In Sanctification and Honor

February 14, 2010 at 1:03 am (Articles, Attitudes, God's Will, Godly Living, Purity) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

(From 1st Thessalonians 4:1-8)

Once upon a time I felt called to be an example of purity.  I use the terminology “felt called,” but what I really mean is that, as I studied scripture, I began to see the emphasis the Lord put on purity.  In the Old Testament, Yahweh bemoaned His apostate bride’s “adultery” as she sought other lovers—bringing foreign gods into her life and heart and worship system.  In the New Testament He proclaimed that our bodies are His temple and His spirit dwells within us.  When we transgress His commandments regarding fornication and adultery, we are sinning against our own bodies—His temple.  It’s adultery against Him.  It makes Him as sick as did Israel’s child sacrifices to Molech and the pagan orgies around the golden calf.  “Flee immorality,” Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers.  “Every sin that man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.”  (1 Corithinthians 6:18-20)

At first I embraced my call to purity as a call to lifelong singleness.  I’ve always been a bit dramatic.  If the Lord wanted me to be an example of purity, what better way could there be than to never marry and demonstrate to the world a life spent in self-control and single-hearted devotion to the Lord?  But as I continued to study the word, I discovered that the most perfect picture of purity is Christ and His bride, the church.  Purity is so much more than abstinence or a vow of celibacy.  It’s a lifelong journey of sanctification and it can certainly include a God-glorifying marriage.  In fact, Paul wrote to the Corinthians telling them that, while singleness was great for those whom God had supernaturally gifted in that manner, for those supernaturally gifted in another manner,  marriage was the wise safeguard against immorality.  (Check out 1 Corinthians 7).

When he gave instructions for the training of younger women, Paul made it clear that purity doesn’t end at marriage.  “Older women are to…train the younger women,” he wrote his disciple Titus, “to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure workers at home, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”  (Titus 2:3-4)  Married or single, God’s call to purity extends to all of us and reaches into every corner of every relationship.

Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, reminding them of God’s will in the issue of purity:  “Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more.  For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.  For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.  For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.  Consequently, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.”  (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8)

This is important, ladies.  Paul warned, he requested, he exhorted and he wound up with a reminder that the person who rejects God’s will in the issue of purity is rejecting God who gives the Spirit’s empowerment.  “Walk so as to please God,” Paul implores, “and excel still more!”  We can’t be too pure.  God’s desire is for His people to be sanctified—set apart and made holy and He has a plan for how to accomplish this.

Abstain from Sexual Immorality

The Roman Empire in which Paul’s readers lived was a decadent match for our own modern age of “free love.”  Immorality was praised in the arts, just as it is today.  It was worshiped in the temples and proclaimed in the palaces.  The concept of choosing a lifestyle of purity was counter-cultural and difficult.  Many of Paul’s readers had walked out of this world-view, by God’s grace, and to them Paul extended God’s mercy.  “Many of you were once fornicators…adulterers…but you were washed clean.”  He wrote to the Romans reminding them, “just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.”  (Romans 6:19)  Paul wanted his readers to know that they were washed clean from past sins, and also given empowerment, through the Holy Spirit, to resist future sins.  There’s a world of difference between slaves to impurity and lawlessness and slaves to righteousness—a world that far exceeds technical “virginity.”  God wants His people to be so far removed from impurity and immorality that they are controlled and driven by righteousness.

The statistics prove God’s wisdom—and the consequences of rejecting it.  When I taught abstinence in the schools as an outreach of a Christian Crisis Pregnancy Center, I was blown away by the seriousness of the facts—fornication doesn’t even lend itself to happily ever after, regardless of your personal convictions.  The sexual progression chart we shared was rather telling as well—it began with “hanging out” and showed that as soon as affectionate touch occurs, the battle becomes a war against your own body.  Paul commanded believers to flee immorality.  This is God’s will!  This is what pleases God!  A warning, a request, an exhortation: sexual sins are not something to be approached with caution.  We are to flee!  If we’re commanded to flee, then even the first step down an inevitable sexual progression is a step in the wrong direction.

Possess Your own Vessel

The context of this command suggests another angle of the purity issue.  Paul is dealing with purity and its effects on those around us.  The Greek word translated here “possess” actually suggests the concept of “acquiring” and the use of the term vessel perhaps refers, not to a man’s own body, but to that of his wife—who is the weaker vessel.  Paul’s command is to take a wife/acquire your own vessel in sanctification and honor—not in lustful passion like those who do not know God.  This fits with his teaching to the Corinthians, when he says, “Because of immorality let each man have his own wife and each woman her own husband.”  (1 Corinthians 7:2)  The antidote to immorality is actually to pursue marriage—not as the pagans do, with selfish and lustful motives—but in set-apartness and honor, in purity, for God’s glory.  The answer to immorality is actually not whole-sale celibacy—monasteries and nunneries.  Paul condemns those who forbid marriage.  The answer to immorality is pure marriages that mirror Christ and His church—built on love for the Lord and sacrificial love for each other.  God created woman for the man’s sake—to be joined as one by God—and together to serve the Lord.

Do not Defraud

Paul adds one more element to the mixture: the issue of defrauding.  The basic meaning of the word is to “cheat”: to claim that which is another’s, to get too much, to be greedy.  His warning is sobering, “the Lord is the avenger in all these things.”  This whole section about purity and sanctification is wrapped within commands to love.  Paul wants his readers to be well-aware that the world has a skewed perception of love.  What the world may call “making love” God calls “sexual immorality” and what the world may hold up as “in love” God denounces as defrauding.  And He will avenge.  God holds up for us a different standard of love: a love that is self-sacrificing, that focuses on God and God’s glory and that seeks to point others in the same direction.  It is a love that gives, not seeks to snag whatever it can get.  “Love does not seek its own,” Paul writes in his famous “love chapter.”  We are to love our neighbor as our self.  We are to look out for the interests of others.  In all our relationships, we must keep in mind the interests of others, careful that we do not transgress and take what does not belong to us.  This is true whether we hope it may one day belong to us or not.  We are not to take what is not yet ours.  A wife’s body belongs to her husband and no one else is to ever ask her for any part of that.

Paul doesn’t lay down for us a pattern of romantic pursuit.  Scripture doesn’t seem to offer a step-by-step plan of how to seek a spouse.  But God has certainly made it clear what His goals are for a marriage that glorifies Him.  God’s will is for us to abstain from sexual immorality.  To flee youthful lusts.  To pursue righteousness.  God’s plan is to protect us.  God’s will is also for us to “acquire our own vessel” (this command is probably given to the men, but Paul wrote to the Corinthians for each woman to have her own husband) in sanctification and honor.  In our pursuit of marriage and in our marriage, we must carefully guard honor and holiness.  God’s plan is to protect our spouse.  Each of us is responsible for the protection of each other.  After marriage, Paul writes that the wife’s body belongs to her husband and the husband’s body, to his wife.  Before marriage, those “vessels” must be carefully guarded from everyone.  After marriage, they must be carefully guarded from all save one.  “Forsaking all others,” read the traditional marriage vows.  God’s will is also that we not cheat each other.  A wife’s body belongs to her husband, and until a marriage covenant is made, she has no husband.  God will avenge those who take what does not belong to them.  God’s plan is to protect our brothers and sisters—that we might not cheat them out of what is rightly theirs.

In every relationship, God’s will must guide our hearts and minds.  We are to seek to be set-apart, holy, pure.  We’re not to be like the pagans, full of lustful passions and selfish ambition.  Purity keeps us fleeing from sin, it guides us into godly marriage and it protects us from taking what is not ours to take.  And the goal always is to please God.  Married or single, God’s will is for us to be pure—to be set-apart.

Much of the commentary on the 1st Thessalonians passage has been shamelessly stolen from my father’s file-cabinet of Bible study materials and teachings on “Taking a Wife.”

Share this Post

Advertisements

Permalink 6 Comments

He Has Told You What is Good

February 8, 2010 at 10:17 pm (Articles, God's Will, Godly Living) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

(From Micah 6:6-8)

You may not agree with me on the issue of God’s individual will, and if not, I challenge you to sincerely consider and evaluate and I welcome your feedback.  I’d always encourage you to be like the Bereans, searching the scriptures to see if what I write is true and, if so, accept and obey it.  For any believer, God’s word must be the first authority in every part of our daily lives and this passage certainly reveals what God requires.  With that in mind, I hope you can enjoy and discuss this passage with me.  During my search for “God’s will” I also found the book “Decision Making and the Will of God” to be very encouraging and a Biblically responsible and balanced treatment of the subject.  I highly recommend it to anyone who desires to please the Lord.

I am a firm believer that God speaks today.  That He makes known His will to those who seek Him earnestly.  That He reveals to the obedient exactly what He wishes them to do.  And I am a firm believer that those who love Him, obey.

But I don’t believe that God keeps secret what He wishes us to do, or leaves us confused and struggling to seek His will from a baffling set of circumstances, impressions and interpretations.  As I looked into the pages of scripture, I discovered a distinct lack of commands or encouragement to look anywhere else for God’s will.  No descriptions of a Map-Quest set of directions revealed mysteriously in the inner workings of each individual’s heart or mind or a maze in which we could easily find ourselves lost, randomly bumping into others, never knowing when we might hit a dead end or a fork in the road that we might miss or a flower along the path that we might pass by if we don’t pray enough.  The scriptural presentation of God’s will distinctly lacked the feel of an obstacle course that we might not make it through if we don’t hold our breath just right and just keep plowing ahead—in sincerity.  Those who received direct revelations from God didn’t appear to be searching for them and I couldn’t discover that they had been commanded to do so.  Instead, I found this phrase imbedded in descriptive commands—“this is God’s will for you.”  Each of us has an individual path down which the Lord will lead us—His word is the guiding staff by which we can be assured what is right.  We are to please Him, to obey Him and to be wise.

Lauren and I became fast friends shortly after meeting—when she was nineteen and I was sixteen.  Three years later she was slogging through her senior year of college as a history major with a few basic desires:  be done with college, get married and keep a home.  The only problem was, none of these were options at that time.  As she struggled with desires that seemed out of keeping with the visible future and her parent’s goals she considered everything from teaching, to grad school, to working in a coffee shop.  That’s when we decided to look together at God’s will—as revealed in His word.  Both Lauren and I believed that everything we were required to do was spelled out in God’s word, and everything that happened in our lives was filtered through the loving hand of our Father.

For Lauren, her desires matched up with the things she was learning in scripture—the goals God has for His women.  But her parents had goals for her as well, and her peace of mind came from knowing that God’s will was for her to submit to her authorities.  To rejoice in all things.  To give thanks in all things.  To be pure.  To seek to be like Christ.  She wasn’t expected to probe into the secret workings of God’s sovereign will or read and act on circumstances—she was only responsible to do what she knew to be right within the confines of what were available options.  The object lesson from my end was priceless as I watched Lauren take every thought captive to the Lord, give her dreams and hopes to Him in prayer and simply seek to please the Lord—even as the Lord was working behind the scenes to fulfill her desires.  As we stewed over creative plans to compromise with her parents, I knew what she did not: that my brother hoped to claim her has his wife.  Before she even graduated God had provided for her to have both a husband and a home—to her parent’s delight.

Some time later I found myself in a place of confusion and anxiety, caught between what seemed to be two choices—reason appeared to favor one while surprising circumstances pressed the other.  But even as the two choices seemed to press me, I was given a glimpse of my finite view of circumstances—how partial is my view!  What I interpret as one thing could have a completely different appearance to someone else—and how could God contradict Himself?  Knowing that the only solid footing I had was in God’s word, I was driven to my knees time and again, searching for answers to how I should think, feel, speak and behave.  As I pleaded for answers and sought to please the Lord and keep my heart pure, the scriptures came alive to me, packed with powerful pictures of God’s character and goals.  I found what I was looking for: not as a blueprint of my next fifty steps in life, but as principles which could guide me through any valley as expressions of my Shepherd’s rod and staff.

The prophet Micah spells it out clearly after a long wondering about “God’s will.”  “How shall I serve Yahweh?  With what shall I come to Yahweh?  Shall I come with burnt offerings?  With my first-born?  With what?”  And the answer?  “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does Yahweh require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.”  (Micah 6:8)  We can ask all kinds of questions and we can invent all kinds of ways to serve Yahweh, but if we want to know His will, it’s simple: He’s told us what is good—what He requires.  In His word.

Do Justice

Simply stated, to do what is right.  Always.  God is proclaimed throughout scripture as just.  His character will not allow Him to do anything but what is purely right and righteous.  As redeemed daughters of Yahweh, we are to be of the same character with Him, that we can’t do anything but what is right.  That is doing God’s will.  How do we know what is right?  God’s word reveals what He abhors, what He condemns and what separates us from Him.  We must keep our hearts and hands pure of what displeases God.  If we want to know what is just and righteous, we must look to the God revealed in the Bible.

Love Kindness

Also translated “goodness” or “mercy,” God desires for us to love what is both good and benevolent.  Justice reaches only so far, but where justice leaves off, kindness takes over.  It was justice that required death for sins, it was kindness that died and wiped them away.  God is both just and merciful and He desires that His people demonstrate His kindness.  How do we know what is kind?  Again we see God’s mercy revealed through His word, with exhortations for us to follow in His ways with hearts of compassion—knowing that we, too, have been treated with compassion.  True compassion seeks to know what is best for someone else, and offers it freely.

Walk Humbly with your God

First note the personalization—your God.  God wants to be our God and us to be His people.  That we humbly own Him as Master is the purpose of scripture—the first step in doing His will.  If we desire to walk with Him, we must humble ourselves because He is opposed to the proud.  (For some practical ideas here, see “Beheading Ye Olde Beast”)  And we must walk beside Him, faithful to be with Him, to listen to Him, to converse with Him, to learn from Him and to keep in stride with Him.  Scripture gives us countless examples of men and women who “walked with God”, fellowshipping with Him intimately—and obeying His word.  These are the true worshippers which God is actively seeking.  How can we obey Him if we don’t know what He wants?  How can we expect to do God’s will if we don’t know Him intimately?  Modern Christianity seems to insinuate that we’ve got to find His will somewhere else, since His word doesn’t detail every decision we are to make.  I ask, where else could we go?  Our lives must be filtered through the truth of God’s word.  When the future seems unclear and the decisions in our pathway appear foggy, shouldn’t we go back to the basics—study God’s word to understand God’s character and commands and make our decisions fit into that grid?  How often do we suppose that we know what God’s word says about a topic—only to discover how little we know about God’s word?  And where His word is silent, still we can find what pleases Him revealed in principles that guide and guard our hearts.

Condensed, God wills for us to belong to Him, to walk beside Him and to learn to imitate Him.  How do we make this happen?  Perhaps you caught a repetition of theme.

Another friend was running crazily, her life a mass of busyness, her thoughts a tangle of confusion.  “What does God want me doing?” she cried out in frustration.  As we talked I discovered that, in her motions, she rarely found time for reading God’s Word.  “I think there’s an answer to your question,” I offered, “But you’ll have to make some time to read some passages.”  As she studied this one she shared parallels with me that blew my mind—all of them coming back to one central theme: “Abigail,” she finally said.  “I think God’s will is for me to spend time in His word!”

“When all else fails, read the instructions,” we joke.  In our quest for God’s will, don’t we tend to complicate our lives, pursuing shifting, elusive dreams under the guise of “God’s will”?  Then what happens when they fall through?  Who failed?  Me or God?  Is it still God’s will, even after I failed?  Is God faithful if I thought this was His will and, well, it didn’t happen?  Did His will change?  Did we simply have our wires crossed?  God becomes as shifting and elusive as our emotions, our dreams and our decisions, as subjective as our inner impressions and as subject to change as our fancies.  Even the apostles didn’t claim (or perhaps, blame?) “God’s will” for every decision they made.  “It seemed good…” we read.  “It seemed good…” and they searched the scriptures.

We have a huge advantage over the prophet Micah—he had the five books of Moses, and perhaps some histories of the priests and kings and the writings of the scribes and prophets.  The apostles had the Old Testament and the words of Jesus.  We have the whole scriptures, bound in leather, with gilded pages and time-tested translations.  We see more of God’s working revealed than any other moment in time—because He’s been at work longer.  I’m a firm believer that God still speaks today.  That He makes known His will to those who seek Him earnestly.  That He reveals to the obedient exactly what He wishes to see done.  And I am a firm believer that those who love Him, obey.  Jesus came not to do His own will, but the will of His Father.  Jesus was the Word—the distillation of God’s will.  We don’t have to wait, to sweat, to weep, to pray to discover God’s will for us.  We can know we are doing His will.  We find it revealed for us in timeless clarity.  Boil it down and the practical application is to hear and obey His word.

Share this Post

Permalink 4 Comments

When God’s Will meets Woman’s Emotions

June 15, 2009 at 4:50 pm (Attitudes, God's Will, Godly Living) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Ladies, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything of substance. Actually, I’ve been working on a two-part article about emotions and controlling them and a series on the will of God. And then something happened today which brought the two into head-on collision and gave me a huge reminder of just how silly I am. I’d like to share my story, so that when I get my articles written and posted you’ll know that truly I am writing reminders to myself–like the sticky notes I leave on my desk.

Reposted from Abigail’s personal blog.

See, it’s like this: it doesn’t happen often, but when it does, beware. Today I was riding an emotional rollercoaster–and it looked like a suburban. It’s been building up for a couple of weeks. No, actually, it’s been building up for a year. A year’s worth of build-up can be pretty nasty. And to top it off, several things this weekend resulted in a complete drop-out in the careful nest of my emotions–mostly due to relief, partly due to confusion and a lot of bewilderment. Why did I have to go through all that misery, confusion and pain, trying desperately to do the right thing–and there’s no point to it?

Then along comes the reminder that I still haven’t sold the suburban. That suburban that I’ve had for a year to sell. That one goes like this: Papa gave me the suburban (sort of) to sell with a caveat. See, the money I get from the suburban is supposed to pay for my wedding. Whenever. That’s the missing link for all those people who keep pestering me to find out when I’m going to get married. I can’t until I sell this suburban. (That’s a joke…I think.) The problem is that I never wanted the suburban. In fact, it was kind of embarrassing, so I never explained to anyone why my parents gave me a suburban. In olden days girls had countries or lands or cows for dowries. I have a suburban. It’s not very useful to drive in the meanwhile and if I never sell it, it’s not exactly the kind of vehicle I care to start out with. In fact, on the surface it feels like the kind of gift where the giver says, “You know, I’ve got this thing I don’t want anymore. And someday soon, I’m going to have to pay for her wedding. So, why don’t I just give her this thing I don’t want anyway and tell her to sell it and pay for her own wedding.” And I feel just that valuable. Which isn’t very.

Is that the truth? Tell me, dear Searcher of Hearts, since when were emotions dependent on reason or truth? My wish-wash emotions aren’t terribly interested in the truth. So this gift I have has been weighing on my will, mind and emotions for a year now. And I’ve tried everything that doesn’t cost money out of my pocket in order to sell it. Oh people are interested until it comes down to a price and then they aren’t. At least not in a reasonable price. Or they’re super interested, but wait? You live in D-town? That’s too far to drive. Nevermind. More trouble than it’s worth.

And today Papa expressed his frustration that we still have a suburban. You must understand, this suburban and I are both still at home for one simple reason: the right person just hasn’t come along yet. The right person who needs just this special vehicle (which is really not so much special as not in demand) and is willing to pay the price. Yet here we are, still paying tags and taxes, trying to keep clean and spiffy and advertised something that no one wants. And here I am, trying to sell a suburban to pay for a wedding when no one even wants to marry me.

How pointless is all of that?

I fought tears and crashing emotions all the way to work where I dropped Papa off and wished him a good day and noticed that the gas was on empty. I hadn’t even been the last person to drive it, but I would get to fill it up–and I was already late for Choices. I drove away feeling frustrated, lost and unloved.

Remember, emotions are not always reasonable. Or based on truth.

Trying to talk truth into my weeping soul, I began reminding myself, “Nobody promises results, Abigail. You’re just supposed to do your best and seek to do what’s right anyway.”

“Yeah,” I argued with myself, “But that’s just not fair. I’ve tried so hard! I’ve been honest and forthright! I’ve researched, I’ve posted ads, I’ve tried to please my parents. I don’t get why hard things always happen to me. Why I’m always frustrated and hurt and confused. What am I doing wrong?”

That was a rhetorical question, you know. When I ask, “What am I doing wrong?” I don’t expect an answer, or I expect to hear “nothing.” Because, clearly, no fault lies with me.

Instead a verse in Philippians drifted over the current of my complaints. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks. This is God’s will for you.”

Great. The good ol’ rejoice always passage. Smiling is God’s will for me.

But the truth began to sink in deeper than my level of self-pity. In everything give thanks…in all honesty, I had always resented that suburban. I had viewed it as a burden, something I hadn’t asked for, which would be sold to pay for a designated purpose I never sought. Gee thanks. Some gift. In all my recalling, I could never recall being thankful for that suburban. In all my recalling, I could recall being irritated about trying to park it, or having to park it at the library for advertising and walking to Choices, or having to wash and vacuum it or having to get gas. I certainly was not grateful for that gift. A generous gift from my loving parents.

Then began the sermon. I’m very eloquent when I preach at myself. “Abigail, be grateful! You be grateful! Be grateful!” I signaled and shifted into the turn lane on Main street. “You be grateful for this suburban!”

And the suburban died. Right there in the middle of the busiest intersection in town at two o’clock in the afternoon, this suburban that I was going to be grateful for died. And it wouldn’t restart.

Two possibilities–absolutely no gas, not even fumes. Or the battery, which we’d just replaced and had worked on, since the battery light was on. Becky called to tell me there was no power at the clinic and we were closed and I sniffled into the phone as I explained where I was anyway. Kindly she offered whatever help she could. Then I called Mom to see if Josiah could tell me anything about what my next course of action should be. I didn’t relish braving oncoming traffic while checking on the battery if I just needed more gas. I tried starting it again. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Even on empty, surely I could have made it that last block to the gas station.

Then I heard sirens and saw the flashing blue lights. By now I had tears streaming down my face. So much for being grateful, I was ready to call a wrecker and have this stupid car towed. And plan a fifty dollar wedding. Fifty years from now. I feel terribly sorry for the police man who approached my door. He probably has enough to do dealing with one emotional woman at home. When I opened my door I was both laughing and crying. And I know I must have looked like a tiny teen who didn’t know squat about cars. He quickly noted the for sale signs and asked, “Are you just test-driving?” Ludicrous. I don’t WANT this car. Can’t you tell that just from looking? (I’m sure my parents never guessed. I still need to be sure I’ve thanked them.) I tried to explain my situation as best I could and he nodded in sympathy. “Can you start it for me?” Which I did and nothing happened. Then he said, “Do you have it in park?” Well, no. I’d been driving when it died. And I was already emotionally nuts by then. Of course I didn’t think to put it in park. I shifted into park and turned the key. And it started. “I feel stupid,” I said and laughed and snorted and choked on tears. “You’re okay,” he smiled. “See if you can make it to 2nd and Arkansas and I’ll follow you.”

I made it. And filled up. And went home. And washed the suburban. Vacuumed it. And sprayed that silly foam on the tires to make them shiny. Because everyone is looking for a car with shiny tires, you know. Then I posted up some new ads. And I whispered, “Thank you for this suburban. I don’t understand. I don’t get it. It doesn’t seem fair. It hurts. It’s annoying. I don’t see the point. But thank you.”

Because I don’t have to understand. Things don’t have to go right. Things don’t have to make sense or have a point. But I have to be thankful. That’s God’s will.

Now, the temptation is to say, “Look, Abigail! You learned your lesson! You’re thankful now! God can bless you now!”

But the Lord is not a genii in a bottle. Rubbing Him right doesn’t earn me three wishes. Doing the right thing doesn’t equal getting what I want. I assure you, I want to sell this suburban. Trust means doing the right thing and believing that He sees it, is pleased and will reward it–sometime. Someway. His way. I can’t make anyone buy that suburban. I can’t make things happen by believing–that’s humanism, paganism–not Christianity. But by believing, sometimes I can see things that are happening in a new light–I can believe God’s promises that He will withhold no good thing from those who walk uprightly, that He works all things for the good of those who love Him, that trials produce proven character and that His will for me is my sanctification–that I would be made holy like Him. With those promises in mind, I can look squarely at anything thrown my way and say “Okay. Thanks.”

Thank you, Lord, for an excellent reminder.  Please make me holy.

And…when You get around to it…please sell my suburban.

Share this Post

Permalink Leave a Comment

A Lesson From a Rose

May 28, 2009 at 2:49 pm (Attitudes, God's Will, Poetry) (, , , , , , )

lesson-from-a-rose

“I’d like a little rose to place
Upon my dresser in a vase.”
The pleading eyes of amber hues
How could that look a man refuse?
“Just wait a bit,” the father smiled,
While looking fondly on his child.
“When gone are all the wintry snows
We’ll go and pick a perfect rose!”
The child turned her face away,
“I’ll go and pick one anyway.
My father has great things on mind
And though means only to be kind,
Still I have seen the scarlet blooms
And if I do not take one soon
They’ll wither and then turn to slime
Before my father finds the time.”
So saying, she her small steps took
Down to the arbor near the brook.
She gazed long moments at the wall
All covered with the buds still small
And wondered which the blushing sun
Would mark out as the perfect one.
Her dimpled hand reached out to take
The tender bud yet unawake
Still nodding in the morning light
Before the summer kissed it bright.
Into the vase the small flower went
Without the slightest accident
And soon it graced the dresser top.
It never bloomed, but drooped then dropped.
A flower with perfection’s plan
Was ruined by impatient hands.
The father saw the child’s choice
And though he never raised his voice,
He sighed that it should never come
To fullest beauty in the sun.
He’d raised that rose with her in mind
But his love’s gift she’d undermined
And what, if left to him, would be
The perfect bloom of purity,
Because once plucked it withered there
Was never seen in beauty rare.
How often we grasp much too soon
And seize God’s blessings ere they bloom.

Copyright 2005 by Abigail

Share this Post

Permalink 3 Comments

Behind the Scenes on My Vanishing Act

March 26, 2009 at 7:14 pm (Announcements, God's Will, Godly Living) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello Sisters! I realize I’ve been missing in action for several weeks now…at least in the online world.  Many small factors have played into my absence, and you deserve an explanation.  My Mom and Papa were in a minor motorcycle accident about three weeks ago and Papa broke his collar bone.  It seems to be healing well (though still swollen, green and painful), but he’s been on temporary disability which leaves him home—for at least a month.  Always, anything unexpected brings both unexpected blessings and stretching.  You see, I’m a person of projects.  My projects always seem, to me, to be of great importance—whether blogging or taking pictures or journaling or designing literature.  But sometimes something “interferes” with my projects and I must learn the secret of priorities—the priorities the Lord has created for me.  Blogging is something that has blessed me and been an enjoyable outlet, as have writing, music and many of the other “projects” in which I’ve engaged—but it is not a God-ordained priority.  The Lord has set up priorities that start with my relationship with Him and continue to serving my family, then to outreach to those in my immediate life.  With my father off work, I’ve been super busy.  At first, my heart stubbornly resented the intrusion into my “projects” and “goals” at first, but the Lord is patiently reminding me what’s most important.  Honestly, I’ve come to enjoy the break from my project-driven mentality.  I know that I’m doing God’s will, serving the Lord, when I simply obey and serve my father.  It’s pretty freeing.

The blessings have been surprising as well!  I’m an idealistic realist, which means that I don’t believe ideal exists but I’m holding out for it anyway.  J Over the past several months, frustration had built up in my heart:  frustration with status quo, with the mundane—with things I struggle with perceiving as unnecessary wastes of time.  Why do people have to eat, anyway?  A couple of weeks ago, I came to Papa in tears with a pile of questions taller than I am.  Having him home gave us some time to work through some of my confusion and frustration and bring me back into focus—reminding me that God is the One who works miracles and that many mundane things are for my own good—to prove my character.  And my hopeless tendency to forever reevaluate what I’m doing has been God’s very tool for honing and strengthening me.  He forever reminds me that He still works through things that aren’t ideal and that I simply must depend on Him to work in His perfect way.  I wasn’t redeemed to serve God—as an end in itself.  He has angels who constantly do His will.  I was redeemed to be restored to an intimate relationship with Him—as Adam and Eve once walked with Him in the garden.  All the working and learning in the world are empty eating from the Tree of Knowledge without a relationship with God—the author of wisdom.  And no matter where I am or what I am doing, I can walk with God.

This time of year my life always turns upside down with crazy busyness (you know, weddings, graduations, “projects”, people) and I struggle to balance everything.  The Lord has given me a simple reminder to prioritize and rest in Him, knowing that only one thing is truly important:  being with Jesus.

So, ladies, whether or not I make it back online any time soon, my cry remains the same:  Love Jesus!  Be with Jesus.  Serve Jesus.

Blessings in Christ,

abigails-sig1

Permalink 3 Comments

Lessons Learned…And Still Learning!

October 7, 2008 at 7:36 pm (A Slice of Life, Attitudes, God's Will, Godly Living, Homemaking) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

As many of you have probably noticed, I have taken a break from blogging for, well, nearly a month now!  I’m sorry that I pulled away while in the middle of the series on situational modesty-I didn’t want to quit after dealing with only one situation!  I didn’t want to leave our readers hanging!

That said, I do not regret the decision to stop writing for a while.  My life had become rather disorderly and discouraging because of some wrong thinking and wrong actions that I had allowed to creep in.  So after talking with Nathaniel about my need for focusing on the basics, he agreed that I should put down the pen and take care of my top priorities.

And really, that’s what this has been all about-priorities.  God has created me and saved me to be first and foremost His daughter, His maidservant, His worshiper.  And He has given me in marriage to my husband Nathaniel, to be his wife, his helper, his home-maker.  My job, my career as it were, is to serve my God by serving my husband.  It’s incredible the way even good things can turn into major distractions when we set them up as more important than simple obedience to what God has clearly commanded in His word.  And such has been the case with writing for this blog.  I had begun to view it as my job, and I approached it in a professional manner, seeking to do my best, meet deadlines, etc.  And with the same mentality as the modern feminist, I eagerly threw myself into the task, the “ministry”, and allowed that to become more important to me than my wifely duties.

Having something else-something more visible to the rest of the world-made me feel important.  When people asked what I do, I could now say that I’m more than just a housewife-I’m a writer, too!  But why do I want more?  Why is serving God and my husband not enough?  Because I was seeking the praise of man, and I was allowing humanistic, feminist ideas to influence both my thinking and my actions!

It played out something like this:

Week one: I love being at home serving my husband.  I’m so glad that he supports me in staying home and not having a career-it’s such a blessing to be able to focus on serving God in our home.  With that in mind, Nathaniel has encouraged me in my decision to start a blog with Abigail-we really want to share a vision for biblical womanhood with young ladies, challenging them to obey what God has commanded us as women.  It’ll be a good outlet for my many ideas and writing.  God has done so much in my life to conform me to what He desires, and it has brought great blessing!  I want to share this with others.

Week two: Blogging is going well, we’re growing; it’s fun and challenging.  Spent too much time online reading and commenting on other blogs…I’ve neglected the laundry for a few days…I really need to get that done!  All in all, though, I’m managing things pretty well.

Week three: God seems to really be using our blog to encourage other girls in their walk with Christ!  There’s so much I want to write about!  I think I’ll write a series on situational modesty!  And I need to set deadlines…be really professional about this…other bloggers seem to be doing well by doing this or that…I think I’ll try that.  Might take a little more time, but the more people know about our blog, the more God can reach with our message about biblical womanhood!

Week four: Got up and saw Nathaniel off to work.  Then logged on to the computer.  I’ve got a lot to do today, and I wanted to get going on my writing.  Oh, dear.  I ended up spending three hours in front of the computer-writing and surfing blogs.  I’m such an information junkie.  Sigh…end of the day, what have I gotten done…whoa, I hardly got anything done that I intended to do.  And…well, I guess I’ll read a Psalm before I go to bed.

Week five: Three articles into the series on situational modesty.  It’s really been a blessing to see how ladies have responded-kinda calmed my fears that I’d be stepping on people’s toes.  My morning Bible study has been anything but consistent lately…and usually I end up reading God’s word for my writing more than to spend time with him…that’s not quite best, but at least I’m in the word each day!  I think I’ll go to the coffee shop to write and study…I feel more professional there than at home.

Week six: UGG…I do NOT want to write this next article.  The swimsuit thing was a lot of work, and people seemed to appreciate it…but this next article might really stir things up…I am dreading writing it!  Sigh…and there’s so much piled up here around the house…and I’ve been so emotional lately-it’s like I’m driven by my emotions.  What’s up with that?

Week seven: Ok, this article is not writing itself, so I’d better get started on it.  I’ll do an outline.  There, my notes are done.  Wow, that’s a lot to cover.  Oh, I want to write it now, but there is a huge stack of dishes to be washed!  Good grief!  I wish those dishes would just do themselves!  This takes so long.  How am I supposed to keep up with a decent writing schedule when it takes so long to keep up with things around the house?  And I just have to do it all over again the next day?!?!  I’m a writer, why should I have to deal with this stuff?  I’ll just get Nathaniel to help me clean up this evening…

Breaking point: Wow, I used to love serving and cleaning and organizing.  I love being at home, and I love being a home-maker for my husband.  So why have I not enjoyed it lately?  Gasp!  I’ve placed other things above the things that are most important!  I’m just like the career-minded woman-even though I’m not getting paid and I’m not even leaving my home, I have sought to escape my most basic responsibilities, neglecting them to pursue something else!  If I have as my highest daily priority something other than worshiping the Lord and serving my husband, if I am more eager to do that new priority than the other two, then I have 1) created an idol, 2) begun to embrace the feminist mindset that values personal fulfillment and achievement more than God and family, and 3) I’ve robbed myself of any joy in doing what I have been called to do, because I have come to see something else as a higher calling.

The major indicator of this problem that became most evident to my dear husband was my attitude of discontentment.  I simply wasn’t happy and couldn’t figure out why.  I would talk to Nathaniel about how I felt, and he gently and wisely alerted me to what I was saying-I wasn’t content.  I was looking for the things around me to be just right in order for me to be able to function, to be disciplined, to be happy.  Instead of being satisfied in my Savior, and thankful for all He’s done for me and given me, and instead of thriving where He’s planted me, I had neglected to give thanks, neglected to stay put, and I sought affirmation from other people and comfort from doing whatever I felt like doing at the moment.  Living to please yourself really is the short cut to emptiness.

And when I’m empty I have nothing to give to others.  I cannot teach others to do what I am not doing.  I cannot spiritually encourage others when I am downtrodden.  I cannot serve my husband to the best of my ability when I’m worried about serving my readers (most of whom I’ve never even met).  I cannot glorify God in my writing if I am not glorifying God in my daily life!

Isn’t it amazing how quickly we can fall into wrong thinking and allow everything to be turned on its head?  Isn’t it amazing how quickly we can allow something like “ministry” to get in the way of what God really wants us to be doing?  This was hard to take in once I realized what I’d been doing.  In brokenness I confessed my wrong thinking and wrong priorities and attitudes to my husband, and expressed to him what I saw to be a very clear solution (or part of the solution):  pull away from blogging.

If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it far from you…Let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us…All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable…All things are lawful, but I will not be mastered by anything.  Scripture is clear.  I knew what I had to do.  I had to cut out the idol-and for an undetermined amount of time.  And this was best anyway, since I didn’t have anything to offer-no wonder I dreaded writing my next article!  I was running on empty!

I’ve had a lot to learn in the area of personal discipline over the past several weeks-my unwarranted loyalty to blogging was only the most obvious problem.  It seemed that everything was in disarray when I finally hit my breaking point.  And now things are looking up, so I’m slowly getting back to writing, though now with a new focus.  I’d like to share more of what I’ve learned in my “time off” in future posts, but I think what I’ve written here will suffice to bring you up to speed for now.  Just please learn from my mistakes.  Don’t allow ANYTHING to get in the way of simple, joyful obedience to the things God has clearly called you to in His word.

May we keep in mind lessons learned, and may we continue learning to please the Lord in everything we think, say, and do!  Grace and peace!

Permalink 18 Comments