Saturday Sampler: June 10 — June 16

Flower SamplerAnswering a question from one of her readers, Michelle Lesley writes The Mailbag: How can I grow to love Jesus more? As she says, more Christians should ask that question.

If you’ve ever tried raising questions about certain popular Christian teachers, you’ll quickly learn that they are The Untouchables. Criticism of them is simply not tolerated by their followers, as Leslie A of Growing 4 Life testifies. She also has an important caution for those who follow Biblically sound teachers.

The purveyor of Biblical Beginnings writes Twisted Tuesday – Cosmic Child Abuse in defense of the doctrine of penal substantiation. I love her passion for the Gospel in this piece, and I wish more Christians would exhibit this kind of passion!

Writing for Unlocking the Bible, Brittany suggests 10 Practical Ways to Treasure Christ based on Psalm 119. Since John and I are currently going through this psalm together in our morning devotions, this blog post particularly interests me. Perhaps the Lord will also encourage you through her insights and ideas.

Josh Buice of Delivered By Grace absolutely nails in his piece, Why Electing a Woman as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention is a Bad Idea. It didn’t happen this year. Let’s pray it never does.

I must recommend a second Michelle Lesley post this week. In Basic Training: The Great Commission, Michelle walks us through a familiar Scripture passage to remind us of Christ’s command to His Church after He rose from the dead. Sadly, many 21st Century evangelicals don’t know what The Great Commission is. Take her poll and then refresh your memory by reading the rest of her article.

On the Ligonier blog, Sinclair Ferguson answers the question, What Is Discernment? I believe more people (particularly those who claim to be in discernment ministry) ought to read his words and give serious thought to them. As I’ve said numerous times, Biblical discernment extends far beyond exposing false teachers.

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Segregated Women

3d383-ladies2bstudy2b03Yesterday I read a blog post by Lisa Robinson. Nothing particularly unusual about that; Lisa displays an excellent command of the English language and (more importantly) shows herself to love the Lord and have sound theology. But I disagreed with the way she defended Legacy, the special gathering for women of color at The Gospel Coalition’s women’s conference this year.

Lisa correctly pointed out that churches very often have various sub-groups such as Junior Church, Youth Group, Single’s Ministry and support groups for people in various types of addiction. And, while I see merit in separating men and women in certain circumstances, I question the wisdom of splintering believers into so many different factions.  Such segregation fragments the Body of Christ into special interest groups rather than encouraging it to unify around our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.

I know some of you are scratching your heads, wondering whether I’m a blazing hypocrite or if dementia is setting in now that I’m mere months away from turning 65. You probably want to remind me of how vehemently I insist that the only men who should read my blog are my husband and the elders of First Baptist Church Weymouth. My parameters probably don’t make much sense, given that I don’t even write about women’s issues.

Okay, I’ve occasionally considered writing about menopause, just to discourage male readers. 🙂

I blog about matters that all Christians, regardless of gender (or anything else), need to understand. Nothing I write applies exclusively to women. Men could most likely learn from some of the things I discuss on this cute little spot of cyberspace. In fact, the men who ignore my pleas to close my blog in favor of blogs written by men indeed have learned things from my writing.

I have only one reason for trying to restrict my writing to women: obedience.

12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. ~~1 Timothy 2:12-14 (ESV)

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. ~~Titus 2:3-5 (ESV)

I realize that many people believe 1 Timothy 2:12-14 applies specifically to church settings, and they may well be correct. All the same, I prefer to err on the side of caution by confining The Outspoken TULIP to women. My policy is less about creating a separate group within the Body of Christ than about my responsibility to use my gift of teaching in a manner that honors Christ.

So, although Lisa Robinson made an understandable point, I believe breaking Christ’s Body into too many segments fosters unnecessary division. As Christians, let’s focus on our unity around sound doctrine that leads us to Christ.

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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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The Obvious Truth That Christians Forget

Rainbow Bible02The LBGTQ agenda to force Western society to celebrate various forms of sexual orientation and/or expression poses a particular threat to Bible-believing Christians. Some of you may be thinking, “Well duh, DebbieLynne, tell us something we don’t know!” And yes, most Christians understand that there is tremendous pressure — pressure that increases daily — to affirm their lifestyles as good and wholesome.

What many don’t understand, however, is how relentless LBGTQ activists are about enforcing their agenda. I’d always thought that, once they got same sex marriage they’d be happy. As a matter of fact, I remember copious assurances that legalizing same sex marriage wouldn’t affect heterosexuals.

Then faith-based adoption agencies had to either place children with same sex couples or close their doors. Christian florists, bakers and photographers who refused to lend their creative talents for same sex weddings faced litigation, with some losing their businesses. All the while, secular adoption agencies and wedding vendors would probably be delighted to take their money.

But you know all these things, don’t you? Why am I spending time blogging about things that I don’t even need to document because everyone knows about them?

I blog about the efforts to enforce universal celebration of LBGTQ causes because eventually proponents of those causes will demand legal sanctions against pastors who dare to preach that homosexuality is sinful. You might argue that such  a thing would never really happen. Certainly not in the United States of America!

Twenty years ago, my mom said same sex marriage would never become legal in the United States.

Obviously, we shouldn’t regard individuals within the LBGTQ community as enemies. Some feel hostile toward Christians, yes, and the more militant ones definitely want to silence us from proclaiming God’s Word about proper contexts for human sexuality. They’ve seen us as their oppressors, and now they believe we can make amends only by enthusiastically affirming their lifestyles. I actually understand their perspective.

We most assuredly should treat them kindly and respectfully, as we would treat anyone with a life-dominating sin. At the same time, we mustn’t compromise God’s Word in an effort to placate them. They have begun to bully us, sincerely believing that we’ve bullied them for centuries. They unwittingly serve as Satan’s agents to bring down Christ’s Church.

Therefore we walk the delicate balance of loving them as individuals made in God’s image and standing firmly against the LBGTQ agenda. We will suffer persecution. Our pastors (and some us us) will go to prison. I don’t think many of us realize that LBGTQ issues will be the main vehicle for initiating persecution against Christians in the 21st Century.

Maybe you already know these things. But maybe you needed a reminder.

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A Warning From The SBC

SBC TrashJohn and I have been praying rather intently about the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. As Michelle Lesley wrote recently, the Convention has several serious problems needing correction right now. We see a sad and disturbing compromise with the world that alarms Al Mohler. In my opinion, conservative Christians in every denomination should be concerned. The compromise that threatens our denomination today could easily threaten your denomination or independent church tomorrow.

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. ~~1 Corinthians 10:12 (ESV)

Now is not a time for sanctimonious fingers to point, as if we’re somehow immune to the hypocrisy that, as I write, displays itself in Dallas this week. On the contrary, it’s a time for humility and prayer.

First, we must recognize our own flirtation with worldly ideas and philosophies. Let’s honestly admit that every one of us struggles with the temptation to bend Scripture to fit popular opinion. That temptation drives us to prayer and Scripture as we depend on the Lord to keep us from being double-minded.

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.~~James 4:4-8 (ESV)

Clearly, the push to elect a woman (possibly Beth Moore) as SBC president shows affinity with worldly standards. A denomination known for revering God’s Word should not play semantics in order to elevate a woman to a position of authority over men. Even if Beth Moore was doctrinally sound (which she isn’t), electing her to the presidency would send the message that secular culture determines how we interpret the Bible.

Wrong message, SBC!

Faithful Christians who love God’s Word should absolutely speak out against all the compromises in the SBC. We should earnestly pray that God would bring people to repentance, causing our denomination to unite around solid Biblical teaching, not around worldly ideas that require us to manipulate Scripture. Whether you’re within the Southern Baptist denomination or not, we desperately need your prayers that we submit to God’s Word during this crucial week.

But as you and I pray, let’s maintain and attitude of humility, remembering how easily we feel tempted to conform to worldly standards. The compromises in the SBC this week must serve as a warning to all Christians. Only by God’s grace can we remain faithful.

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Why Christians Sing About The Cross So Often

Once I read a complaint that Christians sing about the cross too often. What an odd complaint! True Christians understand that Christ’s work on the cross was absolutely pivotal to our salvation.

We sing about the cross because we know how our sins used to dominate our lives, locking us into rebellion agency the holy God Who created us. Those sins kept us hostile to Him, setting us on a path that could only lead to an eternity in hell. No amount of contrition, confession or repentance could atone for our sins. Even or apparent good works were tainted by our sin nature.

We sing about the cross because Jesus, in His mercy, took our vile sins upon Himself, accepting the full force of His Father’s righteous wrath. We deserved that wrath, but our innocent Lord, after living a righteous life, willingly took the punishment on our behalf. He loves us that much!

We sing about the cross because, in taking our sins upon Himself, Jesus assigned His righteousness to us. Consequently, the Father will declare us righteous just as He declared Jesus guilty. We fear no condemnation, but instead eagerly look forward to an eternity in heaven with Jesus, where we’ll forever praise Him as we sing about the cross.

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Saturday Sampler: June 3 — June 9

2006_0719DownTownCrossJuly060006We Christians can be a sneaky bunch, as evidenced by Doug Wilson’s short article, Calling It Something Else in Blog & Mablog. I hate to admit it, but he’s right.

As she often does, Leslie A tells it like it is in Is the Lord Still Speaking? She understands that many may disagree with this post in Growing 4 Life, but she risks unpopularity for the sake of God’s Word.  Furthermore, she makes her case by leaning entirely on careful reasoning from Scripture, showing how Scripture changed her thinking on this issue.

IMG_0795John MacArthur’s essay simply titled Judge Everything appears on the Grace To You Blog as a healthy challenge to practice discernment. He draws an important distinction between the type of judging prohibited in Scriptures like Matthew 7:1 and the type of judging that God commands believers to exercise. As false teaching multiples within evangelical circles, we desperately need to make Biblical judgments.

For his latest contribution to The Cripplegate, Jordan Standridge recounts An Encounter With a Mother-God Cult Evangelist that ministers to my insecurities about witnessing to cult members. Perhaps the Lord will embolden you through his words.

General WashingtonWith boldness and a reliance on both church history and God’s Word, Elizabeth Prata makes A Comment to the Snowflake Society in The End Time. She writes in response to Tweets Beth Moore made a couple weeks ago, having taken time to formulate her thoughts about the matter. In waiting, she balanced passion with reason, providing a much needed example of temperance in handling social media. While I recommend her blog post for that reason, I recommend it even more because her message desperately needs to reach Christian women!

IMG_3134Writing at Renewed in Truth, Lara d’Entremont affirms that Being Filled With the Holy Spirit isn’t the mystical experience that some would have us believe it to be.

I love the way Michelle Lesley reasons from Scripture! Her timely blog post, Solving Misogyny — You’re Doing It Wrong, minces no words in confronting the latest push for women to have unbiblical positions of church leadership. Thankfully,  Michelle relies solely on God’s Word to make her case and offer godly solutions to a very real and serious problem within the Church.

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