So shall My Word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. ~ Isaiah 55:11

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

This and That While I'm Away

It's been a long few weeks here in my little corner of the world, so I'm afraid that blogging hasn't been on my to-do list as much since my last post.  My dad has been in intensive care for the last week and a half due to heart and lung complications, so I've traveled up north to be with my folks and my sister. 

Consequently, I won't have an essay to offer my readers this time (and probably won't for just a little while), but I do want to pass on some of the blog articles and websites that I have found interesting as well as edifying during the times I've had to sit and read at the computer. I am an avid reader, and I can always come up with great book ideas for those living out their Christian faith, as well as some excellent and well-written articles found on the web that pertain to discernment, prophecy, and the current state of the Church.

Here are some things I have found recently that I hope you will enjoy taking the time to read:

1.  For those of you who are frustrated with the consistent attempts to decrease the amount of liberty we Americans should be able to enjoy according to our Consitution, here's a nice, little thought-provoking blog written by Denise at Surphside based on an article by Bill Flax who is a contributor on the Forbes website.  If you are currently homeschooling or just thinking about taking your family in that direction, you will find this article giving you something to think about.  The link she provides wasn't working due to an error on the Forbes site, so I'm providing a link to the article via another route here.  Hopefully one of those links will work for you, because the article is a good one.

2. It's absolutely amazing how many wonderful resources there are on the internet addressing the need for biblical discernment these days.  With the myriad of informative sites available, we really have no excuse for not being well informed.  The sad fact is, that even with all of the well-documented research that has been done to expose false teaching in the church today, the apostasy still cometh, and people just won't listen.  Not to be dismayed, though, for scripture has warned for a few thousand years we would be in this place that we are in right now. Israel didn't listen, and we don't do too well at it either, I'm afraid.  But we should be willing to see Israel's propensity for dullness and rebellion within ourselves, then take heed, listen up, and repent.

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?"
Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."  And He said, "Go, and say to this people:
"'Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.'
Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with
their hearts, and turn and be healed."  ~Isaiah 6: 8-10~

So, having said all that, let me draw your attention to another short, but to-the-point blog article exposing the disturbing beliefs of wildly popular, megachurch pastor Andy Stanley (son of well-known pastor Charles Stanley). Stanley's exaltation of the United States President, calling Mr. Obama "Pastor-in-Chief", is  more than just a little troubling.  You can read more about it here, and if you are an Andy Stanley fan, please do.

3.  And that brings me to the next point:  It's true that we all have our favorite Bible preachers and teachers.  I can easily make a list of the people I learn the most from and enjoy listening to their sermons, reading their blogs, and buying their books.  But the scriptures tell me to be like the Bereans (Acts 17:11), examining the scriptures to see if their teachings are true.  If I find a favorite teacher/pastor's teaching does not line up with scripture, I need to reassess.  Biblical truth is just too important for me (or any of us) to be compromising on in order to hold on to a "favorite" teacher.  Determine where your loyalty lies, please. Denise at Surphside posted a quote by Doron Gladden that says, ‎"If the Biblical Jesus Christ were to rebuke your favorite theologian, favorite denomination, favorite politician, or favorite sin, would you forsake all and follow Him? Or would you cling to what you "feel" is right in the face of Truth and be as the rich young ruler who turned from Christ. Or the throngs of people who only wanted a Christ to vanquish their enemies, feed them unlimited fish and bread and not dare crush them and their sin?"

To offer you a great discernment blog that you'd do well to keep on your Favorites list is The Watchman's Bagpipes, as the author, Glenn Chatfield, has a well-stocked archive of prominent teachers, pastors, and specific teachings that can be linked to.  The Sola Sisters also have a bevy of information to help keep us abreast of the goings-on in the current state of the evangelical church today.  I hope you will keep an open mind about your favorite teachers and preachers and make good use of these websites.  They are truly a God-send for the day and age we live in.

4.  Here is an article written by Bible teacher Gary Gilley entitled "Building Up The Body."  Written in July of 2004, you would think that in the last nine years we would have wisened up by now, seeing the crooked path we've taken and thereby worked to get ourselves back onto the straight and narrow. But, alas, as you can read from his well-thought-out article, the Church is not much better off now than when he wrote this spot-on essay. This article explains biblically what the church's function should be as opposed to what it has become and why we seem to be sinking in the quicksand of spiritual immaturity. Gilley is a gifted author who has a tremendous grasp on why the precious Church is where she is and how she got there.  Anything written by him is well worth looking into.

5.  I posted earlier this month on the concerns with what was being taught during the Passion 2013 conference.  The point of that article was to remind us parents and youth ministry workers what our real responsibility is towards the youth of the church:  it's not entertaining them, but grounding them in biblical doctrine so that they can truly be growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  It's amazing how many churches claim that their goals are all about "making disciples" (which is a biblical goal, after all!), but when one looks at how so many youth groups are all about the next fun activity planned for the week (and fun certainly does have its place), it makes one wonder who that goal is really aimed at.  If I were a young person growing up in the church today, onference.  She wrote:  "This conference does much to divide the church by capitalizing on a natural youthful zeal and diverts their attention from quiet submission in service to a local church. This co-opting of their zeal to solve a cultural or social ill is not biblical.  Youths haven't had time or seasoning to determine what their spiritual gifts even are, let along set them on fire to spend money and energy in using them in what are vain attempts to solve an unsolvable social issue. Young adults of aged 18 -25 (the demographic of the Passion conferences), have not served in church long enough to have become seasoned by the Holy Spirit. They may not even know what their spiritual gift is. Even if they have a mere few years of service under their belt and have settled on their gift in ministry, they have not learned self-control in diverse circumstances yet. Frankly, they are too young to be ambassadors for Christ - absent senior oversight." Please click on her name above to read the entire article.

I have four children of my own, ages 15-21, so this really hits close to home.  It is hard to change the tide and do things at home differently than you've done it before in regards to teaching our children, but my husband and I are really coming to understand just how important it is to spend time with the kids each week and give them a good foundation.  It is my prayer that the Lord will help us to redeem the time because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16).

6.  Last, but certainly not least, I have left a great article for the end.  Most of us at one time or another wrangle with wanting to know God's will for our lives, and the pursuit of the unknown future leaves many in an anxious state for fear of "getting it wrong."  This is understandable, for most of us have not been taught biblically how to understand what the will of the Lord is for our lives.  Hence, most of us have been given all kinds of tips, tricks, and methods to figure out our own future.  No wonder so many Christians have lead lives of disappointment and confusion.  Here is a biblically based, sound commentary on the will of the Lord, written by Bob DeWaay. I came across this article at Sola Sisters, and it is entitled God's Will and Christian Liberty.  I hope you find this encouraging, enlightening, and liberating; especially since the Truth makes us free, and we certainly need to be free from all the mysticism that has engulfed the Church in discerning this all-important matter. Scripture tells us that "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises" (2 Peter 1:3-4a).  We find everything we need to live life for God's glory in scripture!

As an aside, I have stated in previous posts about the importance of the scripture in the life of the believer.  However, Mr. DeWaay makes an excellent point about how one can submit to God's moral law, but not submit to the Gospel itself.  He says, "The most important message of God’s revealed will is His plan of Messianic salvation. Messiah is spoken of from Genesis to Revelation. No matter how diligently one works to follow God’s revealed moral law, such a person will be found in the most serious act of disobedience if he refuses to repent and believe the Gospel. The Bible says, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard”(Hebrews 2:3).  Since works righteousness is the belief of all religions except Biblical Christianity, it is not surprising that many are willing to submit to the laws of God revealed in Scripture but not submit to the Gospel."  I agree with Mr. DeWaay wholeheartedly. It is highly important to make the distinction that we submit to God's word because we have already submitted to the Gospel itself and it's righteous and narrow demands.  We come to God His way, or no way (see John 14:6).

In addition, I highly recommend a book by Dave Swavely, entitled Decisions, Decisions: How (And How Not) To Make Them.  This excellent book is biblically based and grounded in scripture to help the believer understand how God views our decision-making process in relation to His will, and how we can line ourselves up with what the Bible has to say on the matter. An appropriate complement to the article by Bob DeWaay.

Well, that's certainly a lot of reading to leave you with!  I trust you will find all of the above articles helpful, informative, and encouraging.  I'll be back when I can, so until next time--happy reading!

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