Discernment In A Time Of Persecution

John is graciously typing this blog post as I dictate to him from bed. Because I cannot type this entry myself, I will not include Scripture quotes or links to verses — doing so would be difficult to teach John. Please don’t interpret this absence of Scripture as an abandonment of God’s Word.

Regardless of your eschatology, you must admit that evil is escalating. The political situation in the United States indicates that Bible believing Christians will face varying degrees of persecution in the next few months. Regular readers of this blog know that I have been warning about this probability for the last five and a half years, yet I’m not sure any of us (including me) have really let the truth sink in.

It’s not a truth we want to face.

As Elizabeth Prata shows us in her recent post about James Coates, Canadian Christians have begun to experience real persecution. In our prayers for this pastor and his family, American Christians must keep in mind that our pastors may soon experience the same suffering that James Coates and his family are going through.

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It’s Not Too Late For Christians

John and I regularly listen to The Dividing Line webcast with Dr. James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries. Yes, people, I know James White is a controversial figure, and sometimes he aligns himself with teachers he really shouldn’t (most notably, Michael Brown). At the same time, White holds tightly to Reformed Theology, and has an excellent understanding of history in general. We value his insight and carefully consider his perspective — even when we don’t share his conclusions.

White has made various predictions about our country’s trajectory that cause many to accuse him of wearing a tin foil hat. He firmly believes that the Biden administration will plunge the United States into a dystopian society. And he thinks the damage will be irreversible.

I hope he’s wrong. I believe he’s right.

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My Fear For Evangelical Ostriches

Generally, ostriches are among my favorite animals. I love their flirtatious eyes, if you really want to know (which you probably didn’t). I love emus for the same reason, and had my husband photograph this one at Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo:

But ostriches — and probably emus — have a reputation for burying their heads in the sand. Our culture has consequently turned their practice into a metaphor describing someone who tries to avoid unpleasant realities.

I’m thinking about that metaphor after a recent conversation with a Christian we know. John and I had watched a documentary about Corrie ten Boom, a Christian woman from Holland who had been imprisoned in a Nazi Concentration Camp during World War II. Corrie and her family had provided a hiding place for Jews fleeing persecution, only to be caught for doing so. Her father and her sister both died in Concentration Camps, while Corrie was unintentionally released due to a clerical error (and of course, God’s providence).

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Throwback Thursday: Distinctively Loving

Originally published September 21, 2015:

Rainbow Heart

When, pray tell, did liberal culture determine that standing for Biblical values, particularly (but not exclusively) in relation to homosexuality, constitutes hate? The very people that demand love and tolerance from Christians show the least tolerance toward those who view their lifestyle as sinful.

And yes, I realize that people claim homosexuality as an identity rather than a behavior. I even sympathize with their conviction that homosexuality is “who” they are. In most cases, such people have genuinely felt different from their same sex peers early in childhood, and sometime during puberty they sexualize this feeling. Therefore, they understandably conclude that they were “born gay.”

Admittedly, I present an over-simplification of the situation, but not as much of an over-simplification as many might have us believe. I only mean to say that I reject the notion that anyone consciously decides to experience same sex attraction.

Yet I also make a distinction between a person and their behavior. For example, I struggle with the sins of anger, greed and, selfishness, all of which I’ve exhibited  since early childhood. Scripture condemns these behaviors, even though I have reason to say, “That’s just who I am.” In obedience to the Lord, I repent of those thoughts, attitudes and behaviors, separating them from my identity. Similarly, I believe homosexual thoughts, attitudes and behavior don’t obligate a person to declare homosexuality as intrinsic to his identity.

Postmodern  culture demands that I make no such distinction. When I say that the Bible uniformly condemns homosexuality just as it condemns my ingrained sins of anger, greed and selfishness, people accuse me of bigotry and hatred. I resign myself to the reality that they characterize Biblical Christians in such terms, but I believe they make a mistake in so doing. Furthermore, I believe they err by judging Christians as haters.

The prevailing sentiment of postmodern society insists that we love people only by agreeing with their behavior. Love, according to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, never requires a capitulation to sin.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ~~1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)

Love requires Christians to extend kindness with an attitude of humility, but it also does not allow us to celebrate sin. My husband responds to my outbursts of anger with patience, for example, but he never condones them and he expects me to repent of anger. He wants me to repent precisely because he loves me enough to encourage me to obey Christ.

I don’t mind if liberal culture calls me to address people with kindness and patience. But I do have a hard time when they decide that I’m unloving simply because I believe that God’s Word prohibits homosexuality. Such an assessment shows an incomplete understanding of love.

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Flashback Friday — Journaling: The Pitfall We Should Recognize

Originally published May 16, 2018:

Little blonde angel

Between the autumn of 1977 and the spring of 1994, I kept a personal journal. I’d write about a wide variety of topics, ranging from Scriptures I’d read in my Quiet Time (frequently taken out of context and misapplied) to practical jokes I played on my friends. For the most part, however, I wrote about my disappointments, my frustrations and my fears. Toward the end of that 17-year period,  I realized that journaling served mainly to fuel my self-pity. For that reason, I abruptly quit writing it.

Perhaps some people can journal without focusing on themselves. Those people should certainly maintain journals! Their journals offer rich treasures to those who read them. But I suspect, especially in this culture that exalts feelings and believes in following psychological principles, that most people use their journals for the purpose of venting.

After 17 years of venting my feelings, I woke up to the fact that venting only keeps a person’s attention fixed on his or her problems. Venting through a journal is even worse, in my opinion, because the act of writing slows down the thought process, prolonging the focus on a subject. So when someone uses a personal journal to ruminate on their feelings, should it surprise us that we wind up wallowing in self-absorbtion?

Self-absorbtion, however,  is the antithesis of Biblical Christianity. Christ demands that His followers actually die to ourselves for His sake.

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” ~~Mark 8:34-38 (ESV)

Popular evangelical teachers promise us “our best life now” and romantic dates with Jesus, urging us to get in touch with our feelings. They advise hurting women to stay home from church on Mother’s Day and write their feelings out “to the Lord.” What horrible advice!

Honestly confessing our feelings to the Lord is one thing. Job, David, Jeremiah and Jesus all had times of pouring their hearts out to God. But in so doing, they invariably wound up acknowledging His sovereign right to order their circumstances according to His will. They ultimately turned their eyes away from themselves and back to Him.

If you keep a personal journal that revolves around your disappointments, frustrations and fears, please consider the possibility that it may be locking you into patterns of self-absorbtion. If possible, turn your journal into something your descendants can read to find Christ. Let them see that, no matter what your circumstances, He remains faithful and deserves the glory.

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Please Don’t Thank Your Lucky Stars

Moon and Stars

The conversation after church shocked me. If he had been a new Christian, perhaps I wouldn’t have been quite so taken aback. But he had been saved for several years, and church leadership apparently considered him to be spirituality mature.

When he mentioned his horoscope, I couldn’t believe my ears! And he said it so casually, as if it was all very normal for a Christian to read horoscopes and give a little credence to astrology. After all, he wasn’t overly invested in the practice. It was an amusement that maybe had enough credibility to warrant his attention.

How a Christian could hold such an opinion baffled me then and continues to baffle me 23 years later.

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It Feels Good To Breathe Again

I suspected I wouldn’t be able to write the article on the second Spiritual Law today because of interviews for the Personal Care Attendant positions we needed to fill. I was correct. Even getting a chance to read my Bible today was an enormous challenge.

The interruption paid off. As it stands now, we’ve hired people for both positions, trusting that the Lord will work things out. I’m relieved, though emotionally exhausted and not entirely looking forward to training two people all at once. But yes, I’m praising the Lord for His provision. He has, once again, shown Himself faithful.

After this morning’s interview, I finally got to open my Bible. My schedule had me in Psalm 22.

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Flashback Friday: A Right Proclamation Of The Gospel

Originally posted February 17, 2017:

93a68-wordjudgesheart

Yesterday I watched a YouTube video featuring people I personally know from my Charismatic days.  I managed to get past their “God told me” claims by remembering how often I used to phrase my own experiences in those words. In listening to Charismatics, I want to keep in mind that   many of them, though deceived, are genuinely my brothers and sisters in Christ. After all, I walked in those same deceptions for most of my Christian life.

Toward the end of the video, however, they invited unsaved members of their audience to begin their “adventure” with Christ. They assured people that Jesus Christ offers freedom from sin (which He does) and personal fulfillment. According to them, Jesus waited, hoping people would reach out to Him and receive all that He had for them. They read a prayer that made vague reference to being a sinner and committing their lives to Christ. Those who said that prayer were instructed to sign a copy, write the date and keep it in their Bibles in case Satan questioned their salvation.

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The Stubborn Facts About My Would-Be Idol

Me with Abigail and John Quincy Adams January 2013

Over 30 years ago, I sat in San Rafael, CA, hunched over a biography of Abigail Adams that my mom had given me.

In the early chapters, I thrilled to descriptions of Abigail Smith running through the woods of Braintree, Massachusetts to meet John Adams — the man she would soon marry. Reading on, I admired the support and sacrifices on her part as her husband served in establishing the United States of America. In short, I struggled a little with the temptation to idolize Abigail Adams.

Years later, marriage brought me to a town in Massachusetts that borders Braintree. The day after our wedding, John and I had supper in a restaurant in Braintree. I reminder sitting outside the restaurant, looking at the woods and wondering if Abigail had seen those same trees 200 years earlier.

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We’d Rather Read About False Teachers, DebbieLynne

Okay, I read my blog stats. Monday’s post reintroducing the Colossians Bible Study hasn’t received much attention, whereas yesterday’s post about a tweet Beth Moore “Liked” is soaring to over four times as many views as the Colossians post got.

I can understand this discrepancy in two ways.

Firstly, I can deduce that my readers already study the Bible on their own, and therefore don’t need another study to work through. Truth be told, I don’t go through the studies that Michelle Lesley posts each Wednesday for that very reason. When I met her in person three years ago, I explained that reasoning to her, and she graciously understood my position. She says other readers have told her the same thing.

I dearly hope that my readers forego the studies I write for the same reason. I hope each of you spends time going through God’s Word each day, reading and studying it in context. If so, I have absolutely no problem with you skipping my studies.

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