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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Familiar Psalm, Unfamiliar Hymn

Tragically, one could argue that hymns in general are unfamiliar to most professing evangelicals. But I digress.

Psalm 23 is well-known, even among non-Christians. Almost any movie with a funeral scene includes a minister somberly reciting its words as mourners gather around the grave, allowing avid movie buffs to subconsciously memorize it regardless of their religious views. And those who identify as Christians definitely find comfort in its beautiful imagery.

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” We draw strength from these words, as well as the words which follow them. Often we speak them to ourselves in times of crisis, assuring ourselves that — despite the most unspeakable circumstances — our Shepherd continues to guide and protect us. We take solace in knowing that we “will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Last Sunday I encountered a hymn based on Psalm 23 that I’d never heard until then. I’m guessing it’s unfamiliar to many of you. Perhaps it might give you fresh perspective on this psalm that we know so well.

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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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There’s Suffering, And Then There’s Suffering For The Gospel

Young Lady 01My Cerebral Palsy naturally drew me to the various Bible verses on suffering when I was young. And my friends often read those verses to me during times of frustration and discouragement. Ministries to people with disabilities characteristically use those verses in their books and seminars.

A few of the Scriptures used in ministering to the disabled (and others who experience profound suffering) actually do apply to such situations. Please understand that I support using them when we can do so without violating their context. Hurting people need assurance that God cares about their struggles. That He has a purpose in allowing them to suffer.  Certainly, using God’s Word to extend comfort and encouragement must never be overlooked or disdained.

But lately I’ve been thinking about how often evangelicals focus those Scriptures on the types of suffering that don’t really discriminate between Christians and non-Christians. Many non-Christians sit in wheelchairs, go through divorces, bury loved ones and lose jobs just before the holidays. Yet God’s promises don’t apply to them.

You see, most of the New Testament Scriptures about suffering address a particular type of suffering. They specifically target suffering persecution for the sake of the Gospel.

Let me offer an example of a passage I often turned to for comfort when I was young.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ~~1 Peter 1:6-7 (ESV)

I grabbed on to the phrase, “various trials,” quite confident that Cerebral Palsy fell somewhere under that umbrella. I appropriated that promise with gusto! Clearly, the Lord would reward me, simply because I spent my life in a wheelchair, right?

Wrong!

When you read 1 Peter in its entirety, you find that he wrote this letter to persecuted Christians who suffered because of their stand for Jesus. They had been scattered throughout the known world, fleeing from those who would kill them for the crime of being Christians. Yet many of them still ended up in regions that were hostile to the Gospel — and therefore hostile to them.

Peter wrote his first letter to these beleaguered Christians, reminding them that they weren’t merely strangers in their adopted countries. They were also (and perhaps more profoundly) aliens to the world system that hated Christ. As such, they would most likely suffer persecution again.

1 Peter is really written as an encouragement to Christians on how to conduct themselves in environments that didn’t tolerate their commitment to Christ. In this context, the various trials he mentioned specifically referred the sufferings they endured for the Gospel.

As 21st Century culture grows in animosity toward Christ and those who represent Him, we must expect to suffer for Him. And it’s that suffering (rather than suffering because of disability, bereavement, divorce or job loss) that this passage addresses. Certainly, it applies to us. But let’s be sure to make the proper application.

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