Posted in encouragement, theology

Our temptations

By Elizabeth Prata

I found these three items today and they matched so well I thought I’d pass them along to you for your consideration.

The verse below says that every man is tempted. Of course we know that the word man here is generic. It isn’t saying that every man is tempted and no woman is tempted. The word in Greek means no one, or literally, ‘not even one’. It means that every person on earth who ever loved or will live, is tempted to sin. (Except Jesus).

We’re all sinners. We’re all boiling fleshly baskets of sinful lusts. We each have our own flavors of temptation, but we all have them. Living the Christian life, we are to pursue holiness, we are to be transparent to others in our lives and be accountable to our brethren, normally in the local church of which we are a member.

Who is responsible for our temptations? God? Satan? Ourselves? In this half hour sermon we learn the answer to that, through scriptures preached by John MacArthur

Whose Fault is our Temptation?

Look at your Bible as I read to you verses [from James 1] 13 through 18. “Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted by God. For God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he anyone. But everyone is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived it bringeth forth sin and sin when it is complete bringeth forth death. Do not err by beloved brethren, or do not be deceived, every good and every perfect gift is from above and is coming down from the father of lights, with whom is no variation neither shifting shadow. Of his own will begot he us with the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.” (James 1:13-18)

As we approach this text, let me have you look at verse 14, it begins with these words, ‘but every man is temped’.

What do we DO about our temptations? Lots of things. Prayer, staying in the Word, fellowshipping with like-minded brethren where Godly conversations occur repentance. But also, friendships. This Challies throwback article speaks of a practical way to work toward slaying that ole monster, our lustful temptations.

One Great Question to Ask a Friend

Roberts was talking about the kind of friendship men ought to have with one another and the kinds of questions they should be asking each another as they go through life together. Here is what he wants his friends to ask him: If you were the devil, where would you attack yourself?

Spurgeon had something say about temptation-

This Evening’s Meditation, (February 20),
“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.”—Matthew 4:1.

A holy character does not avert temptation—Jesus was tempted. When Satan tempts us, his sparks fall upon tinder; but in Christ’s case, it was like striking sparks on water; yet the enemy continued his evil work. Now, if the devil goes on striking when there is no result, how much more will he do it when he knows what inflammable stuff our hearts are made of. Though you become greatly sanctified by the Holy Ghost, expect that the great dog of hell will bark at you still. In the haunts of men we expect to be tempted, but even seclusion will not guard us from the same trial. Jesus Christ was led away from human society into the wilderness, and was tempted of the devil.

Solitude has its charms and its benefits, and may be useful in checking the lust of the eye and the pride of life; but the devil will follow us into the most lovely retreats. Do not suppose that it is only the worldly-minded who have dreadful thoughts and blasphemous temptations, for even spiritual-minded persons endure the same; and in the holiest position we may suffer the darkest temptation. The utmost consecration of spirit will not insure you against Satanic temptation.

Christ was consecrated through and through. It was His meat and drink to do the will of Him that sent Him: and yet He was tempted! Your hearts may glow with a seraphic flame of love to Jesus, and yet the devil will try to bring you down to Laodicean lukewarmness. If you will tell me when God permits a Christian to lay aside his armour, I will tell you when Satan has left off temptation. Like the old knights in war time, we must sleep with helmet and breastplate buckled on, for the arch-deceiver will seize our first unguarded hour to make us his prey. The Lord keep us watchful in all seasons, and give us a final escape from the jaw of the lion and the paw of the bear. —end Spurgeon

And just for fun, here is CS Lewis with his famous book on temptation written from the point of view of a demon, The Screwtape Letters

We can drag our patients along by continual tempting, because we design them only for the table, and the more their will is interfered with the better.&

 

The first thing is to delay as long as possible the moment at which he realises this new pleasure as a temptation.

Like Joseph fleeing Potiphar’s wife, we must flee temptation. (cf 1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Timothy 6:11, 2 Timothy 2:22). Don’t flirt with it, don’t look at it through interlaced fingers, don’t be prideful and think you can “handle” it. Only Jesus could handle it. We can resist it through Him.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

blog temptation

Posted in encouragement, theology

Dock Queens: A Sailing Story

By Elizabeth Prata

I was a liveaboard sailor for a few years. We usually anchored out somewhere for free. If we had to get to shore for supplies, we’d take the dinghy and putt-putt in to land. We went to a dock rarely but sometimes you had to. You’d need to fill the water tank, or the fuel tank, or we were expecting a delivery of something from the marine store that the dinghy was too small to transport over the waves and marine traffic.

We enjoyed strolling the dock and seeing other boats. We liked observing the different tie-ups people employed, or learned different knots for our ropes. We liked the sway of the boats at dock or hearing the masts creak in the wind. Nautical sounds. Continue reading “Dock Queens: A Sailing Story”

Posted in encouragement, theology

Some encouragement in dark days: Those who love Christ Alone

By Elizabeth Prata

I’m upset over the feminism in my denomination. I was raised by a feminist mother and my sister’s a feminist professor at a state University. Liberal to the core and so, so blind. I have skin in the game. However, I want to take a moment to extol the glory that is the unblemished church.

Last Saturday, Saturday Feb 15, dawned cold and rainy. It was hovering at freezing, and dark. No more miserable a Saturday morning could have been scheduled for the mini-conference at church. Yet 40+ people came. Was it a breakfast potluck, warm & full of good food? Was it a birthday party, with promise of music, laughter, and cake? No. It was a viewing of the intense 2-hour religious documentary American Gospel: Christ Alone. College students, young marrieds, couples with children, older saints, came in ready to learn, exalt, and fellowship over doctrinal truths.

We sat together, horrified by how the pure Gospel becomes perverted, crying over the stories of personal loss and doctrinal distortion, praising His name for the strength of a pure and holy Gospel that will never die. THIS is the church. Who would come to such an event? Those who love Christ alone.

And these churches are everywhere. Saints who love Christ alone, seek His word, thirst for fellowship in truth, scattered abundantly across the earth that God created. Not just our local body, but these churches are in jungles, in basements, in cities, in prairies. They meet, love, evangelize, learn, and no denomination, no false teacher, no screeching harridan, no downgrade will ever, EVER destroy what God intends as His Son’s Bride.

The true church is strong, it’s beautiful, it’s functioning. Many are coming to Christ every day, everywhere. The glory that will be revealed when Christ gathers His Bride will be astounding. Our days are dark, but they are also very, very bright.

wedding supper verse

Posted in Sunday martyr moment, theology

Sunday Martyr Moment: The Reformation Isn’t Over; and Stephen the first Martyr

By Elizabeth Prata

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs came to mind when I read this week of a Protestant Congregation partaking of the Eucharist at a Mass with Catholics in John Calvin’s old church no less. It is reported,

“The idea appealed because it corresponds to our desire to make the cathedral a meeting place for all Geneva Christians. A space that transcends confessional boundaries,” he said.

That’s hogwash and pure nonsense. The Catholic Church still anathemizes anyone who believes that faith is by grace alone. The Roman Catholic Church has not changed. They still teach that anyone who is not a Catholic is headed for hell. The Reformation isn’t over.

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The Actes and Monuments, popularly known as
Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, is a work of Protestant history and martyrology by Protestant English historian John Foxe, first published in 1563 by John Day. It includes a polemical account of the sufferings of Protestants under the Catholic Church, with particular emphasis on England and Scotland. The book was highly influential in those countries and helped shape lasting popular notions of Catholicism there. The book went through four editions in Foxe’s lifetime and a number of later editions and abridgements, including some that specifically reduced the text to a Book of Martyrs. The book was produced and illustrated with over sixty distinctive woodcut impressions and was to that time the largest publishing project ever undertaken in England. Image of John Foxe, Wiki CC

The book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.

It is very affecting. I am so humbled by the descriptions of the martyrs since the earliest moments of our faith. As I go to worship on Sunday I think of them as Paul often depicted, running a race. It is a relay race and they hand the baton to the next generation, the baton being the word of the Lord as contained in the bible. The martyrs receive the Crown of Life! I can’t wait for the ceremony when they are called up front by Jesus to be acknowledged for their ultimate sacrifice, yet those who lay down their life will receive it. (Matthew 16:25)

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)

I can only read a bit at a time, because the stories of persecution are so powerfully evil, the demonstration of faith so humbling, and the grace bestowed upon martyrs so beautiful. But that’s good though, I hope it takes me a lifetime to read of the stories of my brethren.

Foxe starts with the first martyr, Stephen, and collects the martyrs’ stories into the ages. Foxe has a section on the Inquisition, and the updated book has modern martyrs also. Please stay with me on Sundays as I share stories of life and death, faith and evil, and the grace of Jesus. The book blurb says Foxe wanted us to remember the martyrs, ‘for he knew the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church’. It is good to remember.

I’ll type out the passage from my book which is the updated version, recounting martyrdoms into the 20th century.

The second person to suffer and die for the church (after Jesus, who was not a martyr) was Stephen, whose name means ‘crown.’ (Acts 6-8).  He was martyred because of the faithful way in which he had proclaimed the Gospel to those who had killed Jesus. They became so enraged at what he sad to them that they drove him out of the city and stoned him to death. Stephen’s martyrdom came about 8 years after his Lord’s crucifixion, which would place his death in the year A.D. 35, since it was supposed that Jesus was actually born in about 6 B.C, two years before Herod the Great dies in 4 B.C. (See Matthew 2:16).

The same hate generated against Stephen apparently brought great persecution to all who professed faith in Christ as Messiah. Luke writes,

“And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. ” (Acts 8:1b).

During that time about two thousand Christians were martyred, including Nicanor, who was one of the seven deacons appointed by the Church (Acts 6:5).

Thank you Stephen, thank you Nicanor. I will meet you, my brothers, in eternity’s New Jerusalem after the rapture.

Each Sunday I’ll re-post a write-up on the individual martyrs. This series originally ran in 2013 and has been updated.

Posted in theology

Satire: Liz More prepares Resurrection Sunday sermon, misreads Eostre

By Elizabeth Prata

The following is satire. It is fiction. But it is also a heartfelt statement through spoofing that holds a germ of truth behind it. Once a denomination travels too far down a certain road, there is no turning back. This makes me very, very sad. Is there currently a church in Thyatira? No.

I do not think this satirical piece is so far off the mark of current circumstances. I feel very deeply for the people who follow these female false teachers, who are blind to the lusts that connect them with the lustful preaching of such teachers. (And I’m not holier-than-thou, I followed Joel Osteen for a year before the Lord graciously opened my eyes). Continue reading “Satire: Liz More prepares Resurrection Sunday sermon, misreads Eostre”

Posted in theology

Confession: My Rotten Attitude

By Elizabeth Prata

‘Eve! You shouldn’t have focused on what you can’t have! You should have focused on what bounty was available to you!’

Sure, that one is easy to spot.

I have food allergies. A lot of them. As I’ve gotten older they have crept in and gotten worse. A near family member is a celiac, and I have had to face a growing intolerance for gluten myself. I have an intolerance with dairy. I have to go on a low FODMAP diet, where certain foods from all food groups, varied and disparate, affect me terribly. It makes sense to go low carb at this stage of my life for heart health reasons. I dislike the texture of most meat.

It’s normal for people on the autism spectrum to have food issues, and I’m no exception. I was disappointed this past summer when I learned the FODMAP issue. These are foods that my body can’t absorb. It’s not just the usual suspects, sugar or carbs, but anything from onions to apples, blackberries to split peas, cauliflower or honey. Blueberries are OK but not more than 10, grapes are OK but not more than 17. And so on.

fruit

I sighed to myself and said often, “I can never have a bagel with lox again. No pizza. Muffins, bread, rolls, spaghetti. No rice, no peaches (I live in the Peach State!). No blackberries – which are my favorite.

Then our church watched American Gospel: Christ Alone. In it, a family is given extended interview time. The wife has serious medical issues. As her issues devolved, she was diagnosed with a condition that forced her to bypass her stomach and inject liquid foods straight into her intestine. She can ever eat again.

Never. Eat. Anything. No food passes her mouth. Ever.

Welp.

I will not complain or sigh or mourn my limited diet. I HAVE a diet. I have, by God’s grace, many items I still enjoy. I love fruits and veggies and there are many of them I still can eat. As for the gluten, there are ever more choices on the shelves for substitutes, which others in my family did not have when they were diagnosed in the late 1990s and early 2000s. So I have that grace as well.

I must look at what I CAN eat, not the forbidden fruit hanging on the tree. Why focus on the forbidden fruit and not the allowable fruit. Duh. I have seen Eve and she is me.

By comparison, the garden of God’s delights is large, and it contains not only food, but many joys and comforts. I need to look at those and not at what I can’t have.

Because He really has given me everything.

Posted in encouragement, theology

Drifting Away: A Sailing Story

By Elizabeth Prata

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. (Hebrews 2:1).

The question was raised at my Bible Group, how does a Christian prevent developing a hardened heart? One wise older man said by staying in the Word.

The Word is the only antidote for developing poor habits, shrinking our biblical worldview, and drifting away. I agree.

The word drift away used in the Hebrews verse in Greek means-

properly, to float (flow) alongside, drifting past a destination because pushed along by current. /pararrhyéō (“drift away from”) only occurs in Heb 2:1 where it refers to going spiritually adrift – “sinning by slipping away” (from God’s anchor). 3901 /pararrhyéō (“gradually drift away”) means to “lapse” into spiritual defeat, describing how we slowly move away from our moorings in Christ.

Paul often used nautical allusions and marine metaphors. They click with me because for two years I lived aboard a sailboat and traveled up and down the eastern United States’ seaboard and over to the Bahamas and back. We usually sailed during the day, unless we were on an overnight passage out in the ocean. But if we traveled down the Intracoastal Waterway, we’d find a snug spot to anchor in at night and went to bed after the sun sank.

The anchor becomes all-important. The anchor holds you in place, prevents you from drifting and damaging other boats anchored or moored nearby, and keeps you afloat rather than crashing into the rocks or going aground.

We spent a lot of time tending the anchor. When we initially set it, we’d take time to ensure it was set correctly. Is the rode taut and not tangled? Are the flukes digging into the ground? Is there enough depth under us for when we swing with the tide or current?

Then we’d watch it a while. We took reference points ashore to compare with our position. One reference point isn’t really enough. Drift is deceptive and incremental. You could be drifting away and still seem like you’re lined up with the same reference point. So we’d take two references. Three references are better so you can triangulate.

During the night, we’d sleep lightly, listening carefully for any change in the pattern of the waves slapping the bow, or any other untoward noises that meant there was likely a problem.

We spent a lot of time tending the anchor.

Do I spend an equal amount of time tending the anchor of my spiritual life, the Word? Do I treat it carefully, thoughtfully? Do I employ reference points to ensure I’m not drifting? Reference points in our spiritual lives that help us against drifting away from the truth are: visiting our prayer closet, studying His word, corporate worship, small groups, discipling and being discipled, and so on. Are we in position, standing firm in the center line of that narrow way, not going to the right or the left? Are we vigilant, listening for any variation in pattern of our sanctification in life?

We spent much time tending the anchor because our lives depended on it. We should take an even greater amount of time tending the anchor of our spiritual life because our spiritual life depends on it. When Paul says we must pay closer attention, the word in Greek means exceedingly, abundantly, vehemently.

When man sails upon the waters, he is not in his element. It is a foreign environment. It’s an environment that’s hostile, with many things in it either actively or benignly trying to kill him. Just so, Christian man on earth is not in his element. There are many things in this environment actively or benignly trying to kill him. We should pay the closest attention so we do not drift away.

Stay anchored to the Word, in position, with lots of reference points and a growing biblical worldview.

anchor
The Bahamian water was so clear we could see the anchor down 20 ft, at night

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Posted in encouragement, theology

Night Passages: A Sailing Story

By Elizabeth Prata

We grope for the wall like the blind; we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men. (Isaiah 59:10).

I lived on a sailboat for two years. We made a journey from Maine to the Bahamas and back, twice. We mainly followed the Intracoastal Waterway, a series of connected rivers, bays, channels, and canals that allow marine traffic up and down the coast without having to sail the open sea. Though, we did make passages “outside” too.

Sometimes we made overnight passages on the outside. If we wanted to get to a place more quickly. or as quickly as one can in a sailboat that goes 5 mph lol, we’d hop outside and make a 24 or 48 hour continuous passage. This was a carefully considered decision, because we did not have self-steering nor did we have GPS. Night watches meant you stood in the cockpit, which was open to the elements, and with hands on the wheel for hours at a time, you steered, maintained course, and watched, peering into the gloomy dark. It was full hands-on.

Night passages are strange. You’re on the open ocean, but it’s busier than you’d think. You’re in a shipping lane, so often you’d see distant red or green navigation lights on another boat or a ship passing a mile or two away. There are whales below, who usually know not to breach up under the boat but you still hope they don’t. There could be a lost container that fell off a ship lurking just under the surface ready to sink you. This has actually happened to other mariners. A floating log or telephone pole ready to impale the boat and it goes down.

The ocean looks like a wide-open space but when you’re going along under sail at a full gallop over the bounding main into the dark, it’s disconcerting.

If you happen to be in a room you’re not familiar with and the lights go out, you grope your way around. You carefully place your feet, you wait for your eyes to adjust, you feel your way along the wall. You stagger and totter, unbalanced and unsure.

Do you stride confidently around in the dark? No, of course not.

But that is what the boat did, with us on it. And we never knew we were lost, blindly stumbling around this earth at the sufferance of our God who was angry with us every day. Our spiritual blindness was unknown to us and we strode around the earth as if we owned it, not even knowing we would fall into a pit.

The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble. (Proverbs 4:19).

But if anyone walks at night, he will stumble, because he has no light. (John 11:10).

Yet,

If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. (John 11:9).

How refreshing it was to spot the lighthouse! When we saw that bright beam slicing through the dark, we were relieved. We knew we were about to be safe, the light had come.

How much MORE am I now safe, now relieved, that I have the eternal Light. His Light is in me as the Holy Spirit, and around me as  fellow believers, and before me as His statutes and ways. The Light is above me as my future destination in glory, and I will dwell in the Light forever.

The lost know (deep down) they are lost. The unsaved know (deep down) they are in the dark. The mysteries of the visible universe are present before them, as it was to me, yet we suppress that truth in unrighteousness. It’s heartbreaking to see the lost stride confidently around in their dark, the blind leading the blind, heading for a pit and ignoring our cries and pleas to do the one thing that will open their eyes:

Repent.

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel. (Mark 1:15).

Then you once were blind, but now you see. I see the Light now, by His grace, and when my hand reaches out to grope my way, it is His hand that takes me, sustains me, guides me. I have HIS confidence, HIS light. In the darkness no more, my eternal life with Jesus rolls out before me as ocean billows, sparkling, luminous, radiant.

blog dark

Posted in creation, theology

“And he made the stars also” : Think on This…

By Elizabeth Prata

And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. (Genesis 1:16).

The Bible declares there is one God, in three Persons. And that He made everything we see and all that we do not see. He is transcendent, apart from creation, above it, master.

I believe the Bible’s recounting of actual history, that in the beginning was God and that He made the earth, sky, and stars within a six-day period, and then He rested.

Doesn’t that phrase at the end of verse 16 just tickle you as it does me? He made all this, oh, and the stars too.

The Psalmists marveled as well. In Psalm 147:4 we read that not only did God make the stars, He named all of them!

He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names

Looking up into the night sky, the Bible’s countless shepherds must have marveled at the milky skyway adorned with stars winking and blinking and twinkling, They must have been in awe.

Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. (Isaiah 40:26).

And not only did He make the stars (almost as a throwaway line) and not only did He name them, but He made them all different to display His glory.

There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. (1 Corinthians 15:41).

We are so separate from the stars. Only a few men and women have gone into space and seen the stars a bit closer than we have on earth. Here they seem like pretty little pebbles, like periwinkles glittering in the wet sand on the beach.

Yet…think of this. The stars aren’t just pretty pebbles glittering in the night sky. Each one has energy. Think of the energy the sun has.

Source APOD

The sun contains seemingly endless energy, flares erupt, coronal mass ejections are hurled into space, emitting tons of radiation and other energy. The sun boils and cycles and is quiet, then erupts again.

They boiling mass of energy is the sun, a star. And He created it. God created ALL the stars, with ALL their energy.

God is more than that energy, greater, and powerful in speaking them all into existence with just a word. All that energy in every star in the universe can’t add up to the energy God has in speaking just one word!

I mentioned this to a friend, and I said isn’t that amazing? She said, No, it’s terrifying.

A God who does that, makes all the stars too, with their energy, is a terrifying God, a holy and powerful God.

I mentioned this to another friend. She said, it is amazing, and you know what is even more amazing? The Bible speaks of salvation being the true miracle, the true demonstration of power and might. His overcoming sin and forgiving and conversions and clean hearts. This is the true miracle power.

It is good to bow down to God, Creator of heavens and earth. It is good to be reminded of His terrifying power. it is good to extol His grace and gentleness in forgiving sinners.

I pray you think on these creation things. I pray you have friends you can and do speak of His creative power, His terrifying power, His forgiving power. Extol Him in all His ways today. He is endlessly wonderful to think of.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8 NAS)