St. Patrick’s Breastplate

John and I listen to a variety of Christian podcasts and watch several Christian YouTube channels. I particularly enjoy Bruce Gore for his church history lectures. Bruce Gore isn’t a big Christian celebrity; he merely videotapes Adult Sunday School classes and classes he teaches in a Christian school. He’s informative and often amusing.

Last weekend, John and I watched Gore’s Sunday School class on St. Patrick. I’d heard and read about Patrick from other sources, so most of the information served as a refresher for me. He did add depth to the familiar narrative, most particularly in showing God’s hand in giving Patrick love and compassion for the very people who kidnapped and enslaved him.

But rather than focus solely on Patrick’s missionary work in Ireland, Gore wonderfully brought out Patrick’s love for Christ. As a matter of fact, Patrick clung to Christ as his breastplate Who shielded him.

But I was surprised when Gore said that Patrick wrote a hymn about Christ, which is sometimes referred to as The Breastplate of St. Patrick. When Gore mentioned that his church occasionally sings this hymn, I looked it up on YouTube. I love the way Patrick honored Christ in the lyrics. And what better hymn to post today?

 

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Saturday Sampler: March 10 — March 16

Massachusetts Town Flags

Town and city flags of Massachusetts displayed in the State House

When I started this blog in 2015, I could see that the church in America was headed for persecution. A lot of Christians see the same reality, including Mike Ratliff of Possessing the Treasure. His blog post, Even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness you are blessed, underscores what I’ve been saying all along.

Are You Living with a Misconception of Grace? Writing for Biblical Woman,  Sarah Bubar explores the effect our culture of entitlement has on how we understand the grace of God. She also explains grace from the Biblical standpoint.

She’s done it again! In One major way Christian self-help books damage you, Elizabeth Prata pulls back the cover to reveal a harmful evangelical practice. Ladies, this essay in The End Time deserves your attention!

Candidly admitting her struggles, Debi Martin of Sojourner Between Two Worlds shows us The Importance of Being in God’s Word. I’m currently reading through the Bible in 90 days as Debi did in 2012. It’s my second time doing it, and I highly recommend it.

I appreciate Erin Benziger’s devotional on The Sufficiency of the Word in Do Not Be Surprised. The worldliness permeating evangelicalism pressures people to settle for much less than God has given us.

Scripture delineates specific roles for women that the world considers oppressive. Thankfully, in an article for The Cripplegate, Eric Davis lists 10 Reasons Why the Bible Regards Women Higher than all Other Systems. I wish every evangelical (female and male) would read this one.

Yup, I struggle with reading my Bible too. So Throwback Thursday ~ The Mailbag: I love the Bible, but I have to force myself to read it by Michelle Lesley really reassures and  comforts me. She selects just the right Scriptures to make her case.

I’m not going to give away R. Scott Clark’s message in What Christians Can Learn From Drew Carey About Subverting Culture on the Abounding Grace Radio blog,  but I promise you that you won’t regret reading it. How do I know? I enjoyed reading it, and I’m far from being a Drew Carey fan.

Nick Batzig of Reformation 21 pleads for discernment ministries to strive for balance by writing A Horror of Theology. Bloggers especially need to consider the points he makes in order to avoid extremes that end up dishonoring the Lord.

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It’s Not About John Calvin

Blue Twirl Flip BorderChristians outside the Reformed tradition frequently accuse those of us who embrace Reformed Theology of following John Calvin rather than worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ.  Perhaps our willingness to accept the Calvinist label,  contrasted with their general unawareness that they follow the teachings of Jacobus Arminius, causes them to make this mistake.  And very few will call themselves Arminians.

Most often, Arminians simply don’t know how much of their theology derives from teachings that Arminius began. Yet accusing Arminians of following Jacobus Arminius instead of following their understanding of Scripture would be absolutely unfair, as well as showing an ignorance of church history. Just as Calvin’s approach to doctrine didn’t reach full development until the Synod of Dort, so the Five Articles of Remonstrance weren’t drafted until the year after Arminius died.

I disagree with the Five Articles of Remonstrance based on my understanding of the Bible, in much the same way that Christians in the Arminian camp disagree with the Five Points of Calvinism that the Synod of Dort developed in response to the Five Articles. Although I pretty much subscribed to Arminian thought (without knowing I was an Arminian) for over three decades, my Continue reading

I Say It, But I Struggle To Mean It

Teardrop RoseHow many blog posts have I written piously declaring that life is about God’s glory rather than about what He can do on our behalf?  How many times have I insisted He created us for His purposes, not so that we can treat Him like a cosmic Butler Who exists to attend our every want?

Most assuredly, Christian bloggers run the risk of being gigantic hypocrites. Apparently, this little blogger isn’t immune from that risk.

Life at the Kespert household has been inundated with serious trials and pesky frustrations over the past six months, with very few good days mixed in. Lately I’ve been praying for just one week without trials. But crossing that threshold from 64 to 65 has convinced me that Continue reading

Forgive — People Do Stupid Stuff

FortressA brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle. ~~Proverbs 18:19 (ESV)

We offend each other. Sometimes we even do it in pubic forums, telling ourselves that we merely want to get to the truth. And I’ll admit that some situations actually do  necessitate stepping on toes in order to reprove sin or confront false teaching.Even in those instances, however, we should do our best to be as gentle and winsome as possible.

Regardless of our motives or intentions, the fact remains that we will do stupid stuff to offend our brothers and sisters in Christ. When that happens (as it inevitability will), we shouldn’t be surprised if the person withdraws from us. Haven’t we withdrawn from people who have offended us? Of course we have!

Proverbs 18:19 brilliantly describes the defensive posture of someone who has suffered an offense. He understandably barricades his heart against further hurt, usually feeling betrayed and vulnerable. The thought of forgiveness seems far too overwhelming! So he fortifies himself against further perceived abuse.

Although we understand such self-protective instincts, the Bible Continue reading

When Separation Reveals A Lack Of Discernment

Voice Of God

Why do we embrace division at the slightest hint of disagreement, eager to assign black hats instead of extending charity to people who disagree with us on isolated matters?  Definitely, we must separate from those who seriously deviate from sound doctrine. I don’t advocate partnering  with folks like Beth Moore or Rick Warren. And I’m cautious of certain people in the Reformed camp who make multiple compromises that suggest a doctrinal slide.

To some extent, division is necessary, and even commanded in Scripture. 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 and 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 clearly instruct us to distance ourselves from those who walk in contradiction to the Gospel. Several other passages support this practice. If you read many discernment blogs (even the reputable ones), you’ve seen all the classic verses on this topic.

And I’ll go on record as Continue reading