Why Am I Still So Discontent?

Why am I still so discontent

I recently got this message from someone: “I’m trying really hard right now to embrace singleness as a gift, as you mentioned in your post “Theology of Singleness.” I think it would help ease my mind to know more about the things I will experience in my relationship with God that I would not experience elsewhere, as well as the things that maybe a romantic relationship has that a relationship with God doesn’t (for example, sexual intimacy) and why these things are relatively unimportant or unnecessary when compared to knowing God.”

This reader expresses what many single people feel (or really any person who is longing for a good thing that God continues to say no to): I desperately want to believe God is enough for me, but I am still not convinced that knowing Him is better than marriage.

Why is this? How is it possible to believe that you don’t need marriage or children to be complete, that knowing God is really enough, that in His presence is the fullness of joy, and yet still feel so horrifyingly empty and unsatisfied?

After mulling over this question for a while, I’ve come to one likely conclusion: a low view of sin and therefore a low view of salvation.

My joy in God is directly correlated to how I view my sin. The smaller my sin seems, the less joyful. The greater my sin, the greater my joy.

Continue reading

A Jesus-Heart for Children, Part 3

a jesus heart for children

We have been looking at Biblical womanhood, and specifically what our attitude toward children should be. So far in this last section on children, we’ve covered the following:

I could have ended there and that would be great. But I have often found that there are 2 specific topics that come up a lot as I meet with young women and felt were worth tackling: birth control and child care.

These are sensitive topics for sure, controversial even, and there are many factors that play into every individual’s decision. But too often, these decisions are made from attitudes and motives that have been shaped by our culture. And since it is so normal, we often don’t even notice.

So as we start, let me clarify my goal. I am not trying to create a set of rules, but rather give you a Biblical grid through which to see these issues and the tools to discern the motives of your heart. God is much more concerned about our motives than our actions anyway.

Continue reading

A Jesus-Heart for Children, Part 2

a jesus heart for children

In the last post, we looked at how Jesus responded to children and how we can do the same. Whether or not we have children of our own, we need to cultivate a Biblical response to children.

But what would Jesus have to say to moms? Being a mother entails a whole other level of interaction with children. What can we learn from Jesus to apply to the day-in-day-out routine of motherhood?

YOU CAN’T GIVE WHAT YOU DON’T HAVE

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “ Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

Like no other generation before us, moms today have access to more information and parenting helps than ever. But I’m not sure if that has helped or hindered us. In fact, access to more information has probably created more Marthas, anxious and troubled about many things.

  • What sleep training method should I be doing?
  • What kind of baby food is the best?
  • Is my child getting enough sensory play time?
  • What kind of discipline should I be doing?
  • Are my kid’s friends good influences?
  • Homeschool or public school?
  • Music lessons or dance class?
  • Breast feeding or formula?

These are all good questions to ask, but too often they create anxiety and trouble in our hearts and frantic researching. But Jesus told us Marthas, there is one thing that is necessary. ONE THING.

What is that one thing? Sitting still with Jesus. Cultivating intimacy with Jesus, and a listening heart.

Isn’t this also the one thing we hope to pass on to our children? A desire to know and love Jesus above all else? That one day they would be strong men and women of faith, people who love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, who delight to do His will, and who are serving Him with their whole heart and their whole lives?

But how can we cultivate that if we don’t model it ourselves? We cannot give what we do not have. Let us not be like Martha, frantic and worried with good things and forgetting the best thing. This is the hard part, the things that distract us from Jesus usually aren’t bad. Martha was distracted by “much serving.” Serving is a good thing. But it distracted her from the BEST thing: Knowing Jesus. Being a good parent is a good thing and it can easily distract us from the best thing.

Continue reading

A Jesus-Heart for Children, Part 1

a jesus heart for children

This is the last installment in a series on Biblical womanhood. I hope that whether or not you are a mom, you will take the time to read this post. All of us at all seasons of life encounter children. They might be your own, or a friends’, or nieces and nephews, or your neighbor’s kids. So it is important that we have a Biblically-informed view on them.

And while I think a Biblical view of children is important for all believers, it is especially important for women. Our very bodies are designed to care for children: our womb to be the first home a child has and our breasts the first source of nourishment they ever receive. Whether we ever have the privilege to have children, God has wired women to be nurturers.

CHILDREN ARE AN INCONVENIENCE: The common attitude.

Unfortunately, the pervasive attitude about children is that they are an inconvenience. Below are a few birth control ads that expose this view.

BirthControlAd   birthcontrolad1

motherhood pic   thisismybabyad

What’s the message? That children equal gaining 30 pounds, giving up on your dreams, being less awesome, and not living life your way. Children get in the way of your plans for you.

An increasingly sexually active culture has fueled this attitude. Years ago, pregnancy was the normal and expected outcome of being sexually active. But thanks to birth control and abortion, children are now only an optional result of sex. The push to divorce pregnancy from sex is happening to appease a shamelessly self-centered lifestyle. Rather than a joyous moment, a positive pregnancy test is often received with fear as if it were a curse, a disease, or a punishment.

Continue reading

A Wife After God’s Own Heart, Part 2

a wife after God's own heart

As man’s power over woman is restrained by love, woman’s power over man is restrained by submission. Any woman knows that she has ways of getting her own way. These must be restrained. The kind of restraint God asks of her is submission. -Elisabeth Elliot

As wives, we have influence over our husbands but too often we use that power in self-centered ways, manipulating to get what we want when we want it. But to be a woman after God’s own heart is to think first and foremost about God and His Kingdom, then about others, and lastly about ourselves. So how can we grow to have that heart within our marriages? By learning to walk in the 3 clear commands God has given us to refine our influence in our marriages: help, submit, and respect.

In part 1, we discussed what it means to be a helper to our husbands. Please go back and read it if you haven’t yet as it sets the tone for the other two commands.

So now let’s move on to submission.

SUBMIT

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Ephesians 5:22-24

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.  1 Pet 3:1-2

Submission Defined

Submission is not just for wives. The concept to subjecting yourself to an authority is showcased in many arenas throughout the Bible: young men submit to elders, servants to masters, children to parents, and everyone is to submit to government, rulers and authorities, and to one another.

Submission simply means to operate under authority and have a disposition to yield to that authority. John Piper defines submission “not in terms of specific behaviors, but as a disposition to yield to the husband’s authority and an inclination to follow his leadership. It is a disposition rather than a set of behaviors or roles because mature femininity will express itself in so many different ways depending on the situation.” I agree with Piper that submission is much more an attitude than a set of behaviors.

Biblically, your husband holds a position and a rank over you. This is not due to his merit, his skill, or his personality. It is simply because God ordained men to be the authority in a marriage. A refusal to submit to a husband is a refusal to submit to God, since it was He who gave the command.

The mature woman acknowledges that submission is the will of God for her, and obedience to this will is no more a sign of weakness in her than it was in the Son of Man when He said, “Not my will but yours be done.” – Elisabeth Elliot

Continue reading

A Wife After God’s Own Heart, Part 1

a wife after God's own heart

Remember how we discussed that women are meant to be influencers? There’s no easier place to see this than in marriage. Wives, whether you realize it or not, you have likely become a skilled influencer of your husband. It is second nature for women to use subtlety, nuance, and timing to encourage the changes we want to see in our men. But unfortunately most of us use this skill set selfishly, manipulating to get what we want. God is aware of this bent within us (in fact He designed it!) and has intended for us to use it for the Kingdom of God and the good of our husbands, even at our expense.

To help us refine our skill of influencing, God has given 3 very clear and specific commands to wives: help, submit, respect.

Not the answer we usually want, that’s for sure. These are usually the last 3 things we want to do in relation to our husbands, but without these, we will never see our husbands flourish through our influence. I love the way Elisabeth Elliot put this concept:

“As man’s power over woman is restrained by love, woman’s power over man is restrained by submission. Any woman knows that she has ways of getting her own way. These must be restrained. The kind of restraint God asks of her is submission.”

So let’s unpack these commands to help, submit, and respect, one at a time.

HELP

“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” (Gen 2:18, 22, 24)

Help Defined
Unfortunately, most people think being a helper is little more than being a secretary. But as you’ll see, this is not an accurate interpretation. This phrase, “helper fit for him” is ezer neged in the Hebrew: ezer (help) neged (at your side, next to, beside, corresponding to). This Hebrew word ezer is used of Eve twice in this chapter. Every other time but one it is used of God and how He came to the aid of His people:

Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. Ps 33:20

But I am afflicted and needy; Hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay. Ps 70:5 

O Israel, trust in the Lord; He is their help and their shield. Ps 115:9

I will lift my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Ps 121:1-2

What an incredible type of help this is! A help that shields, that is needed desperately, in times of need and affliction. This help goes beyond that of a secretary or assistant. This is help that is invaluable! Wives, this is the type of help we are to bring to our husbands!

Continue reading

A Theology of Singleness

A Theology of singleness

What does the Bible have to say about the season of singleness? Whether you are single or not, I hope you will take time to make sure your point of view on this stage of life is Biblical, and not influenced by the culture around you. And remember, those of us who are married may again enter this season. We are not promised forever with our spouses, and any one of us might be widowed one day.

So let’s look at a few verses first that might not seem immediately to apply to singleness, but have direct implications.

“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal 3:27-28 

“And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common.” Acts 2:44

ALL THINGS IN COMMON
Unfortunately, we tend to categorize ourselves and others by our relational status. Looking around we subconsciously see those within our church walls in groups of singles, married people, married-with-kids, and so on. This type of division should not exist in the body of Christ. As the above verses state, there are no divisions for those who are clothed with Christ and all those who believe should have all things in common. This division of married and single is unnecessary and unhelpful to the unity in the body of Christ.

On top of that, the lie is often believed that those in the married category are automatically more mature than singles simply because they are married. Biblically, there is no precedent for singleness being a less-than state. There is also no Biblical pattern for married people being automatically more mature than single people. Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord, not with marriage. (Psalm 111:10, Prov 9:10)

Married people have often contributed to this problem of division as much if not more than singles. If you, as a married person, don’t find that you can be friends with or relate to a single person, then you have based too much of your own identity in your marriage and not in Christ.

Continue reading

A Heart for Home, Part 3

A Heart for Home

In part 1 we talked about how God has given us influence over the most important establishment in all of society, the home. And in part 2 we discussed the value of hospitality and how to be strategic in hosting others. Now, let’s look at what the Bible has to say about commitments outside the home.

This is not a black and white issue and therefore requires some discussion. We cannot and must not make rules where God has not made them. And no where in the Bible does it say that a woman cannot work and earn money. But as we discussed in earlier, God has clearly ordained for women to be the overseers of the home. With that in mind, let’s look at a few passages of the Bible for some guidance.

Proverbs 7:11-12 says of the adulterous woman, “She is loud and wayward, her feet do not stay at home; now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait.”

In contrast the excellent wife in Proverbs 31:27 is said to look well to the ways of her household and not eat the bread of idleness.”

Proverbs 14:1 states: “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.”

NOT JUST JOBS, BUT ALL COMMITMENTS
If you’ll notice, none of the above verses deal with jobs. They deal with the attitude toward the home. This is not an issue of payment, but rather of priorityAll women should be mindful of these words, regardless of whether or not a paycheck is involved. There are many ways to be busy outside of the home to the detriment of the family, be it a career, a blog, a busy social life, a hobby, or even a ministry. None of these are intrinsically bad, nor improper to engage in. But, at the end of the day, what matters is how it affects the home, the most important establishment in our society.

Continue reading

A Heart for Home, Part 2

A Heart for Home

In part 1, we looked at what it means to have a heart for our homes, what the Bible has to say about it, and how to use our influence there for the good of others and the glory of God. Today, I want to consider the eternal value of hospitality. 

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Heb 13:2

Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 1 Pet 4:9

Our influence at home must be primarily for those who live there, but it does not stop there. When used strategically, our homes can be one of the most effective places of ministry for the advancement of God’s Kingdom. How? Through hospitality.

Through hospitality, Rahab helped the Israelites enter to the Promise Land (Joshua 2). Through hospitality, the Shunammite woman enriched the ministry of Elisha (2 Kings 4). Through hospitality, Esther exposed the evil plot of Haman (Esther 4). And through hospitality, Jesus was often welcomed into homes to teach and minister.

DEFINING HOSPITALITY
Hospitality, in the greek, literally means to love strangers. This means we leverage our homes to welcome and care for others who don’t normally reside there. The focus of hospitality is the people. It is not about how clean or big your home is, how great the food is, or what the plans are. But rather, that those being welcomed feel loved, cared for, and ministered to. Being too concerned about the food and atmosphere can actually take away from caring for the people you are trying to host.

Continue reading

A Heart for Home: Part 1

A Heart for Home

In the last post, I discussed our role as influencers. Now I want to consider where the Bible calls us to have primary influence: the home.

Now, if you just rolled your eyes or felt a twinge of fear or anger at the thought of women being called to the home, listen up. Do not let your culture be the primary informer of your worldview. In our age of career-rules-all, urging women to give their best efforts toward the success of the home seems insulting. “Isn’t that like asking women to play second string? To be the understudy? A benchwarmer? To let men do all the really important things, while we clean up their messes and do their laundry and raise their kids?” 

Maybe that’s how you think of managing a home… something you do when you’ve got nothing better to do. Even those who agree that women should be the primary keepers of the home often have an attitude expressing the opposite. We’d much rather be doing vocational ministry, writing a blog, or [fill-in-the-blank] than the menial, every day humdrum of home life.

But do not fall for the lie that the home is unimportant. The home is the fundamental establishment of any society. Like the rudder of a ship, the condition of the homes will steer the direction of the nation. The home is where future world leaders are molded, where brilliant minds are nurtured, where world views are established. Any investment made in the home has ripple effects that last for generations. So when we talk of a woman overseeing the home, this is not to lessen her importance, but to elevate it. God has given us influence over the most important establishment in all of society.

WHERE IS IT IN THE BIBLE?
Let’s look at a few key passages of scripture on this topic. And instead of doing the work for you to unpack these passages, I’m asking you to take just a minute to pull out your Bible (or your Bible app) and read the passage yourself and answer the questions.

Take some time to read Titus 2:3-5 and answer the following question:

  • Of the 6 things older women are to teach younger women, how many are related to family/home life?
  • What does this communicate to us about our priorities?

Read Proverbs 31:10-31 and answer the following questions:

  • Who are the main beneficiaries of this woman’s efforts? (v. 11, 12, 15, 21, 23, 27)
  • Does this woman do things outside of her home? (v. 16, 20, 24)
  • Read verses 15, 21, 27 again. What do you notice about her intentionality toward those in her home? And what does this imply about her work outside her house?

Last but not least, let’s go back to God’s initial design of man and woman for some insight. Read Genesis 2:7-22.

  • Did God create Adam before or after He made the Garden of Eden?
  • Where was Adam created? Inside or outside the Garden?
  • Where was Eve created? Inside or outside the Garden?
  • What does this imply about men and women?

After studying the passages above, it is evident that God has created women to be uniquely influential within the context of the home. This does not mean she cannot earn an income for her family or devote her time to other ventures, as the Proverbs 31 passage portrays. But regardless of her other commitments, her primary responsibility and area of influence should be oriented toward the home, not away from it.

To drive this point home (no pun intended), consider one last verse from the book of Proverbs:

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. Proverbs 14:1

A wise woman is investing in her home. She is putting effort into building it up, strengthening it, and supporting it. Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord, so a woman who fears the Lord will build up her house. This is exactly what we see the wife in Proverbs 31 doing.

Continue reading