Work, Rest, Repeat

By | June 7, 2021

This past Monday, I stayed home and had a real holiday. We grilled burgers, enjoyed God’s creation, and spent time with my parents. The day was relaxed, tasks were undemanding, and deadlines were done and gone. I didn’t brutalize my body with one of the annual holiday routines at my gym, and I slept in the next morning.

The past few months, however, were filled with reading, visits to a library, searching for sources, academic writing, outdoor church workdays, a graduation, and hosting a pastor’s conference. Somewhere in it all God graciously gave me time to spend with my family week by week. Each task was a joy because it was for Christ and His Great Commission in some way.

After my last run to a library near Chicago, I parked my car and pulled up Ecclesiastes 12:12 on my phone: “Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” That verse has been on my mind a bit these past few months. Especially when that weariness was compounded by a 2-week bout with Covid-pneumonia. What an energy drainer. Thankfully, God’s grace and strength helped me to recover and get through these past months. Hopefully, I’ll be able to better fear God and keep His commandments as a result (Ecclesiastes 12:13–14).

My experience is similar to anyone who ministers. You go through a busy season of study and service, soldier through it, drag yourself over the finish line, and collapse on your back at the end. The key is to stay down long enough to recover your oxygen. Work hard, rest, then go back at it.

The disciples had a time like this in Mark 6:31: “Many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” So, Jesus commanded them, “Come away by yourself to a desolate place and rest awhile” (Mark 6:31). They needed the rest—they were soon serving again (Mark 6:32–34).

When it comes to ministry, be diligent, work hard, and realize there are times when you’ll need to lose sleep (cf. Mark 14:32–42; 2 Corinthians 11:27). But realize also that the body can only take so much, and it may need an extra dose of rest after an exceptionally busy time. Like the disciples, sometimes we need to get away, rest awhile, and then get back at it again.

On a personal note, I’ve enjoyed a busy season of study and am grateful to have had some time to recover from the weariness that it brought. And for all the hours it stole from my time to write this and that on this site, I hope to be an encouragement with more posts in the days ahead.

 

All quotes ESV

How to Lead a Bible Study, Part 1

By | May 31, 2021
This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series How to Lead a Bible Study

{This post was originally found on my previous blog, keeponswimmingblog.wordpress.com.}

I recently had the privilege to speak to a group of seminary wives about how to lead a Bible study. In mentioning this to a couple of people, they were interested to see my notes, so I thought I’d share them here in smaller chunks (than my 11-page notes I spoke from 🙂). I really enjoyed thinking through the topic in detail, and I wanted to come at it in as biblical a manner as I could. I am not an amazing teacher who has all the answers, but I have learned quite a bit in the ten or so years I have been teaching, writing Bible studies, and leading discussions. Perhaps something here will be helpful.

The first topic I addressed was whether it is essential to have a Ladies Bible Study (LBS). 

1. There is no mention in Scripture of women teaching in a formal setting.

There is actually a command in Scripture that women should not teach. In the setting of the church, Paul tells Timothy, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet” (1 Tim 2:11-12[1]).

2. There is mention of women teaching Scripture in informal settings.

There is a narrative telling of a woman, Priscilla, and her husband privately taking aside another man to explain “to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26).

There is a command that all older women are to be an example to and teach the younger women in practical matters of marriage, child-rearing, and godly living.

“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 (Titus 2:3-5).

3. From Scripture, I would conclude that a LBS is not an essential part of the local church.

Despite my conclusion in number 3, I then went on to discuss the value of a LBS.

1. It values a woman’s personal growth and understanding of the Bible and biblical values.

Women are made in the image of God and have both the capability (for the most part) and responsibility to study.

“And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.’” (Matt 22:37-38, emphasis added).

Many women are hungry to study God’s Word, and this can be a means of doing so.

2. It allows for freer, more honest discussion than many women would feel comfortable doing in a mixed group.

I took an informal survey on Facebook and this was important to many who commented. It can be really intimidating for women to interact in a mixed group, so a ladies-only group can really be a help in this regard.

3. It can more bluntly deal with women-specific issues.

The last thing I will mention this time is the third point of my talk with the ladies, the cautions/dangers of a LBS.

1. Having an unqualified teacher. If you don’t have a qualified teacher, you shouldn’t have a LBS. (If the church leadership and ladies still really want a study, the pastor or other qualified male teacher could lead a ladies study, and perhaps they could train a qualified woman to teach.)

“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1).

Bad reasons (as the sole qualifier) to choose someone to be a teacher:

    • She is married to a pastor (a pastor’s wife can be a teacher, but her marriage to her husband does not qualify her to be one).
    • She is an extroverted, likable, talkative person.
    • She is highly opinionated and/or smart.

2. Having a study that is not under the oversight of pastoral leadership.

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women,burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 3:1-7, emphasis added).

“For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach” (Titus 1:10-11, emphasis added).

A woman can be easily led astray even by a desire to learn and study, but if she is not truly coming to a knowledge of the truth she can be a gateway to false teaching for her family and her church, leading to false teaching being promoted and division.

One of the most dangerous places for a woman can be a typical Christian bookstore. Publishers recognize that there are women who have a desire to be “always learning,” yet they do not always (often!) give knowledge of the truth.

A LBS teacher must be held accountable to the pastoral leadership, and the content of the material must be under pastoral guidance.

3. Having studies that highlight one aspect of a woman’s role to the neglect of another.

Not every woman is a mom or a wife. Single/widowed/childless women may feel out of place in such a study. These studies are definitely helpful and can be a huge blessing, but content needs to be “advertised” so ladies know what to expect.

Studies that emphasize the “pink” passages in Scripture (e.g., Ruth, Esther, Titus 2, etc.) to the neglect of others give a lopsided understanding of Scripture.

[1] All Scripture references from the ESV.

Next time, I will address what should be true about the teacher and the content of a ladies’ Bible study.

Joshua Bible Study: Week 3 {Conclusion & Complete 3-week Study}

By | March 19, 2021
This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Joshua Bible Study

Here is the final week in the study of Joshua. Three weeks feels like a small amount of time to study an entire book of good size, but my goal is to help others understand the “big picture” of the book. You can always slow down (as I did) and take more time. Much of the book is taken up with descriptions of land boundaries, so I tried to bring out the significance of the record without being bogged down in the (hazy to modern readers) details of the land. If you’d like to study more on that, many commentaries give great detail about the land and the borders. For what it’s worth, I found that looking at a map of Israel’s allotments was the most helpful to me in visualizing where each tribe landed.

I hope this study is a blessing. I was so encouraged to see once again what God had done. I was especially struck by God’s faithfulness to his promises, thus the title I gave my study: Joshua: God’s Unfailing Promises. Initially, I was going to call it something like “Choose Whom You Will Serve” or “Strong & Courageous.” But, the more and more I read and studied, I came to the realization that the book wasn’t about Joshua or Israel or me. It certainly focused on Joshua and Israel and their responses to God, and it clearly exampled a courage to obey the Lord. But the big idea in my head during and after reading was centered on God. He had made promises. He had overwhelmingly done every word of his promise. And he promised to continue to do so. I hope this study will encourage you to trust in the promises of God who was so faithful to his promises to Israel.

Here is this week’s study: Joshua_Week 3

And here is the complete 3-week study: Joshua_God’s Unfailing Promises_Complete 3 Week Study

(I’m always happy to hear feedback or be made aware of typos or unclear questions. Sometimes I reread my own questions not sure of what I meant myself. 🙂 )

Joshua & James: God’s Promises to Israel, God’s Promises to Me

By | March 8, 2021

I’ve been studying the book of Joshua, and the main theme has been God’s faithfulness to his promises. Over and over God said (beginning all the way back in Genesis 12 to Abraham) that he would give the people of Israel land in Canaan. Over and over in Joshua, God promised to fight for Israel and to give them the land. Multiple examples are given in the book, showing exactly how God did fight for Israel and drive out the Canaanites. And then we have all the lists of the land allotments for the tribes—cities upon cities that were now Israel’s.

As I read and thought about God’s faithfulness to his promises, my mind drifted to James 1. My husband has been preaching through James on Sunday mornings, and I realized that there are many promises there too. There are specific promises of God’s giving too. God gives wisdom to those who ask for it. He gives wisdom so that we can understand that the trials we encounter are to be viewed with joy because they work steadfastness and spiritual growth and maturity. That takes faith in God and wisdom from him to view trials that way (verses 2-8).

God also promises to give eternal life to those who persevere under trial. This requires understanding the nature of God correctly. He is not the one who tempts us to sin under trials. Rather, he is the one who is (as my husband pointed out yesterday) “always, only good.” He gives only good things, and he will always give only good things because he never changes (verses 12-17).

We can be assured that all that he gives is good (even when we need a faith-based wisdom to view these trials as good), because he has given us the best “good thing”: our salvation (verse 18).

I think we can have more faith to ask God for wisdom (thus preventing us from being unstable doubters; verses 6-7) when we know more about the God who is faithful to give what he has promised. I can know God is working trials for my steadfastness because my faith is increased in the God whom I’ve seen be faithful to his promises to Israel.

“You know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed” (Joshua 23:14).

Joshua: Week 2 {Also, “How Do I Apply Joshua to My Life?”}

By | February 25, 2021
This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Joshua Bible Study

It has taken me a bit to get through these chapters, but here is the second week of my Joshua study. I’ve learned that studying a narrative is quite a bit different than studying an epistle. In a narrative (especially Hebrew narrative it seems), the stories build and jump from scene to scene (kind of like a TV show or movie) to build suspense and make a point. You really have to read larger chunks of Scripture sometimes to get the full picture. Thus, this week’s study covers 7 chapters. Here is a pdf of this week’s study: Joshua_Week 2.

One of the issues I’ve considered as I’ve read in Joshua (as well as books like Exodus, Leviticus, or Numbers), is what my purpose and goal is as I read. If my goal is to find something to apply to my daily life (for me it would be homeschooling my kids and being a good wife, church member, etc.), it’s kind of disappointing to spend time reading through a list of kings that Moses and Joshua conquered and destroyed. Can’t wait to get to that list of land allotments, right?!

But wait–chapter one had some great verses that I can apply to myself and maybe that can get me through the rest of the book! If I leave out the part about getting land, I can focus on the being strong and courageous part and God’s being with me and giving me success if I meditate on his commands and obey him (Joshua 1:5-9).

I think a better perspective when we read Scripture is to say “What is God, through the author, communicating?” rather than “What can I apply to myself to get through today?” When we read to figure out what God is saying, we have a much clearer understanding of the text. So instead of viewing the promises to Joshua and Israel of God’s presence and blessing on them, contingent on their obedience to the covenant, as they conquer the land, as something we try to apply to ourselves (as nice as that might sound, except for the complete destruction of our enemies, of course), we simply view it as a record of God’s words to Joshua and a divinely inspired history of God’s marvelous acts and working out of his plans. And then we can use those words as a template to view the entire book. When the people wholly obeyed, God gave them success and prosperity (e.g., Jericho, for the most part). When they did not obey, they failed (e.g., Ai the first time).

While we can be assured of God’s presence for ourselves from other passages of Scripture (Hebrews 13:5), and we should be meditating and obeying Scripture (Colossians 3:16-17), this is not the immediate application in Joshua for believers today (although Joshua can to a certain degree illustrate and example some of these truths for us today).

Perhaps a better “application” for me today from Joshua is this: Look at what God has been promising to the people of Israel since his promise to Abram: I will give you this land. Look at the obstacles God has miraculously overcome over and over again to bring them to and out of Egypt, through the wilderness, and finally to this land. Look at how God is true to his word. Look at how God repeatedly shows mercy to his chosen people. Look at how God’s plan of redemption was at work. I have a promise-keeping, powerful, merciful God!

I may not have a personal “promise” to claim for the day, but I do have the God who keeps his promises as my God. When I worry about my children’s behavior or a friend’s health or the state of our country, I can be confident that God is sovereign, he is merciful, and that he has a plan that he will without fail cause to happen. My view of myself, my home, and my world is more rightly aligned because my view and understanding of God is greater.

 

When I Don’t Know How to Pray: Praying Through the Lament Psalms

By | February 15, 2021

In our teen Sunday School class, my husband has been teaching on how to read and understand the various types of Psalms. The past two weeks we have looked at the lament psalms. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the verb lament in three ways: 1) to mourn aloud; 2) to express sorrow, mourning, or regret for, often demonstratively; and 3) to regret strongly.  As a noun, the dictionary defines it as 1) a crying out in grief; 2) a dirge, elegy; and 3) complaint.

We have all experienced grief, regret, or complaints to some extent. We talked in our class about how we sometimes view difficulties or try to encourage someone else in the midst of difficulty. For example, one might try to encourage another to “look on the bright side” of a difficulty. Or one might focus only on how one should view a trial (i.e., as a means of endurance and growth resulting in joy as taught in James 1). While these encouragements can be helpful and should be brought to our or another’s attention  eventually, the psalmists example a different initial approach in their prayers.

My husband explained that laments often contain the following elements:

  • Appeal to God
  • Lament (complaint/mourning)
  • Prayer request
  • Expression of trust in God
  • Vow to praise God

These elements may or may not all be present in every lament psalm, and they may be in any order.

The lament psalms are helpful to see how different people responded to difficult circumstances. They did not try to present their situations in the best possible light; they laid it out in all its painful details. They often requested that the situation be taken away or resolved. They mourned, but they also looked to God. They trusted him in spite of the circumstances, and they vowed to continue to praise him even when not knowing how God would respond to their requests.

Psalm 13 is a perfect example of a lament psalm. Verses 1-2a are examples of the appeal to God. 2b record his specific lament/complaint. Verses 3-4 are his request to God. Verse 5 expresses his trust in God, and verse 6 his vow to continue to praise God. Even if a specific prayer was not answered in the way requested, at the very least they could praise God for his salvation, something never taken away.

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me. (ESV)

We concluded by practicing how we could use these prayers as a template for our own prayers during our own specific difficulties. So, let’s use the example of a severe illness and insert this specific situation into the prayer (in brackets and bold print).

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall [my illness continue]?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
    [take away my illness],

[strengthen my body

and keep those around me healthy]

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

I thought this would be such a helpful exercise for someone really struggling deeply. Sometimes in these moments it is hard to think clearly, and simply following a lament prayer as a template for one’s own prayers would be beneficial. It can also guide how we help others by not minimizing the horribleness of a situation. Instead, we can recognize and verbalize how difficult another’s trial is, then move on to pray with them and help them as the situation requires.

 

Taco Tuesday: It’s What’s for Dinner!

By | February 10, 2021

I thought I would occasionally share not just a good recipe I’ve used successfully, but a whole meal that works together well and tastes great. That way, if you’re looking for a new meal, here’s everything in one spot. I love to cook, but sometimes figuring out meals is painful, especially when you meal plan/shop two weeks at a time like I do. Typically, when I find a good main dish I like, I stick with the same sides every time, varying the vegetables based on what’s on sale/fresh. So here’s the first “It’s What’s for Dinner” post. . .

Once upon a time, I liked Taco Bell well enough. Then, I moved to Rockford, IL and was introduced to real Mexican food, and let me tell you. . . there is no comparison to the real deal. I don’t claim to make legit Mexican food, but these tacos are much closer to the good stuff than those I used to make (and sometimes still do, because they’re kind of in another food “genre.”)

Main dish: Slow cooker pork tacos with corn tortillas

Side dishes: Lime cilantro coleslaw; chips and guacamole/salsa; limes, cilantro, and green onions (optional)

Slow Cooker Pork Tacos

One of my favorite cookbooks is 100 Days of Real Food: Fast & Fabulous  (You can usually find it used for a really good price here!) I use the recipe for her Slow Cooker Shredded Pork and Bean Tacos. I didn’t want to share her recipe here to protect copyright, but I did find a similar recipe on her website: Pork Carnita Tacos. This is very similar to the recipe I follow.

I recommend adding paprika and chili powder to your spices, as well as a jalapeno with the onion to make it taste a little spicier. (I leave out the black beans recommended in the cookbook, because I don’t like the mushy texture of the beans in the slow cooker.) I also do one additional step that I think makes these tacos fabulous! I line a cookie sheet with tin foil and place some or all of the meat on the pan. Then I put it in the oven on broil. You can leave this in as long as you’d like (just watch it!), but everyone in my family loves it when the edges and fat pieces get crispy. I honestly think this is what make this recipe so delicious!

Stovetop option with leftover pork: If you already have pork leftovers from a roast or pulled pork or something, I’ve also frequently followed this incredibly quick and easy recipe for the stovetop: https://www.mrshappyhomemaker.com/pork-tacos/. There is no need to broil this recipe as the meat gets crispy enough in the pan.

Warming corn tortillas: Although you can use either flour or corn tortillas, we like corn for this meal (or you could skip if you’re low-carb). If you heat a nonstick pan, simply place the tortilla in the heated pan and warm on each side for 15-30 seconds (depending on how hot your pan is). Keep an eye on it, or they might burn. Have a tortilla warmer or bowl handy to keep them warm while you heat the others.

Lime and Cilantro Coleslaw

Again, this recipe is from 100 Days of Real Food: Fast & Fabulous. This recipe was also not on her website, but I found two that were similar on other blogs, one of them being dairy free (which is great for my youngest with dairy allergies.) The coleslaw tastes great on the side, but it is amazing right on top of the taco as well.

This recipe is almost exactly like the one I use: https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/cilantro-lime-slaw/. I use sour cream instead of yogurt. When I make it, I mix the lemon juice, honey, and salt ahead of time and take a little of that to mix with a separate amount of coleslaw for my dairy-free daughter. Then I add in the sour cream and mix the rest up for the family. I’ve used both coleslaw mix (easier and faster) and chopped cabbage and carrots (cheaper). Both work great.

If you’re dairy free, this recipe is very similar and would work great as well: https://midwestfoodieblog.com/5-minute-cilantro-lime-slaw/.

Chips & Guacamole/Salsa, Lime, Cilantro, and Green onions

These sides are optional but tasty. We like to put a little bit of guacamole on the tortillas then the coleslaw to hold things together. Then we add the meat topped with freshly squeezed lime juice, cilantro, and green onions.

Guacamole: For every 2 avocados, finely chop about 2-3 Tbsp of onion (or lesser amount of onion powder, to taste) and about 1/2 roma tomato. First, mash the avocado with a fork or potato masher, sprinkle a generous amount of salt and pepper (to taste), along with about 1 tsp of lemon or lime juice per 2 avocados. Mix thoroughly, then gently fold in tomato and onion. You could also add chopped jalapeno and/or cilantro.

Muy Bien!

The Biblical Role of a Pastor’s Wife

By | February 4, 2021

I am currently proof-reading my husband’s master’s thesis on pastoral transitions, and I started to think again about the biblical role of a pastor’s wife. As I read through his paper, I saw a good pattern for establishing a biblical perspective on a debated issue. The role of a pastor’s wife has been debated by many for years. Even in 1914, a pastor had to clarify,

“A minister’s wife has no more call to public duty than any Christian woman in the congregation.”[1]

So, I thought I would use the pattern I saw my husband using in regard to what Scripture has to say about a pastor’s wife. First, I looked for any texts directly addressing them. Next, I looked for examples of pastors’ wives. Since deacons and pastors are the two offices in the church, I briefly looked at what Scripture says about deacons’ wives. I then touched on a pastor’s wife in her roles as a wife, a woman, a member of the church, and a believer.

Pastor’s Wife: Direct texts

A pastor must be the husband of one wife. Thus, a pastor’s wife must not be married to a man who is a pastor and has another wife. 🙂 (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6)

A pastor must manage his own household well. A wife is part of her husband’s household and should thus complement him in managing the home. (1 Timothy 3:4; cf. Titus 2:3-5)

Pastor’s Wife: Biblical examples

The apostle/pastor Peter was married (Mark 1:30). Jesus’ brothers, some of whom were evangelists, had wives whom they brought with them on their ministerial journeys (1 Corinthians 9:5).

No pastor’s wife in Scripture is named, but it is interesting to me that many other women in the church are named by name, none of them being married to a pastor to my knowledge. (Cf. Tabitha/Dorcas—Acts 9:36-42; Mary the mother of John Mark—Acts 12:12; Rhoda—Acts 12:13-15; Eunice & Lois—2 Timothy 1:5; Lydia—Acts 16:11-15, 40; Damaris—Acts 17:34; Priscilla—Acts 18:2-3, 18-20, 24-26; Romans 16:3-5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19; Phoebe—Romans 16:1-2; Mary in Rome—Romans 16:6; Junia (or Junias?)—Romans 16:7; Tryphaena, Tryphosa, & Persis—Romans 16:12; mother of Rufus—Romans 16:13; Julia & sister of Nereus—Romans 16:15; Chloe—1 Corinthians 1:11; Euodia & Syntyche—Philippians 4:1-2; Claudia—2 Timothy 4:21; Apphia—Philemon 1:2; and Nympha—Colossians 4:15.)

Deacon’s Wife: An inference for pastors’ wives

Though the understanding of whom the text is discussing is debated, 1 Timothy 3:11 says that deacons’ wives should be dignified, not slanderers, sober-minded, and faithful in all things. Though not addressing a pastor’s wife, these characteristics should certainly be true of a pastor’s wife as well.

Pastor’s Wife: A helper to her own husband

Any wife is to help her husband in whatever role in life he has. (Genesis 2:18, 20)

Wives are to be subject to their own husbands. (1 Peter 3:1)

The pastor himself has many qualifications in his role as elder/overseer/shepherd of the local church in which he serves (1 Timothy 3:2-7; Titus 1:6-9):

  • above reproach,
  • the husband of one wife,
  • sober-minded,
  • self-controlled,
  • respectable,
  • hospitable,
  • able to teach,
  • not a drunkard,
  • not violent but gentle,
  • not quarrelsome,
  • not a lover of money.
  • He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive,
  • He must not be a recent convert,
  • he must be well thought of by outsiders.
  • his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination,
  • He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain
  • a lover of good,
  • upright,
  • holy,
  • and disciplined.
  • He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

If the wife is to be a helper to her pastor-husband, she has plenty of opportunity to help her husband manage their household, train their children, be hospitable, grow in character, etc. Beyond helping him personally in these ways, any further help that the pastor may request of her in the church is simply his prerogative (as opposed to help that is expected of her by the members of the church).

Pastor’s Wife: A woman in the church

“3 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” (Titus 2:3-5 ESV).

A pastor’s wife may be young or old, and her role in the church will vary depending on her age and stage in life. If she is older, she should be an example of godly character and teach younger women the practicalities of being godly wives and mothers. If she is a younger woman, she is to learn from the older godly women in her church and follow their example and instruction.

Pastor’s Wife: A member of the church

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6 ESV).

 

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12 ESV).

 

“But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:24-27 ESV).

Just like every other member of the church, the pastor’s wife is a member of the body of Christ. Just like them, she has her various gifts given to her by God that enable her to serve and care for the body out of love for the body.

Pastor’s Wife: A believer in Christ

The fundamental identity of a pastor’s wife is that of any believer—she is in Christ (Colossians 3:3-4). Thus, as a believer, she should put to death what is earthly and

“Put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:10-11 ESV).

Here there is neither pastor’s wife nor “just a member of the church,” but Christ is all in all.

She lives a life that is characterized by

“Compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body” (Colossians 3:12-15 ESV).

She does this not because she is a pastor’s wife who should set an example, but because she is in Christ and loves her Savior and the body of Christ.

Conclusion

I am still young-ish (40 next year) and have been a pastor’s wife for only about 9 years. I have never been held up as “first lady” or my husband’s “assistant.” I’ve never been degraded because I can’t play the piano. I’ve enjoyed friendships within my church, some closer than others. I have rarely felt pressure from others inside the church to be anything more than I have been. Perhaps the greatest pressure comes from my imagined expectations that others have of me and my own awareness of my shortcomings and weaknesses. I can be encouraged to know that God has gifted me to serve the church and my family as he sees fit, and I can do that to the best of my ability.

I will close by allowing another to speak for me.

“Since there is no special office of ‘pastor’s wife’, it is easy for a pastor’s wife to inherit a set of (undefined) expectations from her congregation, and because she lacks the self-assurance that comes from having a clear sense of her identity in Christ, she feels duty bound to ‘just accept’ all the roles she thinks others expect her to play. As a result, she labours under a burden too heavy for her to bear, and forfeits the joy of serving Christ in the way He created her to serve. . . . If a pastor’s wife finds her identity in Christ, it will set her free from external pressures to serve Him as He created her to do, that is, in keeping with her God-given spiritual gifts. As she becomes aware and confident of her identity as a woman of God, she is free to use the unique personality and special gifting.”[2]

 

“The ideal, from a biblical perspective, for the pastor’s wife is that of any woman who is specifically influential in her conduct, to function effectively as a woman of God, to support her husband, and be an active member of the local church. Older women would have much to offer the younger pastor’s wife in equipping her with the knowledge of homemaking. The older pastor’s wife would have much to offer younger women within the church as a mentor or advisor. This ministry is valuable and necessary.”[3]

 

For further reading. . .

https://churchanswers.com/blog/ten-unfair-expectations-pastors-wives/

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-pastors-wife-and-her-primary-ministry/

https://thecripplegate.com/an-open-letter-to-elders-wives/

 

 

 

[1] Anna Droke, The Diary of a Minister’s Wife (New York: Eaton and Mains, 1914):61–62, quoted in Leschenne Rebuli and Kevin Gary Smith, “The Role of the Pastor’s Wife: What Does the Bible Teach?”Conspectus 7 (2009): 113.

[2] Rebuli and Smith, “The Role of the Pastor’s Wife,” 110.

[3] Ibid., 114.

Joshua: Week 1

By | February 3, 2021
This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Joshua Bible Study

As I mentioned, I’ve been working on studying Joshua. Some have told me that they would like to participate in the study, so I will be sharing it here. I’m enjoying the study very much so far. I hope you will be encouraged as you read of God’s faithfulness to his promises.

Week 1 covers the first five chapters. I’ve written it in a five-day format.  I will post each new week as it is completed. I hope it is a help to you in your study. As always, I’m happy to hear feedback.

Here is the pdf: Joshua_Week 1

Lessons from the Life of Thomas

By | February 1, 2021

John records three statements by Thomas that give us a window into who he was. Considering these statements in each of their contexts provokes three good reminders for us today.

We should be determined in our service for Jesus.

Leading up to Thomas’s first statement, Jesus wanted to go to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead. In doing so, He would show Himself to be the Resurrection and the Life, a sign that He was the Son of God (John 11:25–26; 12:18; cf. 20:30–31). Bethany was near Jerusalem, and Jesus’ recent time there ended with the Jews trying to arrest and stone Jesus (John 10:31, 39). Thomas heard that Jesus wanted to return and was determined to go with Him but made a dark prediction: “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16). In the larger narrative of John, Jesus indeed would die, and according to history, Thomas was martyred as well. While Thomas was quick to assume the worst, he was nonetheless determined to follow Christ. Our determination should be the same.

We should be devoted in our love for Jesus.

John 13:32–33 records Jesus’ announcement to the disciples that He would be leaving to a place where they could not immediately go. He then spoke of His Father’s house, that His disciples would eventually be with Him there, and that they knew the way to get there (John 14:1–4). Thomas was confused, however: “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” (John 14:5). Jesus patiently clarified that He Himself was the Way to the Father (John 14:6–7). Though not fully understanding, Thomas’s questions showed a devotion and love for Jesus that could not allow him to bear being apart from Jesus. Like Thomas, we should be just as earnest to maintain our devotion and love for Him.

We should be delighted by our belief in Jesus.

After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to the ten disciples in John 20:19–23. Thomas, however, was absent and wanted tangible proof that Jesus was alive (John 20:24–25). Eight days later, Jesus appeared to Thomas and the ten, inviting Thomas to feel His wounds (John 20:26–27). Thomas simply exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). In response, Jesus gently rebuked him and said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). While an appearance of Jesus could aid the faith of those who believe, true belief means having certainty in what is not seen but said in Scripture to be true (Hebrews 11:1, 3, 6). We should faithfully believe in Jesus, His Word, His resurrection, and that He is coming again. This faith in what we cannot see will bring us blessing now and even greater joy to come (1 Peter 1:8–9).