Why My Hope Is In The Lord

Hello. My name is DebbieLynne and, apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, I’m a sinner.

By His grace, the Lord doesn’t see my sinfulness, however. Jesus mercifully took my sins on Himself, accepting the Father’s wrath and (incredible as it may sound) covering me with His righteousness! He, therefore, is my hope. I can’t trust in myself to gain entrance into heaven, but I rest assured of salvation because of what He’s graciously done for me.

Today’s hymn celebrates Christ’s abundant grace in saving His own. As you listen, let your heart celebrate.

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Saturday Sampler: March 19 — March 25

Flower SamplerContinuing her series in Growing 4 Life, Leslie A. writes Learn to Discern: Who Do You Follow? She raises several important points that women should seriously consider as we pray to develop our discernment .

Unbelief doesn’t need one more miracle says Jennifer at One Hired Late in the Day. I’d been considering writing a similar article, but I really couldn’t improve on hers. If you want a solid explanation of the doctrine of justification, Jennifer’s blog post certainly gives it clearly.

“Authentic” seems to be the latest buzzword among evangelicals. In Has “Be Authentic” Replaced “Be Holy”? Rebekah Womble explains what postmodern people mean by authenticity, contrasting their understanding of the characteristic with the holiness that Christ calls us to practice.

Dinitatians typically believe in the Father and the Son, but not the Holy Spirit. In his blog post, Are Cessationists Dinitatians? Eric Davis of The Cripplegate refutes the popular notion that non-Charismatics don’t believe in the Holy Spirit. I love his list of 20 things Cessationists believe about the Holy Spirit.

Do you sometimes wonder what you should pray in praying for your pastor? Steve Altroggie, blogging on The Blazing Center, enumerates 8 Prayers You Should Regularly Pray For Your Pastor to offer us good direction in the matter.

John Ellis’ article, How NOT to Argue Online in adayinhiscourt convicted me. But it also encouraged me in arguing my case in ways that honor the Lord .

Responding to one of Beth Moore’s recent Tweets, Elizabeth Prata writes How does the Holy Spirit lead us? in her blog, The End Time. Her essay is lengthy, admittedly (and perhaps could have been broken into two separate ones), but her point is so crucial to Christian women that I strongly recommend it as essential reading.

In Don’t Get Your Theology from Movies, Michelle Lesley explains why even Movie Subscription Services that advertise themselves as Christian fail at helping us negotiate life’s issues. I’ve never seen anyone address this matter quite this comprehensively before, but Michelle does an excellent job.

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Sometimes Discernment Means Naming Names

Twisting ScriptureI know very well what I wrote yesterday, so I appreciate the irony of writing a post dealing with Beth Moore just one day later. But if you’ll hang in there with me while I make my case, I think you’ll see that today’s article actually bears out the very point I made about discernment. Understanding sound doctrine protects us against false teachers and teachings that deviate from the truth.

Tomorrow’s Saturday Sampler will include a link to a blog post Elizabeth Prata wrote addressing Beth Moore’s recent Tweet.

Immediately, I sighed, wondering if Beth Moore will ever go away. Surely, every evangelical on the planet has seen the warnings about her by now, and they know that, when she bothers to use the Bible at all, she mishandles it terribly. In the Tweet here, however, she completely ignores Scripture altogether in favor of trusting subjective impressions.

Thanks Beth, but I’ll let   God’s Word override any “warnings” I may want to imagine as coming from the Holy Spirit.

Sadly,  far too many women still don’t understand the multiple problems with Beth Moore, making it necessary for bloggers like Elizabeth Prata to repeatedly write articles exposing her faulty doctrine and unbiblical practices. I seriously doubt Elizabeth Prata takes pleasure in writing such essays, but she sees Moore’s alarming extent of influence and desires to help women escape this sort of deception.

A few months ago, as those of you who follow my Monday Bible Studies might recall, I showed you Jude’s instructions for ministering to others who have been deceived by teachers like Beth Moore.

20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. ~~Jude 20-23 (ESV)

Jude’s instructions begin with an exhortation to build ourselves up in the faith, meaning that we must study and understand its tenets. Likewise, praying in the Holy Spirit requires knowing the Scriptures that He inspired. Rescuing people from false teachers and false doctrine necessitates a firm acquaintance with God’s Word.

Next, Jude encourages us to show mercy to doubters. Here he specifically refers those who doubt the false teaching that has been inflicted on them. They don’t quite know what to believe, so they need patience and compassion.

The people in verse 23 have, in varying levels, succumbed to deception. Consequently, some of them need harsher rescuing. Yes, they need to receive correct teaching, but they frequently also require that we show them why a false teacher (for example, Beth Moore) is in violation of God’s Word.

Therefore, when Beth Moore puts out a Tweet like the one at the beginning of this article, bloggers like Elizabeth Prata absolutely must call her out. When you read Elizabeth’s blog post tomorrow, please notice how Elizabeth uses good doctrine to refute Moore’s deception.

Of course, the more we know Biblical doctrine, the easier it will be to spot lies and half-truths that people like Beth Moore spit out. Sound doctrine inoculates us against falsehoods by giving us the standards against which to measure anything we hear. As we study God’s Word and understand its doctrines, we can easily spot ideas that don’t line up. Developing this type of discernment liberates bloggers like Elizabeth Prata from the disagreeable task of having to constantly refute Beth Moore.

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Discernment: More Than Exposing Error

Ladies Study 01When did Christians begin equating discernment with calling out false teachers? Certainly, identifying harmful teachings and trends that worm their way into even the best of churches has merit, especially in this age of technology when false teachers can influence a lot more people in a lot less time. At times, discernment bloggers absolutely must name names and loudly denounce error. Please don’t think I disapprove of warning other believers when wolves threaten God’s flock.

But if we reduce discernment ministry simply to the act of exposing false teachers, we distort the entire concept. One aspect of a ministry should never be mistaken for the ministry as a whole.

In addition to enabling Christians to recognize error, Biblical discernment draws us towards God’s truth. It refutes bad doctrine by filling us with sound doctrine. That sound doctrine, in turn, leads us to greater intimacy  with the Lord.

By intimacy, I don’t mean a romantic or quasi-erotic experience with Jesus as our supposed Lover. As we study Scripture, rather, we see Who the Lord is, how He thinks and what He values. The doctrine of Christ’s supremacy, for example, gives us an understanding of His relationship to His creation, as we see in the following passage from Paul’s letter to the Colossians.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. ~~Colossians 1:15-20 (ESV)

It may interest you to know that Paul actually wrote that particular passage in  response to false teachers who tried to tell the Colossians that Christ didn’t have supreme authority. In this case (as in so many others), Paul refrained from naming the error directly and instead addressed it by replacing it with the correct view of the Lord. In the process, he drew his readers into a deeper understanding of Christ’s deity, His role as Creator, His eternal nature and His atoning work on the cross. That, dear ladies, is a hefty amount of doctrine to pack into one little paragraph!

Doctrine helps Christians discern error, then, but it does so with the purpose of leading us into a closer knowledge of the Lord. Simply calling out false teachers may allow us to feel an air of superiority, but that’s quite different from leading us into His presence. True discernment does protect Christians from deception, but that protection ought to ultimately bring us into greater worship and adoration of the Lord.

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Promise From God Or Baptized Divination?

Arriving at the conference, I enjoyed the anticipation. The year before, I’d met Shane (not his real name). Shane and I shared an interest in ex-gay ministry as well as ministry to people living with AIDS, but we also both enjoyed writing. During the year leading up to this conference, he initiated a lively correspondence, often sending me samples of the book he had started writing about how God prepared Christians for marriage. Of course, he’d won my heart.
My attendant/roommate and I entered our dorm room to find a tiny scroll, artfully tied with a green ribbon, placed on each of our pillows. She unrolled mine for me, revealing “A Scripture Promise For The Week.”

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland. ~~Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

I knew (intellectually) that I should resist the urge to interpret the “Scripture Promise” as assurance that my long history of romantic disappointment had ended, but Shane did things that week (and afterward) to further kindle my hopes. I’ll spare you the messy details of how my history with Shane played out, and  say only that the “new thing” in verse 19 had absolutely nothing to do with my romantic desires.

That memory comes to mind as I think about the narcissism in contemporary evangelical circles. Interestingly, when I read Isaiah 43 during my Quiet Time all these years later, I keep its historical context, as well as its prophetic intent in mind. Isaiah prophesied about two events: the Jews’ release from the Babylonian Captivity and (ultimately) the Messianic kingdom. Back in that dorm room during the conference, I turned that broad promise to Israel and the Church about God’s glorious plan for His collective people into a horoscope-like prediction tailored to my  selfish aspirations.

Most present-day evangelicals play similar games with God’s Word, I’m sorry to say. To a very large extent, pastors, teachers and   Christian books encourage us to privatize God’s Word into personal promises that spin far away from God’s main point. Yes, He guides us through Scripture’s principles–even in terms of selecting a spouse–but He most certainly doesn’t want us  wrenching fragments out of context as if the  Bible lends itself to some sort of baptized divination.

As I’ve been reading through the Old Testament these past few years, the Holy Spirit has shown me that I must read it at face  value rather than digging around for personal intimations. I may learn from His dealings with Israel, particularly as  I see my rebellion as a mirror image of theirs. I may see His call to holiness and apply it. But when  I make His promises to them for His kingdom into allegories about my personal fulfillment, I err. And I forget that Scripture revolves around Him!

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Hus Did What For The Sake Of The Gospel?

Okay, I confess. I didn’t do my homework. I’d intended to write about John Hus today, finishing my little sub-series on the pre-Reformation reformers. Instead of studying, however, I spent time learning a different digital art program that I’d bought three years ago and subsequently neglected. I do need to invest time in my art, yes. But we can only celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation once.

October 31st isn’t that far away, and we should start covering people who actually shaped the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century. As important as John Hus was to church history, I must forgo writing about him, looking forward to introducing John Calvin next Tuesday.

But since Hus holds such a vital place in paving the way for Martin Luther, John Calvin and the other 16th Century Reformers,  I decided to post this 4 minute video summarizing his life, ministry and martyrdom.

Like Peter Waldo and John Wycliffe, Hus preached that the Bible had greater authority than Roman Catholic tradition and that justification comes through faith alone. Unlike these two men, Hus actually died for preaching Biblical Christianity. The very church that claimed to represent the Lord Jesus Christ ordered his execution, falsely convincing him of heresy.

Many more people would suffer martyrdom for espousing the Biblical tenets of the Reformation. In our own own century, when Pope  Francis declares that the Reformation is over, we need to remember why the Reformation happened and what it cost the men and women who stood for the true Gospel. Hus, and many Christians after him, chose death rather than recanting Biblical doctrine. If we now accept the Pope’s declaration, we certainly negate everything the Reformers suffered for the sake of the Gospel.

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Perspectives In Titus: Holding Fast To Trustworthy Doctrine

Titus 1 v 9As we move along in our study of Paul’s letter to Titus, we find that Titus 1:9 really needs to be treated in its own blog post. Please don’t misunderstand me as saying that it stands in isolation from its context. Rather, there’s simply too much in it to discuss it in the same essay with verses 5-8, and verse 10 begins a new paragraph.

As always, let’s look at verse 9 in context, just to remind ourselves of Paul’s flow of thought.

5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. ~~Titus 1:5-9 (ESV)

Paul has been instructing Titus on the qualifications of an elder, and has just outlined the type of character a man must have in order to assume this office. Now he changes gears, ever so slightly, to a prospective elder’s ability to handle God’s Word.

An elder, Paul insists, must hold firm to God’s Word, not compromising it to accommodate the ideas of others. He needs an undivided loyalty to Christ and His teaching (see Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13). Even though Paul here is talking about much more than the tension between God and money, the principle of single hearted devotion still applies. Barnes elaborates on this concept by commenting:

This means that he is to hold this fast, in opposition to one who would wrest it away, and in opposition to all false teachers, and to all systems of false philosophy. He must be a man who is firm in his belief of the doctrines of the Christian faith, and a man who can be relied on to maintain and defend those doctrines in all circumstances.

So an elder must hold firm to Scripture. This exhortation brings us to the nature of Scripture, which makes it worthy of holding firmly. Paul calls God’s Word trustworthy. Elders, and Christians in general, can absolutely rely on it!

I want you to notice the phrase, “the trustworthy word as taught.” Vincent’s Word Studies  tells us that this phrase, “as taught” literally means “according to the teaching” and therefore communicates the idea of agreement with the teaching of the apostles. Embellishments to it, such as those Paul alludes to in verse 14, dilute it, turning people away from its pure principles.

An elder must hold firm to God’s Word  for the purpose of teaching his people sound doctrine. He doesn’t teach vague ideas or worldly wisdom, but the clear teachings of Scripture. He avoids seeker-sensitive models that incorporate popular ideas of the   world into the Gospel.

He also must hold firm to God’s Word  in order to rebuke those who contradict it. In context, Paul apparently means false teachers. We’ll see the application of this clause next Monday as we look at the group of false teachers who disrupted the church in Crete.

Elders aren’t the only Christians who need to hold firm to God’s Word, however. You and I also bear a responsibility to cling tenaciously to the sound doctrine of the Bible, teaching it to our children and to other women. For that reason Titus 1:9 applies to each of us. We can join our elders in holding firmly to the trustworthy Word of God, confident that it will never fail.

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