Thank You, But I’d Rather Not

Once again, John is typing this post at my dictation. I’m getting better, and even sat at the computer for 15 minutes last night. However, I am still looking for a morning PCA who can help me build up my back muscles. Consequently, I am not able to include Scripture verses or links to citations at this time. Thank you for your patience and prayer as I recover from my back injury.

By now, many of you know about Jory Micah’s tweet declaring that she follows her heart over and above following Scripture. Although her honesty is a bit shocking, the idea of following one’s heart is hardly novel. I guess people in all generations have trusted their own feelings and intuitions over and above trusting God’s Word.

That’s a shame.

Proverbs 3:5-6 warns us against leaning on our own understanding instead of trusting the Lord with all our heart. The prophet Jeremiah said that the human heart is deceitful and sick. Jesus said that all manner of evil comes from the human heart. How terrifying to think that a supposed Christian leader like Jory Micah would choose to trust her own emotions and insights as having greater authority than the Bible!

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Discernment In A Time Of Persecution

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.

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That’s The Kind Of Boldness We Need

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.

He was only at Terra Linda High during my Junior Year (if I recall correctly). During that year, the Lord saved him, and he was part of the Christian group that I was in. None of us noticed him very much since he was quiet and unassuming — unlike the rest of us. Due to his withered arm and slight limp, he didn’t impress us as being particularly strong or assertive.

We did notice him that day that we went to witness to the tough kids at school. As he presented the Gospel, one of the kids threatened to burn him with a cigarette stub. To our surprise, he puffed up his chest, took a step toward the kid and quietly said, “God ahead. I’ll take it for Jesus.”

Of course the kid with the cigarette backed down, but my girlfriends and I stared at each other in amazement. Where did he get that boldness? Did he know the kid wouldn’t really burn him? Was he really willing to suffer physical harm for the sake of the Gospel? My girlfriends and I could only gasp at his courage and wonder if we would have the same boldness.

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What God’s Word Says Depends On What God’s Word Says

I once heard someone ask a pastor what to do when Bible reading seems dry. The pastor answered (quite seriously, I’m sorry to say), “Just keep reading until something jumps out at you.” He went on to explain that a verse that catches our attention is what the Holy Spirit has for us that particular day.

Never mind the context. Never mind the intent of the human author, or the way his original readers would have understood the verse. Above all, never mind that God spoke that verse very specifically, with a meaning that doesn’t change in order to accommodate our individual circumstances. All too often, professing Christians read the Bible with the expectation that they can arrive at a personal, subjective interpretation.

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It’s Not Too Late For Christians

John and I regularly listen to The Dividing Line webcast with Dr. James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries. Yes, people, I know James White is a controversial figure, and sometimes he aligns himself with teachers he really shouldn’t (most notably, Michael Brown). At the same time, White holds tightly to Reformed Theology, and has an excellent understanding of history in general. We value his insight and carefully consider his perspective — even when we don’t share his conclusions.

White has made various predictions about our country’s trajectory that cause many to accuse him of wearing a tin foil hat. He firmly believes that the Biden administration will plunge the United States into a dystopian society. And he thinks the damage will be irreversible.

I hope he’s wrong. I believe he’s right.

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So Yeah, Reformation Day Is Coming — And I Don’t Think Anyone Has Noticed

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.

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Flashback Friday: Limiting The Reformation To October

I originally wrote this article on October 18, 2018. Regretfully. I didn’t take heed to myself. Maybe I’ll get better about it.

Reformation

From November 1, 2016 to October 31, 2017 I blogged every Tuesday about the Protestant Reformation in anticipation of its 500th anniversary. Whether or not readers appreciated that series,  I believed they needed to understand the Reformation’s ties to Biblical discernment. The 16th Century Reformers indeed set the standard for discernment ministry, so they have much to teach 21st Century evangelicals. And several of my Tuesday posts made that connection.

When October 31, 2017 had come and gone, I succumbed to the temptation to put the Reformation on the back burner in favor of writing articles that might attract more readers. I know — utter pragmatism!  The very thing I rail against when writing about Rick Warren and the Church Growth Movement, huh? But oh, those climbing stats felt good!

I assured myself that I would continue writing about the Reformation throughout the ensuing year. Maybe not every week. Certainly not on a rigid schedule! But I’d have frequent articles about Zwingli, Knox, the Council of Dort and Bloody Mary. I’d show my readers how the Reformers bravely stood against persecution for the sake of God’s Word, and how they used God’s Word to discern truth from error.

Yeah, well. Here we are in the second half of October 2018, and I realize how little I’ve written about the Reformation in the past eleven months.  The confetti from the celebration had been swept up, brand new controversies rocked evangelical circles and no one really cared what a silly German monk nailed to a Wittenberg church door on October 31, 1517. I guess I got caught up in Beth Moore’s letter to her brothers, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Woke Movement.

I’m not alone.

As October 31, 2018 approaches, a handful of Reformed bloggers have started spitting out the obligatory posts about the Protestant Reformation. I’m hopping on the sparsely populated bandwagon, as I do every October, which is probably better than nothing. But it shames me that a calendar had to nudge me into writing about it.

The Protestant Reformation was monumental in restoring the Word of God to the Church. After the First Century Apostolic era, it was the greatest move of God in the history of Christianity! Besides serving as a model for discernment ministry, it brought God’s Word back to His people, liberating us from an apostate religious system.

This Reformation shouldn’t be politely dusted off each October, only to be packed away in November to make room for Thanksgiving decorations. It should be joyfully proclaimed throughout the year, encouraging us to praise God for His mercy in the 16th Century and to emulate their zeal for the Bible. Hopefully I’ll do better at writing about it all during the coming year.

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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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The Forgotten Moment We Remembered Three Years Ago

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Often, effective blogging depends on keeping up with current conversations in social media. Readers crave hot topics — the more controversial, the better! As a result, very few people right now have even the slightest interest in reading about the Protestant Reformation.

Between November 1, 2016 and October 31, 2017, I devoted almost every Tuesday to blogging about the Protestant Reformation. Since October 31 of that year, I’ve said little about the matter, largely because the 500th anniversary had passed and everyone else has moved on to other topics. After all, the anniversary was over; other matters had begun to capture everyone’s  attention.

Including Read More »

Luther’s Greatest Work Came About Because Of A Theological Disagreement

Dead Church SteepleReading Martin Luther’s The Bondage of the Will requires determination. I regret to say that I gave up after reading 60% of it. Yes, my degree in English Literature involved reading things from centuries past, so the book shouldn’t have been so daunting to me. I’ve gotten lazy in my 43 years since graduation.

That said, I did actually read over half of it, and learned a lot from his argument against the concept of free will. Luther wrote this treatise in response to On Free Will by Desiderius  Erasmus,  a Catholic humanist who was the first to translate the New Testament directly from the Greek. I appreciated Luther’s ability to reason from God’s Word consistently in making his case. I stopped reading partly because he successfully convinced me that Scripture supports his position.

So why am I writing about a book that I haven’t opened in four years and didn’t Read More »