Posted in theology

Ecclesiastes emptiness

By Elizabeth Prata

“Nothing teaches us so much the preciousness of the Creator, as when we learn the emptiness of all besides.

Source of that quite: Seek Him in Trouble Job 23:3, Morning and Evening Spurgeon Devotional

That was true for me. I spent decades searching. For what, I didn’t know. Just to fill a gnawing emptiness. Husband, got one. House, got one-and a new one at that. Fancy! Fulfilling job, yup. Awards for said job, yes.

I was still unhappy. Why was I unhappy? Wasn’t that the American dream? Why did I cry silently and uncomprehendingly in the deep of the night? Why did I feel empty with all these glittering achievements and societal tokens of success heaped around me?

So I concluded, in my logical mind, that I must be approaching life wrong. I decided to abandon “The American Dream” and live a different way. Husband had not been in the picture for a few years, so I decided to sell or rent the house, take a leave of absence from my teaching job, and sail off with a new boyfriend in his yacht. I was living ‘off the grid.’ Yeah,’ that’s the ticket, step away from the lifestyle of 2.5 kids and white picket fence work till retirement then take a cruise. I wanted to cruise now! So we sailed off on our yacht and saw sunsets and dolphins and lazed our way down the eastern seaboard and anchored in The Bahamas in blue clear water and put our feet up and said ‘ahhh, this is the life’.

Except it wasn’t.

A permanent vacation! A fancy yacht! A waterfront cabin to go back to! Why was I unhappy? Why did I crawl from our berth to sit in the cockpit under the moon and weep? What was missing? I had love, money, my own yacht, and all the free time I wanted. It was all empty leading to more emptiness.

So we returned to the cabin and decided to travel more. THAT is the way, see the world! We saw Europe, the US, Mexico, Canada. I decided that learning about what I was seeing was the way to go. I took classes in bookbinding, Italian, journalism. Used it to deepen my knowledge when we traveled.

Still unhappy. So, MORE knowledge. Advanced degree, got it, and with a 4.0 grade point average too.

Still tears. Why, Why WHY?

I decided that having a purpose in life was what mattered. I had a waterfront home, no debt, plenty of money, and a loving husband (the sailing boyfriend and I got married eventually). I started a business that kept me very busy for almost 6 years. I earned awards in my industry, notoriety, and community respect.

I was busy. I was involved. I was feted. I was still yearning for a something I did not know. A something that would wipe away all the feeling of…dare I say…pointlessness? Why did I feel that life was pointless if I had everything that the world told me would make me happy?

Graciously, the Lord reached down to me in my pitiable state and rescued me from His wrath for my sin. My new mind (the mind of Christ) was now allowing me to see WHY I’d felt empty all those decades, despite the many achievements, goals, and desired & whims I fulfilled. I could see the world clearly now. It held only a polluted and corrupted allure.

The true allure is Christ. He is glory, perfection, and holiness itself. He is beauty, kindness, and love. THAT IS WHAT WAS MISSING! Or should I say “Who” was missing. Jesus fulfills completely. He makes our vision clear, the heart happy, and the soul filled. He gives us that transcendent vision of external seeing that we now observe the world for what it is- a passing corruption. He gives us the point to life, His glory and our enjoyment of Him. he gives us opportunities for real success, sharing His Gospel so souls can be saved.

Solomon said it: “All is vanity”. All else besides Christ is vanity. Pursuing the things I did, thinking they would fulfill me, did- but only for a time. Then they palled as I sought another vanity coming over the horizon. I pursued THAT one, only to find I was striving after wind.

You cannot grasp wind. But you can grasp Jesus, the ROCK.

I recommend the book of read Ecclesiastes. Deeply study it.

Further Reading:

Ecclesiastes: Overview

Exposit The Word: Sermons through Ecclesiastes

Summary of the Book of Ecclesiastes

Living Life Backward: How Ecclesiastes Teaches Us to Live in Light of the End book, by David Gibson

Posted in theology

But the Proverbs 31 woman had a career!

By Elizabeth Prata

EPrata photo

For a Christian woman to choose a career outside the home that voids her duties at home is sin and bad for the family. The Bible outlines that a wife’s role is to be helpmeet to the husband and mom to the kids, very present and involved, totally focused in raising the little humans and serving the husband, serving at home- if at all possible.

This stance always receives heat. The women who are opposing this doctrine say the verses I share to support this stance are taken out of context (like the woman’s comment below). Or they try to claim the verses don’t really say what they say. Yes, they do say what they say.

That one often gets thrown into the conversation at some point. “But, but, but the Proverbs 31 woman!” Liberal women and feminists like to claim that the Proverbs 31 woman was a self-sufficient sharp business woman who grew her business AND who incidentally had kids and a husband. They say that the Proverbs 31 woman busted that glass ceiling, was an entrepreneur extraordinaire, and who did it all- had a fulfilling career while managing her house.

Is that what’s really going on here? The Proverbs 31 woman as a model of professional career woman? Let’s take a closer read on this woman.

Proverbs 31 opens with King Lemuel (probably Solomon) dispensing to the son in wisdom some life lessons. That’s verses 1-9. Verse 10 begins advice on the qualities of a proper wife. Please note that the oracle is delivered by King Lemuel but he ascribes the wisdom to his mother.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary says of verse 31:1-9 “When children are under the mother’s eye, she has an opportunity of fashioning their minds aright. Those who are grown up, should often call to mind the good teaching they received when children.

The first thing the King says is that the son should find a woman who fears the Lord. Fearing the Lord means a healthy reverence for Him mixed with gratitude and knowledge of our position before Him: justified sinner saved by grace.

Albert N. Martin wrote: “There was a time when even the unconverted would refer to a Christian as a “God fearing man.” With this theme so prominently and frequently mentioned throughout the Scripture—both Old and New Testaments—it is regrettable that in our day it can be rare for a sermon to be preached on this most important topic, let alone an entire series.

The God-fearing women, too.

Then we read in Proverbs 31:10-11 her worth. Verse 12 picks up with what she does that earned her such laudatory language:

She deals bountifully with him for good and not evil All the days of her life.

‘Him’ means the husband. This begins the umbrella for the actions the wife takes on behalf of her husband and family. What is the “good” she does him? Proverbs goes on with specific examples of the “good” she does the husband. Gill’s Exposition explains:

she will seek his interest, and promote his honour and glory to the uttermost; all the good works she does, which she is qualified for, and ready to perform, are all done in his name and strength, and with a view to his glory; nor will she do any evil willingly and knowingly against him

The Proverbs 31 wife focuses on the husband’s good to the extent that she even sacrifices her self. (Ephesians 5:24). Women today say, “but, but what about her identity!?” Our identity is in Christ, the husband’s is too. (Romans 21:1, Luke 9:23). His identity is so submissive to Christ he would be ready to give himself up for his wife. (Ephesians 5:25). The Bible calls upon all of us to self-sacrifice for Christ. We all do so, just in different ways. It is difficult to focus on your husband’s well-being to the extent shown in verse 12 if you also have an outside job.

DISCLAIMER: I am not saying it’s sin for a wife/mom to hold an outside job. It is not. Many circumstances dictate a family’s personal decision for a Christian wife to work outside the home. I AM saying that if at all possible (and all things are possible with God) that the Bible says that wife, especially when she has kids, should strive to make it her priority to be at home with the kids and to serve the household as her primary orientation. Like a compass needle pointing north as the default.

EPrata photo

Now, the chapter goes into details of the wife’s daily tasks. Verse 13 says:

“She searches for wool and flax And works with her hands in delight.”

While our tasks may be different today than in Bible days, for example we don’t spin wool to make clothes, but we do drive to the store with the kids in tow so they can get new pants. Below is a description of how a Proverbs woman spun wool.

In spinning, the distaff is held tightly against the woman’s body by her left arm. So constant an occupation is spinning, that many women have loops sewed to the left side of their dresses to provide additional support for the handle of the distaff. Wool is spun in a variety of thicknesses, the left hand pulling the desired amount of fibers from the mass of wool and the right hand spinning the spindle in a clockwise direction.

In other words, her hands were always busy. Verse 14b says,

She brings her food from afar

This means rather than settling for the easier option and convenience of a more expensive foodstuffs nearby, she will expend energy to go afar to get a better price or quality.

And she rises while it is still night, And gives food to her household And a portion to her young women.

Women have said to me that here, since the Proverbs 31 wife has servants, that gives her time to have a career. Well, first of all it was a royal household. Second, it was common for households of any size or status to have servants. Modern women who make this claim forget that we ALL have servants. Our lives are easier than the Prov 31 wife. Her backbreaking work of washing laundry (no running water, gather the water, gather the wood, light a fire, boil water, stick your hands in boiling water and scrub on washboard…) is representative of just one task. We have servants in the form of cars, washing machines, microwaves, vacuum cleaners, dry cleaners, etc. Having maidservants does not mean she had time for a career. Despite having maidservants, this wife still gets up early and works for the household.

She makes plans for a field and buys it; From the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

As we saw in the verse above about bringing her food from afar, the Proverbs 31 wife is careful with money. She wants to contribute financially to the household without it impacting the household. We know this because “she looks well to the ways of her household” verse 27. She appears to have a skill in agriculture she’s decided to employ. She doesn’t buy the first field she sees, but makes a plan. She’s prudent.

We know she gets up early but we see next she works late into the night. ‘Her lamp does not go out’ (verse 18) is not meant literally. No one can work 24 hours straight, but it’s figurative to show she is industrious in doing for her household and the people in it. This wife has worked hard to ensure warm clothing for the cold season,

She makes linen garments and sells them, And gives belts to the tradesmen.

Linen was difficult to make and expensive. That she has extra to sell shows her diligent productivity. Like, do you have an Etsy shop? Same. But she is also generous, giving to the poor.

The Proverb concludes:

She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and bless her;
As for her husband, he also praises her, saying:
“Many daughters have done excellently,
But you have gone above them all.”
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears Yahweh, she shall be praised.
Give to her from the fruit of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.

An honest reading does not allow room for the wife described in this proverb to have two careers, one as a professional woman somewhere in the economy, and another at home. An honest reading would show the reader that the Proverbs 31 wife works at home, near the home, for the home. Her excursions to the marketplace are to buy food, get flax, or to sell her wares. She has a vineyard, many of you ladies have a garden, do canning, or preserving. Some of you give away some extra at church, being generous, or even sell a bit extra on Facebook marketplace.

This activity is vastly different from the “CEO ministry” wives and moms of today running their own non-profit corporation working 40-50 hours a week outside the home, according to their statements on tax records.


In Praise of the Virtuous Woman
“This poem is an acrostic. Although the object of praise is the virtuous woman, the original audience of the piece was again the young man. The opening question in 31:10 implies that the reader ought to find such a wife for himself. The woman is trustworthy (31:11), industrious (31:13–19), intelligent (31:16, 18), and kind (31:20). She adds dignity to the family (31:23, 25) and has much foresight and prudence (31:21, 26). For all this she is much loved in her family and is the real center of the home (31:27–29). Above all she fears God (31:30).”

The final verse speaks eloquently against the tendency to regard her role as of inferior significance.” Holman Bible Handbook (pp. 358–359).

Being a wife, serving one’s husband, if God so gifts a woman, is God’s work. Being a mom and staying home to raise them, should God bless a wife, is God’s work. It’s not less-than. It might feel menial, and it is sometimes, but that doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. The Proverbs woman DID have a career: wife and mom.

Further Reading

Posted in theology

Is it true that if I lived in Ancient Times I’d be able to focus better…?

By Elizabeth Prata

I mentioned a week ago that the claims of “these days” being especially busy, or stressful and clamorous may be true, but are not particular to only our day. Sure, our landscapes are littered with billboards, telephone poles, wind turbines; our ears are stuffed with podcasts, movies, music, video games, and TikToks. Sure, our laptops crawl with multiple screens, tabs, and images. It may be nice to dream of former days when what we saw was only bucolic, serene, and everything looked like a Constable landscape.

John Constable: The Vale of Dedham

But it never really WAS that way. Yes, many areas were landscape perfect before the Industrial Revolution. The farmer’s day was still busy and filled with temptations and distractions, just different ones than we are used to. In ancient days as well, there were huge cities, pollution, ghettoes, population stress, and noise. There were distractions. Since satan has been in the world there have always been distractions to keep us from wasting our time and being productive for the Lord.

Productivity for the Christian is important, because we only have so many days and so much time to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) before we depart for glory. But it’s important to realize that we are human, the generations prior to ours were human, and we have always lived among days of toil, thorns, and many clever satan-inspired ways to keep us off-balance, off-track, and off our walk.

We have new ways to distract us from Bible reading. These days surely have presented us with enticing diversions. But so it has always been. We are no different. Why? because we have always been sinners. Our flesh has always wanted something different than Jesus. Even as Christians we have to work to pursue Him by subduing the flesh. Yet satan always puts in front of our nose ways to keep us from it. How many scenes in TV and movies have you watched with a robber enticing the guard dogs with a piece of tasty meat (laced with doggie sleeping potion)? Many. The dogs are sidetracked, they eat the treat, and soon become somnolent and docile. That’s us.

Would it pique your interest to know that in Paul’s day when he wrote to the Romans, Rome was a crowded, thriving city of a million inhabitants? Pliny the Younger lived from 61 to ~113 AD, or during Paul and John’s time when the church was in nascent growth. He lived and worked in Rome as a lawyer, author, and magistrate. He complained of the many distractions that prevented him from accomplishing all he needed to do. He wasn’t complaining as a Christian, just observing he was a busy man unable to withstand the many temptations to do anything else but what one is supposed to be doing. He writes, ‘sure, I’ll go here, I’ll do this, I’ll indulge…until I realize I’ve wasted time on trivialities’.

Sheehan Quirke is The Cultural Tutor who sends out a newsletter each Friday. In this week’s letter, Quirke informed his readers of Pliny’s complaint:

Wasted Days by Sheehan Quirke, the Cultural Tutor

Quirke said: Do you ever feel like you don’t have enough time to write? Do you end up getting distracted (by emails, gossip, social media, unimportant business) and feeling like you’ve wasted a day instead of doing something much more meaningful?

If you understand this feeling then it may be some comfort to know that it isn’t new. Here is a remarkably relatable letter written by Pliny the Younger, a Roman lawyer, to his friend in about 100 AD. It turns out that the problems of modern life aren’t always so modern as we think.

(Pliny’s letter) To Minicius Fundanus,​

It is extraordinary how, if one takes a single day spent in Rome, one can give a more or less accurate account of it, but scarcely any account at all of several days put together. If you ask anyone what he did that day, the answer would be: ‘I was present at a coming-of-age ceremony, a betrothal, or a wedding. I was called on to witness a will, to support someone in court or to act as an assessor.’ All this seems important on the actual day, but quite pointless if you consider that you have done the same sort of thing every day, and still more pointless if you think about it when you are out of town. It is then that you realise how many days you have wasted in trivialities.

I always realise this when I am at Laurentum, reading and writing and finding time to take the exercise which keeps my mind fit for work. There is nothing there for me to say or hear which I would afterwards regret, no one disturbs me with malicious gossip, and I have no one to blame – except myself – when writing doesn’t come easily. Hopes and fears do not worry me, and my time is not wasted in idle talk; I share my thoughts with no one but my books. It is a good life and a genuine one, a seclusion which is happy and honourable, more rewarding than any “business” can ever be. The sea and shore are my private Helicon, an endless source of inspiration. You should take the first opportunity yourself to leave the din, the futile bustle and useless occupations of the city and devote yourself to literature or leisure. For it was wise as well as witty of our friend Atilius to say that it is better to have no occupation than be occupied with nothing. –end Pliny’s letter

Quirke said, “Although the legacy of the ancient world is largely one of great poetry and literature, art and statuary and philosophy, none of them can quite bring Antiquity to life like their letters. Those of Pliny the Younger are a treasure of deeply personal reflections on life in Ancient Rome. And, reading them, we find that our ancestors weren’t so different to us.”

Yes, it might be nice as Pliny said to retreat to your castle by the sea and write, and granted there are fewer distractions there. But there will be distractions. Watching birds, or finding a sudden need to re-brick the east wall, or to consult with the cook about the menu or to build that fountain you’ve been meaning to…distractions to pull the believer off the path always existed and satan is crafty and subtle about it.

As Pliny wrote, “All this seems important on the actual day” but when you look back over 15 days or 30 days or 6 months and realize you still haven’t finished the Bible reading or haven’t prayed as much as you’ve wanted or haven’t reached out to struggling friend…you then realize all the other stuff added up to something quite pointless.

Christian Productivity expert Reagan Rose said succinctly: “I don’t have enough time!” That’s a lie. You have precisely enough time to do what God has called you to do. The problem is all the other stuff you’re doing instead.”

Whether we live in 2023, 33, or 3003BC, there were and are always distractions in which the believer to indulge. The former times were not any better or different than they are now. The difference in our lives (if you’re a true believer) is Christ, and His Spirit in us. Rely on Him, subdue the flesh, focus, and get to work!

We THINK we’re so busy, we are never too busy to do the things that count- working for Christ’s glory.
Photo by Karen Lau on Unsplash
Posted in theology

How Jesus Builds His Church

By Elizabeth Prata

The Grow in Grace Newsletter is written and emailed by Pastor James Bell of Southside Baptist Church in Gallatin TN. Pastor Bell has been leading this congregation in Tennessee for 48 years. He is a faithful shepherd! There are many like Pastor Bell. Do not lose heart when this one or that one falls, or revealed himself to be an apostate. The Lord has many who lead faithfully in all corners oft he world.

I find the Grow in Grace Newsletter to be edifying, so occasionally I post it for your perusal also.

James Bell wrote:

Please use the Grow in Grace Newsletter for your own spiritual growth; and as a resource to help equip you to minister to others! Volume 48, No. 4, January 24, 2023 / Southside Baptist Church / P.O. Box 1594 / 1028 South Water Avenue, Gallatin, TN 37066 (615) 452-5951 / The Grow in Grace Newsletter is a weekly Bible Study, plus local church news notes— designed first and foremost for members and those attending services at Southside Church; and is sent forth with the desire to aid one and all, (including friends far and wide), in the experience of 2 Peter 3:18. “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our LORD JESUS CHRIST

Jesus reminds us: “… I will build MY church; and the gates of hell [Hades: the powers of death] shall not prevail against it….” (Matthew 16:17-18) As Jesus builds His church— each saved/born again person is a part of the fellowship of the redeemed: “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (I Corinthians 1:9)

Moreover, this fellowship is not just me and Jesus; but it is — Jesus, me, and the local assembly of believers to which the Holy Spirit has joined me! (1 Corinthians 12:12-24) [Yes, we are in fellowship with ALL who are in Christ, all around the world— but we are in very specific fellowship with a local community of saints!]

We must understand: The entire New Testament period was not filled with churches to whom the Lord was adding new converts every day, as was the case in Acts 2!

For during the New Testament era and even to our day,

  1. The preaching/teaching of Jesus and the Apostles drove and still drives many away! (John 6:66-71; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 4:1-5)
  2. Just as Jesus warned in Mark 4:14-18— the work of satan, the reality of persecution, the cares of this life, and/or the love of money— these all REVEAL the lack of true conversion in many and so they fall away.
  3. The Apostle John reported that there were many anti-Christs; and that they left the true congregations because they were false converts from the start! (1 John 2:15-19)

EVEN SO, none of the New Testament churches lamented, “Attendance was down last Sunday, we need a high attendance promotion!” AND: When the strong teaching of Jesus, (John 6:32-65), caused many who had been following Jesus to leave —

Jesus did not panic or tell the few who stayed, “O gee, we had better do some creative planning and develop a plan to appeal to the likes of the masses! … Maybe I need to up the amount of dramatic miracles!”

MOREOVER, there is no evidence that they took a ‘poll’ to find out what the lost like so as to adapt church to the lost. They had no sports, no comedians, no entertainment, no advertising budget to be spent on endeavors designed to attract pagans— or to hold on to and bring back the carnal multitudes who previously attended!

GENUINE New Testament Christianity is radically different! The Holy Spirit via the New Testament repeatedly calls upon believers,

(1) To not blaspheme the gospel by bad living!

(2) To adorn the gospel by Christ-like living!

(3) To live lives of loving one another!

(4) In addition, Jesus, in Revelation 2-3, reveals that which He commends, that which He commands; and that which He rejects if a church is to be truly effective.

The Acts of the Apostles overflows with wonderful teaching and examples as to the methods of Jesus in building an effective church ministry!


(1) Persecution of the church led to a church-wide prayer meeting with the results being a fresh advance of the kingdom of God—

See Acts 4:23-33!

(2) Sin by church members led to severe chastening [SUDDEN DEATH!] with the end result being another fresh advance of the kingdom of God—

Acts 5:1-14!

(3) Neglect of some church members and murmuring in the church led to the appointment of special servants to minister to the Greek widows with the ultimate result being yet another fresh advance of the kingdom of God—

Acts 6:1-7!

(4) Bold preaching brought martyrdom and persecution which yielded yet another fresh advance of the kingdom of God—

Acts 7:1-60; 8:1-4!

SO, WHEN JESUS SAYS, “I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH!”… He often does it through surprising ways and circumstances…. At times even bringing good things out of bad things!

In a New Testament Church, all believers have to do is to stick to the business of holy Christian living and boldly proclaiming the gospel to the world. GOD will add to the church as He pleases! (Acts 2:42-47; 1 Cor. 3:6-11).

—end Pastor Bell newsletter Grow in Grace.

The verse in Acts just after Ananias and Sapphira were killed always strikes me. Acts 5:12-14,

Now at the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were happening among the people, and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Portico. But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people were holding them in high esteem. And more than ever believers in the Lord were added to their number, multitudes of men and women,

Barnes’ Notes says of that set of verses,

“The effect of all these things was to increase the number of converts. Their persecutions, their preaching, and the judgment of God, “all” tended to impress the minds of the people, and to lead them to the Lord Jesus Christ. Compare Acts 4:4. Though the judgment of God had the effect of deterring hypocrites from entering the church – though it produced awe and caution, yet still the number of true converts was increased. An effort to keep the church pure by wholesome discipline, and by cutting off unworthy members, however rich or honored, so far from weakening its true strength, has a tendency greatly to increase its numbers as well as its purity.” 

It is still true today, as John MacArthur says, “Soft preaching makes hard hearts, but hard preaching makes soft hearts.”

People are hungry for the word of God, for answers to questions that bother them so, and for a community that is loving, as pure as possible, and Jesus-oriented. It has always been that way and it will always be. If a church decides to use other methods than the ones outlines in the Bible and reminded of to the reader above, then you will have a church filled with hypocrites, false believers, and clowns seeking entertainment and petting of their sin.

Romans 12:2
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may approve what the will of God is, that which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Posted in theology

The issue with Parachurch Organizations – Especially Ones Founded by Women, part 3

By Elizabeth Prata

Part 1

Part 2

Today is part three of a look at parachurch organizations, and a review of the second of two of them. In part 1 I looked at what parachurch ministries are and why so many go off the rails. In part 2 I looked at a particular parachurch organization, called The Yada Factor. Today in part 3 I look at Transforming Center. I was asked about Yada and Transforming Center by readers and I’m glad to answer their question in these reviews. Tomorrow I’ll conclude with some thoughts in general about parachurch organizations

With the parachurch ministry I review today, I give a thumbs down. Not recommended.

Something you’ll notice with many ministry corporations, is that they promise overblown things to its customers. Christine Caine’s A21 organization is seeking to eradicate sex trafficking in the 21st century. While it is good to minister to women and children who have been abused in this way, please note that sexual immorality has been with us since Genesis 4 when Lamech took 2 wives. Christine Caine is not going to abolish it. Such abolitions will not occur until Jesus returns and rights all wrongs then makes all things new.

Grandiose promises

I include the section here on grandiose promises because such statements reveal much about a founder’s view of her position before Christ. Manyof these parachurch ministries by women make huge claims and promises as their foundational mottoes. For example, with Jennie Allen’s If:Gathering we see that

“We exist to gather, equip & unleash the next generation of women to live out their purpose.” That is a surprising statement, because Apostle Paul didn’t even do that.

Christine Caine has made a wonderful statement if true:
“A21 is abolishing slavery everywhere, forever. Together, we are eradicating human trafficking through awareness, intervention, and aftercare.”

But sadly, eradicating sex trafficking would mean that sexual sin no longer existed, and that will only happen when Jesus returns. Her claim is overblown.

Jamie Ivey is her own brand now, and says “Ivey Media, LLC is a media company committed to creating content that encourages. We believe stories change the world, and we work hard to share stories with listeners, viewers, and readers.”

She is big on personal stories, and it is fine to share your own story, but it isn’t stories that “change the world”. It isn’t personal anecdotes. The world is the world. God is allowing sin to corrupt it, satan is the temporary god of it (2 Corinthians 4:4) and will be until Jesus comes to remake the world. Until then, Jesus changes hearts and souls. We don’t change the world.

Disciple a generation…eradicate sex trafficking…change the world.

Now, we see magnificent promises from the Transforming Center (TC).

We exist to create space for God to strengthen leaders and transform communities. (Source)

Humans ‘creating space for God’ is not only mystically nonsensical, it is unbiblical. God goes where He wants.

We serve leaders of purposeful communities – churches, non-profits, and businesses – who long for new rhythms that allow them to flourish in their life and leadership. (Source, same as above)

Watch out for organizations that promise something “new”. Jesus is still building the church and it is the same church with the same mission He announced to Peter in Matthew 16:18 and everywhere else in the Epistles and Acts. He is the same Jesus. The church of Jesus is old and it is the same as it was, or should be.

Man’s chief aim is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever. That is why we exist. The biblical ecclesiology was delivered once for all to the saints, and if someone claims to be creating something new in the way to approach our walk with Jesus, it is an overblown claim which will draw you away from the biblical church.

Ecumenical approach

Grounded in a highly ecumenical approach, we reflect and welcome the diversity that is present in the body of Christ. Our gatherings include leaders from all denominations, a variety of businesses and many organizations

Watch out for ecumenical organizations that refuse to honor doctrinal distinctions. Doctrine divides, because it should. Any organization that accepts everything stands for nothing. The founder of Transforming Center Ruth Haley Barton has a degree from Loyola, a Jesuit Catholic University and shares her delight in discovering the Catholic Liturgical year and joined the “modern liturgical movement“. You are getting a muddy doctrinal soup with the TC.

Yet the Bible has many verses warning believers not to teach or absorb doctrines that are not in His word. Doctrine matters.


The resources promoted and used by Transforming Center are mystical in nature. Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, Phyllis Tickle, Catholic mystic Joachim of Fiore. Not to mention books promoted by the Center that are authored by false teachers like Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, a “skilled practitioner of the Enneagram”, James Cone, whom Darrell Harrison and Virgil Walker of the Just Thinking podcast call the ‘antichrist of black liberation theology’, and other Catholic/Orthodox devotionals and material.

God opposes mysticism. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8)


Many of the women involved with The Transforming Center are ordained pastors, have operated in leading ecclesial positions, or have doctorates in pastoral ministry. Founder Ruth Haley Barton “has served on the pastoral staff of several churches.”

Board of Directors member Vicki Degner “For many years she served as Pastor of Formational Life at Church of the Open Door.” Another Board member simply calls herself “Rev. Dr. Phaedra D. Blocker,” an ordained minister “who has as served as an associate pastor for a congregation of over 10,000 members, and as an assistant pastor of a small faith community.” She is also affiliated with “Daughters of Thunder, a collaborative effort that supports, nurtures, and empowers female clergy of color.”

Staff member Tina L. Harris “is ordained in the United Methodist Church.”

Yet Jesus said women may not teach or hold authority in church over men, but are to remain quiet. (1 Timothy 2:12)

Spiritual Formation

The TC is heavy on spiritual formation. Their aim is to rejuvenate pastors and leaders who want to see their congregations grow. However, spiritual formation is not the way to do it. I understand pastors and leaders occasionally need a rest and a retreat, this is wise. However to retreat to an ecumenical center run by rebellious women is not the way.

Founder Barton quotes Richard Foster from his Renovare journal. Here is GotQuestions with more infomation on Spritual formation a la Renovare.

And more info on spiritual formation itself: What is the spiritual formation movement?

Remember, Founder Barton earned her degree from a Jesuit Catholic University. Are Roman Catholics Christian?

Is ecumenism good or bad? Answer: Together Against Ecumenism


If you are a pastor looking to rejuvenate, there are more solid retreats to help you do this. The Transforming Center is not recommended.

I hope if you review part 1, 2, and this part about parachurch organizations, you can see that while many of them do well honoring Christ’s name, do good works in the world for His name, many of them that are founded by women are simply steam valves offering an ambitious or rebellious women a place to usurp, feed her flesh, or promote false doctrine. Be careful when following one or participating a parachurch ministry founded by women. Look beyond their “About” claims in order to determine if this is actually outsourcing your own discipling of women in your local church and compromising your own learning.

Further Reading

Nine Marks of a Healthy Parachurch Ministry

Posted in theology

The issue with Parachurch organizations – especially ones founded by women part 2: Yada Factor

By Elizabeth Prata

Part 1

Part 3

The issue with Parachurch organizations – especially ones founded by women part 1

Yesterday I discussed some of the pros and the many cons of “Parachurch Organizations,” also known as Christian ministries. These are Christian organizations founded for a purpose- some with a social justice emphasis such as Christine Caine’s A21 which aims to to end sex trafficking, or disaster relief like Samaritan’s Purse.

Others are founded by women in order to inspire women to discipling and fellowship, and it is these which most often go off the rails. One of the issues with parachurch organizations is often its lack of accountability, said Carl Trueman in a 9Marks essay. When a parachurch organization, or ‘ministry,’ is founded by women, led by women, teaches discipling, focusing on emotions, well, you have a cauldron of elements ripe to bear bad fruit. IF:Gathering is one example, Living Proof Ministries is another.

Another issue I have with parachurch organizations is that they often end up competing with churches instead of supporting local churches. Walk to Emmaus is an example of this. Some even end up supplanting the local church, where women feel if they’ve done a course or joined a group, that ‘counts’ for church.

Today’s review is one of these parachurch ministries founded by women, focusing on discipling, and is off the rails. I was asked to look into The Yada Factor and The Transforming Center. Today let’s take a look at The Yada Factor. Tomorrow I’ll look at The Transforming Center


The very first thing a woman is confronted with when going to The Yada Factor’s website is this statement:

Yada is a Hebrew word that the ministry founder says it means ‘to be known by God’ in case you’re wondering about this organization’s title.

Yada introduction video below for your perusal. What usually follows a claim of teaching you to ‘hear God’s voice’ is an emphasis on how noisy this world is, so you are missing out in hearing it. I’d like to point out here that the world has always been noisy and stressful. In 25 BC the city of Rome had a population of 1 million.

This is the ancient Rome Paul wrote to the church. Now imagine these CGI streets thronged with people. Noisy. Stressful. So, they missed out on hearing God’s voice also? No. Source

It is no more so now than it ever was. It is a fallacy to think that God cannot cut through the ‘noise’ and the ‘stress’ to make Himself heard. Saul was busy going all over Asia Minor killing Christians, but God simply spoke and His voice tossed him to the ground. Moses was going about his business when he saw a burning bush and a voice emerged from it. Amos was in the fields busy herding when God called. Jonah didn’t even want to hear the voice of God but God got through to him.

Don’t fall for the error being taught today that we are so busy and stressed we will miss God’s voice- but THIS ministry or THAT organization has the secret key to hearing it. He spoke worlds into existence. He can make himself known, IF prophetic speaking was even going on today- which it isn’t. He spoke and He is now quiet, because:

God, having spoken long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,2 in these last days spoke to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds, (Hebrews 1:1-2).

So immediately your discernment radar should be alerted to anyone saying they hear the ‘voice of God’ or will teach you to cut through the clutter in order to hear the ‘voice of God’.

From 2021 Tax return we read that Yada Factor: “Despite the hardships of 2020 we see how God prepared YadaFactor to help people find intimacy with Him from the comfort of their homes. Using YFE, The YadaFactor Experience, an on-line course designed to help people hear God’s voice personally through Scripture and share in community.

No. You will not hear God’s voice personally.

The YadaFactor experience (“Experience”, another buzz word. Christianity is not an “experience” to be had but a God-glorifying life to live via an identity God gave us) is rife with promises that God is just waiting in the wings to speak to you directly and personally, if you just adhere to the 7-week course then try real hard to listen for God’s promptings and intimate revelation to you as you write your own thoughts down in a notebook.

I would sit by the fire, open the Bible to wherever my fingers took me, ask the Lord to speak and I would write. I journaled like a crazy woman with many tear soaked papers. ~Founder Deb Csutoros

Since God is not speaking now because the canon is closed, the Yada student will inevitably feel disappointment. God is not speaking. The student will wonder and wonder why this isn’t working. She will wonder if the impression or prompting she thinks she received is really from God or not. Only disappointment and confusion will result from seeking intimacy with God by waiting to hear His voice, even if the course is allegedly ‘based on the Bible’. It’s based on unbiblical premises, a one size fits all template, and run by women whose foundational motto is psychologically based and emotionally driven.

Now, the Yada factor experience promotes some good things. They want you to seek a closer relationship with God, to pray diligently, to read your Bible, and to share your biblical insights gained with sisters in Christ. All these are good things. It’s how a “ministry” like this hooks you.

Instead of a shepherd’s hook, many of these ministries offer a fishing hook disguised as a shepherd’s hook. Shepherds bring you into the fold. Ministries with false promises only hook you to lure you away.

It is the church where you seek fellowship, deeper knowledge of God, and discipling.

It’s all about me, my wounds, my trauma, my emotional well-being

What happened was, the three women who founded it were meeting and discussing their struggles in an environment where they ‘felt safe’, didn’t try to correct one another, and felt free to be genuine about their doubts and fears. This is a good thing, as they shared what they had been learning from their daily Bible study. But the bad thing is, we are supposed to do that within the local church. If you feel you can’t be genuine with one another in your own church, such as to share insights, confess sins or struggles, knit together in a bond of the Word of God, then what is your church about? And if you feel comfortable with friends outside of church and meet to discuss things in an emotionally secure atmosphere, that’s great, but why start a whole ministry to draw others away from their own church?

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. (James 5:16)

being devoted to one another in brotherly love, giving preference to one another in honor, (Romans 12:10).

We are supposed to be ‘one anothering’ within our own church, not meeting random women through a flat screen on Skype.

Looking into the credentials of the women who co-founded Yada Factor, we see one of them earned a

Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology in 2016. She has been counseling in private practice since 2009 and she integrates the tools from this ministry into the counseling process to encourage clients to hear God’s voice and lead them from pain to healing. Her dissertation sought to learn how to create post traumatic growth with those whose religious beliefs collided with their trauma where many question God and need to find resolve and healing. The outcome of her study has helped her to offer a model of processing…

That ‘model’ seems to have been a 12-step program. We read in the Yada Factor’s material:

Pegi’s 15 years of experience as an Al-Anon member has greatly influenced the forming of YadaFactor…

What started as a Christian twelve step Bible study eventually transformed into an intimate fellowship based entirely on God’s Word.

What is a 12-step program?

The basic premise of the 12-Step model is that people can help one another achieve and maintain abstinence from the substances or behaviors to which they are addicted, says

“Scripture does what psychoanalysis can’t do — it pierces the heart, penetrates deep into the soul and judges the motives. To see yourself in the light of Scripture, is to see yourself as you really are.” ~John MacArthur

I applaud anyone who has earned a doctorate, but I’d love to know about how the founder’s ‘model of processing’ helps people overcome years of sorrow and pain after experiencing trauma. I’d love to know how her degree in clinical psychology intersects with her Christianity and whether she believes in the sufficiency of the Bible as a healer for ills. Too often clinical psychologists dispense Christian advice though a secular worldview. We already know that she does not believe totally in the sufficiency of the word, since the ‘Experience’ relies on teaching personal revelation from God. Their thrust seems to be focused on the individual and her healing, rather than getting to know our Great God through His word.

I can summarize it this way: ‘Learn how to hear God’s voice, SO THAT you can use Him to focus on yourself and your need for emotional healing from trauma.’ Their emphasis seems to be on using God to help you get beyond trauma, rather than learning more about who God is.

In this way, God becomes a vehicle, rather than the Alpha & Omega.

Ladies, you don’t need a 12-step phycological model overlaid onto the Bible to help you with your doubts, fears, addictions, emotions about God. You need God and you need each other in church.

And the emphasis on emotional wounds is very present while the words sin, sin nature, and repentance are absent from the material I read. Thus it is very man-centered even though there are promises the Yada Factor student will get to know God better. If the focus is on your own trauma, the only person you will get to know better is yourself. And who hasn’t been traumatized by life? Some more than others to be sure, but we live in a sin-soaked world run temporarily by satanic powers. We ALL need to look up, not within.

Where are you, ladies?

My usual concern with women-founded and women-led ministries is that these women aren’t at home, and it’s a problem because if they are rebelling against scripture in that, what else are they rebelling about?

All three ladies of The Yada Factor are long-term married women with grown children. Great. But they should be focused on the home, children (even though grown) grandchildren, and husbands. Their bios show that Yada Factor is not the first corporation they led, each of them have been very busy outside the home in careers they labeled ‘Christian ministry’.

In fact, Deb Csutoros worked for ten years while her children were small, “as Founder and Director of a faith-based nonprofit helping teenage girls recover from sex trafficking.” She got so overwhelmed and tired, she eventually resigned, rested, only to pop up and start another parachurch organization in Yada when she felt better. (source)

  • Cindy Chamberland, founder. Licensed professional counselor bio: you should read it.
  • Debbie Csutoros, founder blog essay. You should read it.
  • Pegi Richardson, founder: specialty- spiritual formation. Pegi belongs to a church (yay!) but the church identifies the wife of the main pastor as part of the leadership team (no). “…is part of the leadership team of Boca Raton Community Church, serving alongside her husband, Pastor Bill

My Reactions to Yada factor: Conclusion

  • First, they are a parachurch organization, something which often just ends up competing with the local church. It’s your pastors and elder women and friends in the church who are supposed to do what these women say they do- pray with you, develop trust, ‘do life’ together, etc. Your CHURCH, not some coaching ladies trained in a faraway place. You can’t “farm out” Titus 2.
  • Second, it’s pointless to create a template for pursuing holiness. Sanctification is not not a template one size fits all, 12 steps, do this. A woman who has learned how to be a coach through Yada teaching you AND a bunch of other women from different churches, denominations, life experiences all at once is not the way. Get to know your local women in your church. Gather with them. Create memories, share experiences, teach each other by living example. Gather corporately, pray with each other, sing, and read the word and good Christian books together. A Yada coach is a clinical template that the Bible has no example for.
  • You have no idea what church the flat-screen, Yada coach guiding you belongs to, if they belong to one at all. You don’t know their doctrine.
  • Thirdly, their mission and vision is off: OUR VISION: Everyone knows and hears God. OUR MISSION: Helping people know it is possible to hear God personally through reading, writing, and sharing scripture. No. God is NOT speaking these days.

My advice is to make a commitment to the ladies of your OWN church. You begin the modeling of a woman who bravely shares real things- your sins, your struggles, your fears, if such groups are not present already. Listen to other women, really listen. Model one anothering by coming alongside in prayer, in love, and in dedication to sharing the glories of Christ from what your own pastor has taught you. Stay away from ministries alleging to bring you intimacy with God through a clinically trained coach’s flat screen teaching you to search for a non-existent voice that will not speak.

Further Reading

Gender roles: What about parachurch ministries?

What is the spiritual formation movement?

How parachurch ministries go off the rails

What Should You Do With Your Diagnosis? Responding Biblically to Mental Disorder Labels

Posted in theology

The issue with Parachurch organizations – especially ones founded by women

By Elizabeth Prata

Part 2

Part 3

A parachurch organization is a Christian ministry that operates outside the local church’s governance and funding. Some work closely with a church, others are loosely connected, and still others seem to be separate from any oversight from a local church.

While laudatory in many cases, some of these organizations increasingly draw women away from their home church, infuse them with false doctrine, and re-seed them back to their church to infect it.

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Examples of parachurch ministries

GotQuestions defines a parachurch ministry this way: “The definition of a Christian parachurch ministry is “a Christian faith-based organization which carries out its mission usually independent of church oversight.”

Some different types of para-church ministries are, those involved in evangelism (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Child Evangelism Fellowship), discipleship, (The Navigators, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship), Bible dissemination (Gideons International), disaster relief (Samaritan’s Purse), medical helps, domestic violence shelters, and so on. Christian book publishers and Bible translators are also considered a para-church organization. RC Sproul’s is a parachurch organization designed to have a primary focus on the theological education of laypeople.

The Church is where it’s at

The positive with some para-church organizations such as radio ministries, Bible dissemination, or missions organizations are that the Gospel can be introduced in closed countries or places devoid of a church. The downside to a parachurch organization is that many of them lack oversight. Some discipleship parachurch organizations even become a substitute for church.

Yet, Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:14 of the church that it’s “the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.”

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The local church is to teach-

The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful people who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2).

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, and to teaching(1 Timothy 4:13)

Parachurch organizations did not exist during the time of the first century church, so the Bible doesn’t mention them. Acts 2:42 outlines principles of the purpose of the church: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

The church is the pillar, and Jesus is the cornerstone of it. Our entire focus should be life lived in and around our home church.

It goes without saying that believers should be a member of a church, submitted to elders and faithfully attending. There is no such thing as a Lone Ranger Christian. Each of us has a spiritual gift given to us by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of edifying each other within our local body of believers. Staying outside the confines of church life is a denial of the gift and makes a hole in the global tapestry Jesus is weaving. Not to mention failing to participate in the ordinances: the Lord’s Supper and Baptism.

Our focus for our believing lives on earth should be the local church. If your church has raised up men to lead Bible studies, great, or women who disciple as per Titus 2, super. If you have classes or structures in place teaching for children and youth, that’s wonderful.

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Ladies, watch out

Sadly, some women look elsewhere than their own church for fellowship, prayer, or Bible study. They gravitate toward parachurch organizations. Some do so simply because they were invited by a friend, and being curious and with servant attitude, follow her friend to the organization to try it out. Those are the organizations to which I take exception to, the ones rife with false doctrine and slyly begin to substitute for the local church. Upon first reading of these parachurch organizations, they sound good. Their aims and goals sound solid. Healing, discipleship, fellowship, what is wrong with that?

Nothing…until you look deeper and you realize healing, discipleship, and fellowship are a church function. And then you look further that these organizations are founded on something other than the word of God. Many of them are based on experiences, half-biblical truths, or ecumenicalism of the worst degree, where false religions’ doctrines are introduced.

Jesus promised to build His church- Matthew 16:18. The weekly global gathering of true believers would find expression in local congregations, where Jesus promises to build them up. It is in these congregations, if they adhere to a biblical ecclesiology, that men would be teaching and leading.

Ambitious or dissatisfied women who want to teach and lead in ways the Bible does not prescribe, find that their unbiblical ambition is able to be satisfied by founding an organization outside the church. These ministries, by definition, usually have no connection to or spiritual association with a local church. Jesus did not promise to build a parachurch.

Yet many of these parachurch ministries founded and run by women seem to have women who have no connection to a local church. Many of their About pages don’t list that the women even belong to a church. Or if they do, and you look at their speaking schedules, you see that they miss most of the Sunday gatherings per year because they’re on the circuit. Or they are just very busy, well, running the parachurch organization to attend church, or even to minister to their own families.

Many parachurch CEOs don’t realize at the outset just how MUCH their ‘ministry’ will impact their family time, not to mention their church attendance. EPrata photo

Again, not all parachurch ministries are bad. Some are good. Answers in Genesis is an evangelical parachurch organization. So is Fellowship of Christian Athletes. These operate independently of a church. Grace to You is a parachurch organization directly connected to a church. This author writes,

While I do not desire to denigrate excellent Christian ministries that function outside of local church oversight (I was saved through a parachurch ministry, I went to one for college and seminary, and I currently work at one), it must be asserted, based on the Scripture we examined above, that these ministries, no matter how large or effective or well-managed, owe their very existence to the institution Christ established two-thousand years ago. Without the church, there would be no organization to stand beside it. (Source)

Yet the parachurch organizations that go wayward, as it says in the article below, can do damage for years.

J. Mack Stiles in this 2011 article said: “The standard cliché for parachurch is that it’s not the church, but an arm of the church. Yet historically, that arm has shown a tendency to develop a mind of its own and crawl away from the body, which creates a mess. Given the grand scope and size of many parachurch ministries, those which go wayward can propagate error for years: missionary organizations become gyms, heretical seminaries pump out heretical pastors, and service organizations produce long-term confusion between the gospel and social action.”

As some para-church ministry grow, they take on a life of its own, disown the local church, and crawl off, drawing the unwary with it. They end up competing with the church instead of supporting the church.

As this phenomenon has increased, para-church organizations have confused the global body about what the church does as these organizations take on more of the roles the Bible says what the church should be and do. Granted, many churches have abandoned their calling to evangelize, disciple, and serve the community, but it is not for parachurch organizations to pick up the slack. It is not for parachurch organizations to become a kind of church that supplants the called church. Many of these are founded for ‘discipling’ purposes, co-opting a role reserved for the church.

Worst of all, it is my contention that many of these parachurch organizations that are female founded, female led, as a result, are petrie dishes of false teaching, only to slither out of the dish and propagate itself like leaven into real churches.

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Carl Trueman on parachurch organizations, describing 2 ways they go off the rails. One way is rampant ecumenism. Here is the other way they go off the rails:

Parachurch Organizations Rarely if Ever Have Proper Structures of Accountability

The second reason parachurch groups go awry is that they rarely if ever have proper structures of accountability. The New Testament makes it clear that the appointed custodians of the faith are the elders, men specially selected because of their qualities of character, ability, and reputation, who have a special duty to safeguard the faith and practice of the church. Parachurch groups have no such biblically sanctioned structure, and many of them have not thought carefully about the framework of accountability needed to remain orthodox. Further, they tend to be run by the self-appointed, or by people with money, or by those with a can-do attitude. (Source)

Many of the worst of the worst are parachurch organizations founded by women and they are the worst because they hardly ever have an accountability structure. Indeed, these women CEOs should be sitting in their own church quietly learning (1 Timothy 2:11) and asking their husbands at home. (1 Corinthians 14:35).

Examples of women- founded parachurch organizations gone off the rails from the start

  • If:Gathering was founded by Jennie Allen on an alleged direct revelation by “a voice from the sky” her words, who started IF to discuss feelings about the Bible (not what the Word means, but how they feel about it).
  • Walk to Emmaus, a weekend retreat, was developed by women, it’s all about forcing an emotional reaction to the blowout personal experience at the end. Catholic doctrines are laced throughout the weekend teachings.
  • Proverbs 31 Ministries was started by Jennifer McHugh but expanded in 1995 when Lysa TerKeurst and Marybeth Whalen came on board. The women who are part of this organization partner with false teachers and preach to men.
  • Going Beyond was founded by Priscilla Shirer, for the purpose “not only to see all understand His written Word but for all to experience His Power!”
  • Raechel Myers founded She Reads Truth and “invites women of all ages to engage Scripture through curated daily reading plans, as well as online conversation led by a vibrant community of contributing writers.” It “started as a small group of strangers on the internet who wanted to be more intentional about reading God’s Word.” Fellowship and teaching through a flat screen? No thanks. The Bible knows none of that. Experiential parachurch ministries founded by women are sadly too common.
  • Living Proof Ministries, founded and led by Beth Moore, teaches false doctrine, has no accountability, and refuses doctrinal or lifestyle correction.

And now we have two more female founded and led parachurch ministries that have recently come to my attention and I was asked to review, “The Yada Factor” and Ruth Haley Barton and her Transforming Center. Tomorrow: The Yada Factor.

Posted in theology

100th day of school: One foot in front of the other

By Elizabeth Prata

The other day was the 100th day of the school year. The kids have 80 more to go, I have 90. We’re over the hump.

It’s amazing how fast time goes. I vividly remember school day 1, in August. Hot, sticky, kids scared, excited, uncertain. Three new classes were transferred to our school and with them, 7 new staff members to meet and get to know. The new year is fresh and full of promise and there were roads we could not see the end of.

even pennies add up eventually. Photo by Adam Rhodes on Unsplash

Our school has a big celebration, with kids and staff dressing up in 100th day gear, songs played on the intercom at intervals, and general atmosphere of fun.

I was explaining to the kindergarteners about what the 100th day means. I brought it down to their level, saying, “You’ve said the Pledge of Allegiance 100 times. You went into the lunch room 100 times. You got on the bus 100 times.” Their eyes open wide and they are amazed at the big number.

I got to thinking about what I do every day. I unlock the double doors at opening bell and greet each child coming in. I’ve done that 100 times, since I’ve not taken a sick day at all this year. I’ve turned on and off the lamps in my room 100 times. I’ve said the alphabet 100 times.

My job is good but many parts of it are either menial (like opening ketchup packs for kids at lunch), or are important but the yield is hidden and delayed. It’s not often I get a big AHA! from a student with the clouds of inexperience parting to beam light on a newly acquired skill. I just do what I do every day and hope to see results…someday.

As I mulled that it occurred to me just HOW cumulative education is. You can’t see a growth spurt all at once, but looking back, one can see growth. A definite progress. 100 days IS a milestone, and students who entered in August not knowing letters or sounds of the alphabet, are now reading. Those who didn’t know numbers are now adding. Those who never held a pencil are now writing. Wow.

It’s the same with sanctification. You read a Bible passage each day. You pray. You work at killing some sin you’re dealing with. You do this day by day. You don’t see growth. You don’t feel growth. But you ARE growing! It accumulates.

How can it not be? 100 times of anything is a lot. Aren’t we more sanctified after reading the Bible 100 times? Wouldn’t we be closer to God after 100 prayers? Wouldn’t that sin be smaller after killing it 100 times?

It’s also the same with kindness. No job is too menial, too insignificant, too overlooked to have an impact. It might not have a global impact, but it may have an impact on someone’s world. Like this. This man thanks his wife’s stylist for haircut- his wife suffered from dementia, and…well just read it. The stylist may have given 100 haircuts that day, but this one gave a woman her last, best day.

The letter was sent anonymously. Source

You might not see growth, but be assured, if you are striving, even walking, even occasionally stumbling as you walk, you are growing. It is inevitable. Fruit grows, it doesn’t languish. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. The Spirit in you nurtures growth, because such growth in His likeness glorifies Jesus.

Posted in theology

Potpourri: How to change your spouse, mental disorder labels, 5-minute chapter summaries, more!

By Elizabeth Prata

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I’m reading a commentary on Habakkuk. This prophet’s 3 chapters go like this:

LORD, why aren’t you doing anything about this?
I am, Habakkuk, see?
No, LORD, not THAT!
Habakkuk, but then, this.
Oh. You are Great! And I am not- but my faith is increased!

Our Lord is kind to be patient and merciful with us. We complain, we challenge, we ask, and when He answers as He did Habakkuk, Job, Daniel, Jonah, etc, it’s a glorious thing to ponder that He engages with His people – with the old Prophets directly and us today, through His word. Omniscient, all-powerful, His thoughts so far above our thoughts, yet He loves, cherishes, and involves His own people. He will hear your questions, too, in prayer if you ask. Beseech Him today, for everything, or nothing, just to tell Him you love Him.

Here is a roundup of links you might enjoy:

How to Change Your Spouse in One Simple Step It’s easier than you think.

A short encouragement from Puritan Thomas Watson. Really short. Really encouraging.

2Be Like Christ has 5 minute chapter summaries, like this one from James chapter 1. There are more here

I’m on the autism spectrum. They tested me when I was 8, but in 1968 there was no autism diagnoses for people, it wasn’t in the DSM yet. So the actual word never came up and nothing was ever really done to help me adjust to society. I just went along, feeling weird and not understanding, well, anything. When I was 50 years old I became aware of the word, read the encyclopedia and DSM about it, and went “Ah! That explains a few things!” But I didn’t seek a medical or psychological diagnosis. Obtaining one for an adult is difficult and expensive. But the main reason I shelved getting one was that I know that I am weak and if I had a diagnosis, I’d rest in it, rely on it, and take advantage of it. I decided being in Christ was enough. For some families, getting a diagnosis for certain things brings some much needed help, information, or funds. For sur! So, what to do? The Cripplegate answers this question: What Should You Do With Your Diagnosis? Responding Biblically to Mental Disorder Labels.

Read about Our Intercessor/Advocate from Dallas Holm, and be joyfully encouraged!

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I’m big on the fear of God.

The Fear of God, By Albert N. Martin

There was a time when even the unconverted would refer to a Christian as a “God fearing man.” With this theme so prominently and frequently mentioned throughout the Scripture—both Old and New Testaments—it is regrettable that in our day it can be rare for a sermon to be preached on this most important topic, let alone an entire series. These messages therefore are much welcomed and a “must hear” for sheep who desire a masterful, “meat-of-the-word” treatment of this weighty subject.” This is an introduction to an ntir, loaded page of sermons and writings about the Fear of God: you can find here.

Awww, the classic movie Roman Holiday turns 70 this year. World has a retrospective on the Gregory Peck- Audrey Hepburn film.

Beautiful hymn at Rebecca Writes: Like a River Glorious.

Feeling like a shopping spree? The Biblical Creative has some new products; Gospel tracts, Tee shirts, hoodies: here. Want some quality handmade leather products like bookmarks, journals, key rings, here at Robrasim. Need some Just Thinking merch? Letting your haters be your motivators? Bubble stickers? Mugs? They got ’em and more.

Let’s end with Dr. Lisle at the Biblical Science Institute and an essay on “Interpreting the Bible’s teaching on the Eternal State“. W are eternal beings with an eternal destination of only on of two places: heaven or hell. We Christians should feel gratitude, relief, and fervency for knowing in His grace He saved us from ‘the other place’ and destined us for his bosom in heaven. Think eternally, look up, and praise!

Posted in theology

Let us often think of home!

By Elizabeth Prata

The devotional is from GraceGems, a site stuffed with goodies from the past. Much to read and be edified by there.

Today is Sunday, the Lord’s Day. I pray you have a good church to attend. Gather with the saints in fellowship to worship, pray, sing, learn. This world wearies us, this is where we go to drink the Living Water, be refreshed, and go on in the week proclaiming His excellencies. Sunday is a day of rest, and don’t you feel rested after resting in Him? And just think of the eternal rest we will be given by our gracious Savior. DO think of home more often!

Tim Challies posted this from Dan Doriani:

Now on to James Smith’s devotional-

James Smith, (1802—1862) “A Devotional Glimpse at Psalm 23

“I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!” Psalm 23:6

Notice, David’s expectation for eternity. Not in the sheepfold in the wilderness, but in the house of the Lord! The dwelling-place of God, the family residence of the Father of mercies and His beloved children. In that house, we shall have . . .
  all our desires gratified,
  all our prayers answered, and
  our highest expectations more than realized!

There we shall dwell in peace, united to all the saints, and enjoying the society of all the ransomed brethren! All friendship will be unchangeable, and fellowship perpetual and pure.

There we shall dwell and worship–and our worship will be spiritual, pure, and perfect!

There we shall dwell and enjoy–and our enjoyments will be dignified, delightful, and eternal.

There we shall dwell and obey–and our obedience will be perfect, hearty, and perpetual.

There, we shall dwell and rest–and our rest will be sweet, refreshing, and satisfying.
There will be no wilderness storms there.
There will be no cruel, crafty, malignant foes there.

O glorious prospect! O sweet anticipation!

In our Father’s house are many mansions; and all those mansions will be occupied, for . . .
  every one beloved and chosen by the Father,
  every one for whom Jesus became a substitute and sacrifice,
  every one ever born of the Spirit, will be there!

All God’s children shall be there–not one of them lost!
All God’s sheep shall be there–not one hoof left behind!

There the Eternal Father will be surrounded by, and enjoy the society of all His happy family.
There the glorious Savior will see of the travail of His soul, and be fully and forever satisfied.
There the Holy Spirit will fill all His temples, and enjoy His divine workmanship, and the presence of all whom He has prepared for glory.
There, Jehovah, at home with His people–will manifest forth His glory, and pour floods of light, love, and blessing upon them forever!

Well then may the Psalmist say, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures!”

Let us often think of home!
This vain world is not our rest.
Here on earth, we have no continuing city.
Home, the home of the believer’s heart, is in the skies . . .
  where Jesus is,
  where Jesus reigns,
  where love is perfect,
  where there is always a full tide of joy,
  where God displays all his glory,
  where grace satisfies the utmost desires of every renewed soul!