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Archive for March 13th, 2014

thinking womanLet’s continue with opportunity #3 —

#3 — MENTOR BIBLICAL WOMANHOOD

A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30b).

Fear and Love the Lord.  Martin Luther begins each of the meanings for the Ten Commandments with: “We should fear and love God . . . .”  In a sinful world, “fear” and “love” hardly seem to fit together.  But the Heavenly Father can be both feared (for His justice) and loved (for His mercy).  How does this give freedom to modern women?

Reject the Deception of the World.  The Christian woman is often reminded of the Proverbs 31 woman.  But do we know why she was praised?  Church Father St. Bernard of Clairvaux draws us away from the idea that this woman was praised for her spectacular work.  He wrote, “You have been able to reject the deceitful glory of the world . . . you deserve to be praised for not being deceived.” (The Lutheran Study Bible ESV, Commentary on Proverbs 31:30-31, page 1047.)  How was the first woman, Eve, deceived?  Why did Satan approach her rather than the man?  What is the deceitful glory of the world?  How do we resist it?  How do we help others resist it?

Discern Personal Mentors.  Whose counsel and advice do we seek?  Do we surround ourselves with women in the same situation and circumstance as our own or do we glean wisdom from “older” women who have matured in the face of challenge?  What kind of reading material is on our coffee table or by our bedside?  Have we been influenced by human opinions and fickle emotion… or the Word of the Lord who calls Himself “the Alpha and Omega”?

Resist the Temptation to Divide Generations.  Bring older and younger women together in Titus 2-style groups.  Suggested resources include Titus 2 for Life, Dressing for Life: Secrets of the Great Cover-up (a ten-lesson reproducible Bible study on modesty and clothing available from CPH [#LFLDFL]), Men, Women and Relationships: Building a Culture of Life Across Generations (a 12-lesson Bible study with leader’s guide from CPH [#LFL901BS]), The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Mahaney Whitacre, and Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.  We can encourage and be encouraged by building relationships across generations.

Take Care Not to Burn Bridges.  Sometimes, the relationship of two women can suffer because of a difference in thought or behavior.  Even so, the Holy Spirit may keep that person close to the heart.  Perhaps we will be nudged to send a simple “thinking of you” card or a gift on her birthday.  We do well in not resisting opportunities to reach out.  For example, years after a Christian woman had an abortion followed by a divorce, she wrote her friend, “Thank you for keeping the communication open and not burning any bridges.  You have not abandoned me.”  That friendship was restored in greater measure.  How do such invaluable lessons encourage others?

Send a card.  This may be the age of e-mail, texting and Facebook, but none of these replace a personal phone call, handwritten note or card.  We all like to be remembered, don’t we?  It is not uncommon to send a card and then have the recipient, sometime later, ask, “How did you know that I needed encouragement that day?”  If we can’t find the right message or can’t afford a pricey card, we can write a favorite Bible passage on a note and tuck it in an envelope with a tea bag or pre-packaged coffee pouch.

Start a Mother’s Group.  Include “older” and “younger” moms.  In a mobile society, young moms are often miles away from their mothers and grandmothers.  They are in need of older women who can mentor self-control, purity, homemaking, kindness, and why submission to husbands is obedience to God (Titus 2:5).  Offer opportunity to learn from faithful biblical practice in the home, but also mistakes made and lessons learned.  Experienced moms can point to the discipline of God’s Law and offer the forgiveness and life-changing hope of the Gospel.  Even in a changed culture, God’s Word for women provides all we need to persevere in the vocation of motherhood.   Can you count the ways that godly motherhood influences children and impacts society?

What’s Next?  #4: Mentor a Changed Attitude

Ezer’s Handbook is a resource developed by
Linda Bartlett and presented at Titus 2 Retreats

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two women talkingReady for a second opportunity?   Here’s #2 from Ezer’s Handbook

#2 — MENTOR CONFIDENCE IN THE CREATED ORDER

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18).

Find Hope in the Order of God’s Creation.  Woman was not created at the same time, in the same way, or for the same purpose as man (Genesis 2:7, 15-22).  But many women perceive the role of “helper” (2:18) as being inferior or second-best.  Encourage younger and older women in your circle of relationships to read John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7-8.  Who is “the Helper” of whom Jesus speaks?  “Helper” in Greek is parakletos which means “comforter” or “advocate”.  “Helper” might also mean “encourager” or “ally”.  The question for women is: how will we choose to help or encourage? Submission is another troublesome word for us as women, but a biblical perspective helps bring understanding.  God uses the order of His very nature—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—to bring hope to a sinful people.  The Trinity is equal, but with different and definitive roles.  Jesus Christ is God, yet He submitted Himself to the Father for the sake of our salvation.  To bring order out of chaos, God uses the headship of husband and father in marriage and family for the benefit and well-being of children and society.  God uses the submission of the Son, Jesus Christ, to save His Bride, the Church, and serve with humility.  What begins to change when we understand “helper” and “submission” in light of God’s Word rather than our own opinion?

Trust the identity bestowed in Baptism.  A woman’s identity is not dependent on a man’s love, her appearance or what she does.  God does not define a woman as “sexual,” but as “holy”.  In Baptism, a woman becomes a daughter of God in Jesus Christ.  Yes, she is still a sinner, but now God sees her covered in Jesus’ robe of righteousness.  From a biblical perspective, the word “holy” means “set apart by God”.  “Holy” is the opposite of common.  Something common can be used by anyone, but a holy woman is used by God for good and holy purpose.  In light of her Baptism, how can a woman view herself?  How does true identity affect our choices and behavior?

Believe That Male and Female Are More Than Sexual. Too often, we skip from Genesis 1:27 to Genesis 2:24.  In doing so, we miss something very important about the complementary purpose and vocation of male and female.  Before God brought Adam and Eve together as “one flesh” in His institution of marriage, He called man to be a steward of all that He had made, to remember God’s Word, and to choose life.  God called woman to help man in the stewardship of all creation and help him remember God’s Word and choose life.  Do men and women have to be married in order to serve God in these ways?  Although it has become commonplace during the last 50 years for men and women to be identified as “sexual beings,” we are more than that to God.  While it is true that God designed male and female in the faithfulness of marriage to procreate, it is just as true that unmarried men and women are “holy” in Christ Jesus and can work together as caretakers of God’s world and be people of His Word and advocates of human life.  We are not defined by our sexuality—in this life or the next—but by our holiness.  What do Jesus’ words about marriage in Matthew 22:30 tell us about our “sexual” identity?  To help yourself and others better understand true identity as male and female, google The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity (publication release: May 2014 by Linda Bartlett).  We can help others understand that no matter our age, health or circumstance in life, every male and female has unquestionable identity and purpose as “holy ones”.

Stand Guard Against the Enemy of Life.  Satan despises God’s order of creation because he wants us to live in chaos.   His one question, “Did God really say . . .,” was all it took for Eve to doubt God’s Word for her life (Genesis 3:1).  In doubt, Eve loosened her grip on the Sword of Truth.  Did she believe that she was the privileged recipient of some new knowledge that God was keeping from her? Do you see how quickly she not only spoke for God but inserted words God never spoke (compare Genesis 3:2-3 with 2:16-17)?  Nothing has changed.  Satan continues to stir up doubt by asking women the same question.  “Did God really say . . .?”  Like Eve, do we respond by speaking what God does not about sexuality, marriage, abortion, headship and women’s ordination?  Do we try to establish our own standard of right and wrong?  Challenge yourself to help younger women fear, love and trust God above all things.  Help them to recognize what is counterfeit and of Satan by knowing Jesus Christ, the Word of Truth (John 1:1-5, 14).

What’s next?  #3: Mentor Biblical Womanhood

Ezer’s Handbook is a resource developed by
Linda Bartlett and presented at Titus 2 Retreats

Read Full Post »