Saturday, August 9, 2014

Can you take it?

Ya'll ready for some truth real quick? 

Here it is: sometimes, I don't like the lessons God has for me to learn.

Yup. You heard me.

Sometimes, I am much happier being plain, old, sinful "me" than I am being the me He's calling me to be. 

Well...let me adjust that...sometimes, I THINK I'm happier that way.

Last night was a wonderful example of that. I didn't get much sleep the night before last (not exactly a rare occurrence lately). So yesterday, I was really tired and whiny most of the day. I knew it was going to be a pretty busy afternoon/evening, but I didn't really want to think about it.

As the morning crept into afternoon and then the afternoon got a bit of age on it, too, I realized I had far more on my plate than I thought I did. I'll spare you the list, but just know there was a lot to juggle. I'd also forgotten that Josiah told me he had plans with a friend which would make the evening even busier.

So - there you have it. I was a bit of a mess yesterday afternoon...and that didn't go unnoticed by my husband.

I had already admitted to him that I hadn't planned the day well...and he heartily agreed.

He was upset and frustrated and very lovingly and clearly expressed that to me - I had all day to make sure at least one of these things went more smoothly, but none of it did.

Now, here's where we get to the "me not wanting to be who He's calling me to be" part: I do not take criticism well.

In my last post, I talked about how we should and shouldn't present constructive criticism to our husbands. Let me tell ya, I can dish criticism with love and respect and concern...I am a diplomat!

But wheeeeeeew, girl, let me tell you about someone who does NOT take criticism at all well., even when it's expressed with love and respect.

My first reaction is to DEFEND. I want to make excuses and give reasons, and THEN, quite frequently, I also want to tell you why it's partially your fault, too. After all, why should I take all the blame? Why should I shoulder ALL the responsibility?

Because I'm not going to learn anything if I handle criticism that way.

Listen to advice and accept instruction, 
so that you may we wise later in life.
Proverbs 19:20

Honestly, I wish I had known that verse yesterday. I didn't. I just now googled it.

However, God gave me a different reminder of how to accept rebuke: my husband's example.

Josiah is always so good at accepting correction from me. He does it with humility and concern. He honestly wants to know how he's offended me, and he wants to fix it. 

Did you catch that? Because it's really important: he honestly wants to know how he's offended me, and he wants to fix it.

Yes, I just typed the same sentence twice because I think it's that critical.

Josiah is not my enemy, nor am I his. He understands that I am not someone against whom he must defend himself and views my correction as a way to make our marriage stronger. I am his ally, his partner.

If both of us are constantly battling correction from the other, then neither of us is improving and we're pushing one another farther apart. In order for us to grow closer, we must learn to correct with grace and accept correction gracefully, as well.

So, by the grace of God - not me but HIM in me - I was able to do something last night I've never been able to do before: suck it up and take it...and then sincerely apologize for it.

I still battled within myself some. I still had the urge to share how I thought HE could have made the situation better, too. But I prayed my way right on through that.

In the end, yesterday was my responsibility. I hadn't planned well. I hadn't prepared well. I was tired and lazy and whiny, and that wound up causing a man who is working 48-50 hours this week far more frustration than he needed. He had to step in where I failed.

And he did...because I am his ally, his partner. We graciously make up for the weaknesses of the other and take the wheel when the other is too tired or frustrated to drive.

The evening came and went, and all was well by the time our heads hit the pillows - and I learned a valuable lesson in humility and accepting correction.

I guess we can call that a successful day, after all.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

When your husband hits the "mute" button...

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins
in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens,
the spirit now working in the disobedient.
Ephesians 2:1-2

Ya'll, seriously, how long do you think it's going to take us to figure out that if we're doing something the way the rest of the world is doing it, then we're probably doing it wrong?

Last week, I wrote a blog post about women thinking their husbands need to earn their respect...and of course, about why that's an inaccurate perspective.

In Sunday School this week (where we're currently discussing communication in our marriages), the guys were saying that, at times, their wives' persistent attempts to guide their husbands to be the spouses and leaders they (the wives) think they should be has quite the opposite effect. 

Instead, these men stated, it made them feel like they could do nothing right, and they, effectively, stopped listening. They hit the mute button.

In the realm of marital communication, it's easy for us, as women (the grand communicators that we are), to say that putting up a barriers and turning us "off" are not good communication skills.

But here's the deal ladies...who made you the Holy Spirit?

D'OH! That's a sucker punch, right there, I know. It's a little strongly worded, but I hope you'll bear with me.

In my quiet time this morning, I was reading through 1 Peter, and I came to a very familiar verse:

Wives, in the same way, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, even if some disobey the [Christian] message, they may be won over without a message by the way their wives live, when they observe your pure, reverent lives. Your beauty should not consist of outward things [like] elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes; instead, it should consist of the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God's eyes. 1 Peter 3:1-4 (emphasis added)

It never ceases to amaze me how God can keep peeling back His word and revealing different layers to us.

Today's message to me through 1 Peter: SHUT UP.

Peter didn't say, "Wives, if your husbands are not living according to the word of God, then you should make sure you tell him because it's your job to let that man know!!"

Nope. He said if our husbands are not living according to the word of God, then we should bury ourselves in His word for them. We should be paying attention to our own walk, making sure we are living pure and reverent lives so our husbands may be won over WITHOUT WORDS

Oh my goodness, that is so contradictory to what the world tells us we should do and be it's almost ridiculous. 

It's tough, right ladies? It's so hard to just trust the Holy Spirit to do it's job in our husbands' hearts while we bury ourselves in HIM. We relinquish the ever-present illusion of control, and turn our hearts and our husbands' hearts over to God.

What makes us think that we, with our mouths, are capable of doing a better work in our husbands' lives than the Holy Spirit? Just a little presumptuous right?

However, you may make the same point Josiah did in Sunday School: what if the Holy Spirit is using a man's wife bring something to the his attention?

That's totally likely, right? (And ladies, can I just tell you how mushy it makes me feel inside that it was my husband who made that point? Whooo, I love that man!)

It can be. There are times when the Holy Spirit speaks to us and may use us to bring something to our husbands' attention.

BUT...there's a huge BUT here...

Peter kind of set out a precondition here: are you living a pure and reverent life and seeking to be beautiful to your husband with a gentle and quiet spirit?

See, it's very possible for God to use you to speak to your husband, but before you remove that speck from his eye, you better make sure you've removed your own logs, Sister (Luke 6:42).

Are you seeking God's face daily? Have you sought the wisdom of God down on your knees (James 1:5)? Are you hiding the word of God in your heart so that you might not sin (Psalm 119:11)? 

Let's face it, if we're NOT doing these things - if our husbands don't see us living pure and reverent lives - why should they listen?

However, if we ARE doing those things, and THEN the Holy Spirit leads us to talk to our husbands, I can almost guarantee you the way we do it will be different...our manner and hearts will be different. If we have paved the way with prayer and submission to God, then the Holy Spirit may help us make inroads to our husbands' hearts...

not by our strength and might, but by HIS.

It's a hard truth, sisters. It's counter-cultural and counter-intuitive. It makes us feel ugly and raw and guilty, and after all, how much easier is it to give advice and fix others than it is to examine and correct ourselves?

Way easier. This stuff is hard.

However, I've said it before and I'll say it again, if it was easy, we wouldn't need Jesus for it, but we do - desperately - and that, my friends, is the power of the gospel in action.

Praise be to God!!

Friday, August 1, 2014

"You gotta earn my R-E-S-P-E-C-T!"

Let me ask you a very serious question: do you always deserve your children's respect?

Got a picture in your head? If you're like me, you're thinking of all the ways you've blown it in the past: the times you've blown up, the times you've acted in a disrespectful manner...the many, many "mommy fails" on the bumpy road of parenthood.

Blech.

Now, let me ask you this: do you always demand respect from your children?

For most of us, this is a resounding YES! Most of us understand that, despite the fact that we don't act in a manner that deserves respect 24-7 (we are human, after all), we certainly have to demand respect from our children simply because we have a position of authority over them.

We have to teach our children that, even though we, as parents, are not perfect, they still have to respect our authority.

After all, if we don't teach them that now, then how will they ever hold down jobs or become respectable citizens?!

Furthermore, let's face it: households run in chaos, with the kids only respecting parents when and if  they deserve it, are a recipe for disaster. God's word says:
Children, obey your parents as you would the Lord, because this is right.Honor your father and mother,which is the first commandment with a promise,so that it may go well with youand you may have a long life in the land.Ephesians 6:1-3 (emphasis added)
The Bible goes on to command parents not to stir up anger in children, but to bring them up in the instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). However, God was wise enough not to make their obedience to us and their respect toward us conditional upon our own behavior. THANK YOU, LORD!

So, let me ask you another question: are you a wife that is denying your husband the respect the Bible says he deserves by virtue of HIS position of authority because you don't feel he deserves it?

BAM...that hits hard, right? I'm going to let that sink in for a second.

I had two posts a couple weeks ago (here and here) that discussed a wife's duty, according to scripture, to submit to her own husband (Ephesians 5:22-24). Afterward, I had a few wives comment to me that they really struggled with biblical submission toward their husbands for various reasons, but it basically amounted to the fact that they didn't feel like their husbands deserved their submission...their respect.

Here's the deal, ladies. Submission isn't blindly and silently following the leader. You are your husband's partner!! You advise and make decisions together, consult and discuss...but all with a manner that belies your respect for his God-given authority to make the final decision.

If you're still having difficulty with this, let me re-frame it for you. Ephesians 5:25-31 speaks to husbands, and tells them to love their wives as Christ loved the church: sacrificially. The word for love in that passage is agape, and as we've all been taught, that represents a divine love: a love that comes through grace, not because we deserve it, but in spite of the fact that we don't.

As wives, our hearts scream this to our husbands even when our mouths don't: you're called to LOVE me! The Bible tells me so!!

But ladies...do you feel like you have to earn his love? Do you always act in a manner that is deserving of that holy, sacrificial love? The same love Christ gave when he died on the cross for you?

We could never earn that?!?! We don't have to earn love from our husbands! 

We don't have to earn our children's respect! We should get both just by nature of our position in the family, right?!

Why, then, are you making your husband earn YOUR respect, despite HIS God-given position in your family?

Ladies, don't get me wrong: this is hard. If it wasn't hard, we wouldn't need Jesus to accomplish it. We wouldn't need to die to ourselves each and every day and take up our cross and follow him if it was easy. 

Furthermore, let me be clear, I'm no better at this than you. I am not on a mountaintop looking down at your struggle, but alongside you, climbing the mountain, saying I know it's hard, sisters, but we have to forge ahead, trusting in God to get us to the top!!

If you're wrestling with this (the same as all the rest of us), I'd strongly recommend reading Love and Respect, by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. That's what I've been reading, and it's challenging, but in such a good way. I can't say that I haven't been wanting to write this blog post for a long time, since long before I picked up his book, but reading his words did give me some inspiration and got the cogs of my brain turning in the right direction.

Pray about this, sisters. If you feel conviction in this area, please don't harden your hearts to the calling of the Spirit within you or let this be just one more thing that makes you feel guilt and shame because you just don't think you can change. 

Circumcise your hearts, call out to God in your pain and confusion, and ask him for wisdom and strength, but do so with faith that He will answer because He is a God who gives to the faithful generously and without criticism (James 1:5-8).

I love you all, my sisters in Christ, and I'm praying God will help us on our quest to mature and grown in Him!!

**Disclaimer: I know someone is going to say, "but what if authority is telling you to do something wrong?!" I'm just going to ask for a general application of common sense and submission to God's word here. Obviously, God is our ultimate authority and we are responsible to him first. No one can overrule His authority. This post assumes the demands placed by authority are in alignment with God's word.**

Friday, July 18, 2014

Grace in a Glob of Whipped Cream

I looked over to see little, 7 year-old fingers scraping whipped cream off the top of the just opened lid.

"STOP!"

But the little fingers decide to make another round before succumbing to mom's demand.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! I told you to stop, and you didn't even listen! I shouldn't even have to tell you to stop because I've told you not to do that a million times!! Go to your room! NO FAMILY BREAKFAST FOR YOU!! You can come to the table when everyone else is finished."

To which Josiah added, "and no whipped cream for you this morning."

And that's how "family breakfast" started yesterday...with tears and mommy guilt.

Since we started homeschooling last year, it's been a huge blessing to be able to share breakfast with Josiah on his days off, which are often in the middle of the week. When I was working and the kids were in school, we missed that time with him. Not anymore!

Now there's "family breakfast." Even if he has other things to accomplish on his days off, as he often does, we all look forward to sitting down to a special breakfast with Josiah on his days off.

But not little Ryan...not yesterday. He got sent to his room RIGHT before family breakfast started because he couldn't control the impulse we all have to scrape the whipped cream from the lid.

However, this was just the most recent in a long stream of disobedient offenses lately. He just doesn't wanna listen. And it's driving mommy nuts.

Of course, I see small disobedience now, and my heart fears BIG disobedience later.

How will you ever obey laws and stay out of jail if you can't control your urge to get the whipped cream!!!!!


Okay, so my thoughts aren't just like that, but they're close enough.


Pretty ridiculous right? Meh...maybe. Like all moms, I think I'm just terrified of screwing up. Too much discipline? Too little discipline? Did I point you to God enough today? Did I talk to you enough? Did you play enough?

Yeah...it may be time to do another blog post on fear soon, but for now, I'll finish this story.

I felt completely guilty for making him miss family breakfast. Josiah completely agreed with my decision because his behavior has been in decline as of late, but sadness still tugged at my mama heart.

We prayed over our chocolate chip waffles, with the strawberries and whipped cream that were Ryan's idea, but before I could eat, I had to sneak away to talk with my boy. (FYI, this is a "meal" - aka "sugar feast" - that is special even for family breakfast...like once a year...mommy guilt multiplied).

He laid on the bed with tears running down his little face, and we had a talk about obedience and discipline and love. I hugged him and told him I loved him, and then went back to breakfast with tears in my eyes.

Oh, my heart.

When everyone else was pretty much done, I had Ryan come back to the table. There, waiting for him on the table, was a chocolate chip waffle with strawberries, syrup, and a large glob of whipped cream.

His little blue eyes started welling up with fresh tears as he looked at the plate sitting at his normal place at the table. "That can't be mine," he said. "It has whipped cream." His lip started to quiver.

I sat him down, and with my own lip quivering and tears running down my face, I explained to him the concept of grace: gifts we're given that we can never deserve.

I explained to him that God gave us salvation and Jesus, even though we're all sinners, and in this instance, mommy was choosing to give him grace...grace in whipped cream.

It sounds silly when I type it out, but it was a moment I don't think I'll ever forget, and I am so thankful to God for putting it on my heart. 

I hope Ryan remembers it, too. I hope he remembers the beautiful gift we've been given in Christ, and how sometimes even the simplest things can mirror that...like grace in a glob of whipped cream.

Happy Friday, friends. May you go into this weekend thinking of the many times God has given you grace.

I know I will.

But God proves His own love for us
in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! 
Romans 5:8

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Who's Got Time?

How much time do you have?

Are you always short on time? Does time seem like it goes on forever for you?

If you're like me, then it's probably a combination of both.

I spend my time being bored or tired or overwhelmed, happy or sad or joyful or frustrated. 

Did you catch that? I spend MY time?

I've been doing a study of Ecclesiastes the last few days, and today I got to Ecclesiastes 3. Most people are at least somewhat familiar with this passage because it inspired "Turn! Turn! Turn!" by The Byrds in the 1950's:
There is an occasion for everything,
and a time for every activity under heaven:
a time to give birth and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to uproot;
a time to kill and a time to heal;
a time to tear down and a time to build;
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance;
a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing;
a time to search and a time to count as lost;
a time to keep and a time to throw away;
a time to tear and a time to sew;
a time to be silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I just love it. No matter where you are in your life right now, there is likely a very applicable and helpful portion of that for you.

However, just after this bit, something else caught my eye this morning:
He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also put eternity in man's hearts, but man cannot discover the work God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and enjoy the good life. It is also the gift of God whenever a man eats, drinks, and enjoys all his efforts. I know that all God does will last forever; there is no adding to it or taking from it. God works so that people will be in awe of Him. Whatever is, has already been, and whatever will be, already is. God repeats what is passed. Ecclesiastes 3:11-15

Parts of that can be a little befuddling, and I must also warn you that Ecclesiastes, like any other book, should really be looked at as a whole. If you only look at the beginning, it can seem really depressing, but it all works out in the end. 

However, I did get one overwhelming idea from the passage above: my time is not actually mine.

As Christians, we often look at material things as gifts from God, of which we are called to be good stewards. We may even acknowledge that today is a gift from Him:

This is the day that the Lord has made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

But, how often, throughout your busy day, do you tell yourself, This moment is a gift from God, and therefore, I must be a good steward of it. Am I seeking His will with the time HE has given?

Did you see that? There's a very important distinction there: not MY time, but the time He has given. 

I did not earn the time I've been given. I didn't work for it; it is not owed to me.

It is a gift.

He has given it to me, but not just for me to waste, but to accomplish His purposes for my life in this moment.

It kind of shifts your perspective doesn't it? 

Now, I'll admit, it's easy for me to say that now, as the house is still and the sun is still yawning and stretching its way into the sky. It may be MUCH harder in an hour or so when the kids wake up, the tasks add up, and mom gets fed up.

Nevertheless, today, instead of shutting my Bible and putting it away, I'm going to leave it open on the dining room table to Ecclesiastes 3, just to remind me that every minute I have is a gift from God, and each second should glorify Him.

What can you do today to remind you of the same thing?

My daughter, Destiny, took this picture of little Phinehas exploring.
 Who finds more gladness in the tiniest gifts from God than a baby?

Friday, July 11, 2014

All About the Fellas

Today's post is going to be short and sweet. For those those of you who have read my other posts this week, that should be a very welcome change!

First, in yesterday's post I sort of challenged a pastor. Actually, I challenged two pastors, but I'm not really concerned about the popular megachurch one. Instead, I'd like to make a clarification regarding the other pastor: the old friend who initially commented on Monday's blog post on facebook. 

While he and I may differ in some of our theology, I wanted to make it clear that I still hold him in the highest regard. I feel so terribly that this played out as oddly as it did, but he has reacted with nothing but grace and aplomb, which is nothing less than I would have expected. 

Since I didn't mention his name before, I'll refrain from doing it here. But thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being such a class act. :)

Next, I just wanted to take a minute to gush over my awesome husband, Josiah. He had the day off yesterday which, of course, meant he had a bunch of other stuff to take care of. I swear the man never rests. 

He had already informed me that we were going to have a date on Thursday night (last night), but I decided that wasn't really good enough. Therefore, I spent the entire day until our date following him around and "helping" as much as preggo and tired can help. 

I won't bore you with the details, but we had a fun, drowned rat-looking, almost dangerous adventure...and I wouldn't have it any other way. I love that we can spend time together and, no matter the circumstances, we can laugh and have fun and end the day more in love than we started.

I just couldn't be more enamored with this wonderful, funny, awesome man. I love you, Josiah!!!

It got cut off, but all the credit for this photo goes to the lovely Amanda of Amanda Truth Photography.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fighting Doctor "Feel-Good"

Earlier this week, I wrote a post about a very personal internal struggle. (You can read the original post here, if you'd like.) By writing my thoughts and feelings out, as well as the scripture God laid on my heart, I came to peace with my decision.
However, the post caused a ripple effect that I neither expected or intended.

You see, the post had to do with whether Josiah (my beloved husband) and I would attempt to have any more children after our newest is born in October (our 5th). Josiah is completely on board with having another baby because he feels like children are a blessing from God, as it says in the Bible. I would totally agree...I just wasn't (at the time) sure that's what God was calling me to do.

Thus, my internal struggle.

I also spoke about being convicted because the Bible says, as a wife, I'm called to submit to my husband and our bodies no longer belong to us, but to one another. (Side note here: other than being 35 and chunky, there's no reason, medically, why I shouldn't bear more children. I've never had a miscarriage or any other trouble carrying or delivering babies. That's pretty important. My husband loves me more than life itself, and if it presented any probability of danger, he would insist we not try to have more children.)

When I put the link on facebook, I tagged a few people whose input I thought would be very interesting. I had NO idea.

A few wives commented on the post saying that they didn't necessarily feel led to have more children (it is a very personal thing), but that they very much struggle in the area of submission.

Despite the fact that they feel otherwise, they aren't alone, right ladies? We are sinful, fearful, prideful, controlling creatures, and therefore, as wives, it is contrary to our very nature to submit to these also remarkably imperfect creatures, our husbands. 

That's why we need Jesus! If it wasn't hard, we could do it on our own.

So, these ladies remarked that they had a hard time submitting and we encouraged one another. And then...

*sigh*

I tagged someone else in the post: a very old friend who is a pastor. He commented on various aspects of it, one of which was submission. He said, I take a very different view on submission - I believe in mutual submission with Ephesians 5:21 being the umbrella verse - "submit to one another."

GAAAAAAHHHHHH!! WHAT?!

That was my general reaction. I've got women posting on here about how hard they feel it is to submit, and this pastor is posting random, non-biblical things like "mutual submission"?! I felt like I caused a train wreck...and now...now I'm working damage control.

I asked him about this obscure teaching, and he gave me some links. The main one was a sermon by Pastor Andy Stanley. At first I didn't want to even listen to it. I really don't like reading or listening to things I know will make me angry or upset.

BUT, in this case, I felt I had a responsibility to look into it. After all...what if I'm wrong? I'm no biblical scholar. What if I've been thinking of submission in the wrong light? 

But no...I wasn't wrong...and, after watching the video, that was blatantly obvious. As is often true when Satan tries to mislead God's faithful, there was some truth in the teaching, just enough to give it authenticity, but the end result is just a lie.

So...let's have a little talk about this mutual submission concept, shall we?

First, let's take a look at the verse Mr. Stanley quotes as the overarching principle that should rule our homes:

submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.
Ephesians 5:21 (HCSB)

Well, dang! Looks like I was wrong! Looks like we are supposed to submit to one another. After all, wouldn't that be easier? Wouldn't it just be easier if Doctor "Feel Good" was right, and Josiah has to submit to me, too? Off...the...hook, right?

But what about the next verse? The one that reads:

Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord,
for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church.
He is the Savior of the body.
Now as the church submits to Christ,
so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything.
Ephesians 5:22-23 (HCSB)

That seems pretty clear, too. Hmmmm...

Here's the thing: Mr. Stanley quotes Ephesians 5:21 and calls it the ideal (which he's correct about), but says that it's the overarching principle that should rule our homes. Then, he says that the instructions to wives, husbands, and children that follow represent what it looks like in the home. 

Once again, sounds pretty plausible, right? So maybe I AM wrong?!

Maybe we should take a look at Ephesians 5:21 in context. Good exegesis (exactly what it meant at the time and to the audience to whom it was written) and the subsequent hermeneutics (how it applies to our lives) always means looking at the scripture in context

So, here it is:
Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk - not as unwise people but as wise - making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don't be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. And don't get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit:  
speaking to one another
in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs,
singing and making music
from your heart to the Lord,
giving thanks always for everything
to God the father
in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,
submitting to one another in the fear of Christ. 
Ephesians 5:18-21 (HCSB)
These are instructions on what the Christian life should look like: indeed, the ideal. It is the picture of the fully mature Christian, who has grown all the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

Is that you? Is that me? Nope. Net yet. Paul knew that when he was writing it, so you know what he gave us? Instructions on how to get there. Thus...instructions to wives, husbands, and children.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, you'll note that all of these verses were taken from my Bible, the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). This translation is very similar to the New International Version (NIV). Both are very committed to accuracy and the original intent of the writers. At times, I use them almost interchangeably.

However, there are times when they differ slightly, and this is one of those times. The NIV shows Ephesians 5:21 as being a separate sentence, all by itself, within the context of how to relate in a family, instead of as part of consistency in the Christian's life.

Why, then, did I choose the HCSB version over the NIV? Because in situations like this, the NIV (like many other versions) have often chosen to translate terms within a more socially acceptable light, as opposed to sticking with the author's initial intent. (One example of this is the Greek word for "slave," which the NIV translates a lot of the time as "servant," but historically and linguistically, the word means nothing other than "slave." A lot of translations made the change because of the negative connotation of the word in Western society, but unfortunately, it changes the meaning of a lot of passages significantly. The HCSB, on the other hand, translates it accurately. For more information on this, you should read Slave by John MacArthur.)

Furthermore, it makes more sense. Does it really make sense to you that parents are to submit to their children? Not so much. We ABSOLUTELY serve our children, completely sacrificially, but we don't submit to them. That's a formula for disaster.

There's another way I know Mr. Stanley didn't do his due diligence when creating this familial concept of mutual submission. He says:
This principle has nothing to do with authority….It has everything to do with what we do with our authority. This has nothing to do with who makes the decisions. It has everything to do with how we approach the decision making process" (emphasis added). 
Once again, there's some truth in that. Jesus came to serve us, and in turn, we should serve one another. Yes. Many verses back that up.

BUT...he says it has nothing to do with authority, and that...that's malarkey.

Josiah and I hosted The Art of Marriage at our church just a couple weeks ago (FANTASTIC, by the way. We plan to host another in November), and there's an interesting little tidbit I noticed on page 58 of the participant book. It's entitled, The Meaning of Kephale ("head"), and it reads as follows:
Dr. Wayne Grudem, in his effort to defend a biblical view of the roles in marriage, sought to inspect every use of the Greek word kephale, which is translated "head" in Ephesians 5:23. He found 2,336 occurrences of the word in ancient Greek literature, and in every instance, it was used to mean "authority over/ruler." He went on to assert that "no examples have ever been found where person A is called the 'head' of person B and person A is not in a position of authority over person B."
 Huh. You don't say? 2,336 occurrences, and every single one has to do with authority? Very interesting. It would seem, then, that Ephesians 5:23 has everything to do with authority. Everything.

This also negates something said in the other article my pastor friend gave me to reinforce his idea of mutual submission. That one claimed that Ephesians 5:23 has nothing to do with God's words to Eve after the fall of man in Genesis: He said to the woman: I will intensify your labor pains; you will bear children in anguish. Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you. (Genesis 3:16).

I don't know about y'all, but, particularly in the light of Dr. Grudem's research, those seem totally related.

Now, should a husband love (agape), his wife as Christ loved the church? Completely sacrificially, putting her well-being over his own? Well, absolutely, but it's like we say in our house...you need to worry about yourself. 

As wives, we have to be concerned about our responsibility in the marital relationship because that's what God calls us to do, and it's our submission to HIM, and our relationship with HIM, that compels our obedience to scripture, and therefore, our submission to our husbands.

Can I get an AMEN?! (Apparently, Mr. Stanley doesn't believe in saying Amen in his church either, he says in the video. So, I say it out of complete defiance. AMEN.)

The final nail in the coffin for me, regarding Mr. Stanley's presentation, was his little blurb to non-Christians in the audience at the very end. He thanks them for being there and says he's glad to have them (Awesome! I'm on board with that), and then he tells them that they don't have to be Christians for this to work in their families. He says, You can be a better family if you use this without being a Christian family.

And that was it. He made no mention of why they need Christ in their lives. None. No mention of being lost or brokenness. No mention of needing the Spirit of Christ in you in order to attain the ideal he talks about in Ephesians 5:21. None.

In that one little bit, he reduces Jesus from the Savior of mankind, whom we all need because we're all hopelessly lost without him, despite how great of a life we THINK we might live according to earthly standards, to a new age self-help guru.

You don't need to be saved. Just apply this principle, and you, too, can have a really groovy family dynamic!

Those weren't his exact words, but that's the end result.

Here's a good measuring stick. If your family exhibits all the other signs that you're completely spiritually mature - speaking to one another all the time in psalms and hymns, singing and making music from your heart to the Lord, and constantly giving thanks to God - then you've attained full Christ-likeness. Congratulations!!

However, if your family is like mine - you love, but you still struggle with being sinful and prideful and controlling and fearful - then please, follow your portion of the instructions Paul gives at the end of Ephesians.

Submission isn't easy ladies, I know. Some of you have husbands whom, you feel, are not fit leaders or have no interest in leading. Some of your husbands are talking the talk, but they're walking over in left field. Some of you aren't even married to believers. It's hard. That's why we need Jesus. 

I plan on writing another post later about biblical submission, in general, but I will say this: it is not being a doormat, but making a conscious decision obey God and trust in His word, to abandon fear and take up the breastplate of righteousness, covering our hearts in the safety of our Lord.

In fact, we are not weak, but warriors for God, taking up His full armor, fighting against Satan's influence in our lives and in the lives of our families.

Biblical submission is powerful, ladies. It is not weakness in the family, but strength in our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Wives, in the same way, submit to your own husbands so that,
even if some disobey the Christian message,
they may be won over without a message
by the way their wives live when they observe your pure, reverent lives.
Your beauty should not consist of outward things
like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes.
Instead, it should consist of what's inside the heart
with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit,
which is very valuable in God's eyes.
For in the past, the holy women who put their hope in God
also beautified themselves in this way,
submitting to their own husbands, 
just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.
You have become her children when you do what is good
and are not frightened by anything alarming.
1 Peter 3:1-6 (HCSB, emphasis added)