The Vision That Really Matters

What’s your vision for your life? You’re supposed to answer that Jesus Himself is your vision. I’m supposed to give the same answer.

Often, however, lesser visions obscure Him. We focus on our husbands, our children, our career goals and even church responsibilities. And, in many respects, the Lord would have us pay careful attention  to those areas of life.

The balance comes when we see each of those areas as platforms to honor Christ. We look for ways to be godly wives and mothers. We desire to serve Him in our jobs and at church. All those roles should strengthen our vision of Him, helping us love Him more fully. In truth, He must be our vision.

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Saturday Sampler: August 26 — September 1

Vintage Tulip

I love Elizabeth Prata for many reasons. In particular, I love her boldness to speak unpopular truths in her blog, The End Time. Her essay, Shout Your Abortion, and John Owen on infanticide, offers no apology for unmasking the basic brutality behind the willful termination of a pregnancy.

Equally outspoken, Leslie A of Growing 4 Life answers the question, What Does the Bible Say About…(Being Relevant)? We should carefully consider the Scriptural arguments she makes.

Ancient Church 01Clint Archer, writing for The Cripplegate, examines Charismatic and mystical experiences in his pithy piece, Are claims of supernatural experience really that harmful (in 500 words)? You need to read this one!

Plucking Forbidden Fruit by  SharaC appears in Into the Foolishness of God with an interesting observation for control freaks.

The Christian Counseling & Educational Foundations blog includes Is Reading the Bible a Chore or a Delight? by Steve Midgley. You’ll appreciate his practical solution for making your time in God’s Word more enjoyable and fruitful, I think.

If you’d like to see an interesting perspective on developing ethnic diversity in local Little Girl Welcoming Advanced Maskchurches, look no further than The Domain for Truth, where SlimJim writes Ethnic Churches: A More Better Way than Bashing Them. I can’t remember when I’ve read an article this fascinating and thought-provoking! Even better, SlimJim writes as a pastor of an ethnic church.

Reading Michelle Lesley isn’t always safe. The Holy Spirit often uses her writing to convict me. See if her post, Wise to the Ways of the Worldly: 4 Ways Worldliness Sneaks In, and the Scriptures to Slay It doesn’t expose something in you. Dolly's portraitThat’s okay — conviction is a good thing!

In his article for Pyromaniacs, Colin L. Eakin underscores the importance of discernment. Sheep, or Wolf? A Call to Discern explores reasons that evangelicals fail to exercise discernment and suggests ways that we can cultivate this necessary skill.

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Saturday Sampler: August 5 — August 11

Ryan Higginbottom of Knowable Word helps us Overcome Common Excuses for Not Studying the Bible. I needed this little kick in the pants. Do you?Victoria Painting

Have you ever been called a judgmental hypocrite for contending for the faith? I have. Recently, in fact! So I appreciate The Natural Man, the visible Church, and telling the truth by Mike Ratliff of Possessing the Treasure. If you need encouragement to stand on  God’s Word, this is your article.

It doesn’t matter if someone we witness to claims to reject the Bible’s authority. God’s Word continues to be the means that the Holy Spirit uses to give people saving faith. In keeping with that truth, Jordan Standridge’s latest item in The Cripplegate shows us 3 Bible Passages to Study with Unbelievers that could help us in our evangelism efforts. As usual, Standridge writes with a Scriptural clarity that we desperately need.

It’s been a while since Lisa Morris has written on Conforming to the Truth, but she’s Michele Smithback!  Her study, Patience The Heart The Tongue and Our Love instructs us in applying the fruit of patience. I like her practical approach to this discipline. Welcome back, Lisa!

Douglas Wilson has been writing a chapter-by-chapter review of Aimee Byrd’s disturbing book, Why Can’t We Be Friends? on his blog, Blog & Mablog. I don’t want to feature each post in his series on Saturday Sampler, but Gaaa! Jezebel! definitely deserves attention. Of particular note is his reference to the Revoice Conference. The comparison between Aimee’s book and the conference had never occurred to me, but it really makes a lot of sense!

If you’re a mom sending your child off to college this month, warn your child to be careful about campus fellowship groups. Garrett O’Hara, in his contribution to Things Above Us, writes Extrabiblical Revelation: Being Chained to the Ocean Floor as an example of mysticism creeping into even non-Charismatic organizations at colleges and betty-portrait-painteduniversities.

In Getting “Unhitched” from the Old Testament? Andy Stanley Aims at Heresy, Albert Mohler evaluates Stanley’s latest controversial remarks through both Scripture and church history. This blog post underscores the important role of church history in exercising discernment concerning current problems in evangelical circles.

Responding to a question from a reader, C.T. Adams writes Question 34: How does one judge the fruits of others without being judgmental? in Faith Contender. This one might sting a little, just as any good antiseptic should, but it’s wonderfully cleansing. If you do any level of discernment ministry, I encourage you to Kristy Culverhouseconsider the admonition in this piece.

Feminism makes demands. Women want power that creates equality with men, evidently. Blogging in The End Time, Elizabeth Prata offers thoughts On empowerment from a Biblical perspective.

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Saturday Sampler: July 22 — July 28

3D Beads Sampler

I didn’t read Douglas Wilson’s The Facebook Penalty Box until after I published last week’s edition of Saturday Sampler, but his faithfulness to preserve Robert Gagnon’s banned Facebook post responding to the Revoice conference deserves attention. For several reasons. Wilson blogs at Blog & Mablog.

You’ve heard me say countless times that context is essential to interpreting the Bible. If you want more evidence that context makes a difference, read Do Children Need to Take Care of Their Parents? OR Another Reason Context Is Important by Mike Leake of Borrowed Light. You might even learn something about First Century Roman culture.

Hohn Cho, writing for Pyromaniacs, issues Convictions of the “Social” Justice Movement and Responses Thereto. Though this isn’t exactly light reading, it gives us a handle on this movement’s main tenants and examines those tenants through the lens of Scripture.

Reflecting on the life of a woman who greatly influenced her, Erin Benziger writes A Life Exhausted for Jesus in Do Not Be Surprised.

On her blog, The End Time, Elizabeth Prata reminds us that Taming the Tongue on Social Media is a responsibility that Christians must take seriously.  She offers an interesting perspective on silence that we typically overlook in discussions on this matter. Her essay deserves attention just for that.

We’ve all asked Where Do People Who Never Hear of Jesus Go When They Die? In his weekly contribution to The Cripplegate, Jordan Standridge answers this question from Scripture and then explains our responsibility to evangelize all nations.

Inevitably, most Christians find something about God that, to be honest, we just don’t like. Addressing that reality in his blog post for Things Above Us, Michael Coughlan writes When the Honeymoon is Over to both confront and encourage us. His observations deserve consideration.

What Is The Greatest Motivation In Your Life? asks Carol Ann Kiker in her Biblical Woman blog post. Her application of principles in Colossians 3 to various aspects of daily life is practical and honoring to the Lord.

Giving us a birds eye view of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, Peter Krol writes Context Matters: You Have Heard That it was Said…But I Say to You in Knowable Word. If the current chatter about laying aside the Old Testament intrigues you, I beg  you to read this study and consider how Jesus regarded it.

Sometimes I believe Michelle Lesley and I lead parallel lives. At least spiritually. I nodded in knowing agreement as I read When God Answers the “Wrong” Prayer. Michelle models how godly women should pray, but also how to respond when God answers the one prayer that our flesh secretly hopes He doesn’t hear.

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Flashback Friday: Not Afraid To Fear The Lord

I originally published this article on May 19, 2017.

 

Serious Little Boy01Evangelicals in the past 50 or so years have carefully minimized (or avoided altogether) the subject of fearing God. When, in the course of a group Bible Study, they inadvertently encounter verses about fearing God, they cough out a few sentences about simply revering Him before rapidly moving on to more manageable verses.

Fearing God isn’t politically correct anymore, even among Bible-believing Christians. We much prefer dwelling on the Lord’s goodness, compassion and love. That way, we keep Him much more approachable, even when we persist in our pet sins. Even more to the point, we make Him more attractive (we think) to non-Christians when we evangelize them. Talking about fearing Him, we reason, makes Him less marketable.

Scripture, however, never seems all that concerned with the Lord’s marketability, nor with keeping us comfortable even in our disobedience. Even the beloved book of Psalms, which often consoles false converts with poetic assurances of God’s love and mercy, insists that we need to fear Him.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    all those who practice it have a good understanding.
    His praise endures forever! ~~Psalm 111:10 (ESV)

Does fearing God mean feeling literally afraid of Him? Well, yeah. Sometimes such fear is highly appropriate, actually. Such fear acknowledges His authority to establish His standards of how Christians ought to behave, and to discipline us when we violate His standards.

In considering the fear of the Lord, we must clarify that genuinely saved Christians can fear Him without doubting His love for us. Hebrews 12:6 explains that, as our heavenly Father, He disciplines the ones He loves. I realize that postmodern parenting, influenced by psychological models, often consider it unhealthy for children to fear parents, but God graciously allowed me to grow up in a time when I both knew the security of my mom’s love and feared her discipline.

I was a willful child (and, to my shame, I’m still very willful). In school, I had no problem defying a certain teacher. If he chose to punish my disobedience, I was perfectly fine with that. But I always begged him not to tell my mom. He always did, once even going to her workplace! And, although she really wasn’t as harsh with me as he was, I feared her discipline far more than I feared his.

Fearing God helps me obey Him more consistently. I know He won’t revoke my salvation because of my sin, but I also know that facing Him in judgment and accounting for ways I squandered opportunities to serve Him will be painful. I fear dishonoring Him, even as I rejoice in knowing that I will spend eternity with Him.

Fearing God gives me discernment to live in a manner that pleases Him. It teaches me holiness. Maybe fearing Him isn’t fashionable in the 21st Century, and maybe psychologists would disapprove of my fear of Him, but the Bible recommends this holy fear. It calls it the beginning of wisdom.

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Saturday Sampler: June 17 — June 23

Bows SamplerOkay ladies, summer has already made its grand entrance, bringing sizzling temperatures to a large portion of the United States. Hot weather, of course, ushers in the temptation to dress in ways that might not be honoring to the Lord. Kari Dent of living in paradise courageously writes Dear Sisters to speak frankly about our call to modesty.

Rarely can I curate an edition of Saturday Sampler without including something that Leslie A posts in Growing 4 Life. This week’s essay, Simply Broken or Thoroughly Dead? requires us to think Biblically about our relationship with sin and the current trend to call ourselves broken. As usual, you really shouldn’t miss this one!

Women struggle with improper thoughts as much as men do. In response to this reality, Amanda Walker shows strategies for Guarding Your Heart…On Purpose in her latest post for Bible Study Woman. Although her approach isn’t exactly novel, it reminds us to protect our minds from anything that distracts from the Lord.

We could all use the Evangelism Encouragement that Michelle Lesley offers. Praise the Lord for her Scriptural perspective on seeing results when we witness to unbelievers.

Elizabeth Prata, in The End Time, uses an Italian Renaissance painting to demonstrate that  Bad fruit is bad, thus warning us against false teachers. Okay, I’m a sucker for Italian Renaissance art, but Elizabeth’s essay really is worth reading whether you like art or not.

Happy Birthday to Two Faithful Preachers from Erin Benziger. To learn the identities of these two men, and how their ministries parallel each other, go over to Erin’s Do Not Be Surprised blog, which you should read regularly anyway.

Blogging for Stand to Reason, Natasha Crain provides A Parent’s Guide to the 5 Skeptics Who Want to Shame Your Kids for Being Christian. You don’t have to be a mom in order to benefit from Natasha’s counsel, however; each of us encounters these common objections to Christianity.

SlimJim, who blogs at The Domain for Truth, gets it right with Christians Must Grow Deeper In Biblical Doctrines. His assertion is near and dear to my heart. Please read his Scriptural reasoning for making this claim.

Yesterday I started to blog about the upcoming Revoice conference, but after reading As the Serpent Uncoils by Douglas Wilson in Blog & Mablog I’m glad I held off. Doug approaches the controversy with a fresh, but Biblical, perspective that needs to be considered as professing Christians demand to retain homosexuality as their identity.

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Saturday Sampler: February 11 — February 17

Umbrella Sampler

Psychology has no place in the church, as Leslie A of Growing 4 Life shows us in What Should I Look for in a Biblical Counselor? It encourages me to see more Christians speaking up about the dangers of “Christian” psychology.

In addition to my own trials lately, I’ve watched a friend suffer through her husband’s terminal cancer. So Sarah Walton’s article, Why the Church Needs Suffering in Unlocking the Bible, refreshes my perspective by bringing me back to Scriptures and principles that I’d all but forgotten. See whether or not her words benefit you.

Reprising her March 3, 2017 blog post, Michelle Lesley of Discipleship for Christian Women lists 40 Things to Give Up for Lent. Number 1 is my personal favorite. What’s yours? Use my Comments Section to tell me.

I’m not the only blogger to reprise her article about the Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy.  Erin Benziger of Do Not Be Surprised also resurrects  the article she wrote three years ago. Erasing the Grey definitely deserves your attention!

Those of you who are moms will appreciate Scott Slayton’s When You Lose Your Temper With Your Children on One Degree to Another. Even aunts and people in ministries to children can benefit from Slayton’s godly counsel. As a matter of fact, anyone with anger issues should apply the principles to all their interactions with children and adults.

In a second post written for Unlocking the Bible, Judy Allen suggests Five Questions to Ask About Entertainment. Each question has a corresponding Scripture to help us evaluate the media we consume in ways that honor the Lord.  I love the way she challenges us to think of what we read, watch and do in terms of spiritual merit.

Assisted suicide is not a pretty topic, but it’s something Christians will need to address. Jen Oshman discusses Five Reasons for Assisted Suicide (And Crucial Responses to Each One) to help us navigate conversations with those who honestly think this practice is a humane way to deal with human suffering.

The aggressive movement of the LBGTQ community has serious ramifications for Christians, as Is it okay for the state to take your child away because you won’t affirm his transgender feelings? by Denny Burk demonstrates.  I struggled over whether or not to include such a dark article in Saturday Sampler, but decided that I created The Outspoken TULIP to prepare women for the persecution that knocks at the door of the Western church. Therefore I believe it necessary to draw your attention to this matter. Scenarios like the one Burk narrates will only increase. We must prepare for them.

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