Discernment Ministry Does More Than Expose False Teachers

Biblical UnityOur Monday Bible Studies in Titus may be suspended for the summer, but I’m still thinking quite a lot about Paul’s charge to Titus regarding the responsibilities of older women.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. ~~Titus 2:3-5 (ESV)

As a blogger, I am in an unofficial teaching position, hopefully teaching younger women how to honor the Lord. Thus far, I’ve written little about marriage and even less about raising children, mostly because I married late in life and consequently missed out on motherhood. But I certainly can teach what is good in terms of Christian doctrine and discernment.

Without rehashing specifics, recent arguments among well-known figures in discernment ministry cause me to wonder if I should focus my teaching more on discerning how to exhibit a character that reflects the Lord Jesus Christ and less on calling out false teachers. To be sure, those false teachers need to be identified, especially because women tend to gravitate to ones that use humor, psychology and emotional mysticism to lure us into doctrinal error. But, as I’ve said many times, blogs like mine can easily degenerate into tabloid gossip mills.

Blogging as a Christian places me under an obligation to keep my doctrine pure. An elder from my church monitors The Outspoken TULIP for that very reason, as does my husband. But right doctrine is only half the battle, dear sisters in Christ. Remember that the Pharisees in Jesus’ day had right doctrine. But they used their right doctrine to cover up their sinful lifestyles.

If, in exposing false teachers, I use this blog to generate gossip, I stand guilty of dishonoring the Lord I claim to represent. On one level, I teach younger women to cultivate discernment regarding popular teachers and trends within the evangelical community (which is sometimes necessary), but on a deeper level I teach by example that discernment depends on gossiping about others.

Recent events in the evangelical world have caused me to consider the type of character I want to model as I emblazon words on the internet. Do I demonstrate godly attitudes even when I warn my readers against false teachers? Do I encourage my readers to pray for people who fall victim to doctrinal error, and do I point them back to the Word of God? Or do I act like a talebearer who enjoys the sport of character assassination?

Older women, Paul says, must teach what is good. Teaching what is good, in turn, necessitates living in conformity to sound doctrine. The current nastiness in the name of discernment, by God’s grace, admonishes me to be careful as I write my blog posts, knowing that the example I set can either encourage sinful attitudes or lead ladies to honor the Lord.

 

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Summer Blogging Schedule (Or Lack Thereof )

Headstick 2013This has been a week of interruptions. I won’t go into detail about the negative ones, but John and I very much enjoyed going into Boston yesterday. We now anticipate a busy summer that alternates between fun day trips and medical visits. Which naturally means less time for blogging.

We’ve concluded that I should take a complete break from my Perspectives In Titus series for a while. My inclination right now is to resume it after Labor Day, but don’t be surprised if I end up getting back to it sooner. Its low volume of readership disappoints me (as of this afternoon, Monday’s installment only received ten views), but I don’t want to discontinue it because Christian women desperately need verse-by-verse Bible Studies. Such studies assist true discernment much more effectively than calling out popular teachers, I believe.

But writing these studies demands tremendous time and energy. Quite frankly, this granny needs a break.

The Tuesday series on the Protestant Reformation will continue throughout the summer, but probably not every week. October 31st will come before we know it, and I so want all of you to understand why it’s a big deal. The Reformers provide vivid examples of true discernment. Really, if you want to discern truth from error, studying the Protestant Reformation can be an invaluable tool!

Saturday Sampler will appear each week. This Sunday I’ll take a break from posting a hymn, but I’ll start back up on Father’s Day.

Expect blog posts most days, but remember that we’ll be in and out often during the summer months. I do take this blog seriously, but I need to keep it from dominating my life. Truthfully, I’m getting older than I want to be, and blogging takes its toll. It’s time to pace myself.

Saturday Sampler: May 14 — May 20

Butterfly Sampler 02Doug Wilson, posting in Blog & Mablog, provides familiar, yet frequently ignored, advice in his article, Decluttering Your Marriage I. Using Scriptural principles from Galatians 6, Pastor Wilson encourages each spouse to take responsibility before trying to fix the other. In his closing paragraph he explains the key to this sort of humility.

So, you want to study the Bible, but you don’t know which curriculum to use. Consider Michelle Lesley’s advice in The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids? If asked, I’d make the same recommendation.

One of my most dedicated readers is a 16-year-old girl who writes under the penname Squid. In a recent blog post for Squid’s Cup of Tea, she writes Being Truly IN the Word as a wonderful (and somewhat convicting ) reminder that we need to immerse ourselves in the Bible. This young lady shows remarkable Christian maturity; I think you’ll be impressed by this article.

Another blog post serving as a good reminder comes from Jesse Johnson of The Cripplegate. His essay, What does the Bible teach about abortion?, doesn’t really tell us anything new, but it organizes the Biblical arguments against abortion nicely. I look forward to using it as a reference tool.

Truth isn’t always pretty, but it must be faced. Rebekah Hannah does just that in her piece, Women Use Porn Too, which she writes for The Gospel Coalition Blog. She raises interesting points about ways churches inadvertently deny ministry to women who struggle with this type of sexual sin.

Being childless, I don’t offer a great deal to moms who read The Outspoken TULIP. Our Bible Study on Titus 2:3-5 is convicting me about that omission.  So let me begin reparations by directing you to Peter Krol’s article You Can Read the Bible to Your Kids in Knowable Word. I believe this man is on target with this idea!

As usual, Michelle Lesley has an insightful essay based squarely on Scripture. When God Says No challenges the popular notion that we should have big dreams for God.

Speaking of the big dreams for God philosophy, Tim Challies says that Nobody Respects a Blogger. Sisters, I  have no aspiration of being anything other than a blogger! Clearly, I don’t dream very big dreams for God. Oh well!

In a guest post for Pulpit & Pen, Jodie Jensen reviews the latest book by Beth Moore in The Quest of Beth Moore. According to Jensen, Moore promises that we can achieve intimacy with God through journaling, talking about our feelings with other women and spending time in our prayer closets. Okay… Skip reading Beth Moore’s book, by all means, but be sure to read this insightful essay.

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Saturday Sampler: April 30 — May 6

Sping LaceI’ve been angry at God. I admit that terrible fact with shame, grateful that He has forgiven my arrogance toward Him. So I wholeheartedly agree with Denny Burk’s blog post, It’s never right to be angry at God. Ever. His Biblical approach to this issue leads to practical counsel on dealing with suffering.

Rachel Miller, who authors Daughter of the Reformation, writes Policing the Blogosphere? We’ve Been Here Before as an intriguing response to the idea that women bloggers need more church oversight. I’m still weighing her assertions, but I found her parallels to the Reformation absolutely fascinating! Invest some time in this essay; you won’t regret it.

In her hard-hitting essay, “Sorry I Never Knew You” – Should we sing about God’s judgments?, Elizabeth Prata of The End Time challenges the prevailing reticence to preach and sing about eschatology. She includes the song, “Sorry I Never Knew You” by The Sego Brothers & Naomi. Even if Southern Gospel Music isn’t ordinarily your preference, please listen to this important song and consider the points Elizabeth makes.

Writing for The Cripplegate, Eric Davis enumerates Reasons to Avoid Churches Who Will Not Practice Church Discipline. He raises issues I’d never consciously considered, but that make perfect sense.  His article again assures me that I’m in a healthy, Biblical church with leadership that shepherds me well.

Like most Christians, I fight the temptation to take credit for my salvation. Tim Challies provides a wonderful antidote to that temptation. If Only I Had Been Saved By Merit! demonstrates how our corrupt natures would pervert God’s grace if we actually had a hand  in saving ourselves. I think I’m glad the Lord did all the work!

It’s fashionable to speak about social media with a hint of disdain in your voice. But Michelle Lesley, in 9 Ways Social Media Is a Blessing to Believers, reminds us that the Lord uses the Internet to do some pretty amazing things. Of course, I may be a tad biased regarding this topic — I met my husband online!

 

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I Wish I’d Blog About A Cuddly Jesus

Ladies Study 01Wouldn’t it be nice to follow a form of Christianity that just got along with everybody? That emphasized God’s love and minimized His righteous standards? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to embrace homosexuality and find common ground with people of other religions?

Of course, many liberal churches offer just that sort of belief system. They imagine a false Jesus that never judges sin and, because “God is love,” never really sends anyone to hell. I spent my first 17 years in such a church, giving me direct experience with that type of thinking. To be honest, part of me misses having that kind of Christianity. It was such a comfortable way to relate to God!

And frankly, I don’t take a whole lot of pleasure in challenging people who contradict God’s Word. In writing about the Reformation each Tuesday, for instance, I don’t think it’s particularly enjoyable to tell Catholics that they hold unbiblical views. Losing friends as a result of my position on Beth Moore hasn’t been a whole lot of fun either, if you want to know the truth.

But Scripture explicitly says that those who follow Christ and cling to the Word of God shouldn’t expect to win popularity contests. As a matter of fact, Jesus actually warned that popularity with people usually indicates a person’s unfaithfulness to God.

Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. ~~Luke 6:26 (ESV)

Please don’t misunderstand me to say that Christians should be deliberately belligerent. Jesus continued, in Luke 6:27-31, by instructing us to love even our enemies, leaving us no room to be nasty or unloving to those who oppose our message. Rather, He meant that bearing the Gospel would naturally result in causing people to dislike us. Truth offends sinners.

It offends them precisely because it exposes their rebellion against Him. They prefer false teachers and belief systems that affirm their supposed goodness and/or affirms their autonomy. Therefore, Christians who take firm stands on the clear teachings of Scripture anger and annoy them. We’re unpopular because we dare to uphold God’s standards without apology or compromise.

As much as my flesh would love to write a chatty little blog that kept God tame and cuddly, my responsibility is to represent His Word as accurately as I can. Most people won’t like what I write in these posts, and sometimes their reactions will sting. But I pray that, when I stand before the Judgment Throne, the Lord will find me faithful.

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When Two Bloggers Meet

MichelleRarely does my disability bother me. But Michelle Lesley, one of my favorite bloggers, is speaking at my church’s Women’s Conference this weekend. Problem is, the conference is on Cape Cod, well outside The RIDE area, so there’s no way I can get down there.

The leaders of the women’s ministry, thankfully, had mercy on me. On their way  to the Cape this morning, they brought Michelle by our apartment for a lovely two-hour visit.

What a wonderful time of talking about weddings, discernment, Bible Studies and (of course) blogging! Michelle told me how she does her blog, emphasizing her passion for her Wednesday Bible Studies. Together we lamented the fact that we attract more readers with our articles on false teachers than with the Bible Studies we write. (Why does that happen,  ladies?)

Throughout the conversation, I appreciated the responsibility God has given both me and Michelle to minister to women through the medium of blogging. Of course, Michelle has additional platforms for discipling women that I  don’t, but the Lord has blessed us with this wonderful outreach, allowing us to bring God’s Word to women all over the world.  We both take joy in this way of serving Christ.

I appreciate my friends from church for making the visit possible. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing her face-to-face for the first time, yet knowing we’ve been friends for quite a while. I don’t foresee seeing her in person again before Christ’s return, but how glorious to know that she and I will spend eternity together praising the Lord Jesus Christ.

Pray for Michelle this weekend as she ministers to the women from my beloved church family. And pray for the ladies to draw closer to the Lord and His Word through the teaching she presents.

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Saturday Sampler: March 5 — March 11

Lollipop SamplerElizabeth Prata, blogging in The End Time, echoes my sentiments in her article, A note of encouragement: Don’t be discouraged about the Internet. With so much animosity on social media these days, her perspective refreshes me.

If you haven’t been reading Leslie A.’s fascinating series on developing discernment in Growing 4 Life,  please start. This week she writes Learn to Discern: What Is Your Paradigm? What a helpful and insightful blog post!

Oh yes, in my 46 years as a Christian I’ve watched plenty of my friends turn away from Christ. Some of these defections hurt worse than others. So I appreciate Jordan Standridge’s 4 Thoughts About People who Walk Away from the Lord in The Cripplegate this week.

In Not Your Mom’s Prosperity Gospel, Rebekah Womble of Wise In His Eyes discusses ways that evangelicals try exploitative tactics in attempts to manipulate the Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t try these at home.

Tim Challies’ piece, Stop Calling Everything Hate, uses good common sense. Although that type of sense grows less common by the day, evidently.

An assignment in her Moral Theology class prompted Kim Shay to write Ethical Adventures for Out of the Ordinary. Writing about the evils of abortion isn’t as simple as she thought it would be.

Challenging the stereotypes of Calvinism,  Steve Altroggie of The Blazing Center writes 5 Reasons I’m A Calvinist. Notice how he roots each reason firmly in Scripture.

Praise God for Michelle Lesley writing Basic Training: The Bible Is Sufficient to remind us that we no longer need personal revelations from God. I wish such essays were unnecessary, but I appreciate people like Michelle who boldly stand for the sufficiency of Scripture.

 

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