Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Words Matter: and others think so too

Many of you have already visited these links, but just in case you have not, you can be sure that I am certainly not the only one addressing this unfortunate but timely topic. Here are some other very recent resources:

John Piper, Mark Driscoll, and Harsh Language

Clarifying “Harsh Language”

Bad Language in the Pulpit?

Martin Luther on Harsh Language

While the folks at Pulpit Magazine have closed comments on their Luther post, I would like to say something about harsh language as it pertains to Luther.

Those who would generally find themselves in a position to argue for the rest of lightening up and letting the language fly, will often say such things as "well then, you'd better quit quoting Luther since he was well known for his salty and harsh language". As if to say, if one of the most common names in chuch history and one of the most 'influentially used of God' (if I may say it that way) man in church history was known for his 'harsh language' then certainly you and I as well should be able to use this kind of vulgar and/or obscene speech to get a point across.

Allow me to answer in one word that you may be familiar with: BALONEY.

While I have not found the time to examine every word that ever flowed from Luther's lips or pen, I can easily say that no matter the name, no matter the reputation, no matter the social standing or the Christian "celeb" status (current or past) or the historic significance, anyone who ever chooses to speak in a profane, vulgar, obscene, lewd way is wrong. It doesn't matter if Luther did it, anymore than it would matter if John MacArthur did it, RC Sproul did it, James White did it, or anyone else with a name that no one would even recognize, did it. According to our standard, the Scriptures, they'd still be wrong. To ever hold anyone up as an example and then say "well, HE did it so I can too!" is placing a mere man in the role of standard, and not our Lord.

Our Lord didn't do it, so neither should we. It really IS that simple.

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From the Heart: Language Matters(2)

(originally posted 7/2006)

James 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

While cussing (using what polite society considers swear words) and cursing are not the same thing, the focus here is not necessarily just cussing. The focus is using vulgar, profane, offensive speech, which indeed includes both cussing and cursing (which can and does include hurtful, slanderous, condescending, insulting language - which is certainly offensive toward the target of such verbal assaults). The way we speak as believers should never include cussing, cursing, vulgar or offensive language as James 3:10 so clearly points out by asking the comparative questions.

When I was a teenager, I had a friend with a pretty cruel step-mom. She would berate & insult, scream and yell at my friend. She might be doing this and suddenly the phone would ring. If it was one of her friends, her tone would immediately change and she'd be the nicest person you'd ever want to hear. Friendly, polite, jovial, etc.

The first time I read that passage in James after I got saved, I thought of this woman. She had the capacity to rip someone apart with her speech (with much malice and intention to hurt), then 10 seconds later switch into sweet-mode. "Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?" With this woman, it certainly did, but she also didn't confess Christ or have the Word of God as her authority on such things. If she did, it would have certainly been even more shocking to hear her speak that way to people. Most of us would call that "being two-faced" but in our day it's not "loving" and/or "tolerant" to actually use that word. I don't use the word with any malice toward this woman, I'm just saying it like it is, she was in fact like this.

The reason I used that passage in James 3 is because it asks the very same questions I ask, as it pertains to Christians who cuss and use vulgar or obscene words or phrases to express themselves.

These are the rhetorical questions I have asked myself. I would think these would be the same questions any believer would be asking themselves. Essentially, do these kinds of words have any place in the mouths of believers? Scripture clearly says no.

You will also note, Scripture does not say:

“no, except if you’re trying to be relevant to the cultural context of your unsaved, immoral audience, then go right ahead and use the obscene and vulgar kind of language that they use, so you can get the point across in words they understand”.

You will never find that out-clause in Scripture. It’s not even in 1Cor.9:19-23, as some will use to excuse such things. In fact, in verse 21 of the "all things to all men" passage that so many today seem to want to use to validate or justify their language & conduct, Paul says this:

"To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law."

I find it interesting that he intentionally makes it clear that while he deeply desires to endear himself to those without law (wicked people without restraint or regard for God's holy standard whatsoever) so that he might be used to gain them, that he himself doesn't "go there" and become like them, because he is "not without law to God, but under the law to Christ". He's saying that he's a servant to them (see v.19), genuinely loving them and ministering words of grace to them because he is under the law to Christ (see Galatians 6:2). Some might say that he stepped out of his comfort zone to be among those without the law, so that he could express his faith and deliver the gospel message to them. To read this and use this any other way would be to say that Paul became/thought/said/lived/spoke like a wicked, sinful man on the outside (to fit in among those without the law), but on the inside, still believed he was under the law to Christ. I'm pretty sure that no serious student of the word is willing to defend that interpretation of this verse.

Not to mention, if Paul actually lived & spoke like those without law, and then would dare to make any attempt to present the gospel to them, they would be the first ones (in a heartbeat - the lost are pretty quick to pick up on this) to call him on it, big time! Remember how the unsaved reacted to the huge televangelist scandals in the 80's? Unbelievers will instantly and without reserve label such a man a fraud and a hypocrite. The unbeliever may be an unbeliever, but even they know that a Christian is supposed to sound and act different than they do. They know it, and we're supposed to know it as well.

I used Ephesians 4:29 as well in yesterday's post, and the words "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth" in this verse are referring to bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil speaking and maliciousness in verse 31. I would even go a step further and include the first 4 verses of Ephesians 5 that speaks to the very issue I'm referring to:

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness (obscenity), nor foolish talking (disgraceful, impious conversation), nor jesting (vulgar or lewd humor), which are not convenient (not fitting): but rather giving of thanks.

Ephesians 5:4 says it as clear as anything: this kind of language is not fitting for a follower of God.

As I said yesterday in my post, and will repeat again today:

There's a better way...

Not only is there a better way, there is a right way and a wrong way to communicate. While we all fall short of following after the right way 100% of the time (I know I certainly do) that does not negate what the Scriptures say, nor does it give us license to begin crafting excuses for it.

There is never a valid excuse before God, to do exactly the opposite of what the Bible tells us to do.

I have a few follow up thoughts on this that I will be posting tomorrow, Lord willing.

Monday, September 29, 2008

When Living Hurts

Life is weird sometimes.

There are good days and bad days, joyous seasons that put a spring in our step and nightmarish times that never seem to end. There is laundry to fold, kids to teach, dogs to feed, errands to run and dinner to cook. There are things to read, things to watch, things to write.

Then you hear news like this and the entire world just stops. I first read about this over the weekend and then watched a news report on the CBC evening news about it, last night. Some of you may know the Stauffer family, but whether you know them or not they are family in the Lord.

I find it striking that when something like this occurs to someone you know (and I don't know them personally, but I have read Terry's blog for a long time), your world seems to stop too. Suddenly the little things are much smaller and you couldn't care less about washing the dishes, no matter if the little things do actually matter and the dishes really do need to be done. Instead, you want to do something that takes this kind of pain away from someone. That's all you want to do, and you know you can't, and that makes it all the more frustrating.

Just after I watched the evening news last night that covered the Stauffer family's tragic news, I received news from another Christian family member that her sister had quite suddenly passed away. She was just diagnosed last month, and had only recently began treatment.

While I don't want to say "all you can do is pray" as if to say prayer isn't good enough, all you can do is pray. All you can do is leave it in God's ever-capable hands to bring comfort and peace and carry the family through this painful time. For whatever reason, we like to "fix" things and see immediate results and that's not always the way God does things when He handles things. Sometimes its a weird and frustrating battle within to make way for God to do what only He can do in the first place.

Our prayers are with the Stauffer family and the family of Amy today, and in the days ahead.

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From the Heart: Language Matters1

(originally posted 7/2006)

My husband and I visited a new church this past Sunday. With all new church visits, you're never really sure what you're going to hear. You hope it will be edifying and Biblical, and you hope to have a good report after your visit.

Thankfully, that was the case with the church we visited. I found it rather timely that during the sermon the pastor touched on the dangers of hardening our hearts, and becoming desensitized to sin. Specifically, he mentioned cussing. Using the language of the world. The hard, harsh, obscene, profane, vulgar speech that the unsaved quite often and quite easily use to express themselves. This is all too common in the days we're living in, and the evidence of this is with Christians who have adopted this habit and not only have no issue at all with cussing and using profane language, but go so far as to defend it. I would suggest that their hearts have become hard (obstinate, stubborn) toward these things, and in that they have closed themselves off from any kind of correction, or teachability. This is always a dangerous place to find ourselves.

In Hebrews 3:8-12 the practice of hardening one's heart to the things of God is shown to be a most grievous thing for those who do it. Bearing in mind this isn't written to unbelievers, it's written to "holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling" (v.1), and this is a warning that we too, can harden our own hearts to sinful things, and become obstinate about them.I know this topic has been covered repeatedly in the last few months, but I believe it warrants coverage again, and again, and again. As long as there are people out there professing Christ out of one side of their mouths, and using this kind of language out of the other, this is a topic that will always be timely.

Not long ago, our friend Phil Johnson at TeamPyro posted on this very subject and in linking to yet another post on the same topic at Daniel's blog, said this:

"I heartily affirm everything Daniel at Doulogos said about this issue. The comments in reply to that simple post show how volatile the issue is, and how recalcitrant some Christians these days can be in defending their indefensible use of bad language." (original post)

That word he used there, recalcitrant, is exactly what "hardened" in Hebrews 3:8-13 refers to. Stubborn, closed off, obstinate, hard.

It has been rightly pointed out that the real core of the matter on this subject, is the condition of the heart. In other words, if a man or woman is using a word or the kind of language we consider "cussing" just for the sake of being vulgar, or because they're just using a word for stronger impact, I would suggest that with the former, it's a genuine heart issue. With the latter, it's just an ill-thought-out form of pragmatic approach. It's easy to get the attention of people when you use profane language, but it takes much more work (and more thought) to say the same thing, using strong words that are not considered cussing.

I wanted to address this today after a friend recently shared with me a link to a local, southern Ontario publication produced by what he called "our own version of emerging church folks". The publication link is no longer available, but I will say that the language used on the website was some of the worst I’ve read yet, on a professing Christian website. It was incredibly offensive and vulgar and I will say this also, that it should offend, the believer. If it doesn't bother you, you should be asking yourself why bad language has no impact on your heart.

I would like to offer this piece of encouragement to the ECM folks (and others) that use this kind of language and think nothing of it.

Drop the language, please.

It's offensive, it doesn't impress our Lord, it grieves Him and it flies in the face of what the Scriptures exhort us to. In addition, even if you do have something profound and encouraging to share, it's incredibly difficult (if not impossible) for others to hear or read your message, when it's peppered with language so offensive that potential readers or listeners just give up, because they can't stand the vulgar or crass terms you're using.

There's a better way...

Pastor John MacArthur addressed this issue not too long ago when he wrote Grunge Christianity. Pastor John said (in reference to Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Seattle) after listening to several of his sermons:

“To be fair, he didn’t use the sort of four-letter expletives most people think of as cuss words—nothing that might get bleeped on broadcast television these days. Still, it would certainly be accurate to describe both his vocabulary and his subject matter at times as tasteless, indecent, crude, and utterly inappropriate for a minister of Christ. In every message I listened to, at least once he veered into territory that ought to be clearly marked off limits for the pulpit.” (This post at Pulpit Live netted over 100 comments on this subject, and I would encourage you to read through the comments there).

The fact is, it’s not just a handful of us overly-prudish women out here whining that people are saying bad things - as some have suggested. There are some Godly brothers out there who have been in ministry for many many years, with much to say about such conduct, and they’re saying the same things many of us lesser known folks are saying.

In John MacArthur’s piece on Grunge Christianity, he makes mention of a book review Tim Challies posted May of 2006 called “Confessions of a Reformission Rev” by Mark Driscoll. If you’ve never read that review, or the commenting that came afterward, I’d recommend you do that. (I only briefly participated in the discussions).

Look at this:

James 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

And this:

Colossians 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. 5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: 6 For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: 7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. 8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

And this:

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

In closing, I want to share with you a couple more quotes from the above mentioned post at TeamPyro:

"Dirty language and casual cussing seems to be a besetting sin in the "Emerging Church" movement. I don't know if it's a generational thing, a cultural thing, one of the ramifications of the blithe worldliness that pervades the philosophy behind the "Emerging Church," or all of the above. But I listened to the first few podcasts from Emergent, and I was floored by how freely vulgar language and "mild" profanity flows in the so-called "Emerging Conversation."


"we ought to aim at matching our words to our profession of faith"

Please know this - Christians that are offended by this language aren't "out to get" anyone or needlessly critiquing others for the sake of critique. We are genuinely offended and literally cringe when we hear this. It grieves us, and we believe it brings shame to the name of Christ to use the very kinds of language His word speaks against - all the while professing faith in Him.

I would strongly encourage those reading to pray about this. Rather than be stubborn and defend the use of such language, be receptive to what so many in the body are saying and see if there is any truth to the criticisms on this topic.

While this post may seem to single out those in the EMC, this subject is by no means exclusive to those who are a part of that movement/conversation. This is a widespread issue among Christianity in general. It should also be revealing that it is both men and women, young and old, and from a variety of denominational/doctrinal backgrounds that are speaking up with grave concern about this subject.

Part 2 of Language Matters, tomorrow.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Come to Me

To bless and encourage.

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Rationalizing Contextualization: aka excuses to play footsies with the old nature

In the podcast I linked to yesterday of Ingrid Schlueter interviewing Don Kistler, a point was made that really stood out to me. For those of you who have already had your fill of this topic, I just thought I'd let you know I'm not quite done with it. In fact, due to the fact that it's been an issue my entire life so far, and that I suspect it will be an issue for the rest of my life, its entirely possible that I may never be "done" with this topic.

In any event...

One of the excuses I have heard and read repeatedly by those who use either foul words or obscene/vulgar illustrations to make a point, is that such language must be used to be heard. To be heard, the explaination goes, you have to speak the language of the culture so that they can relate to you, and understand what you're saying. This of course lends to your credibility as being an authentic person and not a religious snob, and makes you and what you have to say relevent to that particular culture and those particular people.

Say whatever you want to say about that rationalization (or contextualization), in some ways it certainly does make sense. In the context of an educated adult speaking to an immature child, it makes sense that you would in a very particular way, use language they they understand. Every public school and home school teacher, and stay at home mom with young children understands this context quite well. The same can be said for travelling overseas or even across town into a very different culture. You would do your best to learn the language and understand the culture, if you didn't already know it, and speak in a way that you could be clearly understood. This is where the legitimacy of this argument ends, however.

When people use this rationalization to justify using language that the Scriptures very clearly teach against, what they're actually doing is nothing more than pleasing their own flesh and indulging in their own sinful desires - the desires of the old man. Yet, those that defend this, talk about "being real" or "getting real" or "being authentic".

The reality is, and this is the point that stood out to me in the SliceCast audio, is that every single one of us is quite capable of "getting real" and being "authentic". No matter how old you were when you were converted to Christ, it wouldn't take much for you (or me) to get in touch with the OLD MAN, and let it really fly. The reality is, each and every one of us could speak this way all day long, because each and every one of us are still in the unredeemed flesh. I know for a fact, that if I decided to get up tomorrow morning and "be authentic", and just act however I want, say whatever I want and blog whatever I want with no restraint whatsoever, there'd be some pretty shocked family members, church family members and you too... readers of this blog. I don't do that, because I don't want to "be authentic". I don't want the old Carla, I know her very very well and I don't like ANYTHING about her. She's quite easily ticked off, has no patience at all (with anyone or anything), is quite proficient at the oneliner cutdowns, makes excuses for her rotten conduct and uses language that would make a long haul truck driver cover his own ears. No, there is nothing good or admirable there at all, and yet that old person is still with me every day, and I battle her off constantly! Authentic? That's being authentic, because without Christ and apart from Christ that IS who I was (and much worse, trust me), and what I still struggle against every single day of my life.

As I listened to this point being made in the SliceCast, the verse of Scripture that came to mind was this one:

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Romans 6:6)

Other verses that speak to this same theme would be Ephesians 4:17-24, and Colossians 3:5-10. In all of these verses the theme is putting away or putting OFF the old man, the old nature (which definitely includes the way we speak) and putting ON the new man, or the new nature in Christ. It is clear and wonderful exhortation NOT to think, act, speak or do the things we used to do, when we were wallowing in sin and serving the flesh.

It's a daily battle that we DO engage in, and that we do not give in to, and then try to justify it by using the tired old "but if I don't speak this way people wont hear me". Especially as it pertains to sharing the words of life with the lost, the Scriptures themselves could not address this any clearer than they do:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1Cor. 1:18)

The gospel of Christ, the preaching of the cross - that is the power of God unto salvation. Not our lofty speech, not our vulgar illustrations, nothing BUT the simple and yet complex preaching of the person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Both the excuses to speak this way and the lame attempts to justify it, are nailed flat to the wall by the very Scriptures themselves.

Either we actually believe the written word and we continually resist conforming to this world, and make it a daily devotion to having our minds transfomed (as Romans 12:12 says) or we keep on being "authentic" (playing around with living/acting/thinking/speaking like the old man) and doing things our own way.

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From the Heart: WHAT did you say?!

As I proofread these posts before they go up, it occurs to me how they might sting. While I do not intend to be overly critical, by it's very nature this subject will sting those who are guilty of apathy or worse, guilty of actively participating in it. I hope it is understood that this series is not meant to tear down, but to point out a very real problem and hopefully offer a very real solution. With that said...

(originally posted 3/2006)

Over the last week, I've read "this is my blog" several times. In one context it was sort of said in a snarky way as if to say "if you don't like it, LEAVE". In the other two contexts it was said to remind people that the blog owners have a standard to uphold and there would be NO profanity or off-color language used there at all. The thought occured to me in both of those cases 'why does a Christian blogger have to remind his or her (primarily) Christian audience not to cuss in the comment section?'. It's a most disheartening sign of the times. Reflection of the times... if you will indulge me that title.

Can you imagine going to your Grandma's house and having to be reminded not to cuss in front of Grandma? How about your pastor taking the pulpit and one of the men in the church stopping him on the way to whisper "remember Pastor, there will be no cussing in your sermon today"? How about teaching a Bible study on Tuesday night in your church, and having one of the ladies slip you a note that says "now Mary, remember we don't use profanity to teach our lessons!".

Yesterday I wrote that the Christian blogging community had gone mad. I was only partially joking with that statement, but if you routinely surf "Christian blogs" you know exactly what I mean. Christians who cuss. Honestly it's simply UNTHINKABLE, and yet it’s our reality in modern Christianity. To remind a Christian not to cuss, is to me like reminding your children we do not drink ammonia. Or to remind your husband he shouldn't slug you in the face when he notices dinner isn't ready on time. Or to remind yourself that sticking a gun in the face of the bank teller is conduct unbecoming a Christian witness. These things are just a given - and so should be Christians not using, and abhorring the flithy language of the world, to make their point.

Or is that really the case? Is it a given? Quite recently I was having a discussion with a friend about this and he said “I can’t believe we actually have to have this conversation”. I thought to myself that if I had a dollar for every time I’ve said that same thing, I’d be so stinking rich that Bill Gates would green with envy every time he heard my name. Now that might be stretching things a little bit, but the point remains that I’ve also been quite taken aback that this is even a topic that has to be addressed among the household of faith. Obviously it is a topic that has to be addressed because somewhere along the way, we (the collective body of believers) have dropped the ball, become far too tolerant and accepting of worldly things, and this is the direct result.

I like analogies so I’m going to use one here. It’s also summer time and many of you have backyard pools. I’m referring to the above ground pools that you put up this time every year, then drop in the hose to fill it up. If you’ve been using this same pool for a few years, you already know (roughly) how long it takes from the time you turn the water on, until the pool is filled. You also know, maybe because you’ve done it, that if you forget to turn the water off at just the right time, you’re going to end up flooding your backyard.

We’ve essentially done the same thing in our local churches. Many will argue on the ‘when’ or the ‘why’ it even began, but I assure you it did in fact come primarily from the fine, wannabe philosophers that chose to entertain relativism - folks that can’t even agree if there is a final standard of truth, and if there is, what it is. That particular worldview came in, in large part, on the wheels of the ‘emerging church’ movement. I recall reading once that folks latch onto relativism because it gives them a sense of physical or emotional gratification, and then that in turn provides them with the defense or the excuse to do whatever they want. Put another way, its simply an excuse to indulge the flesh and do, or say, whatever they like.

Does that sound familiar to you in any way? It certainly will if you’ve ever had a drawn out discussion with a Christian who makes excuses for their own cussing, or that of others. Often times you can even hear them reciting the very heart of relativism in their defense, even if they don't actively profess to hold to it. That's how pervasive this trend has become, and it's not something you or I want to be ignoring and pretending doesn't affect us, or our churches.

While the primary or most dominant source or influence might be up for debate, it is however inarguable that simply not enough Christians spoke out against it in the beginning. Not enough pastors took it head on from the pulpit. Not enough speakers addressed it in their messages. There was not a unified voice among evangelicism that said NO, this is wrong and will not be tolerated. Indeed there were in fact many individuals who picked up on it right away and said “what is this we’re putting up with, in our churches??” but unfortunately they were in the minority, and went unheard for all intents and purposes. They are in what certainly appears to be the minority for sure, now.

Thankfully however, some of those individuals are pastors and they delivered that message from the pulpit and have continued to hold their churches to a higher standard all along. Praise God for these men of honourable character that do not bend with the modern trends, or make excuses to act like the world. They are a rare gem in our day, and I think we all know this.

Sadly however, many Christians assumed it was just a fringe group of rebellious young people or new believers that didn’t know better yet. Others tried to see the “good” in what was being said aside from the obscene and/or vulgar language, and then began excusing that language away in defense of the good messages found within. Still others were of the deluded and invincible attitude and declared "this wont happen in MY church" and even made comments to the affect of "I don't know why you waste time on this, it's a passing trend and won't affect Christ's church in the long run". Interestingly enough, some of the people that I know that said such things two years ago, are now outraged that such conduct and irreverance toward God's word is in their very own churches. They're certainly speaking out now.

We made excuses and/or looked the other way, and the end result is the same as if we’d neglected the hose in the pool. Only in this case it’s our local churches that in many cases are being flooded with this same relativistic mindset where cussing is just a normal part of speech, for a Christian. We didn’t speak up and speak out to stop it when it began, and now we get to deal with the flood, only this flood is one of vulgarity, profanity, irreverance and intolerance of any believer who is rightfully offended by such raunchy speech.

So in reality, while the idea that we even have to address this now might be stunning to some people, we really shouldn’t be so surprised because we did see it coming, we just didn’t do anything about it in the early stages of it. That was our biggest mistake.

The question is now: will we continue to excuse it and/or look the other way, hoping it will magically go away or get better, or do we take a bold stand for the truth of God’s word and be an exhortation to others to clean up their act, and raise their own standard to the same level of that of God’s word?

When I was a new believer and struggled with my own speech, I was abundantly blessed to have been in a church where this kind of language wouldn’t have been tolerated for one moment. In many ways it was a very legalistic setting, but at least in this regard they had it right on the mark. The standard for our speech is God’s word, not the way of the world.

I believe that’s the solution. Individuals and churches that take a strong stand for the standard of God’s word, as it pertains to our personal conduct – language included.

So while it may seem strange at first to see “no cussing in the comments” on Christian blogs, with primarily Christian readers and commenters, I find it rather refreshing that there are fellow bloggers and fellow Christians out there that are willing to say that, and mean it. I believe we need more of that.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2)

When Christianity doesn’t sound any different than the community of unbelievers we live in, you know something is very wrong.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dr. Don Kistler on Foul-Mouthed Preachers

Dr. Don Kistler is the guest on this Slicecast as he weighs in on the trend of foul-mouthed, pomo, bad-boy preachers. Don Kistler has edited over 150 books, and continues with a preaching and speaking ministry in churches around the country. Visit his website at DonKistler.com and also his publishing website, NorthamptonPress.org.

(Since I have decided to republish my series on Christian communication as it specifically pertains to this brand of language, I thought it pertitant to include this very timely podcast interview. While the subject matter is primarily profane, obscene, vulgar speech, I have myself been convicted by the messages I've listened to in the last 24 hours, in the broader sense of attitude behind any kind of speech. I cannot thank Sinclair Ferguson, Ingrid Schlueter and Don Kistler, enough.)

Great Christian t-shirts and gift ideas for the whole family

The Tongue, the Bridle, and the Blessing: An Exposition of James 3:1-12

Delivered last evening at the Desiring God conference by Sinclair Ferguson, this is without question the most powerful message I have ever heard on this topic. Please make the time, and absorb every word.

Great Christian t-shirts and gift ideas for the whole family

Be Thou My Vision

One of my favorite hymns of all time, and my favorite singer, and dear brother and friend, singing it.

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From the Heart: Our Speech Revisited

Originally posted 4/2005 as a contribution to a group blog/discussion forum no longer available to the public

Oh the Irony

Just minutes after posting on the use of what some might call colorful language, at one of the discussion threads here, I logged on to voice chat. By mistake, I clicked on a room name that looks very similar to the one I intended to enter. I didn’t realize it wasn’t the correct room until I saw who was moderating.

The topic? Well, how do you say this without sounding simply awful? The topic was, justifying the use of cussing and swearing (yes, including the F word, and any and all others) as long as it’s "used in the proper context."

Sound crazy? Yes it did to me too, especially considering some of the people at the mic and typing in the text seem to be people who are well studied in the Scripture. Many others in the room were quoting Scripture left and right, on how our speech ought to be above that which the world partakes of.

So what was being argued as to the “proper context” to be cussing and using profane speech? Well, one man argued that in the context of his own bedroom with his wife, it would be perfectly okay to “talk dirty” (his words) and use these kinds of words. Another man argued in certain contexts of anger or frustration its perfectly okay to use certain words.

I have to say, many people watching and listening to this exchange, were just floored. Over and over again the verses posted to refute this were ignored, and “how dare you infringe on my liberty” was the rallying cry of those justifying using vulgar speech.

I don’t know if this is a new attitude toward our speech, or if I’ve just begun to notice it more. I do know, I seem to run into this more and more, all the time. In my research into the emergent church, I’ve found countless blogs and websites of laymen and pastors alike that have this kind of language on them. While this is not to say that everyone involved in the emerging church movement speaks this way, it is to say that this is when/where I first began to notice the prevelant use of this kind of language among professing Christians.

I have admitted that when I was unsaved, I had a horrid problem with this kind of language. I didn’t know then that it was a problem, everyone I knew spoke the same way – it was normal to me. It was only after I was converted to Christ that this became a sticking point for me.

Let me be clear: I do not write about this, or take issue with this, because of a personal conviction – although it is because of that personal conviction that I was led to seek the wisdom of Scripture on this very topic. It isn’t what I think about this, or you, or the next person. This isn’t a subject open to private interpretation. The bottom line is what the Scripture teaches on it.
Over the last few months, since I first wrote on this I’ve read emails, private messages, and forum posts from others that are also becoming more and more concerned with the acceptance of this kind of language. Not only online, but in articles, books, and even from the pulpit. They (rightfully so) are repulsed that this has suddenly become an acceptable form of communication in our churches, from our pastors, and in general Christian conversation.

This seems to be all a part of modern Christianity. Freedom & liberty to say, think, do, and engage in whatever seems okay at the time. What has happened in our local churches that has opened this door? Why has our standard of holy living been lowered so low, that we don’t sound any different than the average man on the street?

It’s been pointed out by many, in the last few months, that we’re seeing a huge compromise in Christendom, on many fronts. Some are calling it a relaxation of strong conviction, others mention that it’s a general irreverence for what was once held in high regard, for the sake of tolerance and acceptance. Ecumenicism, postmodernism, liberalism, mysticism, humanism and many other touchy-feely warm fuzzies are being welcomed in the front door of the church. Would it be safe to assume using profane speech, is just another part of this? How much longer before our brothers and sisters in the faith are also condoning couples living together without the benefit of marriage, or doing drugs, getting drunk, or cheating on their taxes, or spouse, or possessing pornography? How much longer before we hear “well in the proper context, my Christian liberty affords me the position of enjoying these things”?

I cannot help but think of one verse that asks this question:

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

And the clear, unmistakable answer:

God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (Galatians 6:1-14, emphasis mine)

Have we really begun to take Scripture so lightly, that suddenly it’s now okay to go right back to those things that we once did... said... or thought?

Another passage that comes to mind this morning is this one:

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved) (Eph. 2:1-5)

Look at verse 2 that I have emphasized: “in time past ye walked according to the course of this world”

What does it mean to have once walked according to the course of the world? I believe the context of this verse spells it out pretty clear when we keep reading in verse 3: “the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind”

If that’s still not clear enough, let’s look at a few more verses:

• Ephesians 4: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

• 1Peter 4:3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries

• Titus 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

It's absolutely impossible to read through the New Testament and miss the recurring theme of "this is who we once were, and this is who we now are".

Have we really strayed so far from holy living, that it’s now okay for Christians to go right back to the former ways, and use the grace of God as our security blanket? To abuse our liberty to say, and do, whatever we feel like saying and doing, no matter who it offends? Someone once said “Christian liberty is not the freedom to do whatever we wish, it’s the power to live to please God.”

Does profane speech, please God? Let’s see:

• 2Ti 2:16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. (have we seen an increase, the more it's tolerated?)

• 1Co 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (are we seeing what was once good, now corrupt?)

I believe the answer is quite clear that cussing and using vulgar speech does NOT please God in any way. It’s the way of the world, it’s the language of the former man, the spiritually dead man. It’s the communication of the world, which we are told again and again, to have no part of. And yet we seem to have bought into the idea that we must be “culturally relevant” and “progressive” and “connect” with the culture around us. We’ve adopted this speech, and think everything’s fine, because “for the cause of the gospel”?

Modern Christianity may teach us this method is just fine, but Scripture has a higher standard. The real question I think, in all this, would be this: does the following attitude reflect the modern attitude?

• 1Thes. 2: 1 For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:2 But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

If it is not our first concern that our speech pleases God rather than men, we’ve got the wrong attitude about it.

I pray this encourages, convicts, and brings fruit. If you have read this and wish to defend the use of cuss words, as a believer, please, reconsider what the Scriptures teach us on these things. The only “proper context” for using such language, is from the lips of a man at enmity with God, walking according to the lusts of the flesh, according to the ways of this world, defending his pride. It has no place coming from the mouth of a man or woman, professing to love Christ.

There has never been a “proper context” for using the profane language of the world, for the believer.

Friday, September 26, 2008

From the Heart: Excuse my French?

(originally posted 1/2005)

An odd thing I've noticed more and more over the last few months is a trend (?) among Christians to use cuss/swear/vulgar words in their type-written literature.

Think on that for just a minute. You're at your keyboard typing away, emptying your head/heart/coffee cup, and intentionally and deliberately type out a word that is profane - the kind of word if uttered in school, or at church, or in front of your grandmother, you would be in more trouble for, than you ever dreamed of in your spookiest nightmares.

But this is 2005... its apparently okay for Christians to cuss now. Go ahead, you know you want to. It's all a part of "being authentic" in the new Christianity.

While reading a (no longer available) discussion thread on this same subject it was mentioned that there was once a time in our western culture that it was common for men to not even swear in mixed company. While once we lived in a time where if men did cuss in front of women they would immediately apologize, now we live in a time where Christians cuss, and don’t even bother to apologize.

I suppose part of the reason I have such an issue with this, is for the personal reasons.

When I was first converted to Christ, it was after 29 years of living in the world, and being a spiffy example of being very worldly. Some things He removed instantly, and others He did not. One of the things He did not take away - was my vulgar speech when I got angry. It bothered me, but it didn't bother me as much as it did later. I had not yet read what Scripture had to say about our tongue, and our speech.

One day, I was coming out of the grocery store and as I was pushing my grocery basket to my car, I noticed a lady with a few kids unloading her groceries into her car. What caused me to notice her was her language. Her kids were doing what kids do, not listening when she said "get in and put your seatbelts on". One was standing up in the front seat, and the other two were chasing each other around the car. Typical kid-stuff - grocery store parking lots are fun, when you're a kid.

Anyway... she snapped and began to unleash on those cute little kids the most vile stream of expletives, I have ever heard. Now let me just say here - it's not as if I was a stranger to this kind of language. For many years I was a metal-head. I mean, black leather clad head-banger type. All my friends were metal heads and all their friends were metal heads. We walked the walk, talked the talk, and lived what we were. It’s what sinners do.

But everything was different now... all the leather was gone, all the abandon was gone, and I was a new creation in Christ, and most desirous to live to please Him, and grow in grace.

So when I heard this woman unload this verbal-bomb on her children, I literally stopped mid-parking lot, and I'm sure my jaw dropped open like a little kid hearing the F word for the first time. I will never forget the impact those words, had on those kids. They were emotionally crushed. Their faces fell, their body language changed, they didn't even look her in the eye. They immediately calmed down, and almost as if in slow motion, got into their seats and put their seatbelts on. All the while I'm standing behind her car (she never even noticed me), with tears welling up in my eyes. The urge to go hug those cute little kids, was almost overwhelming. And she didn't stop cussing at them, AFTER they were in the car - that was when she took her opportunity to remind them how stupid they were, what brats they were, and so on and so forth, but said with just as many cusswords.

I wanted to say something to her... to them... but I didn't know what to say, or if saying anything at all was the right thing to do. I stood there like a statue, and started to cry. Eventually I got it together and walked away, toward my car, with a million thoughts racing through my heart. "They're going to speak just like her as they grow up"... "do they hear this all the time?"... "does their dad talk like this to them to?"... "I would have died if my mom ever talked to me like that"... and then the last thought, that overpowered them all was "this is what I sound like when I get mad".

That one - messed me up badly. What scum I was, daring for even one half of one iota of a second, to sit in judgement of that lady for doing the very same thing I did! So I went home crying, and told my husband about it. I said "is this what I sound like when I get mad and cuss?" he said no, not quite that bad, but sometimes very close. I was crushed as those kids in the parking lot. I had to go to my kids and tell them what I just witnessed, and apologized all over the place for EVER talking like that in front of them, or to them, and asked them to forgive me. After that I set out on a study to find out what the Bible says about our speech, and our conduct, and how we are to deal with both. If I was convicted by what I witnessed at the grocery store, and more convicted by what my husband said when I heard "not that bad, but close", I was thoroughly and absolutely UNDONE by what I read in Scripture about it.

The next many years was a constant and difficult battle to control my tongue, and it also grieved me deeply over the little battles lost. To this very day - I'm painfully and sharply mindful of it, and still, every once in a purple moon, I lose a tongue-control battle - BUT - compared to how it used to be, well, let's just say He's brought me a LONG way.

So I said all that to say this: YES I have a large issue with cussing, but not because I once had an "experience" that altered my view of it. The issue I have with it, is because the Bible is very clear about it, and condemns the practice of vulgar speech. Simply put, it's ugly and it's unedifying, and it's wrong.

I have even a larger issue with the idea that self-professed Christians cuss, and think absolutely nothing of it or even worse, defend it. Do they reflect back on their day and think "hmmm,,, guess maybe that wasn't a good thing to say, or type today"? I have no idea, but I sure hope so. I do know, sadly that they make no apologies for it publicly (the one's I've encountered lately).

Does all this sound snippy, and harsh, or petty and judgemental? Probably to those who cuss, it does. Maybe to those who like to make excuses for other people's behavior, it sounds too mean. Fair enough - forget everything you just read and read the following, instead:

• Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

• Col 4:6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

• Deut 6:6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

• Ps 37:30 The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.

• Ps 71:15 My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness and thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof. 16 I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.

• Pr 10:21 The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom.

• Pr 15:4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.

• Pr 16:23 The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips. 24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

• Pr 22:17 Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge. 18 For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips.

• Eph 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

I could easily list SO many more - James 3 for starters (if that doesn't hush people up, I don’t know what will). The bottom line is this: IT'S WRONG. It's wrong to speak this way, wrong to write this way, and wrong to ever attempt to justify either.

If you're a Christian that struggles with taming the tongue, welcome to the family - many of us do. But be THANKFUL it's a struggle, that He has convicted your heart of the ugliness and destructive nature of it. If you're a Christian that does not struggle with it, and makes no apologies for it... then... I offer this for you:

Col 3:1-17
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

If Christians who swear and use obscene language is part of being a "new kind of Christian" as I hear and read almost every day, NO THANK YOU. Give me the old paths, where I never have to say:

"Excuse my French"

From the Heart: The Mouth Speaks

(Originally posted 06/07)
God’s timing, in my estimation, is nothing short of absolutely incredible. For several reasons over the last few months, one of the most dominant conversations in my house and with those closest to me, is that of being a good example to others, and to the generation coming up after us. Holy living, growing in grace, ongoing sanctification and all of the above. For the Christian, being a good example is living like Jesus and being an example of Him in our words, thoughts and deeds. It’s that simple, and it’s that complicated – since most of us fully realize that we fall short each and every day.
Regardless of the fact that we do indeed fall short, the goal each and every day is to be an example of Christ, so toward that end we diligently pray, seek the wisdom and insights of those closest to us, seek to remain accountable, teachable, humble and open to correction. Sometimes, it’s not easy and other times it’s not so difficult, but at all times it’s the desire of our hearts and nothing can deter us from pushing onward toward that goal. And all of it, is by His precious grace in our lives. Not one of us has anything to boast of, because it’s all Him.
I mention that first to explain why this topic is so close to my heart. It is nothing short of a daily battle to keep vulgar, obscene, profane, hurtful, condescending words away from my ears, and the ears of my children. Not only to keep them away from our ears but to instill in them a right and balanced understanding of why these words are as poisonous as they are, how they should never be found in the heart or on the lips of anyone professing love for Christ. The daily battle I mention comes in the form of music, tv shows and commercials, music videos, movies we rent, text messaging, and more. Once upon a time the source of these kinds of words was exclusively in the unsaved camp, but now we have to add to the mix the fact that even professing Christians are using this kind of language and making a mockery of those who are genuinely offended by it. They use their “liberty in Christ” as a license to offend, and make you the fodder for their jokes when you mention it. How do we address that, with our children? It’s not an easy thing, I assure you.
Over the weekend it was brought to my attention that one of the posts here was linked to a message on another person’s blog that contained some of this kind of language, in defense of the idea that language is in a constant state of flux, and what may have been offensive to the more sensitive general public 100 years ago, is not always offensive today. I am fully aware of the fact that language does indeed change, but that certainly does not excuse us from using the Scripture as our holy standard for how we communicate, nor does it give us license to say or write whatever we want, and if it offends someone, “too bad” and “get over it, you colonialist prude” be our defense.
Further, when one of the “big name” blogs in evangelicism promotes and praises such material as this, it’s time for us to wake up and ask ourselves what in the world we’re doing (and saying). It’s high time to ask ourselves why we tolerate such language, and why we’re not more concerned with what the Bible says, than we are concerned with what the celebrities of Christian blogging think of us.
It is for this reason, beginning today and going through Friday, that I am going to repost five articles I’ve written over the last couple of years on this subject. Each will be slightly edited and updated, and while each one carries the same basic message, I am deeply convinced the timing has never been greater for us to play very close attention to this subject.
While I do believe we’re to be an encouragement and a source of edification toward those that are of likeminded faith, I also believe that we’ve (as a collective body) become too tolerant and even afraid of saying it like it is when it comes to offering genuine rebuke out of love for the truth and concern for others. We say we love the truth and we say we love our fellow brothers and sisters but when it comes to correction we run the other way out of fear of hurting their feelings or causing them to dislike us. As a result of that, too many of us just want to play nice and ignore the ungodly, completely worldly conduct going on right in our very own homes, churches, and broader Christian community. We’ve adopted this twisted idea that culture has changed so much that we need to be less rigid and more accepting to blend in. The old cliché comes to mind: “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything” as it pertains to this subject.
Some might argue that it’s not my place to offer such a message. I would like to explain on that front, that as a result of MY culture (I refer to the culture of Christian Motherhood), I would be a liar and a hypocrite if I sat and said nothing. My culture demands that I boldly speak this truth and speak it in love. While I do not desire to hurt anyone’s feelings or cause them to dislike me, my love for the truth and the defense of it is far more important to me than what someone “feels” as a result of being corrected. It’s my hope that they feel conviction by the Holy Spirit.
Part 1 of this series will be posted later today, Lord willing.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Name is Carla, and I'm a Bookaholic

The Gospel According to Jesus - Revised and Expanded Anniversary Edition See this?

It came in the mail yesterday, and I can hardly wait to read it. Its been on my "to read" list for a long time, and its finally sitting right here on my desk.

The only problem is, it's sitting on my desk with 13 other books that I have either started and haven't finished, or are also on the more immediate "to read" list. The newest additions to the list are In Christ Alone by Sinclair Ferguson and The Mortification of Sin by John Owen. The latter one I've had for a while (I won it, I never win anything, ever!), but I have this issue with starting a book when I haven't finished another. Oh... so many books, so little time!!

I'm going to be a big rebel and start the MacArthur book even though I have so many others unfinished.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Preach It, Sister?

Okay I'm a little confused. I'd sure like to be set straight on this matter so I'm going to put this out there for my readers and hope you can help me. Early this morning I stumbled across a link to a reformed theology conference. Here's the way it was described:

"Join us as Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Dr. D.A. Carson, and Dr. Diane Langberg shareGod's truths from Scripture."
I read that, then read it again, then read it again. Since I don't know and have never known of any men named Diane, my eyes just zeroed in on that woman's name in the promo spot for this conference. So I went to the site promoting it to read more.

Sure enough, Diane is in fact a woman, and sure enough she is one of the keynote conference speakers along with the men, and will be leading a seminar there with the topic "Deceitful Hearts and God's Call to Truth in Relationships". Sounds like a fine topic, and a much needed teaching, actually.

But, I'm perplexed, befuddled and confused. Now, this is a conference and not a church service, I get that. But this woman is going to be preaching and teaching from God's word, according to the conference promotion. How is that okay, and why are Albert Mohler and DA Carson okay with sharing the pulpit with a woman like this? Are they okay with it because it's not church and she's not a pastor? (I suppose if I could ask them directly they'd clear it right up, but since I can't ask them directly I'm just tossing this out there). Is this particular seminar for women only? The promo material doesn't say that. As you can tell, I have a lot of questions about this.

This looks wrong, feels wrong, seems wrong. While I am all FOR having well educated, theologically sound women delivering a message to encourage other women, I have a tremendously difficult time with the idea that she will be standing in a pulpit preaching and teaching from God's word where there will be men in attendance. For me, that places her in a position of spiritual authority over men as she delivers the word, and the Bible says this is not to be so.

So I'm asking you, my readers, to help me and set me straight on how this is okay, or why it's not okay. Please do share your thoughts? (For the record, I know nothing about this lady, but I will be taking some time today if possible to learn more about her).

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Comfort Foods: Ginger Spiced Pear Crisp

Since it's officially fall now, I'm going to begin posting recipes! As most of us moms now have our thoughts geared toward the approaching holiday season, and heartier cold weather recipes in general, I thought I'd share some of the things I enjoy making. First up, a nice way to serve up those bartlett pears. I do have to offer a general disclaimer though.

I learned how to bake from my grandma, and she doesn't usually measure anything with exact measurements, so neither do I. In gma's world, "some" is often 1 cup and "a little bit" is roughly 1 tablespoon. I called her on the phone once about 20 years ago asking for her world famous TO DIE FOR apple crisp recipe, and insisted she translate "some" and "just a little" and "not to much" into real measurements. It was rough going, but she figured it out. Bearing in mind she'd already been baking this way for her entire life (she just turned 90), getting her to translate her way into exact measurements was tricky even for her. Most of my recipes are like this, and this one is just from memory. If you like your pears a little spicier or your crumb topping a little crumblier, you might want to alter the amounts found below.

Ginger Spiced Pear Crisp

6 med. bartlett pears, peeled, cored and sliced
2 T. sugar
3 t. ginger
1 t. cinnamon
1 T. flour
Mix sugar, ginger, cinnamon and flour together, then toss with prepared pears. Pour the pear mixture into a greased 8 inch baking dish.


1 c. flour
1 c. oats
1 c. brown sugar
2 t. ginger
1 t. cinnamon
¼ c. butter

Mix dry ingredients until well blended, then cut in butter until the topping resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle loosely over the pears. Bake 30-35 minutes at 375, or until the topping is lightly browned. Great served with one scoop of vanilla ice cream.

This is really easy to make, and a double batch makes a great dessert dish to take to a church fellowship lunch or dinner.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

In search of: cool ties?

Someone came along today looking for "the aomin tie store".

I only do the graphics for TeamApologian, but if you're looking for a great, original and very cool tie, that brilliant designer is located right here. (A purchase from either shop makes a great gift for anyone, and all the proceeds go to supporting a fantastic Christian apologetic ministry - everyone wins!)

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When Words Are Like Daggers In The Spirit

Since posting my 3 part video series on language, I've had a few conversations with folks and rec'd a few emails from other folks that caused me to realize I wasn't nearly as clear as I could have been, or should have been. I would like to attempt to do that now, but before I do, I want to apologize to anyone I unintentionally offended by not being as clear as I should have.

First of all, what I addressed was a very narrow section of communication (cussing/profanity/vulgarity) and a very specific attitude towards it (justifying/excusing). I believe and am thoroughly convinced that the Scriptures are perfectly clear on this matter and a.) it is first and foremost offensive to God because it is ungodly and b.) Christians have no business using this kind of language or excusing it away.

With that said however, I need to simply say that this does not mean that ANY of us have arrived at 100% sanctification or that we ought to look down our noses at those who do speak this way, as if to say "I am better than you". Not by a long shot, on either point. If we do, then shame on us for such pride, and we'd better watch out because God has a very effective (and often humiliating and painful) way of revealing that pride still lingering in our own hearts.

As Christians, we're all in a different place maturity wise. Even the most seasoned saints among us who have been walking with God for 50+ years will confess that they still battle the tongue and need prayer to keep their attitude in check. None of us will arrive at 100% sanctification while still in the flesh. If we all lived to be 1,000 years old, we'd still battle the temptations of the flesh because we'd still be in the flesh. In other words, we all still do things, say things, feel things and think things that we shouldn't. All of us - so there is never a moment we can sit on a superior pedestal and have an arrogant attitude about any of this. Being convicted that this is a wrong way of speech and speaking up against those who do this and excuse it away, is not to say that "they" are wicked and horrile people and we are not, but it is to say that we're all in the same boat. Some of us (for whatever reason I cannot fully explain) are just far more mindful of this and sensitive to it, than others.

The other clarification I want to make is on the kinds of speech I didn't really address. A lot of times when this subject comes up, folks will mention that it's not just cuss words that are so destructive, but all sorts of other words as well, as well as, the intention behind those words. Examples of this kind of speech that do not contain cuss words at all would be "you're so stupid" and "you'll never amount to anything" or the worst one I think I ever heard "I wish you were never born". I heard an old woman say that once to a little kid, and it was quite frankly one of the worst things I think I've ever heard anyone say. Much worse than "I hate you", which is yet another example of corrupt communication that does not contain a single cuss word. While these sentiments do not contain cuss words, they are just as damaging (some would say moreso) to a child's ears as if you were able to literally chip away at their spirit with a sharp knife.

I didn't address that kind of speech simply because it generally isn't that kind of speech that any Christian would be caught defending or making excuses for, or calling you a Puritanical, prudish legalist if you don't agree with them on it. However, to be perfectly honest, it is often that kind of speech as well, that does contain vulgar or obscene words peppered into the phrases. "You're so _____ stupid" and "you're a piece of ______" are two phrases I used to hear a young mom say to her kids on a fairly regular basis when I was unsaved. I didn't spend much time around her personally because quite frankly she wasn't a very nice person to anyone (young or old), but she did run in the same circles I did, so I did hear her speak quite often. Her kids got the added bonus of growing up hearing both kinds of speech blended into the same sentiment. Her kids grew up knowing full well that cuss words carry the same weight as hateful words used intentionally to tear someone down.

For A LOT of people who grew up hearing words like that, they did in fact come in the same phrasing as the destructive words of condemnation, so they are to this day, still associated with that kind of verbal abuse.

Once again, I wish to say that speaking this way is wrong, period. It doesn't mean that those who don't are "better than" anyone else, it simply means their hearts are convicted by it, and they're aiming for a higher standard. It also doesn't mean that those who don't, don't still have ungodly thoughts or say ungodly things - because most of us still do. It does mean however that rather than just accept it as the way it is, we take the battle against our own flesh as serious as it is, and strive daily to overcome these temptations to express ourselves in this way.

It's not easy and we often fail (even daily), but its absolutely worth it.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Farewell Summer, Hello Icky Old Man Winter...

Well, the time for denial is over as the calendar officially tells me that this is the very last day of summer, and fall 2008 begins tomorrow. Summer 2008 was a great summer, and I will miss it.

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved fall. There are so many things about it to love, from the brilliant color change in the trees, to the crisp fall air and smell of woodsmoke in the air, to the tingly, anticipation of the soon coming holiday season of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Then of course there's also all the hearty "comfort foods" that go along with fall as well, such as homemade potato soup and a ginger spiced pear crisp dessert. Maybe part of the reason I battle losing that pesky 20 pounds, is because "comfort food" season in southern Ontario begins now, and doesn't end until around the end of April. That's 7 long months of being stuck inside, through a cold, dark, snowy, blowy, yucky season. This is the part of saying goodbye to summer that I really don't like. At all.

As I thought about this for the last few weeks, and thought about just how much I'm dreading winter this year (the older I get the more my bones literally ache with the cold weather), I realized a few things. In no particular order, here are some thoughts about getting old and saying goodbye to summer:

people who pack up and head for Florida after Canadian Thanksgiving (October 13th this year) are the smart ones (and for those who don't, the rest of the list is for you)
warm brownies with warm caramel sauce make -30 weather in January a little more tolerable
thermal socks rock (and I still don't have any... note to self: go to TSC hardware and buy 4 pair next payday)
put up the outdoor Christmas lights NOW, or they wont go up at all (like last year)
bad joints are more accurate than university educated meteorologists (if yours haven't begun to fall apart yet, find someone who's have, and they can tell you when its going to snow)
In February, when you've finally snapped, cut out a giant yellow circle from neon colored poster board and tape it to the ceiling. Turn up the heat to 90, put your shorts and tanks on and have a beach party on the kitchen floor. Ignore the 3 inches of ice on your windows, it'll mess with your summer-theme.

If you have any "I'm getting older therefore I'm smarter than I used to be and winter is coming so here's what we do" tips to add to the list, please feel free to share those.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Words DO Matter - So Why Not Aim HIGHER?

There are some Christians in our day who have bought into the idea that words themselves don't really matter, as much as the intent behind the use of the word. While intent certainly does matter, the words themselves do too. Some Christians believe that you can actually use cuss words, as long as you're using them to make a biblical point. One of the problems with this is, no matter what point you're trying to make, there are a lot of people that will be so offended and distracted by your use of such vile language, that the point itself will be hard to focus on.

For many people, cuss words or swear words bring with them mental images that are 100% ungodly. Whether these are words that refer to sexual immorality, or vulgar words that refer to bodily functions, or words that are designed to tear down one's character, all of these words fall into the same general categories of being demeaning, base, insulting or simply obscene. For many people, these words conjure up images or memories of verbal abuse they once suffered, or a way of life they once lived that was wholly dishonoring to God. Hearing these words from fellow believers, in many ways feels like a slap in the face - as we're told again and again that these words are "okay" to use, and we should simply accept them, and the use of them. Hearing these words, for those who continue to battle the temptation of the flesh to use them, is not edifying in any way but in many ways feels like a betrayal from those in leadership that we've come to expect better of. We do not need permission to spout off vulgarities, we desperately need exhortation to aim higher!

The more important factor at work here is the idea that biblical points in our day can't be made without the use of such words - or - that to reach certain groups of people we must use such language. Bottom line? This is a lie. It is absolutely untrue and contrary to Holy Scripture, that obscene or profane speech must ever be used to bring a Godly point to bear. While the Scriptures do record for us the use of very strong language meant to drive a point home, there is not one example in the Bible of a believer using profanity or obscenity as they delivered God's message. NOT ONE. Regardless of what some (who twist the Scripture to their own use) will tell you. Christian history is filled with accounts of dedicated, godly men and women who never once lowered the standard to this kind of language, to reach the lost and proclaim God's word.

Many will say that this issue with words today certainly isn't limited to cuss words, and I would heartily agree with that. You can tear someone apart with your words without ever once using a swear word. Using those words however, brings to the table a whole different category of condescension and malice and ugliness. Words of profanity and obscenity are and will always be in a category all their own, and they never bring glory to God. They cannot be cleaned up, as they don't exist in the first place, to be anything other than vulgar.

The bottom line is, we are called to a higher standard in our speech. Obscenity and profanity is the lowest form of communication, the laziest form, the most vulgar form. Such words have no place in a Christian's mind, heart, or mouth. It's hard for me to believe that this subject is even one that must be addressed among Christians, but this is where we are in Evangelicism 2008. Since it clearly must be addressed, I do hope that this short vid series helps in this regard.

a former foul-mouthed unbeliever, saved by grace and aiming higher, for His glory...

Words Matter - Aim High part one:

Part two:

Part three:

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Whip Crackin' Update3

So then, three months ago I started what I hoped would finally be a regular workout routine. I have never been able to stick with one, and I was hoping I'd have the hoo-haa to finally do that. I'm happy to report that I have indeed discovered my inner hoo-haa, and stuck with this routine.

As I've mentioned in previous updates, I work out with a set number of strenghthening/toning exercises, Monday through Friday and give myself weekends off. This past month went like that except for the week that I had a pity party. So I'll start with the not-so-great news first.

At 43 years old, after having 900 kids, the last thing I think any woman wants to hear, especially if she hasn't been pregnant for over 5 years, is "you look pregnant". If there is a way to crush your ambition and make you feel like Loser Extraordinairre, that's the way to do it. This past month someone actually said that to me, and I just sort of died a little. They weren't trying to be hurtful but it hurt (a lot) all the same. The thing is, 5 years ago when I was pregnant with my last child, I gained a massive (read: Orca) amount of weight. It's taken these last five years to get rid of it, and the last 15 pounds or so is all right in front. I recall as a kid hearing an older lady say once that it was a "pot gut" or a "mama lump" that all older moms have. Surely *I* would never have a pot gut, I thought. Pfft, welcome to never say never.

So I was massively discouraged and just gave myself all kinds of excuses to give up trying. For a week I pouted around when it was my usual time to work out and found plenty of other things to do. Then the pity party was over when I gave myself a pep talk and reminded myself that pouting never got rid of a mama lump. Hard work is the only way to do that. (or surgery, and that's not happening).

I got back at it, and for the rest of the month I did all my repetitions, struggling still with the ones that target my lower abs, and still not able to do more than 10 repetitions of those. Mama lumps are easy to gain, but very very resistant to going away.

On the advice of my daughter I quit worrying about checking my weight, and decided to go with measurements instead. I took all my measurements on 8/20 (and did not weigh-in all month long), and took them again today. I was rather stunned to add up the loss, which comes out to a grand total of 5.5 inches overall, in just the last month! Yay for me, I think I'm finally on my way to being able to wear clothes that actually fit the way they're supposed to, rather than slop around in my 1 size too big t-shirts.

On a more annoying note, I did actually weigh myself today on my evil, broken scale. It screamed up at me in a horrifying, shrill, banshee-like scream "you've GAINED five pounds you slob!!!" I did what any self-respecting middle aged homeschool mom would do. I killed it.

I don't believe it anyway, it's an evil scale. May it rest in peace at the county dump, forever.

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