Saturday Sampler: September 9 — September 15

Cinderella Sampler

In a guest post for Pyromaniacs, Darrell B. Harrison insists that God Has Spoken regarding how Christians must implement justice. Scripture speaks clearly to how we can live justly in this fallen world.

Do you remember how excited you were about Jesus when you first became a Christian? Elizabeth Prata invites us to think back to those days by Remembering our earliest grace in The End Time. She definitely provides wise counsel in this essay.

When the Holy Spirit helps us understand Scriptural principles, we naturally want to pass  those insights along. And that’s generally a good thing. But, as Leslie A of Growing 4 Life shows us, sometimes we need His wisdom on When to Stop Talking.

With compassion and fidelity to God’s Word, Michael Coughlin writes Do People Who Commit Suicide Go To Hell? as his contribution to the Things Above Us blog. You might appreciate his thought-provoking perspectives.

Look at Pilgrim Theology Versus Ethnic Theology by R. Scott Clark on The Heidelblog for a helpful understanding of why we must avoid classifying Christians by ethnicities.

It pleases me to recommend a second Elizabeth Prata post this week. The Truest Poverty Social Justice Can Never Cure brings us to the heart of the conversation. Isn’t it amazing how Scripture gives such clarity to a controversy?

John Ellis reviews Aimee Byrd’s controversial book on friendships between men and women for his personal blog, adayinhiscourt. Aimee Byrd Asks About Men and Women ‘Why Can’t We Be Friends?’ candidly examines the book’s strengths and weaknesses from a male perspective that few women really understand. We desperately need to consider the points Ellis makes.

Against the backdrop of suffering for Christ, Mike Ratliff studies 2 Timothy in Possessing the Treasure to remind us why we must Rekindle the Gift of God. He even uses the text to show us how to rekindle our spiritual gifts. As persecution increases against American Christians, Ratliff’s teaching is much needed.

Take a look at Colin L. Eakin’s article, When the Sunday Sermon Is Really Demon Doctrine, in Pyromaniacs. Dr. Eakin highlights the desperate need for Biblical discernment in evangelical churches today.

Speaking of discernment, Michelle Lesley takes us back to the fundamentals of it with Basic Training: Being Berean — 8 Steps for Comparing Teaching to Scripture. Even if you excel at discernment, her principles might serve as a helpful refresher.

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Saturday Sampler: August 5 — August 11

Ryan Higginbottom of Knowable Word helps us Overcome Common Excuses for Not Studying the Bible. I needed this little kick in the pants. Do you?Victoria Painting

Have you ever been called a judgmental hypocrite for contending for the faith? I have. Recently, in fact! So I appreciate The Natural Man, the visible Church, and telling the truth by Mike Ratliff of Possessing the Treasure. If you need encouragement to stand on  God’s Word, this is your article.

It doesn’t matter if someone we witness to claims to reject the Bible’s authority. God’s Word continues to be the means that the Holy Spirit uses to give people saving faith. In keeping with that truth, Jordan Standridge’s latest item in The Cripplegate shows us 3 Bible Passages to Study with Unbelievers that could help us in our evangelism efforts. As usual, Standridge writes with a Scriptural clarity that we desperately need.

It’s been a while since Lisa Morris has written on Conforming to the Truth, but she’s Michele Smithback!  Her study, Patience The Heart The Tongue and Our Love instructs us in applying the fruit of patience. I like her practical approach to this discipline. Welcome back, Lisa!

Douglas Wilson has been writing a chapter-by-chapter review of Aimee Byrd’s disturbing book, Why Can’t We Be Friends? on his blog, Blog & Mablog. I don’t want to feature each post in his series on Saturday Sampler, but Gaaa! Jezebel! definitely deserves attention. Of particular note is his reference to the Revoice Conference. The comparison between Aimee’s book and the conference had never occurred to me, but it really makes a lot of sense!

If you’re a mom sending your child off to college this month, warn your child to be careful about campus fellowship groups. Garrett O’Hara, in his contribution to Things Above Us, writes Extrabiblical Revelation: Being Chained to the Ocean Floor as an example of mysticism creeping into even non-Charismatic organizations at colleges and betty-portrait-painteduniversities.

In Getting “Unhitched” from the Old Testament? Andy Stanley Aims at Heresy, Albert Mohler evaluates Stanley’s latest controversial remarks through both Scripture and church history. This blog post underscores the important role of church history in exercising discernment concerning current problems in evangelical circles.

Responding to a question from a reader, C.T. Adams writes Question 34: How does one judge the fruits of others without being judgmental? in Faith Contender. This one might sting a little, just as any good antiseptic should, but it’s wonderfully cleansing. If you do any level of discernment ministry, I encourage you to Kristy Culverhouseconsider the admonition in this piece.

Feminism makes demands. Women want power that creates equality with men, evidently. Blogging in The End Time, Elizabeth Prata offers thoughts On empowerment from a Biblical perspective.

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Saturday Sampler: April 29 — May 5

IMG_1982In the bizarre atmosphere of 21st Century culture, commonsense essays can refresh the spirit.  Garbage In… Garbage Out by SharaC of Into the Foolishness of God looks at a postmodern contradiction and its Biblical solution.

Offering encouragement though  How Do We Overcome the Fear of Evangelism in Unlocking the Bible, Denise (no surname given) directs our attention to Scriptural attitudes concerning witnessing. Her article challenges us, but it also reassures us of the Lord’s commitment to help us carry out the Great Commission.

An Unpleasant and Unpopular Truth appears in Leslie A’s blog, Growing 4 Life as a challenge to examine our lives. A mere profession of Christ, remember, doesn’t necessarily mean that genuine conversion has taken place.

IMG_2004As a lesson in discernment, Elizabeth Prata of The End Time writes a thought-provoking Book Review: America’s beloved novel, “Christy” to examine the theology inherent in the popular book. Kudos to Elizabeth for daring to review such a well-loved book with such candor and balance.

Clint Archer, in his contribution to The Cripplegate, reinforces what is Of First Importance: What will be on the test when we die? Those of you participating in my new Monday Bible Study series on 1 Corinthians 15 should especially appreciate this article.

As long as you’re reading The Cripplegate, check out What Pope Francis Should Have Said to Emanuele. I always enjoy Jordan Standridge’s writing; this piece may help you understand why I’m such a huge fan of his work.

IMG_1992As Christians, we must make careful distinctions in our language, and we must hold our critics to those distinctions. In Dear Media: Please Distinguish Conversion from Conversion Therapy, Denny Burk demonstrates the importance of defining terms by  citing the conversion of a gentleman who survived the terror attack on the Pulse nightclub.

Religious OCD or Scrupulosity by Fred DeRuvo at Study – Grow – Know juxtaposes the troubling methods of psychology against Biblical counseling.  Please, if you still can’t see the dangers of psychology, read Fred’s piece and seriously consider the points he raises.

Would I recommend a blog post simply because the illustration favors the Boston Red Sox? No. Peter Krol’s Context Matters: the Faith Hall of Fame in Knowable Word merits recognition for its skilled handling of Hebrews 11 in and of itself. But I admit that the homage to the Boston Red Sox doesn’t bother me a bit!

All photos taken May 2, 2018 at Boston Public Garden by John Kespert

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Saturday Sampler: February 11 — February 17

Umbrella Sampler

Psychology has no place in the church, as Leslie A of Growing 4 Life shows us in What Should I Look for in a Biblical Counselor? It encourages me to see more Christians speaking up about the dangers of “Christian” psychology.

In addition to my own trials lately, I’ve watched a friend suffer through her husband’s terminal cancer. So Sarah Walton’s article, Why the Church Needs Suffering in Unlocking the Bible, refreshes my perspective by bringing me back to Scriptures and principles that I’d all but forgotten. See whether or not her words benefit you.

Reprising her March 3, 2017 blog post, Michelle Lesley of Discipleship for Christian Women lists 40 Things to Give Up for Lent. Number 1 is my personal favorite. What’s yours? Use my Comments Section to tell me.

I’m not the only blogger to reprise her article about the Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy.  Erin Benziger of Do Not Be Surprised also resurrects  the article she wrote three years ago. Erasing the Grey definitely deserves your attention!

Those of you who are moms will appreciate Scott Slayton’s When You Lose Your Temper With Your Children on One Degree to Another. Even aunts and people in ministries to children can benefit from Slayton’s godly counsel. As a matter of fact, anyone with anger issues should apply the principles to all their interactions with children and adults.

In a second post written for Unlocking the Bible, Judy Allen suggests Five Questions to Ask About Entertainment. Each question has a corresponding Scripture to help us evaluate the media we consume in ways that honor the Lord.  I love the way she challenges us to think of what we read, watch and do in terms of spiritual merit.

Assisted suicide is not a pretty topic, but it’s something Christians will need to address. Jen Oshman discusses Five Reasons for Assisted Suicide (And Crucial Responses to Each One) to help us navigate conversations with those who honestly think this practice is a humane way to deal with human suffering.

The aggressive movement of the LBGTQ community has serious ramifications for Christians, as Is it okay for the state to take your child away because you won’t affirm his transgender feelings? by Denny Burk demonstrates.  I struggled over whether or not to include such a dark article in Saturday Sampler, but decided that I created The Outspoken TULIP to prepare women for the persecution that knocks at the door of the Western church. Therefore I believe it necessary to draw your attention to this matter. Scenarios like the one Burk narrates will only increase. We must prepare for them.

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Saturday Sampler: December 10 — December 16

Snowmen Sampler

SharaC, who blogs at Into the Foolishness of God already looks forward to the new year in her article, Cheers To The Simple Things. She has a fresh alternative to those pesky New Years Resolutions that none of us keep anyway.

How much do you know about pearls? The End Time author Elizabeth Prata shows us their value in New Testament times, as well as why they held such high value, in her magnificent essay, Pearls in the New Testament. Not only does Elizabeth inform us, but she fills us with wonder at God’s intricacies.

I’ve got to agree with Tim Challies as he identities the 5 Most Ridiculous Books to Ever Become Christian Bestsellers. Whether you watch the short video or read the transcript, you’ll see clear examples of discernment as Challies examines these popular, but woefully unbiblical, pieces of evangelical literature.

Pope Francis, eager to protect God’s reputation (doncha know), wants to change the English translation of The Lord’s Prayer from “lead us not into temptation” to “do not let us fall into temptation.” Denny Burk writes Is the Pope right about the Lord’s Prayer? to raise the possibility that the pope’s modification may actually undercut confidence in the sovereignty of God.

In a study of Romans 12:1-2, Judy Allen gives us A Lesson from Paul on Transformation on the Unlocking the Bible blog. Her brief, but comprehensive, study takes the mysticism out of God’s transforming work in Christians.

Erin Benziger’s series on “acceptable” sins in Do Not Be Surprised has certainly convicted me! Now she concludes it with The Cure for ‘Acceptable’ Sins by directing us back to the reasons for God’s grace and His wonderful ability to transform us. If you’ve read any articles in this outstanding series, please avail yourself of this capstone piece.

Growing 4 Life by Leslie A. always delivers gems such as Enjoying the Ride. Leslie narrates her recent misadventure of a family outing (what could go wrong looking at Christmas lights?), and finds a splendid application to remind us of God’s sovereignty.

Although I’m still in the process of vetting Fred Deruvo, I’ve pretty much agreed with his articles on his Study – Grow – Know blog. In Knowing God’s Will: Focusing on God or Satan?, Deruvo discusses the practice of deliverance ministry from a Biblical perspective. His insights are so needed in today’s evangelical circles.

Evangelicals, and particularly Reformed evangelicals, are grieving the loss of R.C. Sproul this past Thursday. At the same time, we rejoice that Dr. Sproul is in the Lord’s presence. Naturally, many people are publishing tributes to him on the Internet. I can’t begin to read them all, but I hope you’ll read John MacArthur’s post, R.C. Sproul, on the Grace To You blog.

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Please Don’t Believe Discernment Ministries Without Doing Your Homework

Shadow Bible

A few years ago, people started questioning whether or not self-proclaimed discernment bloggers, as well as those who do discernment podcasts, were really as discerning as we claimed to be. At first, I really didn’t appreciate such doubts. Frankly, I liked the feeling of being “in the know” about false teachers and errors in evangelical circles. I didn’t want anyone telling me to be careful about what I wrote.

I was contending for the faith and being a good Berean as I tipped sacred cows. So were the bloggers I followed. God was, I believed, pleased with my efforts to uphold His Word in the face of growing apostasy and compromise among evangelicals. So calling discernment ministry into question pretty much threatened me.

But before you suppose I now stand against all discernment ministry, take a deep breath. I still grieve over many ways that evangelicals deviate from sound doctrine, and I definitely believe many popular teachers need to be clearly exposed and rebuked. I stand by Elizabeth Prata on her exhaustive research on Beth Moore, I value Michelle Lesley’s compilation of false teachers and I appreciate Leslie A’s series on developing discernment skills. I hope you’ll avail yourselves of each of these excellent resources.

However, over the past six months I’ve noticed serious problems with several discernment podcasts and blogs popular with segments of the discernment crowd. At this writing, I’d prefer not to name names for a variety of reasons. In particular, doing so would promote gossip rather than edify my readers, especially because I’m just beginning to collect my thoughts on these matters.

All the social media bickering between these parties disheartens me. Worse, some of these people have presumed to judge whether or not those who disagree with them are actually saved.  Does God permit us to make such determinations about people who seem to genuinely love the Lord and obey His Word? If so, what criteria may they utilize in making these determinations?

In short, it appears to me that many self-proclaimed discernment bloggers and podcast personalities lack discernment.  Their ministries revolve more around establishing themselves as authorities than around directing people back to the Lord and His Word.

When reading or listening to discernment representatives (including The Outspoken TULIP), please maintain an attitude of skepticism. Hold us up to Scripture, both in our content and in our manner of delivery. Research our claims by going to reputable sources (and no, Wikipedia is not a reputable source). Make sure any snarkiness we exhibit is the exception rather than the rule in how we present our arguments.  None of us gets it right 100% of the time; please make sure that you examine what we say by checking our facts.

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Saturday Sampler: October 15 — October 21

Wing Ding Sampler

To discover A Surprising Barrier to Personal Bible Study, check out Knowable Word for Ryan Higginbottom’s interesting challenge. I pray that you’ll then accept his challenge. Believe me, you won’t regret doing so!

Read 5 Reasons Jesus Doesn’t Want us to be Like the Good Samaritan by Jordan Standridge of The Cripplegate. Your second grade Sunday School might be shocked by this article, but I believe Standridge has a grasp on the real point of this parable. Feel free to use my comments section to tell me whether you agree or disagree with him.

Those of us who don’t always appreciate the Bible’s restrictions regarding ministries women can perform will find comfort in Women Can Trust God’s Design for the Church by Candi Finch, a regular writer for Biblical Woman. It’s interesting what one learns from assembling bookcases.

Continuing her latest series on Do Not Be Surprised, Erin Benziger writes Acceptable Sins Not Excepted: Impatience. Does this woman read my diary? At any rate, she accurately handles the topic of impatience, skillfully applying Scripture as she deals with its many facets.

You moms out there might appreciate these Last Minute Reformation Day Resources for Kids courtesy of Jessica Pickowicz at Beautiful Thing. She offers a splendid selection of materials for both young children and teenagers.

Leslie A. of Growing 4 Life provides a wonderful, easily read, overview of the Reformation with her blog post, Remembering the Reformation: A Timeline. If you need help understanding the Reformation and its effects on Western Civilization, this is the article for you!

Okay, Michelle Lesley is quantitatively more conservative than Martin Luther, offering only 8 Theses for Women of the Modern Day Reformation, but her tips on how we can appropriately serve the Lord lay out a good track for us. As an added bonus, she begins her essay with an enticing book recommendation.

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