The Plan, And What It Means For You

Tomorrow morning I’ll return to Milton Hospital for extensive testing. My legs are terribly swollen (I’m turning into an elephant), all my food tastes so metallic that I don’t eat much, and my red blood cell count keeps dropping. Queasiness separates me from eating supper each evening. I’m physically exhausted, and frequently fall asleep at my desk.

Spiritually, I’m not doing well. Sometimes I question my salvation because of my anger and frustration. Praise God, He always brings me back to trusting Him for my salvation!

Some of you have generously sent Kindle books and PayPal gifts. I’m deeply grateful for your love and support. At this point, however, I need to ask that you not send anything further until I’ve returned home. Unlike most people, I can’t operate a smart phone or a tablet, meaning that I have no way of handling digital gifts until I’m back on my computer. Additionally, I won’t be able to moderate comments on this blog.

Thank you for your support and understanding. I look forward to recovering and writing articles that will serve you.

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Flashback Friday: Limiting The Reformation To October

I originally wrote this article on October 18, 2018. Regretfully. I didn’t take heed to myself. Maybe I’ll get better about it.

Reformation

From November 1, 2016 to October 31, 2017 I blogged every Tuesday about the Protestant Reformation in anticipation of its 500th anniversary. Whether or not readers appreciated that series,  I believed they needed to understand the Reformation’s ties to Biblical discernment. The 16th Century Reformers indeed set the standard for discernment ministry, so they have much to teach 21st Century evangelicals. And several of my Tuesday posts made that connection.

When October 31, 2017 had come and gone, I succumbed to the temptation to put the Reformation on the back burner in favor of writing articles that might attract more readers. I know — utter pragmatism!  The very thing I rail against when writing about Rick Warren and the Church Growth Movement, huh? But oh, those climbing stats felt good!

I assured myself that I would continue writing about the Reformation throughout the ensuing year. Maybe not every week. Certainly not on a rigid schedule! But I’d have frequent articles about Zwingli, Knox, the Council of Dort and Bloody Mary. I’d show my readers how the Reformers bravely stood against persecution for the sake of God’s Word, and how they used God’s Word to discern truth from error.

Yeah, well. Here we are in the second half of October 2018, and I realize how little I’ve written about the Reformation in the past eleven months.  The confetti from the celebration had been swept up, brand new controversies rocked evangelical circles and no one really cared what a silly German monk nailed to a Wittenberg church door on October 31, 1517. I guess I got caught up in Beth Moore’s letter to her brothers, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Woke Movement.

I’m not alone.

As October 31, 2018 approaches, a handful of Reformed bloggers have started spitting out the obligatory posts about the Protestant Reformation. I’m hopping on the sparsely populated bandwagon, as I do every October, which is probably better than nothing. But it shames me that a calendar had to nudge me into writing about it.

The Protestant Reformation was monumental in restoring the Word of God to the Church. After the First Century Apostolic era, it was the greatest move of God in the history of Christianity! Besides serving as a model for discernment ministry, it brought God’s Word back to His people, liberating us from an apostate religious system.

This Reformation shouldn’t be politely dusted off each October, only to be packed away in November to make room for Thanksgiving decorations. It should be joyfully proclaimed throughout the year, encouraging us to praise God for His mercy in the 16th Century and to emulate their zeal for the Bible. Hopefully I’ll do better at writing about it all during the coming year.

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Speaking The Truth In Love Doesn’t Mean People Will Feel The Love

Quite often, you’ll hear Christians quote the phrase, “speaking the truth in love” (a phrase from Ephesians 4:15), as if it was a fully fledged point of doctrine. Moreover, you’ll hear them emphasize love, almost as if it truth holds little consequence. By implication, love requires us to make truth palatable, even if it means changing truth or covering it up.

In the early 21st Century, love demands that we never hurt someone’s feelings.

And that’s where discernment bloggers (even the legitimate ones) get in trouble. We call out false teachers and/or identify unbiblical practices, trying our best to be charitable. And even when we manage to be charitable enough that some people accuse us of fence sitting, we still have readers calling us self-righteous and arrogant. According to most people, speaking the truth is the antithesis of speaking in love.

Maybe we should look at Ephesians 4:15 in its context to see what the apostle Paul meant.

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I’m Not Letting Go Without A Fight!

Not only do I type with a headstick, but I drive my power wheelchair with my face. Having a strong neck is crucial to my daily function, particularly as a blogger.

So you can probably guess that the severe neck pain that I’v been feeling since a week ago yesterday has alarmed me and John considerably.

We got Blue Emu last night. I tried my first application this morning, and so far I haven’t had any significant relief. Some reviews said it works immediately, while others said it takes a few days. Still others said it was a complete waste of money. So I’m asking the Lord to let it work for me. So that I can keep working for Him.

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It’s Friday, And I Have Too Much To Blog About

Cartoon drawing of a snail

Today started off well. Massachusetts General Hospital called bright and early, saving us the trouble of calling to reschedule my procedure Monday. The RIDE is getting a new software program this weekend, so we know taking it into Boston Monday would have been a massive nightmare. Anyway, I got to my computer relatively early, and opened my Bible on eSword.

eSword includes a feature that allows me to keep a prayer list. I know some people equate prayer lists with Rosary beads with their rote petitions, and that danger is certainty present. But I struggle to stay focused in prayer, so my prayer list gives me needed structure. I’ve recently taught myself how to use my list as a guideline while enjoying rich fellowship with the Lord.

So I had a refreshing time of prayer as I prepared to study God’s Word.

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Don’t Take My Word For It

Bloggers in general — and discernment bloggers in particular — write to persuade their readers of certain ideas. That’s not wrong, mind you. Writers have used words for thousands of years to convince readers of all sorts of positions. It’s pretty much the entire point of writing and blogging, don’t you think?

As I’ve said probably way too many times, some bloggers who profess to have discernment use their blogs to hurt the reputations of anyone they don’t like. These bloggers want to sway readers to reject people and organizations that actually are within Christian orthodoxy, simply to make themselves appear knowledgeable.

Other discernment bloggers genuinely care about defending the faith and guiding readers toward a Biblical worldview. I pray that I can number myself among discernment bloggers and speakers like Michelle Lesley, Elizabeth Prata, Leslie A, Justin Peters and Todd Friel (just to name a few of the ones I trust and respect). Reputable discernment ministries will always encourage people to open their Bibles and investigate things for themselves.

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Biblical Reflections And Future Aspirations

I know…you expected another edition of Saturday Sampler today. So I’ve started this sixth year of The Outspoken TULIP by disappointing readers who enjoy the selection of other blog posts and fellow bloggers who appreciate the free publicity. Take heart, everyone: Saturday Sampler will return next week with all sorts of goodies for you to explore.

Meanwhile, do you like my new decor? I’m celebrating a milestone in my blogging career, so I thought I’d dress The Outspoken TULIP up in honor of the occasion. You’ll notice a few minor changes around the blog in coming days, such as a switch from the English Standard Version to the New American Standard Bible (my husband and my pastor will be delighted). I’m also going to start using tags in addition to categories to assist readers in find posts that interest them. All this, to celebrate this blog’s fifth birthday!

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Breaking A Blogging Rule Because I Do It So Well (And Because I Don’t Want To Do A Flashback Friday)

Earlier this week I noticed an article on Pinterest about five rules that Christian bloggers should never heard break. Actually, none of the rules seemed specific to Christian bloggers — the main thrust seemed to be about growing readership.

Because you, dear readers, apparently exist to make me a famous blogger. Right?

(Please note the sarcasm in that last paragraph.)

Anyway, the first rule mandated reserving personal updates for a blog’s social media page. Personal updates, according to the writer, have a limited shelf-life, and therefore aren’t good for Search Engine Optimization.

And her point made sense. At least it made sense if a blog is first and foremost a business rather than a ministry.

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Discernment Blogging Doesn’t Have To Name Every Name Out There

Praise God for bloggers like Elizabeth Prata and Michelle Lesley who tirelessly research popular teachers and warn against the ones who mishandle Scripture. Sometimes we need to identify people and call them out. Early in the development of this blog, I joined them in writing about false teachers who routinely seduce women with their doctrinal errors.

I haven’t entirely abandoned that practice. At times, women need to be told directly that the teacher they follow so adoringly is failing to offer them healthy spiritual food. In such instances, I have absolutely no problem writing articles exposing such teachers.

That said, I believe we think of discernment ministry much too narrowly. Usually people associate discernment exclusively with calling out false teachers, forgetting that true discernment encompasses so much more than simply naming names of evangelical celebrities to avoid.

Fully developed discernment requires the hard work of studying God’s Word and learning its great doctrines.

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Frustrations Of A Christian Female Blogger (Probably Not The Frustrations You’d Expect)

Pink flowers

Normally, professing Christian women chafe at the idea of limiting their teaching ministry to other women and small children. They follow the world in insisting that we have a contribution to make to the whole church, and that our female perspective must be heard. As they see it, the Word of God cannot be fully represented without the female voice.

Huh?

Where does Scripture ever say such a bizarre thing? If the Word of God is breathed out by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16), why would a female perspective be necessary? Shouldn’t we scratch our heads in bewilderment at the suggestion that men need to hear female voices before they can fully understand what the Bible says?

I can’t help wondering if some men — even Reformed men — have started buying into the idea that female voices need to join the conversation. Logging on to my Twitter Notifications today, I found two tweets by Reformed men, proudly proclaiming that they read The Outspoken TULIP.

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