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The Word on Wednesdays

 

As you read this, I’m winging my way across the country to speak at a conference, so our next regular weekly Bible study won’t start until after I return home and get my household back in order (I’m thinking probably mid-April-ish, but don’t quote me on that.). :0) I have a study in mind, but will keep thinking and praying about it for a few more weeks.

So anyway, for the next few Wednesdays, you’ve got some options:

📖 You can finish up Imperishable Beauty or any of my other studies you’re currently working on.

📖 You can choose a book(s) of the Bible to work through on your own.

📖 You can choose one of my studies to work through at the Bible Studies tab at the top of this page. (I would choose one of the shorter ones, like Colossians or Ruth rather than one of the longer ones if you’re only trying to fill the space between now and the beginning of our next study.)

📖 You can follow along with the sampling of “re-run” lessons I’ll be posting here on the blog each week.

Here’s today’s “re-run”:

sunday school

Sunday School: Chronological Study Lessons

During 2014, I led my ladies’ Sunday School class in a chronological read-through of the entire Bible. Each week I taught a lesson from that week’s reading and posted it here on the blog.

If you’re using the chronological one year Bible reading plan this year, here’s the lesson that roughly corresponds with this week’s reading. (And even if you’re not, I hope you’ll enjoy this lesson anyway.)

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 13 ~ Mar. 23-29
Joshua 1-24
Rahab: From Floozy to Faithfulrahab-scarlet-thread

By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient,
because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
Hebrews 11:31


Background- Joshua 1
Joshua 1 sets the stage for the story of Rahab and the spies. Moses had recently died, and God “promoted” Joshua to take his place. It was finally time for the Israelites to enter and take possession of the Promised Land. As God “installed” Joshua into his new position, He reminded him… Continue reading.

Sanctification

Frightened by Freedom

We ladies need to be really careful about viewing issues through the lens of our past experiences, and basing our beliefs, and teaching of others, around that experience, rather than on Scripture.

For example, you may have come out of an abusive marriage (and praise God that He rescued you out of that!) but that does not mean all marriages are abusive, nor that Christian women in relatively healthy marriages should not follow the Bible’s instruction to submit to our husbands.

Perhaps God saved you out of alcoholism (again, praise God!). You may have had some really terrible experiences related to alcohol and want nothing more to do with it, and that’s fine, but your experience does not change the fact that the Bible does not teach a zero tolerance policy of alcohol (only of drunkennes) for all people.

Our experiences tend to shape how we view the world, and even Scripture, sometimes. When we’ve been through a traumatic experience, our initial reaction is often to put as much distance between ourselves and that experience as possible – even to the extent of trying to eradicate that issue in the lives of those around us (“Women should never submit to their husbands!” “No one should ever drink alcohol!”) – because it makes us feel safer.

But as we dive into God’s word, worship, prayer, and the fellowship of the saints, He begins to heal those wounds from the past, and we stop feeling threatened by freedom. We begin to see that our safety is found in Christ, not in building walls out of laws around ourselves.

Don’t trade the prison of your terrible experience for the prison of unbiblical laws and rules. True freedom is found in trusting Christ and His word.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1

Mailbag

The Mailbag: MLM-ing Essential Oils at Church

Originally published March 26, 2018

Our church has recently had a visitor come who is now promoting essential oils to the women who are flocking to a class she is having in one of their homes. This makes me very uncomfortable as it appears (to me) that she has visited to increase her MLM [multi-level marketing] customer base while touting medicinal cures via essential oils. Do you have any research on this?

Sounds like a multi-level mess! There are several different issues going on here, so let’s dig in…

Cold-calling at church
Um, no. I mean… OK, I’m just going to go there. Have you no shame? Have you no home training? I don’t care how much of a go-getter saleswoman you are, there are some lines you just don’t cross. And I can’t believe I’m actually having to explain to grown up, adult people that you don’t go church hopping to make sales and recruit people to work for you. What’s next, showing up at funerals to sell Avon? Pampered Chef demonstrations at wedding receptions?

Church is the place where a local body of Believers gathers to worship the almighty God of the universe. How dare anyone sully the Bride of Christ it by making it something as low and common as a networking site for her business! If you are visiting a church, you should be doing so to worship, not for any other reason. Jesus made that really clear.

Depending on how blatant, intrusive, and disruptive the visitor’s behavior at your church is, someone – preferably one of the women in the class that the visitor is close to, but if not, possibly an elder or the pastor – may need to pull her aside and firmly, yet lovingly, explain that she is welcome to come to church to worship, but not to hustle.

Multi-Level Members
The reader who sent in the question asked about someone who’s visiting her church, but I want to take a moment to speak to you ladies who are MLM-ing your own church.

Your fellow church members might be uncomfortable telling you this, so I’m going to do so on their behalf: Some of you are going too far and being too pushy with your businesses. And you’re putting your brothers and sisters in the no-win situation of either having to acquiesce to the pressure you’re putting on them or hurt your feelings by telling you no.

It’s certainly fine to tell people at church what your job is when they ask, but leave the ball in their court:

“What do you do?”

“I’m an independent sales consultant for Fancy Widgets.”

“Oh? That sounds great!”

“Yeah, it’s an awesome company. I love it! If you’d ever be interested in working with us or adding to your widget collection, just let me know. Want some coffee?”

And don’t bring it up again. She knows you’re her Fancy Widgets connection. If she wants something, she’ll find you.

If you leave it at that and you end up having a few people at church who want to order from you, it’s certainly OK to discreetly take orders from them or bring their products to them at church after services are over. It’s fine for people to approach you about your business, but don’t repeatedly ask people at church to host parties, invite people from church to parties others are hosting for you, attempt to recruit people, or push products. That’s a distraction from worship and fellowship, it gets on people’s nerves, and it will eventually end up alienating your church family.

Scientifically proven?
I don’t have much experience with essential oils, but it’s my understanding that some essential oils can help alleviate the symptoms of some ailments in some people. In other words, peppermint oil may work wonders on your migraine, but do nothing for mine. As long as the limits of the powers of the essential oils are made clear along with the potential benefits, there’s no problem. If the visitor is making snake oil-type promises that the essential oils don’t deliver on, that’s lying and she needs to be confronted about it. If it gets to that point, you need to let your pastor or elders know what’s going on in case she doesn’t stop and one of them ends up having to deal with her.

Essential Oils and New Age Spirituality
Some (not all) essential oils companies claim that their oils will bring about spiritual benefits in addition to (or instead of) physiological benefits. While it’s fine to say that a little lavender oil in your bath will help relax you, saying that it will balance your chakras or yin your yang or bring you inner peace and confidence or whatever is crossing the line into unbiblical (usually New Age) spirituality. No Christian should have anything to do with buying or selling such essential oils. If there’s someone in your church who’s promoting a company like that at church, that’s a church discipline issue, because she’s introducing false doctrine into the church.

Marcia Montenegro over at Christian Answers for the New Age has published numerous posts on the problems with New Age spirituality and essential oils.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Christian women, Men

Feminist Infiltration and the Emasculation of Christian Men

Originally published May 13, 2016

feminist emasculation

I hate radical secular feminism. I really do. Don’t get me wrong, I deeply appreciate the right to vote and own property. I think that men and women with the same amount of experience and education should be paid the same amount of money for doing the same job. And, I love seeing women study and develop their minds (particularly in the area of sound biblical doctrine.)

But what I don’t like is some of the methods that have been employed to achieve these things, the biblical values that have been sacrificed along the way, and the emasculating impact feminism has had on men.

Turn on any television show, watch a commercial, go to the movies, read the news, scroll through your social media feed, and examine the way men are generally viewed, spoken of, and being treated by others.

If a female character on a TV show slaps her husband or punches him in the arm, we laugh or sympathize with her anger, depending on the scenario, but if the roles were reversed we’d call the same behavior from a man abuse.

Men are frequently portrayed as bumbling incompetents as fathers, husbands, and employees, with a heroine mom, wife, or co-worker stepping in to save the day.

We see women wearing the pants in the family and treating their husbands like an extra child, and we see men who respond in kind: acting like children, obeying their wives’ commands, and, often, indulging in hours of childish pastimes, like video games, instead of working hard and caring for their families.

It’s not Father Knows Best anymore. It’s Father’s a Moronic Buffoon to Kick Around.

And what’s alarming is that these attitudes have been creeping into the church for years.

Just as women rebelled against the law and social conventions to gain equality with men, “Christian” women now rebel against Scripture by becoming pastors and instructing and holding authority over men in the church. (In fact, this has been going on so long that many in the next generation aren’t even aware that the Bible prohibits this.)

Just as men in secular society have stepped back to avoid being run over by headstrong women, or even joined them in their quest for female dominance, evangelical men have abdicated their God-given positions of leadership in the church and home, sometimes even joining women in their violation of Scripture by inviting them into unbiblical positions of leadership and by sitting under their teaching and preaching.

Those are the things that are overt and visible. But it’s happening on a more subtle level, too, even among complementarian men, women, and churches.

Have you ever heard a man attempt to praise his wife by saying, “I married up,” or “way up,” or “way over my head,” and then proceed to describe himself as, basically, a bucket of slime in comparison to his wife? Most of the men I’ve heard say this have been good, godly men, including my husband, who has made similar remarks in the past.

I don’t know about the rest of you ladies, but I don’t want to hear anyone putting my husband (or any of my godly male friends) down, even my husband himself. The truth is, for believers, the cross is the great equalizer. We all marry equally up and equally down, because we are all redeemed, yet broken, sinful human beings- simultaneously saint and sinner.

And what about things like this?

There are some really great messages in this video:

Being a mom can be tough, and husbands should appreciate all the hard work their wives do as mothers.

God wired women differently from men in a way that uniquely equips us for motherhood, and these differences are good and should be valued.

Dads need to step in and give moms a break every now and then.

It’s just supposed to be a lighthearted “moms are precious” video. I get that. But how are the makers of the video achieving the “lighthearted” part? By portraying dads as silly and hapless.

Where are we getting this idea that men have to be torn down in order to build women up? Not from the Bible, but from secular feminism. That’s their modus operandi, not God’s.

We always look at Proverbs 31:10-31 with regard to what it says about excellent wives, but have you ever noticed what it says about husbands?

The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm…

Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land…

Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
11-12a, 23, 28-29

Here, in the quintessential passage praising godly wives, do we see a silly cartoon character of a husband? Do we see a husband being belittled so his wife can look good? No. We see a godly wife who does her husband good and inspires and encourages him to go out and conquer the world. We see a respectable man with a good reputation. And, we see a man who trusts, appreciates, and praises his wife without a hint of self deprecation.

The world’s way is that for women to be winners, men must lose. God’s way is iron sharpens iron. When wives are godly, it influences their husbands to be godly, and vice versa. When women fulfill the roles God has ordained for them at church, it frees and encourages men to be the leaders God has called them to be. We build each other up without tearing ourselves down. Nobody has to lose in order for somebody else to win. Godliness is truly a win-win situation.

Godly women are important, specially crafted by God for our roles, and worthy of honor and respect. But so are godly men. Let’s be sure, in the family and in the church, that we’re taking our cues from Scripture, not the world, when it comes to valuing women and men.

Marriage

Throwback Thursday ~ 9 Ways NOT to Fight with Your Husband

Originally published October 21, 2016

9-not-fight-husband

My twenty-fourth wedding anniversary is coming up in December. I am so thankful to God for bringing my husband into my life. He has been such a blessing to me. I adore Scott…most of the time. Scott and I are both very passionate people. That’s a polite way of saying we’re both prone to being hot-headed and overly emotional at times. And that’s sort of a secular way of saying we have both given in to sin and selfishness with each other over the years. We’ve had our share of arguments, and if you’re married, you probably have, too.

The Bible says:

Be angry, and do not sin. Psalm 4:4a

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20

There is a godly way to iron out our differences in marriage. We pray for each other and about whatever it is we’re disagreeing about. We die to self, put the other person first, and act in humility and love. We exercise self control and refuse to be ruled by our emotions. Husbands love their wives and lead with a self-sacrificing heart, and, wives, we submit to and respect our husbands’ God-given leadership.

And then there are the ungodly ways to handle problems and arguments in our marriages. Younger ladies, as someone who has learned many of these things the hard way, allow me to Titus 2 you for a few moments. Here are nine ways not to fight with your husband*:

1. Failure to leave and cleave
Your utmost loyalty is to your husband. When you and your husband have a disagreement, it is for the two of you to work out together. Do not run back to Mommy and Daddy (or your sister, best friend, etc.) and complain about your husband in hopes that they will take your side against him and fight your battles for you. That is the mark of a child, not a grown woman. (And, older moms, if your adult daughter attempts to do this with you, teach her that this is not the godly way to handle disagreements. Do not get involved. Send her back home to work things out with her husband.)

2. Don’t negatively compare your husband to other men.
“You’re just like your mother/father!” “My father would never treat me like this!” “My ex-husband/former boyfriend/deceased spouse always _______. Why don’t you?” “Pastor Bob/your friend Joe would never treat his wife this way!” The fact of the matter is, your husband was created in the image of God as a unique individual. There is no comparison to others.

3. Don’t use Scripture as a weapon.
Yes, the Bible is a two-edged sword. No, that doesn’t mean to slice your husband to pieces with it. In the same way he doesn’t get to yell “You’re not being submissive!” (even though it may be true) as a way to win an argument, you don’t get to take the verses that tell husbands how to act and use them to belittle him. The best way you can use Scripture in the middle of an argument is to remember what it says to you about obedience to Christ, humility, patience, and extending grace, and obey it.

4. Don’t use sex as a weapon or a bribe.
God created sex as a good gift for husbands and wives to enjoy. He tells us we are to give each other our right to intimacy and that we are not to deprive each other except temporarily, by agreement, and for the purpose of devoting ourselves to prayer. Do not withhold sex as a way to punish your husband or hold it over his head as a way to get him to do what you want him to do.

5. No personal attacks
Would you want your husband to call you ugly, a cow, a bad wife, a lousy mother? Of course not. Don’t call him lazy, weak, stupid, fat, etc.

6. Don’t emasculate him.
Do not attack your husband’s manhood. Berating him for his job performance, belittling him for not being as successful you think he should be (or as someone else is), throwing in his face how little money he makes, mocking his performance in the bedroom, denigrating him as a mama’s boy, making his kowtowing to you a test of his manhood, and saying things like, “A real man wouldn’t ____!”, are all great ways to tear down your house with your own hands. These kinds of remarks are some of the most hurtful things you can say to your husband. They make him feel the way you would feel if he said you were old, fat, and ugly and he was going to find someone else who was younger and beautiful. These are soul crushing things to say, and if you’re in the habit of saying them, your marriage isn’t going to last long. Stop.

7. Don’t be manipulative, passive aggressive, or play other emotional games.
No pouting, no slamming things around, no saying “NOTHING!” or “I’M FINE!” when he asks what’s wrong, no expecting him to read your mind and getting mad if he doesn’t, no making his giving in a test of his love for you, no holding things over his head, no maxing out the credit cards, flirting with other men, or sabotaging his work, hobbies, or relationships as a way to get back at him. None of these are godly ways to relate to anyone, and especially not to your husband. “The heart of her husband trusts in her,” the Bible says, “She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” Throughout God’s word, we’re admonished to lovingly speak the truth with one another, not hide, shade, twist, or withhold things. If you’re playing any of these emotional games with your husband you’re being dishonest, unkind, unloving, and malicious. 

8. NEVER threaten divorce.
For Christians, divorce is never a solution to regular marital spats. You have taken a vow before God to stick with your husband through the bad times. Christ has said He will never leave you nor forsake you despite the many times you’ve sinned against him. How, then, could you threaten to leave your husband for sinning against you? The only reason for such a threat is to hurt or scare the man you have pledged to love and honor for the rest of your life. That is not how a woman of God behaves.

9. Leave the past behind.
Don’t throw past sin in your husband’s face. When God forgives us, He puts that sin behind us. The Bible tells us we’re to forgive others the same way, and that we’re not to harbor a record of wrongdoing against others. Love and forgive your husband the way Christ has loved and forgiven you.

But what if he doesn’t do a good job at work or hasn’t cut the apron strings or is being disobedient to Scripture? There’s a time and a place to kindly, lovingly, and rationally discuss those things. The middle of a heated argument isn’t it. Christ does not use our weaknesses as a weapon against us and we do not use our husbands’ weaknesses as a weapon against them. We treat our husbands fairly, kindly, compassionately, respectfully. The same way we want them to treat us.

golden-rule


*As always, when I write articles like this about marriage, it is in the context of a relatively normal, healthy relationship. If you are being abused, get to safety and seek help. If you know someone who is being abused, do not place on her the burden of trying harder. Get her to safety and help her.