Thursday, December 9, 2010
* Revelation Song sung by Kari Jobe
Merry Christmas, Kajiji Girls!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
In 1620 when the Pilgrims first arrived in the New World, most didn't make it too far beyond their first season. With not much food and nothing in the way of adequate shelter, half their numbers never survived that first winter. Thanks to the Native Americans who welcomed them and taught them how to survive, the following year was very different. Their harvest was successful enough that Governor William Bradford declared a time of thanksgiving to God for a good crop and survival. This thanksgiving celebration lasted for three days.
What most people don't remember too well is that thanksgiving was not celebrated every year thereafter. If there was a good harvest brought in such as in 1623 (which by some is referred to as the official First Thanksgiving), then there was a celebration or two to accompany it. If not, there was no harvest celebration. Many days of thanksgiving were celebrated between 1621 and 1863, but it wasn't until 1863 that it became a yearly nationwide tradition proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln. If the here and now happened to be prior to the year of 1863, I would guess that this would be a year in which thanksgiving would not be celebrated based on the reapings of our nationwide harvest. Too many people unemployed, underemployed or simply living beyond their meager means would make this year a non-harvest celebration year for many of us. Personally, this year has been very hard on us - we've spent the last five years sowing a huge crop which has yielded very little for us to reap. As we sacrifice even more in order to survive the tough winter ahead, I am reminded of God's promises.
And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. Joel 2:25
The Book of Joel sums up a year in the life of the nation. The people of Israel had been plagued by a swarm of locusts that had devoured the land. The crops were destroyed to the point that even the bark of the trees was stripped. There was nothing left. All of the energy and effort of the previous year had been eaten up in a matter of weeks. So too, maybe as you look back at the past year of your own life, you feel like locusts have descended upon it. Maybe you put a lot of energy into a relationship only to have nothing to show for it now. Maybe you gave a lot of yourself to your job but were passed by for a promotion. Maybe the creeping, gnawing, crawling, stripping locusts have left virtually nothing behind of that which you so lovingly planted, to which you so energetically gave yourself.
But, as he said to his people in Joel's day, God says to you this day, "I will restore the years the locust has eaten. I'll not only give you a fresh start, but will restore to you the years that were lost, the energy that was wasted."*
Even in this year of poor harvest for many, we are thankful. I am thankful for family (blood and through Christ) who make life worth living and are what it's all about. I am thankful for each one I call friend. I am thankful for the community surrounding me and my family. I am thankful for the abundance of God's provision despite the poor health of our money tree out back. I am thankful for faith, hope and love which bolster our spirits and care for our souls. Big harvest or small, I consider myself very rich indeed.
Thanks be to God!
*Thanks to Erin for forwarding me this from Jon Courson's Application Commentary by Jon Courson.
When I wrote this, our future was so uncertain at the time with my husband just starting out as a new lawyer, trying to accumulate business/clients and not making much money. Two years later, we can look back and see how God continually blesses us, provides for us and showers success on us even while our family continues to grow. Moving into our house ten years ago, I was excited to see that our backyard boasted a small wisteria tree. But year after year, when only the green leaves sprouted with no sign of its characteristic gorgeous purple flowers, I was disappointed and frustrated. After much work on our part - excessive yearly pruning, special fertilizer, etc. - we were rewarded with seeing it bloom for the first time last year. This is an example to me of our life of hard work and frustrating circumstances yet persistent hope. The harvest has been much more fruitful the past couple years, and I can only sit here in wonder thanking God for it all.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Christianity is at its best when it is peculiar, marginalized, suffering, and it is at its worst when it is popular, credible, triumphal, and powerful.1Politics is always a hot topic, even among Christians. Until now, many of the arguments I've heard between brothers- and sisters-in-Christ have been Democrat vs. Republican or liberal vs. conservative, even within the parties. However, as I go along, new issues and questions arise which give me much pause regarding Christians and politics and how the two interact. Is just casting your vote enough? Should a Christian ever have political aspirations? Can the church influence the government to better our society, even our world? This blog post may get you riled up, but I don't mean to offend. I want to challenge you in your thinking as I feel too many of my fellow Christians are investing too many of their precious thoughts, emotions and spiritual gifts into this system. These are simply my most recent thoughts and discoveries on the topic.
A politicized faith not only blurs our priorities, but weakens our loyalties. Our primary citizenship is not on earth but in heaven. ... Though few evangelicals would deny this truth in theory, the language of our spiritual citizenship frequently gets wrapped in the red, white and blue. Rather than acting as resident aliens of a heavenly kingdom, too often we sound [and act] like resident apologists for a Christian America. ... Unless we reject the false reliance on the illusion of Christian America, evangelicalism will continue to distort the gospel and thwart a genuine biblical identity.....By means of faithful preaching and godly living, believers are to be the conscience of whatever nation they reside in. You can confront the culture not with the political and social activism of man's wisdom, but with the spiritual power of God's Word. Using temporal methods to promote legislative and judicial change, and resorting to external efforts of lobbying and intimidation to achieve some sort of "Christian morality" in society is not our calling--and has no eternal value. Only the gospel rescues sinners from sin, death, and hell.
American evangelicalism is now covered by layers and layers of historically shaped attitudes that obscure our original biblical core. (The Evangelical Pulpit [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993], 106-7)
Though I have nothing against Christians in politics (after all, the Bible tells of God using and keeping a few good men in political positions), I believe it is the rare Christian that God calls into this world system. In the book God's Name In Vain, the author states that once a Christian enters the world of politics, he has no choice but to compromise on certain issues as the game of politics is all about compromise. Always. Yet Christians are called to be like prophets in proclaiming God's truth. The Hebrew definition of a prophet means "proclaimer" and can also be defined as one "who speaks for god or a deity, or by divine inspiration."3 So how does a Christian unabashedly proclaim God's truth in today's government? Mark Driscoll stated in a message recently, "It doesn't matter who we elect, Democrat or Republican. If we don't repent of our sin and pursue our needs instead of our greeds, then no functional savior will save us from ourselves. No functional savior, in the form of a politician, can save us from ourselves. As a people who have lived beyond our means - pursued our greeds, not our needs - we have to acknowledge that repentance is the only way to make change in life. But you see, this is not politically expedient."
The danger is that we can begin to read the Bible through the eyes of America rather than read America through the eyes of the Bible. We just want Jesus to be a good American....the Christian icon is not the Stars and Stripes but a cross-flag, and its emblem is not a donkey, an elephant, or an eagle but a slaughtered lamb.1
A Radical Alternative to Political Activism, John MacArthur compares the idea of a heart surgeon giving up his practice to become a winning prize-fighter to Christians who "focus on confronting our sin-ravaged, secular culture rather than converting it." He asks, "Which is the real Christian agenda - spiritual transformation or social and political change?"
In a teaching I recently heard, there are three enemies to the Christian life - the devil, the flesh and the world. The world is comprised of components and systems such as economics, religion, entertainment, education and politics. Certainly the government is not our enemy, however we must remember that every world system is ruled by the prince of this earth and will eventually fall into complete and utter darkness. I would ask: are we diverting our energies and gifts as a church into something eternal or something temporal that cannot by itself save or be saved?
America's moral decline is a spiritual problem, not a political one, and its solution is the gospel, not partisan politics.So what are my conclusions to the questions above? I have to admit, I'm not sure. However I believe if we are looking to our government for salvation, whether personal or cultural, we will be sorely disappointed. At this point, I'm very grateful for the moral and Christian leaders who help lead with integrity in our government's halls. I'm all for trying to protect our rights and privileges and being fairly represented. However I cannot help likening our Christian involvement in politics to the boy who discovered a leak in the dike. If you are at all familiar with the story of Hans Brinker, you'll know that this brave boy stayed there at the wall with his finger wedged in the dike all night long in order to save his town from a massive flood. His cries for help went unheard until daybreak when, interestingly enough, his salvation came in the form of neither a government official nor a concerned citizen, but a clergyman who answers his calls and runs for help.
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. Psalm 121:1-8
1. From Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne (a book I would only recommend reading with discernment as its message at times is very good and thought-provoking but has its roots in emergent church theology)
2. All text in red along with the post title comes from Grace to You with John MacArthur in a four-part series titled "Christians and Politics" . I would highly recommend you read the entire article for further info.
3. From Dictionary.com
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Both of these men have wives and families who are looking to them for guidance and direction. It's one thing to look at John Piper's family and think how lucky they are to have this extra focused time with their husband/father for eight whole months, but imagine the 24 hours, 7 days a week of being with him as he wrestles with the Holy Spirit. Imagine the hard spiritual work going on in the house. And whether he ends up in downtown L.A. or a third world country, Francis Chan has big changes ahead which means big changes for his family as well. Imagine if his wife was not on board with this! Following men like these leaders takes extra grace and tons of faith...and takes adopting their vision as your own.
Growing up, we all formed visions of our life ahead and most likely took steps toward creating this personal vision. Whether it was to be a stay-at-home mom, a working-outside-the-home mother, a housewife, a professional in top management, whatever, we tend to end up where our vision took us. But what happens to this vision when you marry? Does it change? Expand? Disappear? Sometimes in marriage, we take the opportunity to create a whole new vision for our husbands and we do whatever we can to fulfill this vision whether our husbands are on board with it or not. Especially when our husbands don't really know what their vision is or know how to fulfill it. I'm going to say something very controversial right here: when we marry, our vision must become what our husband's vision is. Which also means your husband needs to know his vision so you can help him fulfill it. Is that too 1950's for you? But that is the essence of being your husband's helpmeet. It requires a lot of strength to carry out and a lot of faith in his leading. Courteney from Women Living Well blog recounts her own story:
Helping our husbands discover their vision, building up our husbands and following their leadership are all requirements of being their helpmeet. Creating their vision for them, thinking your vision is better than theirs, taking the lead in where you see the family going (following your own vision), trying to change our husbands "for the better" are all examples of the controlling, unsubmissive wife. I have been guilty of all these examples and had only a tiny clue what it meant to follow my husband's leading. By not following my husband (good, bad or no vision at all), I stripped him of the powerful opportunity to reflect on the vision he was following, figure out what kind of vision he wanted and allow the Lord to guide him in that vision. When I take that kind of control over him, I essentially try to become his own personal Holy Spirit, prompting him, convicting him and leading him.
Get out of your husband's way, ladies, and let the Holy Spirit take His rightful place in your husband's lives! It's scary, takes much faith and prayer but yields amazing and joyful results.
P.S. I would also highly recommend getting your hands on and listening to The Wise Woman's Guide to Blessing Her Husband's Vision by Doug Phillips, found at Vision Forum online or download at BlueBehemoth. It is amazing and was what God used to speak to me on this issue.
1. From Following Your Husband's Vision post on Women Living Well.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
David had a lousy call made against him the other night at his softball game. Even I, who know very little about the game, could see it was a horrible call, that's how bad it was. The call ended the inning and David's team had to take to the field. But instead, most of the players began grumbling and many even began to argue with the ref. I sat and watched as all these men, who had nothing to do with the play yelled and complained. David said not a word. He calmly and quietly walked to the dug out, picked up his glove, walked through the throng of arguers at home plate and silently took his place at third base. In the next instant, he was forcibly brought into the "discussion" when the opposing team began yelling at him from their dugout (which was right next to third base). From what I could gather, they were accusing him of having intentionally shoved one of their players and were essentially threatening him. David calmly replied, both denying and apologizing simultaneously. They egged him on, seemingly looking for a fight. David apologized again and turned his back to them to start the inning.
Initially, my spirit soared with respect and honor of my husband. His behavior after the bad call was in such stark contrast to those around him. I was so humbled by his submission to the ref's authority, regardless of the injustice. As I swelled with pride for his integrity (and conviction for my own shortcomings), my mood shifted drastically when the opposing team began antagonizing my man. My pulse raced as I watched from the stands, fighting the compulsion to defend David's honor. (A ridiculous notion, I know, but my "Momma Bear" was on the prowl!) As angry voices screamed in my head and in the dug out, and as I watched David remain soft-spoken, polite, calm and humble; the quiet voice of God miraculously penetrated it all.
"What you see here and how you feel about David and these men is nothing compared to how things were for Christ's followers when they watched the religious leaders and guards mistreat My Son."
How incensed must Jesus' followers have been to watch their beloved Messiah, who consistently behaved with such integrity and gentleness, be completely mocked and reviled, without defending himself or without God striking the aggressors dead? For the first time, it dawned on me that Peter's defense of Jesus in the garden probably wasn't the only time one of the disciples wanted to do something to defend their friend. But because Jesus made it clear they were not to intervene in any way, they had to keep their thoughts to themselves and depend on Christ to handle the situation. Can you imagine what went through their minds as Jesus "handled it?" Thanks to our brief softball game experience, I feel like I caught a glimpse.
Even though I knew David was doing the right thing, and was proud of his humility and gentleness, even though I could see what he was choosing was the Spirit-filled path (Gal 5:25), I still struggled with wanting him to get into it with these guys! I wanted to see my man defend himself. I wanted to see him serve justice to the ref and the "men" who were yelling at him. I wanted to jump up and down in the stands screaming, "GO honey! Kick his ____!"
Now, don't you suppose the disciples fought against the very same thing? I do. I think God put in all of us a longing for justice that reflects our desire to see the last be first and the meek inherit the earth and all that. But we want to see that happen NOW. Sometimes it can be pretty frustrating, but we are the ones called to consistently be last and to remain meek. It is God's job to administer justice and God's job to fight the battles, in His way and in His time. God calls us to simply walk in the ways of Christ, staying in step with the Spirit, possessing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness and self-control. David probably wouldn't see it this way, but he did exactly that the other night before those two teams of men. And I was all the more humbled and convicted because of it.
Monday, July 5, 2010
I have had no major complaints in my marriage and have always thought it was a marriage made in heaven. My husband is handsome, easy-going, humorous and altogether wonderful. Our arguments, which are very few and far between, are typically delivered in a rational, logical manner and are resolved fairly quickly. Our faults are not highlighted by each other and for the most part easily forgiven. We sincerely enjoy each other's company and look forward to growing old together. But all that was right in my marriage could not erase the wrong in my heart. After all these many years of blissful matrimony, I find myself back at square one realizing I've had it all wrong. It was all about ME!!! It was ME being trained to be a better wife, ME learning how to be a better parent, ME realizing what a good Christian is, ME, ME, ME, ME, ME!!!!!!!!1
The last few years have found me struggling with my own pride. I spent almost two years earnestly praying for God to deal with my pride (but gently please!) and teach me how to not be so prideful. I literally didn't even know how to kill my own pride! The Lord taught me the key was in turning my eyes outward. When I was focused solely on myself, vital lessons were only "learned" internally. I have found a lesson is worth nothing if it can't be seen and acted on outwardly.
1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. I Corinthians 13:1-3
Marriage and parenthood can certainly teach us amazing lessons in humility, sacrifice, love and submission, IF one lets it. Most Christians are aware of the concept of all that we do, doing it unto the Lord. Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. ~Colossians 3:22-24
It's easy to think of working at our jobs, staying committed in our marriage, raising our children and cleaning our house for the Lord. But my questions is, c an we do it for our husbands? Are we willing to actually accomplish these tasks set before us for the sake of our husbands? This is what submission is to me: doing my utmost best in everything set before me for the sake and love of my husband and setting everything of mine (including my work, ministry, duty, etc.) under his authority/control. I'm ashamed to say this never occurred to me. To do it for the Lord? Sure! To do it for myself? Of course! But to do it for my husband?? What?!
I have found a renewed energy and motivation in doing what I need to do in my marriage, in parenting and in my homemaking. When I can do what I do for my husband (and not for myself), I am doing it for the Lord. My shocking revelation (though it really shouldn't be shocking to me) is this: unless I know how to submit to my husband, it is quite impossible to submit myself to the Lord.
* Not associated with the movie of the same name but fitting for my post's title. :)
1. Another post where I've struggled about ME was here.
Monday, June 14, 2010
I never spoke a word of any of this to David. Never allowed a sigh to escape or an attitude to slip. I prayed for strength, for wisdom and discernment. I got up. I got dressed. I donned my covering. I sat at my husband's side and humbly thanked God for the lessons and blessings He keeps pouring forth over me as I continue to learn what submission to my man and to my Maker looks like.
I have spent the last few months being shown, graciously but bitterly, how horridly I have always fought against the lordship of my husband and the kingship of my God. And even as I have cried out, "Lord, have mercy on your daughter!" He has proven Faithful and True and Loving and Kind. I am in awe. I am so unworthy.
I am just beginning to see what submission looks like. Here are some glimpses I have been granted:
- Keeping silent when my husband complains about something.
- Removing his complaint by addressing his need.
- Refusing to point out I have done just that.
- Allowing him to decide, even if I don't like the decision.
- Keeping silent when he corrects or disciplines the children.
- When he isn't present, speaking as his representative to the children in moments of correction and discipline.
- Refusing to speak ill of him. Ever.
- Seeing what matters to him and making sure it gets done (a nice dinner, a clean house, a well-groomed wife, etc.)
- Never, ever raising my voice at him.
- Allowing God to direct him in the ways of our family, instead of suggesting we should do things my way (i.e. which church we should attend, how educating our children should look, what we should do on the weekend, etc.)
- Noticing what troubles him and making darn well sure it ain't me.
- Noticing what troubles him and doing something to help solve the problem (i.e. finances, work around the house, relationships with others, etc.)
- Loving him and serving him, even when I don't feel like it and doing my darnedest not to let him know I don't feel like it.
Ladies. If you don't know me, you don't understand the miracle of this list. If you do know me - you BETTER see it. You better know, and I mean KNOW - deep in your gut - how uncharacteristic of me any. single. one. of those actions is. The Lord is changing me. The Lord is reshaping me. The Lord is breaking me.
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. - John 15:13.
I suppose this is what I am ultimately coming to. That I would lay down my life, my pride, my desires, my way, my control, my opinion, my independence, my selfishness, my power, my all for not just "a friend." My best friend. My husband.
There are blessings. There are unimaginable outpourings of God's grace and God's spirit and God's power to those who will humbly submit themselves to Him. Perhaps sometime I will write about a few God has given to me. But I think these are so specific, so tailor-made just for me, that perhaps you would fail to see them for the miraculous gifts they are. So don't wait for my version. Go experience it for yourself.
I remain (faithfully continuing to wear the hats) -
Wife of David, Child of God
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
The greatest enemy to human souls is the self-righteous spirit which makes men look to themselves for salvation. ~Charles Spurgeon
I know that my selfish desires won't let me do anything that is good. Even when I want to do right, I cannot. Instead of doing what I know is right, I do wrong. And so, if I don't do what I know is right, I am no longer the one doing these evil things. The sin that lives in me is what does them. The Law has shown me that something in me keeps me from doing what I know is right. With my whole heart I agree with the Law of God. But in every part of me I discover something fighting against my mind, and it makes me a prisoner of sin that controls everything I do. ~Romans 7:18-23 (CEV)
* From Romans 3:10
Monday, May 3, 2010
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 (ESV)
Those who labour to establish their own righteousness also labour in vain. The convinced sinner is heavy-laden with guilt and terror; and the tempted and afflicted believer has labours and burdens. Christ invites all to come to him for rest to their souls. - from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Ever wonder what it takes to have mighty, powerful, miraculous things happen in your life? I do. From what I've seen, God is not predictable. If He were, He'd be no smarter than us, right? Those that know Him, know that our intelligence can't hold a candle to His omniscience.
He oftentimes shows His reasonings for doing things that we wonder about, but many times we have to wait for that revelation: “Aha. THAT was a gift that He took so and so home so early.” For example, in the early 90's I knew a very handsome young man in his twenties from my old church that was skiing and hit a tree and died suddenly. It was so tragic. He had his whole life ahead of him..marriage, kids, and who knows what else. THEN, having talked about it with my family, I later learned from my brothers, who were kids at the time, that they knew a girl their age who was friendly with Brian. She relayed to them that he had a degenerative disease that would put him in a wheelchair at the age of 30 or so! That was my “Aha” moment.
You might think it strange that I think it's merciful to take someone to be with the Lord just because they'd have to be in a wheelchair since I am disabled! Well, the fact is, I know what life is like, and I totally treasure it, even with my limitations, however, I had the ability to live life with limits from an early age, progressing slowly to the point I'm at now. For others, it would be a jail sentence, and if his disease was that quickly to progress, would his death be within 5 years & one of suffering, like ALS? God knows best. Always. Of course, if we really think about it, being in Heaven with no sin, disease, hurt, or sadness will be so much better than what any of us experience now. The struggle sometimes can be wanting to stay here for our loved ones, our kids, to see what else “life” has to offer.
OK, that was a side note. What inspired me to write this passage was Elijah. I was just reading about how he was taken up “in a whirlwind” by chariots of fire right in front of Elisha's eyes (2nd Kings Ch.2). Wow, huh? He's also mentioned many times in the New Testament, showing how the Jews recognized his award-winning faithfulness to God. One specific instance I'm reminded of is where he appeared to Peter, John & James while they were with Jesus. He was already gone from this earth but God chose Elijah and Moses to appear before these disciples in “glorious splendor” to talk with Jesus! My curious mind wanted to know! Why Elijah? There are many men & women of faith mentioned in the Old Testament times. Well, I think he was one of many who showed death-defying faith on many occasions. One is in 1st Kings 17, where he literally lived raven to mouth! He then followed God's direction into enemy territory to ask a widow who was about to feed her son & herself their last bit of food before dying to feed HIM with it! He KNEW God was faithful and would multiply the food throughout the famine. Of course, He did.
So then, what do I do with this? What's the application of this information that's coming to me this day before Easter morning? There's a theme to me, between Elijah totally trusting God with his very life & direction, to Jesus actually suffering a horrible death, knowing that God would raise Him from the dead three days later, for a MUCH greater cause. Of course, there are many other instances in the Scriptures of people like you and me sticking their necks out to trust God to get where they needed to go. TRUST in the ONLY One that can totally be trusted. DO what He wants us to do. KNOW that He will provide the best path possible. This is one way to have the closeness to God that can lead to miracles & power in our lives!
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
First of all, where do I strike the balance between embracing my femininity and over-indulgence in “appearance enhancing?” After all, God did not make me simply female. He made me feminine, too. There is a reason why I enjoy getting dressed up and looking pretty and I had forgotten how much it meant to me until I found myself trying to coordinate with hats every Sunday. As the song declares, “I enjoy being a girl!” Yet, I know there are Scriptures which caution women to be careful about adornment, and I need to be sure my choices don’t cause a brother or sister to stumble in their faith. So I find myself walking the precarious line between celebrating God’s creation of me in the fullness of my girlie-girl self, and maintaining modesty and humility, with my pride in check. I have read arguments that proper head coverings (referred to in 1 Corinthians 11) cannot be fashionable hats, but must be a veil or scarf-like covering. While I find no Scriptural support for this interpretation, the basis of it gives me pause. I must acknowledge I am at great risk of turning a Scriptural mandate into an excuse to be fashionable.
The second question I have struggled with is wondering what behavior is acceptable in corporate worship. Currently I find myself in a fairly reserved, conservative worship environment, but I have been in gatherings where dancing, kneeling, even laying prostrate were perfectly acceptable expressions of worship. As most of my readers know, I am a fairly demonstrative person, and therefore joining in with these outward displays is largely appealing to me. But imagine trying any of these while adorning a hat! Even raising arms outstretched to heaven is a challenge. Does this suggest that we are supposed to be more “prime and proper” in corporate settings? Verses certainly speak to there needing to be order in worship, but verses also speak to dancing before the Lord, worshiping Him with hands raised, shouting, and even laughing being a form of worship. So which is it? Do we dance and rejoice before the Lord in heels and hats, regardless of the undignified appearance we create? Or are our adornments meant to reign us in, keeping us more controlled and orderly? I don’t have an answer yet.
I could not possibly have anticipated all that was in store for me as I began this practice. I cannot emphasize enough how strongly I believe I would have MISSED OUT without literal obedience. Please hear me – I am not saying all women everywhere must now begin to wear head coverings in church. My point is rather to get us (myself included) to ask ourselves whether “being right” regarding Scripture analysis is worth the sacrifice of “being wrong” and still learning so much.
I honestly don’t know if 1 Corinthians 11 is something meant to be taken literally. But I have been set free from needing to know that answer. It doesn’t matter to me. What matters is God continues to reveal new things to me through the act of wearing head coverings and I refuse to give up this precious connection with our Heavenly Father just because someone might be able to prove the irrelevancy of this literal application. It has not been irrelevant for me. I continue to wear head coverings each week, because I continue to learn, grow and connect with God in ways I wouldn’t without the hat.
Monday, February 22, 2010
It was then, that God began the real dialog with me. I could almost sense Him chuckle with a “You asked for it” response. For the last few months since, He has been drilling home the importance of submission to my husband as my head. Here is a smattering of some of the challenges and thoughts I have encountered:
- Choosing silence, even when I know “I’m right” about something, thereby showing respect and elevating our marriage above my pride. (See Phil. 2:6-8)
- Agreeing to decisions I am not 100% behind, thereby trusting God’s ability to lead and direct David in matters that affect me. (Gen 12:1, 12:5)
- Keeping a tidier home as a way to honor David’s hard work and welcome him at the end of a long day. (Prov. 31:27)
- Making an effort to present myself to David as the blushing bride of his youth to honor his commitment to love me and long-after only me among all women. (SS 7:10)
- Looking for ways to intentionally encourage David in his leadership role.
- Making sure I am serving him as his true ezer kneged, or “strong partner.” Therefore I should do all I can to empower David to fulfill God’s purposes for his life. (Gen 2:18)
These lessons have taken weeks to implant themselves in my brain. I find I still need the weekly reminder to realign myself with their truth, because none of them come naturally to me. (In fact, I typically fight against them with fervor!) I also find God continues to add to the list, week after week. It is possible all these components of submission will one day be second nature (by the Grace of God), but until then, I will wear my hats in hopes to help me remember who I am, whose I am and whom I serve.
Little did I know how much richness waited me in my obedience to this one passage of Scripture. In my final post, I will share about how helping the angels has resulted in helping myself.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Historically, my approach to ALL rules – whether established by God or man, has been to follow them only AFTER I understood why the rule exists in the first place and only AFTER I then decided I liked the rule. If I don’t understand or like the reasons for the rule, I kick and scream better than the best three year olds I know. Once I do understand WHY (and agree), I am “obedient” without fail. However, through the past few months, this is what God has said to me:
That is Not Obedience. It just isn’t.
Ouch. I have come to believe, through this experiment of mine, that True, Hard-Core Obedience is taking the reading of God’s Word literally and immediately; and the time for questioning and analyzing comes AFTER obedience, not before. Every single lesson God has taught me, everything He has revealed about Himself and about me, every bit of transformation I have experienced during these past few months would never have happened if I had taken a different approach. If I had first determined whether or not this passage said what it appears to say or not or if I had tried to see how it was a historical/cultural (and therefore irrelevant) application, I would have completely missed out.
This has made me sadly wonder how often I have missed out in the past! It has also made me question why I have felt the need to go about things all wrong. My defiant arrogance has been my downfall. I have not wanted certain passages of scripture to apply to me and I have gone to great lengths to make sure they don’t.
I have read this passage before and thought, “God can’t possibly be so superficial as to care about whether our heads are covered or not!” – but through the act of surrendering to His Word, I have witnessed once again, how much God’s “suggestions” and God’s “laws” are not to be judged so quickly. He didn’t create His guidelines for fun, or to frustrate us, or as punishment, or so as to elevate some while degrading others. He also didn’t assemble the Scriptures with certain passages meant for 200 AD and others meant for 2010AD. ALL of it is “God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:15) Every verse has value and can be applied today in some form. Our job is to respond with true obedience, listening to the Spirit and trusting God’s guidance. Sometimes that will mean doing things that don’t make sense to us at first, or doing something we don’t “agree” with or don’t like. But I feel confident that God will ALWAYS honor this level of obedience to his Holy Word.
Some will read 1 Corinthians 11 and surmise the lesson to be applied today is really about wives submitting to their husbands and husbands submitting to Christ and that wearing the head covering is really not the point. I can not agree or disagree with this application, because my decision has been based on personal conviction, and I reserve the right to realize God gives me permission to stop at any time, if He should choose to do so. However, in my next post I hope you will see how the very act of wearing a head covering has enhanced my understanding of submission to my husband in ways I never would have achieved had I not had the physical, symbolic reminder every seven days.
1. Brian Schwertley - see previous post, "What the Commentators Had to Say"
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Although the use of head coverings in public worship is obviously not as important as the doctrines of the trinity, the two natures of Christ or justification by faith alone, nevertheless, it is important for a number of reasons. (1) It is required by Scripture and thus cannot be set aside like a bad recipe. When God has spoken on an issue, our job is to trust and obey whether we like it or not. (2) In our day when marriage and family life is at an all time low, any teaching and practice that supports the covenant headship of the man and the submission of the wife needs our utmost adherence. Head coverings represent what God teaches about marriage. Therefore, we should not mock or hate this biblical practice but embrace it wholeheartedly. (3) Culture at the present time in
This entire passage spoke to me, however, in the next three postings I will focus on the sections in bold, as they truly leapt from the page and smacked me right upside the head. Before I do so, below are the two most common arguments I found against the literal application of this passage.
1. Interpreting the "head covering" to mean "long hair."
Recently some authors have maintained that when Paul says "her hair is given to her for a covering" he is saying that the hair suffices as a covering, and this interpretation has enjoyed some popular currency, but it cannot be the Apostle's meaning... It is simply taken for granted in verses 5 and 6 that such cropped hair would be disgraceful, and so everyone agrees that a woman's head should be covered. And if there is something especially suitable about a woman's head being covered, then she should be glad to wear a headcovering in addition to the long hair. But if she does not like a headcovering, well then, let her shear off her hair also! ... These verses make no sense otherwise. If by "uncovered" Paul means only a shorn head in the first place, as some would have it, then his argument in verses 5 and 6 amounts to the nonsensical "if a woman will not refrain from cutting off her hair, then let her cut off her hair also." by Michael Marlowe
2. Head coverings have no symbolic significance in our culture
In today's culture, we no longer view a woman's wearing of a head covering as a sign of submission. In most modern societies, scarves and hats are fashion accessories. A woman has the choice to wear a head covering if she views it as a sign of her submission to the authority of her husband. However, it is a personal choice and not something that should be used to judge spirituality. Source: http://www.gotquestions.org/head-coverings.html
Instead, [Paul] explains that the headcovering practiced in the churches is emblematic of womanly submission; and he also indicates that this is a symbol which even the angels (who are not subject to changing fashions) take a real interest in. So the practice cannot be dismissed as being merely cultural. And when we consider that the bare-headed fashion of our times came into vogue at the same time that the "women's liberation" movement began, along with the wearing of pants and the cutting of hair, we ought to pause before we say that these things are really so devoid of symbolism in the culture at large...What if, after careful consideration of a biblical mandate, we remain uncertain as to its character as principle or custom? If we must decide to treat it one way or the other but have no conclusive means to make the decision, what can we do? Here the biblical principle of humility can be helpful. The issue is simple. Would it be better to treat a possible custom as a principle and be guilty of being overscrupulous in our design to obey God? Or would it be better to treat a possible principle as a custom and be guilty of being unscrupulous in demoting a transcendent requirement of God to the level of a mere human convention? I hope the answer is obvious." Unfortunately it seems that Sproul's hope is out of place in the easy-going churches of our day. We are quite willing to be guilty of being unscrupulous. We would rather dismiss the apostle's reproof as "cultually conditioned" and emulate the easy-going Corinthians, who represent the Christian liberty which is so precious to the modern church. But this only shows that we are creatures of a like culture. By Michael Marlowe
I would love to hear YOUR initial reactions to these commentaries! Add your comments below!
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Thus began an interesting journey into what it means for me to follow and apply the Scriptures, what my obedience really needs to look like, and a host of other surprising lessons I found in “covering my head.” I initially determined on face value, there was nothing to suggest in this passage that it did NOT apply to me, today, in this culture. Therefore, before delving any further into any other research, I made a commitment to wear a head covering of some sort to Sunday worship service consistently until God made it clear to me this wasn’t necessary. (I wear one still.) In the next three postings, I am going to share about why I came to the conclusion that I needed to do this, what covering has been like, so far, and how God is using it to speak wonders into my life.
Let me say right off the bat the convictions and lessons I am learning are very personal. I am in NO WAY suggesting these are lessons everyone needs to learn or that they need to be learned in this exact manner. I have been nervous about even sharing my experience for fear my audience would either misinterpret my passion as argument for adopting my convictions or readers would feel the need to show me how my interpretation of this passage is theologically “off based” (in their opinion). I am not looking for a debate about what this passage “really” means. I confess I do not have the training in Biblical studies to successfully defend how God speaks to me through His Word. Part of the beauty in this practice has been realizing how much God uses His Word to speak directly into our personal lives in ways which are, well, personal.
Personal convictions remain powerfully effective until the person attempts to make them public. I cannot apply personal convictions as public convictions, perhaps cannot even discuss them, without creating the danger of legalism. Legalism is often the product of personal conviction applied publicly without explanation, or at a time when the reason and the passion behind the convictions have been forgotten. Unless everyone catches the same vision and the same passion about the same conviction, someone ends up bitterly following or forcefully rejecting. This is certainly not my goal here! Instead, I hope to provide encouragement for us all in our shared belief that God is working to accomplish His purposes in our lives. Even my casual acquaintances know that issues of gender equality, women in leadership, and headship and submission in marriage are very hot topics for me and therefore I trust will not take the lessons I have learned in these areas lightly, but see them as the tremendous work of the Holy Spirit in me that they truly are. I look forward to sharing these with you in the week to come!
2I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you.
3Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is just as though her head were shaved. 6If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. 7A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.
11In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. 13Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Accountability. It's such a scary word, isn't it? We usually think of accountability only when we think of a particular sin in someone's life such as a man struggling with pornography or a woman struggling with a shopping addiction. But I don’t think we need to be struggling with a specific issue in life to need accountability but rather to use accountability in our life to further us along in our spiritual life and to experience the benefits of the Christian community around us. When we hold ourselves accountable to another brother or sister-in-Christ, we become vulnerable to them...and that's the scary part. We don't like feeling vulnerable.
Vulnerable - adjective
|1. ||capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon.|
|2.||open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc. |
|3.||(of a place) open to assault; difficult to defend.|
No one wants to be in a place of vulnerability. The phrase that stands out to me in the above three definitions though is "difficult to defend." When we give up defense of ourselves, we gain insight and maturity. It is always in defending ourselves that we choose to stay blinded to our shortcomings. I have to admit, that's a very tough one for me as it's definitely within my nature to defend myself in every regard. I have an innate sense of justice that may be good in some situations for the benefit of others but gets me in trouble when it comes to myself.
Placing ourselves in the hands of our accountability partner/group does indeed make us open to criticism, but isn't that the point? None of us are perfect yet hearing others tell us we aren't perfect results in an automatic defense of our imperfections. To allow ourselves to be open to the encouragement of others and give up all defenses is a sign of a mature Christian.
It's so easy as an adult to feel like we don't answer to anyone. I have to admit that after growing up in a very disciplined, restrictive environment, I revel in the fact that I'm an adult able to make my own decisions and sometimes even remind myself that "I can do whatever I want now." Though this may seem true, it's simply an illusion for the most part. Though I can now make an insignificant choice to have chocolate cake for breakfast (which I would never do, btw!) or decide to spend a night on the town with my girlfriends without permission from my parents, I'm still under the headship of my husband and still accountable to God. I still have to answer for my actions, if not to the people in my life, then to God Himself.
What is accountability? It is a check and balance system to protect us from harm from ourselves and others. We do this by being open to what we are thinking and doing so we can receive encouragement and reproof, when needed. Christian accountability is accounting for what we are up to. It is the realization that we are liable, responsible, and answerable for our actions in life to God (Matt. 12:36; Rom. 2:16; 14:2; 1 Cor. 3:10-15; 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:10), as well as to key Christians in our life (John 13:34 Gal. 6:1-2; Philip. 2:4; Heb. 10:23-24; James 5:16). Thus, we need to hold to our beliefs and keep in line with what we believe so it does not distract us from God’s path for us or discourage others from their path.
Accountability allows us to be answerable to one another, focusing on key relationships such as with our spouse, close friends, colleagues, coworkers, a boss, small group members, and pastor. It is sharing, in confidence, our heartfelt Christian sojourn in an atmosphere of trust. Then, we can give an answer for what we do and understand where we need help in areas where we are weak and struggling, where and how we are growing, what we are learning, and to be encouraged. These precepts help us to stay on track, and get prayer, care, and support when we fail. We can also model guideposts for one another in order to keep going.1
I do feel we need to be careful who we invite into our lives for accountability purposes. Many Christians have gotten burned by poor accountability attitudes and practices, and I do believe there is a proper and improper way to go about it. Mike Foster from Deadly Viper actually does not like nor agree with the word/concept of accountability but rather encourages advocacy between believers. He feels that "Christian accountability has deformed into a very ugly, uninspiring and broken system."
...Advocacy spurs us on to the “yes.” It revolves around the crazy good things that we should be engaging in. It pushes us to live a life of positive risks, creativity, adventure, and significance. We rally around each other in this and focus our relationships around this theme.2
Another good blog about accountability can be found here at Semper Reformanda which includes 20 questions to ask each other to help keep ourselves accountable. "I once heard Chuck Swindoll say something to the effect of, 'Your accountability partner can ask you anything he wants, otherwise you're not really accountable.'" Check out the questions and see if you'd feel comfortable answering them truthfully. So what are your thoughts on accountability/advocacy? Is it or should it be an integral part of the Christian walk? Have you ever used accountability to others in the past and/or do you use accountability in your life now?
Moral conduct includes every thing in which men are active and for which they are accountable. They are active in their desires, their affections, their designs, their intentions, and in every thing they say and do of choice; and for all these things they are accountable to God." ~Nathaniel Emmons
1. Excerpt from Discipleship Tools website - please check it out as it's a great article on accountability.
2. From the Conversant Life site - For an interesting perspective, read Mike Foster's entire article on "Why I Don't Believe in Accountability" .
* Definition of Accountability from Dictionary.com.