30 September 2010

Rocks in Life's Roadway

I have had a particularly bad day. In fact, I have had several bad days strung together. Weeks and months of bad days sprinkled with just enough hope to believe that something is going to change. Hope that I will, in fact, sit down and blog about having a particularly good day. I am not asking for a string of them, just one. One would get me over the hump and it's not too much to ask, or is it? I get so confused.

Expecting suffering and joy at the same time is hardly a recipe for happiness. Jesus told us the cost of following Him was that we would have trials and tribulations. The world will despise us, because it's full of God-haters who despise Him. Yet we are also told that joy is ours. The joy of being one of His own, saved from the unimaginable torments of hell. The worst day here being better than one nano second in hell. Reconciling the two truths seems difficult today... a bit too heady for me to attempt. I am not going to try.

One of the things that I say to people when they are losing their hope and fighting for joy is to think back on all the times God has been faithful. Take mental note and place a stone of remembrance in the middle of your 'page' so you can't miss it, whether looking forward or looking back. Make it a big pile or rocks, big enough to see clearly and be around for years to come. We do ourselves a great disservice when we forget to measure God's faithfulness in our lives. It is meant to encourage us to keep going and to keep fighting the good fight.

So I am looking back, not to have a pity party, but to see God's hand of deliverance in all the areas of my life. Whatever this season is about, whatever it is that God is working into my life, I will more than survive it. We are not called to just get by. We are called to glorify Almighty God- even when we don't feel like it.

Psalm 106:43-45
43 Many times He would deliver them; they, however, were rebellious in their counsel, and {so} sank down in their iniquity.
44 Nevertheless He looked upon their distress, when He heard their cry;
45 And He remembered His covenant for their sake, and relented according to the greatness of His lovingkindness.

Micah 7:18-19
18 Who is a God like Thee, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love.
19 He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, Thou wilt cast all their sins Into the depths of the sea.

1 Petet 1:3-9
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 to {obtain} an inheritance {which is} imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,
7 that the proof of your faith, {being} more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

28 September 2010

Obstacle Allusions

I was up at 5:00am this morning. Showered and sitting at my kitchen table finishing up a bible study by 6:30. At 8:40 I was in my car driving to meet with several ladies from our small town at a community bible study that is held at my church. I never made it. I found myself shopping at Kroger at 8:50 and back home by 9:45. Why? I wish I could tell you exactly why.

The bible study I am doing isn't among my favorites but the women I study with are. Admittedly, I was puzzled by something in the study that bothered me. It was an intimation that when Christ said: "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" He was addressing the other two members of the Trinity- hence He said "Eloi" twice. The study is on covenants and the author also correlated that in God's covenant with Abraham the smoking oven and flaming torch we also the remaining members of the Trinity. "Could it be that...." the author asked. Making statements by masquerading them as questions is generally an appeal to the reader or hearer to connect dots that the author hasn't been able to. Now does such speculation make me think the study's author is a heretic? No. I don't know what to make of the things the author has tied together except that I have never heard anyone do so before and can find no Scriptural warrant for it.

Is that why I ditched the bible study? Is it significant that I went shopping instead? I certainly was not in mortal need of the donuts I bought and ate on the drive home. I could have lived without the Cran-Grape drink too. If pressed, I have a list of reasons- plausible ones- that prevented me from arriving at bible study. It hurts my back and left leg to sit. I can't drive and take the medications to relieve my pain so I must sit and suffer during bible study. Additionally I have many difficult challenges that lie ahead. Some things I am not at liberty to discuss. They are not unlike the challenges that many face...many of whom still manage to make it to bible study. If I am honest I have to admit I didn't want to sit and listen to women oooh and awwww over the questions posited by the author- specifically the ones that bugged me. But being the lone voice of dissent isn't generally something that will stop me from giving my opinion.

I think the best way to sum up why I am at home drinking a cup of coffee and downing some pain medication is this: I wanted to. Right or wrong, I wanted to be home in my sweats more than I wanted to be in fellowship with my sisters in Christ. I wanted to be alone with my thoughts more than I wanted to be sharpened by theirs. Does this make me a heretic? I don't think so but you may have a different opinion.

I do need some time to filter the events going on in my life and inspect them through the lens of Scripture. I do need to consider some areas of my personality that need refining. Mostly I need to quit trying to do the right thing for the sake of appearance. If I am going to allude to obstacles... I have to admit the obstacle is me.

Psalm 32:3 When I kept silent {about my sin} my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.

Romans 7:24-25
24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

Ps 130:3 If Thou, LORD, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?

Romans 8:26-27
26 And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for {us} with groanings too deep for words;
27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to {the will of} God.

18 September 2010

Review Part Two of Voices of the True Woman Movement A Call to the Counter-Revolution

It is a glorious day in Kentucky. The humidity is gone. Mornings are crisp, evenings cool and it is toasty warm during the day. This morning I sat out on my front porch enjoying the birds, flowers and gentle breeze. I took with me an outstanding cup of Colombian coffee and my Voices of the True Woman Movement book. Before I started reading I took a moment to think about my stereotypical idea of the perfect Christian woman. In my mind she is perfectly dressed, perfectly coiffed, and demure. She speaks in dulcet tones and only when she has something encouraging to say. There is no doubt that her make-up is the perfect shade and she uses just enough to allow her to radiate a pleasing angelic glow. Her nails are manicured. Her feet are Barbie-like. She is Jackie O and June Cleaver combined with an encyclopedic knowledge of Scripture and a repertoire that includes a series of perfectly timed, perfectly targeted encouragement statements. She and I look nothing alike.

As I inventoried and compared myself and my idea of the perfect Christian woman, I came up short on all counts. There I sat in all my glory- fat, wearing shorts, barefoot, curly hair uncombed and unkempt giving me a Medusa like appearance, legs unshaven, nails chipped and not an ounce of make-up on. I am loud, opinionated, single, couldn't sew a button on correctly if my life depended on it. I have disclosed in previous posts that I am as subtle as a train wreck when it comes to delivering my opinion. I am none of the polished, classy things I see as the perfect Christian woman. Sometimes I confuse being a Christian woman with being a Stepford Wife. Recognizing my preconceived notions, I began to read.

Leading off in the second part of Voices of the True Woman Movement is Mary Kassian, who takes us on a historical journey using advertising and television to show us how the Feminist Movement took shape and took hold. I have had the pleasure of reading her book, Knowing God by Name and have Girls Gone Wise yet to read. I like her writing style. I also like history. Being 53, I grew up living in the time period that Kassian chronicles for us. She uses June Cleaver of Leave it to Beaver fame as our role model of what the exemplary woman of the 50s decade looked and acted like. The program used what we would call 'dysfunctional' families and people to contrast and accentuate what the ideal family looked like. Dad the protector provider, Mom the pearl wearing cookie baker, community service activist and confident, the two sons in moral dilemmas of the 50s variety- one teenager and one cub scout. I think her (Kassian's) observations are spot on.

Being an historian, I wish she (Kassian) had started back a bit further in the time line of events that made the late 50s and 60s ripe for a feminist rebellion. I am glad she wrote about Simone de Beauvoir and Betty Friedan as they profoundly impacted women in the United States. The ground was fertile for them to sow their ideas. If you have read my previous posts you know I am adamant that before something happens it gets ready to happen. In my opinion the set up for the Feminist Movement came with Rosie the Riveter. Men were called away to serve in World War II and their being gone left an enormous hole to fill in the work force here at home. Most of us have seen the movie, A League of their Own, which shows us how there was a void in sports entertainment because our young athletes were serving in the military. Desperate for baseball, promoters developed an all woman league of players. When the men came home, the women were summarily dismissed to return to their regular lives. The workforce gap was similarly filled with women. Women functioned well in what had been predominately male occupations. They brought home the bacon, fried it up in the pan and realized for the first time that they could earn more money this way than being secretaries and/or taking in ironing. They were experiencing self-sufficiency and many were liking it.

When our men came home from serving they were battered and broken. Wars do that to people. Imagine being raised to be a protector and provider and coming home to find your job occupied by a woman, the very women you were raised to protect Ships were built, planes, tanks you name it... Rosie did it. It's important to admit that caused some emasculation for the men. When you mix the male emasculation with some bitterness for the women into the cultural equation, it becomes easier to see how easily a cultural revolution could occur. Women were dismissed from their positions and expected to put an apron on and forget what they had learned. Men were expected to step right back into their roles as providers and had not been here to witness the modification in roles. The result was the difficult transition from wartime hero to working man became even more difficult. Both men and women lost jobs ... either by attrition, being reclaimed by the men who left them or by being occupied by the women who stepped into them while the men were away. Adding this information would allow the reader to have a fuller understanding of the mechanisms of change that served as catalysts for feminists and accelerated the destruction of the family as we knew it.

Kassian does a good job of introducing how each event leads to the next. I am especially appreciative of her pointing out how, in the pursuit of personal fulfillment, women speaking their perceived injustices aloud fed off one another. Words are powerful things and adversity is the strongest bonding agent. Combine the two and you have a force to be reckoned with whether for good or for ill. She says:

" Feminists in New York discovered that if they gathered women together in small groups, and got those women talking about their personal hurts and grievances against men, then all women in the group would begin to get upset and bitter against men---even those who initially had no identifiable issues. With direction, the group's anger could be then be channeled into personal and political activism. Collectively, the whole group could be empowered to rebel against men, thereby becoming actively committed to the feminist cause."

This chapter is concludes with a description of biblical womanhood and God's right as creator to define it. In an attempt to catch our attention she says, "Being a wife and mom is a great calling and privilege, but it does not satisfy our deepest needs." Denying the presuppositions of feminism is far more than accepting what they [feminists] would deem a second class role as a servant. Our aim is not to be the best wife and mom we can be. Our aim should be to fully embrace our purpose as decided by our Creator. We tend to get mired down in what the surface level questions of what that looks like are instead of digging past those issues into the treasure of what God intends for us. She points out that feminism has not delivered on its promises of fulfillment and how it will continue to fail. Our fulfillment rests in embracing our providence in God.

The second chapter in this part of the book is written by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, who takes us through a look at Esther. She provides some insights into Esther and gives her readers much food for thought. Perhaps the most valuable thing she writes come under her sub-heading Perspective and Hope for the Battle. She gives us 6 things to remember the one of most import being this: We are in a battle. DeMoss writes: " We need to remember that our battle as true women today is not against human powers or political parties or secular culture. Our battle is not against those who promote feminist ideologies. It's not fundamentally against men who mistreat or belittle woman. None of these is the ultimate enemy. The battle we are waging is a spiritual battle and we need to keep our eyes on that reality." This is the crux of it. We have to clearly define the problem before the solution becomes evident. The battle isn't over who is smarter, better, more capable, less willing or most vocal. The battle is one that is spiritual. We cannot find worldly solutions for spiritual problems, what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Cor 6:14).

I enjoyed the read and there are many things to consider and meditate upon. I am hoping that the next chapters will give definition and provide us some more biblical tools for the battle.

16 September 2010

Grace Relations

Ever have someone say something to you that cuts your heart into ribbons and you think you deserved it? Recently someone I love warned me that at times I sound full of vitriol. She was speaking in reference to my passion regarding certain topics, one of them being politics. That gave me some thinking to do. Next a close friend of mine listened to a seminar I gave on hope. She said the material was good but she wondered if I was afraid or tired or if something was wrong. She expected the woman she knew, she expected some humor, some in your face truth and to be uncomfortable because I would make her think. She likes to inspect her presuppositions and be challenged by biblical truth. I blamed the pain I am in and drugs I take. I tried to dismiss it but I have thought about little else since she gave me her criticisms.

A couple days ago I read a post on Pyromaniacs and after reading it, placed my tongue in cheek and typed a response that oozed sarcasm. Some poor woman with a twisted sense of humor just like mine read my comment and liked it enough that she came here to my blog to leave me a comment and let me know. She also read a post and decided that she would become a reader. Pray for her, she is obviously in need help. (Ooops! There goes that tongue back to its cheek position.) Her comment made me realize that I hadn't written anything here in a while and I wondered why. Is it because my back and neck injury keep me from being able to sit? Is it the drugs I take that leave me feeling too flat and lifeless to have an opinion? Just what is it that has taken the old Rosemarie and made her a bland, plastic version of the woman she once was?

I would like to blame it on sanctification. When in doubt, blame God. Adam tried it unsuccessfully when he blamed God for the woman God gave him, so I don't hold much hope in blaming God for my troubles either, though I could make an argument for it. See, sanctification refines us and gets the bad out. My opinions are sin tainted and bad. My delivery is sinful. I shall stop delivering sinful opinions and just to be certain... I will stop delivering any opinion. Therefore God is changing me and I must embrace it, right? A better likelihood would be that the first criticism I received about appearing vitriolic weighed so heavily on my heart that I swung too far in the other direction. In my last post, Becoming a Redemptive Train Wreck I explored my not so subtle style of delivering truth. It is right to stop delivering opinions sinfully, it is sinful to stop delivering biblical opinions for fear of offending others.

I had to do some shopping earlier this morning and while I did I thought about what it is that I need. What is it that we need in this country? What is it I need to employ when delivering what I know will be painful to hear? The answer is grace. We Christians need to think about grace relations. Know someone having an adulterous affair? They don't need understanding, they need to know they are in sin and sin places them in peril of eternal judgment. Liars, homosexuals, murderers, thieves..... all in danger of an eternity spent in hell. Hell is a very bad place. To say nothing for fear of offending someone who is on the brink of destruction makes me the worst type of coward. I couldn't help but think about a clip I saw of Penn Jillette talking about a man who gave him a bible. It's a sad day when as a Christian you realize an avowed atheist is thinking clearer about how to treat others than you are. Lord, grant me the ability to be an ambassador of Your grace and to build grace relations.

04 September 2010

Becoming a Redemptive Train Wreck

I have been reading a lot about relationships lately, mostly because relationships are something I fail. Being around other people magnifies my sin. Talking to other people amplifies the hissing and crackling sounds of self-pity, self-focus and self-reliance that play like a bad eight track tape in my soul. I would like to say that other people are my problem... but it seems I am the constant factor.

I am reading War of Words: Getting to the Heart of Your Communication Struggles by Paul David Tripp. It's putting a great big hurt to my ego. Here's a bit of what Tripp says that makes me say, ouch!

"Winning the war of words means speaking redemptively, and speaking redemptively is rooted in a restoration perspective on relationships. The purpose of human relationships is not human happiness. it is the work of reconciling people to God and restoring them to the image of His son.
"Winning the war of words means never forgetting who we are. When we remember that we are what we are because of God's mercy alone, we speak with gentleness and humility as God's restorers. How often our talk to one another lacks this gentleness and humility! We faith to speak redemptively because we have forgotten who he is and what he is doing in our relationships. We fail to speak with gentleness and humility because we have forgotten who we are and our own dependence on his grace."

I had someone tell me once that I was a subtle as a train wreck. My best friend has said that I should come with a warning, "If you don't want to know what I think, don't ask me for my opinion." Now all I have to do is find a way to be a humble redemptive train wreck...

1 Peter 4:10-11
10 As each one has received a {special} gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
11 Whoever speaks, {let him speak,} as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, {let him do so} as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.