Saturday, March 18, 2006

Women of Truth and Grace

I find it quite overwhelming to look back on recent years and see where the Lord has brought me. I see the path I was heading towards, one of self-confidence and independence. At one point along the way, the Lord drastically intervened and after many tears of confession and repentance, I see how He began and still is drawing me to Himself, molding me into a woman under His sovereign grace and will. Such a transformation was not expected when it occurred almost three years ago, but as is the case in such circumstances, the end of my path would have been utter despair had the Lord not entered in and drastically changed my heart. My human nature does not want to be dependent on Him, walking with my eyes set on Him alone in humility as I grow in His grace. But by His grace and for His glory, He is continually in the transforming process of raising me up into maturity.

This is to preface a particular issue, which, at its very mention, always strikes a chord in my heart. The topic of women in ministry hits close to home because there has been a daily process of the Lord growing me in humility, modesty and gentleness as a woman.

Do not let your adorning be external--the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing-- but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:3-4, ESV

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2:3-5, ESV

Therefore, I have an extremely difficult time holding my tongue when I see women so bent on having a place in ministry that they begin displaying what is in reality a rebellious spirit. This is one area in which I must watch my tongue and the creeping in of unrighteous anger. Women are supposed to live as members of the body of Christ in quiet reverence, humility and grace. How can a woman who is so determined to have a role of authority honestly profess being a person of gentle and quiet spirit? All it takes is engaging in conversation, whether in a classroom setting or more casual environment, to begin discussing the spectrum of views. It won’t be long before her true colors begin shining through. It bothers me oftentimes to no end when I woman professes to be kind and submissive with her mouth, yet exudes an attitude of pride. Humbleness of heart is not exemplified when a fellow student (who happens to be male) is received with mockery and laughter when he is simply trying to make it through one sentence of describing his heart and view on women in ministerial roles. Such an attitude is not gracious and by no means displays brotherly love and encouragement.

Yes, being a woman engaged in vocational ministry is challenging. Yes, there are differing opinions even among students walking across the same seminary campus. But are we going to be so determined to have a noticed and defined place that we put aside genuine humility? How in the world are we to be seen as a people of grace and truth when we cannot even have a conversation amongst brothers and sisters without it turning into an opportunity for ungodly sarcasm and attacks? My heart has been so burdened by this in recent days. I would hope that those of us in the body of Christ, especially those training to be leaders in the Church, could begin such discussion with humility enough to confess our pride as sinful human beings! If not, here is what happens: you engage in a conversation about women in ministry and before long, mention of the Lord has dissipated. And for that, O Lord forgive us…

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 1 Peter 3:8, ESV

Friday, March 17, 2006

The theme of my song~

Thy mercy my God is the theme of my song
The joy of my heart and the boast of my tongue
Thy free grace alone from the first to the last
Hath won my affection and bound my soul fast

Without Thy sweet mercy i could not live here
Sin would reduce me to utter despair
But through Thy free goodness my spirits revive
And He who first made me still keeps me alive

Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart
Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart
Dissolved by Thy goodness i fall to the ground
And weep for the praise of the mercy i've found

Great Father of mercy, Thy goodness i own
And the covenant love of Thy crucified Son
All praise to the Spirit whose whisper divine
Seals mercy and pardon and righteousness mine!
All praise to the Spirit whose whisper divine
Seals mercy and pardon and righteousness mine!

(Sandra McCracken, 2001 Same Old Dress Music)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

confession in the midst of seeing and savoring

My response to the reading of Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ has been delayed, and for no excusable reason. I came to the close of the book last Tuesday and hesitated to immediately sit down and take note of my initial thoughts on the reading. Although a week has since passed, I have actually been able to spend a lengthy amount of time reflecting on Piper’s words.
The Lord brought me to a point of confession in the midst of reading Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ. There is something in my life I have been aware of for some time now, and that something was not fully exposed to the light until I began reading this particular book. I find it amazing how glaring those hidden and secret sins become when one spends time meditating solely on Jesus Christ. Everything the Lord has been doing in my life this semester came to a sort of pinnacle as I unhurriedly read Piper’s little book. This is not to say that Piper’s words are what changed me—the Lord spoke through His words to me and revealed truth I had previously not faced.
I confess that I do not meditate on Jesus Christ. This is something I must confess openly and honestly. And because I do not meditate on Jesus Christ, I must ask myself, “Do I truly believe what I say I believe?” Do I believe that He suffered and endured the cross to the glory of His Father? Do I believe that He is merciful and that I can come before the throne of grace with confidence? I say such things, I know such Scripture reference, but do I really believe? I know that the answer is “yes,” but my time spent with Him would not reflect such a definite response. I never hesitate to read such books as Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, but do I sincerely see and savor Him?
Meditation, spending time with Him and His Word, is not something I desire out of mere obligation or duty. Such discipline, duty, or whatever other term you prefer, should be a desire of delight and love for Him. I long to dwell in His presence, spend quiet nights alone with Him, because I love Him. He alone is my Savior, He alone has given me breath, and He alone deserves all of me.
I am prone to fall into the trap of routine. It works for me, and I’m quite good at going through the motions of the everyday grind, especially when my schedule includes school, a church I enjoy, and a job that works well with everything else on my plate. Then I get home at night wondering why I’m so exhausted… I am not talking about merely being tired after a full day of being busy, but being truly weary. Then I wonder why I don’t have the energy left to read or write in my journal before falling asleep. Such weariness comes from not savoring Jesus Christ. If I truly savored Him I wouldn’t be able to get enough of Him, just as one in love cannot seem to spend enough time with his or her Beloved.
That is where I am at now. I deeply desire to dwell in His presence, and that begins through confessing with my mouth and heart that I am desperately in need of Him. I want to know Him as my Savior, my Sustainer, my Groom.

“Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:11-16