Posted in theology

Tough times call for soft encouragement

By Elizabeth Prata

PODCAST LINK HERE

DISCERNMENT: Have you polished, adjusted, and thanked God today for your spiritual armor? We should be armed and ready, from head to toe, and praising the Lord for His generosity in protecting us from the demons and from the evil one himself! If we are on guard, rooted in His word, and seeking His face, we can always spot the real from the imitation, the Godly miracle from the demonic copy, the truth from a lying sign. It is a skill that needs honing, and we will need it more than ever as each day from now on progresses. Be ready and sharpen that sword: read your Bible today!

HOW, THEN, SHALL WE BE? Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, (2 Peter 3:11). When He comes, how will Jesus find each one of us? Arguing with a spouse? Or serving with humility? Without self-control? Or sober and watchful? In His glorious wisdom He gave us opportunity to obey Him. Let us be faithful and diligent in His service, till the end! 

BAD TIMES ARE GOOD TIMES: Oh what an exciting time we live in! Are you looking up, looking forward, and looking out? Share Him, expect Him, and love each other till the moment the trumpet sounds… He said He will come, He said to look up when we see these things come to pass, and He is coming soon. Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we first believed. (Romans 13:11). Now is the time to urge those who do not believe to seek truth. Truth resides in Jesus and in Him alone. And aren’t we who know Him blessed with the most wonderful relationship of which we can possibly conceive? Even if we do not have opportunity to witness every day, let us reflect Him in our demeanor and smile. We are rejoicing always!

For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you also are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

SPEEDING UP! Do you feel things are going faster and faster? The news that is coming at us is ever more forceful in its depravity? I do! I feel like a gal stuck in a snowball that is gathering speed as it rolls down the hill. The times are picking up steam. Are you using one eye for looking out (for your fellow man) and the other eye for looking up (for our redemption draweth nigh)?

KINDNESS IS THE WATCHWORD: The times are getting harder now for all of us, financially, emotionally, physically. Let us remember to share our faith with unbelievers but also encourage each other. Now is the time to let grudges go, to refrain from being annoyed by small things. Put personal differences aside and “build each other up” as we face increasing iniquity that disheartens and depresses, as the news indeed often does. (Be Salt & Light, Matthew 5:13-16)

Jesus said we do not need to worry. Matthew 6:25: “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”

It has been The End Time since Jesus ascended and will end when He returns. We are in the last days. The Lord may tarry longer but it feels to me and many others that the end of the end days may be upon us. Whether or not they are, let us watch and marvel at His word, feel joy in His promises, even as we see the needs of others rise in confusion and fear…because that represents a tremendous opportunity to share Jesus with them! It is hard but it’s also exciting for us to actually see many of God’s works unfold in these days.

Whatever it is or whatever you’re going through, God’s got this! It is not a surprise to Him, it is ordained for His glory and our good. Cling to that and the knowledge that if you are in Him, He is your all in all, Alpha and Omega, perfect Savior who loves His children dearly.

EPrata photo
Posted in theology

Book Review of Emily Lex: “Freely and Lightly: God’s Gracious Invitation to a Life of Quiet Confidence”

By Elizabeth Prata

Podcast audio here or podcast itself at bottom

Book review time!

I’m often asked to review or share my thoughts on a Christian Bible study, a new book, or other material. As someone with the spiritual gift of discernment I am happy to do this for women since the gifts were distributed for the edification of the church; local first, then global. Recently I was asked about a popular book by Emily Lex. The book is called-

Freely and Lightly: God’s Gracious Invitation to a Life of Quiet Confidence

Continue reading “Book Review of Emily Lex: “Freely and Lightly: God’s Gracious Invitation to a Life of Quiet Confidence””
Posted in theology

Is your marriage as strong as Roman concrete?

By Elizabeth Prata

I love all things Italian. My father’s side of the family came from Italy. I have a fascination with the Roman empire because of its monumental achievements. Who wouldn’t be amazed at the discipline of the Roman legion? The straight and paved Roman roads? The soaring aqueducts, bridges, and buildings? The breakwaters?

Wait, wut? The breakwaters?

Yes, perhaps the most amazing achievement of all. Astonishing because they have lasted for 2000 years, and, modern engineers can’t figure out how.

Continue reading “Is your marriage as strong as Roman concrete?”
Posted in theology

Religion News: Blurbs and roundups of what’s happening

By Elizabeth Prata

PODCAST LINK HERE

A short roundup of some religion news for you.

photo from: Ark Encounter

Some good news, the Truth Matters Conference, usually held at John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church, moved its venue to the middle of the United StatesS so more people could attend. It will now be held at “The Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky, for three days of unforgettable Bible teaching, glorious music, and rich fellowship with the extended Grace to You family.” This conference also sold out within minutes of opening ticket sales, which is great news. People still clamor for truth and fellowship with the saints. If you missed getting a ticket, the event will be open for free May 18–20, 2022 on livestream at the link above.

Beth Moore/Living Proof Ministries is now partnering with The Voice of the Martyrs-America. Video announcement here. H/T Amy Spreeman

Screen shot of the linked video

Pastor Gabe Hughes, known to us as Pastor Gabe on Twitter, the voice of WWUTT.com and Associate Pastor at First Baptist Church of Lindale TX, has been banned from tweeting from his Twitter Account for one week for posting this:

David Platt, formerly President of the International Mission Board and pastor at McLean Bible Church, has been scheduled as one of the speakers at IF:Gathering, a feminist, social justice, parachurch organization, and will be speaking alongside such false teachers as Francis Chan, Christine Caine, Ann Voskamp, Lysa TerKeurst, and so on.

Source from IF:Gathering pdf
G3 stands for gospel, grace, and glory. 

The G3 Conference is going to take place September 30-October 2. It has drawn 6400 participants, from all 50 states and several countries. Two days ago founder Josh Buice tweeted that there were only 40 seats left, and I’m sure those have sold out by now. G3 Ministries’ new Editor-In-Chief, Scott Aniol said,

It's remarkable that @JoshBuice, @VirgilWlkrOMAHA, and the good folks of one regular local church have built a huge conference, and now an expanded ministry, not by compromising truth, not by inviting speakers from a diluted pool of widely divergent views, but by an unapologetic emphasis upon the sufficiency of Scripture, expository preaching, confessional orthodoxy, and the primacy of the local church. Gives me hope. Evangelical leaders take note. Honored to be joining with them. @G3Conference #G32021 

Officials in other English speaking countries such as Australia and Canada are moving faster and faster toward tyranny. In British Columbia, Canada, proof of vaccination is now required to enter many settings. The good news is that – so far – you don’t need to show your papers vaccination card for worship services. In Australia, Victorian church leaders anxious about COVID vaccine mandate, fearing the creation of modern-day ‘lepers’. The leper allusion is something I wrote about in July.

Paul Washer of HeartCry Missionary Society issued an urgent prayer request in early September for one certain mission family in Afghanistan, and asks for general prayer for that situation. HeartCry is a credible organization and though news from that region of the world may be misty due to fog of war, my opinion is that HeartCry will offer the most solid information we can get in this sad and fluid situation. HeartCry link here

In June, it was reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is out after 12 years of leading Israel. Since then, he has been struggling to form a coalition government with his opposition.

The Kendrick Brothers have a new film out, Show Me The Father. This is the duo who produced Courageous, Fireproof, and Facing the Giants. This film is not a narrative like previous filsms, it’s a documentary. As World Magazine describes, “The film highlights the importance of fathers by telling the stories of several men whose father figures affected them for good—and evil.” This might be a good thing, as increasingly the Kendrick Brothers’ films have demonstrated a more prosperity gospelish bent than one would like. I wrote about them here. I’m hopeful the documentary approach will yield edifying content. The Brothers can put together a movie quite well, so perhaps this one will be the one for which discerning Christians will give a thumbs up.

Posted in theology

Anchor: A Sailing Story

By Elizabeth Prata

PODCAST LINK HERE

The deep blue sea. Davy Jones locker. The gloomy deep. The primordial sea. Vast and unplumbed. The dusky mystic ocean. All these and other phrases describing the sea are evocative and remind us that as we peer into the boundless murk, we cannot fathom its depths.

As a child of the ocean living in the Ocean State, I grew up on the sea. We loved the ocean, the bay, the inlets, creeks, and marshes. We scanned for pirates. We rode the waves like foamy horses. We took on spray and laughed. But we never could see to the bottom.

What was down there? What did it look like? Snorkeling the shallows was fun, but what was out there, deeper? There be dragons?

When you’re a boater you get used to setting an anchor. This is the item that attaches the boat to the ground underneath the waters, with a rope (called a rode) and the iron or metal anchor at the end of the rode. It takes a bit of skill to maneuver the boat in such a way that the anchor catches, and then remains dug in. If it doesn’t your boat will drift. It can drift far out to sea, or onto the rocks on shore. You do not want any nasty surprises as you relax with your lunch or sleep on your boat overnight. The anchor is important.

Reeling in the anchor at dawn, ready to cruise another day. This was an anchorage in Georgia and we and two other boats made a little flotilla

I lived on a sailboat for two years. We rarely docked at a marina, but usually found a secure bay or cove and set our anchor there. Sometimes we were alone, sometimes other sailboats would glide into the anchorage and set their anchor a distance away from us. You had to let out enough rode so that your boat could swing with any changes in the wind direction and not hit the other anchored boats, or could rise with the tide.

We had charts to let us know what kind of bottom it was. Is the area rocky? Full of sea grass? Sandy? Silty? Hard packed? We had to trust the information given on the charts. All these made a difference as to how we set the anchor or how secure we would allow ourselves to feel. Grassy areas were the hardest to use the anchor in. Grass is slippery and thick, it’s hard to get the anchor down to the actual ground underneath. It might feel securely driven in, but then a slight change in tide or wind and the anchor pops out and off you go. In 12,000 nautical miles of anchoring in all sorts of weather and ground conditions, the only time we drifted was in a grassy area. We really wished we could have viewed the bottom with our own eyes at that place!

The charts might let the mariner know about the anchorage this way: “North Cove is a special anchorage area designated by the Coast Guard with good holding in mud.”

Will the anchor hold? It was the ever-present question. We really wished we could see the anchor. But…we just had to rely on what we’d read on the charts and trust that the unseen anchor would hold.

When we got to The Bahamas, we were startled by the clear water! You could see all the way down! Fascinated, we watched starfish scud along the sand, fish darted here and there, lobster tentacles drifting out from the rocks. Coral! How pretty! Oh no, suddenly we noticed we had a kind of vertigo. Seeing the coral heads on the bottom, even though they were 20 feet or more down, looked like they were just at the surface. It was disconcerting. It seemed as if when we glided over them they’d rip our keel from stem to stern. Coral can do that. Coral heads are hard enough to rip the bottom off your boat like the top off a can of sardines.

One thing we enjoyed was seeing the anchor set. At last, we saw what we had not been able to see all the way from the North Atlantic down to the Gulf Waters! We could see the anchor when we snorkeled. We could see it when we viewed it from the bowsprit. We could even see it at night 20 feet down!

Nassau, anchor seen even in moonlight

It was a special sense of relief when we set the anchor and sat down from our vigilance from watching for hazards and watches to ensure we were on the right course.

for we walk by faith, not by sight— (2 Corinthians 5:7)

My time on the seas was so unique that I used to wonder quite frequently why I did it or what the purpose of it all was. I wasn’t saved, but I knew there had to be a purpose for things. Contemplating that there wasn’t any design to our lives or purpose in them was too monstrous of a thought.

Now from a 30-years-ago vantage point I know the purpose. There is a God. He has a purpose for each individual on earth that He creates, ultimately some for eternal wrath and some for eternal blessing. He “has many people in this city”, (Acts 18:10, i.e. people He plans to save but aren’t in the faith yet). He reserved me through many decades of sinful living until the time He brought me into his sheepfold. My memories of sailing all had a dual purpose. I understand the marine references in the Bible to a degree that perhaps landlubbers do not, just as farmers understand the agricultural metaphors more deeply than I do.

I live by trust, no longer trusting nautical charts to tell me what is down there that I cannot see, but the Bible to tell me what there is that I cannot see. Jesus is my anchor, not a piece of metal and a rope. O, what a day when my faith becomes sight. I will see my Anchor! My security holds fast to Him while navigating these turbulent waters on earth, but when I actually see Him, what a sense of relief! I can stand down from my night watches, my vigilance, my ever-present scouring the horizon for dangers, my internal checks in my spirit against sin. Friends, someday, perhaps soon, our faith will become sight!

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12).

But the one who loves God is known by God. (1 Corinthians 8:3).

Hold fast to the anchor of Jesus Christ, immovable, unshakeable, impervious to man’s ditherings and nonsense. He is the Rock, standing firm for the Father, who is King of all.

Posted in theology

Prata Potpourri: Ridiculous books, head coverings, Psallos, Reality Check on unrestrained wrath, Singleness, more

By Elizabeth Prata

It’s turned a bit cool here in the Deep South and I am loving it. In mid-September, if the weather cooperates in its usual pattern, the heat and humidity breaks. It tends to still be hot during the high point of the day, but the temps in the morning are in the low 60s and that is sooo refreshing.

Fall means the county fair is coming. EPrata photo

September reminds me of autumn and the County Fair. The kids at school might not remember where their bookbag is…where their homework is…where their chrome book is…but they all remember exactly when the fair is. It’s a traditional county fair, with some small rides, food trucks with the southern delicacy funnel cakes and other goodies, and the agricultural part with show pigs, cows, and the like.

I love the season’s turning. Granted, the seasons are more starkly divided up in my former region of Yankee New England, but north Georgia where I live now still has seasons. I love that. Fall is in the air!

Also in the air, is discernment. Tim Challies discusses the 5 most ridiculous books to ever become best-sellers on the Christian best selling book lists. I’d add The Shack to his list. Ladies, when you buy a Christian book (I almost wrote ‘go to a Christian bookstore’, but brick and mortar stores are as rare as hens’ teeth!) beware that most of them are written by false teachers and/or contain twisted Bible verses. Some trusted online booksellers I use are:

Grace to You store
Ligonier (watch for the $5 Friday sales!)
Reformation Heritage Books
Westminster Books
Free Grace Press

I have to say also, that I use Christianbook.com. This seller isn’t trusted because they present a plethora of false teachers, MANY false teachers, but their sales are great. If you sift and look, you can find some great deals. I just ordered a bunch of books in their 60% off fall sale. I snagged a John MacArthur “The Gospel according to Paul”, a book of Piper’s poems, a DeYoung, Nate Busenitz’s book about Luther, a Martyn Lloyd Jones bio, a John Bunyan book about how Christ Intercedes, and more. I compared with Amazon’s prices and since I’m an Amazon Prime member (thus, free shipping) and the average price for all, even including shipping, was so far below what Amazon could do, I decided to jump on the sale. Christianbook.com also has some merchandise if you’re looking for Christian gifts for Christmas.

Here’s Challies’ list of the 5 most ridiculous books to become best sellers-

Consider staying single. I’m serious. The author of this essay is too.

I learned last week of Psallos, a musical group whose music is based on and in scripture. About:

Psallos is a collective of musicians based in Jackson, Tennessee. Started by Cody and Melody Curtis in 2012, Psallos (pronounced like “psalms,” with a silent p) exists to create artistically excellent and theologically rich music (also like Psalms): melodies and lyrics that remind you of the truths of Scripture; harmonies, rhythms, and timbres that express the emotional weight of these truths.
Their mission found its shape most clearly in their albums based on New Testament epistles, the first of which was Romans in 2015. Since then, Psallos has released two other major records (Hebrews in 2017 and Jude in 2019), with Church Songs, Vol. 1, a short EP of new congregational worship songs, appearing in 2016.

I appreciated G3Ministry’s balanced presentation of the issue of whether women should be wearing head coverings.

Steve Kerper offers some sobering thoughts about the coming wrath of the Tribulation, and does something unique, compares to Job’s trials.

I thought this man’s tweet about the issues we’re feeling these days and his phrasing was perfectly apt –

Nate Schlomann, @NateSchlomann
I don't know what to say right now, but I think it's important for pastors to feel the burden of people in their churches who feel backed into a corner and violated by mandates. This is a big deal. This is a vile injustice, and pastors who are glib about it betray their people.

I agree. Mandates from our government or other authorities are important for many reasons. However, when government runs amuck with mandate after mandate, it does feel like a violation, a rape of our liberty. We as Christians need to adjust and remember that liberty is in Christ and in heaven, it’s not guaranteed here on earth. However, I plead with pastors to be sensitive to the temperature in the room, so to speak, and be kind to their sheep, and for the sheep in turn to have patience with each other and be kind to your pastor and leaders.

Have a good weekend everyone, and keep praying, reading, and serving.

Posted in theology

The Great Resignation, or, The Great Laziness

By Elizabeth Prata

PODCAST LINK HERE

Business Insider (BI) came out with an article that reported that millennials are quitting their jobs in huge numbers. Many of them do not have another job lined up. And, according to people who track these things, they haven’t gotten another job yet months after quitting. BI called it “The Great Resignation.

BI reported that the retirement age of 62 has become more and more popular, as fewer and fewer people expect to work beyond that age. The minimum age one can draw Social Security is 62. I know, because I called the Social Security Administration on Friday and asked about my own account. I’ll be 61 in a couple of months. If I even want to think about retiring I’ll have to wait a year. But I won’t be able to do it even at age 62, not enough in the kitty, but I do think about it. I think about it and I have a job I love, never mind a stressful job or a physical job or a job with terrible bosses etc. I’m sure lots of other people are thinking about it as well. Charles Johnson on Twitter summed up reasons he personally is hearing why people are thinking along these lines:

Continue reading “The Great Resignation, or, The Great Laziness”
Posted in theology

Do we think like this?

by Elizabeth Prata

PODCAST LINK HERE

I’m reading about missionary William Borden. The book is by Mrs. Howard Taylor called Borden of Yale ’09. William Borden was an extraordinary man, dedicating his life to Christ from an early age. I’m to the part now in the book where young Borden is entering his second year of college at Yale, and he has a decision to make.

At that time, (1906-07), sophomores needed to decide whether they would enter a fraternity or not by the beginning of their sophomore year. If they did not decide to go into a feeder frats in sophomore and junior year, then the senior frats automatically wouldn’t accept you. It was sophomore year or nothing.

Adding pressure to Borden’s decision whether or not to join, was the fact that his own uncle founded Wolf’s Head, considered one of the reputed “Big Three” societies at Yale, along with Skull and Bones and Scroll and Key. His own brother was a member of Wolf’s Head, too.

What’s the big deal? you may ask. It’s a standard activity for young men to join a fraternity. Why Borden’s hesitation?

Borden’s conscience bothered him. He had some thorny issues to work out. His best friend Charles Campbell recounted the questions Borden wrestled with as the deadline for joining a frat approached. Questions such as:

‘Could a Christian go into a secret society?’
‘Would such action harm or help our work for Christ?’
‘As a Christian, can we go into a society of which we know nothing of its activities and therefore understand nothing about it?’
‘Would this society be forming a clique that would exclude fellowship with others who may need the Gospel?’
‘Would this society come between him and God?’
‘Can I swear allegiance to a secret, man-made organization?’

Campbell was amazed at Borden's thought process. He wrote, "We had taken the the society system very much for granted, we had never questioned whether it was right or wrong for one of us to join a fraternity. But Bill took nothing for granted. He was a servant of Jesus Christ and everything must be tested and bear the stamp of Christ's approval before he would enter upon it."

Borden’s thought process affected his friends, as Campbell revealed he himself was astonished at such a humble approach to biblical decision-making. Laying everything down at Christ’s feet with careful thought beforehand, taking nothing for granted as a servant of Christ, was a transformative thought for Campbell and those in Borden’s sphere.

The notion of Christians swearing allegiance is not new but something that isn’t spoken of much these days. As I read the chapter about Borden’s decision whether or not to join a frat at Yale, I was remembering a similar scene that John MacArthur recounted from his own youth. MacArthur was about the same age as Borden at the time this incident happened. He related his experience as a member of a local labor union. Labor unions are also societies of people who are united with one purpose, committed to one another, and swear allegiance to the union. MacArthur said,

By the way, that’s not unlike some unions today. I remember when I was in a union for a brief time when I was working in school as a kid. I went down to the union hall because they said I had to be sworn in to the union. And so a man got up in front of about 600 people who were all there for this union meeting and he said, “I want all of the new people to stand up,” and I stood up and he said, “Now I want you to raise your right hand and swear.” Well, I don’t swear to anybody but the Lord. So I didn’t raise my hand and I didn’t say anything, I just stood there. And they said, “Do you swear to have allegiance to local 770, it was, the retail clerk’s union? Do you” – and it went on and on throughout all of this stuff and I didn’t put my hand up because in my simple understanding of my Christianity, I don’t swear by anything. My word is good. My yea is yea and my nay is nay. And I just felt that my conscience wouldn’t let me put my hand up, and I didn’t want to swear allegiance to anybody but Jesus Christ, and I had no idea what I was getting into and what I’d have to be held to if I did swear.

So while I was standing there without my hand in the air, a man grabbed me by the neck and threw me out of the building and asked me why I didn’t put my hand up. And I explained to him that I was a Christian and my allegiance was to Jesus Christ and that I would be a faithful and dutiful employee and do everything that I was told, but I wouldn’t swear my allegiance to anyone other than Christ.
So, they picked me up bodily; the guy threw me on the street on Hollywood Boulevard. And then, of course, they came back next week to get my dues and get me back in again. And at that point I submitted, [without swearing] I was willing to be a part; I just didn't feel I could pledge my allegiance to any other than Jesus Christ. (Source 1; Source 2).

The takeaways this morning are two-fold. First, do we think like Borden, laying everything down at the altar of Jesus in consideration of how our decisions may hinder or help the cause of Christ, even something as seemingly insignificant or normal as joining a fraternity or a union? And secondly, how careful are we in swearing oaths and vows?

The scripture mentioned in MacArthur’s story is from Matthew 5:37, But make sure your statement is, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil origin.

MacArthur’s codicil about joining and swearing and making oaths: Now, that was my own conscience at that point; I’m not trying to set down a law for you. But I think that’s the rule by which you have to function in the economic political world in which we live. You’ve got to be responsible as a Christian. God doesn’t give you these kind of pat answers, “Don’t strike,” “Do this,” and so forth. You’ve got to work your own situation under the energy and the power and direction of the Holy Spirit

Do we test everything and lay it down at Christ’s feet for approval? 1 Thessalonians 5:21 says,

but test everything; hold fast what is good.

PS: Borden eventually decided not to join, as he feared it might set him apart from his fellows at school.

photo by Aaron Burden from Unsplash. I added the text
Posted in theology

FOMO in the Forum

By Elizabeth Prata

FOMO is an acronym for Fear Of Missing Out. It’s spurred by social media, and constant checking of our phones and other technology to see if anything new happened in the past few seconds since the last time we checked. It’s based on an internal insecurity that someone, somewhere, is having more fun, doing something better, knowing newer news, having hotter gossip, learning something more important, eating something more delicious, than we are. It plays on our envy and our sense of self-importance. We want to be the holders of the freshest, newest thing.

PODCAST LINK HERE

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Posted in theology

“The walls are coming down” says Dallas Jenkins of The Chosen. But should they?

By Elizabeth Prata

PODCAST LINK HERE

still from Roumie Instagram video

The television program The Chosen has swept the religious channels and entered the hearts of many. It did so for a lot of reasons. It’s well written. It’s emotional. It’s extremely well made. It [seemingly] presents Jesus in a biblical light and fills in blanks plausibly without being heretical. I enjoyed the first season and said so, offering a few caveats.

Continue reading ““The walls are coming down” says Dallas Jenkins of The Chosen. But should they?”