Dissenters Briskly Removed!

It is one of the hallmark traits of liberal thinking when a view is stated and, in the stating of it, there is an automatic preclusion of any disagreement or dissenting idea by others . Examples are everywhere you look, particularly in the writings and conversation of millennials:

On Facebook: “Feel free to comment, but negative remarks will be briskly deleted.”

On Twitter: “No time for haters.”  (Of course, often a “hater” is a person who expresses disagreement with a premise or application of such.)

In a letter: “Those who are characterized by fragility will feel compelled to be defensive about this…” 

On the phone: “You just haven’t come to understand this issue yet and so we cannot have a dialog.” 

All of these, as you can see, are different ways to say “You cannot have input in this conversation because you do not agree with me.” Interestingly enough, the very view being expressed, with which folks are not allowed to disagree, is most often an espousal made in the name of “tolerance.”

Very often today, the people for whom there is not time or space for comment are those who are  in a different age group, particularly those who are older—who have lived a bit longer than millennials.

Don’t get me wrong. I think those in their twenties and thirties who are attempting to contribute to conversations about political, ethical, social, and spiritual issues are often bright and well-informed. I think ideas emerging are often fresh and innovative. I can learn a lot from them IF the perspective is one of honesty, humility and objectivity. It’s the preclusion—the foregone conclusion that one has arrived at truth and dissenters will be “removed and blocked”…therein lies the problem. 

I’ve thought about Titus 2 a lot lately when reading millennial writers. If older men are to teach younger men in the Lord’s body…if older women are to teach younger women ( and that’s the acceptable scenario to prevent blasphemy of the Word)….I say, if these commanded conversations about relationships and daily Christian living are going to occur, the younger heart has to be malleable, kind, gentle and inquiring. The “all dissenters will be deleted” prohibition is not in Titus 2. In fact it’s not in the description of what is good:

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8).

I pray that Titus 2 scenarios can be plentiful and blessed in the kingdom today. I certainly do not have all the answers now, but I surely am thankful for some older women who helped me figure out some very important things when I was younger. In fact, I’m thankful for some sixty, seventy, and eighty-somethings who are still helping this fifty-something figure things out.  

That’s my view for today. All dissenters welcome!

Sister to Sister: Orphans Among Us

soccer-mom-1The following is an excerpt from a letter I received from a young Christian sister this week. Small editions have been made for clarity and anonymity. I want to thank this sister for giving me a bit of a picture of the struggles and needs of young mothers raised outside the body. Can you help? I know, if you are an older woman in Christ, you can. But WILL you? Here’s the excerpt:
In Bible Class this morning I was shaken up.
One of our congregations ministers  filled in for our class today and talked about Titus 2. The class was mostly older retired men and women.
He was brave enough to ask questions that made it clear God EXPECTS the older to teach the younger which is not only teens but for those in their 50s to mentor those in their 20s and 30s. He called many in that audience to step up to the plate. 
His wife commented and talked about how an older Christian man impacted her and she cried thinking of how he was more to her life than her physical grandfather.
I was especially moved by the wisdom of God because I, personally, have sought older Christian women and, although it’s only two or three women, I have made them the mothers in Christ that I need in order to raise my children in God’s ways and love my husband as God expects; to keep going when I feel defeated and to be my  hope when I do not know if I can persevere. 
I don’t know if you realize that it is hard for those of us who are NOT from Christian families to fit into God’s family because we feel lost many times. We even feel like we are intruding because the ones we look up to have kids (physical families) of their own. We need what older women are to us and are thankful when we get to be in their lives. We are orphans of a sort with emotional baggage but we “cry out” to the people of God and are blessed when people respond.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2:3-5

Sister to Sister: I’m Old…So Here! (Part 3)

11057335_10152618923116384_8647455845390333819_nSuggestion three is not easy to say. In fact, its implementation is a struggle for this older woman. But I believe it might be the most practical of any suggestion in 2015 for millennials who want to be keepers–guardians  and protectors of–the home. I’m not a millennial. (Does that mean I am a pre-millennial? Not in the theological sense, but, yes–in the “older woman” sense.) But I know lots of them and I love the way that so many of them are coming back home–to its values, its oh-so-important roles, its traditions. So today, let’s think about something small, relatively new and pretty powerful in terms of relationships in the home.

It fits in the pocket of your purse or sometimes even in a very large pocketed keychain. It’s only a few centimeters in both length and width. In fact, its smallness is one of its biggest selling points. But in that tiny pocket package there is power to destroy relationships. The devil can fit in a package even that tiny, if you let him. You know what the package is. It’s your cell phone—your mobile device.

I heard about a pre-schooler the other day who was asked the question, “What’s the most important thing in the world to your mommy?” Without batting an eye, the sweet little girl responded “Her phone.” Sometimes the answer must be just that obvious to our kids. We keep it with us at all times. We protect it from the elements. (I actually know a man who, while cleaning the swimming pool, was accidentally falling into the water. This man had the prudence and presence of mind to reach into the pocket of his shorts and toss his cell phone onto the concrete, mid-fall! The phone was salvaged.)  We make monthly payments for its use and we check on it multiple times throughout our days.

But I know many homes in which the devil, through that little flat rectangular disc, is doing great damage. Here are a few ways he works through your device:

  1. He makes you fail to “redeem the time”. Sometimes our houses are dirty and/or cluttered, we are behind on the laundry, the cat litter box is a mess, the beds are unmade and we are running late to worship. We fail to study our Bibles daily, but we have scrolled through our news feeds, taken time to post a picture or status and, oh, if only our houses looked like our pins! (Don’t think for a moment that this is personally directed at anyone, because I write, first, to improve my own time redemptive habits.)
  2. The devil makes you overspend. It’s so much easier to buy things when there’s no getting out of your pajamas, no “store hours” to fit into your schedule, no face-to-face exchange of money, no paper trail and SO MUCH (literally, the whole world of retail) from which to choose.
  3. He makes you fail to see needs around you. You are focused on the needs that are far away…a child on CNN who is lost in the Rockies, a ten car pile-up on I-65, a federal financial crisis, or a politician who has misspoken. All the while, you are failing to see the things you can personally fix, or at the very least, affect…the child who is losing his way spiritually—YOUR child…the “pile-up” that’s in your closet, your playroom or your laundry room or, even worse, the emotional pile-up that has accumulated between you and your sister in Christ…the financial crisis that has occurred in your own checking account or with the plastic in your wallet…the words misspoken around your own breakfast table, or the words of encouragement that went unspoken as you scrolled through distant statuses and pithy postings of strangers. Sometimes, we just become very far-sighted in the presence of our devices and the things we could positively affect remain unaffected. And when we fail to do good, it is sin (James 4:17).
  4. The devil tempts us through the lust of the eyes and flesh (I John 2:16). With the multi-billion dollar pornography industry, most of which is readily available on your device, not to mention the appeal of the world through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, he is having a heyday in the lives of the people who are supposed to be sanctified. If you cannot see this as a personal affront of the devil—an affront of which you need to constantly beware—then you are not astute enough to be mentally responsible before God.
  5. The devil is working to addict (enslave) the people of God. Anything that I can’t lay aside for  His purposes, whatever His purpose may be at any given time, is an addiction. Many people I know are addicted to cell phone use. They cannot lay the devices aside for more important things, even temporarily.
  6. The most tragic thing the devil might be doing through your mobile device is destroying your relationship with your spouse. The command for wives in Titus 2 is to love (phileo) our husbands. “Phileo” is friendship love. We are commanded to be best friends with our husbands. Our husbands are commanded to dwell with us according to knowledge, giving us honor. We are missing out on some pretty basic and important relationship builders when we are phone or i-pad addicted. We miss smiles and winks. We miss opportunities to pick up a dropped fork or a broken spirit. We miss conversations that result in sexual intimacy or answers to life’s dilemmas. We miss the “look” of utter dependence that might have made us more clearly see the importance of what we are doing in the home or, in the case of husbands, on the job. We, thus, miss confidence milestones and esteem builders. We miss opportunities to show gratitude. We are absent in the “moments” of life and love. We become deficient in our communication skills because it’s easier to “stalk” than talk; easier to feed curiosity than character; easier to maintain internet navigation than interpersonal communication. So we slowly erode relationships. We do what is easy and neglect what is rewarding. It is a self-centered way to watch our marriages die. And, when the devil succeeds, through the tiny box, in this erosion, he can get his tentacles on so much more—your purpose, your skills of submission or your husband’s leadership abilities, and even the generations that will eventually come from your home.

Are you wondering if the devil may be “stalking” you through your device. Ask yourself some simple questions:

  1. Are there days when the “basics” of home are missing some components—like hot meals, clean clothes in the closet, or clean forks in the drawer…but the facebook posts have been read and you’ve caught up on Instagram notifications? (Maybe I should get up this very moment and do something else and not even post this!)
  2. If you check back on your eBay or Amazon (or other retail) history, do you find that you are spending more than you thought on impulse on-line purchases? Do your kids or grandkids already have more than they need to wear (or play with) and more keeps popping up in your mailbox? Do you have so many clothes (or shoes or purses or baby carriers) that you never wear any of them out and you keep searching the web for more? (I talk to myself. Do you?)
  3. I know you use your Facebook to encourage others, but, if you read Matthew 25, do you find  yourself failing to do most of the “judgement-day-requisites” listed in verses 33-46 in real relationships with those in your congregation, while you find time somehow to shop, pin, post and “catch up” with people you seldom see?
  4. Do you find yourself taking your device to the bathroom with you or locking the door of your office while perusing the web or quickly shutting down pages when someone walks into the room?
  5. If you challenged yourself to do without your mobile devices for one full day except to answer incoming voice calls, would you have a difficult time doing that? Is it hard for you to commit to that test?
  6. Do you have your phone with you at the dinner table?
  7. Do you text others as you ride along with your spouse in the car?
  8. Do you text while driving?
  9. Has your spouse ever mentioned  to you that he wishes you would not be on your phone while with him?
  10. Do you communicate with someone  of the opposite sex online about matters that are sensitive, personal or even sexual in nature?
  11. Do you “talk” with someone of the opposite sex online…a friendly communicative relationship of which your spouse is unaware?
  12. Do you keep surfing or communicating online at night after your spouse goes to sleep?
  13. Do you find yourself very often finishing a line of text or reading a post before going to see about a crying baby or answering child who is calling you? Or do you always look at your phone while rocking your baby or watching a movie or ballgame with your children or family?
  14. Have you ever parted from your spouse and failed to kiss him goodbye because you were involved on your device?
  15. Are you withholding any passwords or devices from full spousal awareness and accountability?

imagesIf one or more of the answers to the above questions is “yes” for me, then I need to examine that area of my life and consider changes. I might be using my phone to communicate while failing in the most important communication of all. If several of the answers is “yes”, then I should beware. The devil may be trying to connect with me online. If I accept him as a friend, I will complicate my life and endanger my eternity. He is constantly posting, sharing, tweeting and texting. He is very tech savvy and extremely “social”.  I must be sure that I own my i-phone rather than allowing it to own me. Because the devil knows my number.

Sister to Sister: I’m Old…So Here! (Part Two)

11057335_10152618923116384_8647455845390333819_nSuggestion number two is harder for me than the previous one. Digging in the Word is never boring. There’s always something unexpected waiting. The more you know, the more you want to know. But my words to Him, on the other hand, are not inspired. They are not perfect. They are often more of what I need to say–confession, regret, pleadings for mercy–than what I want to say. Maybe that’s just it, though. We need to say what he already knows but wants to hear us say. That, of course, includes our praise as well as our pleas.

If you are expecting a child, you need to be praying Manoah’s plea from Judges 13:8.

“…teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.”

If you are presented with a seemingly insurmountable challenge in life—a spiritual responsibility that makes you weak in the knees or an opportunity to glorify Him that takes your breath away—pray the words of Mary in Luke 1:38:

“…Behold the handmaid of the Lord…”

When you are sorely disappointed by circumstances beyond your control, pray from Romans 8:28:

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Ask him to help you to wait in faith for the good that will ultimately come from even this sorrow or pain as it is woven together with the other “things” in your life. Ask Him to help you cling steadfastly to the “calling”.

Another prayer that takes a lot of spiritual stamina to take to God has its roots in Matthew 16:26:

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

If you thank Him for whatever part of the “whole world” he has laid at your feet (and for most of us, it’s plenty to live on and lots more), and then you add this: “But Lord, if I ever let these material blessings get in my way of serving you, then just take them on away from me,” —then you are beginning to grasp the insignificance of the physical blessings in comparison to the spiritual. You will find it increasingly difficult to allow ballgames, homework and travel to get in the way of worship. (After all, He gave you those children with healthy bodies and sharp minds and He gave you the money, health and means to travel. You’ve prayed that he will remove these blessings if they are spiritual obstacles.) You will find it increasingly difficult to take jobs or promotions that will be at the expense of valuable spiritual time with your family. You will have a hard time agreeing to spend your resources on that concert or book or movie that will put your mind in a place of moral compromise. In short, you have prayed a prayer that finds its answer in places of greater spiritual strength. Maybe the best part is that, when you are reaching new spiritual heights, your children are watching and  learning exactly what (and Whom) it is that matters most to you. You are making a direct imprint on little hearts; an impression that may affect not just one generation, but multiple ones.

Perhaps most importantly and most universally we should be praying James 1:5. Just don’t do mornings without it!

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”

Do you have crying babies that can’t always let you know what they are needing? Then you need wisdom. Do you have toddlers that are presenting behavioral challenges and yet you are not sure whether they are rebelling or misunderstanding the instruction? Then you need wisdom. Do you have children who are hearing little tidbits about sex at school or in peer groups, but you really don’t know how much is too much to share with them about this subject just yet? Then you need wisdom. Do you have pre-teens who are suddenly becoming uncomfortable in their own skin—kind of stuck in the awkward years between cuddly and cool? Then you need wisdom. Do you have teens who are being exposed to—even experimenting with– sin? Then you need wisdom? Or do you have teens who are trying hard to do the right thing among peers who are mocking—even persecuting? Then you need wisdom. Do you have parents or grandparents who are aging and needing more and more of your time? Then you need wisdom.

So, listen to this old woman. Don’t do mornings without the James 1:5 prayer. It’s a present from God all wrapped up and waiting for you. It’s for those who lack wisdom—you and me. (“If any of you lack wisdom…”) It’s accessibility is for those who ask. (“…let him ask…”) The source of this wisdom is not Dr. Phil or Oprah or even your preacher or elders. It’s God. (“…of God…”) The Giver is not stingy or selfish. (“…who gives to all men liberally…”) He does not make fun of you because you are in need of wisdom or because you do not already know what He knows. (“…and upbraids not…”) This is not a “maybe” promise. It is a happening thing. (“…and it shall be given him.”) How can you get your soul’s permission to do mornings without praying James 1:5, especially if the nurturing decisions of your day may well be influenced by getting your heart into that prayer?

In the last post, we emphasized the importance of getting into the Word. It’s true. You rob yourself of the best kind of riches during any part of your life in which you fail to study. But do you want to multiply the dividends of your study investment? Then pray the scriptures as you study them. But beware….You will be in the Word more so you can pray more deeply and you will pray that you can be in the Word more deeply!

Sister to Sister: I’m Old…So Here! (Part One)

11057335_10152618923116384_8647455845390333819_nWhile I know I’m not the Proverbs 31 woman yet and I’m surely not wise enough to be called a counselor, I am pretty old. I am a grandmother! So there’s this command in Titus 2 for me to be a teacher of younger women. I really want to at least try to be a Titus 2 older woman. I know God’s Titus 2 wisdom is infinitely greater than mine, but still, He calls me to be a vessel for His truth to the younger women I love. Younger Christian women are, perhaps, my greatest source of encouragement in this part of my life. I love the way that so many are dedicated–really given totally– to putting their families around the throne for eternity.  I’m going to take the next few installments of “Bless Your Heart” to talk from the person that I can hardly believe I am (old) to those who are twenty and thirty-somethings—those of you who still have time to get life right…those who can make some major choices in your homes and lives that will make you happier when you’re 55, like me.

So here’s the first and most obvious suggestion. No, this is not a suggestion. This is more important than food or sleep. May I implore you to study the Word? Young women often ask me how I “got into” speaking at ladies days. They ask for suggestions to help them become teachers of ladies classes or seminars. Here’s how: Study. Then study some more.

There is simply no shortcut for Bible study. It’s a great temptation to search for pithy ways to say fluffy things, to repeat the one or two lessons that you’ve presented over and over in various places, or to use borrowed material. But you will never have even a fraction of the influence on others if you use any of these shortcuts as you will if you study. If you are not deeply into the Word, your best efforts will come across as presentations rather than the bread of life that feeds hungry souls. I know this, not because I have always done a great job at Bible study. I know this because I have often failed and  regretted presenting a lesson that could have been better…meatier… and could have resonated more deeply and in more souls.

Just make a promise to yourself now that you are going to get into the Word in some way every day. You can do the Digging Deep study that’s on this site. You can outline every chapter of the New Testament. You can choose a topic and get out the concordance and make notes on all related passages. You can write materials for teen girls. You can do character studies. You can  do word studies. You can listen to sound gospel preaching and teaching from websites like www.westhuntsville.org or www.housetohouse.com, among many others. You can order materials to study from www.apologeticspress.org or do research from a virtual spiritual gem of mine at www.christiancourier.com. You can purchase great books from www.publishingdesigns.com or www.winklerpublications.com or from tuckersbooks.com, among many other outlets. You can write your own spiritual scripture-based blog.

Just do it. Just promise yourself that you are going to help yourself to peace and wisdom and future happiness. No matter what age you may be, if you have not been studying daily, you have already wasted too much valuable time. Further, the more you know about the Bible, the more there is to know. It’s an all-you-can-eat spiritual buffet that’s necessary for life, never consumed, never gets old and never fills you all the way up. Ultimately, you’ll find yourself in a post-death situation that renders all other information besides the material contained in that one book eternally and utterly useless. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t over-plan and under-commit to the plan. Don’t wait till you have the “right” tablet or computer program. Don’t give up if one time of day or study plan doesn’t work well for you. Don’t let babies or jobs stop you. Don’t let a missed day turn into a missed month.  Don’t be afraid to ask for accountability. Especially, don’t be afraid to ask God to help you find the time and make the effort. It’s worth it. It’s worth it in the end. But it’s also worth it on the first day that you start your regime. So do it. Every day.

Sister to Sister: THIS (seminar) & THAT (visit).

Unknown-12I’m looking forward to some excruciatingly busy, but unbelievably blessed times. This weekend, Glenn and I will be at the Macland Road church in Marietta, Georgia (www.maclandroadchurchofchrist.org/event/marriage-seminar-glenn-cindy-colley/) to talk about marriage and the family. It’s called the “You’re Singing My Song” seminar and we always love doing these. I think it’s one of the most tangibly rewarding things God lets us do. We get to actually see the results of doing marriage God’s way and we hear over and over, through emails and Facebook and even phone texts from attendees that a big decision to do family Biblically makes all the difference in the temperament of home. In fact, it makes the word “home” sweeter and the concept of family the haven that God intended it to be.

Then, the following weekend, my daughter, Hannah and I will be speaking a bunch of times at a women’s retreat near Trion, Ga. I love the topic of “Renewal” that they have chosen. I love, even more, the scriptures that will form the basis of our discussions. From Psalm 51, we will be discussing the creation of a clean heart and the renewal of a right spirit. From Romans 12:1,2 we will address the renewal of the mind: refusing to conform to the world and mind transformation. So excited about these six lessons. I think we are doing a question and answer session, as well. God has the answers if we really want them for daily instruction and practice. Let me know if you want info about this retreat. I am not sure how full the accommodations are, but I can put you in touch with the one who knows.

Yesterday I had the blessed opportunity to go and visit with one of our elderly, but young in spirit, women, Mrs. Nancy Cantrell. There has never been a moment since I have known Mrs. Nancy, when I have not deeply admired her. She and her faithful husband lived together many years in his service, doing mission work and just taking the precious gospel to all who would listen. Truly, she is one of the most evangelistic sisters I have ever known. For several years now, she has been living alone and spending every day in the anticipation of being reunited with her dear husband around the throne. She has faithful adult children and grandchildren. She IS the Titus 2 older woman, for sure.

It’s rare that I get to be the younger woman of Titus 2 these days, so I wanted to take advantage of Mrs. Nancy’s offer to help me with my embroidery software for my Bernina sewing machine. She’s taken the time to monogram many, many gifts, including graduation and wedding towels for Hannah, Christmas dish towels for me, and a beautiful handmade Bible cover that I treasure.  Can I just tell you that I basked in the pleasure of getting to go to her house and have fresh brewed coffee while she showed me a thing or two I needed to know about my embroidery program. I cannot think of anything that could have put me in Titus 2 more directly than my visit with Mrs. Nancy. She exudes every quality of this verse:

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things…

And, she spent her precious morning teaching me some improvements I could make in one aspect of being a “keeper at home”….Titus 2 still works today just the same as it did in the first century. I love the timeless quality of practical New Testament teachings.

I’m telling you, younger women…if you have somebody in your life who fills this bill, you’d better take advantage of her friendship and counsel. The days are coming quickly when, in our feministic world and, sadly our culture-influenced church, women with the Titus 2 qualities will be few and far between. Even if I hadn’t learned a thing about my software, my visit would have been worth it simply for the Titus 2 osmosis from which God knew we would benefit when he gave the instruction that links younger women up with older women in Christ.

That’s the way it is. God’s best is reserved for His children. Thankful for His best this week.