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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Things Aunt Lydia Taught Me

It has been less than a week since Aunt Lydia made her transfer from earth's shadows to heaven's glory.  I can just hear her voice, with a chuckle, saying, "If I'd have known how great this would be, I would've booked my trip sooner!"

Her birthday was December 19, just one day after mine.  Because of that, and because kids tend to think the day is somewhat significant, I have always felt a closeness to her.  That and because she was my aunt meant I could tell her almost anything and not get in trouble for it.  Aunts are supposed to fill that place in a kid's life, I guess.  They are supposed to be a non-parent, family-type who can get away with spoiling their niece or nephew and listen to them complain about everything under the sun - including secret opinions of other relatives.

Aunt Lydia loved beauty.  She always had growing things spread around her house - perhaps I got a little touch of that in me.  I love the magic of planting and growing - of seeing photosynthesis erupting before my very eyes in matters of days and even hours.  She cared very much about aesthetics - something I'm sure I would do well to take up, someday!

But more than beauty, birds, flowers and such she loved Jesus.  She would putter around her kitchen and yard and I would hear her singing.  She couldn't hardly get past a checkout lane without greeting the cashier and intentionally calling her by name and handing her a tract.  I've never been a great tract-giver.  But watching Aunt Lydia in action, I wished I were!  She had a boldness about her witness that made an impression on me.

She loved to worship.  She hated to miss the fellowship of believers at her place of worship.  I would watch her sit there and just close her eyes and drink it all in - the slow, acappella singing and simple harmonious songs.  Her heart soared in worship, because she adored Jesus with a depth of passion that shows up the rest of us, when we fail to enter into worship with uncluttered hearts and distracted minds.  She had developed well this habit - the discipline of full focused attention on her Lord Jesus Who loved her and gave Himself for her.  She would sometimes comment about those who didn't eagerly embrace church life, 'Well, they just aren't Gospel Greedy.'  I have often reflected on that phrase - we think of greed as negative.  But for her it was an appetite that couldn't be fully met - her hunger to reflect on, to live out, to revel in, to nurture her soul upon the Gospel was a primary drive in her life.  Her heart was centered on the Gospel.  We would do well to follow her in this.

She loved her family, and I'm sure they felt it.  I can't speak for them, but I know she loved me.  She made every effort to come see us when it was too much for our family of seven to trek down to Florida - even though it was difficult for her.  I remember her holding Hannah after she was born.  She was only able to come for a few days and that is the last time I saw her.  She impressed on me the great privilege and obligation I now had to care for these 5 gifts from God.  She loved to teach children - and the strongest point of her teaching ability came from her deep, warm-hearted love for each child.  She diligently prayed for us and reminded us of her love and care.

I will miss Aunt Lydia - selfishly, I will miss being loved by her.  I will miss that I can't see or talk to her anymore on this earth.  She is in a better place, but we are the poorer for it!  Each deposit in heaven reminds me yet again that this world is not my home - I travel as a sojourner - a stranger on earth.  Every goodbye to loved ones forces our attention heavenward - and calls us to live with that in view.

Here is a song-link for the hymn 'Satisfied'.  I believe it describes Aunt Lydia's hunger and love for Jesus:

Satisfied



Friday, May 30, 2014

How Much Should a Wife Submit?

This is an anonymous posting from a trusted Missionary Pastor that I know.  He teaches the Bible to many, and often has occasion to teach on marriage from a Biblical perspective.  I will share these with you for your edification and growth.


THOUGHTS ON SUBMISSION

QUESTION:  In light of these verses (see below) is the submission of husbands and wives supposed to be  50 – 50, or 60 for wives and 40 for husbands, OR some other combination such as 90 – 10 with wives submitting 90% of the time or should wives submit 100% and husbands not at all?


From Ephesians:

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the
husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the
church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church
submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their
husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and
gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having
cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he
might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or
wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own
bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated
his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the
church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 "Therefore a man
shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the
two shall become one flesh." 32 This mystery is profound, and I am
saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each
one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she
respects her husband.




It seems clear from 1 Cor. 7 vs. 2 - 4 That in some areas of marriage there is complete equality between husband and wife!  

"2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife
and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife
her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the
wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does.
Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but
the wife does."


1 Cor also says,
"11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not
independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from
man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God."

Back to Ephesians 5:16:  IT IS IMPORTANT FOR US TO KNOW GOD’S WILL.

Again, let's ask the question, “Who submits most in the marriage relationship?"
In Ephesians 5:22 – 24 it seems very clear that Paul is stating that the wife here is a picture of the Church and the husband a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is no argument that the Church should submit to the Lord Jesus in every respect, but so far as I am aware, no local Church has done this completely, and therefore the universal Church has not done so either.  This is not to excuse wives from submitting to their husbands, but to point out that since we are all still sinners, we will fail at times.

On the other hand, as the husband represents the Lord Jesus in the marriage relationship, I think that it is important to look at His life and see how submissive He was/is.


The Lord Jesus came to earth for the express purpose of dying for sinners.  All who believe in Him become part of the Church.  How did the Lord submit?

1.    He always did the will of God.

2.    He gave Himself 100% for the Church.

3.    He took all of the punishment we, the Church, deserved and forgave us for all we have failed in before and after we believe in Him.

4.    He has chosen to not remember our sins.

5.    He submitted to taking our sin, shame, and reproach and demanded nothing more than that we accept His gift of eternal life. 

6.    He forgave Peter's denial, Paul's persecution, Thomas's doubting, and all our failures.


Now, I ask again, in the marriage relationship, who should submit more - the husband or the wife? 

Do I, as a husband, forgive as God has forgiven me in Christ?  (Col 3:12-13) (Eph. 4:32)


In Matthew 18:21-22 the Lord instructed Peter to forgive.  There is no thought that the offender must apologize or grovel in any way.  The duty to forgive is on the person who is offended. 

As a husband, I must strive to be like the Lord Jesus and love my wife as He loved the Church, and I must be willing to forgive all and to give myself 100% even if my wife fails in her duties.  If I can show my wife love as Christ loved the Church, she is much more likely to respond the way God wishes her to.


References Below:
 Ps. 81 Especially vs. 10 – 13
Romans 8:5 - 8
Romans 10:3
Galatians 5:1
Ephesians 21  17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand
what the will of the Lord is….21 submitting to one another out of
reverence for Christ.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Forgiveness, Remorse and Measurable Repentance

I was following up with some comments about my recent Forgiveness rant, Part 1 and Part 2...

 And there were parts I left out that I need to mention.  My source said not to quote him, so I will quote him without citing him.  He said that there are only five words that apply to this discussion.


5 Words.


What are those words?  Scroll down please....











WHAT





DOES








THE












BIBLE











SAY?







Yup - What does the Bible say?



I said, 'What about if I'm not sorry enough - or if I'm really sorry and trying to enter into the other's pain that I have somehow caused, and they don't feel my genuine sorrow or remorse?  What then?  Am I beholden to the yoke of their anger and unforgiveness?'  He said, 'No - you forgive them for not forgiving you and move on.'


"But what if I'm not sorry enough?  What if I come across as ingenuine?  What if they can't feel my repentance?"


"It doesn't matter - the answer lies in the question: What does the Bible say?"


Well, it seems Scripture hasn't much to say about the emotional penance we are to do to merit a forgiveness.  In fact, the most glaring Scripture that I came across was the following verse:


Colossians 3:13  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.


So, how did the Lord forgive us?  When we have done enough to prove our sorry-ness?  The hymn-writer would take issue with that:


Could my tears forever flow, Could my zeal no respite no -

These for sin could not atone - Thou must save, and Thou alone!
In my hand no price I bring - Simply to the Cross I cling.

Does God forgive us only when we're sorry enough?  No - because we could never begin to be sorry enough!  That is the essence of grace - forgiveness is poured out in spite of our lack of sorry-ness.


Ephesians 5:1 also tells us: Be imitators of God, as beloved children...


If we are going to imitate God, we must include in that category: How we forgive others.


On another note I pondered that Jesus never had to say sorry.  To anyone.  No one deserved an apology from Him, though I'm sure He hurt people's feelings.  Jesus did not ever need to repent though He rebuked others and caused their hearts deep anguish and pain.  Simply because others were hurting did not warrant an apology from Jesus who did no wrong.


Jesus came to free us from the yoke of slavery of sin.  And when others sin against us by not forgiving us, we are even free to forgive them and move on, and yes - even incubate their toxicity from our lives as much as possible.  Not out of unforgiveness.  But out of fairness to them - if anything!  They obviously find us so difficult to be around that we can make their lives easier by simply staying away as much as possible.  I am not advocating absolute disengagement or grudge-bearing!  Just a healthy distance!  


I hope I have made more sense here than I did the last time.  Otherwise, look forward to more in this ongoing series!  I welcome your questions, comments and input, as always!





Wednesday, May 7, 2014

When Forgiveness Is Denied (Part 2)

In my first post I was basically talking to/about the person who withholds forgiveness.  Now I want to talk to the one who is denied being forgiven.

If you have apologized and asked forgiveness - once - not many times, not in repeated trials to demonstrate enough penance - ONCE, then you have done your part.

You ARE forgiven - by God.  And He, after all, is really the only One Who matters.  It is sad, and a terrible grief to bear - that others refuse to forgive.  This is a matter they have between them and God.  You are free - free from the burden to work to pay for your sins.  You are free to live before God with the knowledge of HIS grace, HIS mercy, HIS forgiveness.  You are free to worship because you embrace the Gospel.

You are not beholden to some checklist of works-righteousness that wins you the salvation you have already received!

You are not subject to the faulty view others have of you!

You are not guilty because another deems you so!

You are not what others think of you!

You are a redeemed child of God Who welcomes you knowing you are fallen, imperfect, and yet His precious child.

He loves you.

He forgives you.

You are released from the burden of guilt others wish to place upon you.  Jesus took your burdens on Himself, and for others to try to enslave you to a yoke of works-righteousness would be beneath you as a child of the King.

You have been freed.

Now go live in that freedom and insulate yourself, as much as within your power to do, from grace-denying, forgivness-withholding, gospel-rejecting, toxic people.

You probably have to live with them to an extent.  But as much as possible, live in the grace of God and recognize others have their hang-ups and that is God's business to deal with.  Just don't accept the baggage they wish to place on you - to attempt to enslave you to their will, and not God's.

Be free from imposed burdens, that God never intended for you.

When Forgiveness Is Denied

I am going to address this from a certain angle and I don't want my readers to be confused.  I am not speaking here of forgiveness of grievous, outright obviously sinful atrocities committed against you or which you have committed.  This is not the kind of forgiveness I am addressing, though perhaps some thoughts will apply.  I am talking about when others harbour bitterness, anger, resentment, and an ongoing refusal to grant forgiveness especially regarding their perceived (valid or otherwise) injustices.

We all hurt others in our lives regularly.  Some of these matters are actually sinful and wrong.  Many are not - we are simply dealing with overly sensitive, self-centered individuals who nurse conjured up wounds that were never actually inflicted.  When we deal with these kinds of people (though we'd rather not, frankly) it is fair to offer an apology - whether it is actually warranted or not.  In my opinion, this is a matter of extending grace to those who have hang ups they can't overcome without our helpful willingness to concede and offer an admission of fault.

There are times, however, when the person is so caught up in his/her own pain and perceived injustice that they refuse to forgive.  They hold out forgiveness as if it were some gift of life that is theirs to dole out at their pleasure - when they feel you have wallowed in self-rejection, guilt and poverty of soul and done enough emotional penance to reduce you to a writhing worm covered in dust, half drowning in a puddle.  They gloat in the sense of power and victimization that they feel is theirs by right of the obvious injustice they have suffered (even if it exists only in the realm of fantasy and imagination).

They withhold forgiveness as if it is something that they have a right to withhold.  They evaluate apologies, evaluate the sentiment of your spirit and decide whether you have met their woundedness with enough self-denigration to merit the gift of their forgiveness.

People such as I've described cannot possibly describe themselves as Christians.

Yes, that is a bold statement but I will explain why.

If you deal with a person like this, and they claim to be a Christian you should open and end every conversation with the following two statements:

Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin.

Jesus' death on the cross was enough to pay for the penalty of others' sin, even those committed against me.

Now, let's have that conversation about forgiveness.

Because if a person refuses to forgive they basically have an argument with God, and are in denial of the Gospel.  They therefore cannot rightly claim the name of Christ - because they deny the forgiveness HE offers and hold a judgemental wrath that is only God's to hold - and God doesn't hold it since His wrath was satisfied by the death of Jesus on the cross.

If a person withholds forgiveness he is saying that Jesus death on the cross was not enough to pay for your sins.  They deny the Gospel and the Cross and have no place celebrating with other believers that Jesus died to pay for our sins.

This kind of unforgiveness warrants Church discipline - because in withholding such from a fellow believer they are denying the truth of the Gospel and living in ongoing, unrepentant sin.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Blaming Emotions

I'd like to address this issue of maligning emotions - as if they are inherently bad.  "But you were emotional when you responded!"  Sounds like an accusation or something.  I wish we could get over this concept that emotions are wrong.  That we must float through life robotic-like - oh, no, not really - with plastic smiles plastered across our from-here-on-out robotic affect.

I wrote a bit about this in a previous post (Two lies that burn holes in relationships), and received some feedback from an insightful relative.  I asked her permission to post her thoughts here as I thought they warranted a broader audience.  She says it better, and with more credibility than I could!




Thank you so much for your helpful insights, and good observations about those two lie-beliefs regarding emotions! I've been fascinated with the topic of emotions and feelings for a LONG time. Here are just a few brief comments, on a few random observations that seem true to me, about emotions. I would love to hear your honest feed back about them. I didn't know if you'd want them posted as a comment to your post, so, here they are. People often react against emotions, feelings, or tears. Perhaps that is because our own and another person's emotions are not at all easy to figure out. Emotions seem to be very connected to our hearts. We often find it very difficult to figure out, then explain clearly or accurately what we are feeling and why. We are often oblivious to the many things that are going on in our hearts, and we often do not know the REAL reasons why we are feeling what we are feeling emotional about... It gets confusing, to say the least. I've often heard people say things like, "Don't believe your feelings, or your emotions." And, yet it doesn't seem to be our emotions that we are usually believing. Emotions are just emotions, not beliefs. It is the lie-belief that is causing the emotion, that I should not believe... Emotions are a gift from God. Designed by Him, for His very good purposes. One benefit they provide is, our emotions alert us to the fact that there is some kind of problem that needs our attention, our help. E.g. Sometimes someone IS being sinned against, and they need to ask the person to stop sinning against them. If the person won't listen/repent, Jesus instructed us to, take 1 or 2 other people with us, etc. Yes, God's Word does speak of overlooking a matter, also. Rather than just try to ignore the emotions, or stuff them, it seems good to let your emotions, or the other person's emotions, alert you to take that pain to our Father in Heaven, asking Him for His perspective on it. Asking Him for wisdom to know what the REAL cause is, and what to do about that. If the pain SEEMS to come from another person's sinful, self-absorbed, unkind behavior, talk to God about it. He wants and welcomes us to take EVERYTHING to Him with prayer, supplication and thanksgiving... He welcomes us to "pour out your heart before Him." We can ask Him for wisdom and discernment to know, whether this is something He just wants me to learn from, and what He wants me to learn. Or, whether He wants me to love them enough to help them recognize and turn from that sinful, self-absorbed behavior. Considering, for example, the fact that they may well hurt, offend, damage other people by sinning against them in that same way, also... Sometimes a person's emotions reveal that they are believing a lie. We, or they need to be set free, by discovering the truth that will set us/them free. It seems like a sincere love for them, would want to choose to help them, discover just what that lie is, and helping them find the truth that will set them free. Or, genuine love for them, would want to help them discover Jesus' ways of responding to being sinned against... Which includes, but is not limited to forgiving the person whose sinful, self-absorbed ways, have caused me much pain. The pain that comes with being sinned against, as well as the pain that comes with not experiencing anyone who cares about that pain, can become fertile ground for many a very destructive lie-belief to get planted deeply in people's hearts... It's fascinating and sobering to think about the FACT that we do NOT experience the other person's pain, and they do not experience ours. We only have their emotions, or facial expressions, that give us clues to the fact that they ARE feeling something... Many of the ways that we respond, or react to other people's emotions, effectively program them to hide their hearts from us, for fear of us treating them that way again... this hiding of our hearts, ruins relationships, and can even cause people to believe that not even God cares about how they are feeling. A very dangerous lie-belief, that causes people to make very destructive decisions, as they walk away from God, and from the people who "prove" that they don't care, by the way they treated that person. Depending on how we respond, or react, we often cause people to clam-up, hide their hearts from us, even lock up their hearts, believing the lie, that no one will ever care about the hurt that I am feeling! Responding wrongly to a person's emotions, often prevents us from being able to effectively helping them. Caring about another person's emotions, respecting their emotions, and the fact that something has caused them pain, is something that many people long to experience, but many never have...

- Elaine Ferguson

Anger in Parenting...strikes again

So last night there was this episode:

We don't normally have drinks other than water.  But I decided to have a special juice mix and went to find a carton of peach nectar I had stashed in the fridge downstairs.  It had been there a month or so, unopened - chilling for the right moment.  And now it had come.  I open it.  *Gasp* It had been opened!  I smelled it.  Fermented.  Yuck.

Scene 2:  I call a particular child who is known to take liberties.  Did you open it?  Yes.  How long ago?  A while ago.  Do you know it is now ruined?  Yes.  What are the rules about this sort of thing?  Why didn't you ask me first?  Why didn't you tell me?

I expressed my honest frustration and exasperation at that moment.  I didn't, in fact, YELL.  I told him how disappointed I was that now it is wasted all on account of his failure to obey the rules.  I went on for a few minutes.  He slumped and mumbled a weak (and lame) 'sorry.'

Scene 3:  Supper is on and he doesn't eat.  He sulks.  He endures supper.  All evening he is glum.

Scene 4:  I come under attack from the other parental unit for my 'anger'.  How it is inappropriate.  How he has now spiralled downward the whole evening.  How all the books say anger is bad in parenting.  How we had sometime ago met with another couple to hash this out - this disagreement of ours - that anger is either appropriate at times or never appropriate in parenting.  And how, in his mind, I had 'agreed' that anger is wrong in parenting.  (I don't remember it being that nicely finalized!)

At this point, my anger - probably very sinful and wrong at this point - was deeply kindled.  The evening was over.  I was fuming.

So I toss it out to the broader public for your honest input.

We have an ongoing disagreement: I believe anger in justified, though not loss of self-control, at times in parenting.  That when children continue to willfully disobey, they should know that there are harmful repercussions from such actions.

The other parental unit believes that anger is not okay.  That it is hurtful.  I agree about the hurtful part.  I'm just not convinced on the 'harmful' part.  A lot of things hurt that are good for us.

Thanks for letting me get this bee partly out of my bonnet.  It's a hornet's nest in there.