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.

 Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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!

 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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)

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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!

Save

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Saturday Sampler: December 11–December 17

christmas-sampler

Certainly we should welcome millennials into our churches, appreciating their fresh perspectives and encouraging them to develop their gifts. But in A Response to 12 Reasons Millennials Are Over Church, Leslie A. of Growing 4 Life reminds us that we must never accommodate the next generation at the expense of church integrity. I’ve watched a church make that mistake. It’s terribly sad.

With humor and Biblical accuracy, Peggy Overstreet of GladnessInYourPresence gives us a discernment lesson with her post, FAKE NEWS, MR. ROGERS AND ITCHING EARS. Enjoy!

Gulp! Michelle Lesley is right in her article, Sharing Christ with the Muslim Immigrant Next Door, and my flesh really doesn’t like the truth she conveys. But, as I said, she’s telling the truth, and many of us (including me) need to hear her message.

Okay, after being thoroughly convicted by Michelle’s post, ONE MOVE LEFT! by Jian Ming Zhong of Christian Reformed Ink Archives should encourage us that God always has something more to do.

In  his blog post entitled Sorrow, Depression, & the Holidays, Eric Davis of The Cripplegate offers a compassionate and Scriptural examination of depression. At this time of year, many people feel their emotional struggles with heightened intensity, making Davis’ message particularly important and encouraging.

In a guest post for Satisfaction Through Christ, Rachel shows us that Normalizing Sin results as we surrender our minds to certain genres in popular media. She also suggests ways to keep ourselves sensitive to sin.

Writing for ParkingSpace23, Jason Vaughn challenges Christians who oppose any mention of Santa Claus with his Reprise: Will Santa Make you a Bad Parent? Taking a very different position from the  blog post by Kari Dent that I included in last Saturday’s Sampler, Vaughn joins her in remembering the importance of Christian liberty. I think he presents an interesting and valuable perspective.

Here’s a healthy New Year’s challenge: In Knowable Word, Peter Krol writes Dear Church: I Dare You to Trust Your Bible This Year.

In observation of Christmas Eve, I’ll skip next week’s edition of Saturday Sampler. John and I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year full of Christ’s richest blessings. Thank you for reading and supporting The Outspoken TULIP.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Some Roads Only Lead To Abandoned Dog Racing Tracks

When I lived in Memphis back in 1995, Mom  came out to visit. She stayed in a hotel only two miles away from the nursing home (where I lived). On the Saturday of my visit, my friend James picked me up in my van, and we set out for Mom’s hotel.

1995, of course, hadn’t yet seen GPS devices, so we honestly believed the road we’d taken led to the hotel. But 15 minutes later, as we found ourselves on the bridge crossing the Mississippi River into Arkansas, James remembered that the road split way back near the nursing home. We had stayed on the wider, more traveled road, thinking it would get us to the hotel in downtown Memphis. Instead, it led us to an abandoned dog racing track in another state.

This story fluttered back into my memory one day as I thought about the various trends and teachers flooding the evangelical church today. At first, we don’t notice any deviation from Biblical doctrine. In fact, we see these trends and teachers attract more people to church, and we conclude that the numbers signify God’s blessing. Just as James and I assumed the broad, more populous road would take us to Mom’s hotel, so evangelicals trust these popular movements and teachers to lead them to spiritual truths.

But often, the popular route ends up miles away from truth. Things that appear to  be Christian may actually lure people to a counterfeit spirituality. And popularity may, to our surprise, even serve as an indication of deviation from truth. Consider this passage from the Lord’s own Sermon on the Mount:

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits
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 7:13-27 (ESV)


The narrow gate squeezes  out false doctrine.  Though it’s so much easier to jump on whatever bandwagon comes to “a church near you,” Jesus holds us accountable to examine the quality (rather than the quantity) of each program and teaching. Beth Moore and Rick Warren, for example, may inspire millions of people to buy their books and attend their speaking engagements, but they manipulate Scripture to preach a  false gospel of  narcissism instead of elevating the Lord Jesus Christ. Similarly, the Gay Christian Movement concentrates on rewriting God’s Word for the sole purpose of legitimizing their sexual  sin. 

And on an on the deception goes, slowly and subtly leading evangelicals away from the Biblical Christ into a parody of Christianity as lifeless as those dog racing tracks in Arkansas. Perhaps my attempts to demonstrate how various trends and teachers steer people in wrong directions appear unloving and unnecessarily divisive as I “rip” cherished teachers and ideas. But love, if it’s genuine, warns people that they misread maps and follow the traffic on the wrong road.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin