Just Because I Have Something To Say Doesn’t Mean I Have To Say It

Mosaic CrossThe ease of blogging, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms tempt people to express thoughts and opinions instantly, always with the hope that something we tap out on our keyboards will go viral. We all dream of influencing people. And, for Christians, that dream can have a certain degree of nobility to it.

Alas, even as Christians, we see pride well up as we gain followers. If our followers like our posts, that pride convinces Continue reading

Saturday Sampler: August 19 — August 25

Birds Sampler

Let’s start this week’s Sampler by going to Knowable Word for Ryan Higginbottom’s Context Matters: The Lord’s Prayer. I particularly appreciate his emphasis on the fact that we mustn’t isolate portions of Scripture.

I debated long and hard about including The Mailbag: Should Christian women cover up while breastfeeding? by Michelle Lesley only because I don’t want to tempt men to read it. But I definitely believe young mothers should seriously consider Michelle’s Biblical perspective on this controversial matter.

The Believer And Suicide by John Chester appears in Parking Space 23. He handles this difficult issue with sensitivity and tact while also maintaining a solid commitment to the Word of God. Please note: throughout his article, Chester correctly identifies suicide as a sin. Nothing he writes should be construed as permission to kill yourself.

Don’t overlook Maybe We Need Less Math and More History, in which Tim Challies outlines several benefits of studying church history. How can I not love this one?

As a contributor to For The Church, Patrick Meador encourages each of us to Be a Missionary, Not a Marketer. This is one of the best responses to the church growth industrial complex that I’ve read in a long time.

John MacArthur continues laying his foundation for critiquing the Social Justice Movement on this Grace To You blog with The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 1  and The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 2. These posts help explain why this current trend weakens the mission of the Church.

Reasoning from Scripture, Elizabeth Prata of The End Time analyzes a Facebook meme in Throwback Thursday: Does God Speak In Unidentified Promptings? Ladies, we must follow Elizabeth’s example and think Biblically when we see “Christian” memes on social media.

Few American evangelicals really believe that persecution is knocking at our door. SlimJim of The Domain for Truth gives us a needed wake up call with Tolerance? Church Vandalized. It’s a short but personal account that demands our attention.

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Saturday Sampler: July 22 — July 28

3D Beads Sampler

I didn’t read Douglas Wilson’s The Facebook Penalty Box until after I published last week’s edition of Saturday Sampler, but his faithfulness to preserve Robert Gagnon’s banned Facebook post responding to the Revoice conference deserves attention. For several reasons. Wilson blogs at Blog & Mablog.

You’ve heard me say countless times that context is essential to interpreting the Bible. If you want more evidence that context makes a difference, read Do Children Need to Take Care of Their Parents? OR Another Reason Context Is Important by Mike Leake of Borrowed Light. You might even learn something about First Century Roman culture.

Hohn Cho, writing for Pyromaniacs, issues Convictions of the “Social” Justice Movement and Responses Thereto. Though this isn’t exactly light reading, it gives us a handle on this movement’s main tenants and examines those tenants through the lens of Scripture.

Reflecting on the life of a woman who greatly influenced her, Erin Benziger writes A Life Exhausted for Jesus in Do Not Be Surprised.

On her blog, The End Time, Elizabeth Prata reminds us that Taming the Tongue on Social Media is a responsibility that Christians must take seriously.  She offers an interesting perspective on silence that we typically overlook in discussions on this matter. Her essay deserves attention just for that.

We’ve all asked Where Do People Who Never Hear of Jesus Go When They Die? In his weekly contribution to The Cripplegate, Jordan Standridge answers this question from Scripture and then explains our responsibility to evangelize all nations.

Inevitably, most Christians find something about God that, to be honest, we just don’t like. Addressing that reality in his blog post for Things Above Us, Michael Coughlan writes When the Honeymoon is Over to both confront and encourage us. His observations deserve consideration.

What Is The Greatest Motivation In Your Life? asks Carol Ann Kiker in her Biblical Woman blog post. Her application of principles in Colossians 3 to various aspects of daily life is practical and honoring to the Lord.

Giving us a birds eye view of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, Peter Krol writes Context Matters: You Have Heard That it was Said…But I Say to You in Knowable Word. If the current chatter about laying aside the Old Testament intrigues you, I beg  you to read this study and consider how Jesus regarded it.

Sometimes I believe Michelle Lesley and I lead parallel lives. At least spiritually. I nodded in knowing agreement as I read When God Answers the “Wrong” Prayer. Michelle models how godly women should pray, but also how to respond when God answers the one prayer that our flesh secretly hopes He doesn’t hear.

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Saturday Sampler: July 15 — July 21

Lollipop Sampler

Happy Tenth Facebook Anniversary, Stephen by Stephen McAlpine is funny. I  guarantee you’ll chuckle as you read the first several paragraphs. But his observations should sober us. And encourage us to use social media in ways that honor the Lord for as long as we can get away with it.

In his weekly contribution to The Cripplegate, Clint Archer answers the question, Are there prophets today (in fewer than 500 words)? I could answer in one word. But Continue reading

I Remember Being 35

d2676-sunset03I’ve arrived at a shocking realization: I’m going to be officially elderly on my next birthday. When I advertised for a Personal Care Attendant last month, several applicants emailed back saying they enjoy working with elderly people. At first their comments baffled me, since I no longer think of being 64 as the precipice of old age.

I mean, really! I blog and use social media. I read books on Kindle. How much cooler could I possibly get? And that wedding anniversary that John and I will celebrate two months from now will only be our 16th. Now I ask you, don’t I sound closer to 35 than 65? Thank you. I think so too!

Except that I blog and use social media because typing has gotten too strenuous for writing magazine articles, more less that autobiographical book that so many people throughout the years have told me I should write. I know I’m supposed to edit and revise blog posts like I used to edit and revise articles that I submitted to print publications back when I used an electric typewriter (some of you have probably never even heard of typewriters), but I don’t. I read books on Kindle only because I can no longer turn the pages of a physical book. And I had no viable opportunity for marriage (at least for a godly marriage) until I met John. Now I ask you, don’t I sound old?

Well, I guess I am old. And lately I’ve noticed that  blogging daily has been growing more difficult. People don’t realize that typing with a headstick and Cerebral Palsy uses my entire body, not just my neck. Last night, after typing that 635-word blog post, I went to bed sore.

I haven’t been doing much digital art lately, as you’ve undoubtedly noticed by the graphics I use over and over to illustrate The Outspoken TULIP. I feel guilty about that, but blogging leaves me too tired to produce many new drawings. I rarely email friends, let alone write an actual letter. The Outspoken TULIP demands the bulk of my time and energy, causing me to ignore those other things.

I remember being 34 and writing counseling letters for work, plays for church, entries in my personal journal and 8-page letters to friends — all on (you guessed it) my typewriter. I’ll never be that productive again!

But I’m wondering whether or not blogging daily really honors the Lord. I take days off to go to Boston on dates with John, as I will to celebrate unFather’s Day tomorrow,  but maybe I need days off to draw, write letters or even play solitaire. Who knows? I might even revise some blog posts before I publish them.

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I’d Rather Trust My Readers Than Write A Successful Blog

Success

Lately I’ve been reading a blog about blogging. As far as I know, the writers don’t profess to be Christians, but the point of their blog has nothing to do with religion anyway. These bloggers simply want to show other bloggers how to craft good blogs and build good followings.

I like some of their advice, and I hope some of the things I learn will help me be a better blogger. I especially appreciate their encouragement to blog regularly and consistently. Although I occasionally skip days (most notably in good weather months when John and I can go to Boston), I try to provide my readers with a daily post.

As I read their suggestions, however, sometimes I can’t help equating them with tactics that seeker-sensitive churches use. This angle challenges me to ask myself whether I see The Outspoken TULIP as a business or a ministry. If it’s more of a business, then certainly I have every reason to embrace their pragmatic approach and tailor my blog accordingly. To be sure, I’d attract and retain more readers.

One of their recent articles caused me to consider the probability that adopting a pragmatic approach to blogging for the Lord might not be the best way to honor my readers, much less to glorify Him. The article insisted on keeping paragraphs down to one or two sentences (preferably one), and writing sentences that don’t exceed 25 words. Additionally, the article advised against using an expansive vocabulary that (horrors!) force readers to use their dictionaries.

The writer of this particular article explained that attention spans in this age of 280 characters are too short to put up with any sort of reading that challenges them. That reasoning eerily parallels the argument that hour long sermons that exposit Scripture verse-by-verse will repel unbelievers. In both cases, the assumption is that people no longer have the capacity to rise to the level of bloggers or preachers. Unless we cut up their food in bite-sized fragments that they don’t even need to chew, they won’t come to the table.

If The Outspoken TULIP is a ministry, I prefer to regard my readers as women who indeed can read a robust vocabulary, complex sentences and full paragraphs. I hope many of them also belong to faithful churches with pastors who fearlessly exposit God’s Word verse-by-verse without worrying about a 25 minute time limit. I trust my readers with be serious about God’s Word to the degree that you don’t require me (or your pastors) to dumb it down. Maybe my blog will never attract a large audience as a result of my writing style. But if it draws women who aren’t afraid to work at understanding and applying Scripture, my blog will be successful.

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One Important Reason I Probably Won’t Blog About Butterflies On Subway Cars

Subway Butterfly

Because John and I met online,  we hold a special fondness for the movie, You’ve Got Mail. Meg Ryan plays a woman who carries on an email correspondence with Tom Hanks, not knowing that he’s the same man who put the children’s bookshop she owned out of business.

Throughout the movie, Ryan and Hanks do voice-overs of the emails they write to one another. Ryan’s early emails particularly interest me, as she reflects on an inconsequential thing (like a butterfly fluttering on and then off of a subway car) in a way that reveals so much of who she is. Her lines make me wish I could write as lyrically.

In another email, she comments on the strangeness of typing words into a computer, not knowing where they’ll go our who will read them. Since that movie was written long before blogs, Facebook and Twitter, I can’t help wondering if online communication has become even stranger now.

As a blogger, I sometimes wonder how my tenuous words have amassed the modest but growing following that The Outspoken TULIP  has developed in slightly less than three years. And would I have a larger or smaller following if I wrote about butterflies on subway cars and such?

Not that I can imagine anything as poetic as a butterfly fluttering on a Boston subway car. A dirty pigeon, perhaps. Though a pigeon would flap violently rather than delicately fluttering. Not the same.

Anyway, I once did operate a blog in which I wrote simply for the sake of writing. Yes, I enjoyed that freedom.  At times I regret giving it up in favor of this more focused blog. What harm could there be, I ask myself, if I occasionally departed from the main themes of this blog to have a little fun with writing? Although I seriously doubt I’d ever see a butterfly on a Boston subway car, I could easily find other interesting moments to develop into essays of little consequence.

A couple of verses I read in Ephesians yesterday stops me from allowing myself such liberties.

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. ~~Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV)

Indeed, the days are evil. Outside the church, abortion and homosexuality are celebrated as human rights, not decried as murder and perversion. Truck commercials on TV assume that dating couples will move in together before (or without) getting married. Christian bakers and florists lose their businesses for declining to cater gay weddings. Public schools offer yoga classes, denying yoga’s connection to Hinduism. Christians receive warnings not to pray in public, and sometimes get banned from social media for proclaiming the Gospel.

Many of us anticipate much more severe persecution in the near future.

Inside the visible church, professing Christians compromise in numerous respects, from so-called “Holy Yoga” to advocating for women pastors. For all our talk about believing God’s Word, our fondness for mysticism and psychology betray our confidence in human philosophies. False teachers infiltrate evangelical circles in droves.

The Outspoken TULIP exists precisely because the Church faces so many external and internal threats. Christian women need encouragement to study Scripture so we can withstand the overwhelming pressure to compromise with the world. While writing about butterflies on subway cars and such would certainly be a lot more fun, I don’t have time for that. Rather, it wouldn’t be the best use of my time.

Do I have a big enough following to make a significant difference?  Of course not. But the scope of my blog doesn’t matter. My faithfulness does. And faithfulness demands using my time for His glory, not for floating inconsequential musings across the Internet.

My blog may not be widely read, but I still have a responsibility to use my writing for the Lord. Although writing fun pieces every so often wouldn’t necessarily be bad, I have to ask myself if it would be the best use of my blogging time. When I consider how rapidly Western society is hurling itself into rebellion against God, and how greater numbers of professing Christians compromise with worldly values, I can’t help concluding that writing about the Lord and encouraging women in their walks with Him is the best use of my blogging time.

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