Singing Of God’s Sovereignty

Maybe it’s because the Lord brought me to salvation through the Jesus Movement in 1971, but I love Scripture set to contemporary music.  Not very Reformed, perhaps. Although some early Reformers used nothing but the Psalms in their hymnal, if I recall correctly.

As I rummaged through YouTube looking for a hymn to post this week, I came across a song quoting Romans 11:33-36. I love its high view of God and its emphasis on His sovereignty. What more could a Reformed gal want?

This Lord’s Day, take a moment to listen to Romans 11 (Doxology) and worship the Lord for His unsurpassed wisdom and unwavering control of the universe. Adore Him because He deserves all glory throughout eternity. How wonderful to praise Him in a song that uses His Word to celebrate His sovereign nature!

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Has Anybody Seen The Opportunity That I Misplaced?

Dark WisdomSo John came into the bedroom with his laptop, offering to let me dictate a blog post to him. (I am a blessed woman!) As soon as he opened it, all my brilliant ideas fluttered out of my head and refused to be retrieved. Consequently, I lie here feeling frustrated and disappointed that I can’t fully take advantage of this opportunity.

I hate missed opportunities. I especially hate having an opportunity to share the Gospel, only to sit there with the words rumbling around in my throat and not coming out of my mouth. Until recently, I would fear that the person would spend eternity in hell because I failed to tell him or her about Jesus.

Certainly, Christians have a responsibility to proclaim the Gospel to whomever we can. God has ordained evangelism as the means of bringing people to salvation. Furthermore, a failure to speak on His behalf constitutes disobedience on our part.

That said, none of us should presume to think that a person’s salvation depends solely on our obedience. If somebody is elect, He will be faithful to make sure that the person hears and responds to His Word. Trusting His sovereignty relieves us of believing that we have responsibility for a person’s eternal destiny.

So should we feel guilty if we miss (or neglect) opportunities to present the Gospel to others? Yes and no.

Any disobedience should cause us to feel guilt. Christ has blessed us in abundance with salvation and the hope of eternity with Him! The grace He has given us should motivate us to obey all of His commands, including the command to go into all the world and make disciples, teaching them everything He has taught us. Our silence is a sin against His grace.

At the same time, we should not sin by presuming that we are ultimately responsible for anyone’s salvation. Heavenly days, we can’t even take credit for our own salvation – what makes us think that we can effect salvation in somebody else’s heart? Do we really think that the Lord is totally dependent on whether or not we share the Gospel?

Please.

We must remember that all of His elect will come to salvation regardless of our obedience to witness. He has determined who will enter His Kingdom, and our disobedience (even though it is sinful) isn’t strong enough to sabotage His will.

Lost opportunities indeed frustrate and disappoint us, especially when those opportunities involve bringing the Gospel to people who need Christ. But when we lose opportunities, we need to remember that God hasn’t lost His control. He knows who belong to Him, and He will save those people regardless of our actions. Rest in this assurance.

*Thanks to John for typing this post at my dictation.

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Starting Advent Sunday Hymns

I seriously considered breaking with my tradition of posting Christmas hymns during the month of December. It seemed all too predicable. Too expected!

But think about all the predictions the Old Testament prophets made about the coming Messiah. Each prediction filled believing Jews with hopeful expectation, knowing that Messiah would bring freedom. While most Jews ended up missing Messiah when He came, some actually did understand Who He was.

This Advent season, perhaps we need to expect Christ’s Second Coming, which He Himself predicted. He was faithful to fulfill the predictions of the prophets; should we expect anything less now?

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Familiar Psalm, Unfamiliar Hymn

Tragically, one could argue that hymns in general are unfamiliar to most professing evangelicals. But I digress.

Psalm 23 is well-known, even among non-Christians. Almost any movie with a funeral scene includes a minister somberly reciting its words as mourners gather around the grave, allowing avid movie buffs to subconsciously memorize it regardless of their religious views. And those who identify as Christians definitely find comfort in its beautiful imagery.

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” We draw strength from these words, as well as the words which follow them. Often we speak them to ourselves in times of crisis, assuring ourselves that — despite the most unspeakable circumstances — our Shepherd continues to guide and protect us. We take solace in knowing that we “will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Last Sunday I encountered a hymn based on Psalm 23 that I’d never heard until then. I’m guessing it’s unfamiliar to many of you. Perhaps it might give you fresh perspective on this psalm that we know so well.

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Reformation Day Is Like Christmas (At Least For Reformed Bloggers)

Reformation Day

Pastors must feel a sense of panic each December, knowing they’ll need to preach Christmas sermons the Sunday before Christmas as well as Christmas Eve. How can they find a fresh angle? What can they say that pastors haven’t said for centuries on end? How do they keep their congregations from becoming jaded to the wonder of Christ’s Incarnation?

As a blogger, I believe I empathize with their plight. Before starting The Outspoken TULIP, I maintained another blog for  nine years, giving me a total of twelve years and three months doing this ministry. Around Christmastime, I panic a little myself. What can I add to the conversation that’s different from my Christmas blog posts lying in my archives? And how can my articles complement, rather than parrot, those of my fellow Christian bloggers?

Today I feel the same sort of panic. It’s Reformation Day, and I am Continue reading

The Man Of God’s Own Choosing

Martin Luther arguably set the Protestant Reformation in motion, a fact that hardly needs to be stated. But his most famous hymn perhaps expresses his confidence in Christ as Christians fought to return the Church to true Biblical faith and practice.

As you listen to this hymn, please notice the emphasis on Christ as the One Who would defeat the powers of evil. This marvelous truth applies just as much in the battle for truth today as it did at the height of the Reformation. It also applies to our personal battles against sin.

God is our mighty fortress. Christ Jesus is the Man He chooses to win the battle. We can’t trust in our own ability to overcome Satan and his evil devices, but we can fully depend on the Lord to establish His kingdom.

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I’m Not Interested In Your Opinion — And You Shouldn’t Be Interested In Mine

Open Bible 02The Bible Study leader reads a verse, and perhaps quotes a commentary before sharing how she thinks it spoke to her. Then she opens the floor to solicit thoughts from the other ladies in the room. Everyone has valid insights, she assures the group; there are no wrong answers.

Okay, usually it happens a little more subtly than my description. But many Bible Study groups do encourage subjective approaches to Scripture. All too often, women receive support for drawing personalized messages from their Bible study time.

Certainly, as we’re in Gods Word, the Holy Spirit frequently uses it to address specific situations in our lives.  In fact, we ought to search the Scriptures when we need God’s wisdom. Are you considering marriage?  Then Continue reading