Thursday, 2 October 2014

Juggling Life God's Way

As women, you all know that we need to be absolutely awesome at juggling life. We are told we are the queens of multi-tasking. But somedays, let's just say we feel more like a serf than a queen. It is days like these, that I find myself looking back to previous lessons I've learned from God and reminding myself of what God's word, the Bible says about how women are to juggle life. There are so many balls we need to keep up in the air - motherhood, womanhood, wifely responsibilities, managing a household, ministry, friendships and our own 'me' time.  

How can we do it all and stay balanced? 

Are some areas of life to have more weight than others?

Is it actually possible to be a "Proverbs 31" woman or is that just a mirage sent to taunt us?

I have found that the Bible has the answers to these questions and more. Below are 4 common hazards I have found in my journey in life so far as a Christian, wife, mother and businesswoman. 

1. Neglecting The Castle

In the past I have been tempted to do ‘ministry for the LORD’ to the detriment of my own family and it’s needs.  My castle, for a woman’s home is her castle, was in ruins - chronically ill children, a perpetually messy house, ignored chores, and an ignored husband were all of little consequence to me in my proud efforts to do ‘great things for God!”.  At some point, I actually started kidding myself that quality time was more  important than quantity time. But that is a lie. My husband and children need both - a high quantity of quality time. Where did I get the stupid idea that I could chop one of those out and still raise healthy, psychologically sound children with Godly character plus have a healthy, happy marriage? Probably came from a selfish desire to take short-cuts to suit my own needs. Anyway, at it’s root, it’s just plain old sin.

I think this ideology is still really prevalent in Australia. I see women put their children in daycare or after-school care so they can become pastors at the local church. I see women use the TV to babysit their kids so they can focus on reaching other people’s children for Christ - meanwhile they are neglecting discipling their own children. I see women who openly proclaim their marriages are a mess, yet take up women’s ministry. I see women who travel away from the home extensively to do ministry yet rarely see their own children.

It’s not right.

As women we are called to model what it holy and righteous in our own homes first, before
we try and help someone else. Don’t be like the cleaner who cleans everyone else’s home
and then lives in a pigsty herself, needing to pay an expensive cleaner regularly to clean up her own mess. It’s inefficient and ineffective because you’re going around in circles. Put your own house in order first would be another way of saying it. The familiar story of the log in the eye causing problems when trying to remove a speck in another’s, also comes to mind.

Jesus calls us foremost as Mothers to be busy at home, raising our children, loving our children, discipling our children - for this is the next generation and what we do and how we do it really, really matters. It is a privilege to be called to raise future men and women of the LORD. This is where the bulk of our time is to be spent.

You see when we are neglecting our children and our husbands so we can do “ministry” we’re doing things Jesus hasn’t asked us to do. We can become idlers, gossips and busybodies. It’s just a useless waste of our time because we’re going about things backwards.

“..train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind so that no-one will malign the word of God.” Titus 2:4

“If anyone does not provide for his relatives and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 2 Tim 5:8

“so I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan.” 2 Tim 5:14,15

“has been faithful to her husband and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.” 2 Tim 510

2. Neglecting the Temple

Don’t be busy ONLY in your own house, with all of it’s needs there. Work for the Lord outside the home as well. The two are not mutually exclusive. We are called to build both the temple and the castle, not one or the other.

God has really spoken to me about this the past 2 weeks or so through the book of Haggai. The Prophet Haggai rebuked God’s people because they were procrastinating on working for the LORD outside of the home. They’d got it out of balance the other way. He calls them self-centered and then says what they were doing was futile in God’s eyes. Because of that, he would make their work in the home futile.

Ever feel like you’re going around in circles, trying to make progress in the Castle? As a housewife and mother that can be maddening. Maybe, like me, it’s because you are procrastinating and neglecting the Temple. Haggai says we are ALL called to work for the LORD. 

“Be strong... be strong... be strong... all you people and work!” Haggai 2:4

Like the Israelites in the book of Haggai, I was procrastinating, putting off participating in ministry outside of the home until another time -  justifying it by proclaiming in my own head “that it just wasn’t God’s timing.”  Ah, another lie. All are called to work. I’m not to leave it to others.

“This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘These people say, “The time has not yet come for the LORD’s house to be built”.’

As to what ministry you choose? That will require you to submit to both God's will and your husband's will. I learned this one the hard way a few years ago. I was happy to submit to God's will after seeking Him in prayer but forgot that this included listening to my husband's advice about the whole thing. My pride kept me from respecting my husband's wisdom and headship.

3. Neglecting the Walk

There is no point loving and caring for your family and doing ministry outside of the home for the LORD if you are still steeped in sin and living an unholy life. If you’re still dressing immodestly, reading, listening or watching media that is impure, using coarse language or not submitting to your husband among many other things listed in Scripture, then you need to walk away from ministry until you have repented before God and cleaned up your walk.  You’re not on the narrow path and so you have no chance of helping others stay there also.

In addition, you need to be spending daily time (again quantity and quality) studying the Bible and praying. It is  more important you learn to do these things first before you try and teach others how they are to walk with the Lord, otherwise you may well mislead them. Have a look at the life of the prophet Ezra. In Ezra 7, this wonderful man of God is described as follows:

 "a teacher well versed in the Law"

"devoted himself to the study and observance of the law of the Lord and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel."

"a man learned in matters concerning the commands and decrees of the Lord for Israel."

He was a man who studied the Word, lived the Word and taught the Word of God to others.  Challenge yourself as to whether others would describe you with the same terminology.

Haggai speaks on this topic as well when he rebukes the Lord’s people for attempting to do ministry whilst living unholy lives.  It was a big deal to God! Haggai likens it to clean items becoming dirty when dirty objects touch them. Let me explain: if you pick up muddy shoes and hold them against a clean white t-shirt, it is the muddy dirt that is transferred not the cleanliness. The t-shirt becomes dirty, the shoes don’t become clean from the t-shirt. It’s the same with ministry, the LORD says through Haggai.

“”Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled” Haggai 2:14

Don’t try and do ministry if your life is defiled with unholy living and you are not walking in the light. You will defile the ministry and make it unclean no matter how great a sacrifice or offering you are making. As women, we need to be habitually doing all that God has called us to do - living pure lives full of good deeds and shunning the unclean.

I also want women to dress modestly with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes but with good deeds appropriate for women who profess to worship God.” 1 Tim 2:9,10

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.” 1Peter 3: 3-5

4. Neglecting the Truth
There is one ministry as women we are told NOT to do by the LORD. These are gender specific instructions to us as women. The fact that gender specific instructions even existed in relation to ministry never used to be comfortable to me. You see, school and university taught me that “woman can do anything” - yes I had the sticker on my car. But the Word of God says otherwise. That’s the Truth.

For the majority of my life, I ignored the Truth, preferring instead to do some sort of language acrobatics where I proclaimed that God’s Word didn’t really mean what it said - because it was just too preposterous to me!

What is this ministry that we are told not to touch as women you ask?

This modern day Garden of Eden scenario relates to the role of women in church worship services. These are the Lord's instructions:

“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man: she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” 1 Tim 2:12-14

The modern Australian church seems to be ripping this teaching out of Scripture as fast as it can. Everywhere I look, churches are employing women to preach and teach with authority over men. The last minister I asked about this told me he didn’t know why he was doing it - he was just pretty sure he didn’t have to obey it because it was cultural. I am sick to death of hearing how this is cultural. It’s not. Why you ask? I can give you five reasons.

  1. God’s Word is unchanging and Paul says it’s because women were deceived first. That’s not cultural. It’s Truth. We were. We led in the Garden of Eden and look where it got us. We lost the right WAY back then.
  2. Jesus led me to repentance on this issue in a big way. In the past, I believed that it was perfectly fine for women to become pastors and teach men. I aspired to be a woman’s pastor myself - so I started seeking God on this issue. WOW! Did I get an education - to the point that I was weeping and repenting that I had wanted to ignore a clear teaching from the LORD. My whole belief on this issue has changed. I can’t go back. I don’t want to.
  3. Paul, in writing to Timothy clearly says that church leaders (elders and deacons) are to be men, not women, who are capable of preaching the Word faithfully and who are 'the husband of but one wife.'(1 Tim 3:1-12) 
  4. In the Old Testament, no levite women were ever allowed to become priests. Prophetesses - yes! Priests - no! As women we can speak a word from the Lord to others, but we are not to lead churches or teach over men in churches or have authority over men in churches. Our responsibility lies more with teaching other women and children to obey the Word of God. 
  5. Historically, the Christian church has always interpreted these scriptural passages this way. I am old enough to remember when the Anglicans and Uniting church here in Australia started ordaining women as priests. I was a child but even I can remember the big hoo-ha. The shock value was huge. Everyone knew it was wrong. Now, even the traditionally more conservative Australian churches are following this heresy. I see the same thing happening with the current issues of homosexuality and the interfaith support of Islam. Where will those issues be 20 years from now?
"Search me O God, and know my heart; 
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
 and lead me in the way everlasting." 
Psalm 139: 23,24

Healing comes with repentance. For our Lord abounds with love and longs to forgive us and restore us, if only we will ask Him.

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