Saturday Sampler: January 22 — January 28

I’m getting to really like Aliens and Pilgrims by Jacob Crouch. His post, Just because I’m religious, doesn’t mean I’m superstitious, strikes a chord with me. Spending 30 years in Charismatic circles exposed me to quite a few ideas and practices that were more superstitious than Biblical. Sometimes it encourages me when other people see the same things I do.

Ever feel discouraged about your unsaved loved ones? Me too. Darryl Dash of Dashhouse addresses our discouragement by writing If We Do Not Give Up. I wish he had added a comment explaining that sometimes the Lord chooses not to bring our loved ones to salvation, but I still recommend this post for its emphasis on God’s sovereignty as we faithfully proclaim the Gospel.

With more poise than I would probably exhibit, Michelle Lesley responds to one of her readers in The Mailbag: Questions about the role of women in the church. Michelle handles the challenges beautifully, relying on Scripture as the authority for her position. I love her depth of thought as she tackles common objections to God’s design for Christian women.

Keith Evans, a contributing writer for Gentle Reformation, comments on The Many Odd Uses and Abuses of Matthew 18. Although I’ve written about some of those abuses in my own blog a few times, Keith brings out an example or two that I’d never thought of. Reading his article may help you see ways that people exploit Jesus’ teaching on interpersonal relationships within the body of Christ.

It seems fitting that the author of a blog called The End Time would write Doomsday clock moves 10 seconds closer to midnight, don’t you think? But Elizabeth Prata isn’t standing on a street corner wearing a sandwich board proclaiming “The end is near!” Rather, she distinguishes between the secular world’s understanding of the end and the anticipation Christians feel as we await Christ’s return.

Having come out of Charismatic teaching, I appreciate right teaching about the Holy Spirit. Josh Buice asks, in an article for Delivered By Grace, What Does the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit Produce in the Life of a Local Church? If you’re tempted to skip over this one (I admit that the title didn’t attract me at first), don’t. Josh gives a wonderful explanation of how the Holy Spirit operates in His church.

Should churches change their positions on things like homosexuality in order to appear more loving? Chris Honholtz addresses this question by writing Such Were Some of You in Slave to the King. He opens with a clear presentation of the Gospel, laying a foundation for understanding what Christianity really entails. Working from said foundation, he demonstrates why we must never accommodate sin (homosexual or otherwise) if we claim to be Christians. This post is well worth reading!

Knowable Word isn’t the most exciting blog, especially to readers who want nothing more than information on the latest false teachers and trends derailing evangelicals. But for readers who sincerely seek to cultivate discernment, its tips on Bible Study will go a long way in helping us understand sound teaching. Peter Krol’s Units of Thought in Discourse answers a question I’ve had about interpreting a certain passage — I can’t wait to read that passage again with Krol’s suggestions in mind. Can you sense my excitement?

While Robb Brunanski rightly celebrates the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, he recognizes that the battle against abortion is far from over. In The urgency of a post Roe world, he argues that Christians are must not be satisfied with that one victory. His piece appears in The Cripplrgate.

Saturday Sampler: January 15 — January 21

In observing Bible passages, it helps to regard Repeated Words and Titles as a Clue to the Main Point of a Book. Ryan Higginbottom illustrates this principle by offering an overview of Paul’s epistle to Titus. He shows how locating repeated themes in that letter give clearer insight into the overall message that Paul meant to convey. You’ll find Ryan’s post in Knowable Word.

Tim Challies, perhaps the most well-known and prolific blogger in Reformed circles, says that It’s 2023 and We Need Blogs More Than Ever. His perspective greatly encourages me, particularly as I see dwindling readership. Sometimes I feel like I’m spending time needlessly when I could invest my energies elsewhere. So I praise the Lord for Tim’s words. Beyond the impact his post made in my circumstances, however, his encouragement to Christians who haven’t yet tried blogging is invaluable. If you have any interest in blogging, please read this one!

Sunday I listened to the Voice Of Reason Radio podcast, as I do every week after church (Chris, if you read this, notice I said, AFTER church, not INSTEAD OF church). I found myself wishing Chris Honholtz would augment the podcast by writing more articles on Slave to the King. Lo and behold, he writes All Things to All People? this week, almost as if he’d heard my thoughts. Even better, he answers a common misunderstanding of Paul’s phase, simply by looking at it in context. If you like his post, you can find his podcast on the same website.

False teachers invite us to share in deceptions all the time. In her Growing 4 Life article, Leslie A admonishes us to be careful when popular books, videos and trends in the evangelical world call us to Come On In! Praise God for her fresh and vivid reminder of why we constantly need to use discernment, as well as her explanation of how we can develop that discernment. Not all invitations should be accepted.

Since January 22 is Sanctity of Life Sunday, Michelle Lesley reprises Basic Training: Abortion, which she originally published in 2019. Some may think that she takes too much of a hard line on this subject, but I plead with you to hear her out. I appreciate her balance of law and grace as she examines the true nature of abortion in light of the forgiveness that Jesus provides to all repentant sinners.

God laid it on my heart? by Elizabeth Prata is one of many reasons why The End Time is a favorite blog of mine. This particular essay carefully examines the ministry of the Holy Spirit, concentrating on how He leads us. Elizabeth writes on this matter with absolute brilliance, slicing through the confusion that modern day mystics have created. After a Facebook squabble that I’ve had this week regarding a related issue, this post was definitely a healing balm.

Writing for Delivered By Grace, Josh Buice asks, Is It Possible to Preach the Gospel Without Words? You probably already know his basic answer to this admittedly ridiculous saying, but I’d like you to look at his reasoning behind rejecting it.

Saturday Sampler: January 8 — January 14

I admit it: I have a fascination with the Royal Family. Before you watch Harry & Meghan by Murray Campbell therefore convicted me more than a bit. It isn’t comfortable to read, bit it helps us see gossip in a different light.

Although Jacob Crouch directs Family Worship is Not Just For Your Kids! primarily to husbands, I’ve chosen to share this item from Aliens and Pilgrims here for you and your husbands to consider. But no — I’m not giving you permission to nag. Share this respectfully, and then quietly pray. I’m not sharing it with John because he already leads family worship twice a day. But he’ll probably end up reading it anyway, and he’ll be encouraged to see that he’s doing a great job!

Do you ever struggle with making decisions? Leslie A addresses that common problem in Finding True North, which appears in Growing 4 Life this week. She illustrates her point with a few real-life examples of God’s faithfulness in guiding His children as we seek Him in the pages of Scripture. Leslie’s definitely my kind of gal!

In his no-holds-bar article for The Cripplrgate, Jordan Standrige highlights The Only Thing Protestants Can Appreciate About Pope Benedict as he reflects on various reactions to this pope’s death. Is Jordan too harsh in his assessment of Benedict? I don’t think so, given that he bases it on the man’s own words and how they contradict Biblical doctrine. This article reminds us that we must never forget the hard work of the 16th Century Reformers.

I appreciate Tim Challies for writing What I Want From A Church. When churches try to adapt to perceived demands of “consumers,” they abandon the very thing that makes church relevant. Please make sure that you choose a church (or remain in a church) for the right reasons.

Are You Cherishing Sin? asks Robin Self of A Worthy Walk. She gives us several Scriptures warning against this dangerous, but terribly commonplace, problem.

Since I have reached old age, I think about death more seriously than I used to. So reading Vanessa Le’s When I Die Young (Or Old) resonated with me. It’s not a typical post for Gentle Reformation to run, but it’s a beautifully written reminder of our ultimate hope as Christians.

Rarely does Elizabeth Prata share much about her personal life in The End Time, and even more rarely does she disclose her past sin. Her essay, The sheets lasted longer than the marriage, doesn’t glorify her past behavior, however. Rather, it demonstrates the insidious nature of sin, warning us to avoid its lure. It takes courage to write with as much honesty as Elizabeth does here, but her love for younger women shines through every word. If you have teenage daughters. I beg you to have them read this one!

Saturday Sampler: January 1 — January 7

In his monthly article for The Vatican Files, Leonardo De Chirico reports on an Advent sermon that marks more theological decline in the Roman Catholic church. “God has many ways to save.” Cardinal Cantalamessa and Roman Catholic Universalisim doesn’t trouble me in terms of the Catholic church teaching error — it’s done that for many centuries. But I fear it will reinforce ecumenical compromises that have infected evangelicals in recent decades. For this reason, I hope you’ll make time to read it.

Philippians is known for Paul’s emphasis on joy. Using this epistle as a template, Pastor Tedd Mathis gives us 23 Reasons to Rejoice in 2023. If you feel depressed by the darkness of winter — not to mention the spiritual darkness that increases exponentially in our world — this blog post in teddmathisdotcom will lift your spirits and fill you with the joy of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible is Not About You explains Ryan Higginbottom in his piece for Knowable Word this week. He demonstrates the problem with applying a verse personally before understanding its proper interpretation. If I had learned this lesson 52 years ago, I might have avoided a lot of doctrinal error.

Michelle Lesley shares If you’d like to help… Update & Thanks for those who responded to her needs. I posted that article in Saturday Sampler at the time, asking you — my readers — to consider helping her family. I’m thrilled to share Michelle’s report, and I want to thank any of my readers who took part in ministering to them.

There’s a lot of talk lately about the Charismatic movement and the work of the Holy Spirit. It’s a necessary conversation, especially as more and more churches have embraced Continualist theology. Leslie A of Growing 4 Life devotes a blog post to a series of sermons her brother recently preached entitled How Does the Holy Spirit Work? I didn’t think I had time to listen to Pastor Dean’s sermons. Boy am I glad I made time! These sermons really take a deep dive into this topic. Please don’t cheat yourself out of some truly excellent teaching.

What Should You Do With Your Diagnosis? Responding Biblically to Mental Disorder Labels appears in The Cripplrgate. Written by Dan Crabtree, this article fairly assesses psychological conditions, acknowledging that sometimes physical factors actually do play a role in our psychological health. Yet he emphasizes that secular doctors and psychologists routinely ignore the spiritual component influencing our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. His outlook provides much needed encouragement to anyone who struggles with a diagnosis of mental disorder.

I could recommend Elizabeth Prata’s Someday the fog will be lifted in The End Time for its exquisite writing alone, and none of you would blame me! But even beyond her vivid descriptions, she reminds us of our ultimate hope as Christians. Don’t miss this one!

Elizabeth also writes an essay on a subject I care deeply about — single women. The Proverbs 31 woman is held as an example of married woman, but what if you’re not married? looks at Anna, the prophetess in Luke 2. Because Elizabeth herself is single, she can write on this matter with both authority and sensitivity. But she adds bonus material for those of us who are aging. I needed that encouragement since I’m only nine months away from turning [gulp!] 70.

Scott Slayton of One Dergree to Another shows us how Building a “Non-Brittle” Identity depends on preaching the Gospel to ourselves regularly. You won’t need much time to read his article, but its contents will certainly shift your attention to eternity.

As we enter 2023, let’s join Robb Brunanski in his Prayer for a new year: Love, which he writes for The Cripplrgate. Not only does he show the necessity of love in the context fthe local church (a point often overlooked in evangelical writing), but he draws a clear distinction between Biblical love and the world’s misunderstanding of love.

Saturday Sampler: December 25 — December 31

Despite the fact that I’ve been blogging for around 16 years, I learned this week that people generally don’t read blogs as much during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I guess other bloggers have figured this principle out, because I had a very difficult time finding posts to share with you. Please accept this small collection of articles. Hopefully next week’s Sampler will have more goodies.

Much to my dismay, it’s still popular to believe that God speaks to us personally, as a supplement to Scripture. Refuting this false teaching, Mike Abendroth discusses Secret and Sinister Messages From God: Does God Speak Outside Of His Word? (1) in his article for The Heidelblog, Although I am beginning to question certain things about R. Scott Clark and his influence on Mike, I do recommend the particular article for its contribution to the conversation. Also see Part 2 and Part 3.

Have you made a New Year’s resolution to read the Bible regularly? If you don’t know where to start, Michelle Lesley offers a wide variety of Bible Reading Plans for the New Year — 2023 for you to consider. She even includes plans and tips for children. And if a commitment for the whole year intimidates you, she mixes in a few short-term plans that you might find more manageable.

In a similar vein, Elizabeth Prata of The End Time gives us Ministries to Follow: Recs & Lists. Elizabeth wants women to receive solid Biblical teaching, which each of the podcasts she links to provides. She shares some of my favorites. and maybe some will become favorites of yours as well. As a bonus, she gives suggestions on how podcasts can fit into busy schedules to nourish us spiritually.

Although I haven’t fully vetted Jacob Crouch of Aliens and Pilgrims, I love his perspective on making New Year’s Resolutions. He writes both 3 Reasons Why You Should Make a New Year’s Resolution This Year and 3 Reasons Why You Should NOT Make a New Year’s Resolution This Year. Before you decide that Jacob contradicts himself, give these two posts a chance (they’re both very short anyway, so they won’t eat up a lot of your time). You’ll be surprised by how they fit together.

Writing for the Ligonier blog, Nick Batzig lists 5 Things You Should Know about Sanctification. He begins with the Westminster Shorter Confession, but finds that Scripture itself offers a much more dimensional understanding of the various aspects of sanctification. You’ll be encouraged by his insight into this important topic.

Saturday Sampler: December 11 — December 17

Could a Roman Catholic pope have declared An infallible Catholic dogma based upon a blatant translation error? Examining the supposed Immaculate Conception of Mary, Tom of excatholic4christ explains how a 19th Century pope used a mistranslation of Genesis 3:15 to validate this unbiblical doctrine. His post reminds us that we need to use accurate Bible translations. And that we mustn’t accept any teaching, no matter who gives it, without measuring it against God’s Word.

I should write A Letter to My Old Self similar to the one Blake Long published in Theology & Life. It’s a brilliant dramatization of Romans 7, coming from an attitude of resolve and victory. Once Jesus gets hold of us, we don’t really want to go back to who we were.

We all know that Jesus was The Baby Who Turned the World Upside-Down, so we might be tempted to skip Cindy Matson’s post in The Bible Study Nerd. Resist that temptation! Cindy does a brilliant job of looking at ways in which Mary’s declaration that the Lord has toppled kingdoms and fed the hungry have already been realized in Christ.

Life gets prickly, as Leslie A of Growing 4 Life reminds us. Yet she encourages us to keep Looking for the Blooms in places where we don’t really expect to find anything with color or beauty. This simple little devotional brings a lovely sense of optimism that will lighten your heart.

Elizabeth Prata is used to pushback for her essays exposing false teachers in The End Time. But she finds that The most anger now comes from a surprising quarter. I didn’t expect this particular source of opposition, though I should have. I’m proud of Elizabeth for standing up for Biblical truth, especially when so many people clamor for compromise.

In his post for Knowable Word, Peter Krol teaches us to Know Your Literary Devices in interpreting Scripture. He walks us through some of the main interpretative devices, showing how they make a passage clearer without having to rely on commentaries. As you begin your 2023 reading plan, his tips might help you understand God’s Word better than ever.

Saturday Sampler: December 4 — December 10

In Farewell, Charlie Brown Christmas, Denny Burk tenderly reminiscences on a beloved classic that will grace network television this year for the last time. Though it will still be available, I’m sad that it won’t have the wide exposure that it’s had for nearly 60 years. Don’t watch the second video clip until you grab a box of tissues!

It’s that time of year when most children excitedly anticipate visits from Santa Claus — and talk about him with each other. In The Mailbag: My kid knows the truth about Santa. What if he tells his friends who don’t?, Michelle Lesley discusses this sensitive matter using godly wisdom. If you have school aged children, this article (repeated from December 2018) will help you navigate a tricky situation,

Forgiving others doesn’t come naturally, even for Christians. Leslie A of Growing 4 Life addresses this problem, and shares how the Lord has helped her deal with it, by writing Let It Roll. Just Let it Roll. In this crazy world where people feel offended so easily, her counsel and insight fill a big hole.

Writing for Fight for Faith, Doug Eaton looks to Zacherias and Elizabeth as examples of Celebrating Christmas with Jesus Himself. This short devotional challenges us to examine our prayer and Bible intake as we prepare to welcome Christ into our holiday celebrations.

Is discernment ministry an excuse for gossip? Not always. But more and more, that’s becoming the case according to Tim Challies. So he writes Let’s Talk About Jesus, Not Celebrities to help us guard against using discernment as an excuse to speak and write things that unnecessarily damage the reputations of others. Thankfully Tim acknowledges that sometimes we do need to call out people; had he not made this caveat, I probably wouldn’t have recommended his article.

Sunny Shell, who blogs at abandoned to Christ, writes When My Heart Breaks in response to a slanderous text from someone dear to her. You’ll appreciate her godly way of handling her emotions.

What’s Your Top Priority When Studying the Bible? Peter Krol’s post in Knowable Word differentiates between our ultimate goal and the necessary steps for reaching it. His insight guides us to proper interpretation of the text, which in turn leads to right application.

Michelle Lesley is more to me than a fellow blogger. Although I only met her in person once, I consider her a personal friend. Therefore, I beg you to read If you’d like to help… and act accordingly. This lady has served God faithfully by ministering to her family, her church and women all over the county. Now we have the opportunity to minister to her. Please, as you are able. take this opportunity. Thank you!

Saturday Sampler: November 27 — December 3

Michelle Lesley doesn’t hate Santa Claus, but she does hate the idea of lying to children. So she reprises The Mailbag: What should we tell our kids (and grandkids) about Santa Claus? from December 4, 2017. I love her blend of Scripture and common sense — not to mention her creatively — in tackling this controversial issue.

Are You Ready to Read the Bible in 2023? asks Leslie A of Growing 4 Life. Unlike most reading plans, Leslie’s is flexible, allowing for schedule variations and disruptions. If you want a Bible reading plan that fits into your busy life, you might consider her annual Bible Reading Challenge.

If Leslie’s plan doesn’t appeal to you, consider some of the suggestions that Scott Slayton of One Dergree to Another makes in The Value of Repeated Bible Reading. Scott raises some great points on concentrating time and attention on specific portions on Scripture in addition to getting acquainted with the big picture. Both approaches are extremely important to developing a solid grasp of God’s Word.

Writing in The End Time, Elizabeth Prata teaches us How to tell a false Bible teacher from a true teacher by providing two helpful checklists. If you want to cultivate your discernment skills, this essay offers very practical guidelines for evaluating anyone who teaches God’s Word.

People say a lot of stupid things when someone is grieving. In his very personal article, Tim Challies reflects on the insensitivity he experienced after his son’s death by writing No, It Wasn’t the Vaccine. Although I suffered through many hurtful remarks during my own times of grief, I’d never considered the issue that Tim raises. But it makes sense, and his insight can equip us to more effectively weep with those who weep.

While exploring the G3 Ministries blog Thursday, I found James Anderson’s wonderful post, How Firm a Foundation: Exceeding Great and Precious Promises, which examines my all-time favorite hymn. I loved reading more background on this hymn, and I believe this article will deepen your appreciation of its lyrics.

Saturday Sampler: November 13 — November 19

Does “only God know the heart”? Or are there cases when we do too? Elizabeth Prata tackles these questions in The End Time, showing us several instances in which the Bible refutes the popular notion that Christians can’t judge the hearts of false teachers. She makes a convincing case. See if she convinces you.

On the Building Jerusalem blog, Stephen Kneale calls us to Win them with the Word instead of using pragmatic strategies to attract people to Christ. Having been in a church which tried gimmick after gimmick in their feeble attempts to grow the size of their congregation, I greatly appreciated everything in this post. Even though it primarily targets pastors, this post can apply to our personal evangelism. Jesus told us to make disciples, not mere converts.

Writing for The Majesty’s Men, Gabriel Hughes shares My Top 10 Favorite Worship Songs on the CCLI Top 100 (Part I) to refresh our appreciation of doctrinally sound music. He goes through each song explaining its background and demonstrating why he considers it great. His then shows us his favorite part.

Stephen Spinnenweber, in his article for Reformation 21, leads us into the Thanksgiving holiday by musing on The Christian’s Double Satisfaction. I’d never really thought about the joy I derive, not just from the many blessings in my life, but in knowing Who gave me those blessings. If you want to enrich your thanksgiving to the Lord, this article is what you need!

Continuing his series on worship music as a key factor in introducing Pentecostal sentiment into the Church at large, David De Bruyan gives a brief (and eye opening) history of Christian music. Strange Lyre: Early Beginnings of Pentecostal Worship appears on the G3 Blog, providing background information to explain how we got to today’s praise music. Keep on the lookout for future installments — I have a feeling we’re all going to learn a lot from this series.

I’ve written a lot about impending persecution that will come as we are faithful to the Gospel. R. Scott Clark of The Heidleblog writes How Did Christians Speak In Public? to put my assertions into historical context and demonstrate how Christians in earlier centuries spoke boldly in the face of opposition. It’s a lengthy and intellectually challenging read, but if I did it while fighting a headache, I have every confidence that you can do it.

Saturday Sampler: November 6 — November 12

All of us teach the Bible in some capacity. Few of us officially lead Bible Study groups, perhaps, but we disciple other women and/or teach the Word to children. So Ryan Higgionbottom’s How to Make the Bible Come Alive in Knowable Word can encourage you. Actually, I think his post even applies to our expectations in reading the Bible for ourselves.

Leave it to Elizabeth Prata to blog Of Tweet-storms, cauldrons, and cesspools in The End Time. Standing firmly for truth has cost Elizabeth a lot, but she remains steadfast in her obedience to God. Her recent experience may inspire you to follow her example.

Writing for Gentle Reformation, Kyle E. Sims makes a comparison between going to the gym regularly and being faithful in our devotional time with the Lord. Stick To It isn’t a sanctimonious lecture scolding us for giving up on our Bible reading plans, however. Pastor Sims addresses us with compassion, helping us work through a few common struggles in maintaining a healthy devotional life. You might appreciate his encouragement.

Leading up to Thanksgiving, Michelle Lesley lists 25 Things I Forgot to Thank God For. Although this post is a repeat of one she wrote several years ago, its points haven’t aged one bit! Perhaps the Lord will use it to remind you of reasons to express your thanks to Him. (I especially like #22.)

David De Bruyan introduces his new series for the G3 Blog with Strange Lyre: The Pentecostalization of Christian Worship. I suspect his view won’t win him any popularity contests, but please take time to prayerfully consider what he has to say. You might be surprised (and even a little challenged) by his presentation, and maybe you can then think through the music in your own church.

Responding to the growing sympathy towards Christian Nationalism within some Reformed circles, Fivepointer of Hipandthigh writes Ecumenical Nationalism to question whether or not we should compromise pure devotion to the Lord for the sake of political gain. Please consider his argument.

Our God Reigns: The Foundation of Christian Conviction by Henry Anderson is both challenging and encouraging. This contribution to The Cripplegate depends on Scripture to make the connection between God’s sovereignty and our ability to be faithful to Him — even in the face of persecution.