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Posts Tagged ‘The Life’

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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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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