Flashback Friday: He Said, “Look Mommy — I’m Wearing A Dress!”

Originally published March 29, 2017:

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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.”

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An Eternal Fulfillment Of My Childish Question

Little girl with Matthew 5:8 quote

Some of my childhood memories come back as complete narratives. Every detail remains vivid, as does the progression of events. As a storyteller, I particularly enjoy recounting these memories, though John has heard all those stories so many times that I’m sure he’s sick of them.

Other childhood memories come in fragments, with both moments of sharp detail and many more moments so blurred that I can’t distinguish actual events from my guesses of what might or might not have happened. It’s one of those partial memories that I want to share with you today.

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Remember His Blessings

John and I watch far less news than we used to. You might say the same. It’s more depressing every day, particularly as we watch society’s determined rebellion against God’s Word and the Lord Himself. We feel hopeless, as well as righteously indignant.

We can’t live in denial of the growing lawlessness around us. Neither can we ignore the approaching persecution that will come against those of us who stand on God’s Word. Taking a Pollyanna attitude certainly won’t give the fortitude we’ll need in the coming days.

At the same time, we must resist turning into Debbie Downers. Amid all the negativity swelling around us, the Lord has blessed us with both temporal and eternal blessings, the latter of which not even the most corrupt government can take from us. Without denying the rising evil around us, we must focus on His goodness and remember reasons to praise Him.

Through Jesus, God has given us the precious gift of salvation! How can we refrain from rejoicing when we think of His goodness in covering the sin of all who believe in Him? How can we remain depressed when we contemplate spending eternity in His immediate presence? How can we not glorify Him for the great things He has done?

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The Four Spiritual Laws Say That God Created You To Have A Personal Relationship With Him — Is That True?

If you’ve been an evangelical Christian for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of an evangelism tool called “The Four Spiritual Laws” John and I were even in a church that used this tool in its New Members Class (our present church does not use it, thankfully).

I want to write a few posts over the next few weeks going over these Spiritual Laws. While they do present the Gospel on a surface level that can be beneficial in witnessing to people, they fall short of offering a robust picture of our need for salvation and the Lord’s sufficiency in effecting that salvation. I commend the writers who developed these Spiritual Laws for their zeal in reaching out to the lost, but I believe we must hold their tract up to Scripture to determine its faithfulness to sound doctrine.

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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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Keys To Discernment: Why Paul Wrote To The Colossians (Reboot)

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Last Monday I explained that I’ll repost the few Bible Studies I wrote on Colossians before I injured my back in February. I’ll add a few remarks to these articles where I feel they need further comment, so you really might find it beneficial to read them again. Once we’ve reviewed those studies, we’ll continue working through the epistle.

As a young Christian, I would get impatient when Bible Study teachers would spend time talking about the background to whatever book they taught. I just wanted to grab verses here and there that I could shoehorn into my immediate circumstances. Textual context only mildly interested me; I had absolutely no use for historical or cultural background, thank you very much!

So if you’re groaning at the title of this post, anticipating a boring history lesson about First Century Colossae, I understand. It’s not what you expected from a study on discernment.

Don’t close this article yet, ladies! You need to know that I’m writing a little about the background to this epistle precisely because it will enable us to see how Paul taught discernment without once naming the false teachers that he refuted.

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More Than The Doxology

Throughout my early childhood, the Presbyterian church I attended with my parents and sister sang The Doxology every Sunday. I had no idea what it meant, but I sang it obediently, feeling secure with the familiar words and melody. I probably figured that God liked it.

After Jesus saved me, I attended mostly Charismatic churches. Early on, the primary church I belonged to sang contemporary praise songs, with an obligatory hymn each service. Gradually, hymns fell away almost entirely.

On rare occasions, The Doxology would pop up. Singing it brought back warm childhood memories, but I also loved praising God from Whom all blessings flow. I loved praising Him with all creatures here below, as well as with the heavenly host. I loved praising Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

In our church today we sang The Doxology as the closing verse of a longer hymn. A hymn I’d never heard in its entirety. The verses that precede the familiar words of doxology expand on God’s worthiness to receive praise, as well as the joyful privilege we have of giving Him that praise.

I’ve loved The Doxology my entire life. Today’s discovery that it’s part of a longer hymn surprised and intrigued me. I still love The Doxology, but now I know that there’s so much more where it came from. And I love the whole hymn!

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Throwback Thursday ~~ 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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Easter Has Implications For Our Benefit

Do you sometimes forget the glorious truth that Christ’s resurrection has implications on both our present life and eternity? I think most of us — myself included — tend to forget all about His resurrection shortly after we sit down to Easter dinner. Oh, it’s in the back of our minds and all that, but… well, it’s in the back of our minds.

But our Redeemer indeed does live, and therefore He plays an active role in our lives. Certainly, the ultimate purpose of His resurrection revolves around His glory. We must keep that in mind at all times. Yet His resurrection also results in benefits to us.

How generous the Lord is to take the event that most points to His exaltation and use it to extend grace and blessing to His people! Shouldn’t such kindness only cause us to adore Him all the more?

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Ancient Hymns Exalt God

For the past few weeks I’ve been reading through Psalms. I started doing so in response to COVID-19, eager to find encouragement in these troubling times. Indeed, many of the psalms do offer wonderful comfort as they point to God’s protection of His people in all sorts of affliction.

Psalm 57 begins with David telling the Lord about some of his trials. The early verses depict his despair as circumstances close in on him. Yet almost immediately he intersperses his statements of fear with his confidence in the Lord. He knows that only God has the power to deliver him from his encroaching enemies.

David wants more than simply his own deliverance, however. He wants the world to see God’s power, and to exalt Him. Verses 9-11 close the psalm with a prayer that God would exalt Himself above the heavens and spread His glory over all the earth.

When I read this ancient hymn during my time with the Lord a few days ago, I fondly remembered singing a portion of it as a praise song in the early 1980s. How beautiful to sing such an ancient hymn that centers on the exaltation of God!

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