Overlooked Posts From 2019: The Relevance Of Dry, Dusty History

This time of year, many bloggers share their most popular posts from the past 12 months. Ever the nonconformist, I’ve decided to celebrate the year’s end by featuring favorite articles of mine that my readers seem to have overlooked. Today I’m posting one I wrote back in October.

Medieval MonastaryEveryone raved about Dr. Dill. My friends who majored in history adored him as much as we English Literature majors adored Sister Nicholas — at least as much. So in my Senior year at Dominican University of California,  I signed up for his Medieval History class. After all, history classes with Mr. Squires in high school delighted me so much that I took one just for fun.

Dr. Dill taught by straight lecture. I’d grown used to the more discussion oriented style of my English professors, so I struggled to pay attention to Dill’s  monotone voice. Having a straight lecture class immediately after lunch in an upstairs classroom that stayed warm even in January didn’t help either.

The class bored me. Mr. Squires made me care about the Supreme Court rulings of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., but poor Dr. Dill simply couldn’t get me excited about the Great Schism or the Ottoman Empire. It wasn’t until nine years later, when I visited a 14th Century gravestone in Wales, that I regretted not paying attention to Dill’s lecturers.

So, contrary to popular opinion, I really do understand why most people feel an aversion to history. Most high school history teachers are more like Dr. Dill than Mr. Squires. Consequently, my blog posts on the Protestant Reformation generally leave my readers cold. I get it!

But I also get the fact that the Protestant Reformation was the greatest revival in church history. And it troubles me that most evangelicals simply couldn’t care less about it.

I’m troubled because I see an indifference to God’s Word (if not an illiteracy of Scripture) among professing evangelicals. Because evangelicals won’t look at church history, they don’t appreciate the restoration of God’s Word that the Protestant Reformation made possible.  Therefore we take Scripture so much for granted that we manipulate, supplement and/or ignore it according to whatever evangelical trend strikes our fancy.

The Reformation happened because men gained access to the original Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. They saw how the Latin Vulgate translation misrepresented Paul’s teaching on justification. They saw how keeping Scripture exclusively in the hands of the clergy gave Rome too much power over people.

Of course, it’s easy to simplify the Reformation. Since I only understand history on a small scale, I admit that I don’t write some about the Reformation with much depth. But even a surface level understanding of the Reformation helps me cherish God’s Word as I never have before.

I am sure that most of you see history as dry and dusty. Sadly, my experience with Dr. Dill is more typical than not in regards to history, making people shy away from any discussion of the Reformation.

Please don’t let any high school or college experience with a boring history teacher turn you off to learning a little about the greatest revival in church history. I hope that my next two blog posts might help you consider the impact of the Protestant Reformation and its subsequent exaltation of God’s Word. Perhaps knowing the price the Reformers paid to ensure that laity could read the Bible for ourselves might deepen your appreciation for this Book that God has given us.

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Overlooked Posts From 2019: Riches We Forget About

This time of year, many bloggers share their most popular posts from the past 12 months. Ever the nonconformist, I’ve decided to celebrate the year’s end by featuring favorite articles of mine that my readers seem to have overlooked. Today I’m posting one I wrote back in August.

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Growing older should have changed my attitude about life on planet Earth. In some ways, it has. As my physical body degenerates, enjoying pleasures like going to Boston and  creating digital artwork demands greater effort, thus diminishing the attachment to those activities. Pretty soon, I’ll have only memories of such things.

In a brief conversation with a friend Sunday, she and I agreed that the Lord probably allows increasing pain as we age to help us loosen our hold on this life. Obviously, there’s no Scripture to support that theory, but it sure encourages me as I Continue reading

Ever Only All For Thee

January is three short days away, and it’s understandable that we’re thinking about the New Year. Whether we make resolutions at this time of year or not, something in us feels an urge to start over — to avoid our past sins and to serve God better.

I applaud such aspirations. We should cultivate desires to serve and honor the Lord at all times of the year. He is worthy of such devotion!  If New Year’s resolutions help you rekindle your love for Him, I most assuredly support you in making them! And if, like me, you approach repentance and sanctification as a daily process, I equally support you.

Either way, we can rejoice that God Himself takes our meager offerings of ourselves and uses those offerings for His glory. We can trust Him to consecrate us for Himself.

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Saturday Sampler: December 22 — December 28

Snowmen Sampler

Like all legitimate discernment bloggers, Elizabeth Prata takes no pleasure in identifying problems with popular evangelical teachers. Yet she understands the necessity of doing so. She introduces her three-part series, Boundary Stones and Slippery Slopes: A discerning look at Jen Wilkin (links to the parts are included), by explaining how she researches for essays in The End Time. Please make this series a priority, and please pray for Jen Wilkin.

HT to Tim Challies for British Reasoning Takes Us Through the Looking Glass by Colin Smothers. Appearing in The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, this article gives yet another warning that Western culture has grown intolerant of  anyone who refuses to applauded the LGBT agenda. If you think America will escape this lunacy, you might want to think again.

Perhaps at this time of year it seems out of place, but Stephen Melniszyn did it anyway! What did he do, you ask? Go over to Vox Scriptura Vox Dei and read The End  of the Matter to find out.

Leslie A of Growing 4 Life concludes her serial Christmas story with The Christmas Ornaments (Part 5). What a satisfying ending!  If you’ve enjoyed the story — and I sure did! — please let her know. I hope she’ll be encouraged to continue her tradition of writing Christmas stories.

What do Ruth 1:16, Winston Churchill and the Incarnation have in common? SlimJim of The Domain for Truth answers this burning question. If you think history is boring, piece just might change your mind.

In celebration of her upcoming wedding anniversary, Michelle Lesley shares 27 Things I’ve Learned in 27 Years of Marriage as an encouragement to Christian wives. Happy Anniversary, Michelle! May your 28th year of marriage fill you with joy and bring honor to the Lord Jesus Christ.

I’ll admit it! I’ve been tempted — many times — to turn my back on Christianity. But Leslie Schmucker reflects all the reasons (from an earthly perspective) that I haven’t left the Lord. Why “Deconversion” is Not an Option reminds us of four compelling reasons for remaining faithful to Him, forgetting only that He keeps all whom the Father has given to Him.

As we move into the new year, let me recommend Worry less about which Bible Reading Plan to use and more about which Bible by Sharon Lareau of Chapter 3 Ministries. You’ll appreciate her guidance on how and why to choose a reliable Bible translation. She includes a link to information on which Bible versions are the most dependable. Have a Happy New Year of reading and studying God’s Word well!

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Overlooked Posts From 2019: The Job Of Discernment Bloggers In Positive Terms

This time of year, many bloggers share their most popular posts from the past 12 months. Ever the nonconformist, I’ve decided to celebrate the year’s end by featuring favorite articles of mine that my readers seem to have overlooked. Today I’m posting one I wrote back in May:

The Outspoken TULIP Header 2019 eWhen we think of discernment bloggers, we generally think of those who dedicate themselves to ruthlessly exposing false teachers. According to the common caricature, these bloggers are sarcastic, unloving, closed to reason and (above all) self-righteous.

Some of them actually do fit this caricature, I’m grieved to say. Ironically, their eagerness to bring down people that they consider to be false teachers leads them to Continue reading

Overlooked Posts From 2019: Funny That I’ve Grown Serious

This time of year, many bloggers share their most popular posts from the past 12 months. Ever the nonconformist, I’ve decided to celebrate the year’s end by featuring favorite articles of mine that my readers seem to have overlooked. Today I’m posting one I wrote back in March.

ThankfulKittyBlack02Back in the 80s and early 90s, my reputation for practical jokes was such that I got blamed even for those I didn’t orchestrate. My personal favorite was in honor of my friend Bob’s birthday.

Bob shared my dislike for cats (which we both greatly exaggerated for the purpose of teasing each other). When his birthday rolled around, I gave his phone number to my friend Terry, whom Bob had never met. At my instruction, Terry told Bob that he was from the SPCA, and wanted to deliver a kitten to him that afternoon.

Bob declined the offer, and wandered out of his room in bewilderment telling his housemate, “I just got the strangest phone call.” Before he could recount what Terry had said, his housemate doubled over with laughter, causing Bob to remember that I’d spent time with that housemate a week earlier. “DebbieLynne!” he shouted knowingly.

I’m still proud of that one!

These days I have fewer opportunities to play practical jokes, largely because I don’t have an accomplice. Also, I have less energy than I did back then. Practical jokes take work!

But, as much as I miss that part of my life, I have changed into a more serious woman. Oh, I still laugh a lot — a robust sense of humor is downright necessary to be married to John, let me tell you! At the same time, the world has gotten much darker since those carefree days. Sins that most people (even non-Christians) considered shameful back then are now so openly celebrated that society shames anyone who dares to speak against them.

Although as Christians we have incalculable joy (which we should express freely and often), Scripture also encourages us to be sober minded. In his letter to Christians living in societies that were hostile to the Gospel, the apostle Peter urged his readers to take life seriously.

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” ~~1 Peter 1:13-16 (ESV)

This isn’t a time for excessive fun and games, dear ladies. The world’s determined descent into open approval of perversion and ghoulish practices, such as homosexuality and abortion, necessarily mean that we face serious persecution here in the United States of America. Consequently,  we don’t have a whole lot of time to openly proclaim the Gospel.

Truthfully, I get annoyed by all the tagging games on Facebook and Twitter. Sure, I use those platforms to update people on our lives, and very occasionally I’ll post a funny comment. But my primary purpose in using social media is to point people to Christ. As America grows darker, I believe Christians need to double down on our efforts to shine the light of Christ.

So as much as I love a good practical joke, I no longer want to be known for playing them. I’d prefer to invest my time and energy making Christ known.

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Isaiah’s Christmas Hymn

Strictly speaking, Handel’s Messiah probably isn’t a hymn. Yet he uses Scripture throughout the work, weaving a rich theology that steadily brings attention to Christ. Maybe in that respect we might consider it as a beautiful series of hymns — largely from the Old Testament.

Of course, Handel’s most famous movement in the piece is the Hallelujah Chorus. Indeed, he packed it with marvelous bits of theology about Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. Powerful stuff!

But another movement, taken from Isaiah 9:6, ties Christ’s reign as King of kings and Lord of lords to His birth. While not as fully developed as the Hallelujah Chorus, this movement reminds us that the Son given to us is infinitely more than a Child.

Since I won’t blog again until December 26, I leave you with Isaiah’s Christmas Hymn and wishes for a Merry Christmas from both me and John.

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Saturday Sampler: December 15 — December 21

Christmas Ornament

I’ve had the privilege of interacting with Stephen J. Melniszyn on Twitter and Facebook for two or three years, so I’m delighted that he recently started blogging at Vox Scriptura Vox Dei. His review of American Gospel: Christ Crucified deserves your attention. It definitely makes me eager to watch the documentary!

As usual, Michelle Lesley uses Scripture and wisdom in The Mailbag: “X-mas”? If you’re prepared to judge Christians who write X-mas on boxes that store their Christmas decorations, her article might give you a perspective to ponder.

Take a break and enjoy The Christmas Ornaments (Part 4) by Leslie A of Growing 4 Life. If you haven’t been following this short story, Leslie provides a link to the other installments in her introductory paragraph.

When we returned to Verizion last year, they included a year of Netflix streaming at no extra charge. I was disappointed. Although I still have no desire to renew our subscription in February, Hey Christian: Don’t Be Tempted to Cancel Your Netflix Account gives me something to think about. I don’t entirely agree with McAlpine, and I believe Christians should seriously question whether or not subscribing to Netflix really honors the Lord, but this post certainly offers a perspective worthy of consideration. It doesn’t change my mind, but it makes me think through my position.

Coming against the post-modern idea that we should never feel shame, Denny Burk exhorts us to Remember Your Chains as forgiven Christians. If you’ve never looked at your past sins from this angle, you might be surprised by how encouraging shame can actually be!

Writing in For The Church, Andreas Köstenberger answers the question What is Biblical Theology? This article offers three practical guidelines for interpreting Scripture. HT to Tim Challies for this one.

I certainly relate to Lori Antoinette’s conviction in Every Word I Speak, posted in Theology is Living. Having recently sinned with my words, I well understand her sleepless night as the Holy Spirit worked in her spirit. I also love her ability to find comfort in the situation. I won’t tell you how He comforted her, though — you’ll need to read it for yourself.

Because I belong to a Southern Baptist Church, A Review of By What Standard by Allen Nelson IV caught my attention when the Things Above Us notification hit my inbox. As he says, even people outside of our denomination can benefit from viewing this cinedoc. The trends it warns against threaten all evangelical churches.

Just for fun, laugh with Michelle Lesley as she reprises (and updates) Oh Christmas Tree!!! to narrate her 2013 battle to decorate for the holiday. I promise that you’ll laugh out loud at least once!

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Intimacy With God May Be Less Complicated Than You Think

Pensive Woman02As my girlfriends and I approached our 30th birthdays, panic and despair set in. We watched other women in the church take wedding vows while we spent lonely Saturday nights without dates. We joked sardonically that we differed from trash because trash gets taken out once a week. (The men in the church failed to appreciate our humor.)

One friend met regularly with me for a while to talk and pray about coping with our singleness. She began encouraging me to develop intimacy with the Lord, explaining only that she sometimes fantasized about Him. I don’t know if those fantasies were romantic — and I don’t think I want to know. At the time, however, I desperately wanted Him to remove the pain and loneliness I felt.

My friend’s exhortations to cultivate intimacy with God left me with the impression that such intimacy came through mystical experiences. I assumed that I would feel His presence in a way that would obliterate my desire for a husband. Obviously, my motives for wanting intimacy with Him were entirely selfish.

Yet the Lord does call Christians to a type of intimacy with Him that has nothing to do with our romantic desires. Even better,  we don’t have to search for spiritual experiences in order to enjoy this intimacy. All we have to do is Continue reading

Throwback Thursday: Opened Too Soon

Originally posted December 15, 2015.

64dd7-christmasgiftIt seemed, to my ten-year-old mind, very reasonable. As I gazed longingly at the cheerful array of packages, all wrapped in decorative red and green paper, I wondered what treasures awaited me. I wasn’t quite sure Mommy had been altogether justified in commanding me to wait. And, after all, it was Christmas Eve, so what difference would it really make if I opened my presents early? I mean, they really were addressed to me!

So, I scooted over to the Christmas tree, and found a present addressed to me from one of the high school girls that volunteered at the school for “orthopedically handicapped” children that I attended. It was a flat package, leading me to conclude that it as a more grown-up gift. The prospect of a grown-up gift reinforced the idea that I was old enough to determine when to open Christmas gifts!

I ripped the paper eagerly, unveiling Continue reading