07-30-2014

Intentional Friendship is The New Courting

intentional Almost four years ago, an 18 year old boy came to my dad and asked to start a relationship with his daughter. My dad understood that the 18 year old boy and the 19 year old girl had a long way to go before they could get married. Both of them wanted to finish college (they were just starting their sophomore year of college) and neither of them had jobs.

Wisely, my parents guided my now husband and I into what I call an intentional friendship. We were not dating. We were not allowed to spend a lot of time together alone or spend a lot of money going out on dates. But we were not courting either. It was not this formal relationship that put pressure on us getting married.

My dad asked that my future husband spend time with my family and I together. He wanted whoever I marry to be a friend and brother to my siblings.

Now that I am married, I realize the wisdom in this kind of friendship for young people who want to pursue a relationship but have several years before they can get married. It is wise for several reasons.

1. My spouse is a part of the family - Because my husband had to spend time with the family to get to know me, he truly is a part of my family. No one felt like he was taking me away from them because they love him like a brother. He spent a lot of time over at our house and we all got to know one another. My family got to see his character first hand and he got to become a part of the family.

2. It put the brakes on the relationship - This guided friendship slowed the process down. We did not get married for two and a half years. Not being allowed to spend a lot of time alone helped us to be pure since it was going to be a long time before we could even think about getting married.

3. There wasn’t a lot of pressure on getting married - I think the problem with courting is that it can put unnecessary pressure on the idea of getting married. You don’t know this person, you need someway to get to know them. But dating can be a bit casual and often unsupervised.  Granted, we definitely did date a year or so down the road. But it was after my family had gotten to know him and we had decided the relationship was something that we wanted to move forward with. (Please note that I am not saying that dating or courting is wrong. There is a time and a place for both of these things. It is between you guys, your parents, and the Lord to decide what to do).

4. It set a good foundation for our marriage - By the time we got married, we were really good friends. We had spent a lot of time hanging out in groups and with my family. We served together, talked together, and worked through differences together. It set great patterns for our marriage.

5. If we had broken up, we would not have had regrets - Since our friendship was guided (I am purposefully saying guided not supervised. I don’t want you to get the idea that they were hanging over our every move) and purposeful, we were prevented from doing anything that we would have regretted if we had broken up. There was nothing that would have damaged a future friendship. Sure, it would have been awkward, but it spared us from a lot of regrets.

I am thankful for parents who were purposeful about our relationship. They wanted to see us have healthy, Christ-centered relationships that were appropriate for our age and situation.

 

07-29-2014

Your First Priority

I love to study what the Greek words mean in a particular passage. I love digging a little bit deeper and understanding what each words means. I use Bible Hub to look at the definitions, since my personal study of Greek is pretty limited. This week I have been pouring over James 1:2.

Priority

One of my favorite hymns.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.

Considercoming first in one’s priority; the leading thought in one’s mind.

In the midst of a trial, we have to work hard to keep joy as our first priority. It is so easy to focus on the pain and on what you are feeling. But we need to purpose to focus on joy.

Joygrace recognized.

I love this definition of this word. Often we think of joy as being happiness, but it is deeper than that. It is a correct understanding of what God’s grace is. When we correctly understand the grace of God, often happiness will follow behind.

Encounterliterally are surrounded by.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes it feels like we are surrounded at all sides by difficult things. They constantly bombard us.

Trialstesting or temptation; affliction.

This is anything that you are suffering through – physical, spiritual, mental.

If we put that all together, it would look like:

The key to enduring through trials is keeping God’s grace in the front of your mind. Trials refine our faith and produce spiritual endurance. Time after time we must discipline ourselves to remember God’s goodness and God’s promises.

When we have a correct focus, it enables us to say that, whatever our lot, it is well with our soul.

07-25-2014

Why Gender Matters to You

gendermatters

1. God created it.

Gender is something God established. Yesterday, I talked about some of the theological basis behind gender. If gender is something that God put in place, then it is something that should be important to us. He created it for a specific reason. Gender helps us understand God and the Gospel better.

2. Satan wants to destroy it.

Satan wants to destroy anything that points to God and anything that helps us to know God more. Satan wants to blur the lines. He wants to make wrong look right. He wants us to not bat an eye at sin. He wants it to become normal.

3. It is a huge testimony. 

Because it is something God created and Satan wants to destroy, when we uphold gender it is a testimony to a watching world. Does this mean that you have to go out a wear a dress every day if you are a girl? No, of course not. That is something that is dependent upon culture. But it does mean that you need to live according to the principles that God has laid out for men and women in Scripture.

Women, you are to: 

  • Fear the Lord. Proverbs 31:30
  • Be reverent. Titus 2:3
  • Be disciplers. Titus 2:3 -4
  • Love your husband and children. Titus 2:4
  • Be self-controlled. Titus 2:5
  • Be pure. Titus 2:5
  • Be a worker at home. Titus 2:5
  • Be kind. Titus 2:5
  • Be submissive. Titus 2:5

Men, you are called to: 

  • Be sober-minded. Titus 2:2
  • Be dignified. Titus 2:2
  • Be self-controlled.  Titus 2:2
  • Be sound in faith. Titus 2:2
  • Be loving. Titus 2:2
  • Be steadfast. Titus 2:2
  • Strive to understand your wives. 1 Peter 3:7
  • Honor women. 1 Peter 3:7

Cultural expectations aside – women are to model modesty, be respectful, and show love for their families.  The men are to have integrity, be sound in their doctrine, and be leaders of their families. If men and women fulfill the gender roles of Scripture, they will be a picture of the Gospel and a defense against the schemes of Satan.

07-24-2014

Gender: A Picture of God and the Gospel

gender I can’t get through one day without hearing or reading that something is “sexist.” I watched that funny Youtube video this morning of the father covering the song “Rude” and all the comments were calling him sexist. It seems that everything is affected by this so called “issue.” Even something that is supposed to be lighthearted and funny is discolored by accusations of being sexist.

I am a firm believer in the fact that women are capable, intelligent, and unique. But I am also a firm believer in the fact that God created gender on purpose. It says so in Genesis 1:27, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” It was not an accident. God intended that there be men and women to uniquely display His image.

But why did He create gender? 

1. Gender helps us understand God better. 

Concepts - When the Bible speaks of God, the Father, sending His son to die on the cross, we understand that relationship. We know the love that a father has for his son. We can picture the agony that God must have experienced sending His only child to die. When Jesus says in Matthew how He longs to gather His children under His wings like a mother hen gathers her chicks, we understand the tender protectiveness of a mother. Gender helps our finite minds understand deep theological concepts.

Companionship - Gender also helps us understand the Trinity better.God is not a solitary ruler, but interacts with the Son and the Holy Spirit. “Let us make man in our image,” He states in Genesis chapter one. Companionship is the relationship that exists between people. God is a relational being.  He is not distant or private. That is evidenced in the fact that He even created people to have a relationship with. Not only this, but He communicates on a personal level with them. Humans are also social creatures with the desire to be with other people. The woman mirrors God’s quality of and capacity for companionship by having a relationship with the man. Besides a relationship with her Heavenly Father, this is the deepest kind of companionship that a woman can have.

Creativity - God did not have to make men and women. But that fact that He chose to displays His creativity. His diversity is shown through the wide variety of different appearances and personalities that He has fashioned. “Fearfully and wonderfully,” He has formed everyone inside and out. He has made both males and females with abilities to create, to think, to have joy, and to appreciate beauty all to parallel Himself.

2. Gender helps us understand the Gospel better. 

We always say that marriage is picture of the Gospel, but why is that?

Covenant - As Christ made a covenant with the church, so does a husband and a wife. This covenant reflects the choice to love someone even though they are unworthy and selfish. Ephesians 5 discloses how Christ gave up everything for His bride and seeks to nourish and cherish her despite her failures to love Christ in return. Husbands are called to likewise love their wives in this selfless manner. Conversely, as the church humbly serves the Lord, so a wife humbly serves her husband.

Consummation - In Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth, Wayne Grudem talks about God’s gift of sex within marriage. He says how sexuality is a specific expression of equality, difference, and unity. The couple has equality through what Christ has done on the cross, but their bodies are different in order for them to accomplish the distinctive purposes that He has for them. Through marriage God unites two equal but different people to work together to bring Him glory.

Mary Kassian says that the reason for sex within marriage is to tell a story. It is to tell the story of manhood, womanhood, marriage, and Christ’s bride, the church. Joyous and intimate, the act of sex within marriage describes how wonderful Christ’s wedding and union with His bride will be. This joy can only take place within a covenant. The union is fulfilled after the legal covenant is completed.

Marriage is a symbolic of the covenant that Christ has with the church. It helps us to understand the church’s relationship with Christ and the joy that we can anticipate when Christ returns for His bride.

Friends, I know that this was a long blog post. It was a 12 page college research paper at one point! But I wanted to share this with you today because I long that you understand the importance of gender – how it helps our limited minds understand God and the Gospel better. I pray that instead of abolishing gender, we celebrate it as a beautiful picture of God and the Gospel.

07-23-2014

Before Devotions

Devotions Before my devotions, there is a small section of Psalm 119 that I have been pouring over ever since a pastor at my church spoke on it a couple of weeks ago. I have been praying it every morning – asking the Lord to reveal His word and to help me learn it.

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes. And I shall observe it to the end.

Matthew Henry comments, “Teach me thy statutes, not the mere words, but the way of applying them to myself.” The psalmist desires that the words penetrate his heart and permeate his actions in a permanent way. 

Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law and keep it with all my heart. 

Without the work of the Holy Spirit, we cannot understand God’s Word let alone keep it. May we pray earnestly for a mind to discern God’s commands and a tender heart that will whole-heartedly obey.

Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it.

This reminds me of the hymn line, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.” How prone we are to wander away from the very God we claim to love! I pray that the Lord makes me walk in His ways, that He literally marches me down the path of holiness. I am so apt to stray, may He keep His hand upon me so that I keep His commands.

Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to dishonest gain. 

I read that the word for incline here means to bend or stretch. May the Lord change my natural bent to sinfulness toward holiness. May He transform my heart to be inclined to obey and please Him.

Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, and revive me in Your ways. 

Hebrews 12:1 –  Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Establish Your word to Your servant, as that which produces reverence for You.

Only when we have a true understanding of who God is, as revealed in His Word, can we give Him the honor that He deserves. As we grow in knowledge of Him, so does our reverence.

Turn away my reproach which I dread, for Your ordinances are good. 

Commentators disagree on what this verse means, whether it is the reproach that comes from sinning or the reproach that comes from evil men when you obey God’s commands. One commentary said something that I thought was interesting that this was a prayer to keep from the reproach that comes from an inconsistent life. He said, “Our hope of freedom from the reproach of inconsistency is in God’s power, quickening us to live according to His Word, which He leads us to love.”

Behold, I long for Your precepts, revive me through Your righteousness.

I pray that I have a heart like this, one that longs for God’s Word.

I encourage you to read through Psalm 119:33-40 before you have your devotions. Pray that you will learn to apply God’s Word, understand it, walk according to it, that He will change your heart toward it, remove distractions to it, grow your reverence for it, and help you to be consistent in your reading of it.

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