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Archive for the ‘Men / Women’ Category

Pastoring Our Wives

As a husband one of my primary responsibilities is to shepherd my wife. If we start to think of this as a patronising activity, whereby we consider them to be lesser entities to ourselves, then we have got things completely wrong. This is rather a ministry of self-sacrificing devotion to our wives so that they prosper in all their life and callings. What does this entail?

We are protect them. Peter says in 1 Peter 3:7 that husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honour to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. We are to make sure that they are not shamed, but rather honoured and respected by us. This means that we will physically protect them if necessary. But also we will shield them from happenings or information which will be harmful to them,

We provide for them. The husband has the primary responsibility to be the provider into the family unit. Although our wives may work, we must not shirk this responsibility.

We encourage them. We have a relentless ministry to encourage our wives in their ministry. Their responsibility of looking after home and family can often be a thankless task. Moreover, we live in a society that belittles these activities. We must aware of this make them know that their labour is oh so valuable.

We study them. We should truly know our wives as to who they are. We should know their interests. We should know their loves and hates. We should be able to tell what circumstances have a negative or positive impact upon them.

We bear with them. As we understand our wives we will be inclined to bear with them in all of their challenges and vulnerabilities. We will understand the impact that the monthly period has upon them and respond accordingly.

We speak well of them. In our conversation with we should be willing to speak of our wives in a wholesome way. We should not seek to belittle them in the presence of others. This does not exclude humour, but it does me that any humour is never to their harm or embarrassment.

Growth. We long and labour for their growth in the Lord. We must make sure that they are spiritually nourished and built up. This may well mean scheduling our day so that they can have time with the Lord and attend church activities.

Usefulness. We want them to be useful in serving the Lord. So we work to see them equipped for their service. We seek to make sure that their opportunities for them to serve the Lord. And when we see them being useful for the Lord we rejoice that this should be the case.

Prayer. We pray for them in everything. We pray concerning the responsibilities that they have. We pray for their prospering in all their ways. We give thanks to the Lord for them. And we make sure that we pray with them.

So dear brothers in the Lord let us hear this from the Lord: Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph 5:25). Let us give ourselves unstintingly to this ministry of caring for our wives and be glad to do so.

Personal Appearances

Generally in church, and particularly as an elder, there is need to be great wisdom exercised about how we speak about each other’s personal appearance. Great damage can be done by needless throw away comments which can cause frustration and distress to people.

Humour, in particular, can be particularly destructive. By way of example it is best to steer clear of joking about someone’s summery clothing. You may think that their appearance provokes a response, but is it called for for you to joke about it? The person may have issues of health or personal comfort. If you think their clothing is immodest then you need to speak to the person about it seriously.

Men making comments on the clothing of women, particularly those who are younger to them, should be a completely embargoed. If such is done it can arouse all kinds of feelings in the woman about the man being interested in her.

However, when the clothing of a woman is unseemly and not fulfilling the call of 1 Timothy 2:9-10 to be discrete. The Word there says: likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. In such a situation an elder or older sister should approach the lady involved.

In all this husbands should encourage their wives as regards to appreciating them and treasuring them. They should tell them of how they appreciate their appearance.

I just feel it is area where great care be exercised. In everything we say we need to think about whether this is contributing to building someone up.

Those Ladies Up Front.

One of my observations in visiting many churches in the earlier part of the year was how much “air time” women in the church are given in leading “up front”. I am left wondering about this.

Now I am not sure that all the churches I visited would take a complementary view of the role of men and women in the church. I know, for sure that one of the churches would be egalitarian in their perspective. Many would have been clearly complementarian. For details of what these viewpoints mean see here . What I want to ponder upon is the fact that ladies in complementarian churches seem to be given more and more time up front.

There seems to be this thought that we need to show everybody that the ladies in the church can do so many things at the front. So rather than gaining the overall sense that the men are given the role of leading publicly, we are given a sense that the men lead, but we will make sure that the ladies are leading as much as possible as well.

It is as if we have to show that the ladies can really do lots of things in terms of leadership. It all seems a little bit gratuitous. In one church where the preaching had been very good we had a lady come on afterwards whose role I could not really suss. It seems like she was giving some extra application.

Now I want to make it clear that I am convinced and committed totally to all men and women being involved in church life, growing in grace and being effective in ministry. But what I saw left me wondering. In fact I wondered whether it was even counter-productive; the ladies rather than concentrating on their ministry call were placed in up-front roles which took them away from their ministry call.

One outcome of this is the neutering of the men. They see all these women now emerging on stage and they are not spurred to step-up.

Christian Young Men Considering “Dating”.

  • The biblical frame is that men and women come together for marriage. You should never “date” or “go out” with someone unless you feel there is some prospect that you might marry this person.
  • Casual dating should not be considered.
  • Clear communication must be had with the sister in Christ you are considering going out with so that there is no confusion as regards to each other’s intentions.
  • You are the man and in God’s order of things you have responsibility to lead things from the beginning. You should be the initiative taker.
  • You should only go out with another believer. It is wrong to be unequally yoked. The Lord says in 2 Corinthians 6:14  Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 
  • Start by praying and reading the Bible together. Make that a key ingredient of your relationship right from the beginning.
  • Don’t be insular. Yes “go out” together, but make sure you mix with others. You will find out a lot about the young lady’s character through this (and she about yours).
  • Encourage each other to be going to church.
  • Going back to the biblical frame, the fundamental character of a male/female relationship being established is that the woman leaves her parents home to join the man in the new marital home (see Gen. 2:24). Regard should be had so that the parents of the sister are respected and at some point the father approached as regards to taking his daughter into marriage, should the relationship develop that way.
  • Make sure that you are very careful about the physical aspects of your relationship. Sex outside of marriage is wrong. But stirring up feelings through amorous contact is wrong too. The Spirit says in Hebrews 13:4: Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
  • Before marriage you are exploring whether you are compatible in the Lord and in marriage. The physical aspects of the relationship are for marriage. It is good therefore outside of marriage to make sure that certain parts of your body do not come into contact.
  • Any woman should have nothing to do with a man who disrespects her so much that he would “try it on” before marriage.
  • If you are in a relationship and you realise that it is not working out, then you should be clear with the lady involved. You must not let things drift on and let feelings  become intensified.

Women Workers.

It seems to be an increasing phenomenon that churches have deacons who are ladies and “women workers”. I just want to consider this issue.

The initial thing to consider is whether or not there should be women deacons in a church. The key passage here is 1 Timothy 3:8-13 and in particular v11.  In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. The word women here can also be rendered “wives”; the context determines which it is to be. If it is taken as wives then it is very curious that no mention is made of the elders wives in vv 1-7 where the qualifications of elders are stated. Accordingly, it is best to take it as meaning “women”

So if there are women then are they to be recognised as deacons? It is clear from v12 that the deacon is a male, after all he has to be married to a woman. So the women described in v11 cannot be deacons.

However, their description is stated within the passage giving the qualifications for deacons and so it seems that their ministry is closely connected to that of deacons, but they are not deacons. The use of the term “in like manner” indicates that they are a different, but similar, category to the deacons.

So to refer to “the women” simply as that would not be untoward. But the terms “women deacons”, “women servants” or “women workers” all seem to be appropriate designations. The mentioning of Phoebe in Romans 16:1 as the “diakonos” of the church in  Cenchreae would refer to a woman of this ilk.

So what would their ministry be? It would be the like that of the deacons, but probably with an emphasis on those ministries to other women which would be more appropriate for them to undertake.

 

New Husbands

If you are a Christian man anticipating being married then be aware of the call for you to caringly lead your wife. I particularly want to urge you to think about your responsibility to lead your wife spiritually. Your wife will flourish through your exercise of servant leadership. If you wimp out and expect her to lead spiritually or if you act out the domineering tyrant role you have failed in the godly call upon you.

So what are you to do?:

  • You are to lead your wife in church attendance. Church on a Sunday should not be greeted with a should we or shouldn’t we dilemma. Rather, unless health, hazard or hardship get in the way you will be there. I particularly urge husbands to think about your first Lord’s Day together as husband and wife. I find it shocking that a husband would cop-out and not make sure that the first Sunday morning of marriage finds them among God’s people to worship the Lord.
  • Right from the start make your home a place of worship. You must be leading in this. There should not be a day ever that goes by without you and your wife praying together. Furthermore, you must make sure you read and study the Word together.

Sisters Ministry.

This scripture appears in Titus 2:3b-5.  The Word says concerning the older women in the church that they are to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Could it be that I have just mentioned the most disobeyed portion of scripture in the Bible.

Amidst all the debate and dispute about the role of women in the church and whether they should have leadership / preaching roles, a scripture which clearly mandates a ministry for mature lady believers is largely ignored. I am not sure why it is. But I do know that our churches lack so much as a result.

Perhaps church leaders should pair the ladies up more; that is older ones with younger ones. But the thrust of the passage seems to be that the women through knowing this Word should get up and act upon it. How many younger sisters would just love a word of encouragement from an older believer. As they sink in a morass of nappies, washing and crying babies would not a kindly sister come stand encourage them in this vital ministry?

Oh what a lack there is here! Perhaps you feel you are not old enough. Well very likely you are older than some other sister and you can get on and serve them through your loving prayerful interest and advice. Perhaps you don’t feel qualified enough. Well the scripture does not talk about that it just infers you should get on and do it.

So older sisters be praying for those you can help and get on and help.

I have written at more length on this subject here

 

Big Men / Little Men

  • Little men seek revenge. Big men let things pass.
  • Little men seek their own honour. Big men seek the honour of others (and most especially God).
  • Little men say “if they did it, so will I”. Big men say “I will do what is right”.
  • Little men operate for personal advantage and convenience. Big men operate according to principle.
  • Little men protect their families whilst there is no pain. Big men protect their families regardless of the cost.
  • Little men seek comfort. Big men fulfill duty.
  • Little men let their wives lead. Big men step up and lead.
  • Little men have to show that they are in front; Big men serve others even if it leads to derision.
  • Little men keep information because it may give me an advantage. Big men share information because they want to help others.;

Harry And Meghan Get Wed

So what did you think about it; the Royal Wedding last Saturday that is? So much has been written about the event, in particular the sermon by Michael Curry. Accordingly, I hesitatingly throw my little bit into the ring of information and opinion.

  • After all the fanfare and grand entrance we had to listen to a man who seemed less than excited about what was happening. Could they have put someone on who had some more interest and engagement in his presentation. By the way it is important who leads and how we lead our church services.
  • The wording he read was grand though. Talking about husband and wife and the fact of a man and woman coming together being at the heart of marriage. Good to hear. Mmmmmmmh where does that leave same-sex marriage? Finished and in the grave one would hope! But such is a vain aspiration I fear.
  • Great to hear a confession of our Trinitarian God.
  • At least Justin Welby was somewhat more lively.
  • And then there is Mr Curry. Vast amounts have been written. Two most helpful contributions would be by Stephen Kneale here and David Robertson here. Here are some of my thoughts upon:
    • The fact that he spoke with passion and warmth seems to have taken people aback. How can we have got into such a state that people expect to come to church and hear something delivered in a cold and detached manner. Surely it should be de rigeur that we preach with warmth and passion. Now passion and warmth are incarnated and therefore will vary from person to person, but they must be there.
    • He did say some better things than most in a similar position have done. He did speak warmly of Jesus Christ.
    • However, let us be clear; he did not preach the gospel. It is shocking that people in evangelical circles can be thinking the he “preached the gospel.” Do we really understand what the gospel is? See here for my previous thoughts on this.
    • I am drawn back to Dr Lloyd Jones great teaching in his book on the Sermon on the Mount about how false teachers are known not by what they say, but by what they do not say. And normally that means lots of love and little sin and judgement which is exactly what was there on Saturday.
  • I’m not sure what place a rendition of “Stand by Me” had in the context of a church service. More suitable for the reception I would have thought. But that is all part of wanting to have church to make me feel good rather than being challenged about the call of God on our lives.
  • Hence, returning to Mr Curry’s sermon, it is all part of creating a certain view of God which is bolstered by a selective use of the Bible. Then we are encouraged to work ourselves into/towards this version God that has been revealed to us. And we all go away happy because this nice convenient God is now happy with us.
  • Whereas the love of God is truly experienced when I submit in all brokenness before this mighty God and am totally dependent upon Him to raise me up and bring me to Himself. Now that is the love of God.
  • The airbrushing of Meghan Markel’s divorce was interesting as well. No mention of it at all. Now I know the Christian gospel is all about forgiveness and restoration. But vows have been taken by Ms Markel previously and have not been fulfilled. Our society seems to be very casual about keeping your word and honoring vows. It is a startling thing about the Old Testament that vows were viewed in the highest regard. For a society to be bound well together, honoring of commitments is vital. It was all as if nothing had happened.
  • And then there is the magnificent white wedding dress. Yes it was respectable and all that. But is not the white wedding gown supposed to be a declaration of virginity? Which leaves me wondering?!

Just some thoughts.

 

Elders and Women

The ongoing news-storm ensuing from the Harvey Weinstein antics about the harassment of women in workplaces continues. Here is a further article from today. This leads me into considering how church Elders should interact with women. If we look at the qualifications for eldership 1 Timothy 3:1-7 we see the headlining requirement to be that of being above reproach (v2b). it seems that all the other requirements explain and developed what it is for an elder to be above reproach. An elder therefore is to be of such a character that there is nothing in his life which in any way would cause unease among those who observe his life. One of the critical areas in which this is seen is in his relationship with women. In his conduct towards all women he should be above reproach.

One of the qualifications for an elder is that he is a one-woman man (see 1 Tim. 3:2b). I have written about this term here. An elder is to have focus on the one woman who is in his life. in no way should be give any amorous indications to any other woman. There is a zero-tolerance in this realm. He will readily speak of his affection for his wife in a sensitive and thoughtful way. But by his actions and words he will make no-advances to any other woman. His hands will be “firmly in his pockets”, his eyes will not linger on another woman and his mind will not  ponder on what might be if he only could.

One particular area to be thoughtful of here is that of how he speaks about the dress of other ladies. He can and should speak well of the appearance of his wife, but nver never say anything about the dress of another lady; absolutely nothing. Speaking of her dress can cause all sorts of problems: Your wife thinks; “Is he interested in her?”;  the woman thinks “Oooh he thinks I’m attractive” and she starts to ponder. And if the woman has a husband; he is potentially incensed by your perceived advances. You cannot be too careful in this realm.

If I could give an exception here though and that is in cases when you may have to approach a lady in church about her dress if she is being too provocative in here attire.

The giving of hugs and  kisses needs to be carefully considered as well. Certain cultures see this as more than acceptable. In fact it is part of the norm to act in such a way in many societies. But the elder must be very careful. There may be times in mourning for example when this is not just acceptable, but actually helpful. But caution must be exercised.

It is also good to be careful of being alone with another woman. Age differences and teh expectations of the meeting need to be considered here. So if a lady is coming to see you about her husband’s funeral that is very different to a sister in the church just asking for a meeting without indicating why. Age difference is important as well. But visiting a lady of similar age to you on her own at home when her husband and children are out, to me seems very dangerous. In all thsi it is best to err on the side of caution.

Finally never trust yourself in all these matters. Paul after indicating how teh Israelites failed, addresses the Corinthians and says if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! (1 Cor. 10:12). Many an elder is now wrecked in life and ministry and some have had even their very lives cut short because they did not heed that.

And a finally, finally, make sure you build such a satisfying relationship with your wife that you would never have any thought of “looking elsewhere.”

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