Category Archives: Church Growth

Saturday Sampler: September 3 — September 9

Heart Sampler 01Let’s start out with a difficult, but incredibly basic, challenge: loving our enemies. In these days of robust polemics and doctrinal minutiae, we easily ignore Christ’s teaching on this matter. Thankfully The Cripplegate features Clint Archer’s bracing post, A higher standard of loving, to pull us back to the fundamentals of Christian behavior.

Also on The Cripplegate, Jordan Standridge gives us Three Reasons to be Unashamed of the Gospel as he reflects on the bravery of Martin Luther and other 16th Century Reformers. History, and especially church history, has tremendous application to our lives today!

Glenn Chatfield, in The Watchman’s Bagpipes, shares some helpful information on The Importance of Genesis Chapters 1 through 11. You might be surprised by how frequently the New Testament mentions incidents that occur in these chapters.

I love seeing ways that Biblical counseling gets to the heart of a matter and then applies Scriptural principles to set a person free. Lara d’Entremont demonstrates how the Bible addresses perfectionist tendencies in Hope for Perfectionist in Progressive Sanctification. Lara’s blog, Renewed In Truth Discipleship, contains many such essays. What a Christ-centered alternative to psychological counseling!

Lara’s essay inspired Lisa Morris of Conforming To The Truth to write The Unexpected Gift of Perfectionism. She lists several Scriptures to help us climb out of this particular sin.

Continuing her new series on Do Not Be Surprised, Erin Benziger writes Unshakeable Joy in Times of Trial in order to direct us to the sovereignty of God. Admittedly, I still struggle to rejoice in hardship or persecution. You most likely do as well. But that’s precisely why we need to read Erin’s article.

If you’re like me (and I suspect you are), you probably wonder what Scripture means when it tells us wives to respect our husbands. Answering from a male perspective, Tim Challies fills Let the Wife See She Respects Her Husband with practical tips on how to obey the Lord in marriage. What a valuable article for us to read! Please don’t ignore this one.

Jennifer at One Hired Late In The Day evaluates Self-Care and the Christian by holding the idea of making time for oneself instead of serving others against the teachings of God’s Word. In this age of promoting self-love, Jennifer’s call to obey the Lord is badly needed.

Sadly, the obvious about gender and sexuality is no longer regarded as obvious. Even by professing Christians. Michelle Lesley responds to this moral disintegration in her blog post, Basic Training: Homosexuality, Gender Identity, and Other Sexual Immorality. Before you think she’s pointing fingers sanctimoniously, you might want to read her entire article. All of us have committed some form of sexual sin, and all of us can experience the Lord’s forgiveness.

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Saturday Sampler: July 23 — July 29

Swatches 01

For those who wonder why people object so strongly to The Message paraphrase of the Bible, I beg you to read Eugene Peterson by Justin Peters. He compares selected passages with more standard Bible translations to show why this paraphrase cannot be trusted.

One of the things I like best about Michelle Lesley is her unwillingness to compromise God’s Word. Her post, The Mailbag: Female Pastors – False Teachers or Just Sinning?, looks at the issue fairly while raising important questions based on both Scripture and Michelle’s observation. I do wish she would have also commented on women who, although they don’t hold the office of pastor, teach men.

Discernment ministry isn’t the path to popularity, as Leslie A of Growing 4 Life tells us in Don’t Expect a Crowd.

The problem with hip humility by Jennifer at One Hired Late In The Day hits the nail on the head. Is it really cool to cuss a little if we profess to love Jesus? Jennifer causes us to think seriously about such casual attitudes.

What can I say about Erin Benziger’s essay, On the Dangers of Distorting God’s Grace, which you’ll find on Do Not Surprised? She gives a healthy balance on responding to the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. I love her passion for His truth!

It bothers me that evangelicals teach people to expect God to speak to them apart from Scripture. So Elizabeth Prata’s pointed essay, How did they ever hear God without a how-to manual? in The End Time, both amuses and encourages me. She stands firm on the Word of God, as we all should.

Sunny Shell of Abandoned to Christ writes a heartfelt blog entry called Content in Christ Alone that, to be honest, addresses a malaise common to all women. Although she doesn’t say anything particularly novel, she certainly reminds us of basic Biblical truth. Sometimes we need such reminders.

Are you in that heartwrenching season of praying earnestly for someone, only to see them harden themselves against the Gospel? If so, Even If He Doesn’t by Staci Eastin of Out of the Ordinary will most assuredly minister to you.

On her blog, Unified in Truth, Nikki Campbell educates us on The Downgrade Controversy that dogged the ministry of C.H. Spurgeon and relates it to the downgrade in evangelical churches today. She features a short, but compelling video with John MacArthur explaining how history is sadly repeating itself, as well as how pastors and congregations can resist this unbiblical trend.

Let’s add a second article by Leslie A., if only to validate my pet peeve regarding smart phones. Every Three Seconds looks at our addiction to these devices as well as suggesting ways to use them more responsibly and in ways that honor God.

Visiting an Embassy by Jesse Johnson is a slight departure from the sort of writing that usually appears in The Cripplegate. It also makes a powerful point about seeker-sensitive churches.

Please don’t miss Amy Spreeman’s article, When women’s ministries abandon the Bible, on the Naomi’s Table website. It perplexes me that any Bible Study group would choose to study a book when they can study the very Word of God.

If you feel left out because you don’t hear God speak personally to you, check out God Doesn’t Talk to Me on Rachel’s danielthree 18 blog. She guides us on making right decisions. I’ll offer no hints on how she advises us to seek God’s will; I want you to read her counsel for yourselves.

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Saturday Sampler: June 18 — June 24

Rose SamplerMark McIntyre writes Did he really say that? on his Attempts at Honesty blog primarily as an exhortation to men in pulpit ministry. But his words apply to all Christians as we proclaim the Gospel in face-to-face conversations and/or on social media. The truth, no matter how lovingly we present it, will always offend unbelievers.

How seriously do you take sin? According to R.C. Sproul of Ligonier, Sin is Cosmic Treason. Sproul gives a thorough explanation of sin’s nature and why God can’t tolerate it.

I completely agree with The Gospel Coalition Blog‘s Michael A G Haykin that Every Christian ought to be a good historian. Having enjoyed two years of a church history class in Adult Sunday School, I join Haykin in believing that church history displays God’s power and faithfulness to His people.

It’s wonderful to see Jessica Pickowicz blogging on Beautiful Thing after a long hiatus! Her blog post, The Not So Simple Life, evaluates the current trend of simple living by holding it up against practicality and ultimately against God’s Word. If you’re a busy mom, Jessica’s essay may be just the encouragement you need.

Denny Burk’s article, Mainstreaming fornication (a.k.a. “ethical non-monogamy”) saddens me.

In light of recent internet fights among well-known Christian apologists, I found Leslie A’s blog post, Engaging The Enemy on her Growing 4 Life blog, wonderfully balanced and refreshing. Biblical discernment doesn’t require us to win arguments; it simply enables us to stand on God’s Word.

Evangelism often means encountering people who, quite frankly, have no interest in the Lord. In his essay for Parking Space 23, Greg Peterson writes Excuses… Excuses… to counter some of the better-known objections to the Gospel. In addition to citing pertinent Scriptures for each argument, Peterson also provides links to helpful articles.

Mike Riccardi’s post, Ecumenical vs. Evangelical in The Cripplegate traces the fascinating history of the Ecumenical Movement. It’s a good caution against blurring the lines of doctrine for the sake of unity.

Although Herman Melville’s Moby Dick was by far my least favorite assigned reading in   college, I respect Elizabeth Prata’s delight in reading it. And I absolutely love the way she uses a passage from the novel to remind wives to use prudence in Exposing or ignoring the ignominious blemish in our husbands for The End Time. Interestingly, I gave similar counsel just this morning to a young friend who will be getting married a few months from now.

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Saturday Sampler: June 4 — June 10

Bertucci Sampler

Sampler plate at Bertucci’s

Clint Archer posts Running for the  Reward: Comrades Marathon and the Bema Seat in The Cripplegate. Sometimes we Christians forget that rewards await us when we finish this life.

Reprising a column that she originally wrote in 2011, Marsha West of Berean Research chronicles the Purpose Driven dismantling of Christianity as  a testament to the many corrosive influences on the 21st Century church. Her comments on psychology particularly interested me.  In addition, she unmasks the resurgence of Gnosticism among evangelicals and explores Rick Warren’s affiliation with Robert Schuller.

Sometimes we ignore seemingly inconsequential sins, assuming the Lord also overlooks them. Tim Challies directs our attention to one such sin (grumbling about fellow Christians) in The King Is Within Earshot.

People commonly object to the doctrine of election because they infer that, if God elects some to heaven, He conversely elects others to hell. In The Cripplegate, Jesse Johnson writes Reprobation: Does God elect people to hell? as a way to demonstrate the logical fallacies of this argument. After you’ve read this piece, however, I strongly suggest that you read Reprobation Rejoinder by Mike Riccardi, also in The Cripplegate.

I’ve been disturbed, for the past few years, about the common perceptions professing Christians have regarding heaven. So it encourages me to read Heaven: The Biblical Version by Jennifer at One Hired Late In The Day. I feel less alone in my understanding of what the Bible teaches on the subject.

Denny Burk provides a sobering reminder that American Christians have already begun to face persecution. His article, Watch Bernie Sanders tell  a Christian that his faith disqualifies him from office, reminds me that we can no longer expect to be embraced by our culture. But Jesus repeatedly warned us that the world would reject us, so we really shouldn’t be surprised.

If you want to read something both fun and educational, look at The Mischievous Protestant’s Guide to Catholic Rome by Tim Challies. Now, why do you suppose my art history professor at Dominican University of California  (a school started by Catholic nuns) never mentioned the items in this piece.

In her essay for The Gospel Coalition Blog, Kendra Dahl shares The Lesson That Saved My Marriage to help us adjust our expectations of our husbands. I definitely needed to read her wisdom this week!

 

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This Little Window

As global unrest gathers momentum, I see a greater urgency to proclaim the Gospel. I don’t know how soon Jesus will return to bring final judgement on the world, but world events lead me to suspect that Western Christians have little time left  to speak (and write) freely about the Lord.

Perhaps I discern this situation wrongly. But even if I do, people die every day and enter a Christless eternity while professing evangelicals focus on receiving blessings and filling pews with warm bodies who happen to have deep pockets.

The Lord has indeed blessed us in this little window of human history by giving us Facebook, Twitter, blogs and other forms of social media. What powerful tools for declaring the Person and work of Jesus Christ! Yet some of my Christian friends have told me point-blank that they use social media for their  “down time,” preferring not to post things that might start spiritual discussions or offend their non-Christian family and friends.

Okay. They can make that choice. I think, however, that they may regret wasting the wonderful opportunities that social media currently offers to Christians. Time may not allow us to publicly post the Gospel much longer, and I’d like to see people take advantage of social media while we can. If Christ indeed does return soon, the very non-Christians that we’d rather not offend will need to have heard the Gospel.

As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. ~~John 9:4 (ESV)

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Saturday Sampler: February 26 — March 4

cross-sampler-02Commenting on something she read in The New York Times, Elizabeth Prata has an essay in  The End Time discussing Practical magic’s resurgence that I believe is worth your attention.

In Learn to Discern: The Corruption of Christianity (the latest in a series in Growing 4 Life), Leslie A. shares an essay by her brother,  Pastor Dean. Dean examines six popular trends which have dangerously weakened the visible church.

Once again, Rebekah Womble knocks it out of the park on her blog, Wise In His Eyes. This time, I recommend her blog post, Women, Don’t Feed on Fluff for its Scriptural guidelines on discerning whether an author or teacher is worth our time (and money).

As Reformed Christians commemorate this 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, we must consider the differences between us and Roman Catholics. Blogging for The Cripplegate, Jordan Standridge asks Which Jesus does your Roman Catholic friend believe in? This post offers helpful guidelines for witnessing to Catholic friends and family.

Michael J. Krueger has been writing a series for Canon Fodder. His latest installment, Taking Back Christianese #8: “It’s Not My Place to Judge Someone Else”, takes on the common misapplication of Matthew 7:1.

Lisa Morris of Conforming to the Truth cautions us about The Upside Down Truth About Quick Bible Devotions. Ladies, we can do better.

Are you observing Lent this year? If so, Michelle Lesley lists 40 Things to Give Up for Lent as an encouragement to think Biblically about the season. If you wonder why (after writing so strongly against observing Lent Tuesday) I’ve included her article on this Saturday Sampler, read what she has to say.

Even through Brian Lee’s article, Repent of Lent: How Spiritual Disciplines Can Be Bad For Your Soul, appeared in The Federalist three years ago, it raises points about the practice that mustn’t be overlooked. Perhaps this is the most Biblical treatment of Lent I’ve read so far.

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Sturday Sampler: January 8– January 14

Tulip Sampler 01Anxiety is (sigh!) yet another sin I continue to battle. So I appreciate Clint Archer for writing Don’t Worry, Be Godly — Pt 1 for The Cripplegate this week. Archer adds a touch of whimsy to this difficult topic, and he offers a helpful working definition of anxiety. I can’t wait for next Monday’s post in this series.

Denny Burk’s article, “I Got Gay Married. I Got Gay Divorced. I Regret Both” examines Meridith Maran’s New York Times article by the same title. Interesting reading. Hopefully it will educate those who believe same sex marriage is simply a mirror of traditional marriage.

I write incessantly about reading Bible verses in their proper context, and I expect to do so for quite some time. The Beautiful Art of Biblical Knowledge that Autumn Beck authors for She Disciples uses a frequently quoted (and usually misapplied) verse to teach us how context leads us to the correct interpretation of God’s Word.

Leave it to Jen of One Hired Late In The Day. She’s Finding Encouragement From That Which Discourages. Perhaps her essay will inspire you to do the same. I also highly recommend her article, Let’s Talk About Evangelism, which contrasts Biblical  evangelism with the Church Growth Movement.

Sometimes I wonder if I like Rebekah Womble’s blog, Wise In His Eyes, simply because she shares my mom’s maiden name. But posts like Restless: Because You Were Made For More, in which she reviews Jenny Allen’s book of the same name, assures me that Rebekah deserves to be read because of her Scriptural insight and her fair approach to analyzing what she reads. Jenny Allen’s book probably isn’t worth your time, but Rebekah’s blog definitely is!

Stephen Altroggie of The Blazing Center gives us 5 Reasons To Read The Bible When You Feel Absolutely Nothing. Since I’m presently reading Leviticus without much excitement, I find Altroggie’s blog post refreshingly encouraging. I also agree with his assessment.

Elizabeth Prata often receives questions from readers of her blog, The End Time. She answers a particularly intriguing inquiry with her post, Mail Call 4: Why do some women discern false teachers and others accept false teachers? Elizabeth gives a basic reply that, sorry to say, we usually overlook.

My many years in seeker-sensitive churches cause me to cheer Owen Strachan’s article, The Hot ‘New’ Church Growth Method, in the Gospel Coalition Blog. Please, seeker-sensitive proponents, people like me have been trying to tell you this very thing for quite some time!

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