Category Archives: Seeker-Sensitive

What You Win Them With

Love and truthOn a recent episode of The Dividing Line, James White quoted the maxim, “What you win them with is what you win them to.” His, point was that churches using entertainment as a means of evangelism would necessarily then have to continually provide entertainment in order to satisfy their new converts. Otherwise they’d be rightfully accused of bait-and-switch tactics.

Youth ministry, sadly, has become dependent on entertaining young people, rationalizing that teenagers won’t come to meetings that consist solely of Bible Study and singing. Bible Studies must be kept short, youth leaders insist, because teenagers have short attention spans.

Yet these same kids are expected to sit attentively through five periods of classroom instruction each day. Granted, some of their teachers feel obligated to crack jokes constantly to hold their interest, but most teachers don’t. The kids go to school to learn math, literature, history and science, not to play. Their school experience proves that they are perfectly capable of participating in a Bible Study without requiring additional incentives.

Let me say this clearly.  If they’re not interested in the Bible without fun and games, they’re not interested in the Bible. You can have the most outrageous activities you want, but please realize that a steady diet of entertainment does absolutely nothing to attract them to the Lord. Kids, like anybody else, come to Christ by hearing His Word.

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. ~~Romans 10:14-17 (ESV)

Look, I’m not against an occasional pizza party or movie night. I like having fun as much as the next gal. But let’s give adolescents the benefit of the doubt by treating them as young adults who can, by the grace of God, sit through a Bible Study without needing some auxiliary method to lure them in. As James White said, “What you win them with is what you win them to.”

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Saturday Sampler: March 26 — April 1

Butterfly SamplerJohn Ellis’ piece in PJ Media, Teenage Boy Sues School Over Transgender Bathrooms is a political article rather than a specifically Christian one, but it serves as a reminder that our culture has chosen a path that degrades most of society. Christians must prepare to be marginalized as a new version of “morality” takes over.

Continuing her series on discernment at Growing 4 Life, Leslie A. writes Learn to Discern: Acknowledging the War. Find out how (and why) spiritual warfare fits into using discernment properly.

Does the Lord care how we worship Him? Rebekah Womble, blogging at Wise In His Eyes, believes He does. Her blog post, The Freedom of Worshipping God’s Way (she spelled worshiping with two p’s, not me), helps us understand why we must avoid self-styled approaches to worshiping a holy God.

Why Bargain With God?, a post that Kennedy Mathis wrote for Biblical Woman, brings back memories of my struggles as a single woman. But the principle she’s learned really applies  to any struggle Christians have.

As you can tell, I appreciate the series on cessationism that Jordan Standridge has been doing for The Cripplegate this month. His latest article, Three Reasons God is a Cessationist, employs arguments I’ve heard before, but they’re not common arguments. Please, if you have any Charismatic or continualist leanings, consider the points he makes.

Cameras Buettel, writing for the Grace To You Blog, says You Might Be A Pharisee If… This essay helps us examine ourselves (and others) more effectively to make sure we remain faithful to the Bible.

Jennifer of One Hired Late In The Day writes Same Bible, different beliefs, showing how the Lord helped her work though a perplexing question. And while you’re on her website, please check out Deconstructing Absurdity: a discernment lesson to watch her tackle a recent Tweet by Rick Warren.

R.C. Sproul posts TULIP and Reformed Theology: Unconditional Election on the Ligonier blog. Appealing to Scripture, he both explains the doctrine of election and deals with the argument that election is unjust.

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Perspectives In Titus: Holding Fast To Trustworthy Doctrine

Titus 1 v 9As we move along in our study of Paul’s letter to Titus, we find that Titus 1:9 really needs to be treated in its own blog post. Please don’t misunderstand me as saying that it stands in isolation from its context. Rather, there’s simply too much in it to discuss it in the same essay with verses 5-8, and verse 10 begins a new paragraph.

As always, let’s look at verse 9 in context, just to remind ourselves of Paul’s flow of thought.

5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. ~~Titus 1:5-9 (ESV)

Paul has been instructing Titus on the qualifications of an elder, and has just outlined the type of character a man must have in order to assume this office. Now he changes gears, ever so slightly, to a prospective elder’s ability to handle God’s Word.

An elder, Paul insists, must hold firm to God’s Word, not compromising it to accommodate the ideas of others. He needs an undivided loyalty to Christ and His teaching (see Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13). Even though Paul here is talking about much more than the tension between God and money, the principle of single hearted devotion still applies. Barnes elaborates on this concept by commenting:

This means that he is to hold this fast, in opposition to one who would wrest it away, and in opposition to all false teachers, and to all systems of false philosophy. He must be a man who is firm in his belief of the doctrines of the Christian faith, and a man who can be relied on to maintain and defend those doctrines in all circumstances.

So an elder must hold firm to Scripture. This exhortation brings us to the nature of Scripture, which makes it worthy of holding firmly. Paul calls God’s Word trustworthy. Elders, and Christians in general, can absolutely rely on it!

I want you to notice the phrase, “the trustworthy word as taught.” Vincent’s Word Studies  tells us that this phrase, “as taught” literally means “according to the teaching” and therefore communicates the idea of agreement with the teaching of the apostles. Embellishments to it, such as those Paul alludes to in verse 14, dilute it, turning people away from its pure principles.

An elder must hold firm to God’s Word  for the purpose of teaching his people sound doctrine. He doesn’t teach vague ideas or worldly wisdom, but the clear teachings of Scripture. He avoids seeker-sensitive models that incorporate popular ideas of the   world into the Gospel.

He also must hold firm to God’s Word  in order to rebuke those who contradict it. In context, Paul apparently means false teachers. We’ll see the application of this clause next Monday as we look at the group of false teachers who disrupted the church in Crete.

Elders aren’t the only Christians who need to hold firm to God’s Word, however. You and I also bear a responsibility to cling tenaciously to the sound doctrine of the Bible, teaching it to our children and to other women. For that reason Titus 1:9 applies to each of us. We can join our elders in holding firmly to the trustworthy Word of God, confident that it will never fail.

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Silly Putty Or Hard Truth?

Distorted BibleReading my blog, I suppose, might lead readers to think I dislike Catholics, Charismatics, Gay Christians, those who believe in Christian psychology and people in seeker-sensitive churches. Okay, I understand how readers might reach such conclusions. I’ll even admit to feeling a certain level of anger toward leaders who promote such distortions of Christianity. Truth shouldn’t be treated as a plaything, manipulated to suit our expectations, and it upsets me to see it stretched and pulled like Silly Putty.

But most of the people who fall victim to these theological aberrations honestly believe they follow the Lord. Some are genuine Christians, as I was. Yes, they need correction. So did I. But those who really want to know the truth will listen to correction and go to Scripture in an attitude of prayer. Consider the apostle John’s remarks, referring to the apostolic teaching preserved in the New Testament.

They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. ~~1 John 4:5-6 (ESV) 

I see a terrible trend among evangelicals to make compromises with various worldly philosophies, and those compromises distress me. Sometimes my frustration boils over, and I fail to temper my zeal for truth with compassion and understanding. I forget where I’ve come from in my own walk with the Lord, or else I get so annoyed with the deceptions I once believed that I lose sight of the fact that they ensnare precious children of God who desperately need proper teaching.

So, to be clear: I hate teachings that distort God’s Word. I hate teachings that make salvation dependent on human effort, and I hate teachings that deny God’s authority to determine what behaviors constitute sin. I hate teachings that mix Biblical principles with worldly philosophies. I hate these things because I love the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word enough to want people to conform to His Truth.

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Sturday Sampler: January 8– January 14

Tulip Sampler 01Anxiety is (sigh!) yet another sin I continue to battle. So I appreciate Clint Archer for writing Don’t Worry, Be Godly — Pt 1 for The Cripplegate this week. Archer adds a touch of whimsy to this difficult topic, and he offers a helpful working definition of anxiety. I can’t wait for next Monday’s post in this series.

Denny Burk’s article, “I Got Gay Married. I Got Gay Divorced. I Regret Both” examines Meridith Maran’s New York Times article by the same title. Interesting reading. Hopefully it will educate those who believe same sex marriage is simply a mirror of traditional marriage.

I write incessantly about reading Bible verses in their proper context, and I expect to do so for quite some time. The Beautiful Art of Biblical Knowledge that Autumn Beck authors for She Disciples uses a frequently quoted (and usually misapplied) verse to teach us how context leads us to the correct interpretation of God’s Word.

Leave it to Jen of One Hired Late In The Day. She’s Finding Encouragement From That Which Discourages. Perhaps her essay will inspire you to do the same. I also highly recommend her article, Let’s Talk About Evangelism, which contrasts Biblical  evangelism with the Church Growth Movement.

Sometimes I wonder if I like Rebekah Womble’s blog, Wise In His Eyes, simply because she shares my mom’s maiden name. But posts like Restless: Because You Were Made For More, in which she reviews Jenny Allen’s book of the same name, assures me that Rebekah deserves to be read because of her Scriptural insight and her fair approach to analyzing what she reads. Jenny Allen’s book probably isn’t worth your time, but Rebekah’s blog definitely is!

Stephen Altroggie of The Blazing Center gives us 5 Reasons To Read The Bible When You Feel Absolutely Nothing. Since I’m presently reading Leviticus without much excitement, I find Altroggie’s blog post refreshingly encouraging. I also agree with his assessment.

Elizabeth Prata often receives questions from readers of her blog, The End Time. She answers a particularly intriguing inquiry with her post, Mail Call 4: Why do some women discern false teachers and others accept false teachers? Elizabeth gives a basic reply that, sorry to say, we usually overlook.

My many years in seeker-sensitive churches cause me to cheer Owen Strachan’s article, The Hot ‘New’ Church Growth Method, in the Gospel Coalition Blog. Please, seeker-sensitive proponents, people like me have been trying to tell you this very thing for quite some time!

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Saturday Sampler: December 11–December 17

christmas-sampler

Certainly we should welcome millennials into our churches, appreciating their fresh perspectives and encouraging them to develop their gifts. But in A Response to 12 Reasons Millennials Are Over Church, Leslie A. of Growing 4 Life reminds us that we must never accommodate the next generation at the expense of church integrity. I’ve watched a church make that mistake. It’s terribly sad.

With humor and Biblical accuracy, Peggy Overstreet of GladnessInYourPresence gives us a discernment lesson with her post, FAKE NEWS, MR. ROGERS AND ITCHING EARS. Enjoy!

Gulp! Michelle Lesley is right in her article, Sharing Christ with the Muslim Immigrant Next Door, and my flesh really doesn’t like the truth she conveys. But, as I said, she’s telling the truth, and many of us (including me) need to hear her message.

Okay, after being thoroughly convicted by Michelle’s post, ONE MOVE LEFT! by Jian Ming Zhong of Christian Reformed Ink Archives should encourage us that God always has something more to do.

In  his blog post entitled Sorrow, Depression, & the Holidays, Eric Davis of The Cripplegate offers a compassionate and Scriptural examination of depression. At this time of year, many people feel their emotional struggles with heightened intensity, making Davis’ message particularly important and encouraging.

In a guest post for Satisfaction Through Christ, Rachel shows us that Normalizing Sin results as we surrender our minds to certain genres in popular media. She also suggests ways to keep ourselves sensitive to sin.

Writing for ParkingSpace23, Jason Vaughn challenges Christians who oppose any mention of Santa Claus with his Reprise: Will Santa Make you a Bad Parent? Taking a very different position from the  blog post by Kari Dent that I included in last Saturday’s Sampler, Vaughn joins her in remembering the importance of Christian liberty. I think he presents an interesting and valuable perspective.

Here’s a healthy New Year’s challenge: In Knowable Word, Peter Krol writes Dear Church: I Dare You to Trust Your Bible This Year.

In observation of Christmas Eve, I’ll skip next week’s edition of Saturday Sampler. John and I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year full of Christ’s richest blessings. Thank you for reading and supporting The Outspoken TULIP.

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Worship Focuses On The Lord

Modern praise music doesn’t bother me in terms of style, but the content all to often focuses on us rather than exalting the Lord Jesus Christ. For that reason, I gravitate more and more towards hymns.  Like this one. Perhaps you’ll be drawn into worship by its magnificent lyrics.

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