Category Archives: Blogging

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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What I Didn’t Say About Discernment

truth-in-lovePerhaps because I have a severe speech defect, I have a deep aversion to being misunderstood. I’ve been thinking over Friday’s essay, fearful that I might have inadvertently left people with the impression that I oppose discernment blogs and discernment ministry. Maybe I’m being overly cautious here, but I’d like to clarify my essay by affirming that I appreciate discernment ministry as being essential to the Body of Christ.

Friday I wanted to point out that many people who bill themselves as discernment bloggers aren’t really as discerning as they claim to be.They vet pastors and teachers on the basis of secondhand information without also vetting the source of that information. Case in point: using an article by a Charismatic writer who’s desperate to discredit John MacArthur as substantiation that MacArthur has ties to Freemasonry. Really? That’s the only documentation she could find? I’m sorry, but that approach shows a lack of real discernment.

What about my recent article on Joni Eareckson Tada, then? Am I guilty of trying to dig up evidence to brand her as a false teacher? To be honest, I’ve experienced that temptation in researching her. By the grace of God, however, I think I’ve avoided that sin, and I’ve approached my concerns about her with much fear and trembling (as well I should!).

As it stands now, I just have concerns about Joni. Those concerns don’t come from outside sources; they come from reading her writing, listening to her speak (in person as well as YouTube) and noticing various details that cause me some alarm. You’ll kindly observe my reticence to disclose those details. That reticence comes because I frankly don’t know whether I’m discerning actual problems or if I’m nit-picking. Therefore, I won’t write further about Joni until I’m certain that I’m genuinely discerning actual problems.

If I wanted to establish myself as a discernment blogger, I might turn my concerns about Joni into an arsenal of stink bombs to use against her. And surely some of my readers would admire my apparent gift of discernment. Thankfully, others would see that I would be tearing the woman down for the purpose of building my reputation as a woman of discernment.

That, my friends, was my point Friday. True discernment never attacks another person for the purpose of enhancing one’s own credentials. Consider the apostle Paul’s remarks to the Corinthians who thought they were masters of discernment.

Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. ~~1 Corinthians 8:1-4 (ESV)

When discernment bloggers write for the purpose of displaying their supposed wisdom, they make it painfully evident (to everyone except themselves) that their knowledge has grossly inflated their egos. This self-serving attitude has absolutely no place among God’s people. Rather, whatever discernment God gives us should be used to cultivate personal holiness and to build up other Christians by steering them towards the Lord and His Word.

So in cautioning you against presumptive declarations of having gifts of discernment, I by no means want to imply that Christians shouldn’t cultivate personal discernment. And I fear that some of my readers might have inferred that I no longer endorse calling out false teachers or exposing aberrant practices in evangelical circles.  Please know that I would never make such a commitment.

The Bible clearly teaches Christians to contend for the faith. We just spent a few months studying the epistle Jude wrote, and we learned that all Christians bear a responsibility to practice discernment. The fact that some bloggers misuse the term “discernment” to slander people and/or to promote themselves doesn’t negate the necessity of Biblical discernment.

I pray daily that this blog will, more than anything else, honor and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. That means that it must never degenerate into a “discernment blog.” But it also means that, when necessary, we must look at teachings that deviate from Scripture. When those occasions arise, may the Holy Spirit enable me to address matters in humility, seeking only to direct women back to Christ.

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Claiming Discernment Doesn’t Mean You Have It

Dark WisdomWe all like to believe that we have good discernment. I’ve noticed, however, that a fair number of evangelicals who claim to possess discernment fall for teachers and practices that actually violate God’s Word. Mostly, I’ve observed this phenomenon in Charismatic circles, but occasionally I also see Reformed believers claiming discernment as they embrace error.

For instance, I’ve been personally attacked by a self-proclaimed discernment blogger who took issue with a video I posted. The video presented the Gospel, begging non-Christian viewers to repent and turn to Christ for salvation. The blogger adamantly believed that, by posting the video, I denied God’s sovereignty in bringing people to salvation.

This blogger had evidently embraced hyper-Calvinism, which insists that God saves people without requiring any sort of human responsibility (perhaps I should do an article on hyper-Calvinism at a later date). But in reading her blog, I found that she made allegations about John MacArthur and Al Mohler that had long since been proven false. Furthermore, on her blog’s sidebar she had links to conspiracy theory websites.

Obviously, neither John MacArthur nor Al Mohler are above question, and I checked out her claims about each of these men as thoroughly as I possibly could. Her sources, it turned out, were unreliable and had axes to grind. Sadly, the blogger failed to use discernment in researching the allegations against these men.

Scripture, certainly, admonishes Christians to exercise discernment.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. ~~1 John 4:1 (ESV)

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. ~~Philippians 1:9-11 (ESV) 

But in our efforts to practice discernment, may I suggest that we also cultivate attitudes of humility? Sometimes we tout whatever discernment skills we have with a subtle attitude of pride, supposing that we have inside knowledge to dispense to “average” Christians who desperately need our expertise.

We forget that Biblical discernment encompasses so much more than calling out false teachers and warning other Christians against aberrational practices. True discernment moves Christians toward living in holiness and obedience to the Lord. Rather than than pointing to our presumed abilities at “rightly dividing the truth,” our exercise of discernment should draw attention to the Lord Jesus Christ in ways that honor and glorify Him. It should encourage us to know and obey His Word for His glory.

Am I discerning? I hope so. Do I bill myself as a discernment blogger? Um, no. Instead, I pray daily that, as I read and study the Bible, the Holy Spirit will grant me discernment. Not so I can have an edgy discernment blog with oodles of followers praising my apparent wisdom. I request discernment so that I can worship the Lord in spirit and in truth.

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Say It Again,Deb

owlAs a blogger, and especially as one who tries to blog daily, I often feel compelled to come up with new ideas. And indeed, I shouldn’t regurgitate the thoughts, opinions and insights of the other bloggers in my niche. Such parroting doesn’t do much toward advancing God’s Kingdom. In fact, it probably leaves readers frustrated and weary of reading the same old same old from fifty different writers.

Beth Moore and Rick Warren are false teachers. Okay, people get that. If they don’t, they’re probably not the people that read  blogs of this nature in the first place. Homosexuality is a sin that Christ forgives. Again, not exactly a news flash to anyone who reads  blogs like mine. Yoga’s incompatible with Biblical Christianity. Yeah, my readers know that too.

But maybe readers outside our circle occasionally stumble on to The Outspoken TULIP. I hope that happens more than I think. Maybe someone who adores Beth Moore will google her name, or an unsaved relative will click one of my essays on Catholicism on Facebook. One of the wonderful things about the Internet is that you never really know who finds your writing.

So I want to keep my writing fresh, but I also want to blog about issues that 21st Century Christians have to grapple with. Additionally, I want to stretch myself by studying topics I haven’t studied before, but I don’t want to presume to write about matters beyond my understanding. After all, the cardinal rule of writing is: write about what you know and care about.

I care about guarding against false teachers and wrong teaching. Maybe my past, with all its influences distracting me from sound doctrine, makes me so passionate about writing against things that impede the Gospel. But rather than analyze my motives (I also oppose psychology), can I simply say that I intend to continue blogging about subjects that I consider important.

As I said when I started The Outspoken TULIP  in July of 2015, the days of free speech for Christians are numbered. Trump’s election may have given us a temporary reprieve, but I don’t want to get complacent and waste my blog on inconsequential trivia. Instead, I want to declare the Gospel even more, and I want to warn people against teachers and practices that undermine doctrinal purity. If I sound like a broken record, forgive me. But if my repetitions help women avoid the pitfalls of error, I will have succeeded.

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Sometimes Life Interrupts My Perfectly Good Blogging Schedule

Woman Asking FramedWithout going into detail, my plans to blog about John Wycliffe and his challenge to Rome over its teaching on Transubstantiation got derailed today. Even if I had time to write such a post, I’m neither physically nor emotionally able to take on such a formidable project this afternoon.

I want to continue writing about the Reformation and what led up to it. I hope that doing so will help you understand the importance of standing for sound doctrine. We all love talking about discernment, but few of us realize that knowing Church History can develop our discernment as we see how Christians of past centuries refuted false teachings and unbiblical practices. Wycliffe’s repudiation of Transubstantiation gives us a powerful example of discerning truth from error, and I had looked forward to showing you how he did it.

Alas, John and I had business to attend to this morning which took a great deal longer than either of us anticipated. On top of that, a secondary and unrelated issue distracted us. Finally, I didn’t sleep well last night, and stress has afflicted me by producing other physical problems. Blogging about John Wycliffe today (because I’d want to present facts accurately and with proper documentation) would be more than I could manage.

I had nice momentum going with my blogging schedule, didn’t I? Too bad my life got in the way.

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Saturday Sampler: December 25– December 31

Five Easter BabiesTim Challies reminds us that Christ’s birth ultimately points forward to His death. His powerful essay, For They Know Not What They Do, showcases the Lord’s compassion towards those who really deserve His vengeance.

Expanding on the theme that Christmas shouldn’t stop at the manger, Erin Benziger Do Not Be Surprised writes a worshipful piece, punctuated by Scripture, tracing the Lord’s entire ministry. I love the way that she exalts the Lord in all her writing, but From First to Second Advent is particularly beautiful.

This, traditionally, is the time of year when people think about Bible reading plans. I’ve lost count of the blog posts I’ve read on the topic over the past couple months, but Josh Buice of Delivered By Grace provides a different perspective in his article, Three Reasons Why You Should Read the Whole Bible in 2017. Those of you who follow my Tuesday series on the Reformation will especially enjoy his article.

And while we’re on the topic of Bible Study, Leslie A. of Growing 4 Life shares Conditions for Profitable Bible Study to help us approach God’s Word with proper attitudes. Leslie derives her conditions from How to Study the Bible by R.A. Torrey.

As we pull out of 2016, what attitude do we convey (particularly on Facebook and Twitter)? John Ellis, writing in A Day In His Court, challenges us with his article, In Praise of 2016. His points might make you uncomfortable momentarily, but he quickly reminds us how to find comfort and encouragement from the Lord.

In her review of Jen Wilkin’s book, Women of the Word, Rebekah Womble’s article, also titled Women of the Word, thoroughly examines both the pros and cons of the book. I haven’t yet read Jen Wilkin’s book, but Rebekah’s examination of it has convinced me to put it on my Amazon Wish List. But even without reading the book, this review gives me plenty to think about. Rebekah blogs at Wise in His Eyes.

In Tired of Controversy? An Encouragement for 2017, Mike Leake of Borrowed Light questions the wisdom of basing blogs on controversial issues instead of unleashing Scripture to do its own work.

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