The Role of the Wife, The Role of the WOMAN

Our culture has gotten exceedingly smart, but on one topic it seems we have become confused. I realize my stance is not a popular one and I realize I am in the minority, but please consider the Truth of the matter. Women, if you are desiring to live a Biblical life, then I encourage you to shut out what our culture is saying we need to be. When the Fall happened, one of the struggles God gave Eve was that her desire would be for her husband. This has often been established to mean that we as women will struggle with wanting to BE LIKE our husbands: take on the authority role in the home, work a full-time job, and have our husbands take on more culturally acceptable roles such as helping with the kids and household duties. These are things our husbands are to do, meaning, THEY are to be the authority, THEY are to work the land (have a job that supports the family) and THEY are to desire US to be in charge of the household duties and kids.

OK, so how could this be possibly incorrect? A further look at the understanding of  women desiring after our husbands, could also mean that we would not only want to be like our husbands but we would also desire his approval. We would subconsciously make an idol of our husband! The confusion digs its heals in deeper when we look at how society wants us to “lean in” and partner in our roles. That our roles are somehow fluid and you as a human can do whatever you want as long as your partner is on board.

To my women friends out there who are tired, overwhelmed, depressed, and utterly beat down by your life at the moment, I challenge you to take a good look at your lifestyle. Have you bought into society’s view of womanhood? If you say no, you are a Christian and feel you are living as He asks but still find yourself beat down, are you focusing on the things God has asked you to focus on? Are you focusing on HIM? Are you doing the things he has called you to do or are you trying to please everyone else around you, such as your husband and your kids? Have you made an idol of them!?

I encourage you to read Proverbs 31 today. She was a strong woman! Respected! She even worked and purchased land. She was SMART! But take a look at her priorities. It is often said comparison is never a good thing, but in the case of the Proverbs 31 woman, I feel a lot more of us would do well to model our own life after hers. Those who know me, know I am an over-achiever. Before I was saved, I was exactly what society told me to be. I was good at it! I was terribly lost and terribly unhappy on the inside. Once Jesus got a hold of me, things drastically changed. Go back to basics, sister. Honor God! Honor your husband by being the beautiful creature God made you to be… a WOMAN! Value and uphold your differences and embrace them.

Should we as Christians celebrate Ash Wednesday or the season of Lent?

While it has become a popular thing to celebrate among Evangelical Christians, Ash Wednesday and the Lenten Season is not something we should be too keen on celebrating. Most do not know that it is a medieval ascetic practice. An ascetic practice is when we try to discipline our body by putting major restrictions on it in order to achieve a higher spiritual state. With Lent, we are to fast for 40 days, or as it has changed in modern times, give up something that may be hard to give up. Lent in it’s original context as given by the Catholic church calls for very specific areas of asceticism.  (CCC § 2043) The fourth precept — “You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church” — ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts.”

While I am not saying to practice Lent is a major sin, you need to see what the New Testament says concerning how we should proceed. It is important to weigh any and all “church tradition” against scripture and hold fast to scripture far and above what man tells us to do. What I am calling for is a “take back” of what it means to “take out” Satan in an area of our lives. There are things that the world has bastardized and I feel strongly about redeeming things when necessary. This may be an instance of redemption of terms. Let’s take a look at what God says:

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:1-5)

The Bible also states:

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (Colossians 2:16–23

Taking back Lent really only means we are considering the original intent of why a group of men decided to ask their congregation to practice this in the first place. We must also consider these passages:

for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:8)

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:27)

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)

CONSIDER THIS: Jesus came and lived among us as a man. Think about that for longer than a second or two. Would the President of the United States ever decide to go live in the slums of New York? Or would the Queen of England give up her comforts in the Royal Palace to live with the servants? NEVER! But God did just that. He gave up everything, EVERYTHING, to live a life we could never live and die the death we deserve. This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. Not every Christian group observes this season, but this year I am encouraging you to look at what it means and why so many people “give up” something for the Lent Season (40 days leading up to Easter, technically 46 counting Sundays). People give up things for various reasons based on self-denial, penance, fasting, reducing sin, etc., etc. I often hear of people giving up things like chocolate, favorite foods, sugar, alcohol, procrastination, lying, gossip, road rage, and all sorts of other “things” that tend to spike sin or give us pleasure. While I suppose these are good ideas I’d like to look at some ideas that may be a better consideration to bring you closer to God.

As I mentioned, Jesus came and gave up everything. Satan tried to tempt him over 40 days with all sorts of things. He is the great deceiver. For us Christians he is no longer the great deceiver, but is most definitely the great distracter. He has figured out how to get us distracted from our work, distracted from our first love, distracted from serving God only. What is your distraction? TV? Facebook? Instagram? Strava? Sports? iPad Games? General Cell Phone Use? What takes your time? Look at your days and your week. You sleep 8 hours, you work 8 hours or are a full time mom, you do other life things like commute, eat, shower for about 2-4 hours. What do you do for the other 4-6 hours a day? Only you can answer the item that is a thorn in your side at this moment. What is your distraction? What do you tend to get sucked into? OK, do you have it? Write it down right now. Stop reading and write it down. (PAUSE)

I challenge you to give that up now. Don’t consider it a Lent activity, but commit to break the hold Satan has on you in this area. But don’t just give it up and replace it with something else. Replace it with time with God in prayer, reading His Word, serving or in outreach. If you are giving up a large chunk of time, like 3 hours a day of TV, then break it up. Read your Bible for an hour a day, read a book about theology, and pray more. If this is too large to handle, then take the 3 hours and give half to God. Watch TV for only an hour and a half, and spend the other time with God. Same with athletic training. If you still need to train, consider taking a portion of that time and giving it to God. Figure out something that is doable but that is still a sacrifice to you. It should not be easy. Then do it! Constantly remind yourself of all the things Jesus gave up for all of us. If you are brave, I encourage you to comment below with the item that you want to give up. The benefit is that we will all be praying specifically for you to stay strong. Let’s do this together and honor God in our sacrifice. Let’s not allow Satan to win his war on the saints of distraction warfare. Place God first! Resolve today to become a better ambassador, a stronger believer, a more faithful Christian.

White Space and the Imaginary Trophy Case

I’ve chosen to live my life with a lot of white space. I see my friends rushing around like crazy people always busy busy busy. The idol of the American Soccer Mom is her family’s imaginary trophy case. Trophies such as: How many after school activities can my kids participate in? How many meaningful classes and programs can I fit into my life to show the world I have purpose? Forget keeping up with the Joneses, I want to be the Joneses. This seems like the battle cry, or rather exhausted sob, of practically everyone I know. Depression is rampant, child medication is necessary, and anxiety over a self-conceived world that is spinning dangerously close to the edge seems the norm these days.

I’ll have none of that, thank you very much. I’ll take lazy mornings reading and praying. Days spent in my most comfortable clothing working in a career that I’d do for free if I could. Enjoying long bike rides and talks with my best friend and husband. The ability to be home to emphatically greet my child as he rushes in the door from school to give me a big hug. Afternoons spent hearing about the happenings of the day and being read a night time story by my 8 year old. Being available to my community. Going to bed when I choose and sleeping like a baby without any stress of the days to come because I’m free. 

All this is because I look at all the white space in my calendar as a gift. That space is precious. It affords me peace. It allows me time to be able to help someone in need. Living counter to what culture has dictated I should be doing, allows me to do the things I want to be doing. Give yourself a little more white space this season. Look at every “yes” you want to commit to and reconsider it. Is it your best yes? Edit your life. Ruthlessly cut out the things that are not your best yes and fill up your calendar with as much white space as possible. Pruning can be painful, but the beautiful growth that occurs afterward is worth it!

My Flesh Cries Out in Agony

My own spirit and the Spirit inside me want only You, but my flesh cries out in constant agony over its desires. Like a kicking and screaming toddler, my flesh wants its way. Holy Spirit, give me dedication and devotion like Daniel. Help me to find better discipline. Help me to love You better, love You more, love you fully, love you best!

Are You Willing to be a Servant?

The below chapter is out of The Calvary Road by Roy and Revel Hession, Christian Literature Crusade, Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. I hope you enjoy this and it helps you gain deeper insight into how we should respond to one another in light of our salvation.

Are You Willing to be a Servant (Chapter 8)

Nothing is clearer from the New Testament than that the Lord Jesus expects us to take the low position of servants. This is not just an extra obligation, which we may or may not assume as we please. It is the very heart of that new relationship which the disciple is to take up to God and to his fellows if he is to know fellowship with Christ and any degree of holiness in his life. When we understand the humbling and self-emptying that is involved in really being a servant, it becomes evident that only those who are prepared to live quite definitely under the shadow of Calvary, ever contemplating the humility and brokenness of the Lord Jesus for us, will be willing for that position.

As we approach this subject and its personal application in detail to our lives, there are three preliminary things which need to be said to prepare us to understand the low and humbling position which He wants us to take.

In the Old Testament two sorts of servants are mentioned. There are the hired servants, who have wages paid to them and have certain rights. Then there are the bond-servants, or slaves, who have no rights, who receive no wages and who have no appeal. The Hebrews were forbidden ever to make bond-servants of their own race. Only of the Gentiles were they permitted to take such slaves. When, however, we come to the New Testament, the word in the Greek for the servant of the Lord Jesus Christ is not “hired servant” but “bond-servant,” by which is meant to be shown that our position is one where we have no rights and no appeal, where we are the absolute property of our Master, to be treated and disposed of just as He wishes.

Further, we shall see more clearly still what our position is to be when we understand that we are to be the bond-servants of One who was Himself willing to be a bond-servant. Nothing shows better the amazing humility of the Lord Jesus, whose servants we are to be, than that “though He was in the form of God, He counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God, but emptied Himself and took upon Him the form of a bondservant” (Phil. 2: 6,7)–without rights, willing to be treated as the will of the Father and the malice of men might decree, if only He might thereby serve men and bring them back to God. And you and I are to be the bond-servants of Him who was and always is a bondservant, whose disposition is ever that of humility and whose activity is ever that of humbling Himself to serve His creatures. How utterly low, then, is our true position! How this shows us what it means to be ruled by the Lord Jesus!

That leads us to something further. Our servanthood to the Lord Jesus is to express itself in our servanthood to our fellows. Says Paul, “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus, the Lord, and ourselves your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.” The low position we take toward the Lord Jesus is judged by Him by the low position we take in our relationship with our fellows. An unwillingness to serve others in costly, humbling ways He takes to be an unwillingness to serve Him, and we thus put ourselves out of fellowship with Him.

We are now in a position to apply all this much more personally to our lives. God spoke to me some time ago through Luke 17: 7-10. “But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterwards thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do.”

I see here five marks of the bond-servant. First of all, he must be willing to have one thing on top of another put upon him, without any consideration being given him. On top of a hard day in the field the servant in the parable had immediately to prepare his master’s meal, and on top of that he had to wait at table–and all that before he had had any food himself. He just went and did it, expecting nothing else. How unwilling we are for this! How quickly there are murmurings and bitterness in our hearts when that sort of thing is expected of us. But the moment we start murmuring, we are acting as if we had rights, and a bond-servant hasn’t any!

Secondly, in doing this he must be willing not to be thanked for it. How often we serve others, but what selfpity we have in our hearts and how bitterly we complain that they take it as a matter of course and do not thank us for it. But a bond-servant must be willing for that. Hired servants may expect something, but not bond-servants.

And, thirdly, having done all this, he must not charge the other with selfishness. As I read the passage, I could not but feel that the master was rather selfish and inconsiderate. But there is no such charge from the bond-servant. He exists to serve the interests of his master and the selfishness or otherwise of his master does not come into it with him. But we? We can perhaps allow ourselves to be “put upon” by others, and are willing perhaps not to be thanked for what we do, but how we charge the other in our minds with selfishness! But that is not the place of a bond-servant. He is to find in the selfishness of others but a further opportunity to identify himself afresh with His Lord as the servant of all.

But there is a fourth step still to which we must go. Having done all that, there is no ground for pride or self-congratulation, but we must confess that we are unprofitable servants, that is, that we are of no real use to God or man in ourselves. We must confess again and again that “in us, that is in our flesh, there dwelleth no good thing,” that, if we have acted thus, it is no thanks to us, whose hearts are naturally proud and stubborn, but only to the Lord Jesus, who dwells in us and who has made us willing.

The bottom of self is quite knocked out by the fifth and last step–the admission that doing and bearing what we have in the way of meekness and humility, we have not done one stitch more than it was our duty to do. God made man in the first place simply that he might be God’s bond-servant. Man’s sin has simply consisted in his refusal to be God’s bond-servant. His restoration can only be, then, a restoration to the position of a bond-servant. A man, then, has not done anything specially meritorious when he has consented to take that position, for he was created and redeemed for that very thing.

This, then, is the Way of the Cross. It is the way that God’s lowly Bond-servant first trod for us, and should not we, the bond-servants of that Bond-servant, tread it still? Does it seem hard and forbidding, this way down? Be assured, it is the only way up. It was the way by which the Lord Jesus reached the Throne, and it is the way by which we too reach the place of spiritual power, authority and fruitfulness. Those who tread this path are radiant, happy souls, overflowing with the life of their Lord. They have found “he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” to be true for them as for their Lord. Where before humility was an unwelcome intruder to be put up with only on occasions, she has now become the spouse of their souls, to whom they have wedded themselves for ever. If darkness and unrest enter their souls it is only because somewhere on some point they have been unwilling to walk with her in the paths of meekness and brokenness. But she is ever ready to welcome them back into her company, as they seek her face in repentance.

That brings us to the all-important matter of repentance. We shall not enter into more abundant life merely by resolving that we shall be humbler in the future. There are attitudes and actions which have already taken place and are still being persisted in (if only by our unwillingness to apologise for them) that must first be repented of. The Lord Jesus did not take upon Him the form of a bond-servant merely to give us an example, but that He might die for these very sins upon the cross, and open a fountain in His precious Blood where they can all be washed away. But that Blood cannot be applied to the sins of our proud heart until we have been broken in repentance as to what has already happened and as to what we already are. This will mean allowing the light of God to go through every part of our hearts and into every one of our relationships. It will mean that we shall have to see that the sins of pride, which God will show us, made it necessary for Jesus to come from heaven and die on the Cross that they might be forgiven. It will mean not only asking Him to forgive us but asking others too. And that will be humbling indeed. But as we crawl through the door of the broken ones we shall emerge into the light and glory of the highway of holiness and humility.

Dread

Philippians 2:12 says to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”  If we are called to work out something, that means to figure out results by taking action, by doing something. This is what the Greek word “katergazomai” means. It is a tricky word but when you see how it is used in Scripture in the other 23 times you will start to understand that it does not simply mean to “ponder” or “think” about something. If we are to do something about it and in that “doing” it will cause us “fear and trembling” then dare I say this is a serious thing we need to do?

If we look up what the Greek words for “fear” and “trembling” mean we find “phobos” and “tromos”. You can guess the root for “phobos” as we find it in our word “phobias”. When you understand how the Greeks used it, they usually meant it in a way that comes over a person physically. Like terror or something that is frightening and takes over our whole body. We “fear” so many things today that the word has lost its weight. I think the word “terror” may be better because it is more rich and accurate to how the Greek word “phobos” was used.

The Greek word for trembling is “tromos” which means “anxiety induced trembling” and also its root is found in the word “tremo” which means to be afraid. Going further, the primary Greek word that they are both from is “treo” which means to dread something or be terrified. These are powerful words! We are told to really dig deep and work hard in a very intense way to make sure we are saved.

My dear reader, I must warn you though, the devil is crafty. This is not a call to continually doubt your salvation. Oh, how he would love that! Our Fruit Audit has two purposes. It is a call to edify the church. If you are truly saved, taking the Fruit Audit will assure you and lift you up. On the contrary, if you are convicted, have feelings of guilt, or see your life as not bearing fruit, then by all means doubt your salvation. Allow the Holy Spirit to convict and convince you of your sin, righteousness, and yes, judgment. That is what you must dread. The power and holiness of God, that is what you must tremble before. Get right with God! See what it truly means to grow from the Source of Living Water.

11:11 IMHO

God is a God of numbers. He created them. They are purposeful. Do you ever find yourself looking at the clock and it is exactly 11:11? It happens to me all the time. In fact, there is a whole group of people out there who have tried to determine the meaning of this odd yet widespread phenomenon. Here is my take on it.
Numbers have significant meaning all over the Bible. A few that I am sure you will understand are the following: 40, 7, 666, 1000. These are just several of the many numeric symbols that are found throughout Scripture. The number 1 relates to God is One. The number 11 or 11:11 is not something that is referenced in Scripture, so here is where I am purely speculating, so please indulge me in this little slice of “smile time.” For me, whenever I see the clock and it reads 1:11 or 11:11 my heart smiles, I smile. If anyone is near my I scream “Eleven eleven! Eleven eleven!” Most people think I am nuts but I love it. Why? Because all I see is God. For that brief moment, God reminds me to look up. I see those little numbers as little arrows all pointing up. I see those little number 1’s all in a row as God’s army and am reminded of my purpose on this earth. I see the number 1 and remember this world and our existence is not about me but is fully and completely about the 1 who died for us. Jesus. I see those 1’s and am reminded that God is ONE. The Alpha and Omega. God IS. So, the next time you look at your clock and see those numbers, take a moment to praise God for his perfect timing and his grace and mercy on you. I view it as a God “wink” telling me I am on track. It is like when I wink at my kid as a private visual “hug” so he knows I am watching him. He loves that. I love it too when my amazingly powerful and all-knowing Dad gives me this little smile from Heaven.
Cheers!

Speculation in a Scary and Dangerous Thing

In the scholarly circles of men there is a buzz of speculation that tends to occur. Why and how things work that seemingly have no answer. Natural conundrums without explanation or reason. But when we get into scholarly debate and speculation on God, the sky seems to be the limit. Or is the sky the limit? Because when I begin to really contemplate God, my mind starts to hurt because it is somewhere out in orbit where I cannot seem to breathe.

So, I need to take a step back. To speculate on any answer that is not answered in the Bible is wrong. Dead wrong. God has revealed to us all he wanted to reveal to us. Of course the Bible cannot contain the depth and breadth of who he is or what his plan is. But here is where I get excited…

You know when you watch a movie, but not just any movie, but a REALLY good one? Those are the ones that when you get up from your seat you say to yourself and those around you, even perfect strangers, “WOW! I didn’t see THAT coming!” Somehow I think when I die, I will say that over and over again in wonder, joy, and awe. Wow, I never realized that is why… or Wow, I would have never thought THAT is who you were talking about… and on and on.

There are mysteries still that we will not know or understand until we are on the other side of eternity. What a glorious day to see my Savior’s face, and how fun it will be to look back on history with a crystal clear picture of God’s perfect and wondrous plan.

A New Year’s Mess

Father, I am a mess. You are so good and incredible. You are everything and I am nothing. I am here at your feet humbly asking for forgiveness. I am a mess. A literal mess. You know I very much dislike this feeling. I feel fully out of control. I know you are sovereign. You are in control of every single molecule. You are my rock. My salvation. My strength. My hope. I am pitiful and poor. I am void. Only through you do I find any sense of being and validity. Without you I am fully and completely nothing. My flesh wants so badly to correct me on that point. My flesh wants so badly to be right. But it is wrong. I am nothing. My flesh is nothing. My flesh is death. Through you I find life. Through your Spirit I find peace. Holy Spirit I cry out to you for more of you. Please give me more of you. Almighty Father bless me with more faith this year. Help me to obey and become a good child and a good servant. I desire to hear well done from you. Please give me boldness. Give me love. Give me compassion. More of your Holy Spirit to guide my heart. I need more of you. Please I beg you for more faith and more of your Spirit. Those two things I ask this year. I desire to know you more. I desire to desire you more. To grow in my Sanctification. To grow in the knowledge of you! Your divine power has granted to me all the things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of You who called me to your own glory and excellence! Help me to uphold those standards of excellence for your glory. Thank you for calling me. Thank you for granting me understanding and wisdom. Thank you for your peace and your grace. I boldly step out with confidence only because you are with me.

An Impossible Christmas Story

We celebrate Christmas every year, hopefully focusing on the glory of God, celebrating His work on the cross, and His unmatchable amazing gift he bestowed on His people, the gift of eternal life. We celebrate by coming together with family, eating, or rather stuffing ourselves with delicious foods, and exchange gifts to show our love for each other.

But consider that first Christmas. While yes, God came down as man in the form of helpless baby, consider the other side. Jesus left His thrown. Jesus, who is continually praised and worshiped by the angels did the unthinkable. The interesting part of this story, is what makes it so factual. Who would think up such a thing? The Pharisees did not even see it. They were looking for a King to take over and make things better. A baby? A man who came to be slaughtered? Oh, no, no, no. That was unthinkable.

Would the President of the United States, or any president or king of another country step down from his or her office, their rightful place, and go live in the slums, get beaten unjustly, accused for wrongs they never committed, then die for people who hated them? It sounds ridiculous, but that is exactly what Jesus did. He did it because it was the only way. He did it because he not only loves us, he LIKES us. Think about THAT for a minute.

During this Christmas season, I encourage you to sit for a while in quite contemplating the story behind Christmas. Contemplate the horror and weight of the real story. The angels were rejoicing when baby Jesus came on the scene but had they known his plans I bet that verse would have exchanged rejoicing for weeping. Don’t get me wrong, what a GLORIOUS plan He fulfilled, but be sure it was a plan with such weight and such penetrating radical love that no human being would ever consider it plausible.

Thank you Jesus for your undefinable untouchable unchangeable love for us. You came to be with us, to live a life we never could and to die a death we deserve. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for healing us. Thank you for choosing us. Thank you for You!

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