Women Embracing Faith

Thinking Through the Bible

Finish the Story March 28, 2008

Filed under: Bible Story For Children,Family Life,Teaching Tips — womenembracingfaith @ 1:42 am
Tags: , ,

My grandson, Benjamin, is all into Noah’s ark. Chiefly, I think, because he loves to make animal sounds! The monkey is his favorite. He is also into boats big time. So Noah’s adventures make for lively interaction.

All this is a lot of fun, but any animal story would do for that. For  spiritual profit, we need to do more than just tell fun stories. In this case, we need to add what most of the picture books leave out–the meaning of it all. The flood was a judgment of God and is a picture of the judgment to come– the wrath and justice of God sweeping away sinners. The ark saved Noah and his family, and symbolizes Jesus as our Savior.  Noah was in the ark just as believers are “in Christ” (Romans 4).  Noah found grace (unearned favor) in the sight of the Lord. He then believed God, floated to safety, and saw the rainbow as a token of God’s promise never to flood the earth again. Flood, ark, rainbow–visual images all.

Why in the world would you bring this up to a two-year-old? Every kid is different, but familiarity and repetition help all of us remember. In this case, you are giving him visual images he will never forget. Who knows how the Holy Spirit will use those simple images of judgment and salvation down the road?

Genesis 6-9 and II Peter 3 were written by Moses and Peter more than a thousand years apart. It is all for us to”grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18). Keep on believing even when others joke about it. And finish the story so your child will have these images to fall back on when the Holy Spirit convicts him of his own need to flee the judgment to come.


Knowing and Weeping March 20, 2008

Filed under: applications — womenembracingfaith @ 1:31 am
Tags: , , ,

The details of Jesus’ life between Palm Sunday and Easter have been of particular interest to me over the years. Luke paints a contrasting picture between the palm-waving entry and Jesus’ tears of reality as He thinks about Jerusalem’s attitude toward Him. He knew the palms didn’t mean much. They really had rejected Him. They had hardened their hearts. They refused to hear! And He knew what sorrows lay ahead for them because of that. In less that forty years, the Romans would destroy the city, tearing it down rock by rock. He weeps as he predicts this judgment to come (Luke 18:41-44).

Often we have something to cry about. A friend’s failing marriage, perhaps. Cancer reoccurance. .Hearing that one in four teens have some kind of sexual disease to pass on to others. Or that our leaders still muck around with whomever and we have to hear the details on the evening news.

They could have known “the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” What things? As Paul would later explain, we have peace and hope only by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1-2). This was nothing new to the residents of Jerusalem. They knew the story of Abraham’s belief in God’s promise and how his faith was counted as righteousness. And now, Jesus had just raised Lazarus from death a couple of weeks earlier as a public demonstration of His power and claims. He was continuing to say He was the promised Savior and would be killed for our trespasses and raised for our right standing with God. In explaining this hardened unbelief, Paul quotes Isaiah’s prediction of a “spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear” (Romans 11:8). Hidden truths, blind eyes, deaf ears….

We can’t know or predict in the same way Jesus did.  Our knowing is limited; we don’t always know the whys. But, notice Jesus wipes His tears, then calls for the temple to be a house of prayer and continued proclaiming the good news of salvation each day (Luke 19:45-20:1). That is what we need to be doing too. So wipe away your tears, and keep on praying and telling others why you have hope. Jesus is alive! The Holy Spirit is with us.


Essential or Non-Essential? March 12, 2008

Filed under: applications,Moral Law — womenembracingfaith @ 7:24 pm
Tags: , , ,

Have you noticed how draining political discussions can become after awhile? I’m tired of the presidential election already and we’ve got miles to go. Any continued controversy is like that, whether in a marriage, a business partnership, or, really, any relationship. Once the opinions are clear and the positions are set, it is detrimental to keep on hackling over it. I speak from experience!

Romans 7 is like that in Christian circles. The debate always gets back to “Who is the man in Romans 7?” Was it Paul’s experience as a non-Christian or as a Christian or somewhere in between? Then, as the debate heats up, the main point of the passage is totally overlooked, and we are tired of the whole thing.

I bring this up to show how “non-essential” this debate is. What are the main points of the passage? The discussion ought to be about the power and strength of sin, and how we’ve been set free from feeling like a slave to either sin or the law once we are “in Christ.” Or about how the function of the law is to show us our sin and our need of a Savior. A third main point is about how the law has its limits: it cannot save us nor sanctify us no matter how “moral” we think ourselves. Or we could talk about how Romans 7-8:4 is a cure for any spiritual depression we might slip into. Matters like these are essential, don’t you see?

That is why I bring this up. Thinking our way through the Bible requires making decisions about essentials. Enjoy your liberty to hold onto your view of which spiritual realm Paul was in at the time. Then we can focus on what really counts like, “There is, therefore, now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus!” That is a wonderful essential we can agree upon.

One who is totally safe in her personal relationship with God is not captive to the sin within. She flourishes in her liberty, allowing her to grant that liberty to others. She knows how to use the law to expose her own wrong thinking or actions. She is, then, not going to stay long in spiritual depression. Now these are things worth discussing!

“Unity in essentials; Liberty in non-essentials; Charity in all virtues.”


Church History and Child Care? March 5, 2008

Filed under: Church History,Family Life — womenembracingfaith @ 7:36 pm
Tags: , , ,

How in the world could church history have anything to do with today’s child care issues?

Mary Henry could tell us. Her husband wrote one of the most used and most often published Bible commentaries ever. They lived in Chester, England, two miles from the border with Wales during the late 1600’s. She came from a distinguished family. Her grandfather was Chief Justice of Chester and her father was remembered for his help to nonconforming ministers and their families. Her mother was from London. Public worship and such things as your choice of schools and jobs were all restricted by the English government which sought to suppress their “dissenting” view of Christianity. (Only the Anglicans had full freedoms in these areas. A Dissenter (or Nonconformist) was similar to today’s conservative Presbyterians or Baptists.) Matthew became a Dissenting pastor and Bible teacher anyway.

Because he was born just as the Puritan era of power came to a close, Matthew Henry is considered as a bridge between the Puritans and the 1700’s. His diary and other personal papers were preserved by his sister and Mary. These papers give us a glimpse into this Puritan approach to living just as his commentary shows us a Puritan approach to the Bible.

Mary and Matthew had eight children of their own; at least two died in infancy. In addition, he had one daughter by his first marriage. Then, when his sister and her husband died, Mary agreed to take in their four children. That makes eleven kids! I wonder what Mary could tell us about their home life and her work load! We can only imagine. Have you seen “Pride and Prejudice?” Remember the home-life confusion portrayed with only four girls?

Unlike that movie household, the Henry home was a Christian one. Matthew’s childhood home has been held up as a model for Christian families, and he sought to do the same thing with his own. I wonder what it was like to study the Old Testament in family devotions in the morning and the New Testament at night? Morning and Evening– imagine getting everyone together and quiet! Restless kids; Mary was probably nursing one most of the time; servants were also included. No wonder Matthew Henry is remembered for his ability to apply the Bible to everyday life. He had plenty of practice. And don’t get the idea he was at home all day. He preached elsewhere six days a week.

This example of day by day reading and explaining the scriptures to children of all ages is the lesson glimpsed from church history for today’s care of children. It leaves us looking foolish as we excuse our failure to have family Bible studies. But, don’t try to copy someone from the 1600’s. Adapt the principle to your own life. We need to lead our children to God through Bible study and family worship. That is not so easy, but it wasn’t so easy then either. Mary was widowed after only twenty-four years of marriage. I bet she was thankful they did what they could during those family days in Cheshire County, England.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary can help you. Google Matthew Henry. Find the verses you are teaching your kids about. See how his explanations are amazingly applicable to your life right now. He teaches sound doctrine in such a way that God is exalted and we are helped. It is a quick, handy tool to use to care for your children. And it is at your finger-tips.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

(See J. B. Williams, The Life of the Reverend Matthew Henry, (Bridge-Logos, Gainesville, Fl., reprint of 1828), 2004.)


Charity In All Virtues March 1, 2008

Filed under: applications,Uncategorized — womenembracingfaith @ 2:46 am
Tags: , ,

Thinking through the Bible together and, especially seeking its relevance to life today, calls for a boundary. This boundary has been in Christian circles at least since the 1500’s; I heard about it from one of my favorite dead pastors who put it into practice all the time: “Unity in Essentials, Liberty in Non-Essentials, Charity in All.” Love is, of course, the tip-top of moral excellence. Love is patient, kind, and is not jealous, is not proud or arrogant either (I Corinthians 13). So in thinking about biblical applications, we should assert that when we disagree, patience, kindness, and humility still crown our relationships.

Of course, this is not so easy to pull off. We are to be of one mind in essentials, but what is essential? We are to give each other Christian liberty to disagree over non-essentials, but again, what are the biblical things that open-ended? These issues have to be worked out as we go along. The paramount thing to pull off is to love one another as we define essential and non-essential.

One essential seems to me to be agreement that the Bible is applicable to our lives today no matter where we live, our age, social standing or political preferences. Maybe I’m for green and you don’t even recycle but biblical spirituality means we still are kind, not jealous, and never arrogant.

I flourish in liberty. I dislike to be controlled. I relax in unity. Love shines amidst all moral excellence. Think about it. How does it fit into your life right now?