Too Serious For A Blog About Roaming Around Boston In Power Wheelchairs

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Boston Public Garden May 2018

Blogs should have a definite focus. A purpose beyond merely writing for the pleasure of writing. Such vanity blogs (as I call them) do attract some followers, I admit, especially if disability features prominently in enough of the posts. But after a spell, the narcissism gets old. Christian bloggers, in particular, begin seeing the need to use their blogs as tools for advancing God’s kingdom.

Three years ago today, I abandoned a blog I’d maintained for nine years. Originally, I began that blog to showcase my digital art, chronicle day trips John and I made into Boston, and reflect on various things the Lord taught me as I transitioned toward Reformed Theology. Toward the end of that blog’s life, I wrote my first  Bible Study series.

In that final month, the Obergefell vs. Hodges decision legalizing same sex marriage gave me reason to believe that Google could shut down my blog, which they hosted on their free Blogger platform. It seemed to me that paying for a WordPress blog might prolong the time I had to blog about the Lord without censorship.

But, to be honest, I’d been contemplating starting a new blog months before Obergefell happened. As much as I delighted in having a blog which allowed me to write whatever struck my fancy, I struggled with a conviction that I needed a focus. And I knew that focus should be determined by the blogs I gravitated toward. That would be my niche.

The blogs I enjoyed most (Do Not Be Surprised, The End Time, Pyromaniacs and Michelle Lesley) all concentrated on exposing false doctrine and encouraging readers to rightly handle God’s Word. Of course, I understood that I’d need to add to their conversation rather than just echo their thoughts, but I felt confident that I could do so.

Over this past three years, the Lord has faithfully given me a unique blogging voice among the esteemed writers in this niche. Convinced the Obergefell has stepped up hostility toward the Gospel that will lead to the persecution of Christians, I’ve worked to equip women for that persecution by pointing to Scripture. I believe that only a firm grounding in the Word of God will get us through persecution, so I write about issues that either draw us away from Scripture or about the wonderful ways Scripture reveals the Lord.

Sometimes, yes, I miss my old blog. As John and I propel our power wheelchairs through the streets and parks of downtown Boston, I occasionally feel a desire to write a narration of our adventures. Boston by wheelchair is fun!

But we live  in serious times, ladies. As fun as it might be to take occasional deviations from the subject matter of The Outspoken TULIP, I remain convinced that we must stay within our boundaries. So we enter this fourth year anticipating more posts that draw us closer to Christ, honoring Him by honoring His Word.

 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. ~~Romans 1:16 (ESV)

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“In Heaven I’ll Have All The Ice Cream I Want!”

StainedGlass04I can’t remember what TV show came on after Ed Sullivan on Sunday nights when I was nine, but I definitely remember pouting when my parents firmly enforced the 9:00 bedtime. “When I grow up,” I informed them with just a hint of defiance in my voice, “I’ll stay up as late as I want!”

John and I thought of this common childhood scenario this morning when I told him about a Tweet my friend Jennifer posted on Twitter last night:

Jen's Heaven Tweet

Surely envisioning heaven as a place of eternal self-indulgence is every bit as childish as envisioning adulthood as an existence liberated from rules and regulations. Islam may depict Paradise as a place of unmitigated luxury, and less mature professing Christians might make such an inference by misconstruing Luke 16:19-31 (of course completely missing the point of Jesus’ parable).

In fact, I remember otherwise fairly Bible literate friends telling me, “Heaven will be what each of us wants it to be. If you like ice cream, God will let you have all the ice cream you want. And Deb, your mansion will have an enormous library full of Victorian novels and poetry!”

To quote Jennifer, “What a gross,  man-centric view of the eternal state.”

Even a cursory reading of Revelation will demonstrate that heaven focuses on the Lord. Yes, His redeemed saints will spend eternity rejoicing, but rather than rejoicing in selfish pleasures like fishing, ice cream and libraries, we’ll be rejoicing in the Lord, lost in worship and adoration of Him!

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” ~~Revelation 7:9-12 (ESV)

Those of you who read yesterday’s Bible Study should instantly think of 1 Corinthians 15:28. Once all things are subjected to Christ, He will in turn subject Himself to the Father “that God may be all in all.” In other words, heaven revolves completely around Him, and the pleasure we derive will come as we praise and glorify Him.

Our self-centered fantasies about heaven are just that — self-centered fantasies. They diminish heaven, ignoring its true splendor. It’s one thing for children to idealize adulthood. It’s shameful, however, for Christians to propagate such an immature, self-centered view of God’s throne room.

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According To Scripture: Study #9 On The Resurrection

According to Scripture

You’ll probably think I’m off my rocker (if you haven’t thought so already), but I can’t decide whether this week’s study of 1 Corinthians 15:25-20 was difficult and demanding or exhilarating and fun. I can tell you, however, that the Lord used it to give me greater clarity into eschatology. Even better: He left me with a sense of wonder as I anticipate an eternity of worshiping Him!

To give some context, I want to quote today’s verses within their passage. Anyway, a reminder of what we studied last Monday wouldn’t hurt, right?

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. ~~1 Corinthians 15:20-20 (ESV)

As we approach verse 25, we discover that Jesus must reign as mediator of God’s kingdom in accordance with Scripture. Psalm 2:6-10 and Psalm 110:1 clearly show that God commissioned the Messiah with the task of destroying His enemies. Jesus, in fact, quoted the latter in reference to Himself in Matthew 22:44-45. This reign reaches its completion, as Paul just explained in verse 24, when Christ fully dominates His enemies (Ephesians 1:22).

MacArthur explains that conquering kings often put their feet on the necks of enemies they subdued as a symbolic gesture of victory. Paul means, then, that Christ will ultimately show Himself to be victorious over all entities — human and demonic — that dared to rebel against Him. See Hebrews 10:12-13.

Although verse 26 is pretty straightforward, let’s unpack it just a bit. The resurrection of Jesus Christ shows that, although death exercises power over all creation, the Lord has power over death itself. Therefore, our own resurrection defeats death. In the case of believers, death loses its power because we will enjoy eternal life in His presence, gladly worshiping Him. In that sense, death has, even now, lost its sting (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

Christ will conquer even death itself. In other words, He will do away with it (Revelation 20:14). This final defeat of defeat will take place at the end of Christ’s Millennial reign, as Paul already demonstrated in verse 24.

Commentators offer some fairly complex explanations of verse 27, much of which goes well beyond the limitations of this blog post. But let me offer a couple observations I’ve made from studying this verse.

In declaring that “God has put all things in subjection under His feet,” Paul indicates that its as good as done (see Matthew 28:18, John 17:2 and Ephesians 1:22).

Barnes suggests three possible reasons that Paul might clarify that God the Father will not be in subjection to the Son. Firstly, to distinguish Christian truth from pagan myths of gods overthrowing their fathers. Secondly, to dispel any notions that Jesus is greater than the Father. And thirdly, to exalt God’s absolute dominion. We must remember that the Son has authority because the Father gave it to Him (John 5:26-27).

I love the way Paul ties this passage together in verse 28! The Son, unlike created beings who will bow the knee at that time (Philippians 2:10), voluntarily subjects Himself to the Father. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown correctly point out that in His subjection Christ retains equal honor to the Father (John 5:22-23, Hebrews 1:6). Notice Paul’s reciprocal writing in saying that “the Son Himself will be subjected to Him Who put all things in subjection to Him.”

MacArthur clarifies that Christ will continue His eternal reign (Revelation 11:15) in His place within the Trinity. He will not eclipse either the Father or the Holy Spirit as He will (from our perspective) in the Millennial kingdom. Thus, His subjection to the Father by no means should be conflated as meaning that His reign will end.

Paul reaches the climax of this passage with the idea of God being all in all. Zechariah 14:9 intimates that the Lord has always purposed to reign as one King. I don’t know about you, but this absolutely thrills me! Although my limited human mind can’t quite comprehend an environment totally given over to the undistracted worship of God, I long for that blessing. Don’t you?

Next Monday we’ll attempt to tackle one of the toughest verses in the Bible.  I’ve been dreading this verse until recently, when I bought a commentary that shed light on Paul’s writing. Now I actually look forward to taking you ladies through it. Who would have thought?

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I Think I’m Pretty Spiffy

How often I pat myself on the back for my obvious wisdom in deciding to follow Jesus! Yup, I’ve surrendered all, made my life an offering and crowned Him as my Lord and Savior. When He knocked, I opened my heart and accepted His offer of eternal life.

Well, that’s how I used to tell my salvation testimony. Of course, I’d phrase it a but more carefully in order to project an aura of humility. After all, it wouldn’t look good if anyone saw how proud I was that I had chosen Christ. But in truth, I gave myself a tremendous amount of credit for becoming a Christian.

In reality, however, Jesus did everything in bringing me to salvation. As much as my flesh would love to claim that I cooperated with the Lord in determining my eternal destiny, I finally understand that Jesus paid it all.

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Saturday Sampler: July 8 — July 14

July 1 2010 025Have you ever thought of Bible Study in terms of summer reading? Interesting concept, don’t you think? Leave it to Ryan Higginbottom of Knowable Word to inspire our summer devotional times with Bible Study: Fast and Slow.

We say it over and over, I know. Yet, as  Elizabeth Prata writes in The End Time, evangelical women (and some men) persist in declaring God Told Me! Once again, Elizabeth dismantles the error of direct revelation from God, hoping to convince more women to hear from God on His terms. As a bonus, she includes two 90-second videos; the Mike Abendroth video shouldn’t be missed!IMG_3852

Phil Johnson laments The Rise of Woker-Than-Thou Evangelicalism in Pyromaniacs. If he understands the “woke” phenomenon correctly (and I believe he does), we should be prayerfully concerned.

Who knew that attending a simple baseball game could result in a musing about the eternal ramifications of false teaching? John Chester of Parking Space 23 pulls off just such a feat with It’s Not Just Theology. If you’re someone who rolls her eyes at the mere thought of theology, Chester’s insights might offer you something worth considering.

As a former Charismatic, I well understand The Dangers of Emotionalism that Kelly Smith writes about in Whole Magazine.

Why Didn’t Paul Share His ‘Trip to Heaven’ Story? asks Mike Leake in Borrowed Light. This excellent examination of 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 refutes much of the mysticism that IMG_3889permeates evangelical churches.

Denny Burk writes Is temptation sinful? as an introduction to his new series examining homosexual desire. Can we really differentiate between the desire to sin and the actual sin itself. After reading this first article, I hope you’ll continue reading this series. The Scriptural principles apply to much more than homosexual sin.

I haven’t read Why Can’t We Be Friends by Aimee Byrd, but I’ve read enough of her blog posts on the topic to know that she’s basically objecting to the Pence Rule (Vice-President Pence won’t be alone with any woman other than his wife). In How Can We Be Friends? 4 Biblical and Practical Considerations for Co-Ed Christian Friendships, Michelle July 2012 Boston and Randolph 024Lesley offers an approach to the controversy that few people on either side have mentioned. Her thoughts show exceptional balance and understanding.

Three cheers for Tom Buck, whose guest post in Delivered By Grace encourages the Southern Baptist Convention in particular and Christian churches in general to Stop “Empowering” Woman and Start Equipping them to Biblically Lead. Pastor Buck really gets it right!

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Flashback Friday: Not Afraid To Fear The Lord

I originally published this article on May 19, 2017.

 

Serious Little Boy01Evangelicals in the past 50 or so years have carefully minimized (or avoided altogether) the subject of fearing God. When, in the course of a group Bible Study, they inadvertently encounter verses about fearing God, they cough out a few sentences about simply revering Him before rapidly moving on to more manageable verses.

Fearing God isn’t politically correct anymore, even among Bible-believing Christians. We much prefer dwelling on the Lord’s goodness, compassion and love. That way, we keep Him much more approachable, even when we persist in our pet sins. Even more to the point, we make Him more attractive (we think) to non-Christians when we evangelize them. Talking about fearing Him, we reason, makes Him less marketable.

Scripture, however, never seems all that concerned with the Lord’s marketability, nor with keeping us comfortable even in our disobedience. Even the beloved book of Psalms, which often consoles false converts with poetic assurances of God’s love and mercy, insists that we need to fear Him.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    all those who practice it have a good understanding.
    His praise endures forever! ~~Psalm 111:10 (ESV)

Does fearing God mean feeling literally afraid of Him? Well, yeah. Sometimes such fear is highly appropriate, actually. Such fear acknowledges His authority to establish His standards of how Christians ought to behave, and to discipline us when we violate His standards.

In considering the fear of the Lord, we must clarify that genuinely saved Christians can fear Him without doubting His love for us. Hebrews 12:6 explains that, as our heavenly Father, He disciplines the ones He loves. I realize that postmodern parenting, influenced by psychological models, often consider it unhealthy for children to fear parents, but God graciously allowed me to grow up in a time when I both knew the security of my mom’s love and feared her discipline.

I was a willful child (and, to my shame, I’m still very willful). In school, I had no problem defying a certain teacher. If he chose to punish my disobedience, I was perfectly fine with that. But I always begged him not to tell my mom. He always did, once even going to her workplace! And, although she really wasn’t as harsh with me as he was, I feared her discipline far more than I feared his.

Fearing God helps me obey Him more consistently. I know He won’t revoke my salvation because of my sin, but I also know that facing Him in judgment and accounting for ways I squandered opportunities to serve Him will be painful. I fear dishonoring Him, even as I rejoice in knowing that I will spend eternity with Him.

Fearing God gives me discernment to live in a manner that pleases Him. It teaches me holiness. Maybe fearing Him isn’t fashionable in the 21st Century, and maybe psychologists would disapprove of my fear of Him, but the Bible recommends this holy fear. It calls it the beginning of wisdom.

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“Woke” Or A Nightmare?

Three Little Angels

Who doesn’t want a world where everyone is treated with dignity and respect regardless of ethnic background or gender?

And who denies that the United States of America has a track record of treating black people horribly and sexually abusing women? In some respects, the proponents of the “woke” movement address real issues that most white evangelicals pretty much ignore. On one level, we need reminders that real people have endured real suffering simply because of being black or female. Racism and misogyny exist.

So do reverse racism and male bashing. I’ve personally experienced one and practiced the other. These attitudes, just like racism and misogyny, offend the Lord as they wrongly elevate some people over others rather than emphasizing our common bond as believers in Jesus Christ.

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, interestingly, addresses the racial divisions between Jews and gentiles, teaches husbands and wives to embrace their gender roles and promotes attitudes of love, compassion and forgiveness among Christians. Paul’s first letter to Timothy, the pastor of the Ephesians, instructs us to observe gender distinctions in ministry, but makes no mention of ethnic differences between Jews and gentiles. Look at his plea to this beloved church:

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. ~~Ephesians 4:1-3 (ESV)

Where is that humility in the “woke” movement? Frankly, all I’ve seen are demands that white evangelicals perform perpetual acts of repentance for the sins of our ancestors and a determination to jettison gender roles in both marriage and church life? I see anger and unforgiveness that threatens the very unity it purposes to advance.

Again, I agree that both racism and misogyny have polluted the visible church. But so have reverse racism and male bashing. All parties involved have their share of repentance to do. But the “woke” movement, by pointing fingers and denying that the Lord calls them to the same humility and repentance that they expect from others, only makes unity that much harder.

I don’t believe this animosity honors Christ.

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