Over the years, various people have described me as opinionated. Yes. I certainly am. And sometimes, my opinions are actually grounded in Scripture, making them right. Being opinionated, though often considered as a negative personality trait, can show that a person knows what he or she believes and why he or she believes it. Such certainty may be arrogant, or (depending on the context) it may reveal confident wisdom.
Hopefully my opinions reveal confident wisdom.
If you subscribe to The Outspoken TULIP, you may wonder why I haven’t written a word about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Surely someone as opinionated as I would have plenty to say about this situation, and would come out swinging! I usually do things like that.
The invasion does trouble me. John and I have acquaintances from Ukraine who left their parents and siblings to build a life for their children here in Massachusetts. We attended church with them, often entertained by their little boy’s absolute fascination with John. Just a year ago, the mother spent considerable time in Ukraine visiting a sick family member. So when I heard the initial rumblings about the invasion, I began praying for her family and her husband’s family.
A year ago, we all breathed a sigh of relief. 2020, with its lockdowns, social distancing and masks, was finally receding into the rear view mirror. Two vaccines had been approved, and a third was pending. We heard vague promises that schools would reopen and we’d be eating indoors at our favorite restaurants again. My doctor assured me that, once people got their shots, mask mandates would end and I could use para-transit and public transportation without anyone questioning her note exempting me from wearing a mask. We greeted New Year’s Day 2021 enthusiastically. This year would be better!
Increasingly, society makes clear demarcations between victims and oppressors. These demarcations fall overwhelmingly along racial lines, with white people being shamed solely because we are white. The other groups claiming victimization include women, LBGTQ people, those with disabilities and non-black ethnic groups, but right now Social Justice advocates mostly focus on tensions between white and black people.
Yes, all these groups mentioned have experienced discrimination, hatred and violence that they in no way deserved, and I don’t mean to minimize that fact. I could tell you several stories of suffering I endure because of my Cerebral Palsy. In writing this post, I in no way mean to imply that abuses never happen to members of these communities. They sometimes do. Probably not as frequently and systemically as progressives want us to believe, but let’s not overreact to Woke ideology by denying that there have been abuses.
Woke culture exaggerates these abuses, to be sure. More precisely, it exploits them. By adopting the identity of oppressed victims and labeling white male Protestants as systemic oppressors, this movement essentially tries to oppress people merely because they happen to be caucasian. And male. And cisgender. And Christian. Gracious — according to them, my husband’s only redeeming quality is his disability!
I get how the world embraces the Woke mindset. Rejecting the authority of Scripture, it demands its understanding of justice NOW! America exploited black people, and now the Woke movement demands reparations. If I left the Bible out of the equation, I might jump on the bandwagon. Maybe the disabled could also receive reparations somewhere down the line…? Doesn’t hurt to ask!
The Bible, however, presents a different response to oppression.
When people ask me about Beth Moore, I immediately refer them to Elizabeth Prata. In her blog, The End Time, Elizabeth has the most comprehensive collection of articles on Beth Moore that I have ever seen. A former investigative journalist, Elizabeth has carefully researched Moore from many different angles, and therefore has written and compiled critiques that cover her topic thoroughly. In my estimation, Elizabeth is the foremost authority on this false teacher.
But The End Time is about so much more than just Beth Moore. In addition to reporting on a variety of false teachers, Elizabeth also writes about Biblical prophesy and practical aspects of Christian living for women.
Elizabeth came to Christ relatively late in life (I believe she was in her 40’s), but she has grown in maturity remarkably fast. Her writing shows that maturity in both her theological knowledge and her tone. She is unapologetic in confronting error, as she should be! At the same time, she writes with grace and compassion toward women who find themselves caught in deception. To top it all off, she displays beautiful humility in her willingness to receive correction.
Let’s be honest: we look at all the insanity in the world, as well as the various trials in our personal lives, and try to figure out what the Lord is doing. As a matter of fact, Christians feel a sense of responsibility to understand His purposes in everything that happens. I suppose we think having a firm grip on perplexing circumstances will help us weather them.
A few days ago I read a psalm that gave me a perspective on facing difficulties that I’d never considered before.
O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me. 2 Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me. 3 O Israel, hope in the Lord From this time forth and forever. ~~Psalm 131 (NASB)
In the past, I’d isolated the verses from each other, so none of them really made much sense to me. Occasionally verse 1 reminded me to maintain a semblance of humility, and verse 2 encouraged me to trust the Lord, but I failed to see how those verses fit together. And I completely ignored verse 3.
When I read Psalm 131 a few days ago, however, I disciplined myself to think about their context. Suddenly the psalm took on a clarity that surprised me. In this psalm, David teaches that Israel can hope in the Lord by resting in Him instead of trying to figure out what He’s doing through the various situations in the world.
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.
As a teenager, I liked the music of B.J. Thomas — especially “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.” So I praised the Lord when, somewhere around 1979, he made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. I bought both of his Christian albums and wore out my cassette player by playing them.
Monday John put “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” on YouTube in honor of the weather. I then asked him to search for Thomas’ Christian songs (he had no idea that B.J. Thomas had recorded Christian songs), and we were pleasantly surprised that YouTube had quite a number of them.
Of course they were simplistic and a tad smaltzy. Most popular Christian music during that time period was. But John and I listened to several songs, hoping B.J. Thomas had a genuine conversion.
As Christians, we often wonder how we can please the Lord. And we definitely ought to read Scripture with the expectation of learning how to bring pleasure to Him.
But Scripture also shows us that God has done things for the purpose of pleasing Himself. I don’t think about that idea nearly as much as I should, and I’m not sure many of us do. Thankfully, the two concluding verses of the magnificent passage we’ve been studying these past few weeks adjusts our attention back to to the truth that God does everything with the ultimate goal of pleasing Himself.
For the sake of context, let’s once again look at our passage as a whole before we talk about verses 19 and 20.
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!
All of us would probably like a refund for the year 2020. To the naked eye, there’s little reason to praise the Lord. The anger and frustration swells both because of COVID-19 and the murder of George Floyd, not to mention the anarchy generated by demands to defund and/or abolish the police.
It’s a sad, heartbreaking time.
Yet God hasn’t abandoned His creation. He may be judging it by giving us over to our rebellion against His Word — indeed, I personally believe that to be the case. It may be difficult to adopt the so-called new normal that government leaders will impose on us. But all the negativity we currently experience has no power to stand against the goodness and sovereignty of our God and King.
A day approaches when Christ will return to establish His kingdom. At that time, He will eradicate every disease and will govern the entire world in perfect righteousness and justice. Christians long for that day!
The wonderful news is that He reigns even now. The chaos we see lies in His control as He uses it to accomplish purposes that we neither see nor understand. One glorious day, all creatures of our God and King will praise Him. filling the new heavens and earth with alleluias. Thankfully, Christians don’t need to wait for that day.