Saturday Sampler: September 11 — September 17

Five Easter Babies

I wasn’t going to read Erin Benziger’s Remembering 9/11: Fifteen Years Later, God Is Still Sovereign in Do Not Be Surprised, but praise the Lord that I did! Her words are sobering and convicting, but also encouraging as they exalt God’s providence and sovereignty.

In a similar vein, Ligon Duncan writes PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE — Should Christians Worry in These Times? for Mississippi Christian Living.  Appealing to 14th Century history, he helps us see how God used calamities like the Black Death to set the stage for the Reformation. History can deepen our appreciation of God’s sovereign providence.

In a brief Bible Reflection, Mark McIntyre of Attempts at Honesty shows us how Obedience, trembling and embracing characterize a healthy relationship with the Lord.

Please, if you have any inclination to use Scripture as a means of self-improvement, consider Elizabeth Prata’s essay, Why the therapeutic gospel is another gospel, in her blog, The End Time. Evangelicals have played with psychology far too long, and it’s led us to develop a gospel much different from the Gospel of the Bible.

In his blog post, These Words Shall Be On Your Heart, Gabe Hughes addresses Andy Stanley’s infamous assertion that “we need to take the spotlight off the Bible.” Pastor Hughes reminds us that the Word of God provides the very foundation of Christianity. At the end of his post, he lists further resources on various problems with recent statements Andy Stanley has made.

Eric Davis of The Cripplegate writes Decision Making & “I Have a Peace About It” to challenge the subjective approach many Christians take in determining what to do. He encourages us to trust the sufficiency of Scripture.  The very Scripture that tells us to battle against our flesh.

Rachel has returned to blogging at danielthree18, and her post, Theology Thursday: Psalm 46:5 helps Christian women correctly apply a popular, but widely misunderstood verse by putting it in context.

When Michelle Lesley gets riled up, look out! I’ve already shared Evangelical Misogyny and the Oppression of Christian Women on Twitter and The Outspoken TULIP  Facebook page, but I’m including it on the Sampler because it’s that important! Ladies, we don’t need fluffy “Bible studies” that dumb down the Word of God. Praise the Lord for women like Michelle who encourage us to eat the meat!

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No Quirks, No Fluff

Discernment BibleThis morning I received an email from a blogging group that I belong to, urging me to compose a blog post listing 10 “fun and quirky” facts about myself. Readers who know me personally are probably thinking (in reference to the “quirky” part), “Only ten?” Anyway, the point of the email was that writing such a post would boost my readership because people tend to like that sort of post.

I felt tempted.  What blogger, after all, doesn’t want a wider audience? Wouldn’t I love a following comparable to those that Erin Benziger, Elizabeth Prata and Michelle Lesley enjoy? Um…yeah! So I looked at the link to instructions on writing a “fun and quirky” blog post about myself,  nudging my mouse dangerously close to it. What harm would there be in reading their suggestions and perhaps writing a light-hearted article?

Probably none, really.

Except I had a light-hearted blog for nine years, and I abandoned it because times have been getting serious since Obergefell, and some Christians are already starting to face minor persecution. Many other professing Christians have adjusted their theology to embrace homosexuality and appeal to non-Christians (thereby filling their membership rolls and offering plates). People have fewer and fewer opportunities to get the grounding in God’s Word that could help them stand against the temptation to compromise with a world that hates the true Jesus and His Word.

We see this willingness to compromise very clearly in this latest controversy with Andy Stanley’s pronouncement that pastors should “take the spotlight off the Bible.” God’s Word can make us so uncomfortable by confronting sin and calling us to reject worldly desires and devices. Stanley, to be honest, merely gives voice to the very human distaste for Scripture and the equally human determination to have Jesus conform Himself to our expectations.

Yet a fluffy Christianity devoid of Biblical doctrine renders us powerless to withstand persecution. And my dear sisters in Christ, persecution is here, ready to separate genuine Christians from false converts. Jesus warned that building on foundations other than His Word would lead to disaster.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” ~~Matthew 7:21-27 (ESV)

My heart’s desire in writing The Outspoken TULIP  is to draw women back to Scripture in preparation for the persecution that the Obergefell decision has triggered. God’s Word gives us the bedrock for standing true to the Lord when everything in our culture (and indeed in our own flesh) cries out for us to reject God’s ways in favor of worldly ideologies. Therefore, I need to focus on blogging about it until my country’s government takes away my freedom to do so.

Writing about my various quirks would definitely entertain me, and perhaps it might attract renders. It would also cheapen this ministry by distracting people from the serious and important purpose of this blog. And wouldn’t that be a waste?

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Saturday Sampler: September 4 — September 10

bible-sampler

Responding to Andy Stanley’s recent suggestion that evangelical pastors should “take the spotlight off the Bible and back on the resurrection,” Josh Buice of Delivered By Grace argues, Andy Stanley — We Can’t Arrive at the Empty Tomb without a Bible. Buice demonstrates why Scripture provides the foundation for proclaiming the Gospel.

John turned 67 this past week, and I’ll turn 63 at the end of the month. Because we’re growing older, Donald Whitney’s article, Spiritual Disciplines and the Sinkhole Syndrome (on the Ligonier blog), cautions me against supposing that my “spiritual maturity” entitles me to ease up on personal prayer and Bible Study. Young people can also learn from this post.

Diane Bucknell, writing for Out of the Ordinary, explains why Contending for Old School Hermeneutics is essential in understanding and interpreting the Bible. Present-day evangelicals, who all too often approach God’s Word subjectively, would do well to consider her points.

Greg Koukl of Stand To Reason actually shows how to apply hermeneutics in his Soundbite of the Week: Does Jeremiah 29:11 Apply to Us Today? Praise the Lord for people like him who refuse to  force interpretations on Scripture that the Holy Spirit never intended.

Although Erik Raymond writes A Couple Phrases I Wish Preachers Would Stop Saying So Often specifically for pastors and Bible Study leaders, his piece in The Gospel Coalition Blog actually applies to all Christians. Subjectively is such a major problem among evangelicals today; let’s not exacerbate this problem by using popular, but careless, phraseology when we talk about the Lord.

How can I resist mentioning Elizabeth Prata’s convicting essay, Etiquette of meeting a monarch in The End Time? Evangelicals don’t often think of the Lord as King of kings and Lord of lords. Our first taste of heaven may be quite humbling!

Out of the Ordinary also features Kim Shay’s post, The whole sentence matters, which examines 1 Peter 5:7 in its context. Her blog post gives us a different, more accurate, perspective on this well-known Bible memory verse.

Continuing my unplanned (by me) theme of proper Bible interpretation, 4 Practical Guidelines for Reading Old Testament Stories by George H. Guthrie reminds us that overall context unlocks Scripture’s meaning.

Denny Burk’s post, They’ll never come after the church…until they do reminds me of my reasons for starting The Outspoken TULIP  14 months ago. Ladies, we live in a time of growing hostility to the Lord and His Word, and we must do all we can not to compromise with the world’s values. Knowing Scripture, and knowing it accurately, is essential as this spiritual warfare escalates. I beg you, read the Bible in context and apply it obediently, regardless of the cost. These perilous times call us to live for His honor.
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Discernment Or Tabloid Journalism?

Twisting ScriptureI haven’t blogged about any celebrity false teachers lately. Goodness knows, Andy Stanley has definitely provided plenty of opportunity with his now famous comment that “pastors should take the spotlight off the Bible and put it back on the resurrection.” As you might imagine, I have problems with Stanley’s remark, and would find it very easy to join the chorus of discernment bloggers who properly call Stanley to task on this latest gaffe.

I choose not to do so. At least not today. In the first place, so many other people have written about the incident that I don’t really have anything new or  noteworthy to contribute to the conversation. So Andy Stanley is once again promoting a seeker-sensitive philosophy in opposition to Biblical Christianity. Yawn. That’s hardly something new, ladies. If I wrote about all his antics in the past five years, I’d merely be rehashing things that more articulate bloggers have already told us. What would be the point?

More importantly, regurgitating all the evidence that indicts Andy Stanley just wouldn’t edify anyone right now. If, on the other hand, I wrote a post explaining why his statement flies in the face of  Biblical thought, I’d have legitimate reason to add my   voice to the discussion. Such an article will, as a matter of fact, appear in this week’s Saturday Sampler. But the fact that Andy Stanley needs public correction doesn’t necessarily mean that every discernment blogger has a moral responsibility to write about his faulty theology.

Having said all that, I most assuredly believe we need bloggers who will boldly call out false teachers and erroneous doctrines that infect the Church.

This past year,various bloggers have pulled back from engaging in discernment ministry, some from an honest conviction that they had participated in sensationalism and gossip when they should have been exalting the Lord Jesus Christ.  I respect their integrity, but I’ve noticed that they’ve inadvertently migrated to the camp that views discernment blogging with an attitude  of disdain. Consequently,  I fear that the pendulum may swing too far in the other direction.

Scripture makes it clear that, even though it’s shameful to speak of the works of darkness, Christians mustn’t shy away from that responsibility.

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. ~~Ephesians 5:6-12 (ESV)

Walking in the light obligates Christians to shine lights on false teachers like Andy Stanley, who mistakenly assert that we can celebrate Christ’s resurrection without the foundation of God’s Word. While we certainly must take pains to avoid a tabloid mentality simply to boost the number of people who read our posts, we must also bear in mind that even the best of churches are filled  with people who lack discernment.

This lack of discernment troubles me, and it should trouble you! If we fail to address it, we only add to the pollution that has crippled the church in various ways for 2,000 years. Perhaps our warnings against false teachers and false doctrines will fail to convince people who follow them, but that potential failure should not dissuade us from being obedient to speak the truth. Again, discernment bloggers should not gossip or rehash stories that have already been told by more reputable writers, but we must not go to the other extreme of saying nothing. Andy Stanley’s latest shenanigans warrant exposure. It’s only a matter of exposing him in a way that honors Christ.

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