Nothing like The Sheep Sermon to make you feel stupid, disgusting, and useless

Not long ago I visited a church where I got to hear The Sheep Sermon again. It had been quite a while, years I guess.

But The Sheep Sermon hadn’t changed a whole lot over the years. It even still had the part about the broken leg. Continue reading

In which I have a small argument with a Puritan about suffering

Recently someone asked me to comment on Facebook on a quotation from a Puritan. I told her I found the quotation troubling enough to make a blog post out of it. Here, finally, is the promised post.

My friend said, “When I read this quote, I thought it was true and couldn’t refute it, which is why I posted it – I thought it was okay. At the same time I had doubts, and that’s why I asked you about it. It’s typical of the preaching I heard in my old church. For many years I primarily read Puritan books like this.”

So what was it? It was a paragraph from a piece called “Seven Inferences from the Great Suffering of Jesus Christ,” by Puritan Thomas Brooks. But before I offer commentary on his work, I’d like to ask you to read it without commentary. Continue reading

Reflections on my sixtieth birthday: reframing my name

Sixty years is one of those zero milestones, you know. So I’m remembering.

I remember when I was about 30, standing in the large auditorium of my fundamentalist church holding my baby, looking around at the people and thinking, “Where are all those older women who are supposed to be helping me?” They appeared to all be so busy with their own lives and activities.

Then I thought, “I want to become that woman. I want to be an older woman to help the younger.” I set my sights on the age of 50 to accomplish it. I planned out how I would study all the books of the Bible thoroughly by then so I would know the Word of God really well and could teach it. I would talk to younger women about how to keep a house clean and clutter-free, because surely by then I would have figured it out, I would have conquered that Goliath in my life. Continue reading

Maybe it’s time to stop praying for God to “use” you

Hang on. This is not to say that’s never a good thing to pray. I’ve prayed it, and I don’t regret praying it. It’s not unbiblical.

But it’s also not Biblical. That is, it’s not in the Bible anywhere—no one ever prayed for God to use anyone, and the readers of the Bible were never told Continue reading

“Jesus as Intercessor”: barely restraining God’s wrath?

That was the feeling I got all through the years when preachers would explain that term “intercessor,” from Hebrews 7:25.

. . . he [Jesus] is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him,

since he always lives to make intercession for them.

This “intercession,” I was told throughout my growing-up years, was Jesus’ prayer to his Father not to slaughter His people, since He had taken the punishment.

It was an unsettling picture in my mind. The Father, angry and eager to destroy. The Son, who stood between Him and us, uttering prayers night and day, holding Him off. Continue reading

The problem of excommunication – a response to Desiring God

A couple of weeks ago someone forwarded to me a post from Desiring God that hit me like a punch in the stomach.

In an article called “Kicked Out of Church: How God Brought Me Home” (link), author Scarlett Clay begins her story right after her church had excommunicated her, showing the indignation of her friends at such an injustice, and her own appreciation of their indignation.

But that’s only the first paragraph, and the reason for the excommunication hasn’t yet been divulged. Continue reading

Mr. Charming and Miss Target (a guest post at A Cry for Justice)

This is one I submitted to ACFJ months ago. To my surprise it popped up this morning! 

***

Mr. Charming and Miss Target are sitting together on the grass looking out at the starlit sky. Miss Target is a new Christian and Mr. Charming is an old hand at religion, so they’re not making out; instead they’re getting to know each other in a deep and intimate way through conversation.

They’re holding hands, and Miss Target sits with her head on Mr. Charming’s shoulder. Conversation lags a bit. Mr. Charming introduces a new topic, almost in a whisper.

“So, what are you afraid of?”

“Huh?” Miss Target raises her head. “Why do you want to know?”

“Well,” he replies, gently putting his arm around her, “we’re getting to know each other, you know, in a deep and intimate way through conversation. If you tell me what you’re afraid of, I’ll tell you what I’m afraid of.”

Read the rest at A Cry for Justice, here.

What if you married a Nazi (a guest post on Emotional Abuse Survivor)

Today I guest posted for Emotional Abuse Survivor (formerly Visionary Womanhood). Here is the first part of that post:


Back in the days when I taught math, I often helped my students with a complicated problem by presenting them with a more obvious problem that was similar. Solving the more obvious problem would usually give them the tools they needed to figure out the more complicated one.

This is the reason I recently re-watched the 1946 movie The Stranger, starring Loretta Young and Orson Welles. The problem and solution in this movie were just so . . . obvious.

Welles plays a Nazi in hiding in the U.S., one who has managed to disguise his identity so thoroughly that he now teaches in a boys’ academy and somehow arranges to exchange marriage vows with a sweet young thing.


Read the rest at Emotional Abuse Survivor, here.

 

 

“You just need to be content” — a response to Desiring God

Recently Desiring God published an article telling us that discontent is Satan’s trap against every woman (link). In the style of Screwtape Letters,  author Rebekah Wilson Merkle offers “advice” from one demon to another. Here is a sampling:

Keep them looking at their husband’s failings (“he just doesn’t seem to even care about my needs”) and not their own heart.

If it happens that you can’t keep them from the book [the Bible] completely . . . keep all their thoughts focused on how their husband isn’t living up to the instructions the book contains.

You want to encourage friendships that will feed and pet the discontent, rather than uproot it. Even prayer groups and mentorships are fabulous places for this to happen. . . .

I wrote a response explaining how telling readers to be “content” in every relationship—even when “he doesn’t seem to even care about my needs”—can serve to keep a woman and her children in a highly abusive situation. Implying that mentors and prayer group friends shouldn’t listen to a woman tell about a troubled marriage because she’s being “discontent” will do the same. (I also communicated with someone at Desiring God about it.) But then a survivor of abuse from a patriarchal family wrote a response of her own and sent it to me. Since I believe her response is superior to mine and she graciously gave permission to quote it, I’m publishing it now. Here it is.

When I lived at home with my parents, I used to write articles about contentment and joy. I saw that they were closely connected in the Scripture, and I desired to live out those characteristics of a Christian’s life. My father would often tell me that he was grateful for my contented, joyful spirit. He would proofread much of my writing and he agreed that I could say such things because they were true of my life.

The years passed, and I began questioning the negative patterns, sinful behaviors, wrong attitudes, and hurtful actions of my parents toward others.

Suddenly I was accused of being discontent. My questions were never answered; the responsibility to “have the right attitude” was put on my shoulders. I was told that if I continued to raise questions about serious issues in my family, I was being discontent and unsubmissive. The accusation of discontent was constant. So I began to study the sin of discontent in God’s Word with an open heart to determine if the charge against me was true.

My study led me to understand that true contentment means to be at rest, characterized by peace and deep-rooted joy with the purposes of God. It is a satisfaction that God knows the needs of His children.

To be content is to be controlled by the power of the Holy Spirit in each circumstance, trial, or hardship.

But contentment does not mean resignation to or agreement with evil practices. Contentment does not mean complacency or willful ignorance.

The conclusion I reached was that I was not discontent with God’s  provision in my life. I always had everything I needed, and I was not pining away wanting things I did not have. I did not complain about wanting more than what I was given. I was actually quite content and grateful to the Lord for His provision in my life.

My response to my parents was, “I have searched and studied the Scriptures, and I have asked God to show me my heart. I have asked Him to reveal truth.” I shared my heart with my parents: what I had discovered in God’s Word, my own satisfaction with what God had given to me, how I did not yearn after more things or complain about circumstances. I was transparent about my heart’s attitude.

However, after careful study of God’s Word, I did recognize that there was something I should be “discontent” about. Sin. No Christian should ever be satisfied, accepting, or tolerant of the habitual sinning of others, especially if those sins are harming people.

I shared with my parents that I was “discontent” with the sin in my family. Carefully and specifically, I  stated the areas of direct disobedience to the Word of God that was occurring in the family. It wasn’t about a frustration with petty offenses or annoyances (such as dirty socks on the floor). The sins that I confronted were pornography, slander, vitriolic anger, malicious speech, control and manipulation, hypocrisy, and idolatry.

Over the years, I’ve heard much teaching on the sin of discontent, and it often focuses mainly on letting go of petty grievances. But that falls into the category of forbearance, not contentment.

In recent years, I’ve also noticed that those who are being severely abused and who question that abuse are charged with learning to be more content. “Suck it up and trust God with your trial. You need to learn contentment.”

This is an unloving response to those who are in harm’s way, trapped, afraid, and desperate for life and freedom. 

Continue reading

Two book recommendations—funny, outrageous, and inspiring

 After reading my post “Christian Patriarchy: Here is how you have left God,” author Sara Roberts Jones contacted me to ask me to read and review her novel about the fictitious cultThe Fellowship of True Christian Churches.” Since I didn’t know her (and didn’t know at that time about her excellent articles on Recovering Grace), I wasn’t sure what I would be getting into, but I’m glad to say I was pleasantly surprised. As soon as I received the book and flipped it open, I was hooked. Continue reading