Can A Born Again Christian Do Without Church? (I Think You Know My Answer, But Read This Post Anyway)

Come To ChurchThe short answer is no.

Blogging isn’t conducive to short answers, however, and perhaps a longer answer would be more helpful than simply quoting Hebrews 10:25 as a definitive proof text. While that verse certainly carries all the authority necessary to teach that Christians need to meet regularly with their brothers and sisters in the Lord, looking at other passages can help us develop a fuller understanding of why we need to devote ourselves to a local body of believers.

In the interest of full disclosure, let me admit that John and I can’t attend our church during the winter months due to health concerns. And this past Sunday, the RIDE got us there late and picked us up early, completely depriving us of fellowship opportunities. But (and mark this point) we maintain contact with various people in the congregation, keeping accountable to the pastors and elders. We continue serving the church as best we  can while we’re providentially hindered (to borrow a phrase from Michelle Lesley) from making personal appearances and/or encouraging our church family.

Resisting the temptation to get on my soapbox about Read More »

Praying About Twitter?

Head Stick Pics 005Arguably the biggest problem with social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter is the insulation from face-to-face communication. It always has been easier to say things in writing rather than speaking to someone in person; I get that. Twice, I received romantic rejections from men who wrote letters because they lacked the courage to face me. Writing puts us in control by shielding us from the reactions of others.

As a complication, social media provides a layer of anonymity. We may not have ever met that person we fight with on Twitter, and we may never meet her. So we don’t feel all that bothered if we end up Read More »

Many Loves, But Only One Excels

Mom once told me that I was the apple of Daddy’s eye. Because he died as I was turning ten, I have very few memories of him. But most of those memories showcase his love for me. After he died, I always had the security of knowing that he didn’t leave me willingly.

My mother loved me passionately, even during times when I rebelled against her and/or doubted her love. (I wasn’t the most lovable daughter to ever live.) A thousand blog posts could never enumerate all the ways she expressed her love for me. What a powerful example of selflessness and dedication!

Throughout my life I’ve had a variety of friends who loved me deeply. How often they gave me rides, fed me meals and/or filled in when my Personal Care Attendants couldn’t come. And how they encouraged my spiritual growth through long conversations and times of prayer together.

Of course, marriage to John has blessed me with a love that has satisfied a deep longing in me. He fills my hunger for romance, but his love doesn’t limit itself to just that. I don’t believe I could possibly find the words to describe either his inexplicable love for me or my joy in having such a godly husband!

I treasure all these earthly loves, knowing that each one reflects the Lord’s infinite love. Yet these reflections look dim in comparison to the love that sent Him to the cross as my Savior. For all eternity, He will envelope me in a love that I will never understand and will never exhaust. But what a joy to spend that eternity worshiping Him for His love!

 

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Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones, But What You And I Type On Twitter Can Be Devastating

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Someone on Twitter made unkind comments about my physical appearance this past weekend. Of course his remarks hurt a bit. I’ve felt more self-conscious when I’m around people, wondering if how I look offends them as much as it evidently offended the author of those unpleasant tweets.

But for the most part, I understood that the person just wanted to get a rise out of me. He had insulted a number of other Christians on Twitter that day, apparently threatening violence against a few of them. Obviously,  he was merely a stupid kid desperately trying to get attention. Several people reported him. I believe Twitter suspended his account.

His cracks about my appearance didn’t trouble me nearly as much as the juvenile way that people  (including Christians) interact online lately. They troubled me because I’ve been tempted to make personal remarks about certain false teachers that I’ve blogged about or have challenged on Twitter. You’d think that of all people, I’d be the last one to make fun of how someone looks, but the taunts I received Saturday forced me to Read More »

Modeling Christ In Conflict (And Other Neglected Essentials)

IMG_4883Everyone has an opinion. All you have to do is log on to Twitter and you’ll see vicious arguments on everything from Critical Race Theory to pineapple on pizza. (Okay, the pineapple on pizza debate is all in good fun, but it does get somewhat passionate at times.) It’s remarkably easy to get stuck in the quagmire of bickering and nastiness.

Those who stand against doctrinal error and/or ungodly practices become lightning rods on Twitter. As an original signer of the infamous letter to Beth Moore, I can testify that people don’t like it when you tip their sacred cows. Sometimes, of course, the arguments merely expose the irrationality of the critics — after a while you have to walk away because they’re screaming too loudly to listen to your perspective. In such circumstances, the advice of Jesus must prevail:

Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. ~~Matthew 7:6 (ESV)

But I believe this course of action should be a last resort. As we see in the four gospels, Jesus patiently argued with the Pharisees and Sadducees for quite some time. He knew He wouldn’t persuade them of their rebellion against God, but He demonstrated that they rightly deserved judgment.

The Holy Spirit, through the words of the apostle Paul, gives us insight into how to engage our opponents in a Christlike manner:

22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. ~~2 Timothy 3:22-26 (ESV)

Our opponents may be ugly towards us (especially on social media where there’s a certain degree of anonymity), but the Lord commands us to respond kindly. Kindness doesn’t require us to compromise the truth,  but it indeed demands that we argue fairly and with respect. These people are just that — real human beings whose feelings get hurt just as easily as ours do.

Often,  we can’t discern whether or not their questions are sincere. At least not immediately. Therefore, it’s imperative that we answer straightforwardly and respectfully, giving them the benefit of the doubt in hopes that the Lord will lead them to repent of error so that they will come to truth.

Twitter fights indeed can resemble 7th grade food fights. As Christians, however, we must rise above such childish behavior, treating people with dignity. Yes, we still must stand firmly on the Word of God, but we must also obey His commands to love and respect those who oppose us.

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Rejoicing In Wrongdoing Or Rejoicing In Truth?

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Angela and Bill began attending Third Baptist Church about three months before their wedding, informing the young pastor that they had recently returned to Christ. He agreed to officiate the ceremony, charmed by their obvious adoration of each other and their apparent zeal for the Lord. Once married, they joined the church. Within a year, Angela began serving as a deaconess, and a few years later Bill became and elder.

Eventually someone in the church learned that Angela and Bill had met in a church ten years prior to their wedding. Angela was, at that time, married to a man who struggled with alcoholism. Bill’s wife had been in a car accident that left her so physically and cognitively disabled that she needed to live in a nursing home.

At first, the couple merely turned to each other for mutual support.  Predictably, it didn’t take long before they fell in love. Nobody knows whether or not they became physically involved, but at some point Bill suggested that Read More »

Your Attempts To Love Examined Through Scripture ~~ Part 3

1 Co 13

Growing up in the late 60’s, I absolutely loved The Beatles. To this day, I recall their harmonization as they sang, “All You Need Is Love!” At the time, however, I thought of love as a flowery feeling that magically accepted everyone (unless they supported the war in Vietnam, of course). I had no clue that Biblical love demanded dying to self and standing with the Lord for His priorities.

Tuesday I began taking you through 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 to show how people — in this case, discernment bloggers and our critics — can exercise love even while disagreeing. I continued the discussion yesterday. Today I’d like to keep working through this well-known passage, including a clause that probably  would have made The Beatles Read More »

Your Attempts To Love Examined Through Scripture ~~ Part 2

1 Co 13Postmodern culture equates love with unquestioning approval — as long as we unquestionably approve of politically correct people, behaviors or causes. When we question people or views that the majority of people enthusiastically support, we usually receive harsh tongue lashings condemning our unloving positions.

Oh, the irony!

Yesterday we started looking at questions people on opposite sides of a given issue can should ask themselves in the midst of disagreements. Since I’m currently embroiled in heated debates as a discernment blogger, I’ve chosen to illustrate my thoughts by challenging discernment bloggers and our critics to examine how lovingly we deal with conflict. But please don’t imagine that Read More »

Your Attempts To Love Examined Through Scripture ~~ Part 1

1 Co 13In the movie Forest Gump, Forest makes only a couple references to his intellectual disability. When Jenny questions his ability to have a serious relationship with her, he angrily retorts, “I may be a stupid man, Jenny,  but I know what love is!”

Critics of discernment ministry often accuse discernment bloggers of being unloving. Sometimes, sadly, they correctly call us out. And when we fail to operate out of genuine love, we definitely need our brothers and sisters to correct us. In fact, if they really love us, they certainly will be faithful to show us our sin and to call us to repentance. Christian love never allows someone to remain in sin and/or doctrinal error.

To demonstrate my point, let’s walk through the Bible’s most celebrated passage on love, and compare the attributes it lists against Read More »

Reprise: Summer Wardrobes And Stumbling Brothers

Before you put on that cute little sundress that you’ve been dying to wear, consider the points I made in this June 12, 2017 blog post:

Young Couple 02At the outset, let me say that a man bears complete responsibility for lustful thoughts and actions, regardless of how a woman dresses. As you read this blog post, please don’t mischaracterize me as excusing rape, sexual harassment or even lustful fantasies. Men must, in all circumstances, remain pure in their interactions with women, even when a woman dresses provocatively.

Have I made myself clear? If not, close this article right now, and maybe read Scriptures on the importance of sexual purity for both men and women. But if you understand that I by no means condone rape, sexual harassment or lustful fantasies in men, please keep reading. And remember, this blog is directed specifically at women, making it unnecessary (and kind of ridiculous) for me to address men on how to deal with scantily clad women during the summer months.

But ladies, I certainly can talk to you about our responsibility toward our brothers in Christ. The fact that the Lord holds them responsible to control their responses when they see too much skin or silhouette doesn’t negate our responsibility to dress modestly and carry ourselves in a manner that doesn’t call undue attention to our sexuality. Our brothers in Christ deserve the same respect from us that we want from them.

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. ~~Romans 14:13 (ESV)

God created men to respond to visual stimuli, just as He created us to respond to emotional attention. When I was single, I was constantly falling for guys who, out of  compassion for my disability, treated me tenderly. They didn’t intend to communicate romantic interest, but they almost always set my heart fluttering.

I failed to control my fantasies when those brothers gave me emotional attention. I had the responsibility to guard my heart, and I very well knew that I shouldn’t have read things into their actions that they never intended to convey. But they needed a man to teach them how women are wired. They needed to understand that their behavior (although well-meaning) led me into sin.

Similarly, we need to understand that God created men to respond to visual images. Within marriage, they quite appropriately respond when they admire the bodies of their wives. God designed them that way.

But precisely because God designed them to respond to visual stimuli, women bear a responsibility to dress in ways that discourage men (other than their husbands) from looking at us in inappropriate ways. Certainly, I get that some men will look no matter how modestly we dress, and they will have to answer to the Lord for doing so. That said, that same Lord holds us accountable if we deliberately dress for the purpose of attracting attention to our bodies.

I’m not suggesting that we dress like frumps. Rather, I want to remind you to be careful, during these hot summer months, not to expose our body parts in ways that could cause our brothers to stumble. Our wish to stay cool, while important, mustn’t supplant their need to remain pure.

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