Friday, July 31, 2009

The Beauty of Submission, Part 2

Continuing on into my study of 1 Peter 3:1-6 from last week, I'll take some time to "talk" through verses 5 & 6. Here are verses 5 & 6:
5For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
(Note: If you're just chiming in for the first time, go back to last week's post, The Beauty of Submission, Part 1, before reading this because there's a lot of good meat in the previous 4 verses that I discuss in that post, and I'll use some of that information to further discuss these last two verses of my study.)

Let me begin by saying that I'm very thankful that Peter reminds us here that we're not the only ones who are called to submit and learn to be godly women ... ALL "the holy women of the past who put their hope in God" did the same thing! We have lots of examples to follow. Praise the Lord! And Peter even gives us a specific example, Sarah.

Now I had originally hoped to wrap up this study with Part 2, but after diving into Genesis to learn more about Sarah and Abraham, I'm not sure that I can just wrap all of this up in this post. I'm confronted with many questions about Sarah and Abraham's disobedience and God's ultimate faithfulness and blessing toward them. So, I think I'm going to need more time to study Sarah and figure out how to follow her example ... aside from just reading Peter's words and understanding that she was obedient to Abraham and called him her 'master'.

I began my study of Sarah in Genesis 12, so if you would like to read along with me and comment when the time comes, hopefully next week, to post Part 3, feel free.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Rest & Renewal

After re-reading my post from yesterday, I feel that I need to offer some words of encouragement since the post was very long and heavy. The words in that post were from my heart and I believe they were truth from the Lord, but they were still heavy, and for those of you that are just getting started on this road toward biblical womanhood, they could seem rather daunting. (Heck, I wrote it and as I thought about submission as I was interacting with my husband last night, I felt overwhelmed too.) However, I was reading Colossians 1 this morning and I feel like Paul's words to the Colossians are great words of encouragement and rest and renewal for us women as we wrestle with growing pains. Let me share Colossians 1:9-13: with you:
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing much fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
A few points that really stand out to me here are:
  1. "... fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding." As we long to be godly women who love Jesus with everything we've got and to use that love to love our husbands and children well, we have to believe that if we pray for it, God will indeed fill us with the knowledge of his will as we pursue His wisdom and gain understanding.

  2. "... that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing much fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God;" When things get tough and we want to surrender to the ways of this world because that road seems easier, we have to remember that our lives should please Him and be worthy of Him (we can only do this with Jesus), and by pursuing godliness and surrendering daily, we'll bear much fruit as we grow in the knowledge of God.

  3. "... being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience," The road to godly womanhood is not easy. God never promises that it would be. But if we pray to be strengthened "with all power according to his glorious might," and we pray for that endurance and patience ... we'll be able to keep moving forward. Endurance and patience seem like just the prescription we need to be able to surrender to the Lord daily and to be able to submit to our husbands for a lifetime, ... on our own, it's impossible!

  4. "... joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." And at the end of the day, or the middle of the day, or at the beginning of the day ... we can JOYFULLY give thanks to the Lord, regardless of our circumstance because He alone has set us free from the bondage of sin through His Son Jesus. And again, even when things seem tough, we have to remember that Satan has no power over us because "he has [already] rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves," Halleluiah!!! I think we're going to find that as we do surrender our lives to Jesus and call others to come along with us, Satan is going to do anything in his power to distract us, and when that happens, we have to realize that spiritual warfare is real and denounce Satan and claim Jesus. He has ALREADY saved us from darkness, we just need to claim it and joyfully thank him for it!
I hope that you're as encouraged by these verses as I am, and I hope that this truth allows you to rest well in the arms of Jesus as he strengthens you and renews you for the task ahead!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Beauty of Submission, Part 1

Ok, Ok ... I know that some of you are reading this and are smirking and saying, "what is beautiful about submission?" But I'm happy to say that because God designed us to be 'submissive' beings (1 Peter 2:13), that when his design is lived out as He intended it to be, it is indeed beautiful! (Jesus even submitted to his parents and to God!) I certainly don't have the whole submission thing down yet, but I'm learning and as I see glimpses of it working out like the way I see it in scripture, I'm in awe of God's design!

Unfortunately, our culture would have us believe that submission is the lack of freedom and ushers in inequality and the free reign to demean women, but I know that biblical submission is very contrary to that. If we do not conform to the lies of this world (1 Peter 1:14) any longer and seek the truth of God, we will find true freedom, true equality and blessing as women!

I have wanted to blog about submission for a while now because I believe that submission plays such an essential part of who we are as women and in our understanding of who we're suppose to be and what our role is ... but the cultural faux pas against submission and my lack of understanding on the subject scared me away. This morning, however, I was diving into 1 Peter 1-3 and I feel like God gave me a greater understanding through this passage and related commentary about this widely debated topic. So, without further ado, here we go ...

Submission In the Garden
If we first go back to Genesis 2 when God created Adam and Eve, we can see how God's sense of 'order' among humanity first came into being when God took one of Adam's ribs and made woman from that rib and brought her to man. In David Guzik's commentary, he says this:
God brought Eve to Adam and created Eve out of Adam. He was first, he is the source, and he is the head. She was created to be a helper perfectly suited to him. Thus, the subordinate relationship of wives to husbands is found before the curse, not only after it.
And in this sense of 'order' that God depicts through submission, we have to remember that since we -- male & female -- are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), we depict the masculine and feminine qualities of God and the trinity, and also exemplify God's order of design through the roles that He created us to have: male = head, female = helper. However, just because our roles are different, neither one is of greater value or importance than the other. Both roles play an essential role in God's design. Guzik has this to say about it:
... submission to authority can be totally consistent with equality in importance, dignity, and honor. Jesus was subject to his parents and to God the Father, but was not lower than either of them. 'Thus the command to wives to be subject to their husbands should never be taken to imply inferior personhood or spirituality, or lesser importance.' (Grudem)
So, even from the beginning, God demonstrates his design for submission through Adam and Eve, but we see all too quickly that Eve gives way to her curiosity and abandons her role as Adam's helper (Genesis 2:18) -- to help him rule and subdue the earth -- when she wanders off and stumbles upon the crafty serpent (Genesis 3).

Now, I'm not sure what really went down between Eve and the serpent, other than what Genesis 3 tells us, but if I put Eve into a woman's shoes these days, I can only imagine that Eve was telling Adam, "I have everything under control. You just sit there, watch Animal Planet and I'll take care of everything." Does that sound familiar? I know that I've said things like that before, and it's not coming from a servant's heart ... it's coming from a woman who wants to take control and feed my husband's natural inclination toward apathy. (I'm not saying this specifically about my husband in general, but it seems like a man's greatest sin is apathy and a woman's greatest sin is to devour her husband as she tries to take control and say whatever the heck rolls off her tongue (Proverbs 11:22).) This may or may not have happened during the Fall, but either way, we see God's design for submission here and because of our brokenness, our natural inclination is always going to be to rebel from it ... heck, it's not something that the world advocates so why should it matter to us? Well, submission does matter to God because His design is perfect and He knows what's best for us! Let's dig a little deeper ....

A Look Into 1 Peter 3
When I typically think of submission, I usually turn to Ephesians 5, but more recently as I mentioned above, I've been studying 1 Peter 3:1-6 and I think this passage provides a great deal of wisdom on this matter.
1Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 5For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
Let's look at verses 1 & 2 first. To me, it seems as if the statement, "Wives ... be submissive to your husbands ..." just jumps off the page in bold, and I get a little tense and I forget to read the rest of the first clause. But if we reread the statement and see that it says, "Wives, IN THE SAME WAY, be submissive to your husbands ...", the phrase "in the same way" should cause us to back up and figure out what "in the same way" is referring to. And if we look back at chapter 2 of 1 Peter, we see that there's an entire section about how EVERYONE is suppose to submit to someone: "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men ...." This includes the king, governors, and masters (in relation to slaves).

So, when we get to verse 1 in chapter 3, God's call for wives to submit to their husbands is not out of the blue, but in line with the other submission relationships that God designed and Peter mentioned in chapter 2. If we look back through scripture, we see a variety of other submission relationships as well:
  • Jesus submitted to His parents (Luke 2:51)
  • Demons submitted to the disciples (Luke 10:17)
  • Citizens should submit to government authority (Romans 13:1 & 5, Titus 3:1, 1 Peter 2:13)
  • The universe will submit to Jesus (1 Peter 3:22)
  • Unseen spiritual beings submit to Jesus (1 Peter 3:22)
  • Christians should submit to church leaders (1 Corinthians 16:15-16 & 1 Peter 5:5)
  • The church should submit to Jesus (Ephesians 5:24)
  • Servants should submit to their masters (Titus 2:9 & 1 Peter 2:18)
  • Christians should submit to God (Hebrews 12:9 & James 4:7)
In David Guzik's commentary, he mentions that "None of these relations are reversed. For example, masters are never told to submit to servants, Jesus is never told to submit to the church, and so forth." (The list above is also taken from Guzik's commentary.)

And after reading through Wives Like Sarah, and the Husbands Who Honor Them by Wayne Grudem in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood and through David Guzik's commentary, we see that submission is more about the condition of our heart than an actual action. Submission is exihibited through willing obedience, but that's only a small portion of it. We must trust in our HEART that God knows what's best for us and willingly submit because He calls us to (when that submission doesn't lead us into sin -- Acts 4:19-20).

Moving on to the second half of verse 1, we see that we're suppose to "... be submissive to [our] husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives ...." I think that the later half of this verse speaks a lot about the condition of our heart. Here's a few thoughts from Guzik's commentary:
A wife's submission is a powerful expression of her trust in God. This kind of faith and obedience can accomplish great things, even without words.
Wives may want to shape their husbands -- either to Christ or in Christ -- through their words. Peter reminds them that God's plan is that wives impact their husbands not through persuasive lectures, but through godly submission, chaste conduct, and the fear of God.

There is a sense in which a wife's efforts to shape her husband through her own words and efforts may hinder the power of God's working on the husband. It is much more effective to submit God's way, demonstrating trust in Him, and to let God have his way with the husband.
Ha, I'm sure that we all can relate to these situations at one time in our marriages. As women, since we are naturally inclined to speak our mind and take control, just like Eve, it is our natural inclination to 'demand' that our husbands lead (or just sit back and watch Animal Planet) and make decisions OUR way. We, however, see where that got Eve!

Now, I'm not insinuating that we just sit back, spectate and relinquish our responsibilities as wives and mothers of the family. That's not where I'm going with this at all. God calls us to pursue wisdom so that we can build up our house (Proverbs 14:1), take our family to Jesus and encourage our husbands in the Lord. What I am saying is that if we follow the commands of 1 Peter 3:1, we're not going to impose our own agenda on our husbands. We will not be quick to open our mouth and say whatever we feel like saying. We will hold our tongue and speak wisdom when it's appropriate and participate in discussion, not lecture. And in the end, if it's not our point that is best or even if it's what our husbands deem best, we need to submit to our husbands and trust in God's plan for us in that situation.

Grudem has this to say from Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood:
For a wife to be submissive to her husband will probably not often involve obeying actual commands or directives (though it will sometimes include this), for a husband may rather give requests and seek advice and discussion about the course of action to be followed. Nevertheless, a wife's attitude of submission to her husband's authority will be reflected in numerous words and actions each day that reflect deference to his leadership and acknowledgment of his final responsibility -- after discussion, whenever possible -- to make decisions affecting the whole family.
This is where it becomes very important that we are women of wisdom, not of folly (Proverbs 9:13), so that we can contribute a wealth of wisdom into the decisions that need to be made as a family AND for our own understanding of when it's important to plead for the truth and when it's best just to listen and defer to our husband. I believe this is the part of submission that takes a great deal of humility, discernment and discretion.

If we look on to verses 3 & 4, we see that our beauty should be reflected through our inner self, not through outward adornment and how that beauty is seen through "a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." If we look at this part of the verse in contrast with the loud, boisterous woman of Proverbs 9:13 that I referenced above (the opposite of pursuing wisdom), I think we can quickly see how having a gentle and quiet spirit is much more Christ-like and will be much more conducive for a submissive heart and attitude than lacking discretion and being boisterous. Having a gentle and quiet spirit is definitely not natural for me, but as I submit to God and cry out for humility, God is changing me (James 4:10). This is the only way we're going to get there!

Take some time to digest this, comment and I'll finish my thoughts and share what I'm learning in verses 5 & 6 sometime next week. In the mean time, check out Chapter 8: Liberated Through Submission of Biblical Womanhood of the Home as you grow in your understanding of godly submission ... it's pretty insightful.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Godly Womanhood is INTENSE!

Over the last few days, I feel like being the godly woman that the Lord calls me to be is way too intense for me to handle. Hourly surrendering my thoughts and emotions to the Lord to make them obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), being a good listener so that I can love my husband well, manage our household, and care for and train our 10-month-old. The days have been so long lately! I'm sure that if I looked at any of these responsibilities at another time, I would say, "What's the big deal?" But right now, everything seems heavy. And when I'm realistic about it, it's because I'm seeking the Lord on the "what" of my role -- what am I suppose to be doing as a godly woman? -- and not the "how" of my role too -- how do I manage all of these responsibilities in a healthy manner!

I posted a week or so ago about how God was using me in a practical way to help my husband, and in that post I said, "This also shows me that being a helper requires a lot of study and intimate time with the Lord." So, in actuality I'm prophetic (not really), but I knew the solution to my problem before it even happened. But I've been so busy knocking out punch-list items for our house renovation (to ease the burden from my husband), that I haven't taken time out to sit myself down at Jesus' feet and allow his strength to carry me.

Matthew 11:28-30 says this:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
And although this verse may seem straightforward, I need to be careful that I don't overlook Jesus' commands for me here. He says, "COME to me," not sit back and wait. He says, "TAKE my yoke upon you and LEARN from me," not wait for it to be given to me (by accepting Christ's grace, He has already given his yoke to me ... I just need to reach out and take it!), and he says learn from me ... that means I need to immerse myself in scripture and diligently pray. How else am I going to learn? If we look back at the life of a disciple in Jesus' day, their diligence and study was anything but casual! In fact, in Greek, the word disciple means an adherent of a particular teacher, and it was the task of a disciple to learn, study, and pass along the sayings and teachings of the master.

When I stop for a moment and realize the contrast between the life that God calls me to live and the life that society deems acceptable and even successful, I can very easily see why that life looks so appealing to women: Do what's best for you. Do whatever you need to do to succeed; it's you're right! Do what feels good ... and the list goes on. That road seems like the easier of the two to travel on. But when I read scripture and see the joy that God gives when we live the life that He has called us to, I see true beauty and fulfillment there, and I believe that it's worth the discipline to get there! We see examples of this in Sarah's life (1 Peter 3:1-6) and in the woman in Proverbs 31 (Proverbs 31:28-31).

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tis the Time for Self-Control

I'm amazed ... yet again! It seems just as I begin studying something, God decides to show me that concept over and over again in several different ways. Today's concept is self-control. Well, I first stumbled upon it in Atlanta as I was reading chapter 4 in Feminine Appeal, The Safety of Self-Control, where Mahaney unpacks the truths of Titus 2:3-5:
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 train 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.
(The whole book focuses on these 3 verses, but this chapter specifically discusses self-control.)

When I typically think of self-control, I think of my actions and my speech, but rarely before now have I thought of my thoughts and emotions as areas where I need to have self-control. I commented about this in relation to Anna's post on Monday. Now, as this concept is beginning to settle and take root in my mind, I continue to stumble across it:
I'm guessing this is a concept that God really wants me to learn. Here are some key points that stood out about it in Feminine Appeal:

Mahaney says, "What we allow to govern our feelings and occupy our thinking will sooner or later determine our behavior. Sinful thoughts and sinful feelings lead to sinful behavior. Therefore, we dare not ignore these faculties, but must exercise self-control in them.

This is why we must heed 2 Corinthians 10:5 where Paul commands us to, "take every thought captive to obey Christ."

Mahaney also says, "We must understand that our feelings are not authoritative. Just because we feel something doesn't make it true. Our feelings are either ruled by truth or ruled by sin. Therefore, we need to discover what is ruling our feelings to determine if they are accurate or inaccurate -- righteous or sinful."

As women, I believe that this is an area where we struggle a lot. For most of us, we're very emotional beings and we can easily allow Satan to use our thoughts, feelings and emotions as a foothold to convince ourselves of things contrary to God. Darn it, estrogen! I believe this is why the idea of self-control is included in Titus 2:5 and as one of the fruits of the Spirit in Galations 5:23.These are the truths we need to cling to and realize in our lives so that sin won't take hold of us in this area.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Me, Myself, and Lies

I am a reader of Living Proof Ministries Blog-- for anyone who enjoys some Beth Moore-- this is the blog she does with her daughters. The blog always has a wide variety of material that goes into it-- from everyday living to building your relationship with God. I have only been in the blog world about a year now- but have been extremely blessed by Beth's ministry already- especially now that I am a mother.

This summer her readers were encouraged to participate in a Bible Study together based on Jennifer Rothschild's book-- Me, Myself & Lies. I sent out an email to my local girls and was so blessed by the overwhelming response of the women around me who wanted to dig deeper in the Word together this summer-- I prayed for 3 or 4-- and God gave me 12!! So here we are in week 2 of the study.

The study is about giving yourself a "thought-closet" makeover. We are often so destructive in what we think about ourselves, forgetting that we are indeed God's wonderful creation! When do we stop and actually reflect that the negative things we think about OURSELVES are so sinful to God. He calls us instead to think things that are true, pure, and praiseworthy. (Phillipians 4:8)

Week one of the study was a great time of reflection for me to be reminded of all of God's promises and of some really good scripture verses that I am working to commit to memory. Week two however, has become more in depth as Jennifer has led us to sort out our "labels"- some given to us by others and some given by ourselves-- some which are lies and some that are indeed the truth. No matter what our labels and where they come from, God expects for us to turn them into "faith" labels so he can be truly glorified through us. What great examples God put in the Bible of women who are just like us!! Naomi gave herself a horrible label in Ruth 1:20-21. But by the end of the story, God gave her a faith label by showing her great favor-- she was in the lineage of Christ!

Why women, are we so like that?? Women of today and women of the Bible-- Rachel, Martha, Job's wife-- why do we presume that everyone thinks about us like we think of ourselves. And where is our faith in what God has in store for us?? We are his children and he will take care of us-- it's a promise! He has great plans for us, plans to give us a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Praise Jesus for continuing to love each of us daily because He truly cares for each and every one of us! What a comfort 1 Corinthians 15:10 is, to know that by the grace of God, I am what I am-- and He will never leave me!

More to come soon.

Me, a Helper?

I am in awe of God's timing! Just when I need to understand what it means to be a godly helper the most, God has given me his divine wisdom through scripture and the most recent books that I've been reading -- Biblical Womanhood in the Home and Feminine Appeal.

Toward the end of last week, my husband called me from work and was overly anxious about decisions we have made on the house that we're renovating. (Our loan agreements are final, we have all permits, and our contractor began demolition 2 weeks ago.) But, he felt like the Holy Spirit was calling us to a different plan than what our signed contract indicates ... and he was beyond anxious.

When presented with this situation, I wasn't at loss for what to do by any means ... I don't even think I would have been if I wasn't currently studying what it means to be a godly woman, he's my husband of course ... but with God's commands for me at the forefront of my mind, I was assured that I knew how to love and support my husband the way the Lord needed me to in this situation. I was to reassure him that I loved him, that God loves him even more and I needed to encourage him, pray for and pray with him, and come alongside him; remind him of God's truth and promises in scripture to provide for us. Here are some of things that God had me share with him:
God is sovereign and all-powerful. Nothing is too hard for him (Jeremiah 32:17). He tells us to cry out to him and cast our burdens on him (Psalms 55:22). This is truth! Remember how God, in the form of a cloud, guided the Israelites through the desert day and night? He will do this for us too! See Exodus 13:21.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. -- Isaiah 43:1
As I sent these truths to him in an email, I was in awe at how perfectly this action followed my job description as his helper. It was amazing to be used by God in this way and to be able to take my husband to the feet of Jesus, and remind him of God's promises. My husband was in awe at how God was using me and I knew it was divine!

This situation, more than any thing else ever before, has reassured me that God's design for me as an aspiring godly woman is perfect, and that if I can submit myself to the Lord to follow His lead and be the helper that my husband needs, we will experience REAL life and only grow more and more into the marriage that God has in mind for us!

This also shows me that being a helper requires a lot of study and intimate time with the Lord. I need to know God so that I can discern his voice and effectively take my husband to the Lord when it is required of me. And how can I be an effective sounding board when my husband needs to run ideas by me or share his concerns if I am not immersed in His Word? And how can I remind him of God's truths if I don't believe them myself and pray over them for him and myself daily?

There's quite a bit more to be worked out in this situation, but I trust that the Lord will be faithful to us in his call. I hope to share more as the situation progresses.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Over the past few weeks, I've run into some good blog posts about homemaking and it's place within a woman's job description as a godly wife and mother (Proverbs 31). As I've seen these posts surface, I've also heard that a few friends of mine have had some difficulty putting this part of their role into perspective and understanding it's place in their life. So, to continue helping these friends and to begin to compile some of these great resources, here are a few of the great posts I've found:

If you know of others, please don't hesitate to share!