Truth, Not Emotion, Must Guide Christians

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Because I still struggle with my sin nature (as Paul did in Romans 7:7-25), I have gone though times of wanting to walk away from Christ. In those times, I understood that He wouldn’t allow me to play with my sin in His holy presence.  And in those times, I had to admit that I preferred my sin to fellowship with Him.

And yet, even as I made that admission, I knew I would ultimately run back to Jesus in repentance. Even though I enjoyed my sin, I knew that truth can only come through Him. I always thought of the time during His earthly ministry when the demands of His preaching alienated most of His followers.

66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” ~~John 6:66-69 (ESV)

Peter got a lot of things wrong during those three years before Christ’s resurrection, but this response was surprisingly on target. He stayed loyal to the Lord based on truth, not mere emotion.

Don’t misunderstand me: Peter loved Jesus with astounding passion. As Jesus prepared to go to the cross, Peter declared his willingness to die for Him (John 13:37). Clearly, emotion played a major role in Peter’s devotion to Jesus, just as it should play a major role in our devotion to Jesus. Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord with our entire being (Matthew 22:37).

But passion alone can’t keep anyone from abandoning Christ. Our love for Him must be firmly grounded in the conviction that His Word is truth.

Love apart from truth wavers in the face of opposition. Those disciples who turned and walked away from Jesus in John 6 had experienced some degree of emotion, even if that emotion resulted from their selfish expectations that He would create more miraculous meals for them. When they realized that He would make demands on them, their love vanished with amazing speed.

The Twelve remained with Jesus because they knew the truth of His Word. Confidence in His truth held them to Him. They knew that they had nowhere else to go.

I know it too.

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They Taught Him To Love Jesus

In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, the apostle prepares his young disciple to assume the role of pastor to the church at Ephesus. In encouraging Timothy, he makes a tender appeal reminding the young man of his spiritual heritage handed down from his mother and grandmother.

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.~~2 Timothy 1:5 (ESV)

Further on in the letter, Paul specifies what Timothy learned from these women.

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ~~2 Timothy 3:14-17 (ESV)

Lois and Eunice, I believe, taught young Timothy more than a mere academic knowledge of the Old Testament. Their faith in Yahweh prepared him to receive the Gospel and to love the Lord Jesus Christ.

Whether or not you were raised by a godly mother, knowing Scripture will reveal Christ to you. The more you see Him in His Word, the more you will never love Him as Timothy’s grandmother and mother did. Truly, they taught him to love Jesus.

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Overlooked Posts From 2019: The Job Of Discernment Bloggers In Positive Terms

This time of year, many bloggers share their most popular posts from the past 12 months. Ever the nonconformist, I’ve decided to celebrate the year’s end by featuring favorite articles of mine that my readers seem to have overlooked. Today I’m posting one I wrote back in May:

The Outspoken TULIP Header 2019 eWhen we think of discernment bloggers, we generally think of those who dedicate themselves to ruthlessly exposing false teachers. According to the common caricature, these bloggers are sarcastic, unloving, closed to reason and (above all) self-righteous.

Some of them actually do fit this caricature, I’m grieved to say. Ironically, their eagerness to bring down people that they consider to be false teachers leads them to Continue reading

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

Do You Realize What You’re Reading?

God's Megaphone

Justin Peters famously says, “If you want to hear God speak, read your Bible. If you want to hear Him audibly, read it aloud ” Justin uses that pithy saying to combat the growing expectation evangelicals have that the Holy Spirit should speak personally, apart from the Bible.

I’ve written several blog posts demonstrating the sufficiency of Scripture, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I wrote more in future posts. As evangelicals increasingly believe that God speaks to them in a still, small voice or in visions and dreams, we must sound the alarm against this false teaching!

Lately, however, I’ve been considering another aspect of the Lord speaking through the Bible. For all I’ve written and said about this matter, I find myself sometimes Continue reading

The Value Of Scripture Now And Then

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Maybe I never said it out loud,  and I certainly wouldn’t have let any of my friends hear me say it, but I wanted more than the Bible seemed to offer. Thus I loved hearing supposed prophecies in   church, devoured books on “Christian” psychology and hungered  for God to speak to me personally.

Truthfully, I don’t believe my unspoken dissatisfaction with the Bible was atypical.

Whether evangelicals admit it or not, many of them want something beyond Scripture to guide their decision making or to help them better experience God. Having spent most of my Christian life in that camp, I very much understand that perspective. People who long for something that feels more personal than Scripture often genuinely love the Lord and want to be close to Him.

I believe, however, that Christians in the 16th Century would struggle to understand Continue reading

Do I Want A Popular Blog Or A Meaningful Blog?

Unpopular Bible Study

This week has been a blogger’s dream come true, thanks to John MacArthur and Beth Moore. Can I admit that I’m glad to have just over 500 followers on WordPress and over 270 followers on Bloglovin? I’m not sure how many people follow The Outspoken TULIP Facebook page, nor do I know how many follow through Twitter.

I do know, however, that every time I write about Beth Moore, my stats skyrocket. If I add John MacArthur to the mix, I can count on perpetual views.  Readers crave articles about these two public figures.

In one respect, I’m glad so many women flock to my posts about Beth Moore. I firmly believe she’s one of the most Continue reading