A TULIP Repost: Mary Knew Where To Sit

Originally published September 17, 2018:

Learning

I know you’ve heard this Bible story a million times. Every women’s ministry gets to it eventually — usually with warnings against becoming like Martha.

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” ~~Luke 10:38-42 (ESV)

But I’m not bringing the story up today to scold you if you’re an overly diligent housekeeper or pat you on the back if you neglect your house in favor of studying your Bible. Again, you’ve heard both those applications a million times, and you’re certainly not interested in hearing them from me. Furthermore, I’m equally not interested in writing about them!

But I thought about this passage in the context of our painfully evident preoccupation with secondary matters. Most of those matters desperately require attention, just as managing a household requires attention. Longtime readers undoubtedly know that I believe it’s absolutely crucial to examine trends within evangelicalism that seriously damage the Church and distort people’s understanding of Who Christ is.

All the issues we look at on this blog, from the problems with false teachers to the Social Justice Movement, are as important as cleaning the bathroom and serving nutritious meals. Neglecting them causes problems that usually harm us spiritually. Poor Martha only wanted to attend her legitimate responsibilities, just as Christians who address hot-button topics only want to attend to legitimate concerns.

But sometimes we get so caught up in dealing with secondary matters that we obscure the Lord from our conversation.  When that happens, we need the same rebuke that the Lord gave Martha.

If we’re too busy with whatever issue dominates our thinking to open our Bibles and enjoy God’s revelation of Himself, we’ve made a lesser choice. Martha was, after all, giving her all to serve Jesus because she genuinely loved Him, but Mary chose to sit at His feet and soak in His teaching.

I don’t want you to neglect the issues that cause trouble in the Church today. But neither do I want those matters to end up distracting you  from the Lord Himself. Mary knew where to sit. Do you?

Will I Have An Occasional Glass Of Wine?

If you want a lively debate with other Christians, just mention alcohol! You’ll get impassioned responses from people on all sides of the issue, and you may even damage one or two of your friendships in the process (I say that mostly in jest).

Alcohol consumption among Christians has always required a careful reading of Scripture and an understanding of Christian liberty in the light of exhortations towards temperance. It’s a sensitive topic, requiring extensive study coupled with prayer for wisdom to apply God’s Word accurately and lovingly. Therefore, this small blog post can’t thoroughly examine the matter.

Truth be told, I really don’t want to blog about alcohol. But we can’t work through Titus 2:3-5 unless we deal with Paul’s command to older women women regarding this topic.

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Yoga Mats In The Sanctuary

Why would a church that had “Bible” in its name offer a yoga class?

In the past several years, many evangelical churches have either encouraged their people to attend so-called “Christian” yoga classes or they have offered such classes themselves. Strangely, few Christians seem bothered by the historical link between yoga and Hinduism, apparently accepting the popular assumption that the physical exercises can be separated from their spiritual origins. Sadly, Hindu yoga practitioners almost universally refute this idea. Appealing to the Hindu scriptures, a writer for Yoga International explains:

According to the scriptures, hatha yoga is a complete path leading to physical health, mental clarity, and spiritual illumination. Hatha yoga practices combine asanas (physical postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), concentration, and meditation. The word hatha is itself an indication of the goals and objectives of this practice: ha means “sun,” and tha means “moon.” Thus, “hatha yoga” is the practice that enables a practitioner to balance his or her solar and lunar energies. Hatha yoga practices create a state of harmony in body and mind by balancing the solar and lunar, masculine and feminine, active and passive aspects of oneself. Unless you combine the disciplines associated with breathing and meditation with the physical postures, you cannot expect to achieve this harmonious state. And without this inner harmony, we waste a great deal of our time and energy fighting the distractions and disturbances arising from both the inner and outer worlds.

https://yogainternational.com/article/view/what-is-the-purpose-of-asana

People in so-called “Christian” yoga classes may very well use the yoga poses as nothing more than stretching exercises, but eastern yoga practitioners would argue that they don’t practice true yoga if they make this separation. On that point, we’d do well to avoid misrepresenting our exercise routines as yoga.

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Eat Some Of The Ice Cream, But Don’t Give Up

“That’s it — I’m done!”

John has lost count of the times I’ve declared those words out of frustration and hopelessness. Maybe you’ve also thrown up your hands and made similar pronouncements. Indeed, life can feel overwhelming, especially with all the horrible things happening lately. Sometimes we feel like crawling into a cave with a quart of chocolate double fudge ice cream while we pray for the Rapture. We get tired of trying to maintain godly attitudes when everything around us is falling apart. Believe me, ladies: I understand the desire to just give up!

As Christians, however, we know that the Lord calls us to persevere when life gets tough. Titus 2:2, as a matter of fact, instructs older men to set the example of being sound in doctrine, love and perseverance for the rest of the Church. As women, we have the responsibility to follow this example. We must keep most of that ice cream in the freezer and trust the Lord to take us through the difficulties and sufferings that surround us.

But what exactly is perseverance, and why should Christians persevere through trials? That cave with the ice cream seems a whole lot more comforting, and we really get sick of pushing through one trial after another. Why did the Holy Spirit inspire Paul to urge Christians to persevere?

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Sound Love Isn’t For The Faint Of Heart

More and more, evangelicals resist any correction of sin or exhortation to holiness, condemning such things as unloving. They’ve allowed the world to redefine love as unquestioning affirmation of sinful desires and behaviors, usually twisting Scripture to accommodate a weakened stance toward sin. Don’t believe me? Just try posting “Abortion is wrong” on social media and see how many professing Christians call you unloving and intolerant. Your head will spin!

Titus 2:2 encourages older men to be sound in doctrine, love and perseverance. The following verse indicates that God would have older women emulate these qualities, which gives me reason to discuss them in a blog designed specifically for women. Last week we talked about sound doctrine, so I want to now tum our attention to the idea of having soundness in love. I want to talk about this matter precisely because secular society exerts tremendous pressure on Christians to distort Biblical love into something that panders to the flesh. If soundness in love was important in First Century Crete, how much more important is it in 21st Century America?

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Before I Throw Stones At Rick Warren

Unless the Lord builds the house,

They labor in vain who build it;

Unless the Lord guards the city,

The watchman keeps awake in vain. ~~Psalm 127:1 (NASB95)

Almost seven years ago I abandoned the blog I’d kept to showcase my writing and digital artwork, believing the Lord would be better honored with a blog focused on discipling women for discernment through doctrine. I don’t for a minute regret that decision. The Outspoken TULIP has been a wonderful experience so far, and I hope the Holy Spirit will continue to use it to minister His Word to my sisters in Christ. It’s a delight to focus on Scripture and the Lord in my blogging.

Blogs dedicated to writing for its own sake have their place, mind you — I’ve actually encouraged one or two young writers to start blogging expressly for the purpose of getting their writing into circulation. These days, publishers won’t consider manuscripts unless a writer has a blog with at least 1000 followers. So please don’t think that I’m disparaging blogs that have the purpose of displaying someone’s writing skills. If I was young, perhaps I’d blog for that reason.

But I’m no longer young, and I no longer have an interest in selling my writing. Rather, I have an interest in serving God through this little blog.

At least, I thought that’s all I wanted out of blogging until last week.

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The Hidden Reefs In Worship Songs

Jude famously wrote his epistle to warn believers against false teachers. He used several strong images to describe them, ensuring that his readers would understand the danger these teachers presented. Let me quote a couple of verses with these images.

12 These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. ~~Jude 12-13 (NASB95)

He begins by calling them hidden reefs. Living in the First Century when travel depended on boats and ships, Jude undoubtedly knew how unseen reefs could tear up a sailing vessel before the sailors even knew a reef was there. He chose this image to emphasize his point from verse 4 that false teachers come into churches under the radar, avoiding detection by blending in with church culture. Often, Christians don’t realize they’ve been deceived by these false teachers until it’s too late. These figurative hidden reefs shipwreck the faith of unsuspecting souls.

In the 21st Century, false teachers seem to be all over the place, requiring that we know the Word of God backwards and forwards. To this end, it’s imperative that we submit ourselves to churches in which our pastors not only preach with faithfulness to Scripture but also encourage us to rightly divide the Word. In most cases, familiarity with the Bible is the best defense against falling into deception.

This past week, however, I learned that sometimes even the best shepherds can unintentionally let a stray wolf wander into the fold. This potentially serious mistake usually happens when they put too much trust in leaders of the music team.

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Horrified Fascination: Thoughts On Last Week’s SBC Annual Meeting

I’m relatively new to the Southern Baptist Convention, and I belong to a SBC church that largely ignores what the upper echelons do. Our pastor identifies more with Grace Community Church and The Master’s Seminary than with any SBC entity (at least as far as I can tell). Following Michelle Lesley, Founders’ Ministries and various people on Twitter has generated my interest in the Southern Baptist Convention over the past three or four years. I therefore begin this blog post with the necessary acknowledgment that I don’t know as much as I should about the organization.

I only watched the Tuesday and Wednesday live streams of the meeting, but judging from my Twitter feed, most of the action happened during those two sessions. Consequently, my remarks will be focused on what I personally witnessed. If anyone reading this article watched more — or was actually there — and can correct my perception, please use the Comment Section to offer more clarity.

Despite my disclaimer, I have definite opinions that I believe I can express with some degree of Biblical accuracy. Please consider these opinions, not as me whining because things didn’t go as I wanted (although I am angry, disappointed and extremely disgusted by what happened), but as a sober warning. Even though not all of you belong to SBC churches, the events of last week should remind all of us that we can fall all too easily into compromise with the world.

 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. ~~1 Corinthians 10:12 (NASB95)

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The Folly Of Pride, Gay Or Otherwise

I shouldn’t have gone on his Facebook page the other day. I knew I’d find photos of him with his new “husband,” along with posts condemning Christians who dare to say that homosexuality is a sin. And I should have known that I’d come away feeling saddened once again by his rejection of the truth that he used to proclaim.

He has chosen the world’s distortion of sexuality, and he takes pride in his choice. But Scripture has a much different view of the relationship between worldliness and pride.

15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. ~~1 John 2:15-17 (NASB95)

As we enter Gay Pride Month, I think of my many friends from those years in ex-gay ministry who decided the fight against that particular sin wasn’t worth the effort. Each of them accepted the lie that God made them gay and wanted them to embrace their sexuality. A few settled for living in celibacy while “celebrating” their same sex attractions (I’m not sure how that works) while others pursued committed relationships. One or two remained in heterosexual marriages, expecting their spouses to understand that these are “mixed marriages.” I gather that they all are talking about Pride right now.

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Exceptions Don’t Invalidate General Rules

Someone on social media kind of complained a few days ago that people too quickly point out their mitigating circumstances whenever they see posts laying down Scriptural principles. I am one of the people she meant, though I doubt she had me in mind when she wrote the post. As I’ve mulled over her remark, I’ve had to agree that people these days are far too sensitive, especially when circumstances beyond their control force them to be exceptions to the rule.

One topic in particular seems to compel me to voice my status as someone with exceptional circumstances. Whenever I hear admonishments against staying home from church, I immediately experience defensive feelings, certain that others judge me as a hypocrite who has no business writing a Christian blog. And if I stayed home from church simply out of personal preference as a matter of convenience, they’d be absolutely right!

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