Whether we realize it or not, most efforts that appear to be merciful are, in fact, anything but merciful; they use the poor for our own gratification to give our people ministry opportunities or some other short-sighted end. Do the people we minister to really need this type of ministry?
Submission has often been perceived as a straightjacket for women; a one-size-fits-all solution for the battle of the sexes within the walls of Christian institutions. We’ve divorced submission from our relationship with God, forgetting to define this relational hierarchy by His character rather than ours. Then we transferred this broken picture onto our conception of God Himself, warping our understanding of who He is and the submission to which He has called us.
With only an hour or so to catch up, a few friends and I were at a table outside waiting for our lunch. A stranger had stumbled up, taken a prolonged stare at the counseling book on our table, said (aloud) to himself, “RICHARD! Here’s your chance,” and pulled out the fourth chair.
My miscarriages matter, but God’s goodness still reigns. And how do those things coincide? That’s really where I set out to understand – how is it that I feel like a walking coffin now but God is still perfect in His goodness. How do those two things work out? And that’s really what I had to figure out in my own heart.
How we use our words on social media verses how we would speak face-to-face doesn’t always match up. Everyday on our newsfeeds we see lobbying for social causes, cyber-bulling, shaming, celebrating and grieving. We hungrily consume information about other people’s lives, freely feeling we have a right to know the details and express our opinions.
I wish I could have been there, but what comfort and joy to know that Jesus was there. He was holding my mother’s hand, reminding her of his faithful promises. He was preparing her heart and giving her spiritual eyes to see her true home. It has brought me peace to be reminded that my mother’s death wasn’t about my inability or failure to comfort or help her, but about His sufficiency and faithfulness to care for her.
Your heart grew sick
seeking your own answers.
But you, O Lord, reign sovereign over
all time; the destiny of all souls
remains held in your hands.
Many of us have been wounded by some of the pitfalls in attempting friendship with the opposite sex. Many can sense that something in the way we handle these relationships is “off,” but maybe we’re not sure exactly what. As Christians, how do we negotiate what is appropriate and inappropriate between men and women in friendship while honoring both purity and family?
While Scripture tells us we do not have to live in miserable shame, I sometimes still want to hide from God. Can you relate? Even when I know He graciously pardons my guilt and covers my shame when I repent of sin and unbelief and believe in what God says is true, I don’t always live cleanly with Him in that mercy. I have a hard time shaking my shame.
This Sunday is Mother’s Day. Mothers are something to be celebrated, no doubt. Among the greatest blessings in my life are the amazing parents with whom God graced me. But Mother’s Day has been a major source of grief for me, flamboyantly flaunting all that I longed for and couldn’t have.
Instead of teaching people to ignore or deny their shame, we should use it for the purpose God intended: to point to Him and our need for Him. We don’t need to sit in shame, but if we truly want to “conquer it,” we must run to the One who covers it with his blood. He is more than able to save and free us from even the darkest pits.
In our increasingly secular culture, ultimate loyalty to self as the greatest commandment really isn’t that surprising. I wonder though if many of us who claim Christ aren’t still deeply committed to our culture’s highest value instead of our God’s. With all our talk of love languages, Buzzfeed quizzes and personality tests, I can’t help but question how much of our belief system is entangled with the lust to express our individuality instead of – or at the expense of – pursuing Christ?
Discontentment isn’t a word reserved just for single people or the poor or those with health issues. Discontentment is a real sin issue for all believers, caused by the lack of belief that God is enough. It can’t be fixed by gifts, relationships, promotions, or any temporary satisfaction.
Underlying my friends’ perspectives is an idea that sorrow and joy are oppositional; as if rather than sorrow and joy, the paradigm should be sorrow versus joy. But the Word of God and the very life of Jesus show this dichotomy to be a false one.
The problem is, these deepest desires of our hearts as parents are not in line with the reality of life God’s Word tells us about . . . that in this fallen world this child will hurt; this child will suffer; this child will eventually die.
“Your marriage is not your own. Stop treating it like it is. You WILL destroy it if you continue to act as if it belongs only to you. Not because you necessarily want to, but you can’t help yourself apart from me. If you aren’t living for Me, you are only living for yourself. At any moment in your given life, if you aren’t living to glorify Me---you are striving for your own glory. Stop. Or you will destroy everything I have given you.”
When Harry Met Sally made the question famous, but it’s been one we’ve been throwing around for at least the last century. Society has changed; the days of men in the field and women in the kitchen are by and large distant memories. Today, men and women are side by side in just about every arena. Men and women do not just meet in order to get married and have babies, but are co-workers and equals in the business world. This has forced men and woman to learn how to interact with one another outside of romantic relationships.
Being a leader in the church has become this “cool” thing to do, because through the far-reaching, self-governed and for the most part, unsupervised platforms of social media, ostensibly anyone (by popular opinion) can now build themselves a platform. I’m afraid however we have forgotten that in the Bible, many of the “Christian Famous” got beheaded and stoned to death.
What’s made being a leader (or Christian Famous) the cool thing to do?
If we want both men and women to respond in the freedom of Christ and to live using our gifts to His glory, we need a space in our churches where men are specifically taught by men, and women specifically taught by women (not exclusively by the same gender but alongside of the regular preaching of God's Word of the pastor) . If we continue in the pattern of not having solid sound teaching for women by women then women will either start leading as men or will go outside of the church. Neither of these is good.
In craving the comforts of compulsive work I meet anxiety when I am unable to attain the desired intensity of toil. And you know what this tells me? That I think far, far more highly of myself (and my work) than I ought (Rom 12:3).