Saturday Sampler: April 1 — April 7

Spring 2018 SamplerWhat do you call home? Sometimes (too often, actually) I tell folks that God made me for Boston. John Ellis, in his blog A Day in His Court, writes Rooted: A Christian’s Place to challenge that temporal perspective. But his rejoinder isn’t exactly what you probably think it is.

Starting with an account of John Hooper’s martyrdom under Bloody Mary, Clint Archer discusses Exquisite Tenderness – Being Christlike in the Crucible of Suffering for The Cripplegate, The main body of his post draws from Christ’s attitude during His crucifixion. It’s an uncomfortable post to read, but we certainly need its message as we face the growing threat of persecution in our own century.

In How to Cheat Death, Leslie A of  Growing 4 Life questions the power of a healthy diet. She sees a much more effective way of cheating death.

I remember the frustration of being single, and thus I feel concern for my unmarried sisters in Christ. Lisa Robinson, who blogs at Thinking and Living Theological Thoughts Out Loud, writes On kingdom seeking and stuff: a personal reflection to encourage other single women through the wonderful blessing God is working in her life.

Using Titus 2 as a  template, Amanda Walker shows us Six Habits Younger Women Need Older Women To Teach Them in Biblical Woman. Ladies, all of us can benefit from the reminders Amanda provides.

Although I don’t think I’ll close The Outspoken TULIP’s Facebook page quite yet, Stephen McAlpine’s When Facebook Falls Out of Like With Your Blog gives me something to ponder.  I understand that the growing censorship against Christians and conservatives in social media is minimal compared to the persecution Christians face in other parts of the world, but I believe we should be aware that we have limited time in which to proclaim the Gospel online. Let’s not waste it!

Also in this week’s The Cripplegate, Eric Davis writes Is the Bible Enough for Us? – Sufficiency as part of his series on God’s Word. My regular readers know how strongly I believe that the Bible provides absolutely everything we need to live in accordance with God’s will, so you’ll not be surprised by my recommendation of this post. Davis makes the case for the sufficiency of Scripture much better than I ever have.

Michael Coughlan’s thought-provoking piece, Sad Facts About Racism, adds needed perspective to the difficult conversation we’re having in our nation currently. He regularly contributes posts to Things Above Us.

If you struggle to distinguish between discernment ministry and “discernment ministry,” please read How To Do Online Discernment Ministry, Part 1 and How To Do Online Discernment Ministry, Part 2 by Elizabeth Prata in The End Time. Whether you aspire to write a discernment blog or you need help determining which blogs to trust, Elizabeth’s two essays can help you develop a good criteria for vetting discernment ministries.

At first, Stephen McAlpine’s title,  The Sex Pistols, The Bible and China, put me off. But as we think about the probability of persecution reaching American shores, this article offers encouragement and hope that the suppression of religious liberties might actually serve to further the Gospel!

I certainly have an abundance of links in this edition of Saturday Sampler, but I must include That’s Not How This Works by SharaC of Into the Foolishness of God. The practice she addresses reminds me of Thomas Jefferson, who reportedly took scissors to the parts of the Bible he didn’t like.

Finally, Jeff Robinson writes Jonathan Edwards and Why I am a Cessationist for Founders Ministries to help us evaluate the work of the Holy Spirit in revivals. He imports thoughts from Jonathan Edwards, who preached during the Great Awakening in the 18th Century.

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Saturday Sampler: March 4 – March 10

Rose Sampler 02Biblical Christianity no longer enjoys widespread acceptance, so we can often feel embarrassed about our faith. In response to this problem, Josh Buice of Delivered By Grace writes I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel. Why do those words sound so familiar to me?

Although Joe Carter’s article, Why Teenagers Are Becoming ‘Trans-Curious’, in The Gospel Coalition Blog didn’t surprise me, his discovery may not occur to each of you. Or perhaps it may. At any rate, it highlights the problems with embracing the LBGTQ narrative.

I appreciate Tom at excatholic4christ for writing Paradigm Shift: How Gospel outreach to Catholics became “anti-Catholic bigotry” to chronicle the changed relationship between Catholics and evangelicals over the last 60 years. He raises some interesting points that we really ought to consider.

Short but insightful, Michelle Lesley parodies the beloved children’s hymn by writing Jesus Loves Me: The “Contending for the Faith” Version. Check it out on her Discipleship for Christian Women blog, especially if you enjoy clever writing as much as I do.

In an article for the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Katie McCoy uses a careful study of Hebrew words to answer the question, Did Old Testament Law Force a Woman to Marry Her Rapist? The answer surprised me, and it also reinforced the incredible value of studying God’s Word.

Writing for the Canadian Edition of The Gospel Coalition Blog, Heather Peacock suggests 8 Ways to Welcome People with Disabilities into Your Church. I only wish she had said more about adults with disabilities, but her list is an excellent start.

We all go through tough times, so How to Rejoice When Life is Hard by Pastor Colin Smith of Unlocking the Bible brings us back to an eternal perspective on suffering. In doing so, he necessarily shows us that having an eternal perspective actually enables us to rejoice in our trials. I hope I haven’t given away too much of his post! Read it to see how he fits it all together.

Elizabeth Prata of The End Time has a brilliant essay called Don’t leave the Baby in the manger or the Man of the cross that mustn’t be ignored! If we truly want to know Jesus, we have to embrace all of Him.

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Lord Almighty Or Cosmic Sex Partner?

Sweet FlowerAs I researched Ann Voskamp, I read several quotes in which she described her erotic encounters with God. I’ve decided to neither record those quotes here nor link to documentation containing them because they’re just too graphic (I know at least one of my regular readers is only 17, and shouldn’t be exposed to such imagery). Those who seriously doubt the veracity of my claims can easily do some Google searches — though I recommend it only if you really require evidence.

Frankly, I wish the critiques I read on her hadn’t used direct quotes. A few of them literally nauseated me. I hated her portrayal of the Lord Almighty, the Most Holy ruler of all creation, as if He was a character in a pornographic novel.

Tuesday I wrote about the dangers of regarding Jesus as a Boyfriend or Husband. Typically those fantasies (as perverted as they are) don’t entail a great deal of sexual content. Sadly, Ann Voskamp worsens the perversion with ideas about the Lord that no professing Christian should even consider. As Christians, we must always live in awareness that the Lord, above all else, is holy.

My greatest problem with Ann Voskamp lies in her apparent inability to understand God’s absolute holiness. Yes, there’s a sense in which He demands that we imitate His holiness, but in a more basic respect His holiness differentiates Him from His creation. Thus it differentiates Him from us. Because of His innate distinction from us, the very thought of viewing Him as a sexual partner borders on blasphemy.

The Lord deserves our worship as a holy God rather than our sexual fantasies about Him. We indeed enjoy the intimacy of knowing Him through His Word, but that wonderful intimacy has absolutely nothing to do with sexuality.

Ann Voskamp exemplifies the sensuality that, according to the apostle Peter, characterizes false teachers.

 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. ~~2 Peter 2:1-2 (ESV)

Women are excited by the idea of a love affair with Jesus, Who of course would be a perfect Lover. Women, however,  need the true Lord Jesus Christ, Who reigns in holiness and calls us to worship Him in purity. Let’s reject any teacher who would reduce our holy God to the filthy status of a sex object and instead worship Him in spirit and in truth.

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50 Shades, 40 Days…And None Of The Above (Reprise)

In response to Fifty Shades Freed being released in theaters this past Friday, I’m republishing a post I wrote on February 18, 2016. Please consider its points. And please stay far away from that movie!

2c5ac-swansMost of my readers probably would have no problem with me denouncing 50  Shades Of Grey (book or movie), despite the fact that I’ve never read anything more than  Wikipedia’s synopsis of the book (which was bad enough). In fact, if I had read the book itself, a majority of those same readers would most likely write me off as a hypocrite for writing so much about personal holiness and then reading such pornography.

And such a dismissal of my integrity would definitely be warranted. If I read that sort of book, my readers shouldn’t respect anything that came from my keyboard ever again. I know enough about the book to understand that reading it dishonors the Lord. I really don’t need to read the book (or see the movie) to know that it’s sheer pornography that I must avoid. Obviously. I can’t imagine anybody arguing with me on this point.

So why, when I refuse to read books by Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer and Rick Warren, do professing Christians believe I have no grounds for criticizing them? I have, actually, read some of their blog posts and Twitter feeds, as well as watching their YouTube videos. But that doesn’t satisfy those who ardently support these people. They demand that I invest hours slogging through books that will only reiterate the bad theology that I’ve already seen on their blogs, Twitter feeds and videos.

In other words, I don’t question these teachers before I’ve done my homework. For instance, several years ago, the church John and I attended went through Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Purpose campaign. Both of us initially felt excited about the campaign, especially since the Sunday School Superintendent had asked John to lead the Adult class during those Sundays.

But as we watched the promotional videos leading up to the campaign, we noticed  how frequently Warren wrenched Scripture out of context in order to advance his agenda. Because I have a shameful history of misusing God’s Word in that way (the Lord has graciously brought me to repentance), I picked up on it quickly. In response to my discomfort about him, I researched him and discovered quite a few people who also saw serious flaws in his doctrine. After a few days of  fighting through his book, The Purpose-Driven Life, I could see that Rick Warren simply didn’t respect God’s Word. Therefore, John and I chose not to participate.

Of course, people scolded us for condemning Warren’s teachings without reading his entire book. Yet many of those same people would undoubtedly applaud me for writing against 50 Shades Of Grey, all the while respecting my integrity for not reading it.

If people commend me for pursuing moral and sexual purity, shouldn’t they also appreciate my desire for doctrinal purity? Obviously, I believe they should. The Lord calls for both types of purity.

Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. ~~1 Timothy 4:16 (ESV)

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Black Dresses And Moral Confusion

Old Fashioned GirlExcuse me, but the newfound morality of the secular world (led by Hollywood) confuses me just a bit. Maybe I’ve been a Christian too long, and consequently I tend to reason from Scripture, but it seems to me that the world tries to have moral standards without being confined by moral standards.

If that analysis doesn’t make sense, let me suggest that the liberal elitists don’t make sense.

I just looked at some photos from this year’s Golden Globes Awards. In solidarity with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, most of the female actors indeed wore black gowns. A few of those gowns covered them well, but most were as revealing and suggestive as usual. I suppose the wearers would argue that men shouldn’t look at them as sex objects even when they show skin, and that a man’s unwillingness to control his sexual responses shouldn’t restrict them from dressing as they please.

Before I say anything further, let me be clear that the Lord does indeed hold men completely accountable for their sexual 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. 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 5:27-30 (ESV)

Men who allow their gaze to rest too long on women other than their wives will be guilty of adultery. (Incidentally, the same goes for women who fantasize about men other than their husbands.) Provocative attire by no means alleviates personal responsibility, no matter how high the hem or low the neckline. So please don’t read this post and assume that I think women who dress immodestly deserve to be sexually mistreated. They most assuredly do not!

But neither should they dress in ways that trigger such responses. Any woman who is honest with herself knows when her outfit will make men look. Granted, she may intend that her outfit attract only one specific man. But to suppose that other men won’t also look is highly naive.

Women aren’t that stupid.

And the same God who holds men accountable for their sexual responses also holds women responsible for tempting men to look at them inappropriately.

Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! ~~Matthew 18:7 (ESV)

The black dresses at this year’s Golden Globes Awards sent two contradictory messages. Despite the demands for sexual misconduct to end, Hollywood also demands to flaunt their sexuality without limitation. Never mind that sexual predators are simply taking sexual freedom to its logical conclusion.

Did I begun this article by saying that Hollywood’s duplicity confuses me? As I think more deeply about the matter, perhaps the women on the red carpet at the Golden Globes suffer from more confusion than I do. They need to receive the Gospel, and to understand how to enjoy their sexuality as God intended it to be enjoyed.

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Saturday Sampler: January 21 — January 27

Wings on Hearts

Using godly wisdom, Tim Challies offers Seven Thoughts on the Billy Graham / Mike Pence Rule that make better sense than anything else I’ve read on the topic. He applies both Scripture and common sense application of Scripture artfully, reminding all of us that we are accountable, first and foremost, to the Lord.

Consider reading What Does Your Love for Self Cause You to Do (or Not Do)? in Leslie A’s Growing 4 Life blog. Okay, she says a lot of really uncomfortable things — all of which indicate that she uses Biblical wisdom with precision.

I love Julie Ganschow’s compassion and wisdom in Dear Post Abortive Sister, On the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Appearing in Biblical Counseling for Women, this article empathizes with women who have terminated pregnancies and gently leads them to the forgiveness found in Jesus Christ.

The arguing over whether or not women should be pastors annoys me. So I appreciate Denny Burk for writing A mere complementarian reading of the most contested verse in the evangelical gender debate — 1 Timothy 2:12 to explain the clear meaning of the verse. People, this isn’t rocket science!

In Is It Possible for Christians to Idolize the Bible?, Tom Olson takes on the current attitude that we should focus less on Scripture and more on Jesus. His article, which appears in Unlocking The Bible, addresses this attitude fairly and wisely. Please make time to read it.

Secular media is abundantly reporting the story of Larry Nassar, the doctor for the U.S. Gymnastics Team convicted of molesting over 150 little girls. The media, however, is downplaying the victim impact statement of Rachel Denhollander, the woman who made the first accusation. Why? Most likely because of her stunning presentation of the Gospel. Thankfully, Todd Pruitt of Mortification of  Spin provides both the transcript and the video in his post, Law and Gospel in Judge Aquilina’s Court.

Writing for For The Church, Lara d’Entremont teaches us How to Be Both a Grace-Filled and Discerning Church Member. We sure need to implement her advice in this climate of bickering among self-proclaimed discernment ministries.

Cell phones bug me. So I really love Allen Cagle’s piece, Deep Growth in a Shallow World, which Parking Space 23 features. His counsel isn’t especially ground breaking, but it gets terribly neglected in this digital age.

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Six Questions About Hollywood’s Newfound Moral Outrage

Woman Asking FramedCircumstances got the best of me today, seriously limiting my time for blogging. I’d planned to write some observations on Hollywood’s newfound moral outrage regarding sexual misconduct. Alas, time prohibits me from composing the essay I had in mind.

So instead, let me pose just a few questions that would give you a rough idea of my thoughts on the matter:

  1. Why does an industry so devoted to sexual immorality suddenly decide that it can condemn a practice of sexual sin?
  2. How come Hollywood waited until now to decry something that’s gone on since the medium first started?
  3. What standard does Hollywood use to determine sexual morality?
  4. Will they now start producing films that uphold modesty and morality?
  5. Should moviegoers stay away from sexually explicit entertainment, sending a message that we reject Hollywood’s culture of unrestrained sex?
  6. As Christians, are we surprised by  Hollywood’s obvious hypocrisy?

My questions probably give you a pretty good summary of the blog post I would have presented if I’d had time to write it. Perhaps just this brief list is all I need to offer right now.

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