Monday, March 2, 2015

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

So sang the nuns in The Sound of Music. There was a certain young woman at the convent who posed a problem. The nuns there hadn't seen anyone like Maria, and they just didn't know what to do with her. I believe that many churches have a similar problem.

Years ago, most women in churches were married, planning to be married, or living at home in an intact family with a father present. The landscape looks a lot different now than it did back in the "good old days." There are liable to be a number of young single women on their own, single mothers, and divorced or widowed women.

In what are termed egalitarian churches, this may not be as big a problem. In patriarchal or complementarian churches and denominations however, there is the potential for major problems. My purpose is not to enter into the debate on the role of women in the church. I am simply proposing something that may help alleviate some problems in those churches that have male leadership.

Complementarian churches believe that men are to be in leadership roles, both in the family and in the church. Husbands are the head of their wives and fathers are the head of their families, and those roles are necessary in the church's ministry. The husbands and fathers represent and speak for their wives and children.

What happens with a divorced woman or a young woman whose father is not in the picture? I believe this is when churches don't know what to do. If an issue comes up, who speaks on behalf of these women who don't have a "head?" Unfortunately, there may be no one, therefore leaving a void which helps no one. I fear that in many churches these folks are left out and have no one to look out for their best interest.

There is a possible solution. This is probably not new to some of you, and there are churches who are taking steps to solve this problem. While a church that has official male leadership does not want to ordain females, mature, godly women can minister in de facto leadership roles. There are many woman in churches who have shepherding (pastoring) gifts that can be exercised for the good of the body. These gifts can be used to be a guide and voice for those who don't have someone in a traditional role to look out for them.

I am convinced that the gifts God gives to his daughters can be used in churches who do not ordain women. The gifts are not offices. They are given to help the body grow. I believe that there is no good reason why these gifts shouldn't be utilized. Now I know that there are some who believe that women should only work in the nursery or teach little children. If that is the case, there's not a whole lot I can say to convince you.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

World Vision Wednesday

If you are looking for a devotional study for this Lenten season, World Vision has one here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

1000? Really?

I guess this is a milestone of sorts. This is my 1000th post on this blog. When I began this back in December of 2007, I had no idea I would still be writing a little over four years later. Some of you may be wondering why I'm still sharing the sometimes random stuff that rolls around in my brain. Probably because I can? Actually, I keep on because I hope that something I put on here will help, encourage, or challenge someone.

Since that winter day in 2007, the path of my life has taken a few twists and turns. Jan and I left one church, became involved in a couple of church plants (one fizzled and one blew up). I was done with the whole idea of church for a while. Then three years ago, God brought us to a church community that we have grown to love and see as family.

The journey has gone through wide open, sunny spaces and deep dark woods. I have been in a cave and come out again. I have learned over and over to trust the loving heart of my Father, and I have become more amazed at his unfathomable love for me. In the past couple of years, we have added two members to our family with the marriages of our two children.

In June, I lost a job and immediately gained a gig helping to take care of my father-in-law. That continues to this day, but I will have to be getting a regular job in the near future. I am trusting God to provide in his timing, as he always has.

Where this road takes me in the next four years is one of those unknowns. I am sure it will wind through forests, wide open spaces, and valleys. Maybe I'll crank out another thousand posts. We'll see. Thank you to all of you who have been with me on part of this trip. I hope that y'all (as we say here in the sunny South) will continue to travel along with me. It should be interesting.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Weekend Wanderings

It has turned colder here in the sunny South. Of course, we don't have it close to as bad as other parts of the country. Evidently, just about the entire country is supposed to be much colder than usual this weekend. Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Are you giving up anything? I'm looking for something positive to add for the season, so if anyone has any ideas, I would love to hear them.

On to the good stuff:

Good reminder for all of us.
Good point.
Yoga pants.
Zack Hunt calls for some humility.
Untamed Christianity.

Three questions.
So it turns out Charles Manson isn't getting married after all.
Those North Koreans sure know how to celebrate!
Wrecked expectations.
Stress and spiritual life.

Zach LaVine has some hops! If you’re a basketball fan, you understand.
This is not good.
Chaplain Mike on being countercultural.
Like a child.
Two good questions.

Pam Hogeweide is killing with kindness.
Community of contrast.
Coping with fear.
Good reminder from Michael Spencer.

Have a blessed week!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Too Much Grace?

"You're encouraging people to sin." "Folks are just going to use that as an excuse to live any way they please." These are just some of the complaints aimed at those who teach grace. If you have been a reader here for any length of time you can guess that I am going to disagree with those who say we should ease up on all this grace talk. I agree with what Robert Ferrar Capon once wrote.

“The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellar full of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred proof Grace–bottle after bottle of pure distilate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly. The word of the Gospel–after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps–suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home before they started…Grace has to be drunk straight: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale; neither goodness, nor badness, not the flowers that bloom in the spring of super spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case.”

I believe that when we look at the whole of Scripture, we will see that the message of pure grace is the message of Jesus. During Jesus' time on this earth, he made it clear that there is no way we could ever be right with God by keeping the Law. The letters written by Paul and the other apostles also are insistent that it is God's grace and mercy that brings us to him and makes us his children. 

Now, there are some who preach what they call a message of grace, but which is really a message of license. They say that because of God's grace a Christian is completely free of all sinning and is never convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit. It is true that the Spirit doesn't pound us down and burden us down with condemnation, but it is also true that we do sin. The conviction is not a judgmental thing but is more a reminder that we are not living as a child of God, but it is still there. When we are called on what we do, whether it is the Spirit or another person, it is not necessarily an accusation from satan.

I believe that an individual who truly has been captured by God's amazing grace, and who truly understands it, will agree with what Paul wrote in Romans 6. We don't sin so that there will be more grace. Grace does not mean that we can just do anything we want and God will just let it slide. God's grace is so powerful that it leads us to want to do whatever our Father wants us to do. The desire of our new heart is to love God with every fiber of our being, and to love others as Christ loved us. Sin is still present in us, and though it is not our nature any longer, we still sometimes choose to do those things that are wrong.

Folks who get grace are not against the Law. Rather, they appreciate the Law because it shows us how desperately we need someone else to do what is necessary to make us right with God. Jesus has fulfilled that Law, therefore it is not an external rule in our lives. Instead, by God's grace, we have an inward law of love that works in us so we can live like the children of God that we are.

The grace of God is amazing, wondrous, and powerful. It saves us and makes us children of God. It causes God's love to fill us and overflow onto those around us. As we are filled more and more with that love, we become more and more like Christ. 

That's pure two-hundred proof grace. Drink deeply.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

World Vision Wednesday

If you knit or crochet, here is a way you can be involved in helping poor children.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Weekend Wanderings: Long Weekend Edition

One of the nice things about being semiretired is the ability to extend any weekend to three days. Springlike weather has made an appearance here in the sunny South, proof that the groundhog is no better than anyone else at predicting the weather. Of course, winter is liable to come roaring back in at any time.

On to the real reason you're here.

Michael Spencer on poets.
Coldest town on earth.
Good post from Arthur Sido.
On being incomplete.
Hope for North Korea.

California and water.
Keith Giles on love.
Outcast? Possibly.
The H-Bomb.
Matt Appling on frustration.

Anyone want to take up Norse religion?
Drawing a line?
Eric Carpenter on war.
Opposite extremes?
Scot McKnight disagrees.

Have a blessed week!