Castle Ruins And Doctrine

Conway Castle in North Wales, 1985

I sat in the restaurant, munching my fish and chips. Almost out of nowhere, my friend complained, “Our church doesn’t teach enough doctrine.”

His remark startled me. I wasn’t so much startled because he said it for no apparent reason (we had been talking about the Welsh castle we’d visited earlier that day) as I was that he considered doctrine to have any serious significance. Looking back, I find it rather pathetic that I thought such a thing only a few weeks before graduating from a three-month Bible College (which incidentally didn’t teach much doctrine either), but in 1985 I believed that spiritual experiences were more important than dry theology. Being in a Charismatic school only reinforced my attitude.

The Lord has obviously corrected my erroneous thinking since that lunch in Wales. He’s brought me to a place of valuing sound doctrine as the very basis of a vibrant relationship with Christ. If we take another look at Titus 2:2-6, we’ll see that sound doctrine (or being sound in faith) is an important element of Christian maturity.

But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so the word of God will not be dishonored.

Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us. ~~Titus 2:1-8 (NASB95)

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Before I Throw Stones At Rick Warren

Unless the Lord builds the house,

They labor in vain who build it;

Unless the Lord guards the city,

The watchman keeps awake in vain. ~~Psalm 127:1 (NASB95)

Almost seven years ago I abandoned the blog I’d kept to showcase my writing and digital artwork, believing the Lord would be better honored with a blog focused on discipling women for discernment through doctrine. I don’t for a minute regret that decision. The Outspoken TULIP has been a wonderful experience so far, and I hope the Holy Spirit will continue to use it to minister His Word to my sisters in Christ. It’s a delight to focus on Scripture and the Lord in my blogging.

Blogs dedicated to writing for its own sake have their place, mind you — I’ve actually encouraged one or two young writers to start blogging expressly for the purpose of getting their writing into circulation. These days, publishers won’t consider manuscripts unless a writer has a blog with at least 1000 followers. So please don’t think that I’m disparaging blogs that have the purpose of displaying someone’s writing skills. If I was young, perhaps I’d blog for that reason.

But I’m no longer young, and I no longer have an interest in selling my writing. Rather, I have an interest in serving God through this little blog.

At least, I thought that’s all I wanted out of blogging until last week.

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Saturday Sampler: July 3 — July 9

Did Gay Pride Month get you down? It definitely can be wearing! That’s why Don’t Be Discouraged by Pride Month by Robby Lashua offers such a refreshing perspective. This article, published on the Stand to Reason website, reminds us Who controls the calendar.

I don’t know how many of you follow the antics of the Southern Baptist Convention, nor do I know how many of you even care. But for those of us who are concerned, Michelle Lesley writes The Mailbag: How could anyone stay in the SBC now? it’s a lengthy article, but very helpful to those who struggle with whether or not to stay in an SBC church.

Elizabeth Prata uses the example of Solomon’s marriage to the daughter of Pharaoh in The End Time to illustrate that You cannot pet sin, it will always bite you. Please don’t dismiss her post with the assumption that you already understand the consequences of sin. Elizabeth puts a finer point on the matter, leading us toward greater maturity in sanctification.

Have you ever seen the optical illusion depicting (depending on your perception) either a beautiful young woman or an old hag? Jesse Johnson, in a post for The Cripplegate, uses that image as an analogy for how we can understand the implications of Christ’s temptation in the wilderness. The temptation: beautiful young woman or old hag? may enhance your appreciation of that familiar Bible narrative.

Have you heard about evangelicals who claim to deconstruct the faith? It has been a trend over the last few years, and seems to have gained momentum lately. In an article for Slave to the King, Chris Hohnholz examines this phenomenon to explain why Deconstruction is Not Reformation.

What can catching fireflies on a summer evening teach us about our attitude toward sin? In a post on Growing 4 Life, Leslie A muses on this matter. Flying Free calls us to look at those sins that seem inconsequential (or at least understandable) as well as the freedom we have to fly away from them.

Saturday Sampler: June 26 — July 2

Starting with some fascinating trivia about Handel’s Messiah, Clint Archer of The Cripplegate encourages us to Sing Hallelujah! He takes us through one of the psalms as a threefold example of why we should praise God.

The big wedding month has just ended, but it’s never too late for sound marriage advice — especially if it comes from the Bible. Elizabeth Prata writes Michal: The Wrong Foundation for Marriage in The End Time as an encouragement to build on godly values rather than superficial attraction. Using the account of David’s marriage to Saul’s daughter, Elizabeth guides us through a few dangers we face when we emphasize the wrong things.

Tim Challies says that it’s Not a Lack of Food, But a Lack of Hunger that causes spiritual starvation. He then shows us a few ways to feed ourselves on the abundance of spiritual resources.

Let’s be honest: all of us struggle to pay attention when our pastors stand up to preach on Sunday morning. So Mark Barnes, in a post for the Logos blog, suggests, If You Find Listening to Sermons Boring, Try This. He walks us through the steps of active preparation, engagement and digestion to get the maximum benefit from pulpit ministry.

Gentle Reformation features an article and letter to the editor about Gay Pride that Kit Swartz wrote to a local newspaper. The points are Biblical and brilliant, showing the courage to speak truth even when government and media cling to lies. What a wonderful example of standing for Scripture in a world that rejects God’s pattern for sexuality!

I’ve enjoyed Peter Krol’s series on the proper uses of commentaries in Knowable Word this past ten weeks. He wraps up the series with Credit Where Credit is Due as a short reminder. At the beginning of his post, he offers a link to his ten commandments of commentary usage, providing a handy reference page that we can bookmark.

Self-Control: Yes, Even In 2022!

Rioting seems commonplace these days. Whenever a group of people doesn’t get its way, you can count on mass protests that usually involve violence. On social media, rage is a dominant theme, and for decades psychologists have encouraged us to vent our emotions.

Meanwhile, the thought of saving sex for marriage (and then being faithful to one’s spouse) is met with incredulous stares and outright ridicule. In Western culture, people now expect to indulge in whatever pleasure they choose without repercussions. As we exit Pride Month and watch the meltdown over Roe v Wade being overturned, we can’t avoid seeing how desperately people want to enjoy sexual pleasure without any restraint. I still remember my ex-boyfriend begging me, “Let’s lose our self-control.”

To which, incidentally, I answered, “Let’s not.” But I digress.

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Joy, Grief And Two Governors

Massachusetts State House

Friday stunned me at first. I was still creating graphics for that day’s and Saturday’s blog posts, so I hadn’t yet gone online. John, however, was online, and suddenly exclaimed, “They overturned Roe!” I mumbled the obligatory “Praise God,” but kept working on my drawing, It took almost five minutes for me to realize that prayers I’d been praying for 42 years had finally been answered!

I’ve actually lived to see one of the most vile Supreme Court rulings in history declared unconstitutional!

PRAISE GOD!!!

My mumbled response turned to exuberant joy as I started thinking about His grace in giving us Supreme Court Justices with the courage to stand against culture in order to support the original intent of the Constitution. I’d prayed for this wonderful day, having been involved in pro-life ministry back in the 1980s. Like most pro-life people, weariness had discouraged me to the point that I didn’t seriously expect to see Roe overturned in my lifetime. What an amazing day! What a day to celebrate and rejoice in the Lord!

Saturday morning, John turned on our local news station. Living near Boston, I expected a little rain on the parade, so I braced myself a bit. Evidently, I didn’t brace well enough, because the first story announced (almost with a tone of reassurance) that Governor Charlie Baker had immediately issued an Executive Order “protecting reproductive rights.”

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Saturday Sampler: June 19 — June 25

I’m glad Chris Hohnholz has started blogging more frequently at Slave to the King, although John and I have been more than happy with his weekly postings of the Voice of Reason Radio podcasts that he co-hosts with his friend, Richard Story. Chris warns us that The Most Dangerous Thing We Can Say is “We’ve got to do something!” Find out why he opposes that mindset.

In her article for CBMW, Sharon James lists 5 Reasons Why We Should Not Stop Using Male Pronouns for God by appealing to God’s authority in revealing Himself. I recommend this piece both for its excellent handling of God’s Word and for its reverence for the Lord.

Elizabeth Prata warns Christians to Run Away From Temptation Island in The End Time. She starts by admonishing us to avoid a certain television show, but uses her admonition to then counsel us against flirting with temptation of any sort. Her conclusion brings hope and encouragement that you won’t want to miss.

Even as Christians, we often struggle to take life as seriously as we ought. So Teach Us to Number Our Days by Cindy Matson of Bible Study Nerd examines a psalm that Moses wrote, applying it to the intricacies of contemporary life. Personally, I like her thoughts on how enjoying a piece of chocolate can help us number our days. Are you numbering your days well?

Sometimes our troubles cause us such despair that we struggle to look at the bigger picture, as Tim Challies demonstrates in The Thing About Light and Momentary. I love his balance in acknowledging human emotion while maintaining the truth of God’s Word.

Peter Krol of Knowable Word has been writing a wonderfully helpful series on the proper use of Bible Commentaries over the past several weeks. His latest installment, Your Test: Can You Do What the Commentator Did?, gets down to the heart of what he’s been trying to communicate all along. Even if you’ve missed his previous posts, don’t pass this one up!

Indeed, yesterday was A Day To Celebrate! Robin Self of A Worthy Walk rejoices over the Supreme Court’s courageous decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Robin acknowledges that there’s still a long way to go before abortion is completely abolished in the United States, but we can praise God for this amazing milestone as we keep fighting and praying. To God be the glory!

The Hidden Reefs In Worship Songs

Jude famously wrote his epistle to warn believers against false teachers. He used several strong images to describe them, ensuring that his readers would understand the danger these teachers presented. Let me quote a couple of verses with these images.

12 These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. ~~Jude 12-13 (NASB95)

He begins by calling them hidden reefs. Living in the First Century when travel depended on boats and ships, Jude undoubtedly knew how unseen reefs could tear up a sailing vessel before the sailors even knew a reef was there. He chose this image to emphasize his point from verse 4 that false teachers come into churches under the radar, avoiding detection by blending in with church culture. Often, Christians don’t realize they’ve been deceived by these false teachers until it’s too late. These figurative hidden reefs shipwreck the faith of unsuspecting souls.

In the 21st Century, false teachers seem to be all over the place, requiring that we know the Word of God backwards and forwards. To this end, it’s imperative that we submit ourselves to churches in which our pastors not only preach with faithfulness to Scripture but also encourage us to rightly divide the Word. In most cases, familiarity with the Bible is the best defense against falling into deception.

This past week, however, I learned that sometimes even the best shepherds can unintentionally let a stray wolf wander into the fold. This potentially serious mistake usually happens when they put too much trust in leaders of the music team.

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Horrified Fascination: Thoughts On Last Week’s SBC Annual Meeting

I’m relatively new to the Southern Baptist Convention, and I belong to a SBC church that largely ignores what the upper echelons do. Our pastor identifies more with Grace Community Church and The Master’s Seminary than with any SBC entity (at least as far as I can tell). Following Michelle Lesley, Founders’ Ministries and various people on Twitter has generated my interest in the Southern Baptist Convention over the past three or four years. I therefore begin this blog post with the necessary acknowledgment that I don’t know as much as I should about the organization.

I only watched the Tuesday and Wednesday live streams of the meeting, but judging from my Twitter feed, most of the action happened during those two sessions. Consequently, my remarks will be focused on what I personally witnessed. If anyone reading this article watched more — or was actually there — and can correct my perception, please use the Comment Section to offer more clarity.

Despite my disclaimer, I have definite opinions that I believe I can express with some degree of Biblical accuracy. Please consider these opinions, not as me whining because things didn’t go as I wanted (although I am angry, disappointed and extremely disgusted by what happened), but as a sober warning. Even though not all of you belong to SBC churches, the events of last week should remind all of us that we can fall all too easily into compromise with the world.

 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. ~~1 Corinthians 10:12 (NASB95)

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Saturday Sampler: June 12 — June 18

Have you been thinking about heaven lately? I have! Apparently so has Tim Challies, as evidenced by his wonderful mediation, The Harder Our Earth, the Sweeter Our Heaven. If life is hard for you right now, Tim’s words might give you the encouragement you need.

Speaking of attitudes during suffering, Elizabeth Prata of The End Time writes Job vs. Naomi: How do we respond when circumstances take a downturn? This interesting comparison between two prominent people of the Old Testament can help us respond to our trials in ways that honor the Lord.

When Cindy Matson begins with an allusion to Shakespeare, my background as an English Literature major perks up. Of course, Bible Study Nerd is a blog about the Bible, not literature, so she merely uses The Bard to introduce us to Prayers to Kill the Green-Eyed Monster of jealousy. The direction of the prayers she suggests may surprise you.

In Growing 4 Life this week, a biographical sketch of John Bunyan and a truck bed full of discarded Legos lead Leslie A to muse on Life and Legos. She writes with humility and candor about her own struggles to maintain an eternal perspective, assuring us that God works patiently to develop our characters.

Many of us watching the live stream of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting this week were incensed when they allowed Rick Warren to speak from the floor. Chris Hohnholz was one of us. His reaction, On Rick Warren, Women Pastors, and “Secondary Issuesappears in Slave to the King with excellent evidence that the matter of women in the pulpit is definitely important. His passion for God’s Word makes this post well worth your time and attention.

Peter Krol continues his series on the “commandments” of commentary use by writing Facts vs. Implications in Commentaries for Knowable Word. Admittedly, this is a difficult distinction to grasp, so you can’t really skim through this article. But I think it’s well worth the effort if we want to enhance our Bible Study time with the wisdom of Bible scholars.