Saturday Sampler: May 20 — May 26

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Custom Tower & Old State House

Did you watch the Royal Wedding? What did you think of Bishop Curry’s sermon? Garrett Kell, in All Things for Good, asks a more accurate question with What Would Jesus Say About Bishop Curry’s Royal Wedding Sermon? I heartily agree.

Unbelievers sure love discounting the veracity of the Bible, don’t they? SlimJim, who blogs at The Domain for Truth, writes Bible Contradiction? Did Jesus perform many signs and wonders? He has a running series responding to alleged contradictions in Scripture; this is the first installment I’ve read, and it’s an excellent example of why context matters.

The apostle Paul, says Jordan Standridge, was Obsessed with the Gospel. His piece, appearing in The Cripplegate, draws from Paul’s letter to the Philippians to challenge us in our response to persecution.

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Swan Boat at Boston’s Public Garden

The sister in Christ who blogs at Biblical  Beginnings takes on the popular false teaching associated with John 10:10 in her essay, Twisted Tuesday — The Abundant Life. I appreciate her encouragement to study God’s Word carefully and with discernment.

How could the doctrine of total depravity possibly encourage Christians?  In his post for Parking Space 23, Zach Putthoff answers that question. You might find yourself rejoicing as you read Total Depravity & the Christian Life.

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Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

I never expected to read The Master’s Seminary Blog, but The Wretched Art of Loveless Discernment by Reagan Rose caught my eye. His points convict me to continue discernment blogging, but to make sure I do so from right motives and with a godly attitude. Anyone interested in discernment ministry needs to take this article to heart.

Like Michelle Lesley, I belong to a church within the Southern Baptist Convention. And like her  church, the church I belong to has strong leanings toward Reformed Theology, for which I praise God! Yet, as I read about the denomination as a whole, I must agree with her that It’s Time for a Reformation in the SBC – 3 Issues We Need to Set Right.

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Massachusetts State House

Praise the Lord that Phil Johnson has revived Pyromaniacs, one of the blogs God used to bring me to Reformed Theology a decade ago. His post, The Root of the Matter, identifies the serious problems creeping into Reformed circles lately. Again, praise the Lord for Johnson’s faithfulness to stand against worldly compromise for the sake of the Gospel.

Photos of downtown Boston sites taken by John Kespert

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Saturday Sampler: May 13 — May 19

IMG_2187Andy Stanley continues to undermine the authority of Scripture, this time by teaching that Jesus and the apostles “unhitched” Christianity from the Old Testament. David Prince of Prince on Preaching refutes this ridiculous notion by writing A Response to Andy Stanley: Jesus and the Old Testament, What God has joined together, let man not separate.

For a more subtle response to Andy Stanley, wander over to The Cripplegate  to read Clint Archer’s post, Why Preach the Older Testament? Without mentioning Stanley directly, Archer clarifies why neither Testament should be “unhitched” from the other.

To demonstrate that Obedience Is Better than Sacrifice, Michelle Lesley draws from two instances in the life of King Saul to illustrate how churches in the 21st Century can disobey God even while thinking they worship Him. She makes a point worth considering.

Now I understand why the standard evangelical quip about God giving second chances rubs me the wrong way. Scott Slayton of One Degree To Another argues that God Doesn’t Give Second Chances by appealing to the Gospel and to God’s grace.

Refering to a Spurgeon quote that he saw on Twitter, Denny Burk has A word about criticism from anonymous sources that applies well in this age of social media. I’d been considering changing the name on my Twitter account from DebbieLynne Kespert to The Outspoken TULIP. Although The Outspoken TULIP is linked to my name, Burk’s article leads me to keep my real name, lest anyone think I’m leveling anonymous criticism when I confront worldly ideas.

I like Eric Davis’ post, Should I Stay Home from Church When Life Gets Hard? in The Cripplegate. It addresses the latest notion that emotional pain excuses people from corporate worship. It also admonishes pastors and elders to order church services around the Lord, explaining how doing so effectively ministers to all members of Christ’s body.

Leslie A admits it. It’s Not Just a Book! probably won’t be her most popular article on Growing 4 Life. But I agree with her that it’s probably one of the most important things she’s ever written. Therefore it saddens me that it won’t be popular.

Adding to my article on journaling (which I published Wednesday), Elizabeth Prata shares Thoughts on introspection and journaling in The End Time. She brings interesting insight into the discussion, causing me to wonder if more needs to be written about this topic.

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This Happens When Amy Spreeman Does A Podcast

I first wrote this article over a year ago, but needed to temporarily suspend it for personal reasons.

 

OpenBible John 1I just listened to a thought-provoking podcast from Fighting for the Faith, in which Amy Spreeman, Steve Kozar, and Chris Rosebrough discuss Discerning Discernment. Ladies,  my head is spinning right now, as I continue struggling with whether or not I classify as a “discernment blogger.” And whether or not I want to classify as a “discernment blogger.” And, most importantly, whether or not the Lord wants me to classify as a “discernment blogger.”

Discernment blogging used to carry a certain prestige in Reformed circles, as we saw various trends and evangelical celebrities corrode the Gospel by handling Scripture incorrectly and/or adding to it with subjective experiences and worldly philosophies. My regular readers will recall from my Autobiography With Purpose series that many of these doctrinal aberrations hindered my spiritual development for roughly four decades, which explains my passion for exposing doctrinal error now.

Then earlier this year, bloggers whom I highly respect began pulling back from discernment ministry. They correctly pointed out that this type of blogging often degenerates into scandal mongering gossip which depends on sensationalism to attract readers.  Admittedly, I’ve sometimes put Beth Moore’s name in blog post titles knowing full well that doing so would boost my readership. Cheap trick, but it works like a charm.

Amy made a comment on that Fighting for the Faith podcast that gave me a sense of balance in this whole debate over the legitimacy of discernment ministry. She remarked that our goal isn’t so much to call out false teachers and unbiblical practices in the Church as is is to draw people back to the authority of Scripture. So many popular evangelical teachers and practices distract people from properly reading and understanding the Word of God that we need to call professing Christians (both false converts and legitimate believers) to examine everything against the standard of Scripture. Even more, we need to remind them that the Lord reveals Himself in His Word.

The debate over whether or not discernment blogging constitutes appropriate ministry will continue. It raises important questions too numerous to explore today, and my small blog certainly can’t cast any decisive verdicts.

But I do believe this 63-year-old housewife from Massachusetts can use her past experiences with doctrinal error to guide younger women to better study of God’s Word. I make no claim of infallibility (and in fact plead with you to hold my writing up against Scripture to make sure I present Biblical ideas), but I desire to encourage women toward properly understanding sound doctrine . I’ve learned that Biblical doctrine is the only way any of us can know the Lord as He has revealed Himself, and that worshiping Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24) requires that we continually seek Him in the pages of Scripture.

Regardless of whether or not I can consider myself a “discernment blogger,” I pray that I can inspire women to open their Bibles and know the Lord Jesus Christ.  Discernment must have no other goal than to direct people to Him!

 

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A Stubborn Fact Of History And How It Causes Me To Worship The Lord

IMG_2034Boston’s role in the American Revolution has captivated my imagination since I moved to the Greater Boston Area almost sixteen years ago. Visiting historic sites and going on countless Freedom Trail walking tours has delighted me. And I’ve come to think of key figures like Abigail Adams, James Otis, John Hancock and Paul Revere as people I actually know.

Yesterday John and I went to Paul Revere’s grave marker at the Old Granary Buying Ground to attend a ceremony commemorating the 200th anniversary of his death. What a thrill! The ceremony included fife and drum music, a color guard from the USS Constitution (wearing period uniforms), three of Paul Revere’s descendants and the ringing of the bell (a bell Revere had cast) at King’s Chapel. Oh yeah, and remarks from the Masons of Massachusetts’ 89th Grand Master.

Sigh.

Prior to the program, my optimistic husband tried to soothe me with the thought that many men joined the Masons simply to advance their standing in the business community. They didn’t really get into it. We assured ourselves that, since Paul Revere was a Puritan, that must have been the case.

Not exactly (as a friend of mine says during his segments on Paul Revere in his Freedom Trail walking tours). The Grand Master told us that Revere served as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts between 1794 and 1797.

I left the Granary feeling the same grief that I felt when I first learned that my beloved Abigail Adams embraced Unitarianism later in her life. I so want to imagine these people who founded our country to have been solid Christians, but (as John Adams famously said), facts are stubborn things. My Revolutionary heroes have tragic flaws.

Last night I thought a bit about my sadness over Paul Revere’s involvement in Freemasonry. Although it disappoints me, it also reminds me to worship only Jesus Christ. I  can appreciate — and even admire — Paul Revere, Abigail Adams and the others who took part in the efforts leading to America’s Independence.  They can still be my heroes. In some respects, dear Abigail can continue to be my role-model. But the Lord uses my knowledge of their false beliefs to protect me from idolizing them. For that kindness, I worship Him.

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How To Tempt A Christian Blogger And Why You Shouldn’t Do So

liberal-religionThe ugly fact about social media (including blogging)  is that controversy generates hits. I regret to say that Christians follow the world in this regard. I have followed the world in this regard. A decade ago, the popularity of discernment blogs demonstrated the fascination with controversy as people flocked to blogs that called out false teachers but shied away from those that offered good Bible teaching.

There’s definitely a place for naming names and exposing false teachers that seriously threaten the purity of the church. Where would we be if the 16th Century Reformers hadn’t stood up to the perverted doctrines of Roman Catholicism? And many of today’s discernment blogs have helped people come out of a wide range of deceptions. As my readers saw this past Friday, occasionally I deem it necessary to write about controversial matters.

But we bloggers learn all too quickly that we attract many more readers when we  insert certain names into our titles. Sometimes we rationalize that, by addressing controversial issues, we attract readers who will then stick around for our more theological posts.

Only they rarely do.

Instead, they skip over doctrinal articles and wait (almost like vultures) for the next juicy essay exposing a false teacher. This craving for sensational blog posts puts bloggers in a tough position. Do we sacrifice our responsibility to direct readers to the Lord in order to retain readers? Or do we put blood, sweat and tears into writing Bible Studies that only a handful of people will bother to read?

Most of us pay WordPress to host our blogs. We don’t receive payment beyond occasional donations or (as in my case) Kindle books. And that’s okay. We blog because we love the Lord and want to help our readers know Him better. We feel deep concern about all the false teaching and evangelical trends that distract people from sound doctrine. We don’t blog for material gain.

At the same time, we invest so much time and energy (and yes, money) into our blogs that we feel discouraged when readers ignore the posts that offer the most spiritual nourishment in favor of those about whatever controversy happens to be in vogue on a given week. Can you see how your preference for more sensational pieces tempts bloggers to compromise what the Lord would have us write in favor of articles that garner more visitors?

Readers, I won’t compromise my blog, especially in this time when social media threatens to silence anyone who stands for Biblical truth. But I ask, ladies, that you might consider reading the theological posts I write as enthusiastically as you read the ones that call out false teachers. Really, the more you understand sound Biblical doctrine, the more easily you’ll discern false teachers for yourselves.

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Is Beth Moore More Interesting Than Bible Study?

Bible Turning PagesFriday I blogged about Beth Moore’s latest publicly stunt. Boy, did that article attract a lot of readers! And praise God that maybe He used that article to help people understand the value of embracing the roles He assigns women in the church. I also hope He used it to inspire people to pray for her repentance. This woman is deceived in many areas, as evidenced in Elizabeth Prata’s curation of critiques about her. She desperately needs God’s mercy.

Yesterday I posted a Bible Study working through 1 Corinthians 15, after spending a week reading it in context with the epistle as a whole and studying commentaries on the first eleven verses. Due to time limitations brought on by my disability, doing this weekly study — a study that many of you assured me you wanted — requires that I use my personal Bible Study time each day to prepare for it.

At this writing, 277 people have read my blog post about Beth Moore. Only 26 have read yesterday’s Bible Study. That disparity doesn’t surprise me, but it certainly saddens me.

In thinking about the disparity of attention between my two articles, I had the thought that if more people cared about actual Bible Study (as opposed to making the Bible about ourselves, as Beth Moore routinely does), perhaps less people would fall into false teaching. Possibly, reading Bible Studies that depend on a verse’s context, citing cross-references so that Scripture interprets Scripture and avoiding the temptation to insert oneself into the text, just might prevent someone from falling into the errors that typify Beth Moore.

Beth Moore claims to study the Bible, yet her teaching betrays her sad inability to interpret it responsibly. I’ve watched enough of her YouTube videos and read enough of her blog posts to know that she mishandles God’s Word on a regular basis (again, I refer you to the link in this article’s  first paragraph for documentation). I believe she studies the Bible in ways that suit her agenda rather than handling Scripture properly.

Hopefully my Bible Studies on this blog do handle Scripture properly, and show my readers how to  handle Scripture properly. I pray my Bible Studies lead women toward sound doctrine that ultimately produces discernment. Consequently, it breaks my heart that my readers gravitate toward posts exposing false teachers like Beth Moore while ignoring Bible Studies that could protect them from her errors.

Writing Bible Studies takes me more time and effort than writing posts warning about Beth Moore and other false teachers. But writing Bible Studies could be the most effective means of preventing women from falling into deception. Sisters, I may not be the most gifted Bible Study teacher on the planet, but I believe my studies can encourage you to study God’s Word in a responsible fashion. Maybe learning to study Scripture will defend you against false teaching.

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Why Shouldn’t My Faith Inform My Politics (And Every Other Area Of My Life)?

Faith Informs Politics

Participating in a political argument at Thanksgiving doesn’t exactly demonstrate wisdom, so I hate admitting my folly. But one comment my relative made during that heated exchange has stayed with me in a positive way, causing me to reflect on how deeply the Lord influences how I think.

Of course, when she said, “Your faith informs your politics,” she meant it in a negative manner. As she saw it, I vote the way I do, not because I think through the issues for myself, but because the white evangelical establishment dictates my political opinions. Had I been sharper at that moment, I would have countered that her world of academia informed her politics. Missed opportunity!

I’ve thought a lot about her remark over the years, and I’ve concluded that my faith indeed should inform my politics. In fact, it should inform every area of my life. I don’t mean, as my relative insinuated, that I should mindlessly obey my pastor and elders as if they have some Orwellian control over me. I do mean, however, that the Lord has authority to show me how to align every area of my life (including my politics) with His revealed will in Scripture.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ~~Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)

As God’s Word renews my mind, I start seeing things like abortion, homosexuality, military actions and economics from a Biblical perspective. Occasionally, I’ll question positions that my pastor and elders take, and I’ll vote my conscience (a fact that would quite probably shock my relative), but I do my best to base my decisions on clear Biblical principles.

My faith really should inform every decision I make. If it doesn’t, I betray a lack of trust in God’s wisdom, if not a deliberate rebellion against Him. Essentially, I follow Eve in declaring that I know more than He does.  That His Word has no bearing on how I conduct my affairs.

In truth, I don’t want anything I do to be divorced from the clear teachings of Scripture. Every area of my life, and maybe especially my politics, absolutely must reflect the Lord’s priorities and principles rather than those of the world. My relative may dismiss my politics as  mindless obedience to my church if she wishes. But if God’s Word informs my politics and all other areas of my life, I know I can rest easy.

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