Saturday Sampler: March 10 — March 16

Massachusetts Town Flags

Town and city flags of Massachusetts displayed in the State House

When I started this blog in 2015, I could see that the church in America was headed for persecution. A lot of Christians see the same reality, including Mike Ratliff of Possessing the Treasure. His blog post, Even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness you are blessed, underscores what I’ve been saying all along.

Are You Living with a Misconception of Grace? Writing for Biblical Woman,  Sarah Bubar explores the effect our culture of entitlement has on how we understand the grace of God. She also explains grace from the Biblical standpoint.

She’s done it again! In One major way Christian self-help books damage you, Elizabeth Prata pulls back the cover to reveal a harmful evangelical practice. Ladies, this essay in The End Time deserves your attention!

Candidly admitting her struggles, Debi Martin of Sojourner Between Two Worlds shows us The Importance of Being in God’s Word. I’m currently reading through the Bible in 90 days as Debi did in 2012. It’s my second time doing it, and I highly recommend it.

I appreciate Erin Benziger’s devotional on The Sufficiency of the Word in Do Not Be Surprised. The worldliness permeating evangelicalism pressures people to settle for much less than God has given us.

Scripture delineates specific roles for women that the world considers oppressive. Thankfully, in an article for The Cripplegate, Eric Davis lists 10 Reasons Why the Bible Regards Women Higher than all Other Systems. I wish every evangelical (female and male) would read this one.

Yup, I struggle with reading my Bible too. So Throwback Thursday ~ The Mailbag: I love the Bible, but I have to force myself to read it by Michelle Lesley really reassures and  comforts me. She selects just the right Scriptures to make her case.

I’m not going to give away R. Scott Clark’s message in What Christians Can Learn From Drew Carey About Subverting Culture on the Abounding Grace Radio blog,  but I promise you that you won’t regret reading it. How do I know? I enjoyed reading it, and I’m far from being a Drew Carey fan.

Nick Batzig of Reformation 21 pleads for discernment ministries to strive for balance by writing A Horror of Theology. Bloggers especially need to consider the points he makes in order to avoid extremes that end up dishonoring the Lord.

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Throwback Thursday: Apples And Pulpits

In response to a recent tweet by Beth Moore, I’m reposting my January 20, 2017 essay.

betty-portrait-paintedHave you ever noticed the parallel between Eve’s temptation in the Garden and women who qualify (or flat-out reject) 1 Timothy 2:12? I don’t remember where I first read about this parallel, so I can’t properly give due credit, but I must acknowledge that this notion didn’t originate with me. That said, I believe we need to consider the possibility that women who seek to teach men or who aspire to pulpit ministry commit the same sin that Eve committed.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.~~Genesis 3:1-6 (ESV)

Eve and her husband had been given full access to every tree in the Garden, with only one exception (see Genesis 2:15-17). She should have been thankful for the Lord’s abundant provision, but Satan twisted God’s Word so that she questioned God’s goodness…or at least her understanding of His Word.As I’ve studied arguments for the ordination of women, I’ve  noticed the same type of Scripture twisting.

Let me show you just a couple examples of how professing Christians try to explain away 2 Timothy 2:11-12.

11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. (ESV)

The website for Brethren In Christ Church (I find amusing irony in the sexist name of the denomination) offers this explanation:

Paul’s seemingly prohibitive statement about women in public ministry is likely a response or plan of action to deal with women who were new Christians, talented, and endowed with spiritual gifts of leadership, but not yet trained and seasoned for leadership in the congregation. These new Christian women likely were also mixing pagan practices and Christian doctrine. One must keep in mind that prior to this time, only the men had the privilege of learning through formal study. Paul’s assertion in verse 11 that “women should learn” was indeed a new day for the believing woman.
Responding to the women’s lack of training and maturity, Paul therefore declares, “I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she is to keep silent (2:12 NRSV). The literal translation from the Greek is, “I am not presently permitting a woman to teach or to have authority over men….” The verb used is present active indicative. It was never intended to be a prohibitive statement or a prescription for all times, places, and cultures. If it had been written for that purpose, there are Greek verbs and tenses which would have been used to clarify the intention. (Source)

The appeal to Greek verb tenses almost convinces me, except for the fact that the apostle Paul based his restriction, not on 1st Century custom, but on God’s original order of creation and Eve’s vulnerability to deception (see 1 Timothy 2:13-14). And as for  “mixing pagan practices with Christian doctrine,” might I suggest that “Christian” feminism pretty much does the same thing by adopting worldly standards?

A website called Circle Of Christian Women evaluates 1 Timothy 2 in the context of wives and husbands rather than women in general:

1 Timothy 2:12 is not a blanket rule for all women of all churches. If it were, then the women could not speak at all, for the same verse that tells them not to teach also tells them to be silent.

If all women had to keep silent in church, then that would be promoting disobedience to God, for they could not prophesy, pray, testify, sing, exhort, do personal work, or even get saved.

Whenever an interpretation to a verse contradicts the rest of the teaching of the Bible, we know this interpretation is incorrect, for the Holy Spirit will never contradict His own Word.

This is the chief verse that is used to oppose women preaching and yet it says nothing about preaching, nor does it say anything about a public worship or church service. But, on the contrary, this verse is giving instructions to wives as to how they were to conduct themselves in regard to their husband. Paul says in 1 Cor. 14:35, “And if they will LEARN anything, let them ask their husbands at home.” Now he states in 1 Tim. 2:12 that the woman should learn in silence, and should not usurp authority over the man. Paul is dealing with more of a home problem than a church problem.

This verse still applies to us today. It is wrong for a woman to usurp authority over her husband (in church, home, or any place else) as was the case in Paul’s day. She should not try to teach him or speak words that would cause discord and confusion, but should rather be silent and in subjection to her husband.

It is also to be understood that if anyone, whether man or woman, is usurping authority over the God-given leadership of the church, she or he is to be silent, and not to teach, or act in such a way that would create discord in the assembly.

Um, no. 1 Corinthians 14:33-35, if anything, places further restrictions on women in church, and certainly doesn’t soften the impact of 1 Timothy 2:12. This argument just makes no sense, and it completely ignores the context of the verse. Like Eve, such people fall for Satan’s question, “Did God actually say…?” Despite all the wonderful ministries the Lord opens to women (including the joys of teaching other women and children) they want to also teach and lead men, unwilling to accept the only restriction that Scripture places on them.

As a redeemed woman, I trust God’s wisdom in “denying” me the right to teach men. Maybe men could learn something from me. But that’s really beside the point. Unlike Eve, I choose to appreciate all the wonderful ways the Lord does permit me to serve Him, realizing that He has every right to withhold certain spheres of service. May I serve, not by coveting ministries that He assigns exclusively to men, but in gratitude for the wide variety of opportunities He gives me.

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What I Don’t Mean, But What I Certainly Mean

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A few days ago, I enjoyed the opportunity to listen to Equipping Eve, Erin Benziger’s podcast for women. For quite a while, being on bedrest for my fractures minimized my access to my computer, and when I was able to use it, John was in the same room. Erin quite rightly requests that men not listen to her podcast because she teaches on it, so I won’t have it playing when John’s in the room.

I listened to the episode entitled Biblical Womanhood, knowing Erin’s aversion to typical women’s ministry. I wasn’t exactly sure how she would broach the topic, but I knew it would be interesting.

I wasn’t expecting it to challenge my current series on discerning God’s will!

Erin’s main thesis in the episode was that people typically present Biblical womanhood in terms of attitudes and behaviors we must adopt. We clutch our Proverbs 31 and Titus 2 checklists, resolved to make ourselves into model Biblical women. In so doing, however, we subtly bring ourselves back under law, presuming that our careful adherence to the apparent rules will make God love us.

As I listened to Erin, I wondered if my readers misunderstand my current series as saying that discernment Continue reading

How Advice On Blogging Resembles Church Growth Strategies And Why Both Demean You

Head Stick Pics 007As a blogger, I’m supposed to understand that you readers can’t read lengthy paragraphs. Just like church growth strategists understand that you can’t listen to sermons over 20 minutes long.

You need easily readable blog posts and digestible worship experiences for a few critical reasons.

  • You have short attention spans
  • You shouldn’t have to use Dictionary.com or learn Biblical doctrine
  • You need bloggers and pastors to quickly tell you how their material immediately benefits you

According to a blog I read on the art of blogging, I apparently expect you, my readers, to read with more maturity and engagement than you can muster. Reformed pastors have the same unrealistic expectations of people in their pews.

If I want more readers, I should dumb down my blog, just as my pastor should dumb down his sermons to gain new members.

Okay, I’m ready to stop writing this parody of the blogging advice blog (although I certainly entertained myself by imitating his writing style and implementing some of his suggestions). Having majored in English Continue reading

Saturday Sampler: November 11 — November 17

Colored Swirls

As Christians, we are Aliens and exiles in this lost and dying world, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. Mike Ratliff explains this status in Possessing the Treasure.

Fascinated by the prophecy of Scripture, Elizabeth Prata named her blog The End Time. She writes Praises for prophecy, higher praises for the One who ordains it as a tribute to God’s amazing sovereignty. Who says doctrine can’t inspire worship?

Coming from a church in California that, despite its doctrinal flaws, taught Tuesday night Bible Studies directly from the Bible, I felt perplexed when I moved to Massachusetts and joined a women’s Bible Study that used DVDs and a workbook. So I appreciate Michelle Lesley for her firm stand in The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.” Her passionate appeal should get our attention!

Writing for Knowable Word, Ryan Higginbottom outlines Three Important Contexts for Bible Study that we really need to understand.You’ll find these contexts useful in working through God’s Word.

Reformation 21 runs Revoice, or God’s Voice? by Harry Reeder, reviewing this past summer’s Revoice Conference for LBGTQ Christians. His Biblical response to the conference reminds us to use discernment in evaluating evangelical trends, especially when those trends claim to align with traditional Christian teaching.

How do you respond when your brothers and sisters in Christ suffer?  Erin Benziger of Do Not Be Surprised discusses our responsibility in such situations by writing Sibling Status Means Something. I love Erin’s ability to reason from Scripture.

In an article for  The Ethics & Religious Liberties Commission, Andrew T. Walker shows us a real life example of why Cultural winsomeness will not be enough for Christians with the story of Isabella Chow. What happened to this brave young lady underscores my reason for starting this blog, so I implore you to read it.

As usual, Leslie A uses her Growing 4 Life blog to bring a challenge that shakes the soul.  Actually, I love her blog for that  very reason! My Way or His Way? may not be the most comfortable item you’ve ever read (I’m definitely squirming), but I think each one of us needs to seriously consider what she has to say.

Don’t Apologize For The Bible counsels Jim Essian in For The Church. He acknowledges that our culture pressures us to feel guilty about Biblical positions that contradict political correctness, but he explains how to see the beauty in those positions.

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Bible Study Isn’t Self Discovery, Though That Can Happen

Flower OutlineAs women, we all too often settle for self-focused theology designed to stroke our egos and make us feel valued when we really need to be studying Scripture to learn Who the Lord is and how we can glorify Him.

In a very real sense, we’ve been trained to approach Bible Study with a degree of narcissism. So many books and conferences for women emphasize God’s love for us and how special we are to Him. Jesus, popular evangelical writers assure us, wants intimacy with us, sometimes even to the point of satisfying us romantically and/or sexually.

Hopefully most of us now see through that silliness. But if we wisely discard that false teaching, we sometimes fall for the more subtle idea that, by studying Scripture, we learn about ourselves.

As always, there’s a handy little proof-text used to substantiate the concept.

23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. ~~James 1:23-24 (ESV)

Those two verses clearly say that reading God’s Word shows us who we are. And in some respects, it does. Typically, of course, women’s ministries then minimize the many verses and passages that reveal our sinfulness in favor of highlighting the ones that explain who we become when the Holy Spirit transforms us.

It’s true, then, that studying the Bible can have the secondary effect of helping us understand ourselves. And we need a degree of both coming to terms with our sinfulness and embracing our new identities as daughters of the Most High in order to properly serve the Lord. So in that sense it’s altogether appropriate that studying Scripture should have self discovery as a by-product.

But all too often, women’s ministries make self discovery the chief end of Bible Study, almost making Christ an auxiliary to that end. And that’s a serious perversion of the reason we study God’s Word.

Our ultimate purpose in studying Scripture must be knowing Christ. Its pages reveal Who He is, what He has done and what He demands of His people. If we see ourselves in its doctrines, it’s only so that we can better serve and glorify Him.

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Saturday Sampler: October 28 — November 3

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Did you celebrate Reformation Day on Wednesday? Sadly, many evangelicals (if they even know what Reformation Day is) don’t see the Reformation as having any bearing on their lives. Thankfully, The Cripplegate features Clint Archer’s 3 Ways October 31, 1517 Affects You Life Today as a means of showing us that history really does impact our daily lives.

I usually wince a little when I read Growing 4 Life because Leslie A applies truth like an antiseptic. Of course, antiseptics are necessary in halting dangerous infections. The Expedient Lie forces us to examine how we answer awkward questions. Her observations sting only until they bring the sweet healing of repentance.

Reformation21 features The Statement on SJ&G Explained: Article 9, Heresy by Justin Peters. Demonstrating the deterioration of mainline denominations due to egalitarian beliefs and practices, Justin warns that a seemingly minor relaxation of Biblical principles now can have devastating consequences in the future.

Who wouldn’t want Free A’s And No Homework? SharaC writes about the harmful consequences of such policies on Into the Foolishness of God.

You’ll find that Michelle Lesley has more than one interesting perspective in Throwback Thursday ~ Band-Aids vs. Chemotherapy: Why Suffering Women are Drawn to False Doctrine and 7 Things We Can do to Help. I love her practical application of Scriptural principles.

Jason K. Allen’s 3 Questions for Christians on Social Media appears in For The Church as a welcome challenge to think carefully before we click or tap that “Send” button. Oh boy, do we need to implement his advice!

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