Justin Peters, Phil Johnson And Andy Worhol: Why 15 Minutes Of Fame May Be Enough For Me

Head Stick Pics 007A couple weeks ago, I read a post by some blogging expert, offering tips on increasing traffic to your blog. To be honest, part of me would really love more readers. I was so excited last December when so many people, including Justin Peters and Phil Johnson, promoted my article, The Longings Of One Physically Disabled Woman. That little post garnered well over 3,000 views, and posts I wrote over the following week also were unusually popular. During that week, I gained almost 100 followers.

Quite a heady experience, I must say! I dared to believe I’d joined the ranks of Amy Spreeman, Erin Benziger and Michelle Lesley.

But my fame didn’t last. Nodding to Andy Worhol, my 15 minutes dwindled all too soon, and I nestled back into my obscure little corner of the Internet. So I now find myself hungrily reading posts by blogging experts in hopes of reclaiming that 15 minutes and making it last.

But the article suggested looking back at your most popular posts and writing more content on that topic.  At first, that advice thrilled me, because my viral article focused on a right view of heaven (a subject near and dear to my heart). Alas, subsequent blog posts on that issue have gone virtually unnoticed. I’ve therefore concluded that The Longings Of One Physically Disabled Woman was an inexplicable anomaly; I have absolutely no idea why it resonated with so many people.

My other popular posts all mention Beth Moore in the title. So I suppose people want to read pieces that expose false teachers (and perhaps gossip a little bit about them in the process). While there was a time when I didn’t mind scratching that itch, however, I no longer believe writing about her, Joyce Meyer, Lysa TerKeurst or any of the other popular false teachers is God’s calling on my life. Occasional references to them may have some merit, admittedly, but a steady diet of calling out false teachers simply doesn’t honor the Lord.

Since I was twelve and knew that I’d be a writer when I grew up, I’ve heard that writing must be about what you know and what you care about. Trying to adapt to the preferences of readers at the expense of personal integrity may bring a superficial success, but I think most writers eventually realize that continuing to do so amounts to literary prostitution.

The Longings Of One Physically Disabled Woman may have done so well because I wrote from my heart. I’m passionate that Christians stop imagining heaven in terms of how it will affect them, and instead look forward to worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ. But other articles I’ve written with the same degree of passion haven’t fared nearly as well. All the same, I know that I must write about what matters to me, even if I sacrifice having lots of views.  Compromising my writing for the sake of extending my proverbial 15 minutes of fame doesn’t honor the Lord and it cheapens The Outspoken TULIP.

So, I must reject the advice that blogging expert offered, even though it most likely means I’ll never achieve over 3,000 views on a single article again. Justin and Phil, thanks awfully for the ride and all that, but maybe I need to learn contentment with my little following.

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Why Are Men Reading This Woman Blogger?

Sping LaceMonday,  Tim Challies posted an article entitled Why Aren’t Men Reading Women Writers? The title amused me because I have trouble keeping men from reading my blog. Despite all my feminine artwork and my various statements that I write The Outspoken TULIP  exclusively for women, I know that several men read my articles regularly.

I can’t stop them from doing so, try as I may. But their persistence puzzles me.

And sometimes I laugh to myself that I would have loved having so many men following me when I was single! Doncha love the little ironies of life?

But I have no intention of writing yet another blog post explaining why I prefer writing for women. I’ve stated my reasons here and here. I realize that many people, including people I highly respect, see a distinction between teaching a mixed Adult Sunday School class and writing a blog post. Okay. Perhaps I err on the side of  caution. I must, however, stand on my convictions, which I draw from my study of God’s Word.

In response to Tim Challies’ article, I would ask why men should read the writing of women. Certainly we have much to contribute, even to theological conversations, but the mere fact that we have something worthwhile to say doesn’t necessarily mean that we should address ourselves to mixed audiences. What’s so terrible about limiting our sphere of influence to other women?

Do the men who read my blog suppose that I possess some spiritual insight that they won’t find from male bloggers? If so, gentlemen, you flatter me! In truth, however, I don’t bring anything original to the table. I’m just a lady who loves God’s Word and happens to enjoy writing about it. I figure I can, through this obscure little blog, inspire my sisters in the Lord to study Scripture. Sometimes women need to see that, although God reserves positions of general preaching and teaching for men, He welcomes women to study His Word carefully and seriously.

Hopefully I encourage women to study the Bible beyond fluffy, self-centered devotionals aimed at feeding their self-esteem. Women need to observe other women rightly handling God’s Word so that they will be emboldened to study Scripture for themselves. Men already have wonderful male role-models to emulate, and therefore don’t really require the wisdom of women for doctrinal growth.

Obviously, men will keep reading my blog no matter what I do. But I pray that they’ll ask themselves why they do so. And perhaps they’ll tell me.

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Sometimes Disability Ain’t No Fun

Tulip WaterOver the past few months, John and I have seen the need to let my evening Personal Care Attendant go. The reasons are best unmentioned, especially as I struggle with feelings of unforgiveness, but suffice it to say that we kept her on because we understood her financial situation and didn’t want her to lose any income. Hopefully, I’m not boasting about any magnanimous attitude on our part — we simply wanted to be as obedient to the Lord as possible under frustrating circumstances.

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.  ~~Matthew 7:12 (ESV)

A few weeks ago, however, we realized that keeping her just wasn’t fair to us. The encroachment on my time (her schedule necessitated putting me to bed earlier than I wanted) left little time to do digital art for this blog, and that fact weighed heavily on me. Of course, several other things added to the stress, and we finally worked out a plan with our pastor to let her go as fairly as possible.

Then yesterday she called with an unreasonable request. When we said no, she angrily quit.

Okay, that took a load of stress off of us. But now we need to interview people as well as lining up people to fill in until we hire someone.  Although we had already begun advertising last week, I put an ad on Craigslist last night and have received quadruple the responses than from the PCA Job Board. I know the Lord will provide.

As a result, however, I’ll have less time for blogging. I don’t like cutting back on this area of my life, but right now I see no other choice. I pray you’ll understand,  now that I have the liberty to explain the situation fully, and that you’ll  enjoy my archives until I can finally resume my regular blogging schedule.

John and I would greatly appreciate your prayers during this time of interviewing. Also, please pray for the gal who quit, as I see no evidence that she truly knows  Christ. Above all, please pray for my attitude to honor the Lord through this.  Thank you.

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Don’t Use Discernment Ministry To Tear Apart God’s People

Discernment ScrollDiscernment ministry, particularly online ministry, has suffered increasing criticism in the last six or seven months. The scrutiny has intensified as a result of online squabbling between well-known discernment ministries on Twitter and Facebook.

To be sure, the bickering and anathematizing generates terrible confusion. I find myself scrambling to figure out who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. Just when I think I have a handle on it, one of the good guys will link to one of the bad guys, or one of the bad guys will speak at a conference that the good guys host. So I’m left doubting my own discernment abilities, and wondering if I’ve misjudged people.

There are, certainly, individuals and ministries I definitely avoid. Other people within Reformed circles have no problem with these individuals and ministries. I’ve learned to disagree quietly, aware that I may be off-base in my assessments. Just because I participate in discernment blogging doesn’t mean my judgments are infallible. They’re most assuredly not!

And maybe other discernment bloggers and podcast hosts need to remember that occasionally they could make mistakes in calling out people. Obviously, there are blatantly false teachers like Beth Moore and Rick Warren; anyone can easily document their errors. But sometimes waters get murkier, and discernment bloggers end up labeling people as false teachers based on minor differences or incomplete research.

The individuals and ministries I avoid may or may not promote false teaching. So I’m learning to remain silent, or at least express my reservations very cautiously. In the past six months, I’ve come the conclusion that naming names should be done rarely, and only when someone definitely teaches false doctrine on a consistent basis.

I do realize that we must take care not to partner with those who embrace false teaching (see 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 and 2 John 10-11). But I question whether or not we take this principle a bit too far. You realize, for example, that John Piper has spoken at both The Shepherd’s Conference and Passion 2018. That being the case, should we write off John MacArthur because he gave a platform to someone who shared another platform with Beth Moore at Passion 2017?

I’ve asked a thorny question here. Sadly,  there are other thorny questions discernment ministries must struggle with if we play the guilt-by-association card too fastidiously. Sometimes we call someone a wolf in sheep’s clothing when they’re simply a little naive about who they affiliate with. Because discernment bloggers and podcast hosts can judge too harshly and/or too quickly at times, we need to remind ourselves of the apostle Paul’s counsel:

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. ~~Galatians 5:13-15 (ESV)

People make mistakes. People in discernment ministries make mistakes too. Discernment bloggers can too eagerly call out others who, in reality, may be solid teachers with a few blind spots.

Discernment ministry does greatly serve the body of Christ. In no way do I believe we should shut down discernment ministries in general. But I implore bloggers and podcasters to dial back the name calling and balance the critical rhetoric with sound teaching that enables readers and listeners to discern for themselves. Furthermore, let’s bear in mind that sometimes even solid teachers have areas of disagreement. Let’s use discernment ministry to build each other up, not tear each other apart.

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And Yes, My Heart Got Overwhelmed This Past Week

One of the difficulties inherent in embracing Reformed Theology lies in the tension between knowing the doctrine of God’s sovereignty and maintaining a trusting attitude when serious trials assault you. And if you blog about His sovereignty, you know people are watching to see whether or not you really believe what you so loudly profess.

Well, I’ve been tested quite a bit lately, starting with wheelchair problems that began over two weeks ago. Other issues, in varying degrees of intensity and severity, ensued, and I found myself struggling to trust the Lord to take care of me and John.

To God’s glory, the most threatening matters got resolved yesterday, thanks to a very alert pharmacist who took time to investigate and to my husband’s determination to fiddle with our printer. Other issues remain, including my temperamental wheelchair. New problems seem ready to pounce. And yes, I’ve been feeling quite overwhelmed amid it all.

By God’s providence, my reading plan had me in Psalms during the thickest part of these trials. So many songs my church sang back in the 80s came directly from Psalms, including one from Psalm 61 that resonates with my struggle to trust God’s sovereignty in my circumstances.  This ancient hymn of David set to 20th Century music reminds me that when my heart is overwhelmed, He will be the Rock that is higher than I.

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Writing: A Pleasure And A Responsibility

Header May 2013

Sometimes a writer writes simply for the fun of manipulating language. We take pleasure in the cadences of sentences and the textures of words. It delights us when a nimble vocabulary tames otherwise nebulous ideas, communicating them to anyone who bothers to read them. And if nobody reads them, we still savor the heady  experience of shaping words, sentences and paragraphs into something lovely.

Writing for its own sake has the advantage of training a writer how to develop his or her craft. The practice helps us fall in love with writing. That sense of romance in turn carries us through the difficult aspects of writing. When we strain for just the right way to phrase a concept, staring at an impatiently blinking cursor, we feel such exhilaration when the stubborn words suddenly decide to cooperate with us. Without the love of writing, we’d give up and find a mind numbing app to keep us unprofitably entertained.

Therefore, a moderate amount of writing merely to enjoy the act of bending language to one’s purpose has merit. It should not be shunned as frivolous or wasteful, but instead harnessed as a valuable tool in learning to use language efficiently.

That said, a Christian writer must indulge in writing for the sake of writing sparingly. A few exercises will renew our pleasure in the task, but it mustn’t distract us from our job of communicating the Gospel as long as the powers that govern the Internet allow us to do so.

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. ~~Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV)

Ladies, it doesn’t take a prophet to see that American Christians won’t have freedom to express Biblical views online much longer.  Major social media platforms have already begun clamping down on people who don’t embrace homosexuality as a positive sexual expression. In time (maybe less time than we imagine), any sort of writing about the Lord Jesus Christ that exalts Him will not be tolerated.

We actually shouldn’t find this prospect all that surprising. Jesus bluntly stated that we would be hatred because we represent Him (John 15:18-21). The United States Constitution may promise religions liberty, but the Holy Spirit assures us of persecution (2 Timothy 2:12). The time for blogging about the Lord grows extremely short, and we should expect as much.

But rather than bemoaning our impending loss of liberty, Christian writers should use their writing abilities as frequently and earnestly as we can to build God’s kingdom. We’ve been given only a few short years to proclaim the Gospel on social media, and it would be tragic to spend those years writing only to enjoy the fun of playing with language.

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