Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones, But What You And I Type On Twitter Can Be Devastating

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Someone on Twitter made unkind comments about my physical appearance this past weekend. Of course his remarks hurt a bit. I’ve felt more self-conscious when I’m around people, wondering if how I look offends them as much as it evidently offended the author of those unpleasant tweets.

But for the most part, I understood that the person just wanted to get a rise out of me. He had insulted a number of other Christians on Twitter that day, apparently threatening violence against a few of them. Obviously,  he was merely a stupid kid desperately trying to get attention. Several people reported him. I believe Twitter suspended his account.

His cracks about my appearance didn’t trouble me nearly as much as the juvenile way that people  (including Christians) interact online lately. They troubled me because I’ve been tempted to make personal remarks about certain false teachers that I’ve blogged about or have challenged on Twitter. You’d think that of all people, I’d be the last one to make fun of how someone looks, but the taunts I received Saturday forced me to Continue reading

And We’re Surprised Because…?

Holy BibleLast week Amazon pulled books about “conversion therapy” (therapy helping people overcome homosexuality) from its website. Last week Facebook warned one of its users that posting a meme quoting 1 Timothy 2:12 was hate speech. Last week apologist James White cautioned his readers that our ability to speak out for Christ on mainstream social media platforms is quickly coming to an end.

Admittedly, such persecution is minor compared to things Christians in other countries endure for the sake of Christ. I’ve served as a contact person for missionaries in both our previous church and our current church — a position that allows me to read about people who receive physical torture for turning from Islam to Jesus Christ. A missionary from our former church regularly writes to me chronicling the intense suffering and resolute faith of a woman she led to Christ. Believe me, nothing American Christians presently face is anything like what that lady goes through on a daily basis.

At least not Continue reading

Let Every Kindred, Every Tribe

At the time, I chuckled when my Welsh friend pictured American clouds and United Kingdom clouds in heaven. “As much as I like you,” he informed me, “I don’t want to visit an American cloud.”

Not only did he have an unbiblical concept of heaven, he infiltrated it with a nationalist lens that now, 34 years later, saddens me. Does he still anticipate that sort of division in the New Jerusalem? If so, I don’t believe he properly understands the depiction of heaven that the apostle John presented in Revelation.

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)

Heaven unites Christians from every tribe and nation so that we might all worship the Lord together. Rather than allowing our differences to separate us, we will celebrate our unity  as we worship Him along with the angels and the elders. Our individual distinctions won’t be erased,  but neither will they separate us from one another.

The glorious harmony between people groups will happen as we concentrate our attention on the King of kings and Lord of lords. My dear Welsh friend will be so enamored with Christ that he simply won’t care about keeping his distance from Americans! All of us will joyously join the everlasting song as we crown Jesus Lord of all.

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Saturday Sampler: July 7 — July 13

Doily Sampler Pink

Giving us our “weekly dose of Spurgeon,” Pyromaniacs publishes Turn Away as an encouragement to focus our gaze on the right things. You’ll appreciate the practical instruction in this brief meditation.

Those of you following the current events with Beth Moore might appreciate An Open Letter to Beth Moore — Timeline of Events compiled by Michelle Lesley. Keep this post handy; Michelle will add updates as things progress.

You might also wish to visit The End Time to read The importance of a Bible teacher’s transparency: it relates to accountability by Elizabeth Prata.  She makes extremely important points that we must take seriously.

Ever the gracious Southern gentleman, Justin Peters pens My Thoughts on Beth Moore’s Blog Post with such gentleness and respect that the truth he shares seems easier to digest.  He brings out a fresh perspective on the situation that some of you might really appreciate.

Continuing her series on worldly attitudes that ensnare Christians, Leslie A of Growing 4 Life challenges the ways we respond to criticism in Thinking Beyond the Obvious (Part 4). Given the climate in social media these days, her Biblical wisdom demands our attention.

In his article for Gentle Reformation, Kyle E. Sims cries More About Jesus I World Know. He illuminates the beauty of understanding theology.

Parents,  Matthew Tuck’s  essay, Reading the Bible to My Son in Not Ourselves, is both touching and instructive. Not only will you enjoy reading it (the writing alone is splendid), but you’ll come away inspired to teach God’s Word to your own children.

If you want a more intellectual approach to the Christian response to homosexuality, go to Blog & Magog for Douglas Wilson’s piece, Emoting Like Pelagians. I appreciate the lesson on theology as well as the practical application to one of today’s most pressing issues.

Nathan Busenitz, in his article for The Cripplegate, encourages us toward Heavenly Clarity as we swim through the fog of earthly troubles. Why do I use the metaphor of  swimming through fog? You’ll have to read the article to find out!

Having lived in a nursing home for pretty much two years, I greatly appreciate Michael Coughlin for posting Go Therefore: Nursing Home in Things Above Us. I would add that nursing home residents need more than brief visits and monthly Bible Studies. They need real friends who visit often and spend time with them. It’s a truly horrible way to live — a Christian who makes genuine investments in these suffering people has a powerful opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ.

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Flashback Friday — Doctrine: The Key To Worship

Bible And WorshipHaving begun my Christian life in Charismatic circles, I learned to think of worship in terms of my emotional responses to praise music or to my private prayer and Bible reading. If I felt fluttery feelings, I believed I’d experienced good worship. If such feelings eluded me, I concluded that I’d failed in worship.

Emotions certainly play a part in worshiping the Lord. I love Him, which naturally means  a level of emotional engagement with Him. I’d go so far as to argue that an absence of passion in  prayer, praise and Bible reading amounts to nothing more than dead orthodoxy. Such dispassionate religion hardly exemplifies the sort of worship that Jesus described as pleasing to God.

23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” ~~John 4:23-24 (ESV)

Yes, by all means worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ in spirit should (and in fact, must involve our emotions! But unless something informs those emotions, we have no ability to worship Him correctly. Even worse, we have no assurance that we’re actually worshiping the true God. Therefore, in order to worship Him in spirit and in truth, we need to make doctrine the key to our worship.

I  care about doctrine because it helps me know the Lord. Not a Jesus fashioned as I think he should be, or one who adapts himself to current culture…though I admit that believing in such a compliant and flexible Jesus appeals to me. Truthfully, I wouldn’t mind tweaking the Bible here and there, making it just a little more comfortable, nor would I object to receiving extra-biblical revelations. But Scripture, studied in context and with a dependence on the Holy Spirit leads me to see Jesus as He actually is.

Do I  claim to know Him perfectly? No. In fact, I have only begun understanding the great doctrines of the Christian faith, partly because I  spent years in Christian groups that emphasized  experiential spirituality, partly because the days before the Internet made study materials less accessible to me (due to my disability and my finances), and mostly because I didn’t mind “going with the flow” of whatever my church went after at any given season. The fluttery feelings satisfied me.

Following the crowd and swallowing the Kool-Aid proved easier than learning to distinguish good doctrine from bad. Also, the non-resistance ensured my acceptance with peers and those in leadership. Quite often, people commented on my raised hand and heavenward gaze with admiration. My emotionally charged worship showed them an impressive example of spirituality.

Sadly, it also demonstrated that I worshiped the acclaim of my church more than I worshiped the Lord.

Now, as I read and study the Bible in context  (rather than scanning through it until something gave me spiritual goose bumps), the Lord reveals Himself. I watch His holiness in dealing with Israel, and His humility during His Incarnation. Currently, He teaches me the interrelationship between keeping His  commandments and loving other believers as I study 1 John.The doctrine of human depravity keeps me dependent on  Him, and the doctrine of His sovereignty strengthens my trust in Him. Scripture’s great doctrines show me His perspectives on relationships, sin, faith, money and just about everything else in life.

Most importantly, Scripture teaches me (for the word “doctrine” means nothing more than “teaching”) of Christ’s preeminence in all creation. He is not a god who suits himself to my fancy. Quite the contrary, He is the holy yet gracious King Who allows me the privilege of serving Him for all eternity. The doctrines of the Bible display His  majesty, drawing me to praise and worship Him in thrilled anticipation of being physically in His glorious presence.

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Seeking Our Comfort Or God’s Glory?

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Why do we ask God to deliver us from our besetting sins? Do we envision freedom from those bondages as a means of being happier or more successful? Will deliverance advance our positions in church or allow us to enjoy happier marriages? Will we be more comfortable if the Lord takes away a sin problem that seems to dominate us?

I began seriously praying about my anger issues during my first engagement. I reasoned, quite correctly, that I would damage a marriage if I didn’t learn to control my temper. That engagement ended, but the Lord soon brought John into my life. Again I begged Him to take away my anger so that I could be a good wife. So that I wouldn’t cause John to have a stroke. So that God would bless me. So that I would be happy.

So that I would be happy.

Isn’t that usually our motivation for asking our Father to deal with our sin? (I’m writing to myself now.) If we’re honest, we’ll admit that nine times out of ten, we indeed pray for our own repentance because we know we’ll feel better without that sin.

But what does Scripture say?

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. ~~James 4:3 (ESV)

Golly, we say, we didn’t think that asking our Father to take away a sinful pattern had anything to do with selflessness! After all, doesn’t God want us to repent? Doesn’t He call us to holiness?

As a matter of fact, the Lord indeed calls His people to be holy. He cannot tolerate sin, so He wants those who call themselves His children to renounce their sins and live in holiness. Our personal holiness does, as a by-product, benefit us, often bring us tremendous joy. Certainly, we can praise God for the blessings that frequently accompany our repentance and obedience.

Those blessings mustn’t distract us from the ultimate purpose of personal holiness, however. God liberates us from sin for His sake, not ours.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. ~~1 Peter 2:9-10 (ESV)

The Lord frees us from our besetting sins so that we might bring honor and glory to Him. As profoundly as we might benefit from His grace and mercy, He extends His grace and mercy to bring glory to Himself. He gives us the privilege of bringing Him honor and glory through our deliverance from sin.

I’m not sure that most of us think about His honor and glory when we pray to overcome whatever sin hampers us. And I wonder if our neglect of His honor and glory could be a reason (maybe even a big reason) that He allows us to have such prolonged battles with sin. I could be wrong on this point, but I believe I am correct in asserting that His glory is the only real reason for us to seek freedom from sin.

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Don’t Analyze Your Sin — Kill It!

Killing SinPsychology has many inherent problems. Regular readers know quite well that I strongly oppose incorporating it into evangelicalism because of its roots in evolution and the occult as well as the way it encourages narcissism. Since churches began embracing psychological counseling in the late 1970s, Christians have learned to view their propensities for besetting sins (alcoholism and homosexuality mostly, but not exclusively) as addictions.

Suddenly, Christians dealt with individual sin patterns through lengthy counseling programs, frequently looking at their childhood hurts to identify root causes of those sins. My pastor in California, for example, believed that my uncontrolled anger stemmed from a traumatic event when I was very young. Perish the thought that it Continue reading