Posts Tagged ‘family’

If you are in the Charlotte area, I would love to meet you! I’ll be speaking at the SES Women’s Conference on May 15th. Click on the link to view the brochure! See you soon!

2010_SES_womens_conf_broch[1]

I am sometimes jealous of my Messianic Jewish friends. Many have been trained in the age’s old traditions of the Torah, Mishnah and Gemara which grants them eyes to see the gospel in a light I can only gain through hours of study. Jesus referenced these traditions in many illustrations and by gaining an understanding of the biblical history we can glean deeper insight to his message. One of the oft used traditions used in scripture is that of marriage.

Our Messiah describes the kingdom of heaven as a wedding feast (Mt. 22), the disciples referred to the church as the bride of Christ (Rev. 19:7), and the prophet Jeremiah compared Israel to a faithful bride (Jer. 2:2). The Israelites were a covenant people and, as such, their relationships were governed by legal contracts. One of those critical contracts was a marital contract called the Ketubah (meaning “her writing”).

The ketubah was much more than the marriage license we acquire today to authorize our legal unions. This contract was initiated by the groom obligating him to his bride. The legal document detailed the groom’s responsibilities to his wife including his promise to serve, support and sustain his bride and denying himself for her good. In a culture that predominately viewed women as property, the document accompanied a monetary obligation in the case of a divorce as well. The ketubah elevated the woman to a valued companion in life emphasizing the protection of the wife and her welfare in the Jewish community.

Today the contracts are still written in Aramaic and elaborately decorated on high quality parchment. The ketubah is signed by the groom and two witnesses and preserved by the bride. Tradition held that the bride remained in her father’s house for one year until the wedding, but they were considered man and wife at the signing of the contract. The bride had no conditions or obligations in the contract, but received and held her husband’s commitment as a gift. She only need remain pure until the designated marriage feast at which time the groom would arrive to gather his bride to himself.

There are many parallels we can draw from the ketubah to the gospel message. God’s salvation is granted to believers through no action of the receiver. It is a free gift of grace through faith for those who believe and are betrothed to the bridegroom. Our purity is evidence of our love for Christ. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Rom. 12:1) Believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit until the Day of the Lord when Christ gathers the church to himself as He promised. As one who is betrothed to Christ, the church is set apart for the bridegroom to work together to fulfill the law of Christ, the law of love.

The covenant of marriage is a beautiful model of God’s redemption for a depraved and lost world. Holy matrimony to this day sets apart a man and a woman to fulfill their purpose on earth together as one.  And now, we await eagerly for the return of the Bridegroom. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Luke 13:34-35)

“What is truth?” –Pontius Pilate (~33BC)

Ideas have consequences. It only takes a brief scan of the front page of your local paper or a 60 second sound bite on CNN to confirm this reality. What determines whether our beliefs have ultimately positive or negative consequences? Could it be whether or not our beliefs correspond with reality?

As my children grew older, their insatiable desire for answers grew with their stature. I recalled at 8 years old my own persistent questions drove my mother to schedule weekly sessions for me with the pastor so I could quiz him… and give her a break. The sad thing was that he was ill equipped to answer my simplest questions. “Who made God? How do we know God is real? Why does God send people to hell who never heard of Him?” What is even more tragic is that 30 years later as my children began to ask these same questions, I realized that the church was still grossly ill-equipped to grapple with these issues. So where is a mother to go to find the answers?

 My journey to find answers led me to a study of Christian apologetics and I in turn invested that knowledge into my children. But I am still grieved by the failure of the church to equip members to defend their faith and give a reason for the hope they have. I think things are changing with the emergence of wise men and women welcoming challenges to their faith on the public stage. Conferences are popping up all over the country to educate and equip the faithful, but do conferences effect real change especially for women?

I know that for me as an external student separated from the camaraderie of my peers, my motivation is challenged in the absence of community. Conferences are good for me in that I can mingle with like minded people who are as passionate about equipping the church as I am. But that connection soon fades as everyone goes about the business of building the Kingdom. We are each islands to ourselves, lacking unity and ultimately effecting little change. One challenge I hear repeated by those in the field of apologetics is that it is an uphill battle, not for the faint of heart. But what if we all banned together creating a unified network focused on meeting the challenge at the grass roots level?

 The effort to equip the church with the tools to defend the faith has up to now been largely a top to bottom effort. We offer conferences, write books, speak to large audiences to get the information in the hands of the church, but is real discipleship accomplished in mass or in person? If those involved in the Christian Apologetics movement are really serious about equipping mothers raising up the next generation, they needs to offer community and one-on-one (or one-on-few) discipleship. When the church successfully equips moms such that they know what they believe and why, then our children will have a faith built on rock.

 The latest studies are showing that children raised in Christian homes are not losing their faith in college as previously believed; they are losing their faith in 7th and 8th grade when they are still in our homes. Our children need to know that the Christian faith corresponds with reality so that, when they do leave our homes, they know what they believe and why. It is the mother who speaks truth into her children everyday who will one day see her children “rise up and call her blessed.” Proverbs 31:28  When the women of the church are well prepared to answer the tough challenges to their faith, we can change the world.

 I have been alone with my thoughts more than I care to be. This reminds me of a scene in The Mirror Has Two Faces where Lauren Bacall (playing Barbara Streisand’s mother) after a sleepless night comments to her middle aged daughter, “It’s awful to leave a woman my age alone with her thoughts.” The inference to age aside, I am realizing that when left alone I seem to default to fault-finding introspection.

I have more time on my hands recently since I am between Seminary courses right now. I love my classes, although I no longer enjoy the camaraderie of my peers now that we moved half-way across the country from my school…again. Southern Evangelical Seminary is my third college to attend because we have moved so much due to my husband’s career. I have 110 hours toward a business degree and am about 11 courses short of completing my Biblical Studies degree. Studying as an external student is isolating, almost as much, I remember, as being a stay-at-home mother of four preschoolers.

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I LOVE learning! I have over 600 books on my computer (many are reference books), but I could read a book every day for 200 years and still never satisfy my insatiable appetite for knowledge. Makes me sound smart and perhaps in some circles I am, but the more I learn, the more pitifully inadequate I become.

I say all this to culminate with this confession; I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Sounds juvenile and pathetic, I know. And I am quite embarrassed at the acknowledgment of said fact; however, this undeniable observation is the elephant in the warehouse of my thoughts. I have been a stay-at-home mom for 15 years now, and, by God’s grace, I do not have to work. This I recognize as a beautiful blessing, as I am unhindered to fully invest in my family. But still, a small part of me wants to do more—to be more. And that small part is getting louder with every day that passes.

Is this the equivalent of my husband’s mid-life crises? I hope not, because we don’t have enough room for all of Jim’s accumulated toys in the garage for me to add to the stash. I do sense an emerging desire to DO something rather than HAVE something. Everywhere we have lived, God has placed successful Christian writers and speakers in my life and many have encouraged me to pursue the same occupation. I have considered this many times, but (and here is the darkest thought that keeps occupying my mind)… I am NOBODY. I fully believe that I have nothing of value that would be of any help to anyone.

But maybe that is not an ominous thought after all…

Maybe it is essential for a simple clay pot to realize it is a simple clay pot. Apart from Christ I am nobody and can do nothing of eternal value, and perhaps that is the most proficient knowledge of all. To be content as a clay pot is liberating, to be satisfied as a clay pot is condemning. So I shall feast my mind’s eye on this: Let every breath glorify my Savior even if my service never seems to reach beyond the four walls of our home.

I foolishly believed that enduring a plethora of humiliations at Walmart at the less than stellar behavior of my children, that I have emerged a humble woman. But, no, I could still be accused of secretly desiring glory for myself. While there may be some substance to that accusation, I really just want the approval of my Father. I just want to please Him and I think we all make the mistake of confusing the praises of the world as the praises of the Father.

God can be glorified whether I am scrubbing toilets, teaching a precept to my son at the dinner table, reigning on the Best Seller list, or speaking before an audience of thousands. Loving the Lord faithfully should consume my thoughts and my actions even when no one is watching. I may never enjoy the praises of the world, and I can be content with that. I would much prefer the praises of my Father.  My purpose is not to draw attention to myself, but to draw the attention of others to Christ. Perhaps one day something eternally exquisite will arise from the confines of this simple earthen vessel. When that day comes, to God be the glory!

  14     What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15     If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16     and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17     Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18     But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” Jas 2:14-18.

One cannot have faith without works anymore than one can have love without mercy. Why do you get up in the morning?  Because the baby is crying? Because someone has to pay the bills?  Because you have a “to-do” list the length of your arm? When love motivates me, my whole attitude changes. The day is no longer about what I have to do, but what I get to do. I get to serve my family, I get to provide for my family, I get to breathe another day.  Faith and works, mercy and love all produced by grace bring glory to God. Make Lamentations 3:22-24 your prayer today and let Him be the reason you get up in the morning.

  22     The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. 23     They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24     “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” La 3:22-24.