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 Continue reading

The Local Church: Our Primary Priority For Serving The Lord

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As a Christian blogger, I spend a lot of time ministering to you — readers that I will only meet in heaven. The nature of my disability combined with my abilities as a writer make this ministry the most reasonable way for me to serve the Lord, and I praise Him for using me in this manner. If He draws you closer to Himself through what I write, all glory be to Him! What a privilege to honor Him simply by tapping on a keyboard and filling a computer screen.

I’m thankful for my pastor, elders and church family that affirm my blogging ministry and cheer me on each Sunday. And I hope that, second to honoring Christ, I represent First Baptist Church Weymouth Massachusetts well. The Outspoken TULIP isn’t an official ministry of the church, but I see many people I dearly hope that it serves as a representative of it.

In the past year, the Lord has blessed me with an opportunity to serve Him more directly through a ministry in this church. It’s a behind the scenes job, and very few people even know I do it. The obscurity, quite honestly, is the part I most Continue reading

Jesus Asks Us To Do It

I don’t claim to be gifted in evangelism. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty lousy at doing it face-to-face. I feel comfortable with just about every other command in Scripture, but I see my shortcomings whenever someone reminds me that God has me here for no other reason than to proclaim the Gospel.

And my pastor issues such reminders in almost every Sunday sermon.

But I praise God for these uncomfortable reminders because I live in a world of lost souls who desperately need to hear that Jesus died for those who would believe in Him. Whether hearing the Gospel leads them to saving faith or confirms their hardness against Him, the Lord asks His servants to declare the message. So as long as I live, I face an unfinished task.

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So She’s Almost Admitted It — What Do We Do Now?

Rainbow and CrossA week ago, Beth Moore made a comment during her TBN program, Staying Afloat on the Fellow Ship — Part 4, that subtly offers a clue that she leans toward the idea of homosexual attractions being morally neutral unless they result in sexual activity. I don’t choose to put the actual video in this article (lest it distract you from my main point), but you can watch it here, beginning at the 15.27 mark.

Elizabeth Prata wrote an excellent analysis of the clip in her essay yesterday, which I will also feature on this week’s Saturday Sampler.  Elizabeth decoded Moore’s handy Social Justice buzz words to help clarify that Moore indeed Continue reading

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 Continue reading

Flashback Friday: What’s Wrong With The Box?

Originally published on September 23, 2016.

walker_8th-gradeEveryone wants to “think outside the box” these days. And I do agree with the idea of innovation, creativity and exploration. My husband, for instance, ardently objected to wearing blue jeans until he was in his mid-50’s. His box told him that jeans were for farmers. But one day, our neighbor gave him three pairs of jeans. After I coaxed him to try on a pair, he decided jeans were comfortable! For a few years afterwards he only wore his Dockers to church!

So, I’m not opposed to broadening one’s horizons or trying new things. Having said that, however, I believe the box can be too quickly discarded. I believe, very firmly, that the box, more often than not, provides the framework for innovation, creativity and exploration.

Let me explain my position by taking you back to my verse writing class in college. My professor insisted that, before we could successfully write free verse, we needed to learn to write sonnets. Sonnets are very restrictive in their form. They must be exactly 14 lines of iambic pentameter, following one of two specific rhyme schemes. The first quatrain presents the main idea, generally in terms of a metaphor. The next quatrain adds to the metaphor, giving it a bit more complexity and texture. And then, the all-important third quatrain adds a twist (or, as my professor put it, “creates a problem”). The final couplet (not a quatrain this time) both resolves the conflict and gives the reader a new image.

To defend sonnet-writing to that 1977 class of  young adults still enamored with the free-spirited ideals of Woodstock, Betty Freidan’s bra-burning and the questioning of authority , my professor kept reminding us that “Freedom is in the form.” To my surprise, he was right!  As I practiced taming my thoughts into iambic pentameter, using the strict rhyme scheme to select vibrant words, and using the quadrants to unfold my metaphors, I enjoyed watching my sonnets come alive. The form, rather than oppressing my creativity, generated it. I saw my writing soar with a freshness that I’d never seen in the trendy  free verse I’d been producing since high school.

I often carry my professor’s dictum, “Freedom is in the form,” into my relationship with Christ. In contrast to people who live life as “free spirits” who have no concrete direction, I find solid guidance through the teachings of Scripture. Admittedly I do so very imperfectly (just as I still write sonnets very imperfectly) but I’m so thankful that God gives me a framework for my decisions, my relationships and my morals. The Lord, through His written Word, provides the structure that enables me to soar into worship.

King David, in Psalm 119, demonstrated that God’s Law provides wonderful liberty for those who abide in its principles.

25 My soul clings to the dust;
    give me life according to your word!
26 When I told of my ways, you answered me;
    teach me your statutes!
27 Make me understand the way of your precepts,
    and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
28 My soul melts away for sorrow;
    strengthen me according to your word!
29 Put false ways far from me
    and graciously teach me your law!
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
    I set your rules before me.
31 I cling to your testimonies, O Lord;
    let me not be put to shame!
32 I will run in the way of your commandments
    when you enlarge my heart! ~~Psalm 119:25-32 (ESV)

That image of running in the way of His commandments reminds me of the walker I had in childhood that allowed me to run! I needed to be in leg braces, and to be strapped into the structure (pictured above), but once in it, I enjoyed running all over the playground. To this day, I remember the exhilarating feeling of freedom that running gave me. When I ran, I appreciated the walker. Rather than regarding it as an encumbrance, I took tremendous joy in my emancipation.

Obedience to God’s Word emancipates Christians from sin, setting us free to serve the Lord with abandon! The structure, which the world so often characterizes as restrictive, actually allows us to run like children. When I reject the supposed freedom to rebel against God’s commands, I enjoy the same exhilaration that so thrilled me when I ran in that walker.

It sounds so cool to “think outside the box,” but perhaps we can’t really think clearly  outside the box of Scripture. As I see life, the proverbial box gives me the framework so essential to innovation, creativity and exploration. Whether I’m writing, remembering my walker or working out my Christian faith, I’m grateful for the structure. Sometimes, I’ll “think outside the box,” but I’m so delighted to actually have that beautiful box!

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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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