Training in Righteousness
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Entries in Blogging (26)

Wednesday
Aug052015

When trials come, what helps the most?

My social media reading has changed over the last six months. While I still follow pretty much the same people as I did a year ago, my attention focuses less and less on the articles out there that deal with issues about the role of women in the church. Don't get me wrong; I think it's an important topic, but it's become one of those "musts" which determine whether a blogger is worth reading or not. And let's face it: writers write to be read, and that includes bloggers. If we didn't want to be read, we wouldn't do it.

I am losing interest in the continual material on the subject of women in the church. I don't begrudge anyone wanting to write about it, but honestly, for women who complain that women don't have enough of a voice, why are they writing about women? Why do some criticize "mommy bloggers" for their focus on womanly arts when they are still writing about women's issues themelves? Yes, the issues may be more complex, but women are still writing about things of concern for women. Where are the women writing about theology proper? Some of the writers I enjoy the most write very eloquently about women, but I seldom see them write about theology proper. All is not lost, though; one of the women bloggers whom I've known the longest does indeed write about such things as do the women I write with at Out of the Ordinary. For them, I am thankful.

In the last seven months, I have been going through a very difficult trial. There have been days when reading social media is the worst thing I could possibly do, and there are days when I have been completely disinterested in blogging at all. Some days, the only reading I have been able to manage is the Psalms. Just prior to the onset of this trial, I purchased the first volume in the long-awaited series on the writing of William Perkins. It has sat untouched for six months now. I do plan to pick it up again soon, becauase things are improving.

What has helped me the most over the past months is not reminders of my womanhood in the church. Articles about how I as a Christian woman can "engage" the culture have not been helpful. Reminders that yes, I need to be an influence in the church have not helped. Being told what I'm supposed to do as a woman have not helped. Having friends who want to discuss how we as women can have more influence and break the shackles of male domination have not helped.

What has helped is continual reminder of who God is. And that is where the Psalms have helped. Over the past seven months, I have read through the entire book of Psalms every month. There are Psalms I have read over and over again (Ps. 4, 5, 6, 18, 34, 46, 91, 145). These have reminded me who God is, and by extension, who I am. What has helped are friends who continue to remind me that God is good, that he is sovereign, that he loves me. The articles and books I have read have reminded me of the same thing.

I have been teaching the bible in some capacity for over 15 years. I have a lot of knowledge stocked up in my head, but I still have so much to learn about who God is and who I am before him. As I stand before God on my own, through the blood of Christ, I continue to learn more about my sin, my pride, and my faith. I have been a Christian for 30 years, and in the past seven months, I have never learned more about these things.

Perhaps those who feast on the issues of the day have already learned what I clearly have not. Perhaps I am living in a state of spiritual arrested development. I still feel like I have a long way to go. Not that anyone was waiting for me to comment on such things, but until I have learned enough about God, you won't see me addressing popular topics. That, of course, means obscurity in blogging, and I'm okay with that. That's another thing I've learned during this trial: what's important and what is not. I have seminary to look forward to next month, and that goal is more important to me now than the goal of keeping this blog going. While the ambitious side of me would love to have people read what I write, I guess I'll be content with writing for my professors.

Some days are still not easy, but I've arrived at the point where I can say, "It was good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes" (Psalm 119:71).

Wednesday
Mar182015

Learning not to care

Since the early part of February, there's been more than the regular amount of stress in my life. This has frustrated me, because tomorrow, I am going to my very first seminary class. I should be excited about that, but the stress of the past number of weeks has occasionally overshadowed that. I've never been great at handling stress, and it's quite humbling to realize at the seasoned age of 50 that I'm much worse than I believed.

In the midst of all of this, I found myself really not caring one bit about blogging, whether it was posting here or reading blogs. Oh, I continue to read my favourite few, the ones who've been with me for a long time. They're friends; both the blogs and the writers. But as for some of the other things going on in my social media feed, I felt a big, fat "I just couldn't care less about this." In some instances, I had the uncharitable thought, "What a silly thing to be going on and on about on social media!" I just didn't care. I found myself thinking one night that I don't care if I ever write another good blog post, or get linked by Famous Blogger, or even get a "Great post" comment on my blog again. I just wanted the stressful situation to be over with. And I want to be fully focused for the next three days as I attend seminary.

Yesterday, I had an appointment with the student I'm tutoring. After our time was done, his mother came into chat, and we had a nice visit, as we always do. She's a lovely lady. I shared with her some of the things going on, and she prayed with me. It was the balm I needed. She gave simple, sincere, loving words of prayer for me, and I left feeling refreshed. I thought, "This is the real stuff. This is the kind of thing I really care about." I had similar feelings this week when friends emailed me to ask how I'm doing, knowing that the past few weeks have been a little unruly. Unsolicited, "Hey, how are you doing?" is also the real stuff.

I'm not saying I don't care about this blog or Out of the Ordinary. But sometimes, when stress comes along, it can make me evaluate just how important some things are. Sometimes, it's okay to not care about blogging for a while. It's even okay to not care about what the latest and greatest bloggers are talking about. Sometimes, it's okay to hunker down and memorize Psalms, read the Puritans, and re-read J.I. Packer's Knowing God.

My prayer for today is that I will benefit greatly from these classes I'm about to take. I continue to pray for the removal of stressful situations. I'm praying one of my favourite Psalms:

Be still and know that I am God
I will be exalted among the nations
I will be exalted in the earth! (Ps. 46:10)

Wednesday
Jan212015

Elsewhere

That is where I am today.

At Out of the Ordinary, I share some thoughts about the need to serve in the local church.

At my Canadian history and literature blog (yes, you may run screaming now if you wish, and I won't be offended), I share a snippet from L.M. Montgomery's journals which reveals a rather embittered pastor's wife.

And now, Psalm 139 beckons to me as I prepare for Sunday school.

Tuesday
Jan202015

Building, dismantling, and the critical spirit

When my children were small, one of the things they loved to do was watch their father build towers with blocks. We had a huge bucket of wooden blocks of various shapes, in bright colours, which their industrious father would use to build intricately designed towers. Upon completing, they were allowed to knock the tower down. They loved it. They could not make those elaborate towers themselves. It was just too difficult at their age, and it was easier to tip the towers over. And of course, watching dad build those towers helped them greatly when they began making their own.

I thought about this recently as articles about women's bible studies and books floated around the interwebs. We are a society which loves to find fault. We love news stories that detail someone's fall from grace; we love to debunk things and prove the masses wrong. We love to hear when someone gets his just desserts. Sometimes, that can have an eroding effect on our morales. There is a place for evaluation, but I think there's an imbalance out there. And for those of us with a tendency toward a critical spirit, we can get sucked into constant critique, dismantling without ever building anything ourselves.

Taking something apart without offering an alternative is much easier than just putting something together. It takes a lot more work to write a bible study than it does to pick one apart. I'm not saying we should not evaluate. Absolutely not! My concern is the imbalance, and honestly, I sometimes find the constant, "Don't read this!" and "Don't read that!" wearying. Yes, by all means, point out areas of concern, but how about on the other nine days out of ten, saying, "Hey, look at this! It's really good material!"

In blogging circles, just as with regular news, bad news attracts attention. I've written blog posts that have "true confession" type of writing, where I admit what a fool I am, how great my sin is, and what a mess I made. There will be far more readers of those kinds of posts than the occasions when I write about a biblical passage I've just taught. Crickets.  I'm not complaining; I'm just pointing out what actually happens.

For me, though, the building part is better. As I said, I already tend toward a critical spirit. When I get in the midst of a multitude of critical voices, I end up along for the ride. I don't want that for myself. I want to be constructive. I don't plan to close my eyes to things that are wrong, and maybe I'll even write about a book I don't like; but it will be the exception and not the rule. It's time to start building more. 

Friday
Dec192014

When they tell you their secrets

My kids are beginning to arrive home for the holidays. I love to see how insanely happy the Beagle is when they come in. She was so happy last night that she sounded like she was being disemboweled. It's like she was saying, "Where have you been? I've been waiting."

We had dinner with all of our kids together last night. Our daughter will be home on Monday, but we were in town where she lives, and we ate together. I love to hear my kids laugh with each other. It's so much  nicer than when they were younger and just filled the dinner table with bickering. It's a blessing to see my adult children be friends with each other. It's not always the case. Of my three brothers, I really only have anything to do with one of them, and that's kind of sad.

Inevitably as they talk together, snippets of things they've done while being on their own come out. My brothers used to do that to my mom, too; share a story of some gross infraction she would rather not have known about. She didn't like it, and I could see that. I sympathized with her, and I sympathize with her more now.

I really don't want to know the things they have done which are displeasing to the Lord. When mothers hear that, the guilt impulse automatically kicks in. When my kids persist on sharing details, I try to keep it light, and say, "Too much information," or "I don't want to know that." Because I don't want to know.

Mothers have one desire for their children; Christian mothers, that is. We desire our children to pursue righteousness. A righteous life is a blessed life. It may not be an easy life, but it's a good life. That's what I want for my kids no matter what their vocations are. We don't want to hear about the things they have done which are unrighteous, no matter how small. Hearing them say how they learned from a mistake is one thing, but hearing the details we can do without.

My mind is drawn back to an incident when they were younger and we were homeschooling. I had just started blogging, and I was typing away one morning and one of the kids was beside me, speaking to me, asking for permission for something. I was quite involved in what I was doing, and lo and behold, later on I discovered I had given consent for something, had I been paying attention, I would not have.

I wonder how many other moments there were like that. When they share some of their secrets, I feel like I wasn't paying enough attention, that I was too wrapped up in my own affairs at the time. There is a temptation when they are getting older and more independent that we don't have to pay as much attention. I wonder if my time should have been better spent. It's all water under the bridge, but every now and then, I feel regret for it.

I'm studying Psalm 56 in prepration for teaching in January, and in this psalm, David is running from Saul. He is surrounded by enemies. They are "trampling" him "all day long," (v.2).  Their thoughts are evil against him (v.5), and they "lurk" (v.6).

I feel sometimes like those things in the past are my enemies. They trample on an otherwise good day; they lurk, only to jump out when I least expect it. I don't have the kind of enemies David had, but things like guilt and regret can be oppressive in their own way. These enemies from within are stubborn to leave. They want to drag me down.

In the second half of verse 9, David says, "This I know, that God is for me."

What a tremendous thought! The God of the Universe is for me. He is for us. This season of Christmas reminds me what lengths God went to in order to show that he is for us. He sent his son who knew the glory of heaven to a humble stable. This is my comfort. No matter how relentlessly my inner enemies want to be against me, God is for me. That is my comfort and assurance.

Young moms who blog, take care. While there is nothing wrong with blogging, keep it in proper perspective. Don't get distracted with looking for the affirmation of the blog world. Be there for your kids. You're the only mother they have. There will be time for blogging later.