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Posts Tagged ‘patience’

mother & daughterLet’s keep rolling with opportunity #5…

#5 — MENTOR SELF-CONTROL
The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us . . . to purify for Himself a people . . . who are zealous for good works (Titus 2:12-13).

Take a step toward happiness by learning to control your nature. In a fallen world, men and women must daily fight our natural tendency to sin. Parents in civilized societies have always known the wisdom of helping boys suppress two of their natural tendencies: strong sexual desires and a predilection to aggression or even violence. Likewise, parents in civilized societies have understood the wisdom of helping girls suppress their natural tendency to be ruled by emotions. Why is a woman who lives by her feelings and emotions less likely to be happy or content? What is the effect on others when a woman lets her emotions dictate her behavior? Visit Titus 2 for Life.

Resist following your heart. Ponder the following statements: “When it’s time to make a decision, I’ll trust my heart.” “He told me he loved me. The moment felt so right and my heart said ‘yes’”. “Some people say he’s not right for me, but I’m following my heart.” Can we trust our heart? What does God say in Genesis 8:21; Jeremiah 17:9; and Matthew 15:19? How can we help younger women train their hearts and minds? See Psalm 119:41-48; Proverbs 16:20; and Matthew 22:37.

Stay in training and run the race. St. Paul encourages believers to “run the race”, not “aimlessly” but with self-control (1 Corinthians 9:25-27). The world convinces women that we have the right to dress, speak, or act however we please. At what point do our “rights” hinder others? Can our lack of self-control put the faith of others at risk? A pastor’s wife used the ten-lesson Bible study I wrote entitled Dressing for Life: Secrets of the Great Cover-up with her volley-ball team at Christian camp (#LFLDFL, downloadable PDF from Concordia Publishing House). Her goal was to help the girls “exercise self-control in all things”, including their dress and behavior, so that they could be of help and not hindrance to young men who are also trying to “run the race” of faithfulness. Another resource for moms to use with daughters is Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Mahaney Whitacre (Amazon).

Prepare young women to practice self-control with the goal of guarding their body, mind and soul. Mothers of daughters will find a great deal of biological wisdom in the book Unprotected by Miriam Grossman, M.D. (Amazon). As a campus psychiatrist at UCLA, Dr. Grossman treated some 2000 young women whose physical and emotional lives were impacted by sexually-transmitted infections, depression, abortion, and fertility issues. Fed up by the feminist ideology that insists that women are the same as men, Dr. Grossman left her position to tell the world why a woman’s body is more vulnerable and how to avoid physical, psychological and spiritual harm caused by unnecessary behavior. Purchase copies of the book for your local pregnancy resource center and young women in high school and college.

Be faithful in times of waiting. It’s not easy to wait for something wonderful. Too often, times of waiting stretch out for months and even years. While we wait, we can choose to be foolish or wise. A foolish woman anticipates good things but is not prepared to wait and does not have extra oil for her lamp (Matthew 25:1-13). A wise woman anticipates good things to come by keeping her lamp of faith burning brightly. When the waiting gets long, she doesn’t need to fear darkness and despair because her hope is sustained by the means of grace, namely God’s Word and Holy Communion. She remembers her Baptism and trusts her identity as a daughter of God in Christ Jesus. Filled with the Holy Spirit, she lives for Him rather than herself. Why do you think that “patience” and “self-control” are fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)? While a young woman anticipates something wonderful in her life—most especially Jesus’ second coming—how might an older woman help her bear “good fruit” in her attitude, work habits and love for her neighbor? Does your congregational family intentionally mentor from one generation to the next?

What’s Next?  #6: Mentor the Vocation of Motherhood

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

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woman reading bibleA young friend of mine is excitedly planning her wedding.  She confesses, “I’m so happy but, at the same time, so impatient.  I just want the day to come.”

It’s a fact of life that we must often wait for the good things that our hearts desire.  But impatience while we wait is such a waste of time.

So here is a challenge to my young friend and to myself.  Let us turn our impatience into anticipation.  Let us use today as an opportunity to anticipate every good and perfect gift that God holds for tomorrow.

Let us open our eyes to the wonder of God.  He not only gives us good things worth waiting for, He gives us hours and days to prepare and dream.

And long after the good things have come, He gives us memories to ponder.

For my young friend, however, God has even more than memories in store.  He has new days to be lived as the wife of her husband.  As his partner.  His friend.  His helper, encourager and advocate.  Together, they will dream more dreams.  Make plans.  Build.  They will frustrate and disappoint one another.  But together, every moment of impatience can be transformed into a time of anticipation.

Anticipation is hope.  Hope for goodness, mercy and positive change.  And hope in the God of life never fails.

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When I was a little girl, my parents took my brother and me to Split Rock Lighthouse on the North Shore of Lake Superior.  We returned for numerous visits.  I was fascinated with the lighthouse.  What fun, I thought, to be the daughter of the lighthouse-keeper!

Re-visiting the Lighthouse as an adult, I recognized the lighthouse-keeper’s job was a lonely one.  Daily structured.  Difficult in the midst of storms.   The duty of the lighthouse-keeper, after all, was to keep the light shining no matter what.  Wicks needed to be trimmed.  Plenty of oil on hand.  All equipment needed to be in working order so that nothing prevented the light from shining when fog quickly rolled in or darkness overwhelmed the shoreline.

There was another duty.  From time to time, the lighthouse-keeper was called down from his lofty place high on the hill to the rocky shore below where hurting lives lay ship-wrecked and in trouble.

Such is our duty, too.  We are called to shine our lights high on the hill to help everyone see.  The light of God’s Word flowing through us warns others of danger and shows the way of hope and salvation.  But, when someone is hurting because he or she has come upon hard times, suffering and pain, God’s Word compels us to step down from the hill to offer comfort and care.   To help carry the burden.  God’s love flows through our servant hands.

My friend’s mom, Gladys, came down from her lighthouse countless times to serve the needs of others.  Now, it is is the turn of her children and grandchildren to serve.  To show their respect.  To practice caring.  To model what Gladys taught them.  I know.  I know.  Gladys would much rather go to the mansion God has prepared for her, but not yet.  Not until God’s work in and through her is done.  For now, she can trust that God is doing a work through her for others.  She can trust that He is speaking to her about important matters of eternal significance.  Then, as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane, she can know that God’s will is being accomplished.

Things for Gladys seem upside down.   Storms have carried her wrecked and helpless body onto the rocky shore.  But, the light in Gladys is still shining.  The oil of God’s Word has so filled Gladys that, even as a very sick patient, her light inspires others to kindness.  Patience.  A servant’s love.

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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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The question is: “Who steps first into the circle of love and respect: The husband or wife?”

It helps to remember who created that “circle.”

God did.  And, true to His design, there is order.  God created human beings in His image, but He did not make them to be the same.  They are equal, but different.  God did not create woman at the same time as man, in the same way, or for the same purpose.  In fact, God revealed to man that he was incomplete.  “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18).  “Fit for him” literally means: “Like his opposite.”  (Think of this!  Anatomically.  Hormonally.  Psychologically.)

Is it significant that woman was made for man?  To complete him?  Be his helper?  Yes.  The created order shows that man was to be the steward over all and she would help, assist, encourage, comfort, and be his advocate.  (The word “helper,” by the way, is not dissimilar to the word used by Jesus to describe the Holy Spirit [John 14:16,26).  In her privileged role, she is free to help without any initiative on his part.  She doesn’t wait for him to ask before she offers encouragement, comfort, or good counsel.

God’s created order is a reflection of Himself.  He is one God, yet three persons.  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equal, but with different functions.  There is headship in this orderly structure… and there is submission.  The same is true with male and female.  Even after sin spoiled God’s perfect design, the order of creation remained in place for our benefit.  Sin broke man and woman’s relationship with each other and with God.  But, in mercy, God used the submission of the Son, Jesus Christ, to save His Bride, the Church, and serve with humility.  A woman might resent the created order.  A man might abuse it.  But, whenever it is honored, it continues to serve family and society well.

Doesn’t the created order beg the question from a leadership perspective?  Shouldn’t the man be the first to step into the Ephesians circle?  No, not necessarily.  Even if he is stepping out front to fight wolves at the door, she is fully engaged as his ally and encourager.  In God’s design, the man is responsible for bringing order out of chaos, but she helps that happen.  Regardless of their different functions, both husband and wife can practice loving and respecting at all times.

There is no measuring stick.  No fairness meter.  In a godly home, neither husband nor wife keep track of what the other does or doesn’t do.  Both have the same goal: To do all they do to God’s glory.  And, when they fail, they apologize and forgive.  Both take their sin baggage to the cross — and leave it there.

Visits to the Cross happen all the time even in the best of marriages.   Let me approach this from a woman’s perspective.  Helping is what I naturally do.  But, flawed by sin, this becomes difficult.  My husband might not think he needs help.  Might not invite help.  Might resent help.  Might interpret my help to mean he needs “fixing.”  So, how do I enter the “circle of love and respect” at such a time?  Hopefully, I haven’t disengaged from the “circle.”  Hopefully, I am faithful in offering encouragement.  If I need to help, but he’s too prideful to accept it, I need to take care.  Be sensitive.  I may need to move slowly.  Mary told Joseph that she had been visited by an angel with news of her pregnancy, but Joseph was of the mind to quietly divorce her.  In their “circle of love and respect,” Mary understood that it wasn’t up to her to convince Joseph.  She needed to wait on God.  In His time, God helped Joseph get his arms around the situation.  A woman is helping — in one way or the other — all the time.  She may be helping to good… or bad.  To build up… or tear down.  To encourage… or discourage.  To trust God’s plan… or shape her own.

Ultimately, two are better than one.  One may fall, the other lifts up.  One may be overwhelmed, a team of two stands firm.  One alone is cold, two together stay warm.  One might fall out of the “circle” momentarily, the other welcomes him/her back in.  Woven with God, both are able to engage in the “circle” freely and unconditionally.

The pure circle of love and respect is tainted on this earth.  We too easily think of ourselves first.  How we’re not being served… or how we’re doing all the serving.  But, challenged to “shine like lights” and “hold fast to the word of life,” we do what we do for Christ — even if it means being “poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of our faith” (Philippians 2:14-17).  Faith produces a sacrificial attitude for husbands and wives that frees us up to think less about self and more about other.

With this attitude, one might even forget who started, paused, stopped, or re-started the circle to go ’round.

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June is the traditional month for weddings.  Marriage expectations are high.  Most brides and grooms expect to have all their hopes and needs met by the other.  Is this possible?

In God’s perfect world, yes.  In a fallen and sin-filled world, no.

Marriage was instituted by God.  It is a union of two completely different people — male and female — for the benefit of children and society.  It is a relationship that models the agape love of patience, kindness, selflessness, and faithfulness.  It builds family and community.  It mentors the vibrant and compatible roles of manhood and womanhood for generations to come.

History explains.  After God created man, He said, “It is not good that the man should be alone.  I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18).  God wanted man to know that he was not yet complete.  He had no mate appropriate for him and he had no means of procreation.

Fit for him” literally means “like his opposite.”  Imagine that.  She fit perfectly with him, yet they were not the same — anatomically, hormonally, or psychologically.  With God, they would procreate new life.  She would be the vessel for the young one he would protect.

Equal, but different, the man and woman would unite in a partnership.  Their unique character traits and personalities would harmonize.  In God’s order of creation, a “helper” (Hebrew: ezer) would be an “assistant” and “ally.”  The ezerwoman would not be dissimilar from the “Helper” sent by Jesus to the disciples.  That Helper, the Holy Spirit, was called a “comforter,” “advocate,” and “encourager.”

The woman would know joy and contentment in her role of “helper.”  She would find limitless possibilities in her multi-faceted vocation.  She would help man to be a better steward over all creation.  She would help nurture all the living.  The  man would rejoice in his completeness.   He would love the woman built from his rib and guard her life as if it were his own.  He would serve not his own glory, but the glory of God (to her benefit).

In the first marriage, there was no fear.  Resentment.  Envy.  Frustration.  Anger.  Heartache.  Disappointment.

Everything changed when the first husband and wife sinned against God.  They were equally guilty, yet the consequences of their sins were as different as their natures.

Today’s bride and groom may expect to have all their needs met.  But, in a fallen and imperfect world, no person can do that for another.  Only God can and will fulfill our deepest needs.  At the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Bishop of London noted, “As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life.  This is to load our partner with too great of burden.”

Let us ease the burden with encouragement.  Sin distorts God’s perfect plan, but the original design is still in place.  It serves well when trusted.

  • A woman “fit for him” remains a husband’s opposite.  She is made to think, act, and love differently.  Sin complicates those differences.  Not only are they male and female, they have contrasting personality traits, quirks, familial histories, and experiences that may threaten to tear the marriage apart.  But, there is another choice.  With forgiveness and practice, husband and wife can merge their best qualities for the benefit of a stronger marriage.  They can stop playing “me against you” and become “we.”  They can unite as a team for the sake of their children.
  • A woman’s role still complements the man’s.  She is his “helper.”  Regardless of sin and circumstances, she has a choice: to help him be a good or poor steward; to encourage or discourage; to build up or tear down; to connect him to children or disconnect.  He has the choice to use God’s Word for life, warn against death, and cover his wife and children with his faithfulness — or not.

Equal, yet different, husband and wife have an example to follow.

Jesus is equal to God.  He is God yet, in His role as the Son, He submitted to His Father’s will in order to be the Savior of the world.  A wife who respects her husband and submits to his appropriate leadership is really submitting to God.  A man who loves his wife as Christ loved the Church is submitting himself to God.

Marriage expectations?  On this earth, husband and wife won’t make each other completely happy.  Won’t meet each others every need.  Warm fuzzies will fade.  But, Jesus in a marriage makes two “better than one.”  Opposites who glorify God rather than self change the environment.  Root deeper.  Build stronger.  Persist against every foe.

A threefold cord (God, man and woman) is not quickly broken” (Eccl. 4:12).

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Remember when God’s people were taken captive by the Babylonians?  Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, took seige of Jerusalem and moved the people of God to live in his land.  These days, I feel as if people of the Word have been taken captive, too, but didn’t have to leave their homes, schools, churches, or places of employment.

The question is, how do we live in Babylon?  Some, intimidated into thinking “we can’t mix church and state,” are paralyzed into silence.  Some, feeling overwhelmed by powerful forces, pull back into the crevices of the familiar and safe.  A great many, believing themselves to have progressed out of God’s Word, have become like the Babylonians.

There are others, however, who are affecting a pagan culture — one heart and soul at a time.

We live where we live.  Here’s the question for me: How do I, as an ezerwoman (helper), make the greatest difference where I am and with what I have?  How do I affect a pagan culture — one heart and soul at a time?

Babylon, like America today, was a mighty civilization that tolerated opposing religions, thoughts and practices.  But, many Babylonians were good neighbors, friends and co-workers.  God placed me where I am and, although it may feel like I’m living in a strange and foreign land,  I think I’ll better affect good neighbors, friends and family whenever I remember who I am and live accordingly.

I am, first and foremost, a creation of God and a treasure for whom Christ gave all He had.  That is my identity.  It does not change with the circumstances of my life.  Trusting this identity, any semblance of racism melts away.  Trusting this identity, every human life — from conception to natural death — is valuable and worthy of respect.  Trusting this identity, I am free to be the “helper” God made me to be.

Do you know that the term for “helper” used in Genesis 2:18 (Hebrew: ezer) also applies to God in Psalm 70:5?  Jesus said to His followers, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.  You know Him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:15-17).   That Helper is the Holy Spirit.  The Greek for “helper” (parakletos) means “comforter” or someone who appears on another’s behalf (“advocate”).  Do you understand why I find no insult in being a woman?  In being a “helper” or “helpmate?”  As a helper, I’m in good company!

As an ezerwoman, I can help, encourage, comfort, and be an advocate for my husband, sons, grandsons, father, brothers, uncles, nephews, pastor, and every male with whom I work or fellowship.  I can help by choosing to build up the struggling men in my life rather than tear them down with disrespect or cutting words.  I can help by practicing patience when my husband needs a little more time to get his arms around a new idea (1 Peter 3:1-2).  I can help by speaking, dressing, and behaving in such a way that encourages men and boys to act chivalrous and godly (1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Peter 3:4).  I can help by using the model of Titus 2:1-5 with younger women.  I can help by contrasting “silly myths” (1 Timothy 4:7-10) with the “Way, the Truth, and the Light” (John 14:6).

Daniel found himself captive in Babylon.  He was educated in Babylon.  He was called to serve the king of Babylon.  But, he remained faithful to God in all things.  Daniel acknowledged that he was of no use to the wicked (Daniel 12:10).  That’s true for me (and you), too.    But as an ezerwoman who remembers her identity and clings to God’s Word for Life, I am encouraged to encourage, joyful to share joy, and strengthened even in a strange and foreign land with faith, hope, and patience.

You know, when I think about it, I’m happiest when I’m helping.  I’m more content when I’m encouraging others.   Perhaps God is showing me the best way to live out my days in Babylon.

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