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

Seeking Our Comfort Or God’s Glory?

Branch

Why do we ask God to deliver us from our besetting sins? Do we envision freedom from those bondages as a means of being happier or more successful? Will deliverance advance our positions in church or allow us to enjoy happier marriages? Will we be more comfortable if the Lord takes away a sin problem that seems to dominate us?

I began seriously praying about my anger issues during my first engagement. I reasoned, quite correctly, that I would damage a marriage if I didn’t learn to control my temper. That engagement ended, but the Lord soon brought John into my life. Again I begged Him to take away my anger so that I could be a good wife. So that I wouldn’t cause John to have a stroke. So that God would bless me. So that I would be happy.

So that I would be happy.

Isn’t that usually our motivation for asking our Father to deal with our sin? (I’m writing to myself now.) If we’re honest, we’ll admit that nine times out of ten, we indeed pray for our own repentance because we know we’ll feel better without that sin.

But what does Scripture say?

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. ~~James 4:3 (ESV)

Golly, we say, we didn’t think that asking our Father to take away a sinful pattern had anything to do with selflessness! After all, doesn’t God want us to repent? Doesn’t He call us to holiness?

As a matter of fact, the Lord indeed calls His people to be holy. He cannot tolerate sin, so He wants those who call themselves His children to renounce their sins and live in holiness. Our personal holiness does, as a by-product, benefit us, often bring us tremendous joy. Certainly, we can praise God for the blessings that frequently accompany our repentance and obedience.

Those blessings mustn’t distract us from the ultimate purpose of personal holiness, however. God liberates us from sin for His sake, not ours.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. ~~1 Peter 2:9-10 (ESV)

The Lord frees us from our besetting sins so that we might bring honor and glory to Him. As profoundly as we might benefit from His grace and mercy, He extends His grace and mercy to bring glory to Himself. He gives us the privilege of bringing Him honor and glory through our deliverance from sin.

I’m not sure that most of us think about His honor and glory when we pray to overcome whatever sin hampers us. And I wonder if our neglect of His honor and glory could be a reason (maybe even a big reason) that He allows us to have such prolonged battles with sin. I could be wrong on this point, but I believe I am correct in asserting that His glory is the only real reason for us to seek freedom from sin.

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Throwback Thursday: Transforming America

Originally published on July 3, 2017:

Pray For AmericaOur country has recently passed the second anniversary of the Obergefell decision legalizing same sex marriage. Truthfully, even though I knew that the decision would have disastrous ramifications for Bible-believing Christians, I hadn’t expected those ramifications to appear so quickly. Thankfully, religious liberties haven’t completely disappeared yet, but most of us feel the pressure to affirm homosexuality as a good thing. Popular evangelical celebrities like Jen Hatmaker haven even declared boldly that God considers same sex marriages to be holy.

But, while the growing pressure to enthusiastically embrace the LBGTQ most assuredly endangers those of us who stand firmly on Scripture’s pattern for human sexuality, I don’t   believe it profits us to spend a lot of time and effort trying to reclaim America as a Christian nation. I am, frankly, increasingly doubtful that it ever truly was one.

Rather, it seems more appropriate for believers to understand that our primary citizenship is in heaven, making us aliens in terms of this world. If we are to be shocked that western culture now approves of homosexuality, perhaps we should be shocked that it took this long for such a shift to happen. After all, the world is simply acting like the rebellious world it is.

I’m by no means suggesting that Christians acquiesce to LBGTQ ideology, so please don’t misinterpret me as saying, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!” That posture may make people like Jen Hatmaker feel good about themselves, but true Christians will hold fast to God’s standards. We’ll remember the words our Lord Himself spoke:

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ ~~John 15:18-25 (ESV)

For a while, for reasons I don’t at all comprehend, western society tolerated Biblical Christianity (or at least a semblance of it) for the past 500 years. Perhaps we’ve gotten used to being socially acceptable,  therefore forgetting that we can’t expect the world to line up with godly values. Jesus never promised that we could transform America into a land that honors Him. Instead, the Obergefell decision should transform Christians into a people who understand that this world is not our home.

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Praising God For Breaking My Heart

John DrawingYesterday I read several chapters in Proverbs, carefully noticing all the verses on the sinfulness of anger and being a quarrelsome wife. I know all too well how weak I am in both areas. So I thought I approached them with humility, acknowledging my failures to honor the Lord by controlling my temper and respecting John.

Yeah,  well.  The wheelchair vendor put John in his new chair a few hours after I read those Scriptures. The new chair has multiple problems — far too many to enumerate here — that seriously impact John’s health. We’re talking life-threatening issues.

To make matters worse, his current wheelchair Continue reading

All The Ransomed Church Of God

None for whom Jesus died will miss out on heaven. Isn’t that a beautiful thought? His blood covers the sins of everyone who believes in Him, and it won’t lose its effect until every last person elected for salvation receives Him.

That assurance encourages me to keep praying for family and friends who don’t know Christ, as well as to proclaim the Gospel whenever I have opportunity. The Lord won’t return until He has claimed every one of His own. Since He has ordained that the Holy Spirit bring people to faith through the preaching of His Word, we must be diligent to evangelize the world.

Additionally, knowing that the blood of Jesus won’t lose its power until He saves everyone destined for His kingdom offers comfort. No one will believe after it’s too late. The blood of Jesus is inexhaustible as far as His own are concerned, enabling us to trust that He won’t leave anything undone.

How can we fail to praise such a magnificent Savior?

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What’s The Purpose Of Discernment?

Discernment ScrollThis past Sunday I asked people on Facebook and Twitter what they believe the purpose of discernment is. Happily, several people responded, and all of them had excellent answers.

Most respondents emphasized that discernment enables us to distinguish between truth and error. Several elaborated that discernment protects the Church from false teaching. I wholeheartedly agree, and I praise God for giving us such a wonderful shield against deception. So many theological aberrations compete for our attention that discernment cannot be optional.

Two friends delighted me by going a bit deeper. One noted that discernment was, at the bottom line, for God’s glory. Her answer got to the very heart of what I wanted to say in this essay. If we consider discernment as having its purpose apart from glorifying Him, we make the disastrous mistake of once again placing ourselves in the center of God’s purposes.

The other friend expanded on the first friend’s answer by citing Scripture:

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. ~~Philippians 1:9-11 (ESV)

He added that discernment helps us serve and love God better. My heart definitely did a happy dance when I read his comment because he so closely resembled my daily prayer concerning discernment.

As I come to my time in God’s Word each day, I ask the Lord to increase my discernment through its doctrines. But immediately I sense impure motives for that prayer request. I feel a strong temptation to make the request so that I can excel as a discernment blogger. Confessing that horridly self-serving motive, I discipline myself to instead ask for discernment in order that I might worship Him in spirit and in truth.

It appears to me that people frequently label themselves as discernment bloggers so that they can establish their authority. Not all commit this sin, I realize, but I’d hazard a guess that even those who don’t commit it experience the temptation, at least occasionally. If we pretend not to feel that pull, we put ourselves in tremendous danger.

Discernment is necessary in navigating the Christian life, especially with so much false teaching creeping into even the best churches. By all means, pray to be discerning! But please make sure you ultimately seek this attribute for God’s glory rather than your own purposes.

 

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The Best Method For Vetting Discernment Bloggers

IMG_1892Imagine believers testing the teachings of the apostle Paul! To Bible-believing Christians, the very thought of scrutinizing him seems preposterous! We now understand that several of his letters rightfully belong in the Canon of Scripture. In the early days of his ministry, however, his apostolic authority hadn’t yet been recognized, so Jewish believers had to find a way of authenticating his doctrine.

10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. ~~Acts 17:10-12 (ESV)

Discernment bloggers love quoting verse 11. They want us to use the Word of God as a standard for determining whether or not someone is a false teacher. Obviously, I wholeheartedly agree with measuring someone’s ministry against Scripture’s teachings the way those noble Bereans did — that’s one of the main reasons I constantly encourage you to read your Bibles and use sound methods of interpretation.

Being good Bereans also requires that we Continue reading