31 December 2015

"What Is This Strange Doctrine?"

What is this strange doctrine of regeneration?
Nothing, it seems to me, is quite so strange as the way in which man by nature always objects to the doctrine of regeneration. There is nothing also, I sometimes think, that so demonstrates the depth of sin in the human heart as this objection to the doctrine of the rebirth or being born again. Read the New Testament Scriptures, and you will find that men objected to it in those days. When our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ spoke about it, He was always persecuted. People disliked Him for mentioning it. When He began to expose the depth of iniquity in the human heart and to talk about a rebirth, they invariably misunderstood Him. They disliked it then, and it has always been the same ever since.

...The natural man, the unregenerate human heart, objected to this great and wondrous biblical doctrine of rebirth and regeneration. And it is equally true today. People sit and listen to an address or sermon on what is called the fatherhood of God or the brotherhood of man and they never object to it. When they are exhorted to live a better life, they never express any objection at all. They say that it is perfectly right, and even though they are reprimanded for not living better lives, they say that it is perfectly true and quite fair and that they could do better. But if a preacher stands before the natural man and says, "You must be born again—you must have a new life from God," they ask, "What is this strange doctrine?"

—Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Additional Resources
Equipping Eve: Counted Worthy to Suffer
Worthy Is the Lamb
Vessels of Mercy

25 December 2015

This 'n' That - Christmas Edition

A very merry Christmas to you! I pray this day brings you rest, peace, and an edifying time of meditating upon the glorious truths of our Savior's birth. May you proclaim His gospel with boldness to friends and family who are lost, and may you find sweet comfort and joy in His gracious Word this day.

On a far more trivial note, may your pie crust be flaky, your cookies be sweet, and your cocoa be creamy. And may you enjoy this Christmas-themed week in review (kind of):

From First to Second Advent

The twinkling lights, the joyful music, the seasonal scents. The clichéd, but inevitable and very real hustle and bustle of the season. The gatherings, the shopping, the wrapping. The menus, the lists, the crowds. Amid these things, we still find our way to the manger; but, mankind being an easily distracted creature, it is there that we stop. We take a snapshot of this familiar scene—Mary, Joseph, the Christ child, the angels, the shepherds, and a few well-placed animals—and we place it on our mantle as if it tells the totality of the tale, but for all of its miraculous glory, it is not the full story.

Man, though curious by nature, seems content to leave this Christmas story half-finished. Perhaps it is because the next few chapters do not easily harmonize with the gaiety that man has manufactured for the season. Yet, though our Savior first became man as a seemingly helpless infant, and though, if the story had stopped there, we would have reason to praise our great God, in truth and in spite of our undeserving state, there is far more to this story than a star and a stable.

24 December 2015

For Your Christmas Eve

Church of Hasle, christmas eve 2008 B 
via photopin (license)
For those of you who are unable to gather at a church for worship this Christmas Eve, I would like to offer an alternative. While "Internet church" and live streaming are no substitute for true and real fellowship, I nevertheless believe you will be blessed by tuning in for the live stream of the Christmas Eve service at Grace Immanuel Bible Church in Jupiter, Florida. This church is pastored by Jerry Wragg, whose teachings have been a great blessing to me. Why not join me in worshiping from a distance with the people of GIBC this Christmas Eve?

You may access information about this service by clicking here.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Additional Resource
A Gift for My Readers this Christmas Eve

For Unto Us a Child Is Born

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

21 December 2015

Equipping Eve: Simeon's Psalm

Mary and Joseph. The angels. The shepherds. The wise men. The innkeeper. And of course, the baby Jesus. These are the people we think of when we remember the Christmas story as told in the gospels. But there is another important character introduced in the early days of the life of Christ who often seems to be forgotten. Open your Bibles to Luke 2 and join Erin in a study of Simeon's psalm.

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

Click here for a list of resources used in this episode of Equipping Eve.

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: The Word Made Flesh
Equipping Eve: True Worship
Equipping Eve: Expect the World to Act Like the World

20 December 2015

Sunday Morning Christmas Praise

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
(Luke 2:8–14)

18 December 2015

This 'n' That

Well, it's official. Christmas is only one week away. One week. Hard to believe, isn't it? Now, it is no secret that I love Christmas, in spite of the fact that each year my life seems busier than it was the previous December and, as a result, I barely have a chance to even enjoy the holidays. But there are two things that come with this holiday season that I will be happy to see disappear again until next year: Santa hats and reindeer costumes.

Earlier this week, I pulled up to a stoplight on my way to work and looked in my rearview mirror. Another car pulled up behind me and there, behind the wheel, sat a grown woman all by herself in her car…wearing a Santa hat. Sigh. Really? There were no children to be seen in the car and for all intents and purposes she seemed to be your average mid-to-late 30-something woman. Except for that Santa hat. Why? What purpose could one possibly find in wearing a Santa hat out in public, or anyplace, for that matter? I don't mean to sound like a grouch or a grinch, but I do not understand. Have our brains dwindled so pathetically that we think this is acceptable attire just because the stores are decorated and "Here Comes Santa Claus" is playing on the radio?

And then there are the reindeer costumes. Oh, not costumes for people. No…costumes for your car. What is that about? I also do not understand this phenomenon. Is there some sort of rule that says if you drive a minivan you have to dress it up like Rudolph every November and December? Because if there is, that would be a huge incentive to never buy a van. Ever.
Nobody likes to wear antlers.
(No, this isn't my cat.)

These fads make me sad, mostly because it demonstrates that, for all the years that these items have been in existence, mankind still apparently has not figured out how stupid they really are.

They also make me sad because in silliness like Santa hats and Rudolph antlers I see an attempt by adults to cling to a tattered fragment of the so-called "Christmas spirit." Maybe, just maybe, if we engage in foolish, childlike behavior, that "magic" we used to embrace at Christmastime as children will still weave its way into the fabric of our adult lives. These silly practices ultimately demonstrate, in a rather sad and pitiful way, the desperate need of men and women to repent of their sin and turn to Christ for salvation. When God saves us by bringing us to repentance and faith, that worldly, fleeting "magic" of Christmas is replaced by a hope and a joy that transcends all earthly pleasures. Though it sounds cliché, when we have been saved, we finally know the true meaning of Christmas, and we realize that it is something for which we must praise God all the time, not merely once a year. We no longer rely on Christmas carols and blinking lights to make us feel "Christmassy." Rather, we find that we are filled with a joy that goes beyond our circumstances. Whether in trial or in pleasant times, we find that, in Christ, our hope and our joy rests beyond this transient life into the one that is to come—a life that Jesus promises we will spend with Him.

Merry Christmas, dear Christian. May  you enjoy the great gift of salvation that was purchased for you by the very blood of your Savior. And may you joyfully serve the One who came to serve, your Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.

With that, I hope you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

13 December 2015

Sunday Morning Christmas Praise

But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.
(Micah 5:2)

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1–7)

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

11 December 2015

This 'n' That

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
In his recent sermon from John 16, John MacArthur asked, "Why do people not run to Christ so they can have one who loves them, who is the sovereign of the universe?" Indeed, why do people not run to the One who offers them perfect love, hope, and faith? MacArthur answered his question as quickly as he asked it: because people love their sin.
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. (John 3:19-20)
photo: One Who Sees the Light and the Shadows
photopin (license)
But, Christian (if indeed you are a Christian), read John 16:33 again and realize what a glorious, beautiful, undeserved promise it is! To know all that the Savior, the Christ, offers to undeserving sinners, and to know that, of no merit of your own, before time began, He chose you to be a recipient of these promises and blessings…oh, there is no more comforting thought, is there?

In these bleak and depressing days, and at a time of year when the world and its ruler seek to distract our thoughts away from the One who matters, take heart in these words of Christ. Are they not an encouragement to set (or reset, as the case may be), your mind and heart on Him during this busy time of year? Are they not an encouragement to persevere in the midst of persecution, however mild or severe, trial, testing, and discouragement? Do they not offer motivation to go about actively mortifying your sin so that you may grow to be more and more like Christ and serve Him well during your days on this earth? Indeed, these words offer all these things, so dear Christian, take courage.

Now please, take as much time as you need to ponder and pray about these wondrous truths of Christ. And when you are done—and only when you are done—take a few moments to relax and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

07 December 2015

Equipping Eve: The War on Christmas

'Tis the season for angry Christians to boycott secular businesses that don't wish their customers a "Merry Christmas." But who is really waging this so-called "war on Christmas"? Erin considers this question from a biblical perspective on this episode of Equipping Eve.

Click here to listen to the latest episode of Equipping Eve.

Click here for a list of resources referenced on this episode of Equipping Eve.

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: What Happens at Small Group
Equipping Eve: Perfect Perspicuity
Equipping Eve: Counted Worthy to Suffer

06 December 2015

Sunday Morning Christmas Praise

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:18–21)

What Child Is This?

Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name 'Immanuel,' which translated means, 'God with us.'"

And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

(Matthew 1:22–25)

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

04 December 2015

This 'n' That

I am that person. Yes…I love Christmas music. And while I obviously prefer the beautiful hymns and carols of Christmas that exalt our Lord and Savior (my favorite is O Come, O Come Emmanuel), I don't mind the secular classics like White Christmas (I mean, really, who doesn't like a little Bing Crosby? If you don't, I have to question your sanity) or The Christmas Song or Winter Wonderland, so long as you keep Here Comes Santa Claus or I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas far, far away from me!

What I do not understand, and what I simply am not okay with, are pseudo-Christian Christmas tunes that are played over and over and over (and over and over) on the "Christian" radio station. You know the ones of which I speak—they have terrible lyrics and even worse melodies.That's right, I'm looking at you, Christmas Shoes. I suppose there really is no difference between these songs and your typical "contemporary Christian" music—i.e., both types are horrible and should be banned from the airwaves forever. The moral of the story? There are two: first, if you want to listen to Christian music, choose songs with theologically rich and doctrinally sound lyrics; second, create your own Christmas music playlist.

Now that we have that clear, why not put a little Bing on in the background while you sit back and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

29 November 2015

Sunday Morning Christmas Praise

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

(Luke 1:26-38)

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

27 November 2015

This 'n' That

Looks delicious. (Source)
Well, I hope all of my US readers enjoyed a restful and blessed Thanksgiving yesterday. Are you full yet? Or do you need just one more piece of pie? After all, pie is by default a very healthy food. Fruit filling? Check. Fruit is healthy. Whipped cream? Check. Healthy bones need calcium. Perfectly flaky pie crust? Check. Because such a nutritious dish deserves a proper and pretty presentation. And let's face it, a little flour and Crisco never hurt anyone, no matter what those wacky, go-gluten-free-before-your-insides-explode blogs tell you.

And now it's on to shopping…right? Oh dear, Black Friday. I do not understand Black Friday. Perhaps more specifically, I do not understand those individuals who actually venture into stores on Black Friday. Why are we shopping for more stuff? I get it, we all need material things to survive, and sometimes we need big items, like appliances or electronics, and these are undoubtedly cheapest this time of year. But these can all also be purchased online. Please, don't let this happen to you. Black Friday truly is a horrible, awful commentary on mankind. Total depravity never shines more brightly than in the electronics department at Walmart on the day after Thanksgiving, I guess.
No. No, no, no, no, no.

My suggestion for today? The holidays are a busy time, so why not pause now to deliberately nourish your spiritual life? Many of us spent yesterday filling our bellies, but what priority do we give to the nourishment of our soul? Let the world act like the world, but let us be different, especially in this season when the "love of stuff" reigns around us. Let us love Christ and put that on clear display, for His glory, not ours.

So today, perhaps you might want to relax with your Bible. Or listen to a few good sermons, or read a good theologically sound book. And of course, I fully expect that you'll want to sit down with a cup of coffee or cocoa and a piece of leftover pie while you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

26 November 2015

Worthy Is the Lamb

Thankful for family. Thankful for friends. Thankful for a warm house, clothing, food, and a job that provides the income for each. Thankful for safety and good health. Thankful for the birds that sing a good morning song outside the window each day. Thankful for beautiful sunrises and faithfully vivid sunsets. Thankful for a purring kitty. Thankful for memories both pleasant and painful. Thankful for lessons learned and trials overcome. Thankful for each breath, each tear, each laugh, each smile. Thankful for an abundance of brothers and sisters who share in the inheritance of Christ. Thankful for a local church home where the Word of God is faithfully and boldly proclaimed every week.

Yes, there is much for which to give thanks this day and everyday. The list of transient, tangible blessings could go on and on for pages. And while these are all amazing, gracious, beautifully wonderful gifts from a loving and generous God, ultimately, there is only one gift worthy of our wholehearted, overflowing thanks.

22 November 2015

Equipping Eve: A Blessed State of Affairs

The idea of "blessing" has been hijacked by the prosperity movement, but the reality is that those who have been saved are blessed by God. But how is this blessing determined? How is it measured? What does it look like? Is blessing a state of mind, or a state of affairs?

Click here to listen to this episode of Equipping Eve.

Click here for a list of resources used in this episode of Equipping Eve.

Additional Resources
Equipping Eve: What Happens at Small Group

Sunday Morning Praise

Thanks to God

20 November 2015

This 'n' That

Look, I get it: you like to be comfortable. Hey, I like to be comfortable! It's one of the reasons I'm thankful my workplace has a casual dress policy. Let's face it, we ladies especially are going to be more productive if we aren't tottering and freezing in heels and hose, respectively.

I'm also thankful that I live in a town that isn't, for lack of a more respectable term, stuck-up. Been there, done that. I've lived in those places where you feel as though your hair and makeup must be impeccable before you can even run to the store for that one forgotten dinner ingredient, lest someone glance at you sideways with that judgmental, fashionista stare. Yes, I like comfort.

I do not
There is a line, however, that can be crossed. And that line begins with pajama pants…in the grocery store. Yes…pajama pants. I do not understand. Can you not at least grab a pair of sweatpants? Do I really need to see you in your fleece jammies with your favorite childhood character splattered across them? Have you no dignity at all? Yes, there is a point where one can be too casual and too comfortable, and jammie pants at the grocery store is that point.

And if we're going to take away a lame sermon illustration from this little discussion, let it be this: do not allow your time in the Word and in prayer become too casual or comfortable. Do not let it be an afterthought, and do not forget the One whose Word you are reading and the One whose throne you are approaching.

All of that being said, there is no required dress code for your weekly round-up. So get comfy and take some time to relax as you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

19 November 2015

Vessels of Mercy

Like every potter he first of all makes the outlines in the clay. You may have seen a man at work executing designs in glass. Perhaps at the very first moment you may form a rough guess of what the whole thing is to be, though the ornament and elaboration which constitute the main part of the beauty you cannot yet discover.

Certain it is, that the moment a man begins to be prepared for heaven by the grace of God in his soul, you may see the outlines of what he is to be, although it is but the bare outlines. Shall I tell you what those outlines are? There is first of all in him—faith in Christ; a simple, child-like trust in him that did hang upon the tree. There is next in him another mark of the potter's hand—that is love to Christ—a love that is strong as death, though sometimes it seems to be feeble as a worm. There is in him also a hope that makes not ashamed, and a joy which makes glad his countenance. It is but the bare outline, as I have said, for the glory which excels is not there. The vase is only in its embryo, but yet sufficiently developed to give prophecy of its finished form; as for the pictures that shall be inlaid, as for all the many colors that shall be used on it, you cannot guess as yet, nor could you, unless you could climb to the potter's seat and see the plan upon which he looks as the clay revolves upon the wheel.

Dear brothers and sisters, have you anything in you as yet of the great outlines? Can you say in truth, "I believe on the Lord Jesus?" Fear not then, my hearer, you are a vessel of mercy.

— Charles Spurgeon
And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. (Romans 9:23-24)
Further Reading
The Veil is Not Rolled Up, but Rent
Resting in the Immutability of God
Christ is All

13 November 2015

This 'n' That

Is it weird that I get excited when the new Menards ad arrives each week? Am I the only one who thinks that Menards is the greatest home improvement store of them all?

I love the smell of sawdust and I loved
watching my grandfather in his workshop.
It's true, this may seem like an odd store for a woman—a woman blogger, no less—to enjoy, but I have a good reason. Menards smells like sawdust. My grandfather's workshop smelled like sawdust. My grandfather loved Menards. For me, Menards = memories of grandpa.

I think of my grandfather a lot at this time of the year. With Veteran's Day, I remember his curious and interesting stories of life as a Navy "Seabee." With hunting season in full swing, I remember the many years growing up and making molasses taffy for him to take along for his hunting trips. As December approaches, and as I anticipate the joy-filled season of Christmas, a somber cloud looms as I recall that December 21 many years ago, the day my grandfather died. I miss my grandpa. I look forward to seeing him again one day.

The moral of the story? Do not mock my love of Menards. Also, cherish the memories you have with loved ones, but do not cling too tightly to those people. Our lives here truly are but a vapor. Like the grass that withers, we too will one day die. And yet, while this body dies, our soul does not. Whether we have been brought to repentance and faith in Christ, or whether we spend this earthly life at war with God, we will live forever. If you have been saved, do you long to see your Savior, or do you think to yourself, "I still want to see/do/experience ______ in this life"? This life is not forever, and it could end far more abruptly than you anticipate. Are you ready to meet Christ? Please, dear Christian, pry your fingers from this world, and pray that God might help you place your hope in and focus on the One who is, who was, and who is to come, the Lord Jesus Christ.

So...while I highly recommend you do some Christmas shopping at Menards, I don't recommend that you traipse off to the store without first enjoying your week in review (kind of):

06 November 2015

This 'n' That

I have to admit, there are a lot of weeks that I struggle to compile this post. Time constraints aside, these days I simply am finding less and less of interest on the internet. I don't think I'm alone in saying that many of us are weary by now of all the discernment blogs and their tendency to act like the proverbial dog with a bone. Yes, we get it, it is a bad idea to listen to so-and-so. Let's move on, shall we? As for so-called "Christian" media, well…one look at The Christian Post tells you that it's simply a waste of time. Not to mention that, for some reason, every time I visit The Christian Post website, my computer basically freezes and remains utterly useless until I can finally close out of the page. It's a sign. Clearly that website is possessed and is trying to possess my computer. Thankfully, my electronics are safeguarded against such demonic possession by means of Osteen-anointed holy water (and on that note, this article from 15 years ago is mildly hilarious).

I couldn't have staged this
photo better myself.
And forget about finding anything of import on Facebook. This week I posted on Facebook and Twitter: "Honest question for all of us: Does your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram timeline scream, "Hey, look at ME!"? If so, it might be time to reassess." It's true, isn't it? Nothing feeds our narcissism like dozens of people "liking" a picture of us, our children, or our latest achievement. But…that topic is a soapbox for another time...

But don't worry, I've not yet acquired the opinion that the internet is downright evil. It is, after all, my primary forum, so I best not bite the hand that feeds me (even though it doesn't actually feed me). Further, there are bits and pieces of interest floating about, as evidenced by this list each Friday. And let's face it, it just wouldn't be Friday without it, would it? So as you welcome autumn into your home, why not grab a piece of pie, a cup of coffee, tea, or cocoa, and sit back to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

31 October 2015

The Reformer You Need to Know: Meet William Farel

Today we mark the anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church at Wittenburg. It is a great day in the history of the Church. Yes, today is Reformation Day.

The Reformation Wall depicts Guillaume Farel, Johannes Calvin,
Théodore de Bèze and John Knox
When we think of the Reformation, we often think of the "big names." Men like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Ulrich Zwingli dominate our thoughts of this era of Church history. The Master's Seminary has helpfully shared brief details of some of those men who began the work of reformation long before that fateful day of nailing in 1517. Today, however, on this Reformation Day in 2015, I would like to introduce you to another important presence of the Reformation: William Farel.

30 October 2015

This 'n' That

I will admit, candy corn is
I am sure I've said it before, but I do not understand Halloween. More specifically, I do not understand adults who celebrate Halloween. I just…don't get it. It actually isn't even the pagan elements of the celebration that bother me most. Don't get me wrong, those are most certainly troublesome, but sometimes I struggle in wondering which is more disconcerting: the celebration of death (which, let's be honest, ought not surprise us considering the state of the world), or the fact that so many grown adults seem to enjoy dressing in costume and celebrating this holiday more than children actually do.

The notion that Halloween has become an adult holiday was making headlines back in 2012, when CNN explained in a report:
The shift from children's to adult holiday can be traced to the 1970s, when Halloween street festivals in several gay neighborhoods in the U.S. began to transform into adult parties featuring lavish and over-the-top costumes.

In the mid-1980s, Halloween gained even more traction among adults, helped by the Coors Brewing Company, who ran an ad campaign featuring TV horror host Elvira. According to Morton, the marketing ploy helped make the ghoulish night a "beer holiday" in the mold of Superbowl Sunday and St. Patrick's Day.…

Halloween also benefits from being seen as a secular celebration, open to all and flexible enough to adapt to the prevailing cultural current…

Hm. And now we see, it really all comes down to…depravity. How utterly unsurprising.

So, with that I suppose I'll prepare myself to venture out into a world of costumed adults. As for you, why not grab that bag of candy that you really had no intention of sharing anyway, and munch away while you enjoy your week in review (kind of):

26 October 2015

Women Bloggers and Biblical Commands

I once received an email from a male reader who rebuked me for not having a big, bold banner across the top of my website that announced that I was a female. The implication was that, since I was discussing biblical truth and "teaching," I was in sin if a man visited my site, read, and learned.

As you can see, that banner never did find its way to this homepage, but the issue raised is one that has never gone away. What is the role of the female blogger? Is she being disobedient to the Lord by using a venue such as this blog to discuss biblical truths?

My fellow female laborer in the Lord, Michelle Lesley, recently asked the question of several women bloggers, and has compiled their answers in her post, "In Case You Were Wondering: Are Female Bloggers Violating Scripture By 'Teaching' Men?"

I was honored to be asked by Michelle to contribute to that post, and my complete answer to her question is below. I encourage you to visit Michelle's blog, however, to read the responses shared by other trusted women of the Lord.

24 October 2015

Equipping Eve: Perfect Perspicuity

The word of the day is "perspicuity." There are those in the professing church who would say that true humility admits that we cannot know what the Bible really means. Such a vague view of Scripture has not been the historic position of the Church through the ages, however. Why? Because God's Word is clear about its clarity; it is perfect in its perspicuity.

Click here to listen to this latest episode of Equipping Eve.

Click here for a list of resources referenced in this episode of Equipping Eve.

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: God's Final Word
Equipping Eve: Life Verses and Labyrinths
Equipping Eve: What God Says About His Word
Equipping Eve: Thou Changest Not

23 October 2015

This 'n' That

Sometimes we need to step back and refocus on the Son.
I'm tired. Weary. Not just physically, but mentally. Perhaps even spiritually. And not just weary of the hustle and bustle of everyday life. No, that can be remedied with a good night's sleep or a completed to-do list. I am weary of two things: the world and its idle pursuits, and the professing church and her idle pursuits.

I am tired of blogging alarms going off every time one false teacher speaks at another false teacher's church or conference. After all, should we expect anything different? I am simultaneously weary and frustrated by some personalities in Christendom who, if examined, fail to engage in ethical, trustworthy journalism. I am even more exhausted by those "discerning" Christians who follow such men and/or women like lemmings. My annoyance with fence-sitters and compromisers increases daily. I have grown exasperated by the growing number of Christians who so easily are enraptured by the ongoing, growing political conversation. Those who think that even the most conservative candidate can "save" America are woefully deceived.

And yet, it is not ultimately about what annoys me or you or any of us. The point is, all of these types of individuals have lost their focus. To be sure, any one of us may unfix our gaze from Christ amid the trials, stresses, and busyness of life, but when our distraction becomes what defines us, or becomes what dictates our day, then we must stop, repent, and refocus. On Christ. On His Word. On His promises. If we do not, then we are really no different from the world. It is my prayer that this blog will always point its readers back to Christ, and not find itself wrapped up in these frivolities. Would you pray with me to that end?

In all of this, however, and though some may think it to be frivolous, I hope that you have not grown weary of enjoying your week in review (kind of): 

16 October 2015

This 'n' That

Some weeks there just isn't much to say, or not enough time to write what I would like. Those are the weeks when I say to myself, "You know, my readers probably just need to hear from someone far more wise, far more learned, far more wonderful." And those are the days when I turn to the great men of old who have gone before us in Church history and who have left behind the treasure of their words and spiritual insights. With that, I turn this week's intro over to the great Puritan, Thomas Watson:
Thomas Watson
When God calls a man by His grace, he cannot but come. You may resist the minister’s call, but you cannot the Spirit’s call. The finger of the blessed Spirit can write upon a heart of stone, as once He wrote His law upon tables of stone. God’s words are creating words; when He says, ‘Let there be light’, there was light, and when He says, ‘Let there be faith,’ it shall be so. When God called Paul, he answered to the call. ‘I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision’ (Acts 26:19). God rides forth conquering in the chariot of His gospel; He makes the blind eyes see, and the stony heart bleed. If God will call a man, nothing shall lie in the way to hinder; difficulties shall be united, the powers of hell shall disband. ‘Who hath resisted his will?’ (Rom. 9:19). God bends the iron sinew, and cuts asunder the gates of brass (Psalm 107:6). When the Lord touches a man’s heart by His Spirit, all proud imaginations are brought down, and the fort-royal of the will yields to God. 
(Thomas Watson, All Things for Good, 108-109, thomaswatsonquotes.com)
Aren't you glad I handed over the reigns? All that is left to say is, "Amen and amen." Now go ahead and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

10 October 2015

Equipping Eve: Interview with Phil Johnson (Part 2)

In this episode of Equipping Eve, Erin continues her discussion with Phil Johnson, Executive Director of Grace to You. It's a potpourri conversation, covering topics such as women's ministries, Bible study, and the apparent doctrinal downgrade within the visible church.

Click here to listen to this latest episode of Equipping Eve.

Click here to listen to sermons by Phil Johnson.

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: Interview with Phil Johnson (Part 1)
Equipping Eve: Counted Worthy to Suffer
Equipping Eve: Thou Changest Not

09 October 2015

This 'n' That

Some of you may recall my confession a couple of years ago that art fairs are one of my guilty pleasures. Well, last weekend found me at another local art fair and the excursion brought an interesting twist. As I walked down the street toward the festivities, I looked up, and there on the corner was the local funeral home…advertising an open house. Yes, an open house. And yes, there was a banner.

Better yet, there was free popcorn. Sadder still, I had already seen many people walking back to their cars with little bags of said popcorn. So apparently the gimmick worked. But I have to wonder, what does one do at a funeral home open house? Do they display their selection of coffins and urns? Do they take you into the basement and show you where they embalm the bodies? I do not understand. Open houses are typically for less morbid events, so what was the purpose of this? There is something particularly macabre about munching on freshly popped popcorn while wandering the halls of a building designed to house the dead before laying them "to rest."

Further, I cannot help but wonder, were any of the visitors told this one essential piece of information: that it is appointed unto man once to die, and then comes judgment? I doubt it. Decorative coffins and elaborate floral arrangements do nothing for the person whose soul has already reached its destination. I almost wished I had had a competing banner: "Repent, and believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ so that your soul may be saved from the wrath of a just and holy God." But then, that would be a really big banner.

Well, this week's roundup is probably no comparison to free popcorn and coffin peeks, but it will have to suffice. So grab that bag of Orville Redenbacher out of the microwave, then sit back and enjoy your week in review (kind):

02 October 2015

This 'n' That

The God who created the heavens is the God
of all wisdom.
We are surrounded by the wisdom of this world. A world which knows nothing of the wisdom that is from above (James 3:17) is the world which consumes our lives: whether it is work, school, or perhaps friends or family, the world's wisdom appears to dominate. But does it really, or is it merely an illusion?
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,
Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe... 
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”
(1 Corinthians 1:18-31)
The wisdom of God—the true wisdom that comes from above—this is what dominates. Though for a little while it seems as though the philosophies of men will prevail, we can know that it is God's wisdom which saves and sanctifies. And it is God's wisdom which will one day decimate the wisdom of this age.

If you are a Christian, aren't you thankful for this wisdom, and for your all-wise God? Aren't you thankful for the divine wisdom which chose to bring salvation to men by means of Christ and His work on the cross? Aren't you thankful for this wisdom which sanctifies? Do you seek this wisdom from above? I pray you do. Wondering where to begin your search? Open your Bible and read.

And of course, though it is not a biblical mandate, there is an element of wisdom that emerges each time you take a few moments to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

25 September 2015

This 'n' That

The pope is in town. Well, he's not actually in my town, but he is on US soil. Did you watch the mass earlier this week that was held in Washington, D.C.? What a sad and pitiable display of blasphemy and idolatry! I arrived home from work just in time to see the pope re-sacrifice Christ yet again. And then the hoards of people in attendance proceeded to receive what they believe is the actual body of the Lord Jesus Christ. I could only sigh.

This is just one of the many sad elements of Roman Catholic doctrine: the constant re-sacrificing of Christ. The crucifix that hangs in the Catholic Church, or around the neck of the faithful Catholic, is a sad commentary that declares that their Savior is no Savior at all, for if Christ has not been raised then our faith is in vain (1 Cor 15:14). The wonderful truth is, however, that the Lord Jesus Christ lives! He died and he rose (Matt 28:6; Rev 1:18). He died as the perfect, atoning sacrifice for the sins of all who would believe (Heb 10:12, 14), and He died once (Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 3:18). And He only had to die once because His sacrifice was sufficient to cover the sins of those who are His (Heb 10:12, 14).

I'm so thankful for the sufficient sacrifice of Christ, aren't you? On a far, far lesser scale, I'm also thankful that today is Friday. It's a beautiful autumn day and it seems the perfect time to grab a cookie (because who doesn't love cookies?) and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

20 September 2015

18 September 2015

This 'n' That

Interpreting talk-to-text is like trying to corral buffalo:
Possible, but laborious.
You probably aren't aware of this, but I actually wrote last week's This 'n' That during my commute. Don't worry, I wasn't typing while driving. I was using the talk-to-text function on my phone. Yeah…bad idea.

When I got home and sat down to transcribe my notes, this is what I saw, in part anyway:
already just messed Clinzo Staley...
We hate our soon...
if we have been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ and Shirley... 
Wait—who is Shirley?

So there you go. As you can see, I made the necessary edits for last week's post. But this week? Well, once you've appealed to Clinzo Staley, there just isn't much more to say, is there? So take a deep breath, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and take a few moments to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

12 September 2015

Equipping Eve: Counted Worthy to Suffer

These days, we hear many Christian leaders talking about the very real possibility of a rise in the persecution of Christians. What should be our reaction to this? Do we cower? Join the latest political rally? Form a picket line? What about rejoicing? What about thanking the Lord? In this episode of Equipping Eve, we turn to the book of Acts to observe how the earliest Christians reacted to persecution in their time.

Click here to listen to this latest episode of Equipping Eve.

Click here for a list of resources and Scripture verses referenced in this episode of Equipping Eve.

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: Don't Listen to the Voice
Equipping Eve: Thou Changest Not
Equipping Eve: Expect the World to Act Like the World

11 September 2015

This 'n' That

There really is no appropriate picture to post when
discussing infections, but this is usually how
I feel when I have a sinus infection.
Infections are gross and consuming, aren't they? Whether it is a sinus infection, an infected wound, or something more systemic, once an infection enters the body if it is not treated immediately it will be persistent, pervasive, and detrimental.

To view it from a more spiritual angle, we would do a disservice to mankind to describe sin as a mere infection or disease. Sin is, after all, innate in every man from the very beginning of life. Of course, those who have been saved are given new hearts and new minds and new natures but, even following regeneration, we are not perfect—we still sin. But do we love our sin, or hate it? Do we tolerate it, or mortify it? If we have been saved, then the answer to each of these questions must be the latter: we hate our sin and we mortify it when it is revealed to us.

If we allow an infection to fester and to grow, it will eventually cause death. As believers, we cannot experience spiritual death, but if we have been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ, then surely it is our inner desire to serve Him and to obey Him, and to do that by seeking to eliminate the sin that still plagues us. One day we will be glorified and we will stand before God cloaked in the righteousness of Christ. But until that day, let us not serve our Lord as dirty vessels. Let us repent daily, and seek to have the Lord cleanse us daily from our sin. May we serve Him well, may we serve Him purely, may we serve Him cleanly. May we be convicted daily, even hourly, of the ways in which we bring a tarnish upon our witness of Him. And may we thank Him daily for His forgiveness, grace, and mercy, and for the salvation that He purchased on our behalf.

Go ahead and spend some time before the Lord in humble repentance and thanksgiving. Then come back later and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

Repost: Sovereignty in Tragedy and Remembering 9/11

Goodbyes were spoken too quickly, too flippantly, too curtly that day.

"I love yous" were mumbled, barely detectable beneath the breath of busyness.

"I'm sorrys" and "I forgive yous" were neglected until an evening that never arrived.

photo credit: paulwoolrich via photopin cc 
"Jesus Christ lived the perfect life that you cannot and died that you may live. Repent of your sin and believe upon Him, the only true Lord and Savior"—utterance of these words was postponed until a more convenient day. But that day never came.

Fourteen years ago today, millions around the world stood in bewildered astonishment, mouths agape, tears silently rolling, as inconceivable terror and tragedy took aim at a seemingly impenetrable America. Shock could not begin to describe the first reaction of most. Shock, followed by grief, followed by fear.

But there is One who was not shocked that day. One who knew exactly when and where each plane would strike. One who knew each soul whose life would end. One who knew the unspoken words of the hearts of those souls. One who knew the eternal destination of each and every soul that perished. One who had long ago ordained the end from the beginning.

09 September 2015

The Gender Debate and Dress-Up's Expiration Date

Playing pretend and playing dress-up is a natural part of life for children.

This blogger went through a phase at a very young age when I desired to be a cat. A year or two later, I recall wanting to be the character Penny from Inspector Gadget. Let's face it, that computer book she carried was pretty fantastic, and she always managed to defeat Dr. Claw, even if everybody thought it was ultimately her Uncle Gadget who had saved the day. Later, I aspired to be a pop singer, and was certain I was destined to be a star.

Well…many, many years later, none of these whims have come to pass. Why? Because sometimes what you think you want to be reality, simply cannot be reality. I could not be a cat because I was a human. I could not be Penny because, well, she was a cartoon character. And I could not be a pop singer because I am tone deaf and uncoordinated. Nobody pays money to hear a wounded sparrow sing and trip her way across a stage.

It has been said that you cannot always have what you want. As it turns out, in spite of what public school may have told us growing up, we cannot always be what we want, either. The days of playing dress-up eventually come to an end when we realize our innate characteristics and our limitations. Eventually, we all grow up, and the days of playing pretend must end.

This is because some attributes are simply unchangeable. Recent days here in America have challenged this notion. Men have decided that they are really women; whites have decided that they are actually black. But are these notions reality, or are they mere delusions that society is ignorant enough to celebrate?

04 September 2015

This 'n' That

Well, I owe each and every one of you an apology. Here it is, September 4, and I never told you about this:

I know, I am really sorry. All this time, I knew that the Holy Spirit had been scheduled for revival at this tiny church and yet I never shared it with you. Can you please forgive me? I promise that the next time I am offered a peek into the Holy Spirit's calendar, I will let you know.

Oy. I don't know what's more ridiculous—the people who schedule revivals, or the people who are gullible enough to think that a revival has been scheduled. Both are silly, so ignore the scheduled revivals and instead sit back and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

29 August 2015

Equipping Eve: Don't Listen to The Voice

Read John 1:1-5. Now read those same verses from The Voice "Bible translation." Can you hear the hiss of the serpent? This episode of Equipping Eve takes The Voice to task and examines what this passage actually says. Plus, happiness according to Pope Francis.

Click here to listen to this latest episode of Equipping Eve.

Click here for a list of resources for this episode of Equipping Eve.

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: God's Final Word
Equipping Eve: What Is Truth?
Equipping Eve: Thou Changest Not
Equipping Eve: Expect the World to Act Like the World

28 August 2015

This 'n' That

I love bookstores, and I lament that so many of them have closed nationwide. It was a pleasant surprise, then, a couple of weeks ago to come across a rather large Barnes and Noble. Upon entering, I walked right over to the section of journals and gifts. Why bother looking at actual books when Amazon is always cheaper?

As I perused the shelves of journals and photo albums, some plain leather, some slobbering with frou-frou flowers and corny sayings, I spied the product that you see to your right.

Ah, yes, the selfie—the defining icon of our day. It is, after all, all about us, isn't it? That is what social media would tell us, and that is what we affirm to one another each time we "like" someone's latest selfie (or one of the many, many pictures of their children) on Facebook. In fact, I ask you, parent, do you spend more time looking at your child through the lens of your iPhone than not? If so, I beg you to repent.

The reality is, long before the days of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like, we all took photos and attempted to preserve memories with our families. But we didn't share every one of these with our friends, let alone near-strangers. We did not feel the need to document, in word or in photo, every waking moment of our lives so as to offer a play-by-play to others. We enjoyed our vacations without desiring to spur jealousy in others by posting daily pictures of sand and sun. Our kids traversed off to their first day of school—usually after posing for the obligatory photo—but the photo was preserved for future walks down memory lane, not distributed for all within eyeshot to share their thoughts and comments.

To be sure, it is a sign of the age in which we live that we are daily inundated and confronted with a narcissistic, selfie culture. But, Christian, we are not to be of the world! Look at your Facebook page. Does it reflect the world? Is it filled with pictures of self and family? What is your motivation for posting these? Are you seeking affirmation and approval and compliments from others? What about your Twitter stream (and Twitter is my social media of choice, so this hits home)? Your Instagram account? Have you, in essence, filled your own "selfie scrapbook" by means of these social media accounts?

Please, do not fill the comment box with cries of "Legalist!" No, rather, go, examine yourself and examine your heart and motivations. Trust me, reader, I say this to myself as much as I say it to you. And remember that every sphere of our life must be lived to the glory of God. May the sacrifice of Christ our Savior motivate us to right thinking, even in the social media realm.

So put down that selfie stick and instead sit back and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

21 August 2015

This 'n' That

Sunflowers are my favorite.
Sunflowers and beautiful singing make me smile.
About a week or so ago, I pulled into the parking lot at my office just late enough to have had my parking space stolen. Oh, of course it isn't officially my parking space. Except it is, in my mind anyway, because it is the perfect space. But I digress.

Even though there were still plenty of fairly close spaces, I took the opportunity to park all the way toward the end of the lot. It was a beautiful morning and for once I wasn't rushing to an early meeting. I figured I would enjoy a few extra steps and some fresh air before hunkering down at my desk for the next 9 or so hours. I had barely stepped out of the car when I heard singing. I looked around and knew that it was not one of the other hurried office dwellers making their way through the parking lot. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I spied an elderly lady walking rather spryly with her walker. She was moving at quite a clip as she walked laps around the courtyard of the church next door. But it was not her walking that caught my attention, it was that singing.

For what I presume might have been her age, she had a beautiful and clear voice. She sang boldly and loudly and I was so thankful she did. I was not familiar with the song she was singing, so I cannot even link to it here, but it was about Jesus Christ. Truly. And when she sang the name of her Savior her voice rang louder and more clear. It was a magnificent start to the day, and I would not have experienced it had I parked in my usual space. That dear woman will never know how she ministered to me that morning, but I could not believe the goodness of God to allow me to begin my day with such a joyful noise ringing in my ears.

So, if you have been gifted with a lovely singing voice, please share it. Those of us who cannot carry a tune appreciate it and thank God for the gift He has given you. In fact, why don't you hum a hymn as you sit back and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

15 August 2015

Equipping Eve: God's Final Word

In these last days, God has spoken to us in His Son. Hebrews 1 tells us this clearly, but the early verses of this epistle also reveal seven excellencies of Christ that demonstrate why it is that this Son possesses the authority to be that final, all-sufficient Word.

Click here to listen to this latest episode of Equipping Eve.

Click here for additional resources to accompany this episode of Equipping Eve.

Further Listening
Equipping Eve: Life Verses and Labyrinths
Equipping Eve: What Is Truth?
Equipping Eve: Thou Changest Not
Equipping Eve: Expect the World to Act Like the World

14 August 2015

This 'n' That

Me, making coffee at 5:30 AM.
The apostle Peter wrote that, with the Lord, a day is like a thousand years. Oh, if only each one of my days were that long! It's been another crazy and hectic week, so I won't linger over these lines. I promise that the days are in sight when I will once again be able to give this blog the attention I desire to and which it deserves. Until then, I hope you will still take some time to enjoy your week in review (kind of):