If I Don’t Take A Break, My Bones Might

Flourishes03Apparently, the cardinal rule for successful blogging is consistency. Establish a schedule, blogging experts advise, and stick to it. That shows your readers that they can depend on you. And, for the most part, I agree with this advice. Bloggers do have a responsibility to deliver consistent content when readers expect to receive it, if only as a matter of courtesy.

Although I ignore a lot of blogging rules (and do so without apology), I do try to blog daily. Additionally, I try to always post Saturday Samplers and Sunday Hymns. I know my little blog will never generate a large following, and I don’t believe any Christian blogger ought to judge his or her success by numbers,  but I definitely believe Continue reading

Do You Use Thomas Jefferson’s Scissors?

Thomas Jefferson

Photo taken at Dreamland Wax Museum in Boston

Legend has that Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States of America, would use scissors to cut out portions of the Bible that he didn’t like. I’m not sure he literally did so, but almost no one believes he held to orthodox Christian theology. According to this article on The Jefferson Foundation website, he certainly made himself a judge over how much of Scripture we should believe.

Yes, I wrote an article on this topic only last Friday. But l didn’t get to really address the underlying problem with the attitude that we can determine which parts of Scripture to embrace and which parts to reject.

Humans have elevated themselves over the Word of God since the beginning of creation. Look again at Satan’s tactic in seducing Eve:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. ~~Genesis 3:1-7 (ESV)

“C’mon, Eve, God didn’t really say that! Oh He did? Well, surely you know He just wanted to keep you down! You can stand up to His oppression.  As a matter of fact, eating this delectable fruit (doesn’t it look yummy?) will make you as intelligent as He is. I mean, you can already outwit Him just by ignoring His ridiculous little command.”

Pride always assures us that we know better than to believe that the Bible is actually God’s Word. When something in its pages doesn’t square with our theology, we play with the original language, decide it’s no longer applicable or we ignore it altogether. Like Thomas Jefferson and Eve, we declare our ability to decide what parts of Scripture to believe and what parts to cut out.

Such pride exalts self over God.

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What Are You Looking Forward To?

Many years ago, a friend asked me, “What are you looking forward to?”

Immediately I answered, “Heaven.”

“Well yeah,” he responded with a hint of impatience in his voice, “that’s a given. I meant, what are you looking forward to in the next few weeks?”

Isn’t his attitude indicative of our culture? As the movie title says, heaven can wait — we prefer to invest our thoughts and dreams in the here and now. We envision marriage, careers, children and retirement as fulfilling events that give life joy and meaning, rarely giving attention to eternal matters. Even as Christians, we get more excited about upcoming women’s conferences or our child’s baptism than about being face to face with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Perhaps we need to stop for a moment and remind ourselves of our ultimate vision. That conference and our child’s baptism should point us to Jesus. He must remain as our vision as we submit everything in our lives to Him. Of all that we look forward to, Jesus must be first and foremost.

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Saturday Sampler: June 2 — June 8

Tulips01Sometimes a Biblical answer surprises us. Read The Mailbag: Stay at Home Dads? by Michelle Lesley and see if she responds according to your expectations.

Enjoy Faith Sits — a pithy insight that Douglas Wilson shares on Blog & Mablog.

Elizabeth Prata is at least a decade younger than I am, but on The End Time she expresses thoughts that have flitted through my mind lately. So late so soon? puts my thoughts in Biblical perspective. Even if you’re still on the happier side of 50, you will benefit from this essay.

As much as we resist the idea, Spiritual growth comes through humility under the lash. Mike Ratliff supports this thesis in Possessing the Treasure by quoting both William Tyndale and the Word of God.

Check out Jared Olivetti’s How to disagree with your spiritual leaders on the Gentle Reformation blog. His tips could actually give you a better relationship with your pastor and/or elders as you show respect in expressing your concerns.

You’ve seen the memes: Moses Was a Murderer (and other things the Bible doesn’t say). Stephen McAlpine examines what the Bible says  about Moses, and explains the difficulties with memes of this nature.

Kim Shay, writing for Out of the Ordinary, answers the question, Do I Need to Change the World? I appreciate the way she looks to Romans 12 for the answer.

Over at Reformation 21, Lisa Robinson Spencer contributes her thoughts On Platt and Priorities. Whether or not you agree with her political positions, I hope you’ll recognize that she adheres to the Word of God in respect to praying for those in positions of secular authority. Her article displays both grace and spiritual maturity.

For an in-depth look at how the Lord blesses us through suffering, read Michael Coughlan’s Psalm 119:65-68 — Afflicted by God in Things Above Us. It may challenge your theology. Actually, it most likely will challenge your theology. But it will also assure you of God’s love and goodness when He calls you to go through difficulties.

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Who Gives Us Permission To Edit God’s Word?

Edited Bible 02

Yesterday I wrote an article using Scripture to substantiate the doctrine of hell. As painful as it is to think about people going to hell, we cannot dismiss the Bible’s many warnings about it simply because they offend our sensibilities. More broadly, we cannot interpret Scripture through the grid of human philosophies.

As we discuss hell, women preaching, Charismatic teaching or any other topic of debate, we need to look to the Word of God as the arbiter of truth. Not to C.S. Lewis or John Calvin. Not to sermons or YouTube videos. Not even to blog posts on The Outspoken TULIP. These resources may or may not be helpful if they point us to Scripture, but we must be careful not to let them have equal authority to God’s Word.

Furthermore, we must never allow ourselves to edit God’s Word to suit Continue reading

Reprise: Summer Wardrobes And Stumbling Brothers

Before you put on that cute little sundress that you’ve been dying to wear, consider the points I made in this June 12, 2017 blog post:

Young Couple 02At the outset, let me say that a man bears complete responsibility for lustful thoughts and actions, regardless of how a woman dresses. As you read this blog post, please don’t mischaracterize me as excusing rape, sexual harassment or even lustful fantasies. Men must, in all circumstances, remain pure in their interactions with women, even when a woman dresses provocatively.

Have I made myself clear? If not, close this article right now, and maybe read Scriptures on the importance of sexual purity for both men and women. But if you understand that I by no means condone rape, sexual harassment or lustful fantasies in men, please keep reading. And remember, this blog is directed specifically at women, making it unnecessary (and kind of ridiculous) for me to address men on how to deal with scantily clad women during the summer months.

But ladies, I certainly can talk to you about our responsibility toward our brothers in Christ. The fact that the Lord holds them responsible to control their responses when they see too much skin or silhouette doesn’t negate our responsibility to dress modestly and carry ourselves in a manner that doesn’t call undue attention to our sexuality. Our brothers in Christ deserve the same respect from us that we want from them.

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. ~~Romans 14:13 (ESV)

God created men to respond to visual stimuli, just as He created us to respond to emotional attention. When I was single, I was constantly falling for guys who, out of  compassion for my disability, treated me tenderly. They didn’t intend to communicate romantic interest, but they almost always set my heart fluttering.

I failed to control my fantasies when those brothers gave me emotional attention. I had the responsibility to guard my heart, and I very well knew that I shouldn’t have read things into their actions that they never intended to convey. But they needed a man to teach them how women are wired. They needed to understand that their behavior (although well-meaning) led me into sin.

Similarly, we need to understand that God created men to respond to visual images. Within marriage, they quite appropriately respond when they admire the bodies of their wives. God designed them that way.

But precisely because God designed them to respond to visual stimuli, women bear a responsibility to dress in ways that discourage men (other than their husbands) from looking at us in inappropriate ways. Certainly, I get that some men will look no matter how modestly we dress, and they will have to answer to the Lord for doing so. That said, that same Lord holds us accountable if we deliberately dress for the purpose of attracting attention to our bodies.

I’m not suggesting that we dress like frumps. Rather, I want to remind you to be careful, during these hot summer months, not to expose our body parts in ways that could cause our brothers to stumble. Our wish to stay cool, while important, mustn’t supplant their need to remain pure.

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