to feature. But she opens Medieval mystics: Conclusion with links to all the previous installments in the series. If you’re too busy to read them, she has a podcast where she reads each essay, so you can listen while driving or doing chores.

Many evangelicals think doctrine is boring and irrelevant. Clint Archer’s Meeting your Maker: Christ & Creation defies that erroneous assumption by showing Christ’s relationship with creation and how false religions distort that relationship. This post, if properly understood and applied, will do more than equip you to answer heresy; it will enhance your adoration of the Lord Jesus Christ!

In Growing 4 Life, Leslie A shares insights on The Apostate Church with a helpful history on how the visible church declined over the past century or so. She includes interesting observations and encouragement toward a Biblical response to the situation. I suggest reading her article in conjunction with Elizabeth Prata’s Can you be an ‘ex-Christian’? for a fuller understanding of apostasy.

Jason A. Carter contributes to the Reformation 21 blog with his analysis of Two Temptations for the Post-Covid Church. I hope his article will help you avoid both spiritual heart failure and spiritual nerve failure.

I greatly appreciate Tim Challies for writing Keys To Knowing God’s Will for Your Life this week. If Christians would simply follow the Biblical principles that he lays out, they could significantly reduce the anxiety they feel about major life decisions.

Some people erroneously teach that baptism is necessary in order to be saved. Tedd Mathis of tedddmathisdotcom muses On Baptism and Acts 2:38 with evidence from the Bible that baptism can in no way be a prerequisite to receiving God’s forgiveness. Take a few moments to read this brief but helpful study.

Most of us struggle to “set our minds on things above” as Colossians 3:1-2 commands. Andrew Kerr, in his column for Gentle Reformation, paints a picture of True Heavenly-Mindedness for us to consider. Heavenly-Mindedness might be more down-to-earth than you think.

Continuing his series on the proper use of commentaries on the Knowable Word blog, Peter Krol asks Which Voice Delights You Most? I absolutely recommend this post as probably the heart of this entire series. Please don’t overlook this wonderful and encouraging discussion of where commentaries fit in to healthy Bible study.

Wanting God To Talk Less About Himself And More About Me

The person quite agreed:

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. ~~2 Peter 1:2-4 (NASB95)

Absolutely, he said — Scripture tells us everything we need to know about God. In that respect, he said, we need no further revelation. Most definitely, we can affirm the sufficiency of Scripture. But he clung to the popular idea that God speaks to people directly, giving personal guidance on decisions like which car to buy or whether to change jobs. In his mind, Christians can’t make these types of decisions unless the Lord speaks to them specifically. The thought that God speaks only through Scripture was simply unthinkable.

As I contemplated his position, I realized that this person cared more about having God talk about relatively inconsequential details of his life than about knowing Who God is and how to honor Him. Scripture wasn’t enough for him because it focuses on the Lord rather than on our daily lives.

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An Unexpected Perk Of Disability

When the phone rang before 6:30 a.m. Monday, I knew my PCA was calling out. She had a serious family emergency that required her presence. I’d been without a regular PCA all weekend, and spent Sunday in bed to accommodate my girlfriend’s Mother’s Day schedule (I deeply appreciate her for filling in on Mother’s Day to keep me clean), so I felt a little disappointed Monday. It took until 10:30 to locate a backup PCA.

Usually, situations like this make me grumble. Since I can’t use my hands, being in bed means I can’t type or read. John has to call around for backup help because I can’t operate a phone. I just lie in bed, aware that I’m physically as helpless as a newborn baby.

Times when PCAs call out or just plain don’t show up remind me of my total dependence on other women. Instead of congratulating myself on my writing and artistic abilities, my days stuck in bed confront me with the actual extent of my disability.

Those confrontations are an answer to prayer.

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Saturday Sampler: May 1 — May 7

One of my favorite memories from my three months in Wales is visiting the ruins of a 12th Century castle. So Like a Ruined Castle by Tim Challies caught my eye. Challies makes a marvelous analogy between castles and the state of humanity.

We’ve all encountered Jehovah’s Witnesses, and most of us (if not all of us) have fumbled and stuttered as a result of their verbal gymnastics. Thankfully The Cripplegate features Christology for Visitors by Clint Archer to help us use Colossians 1:15 to show Scripture’s presentation of Christ’s deity. This post is a handy resource for dealing with anyone who tries to deny that Jesus is God. I’ve bookmarked it on my computer for further study — you might want to do the same.

Sharing her discoveries on That Elusive Contentment, Leslie A of Growing 4 Life tackles an issue common to women. With her typical transparency, Leslie begins by confessing her own battle with a chore she doesn’t enjoy, testifying that God used her daughter to adjust her attitude. She then takes us to the Bible and leads us in applying it to our struggles with discontentment.

Denny Burk makes a careful analysis on Overturning Roe and the Attempt To Delegitimize SCOTUS that we really ought to read. Obviously, we’ll have to keep praying until abortion is totally abolished. Still, Burk’s words help us understand where we are in this battle to save unborn children.

Even if you don’t have children, check out Beautiful Motherhood: A Mother’s Day Bible Study by Michelle Lesley. Her studies don’t spoon feed women, so plan to budget time to work through her questions. You’ll learn a few things that could enhance your mothering capabilities.

Please read It was never an option on the Flawed and Faithful blog. It’s a moving and tender testimony of one mother’s courageous choice to put her children before her own convenience.

On Counseling One Another, Paul Tautgus enumerates Ten Reasons We Should Pray for the End of Legalized Abortion. He supports all ten points with the Word of God, including his concluding one emphasizing God’s compassion toward those who have participated in this evil. If you’re not convinced that abortion must be abolished, I hope you’ll prayerfully consider his arguments.

Continuing his series on using Bible commentaries, Peter Krol of Knowable Word cautions us that The First Commentator to Plead His Case doesn’t necessarily have the right definitive understanding of the passage he exposits. Find out why reading a plurality of commentaries gives us a healthier approach to studying God’s Word.

The Irony Of Wanting Abortion Rights As We Celebrate Mother’s Day

Roe v. Motherhood

Tuesday night Fox News kept showing footage of angry protesters (mostly young women in less than modest attire) outside the Supreme Court building demanding that the justices not overturn Roe v. Wade. I wasn’t really surprised, but I still felt sad that they couldn’t understand that abortion takes the lives of the most vulnerable and innocent human beings. I also felt angered by their obvious selfishness. Essentially, they want sexual pleasure without its consequential responsibilities.

How odd to watch such a display mere days before Mother’s Day. Does anyone else see the irony of it? The commercials bookending shots of the protesters showed airbrushed images of devoted mothers who clearly cherished their children, urging fathers to buy them roses, chocolate and jewelry as tokens of appreciation. The mothers in the commercials clearly glowed with joy over the privilege of having brought little lives into the world. How different from the young women outside the Supreme Court who demanded to destroy their children before those children were even born!

Motherhood sometimes is inconvenient and difficult, certainly. Airbrushed commercials neglect to mention the countless sacrifices women make in order to bear and raise children. Please understand that I don’t ignore the truth that moms go through a lot of hardships and disappointments. Perhaps many of those protesters fear the challenges of motherhood precisely for those reasons. But, while I don’t want to minimize the downside of being a mom, I think it’s important to remember what Scripture teaches about children.

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Can Childless Women Enjoy Mother’s Day?

She couldn’t face hearing the Mother’s Day sermon that year. Her doctors had confirmed a few months earlier that they had no treatment for her type of infertility. Adoption agencies insisted that her husband was too old for them to adopt. So she spent that Mother’s Day (and subsequent Mother’s Days) curled up in her bed, weeping over the children she’d never have.

She and her husband were, for many years, two of my closest friends, so I sympathized with their grief as they sympathized with my grief over being unmarried. I had avoided weddings in earlier years, so I well understood why Mother’s Day services would exacerbate her pain. Even now, I believe we should be patient and compassionate toward our sisters in Christ who struggle with infertility because I watched such a special friend suffer so deeply.

And I admit to having mixed feelings now, as many of my friends have become grandmothers. I get tempted toward jealousy when my sister talks about her adventures with her grandchildren. It’s strange, but I feel more upset about not being a granny than about not being a mom. Will someone explain that one to me?

The apostle Paul instructs us to weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). How often I wish that more Christians would obey that command, especially around their childless sisters on Mother’s Day. Many pastors preach on the glories of motherhood, which is good in our culture that demeans stay-at-home moms. But those sermons, while important, can make childless women feel like failures. Therefore, we must show sensitivity to them, especially on Mother’s Day!

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Saturday Sampler: April 24 – April 30

Leslie A published The Sick Toddler on Growing 4 Life late last Saturday, so I decided to sneak it into this week’s curation. We all need this wake up call to take spiritual medicine, even (or perhaps especially) when it’s distasteful.

Taking on a popular idiom, Ryan Higginbottom of Knowable Word writes Context Matters: My Cross to Bear. American culture has really watered down that idea of bravely suffering, and Ryan brings us back to Jesus’ original intent in saying His followers must take up our crosses. The true meaning of the maxim isn’t as comforting as many people suppose.

Present-day women’s ministry looks vastly different from how women in the New Testament ministered, according to The End Time author Elizabeth Prata. She demonstrates her point in Women’s ministries then and now, using gentle humor and a good grasp on God’s Word.

Do you ever wonder about the spiritual armor Paul describes in his Ephesians 6? If so, read Clothed in the Armor of Christ by Cindy Matson at Bible Study Nerd for a wonderful look at this famous passage. You might be a little surprised at Cindy’s perspective on the topic, but think about it. That’s all she asks.

I’ve been reading Flawed and Faithful for a number of weeks, and I like what I see! Her recent article, Why The Law of Attraction is Demonic, gives a clear warning against popular philosophies that promise power over circumstances. As someone who toyed with the occult and New Age teachings before I came to Christ, I appreciated this sound counsel. Even if you’ve never been tempted in this direction, the information she supplies can be useful as you witness to people.

Over at excatholic4christ, Tom reminds us that Sanctimonious dumbness is at best a poor evangelistic strategy. His words make me think about some of the things I post on Twitter. As I recall, Jesus never condoned self-righteous attitudes or behavior.

Easter may be over, but we can continue drawing insight from the Resurrection narrative. For example, Andrew Kerr writes Dispelling Unbelief in Gentle Reformation to explain why people reject the Gospel so easily and what we can do to encourage them toward faith.

I know I’ve already shared one essay by Elizabeth Prata this week, but Satan is a good counterfeiter fits so well with Andrew Kerr’s post that I couldn’t justify neglecting to include it. As an added bonus, you could use the Scriptures Elisabeth gives to start your own topical Bible Study on Satan. I’d guess that such a study would ultimately teach you more about God’s truth.

Throwback Thursday: Let Me Count the Ways: 75 Ways Women Can Biblically Minister to Others by Michelle Lesley comes amid increasing debate on Twitter. Even women who once held solid Biblical positions have migrated to the egalitarian camp, demanding that churches elevate women to authority. Michelle thankfully brings us back to reality by listing ministries that women can do without violating God’s Word.

SlimJim of The Domain for Truth lets us peek at some preliminary notes he’s taken in preparation for a sermon he’ll preach in the future. In these notes, he points to the truth that Prayer is mightier than the Sword as he reflects on Exodus 17:8-16. You’ll get helpful teaching on prayer, but also a glimpse into the hard work pastors do to bring us God’s Word each Sunday. Maybe his article will even inspire you to pray for your own pastor.

Flashback Friday: What Can I Say About The Gospel That Hasn’t Already Been Said?

Originally Published June 21, 2019:

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Lately, evangelicals have been telling us that social justice is a “Gospel issue.” A recent comment on one of my blog posts suggested that the Gospel teaches us to have unity despite theological differences (a point worthy of its own article). These sentiments, as well as similar sentiments I’ve heard throughout the years,  prompt me to think that we need periodic reminders of what the Gospel actually is.

Most of you may decide not to read this article. Why waste time reading about something so basic? Do I have new insights into the Gospel? Perhaps a fresh take on it? Can I present it in a creative manner that makes it more interesting? More relevant?

No, I can’t. As a matter of fact, adding to the Gospel would lead me to damnation (Galatians 1:8). I have no interest in dressing it up for the purpose of making it more appealing and/or entertaining.

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