When I’m Not So Outspoken

Pray For AmericaBeing a Republican in 2017, particularly if you engage in social media, can be intimidating. I often approach Facebook cringing, keenly aware that most posts I read will be vitriolic diatribes enumerating all the ways President Trump is “ruining” America.

In the months leading up to the election, I dodged posts from fellow Republicans shaming those of us who voted for neither Trump nor Hillary. Didn’t we understand that the Supreme Court was at stake? That Hillary would appoint judges that supported abortion rights, therefore eliminating all possibility of overturning Roe v. Wade? The blood of dead babies would be on my hands because I allowed Hillary to win by my failure to vote for a sexually immoral egomaniac that was actually (from what I could see) a closet liberal.

And anyway, I live in Massachusetts. There was absolutely no way my puny little vote would influence the Electoral College! But my friends insisted that I’d betray the unborn by failing to put a mark after Trump’s name.

I’ll leave you to speculate on how I marked my ballot.

To my surprise, our new President has made conservative decisions since taking office less than two weeks ago. Who would have thought Donald J. Trump (of all people) would keep his  campaign promises? Amazing!

Strangely, the Republican voices on Facebook and Twitter that so firmly reprimanded my reticence about voting for Trump have,  by and large, fallen silent on political matters. I don’t really blame them. Expressing any positive sentiment about Trump, Melania or his children on social media pretty much invites verbal bullying from the Left. (Apparently, free speech belongs exclusively to liberals.)

I’ll admit it: I’m scared! The mere thought of stating my opinion of President Trump’s Executive Orders on Facebook terrifies me! And isn’t that sad? It tells me that the progressives, for all their talk about tolerance and diversity, refuse to let anyone who disagrees with their agenda speak. So I cower, venturing onto Facebook with fear and trembling, lest I draw accusations of homophobic racism.

But, while the thought of being outspoken in regard to my political views fills me with terror, I have no fear of proclaiming Jesus Christ online. I will, I realize, suffer persecution for daring to declare that Jesus is the only Savior from God’s wrath. As Christians lose rights to free speech and free exercise of religion (think Christian bakers and florists being forced to participate in same sex weddings against their consciences), I feel an urgency to write about the Lord Jesus Christ as boldly as I can across as many social media platforms as possible for as long as I can.

When you think about it, declaring the Gospel is much more important than expressing political opinions.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Psychological Seduction

c5fbb-psychologyThe allure of  “Christian” psychology is twofold. First, it allows us to focus on ourselves without apology. Second, it promises wisdom over and above what the Bible gives us. As one might surmise, these two attractions intersect, offering us special understanding about ourselves. With the aid of a “Christian” therapist, we can unravel mysteries explaining why we continually fall into  sin (usually discovering that our sin patterns arise because someone or something caused us some type of trauma).

The more I learn about psychology (“Christian” or secular), the more I believe it betrays a propensity toward Gnosticism. We love thinking that we can “go deeper” than the Bible to explore the complexities of the human psyche. After all, not every Christian gets to understand the deep workings of the human mind, right? Psychology lets us join the spiritual elite.

Paul’s letter to the Colossians addressed false teachers who offered a deeper level of wisdom to Christians. Obviously, Freud and Jung hadn’t yet developed psychological models, but the principles Paul put forth regarding the source of wisdom and the necessity of rejecting proposed wisdom apart from that source speak just as well to the deeper wisdom of psychology as they did to the early seeds of Gnosticism in Paul’s day.

Paul roots his argument against looking for secret wisdom squarely in the supremacy of Christ.

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. ~~Colossians 2:1-5 (ESV)

Did you notice verse 3? We find wisdom, not in the supposed enlightenment of humanity, but in Christ. And He reveals His wisdom through His Word. The apostle Peter made it clear that what we know of the Lord fully equips us for all the eventualities of the Christ life.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. ~~2 Peter 1:3-11 (ESV)

Not very esoteric, admittedly, but that’s precisely my point! In Christ, we have every resource we need in order to overcome sin. We don’t need psychoanalysis to help us identify the roots of our personality struggles. Unless our physician can find a medical reason for psychological problems (which can, and should, be treated with appropriate medication), we can find everything we need to combat recurring sin issues in the Word of God.

Gnosticism, in any form, denies the sufficiency of Christ and the sufficiency of Scripture. Girlfriends, we mustn’t succumb to that temptation. Don’t fall for psychology’s seductive lie that it will help you better understand yourself. Instead of desiring self-knowledge, seek to know the Lord by studying His Word.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

My Admittedly Delightful Quandary

Listening to Enfield’s version of There Is A Fountain puts me in an interesting, and admittedly delightful, quandary. Usually, one aspect of a hymn will grab my attention so that I write  a post emphasizing that point. This hymn, however, is so overflowing with rich content that I just plain don’t want to highlight any one part over the others.

So sit back, turn your speakers up and savor all the rich theology of hope that bursts from this glorious hymn. Honestly, could you choose any part over the others? Isn’t it all wonderful?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Saturday Sampler: January 22 — January 28

Bezier Flower SamplerReflecting on the violent protests surrounding Trump’s Inauguration on January 20, Mark McIntyre of Attempts at Honesty writes On the peaceful transfer of power, an article that really needs to be widely read. Alas, the people who most need to read it probably won’t.

Like Ryan Higginbottom,  I love e-Sword Bible software. (Scroll down for a link to download it on my right sidebar.) So I appreciate his review of it, e-Sword: Bible Study Software for Everyone, in Knowable Word. He highlights all my favorite features of e-Sword, as well as others. His closing word of caution also deserves attention.

Featuring a brief but informative video by Todd Friel of  Wretched Radio, Michelle Lesley responds to a question from one of her readers in The Mailbag: What is the New Apostolic Reformation? As a former Charismatic who has seen the dangerous ideas of the NAR seep in to my former Baptist church, I can attest that Michelle’s answer hits the nail on the head.

For another Biblical perspective on the protests over President Trump last weekend, you might want to visit Growing 4 Life to read Leslie A.’s insightful blog post, Love Trumps Hate?

Battling sins of the tongue keeps me humble. I don’t think I’m alone in this struggle. So Jon D. Payne’s article in Reformation 21 serves as a reminder that Christians have a responsibility to speak in ways that honor the Lord. Check out Words Matter: Recovering Godly Speech in a Culture of Profanity.

Rebekah Womble, in her Wise In His Eyes blog, warns us to be discerning about those popular women’s books in the Christian bookstore. The Pretty, the Sweet, and the Deceptive:  On Book Covers and “Girl Talk” encourages us to compare everything we read to Scripture. And while you’re on her website, take a look at Mysticism, We Don’t Need You.

When They Walk Away by Nicholas Batzig on Feeding On Christ offers advice and comfort to those of us who go through the anguish of watching people reject our efforts at discipleship or evangelism. He reminds us that Jesus also watched people walk away from Him.

Here’s one that I’d like Charismatics to read! Jennifer at One Hired Late In The Day writes How are we led by the Spirit? How do we know God’s will? Jennifer’s message isn’t really new, but it desperately bears repeating as often as possible!

Traditionally, Christians dread reading Leviticus. I don’t. And Elizabeth Prata of The End Time joyfully confesses that she’s been Surprised by Leviticus. You might change your mind about this book of the bible after reading Elizabeth’s essay.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

A Warping Of Salvation

psychological-damageWhen I first became a Christian in 1971, I heard countless Bible Studies and sermons proclaiming, very unmistakably, that salvation comes exclusively through the Lord Jesus Christ. I clung tenaciously to Christ’s declaration in John 14:6.

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. ~~John 14:6 (ESV)

Needless to say, many people had difficulty appreciating my hard-line stance on this matter. Close relatives censured me as an intolerant fanatic. But I stood firm, in those early days, resolute in my conviction that Jesus wouldn’t mislead His disciples on the most important issue facing humanity. If people could come to God apart from Him, He wasted His time dying on the cross as the substitute for our sin. My confidence in this truth kept me immovable for several years.

As I got involved in counseling ministry, however, my spiritual emphasis shifted. Mind you, the shift was subtle. Almost imperceptible, in fact. And intellectually, I continued to affirm John 14:6. But, enamored by the integration of Biblical principles and psychological models,  I slowly drifted into a more therapeutic idea of Christianity.

I can remember hanging up the phone after chatting with a friend in 1996. After over twenty years of witnessing to her, I wondered if perhaps she was saved. She’d said nothing about the Lord, nor had she quoted the Bible, but she’d mentioned some of the same psychological principles that I’d offered in counseling letters earlier that week. Although I can’t recall precisely what she said, I’m pretty sure that it had to do with self-esteem.

Over the subsequent two years, I noticed other people (none of whom professed Biblical faith) applying psychological principles that I’d used as ministry tools. I began to consider the possibility that, even through none of them believed that Jesus was the only Savior, or that the Bible was the Word of God, just maybe they knew the Lord in spite of themselves. Perhaps I’d been too narrow in my understanding of salvation.

As regular readers of this blog know, the Lord has graciously restored me to Biblical faith. Of course I understand that John 14:6 means precisely what it says. Furthermore, He has brought me back into Scripture, where I can see that psychology directly contradicts the Gospel. I’ve written numerous blog posts, which you can access here, demonstrating various problems with mingling psychology with Scripture, and I’m quite sure I’ll write more. I believe psychology threatens Biblical Christianity enormously.

It definitely threatened my view of the Gospel for a while!

Beloved sisters in Christ, please think carefully before you adopt concepts of “Christian” psychology. In reality, these belief systems are mutually exclusive, despite all the attempts to bind them together. In the end, psychology will always claim authority over the Bible, insisting that it has insights into the soul that go far deeper than Scripture ever could.

Don’t fall under the spell of psychology, as I once did. It distracts from the Gospel, even to the degree that we think it brings salvation. But as Bible-believing Christians, we must, without equivocation, hold tight to the truth that Jesus alone provides access to the Father.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Say It Again,Deb

owlAs a blogger, and especially as one who tries to blog daily, I often feel compelled to come up with new ideas. And indeed, I shouldn’t regurgitate the thoughts, opinions and insights of the other bloggers in my niche. Such parroting doesn’t do much toward advancing God’s Kingdom. In fact, it probably leaves readers frustrated and weary of reading the same old same old from fifty different writers.

Beth Moore and Rick Warren are false teachers. Okay, people get that. If they don’t, they’re probably not the people that read  blogs of this nature in the first place. Homosexuality is a sin that Christ forgives. Again, not exactly a news flash to anyone who reads  blogs like mine. Yoga’s incompatible with Biblical Christianity. Yeah, my readers know that too.

But maybe readers outside our circle occasionally stumble on to The Outspoken TULIP. I hope that happens more than I think. Maybe someone who adores Beth Moore will google her name, or an unsaved relative will click one of my essays on Catholicism on Facebook. One of the wonderful things about the Internet is that you never really know who finds your writing.

So I want to keep my writing fresh, but I also want to blog about issues that 21st Century Christians have to grapple with. Additionally, I want to stretch myself by studying topics I haven’t studied before, but I don’t want to presume to write about matters beyond my understanding. After all, the cardinal rule of writing is: write about what you know and care about.

I care about guarding against false teachers and wrong teaching. Maybe my past, with all its influences distracting me from sound doctrine, makes me so passionate about writing against things that impede the Gospel. But rather than analyze my motives (I also oppose psychology), can I simply say that I intend to continue blogging about subjects that I consider important.

As I said when I started The Outspoken TULIP  in July of 2015, the days of free speech for Christians are numbered. Trump’s election may have given us a temporary reprieve, but I don’t want to get complacent and waste my blog on inconsequential trivia. Instead, I want to declare the Gospel even more, and I want to warn people against teachers and practices that undermine doctrinal purity. If I sound like a broken record, forgive me. But if my repetitions help women avoid the pitfalls of error, I will have succeeded.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Will I Be Pretty In Heaven?

debbielynne-as-queenIt’s probably natural to wonder what heaven will be like, as well as what we’ll be like when we’re there. Vain woman that I am, I often catch myself hoping I’ll look young again. And beautiful, of course.

As I grow in my love for Christ, however, the Holy Spirit convicts me of my shallow, self-focused attitude.  Ever so subtly, my imaginations of heaven revolve around me, not around the Lord Jesus Christ. That selfishness comes primarily from my sinful fresh, to be sure. But poor teaching from so-called Christian writers, pastors and teachers reinforce it.

In contrast, the Bible says very little about our state in heaven. 1 John 3:2 offers the most direct answer to questions about our eternal state:

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (ESV)

Admittedly, that response doesn’t satisfy us. But, my beloved sisters in Christ, may  I suggest that such dissatisfaction only betrays the fact that our affections still remain upon ourselves rather than on Jesus?  We don’t like considering the possibility that our preoccupation with self really goes that far. But maybe we need to let the Lord examine our hearts on this matter.

The Holy Spirit describes heaven most vividly in the book of Revelation. I don’t have time to cite  all the passages in today’s little essay, but let me show you just one example.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. ~~Revelation 22:1-5 (ESV)

Do you notice that the passage keeps the emphasis on the Lamb? John 1:29 and John 1:36  identify Jesus as “the Lamb of  God Who takes away the sin of the world.” Clearly, then, Jesus is the focal point, not us. Through He bestows His love on us by saving us from sin and bringing us into His Kingdom, He doesn’t build His Kingdom around us. He receives our worship, still calling us His servants.

I’m 63 now, and most of my earthly life has passed (boy, it goes by quickly). As a result, I think more seriously about heaven than I did as a young woman. And a lot of my thoughts reject speculations concerning what I will be and do in the Kingdom. I realize, more and more, that I simply won’t care whether I look young or pretty, or even about having a body that’s free from Cerebral Palsy. I’ll be in the Lord’s presence, worshiping Him freely. Will anything else matter?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Actually,You Should Be Impressed

Bible ShadowJohn Wycliffe translated the Latin Vulgate Bible into English.

Some of you may read the above sentence and be completely unimpressed. What does Wycliffe’s translation possibly have to do with 21st Century Christianity? My blog posts about Joni Eareckson Tada last week were, some of you might say, much more interesting than posts about some 14th Century Oxford scholar who defied the papacy by trying to make God’s Word available to the laity.

But perhaps we forget that, in the 14th Century, most people had no direct access to Scripture.  This handicap was particularly debilitating because the Roman Catholic Church controlled nearly every aspect of society, making everyone dependent on the teachings of priests, bishops, cardinals and popes for their understanding of God and His Word. This dependence obviously gave Rome tremendous power.

Wycliffe saw Rome abuse that power, teaching doctrines that contradicted the Bible and oppressed people. His education, as well as his position as a rector, afforded him the ability to read Latin, which in turn enabled him to read and study the Latin Vulgate Bible.

As his passion for Scripture grew, Wycliffe yearned to see the English laity read it for themselves. The problem was that he desired to make God’s Word available in order that people would understand the Gospel of salvation through Christ alone. Remember, he had already stood squarely against Transubstantiation, calling it idolatry and pointing out that it denied Christ’s bodily resurrection. He also felt distressed by the doctrines of Purgatory and Indulgences.

Translating the Bible into English promised common people the ability to come to Christ apart from Roman Catholic rituals that had no basis in Scripture. Although he died in 1384 without having been charged with heresy or excommunicated, the 1415 Council of Constance condemned him on 260 separate  counts. in 1428 (presumably to cleanse the world from his influence), the pope had his body exhumed and his bones burned.

Ladies, translating the Bible in 1380 challenged Rome’s authority.  The act of translating God’s Word into English gave common people the knowledge that Jesus Christ, not the sacraments and rituals concocted by Catholic dogma, brought salvation through His blood shed once-for-all. Wycliffe’s actions didn’t have the impact that the 16th Century Reformers had, but they planted a seed. For that, we should praise God.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Back To Where We Were

liberal-religionMainstream churches, back in the early 70s, generally preached a watered-down imitation of Christianity. Okay, I’ll rephrase that statement. The mainstream churches my friends and I attended made serious theological compromises, elevating the more palatable ideas of Scripture and ignoring (if not blatantly denying) the uncomfortable ones. Jesus, having a unique connection to God which could perhaps verify His deity (though only as far as dutifully assenting to Chapter 2 of the Westminister Confession), came off as a little more than a social martyr, slightly higher in rank than Ghandi. His resurrection, I was taught, was more figurative than literal, unless I wanted it to be literal, and served mainly as a reminder to love others.

Going to church made me feel holy…whatever that word meant. It allowed for my flirtations with astrology, yoga and even Buddhist philosophy. Jesus, after all, was loving and tolerant.

For all that (perhaps because I’d made a vague connection between religion and morality), I believed hell existed. I didn’t think many people would actually go there, other than Judas Iscariot, Hitler and Lee Harvey Oswald. Well, sometimes, I feared going there when I said a swear word. But my church never seemed to take hell seriously. Perhaps that’s why they never seemed able to give a satisfactory explanation of why Jesus died on the cross, or what qualified Him to be called Savior. I was actually told that what I believed about God didn’t matter, as long as I subscribed to some sort of religion. If not religion, spirituality of some sort. So questions of hell and salvation had little meaning. In essence, then, I grew up as a “Christian Universalist.”

When I heard the gospel, and committed my life to the Lord, I did so out of deep conviction that 1) hell existed, 2) I deserved to be there and 3) Jesus died on the cross in my place so that I could go to heaven, I was deeply disturbed that few church-going people really believed Jesus claim that no one comes to God except through Him (John 14:6). As time progressed, however, liberal churches seemed less prevalent, and most people had an understanding that Christians (at least evangelical Christians) took the Bible seriously.

When the “Emerging Church” started, I paid little attention, though sometime around 1997 I came into contact with evangelicals who had liberal views on sexual morality. Then I noticed other compromises, particularly a disdain for doctrine. Doctrine, they said, destroyed Christian unity, and was therefore to be avoided. Love (the “tolerant” love of progressives that is decidedly intolerant of anything conservative) became the authoritative grid through which we interpret Scripture, and truth is subjective.

Which leaves me wondering if the evangelical church has become the church of my childhood. I pray not.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

How Precious Did That Grace Appear

The second stanza of John Newton’s classic hymn, Amazing Grace is really the testimony of every true Christian. The Lord graciously shows us how wretched we are, and then He even more graciously shows us that Jesus Christ died to take the punishment for our vile sins.

Will eternity be long enough to praise Him for His marvelous grace? I only know that I’ll never be able to adequately praise Him for something so precious!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin