A Screwtape Letter for the Overworked Teacher

After reading A Screwtape Letter for the Unappreciated Mom, which moved me to tears, I decided to write my own Screwtape Letter for teachers. And, of course, I highly recommend reading the original by CS Lewis, a writer whose ability far surpasses mine. Enjoy!

classroom

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My dear Wormwood,

I am pleased with how ardently you have been pursuing the damnation of our patient. However, I warn you against over confidence in your technique. Our work with a teacher is never done, as this profession can yield self-loathing one day and satisfaction the next.

In your last letter, you described a treacherous instance with a student as a “small victory.” You failed to recognize the Enemy’s ability to rally our patient behind a cause. While the teacher is currently perturbed by his discussion with this child, he could, very well, take the poor soul under his wing as a “project.” If this endeavor is successful, it will reaffirm this career as the patient’s “calling.” Whatever happens, do not allow the teacher to be reminded of why he chose this profession. Focus his attention on the prestige of his non-teaching companions, their larger homes, and their nicer cars. Weaponize his drive to provide for his family, causing him to feel guilt over their lack of expensive possessions. Make him question the sensibility of his career path on a daily basis. Remind him that he has other valuable, more profitable, skills going to waste. The trick is to keep the mindset that this work is beneath him while convincing him that he is worthless in the lives of his students.

Let him believe, whole heartedly, that each instance of misbehavior from a child is a direct reflection on his abilities as an educator. Allow this to distance him from the students. Compel him to stay behind his desk as often as possible to avoid excessive interaction. Distract him from the everyday joys of his students by burying him under paperwork, grading, and conferences. Convince him that the only way to find eventual rest is to burn his lamp late into the night. Get him into the habit of sacrificing an abundance of family time for the job. When his wife begs him to come to bed, fill him with resentment toward her. Make him envious of her sleep.

A thoroughly exhausted patient is more likely to succumb to the effects of mental illness. During moments of solitude, allow the teacher to feel waves of anxiety. A cycle of exhaustion induced anxiety and anxiety induced exhaustion is ideal. Wake him up at night with fears of false accusations from his female students, poor test scores, school shooters, and financial distress. In sleep deprivation, even the most irrational fear is easy to instill.

I find your stories from the teacher workroom to be quite riveting. The grumbling nature of his coworkers has worked in our favor from the beginning. I worry, though, that our patient may eventually overhear a success story from a fellow teacher, or worse yet, something comical. Avoid instances where our patient may feel comradery with his workmates. This can result in him feeling comfortable and at ease in the school building. Our goal is to fill him with dread and despair on his drive to school. Isolate him from adults throughout the day. Have him watching the clock and counting the minutes until 3 p.m.

Once the patient makes it home, let him be continually overwhelmed by the problems he encountered during the day. Don’t let him escape from the stress of his job. If a peaceful moment arises, bring an abused or a suicidal student to his mind. Remind him of the bully in his class who’s been relentlessly harassing the other kids. The voices and the needs of his students should haunt him. Gradually, over time, anxiety will evolve into apathy. When this occurs, push numbers to the forefront of his mind so that all he thinks about are his students’ scores, the pitiful amount on his paycheck, and the number of school days left. Use apathy to terminate the teacher’s career in the school whether by choice or administrative action. This, Wormwood, would be an excellent triumph.

Over the years, we have snatched up many teachers simply by instilling restlessness followed by a feeling of entrapment in the career. You are well on your way to success but be mindful of the following: The qualities which made our patient ideal for teaching were created and implanted by the Enemy. Compassion, patience, creativity, and a desire to help others still lurk under the surface, deep within the teacher’s soul. Should these qualities awaken, it would be an embarrassing setback. The Enemy will use even the smallest glimmer of positivity to reassure the patient that he is making a difference in the world and that he is valuable to Kingdom, even in a classroom. A whisper of encouragement could be detrimental. We mustn’t let the deep love the enemy has for our patient become apparent or it will reestablish the teacher’s purpose in life; our work would be undone. I trust that you will diligently oversee these matters and continue to press on toward the demise of the teacher. My colleague, Glubose, has been quite impressed with your progress. We look forward to your next letter as the school year trudges on.

Your affectionate uncle,
Screwtape

To the HG Mommas: A Letter of Gratitude and Respect

There was only a 1% chance that this would happen to you. Maybe you were aware of the condition, as your body began producing massive amounts of progesterone and estrogen for your newly developing child. Maybe the disease was completely off of your radar.

In the midst of excited discussions of “Do you think? Could I be…” and that first positive pregnancy test, your body was beginning to war against itself. In your time of rejoicing, sickness struck. Again and again. Unceasing. Perpetual.

You reached out for help from the masses who simply didn’t understand what was going on. Veteran mothers reassured you that it was normal. They went through it and so can you. So suck it up, already! Pull yourself together! Go to work, take care of the house. You’re fine.

“It’s nothing a little ginger tea won’t fix.”

“Have you tried getting some fresh air, dear?”

You spent night after night sleeping in the bathroom. Quick motions and pungent odors sent you into an abysmal fit of heaving. Nothing sounded appetizing and nothing could quench your thirst. Dehydration began to take its toll and you watched, hopelessly, as the number on the scale decreased each day. Your eyes were dark and sunk in. Your hands shook from weakness and exhaustion.

They told you that your ailments would diminish as your pregnancy progressed. So, you waited… and waited… and waited for that elusive moment when you would suddenly feel like yourself again.

After multiple visits to your doctor (and ER visits, too), you got the diagnosis. Hyperemesis Gravidarum. A condition many told you wasn’t real. A disease people argue is psychological.

And so you began treatments. Routine IV fluids, feeding tubes, Zofran pumps… Of course there were still intermittent excursions to the emergency room, but other than that, you were confined to your home. Your boss couldn’t seem to understand why you needed so much time off from work. He couldn’t grasp the severity of your situation and he wasn’t alone. You quickly found out who your real friends were… the ones who were willing to hold your hair as you hugged the toilet. The ones who held your hand as you cried in pain and frustration.

You lived in agony with a tender stomach, sore throat, and blood shot eyes. And through it all, you loved your growing baby and nurtured her to the very best of your ability. You never regretted the fact that you conceived. The hope of holding your sweet child in your arms was what got you through the day and your light at the end of the tunnel.

12 weeks… still sick.

16 weeks… still sick.

24 weeks… still sick.

You embraced the very likely possibility that you would feel awful through your entire pregnancy. You did not despair. You put on a smile and chose to cherish even the most horrendous experiences because you realized how blessed you were to have the opportunity to carry this child and bring forth life.

And then, you reached full term. Despite the malnutrition, the poking and prodding, the prescription medications, and the anxiety of the last 9 months, you gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby.

But your story doesn’t stop there. You wanted to use your experiences to make a difference. You signed into numerous pregnancy forums and began to educate the world about HG. You offered hope and help to other struggling mothers. You reassured sick women around the globe that it would all be worth it in the end. You shared the joys of motherhood. Your stories were a beacon of hope to many.

…Including me.

I am one of the lucky ones. I’m not on a Zofran pump. I don’t need routine IV fluids. With a low dosage prescription, I am now able to (almost) live my life as normal. I’ve only had one trip to the ER for dehydration. I am 20 weeks pregnant and have seen slow but steady improvements. I was diagnosed with HG around 12 weeks, but I am reluctant to claim it. What I have is really just typical morning sickness, compared to you. But, when I was lonely and depressed, kneeling by the toilet at 3 a.m. you were there for me. You comforted me. You reassured me that everything would be fine.
You are my hero.

I don’t know how you did it. You must be a heck of a lot tougher than me. During what should have been one of the happiest times of your life, you were battling HG with grace and dignity. You took a wretched situation and turned it into something good. And, the amazing thing is that you’re not afraid to do it again. You rock at motherhood and aren’t scared to take on HG for baby #2 or #3. I applaud you and want you to know that I have the utmost respect for you.

You are amazing. Keep sharing your experiences and reminding mothers that they are not alone. You are deeply loved and appreciated. Thank you.

9 Religious Words That Might Not Mean What You Think

About seven years ago, I started reading the Bible for myself… without all of the biased, denominational commentary. This has been quite an adventure for me. I’m constantly amazed at how interpretation and context can completely change my previous understanding of a verse. I enjoy digging into the Greek and Hebrew languages to better understand my Bible’s translation. Some of the things I’ve learned have left me flabbergasted, and wondering why no one had already informed me. One of the most interesting parts of my independent Bible study has been learning the terminology of scripture and various religions. I’d like to share some of my findings with you. I hope you find this enlightening!

Church: From the Greek word “Ekklesia” (transliteration), church literally means “assembly.” When the word “church” is used in the New Testament, it is referring to a unified body of believers, not a building. The Christian church began on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). For many Christians, church is just a place to go once or twice a week to hear a sermon and sing some songs. These Christians fail to recognize their crucial role as a building block in Christ’s church. If you are a follower of Christ, you take his church with you wherever you go as a representative of his assembly. Christ and the apostles made it clear on more than one occasion that there was only to be ONE church: Christ’s church.

Denomination: I grew up in a denominational church. I vilified non-denominational churches. I assumed that since there was no hierarchal, business-like, governing body to oversee their actions, that non-denominational churches just ran wild, chasing every whim and desire. It didn’t even occur to me that denominations might not be Biblical. A denomination is a name or designation given to a like-minded group of people to label them. Denominations are divisions in those who call themselves followers of Christ. Divisions such as this contradict the Biblical design for the church as seen in 1 Corinthians 1:10.

“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgement.” -1 Corinthians 1:10

Reverend: Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the adjective “Reverend” as being worthy of reverence. The word reverence refers to “honor or respect that is felt or shown.” “Reverend” only appears once in the King James Version of the Bible. In Psalm 111:9, it is in the form of an adjective which is used to describe our holy, almighty God. The Hebrew word that it is derived from is “yare.” In other versions of the Bible it is translated as “awesome.” The use of “reverend” as a noun began in the 17th century to refer to ordained ministers. This word was never intended to be used as a title for mere man. In fact, the Bible discourages the use of any titles within the church, including “teacher,” but I digress (Matthew 23:8-10).

He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant forever: holy and reverend is his name. – Psalm 111:9 King James Version (KJV)

Baptism: The word “baptism” is a transliteration. This means that when the Bible was first translated by the Catholic Church, instead of providing us with a literal translation for the Greek word “baptizo,” the translator chose to rearrange the letters to create a new word. Hence, the origin of the English word, “baptism.” Why didn’t the Catholic Church just give us the literal translation? You’re smart enough to figure that out, but I’ll give you a hint. “Baptizo,” literally translated, means “immersion.”

Yoke: A yoke is a device used to fasten two animals together by the neck. This method of coupling the animals was meant to make it easier for them to share the load of pulling a plow or other heavy load. The pair of animals, once united, could accomplish a task as one team. While in some Biblical contexts, the word yoke implies bondage and slavery, we see it used in the New Testament as a reference to humility and servitude.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-29

There are many various, yet similar, interpretations of Matthew 11:28-29. In this verse, Jesus is offering a better way of life, one which requires servitude to God through a union with Christ. What a beautiful and comforting passage: Take an easy yoke, a light burden, and in the end, find rest for your weary soul.

Liturgical: Liturgy, as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is a fixed set of ceremonies, words, etc., that are used during public worship in a religion. Therefore, groups which worship in this ceremonial, repetitious, and often traditional, way are considered to be liturgical churches. Catholic, Lutheran, and Episcopal churches are prone to strict adherence to liturgy. These church services require high participation from the congregation and typically include chanted prayers, responsive scripture readings, and copious amounts of standing up and sitting down and standing up and sitting down and standing up… you get the idea. The Bible neither condemns, nor condones liturgy, as this word never appears in scripture. However, there is danger in the redundancy of liturgical worship, as church goers may find themselves just going through the motions and missing out on a true worship experience. Many individuals I’ve spoken with who have attended liturgical churches their whole lives feel lost in non-liturgical churches. They find themselves unable to embrace the lesson and fellowship without the superficial format and repetition. On the other hand, liturgical churches can be incredibly frustrating for those who aren’t familiar with the routine. My husband, when visiting with a liturgical church with me for the first time, said he found it hard to keep up with all of the bulletin and hymnal page turning and felt exhausted by the end of the service!

“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.” – Matthew 6:7

Legalism: Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines legalism as a strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code. This term is never used in the Bible. Many “Christian” denominations and groups label those who adhere to the Bible as “legalistic” and attempt to ostracize and slander Christians who are simply trying to obey God. Once, while discussing baptism with some church-goers, I brought up Mark 16:16, which states that Christians must believe and be baptized to be saved. No sooner had I finished reading the verse, then someone retorted, “Well, that’s a little legalistic, don’t you think?” It caught me off guard. I had never been accused of legalism before and I didn’t quite understand the concept. In my head, I thought, “Um… I’m sorry… Are these not the words of God?” If there is a moral code or spiritual guideline worth taking literally, it’s that which is taught by the Bible. If there are laws worth conforming to, they are the guidelines for New Testament Christians. In John 14:15, Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commands.” I’m going to read my Bible and follow its guidelines as closely as possible. This is not to say that one can work his way into heaven, for it is by grace through faith that we are saved. But, when it comes to the guidelines for my salvation, I would certainly rather be too “excessive” or “strict” than too slack. I suppose I’d rather be called a legalist than lukewarm (Revelations 3:16).

Saint: How often have you heard someone say, “Oh, I’m definitely no saint!” Was it a Christian who said it? According to the Bible, ALL Christians are saints. When Paul writes to the Church in Corinth, he addresses those followers of Christ as saints.

“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 1:2-3

Paul opens his letter to the Ephesians in the same way: “To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus…” The books of Philippians, Colossians, and Romans also begin like this.

In all of these instances, followers of Christ (who have also sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, by the way) are being referred to as saints. It’s quite clear from the context that these individuals are still living, and therefore are not in heaven. If you have obeyed the gospel of Christ Jesus, you are a saint. And, no… You don’t have to have the Pope’s approval.

Peter (rock): Most Christians have heard that the Apostle Peter’s name can be literally translated into “rock.” Because of this, Matthew 16:18 is commonly misunderstood.

“Now I say to you that you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church.” – The words of Jesus

Ah, Jesus… You’re so punny! Because of this translation, I went much of my life believing that Peter founded the Christian church because, clearly, Jesus chose to build his church upon Peter. This, of course, is why the Catholic Church believes that Peter was the first pope. It wasn’t until I looked into the Greek language that I was able to understand what the church is really built upon.

Peter, or Petros (transliteration) in Greek, refers to a small, shifting, insecure, stone. When Jesus says “on this rock I will build my church,” he uses the Greek word petras (transliteration). Petras describes a huge, immovable rock, cliff, or boulder. Would you rather your church be built on petros or petras?

So if Jesus didn’t build the church on Peter, who was a man… a fallible man… then on what/who was his church constructed? To understand this, we must look at the context.

Prior to all of this rock discussion, Jesus had asked Peter, “Who do you say I am?” This is when Peter confessed, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” In context, we see that Christ planned to build his church on the confession that Jesus is the Son of God.


 

I realize that for many who diligently study their Bible, these terms may not be anything new. But, in my recent experiences of discussing scripture with individuals from various denominations, I’ve found that there is much confusion due to the re-purposing of certain words to fit a religious group’s needs. This is a dangerous practice, and one which caused me frustration in the past. My hope is that someone will be enlightened by this article and come to understand the scriptures even better through continued study.

“Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.” – Jude 1:24

*All Greek and Hebrew translations from Strong’s Concordance.*


 

I know it’s wrong but… *Insert selfish excuse here* …

“I know it’s wrong but…”

I cringe when a conversation starts this way. I hear this type of reasoning quite a bit as a teacher. I guess this attitude can be expected from teenagers, but it really irks me when it’s coming from the mouth of an authority figure, Christian, close friend, or family member. In many cases, I’ve found myself at a loss for words. I mean, what can I say to someone who is making a conscious decision to do something he/she knows is wrong?

I’ve been guilty of this too, of course. Haven’t we all? Our human nature is so flawed. We’re experts at bargaining with God and tempting fate. It bothers us when the world can see our sins, but it doesn’t bother us enough to turn away from the sins. Instead, we reason that we deserve an opportunity to be bad. “Cut us some slack, God! It’s tough down here!” To nullify our consciences, we make excuses for our behavior. And after all, “You can’t blame me! It’s what anyone in my situation would do.”

If a reasonable person points out the flaw in this logic, the guilty person is likely to exclaim, “Don’t judge me!”

I’m just going to come out and say it. The “don’t judge me” response is a cop out. That’s the guilty party’s way of saying “This conversation is making me uncomfortable and I’d like to end it, now.”

Christians should be recognizable by the good fruit they produce. This concept appears many times throughout the New Testament. (Galatians 5:22-23, Luke 6:43, John 15:8) Likewise, Christians will recognize non-Christians by their lack of spiritual fruit. (Galatians 5:19-21, Matthew 17:16)

But, shouldn’t we just mind our own business at let our loved ones do what they want to do? Absolutely not! In fact the Bible indicates that complacency is the equivalent of taking part in the sin, ourselves. According to Galatians 6:1, Christians are to gently and humbly correct those who have fallen into sin’s trap. It should be quite obvious that, in order to correct a brother or sister, we have to make a spiritual judgment call.

I am so far from perfect; I really don’t enjoy correction and discipline. However, I would much rather be judged and corrected by my fellow Christians than to live my life in blissful ignorance until the day of God’s judgment.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. – Hebrews 12:11

Let’s be honest, it feels terrible when someone points out your sins, but it is a necessary part of the Christian lifestyle. This doesn’t mean we should run around pointing the finger at everyone and nitpicking every action. Don’t forget about Matthew 7:3-5! We should recognize that all have fallen short from the glory of God, and therefore, judge righteously (John 7:24) with a loving and gentle spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

Let’s proceed on this topic, acknowledging that the “don’t judge me” response should never be used, or accepted, as a trump card in these types of scenarios.

Here’s what it boils down to. When we say, “I know it’s wrong, but…” we are either being lazy or cowardly. Neither of these are characteristics of admirable, upstanding individuals… let alone followers of Christ.
Let’s evaluate the root of the problem. Are you lazy or are you a coward?

*click image to view*
lazy or cowardly large

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. – James 4:17

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. – Romans 12:11

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. – 2 Timothy 1:7

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. – Matthew 10:28

This is your challenge: Confront those hard issues. If there are aspects of your life or things in your church that you know are not pleasing to God, it is your responsibility as a follower of Christ to do everything in your power to fix them. You have no excuse. Good luck.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. – Colossians 3:23-24

The Driving Force Behind a Virtuous Woman

The piece I was originally writing this afternoon was titled “Worst Wife Award.”

This article was, originally, a pity party about my inadequacies and shortcomings as a Christian wife. Lately, I’ve been overly sensitive to the plethora of Proverbs 31 “motivational” merchandise, articles, ladies groups, Bible studies, etc. which have become quite the trend in our Christian society.

Brandon and View More: http://rachaelhouser.pass.us/kaitlyn-brandonI are well into our second year of marriage; I suppose we’d still consider ourselves newlyweds. But, let’s face it… My zeal to surpass my husband’s expectations in all facets of our marriage began to diminish around the time we started leaving the bathroom door open and throwing laundry on the floor.

It’s not that the passion is dying. On the contrary, I love Brandon more, now, than I did on our wedding day. I suspect (and pray) that the pattern will continue.

I think the real issue stems from my perfection complex when it comes to our relationship. Prior to our wedding, I spent hours upon hours poring over Proverbs 31, studying Old Testament women, and reading every book and blog on marriage that I could find. I observed older Christian couples; I looked for common qualities among Christian wives. And while there is nothing innately wrong with any of those things, all the while I was thinking, “I’m going to learn to be the very best, Godly wife out there.”

Vanity of vanities.

As if filling my head with all of that information would make the application of it a walk in the park. Fresh out of the gate, I was strong and determined. I worked hard to ensure that my husband was happy and comfortable at all times. I went out of my way to do extra nice things and surprise him with my thoughtfulness. As the months flew by, I grew tired and found myself sacrificing my personal time and still having to choose between a tidy apartment and quality time with Brandon. I felt guilty every time I got behind on laundry or didn’t make dinner. I began to resent the Biblical standards which ardently drove me in the beginning. I started to resent myself.

There, looming over me was the unattainable image of the virtuous wife in Proverbs 31. “Who am I kidding?” I thought. “I can never be like her. Why try?”

It didn’t take Brandon long to hone in on my negativity regarding anything Proverbs 31 related. Today, as I began angrily typing my thoughts on the topic, he asked what I was writing. I reluctantly, yet vehemently, opened up and exposed my jealousy, embarrassment, and self-loathing.

“As Christians, we all should strive for perfection,” Brandon reminded me. “We imitate Christ, who actually was perfect.” This high standard doesn’t just apply to Christian wives and it isn’t just in reference to marriages. We are to live our whole lives in such a way as to mimic Christ. This lifestyle is all about self-sacrifice and loving one another deeply. Brandon reassured me that I was not alone in feeling discouraged by the daunting expectations laid out for me. We aren’t perfect, after all, which is why we need a savior.

He, then, opened up Proverbs 31 and read it aloud.

“Her husband can trust her and she will greatly enrich his life.” He paused, looked up at me and said, “Check!”

“She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life” He smiled. “Check!”

“She is energetic and strong. . . Check!”

He laughed when he read “Her lamp burns late into the night.” In a scolding tone he said, “definitely a check!”

He went through the entire passage like that until I felt like my heart could explode and I was fighting tears. When he was finished, he sighed and grinned, “It’s obvious to me now that you can’t read.”

I laughed at how overwhelmingly I love the man. And it was then that the root of the problem was exposed.

Had I been holding myself to the standard of the Proverbs 31 women out of love for my Lord and for my husband? Or, had I been striving for excellence because of society’s expectations and so that I could boast in my accomplishments? Had I been comparing myself to Christ or our culture?

I thought that if I met the all of the criteria to be a virtuous woman, then my husband would know (along with everyone else) how much I love him. But when I attempt to obtain these qualities out of duty and obligation, it leads to exhaustion and despair. Love, however, will produce these characteristics on its own (1 Corinthians 13).

Brandon often jokes that marriage is a competition: “A competition to see who can out love the other.” When I love the Lord first, and my husband second, being a virtuous wife isn’t a chore or an obligation. It’s simply a lifestyle of love.

So, now my personal goal is to rewire my thinking on this subject and unclutter my emotional compartment by pitching the self-loathing and feelings of inadequacy as a wife. Who am I trying to impress, ultimately? The wives who claim to have it all figured out? The older Christian couples I admire? I should simply strive to be a good servant of Christ and good wife to Brandon. Love should be the driving force as I strive for virtuosity.

Life is messy. Marriage is messy. Sometimes the house is going to be messy. I don’t believe that perfect wives exist. I do believe, however, that God calls imperfect people to greatness and uses them in ways, unimagined. Many very imperfect women throughout history were also virtuous, industrious, and Godly wives. The same goes for husbands. And who ever said that a virtuous wife won’t occasionally fall behind on chores or say, “Honey, we’re eating out tonight!”

Being a virtuous wife is definitely something worth striving toward, but it doesn’t ensure a successful marriage as some seem to think.

If a marriage is firmly rooted in the foundation of Christ Jesus, it will be like a tree near a stream (Psalms 1:3) or a house on a rock (Matthew 7:24). It will stand firm and endure . . . whether or not the laundry is done, the house is clean, and dinner is prepared.

It’s my prayer that I, as well as other Christian wives who feel this way, can reach a point where we are not burdened by our culture’s idea of a good wife. I pray that we will do away with the guilt and self-loathing; these feelings do nothing to benefit our marriages. Instead, let us fix our eyes on Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2) who taught us how to live in love and peace with one another, bearing fruits of the spirit. And may we all be God fearing women, for “a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised” (Proverbs 31:30).

What Every Christian Should Hear

“Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ.” – Colossians 2:8

I have a love/hate relationship with social media. It’s wonderful for staying in touch with distant friends and family. It’s great for connecting with colleagues and keeping up with what’s going on in our culture.
What greatly concerns me is how blatant lies spread like wildfire through every facet of our technological lives without a second thought. As my dad has said, “Social media gives everyone a podium to shout from.” And people are shouting… loudly… but not all of them have honest things to say. Not all of their words are edifying. Many mean to deceive you and weaken you.

I guess I’m taking this opportunity to shout back from my humble podium. I am an educator at heart and by profession; it pains me to see people being led astray by preachers, teachers, and elders who ought to know better. Yet, this is what I see on social media each and every day.

This morning, I made the mistake of getting on Facebook before work. I found the following sermon shared on my news feed multiple times titled “What Every Christian Should Hear.” I was greatly disturbed by it. Despite trying to put it out of my mind, it kept baffling me throughout the day.

"sermon" dialog

Notice the 394,430 people who “like” this message and the 440,518 individuals who’ve shared it with others.
There are 5 blaring mistruths in this message that I am going to address. Some of these points may make you feel uncomfortable, but that’s okay. The truth tends to be offensive to sinners (that’s all of us, fyi) at first. As always don’t trust everything you read online. So please, open your Bible and see what it has to say for yourself. Don’t just take my word for it.

1.) Define “A few.”

This pastor begins his sermon by saying that “a few passages in the Bible” claim that homosexuality is a sin. It’s obvious that in using the word “few” he is trying to convey that homosexuality is not that big of an issue. In reality there are upwards of ten verses scattered through the Old Testament and New Testament which specifically discuss homosexuality. That number does not include all of the other verses which reference sexual impurity, in which homosexuality is implied.

The go-to verses of many pseudo-theologians trying to condemn homosexuality come from Leviticus.

“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” – Leviticus 18:22
“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.” – Leviticus 20:13

Unfortunately, what many people who quote Leviticus fail to recognize is that Leviticus contains Old Law and the consequences for breaking the laws. Leviticus instructed people on how to prepare their food, which sacrifices to make for committing certain crimes, how to treat various ailments and illnesses, etc. Leviticus served as a guidebook for God’s people prior to Christ’s sacrifice. Christ’s death on the cross was the fulfillment of the law, a one- time sacrifice to atone for the sins of believers once and for all. You see, sin prevented God’s chosen from coming before him in worship. A blood sacrifice had to be made to atone for wrong doings. In crucifixion, Christ became the atoning sacrifice and the Old Law “passed away.” Therefore, these rules and consequences no longer directly apply to us.

If the argument for homosexuality being a sin ONLY came from the Old Testament, defenders of this lifestyle might have a leg to stand on, but as you can see, this form of sexual relationship is also discussed at length in the New Testament. I’ve cited some verses below and encourage you to check them out.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Romans 1:26-28, 1 Timothy 1:10, Jude 1:7, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, 2 Peter 2:6

2.) “The Bible doesn’t say anything about the consequences of a homosexual lifestyle.”

The Bible ABSOLUTELY does mention the consequences of a homosexual lifestyle. I’m not sure how the pastor could even make a statement to the contrary. This person has obviously not read the Bible, or is deliberately twisting its message to fit his needs.

Since the pastor used the Old Law consequence for divorce (stoning) in his sermon, let’s find the Old Law consequence(s) for sexual immorality.
Leviticus chapter 18 lays out restrictions for sexual activities with family members, animals, and individuals of the same sex. Chapter 18 concludes with a warning for individuals who commit these sins.

“Whoever commits any of these detestable sins will be cut off from the community of Israel.” – Leviticus 18:29

If that isn’t a consequence, I don’t know what is. But if you’re still not convinced, look in chapter 20, which discusses punishments for disobedience.

“If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense.” – Leviticus 20:12

Now, as I said in the first point… The old law has passed away. In no way am I suggesting that we stone people who have engaged in homosexual activity. So, let’s move on to the New Testament to see what it has to say.

“…And don’t forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God’s judgment.” – Jude 1:7
“You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. . .” – Ephesians 5:5

3.) “We overlook the consequences because…”

What a conundrum this next statement is: “We choose to overlook the consequences of divorce because time has proven that they are inhumane and cruel.”

First of all, God is not bound by time. The idea that God’s word loses effectiveness and reason with age is one of satanic deception. Secondly, God’s law is perfect and God is a righteous judge. Therefore, his consequences are sound and good. If this man truly believes, however, that the consequences of the old laws still apply after Christ’s sacrifice, he has no place to call himself a Christian. How can a person follow Christ when he doesn’t believe that Christ’s death and resurrection demolished the burden of the old law and covered us in God’s grace? This statement is so ridiculous it almost brings me to tears that people are buying into it.

After Christ’s death, the earthly consequences of the law were no longer enforced by followers of Christ. Even during Christ’s life, we see that Jesus did not require that some individuals be punished for their crimes (Ex. John 8:4-11). This change came about because Christ’s followers were spreading the message of “Repent for the forgiveness of your sins” around the land. They earnestly desired for all to believe in Christ and obey His teachings because they loved their neighbors. . . They didn’t want their neighbors to be put to death, which brings me to my next point.

4.) Is “Love Thy Neighbor” really it?

By the time you are done reading this, you will be (if nothing else) more educated on the current status of the Old Law.

After Christ’s death, we were no longer under the burdens and penalties of the old laws. Followers of Christ were given a new commandment, one of love. That does not mean that obedience flew out the window at that point. On the contrary, those who love Jesus strive to be more like him and serve Him in humble submission.

“But now, God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.” -Romans 3:21-22

“Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.” – Romans 6:15-18

“Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. –Hebrews 10:26-28

In this pastor’s sermon, he stated, “The Bible states to love thy neighbor. That’s it. There are no other rules or restrictions to that passage.”

This is another lie, and a perfect example for why the Bible must be studied in context.

In Mark 12:28-31, a teacher of religious law presents Jesus with a question.
“Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.”

So, loving God is in that passage along with loving your neighbor.
How do we love God, then?

“Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.” – 1 John 5: 3

And, in the words of Jesus himself (who is God by the way), “If you love me, obey my commandments.” – John 14:15

As mentioned above, in the book of Romans, Paul discusses the fact that God’s grace has set us free from the old law. And how we should conduct ourselves in this new found freedom?

We should put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within us, having nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires (Colossians 3:5).

I hope by now it is quite obvious that you cannot love God without loving your neighbor, but you also cannot love God without obeying Him in the other areas of your life as well. As we established earlier, homosexuality is considered to be a sin in the New Testament, and therefore, one should not take part in such a lifestyle.

5.) So… supporting equality = love?

The fifth, and possibly the most detrimental, lie this pastor wants you to believe is that you can show love by supporting equality.
Supporting equality is a principal that was taught in the New Testament with regards to Jews and Gentiles (Galatians 3:28). I’m not saying that one group of people is “good” while another group is “bad.” We are all sinners. We have all fallen short of the glory of God.
But this pastor isn’t really asking you to support equality… He’s asking that you stand by, with a smile on your face, as you watch people (Who you really do love) march down a path of destruction. But Christians, despite being flawed, should not turn a blind eye to sin. Christians should not encourage, support, or even tolerate deliberately sinful lifestyles. (1 Corinthians 5:9-13)

“Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him.” – Ephesians 5:6

The pastor makes a comment that those who disapprove of homosexuality are trying to ruin the lives of people they don’t even know. To be completely honest, I am much more concerned about my neighbor’s eternal salvation than I am his temporary, earthly happiness. So, in my opinion, it’s not fair to accuse Bible believing Christians of “spearheading a campaign” to cause homosexuals pain and ruination. That is not the point at all. Bible believing Christians do not wish to inflict pain, but recognize the ultimate goal (salvation for sinners) and see the big picture (eternal life in heaven).
James 5:20 encourages believers to lovingly turn their brothers from sinful lifestyles so that person’s sins may be forgiven. In order to turn a brother from his error, you must first acknowledge its presence. Ignoring or tolerating the error does the individual no good.

Closing remarks

My goal in writing all of this is not to be offensive. If you are offended, it is by the word of God. As I prefaced, the Bible tends to be offensive to us because we have no hope of achieving perfection ourselves. We are so damaged and flawed by our sin and corrupted by the world that it is tough to face the truth. I spent a hard four years of my life wrestling with the truth and coming to terms with the fact that the person in the mirror is hopeless without a gracious and loving Savior. During that time, my Christian friend (who is now my husband), often read scripture to me which I found very hurtful. I would retaliate by accusing him of being judgmental and hateful. Over time, my heart softened and I realized that I could not deny the word of God. I realized that everything my friend had said and done was out of love.

Unfortunately, there are those who claim to be Christians who do not love their neighbors. They use scripture to puff themselves up and demean others, rather than for teaching, correcting, and edifying others. These people are false teachers; they have not obeyed the instructions in the New Testament (John 15:12, 1 John 3:23). If you have been harmed by one of these individuals, I am truly sorry.
The sermon excerpt that we have been dissecting and analyzing has been titled “What every Christian should hear.” I propose a revision. The information below is truly crucial and completely scriptural. It is not coming from my heart or my feelings… It’s coming from the word of God. THIS is REALLY what every Christian (non-Christians, too) should hear.

• Everyone is a sinner
     o For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Romans 3:23
     o We are all infected and impure with sin. . . Isaiah 64:6
• Sin leads to death
o When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone  sinned. Romans 5: 12
     o . . . You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Romans 6:16
• Christ was the perfect sacrifice to atone for sins
    o God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation. Hebrews 2:10
     o . . . So also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. . . Hebrews 9:28
     o Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. . . 1 Peter 3:18
• Forgiveness for sins is available and eternal life is accessible
     o When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision – the cutting away of your sinful nature. For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then, God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. Colossians 2:11-13
• Christians are warned against LIVING in sin
     o We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning. . . 1 John 5:21
     o So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. . . Colossians 3:5
     o Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Romans 6: 13
     o God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8
• There is freedom in Christ Jesus
     o You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. . . Colossians 2:20
     o So there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. Romans 8:1-2

**It is my prayer that you will study your Bible to determine for yourself what is true and right. The Bible is the final authority on how we should conduct ourselves in this corrupt and sinful world. If your preachers are delivering any other message, they are not to be trusted.**

Lessons from the Woman at the Well

At the beginning of my college career, as I began to fumble around the Bible on my own, I occasionally took my thoughts and questions to a Christian friend who was much more knowledgeable in all things Bible related. He offered some insight and perspective in areas where I was struggling. During one mini Bible study, he made an observation which has stuck with me for years.

We were discussing the woman at the well. This story is found in John, chapter 4, if you are interested in reading it for yourself, but I’ll go ahead and summarize it.

Jesus was passing through Samaria on his way to Galilee and stopped at a well to rest (Jacob’s well, to be exact). He had not been there long, when a Samaritan woman came by herself to draw water from the well. For a little background information, you need to know that there was almost always tension between Jews and Samaritans. Jews often would not speak to Samaritans. So, the woman was shocked when Jesus (a Jew) requested some water to drink.

“You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” She asked.

Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

Of course, the idea of living water (flowing water) baffled the Samaritan woman, so Jesus went on to explain.

“Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

That sounded pretty good to the woman, so she begged Jesus for some of this water… but then, Jesus said something even more incredible. He told the woman secrets about her life… personal things.

“You don’t have a husband – for you’ve had five husbands and you aren’t even married to the man you are living with now.”

At this point, if I was the Samaritan woman, I think I’d be pretty dumbfounded. She knew, from the conversation so far, that Jesus must be a prophet, so she decided to ask him about religion, specifically where to worship.

Jesus said, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming – indeed it is here now – when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

“I know the Messiah is coming – the one who is called Christ,” said the woman. “When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then, Jesus revealed his identity. “I am the Messiah.”

Here’s where the story gets really good… The woman was so excited to hear this from Jesus that she ran back home and immediately began telling everyone what she had heard. She was in such a hurry, that she left her water jar at the well. Many Samaritans believed in Jesus after they heard the woman’s story, and many were able to spend time with Jesus because he ended up staying in the woman’s village for a couple of days.

Many people exclaimed, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world!”

I had heard this story many times… It was just your typical VBS Bible story. But after discussing this particular passage with my friend, he pointed out the significance of the water jar that was left behind. The whole purpose for the woman coming to the well was insignificant after she realized she had spoken with her Savior.

The region where Jacob’s well was located was typically dry, and water was a precious commodity. Samaria has no river running through it, which would have been described as living water (flowing water). This is why people used wells. Retrieving water from this well would’ve been a regular and necessary chore for this Samaritan woman. Who would have thought that such a mundane task could change a person’s life!

I think many of us can relate to the Samaritan woman on some level. Her love life was a bit of a scandal. Many might have deemed her unworthy of such an experience with the Messiah. Jesus knew everything about the woman before he chose to speak with her. He saw her sin and he knew her heart. And that didn’t stop him from loving her and reaching out to her.

But there is an astounding lesson to be learned from this woman. As I read this story, I find myself praying for her dedication and enthusiasm. I find myself striving to be like her.

She left her water jar. After she learned that the Messiah had come and that her Savior was going to save the world, it just wasn’t important anymore. And she ran! She RAN back to the village and IMMEDIATELY started telling everyone what had happened.

………………………….

Here I am… holding a Bible. I have the message that Jesus told the woman at the well. And I’m sitting on my couch, in my apartment with comfortable furnishings, having just enjoyed a good meal, an exciting movie, and some snap chats from my sister. Shouldn’t I be in a hurry to pass this message along? The Samaritan woman ran back to her village and immediately spread the word. I want that enthusiasm! The Samaritan woman left her water jar! Why is it so hard for me to get my priorities straight? I want that dedication!

What is wrong with me? I always think, “Tomorrow, I’ll talk to this person about Jesus.” “Maybe next week, I’ll invite my friend to church.” “Maybe in a couple of years, I’ll go overseas on a mission trip.”

But I just can’t right now… you know, I have too much stuff. I have a job to do. I have things to take care of. I have water to get from that well and I can’t be bothered right now to do something of greater importance. I can’t be distracted by Christ’s command to spread the gospel. Maybe some other time.

Oh man… the excuses that I make.

So, tonight, I’m reading the story about the woman at the well, again. I’m praying to be more like that woman who could so easily distinguish between what was urgent and what could wait; between what was eternal and what was worldly. I’m praying to be more like that woman who couldn’t wait to share her experience with others. Maybe, as a Christian, you are struggling with the same issue. I hope this story will also encourage you and motivate you to be obedient to your faith and accomplish the will of our Father in heaven.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Corinthians 16:23-24

*Kait*