An Unshakable Foundation

Foundation: The base on which something rests.
What is foundational in our lives?

  • Our home
  • Our family
  • Our church
  • Our health
  • Our relationships
  • Our job

What would happen if the very things that are so foundational to who we are were taken away?

Psalm 46 “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore, we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with its turmoil. There is a river; its streams delight the city of God, the holy dwelling place of the Most High. God is within her; she will not be toppled. God will help her when the morning dawns. Nations rage, kingdoms topple; the earth melts when He lifts His voice, The LORD of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Come, see the works of the Lord, who brings devastation on the earth. He makes wars cease throughout the earth. He shatters bows and cuts spears to pieces; He burns up the chariots. ‘Stop your fighting and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.’ Yahweh of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our stronghold.”

Would we still believe that (if the foundational things of our life were shaken) God is our strength, always with us, and fighting for us? If everything foundational was gone, would we keep trusting God?

There are two things we must remember:
Never forget that God can calm the chaos.
God has delivered us in the past.

The mistake is when we try to calm the chaos ourselves. God has disarmed and defused the things that have hurt us. We must stop just believing the words on the page and believe in the God that really is those things. We must start TRUSTING WHO HE SAYS HE IS.

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God is our refuge. God is our strength. God is our helper in times of trouble. And our goal is to NOT FEAR. God enables us to run to the chaotic things that we once were a part of and laugh at them because He has calmed the waters. He takes what once was disastrous and makes it beautifully calm.

Not once, but twice David writes these words. . .
“The LORD of Hosts is WITH US. The God of Jacob is our STRONGHOLD.”

The Lord is with us!! Trust Him!! Let Him be your foundation, because He is the one foundation that CANNOT and WILL NOT be shaken.

It is Well with My Soul

It is well with my soul.

I did not truly understand what that meant until this year. I have sung those words over and over, said them over and over. . . but this year I truly came to mean it, to say it and sing it with a heart of worship.

This school year will definitely be my favorite for many reasons but the first and most important reason is because I met Jesus. I know Jesus! I have been saved by Jesus! My life has been radically changed by Jesus, for Jesus!

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I have peace. A peace that is a peace of wholeness and of wellness that only comes from JESUS. Jesus is my source of love, comfort, and peace! He is where I find myself always content, always satisfied yet still always desiring Him more and more!

His love never runs out. His love is relentless. His love is always pursuing us.

My life is not about me, my past, or my sin. But my life is about HIM and I exist to bring Him glory. I want my life, who I am, my past and my sin, ALL to point to HIS GOODNESS AND HIS MERCY AND HIS LOVE. His work in my life is nothing from myself, but all because of Him.

IT’S ALL BECAUSE OF YOU JESUS AND IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL.

Sins Consequences and God’s Plans

We all know the verse Jeremiah 29:11, right? I would even say that the majority of people I know have at one point or another either claimed this as their “life verse” or have had it plastered on the wall at their graduation party. Well if you didn’t, I did. And honestly, it’s okay if that was or is you too! This verse holds so much truth within it. But I am afraid that just as I once did, many people are looking at this verse without really grasping what the Lord was saying.

index“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you, not to harm you. To give you a hope and a future.”

For SIXTEEN WEEKS now, I have been studying Jeremiah 29:10-14. For sixteen weeks I have studied five verses as I have prepared to write a 60 page exegetical paper for my BIBL 350 Inductive Bible Study Course at school. Some of you are probably thinking that I have wasted my time. Some of you are probably thinking I am crazy. Some of you are probably asking why five verses needed sixteen weeks of my time. And this is why . . .For as long as I can remember, before I began this sixteen week study on this passage, I have quoted Jeremiah 29:11 in a way that it was not intended for. I used that scripture as a “good word” or as “personal encouragement” instead of paying attention to why the Lord said those words in the first place. I did not use this verse as truth from the mouth of GOD.

In Jeremiah 29:10-14, the Israelites had just been put into captivity because they continually disobeyed God. They were going to be in captivity for seventy years.

10 For this is what the Lord says: “When 70 years for Babylon are complete, I will attend to you and will confirm My promise concerning you to restore you to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and places where I banished you”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “I will restore you to the place I deported you from.”

The Lord began speaking to them saying that once their time in captivity was over, He would restore them. He assured them of the good plans He had for them. He also told them that they need to pray to Him, seek Him, and search for Him whole-heartedly and if they do so then He will reveal His-self to them.

HERE IS MY POINT. Does God have good plans for your life? To prosper you and give you a hope and a future? ABSOLUTELY. But that’s not it! What was happening in this passage is that a group of people sinned and because of their sin, they had to face the consequences. And even in the midst of their sin and its consequences, God was still with them and forgave them but He had to let them go through a season  of facing the consequences of their sin so that they could be refined through Him, to realize that they needed Him. In order for them to receive the promise God had pronounced over them, they needed to turn back to Him and seek Him. AND ITS THE SAME FOR YOU AND ME. God does have perfect plans for our lives that are for our good, but we must be aware that our sin has consequences and if we want blessings that the Lord has in store for us, we must seek after Him. Remember, even in the midst of our sin and its consequences, He is still there and He is still good. He loves us enough to allow us to go through seasons of refining and seasons where we have nothing but Him to rely only on Him.

 

 

 

 

 

The Importance of Community Amongst Women in the Body of Christ

Hebrews 10:24-25 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.

This would seem pretty obvious right? That we, as women, need community with one another in the body of Christ. Well, you’d think so. . . but sometimes we mistake legitimate, REAL, community with fellow sisters in Christ for quick spills like, “Hey, how are you? I’m praying for you!”. I think the problem is that we look over the need for women’s ministry, we’re not exactly sure what it looks like, or we struggle with consistency.

Women’s ministry is silently listening to the Lord’s voice so that we may be fully submissive in being His bondslave to other women as we walk beside them, seeking the Father together. Women’s ministry is seeking God, making Him known, and shifting our focus off of ourselves to others so that we may reach them, as we live out biblical, womanly aspects in the church, world, and home.

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I think we could all agree that fellowship, food, and friends is all good (especially when put together) correct? Of course. But if we’re missing JESUS, we are missing the point! Let’s go a little deeper into the nitty, gritty stuff instead of scraping the surface of what God intended relationships among the women of Christ to look like. Let’s saturate ourselves into the LIVING WORD, the freedom of Yahweh, who makes us alive!

As women, we struggle with A LOT:

  • Heartache
  • Disappointment
  • Fear
  • Bitterness
  • Unforgiveness
  • Anger
  • Regret
  • Abandonment
  • Shame
  • Insecurity

“Without Christ, every woman has intense insecurities. Unless we find our identity in Him, we Christian women can be just as prone to insecurities about our appearance as unbelievers. To Christ, the most beautiful person on earth is the one making preparation to meet the Groom.”

 -Beth Moore

We can’t do it alone, ladies. Ultimately, we need the Lord as He is the ONLY one can mend our hearts to what He created them to be. Secondly, however, we NEED community with others sisters in Christ. We need more vulnerability, transparency, and accountability within our relationships with each other. Our desire in life should be to know Christ and to make Him known. As women in the Lord, we need to seek God together, encouraging each other to study Him whole-heartedly, becoming more like Him. And it should not stop there. Let’s not just pray for our sisters BUT WITH our sisters. Let’s run after God together and pour into one another continually.

Believing Who He Says He Is

Every time I begin my quiet time with God, I start off by telling God who He is before I thank Him for what He has done and before I bring my requests to Him. God, You are: sovereign, almighty, good, my Father, a provider, faithful, love, consistent, my peace, my comfort, satisfying, always with me, etc. . . 

And it’s true, God is all those things at all times; but at the end of the day do I really believe who He says He is?  Based on how I respond to my actions, my thoughts, my low of the day, my high of the day, and everything in between, will say a lot about who I really believe God to be.

Stay with me for a moment. 

If I mess up or if I fall back into a sin I’ve been struggling with, sometimes it’s really easy to tell myself, “Well, you’ve done it again. You’ve chosen what you want instead of what God wants. You’re too far gone now. He’s mad at you, He’s not going to forgive you again, He loves you less.” If something goes really  wrong
or if something negative happens during the day it’s really easy to tell myself, “Look, everything has been going so good for you. It’s been so easy for you. And now this? You really think He wants the best for you? If He did, this wouldn’t be happening.” If something really good happens or if everything is going great, it’s really easy to tell myself, “You’re fine! Everything is going great! You spent time with Jesus so much already, take a break. You can just do it some other time.”

When I think those things, I’m really degrading who Jesus really is. Since the month of May, the Lord has really been growing me to really see Him for who He truly is (instead of  believing He sees me like I see me). But here’s my point. JESUS DOES NOT SEE ME LIKE I SEE ME. Can I get an Amen?! How amazing is that?  Jesus is FORGIVENESS. Jesus is MORE THAN ENOUGH. Jesus LOVES ME. Jesus KNOWS Me. Jesus is not just better, but BEST. Jesus does not need me, but He WANTS ME. Does Jesus delight in my sin, my mess-ups, or the negative things that may happen in my life? Of course not. Does the Lord love for me to spend time with Him so I can know Him and make Him known? Very much so. But what I do or what I do not do, does not change His love for me. God is love and Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I am so thankful that even though it is a batdownloadtle every day to choose to listen to what I’m telling me or what Jesus is telling me, that I CAN HEAR THE VOICE OF GOD BECAUSE I KNOW GOD AND HE TALKS TO ME BECAUSE HE KNOWS ME. 

Jesus sees us and looks on us with compassion. Jesus is all those things (and more). God, You are: sovereign, almighty, good, my Father, a provider, faithful, love, consistent, my peace, my comfort, satisfying, always with me, etc. . .

Let’s not let what happens around us, who we see ourselves to be, who others see us to be, or anything for that matter affect who we really and truly believe Christ to be. Because He doesn’t see me like I see me. He is who He says He is. And He is God, and I am not. Will you believe He is who He says He is?

He is God; I am not.

Content. Webster’s Dictionary defines the word content as this:

pleased and satisfied : not needing more;

What does Paul mean when he is writing the church of Philippi from prison? In Philippians 4:11 Paul says, “…I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”  The word ‘learned’ from this verse, in the Greek perfect tense, implies a lesson resulting in better knowledge. The word ‘content’ is self-sufficiency that grows out of trust in Christ. Paul goes on in this chapter to tell the church that he knows what it is like to have little and to have much, but in any and all circumstances, he has learned the secret of being content.

WAIT.

Paul learned to be content when he had little? And when he had much? YES. But, Paul obviously was not content to begin with, otherwise he would not have had to learn how to be content. Which also means, at some point or another Paul went through a period of time when he had very little, as well as a period of time where he had very much. And we can assume that before he learned to be content in all circumstances, he was the exact opposite of that.

WAIT.

I’m like that too. There’s been times in my life where I have had little and times where I have had much. And if we’re being honest, I have found myself not being content in each of those situations. But just as Paul learned, so have I. Having little means nothing. Having much means nothing. Having Christ means everything. download (1)

Learning that neither having little or having much is not what makes me content has not been an easy or quick lesson. If anything, the Lord has allowed me to have little and to have much to show me that no matter what circumstance I am in, it all means NOTHING without Him. Without Him, I will NEVER be satisfied. Without Him, I will never be content. Because HE IS GOD and I AM NOT. Because of Him, I count EVERYTHING as a loss for the sake of KNOWING HIM, because to live is Christ and to die is gain.

In this season of my life, I am learning to be content in areas that I am not. I am learning that I must rely on Christ and trust Him in all areas. Not just the easy areas, but the hard areas too. I am learning that contentment comes from Him and Him alone, whether or not I have little or I have much. And I’m not speaking solely about material things. I’m speaking about relationships, future ministry opportunities, answers to questions I have, restoration of friendships, and just being content in where He has me right here, right now. I am learning that I can be content because He is God and I am not. I am learning that I can be content because for me, He will ALWAYS be enough.

Content: pleased and satisfied : not needing more; 

Am I pleased with Christ? Does He satisfy me? Does Christ meet all my needs so I need nothing more? Am I content in Christ?

You are God, I am not. I am learning to be content. I am learning to trust You in any and all circumstances. Lord, remove what I am looking to for contentment and be the ONLY thing that makes me content, because when I have nothing but  yet I have you, oh Lord I have everything.

 

 

Book Critique: Men and Women Equal Yet Different by Alexander Strauch

Scripture-1024x574The subject of gender roles is a topic that is very blurred in today’s society within the culture, the home, and the church.  Many people either contemplate what they believe and why they believe it or even what they should believe in general.  A question that is somewhat neutral across the board is whether or not men and women are equal or if one is superior to the other.  For those who do not look to Scripture for truth though, it is reasonable for them to assume that they either equal or superior to the opposite sex. However, for those people who do look to Scripture for truth the question is different. The question is, being created equally, how do gender roles differ for a male versus a female?

There are two substantial perspectives when it comes to this controversy and they are the complementarian and egalitarian views.  The complementarian view is the non-feminist outlook, while the egalitarian view has the feminist mind-set.  Men and Women Equal Yet Different by Alexander Strauch is a book which has a purpose to “state and defend the complementarian viewpoint.”[1] This book uses an abundance of scripture as its foundation of supporting the complementarian view, which is the view that says men and women are created equally yet have different gender roles.  This book critique includes a summary of the contents of this book as well as an evaluation of its content.

Alexander Strauch begins his book by telling the reader about an interaction that he once had with a college freshman, Tom. Tom came to Strauch explaining that he was confused about the roles of women and men in the church. Strauch began by trying to get Tom to first understand the controversy so that he could then begin to dig deeper into the issue. He goes on to inform his readers that the egalitarian view is the feminist view which declares that men and women are completely equal in every area; that there are no distinct roles for each sex. Continuing, he informs his readers that the complementarian view is the view that holds to the concept of truth which says that men and women are created equally but have distinct roles for each gender. “The gender debate is not an abstract, impersonal, doctrinal controversy. It touches directly on our humanness, our sexual identity, our ministry opportunities, the marriage relationship, family life, and life in the local church. It raises fundamental issues regarding fairness and justice, the influence of secular culture on Christian thinking, the correct methods for interpreting God’s Word, the leadership of our churches, and our faith in God’s Word. It is an emotionally charged controversy that divides churches and denominations worldwide.”[2]

One of the first things introduced after Strauch gives insight on how to understand the gender role debate is that Jesus Christ appealed to the creation account.  In Genesis 1:26-28, Moses writes about how man is created in the image of God.  The word ‘man’, in these verses is meaning both man and woman. It refers to mankind as a whole. Genesis 2 is the scripture that is the foundation of the equality between sexes but is specific about the differences as well. Egalitarians, however, repudiated this passage and the role of headship as well as the supporting roles of each sex.

Another area that Strauch brings up in his book in defending the complementarian view is that Jesus Christ appointed male leadership for His Church. Two major points that back this fact up are that Jesus had to be man and also that Jesus appointed twelve male apostles.  Part three of Strauch’s book focuses on the instructions that Jesus Christ gave on marriage. 1 Peter 3:1-7 emphasizes submission and understanding. One crucial point in this passage is that women are to be submissive to their husbands. “The word submission can hardly be used in our culture without misunderstanding and strong disdain. It is loaded with negative, provocative connotations, yet submission is a biblical word and a Christian virtue. We cannot avoid it.”[3]  In this passage of scripture, Peter also gives the role of the husband to his wife which is to understand and honor her.  This portion of the book also looks at Ephesians 5 and Titus 2. Titus 2 specifically is about how a woman is to love her husband and children and take care of others, teaching others to do as she does. Ephesians 5 focuses more on how to wife is to submit to her husband as the church submits to Christ.

Through His apostles, Jesus Christ also taught gender equality and role differences in the Christian Community. Submission and leadership in the church family is supported biblically in 1 Timothy 2:8-15. This particular portion of scripture talks about the prayers of men and the way that women should dress.  “If mean are supposed to be the heads of the family, they must also be the heads of the community. The community must be structured in a way that supports the pattern of the family.”[4] Strauch’s final argument for his readers is to take courage and to stand strong in their faith.  He informs them to do this by staying faithful to Christ by continuing to diligently studying the Word of God. Strauch also encourages fellow followers of Jesus to not give up on those who may struggle to stand on this truth of the complementarian view as well as not giving up on the feminist.

This book was definitely beneficial to me. I am a believer in the Word of God and a follower of Jesus Christ. I do support the complementarian view that men and women are created equally, yet have different role distinctions. However, it is easy for me to just jump on this bandwagon of believing this specific view on gender roles because I grew up in Christianity. This book has helped me to understand more about this controversy and has deepened my understanding of why these roles between men and women are so crucial and important, especially in the Christian faith. It was so helpful that Alexander Strauch used scripture for his basis, but it was also enlightening to understand more of the egalitarian and feminist view on gender roles as well. This was important to me so that I could see both sides of the issue and also so that when a time comes when I have to have conversations about this with certain people in ministry, I will be able to argue for my position biblically, knowing both sides and not just my own.

Some questions that I have about this book are how does one go about reaching a feminist? Do I go directly to them or do I wait for them to approach me? At one point do I intervene and how do I start the conversation with them?  Overall though, Strauch did an incredible job on presenting this biblical information in an very understandable and deep way. I am a firm believer in the teachings of Ephesians 5 and Titus 2 for what they really are. As a woman in ministry, I am to look to the Word of God for what my distinct role is as I serve Him.

In conclusion, I recommend this book to both male and female; to both feminist and complementdownloadarians. I believe that it is very important to know truth as a whole, but even more so issues such as gender roles. As a follower of Jesus, this concept of gender roles is so important for us as we grow in Christ, live our lives day to day, as well as when we reach others. We must know that we are all created in His image, but also that we each have beautiful, distinct roles that He set aside for us each in order to fulfill the ministry He has called us to.

 

Bibliography

[1] Strauch, Alexander. Men and Women, Equal Yet Different: A Brief Study of the Biblical Passages on Gender. Littleton, CO: Lewis and Roth, 1999.

 

[2] Strauch, Men and Women Equal Yet Different, 5-6.

[3] Strauch, Men and Women Equal Yet Different, 45.

[4] Strauch, Men and Women Equal Yet Different, 74.