Titus 2:1-15 “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 9 Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
Kristian and I are so blessed to have older godly men and women in our lives who love us pray for us, teach us, correct us, and encourage us! Thank you, Lord, for this HUGE blessing. I just got back from such an encouraging dinner with a dear friend—a woman who has walked through a couple more seasons of life than I have. The Holy Spirit has encouraged me through this woman who laughed with me, cried with me, shared with me, listened to me, counseled me, prayed with me, blessed me, and just befriended me tonight. The Holy Spirit has added fuel to the flame of my heart tonight. Lately I have felt this flame growing dimmer, as I have not been in the Word as I like, I have not been writing like I usually do, I have not been praying as much, and I have had to miss church more than I have liked lately. But God administered His edifying grace to me through this dear friend tonight and I feel encouraged. (1 Peter 4)
This conversation made me think of different ways that I have been edified in conversations with women who are older than me. I wanted to jot down a few things that have been helpful gifts to me in various conversations I have had with older women, so that I too will remember them in the context of helping women who are younger than me, particularly from within the framework of Titus 2. These are things I have found helpful in my conversations with women who are older than me:
1) Being prayed for, not just during our conversation, but in general about specific things in my life.
2) Seeing vulnerability and hearing the messiness and honesty of life’s experiences rather than experiencing a pretense of perfection that simply doesn’t exist in fallen man. Seeing sincere humility which comes from knowing who God is in increasing measure.
3) Hearing experiences and advice through the lens, direction, and foundation of Scripture.
4) Being loved through another person’s weeping with my weeping and rejoicing with my rejoicing (Romans 12).
5) Being able to pray for and encourage my friend as she shares with me from her own season of life.
6) Hearing how my friend speaks well of her husband with respect and love and in a way that edifies.
7) Seeing that my friend speaks in a way that builds up my husband and encourages my own love and edification of him.
8) The gentle and loving wisdom of a friend who inevitably sees my faults and yet is gracious---not picking at my faults and yet challenging me in direct and indirect ways as the Lord leads.
9) Creating an environment where I can be honest about my own struggles because I am met with humility, grace, and patience. From this starting point, my friend can help me process through these struggles through her prayers, example, counsel, rebuke, etc
10) Being listened to without being enabled in my sin.
11) Having my friend ask me questions that show me that she is interested and invested and that also help me process through a situation.
12) Having a friend follow up with me.
13) Having a friend draw on her own experiences from when she was in my life season in helpful ways, while at the same time recognizing that my experience might be different for various reasons and in various ways.
14) Letting me know when she doesn’t know what to say or do, but also letting me know that she cares.
15) Not pretending like she knows everything or needs to have an answer for everything, but showing discernment and continual dependence on God.
16) Not being afraid to say hard things when God calls.
These are just a few. Maybe this list will grow as I grow. And maybe I will think of more when I am not so tired. :)
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for reminding me of your steadfast love toward me today. Thank you for the blessing of older men and women in Kristian and my life. May we be humble and teachable always. May we respect and honor people who are older than us. May we be a blessing to them as they are to us. Please bless these dear friends, as they do your work to build your church through the gifts that you have given them. May these relationships deepen and bring more and more glory to you. Help us to love those who are younger than us as well. Teach us how to best lovingly serve them in the ways of Titus 2 for your glory and for their edification. In Jesus Name, Amen
I love this quote from C.S. Lewis from his book, "The Four Loves". It applies to all kinds of love.
"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable."
I have to say that to deeply and truly love another besides God inevitably results in heartbreak. Even loving God does, because you can't love God without loving people sacrificially. Yet there is something to be gained in being broken and in humbly and sacrificially risking.
Luke 9:23-24 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
Psalm 34:18 "17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. 18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit."
Psalm 147:3 "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."
Matthew 5: 2-12 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
My friend Staci posted this as her facebook status. I love it.
"We wait impatiently for God to provide less than what he intends to. We wait for improvement when what God promises over and over again is newness."-- Reverend Andy Pelander
It reminded me of Paul who could call his life, which included being beaten, mocked, lonely, abandoned, falsely imprisoned, tortured, impoverished, falsely accused, a "light and momentary affliction" because it pales in comparison to the "weight of glory" that awaits.
2 Cor 4 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh....16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
It also reminded me of C.S. Lewis in the "Weight of Glory":
“The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Seems fitting to end this post with this:
Ephesians 3 "20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
Sometimes I feel like You have forgotten about me…like I am just a waste of breath...like I am a ghost…like my life has been put on pause while I watch from the background the lives of those around me still rolling. I feel irrelevant in Your plan, and I wonder if You or anyone remembers that I am still here. I wonder what to do and what You want from me. I wonder what it looks like to move forward in a plan I never made and never wanted. I feel guilty because deep within me I know that I am blessed far beyond anything I deserve, and I know that I have all that I need to experience the most abundant joy that supersedes circumstance. And I have even tasted that joy and I truly know that nothing has or will ever compare. But today it eludes me. It is hard for me to remember that life is far more than what I can see because what I see is bleak. It is bleak for me and it is incredibly more bleak for many others who are suffering from torture, abuse, poverty, sickness, broken relationships, abandonment, loneliness, fear, depression, and other forms of pain, grief, and loss. As I lose perspective on eternity, my sinful pride stings with the knowledge that, by the world’s standards, I am a failure. I decided to walk away from a promising career to pursue a family. Many years later, I am still childless. I wonder what I am supposed to do now. I fear I will never have a child and I wonder whether my husband and I will be okay with that. Are we still a family? Am I less of a woman? Are we less human? I am at my all time highest weight and cannot imagine that my husband finds me attractive anymore. I have still not mastered an ordered home. My pride sickens me, and yet it doesn’t sicken me enough. The sad truth is that some of my worldly failure is also a result of sin—I have failed You. I am still selfish and lazy and undisciplined with my time and resources—time and resources that are a gift from You and that could be spent at Your feet and serving those around me in Your honor. I have wanted to change, and I have begged for change. It also eludes me.
Where are you, God, and what would You say to me? I know that I am a speck of dust in the presence of the Only Majestic, Awesome, God, Wise, Loving, Righteous, Just, Creator of the World. And yet your Word tells me I am Yours. It tells me that Jesus died for this speck of dust--that you have loved and sacrificed for and redeemed this speck of dust. It tells me that I am no longer your enemy but your friend and even your child and heir. It tells me that I won’t always be broken like I am and that one day my brokenness will no longer hinder me from seeing you and being fully satisfied in you. But for now, I don’t get it and I can’t see it.
I confess I hesitated to post this blog. It exposes me. It exposes that I still believe lies and I still struggle to believe the truth of God’s promises. It exposes my pride. It exposes that I still search for ultimate significance and satisfaction in things that can never deliver. It exposes my failure to live as I ought considering all that God has given me. It exposes my confusion. It exposes my pain. It exposes my doubt. It exposes my raw emotion toward God. To many I will look the fool. Some will judge me or think poorly of me. Some will think I am being dramatic or a downer. Some will think I am unstable. Some won't be able to relate. Some will think I just need a dose of optimism or "happy thoughts". Some never think of such things. Some won't really care. Some will be uncomfortable with me and won’t know what to say or do. Some will doubt my faith in God. Some will think I am not fit for formal ministry with my husband. Everyone will see that I am broken and a mess and a sinner. But in the spirit of my last post, I just want to be real, sincere, true, and honest about who I am, even if it is ugly and messy. I want to care more about what God thinks of me than about what others think. I want to encourage others. Maybe it will encourage even one person who can relate to where I am at, whether they are a Christian or a non-Christian. Most of all, I pray that any exposure of who I am—with my many, many warts and all—will show the world what a GRACIOUS, MERCIFUL, KIND, LOVING God who would stoop down to love me—not in some generic universal way, but in a personal way. Because Jesus is my Lord who took my sins upon Himself and was crucified because of them, I have been acquitted and I am free. I am free to be in relationship with a Perfectly Holy God who because of His Perfect Righteousness cannot tolerate sin. Light cannot live with darkness. What is pristine cannot co-mingle with mud and remain pristine. My sin and failure has corrupted me, but because Jesus paid for ALL of my sin (past, present, and future), my slate is washed clean before my God. Because of what Jesus did for me, God is no longer this distant King, but He is my Father the King.
By illustration, I am now like Malia and Sasha who are the daughters of President Obama. The world calls him “Mr. President”. The world stands back, showing deference and respect for the prestigious office of President of the United States of America. While Malia and Sasha also show Barack Obama the respect and deference due to him as their father and president, they also run into his arms. They have access to the President that the rest of the world doesn’t. As a loving father, President Obama delights in their hugs and kisses, and eagerly invites them to share their true hearts—hopes, dreams, sorrows, struggles, and even failures—with him. He wants to know them, bless them, and help them. That is a good father’s heart. Our God is the Best Father. He is better than any earthly father. For all who acknowledge their sin and need of saving, for all who trust in Jesus’ work on the cross, and for all who submit to Jesus as Lord and first in their life, we have this kind of access to God Our Father. It is freely available to any who would come to Him.
And so I pour my heart out to my God. I tell him where I truly am, even though in His Omnipotence and Infinite Wisdom, He already knows. He still wants to hear from me. And talking to Him comforts me because I know that He is there and I know that He cares. His Word always reminds me of who He is and what He has done and how much He loves. Because of this, even as I write the last sentence of this post, my heart is not the same as when I wrote the first.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. 6 The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. 7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. 8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; 16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. 17 But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children, 18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. 19 The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. 20 Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! 21 Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! 22 Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!
Luke 12 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit………. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
1 Peter 5 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Song, “Better Than a Hallelujah” by Amy Grant
God loves a lullaby In a mothers tears in the dead of night Better than a Hallelujah sometimes. God loves the drunkards cry, The soldiers plea not to let him die Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.
We pour out our miseries God just hears a melody Beautiful the mess we are The honest cries of breaking hearts Are better than a Hallelujah.
The woman holding on for life, The dying man giving up the fight Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes The tears of shame for what's been done, The silence when the words won't come Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes.
We pour out our miseries God just hears a melody Beautiful the mess we are The honest cries of breaking hearts Are better than a Hallelujah
Better than a church bell ringing, Better than a choir singing out,singing out.
We pour out our miseries God just hears a melody Beautiful the mess we are The honest cries of breaking hearts Are better than a Hallelujah
Better than a church bell ringing better than a choir singin' loud singin' loud Repeat Chorus