Just Because It Affirms My Bias Doesn’t Mean It’s Accurate

I recently read an article about a popular Christian teacher whom I followed rather blindly until about 15 years ago. I’ve since discovered that he’s a false teacher. To this day, it baffles me that I didn’t catch the more blatant errors in his theology — especially since more minor inconsistencies about his life actually did bother me. Anyway, I now avoid this teacher to the point that I won’t recommend otherwise solid articles in Saturday Sampler if they favorably quote him.

Needless to say, I’ve developed a definite bias against this man that would shock a friend of mine who once saw my bookshelf dedicated to him and jokingly referred to it as a shrine. He sadly embraced ideas which I now realize directly oppose the Gospel. So when I came across an article critiquing him, I expected clarity on the issues that most concern me about him.

I got that clarity, which the author documented very well. In that respect, I found the article quite helpful. After sharing it with John, we started destroying my books of his. So yeah, I found confirmation that his books have no place in my home, and that I must make sure they don’t fall into the hands of anyone else.

The remarks I’ve just made probably make you wonder why I’m neither naming the popular false teacher nor providing a link to the article about him. In answer, let me say naming him here would only cause controversy that would distract you from the point I want to make. And linking to the article would be a mistake because its author made some claims that I haven’t as yet been able to verify. Those questionable claims, in fact, have reminded me of a fundamental rule in both journalism and discernment ministry.

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Saturday Sampler: February 5 — February 11

For those of us who use our discernment skills to call out false teachers, the temptation to keep arguing until our opponent concedes defeat can lead us into sinful attitudes and behavior. So I appreciate Tim Challies for putting A Prayer for Times of Controversy on his blog. This prayer by Puritan Richard Baxter might give us good balance as we seek to correct error within evangelical circles. Please, however, don’t misinterpret my inclusion of this article as a statement against calling out error; it’s more of an encouragement to maintain pure attitudes while doing so.

The Devil is Blinding You to Glory warns Jacob Crouch on Aliens and Pilgrims. He looks at how the Enemy blinds unbelievers when we witness to them (perhaps a helpful reminder that their conversions don’t depend on our rhetorical skills), but he also points out how Christians can be blinded.

Scott Slayton of One Degree to Another offers four compelling reasons Why You Should Read Genesis. No, I won’t give you hints or clues as to what those reasons are. But I will tell you that those reasons might influence your understanding of Scripture as a whole. When all the “begats” wear you down, those reasons just might encourage you to keep reading.

I don’t just agree with the personal opinion Michelle Lesley expresses in The Mailbag: Christians, the Bible, and Tattoos, I also believe she evaluates this difficult topic from a Scriptural perspective. No matter what you feel about tattoos, Michelle’s approach will cause you to think carefully through this issue. As godly women, let’s make sure that mere emotions don’t determine our attitudes about things that the Bible doesn’t address.

What guides your daily decisions? Leslie A discusses this crucial question by writing I Want A Principle Within for Growing 4 Life. As she often does, she asks some penetrating questions that rightly make us uncomfortable. But shouldn’t compromise with the world make Christians uncomfortable, especially if those compromises eventually take us in directions that displease the Lord? She ends with a poem by Charles Wesley that perhaps we all ought to pray.

David de Bruyn, writing for the G3 Blog, has some fascinating and concerning insights on the influence of Pentecostal worship has made inroads into cessationist churches. Cessmaticism: The Strange Hybrid of Contemporary Christian Worship examines the adoption of Charismatic styles of music into churches that would otherwise reject anything from that movement. He does, I admit, paint with a broad brush at times, but overall he raises points that we should most likely consider. Worship is too important to take lightly.

Does your church preach tithing? Tom of excatholic4christ holds the practice up to New Testament teaching in Throwback Thursday: Some thoughts about “tithing” that may surprise and even challenge you. He helps us see why we must examine everything against the Word of God, no matter how much we love and trust our pastors.

False teachers are subtle, as The End Time author Elizabeth Prata shows us in Ladies to avoid: Some Discernment essays. She explains the necessity of naming false teachers, and then lists some past posts she’d written on two popular teachers who usually fly under radar.

One of the elders in our church comes to our apartment each Friday morning to do Bible Study with me and John. This week we studied Scriptures about the authority of darkness, which Christ rescued us from. Robb Brunanski, in his post for The Cripplrgate, underscores the study we did by writing The Grammys and Spiritual Warfare. As Christians, we must stay aware of what really influences our culture.

Don’t neglect Robin Self’s reminder in A Worthy Walk that we are Saved from His Wrath. It’s a very short post with a powerful message.

Flashback Friday: Look At What You Say

I’d hoped to publish an original article today, knowing that people generally prefer not to read recycled posts. But I am still working on my latest piece, and I haven’t as yet figured out what to do for its graphic. I came across the following blog post, which I wrote on July 21, 2016. It doesn’t say exactly what the post I’m currently writing says, but it might be serve as a helpful introduction to that post. It’s interesting to see God’s providence in little things.

Psalm 19V14_02

Your conduct online, particularly over a long period of time, generally exposes your true nature. I don’t doubt the possibility of hypocrites, just as people in other arenas can effectively hide ugly truths about themselves.  I well remember being speechless for an entire day after learning that a pastor whom I’d deeply respected had been committing adultery even as he preached on the importance of sexual purity.  So okay, some people can maintain a facade for years.

Note, however, that even this pastor eventually got caught.

Regardless of the situation, then, we can pretty much say that most people can’t keep up an act for very long, even online. Sooner or later their blogs, Tweets or Facebook posts will give readers a sense of a person’s true values, temperament or priorities.

If we claim to be Christian women while making angry posts and using unladylike language, we give our readers good reason to question the genuineness of our professions.  I am ashamed to say that I’ve made reckless posts, both on my last blog and on Facebook, that exposed blatant hypocrisy in my life. Some friends who had admired me for many years lost respect for me, as well they should have. My words, rather than reflecting godly attributes, betrayed my selfish anger and pride.

Don’t worry that I’m still browbeating myself for those sinful posts.  Christ has brought me to repentance and has given me the grace to change my attitudes and behavior.  But I tell my story to illustrate the principle that, whether online or in face-to-face interactions, the time always comes when our words open windows to show what really lurks in our hearts.

When the Pharisees accused Jesus of demon possession, He confronted their blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Then He warned them about saying things without first thinking them through:

33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” ~~Matthew 12:33-37 (ESV)

Our tongues and keyboards may initially allow us to fool people (as my hypocritical pastor fooled me), but those same tongues and keyboards,  given enough time, will tell the truth. Consequently, we must constantly submit ourselves to the Lord, desiring that our hearts and minds stay saturated with His values.

I often pray Psalm 19:14, which I’ve quoted in the graphic at the top of this essay. This verse reminds me to  carefully watch what I speak, type and even what I think. I want my thoughts and words to please the Lord.

This verse challenges me to honor the Lord with my thoughts and words, but it also puts the focus on Him. He strengthens me to obey Him with my thoughts and the written or spoken words that my thoughts produce. And when my thoughts and words result in sin, He redeems me because of Christ’s shed blood on the cross.

Dear sisters in Christ, be aware of what you post online. Those words speak volumes about your spiritual condition, both to Christians and to those who seek opportunity to discredit the Lord. You, once you declare yourselves to be Christians, automatically become His representatives. Please make Psalm 19:14 your prayer.

And Forgive Us Our Debts As We Forgive Our Debtors

Most of us have recited The Lord’s Prayer since childhood. We’ve memorized it, aided perhaps by its poetic cadences and by reciting it Sunday after Sunday in church and as part of our bedtime prayers. Matthew quotes Jesus as He teaches this model for prayer during the Sermon on the Mount:

“Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] ~~Matthew 6:9-13 (NASB95)

For all the times you’ve prayed this beloved prayer, do you remember what Jesus said immediately afterwards?

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Flashback Friday: A Wrong Definition

I originally published this article back on October 8, 2015. But Andy Stanley recently brought the issue of homosexuality up yet again, so I thought it might be profitable to run this article in response to his compromise.

Rainbow Bible

People I’ve known for decades have decided to stop trying to resist their homosexual temptations and have bought into the lie that their sexual proclivities define their entire identities.

In one respect, I sympathize with them. I remember my years as a  single woman with no prospects and  my consequent struggle against idolizing marriage. The  more I begged the Lord to take away my desire for a  husband, the more I struggled to accept being unmarried. I engaged in fantasies about men who clearly had no interest in me beyond friendship, and I allowed my bitterness and self-pity to eclipse all the blessings and opportunities to serve that God had brought into my life.

But the comparison only goes so far. I idolized heterosexual marriage, which God instituted when He created Eve (Genesis 2:18-24Matthew 19:4-6). My idolatry was a perversion of a desire that otherwise honored Him. In contrast, people with same-sex attractions idolize sexual relationships that His Word unabashedly condemns as sinful (Leviticus 18:22Romans 1:26-271 Corinthians 6:9-10).  They want something that God says isn’t good for them.

You see toddlers in the supermarket, from time to time, throwing humungous temper tantrums because their parent won’t purchase a desired item. You’ve heard the phrase, “But I want it!” increasing in both volume and passion. But perhaps the object of desire happens to be mouse poison. Certainly, those pellets might (to a three-year-old) appear to be a savory snack, but the kid’s father knows that ingesting even a handful of the substance could have fatal results. Mouse poison is not a suitable snack for a child.

I chose the word, “suitable” in order to deal with the first Biblical passage that gay Christians routinely distort in their quest to make committed same sex relationships a viable option. Genesis 2:18, in introducing the creation of Eve, shows God saying:

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.(ESV)

In other translations, the word here translated as “fit” is rendered “suitable.” Pro-gay theologians use that English word as the springboard for their argument that, although a woman is obviously a suitable mate for a heterosexual man, she cannot be suitable for a man with homosexual inclinations. Therefore, since the verse in question also says “it is not good that the man should be alone,” pro-gay theologians reason that a gay man indeed makes a suitable–if not essential–partner for another gay man.

In his well-known YouTube video, “The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality,” 22-year-old Matthew Vines made this emotional statement on Genesis 2:18:

In the first two chapters of Genesis, God creates the heavens and the earth, plants, animals, man, and everything in the earth. And He declares everything in creation to be either good or very good – except for one thing. In Genesis 2:18, God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” And yes, the suitable helper or partner that God makes for Adam is Eve, a woman. And a woman is a suitable partner for the vast majority of men – for straight men. But for gay men, that isn’t the case. For them, a woman is not a suitable partner. And in all of the ways that a woman is a suitable partner for straight men—for gay men, it’s another gay man who is a suitable partner. And the same is true for lesbian women. For them, it is another lesbian woman who is a suitable partner. But the necessary consequence of the traditional teaching on homosexuality is that, even though gay people have suitable partners, they must reject them, and they must live alone for their whole lives, without a spouse or a family of their own. We are now declaring good the very first thing in Scripture that God declared not good: for the man to be forced to be alone. And the fruit that this teaching has borne has been deeply wounding and destructive.

Notice his main appeal is not to examining the verse in either its immediate context or in the broader context of Scripture. Quite to the contrary, he depends on emotion. How could the God who declared singleness to be “not good” limit marriage to heterosexual formations? Aren’t such parameters imposing enormous suffering on lesbians and gays.

As someone who believed physical disability would more than likely prohibit marriage, I must empathize with Mr. Vines on this point. Yet Scripture doesn’t conform to our emotional expectations. As much as this man desires a male spouse (I’m not sure how “a family of his own” could be accomplished), imposing this longing on the text betrays his irresponsible scholarship. Mr. Vines, imitating the pro-gay theologians he has studied, takes Genesis 2:18 out of context, and then  reads into it a provision for same sex marriage that doesn’t exist.

If we continue reading this passage, we can’t miss the implication that God had created the animals as male and female

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. ~~Genesis 2:18-25 (ESV)

As the Lord brought the animals before him, Adam saw that each had a corresponding mate. God thus made Adam aware that he was without a corresponding mate. His species needed a female, and human marriage would follow the male/female model. This passage no where suggests that a suitable helper could, for someone with same sex attractions, be anything but a opposite sex partner. Wanting something outside God’s design, however passionate that longing may be, doesn’t alter God’s pattern for sexuality.

I do sympathize with people who experience same sex  attractions, but not with those who distort Scripture for the purpose of justifying homosexual sin.  No person–least of all someone who calls himself a Christian–ought to claim a sinful disposition as his identity.

Avoiding Legalism, Standing On Scripture And Discussing Working Women

I don’t want to write this article. People on both sides of the argument are going to be unhappy with my position, so I believe I’m putting a big target on my back and inviting everyone to shoot. But I’ve been taking you through Titus 2:3-5 for quite some time now, and I have decided against abandoning the series simply because I’ve reached the uncomfortable clause about women being workers at home. As an older woman, I have a responsibility to follow the text even when it takes me places I’d rather avoid.

Let us look again at our passage, shall we?

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. ~~Titus 2:3-5 (NASB95)

I’d like to first address the minority that believes this passage prohibits women from ever working outside the home. Yes, this group has very valid concerns regarding feminism and its influence on Christian women. and I will deal with those concerns later in this article. But even legitimate concerns mustn’t devolve into legalism.

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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.

Do We Care What Andy Stanley Says?

When I saw Andy Stanley’s name trending on Twitter early last week, I resisted the urge to find out what his latest gaffe was. There were better ways to invest my time, I assured myself. In one sense, that was true. While Christians sometimes really do need to name those who propagate falsehood in the name of Christ, discernment ministries gone bad have shown us the danger of devolving into spiritual gossips. I’ve learned that naming names should be done sparingly, and always with the goal of building up believers rather than tearing down false teachers.

Alas, Andy Stanley’s recent blunder caught up to me through two podcasts I listened to this past weekend. Neither podcast brought him up for the purpose of gossip, but rather out of genuine concern that he is conditioning evangelicals to minimize the authority of the Bible. After listening to both podcasts, I determined that I have something to contribute to the conversation that is less about Andy Stanley himself (though I pray for his repentance), and more about upholding the Scripture as having authority even over people who refuse to believe it and have no intention of submitting to its teachings.

In the introduction to his new sermon series, Stanley declared that appealing to Scripture fails to reach people for Christ. In both evangelism and ministering to those who have become disenchanted with the church, he says, we should not use the Bible as ground zero in our attempts to bring them to the Lord. He explains that neither audience accepts God’s Word as being relevant or compelling, and for that reason we must avoid prefacing any statement with “the Bible says…”

I understand his intent in shying away from the Bible. I think he sincerely feels compassion towards people who question the Bible’s right to give direction to their lives, and consequently he wants a more palatable way to reconcile them to God. As understandable as his approach is, however, its ultimate result is to replace the Word of God with human reasoning.

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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.

My Dirty Little Heart And Grace

Originally published November 27, 2015, but slightly revised for clarity.

Young Lady 01

Today, January 20, 2023, marks 52 years since the Lord graciously saved me. Let me share my testimony — not as the Gospel, but as a small demonstration of His wonderful grace.

He had thick golden hair that sunlight would dance in. 52 years later, I can’t recall anything else about him, but at the time the slightest bit of attention from him produced exciting (and frightening) sensations that my 17-year-old body had never experienced. Thankfully, the severity of my disability held me back from making myself sexually available to him in the weeks before his deployment to Vietnam.

I fantasized that he’d get me pregnant so that he’d have to marry me when he returned from the war. As you might guess, however, he made no advances toward me. But 17-year-olds rarely live in reality, and so I clung to hope that I could have the sexual encounter when he came back to San Rafael, California (where I lived at the time). Once he wrote that first letter, providing me with his address, I could surely write letters that would make me irresistible! Couldn’t I?

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