Biblical knowledge

“Why can’t I?” is the wrong question

The tendency of the modern church is to define our Christianity by our culture rather than our culture by our Christianity. When we do, our role as the children of God becomes unfruitful. Seeking to fit into the world around us and to enjoy as much of it as possible becomes our driving force. It is then we ask, “Why can’t I?” and “Did God really say?” These exact same questions were asked in the Garden of Eden. The solution is to get back to the Cross. When the Cross is the focal point of our lives and our theology we then see the cost of our questions. “Why can’t I?” put Jesus on the Cross.

We look for ways around what God has said. Unhappy about restrictions on our “freedom in Christ” or possible reductions of our “Christian liberty” we avoid “thus saith the Lord” like the plague. “God didn’t really mean that” answers many an argument–not well but often. “Paul was a chauvinistic pig” answers many others. “But that was cultural…or for the first century only…or, it was a Jewish custom” fills in the cracks.

We try to get away with so much. So often we seek to walk as close to the cliff of the world as possible rather than walking in security next to the mountain of God. Rather than asking, “Does this bring glory to the Lord?” we ask “What is allowable? How far can I go?” The one marks us as interested only in pleasing the Lord; the other marks us only interested in pleasing ourselves.

When we let our culture interpret our Christianity, we get a me-centered philosophy driven by our humanistic tendencies. God isn’t what matters to us at that point–we are. We claim to be serving Him but our lives belie that. Unless we are becoming more and more holy with the sweet aroma of Christ-likeness permeating all that we do then the opposite is true–our lives are becoming more and more worldly with the accompanying stink to prove it.

David, a man after God’s own heart, was praised by God not because of his reign as Israel’s greatest King but because of his deep sensitivity to sin. True he, like all of us, sinned. His sins were sometimes humiliatingly spectacular but truer still was his heart. When he sinned, and was convicted of it, his heart was broken.

These things ought to be evident in our lives as Christians. Too often we look at David’s failures and stop there. The conclusion we draw is that God loved him despite his failures. We fail to see that God hated his failures and disciplined him severely for them. God loved him for his heart that sought to slay his sin, that deeply loved the Word of God and the God of the Word, and that sought the Lord’s glory rather than his own.

The questions the church ought to be asking are not “Why can’t I?” and “Did God really say?” but “Does this glorify my Lord?” “Am I reminding anyone of Jesus in what I say and what I do?” We must stop trying to blend into a culture that hates the One we propose to follow. The world won’t like us one whit more for being a religious version of themselves. They will see through it and mark us as the hypocrites that we are. Cultural Christianity isn’t Christian and everyone but Christians seems to know it. At its core it is about man rather than about God. When we seek God’s way, we will be hated by the world but loved and accepted by the Lord. When we seek our way above God’s, devastating failure isn’t far behind.

The questions that the church have been asking have got to change. Rather than asking “Why can’t I?” and “Did God really say?” let’s ask “Does God’s Word address it?” “Is it befitting people of the Lord?” “Who does this glorify–the Lord? or me?” When we get our questions right, our theology will be right.

 

Photo by John-Mark Smith from Pexels

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Blessings

Luxuries

The smell of wood smoke hanging in an autumn sky…

the laughter of a very young child…

the smell of honeysuckles wafting on the breeze…

a long soaking bath at the end of the day…

a tiny flower offered as a love-gift by an equally tiny child…

the warmth of a fragrant cup of tea…

the taste of fresh-brewed coffee served up with cream…

luxuries…

every one of these.

Some people spend their lives chasing fortune and fame,

some are caught up in status, money, things…

by chasing the wrong things, they are missing the best things.

Luxuries aren’t only for those rich enough to afford Egyptian sheets and real Belgian chocolate.

Luxuries are right here before our eyes, right here at home, every single day of our lives,

if we’ll only open our eyes to see them.

No perfume ever equaled the smell of flowers wafting on the breeze in a soft summer night.

No symphony ever sounded as beautiful as the sound of a child’s laughter.

No five star restaurant ever served a meal that tasted better than your own freshly baked bread.

If we are living our lives wishing we had more luxuries,

we need to re-evaluate what we define as a luxury.

God has blessed us with so much more than we actually have need of.

Anything that isn’t just a simple food, a simple outfit, a simple shelter,

anything that isn’t just a daily necessity…

(and daily necessities are much, much fewer than most of us realize)

anything else,

anything at all…

is a luxury.

Marriage

Choosing a mate wisely

Dear Unmarried Sister,

Perhaps you dream of marriage, of the joining of hearts and souls as you and your beloved become one; most young ladies do. Before you choose the one you will marry, the one you will give yourself to, the one you will submit to, I beg you to study what the Word of God has to say about marriage and proceed prayerfully. A marriage made up of two people who love the Lord with all of their heart, soul, strength, and mind is as near to heaven on earth as it is possible to come. A marriage made up of one of God’s children and a child of the devil is a pain nearly unequaled in its intensity.

A child of the devil? some of you might say, You don’t know my Peter.

No, I don’t. But I don’t have to know your Peter (or your Dave, or Brian, or Kevin) to warn you: if he isn’t a child of God, he is a child of the devil. There are no other options, no in-betweens. The Lord says that if we aren’t for Him, we’re against Him. And if we’re against Him, we’re for His adversary Satan. As one who is against God, a man’s goals, desires, hopes, longings, plans, ways, thoughts, words, and deeds will be different from those of a child of God. They will differ from yours.

If you choose to marry a non-Christian, you will hurt every single day of every single year of your married life. He may be good to you. He may provide well. He may be a really good husband and a wonderful father. But he isn’t saved. Therefore you will hurt as he chooses ways that are contrary to the ways of God. You will ache as you cry out to God for his salvation. No matter how good he is to you or to your children, you will weep as he influences your children in ways that will break your heart. When you lower your standards for the kind of man you are willing to spend time with, you are lowering your standards for the kind of man you wish to one day marry. You are also lowering your standards for the kind of man you wish to have as the father of your children. You cannot afford to forget this.

Let your idea of a what makes a good mate be influenced first and foremost by Scripture. Don’t just look for a cute guy or a popular one. Don’t choose a guy simply because he makes you feel good about yourself, because he makes you laugh, or because he treats you well. Don’t look for a man who is successful or who makes a good living. There is nothing wrong with these things in and of themselves but unless these things are coupled with biblical Christianity, they are worthless. Instead, look for a man who truly loves God. If your man truly loves God Himself, God as He is revealed in Scripture, and not simply his own concept of God, he will most assuredly love you. He will treat you far, far better than a child of the devil ever could. He will treat your children far, far better than you can now even begin to imagine. His goal will be to honor God in the way he treats you and your children. Remember, your choice of a husband will impact your family for generations to come.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you look for a man of God:

  • Does he love Jesus above all? Instead of all? Or does he love money, self, fame, comfort, or anything or anyone else–including you–more than he loves God?
  • Does his life reflect Christ? Is he spiritually mature?
  • Does he devote himself to the study of the Word of God?
  • How is his prayer life?
  • Is he able and willing to be the spiritual head of his family?
  • Does he understand marriage? Does he understand submission and headship? Is his view of marriage biblical?
  • Is he willing to put his wife above his children and his family above his work?
  • Does he know how to relax? Does relaxation take its proper place in relation to faith, family, and work?
  • Does he “need” entertainment to be happy?
  • Is he addicted to anything? Gaming? Cokes? Candy? Food? Fun? Danger? Sleep? Spending? Work?
  • Is he lazy or is he a hard worker? Is he willing to do menial jobs to help bring in money if needed? Is he willing to do humble, menial, jobs for his family or for others simply because they need to be done?
  • Is he prideful? Does he apologize when he’s been in the wrong?
  • Does he protect your purity? Does he push you to compromise? Does he make fun of your standards?
  • Does he encourage you to be modest both inside and out? Is he modest? Are his standards of modesty biblical, legalistic, or liberal?
  • How does he handle money? Does he have debt? If so, why and what?
  • How does he treat the weak, the needy, the hurting, the sick, the aged, the young?
  • How does he treat his family? How does he treat his mother and sisters?
  • How does he treat animals?
  • Does he treat you with kindness even when he is tired or has had a bad day?
  • Does he eschew legalism and liberalism in his theology? Does he understand grace?
  • Does he love the church? Does he enjoy being with God’s people?
  • Does he ache over the lost? Does he look for chances to share the Gospel?
  • Is he industrious and a self-starter?
  • Does he make excuses for his failures? Does he blame others? Does he accept responsibility for himself?
  • Is he easily angered? Is he jealous? Is he self-centered?
  • Is he selfless? Is he a servant to others?
  • Does he want children?
  • Is he a man of integrity? Have you ever caught him in a lie?
  • Does he use porn?
  • Is he looking for a woman who exemplifies Titus 2 and Proverbs 31? Is he worthy of that kind of woman?

Choosing the man you will marry is one of the most important choices you will ever make. Hold out for a man of God and you will choose wisely.

Your sister,

Anna

Family matters · quotes

Making meal time special

Meals can be very small indeed, very inexpensive, short times taken in the midst of a big push of work, but they should be always more than just food. Relaxation, communication and a measure of beauty and pleasure should be part of even the shortest of meal breaks. Of course, you celebrate special occasions — successes of various members of the family, birthdays, good news, answered prayer, happy moments — with special attention to meal preparation and serving. But we should be just as careful to make the meal interesting and appealing when the day is grey and the news is disappointing. Children feel the difference in the home that takes this attitude. Father comes home tired and discouraged after some sort of failure or disappointment to find, not the food he dislikes, nor burned soup and sloppy serving, but a beautifully set table, with his favorite food served artistically . . . with all the air of a special occasion.”

Edith Schaeffer, Hidden Art of Homemaking

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

Prayer · Tatiana's posts

Advice For The Grieving

adult-autumn-beauty-268791.jpgLast December one of my nearest and dearest friends was killed in a car accident. She was only 18. That day I was introduced to something I had only looked at from afar, something that I had heard about, but never in my wildest dreams imagined would ever happen to me. That day I thought that my life would never be the same again and that I could never be happy. That day I was sure that a part of me had died with her. And while I sit here today, still missing her every single day, and still faced with the heartbreaking fact that I will never be able to see or speak to my friend again, I have learned some things. So, having walked this painful road, I wanted to offer advice to the person who is just now going through this terrible, terrible thing–the death of a loved one.

The first thing I want to tell you is that you will feel happy again. You won’t believe this now, but it’s true. And you know what? It’s a good thing to feel. It’s a great thing to feel. And while this may sound like the same advice that everyone gives, your friend would want that. The first time I felt the first glimmer of joy after it happened I felt a pang of guilt. Like I wasn’t allowed to be happy because it was disrespectful to my friend and the only way to honor her would be to be heartbroken at all times. Then I realized something one night when I was sitting back and remembering all the wonderful times we had had together. My friend was one of the funniest, happiest, people on the face of the earth. She had the greatest laugh and could always turn a cloudy day into sunshine and roses. If she was so great and took so much joy out of life and people then why would she want me to live in sadness? Not my friend. I realized that the best way for me to remember her, the best way to honor her life and to never, ever, forget, would be to allow myself to feel the very thing she loved. So, my dear hurting person, when that day of sunshine comes calling, don’t run away from it.

Now, it’s time for me to offer you some advice, just some things that helped me get through those terrible dark, tear-filled days.

Take an entire day, allow yourself to cry, to be angry, to yell, to sit alone, to say nothing at all. Do it all. Do some of it. Do whatever you need. Don’t hold back and don’t feel like you have to be brave for anyone. Then take a long bath, fill it with oils, bubbles, salts, anything you want and relax. The next day its time to push through and start life again. This was the advice my mom gave me and honestly, it’s probably the best advice I was given. While it might sound like I’m being cold and uncaring, this is what saved me from days and days of sitting alone and in tears.

I remember after it happened one of the things that kept replaying in my head was the song “You Raise Me Up’ by Daniel O’Donnell. It helped me to see that God knew what He was doing, He knew that it was her time, He wasn’t being cruel to me or trying to hurt me by taking her away. He was still a good and loving God, who just knew that it was time for her to go Home. So, please, go and find as much music as you like, something that speaks to you and wraps you in a blanket of comfort. It helps.

Talk about it. You might have heard this before, but the more I sat down and talked about our silly hobbit chats, inside jokes, wonderful conversations, how we became friends and all the memories, the better I felt. It really just eased the pain just a little.

You will have times when you just miss them so much you can’t stand it. At those times it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to go through the motions again, to be angry. All of this is normal. I still go through those times and the best thing for it is to let it come and go. You will feel better.

Focus on the fact that this is not a forever goodbye. That one day, when you too go home, you will see your loved one again. There will be no more sadness, no sorrow, only joy. Reminding myself of this constantly helped me through it. I will see her again. It just might be a few years.

And finally, pray. Thank the Lord for the time that you had with your family member or friend. Thank Him for letting you be blessed by their life. And also, ask for His help, His comfort, in your grieving. The Lord understands what it means to grieve. The shortest verse in Scripture is “Jesus wept” and that was in relation to His friend dying.

I hope this helps at least a little.

Until next time.

Before the Cross,

Tatiana

 

 

 

Anna's posts · Biblical knowledge

DOMESTIC ABUSE, COMPLEMENTARIANISM, PATRIARCHAL TEACHINGS AND GOD’S WORD

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I am a homeschooling mom, a conservative Christian, a woman who believes the Bible teaches that the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church. I believe that the Bible teaches that men are to lead our churches. I am also a woman who has been abused by a man who took scriptural teachings and twisted them into lies in an effort to subjugate me. A woman who has often been ignored and even maligned by the church for asking for help and for speaking out about his abuse.

I’m also a woman who has been disparaged for, in the face of domestic abuse, continuing to believe that Scripture teaches that men are to lead our churches and our homes.

Thinking about this, I came up with some questions…

Why, I wonder, doesn’t the church address domestic abuse and confront those who would abuse? What within Scripture makes pastors or elders believe that they shouldn’t?

And why can’t we uphold the truth on this side of the spectrum–domestic abuse is a sin–while also upholding it on that side of the spectrum–God meant what He said about leadership within the home and the church–also?

For instance…

The scriptural truth that God calls men to be the leaders of their homes and of the church shouldn’t devolve into non-scriptural patriarchal teachings that elevate men in ways God never intended. These non-scriptural teachings encourage dominance of men over women and over their families; they also help to set the stage for domestic abuse within some homes while also helping to hide the truth that domestic abuse does exist within some homeschooling families as well as within the church itself.

The truth that God hates abuse and oppression of all kinds–including domestic abuse–shouldn’t just belong to the more liberal-minded churches.

The truth that God allows divorce in cases of domestic abuse, the truth that Malachi 2: 16 has been twisted into saying something that it was never intended to say, shouldn’t just belong to the liberal churches, either.

If we allow that which Scripture does not we are guilty of adding to God’s Word. If we ignore or teach against those things which God allows because it makes us uncomfortable or because we’ve never done it that way, then we are guilty of subtracting from God’s Word. And, if we are silent about any or all of it when we should speak up, we are aligning ourselves with evil.

There is much evil in the world today. There is also much evil masquerading as good right in our own churches. There is only one cure for man’s sinfulness and that is the pure, undiluted, Gospel–the Gospel neither added to nor taken from. There is likewise only one way to address the plague of domestic abuse within our communities and within our own churches and that is also the pure, undiluted, Gospel. When God’s Word in its beautiful completion and entirety is taught, believed and lived out, the power of evil dwindles, shrivels, and dies.

I’m not asking for churches to focus all of their teachings on domestic abuse. I would stand against that in every way. I’m not asking them to set up everything in their churches to focus on abuse victims; to do so would be to make our churches man-centered rather than Christ-centered–something that is innately evil. What I am asking is that our spiritual leaders teach and embrace all of the teachings of Scripture–even the uncomfortable ones–without twisting them to elevate this person or put down that one.

Complementarian teachings are absolutely based in Scripture. Twist those truths into the patriarchal teachings that so many conservative churches now embrace and you have built a breeding place for domestic abuse; ignore them and you are subtracting from Scripture. Take a stand for the sanctity of marriage, teach the truth that marriage is sacred, holy and is meant to be permanent and you are honoring the Lord; twist such teachings into the permanence view of marriage, or ignore the real meaning behind Malachi 2: 16, and you are teaching falsehoods.

Domestic abuse isn’t just your average normal run-of-the-mill type of marital problem. There really aren’t two sides to every single story. When you have two people who won’t get along, who aren’t “in love” with each other anymore, who make each other unhappy or who simply won’t quit arguing, there are two sides–he said, she said–and both are probably, in some way, wrong. In such a case, those involved need to take responsibility for their own actions, stop being selfish, listen, serve one another, and remember and uphold the vow that they made before God. There’s little to no wiggle room in such situations. Such partners probably need counseling, maybe even couples counseling, and they need to decide to love God and each other more than they are loving themselves. However, domestic abuse isn’t the same type of case. In abuse cases, you have one spouse who is trying to control, dominate, wound and destroy the other spouse–there is no room for finding common ground in such an evil environment. If our pastors and elders understand this–while upholding the truth of Scripture in its entirety–then great strides will be made in ministering to abuse victims–and doing so in a way that is Christ-honoring while looking out for the safety of the victims.

Godly womanhood · quotes

Thoughtful thinkings on godly womanhood

“One expression in Titus 2 deserves special notice. It is the word homemakers. The Greek word is oikourgous, which literally means “workers at home.” Oikos is the Greek word for “home,” and ergon means “work, employment.” It suggests that a married woman’s first duty is to her own family, in her own household. Managing her own home should be her primary employment, her first task, her most important job, and her true career.”~John MacArthur

“A woman’s heart should be so close to God that a man should have to chase Him to find her.”~C.S. Lewis

“Marriage and motherhood have their trials and tribulations, but what lifestyle doesn’t? If you look upon your home as a cage, you will find yourself just as imprisoned in an office or a factory. The flight from the home is a flight from self, from responsibility, from the nature of woman, in pursuit of false hopes and fading fantasies. If you complain about servitude to a husband, servitude to a boss will be more intolerable. Everyone in the world has a boss of some kind. It is easier for most women to achieve a harmonious working relationship with a husband than with a foreman, supervisor or office manager.”~ Choosing a Career by Phyllis Schalfly

How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.”~ G.K. Chesterton

“Earth has nothing more tender than a woman’s heart when it is the abode of piety.”~Martin Luther

“(Mothers), our daughters will be products of their theology. Their knowledge – or lack of knowledge – of who God is and what He has done for them will show up in every attitude, action, and relationship. Their worldview will be determined by their belief system. We must teach our daughters that their value and identity lie in the fact that they are image-bearers of the God of glory. This will protect them from seeking significance in the inconsequential shallowness of self-fulfillment, personal happiness, materialism, or others’ approval. Our daughters must know the wondrous truth that their overarching purpose in life is God’s glory.”~Susan Hunt

“The woman who makes a sweet, beautiful home, filling it with love and prayer and purity, is doing something better than anything else her hands could find to do beneath the skies.  A true mother is one of the holiest secrets of home happiness. God sends many beautiful things to this world, many noble gifts; but no blessing is richer than that which He bestows in a mother who has learned love’s lessons well, and has realized something of the meaning of her sacred calling.”~J.R. Miller

 

Photo by Julie Johnson on Unsplash