Remembering The Wonder Of The Incarnation

The Word became fleshLess than a year into my walk with the Lord, I sat in my friend’s living room with other kids from my high school (including a girl I’d never met) for Thursday night Bible Study. My friend began his opening prayer, speaking in an unusually forceful tone as he praised God for becoming a Man. He managed to find at least four ways to reiterate the idea.

Before he could finish praying, the visiting girl lept up, covered her ears and ran out of the house shouting, “Blasphemy!”

Baffled, I asked the leader what had just happened. He explained that she belonged to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a cult that denied Christ’s deity.

At that point, my confusion intensified. I knew that Jesus Continue reading

Saturday Sampler: November 25 — December 1

Pointilized Heart Sampler

Maybe Mike Ratliff doesn’t say anything remarkably novel in his blog post, Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? for Possessing the Treasure, but his point really can’t be overstated. Current trends in evangelicalism must never eclipse the authority of the Bible.

Be honest: reading the Bible every day can get tiring. Thankfully, Ryan Higginbottom of  Knowable Word thinks of several ways that Reading the Bible for the Ten Thousandth Time can regain its freshness.

In response to the latest ridiculous Twitter pronouncement by Rachel Held Evans, Nick Batzig posts Jesus and Racial Bias in Reformation 21. I like the way Nick appeals to normative hermeneutics in order to demonstrate proper understanding of a Scriptural text.

A friend whom I highly respect has raised legitimate questions about the methods John Chau used in his evangelistic efforts to minister to an unreached tribe off the coast of India. Although I don’t wish to dismiss her concerns, Jordan Standridge’s 10 Lessons From The Death of John Chau makes extremely important points that all Christians absolutely must consider. You’ll find his article in The Cripplegate.

Check out Parking Space 23 for John Chester’s Reprise: So You Think You Are a Red Letter Christian? Even those of us who claim to believe the entire Bible has uniform authority might find his article to be a little convicting.

I appreciate the thoughtfully written John Allen Chau’s death stuns, angers, and perplexes the world, which Elizabeth Prata posts on The End Time. She evaluates the situation honestly, doing her best to cover all angles of the story. I especially love the hope she expresses as she closes this essay.

Leslie A insists that There’s More to Christianity Than Doing Good Works in an article for Growing 4 Life. Beginning with her brother’s interesting observation on the inoffensive nature of social justice, she discusses the mission we have as Christians — including the ramifications of carrying out that mission.

Think Catholicism has more in common with Protestant denominations than differences? Pope Francis would have you think so! Leonardo De Chirico of The Vatican Files chronicles the pope’s life-long devotion to Mary in 156. She is My Mamá — Pope Francis and Mary to show that the pontiff refuses to separate Christ from Mary.

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Bible Study Isn’t Self Discovery, Though That Can Happen

Flower OutlineAs women, we all too often settle for self-focused theology designed to stroke our egos and make us feel valued when we really need to be studying Scripture to learn Who the Lord is and how we can glorify Him.

In a very real sense, we’ve been trained to approach Bible Study with a degree of narcissism. So many books and conferences for women emphasize God’s love for us and how special we are to Him. Jesus, popular evangelical writers assure us, wants intimacy with us, sometimes even to the point of satisfying us romantically and/or sexually.

Hopefully most of us now see through that silliness. But if we wisely discard that false teaching, we sometimes fall for the more subtle idea that, by studying Scripture, we learn about ourselves.

As always, there’s a handy little proof-text used to substantiate the concept.

23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. ~~James 1:23-24 (ESV)

Those two verses clearly say that reading God’s Word shows us who we are. And in some respects, it does. Typically, of course, women’s ministries then minimize the many verses and passages that reveal our sinfulness in favor of highlighting the ones that explain who we become when the Holy Spirit transforms us.

It’s true, then, that studying the Bible can have the secondary effect of helping us understand ourselves. And we need a degree of both coming to terms with our sinfulness and embracing our new identities as daughters of the Most High in order to properly serve the Lord. So in that sense it’s altogether appropriate that studying Scripture should have self discovery as a by-product.

But all too often, women’s ministries make self discovery the chief end of Bible Study, almost making Christ an auxiliary to that end. And that’s a serious perversion of the reason we study God’s Word.

Our ultimate purpose in studying Scripture must be knowing Christ. Its pages reveal Who He is, what He has done and what He demands of His people. If we see ourselves in its doctrines, it’s only so that we can better serve and glorify Him.

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Looking At The Cross Costs Something

When you first heard that Jesus died for your sins, how did you respond? Did you shrug it off as a somewhat perplexing idea? Maybe you felt a measure of relief, but didn’t really think the knowledge of His sacrifice required more than a thank you and a smile from you. Perhaps you thought you needed to augment His work on the cross, making yourself worthy of salvation.

Or maybe you had comprehended the true weight of your sins against a holy God, and therefore received the message of the cross with an attitude of grateful amazement. You wondered why the Lord would bestow such grace on you. And, although you realized your total inability to pay Him back for His grace and mercy, you wanted to show your  gratitude by acknowledging His claim on your whole life.

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The Allure Of Wounded Healers

WoundedAs a Charismatic, I attended my share of seminars on physical and emotional healing. I quite vividly remember a friend of mine, who had struggled with eating disorders and a divorce (among other traumas) expressing joy and relief when someone at a seminar prophesied that she was a “wounded healer.”

Even then, I wondered where the Bible supported that concept.

Sadly, now many non-Charismatic churches embrace similar ideas. And why not?

There’s something comforting in hearing someone confess their flaws and Continue reading

The Man Of God’s Own Choosing

Martin Luther arguably set the Protestant Reformation in motion, a fact that hardly needs to be stated. But his most famous hymn perhaps expresses his confidence in Christ as Christians fought to return the Church to true Biblical faith and practice.

As you listen to this hymn, please notice the emphasis on Christ as the One Who would defeat the powers of evil. This marvelous truth applies just as much in the battle for truth today as it did at the height of the Reformation. It also applies to our personal battles against sin.

God is our mighty fortress. Christ Jesus is the Man He chooses to win the battle. We can’t trust in our own ability to overcome Satan and his evil devices, but we can fully depend on the Lord to establish His kingdom.

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Jesus As The First And Greatest Being Created By God?

Have  you seen The State of Theology survey put out by Ligonier and LifeWay (strange bedfellows) last week? While not the most scientific poll ever conducted, most of its findings probably reflect the general spiritual condition in the United States of America.

Warning: This blog post starts out a little dry, but fairly soon you’ll be screaming, “Yo mama — Continue reading