Book of the Month

This Momentary Marriage ~ Week 1

Posted by on May 12, 2010 in Book of the Month | 2 comments

The clock read 7:24 am this morning.  Toast is in the oven. Matt’s buttoning his collar, and I’m sitting with Abby on the bed watching him. He asks me a simple question about his hair.  I respond with an irritated snap.  He calmly asks for clarification.  Frustrated, I respond with an annoyance.  We go back and forth for a few moments, Matt, calm as usual, me, full of attitude.  Sure, I could use the excuse that Abigail was unusually up in the middle of the night, then up early this morning. Sure, I could say that I hadn’t had my quiet time yet.  Truth be told though, I had forgotten that Christ has saved me from sin, that my marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church, and that I should show love towards my spouse despite how I’m feeling. Sniff, sniff, the toast burnt… but Matt and I talked.  We hugged and kissed, and he left with a smile.  I have so much to learn about being a loving wife.  That is why I continually desire to read books like this.

This month I am reading This Momentary Marriage by John Piper.  I’ve read five chapters so far and am totally convinced that this is a must-read for all currently married couples and those who hope to be married someday.  This book takes a biblical view of what marriage is and how it should function in a believer’s life.  You can enjoy this book FREE online by clicking the title above. (so now you have no excuses for not reading it!).  There is no possible way that I could summarize the entirety of what I’ve read so far; instead, I will share with you what I believe are the most convicting and meaningful points.

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Let Me Be a Woman ~ Week 5

Posted by on Apr 29, 2010 in Book of the Month | 0 comments

You are, by the grace of God, a woman. This means you have responsibilities.

You are fully woman, and this means you have privileges.

You are only a woman, which means you have limitations.

Your husband is a man, he is fully man, and he is only a man.

Thank God for this, and live it to the hilt!

Last week we started discussing the role of a woman’s need to accept the hierarchical order.  Today, in the last post from Let Me Be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot, we will continue this topic and also look at these three other principles: There must be sex, there must be loyalty and pride, and there must be, in and through all, love. Mrs. Elliot says, “I have not arranged these in order of importance because, quite simply, I don’t know how. They ideal marriage, I think, cannot do without any one of them.”

Acceptance of the Hierarchical Order Cont.

One final point to make on this subject is that a woman must master herself and be self-disciplined.  To submit willingly to our husbands means that we, out of an act of our own will, give ourselves to submission.  We can’t just do it because we have to, but because we want to.  We can’t want to unless we are disciplined enough to do so.  Many couples may think that the woman is the most intelligent, have the best character or spiritual discernment, and the strongest physical endurance, and, therefore, should become the leader.  However,  these roles (man’s and woman’s) were designed by God at the beginning of time.  “We are not free to experiment, tamper with, or exchange them.”

We cannot deny that it takes self-discipline and humility to do our jobs.  God, the One who assigned these jobs, will give the strength it takes to fulfill them.  No man on earth has the strength within his person to be a godly head to his wife; no women anywhere can faithfully submit to her husband. “It takes grace, and grace is a gift, but we are to use the means of grace. Self-discipline helps. Prayer helps. Christ, who is the Head of all of us, stands ready to help any man or woman who asks Him.” What a comfort, Ladies!  We don’t have to do this on our own!

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Let Me Be a Woman ~ Week 4

Posted by on Apr 21, 2010 in Book of the Month | 3 comments

It is the will of God that woman be subordinate to man in marriage.  Marriage is used in the Old Testament to express the relation between God and His covenant poeple and in the New Testament between Christ and the Church. No effort to keep up with the times, to conform to modern social movement s or personality cults authorizes us to invert this order. Tremendous heavenly truths are set forth in a wife’s subjection to her husband, and the use of this metaphor in the Bible cannot be accidental.

Throughout this weeks chapters of Let Me Be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot, she focuses on the divine order that God has created for men’s and women’s roles.  Now, some of you may be tempted to role your eyes and click the small red X at the top of this window because you don’t want to hear the feared S word: Submission.  But, before you do that, please read what I have gleaned from Mrs. Elliot this week.  I don’t pretend to cover every aspect of what she teaches.  Hopefully, this will wet your appetite for more.   If so, check out her book for yourself.

Before we can even unpack the truths and joys of the God-given order of men and women, we must accept it as just that – given by God. God created men, women, and His entire creation to live by certain rules and regulations.  Cats cannot fly and elephants cannot swim for hours underwater.  Similarly, human beings, created in the image of God, have certain roles to fulfill.  As women, we can be steadied, directed, and held by the knowledge of where we are and where we are going.  The fact that God controls and harmonizes His world should be both comforting and stabilizing to us.

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Let Me be a Woman ~ Week 3

Posted by on Apr 14, 2010 in Book of the Month | 1 comment

Marriage is a vocation.  You are called to it.

Accept marriage, then, as a God-given task.

Throw yourself into it with joy.

Do it heartily, with faith, prayer,

and thanksgiving.

Elisabeth Elliot discusses marriage in detail throughout the chapters this week.  She begins by stating that a choice is a limitation.  To accept limitation requires maturity because saying Yes to being happy many times means saying No to yourself.  We can’t have everything at once.  If we choose to be married, we can’t be single and have the careers and privileges that come with single living. When we marry a particular man, it is a limitation not to marry all the other men.

This choice that comes through marriage must take root deeper than human commitment.  A perfect place to begin  a marriage is to acknowledge the authority of Christ above all others.  When a husband and wife share this loyalty to Christ, they know where to turn when problems come (yes, when they come.) Couples who trust Christ can know they are insufficient in themselves to have a good marriage and must rely on God and His grace.

When a woman marries a man, she must remember four things about him:

  1. She marries a sinner

When the lovey-dovey feelings are abounding sometimes it’s hard to remember this.  Then, as soon as something negative happens, we wonder, “What’s the matter?  How could this happen? Where did things go wrong?” They started going wrong in the Garden of Eden.  Let’s remember, Ladies, we are married to sinners!  We can’t expect them to be perfect.  Even more importantly, though, we must remember that we are sinners too!  We’ll be a lot less likely to nag and be bitter if we remember that for every time that our husbands don’t do something that (we think) they should or should not do,  we ourselves are sinners and have sinned against these men also! We need forgiveness and to confess our sins to him.  “At times when you are thinking to yourself that it’s high time he asked for yours, remember that you are equal in your need of redemption.  There’s no keeping score in love.”  Yes, we marry sinners.  We must love, accept, and forgive these men just as we wish to be loved, accepted, and forgiven.  “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  This includes you, me, and each of our husbands who come short not only of God’s glory but some of the glories we expect.  We must accept this.

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Let Me Be a Woman ~ Week 2

Posted by on Apr 7, 2010 in Book of the Month | 2 comments

This week, rather than write my thoughts on the reading, I’m simply going to type my favorite quotes from the book and allow them to speak for themselves.  This weeks chapters proved to be both convicting and encouraging.  I challenge each of you to put this book on your “want to read” list… then pick it up and read it!

“We are the creatures of a great master Designer, and His ordering of our lives is sure and certain, yet many people live without any visible order or peace or serenity.  The we live ought to manifest the truth of what we believe.  A messy life speaks of a messy – an incoherent – faith… This matter of order means self-discipline.”

“The way you keep your house, the way you organize you time, the care you take in your personal appearance, the things you spend your money on all speak loudly about what you believe.  ‘The beauty of Thy peace’ shines forth in an ordered life.  A disordered life speaks loudly of disorder in the soul.”

“We [as women] have something to respond to, something that directs and calls and holds us, and it is in obedience to the command that we will find our full freedom.”

“We are called to be women.  The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of woman. For I have accepted God’s idea of me, and my whole life is an offering back to Him of all that I am and all that He wants me to be.”

“For the Christian woman, whether she is married or single, there is the call to serve.”

“He [God] has summoned us to the only true and full freedom.  The woman who defines her liberation as doing what she wants, or not doing what she doesn’t want, is, in the first place, evading responsibility.  Evasion of responsibility is the mark of immaturity.”

“Here, I think, lies the answer to the barrenness of a single life, or of a life that might otherwise be selfish or lonely.  It is the answer, I have found, to depression as well.  You yourself will be given light in exchange for pouring yourself out for the hungry; you yourself will get guidance, the satisfaction of your longings, and strength, when you ‘pour yourself out,’ when you make the satisfaction of somebody else’s desire your own concern; you yourself will be a source of refreshment, a builder, a leader into healing and rest at a a time when things around you seem to have crumbled.”

“Your stepfather told a lady who came to him distraught with all that was expected of her. ‘I work my fingers to the bone for this church and what kind of thanks to do get?’ she wailed.  ‘Well,’ he said, ‘what kind of thanks did you expect?’”

St. Ignatius of Loyola prayed, ‘Teach us, Good Lord, to serve Thee as Thou deservest; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest; to labor and not to ask for any reward save that of knowing that we do Thy will.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord.’”

“It was God who made us [man and woman] different, and He did it on purpose…. God created male and female, the male to call forth, to lead, initiate, and rule, and the female to respond, follow, adapt, submit.”

Psalm 144:12 says, ‘May our daughters be like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace.’ Pillars uphold and support.  This is a woman’s place, and all of us need to know what our place is and be put in it. The command of God puts us there where we belong.  We know our ‘creatureliness,’ our dependence. It there is a command for us we know we are recognized.  We know that we fit into God’s universe.”

“My highest human joys have been found in being a wife and a mother.  This is not to deny or belittle the other gifts God has given.  I have been called to be a missionary and to write, but surely there is nothing incompatible with such tasks and acknowledgment of the fundamental fact that woman was made for man.  That wasn’t my idea, after all – I got it all out of the Book!”

The idea that mothers do not need a college education floors me.  What, some ask, is college educating women for?  Surely it is to draw out (the root meaning of the word educate) the gifts God has given, whatever they may be.  Surely I did not send you [Valerie, Elisabeth's daughter] to college on the assumption that you would not marry.  A Christian education will make you a better wife and mother, I’m convinced, if that is God’s will for you.  If you were called to be a tax collector or a philosopher I should likewise  want you to have that kind of education.”

“Motherhood requires self-giving, sacrifice, suffering.  It is a going down into death in order to give life, a great human analogy of a great spiritual principle.”

“Womanhood is a call.  It is a vocation to which we respond to under God, glad if it means the literal bearing of children, thankful as well for all that it means in a much wider sense, that in which every woman, married or single, fruitful or barren, may participate – the unconditional response exemplified for all time in Mary the virgin, and thewillingness to enter into suffering, to receive, to carry, to give life, to nurture and to care for others.  The strength to answer this call is given us as we look up toward the Love that created us, remembering that is was that Love that first, most literally, imagined, sexuality, that made us at the very beginning real men and real women.  As we conform to that Love’s demands we shall become more humble, more dependent – on Him and on one another – and even (dare I say it?) more splendid.

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Let Me Be a Woman ~ Week 1

Posted by on Apr 1, 2010 in Book of the Month | 1 comment

Wherever you are, be all there.

Live to the hilt every situation

you believe to be the will of God.

~ Jim Elliot

As I stated last week, I’m reading through a book each month and then sharing what I learn from my reading.  This month’s book is Let Me Be a Woman by Elizabeth Elliot.   I read the first ten chapters this week.  Wow.  What a thought-provoking study! If you’re looking for a great book, pick this one up!

Mrs. Elisabeth Elliot begins her letters to her daughter, Valerie, by insuring that Val has the correct mindset of not only what a woman is, but what a special role God created for women and that women should be content and joyful with this position.  What does it mean to be a woman?  To know this we must understand the truth, and the truth regarding womanhood begins with the God who created her.

“We are not for one moment of our lives at the mercy of chance,” Elisabeth writes.  She herself holds to the beliefs of Calvinism stating that God causes all things to happen for His good.  Because God does not allow for mistakes, He can be trusted and praised for all of His decisions.  This includes making women. Elisabeth confesses to her daughter that both Jim and Elisabeth prayed earnestly for a son and truly believed God would grant that prayer.  However, God’s plans were different, and, when Val arrived, both of her parents were thrilled.  Little did they know that just ten months later, Jim would be in heaven.  God knew that Elisabeth would need that little girl.   You and I were also born as girls to fulfill our destiny – planned, ordained, fulfilled by an all-wise, all-powerful, all-loving Lord.

When God spoke creation into existence, He was pleased.  To please the Lord, these created beings simply need to fulfill their purpose.  How does a jellyfish, mosquito, or mouse glorify the God of the universe? By obeying the Creator’s command to BE a jellyfish, mosquito, or mouse.  How can I glorify the same God?  By being what God has created me to BE – a woman.   To make use out of something though, you must know what it is made for.  A safety pin or oven mit are of no help unless you know what their purpose is.  I am a woman, therefore I can rejoice not only because God made me, but because He made me for a purpose.  “For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.”  1 Cor. 11:9  What a joy that I can fulfill God’s role for me by being what He wants!

Many women today view their roles as a burden, something to overcome.  They strive to find their identity in anything besides who God created them to be.  An elephant could complain about its size and a turtle its shell.  But, elephants are not made to run nor turtles to fly.  The special gifts and abilities of each animal defines its limitations.  Similarly, “The woman who accepts the limitations of womanhood finds in those very limitations her gifts, her special calling – wings, in fact, which bear her up into perfect freedom, into the will of God.”

Our lives are a gift chosen by the Giver before the foundations of the earth.  Rejoice, ladies, in this fact!  None of us know the will of God for His life (that is, our life, which, if you are one of His children, means your life truly belongs to Him).  Every stage is a gift.  Whether you are single, married, mother of young children, teenagers, or you are widowed, embrace this gift for this day.  Elisabeth Elliot has been widowed twice and single for more than 41 years during her lifetime.  Yet she writes, “This life of faith is to be lived one day at a time, at it has to be lived – not always looking forward to, as though the ‘real’ living were around the next corner.  It is today for which we are responsible.  God still owns tomorrow.”

Elisabeth shares the story of Gladys Alward, a beloved, heroic missionary to China.  Gladys claims to have grown up with to great sorrows: one, she had black hair and all of her friends had golden; two, she stopped growing at four feet ten inches, well shorter than all of the girls she knew.  However when she arrived in China to minister to the people whom God had called her, she stated, “Every single one of them had black hair.  And every single one of them had stopped growing when I did.  And I said, ‘Lord God, you know what you are doing!’ ”

What do you say, Ladies?  Let’s live today gratefully and contently serving our Lord as the women He’s called us to be!

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