Saturday Sampler: March 17 — March 23

Five Easter Babies

Have you ever heard of Sign Chi Do? Since it’s different from most type of Eastern meditation, you might think Christians can practice it. C.T. Adams evaluates this possibility in Profile 23: Sign Chi Do, an article appearing in Faith Contender. I appreciate this information.

Maybe you’re not moving any time soon. But if you are, consider the advice John Ellis gives in Make Finding a Church a Priority in adayinhiscourt. He presents ideas I wish I’d implemented when I moved from California to Massachusetts.

The lady who blogs at Biblical Beginnings does an outstanding job of confronting a popular misinterpretation of a beloved parable that Christ told.  Twisted Tuesday — The Pearl of Great Price both demonstrates proper hermeneutics and challenges teachings on Christian self-esteem.

In Thy Word Is Truth, Erin Benziger again helps us reflect on the sufficiency of Scripture. We all need reminders of the power of Gods Word. Erin blogs at Do Not Be Surprised.

Quoting at length from a blog post she found on The Masters Seminary website, Amy Spreeman of Naomi’s  Table asks, Do you love the deceived? For those involved in discernment ministry, this question is imperative.

Throwback Thursday ~ 9 Ways NOT to Fight with Your Husband by Michelle Lesley makes me gulp a little because I’ve committed some of these infractions in my own marriage. May I learn to fight fairly, honoring both John and the Lord.

Here’s an interesting perspective on Biblical unity and separation by Mike Ratliff on his blog, Possessing the Treasure. Let’s be careful not to divide unnecessarily, but also not to fellowship with anyone who corrodes the Gospel. Mike gives very helpful guidelines on when and how to separate from those who disobey Gods Word.

I want to list this second post by Michelle Lesley, Feminist Infiltration and the Emasculation of Christian Men, because I’ve seen evangelicals capitulate to the world’s denigration of men. Michelle looks at this problem honestly through the lens of Scripture, offering a powerful and  badly needed corrective that would benefit men as well as women.

Although I haven’t vetted Marci Ferrell’s blog, Thankful Homemaker, I do recommend that you read Dealing with Controversy as a Christian. What a timely and thoughtful piece of writing!

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Saturday Sampler: March 10 — March 16

Massachusetts Town Flags

Town and city flags of Massachusetts displayed in the State House

When I started this blog in 2015, I could see that the church in America was headed for persecution. A lot of Christians see the same reality, including Mike Ratliff of Possessing the Treasure. His blog post, Even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness you are blessed, underscores what I’ve been saying all along.

Are You Living with a Misconception of Grace? Writing for Biblical Woman,  Sarah Bubar explores the effect our culture of entitlement has on how we understand the grace of God. She also explains grace from the Biblical standpoint.

She’s done it again! In One major way Christian self-help books damage you, Elizabeth Prata pulls back the cover to reveal a harmful evangelical practice. Ladies, this essay in The End Time deserves your attention!

Candidly admitting her struggles, Debi Martin of Sojourner Between Two Worlds shows us The Importance of Being in God’s Word. I’m currently reading through the Bible in 90 days as Debi did in 2012. It’s my second time doing it, and I highly recommend it.

I appreciate Erin Benziger’s devotional on The Sufficiency of the Word in Do Not Be Surprised. The worldliness permeating evangelicalism pressures people to settle for much less than God has given us.

Scripture delineates specific roles for women that the world considers oppressive. Thankfully, in an article for The Cripplegate, Eric Davis lists 10 Reasons Why the Bible Regards Women Higher than all Other Systems. I wish every evangelical (female and male) would read this one.

Yup, I struggle with reading my Bible too. So Throwback Thursday ~ The Mailbag: I love the Bible, but I have to force myself to read it by Michelle Lesley really reassures and  comforts me. She selects just the right Scriptures to make her case.

I’m not going to give away R. Scott Clark’s message in What Christians Can Learn From Drew Carey About Subverting Culture on the Abounding Grace Radio blog,  but I promise you that you won’t regret reading it. How do I know? I enjoyed reading it, and I’m far from being a Drew Carey fan.

Nick Batzig of Reformation 21 pleads for discernment ministries to strive for balance by writing A Horror of Theology. Bloggers especially need to consider the points he makes in order to avoid extremes that end up dishonoring the Lord.

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Saturday Sampler: March 3 — March 9

Flourish 02

Modern evangelicals can certainly complicate Christian life. Thankfully,  in an essay for The End Time entitled Mail Call: Our identity in Christ, Elizabeth Prata injects Biblical reasoning into the question of who we are as Christian women.

In a musing about wanting A Closer Look, Erin Benziger of Do Not Be Surprised draws from a humorous incident at The Cheesecake Factory to show us how abundantly the Lord has blessed us with the ability to know Him.

Curved Twirl Border Yellow

For a reassuring glimpse of God’s sovereignty in directing our decisions, check out Along the right paths by Mark Mclntyre on his blog, Attempts at Honesty.

Kelsey Baker’s When God Doesn’t Do as I Ask in Biblical Woman captures some of the feelings bothering me lately. Interestingly, she uses Psalm 119 to direct our attention to God’s sovereignty in answering our prayers differently than we want. I certainly appreciate God’s timing in bringing this article to me.

Flourish 01

I strongly recommend Mike Ratliff’s Biblically discerning the Lord’s will in Possessing the Treasure. Don’t let his Greek quotations deter you; he always follows them with English translations. And he hits on a fundamental aspect of discerning God’s will.

Don’t you get tired of the assertion that David and Jonathan had a homosexual relationship? I sure do! So I appreciate David, Jonathan, and the Dangers of Reader-Centered Interpretation by J. Alan Branch in For The Church. He provides a clear example of why we must use proper hermeneutics.

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Saturday Sampler: February 24 — March 2

penguin-samplerThankfully, Phil Johnson relies on Scripture rather than the accepted wisdom of the Social Justice Movement in his Pyromaniacs article, One More Plea for Impartiality in That Virtue We Call “Justice”.  If only more of us let the Bible inform our thoughts!

Can you identify The Common Denominators of false religions? If not, Leslie A of Growing 4 Life lays out a helpful and comprehensive outline to assist you in your discernment. As a bonus, she includes a little background on the origin of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Absolutely, Christians need to exercise more civility on social media! But let’s not go to an opposite extreme that causes us to condone sin. In Girl, Same Here! How our desire to be relatable is hurting our morals, Jillian McNeeley cautions against being agreeable when someone is in sin. You’ll find her blog post on Biblical Woman.

Erin Benziger has imported her blog, Do Not Be Surprised, to WordPress recently. I want to welcome this dear friend of mine to the WordPress community by sharing her devotional, The Sufficiency of Christ and His Word. Erin zeros in on a key reason that so many evangelicals lack discernment today.

Praise the Lord for Denny Burk‘s report that African Christians Rescue United Methodists by influencing them not to weaken their official position regarding LBGTQ matters. Will this decision lead to a denominational split? Probably. But how encouraging to see people stand for truth!

You’ll find encouragement from We Never Stop Needing the Gospel by Rebekah Womble of Wise in His Eyes.

Morning by Morning features Brianna Lambert’s piece, The Fruit of Self-Control: What is Your Hungry Soul Telling You? Before you roll your eyes, assuming that she’s just writing another dreary lecture urging us to be good little girls, give her a fair hearing. Her conclusions might not be what you expect!

In Context Matters: Forgetting What Lies Behind, Peter Krol of Knowable Word clears up erroneous teaching on Philippians 3:13 by showing us how this verse relates to everything leading up to it.

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Following Scripture Into Marriage

MistyWeddingJoyIn a few short weeks I would be traveling to Boston for my third visit with John. It would be a pivotal time in our relationship; either we’d become engaged or we’d part ways. As the day of the trip drew closer, I frantically sought to discern God’s will about the matter.

My pastor, ever the Charismatic, simply remarked, “It’s hardest to discern God’s voice about marriage because so many emotions are involved.” Sadly, he didn’t mean rightly interpreting Scripture; he meant receiving direct revelation from God.

Actually, single ladies, I beg you not to seek signs, words from God, visions or dreams when deciding whether or not to accept any marriage proposal you might receive. I agree with that pastor that Continue reading

Marriage Isn’t The First Priority

Intricate Boarder 03When most evangelicals think of discerning God’s will, by default they usually think of understanding whom they should marry. And in some respects, they very well should have marriage in mind. Choosing a spouse holds powerful ramifications, particularly because most Christian marriages produce children. Those children, in turn, will produce children and grandchildren, affecting the planet for generations to come. So yeah, we must seek God’s will in selecting a spouse.

And I fully intend to write a blog post exclusively on that topic in the near future.

In order to address that specific topic, however,  I believe we must first get used to understanding God’s will in a much broader context. Knowing Continue reading

Flashback Friday: Charismatics Aren’t Like Joseph

Originally posted December 23, 2016:

bethlehem-dazzle-frameDuring my years as a Charismatic, I remember using all sorts of Scriptures as proof-texts to validate whatever spiritual experience I happened to be practicing at the time. Most of the Charismatics I knew did the same thing to greater or lesser degrees.

At Christmas time, Matthew’s nativity narrative gave me and my Charismatic friends excellent proof-texts to substantiate our claims that the Lord spoke to us personally. Three times in Matthew 1 and 2, the Lord sent Joseph dreams, in which He spoke very clearly to instruct Joseph. For example, look at God’s intervention when Joseph learned that his fiancee, Mary, was carrying a Child that he hadn’t fathered.

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. ~~Matthew 1:18-25 (ESV)

Naturally, we concluded that, since the Lord spoke to Joseph, we had good reason to expect Him to speak to us in dreams, visions, still small voices or what have you. Our conclusion certainly seemed reasonable at the time, granted, but let’s think through a few points regarding who the Lord generally spoke to in Scripture and why He spoke to them.

In the Old Testament, God spoke to prophets, or to people who would further the development of Israel (and the Messianic line). He didn’t speak to everyone in Israel, nor did He speak about inconsequential matters. He was building His nation, teaching them how to worship Him and to separate themselves from those who worshiped false gods and committed abominable sins.

Likewise, in the New Testament He spoke to apostles and prophets until His Word was written down by some of those same apostles and prophets. Those apostles and prophets, according to Ephesians 4:11-16, built the foundation of the Church by the revelations that the Holy Spirit gave them. That revelation (at least the revelation that we needed) has been preserved in the Bible’s canon.

The Lord spoke to Joseph because Joseph would serve as the legal father of Jesus, thus legitimizing His claim to David’s throne. In turn, this claim validated Jesus as the Messiah. Had Joseph divorced Mary, Jesus would not have had this legal claim. Therefore, God had to intervene by speaking directly to Joseph. Notice that His instruction that Joseph name the Child Jesus fulfilled prophecy.

God spoke two more times to Joseph (Matthew 2:13-15 and Matthew 2:19-23), both times to protect Jesus from an early death and, again, to fulfill prophecy. The Lord spoke to Joseph for specific purposes that resulted in Jesus growing to Manhood, demonstrating Himself to be God, dying on the cross to atone for the sin of those who would believe in Him and rising from the grave to break the power of sin. God’s words to Joseph held eternal consequences.

God’s words to Joseph were vastly different from the things that present-day evangelicals (particularly Charismatics) claim to receive. Joseph, like other key figures in Scripture, played a critical role in God’s plan of redemption. That being the case, 21st Century Christians need only the Bible in order to hear everything the Lord wants us to know.

Hebrews 1:1-2 says that, in these last days, God has spoken through His Son. Praise God He spoke to Joseph back then, so that we would have His Son’s Word for all eternity!

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