The good news about Biblical bitterness (a short talk)

In March I was privileged to speak at the Awaken Network’s conference on abuse. My topic was Biblical bitterness, showing how in the Bible “bitterness” refers to one who has been poisoned and is grieving, and “bitterness” also refers to one who is doing the poisoning. Both are called “bitter,” but only one is sinful.

Megan Cox of Give Her Wings (with whom I also did a recent interview on this subject) said, “This is such good news.” Finding out that the Scriptures teach something different from the heavy burden of guilt and shame that church people often lay on the backs of the oppressed—well, that really is good news.

You can view that talk here:

That forgiveness talk at Harvest Bible Chapel

Do you ever feel, when you watch a movie, that there was an underlying reason for it, maybe a bit of propaganda, so to speak, that it wanted to promote? It may be only a small part of the movie, but it makes a profound impact. (An example that come readily to mind is a 1944 drama about the life of Woodrow Wilson, the purpose of which seemed to me to focus on the death of Wilson’s dream, the League of Nations, in order to push American viewers to become more willing to enter the United Nations.)

I could be wrong, but that’s the way I felt when I listened to this sermon by Michael Vanlaningham from March 31stat Harvest Bible Chapel in the Chicago area. It seemed to me that the underlying reason, the bit of propaganda, began at about minute 25 when he began to focus on forgiveness.  Continue reading “That forgiveness talk at Harvest Bible Chapel”

Joseph wasn’t afraid of “rebellion, the sin like witchcraft”

This is the first post reflecting my ongoing study of fear in the New Testament.

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When I think of Mary’s husband Joseph being afraid, I think of this passage in Matthew 1:20-21:

Joseph had this in mind [the problem of Mary’s pregnancy and his decision to break the marriage agreement] when an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. The angel said to him, “Joseph, descendant of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She is pregnant by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus [He Saves], because he will save his people from their sins.”

It sounds like the fear Joseph was apparently struggling with there was fear of disobeying the law of God. He just wanted to do the right thing.

But the fear I’ve been pondering more lately is shown when, after Joseph found out Herod was dead, he took Mary and little Jesus back to Israel. Continue reading “Joseph wasn’t afraid of “rebellion, the sin like witchcraft””

What place does “striving” have in sanctification? A response to Heath Lambert

This is Part 3 of 3. You can read Part 1 here. You can read Part 2 here.

Recap

In yesterday’s post, I quoted Heath Lambert as saying that sanctification involves striving and moral effort (trying to be good). My contention, and that of others, is that our sanctification, godliness, holiness, power over sin, and pleasing God are all taken care of in Jesus (His perfect life, death, resurrection, ascension, and seating), and we have no striving to do to accomplish it; we are only to look to Him in faith for all these things to be accomplished.

But Lambert uses several Bible verses to support his point (laid out in Part 2), so it’s important to look at them all. Here they are, with my commentary. Continue reading “What place does “striving” have in sanctification? A response to Heath Lambert”

Reconciling the “resting” and the “striving,” with some thoughts from Heath Lambert

This is Part 2 of 3. In Part 1, I expressed the consternation I had experienced over Scriptures about “resting” and “striving” that seemed like they didn’t fit with each other.

So what do those “resting” verses really mean?

The Lord used several means to help me in my understanding: my Bible studies—especially Galatians, Romans, and Colossians—a sermon, and some key books. Even though I didn’t understand at that time the importance of asking the Holy Spirit to open my eyes to the Scriptures, still He had mercy on me.

The resting (in case you had as much trouble getting it as I did) is NOT about becoming a couch potato, lol. Continue reading “Reconciling the “resting” and the “striving,” with some thoughts from Heath Lambert”

Struggling with “striving”: When should I strive and when should I rest?

My despair

Back in 1994 when I was studying Leviticus (because it was my wilderness book), I wrote this in the margin at Leviticus chapter 2 (the boldface is added now):

II Peter 1:4 says that we as believers should be “partakers of the divine nature.” This passage shows the priests literally partaking of that which represents the divine nature of our lovely Lord. Then that bread of life becomes a part of us and we are influenced and strengthened by it. In all these ways mentioned, we should be striving to be like Him: the sweet-smelling life, the full anointing by the Holy Spirit, the fellowship of His sufferings. How far, how far I have to go!

Do you hear the wailing in my voice? Continue reading “Struggling with “striving”: When should I strive and when should I rest?”

Is exposing evildoers a violation of the ninth commandment? a response to Tim Challies (part two)

Recently Tim Challies wrote a two-part blog series about the ninth commandment (“Thou shalt not bear false witness”), what can be seen here and here. Part one of my response was posted yesterday. Today I’m continuing to respond to the questions he asks that he says are prompted by the ninth commandment. Continue reading “Is exposing evildoers a violation of the ninth commandment? a response to Tim Challies (part two)”

Is exposing evildoers a violation of the ninth commandment? a response to Tim Challies (part one)

A few days ago Tim Challies posted two blog posts about the ninth commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” here and here. He focused on how the ninth commandment applies in a day of social media.

Tim Challies and I go way back. Just kidding; he doesn’t know who I am, except as the author of a devotional book he had his daughter read and promoted in the video I referred to in my explanation of awkwardness in this Facebook post. (The awkwardness is born of the crossover between my two fields of writing: first, missionary books and biographies, and then, abuse in the worlds of fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism, which is Tim Challies’s world.) Continue reading “Is exposing evildoers a violation of the ninth commandment? a response to Tim Challies (part one)”

“Why are you so negative?” A response to “positive” people

Not long ago someone told me about her pastor’s sermons, almost all of which scolded his listeners for being “so negative” and urged them to be “more positive.” That led me to post a question about the topic on Facebook that led to an excellent discussion.

When I posted my question, I wanted to be spurred in my own thinking by my friends, and I wanted to hear the experiences of others. Mostly I wanted to think Biblically about discerning good from evil, warning others about evil, asking for help regarding evil, grieving evil, and other necessary kinds of speech that could be interpreted as “critical” or “negative.” Continue reading ““Why are you so negative?” A response to “positive” people”