Ever Only All For Thee

January is three short days away, and it’s understandable that we’re thinking about the New Year. Whether we make resolutions at this time of year or not, something in us feels an urge to start over — to avoid our past sins and to serve God better.

I applaud such aspirations. We should cultivate desires to serve and honor the Lord at all times of the year. He is worthy of such devotion!  If New Year’s resolutions help you rekindle your love for Him, I most assuredly support you in making them! And if, like me, you approach repentance and sanctification as a daily process, I equally support you.

Either way, we can rejoice that God Himself takes our meager offerings of ourselves and uses those offerings for His glory. We can trust Him to consecrate us for Himself.

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Overlooked Posts From 2019: Funny That I’ve Grown Serious

This time of year, many bloggers share their most popular posts from the past 12 months. Ever the nonconformist, I’ve decided to celebrate the year’s end by featuring favorite articles of mine that my readers seem to have overlooked. Today I’m posting one I wrote back in March.

ThankfulKittyBlack02Back in the 80s and early 90s, my reputation for practical jokes was such that I got blamed even for those I didn’t orchestrate. My personal favorite was in honor of my friend Bob’s birthday.

Bob shared my dislike for cats (which we both greatly exaggerated for the purpose of teasing each other). When his birthday rolled around, I gave his phone number to my friend Terry, whom Bob had never met. At my instruction, Terry told Bob that he was from the SPCA, and wanted to deliver a kitten to him that afternoon.

Bob declined the offer, and wandered out of his room in bewilderment telling his housemate, “I just got the strangest phone call.” Before he could recount what Terry had said, his housemate doubled over with laughter, causing Bob to remember that I’d spent time with that housemate a week earlier. “DebbieLynne!” he shouted knowingly.

I’m still proud of that one!

These days I have fewer opportunities to play practical jokes, largely because I don’t have an accomplice. Also, I have less energy than I did back then. Practical jokes take work!

But, as much as I miss that part of my life, I have changed into a more serious woman. Oh, I still laugh a lot — a robust sense of humor is downright necessary to be married to John, let me tell you! At the same time, the world has gotten much darker since those carefree days. Sins that most people (even non-Christians) considered shameful back then are now so openly celebrated that society shames anyone who dares to speak against them.

Although as Christians we have incalculable joy (which we should express freely and often), Scripture also encourages us to be sober minded. In his letter to Christians living in societies that were hostile to the Gospel, the apostle Peter urged his readers to take life seriously.

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” ~~1 Peter 1:13-16 (ESV)

This isn’t a time for excessive fun and games, dear ladies. The world’s determined descent into open approval of perversion and ghoulish practices, such as homosexuality and abortion, necessarily mean that we face serious persecution here in the United States of America. Consequently,  we don’t have a whole lot of time to openly proclaim the Gospel.

Truthfully, I get annoyed by all the tagging games on Facebook and Twitter. Sure, I use those platforms to update people on our lives, and very occasionally I’ll post a funny comment. But my primary purpose in using social media is to point people to Christ. As America grows darker, I believe Christians need to double down on our efforts to shine the light of Christ.

So as much as I love a good practical joke, I no longer want to be known for playing them. I’d prefer to invest my time and energy making Christ known.

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Yes, Jesus Ate With Sinners — But Do You Understand Why?

Rainbow HeartThe argument goes that,  since Jesus ate with people that the Pharisees regarded as sinners, He accepted them as they were. As a result, He would embrace those whom conservative Christians supposedly reject today. In particular, He would champion members of the LBGTQ community, and shame on conservative Christians for calling their sexual orientation sinful!

Christians who believe that homosexuality and transgenderism require repentance constantly hear that we should follow Jesus rather than following Bible verses that condemn homosexuality and transgenderism. Jesus, they remind us, hung out with tax collectors and prostitutes, giving us an example to follow. When we dare to speak out against sexual sin — especially those sins under the LBGTQ umbrella — we face enormous censure for evidently failing to be Christlike.

But maybe we ought to look at an instance of Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors. In this episode, Jesus has just called Levi (also known as Matthew) to follow Him. Luke 5:28 plainly says, please notice, that Continue reading

Throwback Thursday: We’re Just Like Hollywood

Originally published November 10. 2017:

Mirror Mirror

It’s easy, as Christians, to look down our self-righteous noses at Hollywood, sniffing sanctimoniously that their culture of sexual permissiveness is finally bringing judgment upon them. That assessment is, I believe, true enough, but I question whether or not we ought to gloat over their implosion. Shouldn’t the Weinstein and Spacey scandals cause us to examine our own hearts?

The apostle Paul, after writing that blistering portrayal of rebellious sinners in Romans 1, turns to the religious establishment with penetrating questions. Those of us who identity as Christians might do well to apply these questions to ourselves.

17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” ~~Romans 2:17-24 (ESV)

I know, most of us have been physically faithful to our husbands, but let’s be honest. Haven’t we felt twinges of envy when Darcy pursues Elizabeth Bennett in Pride And Prejudice? Do some of us harbor secret fantasies about male co-workers or men in church? Would we be embarrassed if people saw our online histories?

We must remember that Jesus said a disturbing thing about our secret thoughts:

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. ~~Matthew 5:27-28 (ESV)

And ladies, we know that principle applies to our thoughts about men other than our husbands! The uncomfortable fact is that every one of us has been guilty of sexual sin, even if we never carried our thoughts into physical actions. Let’s make sure, before we click our tongues at “those sinners” in Hollywood,  that we’ve confessed our own sexual sin to the Lord, and that we’ve genuinely repented.

We should respond to Hollywood’s sexual permissiveness with horror and revulsion. But we should also praise the Lord for His grace in pulling us out of those same sins. How kind He’s been to rescue us from ourselves.

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Twitter Just Makes It Easier

ConfrontationI don’t deny the ugliness on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms. Even in the early days of the Internet, chat rooms and forums provided a sense of anonymity that allowed people to say cruel and vicious things without fear of reprisal. Twenty some years later, the nastiness has reached a fever pitch, with no end in sight.

I respect those who withdraw from social media because it causes them or their loved ones to stumble. Such decisions show a rare and remarkable obedience to Scripture.

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 5:29-30 (ESV)

Having said all this, we must resist the temptation to blame social media for the cruelty permeating our culture. Social media simply makes it easier for us to take nasty pot-shots at each other. But let’s be honest: we would take these pot-shots with or Continue reading

Would It Be Trite To Ask Whether Or Not Benny Hinn Has Really Repented?

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The Internet chatter and speculations over Benny Hinn’s wishy-washy repentance from the Prosperity Gospel has pretty much died down at this point, with only a few rumblings here and there. The last rumble I encountered was on the September 30th episode of Too Wretched for Radio with Todd Friel and Phil Johnson.

People generally conclude that Hinn has yet to demonstrate any real repentance. Please, though, read that conclusion with sorrow, joining me Continue reading

Christian Life Is Open Warfare

Coming of age during the Vietnam War era made me resistant to the Bible’s passages on warfare — physical and spiritual. I wanted a peace, love and groovy Christianity led by a peace, love and groovy Jesus. Of course, I encountered the real Jesus, Who wasn’t the least bit interested in conforming to my culturally influenced expectations of Him.

So I learned that following Jesus necessitates warfare against the world, the flesh and the devil. Although I can fight these enemies only by complete reliance on the Lord, I can’t  be a Conscientious Objector. As a Christian, I’m automatically conscripted into His service.

So are each of you.

That being the case, let’s prepare ourselves to stand up for Jesus, even when the battles seem relentless and discouraging. Christ Himself always goes before us, reminding us that He has already secured victory. His ultimate triumph allows us to follow Him into the fray with rejoicing. He will indeed conquer and reign!

Note: next Saturday Justin Peters will be at First Baptist Church Weymouth (where John and I are members) leading a Discernment Conference. Because of this conference, I won’t be posting either a Saturday Sampler or a Sunday Hymn next weekend. I apologize for any inconvenience.

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