Posted in theology

This woman spoke volumes by not speaking

By Elizabeth Prata

When I was a young adult my social sphere overlapped with a group of women who liked to party. Individually they were fine. But when they got together they were loud, raucous, lewd, and coarse. Because they got so loud at times they were dubbed The Deci-Belles.

I’m extremely sensitive to noise. I don’t like loud noises. When women get together their voices go up several octaves. Loud, high-pitched laughter or raucous conversation is just plain old hurtful to my ears. When I was with these ladies, I’d often stand on the sidelines and just watch in amazement at the goings on.

Today’s secular society proclaims these kind of women “strong”, “assertive”, or “powerful.” Nor does Christian ministry escape from the cultural twisting of what God wants women to be. We are constantly being told that we have “influence”, “potential”, or that we need “activating” (Are we inert robots with an ‘on’ button?) Christine Caine’s organization, Propel Woman is such an example of this attitude. Her Propel Woman “is a woman who leads—and believes she was made to lead. She gives all that she has. Puts it all on the line. Leaves nothing behind.” Caine’s Propel Woman sounds more like an Amazonian Nomad than a quietly serving Christian wife…

Caine’s website declares that the Christian ‘Propel’ woman is-

BOLD + DARING
CLASSIC + MODERN
IMAGINATIVE + INTELLIGENT
PLAYFUL + PROFESSIONAL
PRESENT + VISIONARY
EFFORTLESS + EVERYDAY
COMPASSIONATE + STRONG
COURAGEOUS + TENDER
TRUSTWORTHY + TENACIOUS
INFORMED + HOPEFUL
PASSIONATE + COMMITTED
LEADER + LEARNER
LOCAL + GLOBAL
AUTHENTIC + ACCOUNTABLE

That’s a lot of things. Who can live up to THAT? I certainly can’t. I don’t focus solely on Caine’s Propel Woman, many ‘Christian Women’s Ministries’ these days have the same attitude about what a woman should be. Do you notice what’s missing from Caine’s list? Some key words. Titus 2:3-5 words, for example-

Reverent
Self-controlled
Pure
Kind
Submissive (to their own husbands)

and…

Working at home.

Hard to do when we’re propelling all over the place.

Women were not “made to lead”. This is in direct scriptural opposition to the reason God made woman. (Genesis 2:18-25). It was to help, not to lead. As Christians in general, man or woman, we are made to serve our Lord by glorifying Him, but women especially serve. We serve our husbands, if we have one. We serve our home. We serve in our church. We don’t lead.

Sadly, Christian women’s ministries these days are perpetually claiming that we do. Worse, they are acting like unless you possess a speaking gift, which they say is the best one of all, you’re nothing. Unequal. Marginalized. Invisible.

Paul spends most of 1 Corinthians 12 chastising the members at Corinth for envying the members who have more prominent gifts. Note the first four words of this verse from 1 Corinthians 12:28,

And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, and various kinds of tongues.

God appoints his people to do various functions in the church, including speaking. GOD does. To disdain what God has appointed is to disdain God.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. (1 Corinthians 12:4-5).

And there are the other two members of the Trinity. The God-head is fully involved in His church, and if He designated men to be the main speakers in the church so be it. Women are to be quiet/silent.

Contempt, hatred, envy, and strife, are very unnatural in Christians. It is like the members of the same body being without concern for one another, or quarrelling with each other. The proud, contentious spirit that prevailed, as to spiritual gifts, was thus condemned. ... The Spirit distributes to every one as he will. We must be content though we are lower and less than others. We must not despise others, if we have greater gifts. How blessed the Christian church, if all the members did their duty! Instead of coveting the highest stations, or the most splendid gifts, let us leave the appointment of his instruments to God, and those in whom he works by his providence. Remember, those will not be approved hereafter who seek the chief places, but those who are most faithful to the trust placed in them, and most diligent in their Master's work. Matthew Henry on 1 Corinthians 12:27-31.

I was a new Christian, saved maybe 5 or 6 years but losing the first 18 months by not being in church and in following Joel Osteen. There was a woman in my Sunday School class. It was a small class, not many members, and only a few women. This one woman was older, and long time married. She appeared each week to church. This in itself was pretty noticeable for a church with a small membership. Regular attendance these days seems like an optional event.

When she appeared, she was always dressed for church. She didn’t dress lavishly, nor casually. You could always tell she put effort into her outfit and that it was a church outfit.

She sat next to her husband, of course, and was perfectly attentive. She looked, listened, took a few notes, occasionally touched her husband’s elbow. She remained silent. She did not speak. Even when the Class teacher invited comment, she waited until her husband spoke, and only spoke if directly asked a question or encouraged to share an insight. It’s not that she was shy. Not at all.

This kind of church woman, or any kind of woman in or out of church, was new to me. As a person having grown up during the feminist 1960s and 70s, having been pressed by my own family to be a feminist, having been a teacher and used to speaking and teaching, her silence was resounding. She wasn’t invisible. Silence did not render her invisible. In fact, she was more visible than if she had brashly offered comment after comment. Her meekness didn’t mean weakness. No, far from being marginalized, her gentle and quiet demeanor broke through to my newly Christian mind and still resounds across my soul all these years later, now that I myself am older.

Ladies, Peter wrote our adornment is not in our tongue, in speaking great things and strutting around a stage. Our adornment is inner, by our spirit, and,

should be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. (1 Peter 3:4).

God does not look with favor on loud, brash, footloose women

She is boisterous and rebellious, Her feet do not remain at home; (Proverbs 7:11)

The word boisterous is hamah in Hebrew and it means to be in a stir, be in a commotion; to be boisterous, be turbulent. This bespeaks an unquiet spirit, a woman characterized by constant unrest or disorder. To be this way, live this way, is exhausting to your family, your church, the people in your sphere whether online or real life. In other words, don’t be a Deci-belle. Speak God’s language. Be quiet, peaceful, gentle, attentive, humble, meek, with an attitude of service. This is precious in the sight of God. I want to be precious in the sight of God. Don’t you?

Posted in theology

Modesty: what are the limits and what does scripture say?

By Elizabeth Prata

Usually the discussions about modesty come in late spring as the temps heat up and we enter the summer season peeling off some layers of clothes. When bathing suit season approaches, the discussions online often turn to the limits of skin being shown, where to obtain modest clothing, and what the Bible actually describes modesty as.

Continue reading “Modesty: what are the limits and what does scripture say?”
Posted in theology

What can women do on stage during church services?

By Elizabeth Prata

A reader asked about women on stage during church services. During the service different churches allow women to do different things. Some of those things might be-

–preaching the sermon
–leading a confessional or a devotional
–reading of scripture
–leading the choir
–singing solos
–singing in the choir with men
–leading congregational prayer
–giving announcements

It is obvious that scripture forbids a woman from preaching to the congregation, to men, or to teach them. No matter how feminists twist the pertinent scriptures, they always say the same thing. Preaching is a NO. (1 Timothy 2:12)

Ten years ago Tim Challies, book reviewer and at that time a pastor/elder in his church, wrote two essays on women reading scripture on stage during services. The first article was strong on the complementarian nature of the functions of men and women in the Sunday Church service. It generated lots of push back (even ten years ago, imagine if it was published these days!). So he wrote a second article explaining more of his thinking.

He believes that the reading of scripture is a teaching function and therefore reserved for men only. Oddly, he/his church allows a woman to lead prayer from time to time. So here we view the see-saw nature of what a woman can or cannot do on stage during a Sunday Service according to scripture and according to various peoples’ interpretation of it.

It’s really up to the conscience of the elders/pastor and his interpretation of the pertinent verses to make decisions in the gray areas where scripture doesn’t speak specifically. I tend to fall into the narrow interpretation category of interpreting that it’s best not having a woman speak anything on stage during the service. I like seeing only men on stage during Sunday services praying, speaking, leading, or teaching because it’s consistent with 1 Timothy and the headship issue.

the women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they wish to inquire about something, they are to ask their own husbands at home; for it is dishonorable for a woman to speak in the church. (1 Corinthians 14:34-35)

Here are Challies’ two articles. I liked his explanation of why he interprets the reading of scripture is a teaching function. That’s why I’m linking to it.

Here are Challies’ two articles

Article #1-

The Public Reading of Scripture

Article #2 responding to push back,

Men, Women & the Public Reading of Scripture

I agree with his articles that the reading of scripture is related to a teaching function (article #2 explains why very well, it’s why I posted it). I agree that preaching is reserved for men according to 1 Timothy 2 and other verses. In that same vein of interpretation, I personally believe that women leading prayer on stage during church service is the also a teaching function because we often pray scripture or pray about scripture, and therefore reserved for men.

I think especially in these days that a woman on stage during the church service speaking to the congregation in any form except to be baptized or share her testimony is a violation of 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and/or is a dangerous precedent presenting a poor ‘visual’ that will inspire others to follow and enlarge. A picture of a woman standing on stage with a Bible in her hand and a microphone in the other speaking to the congregation thru reading scripture or thru prayer puts the camel’s nose under the tent flap. We know that once you give an inch, satan will take a mile. Soon, I believe, that same church will allow women to preach. It’s incremental.

Here is an example of that incremental creep: …in a church I went to long ago a woman led the choir from on stage during service and sang with them. OK. But then she gravitated to standing behind the pulpit and explaining to the congregation the origin of the song they were about to sing. Hmmm. Then, she gravitated to standing behind the pulpit and explaining the theology and scriptures behind the song, and her explanations got even longer. Uh-oh. You see how it gets incrementally more of a violation of scripture to have a woman on stage explaining anything. Her “explanations” turned into mini-sermons over time. Give satan an inch … he takes a mile.

As for women singing in the choir with men or singing solos, I believe that is different. I believe that is an expression of service to God by using her God-given talent for the glory of God. When a woman leads congregational prayer or reads scripture she is being used as a vehicle to deliver God’s words to the people, that is why I believe it to be a violation of 1 Timothy 2. When she sings, she is using man’s words. She is not in authority over men because the highest authority, the Bible, is not being used as a conduit to express that authority. In that way, I believe singing is a service, not an authoritative leading.

Here is a blog post from Grace To You 2013 on the topic

https://www.gty.org/library/Blog/B130904

It’s about headship and submission (And Adam was formed first, then Eve…as the rest of the 1 Timothy 2 verse goes).

In my beliefs in matters of gray area, I tend to fall on the more conservative side. I know how grabby sin can be, and standing on the line with my toes right up to it would make for an easier fall into sin, in my view. Better to stay on more solid ground. But in matters of gray area it’s up to the pastor or elders’ interpretation and conscience, and then our own as our churches live out their ecclesiology.

Posted in theology

Joanna: Who was she?

By Elizabeth Prata

Luke has this intriguing little nugget tucked in to the beginning of chapter 8.

Women Accompanying Jesus

1Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, 2and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.

We only find her mentioned by name one other time in any of the Gospels or even the rest of the New Testament. It’s in Luke 24:10, where the women were the first to find the empty tomb of the resurrection and went back to tell the apostles: Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles,

Continue reading “Joanna: Who was she?”
Posted in theology

The future visiting of us ladies

By Elizabeth Prata

Dorcas Restored to Life

Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. (Acts 9:36-41).

As a God-fearer, Lydia used to meet with other women by the riverside. (Acts 16:13).

Continue reading “The future visiting of us ladies”
Posted in discernment, theology

Ladies, here is how to be precious in His sight

By Elizabeth Prata

Phil Johnson has been a discerning Christian for a long time. He noted in a recent Q&A at the GraceLife Pulpit when responding to a question about women teaching and preaching, that he doesn’t know of a single seminary that has caved to culture in installing female Bible professors that hasn’t compromised in other areas soon after. It’s the same with churches and denominations. If you don’t like the clear teaching of God in the Bible in one area you’ll soon find ways to compromise on others, too, he noted. Here is a definition of an evangelical feminist (an oxymoron if there ever was one)- Continue reading “Ladies, here is how to be precious in His sight”

Posted in bible study, theology

“Zero Fluff Ladies’ Bible Studies”

by Elizabeth Prata

Sharon Lareau at Chapter 3 Ministries published a post with the title “Zero Fluff Bible Studies.” I like that title. Sadly, so much of what passes for Bible Studies these days are either an ego-driven study of the author herself, a treatise on hearing from God, or emotionalism galore and not a proper exposition of the word of God in sight.

Thankfully there are smaller gems among the touted studies we see at the bigwig stores. Here are a few ladies I enjoy and who treat the word of God for what it is, a precious jewel given to us to handle carefully and directly- with zero fluff.

–Sharon Lareau at Chapter 3 Ministries

Introduction to A Zero Fluff Bible Study on the Deity of Christ

This will be a Zero Fluff study. It’s the only way I know how to offer it. This means it will not be like the many studies, books, and teachings that are geared towards women today that are heavy on fluff and light on sound doctrine. We will dig deeply! The focus will be God and His word, not us. We will not be reading ourselves into the story, looking for personal words from God, stroking our egos, or relying on our feelings. I will not be talking about tea or coffee. We are women, but we don’t have to be stirred up by emotionalism or lean on clichés. We have the Holy Spirit, and we can (must) do real Bible study, not shallow book studies with fill in the blank questions. Real Bible study is necessary for our spiritual-wellbeing!

You see now why I enjoy Mrs Lareau! Here is Zero Fluff Deity of Christ lesson 1.

Here are some other ladies I enjoy-

–Betty J. Newman of Newman Farm at Hand to the Plow and Prayerlogue teaches unvarnished. She also has many videos on cooking which are useful and so fun! Here is her blog which has tabs for audio lessons, video lessons, and writings. Here is her Youtube channel.

Naomi’s Table a discipleship table for women also has many Bible studies which I consider solid and zero fluff. Founded by the talented and wise Amy Spreeman, you will find a lot of straight talk and study.

Michelle Lesley Discipleship for Christian Women offers Bible studies on a regular basis. She also has started a podcast with Amy Spreeman called A Word Fitly Spoken. Michelle says that one questions she receives almost more than any other is Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids? Her answer us a surprising no. While the question brings her joy,

That’s the central reason my ministry even exists- I want Christian women to be grounded in the Bible and sound doctrine, and it brings me unbelievable joy and encouragement when I see women seek that out.

It also makes her sad, because

the prevailing line of thought in evangelicalism that has led them to ask the question. Namely, that the people in the pew aren’t capable of studying and understanding the Bible for themselves- they need some Christian celebrity to tell them what it means.

Ladies, I know you may feel inadequate, but don’t give in to those feelings. Try. Pick a book of the Bible, start at the beginning, and read it through to the end, taking as much time as you need. You might just be pleasantly surprised at how well you grasp it. That’s because, if you’re a believer, the Holy Spirit resides within you and will help you to understand the Word He authored.

Michelle always steers women back to the straight Bible, encourages women to read and prayerfully ascertain its meanings for themselves, and offers some outlines and guides with studies at her blog, here.

DebbieLynne Kespert has a blog called The Outspoken Tulip and writes frequently about Bible study. She offers exposition in a plain, straightforward way. No fluff 🙂

It may seem like there is only a glut of squishy, emotional studies out there but there are lots of good solid places online for you to turn for zero fluff studies, commenting in community, and ladies of like mind to study along with. Though a lot of what we see on social media is false, the true Bride is beautiful, sterling, bright, solid, and thriving. Jesus is raising up His church and He will not fail in perfecting it.

good morning studying girl1a

Posted in discernment, theology

Big Dream/The Amazing Collection ministry review

By Elizabeth Prata

 

I received an inquiry asking me to look into the ministry founded in Georgia called Big Dream Ministries which produced a Bible study called The Amazing Collection. Since I’m in Georgia, the inquirer thought I should know about the influence of the ministry, which is large and growing.

I did research it and was surprised at how large the ministry is and how far it has spread. For this essay, I read their web pages, previewed their materials, read the About, read the Beliefs, watched to two of their videos- Genesis and Revelation, and read their Facebook pages. (I believe how a person teaches Genesis and Revelation, two of the foundational books of the entire Bible, reveals their doctrinal stances and hermeneutic).

The ministry was officially founded 18 years ago but has been informally active since 1996. Their About page states,

“Under the direction of Pat Harley, a women’s ministry was initially formed in Roswell, Georgia to provide excellent Bible teaching and encourage women in their roles as women, wives, and mothers. The teaching team of Pat Harley, Eleanor Lewis, Linda Sweeney, and Margie Reuther taught the Bible in a sequential manner, in a study called The Amazing Collection.”

The Amazing Collection’s purpose is to teach the word of God sequentially, going through all the books of the Bible so that women, and the ministry is aimed at women, learn how the entire Bible hangs together. Founder Pat Harley realized that the women in her church were learning lots of bits and pieces of the Word, but not the overarching story. The word of God is the Word of God, and thus worth knowing all of, they say.

The Books of the Bible are an “Amazing Collection”, and people should be amazed by His word. hence, the ministry name. The “Big Dream” of the ministry is that women learn the entire Bible.

Mrs. Harley noticed that though she had participated in many mass-produced studies, some quite popular, she was remembering very little from them. And if she remembered little, she wasn’t translating what she had learned into practical Christian life and pursuit of holiness. She writes:

Why was I unable to recall so little from all of the studying I had done? I began to ask many other serious students of the Word. I would begin by asking what Bible studies they had taken. The response usually included a fairly lengthy list of popular studies. Some of those were considered “light” while others were very detailed and “deep”. More often than not this was preceded by a few words on how wonderful the study was and how very much they enjoyed it. But when I asked the question “What did you learn that you remember?” I was often confronted with a somewhat blank stare. It was then that I realized that I was not alone. Somehow we were learning much but remembering little.

Therefore, I was relieved to read that their foundational motto about the Big Dream and Amazing, isn’t the usual “You go, girl, you have big dreams to fulfill because you’re amazing” kind of motto. Instead, the ministry seems entirely God-focused.

Available materials are the original book-by-book lesson series, and there are additional focused series of topical studies such as the Life of Jesus, The Pentateuch, and a series based on Titus 2 for women which includes “lessons on character, relationships, and the care and management of the home. Practical topics covered include finances, hospitality, meal planning, and parenting.”

The study materials are translated into 4 languages so far, Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Russian. The lesson in Genesis I watched on Youtube displayed Arabic captions. There is a children’s series of materials, too. The ministry has extended into 120 other countries via television, and there is a team on the ground in Brazil.

In the Genesis lesson I watched, the following doctrines were covered:

Evolution explicitly rejected
Literal creation affirmed
Literal word meanings in the original language
An emphasis that scripture interprets scripture
Affirmation we all have a sin nature

Genesis is usually a test case for me, because it’s the beginning and all other doctrines flow from that seminal book. That the lesson didn’t wiggle or waver on the above doctrines is a good sign. So is the ministry’s premise, that God’s word is amazing and women should know all of it, because it is God’s word.

I especially liked the founder’s thought process as she described. She realized that the canned studies she was going through were not giving her an overall biblical worldview, but were only fleetingly giving her a sense of purposeful study, but she was not retaining it. She then went one step further, and did something about it, developing the lessons from which we now have the Amazing Collection. All 66 DVD lessons have recently been completed.

The ladies listed as teachers are all teachers of women or otherwise active in their home churches. I appreciated that they seem grounded at home and in church, rather than gallivanting all over the world solving social justice issues, making sales on book tours, or preaching at conference events, as so many of the women’s ministry teachers do nowadays.

From what I’ve seen and read, the Big Dream/Amazing Collection seems solid. Thank you to the sister who brought it to my attention.

Links:

Big Dream Ministries (includes links to Bible studies, Leader resources, materials Previews, and their online store.)

Big Dream Ministries Facebook

 

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Act your age

old women youths
Our church has a healthy demographic of college kids. The other day I was watching an Instagram video story a young friend posted of a bunch of the youths in high spirits romping around the college campus at midnight, then heading to CVS for sodas, laughing and pushing and giggling.

I smiled, remembering my own hi-jinks and clean fun- road trips and loud laughter and silly fun. Ahhh, youth.

Those kind of memories are satisfying because that is how youths act, college or no. They’re boisterous, they’re lively, they’re carefree, they’re happy.

Kim Shay at The Upward Call blog published a good essay a few days ago about older women not being a trope. (In TV or Movies a trope is a common overused theme or device). In many TV shows, the older women is depicted as silly, or a gossip, or a busybody. Think Hyacinth Bucket (Bou-quet) or the sanctimonious Church Lady of Saturday Night Live by Dana Carvey. Or Mrs Bridgette McCarthy on Father Brown, a church secretary, gossip, and often at odds with and acerbic toward other characters.

It was a look at how older women should act according to Bible verses that command reverence and sober-mindedness.

I’m an older woman now I’m almost 58 years of age. I have completely white hair, overweight, a lumbering stiff walk, and oh my achin’ back. All the things that come with old age, including sagging skin, age spots, and general droopiness.

old women 2
Not me. Yet.

I remember being a teen at a friends’ house listening to the latest music laying upside down, college road trips, my car stuffed with gangly youths, a young adult with my posse playing bar trivia…it was yesterday. Ladies, age creeps up on silent cat feet (with apologies to Carl Sandburg). The boisterous hi-jinks no longer suit. If I were to gadabout at CVS at midnight with pals, they’d lock me up for being crazy. Why? That’s not how older women act.

They line the wall at dances sitting in folding chairs, purses firmly atop lap. They tut-tut at the beauty and litheness of the young ones sailing by. They cook and serve the meals with a knowing nod and quiet hospitable satisfaction. They accept collect calls from grandkids at midnight when the car breaks down on the way home from hi-jinks. They rearrange the potlucks on the sagging table, they form the cleanup swat team afterwards. I should say instead, we. I’m a we now.

I know some of these are a writing trope in themselves, but they are tropes because they are true.

Kim wrote: “My husband once asked me with regard to the women who have spoken at my church’s women’s conferences: “Why is the speaker always young and beautiful instead of old and plain?”

old women
I was noticing that, too. So many of the speakers at conferences now are younger women (in addition to all ages of men). Do younger women have something to say? Yes, but so do older women. And the elder females have been at it longer.

So since we have been at it longer what do we say about how to conduct ourselves? Well, whatever the Bible says about our conduct. Before I get into the nuts and bolts of biblical behavioral standards, I’ll mention that whenever I discuss behavioral standards, particularly applied to false teachers, these comments receive the most negative feedback of all the kinds of comments I make online. People hate to be reminded that the Bible endlessly outlines behavioral standards of any kind. There are general calls for certain kinds of good behavior, there are specific calls for individual demographics, and there is a reminder that we will be judged on how we behaved as well as what we believed.
old women 3.jpg
In one set of verses we read about how we are to act, and the reason for it-

as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, (2 Corinthians 6:4-7a)

Why? “so that no fault may be found with our ministry” (2 Corinthians 6:3b).

But what specifically of elder women? If we are married to a overseer, act in ways that aid him in keeping order in the household. (1 Timothy 3:4). If married to a deacon, the same, (1 Timothy 3:12. Additionally, deacon’s wives must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. (1 Timothy 3:11). I am assuming that wives of pastors and deacons aren’t entirely youthful because the qualifications for pastors are not to be recent converts (1 Timothy 3:6) and to have built up a good reputation- which takes time. (1 Timothy 3:7).

If we are a widow, Paul in 1 Timothy 5 described real widows as: “Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day.” Which reminds me of Anna at the temple in Luke 2.

A widow could be put on the list for church aid if she had behaved in the following way-

A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, 10having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work.

An elder married woman is not to be contentious, as Syntyche and Euodia were. (Philippians 4:2). Titus 2 is the famous verse that outlines how older women are to act-

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.

Reverent in behavior. Self-controlled. Kind. These are not hard to understand and not unreasonable to ask. When I write about behavioral standards other women rush to scream and rant, but really, what is there to rant against? They want to lose control? Be irreverent? Unkind?

Anyway, the Bible outlines behavioral standards for all ages. As I pass through the aging eras and enter the golden gate of elder womenhood, I’ll try to be mindful of how the Bible expects me to behave, so as not to discredit the ministry. Plus, I’ll try not to be a trope!

Gladys_Kravitz

Further Reading

This makes a nice companion piece. Jared Wilson, that whippersnapper at age 42, not only muses on growing old, but provides some helpful tips to grow old gracefully.

Growing Old Gracefully

 

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Why every woman should be a theologian: The Master’s University Table Talk

womenThe advent of the internet has afforded Christian men and women opportunity to learn from many credible teachers and pastors, and to access a variety of different theological resources.

For example, all of Charles Spurgeon’s sermons and writings are online. John Owen is online. Pilgrim’s Progress is online. John MacArthur’s sermons, over 3000 of them, are online. Martyn Lloyd Jones, S. Lewis Johnson, BB Warfield sermons and materials, online, Valley of Vision, online. Blogs, podcasts, courses both free and paid (i.e Mt Zion Chapel Library, free; Ligonier, affordable paid), books, pamphlets, art work, lexicons, concordances, and more are available tot he  believer as resources.

Wow.

In some ways, this period of time has given people, women in particular, opportunity to become deeply involved with the Word, especially if (other than her pastor) she has no males in her life, such as a Godly husband or brothers, father, etc. It is a rich time.

Alternately, the potential for deception among women has never been greater, either. Women are especially vulnerable to false teaching (2 Timothy 3:6, 1 Peter 3:7) and we must guard ourselves by all the means available to us. While many online ministries are solid, many other ministries online promote false teaching. Even church sermons posted on the internet can contain false teaching, as well as the false doctrine perpetuated by ministries that exist online only. So much falsity.

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared… (1 Timothy 4:1-2).

For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4).

While it is true that the Bible prohibits women from operating in some roles (teaching men, pastoring), the Bible encourages all believers, women included, to be theologians. Being a theologian simply means you study God in His revealed self, via the Bible.

To that end, this Table Talk discussion from The Master’s University was helpful. The topic was Why Every Woman Should be A Theologian. Professor Abner Chou facilitated, and several other professors answered questions as the discussion went on.

The opening question was asked:

In light of complementarianism, we often emphasize things in light of what women cannot do; she cannot teach (men) she cannot preach or be a pastor. But let’s turn this around and ask what does the Bible encourage women to do? How can women can be active participants in the church?

One of the Professors answered (I’m sorry, his introduction was not contained in the tape):

Every believer is a theologian. Theology is simply asking and answering, ‘Who is God?’ Every time we ask ‘Who is Jesus’ we are engaging in theology. Believers should be about understanding who God is and how He has revealed Himself. Pursuing who He is is a key aspect that should fill the lives of every believer.

The talk went on from there. Betty Price, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies; Women’s Ministries, noted :

For too many years women’s Bible studies have been too light and fluffy, and not have been a serious study. It’s really hard to find something that gives much depth at all. They’re always quick little surface study guides that have a Bible clip and a few fill-in-the-blank questions in a workbook. Perhaps women have not been encouraged enough. … [Women’s studies] are geared around fellowship and social times, probably more than being a theologian. That’s not all bad, many of the women are stay-at-home moms and need the social times to come together with other adults. But I’d like to see deeper studies.

Here is the link. The talk is about an hour click here.

Mentioned in the Talk:

Book- To Preach or Not To Preach? By Professor William Varner

A study of the religious role of women in the Old Testament through the New Testament periods. Emphasis is placed on both the privilege and the limitations of women’s ministry in the early church.

Other resources:

Todd Friel’s Drive By series. He titled the series Drive By, and deliberately made the lectures short because the Internet was that student-theologians like you and me could listen to them in the car, even if the commute was short. However, these are also perfect for the stay-at-home mom who doesn’t often have a long, lingering hour to delve into a Bible study, but can find 8-15 minutes to listen to a lecture (and follow up in the Word later).

I’ve listened to the lectures in all three of these, they’re good. There are also other Drive By series, such as Drive By Biblical Counseling, etc.

Drive By Theology
35 Systematic Theology Lessons- Join Todd Friel and Dr. Steve Lawson (Dr. Metaphor) as they take you through 35 short lectures on every theology from bibliology to soteriology and every other “-ology” and you will see that the Bible is exactly what it says it is, “profitable for all of life and godliness.” $24.99

Drive By Pneumatology (Study of the Holy Spirit)
Drive By Pneumatology will provide a thorough, thoughtful and Biblical presentation on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. $19.99

Drive By Discernment
Wolves are leaping over the fence. The sheep seem to be oblivious to their wiles. Drive By Discernment is designed to sharpen your skill to help you separate the true from the almost true. $19.99 – $24.99

Ladies, every woman should be a theologian. Priscilla was. Anna was. Mary was. The Bereans were. We can be too. Being a theologian simply means looking into His word to discover more each day who God is.