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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Discernment Ministry Does More Than Expose False Teachers

Biblical UnityOur Monday Bible Studies in Titus may be suspended for the summer, but I’m still thinking quite a lot about Paul’s charge to Titus regarding the responsibilities of older women.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. ~~Titus 2:3-5 (ESV)

As a blogger, I am in an unofficial teaching position, hopefully teaching younger women how to honor the Lord. Thus far, I’ve written little about marriage and even less about raising children, mostly because I married late in life and consequently missed out on motherhood. But I certainly can teach what is good in terms of Christian doctrine and discernment.

Without rehashing specifics, recent arguments among well-known figures in discernment ministry cause me to wonder if I should focus my teaching more on discerning how to exhibit a character that reflects the Lord Jesus Christ and less on calling out false teachers. To be sure, those false teachers need to be identified, especially because women tend to gravitate to ones that use humor, psychology and emotional mysticism to lure us into doctrinal error. But, as I’ve said many times, blogs like mine can easily degenerate into tabloid gossip mills.

Blogging as a Christian places me under an obligation to keep my doctrine pure. An elder from my church monitors The Outspoken TULIP for that very reason, as does my husband. But right doctrine is only half the battle, dear sisters in Christ. Remember that the Pharisees in Jesus’ day had right doctrine. But they used their right doctrine to cover up their sinful lifestyles.

If, in exposing false teachers, I use this blog to generate gossip, I stand guilty of dishonoring the Lord I claim to represent. On one level, I teach younger women to cultivate discernment regarding popular teachers and trends within the evangelical community (which is sometimes necessary), but on a deeper level I teach by example that discernment depends on gossiping about others.

Recent events in the evangelical world have caused me to consider the type of character I want to model as I emblazon words on the internet. Do I demonstrate godly attitudes even when I warn my readers against false teachers? Do I encourage my readers to pray for people who fall victim to doctrinal error, and do I point them back to the Word of God? Or do I act like a talebearer who enjoys the sport of character assassination?

Older women, Paul says, must teach what is good. Teaching what is good, in turn, necessitates living in conformity to sound doctrine. The current nastiness in the name of discernment, by God’s grace, admonishes me to be careful as I write my blog posts, knowing that the example I set can either encourage sinful attitudes or lead ladies to honor the Lord.

 

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Lysa TerKeurst And The Challenge To Discernment Bloggers

Teardrop RoseAfter reading that Lysa TerKeurst has decided to divorce her husband, I wanted to follow Leslie A’s lead by sharing a few thoughts of my own. As I type, I pray that my words will honor the Lord Jesus Christ rather than generate vicious gossip. So I’ll begin this article by asking that all of us (myself included) pray for Lysa and her husband Art to search the Scriptures and (if at all possible) find ways of reconciliation.

My greatest fear in this matter has been that discernment bloggers would use this divorce as a “gotcha” moment. Indeed, I’ve been struggling with that very temptation all weekend. Lysa’s ministry has been more than questionable on several fronts, and this situation seems like a perfect opportunity to show her followers that she shouldn’t be trusted.

Well, she shouldn’t be trusted, but this isn’t the appropriate time to talk about the problems with her ministry. Again, I agree with Leslie A that it’s a time for compassion. Can you imagine how humiliating it must feel, after writing books on marriage and speaking to large audiences about having successful relationships, to publicly announce that you’ve initiated a divorce? In that respect, Lysa TerKeurst exercised tremendous courage.

Thankfully, I haven’t seen any discernment bloggers celebrating Lysa’s downfall, though I’ve heard that some of them have been a little giddy. Perhaps as this week gets going, some less scrupulous bloggers will emerge and write self-righteous blog posts about this divorce. They’ll quite probably rationalize that they’re simply showing people the truth about Lysa TerKeurst. But in reality they’ll be capitalizing on someone else’s suffering, just to demonstrate their supposed discernment skills.

To such bloggers, I’d issue a challenge. Please examine your hearts. Is discrediting Lysa TerKeurst at this particular point in time the most godly response to the situation? Would you consider praying, with sincerity and compassion, that the Lord would use this terrible tragedy to lead this woman into His Word so that He can purify her theology? And, like Leslie A, would you humbly look at your own marriages with the understanding that you might be just as vulnerable.

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. ~~1 Corinthians 10:12 (ESV)

Discernment ministry can so easily lead us into pride, particularly as we point out false teaching that comes from popular teachers. But the news that Lysa TerKeurst is filing for divorce challenges me to use a different type of discernment. I must have wisdom regarding when to write about her errors and when to humbly pray for the Lord to gently lead her to repentance. And I must realize how easily  I fall into sin.

Lysa TerKeurst’s divorce is nothing we should gloat over. Nor is it, to paraphrase our last President, a crisis that discernment bloggers shouldn’t waste. It should grieve us, driving us to humility and compassion as we seek for God to glorify Himself through this sad turn of events.

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Saturday Sampler: June 11 — June 17

Bezier Flower SamplerLike Michelle Lesley, I’d never heard of Karen Ehman, but based on The Mailbag: Did Jesus Really Teach Karen Ehman’s 3 Step Life Plan? I don’t think I’ll bother. In addition to examining questionable aspects of Ehman’s teaching, Michelle shows us the importance of keeping everything we read in context.

Praise the Lord that Jennifer at One Hired Late In The Day pays attention to her Bible! She supplies Some Encouragement for Marrieds & Parents in response to the Social Gospel and its call to radical living.

Is The Bible A Love Letter From God? Stephen Altroggie of The Blazing Center says no. Find out why he disagrees with this popular view of God’s Word.

Lysa TerKeurst is, from what I’ve read, a false teacher. I’m still researching her, but I know enough about her to be very wary of her. Sadly, she’s announced this week that she’s decided to divorce her husband, alleging he’s been unfaithful. In response, Leslie A. of Growing 4 Life has written Some thoughts on ending a marriage. I appreciate Leslie’s balanced, compassionate approach to this matter. This is not a time for self-righteousness or glee, but a time to pray for Lysa’s repentance.

Highlighting two very different incidents from Martin Luther’s life, Allen Cagle writes If he is inviting me to my death, then I will come for Parking Space 23. Even if you don’t normally like history, this article is an inspiring portrayal of courage. Don’t cheat yourself out of it!

As a woman with a disability, I resonate with Elizabeth Prata’s Two or more good things about having a disability in The End Time. It’s not a typical Elizabeth Prata essay, but I love the way she points to the Lord’s goodness and sovereignty in giving us various trials.

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Summer White Isn’t Alone

Recently John and I watched a YouTube video by Pastor Jeff Short of Christian Answers, in which he very rightly commended Summer White of Sheologians for calling out Jen Hatmaker for supporting LBGTQ causes. If you want to watch the video before reading my comments, here it is:

I heartily agree with Pastor Short that women should be rebuking false teaching and warning other women against people like Ms. Hatmaker who distort Scripture. Women must speak out when popular “Christian” celebrities make statements that violate the truth, precisely because these celebrities have such a high degree of influence over evangelical women. When someone like Jen Hatmaker condones same sex marriage, calling it holy, discerning Christian women have an obligation to cry “Wolf!”

But Jeff Short is terribly mistaken in asserting that Summer White is the only woman brave enough to speak out against false teachers! Maybe I should be thankful that he’s not reading women’s blogs (it’s hard convincing men that my blog is exclusively for women), but it troubles me that he strongly implied that none of us has confronted false teachers.

Ironically, several women known as discernment bloggers have, in the past few years, felt convicted that we were calling false teachers out too much when we should have been discipling women so that they could recognize false teaching for themselves. Our blog posts on Beth Moore guaranteed us more hits, certainly, but we noticed our blogs becoming more like tabloid journalism than vehicles to disciple women. If anything, we spent more time than necessary telling our readers who the wolves are than drawing their attention to the Lord Jesus Christ.

But yes, we have denounced Jen Hatmaker. I have featured several blog posts about her acquiescence to the LBGTQ community in my Saturday Samplers. Most of these articles were written by women (including Summer White).

Pastor Short, we most assuredly have been on the front lines for years, pleading with false teachers to repent and warning our sisters about a wide number of “Christian” celebrities who lead women into doctrinal error. Summer White has merely joined our ranks, and we welcome her! But we’ve been here, and we definitely have the battle scars to prove that we’ve spoken just as courageously as Summer White has. We don’t want medals, but we do want people to know we’re here.

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Mom Always Said “Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right”

Bible RestoredI had today’s essay all planned. I wanted to demonstrate how professing Christians misuse a certain verse fragment to justify unbiblical approaches to prayer. I confidently typed out my introductory paragraphs, carefully setting the stage before I quoted the verse in context. I knew I was about to blow up arguments for using that particular verse as a defense for their practices.

A little too smugly for my own good, I put the passage up on my computer so I could copy and paste it into my blog post. I started reading from the beginning of the chapter. Oh my! I scurried into our bedroom, where John is lying down, and asked him to read the chapter. “Were we wrong?” I asked him.

We discussed the passage, and realized that we’d been interpreting it based on its immediate context, but not the context of the entire chapter. While we saw that it still doesn’t support contemplative prayer, neither does it contradict such practices as sharply as we had believed it did. As a matter of fact, we could understand how people would misapply it as a method of prayer.

I anticipate writing about the misapplication of the verse sometime in the future, but not until I study it more thoroughly. Obviously, I still don’t understand it as well as I thought I did. At least not in relation to prayer methodology. And quoting it out of context for the purpose of showing how others quote it out of context smacks of hypocrisy. The end never justifies the means.

This morning I read through several chapters of Proverbs. I kept running into verses about the importance of integrity. Let me quote just one of them:

Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered,
    but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall. ~~Proverbs 28:18 (ESV)

Had I proceeded with my planned blog post, using only the immediate context of the verse in question to substantiate my point, someone would have discovered my dishonesty. Quite appropriately, they would have publicly exposed me. I’m aware, of course, that everybody makes innocent mistakes, but in this particular case I would have knowingly misrepresented Scripture.  As a result, I would have totally undermined my entire blog. Even worse, I would have dishonored the Lord Jesus Christ.

I set out to provide my readers with a lesson in Bible context. Instead the Lord gave me a much more profound lesson. Sisters, even when we stand against error, we have the responsibility to handle God’s Word properly and with reverence.

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Saturday Sampler: May 21 — May 27

Bows SamplerReflecting on her personal study of Titus 3, Leslie A. of Growing 4 Life reminds us that For So We Once Walked. Her insights help us have humility toward God and compassion toward non-Christians.

16-year-old Squid,  purveyor of Squid’s Cup Of Tea, is wise beyond her years. Her recent post, Not a Bad Temptation, offers a fascinating take on Eve’s disobedience in the garden. Why didn’t I have the caliber of discernment she has when I was young?

In a creative, but pointed essay in The End Time, Elizabeth Prata shows us how the Bible might read If Jeremiah, John the Baptist and Paul were Armimian… This piece is entertaining, and yet it wonderfully demonstrates the sovereignty of God in electing us to salvation.

Examining tongues, prophecy and healing as present-day Charismatic churches practice them, John Chester explains Why Our Church Isn’t Charismatic in Parking Space 23. As a former Charismatic, I appreciate his clarity in demonstrating how the current interpretation of these gifts differs from their Scriptural functions.

Jennifer at One Hired Late in the Day responds to the timely question How do we love and engage with our unbelieving friends without compromising our testimonies? In this era of political correctness and unbridled sexuality, Jennifer’s advice offers encouragement and wisdom.

Recycling an essay she wrote two years ago, Michelle Lesley ministers to those who need to find a new church, either because they’ve relocated or because their present church fails to uphold Biblical doctrine and practices. Throwback Thursday ~ Six Questions for a Potential Church includes links to three other posts that list important things to ask pastors or elders before joining a church.

Along those lines, Nichols T. Batzig, in his blog, Feeding on Christ, writes The Weight of the Church as encouragement to factor in the availability of solid churches when considering a move or a college.  Batzig provides an excellent perspective.

Infamous abortionist Kermit Gosnell falsely believes himself to be a Christian, and has recently published a manifesto attempting to defend his actions from Scripture.  In 5 verses used to justly abortion, Jesse Johnson of The Cripplegate exposes Gosnell’s wrong use of God’s Word. This blog post both shows that abortion can never be defended as a moral act and affirms the importance of properly using the Bible.

Reformation 500 has been steadily posting daily history lessons highlighting various events of the Protestant Reformation. In their article, Ignatius Loyola, they present a powerful discernment lesson by comparing and contrasting Ignatius Loyola and Martin Luther. The article applies so well to evangelicals in 2017.

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