Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

Last day of 2017: Thoughts on time’s passage

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The year 2107 flew by. I turned 57. Since my birthday is at the very end of the year in mid-December, I usually count myself as that age all year. So all of 2017 I thought of myself as 57. When my birthday approached, I mistakenly thought I was turning 58. When I realized my true age, I was relieved and happy I’d ‘gained’ a year. It was like Daylight Savings Birthday, as a witty friend said.

During the mistaken period when I thought I was a year older than what I was, I was kind of sad. 58 is pushing 60 and that is a major milestone. It’s the old age retirement age decade. The seriously shortening lifespan decade. The years pile up. Our church is filled with young folks, even our pastor just turned from 29 to 30. A lot of the members are in college or graduate school. It is startling when you look at them all assembled and realize you could be their mother. It’s even more startling when you realize you could be their grandmother. Wut? Not me! Yes me.

On Twitter the other day, one of the guys asked ‘what is your first life memory of a major news story?’ Most of them said the Challenger explosion. That was 1986. I was already teaching, married, and owned a house. My first memory of a news story was the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, February 1964, I’d just turned 3. The first major news story that impressed itself on my heart and psyche was the 1968 Democratic National Convention riots. I was 7 1/2.

When there are that many decade layers you swim down through in your brain to get to the memory, it sets a person back. Whoa, you think. I was a kid just yesterday. Memories I recall as recent are actually 20 and 30 years old. I graduated high school forty years ago. People you know start dying. If they die outside of Christ, it’s very sad. My ex-husband has died. A friend I’d worked with on town political issues has died. My father has died. Reading the obituaries becomes a regular habit.

I like demarcations. I enjoyed standing on the equator. I like the 45th parallel, the point halfway between the equator and the north pole. I liked being at the easternmost point in the US and the southernmost point in the US. Crossing the Rio Grande from the US to Mexico. Borders are good, they contain things, attempt to make the chaos orderly. Or at least manageable. Year end borders are good. So it’s New Year’s Eve now, and we’re looking at another year ahead.
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New Year’s Eve is an artificial demarcation of years in a progression of invisible days, which are artificial demarcations themselves. The Egyptians divided the day into two 12-hour periods, and used large obelisks to track the movement of the sun, says Wikipedia. Graduated candles, hourglasses, sundials, water clocks…all used to mark off time for different reasons in different ways. The first mechanical clocks were invented in Europe at around the start of the 14th century, and became the standard timekeeping device until the pendulum clock was invented in 1656, says Wikipedia again. Now we have an atomic clock that keeps time to the billionth second. And we have our calendars that tell us when one year ends and another begins.

To what end? Man in his whirring activity here on this blue ball, must seem very much like children to our Great God. And so believers are children, that is how God sees us. (Romans 8:17, John 1:12-13). To what end are we so active and energetic on this blue ball?  Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

It is the last day of 2017. Perhaps the Lord will come for us in 2018. I hope so, fervently.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

I don’t have any profound words of wisdom as the calendar page turns over from this year to the next.  No hopeful statements to uplift. Just this: there will be a last day. One. Last. Day. (John 6:39, John 6:40, John 6:54 )

The New Testament makes it clear that the coming of Jesus Christ was the critical event. His atoning death was God’s final answer to the problem of human sin and once that had been accomplished nothing could be the same again. For our present purpose the important thing is that Jesus ushered in a new state of affairs. He wrought the atonement that made it possible for sinners to be forgiven and to enter God’s kingdom and to be fitted to take their part in God’s final kingdom. That gives a different quality to all time after the coming of Jesus, and the scriptural writers bring this out by referring to all that is subsequent to the coming of Jesus as “the last times” or the like.

Very important is the fact that the final, great day will see the triumph of God. This is foreshadowed in the Old Testament, for example, in the great passage in which Job says, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God” (Job 19:25-26). But the important thing from the Christian point of view is that the saving work of Christ has altered everything. Sin has been decisively defeated and believers have already entered into salvation. However long or short a time it will be before the end of this world as we measure time, we are living in the last times as the New Testament writers understand it. Bakers Evangelical Dictionary

And on that last day when time shall be no more,

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And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. (Revelation 20:12).

For the Christian, this is good news. We are judged by what Jesus has done, and we know that God is pleased with His Son. (Matthew 3:17). For the non-believing dead-resurrected, being judged according to what they have done is very bad news, for their lives of evil and rebellion will be reflected in the books, and in the end, their punishment.

Scoffers look at the calendar’s pages turning over the years and the decades and-

They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:4).

He is coming. This blog is called The End Time because we must constantly be looking forward, up, to the future. We are in the last days and we look forward to His appearing. There will be a last day. Man marks time and confidently says, ‘Today is the last day- of 2017’. However, God has his own timing schedule,

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (2 Peter 3:8-10).

Where will you be on the last day? Where will your friend, your ex-husband, your father be? Will you and they be in the line to the right, with the sheep? Or to the left, with the goats? Today is the last day of 2017. Let this melancholy and sober recounting of time’s passage be a reminder of the true and glorious last day of all: the day of His appearing when He comes to judge the living and the dead. May it be in 2018.

SDG

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

2016 By the Numbers, part 2

2016

Donald Trump, a businessman and not a politician, was elected President of the United States. Fidel Castro died, the Cubs won after a 108 year baseball championship drought. Brexit, snipers, Back the Blue, Aleppo, Putin, WikiLeaks, Harambe, Hillary, hot air balloon tragedy, school bus crash tragedy. Deaths of Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher, George Michael, Prince, Bowie, Scalia, Alan Rickman, Glen Frey, Nancy Reagan, Gary Shandling, Patty Duke…OK enough. People died. Things happened.

Volcanos erupted-

The Atlantic:
2016: The Year in Volcanic Activity
Alan Taylor DEC 14, 2016 32 Photos

Although this has been a relatively average year for the world’s active volcanoes, the activity that did take place was still spectacular. Out of an estimated 1,500 active volcanoes, 50 or so erupt every year, spewing steam, ash, toxic gases, and lava. In 2016, erupting volcanoes included Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador, Villarrica in Chile, Mount Sinabung in Indonesia, Piton de la Fournaise on Réunion Island, Kilauea on Hawaii, Pavlof Volcano in Alaska, Mount Bromo in Indonesia, Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia’s Erta Ale volcano, and more. Collected below are scenes from the wide variety of volcanic activity on Earth over the past year.

Earthquakes shook,

People searched,

Pastors fell,

Paul Hand, Tullian Tchividjian, Darrin PatrickPerry Noble, RC Sproul Jr, Tom Chantry, David Reynolds… the list is depressingly long.

When any pastor grievously sins against Jesus and falls below reproach and disqualifies himself, it’s a poor witness to his flock. When he does so as a famous pastor with a large, well-known platform, it’s worse because the sin is more widely seen. He has brought reproach onto the spotless name of Jesus for all to see and mock.

Even longer though is the list of pastors well-known and not well known who labor tirelessly in the trenches of spiritual warfare faithfully leading their flocks. They toil amid the narrow lines of correct doctrine, watching fishbowl eyes watching, and full guns of satan blazing against them. Thank you pastors! I have benefited from the ministrations and sermons of locally known pastors Mark McAndrew, James Bell, Phil Andrukaitis, and more well-known pastors such as Don Green, John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, Chris Rosebrough, Alistair Begg, RC Sproul, Tim Challies, Todd Friel…and the ministries of Wretched Radio, Reformation Network, and Expositor FM, MLJ Trust, Ligonier, among many others.

As you drive down the street and see a church here and there, inside there is most likely a true pastor laboring for the Lord, doing his best to bring the truth and witness with his life. Thank you Pastors!

On the personal front, I watched movies, TV, and read books this year, of course. I think Tower is the best documentary I’ve seen in a long time. The IMDB plot summaries read:

Nearly fifty years ago, a gunman rode the elevator to the twenty-seventh floor of the University of Texas Tower and opened fire. TOWER, an animated and action-packed documentary, shares the untold story of that day – when the worst in one man brought out the best in so many others.

Animation, testimony, and archival footage combine to relate the events of August 1, 1966 when a gunman opened fire from the University of Texas clock tower, killing 16 people.

The first mass shooting in the United States, it caused shock and upset. Today when it happens it’s just another normal day. Sadly. The documentary is historical, informative, moving, and thoroughly absorbing because, in my opinion, it focuses almost solely on the victims and not the shooter.

Here is Rolling Stone’s review:

After reading a 2006 oral history of the shooting in Texas Monthly – as told through the voices of surviving victims – Maitland set to work on Tower, a gripping new documentary currently in theaters that augments rigorously researched journalism with a devout humanistic bend. Combining archival footage with animated sequences of first-person accounts, interviews and police reports, the film bypasses Whitman’s backstory – his name is only mentioned three times – and focuses on lesser-known but key characters: the bookstore manager who stormed the tower with police; the 17-year-old who rushed into the crossfire to save a victim’s life; and the off-duty officer who helped bring the gunman down.

Netflix’s The Crown is sumptuous and focuses on a historical person who is still alive, an interesting dichotomy. Queen Elizabeth II has been reigning longer than any other British Monarch, over 70 years now, so her early reign is definitely history but she is active and living so she is also contemporary. I’ve enjoyed the discussions the actress Elizabeth had with actress Queen Mary her grandmother, about God raising up a sovereign, and the holy duty that sovereign has to God and the people. The Crown focuses on her first few years of her reign, from before her ascension (1945) to afterwards, 1955. The Crown is a television standout this year, and reminds us of what television could be. Elizabeth shows us what a Queen should be.

I started taking LigonierConnect classes this year. I decided to share this part of the annual update with you not to boast, but because I believe it’s important that as a teacher, blogger, Christian woman, readers should know my credentials and commitments to Christ. Teachers should live a transparent life. As a Christian teacher, blogging in a vacuum absent personal context is, in my opinion, wrong. Readers need to assess a teacher’s credibility, and teachers need to be accountable to readers. So I decided to let you know that I’m serious about an organized approach to the faith in terms of personal study and growth.

As an overview, I faithfully attend a Reformed Baptist church with a teaching pastor and three other elders. I strive to pursue holiness and apply biblical precepts to my life in work, social spheres, online, and through my personal responsibilities such as finances, charity, discipling and the like. I take classes when I can, and read the Bible and study it. I pray.

As for my current classes, a nominal annual subscription allows access to myriad offerings, or one could choose to pay as you go, (classes are less than $20, many are less than $15). One could even partake of their free classes, of which there are many. I’ve taken and completed:

  • Recovering Beauty of the Arts,
  • Justification by Faith Alone,

I am in-progress with:

  • Principles of Biblical Interpretation,
  • Understanding the Tabernacle,
  • Do More Better.

Do More Better is led by Tim Challies and I highly recommend it. Challies focuses on productivity; the biblical definition of it, how to focus your life so that it aligns with it, creating a mission statement for each sphere in your life, and more. For non-subscribers it costs $15 and .75 CEU’s are available to earn upon completion. Here is the official synopsis:

It really is possible to live a calm and orderly life, sure of your responsibilities and confident in your progress. This course, based on Tim Challies’ book, Do More Better, provides a short, practical guide to productivity. Whether you are a student or a professional, a work-from-home dad or a stay-at-home mom, it will help you learn to structure your life to do the most good unto the glory of God.

As the New Year begins, we are awash in suggested Bible Reading Plans, Reading Challenges, changing lifestyle commitments, diet or exercise resolutions, I know it’s a lot. Americans like to be vigorous-tending-toward aggressive in doing life. As it’s the Resolutions time of year, I’ll mention Jonathan Edwards’ 70 Resolutions.

Christianity Today published this synopsis of Edwards’ resolutions this morning:

Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards
Mark A. Noll

Typical of many other serious young men of his day, the young Jonathan Edwards drew up a list of resolutions, committing himself to a God-centered life lived in harmony with others. The list, excerpted here, was probably first written down in 1722 and added to at several times in his lifetime. There are seventy resolutions in all. The excerpts here give a picture of the seriousness and resolve with which Edwards approached life.

Here are the 70 Resolutions organized by topic.

Here are the 70 Resolutions listed in original language

The combination of the Do More Better productivity class, and reading the 70 Resolutions has helped renew my own commitment once again to do more, better. Paul wrote that we should so all to the glory of God, even if it is eating and drinking. We’re given a number of days on earth, how can I enjoy God and glorify Him while I’m here? Between the blessing of technology and being able to select some Bible Reading Plans suited to me, the Productivity Class, and the inspiration of the fathers of the faith like Spurgeon (always productive) and Edwards, (resolved and productive), I am looking forward to the New Year with renewed vigor.

I’m not going to mock, underplay, or dismiss the importance of this time of year’s opportunity to “take stock”. Edwards reminded himself to take stock weekly, by reading and re-reading his Resolutions. Challies advises the same in his class, to read and re-read one’s responsibilities and mission statement weekly. Weekly, monthly, and annual taking stock is wise.

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

As Alistair Begg asked when preaching this verse, ‘Is the Psalmist asking a mathematical question?” No! We ask God to make us aware of our limited time on earth so that we may serve Him with vigor and love and diligence. Barnes’ Notes says of the Psalm verse,

So teach us to number our days – literally, “To number our days make us know, and we will bring a heart of wisdom.” The prayer is, that God would instruct us to estimate our days aright: their number; the rapidity with which they pass away; the liability to be cut down; the certainty that they must soon come to an end; their bearing on the future state of being.
That we may apply our hearts unto wisdom – Margin, “Cause to come.” We will bring, or cause to come, a heart of wisdom. By taking a just account of life, that we may bring to it a heart truly wise, or act wisely in view of these facts.

Lord, in 2017, make my heart truly wise, aid me in the pursuit of Holiness, give me a life adorned with Your wisdom, and with courage and grace. Help me to be an elder example to the younger, and to submit to elder and wiser examples than me. Our days are numbered. As many as I have left, I want to do more for Him in better ways than I did in 2016.

Happy New Year!

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Bible reading plans, choices, personal reading, books!

It’s time once again for the annual Bible Reading Plans blog essay! I’m notorious for starting and utterly failing to stick to a Bible Reading Plan. But I keep trying! Alexander Pope wrote hope springs eternal

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blessed:
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
– Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man


Three Reasons Why You Should Read the Whole Bible in 2017

Each year at the end of December, many people choose a reading plan for the upcoming year only to find themselves failing to keep pace as the weeks pass. It may surprise you to know how many people in your church have not read the entire Bible. This year would be a wonderful time to read the whole Bible. Consider these three important reasons why you should read the whole Bible in 2017.

Reading through your Bible has become a year-end advertisement, resolution, and chore list. I would like to encourage you not to not do it. This may seem like an odd request, but I want to drive past the activity and look at the heart. I don’t want you to grab a plan, make plans, and follow through with those plans so you can say you read through your Bible. I would rather you simply say, “I’m committed to learning about my Lord and Savior, therefore I need to read my Bible because it is the source of light in this dark world.”

I’ve never been one to follow a crowd and I balk at being herded into a plan just because it’s Bible plan time of year. Alternately, I have not read through the Bible completely, and it’s been 13 years since I was saved. So, I am lax, lazy, unproductive, non-diligent, and all the words. I want to know my Lord, and the way to do it is to read His word. So thanks to the ever-diligent Challies who wrote about different plans, I am doing three. Over-ambitious? Setting myself up for failure? Probably. However, think of the feast I’ll enjoy if I’m successful at even one of them!

This plan I chose is a five day, semi-chronological plan. And it’s free. Challies wrote, of theFive Day Reading Plan,

My favorite daily Bible-reading plan is the 5 Day Bible Reading Program from Bible Class Material which I was introduced to by Melissa Kruger. It has several features I love:

It is a familiarity plan that covers the entire text of the Bible over the course of the year. Between January 1 and December 31 those who follow it read every word of the Bible.
It is a pseudo-chronological plan that covers the text of the Bible in the order the events happened. Thus, for example, the Psalms come at appropriate moments in the life of David, the books of Kings and Chronicles are read in harmony, and so on. This helps set the events in their historical context. Yet even though it’s chronological, it’s only pseudo-chronological. There are Old Testament and New Testament readings each day and the gospels are interspersed through the year. I find this an ideal compromise over a strictly chronological program.

It is a 5-day plan. A benefit of a 5-day plan (as opposed to a 7-day plan) is that there is less chance of falling far behind. At 5 days per week it is far more doable than at 7 days—there is always a chance to catch up. Also, it allows a day or two of reading something different for those who, for example, like to read and ponder the sermon text on a Sunday morning.

It is a free plan. It’s free for the taking! They’ve got a nice little print-out you can download, print, fold in half, and put inside your Bible. It’s got boxes to tick as complete each day and each week. Or you can do what I did, which is use the Reading Plan app to organize the plan even while reading through Logos, the ESV app, or a printed Bible.

2. I also bought this one for Kindle,
Reading God’s Story, Hardcover: A Chronological Daily Bible Hardcover
by George Guthrie (Author), Holman Bible Staff (Editor)

Reading God’s Story takes that clear narrative approach to the Bible, arranging the complete text into a fresh chronological reading plan developed for the Read the Bible for Life biblical literacy initiative. In this plan the books, chapters, and verses of the Bible are thoughtfully arranged so readers can track the story of Scripture, day by day, from beginning to end, understanding the flow of events and how all the different parts fit together to make sense.

I bought this one too,
3. NIV, Bible in 90 Days, Hardcover Hardcover, by Zondervan (Author)

As you break it down into bite-sized pieces, what may have seemed to be an overwhelming challenge becomes doable and enjoyable. And this specially designed Bible will help you get the most out of your experience. Use it in conjunction with The Bible in 90 Days curriculum for all the benefits of sharing God’s Word in community, or read it by yourself. Either way, you’ll be fulfilling what for many people is a longstanding ambition: reading through the entire Bible.

Well, we’ll see. If I can’t stick to a plan for three months, or for five days in a week, I will be a sorry excise for a reader, a Christian, and a student!

Other plans

Michelle Lesley listed these kinds and other types of Bible Reading Plans on her page also. Take a look to see if there are some that appeal to you. There is a good variety. Michelle is faithful to provide a variety of credible and worthwhile resources on her page. You should bookmark it for 2017 if you haven’t already.

If you commute, pr prefer an audible Bible reading plan, there are those also. BibleGateway has The Daily Audio Bible plan.

Here is another option, The MacArthur Daily Bible:

The MacArthur Daily Bible takes a portion of the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs for each day of the year, with daily comments that guide and inform you as you read through the Bible in a year. John MacArthur’s insight maximizes the benefit of each day’s reading. If a commitment to daily Bible reading never worked for you before, this is the answer.

You can also purchase it directly from Grace To You’s website, here.

Personal Reading

I am also planning on going through Challies’ reading program at the avid level. That is a commitment to read one book every two weeks. I work two jobs, and when I finish for the day, finish my own Bible reading, fulfill my ministries, and write a blog essay for that day, I’m pretty numb. But I do waste time on tv (like Judge Judy clips on Youtube) or shows like Top Chef or Great British Menu, so the fact is, there IS time to read. I want to read more. It relaxes me more than TV does and it’s better for my mind. I want to re-ignite the daily habit. I like books, and I miss them.

Here is the entire offering, from light reader of one book a month, to obsessed reader at two books per week.


Completed Personal Reading:

So far this School vacation I have finished:

JD Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy which was excellent. There’s profanity, but it’s necessary because when he quotes his family, that is how they spoke. Overall it’s an excellent secular book examining poverty cycles among those from Appalachia, from the perspective of ‘one who made it out.’

I read a Kindle short called My Seinfeld Year by Fred Stoller. You might remember Stoller as Everybody Loves Raymond’s whiny look-alike cousin. It’s well written and interesting about the background life of character actors and comedy writers.

Hearts of Fire: Eight Women in the Underground Church and Their Stories of Costly Faith. It’s published by Voice of  the Martyrs. I got a few chapters in and burst out crying as a mother fleeing murderous Muslim fanatics with torches and machetes crawled through the jungle and then exhausted, stopped to prepare her young children for imminent death. Tough but necessary book! There is nothing like reading about the courage of martyrs to make one grateful for the Lord’s decision to install me in the US in a comfortable life.

Warren Wiersbe’s Lonely People: Biblical Lessons on Understanding and Overcoming Loneliness (Living Lessons from God’s Word). I’m not lonely, lol. I am accumulating books for the church library or to hand out to Christian friends. I read them ahead of time to make sure they are solid in doctrine. I’ve seen too many church libraries and even pastor’s study shelves flooded with junk. So I read them before I give them. The book was slim, readable, and biblical. Wiersbe looked at six attributes that contribute to loneliness, which he distinguishes from solitude or lonesomeness. Wiersbe offers reasons for loneliness and biblical solutions.

I had three Banner of Truth magazines piled up and finished them. These are meaty, theological magazines. I especially enjoyed the November edition looking at the doctrine of Particular Atonement and October’s edition where the last days of Martin Luther were chronicled. I encourage you to subscribe. They publish 11 times per year, one of the issues is a double issue.

On the To-Read list, books I recommend to one and all,

Truth Or Territory: A Biblical Approach to Spiritual Warfare by Jim Osman. Pastor Osman is pastor of Kootenai Community Church. He is Justin Peters’ pastor, the preacher known for his discernment conferences and videos. Pastor Osman has another book coming out soon, too. A new book by Pastor Jim Osman on Psalm 73 and the prosperity of the wicked will be released in early 2017.

Justin Peters has a new book just released this week, also-

Do Not Hinder Them: A Biblical Examination of Childhood Conversion
I live in the Bible Belt where there’s a Baptist church around every corner. It is common for me to arrive at school on a Monday and a kindergarten or first grade child shares that ‘yesterday they got saved, they’d asked Jesus into their heart’. While I’m thrilled the child goes to church and learns about Jesus, I’ve seen too many children over the years grow up and abandon their commitment and fall away. I often mourn when greeted with “Jesus into my heart” news. From the book:

Jesus said, “Permit the children to come to Me and do not hinder them; for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14). Is this a verse in support of baptizing children who make a profession of faith in Christ as most evangelicals have supposed? If it is, why is it that so many of the children we baptize grow up to show little if any fruit of having been genuinely converted? Why do so many walk away from Christianity once they gain independence from the home? In Do Not Hinder Them, author and evangelist Justin Peters presents a compelling biblical case that both the nature of children and the nature of salvation warrant extreme caution before we baptize children who have made intellectual assent to the basics of the Gospel.

Reviving New England: The Key to Revitalizing Post-Christian America

At one time in history, New England was a light to the nations. From its origination, the Northeast region has been a spiritual powerhouse, leading the way for Christianity to flourish in America and beyond. However, after three centuries of vibrant Christian influence, it encountered a perfect storm comprised of false doctrine, liberalism, and materialism, which crippled the church, and plunged the region into spiritual darkness. In Reviving New England, Nate Pickowicz makes a case for the inestimable value of the region, and offers a series of biblical prescriptions for faithfulness

I’m from New England, and it’s heart-breaking to see the empty churches, failing churches, liberal churches, all in gloriously beautiful and historic buildings that once espoused the faith in truth and light.

Women’s Ministry in the Local Church, by J. Ligon Duncan, Susan Hunt (Paperback)

Susan Hunt and Ligon Duncan walk through the Scriptures to help readers better understand what it means to have an effective, biblical women’s ministry in the church. The benefits of women’s ministries are great: training and discipling, evangelizing, and reaching out to the poor and needy. This book, written by seasoned ministry leaders, provides many proven tools to help start a women’s ministry in your church.

Ok, if I sit here writing about reading for too long I will not get to read! Happy New Year, may the Lord bless you in all you do for Him and in Him.

books-1abooks-2a

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

2016 By the Numbers, part 1. Top blog essays this year

It was a good year, fast coming and fast leaving. It seems like it was just 2008, and now it’s nearly a decade later. Time hurries. Where does it go?

I haven’t done as much as I’d hoped for the Lord and yet I’m sure there are things I’ve done that I’m not aware of that pleased Him more than things I purposely did for Him which didn’t. I worked, laughed, studied, rested, helped, worshiped…all the things. I hope it was not striving after wind!

The Preacher wrote,

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

The end of the matter, the end of the year. All has been done…

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Before we get too maudlin, we do rejoice in His cyclical march of time and seasons. We even rejoice that there is nothing new under the sun. Our God is ever stable, never changing, the same yesterday, today and forever!

As for me, the march of time includes another blogging year. This year I started another, mirror blog to this one, over at WordPress. http://www.the-end-time.org. It’s a back-up in case the blogger blog gets suspended for “hate speech”, something that seemed to happen a lot after last June’s Supreme Court decision legitimizing (to the secular world.) homosexual marriage.

The Lord in His grace allowed me to blog each and every day, or more. I published over 365 essays that had the intent of glorifying Him and/or edifying the sisters in faith. Of the most popular essays, that is to say number of views, because one particular essay was certainly not popular, are the essays in the discernment spheres.

I write essays in three spheres: discernment, prophecy, and encouragement. Of the three kinds, the discernment essays garner the most views. Of the top ten viewed essays this year, 9 were discernment essays. Most of those discernment essays that received the most views were about Beth Moore. Apparently people still need warning about her. I would hope that the interest in discernment is because these essays help sisters grow in faith. There is nothing worse than false doctrine deceiving many, with the sole exception of dying in sins.

I know part of it is that people like a good fight, and the discernment essays to some are just that. Juicy fights they can wrap their fleshly mind around. But I write them because they are necessary. What someone does with them in their mind is up to them and the Holy Spirit. Discernment is so important to me, just as much as it was 12 months ago at the last year-end blog review and 8 years ago when I started this blog. I’ll relate an example of how important discernment is that I’d I shared on the blog last month.

I’ll follow that up with a real example that happened to me in the discernment realms two weeks ago. I write about the dangers of Beth Moore a lot. I’ve written about her numerous times. I was getting tired of writing about Beth Moore. Surely everyone knows she’s false. Surely everyone is up to speed, I’d begun to think. 

Well, someone, somewhere posted a link to an old essay I’d written about Beth Moore. It suddenly was getting a lot of traction. I mean, like thousands of views per day. I received an email from a younger woman. She said thank you for the essay, and she said “this is the first time I’ve ever heard anything bad about Beth Moore.” I wept in gratitude that the Spirit is so faithful. So yes, I point fingers, and I always will.

I was speaking with a young lady the other day about this and she said she didn’t know until recently there were problems with Beth Moore. So, discernment will continue.

Overall, I hope that every encouraging article, every discernment lesson, every prophecy explained, glorifies Jesus and helps someone out there. With that, here are the top ten viewed essays in 2016 on The End Time. After those, my own personal top favorite essays 🙂

10. “Anyone can find the dirt in someone”… How Facebook helps twist God’s Word
Facebook memes using God’s word…be careful. Facebook is wonderful for perpetuating false teaching and ridiculous memes. I’d written,

No matter what translation you look at the verse in, the sentiment expressed on the photo is not the same as the one stated in the Word. Every translation mentions evil, but the scripture photo mentions only good. … That’s the trouble with Twitter, Facebook, etc. Only half the verse is shown. Or it’s ripped from its context (Jeremiah 29:11 comes immediately to mind).

9. Here is the one non-discernment essay that made the top ten. Kay Cude is a Texas poet, an elder woman with wisdom in her mind and love for Jesus in her heart. He gave her a talent for combining the two in poetic language, and I’ve been blessed to be the recipient of it and allowed to publish her work here.

Here is an excerpt

8. Most of the discernment essays had to do with the ubiquitous and ever false Beth Moore. I cannot wait until the Lord stops her mouth. (Titus 1:11). This essay looks at the story she often tells, The Hairbrush. I have a personal connection to this story via her LPM lesson and a ladies retreat.

Discernment Lesson: Deconstructing Beth Moore’s most popular story

A third way to look at this popular story of course is to compare it directly to scripture. It’s hard to know exactly where to start because Moore doesn’t teach scripture. She teaches feelings, events, and stories. Joel Osteen waves his Bible at the beginning of every broadcast. The crawl along the bottom of the TV flashes scripture addresses, but Osteen never really says what the scripture is about. Thus he and Moore and others look like they are teaching the Bible, but they really aren’t.

7. Unbiblical divorce is an issue in Christendom. Two high-profile ministry parents, James R. White and Beth Moore, had daughters who divorced. One did so biblically nad publicly in 2016 and one did so secretly and quietly in 2013. This essay looked at both dovorces from women who say they are in the faith.

Two divorce cases: Summer White and Melissa Moore

6. Beth Moore again. People must need constant teaching as to why this dangerous woman must be avoided. This essay received over 4000 views. It’s a biblical look at the verse in Matthew 18:18–20 about what we bind on earth is bound in heaven, and how Moore’s increasing Charismaticism is destructive to solid exposition-

Beth Moore binding prayers

5. I looked at a sermon by Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Beth Moore teaching the exact same verse, and showed through a point-by-point discernment lesson how Moore’s varied from scripture, and why. Though it is helpful and biblical to point fingers at false teachers and warn, it is more helpful to show why and how. I seek to do that. However, be it known that I have no problem with pointing fingers, naming names, or warning incessantly in discernment for the protection and help of the weaker sisters. I am unapologetic and unhesitating about that, because the Bible tells us to do it, and because it is a spiritual gift the Holy Spirit delivered to me.

Discernment Lesson: Comparing a Beth Moore & Martyn Lloyd Jones teaching on on the same verse

4. Ravi Zacharias. What a sad essay I had to write with that one. No one is above being looked at for their teaching, if they claim to speak God’s words and do any evangelizing, witnessing, or missionary work etc., on His behalf. Ambassadors must be examined to see if they are:

A. Teaching rightly according to the word (not twisting or introducing false doctrine as per 2 Timothy 2:15),
B. Delivering the King’s FULL message (Acts 20:27).

Was there any part of God’s word Paul shrank from delivering? Was there any message Paul felt was too delicate, too incendiary, too strong for the people to hear? Was there any message Paul felt was not a  part of contending for the faith? No. However, there is much from the Word that Zacharias will not speak. My essay shared that, plus looked as his lack of discernment in partnering with heretics and also endeavoring in rhetoric and fine sounding arguments from philosophy. This essay resonated. It received almost 10,000 views.

On Discerning Ravi Zacharias: It’s time to say what needs to be said

3. My little blog gets help from some other bloggers when they link to mine. Thanks, fellow bloggers! Someone linked to this one, and it received over 12,000 views. Thank you so much!

The problem with tolerating false teachers is…

A friend and I were talking about the younger church generation. A kind of “Kids these days” conversation, lol. She said, “They’ve been swimming in Beth Moore stuff for so long they don’t know if they are even in troubled water.” She and I, and others I’ve spoken with, notice the younger generation of 16-25 year olds simply do not have a solid theological grounding. They do not approach Bible study credibly. They infuse it with feelings, mysticism, romanticism, and subjective experience. They think this is the norm.
This is wrong.
And it is our fault.

Home and Garden TV (HGTV) presently has on its schedule a very popular show called “Fixer Upper.” Its hosts are Chip and Joanna Gaines, a married couple from Waco Texas. The show gained popularity because of its wholesomeness and the design of the home-stager Joanna. It gained more popularity when local Baylor University and Gaines Alum Joanna partnered to produce a testimony video which allegedly shared her Christian faith. I was troubled by what I’d heard and seen in the video and more troubled when I’d watched three seasons of Fixer Upper straight through. The Gaines lifestyle didn’t seem to match up with what they were saying in interviews and videos and articles and on their show. So…I did two articles which looked first at Joanna’s testimony, and secondly at their life compared to the Bible and to what they say. To this day, these essays are the most popularly viewed on the blog. Number two received 18,410 views.

2. Looking at HGTV’s Fixer Upper Joanna Gaines’ testimony: Christianity, or Prosperity Gospel?

Several years ago a Waco business developer/realty/design/construction company generally named Magnolia run by Chip and Joanna Gaines were contacted to star in a HGTV fixer upper show. The first episode aired in April 2014 and has become an instant hit for the network. Ratings in the first season were through the roof. This phenomenon was largely attributed to the couple’s likability and charisma, good looks, and business savvy.

1. Below is part 2, the top blog essay of the year, 91,365 views. Unbelievers HATE lifestyle discernment essays. But we look at both the doctrine and the behavior of a person who claims Christ as their savior. When Paul was outlining the credentials of potential leaders and elders to Timothy, only one attribute related to skill. (“able to teach” 1 Timothy 3:2). The rest were behavior and lifestyle attributes.

The Hypocrisy of Chip and Joanna Gaines

With all the national attention given to folks who claim to be Christians, and have been given a platform to speak it or live it out for all to see, we should examine both their theology and their lifestyle to see if indeed what they are saying lines up with the Bible. In Ms Gaines’ case, her testimony was not biblical. That’s what we saw in yesterday’s essay. Today we examine the Gaines’s lifestyle.

Discernment still matters, sisters. Just because another year has passed and we have grown in faith, does not mean we have outgrown discernment. We haven’t. Some might find it distasteful, but beware. Dispensing with contending for the faith brings with it its own problems. There are always those born into the faith who do not know. Our own discernment must be, as Sinclair Ferguson says below, “constantly nourished”

What is Discernment?

Most of us doubtless want to distance ourselves from what might be regarded as “the lunatic fringe” of contemporary Christianity. We are on our guard against being led astray by false teachers. But there is more to discernment than this. True discernment means not only distinguishing the right from the wrong; it means distinguishing the primary from the secondary, the essential from the indifferent, and the permanent from the transient. And, yes, it means distinguishing between the good and the better, and even between the better and the best.

Thus, discernment is like the physical senses; to some it is given in unusual measure as a special grace gift (1 Cor. 12:10), but some measure of it is essential for us all and must be constantly nourished. The Christian must take care to develop his “sixth sense” of spiritual discernment. This is why the psalmist prays, “Teach me good judgment and knowledge” (Ps. 119:66).

Ferguson continues with defining discernment, showing 4 impacts of how discernment affects the way we live, and teaching how such discernment it to be obtained.

John MacArthur writes What is Biblical Discernment and Why is it Important?

In its simplest definition, discernment is nothing more than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. In other words, the ability to think with discernment is synonymous with an ability to think biblically.

So those are the top ten essays that the public viewed and consumed this year. My personal favorite essays, though, were

Wynter Awakeneth All My Care

Ex-Wham! singer George Michael dead

The Forgotten Victorian Craze for Collecting Seaweed, and other biblical thoughts on women’s roles

Jachin and Boaz, two named Temple columns

The beauty of creation at the microscopic level

East is from the west: cardinal directions in the Bible

I live a small life in obscurity. Can I really make a difference for God?

It was an ordinary day, and the woman was thirsty (I love, love, love the woman at the well story. It’s my favorite, along with Hagar in the desert)

God’s word goes out and does not return void: Faroe Islands

Relief in Christ, a soul rejoices

The curse of thorns and the crown of thorns

I love the encouragement essays and the praise essays. I like writing them and I pray they encourage others as well. I also love researching the natural history essays, learning about linen-making or the onions of the Nile or the animals in the Bible.

Lord willing I’ll still be blogging as much and in truth throughout 2017. Happy New Year all!