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.

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Women, We Are Influencers

Women Are Influencers

In the beginning, God created woman as a helper, a supporter and an aide (Gen 2:18,22). Though our culture would scoff at such a role in society, there is truly great honor in it. The only other person given the title of helper in the Old Testament is God. The Hebrew word for help/helper is ezer. Here are a few passages that describe God as an ezer.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

Our soul waits for the LORD, he is our help and our shield. Psalm 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. Psalm 70:5

When we say God is our help, our ezer, we place him in an exalted place: our shield, deliverer. Is God inferior to us because He is our help? No! Rather, God is elevated when we admit we need His help, that we can’t do it on our own. So why would we, as women, feel inferior by being created to help? By understanding that men cannot do it alone, that they need our help to fulfill their God-given roles? We are no more inferior to man because we were created to help any more than God is inferior to us when He is a help to us. As God is a help to His people, so woman was created to be a help to man.

To be a helper carries with it a unique characteristic: the innate ability to influence others. Influence is “the capacity or power to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions of others.” This is a powerful thing for God to entrust to our gender.

Unfortunately, our ability to influence has been tainted by sin. The influence that was meant to help has turned women into skilled manipulators, only influencing for their own selfish gain, harming others. A line from My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding sums this up nicely: “The man may be the head of the house, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants.” And for most of us, we know that this is true. Women, through subtlety, nuance, emotions, and skillful timing, usually can get what they want, especially from men.

But manipulation is a perversion of our design. Yes, we were meant to come alongside others and be a compelling force on their actions, behaviors, and thoughts. Not for our own selfish gain, but for their good and for the glory of God. We are called to influence others unto the glory of God.

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Faith, Humility, & The Glory of God: Foundations of Womanhood

a proper approach to biblical womanhood

In the last post, Biblical Womanhood, I introduced what will be a several part series on what the Bible has to say about womanhood. I briefly described the influence of feminism as well. And on that note, it is the influence of feminism that makes this topic such a touchy one. There are a lot of books, opinions, and viewpoints on this topic, and I care very little for them all. There is only one source I care to look at when it comes to my femininity, and that is the Bible. While I will quote from other people, their opinions are valuable to me only so far as they base all their arguments on the comprehensive truth of the Word of God.

But, before we dive into what the Bible says about womanhood, we need to come with a right heart posture. Because these topics have the potential to create tension and conflict, we need to make sure we come to this topic with 3 basic foundations:

  • A love for the glory of God: “I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another.” (Isaiah 42:8)
  • A desire for humility: “God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Pet 5:5)
  • A heart of faith: “Whatever is not from faith is sin.” (Rom 14:23)

THE GLORY OF GOD
As Christians, our primary goal is to extend the fame, the renown, and the beauty of God. This purpose should be front and center in all we do, including our approach to this topic. Unlike the world’s self-centered views of gender, we want a God-centered view of gender.

The very first mention of male and female in the Bible revolves around God. Genesis 1:26-27 states,  “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” God created two distinct expressions of humanity, male and female, to reflect Himself. Our femininity isn’t about us, it is about God and reflecting who He is.

We don’t reflect God simply as humans, but specifically as male and female. This is important because God is triune. God is one and God is also Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Unity and diversity in one God. Likewise, men and women are both human. They both have the same organ systems, bodily functions, and are distinctly human as compared to other species on the earth. Yet men and women are very different in how they express their humanity. It is with this unity of species and diversity of expression that we reflect God fully. This is why a Biblical expression of womanhood is important: to bring God glory.

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Biblical Womanhood

Biblical Womanhood

Men and women are different. A seemingly obvious statement, yet one that is up for debate nowadays. Our world is fighting to convince us that, besides their reproductive systems, there are no significant differences between a man and a woman. The logic goes like this:

1. Men and women should be equal.

2. Equality means the same.

3. Therefore, for men and women to be truly equal, they must be the same.

But equality does not equal sameness. This concept is widely understood in many areas of life. Consider the cultures in the world. Asian, European and South American cultures are all very different. They connect differently, eat different foods, and celebrate differently. Is one culture greater than another? Should all the cultures of the world be exactly the same so they can be equal? Of course not. It is the differences within the world’s cultures that bring so much beauty and value to the human race.

Are men and women equal in intrinsic value and dignity? Yes. Should we fight for this? Of course! But let us not strip each gender of their unique beauty, purpose, and strength by forcing them to be the same. Men and women most certainly are equal, but they are not the same.

WHY DISCUSS BIBLICAL WOMANHOOD
I plan to take a couple weeks to post a series of articles on this topic of Biblical womanhood. Why is this topic important to me? For several reasons.

First, I am deeply loyal to the One who has spared my soul from its deserving end of eternal death, and therefore care deeply about what He has to say about my womanhood. Secondly, I believe that this same loving God was incredibly intentional about how and why He created man and woman and therefore what He has to say on the subject is my most trustworthy source. And lastly, I am a living example that “the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) My life is more full of joy, peace, purpose, and contentment as a result of the very truths I hope to share over these next weeks. So this topic is deeply personal to me as much as it is deeply theological.

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Valentine’s Day is Not About You

Valentines day

How did Valentine’s day become “I-need-someone-to-make-much-of-me day”?

The popular idea of love conjures up images of being served and doted on by others. So if you don’t have someone buying you flowers, sending you notes, and telling you you’re awesome on Valentine’s day, it then becomes an excuse to be angry and depressed.

Christian, your view of love should be markedly different than this. The way of love shown to us by Christ is self-sacrifice: considering the needs of others as more important than your own. For us, Valentine’s day should prompt acts of self-sacrifice not thoughts of who might puff us up with praise and compliments.

The Chick Flick Lie
If your ideas of love and romance have been primarily shaped by movies, then you are already at a disadvantage. Almost all romantic comedies portray love as worshiping, or making much of, another person. A man finds his true love, and she becomes the center of his universe as he spends all his energy seeking to make much of her. This is NOT love.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. -1 John 4:10

Love is primarily realized in relationship with God, who though He alone deserves to be made much of, laid aside that right to die in our place and give us access to the Father. This is love.

If anything, for the Christian, a chick flick should prompt you to consider how to love other people. But unfortunately, the common response to these movies is 1. assuming we deserve the right to be treated this way (which we do not), and 2. to mope and complain when we don’t have this kind of fake love.

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Marriage Gone Wrong: when codependency highjacks a beautiful union

marriage gone wrong

After the series I recently wrote dealing with codependency in friendship, a few people presented a very natural follow up question: If codependency isn’t ok in friendships, then should it be ok in marriage?

NO.

Remember, I’m defining codependency as tying your emotional sense of well-being to another person. To say it another way, it is giving more weight and importance to a person than to God. Assuming this definition, then codependency is NEVER ok. Even in marriage.

Unfortunately, codependency in marriage is an assumed reality for many. The truth is, most of us struggle to believe God is enough for us, so we are continually looking to people to make us feel ok. Because of this, a marriage can become a place where we finally feel like being codependent is acceptable. We hope, like the movies have portrayed, that we can bank on this person to fill the deepest parts of our longings and be the one on whom our general sense of wellbeing rests.

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Prepare Him Room

Prepare Him Room

(This post inspired by the song “Prepare Him Room” by Paul Baloche. Check it out here.)

Joy to the world! The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her king;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

The birth of Christ never ceases to amaze me. That Jesus would allow Himself to be restrained by a human body, let alone a baby’s body, is an unspeakable wonder.

Jesus, by whom all things were created, for whom all things were created.
Jesus, who holds all things together.
Jesus, the image of the invisible God.

This same Jesus willingly entered the filth of a sin-stained humanity in utter humility.

The King of Kings and Lord of Lords makes His grand entrance onto the globe without the majesty that is due Him. Rather, not regarding His equality with God a thing to be asserted, He emptied Himself, entering our world with nothing. Wrapped in rags, laid to rest among animals, greeted by lowly shepherds. Most of us, welcomed by announcements, baby showers, and gifts, were born with more pomp and ceremony than Jesus.

Why did He come this way? Why not descend to earth as a 30 year old man, coming to preach and then to die for sins? We must understand that Jesus didn’t simply come to pay the penalty of our sins. He came to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves: live a righteous life.

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Friendships Gone Wrong, Part 6

friendship gone wrong

ROMANTICIZING FRIENDSHIP

“When we are completely immersed in a society of people who consider a particular idolatrous attachment normal, it becomes almost impossible to discern it for what it is.” –Tim Keller

The culture around us is like a current, gently pushing us along according to its philosophies.  Unless we are regularly clinging to the Truth and taking our thoughts captive to obey Christ (2 Cor 10:5), we will mindlessly drift along with this worldly current. This is why Paul encourages us to “see to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Col 2:8)

There is a new trend that seems harmless on the surface, but it is anything but safe: the romanticizing of friendships.  Though you may not have noticed this shift, it is very present. Just do a quick search of “best friends” or “BFF” on pinterest or google and here are a few things you will find:

“Friendiversary: anniversaries aren’t just for lovers anymore.”

Friendiversary

“20 Best Friend Date Ideas.”

20 Best Friend Date Ideas

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Friendship Gone Wrong, Part 5

friendship gone wrong

If you’re just jumping into this conversation, I hope you will go back and read the first 4 parts of this series for some context. I’ve been talking about the problem of codependent friendships which are rooted in idolatry and casting a vision for the purpose of Biblical friendship.

STEPS TOWARD FREEDOM
If it is evident that you have been idolizing a person in your life and have become emotionally dependent on them, here are some basic steps you can take to move toward freedom. Please keep in mind that the degree of which these steps are needed is based on how deeply entrenched you are in relational idolatry. For the one who calls her accountability partner too often before talking to God, some simple confession and repentance to another friend may be sufficient. For the one who yearns for spring break to be over so she can cuddle up with her roommate in bed again, these steps are far more important.

It’s also important to remember that different situations call for different things. This is where the wisdom and guidance of others is crucial. For example, even though emotional dependencies can form between two spouses, no form of separation is ever good in a marriage. An emotional dependency on a guy should be treated differently than an emotional dependency on a girl.

1. Be Honest and Repent
Be honest with yourself. Though it is painful to stare our sin in the eye, we can never make it go away by ignoring it. If we refuse to face the reality of our sin, we will only enlarge the consequences and prolong the pain.

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Friendship Gone Wrong, Part 4

friendship gone wrong

Now that we’ve seen what an unhealthy friendship looks like, let’s talk about healthy friendships. To do that, we must start with the purpose of friendship, biblically.

FRIENDSHIP FOR JESUS

“O, who but the Christian feels such pleasures as are connected with friendship for our dear Lord Jesus Christ?” Samuel Pearce

Friendship FOR Jesus. What a sweet thing indeed. As we discuss Biblical Christian friendship, let us remember that like all other things, it is meant to point us to Christ. Unlike the ingrown friendship model of the world, friendship for Jesus looks outside itself to find its purpose. As John Piper has advocated, it is good that we “have a cluster of comrades in the faith with the mutual agreement that you will continually point each other to Jesus Christ for hope and strength.”

By no means exhaustive, below are four specific purposes that friends should serve in our lives.

1. FRIENDS HELP US FULLY ENJOY GOD

“Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.” Eph 5:18-19

Things are best enjoyed in community. Your favorite movie is good when you watch it alone. It’s even better with friends. A great meal is enjoyable. But even more satisfying when you share it with friends. God Himself is a perfect triune community: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Therefore, as those made in His image, we thrive in community. It is hardwired into us to share our joys with others. The best experiences in life are the ones we try to drag our friends into: “You have to see this movie!” “You have to come with me to this restaurant.”

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