Browsing Tag

Titus 2

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Keepers!…Sew Much Fun!…Excitement is Cooking!…These Girls Are Keepers!…

(Don’t miss the video at the end!)

You get the point. While the puns are pretty plentiful, this program in the Lads to Leaders organization for mentoring youth in churches is my favorite of all the Lads events. I  believe, for our girls, it is the most practical thing I’ve seen, other than direct mother-daughter mentoring, for helping our girls do what Titus 2 commands in that list of imperatives–things that older women in our congregations are to teach younger women. Today, I’m just going to give the definition of the Greek word oikouros, translated keepers at home or workers at home in Titus 2:5.

Ouikouros means:

caring for the house, working at home, the (watch or) keeper of the house, keeping at home and taking care of household affairs, a domestic

It’s an exciting concept in 2019, that God’s women are the keepers, the watches, the sentinels of this basic God-formed structure of society; that we get to take care of the “factory” if you will, for the future proclaimers of the Word,  and for the future elders and their wives for the eternal kingdom. It’s a privilege, the significance of which we dare not lose on our daughters.

Thus, the inception a few years ago of a program that helped complete an already thriving training ground for the youth of our churches. I hope you can take the time to watch a short video about this program. Special thanks to some of the girls at the West Huntsville church in Huntsville, Alabama and also some from the Centerville Road church in Garland, Texas.

You can see them here: https://youtu.be/VnBF2-s3VG0

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Oikouros. Do You Do This? (Conclusion)

As this series concludes, please remember that I understand there are those moms who’d like to do this oikouoros thing, but can’t. We should help such women in any way that we can to get to the goal. Some readers may say that I cannot understand, because I lived in a world in which my husband prioritized my staying at home or because I was able to have many luxuries and still  be at home with my children during those formative years. I know that I have been very blessed and there is some truth to those objections. I have to work every day to honor Him with blessings and to be sure I am not taking them for granted as if He owes me something. At the same time, I hope we‘ve picked up on the fact that the injunction to be oikouros is an inspired teaching conveyed in a word in Titus 2 and multiple times in concept form throughout Scripture. We will always suffer spiritually when we look to the world’s decision-making standards rather than the expressed will of our Creator.

One afternoon, I was driven up to a fabulous house in a high-end neighborhood where I would be staying while speaking in the area. I walked through beautifully decorated rooms, past a well-stocked entertainment center. I said hello to two very well-dressed young children and their dad, who was taking off his tie from a busy workday. I went upstairs to the beautiful guest bed and bath where I would be sleeping. The next morning, when I awoke, I peered out the window at a fenced, park-like backyard complete with a full playground with all the bells and whistles. I went downstairs for some orange juice and began to converse across the granite kitchen bar with my hostess. 

Somehow in that conversation, we moved to the topic of stress and the busy world in which we live. In this context, came the words that still make me sad when I remember that morning. I’ve heard the words many times since then. Sometimes the words are truth and that is sad. But sometimes they are words spoken, not of conviction of conscience, but more for a hurting conscience’s comfort. Her words were “I wish I did not have to work, so I could just stay home and raise my children.”

One day a child said the words to me this way: “ My mom would like to stay home with me, but she says that if she stays home, we can’t have our pool.” A variety of amenities have completed the sentence in different situations: “our new house” or “my private education” or “our trips to Disney”. 

There is a way to get past this amazing perspective. Go on a mission trip to Zambia or Argentina or Columbia or Tanzania or Haiti or any of the hundreds of poverty-stricken places in our world. Listen to children tell you about digging for rats to eat. Take cold showers and realize the hard way that there are no adequate sewage systems. Notice that goat head or turkey tail is a coveted entree, depending on your location.

I could go on, but the point is all too obvious. We are so rich in these United States that we have come to include luxuries in our lists of necessities. Our children are sometimes bringing shame on our families because they have grown up in worlds of instant gratification; worlds void of guidance, nurture, family Bible times, and deep family prayer. “A child left to himself brings his mother shame” (Proverbs 29:15). We, like the rich young ruler, have a lot going on materially, but we will continue to reap sorrow when we allow our possessions to own us rather than the other way around. 

“He went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Mt. 19:22).

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Oikouros. Do You Do This? (Part 5)

Every now and then I read something that impacts my thinking beyond what I can even recognize at the moment. I once read such a powerful blurb about a mother who sat down to write an ad for her local paper:

Help Wanted: Five days/wk sitter for infant and toddler in my home from 6:50 am to 5:00 pm. Sitter will use parents’ vehicle for transport to appointments, library, outings.  Interested applicant needs clean background, safe driving record.  Love of reading, music and healthy nutrition required. Non-smoker/drinker who loves Jesus. Respectful, clean, honest, dependable. Must love children…

Stopping abruptly, she commented “I cannot finish. I now know that the exact person I am looking for, is me.”

I also read something similar to what you can read below when I was a young mom. I do not have information to credit either of these, since I am relying on my memory. Obviously I am paraphrasing, but these little illustrations profoundly impacted my thinking about the importance of the job I was doing as the mother of two young children. 

We are all jugglers. We juggle housework and children and friendships and careers and husbands and cooking and laundry and service to God. We juggle grocery shopping and health care and hospitality and evangelism. We become masters at the juggling act. What we sometimes fail to realize is that some of the balls with which we juggle are rubber balls. When dropped, they are resilient. They bounce right back up and we can just incorporate them once again into the process of tossing and catching. But some of the balls with which we juggle are glass balls. Once dropped, they shatter into a million pieces and we can never retrieve all the pieces and put them back together again. Children are glass balls. 

Always remember….Children ARE glass balls. Cradle, cushion, protect and keep them to one day deliver them back to the Father.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Oikouros. Do You Do This? (Part 4)

At this point, I need to interject an important truth. We do not always get to do exactly what we want to do. Of course, we simply do not.  Have you ever read something or heard a sermon about faithful attendance to all the worship services and then left that article or sermon feeling discouraged because you are having to take care of a very sick parent or because you are having to work an extra job while your spouse is suffering from cancer or because your own immune system is low ( or because of one of a thousand other things that’s been making you absent yourself  from your favorite activity in the whole world)? After all, the sermon or lesson called for repentance and you just can’t even fix the problem right now. That’s discouraging. 

I have a friend who is a faithful single mom. She understands that her situation is not the one God would have planned for her and her work schedule has been keeping her from being at the services of the church consistently. She has elicited the prayers of faithful Christian sisters as she strives to get to a point where her hours are more conducive to being there each time. She’s had us praying for specific job interviews and, at last, she has been given the job that will allow her to be at every service. Now, where was her heart all along? Was she living faithfully? Of course, she was. And God is blessing her. 

Do you know what the key is to whether or not you should repent of being absent from the assemblies? Of course you do. It is your heart. it lies in whether or not you have chosen to be absent. it lies in where you WANTED to be, 

The heart is the key. The greatest command will always be about the heart (Luke 10:25-28). It’s what you are choosing there. It’s what’s the priority there. It’s what you are doing IF you get to do exactly what you WANT to do. 

Let me just emphasize that the same is true of our word oikouros. Yes, it is an injunction from the Holy Spirit for older women to be teaching younger women to do this. It’s in a list of imperatives that keep the Word from being blasphemed by those around us. It is important. 

But every woman reading knows exactly where her heart is about oikouros. Some women, because of medical emergencies, loss of a husband’s job, sin in the past of which they are fully penitent, or a thousand other factors, may go through seasons of being absolutely unable to fully be the “worker at home” that they really want to be. But it’s about the heart. It’s about the priority there. It’s about what I am choosing. It’s about what I want for my home and family. It’s about what, given the chance, I will choose.

And, of/for those sisters, who are, at least for a time, not getting to do what they deeply wish they could be doing, we should be supportive, encouraging, prayerful, resourceful and, yes, we should be helpful. The Golden Rule goes a long, long way in helping those who are desperately wanting to be oikouros

One more illustration. I have a dear friend who has failed this week. This week she has not even cooked for her dear husband. She has not done laundry or cleaned up her house and it’s a wreck. She has not sent out her regular cards to weak members or kept up with her prayer group. If oikouros had a grading or merit system base on achievement, she has certainly failed this week. 

But her house was hit by that obliterating tornado in Jacksonville, Alabama last week. That factor makes all the difference. See, we don’t go to her right now to chastise her for the fact that all of the main things in her world are undone. We go and help her do the best she can with what’s on her plate at the moment. Because it’s all about the heart. It’s about the “want-to.” What does she want to do right now with all her heart? Because of the answer to that question, we know she is succeeding rather than failing. 

Because of my conscience about what is happening on a large scale to children in our culture…(that is, parents are choosing to relinquish their care and training to others), I will keep saying, with all of my small influence, the importance of oikouros, in conjunction with all the remaining and equally important characteristics of Titus 2:3-5. But may all of us constantly remember, that from the heart flow the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23). And may we pray for the changes that a pure heart desires. May we love, encourage with our words, support, and pray in behalf of sisters who are not getting to do what they really want to do. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Oikouros. Do You Do This? (Part 3)

I realize I have a propensity to oversimplify. I am thankful for the Titus 2 instruction embodied in the Greek word “oikouros.” It is straightforward and simple (though hard to do, in our culture). At the same time, I’m thinking I could figure out that moms of young children need to be with those children, nurturing and training them, even if I did not have that specific instruction in the New Testament. Just like the commission of murder and theft and adultery surely would violate my conscience if I were marooned somewhere and had missed exposure to the Bible,  I think I would, albeit perhaps through a bit more of a process, figure out that my children need me to be a fairly constant caretaker. 

But it would be even easier to figure it out from my community in Huntsville, AL. I’d figure out the “natural-ness” of it when I cried that first day I had to leave her to go to work. I’d figure it out when I watched moms in my neighborhood rushing out the door on freezing mornings before dawn with babies and toddlers in their pajamas. I’d figure it out when I looked down the street at the in-home daycare run by my friend and watched those dressed-for-office-in-heels moms hurrying those children into her home, while handing her the antibiotic, the clothing, the diapers and the comfort toys. I’d figure it out when I heard about moms (lots of them) who birth children who have to go in the NICU and then the hospital staff does not see those moms again until it is pick-up day. I’d figure it out when I talked to young teen girls who find themselves pregnant. Conception almost always occurs in the afternoon hours when school is out, but mom is not yet home from work. I’d probably think about it when my daughter worked in a museum for children and there were multiple occasions when children were accidentally left behind after hours by day care workers who failed to count heads correctly as buses were loaded. (Sometimes they never even missed the children till my daughter called to report there was a child still in the museum and it was closing time.) I’d figure it out through counseling kids with porn addictions, gang memberships and eating disorders…a common denominator, in my experience, often being parents who dropped the “involvement” ball somewhere along the line. I’d have figured it out that day at summer camp when Brianna’s mom did not have time to come and get her for an emergency doctor visit. After the emergency, and having understood that her mom was sick,  I asked Brianna “Now, what is the matter with your mom? I am so sorry that she is in pain.”

“Oh no,” Brianna said. “She is not in pain. She is in paint. This is her one week off work and she is trying to get a room painted, so she could not come to get me.” It’s not a wonder that Brianna was already deeply into a very dangerous eating disorder. 

Kids are not cows. Cows need food, water, shelter, a place to exercise and someone to give them some attention when they are sick. It doesn’t really matter to cows who the someone is. But kids are different because of the souls placed in them. It matters. It matters that the someone is consistent, conversational, deeply concerned about their well-being, and connected to all aspects of their lives. These factors have been proven to be important to success over and over again. They are especially important to spiritual success; the only kind of success that really matters.  The someone needs to pretend with them, make them laugh, and wipe their bottoms and clean up their vomit without it being a disgusting job. The someone needs to, in fact, truly wish she could be sick instead of the child. 

See, the Deuteronomy 6 type parenting (you know, the rising-up, sitting-down, walking-by-the- way and lying-down-at night-kind) is not possible in circumstances where small children are not even with their moms during the vast majority of their waking hours. Convictions happen in conversations. 

Just because you are the birth mother does not necessarily mean you are the mother in all respects. If you hurriedly get up in the morning—almost every morning—and rush your little one off for someone else to dry his tears, read him a story, feed him lunch and put him down for his nap, you maybe should think before calling yourself “mama”. Someone else could be filling that role more fully than are you. Someone else may actually be more responsible for the values being placed in your child. And it is especially sad when it is a lot of different someones with  multiple, varied and confusing sets of values and standards. 

I really don’t want to be harsh. But I think articulation in behalf of children is important. I cannot write a blog without occasionally speaking this glaring truth that’s so often ignored by a society in which the children are often left behind in a quest for financial and social success. Children are sometimes not able to articulate even the basic golden rule. But they are in desperate need of the application of it in America today by the adults in their volatile little worlds.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Oikouros. Do you do this? (Part One)

Today, in a morning lecture at SPARK, I talked about the word Oikouros from Titus 2:5. You know, it’s the word for “keeper at home.” The English meaning of the Greek word is “stayer at home, keeper at home, a domestic, a worker at home.” It’s really not a complicated word to understand, but, in a culture of “posh”, a society of instant material gratification, it’s just hard to do. It’s hard for young women, to whom the passage is applicable, to stay at home and raise  their children. 

I know there will be dissenters who read this series. I know I will hear from some of them. But I cannot find it in my conscience to ever stop saying what I believe to be Biblical truth. I cannot, because of those who have regrets or because of those who have strong disagreement, fail to say what I believe is the mandate of the Holy Spirit regarding the role of young mothers in the church today. 

You see, Oikouros, whatever it means, is in the middle of an authority sandwich. It immediately follows the Holy Spirit’s admonition for Titus to say the things which constitute “sound doctrine.” Could there be a sound church with faithful elders and godly members on that wicked (Titus 1:12, 13)  island where, according to historical accounts, pederasty was the order of the day and male prostitution was the norm? Apparently, the Holy Spirit thought so as the book is characterized by admonitions of how to be faithful and how to establish a faithful eldership. Oikouros is in the middle of the description of faithful characteristics of younger women. It precedes the warning, that if women fail to be the women described  in verses 3-5, the Word of God may be blasphemed (evil “spoken of” among the heathen peoples around them). That’s a serious proposition (See II Samuel 12:14 and I Timothy 1:20).

So, whatever is meant by Oikouros, it matters. It’s important. It’s part of what older women are to teach younger women in the church. It’s in the middle of an authoritative passage from the Holy Spirit. Let’s think, for a few postings, about this one little word and its ramifications in our culture of wealth today. It’s not at all important what Cindy Colley thinks, of course. But, when God has spoken, we should do whatever it takes to bow to His authority. I hope you will read on. Even if you might be reading knowing that you will likely disagree in the end, I still hope you’ll read on, and then write me that letter, so I can reexamine, too. It can never be wrong to re-examine our convictions, even when they end up staying exactly where we left them on some earlier day. I hope today is a good one for you!