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Sunday, February 20, 2005

Evangelism Under the Sovereignty of God

(This is not so much a question, although if I am on the wrong track, please be bold to admonish).

I do not believe that you can push someone away from God if He is drawing them.

I base this opening statement on scripture as well as personal experience. Jesus said that no one comes to him except the Father draws him. A sermon is preached, a tragedy occurs, a Bible is read and one person, convicted of sin turns and cries out to God while another is left unaffected.

For years, I struggled with my husband regarding spiritual truths. For years I failed daily regarding winning him over with any semblence of a gentle and quiet spirit. Then, suddenly the things he used to pick apart, he is at peace with. Suddenly those things he hated, he loves. Did I finally convince him? No, I don't think so. Who changed his heart? Only God can change a heart. Only God can bring to life that which is dead.

God saved my husband in spite of me.

I do, however believe that you can shirk your God-given responsibilities. It is very fair to say that my lack of peace during these times was sinful. My defensiveness and arguementative attitude did not grace the Gospel. Shame on me. Did I interfere with God's plans?...slow Him down? I am too human to answer that question. I do know that I repented of these things. They were not right, but I don't think that I thwarted God's plans.

If I have been given a message, and a person to whom to give it and I do it, however lamely, I have done what I am supposed to do. I am absolutely positive that Jonah's message to the Ninevites was less than stirring. He did not want to give the message, and did not desire a positive effect. And yet they repented in droves!

If God is drawing them, they will come at God's call. Just like Esther observed, if I do not speak, He will save His people, and He will use someone else; and woe, woe to me!

If God is not drawing them, no matter how eloquently or poorly I may have spoken, they will not come. If I speak, I have done what I had the responsibility to do. You and I might think that I pushed them away, or that my timing was off, or that my message was too soft or too hard, and I let a fish get away.

More often than not, it is not that my message is too soft or too hard or too early or too late, but that it is not.

God has given us two really good girls. These days the pretty good kids are not in prison, expelled from school or pregnant. I've got really good, trustworthy girls, and I am thankful for them.

As a Christian parent, I have failed in many ways. The most prominent is that I did not instruct when we arose and when we sat down and when we went along the way (you know, all the time) Deuteronomy 11:19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. I was silent when I should have spoken. The holiness and reality of God, I have not made obvious and extolled. There are life lessons, and reasons for ways I think and decisions I've made and things that I stay away from, that I think out on the inside, but I don't speak them out. When my kids were under 10 years old, they heard it a lot more; I lost some really critical years in discouragement-induced silence, and now no one wants to hear it. That's my point of view.

What does God see? HE sees the beginning and the end. He is the beginning and the end.

I can only go from here, crying out to God, my Savior. I can talk about God's ways and laws and decrees and the depth of the wonder of Him when we sit at home or ride in the van or go to bed and when we get up. That's what I can do, with God's grace. What I can't do is change their hearts. Only God can do that.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

HOSPITALITY: Biblical mandate or gift? To the Brethern or to the Stranger?

If God said it, I want to do it, but what did God say?

Am I called to invite well-fed, well-loved brothers to my house after church, and in return go to their house the next week after church? Is that what it's all about? I'm not saying that's not a nice thing. Actually it is. It is a very nice practice; very sweet fellowship.

In the following passage, hospitality is mentioned in the context of hosting traveling preachers or missionaries. It not only praises the brother who has shown hospitality to the traveling preacher, but also points out the wrong done to the church by the one who refuses to welcome them. THis can also be found in Acts when Lydia compels the apostle's company to come to her house. Did she then begin to host a house church?

III John 5-11
5Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. 6They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. 7It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. 8We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth.
9I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. 10So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.
11Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.

In this passage, the context would indicate that the hospitality is in the form of the church meeting in Gaius' house. I think this can also be found in Acts, in fact, I believe that most new testament churches met in homes.

Romans 16:23Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings. Erastus, who is the city's director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings.

In this passage from Matthew, Jesus indicates that hospitality is to be extended to the stranger, not the friend; not the one who can pay you back with reciprocal hospitality or influence because of their attendance or position at your church. This kind of hospitality won't get you a reputation of being hospitable. The act is quite possibly unnoticed and "insignificant" and the stranger is unknown:

Matthew 25:35
35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,

In Romans 12, we are told to "Practice hospitality." This is a simple command, a two word sentence in my translation (the old NIV). The context, however, reveals a depth to the hospitality, that shakes the foundations of my meaning for the word. It specifies bretheren in need, people of low reputation, and enemies.

Romans 12: 9-21
9Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.
Do not be conceited.
17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”
says the Lord. 20On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Another passage (not sure where), I'm sure hositality is listed with other "gifts" given to the redeemed by the Spirit.

I have heard some say that they were raised with their house full of strangers. For these people, hospitality may be a matter of obedience, or simply a continuation of a custom. I simply have never heard hospitality stressed in church.

I was raised in a closed home. We had few fisitors, and visited others seldom. If I am to "do hospitality" it is not a trivial matter for me. I have hurdles to overcome. I have issues to work out.

Bare naked and exposed for what I am: proud and inhospitable...God help me.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Propriety in Prayer

Keeping in mind that my ideas and opinions are but dung, I am trying to reconcile some of God's ideas here; not to justify my own behaviour, but to conform myself to His will.

Look at what it says in I Corinthians 11:3 - 16 (NIV quote included below). Does this mean that our parents' generation was Biblically correct in saying that my brother's long hair was a disgrace? (verse 14) Does this mean that the Minnenites are correct when their women wear head coverings? Does this mean that Pentecostals are correct when their women do not cut their hair? (verses 5-6 & 13-15)

Why do we seem to disregard this scripture?

What, if any connection is there with I Timothy 2:11-15? In light of this passage, would "leading" a corporate prayer in church or in a prayer meeting be considered having authority over a man?

Tim Bayly said:
Addressing the matter of propriety in prayer, the Apostle Paul again emphasizes this order: “For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake” (1 Corinthians 11:8,9, NAS95). Sexuality; Scripture's Clarity & Simplicity

1 Corinthians 11:3-16 (
3Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head–it is just as though her head were shaved. 6If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. 7A man ought not to cover his head,[b] since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head. 11In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. 13Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice–nor do the churches of God.

1 Timothy 2:11-15 (
11A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. 13For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15But women[a] will be saved[b] through childbearing–if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

So, what do you think? What was the Holy Spirit saying to people through the ages in these passages (especially regarding hair). If this is true, should I cancel my nest hair appointment? What about public prayer: should a woman lead a prayer out loud in church?


Getting Comfortable

This is the first time I have ever done a blog. I only just recently commented on someone's blog, and I'm not sure I got that right! A few years ago I posted something on a message board online. I'm not sure what is different about blogging. I am just going to do one now, to get comfortable.

My purpose on this blog will be to glorify Christ. In the process, it is likely that I will be proved wrong about some things. I haven't got everything figured out. More than likely, more questions will be asked than answered. I think questions are the basis of the most interesting discussions.

If you are able to find this blog, feel free to give advice, answer questions, or to join in any discussion. Remember, compared to the excellancy of the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, my opinions are counted as loss, indeed as rubbish.