Saturday Sampler: January 14 — January 20

Bell Sampler

The age of feminism seduces Christian women into thinking we have to perform monumental tasks for God, according to Elizabeth Prata of The End Time. She writes Ladies, no job is too menial and no sphere is to small to make a huge difference as an encouragement to those of us who feel unnoticed and obscure.

To help us understand the importance of patience, Clint Archer posts Waiting for God? Oh. in The Cripplegate. The English major in me appreciates Archer’s allusion to the play, Waiting for Godot, but I appreciate even more the Biblical application he brings out in this devotional piece. Each of us should take this message to heart.

What do you think The Easiest Sin to Justify is? I used to justify this one all the time, so I believe Tim Challies hits the nail on the head. See if you agree.

Once again, Leslie A of Growing 4 Life graces us with her wisdom in Do I Need a Special Experience in Order to Know God? It’s shameful that evangelicals still need teaching on this matter, but praise the Lord for people like Leslie who continually proclaim the truth and remain faithful to Scripture!

If, like me, you wondered if Hollywood’s protest against sexual harassment at the Golden Globes was disingenuous, Brett McCracken’s Will #MeToo Cause Hollywood to Rethink its Views on Sex in The Gospel Coalition Blog will confirm your suspicions. But it doesn’t just throw stones at the entertainment industry; it also challenges Christians to accept responsibility.

Guest posting for Unlocking the Bible rather than her own blog, Lara d’Entremont addresses the typical decline in maintaining New Year’s resolutions her article, Change of Plan: To Change Every Day. She strikes at the heart of Christian living, using Scripture to illustrate the practical principles she proposes.

Although Michelle Lesley repeats Answering the Opposition – Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections in Discipleship for Christian Women, reading it again sure doesn’t hurt! So many of the objections she addresses betray a lack of properly understanding Scripture in its context. This issue accentuates the critical importance of knowing God’s Word thoroughly.

Al Mohler’s article, Moralism is Not the Gospel (But Many Christians Think It Is), raises a point that all too often gets overlooked. Praise God that Mohler brings it to our attention, handling it with balance and fidelity to Scripture.

Quoting the heartbreaking experience of a feminist who aborted her baby, Denny Burk writes A feminist describes her abortion… and sadness to remind us that the unborn aren’t the only victims of this horrible practice. What a needless tragedy.

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Saturday Sampler: January 7 — January 13

Three Beauties

Okay, it’s true. I get a kick out of typing Ryan Higginbottom’s name. That said, I genuinely appreciate many of his contributions to Knowable Word. His post, Your Secret Weapon in Bible Study, leads us in engaging effectively with Scripture.

Erik Raymond of The Gospel Coalition Blog shows us The Staggering Consequences of Neglecting Your Bible. Hopefully, each of my readers does spend regular time in God’s Word, but on the outside chance that one of you doesn’t do so, this blog post might help you understand the critical importance of this practice.

In recent years, the term “evangelical” has come to mean something much different than what it should. In Putting the Evangelical in Evangelicalism, Eric Davis of The Cripplegate reminds us who the true evangelicals really are.

Take time to read Bad Examples of Women Pastors (But Great Examples of Godly Women) by Pastor Gabe Hughes.  He goes through all the women in the Bible that feminists hold up as arguments for the ordination of women.

Along those lines, Katie McCoy explains Why Women Are Critical To the Mission of the Church in her post for Biblical Woman. She emphasizes the many ministry opportunities that women can enjoy! I believe her perspective offers encouragement to ladies who mistakenly assume that people can only serve the Lord through pulpit ministry.

Dear Michelle Lesley of Discipleship for Christian Women also weighs in on the topic of women preaching in Seven Reasons 1 Timothy 2:12 Isn’t the Crazy Aunt We Hide in the Closet when Company Comes Over. Her Biblical insight into this issue really helps to show serious problems when a church opens its pulpit to women.

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Women Pastors And Questioning The Authority And Sufficiency Of Scripture

Ladies Study 03As you’ll see in tomorrow’s Saturday Sampler, the topic of women preaching has again resurfaced on social media. Two weeks ago, in fact, I engaged in a Twitter debate that began with someone objecting to my stance that 1 Timothy 2:12 still applies to churches today. Eventually the conversation migrated to the issue of whether or not God speaks apart from Scripture, but not because I meant to soften my stance on the original issue.

If anything, I see the embrace of women in the pulpit as one of many symptoms of people rejecting both Scripture’s authority and its sufficiency. We refuse to accept God’s verdict that pulpit ministry belongs exclusively to men, so we look outside His Word for some way of manipulating the text to say something other than what it says. (The Gay Christian Movement, incidentally, uses the same tactics.)

The three articles in tomorrow’s Saturday Sampler do an excellent job of detailing Scriptural arguments for confining pulpit ministry to men, so I hope you’ll budget time to read each of them. Nothing I could write here could possibly improve on any of them. But I want to contribute to the conversation by emphasizing that the overarching problem lies in a subtle disregard for God’s Word.

1 Timothy 2:14 states that women shouldn’t teach men because Eve fell into deception before Adam did. I believe this remark sheds light on the matter because Satan enticed Eve to first question God’s Word and then to modify it. Once Satan objected to her modification, she blatantly disobeyed God.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. ~~Genesis 3:1-6 (ESV)

Do you see that Eve, by eating the forbidden fruit, basically rejected the authority and sufficiency of God’s Word? Satan successfully convinced her that God wanted to withhold something good from her. Consequently she usurped Adam’s leadership and decided to override God’s explicit command.

Don’t women pastors do exactly what Eve did? They may think they honor God’s Word, but they deliberately distort Scripture for the express purpose of defying it. They elevate their desires to teach men over God’s command to submit to male leadership.

I don’t fully understand why the Lord restricts pulpit ministry to men, but I definitely do understand that the Bible is God’s Word regardless of whether or not I like everything it says. In the matter of women preaching and/or teaching men, Church must surrender personal preferences in favor of bowing to the Lord’s authority with the sweet assurance that we need nothing beyond His Word.

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Christmas For Bloggers: Christ’s Example Put To Practice When There’s Nothing Original To Say

Bethlehem Green tintSometimes familiarity does breed a sort of contempt. Boredom is, when you really think about it, a type of contempt for the blessings of life and the opportunities to serve the Lord and people with the talents and abilities He gives us. Boredom loses the sense of wonder, yawning at events that should overpower us with awe.

Even the most devout Christians can approach the Christmas account with boredom, and therefore with contempt. We’ve heard it all so often, from the Holy Spirit causing Mary to conceive to the wise men following the mysterious star. We know about the Old Testament prophecies of Messiah, the angels appearing to lowly shepherds and Christmas making Easter possible.

Sadly,  even the amazing truth of God coming to earth as a helpless infant can lose its impact over time.

Bloggers can struggle at this time of year, feeling pressure to come up with fresh angles to the story. What can we say that hasn’t already been said? How can we capture people’s attention and lead them to a renewed sense of awe? And really, how can we rekindle our own sense of awe?

Several of my fellow bloggers have managed to write essays that have given me insights into Christmas that I’d never had before this year. I appreciate those insights, and have grown in my understanding of the Incarnation because of their blog posts. Thank you, ladies, for teaching me more about the glories of God in human form, and His plan of redemption.

But the things I’ve learned during this Christmas season are only mine to ponder this year — not mine to write. Perhaps next December, when I’ve lived with those concepts for twelve months, I can relay them with my own passion, but right now I’d do little more than parrot what my sisters have written. I fear I’d be flirting with plagiarism.

So what can I contribute to the Christmas conversation in 2017? Nothing particularly novel, I’m sorry to say. Although my fellow bloggers have graciously nudged me out of my boredom with the familiar (praise God), I don’t feel equipped to do the same for my readers without impinging on bloggers that I deeply respect.

Jesus came as the obedient Son of our Heavenly Father. Paul, in this passage so frequently quoted at this time of year, describes the Lord’s humility as both a wonder in itself and an example for Christians to follow.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~~Philippians 2:3-11 (ESV)

I could have taken ideas from my fellow bloggers, reworded them cleverly and passed them off as my own.  Only a few people would have noticed, and several readers might have been impressed with my supposed originality. I would have essentially stolen other people’s work to gain attention for myself.

Instead, I shared one article on Twitter and Facebook (both my personal page and The Outspoken TULIP page). You’ll find the rest on last week’s and tomorrow’s Saturday Sampler. These bloggers did outstanding work, and therefore deserve full recognition.

Meanwhile, may I remember that God Himself became a Man in order to die a humiliating death so that He could bring salvation to those who believe in Him. Any sacrifice I   could purport to make obviously pale in comparison to His humility, but the magnificent example encourages me to avoid selfish ambition.

So, even though other bloggers roused me out of my boredom with Christmas, I come to you empty handed this year. And perhaps my inability to offer any unique perspective can remind all of us of our wondrous Savior Jesus Christ Who emptied Himself for our salvation. O come, let us adore Him!

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Sometimes It Causes Me To Tremble

Intricate Boarder 01YouTube has almost everything! Including R.C. Sproul’s Holiness of God series, which John and I have been watching all weekend.

The Lord’s timing in getting me interested in watching this series couldn’t be more fascinating. Throughout 2017, I’ve opened my private prayer time by worshiping God for His holiness and recalling the opening scene in Isaiah 6.

 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” ~~Isaiah 6:1-7 (ESV)

Perhaps that’s a familiar passage to you. I hope so in the sense that I hope you read your Bible regularly and thoroughly. But I hope it’s not so familiar to you that you gloss over it without trembling at the description of God’s powerful, almost dreadful, holiness.

And yes, I realize I blogged about holiness less than two weeks ago, quoting this same passage. In that article I focused on how casual we are toward God in contrast to Isaiah and the apostle John. Although they trembled and fainted when they encountered God’s holiness, we consider Jesus our buddy who will overlook our sin and give us whatever we ask.

Today I want to briefly remark that truly coming into contact with the holiness of God confronts us with our sinfulness. When we recognize His absolute purity and see His separation from even the slightest degree of corruption, we can’t help but also see our wretchedness in comparison. Isaiah certainly saw the contrast, and immediately wailed over his unclean condition.

The Lord cleansed Isaiah by applying a burning coal to his lips. While we shouldn’t interpret Isaiah’s experience as allegorical to our own, may I suggest that cleansing us from our sin also requires pain. In our case, it’s often the pain of separating from sinful habits, relationships or situations that corrupt our souls.

Encountering God’s holiness demands that we repent of our unholiness. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit Himself empowers this repentance as we walk in obedience to Him. Our flesh won’t like this obedience any more than Isaiah liked the searing coal on his sensitive lips, but the joy of having the Lord make us holy is well worth it.

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Saturday Sampler: December 3 — December 9

penguin-sampler

Let’s begin with Pastor Colin Smith’s encouraging post, Three Ways Your Faith is Tested When God Says “No” in Unlocking the Bible. Drawing from God’s refusal to allow David to build the Temple, Smith explains ways that personal disappointment can actually develop our maturity in Christ.

The Santa Claus dilemma always catches Christian parents this time of year. You young moms out there might appreciate reading The Mailbag: What should we tell our kids about Santa Claus? by Michelle Lesley. I like her Biblical and practical approach, especially in preserving the fun of Christmas without lapsing into sin or doctrinal error.

Andrew Gutierrez, in an article aimed primarily at youth leaders in The Cripplegate, admonishes us Thou Shalt Not Create Little “Christian” Narcissists. I include it here because all of us struggle with narcissism, and consequently would benefit from applying the principles that Gutierrez sets forth.

In the present climate of accusations against public figures, even pastors are subject to scrutiny. As Tim Challies demonstrates in Do Not Admit a Charge Against an Elder, Except..., churches have guidelines for disciplining their leaders in the pages of Scripture. Don’t miss this balanced and Biblical treatment of a crucial matter in today’s church.

Once again, Erin Benziger nails it with Acceptable Sins Not Excepted: Pride in her Do Not Be Surprised blog. She has a gentle, but firm, caution for those of us in the Reformed camp that needs to be heeded.

In this season of giving, Lesley A. of Growing 4 Life encourages us to continue Serving All, All the Time. It’s refreshing to come across an essay elevating the practical application of God’s Word.

What Do We Really Know about the Three Wise Men? asks Mark Ward in his article for the Logos Software Blog. He uses this question from his own children to give us a practical lesson in separating fact from tradition as we interpret familiar Scriptures.

Writing for Parking Space 23, Greg Peterson directs our attention to A Christmas Song that Doesn’t Belong … But Does. He does more than simply informing us of some hymn writing trivia (although that’s quite fascinating in and of itself); he causes us to rejoice in all of Christ’s promises to bring salvation.

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Welch Revivals, Bondage And Actual Obedience To The Lord

Bible Mask MedievalFor years, John and I have been getting DVDs from Netflix. For reasons that would distract from the point of this blog post, we’ll be closing our account soon, so we’re watching the last few movies on our queue.

A few nights ago, we watched a documentary about Evan Roberts, an evangelist during the Welch revivals in the early 1900s. I knew very little about either Roberts or the Welch revivals,  but I thought the movie might be interesting. And okay, I hoped to glimpse places I’d seen during my three months in Wales.

The movie definitely brought back memories (including memories of Wales), but not exactly the memories of lush green hills dotted with sheep or ruins of medieval castles that I’d anticipated. Instead, watching Roberts agony as he sought God through one spiritual experience after another while he burdened himself with the legalism of fearing to step outside of God’s  will reminded me of the Bible college I attended in Wales. And of Charismatic teaching in general.

I’d never really seen the connection between legalism and the dependence on spiritual experiences until I watched that movie, but the relationship struck me powerfully. Certainly we see it in 21st Century evangelicals (even those who don’t consider themselves to be Charismatics) as they urge us to expect personal revelation from God and warn us against “stepping out of God’s will.” I remembered the desperation to receive personal guidance, which caused me to wrench fragments of Scripture out of context, and pleading with God to speak to me lest I make a mistake and foil His plan.

What a sad way to go through life!

And what an affront to the sovereignty of God, as well as to His love! Yes, the Lord commands our obedience, but He calls us to obey what He clearly commands in His Word, not impressions or voices in our head telling us whom to marry or what job to accept. God’s principles outline what characteristics to look for in a husband. Marry whomever you please, as long as he possesses those characteristics and proposes to you. Take the job as long as the employer doesn’t ask you to violate Scripture. Don’t agonize unnecessarily, straining for some  mystical experience to offer confirmation.

People like Evan Roberts may appear quite spiritual, but their gnosticism never allows them to walk in the Spirit. Consider Paul’s words to the Colossians:

20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. ~~Colossians 2:20-23 (ESV)

Although I don’t recommend the documentary (which is why I won’t give the title), I’m glad I watched it because it clarified some of the dangers in Charismatic teaching. I certainly praise God for mercifully rescuing me from that bondage.

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