There’s Nothing Humbug About Christ’s Incarnation

bethlehem-christmas-2012To tell the truth, I haven’t been very enthusiastic about Christmas this year. Other bloggers have been writing about it since Thanksgiving, God love them, faithfully reminding their readers to focus on the Lord. Well, we definitely need such reminders.

Maybe it’s weariness from the seemingly relentless trials bombarding me since my birthday, or maybe my aversion to seasonal things grows more pronounced as I age, but I simply haven’t wanted to read or write Christmas themed posts this year. Circumstances severely limited excursions to Boston in 2018, and I think I view Christmas as the beginning of another long New England winter that keeps us away from both Boston and (even worse) church.

I’ve developed a Continue reading

How Advice On Blogging Resembles Church Growth Strategies And Why Both Demean You

Head Stick Pics 007As a blogger, I’m supposed to understand that you readers can’t read lengthy paragraphs. Just like church growth strategists understand that you can’t listen to sermons over 20 minutes long.

You need easily readable blog posts and digestible worship experiences for a few critical reasons.

  • You have short attention spans
  • You shouldn’t have to use Dictionary.com or learn Biblical doctrine
  • You need bloggers and pastors to quickly tell you how their material immediately benefits you

According to a blog I read on the art of blogging, I apparently expect you, my readers, to read with more maturity and engagement than you can muster. Reformed pastors have the same unrealistic expectations of people in their pews.

If I want more readers, I should dumb down my blog, just as my pastor should dumb down his sermons to gain new members.

Okay, I’m ready to stop writing this parody of the blogging advice blog (although I certainly entertained myself by imitating his writing style and implementing some of his suggestions). Having majored in English Continue reading

Elizabeth Prata’s Plague Of False Teachers Models Healthy Discernment

Untitled-1Are you confused about my views regarding discernment ministries and blogs? If so, I really can’t blame you. Sometimes I probably appear to be talking out of both sides of my mouth, criticizing discernment ministries that capitalize on naming false teachers in one post and then exposing a false teacher in the next. “Which is it, DebbieLynne?” you may ask.

When I read  A plague of false teachers in Elizabeth Prata’s blog this morning, I immediately Continue reading

Pointing Fingers, Naming Names And Condemning False Teachers Isn’t All There Is To Discernment

Burning False TeachersYeah, I get it. Evangelicals flock to popular false teachers because few pastors identify these false teachers clearly. Furthermore, the leaders of far too many women’s “Bible” study groups use material from evangelical celebrities who routinely mishandle God’s Word. Certainly, we need to be deeply concerned.

John MacArthur often says that the biggest problem in the church today is the incredible lack of discernment. Even churches with solid pastors who rightly handle the Word of God have people who listen to radio teachers known for compromising truth. Women in doctrinally sound churches persist in claiming that God spoke to them personally.

So I definitely see the need for discernment bloggers. In fact, the Lord used several discernment blogs to Continue reading

What You Think Doesn’t Matter, But It Matters That You Think

Twisting ScriptureLongtime readers have read this story before, but I want to tell it again in a slightly different context. In my freshman year of college, I took a Shakespeare class.

My Shakespeare professor scowled as I told him what the passage he’d set before our class meant to me personally. He found my comment entirely too subjective, and therefore not acceptable in the context of scholarly discussion. I tried to appeal to a 1974 mindset by explaining that my Bible Study group used that method to interpret Scripture, but he wouldn’t consider such a perspective. “What matters is not what what the passage says to you,” he explained, “but what Shakespeare intended when he wrote the play.”

That incident sobered me, teaching me one of the most important lessons in my Christian life. All too often, professing Christians read the Bible with the expectation that they can arrive at a personal, subjective interpretation. Just as I showed disrespect to Shakespeare by presuming that I could make his plays and sonnets say whatever I imagined them to say, so we show disrespect to the Holy Spirit by conforming His Word to our personal experiences and biases.

What you and I think Scripture says to us personally may be vastly different from what the Lord intended when His Spirit inspired the Old and New Testament writers to record His Word. We dare not treat it like a piece of putty that we can stretch and mold according to our preferences and ideas.

19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. ~~2 Peter 1:19-21 (ESV)

So, interpreting God’s Word isn’t determined by our subjective thoughts and opinions. What we think it says must be subordinated to what the Holy Spirit purposes it to mean.

Having said that, reading and obeying the Bible requires us to think Biblically. Rather than viewing verses as isolated fragments, we need understand Scripture as a whole. Interpreting Scripture, it turns out, takes the same kind of analytical thought that I learned to utilize in studying literature and art.

My Shakespeare professor taught me to analyze a play’s passage by examining its use of language, its historical context and (more importantly) to the context of the play itself. Additionally, it helped to study how people used certain words in 16th Century England, as well as knowing some biographical information about The Bard himself. Finally, familiarity with literary history offered insight.

Understanding Shakespeare’s intent, in other words, took work. But it could be done. And I had to do the same work in studying Homer, Virgil, Malory, Chaucer, Donne, Byron, Browning, Frost and all the writers in between. In art history, I had to do the same with Leonardo, Michelangelo and Carravargio.

How much more should Christians study Scripture in order to understand what the Lord says through it. Engaging our minds is mandatory in order to rightly understand God’s Word. As I’ll show you in my next blog post, however, a large number of evangelicals fail to use their minds in talking about God.

Imposing your opinions on Scripture is infinitely worse than imposing them on a few Shakespearean couplets. But perhaps we make such impositions precisely because we don’t bother to think carefully about what we read. It doesn’t matter what we think any given verse means to us personally,  but it matters a great deal that we think carefully about what God’s Word really means.

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Limiting The Reformation To October

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 Continue reading

What Was I Going To Blog About?

Cute Puppy LoveAs a child, I learned that I could most easily get in trouble by using my disability as an excuse for my failings. And I definitely advocate teaching that principle to any child with a disability. But since I don’t have a dog to eat my homework, I see no alternative to playing the disability card in explaining why I can’t remember even one of those great ideas I had for a blog post.

The blogging experts advise bloggers to jot down ideas when they come to us. Good advice for people who can use their hands. As a Cerebral Palsy quadriplegic, I can’t hold a pen, however.

Yes, John’s more than happy to jot down blogging ideas for me. Occasionally he has done that very thing, and I appreciate him for it! But more often than not, Continue reading