31 July 2008

Vocation vs Vacation

So I am in my first week of training and working for a living isn't for cowards. It is especially taxing to start a new job and learn something from an entry level when you've been in a near vegetative state as a couch potato for several years. Darn! I was just getting the hang of doing nothing while ignoring my swollen guilt glands.

I actually enjoy learning but I am thinking it will all be better when I am being productive. I remember talking to students about the doctrine of vocation. Most had never considered such a thing. We get messages all the time about what to do with our money but we seldom hear a sermon on what it means to work or how to pick a vocation in order to earn it.

It used to be that people had one vocation most of their lives. They apprenticed, they were journeymen and then they were masters. There were standards and achievements that had to be met in order to progress. Now we have serial careers. Folks on average change their field of work every seven years. We also have the "Peter Principle." In a nutshell that means that people rise to the level of their incompetence. Would those classifications be, idiot, moron and non compos mentis? Or supervisor, manager and vice president? Hmm... can you imagine, "Whatever you do in word or deed, do it to the level at which you become incompetent." Good thing the Bible is inspired by God and not us.

I am cracking myself up and have more thoughts on my new job and vocations but I also have a pressing need to sleep. Perhaps this weekend I will write about work.... or whatever else catches my fancy and makes me ramble on. Right now I need sleep. I can't seem to concentr.... oh! look, something shiny! Ooops, sorry!...... uh..... was I finished??

Proverbs 27:23-27

23 Know well the condition of your flocks, {and} pay attention to your herds;24 For riches are not forever, nor does a crown {endure} to all generations.25 {When} the grass disappears, the new growth is seen, and the herbs of the mountains are gathered in,26 The lambs {will be} for your clothing, and the goats {will bring} the price of a field,27 And {there will be} goats' milk enough for your food, for the food of your household, and sustenance for your maidens.

1Thessalonians 4:11-12
11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you;12 so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.(NAS)

29 July 2008

Words on Words

Sometimes I have something I want to say, something that strikes a chord deep within me but I can't seem to find words to express what's on my mind. My last post was on the importance of words which made me think about the value of finding just the right word. I am taking some time off my licensing studies to listen to the Dividing Line and to attempt to relate my thoughts.

I have a decent vocabulary and yet each time I read the Puritans, I learn a new word. When I do, I like having to look it up in the dictionary and see if I can find it. Sometimes words fall out of use and dictionaries no longer carry them. Although we do find new uses for words and make up a few as we go along, we are not replacing words as quickly as we are losing them. My theory is this: If everything is relative and nothing is wrong or bad, then we no longer need to differentiate one thing from another. Is it any wonder our thoughts, worldviews and cultures are in such a muddled mess?

Each discipline has its own vocabulary. The job I am studying for also has its own vocabulary. If I am going to be effective, I need to learn that vocabulary. In one of my first theology classes we learned a basic vocabulary for theological principles. So many believers have a vocabulary of 'Christianese" and neglect the studies that would give them the ability to define and address with specificity the needs of their souls. I fully believe if you clearly define a problem, the solution becomes evident. I also believe if you define your problem biblically, there is a biblical solution. But I am on a rabbit trail now... rambling on.

I had a semantics teacher that drummed it into my head that "The map is not the territory." Just as a map cannot duplicate exactly the bit of topography and geography it is representing, so too it is that words cannot exactly represent the thing the message is attempting to convey. Instead of being distrustful of words and numbering their inadequacies because of our limited vocabularies, we should be striving to regain what once was ours. How is it that 200 years have gone by and we know less about our faith than our predecessors? Why do we content ourselves with saying "Jesus died for me" instead of taking the time to know the difference between propitiation and expiation or being able to define substitutionary atonement. For all of our texting, blogging, emailing and 30 second sound bytes we are becoming less communicative.
Especially about things that matter.

27 July 2008

Sticks, Stones and The Word.

Last night I threw myself into a tizzy because of a couple of words spoken to me. They were delivered in a nonchalant manner and were benign, but because they fell into my heart where fear resides, they became bigger than life. The more I thought about them in an unbiblical fashion, the more they grew and caused me grief. After talking to a dear friend, I gave myself a time out and went to bed. Today I feel sheepish for having reacted in panic. My focus is no longer obscured by fear and doubt.

Much of our lives we spend hanging on a word. Words have the power to heal, discourage, empower, humble, belittle, strengthen and wound. Whoever said "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words shall never hurt me" was living on another planet. Words are important. Words are as dangerous as fists. They can lead us straight into hell itself. Words can protect us from harm and help us keep our wits about us when our world is falling apart.

The bible has a lot to say about words:

Proverbs 25:11
{Like} apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.

Proverbs 15:23
A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word!

Proverbs 24:26
He kisses the lips who gives a right answer.

Job 6:25
"How painful are honest words! But what does your argument prove?

Ecclesiastes 12:10-11
10 The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly.
11 The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of {these} collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd.

Isaiah 50:4
The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens {me} morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.

Ephesians 4:29
29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such {a word} as is good for edification according to the need {of the moment,} that it may give grace to those who hear.

Colossians 4:6
6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, {as it were,} with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.

Prov 16:24
Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Psalm 37:30
30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice.

Proverbs 12:25
Anxiety in the heart of a man weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad.

The truth is as believers we have The Word. Before I went to bed last night I examined my fearful heart and then drew on what I know to be true. Hebrews tells me the Word of God is living and active and able to discern the intentions of my heart. The Psalms tell me that if I hide His word in my heart, I will be able to withstand temptations of sin and doubt. John tells me that Jesus is the Word and Acts tells me that there is no other name by which I can be saved.

Yup, I would say words are important.

26 July 2008

Jib Jab with some Right Hooks

My friend, Hobster, posted this video on his blog. I periodically visit it to play it so I thought I would bring it here. Funny thing is I thought I already did this. It doesn't pay to get old, you know? Anyway, thanks Hobster!

THIS JUST IN: ACK! For some reason I can't post the Jib Jab video so I want you all to take a little field trip to visit my friend Hobster at his blog, White Noise. If you have some time to read up on books and movies or can help him with his chess game, you'll find this a great way to spend some time. If you just want to see the Jib Jab video, here's the more direct route.

Meanwhile I think my computer is fixin' to come unstuck again. Good thing I have a new job, I may need a new computer.

25 July 2008

Wit, White, Women & WWJD Head On

Wit: I have said it before, I love that my pastor reads my blog. That he cares enough to read, encourage and hold me accountable is testimony to the type of godly man that he is. That he sent me this link to read tells me he is brilliant, witty and knows me too well. (HT Bill Haynes)

White: My friend and brother, James White, is going to be debating Bart Erhman on the topic, "Does the Bible Misquote Jesus?" I urge you to check out the information here on his website. If you can make it, I think you will be blessed. I plan on attending, Lord willing. You can listen to the Dividing Line podcasts to get an idea of what you would be hearing. You can find them here and here. You will also find a treasure trove of resources, books and videos on the website. It is well worth your time to peruse.

Women: I have listened to three teachings given by Alistair Begg on the topic of "The Place and Posture of Christian Woman. It is in three parts and very much worth the listen. Here they are #1, #2, #3. The archives of Truth For Life, Begg's radio program are a rich source of material for your soul. If you like to listen while you are be-bopping around the house, these are good things to listen to.

OK, I couldn't get this to work with my W's so I'll just sneak this in and tell you about it. Steve Camp over on Camp On This has an article by Jonathan Edwards on Heaven. If you 're like me and forget the bigger picture, this is a stunning reminder of what awaits those who love Him.

And finally...

WWJD: Today I was driving into town to do some shopping. I live off a fairly well traveled two lane, winding highway that leads to town. As I was driving south a northbound vehicle was coming toward me in my lane. Kentucky is a state that doesn't require your vehicle to have a license plate on the front of the vehicle. Often times folks put clever little plates on the front bumper. The car coming at me head on had plates that said, WWJD. I found myself applying my brakes to avoid an accident and saying, "He'd probably be driving on the correct side of the road you moron!" OK, not the kindest reaction on my part. I repent. It amazes me that folks put stuff like that on their cars and then take so little care in how they drive.

I have a ton of stuff to study, a new job to go to on Monday and lots of things on my mind. Maybe later I will get to write some of it down.

23 July 2008

When the Wind Blows

A storm came through yesterday that left its mark on my property. My bird feeders were emptied of their contents and scattered hither, tither and yon. My 7 foot sunflowers are still 7 foot but their happy little faces are at 9:00 instead of 12:00. My beautiful gladiolas are a little worse for wear as well. They have bowed at the wind and because their stems are not supple, they have snapped. In fact, most of the garden is listing in one direction. The storm popped up out of nowhere and the weather radio missed warning us that it was coming. By the time is passed over us it generated a tornado warning in the next two counties. Not that I would have done anything to shore up the glads or the sunflowers had I known. I like my garden but not enough to stand in the storm to shield it from God's wind.

However, I do like storms. I know, I am weird. I also like earthquakes. Please don't get me wrong, I don't like that people get hurt or lose their property. Not at all. What I like about storms and quakes is that there is no doubt in your mind during one of these events that you are insignificant. You know that you are 100% dependent on the mercies of God when the earth is shaking or the wind threatens to blow your house down. There is nothing you can do to stop it. I wish I could duplicate that feeling in my day to day life occurrences.

When the Living God reveals Himself neutrality isn't an option. If you do a study of the Word and look at people who encountered our Lord, none of them remained the same. Either their hearts were hardened or they were compelled to worship. For some, the encounter turns their life upside down and like my yard, the effects are readily visible. For others the change comes at a slower pace, but it comes.

Yes, I wish I could experience each moment knowing I am 100% dependent on God's mercy and provision. I give intellectual assent to it but the little worries of life annoy me and make me think I can and should do something to control them. Every now and again God has to remind me that He is God and I am not. He is Lord of the little things too. Not an atom moves that God doesn't bid it.

1 Corinthians 1:27-29
27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,
28 and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are,
29 that no man should boast before God.

20 July 2008

Raising Kids and asking for a "Do -Over"

Last night I had a conversation with some women friends about parenting. I listened as a couple of moms talked about not understanding how a mother could not like being home with her children. Their questions were sincere. These women do not want to be anywhere else in the world than home with their babies. I found myself speaking up on behalf of women who dreaded being alone with their children. I was speaking from experience.

I escaped a childhood from hell. There was screaming, beating, hitting, gunshots, incest, alcoholism, drug addiction, anger, bitterness, resentment and belittling. Even worse there was the abuse of being ignored. I had few safe people or safe moments in my childhood. I was by nature very tenderhearted and compliant but that changed in favor of survival. I became willful, calculating and distant as a means of coping.

My little sister loves babies. She says that when you are caring for your baby you know that there isn't another more important task on the planet. Your priorities aren't in dispute. I understand what she means but I have never felt that way. At one time I liked babies and did a lot of babysitting. Babysitting got me out my house. Soon though, I grew fearful of babies. I realized how dependent a baby is and how easy it would be to harm them. I do not mean physical harm, I mean emotional harm. I knew I didn't have enough internal resources to draw on to give a baby what it needed to be secure and happy. My fear of babies started when I was in my late teens.

By the time I was in my early thirties and my nieces came to live with me I had managed to build a full blown phobia with babies. Children who were old enough to articulate their needs weren't so scary to me but I was terrified of babies. My two precious nieces came to live with me after their mom died. Their biological fathers had nothing to do with them after they were conceived. The were separated from their siblings and had endured things that made my childhood seem normal. Confused, broken and battered they were little black holes of need. Although I was a Christian, I was full of bad theology which is a breeding ground for unrealistic expectations. Expectations not based on the truths of God are just premeditated disappointments.

I was a working single parent. I had a high stress job in public safety. I would get off of work and wish I could drive around the block a few times and get my courage up before I walked into the house to see those faces. Their big green eyes seemed to look for so much in me; answers, comfort, acceptance, love, direction.... all at once. They acted out their frustrations and insecurities by being difficult which made me feel more inadequate and so the cycle perpetuated itself. It was awful.

I am not writing this to make excuses for my behavior. I was so sinfully selfish and motivated to seek my comfort that my kids suffered. I didn't have an example of good parenting, let alone godly parenting to draw from. I didn't have a realistic expectation of life with Christ. I had lots of people at church who wanted to give advice or who would cluck their tongues and remark how I was a saint for changing my life to accommodate the girls or how sad their little lives had been. I needed practical help. I needed a Titus 2 woman to come along side me. If God granted "do-overs" this is the task I would most like to fix.

My primary motivation in writing this is the hope that a woman feeling inadequate to the task of mothering will read this and find hope. You do not have to follow the same learning curve I followed. By His mercy I am not the same selfish woman I was. God has softened my heart. He has changed me and done so without my permission I might add. He is sanctifying me and refining me to His image. The more Christlike I become the more I have to offer the poor, battered and bruised souls that cross my path. He offers the same to you.

I was talking to an old friend the other day, she was my mother's best friend. She has known me since I was a child so she has seen me transform from wild, willful and self-focused to the woman of faith that I am. She told me that I would make an excellent step or foster mother. I was really surprised by her observations. She's not a believer so her dream for me is to get 'hooked up' with a good man whose kids are grown or nearly grown. She thinks it's too bad my kids and grandson are 2400 miles away. She is certain I have something to offer my adult kids and that now they will listen. She also tells me I am a good grandmother. Her mentioning that floored me. Especially since she has seen me at my worst. She knows all the reasons I will never be nominated for a "parent of the year" award.

Our conversation was more evidence that God has changed me. As for me marrying, we'll see what the Lord has in mind. The idea no longer terrifies me. I have been considering fostering. My pastor and I have talked about the wisdom of being a single foster mom. There are a lot of kids out there that need to be loved but I am not certain single parenting is best. Perhaps I will do emergency fostering- being available in the middle of the night when police are forced to remove a child from their home. We'll see what the Lord thinks about that. Who knows, perhaps He'll send me a godly man who wants to retire and foster a whole herd of kids.

Sisters, if you are having trouble as a parent, if you are genuinely afraid or distressed at being alone with your kids, please throw yourself at the feet and mercy of God. He changes people and He uses all circumstances for good. If you're painfully aware of your sins and shortcomings, ask our Lord for the faith and refinement you need. Don't waste another moment in the misery of sin and disobedience. If you know a woman struggling, reach out to her. Develop the sort of friendship our God calls us to. Life on life.

I want to add just one more thing. If you're a woman who has survived a rough childhood or if things are rough for you now, there is every reason for hope in Christ. We are called to more than mere survival. In Christ we have everything we need to thrive.

John 10:9-11
9 "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
10 "The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have {it} abundantly.
11 "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore if any man is in Christ, {he is} a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Romans 8:28-29
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to {His} purpose.
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined {to become} conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;

Galatians 2:20
20 "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the {life} which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.

Psalms 103:13
13 Just as a father has compassion on {his} children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.

Proverbs 31:27-30
27 She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and bless her; her husband {also,} and he praises her, {saying:}
29 "Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all."
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, {but} a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.

19 July 2008


I stumbled on something today. I wish I had kept the breadcrumb trail to know how I ended up here. Perhaps it is a good thing that I can't remember. I really can't say. I don't remember setting out to be dumbfounded by the actions of a man professing to be a pastor, but it happened. It happened big time. You need to click this link and see for yourself.

How long with the Lord suffer gimmicks replacing the gospel? When did a call from God come with a PayPal guarantee? Where were the men of God in this man's life to teach him better? There had to be a time, a window of opportunity, that a believer somewhere could have confronted this man in his folly and somehow they missed it.

Join me in praying for this family, please?

Proverbs 26:12 Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

The Goodness of God in World Events

I was spending time on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) this morning and found myself listening in on a couple conversations. I had changed my nick to indicate that I was off being good and cleaning my house. I wasn't really communicating with anyone as much as I was eavesdropping. I spend a lot of time in the IRC chat channel that belongs to James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries. James is an apologist, scholar and fractal artist extraordinaire. I have been participating there for years... as in 10 or more. I have learned a great deal from him either by reading his books, blog or listening to his debates and youtube material or by sitting in the chat channel and partaking of conversations. It's important to me to stress that I have learned a great deal and am absolutely grateful to God for the fellowship and instruction I have received there. What I am about to write is in no way to be construed that I am criticizing the medium nor am I criticizing Dr. White and the channel regular channel rats I consider family. Everyone got that? OK, let's continue.

Today while I was eavesdropping the subject of politics and world events came up. It does frequently in the channel. An apologetics ministry necessitates knowing what is going on in the world and the ability to think critically about it. More that thinking critically, it necessitates the ability to evaluate events biblically. As I was 'listening' in, I found my heart growing heavier and heavier. I finally typed in the channel that I didn't think I had the heart for politics today, waved goodbye and closed the program. Normally I keep it open and just change my nick to indicate that I am away. I couldn't even do that today. I had to close the channel and sign off IRC completely.

As I got up from my computer I wondered why I was having such a visceral reaction to conversations about world events. It didn't make sense to me that I should be troubled somewhere down deep in my soul. I thought about it while I was in my garden watering, picking green beans and bringing in squash. I thought about it as I cleaned the vegetables and prepared then for being frozen. It was on my mind while I cleaned out my fridge and as I took the splatters off the sides of my microwave. I baked a casserole and did a load of laundry with my thoughts preoccupied by why I had been so bothered by the conversation.

It's not as if I am reticent to voice my opinion on world events or that I think Christians should be apolitical. I don't mind a conversation with people who do not agree with me. I am not afraid of an argument or conflict. Admittedly I have been dangling my toes off the precipice of bad attitudes and over reaction regarding world events for a while. I have been unable to figure out why until just a few minutes ago. The problem I have isn't in what is being discussed, it is what is being left out.

The price of gas; the failing economy; the illogical and intolerant tolerance initiatives in Canada, England and elsewhere; the right to bear arms; the idiotic way we are throwing our Constitution under the steam roller of relativistic culture; the rise of Islam; the fall of orthodoxy; the horrible choices we have to vote for in the presidential race; the monstrous abortion statistics; the devaluation of human life. All these topics and more should be discussed and couched biblically. I do not want to partake in anymore complaints, observations, kvetching, head wagging or tsk tsking that would make it seem that I do so as one without hope.

What am I missing? The acknowledgment that even if the U.N. makes it illegal to criticize the nation of Islam my allegiance is to Almighty God. God is in His heaven and he does as he pleases, Psalm 115:3. I want to hear these things being discussed with more than a casual nod to God's sovereignty. I want to hear what you are doing to shore up your faith and do your part because you see the direction the world is headed. Are you memorizing Scripture? Are you burdened for a people group? Are you preparing your kids to trust Him? What are the god ordained contingencies in your life? What does the bible say about these dire times? Don't just enumerate the tragedies of living in this fallen word. I don't want to commiserate with you about how awful things are. I want to rejoice with you as we remember God's provision for his elect. Talk about world events in view of God's mercies and promises. Even if the unthinkable happens and these United States are being trampled, don't make general statements about how awful things are without touching on the wonderful mercies of God who, even though things do not bode well for this earth, has planned to save us and give us a new one to inhabit from the beginning. Can I get an amen from anybody?

Psalm 9:18
18 For the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted perish forever.

9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely.

Psalm 38:15
15 For I hope in Thee, O LORD; Thou wilt answer, O Lord my God.

Psalm 119:166
166 I hope for Thy salvation, O LORD, and do Thy commandments.

Proverbs 23:18
18 Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

Proverbs 24:14
14 Know {that} wisdom is thus for your soul; if you find {it,} then there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

Romans 12:10-17
10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,
13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.

Philippians 4:7
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 24:6
6 "And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened, for {those things} must take place, but {that} is not yet the end.

18 July 2008

Role Reversals

I had an adventure with my sister today. We spent the day doing some normal sisterly things. We shopped. We had lunch in a restaurant. We laughed and made fun of ourselves while we tried on hats. It was good to spend time with her. It always is. It also contained an element that could have been awkward. My sister's father has dementia and on our list of places to go was a care facility for folks like her dad.

It's an odd situation to have a sister whose father is not your father and not your step-father either. It's sort of like having family once removed. My little sister was placed for adoption when she was born and we were reunited about 14 years ago. I am glad we get to be sisters now but I am sad that she has this situation to go through. There is no good outcome when someone you love has Alzheimer's or dementia. The best you can do is manage grief and limit hazards.

My sister inherited the "do the right thing" and the "analysis paralysis" gene. We both did. She has been trying to monitor her father's health and safety from several states away and is now having her dad come stay with her. She knows it may not be for long and she knows that it is going to be difficult. She has contacted every professional organization in the state that has information and resources regarding the care and management for folks who are in the throes of these diseases. She has done everything in her power to give her dad the best care while staying in his own home surrounded by his own things. She has sacrificed her own routines and comfort to take care of her daddy. She worries about the strain that will be placed on her marriage. She worries that her dad will become aggravated or aggressive, a normal behavior for men with dementia, and will have to call for help. She worries that her motives for caring for him are selfish and/or self-serving. She wonders if she is doing the right thing. All very normal things to be concerned about when you find yourself in a role reversal with your parents.

Sis has been a hospice volunteer for years. For a brief moment she was teary as we talked on the drive home and said she is in the place of having to live her convictions about people dying and that it was much easier to help others through the process than to be in an indeterminate hospice situation with her dad.

This is also the time that I need to have the faith to live out my convictions. My sister needs support. She will need my prayer, my listening ear, my love, my hugs, my laugh, my tears and my faith. She will need me to do the stand up thing and not be repelled by the smell of impending death and adult diapers that need to be changed. She needs me to find the time to engage her dad in conversation or to take her out to lunch when her dad is being provided for by other care-givers. She needs me to love her in practical ways. She needs me to be her sister.

I am so proud of her. I am so thankful that God reunited us. I pray that God will bring glory to Himself by using me as His instrument in her life. It's times like this I realize it is incumbent on me to pray and seek the Lord- not for my own good- but for the good of those in my life. These are times when my faith in Christ needs to find traction in difficult and impossible circumstances.

Lamentations 3:21-25, 31-32
21 This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. 22 The LORD'S lovingkindnesss indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. 23 {They} are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. 24 "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him." 25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.
31 For the Lord will not reject forever, 32 For if He causes grief, then He will have compassion according to His abundant lovingkindness. (NAS)

17 July 2008

Death to Squash Bugs

I enjoy to gardening. I always have. My mother used to call me Luther Burbank when I was young. A child of the 60s and 70s, I started talking to my houseplants and playing them classical music. Anyone else remember that? The idea that plants respond to our voices and prefer classical music to grow by? I spent hours telling my plants how beautiful they were. To watch me squirm my father used to go to my bedroom door and shout, "I am going to rip your leaves off!" After such an assault I spent my time convincing the plants that they were safe in my care.

My mother laughed at me but she would also have me tend her houseplants. I got her snake plant to bloom every year even though they are supposed to bloom every 5-7 years. (Which is a good thing because the flower's scent is sickeningly sweet.) Anyway, if it's not too hot outside, you will find me in the garden. I like the way it smells. I like the way it feels. I am excited by the sunflowers, bell peppers and green beans. Watching Swiss chard growing rocks my world. And of course I like to grow squash. Normally a prolific producer, I put it in everything. Omelettes, spaghetti sauce, breads, salads, on the barbecue, you name it.

This year I decided that I was going to plant several varieties of squash. For the last two years I have grown the standards; zucchini, yellow crookneck and scalloped squash. I didn't know when I planted the scalloped squash, (we called them 'martian heads' in my family) that I was introducing my friends and neighbors in Kentucky to something new. One of the women in my church, Janice, is a gardener and I introduced her to martian heads last year. She and her husband loved them. This year she is growing them. She and her husband shared their "rattlesnake" beans with me. A great friendship is developing over our horticultural interests.

Because having a new variety of squash to give to folks has been so much fun I wanted to expand my squash garden this year. I thought it would be nice to have some acorn squash for fall and winter. The seeds that were available when I lived in California and what are available here in Kentucky are vastly different. Unable to locate what I wanted I went to the net and began to search. My quest started with the acquisition of spaghetti squash and pink banana squash seeds. I have grown both of these successfully in California.

I have said it before, the net is a dangerous place. I stumbled on a site that would let me purchase small sample packs of seeds. Before I knew it I was purchasing seeds for squashes I had never heard of. There's the red warty thing, cucuzzi, papaya squash, sweet meat, and Burgess buttercup. Thrilled to have the chance to grow the unknown, I asked Janice if she wanted to join me in my botany experiment and grow some different varieties. She did so I divided up the sample seeds I purchased and we both planted them. I can hardly wait to see what the plants will produce. Unfortunately, neither can the squash bugs and we are at war.

I have tried planting flowers that generally repel bugs. They aren't supposed to like; marigolds, nasturtiums, and painted daisies. I also planted onions in near proximity to the squash plants. The bugs persist. I have gone out each morning and hand picked the beasties off my plants and drowned them in water laced with soap. For every one I kill, two come to replace it. Proving I am my father's daughter, I have torn the leaves they have laid their progeny on right off the plants and destroyed them. Still I have squash bugs. For the past three days I have been unable to work in my garden in the morning because I was in class for my new job. Clever foe that they are the squash bugs held a breed-a-thon while I was gone. It's maddening. This morning, armed with an industrial sized garden sprayer and concentrated Sevin, I carried my WMD out to the garden and prepared myself for squash bug genocide. And then I saw the bumble bees and hummingbird moths in the bee balm. Dang! I couldn't justify the collateral damage. I set the chemicals down and retreated. I hope Janice is able to keep her plants pest free.

Lord, I am having difficulty in subduing the 20' x 8' raised garden bed I have in my backyard. How is it you expect us to subdue the earth? Especially when the squash bugs have taken that be fruitful and multiply thing to heart?

16 July 2008

Failing Gracefully

God always equips those He calls with whatever they will need to accomplish the tasks He has assigned to them. He will stop at nothing to make certain whatever he wants will come to pass. He parted the Red Sea. He held the sun still in the sky for Joshua. He gave a donkey language. He opened the jailhouse doors.

So why do fear that I will be unable to pass the licensing exam for my new job? I tell myself it's because this license and this job aren't comparable to the directives God gave Joshua or Jonah or Moses. It's easy to for me to think that what I do is insignificant to the Kingdom, but in thinking that way, what am I saying about our God and His economy? Surely we believers are not indispensable but we are not without significance. I think we can't see the forest from the trees when we're standing at timberline. At least I seem to have that trouble.

Ever notice that your vision improves when you look outside your own circumstances. I have. I recognize God's supernatural provision for the saints of old and it's easy. Easy enough that I often wonder why, in view of the miraculous provisions, did these people screw everything up? How could Jonah be such a malcontent? Didn't God prove to him that what He was capable of accomplishing through Jonah the conversion of Nineveh? And didn't God prove that disobedience to him wouldn't keep that task from being accomplished? How could Elijah be such a pansy and run and hide from Jezebel and her vow to kill him? Hadn't he just called fire down from heaven and hadn't God done just that?

I can't separate myself from the saints of old. I am as guilty as they in thinking that God has lost control of the universe. Well, not the entire universe. Just the tiny part that houses my little life. I am feeling battered and bruised. Feelings lie. Remember, Jonah slept peacefully in a boat going in the opposite direction. He didn't experience an anxious moment. Time for me to take inventory. Nothing bad has occurred. I am just studying things that are brand new to me and finding that my ability to apprehend new things isn't what it used to be. It's humbling. I used to connect the dots easily. The dots need to be closer and closer together for me now. Should I rest in the knowledge that if this job is what God wants me to do, He will equip me? Sure, but what I worry most about is that He will humble me by allowing me to fail. What if failing is the whole point?

Failure is a silly thing to fear. God uses failure to refine us. He hammers out our impurities and fires away the dross when we fail with grace; when we fail forward. He sustains us with his mercy and love either way. God's provision of grace isn't a reason to be presumptuous or to think we can sin with impunity. It is a reason to work hard and then rest. If I fail, Lord. Let me fail gracefully.

There can be no security felt unless we satisfy ourselves of the truth of a divine superintendence and can commit our lives and all that we have into the hands of God. The first thing which we must look to is His power, that we may have a conviction of His being a sure refuge to such as cast themselves upon His care. With this there must be conjoined confidence in His mercy, to prevent those anxious thoughts which might otherwise rise in our minds. -John Calvin

13 July 2008

Changes of the Heart and Contentment

My pastor is nearly finished preaching through Philippians. I have been edified, convicted and encouraged as he has taught us from the epistle. Pastor focused on the power of the cross and the secret of being content. He quoted Jeremiah Burrough's book " The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment."

I came home from church and wanted to see if I could find the quote online. The book can be found here. I didn't find the quote pastor used but I did read something that ties in beautifully with what I wrote in my lat post about needing a heart change more than needing a behavioral change. I thought I would post the quote here. I went and got myself a job so I will be writing less than I have been. Hopefully I will keep it up. It is good for me to have to research and read.

Here's the quote:

If the attainment of true contentment were as easy as keeping quiet outwardly, it would not need much learning. It might be had with less strength and skill than an Apostle possessed, yea, less than an ordinary Christian has or may have. Therefore, there is certainly more to it than can be attained by common gifts and the ordinary power of reason, which often bridle nature. It is a business of the heart.

12 July 2008

Cheap Piety, Complementarianism and Transformation

When Luther really understood the holiness of God the tenuousness of his life was magnified exponentially to him. He became obsessed with his death and the judgment of God. Why? He knew what his sinful life looked like in comparison to the holiness of the Almighty.

John Owen understood that believers lives are about sanctification and holiness. He had this to say:

"This work of holiness in us is wonderful. It is a supernatural work and is known only by supernatural revelation.We must not be deceived by a false holiness. Holiness is not just a reformed life."

Holiness is not about being as good as you can be for as long as you can be. I was talking to my pastor's wife and telling her that I loved the fact that her husband reads my blog. I told her I liked the accountability and have caught myself asking, "Would I say that in front of Bill?" I also confessed to her that I would hold my tongue in front of her husband more than I would before God. Her response was, "God already knows." Exactly. I have stopped trying to fool myself that holding my tongue before God is productive when I know my heart is generating sin faster than my tongue can express it. Holding my tongue in front of others is an exercise of obedience, not evidence of my piety.

In his book The Holiness of God, R.C. Sproul had this to say about being as good as you can be for as long as you can be: "Anyone can be a nonconformist for nonconformity's sake. Again I want to emphasize that this is cheap piety. What we are ultimately called to is more than nonconformity; we are called to transformation."

I didn't land in the complementarian camp by deciding that I would be as good as I could be. Nor did I decide that if I were going to accept reformed theology, I had to accept the complementarian position. I wasn't convinced by a stellar presentation or a logical argument. (Though the arguments in favor of complementarianism are logical.) I got here because my heart is being transformed. I am being sanctified.

Sanctification is one of those theological words that can be confusing, especially for new believers and folks new to theology. Sanctification, to paraphrase John MacArthur, is the what we call the process of being transformed. Let me quote him directly.

"Sanctification begins at our salvation and it ends, or culminates, at our glorification. We are justified: declared righteous at our salvation; we are glorified—made fully righteous when we see the Lord face to face. In the meantime we are being progressively sanctified, that is, we are progressively being separated from sin unto Christ."

I think it is important to remember that we believers are all in the process of being transformed. While we have many privileges extended to us as adopted heirs of the Almighty, being perfected and free from sin this side of being in heaven isn't one of them. It's a tough place to balance sometimes, knowing that we are to strive for obedience while resting in the merit of our Savior.

Ever consider the death of Uzzah a harsh consequence for touching the ark, especially when what he was doing was to reach out and stabilize it to keep it from falling in the dirt?(2 Samuel 6, 1Chronicals 13). I used to. It seemed patently unfair that God should kill him. Now I understand. Firstly, God decreed the ark could not be touched so touching it was a sin and the wages of sin is death. Secondly, what made Uzzah think that Almighty God was incapable of caring for the ark and in need of his assistance? Thirdly, the dirt had not been tainted by sin and was, therefore, far cleaner than Uzzah's hand.

My full embracement of complementarianism doesn't mean being exempt from learning sound doctrine. It doesn't mean being forbidden to present the gospel to anyone, including a man. It will not glorify God to set my jaw and decide to be outwardly submissive while inwardly I am seething and resentful. It doesn't mean I have lost my mind, nor that I am ignorant or incapable. I doubt very seriously it means that my struggle with what it means to be a woman of God is finished. It is evidence of being transformed, of my sanctification.

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

Colossians 1:21-22
21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, {engaged} in evil deeds,
22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach--

Colossians 3:10
10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him

Titus 3:5-7
5 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,
6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7 that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to {the} hope of eternal life.

Psalms 4:5
5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and trust in the LORD.

10 July 2008

Hope for Complementarians

You cannot come to God with bargaining and with promises. But if you will throw yourself recklessly upon God, trust His character, trust the merits of His Son, you will have the petition you have asked of him.

You can have this confidence in God, and you can have this respect for His will. Do not expect God to perform miracles or you so you can write books about them. Do not ever be caught asking God to send you toys like that to play around with.

But if you are in trouble and concerned about your situation and willing to be honest with God, you can have confidence in Him. You can go to Him in the merit of His Son, claiming His promises, and you will find the way of deliverance.

God will move heaven and earth for you if you will trust Him.

*A.W. Tozer, Faith Beyond Reason

It is certainly not enough for me to identify fear as an obstacle for women and not offer godly solutions to fear.

In I John 4:18 we find this gem. "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love."

We are given this encouragement in Hebrews 12:28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;

Paul gives us this in 2Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.

And this from Romans 8:15-18
15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!"
16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with {Him} in order that we may also be glorified with {Him.}
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

And the Psalms contain this balm for our souls

Psalm 16:9-11
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely.
10 For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol; neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.
11 Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; in Thy presence is fulness of joy; in Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.

Psalm 33:18-22
18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness,
19 To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.
20 Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name.
22 Let Thy lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon us, according as we have hoped in Thee.

I have been injured at the hands of men, men I should have been able to trust. I have known such fear in being submitted to a man's authority that I have run in terror from men who have considered me as a suitable wife. I have sabotaged myself in that regard for years. I do not want to make it seem an easy thing for a woman to submit to any man's authority. I do want to make it seem like the right and beneficial thing to do- to be submitted to God's authority.

Being a woman submitted to God's authority does not mean that your gifts and talents are wasted or that you have less meaningful contributions to make to the Kingdom. It does allow you the opportunity to make the most of your gifts and talents by using them wisely. He is an economical God who equips His people with precisely the abilities He needs them to have in order to accomplish the tasks He places before them.

09 July 2008

Laughing at Myself

Boy, was I tired last night. I shouldn't write when I am that tired. I need an editor on my best days and on my worst I need a translator. This morning I woke up and literally stumbled into the kitchen. I started fumbling with the coffee pot almost immediately. I was chanting a mantra; "I necessitate caffeine!" The doggies would have to wait for their morning romp and breakfast.

As I reached to get the coffee filters I knocked over a bottle on my counter. The bottle isn't normally there. I have a disability in my hands and that makes it difficult for me to hold things that are large. I like to buy my olive oil at Costco (because it is cheaper) and then pour manageable amounts from the really big bottle into a quart-sized bottle. I was so tired last night that after refilling the bottle of olive oil, I didn't put it back where it belonged. You guessed it, that's the bottle that I knocked over. The damage was worse than you can imagine as the the bottle shattered and I had olive oil on my counter, floor, cupboard doors and person. Olive oil and little bitty teeny tiny slivers of glass were everywhere.

When you have a disability in your hands you become accustomed to dropping things. This was the worst mini-disaster I have had in a long time. So, groggy and without benefit of caffeine, I started to clean when my dog let me know in no uncertain terms that I needed to let him out. Great. So I hastily threw a big wad of paper towels on the oil and took the dogs outside. Apparently the noise in the kitchen had awakened not only that cat but her curiosity as well. While I was out with the dogs she was in the olive oil.

When I came in with the dogs the puppy, who is young and just starting her training, saw the cat in her reclined position. You know, that odd position cats get into when they are cleaning themselves. She was trying her best to get rid of the olive oil. The puppy saw an opportunity to attack the cat, the cat ran.... or tried to as she had olive oil on her feet. I will leave it to your imagination but the sight was not unlike a Tom and Jerry cartoon as the cat and the puppy did their best to NASCAR around the island in my kitchen. Despite the olive oil on her paws, the cat won.

I decided to try and look at bright side. The puppy got some exercise. It's going to storm here most of the day so I am in favor of anything that will tire her out. The cat will not have hair balls for a while, the oil should help with that and I have a clean floor. With a better attitude about the day, I sat down to do some reading and clicked on my friend Carla's blog. The title of her article is Words ALWAYS Matter and it is worth reading. Carla has a place to the right of her articles that lists the blog articles from people she enjoys reading. Carla is one of my readers. There was a time not too awfully long ago that Carla was my only reader. Anyway, as I was reading Words ALWAYS Matter, I glanced at a title that reminded me of my article.... at least that's what thought. Truth is, it was my article. The title caught my eye because I had just misspelled "complementarianism." I was horrified. I pulled up my blog and started trying to change it. Trying being the key word. My fingers fumbled.... Complmentarianism. Complelmentarianism. Complementalarianism. ACK!

If I was egalitarian at least I could spell it!

08 July 2008

Complementarianism, Sin and Fear

One of the most frequent answers I received to my questions regarding the complementarian position went something like this. "Of course you don't like it, the bible says you aren't going to like it so your rebellion to being submissive is expected." That sort of answer infuriated me. The idea that sin is the primary obstacle to understanding the Word of God is a no-brainer. This answer struck me as condescending and dismissive. Which may or may not have been true. It also seemed to assume that I wanted to rebel more than I wanted to understand. I am fully capable of rebellion, obstinacy, pride, arrogance and a list of other besetting sins. No question about that. However, what I really wanted was someone to engage my mind, answer my questions and see my challenges as an attempt to learn. I felt like I was hitting a brick wall. I did become bitter and angry but mostly because I couldn't find a way to get my questions answered. So I left the topic alone.

A while back I broached the subject again with a friend and pastor. He asked me as a nouthetic counselor what I would tell a woman who came to me for counsel. I told him I could recite the 'party line' but that I wasn't able to give answers to objections and that the issue hadn't been resolved in my own heart to my own satisfaction. Hence my return to the topic. It was a great question to ask me. It didn't put me on the defensive but still made me state my position. Then he said something that really made me take notice. He pointed out that in his studies he had noticed that men were given the greater responsibility and exhorted to be kind, merciful and understanding; loving their wives as Christ loves his church. He thought that this was addressed so strongly because the greatest hindrance for women is fear. The struggle with the flesh that predisposes women to rebel against a man's authority also predisposes men to being heavy handed and abusive or vacate their responsibilities as leader completely.

Lights went on at that moment. That was something I could understand. I have written before about the fear in femininity. We women evaluate everything based on its safety. A man who abuses his authority and a man who ignores his position of authority are both safety hazards. Fear precipitates a wide range of emotion and behavior. I wonder how often women who are bossy, rebellious and contentious are really just frightened.

Women jump into bad marriages because they are afraid to live alone. They tolerate abuse because they are afraid their children won't be provided for. "He may beat me Friday night but Monday there will be pork chops on the table to feed my kids." Women alter their bodies surgically because they fear being unattractive to men, the men they want to protect them and keep them safe. They refuse their husbands leadership because they are afraid he doesn't have their best interests at heart. They fear for their safety and security more than they fear their God. Misplaced and sinful fear is the primary stumbling block in obedience.

I still have questions. Priscilla played an important role in discipling Apollos. Lydia is mentioned as being a help in the early church. She is also described as a seller of purple- A business woman of some means and there is no mention of a Mr. Lydia. Deborah was a judge. But those are secondary it is the issue of fear that needs to be addressed. But not tonight, I am in need of sleep.

Psalm 19:9-11
9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.
10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

Psalm 60:4
4 Thou hast given a banner to those who fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah.

Proverbs 14:26-27
26 In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, and his children will have refuge.
27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death.

06 July 2008

Complementarianism and the Thinking Woman's Dilemma

I know I am not the only woman who has struggled with understanding her God given role. I also know that for some women, submission and femininity come easy. We are all made from the same dirt and suffer the same effects from the fall. However, human beings are like snowflakes in that we share the same building material but our Designer has engineered each individual differently. Some people understand math, some people are artistic, some folks learn from doing and others just have to be told. For me, I am a combination of all of the above, with the exception of math. I am decidedly math deficient.

Math is not my only shortcoming. I do a lot of spinning of my mental wheels that isn't necessary and gets me nowhere but frustrated. Generally this occurs when I start with the wrong premise. Foundations are important. Alan Kurschner, one of the members of Alpha and Omega Ministries blog team, wrote an an excellent article about starting with the wrong premise. You can read it here.

Alan got me thinking about a post I was writing as a follow-up to my last post on being complementarian. I had to scrap it. I need to rethink its foundations. I ask a lot of questions. I always have. I think if you clearly define the problem, the solution will become evident. More to the point, I believe when you define a problem biblically, you will find the solution in God's Word.

When I first started studying theology and I asked questions, people took time in explaining things to me. If I didn't understand something, I wasn't ridiculed or dismissed, I was generally taken through the problem step by step. However, that wasn't the case when I started having questions about the complementarian and egalitarian positions. I think as a result of the feminist movement of the 60s, this topic often generates more heat than light. Women, especially younger women, have the idea that equality with men is dependent on being free to do everything a man does. In fact, it's more of an assumed right. When we presuppose that we have individual rights to exercise we are also presupposing that God has abdicated his proprietary rights over us as his created beings. Yikes! That's not an assumption I care to make.

God owes me nothing. He has granted me certain privileges that I am free to exercise. For instance, as one of His redeemed, I can come boldly before His throne and not fear for my life because I come clothed in Christ's righteousness (Hebrews). Imagine that! I can't walk into the White House and gain audience with the president, but I can go with confidence into the "Oval Office of the Universe" and commune intimately with the Creator. Wow! I have the privilege to ask Him for anything but He owes me nothing. Not my next breath, not my next job, not my next meal, not egalitarian rights in ministry, nothing.

I have some thoughts about what makes assuming the complementarian position so difficult, but that's fodder for another post. Today I have my hands full considering the nature of my indebtedness to my God and Savior.

05 July 2008

Taxonomy, Order in the Kingdom

I got up fairly early this morning and took my dogs out into the backyard. I did some weed pulling and they did some romping. It is amazing to see how much energy my new pup has. She has two speeds, full out and knocked out. Chet the Wonder Dog, my faithful companion of the last 11 years, just watches her as she bounces and spins around him. All the while she is taunting him with the toys she steals from him. It seems youth is wasted on the young in all species.

Speaking of species....two years ago my best friend, who still lives in California, sent me plants for my garden. Among the varieties she sent was scarlet bee balm. It is a perennial here and is quickly overtaking my garden. That's OK with me, I like it. Today as I was waging war on squash bugs, I was treated to half a dozen hummingbird moths sipping nectar from the bee balm. The plants are sizable enough that the hummingbird moths, hummingbirds, honeybees and bumble bees all got to eat their fill without fighting. I watched them long enough to marvel at the order and organization with which our God has created all we have.

I took college biology during summer with a young friend of mine, Jenny. A semester course with a lab all condensed into 6 weeks. Jenny was born to be a teacher so we would go to class and hear the lectures and then she would teach me what she learned. It was great fun and made learning easy. Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. I still remember, you did good, Jenny!

Order. God is very economical. He does everything for a reason and is merciful enough to let us discover those reasons while we investigate our surroundings. I watched the insects long enough to get a bit of a sunburn and do some reflecting on some lectures I downloaded and listened to yesterday. They were all on the topic of complementarian vs. egalitarian theology.

One of the good things about getting older is the wisdom to know when you are being rebellious coupled with the lack of energy you have to sustain a tantrum of any magnitude. I confess it. I am rebellious. I hate the idea that God restricts my function by virtue of my gender. It's not that I want to be a pastor, it's that I don't want anyone telling me I can't be a pastor. If I am going to be honest and write this at the most transparent level, I went looking for material that would sway me into being egalitarian. Being egalitarian would allow me to hang on to my rebellion and be justified in kicking at the goads. If I could buy the egalitarian argument, I could also ignore some of the blatant pride I am exhibiting regarding my achievements and abilities as a weaker vessel. Call me Kreskin but I sense a pattern developing. The more I focus on myself, the more I want to be egalitarian. Conversely, the more I focus on God and his order in creation, the more I realize that the complementarian position is the biblical position.

I have always had difficulty with this. I have never been good at what I assume it means being feminine. I have never been ribbons and lace, or pink gingham. It always seemed to me that those lace wearing, soft spoken women weren't very bright. That was the only logical answer to that vacuous smile and submission thing they had going on! Yes, I know it is a perfectly ugly thing to say, but I am going for honesty here. I want to expose my pride and ignorance for the folly and sin they are. I want to chronicle my journey with the hope that there are other women out there who, like me, are kicking at the goads.

I read a scathing criticism of a lecture given by Dr. Bruce Ware on this topic. Of all the reading and listening I have done before, I was unfamiliar with Dr. Ware. I surfed the net to find an mp3 to listen for myself. You see, I was certain after reading the criticisms of Dr. Ware that I had finally found my way out. Never mind all the other scholarly work I had read. I was banking on the criticism of Ware being true. Instead, after listening to him, I have never been so firmly seated in the complementarian position. Keeping with the gut level honesty, I don't know whether to be relieved or cry. I plan on blogging more about on the topic as I think it is vitally important. Besides, it touches the areas I am focusing on now; discipline and service. It will take discipline for me to ferret through my presuppositions on what it means to be feminine.

Meanwhile, if you want to listen to the mp3 of Dr. Ware, you can find it here along with many other resources.

Proverbs14:1 The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands. (NAS)

03 July 2008

How I Define Freedom

If you want someone to remember something, set it to music. Unfortunately setting it to music doesn't mean that it will be understood.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

In thinking about July 4th celebrations I thought it was fitting to break out the Schoolhouse Rock. I love this stuff. It made it so easy to remember it. I had to learn the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble and the Gettysburg Address in elementary school. I wonder if that still happens in public schools or has it become optional and forgotten like saying the Pledge of Allegiance and The American's Creed.

I long to return to a simpler time when people had a clue what it meant to be an American. I remember when it was considered the norm to love and defend your country and its citizens fiercely. It hasn't been perfect. We have made some horrible mistakes; slavery, the treatment of the Bonus Marchers, the internment of Japanese Americans, Roe vs. Wade, and now the inane idea that we somehow have the right to go through our lives unoffended.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

See anything about the right to be unoffended? Especially if being unoffended means you have license to offend others? It reminds me of the classic line in Orwell's Animal Farm- All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others. We have lost sight of so much.

It occurs to me that the best way for me to celebrate the 4th of July, our Independence Day, is to take the time to say what is really on my mind and what is really important before it is illegal to do so. So here goes:

I am a free woman. I thank my God and Creator for blessing me by making me a woman of faith in these United States. I am humbled at the extravagance of mercy and blessing that has been bestowed upon me. I do not take these blessings for granted. As wonderful as they are they pale in comparison to my true freedom. As a repentant sinner whose only hope is in Jesus Christ, I am free forever from the penalty of sin. As I am being sanctified by Him daily, I am free from the power of sin. Soon, very soon, as I stand before my maker clothed in nothing but Jesus' righteousness, I will be forever free from the presence of sin. Alleluia! That's freedom worth celebrating!

Romans 6:22-23
22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

02 July 2008

Knowledge is Power...unless it is just plain wrong.

I have a few blogs that I read regularly. Well, as regularly as I do anything in my life. Steve Camp, at Camp On This, is always a good read. I don't necessarily agree with everything the man writes or how he chooses to write it, but that's true of everyone I read. In fact, I am mercurial enough to disagree with my own writing on any given day. Steve wrote a list of resolutions that are right from Scripture. Not only is his article a good read, the comments are worth reading too. One of the things that came up in comments was the idea that living by resolutions can give way to self-dependency. It's a valid warning. There is always a fine line between having faith in your faith and having faith in the sufficiency of Christ.

There's a lot of information out here on the superhighway. Some of it isn't worth the powder it would take to blow it back to hell. It can be difficult to navigate your way to stuff worth reading. I am not one that thinks you should read only what is orthodox. In fact, I think that Christians are too quick to become intellectual separatists. I am not giving license to read smut. In fact, that's a no-brainer for me. What I am trying to say is that reading about other worldviews isn't necessarily a bad thing. There are some loony people out there with some loony ideas and if you don't have sufficient grounding in your faith and are susceptible to thinking loony thoughts, you might want to proceed with caution, but opposition isn't always bad for you.

Knowledge is power when you have the ability to think critically and when you have a standard by which to measure the veracity of the knowledge. When I was in the 2nd grade I was in the afternoon class. It was sort of like being in the GATE program. I had been moved from the morning class into the afternoon class and I had a head swelled with pride. I was now a member of the elite who got to do special research projects. My first project was to give an oral report about the Golden Gate Bridge. Wanting to provide the teacher with the best and most stunning report she had ever heard I used every resource available to me. My great-grandfather had helped build the old Carquinez bridge so I was pretty certain that made him an expert on the Golden Gate. Why I trusted a man who told me that you milked cows by pumping their tails or that dogs sniffed one another because there was a big windstorm once that mixed up all their parts and they were sniffing to see if they could find the original parts that belonged to them is beyond me. But I did.

How my teacher kept from laughing hysterically is something I don't understand. She was a most gracious woman. I stood up and told the class everything I had learned- keeping back the little known secrets my grandfather had told me until the very end. Very somberly as if I were trading national secrets, I told the class that the Golden Gate Bridge was an engineering marvel. It had been built so that in the event that the Japanese should attack San Francisco the way they had attacked Pearl Harbor, the roadway would roll up and be pulled back into secret tunnels in the mountains on either side and there were two enormous guns that would appear on the towers to shoot their planes out of the sky. My classmates howled with laughter and thought I was being a clown. They had no idea that I was as serious as a 7 year old can be. Years later when I was visiting the Marin headlands and seeing the gun batteries and Nike missiles that were left over from the cold war, I had a good chuckle. Great-Grandpa got me good with that story.
One of the greatest obstacles encountered in a teaching ministry is this idea, pervasive in the Christian Church, that there is no benefit to be had by the laity in serious study of the Word of God or in the study of theology. We have elevated to the level of an ideal, the idea of having a simple childlike faith... There is a close connection between simplicity and naivete. Believers who have not been deeply trained and matured in the things of God, are vulnerable and exposed to every wind of doctrine that blows through the Church... We are exposed to them because we simply do not have a mature understanding of the truth of God. - R.C. Sproul

What's my point? Being childlike in our faith doesn't mean checking our brains at the door. Avoiding works based salvation and faith doesn't mean you stop striving for obedience. Critical thinking is hard work and we as believers are not doing enough of it. It's worth repeating. The discipline to think critically is hard work, as it in it takes effort. Real, sustained, continuous effort. Make certain what you know can be measured and is true, even the experts in your life can be wrong.

I leave you the same quote I left on Campi's blog.

"Consider the benefits promised to the true disciple. Jesus said 'You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free!' No one can know truth except the one who obeys truth. You think you know truth. People memorize the Scriptures by the yard, but that is not a guarantee of knowing the truth. Truth is not a text. Truth is in the text, but it takes the text plus the Holy Spirit to bring truth to a human soul. A person can memorize a text, but the truth must come from the Holy Spirit through the text. Faith comes by hearing the Word, but faith is also the gift of God by the Holy Spirit." A.W. Tozer Faith Beyond Reason.

01 July 2008

When The Lights Go Out

If this wasn't the truth, it would be hysterically funny.