Blessing Or Cursing The Men In Our Lives

Driving me home from college every day, my mom would reach a particular on-ramp that indeed was dangerous. She firmly believed that one day someone would be killed there (to my knowledge, thankfully, her prediction hasn’t come true). I still remember her lips tightening in disdain as she muttered, “A man must have designed this!”

Actually, she muttered those words any time she encountered things that she deemed inconvenient or illogical, explaining to me and my sister that women would not make anything so complicated or dysfunctional. She taught us to degenerate men, as if the poor things simply didn’t possess the intellectual abilities that characterize women. Yes, men came in handy now and then, she conceded. But for the most part, women could manage just fine — and perhaps better — without them.

Definitely women would have designed that on-ramp better!

As we prepare for Father’s Day, and the many sermons pointing out the shortcomings of fathers, I find myself thinking about Mom’s disparaging remarks. Society pretty much echoes her sentiments. Television, movies and even comic strips routinely portray men as buffoons. At times, according to my husband (an authority on all things pertaining to Superman), even Clark Kent had occasional moments of ineptitude. I believe I can safely say that our current culture all but celebrates male bashing.

Ladies, I know we get frustrated with the men in our lives sometimes. But don’t you think that we frustrate them just as much as they frustrate us? Maybe more? And yet, our culture wastes no time in labeling them as misogynists if they dare say anything the least bit unflattering about us. This double standard has no place in Christian conversation!

James, the half-brother of the Lord, may not have written specifically about male bashing, but his passage on the tongue in Chapter 2 of his epistle definitely applies to the matter. Look at the passage with me as we consider what we say about our husbands, dads, brothers and male friends.

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God Commands Our Husbands To Love Us — What His Command Doesn’t Mean For Wives

It was non-alcoholic champagne

As a single woman, I loved Paul’s instructions to husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands also ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are parts of His body. ~~Ephesians 5:25-30 (NASB)

I dreamed of marrying a Prince Charming who would devote himself to me, laying aside his wants and needs in order to make me happy. I looked at Ephesians 5:25-30 and envisioned a husband who served me so lavishly that my submission to him would be effortless. In fact, I’d heard a few sermons and Bible Studies on marriage that promised as much. And I couldn’t wait for a Christian husband to love me as Christ loved the church!

By the time John proposed, I was 47, so I’d developed more realistic expectations of marriage. To my surprise, John took Ephesians 5:25 extremely seriously. Even now, as our 19th wedding anniversary is less than three months away, he recites that verse as if it was his singular mission in life. And I praise God for blessing me with a man who loves me so deeply,

But the Lord has convicted me of abusing John’s love. Even worse, He’s convicted me of twisting His command to husbands. In these convictions, I suspect that other wives also misconstrue God’s instructions to husbands in selfish ways.

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Calling Out False Teachers: Finding Love In Discernment Ministry

In Revelation 2 and 3, the glorified Christ commissions the apostle John to write letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor. As I read these letters earlier this week, the letter to the church at Ephesus grabbed my attention because of its warning to people involved in discernment ministry. Look at the passage with me, and then we’ll talk about some of its application to discernment ministry.

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:

‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’ ~~Revelation 2:1-7 (NASB)

The letter starts by commending the Ephesian church for its discernment. This church was characterized by its doctrinal purity and faithfulness to test false teachers. Verses 2 and 3 describe a church that Christians should emulate. God’s Word repeatedly commands both leaders and laity to stand against those who pervert the Gospel. Consider, for example, Paul’s instructions to Titus:

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A Living Illustration

John is grIaciously 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 references — doing so would be difficult to teach John. Please don’t interpret this absence of Scripture as an abandonment of God’s Word.

Many nights I lay in bed half praying and half thinking. As someone who struggles with insomnia, I spend many hours in this lovely state of vacillation — and usually it pleases me. Throughout the years, my thoughts have covered a wide variety of topics ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, and often the ridiculous wins out.,

In recent weeks, my nighttime meditations have been a little sublime as I pray for the man sleeping next to me. Usually I begin by thanking the Lord that I am married at all. That gratitude morphs into a time of reflecting on the kind of husband that John is, provoking even greater gratitude.

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Throwback Thursday: Distinctively Loving

Originally published September 21, 2015:

Rainbow Heart

When, pray tell, did liberal culture determine that standing for Biblical values, particularly (but not exclusively) in relation to homosexuality, constitutes hate? The very people that demand love and tolerance from Christians show the least tolerance toward those who view their lifestyle as sinful.

And yes, I realize that people claim homosexuality as an identity rather than a behavior. I even sympathize with their conviction that homosexuality is “who” they are. In most cases, such people have genuinely felt different from their same sex peers early in childhood, and sometime during puberty they sexualize this feeling. Therefore, they understandably conclude that they were “born gay.”

Admittedly, I present an over-simplification of the situation, but not as much of an over-simplification as many might have us believe. I only mean to say that I reject the notion that anyone consciously decides to experience same sex attraction.

Yet I also make a distinction between a person and their behavior. For example, I struggle with the sins of anger, greed and, selfishness, all of which I’ve exhibited  since early childhood. Scripture condemns these behaviors, even though I have reason to say, “That’s just who I am.” In obedience to the Lord, I repent of those thoughts, attitudes and behaviors, separating them from my identity. Similarly, I believe homosexual thoughts, attitudes and behavior don’t obligate a person to declare homosexuality as intrinsic to his identity.

Postmodern  culture demands that I make no such distinction. When I say that the Bible uniformly condemns homosexuality just as it condemns my ingrained sins of anger, greed and selfishness, people accuse me of bigotry and hatred. I resign myself to the reality that they characterize Biblical Christians in such terms, but I believe they make a mistake in so doing. Furthermore, I believe they err by judging Christians as haters.

The prevailing sentiment of postmodern society insists that we love people only by agreeing with their behavior. Love, according to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, never requires a capitulation to sin.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ~~1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)

Love requires Christians to extend kindness with an attitude of humility, but it also does not allow us to celebrate sin. My husband responds to my outbursts of anger with patience, for example, but he never condones them and he expects me to repent of anger. He wants me to repent precisely because he loves me enough to encourage me to obey Christ.

I don’t mind if liberal culture calls me to address people with kindness and patience. But I do have a hard time when they decide that I’m unloving simply because I believe that God’s Word prohibits homosexuality. Such an assessment shows an incomplete understanding of love.

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Speaking The Truth In Love Doesn’t Mean People Will Feel The Love

Quite often, you’ll hear Christians quote the phrase, “speaking the truth in love” (a phrase from Ephesians 4:15), as if it was a fully fledged point of doctrine. Moreover, you’ll hear them emphasize love, almost as if it truth holds little consequence. By implication, love requires us to make truth palatable, even if it means changing truth or covering it up.

In the early 21st Century, love demands that we never hurt someone’s feelings.

And that’s where discernment bloggers (even the legitimate ones) get in trouble. We call out false teachers and/or identify unbiblical practices, trying our best to be charitable. And even when we manage to be charitable enough that some people accuse us of fence sitting, we still have readers calling us self-righteous and arrogant. According to most people, speaking the truth is the antithesis of speaking in love.

Maybe we should look at Ephesians 4:15 in its context to see what the apostle Paul meant.

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Flashback Friday: A Woman With Birth Defects Looks At Abortion

Originally published January 25, 2018. My dear friend Ginny reminded me of this article after getting me up yesterday and witnessing the terrible pain I’ve been experiencing lately,

Bride&Mother
Me and Mom on my wedding day

When doctors discovered that I had serious birth defects, they advised my mother to put me in an institution and forget she ever had me. According to them, I’d be a vegetable my entire life.  (Thus John refers to me as his spicy little tomato.) Thankfully,  Mom rejected their counsel, put me through college and lived to see me get married a month before my 49th birthday.

My mother didn’t raise a turnip, thank you very much!

All joking aside, I understand that the doctors sincerely believed they made a humane recommendation. Certainly, because they doubted that I had cognitive function, they concluded that I couldn’t possibly tell the difference between a loving home and an institution. And, more importantly (from their perspective), my parents would be spared the anguish of having a severely disabled child.

Mom knew that doctors aren’t God. They have limited powers in predicting an infant’s future. So she brought me home and proceeded to make my childhood as normal and happy as possible. When one teacher told her I’d never go to high school, she informed him that she fully intended for me to attend college. When my occupational therapist insisted that she tell me I’d never marry, she countered, “I can’t tell her something that I don’t know myself.”

Those chilling words, “Put her in an institution and forget you ever had her,” horrified my mother. They horrify me. They horrify everyone who hears the story, as well they should! Doctors have no right to predict a baby’s future and advise a new mother to put the baby away. Had Mom followed their recommendation, both of us would have suffered for the rest of our lives.

I praise God for His sovereignty in giving me a mother who refused to give up her dreams for me. Cerebral Palsy definitely has its challenges, I admit, but the Lord has blessed me with a joyful life.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them. ~~Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV)

Thinking about the doctors’ prediction 64 years ago makes me think about present-day doctors who, on the basis of prenatal tests, recommend abortion to women carrying children with potential birth defects. Typically, they reason that such children, in addition to imposing an enormous financial and emotional burden on the family, would needlessly suffer a low quality of life.

But how can anyone accurately predict the future of a baby who is still in the womb, even if genetic testing indicates birth defects? Perhaps a child will be nothing more than a vegetable, but even then, God might have a purpose for that life.  As a matter of fact, He used such a man to bring me to repentance of self-pity.

Usually,  however, children born with birth defects exceed expectations and live full, productive lives. Aborting them simply because of possible disabilities (especially when the extent of those disabilities couldn’t possibly be determined until well into childhood) seems both arrogant and cruel. Using potential disability as a rationale for aborting a child is horrifying to me.

Actually, the rationale for aborting any child is horrifying to me.

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Why I Cover My Head For Church And Why I Don’t Believe All Women Should Cover Their Heads

Photo of me wearing a purple hat

I’m known at my church for my collection of hats. One lady in her 80s looks forward to seeing how I match my hat to my outfit each Sunday. My signature look of wearing hats shifts the attention from my disability, giving me the identity as “the Hat Lady.”

Only a few friends know that I wear hats out of a personal conviction derived from 1 Corinthians 11:

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Throwback Thursday: The Shocking Gospel Message

Originally posted September 11, 2018.

The Gospel and Love

The Gospel, in and of itself, isn’t about our responsibility to love other people.

Does that statement shock you? If so, you’re definitely not alone. Traditionally, the Christian culture equates doing good to others and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves with genuine Christianity. And without argument, Jesus and His apostles taught that the command to love others is second only to the command to love God.

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Twitter Food Fights And Servants Of Christ

Her grin caused her nose to crinkle as she declared, “I love a good fight!” Probably not the wisest comment to make while discipling eight women in a Tuesday morning Bible Study, but we all laughed along with her. We knew her well enough to know she indeed liked a lively debate and took a little pride in her argumentation skills.

At the time, I felt a bit liberated by her offhand remark. Of course, I would have been careful in making any similar proclamation, and I think I’d feel a twinge of conviction if I ever admitted such a thing.

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