Posted in theology

Those first few minutes after Dad comes home…

By Elizabeth Prata

I grew up in a non-Christian home. My father was a strong atheist. He worked hard, very hard. In his mid-thirties he left the family business and struck out on his own, starting his own manufacturing company. I admired him for that. It’s not easy.

He worked long hours, and being a boss in a new start-up in difficult economic times was frustrating. He often came home angry or grumpy or just wanted to be alone. He was not very much interested in the family anyway, so when he came into the house he went straight to his bedroom and closed the heavy door. Then locked it.

The lock was solid and made a loud CLICK when it caught. I hated that sound. Though too young to understand why, I often cried when I heard it. It was a barricade. Dad was inside the room, and we were excluded. The family seemed fractured at that point. Wasn’t Dad happy to be home? Didn’t he want to see us as much as we wanted to see him?

The excitement of dad returning home as always dampened by the reality of him sequestering himself in his room for long periods. When he came out it was dinner time then bed, and we were away from him for another night and most of a day.

The Bible has much to say about fatherhood, being specific in some areas and in others leaving the practicalities up to us to implement.

Fathers are to be compassionate toward their children, (Psalm 103:13)
They are to be patient and not provoke them (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21)
Fathers are to display integrity (Proverbs 20:7)
Dads are to be leaders of the household (Genesis 18:19; 1 Corinthians 11:3)
Husbands are to love their wives as Jesus loves His church (Ephesians 5:25)
But not to be harsh with them (Colossians 3:19)
And discipline his children (Proverbs 13:24; Proverbs 3:11-12)
He is to teach them (Proverbs 22:6)
Fathers should love their wayward children too (Luke 15:20-24)

In all, He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, (1 Timothy 3:4).

My own father has passed away by now, gone to his eternal resting place, but I often still think about how fathers impact daughters. Well, I’m not the only one who is mulling over this relationship of fathers to his family. On Twitter we read from Michael Foster some practical takes on those precious moments when the father re-enters the home after a long day away at work. [Note: I’m unfamiliar with the entirety of beliefs of the person administering the Twitter account, but I thought this particular tweet series was worthwhile].

I hope you do too. 🙂

——————————————–

Michael Foster @thisisfoster

1) For years, I’d expect my family to leave me alone for a period of “decompression” when I got home from work.

I’ve always worked in highly relational/conversation based jobs. I’d often arrived home in a very overstimulated state and disappear to my office.

2) My wife would want me to deal with a discipline issue with a kid or be interested in what happened in my day. My kids would want to tell me about their day or have thousand requests requiring permission from dad.

But I just wanted space. I was fried. “Give me a min, family!”

3) I slowly came to see that this was a missed opportunity. It really was a failure of leadership. The way I re-entered my home after a long day of work played an important role in the forming of my home’s culture.

A man doesn’t just provide resources. He provides leadership.

4) I decided that I would use “re-entry” as an opportunity to provide leadership with 3 habits:

#1 – I didn’t listen to anything on the way home. I used the drive to pray, organize my thoughts & prepare myself to do some more work. Habits two & three flow from this first one.
5) Habits 2 & 3 start the moment I walked thru the door.

#2 When I get home I asked my wife if there were any discipline or pastoral issues that needed a father’s touch (Heb. 12:11). There are many situations in which a mother needs the father to step in. Jump on those!

6) After dealing with my kids, I move to

#3 Telling my wife something about my day. She’s been with kids all day. Zero adult conversation. Moreover, she is the key support to the mission I’m engaged in. I want her to know what she is accomplishing by being a ‘helpmeet’ to me.

7) I see a lot of complementarian pastors chiding men for not chipping in with the dishes & laundry.

I rarely do either. I’m not above it. She just usually has it knocked out.

Plus, me fathering my kids & encouraging my wife does 10x more for wellbeing of our household.

8) My household doesn’t need a second mother. It needs a father. These habits have helped me get to that work the moment I walk thru the door. Find what works for you. Look for ways to seize all opportunities to lead your home.

————–end—————–

prata place graceful garlands 43 final father

Posted in discernment, theology

Taming the Tongue on Social Media

Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. (James 3:4).

Our boat circa 1995

I was watching my Twitter follow count the last few days. Surprisingly, I was nearing 1,000 followers. That isn’t a lot, but it’s a lot to me. 1,000 is a new and exciting level.

I have two blogs, mirrored on two platforms, (Blogger and WordPress) so that means 4 blogs. The End Time which is this one, with Christian content, and The Quiet Life, about art, crafting, cooking, etc. I’ve got Twitter. I have an Instagram account with a minimal amount of followers. I have two Facebook pages, one called The End Time and the other is the personal one. I have a GoodReads account. I use email. I text to my GroupMe church and sundry church small groups. I have a Pinterest account. I have a Disqus commenting account.

I’ve learned modern terms like ‘reach’ and ‘impressions.’ I have ‘stats’.

Some years ago John MacArthur said that he has never worried about his reach (influence). He focused on the depth and knew the Spirit would take care of the reach.

I was concerned from the very beginning about the depth of my ministry, and I said if I take care of the depth of my ministry, I can leave the breadth of it to God. You know, if it’s something He can use, then He’ll take it where He wants it to go. So I’ve never done anything to take it anywhere.

I took his words to heart and I’ve never done anything overt to push any of my social media. I’ve had The End Time blog for 9 1/2 years and The Quiet Life for 12. I don’t do SEO, I don’t request friends to go look at it, I don’t concentrate on the statistics. I know that the Spirit will put whatever He wants of what I write in front of whom He wants to. I’ll write a little PS to this thought I’ll add at the bottom, though.

I listened to a good sermon this week, twice. We all have a God-given desire to communicate, said Chris Hamilton in his sermon Taming the Tongue on Social Media. We want to be heard.

He said that until recently the opinion making and influence reach was in the hands of a very few people. I remember that time before the internet distinctly. Prior to the internet the Average Joe or Jane remained obscure all his or her life. The only times someone would be guaranteed to get into the paper was when they were born, married, or died. Sometimes your name went into the paper if you went to jail, or were derelict in paying property taxes. That’s it. Opining on the culture wars of the day, publishing books or poetry, presenting your photography portfolio, announcing things on television, wase left to others, a very few others. Cut to today:

The agenda of public thought and discourse is no longer set by a few people in the news networks [and newspapers]. It’s set by just about anyone, such as wannabe celebrities, rap artists, actors, or minor journalists. There has been a rush of human beings to become a source of data, perspective, leadership, and influence with words…~Chris Hamilton

Now, billions of people every day say things on any social media that they want.

Before we’re saved, the desire to be heard is a sinful desire. Even when we have good intentions, our sin-nature means that the desire to communicate is always self-glorifying at some level. We can’t help it. The utter depravity of man is never more on display than when posted on social media. ~Chris Hamilton

The tongue is a restless evil and a poison.” (James 3:8b).

After salvation, the Bible is clear on right speech and wrong speech, giving over many verses to the subject. A major series of verses are in James 3. Here is Chris Hamilton with 12 ways the Bible says we are to use our tongue-

1.   Confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord. Romans 10:9
2.   Teach God’s word (we all teach in some capacity. Deuteronomy 11:19; Heb 13:7
3.   Speak of God. Psalm 71:8
4.   Preach the Gospel. Matthew 28:20, Romans 10:14, 1 Timothy 4:12
5.   Speak truth. Ephesians 4:25
6.   Building each other up. Ephesians 4:29, 1 Timothy 5:14
7.   Admonish one another (warning using the word of God, not our opinion). Colossians 3:16a
8.   Sing. Colossians 3:16b
9.   Expressing thankfulness. Colossians 3:16c, Ephesians 5:20
10. Pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:17
11. Confess sin. James 5:16
12. To make a defense and give a hope that is within us. 1 Peter 3:15

God gave us a tongue and told us how to use it, but we are unable to comply without the saving grace of God.

The tongue is a rudder. This is the rudder on our boat. The boat weighed 23,000 pounds. A small shaft running through the rudder and connected to the steering wheel was all that made the yacht go where we wanted.

the boat out of the water, exposing the rudder

As for participation on the internet and social media: it calls for WISDOM.

James 3 goes from a discussion of the tongue straight into wisdom. Think about why that might be for a minute…

This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. (James 3:15-17)

Is our conduct on social media:
pure,
peaceable,
gentle,
reasonable
full of mercy ?

Or is our conduct on social media

earthly,
unspiritual,
demonic ?

At minimum we should be thinking about that before we press send.

As Mr Hamilton preached, And then there is the case of silence. Not speaking. Saying nothing. No words. Silence can be an expression of worship, humility, wisdom, chastening, etc. God did not give us a tongue in order to remain silent. Obviously. No command in scripture says to not use words. But consider our contribution to the internet and whether, in some cases, a response might not be necessary. Silence can reign supreme sometimes. It’s OK. (Ecclesiastes 3:7; Ecclesiastes 5:2; Revelation 8:1).

Silence also protects our own ignorance. Let us (me) not put our own ignorance on display. (Proverbs 10:19).

We can and should remain silent in response to the foolishness and sin of others. (1 Peter 2:21-22, referring to Christ’s trial, where He remained silent). And a case is made to remain silent in the face of conflict. (Proverbs 26:17).

Mr Hamilton was tough on Christian participation in social media. His stance was that using social media to promote the name of Jesus is good and fine, but if we do that, we are entering territory that is teaching. And the scripture says not many of you should become teachers. He is right. He said to his immediate audience, “some of you should stand down.” He is right again.

I thought about it for a long time, and as appropriate, applied the scriptures and the warning to myself. Should I stand down? How is my tongue? I meditated.

On the other hand, we do have this marvelous opportunity to, within our sphere, encourage, lift up, share verses, learn of others’ burdens so we can shoulder them, and so on. I do feel called to teach and I employ that online. (My foremost priority are the real people in my real church life though).

These are some of the stats of the most popular ‘Christian’ teachers online today. Their evil influence reaches millions.

PS: As for my own reach & influence, I am not concerned with the reach or the stats but I’m highly concerned with my content- that it’s accurate and edifying.

With all the false out there masquerading as truth, how can I NOT promote Jesus, share credible ministries, offer true interpretations of the Bible’s words, with every means possible? The world will always love its own. But as long as I have a tongue in my head or an online connection, here I speak, I can do no other.

With the Lord’s help and Chris Hamilton’s words and admonishments ringing in my ears, I pray that as I do speak, it’s pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy. I face a stricter judgment. And that does give one pause.

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Ladies, no job is too menial and no sphere is too small to make a huge difference

There are a great number of young ladies who are in college, or who have just finished college, or are just beginning work-life, marriage, or children. They’re starting out. As a 56-year-old woman myself, (thirty years older than most of them!), I keep forgetting that they have grown up in the faith under a completely different paradigm than many other women of my age. They have seen years and even decades of forward-living women in the faith (most of them false) who claim that a woman can (only) make a difference in the name of Jesus if she is stamping out the global sex trade … or setting up social justice programs in Africa … or speaking to mega-audiences and selling buckets of popular studies and books … or being a global voice challenging pastors, men, and God for our seeming lack of impactful opportunities and therefore our alleged inability to make a difference. The world presents these female Christian lifestyles as normal. They’re not.

Of course there is nothing wrong with speaking to large audiences of women or writing books or helping the poor in Africa or giving aid to victims of the sex trade. The difficulty is that these attitudes and endeavors have become so endemic that many young women coming up think that unless you’re doing “A Big Thing,” then God isn’t pleased with your measly attempts for His name. Or, that you have no hope of making an impact for His name at all.

First of all, the women I linked to above are considered false teachers. Their stepping out into the world to stridently proclaim and stride and strut is not the Godly way of woman anyway.

God planted you where you are. If you are sensing a call to missions, then definitely follow that call after deliberation with elders and prayer. But for the vast majority of us women, our Christian lives will be solely contained in one geographic and unremarkable location, doing a menial-to-barely interesting job, perhaps marrying, and then perhaps having children. No globetrotting, sex-slave stamping, social justice righting, adoring audiences for us. We live obscure lives with little reach.

But wait. That’s not true. We might not have a great reach, but the Gospel goes out from every direction from every corner of the world, from women just like you and me. That Gospel turned the world upside down, and it still turns hearts upside down – and inside out. It still changes lives. It still makes a tremendous impact. Everywhere, even in Nowheresville.

Here are three examples:

Christian mothers:

“[I]n 1 Timothy 2:15, where Paul says, “[Women] shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and love and holiness with sobriety.” For most women, their greatest impact on society comes from raising godly children. If a women is godly and if God chooses to give her children whom she raises in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, she will have a profound influence on a new generation. Men may have the outward, overt leadership, but women have just as great an influence.”

Where would we be without Mrs Spurgeon, Charles’ mom. Monica, (actual spelling, Monnica) St Augustine’s mom- who prayed for her wayward son for years. Widow Anna Maria Moon raising 7 children on her own, Lottie’s mother. And so on! It’s not complicated. Raise the children.

What if you’re not a mother? Some women aren’t. Some women never become mothers. What then? Can we ladies make a difference for the Lord? Oh, yes!

John Bunyan wrote in his spiritual autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners

But, poor wretch as I was, I was all this while ignorant of Jesus Christ, and going about to establish my own righteousness; and had perished therein, had not God, in mercy, showed me more of my state of nature.

But upon a day, the good providence of God did cast me to Bedford, to work on my calling; and in one of the streets of that town, I came where there were three or four poor women sitting at a door in the sun, and talking about the things of God. Being now willing to hear them discourse, I drew near to hear what they said, for I was now a brisk talker also myself in the matters of religion.

Now I may say, I heard, but I understood not; for they were far above, out of my reach, for their talk was about a new birth, the work of God on their hearts, also how they were convinced of their miserable state by nature; they talked how God had visited their souls with His love in the Lord Jesus, and with what words and promises they had been refreshed, comforted, and supported against the temptations of the devil. Moreover, they reasoned of the suggestions and temptations of Satan in particular; and told to each other by which they had been afflicted, and how they were borne up under his assaults. They also discoursed of their own wretchedness of heart, of their unbelief; and did contemn, slight, and abhor their own righteousness, as filthy and insufficient to do them any good.
And methought they spake as if joy did make them speak; they spake with such pleasantness of Scripture language, and with such appearance of grace in all they said, that they were to me as if they had found a new world…

At this I felt my own heart began to shake, as mistrusting my condition to be naught; for I saw that in all my thoughts about religion and salvation, the new birth did never enter into my mind, neither knew I the comfort of the Word and promise, nor the deceitfulness and treachery of my own wicked heart

Four women having a Godly conversation in a doorway … became part of the conversion story of the man who wrote the most lasting and beloved Christian work in history. Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress has never been out of print. Think of what an influence that book has had on millions of people in the last 400 years! Never underestimate the impact a Gospel-driven public conversation can have. It’s not complicated. Talk about the biblical Jesus with love and passion.

But what if you’re not a wife, not a mother, and you work in a menial, out of the way job? Can you as a woman have an impact there? Yes! In 1-2 Thessalonians by Gregory K. Beale we read-

One well-known theologian recounts how the diligent work of a so-called ordinary office worker led to his conversion. An executive at a London corporation would often pass by an office where several typists worked before the computer era. The executive noted that one particular woman was more diligent in the way she typed, working faster and taking fewer breaks than the others. After a few weeks, he asked a friend at work why she was so unusually industrious. The friend responded, “Oh, that’s Mildred. She is a Christian.” The executive pondered this and after a few more weeks asked the typist herself why she worked in such an indefatigable manner. She responded, “I’m a Christian, and I serve Christ. I work heartily for Him, no merely for my human boss.” The conversation led to the executive investigating the faith further and eventually becoming a Christian. A few years later, he was speaking at his church about his conversation, and someone in the church became a Christian through his address. The person has now became a prominent theologian and enjoys talking about the typist as an illustration of the faith of Christians as it is expressed through “ordinary” work in every walk of life is vital for the witness of the Gospel”

There is nothing too menial. Is what you’re doing more menial than Christ leaving glory as King and living and working as an obscure carpenter for thirty years? Is what you’re doing (or me) more menial than Jesus washing the disciples’ feet? Paul was a brilliant, learned, famous lawyer, but post conversion he was an itinerant tentmaker. Our ordinary, menial, mundane work can be a glorious witness of the Gospel when it’s joyfully and properly expressed through whatever work we have been called to do. It’s not complicated. Work hard and display a strong ethic.

We work for a human boss, but ultimately we labor for Jesus. Therefore as is said in the Traeger and Gilbert book The Gospel at Work, one of the key themes of The Gospel at Work is that “who you work for is more important than what you do.”

Ladies, you can make Jesus’ name known in whatever sphere you dwell and whatever stage of life you’re in. Our work ethic and our Godly conversations will be noticed. In heaven we might be surprised at all the things we said and did that we didn’t know influenced some person who saw the Christ-likeness in us. No sphere is too small and no job is too menial. You can make a difference.

800px-Eugène_Boudin_-_Washerwomen_by_the_River_-_Google_Art_Project
Eugène Boudin – Washerwomen by the River

Laveuses sur la rivière (Washerwomen on the river) is an early Lumière brother film produced in 1897. This film depicts women washing clothing along the riverbank.