Saturday Sampler: June 17 — June 23

Bows SamplerOkay ladies, summer has already made its grand entrance, bringing sizzling temperatures to a large portion of the United States. Hot weather, of course, ushers in the temptation to dress in ways that might not be honoring to the Lord. Kari Dent of living in paradise courageously writes Dear Sisters to speak frankly about our call to modesty.

Rarely can I curate an edition of Saturday Sampler without including something that Leslie A posts in Growing 4 Life. This week’s essay, Simply Broken or Thoroughly Dead? requires us to think Biblically about our relationship with sin and the current trend to call ourselves broken. As usual, you really shouldn’t miss this one!

Women struggle with improper thoughts as much as men do. In response to this reality, Amanda Walker shows strategies for Guarding Your Heart…On Purpose in her latest post for Bible Study Woman. Although her approach isn’t exactly novel, it reminds us to protect our minds from anything that distracts from the Lord.

We could all use the Evangelism Encouragement that Michelle Lesley offers. Praise the Lord for her Scriptural perspective on seeing results when we witness to unbelievers.

Elizabeth Prata, in The End Time, uses an Italian Renaissance painting to demonstrate that  Bad fruit is bad, thus warning us against false teachers. Okay, I’m a sucker for Italian Renaissance art, but Elizabeth’s essay really is worth reading whether you like art or not.

Happy Birthday to Two Faithful Preachers from Erin Benziger. To learn the identities of these two men, and how their ministries parallel each other, go over to Erin’s Do Not Be Surprised blog, which you should read regularly anyway.

Blogging for Stand to Reason, Natasha Crain provides A Parent’s Guide to the 5 Skeptics Who Want to Shame Your Kids for Being Christian. You don’t have to be a mom in order to benefit from Natasha’s counsel, however; each of us encounters these common objections to Christianity.

SlimJim, who blogs at The Domain for Truth, gets it right with Christians Must Grow Deeper In Biblical Doctrines. His assertion is near and dear to my heart. Please read his Scriptural reasoning for making this claim.

Yesterday I started to blog about the upcoming Revoice conference, but after reading As the Serpent Uncoils by Douglas Wilson in Blog & Mablog I’m glad I held off. Doug approaches the controversy with a fresh, but Biblical, perspective that needs to be considered as professing Christians demand to retain homosexuality as their identity.

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The Obvious Truth That Christians Forget

Rainbow Bible02The LBGTQ agenda to force Western society to celebrate various forms of sexual orientation and/or expression poses a particular threat to Bible-believing Christians. Some of you may be thinking, “Well duh, DebbieLynne, tell us something we don’t know!” And yes, most Christians understand that there is tremendous pressure — pressure that increases daily — to affirm their lifestyles as good and wholesome.

What many don’t understand, however, is how relentless LBGTQ activists are about enforcing their agenda. I’d always thought that, once they got same sex marriage they’d be happy. As a matter of fact, I remember copious assurances that legalizing same sex marriage wouldn’t affect heterosexuals.

Then faith-based adoption agencies had to either place children with same sex couples or close their doors. Christian florists, bakers and photographers who refused to lend their creative talents for same sex weddings faced litigation, with some losing their businesses. All the while, secular adoption agencies and wedding vendors would probably be delighted to take their money.

But you know all these things, don’t you? Why am I spending time blogging about things that I don’t even need to document because everyone knows about them?

I blog about the efforts to enforce universal celebration of LBGTQ causes because eventually proponents of those causes will demand legal sanctions against pastors who dare to preach that homosexuality is sinful. You might argue that such  a thing would never really happen. Certainly not in the United States of America!

Twenty years ago, my mom said same sex marriage would never become legal in the United States.

Obviously, we shouldn’t regard individuals within the LBGTQ community as enemies. Some feel hostile toward Christians, yes, and the more militant ones definitely want to silence us from proclaiming God’s Word about proper contexts for human sexuality. They’ve seen us as their oppressors, and now they believe we can make amends only by enthusiastically affirming their lifestyles. I actually understand their perspective.

We most assuredly should treat them kindly and respectfully, as we would treat anyone with a life-dominating sin. At the same time, we mustn’t compromise God’s Word in an effort to placate them. They have begun to bully us, sincerely believing that we’ve bullied them for centuries. They unwittingly serve as Satan’s agents to bring down Christ’s Church.

Therefore we walk the delicate balance of loving them as individuals made in God’s image and standing firmly against the LBGTQ agenda. We will suffer persecution. Our pastors (and some us us) will go to prison. I don’t think many of us realize that LBGTQ issues will be the main vehicle for initiating persecution against Christians in the 21st Century.

Maybe you already know these things. But maybe you needed a reminder.

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Equal Grace For Homosexual And Heterosexual Attractions

Rainbow HeartWorking for an ex-gay ministry in the 80s and 90s, I believed my superiors (as well as my peers) that homosexual orientation was morally neutral. Homosexual desires became sinful, we taught, only when acted upon. After all, we reasoned, heterosexual attractions don’t carry  sinful connotations.

Concurrent with my time in that ministry, one of the women in leadership took it upon herself to counsel me in regard to my desire for marriage and my constant romantic attractions to guys in our ministry who hadn’t yet experienced victory over their homosexuality. My attractions, she indicated, were sinful because those men simply weren’t available to me.

Despite her obvious double standard, I completely agree that romantic and/or sexual attractions are absolutely not morally neutral. As a married woman, for example, I have no right being attracted to anyone other than my husband. I may be heterosexual, but I have a responsibility to actively reject even the most fleeting thought about other men. A seemingly innocent thought, encouraged by the knowledge that I have a heterosexual orientation, constitutes adultery, according to Jesus.

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. ~~Matthew 5:27-30 (ESV)

If it’s sin for me to entertain attractions to men other than John, why would same sex attractions be morally neutral? Do Christians who struggle with homosexuality have a special exemption from the principle laid out in Matthew 5:27-30 is supposedly morally neutral?

Look, after nearly 30 years of having close friends who battled same sex attractions, I’m not callous to their frustrations. Many of them genuinely hurt, hating their desires because those desires dishonor the Lord. My similar battles as a single woman continually falling for men I couldn’t have give me sympathy for them. Please realize that I honestly understand that their road isn’t easy or fun.

At the same time, we do them a great disservice by pretending that the Lord accepts their desires as morally neutral. Rather than leaving them with the false assurance that the Lord coddles them, we can assure them that He offers forgiveness and the power to walk  in repentance. He extends the same grace to them that He extends to us.

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Saturday Sampler: May 27 — June 2

balloon-turtle-samplerElizabeth Prata certainly hasn’t “unhitched” from the Old Testament. Her essay, The Man of God and the old prophet (and don’t forget the shriveled hand!) in The End Time, shows how delightful it is to discover lessons from Old Testament history that apply to Christian life today.

In The Upward Call, Kim Shay pleads, Older woman, don’t be a trope. Being officially an older woman, I greatly appreciate her admonition.

Even Beth Moore the Broken Clock can come up with correct ideas once in a while. Okay, her solutions lack Biblical integrity, but occasionally she actually identifies a problem accurately, as Jason Marianna reveals in his thought-provoking post in Things Above Us. Don’t worry — he’s not endorsing Beth Moore. But he acknowledges that the Lord may, in one rare instance, have used her to shed light on a real problem within the church. Who knew?

Catholicism teaches that the concept of Purgatory comes from Scripture. Tom, blogging at excatholic4christ, refutes that error with Does 2 Timothy 1:16-18 teach Purgatory? This entire issue gives one more example of practicing discernment by understanding the Word of God in its proper context.

I’ve never thought of self-control as the linchpin for the fruit of the Spirit. But in her article for Biblical Woman, Courtney McLean celebrates The Gritty, Grace-Filled Virtue of Self-Control by showing how this attribute activates love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness and gentleness.

Oh boy, do we despise being told that we can’t do something! But Kristen Wetherell rightly contends that The Only Way You Can Do God’s Will requires first acknowledging your absolute inability to do God’s will. Intrigued?  Then check out her blog post on Unlocking The Bible.

I once taught that same sex attractions were only sinful if a person acted on them. In his latest Pyromaniacs post, Regarding “Sexual Orientation,” Evil Desire, and the Question of Moral Neutrality, Phil Johnson corrects my erroneous thinking by appealing to the teachings of Scripture. Praise God for Christians who stand firmly on God’s truth, even when doing so contradicts popular opinion!

Appealing to the writings of Martin Luther, Stephen Nicholas of Ligonier answers the question, Is Sola Scriptura a Rejection of Teachers and Tradition? This essay gives a wonderful response to both critics of Reformation principles and people who misuse those principles.

Writing on the Phylicia Masonheimer blog, Anatasis Faith explains How to Avoid the Bible Journaling Mentality that adversely affects so many Christian women. If you only read one blog post featured in this Sampler, make it this one!

We end Saturday Sampler with another Elizabeth Prata essay, this one responding to Kim Shay’s piece above. Act Your Age expands on Kim’s points, drawing from a wider variety of Scriptures to demonstrate how God calls older women (like me) to behave. She beautifully rounds out Kim’s thoughts, adding her own touch of wit.

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One Important Reason I Probably Won’t Blog About Butterflies On Subway Cars

Subway Butterfly

Because John and I met online,  we hold a special fondness for the movie, You’ve Got Mail. Meg Ryan plays a woman who carries on an email correspondence with Tom Hanks, not knowing that he’s the same man who put the children’s bookshop she owned out of business.

Throughout the movie, Ryan and Hanks do voice-overs of the emails they write to one another. Ryan’s early emails particularly interest me, as she reflects on an inconsequential thing (like a butterfly fluttering on and then off of a subway car) in a way that reveals so much of who she is. Her lines make me wish I could write as lyrically.

In another email, she comments on the strangeness of typing words into a computer, not knowing where they’ll go our who will read them. Since that movie was written long before blogs, Facebook and Twitter, I can’t help wondering if online communication has become even stranger now.

As a blogger, I sometimes wonder how my tenuous words have amassed the modest but growing following that The Outspoken TULIP  has developed in slightly less than three years. And would I have a larger or smaller following if I wrote about butterflies on subway cars and such?

Not that I can imagine anything as poetic as a butterfly fluttering on a Boston subway car. A dirty pigeon, perhaps. Though a pigeon would flap violently rather than delicately fluttering. Not the same.

Anyway, I once did operate a blog in which I wrote simply for the sake of writing. Yes, I enjoyed that freedom.  At times I regret giving it up in favor of this more focused blog. What harm could there be, I ask myself, if I occasionally departed from the main themes of this blog to have a little fun with writing? Although I seriously doubt I’d ever see a butterfly on a Boston subway car, I could easily find other interesting moments to develop into essays of little consequence.

A couple of verses I read in Ephesians yesterday stops me from allowing myself such liberties.

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. ~~Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV)

Indeed, the days are evil. Outside the church, abortion and homosexuality are celebrated as human rights, not decried as murder and perversion. Truck commercials on TV assume that dating couples will move in together before (or without) getting married. Christian bakers and florists lose their businesses for declining to cater gay weddings. Public schools offer yoga classes, denying yoga’s connection to Hinduism. Christians receive warnings not to pray in public, and sometimes get banned from social media for proclaiming the Gospel.

Many of us anticipate much more severe persecution in the near future.

Inside the visible church, professing Christians compromise in numerous respects, from so-called “Holy Yoga” to advocating for women pastors. For all our talk about believing God’s Word, our fondness for mysticism and psychology betray our confidence in human philosophies. False teachers infiltrate evangelical circles in droves.

The Outspoken TULIP exists precisely because the Church faces so many external and internal threats. Christian women need encouragement to study Scripture so we can withstand the overwhelming pressure to compromise with the world. While writing about butterflies on subway cars and such would certainly be a lot more fun, I don’t have time for that. Rather, it wouldn’t be the best use of my time.

Do I have a big enough following to make a significant difference?  Of course not. But the scope of my blog doesn’t matter. My faithfulness does. And faithfulness demands using my time for His glory, not for floating inconsequential musings across the Internet.

My blog may not be widely read, but I still have a responsibility to use my writing for the Lord. Although writing fun pieces every so often wouldn’t necessarily be bad, I have to ask myself if it would be the best use of my blogging time. When I consider how rapidly Western society is hurling itself into rebellion against God, and how greater numbers of professing Christians compromise with worldly values, I can’t help concluding that writing about the Lord and encouraging women in their walks with Him is the best use of my blogging time.

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Saturday Sampler: April 29 — May 5

IMG_1982In the bizarre atmosphere of 21st Century culture, commonsense essays can refresh the spirit.  Garbage In… Garbage Out by SharaC of Into the Foolishness of God looks at a postmodern contradiction and its Biblical solution.

Offering encouragement though  How Do We Overcome the Fear of Evangelism in Unlocking the Bible, Denise (no surname given) directs our attention to Scriptural attitudes concerning witnessing. Her article challenges us, but it also reassures us of the Lord’s commitment to help us carry out the Great Commission.

An Unpleasant and Unpopular Truth appears in Leslie A’s blog, Growing 4 Life as a challenge to examine our lives. A mere profession of Christ, remember, doesn’t necessarily mean that genuine conversion has taken place.

IMG_2004As a lesson in discernment, Elizabeth Prata of The End Time writes a thought-provoking Book Review: America’s beloved novel, “Christy” to examine the theology inherent in the popular book. Kudos to Elizabeth for daring to review such a well-loved book with such candor and balance.

Clint Archer, in his contribution to The Cripplegate, reinforces what is Of First Importance: What will be on the test when we die? Those of you participating in my new Monday Bible Study series on 1 Corinthians 15 should especially appreciate this article.

As long as you’re reading The Cripplegate, check out What Pope Francis Should Have Said to Emanuele. I always enjoy Jordan Standridge’s writing; this piece may help you understand why I’m such a huge fan of his work.

IMG_1992As Christians, we must make careful distinctions in our language, and we must hold our critics to those distinctions. In Dear Media: Please Distinguish Conversion from Conversion Therapy, Denny Burk demonstrates the importance of defining terms by  citing the conversion of a gentleman who survived the terror attack on the Pulse nightclub.

Religious OCD or Scrupulosity by Fred DeRuvo at Study – Grow – Know juxtaposes the troubling methods of psychology against Biblical counseling.  Please, if you still can’t see the dangers of psychology, read Fred’s piece and seriously consider the points he raises.

Would I recommend a blog post simply because the illustration favors the Boston Red Sox? No. Peter Krol’s Context Matters: the Faith Hall of Fame in Knowable Word merits recognition for its skilled handling of Hebrews 11 in and of itself. But I admit that the homage to the Boston Red Sox doesn’t bother me a bit!

All photos taken May 2, 2018 at Boston Public Garden by John Kespert

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Flashback Friday: We’ve Been Warned

Martyrs BibleIn light of California’s proposed bill that will illegalize any form of suggesting that sexual orientation should or can be changed, I thought this article from two years ago might remind The Outspoken TULIP readers that we can still trust the Lord in times of persecution.

We’ve all had history teachers that spoke in dry monotones and refused to allow for any class participation. Sadly, those teachers perpetuate  the myth that history is dry, boring and irrelevant to life here and now. On top of that, many people (including evangelicals) consider the Bible to be equally dry, boring and irrelevant. Pardon me, ladies, but we really need to open our eyes to see how both Scripture and history prepare us for a future that is nearer than we think.

For example, let’s take a look at Matthew 10:16-23, which describes Jesus sending the Twelve out to cast out demons, heal the sick and preach the Gospel to the lost sheep of Israel. Although most of His instructions were specific to those twelve men, I believe the last section applies to all Christians. And after last June’s SCOTUS infamous decision to legalize same sex marriage, which obviously goes against the Lord’s true design for marriage, His words take on a more vivid gravity.

 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. ~~Matthew 10:16-23 (ESV)

Do you understand what I’m getting at? Simply put, those of us who take God’s Word seriously will face backlash much like the Reformation martyrs did. If those of us who claim to be Christians remain faithful to Scripture, the world will naturally hate us. We represent a holy God Who refuses to compromise His righteous standards and does not bow to any human cultural invention. Our  courts, influenced by media propaganda and liberal politics, may attempt to redefine marriage and make public bathrooms gender-neutral, but the King of kings and Lord of lords holds fast to His intent and expects His followers to remain loyal to Him.

The LGBTQ community, of course, is only one of many ways humanity rebels against God’s authority. Over the last 2000 years, Biblical Christians have suffered various forms of persecution ranging from mild censure to violent martyrdom. Men like Wycliffe, Hus and Tyndale, for example,  bore the wrath of the Roman Catholic church because they called people back to Scripture and denounced the false doctrines that still overtake that church. In our time, the legalization of same sex marriage just happens to be the issue that will usher in the next wave of persecution. But church history informs us that Christians have always incurred the world’s hatred simply by our fidelity to Christ.

Actually, Scripture itself issues the warning that faithfulness to its teachings will guarantee persecution. Jesus taught clearly that the world would reject His disciples (in all generations) because it rejects Him.

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ ~~John 15:18-25 (ESV)

As the legalization of same sex marriage brings persecution on Christians who refuse to condone it, we must remember that the Lord warned us of the high cost of following Him. Yes, I grieve over the  loss of religious liberty in this country, and I do feel frightened. But I’ve always understood that following Jesus would most likely have painful implications. Reading passages like Matthew 10:16-23 and studying church history merely reminds me that I’ll be in good company  as I suffer reproach for Him.

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