Thursday, December 27, 2007

Daily Challenge- Women

Sometime in the near future I would love to write a series of posts on masculinity and feminity as a continuation of the comment discussions. For now, though, I thought I would share with you something that I do to keep focused on becoming a woman of God.

Several years ago I found A Challenge to Women by John Piper. The first time I read it I was blown away- it is incredibly comprehensive and yet concise. I began to read it, at least weekly, and use it as a reminder and prayer guide for myself.

Several months ago I found this at Target (for $1.99!):

It started as a place where I was going to transfer my million individul Scripture memory cards into the "short" method I use now (read about it here).
Then I had the idea to put my prayer list, divided into days of the week, in there too:

As I read over my tattered copy of A Challenge to Women I got a flutter in my heart (ok, these kinds of things excite me!)- I could also break down the Challenge to Women by days!

1. That all of your life—in whatever calling—be devoted to the glory of God.
2. That the promises of Christ be trusted so fully that peace and joy and strength fill your soul to overflowing.
3. That this fullness of God overflow in daily acts of love so that people might see your good deeds and give glory to your Father in heaven.

4. That you be women of the Book, who love and study and obey the Bible in every area of its teaching. That meditation on Biblical truth be the source of hope and faith. And that you continue to grow in understanding through all the chapters of your life, never thinking that study and growth are only for others.
5. That you be women of prayer, so that the Word of God would open to you; and the power of faith and holiness would descend upon you; and your spiritual influence would increase at home and at church and in the world.

6. That you be women who have a deep grasp of the sovereign grace of God undergirding all these spiritual processes, that you be deep thinkers about the doctrines of grace, and even deeper lovers and believers of these things.
7. That you be totally committed to ministry, whatever your specific role, that you not fritter your time away on soaps or ladies magazines or aimless hobbies, any more than men should fritter theirs away on excessive sports or aimless diddling in the garage. That you redeem the time for Christ and his Kingdom.

8. That, if you are single, you exploit your singleness to the full in devotion to Christ and not be paralyzed by the desire to be married.
9. That, if you are married, you creatively and intelligently and sincerely support the leadership of your husband as deeply as obedience to Christ will allow; that you encourage him in his God-appointed role as head; that you influence him spiritually primarily through your fearless tranquility and holiness and prayer.

10. That, if you have children, you accept responsibility with your husband (or alone if necessary) to raise up children who hope in the triumph of God, sharing with him the teaching and discipline of the children, and giving to the children that special nurturing touch and care that you are uniquely fitted to give.
11. That you not assume that secular employment is a greater challenge or a better use of your life than the countless opportunities of service and witness in the home the neighborhood, the community, the church, and the world. That you not only pose the question: Career vs. full time mom? But that you ask as seriously: Full time career vs. freedom for ministry? That you ask: Which would be greater for the Kingdom— to be in the employ of someone telling you what to do to make his business prosper, or to be God's free agent dreaming your own dream about how your time and your home and your creativity could make God's business prosper? And that in all this you make your choices not on the basis of secular trends or yuppie lifestyle expectations, but on the basis of what will strengthen the family and advance the cause of Christ.

12. That you step back and (with your husband, if you are married) plan the various forms of your life's ministry in chapters. Chapters are divided by various things—age, strength, singleness, marriage, employment choices, children at home, children in college, grandchildren, retirement, etc. No chapter has all the joys. Finite life is a series of tradeoffs. Finding God's will, and living for the glory of Christ to the full in every chapter is what makes it a success, not whether it reads like somebody else's chapter or whether it has in it what chapter five will have.
13. That you develop a wartime mentality and lifestyle; that you never forget that life is short, that billions of people hang in the balance of heaven and hell every day, that the love of money is spiritual suicide, that the goals of upward mobility (nicer clothes, cars, houses, vacations, food, hobbies) are a poor and dangerous substitute for the goals of living for Christ with all your might, and maximizing your joy in ministry to people's needs.

14. That in all your relationships with men you seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in applying the Biblical vision of manhood and womanhood; that you develop a style and demeanor that does justice to the unique role God has given to man to feel responsible for gracious leadership in relation to women—a leadership which involves elements of protection and care and initiative. That you think creatively and with cultural sensitivity (just as he must do) in shaping the style and setting the tone of your interaction with men.
15. That you see Biblical guidelines for what is appropriate and inappropriate for men and women in relation to each other not as arbitrary constraints on freedom but as wise and gracious prescriptions for how to discover the true freedom of God's ideal of complementarity.

That you not measure your potential by the few roles withheld but by the countless roles offered. That you turn off the TV and Radio and think about...

The awesome significance of motherhood

Complementing a man's life as his wife

Ministries to the handicapped:
hearing impaired

Ministries to the sick:
hospice care—cancer, AIDS, etc.
community health

Ministries to the socially estranged:
emotionally impaired
recovering alcoholics
recovering drug users
escaping prostitutes
abused children, women
runaways, problem children

Prison ministries:
women's prisons!
families of prisoners
rehabilitation to society

Ministries to youth:
open houses and recreation
outings and trips
academic assistance

Sports ministries:
neighborhood teams
church teams

Therapeutic counseling:
church based

Audio visual ministries:

Writing ministries:
free lance
curriculum development
institutional communications
journalistic skills for publications

Teaching ministries:
Sunday school: children, youth, students, women
grade school
high school

Music ministries:

Evangelistic ministries:
personal witnessing
Inter Varsity
Campus Crusade
Home Bible Studies
outreach to children
Visitation teams
Counseling at meetings
Billy Graham phone bank
Radio and TV ministries:
technical assistance

Theater and drama ministries:

Social ministries:

Pastoral care assistance:
newcomer welcoming and assistance
food and clothing and transportation

Prayer ministries:
mobilizing for major Concerts of Prayer
helping with small groups of prayer
coordinating prayer chains
promoting prayer days and weeks and vigils

all of the above across cultures

Support ministries:
countless jobs that undergird major ministries

So, now I have a daily pile of cards-
1. Prayer
2. Challenge to Women
3. Scripture memory (new and review)

Girls, PLEASE take this idea and do it for yourself!

Guys, think about writing your own resolutions like Jonathan Edwards did (see them here) and referring to them daily. Like:

10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.

I do think about this one every time I get hurt. It sounds funny, but it puts life and pain- ALL things into perspective. Why does God allow us to feel pain when we get a paper cut, stub our toe or wake up with a sore back? It is not "just another part of being human" but another opportunity to make us more like Christ.

Hummm.... maybe I should pick some of Edwards too... :-)

Monday, December 17, 2007

In General

Thanks for all the comments regarding the last post!!! I love to see it. :-) I am working on an indepth post, but I wanted to clear up some things first. (Thanks, Scott, for your insight and encouragement. Your wife will be blessed!)

1- I pray for all of the single men in my life on a regular basis. I have a great burden for all of you and desire to see each one of my male friends (just like my girl friends) pursuing Christ to the fullest. I also pray for the future spouses of my dearest guy friends- whoever those girls are! The times you live in are hard and I believe single men face struggles unlike any generation in the past.

2- My comments were not direct criticism to any of you Godly, elligible and single men. Each of you have circumstances and situations that are unique. God will direct you as He pleases. Several of you, like Anderw and Scott, have made great sacrifices to their own desire to be married in obedience to what God has called you to do. I understand and respect that VERY much! My statements were also not a command that you should marry tomorrow. Marriage, as high of a calling as it is, it not the end goal nor purpose of life.

3- What I said comes from several "frustrations":

A- My own singleness. I want to be married! I could be a girl that dates for fun. I don't. I could have a suiter if I was flirtatious. I'm not. I could waste time and emotions dating guys to "see" if they are the one. I'm not going to do that. AND I could be married, but it was not God's will. I am thankful, so thankful for that! It is hard to be a girl that desires marriage in an age when marriage is not taken seriously. It is hard to be a girl that is not going to take the relationship in her own hands, like so many do, and find a guy. It is hard to be a girl that is not wanting to settle for the average man. It is hard, from a human perspective, and it is an ongoing area where I must trust God and believe Him. The fact that I am still single does not shock God and He will (and IS) using it for His glory.

B- Many men are still boys. (Remember I am talking in generalities now... but I have known many guys like this!) There are girls that want to be married, have children and build a home. A majority of the men that are saying they desire marriage seem to be doing nothing to pursue it. Instead, they are buying toys, going on trips and telling the girls they "love" that they are not ready to be "tied down." (Which is sad for us girls to be viewed that way!) When us girls see that happening so much we begin to feel like a product or an accessory to have and be discarded. The guy wants somone cute, thin and loyal, but he avoids commitment. The girls get tired of being used and are willing to give him more than what should be given in hopes to keep him.

C- Cultural shift and sin. Sin causes losts of problems and a low/distorted view of marriage is just another one. As cultures move farther and farther away from God, we will continue to see marriage degrated. More people, including Christians, will lower their standards and accept what should not be. We must continue to fight against worldly thinking in order to be a people that treasures marriage the way Christ does. How rare and beautiful strong, Christ-centered marriages are! We do not marry for the sake of marriage- but to display a mystery that is to mirror Christ and His Bride, the Church. Sin will always decieve and the enemy will always hate marriage because God loves it!

4- I want to be a girl that, by my integrity, purity and Godliness, encourages the single men in my life TO marry. Many guys I know look around and are very discouraged by what they see in women- including Christian single women. There ARE many dominating, immodest, controlling, manipulating, career-minded and vain Christian women. Most of my dear guy friends want a girl that is exactly the opposite of that! Even though I will only marry one, I can be an encouragement to other single men that Godly single women DO exist! I am not perfect by any means, but I want to be a woman that will bring delight, honor and joy to one man. One of the ways I can honor my future husband is by encouraging single men to marry- to be like Christ and take a bride (isn't it amazing that although Christ did not have an earthly bride, He still purchased one, the Church, and calls us His Bride!) I pray there are people encouraging my husband in the same way!!!

5- Masculinity and femininity are under attack in many ways. I believe that God gave the man a different level of responsibility than He gave the woman. It was to Adam that God gave the headship of Eve. She was to follow him. Now, this does not mean that all problems (like feminism) are the man's fault. Women are just as sinful, corrupt and depraved. We girls cause a lot of problems, trust me. I long to see more men taking leadership like we see in the lives of men like Jonathan Edwards or Hudson Taylor. I also desire to see women joyfully following like Sarah Edwards and Mary Taylor! The weight for the different roles must fall on the respective genders. The discouraging thing for me and a dozen of my Godly female friends is that in order to be a Sarah Edwards, we must have a Jonathan Edwards... and there does not appear to be enough to go around. :-) And God did away with multiple wives a few thousand years ago!

6- God's design. God created marriage. He loves it. He wants us to love the things He loves. Our Christian culture sees it more like a duty or a stage of life. God delights in marriage because it is a picture of the gospel to the unbelieving world. Also, since marriage is under attack in so many ways, what a joy to be a person that would display the original picture!

I hope that this explains a little of what I was thinking in my last post. Do not take what I said as an insult, but an encouragement. I am sorry if I came across crtical or harsh.

Galant asked that we girls pray for single men. Like I said, I do. I ask, as well, that you pray for the Godly single girls in your life. Many of them, if they are like the 100+ I know, are discouraged AND starting to take things into their own hands. It is causing them a lot of heart ache. Pray that we girls would learn to trust God as we continue to prepare for the one who will win our heart. Pray that we would be women of virtue in a perverted world. Pray that we would delight in who God has made us- keepers of the home, child bearers, followers, etc. Pray for us by praying for our husbands! You will know better than we the struggles our yet-to-be-husbands are facing!

Blessings to all!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

UNabridged Me

I have been writing a post about thankfulness for about a month now. It is far from being done, so I might save it until next Thanksgiving. My mind has been very active and a lot has been happening, so I am going to write. I am not going to edit, give disclaimers or organize it in any way. This is a look into the mind and happenings of Jaclyn in the last few weeks.

- I am incredibly busy at work. Since I have never been in this position at the end of the year I had no idea what the realities were of the year end processes for payroll. Let me tell you- it is insane.

- I have been reading a book called, "Getting Ready for Getting Married." The title is deceiving, but Part One was amazing. Hopefully I will have a post on it later, but for now I will say a few things. 1. Why aren't the elligible, Godly, single men that SAY they want to get married pursuing the elligible, Godly, single women? 2. Since the elligible, Godly, single men are not pursuing the elligible, Godly, single women, the women are feeling desperate, depressed and are taking leadership. Bad news. If you want to get married, men, then marry! There are a million girls out there who are waiting... and 100+ years ago it was seen as immature and (to some groups of people a sin) for a man to delay marriage. 3. Since marriage is being delayed, we have raised a generation of women that are career minded, money seeking and abandoning the home- they are trying to find security and worth somewhere. 4. Not to mention the best childbearing years are passing most of us very quickly... and a woman's true delight and feminity is seen in having children.

- I love driving in snow, as long as it is not with a million people stuck on the interstate who, over the summer, somehow forgot how to drive in snow.

- God has been teaching me that longing for His good gifts is not wrong, unless I place them above Him.

- I want an iPod.

- I said I wasn't buying Christmas presents and that I was going to do something really creative and fun. Ha. I am buying presents.

- How can it be that we who profess to follow Christ actually love the things He hates? Who deceived us and said we could delight in what is evil and yet we do not even call it evil because we are so blind?

- How does a follower of Christ look to the world? How should we look?

- Missionary taxes are complicated.

- In the winter food is abundant and I wonder where it is the other 11 months of the year.

- If God is my true delight and treasure, I would be willing to do anything for Him. I had a conversation with a dear friend a few weeks ago and he said something that has made me think. He told me that God is not out for behavior modification and that He looks at the heart, not behavior. Now, that statement is true. The context of the statement, though, makes the statement false. I cannot do anything I want. 1 John says that if we love Him we will do what He commands. If I am doing what He commands, then my behavior will change. I will want my behavior to change. I cannot say that I love God and then do the opposite all the time just because I know God loves me. That is trampling the grace of God and not true faith. But, I do not change my beahvior to try to earn or gain salvation. I cannot. I will never be perfect, but I am called to perfection. Jesus is my righteousness and He purifies me from all sin. And I have to be willing to say that sin is sin. I cannot cover it up with an "I love Jesus and He loves me" sitcker or a "God's grace is enough" bandaid. If God hates a movie- or all movies- do I treasure Him more than they? If God begins to purge thoughts, actions and attidudes, will I obey? As I draw closer to God I am seeing the world differently. It is hard because so many people- mostly people who profess to love Christ- do not see it the same way. It appears that they go on, as they always have, doing the things they do, wasting time, wasting money and goinging to church. The more I love Him the more I want to do for Him... to show His worth and to be like Him!!!

- I'm going back to work now.