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

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

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

“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

My letter to the man who said your marriage is designed to kill you

Hi Darrell~

Someone just alerted me to your “Your marriage is designed to kill you” (link) blog post, so I suppose at some point I’ll be replying to it on my own blog. I wanted to ask, before I do that, if you’d be willing to write a disclaimer for that post, regarding abusive situations.

To clarify, since some people actually have been killed in their marriages, and since several Christian women I know were very nearly killed or were threatened with death multiple times (by husbands who also claimed to be Christians), Continue reading

Dear Christian, find your life in Jesus Christ

addressing the false teaching of “daily dying to self,” part 4

Part 1 (link) introduces how detrimental this concept can be in the context of an abusive marriage, and gives my husband Tim a platform to speak. Part 2 (link) addresses Scriptures such as “I die daily,” “deny yourself,” and “take up your cross.” Part 3 (link) addresses the Scriptures that talk about “mortification” and spiritual “dying.”

 The Christian life is about finding “rest from works” in the spiritual realm

Jesus promised that those that came to Him would find rest for their weary souls. He accomplished the work in the spiritual realm, so that we wouldn’t have to. Our part is to trust Him in His finished work. But . . . 

In contrast, the “daily dying to self” teaching is a work (in opposition to faith) that Christians are told they’re supposed to accomplish in the spiritual realm, in order to further our life in Christ.

But it’s impossible. Have you observed that it’s impossible in your own experience? Have you felt Continue reading

Dear Christian, you are called to spiritual life, not perpetual death

addressing the false teaching of “daily dying to self,” part 3

You can read Part 1 hereYou can read Part 2 here.

Recap of the “daily dying to self” study so far

When Jesus told the crowd “Deny yourself and follow Me,” He wasn’t saying “daily die to yourself in a spiritual or soulish way.” He was telling them to turn their backs on their former lives and become His true disciples. He still calls people to this.

When He said “Take up your cross (daily) and follow Me as a disciple,” He was not saying “die to yourself daily in a spiritual or soulish way.” He was telling them Continue reading

Dear Christian: stop trying to die

addressing the false teaching of “daily dying to self,” part 2

You can read Part 1 here. 

I die dailyPart 1 was an introduction to the topic of “daily dying to self,” partly to respond to a blog post, plus I had the privilege of providing a platform for my excellent husband.

But Part 2 will begin looking at the Scriptures that don’t teach “daily dying to self.” First off . . . Continue reading

Dear Christian, your marriage is not supposed to kill you

addressing the false teaching of “daily dying to self,” part 1
Your marriage is not supposed to kill you.

by Rebecca Davis

A couple of months ago blogger Darrell Harrison posted this blog article (link), which told us our marriages are supposed to kill us.  Continue reading