He Started It!

As soon as I understood that Jesus loved me so profoundly that He died to atone for my sin, I loved Him. I’ve loved Him imperfectly, to be sure, but I’ve loved Him over many years as He’s carried me though various trials and forgiven me  far beyond seventy times seven. He will faithfully help me continue to love Him as I now reach old age, and He’ll continue to be the Object of my love throughout eternity. Today’s hymn reminds me of my lifelong love for Him, which all began at His initiation.

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Saturday Sampler: July 17-July 23

Tulip Sampler 02Rachel of danielthree18 isn’t a singer with R.E.M., but she’s correct in her assessment that It’s the End of the World as We Know It. I appreciated her thoughts on the persecution that Christians really should expect.

Rather than imitating the tactics of those who glamorize spiritual warfare, why not look at it from a Biblical perspective?  Elizabeth  Prata of The End Time has done that very thing in her essay, Spiritual Warfare: What Is It? Please read her Scriptural explanation of this oft misunderstood practice.

I am Ashamed, another probing article by Rachel (okay, I read danielthree18 a lot), looks at why Christian women shouldn’t be ashamed, but also why we should.

So Beth Moore has written another “Bible Study” book on 2 Timothy called Entrusted. Bud Ahlheim, reviewing it for Pulpit and Pen, comments that Beth Moore Entitles Latest Series “Entrusted;” Correct Title Should Be “Mistrusted”…and for good reason. Ahlheim uses a tone that I find unnecessarily snarky, but he also raises important concerns about Mrs. Moore.

In  her Throwback Thursday blog post, Michelle Lesley offers a great example of proper Biblical interpretation. Check out In Case You Were Wondering: Wise Men, Astrology and Horoscopes to learn whether or not God endorses astrology.

Understanding forgiveness needn’t be complicated by psychological distinctions.  Jared Olivetti of Gentle Reformation takes us straight to God’s Word to demonstrate what it means When We Say, “I Forgive You.” Prepare to be convicted.

I definitely applaud Eric MacKiddie of The Gospel Coalition for writing Stop Trying to Make The Bible Relevant to Teenagers. Can we please treat these young people with respect by leading them through verse-by-verse Bible Study and showing them how God’s Word really does apply to their lives?
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Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own

For a while now, I’ve been praying that I’d discern popular evangelical teachers without running to others asking them to do my homework for me. When I read this blog post by Michelle Lesley this afternoon, my heart danced for joy to see these wonderful guidelines! I pray that you’ll also find this post helpful.

Michelle Lesley

false teacher 7 steps

“What are your thoughts about  _____?
Is she doctrinally sound? Is she a false teacher?”

That’s probably the number one question I’m asked by readers. It gives me so much joy each time I receive that question because it’s encouraging to hear from Christian women who don’t want to be led astray and want to worship Christ in spirit and in truth.

I’m delighted to answer readers’ questions about various teachers (You can find information about many of today’s best known evangelical personalities and ministries under my “Popular False Teachers” tab at the top of this page.) but, unfortunately, my answers often take a while. I’ve never heard of many of the teachers I’m asked about, and in order to give a fair and biblically accurate answer, I have to research each of them. The less famous they are, the less information there is out there about them, and…

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Look At What You Say

Psalm 19V14_02Your conduct online, particularly over a long period of time, generally exposes your true nature. I don’t doubt the possibility of hypocrites, just as people in other arenas can effectively hide ugly truths about themselves.  I well remember being speechless for an entire day after learning that a pastor whom I’d deeply respected had been committing adultery even as he preached on the importance of sexual purity.  So okay, some people can maintain a facade for years.

Note, however, that even this pastor eventually got caught.

Regardless of the situation, then, we can pretty much say that most people can’t keep up an act for very long, even online. Sooner or later their blogs, Tweets or Facebook posts will give readers a sense of a person’s true values, temperament or priorities.

If we claim to be Christian women while making angry posts and using unladylike language, we give our readers good reason to question the genuineness of our professions.  I am ashamed to say that I’ve made reckless posts, both on my last blog and on Facebook, that exposed blatant hypocrisy in my life. Some friends who had admired me for many years lost respect for me, as well they should have. My words, rather than reflecting godly attributes, betrayed my selfish anger and pride.

Don’t worry that I’m still browbeating myself for those sinful posts.  Christ has brought me to repentance and has given me the grace to change my attitudes and behavior.  But I tell my story to illustrate the principle that, whether online or in face-to-face interactions, the time always comes when our words open windows to show what really lurks in our hearts.

When the Pharisees accused Jesus of demon possession, He confronted their blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Then He warned them about saying things without first thinking them through:

33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” ~~Matthew 12:33-37 (ESV)

Our tongues and keyboards may initially allow us to fool people (as my hypocritical pastor fooled me), but those same tongues and keyboards,  given enough time, will tell the truth. Consequently, we must constantly submit ourselves to the Lord, desiring that our hearts and minds stay saturated with His values.

I often pray Psalm 19:14, which I’ve quoted in the graphic at the top of this essay. This verse reminds me to  carefully watch what I speak, type and even what I think. I want my thoughts and words to please the Lord.

This verse challenges me to honor the Lord with my thoughts and words, but it also puts the focus on Him. He strengthens me to obey Him with my thoughts and the written or spoken words that my thoughts produce. And when my thoughts and words result in sin, He redeems me because of Christ’s shed blood on the cross.

Dear sisters in Christ, be aware of what you post online. Those words speak volumes about your spiritual condition, both to Christians and to those who seek opportunity to discredit the Lord. You, once you declare yourselves to be Christians, automatically become His representatives. Please make Psalm 19:14 your prayer.

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Beauty Destroyed For A Greater Treasure

IMG_0757So much about life overflows with goodness! My husband rests in the next room, four years after his ordeal with cancer and a heart attack. Yesterday we enjoyed a romantic day exploring the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston, taking beautiful photographs  like this one. And now, as I sit at my computer blogging, I hear the songs of birds outside the living room window.

Yet beautiful afternoons like yesterday and today can’t compare with the new heavens and the new earth that will come after the Lord destroys this present universe.

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12  waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. ~~2 Peter 3:10-13 (ESV)

As I listened to the hope-filled speeches at the Republican National Convention last night,  my emotions tempted me to believe that voting for Donald Trump really could “make America great again.” Doubtless, next week’s Democratic Convention will cause Hillary Clinton’s supporters to experience similar feelings of hope. Our world will get better, we assure ourselves. We’ll make it a beautiful place for our grandchildren.  And for their grandchildren.

Despite all the beauty and promise in this present world, however, the horrible infection of sin permeates it, seeping even into churches that claim to believe the Bible. Instead of fleeing from immorality, we sanction same sex marriage. Instead of running to God’s Word as a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths (Psalm 119:105), we resort to subjective spiritual experiences and “Christian” psychology. Instead of accepting that America compromised whatever Christian principles it may have held with the false teachings of Freemasonry, Deism and whatever it was Jefferson believed, we join with Mormons and Catholics to “restore our nation to it’s Biblical roots.”

We cling to this world. I agree that our present world has pockets of tremendous beauty, such as John and I savored on the Greenway yesterday. This world, however, is beyond repair.The environmentalists may pass all the laws they want in order to protect endangered species and fight global warming, but look back at the text. The Lord, finally unleashing His righteous wrath, promises to consume the entire universe by causing it to  burn itself up. This world that we insist that we can preserve and improve is, in God’s estimation, temporary and destined to burn like rubbish.

One day, the Lord will come bringing judgment, dissolving the universe to replace it with new heavens and a new earth. Holiness will characterize this new realm, and all will worship and adore Jesus without the distractions of sin. How much more beautiful His Kingdom will be than this present creation, which bears the scars of sickness, poverty and sin! In destroying the universe as we know it, the Lord will bring in a restored creation far more beautiful than we can imagine. Best of all, that Kingdom will be permeated with His glorious beauty!

Appreciating the blessings of this life may demonstrate thankfulness to God. And such thankfulness pleases Him. But we err when we invest too much in the here-and-now, forgetting that our treasure lies in spending eternity praising and adoring the Lord Jesus Christ in holiness. How wonderful that we can begin living holy lives now.

 
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Men, Summer And The Prayers Wives Offer

Praying WifeWe got on the bus Tuesday morning, and suddenly I remembered that hot summer weather means scantily clad young women.  As godly as my husband is, and even though he consistently disciplines himself to avert his eyes, he’s still only a man. He has  normal visual responses. God created him that way, and I love the fact that my body can get him excited. I also understand that he, like all heterosexual men, struggles at this time of year. Public transportation makes it very difficult for a man.

I find myself wanting to pull my shawl out of my backpack to cover these girls up. I want to demand that women respect my husband (and respect me) by dressing modestly. But I realize that women on public buses most likely aren’t Christians and probably believe men should be able to look at their revealed bodies without experiencing lustful feelings. To women who reject God’s moral standards, my pleas would be an utter waste of time.

Sadly, I’ve learned that even Christian women resist my suggestions that they cover themselves. It’s hot, they explain, and they’ve “waited all week to wear this adorable backless sundress.” And for some weird reason, I feel guilty for trying to instruct them. They place their own wants above being considerate of their brother in Christ.

It frustrates me. It must frustrate John. Again, John’s not exceptionally horny, and he works very faithfully at  keeping his mind pure. I’m extremely proud of his obedience to the Lord in this area. I just want to help him navigate the onslaught of temptation that summer fashions inevitably cause.

Lately I’ve learned that, although I can’t control how other women dress, I can pray for John when I see them in revealing attire. I pray silently, careful not to call his attention to whatever woman elicits my concern. I’ve learned that talking about it only gives him more occasion to stumble.  I express my appreciation for his  obedience to the Lord in this matter, but I keep my remarks general rather than causing his mind to go back any particular instance.

Ladies, if you’re single, please be aware that how you clothe yourselves affects even the  most godly of men. That tank top with spaghetti straps may well be really cute, but if your bra straps show under those spaghetti straps, you could be triggering thoughts in someone’s husband that he should only have about her. As a wife, I beg you to respect married couples by dressing appropriately.

No, I don’t mean you should wear a burqa, but use common sense. If, when getting dressed, you suspect that your outfit might attract male attention, you probably shouldn’t wear it. If you need advice, ask a few  married women in your church (including the pastor’s wife) for counsel. Your brothers in Christ certainly have the ultimate responsibility to keep their minds pure, but you can help them by dressing modestly and respectfully.

Those of us who are married can help our husbands by praying for them. Our culture crams sexual imagery down their throats constantly as it is,  but summer weather compounds the problem as young women display much more skin than they ought. Our husbands may be extremely godly men, but they need the Holy Spirit to support them through temptation. Our prayers, more than anything else, make an incredible difference as they fight the battle against lust. Let’s be the  helpmeets God created us to be by praying for our husbands.

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In MY Place Condemned He Stood

Can we hear it too often? We are born sinners, and as such we willfully choose to sin continually. We relentlessly violate God’s holy commandments. Consequently every last one of us rightfully deserves eternal condemnation.

We have enormous difficulty believing this truth about ourselves.  Most of us can understand why the Lord would damn an ISIS terrorist, a child molester or a serial killer, but we figure that our sins are inconsequential in comparison.  We ignore the truth that the Lord, rather than comparing us to each other, actually compares us to Himself. Not one of us, at least if we’re honest with ourselves, can dare to hope that we can measure up to His standard of holiness.

But God graciously sent His Son Jesus to take the punishment that we deserve! When we accept the vile truth about ourselves, understanding that we merit only death and hell, we find wonderful relief in His sacrifice. And we marvel at all He voluntary suffered in order to redeem wretches like us. We then come to Him in adoration, astounded by His willingness to take the condemnation belonging to us. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

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