Flashback Friday — Journaling: The Pitfall We Should Recognize

Originally published May 16, 2018:

Little blonde angel

Between the autumn of 1977 and the spring of 1994, I kept a personal journal. I’d write about a wide variety of topics, ranging from Scriptures I’d read in my Quiet Time (frequently taken out of context and misapplied) to practical jokes I played on my friends. For the most part, however, I wrote about my disappointments, my frustrations and my fears. Toward the end of that 17-year period,  I realized that journaling served mainly to fuel my self-pity. For that reason, I abruptly quit writing it.

Perhaps some people can journal without focusing on themselves. Those people should certainly maintain journals! Their journals offer rich treasures to those who read them. But I suspect, especially in this culture that exalts feelings and believes in following psychological principles, that most people use their journals for the purpose of venting.

After 17 years of venting my feelings, I woke up to the fact that venting only keeps a person’s attention fixed on his or her problems. Venting through a journal is even worse, in my opinion, because the act of writing slows down the thought process, prolonging the focus on a subject. So when someone uses a personal journal to ruminate on their feelings, should it surprise us that we wind up wallowing in self-absorbtion?

Self-absorbtion, however,  is the antithesis of Biblical Christianity. Christ demands that His followers actually die to ourselves for His sake.

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” ~~Mark 8:34-38 (ESV)

Popular evangelical teachers promise us “our best life now” and romantic dates with Jesus, urging us to get in touch with our feelings. They advise hurting women to stay home from church on Mother’s Day and write their feelings out “to the Lord.” What horrible advice!

Honestly confessing our feelings to the Lord is one thing. Job, David, Jeremiah and Jesus all had times of pouring their hearts out to God. But in so doing, they invariably wound up acknowledging His sovereign right to order their circumstances according to His will. They ultimately turned their eyes away from themselves and back to Him.

If you keep a personal journal that revolves around your disappointments, frustrations and fears, please consider the possibility that it may be locking you into patterns of self-absorbtion. If possible, turn your journal into something your descendants can read to find Christ. Let them see that, no matter what your circumstances, He remains faithful and deserves the glory.

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The Roarings Of Woke Evangelicals

More and more, evangelicals demand all manner of social justice. The predominant issue is reparations for racial inequality, but the umbrella also covers women’s rights and LBGTQ concerns. The Black Lives Matter crusade is actually a cleverly marketed program to transform the culture into a Marxist society.

People are buying it because they’ve ignored history to the point of not understanding that socialism really amounts to communism, and communism is infinitely more oppressive than the alleged systemic racism and binary patriarchy of our present culture.

Although it troubles me that non-Christians embrace this velvet gloved Marxism, I can understand how they fall into such deception. It bothers me to a far greater extent that evangelicals (even some within the Reformed camp) have jumped on various corners of this bandwagon, many going so far as to claim social justice as a Gospel issue.

I thought of this dangerous false teaching as I worked through Psalm 74 this morning.

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Keys To Discernment: Disappointment And Encouragement

When I posted my first installment of the Keys To Discernment Bible Study on Colossians back in January, I was excited. I had spent several months working through the text. I read commentaries, took notes and acquainted myself with the text. Colossians is my favorite book of the Bible, and the thought of teaching it thrilled me.

When I broke my back at the end of February, obviously I had to discontinue the series for a while. But as my strength returned, I rebooted the series and then managed to write a couple new installments. I covered my very favorite passage of Scripture:

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I’m Not Letting Go Without A Fight!

Not only do I type with a headstick, but I drive my power wheelchair with my face. Having a strong neck is crucial to my daily function, particularly as a blogger.

So you can probably guess that the severe neck pain that I’v been feeling since a week ago yesterday has alarmed me and John considerably.

We got Blue Emu last night. I tried my first application this morning, and so far I haven’t had any significant relief. Some reviews said it works immediately, while others said it takes a few days. Still others said it was a complete waste of money. So I’m asking the Lord to let it work for me. So that I can keep working for Him.

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I Couldn’t Have Paid Anything

Most of us have no idea of how extensive our sin is. Personally, I can understand it only by realizing that erasing it required nothing less than the innocent blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But I do know that I have absolutely no resources with which to atone for my sin. Any good that I might have done could never outweigh the ways that I have offended the thrice holy God. My debt towards Him is just too formidable.

Thankfully, Jesus is a merciful God Who took my debt upon Himself. He graciously paid the entire price of my sin, leaving me free to worship God with a clear conscience. Throughout eternity, I will praise Him for paying a debt that I never could have paid.

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Saturday Sampler: September 6 — September 12

In his weekly contribution to The Cripplegate, Clint Archer writes Behold the Lamb: The Trinity Testifies as evidence that God exists in three Persons simultaneously. Those of you who wish to develop discernment skills will find this article indispensable in recognizing false teaching about the Trinity.

Deb Martin of Solid Food Resources addresses the question: How Do We Grow? by taking us back to some basic disciplines. No matter how spiritually mature we think we are, it never hurts to revisit the fundamentals.

As usual, Leslie A pulls no punches. In her Growing 4 Life article, Those Deceptive, Capacious Feelings, she exposes the frightening power that emotions have over us. We need to consider her words and then examine our lives accordingly.

In The End Time, Elizabeth Prata reminds us why we must expose false teachers. Error vs. truth: Jesus takes the difference seriously, so should we looks at a passage from Zechariah to show us the importance of standing against wrong doctrine.

I’m delighted that Peter Krol writes Context Matters: The Cattle on a Thousand Hills for Knowable Word. I recently read Psalm 50 in my personal devotions, and noticed that the popular application of the Lord owning the cattle on a thousand hills has absolutely nothing to do with the context of that verse. Please read Krol’s article for a lesson on how to properly handle God’s Word.

Bringing back a post she wrote two years ago, Michelle Lesley profiles 5 Church Ladies You Don’t Want to Be. Besides its entertainment value, this piece helps us take a little spiritual inventory regarding our relationship with our local church.

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Flashback Friday: A Woman With Birth Defects Looks At Abortion

Originally published January 25, 2018. My dear friend Ginny reminded me of this article after getting me up yesterday and witnessing the terrible pain I’ve been experiencing lately,

Bride&Mother
Me and Mom on my wedding day

When doctors discovered that I had serious birth defects, they advised my mother to put me in an institution and forget she ever had me. According to them, I’d be a vegetable my entire life.  (Thus John refers to me as his spicy little tomato.) Thankfully,  Mom rejected their counsel, put me through college and lived to see me get married a month before my 49th birthday.

My mother didn’t raise a turnip, thank you very much!

All joking aside, I understand that the doctors sincerely believed they made a humane recommendation. Certainly, because they doubted that I had cognitive function, they concluded that I couldn’t possibly tell the difference between a loving home and an institution. And, more importantly (from their perspective), my parents would be spared the anguish of having a severely disabled child.

Mom knew that doctors aren’t God. They have limited powers in predicting an infant’s future. So she brought me home and proceeded to make my childhood as normal and happy as possible. When one teacher told her I’d never go to high school, she informed him that she fully intended for me to attend college. When my occupational therapist insisted that she tell me I’d never marry, she countered, “I can’t tell her something that I don’t know myself.”

Those chilling words, “Put her in an institution and forget you ever had her,” horrified my mother. They horrify me. They horrify everyone who hears the story, as well they should! Doctors have no right to predict a baby’s future and advise a new mother to put the baby away. Had Mom followed their recommendation, both of us would have suffered for the rest of our lives.

I praise God for His sovereignty in giving me a mother who refused to give up her dreams for me. Cerebral Palsy definitely has its challenges, I admit, but the Lord has blessed me with a joyful life.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them. ~~Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV)

Thinking about the doctors’ prediction 64 years ago makes me think about present-day doctors who, on the basis of prenatal tests, recommend abortion to women carrying children with potential birth defects. Typically, they reason that such children, in addition to imposing an enormous financial and emotional burden on the family, would needlessly suffer a low quality of life.

But how can anyone accurately predict the future of a baby who is still in the womb, even if genetic testing indicates birth defects? Perhaps a child will be nothing more than a vegetable, but even then, God might have a purpose for that life.  As a matter of fact, He used such a man to bring me to repentance of self-pity.

Usually,  however, children born with birth defects exceed expectations and live full, productive lives. Aborting them simply because of possible disabilities (especially when the extent of those disabilities couldn’t possibly be determined until well into childhood) seems both arrogant and cruel. Using potential disability as a rationale for aborting a child is horrifying to me.

Actually, the rationale for aborting any child is horrifying to me.

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Equally Preliminary Thoughts On Feminism

As demonstrated in my last blog post, I question some of the tenets of the Patriarchy Movement. Sadly, in this era of polarization, the assumption is that so much as questioning patriarchy means an embrace of feminism.

I think that’s a false dichotomy.

My husband will be the first to tell you that I’m far from being a feminist. True, I struggle to submit to him as well as I should. But even in confessing my struggles in submission, I agree with Scripture that my responsibility as a wife is to submit to John’s authority as my husband.

At our wedding, we chose Ephesians 5:22-33 as our Scripture reading:

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Preliminary Thoughts On Patriarchy

Our 10th annivesery, August 24, 2012

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I’m absolutely not a feminist. I reject egalitarian marriage as well as egalitarian church leadership. The Lord gave men positions of authority in family and church. No Christian should argue against that fact.

That said, I’ve recently begun reading about the Patriarchy Movement, and so far I don’t like what I see.

From what I understand, patriarchy stems from the conviction that feminism has hurt our culture. To a large extent, I would agree with that premise. It would be better if mothers stayed at home and homeschooled their children while their husbands worked outside the home.

But patriarchy doesn’t seem to allow for any variation to that model. Drawing from Titus 2:5, they insist that women not work outside the home. Some I’ve read have gone so far as to teach that girls should not go to college, but should instead concentrate on learning domestic arts in preparation for marriage.

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He Hadn’t Forgotten Me, So Why Would He Forget You?

John wore his new black suit, and I wore a wedding gown that a friend had generously given me. Both of us had waited decades for this day, often despairing that marriage would pass us by. In less than two weeks, John would turn 53, and my 49th birthday would follow a few weeks after that.

So yes, we endured years of attending weddings. We rejoiced with friends and relatives as they took their vows, always wondering when — if — our turn would ever come. We agonized in prayer, wanting to accept singleness if that was God’s will, even as we begged Him to send us someone “to have and to hold.”

I chose Great Is Thy Faithfulness as one of the songs for our wedding because the Lord so faithfully brought us together and made marriage possible for two people who had been severely physically disabled since childhood. As we sang that hymn, I reflected on God’s goodness in bringing us to that church.

God may not answer all your prayers the way you want Him to. Last I checked, I neither have a puppy nor an apartment in downtown Boston. God’s faithfulness to you may look a great deal different than His faithfulness to me and John. But in whatever way best suits His purposes for you. He doesn’t play favorites. Great is His faithfulness to you, just as it has been great to me.

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