Saturday Sampler: December 9 — December 15

Snowmen Sampler

So often, Leslie A writes things in Growing 4 Life that make me want to jump out of my wheelchair, do a happy dance and shout “YES!” at the top of my lungs. To see a blog post that gives me such a giddy reaction, read Is There More Than One Way to Interpret Scripture?

Speaking of posts that resonate with me, go over to Possessing the Treasure and read The Believer’s Supreme Act of Spiritual Worship by Mike Ratliff. He accurately diagnosis major problems among evangelicals and prescribes the remedy.

Elizabeth Prata also has me ready to do a happy dance because of her essay, Another good reason to develop discernment, which appears in The End Time. It’s incredibly refreshing when a well-known discernment blogger writes an article like this! But my poor wheelchair is beginning to look awfully empty!

One of the reasons I love living near Boston is its rich literary history. Several years ago, John took me to Longfellow’s house in Cambridge to celebrate my birthday. So I appreciate Barry York’s A Lesson Learned in Longfellow’s Home in Gentle Reformation. I don’t know if Longfellow truly knew Christ,  but the poem still has tremendous power.

The lady who blogs at Biblical Beginnings writes Movie Review — Polycarp. After reading her review, I got my husband to pull this movie up on Amazon Prime. Except for the hokey lighting behind Polycarp’s  head during one of his prayers, it’s an excellent film. And as we see persecution approach Christians in the United States, this movie offers wonderful encouragement.

Having a range of personal struggles and sorrow over the death of my former prayer partner, I appreciate Jessica Jenkins’ When Christmas Doesn’t Feel Merry in Biblical Woman this week. If you’re hurting, please make time to read this piece.

Allen Nelson IV, writing for Things Above Us, shows us How Not to Be a Heretic this Christmas as we contemplate the Incarnation. Don’t miss this short but comprehensive look at five common errors in understanding Christ as 100% God and 100% Man.

Do you need 5 Reasons To Read The Bible When You Feel Absolutely Nothing? Then Stephen Altrogge’s blog post in The Blazing Center is perfect for you!

 

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Flashback Friday: Charismatics Aren’t Like Joseph

Originally posted December 23, 2016:

bethlehem-dazzle-frameDuring my years as a Charismatic, I remember using all sorts of Scriptures as proof-texts to validate whatever spiritual experience I happened to be practicing at the time. Most of the Charismatics I knew did the same thing to greater or lesser degrees.

At Christmas time, Matthew’s nativity narrative gave me and my Charismatic friends excellent proof-texts to substantiate our claims that the Lord spoke to us personally. Three times in Matthew 1 and 2, the Lord sent Joseph dreams, in which He spoke very clearly to instruct Joseph. For example, look at God’s intervention when Joseph learned that his fiancee, Mary, was carrying a Child that he hadn’t fathered.

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. ~~Matthew 1:18-25 (ESV)

Naturally, we concluded that, since the Lord spoke to Joseph, we had good reason to expect Him to speak to us in dreams, visions, still small voices or what have you. Our conclusion certainly seemed reasonable at the time, granted, but let’s think through a few points regarding who the Lord generally spoke to in Scripture and why He spoke to them.

In the Old Testament, God spoke to prophets, or to people who would further the development of Israel (and the Messianic line). He didn’t speak to everyone in Israel, nor did He speak about inconsequential matters. He was building His nation, teaching them how to worship Him and to separate themselves from those who worshiped false gods and committed abominable sins.

Likewise, in the New Testament He spoke to apostles and prophets until His Word was written down by some of those same apostles and prophets. Those apostles and prophets, according to Ephesians 4:11-16, built the foundation of the Church by the revelations that the Holy Spirit gave them. That revelation (at least the revelation that we needed) has been preserved in the Bible’s canon.

The Lord spoke to Joseph because Joseph would serve as the legal father of Jesus, thus legitimizing His claim to David’s throne. In turn, this claim validated Jesus as the Messiah. Had Joseph divorced Mary, Jesus would not have had this legal claim. Therefore, God had to intervene by speaking directly to Joseph. Notice that His instruction that Joseph name the Child Jesus fulfilled prophecy.

God spoke two more times to Joseph (Matthew 2:13-15 and Matthew 2:19-23), both times to protect Jesus from an early death and, again, to fulfill prophecy. The Lord spoke to Joseph for specific purposes that resulted in Jesus growing to Manhood, demonstrating Himself to be God, dying on the cross to atone for the sin of those who would believe in Him and rising from the grave to break the power of sin. God’s words to Joseph held eternal consequences.

God’s words to Joseph were vastly different from the things that present-day evangelicals (particularly Charismatics) claim to receive. Joseph, like other key figures in Scripture, played a critical role in God’s plan of redemption. That being the case, 21st Century Christians need only the Bible in order to hear everything the Lord wants us to know.

Hebrews 1:1-2 says that, in these last days, God has spoken through His Son. Praise God He spoke to Joseph back then, so that we would have His Son’s Word for all eternity!

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Fear Might Be The Wisest Response

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I want to continue looking at the relationship between discernment and wisdom by examining Scriptures about wisdom. Naturally, my mind immediately goes to two familiar verses in Proverbs:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
    fools despise wisdom and instruction. ~~Proverbs 1:7 (ESV)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. ~~Proverbs 9:10 (ESV)

To many people — including evangelicals, I’m sorry to say — the fear of the Lord seems terribly outdated. To make verses like Proverbs 1:7 and Proverbs 9:10 easier to swallow, we assure young Christians that the fear referred to here means nothing more than Continue reading

Saturday Sampler: December 3 — December 8

Bell SamplerAfter resolving to be truthful with your children about Santa Claus, you still face the sticky issue of what they tell their little friends. Michelle Lesley tackles that awkward dilemma in The Mailbag: My kid knows the truth about Santa. What if he tells his friends who don’t? Michelle puts forth some thought-provoking arguments that maybe we need as we navigate this question.

Biblical Sexuality Isn’t a Stump You Can Mow Around insists Mike Leake in a blog post for Borrowed Light. He looks at reasons we’re tempted to compromise our position on homosexuality, and explains why we mustn’t compromise.

Mike Ratliff of Possessing the Treasure reminds us of The Cross and its offense. Although it should be Christianity 101, most evangelicals seem willfully oblivious to this basic part of the Gospel.

Forgiveness doesn’t come easily when people hurt us. Writing for The Cripplegate, Eric Davis challenges our tendency to hang onto offences with Love & Hurt Feelings — Refresher. This isn’t exactly a “feel good” article, I realize, but it brings us back to a basic principle of Christianity.

The current focus on homosexuality and transgenderism somewhat obscures the seriousness of sexual sins among heterosexuals. SlimJim of The Domain for Truth goes back to fundamental Christian teaching on sexual purity by posting Pre-Marital Abstinence Makes the Married Heart Grow Stronger. Sadly, I think many professing Christians have forgotten the importance of waiting until the wedding night.

I couldn’t agree more with Don’t Be Just Another Fan by Leslie A in Growing 4 Life. Her insightful article leads me to ask you to always evaluate each blog post I write in light of Scripture.

In his moving piece, Planned Parenthood Sings Hush, Little Baby, Samuel Sey objects to the notion that abortion is best for unwanted babies. Appearing in his blog, Slow to Write, this article traces the experiences of two unplanned pregnancies that were in God’s plan all along.

Elizabeth Prata’s essay, Love Thy Neighbor? That’s only half of it, refutes the growing idea that love means ignoring sin in another person. You’ll find her insightful piece in The End Time.

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Discernment Begins With Wisdom

Waterfall Lattice Arch FrameAlthough discernment differs from wisdom in the sense that it makes distinctions between good and evil, true and false, etc., it is closely linked with the more general term of wisdom. That being the case, perhaps we should spend a few posts (today, Monday and Tuesday, for starters) looking at various Scriptures on godly wisdom. From there, we might have a solid foundation for determining the definition and use of Biblical discernment.

Right away, I thought of the passage in James that contrasts godly wisdom with earthly wisdom, and I’d like to apply the principles in that passage to Continue reading

It’s Time To Rethink Discernment

Psalm 19V14 B&WYes, I’ve been beating this drum about the problems with discernment ministries (particularly online discernment ministries) for over two years now, and some of my posts pretty much say they same things. In truth,  I write most of these articles in an attempt to clarify my own thoughts on the matter. If I’m selfish for taking you along for the ride, please pray that the Lord would convict me.

The advantage of struggling with this publicly is Continue reading

Naming Names Is Fine; Naming Names To Build Your Platform Isn’t

Untitled-1Generally, Facebook conversations aren’t very thought-provoking. As a result, I don’t spend much time there. I went on today because I have a friend going through a difficult situation, and I wanted to check on her.

Once I’d done that, I decided to scroll through my newsfeed, not really expecting to find anything interesting. People seem to post so many third-party GIFs, memes and videos that I don’t really think we make meaningful connections anymore. But I didn’t have an idea for a blog post yet, and I couldn’t do Christmas shopping on Amazon with John in the room, so I halfheartedly scrolled.

To my surprise, I encountered a thread encouraging bloggers not to use a current Christian celebrity kerfluffle as a ploy to attract readers. Of course,  the original post mentioned the celebrity by name, sparking comments about the situation. Some proceeded to Continue reading