Wise Women

One of the issues that churches wrestle with is the role of women in the church, especially in the area of leadership. Can a woman serve as the Pastor? Can women be Elders or Deacons?

What exactly is the role of women in the church?

It seems obvious that we will never reach a unanimous consensus. Those who believe that some leadership roles are restricted just to men have built their case from specific teachings in the Bible and are not likely to change. Those who believe that there are no restrictions on women serving in leadership roles have done the same.

Too often there is more heat than light in these types of discussions. That’s not helpful.

Regardless of which side you find yourself on in this issue, I want to remind all of us that there are significant roles that women can perform in the church.

One of the most significant roles is the role of the wise woman of Tekoa.

2 Samuel 14 records the story of a woman from the village of Tekoa who moved King David to action when even his advisers could not persuade the king to act. As a result she has become known as the wise woman of Tekoa.

There are other examples of women in the Bible that were used in very special ways by God. Women like Easter, Deborah, Anna, and Mary come to mind.

What is so intriguing is that these women lived in totally male-dominated cultures. Women were not only subservient to men but were often viewed as property to be owned and used by men. To advise kings, lead armies or speak words of prophecy were not only unusual but violated every standard of society. But thank God these women were there.

As a pastor I’ve been privileged to have some of these wise women in my churches. Women who were in the right place at the right time for God to use them. And I have benefited greatly from their wisdom. They are often older women. They don’t normally have much to say in public meetings but aren’t afraid to say what needs to be said in private. They don’t perceive themselves as wise, but they have accumulated a life-time of keen observations of people and events. They have walked with God, learned from the Word of God and talk with God as friends talk together. They have an intimate relationship with the Almighty.

There are a number of lessons that we can learn from these women, but one that stands out is that none of us know when or how God will use us if we, like these wise women, are spiritually ready to be used. One of the intriguing things about these women is that they don’t always know that they are speaking words of wisdom at the time they speak. It is simply that their collective time with God has given them a godly perspective on life so that when they speak they speak wisely.

That should be the goal – and it is an attainable goal – for each of us. To speak wisdom into every situation and event of life. That is only possible as we are immersed in the wisdom of God’s Word. Psalm 19:7 says the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure making wise the simple (spiritually unwise).

Wisdom for life can only come from the Word of God as we apply it to our everyday lives.

The challenge then is to follow the advice of the Apostle Paul who wrote, See then that you walk (live) circumspectly (accurately), not as foolish people but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:15-17).

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve

 

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Time

Time is an interesting concept. Consider this:

Our lives are controlled by time. Our lives are dictated by the rising and setting of the sun; the hands on the clock; the movement of the earth that gives us days, nights, years and seasons.

We are slaves to time. Whether you wear a watch (old school) or carry a telephone, you are constantly checking it to make sure that you are where you are suppose to be at the time you are suppose to be there. Time dictates our every movement.

We each have exactly the same amount of time. At least in terms of days. Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. No one gets 25 and no one gets cheated out of even one minute.

So what can we do with time?

The Bible give us some insights into time. For example it says:

Time is a gift from God.

For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things. Romans 11:36
What do you have that you did not receive? 1 Corinthians 4:7.

The time you have on earth is short.

What is your life? It is like a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. James 4:14.

Time as we know it will end someday.

Then will come the end. Matthew 24:14.

You will give a report of how you used your time on earth.

Each of us shall give account of himself to God. Romans 14:12.

You need to use your time wisely.

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:16.

Each moment of time is something that you will never get back. How you use it cannot be changed.

While none of us uses all of our time wisely, it is possible to use more of your time wisely today than you did yesterday. You can’t get back time once past but you can move forward in life with a determination not to waste such a precious commodity.

Redeem whatever time you have left – use it for God’s glory and as a blessing to other people.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve

I’m Tired of Easy Answers!

I don’t know when it happened but somewhere in the past of Christianity we began to look for easy answers to the complex issues of life. How often has someone said to you, when you were in the middle of a spiritual struggle – Prayer changes things or God will give you peace or Just Trust God or Just Believe. Maybe you hear the echoes of your own voice here. We have reduced the struggles of our faith to a series of clichés. To sound bites.

All of the above statements, and others, have an element of truth in them and perhaps that is why we find some comfort when we repeat them. But they are not the entire truth – there is so much more and that is why they ultimately do not satisfy. A partial truth can never be the answer to the spiritual struggles of life.

I’ve already addressed the issue of trusting/believing God in my post of January 27, 2014, The Problem With Faith, but what about prayer and peace?

It is true that prayer can change things – but it’s not always the case. And sometimes we find peace but at other times we just don’t have any peace. Why? Because those are easy answers.

Prayer really isn’t about changing things, it’s about getting to know God. What most Christians mean by prayer changing things is, “God did what I wanted him to do.” As if prayer was a button to be pushed to release exactly what they wanted from the vending machine. Prayer is not a button to be pushed; it’s a relationship to be pursued.

Prayer does ‘work,’ but it works very differently than we’d like. It still ‘works’: When we can’t trace out any direct result from our prayer. When the opposite of what we prayed for happens. In those moments when we feel very distant from God. When we bang down the door of heaven for years and are not sure anything is going on up there at all.

There are scores of people inside and outside the church whose spirits are crushed because they prayed (fervently) and: They didn’t get the job. Their mom died of cancer. Their child was born without a heartbeat. They ended up in a car crash that left them permanently disabled. Prayer doesn’t ‘work’ because I got what I wanted and they didn’t.

The parade of saints across the centuries would have been shocked to see prayer reduced to God-doing-what-I-asked-him-to-do-when-I-asked-him-to-do-it. God is not a puppy to be trained or a chef in the kitchen who prepares food to suit our every whim. He is sovereign.

As Richard Foster says: For those explorers in the frontiers of faith, prayer was no little habit tacked on to the periphery of their lives; it was their lives. It was the most serious work of their most productive years. Prayer—nothing draws us closer to the heart of God. Do things happen supernaturally when we pray? Well, yes they do. But often in ways we cannot understand or even trace out.

I think Christians can take consolation in the fact that when we pray, we often don’t know what to pray for or even how to pray, yet the scriptures tell us the Holy Spirit will translate the prayer into something better than we could phrase in the moment.

So pour your heart out to God. Pray about the things the scripture says are close to God’s heart. And when something ‘goes your way,’ be grateful and offer it back to the God who gave it to you.

And when things don’t go your way, understand that God is still very much in control and very much loves you. Just because God is silent doesn’t mean God is absent.
(from Carey Nieuwhof, Pastor at Connexus Community Church near Toronto, Canada).

Another example where we need more than easy answers is the area of peace. I wrote about this last week in a post titled Is it Really Possible to Have Peace? Let me just add this to what I wrote there. God promised peace to His followers (John 14:27) and He told us to let peace be the ruling force of our lives (Colossians 3:15). But too often we glibly throw out the line to the hurting soul – God will give you peace. Only that’s just half the answer. The other half is that God will give us peace when we begin to live in what we might call the way of peace (see last week’s blog for a more complete explanation). Having peace in our lives hinges on living a life worthy of peace. You can’t expect the result without the effort.

Make no mistake about it God has answers for our problems – they just aren’t easy answers. The problem is that life is complex and we can’t throw easy answers at complex issues. In addition to that Christianity itself is complex. God’s way of doing things is often hard and difficult and causes some messy situations for us. Don’t get even with the person who hurt you – be a blessing to them (Romans 12:19-20). Don’t hate your enemies – love them (Matthew 5:44). Don’t try to avoid trials – rejoice in them (James 1:2).

The truth is that Christianity can’t be reduced to a series of clichés. Whenever you reduce our faith to sound bites it cheapens the Christian life. Do you really want a faith that is that easy, that simplistic?

Don’t look for the easy answers. And please don’t offer them to someone who is struggling with life. Get into the complexity of the Christian life. Learn what it means to pray. Learn how you can have peace. The work will enrich your spiritual life and make the struggle worth the effort.

Wise Women & Life

There is an interesting phenomenon in the Bible that is easy to overlook. I call it The wise woman of Tekoa phenomenon. In 2 Samuel 14 you will find the story of a woman from a village named Tekoa who moved King David to action when even his advisors could not persuade the king to act. Consequently she has become known as the wise woman of Tekoa. There are other examples of women in the Bible that were used in very special ways by God. Women like Easter, Deborah, Anna, and Mary come to mind.

What is so intriguing is that these women lived in totally male-dominated cultures. Women were not only subservient to men, but were often viewed as property to be owned and used by men. To advise kings, lead armies or speak words of prophecy were not only unusual but violated every standard of society. But thank God these women were there.

As a pastor I’ve been privileged to have some of these wise women in my churches. Women who were in the right place at the right time for God to use them. And I have benefited greatly from their wisdom. They are often older women. They don’t normally have much to say in public meetings but aren’t afraid to say what needs to be said in private. They don’t perceive themselves as wise but they have accumulated a life-time of keen observations of people and events. They have walked with God, learned from the Word of God and talk with God as friends talk together. They have an intimate relationship with the Almighty.

There are a number of lessons that we can learn from these women, but one that stands out is that none of us know when or how God will use us if we, like these wise women, are spiritually ready to be used. One of the intriguing things about these women is that they don’t always know that they are speaking words of wisdom at the time they speak. It is simply that their collective time with God has given them a godly perspective on life so that when they speak they speak wisely.

That should be the goal – and it is an attainable goal – for each of us. To speak wisdom into every situation and event of life. That is only possible as we are immersed in the wisdom of God’s Word. Psalm 19:7 says the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure making wise the simple (spiritually unwise). Wisdom for life can only come from the Word of God as we apply it to our everyday lives.

See then that you walk (live) circumspectly (accurately), not as foolish people but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:15-17).

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve