Thursday, July 23, 2015

Heartfelt Thanks

I want to thank all of you who have faithfully followed this blog over the past nine years. Your support has encouraged me tremendously, and I pray that each of you has seen the Lord more clearly as a result of my posts.

Please consider joining me at The Outspoken TULIP (https://headstickdeb.wordpress.com/), where I'd be delighted to have your company. And once again, thank you so very much for taking time to read The Things That Come Out Of My Head.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Moving My Blog To A TULIP Garden

I've made the decision to leave Blogger and begin a new blog on WordPress. For an explanation, please visit The Outspoken TULIP (https://headstickdeb.wordpress.com/), and bookmark it. For those who link to me on your blogrolls, please update your rolls to reflect this change. Meet me among the tulips!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Sober Time

Yes, we're grieved that five Supreme Court justices had the hubris to redefine  marriage. Certainly, we're sickened that Planned Parenthood sells body parts of the babies they abort. Most assuredly, we see that the nuclear arms deal with Iran promises disaster for Israel. And no amount of political action can reverse western civilization's obvious determination to rebel against God to the point of self-destruction.

But rather than wringing our hands helplessly, let's view these horrible events as reason to  proclaim the Gospel. Human depravity now flaunts itself unapologetically, leaving little doubt that everyone has turned away from God. Very much like Israel and Judah at the time of the Babylonian Captivity, Europe and America have rejected our Christian heritage. Daniel's great prayer of confession sounds remarkably like a prayer that Christians ought to pray today:
I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him 10 and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. ~~Daniel 9:4-10 (ESV)
Notice that despite Israel's stubborn rejection of God's Word, Daniel acknowledged the Lord's capacity to extend mercy and forgiveness. He extends that mercy and forgiveness though the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. ~~Colossians 1:19-20 (ESV)
After atoning for our sin by dying an excruciating death on the cross, Jesus rose from His grave! His resurrection promises eternal life to those who place their trust in Him.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. ~~1 Corinthians 15:20-23 (ESV) 
The forgiveness of sin must be proclaimed to a society that celebrates its own wickedness. The general course of history will continue gravitating toward evil until Jesus returns to judge the earth, so please don't misunderstand me to suggest that proclaiming the Gospel will produce massive social reform. But as society goes from bad to worse, people need to hear that Jesus offers hope. Please,  my fellow believers, recognize the urgency of making the Gospel known while we still have the liberty to share it!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Backward Evaluations

Sunday, I listened to the audio, "Why Is Homosexuality Wrong?" from Truth Community Church's The Bible And Homosexuality conference this past weekend. (Psst, Erin--please put up the rest of the links.) During this second session, Pastor Don Green made a statement that hit at the heart of why I devote so much attention to various issues that have infected 21st Century evangelicals.
We evaluate homosexuality in light of God's Word. We do not judge Scripture by public opinion on homosexuality.
As an increasing number of evangelicals embrace homosexuality and same sex marriage as good things, we see them manipulating God's Word through the lens of worldly values. Sadly, they make similar compromises concerning a wide variety of other issues. So, although I believe I should continue addressing the matter of homosexuality from time to time, I want to zoom out to the larger problem of evangelicals losing their conviction regarding the Bible's authority.

The evangelical church has been influenced by the Charismatic movement, which (despite their  claims to the contrary) routinely interprets Scripture by subjective experience. I can make this accusation because I was a practicing Charismatic for 20 years and I remained in a Charismatic  church for 12 years after that. I spent the next 12 years in a Baptist church, watching it slide into pragmatism and again interpret God's precious Word to fit its seeker sensitive agenda.

Personal friends have defended false teachers like Rick Warren, Joyce Meyer and Beth Moore, not with Scripture, but with comments about the popularity of these teachers and/or how these teachers "helped" them. Like Charismatics, my Baptist friends (in the church we left last year, not our current Baptist church) downplayed a Scriptural evaluation of these teachers in favor of personal opinion.

I hasten to add that a number of these friends, in  both churches, are genuinely saved, as I was during  my years with them. Furthermore, very few people in either church would affirm homosexuality as being acceptable Christian conduct. My point, however, remains that evangelicals generally judge Scripture on the basis of personal experience and/or peer pressure rather than relying on it as the basis for evaluating every area of life.

Dear fellow believers, I implore you to  keep God's Word as your standard for every area of life. Let the following counsel of the apostle Paul, written  mere days before his death, sink deep into your hearts:
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ~~2 Timothy 3:14-17 (ESV)

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Luxury Of Limiting God

Most professing Christians would affirm, without hesitation, belief in God's control over every aspect of His creation. Yet a Twitter post I read early last week, followed by a completely unrelated conversation at church yesterday, caused me to question the average believer's faith in His sovereignty. Certainly, my own struggle with the sin of worry betrays that I have difficulty trusting His ability (or at least His willingness) to manage situations.

As American Christians approach a time of overt persecution, we desperately need to understand that God maintains complete control. We see our culture's moral disintegration, and quite rightly grieve that sin seems to reign so defiantly. Although grief is indeed an appropriate emotional response, however, that grief must  never degenerate into despair. The same Lord that purified Israel and Judah by means of the Babylonian Captivity has His purposes for His Church through the impending opposition knocking on our door.

More than ever, Christians will need an understanding of God's sovereignty. Let's start with me. I can no longer afford the luxury of thinking that human will has the power to restrict His activity or dismantle His plan. Contrary to popular evangelical thinking, the Lord is not a Gentleman. If He does abandon us to our own rebellion against Him, He does so in order to bring about His great plan.
14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,
“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
    and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
    there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’” ~~Romans 9:14-26 (ESV)
We all too frequently regard circumstances as the whole story, neglecting the fact that God is orchestrating a much bigger picture. We forget that He not only has an eternal plan to display His glory, but He controls all the moving parts that bring that plan to fruition. Yes, He will judge sin, bringing all His wrath against everything that dares to shake a fist at Him, but even that terrible judgment will  magnify His glory.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

My Faithful Father

At my age, I really should know better than to fall into the sin of worry. Each time I worry, I forget God's sovereignty and consequently malign His character. Looking at it from that perspective plunges me into an attitude of confession and repentance for dishonoring my Heavenly Father.

Because God brought me to new birth when His Spirit gave me faith in Jesus as my Savior, He blesses me with the privilege of calling Him "Father." As my Father, He assumes full responsibility for my care and well-being. Therefore, He constantly demonstrates His faithfulness, thereby revealing the absurdity of  my tendency to worry.

Each morning, I begin my time alone with God adoring Him for being my faithful Father. Slowly, He really is giving me victory over the sin of worry as I remember the beloved hymn that I've chosen to feature today. This hymn sets my mind on His faithfulness as the Father Who chose to make me His daughter.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

March 14, 1916 To July 11, 2014

Mom died a year ago today.

What can I say about her? At once, I think of all the funny stories, and the one magnificent story about swimming with dolphins, that she used to tell. I also think of the spiritual differences between us. Mostly, I think about how carefully she guarded her privacy, and I wonder if I should continue guarding her privacy even now. Extending such protection requires that I also restrict what I write about my own life and my emotional responses to her death.

All week, I'd planned to write about her today, even though I wasn't at all sure what I'd write. So I'll share the few photos I have of her and me together.
To say I miss her sounds terribly trite, and yet I can't help but say the obvious. I miss her dry humor, and her outbursts of playfulness. I miss calling her when I need comfort, and I miss the way she loved and respected John. My mom knew how to make my friends feel welcome in her home,  caring for them almost as if they also belonged to her. She laughed often, even at herself, and she loved deeply.

She stayed active with the Widowed Persons Association of  California, even taking cruises with them and (at age 92) serving as the president of her local chapter. She also played bocce ball, up to a few months before she died, with a seniors group called the Goldenairres.  She once told me and a friend, "I've lived a good and happy life." I'm so glad she made sure she enjoyed her 98 years.

Friday, July 10, 2015

No Court Decision Derails God

After two weeks, Christian bloggers still reel from the enormous threat to religious liberty that has already begun as a result of the Supreme Court's decision to legalize same  sex marriage. And we certainly must acknowledge that those who remain faithful to Scripture's unambiguous prohibition of homosexuality should expect varying degrees of persecution. Further, few Christians are prepared for serious persecution, and we definitely need to address that lack of preparation.

But in all this struggle, we first need to remind ourselves of God's Sovereignty. He not only knew that western society would fall into perversion, but the Bible says that God actually "sends" deluding influences on those who don't belong to Him.
11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. ~~2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 (ESV)
This court decision has already caused some professing believers to show their affinity for the world. A couple friends whom I'd considered as fairly solid Christians have, this past week, posted comments on Facebook basically chastising Christians for stating Scriptural positions on the sinfulness of homosexuality. But, as much as their capitulation to the world breaks my heart, I take joy in seeing the Lord making clearer distinctions between mere professors and Christians who take His Word seriously. I believe He has allowed this cultural embrace of sexual sin, as well as the resultant persecution of those who stand on the authority of Scripture, for the purpose of purifying His Church.

Yes, I sorrow over the acceptance of sin (and  not just homosexuality) that permeates 21st Century culture. All Christians should grieve, and  grieve deeply! But in our grief, we can rejoice that God still maintains complete control. No man-made laws, no matter how corrupt, can possibly defeat His purposes.
Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.
The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord, over many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
    the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
    and Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
    the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth
    and strips the forests bare,
    and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
    the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
11 May the Lord give strength to his people!
    May the Lord bless his people with peace!  ~~Psalm 29 (ESV)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Foolish Christians

Christians in 21st Century America receive little respect from the world at large. As time progresses, what little respect we receive now will diminish because genuine believers refuse to interpret God's Word through the lens of political correctness. Of course, our unwillingness to compromise His Word causes the world to regard us as "backward" and "uneducated."

The apostle Paul, who himself enjoyed both Hebrew and classical Greek educations, noted that the 1st Century world also held Christians in low esteem. Yet he maintained that our wisdom, which often contradicts worldly wisdom, is far superior to all the sophistication of worldly philosophies can offer.
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” ~~1 Corinthians 1:20-31 (ESV)
Right now, most of our country celebrates the "enlightened" views of political and religious liberals, dismissing conservative beliefs as antiquated at best. They accuse us of oppression, largely because we hold to Biblical teachings on Christ's authority and how He commands us to live. Because the world rejects Christ and His teachings, it holds Christians in contempt (see John 15:18-25).

The animosity that the world holds toward believers will erupt in persecution. I believe seeker sensitive and emergent churches will avoid persecution because of their readiness to accommodate contemporary culture by downplaying doctrine. But those of us who continue to stand on the truth of Scripture, especially when doing so opposes the accepted wisdom of American culture, must expect various levels of pressure to compromise our allegiance to the Lord.

Those of us who adhere to Scripture already appear foolish to the world. This perception of us will only intensify with the passage of time. We can, however, rejoice that God's wisdom will ultimately trump the supposed enlightenment of worldly sages. When Jesus returns and sets up His kingdom, all of His detractors will see their folly in opposing Him. At the same time, those who remain faithful to Him will joyfully boast in His wonderful faithfulness to prove the superiority of His wisdom.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Love We Resent

John has, on occasion, yelled at me when he sees me driving my wheelchair in ways that might harm me. Initially (because I don't see the danger myself) I bristle with resentment, sometimes stubbornly continuing my course of action until I see my error. Thankfully, so far I've caught my mistakes in time to avoid serious consequences,  but I have gotten into a few sticky situations that I wouldn't have faced had I listened to my husband.

He yelled at me out of love for me.

Christians often warn people against beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that would place them under God's wrath. Just as I resent John's efforts to protect me, so most people resent Christians for proclaiming the truth. They perceive us as hateful, self-righteous bigots who want to impose our antiquated morality on society at large. As they see it, we want to restrict their freedom...particularly in reference to sexuality.

In contrast, because we take Scripture seriously, we know that rebellion against God requires punishment. Those who trust Christ can rest secure that He has paid for our sin by shedding His blood on the cross. His grace in effecting our salvation, however, means that He has authority over how we conduct our lives.
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. ~~Titus 2:11-14 (ESV)
Those who reject the Lord's authority, insisting on pursuing sin (and sometimes even demanding that He bless it), demonstrate that they have no understanding of grace. They stubbornly stride toward an eternity in hell, misinterpreting our pleas for their repentance as hate speech. Little do they understand that, like John yelling to keep me from driving my wheelchair into danger, we can best love them by hating their sin.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

We Will Rise To The Occasion

This modern hymn offers particular encouragement as we begin to face the persecution that surely knocks on the door of the church in America. As you listen, rejoice that our Lord will have ultimate victory.


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Joy. Mourning. Joy!

This year, as Christians reel from the impending consequences of Obergefell v. Hodges, many of us find it difficult to celebrate America's birthday. The almost certain denial of First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and religion herald our country's death, causing mourning rather than rejoicing. Although I dressed in red, white and blue today, I feel like wearing black.

Yet the Lord would have Christians rejoice, even now, in the freedom that  no court or government can take away. J.D. Hall, of Pulpit & Pen, published a marvelous blog post today that reminded me of Who ultimately gives us freedom. Please take time to read Should We Celebrate Independence Day?

Friday, July 3, 2015

It's As He Said It Would Be

Photo courtesy of PreachTheGospel.org
This morning I read Matthew 10:1-23, which describes Jesus sending the Twelve out to cast out demons, heal the sick and preach the Gospel to the lost sheep of Israel. Although most of His instructions were specific to those twelve men, I believe the last section applies to all Christians. And after last Friday's SCOTUS decision, which goes against the Lord's design for marriage, His words take on a more vivid urgency.
 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. ~~Matthew 10:16:23 (ESV)
If those of us who claim to be Christians remain faithful to Scripture, the world will naturally hate us. We represent a holy God Who refuses to compromise His righteous standards and does not bow to any human cultural invention. Our  courts, influenced by media propaganda and liberal politics, may attempt to redefine marriage, but the King of kings and Lord of lords holds fast to His intent and expects His followers to remain loyal to Him.

Homosexuality, of course, is only one of many ways humanity rebels against God's authority. Over the last 2000 years, Biblical Christians have suffered various forms of persecution ranging from mild censure to violent martyrdom. Men like Wycliffe, Hus and Tyndale, for example,  bore the wrath of the Roman Catholic church because they called people back to Scripture and denounced the false doctrines that still overtake that church. In our time, the legalization of same sex marriage just happens to be the issue that will usher in the next wave of persecution. But Christians have always incurred the world's hatred simply by our fidelity to Christ.

Jesus taught clearly that the world would reject His disciples (in all generations) because it rejects Him.

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ ~~John 15:18-25 (ESV)
As the legalization of same sex marriage brings persecution on Christians who refuse to condone it, we must remember that the Lord warned us of the high cost of following Him. Yes, I grieve over the  loss of religious liberty in this country, and I do feel frightened. But I've always understood that following Jesus would most likely have painful implications. Reading Matthew 10:16-23 today merely reminded me that I'll be in good company  as I suffer reproach for Him.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Correcting, Not Condemning: A Response To Homosexual Sin

We do need to acknowledge that same sex marriage, along with the celebration of sexual immorality in all its forms, both harms society and shakes a defiant fist at the Creator's intent for sexuality. Sometimes, however, our zeal for righteousness can cause us to forget our responsibility to treat people in bondage to homosexuality with compassion and humility. Yet the very Bible that condemns homosexuality also commands Christians to exercise gentleness and humility as we confront sin.
 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. ~~Galatians 6:-1-5 (ESV)
Throughout my nearly 25 years of close friendships with men and women who struggled with same sex attraction (12 of those years, I served as a correspondence counselor for an ex-gay ministry), I repeatedly heard both friends and clients lament that they never chose to experience same sex attractions. Although I believe Scripture teaches that we indeed choose whether or not to feed lusts of any sort (see, for instance, James 1:13-15), I believe that we need sensitivity in addressing their perceptions of involuntary sexual orientation. These people honestly feel trapped in same sex attractions.

I believe each of us excuses our own sin habits in pretty much the same way. I have. Someone once told me that Cerebral Palsy makes it more difficult to control anger. For decades, I latched on to his pronouncement, comforting myself in my fits of rage that I wasn't completely responsible for my outbursts. My disability provided me with a convenient excuse to give in to the sin of anger, and I didn't hesitate to take full advantage of that excuse. I highly doubt that I'm alone in blaming my sin on conditions beyond my control.

So I empathize with those who sincerely accept the lie that they were born gay.  In addressing same sex marriage, therefore, I believe Christians need an awareness that people who experience homosexual feelings see no hope other than redefining marriage in order to accommodate their sinful desires. While Christians must never condone sin of any sort, and must consequently not support same sex marriage, the Lord demands that we show the sort of mercy that we need when people  have to correct us.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Same Sex Marriage: Who Really Wins

Christians (and by that, I mean those who truly believe the Bible) have reason to feel concern over the Supreme Court's disastrous decision on same sex marriage. Because I live in Massachusetts, where the Supreme Judicial Court legalized same sex marriage ten years ago, perhaps I don't feel quite as panic-stricken as people in other parts of the country do, although I realize a federal ruling carries much weightier implications than our state ruling has. Grief and righteous indignation are as appropriate now as they were in 2005.

Certainly, I foresee more overt persecution of those who publicly oppose same sex marriage. Businesses have already been ruined for refusing to participate in same sex weddings, as in the case of Aaron and Melissa Klein. And consider this chilling op-ed piece, SCOTUS: Religious Freedom Must Bow To New Rights, from Townhall.com. In 17 states (beginning with Massachusetts), Catholic Charities had to make the agonizing choice between allowing same sex couples to adopt children from them (thus violating Catholic doctrine) or close their adoption agencies (which they did). I may, at another time, spend more time demonstrating the relationship between same sex marriage and the erosion of religious freedom.

But my concern doesn't  mean Friday's decision alarms me. Since God is sovereign, this misruling only demonstrates that the Bible accurately predicted mankind's progressive rebellion against Him.
 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. ~~2 Timothy 3:1-5 (ESV)
While this passage doesn't mention homosexuality specifically, it definitely describes the underlying attitudes of LGBT activists and their supporters. In fact, America's legalization of same sex marriage comes from centuries of rejecting the Lord's authority. Western society has always thumbed its nose at Him, but in recent decades, that defiance has intensified.

Scripture says that the Holy Spirit, Who has restrained humanity from giving full vent to its sinful inclinations, will remove His restraints just before Christ returns (see 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). He will abandon people to their depravity in order to show the righteousness of His judgment and condemnation of those who reject His rule. 

Therefore, I consider the Supreme Court's misruling, in spite of its blatant disregard for the law of the Lord, to be an indication of Christ's return! I don't look forward to any persecution I may face as I stand for the truth that God designed marriage exclusively for opposite sex couples, but I most assuredly rejoice in anticipation of Christ returning and at last establishing His kingdom. My concern, though entirely justified, gives way to the joy of knowing I'll see Him soon.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Baseball On The Same Coast

My sister loves baseball! Being from San Francisco, of course she roots for the Giants. During last October's World Series (which her Giants won) John and I called her while a game was on TV. In essence, we watched two innings "together" despite being on opposite sides of the country.

In December, she told us that, as our Christmas/birthday gift to her, she wanted us to take her to a game at Fenway. SURE! We had absolutely no problem filling that request!

Quite appropriately, she dressed in Giants gear and I dressed in Red Sox gear.
We crawled through the caverns of Fenway, encountering Wally, the Green Monstah. Even though John took two pictures of me and Wally, my sister liked the one that least flattered me:

Finally, we both  cozied up to Wally.
John got really great seats on right field, which delighted my sister. We could see the entire field quite easily!
I immediately looked for (and found) the Red Seat, where Ted Williams sent the ball when he made the longest home run in history on June 9, 1946. Several fans wanted to pose with it, so John couldn't get a picture of it alone. Still, he got a great  shot:
Of course, we really needed a photo of all three of us:
The Red Sox lost (so what else is new, right?), but we all had a wonderful time. My sister stayed until yesterday, enjoying lunch with John's mom Friday, The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum Saturday and meeting our friends at church Sunday. The activity wore me out, but I can't wait for her next visit!

Two Reasons I'll Wait

Naturally, I'll be blogging quite a bit on the Supreme Court's legalization of same sex marriage. The misruling poses enormous implications for Biblical Christians, guaranteeing legal persecution as we hold to Scripture's definition of marriage. The many ramifications of the Court's decision suggest that I'll be composing quite a few posts on this matter. For that reason, I choose not to delve into the topic right away.

Yes, it's this week's hot topic, and I could probably get a good amount of traffic by writing about it now. Admittedly, after five days away from blogging, I feel the temptation to post an article that would draw readers, but I have two reasons for biding my time.

To begin with, I'd like to post photos from the Red Sox game that we attended with my sister this past Thursday. Okay, that post may appeal to a more limited audience (though sometimes you guys surprise me), and I certainly understand why that would be the case. But my Boston Adventures in part formed the foundation of this blog. As a result, I believe those photos belong here.

But the more serious reason for delaying comments on this error in the Court's judgment comes from a desire to weigh the thoughts of others by measuring their thoughts against Scripture. Definitely, legalizing same sex marriage in all 50 states ensures that Bible believing Christians who dare to call homosexuality a sin will suffer persecution. The issue therefore shifts from the moral validity of these marriages to how Christians should respond to the intense pressure to embrace sexual sin. And I prefer to think very carefully before I start putting my opinions on the Internet.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Wonderful Words of Life





Sorry I don't have time to comment on today's hymn. Then again, do I really need to?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Flat Screens Or Present Shepherds?

With limitations on my time today, I will simply share these two videos of John MacArthur addressing his concerns regarding current evangelical trends. His insights offer much needed challenges to the people who claim Reformed theology while they employ worldly methodology in their churches. For those readers who take offense at  MacArthur's comments, I ask you to prayerfully take your objections to Scripture. The Lord will be faithful to grant you discernment through His Word.




Monday, June 22, 2015

Perverted Obedience

I could easily blame the Catholic college I attended between 1973 and 1977, as well as my three months at the Charismatic Bible College I attended in 1985, for my predisposition toward legalism. If I did so, most people would respond sympathetically. Convinced that my behavior stems inevitably from such a background, those sympathizers do little to correct my error.

Those who do challenge me generally represent the opposite end of the spectrum, insisting that grace means a complete freedom from regulation. If Jesus really paid the full penalty for sin, they reason, we have liberty to behave as we please. I well remember a former boyfriend using the words, "It's alright, Baby...Jesus always forgives us."

Neither legalism nor lawlessness have any place in my life. The abuse of grace should be obvious, but so many evangelicals these days seem to equate grace with license. I've written numerous times about that problem, and I fully expect to write about it in the future. Today, therefore, I prefer to deal with my sin of legalism.

Obedience to the Lord based on His revealed will in Scripture honors Him. In decrying legalism, let's first establish that He demands our grateful obedience, not wanting us to remain in the very sin that caused Him to die on the cross. But I have often distorted obedience into self-righteousness. In that perverted state, I've subtly deceived myself into thinking that my good behavior actually maintained my salvation. My sins upset me, but only because I believed they would eventually cause God to blot my name out of the Book of Life.

Legalism gave me a sense of control...but only when I "played by the rules." As long as I performed appropriately, I felt like I managed my salvation well. Perhaps I even felt like I managed God well. (What a gruesome concept!) Legalism exalted me when my obedience, motivated and empowered by the Holy Spirit, should have exalted the Lord Jesus Christ.

I could blame the exacting nuns who served as some of my college professors and the 32 rules of the Bible College. But those influences, although incredibly strong, merely nurtured the self-righteous attitudes that I hadn't fully renounced in my own heart. I was the real problem. Blaming external factors looks good from a psychological standpoint, but the Lord would have me accept responsibility by confessing my sin of self-righteousness and then trusting in His shed blood to clothe me in His true righteousness. Then He gets all the glory!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Where My Faith Rests

Usually, updated lyrics in hymns make me just a bit nervous. I fear they might water down a hymn's doctrinal content, thus defeating the very purpose of hymns. But as I watched several YouTube videos of the hymn I'd decided to feature today, surprisingly the one that modernized the lyrics also gave the strongest presentation of the Gospel.

I suppose I could elaborate on this hymn by talking about the sufficiency of Christ's death and resurrection. But anyone familiar with this blog knows that I look no  further than the Bible's account of His atoning sacrifice to fuel my faith. So let this hymn, with its clear affirmation of what Jesus has done for those who believe in Him encourage you to rest in His provision.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Self-Captive

Do you focus on your blessings, or do you stew in self-pity, figuratively shaking your fist at God for arranging circumstances differently than you'd like? All too often, I fall into the second category.

My grumbling and self-pity, besides being incredibly unattractive to others, demonstrates my ingratitude toward my Savior. The Lord, while He certainly doesn't cater to my every  desire, has given me so much! When I consider the severity of my disability and then think about all He has given me in spite of my physical limitations, I have to wonder why I feel sorry for myself. Shame on me!

My spoiled-child attitude thankfully stands forgiven because of Christ's shed blood. By His grace, I can confess it as sin and repent by taking joy in all the wonderful things He's done. Even better, I can joyfully anticipate that glorious Day when He establishes His eternal kingdom, at last emancipating me from my preoccupation with myself so I can wholeheartedly worship Him.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Summer's For More Than Blogging

After a seemingly endless and decidedly brutal winter in New England, spring has whizzed by at break-neck speed. According to my calendar, summer officially begins this coming Sunday. Winter's duration and severity kept me and John sequestered in our apartment so that the extreme cold wouldn't adversely affect our breathing, landing one or both of us in the hospital. The extended time in our home conditioned me to blog daily.

I appreciate having had that time to concentrate on blogging, particularly because I've developed my writing skills and (more importantly) have deepened the theological content. Christ has greater prominence in my posts, as well He should. Consequently, I feel an increased responsibility to blog regularly and frequently so that He  may be consistently be lifted up before my readers.

Summer changes things, however. Already, spring has given me and John a few days for Boston adventures and medical appointments. Our activity will increase during the next three weeks, and especially between June 24 and 29 when my sister comes from California to collect her Christmas/birthday present (we're taking her to a Red Sox game at Fenway.) As a result, I'll blog less leading up to her visit, and not at all while she's here.

I pray that, despite producing fewer blog posts this summer, the posts I do write will honor the Lord with intensity, accuracy, and unmistakable adoration for Him. Even when I write about our infamous escapades in Boston, which I'm sure to do, I  look forward to writing with thankfulness to Him for allowing us to enjoy the city.

Winter will return soon enough, and then I'll have plenty of time for daily blogging. Furthermore, dear readers, you'll have more time to read what I write. Doesn't it sound like my summer "'schedule" will benefit you as much as it benefits me?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Apples And Pulpits

Have 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. 

Last Tuesday, I gave two examples demonstrating ways that people twist 1 Timothy 2:12 to rationalize women serving as pastors. 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.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

All I Offer--Nothing

When a person comes to Christ, of course changes happen. The Holy Spirit uses Scripture to progressively transform wretched sinners into saints that reflect our Heavenly Father as He gives us His values and His priorities. He bestows His grace so that we might live in His holiness.

Yet we can only come to Him when we recognize how totally incapable we are of offering Him anything. The Lord calls us to set aside all self-righteousness so that we trust exclusively in the shed blood of Jesus. This weeks hymn reminds me to offer my nothingness to the God Who gives me His fullness.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Where I Conform

My convictions regarding the roles of women, both in marriage and in church structure, stem from studying Scripture. Some verses (such as 1 Timothy 2:15 and 1 Corinthians 11:4-16, as I admitted yesterday, require extra study because in isolation they appear to say that women need to bear children to be saved and wear hats to church in order for God to accept their worship. Both ideas, of course, flatly contradict the Gospel of salvation by faith in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, so we definitely need understanding as to why the Holy Spirit directed Paul to write them.

Aside from these verses, however, the verses on gender roles do not assault the Gospel. For this reason, I see no legitimate reason to tease them out with convoluted explanations. Okay, we don't like the prospect of submitting to our husbands. And yes, we probably could preach just as well as  men...and sometimes better. But our feelings and ambitions mustn't influence our interpretation of God's Word. I don't always like what Scripture says (and there are issues besides male leadership that I'd happily reject), but the Lord expects me to conform my will to His Word rather than the other way around.

Essentially, my convictions about gender roles represent a greater conviction that the Bible, as the very Word of God, speaks with absolute and final authority. Certainly, it clashes violently with  human ideology. Should we expect otherwise? Yet that very struggle to yield to Scripture that opposes our cultural norms gives us opportunity to walk in obedience to our loving Savior as His Word transforms us.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ~~Romans 12:2  (ESV)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Women: Distinctly Equal

The following post qualifies as an actual teaching. That being the case, I ask  that my gentlemen readers skip this post to protect me from disobeying the Lord. Thank you.

"The Bible says it. I believe it. That  settles it."

Many post-modern evangelicals dismiss that quote, as well as that line of reasoning, arguing that it equates to "checking one's brain at the door." (Do they realize that they're equally trite?) When gender roles  come up, such people particularly assume that accepting the Bible's declarations at face value demonstrates an unwillingness to reason things out.

Sometimes, certainly, we do need to study a verse in more detail, particular when it appears to contradict the general flow of Scripture (1 Timothy 2:15, for instance), but much of Scripture needn't undergo massive torture simply because we don't like it. And therefore, the passages that teach the distinct roles between men and women don't require a vast amount of explanation. The Holy Spirit pretty much moved on the men who penned Scripture to write clearly.

Moses, for instance, described Eve's creation by emphasizing that she came from Adam for the purpose of helping him.
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.” ~~Genesis 2:18-23 (ESV)
Clearly, the order of creation places Man in a leadership position. But note that Man's position in no way suggests Woman's inferiority or spiritual inequality. Her very purpose as Man's helper, in fact, demonstrates that she brings something to the table that he couldn't have brought without her.

In 1 Corinthians 11:3-12, the apostle Paul discusses this headship of Man and the simultaneous mutuality between Man and woman. I don't want to quote the passage here, lest I distract you with the complicated issue of head coverings. But let me point out two sections of this passage that I believe refer back to Genesis 2:18-23. 

Firstly, Paul establishes male authority within marriage.
But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. ~~1 Corinthians 11:3 (ESV)
Husbands, although they are accountable to Christ, have the responsibility to exercise leadership in their households. Ephesians 5:22-24, Colossians 3:18 and 1 Peter 3:1-6 all enforce this marital structure by instructing wives to submit (always balancing this command by telling husbands to love their wives). The New Testament consistently promotes male leadership within marriage.

Secondly, Paul affirms that husbands and wives, while having leader/follower roles, are mutually dependent.
For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. ~~1 Corinthians 11:7-12 (ESV)
As far as spiritual standing, the Lord makes no qualitative distinctions between men and women. I refer you to Galatians 3:28 (in proper context) and 1 Peter 3:7 as evidence that women share equally in the inheritance that Christ has for believers. The dignity of women that Genesis 2:18-23 implies, therefore, comfortably co-exists with gender specific roles in marriage.

Paul directly appeals to Genesis when he told Timothy that women should not hold positions of authority or teaching over men.
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. 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 2:11-14 (ESV)
I'd like to blog about this passage in its broader context at another time, but I include it today because of its firm stance that churches, to be Biblical, require male leadership. Paul bases this requirement on both the order of creation and Eve's rebellion against Adam's leadership when she ate the forbidden fruit. Paul connects the restriction to the Genesis narrative in order to refute claims that he limited the scope of women's ministry as a capitulation to 1 Century Ephesian culture.

Scripture definitely affirms spiritual equality between  men and women, but that equality doesn't negate the Lord's institution of gender roles. Post-modern society resists these roles, just as it tries to distort gender and sexuality as a whole, but Christians must accept the Bible's teaching over culture's demands. God created us male and female for His purposes, and we should celebrate our gender distinctions as a way to honor Him.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Argument For Women Pastors That Fail

As I've studied arguments for both the ordination of woman and the evangelical acceptance of homosexual relationships (and I've studied both issues separately many times over), I've noticed that advocates of both practices use similar types of reasoning. First, they'll claim that the passages that prohibit these practices reflect cultural biases, and therefore God didn't really mean for them to dictate 21st Century behavior. Then they'll twist Scripture by taking it out of context and/or reading things into it.

Currently, I want to limit my discussion to women in church leadership, though at a later date I anticipate addressing the typical relationship between the two issues. As usual, I've started this post much later than I'd planned, so we won't get very far today (I'd hoped to listen to the Equipping Eve episode, The Submissive Wife, Part I, but that won't happen today).

But 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.

These are only two examples of how "Christians" manipulate God's Word to justify the worldly practice of women in church leadership. Rather than remaining faithful to Scripture, they twist verses to fit the 21st Century attitude that we must avoid any type of gender distinction (thus tying in with the homosexual and trans gender agenda). Next time I post, I hope to make a case for gender distinctions, demonstrating that those distinctions reflect God's original intent for His creation.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Approaching Femininity

For the past few days, prompted both by Bruce/Caitlin Jenner's "coming out party" as well as by concerns (that are better left unspoken) about a personal friend of mine, I've been thinking a lot about gender roles lately. Therefore, I found it interesting that our pastor preached on roles within marriage, having Colossians 3:18-19 as his text.
18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. (ESV)
And yes, the points directed to wives convicted me of how often I still struggle to submit to John.

During this time of sorting through my still formulating thoughts on my femininity, I want to spend some time  writing about why I so enjoy being a woman. Regretfully, I frittered away so much time playing with Paintshop Pro and Facebook today that I left myself almost no time for blogging, but at least now I can set a direction for my next few posts.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Let Me Side With Jesus

Last week drove home the reality that Western culture no longer even pretends to accept Christian values. This sad fact shouldn't surprise us. Jesus told us, in no uncertain terms, to expect animosity when we align ourselves with Him because the world stands in opposition to Him.
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. ~~John 15:18-19 (ESV)
These days, it takes fortitude to resist societal pressure in favor of holding fast to the commands and teaching of God's Word. Sadly (though understandably, I must admit), many evangelicals  now capitulate to such worldly ideas as pragmatism, mysticism, the ordination of women and the normalization of homosexuality (just to name a few). As I watch the world's values infiltrate the visible church, I echo the question that today's hymn poses.


Saturday, June 6, 2015

Duggar's Closet Skeleton, And Why It Makes Me Tremble

Like Josh Duggar, I have skeletons rattling their bones in a few of my closets. The Lord has seen my repentance, just as He has seen Duggar's, and I rest in His forgiveness. Jesus paid for my sin on the cross, I've repented, and those matters don't have to be revisited.

Yet, they could come out if someone wanted to discredit me badly enough. That thought makes me tremble! Although God has most assuredly forgiven me, and although I've repented, Duggar's exposure in the media reminds me that forgiveness doesn't necessarily mean the removal of consequences. So, while I hope I never have to account for sins that Christ has declared absolved, I realize that He could permit someone to uncover them.

As unfair as such exposure would appear, I praise God for this using Duggar's current circumstances to show me the threat of vulnerability in my life. Through it, He has increased my desire to live in holiness from this point forward. Sadly, I can't undo the times that I've rebelled against His clear teaching. But, by the power of His Holy Spirit, I can move forward in resolve to live in a manner that won't dishonor His Name.
13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil. ~~1 Peter 3:13-17 (ESV)
In truth, everybody has at least one secret sin. You may have confessed it, repenting in all sincerity, but you live with the horrifying possibility of someone unearthing it. Therefore, if you've taken any delight in Josh Duggar's public humiliation, please think twice about your veneer of self-righteousness. And join me in deciding to go forward in holiness for the Lord's glory.

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