Wednesday, July 30, 2014

New Doesn't Always Improve

Proverbs 22:28 lays out an interesting principle:

Do not move the ancient landmark
    that your fathers have set. (ESV)

When I read it this morning, I wondered if it could apply to the current practice of updating doctrine that characterizes the Emergent Church, the Gay Christian Movement, the Church Growth Movement and other groups that adjust Scripture so that it complies with 21st Century culture. So, not wanting to interpret this  verse through the grid of my experience with the parties I've just mentioned, I turned to some of my commentaries.

The Believer's Bible Commentary addressed the verse  by explaining its original (and literal) meaning, followed by its spiritual application for Christians:
22:28   The ancient landmark was a series of stones which indicated the boundaries of a person's property. Dishonest people often moved them during the night to increase the size of their farm at their neighbor's expense.
Spiritually, the ancient landmarks would be "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). The fundamental doctrines of Christianity should not be tampered with.

John Gill's Commentary agreed, though with the wordiness and flourishes that I've come to expect from Gill.
Remove not the ancient landmark which thy fathers have set. Or, "the ancient border" or "boundary" (n); by which lands, estates, and inheritances, were marked, bounded, and distinguished; set by ancestors in agreement with their neighbours; which to remove was contrary to a law, and a curse is denounced upon those that did it, Deu_19:14; and was always reckoned a very heinous crime in early times; See Gill on Job_24:2. This was so sacred a thing among the Romans, that they had a deity which presided over those bounds, and had its name from them. Some apply this, in a political sense, to laws of long standing, and customs of long prescription; and others interpret it, in a theological sense, of doctrines and practices settled by the fathers of the church; which, if understood of Christ and his apostles only, will be allowed; but if of the ancient fathers of the church that followed them, it should not be received; since they were but fallible men, and guilty of many errors and mistakes, both in doctrine and practice.
 Adam  Clarke, however, offered the strongest support for applying this verse to the preservation of tried-and-true doctrine.  His entry provided me with assurance that I had indeed made an appropriate connection.
Remove not the ancient landmark - Do not take the advantage, in ploughing or breaking up a field contiguous to that of thy neighbor, to set the dividing stones farther into his field that thou mayest enlarge thy own. Take not what is not thy own in any case. Let all ancient divisions, and the usages connected with them, be held sacred. Bring in no new dogmas, nor rites, nor ceremonies, into religion, or the worship of God, that are not clearly laid down in the sacred writings. “Stand in the way; and see, and ask for the old paths, which is the good way, and walk therein; and ye shall find rest for your souls;” Jer_6:16. But if any Church have lost sight of the genuine doctrines of the Gospel, calling them back to these is not removing the ancient landmarks, as some have falsely asserted. God gave a law against removing the ancient landmarks, by which the inheritances of tribes and families were distinguished. See Deu_19:14, from which these words of Solomon appear to be taken.
Progressive evangelical churches almost boast in  their rejection of old ways, thinking that keeping pace with current cultural norms opens the door to effective evangelism. Admittedly, many of these churches manage to fill their auditoriums with young double-income families, but do they produce regenerate believers who understand sound doctrine that affects their every day lives? Only by respecting ancient doctrinal landmarks can we  give the next generation the true  Gospel.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Sin Of Questioning Beth Moore

Beth Moore's devoted fans may raise additional questions about Moore's  ministry. For quite some time, I incurred the wrath of a friend who had been "blessed" by Moore's books and Bible Studies. This friend expressed sadness that I'd read (and shared) articles by Moore's critics rather than exposing myself directly to Beth Moore and consequently allowing myself to experience the blessing of her teaching.

So, wanting to be fair, I spent several hours on YouTube, watching videos of Mrs. Moore "minister" to women by twisting Scripture, telling funny stories and making veiled references to abuse she suffered in childhood that somehow validates her ministry now. I love her Southern drawl, to be sure, and couldn't help laughing over some of her stories, but whatever blessing I should have received eluded me. I saw, not a woman skilled in expositing the Bible, but a false teacher who distorted the very Word of God she claimed to revere to fit her "gospel" of self-esteem.

When I'd show my friend instances in which Moore misconstrued Scripture, she'd deflect by calling me a Pharisee. How dare I withhold the "blessing" from people by posting articles on Facebook that question Moore's teaching? (As if my calling Moore's teaching into question had the power to prevent anyone from reading her books or watching her videos!)

When I posted Chris Rosebrough's analysis of Beth Moore's teaching the other day, my friend couldn't contain her anger. I asked her to show me, from Scripture, how Rosebrough's actual analysis of Moore's teaching erred. Rather than offering a reasoned answer with Scripture, she ended our friendship because I "ripped" her "friend."

Losing this friend saddens me, but it also concerns me. Is it really so terrible to hold someone's doctrine up against the plumbline of God's Word? The fact that my friend preferred to end our relationship than to examine Moore's teaching alarms me. If she typifies Beth Moore's followers, than Beth Moore is far more dangerous than I thought.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Bare Bunny

Let's take a break from serious posts. Here's my latest Paintshop Pro creation. I haven't yet decided what to put in his "hands," or how to dress him,  but he's cute even as he is!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Beth Moore Twist

Reading the Bible in context sometimes means that a verse won't mean what it could mean if we just isolated it from the rest of the passage, tweaking it ever so cleverly so that it fits our particular agenda. If you listened to the episode of Pirate Christian Radio that I posted yesterday, you'll see how popular teacher Beth Moore did just that very thing by making Hebrews 10:36-37 apply to self-confidence rather than confidence in Christ's shed blood to secure our salvation.

Mrs. Moore understands that women generally believe that they lack healthy self-esteem, so she used the phrase "Don't throw away your confidence" as a springboard for her   'Atta Girl pep talk.

Doubtless, that talk encouraged numberless hurting women, assuring them that Jesus "believes in" them. How could anybody criticize her for making women feel good about themselves? After all, Ephesians 4:29 says we should build each other up with our speech!

Well, the verse does say that, but let's look at the context:

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. ~~Ephesians 4:17-32 (ESV)

Using Scripture fragments as dishonestly as Beth Moore used Hebrews 10:36-37 may build up feminine egos, granted, but Paul meant building up the Church in a holiness that reflects Christ. Notice Paul's emphasis on putting away falsehood, and renouncing sensuality. How in the world does the misapplication of Hebrews 10:36-37 for the purpose of making women feel good about themselves possibly produce the type of edification that Ephesians 4:17-32 describes?

Beth Moore preaches a god that flatters women, and she does so by isolating Scripture from its context and wrongly applying it. I don't question her compassion for hurting women, nor do I doubt her sincerity. But wouldn't her ministry honor the Lord better by handling God's Word on His terms rather than her own?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Beth Moore, Confidence, And Looking At Scripture

Chris Rosebrough of Fighting for the Faith's Pirate Christian Radio did an insightful (and quite amusing) analysis of Beth Moore's teaching, "Don't Throw Away Your Confidence," which she based on Hebrews 10:36-37. I know it's quite long--over an hour--but it will allow you to hear both Beth Moore and Pastor Rosebrough's critique. Carve out some time to listen.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Missing Videos

For quite some time, E. Benz of Do Not Be Surprised and Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries have been blogging about their concerns over Beth Moore's claims that God speaks directly to her (even addressing her as "Honey" or "Baby"). Lately, I've found more assessment of Ms. Moore's "prophetic ministry" on Elizabeth Prata's The End Time blog, this time based on Ms. Prata's first-hand experiences. Each of these bloggers carefully documented their critiques of Ms. Moore's teachings with videos.

These videos provided enormous help in evaluating Beth Moore's ministry. Most of her videos on YouTube, while they certainly show that Moore's teaching centers mostly on what Jesus does for us rather than on Who He is, take Scripture out of context so subtly that most people believe she shows good Biblical scholarship. Indeed, she knows Greek words enough to appear as educated as any seminary graduate.

Yet the claims she makes of prophetic revelations cause great alarm to those of us who believe in the sufficiency of Scripture. To properly evaluate her ministry, therefore, it helps to understand that her theology allows for revelation beyond the written Word of  God. E. Benz, Ken Silva and Elizabeth Prata all posted videos that substantiate  Beth Moore's assertions of extra-biblical revelation. I've watched several of the videos, and saw from them that Ms. Moore teaches false doctrine by her claims of direct revelation.

As I searched YouTube this past week, all the videos in which Beth Moore recounted her "conversations with God" had vanished. So I consulted Do Not Be Surprised and The End Time. When I clicked the videos embedded in their blog posts, I got messages that those videos were either "private" or "not available." Thankfully, Ken Silva had downloaded them to reformat them for his blog, so we still have them.

The four of us have no wish to assault Beth Moore's character, nor may we pass ultimate judgment on her salvation. But, like the Bereans in Acts 17:10-11, we examine her teaching, ministry and conduct against Scripture. The missing videos troubled us. Their disappearance troubles us even more.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dreaming Of A 17th Century Vision

The Lord, through my marriage to John, brought me to New England. Sometimes, I marvel at how He fulfilled my life-long dream for marriage and my life-long dream to experience Boston in one fell swoop. Another example of His generosity.

Living here has given me a sense of connection with the Puritans who first settled this area in the 17th Century. John Winthrop summarized his vision for the Christian community that came with him on the Arabella in 1630 in his famous "City on the Hill" sermon (properly titled, A Model of Christian Charity). The four paragraphs that close the sermon demonstrate the sense of mission and the devotion to the Lord that formed the bedrock of New England's culture:


Thus stands the cause between God and us. We are entered into covenant with Him for this work. We have taken out a commission. The Lord hath given us leave to draw our own articles. We have professed to enterprise these and those accounts, upon these and those ends. We have hereupon besought Him of favor and blessing. Now if the Lord shall please to hear us, and bring us in peace to the place we desire, then hath He ratified this covenant and sealed our commission, and will expect a strict performance of the articles contained in it; but if we shall neglect the observation of these articles which are the ends we have propounded, and, dissembling with our God, shall fall to embrace this present world and prosecute our carnal intentions, seeking great things for ourselves and our posterity, the Lord will surely break out in wrath against us, and be revenged of such a people, and make us know the price of the breach of such a covenant.
Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck, and to provide for our posterity, is to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end, we must be knit together, in this work, as one man. We must entertain each other in brotherly affection. We must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of others’ necessities. We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality. We must delight in each other; make others’ conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, as members of the same body. So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. The Lord will be our God, and delight to dwell among us, as His own people, and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways, so that we shall see much more of His wisdom, power, goodness and truth, than formerly we have been acquainted with. We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when He shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, "may the Lord make it like that of New England." For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God, and all professors for God's sake. We shall shame the faces of many of God's worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whither we are going.
And to shut this discourse with that exhortation of Moses, that faithful servant of the Lord, in his last farewell to Israel, Deut. 30. "Beloved, there is now set before us life and death, good and evil," in that we are commanded this day to love the Lord our God, and to love one another, to walk in his ways and to keep his Commandments and his ordinance and his laws, and the articles of our Covenant with Him, that we may live and be multiplied, and that the Lord our God may bless us in the land whither we go to possess it. But if our hearts shall turn away, so that we will not obey, but shall be seduced, and worship other Gods, our pleasure and profits, and serve them; it is propounded unto us this day, we shall surely perish out of the good land whither we pass over this vast sea to possess it.

Therefore let us choose life,
that we and our seed may live,
by obeying His voice and cleaving to Him,
for He is our life and our prosperity. 



Sadly, the New England of the 21st Century has done much more than simply abandoning Winthop's vision. It brazenly mocks its godly principles. Finding a church that faithfully preaches God's Word requires monumental effort, and even the churches that promote themselves as "Bible Believing" capitulate to the marketing strategies of the Church Growth Movement and/or the elevation of personal experience that typify Pentecostal and Charismatic churches.

I find it heartbreaking that this region, which once honored the Lord, has indeed seen its Christians all but perish from its land, just as Winthrop warned. I pray we'll turn back to Christ, once again to serve as a beacon of light. That type of repentance would be more than a dream-come-true!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Judgment Of Grace

Until recently, the  book of  Hebrews pretty  much  baffled me, primarily because  I had always read it without giving much consideration to its background. Understanding that the writer wrote this letter to Jewish Christians who, being accustomed to atoning for their sins by observing the Covenant Law given through Moses, had fallen back into the sacrificial system helps me follow the progression of thought. The unnamed writer of this letter sought to correct his readers from backsliding into Judaism by showing them Christ's superiority over Moses.

Today I worked through Hebrews 4,  in which the writer chastised his original readers for their failure and disobedience. Although the original readers knew that Christ had made the ultimate atonement for sin, they refused to trust the sufficiency of His work on the cross. The implicit insistence against resting in Christ's shed blood constituted the disobedience of unbelief.

21st Century evangelicals can commit the same sin of unbelief by turning to various human inventions to augment their faith. Any expectation that we can contribute to our salvation through sacraments, Charismatic practices, good works, dietary rules or whatever else our inflated egos devise rebels against obedient faith demonstrates willful unbelief. Therefore, the following warning applies to us just as certainly as it applied to the First Century Jewish Christians.

11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. ~~Hebrews 4:11-13  (ESV)

Through Scripture, the Lord will  both expose and judge the refusal to obey God by resting in what He's done. (He will expose  and judge other expressions of disobedience as well.) We may  convince other people--and even ourselves--of our spirituality, but the Lord will judge us by His Word, laying us naked before Him.   I suppose so many people adulterate or hate the Bible for this very reason.

The Lord, however, doesn't leave His elect  stranded in judgement. After all, true faith finds rest in Christ, trusting His gentle grace. And so, guided by the Holy Spirit, the writer of  Hebrews brings our gaze back to Jesus.


14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. ~~Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV)


Monday, July 21, 2014

Transformed Tastebuds

In the past few years, John and I have been eating more fruits and vegetables, and simultaneously less processed foods. I  can't remember the last time we bought a frozen dinner. Having grown up eating   convenience foods and drinking anything  carbonated, I took little interest in proper nutrition until I began having health issues that spurred my doctor to impose dietary restrictions on me. John's heart attack and cancer have inspired us to further modifications, such as hardly ever eating red meat.

We went to the local supermarket today, and I found myself excited by a  sale on Haas avocados and heartbroken that the peaches (that looked so beautiful) felt like the type that rot before they have a chance to ripen. But also, the frozen dinners and snack cakes that I used to crave held very little appeal, especially in comparison to my desire for fresh peaches. And I silently laughed, amused by my gastronomical transformation.

What a metaphor for the way feeding on God's Word transforms a Christian's appetite. The junk of the world becomes less and less appetizing as we acquire a taste for Jesus and the holiness that  accompanies knowing Him.

 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
    for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. ~~Psalm 34:8-10 (ESV)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Magnify The Precious Name Of Jesus

Again, I got caught up in research, so had little time to look for a hymn, But I wanted one that magnified the Name of Jesus, so when we sang "Wonderful Grace of Jesus" in church this morning, I knew it fit the bill perfectly!


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Excuse Me While I Study

An hour ago, I had loads of time to blog. Wanting to research the topic of whether or not Scripture allows for naming false teachers publicly, I kept reading "just one more" article and looking up "just a few more" Scripture. As a result, I now have too little time to address the topic for myself.

And that time of study, even though it took away my time to write, actually gives my blogging more integrity. It brings me under the tutelage of  Christians  more knowledgeable than I, as well as helping me pinpoint the Scriptures that I vaguely knew (but couldn't locate off the top of my head). Studying the  matter gives me better assurance that naming false teachers offers people protection from the rapidly proliferating heresies that infest evangelical churches today.

1Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
6If you put these things before the brothers,a you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 7Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10For to this end we toil and strive,b because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. ~~1 Timothy 4:1-10 (ESV)
 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Doctrinal Purity And Unacknowled Pharisees

My insistence on sound doctrine as an essential element in choosing a church has, more than once, spurred people to call me a Pharisee, either directly or by insinuation. People making that connection also sometimes point out the perils of dead orthodoxy, reminding me that the Lord cares more about how I live than about my finer points of theology. In some respects, I understand their concerns.

Yet the apparent hostility to the idea that sound doctrine (by which I mean the teachings of the Bible)  matters troubles me. The rallying cry to disregard doctrine "for the sake of unity" often tolerates (or even promotes) violations of Scripture such as Contemplative Prayer, pragmatism, women in leadership and the acceptance and celebration of homosexuality. Some who bristle at the word "doctrine" believe these are secondary matters. Others still recognize  that the Bible does prohibit homosexual behavior, but increasing numbers of evangelicals now question the "traditional interpretations" of "the six clobber passages."

Those who express concern over the erosion of doctrine, which in turn opens the door to aberrant practices, equate  conservative Christians with the Pharisees of Jesus' earthly ministry, charging that we live by the "dead letter" of Scripture rather than by the Spirit of the Living God. I shall resist the temptation to embark on a lengthy discussion of their hypocrisy in making that judgment. Instead, I want to give attention to their implication that God's Holy Word is a "dead letter" that requires human intervention to revive it.

Hebrews 4:12 describes God's Word as "living and active." Additionally, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 teaches  both that the Spirit of the  Living God authored each word of Scripture, and that  Scripture adequately gives us all the teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness necessary for serving Him. Far from being a "dead letter" that opposes the Spirit, the Bible is His sword, operating by His power.

The Pharisees dogmatically  claimed that they adhered strictly to God's Word, and fiercely objected to the "new" doctrines that Jesus proclaimed. In reality, however, Jesus routinely brought them back to the original intent of His Word, rebuking them for corrupting it with their traditions, loopholes and embellishments. For example:

Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:
“‘This people honors me with their lips,
    but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
    teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” ~~Matthew 15:1-9 (ESV)

Could it be that the  real Pharisees shun the pure doctrine of God's Word, preferring the human traditions that now creep into churches that claim fidelity to the Bible? Could a return to the doctrinal purity of Scripture pose a threat to their unacknowledged doctrine of cultural accommodation? Perhaps not, but they might consider the possibility, especially before attaching the label to those of us who stand for sound doctrine.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Guest Blogger Examines New England's Dimming Light

Elizabeth Prata, of The End Time, as graciously granted me permission to repost her post, Mission New England: the city on a hill where the light has (almost) gone  out. Thank you, Elizabeth, for being my first  guest blogger. Her links appear in boldface.

,,,,,

New England is comprised of 6 states: Maine, New Hampshire Vermont (northern New England) and Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut (southern New England). Five, and sometimes all six of these states are listed in surveys in the top ten most Godless states in the US.

Providence RI is listed as one of the 'least bible-minded' cities in the US. This is ironic, given its name.

Portland Maine is known as one of the most homosexual friendly and tolerant cities in the US.

Spiritually, New England is dark. I know. I lived there for 42 years. For those who were saved by grace at an early age, or were raised in a Christian home or even live in the south or Midwest ... perhaps this next statement will seem strange to you. But growing up in New England means that one can never go to church, never see anyone else go to church, never hear talk of church, never hear the name Jesus, never see a bible store or a Christian store. Never see a cross. As embedded as the visible Christian life is in the south, it is just as invisible in the north.

One of the oldest church buildings and the biggest, located in the most prominent place, the center of my old town, has no displayed cross outside. The Methodist Church and the Congregational Church staff female lead pastors. There is no bible store in town (no book store at all, as least as far as I know). Jesus doesn't live in most of the people there and thus He isn't seen in the culture.

New England needs missionaries. To that end, NETS is a church planting mission aimed at New England. Does it seem strange to you that New England is as dark as Norway? Or India? They write,
The New England landscape is dotted with white steeples and picturesque churches. But
North Yarmouth church. EPrata photo
look closer, and you’ll find pulpits that once held gospel preachers like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield now proclaiming Universalism, Liberalism and postmodernism. Halls that once echoed classic hymns stand eerily silent behind “For Sale” signs. Many church buildings have already been converted into shops and condos. And influential colleges like Harvard, Yale and Brown, founded to train gospel preachers, now lead the way into spiritual darkness. With the exception of Mormon Utah, New England is the most gospel-parched region of the nation.
Portland is one of the toughest regions to be on mission with the gospel: Some 59% of residents are considered “post-Christian.” ... As shown by this homosexual publication reports that Portland, Maine is one of the top five surprisingly gay towns.
Portland Maine is on our gaydar... Home to one of the biggest per capita LGBT populations on the east coast and now host of the entirely enticing Frostbite ME weekend (early March, dates TBA), a LGBT winter celebration with an alluring array of homo hijinks, activities, and events that launched in 2008, Portland is Maine's captivating largest city (population 65,000). Portland has a venerable gay bar, Blackstones, and Styxx Video Club (3 Spring Street), where the dance floor and pool tables are popular with women on Thursdays and Saturdays.
The Portland Press Herald reported, "Maine a mecca for gay couples; Experts attribute the numbers to the state’s gay-friendly laws and its history of tolerance."
A long-dead New England church that is now an antique store
This is the very spot in the world where European men and women of faith left all they knew to travel to a new and dangerous world, in pursuit of freedom to worship Jesus. They stepped off the Mayflower in 1620 Plymouth Massachusetts, survived, thrived, founded cities, and seminaries. Harvard College was originally a seminary institution of higher learning for men to be trained in the Gospel. So was Yale and Princeton and most other New England higher learning institutes that were founded over 300 years ago.

Harvard's crest stated Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae (Truth for Christ and the Church) and their charter proposal read thus:
After God had carried us safe to New England and we had builded our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, reared convenient places for God's worship, and settled the civil government: One of the next things we longed for and looked after was to advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches, when our present ministers shall lie in the dust.
And so a mere 6 years after landing in Plymouth, the Puritans founded Harvard College in 1636.

And so satan went to work.

In 1803 Harvard voted out the Calvinist President and voted in an anti-Trinitarian president. In 1869 Harvard dropped the "Christ and Church" from their motto and crest, leaving only "Veritas", (Truth). Cementing the long, liberal decline, Harvard expanded their mission statement in 2008,
To help in building a world in which people can live and work together across religious and cultural divides, we strive to be a primary resource in religious and theological studies for the academy, for religious communities, and in the public sphere.... 
because,
A well-educated student of religion must have a deep and broad understanding of more than a single religious tradition; [emphasis mine]
Bangor (Maine) Theological Seminary is 200 years old and liberal as liberal can be. It was not always so. Like Harvard, it was founded by a conservative Calvinist minister in the Puritan tradition. Rev. Jonathan Fisher of Blue Hill Maine was concerned that there was no institute of Christian higher learning in northern New England. Then, 'Harvard defected, and so had many other clergymen and churches.' (source). BTS was founded. Though it started out well, it ended up committed to scholarship, just not biblical scholarship. They adhered to ecumenical learning and the ever-deadly free thought. Another New England seminary had fallen. This month, conservative New England Bible College in Maine closed its doors, for lack of enrollments. The people of New England, its churches and its seminaries reject Jesus.

John Winthrop was the long term original governor of Boston, the first city of Massachusetts Bay Colony after Plymouth. He preached to the Puritans as they emigrated that theirs was a holy endeavor and they would found a holy "city upon a hill". This was his famous "Modell of Christian Charity" sermon. Winthrop wrote it aboard the ship Arbella, (I edited the language from 1630 to today's)
Winthrop: 2nd, 6th, 9th, & 12th Governor
of the Massachusetts Bay Colony

We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when he shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, "the Lord make it likely that of New England." For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill."
The city upon a hill was from Matthew 5:14. Winthrop was so right in his next paragraph-
The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world.

Because Jesus IS hope ... rather than lament the loss of our original Christian identity, one pastor in New England (a friend of mine) wrote this week an encouraging message. The decline we are seeing, the degradation of the name of Jesus in the wider community, is nothing new. It is nothing unexpected. Knowing this, we can persevere in joy and hope! He wisely wrote:

-----------------------------

As many families and church families struggle to meet their financial obligations amid an uncertain economy and an increasing global conflict, major changes are affecting everyone. Some folks may even sense a spirit of discouragement or worse, despair. Some folks simply dismiss what is happening in our world, as they are tired of all the bad news. Hmmm, it reminds me of the times Habakkuk lived.

God told the prophet, Habakkuk, that Israel's worst and most fearsome enemy was coming to destroy the nation and carry off many people into captivity because of Israel's idolatry and sinfulness. While Habakkuk wrestled with God on this issue, the prophet came to understanding that "the just shall live by faith" (2:4). As a result, Habakkuk accepted the inevitable judgment of God upon Israel by offering up praise to God.

As I close this email with the prophet's words (3:17-19), remember, that no matter how difficult the times may get for our lives, our families, our church families, and our nation, God will be your strength as you walk with Him.

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet, I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's
he makes me tread on my high places.

-------------------------------------

Oh Puritan New England, what happened? Satan happened!

The great preacher George Whitefield preached about satan's schemes.
But Satan is most known for his remarkable ability to use his cleverness against mankind. Since he is not given power from God to take us by force, he is therefore required to wait for opportunities to betray us, and to catch us by the use of deception. He, therefore, made use of the serpent, which was the most crafty of all the beasts of the field, in order to tempt our first parents; and accordingly he and his accomplices are described in the New Testament as being cunning and crafty in their deceitful scheming. In the words of our text, this morning, the Apostle says, "We are not unaware of his schemes:" thereby implying, that we are more in danger of being seduced by his system of deception, than overpowered by his strength.
The people of New England throughout the recent centuries were overpowered by stealth. Little by deadly little, they succumbed. Satan entered into their minds, and led them away from the pure doctrines of the bible. They were not vigilant! Satan seduced them into installing women pastors. He slithered in to its seminaries and lured them into ecumenicalism. He is the angel of craft and subtlety. No guns were needed. No swords were drawn. The battle has been long, and it has been silent, but it has been a success. They forgot Jesus. Veritas. But no Christo.

But Jesus does not forget them! He raises up faithful pastors to staff solidly biblical churches there! He sends missionaries to plant churches in its frigid mountains where hearts need the light of God! He sustains the beleaguered congregations persevering in a place that is as corrupt as Corinth! God is good. Our High Priest, Jesus, ministers to the hearts of those who love Him, few as they may be in that northern place.

Pray for our stalwart missionaries, pastors, and brethren who dwell in a place where once the lamp was shining on a hill, but now shines only dimly in laboring flickers here and there.

No matter where we are in the world, spiritual decline is inevitable. Fear not! The world hates Jesus. (John 15:18). No matter what the type of beginning a nation had, high or low, sacred or profane, all will fall. All parts of all nations will fall. Satan is working mightily to try and overthrow heaven's gates. The areas we hold dear, where we grew up, or where we live now, will some day be renewed! Every Christian who dwells in the places that are so dark now, will cry with joy when the Light comes. Jesus will revive every ember, bursting into glory light of pure and holy truth.

Until then, pray for New England.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

This Daughter's Last Letter

Thursday morning, I wrote and mailed my last letter to  my mother. Although she died before it arrived, I believe the Lord still has a purpose for it, so I've decided to share it here.

Dearest Mom,

Thank you for raising me with high moral standards and a sense of manners. During my sojourn in Memphis, many of the nurses commented that most people born with disabilities don’t show consideration for others, and they all attributed my thoughtfulness to your  influence on me. I agree. You instilled qualities in me that have made me the kind of woman I had always wanted to be. You deserve much praise for how I turned out.

I also thank you for allowing me to live as normally as possible.  The college education you gave me may not have landed me a lucrative career, but I enjoy writing, and I cherish all the memories of my days at Dominican. Thank you for all you did to make college possible for me.

Additionally, I’m grateful for all the travel opportunities that you gave me.  Wales, of course, was the most exciting trip I ever took.  I remember how you practically pushed me onto that plane, determined that you would not let me miss such a glorious opportunity!  There are no words to thank you for that precious time in my life!

Over the past few months, I have been thinking about a conversation you and I had in the  early 1980’s.  You probably don’t remember this at all, but it’s a conversation I would like to revisit because I gave you a very inadequate answer at the time.  Ready?  Here we go…

E___ B___________ had  invited me to a play at her church, and you were feeding me dinner before she came to get me.  As we were eating, you asked me what it meant to be a born-again Christian.  I forget what I said, but I made it pretty obvious to you (and to myself) that I really didn't know the answer.

In the last few years, I have learned what spiritual regeneration means from a Biblical perspective, and I wanted to give you a more educated answer to your question.  Maybe I’m more of an adult now, and can reason a little more adeptly.  So I want to begin with a Scripture passage that introduces the concept of being born-again.


Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life,
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. ~~John 3:1-18 (ESV)

Nicodemus was a Pharisee, which means he was highly educated in the Jewish Scriptures, and thought he knew what God wanted of people.  But Jesus pointed out that merely keeping God’s commands (which nobody could possibly keep anyway) wasn’t enough to make him suitable to be in God’s presence.  Nicodemus, as well anyone else, needed the Holy Spirit to make him an entirely new person.

Let me tell you how that happened in my life, and perhaps it will become a little less abstract.

I had been reading the Bible, wanting to know if what I felt for a certain boy was “true love.”  As I read, I came across the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount.  One of the beatitudes said “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  Then I looked up 1st Corinthians 13 -- the love chapter -- only to read the phrase, “love is not self seeking.”  Those two verses confronted me with the fact that I was unworthy to spend eternity in God’s presence.  I knew that was going to hell.

Two weeks later J______ told me that Jesus had paid the penalty for my sin when He died on the Cross.  When God raised Him from the dead three days later, the resurrection signified that God accepted His sacrifice.  Those who believe in Him, trusting that His shed blood is the only acceptable payment for their sin, and the only basis for them to enter eternity with God, will be raised to eternal life.  Immediately I knew that if Jesus died for me, I owed it to Him to live for Him.

Quite admittedly my transformation has been much slower than it should have been.  I’ve often considered myself “spiritually retarded” because I have continued to live in ways that don’t reflect my Heavenly Father’s character.  But over the past 2 or 3 years, I have been allowing the Lord to change me as I’ve applied the Bible to my personal life.

Do you remember how I started this letter?  I talked about how you instilled character qualities into me.  By my behavior, the nurses in Memphis knew what kind of woman you were, and they all commented on your good character.  Similarly, the Holy Spirit did something in me back in 1971 to make me God’s daughter – I was born again.  As I now read the Bible and learn my Heavenly Father’s character, I begin to exhibit that same character in my daily life.  Do I do it perfectly?  In my dreams!  But I do see steady, and remarkable, change as I keep submitting to Him and imitating His ways.  Just as I was born of you physically, and exhibits many of your characteristics, so I am born of Him spiritually.

I hope this letter explains what being a born-again Christian is.  I know that Jesus died for my sins, and that He was raised from the dead so I will be raised with Him to eternal life when I die.  He has given me faith to believe these things, and that faith enables me to turn from things that displease God, so that I can do the things that honor Him. Even in this, I cannot take credit for doing what is right – His Spirit in me empowers me to trust and obey Him.

I don’t know how much of this makes sense to you, but it’s a spiritual matter that cannot be fully explained in human terms.  I just hope that it is a more adequate explanation than I gave you that night before E___ came to pick me up. I know that if the Lord allows you to experience this new birth, He will give you a fuller understanding of what that means.

Finally Mom, I want to thank you for encouraging my relationship with John.  So many of the qualities that attracted me to him are qualities that I admire in you.  Even though this marriage has separated me from you (the one thing I haven’t liked about being married to John), I have never been so happy or so fulfilled in my life!  I know you’ve been happy for us, and I appreciate the love and respect you’ve shown John.

I love you, Mom. I love your humor, and often entertain people with funny stories about you, or stories that you have told us about yourself.  I love how lady-like you are, and wish I could be that lady-like. (Oh well…you can’t have everything!)  I love your caring concern for your children and grandchildren as well as all our friends – no wonder so many of our friends call you “Mom.”  I love your uncomplaining attitude, and the way you enjoyed life to the fullest.  You inspire me, but you also inspire everybody that knows you.  You are one amazing woman, and it’s my honor to be your daughter.  I love you so much!

With much love,
Deb

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mom's Dream, My Reality

When Mom graduated from high school in 1932 (having skipped two grades), the Great Depression prevented her from realizing her dream of attending college. An avid reader, she'd wanted to be a writer. So when I learned to type, she decided to achieve her dream vicariously through me.

In high school, I took Creative Writing for three years, followed by Mr. Shough's Writing Skills class. If I'd wanted to pursue a different course of study, I suppressed such inclinations. Dutifully, I even took Latin to fulfill my foreign language requirement because Mom thought it would help my English vocabulary.

With Mom at my college graduation
I chose to attend Dominican University of California, and she convinced me to major in English Literature with an emphasis on writing. Although counseling interested me more, the one psychology class I took ran so counter to Biblical teaching that I gratefully acquiesced to her plan for my college career by sticking with English  Lit.  And so, adoring Sister Nicholas as she led me  from Chaucer and Dante to Tennyson and the Brownings, I enjoyed the college experience that Mom had wanted for herself.

At various times during my early adulthood, I resented Mom for pushing writing on me. I know my choice to work as a correspondence counselor and newsletter editor for an ex-gay ministry disappointed her, despite the fact that my job required writing skills. Christian ministry hadn't factored into her plan for me. But she supported me anyway.

These past eight years of blogging have renewed my love for writing. Regretfully, Mom had a phobia about computers (our two conversations on Skype using my sister's laptop thoroughly bewildered her), so she only got to read a couple of my posts. But I appreciate all she did to make me a writer-turned-blogger. This blog has given me the delight in writing that the Great Depression never permitted her to enjoy, and I praise God that, because of her, I can keep this blog. Thanks, Lord, that I followed Mom's dream.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014

This Week With Neena

When John and I called California to wish my mother a happy Fourth of July, my sister informed us that Mom was napping. I asked if anything was wrong, since Mom didn't usually nap during the day, but my sister only responded by reminding me that Neena (our pet name for Mom) was 98 years old. I accepted her answer, and went on with my afternoon.

Sunday we called again, this time after supper--our  usual time to call. My older niece answered, and told us Neena was napping and my sister had gone to work. I could hear my niece's kids in the background, and thought it  very uncharacteristic for my Southern mom to leave guests so unattended. My niece assured me that Mom was okay,  but John and I went to bed suspecting something had changed.

Monday morning, Mom answered.  "I might as well tell you," she said, "my cancer came back about two months ago. Okay, now the whole family knows." Neena, being a private person to excess, hadn't wanted me to know. Partly, she didn't want to upset me, and partly she feared that I'd say something on Facebook. Much to my surprise, she requested that I ask people to pray for her, though I tried to use discretion in who I asked...especially in my church  in California.

Each day I communicated with my sister and her two daughters, but Neena never could talk when I called. I spent time updating those who prayed, as well as writing her a letter. Being 3000 miles away didn't lessen my involvement or activity.

John and I had made plans to meet a friend in Boston for lunch yesterday, and we knew Mom would be angry if we canceled those plans on her account. Not wanting to arouse my mother's Irish temper, we took the bus to the subway station, and  caught the train to Downtown Crossing. We needed a day of fun!

We got  to Boston Common and called my sister to ask if Mom felt up  to talking. That's when my sister told us Mom had passed during the night. As we hung up, the bell  tower at Park Street Church started playing its noon hymns. I love hearing those hymns on the Common, so I appreciate the Lord having me in my favorite place at my favorite time. Very special!

Taken Mother's Day of this year

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Blogs, Self-Pity And Worship

Dealing with personal matters kept me from starting this blog post as early as I'd expected, and as a result I don't believe I can adequately address the topic I had in mind for today. Perhaps that's okay.

A lot is going on in my life. The most predominant matter must remain private right now, even though writing about it would  appear to offer me release. My past of keeping a private journal has taught me, however, that writing about my problems, heartaches and struggles (especially when I know nobody will read it) usually fuels pessimism and self-pity. So neither private journaling nor blogging works for  handling the situation right now. In the future, yes...but not now.

So, dear readers, bear with me, trusting that I'll blog when time and circumstances permit, and that I'll keep my focus on glorifying the Lord and honoring His Word. Not masking my feelings, but directing my will to worship Him no matter what my emotional state. This blog has taught me to minimize  myself in order to place the  spotlight on Jesus...where it belongs.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Permission To Play In The Bedroom

The rise in illicit sexual behavior among those who claim to believe the Bible and love Jesus should shock me, but sadly it doesn't. Professing Christians increasingly read Scripture out of context and depend on "personal words" from "the Holy Spirit" apart from the Bible (which the real Holy Spirit inspired) to give them guidance.  Some sincerely believe that "God told" them that their sexual union constituted  marriage "in His eyes."

Additionally, Seeker-Sensitive churches, attempting to make  church more marketable attractive to the "unchurched," emphasize God's desire to offer personal fulfillment. Hypnotic "praise  songs" sometimes depict Jesus as a Divine Lover, using words and music that encourage romantic arousal. Meanwhile, fluffy motivational speaking,  augmented by dramas, visual aids, stand-up comedy and videos replace verse-by-verse expositional preaching that would challenge believers to holy conduct. By catering to feelings rather than presenting Biblical truth, Seeker-sensitive churches send the message that God values our happiness over and above our obedience to Him.

Bolstered by the elevation of experience over doctrine, young evangelicals see  little reason to postpone sex until marriage--especially if no proposal seems imminent. Or, if they are engaged, they use their betrothal as permission to act on their impulses. In any case, they concoct ways to believe that God allows or even sanctions their sexual misconduct because of His apparent promise to give them "the desires of their hearts."

Sex outside the boundaries of heterosexual marriage carries implications that other sins don't.

 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. ~~1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (ESV)

Yet this category of sin merely exposes the much deeper sin of rejecting the Lord's authority and failing to apply His power to resist sin. It demonstrates that people, despite their claims to love Jesus, still seek selfish pleasure rather than His honor. Thankfully, His blood can cover even that type of sin, and His Holy Spirit can empower us to repent and walk in obedience. Sound doctrine leads us to apply His gracious power. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fearing God Reasons Or Not

Saturday I shared probable reasons why the Lord forbids premarital sex...or any sexual behavior outside of heterosexual marriage. Evangelicals who engage in sexual immorality often dismiss  these reasons, arguing that churches should replace abstinence only messages with information about contraception. For these people, even the most reasoned arguments hold no water. Their determination to satisfy their desires shapes their interpretation of God's Word, rather than God's Word  conforming them to His standards.

During my personal Bible reading this morning, I read a Scripture that applies to how we should respond to the Lord's boundaries on sexual  conduct, as well as to every area of life.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. ~~Proverbs 9:10 (ESV)

We question, disregard or defiantly disobey the Lord because we neither respect His authority nor know Him enough to appreciate His wisdom and  holiness. Fear, which manifests itself as healthy respect for His authority, understands that He alone has the right to determine how we handle our sexuality. Furthermore, He has no obligation to explain His reasons. Although we can   discern some reasons because He kindly makes  them apparent, we best honor Him by trusting Him enough to obey even if we don't understand.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Better Than Mere Idols

What do you cherish? I mean, deep down...where nobody sees? When the mask comes off, and you face  naked truth, what really drives your life? Sex? Popularity? Money? Accomplishment?

Sometimes, worldly desires and goals displace the Lord's rightful place in my affections, and He needs to call me back to Himself. In truth, unless I keep my eyes steadfastly fixed on Him, I look to mere idols that will ultimately leave me disappointed. Ah, but when He gives me the grace to treasure Him, I realize along with the 8th Century Irish hymn writer that Jesus is the only Vision worth seeking.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Waiting Tilll Marriage...Reasons We'd Rather Ignore

Rather than listing the  Scriptures that deal with premarital sex, let me refer you to this list on OpenBible.info (and I agree that including John 11:35 is out of place). Take a moment to look through this list, or bookmark it and study the passages later. If you examine each Scripture in its context (except John 11:35), I believe you'll see that the Lord created sex to be enjoyed exclusively within heterosexual marriage.

Naturally, like most children indignant at the withholding of something pleasurable, we want to know why God puts such restrictions on sexual expression. Probe Ministries has an excellent article entitled Why Wait Till Marriage that explores several common arguments in favor of premarital sex by showing the fallacies in those arguments.

To Probe's article, I would add that the marriage covenant  reflects the mystery of Christ's relationship with His Church:

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. ~~Ephesians 5:22-33 (ESV)

I don't pretend to understand  this analogy completely (even Paul calls it a profound mystery), but I certainly get that Christ wants us to belong exclusively to Him. Several passages of Scripture, too numerous to  list here, make a correlation between dalliances with false worship and adultery. And, since  one can't be 100% sure that marriage will take place until he or she actually makes public vows and signs a legal  contract, sexual activity indeed constitutes adultery against that other person's eventual spouse, as well as one's own future spouse. So sex within heterosexual marriage mirrors the intimacy and exclusivity of Christ's relationship with His Church.

Yet the Huffington Post reports that 80% of young unmarried evangelicals engage in sexual activity, seeing little or no contradiction  between their behavior and Scripture's teaching. Though many of them may ask, "Why wait?'', I suspect few of them honestly want the answers.

Friday, July 4, 2014

"Appealing To The Supreme Judge Of The World"

As we  celebrate today's holiday (and those of us on the East Coast deal with the nasty effects of Tropical Storm Arthur), let's pause just a moment to read and  listen to the words of the Declaration of Independence as read by  Max McClean:


Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Work Of This "Housewife Blogger"

Many "housewife bloggers" write primarily about daily experiences, often drawing moral, philosophical or spiritual conclusions from those experiences. In doing so, they comply with the first rule of writing: "Write about what you know." Books like Louisa May Alcott's Little Women and the Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery repeat this advice, almost predictably. 

My favorite childhood book,  Emily Climbs (also by Lucy Maud Montgomery), emphasizes the theme of writing from experiences as well. Looking back, perhaps my grandmother gave me that book because I had dictated too many stories to her about things I wanted to do--things my able-bodied friends did--that had no connection to my actual life. At the time, of course, I pretty much ignored the advice. Since I found   my life uninteresting, revolving mostly around leg braces, physical therapy and other children with disabilities, I wanted to write about life without wheelchairs and walkers. Emily Climbs offered the romance I wanted,  but only much later in life did I willing accept its advice to write about what I knew.

Somewhere in my education, I received advice to write about my passions. That eliminates much writing about disability, which still doesn't interest me a great deal. It does, however, steer me toward writing about the erosion of sound doctrine and the consequent increase of sinful behavior currently infiltrating  churches that claim to be Bible-believing. And even though I've experienced much of this spiritual pollution first-hand, I recognize my need to research the matters I propose to address.

Today, I've been reading up on the growing acceptance of premarital sex among young evangelicals, the highly disturbing teachings of Rick Warren, the mysticism of Contemplative Prayer, and Brooke Boon's Holy Yoga. I know enough about these people and practices to have experienced their negative effects on evangelical churches, but I recognize my responsibility to study these issues. I may be a "'housewife blogger," but I  can also work at being a responsible journalist.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Twenty Years Ago...Now Gay

Twenty years ago,  I worked with these men, all of us proclaiming that Jesus could help people overcome homosexuality. Yes, I understood that they continued to experience same sex attractions, just as I continued (and still continue) to struggle with my own sinful passions. But back then we all looked to the Lord, choosing to obey Him by putting aside our carnal desires. Though many who came through our ministry turned back to homosexuality, a few learned to put it  behind them enough to either enjoy heterosexual marriages or accept celibacy.

Now three of these men, frustrated by residual attractions to men, have reclaimed homosexuality as their  "identity," divorced the women they married and publicly denounce the type of ministry we once devoted our lives to. Another time, perhaps I'll blog about my personal reaction to how they have discredited the work I'd loved so passionately, but the grief I feel concerning "losing" that part of my past pales in comparison to my anguish over how they've shipwrecked their lives and perverted God's Word.

Two of these men still consider themselves Bible-believing Christians, but all three now determine truth, not only through the grid of personal experience, but specifically through the grid of homosexuality. In one sense, I honestly do understand the pain of yearning for things that the Lord forbids. Really, don't all Christians battle sexual lust? Yet, few of us, if we take the Lord seriously,  dare to manipulate Scripture until we believe He excuses (or even approves) of sexual conduct outside the structure of heterosexual marriage. My friends have allowed their sexuality to seriously warp their theology.

Sadly, each of them has a high-profile media and internet presence, which they use to discourage others from repenting of homosexual behavior. Not content with their own rebellion, they actively work to discourage others from submitting their homosexuality to the Lord Jesus Christ. One even insists that  churches modify Scripture to endorse "committed" same sex relationships.

Twenty years ago, we trusted God's Word. Now, my three friends mangle God's Word (or reject it) in favor of their sexual desires. Their choices sadden me as I fear for their relationships with God, and anger me as they put Scripture in second place  to their desires. They know  better.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Gay Christians And Adjusted Scripture

Matthew Vines, the Harvard drop-out turned poster boy for the Gay Christian Movement has once again burst into the limelight, this time with his book, God and the Gay Christian. He "examines" the six Biblical passages that  condemn homosexual  practices, claiming that Moses and Paul only intended to prohibit "excesses" like pederasty, temple prostitution and rape. He claims that loving, committed same sex relationships were unknown to the Biblical writers. Consequently, he reasons, Moses and Paul had no idea that the loving relationships that present day Gay Christians enjoy meet with the Lord's approval.

Clearly, young Mr. Vines reads quite a bit into Scripture. Worse, he forgets that the Holy Spirit, Who inspired every word of Scripture, is every bit as much God as the Father and the Son. Being divine, the Holy Spirit obviously would know about today's homosexual relationships, as well as about homosexual orientations. Surely He wouldn't have limited His Word to First Century experience, ignoring all the men  and women throughout history who struggled with same sex attractions.

Vines desires, sincerely, I believe, to be true to Christ. Sadly, his same sex attractions  create a painful conflict between his faith and his romantic/sexual desires. Having thought, for over 40 years, that my Cerebral Palsy excluded me from marriage, I do sympathize with his frustration over the prospect of lifelong  celibacy. Yet I never rationalized the opportunities I had for sexual behavior that Scripture expressly forbids  by reinterpreting God's Word to accommodate my longings. The  Bible unapologetically declares that following the Lord requires dying to self. Yes, such emotional death causes deep pain. But isn't Jesus worth it?

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