Archive for March, 2010

7 Steps to Unity

March 21, 2010

Women need to talk.  They need to process events and emotions.  If this need is neglected, tiny seeds of discontent creep into the congregation, relationships begin to fracture, husbands take sides and their leadership strength in the church is significantly diminished. 

There are seven steps that move both genders towards greater strength:

1.      Women need honesty with each other.  We need to be able to tell a Christian sister that she is offending others with her tone of voice, or that it feels like she is acting in an uncaring way.  We must never take our hurts to another girlfriend if we have not taken the hurt first to the one who has offended us;  if we do this, we are not being honest.  And if that sister continues to offend us, we need to go to her again and again with love and patience, recognizing that we are as fallen as she is.  Her repeat offenses do not give us license to talk behind her back. 

2.      Women need to apologize, ask for forgiveness and be ready to grant forgiveness and a clean slate.  The key words here are love, tenderness, understanding, patience, grace.  Give lots and lots of grace – about as much grace as you want God to give you. 

3.      Women need that clean slate.  An integral part of the clean slate is stomping to bits any negative lenses that you are in the habit of putting on whenever that person does or says anything. Stop reading motives and negative explanations into your sister’s life.  You are hurting both of you when you do this. 

4.      Women need to respect each other’s choices. This includes everything from whether you vaccinate your child to whether your children participates in group sports.  It includes the music you allow, the  food you feed them, the amount of time they spend with friends or relatives.  This is not to say that one shouldn’t share biblical principles that might cover specific choice-making (again: with love and patience and mercy and grace and understanding).  Respecting each other’s choices definitely does not give license to enable a sister to err against the Bible by listening to what she says she is doing and responding with an “un-huh, uh-huh” or maybe even “are you sure you want to do this”, hoping that she will get the drift, and if she doesn’t take your hint, going to your husband  with tales of her gross errors.  Whatever you do, don’t use the “fear” label if a sister chooses a standard you wouldn’t choose.  This is divisive and disrespectful as it judges her underlying motives.  She may not want her children going to camp or she may put her baby in a sling, she may be an unschooler or a classical educator – whatever she does, if it is not sin, it demands your respect as she is ultimately answerable to her husband and to God. 

5.      Women need to be okay with removing children from the social equation.  Children between the ages of 1 and about 24 can really mess up relationships between families, and especially between Christian sisters, since sisters have sharp radar that takes in every nuance of difference in the upbringing and behavior of children.  It is not only okay to disagree in your upbringing/educational methods, it is okay to visit with other sisters or couples without the children present.  My point here is not to  advocate a significant or even necessary reduction in the number of family visits; I am only urging women to understand that children/spouses can sometimes produce uncomfortable visits, (possibly even divisive or hurtful visits) even if the sisters would otherwise get along well.  Women need to talk.  They need to log hours together.  So be okay with your sister’s decision to keep the children out of some social equations and don’t take it personally…the years will fly by until the tricky wet cement of those early years is past, and with your loving acceptance of your sister’s differences, the potential negative impact of a whole-family visit will be reduced to nothing. 

6.      Women need to log time with each other. This is the third time I’ve written this line.  We need each other’s sharpening, caring ways, tender touch.  We need sisters to laugh with and cry with, and sisters with whom we can entrust our friendship and know without a doubt that they will put our innermost thoughts in their heart’s vault and will never do us harm. 

7.      Women need to celebrate each other’s successes. Inside every woman is the need to be respected, acknowledged, listened to…and whenever possible, celebrated.

                 The incredible life-giving power of female unity in the body of Christ must never be underestimated.

Praying for Wisdom

March 8, 2010

We are committed to giving back to our big-hearted sending community in whatever way we can.  Please pray for God to fill us with an abundance of His wisdom, for we have nothing to offer without Him.

Some thoughts from the pen of James Weldon Johnson (1800’s):

O Lord, we come this morning

Knee-bowed and body-bent

Before thy throne of grace.

O Lord – this morning –

Bow our hearts beneath our knees,

And our knees in some lonesome valley.

We come this morning –

Like empty pitchers to a full fountain,

With no merits of our own.

O Lord – open up a window of heaven,

And lean out far over the battlements of glory,

And listen this morning.

 

Lord, have mercy on proud and dying sinners –

Sinners hanging over the mouth of hell,

Who seem to love their distance well.

Lord – ride by this morning –

Mount your milk-white horse,

And ride-a this morning—

And in your ride, ride by old hell,

Ride by the dingy gates of hell,

And stop poor sinners in their headlong plunge.

 

And now, O Lord, this man of God,

Who breaks the bread of life this morning—

Shadow him in the hollow of thy hand,

And keep him out of the gunshot of the devil.

Take him, Lord – this morning—

Wash him with hyssop inside and out,

Hang him up and drain him dry of sin.

Pin his ear to the wisdom-post,

And make his words sledge hammers of truth—

Beating on the iron heart of sin.

Lord God, this morning—

Put his eye to the telescope of eternity,

And let him look upon the paper walls of time.

Lord, turpentine his imagination,

Put perpetual motion in his arms,

Fill him full of the dynamite of thy power,

Anoint him all over with the oil of thy salvation,

And set his tongue on fire.

 

In Patterson, California

March 6, 2010

We’re currently staying in Patterson, California.  If you are in the area, and would like to meet with either of us, please let us know soon as we are putting our calendar together for Sunday afternoon and the rest of the week.

Revisiting a Recommitment to Missions

March 5, 2010

Most of you know that Todd and I both felt called to missions since we were about 5 years old.  In the second year after we were married, we attended Urbana. I remember this message (below) and I remember standing up at the end of one of those powerful missionary messages and recommiting my life to Christ. 

http://urbana.org/articles/the-urgency-of-the-call-1987

California, Post Bar

March 5, 2010

We’ve arrived in Central California, the beginning of another chapter in 2010.  Thank-you to so many of you who have written to us that you prayed our eldest son through his bar exam!  We’ll know the results May 14th. 

Pray now for wisdom as we seek to give back to dear friends who have given so much for so long.