Wisdom is calling

Proverbs 1:20-33 (AMP)–Wisdom cries aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the markets; She cries at the head of the noisy intersections [in the chief gathering places]; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks: How long, O simple ones [open to evil], will you love being simple? And the scoffers delight in scoffing and [self-confident] fools hate knowledge? If you will turn (repent) and give heed to my reproof, behold, I [Wisdom] will pour out my spirit upon you, I will make my words known to you.

Because I have called and you have refused [to answer], have stretched out my hand and no man has heeded it, And you treated as nothing all my counsel and would accept none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when the thing comes that shall cause you terror and panic–When your panic comes as a storm and desolation and your calamity comes on as a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. Then will they call upon me [Wisdom] but I will not answer; they will seek me early and diligently but they will not find me.

Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord, Would accept none of my counsel, and despised all my reproof, Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way and be satiated with their own devices. For the backsliding of the simple shall slay them, and the careless ease of [self-confident] fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkens to me [Wisdom] shall dwell securely and in confident trust and shall be quiet, without fear or dread of evil.

I’m not a very visual person.  When I think of something that can be represented in physical space, I don’t usually picture it in my head.  When I read a book, I don’t usually imagine what the characters look like or what their surroundings are like.  I just don’t think visually most of the time.  So, when something does strike me in a way that causes me to see it in my head, I usually take note.  This passage is one of those things.

This is the picture that comes to mind (and, if you are not a visual thinker like I am not, then you probably won’t see it, either, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t understand).  There is a busy outdoor market, like a bazaar or something.  There are lots of stands where people can buy various foods and goods, and they are.  The roads are packed with people talking, bartering, haggling, greeting one another, etc.  There are street entertainers performing for the crowds.  There, in the midst of all of the hustle and bustle, is one woman shouting out for people to come to her.  She is yelling, trying to be heard over the noise.  Her message is urgent, but few hear it because of all the distractions.  Few come to her house of learning that is open to all and the message doesn’t get through the crowded streets to those who need to hear it most.

And that woman is us.  Crying out in the streets that the world needs wisdom.  Being heard by only a few.

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What does this really mean?

1 Corinthians 14:33-34 (AMP)–For He [Who is the source of their prophesying] is not a God of confusion and disorder but of peace and order. As [is the practice] in all the churches of the saints (God’s people), the women should keep quiet in the churches, for they are not authorized to speak, but should take a secondary and subordinate place, just as the Law also says.

So, I have mentioned before how I did not grow up a Christian.  I was a pretty independent young woman with certain ideas about how the world worked (or how it should work).  I had a lot of feminist and liberal leanings, which I won’t go into detail on.  Suffice it to say that I thought that I was just as good, just as smart (usually smarter), just as capable as any man and I was never going to subject myself to anyone, but especially not a man.

I took this idea of not being “womanly” (read: weak) further than I should have.  I didn’t like girls.  I didn’t like doing the things that girls did (cooking, sewing, crafting, caring for children, etc.).  I wasn’t going to follow “the rules.”  I was never going to get married, have children, become domestic.

Well, I’ve obviously changed my mind about most of those things.  I am married with two children.  I am a stay-at-home mom.  I love to cook.  I own a sewing machine (although, I’m still working on learning how to use it).  I do lots of things that I never thought I would ever do and I am exceptionally happy doing them (most of them . . . cleaning house still isn’t one of my favorite things).

So, having said all of that, let’s talk about this passage in 1 Corinthians.  I accept that it is a part of the Bible and I submit to God’s Word.  I have no problem with the fact that it is there, but I do take issue with the way that a lot of people interpret it BECAUSE IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE WITH THE REST OF THE BIBLE.  Let me explain.

The Fundamentalist take on this passage: women shouldn’t have authority over men in any aspect of church life (and sometimes in other aspects of life).  They cannot be pastors, teachers (except to children or other women), leaders (prayer leaders, worship leaders, deacons or elders, ministry leaders that would place them in authority over men), and many other things.  Women can be leaders only when men are not involved.  Their husbands can be leaders and they can influence the church only through their husbands.  This is a very literal interpretation of this passage, which is the way that Fundamentalists interpret the Bible: literally.

The Liberal take on this passage: women can do anything in the church.  This passage applies specifically to the Corinthian church at that time and discusses cultural issues that arose in that specific church.  The part of this passage that still applies today is the part speaking about orderly worship (because that is the context).

[An aside: I have no problem with submitting to my husband.  I also don’t have a problem with women not being pastors or elders.  My issue is where people decide to draw the line between what is acceptable and unacceptable for women to do.  It just seems so arbitrary at times.  But, I digress.]

I think they both miss the mark.  I’m pretty moderate, so, naturally, my take on it is somewhere in between.  I’m not saying that I’m right (I’m no expert), but I think that in order to accept either of these extreme interpretations you have to ignore a lot of what the Bible says about the matter.

Where Fundamentalists miss the mark is in their failure to recognize the examples in the Old and New Testaments of women taking on these and other roles that they deny women today.  The Amplified Bible footnote for Judges 4:4 has this to say about the Judge and Prophet Deborah:

According to Num. 11:25, the prophetic gift has its source in the “Spirit of the Lord.” The prophet is a spokesman of God and for God. Miriam was the first prophetess who praised God before all the people (Exod. 15:20). Deborah was not like Miriam, the sister of such men as Moses and Aaron. The objective Spirit of her God elevates her above her people, above heroes before and after her. Not only the ecstasy of enthusiasm, but also the calm wisdom of that Spirit Who informs the law dwells in her. Of no judge until Samuel [the last of the major judges] is it expressly said that he was a “prophet.” Of none until him can it be said that he was possessed of the popular authority necessary for the office of judge. The position of Deborah in Israel is therefore a twofold testimony: it proves the relaxation of spiritual and manly energy, and, secondly, the undying might of divine truth, as delivered by Moses, comes brilliantly to view. History shows many instances where in times of distress, when men despaired, women arose and saved their nation; but in all such cases there must be an unextinguished spark of the old fire in the people themselves. Israel, formerly encouraged by the great exploit of a left-handed man–Ehud (Judg. 3:15), is now quickened by the glowing word of a noble woman (J.P. Lange, A Commentary).

If women in Biblical times could be prophetessess, deaconesses, doorkeepers, and hold other positions in the temple and the churches, I find it hard to accept that they cannot do the same today.  But, before you get too upset with me . . .

Where Liberals miss the mark is in their insistence that men and women are the same.  They were created different, a fact that we cannot ignore.  Even science can’t ignore the fact that men and women are different (recent studies including this one have shown sex specific differences in the brain transmitted through epigenetic mechanisms).  Women have never been priests or elders, which (I believe) translates to women not being pastors or elders in the modern church.

I don’t want to be accused of ignoring passages like 1 Corinthians 11:3-12 and 1 Timothy 2:11 that point out how men and women are different and should worship differently.  I acknowledge that men and women are different.  I fully accept that there are reasons for women not taking on the role of pastor or elder, but I cannot accept that God doesn’t want women to share the gifts that He gave us.  Some women are gifted musically, in teaching, leadership, administration, and many other areas.  They should use those gifts to edify the body of Christ.

There is a lot more that I could say on this topic, but I’ll just leave it there for now.  PLEASE, feel free to disagree with me.  Like I said before, I don’t have all the answers.

So, what do you think?

The Moore You Know: My Testimony

The Moore You Know: My Testimony.

 

This is a great story of how God answers our prayers in ways we don’t expect.  Enjoy.

How preparing my house for sale is NOT like coming to Christ

So, as I stated previously, we are moving out of Utah and, thus, are preparing to sell our house.  For those of you who have never gone through the process, it mostly involves packing a lot of stuff that isn’t necessary for everyday living and cleaning everything.  I see something interesting, though, in the process.

Sometimes our bodies and minds are compared with houses.  The analogy is that Jesus comes in and takes possession of the house and doesn’t just start redecorating; He starts remodeling.  He knocks out walls and makes additions until it is the place where He wants to live.  It’s a process, though, and He is the one who does it, not us.

I know a lot of people who operate under the incorrect mindset that they have to get things straightened out before they can come to Christ (or return to Him after a hiatus).  This is so wrong.  If I had to prepare everything for Christ to come and live in my “house” the way I do when I am trying to sell my actual house, then I would still not be ready.  I never would.

You see, that’s the thing about what Jesus did for me (and you) on the Cross.  While I was still a mess, He died for me.  While my “house” was falling apart and going to be condemned, He bought it (for a very great price).  He saw the potential in me when nobody else did (before I ever existed, in fact) and thought that I was worth the cost.

How awe-inspiring to think that the God of the universe thought that I (you) were worth the price.  Why do people say Jesus is their best friend?  It’s because He laid down His life for them (us).

So, the next time you think you have to get your life together before you can come to (or return to) Jesus, think again.  Remember what He said here:

Matthew 11:28-30

Amplified Bible (AMP)

28Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]

29Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.

30For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.

What to do? Pick a new name, I guess.

So, I have alluded in past posts to some changes that will be happening in my life and now I (finally) feel like I can share them with the blogosphere.  So, without further ado: Christian in Utah will need a new blog name soon, since we are packing up and moving to Colorado.  I know, I know, you are all saying, “But your name is so clever and you are so obviously attached to it.”  Well, what’s done is done and I don’t plan to keep this blog name, as clever as it is, when I move.  I will be sure to let you all know so that all ten of you can follow me to my new home on the Interwebz.

I don’t want to make light of this move, though, because the decision came about after much heartfelt discussion and months of prayer for both me and my hubby.  The truth is, I can’t share all of our reasons for making this move, but suffice it to say there are several.  The biggest one is that we believe that God is in this and we are trusting Him.  It will be a good move for our kids, our family, our finances, and it will be good for us spiritually (since we are in His will).

It has been ten years since we moved to Utah, though, so it will be a big change that won’t come easily.  Of course, moving here was a big change for both of us (especially me coming from the Detroit area), so we know that we can adjust to our new surroundings if we do some key things.

1.  Cling to God.

2.  Cling to each other.

3.  Keep our sense of humor.

That last one is so important (not that the first two aren’t important, I just think the third is often overlooked).  I don’t know if you have ever sold a house, but I have and it is not fun.  I think I have a post brewing about that, though, so I’ll just leave it at “not fun” for now.  Anyway, you have to be able to laugh when things get tough or you won’t make it through intact.

Note to self: remember the “with love” part

So, this is a post that I’ve been trying to write for a long time.  It has taken many forms and all have been trashed when they start moving in the wrong direction.  This one might get trashed, too, but I hope not because I really need to get this out there.  It is about something specific, but I’m going to try to avoid the details, for so many reasons I can’t even count them all.

The thing that has been weighing on my heart is this: what happens when you don’t follow God’s plan?  We know from Jeremiah 29:11 that God has plans for us (I fully accept that some people believe that this message was only meant for Israel, but it doesn’t change what I have to say, so I’l keep it).  Good plans.  I believe the “us” in that statement includes individuals, families, churches, organizations, communities, businesses, etc.  Sometimes He reveals those plans to us and sometimes He doesn’t, but there is always a plan.

Has He ever revealed part of His plan to you?  If God has given you a clear vision for what He wants to do through you, it is extremely empowering.  Maybe He wants you as an individual to share the Good News with somebody specific.  Maybe He wants your family to become missionaries in another country.  Maybe your church is supposed to minister to a specific community or start a specific ministry.  That is all great and I hope that we all desire to be used by God.  Sometimes He uses us in ways that He doesn’t reveal to us until afterward.  That’s great, too.

What happens, though, if God tells you a specific way that He wants to use you or your family, your church, organization, whatever, and you don’t do it?  What if you start moving in that direction, but you get distracted (possibly by something else that is also good, or possibly by sin)?  What if you are too afraid to even start?

I don’t know the answers to those questions, but one passage from Revelation comes to mind:

Revelation 3:15-16–I know your [record of] works and what you are doing; you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth!

Yikes!  I don’t know about you, but I think vomit is pretty gross and I don’t want to be anyone’s vomit.  I especially don’t want to be God’s vomit because of what that means.  If you remember Jonah, and a lot of other prophets, you know that God gives you lots of chances to change your mind if you decide not to do what He wants.  I think this passage in Revelation, though, indicates that at a certain point He will just give up and look for somebody else to do what He asked you to do.

I think that God has been showing me this lately.  Is God not blessing your ministry (individually or as a body of believers working together)?  I’m not saying that you will always have blessings (because the Bible is pretty clear about the fact that we will have trials).  I’m also not trying to say that if you do what God asks you to do then you will instantly see the results (or ever see them), which I am aware can be disheartening.  What I am saying is this: if your ministry at whatever level is not experiencing blessings, do yourself a favor and make sure you are on track with what God wants from you.

Remember this: God will accomplish His will.  He will do what He sets out to do.  If He asks you to do something and you don’t, then He will just take the job and give it to somebody else.  That is what He has been showing me through all of this.  His will will be done, even if He has to use different tools to do it.

I’ll bear your burdens, if…

Sorry I’ve been curiously absent lately.  It isn’t because God isn’t speaking to me, but because I don’t really know how to share the things that He has been speaking to me about.  I mean, I think there are things that I need to write about, but I need to do it without being a jerk.  God has been teaching me some things about myself and about how He builds His church.  Really interesting stuff.  So, here goes.

Galatians 6:2–Bear (endure, carry) one another’s burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete what is lacking [in your obedience to it].

Romans 12:15–Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief].

I’ve never really thought of myself as a particularly sensitive person.  Not that I don’t get hurt easily, because I do, but that I don’t really empathize well.  Most of the reason for that is the fact that I don’t tolerate stupidity well.  People who bring bad things on themselves by their poor decisions get very little sympathy from me.

I’ve only recently noticed (although, in talking to my hubby about it, apparently it is obvious to him and maybe everybody else), that I am in fact a very empathetic person.  The only thing is I only empathize with people I care deeply about.  I think, however, that there is more to it than just feeling the pain of those that I love.  Because sometimes I can be really hard with those people, too.  So, what is the thing that determines if I feel your pain or not?  The answer surprised me a little bit.

You see, the same people whose decisions I look at with scorn and anger are the ones that I weep with and whose burdens I bear at other times.  The difference between the two responses is this: the individual’s willingness to accept responsibility for their situation.  If somebody’s pain is due to circumstances out of their control, then I feel for them if they are somebody close to me or not.  If they are the reason that they are suffering (by making poor decisions), then I usually just get angry about their decisions (even to the point that I don’t listen when they are complaining about their pain), unless they admit it is their own fault.  If they admit it is at least partly their own fault, then my heart gets the okay from my brain to hurt for them.

It isn’t a conscious decision.  I don’t look at somebody’s situation and say, “they meet my empathy criteria.”  It’s just a pattern that I can see when I look at my life and my interactions with those people in my life who are suffering.  I’m not saying that it is right.  I’m also not saying that it is wrong.  I’m just saying that is how it is.

So, take that for what it is: a glimpse at my inner workings.  If I have ever seemed like I didn’t care when things were not going well for you, it might be because of this filter that I’m only now discovering that I have.  It is also probably because of this filter that I find it hard to share my burdens with others (if I have a filter like this, others might, too).

Do you have these kinds of filters through which you view the people around you?  What are your thoughts?

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