I purposefully didn’t watch the Macy’s Thankgiving Day Parade this year (or did the COVID-19 panic cancel it?), but I’m pretty sure it concluded with Santa ushering in the Christmas shopping season. And a society known for thumbing its nose at Christianity suddenly focuses on celebrating a Christless Christmas.
We struggle as Christians to keep our gaze on the Lord Jesus Christ amid pressures to buy everyone the perfect gift, decorate our homes and send cards. Though we sincerely desire to keep our attention on Him, we find ourselves pulled into the secular aspects of the season. It’s hard!
So in these four Sundays before Christmas I’ll post hymns reminding us of Who our Lord is. This week let’s enjoy this beautiful adaptation of Psalm 23 as it describes His function as our Shepherd.
2020 has been (if you’ll allow me to state the obvious) a turbulent year. The alleged pandemic, protests that aren’t as peaceful as the media claims and the U.S. election that threatens to plunge our country into socialism all vie for our attention. Understandably, 1517 is the last thing on our minds.
Should it be?
Right now, we’re living in extremely serious times. I’ll admit that church history doesn’t capture my attention the way it did a year ago. Again, that’s fairly understandable, I suppose. But it’s also rather disconcerting.
Even more disconcerting is the fact that I haven’t seen many other Reformed bloggers writing about the Reformation this year. We’re busy writing about so many other issues. Important issues, certainly, and issues that definitely require attention. I by no means wish to shame anyone for addressing contemporary topics. 2020 demands as much.
In 2020, it’s harder than ever to remember that Jesus actually reigns over the earth. More and more people crumble under the discouragement that continues to spread over our globe. Even strong Christians struggle against fear and despair, grieving as our liberties get taken away from us.
At this difficult time, we must train ourselves to focus on the truth that Jesus still reigns over all the earth. From our perspective, He seems to have lost control, but in reality He is working everything out exactly as Scripture predicated He would. That means that we can rejoice in His sovereignty, secure in the knowledge that He hasn’t lost control of His creation.
Hymn writer Isaac Watts once wrote a hymn assuring God’s people of the Lord’s steady rulership over the world. One of the verses encourages Christians to dwell on His love with sweetest song. Perhaps 2020, precisely because of the negativity it imposes on everyone, provides believers with an opportune time to do just that.
More and more Christians can see where Western civilization is going. We see how our politicians exploit COVID-19 to influence America’s upcoming election, to control human behavior and to clamp down on churches. We shouldn’t really be surprised.
I’m only surprised that the LBGTQ agenda got replaced by COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter as catalysts for social revolution. So much for claiming any prophetic powers, right? Nevertheless, the battle against the Lord and His church has intensified markedly in the past five months. I don’t think any serious Christian can deny that fact.
Voting for people who hold conservative values will reflect our integrity, most assuredly. By all means, let’s use our right to vote as long as we still have it!
But we win the ultimate war by obediently following Christ. And He leads us through His Word, not through political means. When (not if) our politics fail, our eternal King will lead us through each battle His way, all the while teaching us to glorify and honor Him.
A few days ago, someone told me that her three-year-old godson met his mother when she came to pick him up from preschool, greeting her with the words, “Look Mommy — I’m wearing a dress!” Horrified, his mother asked him why he was in a dress. He pointed to his teachers and claimed, “Them gave it to me!”
“Oh no,” the teachers argued, “we gave him a choice. We want our children to use costumes to express themselves.”
I know…you expected another edition of Saturday Sampler today. So I’ve started this sixth year of The Outspoken TULIP by disappointing readers who enjoy the selection of other blog posts and fellow bloggers who appreciate the free publicity. Take heart, everyone: Saturday Sampler will return next week with all sorts of goodies for you to explore.
Meanwhile, do you like my new decor? I’m celebrating a milestone in my blogging career, so I thought I’d dress The Outspoken TULIP up in honor of the occasion. You’ll notice a few minor changes around the blog in coming days, such as a switch from the English Standard Version to the New American Standard Bible (my husband and my pastor will be delighted). I’m also going to start using tags in addition to categories to assist readers in find posts that interest them. All this, to celebrate this blog’s fifth birthday!
I originally posted this article on July 15, 2016. Aside from the particular events mentioned in the first few paragraphs, the thoughts seem all that much more relevant to the situation in 2020. See whether or not you agree.
Still struggling to evaluate my thoughts on the black men who were killed in Minnesota and Louisiana, as well as the police officers who were killed in Dallas, I watched last night’s news of the terrorist attack in Nice and felt numb. How do we absorb all these horrific events?
I didn’t want to blog about Minnesota and Louisiana until more facts became clear. Too often, I’ve made comments on past blogs, Facebook and Twitter before I really understood all angles of whatever situation I happened to opine about. I’d therefore resolved to start holding my metaphorical tongue until I actually developed a decent idea of the matter at hand. Yes, I risk being misunderstood as indifferent to the world around me. But being misjudged beats making misjudgments, as I see it.
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.
We’ve been through another tough week in the United States of America. I’ve been through a discouraging week in my personal life.
Yesterday’s celebration of Independence Day seemed odd, given the apparent direction of our country. I can’t imagine that even John Adams (who advocated for centralized government) would approve of the things that have happened in the last three months.
I don’t approve of what’s happening in my personal life, for that matter.
Life is getting darker than I’ve ever seen it, and it certainly threatens to get worse. Didn’t Jesus say it would? We have no reason to feel surprised by the encroaching darkness, thoughts it grieves and frightens even the most mature Christian.
How encouraging, then, to remember that Jesus is returning to establish His kingdom! We don’t know when He will come back, and we probably shouldn’t indulge in too much speculation about it.
But what a comfort to know that He will come at just the right time! One day, all madness will end and He will reign in perfect righteousness. The violence will fade away, sickness will end and creation will be restored. Best of all, He will receive the honor and glory that rightfully belongs only to Him! Hallelujah!
If you’re on social media (particularly Reformed social media), you’ve seen the pleas to redirect or focus from the mayhem around us and to preach the Gospel. You’ve heard respected pastors like John MacArthur insist that the Gospel is the only real answer to the various problems that have torn Western society apart in just a few short months.
Perhaps you smirk a little when someone says that the Gospel answers the issues that have crippled our nation. COVID-19, racism, police brutality, LBGTQ issues, abortion and the 2020 election are all extremely important. Regardless of your political beliefs, you may feel the urgency of these matters. So the cries to keep the spotlight on the Gospel may seem flimsy. Some may even consider it as an avoidance tactic.
To such a point, may I respectfully suggest that all these matters actually stem from a neglect — if not a rejection — of the Gospel? If anything, the craziness of 2020 clearly demonstrates our desperate need for the Lord Jesus Christ.