Tag Archives: the church

December 16; Women Teachers

Philippians 3-4; I Timothy 1-2

I am a teacher. And I am a woman. And years ago I taught a Sunday School class of women… and men. But knowing that, my take on the subject might surprise you.

I recently was part of a conversation with some friends about whether or not women should be allowed to teach men in the church. I honestly can say I see both sides of the argument.

On one hand, Paul said he didn’t permit women to teach. On the other hand he didn’t say God gave him that order. On one hand there were women like Miriam, Deborah, and Anna described as prophets. On the other hand I don’t believe there is an instance when these women, or any other women, took part in the actual teaching of their prophecies during Temple worship. On one hand we see Priscilla teaching Apollos the truth about Jesus. On the other hand, she went with her husband to meet with Apollos privately, her teaching was not public.

On one hand we hear Paul say women should be silent in church. On the other hand, we understand the climate of the day and, in context, could interpret that as saying women shouldn’t interrupt the service by asking questions, rather than forbidding them to be the teacher. But, like one of my friends said, who determines which Scriptures we should blow off because of context, and which Scriptures should be applied today?

Besides, in the same paragraph Paul says he wants women to dress modestly without braided hair or jewelry, and he wants men to pray with their hands raised. Yet I don’t hear those things being talked about nearly as much as the phrase, “women should be silent.”  And it’s all part of what Paul is talking about in I Timothy.

Here’s the thing: I don’t think the issue is a matter of heaven or hell. Even though I spent a year as a teacher of a co-ed Sunday School class, I still prefer a man behind the pulpit. I see in Scripture that God places a hierarchy in the church, and He put men in positions of authority over women. It doesn’t mean women are less than men, or not as important in ministry. Jesus had a lot of women disciples who enhanced His early ministry by their support. I don’t think He’d describe them as less-than or unimportant.

I love teaching. And having the privilege of teaching women is such a blessing to me. If  I never teach another co-ed Sunday School class, I’d be ok with that, but I am not apologetic for teaching a co-ed class in the past. I guess I would say according to God’s hierarchy, men should teach men. But I really don’t think a man will be punished for sitting in a classroom taught by a woman.

Let me say something to men. Some of you need to step up. Sometimes, as was the case that year I taught Sunday School, the number of men willing to take on that responsibility is lacking. If God has given you the gift of teaching, you need to be teaching. Period.

And women, there are so many ways we can use our own gifts of teaching. Are you being obedient?

I pray for teachers of God’s Truth. It is a heavy responsibility. But it is also a glorious privilege. May we all, men and women, be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading not just in who we teach, but what and how we teach it. That’s the issue. I said earlier the “who” of who we teach is not a matter of heaven or hell. But the WHAT we teach is.

May God find us faithful.

 

 

November 28; For The Common Good

I Corinthians11:2-13:13

Not long ago I was part of a discussion concerning Spiritual gifts. Is teaching a Spiritual gift? Is music? What about sewing? Paul helped me understand.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God who works all of them in all men. (12:4-6)

The apostle gives us three categories of Spiritual influence: gifts, service, and working. Paul said we are blessed with all three, given by the same Spirit.

The list of Spiritual gifts is specific: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues, interpretation of tongues, teaching, administration. (12:7-10, 28) These gifts can and should be used in service to God in the church. But they differ from God given abilities like music, carpentry, sewing, athletic, etc.

I believe Paul wants us to see beyond putting a gift or ability in a correct column. Look at verse 7:

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

Do you know what your Spiritual gifts are? There are online inventories that can help you identify them. I think we need to know the areas in which the Spirit has gifted each of us.

Have you identified your God-given abilities? I believe this is as important as knowing what your Spiritual gifts are. Ignoring them or denying them does not bring honor to to the Giver of those talents and abilities.

Then, knowing your gifts and abilities, how are you using them for the common good of your church fellowship? Paul talks about a healthy body with all the working parts. Is your fellowship crippled because you, as a toe, think what God has given you is not really all that important? Is your church trying to operate without an elbow or an ear because you would rather be an eye?

If you are a Christian, God has given you a Spiritual gift. If you are a human, God has given you certain talents and abilities. And Paul and I believe God has given you those things for you to use for the common good, the furthering of the Gospel in and through your church fellowship.

It’s not a matter of “if” you have gifts and abilities. It’s a matter of what you are going to do with your gifts and abilities for Jesus’ sake and for His glory.

November 11; It’s Thrilling

Mark 16:9-20; Acts 1-2

Yesterday’s Scripture had me reaffirming my belief in the resurrected Jesus. Today Peter reminded me of the Old Testament Scriptures, prophecies that were perfectly fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

It must have been thrilling to have been part of those first few days at the beginning of the Church; the dramatic coming of the Holy Spirit, 3,000 people accepting Jesus in one day, then boldly being baptized in a public declaration of their faith in Him.

That act of baptism in itself is amazing considering they were aligning themselves with the very Man the Jews had just crucified a few short weeks before. Talk about thrilling!

But it is also thrilling to be part of God’s Church in 2019. Sometimes we get caught up in the negative, we lament the sin in our world, and wring our hands at the seemingly weakening of the Church.

But God is reminding me today that He is still alive and well and working in the hearts of all men and women in every corner of the world. Jesus still lives! The Holy Spirit is still present! Hearts are still being changed, and eternity is won every day.

Now that’s thrilling!

September 25; Gatekeepers

I Chronicles 9:1-34; Nehemiah 12:1-47

Do you have gatekeepers at your church? Some churches hire uniformed police to be a presence during worship services, a sad commentary on our society, but a sight that may be more common in the future.

But the gatekeepers we read about in I Chronicles weren’t that kind of protectors. They had the enormous responsibility of guarding the things of God. Someone was on duty every hour of every day, making sure the holy things were not compromised.

So who is guarding the things of God in your fellowship? I’m not talking about guarding the gold candlesticks or the stained glass windows. I’m talking about Truth, the Gospel, God’s Holy Word. Who is making sure Satan cannot gain entrance into your fellowship?

Who holds your pastors and teachers accountable for teaching according to Scripture? Who address sin in a scriptural fashion, holding your members accountable for their actions?

All of us should be gatekeepers. We need to be protecting the things of God as earnestly as the gatekeepers we read about in I Chronicles. We possess a priceless treasure – the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s protect it with our lives.

September 24; Keep It Going

Nehemiah 9:38-11:36

The people we read about in the book of Nehemiah weren’t satisfied with building the wall, then putting their feet up and relaxing. What we read in these chapters is their determination to serve the Lord after the job of repairing the wall was complete.

And once again, we see many people chipping in and contributing to the work. They even organized a schedule for people to provide the wood needed for the burnt sacrifices. No detail was too small. They had worked on their individual sections of the wall until it was complete. Now they were going to take on individual responsibilities to keep God’s work going.

Yes, Church. That’s a picture of us, or it should be. Are you doing your part, or are you allowing a faithful few to pull the weight of ministry in your fellowship? You and I are needed to further the Gospel through the body of believers with whom we worship. God has commanded us to go into our communities to tell people about Jesus, and to make disciples. Churches have been doing that work for 2,000 years. Will we keep it going?

August 11; Are We Them?

Ezekiel 5-9

You know what struck me as I read Ezekiel’s vision and heard God talk about the detestable things that were happening, and the way He was going to punish them? God is talking about His people! He’s not pointing out the sins of unbelievers. He’s pointing out the sins of His chosen Israel. And they are doing these detestable things right there in the temple.

It makes me sad when I read a bunch of them in the inner court of the house of the Lord, turned their backs on the temple, and bowed down to the sun in the east. They’d turned their backs on God right in the middle of God’s House.

Dear Church, please take the warning. God sees what goes on behind closed doors. He hears the conversations we’re having about compromising, tolerating, accepting all manner of sin in order to get people inside the walls of His house. He is very aware of the sin in my life – and in yours.

I’m afraid we’ve begun to turn our backs on God right in the middle of His house in 2019. Every time we back off a little on our message, every time we embrace a casual worship, or a feel-good theology, or ignore sin in our own lives, we make a shift toward worshiping the sun in the east.

I hope you’ll read Ezekiel’s vision. I think you’ll hear God’s anger, His rage. “Is it a trivial matter for the house of Judah (or the Church) to do the detestable things they are doing here?… Therefore, I will deal with them in anger, I will not look on them with pity or spare them…” (8:17-18)

I can’t help but believe these chapters are not just about an ancient people. What was true for them is true for us today. God may be talking to and about them, but, dear one, we are them.

August 7; Settled In And Busy

Jeremiah 29:1-32, 49:34-39, 50:1-46; 2 Kings 24:18-20

It’s fairly easy to read Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles in Babylon and see a parallel in present day America. It causes me great concern to see a large portion of Americans working so hard to see this administration fail. Doesn’t anyone get it? If the administration fails, the country suffers. (of course, then the socialist agenda can swoop in and save the day. And some of you already think that’s a good thing. Wake up, America.)

We should be praying for our country like Jeremiah told the Jews to do concerning Babylon. Because if the nation prospers, “you too will prosper.” Jeremiah warns them to turn a deaf ear to the liars. And for heaven’s sake, DON’T encourage them!

I think there is a parallel between Jeremiah’s letter and the modern church, too. Christians aren’t snapped up into heaven the moment we are saved. We live in this fallen world among sinful people, much like God’s people in Babylon. But Jeremiah tells us to settle in. Build houses, plant gardens, enjoy the fruit of you labor. Marry and have lots of babies so they can grow up and have lots of babies. “Do not decrease.”

Wasn’t Jesus’ message similar? He told us in Matthew 10:16 He was sending us out to the wolves, not taking us home. He told us to go, make disciples, be the light in this dark world. He wants the Church, like He wanted the Jews, to grow one person at a time. And again, He warns us about false prophets who claim to be sent from God, but are clearly not when you hold them up to the Truth of Scripture.

We need to be praying for God’s Church in 2019. Because if the Church prospers, we prosper, too. The world prospers when the Church is healthy and growing. That is simply God’s economy.

Today, God is asking me how I am doing. Have I settled in, planted seeds, led people to the Savior? Or have I put my feet up, secure in my salvation and looking forward to getting this life over so I can be in glory? Am I grounded in Scripture, standing firmly on the Truth as God has revealed it? Or have I listened to half-truths and out-right lies without discerning what is True in God’s Word?

I believe God is challenging me to settle in here on this island where I live. Then, get busy living the Christian life and talking about my Savior. I believe God is challenging my prayer life, to pray more for His Church, His children in the world. He has promised me that one day He’ll take me home. But unless it’s today, I’ve got to get busy.