The Hidden Reefs In Worship Songs

Jude famously wrote his epistle to warn believers against false teachers. He used several strong images to describe them, ensuring that his readers would understand the danger these teachers presented. Let me quote a couple of verses with these images.

12 These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. ~~Jude 12-13 (NASB95)

He begins by calling them hidden reefs. Living in the First Century when travel depended on boats and ships, Jude undoubtedly knew how unseen reefs could tear up a sailing vessel before the sailors even knew a reef was there. He chose this image to emphasize his point from verse 4 that false teachers come into churches under the radar, avoiding detection by blending in with church culture. Often, Christians don’t realize they’ve been deceived by these false teachers until it’s too late. These figurative hidden reefs shipwreck the faith of unsuspecting souls.

In the 21st Century, false teachers seem to be all over the place, requiring that we know the Word of God backwards and forwards. To this end, it’s imperative that we submit ourselves to churches in which our pastors not only preach with faithfulness to Scripture but also encourage us to rightly divide the Word. In most cases, familiarity with the Bible is the best defense against falling into deception.

This past week, however, I learned that sometimes even the best shepherds can unintentionally let a stray wolf wander into the fold. This potentially serious mistake usually happens when they put too much trust in leaders of the music team.

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Horrified Fascination: Thoughts On Last Week’s SBC Annual Meeting

I’m relatively new to the Southern Baptist Convention, and I belong to a SBC church that largely ignores what the upper echelons do. Our pastor identifies more with Grace Community Church and The Master’s Seminary than with any SBC entity (at least as far as I can tell). Following Michelle Lesley, Founders’ Ministries and various people on Twitter has generated my interest in the Southern Baptist Convention over the past three or four years. I therefore begin this blog post with the necessary acknowledgment that I don’t know as much as I should about the organization.

I only watched the Tuesday and Wednesday live streams of the meeting, but judging from my Twitter feed, most of the action happened during those two sessions. Consequently, my remarks will be focused on what I personally witnessed. If anyone reading this article watched more — or was actually there — and can correct my perception, please use the Comment Section to offer more clarity.

Despite my disclaimer, I have definite opinions that I believe I can express with some degree of Biblical accuracy. Please consider these opinions, not as me whining because things didn’t go as I wanted (although I am angry, disappointed and extremely disgusted by what happened), but as a sober warning. Even though not all of you belong to SBC churches, the events of last week should remind all of us that we can fall all too easily into compromise with the world.

 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. ~~1 Corinthians 10:12 (NASB95)

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Saturday Sampler: June 12 — June 18

Have you been thinking about heaven lately? I have! Apparently so has Tim Challies, as evidenced by his wonderful mediation, The Harder Our Earth, the Sweeter Our Heaven. If life is hard for you right now, Tim’s words might give you the encouragement you need.

Speaking of attitudes during suffering, Elizabeth Prata of The End Time writes Job vs. Naomi: How do we respond when circumstances take a downturn? This interesting comparison between two prominent people of the Old Testament can help us respond to our trials in ways that honor the Lord.

When Cindy Matson begins with an allusion to Shakespeare, my background as an English Literature major perks up. Of course, Bible Study Nerd is a blog about the Bible, not literature, so she merely uses The Bard to introduce us to Prayers to Kill the Green-Eyed Monster of jealousy. The direction of the prayers she suggests may surprise you.

In Growing 4 Life this week, a biographical sketch of John Bunyan and a truck bed full of discarded Legos lead Leslie A to muse on Life and Legos. She writes with humility and candor about her own struggles to maintain an eternal perspective, assuring us that God works patiently to develop our characters.

Many of us watching the live stream of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting this week were incensed when they allowed Rick Warren to speak from the floor. Chris Hohnholz was one of us. His reaction, On Rick Warren, Women Pastors, and “Secondary Issuesappears in Slave to the King with excellent evidence that the matter of women in the pulpit is definitely important. His passion for God’s Word makes this post well worth your time and attention.

Peter Krol continues his series on the “commandments” of commentary use by writing Facts vs. Implications in Commentaries for Knowable Word. Admittedly, this is a difficult distinction to grasp, so you can’t really skim through this article. But I think it’s well worth the effort if we want to enhance our Bible Study time with the wisdom of Bible scholars.

Lucy Ricardo Was Funny, But She Needed A Piece Of Proverbs 31:17 Clothing

Even most of you young ones have seen the I Love Lucy show, haven’t you? Lucille Ball, who played Lucy Ricardo had a wonderful talent for physical comedy that allowed the show’s writers to create outrageous predicaments that left audiences doubled over in hysterical laughter at her antics. As a result, her character often got herself into ridiculous situations at the expense of her own dignity.

While we have to admire Lucille Ball for sacrificing her dignity in order to portray the madcap Lucy, we realize that a woman in real life shouldn’t be known for such outlandish behavior. On the contrary, Scripture says that a godly woman should be known for her dignity.

Strength and dignity are her clothing,

And she smiles at the future. ~~Proverbs 31:17 (NASB95)

So what does it mean for a woman to be dignified? Does it require her to jettison her sense of humor? Can she play with her children and grandchildren? What about joining neighborhood games of flag football or cheering loudly at a baseball game? Do dignified women get to have fun? I think we all understand that dignity doesn’t preclude enjoying life, but perhaps we ought to spend a little time pondering how we can lead dignified lives that honor the Lord.

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Saturday Sampler: June 5 — June 11

Like many of us who take Biblical stands on social media, Denny Burk suffered a little grief on Twitter last week. He responds to his critics by writing Pride Month and Ezekiel 16:49 by simply bringing out Scriptural and historical context. In doing so, he demonstrates that answering worldly objections doesn’t require making worldly arguments. All we need to do is rightly divide God’s Word.

Have you ever felt as if God ignored your requests? When I was single, desperately begging Him for a husband, I struggled with such feelings. Tim Challies addresses the frustration of unanswered prayer in his post, Prayers That God Will Not Answer. Looking back, I see each of the reasons Challies gives played a part in why the Lord delayed my marriage. See if you can find reasons He might not be answering your prayers right now.

Writing in The End Time, Elizabeth Prata shows us evidence from Scripture and solid commentators that we can Rejoice in our future! The reason she gives for rejoicing is something I’ve read thousands of times over my 51 years of reading the Bible, but never really grasped until reading her article. I wonder if the reason will surprise you as much as it surprised me.

Why should we bother with church history? Leslie A offers a powerful answer in Sometimes a Look Back is Invaluable, which appears in Growing 4 Life this week. If you think history is boring and irrelevant, I beg you to read this post to see how the Christians of past generations can encourage us as we face persecution in our own time.

I’m not quite sure how to introduce Jesse Johnson’s Father, Long Before Creation, which you’ll find in The Cripplegate. What a marvelous musing based on a hymn written by Chinese Christians during persecution in the 1950s! And what a stirring celebration of how the Trinity worked long before creation for our salvation! Be sure to click the second link in paragraph 1 to play a joyful version of the hymn by Indelible Grace.

On Slave to the King, Chris Hohnholz takes issue with the news that Eerdmans Publishing Celebrities Sin to observe Pride Month. Well folks, we indeed should be upset when a company claiming to be Christian deliberately disregards the clear teaching of God’s Word for the sake of appeasing worldly culture. Kudos to Chris for standing on Scripture.

I approached Why “Proverbs Aren’t Promises” is Misleading with skepticism, and truthfully I’m still questioning some points in Peter Krol’s article for Knowable Word. I debated about including it in this week’s collection, but decided to so because he has an interesting understanding of Proverbs. And many of his points are quite reasonable, making them well worth consideration.

Peter Wrote An Entire Letter Refuting False Teachers Without Naming Any

My pastor used to frustrate me! I knew, from my personal interactions with him, that he was well aware of the celebrity evangelical teachers who taught false doctrine. I don’t doubt that he knew that some women in the church practiced evangelical fads that contradicted solid teaching. I used to pray that he would find ways to call out false teachers from the pulpit because I thought it was the only hope of convincing those women of the dangers. Once, and only once, he actually named someone briefly. Otherwise, he just preached faithfully through the Bible, trusting the Holy Spirit to correct our wrong thinking through the power of God’s Word.

As I saw it, teaching the Bible never corrected error in the other churches I’d belonged to. Those pastors also preached through books, and home Bible Study leaders taught through books. So they took verses in isolation much of the time, emphasizing application over interpretation, and their interpretation often ignored context. They still used the Bible, didn’t they? And they encouraged us to read our Bibles daily, looking for things to jump out at us. Like my current pastor, they assured us that familiarity with Scripture would protect us against false teaching. But we still wandered into all sorts of error, including a few errors that our pastors endorsed.

This past Wednesday night, our pastor gave an overview of 2 Peter, a letter written in response to false teachers who had infiltrated First Century churches. Chapter 2 presents a blistering description of false teachers, showing no pity. Winsome, Peter was not!

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Temperance Is More Than Not Getting Drunk (Although It Includes That Issue)

We’ve all seen movies and TV shows portraying sour old women in dowdy clothes representing the local Temperance Union. Most of the time, these women represent some form of Christianity, purposefully implying that Christians oppose any form of enjoyment and work hard to make sure that everyone shares our life of misery. Thanks to the media, the very word “temperance” sends shudders down our spines.

Yet Scripture demands temperance from Christians.

Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. ~~Titus 2:2 (NASB95)

Since Titus 2:3 states that older women must likewise exhibit the qualities and behaviors expected of older men (with an apparent emphasis on moderation in drinking), we ought to make sure we understand the meanings of the words Paul uses. Therefore we need to think about temperance. What did Paul mean then and how should older women in the 21st Century apply those meanings? Discussing temperance is important in understanding how an older woman can live in a way that brings honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Saturday Sampler: May 29 — June 4

In a short but powerful post, Slimjim of The Domain for Truth compares Legalism as Prison and License to sin as false freedom. It’s a comparison worthy of notice.

Idolatry comes in many forms, most of which are subtle. Continuing her series on idols Christians struggle against, Cindy Matson writes Do You Crave Comfort? in Bible Study Nerd. Although her post is terribly convicting, she raises points that very much need to be raised. And she helps us find ways to enjoy God’s blessings without turning them into idols.

The Unloved Wife: Responding Biblically by Heather Coker addresses a problem that Christians might largely ignore. I applaud Servants of Grace for allowing her to bring up this topic, and I appreciate the sensitivity in her writing, even as she refuses to compromise Scripture.

Are you looking for something uplifting? Elizabeth Prata explores The incomparable riches of His grace in a devotional essay for The End Time. This exquisite little Bible Study should fill you with adoration for the Lord and anticipation for an eternity of worshiping Him!

Although Michael Horton should have been a little stronger in maintaining that homosexuality is sinful, his article, 3 Ways to Engage LGBTQ+ Pride Month in Core Christianity, does make points that Christians might want to consider.

Thankfully, Robin Self, author of A Worthy Walk, balances Horton’s piece wonderfully with Pride Month is Hatred for God. She writes with compassion for those who are entrapped by homosexual sin, but still exposes its wickedness. I urge you to read her post, especially if you struggle to accept that homosexuality is sinful.

Of course I’d like to “Make America Great Again.” But I think Leslie A, writing in Growing 4 Life, brings us a more Biblical perspective in her article, What Does the Bible Say About… (Patriotism)? She reminds us that true citizenship extends beyond loving and serving our country.

“Why Don’t You Be Quiet and Listen?” by Chris Hohnholz of Slave to the King really hits the nail on the head by revealing how progressive evangelicals, along with false teachers and their followers, shut down conservative Christians without dealing with our viewpoints. Chris writes with his characteristic passion, while acknowledging that we indeed need to listen.

The Folly Of Pride, Gay Or Otherwise

I shouldn’t have gone on his Facebook page the other day. I knew I’d find photos of him with his new “husband,” along with posts condemning Christians who dare to say that homosexuality is a sin. And I should have known that I’d come away feeling saddened once again by his rejection of the truth that he used to proclaim.

He has chosen the world’s distortion of sexuality, and he takes pride in his choice. But Scripture has a much different view of the relationship between worldliness and pride.

15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. ~~1 John 2:15-17 (NASB95)

As we enter Gay Pride Month, I think of my many friends from those years in ex-gay ministry who decided the fight against that particular sin wasn’t worth the effort. Each of them accepted the lie that God made them gay and wanted them to embrace their sexuality. A few settled for living in celibacy while “celebrating” their same sex attractions (I’m not sure how that works) while others pursued committed relationships. One or two remained in heterosexual marriages, expecting their spouses to understand that these are “mixed marriages.” I gather that they all are talking about Pride right now.

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Older Women Need Instruction Too

Titus 2:3-5 seems to have become the definitive passage for determining the entire sphere of Biblical womanhood. It’s foundational, certainly, and a necessary corrective to the damage feminism has caused in recent decades. As Biblical women, you and I must obey its teaching, especially when it comes against the rebellious standards imposed on us by the world.

At the same time, some people react to feminism by making overly narrow applications of this passage, usually zeroing in on younger women working within the home. That assumption needs to be addressed at some point, as a few verses in Proverbs 31 provide qualifications that we have to consider. But as I’ve thought about taking you through Titus 2:3-5, it’s occurred to me that I’ve also gotten sucked in to the narrow discussion of a woman’s place being in the home. So I want to back up a bit and look more carefully at the passage. Specifically, I want to say a few things about Paul’s commands to older women.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. ~~Titus 2:3-5 (NASB95)

Yes, the passage clearly says that older women are to teach younger women with the goal of encouraging them to be wives and mothers who work on managing their homes. But that just isn’t the sum total of these three verses. Look at the first few clauses.

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