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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Not Judging Women On Buses And Subways

ModestyIt’s that time of year. As the bus driver secured our wheelchairs yesterday, I remembered that taking public transportation means that women will board the bus and subway wearing less clothing than they should, revealing more of their bodies than they should. I know my husband works hard to avert his eyes and keep his thoughts honoring to the Lord, and I’m very proud of him. But I also know he needs my prayers.

But I also struggle with temptation when I see young women display more of their bodies than they should. I’m tempted to judge them.

Judging Christian women with the goal of gently helping them learn to attire themselves appropriately is one thing. I pray that my articles on modesty will help Christian women think through their wardrobe choices and clothe themselves in ways that honor the Lord and their brothers in Christ. Scripture mandates that Christians warn each other about sin. So I believe mature Christian women have a responsibility to teach our younger sisters in Christ how (and why) to dress modestly.

Most of the women I see on buses and subways, on the other hand,  probably aren’t Christians. Because of this probability, they simply don’t operate under Biblical convictions. I have no reason to expect that they should. As a matter of fact, God’s Word quite clearly says that believers must restrict judgment to those within the Church.

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? ~~1 Corinthians 5:12 (ESV)

Not judging these women doesn’t require that I condone the way they dress. Their immodesty is sinful regardless of their assessment of the situation. But because they most likely don’t know the Lord and therefore feel no compunction to submit to His authority, I’m wrong to expect that they would conform to His standards.

Sitting on the bus and imagining snarky comments to write about these women on Facebook merely exposes my self-righteousness and lack of concern for their eternal souls. Yes, I feel concern for my husband, knowing that he has a responsibility to the Lord to keep his thoughts pure. I definitely need to pray for him as he fights against his responses. But these women also need prayer. More likely than not, they need to come to a saving knowledge of Christ.

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Saturday Sampler: June 3 — June 9

2006_0719DownTownCrossJuly060006We Christians can be a sneaky bunch, as evidenced by Doug Wilson’s short article, Calling It Something Else in Blog & Mablog. I hate to admit it, but he’s right.

As she often does, Leslie A tells it like it is in Is the Lord Still Speaking? She understands that many may disagree with this post in Growing 4 Life, but she risks unpopularity for the sake of God’s Word.  Furthermore, she makes her case by leaning entirely on careful reasoning from Scripture, showing how Scripture changed her thinking on this issue.

IMG_0795John MacArthur’s essay simply titled Judge Everything appears on the Grace To You Blog as a healthy challenge to practice discernment. He draws an important distinction between the type of judging prohibited in Scriptures like Matthew 7:1 and the type of judging that God commands believers to exercise. As false teaching multiples within evangelical circles, we desperately need to make Biblical judgments.

For his latest contribution to The Cripplegate, Jordan Standridge recounts An Encounter With a Mother-God Cult Evangelist that ministers to my insecurities about witnessing to cult members. Perhaps the Lord will embolden you through his words.

General WashingtonWith boldness and a reliance on both church history and God’s Word, Elizabeth Prata makes A Comment to the Snowflake Society in The End Time. She writes in response to Tweets Beth Moore made a couple weeks ago, having taken time to formulate her thoughts about the matter. In waiting, she balanced passion with reason, providing a much needed example of temperance in handling social media. While I recommend her blog post for that reason, I recommend it even more because her message desperately needs to reach Christian women!

IMG_3134Writing at Renewed in Truth, Lara d’Entremont affirms that Being Filled With the Holy Spirit isn’t the mystical experience that some would have us believe it to be.

I love the way Michelle Lesley reasons from Scripture! Her timely blog post, Solving Misogyny — You’re Doing It Wrong, minces no words in confronting the latest push for women to have unbiblical positions of church leadership. Thankfully,  Michelle relies solely on God’s Word to make her case and offer godly solutions to a very real and serious problem within the Church.

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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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Not One Tiny Bit Of Credit

Ephesians 2 8&9Christians, even genuinely born-again Christians who love God’s Word and have a commitment to discernment, often struggle with the teaching that God takes complete responsibility for their salvation. We desperately want to believe we’ve played even a teeny tiny microscopic part in receiving His grace. In fact, a major reason people despise Reformed Theology (or Calvinism) stems from an unwillingness to relinquish the idea of human participation in salvation.

Believe it or not, I understand that objection. Until very recently, I told my testimony in a way that afforded me the dignity of having “accepted” Jesus. Sure, I conceded, He did all the heavy lifting, but I believed I made the final decision to become a Christian.

As a result of my years of embracing the doctrine of free will, I can’t dismiss Arminians as false converts. None of us should. Unless taken to the extreme of Pelagianism, we should give the benefit of the doubt to brothers and sisters in Christ who have been taught that they chose the Lord. After all, none of us has absolutely perfect theology. While right doctrine is essential, all of us are growing towards it a step at a time.

Having voiced my understanding of those who believe in free will, let me now challenge their belief that God won’t save anyone against their will. I have to question the presupposition that anyone, prior to the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, would even desire the God of the Bible. Someone might desire a god who conforms to their notion of spirituality, but Scripture clearly states that no one (apart from the influence of the Holy Spirit) has the slightest interest in the true God.

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” ~~Romans 3:9-18 (ESV)

Notice verse 11, ladies. Despite popular rhetoric about so-called seekers, Paul asserts that no one seeks for God. Free will seeks for a spirituality that feeds the ego, always ending in making us feel good about ourselves, but it cannot choose the Lord Who rightly deserves all the glory. We can’t choose the God Who demands our repentance because we don’t really want to live without our pet sins.

In fact, our natural inclination toward sin deadened us to the Lord, rendering us incapable of voluntarily seeking Him. We needed the Holy Spirit to fill us with life, thereby giving us the faith to receive His grace.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ~~Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV)

I wish time permitted me to quote all the Scripture passages that God used to convince me that I played no part in coming to Christ. The realization of my utter dependence on His grace humbles me. I liked believing that I could take some credit for choosing to follow Him. But the more I read His Word, the more I understand that He saved me by His grace. He alone deserves the praise.

 

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My Sin, Dwarfed By Grace

Lately, the Lord has allowed me to see the instances when I sin a bit more frequently. Not that I’ve been sinning more frequently. Rather, I’m less blinded to my sin than usual, so I can confess more often and more specifically.

Although I’ve been praying for a greater sensitivity to my sin, I can’t say I exactly enjoy being confronted with my wretchedness. I don’t like knowing that I’ve displeased the Lord or that I’ve acted unbecomingly. I like to maintain a high opinion of myself, and I like others (especially God) to share that high opinion.

But by seeing the ugliness of my sin, I also get to see the astounding beauty of God’s grace. As today’s hymn demonstrates, that grace is ever so much more powerful than any sin I commit. And it’s more powerful than any sin you commit. So, as the Lord faithfully allows us to look at our sins, let’s rejoice in the opportunity to experience His grace to forgive and cleanse us.

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Flashback Friday: The Logical Conclusions Weinstein And Spacey Exemplify

In light of Harvey Weinstein surrendering  himself to authorities this morning, I want to repost this article from November 9, 2017. I feel even more strongly about Hollywood’s hypocrisy now than I did when I originally wrote this piece.

Hollywood Door

For a few weeks now, America has been scandalized by allegations that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and actor Kevin Spacey sexually assaulted people. The entertainment elite didn’t mind such accusations against conservatives like Bill Cosby and Bill O’Reilly, mind you. Those allegations fit so wonderfully into their narrative of conservative hypocrisy.

The interesting aspect of the scandal generated by Weinstein and Spacey is that the hypocrisy lies in the moral outrage of a community (or industry) that openly and persistently promotes unbridled sex. For over a century, Hollywood has pushed an agenda of sexual freedom, openly mocking Biblical standards of morality. They’ve done so slowly and carefully, to be sure, but they’ve always led the way in desensitizing moviegoers to illicit affairs.

Who didn’t want Humphrey Bogart to get on that plane with Ingrid Bergman?

How many Christian women love The Notebook, undisturbed that Ryan Gosling a) has premarital sex  with Rachel McAdams and b) resumes the relationship when she’s about to marry someone else?

These films, along with many others too numerous to mention, lure us into softening our hatred of sexual sin. In fact, they portray adultery and fornication as almost innocent acts that we should applaud rather than condemn. In essence,  Hollywood sells the idea that we should feed our sexual appetites, even if we do so outside the marriage covenant.

Once we realize Hollywood’s agenda, we must admit that Weinstein and Spacey have merely taken that agenda to its logical conclusion. Given their rejection of Biblical morality,  why should it matter whether sex was consensual or not? Does Hollywood have a right to set any standard for sexual behavior? If so, why does it?

To be clear, I in no way condone sexual assault.  Kevin Spacey, to his credit,  has acknowledged at least some of his assaults against underaged boys (although he partially excuses himself because he was supposedly under the influence of alcohol). Nevertheless, both men have completely thumbed their privileged noses at God’s Law, and I cannot be sympathetic towards either of them.

But neither can I accept so-called righteous indignation from an entertainment industry that systematically and relentlessly celebrates sexual perversion while it simultaneously vilifies Christians for proclaiming that sexual expression belongs exclusively within monogamous, heterosexual marriage. Weinstein and Spacey have merely practiced what Hollywood has preached since Mae West delighted audiences with her suggestive lines. All of Hollywood should join Weinstein and Spacey in repentance.

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