Friday, July 18, 2014

Farewell from Theology for Girls

Dear Friends,
We truly  do live in  extraordinary  times don’t we?  Even people in their  20's  can remember  when there were no   cell phones,  MP3’s,  or  Smart  TV’s.   Now doesn’t that make  some of  you  younger  folks  feel old? 
But imagine being in your 60’s like me.  In the 1950’s our  telephone  was tethered to the wall and  had  a rotary dial and there were "party lines".    That meant you shared a line with other people in the community and they could pick up their phone and listen in on your conversation!    Our number was Gladstone 71088 and if you lived across town  the prefix was either Garden or Gilroy.   We had a wringer washer on the back porch and my momma bought our  first  black and white  TV with rabbit ears in 1955.  We had  a whoppin' 3 channels to choose from and  I Love Lucy and The Roy Rogers Show were among our favorites.
When I was married in 1973 we had advanced to color television but were still listening to music  on vinyl records and 8 track cassettes.  Any thought  of inventions like the cell phone or something as bizarre as the Internet would have been  considered  purely science fiction—not  to mention monumental  advancements yet to be made  in space exploration. 
But if you think  that seems like ancient history,  my Grandpa,  whom I knew well,  was born in 1890 and lived to be 95.    When he was young  he  traveled  by either horse, covered wagon, or train.  Experiments with “wireless telegraphy”  were still  embryonic  and   Marconi’s  first radio patent wasn’t  filed until  1897  when  Grandpa was  7 years old.   The  Wright  Brothers didn’t  fly their first plane until he was a teenager—and it's just plain crazy  to think that my 29 year old daughter was able to meet him.
When we  consider  how  relatively little the world  had changed up until the early  20th Century,   compared  to  the rate  knowledge is  increasing  in this generation,  it  absolutely boggles the mind!    I can’t help but think of Daniel 12:4  “But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.".  Don't you  wonder if  Christ will be returning soon?
The invention of the  Internet  was nothing short of  astonishing   and we've all come to understand  just  how easily  it can be used for both good and evil.   But what an incredible opportunity God’s people  have been given  here  to spread the Good News of salvation  through Jesus Christ to His glory and for the encouragement of His people! 
This is my final post here  at Theology for Girls and  I’ve  LOVED  the  time  sharing  my  heart  with you these past 5 years  and meeting  so many wonderful  new  friends.    But  it’s time to say good-bye to this blog for now  and  focus my attention  elsewhere.
  I want to thank all of my readers and  those who  have encouraged me along the way.   The  camaraderie  I’ve  shared  with fellow bloggers and  the  interaction with  our readers  has  been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.
  Please keep in touch!
"The  Lord bless you, and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.’
Numbers 6:24-26

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Celebrating the Ordinary

"We do not need special skills or special opportunities to do extraordinary things for the kingdom.   We need only to serve our extraordinary Lord in ordinary ways.   And He will and does bless that service.   We don't need another hero.  We change the world one diaper at a time.   For of such is the kingdom of God." 
R.C.Sproul Jr. 1

 1. R.C.Sproul Jr. "An Ordinary Christian Son" - Tabletalk Magazine;  August 2014   Tabletalk Magazine's  latest edition is entitled "The Ordinary Christian Life"

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Keeping the Word of His Patience

"Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth."  Revelation 3:10
“[Christ] is patient toward his saints—he bears with them, suffers from them.  He is “patient toward us” (2 Pet. 3:9)—that is, that believe.  The gospel is the word of Christ’s patience even to believers.   A soul acquainted with the gospel knows that there is no property of Christ rendered more glorious therein than that of his patience.   That he should bear with so many unkindnesses, so many causeless  breaches, so many neglects of his love, so many affronts done to his grace, so many violations of engagements as he does, it manifests his gospel to be not only the word of his grace but also of his patience.   He suffers also from them in all the reproaches they bring upon his name and ways; and he suffers in them, for “in all their afflictions he is afflicted.”
Overcoming Sin & Temptation – Three Classic Works by John Owen;  Edited by Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor;  Crossway Books;  2006 Pg.209

Monday, May 5, 2014


                     Hello Friends,
    I’ll  be taking an extended break from blogging and probably won’t be back till the end of the summer,  Lord willing.    There's  a lot on my agenda  right now,   so it’s best for me  to step away for awhile.
   We’ve got a crazy travel schedule with upcoming  mural projects we're juggling with   a  new ministry  here at home.     I’m also  working on some   writing projects that need  my undivided  attention.    Throw in summer  visits from the  kids and grandkids,   BBQ's and baseball games,  and  well,  there you have it!
  But please feel free to drop me line any time.   I'd love to hear from you.
  Wishing  you all a very fruitful summer filled to overflowing  with the joy of the Lord!
You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth;
  you have made summer and winter.”  Psalm 74:17



Photo: © Diane Bucknell 2014

Sunday, May 4, 2014

By Faith Alone

Romans 10:1-4   Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.  For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness.    For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Romans 1:17  "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” 
Ephesians 2:4-9 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Galatians 2:16  “know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” 
 Galatians 2:20-21   "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.   I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose."
Romans 11:6  "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace."
Galatians 3:11 " Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, "THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."
Romans 3:20 “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” 
Romans 3:28 “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”
Acts 13:39  “through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.”
Galatians 5:4  "You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.”
Titus 3:5-7   “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”   
John 3:16 “"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
John 3:36 “"He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
John 6:28-29  “Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
Isaiah 61:10  "I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness."
Romans 5:1 -2  "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God."

"For there is one God,
and one mediator also between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus" 
1 Timothy 2:6


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Meet Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

 "The church is always to be under the Word; she must be; we must keep her there. You must not assume that because the church started correctly, she will continue so. She did not do so in the New Testament times; she has not done so since. Without being constantly reformed by the Word the church becomes something very different. We must always keep the church under the Word." 1

"David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (20 December 1899 – 1 March 1981) was a Welsh Protestant minister, preacher and medical doctor who was influential in the Reformed wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century. For almost 30 years, he was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London. " 2  
Listen and download 1,600 sermons at the MLJ Trust Website 
1.  What is an Evangelical? The Banner of Truth Trust, 1992, p. 30.
2.   Martyn Lloyd-Jones Trust

Monday, April 28, 2014

Luther's "Alien Righteousness"

"... for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith;  
as it is written, "The just shall live by faith" 
Romans 1:17
  "In the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. ...this was the verse the Holy Spirit used to awaken Luther as he was preparing his lectures on the book of Romans.  He glanced at a manuscript from Augustine and  found where Augustine said the righteousness here is not God's righteousness but that which he provides for people, who do not have any righteousness.  It is the righteousness he makes available by free grace to all who believe.   Luther called it "alien righteousness."   The righteousness is not our own;  it is Jesus' righteousness.
   Luther sought every means he knew within the confines of the monastery to satisfy the demands of God's law, yet he had no peace.  Luther was an expert in the law of God, and every day he was in terror as he looked in the mirror of the law and examined his life against God's righteousness.   We are not in terror, because we have blocked out the view of God's righteousness.   We judge ourselves on a curve, measuring ourselves against others.  We never judge ourselves according to the standard of God's perfection.   If we did, we would be tormented like Martin Luther was in the monastery.    When Luther finally saw the doors of paradise swing open, he walked through, which is why he stood against kings and officials of the church.   He refused to compromise.  Once he had tasted the gospel of Jesus Christ and had been delivered from the pangs and torment of the law, nobody could take it from him."  [1]

Excerpt  from 2012 Ligonier Conference explaining why it's imperative to hold fast to the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Ligonier

[1] The Righteous shall Live by Faith - Romans - by RC. Sproul;  Crossway,  2009   pg 33-

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Daily Walking With God – Octavius Winslow

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today,  and forever." Hebrews 13:8

"You will make no advance in the divine life, if your eye is ever upon yourself instead of Christ. What though the experience of today is the opposite of the experience of yesterday-

Yesterday all brightness, today all cloudiness.  
Yesterday your soul like a well-tuned psalm,  today every string loosed and breathing no melody;  
Yesterday, Jesus felt to be so near and precious, today seeming to awaken not a loving emotion in your heart.

Yesterday, communion with God so sweet, today, none whatever.

Yesterday, desiring to walk uprightly, holily, and humbly, today detecting so much that is vacillating, weak, and vile.

 Nevertheless, Jesus is not changed. The work of Christ is the same- your acceptance in Him is the same- His intercession in heaven for you is the same; then, where should you fly to spiritual experiences for support, strength, and consolation- rising when they rise, falling when they fall- when all your standing, joy, peace, and hope are entirely out of yourself, and are solely in Christ?

What though you change a thousand times in one day?   He never changes.

God may vary His dispensations-

He may alter His mode of dealing.

He may change the nature of His discipline.
He may vary the lesson, but His loving-kindness and His truth are as unchangeable as His very being.
He may dry up the earthly cistern, but He will never seal up the heavenly fountain! -that will flow on in grace through all time, and in glory through all eternity."

Daily Walking With God  April 27th -  By Octavius Winslow, Leamington,1856.
Painting:  Woman Reading by Sidney Edward Dickinson - 1936  (American painter  1890-1980)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Beautiful Little Churches

 One of the things  I love about  watching the live stream video from the Shepherd’s Conference every year is listening to the men sing.     There’s just something  thrilling  about  hearing several thousand men    corporately singing praises to God, and especially when they sing a cappella.    Knowing  that these guys are faithfully serving the Lord  all over the world  is really encouraging    and  I'm  happy that our pastor was  able to be in the crowd.   
  In spite of all the criticism  about  “celebrity pastors”    I thank God for those men  who are faithful to the Scriptures  who  make the effort to  come and  minister  to the non-celebrity   pastors.  These men who come  from little churches (and bigger ones) are  often discouraged under the weight of ministry  but will  come away refreshed.    These conferences are  so needed because  the  number  of   men who pastor small churches   who have quit the ministry for no other reason than utter discouragement,  and perhaps financial hardship,   is  both staggering and heartbreaking.    
    The  church we belong to has less than a hundred members and  our pastor and his wife are true servants who  have faithfully ministered  there for 35 years.     Our pastor  and my husband graduated from their respective  Bible colleges  the same year and have been friends ever since.       A few   members  of our church  have been there even longer  than  our pastor.      Ours  may be a small congregation but the people there  are committed to sound doctrine,  to loving one another,  and to sharing the Gospel  of Christ with those around them.    What more could  we ask for?   
   I  hope  that  any pastor’s wife (or pastor) reading this,  who might be discouraged  because their church  isn’t growing in numbers  or because of any other problem,   won't give up and will be encouraged  to  continue  serving  those God has given them.       
   Pastor-Teacher Tom Pennington  gave an encouraging message to  the church leaders  and you can listen to it here:  Tom Pennington - Shepherd's Conference 2014 .   Here's some interesting  statistics he gave about the average church size in America:
 "Most of the New Testament churches were relatively small.   Men, size is not the Biblical standard of success!   It’s not even an accurate one!  You probably heard that the average church in the US has 186 attenders.  But that average understand,   is highly skewed by the mega churches.  According to the National Congregations  Study    the median church in the US  has 75 regular participants in worship on Sunday mornings.   In other words half the churches in the US have 75 attending on Sunday and less,  and half have more than 75.  If your church has 350 attenders or more then you are in the top 10% of the largest churches in the country.   It’s deceptive, the whole size thing—it’s  a lie—it’s  not even true!    And it’s certainly not even the standard.”   [1]
“Let us not lose heart in doing good,  for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” - Galatians 6:9

[1]  Tom Pennington   Pastor-Teacher  -Countryside Bible Church, Southlake, Texas  Shepherd's Conference 2014 - General Session VII - Tom Pennington 
Photo:  Historic Church in Yosemite National Park,  California

Friday, April 25, 2014

When Christians Can't Agree

 Most, if not all of us who  are Christians will eventually butt heads  with another brother or sister and usually a  healthy dose of    patience and humility will mend the rift.  But not always.
 There are times when  even the most like-minded  Christians reach a standoff  just   like   Paul and Barnabas did.   Here were two  missionaries,  one an Apostle,  who had been directly commissioned by the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel as a team. 
“Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”  Acts 13:2  
  This dynamic duo  had witnessed  so  many conversions among the Gentiles  throughout their journeys together   that the news of it  “brought great joy to all the brothers”  (Acts 15:3).    And yet,  their disagreement  over  whether  to  take John Mark  along  was so  sharp that the Greek word "paroxusmos"  indicates  their partnership dissolved not amicably but with violent emotions”.1  
 There is reason to suspect   that this waterloo was  not an isolated event and  may have  merely been the straw that broke the camel’s back.    Earlier,  Paul had a major problem in Antioch  when he publically rebuked Peter  for  kissing up to the Jews  and distancing himself from the Gentiles.   Peter’s duplicity had rubbed off on the other Jews who were with him  “so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.” (Gal. 2:13).   Added to that,  John Mark was Barnabas’ cousin  so family tension  likely played into the equation.
Matthew Henry

“Neither would yield, therefore there was no remedy but they must part.   We see that the best of men are but men, subject to like passions as we are.   Perhaps there were faults on both sides, as usual in such contentions.  Christ's example alone, is a copy without a blot.  Yet we are not to think it strange, if there are differences among wise and good men.   It will be so while we are in this imperfect state; we shall never be all of one mind till we come to heaven.”2
   We know that the story of Paul and Barnabas ended well  because Paul later wrote  in Barnabas` defense (I Cor. 9:6)  and spoke affectionately of John Mark as a co-laborer. (Col. 4:10).   

  But  what can we  glean from this account?     Irreconcilable differences  with other Christians happen sometimes.     Right or wrong,   I think it’s important to keep in mind  that  from an eternal perspective those who belong to the body of Christ,  are  still  unified  through  the blood of Christ regardless of earthly discord.     The church is currently  in a state of being sanctified and perfected and in the end  Christ  will  “present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle.”   (Eph. 5:26-27).    Or as Sinclair Ferguson put it,    "Until Christ's return, there  is only a pilgrim church here on the earth, not a perfected one." 3
    Our Lord did not  waste one precious word when He prayed,
  The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”  John 17: 22-23
   Christ’s Kingdom will advance  in spite of our differences  on secondary matters or  our  inability to work  together harmoniously at times.    Leaving room for the grace of God to work in our lives and  in the lives of those with whom we disagree,  will go a long way in bringing peace to  disrupted relationships.  
Chris Brauns

 “While it was sad that Paul and Barnabas parted company in this manner, and while they may not have handled the situation perfectly, it is significant that they both continued on for Christ.   The Lord’s work went forward.

…Christians must make every effort to resolve all differences.  But we should not be surprised when we come to an impasse.  We  live in a fallen world, and imperfect people cannot always sort everything out.  When we do come to an impasse, we should:
  • Accept that impasses happen.  If Paul and Barnabus came to one, then we might as well.
  • Fix our eyes on Jesus and continue on.  We must not quit.
  • Say less.  Without gossip a quarrel dies down.
  • Submit.  We must respect God-ordained authority.
  • Wait.  Time heals wounds that emotions and reason cannot.” 4  

1. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary - Acts 13-28;  Moody Press,  1996; Pg 82 . 
2. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary Acts 15 . 
3. Guidelines for Separation: Sinclair Ferguson;  Tabletalk Magazine-    June 2014
4. Unpacking Forgiveness by Chris Brauns;  Crossway, 2008  Pg.183, 186 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Blessing on Littleness

He will bless them that fear the Lord, both small and great.     (Psalm 115:13)  
"This is a word of cheer to those who are of humble station and mean estate. Our God has a very gracious consideration for those of small property, small talent, small influence, small weight. God careth for the small things in creation and even regards sparrows in their lighting upon the ground. Nothing is small to God, for He makes use of insignificant agents for the accomplishment of His purposes. Let the least among men seek of God a blessing upon his littleness, and he shall find his contracted sphere to be a happy one.
Among those who fear the Lord there are little and great. Some are babes, and others are giants. But these are all blessed. Little faith is blessed faith. Trembling hope is blessed hope. Every grace of the Holy Spirit, even though it be only in the bud, bears a blessing within it. Moreover, the Lord Jesus bought both the small and the great with the same precious blood, and He has engaged to preserve the lambs as well as the full-grown sheep. No mother overlooks her child because it is little; nay, the smaller it is, the more tenderly does she nurse it. If there be any preference with the Lord, He does not arrange them as "great and small" but as "small and great.""

Charles Spurgeon:  Morning and Evening – February 21

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

28 Years With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ's power may rest on me.”  
2 Corinthians 12:9
  It dawned on me this week  when I picked up a letter from my doctor  stating that I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and  hypothyroidism that  it might be time to write  a  post about this again. I’ve mentioned it  a couple of times here over the years and  I  don’t like talking about my health issues, but I figure if  being transparent once in awhile can help someone, then hey, why not? 

   I’ve learned to live with  this “invisible illness” by pacing myself and turning down the rheostat of my life.   Thankfully,  I’ve also  improved significantly from the early years when I couldn’t even get out of bed to take care of my family.    I still have relapses that knock me outta commission  occasionally but we humans are pretty adaptable,  and despite being miserable, we can learn ways  to compensate for  our limitations.    
   One of the most frustrating aspects of dealing with an illness of this nature (aside from the physical challenges) is  that  other  people often don’t comprehend  something they can’t see  (like being in a wheel chair)  or understand  (like someone with cancer).   Unfortunately , this often goes for the medical community as well.    People with invisible illnesses typically look quite healthy and are frequently labeled malingerers, lazy, or just depressed.    It’s enough to make you want to scream—if you had the energy to.   So we  just learn to  be quiet, come up with lots of good excuses for not doing things,  and try not to draw attention to ourselves.  
   For me, the sudden onset of  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome  changed my life literally overnight.   I felt perfectly healthy on  a  usual Sunday evening  in  September 1986.   I  attended  the evening  church service with my husband and three children—the oldest was 11 and the youngest  was 2.     I was a typical busy mommy who served at church,  sang in the choir,  loved to cook,  and enjoyed showing hospitality.   My husband had served in the ministry and was in the process of  taking a new pastorate and relocating to another state.    But on Monday  morning  I woke up so sick  I couldn’t raise my head off the pillow.  I had no idea what was happening because it  was like the  worse case of the flu imaginable, on steroids.    Weeks passed and I never improved and the   doctors were baffled.  By God’s grace I  found a doctor who  diagnosed me within the first 6 months.  This  was unusual  because even today  CFS is a difficult illness to diagnose  despite millions of dollars in research.   Back then the doctors called it “Chronic Epstein Barr Virus Syndrome”.   
  Long story short,  I never fully recovered.   The many symptoms waxed and waned…one step forward, two steps back for a decade and then I started feeling halfway human again.    It’s been off and on like that ever since but  for the most part  I can function  like a “normal” person now.

  CFS is often misdiagnosed due to other conditions with similar symptoms such as fibromyalgia, and autoimmune thyroid diseases.  I know first hand how hard it can be to  treat this for lack of figuring out what is causing what when you've got more than one of these things going on. 
  One of the most helpful books I've read in recent years is  Dr. Ridha Arem’s “The Thyroid Solution”.  Dr Arem is a world-renowned  endocrinologist  who runs the Texas Thyroid Institute in Houston, Texas.   And though his book is primarily about thyroid disease  he  includes a very helpful 4 page questionnaire to determine whether you may be   suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, or a combination of these conditions.  (1) 
  For more information about CFS  visit the The CFIDS Association of America website.   Here’s their short definition. 

         “What Is ME/CFS?
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS) and by other names, is a complex and debilitating chronic illness with a serious impact on one’s quality of life."
Resources  for people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Other related posts from here:

1. The Thyroid Solution;  Ridha Arem, M.D.; Ballantine Books;  New York; 2007pg 180