Friday, August 28, 2015

Recognizing The Enemy

Our family is walking through some very intense days...  

You too?

Life is hard.....
   Sin abounds....
      People break under pressure...
          Hurting people, hurt people....

People sin, say words that hurt, act hateful, betray, become selfish, reject, demand, and try to be in control. That is the human condition.  It is so easy for us to look at others as our enemies when these things are present.  Yet, we are told that, "we wrestle not against flesh and blood". People may be the occasion but they are not the reason.  For those of us that are followers of Jesus, we will spend all of our lives participating with Him in the removal of the human condition from us, so that He can conform us to His image.  As we participate it is vital to acknowledge our enemy but keep our eyes on Jesus.  Our enemy is not those people who hurt us and or those that send wreckage into our lives.  They are the material that our enemy would like for us to look at, but ultimately they are the material that Sovereign God uses to mature us and make us more like Him.  Sometimes it is really messy and sometimes it is very painful!

A little bird didn't fly south for the winter as all the other birds did.  As the weather got colder, the north winds began to blow, and snow and ice began to fall from the winter sky.  The little bird began to get very cold, so cold in fact that her little wings froze.  As she was sitting in her frozen state, worrying about what she was going to do, a cow came by and pooped on her.  She thought, "oh great, just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, this stupid cow poops on me!”  But, much to her surprise she found that the manure was warm, and it began to unfreeze her wings.  She began to flap her wings with excitement, hopping, flapping, and tweeting over her freedom.  Just then a cat came around the tree and ate her.

Moral of the story?  
Not everyone who poops on you is your enemy.
Your real enemy is lurking around seeking whom he can devour. He just uses "cows" to distract you from seeing him and his plan.
If you are a bird, and you are supposed to fly south for the winter, you probably should fly south for the winter, and not go out on your own, rebellious, way.
  
Just some thoughts on this rainy Friday morning as I contemplate, acknowledging my enemy but keeping my eyes on Jesus!

Still learning to abide,
Kim
Ephesians 6:10-18, 1 Peter 5:6-9, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Pondering prayer

The last few years I have been trying to address disconnects in my life.  The disconnects are those things that I know what God's word says, yet that truth is not functioning powerfully in my daily life. 

Such is the area of prayer.  

Prayer comes in many packages. There are prayers of gratitude and acknowledgment of our God, we say these to start or end our church services, as we sit down to a meal, at a bedside, or even before a football game. There are prayers that are ongoing communication to our God throughout the day, as we whisper the names of those we love and situations we are facing. What about what Jesus had? Or what Elijah had? Or what David had?  Their prayers were more a way of life, a prayer life, even the term communicates that it has a life of it's own.  

Jesus withdrew often to talk to His Father in prayer.   Elijah, in constant communication with God, prayed prayers of boldness.  David, desperate for God to answer, sang His prayers to God.  Their lives exhibit to us, chunks of time for nothing else but prayer.  As I have been asking God to teach me what this looks like and how to do it, I have looked at men and women that I have admired through the years.  These are men and women that God has used in the church and in the world.  Their walks with God, the testimony of what their lives have stood for, and or their writings, are things that God has used to disciple me.  I found a common thread, it was prayer.   Their prayer time was more than an activity of duty, it was setting aside much time to encounter God, to seek His direction, and to intercede.  The Word of God was the material of what they prayed. I have been inspired, corrected, and convicted by studying prayer lives in scripture and of those that I sense possess something I do not.  

Adoniram Judson would seek to withdraw seven times a day from business and company to lift up his soul to God in private.  Robert Murray McCheyne said; "I must pray before seeing any one. This must be secret prayer.  I can do no good to those who come to seek anything from me apart from it. I feel it is far better to begin with God, to see his face first, to get my soul near him before it is near to another."  Edward Payson, a pastor in the second great awakening, was called Praying Payson, it is said that he wore groves into the hardwood floors where he would pray because of how often and how long he would kneel before the Lord.  The prayer life of Hudson Taylor, George Mueller, Amy Carmichael, Martin Luther, and David Brainerd, certainly was a key that unlocked something supernatural in their lives and the life that God had for them. 

There was another common thread in the lives listed above, they were desperate.  They knew who God was, they knew who they were, and they were desperate for Him to do what only He could do.  These common threads, ask me questions about my own prayer life that beg for answers. Am I, (are we) desperate for the things only God can do?   How long will I, (will we) keep living the same way but desire a different outcome?  Does the life, the power, the change, come any other way except through a life surrendered, centered with His word, and in constant prayer?

Often we spend more time talking about prayer and studying prayer, than actually praying.  I truly believe if we are going to see God move in our lives, families, churches, nation, and world, God's people are going to have to pray. (2 Chronicles 7:14, James 5:16)   We must set aside time in our own lives and in the lives of our churches to seek His face. We used to call them prayer meetings, where we came together to meet with God and with each other through prayer.  They seem to be no longer "relevant".  Is prayer no longer relevant? We have regulated prayer and given it only a snippet of time in our lives and in our churches, yet keep longing for God to do something.  We are anemic and have lost power as the church because we have forsaken our only Power for a pitiful substitute of what we can do. We have ceased to call our houses of worship, houses of prayer, because that would not be cutting edge enough to draw a crowd. (Matthew 21:12-13) 

Just some thoughts this afternoon as I ponder prayer.....

Still learning to abide,
Kim
kimday1964@gmail.com

Below are some of the scriptures I am learning to live in and some quotes that are written on scraps of paper and scattered around my home.  If you are interested...

Scripture on prayer:
1 Chronicles 16:11, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 4:1, Psalm 145:18, Proverbs 15:29, Isaiah 62:6-7, Matthew 6:5-13, Matthew 7:11, Luke 6:12, Luke 18:1, Romans 8:26, Philippians 4:6, Colossians 4:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:17, 1 Timothy 2:1-2,8, James 1:7, James 4:6, James 5:16, 1 John 1:9

Prayers to study in Scripture:
John 17, Exodus 32-34, Psalm 51, Chronicles 20, Ephesians 1:15-23, Ephesians 3:14-21, Acts 7:54-60, 1 Samuel 1:1-2:10

Some quotes to ponder on prayer;

 "God does nothing except in response to believing prayer."  John Wesley

“God shapes the world by prayer.” E.M. Bounds

"Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees." Corrie ten Boom

"The prayer power has never been tried to its full capacity. If we want to see mighty wonders of divine power and grace wrought in the place of weakness, failure and disappointment, let us answer God's standing challenge, "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not!'" (J. Hudson Taylor

"No learning can make up for the failure to pray. No earnestness, no diligence, no study, no gifts will supply its lack." E.M. Bounds

"Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer."  John Bunyon

“I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.”  Charles Spurgeon

“What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use— men of prayer, men mighty in prayer"  E.M. Bounds

"Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work."  Oswald Chambers.


Friday, August 7, 2015

Women Of God #4

Hey exhausted mommy!  
I know you....

The first time you gave birth, you thought to yourself, "I'm not old enough to have a baby", " I can't do this", "Who would trust me with a life?"  I remember the first day you were left alone with two babies under the age of 2, both still in diapers, sleep deprived, and pretty sure God had made a mistake.  After all, how would He let 2 children be completely reliant on a very flawed woman like you?!  I see you, with the toddlers in tow at the grocery store, one throwing a fit and one touching everything in sight. I remember you momma, the times you sat and cried because you didn't know if you were disciplining right or teaching them right.  I see you sitting at the kitchen table after going over the same math problem for the 50th time and questioning, "should I really be homeschooling?", "surely someone else could do a better job.".  I remember your thoughts, your anxious thoughts, of were you enough for these children that God had given you, could you love them enough, teach them enough, prepare them enough.   And mommy, I remember your prayers, prayers of utter dependency, of knowing, if God didn't come through you were sunk in this whole mommy thing.  He did come through!  And, in the process you learned that coming to the end of yourself and clinging to Him was best for you.  This is a process that you are still learning, and probably will until you draw your last breath.  But, it is with the material that we call children, that He sinks that life giving reality down deep.  The constant caring, disciplining, holding close, and learning to release, teaches us something about this divine relationship of Father and child, that keeps us ever in the position of needy and learner.

We live in a time where there is more information on how to raise children than ever before.  There is an abundance of materials, books, websites, magazines, and what about the mommy blogs out there!?  And for all of the information, I'm not sure it serves you well mommy.  When we see in Titus 2, Paul admonishing that the older women were to teach the younger women to love their children, it was to be within community.  Things about husbands and children are spoken about within the confines of relationship, face to face, life on life, community.  We as a culture have become so accustomed to googling whatever we need we don't even know how to go ask another woman how to cure diaper rash, discipline a toddler or a teenager, or talk to our children about God, sin, sex, and or countless other life talks.  Why?  Are we so used to an instant fix?  There is no instant fix with children; it is day after day, year after year.  Are we too proud?  So afraid that someone might think we don't have it all together, how far will that get you? And, what will happen to your children in the mean time?  When I was raising our two, we had the bible, our parents and grandparents, a few faithful friends in the same place we were and wanting to do it God's way, a few families we saw that had somehow survived and their kids were grown and loved Jesus, and James Dobson.  Which I was pretty sure his book, Strong Willed Child, was written just for me, my copy was falling apart and was almost completely highlighted...every word!  You know what?  I think we had enough.  With all the information out there today it breeds insecurity and comparison at a time that you are certain you don't know what you are doing anyway!  God gave you your children, so I have to believe He will give you what you need to raise them.  But, once again, the culture is screaming at you, telling you everything IT believes you need to know and do to raise your children. On top of that, all of these so called, "words of wisdom" come from a culture that at its core doesn't value children.

The culture says; Children are expendable...
This is evident with 153 million orphans in the world, over 700,000 abortions each year in the U.S., and 397,122 in foster care just here in the states.  Children are often viewed as not important, and an inconvenience.  I am bothered by some of the mommy blogs that I read, even those that pride themselves on being Christian in content, that speak as if they will be able to go on to more important and greater self fulfillment when their children are grown or out of the house.  Our culture tells us how to discipline our children or not to discipline our children. It tells us how to allow our children to have full expression, and not be stifled in any way.  If our children are not expendable, then we need to get our identity or a sense of validation from them and their achievements.  Our culture tells us as parents that we must make sports a god in our kid's life.  There is always pressure to be busy every night of the week with a sport, a music lesson, and or some other extra curricular activity.  And, if your family doesn't look like that, then you are not offering your children everything they need.  Clearly, they will be stunted somehow!  More loud voices say to us, buy your children everything they want, your a bad parent if your child doesn't have the latest tech gadget,  aren't allowed to own every video game, and spend as much time as possible playing them.  

God says; Children Are a Gift...
"Children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth." (Psalm 127: 3-4)  Psalm 127 begins with, "unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it."  God desires to build our homes and to give us what is needed to raise the little gifts He has given us.  The first perception buster in this psalm, compared to what the voices of our culture are speaking, is that our children are gifts.  How do you view the children God has given you?  Now, speaking from personal experience, I didn't view my children as little presents with big red bows on their heads everyday of life!  What the psalmist is teaching is a theological principle, that it is God who gives you children, so we are to view them as coming directly from His hand to ours.  He then refers to our children as arrows.  A warrior in that time would have fashioned his own arrows to go into battle.  He would have spent many hours preparing them, making sure there were no nicks in the shaft so they would fly straight, securing and sharpening the point of the arrow so that it would penetrate the target.  A warrior would not be caught with arrows that could not protect, defend, and fulfill the purpose for which they were given.  In this we see the years we have our children in our homes.  We as warriors, under the watchful eye and guidance of God Himself, are to fashion our arrows.  We spend countless hours straightening the shaft and making sure it is free from nicks and things that would cause it to not fly straight.  In doing this, we lead our children to God, and participate with Him, by showing our children their sin and the only answer to that sin is Jesus.  Because, one day, you will shoot your arrows from your home and you want, or should want, them to be of some effectiveness for Christ in this world.  We want them to be able to pierce through the culture on their own and stand firmly for God.  How do we do this?  God's word is instructive, “Teach my words to your children, talking about them when you sit in your house, and when you walk along the road, and when you lie down, and when you rise up." (Duet. 11:19) We are to talk about God, even when they are tiny and don't fully understand, we talk about Him all the time and everywhere we go.  We can be teaching our children theology even as toddlers!  When you see a bird or a pretty flower and you point it out to them, then you ask them who made the bird?  God did!  Who made you?  God did!  They learn God is Creator and He even made them.  Theology! God tells us how children are to respond to parents and how parents are not to respond to their children. "Children obey your parents... Father's don't provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."  (Eph. 6:1-4) Ultimately we want our children to learn to obey God.  Children will not learn to obey God if they can't obey their parents, nor will they learn to obey God if mom and dad don't obey God.  How do we discipline?  "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him" (Prov. 22:15) this is wading into some deep waters in our culture today!  To spank or not to spank, that is the question!  I really think the question is; do we know what biblical discipline is?  Whether it is a spanking, taking away something precious, or time out, if any of these methods are used to punish our children and somehow hope for right behavior, we don't have a biblical understanding of discipline.  Discipline means to teach and to give understanding. There might be a sting at first, but the goal is to teach and get to the heart of issue of what is going on. Our children need to see us modeling what we are trying to teach.  "Effective teaching involves explaining to our children what they are already observing in our lives by example." C.J. Mahaney. How does God deal with us?  What is He after in us, good behavior?  No! God is after a pure heart, a heart that is His, and desires to follow.  So should our "discipline" be with our children.  "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life."  Good behavior isn't the goal; a pure heart is the goal.  I don't know about you?  But, God isn't through with me yet!  He patiently parents me day after day.   

Hey exhausted mommy, you're doing a good work, you're doing the most important work!  Stop comparing yourself, and stop worrying that you are going to mess them up!  If reading mommy blogs, books, and magazine causes you to just feel like you're a failure, because you look at all "so and so" is doing with her kids, stop reading them!  After all, do you even know if what you are reading is true? Real life looks a little chaotic at times, sometimes there's a load of laundry that needs to be folded on the couch, and dirty dishes in the sink, and a child that is 
disobedient, and....the list goes on. Let's get real! Call an older woman!  An older woman can be someone just a little further down the road than you or she can be that woman who has already raised her children. I remember crying on the telephone one day to an older woman, (my mom) about how hard my strong willed child was being, how I felt like all I did from sun up to sun down was discipline, and how everything seemed to have come to a stand still in my home, or should I say a "stand-off".  She said these words, "God could have given them to any mommy, but He chose you, I guess that was His confidence that you would, with His help raise them to love Him. And sweet daughter nothing, not laundry, not meals, nothing, is more important than the two little lives He has entrusted to you."  Wise words and just the words I needed to close the chapter on that day and get up and do it all over again, with purpose.  I know you are tired, I know there are days you want to throw in the towel, and I know there are days you cry and worry. I know because I lived them too.  "Don't lose heart in doing what is good, for in due time you will reap if you do not grow weary." Galatians 6:9

Still learning to abide, and cheering you on!!
Kim

P.S. some excellent resources in your pursuit of God's ways in parenting and leading your children.
Leading Little Ones To God
Jesus Storybook Bible/curriculum 
Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick
Shepherding Your Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson
How To Really Love Your Child by Ross Campbell


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Women of God #3

"Drop 1 Whole Size In A Week"
"Look Great Naked"
"Bikini Ready In 7 Days"
"How To Get The Best Of Everything"
"Slim Sexy Body"
"The 10 Must Haves In Your Closet"
"Don't Like It? Change It! Best Plastic Surgery Tips"
"Discover The New Skinny Pill"
"Get Your Dream Body"
"How To Dress To Catch His Eye"

These are just a few of the magazine covers that I have seen on line and at the check out stand.  I now feel like I should be eating paleo, or maybe Atkins, wait...maybe I should eat meat, or was it eat no meat?  I'm certain I should spend all of my non-working time running, doing palates, yoga, and or cross-fit.  If those don't work then I can lose 21 pounds eating soup, and if that doesn't work I can lose 42 pounds drinking coffee! ( if you know me, I might really look into that last one!) Because, after all, it is all of our goals to be skinny and wear a bikini, right? If none of this works then I can have Oprah tell me how to have less stress and more joy in my life!

These messages scream at us!  They scream from the magazine covers, from the TV screen, and from the computer screen.  They scream so loudly, it is impossible for us NOT to hear their words.  After hearing them over and over they become apart of our daily existence, and then we let them in, to become how we think and or how we define ourselves.  Please hear me, I'm not against exercise, or eating right, and or wanting to dress nice.  I'm not asking you to stop exercising, or to wear a bag for a dress, or take off your makeup! My concern lies in that we as God's women often look to the culture instead of God's word to define and tell us how to live our lives. That's why I'm asking women to examine every part of our lives and bring it under the authority of God and what He has to say.

Francis Schaeffer is quoted as saying; "the spirit of the age seeps into the church."
A true statement. He was saying whatever is relevant, popular, and the hottest new thing  in our culture somehow seeps, becomes a part of,  what we believe and how we respond.  This is true in our individual lives and it is true in our churches as well.  To be women of God, we must know what God says, then confront our culture with the truth, by the way we live our lives.  Again, as I have said in the two previous posts, this is not popular!  This kind of living will go against even our church culture in some settings, it is not politically correct, and it will cost us to live according to God's word instead of our cultural norms. As God's women we must know what God says about beauty and our bodies.

Our culture says; Strive for external beauty.  Spend your money, time, and energy getting the body and look you want. Make sure you look like the image on the magazine.  If you don't like a part of your body, change it, then show it off!  Your body belongs to you, so flaunt it.  Make sure that you wear clothes that are tight enough to accentuate every curve and show off every part that you want others to notice.  In attaining external beauty you will attain acceptance and a sense of well being.  You will get noticed and receive the attention that you desire and deserve.

Our God says;  "Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty  of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God." (1 Peter 3:3-4)
Dear sister, be more concerned about internal beauty than outward beauty.  A woman who possess a gentle and quiet spirit is a woman who has an inward character that is calm, because she knows Sovereign God, and knows she is not in control, He is.  A woman who processes a gentle and quiet spirit has a contented mind and a heart that is free from one who LIVES FOR or MUST HAVE outward acceptance. There is a gentleness about her because she has no need to push to get her way.
"Don't you realize that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, you are not your own."( 1 Corinthians 6:19)  "We are the temple of the living God".( 2 Corinthians 6:16)  Clearly, scripture tells us that our bodies don't belong to us.  We are stewards of them and should care for them in honor of the One that they belong to, God. For those of us who are married, our bodies belong to God and to our husbands.  "The wife does not have authority over her body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. "  (1 Corinthians 7:4)  This scripture speaks to how in a God-centered marriage we give our bodies to one another. When a man can see a woman's breast and those breast do not belong to him,  that woman is granting access to parts of her body that don't belong to any other man but her husband.  It's not about the act of covering up or conforming ourselves to an expectation that is placed on us.  It is about a heart issue.  We must all ask ourselves the question, why do I dress the way I do? It's about modesty.  Modesty, I'm not sure when the word dropped out of our vocabulary.  To speak on modesty today seems to fly in the face of many women who believe it infringes on their ownership and independence of their own body.  Modesty, is the quality of being free from vanity or boastful behavior, it is having a high regard for decency in behavior, speech, and dress, it is the practice of simplicity and moderation. Somewhere we have equated modesty with being old fashioned.  It's not old fashioned, it's godly.

I remember growing up my mom would say things like, "Kimberly, act like a lady" or "be lady like". She would then go on to instruct me to what that meant.  Like, keeping your legs together or not letting your panties show as a little girl. I fear, if we asked a little girl to be lady like; One, they wouldn't know what that meant, and Two, they would be offended!  I also remember being a grown woman with two little babies and an older woman telling me how she went to her closet each morning and asked, "Lord, what should I put on today?"  I was blown away at the time, but what it impressed on me was that God cared about every detail of my life, even what I wore, because the WHOLE of my life was to bring Him glory. (He loves you and He cares about every detail of your life too!)

Through the years, I have had some darling young women come through my doors that have admittedly said, that their moms didn't teach them.  This has resulted in many joyful memories of showing how to mop a floor, clean a toilet, set a table, (hopefully not in that order!) plan a menu, and or cook a meal. Because, "the spirit of the age seeps into the church", we have not had enough older women speaking into younger women's lives about these very real life issues.  As a result, the culture has informed women about men, marriage, sex, children, home, work, beauty, and their bodies.

God made us women.  We bring to the world something that men do not or He would of made us all the same.  In the words of one of my hero's Elisabeth Elliot, "Let me be a woman".  Let us be women, learning to live in the design of Designer God and not to spite the design or the God who made us.  Oh sweet sister He has redeemed you and called you His, you are much more than what the culture wants you to believe!
What have you allowed to inform you about beauty and your body?
 What are you running after?

Still learning to abide,
Kim


Monday, July 27, 2015

Women of God #2

In the past couple of months some amazing women of God have breathed their last breaths on this earthly plain and have woke up in their heavenly home, face to face with their Reward and Lover of their souls!  These women were for me some of the "older women", women who lived their lives as His, loved His word, and were bold in their speaking, teaching, and modeling of God's word to those around them.  They were women who God used to deposit truth into my life.  They took the command for older women to teach the younger women seriously and although they could exegete any passage of scripture, teach, and or write on any theological subject, they never diverted from being a woman of God and the need to teach other women to be women of God.  "3 Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers.[a] Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes,[b] to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God." Titus 2:3-5

Since the fall in the garden of Eden, women have desired to answer the question, Who am I? When God created us, He created us male and female, both made in the image of God.  We were created equal in dignity and  essence, and given different roles to function in. Through these roles male and female would reflect and respond to God and to those around them. When sin entered into the human condition, it broke everything, it broke man, it broke woman, it broke how we related to God, and it broke how we responded to one another.  At that point, life for man and woman became self-oriented instead of God-oriented.  Sin also caused a rebellion against God the Designer and the very design He desired for us to live in. His design being that of, a man being a man, a woman being a woman, both under the authority of God, and functioning in their God-designed roles for the purpose of reflecting and responding to and for God. Ultimately, to bring God glory and to tell His story of relationship and redemption to a watching world.   We still live in the consequences of that original sin, and that is evident in our culture today.  Men and women are still rebelling against Designer God.  Looking for fulfillment in their own identity, or being able to define their role for themselves.  This should not be the status of those of us who call ourselves followers of God. Our lives have been redeemed.  God, Himself lives in us, to overcome our weaknesses with His strength, and to live His life and design through us. The question for us should be not, who am I, but Whose am I?  Even in Christian circles and our church culture we still want to find our identity in what we do, in our abilities, in our titles, or in us being superior than someone else.  This causes us to always desire significance and power outside of God and His design.

To know what it means to be a woman we must look to the One who made us, to the One who designed us, and seek to live in His design. This is what brings Him glory.  For my single girlfriends, there is a beauty in singleness. Those of you who approach each day as God as your husband and apply the truths of scripture in how you live your lives. This beauty causes the watching world to take notice to your God-oriented and gospel centered lives..  For those of us who are married to a man of earth, to be a woman of God's design we must look to His word and not to our culture to tell us how to live. The truth we find goes against what our culture tells us.  Culture has dictated and spoke so loudly for so long, that even those of us who desire to follow find ourselves squirming at some of the words we find.  We want to regulate them to no longer relevant, or culture sensitive to the time they were written, and or think there are more important things of scripture for us to concentrate on.  To be faithful to the word of God, and to those amazing women who have passed on the baton of the older women teaching the younger women, there are some God-designs for us as married women that we must know.

1. A married woman of God is to be a well suited helper. (Genesis 2:18, 20)
The very first description we see in scripture for a married woman is that of a helper.  In our cultural context we think of the role of a helper to be subservient, but the same word of help or helper is used to describe God! (psalm 10:14, 28:7, 54:3-4, 72:12, 86:17, John 14:26, Hebrews 13:6)  so it can't mean a lesser role to play! It carries the meaning of being on the same team, having an essential part to play. Man or woman alone could not accomplish what God intended, both genders are necessary to fill the earth with God's image.  The opposite of helper is competitor.  A competitor is always striving or fighting to win something for themselves.  One who exposes gaps and exploits them to gain the upper hand and go for the win.  A woman who is not willing to live in her God-given design of helper will tear her house down with her own hands.  Because it will always be a competition between her and her husband.

2. A married woman of God is to be submissive to her own husband. (1 Peter 3:1-7, Ephesians 5:21-33, Colossians 3:18-19)
The word submission to many is a dirty word!  Many in the church have regulated the word submission to a "woman's word" in scripture, which is a distortion.  Submission is a biblical word.  The thought of submitting to anyone is repulsive in this self-oriented culture.   Yet, Christ submitted to God, we are to submit to God, and we are to submit to one another.  Submission in scripture is a picture of humility and beauty.  We are uncomfortable with the word because we don't have a biblical understanding of it.  Glad submission in scripture is a response to loving authority.  Authority that has been God-given and used of God to bring order and a picture of relationship.  We also have a distorted understanding of authority, thinking that authority is given to one to be domineering, in charge, and wielding HIS own wants and desires.  Loving authority is submitted as well, to God and God's desires and wants. For years I have heard much teaching to women on glad submission but have heard very little teaching on loving authority to men.  My prayer is that we would as men and women of God, know God's ways and God's word, and with His help and power seek to live it.  Ephesians 5 is not a marriage passage, it is a church passage!  Paul is wanting a God-centered marriage that possesses loving authority and glad submission to paint the picture of what relationship is to look like and what Christ and the church is to look like to the world!  What picture are we portraying?

3. A married woman of God is to be an overseer of her home. (Titus 2: 3-5)
So much in these three verses I have already talked about, but clearly the mandate for us as women is to watch and care for our homes.  If we grapple with these verses it is usually because we value something more over our home.  Possibly work or even ministry can take a more important place for us.  Our homes are to be valued by us as women of God, they are the most powerful sphere of influence we have.  We should view this responsibility as a high honor.  When our family life reveals that we value outward success more than our families, we discredit what the Bible says.  For my own daughters and all of the young women in my life, you are doing the most important thing there is to do as a woman, when you are about creating a home that reflects God and by raising your littles to know and love God.  So many women speak and act like they are just biding their time with their children until they can get out and do something really important with their lives, or even more disheartening is when they speak as if they will be able to do something great for God once they get pass these days of diapers, meal preparation, and or school. Our homes are places that can be refuges that reflect God our Refuge.  Our homes are places that can be peaceful that reflect the Prince of Peace.  Or, our homes can be places of disorder and chaos that reflect our culture.  This has nothing to do with the amount of money you make or how many things you have, this has everything to do with the woman of God who is overseeing her home.

4.  A married woman of God is a competent woman. (Proverbs 31)
This entire proverb is a celebration of a woman who belongs to God.  It is not one day in the life of this woman but the commentary of her life.  This scripture values women and celebrates a woman's competence.  She is a hard worker, she makes wise business decisions, she is strong, she is generous, she anticipates the future, she makes those around her better, she is brave, she is wise, she is more than a pretty face, God expects those that know her, will praise her for all that He has equipped her to do.  Never let someone tell you that God's ways or His word devalues women!  And, please do not think that women in scripture are subservient wimps!  I am drawn to the prophet Deborah who as described in scripture was a wife, a prophet, and willingly went to battle.

God desires for us as women is to have our confidence sunk in Him and to live out His design.  The cultural pressures are great.  They want to conform us.  For us to live as God's women we will have to stand up against our culture and even the church culture in some settings.  It's not popular, it's not the newest and hottest topic, but it IS God's word.  I wish I could tell you that I have done this perfectly for 32 years of marriage, but I can't.  I am a flawed and sinful woman that, just like you, needs God's grace everyday to live and practice His truth and live in His design.  I also know that there are many of you that are struggling in your marriage and the words that you have read are hard.   I have sat across a table from many of you or read your emails.  For many, there are deep and hurtful issues in marriages that will not change with a change of behavior or you doing a list of things. Whole books have been written on the scriptural mandates that are briefly listed above and there are many women who are teaching them and holding them high, for that I am thankful. My desire for those of  you reading and for the community of young women I live in, is that we as women of God will take in the whole counsel of God, not just the parts we like, or the parts that are not controversial. Study for ourselves and lay our lives down on God's truth instead of  what  our culture is so loudly speaking to us as women.
Whose are you?
Who designed you?
Who gets to tell you how to live?

Still learning to abide,
Kim
kimday1964@gmail.com

Monday, July 20, 2015

Women of God #1

Let's BE women of God!  Let's be women who, though walking through this world of blurred lines and lessening absolutes, actually stand for God.  Women who look to God and His word to define us and tell us how to live instead of allowing our culture to tell us. Women who are women of theology and biblical principle. Then let us confront our lives and our culture with our theology and principles.  It is time for us to stop confusing passivity for a gentle and quiet spirit. It's time for us who call ourselves women of God to be just that, of God;  One who is attached to, coming from, receiving our source from Him, and Him alone.  It is my belief that many women in the church are teachable and truly desire to be of God and to follow.  Unfortunately, the church at large has in many aspects conformed to the culture around it.  There isn't enough honest conversation and discipleship on how to apply biblical principles and live in the culture without it conforming us to it. Women are then left to do what they think is best in their own eyes, or model what they see in women around them.  My fear is that the culture is forming women in our churches today more than the word of God.

I believe it is time for us as women of God to bring everything under the submission of God and His word.  What am I talking about?  I'm talking about everything; our lives, our time, our marriages, our singleness, our families, our homes, our dress, our talk, our churches, our communities, and how we reach out to those around us.  EVERYTHING!  It will be costly.  I'm not sure where we began believing that following Jesus would not cost us anything.  If we are going to live counter culturally it will cost us much.  It might cost you relationships, or promotions, or the connection to that group that you think is so hip.  For sure it will cost you of your time and convenience. What is your relationship with Jesus costing you?  What are we willing to count as loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ? (Philippians 3:7-12)  These are valid questions for those of us who call ourselves followers.

While so much of the church is screaming about the moral decline in our country, and to be sure it is shocking where we find ourselves as a society.  Sexual perversion, abortion, and the devaluing of God-breathed human life through murder and addictions, permeate the moral fiber of the human condition.  Yet, I believe that condition has been true of us as humans since sin entered in and broke everything.  God has always been about rescuing and redeeming a people for Himself to show that there is another way.  His way.  I do believe we are to stand up and speak up for what God says is right and for those that have no voice of their own.  But, I do not believe our culture will reflect God, until the people of God reflect Him.  His plan has always been His people, His church.

"You will be to Me a kingdom of priest and a holy nation.  You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God.  You are a chosen generation a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  You will be named the priests of the Lord they will call you the servants of our God.  Priests of God and of Christ.  Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus.  By Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God,that is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. The temple of God is holy, which temple you are. "
(Ex.19:6,Rev.5:9-10,1 Pet 2:9,Isa.61:6,Rev.20:6,Heb.3:1,Heb.13:15,Eph2:10,1Cor.3:17)
From Exodus to Revelation, His plan reveals that He has been calling a people out to be His,to be set apart for Him, to show Him, and His story to the world.

It begs the question, are we?  Are we living as His?  Is our following reflected in everything from our time, to our families, to our churches, and those around us?

I'm urging women, by the mercies of God, to present our bodies as living and holy sacrifices, acceptable to God which is  our spiritual service of worship.  I'm calling on us as women to not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds, that we may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect! (Romans 12:1-2)

Living counter culturally must start by us saying yes, and presenting ourselves to surrender to God's ways instead of our own, or what our culture says, or even our church culture says is acceptable.  It is what God says is good and acceptable and perfect that we are after.  Then we MUST  renew our minds.  That only comes through the study of God's word.  Please do not hear condemnation in my words, I'm a woman, I have raised littles, and I have had many plates spinning at the same time and questioned where I was going to fit in time to study! But as gently as I can, I want to say I understand, but I must also say this is not an option.  We don't get on to being women of God any other way except through renewing our minds. The consuming of God's word is not reading a devotional or what others have said about a particular verse.  This time is marked by consuming the word of God, looking into it like a mirror, looking up words that you don't understand, looking at other scripture with the same thought, and then knowing how to apply what you are studying.  We will never be able to be women of the word and possess the ability to confront our lives and our culture with theology if we don't know Him and His word more and more.  If I could encourage you with anything it would be to ask God to give you a love and hunger for His word.  Ask for help.  If you lack understanding on how to study ask someone who you know studies God's word to help you.  I would love to send you tools and resources to aid you in the study of God's word! (Just ask!)

One more thing I want to ask you to pray.  Would you ask God to show you how much He loves you and would you ask Him to show you how to love Him more?  You see we can do many things out of obligation and because we think it's the "Christian" thing to do, but that's not what our Father is after.  He has loved us with an everlasting love, drawn us into a relationship with Himself through the completed work of Jesus, and called us His. (Isaiah 43:1)  He wants us to learn to live in that love relationship.  "Any obedience that isn't motivated by His great love is nothing more than penance." Elyse Fitzpatrick (in Because He Loves Me)

One of the most used women theologians in my life came in a little 4'10" package, riddled with arthritis, and always dressed to the nines. She never taught a bible class, or led a retreat, or wrote a blog, or a book.   Her name was Miss Naomi and she was in her late 80's when her life intersected with mine. Miss Naomi came faithfully to a small group that my shepherd husband led when we were so very young and "wet behind the ears". I am convinced she came to love and encourage us in our following of Jesus.  Every week when it was time to pray, she would take her arthritic body and bring it to her knees in front of her chair, when it was her turn to pray she would utter two simple sentences, "Lord Jesus, let me know you more today than I did yesterday . And, oh Lord show me how to love you more." That's it!  She knew Him, she studied His book, and she faced her life and her culture with what she knew to be truth.

Stand up women of God and let's let the word of God form us, instead of letting our culture conform us.

I'm walking this out just like you.

Still learning to abide,
Kim
kimday1964@gmail.com

P.S.  Through the years that I have been teaching bible study, I have always seen those women that it doesn't seem to stick with them.  There is some kind of disconnect.  The quote from Elyse Fitzpatrick above I believe addresses the disconnect.  The word of God is not being approached out of love but duty.  If you have never read any of Elyse's books I encourage you to do so, she is one of my favorites!  I have also linked a link to an article written by Jen Wilkins that also addresses the disconnect in approaching the word of God and why it doesn't transform us.  It resonates with my soul, I pray it does with yours as well!
http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/why-bible-study-doesnt-transform-us
Jen Wilkins has many free bible studies on line and has written a new book called, Women of the Word.  It's on my reading list for this fall! Email me if you would like some tools and resources to study God's word.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Forgiveness

You don't have to have lived many years to know hurt.  It comes in a multitude of packages.
From little hurts, like an unkind word spoken, or the friend that won't return your phone call for some unknown reason. Even though little, they still scrape us and we need to give them attention so that they don't become infected.  Much like a child's scraped knee, we can clean them, put a little ointment on them, and be on our way.  Then there are those other hurts, the hurts that inflict wounds. They are not surface scrapes that can be dealt with in a matter of moments.  These wounds leave holes in us, sometimes deep into our souls. Betrayal, abuse, manipulation, violation, loss, lost trust, and lies leave gaping holes.  Even if we receive healing and become healthy again we are never the same. Yet, in God's economy, He somehow takes these wounds, these things that seem ruined, and makes something beautiful out of them.  When forgiveness can flow through the ruin and the beauty He reveals Himself.

Forgiveness is a beautiful word when we are thinking about Christ and His forgiveness of our sins.  It becomes a very hard word when we are in the position of needing to forgive someone's sin against us. We assume that if we forgive our offenders they will be not be held responsible for their actions and we will be the only one suffering.  Or we think if we forgive them that means that we will have to go back to the relationship the way it was.  Both are not true statements.  God is the one who gets to hold people accountable for their actions....NOT ME!  He makes that clear in His word.  Although God asks us to forgive others as He has forgiven us, He never told us to keep trusting someone who has violated us or to keep pretending like nothing happened.

Forgiveness is an action.  Ephesians 4:32 says; " be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."  If we were practicing the first part of this verse, the "being kind and tender-hearted" part, we probably would never get to the having to forgive part.  Forgiveness towards those that have scraped us or wounded us is not a option.  It is a command and a choice of obedience.  Based upon one glorious truth, I have been forgiven.  There is no way to measure the forgiveness of my Lord towards my life, it is limitless, and free flowing.  So should mine be....

Forgiveness is a process.  He asks me to make the choice, take the action, and forgive.  Because He knows that I am but flesh and blood, He then walks me through the process.    As I recognize the hurt, I must consciously release it to His hands of love and justice.  I know this is a process and not an event because it must happen over and over.  In the process He teaches me how to more fully abide in Him and not in the hurt.  As abiding takes place His life produces the fruit which is that beauty from ashes thing that only He can do.

Forgiveness is a practice.  It is how we are to treat one another.   Forgiveness is like so many other qualities that God desires to press into our lives, like humility and patience,  but these qualities don't just somehow appear.  As we participate with the Spirit, He gives us His ability to see and respond.  I don't have the ability to forgive, but because He is the Forgiver, and living in me, He gives everything that is needed for me to extend forgiveness to someone.  Then, I must walk in it... Practice it.

Oh it's hard!  I want justice.  I want validation, I want someone to recognize and be sorry for the hurt.  I want someone else to hurt.  But each time that my fingers are peeled away from the hurt that I'm desperately trying to hang on to, (because I have found some kind of identification with the wound) and I place it in the hand of the only One who can do anything about it, "IT",the offense, the person, the wound, the hurt with all of it's oozing poison releases it's grip on me.  It's in running the thing to Him and entrusting it to His hand that I find freedom and know Him more.

And... In some way that my human mind or limited vocabulary can not express or understand...
It. Is. Worth. It.  I didn't say that on day one or two, or possibly day 456! But it did come. Because he came, He came right into the middle of  the yuck, the putrid, and oozing thing!  Have you asked Him in friend?  Or, are you trying to pretend? Or, trying to keep everything all together? Thinking that if you ignore the wound it will somehow heal on it's own?  It won't...  He knows about it, and He sees you and "IT", and He is waiting for you to be ready to release it to Him. Ruin only turns to beauty when He has a hold of it and forgiveness flows through it.

 When I was a young woman with 2 little babies, a very wise and older woman said these words to me and a room of young women and they have stuck to my soul, "whatever gets you to Jesus will be worth it".  She was right.  Loss, trial, relationships, hurt, and wounds get me to Jesus, and it has been worth it.

Still learning to abide,

Kim
Ephesians 4:1-3, 4:32 and Colossians 3:12-13