It turns out I have a lot of nice things to say lately. I just don't have any time at all to get on this blog and say them.
So, in case you haven't already figured it out, I'm putting Bathsheba's Children down for a little nap. I don't want to rule out picking this blog up again at some point. But this year has turned out to be busier than I expected.
I've been spending a lot less time at the computer, and a lot more time out in the physical realm interacting with people. I greatly enjoyed the days when I had long stretches of time at home, without the everyday hustle and bustle of pickup lines and lunchboxes. But for now, my time is measured out in rigid increments that are dictated by other people's schedules, and that means I have to hop to it in a way that I didn't have to in the past.
The bad news is, I rarely get to indulge in blogs. Even this one. And to be honest, many of the things going on in my life right now would make for inappropriate blog material. That's not to say that things are bad, just better left in the privacy of real life, and not advertised to every stranger who happens to stumble on here via Google. Or, perhaps more honestly, to those of you who I do happen to know in "real life."
So for now, with some regret, I must say good night. Feel free to read through my old posts. A few of them are actually worth it.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
It turns out I have a lot of nice things to say lately. I just don't have any time at all to get on this blog and say them.
Friday, August 28, 2009
If you don't have nuthin' nice to say, don't say nuthin' at all.
I'm not sure if my Mom ever actually dispensed this advice to me, or if I only heard it from Thumper in the movie Bambie. But either way, there are times when advice is worth heeding.
Alas, for me, now is such a time.
I don't have anything nice to say, and that is why you haven't heard me saying anything at all on this blog.
What is even worse is that I don't expect anything to change in the near future. If you are familiar with writer's block, I've got something similar. Only mine is spiritual in nature. I'm so spiritually blocked I don't know what to do about it.
There are, of course, some reasons that the above are happening. This blog just isn't the appropriate place to discuss them. Because I don't have anything nice to say--and so I'm not going to say anything at all.
It's a good thing I believe without a doubt in the perseverance of the saints. (That would basically mean, once saved, always saved.) Because if it was up to me...
But God never lets go. And I know He has not forsaken me. And I know He is always working all things out for my good. I know all of the right things to know. I just don't know where He is going with this one.
"Do not hide Your face from me; Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not leave me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation."
Sunday, July 19, 2009
I'm not glad I'm mad,
I would be glad if I was sad.
But I'm such a cad, I get mad.
I'd prefer to be glad, but every silly fad
That makes the church look bad
Makes me mad, mad, mad.
The more I'm exposed to what passes as Christian teaching, preaching, writing, and advice, the madder I get. So much of it is just plain bad. Some of it isn't even Christian at all, but should be considered practical advice that would apply to any religion or culture. Some of it is so basic that 3rd graders should be yawning at it. Some of it is worse than that and patently anti-biblical.
What is a girl to do?
I'll tell you what I do, I get mad. Well, that is putting it lightly. I have internal temper tantrums.
My husband deals with it much better. He has things like patience, and compassion, and *ick* concern and love. Hmph. I don't know where he is getting them, but I missed my dose lately.
I have this niggling feeling, though, that he in in possession of the more appropriate response.
Our culture gets the idea of submission all kinds of wrong.
You can hardly even utter the "s" word without the wrath of modern ideology being poured out by people who ought to know (and think) better.
Eyes roll, mouths tighten, necks stiffen...oh, I've seen it happen. And to be fair, there are often a few too-gleeful-and-triumphant looking husbands giving their wives the I-told-you-so look, whenever those *black and dreadful* verses-which-shall-not-be-named are read out loud.
Jesus never rolled His eyes and stiffened His neck when it came to submission.
And He never smirked in arrogant triumph at anyone either.
Instead, Jesus glorified and exalted submission as something to be highly desired, cultivated and sought after.
Jesus was GOD, you know...He spoke the world into creation. He laid the earth's foundations, marked off its dimensions, stretched a measuring line across it, and shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb. He takes the very light to its abode and puts the darkness into its residence. He fills the storehouses with snow and hail, and scatters the east winds over the earth. Every bolt of lightning reports back to Him, for He has created and directed each one of them. (Job chapter 38)
Can your mind even conceive of such vast greatness, can you even begin to consider the majesty and awesome power of Jesus? He is the beginning and the end, He dwells in light unapproachable, He is the WORD OF GOD MADE FLESH. He is the glory of all creation, and all flesh will fall on its knees and worship Him in the end.
And for all of that glory and power and authority and majesty, Jesus Christ submitted in ways that we probably can never fully appreciate. And He did it willingly, in perfect obedience, never demanding that His "rights" be given to Him, never whining that it was unfair. He made submission a glorious thing for us to emulate.
Jesus equated submission with greatness; He equated servant hood, and even slavery, with being the best, and first, position.
"But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.""
In Matthew 5:5, Jesus says, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."
So if Jesus, who was God, commended submission and meekness, why do we resent and fight back against it, in any of its many forms? Well, the big answer is that we are full of sin, but more specifically, I think, it's because we are full of PRIDE.
And the culture that we, as post-modern Americans, live in, encourages us to be filled to the brim with the nastiness of pride. I know, because I am naturally a very prideful person. By the grace of God, I can say that I have been sanctified a great deal in this area, but believe me, I understand this particular sin from the inside, out.
This pride tells us that we don't have to submit. That submission somehow is shameful and weak and 'less-than.' That it ain't fair, and that the people we are called to submit to certainly don't deserve our submission.
But contrast all of that "wisdom" with the true wisdom of Jesus. Jesus submitted to Mary and Joseph as His earthly parents, even though He was God. Jesus submitted to the government that he lived under, even though they only held power at His good pleasure. Ultimately, Jesus submitted to a gross and horrible death on the cross, at the hands of people who certainly hadn't done anything to deserve His submission. And He always acts in perfect submission to the will of the Father, with whom He is an equal.
So the next time your mind goes down the rabbit trail of pride, the next time you are tempted to think of submission in a negative light, consider Jesus, and consider it a glory to share with Him in submission, that you might be exalted by Him in due time.
1 Peter 5:5
Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "GOD RESISTS THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE."
Thursday, June 25, 2009
There are no deep insights into Scripture in this post. Just something that I need to get off my chest.
If you are a woman, you more than likely enjoy having friends. In fact, I think it is pretty safe to say that most ordinary women find friendship to be quite necessary, and will suffer if they find themselves lonely and isolated.
Christian women should never find themselves isolated and lonely. If they do, then the church is failing. Christian women should be the most welcoming, friendly, hospitable, outward reaching women in the community. We should be getting together and sharing deep, unusual friendships with each other so often that all of our non-Christian friends are jealous.
Unfortunately, I think the scenario I described above is rare. Perhaps you find yourself surrounded by a wonderful community of Christian sisters. Praise the Lord if that is the case. You may not realize how blessed you are.
I happen to live in a smallish town in the Bible Belt of America. There are literally churches on almost every corner in the town I live in. You would think that a young Christian woman moving here would find no lack of young Christian women eager to reach out and fold her into fellowship with them. But over and over again I hear differently. I hear of women who go to church and nobody asks them what their name is. I hear of women who have lived here for a year, all the while going to church, and have yet to be invited over to share a meal in another church member's home.
Shame on us.
I am forced to imagine that women who have lived in the same town for their entire life, and are surrounded by the friends they grew up with, have no idea what it feels like to need a friend. They have no idea what it means to be new in town and to feel lost and lonely, to go to church hoping to find friendships and companionship and leave every week feeling dejected and rejected. To listen to the women around them in Sunday School talk about parties and dinners together and wonder why nobody thought to include the new girl.
Shame. Shame. Shame.
Christian woman, let me tell you something. You might be the one who needs to extend yourself and reach out to that new face in town. It is going to cost you something. It is going to cost time and effort and emotional energy. You are going to have to risk being rejected. You are going to have to give up time with the people you already know and love, or perhaps put up with having an unfamiliar personality at your next gathering. It is going to cost you. But you MUST be willing to pay the price. It is an affront to the idea of Christian hospitality for you to leave people out and ignore them.
Or, you might be that new person in town who wonders why the Christians around you aren't acting like they ought. You, too, are going to have to reach out. It is almost certainly going to cost you something. You might very well be rejected by women who don't even understand how callous and uncaring they are being. You are going to have to feel your way through unfamiliar group dynamics and go to the effort of getting to know someone new. But you need other Christian women in your life, and the other women might not realize it yet, but they will be enriched by you too.
The town I live in happens to be the home of an Air Force base. And I've had the privilege of meeting and loving several women who are Air Force wives over the years. It is a story that always has a bitter sweet ending. All of them move away eventually and leave me with a little hole in my heart. But I am richer and wiser and fuller for having taken the time to develop friendships with them. And more than once they have expressed to me how glad they are that a 'local' woman was willing to take the risk of loving them. Because all too often, it doesn't happen.
That is a shame and a pity.
I think all of us women are tempted to sit at home and wonder why nobody calls us up and asks us to do something. It is easy to be lonely and feel sorry for yourself and how 'left out' you are. There is an simple solution to that kind of problem. Quit wishing for friends. Instead, be a friend. Be willing to make that phone call and extend the invitation. Be willing to let people into your home and show them that you might not be perfect. Take the chance, risk the rejection, and push the envelope. Be a friend. Because someone out there is feeling just as isolated and lonely as you are.
And that should never happen to a Christian woman.
My husband and I ran away from home last weekend. It was a last minute trip that we hadn't planned on making. But when the opportunity to get away presented itself, it didn't take us long to decide where we should go--Savannah, Georgia.
Savannah is well known for many things. There is that Paula Dean woman who likes lots of fatty ingredients in her decadent, down-home cooking. There is River Street and the St. Patrick's Day festivities. Lots of parks and squares and a phenomenal historic district round out the picture. (Along with a peculiar trait of Savannah, namely that it is its own universe unto itself, and if you don't happen to belong to its universe, then you, quite frankly, don't matter all that much.)
But what you might not happen to know about Savannah, Georgia, is that it is home to one of the most amazing churches, EVER. It is not one of those churches that finds itself front and center on the national stage; there are no super-star pastors, no trend setting programs or mega facilities. Instead, what you will find is an historic, elegantly beautiful sanctuary, filled with a vibrant, multi-generational congregation, a high view of corporate worship, and solid, expository preaching.
I mean, we sang a Psalm. And the choir sang a Psalm. We sang the Gloria Patri, said the Lord's Prayer and the Apostle's Creed. And the sermon was from the book of Jude. When is the last time you heard a young pastor preach through the text of Jude, one of the more difficult books in the New Testament?
The Sunday School lesson was just as sound. An actual teacher stood up and actually taught from the Biblical text. The (full) class had an intelligent, deep discussion about the text. Interesting questions were raised from class members who obviously had a grasp of the contents of the Bible. It was, quite simply, astounding.
And the surprising thing was this--the congregation at this very large, very traditional, very historic church was as friendly as you can possibly imagine. We were greeted and spoken to every time we turned around. Sadly, not all churches are so welcoming of strangers. I've heard stories of people who were asked to move because they were "sitting in someones pew." Can you imagine?
I think that I am in love. Seriously, if someone from Savannah offered my husband a job, I would start packing and stick a "For Sale" sign out in our front yard. It was that good.
Independent Presbyterian Church. Savannah, Georgia. Is it wrong to lust after thee?
Saturday, June 06, 2009
You know how sometimes you will hear something, perhaps randomly, or as an afterthought during a conversation, and it will just stick with you for a long time? One of those things that you keep turning over and poking at in your mind during odd moments?
Well, I've had two things that keep coming back to my mind over the past year or so. Both of them involve women who are in what would be considered full time ministry, and both of these particular women are well known and 'successful' in their ministries. But from the lips of each of them, I have heard confessions that in my mind, should cause them to seriously consider their qualifications for standing up and presenting themselves as teachers.
One woman admitted that while she would often take to a stage at large gatherings of Christian women and dispense marital advice, her own marriage was in shambles, and ultimately ended in divorce. The second woman shared that she didn't bother to read the Scripture verses her ministry was founded on until several months after she began 'ministering.'
I'm trying not to be overly judgmental about either scenario, but they just keep coming back to my mind over and over again. Perhaps its because I spent the last year researching and teaching from the book of Ruth. I can tell you that I spent many nights wide awake in bed, with that verse from James thundering through my head.
"Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly."
I just don't think you should take that verse lightly. The thought of the regular kind of judgment should be enough to give each of us pause every single day and in every single aspect of our lives. (As Christians, we can live in the joy and security of knowing that we have already been declared righteous, or justified, before the judgment seat of God, but that should never make us presume upon grace or be careless in our pursuit of holiness.)
But then you throw in the thought of getting a stricter judgment and its enough to make a girl lose some sleep. At least this girl. A very kind friend reassured me one morning, when perhaps I was a little bit green around the gills before I stood up and taught, that God has grace even for the errors that we make as teachers. A wonderful thought, yes, but I still believe that all teachers should approach their task with soberness and careful consideration. Imagine leading a tender young believer down the wrong path! Who would ever want to live with such responsibility?
All that to say that I think we, as consumers of Christian teaching, need to exercise more discernment in who we will accept as teachers. In particular, the woman who admitted to giving marriage advice while she knew that her own marriage was deteriorating has struck me again and again as appalling. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean that it is horrible that she had problems with her spouse, that is certainly common enough. But why, oh why, would anyone know that and then present themselves to the world as an example of a marriage to be emulated? Wouldn't you realize that doing so opens you, and the entire body of Christ, open to the merciless finger pointing of the non-Christian, of being called..."a big fat bunch of hypocrites, look at them, they talk about how much they care for marriage, and they get divorced just like the rest of us, who do they think they are?"
Well, I know (or I hope) that this woman is a sinner redeemed from the pit of destruction by grace alone through faith alone, and that whatever her failings might be, they are covered in the blood of our Great High Priest. But the world doesn't know that. And how many women who she dispensed advice to looked on her failed marriage as a cause to give up hope in their own circumstances? Or worse yet, follow her example and got divorced?
You know, the...'well if she, who is obviously so together and so righteous, because she stands up on a stage and says so, can't make a go of matrimony, then what hope is there for the rest of us regular slobs...' train of thought.
Oh, I forgot to mention this detail. After her divorce and subsequent remarriage, she continued in her original ministry.
It just makes me sad. And confused. Is there nobody who is willing to say, "We are very sorry for your troubles, but perhaps it would be better if you didn't expose yourself to stricter judgment by teaching about marriage from now on. Perhaps it would be wise instead to go home and press forward to the goal of being an excellent wife in the marriage that is most important--your own."
Human wisdom could point to all of the 'good' that she is doing in her public ministry. And yes, perhaps that might seem worthy. But again and again I have been confronted with how human wisdom fails to stand up to the wisdom of God found in Scripture. We almost always get it wrong when we rely on our own opinions.
Of course, there are no biblical requirements given for women who presume to be teachers. There are lots of very stringent requirement for men who presume to teach, shepherd and tend to God's flock. But at the very least, if a woman is gifted and has a desire to teach other women, shouldn't she have a personal life that is excellent in pursuit of holiness? Shouldn't she take the task seriously and with a healthy dose of the fear of the LORD?
And shouldn't we DEMAND such things? Not out of harsh condemnation or self righteousness, but out of love and concern for the woman who takes on the heavy burden of being held to a stricter judgment?
I for one think so.
And by the way, take some time to thank a woman who has been your teacher. You may not realize what a serious task she has undertaken, or what a serious responsibility it is that she has volunteered for. But most of all, insist that she be held to a high standard. For her own good.
"But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken."