Do We Care What Andy Stanley Says?

When I saw Andy Stanley’s name trending on Twitter early last week, I resisted the urge to find out what his latest gaffe was. There were better ways to invest my time, I assured myself. In one sense, that was true. While Christians sometimes really do need to name those who propagate falsehood in the name of Christ, discernment ministries gone bad have shown us the danger of devolving into spiritual gossips. I’ve learned that naming names should be done sparingly, and always with the goal of building up believers rather than tearing down false teachers.

Alas, Andy Stanley’s recent blunder caught up to me through two podcasts I listened to this past weekend. Neither podcast brought him up for the purpose of gossip, but rather out of genuine concern that he is conditioning evangelicals to minimize the authority of the Bible. After listening to both podcasts, I determined that I have something to contribute to the conversation that is less about Andy Stanley himself (though I pray for his repentance), and more about upholding the Scripture as having authority even over people who refuse to believe it and have no intention of submitting to its teachings.

In the introduction to his new sermon series, Stanley declared that appealing to Scripture fails to reach people for Christ. In both evangelism and ministering to those who have become disenchanted with the church, he says, we should not use the Bible as ground zero in our attempts to bring them to the Lord. He explains that neither audience accepts God’s Word as being relevant or compelling, and for that reason we must avoid prefacing any statement with “the Bible says…”

I understand his intent in shying away from the Bible. I think he sincerely feels compassion towards people who question the Bible’s right to give direction to their lives, and consequently he wants a more palatable way to reconcile them to God. As understandable as his approach is, however, its ultimate result is to replace the Word of God with human reasoning.

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The Wheelchair Square Dance And Listening To God’s Word

The church I attended in California often had square dances — mostly to give singles something to do on Valentine’s Day. Singles, married couples and children all joined the fun, and I enjoyed watching and chatting with other spectators. Over the years, I learned that square dancing isn’t really that difficult if dancers simply listen to the caller. Callers always explain the calls before each set so that everyone understands how to respond to each call. Thus, even though I didn’t dance myself, I knew that the trick to square dancing comes from paying attention to the caller.

About that time (I’m guessing over 30 years ago) a friend of mine from another church had started a ministry to disabled children using equestrian therapy (she was herself a wheelchair user who had benefited from horseback riding). She always invited me to her fundraising events. When she called to invite me to a wheelchair square dance, I couldn’t resist!

Like every other square dance I’d attended, this one began with the caller carefully teaching us how to respond to each call. Because we all used wheelchairs, he also taught us how to adapt the calls to dancing in chairs. It really wasn’t rocket science, even with the added condition of wheelchairs, and everyone caught on pretty quickly.

Everyone except the partner they gave me.

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The Tragic Demise Of Poindexter And The Consequent Arrival Of Providence

For many months, John had been suggesting that I consider getting a new computer, gently reminding me that mechanical things eventually do wear out. But surely, I kept telling myself, Poindexter didn’t really need to retire!

Poindexter had been my computer for almost ten years, and (although he had begun to get a little cranky in his old age) had never given me any serious trouble. I superficially agreed with John that I should probably upgrade , but I hated the idea of setting up a new computer when Poindexter had everything just as I liked. Additionally, I’d watched a couple YouTube videos on Windows 11 that made the new operating system seem decidedly undesirable. So I ignored John’s pleas and convinced myself that Poindexter would defy aging for a few more years.

Sunday evening, November 20, John tried to turn on Poindexter. My beloved computer had died of a corrupted hard drive.

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When Scripture Dismantles My Blog Post

I pretty much knew what I wanted to say, so I started writing the introduction to my latest post on Titus 2:3-5 Monday. My back hurt from having to spend the weekend in bed due to a lack of Personal Care Attendant coverage, so typing was slow and painful. I knew I needed to check the Greek for the word translated as “love” in verse 4, although I’ve always assumed it was “agape.” I promised myself I’d look it up Tuesday, when my back would feel better.

Tuesday my PCA didn’t feel well, and didn’t want to come in case she had COVID. (Thankfully, it’s just a very mild cold, so she came back Wednesday.) My backup PCA had car troubles, so I spent Tuesday in bed, mentally revising part of my introduction. Of course, Wednesday I had pain from spending another day in bed, and unexpected company ate an hour that I’d planned to use for blogging. When I finally got to my blog, I chose to rewrite my second paragraph before looking up the Greek. Again, the pain slowed my typing, and consequently I was simply too exhausted to do research.

Thursday, I actually did look up the Greek word rendered “love” in Titus 2:4. To my surprise, Paul used two Greek words — one for loving husbands and one for loving children. That’s very interesting, and I will restructure my article according to the correct definitions of those words. But of course I’ll need to first think through the proper application of the verse in light of those definitions.

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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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