Tag Archives: Family

Remember Your Family

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13

If you are sharing memes which are critical of your brothers and sisters in Christ…you might be seeking the approval of men.

If you are willing to believe that your fellow members in the Body of Christ are hateful, bigoted, or ignorant on some popular issue…you might be seeking the approval of men.

If you assume what evils are the motivations behind the convictions of your fellow church members, without seeing much evidence… you might be seeking the approval of men.

If you are listening to voices in the unbelieving world for advice on how to judge other believers… you might be seeking the approval of men.

If your desire for the approval of other human beings is so desperate that you are willing to condemn (yes, condemn) your fellow sharers in the forgiveness of Christ…you need to stop caring for the approval of people.

And start caring more for the approval of God.

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts…I Thessalonians 2:4b

Our fellowship, our real connection, is Jesus Christ.  It is a stronger and more significant connection than any other that you will ever have. He is the one who holds us together and He will never fail.

You have just demonstrated that if that relationship in Christ were to depend on you, it would now be dissolved.

But He has brought us together by His pain, blood, and self-sacrifice. We should never dismiss or trample the priceless work He has done for the purpose of creating a fellowship in which He takes great joy.

You are going to need those fellow believers in the days to come.  Do you think that your agreement with the unbelieving world will gain their approval?  You too will be rejected if you belong to Christ. It may be eventual or it may be soon, but it is inevitable.

News Flash: People outside of the church by choice are going to put you in the same category as those other believers you are trying to distance yourselves from, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.  You have already chosen the counter-cultural, unpopular road in deciding to be identified with Jesus Christ. There is no hope of being among the accepted anymore. He was as cool, as kind, as loving, as perfect as anyone could possibly ever be…and they killed Him for it. Resign yourself to clashing with the world where it really hurts.

Remember who you are. Remember your family. Remember Who He is.  Remember who bought you, at what cost, and why.

Seek what makes Him joyful. He is joyful when we love one another.  When we:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

…one another.

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Marley’s Tragic Wisdom

At our house, we read A Christmas Carol every year as we approach Christmas Day.  We also read Dickens’ short story A Christmas Tree and “A Good-Humored Christmas” from The Pickwick Papers, ending with “Gabriel Grub”, a story within a story, on Christmas Eve.  It’s a full-on Dickens fest at our house in December.

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We also watch the 1951 Alistair Sim Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve. It’s one of my very favorite films.

We began this when the kids were kids and it became an integral part of our Christmas celebration. Now that the kids have jobs, it has become difficult for us all to gather for our readings.  But I “wouldn’t neglect to keep it up on any account.”

Jacob Marley’s newfound wisdom, tragically acquired after his life was over, was clearly not only that we ought to be kind to our fellow human beings, but that we must make good use of the time we are given. That clearly, the “Founder” of the celebration would have us use our powers in the service of our fellows’ needs. That our lives are wasted, useless, if we spend our efforts on ourselves.

That we might do well to look at our lives from the end toward the beginning.  Imagining hindsight from the end of my life might be very instructive.

Jacob,” he said, imploringly.  “Old Jacob Marley, tell me more.  Speak comfort to me, Jacob!”

“I have none to give,” the Ghost replied.  “It comes from other regions, Ebenezer Scrooge, and is conveyed by other ministers, to other kinds of men.  Nor can I tell you what I would.  A very little more, is all permitted to me.  I cannot rest, I cannot stay, I cannot linger anywhere.  My spirit never walked beyond our counting-house — mark me! — in life my spirit never roved beyond the narrow limits of our money-changing hole; and weary journeys lie before me!”

—————

“Oh!  captive, bound, and double-ironed,” cried the phantom, “not to know, that ages of incessant labour, by immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed.  Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulnessNot to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused!  Yet such was I!  Oh!  such was I!”

——————

At this time of the rolling year,” the spectre said “I suffer most.  Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode!  Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!”

——————-

The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went.  Every one of them wore chains like Marley’s Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free.  Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives.  He had been quite familiar with one old ghost, in a white waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant, whom it saw below, upon a door-step.  The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power for ever.

Nobody writes like Dickens.  Merry Christmas!

Living Titus 2

 

3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. NIV

3 Likewise, tell the older women to behave the way people leading a holy life should. They shouldn’t be slanderers or slaves to excessive drinking. They should teach what is good,  4 thus training the younger women to love their husbands and children,  5 to be self-controlled and pure, to take good care of their homes and submit to their husbands. In this way, God’s message will not be brought into disgrace.  CJB

What does it mean? How do we obey it in real life?

We have talked about the need to pass the torch, to mentor and to be mentored. We have all agreed that we ought to support, encourage, and teach each other.  We should give out of the riches we have been given. But we have not so far discussed what we are supposed to teach, the real subject of this passage –the reason it’s in the Bible

Elisabeth Elliot on Titus 2:3-5:

“It would help younger women to know there are a few listening ears when they don’t know what to do with an uncommunicative husband, a 25-pound turkey, or a two-year-old’s tantrum.

It is doubtful that the Apostle Paul had in mind Bible classes or seminars or books when he spoke of teaching younger women. He meant the simple things, the everyday example, the willingness to take time from one’s own concerns to pray with the anxious mother, to walk with her the way of the cross—with its tremendous demands of patience, selflessness, lovingkindness—and to show her, in the ordinariness of Monday through Saturday, how to keep a quiet heart.

You don’t have to be a mother or a mother-in-law to apply Titus 2:3-5. Just take a look around and you will find many motherless women in need of that listening ear and practical advice. Give them a call. Offer to babysit or make a meal. Be their friend. “Show her, in the ordinariness of Monday through Saturday, how to keep a quiet heart” so that she “may glimpse the mystery of charity and the glory of womanhood.”

(Elisabeth Elliot, “A Woman’s Mandate,” from Family Practice, ed. R.C. Sproul, Jr. (Phillipsbur, N.J.: P&R Publishing, 2001), p 62.

I agree. It is so important that we love our sisters in Christ by serving them and working for their practical good.  And mentoring relationships often begin in small acts of service.

But I would like to add that we are also called to teach intellectual substance in an intentional, yet organic manner. In the same way that we are all called to share the truth of the gospel, we should be equipping ourselves and then looking for opportunities to open up so that we can walk in and teach.

     I Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

     The reason for the hope I have as a believer is also the reason why I do what I do, and for why I live my life the way I do.  Our lives ought to demonstrate what we truly believe, and in fact they do.

There are foundations to be laid, premises to establish.  There are also strongholds to be torn down.  The world all around us is relentlessly tearing apart the family, and you, Mom. Minimizing you, calling you a myth, demoralizing you.

So let’s follow the instructions we know we can trust. First of all, the instructions for the older women:

to be reverent in the way they live

not to be slanderers

or addicted to much wine

but to teach what is good

It doesn’t seem too difficult—I shouldn’t be a malicious gossip or an alcoholic—easy!

Wait. “To be reverent and to teach what is good” sets the bar pretty high. These require a singular state of mind where a woman is focused on the Lord and His call on her, day-to-day in real time. These older women had to have accomplished that which they were to teach.  They had been living their faith.

Having established the requirements for an older woman teacher, the text tells us what these women are to teach.

Then they can urge the younger women to:

Love their husbands and children

to be self-controlled

and pure

to be busy at home

to be kind

and to be subject to their husbands

so that no one will malign the word of God.

Since they were to teach these things, the younger women must have needed instruction in these tasks.

Don’t we still need these instructions?

 Do we not need reminders to consistently love our husbands?  Is it natural to love when we feel it, or to love consistently?

Do we not need some accountability to stay pure in our current culture?

Are we human beings prone to laziness and carelessness?  Do we not need encouragement to make our houses into homes?

Do we need someone to share with us a vision for cultivating our homes and families?

Are we always kind?  Do we tend to serve ourselves?

Do we need encouragement to be subject to our husbands?  Do we need to understand why that makes sense, in contrast to the culture we live in? Don’t we need the example of women who are joyfully submissive while freely sharing their gifts for the benefit of their families?

And finally, do we need reminders every minute that we are constantly representing God in this world?

The ultimate object is that God would not be maligned. How we represent God is of ultimate importance.  It’s always about Him.

Prepare to give a reason for why you live the way you do. Be ready to share your hard-won insights on cultivating relationships within your family; on how and why to live on your husband’s income;  on why you have adopted Biblical roles in your marriage; on discipling your children consistently; on how you teach your children not to conform to this culture.

You are a wellspring of philosophical support and encouragement. You can live Titus 2.

I say we get busy.