Jesus Doeth All Things Well

This past week, I struggled with the sin of worry. Disability forces me to be dependent on government programs (never a good thing) and one of those programs didn’t seem to be operating properly. Thankfully everything got sorted out Friday, but until then I battled to trust God’s sovereignty.

In the midst of the struggle, I came across a lesser known Fanny Crosby hymn that the Lord used to both convict me of my sinful anxiety and assure me of the Father’s care for me. I share it here as a reminder to myself, but also as an encouragement to you. Whatever befalls us, we need to trust that Jesus really does all things well.

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Worshiping Together And Understanding Differences

Two Young LadiesBefore we can adequately address the latest evangelical craze of abolishing racism,  we must agree that racism is indeed a sin. Social justice warriors don’t have a monopoly on that truth. The apostles, in fact, openly (although briefly) rebuked the racial divisions that caused tensions between Jewish and Gentile believers in the First Century.

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. ~~Colossians 3:9-11 (ESV)

Paul wanted Christians to focus on Christ rather than on racial and ethnic differences that would cause unnecessary divisions.  As we begin putting on our new selves (2 Corinthians 5:17), we treat each other as brothers and sisters, not as members of other people groups. Any attitude of superiority (racial or otherwise) has no business in Christ’s body!

Additionally, white Christians in the United States of America need an awareness of the suffering that black people have endured. I learned this  lesson through a very painful incident.

When I lived in the nursing home in Memphis, a young man who happened to be black struck up a conversation with me. He also lived in the nursing home, and that day he’d decided to befriend me. I was old enough to be his mother, and found myself having maternal feelings toward him.

The conversation was sweet and playful, making both of us smile. When you live in a place like that you really want friends who you can enjoy, so I got excited about having a “son” to banter with.

My excitement got the better of me. I called him “boy.”

The rage that flooded his face flabbergasted me. If he hadn’t been a quadriplegic, I seriously think he might have physically attacked me, based on the fury he exhibited. Through clenched teeth, he commanded, “Never, ever call me boy!” With that, he drove his power wheelchair away and never allowed me to speak to him again.

Somebody later explained to me that the term “boy” carries connotations of superiority, evoking memories of slavery and Jim Crow. Even though this young man had been born well after Civil Rights laws had been enacted, he knew better than to permit a white person to demean him. How could he know that I honestly had no idea I’d used a pejorative term?

That day taught me that black people, particularly in the southern states, have scars. My former fiance told me that practically every black person in the south can point to a tree that the KKK used to lynch one of their near ancestors.

So as I challenge the Social Gospel and its new emphasis on race relations, please don’t misunderstand me as being insensitive to the ways black Americans have been mistreated. And are still mistreated. I realize that I don’t fully understand what black Americans go through, and I probably never will.

But I don’t believe making racism a “Gospel issue” furthers God’s kingdom. As I see it, the current conversation distracts us from from worshiping Christ as a unified body of His believers. Paul’s words to the Colossians should call us to unite around Him.

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When A White Woman Fears To Be Outspoken

Biblical UnityThis bout with writer’s block has nothing to do with a lack of ideas, but rather with a reluctance to write about the ideas I have. For instance,  last week’s MLK50 Conference, added to Beth Moore’s vague “repentance”  from racism a week earlier, have ignited my thoughts concerning the Social Gospel that some evangelicals embrace lately. Although I believe I should address these matters, I question whether or not I possess enough understanding of them to write a responsible essay.

Well, that’s only a partial truth. Yes, I’d like to do more research on the MLK50 Conference, since I don’t have first-hand knowledge of what the various speakers said. Reading reports on Twitter, even from reputable people that I trust isn’t responsible journalism, nor does it reflect Christian integrity. Just this morning, as a matter of fact, I read about the importance of guarding our words.

29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. ~~Ephesians 4:29-32 (ESV)

But my reticence goes deeper, to be perfectly honest. Now that the Social Gospel adherents have officially attached themselves to the hot potato issue of racism, there’s really no way a white woman can critique it without being accused of racism.

I could, I suppose, defend myself by telling you that my first fiance was black. During our engagement, we encountered more opposition from black people (including his pastor, who refused to acknowledge me) than from white people. Black women advised him to dump me and find a nice black girl. If that’s not racism, please tell me what is!

But my anecdotal evidence most likely wouldn’t convince anyone (and especially anyone on this current bandwagon) that I have valid reasons for challenging the Social Gospel. As far as evangelical social justice warriors are concerned, anything I write that raises questions about their efforts to end racism in the name of Jesus automatically brands me as a racist.

So I’m paralyzed. I do want to examine the Social Gospel from a Biblical perspective, primarily because I see a misplaced emphasis in their efforts. And I think, if this movement hadn’t lurched into the politically charged area of racism, I might have been able to write about it with confidence. But the MLK50  Confidence (and, to a lesser extent, Beth Moore’s “repentance” Tweets) have put me in a difficult position.

Perhaps I suffer from cowardice. Perhaps I should risk being misunderstood and maligned on this issue, just as I’ve risked it over other issues discussed in this blog. I won’t change the minds of evangelical social justice warriors anyway, but I might encourage others to put the focus back on Christ and His kingdom. After all, in His kingdom people of every race and ethnicity will join together in worshiping Him.

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Saturday Sampler: April 1 — April 7

Spring 2018 SamplerWhat do you call home? Sometimes (too often, actually) I tell folks that God made me for Boston. John Ellis, in his blog A Day in His Court, writes Rooted: A Christian’s Place to challenge that temporal perspective. But his rejoinder isn’t exactly what you probably think it is.

Starting with an account of John Hooper’s martyrdom under Bloody Mary, Clint Archer discusses Exquisite Tenderness – Being Christlike in the Crucible of Suffering for The Cripplegate, The main body of his post draws from Christ’s attitude during His crucifixion. It’s an uncomfortable post to read, but we certainly need its message as we face the growing threat of persecution in our own century.

In How to Cheat Death, Leslie A of  Growing 4 Life questions the power of a healthy diet. She sees a much more effective way of cheating death.

I remember the frustration of being single, and thus I feel concern for my unmarried sisters in Christ. Lisa Robinson, who blogs at Thinking and Living Theological Thoughts Out Loud, writes On kingdom seeking and stuff: a personal reflection to encourage other single women through the wonderful blessing God is working in her life.

Using Titus 2 as a  template, Amanda Walker shows us Six Habits Younger Women Need Older Women To Teach Them in Biblical Woman. Ladies, all of us can benefit from the reminders Amanda provides.

Although I don’t think I’ll close The Outspoken TULIP’s Facebook page quite yet, Stephen McAlpine’s When Facebook Falls Out of Like With Your Blog gives me something to ponder.  I understand that the growing censorship against Christians and conservatives in social media is minimal compared to the persecution Christians face in other parts of the world, but I believe we should be aware that we have limited time in which to proclaim the Gospel online. Let’s not waste it!

Also in this week’s The Cripplegate, Eric Davis writes Is the Bible Enough for Us? – Sufficiency as part of his series on God’s Word. My regular readers know how strongly I believe that the Bible provides absolutely everything we need to live in accordance with God’s will, so you’ll not be surprised by my recommendation of this post. Davis makes the case for the sufficiency of Scripture much better than I ever have.

Michael Coughlan’s thought-provoking piece, Sad Facts About Racism, adds needed perspective to the difficult conversation we’re having in our nation currently. He regularly contributes posts to Things Above Us.

If you struggle to distinguish between discernment ministry and “discernment ministry,” please read How To Do Online Discernment Ministry, Part 1 and How To Do Online Discernment Ministry, Part 2 by Elizabeth Prata in The End Time. Whether you aspire to write a discernment blog or you need help determining which blogs to trust, Elizabeth’s two essays can help you develop a good criteria for vetting discernment ministries.

At first, Stephen McAlpine’s title,  The Sex Pistols, The Bible and China, put me off. But as we think about the probability of persecution reaching American shores, this article offers encouragement and hope that the suppression of religious liberties might actually serve to further the Gospel!

I certainly have an abundance of links in this edition of Saturday Sampler, but I must include That’s Not How This Works by SharaC of Into the Foolishness of God. The practice she addresses reminds me of Thomas Jefferson, who reportedly took scissors to the parts of the Bible he didn’t like.

Finally, Jeff Robinson writes Jonathan Edwards and Why I am a Cessationist for Founders Ministries to help us evaluate the work of the Holy Spirit in revivals. He imports thoughts from Jonathan Edwards, who preached during the Great Awakening in the 18th Century.

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Blinking Cursors And Spiritual Urgency

Clock YellowMy  cursor blinks insistently on the blank page, scolding me for again waiting so late before beginning a blog post. I think back, with too much nostalgia, to the blog I used to write. It had  no real focus; I could write simply for the sake of writing, without bothering about staying on topic.

Ironically. I often blogged about not feeling like blogging.

With this blog, I supposedly have a focus. Within that focus, I can address a wide array of issues relating to Christian maturity as we face a growing probability of persecution for our faithfulness to the Lord and His Word. For that reason  I choose not to waste precious time and energy showcasing my writing abilities our playing with inconsequential thoughts just so I can check blogging off today’s list of chores.

A reader recently asked me to write more about myself. I’d love to! Being as narcissistic as everyone else online, I’d take great pleasure in rambling endlessly about my thoughts, my history and my hobbies. A few readers might even find such babble mildly interesting (though it puzzles me as to why they would).

Yet it seems to me that Christians waste far too much time using the tools of social media for frivolous pursuits and self-promotion when we have such a tiny window of time to use the Internet to share the Gospel and instruct each other in sound doctrine.

11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. ~~Romans 13:11-14 (ESV)

Christ is returning at any moment, and the present state of the world leads me to believe that He will come within the next few decades. Yes, I could be wrong. But if I’m right, we have serious work to do. Why fritter away my blog posts trying to impress you with my command of the English language when I could direct your attention to the Lord Jesus Christ?  C’mon, really!

To be honest, I think I write better when I write for my selfish pleasure. But I don’t think that possibility ought to lure me away from using this blog to exalt and honor Christ. In the short run, I may compose something enjoyable to read that reflects back to me, but such an essay would certainly have no eternal value. Why should I waste my time on that nonsense when we have so little time left before Jesus is banned from social media.

My blinking cursor, with all its urgent impatience, reminds me that time passes rapidly. I wasted too much time in youth and middle age using my writing to draw attention to myself. Let this blinking cursor encourage me to invest in the treasures of eternity.

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Easter All Year Round

Is it too early to start celebrating Christ’s resurrection?

Talk about a ridiculous question! The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ provides the cornerstone of our faith, and really should be celebrated throughout the year. Because He rose from the dead as He said He would, He guarantees that He will one day raise us to live with Him forever. That promise fills me with joy!

Since celebrating Christ’s resurrection can never begin too soon, let’s get into the Resurrection Day spirit with this contemporary hymn that accentuates the joy of His triumph over sin and death.

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If We Love Those In Heaven

Spotlight on God

This past Wednesday I introduced the topic of whether or not our deceased loved ones look down on us from heaven. This topic touches everyone; we’ve all lost at least one special person, and consequently we feel the powerful desire to cling to the relationship. We crave assurance that that person still loves us. That we matter to them.

Please understand that I really do understand that craving. When my friend Bob succumbed to his battle with AIDS, I found myself believing that he watched me from heaven, perhaps even more attentive to me in death than he’d been in life. In a sense, his death allowed me to feel closer to him. In my mind, he was now always with  me, focusing his love on me.

Dear sisters, do you see my self-centered attitude here? I wanted Bob’s attention to center on me rather than on the Lord.  I disregarded the truth that he now beholds Christ in all His glory — a wondrous sight that will consume him (and me) for all eternity!

As mortals still locked in sinful bodies, we tend to forget Christ’s preeminence in His creation. I realize I quote Colossians 1:15-20 often, but this passage has so profoundly transformed my understanding of heaven that I want to again draw your attention to it.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (ESV)

Although Paul didn’t write Colossians 1:15-20 specifically in reference to heaven, the concept of Christ’s centrality in His creation should clue us in to the fact that creation revolves exclusively around Him. That being the case, it seems to me that heaven strips away everything that distracts from Him. Therefore, those in heaven with Him must be consumed with adoration of Him.

Doesn’t it seem selfish, then, to expect our loved ones in heaven to divide their attention between the Lord and us? Wouldn’t we want them to delight wholly in Him, completely liberated from all other concerns?

And do we seriously want to compete with the Lord for their attention?

I challenge you to think carefully about that last question. As harsh as it sounds, I believe it brings us to the heart of the matter. In repenting of my fantasies about Bob watching over me from heaven, I’ve had to confront my tendency to rival the Lord for Bob’s attention. Not a pretty admission, but a true one.

We continue to love those who go to heaven ahead of us, as well we should. But let’s love them enough to rejoice that they behold the beautiful face of the Savior. And let’s love our Savior enough to rejoice that our loved ones can worship Him without distraction. One day, we will join them in that glorious devotion to Christ.

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