Oppression And The Bible’s Prescribed Response

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.

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Susan Heck — With The Master

God allowed me to be one of the original signers of the Open Letter to Beth Moore a couple years ago, along with Amy Spreeman, Elizabeth Prata, Michelle Lesley and Susan Heck. I’d been familiar with Amy, Elizabeth and Michelle for a while, but I’d only heard about Susan a handful of times (probably through Michelle’s blog). At the time we circulated the Open Letter, I visited Susan’s With The Master website, hoping to find a blog. Disappointed that Susan isn’t a blogger, I didn’t have much interest in her. So I didn’t pursue her teaching.

I pretty much forgot about her for a couple years.

When I hurt my back this past December, I couldn’t read my Bible. For the first few months I watched YouTube sermons by R.C. Sproul. John MacArthur and others to get my Bible intake. But then I happened — by God’s providence — to catch Justin Peters’ April 12 interview with Susan Heck, in which he promoted her YouTube channel. What a wonderful blessing!

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Flashback Friday: Not Afraid To Fear The Lord

Originally published May 19, 2017.

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Evangelicals in the past 50 or so years have carefully minimized (or avoided altogether) the subject of fearing God. When, in the course of a group Bible Study, they inadvertently encounter verses about fearing God, they cough out a few sentences about simply revering Him before rapidly moving on to more manageable verses.

Fearing God isn’t politically correct anymore, even among Bible-believing Christians. We much prefer dwelling on the Lord’s goodness, compassion and love. That way, we keep Him much more approachable, even when we persist in our pet sins. Even more to the point, we make Him more attractive (we think) to non-Christians when we evangelize them. Talking about fearing Him, we reason, makes Him less marketable.

Scripture, however, never seems all that concerned with the Lord’s marketability, nor with keeping us comfortable even in our disobedience. Even the beloved book of Psalms, which often consoles false converts with poetic assurances of God’s love and mercy, insists that we need to fear Him.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    all those who practice it have a good understanding.
    His praise endures forever! ~~Psalm 111:10 (ESV)

Does fearing God mean feeling literally afraid of Him? Well, yeah. Sometimes such fear is highly appropriate, actually. Such fear acknowledges His authority to establish His standards of how Christians ought to behave, and to discipline us when we violate His standards.

In considering the fear of the Lord, we must clarify that genuinely saved Christians can fear Him without doubting His love for us. Hebrews 12:6 explains that, as our heavenly Father, He disciplines the ones He loves. I realize that postmodern parenting, influenced by psychological models, often consider it unhealthy for children to fear parents, but God graciously allowed me to grow up in a time when I both knew the security of my mom’s love and feared her discipline.

I was a willful child (and, to my shame, I’m still very willful). In school, I had no problem defying a certain teacher. If he chose to punish my disobedience, I was perfectly fine with that. But I always begged him not to tell my mom. He always did, once even going to her workplace! And, although she really wasn’t as harsh with me as he was, I feared her discipline far more than I feared his.

Fearing God helps me obey Him more consistently. I know He won’t revoke my salvation because of my sin, but I also know that facing Him in judgment and accounting for ways I squandered opportunities to serve Him will be painful. I fear dishonoring Him, even as I rejoice in knowing that I will spend eternity with Him.

Fearing God gives me discernment to live in a manner that pleases Him. It teaches me holiness. Maybe fearing Him isn’t fashionable in the 21st Century, and maybe psychologists would disapprove of my fear of Him, but the Bible recommends this holy fear. It calls it the beginning of wisdom.

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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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A Song To Make Us Think

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.

One song captured my attention.

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Flashback Friday: Starting Discernment Out Right

Originally published January 24, 2019:

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Although I taught children’s Sunday School for several years,  I can’t recall once teaching the basic Bible lessons that I heard as a child (in a liberal denomination, at that). “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” “‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

Evangelicals generally have an aversion to teaching children to fear the Lord. Frankly,  we don’t even teach it to ourselves. Yet the Bible explicitly states:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. ~~Proverbs 9:10 (ESV)

That standard Sunday School verse taught in the 1950s shouldn’t be downplayed, explained away or outright ignored the way it is in our postmodern evangelical culture. Perhaps a main reason that we now equate discernment strictly with polemics comes from our hesitancy to embrace the idea of fearing God.

Yet both the Old and New Testaments contain several verses urging people to fear God. Holy fear doesn’t require feeling terrorized by Him, nor does it negate His love for us. At the same time, His love for us doesn’t negate our proper response of approaching Him with an acute awareness of His holiness and our sinfulness. The apostle Paul told us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:13).

I loved my mother. Until my late teens, I pretty much thought she could do no wrong. But when I misbehaved at school, the absolute worst punishment my teacher could inflict was telling Mom what I’d done. She never treated me harshly, but that initial look of anger and disappointment always shook me to my core. Loving her compelled me to fear her.

Loving God, then, should compel Christians to fear disappointing Him. The fear of the Lord actually encourages us to love Him by keeping His commandments (John 15:10). Rather than avoiding  talk of fearing God, we should cultivate holy fear and let it teach us to live in ways that please, honor and glorify Him.

The fear of the Lord leads us to the wisdom that helps us discern His will from the pages of Scripture. Fearing Him, as an aspect of loving Him, develops discernment in our day-to-day lives.

If we desire to be women of discernment, we must begin by developing a healthy fear of the Lord. Maybe our churches and Sunday Schools need to return to teaching this basic principle.

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Before We Discern The Sins Of Others

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We all enjoy letting people think that we are “in the know,” don’t we? By billing ourselves as having the gift of discernment, we indeed can puff ourselves up…at least in our own eyes. But the same Bible that  commands us to call out false teachers and correct sinners also admonishes us to maintain an attitude of humility.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. ~~Galatians 6:1-5 (ESV)

When we have concerns about a person’s ministry and/or personal conduct, therefore, we must first examine ourselves. Why do we feel the necessity to call attention to Read More »

Prayer: A Seldom Realized Privilege

king-jesusEach morning, John and I listen to John MacArthur’s Grace To You broadcast. Currently, Grace To You is featuring MacArthur’s most popular Christmas messages that he’s preached over the course of his fifty years of pastoring Grace Community Church. Today’s message focusing on the deity of Christ captured my attention, but not in the way you might expect.

As MacArthur preached on Jesus being the Son of the Most High, and therefore being God Incarnate, I thought about God as the Most High Being. I don’t meditate on the fact that He is the Most High often enough, which usually leads me to regard Him a little more casually than I should.

That casual attitude particularly shows up in my prayer life, I’m sorry to say. Yes, I know the stereotype of Read More »

Unforgiveness Hurts Others More Than It Hurts You

Forgiveness ButterfiesSomewhere in the 1960s, when evangelicals became enamored with psychology, teachings on forgiveness started emphasizing the benefits of forgiveness on the person doing the forgiving. If they had left the discussion at Matthew 6:14-15, that would have been fine.

To their shame, they didn’t leave it there. No, they elaborated that when someone refuses to forgive those who hurt her, she imprisons herself in bitterness. Therefore, they reason, she Read More »

Sin Need Not Be Physical To Be Sinful

Sins of the HeartBeing mainstreamed into “regular  school” during junior high and high school didn’t totally remove me from the school for “orthopedically handicapped” children. I’d spend mornings at “regular school,” and then I’d have to return to the special school for the afternoons. I didn’t much like going back, but that was the prevailing wisdom in the late 60s and early 70s.

Midway through my sophomore  year of high school, the Lord brought me to salvation. I talked openly about my newfound faith at both schools. A girl at the special school seemed especially interested, and began attending Tuesday evening Bible Studies with me.

This girl had the same type of Cerebral Palsy that I have, although her speech defect Read More »