Saturday Sampler: September 30 — October 6

Symetry Sampler

If you want to read something truly exquisite, go to The End Time to read Elizabeth Prata’s essay,The wind blows. It gives a beautiful illustration of the way the Holy Spirit works with believers.

Of course I love 14 Women of the Reformation That You Probably Never Knew About by Justin Holcomb for Core Christianity. Actually, you’ve probably heard about some of them (particularly Katherina von Bora), but most of them may surprise you. All of them, however, offer encouragement as we see how God used them to advance His kingdom.

Writing for Crossway Articles, Julie Melilli lists 10 Things You Should Know about Discipling People with Special Needs.

I Am Woman…I Don’t Have To Roar, declares Jillian McNeely in her post for Biblical Woman this week. You might take a look at how she handles 1 Peter 3:7. Christian women definitely need this perspective as egalitarian ideas increasingly infiltrate evangelical churches.

Are you single and wondering what to look for in a husband? SlimJim, a pastor who blogs at The Domain for Truth, counsels, Singles, Court Someone Who Loves God. His advice includes a reason that Christians seldom consider.

In an article for Ligonier, Michael Horton discusses the Two Planks of Sola Scriptura by drawing from the writings of Martin Luther. Before you dismiss this piece as  just another history lesson, consider the possibly that it could actually provide insight into the reasons we must stand for the sufficiency of Scripture.

Leslie A of Growing 4 Life takes a penetrating look at The Issues Behind the Issues. You’ll appreciate her straightforward candor and commitment to Biblical truth.

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How Discernment Gets Lost

img_4045How often have you lamented the obvious lack of discernment among evangelicals?  Very often, I should hope! From so-called Holy Yoga to claims that God speaks to us apart from Scripture, evangelicals practically wallow in unbiblical teachings and practices! Plainly, 21st Century Christians need to cultivate discernment skills.

I thought about this problem as John and I read the Bible together this morning.

11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. ~~Hebrews 5:11-14 (ESV)

The Hebrews who originally received this letter had begun reverting to the Law of Moses, supposing that doing so would secure their salvation. They had forgotten the basic Gospel message of salvation because of Christ’s substitutionary work on the cross. As a result, they couldn’t handle deeper teaching, which would have provided the necessary discernment to avoid serious error.

Ladies, Biblical discernment doesn’t come from reading even the most responsible discernment blogs. Those blogs are undeniably helpful for identifying problems and problematic teachers, but genuine discernment comes only through learning right doctrine.

Oh, I know — studying Scripture and listening to expositional preaching isn’t nearly as fun as reading the latest dirt on Beth Moore or the Charismatic Movement. But without the underpinning of sound doctrine derived from reading and studying the Bible, you can’t really discern the Scriptural reasons for rejecting these things.

I’m all for reading Michelle Lesley, Elizabeth Prata and Leslie A. And the men at Pyromaniacs should by no means elude your radar! But the time is coming (perhaps sooner than we think) when the purveyors of the Internet will pull the plug on blogs that practice discernment. We won’t be a mouse click away to warn you of distractions from the Gospel.

You lose discernment by prizing exposes over Bible Studies. You lose discernment by considering doctrine boring and irrelevant. You lose discernment by expecting bloggers to spoonfeed you when Scripture gives you tools for discerning good from evil.

For that reason, reputable discernment bloggers will always encourage you to develop good Bible study habits and find churches that faithfully preach verse-by-verse exposition. You need the solid food of doctrine, not the junk food of surface level heresy hunters.

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Firm Foundations Last Forever

For over 30 years, “How Firm A Foundation” has been my favorite hymn.  It has brought me conviction about the sufficiency of Scripture, courage in times of fear, hope during heartbreak, comfort during trials and confidence regarding eternity.

Originally, I had planned to blog about specific instances in which the Lord used this hymn to minister to me. And perhaps some of you might have enjoyed that narration. (Or perhaps I flatter myself in thinking you’d enjoy it.) But in mulling it over, I couldn’t see how such a post would keep the focus on Jesus.

So as you listen to this hymn, I want you to think about His faithfulness in your lives rather than His faithfulness in mine. How has Scripture assured you? How has He strengthened you with His presence, blessed your sorrows, taken you through extreme difficulties and assured you that nothing will divide you from Him?

The foundation of His Word is firm enough to last. Eternally.

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Mary Knew Where To Sit

Learning

I know you’ve heard this Bible story a million times. Every women’s ministry gets to it eventually — usually with warnings against becoming like Martha.

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” ~~Luke 10:38-42 (ESV)

But I’m not bringing the story up today to scold you if you’re an overly diligent housekeeper or pat you on the back if you neglect your house in favor of studying your Bible. Again, you’ve heard both those applications a million times, and you’re certainly not interested in hearing them from me. Furthermore, I’m equally not interested in writing about them!

But I thought about this passage in the context of our painfully evident preoccupation with Continue reading

But The Bible Doesn’t Address This

IMG_1892A little over a week ago, I wrote an article denying that my disability gives me license to cast myself in the role of an oppressed victim. If you read the Comments Section, you’ll notice a little pushback from a reader named Daniel, as well as my response that he overlooked the clause in my Comments Policy asking that disagreements with my positions be substantiated with Scripture.

I’m fallible. I well understand that I’m capable of misinterpreting portions of God’s Word, particularly on secondary matters. When (not if, but when) I’m wrong, I need faithful Christians to open the Bible and, using proper hermeneutics, help me see my errors.

I didn’t approve Daniel’s follow up comment because, as I told him in an email, I preferred to Continue reading

God’s Word — Nothing Added

sola-scriptura-02

Some people believe that evangelicalism has reached a serious crisis point. I tend to agree. Professing Christians import worldly philosophies and practices at breakneck speed, leaving the faithful both breathless and  bewildered.  We wonder how we can ever restore Biblical Christianity.

As deplorable as the 21st Century Church has become, this isn’t the first time the visible church has strayed. And I tend to think that Continue reading

The Mess The Church Is In Now

Catholic to Protestant

Few Christians disagree that the visible church is corrupt. It’s pretty much impossible to ignore the moral compromises infecting all denominations, as well as independent churches as scandals proliferate. Social media only makes matters worse. Some “discernment blogs” (particularly Pulpit & Pen) absolutely delight in reporting every negative tidbit they can find. To be honest, scandal sells.

Admittedly, sometimes we need to name names. I have boldly written about Beth Moore, Rick Warren, Sarah Young, Matthew Vines and others who inject false teaching into evangelical circles and thereby distort the Gospel. Additionally I have addressed popular trends like Holy Yoga, direct revelation, seeker-sensitive churches and the Social Justice Movement many times on this blog. I will continue doing so when I believe situations warrant such articles.

The visible church is unquestionably a mess.

We often forget, however, that the visible church has always been a mess. Paul wrote most of his epistles for the express purpose of confronting false doctrines and sinful practices within the First Century churches. As Roman Catholicism developed its system of justification by works, few professing Christians understood the Gospel of salvation by the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

The Protestant Reformation restored the Bible to common people, although many Christians died as martyrs. Catholic authorities accused these men and women of heresy because they accepted Scripture’s authority over that of the pope.

All too soon after the Reformation, Enlightenment philosophers attracted the attention of the Puritans, enticing them to integrate rationalism into theology. From there, liberalism and psychology easily blended into churches, always at the expense of doctrinal purity.

A friend of mine once scoffed at my blog posts about church history, explaining that she cares more about the mess the church is in now. Actually, I share her concern. That’s precisely why I blog so frequently about people and trends that assault the authority, inerrancy and sufficiency of God’s Word.

But in combating the current mess in the visible church, it can help to go back in time. Certainly, our ultimate stop must be the First Century, as we stand unwaveringly  on the Word of God. We must study, interpret and apply it in context. That’s why Michelle Lesley and I write regular Bible Studies in our blogs that lead you through large portions of Scripture, showing you the progression of thought propelling each verse.

Church history can aid our application of Scripture by showing us how Christians before us dealt with messes in the visible church. We can learn from the things they did right, but also from the things they did wrong. They can teach us how to identify false teaching, and consequently how to correct it with Scripture.

The visible church most assuredly is in a mess now. Church history testifies that it’s pretty much always in a mess. If we really want to restore the church to purity, why not trust church history to teach us how to apply God’s Word?

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