Intimacy With God May Be Less Complicated Than You Think

Pensive Woman02As my girlfriends and I approached our 30th birthdays, panic and despair set in. We watched other women in the church take wedding vows while we spent lonely Saturday nights without dates. We joked sardonically that we differed from trash because trash gets taken out once a week. (The men in the church failed to appreciate our humor.)

One friend met regularly with me for a while to talk and pray about coping with our singleness. She began encouraging me to develop intimacy with the Lord, explaining only that she sometimes fantasized about Him. I don’t know if those fantasies were romantic — and I don’t think I want to know. At the time, however, I desperately wanted Him to remove the pain and loneliness I felt.

My friend’s exhortations to cultivate intimacy with God left me with the impression that such intimacy came through mystical experiences. I assumed that I would feel His presence in a way that would obliterate my desire for a husband. Obviously, my motives for wanting intimacy with Him were entirely selfish.

Yet the Lord does call Christians to a type of intimacy with Him that has nothing to do with our romantic desires. Even better,  we don’t have to search for spiritual experiences in order to enjoy this intimacy. All we have to do is Continue reading

Throwback Thursday: Opened Too Soon

Originally posted December 15, 2015.

64dd7-christmasgiftIt seemed, to my ten-year-old mind, very reasonable. As I gazed longingly at the cheerful array of packages, all wrapped in decorative red and green paper, I wondered what treasures awaited me. I wasn’t quite sure Mommy had been altogether justified in commanding me to wait. And, after all, it was Christmas Eve, so what difference would it really make if I opened my presents early? I mean, they really were addressed to me!

So, I scooted over to the Christmas tree, and found a present addressed to me from one of the high school girls that volunteered at the school for “orthopedically handicapped” children that I attended. It was a flat package, leading me to conclude that it as a more grown-up gift. The prospect of a grown-up gift reinforced the idea that I was old enough to determine when to open Christmas gifts!

I ripped the paper eagerly, unveiling Continue reading

Throwback Thursday: How Not To Subdue Pink Elephants

Originally posted November 1, 2017:

Pink Elephant

Funny how growing in the Lord and getting Biblical teaching changes the way one views things. A little over twenty years ago I left my position as correspondence counselor for an ex-gay ministry, largely because of my personal circumstances. Sure, a few things about the ministry bothered me a bit, but for the most part I believed in what they did. I accepted no criticism of them from any quarter.

To be clear, I still believe homosexuality violates God’s intent for sexuality. Those who engage in it, even if their engagement never extends beyond fantasy, stand guilty of sin. Furthermore I still believe homosexuality can, like every other sin, be forgiven and forsaken through the blood of Jesus Christ.

 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ~~1 Corinthians 6:11 (ESV)

Over the passage of twenty years, however, I’ve come to question the wisdom of building an entire ministry around one specific sin rather than around the Lord. When people meet together, and especially when they live together in a residential program, should we really be surprised when they fall back into the very sin that they’re seeking to escape?

A friend once counseled me, when I was single and struggling with desires for marriage, that simply telling myself not to think about marriage would invariably backfire. “It’s like trying not to think about pink elephants,” she said. “The harder you try not to think about pink elephants, the more you think about them.” She was right. Try not to think about pink elephants, and see what happens.

The answer to controlling my fantasies wasn’t in thinking about how sinful my fantasies were. Nor was it in gathering with other single women and talking about the struggles to control our desires for marriage. We thought praying together and asking the Lord for psychological insight into the root causes for our desires would eventually free us from our bondage to romantic fantasies.

We ignored a simple principle from Scripture.

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.~~Galatians 5:16-17 (ESV)

Walking by the Spirit means nothing other than filling our minds with God’s Word and ordering our lives in conformity with His teaching. It does require discipline, yes, and admittedly self-denial causes emotional pain. But the more we delight in the Lord, the less we want things that offend Him. Walking by the Spirit isn’t easy,  but it is certainly simple.

The Bible never advises us to surround ourselves with people who struggle with the same sin we do. Instead, it encourages us to look to Christ with a commitment to glorify Him.  In so doing, we really do experience victory over whatever pink elephants we battle.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

So She’s Almost Admitted It — What Do We Do Now?

Rainbow and CrossA week ago, Beth Moore made a comment during her TBN program, Staying Afloat on the Fellow Ship — Part 4, that subtly offers a clue that she leans toward the idea of homosexual attractions being morally neutral unless they result in sexual activity. I don’t choose to put the actual video in this article (lest it distract you from my main point), but you can watch it here, beginning at the 15.27 mark.

Elizabeth Prata wrote an excellent analysis of the clip in her essay yesterday, which I will also feature on this week’s Saturday Sampler.  Elizabeth decoded Moore’s handy Social Justice buzz words to help clarify that Moore indeed Continue reading

Loving Jesus Throughout The Stages Of Life

As a teenager overjoyed that my sin was forgiven, I loved Jesus. I had seen sin’s stranglehold on my life, and mourned over the prospect of being eternally separated from God. When I heard that Jesus had taken my punishment on the cross, I found it impossible to keep from loving Him.

In my 20’s and 30’s, life disappointed me. Neither marriage nor career materialized, and cherished dreams of all sorts shattered around me. Yet Jesus always brought me back to Himself, and I found it impossible to keep from loving Him.

In middle age, the Lord answered my longings for a husband. Marriage to John exceeded my hopes and filled me with happiness. In it all, I knew Who brought about this wonderful marriage, so I found it impossible to keep from loving Him.

I’ve barely crossed the threshold into old age. I’m closer to eternity than I ever have been, and so many things that I enjoyed in younger years now escape me. Sometimes I miss those things. But then I realize how soon Jesus will take me to be with Him forever, and I find it impossible to keep from loving Him.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Dying To Self Actually Means Dying To Self

Untitled-1We Evangelicals often get caught up in the narcissism that characterizes this age. Personally, I believe the absorption of psychology into the visible church has a lot to do with this epidemic. But whatever causes this selfishness,  too many of us succumb to it. Including yours truly.

I remember avoiding weddings early in my battle with singleness (I didn’t marry John until I was almost 49). For a couple years in my mid-twenties, I’d explain to my girlfriends that attending their weddings would just be too crushing for me.

Usually my girlfriends accepted my decision without complaint. Finally, however, one had the guts to confront me with my selfishness. She wept with me over my romantic disappointment, but now she very much wanted me to rejoice with her. The man who had broken my heart would also be there, she admitted, but having me there meant a lot to her.

I went. I saw the man who had broken my heart, but then I actually enjoyed myself! More importantly, I Continue reading

Saturday Sampler: March 24 — March 30

Tulip Sampler

Each Sunday, Phil Johnson features a devotional or sermon excerpt by Charles Spurgeon on the Pyromaniacs blog. This week’s quotation tells us How to meet the evils of this age. It always amazes me that things Spurgeon wrote over 100 years ago apply so accurately to 21st Century evangelicals.

Do you know The Early Symptoms of Spiritual Danger? Writing for the Ligonier blog, Sinclair Ferguson discusses apostasy, using a passage in Hebrews 6 to explores how someone becomes an apostate.

In Christians and Coming Out Redux, John Ellis of adayinhiscourt uses personal experience to illustrate the world’s wholesale rejection of Christian values. If you have any doubt that non-Christians lack tolerance for Bible-believing Christians, I urge you to consider this article.

For years, I’ve wondered how progressives would respond when the Muslims they supported refused to support LBGTQIA concerns. Stephen McAlpine sees this unraveling of causes beginning, and writes about it in Secularism’s (Misplaced) Confidence. Maybe I’m not so crazy after all.

Michelle Lesley encourages us, using Scripture as authority, not to be Frightened by Freedom.

I appreciate the candor of Andrea Burke in The One Life Dream That Makes a Girl Blush, featured in For The Church. The post takes me back to my days as a single woman and the guilt I felt for wanting to be married.

Drawing from 1 Samuel 4:1-11, Elizabeth Prata of The End Time shows us that “The more things change, the more they stay the same” rings true. This Old Testament episode should sober us as we consider how we approach life.

It’s a Christian’s greatest fear.  And Mike Ratliff addresses that fear with his article in Possessing the Treasure entitled What is Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? If you genuinely love the Lord, you’ll find this short Bible Study wonderfully reassuring.

Let’s have a second one from Elizabeth Prata, shall we? “God Told Me:” About those whispers to the heart evaluates claims that God speaks to people personally. It distresses me that we still need instruction on this matter. Be sure to watch the videos by Gabe Hughes and Mike Abendroth that Elizabeth includes in her post.

SharaC, the purveyor of Into the Foolishness of God, challenges the popular notion that the Bible is muddy and therefore difficult to understand by writing Deconstructing Faith. While I disagree with her comments about doubt, her overall argument for the clarity of God’s Word makes this article essential reading. I wish more bloggers would stand this resolutely against efforts to dilute the Word!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin