Women Embracing Faith

Thinking Through the Bible

Forgiveness and Hope September 15, 2011

Filed under: Family Life — womenembracingfaith @ 10:51 am

I have an antique chest with wooden keyholes on each drawer. Someone hand-carved each keyhole then carefully cut out a place for the metal lock to be inserted. A craftsman used his woodcutting tools…probably early 1800’s in New England. Until lately, Americans were proficient with their tools. They were very careful to safeguard that toolbox. I recently saw a toolbox preserved in the Alaskan State Museum in Sitka. An immigrant from Germany brought his tools with him and set about building a new life. Think about your own set of tools for building relationships and your life. Have been using your home-building tools?

Cooperation, Unselfishness, Truthfulness. Each has a lot of intricacies and implications deserving of your meditation. In recent blogs, we’ve focused on how a cooperative attitude differs from negotiating one’s self-interests and how being self-absorbed is the opposite of unselfishness. Truthfulness needs to be examined too. For instance, if your husband is self-absorbed to the point of being controlling (dominating instead of lovingly leading and cooperating), you may need to be truthful with him about how that trait makes you feel. Another example might be to see if you are being too demanding and unforgiving when others fail to be totally honest with you. Think about how you are using cooperation, unselfishness, and truthfulness in building your own relationships. We need to fill our rooms with them rather than more stuff.

“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches” (Proverbs 24:3-4).


As I write this from a Christian’s perspective, I am saddened at how many times I’ve missed the mark of being unselfish, cooperative, or truthful. Only faith in the death and resurrection of my Lord Jesus Christ to cover those misses and set the stage for forgiveness and grace keeps me hopeful and persistent. I hope you are familiar with these same biblical experiences of forgiveness and hope. If not, why not?

 

Telling the Truth August 10, 2011

Filed under: Family Life — womenembracingfaith @ 1:58 pm
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A safe place should have an atsmosphere of mutual trust. This aroma of safety and trust is what you want to smell when you walk in the door. Homemaking is not all about interior design, furniture, the latest style, scented candles, or even dust or mildew. Or steamlined organization, the current trend. A home should be safe. Safe in the sense of physical safety, sure, but, at the next level, emotional safety is built on reliability, dependability, trustworthiness, and loyalty. All these looped together make up our third construction tool:truthfulness.

Telling the truth seems so easy. But, little life hindrances keep butting in. “I’ll take you fishing Saturday.” “I’ll be home for dinner.” “I’ll forsake all others and you will be the center of my life.” “I’ll get a sitter for Friday night so we can be together.” “I’ll pick up the movie for family night.” The hindrances to keeping our word don’t appear so bad: “I forgot I’d promised to paint the nursery on Saturday.” “Oh, I stopped at Starbucks and got so involved with my projects on the internet, the time just flew.” “I really couldn’t help it; she was so alluring, and you’d been so tied up and busy lately. “No sitter. But, I couldn’t go anyway. Jeannie called and she’s got a coupon for two-for-one manicures.” “Oh, my goodness, I completely forgot about the movie.”

You see what is happening here, don’t you? It doesn’t begin as an intent to lie but a pursuing of one’s own agenda. A hurrid, rather careless, aiming at the goal of pleasing yourself. The result in our closest relationships is a letting down, a tossing aside of loyalty, a cumulative destruction of dependability. If we can’t know that our husband/wife, parent/child, sibling/sibling relationships can be relied on, what are we left with?

Telling the truth counts. That is why God wrote it in stone. “You shall not bear false witness.” This is not only on the witness stand before a judge, but in our everyday, our most intense relationships. Keeping promises over time, being there when we said or when needed or expected, builds rather than slowly tears down a relationship. Truthfulness seals love. Without it, the family may live under one beautifully designed roof but be fractured in all different directions, each seeking what he or she wants. The result is, instead of growing closer together, we are increasingly isolated, looking around for fulfillment, competing, pursuing our own agenda.

Are we using truthfulness to glue our family together? How does picking up this tool look to you personally? How can you use it to build up your home? Be sure to keep all your tools handy.

 

Another Tool For “Keeping House” August 4, 2011

Filed under: Family Life — womenembracingfaith @ 1:55 am
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“Keeping House” has become a sexist slur. It hasn’t always been that way. In fact, the roots of “to keep” mean to guard, to watch over, to protect. So when Titus 2 urges women to be busy at home (or as the ESV says,”working at home” and the NKJV renders it as “homemaking”), the primary meaning is to watch over and guard the home. To make or keep a home. It is not all about dusting and cooking, but of course, that becomes part of it. It is about protecting a safe place for our closest relationships to flourish.

Unselfishness is a tool for building, protecting this safe place. Proverbs says a wise woman builds her home while a foolish one tears it down with her own hands. Competition and negotiation have become such a part of our relating, cooperation and unselfishness need to be revisited. Watch yourself and your family. Do you see a pattern here? A habitual way of relating?

When we’re after winning or having it our way, self-protection becomes a habit. We negotiate in our best interest; we criticize when it’s not done our way. We demand. We manipulate. Demands, criticism, and giving orders stem from being more interested in yourself than the other person. Listen to your family this week. Hear thr tone of voice, body language, word choice. You can’t keep house if your eyes are closed to what is going on. Some of the most self-absorbed people I’ve met are Christian men.

Unselfishness is putting aside self-absorption. If you discover that winning, getting your way, controling are your chief ways of relating to your husband, you are selfish. Or he has been and now you are getting even. Or both of you are self-absorbed.

The problem is that self-absorption as a habitual way of relating to those we love (or used to love) is destructive. Gordon Livingston, M.D. and psychiatrist, believes, if left unchecked, it can lead to diseaster for the relationship. If you are absorbed with yourself, get over it. It will take some hard work. Habits can be broken, but it takes repetition, support, prayer, forgiveness. Start by thinking of the other person, listening, respecting, regarding. This is where theology steps in. Christians have hope in the promise of the Holy Spirit’s enabling power. Unselfishness will help you keep house.

“Love your neighbor as yourself” (as much as or in the same way as you naturally love yourself).

 

Cooperation, Not Negotiation July 19, 2011

Filed under: Family Life — womenembracingfaith @ 7:03 am
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Have you tried cooperation instead of competition in your homemaking this week? One way to remind yourself to use this tool is to post a note on the refrigerator in caps…..COOPERATE. Then, think about how you need to respond to your family members today.

I’ll tell you about how stress on cooperation is looking here. My husband works out of his home office next to the kitchen. Need I say more? Oh, between the laundry room and the kitchen. Then, he has at least ten projects going requiring multiple phone calls and service people stopping by. And this week is my once a year visit with a friend at Shakespeare By the Sea. My collie dog has stomach problems. I have a disorder causing me to go into sensory overload. My daughter is pregnant, feeling lousy and needs help with her three year old….Vacation Bible School at my church is coming up…

Bet you could write just such a list of challenges. The thing is… homemaking is not something about which we can say, “Done!” We need to cooperate, sure. But, I need more than one tool. And, I’ve been at this building a home for years now… We should remember that the basic principles don’t change even though the stresses do.

Did I mention it is John’s Reunion of his high school graduation class—this week? In town…for boat rides, old cars, receptions, and dinner. I’m trying to cooperate.

Cooperation implies a two-way give and take. It takes “two to tango.” Cooperation instead of competition in family life means to get along, to give up some of what you want and go along with the ideas, ways, desires, likes, activities of the other people in the home. Competition is more of a “I’ll give up this, but you have to let me do, have, be…..in return.” That is more like negotiation than cooperation. And what negotiation leads to is a lot of pulling, pushing, and demanding. Like business rather than a home. That unlying demanding attitude sure gets the deal done, but can wipe out loving, close relationships.

No one enjoys being pulled at all the time, so they just push back. Pulling leads to pushing. That’s no way to build a home. Ask any teenager who is pushed along to fit into Mom’s or Dad’s straitjacket. Or the wife who pulls away emotionally because her husband’s way is the only way. Or the husband who knows there is no use asking…

Remember the purpose of this blog? To teach the Christian woman how to think through the Bible, passage by passage. Normally, I don’t get into much else because I don’t want us to lose that focus. Today is different. This is all abou psychology. Some of it I read in “How To Love” by psychiatrist Gordon Livingston. He is against using negotiation in a love relationship.

As you are practicing using your tool of cooperation, lay down that competative one, think about our Lord Jesus Christ’s major teaching on relationships: “Love your neighbor as yourself;” …or Love your neighbor like you love yourself. As much as you love your ways, your ideas, your pleasures, your desires and activities, and even your work. Love is, after all, the major Christian virue.

 

Tools For Building a Home July 7, 2011

Filed under: Family Life — womenembracingfaith @ 1:43 am
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The Royal Wedding, 2011<img

Summertime is a time of reflection for me. A time to catch up on my reading, to look at things from a different perspective, to travel a little. Family life is in more of the spotlight as people come and go. And then, there is usually a wedding to enjoy. As beautiful as Kate's dress and cake were, they pale in comparison with the responsibilities she has assumed. I'm sure she needs some tools for building her royal home. We do too–and for rebuilding. Tools kept handy. To grab at a moment's notice. (Things always come up suddenly–even for royal couples.) Think of the following Six as your set of tools for building and rebuilding. Take them out often this summer and practice using them. Keep them handy to grab at a moment's notice. “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands” (Proverbs 14:1). I hope these tools will be useful to you in building your family’s relationships.

1. Cooperation. Save competition for sports and business. Family life is not about winning. Those winning skills and focus ability so needed in sports and work will tear a family apart. Instead, cooperate, think of the other person, get along. Keep reminding yourself: “Winning is not my goal here. Building strong relationships within a family setting is. We also saw this same concept in Galatians and Philippians where we were urged to stand together for the gospel. To stand firmly together. Family life is like that too. We need to stay together. Cooperation with each other around the goal of standing firm in your love for each other is the tool you need. How does that cooperation look to you today? What do you need to say and do? Think about it some today.
AN ENCOURAGEMENT
“The house of the wicked will be overthrown, but the tent of the upright will flourish” (Proverbs 14:11). Remember, the upright is one who has trusted in the uprightness of Christ Jesus’s character instead of their own and the sufficiency of His death for the atonement of her sins. “The righteous by faith will live” (Romans 1:18). Now she is equipped to cooperate since she has forgiveness, a cleared conscience, and a desire to please Her Savior. You might have only a tent, but it will bloom if cooperation is its hallmark.

 

BEGINNINGS January 10, 2011

Filed under: Family Life — womenembracingfaith @ 5:54 am

I’m reminded again of how contemporary the Bible is. It’s applicable to whatever the culture is doing or talking about.

The Banner of Truth Trust (.org) publishes “M’Cheyne’s Calendar for Daily Readings” which gets me into Genesis in January. Beginnings. It has been good to be reminded of a few foundational truths of Christianity:

Male and female, He created them.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. and God blessed them” (Genesis 1:27-28).
“When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created” (Genesis 5:1-2).

God created people to be like him. He created gender. Male and female. This is a very useful principle, to say the least. Effective and happy family life depends on an inner acknowledgement of this. My experience shows the truth of it. Grandsons are very different from raising my family of girls. I really know little about the process in comparison; I’m not an authority on boys!

Getting along with husbands (of any age) is made a lot less contentious if this principle is kept in the forefront. We’re different but connected. Joined together, blessed; commissioned to oversee the creation together; we are all “Man,” yet the gap in gender is still there. Psychologists have now documented how different we are. It pays to remember this as you seek to get along with your husband or raise your boys and girls.

This principle is also useful in seeking to know God and his ways. The Bible is so into his sovereignty in creating and in ruling and in salvation. He planned all along to bring a Savior, he created the world and the universe for his own glory, he rules among the nations and the rise and fall of each; he works things out, limits and controls, even the evil of men and our own stupidity.

If we acknowledge his creation of us as male and female to be partners in subduing his creation and raising families for his glory, we work out our daily responses to family and others and events in a manner more consistent with God’s intent. The catch is to think about it, remember it in spite of our busyness and constant intake of data. The comfort comes from acknowledging his sovereighty and his mercy and goodness at the same time. Staying balanced that way.

“Male and female, he created them…” How does this affect how you think, what you believe, how you act today?

 

Home or Church Responsibility? December 1, 2010

Filed under: Family Life — womenembracingfaith @ 2:17 am
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BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES FOR FAMILY EVANGELISM

Isn’t evangelism the church’s responsibility? If you saw your child slipping off a cliff into a black hole, would you wait for the guide to grab him? Help is one thing. Leaving our children’s eternity in the hands of “strangers” or even friends in the church is out of the question, don’t you think?

This is the kind of reasoning that is leading to abandonment of Sunday School programs, mentoring relationships between the generations, or other church programs designed to specifically call children to faith in Christ Jesus and a life pleasing to Him. The result is a swing from “leaving it all to the church” to placing the entire burden of evangelism on the family. This burden is hard to bear alone. Many families respond with a shrug of their shoulders at yet another load to bear and fall into sitting together once a week (or month!) and attending traditional holiday services together. Morality and tradition that fits into the prevailing culture results. This is a far cry from true evangelism where Christ Jesus is exalted in the home and each family member lives for Christ.

Both approaches are out of balance and a departure from biblical orthodoxy. Paul tells Timothy that the church is a household, is God’s, and is a pillar and buttress of the truth (I Timothy 3:14-15). It is supposed to support and defend the gospel–to constantly remind everyone that God sovereignly changes lives, calling each person in the family to turn from their own sins and rely on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the One who was promised from the very beginning. The church, not the family, is the one chiefly responsible for the guarding of the gospel.

“If the proper order is observed within the confinement of a true Bible congregation, the family will be sufficiently augmented with grounded principles, precepts and patterns of spiritual growth and life.” (Roger Hargrave, GraceWorx Ministries, Summer, 2010). italics mine.

It takes two for effective evangelism within the family. The biblical balance is both the church and the family working together to bring up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Principle 1: Don’t go it alone. Raise your children in active participation within a local church functioning as close to the New Testament description as possible.