Category Archives: Blogging

A Dalliance With Hypocrisy

Bible Shadow

What a wonderful feeling to wake up having my blog post completely mapped out, including cross-references! Such a thing rarely happens, so I tingled most of the morning with anticipation.

The idea came to me after I went to bed last night. In bed, I can’t hold either a physical Bible or my computer, but that didn’t bother me. I knew the passage I’d use. I’d look it up after my devotional reading in the morning, and then I’d write a fantastic post that would surely impress my readers.

Successfully avoiding the temptation to replace my regular reading with blog research, I deliberately slowed my pace to make certain that I properly understood the passage in my devotional reading. I took careful notes, making sure I read each verse in context. At last I finished. Confidently, I located the passage for my blog post and began reading.

Oh no! In my prideful little mind, I had merged two distinct instances from Jesus’ life. The entire premise of the post I’d planned had no historical basis. For a naughty moment, I tried to figure out ways to make my narrative work, only to realize that doing so required mishandling the very Word of God.

What a vile thought! How could I consider such a thing?

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit convicted me right away, making it abundantly clear that the blockbuster post I’d concocted in bed last night couldn’t be written. At least not with any sense of integrity. Obviously, any attempt to write such a flagrant misrepresentation of Scripture (besides being absolutely ridiculous) would be the height of hypocrisy.

Actually, the temptation happened much more quickly than this account indicates. I’ve only realized the seriousness of it by typing it all out. I don’t believe I really would have attempted to mangle God’s Word that badly.

So I didn’t know what to write today. I considered not writing at all, or reblogging something from my archives. I decided that humbling myself and confessing my dalliance with hypocrisy might help you appreciate the importance of handling Scripture respectfully. The more I think about it, the more I realize that Paul’s instruction to Timothy also applies to lowly bloggers.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. ~~1 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)

God’s Word must never be manipulated to suit our convenience. Scripture is nothing less than the very Word of God, and therefore deserves to be treated with the utmost respect. Perhaps the Lord used my self-serving moment of folly to remind me to handle His Word reverently and with the awareness of what a valuable treasure it is.

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Insights Resulting From A Haircut

Window View Lace CurtainsDo you ever have one of those days where you just didn’t structure your time efficiently? I knew my friend was coming to give us haircuts this morning, and I knew she’d come later than expected. But rather than using the time going through emails or (ahem!) reading my Bible, I experimented with my digital art program.

After she left, I did read my Bible and I went through most of my emails. That, of course, left little time for blogging. Especially about the topics that have been rumbling around in my head lately.

Knowing that I’ll be taking most of next week off from blogging (my sister is coming from California to visit) increases the pressure I feel to blog today. That’s probably not healthy. I should be disciplined in blogging, yes — but not legalistic! This blog exists to honor the Lord, not to keep me under tyranny.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. ~~Galatians 5:1 (ESV)

Even through blogging is my ministry, the Lord never intended that I become enslaved to it. It’s a tool for serving Him, not a means of maintaining His favor. Shame on me for allowing such a wonderful way of serving Him to morph into a thing of bondage!

Yes, I should have organized my time better. But God’s grace is sufficient, even for that. And perhaps that’s the whole point of this blog post. Perhaps some of you feel driven, especially as he holidays approach, to be Ms. Perfect, doing everything you expect yourselves to do in order to keep the Lord happy. Maybe all of us needed this reminder that He’s already clothed us in His righteousness.

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500 Years Later, And Why We Dare Not Forget

ancient-church-01

So it’s the week before the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation’s official start, and I’ve been blogging almost every Tuesday since November 1, 2016 about it. I’d hoped, when I first started this series,  to get well past Luther in order to show the Reformers who actually surrendered their lives for the sake of God’s Word.

I didn’t meet that goal.

Daily blogging left me little time to research the men and women of the Reformation.  I had good intentions, mind you, but I just couldn’t budget my time appropriately. For that reason, a few months ago I shifted my focus to merely trying to keep the Reformation before you. In recent months,  I tried to demonstrate that the Reformation impacts Christian thought today, and that ignoring its emphasis on faith alone and Scripture alone places us in grave danger of repeating the apostasy that the Reformers protested in the first place.

As I’ve written countless times throughout this series, the Reformers each stood against the distorted teachings and practices of Roman Catholicism as a result of reading the Word of God. Once they saw how far Rome had deviated from the Bible, they sought to make Scripture available to everyone both through preaching and through translating it into common languages.

Of course,  I’ve oversimplified matters. The Reformation was far more complex,  and years passed before Reformed Theology reached its full development. As a Reformed Baptist (admittedly something that would have made Calvin’s skin crawl), I appreciate the move away from infant baptism, for example. Most 16th Century Reformers actually persecuted the Anabaptists for refusing to baptize their babies, and they probably would be quite perplexed that some 21st Century Baptists claim the Reformed tradition.

I hope any Presbyterian women reading that last paragraph won’t write me off!

Anyway, my point is that,  although I realize how varied the issues involved in the Reformation are, the two primary issues of justification by faith alone and the exclusive authority of Scripture remain the watershed issues that divide Protestants from Catholics. And evangelicals dare not compromise on either.

Sadly,  we indeed have compromised. For the most part, professing Christians regard the Roman Catholic Church as simply another Christian denomination. That perspective, while it certainly seems charitable, forgets the Reformers who risked (and sometimes gave) their lives in order to stand against the erroneous teachings and practices of Roman Catholicism. The dividing lines that they once drew in reverence for the Gospel,  we now blur for the sake of a unity with those who follow a different gospel.

The Reformation, 500 years ago, brought Christians back to the Bible, which in turn lead people to the Gospel of justification by faith alone. If I continually plead with you to remember the Reformation, I do so because the purity of the Gospel depends on it. Well after next Tuesday (a glorious day of celebration), I will continue periodically blogging about the Reformation. I pray you’ll continue thinking about it and that you’ll stand firmly for the Gospel that motivated the Reformers.

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Teachers Need To Tremble

Negative GirlAs Bible-believing Christians, we certainly have a responsibility to confront sin in our Christian brothers and sisters, as well as in our culture at large. In no way do I want my readers to infer by today’s essay that I’ve done a 180 regarding this matter. Biblical discernment often requires taking a visible stand against ideas and people that contradict sound doctrine.

Furthermore, discernment necessitates making judgments based on the Word of God. So yes, there’s an appropriate time and place for judging sin within the Body of Christ (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 5:9-13). In our exercise of discernment, however, that same Word of God commends us to confront sin in an attitude of humility and reverent fear.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. ~~Galatians 6:1-3 (ESV)

This passage encourages us to address sin in fellow believers. But I want you to particularly notice the emphasis on then admitting our own vulnerabilities to the very sins we call out in others.

Sometimes, we can think we’re pretty hot stuff. We see the ways that other professing Christians dishonor the Lord, and we know all the Scriptures to use in urging them to repent. But we forget that we also cave into temptation — many times the same temptation that we just corrected in that other person. When that happens, the person we corrected has every right to judge our hypocrisy.

Of course I’m not saying that we have to be perfect in order to confront sin in others. Actually, I’m saying something almost opposite. In correcting someone, we must be aware of our own propensity to sin. Therefore we must approach the issue knowing that we also need God’s grace as we aspire to live in obedience and holiness. The same Lord Who demands holiness in others also demands holiness in us.

This responsibility particularly weighs on those who teach. The Lord’s half-brother James points this principle out in his epistle:

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. ~~James 3:1 (ESV)

As a blogger (and perhaps even a discernment blogger), I tremble a bit at passages like Galatians 6:1-3 and James 3:1. Bloggers, in essence, serve as role-models to our readers, even if we blog simply for the purpose of thinking out loud. The act of blogging automatically transforms us into teachers. So when I write posts instructing my readers towards holy living and obedience to God’s Word, the Lord holds me responsible to live consistently with my writing.

Please understand, therefore, that I write with a profound sense of responsibility to align my thoughts, attitudes and behaviors with the Biblical principles that I set before you each time I blog. If I address a sin in others or advocate personal holiness in a specific area, rest assured that my husband and the leadership of my church watch me carefully. More importantly, the Lord watches. I write with the understanding that I can be tempted.

May all of us cultivate that type of understanding and keep watch on ourselves.

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Maybe This Is A Discernment Blog After All

Discernment ScrollLooking over my blog stats, I easily see that readers gravitate toward articles on discernment. This tendency both frustrates and encourages me.

My frustration comes because I believe that most evangelicals make a correlation between discernment and outing false teachers. And, while sometimes we in fact do need to name names and expose trends that subtly contradict the Bible, discernment bloggers run the risk of branding orthodox believers as heretics merely because of small areas of disagreement. Really, we don’t need to die on every hill. Much less should we crucify each other each time we believe we see a hill. Turning discernment blogs into yellow journalism never honors the Lord.

The interest in discernment encourages me, however, when readers desire discernment in order to please Christ. Scripture teaches that we must grow in knowledge (and therefore discernment) for the purpose of pleasing Him. A passage I read just this morning reinforces the relationship between Scriptural knowledge and holy behavior.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; ~~Colossians 1:9-10 (ESV)

The term, “spiritual wisdom,” essentially means “discernment,” making it plain that Paul prayed for the Lord to fill Christians with the ability to recognize His truth and apply it accurately. But verse 10 expands on that idea by revealing the reason believers need discernment. Biblical discernment enables us to please the Lord.

I know I wrote about the relationship between discernment and personal holiness only last week, but a variety of circumstances in the past few months have convinced me that there’s a huge disconnect among people who claim to be discerning. From what I see, people regard discernment as nothing more than an ability to spot false teachers, totally ignoring the purpose of true spiritual wisdom and understanding in their own conduct.

Because of this disconnect, I hope to write more articles challenging you (and challenging myself as well) towards developing Biblical discernment that we can then apply to our daily lives. These articles won’t be a series. Rather, I’m proposing a direction for The Outspoken TULIP.

This direction isn’t exactly new, but it will become more defined from this point onward as we examine Biblical discernment and its practical implications. Occasionally we will continue calling out false teachers and unbiblical trends that derail evangelicals from the truth, but even then we will do so with the aim of promoting personal holiness that honors the Lord. Essentially, ladies, we’ll discourage the shallow view of discernment as a tool for hunting down heresy in favor of encouraging godly wisdom that produces godly behavior.

If you want “discernment” articles that merely expose false teachers, this blog isn’t for you. But if you want to develop Biblical discernment in ways that help you become godly women, please stay with me. We’ll learn together, as I know I still need to work on areas of sin in my life. But we’ll definitely learn discernment in ways that lead us to honor the Lord Jesus Christ. And that’s the purpose of discernment.

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A Sin All To Common

Pure WordsBefore I say anything else, let me confess that I’ve recently sinned in the area I want to address today. The Holy Spirit has graciously convicted me of using crude language (in my case, as humor), and He has brought me to repentance. Therefore I can’t write this essay from a self-righteous posture. Instead, I write with the attitude that I’ve been forgiven of a serious sin that I hope to help you avoid.

Scripture forbids Christians from using impure language.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. ~~Ephesians 5:3-6 (ESV)

I well understand that we live in a culture where even the President of the United States of America uses foul language in his public speeches. And I know we can’t go anywhere in public without hearing words that should offend us because they offend the holy Lord. Facebook overflows with horrible language that should make a sailor blush — often on the Timelines of lovely young women. So yes, I know that we face tremendous temptation to let impure words flow from both our mouths and our keyboards.

As Christians, however, we have an obligation to live differently from the world. I’m not advocating a legalistic morality that breeds self-righteousness, but rather a commitment to purity that honors the Lord. As His daughters, we want to reflect His holiness, even in our speech and writing.

Yesterday I came across a blog post by a Christian (at least, this person claims to be a Christian) that contained expletives in the first three paragraphs. At that point, even though I wanted to read the rest of the author’s thoughts, I felt convicted that I shouldn’t deliberately expose myself to language that I struggle to avoid using. I also felt sad that the writer would use those corrupt words repeatedly in a blog that claims to be written for the Lord.

Again, I realize that our culture treats filthy language as normative. But it also treats a whole host of other sins as normative. The Lord, however, calls us to honor Him, not to imitate non-Christians. He faithfully forgives us when we confess to using filthy language, but His grace should inspire us to then use our words for His glory.

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Discernment Ministries That Lose True Discernment (Avoiding Their Mistakes)

Discern YourselfTwo days ago I wrote about the necessity of using wisdom in discernment ministry. Sadly, I got more caught up in the attacks Brannon Howse is making on Justin Peters than I’d planned, and consequently had little time left to write about my real concern. I hope I can rectify that omission today.

As I said Wednesday, there’s definitely a time and place for naming false teachers in discernment ministry. I’ve done so many times in this blog, and I’m planning an article for next Wednesday on another evangelical trend that needs to be exposed. But I fear that, in our zeal to warn people of dangerous teachers and trends, we may have distorted the concept of discernment, forgetting that its real purpose lies in our Christian maturity.

Consider the argument that the writer of Hebrews makes as he pleads with Jewish Christians to lay aside their efforts to earn salvation in favor of resting in Christ’s finished work on the cross:

11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. ~~Hebrews 5:11-14 (ESV)

Here, discernment has precious little to do with generating conspiracy theories or calling out false teachers, and everything to do with helping these believers live in fidelity to the Gospel. Discernment isn’t sanctified gossip used to ruin reputations; it is the means of learning how to conform to God’s will.

Oddly, some bloggers and podcast hosts seem to have lost sight of this true purpose of discernment. They ironically fail to discern when they cross the line into fault finding for the sake of parading their supposed discernment skills. In so doing, they forget basic principles of Scripture, such as respectfully expressing disagreement while recognizing someone as a brother or sister in Christ unless they teach outright false doctrine.

Biblical discernment calls us, first and foremost, to distinguish good from evil in our own lives. How obedient are we to the Lord? Are we understanding His Word properly? Do we apply it correctly to our own lives before we hold others to its standards? Sisters, these questions make me uncomfortable, and they draw me to repentance. They confront me with my need to exercise discernment in my own life well before I call out anyone else.

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