Lesley’s Lagniappe ~ 4-28-15

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lagniappe

LITTLE+BOY1+FORCEMovie Review: Little Boy– Though containing elements of goodness in it, the “spirituality” the movie portrays ought to concern biblical Christians. The movie contains a weird spiritual combination of themes that while admittedly Christian, also projects a magical and occult worldview like a Harry Potter movie.

 

6f09bb629639dba36350e97e7192f9deBruce Jenner Gives God the Credit Sin Is Due– It grieves me that he believes God to be some unloving, sadistic ruler that finds delight in the suffering and emotional turmoil of his creation. This version of God – the one that makes people transgender, gay, etc. – is ironically described by the unbelieving world to be a god of “love.”

 

buffbaby20 Ridiculous Parenting Products That NO Parent Actually Needs– I don’t know, I kinda like the wearable mop thing.

 

 

False Teachers, Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer, Promoting Unbiblical Unity– If your church is still using Beth Moore materials it’s either because your pastor/church/women’s ministry is woefully behind on what’s going on in the evangelical world, or because you’re OK with anti-biblical teaching. Stop buying and using stuff from these women. They are false teachers. That’s not opinion, that’s biblical fact.

 

helping-boys-organize-responsibleFour Ways to Help Your Son Be Organized and Responsible for Life!– As a mom of a boy, you know that getting boys to clean up after themselves is hard to do. Maybe getting them to shower everyday and put on deodorant is slightly easier…right? But, teaching them good hygiene and cleaning up after themselves takes four things:

 

disapproveDiscernment in Music: Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong– Jorge, over at Faithful Stewardship, has a great great series called “Discernment in Music” in which he examines the lyrics of popular Christian songs to see if they’re biblical. Check out all his DiM articles!

 

 

Screen-Shot-2015-04-20-at-2.16.12-PM17 Signs That Your Church Is Becoming Secular– What does a secular church look like? A good, Bible-based Christian church will always feed its sheep out of God’s Word, and seeks to align itself with what it says. The secular church, on the other hand, follows the ways of the world.

Missions Monday ~ 4-27-15

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04-18-Bach

Missions Monday is designed to expose you to some awesome missions and evangelism stories, resources, and information in the shameless hope that you will be moved to get more involved in supporting and participating in missions and develop a greater burden for sharing the gospel with those around you.

Honduras-House-300x205_(1)_300_205_90Why You Should Consider Canceling Your Short-Term Mission Trip– Short-term missions is fraught with problems, and many wish such trips did not exist, at least in the common form today.

20141204li-0055_oralityap2015_16x9__large169Bible Storying Brings the Gospel to South Asian Hindu Women– Twenty women came to hear the young storytellers. Before meeting Karan and Gera, none of the women — all from a Hindu background — had ever heard about Jesus. In just a few months, 11 women at the sewing shop turned from Hinduism and believed in Jesus.

Calvin_City_Council_15491-300x191Does Calvinism Discourage Evangelism?– Whether we look to Scripture or church history, we quickly learn that a belief in God’s sovereign election — properly understood — is no deterrent to a passionate witness. In reality, it has the opposite effect. A right understanding actually motivates the missionary spirit.

Promise– The Great Commission is not just a command, it’s a promise.

image1Churches Give Hands-On Support for Missions Media– Missions sometimes has been a little too wide and not deep enough, and many churches want to be deeper in their mission involvement.

nepal_2_300_300_90The Gospel Near the Top of the World– Pradhan was imprisoned 14 times in Nepal between 1960 and 1975 for openly baptizing Hindu converts. While in jail he preached Christ to his cellmates and jailors, and saw dozens come to faith. He never wavered in his call to evangelism.

imagesScotland’s Protestant Martyrs: David Stratoun– Many followed his lead in rejecting the false doctrine of the medieval Church and embracing the gospel, spurred on in part—no doubt—by David’s own willingness to die in defense of the truth.

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Fear Not ~ 9 Biblical Ways to Trade Worry for Trust

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fear not

Did you have any fears as a child? Monsters? The dark? Dogs? When I was a little girl, I had this record of the story of Peter and the Wolf, and I was afraid of wolves at night (Look at the picture and listen to him growl. Can you blame me?). I just knew they were skulking around my bed in the dark, black as midnight, drooling rabidly, ready to shred me to ribbons should I stick so much as one toe out from under the covers. It was terrifying.

As adults, we look back on those childhood fears with some degree of smugness or embarrassment and think about how silly it was to be scared of something that was never a threat in the first place. But even if we don’t like to admit it, fear is something we grown ups still struggle with, at least from time to time. Finances, health, and our children’s futures may replace wolves, darkness, and the boogeyman, but fear is still fear, whether you’re four or forty.

And God is well aware of that fact.

In my Bible, the phrases “fear not,” “do not be afraid,” and other similar expressions appear over 75 times. Fear is a normal, God-given reaction that can be healthy and keep you safe in the event of a real threat. Fear is a blessing when it motivates you to jump out of the path of a speeding truck or stay away from a rattlesnake, but just like everything else affected by the Fall, fear can often be misdirected and thwart our growth in Christ.

Most of our fears as adults have nothing to do with tangible, imminent, life or limb danger. Usually, we are fearful of “what if’s.”

“What if I get a bad report from the doctor?”

“What if I get fired?”

“What if my teenage daughter gets pregnant?”

In other words, we worry about what might happen.

It’s really easy to sing “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus,” on Sunday, but much harder to actually do the work of trusting Him on Monday. Worry almost seems woven into the fiber of our DNA. In fact, worry has been such a common theme in the human experience that Jesus took time to address it during his Sermon on the Mount:

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 6:25-34

Clearly, it is not God’s will for us to worry. No matter how strangling our fear may feel, God wants us to trust Him in everything, from the most dire situation to the most mundane. But how?

1. Make sure the object of your trust is the right one.

A popular false teaching from the Word of Faith (prosperity gospel) camp these days is that it’s never God’s will for you to be sick, poor, or experience tragedy. If you just have enough faith, and decree and declare enough, you can yank whatever outcome you want right out of the hands of God. Do you know why that’s not true?

Arguably the mightiest men of faith in history, eleven of the twelve disciples were martyred. So was Paul. David, whom God said was “a man after His own heart” suffered tragedy after tragedy. Jesus Himself prayed in Gethsemane that God would keep Him from having to go to the cross, and God said no.

Like these godly men, as Christians, we do not place our faith in positive outcomes. We place our faith in Christ, and His sufficiency for us in all things, regardless of the outcome. Make sure you’re trusting Christ, not what you want Him to give you.

2. Get off the guilt train.

Sometimes we can fall into Satan’s trap of believing that if we’re really saved or really trusting the Lord or really have faith, we’ll never fear anything. Then, when those worries creep in, we start feeling guilty. We’re not supposed to have those feelings.

Have you ever read the story of Gideon? Gideon was one scared dude, and he had good reason to be. But even though he was scared and fumbling, he believed and obeyed the Lord. And the Lord commended him for being a man of great faith.

Trusting Christ doesn’t mean you’ll never be afraid of anything. Trusting Christ means you keep believing Him, keep loyal to Him, and keep obeying Him even when you are afraid.

3. Take reasonable precautions.

Trusting God doesn’t mean you should be careless. Eat healthy and exercise. Be frugal. Watch your children carefully. God gave us a whole book about using wisdom, and He gave us brains, so let’s use them.

4. You’re not in this by yourself.

God has promised never to leave you or forsake you. He has promised to give you the strength to deal with anything you come up against. He has promised you a way out of temptation. Trust that God is with you and will help you.

5. Rehearse your trust instead of your fear.

A lot of therapists will encourage you not to “repress” your fears but, rather, talk about them, write about them, examine them, etc. In other words, rehearse them (which only leads to more fear, because fear feeds off itself). But the Bible never says to do that. It says, “do not fear” and “trust in the Lord.” Period. No analysis required.

Those worries may start creeping in, but you don’t have to set the table and turn down the bed for them. Push them right out of your mind, slam the door behind them, and say (out loud is helpful), “No. I’m not going to worry. I’m going to trust the Lord.” You’ll still feel worried at first, but “fake it ’til you make it.” Your feelings will eventually follow.

6. Replace fearful thoughts with biblical thoughts.

After you’ve pushed those fearful thoughts out of your mind, consciously redirect your focus to trusting the Lord. Spend a few minutes in prayer asking God to help you trust Him. Put on some biblical worship music that focuses on the goodness of God, and sing along. Be thankful- start listing all the ways God is good and has blessed you. Recite and meditate on Scripture about trusting God. Some of my favorites are:

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3

For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. Psalm 112:6-7

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7

 7. Get your mind off it.

Watch a good movie. Have coffee with a friend. Better yet, serve someone who needs your help. Share the gospel with someone who’s lost. Get your mind off the worries and on to something better.

8. Get physical.

Go running or do some physical labor around the house or something like that. Either you’ll get some endorphins going and you’ll start feeling better or the shin splints and backache will completely erase any memory of whatever you were afraid of.

9. Repent and get a fresh start.

Sometimes (often, if you’re like me), you’re going to blow it. You’re going to give in to fear and let it control you instead of trusting God. You’re going to act on your fears and disobey God instead of trusting and obeying Him in spite of your fears. When that happens, don’t run away from the Lord. Run to Him. Repent and be forgiven. That’s what His mercy and grace are all about.

Worries are a normal part of life in a fallen world, but, in Christ, we are not to be enslaved by them. We have a Savior who is sovereign over all things. He clothes the grass with lilies. He feeds the wild birds. And He cares oh so much more for you. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and fear not.

How do you deal with worry in a godly way?

Throwback Thursday ~ In the Shadow of the Son

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Originally published March 6, 2013shadow son

Once, there was a father who sent his beloved son on a journey far away from home. The son was to seek out the father’s other children who had been separated from the father for quite some time. Quite willingly, the son went.

But when the son arrived at his destination, he found that his brothers had strayed away from where they were supposed to be, seeking greener pastures. So the son went after them and found them. He met them right where they were.

His brothers saw their father’s favored son coming for them. They hated him and everything he said and stood for because they knew he was to be in authority over them. It had been foretold. They conspired to kill him and bury him in a pit. Then, the prophecy of his authority over them would not come true.

The brothers stripped him of his robe and drenched it in the blood of an animal they had sacrificed for this purpose. They stripped him of his dignity, his favored status, and, if possible, his father’s love and approval. It was an attempted coup to knock the prince off his throne.

When they were finished, they threw him into a pit that had never held another man’s body. They sat down to eat, returning to life as usual.

But it wasn’t enough. Revenge is a meal that never satiates.

The brothers determined to turn the favored son over to a rough pack of wealthy heathens. They wouldn’t dirty their hands to kill him. Their brother’s life would rest in the hands of foreigners who had no part in their family line. And so the son’s fate was sealed.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Isaiah 53:8-9

His closest brother sold him out for pieces of silver, for the price of a slave. Life, as he knew it, was over.

Later, another brother would peer into the pit to see what had become of him. “He is gone!” the brother discovered to his great distress and sadness. Little did he know that the favored son had risen up out of the pit. He would rise in power to deliver the very brothers who had hated him and plotted his death, as well as myriads of others who didn’t even know him.

Who was this favored son? He is the One who has taken away our reproach and added us as sons and daughters into God’s family. He is Joseph, the forefather. He is Jesus, the Son.

Based on Genesis 37.

Wednesday’s Word ~ Deuteronomy 30

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circumcise heart

Deuteronomy 30

“And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will take you. And the Lord your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. And the Lord your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you. And you shall again obey the voice of the Lord and keep all his commandments that I command you today. The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, 10 when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

11 “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.


 

Questions to Consider:

1. To whom was this chapter written?

2. What are “all these things, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you” in verse 1? (Hint: Read Deuteronomy 28)

3. What are some of the material ways God promises to bless Israel if they will repent of their sin and obey Him (1-10)? Does God make these same promises of material prosperity to Christians today? Compare these promises to Israel with these promises God makes to Christians. Is God being inconsistent?

4. What would “I will circumcise your heart” (v. 6) have meant to an Old Testament Israelite? What does it mean for Christians today?

5. Was Israel capable of obeying God the way He was asking them to? (11-14) How does God enable Christians today to obey Him?

Lesley’s Lagniappe ~ 4-21-15

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lagniappe

church-for-sale_349_235_905 Actions Churches Should Take in a Changing Legal Culture– Maintaining a gospel-centered witness in today’s culture requires not only standing firm on the truths of Scripture, but also taking affirmative steps to protect the church’s freedom to continue peacefully teach and live out its faith.

 

magnet-a-clean-house-aA Clean House and a Wasted Life– You cannot have a home that is warm and full and inviting, you cannot have every child fed and cared for, while also having every dish done and every sock laundered. You just can’t.

 

Screen-Shot-2015-04-04-at-9.53.57-AMWhat Makes a Woman of Good Biblical Character?– When we grow in Christ, we see the fruit of what His Holy Spirit does as He changes us. Today we begin a series about women who have built a foundation of solid maturity. What does that look like?

 

Ridiculous B-Ball Shots– I think they might also have a lot full of used cars they’d like to sell you.

 

2645925100000578-2977184-The_incredible_photograph_shows_the_tiny_brown_weasel_clinging_t-a-16_1425378723824_kindlephoto-15682473Weasel Hitching a Ride on the Back of a Woodpecker– Although all appears rather amicable in the incredible image, amateur photographer Martin Le-May said the small mammal had actually pounced on the bird as its next victim.

 

guitar-music-sounds-755-1050x697The Story Behind the Song “I Stand in Awe”– I thought I’d attempt to write a song about the wonder and glory of God’s infinite attributes. Hey, how hard can it be to write a song about a being who is infinite, right?

 

Articles_HoroskopHoroscopes: To Read or Not to Read– Since astrology is an occult practice of divination severely condemned in God’s word, even horoscope columns are rooted in the occult. If you take reading horoscopes lightly or “in fun,” you are denying that the occult is forbidden or possibly dangerous.

Missions Monday ~ 4-20-15

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Missions Monday is designed to expose you to some awesome missions and evangelism stories, resources, and information in the shameless hope that you will be moved to get more involved in supporting and participating in missions and develop a greater burden for sharing the gospel with those around you.

 

Bible-Matthew-pd-300x300“Hope for Iowa”: Iowa Churches to Distribute Bibles to Every Home in City– In addition to distributing 10,000 English New Testaments, 1,500 Spanish Bibles and 100 Burmese Bibles will be freely given as well to ensure that everyone has a copy of the word of God in their language.

 

missionaryjobs_storyheader3__large16911 Missionary Jobs that You Won’t Believe– It’s easy to see that methods for sharing the gospel vary from person-to-person. God uses the gifts and interests that He gave us to reach the nations. Now, how will you use your gifts and job to share?

 

afshin-ziafat-pastor-of-providence-church-in-frisco-texas-speaks-at-the-erlc-leadership-summit-on-racial-reconciliation-on-march-27-2015Christians Must Love Muslims Even When Society Is Expecting Us to Hate Them– It all goes back to one lady who understood the Gospel, who said: ‘I’m gonna love this Iranian kid when everyone hates people from Iran,’

 

The Suffering Church

 

image1TWR’s Kenya Partner Ministering Despite Deadly Attacks in Garissa– Indeed, our deepest prayer is that the Lord would bring something good out of this tragedy. Watching the accounts of parents who lost their children because they were Christians is heartbreaking.

 

H7_0217-1024x683-e1428437871599-599x300Suicide in the Countryside– Life is hard for many women who live in the remote areas of Vietnam. Often they rise early and work late and bear the weight of responsibility for keeping their families going. Many of these women are without hope and some even resort to suicide.

 

Picturesque Europe. Containing ... engravings of views of its most interesting scenery. First series. (The Beauties of the Bosphorus; by Miss Pardoe, from drawings by W. H. Bartlett.)Our Missionaries Teach that Muhammed Is a Prophet?– While not well known to most Evangelical Christians, the idea that one can come to true saving faith in God while remaining in religious systems like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc…is rapidly becoming mainstream among the western missionaries we are sending and supporting.

 

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Photo courtesy of IMB Women imb.org/women

 

12 Techniques for Raising Bible-Saturated Kids ~ at Satisfaction Through Christ

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bible-saturated-kids

 

11. The Gratitude Game

Forget popping in a CD or DVD. This is a great way to harness that down time in the car (or anywhere else) and use it to teach your kids about prayer and thankfulness. It’s kind of like playing “I Spy.” Just look out the window and take turns thanking God for what you see: “Thank You, God, for making birds.” “Thank You for ice cream.” “Thank You for police officers who help us.” Or pray for people as you pass by various buildings. “God, please help the sick people in that hospital…help the pastor of that church do a good job of preaching Your word…provide homes for the people in that shelter…” We also made it a habit to pray for victims of accidents or tragedies whenever we saw an ambulance or fire truck.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 tells us to teach God’s word diligently to our children, to talk about it “when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Check out my latest article, 12 Techniques for Raising Bible-Saturated Kids over at Satisfaction Through Christ to learn some practical ways of capturing those little everyday moments and pouring Scripture and prayer into your children’s lives.

What are some fun or unique ways you’ve found
to pour God’s word into your children’s everyday lives?

Weak Women and the Idolatry of Personal Experience

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weak women

Well, here we go again. Another child claims to have taken another trip to Heaven complete with another face to face conversation with Jesus. Oh, and the child’s mother has written a book about it which prosperity pimp, T.D. Jakes, has optioned for his second unbiblical “I went to Heaven” movie. (Heaven is for Real was the first one.)

The gist of the story is that this sweet little girl, Annabel, was climbing a tree when a branch broke, causing her to fall head first, thirty feet into a hollow tree, where she was stuck for five hours. It’s unclear from the reports I’ve read whether this was actually a near death experience, the reports mentioning only that she was “unconscious” at some point (this is when she supposedly “went to Heaven”), and that she was rescued without injury. Additionally, Annabel had suffered for years with a very serious intenstinal disease, and after her accident, became asymptomatic.

These are nice people. Sincere people. The kind of people I’d probably be friends with if they went to my church.

And they have nicely, sincerely, and with the best of intentions fallen into what I think is the number one theological error facing Christian women today, namely, believing and trusting in human experience over God’s word.

Now, I don’t doubt the facts of this story: that Annabel had a dangerous and frightening accident, that she lost consciousness and had some sort of experience before awakening, that she had a serious intestinal disease, and that, in God’s perfect timing, He chose to heal Annabel shortly after this tree accident.

And the reason I don’t doubt any of that is that it is all based in verifiable fact (unless someone comes forward with documented evidence to the contrary) and none of it conflicts with God’s word.

But an actual “trip to Heaven”? That’s not based in verifiable fact and it does conflict with God’s word.

If you feel upset with me right now for saying that, I’d like to ask you to examine why that is. Why are you upset? On what do you base your belief that this child (or anyone else outside of documented cases in Scripture) has actually made a real trip to Heaven and come back to tell about it? Her say so? This child was nine years old when this happened. Nine. Colton Burpo (Heaven is for Real) was three. Alex Malarkey (The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven– which Alex has been recanting for years) was six.

Have you ever spent any time talking to a nine year old, a six year old, a three year old? A lot of them will tell you they believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, or that they have an imaginary friend, or that they’re a super hero. They’re very sincere and they aren’t lying, but they’re also very wrong because their beliefs are not based in fact and are strongly influenced by their immaturity. So why are we so quick to believe, based solely on their own say so, that the experiences these children had while unconscious were actual trips to Heaven?

For the same reason we love chick flicks and fairy tales and Hallmark movies, ladies. These stories appeal to our emotions. They make us feel good just like a rich piece of chocolate on a stressful day. And when you slap the “God” label on a story of childlike wonder coming out of a nice Christian family, our belief not only makes us feel good, we also feel justified in believing the story.

And God’s word says that kind of mindset is not for strong, discerning, godly women, it’s for weak women.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
2 Timothy 3:1-7

When we hold these “I went to Heaven” experiences (whether from children or adults) up to the light of Scripture, they crumble, from Hebrews 9:27, to the descriptions of God, Jesus, and Heaven that clearly contradict Scripture (and the descriptions from other people who supposedly went to Heaven and came back), to the sufficiency of Scripture, to the stark difference between Paul’s and John’s scripturally verified trips to Heaven and the trips being taken today (interestingly, Paul was stricken with a “thorn” after his trip to Heaven “to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations” while Annabel’s healing is being offered, in a whirlwind of publicity events, as proof that she went to Heaven), to the fact that the Bible doesn’t say anywhere that this kind of spiritual experience is valid or appropriate for Christians today.

The people who claim to have gone to Heaven had some sort of experience while unconscious, no doubt, but if they say that experience was an actual trip to Heaven, they are either mistaken or lying. It could have been a dream, a hallucination, an experience initiated by demons (let’s not forget that Satan was once an angel and continues to disguise himself as an angel of light), or a lie they’ve concocted, as was the case with Alex Malarkey. Yet, for some reason, Christian women, who, if asked point blank, would say that they believe the Bible is our ultimate authority for Christian belief, plunk down money for these books, movies, and other accessories, and eat these stories up with a spoon without ever engaging their brains and checking these supposed eyewitness accounts of Heaven against Scripture.

But “heavenly tourism” stories aren’t the only area in which we’re choosing to believe someone’s experience over Scripture.

Do you follow someone like Joyce Meyer, Beth Moore, Christine Caine, Lysa TerKeurst, or Paula White? These women all say that God “called” them to do what they do, which includes preaching to and instructing men in the church setting. Do you believe them when they say God “called” them? If so, you’re believing their supposed experience over the crystal clear word of God in 1 Timothy 2:12-14 (and plenty of other passages) which expressly forbids women from instructing men in the Scriptures or holding authority over men in the church.

And even putting aside the false and unbiblical doctrine these women teach, how many times have you heard one of them begin a sermon or teaching – not by reading God’s word and accurately teaching what the Bible says- but by telling a story about how God ostensibly “spoke” to them, acted in their lives in some way, or sent them a dream or a sign, and then basing their teaching on that experience rather than on God’s word? If you heed that kind of teaching, you’re believing their experience, not God’s word.

What about when it hits a little closer to home? You know God’s word says that homosexuality is a sin, but your 20 year old comes home and announces he’s marrying his boyfriend. So you just throw out that part of God’s word in favor of a happy experience with your son. You defend your right to swear like a sailor despite what God’s word says to the contrary. You “feel” that it was just fine for you to divorce your husband because you fell out of love with him, even though that’s not a biblically acceptable reason for divorce.

Ladies, if God’s word says it ain’t so, it ain’t so, no matter what you or I or anyone else experience to the contrary. And it doesn’t matter how real or vivid or intense that experience was or how right or godly it seemed– God’s word, and God’s word alone defines reality, truth, existence, right and wrong. And we’d better get with the program and submit to its authority. If not, well, I guess we’ll prove the truth of what Paul said by choosing to be those women he talked about: weak, burdened with sins, led astray by our emotions, and always learning yet never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

God doesn’t want you to be weak. He wants you to be a mighty woman of His word.

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
John 17:17

 

Additional Resources:

90 Minutes in Heaven on the Big Screen?

“The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven” Recants Story, Rebukes Christian Retailers

The Burpo-Malarkey Doctrine

Heaven Tourism

LifeWay Pulls Heaven Tourism for Good

Throwback Thursday ~ Hamartiology Hits the Homefront

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 Originally published March 1, 2013

hamartiology

I admit it. I struggle against sin. A lot of sin. Often.

Sometimes it’s a small, easily won skirmish. Sometimes it’s a hard fought, bloody battle. Yesterday, God helped me take a hill.

For a couple of weeks, I’d been feeding on this sort of casserole of worry, doubt, fear, unbelief, distrust, and frustration with the Lord. I needed Him to act, and He wasn’t acting. Every time I tried to pray about the issues that were tempting me into this mélange of anxiety, I ended up feeling even more anxious.

So I quit praying about it. Smart and spiritually mature, huh?

“Lord, You know what all these issues are. Please, just handle it.”

From time to time, it can be helpful to pray like that. But not when you’re using it as a semi-spiritual cover for avoidance, which is what I was doing.

Yesterday, I finally heard the bugle sound the call to arms. I felt God pushing me toward the battle line. The urgency to pray through this mess was absolutely compelling.

So I laid it all out before God. Every last bit of it.

And as I did, conviction of sin rolled in.

Sometimes we think of conviction as a negative thing. It makes us feel bad. Guilty. Humiliated.

But conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit is really a good thing for the Christian. It gives us pinpoint accuracy and clarity on exactly how we’re offending God. It gets everything out in the open and brings things to a head so that we can repent, be made right with Him, and start fresh. None of us is so weak that we can’t deal with a little guilt if it pushes us up and over the wall of repentance to reconciliation. Buck up, soldier.

As I continued to pray, God began bringing all manner of applicable Scripture to my mind (this is how God speaks to us—through His written word). I remembered how God dealt with the ungrateful, complaining Israelites in the wilderness. I also remembered what David said in Psalm 103:

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,

I realized my sin was a double edged sword of commission and omission. It wasn’t just what I was doing—doubting and worrying—it was also what I wasn’t doing—being thankful and remembering how God had been faithful to me in the past.

convection_weather2It reminded me of the way wind is formed. Warm air rises into the atmosphere, and cold air rushes in to fill the void left by the warm air. Voids don’t last long in our spiritual lives. Something is always rushing in to fill them.

At the end of a long day of fighting, my doubt, fear, unbelief, worry, distrust, and frustration lay on the battlefield as bloody casualties, replaced by fresh, mighty warriors of faith, gratitude, love, and remembrance.

Sin. It’s the only battle you can win by surrendering.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from
everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Psalm 103

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