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Archive for the ‘discernment’ Category

Phil Johnson shares some video from the recent Psalm 119 Conference in Keller, TX, sponsored by “Wretched,” featuring Todd (“Freakishly Tall”) Friel. Todd dragged me on stage to discuss the Elephant Room and other issues related to wall-building, biblical discernment, bad discernment ministries, shrill-and-sharp-tongued women who fancy themselves called to ministries of full-time criticism—and a few other interesting topics.

 

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Praying for wisdom

Here’s a model from Scotty Smith of how to pray for something we all need and something we all need a lot of–wisdom

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:5

It is because of him (God) that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 1 Corinthians 1:30

Dear heavenly Father, I’m in need of what you so generously promise to give… wisdom. I have no doubt that you’ll come through for me, especially when I consider that you’ve already given me the quintessential wisdom of Jesus—who is my righteousness, holiness and redemption. How to I measure that generosity?

It’s only because of you that I’m in Christ—the fountain and personification of all the wisdom I’ll ever need. And only because I’m in Christ, I don’t fear your finding fault-finding gaze. I only anticipate your grace-giving hand. So here’s a few situations for which I need some practical wisdom…

Father, please give me wisdom about the difference between gospel peace-making and conflict-avoidance.  What’s really worth fighting for? When do soft answers turn away wrath, or when are they a sign of selfishness and cowardice? When do I lose sight of the real issue and simply refuse to lose? What does it mean to fight fair and to conflict redemptively?

Father, please give me wisdom about the balance between being spent and poured out for the gospel, and stewardship of my body, mind and heart. Show me when I’m living more of a driven rather than a called life. What’s the difference between a living sacrifice and a depleted workaholic?

Father, please give me wisdom about loving our children at different stages of their lives. When do I show up? When do I shut up? When do I offer advice that’s not being asked for? When does my help not really help? What’s the difference between parenting by faith-n-grace and manipulating by guilt-n-grit… even when they’re adults?

Father, please give me wisdom about the next season of my life. What does growing older in the gospel look like? I don’t see the category of retirement in the Bible, so what would you have me invest in for the rest of my days this side of heaven? Of all the things I could do, what is most in line with the truth of the gospel, and most in keeping with how you’ve made and gifted me?

I’m anticipating hearing from you, Father, because you are so very generous and so very faithful. So very Amen, I pray, in Jesus’ matchless name.

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Do you have discernment

Terry Enns:

“If I go to the grocery store, I can usually distinguish between the ripe, ready-to-eat fruit from the overripe and time-to-throw-it-in-the-garbage-can fruit.

Take me to a used car lot, and I have a harder time determining what’s a good ride and what’s a worn-out set of wheels.

Set two people in front of me who are considering marriage, and after a couple hours and a few pointed questions I can usually tell if their relationship is rocky road or firm foundation.

Whether it’s fruit, cars, or relationships, the ability to be discerning is not only helpful, but it is often life-saving. And that was the message of Solomon to his son in Proverbs 2.

Seek discernment, the sage told the son. Be perceptive, discriminating, comprehending, and alert — and then act on what you see and discover to be true and right.

Now discernment is hard work. It takes effort and energy, time, practice (which generally includes at least a few occasions of failure), and constant vigilance. It’s hard. But it’s always worth being discerning. In a series of almost proverbial statements, Solomon instructs his son on the value of cultivating discernment —

  • It will keep you from perverse talking and perverse talkers (vv. 11-12)
  • It will keep you from perverse living (vv. 13-14) — it will enable you to evaluate the cost of what you are doing so you don’t end up in the wrong place with the wrong people at the wrong time
  • It will keep you from perverse thinking and perverse thinkers (v. 15) — little is more difficult than learning the discipline of thinking rightly and truly about yourself, your circumstances and God. Discernment will keep you off the crooked path of unrighteous thinking.
  • It will keep you from perverse companions (vv. 16-19; cf. also chs. 5-7) — lack of discernment will make sin seem right (or at least not so terribly wrong), deluding and confusing you about the end of ungodly relationships. Discernment will enable you to see that unrighteous relationships lead only to death (vv. 18-19). And discernment will stimulate you to forsake such perversity.

Said another way, discernment is the pathway to good (i.e., godly) living.  The hard labor of attentiveness and discernment yields a life of peace and joy.

As Tim Challies noted,

When discernment is attacked and destroyed, a flood of opportunistic false teaching is waiting to attack through the weakened defenses. Nobody dies from lack of discernment or by not believing in discernment. Rather, a lack of discernment leaves people to wither under the attack of false doctrine. A lack of discernment leaves Christians unable to protect themselves and others, and allows sin to flood in.

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What does learning to do long division in your math problem on your own (without a calculator) have to do with discernment? Tim Challies explains:

But like doing long division, it is far better to do the work ourselves and to ensure we understand how to discern. The theological equivalent of using a calculator may be just Googling what John Piper or John MacArthur says about a certain topic and taking that word as law. It may be asking a parent or pastor and accepting what they say without further thought. We are all prone to want to get to the final tally without going through the intervening steps.

But like the kid who cheats by using a calculator, we cheat ourselves if we do not do the difficult work of discernment. As we discern what is good and what is evil, what is right and what is wrong, we train ourselves to think as Christians and we train ourselves to really understand what discernment is. We make sure that we understand the difficult business of discernment—not only the end result but the process of getting there.

To understand more, read the rest of this article here.

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Phil Johnson has a great “spot-on post about Rob Bell and why “evangelical” means nothing anymore. To know the current state of the church read this one.  Rarely will find someone calling someone a heretic, but I think Phil nails this one.

Prepared to say “AMAZING!”(But also take time to read the spiritual application this pastor makes)!

Excerpts from John MacArthur’s latest book You Can’t Ignore the Truth are here, here, here, and here. (They go well with what Phil Johnson’s article above).

I am profiting from Derreck Kittner’s new blog.

Great quote from J. I. Packer on the atonement.

Are you anxious for anything?

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John MacArthur has published a blog series on a disturbing trend in pulpits today–inappropriate language in the pulpit.  Phil Johnson dealt with this at the Shepherd’s Conference this year as well.  Looks like an interesting and more than likely highly controversial series over the next few days, In the first article John writes:

The language Scripture employs when dealing with the physical relationship between husband and wife is always careful—often plain, sometimes poetic, usually delicate, frequently muted by euphemisms, and never fully explicit. There is no hint of sophomoric lewdness in the Bible, even when the prophet’s clear purpose is to shock (such as when Ezekiel 23:20 likens Israel’s apostasy to an act of gross fornication motivated by the lust of bestiality). When an act of adultery is part of the narrative (such as David’s sin with Bathsheba), it is never described in way that would gratify a lascivious imagination or arouse lustful thoughts.

The message of Scripture regarding sex is simple and consistent throughout: total physical intimacy within marriage is pure and ought to be enjoyed (Hebrews 13:4); but remove the marriage covenant from the equation and all sexual activity (including that which occurs only in the imagination) is nothing but fornication, a serious sin that is especially defiling and shameful—so much so that merely talking about it inappropriately is a disgrace (Ephesians 5:12).

Above all, Scripture never stoops to the lurid level of contemporary sex education. The Bible has no counterpart to the Hindu Kama Sutra (an ancient Sanskrit sex manual supposedly transmitted by Hindu deities.) Nothing in Scripture gives any vivid how-to instructions regarding the physical relationship within marriage.

In the last article he declares:

The notion that degenerate subcultures and sexually-addicted people cannot be reached without “learning to speak their language” is an absolute fallacy. Grace Church is seven miles from Hollywood, in the heart of Southern California, in a carnal, pleasure-mad culture well-known worldwide for everything but healthy spiritual values. No city in America is more “unchurched” than our valley, which houses more than three million people. The people of Grace church are reaching friends and neighbors in every imaginable subculture—from ex-cons to ex-Catholics to people in the entertainment industry. We baptize new believers virtually every Sunday night. It is neither necessary nor helpful to inject explicit sexual references into the conversation in order to reach people from such a culture. God draws them to Christ through the gospel.

Here are links to the articles:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

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Developing discernment

God asked  young Solomon what it was that he most wanted to characterize his rule: wealth or wisdom.  Solomon chose the latter, asking God to give him “an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil.”  Solomon, for all his faults, worked hard at developing discernment.  He also pleaded with us to do the same.  He wrote, “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2:1-5)

Developing discernment starts with desiring it.  You have to want discernment before you will be discerning.  Solomon illustrated that with his response to God.

Next pray for discernment.  Ask God for it!  He loves to give His children good gifts!  Since Paul prays for discernment for other believers (Philippians 1:9-11), we know that this is a worthy request.

Finally, pursue it and seek discernment.  Treasure up God’s Word.  Listen to it and read it carefully.  Incline your heart to it!  Search for truth in God’s Word diligently.  Compare Scripture with Scripture.  Meditate on it.  Seek to apply what you already know! It’s then that you will understand the mind of God and discern truth from error.

Some people are gifted with discernment, but all Christians are to be discerning!

The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment by Tim Challies is an excellent book to help you develop this skill in your life.challies-cover2

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