walking with Christ: uncertainty wrapped within total security

I’m learning to love the uncertainty that’s wrapped within total security and certainty.

Sounds crazy, right? But that’s what faith is all about. And faith is what enables us to walk with Christ. I said that in an e-mail to a friend the other day and after I reread what I had written, I realized that it is a perfect description of my relationship with Christ. The only light I have is the light I’m given. The only revelation I have is what’s been revealed. We see only because we are given sight. Everything is unknown and everything is uncertain except for the fact that all of that is unimportant and meaningless because I’m carried by sovereign grace.

Funny how God uses random things to speak to us very clearly, right when we least expect it. I read an article today that totally hit home:

http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0002224.cfm

Think about this dialog for a minute and let the meaning sink in –

“‘I’d say you’re wrestling with God.’

‘What?’

‘Brother, God’s ways are beyond us,’ said Pablo. ‘So when He lets hurt into our lives, we have to revise our opinion of the nice Man Upstairs who just wants us to be happy.’

‘That’s not what I think about God —’

‘Well, you’re pretty ticked about this one —’

‘Because I thought God was good,” spat Andrew. “And there’s not much ‘good’ in losing the girl I thought I was gonna marry.’

‘So the Lord’s only good when you get what you want?’

‘No, but a good God wouldn’t — lie to me, OK? I really believe He said —’

‘Brother, before you call Him a liar —’

‘Fine, then I have no ability to understand His will for me. And that’s almost as bad.’

Pablo sighed heavily. ‘Brother, we can talk about God’s will,” he said. “But that’s not the real issue here. Are you willing to wrestle with God — to stay with Him until you know Him more; to figure out what He’s doing? Or are you going to run because He doesn’t fit your ideas?'”

To me, that says that if I keep searching, chasing, and running after truth, truth will be revealed. And we need it to be revealed because something C.S. Lewis said is very true – “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important. ” Similarly, Scriptural doctrine is of infinite importance… it’s worth wrestling with God to know Him in a more intimate way.

Isaiah 42:16 is a remarkable promise: “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are things I will do; I will not forsake them.”

We can never be forsaken!

Women and the Church, Part II

Excerpts from “The Woman of Valor” by Josh Harris (all emphasis mine):

“Women when you read this passage [Proverbs 31], you need to read it with humility and with faith. Humility in understanding that it’s not all about you and that He is already aware of your deficiencies. And read it with faith, believing that God has good for you in His Word. And there’s joy and blessing that comes as you study His Word. The question I encourage you to ask when you study this passage is ‘What does God want to accomplish through this passage in me?'”

“Proverbs 31 is not a demanding description of every characteristic you should perfectly embody. No, it is a joyful celebration of womanly excellence. Resourcefulness and skill.”

“Proverbs 31 is not a list of all the household chores a woman has to do. It’s a description of what wisdom in motion looks like in the life of a Godly woman… This is what knowing and loving God unleashes in the life of a woman: diligence, service, creativity, boldness, and influence.”

“This woman exemplifies competent strength and these are qualities that every woman, married or single can seek to cultivate… There’s nothing wilting in this description. This is a strong woman. We see that womanhood, according to God’s word, can and should be strong, even valiant. This word valiant means courageous and determined and you sense that as you look at her life – she is throwing herself into different activities.”

Four Characteristics of a Godly Woman:

1. She fears the Lord (Prov. 31:30) – “this is the most vital, essential thing to know about the Godly woman. It’s the key thing that holds up everything else about her – she has placed God at the center point of her life.” She stands in awe of God.

2. She gives her life away (Prov. 31:12, 15, 18, 20) – Proverbs 31 honors a woman who lives an 0thers-centered life. “The point of Godly womanhood is not about a list of activities… it’s all about your heart before God and your motivation for doing them.”

3. She is capable (Prov. 31:13, 14, 26) – She has cultivated skills and has worked to develop these capabilities. This chapter shows the fruit of her faithfulness over the years – this chapter doesn’t show her failures, but definitely occurred over the course of her lifetime.

4. She is influential (Prov. 31:28) – Proverbs 31 shows us a woman who has incredible power – she exerts an amazing influence on the world around her.

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So, the take away?

Well – firstly, be encouraged – God made women with purpose, something I have to sometimes continuously keep in mind. It’s easy to become discouraged, disillusioned, and angry because of the verses we find regarding women in Scripture. But actually, we have a very vital role to play (despite the confusion regarding what that actually looks like in the local Church). We’re half of an amazing, God-ordained partnership – necessary and irreplaceable in the covenant relationship of marriage that God has ordained.

Genesis 2:20-24: “But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23Then the man said,

‘This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.’

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

(and that point will be an entirely different post at some point because I have a remarkable book on the topic of what it means to be a “helper” or “helpmeet” based on the Hebrew word)

Secondly, as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” These verses are FOR us… for our sanctification and maturity in Christ. They’re not to constrain us – they’re to bring us joy.

Our job is to do what Josh Harris suggests above – ask ‘What does God want to accomplish through this passage in me?’ Beg the Holy Spirit to make passages such as 1 Corinthians 14:34-5, Titus 2:3-6, and 1 Timothy 2:11-15 clear to you. I know that’s what I’m doing… I can’t even begin to make complete sense of the combination above on my own, so today I’m trusting that God’s sovereignty will prevail and that He will make His will and purposes for the above Scripture clear to me. As long as I’m striving to walk in humility and seek truth in Scripture, I’m on the right path.

Women and the Church

So, on to another step in my journey of theological discovery: The Role of Women in the local Church

http://www.covlife.org/resources/3499575-The_Woman_of_Valor

This is definitely one of the best sermons I’ve ever heard on Proverbs 31 and I’m revisiting it today in effort to really understand God’s heart toward women and our role in the body of Christ and the local Church.

Since the Proverbs 31 woman is always extolled as being – the – example of a Godly woman, one who fears the Lord, honors the spiritual authority in her life, and is who we should want to be like, it stands to reason we should start with her.

Join me!

Character Close Up: Mary, the mother of Jesus

Happy New Year! It’s a new year and I haven’t blogged in far too long, so I have a lot of writing to catch up on. Although I haven’t done the customary “New Year’s post” yet, I want to jump right into a series of posts I’ve been thinking of writing on different people seen in Scripture who embody character traits I want to develop in my own life this year. I think it’s a good way to set a path for spiritual growth this year and I hope that the Lord will cultivate the strength of character in me that I see in these men and women of the Bible.

This holiday season I found myself thinking about Mary, the mother of Jesus, a lot. Maybe it’s because Dad always reads Luke 2 before we open our gifts on Christmas morning. Or maybe it’s because every time I encounter her in Scripture, I see a young woman with inexplicable faith in the face of impossibility and unfailing trust in the word of the Lord. She’s obviously favored by the Lord and entrusted with a precious gift – the Savior of all mankind – to carry, give birth to, and raise in the ways of the Lord. And she doesn’t balk. She doesn’t run from change. She isn’t embittered by the responsibility given her or the sacrifice required. She does question (thankfully, because if I had to stop questioning everything, I’d probably fail miserably) – but at the word of the angel, she’s willing to lay down her plans, dreams, reputation, and even her relationship with Joseph to be obedient. She was always willing to follow (she understands spiritual leadership) – she left her home and followed Joseph to Bethlehem (Luke 2:4-5), then Egypt (Matthew 2:13), and then to Nazareth (Matthew 2:19-23).

Just thinking about that gives me chills. I honestly can’t imagine being called to do such a thing. At the same time, we’re each called to follow the Holy Spirit, and while we won’t be asked to raise the King, it’s likely that we’ll each, at some point in our lives, be asked to the do impossible (at least in the natural realm). And when asked, I want to respond as Mary did. As believers we’re all called to do exactly as she did – Jesus himself said so in Matthew 10:37-39 –

“37 If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. 38 If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. 39 If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it” (emphasis mine).

Two of my favorite verses about Mary are found in Luke.

Luke 1:38 “Mary responded, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”

Luke 2:19 “but Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Thankfully, Mary wasn’t perfect. She questioned Gabriel (Luke 1:34), was upset with Jesus when he wandered off as a child (Luke 2:48), demanded the attention of Jesus while he was busy ministering (Luke 8:19), asked Jesus to perform a miracle just because a wedding ran out of wine (John 2:3), and probably was a typical woman in many ways. Despite this, her life is an incredible example of one lived in obedience to the Holy Spirit.

Three things I think I can learn from Mary are 1.) to be available to be used by God (and to hold everything in life – even my life itself – with open hands by remaining willing to give up everything at any time), 2.) to be responsive and obedient to the Holy Spirit, and 3.) to firmly hold onto God’s promises.