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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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

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

Saturday Sampler: November 11 — November 17

Colored Swirls

As Christians, we are Aliens and exiles in this lost and dying world, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. Mike Ratliff explains this status in Possessing the Treasure.

Fascinated by the prophecy of Scripture, Elizabeth Prata named her blog The End Time. She writes Praises for prophecy, higher praises for the One who ordains it as a tribute to God’s amazing sovereignty. Who says doctrine can’t inspire worship?

Coming from a church in California that, despite its doctrinal flaws, taught Tuesday night Bible Studies directly from the Bible, I felt perplexed when I moved to Massachusetts and joined a women’s Bible Study that used DVDs and a workbook. So I appreciate Michelle Lesley for her firm stand in The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.” Her passionate appeal should get our attention!

Writing for Knowable Word, Ryan Higginbottom outlines Three Important Contexts for Bible Study that we really need to understand.You’ll find these contexts useful in working through God’s Word.

Reformation 21 runs Revoice, or God’s Voice? by Harry Reeder, reviewing this past summer’s Revoice Conference for LBGTQ Christians. His Biblical response to the conference reminds us to use discernment in evaluating evangelical trends, especially when those trends claim to align with traditional Christian teaching.

How do you respond when your brothers and sisters in Christ suffer?  Erin Benziger of Do Not Be Surprised discusses our responsibility in such situations by writing Sibling Status Means Something. I love Erin’s ability to reason from Scripture.

In an article for  The Ethics & Religious Liberties Commission, Andrew T. Walker shows us a real life example of why Cultural winsomeness will not be enough for Christians with the story of Isabella Chow. What happened to this brave young lady underscores my reason for starting this blog, so I implore you to read it.

As usual, Leslie A uses her Growing 4 Life blog to bring a challenge that shakes the soul.  Actually, I love her blog for that  very reason! My Way or His Way? may not be the most comfortable item you’ve ever read (I’m definitely squirming), but I think each one of us needs to seriously consider what she has to say.

Don’t Apologize For The Bible counsels Jim Essian in For The Church. He acknowledges that our culture pressures us to feel guilty about Biblical positions that contradict political correctness, but he explains how to see the beauty in those positions.

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Throwback Thursday: I Make A Decidedly Putrid Message (And So Do You!)

Putrid works

This post first appeared on July 5, 2017.

In recent years, the notion that we can “be the message” has resurrected the old cliche, “Preach the Gospel–if necessary, use words.” The social gospel movement, in particular, capitalizes on this cliche for the purpose of using works of charity almost in place of preaching the Gospel. They rationalize that, because of their acts of service, people will ask what motivates them to serve, thus opening the door for evangelism.

In an effort to discern the validity of this popular idea, we need to examine it in light of what the Word of God teaches. I’ll refer to several Scriptures, so please click the links; quoting so many of them directly in one blog post might put me in danger of violating the ESV copyright permission.

I agree that a person’s behavior, in general, demonstrates his true beliefs. James 2:14-26 indeed maintains that “faith without works is dead.” Jesus Himself warned that He will reject those who call Him Lord while actively disobeying His commandments (Matthew 7:21-27). The proponents of the social gospel must be commended, therefore, for their desire to address the obvious disconnect between what evangelicals profess to believe and how we actually live. The non-Christian world sees our hypocrisy, and uses it as an excuse to reject Christ.

That said, our good behavior, in and of itself, can only (at best) lead people to ask us about the Lord (1 Peter 3:15). Of course, we should remember the broader context of this verse. 1 Peter 3:8-22 offers guidelines to Christians in the midst of suffering for their commitment to Christ. The First Century believers to whom Peter originally wrote amazed their critics by clinging to Jesus when simply renouncing Him would have liberated them from persecution. They did far more than live good lives. They proclaimed Christ in an empire that made such proclamations punishable by death.

Their potential martyrdom went far beyond “right living.” Good behavior certainly reflects God’s standards for personal holiness, but without accompanying words about the grace of God that transforms a sinner, such good behavior degenerates into self-righteous morality that the Lord considers putrid (see Isaiah 64:6).

As a matter of fact, dear readers, not one of us leads a life that replaces the need to articulate the Gospel. We are declared righteous by virtue of the Lord’s death, burial and resurrection rather than by our deeds, meaning that our lives continue to be tainted by our proclivity to sin (see Romans 7:7-24). We should, of course, walk in obedience to the Lord, but we dare not entertain the notion that social justice is enough to win anyone to Christ.

The Gospel requires that you and I actually talk about sin, hell, repentance and the fact that only Jesus provides salvation from God’s wrath. We can dig wells, help children with disabilities and run food pantries all we want, but unless we accompany those activities with a clear proclamation of the Gospel, people will see no difference between us and members of the Elks club. And they’ll be looking at us, not at the Lord Jesus Christ.

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The Damage We Can Do

 

Psalm 19V14 B&WI want to believe that Brett Kavanaugh is innocent of the sexual assault charges leveled against him. I’m not sure what you want to believe about them, through I reckon your leanings largely depend on your political convictions. As do mine. To honor the Lord in this matter, however, we should set our political agendas aside and pray that the truth would come out.

The fact is, neither you nor I were there on either occasion. We can’t condemn him, nor can we exonerate him. We weren’t there, folks! We have no way of knowing what happened. We can only agree that if he’s guilty, he certainly shouldn’t serve on the Supreme Court.

But what if he’s innocent? What if these women Continue reading

Saturday Sampler: September 2 — September 8

Twist Blend Flowers Sampler

There’s nothing like studying Scripture itself, ladies. I love the way Michelle Lesley constantly encourages us to turn away from canned Bible Studies (which usually aren’t doctrinally sound) in favor of cracking open our own Bibles. Look at The Mailbag: How can I get started studying the Bible itself? for her practical suggestions.

Dealing with people who say God spoke to them or talk about other manifestations can be tricky. Never fear! Clint Archer of The Cripplegate offers great counsel with How do I evaluate claims of supernatural experiences? He has some superb ideas. But we need to question his assertion that he’s Clark Kent.

Hannah Roberts-Antunes invites us to #CheckYourHeart in her post for Biblical Woman. Notice the encouraging twist she brings out from Scripture to distinguish godly self-examination from morbid introspection.

Is It God’s Will to Always Heal? by Tim Barnett of Stand To Reason tells the heartwrenching story of his friend Alex, who has brain cancer. Learn how false teaching multiples this young man’s suffering.

In Things Above Us, Allen Nelson IV writes How to Cut Up Your Bible as an encouragement to cherish the Word of God. In the current evangelical climate, we sadly need reminders like this one. As an added bonus, Nelson produces some of the finest writing I’ve ever seen in a blog post.

Check out John Ellis’ Why Sex Outside Marriage Is a Sin in adayinhiscourt for a perspective that often gets ignored. Whether you’re struggling with sexual temptation yourself or you’re raising teenagers who need guidance in this area, you can certainly benefit from this article.

Why is personal holiness dependent on avoiding false teaching? Mike Ratliff of Possessing the Treasure answers this question with Personal holiness is not an option. I love this demonstration of using discernment for godly reasons.

Take a look at Phil Johnson’s Biblical reasoning in A Gospel Issue? He gets to the heart of why so many of us see serious danger within the evangelical embrace of the Social Justice Movement. And, if you haven’t done so already, please consider signing The Statement on Social Justice & The Gospel.

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