selfishness

Don’t be duped

The more I understand about feminism, whether it’s 1st, 2nd, or 3rd wave, the more obvious it becomes that it’s not compatible with God’s idea of femininity; nor is it actually about equality.  And when we’re raised in a culture saturated with a particular idea, it’s bound to permeate some of our views without us realizing it.

To see if a belief you have is rooted in feminism, you just have to contrast it to a principle that Jesus teaches, and see where it leads.  He tells us to use our whole minds in the course of loving him – perhaps part of the reason is so we don’t get duped like the small minded, weak-natured and spiritually dwarfed women that Paul wrote about.

Here’s an example of a feminist perspective that, in the past, would’ve appealed to my flesh and fed my victim mentality:

Generally, when writers write, they have a main idea called the topic sentence and they surround it with supporting sentences.  It’s the primary message an author wants to convey to the reader.

BUT, when it comes to the visual messages we find in images or memes, you don’t always plainly see what the creator of the message is actually conveying – there’s no topic sentence.  What you see are the supporting sentences.  Usually presented in a vein that’s catchy, rhyming, romantic or utopian – these are more like sound bites directed at the emotions.

This meme is really about  MEquality

It resonates with romantic feelings of freedom, independence and courage; while the undercurrent belies a truly immature definition of love.  Her claim is actually very self-centered.  It’s an outgoing sentiment that would be better spoken from her man to her or about her  – like in Proverbs 31, when the husband brags about his wife, “Baby, you rock!” (verse 28-29 – paraphrased).

– but what really ramps up the toxic, is the disguise.  It appears that her man is the object of her affection; that he’s the subject of her compliments.  But as you read through, it becomes clearer and clearer that her focus is on what she gets from the relationship.  She’s the focus – not him.

Could the Church say this of Christ?

Doubtful.  I think Christ wants to change and renew His bride; He wants her to grow up by, sanctifying her, by cleansing her by the washing of water with the word, to present her to Himself in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing, … she will be holy and blameless. (Eph 5:26-27)

Could the Apostles, who were the first members of The Church (and our example of how to relate in marriage) ever say this of Jesus? I don’t think so. He was training, discipling and even correcting them!  Christ found their behavior unacceptable.  Yes, He loved them unconditionally – but that didn’t mean He was going to leave them in the condition He found them in, rather; He was going to begin the process of changing everything about them through transformation by renewing […]. (Rom 12:2)

It’s more blessed to give compliments than to take them

A meme that would really uplift your man would read more like this:

It truly compliments my husband’s qualities, makes his abilities shine.  I’m able to do my part as a wife better because of him.  You can see the difference in the two mindsets by pressing both of them up against the verse, Acts 20:35; we’re reminded that, it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Guard your heart with vigilance

Living in the information age means we intake a lot of diverse data, and sometimes it’s tough to see just how anti-marriage (and anti-God) some of the relationship information is.  This meme might seem insignificant but that’s how it starts – one little meme, then another, and another – and before long you’re thinking, “Our marriage would be better if he would love me without restrictions — if he would listen to what I say and trust meMy life would flow easier if he would just let ME be exactly the way I am and want to be.”

And before you know it, all the problems in your life and marriage are because of your husband.  Nothing’s your fault, you don’t need to change anything – it’s him that needs to change.

The message of self-focus in this meme is actually pretty unhealthy for a wife to consider:

  • That the love she’s receiving has more value than learning to give love without restriction.  ~Titus 2:3-5
  • That the trust she receives has more value than learning to fearlessly give the gift of trust.  ~1 Peter 3:6
  • That the unconditional acceptance she receives has more value than learning to give unconditional acceptance without making demands. ~Ephesians 5:33

We’ve got to guard against little things that appear innocuous, but separate us from our husbands when they’re added up.  We need to trust David’s advice and refuse to take a second look at corrupting and degrading things. Of course, we are going to have deadly information come into our field of vision, we’re living in the world – but that doesn’t mean we have to focus on it and let it corrupt the view of our husbands.

If what you read, doesn’t lead you to give away the grace that Christ gave you, then it’s leading you to hold it just for yourself.  C.S. Lewis rounds it out nicely when he says,  “There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inchevery split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.”

A 21st century paraphrase might read: There is no neutral ground in the information age:  Every book you read; every meme, illustration, song and movie you hear and see; every split second on a screen, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.  There’s no fence sitting, the Kingdom of God is either being advanced in you or you’re working to counterclaim it with Satan.

SOUL-ution

  • Don’t just believe it:  Know what it is, why and how you came to believe it and who lead you to it.
  • The grace of Christ is always the litmus test:  Does it lead you to give it or take it?
  • Do look to culture!  Sounds weird I know, but it’s a good place to start examination.  Although we might say, “I belong to Christ” – Do we look like Him or the current culture that surrounds us? Do we walk the talk of the world? Do our views conveniently couple alongside the world?

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Thoughts are the compass of your life

 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. As one who reckons, he says to you, eat and drink, yet his heart is not with you [but is grudging the cost]. ~Proverbs 23:7

Just like the selfish person progressed in the direction of their thought pattern, we also will move in the direction of our own thoughts.  Happy thoughts progress towards better and miserable towards worse.

Nagging

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… the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping.

… better to dwell in a corner of the housetop [on the flat oriental roof, exposed to all kinds of weather] than in a house shared with a nagging, quarrelsome, and faultfinding woman.

… better to dwell in a desert land than with a contentious woman and with vexation.

… better to dwell in the corner of the housetop than to share a house with a disagreeing, quarrelsome, and scolding woman.

True, it’s hard to hear, but God told us for a reason.  I’m guessing it does more damage than we realize.  Nagging is hurtful to your husband’s ears and toxic to your marriage.  And probably doesn’t make God too happy either.

~   Let’s not be like that   ~

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Love covers

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… love covers  (1 Peter 4:8)

… He clothed them (Gen 3:21)

… they covered him  (Gen 9:23)

One of the things I love about God is that He never just says, Do this rule.  He always demonstrates a clear model to follow. To me, He is the forerunner of what it means to cover an offense with love.

HIDING SIN?

God was the first to sacrifice in the name of love in order to cover the sin of another.  He loved all His creation yet He sacrificed His own creatures so He could cover Adam and Eve’s offence.  It must have been hard, but that’s what love does.

And who was He hiding their sin from?  Obviously not Himself, maybe Satan?  Although Satan was aware of getting them to disobey God, I’m not sure he understood the full ramifications of what he had just set in motion, but that’s another post.  Perhaps it was from Adam and Eve themselves?

It wasn’t to “hide” in a fearful deceptive way, like Adam and Eve did with the leaves right after they disobeyed.  There is nothing anyone can hide from God, He knows all, is all, sees all.  But when God covered them, that was something completely different, it was done with a pure heart.  It was done for them.

Covering is for love

After Noah and the gang disembarked and were safely moving on with their lives on dry land, there was cause for celebration for sure!  Having come from a long line of weekend-warrior alcoholics, I know what a blindingly drunk party looks like and the numbing affect it has on the senses.

I don’t think it was a one-time event in Noah’s life; he was a drinker.  That’s how his two older sons knew immediately what to do when the youngest son was disrespectful.  Shem and Japheth showed love for Noah by covering him when he was unable, to do it himself, because of sin.

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It wasn’t so much about modesty as it was about demonstrating love through respecting their father.  Ham choose to expose the sin; he chose wrong.

Love covered my sin

Sometimes, sadly, our first response isn’t to reciprocate what God did for us — what Jesus did for us — what Shem and Japheth did for Noah:  To cover.  Too often we’re like Ham, we want to point out the sin and expose it.

It’s not that we don’t need help.  On occasion, marriage is hard and sometimes we do need a voice of reason.  But if we are intellectually honest with ourselves, not in most cases.  In most cases, it’s a matter of, I don’t think you’re doing it right; my way is right, you’re wrong.  You need to change.

Our first response is to reveal what our husbands have done and that makes us wrong on three counts.  First:  We are more concerned about ourselves than our husbands.  Second:  We are complaining out of inconvenience to our own lives.  And third, we just think we are better than them because we can see their sin and offences and we think theirs is worse than ours.

Because of selfishness we miss the whole point.  The purpose of putting on God’s covering of love isn’t primarily for self, it’s for others.

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We wear the covering of love because that’s what Jesus did for us.  He covers my sin so that I may come boldly before God.  If I’m being continually remade into Christ’s image, I’ll behave more and more like Him.  So shouldn’t I want to try and cover in the name of love, like He did?

WHY?  Why cover it up?

The covering of love doesn’t pretend the sin isn’t real, nor does it take away our flaws, it just hides them from all-out exposure to everyone else.

… Except God.

Now God is left alone with the person and the problem, to work quietly and to completely heal their heart.  It’s only God who can really tell* what needs changing, healing or to be left alone.   And no one wants the ugliness inside them exposed for everyone to see.  Most of us just close off when there’s a threat of exposure, including shutting out God.

My job?  To cover as the process is happening.  Jesus doesn’t cover my sin with His blood to hide it from God so I can slip into heaven with it.  Jesus covers to make it private:  Just between me and God.  This is where my salvation is worked out, privately under the cover of love.

As wives, we have the distinction of being invited to work co-operatively with God as we cover in love.  So I’m left with a question.  Am I going to be like Ham and expose sin and flaws to others (sidenote: like Satan the accuser of the brethren**).  Or, will I choose to cover like Shem and Japheth?

God places the onus on me to figure out the difference.  In this responsibility, I get to see who I really am by discovering the real motive in my heart.  Why do I want to expose his flaws?  Or, why do I want to cover his flaws?

It’s tricky ground for sure.  Navigating the steps on the soil of our own hearts.

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* (Jeremiah 17:10;  Psalm 139:1-4;  Romans 8:27)

**(Zechariah 3:1;  Revelations 12:10)

 

 

The Grand Design of Marriage

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I’ve heard it said that the main purpose of marriage is to drive us closer to Christ.  And although that sounds like an epic and beautiful sentiment, I don’t see how I can get any closer to Christ than His presence inside me.  Also, what about the people not married yet, or the ones that never marry?  With this application that would mean they don’t get driven closer to Christ?  No, that can’t be right.

Ok, there is some truth there:  Marriage does maximize pressure on people because they live in close proximity to each other, day in day out.  This pressure in life pushes sin to the surface and in turn, our actions affect those closest to us, but that’s far from being the grand purpose or design of marriage.  Having teenage kids or a difficult roommate, or any number of stressors in life can drive you to seek Christ.

In order to find the main purpose of marriage, we have to be transported beyond our own circumstances into the bigger grander picture.  If we allow this to happen, we quickly learn that it’s not about us at all, but about God and what my marriage says about Him?

There are many positive results and benefits of marriage but the singular reason is that marriage is the demonstration in the natural world of the supernatural unity that Paul calls the mystery of Christ and His church.  The more a marriage mirrors this unity the more it fulfills its grand purpose.  And only then does it become truly beautiful.

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The more I indulge in entitlement at the cost of my spouse, the less I represent God’s unity, making my marriage useless because it’s not fulfilling its intended purpose.

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Loophole

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Loophole:

an error in the way a law, rule, or contract is written that makes it possible for some people to legally avoid obeying it (merriam-webster.com)

I didn’t think of myself as a quitter, but when it came to our marriage I wasn’t so sure anymore.  Marriage had turned out to be more than I bargained for.  It was too hard and I wanted out.  There had to be a way, something I’d overlooked or read wrong that would give me the loophole I wanted.  Little did I know that in my search to get out of our marriage, I had inadvertently started a wrestling match with God.

It was in Matthew 19 that I saw a loophole forming, right there in verse 11:

Not everyone can accept this statement, only those whom God helps. 

And the more I thought about it the clearer it became …only those whom God helps.  Right.  If God was for this marriage it would be easier.  There would be peace.  I began to see hope.  Yes, divorce is a hard process but afterward, life would improve for everyone.  It had to be better than what we were presently experiencing.  I could see my loophole getting larger.

… Until God asked me if I was a eunuch.

Wait?  What? …. A what?

Have You Not Read?

When God asks you a rhetorical question, you just know He’s got your number.  We’ve seen this line of questioning before. Jesus did this with the Pharisees back in verse 4:

Jesus answered, Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female?

… have you not read …?  Obviously, they had read it – they were the religiously educated, Jesus knew that.  Yet, the intent of his question indicates they missed something. … just like I was missing something too.

I missed it because, like the Pharisees, I was looking for something that wasn’t there.  Fishing for an excuse, any excuse to twist God’s Word to my benefit.  Any excuse that says it’s ok to give up on marriage, on a spouse … on a person.

To challenge the Pharisees, Jesus began with an overview from way back in Genesis, as though they really hadn’t read from their own scriptures.  But before He could finish, they interrupted Him with another question.  Then the disciple’s interjected with a comment of their own.

Misfire From Both Sides

On the one side of Jesus, the Pharisees are saying they should be able to break the marriage contract whenever they choose.  And on the other side, the disciples are emphatic about not even venturing into a marriage if it’s going to be a covenant situation.  Both sides had different reasons but both groups were missing the bigger picture in order to avoid doing the hard work that marriage sometimes demands.

First:  The Pharisees want to be able to trade-in for a new partner:  Jesus tells them their focus is all wrong.  Their reasoning is that if they have all their Ts crossed and Is dotted through a contract of divorce, dissolving the marriage along with the contract is clean and tidy: sanitized.  The paperwork is all in order.  But Jesus wants them to look back further than their own relationships, beyond themselves, back to when marriage was established and grasp its original purpose:  Not a contract; rather, a covenant to stay together.  But they won’t have any of it, instead, they shot back in rebuttal:

“If that’s so, why did Moses give instructions for divorce papers and divorce procedures?”

Jesus tried to be a teacher and help them but they resisted with technicalities.  So He responds with more deliberate words, You are the stubborn, hardhearted ones to pursue divorce in the first place.  But if that weren’t enough Jesus pushes back with more, So you want to play hardball with technicalities?  I have a technicality for you.  You thought you could just divorce by saying your spouse cheated so you could find someone better?  It doesn’t work that way.  You want to leave your marriage?  Alright, but you cannot ever get married again because you will only bring your hardheartedness into another marriage.

WOAH-WAH

Apparently, there’s no trading in, or trading off.  Only trading out.  The technicality is too much for them, they got more than they bargained for.  They came out to play Jesus for the fool, but instead He bested them at their own game!  And they just quietly disappear before the end of the chapter.

And then:  The Disciples don’t even want to start without an escape clause.  Jesus recalls Genesis 2 in an effort to draw our attention to the original purpose of the male/female design of creation:  so that they would covenant in marriage.  No escape clause is the whole purpose.  Remaining single because there’s no escape clause goes against the intended design.  The only pure motive for choosing to not marry is to serve God.

At this point in the conversation, Jesus had turned his attention to the disciples and was directly addressing them.  The only people that don’t have the capacity to accept the covenant of marriage are eunuchs, everyone else does.

“Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said, “Only those whom God helps. Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

I wasn’t a eunuch (as God rhetorically reminded me) which put me in the category of everyone else.  It applies to …everyone …else?  I didn’t like that very much.  “God, You’re not actually saying that it does apply to everyone else, are You?  Just that it doesn’t apply to eunuchs.”  OK, that was wrong, I knew it.  I had tried the same trick that Pharisees had: a technicality.

Although there was less confusion about my own heart, I was still disillusioned about our marriage. It didn’t seem fair.  What about him?  Why am I the one with the hard heart towards him?  I could feel God’s hand pull me out of my self-pity pit:  “No, it’s not Darrell you will become hard hearted towards … it’s Me.”

This was my game changer:  It’s not about my spouse and me, but God and me.

Accept it, if you can

If I left our marriage my faith would weaken because I wouldn’t have given God the chance to come through for me.  To demonstrate His power through me … through our marriage.

To leave Darrell would be to not trust God to work out all things in our marriage. Leaving him would also be saying to God that Darrell is such a lost cause that even the Creator of the universe isn’t able to do anything in him.  I would be saying that God is not able to finish the good work He started on our wedding day.

And if I didn’t trust Him in this area of my life, what would be the next area that I would withhold from Him?  And then the next?  God is everything He says or nothing at all.  I don’t get to pick and choose the areas of my life that He gets dominion over.

So.  I’m not a eunuch, clearly.  My only other choice was to seek a divorce with a hard heart towards God.  Or, stay in admittance that Christ’s teaching on marriage was for me to accept.

With that thought, my loophole vanished.

 

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A Woman Ahead of Her Time

Sarah didn’t follow Abraham’s schemes because she was a doormat who believed she had no choice other than to sit in a victim mentality.  She was a woman who was victorious in love and victoriously ahead of her time.  She was living in the dispensation of grace before grace had arrived.

It was her choice.  She already had the freedom to choose, otherwise, Abraham wouldn’t have asked her to decide in his favour.

The World is a system.  It is more a way of thinking than it is a specific activity that takes place outside of a religious venue.

There is a sharp contrast between how the world system operates and how God operates in the spiritual realm.  The peace Jesus refers to in John 14:27 is just one of the examples He uses to draw our attention in order to contrast the two different methods.  Sometimes it gets tricky because the world masquerades as Jesus by appearing as right, righteous or good.  It’s only in the outcome of the benefit that the truth is revealed; am I all for me or am I all for another.

Sarah chose Abraham instead of herself, not just once but twice (see Genesis 12:11-13 & Genesis 20:2).  She trusted God and He protected her.  Her radical faith enabled her to choose grace for her husband, unlike Eve who believed her way was better than Adam’s.  Eve chose self-benefit which lead her to self-trust.  Sarah chose for the benefit of someone else other than herself which lead to deeper trust in God, instead of self.

In Sarah’s choice, she became free.  Free where it really counts.  In Eve’s choice, she became a slave.  She lost the freedom she already possessed and lost it where it really counts.  God has got some fine things to say about Sarah, but all He says about Eve’s character is that she was deceived.

Through feminism, the world tries to tell me I don’t have any freedom and to get it I must choose self over everyone else.  Yet it never actually gives way to any real freedom.  There is only one way to have freedom; true freedom for everyone.  It’s not found in a movement that tells you to take what you think is yours, but in a Person who demonstrated how to give it.

Satan uses the same old strategies in new trendy ways:

                Deception of withholding.  By masquerading as a good choice.  For the illusion of freedom.

Is the old Garden now the new Kingdom?  As the Church grows up in the world could feminism possibly be the one tree in the midst, to not eat from?

Sarah demonstrated how to shift our focus from the debilitating self-centered view that only sees a glass ceiling and instead rise to the top with the true vision of the only corporation that really matters:  Heaven’s hierarchy.

 

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