Saturday Sampler: July 30 — August 5

Extruded FunsiesVisit Growing 4 Life to see how Leslie A has revived her series on discernment with Learn to Discern: How Do You Determine What is True, Right, and Good? All of us need to think seriously about the way we make these determinations.

In her article for 9Marks, Carrie Russell writes about Ministry to Women When There’s No “Women’s Ministry”. Her thoughts on the topic go against popular ideas, but she successfully substantiates them with Scripture.

Speaking from her personal experience, Jennifer at One Hired Late In The Day offers Turnstile Salvation as evidence that nobody can claim a relationship with the Lord simply because Christian parents raised her. Maybe Jennifer states the obvious. Then again, maybe not.

In his mid-teens, my Catholic-turned-agnostic husband decided to see what the Bible said about the origins of life, so he picked up a Catholic New Testament. The Holy Spirit used it to bring him to salvation. Tom’s article, Sketchy Catholic versions of the Bible were stepping stones to salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone in excatholic4christ, reminds me of John’s testimony. Even better, it reminds me of the power off God’s Word!

Denny Burk outlines Four stages of “evangelical” affirmation of gay marriage as a warning to us all.

In her blog, Renewed In Truth Discipleship, Lara d’Entremont uncovers The Real Reason to Remain Sexually Pure. She directs her teaching to women waiting to be married, single women and women who teach younger women.

Guiding us through Psalm 19, Lisa Morris of Conforming To The Truth lists 6 Reasons  to Glory in the Sufficiency of Scripture. Honestly, professing Christians often forget (or at least ignore) the marvelous provision God has made for us by His Word. Lisa’s blog post serves as a helpful refresher on this essential point of faith.

How about a double dose of Leslie A this week? Her candor in Grace That Changes convicts me of my own self-righteousness, which I appreciate. So often, we lose sight of God’s gentleness with us, and consequently get impatient with less mature believers. Leslie’s article encourages us as we endeavor to overcome that sin. Yet she offers an important balance.

Coming to Christ as an adult, Jennifer of One Hired Late In The Day has experienced both the world’s view of womanhood and the Lord’s. From this rare vantage point, she unveils the contrast between  Biblical vs. Secular Womanhood. Ladies, we can’t hear these things too often.

As I’ve been saying for two years, Obergefell vs Hodges opened a door for a full assault on traditional values. John Ellis’ article in PJ Media, Transgender Student Sues Private School in California, sadly confirms my warnings, but it also encourages us to stand firm.

Those who see no harm in the ordination of women will want to read The Slippery Slope and the Jesus Box by Richard D. Philips on the Reformation 21 blog. Philips’ assertion doesn’t at all surprise me, but it may help you to understand the dangers of compromising Scripture in this seemingly minor area. Obedience to Scripture matters!

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From The Archives: Unnecessary Self-Analysis

I originally published this blog post on January 30, 2016.

The Lord, for reasons known only to Him, kept me single until a month before my 49th birthday. His decision  troubled me greatly, to say the least.

During those anguished years of singleness, “Christian psychology” made its way into the church I’d joined. Consequently, I felt compelled to analyze my desire to marry, much as my friends tried to analyze  their same sex attractions.  Borrowing from that church’s use of psychological models, I reasoned that uncovering the underlying cause of my longing for a husband would unlock ways that Jesus could directly provide me with romantic fulfillment.

You may have guessed that my quest never yielded the answers I sought. I struggled with enormous self-condemnation because Jesus didn’t satisfy me. So of  course  I then searched for explanations regarding my apparent resistance to Him. I read countless “Christian” books on co-dependency, emotional dependency, inner  healing, and all sorts of other psychological blocks to “receiving God’s love.” But my  desire for marriage stubbornly remained.

Looking back, I easily see that romantic fulfillment was an idol. Mercifully, the Lord did eventually bless me with a marriage far beyond my expectations, for which I praise Him. But what if He hadn’t?

Scripture says that God  created us for His pleasure and purposes, not so that He could cater to our “felt needs.”

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they existed and were created.” ~~Revelation 4:11 (ESV)

The King James Version says “and for thy pleasure they are created.” So, while my marriage extends happiness as a wonderful by-product, the Lord actually brought it about to glorify Himself. If He had chosen to keep me single, He would have also done that for His glory. My emotional gratification really matters little in comparison to how He chooses to glorify Himself through me.

As post-modern evangelicals shift increasingly toward a gospel that requires the Lord to meet our emotional needs, we lose sight of the true Gospel that revolves around Him. The Lord primarily cares about making us holy. He died in order to take the wrath of God that rightly belongs to each of us so that we, as a corporate Church, might be His eternal Bride. Thus, His purpose in redeeming us goes far beyond our temporal happiness.

When we then shift the emphasis from His eternal joy to what we can get out of Him in this life, we cheapen the Gospel. In fact, dear sisters in Christ, we cheapen Christ. The hours we waste in psychological counseling could be used in studying and applying Scripture as we seek to live in holiness before Him.

“Christian” psychology, by offering non-existent answers to questions we have no business asking in the first place, subtly shifts God into the role of our Servant. Even though He does graciously bless us, we must break out of our insidious attitude that He has an obligation to fulfill us emotionally. We exist to please Him, and we can rejoice that He takes pleasure in us.

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Saturday Sampler: July 23 — July 29

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For those who wonder why people object so strongly to The Message paraphrase of the Bible, I beg you to read Eugene Peterson by Justin Peters. He compares selected passages with more standard Bible translations to show why this paraphrase cannot be trusted.

One of the things I like best about Michelle Lesley is her unwillingness to compromise God’s Word. Her post, The Mailbag: Female Pastors – False Teachers or Just Sinning?, looks at the issue fairly while raising important questions based on both Scripture and Michelle’s observation. I do wish she would have also commented on women who, although they don’t hold the office of pastor, teach men.

Discernment ministry isn’t the path to popularity, as Leslie A of Growing 4 Life tells us in Don’t Expect a Crowd.

The problem with hip humility by Jennifer at One Hired Late In The Day hits the nail on the head. Is it really cool to cuss a little if we profess to love Jesus? Jennifer causes us to think seriously about such casual attitudes.

What can I say about Erin Benziger’s essay, On the Dangers of Distorting God’s Grace, which you’ll find on Do Not Surprised? She gives a healthy balance on responding to the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. I love her passion for His truth!

It bothers me that evangelicals teach people to expect God to speak to them apart from Scripture. So Elizabeth Prata’s pointed essay, How did they ever hear God without a how-to manual? in The End Time, both amuses and encourages me. She stands firm on the Word of God, as we all should.

Sunny Shell of Abandoned to Christ writes a heartfelt blog entry called Content in Christ Alone that, to be honest, addresses a malaise common to all women. Although she doesn’t say anything particularly novel, she certainly reminds us of basic Biblical truth. Sometimes we need such reminders.

Are you in that heartwrenching season of praying earnestly for someone, only to see them harden themselves against the Gospel? If so, Even If He Doesn’t by Staci Eastin of Out of the Ordinary will most assuredly minister to you.

On her blog, Unified in Truth, Nikki Campbell educates us on The Downgrade Controversy that dogged the ministry of C.H. Spurgeon and relates it to the downgrade in evangelical churches today. She features a short, but compelling video with John MacArthur explaining how history is sadly repeating itself, as well as how pastors and congregations can resist this unbiblical trend.

Let’s add a second article by Leslie A., if only to validate my pet peeve regarding smart phones. Every Three Seconds looks at our addiction to these devices as well as suggesting ways to use them more responsibly and in ways that honor God.

Visiting an Embassy by Jesse Johnson is a slight departure from the sort of writing that usually appears in The Cripplegate. It also makes a powerful point about seeker-sensitive churches.

Please don’t miss Amy Spreeman’s article, When women’s ministries abandon the Bible, on the Naomi’s Table website. It perplexes me that any Bible Study group would choose to study a book when they can study the very Word of God.

If you feel left out because you don’t hear God speak personally to you, check out God Doesn’t Talk to Me on Rachel’s danielthree 18 blog. She guides us on making right decisions. I’ll offer no hints on how she advises us to seek God’s will; I want you to read her counsel for yourselves.

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Saturday Sampler: April 2 — April 8

Three BeautiesLeslie A., who blogs at Growing 4 Life, writes Learn to Discern: Living in the Light to instruct and encourage those of us who are labeled as negative for our interest in discernment.

In her latest blog post for Biblical Woman, Candi Finch answers the question, Did I Educate Myself Out Of Marriage? She gently takes us back to the Word of God to correct worldly ideas about attracting a man as well as about marriage in general.

Although Denny Burk’s article, Why the Church Needs More Gray Hair, specifically addresses men, we “women of a certain age” can also benefit from his comments.

I love it when other bloggers address my pet peeves. In His Name is Yahweh, Jesse Johnson of The Cripplegate addresses the superstitious avoidance of using God’s Name — even in English Bible translations.

What does it mean to teach by allegorizing the scriptures? asks Elizabeth Prata of The End Time. Elizabeth helps us understand appropriate rules of interpreting and applying the Word of God.

KrizSummer artfully contrasts the world’s view of love with the Biblical definition of it in her post, Love is NOT Like That. Besides reminding us of basic points,  she adds thoughts that few people (including Christians) consider.

 

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Saturday Sampler: March 26 — April 1

Butterfly SamplerJohn Ellis’ piece in PJ Media, Teenage Boy Sues School Over Transgender Bathrooms is a political article rather than a specifically Christian one, but it serves as a reminder that our culture has chosen a path that degrades most of society. Christians must prepare to be marginalized as a new version of “morality” takes over.

Continuing her series on discernment at Growing 4 Life, Leslie A. writes Learn to Discern: Acknowledging the War. Find out how (and why) spiritual warfare fits into using discernment properly.

Does the Lord care how we worship Him? Rebekah Womble, blogging at Wise In His Eyes, believes He does. Her blog post, The Freedom of Worshipping God’s Way (she spelled worshiping with two p’s, not me), helps us understand why we must avoid self-styled approaches to worshiping a holy God.

Why Bargain With God?, a post that Kennedy Mathis wrote for Biblical Woman, brings back memories of my struggles as a single woman. But the principle she’s learned really applies  to any struggle Christians have.

As you can tell, I appreciate the series on cessationism that Jordan Standridge has been doing for The Cripplegate this month. His latest article, Three Reasons God is a Cessationist, employs arguments I’ve heard before, but they’re not common arguments. Please, if you have any Charismatic or continualist leanings, consider the points he makes.

Cameras Buettel, writing for the Grace To You Blog, says You Might Be A Pharisee If… This essay helps us examine ourselves (and others) more effectively to make sure we remain faithful to the Bible.

Jennifer of One Hired Late In The Day writes Same Bible, different beliefs, showing how the Lord helped her work though a perplexing question. And while you’re on her website, please check out Deconstructing Absurdity: a discernment lesson to watch her tackle a recent Tweet by Rick Warren.

R.C. Sproul posts TULIP and Reformed Theology: Unconditional Election on the Ligonier blog. Appealing to Scripture, he both explains the doctrine of election and deals with the argument that election is unjust.

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Promise From God Or Baptized Divination?

Arriving at the conference, I enjoyed the anticipation. The year before, I’d met Shane (not his real name). Shane and I shared an interest in ex-gay ministry as well as ministry to people living with AIDS, but we also both enjoyed writing. During the year leading up to this conference, he initiated a lively correspondence, often sending me samples of the book he had started writing about how God prepared Christians for marriage. Of course, he’d won my heart.
My attendant/roommate and I entered our dorm room to find a tiny scroll, artfully tied with a green ribbon, placed on each of our pillows. She unrolled mine for me, revealing “A Scripture Promise For The Week.”

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland. ~~Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

I knew (intellectually) that I should resist the urge to interpret the “Scripture Promise” as assurance that my long history of romantic disappointment had ended, but Shane did things that week (and afterward) to further kindle my hopes. I’ll spare you the messy details of how my history with Shane played out, and  say only that the “new thing” in verse 19 had absolutely nothing to do with my romantic desires.

That memory comes to mind as I think about the narcissism in contemporary evangelical circles. Interestingly, when I read Isaiah 43 during my Quiet Time all these years later, I keep its historical context, as well as its prophetic intent in mind. Isaiah prophesied about two events: the Jews’ release from the Babylonian Captivity and (ultimately) the Messianic kingdom. Back in that dorm room during the conference, I turned that broad promise to Israel and the Church about God’s glorious plan for His collective people into a horoscope-like prediction tailored to my  selfish aspirations.

Most present-day evangelicals play similar games with God’s Word, I’m sorry to say. To a very large extent, pastors, teachers and   Christian books encourage us to privatize God’s Word into personal promises that spin far away from God’s main point. Yes, He guides us through Scripture’s principles–even in terms of selecting a spouse–but He most certainly doesn’t want us  wrenching fragments out of context as if the  Bible lends itself to some sort of baptized divination.

As I’ve been reading through the Old Testament these past few years, the Holy Spirit has shown me that I must read it at face  value rather than digging around for personal intimations. I may learn from His dealings with Israel, particularly as  I see my rebellion as a mirror image of theirs. I may see His call to holiness and apply it. But when  I make His promises to them for His kingdom into allegories about my personal fulfillment, I err. And I forget that Scripture revolves around Him!

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Saturday Sampler: February 19 — February 25

blendsArminians are Accidental Hyper-Calvinists, asserts Greg Pickles of Parking Space 23. I’ll resist further comment, certain that you’re already intrigued.

The second half of Rebekah Womble’s two-part series, The World’s “Ten Commandments” (6-10) appears in her blog, Wise In His Eyes. It’s sadly accurate in describing the attitudes of non-Christians. And while you’re on her website, be sure to read Loving Our Single Sisters: “Do’s” and “Don’t’s” for a helpful reminder of what unmarried women need from us.

If you haven’t done so yet, read Deadly Doctrines: Facing Evil Like Snakes and Doves by Tim Challies. I am coming around to his way of thinking in regard to discernment ministry, so I believe his article needs to be read and prayerfully considered.

Praise the Lord! Jessica Pickowicz has revived her blog, A Beautiful Thing. She resumes her series on erroneous practices of  evangelicals with Portraits of Superstition: Jeannie and her Bottle. I appreciate Jess for her courage to confront error.

Sometimes I wonder if present-day evangelicals have any idea why the Protestant Reformation happened. As Rachel of danielthree18 demonstrates in her blog post, Lent, Fasting, and Scripture, Christians no longer need to do anything to impress the Lord.

As a complement to Rachel’s piece,  you may want to read Jesse Johnson’s article, For Lent, give up Lent, in The Cripplegate.

Writing for Ligonier, Derek Thomas offers The Cure for a Lack of Fruit in our Christian Lives. This article encourages me more than anything I’ve ever read on the topic of assurance.

Why does the LORD allow false prophets? asks Elizabeth Prata of The End Time. She puts forth a truly fascinating argument in this essay. Please don’t miss it!

 

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Saturday Sampler: January 15–January 21

bible-samplerThe cult of Scientology is back in the news. In her compelling blog post, An Unexplored Mission Field, Erin Benziger of Do Not Be Surprised describes how this organization’s basic teachings contradict Biblical Christianity. But she goes further by reminding us what our response should be. Her article, ladies, helps us understand the real purpose and proper use of discernment.

In Don’t Worry Be Godly – Pt 2, Clint Archer of The Cripplegate concludes his series on anxiety. His practical application of Scripture encourages me. I think those of you who struggle with anxiety will appreciate this teaching.

Leslie A. recently had an unpleasant encounter with facial tissue while trying to survive a nasty cold. Her experience results in Velvet Soft, an interesting essay in Growing 4 Life that examines the need for discernment regarding “Christian” books and entertainment. Don’t necessarily assume they’re really Biblical.

Is Sexy a Sin? Candi Finch answers that question in her essay for Biblical Woman.

Speaking of important questions, Jennifer at One Hired Late In The Day asks Do You Consider Yourself A ‘Red Letter’ Christian? She explains what that term means and why it’s unbiblical.

Including a lesson on understanding Scripture verses in context, Rachel at danielthree18 writes Theology Thursday: All Things are Possible with God to prevent us from misapplying this beloved sentiment. And just when I’d planned to jump off the roof of our apartment building to try flying! Man, Rachel, you’re such a killjoy!

The division over President Trump is sad, and even sadder when professing Christians express animosity toward him. Therefore I appreciate Michelle Lesley for outlining 7 Ways to Pray During the Trump Administration, which carefully takes us through God’s Word to give us a Biblical attitude.

Rebekah Womble of Wise In His Eyes writes Let Me Be a Woman to review Elizabeth Eliott’s book of the same title. Even without reading the actual book, I gained great encouragement from Rebekah’s review. I think you’ll also learn some things about being a godly woman by reading it.

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Saturday Sampler: January 1 –January 7

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Using the book of Isaiah to substantiate his point, Ricky Alcanter of The Blazing Center asserts that 2016 Wasn’t the Worst Year Ever (And Next Year Will Be Okay Too). Pastor Alcanter offers godly wisdom at a time when far too many people (even Bible-believing Christians) face the temptation to despair.

I love the way Elizabeth Prata of The End Time writes Crouching at sin’s door: Lessons from Lot to illustrate that even the most righteous Christian must diligently guard against living a compromised lifestyle. Her essay will call you to evaluate how your daily life affects your presentation of the Gospel.

The website Doctrine Matters has a nifty page called DISCERNMENT RULES which provides ten basic rules for…well, discernment. You might want to save it as a reference tool.

John and I are physically disabled and technically elderly (ouch, it hurts to make that admission!), so the cold New England winters often force us to miss church. Thankfully, our pastor and board of elders understand our limitations and health concerns. They know we really want to worship with the body. Perhaps the fact that we have to miss church so often makes me bristle when young, able-bodied people casually skip church.  Eric Davis  of The Cripplegate addresses such people in his important blog post, Reasons We Miss Church  (But May Not Need To).

For those of you struggling to study the Bible,  Jen at One Hired Late In The Day has encouragement for you in her essay, Studying the Bible: How do I do it, and Where to Start? She offers basic ideas that anyone can easily implement.

Writing for Biblical Woman, Sydnee Peacock addresses single women in her post, 4 Pinterest Boards You Shouldn’t Have. Reading her thoughts brings back memories of how I had to guard my heart when I was in “no man’s land.” But her cautions in this article should extend to those of us who are married. The Lord calls all of us to purity.

I could comment on Why You Probably Don’t Need a Quiet Time, which Donald Whitney writes for this month’s issue of Table Talk Magazine. But I’d rather let you read it for yourselves.

Leslie A. of Growing 4 Life asks if we are Grateful or Greedy? in our attitudes toward Christ. She raises questions that make even the best of us uncomfortable. And that’s definitely a good thing! As a matter of fact, that’s why I love her blog so much.

Addressing the matter of ministering to women by boosting their self-esteem, Elizabeth Prata of The End Time writes Did God really say “You are precious to me, you are honored, and I love you”? Women’s ministries today. As an extra bonus, she throws in a practical lesson  on sharing “Christian” memes.

 

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What is ‘Bridal Mysticism’? And why is it so prevalent?

As my regular readers know, I suffered during my single years, longing to be married. Several woman in my church encouraged me (if you can call it encouragement) to let Jesus be my Husband. I sincerely tried to follow their advice, and felt condemned when couldn’t sustain romantic feelings toward Him.

Praise God for Elizabeth Prata’s excellent post exposing the false teaching that we can experience romantic and even erotic relationships with the Lord! Please read her essay to understand the unbiblical origins of this dastardly teaching and how it contrasts with the true Gospel.

The End Time

In 2005, Beth Moore was interviewed by Today’s Christian Woman magazine. They asked Moore:

Q. What led you to Jesus?

A. Beth Moore’s [2005] answer:

My Sunday-school teacher would hold up pictures of Jesus, and he looked so nice. I needed a hero, and Jesus seemed like one. I’d lie on the grass, stare up at the sky, and wonder what Jesus was like. Even as a child, I fell in love with him. After my freshman year in college, I was a camp counselor for sixth-grade girls. Early one morning, as the girls were sleeping, I sensed God’s presence enfold me. There were no audible words, no bright lights. But suddenly I knew, without a doubt, my future was entirely his. You are now mine, he told me. (source)

If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is very much like many other false teachers’ conversion stories.

It’s a…

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