Sunday, August 27, 2006

From the Pastor's Desk--Counting the Cost

I am starting a new category of posts. "From the Pastor's Desk" is a weekly feature of our church bulletin, and I've decided to copy them here. I don't know where my husband gets these selections; most of them are anonymous. Here's the one for today:

Counting the Cost

Let's ask ourselves this question: "Am I concerned about the sacrifices I may be called upon to make in serving Christ?"

Two young men were talking about this very thing. One of them said, "I cannot tell you all that the Lord Jesus is to me, or what He has done for me. I do wish you would enlist in His army."

"I'm thinking about it," answered the other youn man, "but it means giving up several things--in fact, I am counting the cost."

A Christian officer, just passing, heard the last remark, and laying his hand on the shoulder of the young soldier said, "Young man, you talk of counting the cost of following Christ, but have you ever counted the cost of not following Him?"

Thursday, August 24, 2006

It's all about your mood

". . .in behaviour reverent. . ." (from Titus 2:3, literal translation).

Yesterday I started a word study on the whole Titus 2 passage. I'm thinking about doing word studies on all the New Testament passages specifically geared toward women, and then moving on to Proverbs 31:10-31. This is going to be interesting, but it's going to take a long time to go through one phrase at a time! Bear with me, though; I think we'll learn a lot this way.

"In" is a preposition. If you need an explanation, consult your nearest grammar book.

"Behaviour" is a noun. It is translated from the Greek word katastema, which (and here's where things get interesting) is only found in this verse.

"Reverent" is a predicate adjective, meaning that it describes the noun "behaviour," but also implies action. It is translated from the Greek word hieroprepes, another Greek word found only in this verse.

Why is it significant that these words are found only in this verse, and, therefore, only applied to women? I think I understood the reason as soon as I looked deeper at the meanings of these two Greek words.

Katastema has a deeper meaning than just behaviour. Our English word behaviour implies outward action--everything you do or say. Katastema goes deeper than that. It means "personal appearance, mien, deportment." We'll get to personal appearance and deportment later. The subject of this post is mien.

mien [meen] noun
somebody's general air: somebody's facial expression or general appearance, bearing, or posture, taken as an indication of his or her mood or character

(from Microsoft® Encarta® 2006. © 1993-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.)

According to Encarta, mien is probably a shortened form of 16th century demeine, from which we get our word demeanor.

On reading this definition, the word mood caught my attention, and I immediately sensed why katastema was only used in connection with women. After all, the other half of the population is not ruled by mood nearly as much as we women are. We are such emotional creatures! And, oh, the hormonal problems we have! I don't need to go into detail. You all know what I'm talking about! And in all this we are supposed to be reverent?!? Oh, if only I'd understood this years ago! Think how much grief my longsuffering husband could have been spared!

So what about hormonal problems? After all, hormones DO exist. They are not just a convenient excuse for snarky behaviour--hormones are real, and sometimes they do get out of whack. I've been post-partum nine times, I have a teenage daughter, I have lived with a menopausal mother, and I have seen friends and/or their teenage daughters go whacko once a month. I've gone whacko myself more than a few times. You could probably tell your own stories.

According to what I learned here, even in this we are to be reverent.

I'm going to suggest several things to help you with your hormones. These are all things I've tried, more or less, and I know they work. I intend to do these things even more in the future, because I want Christ to be glorified in my life in ALL things. There is never an excuse for sin.

1. First and foremost, use this time for increased prayer. Christ made both you and your hormones. He understands how they work better than you do. When you sense your mood changing, run to Him. Shut your door and pray. God will give you grace. "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13). The way to escape our sour moods is to cling to Christ in prayer.

2. Have you carefully examined your diet? A couple months ago I stopped eating anything with refined sugar or corn syrup in it, and I have seen an incredible difference in my overall health. Refined foods of any kind are not healthy. Look at what you're eating and make plans to eat a more natural, healthy diet. I could write a whole post about this, and why meat from animals raised on pasture is MUCH better for you than meat from animals raised on grain in feed lots. You can research that for yourself.

3. How much exercise do you get? I don't mean going to the gym and working out. I mean getting outside in the fresh air and riding your bike, taking a walk, working in your garden, hanging up your laundry, playing with your children, hiking through the woods or up a mountain, swimming, exploring nature with your children. Regular amounts of this kind of exercise will do wonders for your mind and body, and will foster great relations with your family when you do these things together.

4. Red raspberry leaf tea is wonderful for everything that ails a woman. I like so much to have a hot cup of this in the morning that I plan to buy it in bulk. I was first introduced to this when I was expecting my fourth child and began seeing a traditional lay midwife who has a lot of herbal knowledge. She started me off on a quest in search of medicinal herbs for my whole family. My oldest daughter is interested in this now, and we are going to work together constructing an herbal garden for food and medicine next growing season. I strongly encourage you to research this, too. It will be well worth your time.

5. Pray. I know I said this before, but if you do everything else and miss this one, you will not gain victory over your moods. You must pray, pray, pray. ". . .neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).

Joyfully, prayerfully,


Friday, August 18, 2006

A very large petition--please pray with us

It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law. Psalm 119:126

This verse stuck out to me recently in my readings through the Psalms. I immediately thought of the gay pride movement, particularly in our city. These people are hideously wicked, and are flaunting their wickedness in the face of all that is good and decent in our society. They are thumbing their noses at God, daring Him to come down and judge them for their sin. They have passed laws here in Canada legalizing gay "marriage" and have just about made it a hate crime to preach against their chosen lifestyle. Two years ago they had a festival in one of our local parks--they chose the most prominent one, the one most of the city uses for all kinds of family-centered recreation. It was the first year for them to do this, and was a sort of "coming out" for the whole group. They raised their flag in triumph and "prayed," thanking the god of their own imaginations that they had won a victory. They saw my husband out there with his gospel signs and his Bible and his tracts and they mocked. They boasted that the fire of God’s judgment had not come down and consumed them.

What they don’t realize is that we are praying the very opposite. "There is no fear of God before their eyes," (Romans 3:18), but we are praying for that to change. We are praying that God will open their eyes to the hideousness of their sin and fill them with a holy fear. We are praying specifically for the leader by name, asking God to deal in mercy with his soul, that he might see the wickedness of his heart and be afraid. We are praying that he would humble himself and seek the face of the Lord and be saved. We are praying that God would defeat the purposes of the whole group by saving His lost sheep from among them.

Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear. Isaiah 59:1

Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that cometh to God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:25

. . . .Sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunks, slanderers, and robbers will not inherit the kingdom of God. That is what some of you were! But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (International Standard Version)

Over the next couple of weeks the brethren of our fellowship will again be attending the gay pride festivals. Men from our "daughter" church will be out in Ottawa today, and my husband will be out in our city on September 2nd. Please pray for their safety, but more importantly, pray for God to bless His Word with power that the fear of God will once again be before their eyes.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Hide the Word

T w h I h i m h, t I m n s a t. P 119:11

Okay, you're going to look at that and say, "What???"

No, it's not some secret code. It's a method of Scripture memorization that I learned when we lived in Texas some years ago. You take the first letter of each word, and all the punctuation, and write them down. Then you use that to help you remember the verse. At the church we attended in Texas, they used to hand out cards that had the whole verse on one side, and just the first letters on the other side. The above verse is actually this:

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Psalm 119:11

In doing this study on Titus 2:3-5, I have gotten stuck on this one phrase pertaining to the older women:

. . .that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness. . ."

My one recurring thought has been, Am I holy? The more I examine myself in the light of Scripture, the more I have to say, no, I am not. So what do I do about this?

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy (1 Peter 1:16).

Notice the first admonition: "gird up the loins of your mind." This is where temptation and sin have their start, and where character is formed. "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. . ." (Proverbs 23:7). So the first step toward holiness is to think as God thinks. And that means spending time in His Word, hiding it in my heart, and meditating on it. "But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night" (Psalm 1:2).

A couple of years ago, I used the memorization method described above to memorize the book of Philippians. I've forgotten some of it, so I'm going back over it again. It is such a rich book, and I'll be referring to it in future posts.

Hiding the Word,


Friday, August 11, 2006

Large Petitions With Thee Bring

A Prayer, by John Newton

Come, my soul, thy suit prepare:
Jesus loves to answer pray'r;
He himself has bid thee pray,
Therefore will not say thee nay.

Thou art coming to a King,
Large petitions with thee bring;
For his grace and pow'r are such,
None can ever ask too much.

With my burden I begin:
Lord, remove this load of sin;
Let thy blood, for sinners spilt,
Set my conscience free from guilt.

Lord, I come to thee for rest,
Take possession of my breast;
There thy blood-bo't right maintain,
And without a rival reign.

While I am a pilgrim here,
Let thy love my spirit cheer;
As my Guide, my Guard, my Friend,
Lead me to my journey's end.

Show me what I have to do,
Ev'ry hour my strength renew:
Let me live a life of faith,
Let me die thy people's death.

Sing to the tune of "Take My Life and Let It Be," repeating the last line of each verse.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Something that gives me hope

And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none (Ezekiel 22:30).

I realize that I am not progressing very fast on this Titus 2 study. Because my family comes first, I try to only write once a week--on a quiet Sunday afternoon when everyone is resting. However, during the week things tend to come up, prompting me to write about something other than that which I previously planned. This is such a time.

Yesterday my husband and four oldest children went to New York. Actually, they left Friday morning to go down to Mount Vision, a little place near Cooperstown, NY. There they attended a youth conference with the theme of "Standing in the Gap." My husband was asked to preach one of the messages, so our whole church youth group went. From what I hear, it was fantastic.

This conference was organized by three of the pastor's children: Nate, Jonathan, and Esther Ellis. (Their dad has a blog, too, but this post is about young persons ;) ) This in itself spoke to my heart, that three young persons organized a Bible conference for the encouragement and edification of other young persons. I've only actually met Nate and their dad. They came up for my husband's ordination a few months ago, and Nate spoke at our youth snow camp. But I've heard how the Lord dealt with Jonathan, who was once a rebellious preacher's kid.

And today I took a look at Esther's blog. Here's a quote (and remember, we're talking here about someone who still has "teen" at the end of her age):

I'm just so excited about what the Lord has been doing in my own life. Physical and non-physical things that I thought I would never let go of, just all the sudden became meaningless. God convicted me to throw away a lot of things in my life. But He's reminding me I can't stop there and think that is good enough. And for some reason, He keeps bringing Enoch into my mind. Its such a good reminder..let me tell you. Its very liberating when you get rid of things.

I can echo that, but I'll save that for another post when we get back to Titus 2. For now, however, let me just say that when I see a young woman like Esther striving to go "whole hog" for God, THAT encourages me. It makes me look at my own children in a whole new light.

When I see three young persons organize a youth conference, and hear four other young persons (my own) interrupt each other to tell me all about it literally from the moment they step inside the door late on a Saturday night (actually one started talking as soon as she stepped onto the porch, but we'll let her remain nameless), THAT encourages me.

When I hear a certain young man in our church pray for God to use him in the salvation of his friends, THAT encourages me.

When I heard what God did for Jonathan Ellis (and I hope he posts his testimony soon!), THAT encourages me.

When I heard Nate Ellis join other men in prayer as they laid hands on my husband at his ordination service, THAT encouraged me. It even encouraged me when I heard that Nate wouldn't let our young persons sit on nice comfortable couches when he preached to them at snow camp last March, because I knew he wanted them to hear the Word without falling asleep.

I know that a lot happened at that youth conference that I have only begun to hear about. Other young persons were there that I don't know, who also want to go for God. They want to be the ones who stand in the gap. They want God to use them in mighty ways. THAT encourages me.

When I see God working in our youth, I know there's hope for the rest of us. Some of the greatest revivals started with young persons. God grant that again, NOW, in 2006.

Standing in the gap,


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A book review

"The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness. . ." --Titus 2:3

I had intended to write a post that included a quote from one of my favourite books on mothers raising daughters. But when I checked the copyright info, I found that, unless I wrote to the publisher, I could only quote from the book if I was doing so as part of a review. Well, why not write a review, then? I really like the book. My oldest daughter and I read through it, and it became a turning point in our relationship, drawing us closer together. I loaned it to one of my best friends, and she said she wanted to buy a copy for each of her daughters.

The book is entitled Raising Maidens of Virtue: A Study of Feminine Loveliness for Mothers and Daughters by Stacy McDonald. There are 19 chapters, each ending with a list of questions that really make you think. The questions often include Scripture references to look up and examine. The subject material is pointed, and often made me cringe as I examined myself in the light of God's word.

Sarah and I used this book in Sunday school, when she was the only student in my class. It is designed for mothers and daughters to read through together. (It could also work well in any older-woman-teaching-teenager situation, especially if the teenager does not have a godly mother of her own.) I gave Sarah her own copy, and we read the chapters separately during the week. Then on Sunday morning we read through the questions together, taking turns reading the Scriptures aloud. My daughter is a rather private person, and it used to be like pulling hen's teeth to draw her out. As we worked our way through this book, however, she began to open up to me more. I got to know her a whole lot better, and I think she might say the same about me.

Sarah had been resenting the fact that she is a girl. She heard lists of do's and don'ts that restrict a woman, lists that were often unnecessary, unbiblical, and that represented distorted ideas about the role of women in the home and in the church. One of the blessings that came from reading this book is that it helped her to accept her femininity as a gift from God. A whole new world was opened up to her as she began to look at all she can do and be for God.

So what was the quote I referred to earlier, and why did I think it important with regards to being "in behaviour as becometh holiness"? Raising Maidens of Virtue was written to help mothers raise godly daughters in a very ungodly society. Mrs. McDonald addresses a problem that is sadly all too common in the average western church today. In the chapter "Tinkling Feet" she describes "Mandy," a fictional teen who represents the average teen girl of today. How is the average Christian girl going to be a godly influence on "Mandy," when there is no real difference between the two girls? Mrs. McDonald writes:

The problem is that we have mimicked the world for so long--copying their fashions, borrowing their educational and social philosophies, conforming to their dating format, and adopting their dialect--that we do not even realize we have lost our Christian identity. We've been wearing the costume and speaking the language of the world for so long that we don't even recognize ourselves anymore. . . .

If we Christian women do not show Mandy what biblical beauty, femininity, and modesty look like, how is she to know? But then again, how are we to know? Who is going to show us? We ourselves have forgotten.

If we visit most any church youth group, we will see young ladies who speak, walk, dress, talk, and flirt exactly like the daughters of the heathen. This has happened as a result of our conformity to the world--and the Church doesn't even realize it. Instead, Christians must be conformed to the image of Christ, and it is imperative that our uniqueness be evident to the world. . . .

It has been said that imitation is the highest form of flattery. We tend to imitate those of whom we think highly--those we decide we would like to be like. So if we imitate the world, what are we communicating?

What, indeed?