Posted in theology

God takes away discernment

By Elizabeth Prata

One of the biggest problems the church has, maybe THE biggest, is a widespread lack of discernment. It’s true that many have infiltrated the church who are not true converts, so it stands to reason they lack discernment. But many true believers have failed to hone their discernment through training (Hebrews 5:14). There’s another reason that the church may lack discernment besides infiltration of false believers, and the presence of true believers who haven’t grown much: the Lord.

He deprives the trusted ones of speech, And takes away the discernment of the elders. (Job 12:20).

John Gill (1697 – 1771) was an English Baptist pastor, biblical scholar, and theologian who also wrote a commentary of the Bible. He says of the Job 12:20 verse in Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible -first Gill addresses the different ways that God takes away speech of the wise, “it seems strange that he should remove the speech of “trusty” or “faithful” men, that speak the truth, and are to be credited and believed; and as the preceding words are understood of ecclesiastic persons.”

“He removeth away the speech of the trusty,…. Speech is proper to mankind, and a benefit unto them, whereby they can converse together, and communicate their minds to each other. This is the gift of God, he gives to men in common the faculty of speaking;
–to some the tongue of the learned to speak various tongues, either in an ordinary or in an extraordinary manner; and he that gives can take away;
–he that made man’s mouth or lip can make it speechless, as he does at death; when he takes away man’s breath, he takes away his speech; the state of the dead is a state of silence;
–and sometimes he does it while living, by striking dumb, as he did Zechariah the father of John the Baptist;
–as in the builders of Babel, he took away the speech they had, and gave them another;
–and sometimes he suffers not men to speak what they would, but what is contrary to their inclinations and desires, as in Balaam, who would willingly have cursed Israel, but could not. –end Gill Commentary

As for the lack of discernment, the LORD takes it away in various ways, too. Gill continues in the second part of the Job 12:20 verse-

and taketh away the understanding of the aged; or “elders”; elders in age, with whom understanding, reason, judgment, counsel, and wisdom, by all which the word is interpreted, may be thought to be; yet all this God can take away, and does when he pleases, and they become like children in understanding.

–through the infirmities of old age their memories fail them,
–their reason is impaired,
–their understanding and judgment are weakened,
–they become unfit to give advice themselves,
–are easily imposed on and drawn aside by others as may be observed in Solomon, the wisest of men, when he was grown old. –end Gill

The Bible Knowledge Commentary by RB Zuck et al says, “Also all people are under God’s control. He humbles counselors (was Job referring to his three friends?), judges.… kings.… priests, well-established officials, advisers … elders.… nobles, and the mighty. By stripping away their wisdom and power, God reveals His superior wisdom and power.”

The Lord God is on control of all things; the earth, universe, angels, demons, and humans. He is in charge of all humans’ intellect. He gives discernment and He takes it away. We don’t know if the dearth of discernment plaguing the church currently is due to a failure of humans to be biblically illiterate and train themselves, of God’s judgment on humans, a mixture of both, or something else entirely. One thing we know for sure, it was Paul’s fervent prayer that the people would grow in discernment. I think the old adage “Use it or lose it” applies now!


This is a super helpful, practical lesson on how to begin honing your discernment, by Sharon Lareau. “Learn Discernment and Stay Safe from False Teachings

Posted in theology

My Last Word on Ravi Zacharias, and a discernment reminder

By Elizabeth Prata

In 2016 I wrote a discernment essay raising troubling concerns about Ravi Zacharias. I noted his slide downward, his praising of Catholic mystics, some untruths regarding his credentials, and his refusal to take a position on whether the Catholic Church is false (saying the two churches have merely ‘doctrinal differences!), creationism vs evolution, the Doctrines of Grace, or most of eschatology.

A Christian Apologists’ job is to take a stance on the doctrines of the Bible and proclaim and defend them, so the refusal to be clear on 40% of the Bible seemed a nonstarter to me. I’d also noted that I had attended a live speech event, and had listened to many of Ravi’s other speeches online. I said that he seemed to me more of a spellbinding anecdotal storyteller and secular philosopher than a Christian Apologist or evangelist. Lots of mentions of Jesus, not a lot of talk about sin, wrath, and repentance.

I wrote later that year that Ravi had spoken at false teacher Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church and called Warren’s church “one of the greatest”. I’d noted that he had also appeared on false teacher Joyce Meyer’s television program, and said Joyce puts out “great Bible teaching.” His partnering with false teachers spoke volumes both about his lack of discernment and his lack of courage.

Two months ago, in December 2020, I updated the situation when the Ravi Zacharias International Ministry (RZIM) itself had investigated their founder (who had recently passed away). They announced confirmation of newly revealed sins Mr Zacharias had performed. RZIM made this preliminary report public. The RZIM organization promised to be forthcoming with the conclusions of their hired investigation ended. I attached the RZIM updated facts to a discernment lesson, here.

RZIM’s hired investigators submitted their final report this past week and what they found was disheartening in the extreme.

Continue reading “My Last Word on Ravi Zacharias, and a discernment reminder”
Posted in theology

Want to know about discernment? GREAT resources here

By Elizabeth Prata

Founder’s Baptist Church led by Dr. Richard Caldwell, held a conference over the weekend. It is called the Truth in Love conference. The theme this year was “Discernment, Faith, and Fidelity to the Truth.” Some of the speakers were Steve Lawson, Phil Johnson, Ken Ramey, Owen Strachan, and several others, including Paul Washer and John MacArthur. Discernment! I’m all in! Phil, Paul, and John! I’m triply in!

Sadly, Paul Washer and John MacArthur ended up not being able to attend, more on that in tomorrow’s blog. But for now, I’d like to report on the wonderful preaching available on Youtube from this conference.

I love the topic of discernment. The Spirit had gifted me with the gift of discernment, and I strive to hone it and employ it to the benefit of my local church and online ministry to whatever extent the Spirit will bestow. Even if you do not have the gift, developing the skill is important in order to maintain your own spiritual health.

I’ve watched these videos so far,

Phil Johnson’s lecture, Discernment in Days of Defection,
Ken Ramey: The Discerning Listener (1 Timothy 1:3–11),
David Doran: Discernment and Our Response to False Teachers,
Steve Lawson’s Genuine Faith and its Fruit.
My friend from church told me he watched Owen Strachan’s Wokeness and the Gospel and it was good also.

I am sure the rest are just as terrific. David Doran’s was my favorite. I learned a lot.

If you would like to learn more about discernment, what it is or why it’s important, please do avail yourself of some of these video sermons and lectures.

The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.(Proverbs 16:21).

And this I pray, that your love may overflow still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, (Philippians 1:9).

EPrata photo
Posted in theology

What is discernment and how does it work? Like a pot of boiling water…

By Elizabeth Prata

Two days ago I published an update to the Ravi Zacharias situation here on this blog. I’d posted about the man other times, first in 2016, later that year here, and again in 2019. With the news that the Ravi Zacharias International Ministry (RZIM) had engaged a private investigative company to look into certain allegations against the now-departed Ravi, and that the Ministry announced this week allegations seemed to have merit, I published those facts Saturday.

No one likes it when a tower falls. Ravi was globally well known, a Christian celebrity if you will. His many decades of apologist speeches all over the world had affected many. Of course we would all prefer that any man of faith stay above reproach, but sadly, many do not. The Bible is replete with these sad facts, and it addresses them forthrightly.

WHAT IS DISCERNMENT?

Continue reading “What is discernment and how does it work? Like a pot of boiling water…”
Posted in theology

Where are all the discerning women?

By Elizabeth Prata

Here is a good article by Lauran Robinson at LauranLou blog. She asks a good question and it’s timely. When I talk with the younger women in the faith who seek and apply discernment, they acknowledge that it’s hard to really trust anybody (without doing significant pre-vetting before buying a book, subscribing to a podcast, liking on social media, etc). I was asked just this week ‘who is out there that we can trust?’ (Note: not blind trust, discerning trust).

It’s a grief to ask this question because it’s a grief to see friends and even women we don’t know follow false female teachers. (Or any false teacher). Won’t it be a relief and a joy in the eternal state with no sin and perfect trust in all whom we meet! Until that day, we must ask the question Lauran Robinson asked, ‘Where are all the discerning women?’

When I was brought to a Beth Moore Living Proof weekend I mourned over the tens of thousands of women filling the arena and the picture of all of them adoring Moore haunts me today. We ask the question not because we’re smarter than anyone else, frankly, many of us discerners have a woeful tale of having squandered time in sanctification because we followed the wrong crowd or teacher. It’s one of the reasons we’re so fervent about being discerning. (I myself followed Joel Osteen for over a year at the start of my walk!). It’s because we have been graced with a spiritual gift that allows us to spot false teachers (and good teachers).

The Holy Spirit dispenses gifts as He pleases. (1 Corinthians 12:11). One of them is “distinguishing between spirits” (1 Corinthians 12:10) known in modern times as discernment. The people given this spiritual gift in the global body, operating within local churches, are the church’s early warning system.

There are discerning women out there putting out great material in blogs, papers, lectures, studies, and podcasts. Michelle Lesley, DebbieLynne Kespert, The Woman’s Hope podcast co-hosts Dr Shelbi Cullen & Kimberly Cummings, Lauren Hereford of Tulips & Honey (and Facebook group here), Susan Heck, Amy Spreeman, Allie Beth Stuckey, and others. But admittedly, the field is narrow and more full of false teachers.

Recently a young woman asked me to recommend any good Christian books by Godly women or about Godly women. I turned to Banner of Truth books because I know Iain Murray had written a short bio of Amy Carmichael and BoT had also published the bio of Selina Countess of Huntingdon. Banner of Truth lists 293 authors. Fourteen were women, comprising 4% of the list, if that gives you any idea of the ratio of solid male theologians to female. I believe this ratio holds in the wider global church, too, given the number of false women teachers we see running around.

So Lauran Robinson’s question Where are all the the discerning women? is a good one. I recommend reading Lauran’s thoughts on the issue, linked just above.

Posted in theology

This is what repentance looks like: Dawn Hill in a moving testimony

By Elizabeth Prata

I don’t know this lady. A virtual friend on Facebook shared this video.

Dawn Hill repents of being a false prophet and for being part of the NAR. She urges women everywhere to discern properly, test all things, focus on Jesus Christ, and not swim in emotionalism and prophetic words that are only vain imaginations and fleshly lusts. She pleads with her audience to throw away her work, her book, and any and all of her old material. She urges women to submit to the authority of the Bible as the only sure word.

Continue reading “This is what repentance looks like: Dawn Hill in a moving testimony”
Posted in theology

How to Vet an Author: Example- Linda Dillow

By Elizabeth Prata

A reader asked me my opinion of a certain author, which happens a lot. In this case it was Linda Dillow. I had not heard of her or her ministry.

It is encouraging to me when women are careful before getting involved rather than asking me how to get out after they already have been grabbed by false teachers.

I was not familiar with Linda Dillow. As I went about searching for information on her, I thought it would be a good idea to present how I vet an author. Mine isn’t a foolproof method, and there are undoubtedly things I’m overlooking, but I feel it gains me enough information initially as to whether to proceed in absorbing the author’s material or recommending her to others. My discernment radar is always up after accepting an initial positive assessment. Discernment’s not a “one and done” kind of thing.

As always, check yourself, check ME out, and pray for wisdom.

Continue reading “How to Vet an Author: Example- Linda Dillow”
Posted in potpourri, theology

Prata Potpourri: Women’s Day, Fencing the Lord’s Table, Discernment thinking, Girl, again?? More…

By Elizabeth Prata

My friend the school secretary related a cute story. One of the staff is retiring. The office personnel were congratulating him. A little student was nearby, and she was asked, ‘He is retiring, do you know what retiring means?’

She piped up, “Yes. It’s when you don’t actually quit your job, you just get old and go home”.

Well then! Out of the mouths of babes…

On to Potpourri:

thornsThink the grass will be greener over there in those ministries? Not always so…A good essay from Michael Kruger.
Yes, There are ‘Thorns’ in Vocational Ministry Too

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Girl, you got problems… Rachel Hollis’s book(s) Girl, Wash Your Face and Girl, Stop Apologizing lack a proper theological framework, thereby being unsuitable for Cristian consumption. And by the way, they also seem to be plagiarized from un-acknowledged sources, which render them unsuitable for anyone.

Jen Oshman reviews Hollis’s latest book: Girl, Follow Jesus

Buzzfeed presents some information on the allegation of plagiarizing in Influencer Rachel Hollis Is Facing Accusations She Is Plagiarizing On Her Instagram

Katelyn Beaty at Christianity Today adds to the conversation about Hollis’s books in Girl, Get Some Footnotes: Rachel Hollis, Hustle, and Plagiarism Problems

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The discernment lesson in this one is good. Hey, the whole thing is good.
The Servant Leader Shuns Unbiblical Thinking

How did Spurgeon fence the Lord’s Table, anyway? A view on the issue of open communion, or closed?

Open Book: Books by R.C. Sproul and John MacArthur have had a profound impact on so many people. But which books influenced their lives and ministries? Listen each week on Open Book as we hear about the books that shaped their thinking. This week- John MacArthur and A.W. Pink’s Spiritual Growth (Podcast)

Properly Celebrating Women’s Day at Delivered By Grace. “While we can certainly recognize progress of women’s equality in many ways in our culture, how should we as followers of Jesus celebrate women and the place of women in our lives, our culture, and our churches?”

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Table Talk Magazine examines individual and societal loneliness. I’ve been interested in this topic ever since I was a journalist in the early 2000’s, observing and reporting on society via sports events, civic meetings, clubs, and organizations. How do people interact these days? In 2001 Robert Putnam published his groundbreaking book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Society. I recommend it.

TableTalk article: All the Lonely People

I read this book by Wiersbe in order to review it, recommended:

Lonely People: Biblical Lessons on Understanding and Overcoming Loneliness Living Lessons from God’s Word, by Wiersbe, Warren

weary

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Julie-Ann Baumer in Maine has a nice folksy way about her. I enjoy her blog posts
In the Rear-view Mirror

Jessica Fisher at Good, Cheap Eats has an article on 8 Great Taco Fillings. I’ve been enjoying Mexican food a lot lately, so it’s on my mind. Maybe you’ll enjoy these too.

 

Posted in theology

Another good reason to develop discernment

By Elizabeth Prata

We’ve been commissioned by Jesus to share His Gospel with everybody and make disciples with those who convert. (Matthew 28:16-20).

And we do. But… There are some people, especially those close to us, who refuse to hear it, but we keep trying, for the sake of their eternal souls.

On the other hand we are told,

Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. (Matthew 7:6).

How do we know when to stop sharing the Gospel with someone who refuses?  How many times do we share it? After all, we are supposed to forgive seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:20-22). Do we share it that many times with the reluctant hearer? How do we know when to leave the peson who refuses aside? This is hard to do when it’s your dad or yrou uncle or your brother.

Here is where developing our discernment helps us. Matthew Henry has some advice.

As a rule to all in giving reproof. Our zeal against sin must be guided by discretion, and we must not go about to give instructions, counsels, and rebukes, much less comforts, to hardened scorners, to whom it will certainly do no good, but who will be exasperated and enraged at us. Throw a pearl to a swine, and he will resent it, as if you threw a stone at him; reproofs will be called reproaches, as they were (Lu. 11:45; Jer. 6:10), therefore give not to dogs and swine (unclean creatures) holy things.

Note, [1.] Good counsel and reproof are a holy thing, and a pearl: they are ordinances of God, they are precious; as an ear-ring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is the wise reprover (Prov. 25:12), and a wise reproof is like an excellent oil (Ps. 141:5); it is a tree of life (Prov. 3:18). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible

Warren Wiersbe also has some good advice.

As God’s people, we are privileged to handle the “holy things” of the Lord. He has entrusted to us the precious truths of the Word of God (2 Cor. 4:7), and we must regard them carefully. No dedicated priest would throw meat from the altar to a filthy dog, and only a fool would give pearls to a pig. While it is true that we must carry the Gospel “to every creature” (Mark 16:15), it is also true that we must not cheapen the Gospel by a ministry that lacks discernment. Even Jesus refused to talk to Herod (Luke 23:9), and Paul refused to argue with people who resisted the Word (Acts 13:44–49).

The reason for judgment, then, is not that we might condemn others, but that we might be able to minister to them. Notice that Jesus always dealt with individuals according to their needs and their spiritual condition. He did not have a memorized speech that He used with everybody. He discussed the new birth with Nicodemus, but He spoke of living water to the Samaritan woman. When the religious leaders tried to trap Him, He refused to answer their question (Matt. 21:23–27). It is a wise Christian who first assesses the condition of a person’s heart before sharing the precious pearls. Wiersbe, W. W. The Bible exposition commentary

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It’s imperative that we constantly train ourselves in discernment skills. Discernment is not only for the detecting of false teaching, but it is also an aid for helping us in witnessing, (among many other reasons!)

But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebews 5:14).

Posted in potpourri, theology

Prata Potpourri: Parenting, Discernment book review, Prioritizing family, Songs of Lament, more

Hello and welcome to another edition of Prata Potpourri. I’ve found some interesting links and tossed them into the mix for your consideration. The week ended on a good note for me. To be honest it started on a good note, so all in all it was a good week! I hope it was for you as well. The rapture didn’t happen this week but since it’s always imminent, it could happen next week. What a blessing it will be to be in glory, seeing Jesus’ face, and rendering the perfect service and worship He deserves.

Meanwhile the dawn hasn’t broken and I’m sipping coffee in the quiet, with the vigorous rooster next door announcing the imminent arrival of Aurora. Later I will have to attend to some adulting by paying bills and choosing health care since Open Enrollment is ongoing. Maybe clean the apartment. But the precious moments between waking and arising, and heaving ho to the tasks ahead is the sweet spot of Saturday morning. I hope you enjoy a few of these during your down time, whenever you can find some.

Samuel D. James’s review of the book The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure and how it’s really about parenting. Man, this guy can write.

Founders talks about living the cessationist life

Keith Getty says that when only constant happy hymns are sung it further saddens the downcast since they cannot reach the joyful heights. He longs for congregations to sing a few songs of lament.

Aimee Byrd, the Housewife Theologian, remarking on how even the word sin is going out of style

Dallas Holm muses in his moving and stirring praise letter about Gospel Missionaries.

The always impressive Ayanna Thomas with a lesson on How To Apply Scripture.

Hannah Anderson’s new book All That’s Good: Recovering the Lost Art of Discernment is reviewed by the ladies at Out of the Ordinary. I haven’t read the book and I’m not that familiar with Anderson. But I’m always looking for a good book on discernment. Let me know if you read it and like it.

Do you stint the Lord with the excuse that you must prioritize family? Meager with time or money or service for the Lord? Michael Coughlin had me at Spurgeon…and the Spirit had me at stint.

I love Bud Alheim‘s Puritan quotes:

puritan quote.jpg

This Britain’s Got Talent clip of the singers performing the classic song White Cliffs of Dover, a WWII song. The surprise at the end, had me in tears. It got me thinking about true bravery and sacrifice, and the endless wars our globe has endured and will endure, as we are promised (Matthew 24:6. Wars have scarred generations of humans from the beginning and has corrupted even the ground with blood, hate, and bones. But then I got to thinking about the end of war, and I began to long even more for Jesus’s great appearing.

Whoever the BBC Good Food photographers are, they kill me with their luscious pictures of food, expertly photographed. So mouth watering. Stills can get boring but these guys are endlessly creative. Follow them on Twitter, you won’t regret it. @BBcGoodFood
Now they add to my pain with this photo of weekend getaways for foodies. Look at this pub! Just look at it!

bbc good food

Winston Tseng’s parody trash posters have Christians and conservatives up in arms. I say, relax and chill, people. He is an equal opportunity parodist, taking on the NYC MTA, Christians, Trump, and the Red Sox. I’m not a fan of the sentiment but I’m not going to spend social media time or spiritual energy decrying that an unsaved person hurt my feelings with a poster.

This European City map will serve you well in any city in which you travel. It’s highly accurate, from my own experience, lol.

european city map

For moms. I opened with parenting and I close with mommying. Mattea Goff’s comic explaining to her husband why she is so tired in the morning has gone viral.

mom 1mom 2mom 3mom 4mom 5mom 6mom 7mom 8