Friday Flashback: Opened Eyes And Ageless Words

This post originally appeared in The Outspoken TULIP in February of 2016. Its message continues to be relevant, giving me a desire to repost it today.

Bible Mask framedPsalm 119 extols the Word of God by using pithy couplets to illustrate its various effects on individual believers. I love the psalmist’s way of presenting various facets of Scripture. He reminds me of an expert jeweler carefully appraising a rare and exquisite diamond. Whenever I read this psalm, I gain a deeper appreciation for Scripture, knowing that it’s God’s way of revealing Himself to His people.

Several verses in this psalm have been meaningful to me throughout the years, and I wish I could write about each of them. But one verse stands out as the key, first to the psalm, but also to Bible reading as a whole.

Open my eyes, that I may behold
wondrous things out of your law. ~~Psalm 119:18 (ESV)


The psalmist relied on the Holy Spirit, rather than his own intellectual abilities, to give him a clear understanding of Scripture. Notice his prayer for God to open his eyes, expressing his human inability to fully understand what God says. This dependence on God’s Spirit finds support in Paul’s words to the church in Corinth:

6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. ~~1 Corinthians 2:6-16 (ESV)


When a regenerate believer comes to the Bible, the Holy Spirit helps him understand the text. Notice, however, that the Spirit doesn’t speak apart from or outside of the Word, but rather that He enables us to understand it. The Spirit doesn’t bury truth in the way Gnostic religions (that reserve esoteric knowledge for an elite group) do, but He recognizes that those who reject His authority over them simply won’t “get it.” Submission to Him gives us a willingness to accept His precepts.

Additionally, our dependence on the Spirit doesn’t excuse us from reading God’s Word in context. He won’t isolate a fragment of Scripture to give it a “personal meaning.” His Word may be veiled to those who have no intention of obeying it anyway, yet in it the Lord speaks clearly and says the same thing to all believers from every generation. What He said to the First Century Christians continues into the 21st Century unaltered, applying to each of us equally. No secrets. No private whispers.

Yet without the Spirit’s assistance, we can read Scripture only as another piece of literature. We may find certain portions beautiful and inspiring, but we’ll fall short of letting its words transform our thoughts and lives.

So, as I approach Scripture, I pray for God to open my eyes to the wonders of His Word, so that He can teach me to better love and obey Him. Certainly, I have a responsibility to use my intellect as I study, and I do my best to engage my mind by reading in context, taking notes and consulting commentaries. But as I do these things, I also ask Him to teach me, as He has taught believers through the ages, by opening my spiritual eyes. I trust Him to honor my prayer.

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Saturday Sampler: April 8 — April 14

rose-sampler-silkUsing 1 Corinthians 12, Kristen Wetherell of Unlocking the Bible demonstrates our responsibility to Trust God With the Spiritual Gifts He Gives. She brings us back to the reason He gives those gifts in the first place.

Evangelism intimidates most Christians. Because of this fact, Becoming More Faithful in Evangelism by Zach Putthoff in Parking Space 23 will encourage you through its practical counsel.

In Throwback Thursday ~ Don’t Get Your Theology from the Movies, Michelle Lesley of Discipleship for Christian Women cautions us that a Movie Subscription Service doesn’t necessarily promote sound doctrine. We can’t hear this message enough!

Katie McCoy lists 5 Things A Woman Considering An Abortion Needs To Hear in a post for Biblical Woman. She raises a couple points that I never would have come up with.

The term “evangelical” has a complicated history, as Jesse Johnson of The Cripplegate shows us in I’m old enough to remember when “evangelical” was a bad word. He provides interesting insight into the theological mess in Christian America today.

Few people understand how to pray Biblically. On her blog, Growing 4 Life, Leslie A asks Are You Treating God Like Your Personal Genie? She uses the Lord’s Prayer as a template for true prayer. Interestingly, my pastor is preaching through Luke’s treatment of that same topic.

Let me squeeze in a second post from Michelle Lesley. Safe Spaces and Wearing Our Hearts on Our Sleeves: 6 Ways to Follow Jesus’ Example of Handling Hurt addresses self-centered attitudes that far too many Christians (including myself, I admit with shame) nurture.

Michael Coughlan, in a contribution to Things Above Us, offers some Recent Racist Rhetoric Reflections that balance the discussion. I really like his delineation between the Gospel and its efforts.

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Sometimes Disability Ain’t No Fun

Tulip WaterOver the past few months, John and I have seen the need to let my evening Personal Care Attendant go. The reasons are best unmentioned, especially as I struggle with feelings of unforgiveness, but suffice it to say that we kept her on because we understood her financial situation and didn’t want her to lose any income. Hopefully, I’m not boasting about any magnanimous attitude on our part — we simply wanted to be as obedient to the Lord as possible under frustrating circumstances.

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.  ~~Matthew 7:12 (ESV)

A few weeks ago, however, we realized that keeping her just wasn’t fair to us. The encroachment on my time (her schedule necessitated putting me to bed earlier than I wanted) left little time to do digital art for this blog, and that fact weighed heavily on me. Of course, several other things added to the stress, and we finally worked out a plan with our pastor to let her go as fairly as possible.

Then yesterday she called with an unreasonable request. When we said no, she angrily quit.

Okay, that took a load of stress off of us. But now we need to interview people as well as lining up people to fill in until we hire someone.  Although we had already begun advertising last week, I put an ad on Craigslist last night and have received quadruple the responses than from the PCA Job Board. I know the Lord will provide.

As a result, however, I’ll have less time for blogging. I don’t like cutting back on this area of my life, but right now I see no other choice. I pray you’ll understand,  now that I have the liberty to explain the situation fully, and that you’ll  enjoy my archives until I can finally resume my regular blogging schedule.

John and I would greatly appreciate your prayers during this time of interviewing. Also, please pray for the gal who quit, as I see no evidence that she truly knows  Christ. Above all, please pray for my attitude to honor the Lord through this.  Thank you.

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And Yes, My Heart Got Overwhelmed This Past Week

One of the difficulties inherent in embracing Reformed Theology lies in the tension between knowing the doctrine of God’s sovereignty and maintaining a trusting attitude when serious trials assault you. And if you blog about His sovereignty, you know people are watching to see whether or not you really believe what you so loudly profess.

Well, I’ve been tested quite a bit lately, starting with wheelchair problems that began over two weeks ago. Other issues, in varying degrees of intensity and severity, ensued, and I found myself struggling to trust the Lord to take care of me and John.

To God’s glory, the most threatening matters got resolved yesterday, thanks to a very alert pharmacist who took time to investigate and to my husband’s determination to fiddle with our printer. Other issues remain, including my temperamental wheelchair. New problems seem ready to pounce. And yes, I’ve been feeling quite overwhelmed amid it all.

By God’s providence, my reading plan had me in Psalms during the thickest part of these trials. So many songs my church sang back in the 80s came directly from Psalms, including one from Psalm 61 that resonates with my struggle to trust God’s sovereignty in my circumstances.  This ancient hymn of David set to 20th Century music reminds me that when my heart is overwhelmed, He will be the Rock that is higher than I.

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Saturday Sampler: February 4 — February 10

Doily Sampler Pink the Sequal

More extreme Charismatics should read Question 6: Is it right or ok to command God? by Clint Adams on Faith Contender. It’s a good reminder to approach the Lord with an attitude of humility.

Using Jen Hatmaker’s embrace of LBGTQ issues as an example, Michael J. Krueger of Canon Fodder teaches a helpful lesson in discernment with The Power of De-Conversion Stories: How Jen Hatmaker is Trying to Change Minds About The Bible. His essay demonstrates ways that de-conversion stories undermine Scriptural authority. It’s an important read, particularly as evangelicals increasingly try to reinvent Christianity.

In a guest post for Unlocking the Bible, Jen Oshman reminds us that Your Christian Life Isn’t About You. Well, duh, you say. But before you dismiss her article as being too elementary, check it out. Her process of reasoning just might surprise you.

Jordan Standridge consistently writes outstanding posts for The Cripplegate, and Why You Desperately Need the Holy Spirit perfectly exemplifies this point.

Similar to John Chester, I always believed one ought to dress certain ways for church. His article, Why I Don’t Wear A Tie in Parking Space 23, comes at the question from a much different angle than I do, but he makes pretty much the same conclusions that I’ve made.

Leave it to Leslie A of Growing 4 Life to come up with A Lesson from Football to encourage boldness for Christ. I also enjoy her unabashed celebration of the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory. Leslie, rest assured that not everyone in Boston roots for the Pats.

Justin Bullington, writing for Things Above Us, introduces a new series with his post, 8 Reasons Why The Next Missionary Support Should Be A Cessationist – Part 1. He presents compelling arguments that never would have occurred to me. I can hardly wait for the next installment!

Most of you may know that I am having trouble with my power wheelchair right now. This in turn causes secondary problems. So Michelle Lesley’s post, Basic Training: 5 Ways to Face Tests and Trials Biblically on Discipleship for Christian Women, ministers to me tremendously. If you’re suffering right now, you need to read this piece!

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When They Leave The Truth

Missing Angel

Over the years, I’d watch various friends slip away from solid Biblical teachings, either embracing liberal theology or denying the Lord altogether. Some had been in high leadership positions (a few were even pastors) and appeared to know the Bible well. Many were with me at the Bible College in Wales. I served with others in various ministries.

With each departure from the faith, I’d grieve, wondering how these dear friends could fall into deception. They read the same Bible I read, yet ultimately they turned from its teachings to pursue yoga, homosexuality, Catholicism or even atheism.

But in the past five or six years, I’ve come into contact with the Biblical teaching of false conversion. Of  course, Jesus taught very explicitly about false conversion in His parables, but I had difficulty making the connection.

There are several parables I could cite today, but I’ll confine myself to one of the better known ones.

24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’ ~~Matthew 13:24-30 (ESV)

The grain in this parable represents true Christians, while the weeds represent false converts. Here, the false converts remain with the Church until Judgment Day. Or so it seems.

Since Jesus will rapture the Church before He brings judgment on the world (as Elizabeth Prata explains), perhaps the gathering of weeds refers to the apparent falling away of people who always appeared to be true believers. Admittedly, I haven’t read any commentaries on Matthew 13:24-3, but it fits with 1 John 2:19.Whether soon after conversion or many years later, false converts will be separated from the Church, proving that they never really had saving faith in the first place.

False converts may put on a good act for years, or even decades, but eventually something happens that causes them to prove that their true allegiance is with the world, the flesh and the devil rather than with Christ. It always hurts to see their rejection of the truth, and sometimes the change takes us by surprise.

It’s especially devastating when the false convert has been in ministry with you. I’ve experienced this tragedy more than once, watching people who even held positions of leadership over me turn back to homosexuality, sometimes even denying basic doctrines like hell and salvation only through Jesus Christ.

Knowing that these beloved friends never really had salvation doesn’t take away the pain of seeing them reject the Lord, but at least it clears up a lot of the confusion. I grieve over the directions their lives have taken. I know that they settle for so much less than they could have had in Christ, and  I fear for their souls. But at least I understand that they never knew Him. That knowledge gives me hope that some day they might come to true salvation. What a splendid hope!

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Hallelujah! What A Friend

Today’s hymn reminds me of Christ’s compassion on sinners like  me. He well knows our myriad weaknesses and failings, yet He gently loves us through each one of them because of His goodness.

This hymn particularly ministers to me this weekend. A dear  brother in the Lord from our former church is, unless God intervenes soon (and please pray for a miracle), is losing his battle with cancer. I thought of his wife and children as I listened to the third verse yesterday, and I pray they will cling to Jesus during this heartbreaking time.

In hard times and joyful times, Jesus stands with us, keeping us till the end.

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