Saturday Sampler: May 21 — May 27

Just after seeing yet another blog post on a topic that the blogger discusses almost exclusively, I came across Ryan Higginbottom’s very welcome article, Emphasizing What the Bible Emphasizes in Knowable Word. His perspective brings much needed balance to our tendency to overly focus on one point of doctrine.

While we must stand firmly against the blight of feminism, we must avoid falling into the opposite extreme of thinking that women should do nothing but stay home and have babies. So I appreciate Elizabeth Prata for her diligent research in writing Patronesses Phoebe and Susanna: Two named women in the Bible for The End Time. This magnificent piece helps us see ways that God uses women for His kingdom.

In The Mailbag: Should I attend the “Bible” study to correct false doctrine?, Michelle Lesley answers wisely, but in a way I wouldn’t have expected. If your church offers questionable women’s Bible studies, you might want to read what Michelle shares here as you pray about your participation.

I look forward to Tuesdays because Leslie A usually posts in Growing 4 Life on Tuesdays. This week, she discusses the Only Two Places someone can go unless he or she trusts in Christ alone for salvation. Neither place is very appealing, actually — and both ultimately lead to hell. If you’ve never read Leslie’s blog before, this article will give you an example of her no-nonsense approach to declaring God’s truth. It’s precisely why I look forward to Tuesdays.

The Grace to You blog features an article by John MacArthur entitled Overwhelmed by Anxiety? It’s more of an introduction to his book on the topic, but it contains helpful ideas to get us thinking about the proper response to stress and pressure. I particularly appreciate his point on how to use the Scriptures about anxiety correctly.

Jeremy Howard of offers some brief but penetrating comments on why Stopping to Pray is so difficult for us, It doesn’t take long to read, but his insights are well worth your attention.

This is one of those weeks when Michelle Lesley has a lot worth sharing with you. Her Throwback Thursday ~ Amputating Discernment Ministry from the Body of Christ addresses common objections to discernment ministry by defending its Biblical importance and distinguishing properly done ministry from those ministries that abuse the term. Her article provides a necessary corrective to both ditches.

Blake Long of Theology & Life writes a short devotional about how God sees you on Your Best and Worst Days. Although we should never take God’s grace as an excuse for laziness in our walk with Him, it’s comforting to remember how completely He justifies us, If you’re discouraged in your obedience to Him, Blake’s words might offer much needed encouragement.

Writing for The Cripplegate, Robb Brunansky tackles the question, Why Did Jesus Die? Propitiation and the Wrath of God. His explanation goes against popular evangelical thought, yet it aligns with Scripture. It also helps us remember the extraordinary grace that we have in Christ Jesus.

Saturday Sampler: April 23 — April 29

I don’t know how many of you teach women’s Bible studies or write Bible Study blogs, but Ryan Higginbottom’s post Against Springboard Studies in Knowable Word might help you figure out how you want to lead your study groups or write your studies. Actually, even those of us who don’t teach can learn a few things from his thoughts.

During my college days, a classmate whose dad was a minister told me that it’s okay to be angry with God. That advice may be standard psychology, but it’s rotten theology. Responding to last month’s shooting at Covenant Christian School in Nashville, Stephen Spinnenweber writes Please, Don’t Get Mad at God to argue against the notion that anger towards Him is acceptable. His article appears on the Reformation 21 blog, and very much deserves your attention.

In his charming essay, Darryl Dash of Dashhouse reminds us to Think Little instead of dreaming about the “great things” we think we should do for God. He doesn’t really say anything novel here, but sometimes it’s good to hear basic truths repeated.

Leslie A answers the rhetorical question, Should We “Eat the Meat and Spit Out the Bones?” in Growing 4 Life this week. As more and more bad teaching fills evangelical media, Christians need the humility to admit that we don’t always have the discernment necessary to recognize error. She shares one near mistake she made in reading a book that purported to be Christian, and then she offered guidelines for dealing with questionable material. I especially like her observation that discernment calls for complete purity, not for “balance.”

Jacob Crouch’s devotional, The Stream and the Spring, brings us to humility as we compare ourselves to God. Jacob blogs at Aliens and Pilgrims.

Maybe I’m drawn to Elaine Crandell’s Called By Name because it’s a fun slice of her life and I desperately need a little fun right now. Her experience as a contestant on The Price Is Right makes delightful reading. That’s not to say that her post in Treasure In Jars Of Clay is a fluff piece. But you’ll have to read it for yourselves to find out why a Christian blogger would write about a television game show.

Evidently, Blake Long knows where I’m living spiritually these days, because he writes Keep Fighting in Theology & Life as an encouragement in the battle against sin. As with most of his devotionals, this one is short and easy to read, but full of rich truth. You can chew on it for quite a while.

What if I decide something that’s not in God’s will? asks one of Elizabeth Prata’s readers. Elizabeth responds in The End Time with Biblical wisdom. She doesn’t appeal to mystical models of guidance, but rather directs us back to Christian maturity. And isn’t maturity what we really need?

Saturday Sampler: April 16 — April 22

Christian, be a Student of God’s Word says Blake Long in a post for Theology & Life. He explains the importance of knowing the Bible, even if we start out reading it just a few minutes each day. I especially appreciated his sensitivity towards people who feel discouraged or overwhelmed by Scripture; if you struggle in this area, perhaps Blake’s words will give you the encouragement you need.

Why would Clint Archer write about a deceased spelunker to comment on The First Easter Sermon that Peter gave at Pentecost? His fascinating blog post, which appears in The Cripplegate, answers this burning question.

Taking us through the book of Esther, Cindy Matson demonstrates God’s Providence Despite Bad Leadership. This article in Bible Study Nerd brings out aspects of the account that I’d never noticed, particularly in her analysis of Mordecai. As you read Cindy’s piece, please be sure to carefully read her footnote regarding abuse, lest you misunderstand her point.

In my younger years (though I feel embarrassed to admit it), I’d sometimes make the error of interpreting portions of the Bible through the grid of my experience. So I applaud Leslie A of Growing 4 Life for combating this attitude with What Determines What You Believe About God? She pinpoints common ways in which evangelicals substitute worldly assumptions for spiritual insight that actually draw us away from the Lord. Boy, do we need the wisdom that she puts forth in this excellent piece!

The author of Walk Wisely on Gentle Reformation remains anonymous, but she or he makes some fascinating points regarding the relationship between internet usage and time management. The post challenges Christians to use our time wisely, knowing that the world is getting darker.

Michelle Lesley shares some valuable thoughts in Discernment: What’s Love Got to Do With It? She deals with the common misunderstanding that speaking the truth in love equals never offending anyone, even if we know she’s harming herself.

John’s been in the hospital since Wednesday, which is rough on both of us (he’s my primary caregiver). So Jacob Crouch’s poem, All the Way to Heaven’s Shore, encourages me, You can find it on Aliens and Pilgrims. Maybe some of you will need its refreshment as much as I did.

Saturday Sampler: April 9 — April 15

Okay, you’ve caught me! I get a kick out of typing Ryan Higginbottom’s name. But honestly, I genuinely like much of his work on the Knowable Word website. For example, What Comes After Resurrection? looks at the final few chapters of John’s gospel to demonstrate that Christ’s earthly mission continued well after He rose from the tomb. And what He did during the days before His ascension have implications for us today.

The Scriptures about the prophet Balaam have always perplexed me. Monday morning, in fact, I read a reference to him in Joshua that prompted me to ask the Lord for understanding about the man. Lo and behold, less than an hour later, Elizabeth Prata’s essay, Balaam: A true prophet or a false prophet with a greedy heart?, popped up in my email. This post in The End Time wonderfully unravels the seemingly contradictory aspects of this little man.

In The Cripplegate, Jesse Johnson reports on Psychology’s Culpability in the Transgender Movement. Parents in particular ought to read this one and share it with others. If your children attend public school or participate in community sports, you need to be aware that they will face pressure to question their gender identities. Your local child psychologist is not your friend!

Reading Jacob Crouch’s piece, Read the Bible A Lot, brings back uncomfortable memories of my early years as a new Christian. He uses the word “arrogance.” Yup, that describes my attitude in those days! What does saturation in God’s Word have to do with overcoming arrogance? Jacob’s post in Aliens and Pilgrims explains.

I love the thoughts Tim Challies shares in Beauty in the Whole and the Parts for its assurance that we can appreciate theology on different levels. What a liberating view of doctrine. I would add, however, that none of us should interpret his words as an excuse for shallow Bible study. Simplicity doesn’t equal laziness.

Who says discernment blogging has to be dry and boring? Using the tune, “Jesus Loves Me,” Michelle Lesley does a little creative writing with Throwback Thursday ~~ Jesus Loves Me: The “Contending for the Faith” Version. Somehow, I’d missed this little gem when she first published it in 2018, so I’m glad I caught it this time. But even if you saw it back then, it’s worth seeing again.

If you doubt The Necessity of the Local Church, read Blake Long’s brief post in Theology & Life on this subject. Sometimes a blogger doesn’t need a lot of words to make a point.

Once again, David de Bruyn writes a thought-provoking article for the G3 Ministries Blog. May Christians Mock? dismantles the myth that Christians must always be nice and avoid offending our opponents. David takes us through a variety of Biblical examples of godly men ridiculing those who promote false teachings. Yet he wisely cautions against using mockery indiscriminately. His article deserves your attention.

This second article by Blake Long may prove useful the next time you encounter any Jehovah’s Witness. What Does it Mean for Jesus to be the Firstborn? addresses a misinterpretation of Colossians 1:15 that Watchtower uses to deny the deity of Christ. Interestingly. John and I have been studying Colossians with an elder from our church who was saved out of that cult. Blake echoes what that elder taught us about Jesus as the firstborn.

Saturday Sampler: April 2 — April 8

In a short devotional, Blake Long of Theology & Life leads us to Proof of God’s Love by explaining whom God loves and the beautifully personal nature of His love. See Blake’s other Holy Week devotionals while you’re on his website.

The Crucifixion Stories Are Embarrassing, and That’s a Good Thing claims Robby Lashua on the Stand To Reason blog. He takes us through some lowlights of that terrible experience, showing us how the weaknesses of the men involved actually strengthen the case for the authenticity of the Bible.

Mike Ratliff translates a passage from Ephesians, and from there meditates on one often overlooked phrase. He seated us in the Heavenlies with Christ beautifully explains an aspect of salvation that we don’t notice enough. Mike blogs at :Possessing the Treasure, where he sometimes makes his own careful translation from the Greek New Testament. His studies, while requiring us to do a little work, invariably give us more insight into God’s Word.

A former member of of the LBGTQ community writes Why I no longer use Transgender Pronouns — and Why You shouldn’t either for the Reformation 21 blog. Her piece demonstrates her repentance for acquiescence to public pressure, therefore encouraging us to stand on the authority of Scripture. Please consider her thoughtful arguments as we face increasing demands to compromise truth.

In preparation for Resurrection Sunday, Leslie A shares lessons she’s gleaned from reading Mark 14. This post, On the Way to the Cross isn’t a typical Growing 4 Life article, but Leslie’s thoughts will challenge and encourage you. And it’s a magnificent prelude to tomorrow’s celebration.

Elizabeth Prata gives us a different perspective on what it means to Surrender to Christ in an essay for The End Time. If I say much about it, I’ll steal her thunder and you won’t read it. So I’ll just say that this is a gem that you really shouldn’t miss.

If the message of the cross seems overly familiar to you, a meditation on Isaiah 53 as a prophecy of Christ’s death might help. Thankfully, Michelle Lesley shares her own meditation on this magnificent chapter in Christ – the Suffering Servant to develop our understanding of everything Christ did on the cross. Set aside some time to read her beautiful devotional in honor of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. I promise you – you won’t regret doing so.

Some mistakes can’t be smoothed over by a shrug and an apologetic “Oops!” Getting the details wrong can have extremely serious consequences. SlimJim has a post inThe Domain for Truth based on a shocking blunder in Boston Wednesday night. Sermon Illustration #85: Doctrinal Details Matter and FBI busted into the wrong hotel room during a training exercise and held a Delta pilot handcuffed uses this news story as a springboard for evangelism.

Even though Good Friday has passed, don’t ignore Good Friday and the Lamb of God by Robb Brunansky in The Cripplegate. He uses Isaiah 53:7 to show how Jesus indeed served as the Lamb of God that Isaiah prophesied 700 years earlier. The writing alone is exquisite, but the message behind the writing is far more wonderful.

Saturday Sampler: March 26 — April 1

Wall in Boston’s Barking Crab restaurant

Think you know everything about Israel’s journey through the Red Sea? Test your knowledge against Ryan Higginbottom’s Overlooked Details of the Red Sea Crossing. These details, according to him, can teach us more about the importance and purpose of this famous miracle. Ryan blogs for Knowable Word each Monday.

Even Christians balk at the thought of describing themselves as wretches. I speak from the experience of having a sister in Christ harshly reprimand me years ago for posting an article calling myself a wretch. But The End Time author Elizabeth Prata writes Am I a wretch? to show how liberating it actually is to accept our true condition. How much better to enjoy the wonder of God’s grace!

Better voices than I have commented on the mass shooting in Nashville. One such voice belongs to Slave to the King blogger Chris Honholtz. Audrey Hale and Culturally Acceptable Violence discusses the tragedy from an unexpected but necessary perspective. I appreciate Chris for bringing attention to the complexities of this particular situation. I don’t think those complexities will be unique.

In Growing 4 Life, Leslie A offers Encouragement for the Lonely Believer because she herself has endured the loneliness of standing for truth in a time when even professing Christians want to adjust the Bible to culture. If you’re getting weary of holding to God’s Word when people ridicule you for doing so, let the verses she shares minister to you.

Ligonier offers many wonderful resources to help us think through various aspects of our faith. What Are Atheism and Secularism? provides a comprehensive overview of these two related philosophies and compares them to Biblical Christianity. As a bonus, thus article concludes with tips on how we can enter into evangelistic conversations with people who hold these views.

Looking at the account of the Triumphal Entry in Jesus Wept, Michelle Lesley takes a look at the crowd who so joyously shouted “Hosannah!” Why did they express such adoration for Him? And why, when people finally acknowledge Him as the Messiah, did Jesus weep? Michelle explores these questions and then asks us a very serious question.

Michelle doesn’t have a corner on Palm Sunday posts, however. In his contributing article for The Cripplegate, Robb Brunansky expands on Palm Sunday: Deity on Display by showing us how Mark’s gospel narrates the events of that day.

Let’s have another post from Knowable Word, this time by Peter Krol. Why Strife is so Complex uses selected Proverbs to navigate through the minefield of human interactions, especially when arguments break out. He finds some helpful principles for dealing with conflict, and shows us how to apply them.

Saturday Sampler: March 19 — March 25

If we’re honest, we’ll admit that we don’t always appreciate the plans God has for us. Tim Challies puts a fictional scenario before us in If God Would Outsource His Sovereignty to expose our reluctance to accept the more difficult gifts God dispenses. Do we really mean it when we sing hymns consecrating our lives to Him?

Most Christians probably ask Is it Okay to Doubt? at some point in their lives. Nathan Eshalman, in his Gentle Reformation post, draws on his experience of counseling young people to talk about the various reasons for doubt as well as how to bring those doubts under the control of faith. If you struggle with doubt on any level, his words will give you tremendous encouragement.

With Psalm 37 as her starting place, Cindy Matson writes A Better Way: Responding to the Darkness in Bible Study Nerd. The advent of social media obviously has escalated anger in the public square, she notes, but Scripture still offers direction on managing that anger in a godly manner. Cindy shows us some of those Biblical principles.

Do you subscribe to Growing 4 Life by Leslie A? If not, you’re missing out on some remarkable articles like Can You Argue Against Experience? This topic has been near and dear to my heart for decades. Although I’ve never discussed this subject with her, she organizes my thoughts quite nicely. If you only have time to read one item from this collection this week (I hope you’ll read more), make it Leslie’s.

What Do You mean, Relevant? wonders Kevin Bauder in a post for the G3 Ministries Blog. Taking us through the various applications of the term “relevant,” he explains when relevance furthers the Gospel and when it obscures the Gospel.

Covid-19 restrictions have eased up for quite some time, concedes Robb Brunansky in a post for The Cripplegate. But we must learn from the government attempts to close churches during the early phases of that pandemic. Robb reminds us that governments will grow increasingly hostile to Christian worship as we get nearer to Christ’s return. Therefore we must stand our ground in believing that Church is Essential.

Attempts to discredit John MacArthur get sillier all the time. When Ron Henzel, who ordinarily isn’t a particular fan of MacArthur, writes an article in Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc. to refute recent claims that MacArthur adopts the rigid authority structure of Bill Gothard, you know such claims should be disregarded. Everyone I Don’t Like is Literally Gothard gives a solid synopsis of Gothard’s teachings on authority and contrasts them with MacArthur’s sermons.

Contrasting the Prosperity Gospel of Joel and Victoria Osteen with the Biblical principles that sustained the apostle Paul, Elizabeth Prata explains what The “good” in God’s plan for you really is. This essay in The End Time reorients our thinking, bringing it in line with the actual teaching of Scripture. And isn’t that what we want?

Saturday Sampler: March 12 — March 18

1757 Sampler — Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The feminists on Twitter are at it again! For some reason, they feel compelled to insist that David raped Bathsheba. Thankfully, Robin Self redirects the conversation by asking What IF David Raped? She takes us back to the true purpose of relaying the episode, Let’s stop obscuring God’s Word with controversial speculations.

Preaching the Gospel is urgent, according to Jacob Crouch. He defends his position with Scripture in his Aliens and Pilgrims article, One Day It Will Be Tomorrow as he reminds us of what needs to be done today.

Has Denny Burk lost his marbles? He says that Rick Warren Has Done the SBC a Great Service in his recent interview with Russell Moore. Because Warren has caused so much damage to the SBC and to the evangelical church at large, Denny’s statement makes you do a double-take at first. But please hear Denny out! He may have hit on something.

I love the way Michelle Lesley writes her Bible Studies. Instead of spoon feeding us, she leads us to dig into God’s Word for ourselves. Choose What Is Right: A Study in Discernment — Lesson 2 takes us into three passages of Scripture that introduce the necessity of discernment, as well as the means of exercising that discernment. This bi-weekly study promises to help us learn how to distinguish truth from error.

SlimJim, being a pastor himself, writes Should I get a Bible Software? primarily to fellow pastors. But as more women understand the importance of personal Bible study, we also wonder if Bible software would benefit us. So I’m including SlimJim’s post from The Domain for Truth to help any of you who may consider using electronic Bibles. As a quadriplegic who can no longer turn pages, I depend on my eSword software, which I use for personal devotions and study, but also for preparing blog posts.

Writing for Tabletalk Magazine, Robert VanDoodewaard reports that the Crisis in Canada: Assisted Suicide goes well beyond the mercy killing of terminally ill patients (which is bad enough). He details the broad scope of this Canadian legislation, and then outlines the Biblical response. It’s not pleasant reading, I grant you, but we need to understand this matter. It won’t stay in Canada.

Growing 4 Life author Leslie A challenges us yet again by asking, God’s Terms or Mine? You may think you’ve settled that question long ago — and maybe you have. Still, a little moral inventory never hurt anybody. Leslie’s article might encourage you to test yourself against Scripture to make the sure that you are fully yielded to the Lord.

Elizabeth Prata, in a sweet but convicting essay for The End Time, shares her thoughts on Contentment. In this era of arguing and grumbling, we definitely can learn from her example.

Saturday Sampler: March 5 — March 11

Since his stroke last year, Mike Ratliff has mostly used his blog, Possessing the Treasure, to share excerpts from Spurgeon’s writings. I can understand his decision because of my increased limitations. But I enjoyed reading Mike’s own work again. And such were some of you testifies to God’s power to transform lives.

Reprising an essay she published in The End Time back in 2015, Elizabeth Prata declares I was not saved by a loving Jesus wooing me. At first, her remarks seem startling, almost as if she denies Christ’s love. But if you think in terms of standing against the popular notions that Christians should make the Gospel attractive to the world, you’ll understand the theological importance of Elizabeth’s personal testimony.

Evangelicals love the latest fad! Unfortunately, few of us bother to research the trends before jumping on the bandwagons with gleeful abandon. This tendency, in addition to inquiries she’s received, sparked Michelle Lesley to write The Mailbag: Applying Twisted Scripture to Pseudo-“Christian” Events, Ideas, and Fads this week. She applies Biblical principles of discernment to the necessary task of evaluating popular movements.

In Forever Young? Jesus and Eternal Life, Robb Brunanski of The Cripplegate comments on the sometimes extraordinary efforts people take to defy aging. Then he reminds us of how Christians have assurance that we need to not fear aging or death, yet save huge amounts of money and effort in the process.

Drawing from a modern hymn by the Gettys, Jacob Crouch muses on some ways we mistakenly assess our value. His post, My Worth Is Not In What I Own appears in Aliens and Pilgrims, using one of Jesus’ parables to illustrate his point. It’s an interesting and appropriate compliment to the article Robb Brunanski posts. And it causes me to rejoice in my Redeemer!

Peter Krol of Knowable Word takes us through selected Proverbs as he unveils 5 Misconceptions about Wealth that many Christians have. This study leads us to a balanced attitude toward money, protecting us from false guilt while still warning us against selfishness. He tucks in a couple unexpected observations that you might appreciate.

Those of us who speak out against false teaching hear the cry far too often! Just proclaim the Gospel! (aka too many competing messages) by Tom on his excatholic4christ blog examines this tiresome criticism against Scripture to explain why we use our blogs and other social media platforms to call out teachers and trends that lead people into error.

Homosexuality, Robin Self teaches us in her blog post for A Worthy Walk, goes against God’s Created Order for human sexuality. Of course her message contradicts popular opinion! But I stand with her in maintaining that popular opinion on this matter contradicts God’s Word. Robin includes an interesting argument against homosexuality that I’d never considered, despite my years as a correspondence counselor with an ex-gay ministry.

Saturday Sampler: February 26 — March 4

Tom, author of excatholic4christ, has found a free online course out of Southern Baptist Seminary that has him extremely excited. In Back to School: Essentials of Catholic Theology — Introduction, he gives an overview of the course, tells us how to access it and promises weekly summaries of each lecture. Most evangelicals know little about what Roman Catholicism really teaches, making the course an invaluable resource.

Responding to some Dusty Comments from a non-Christian on social media, Jason Whitaker uses his Dear Woke Christian blog to explain why the Bible is an adequate tool for defending the truth of Christianity. It’s a very short post, but it definitely packs a punch.

Evaluating A saying that sounds pious but isn’t — “Let Go and Let God”, Elizabeth Prata draws on her past experience as an investigative journalist to show a variety of credible sources that refute the motto as unbiblical. Her blog, The End Time, is a wonderful resource for learning discernment skills. This essay is a shining example of how and why Christians must develop discernment.

Most articles about dressing modestly tend to lay out firm guidelines, which may be helpful. But Michelle Lesley takes a different approach in The Mailbag: Is It OK for Christian Women to Wear Bikinis? Rules, she reminds us, lead to legalism. As an alternative, she walks us through Philippians 2:3-8 to help us check our hearts as we decide how to dress.

Does Jesus Love Me? To answer that question, Keith Evans begins his post for Gentle Reformation with some remarks about the wrong assumptions that cause us to wonder about God’s love. From there, he takes us to the Scriptures that prove His love for us, liberating us from all doubt. If you struggle to find assurance that Jesus loves you, please don’t neglect this one!

Let’s visit Michelle Lesley again as she launches her Bible Study on discernment. Choose What Is Right: A Study in Discernment — Lessen 1 — Introduction gives very flexible guidelines for using this study and then gets us thinking about what Biblical discernment entails. I’m certainly intrigued! Please remember that her studies are for ladies only.

Henry Anderson joins The Cripplegate team to write some thoughts on Life and Death based on Paul’s letter to the Philippians. We need this reminder.

Commenting on the inconsistencies of most atheists, Aliens and Pilgrims author Jacob Crouch writes that he’s Shocked by Surprise as he watches their outrage over various moral injustices. I only wish he hadn’t described the world as broken instead of rebellious and sinful, but maybe that’s a minor quibble on my part. Certainly, his main point deserves attention. It might be useful if you witness to atheists.