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Posts Tagged ‘kindness’

African American mom & daughterHere’s another opportunity from Ezer’s Handbook

#6: Mentor the Vocation of Motherhood
The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20).

Take a stand for life. Satan wanted woman to be the mother of death, but Adam named his wife “Eve” (Hebrew: chawwah, “life”) because she would be the mother of all the living. With this name, Adam expressed hope for the future through new life and, most importantly, through the promised Seed of the woman: Jesus Christ. How does God help us understand “choice” in Deuteronomy 30:19-20? Regardless of our choices in the past, what can we choose to do now? How does being pro-life affect the way we see ourselves and others? On Mother’s Day, celebrate the noble vocation of motherhood with a thank you to mothers and grandmothers. Pray for those who longed to be mothers but lost a child through miscarriage or stillbirth. Remember the mothers who chose abortion because they feared motherhood, that they might know the mercy of Jesus’ forgiveness and hope for new beginnings.

Trust God’s Word. A woman is, by God’s design, a “helper”.  This is her first vocation. God equips wives and mothers to help men be good stewards, grow children in faith, defend human life, and serve neighbors. In what ways does a woman connect fathers to children? Raise standards of behavior? Nurture moral character? Encourage husbands and children to stand against evil? Write your vocational job description on a notecard and keep it by your bed or above the kitchen sink.

Create a peaceful “nest” for your family and guests. God’s Word in Isaiah 32:18 tells us, “My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” The world is loud, selfish, rude, stressful, violent and disorderly. When your family and guests come in the door, welcome them to a different environment. A man should strive to bring order to his household, but the woman creates the “nest”. A mom doesn’t have to be a “super woman”, but she can keep her home clean, hospitable, peaceful, and Spirit-filled. Little things can help, such as: the music of teachable hymns, a scented candle, the table set and ready to receive the family, the Cross of Christ the Savior somewhere visible, personal composure, carefully spoken words, the practice of kindness, respect for “house rules”, limited TV and computer time, establishment of family traditions, and intentionally scheduled family time.

Invite your pastor to bless your home. Ask a few Christian friends to join you, your family and pastor for a “house blessing”. Join in prayer and God’s Word. Invite the Holy Spirit to live in your home and to fill it with truth, compassion, and faithfulness. Pray that God’s holy angels stand guard and resist evil.

Start a Titus 2 mother’s group. Be sure to include younger and older women. It is easy for young women to think that motherhood is different today than in the past. While it is true that work outside the home and modern trends may contrast the way “things used to be”, children themselves have not changed. They require discipline, boundaries, and the mentoring of agape love in order to grow in faith and face the challenges of a sin-filled world.

Incorporate Titus 2 mentoring into scrapbooking. While hands are busy preserving memories of children and families, resist idle gossip and, instead, keep conversations focused on all things good, right, positive and hopeful. Before you meet, invite everyone to read, for example, Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss (Amazon) or Where’s Mom? (The High Calling of Wife and Mother in Biblical Perspective) by Dorothy Patterson (CBMW). Discuss the concepts of the books while working.  Consider the resources found at Titus 2 for Life.

Encourage the single moms in your congregation and community. One suggestion is to order copies of Not Alone, a devotional booklet I wrote for single moms (#LFL901B—$2, Concordia Publishing House). Deliver one tied to a small flower bouquet or tucked in with a freezer-ready meal that you’ve prepared for her convenience.

Offer comfort to women who have lost a child to miscarriage or stillbirth. Sometimes, words of comfort and compassion fail us. I wrote Into His Loving Care after a pastor asked me if I would compose a devotional for parents who mourn the loss of their child to miscarriage or stillbirth (#LFL902 – $2, Concordia Publishing House). I admit to being surprised by the response. Often, when traveling the country, someone will approach me to explain that they received a copy from a friend or family member. “God’s Word comforted me,” said one mom, “even as I was reminded to entrust my child into the Savior’s loving care.”

Evaluate what comes into your home. Do the websites you view and the magazines and movies you bring into your home encourage or discourage the vocation of motherhood? From where does your help come? “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

Next?  #7: Mentor in the Midst of Opposition

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

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At Titus 2 Retreats, one of the topics we discuss is modesty in clothing and behavior.  Perhaps, on behalf of our brothers, it would be best for me to share their thoughts on why modesty matters.  Please listen ~

 

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In 2009, after taking office, President Obama declared the month of June “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month.”  Now he has endorsed so-called same-sex “marriage.”

On June 1, a group of African-American pastors requested a meeting with the President to discuss their concerns with his “endorsement of gay  marriage as a civil right.”  These pastors believe that when government works to promote sin, Christians cannot be silent.

Aren’t we compelled to ask: 1) What are the basic rights of American citizens?  2) When God’s Word calls a particular choice or behavior immoral and, therefore, a sin, should it be celebrated as a basic right under the guise of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?”  3) What happens when a government such as ours creates “rights” based on changeable or controllable behavior?

President Obama has often referred to his Christian faith.  In this case, it is reported that he told the African-American pastors that he knows that he should treat others as he wants to be treated.  Well, that leads me to another question:

What does it mean to love our neighbor as ourselves?

Sometimes, our neighbors make choices different from ours.  Sometimes they offend, irritate, or intimidate us.  Nevertheless, they remain our neighbors.  We are called to love God by loving and serving the best interests of our neighbors.  This does not mean we must endorse their choices or behaviors, especially if those behaviors offend God.  It does mean that we are to support and care for our neighbors even when we cannot support a behavior that God labels sinful.

We love our neighbors best when we fear, love, and trust in God first.  Knowing God and His design for our lives as male and female helps us to serve our neighbors, not by approving of wrong things, but by seeing them as real people who struggle (as I do) with real challenges and temptations.  Martin Luther wrote, “We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.”

The Word — Jesus Christ — is Truth.  When he calls something a sin, it is so.  Our vocation as Christians is to be faithful to the Word of Truth and, at the same time, be kind in how we contrast deception with truth, darkness with light, evil with good.

For those who want to be kind to their neighbors, may I suggest:
Exodus International and Parents & Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays

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Students identifying themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ)  are asking conservative, evangelical colleges to change policies and theology to reflect their “sexuality” and behavioral choices.

In his article for CitizenLink (6-13-11), Jeff Johnston notes that LGBTQ students are rallying on the campuses of Cedarville University, Hope College, Seattle Pacific University, Wheaton College, and more.  The Wheaton LGBTQ website states, “We do not believe there is anything wrong with being gay.  We don’t just believe otherwise, we live happily, and even faithfully, otherwise.”

The Cedarville group concurs, “Most of us still identify as Christian and are joined in our belief that God made us gay and that being gay is not a sin.  Instead of a burden or a struggle, we see our and everyone’s sexuality as a gift.”

Once again, I take issue with God “making people to be homosexual.”  Does a loving God create a person who can’t “fit” together with another to procreate and bring new life into the world?  Does a loving God sit in heaven and laugh when homosexual behavior produces STDs, anal cancer, and HIV/AIDS?

Johnston is correct.  “To affirm homosexuality and transgenderism takes some major Scripture twisting.”  Evangelical colleges and universities would have to change basic tenets of the Christian faith in order to embrace LGBTQ theology.  Johnston gives three examples:

  • Humanity is created male and female in the image of God.
  • God established marriage to bring into union a husband and wife and as the foundation for procreation and family.
  • The metaphor of husband and wife is the central biblical image that illustrates God’s deep passion for His people and Christ’s love for His Bride, the Church.

To affirm homosexual or transgender behavior is to ignore 5000 years of Judeo-Christian foundational teaching.  More, as Johnston states, it assaults the core features of what it means to be human.

Doubting God’s Word was the first — and still most troublesome — sin.  It ruins relationships, first with God and then with others.  God will not have us doubt His Word.  Tweak it.  Distort it.  But, He would have us use His Word to changes hearts and minds.  To treat even those who doubt His Word with kindness.

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The word “male” (Genesis 1:27), from the Hebrew word zakar, could be translated: “the remembering one.  Isn’t this a strange description for the male?   What is it that God wants man to remember?

God’s wants man to remember His Story (history).  His instructions for life.  His warnings away from death.  Just as Adam passed on God’s Word to Eve, so is man to pass on God’s Word to his family today — sons, daughters, grandsons, and granddaughters.  Whoa.  Stop.  Adam passed on God’s Word to Eve?

Based on Genesis 1:27, I used to assume that God made man and woman at the same time.  That God instructed them both not to eat of the one tree.  That in choosing to do so, they would know good and evil… and die.  I was ignorant of God’s Word.  I was guilty of reading one passage, but not another.  God uses the first part of Genesis, chapter 2, to give more detail on His creation.  God didn’t create man and woman at the same time — or in the same way or for the same purpose.  Eve had not yet come to be when God gave the man His instructions for life and warnings against death.  She learned of God’s Word from man.  And, in God’s order of things, she would be privileged to help him remember it.  Trust it.  Use it.

One day, Satan slithered right past the man to deceive the woman.  The twister of Truth knew that Adam was entrusted with the responsibility of remembering God’s Word so he flattered the woman.  Put her in the role of leader.  Perhaps intoxicated by this attention, she disobeyed God and doubted His Word.  In doubt, she was foolishly emboldened to not only speak for God but add her own words as if they were His.  Eve’s words should have been to her husband.  She should have beseeched him to remember God’s Word and use it to engage the enemy.  Instead, she chose to tempt man to also eat of forbidden fruit.   Adam could have resisted.  Turned Satan on his tail.  But, failing to remember God’s Word and use it, the man was ill-equipped to cover his wife.  Lead away from danger.  God held man responsible because he failed to remember.  To act.  To engage the liar with Truth.  To bring order out of chaos.

It all could have ended there.  But, God’s love for His creation endures forever.  He promised that another Man would come.   The Man who would remember the Word and use it to cover every sinful man, woman, and child.  That Man is the Word.  The Word sent from the Father to be the Savior from sin.  In Jesus Christ, man has new opportunity to remember the Word and use it.  And woman remains privileged to help man remember.

How does she do this?

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tear it down (Proverbs 12:1).

She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life . . . she opens her mouth with wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue . . . the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised (Proverbs 31).  (Note: She deserves to be praised not because she is so amazing, but because she is not deceived by the world.*)

She is reverent in behavior, not a slanderer or slave to much wine.  She teaches what is good, and so trains the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands [as to God], that the word of God may not be reviled (Titus 2:3-5).

Even if her husband doesn’t obey the Word, she may win him by her behavior when he sees her respectful and pure conduct . . . when she lets her adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious . . . likewise, her husband lives with her in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since she is an heir with him of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:1-7).  (No offense here!  God expresses care, not disrespect, for women because physically, women are typically smaller in size and weaker in strength which could make them vulnerable to abuse.  Husbands are not to exploit their size and strength in unkind ways.*)

A husband needs a wife who will patiently help him remember God’s Word.  Use it and pass it on.  On this earth, there is no more powerful union — for the benefit of children.  Society.  A future of hope.

*With appreciation for commentaries
from The Lutheran Study Bible

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This nation is slipping.  Morally.  Ethically.  Spiritually.  Silent Christians have a lot to do with it.  But, so do Christians who are mingling with the world.

Andree Seu, writing in WORLD (11-6-10), paraphrases comments made to her by Virginia Rep. Frank Wolf.  With both hands about shoulder-level, roughly 12-inches apart, Rep Wolf explained to Seu that we have “the church” here and “the other world” here.  He posited that this is always a constant distance of separation.  Seu writes,

“Where the thing gets scary, explained Wolf, is that as the world moves toward greater immorality, the church continues to keep the same distance from it.  That is to say, the church is sliding into debauchery along with the world, just at a slower rate.  What is important to note is that this slippage from God is not so easily detected because the gap between church and world remains the same, and so we seem, to ourselves, to be doing OK.”

In the first session of my Titus 2 Retreat, “We Are Vulnerable,” I ask the group to give examples of “silly myths” that lead to “social experiments.”  Believing “silly myths” (i.e. abortion is a woman’s right or two women who love each other should be able to marry) inevitably leads to social experimentation.  Such experimentation is actually tampering with God’s design.  This is never good for a people who want to imagine beyond themselves to new generations.  God’s design brings order and new life.  Experimenting with His design brings chaos and death.

We are vulnerable, I explain during a Titus 2 Retreat, when we profess Jesus Christ as our Lord but wrap Him around silly myths and social experiments.   There is a saying: “We become like the company we keep.”  We become like the world — even though we think we’re keeping a distance — when we begin to mingle (just a little here or a little there).  When we let worldly ideas of spirituality, worship, the roles of men and women, marriage, family, and children weave into Christianity, we’re in trouble.  Truth does not embrace or wrap around worldly ideas.  Truth and the world are opposites.  A lesson from history gives some clarity.

In the Old Testament book of Ezra, we learn that the king of Persia was going to allow the Jewish people to return to Jerusalem.  They had been exiles and captives for a long time.  It’s important to note that only a small number of Jewish exiles wanted to return to their homeland.  Most were unwilling to give up their Babylonian property or lifestyle to go back to their old ways.  So, because there was such a small group of workers, the rebuilding of Jerusalem became more difficult.  There were people in the area who offered their help.  Those people didn’t believe in God and held to a blend of mixed religious beliefs.  It goes without saying that they had motives of their own.  The Jewish people refused the offer of help with their building project.  Why?  1) The task was given exclusively to God’s people; 2) accepting help from non-believers would obligate God’s people to pagan ways; and 3) the potential for corruption in worship was too great if God’s people became aligned with non-believers.  (Ezra 4:3)

A Christian, wanting to be progressive, might think: If I embrace the best parts of a worldly idea, I will be able to move forward the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a modern way.  But, too often, moral-influence flows the opposite direction.  God knows that.  Therefore, He says: Don’t mingle; dig in.  Dig in to the One Who is not of this world (John 18:36).  Jesus says, “I am the Light.” The world is dark (John 1:4-5).  “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).  The world is deceptive and leads to death (John 10:10).  “My peace I give you.” The world offers no such peace.  (John 14:27)  For this reason, St. Paul was inspired to write in Romans 12:2:

Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Don’t mingle.  Dig in.

To mingle with the world is to walk on shifting sand.  For awhile, public opinion might lean one way; then, depending upon anything from the economy to a national crisis, public opinion can suddenly shift the opposite direction.  Andree Seu explains that there is “a little thing called the ‘Overton Window.’  It is the term for an insight by a Joseph P. Overton that at any given point in the stream of a population’s public life there is a ‘window’ that contains or frames a range of opinion that is currently acceptable.  Outside that window lie the ideas considered wacko.  The intriguing thing is that what is ‘acceptable’ and what is ‘wacko’ can (and does) shift.  The window itself moves — and clever and diabolical forces have an interest in moving it.”

What was “radical” yesterday is “acceptable” today.  The unthinkable, notes Andree Seu, can go from “popular” to “policy.”  Remember.  Ideas like abortion, homosexual “marriage,” and euthanasia used to lurk in the shadows of the American landscape.  Not anymore.

I’m an ezer woman who lives in a culture where “evil” is called “good.”  For this reason, I’m compelled to dig heels into the foundation of God’s Word but, at the same time, push forward with weapons of truth.  As ideas and behaviors spiral downward, the one who follows Jesus is called to be intentionally polite.  Kind.  Pure.  This will irritate some and be seen as naive by others.  But, for a neighbor caught momentarily in darkness, the light may shine more brightly.  The Word of Truth, kindly spoken, pulls from shifting sand to solid ground.

There is a model for those who no longer want to mingle but, instead, dig in.  Curious?  I invite you to explore Titus 2 for Life.

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