Are we Busy or Distracted?

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary by Diego Rodriguez DaSilva y Velázquez

 

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”” Luke 10: 38-42

Wait. Read that passage again. Two more times, maybe?

I have been mediating on this passage and it came to my attention that Martha’s problem was not necessarily being busy, it was something else.

Martha was busy at her home, and she understood that hospitality is a big word that implies big work. She got that part and that is good. But keep reading. Her problem was not that she was busy doing what needed to be done, hers was a heart problem that is seen as follows:

1. Martha was distracted by much serving. Much serving was not the problem, having a house full of guests, or littles at home to feed or grown-ups to listen to, or having to make extra soup for a friend in need, or classes and papers to grade, and doctors’ appointments to make, and laundry and exams, and a husband to embrace and a friend in need to listen to are not the real problem. The problem is how that busyness, how that much serving can distract our hearts and draw our attention to something else that will destroy our relationship with God and others.

Jeremiah Burroughs in his book, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, says that Christian contentment is “opposed to an unsettled and unstable spirit, whereby the heart is distracted from the present duty that God requires in our several relationships towards God, ourselves and others.

This is exactly what I see in the passage. Martha’s heart got distracted and her heart became unsettled and unstable. Instead of looking at Jesus, the object of her service, she looked at herself and in turn, her eyes veered to her sister in comparison.

2.  Notice that after Martha’s heart is distracted, she turns to Jesus, but not to listen to Him. He looks to Him in order to complain. How could He have missed the fact that she was doing more than Mary? How could He not see her diligent service and her sister’s poor attitude towards their duties?

Jesus’ answer goes directly to the heart of the matter. He does not address the “how-much-I-am-doing vs. the-how-much-she-is-not-doing” argument (that we moms have heard from our children too often, just like our Heavenly Father has heard from his children more than often!). Martha’s problem was anxiousness, a troubled heart -not busy hands, and also the fact that she started comparing herself with her own sister. She wanted Jesus to make her an example before Mary. Martha clearly had not learned contentment in the midst of a busy day.

Again we read Jeremiah Burroughs’ wise words: “[Christan contentment] is opposed to murmuring and repining at the hand of God…” and “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious, frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.”

How challenging and fitting it is for us to read this passage. Many of us are in a season in which our lives are full, trying to do less is what we dream of, but in reality we just can’t.  But we can do one important thing: check the attitude of our heart in the midst of all those busy moments. In doing so, we will be choosing “the good portion” that Jesus wants us to choose.

So let’s check our own heart: Am I continually and quietly murmuring and complaining -even in prayer? Is it my tendency to be distracted in my heart only to find myself comparing my days with those of my neighbor? Can I see my present condition and my hands full, and praise God and see Him and listen to Him as I come and go? Or am I using this busy season in my life only as an excuse to not come to Jesus to worship Him?

“A Christian knows that he should not be diverted by small matters, but should answer every distraction, and resist every temptation.” Jeremiah Burroughs.

Grace upon grace,

Becky

Time to Do What the Lord Wills

 

Photo Print by Laura Evans on Etsy

Some encouraging -and convicting- words from the pen of Elisabeth Elliot on the Discipline of Time:

“My times are in thy hand…” has become a part of my life. When the Lord has left me in agony of waiting over some decision, these words have put me a rest. His timing is always perfect, though it seldom seems to me, for my temperament longs for previews of coming attractions.”

 

There is always enough time to do the will of God. For that we can never say, “I don’t have time.” When we find ourselves frantic and frustrated, harried and harassed and “hassled,” it is a sign that we are running on our own schedule, not on God’s”

On our way too long to-do lists:

“But the lists must be reviewed daily with the Lord, asking Him to delete whatever is not on His list for us, so that before we go to bed it will be possible to say, “I have finished the work You gave me to do.””

Are you feeling frustrated and worried about your endless lists of things to accomplish and places to go? Maybe it will be a good idea to be reminded of these simple truths:

“Frustration is not the will of God. Of that we can be quite certain. There is time to do anything and everything that God wants us to do. Obedience fits smoothly into His given framework. One thing that most certainly will not fit into it is worry.”

 

“Direct your time and energy into worry, and you will be deficient in things like singing with grace in your heart, praying with thanksgiving, listening to a child’s account of his school day, inviting a lonely person to supper, sitting down to talk unhurriedly with wife or husband, writing a note to someone who needs it.”

 

“People wish they had more leisure time. The problem is not too little of it, but too much of it poorly spent.”

On our time spent with the Lord:

“Time management…begins for the Christian with time set aside for God. Other things cannot fall into a peaceful order if this is omitted.”

All these quotes come from the book, Discipline: The Glad Surrender.

Becky

The Two Objects Needed to Make a Home

 

Peasant Family at the Dinner Table by Jozef Israëls

What a great a read is Bed and Board: Plain talk About Marriage by Robert Farrar Capon. I am absolutely loving this book. I posted some quotes from the first four chapters here, and today I want to share with you a few more quotes from chapters 5 and 6.

“I usually say that you need only two things, two pieces of matter, to make a home: a bed and a table. It’s an oversimplification, but it’s a good one…For Bed and Board are the fundamental geographical divisions of the family; they are the chief places, and it is in them and around them that we dance the parts we are given.”

“He who perished by a tree is saved by a tree. He who died by an apple is restored by eating the flesh of his Saviour. Our lust is to be healed by being brought down to one bed, our savagery tamed by the exchanges around a lifelong table. Bed, Board, rooftree and doorway become the choice places of our healing, the delimitations of our freedom. By setting us boundaries, they hold us in; but they trammel the void as well. By confining, they keep track of us -they leave us free to be found, and to find ourselves. The vow of lifelong fidelity to one bed, one woman, becomes the wall at the edge of the cliff that leaves the children free to play a little, rather than be lost at large. Marriage gives us somewhere to be.”

“The bed is the heart of the home, the arena of love, the seedbed of life, and the one constant point of meeting. It is the place where, night by night, forgiveness and fair speech return that the sun go not down upon our wrath; where the perfunctory kiss and the entire ceremonial pat on the backside become unction and grace. It is the oldest, friendliest thing, in anybody’s marriage, the first used and the last left, and no one can praise it enough.”

“We were meant to meet, to sustain and to ease each other, and in the marriage bed we lie down to do just that. It is an island in a sea of troubles, where there is nothing else to do but rest and refresh. Yet how resourceful we are, with our turned backs and stubborns silences, or with our interminable pouts and dreadful debates about What’s Wrong With Us.”

“People admit is hard to pray. Yet they think it’s easy to make love. What nonsense. Neither is worth much when it is only the outcropping of intermittent enthusiasm. Both need to be done without ceasing…”

“The table can make us or break us. It has its own laws and will not change. Food and litter will lie upon it; fair speech and venom will pour across it; it will be the scene of manners and meanness, the place of charity or the wall of division, depending. Depending on what is done with it, at it and about it. But whatever is done, however it enters, it will allow only the possible, not the ideal. No one has ever created the Board by fiat. God himself spread his table, but Judas sat down at it. There is no use in thinking that we all have to do is wish for a certain style of family life, and wait for it to happen. The Board is a union of thing and persons; what it becomes depends on how the thing is dealt with by the persons.”

“The Board will always give birth to liturgy.”

“[I]t is precisely the absence of visible liturgy that nowadays makes the common life less obvious to common men.”

“Few of us have very many great things to care about, but we all have plenty of small ones; and that’s enough for the dance. It is precisely through the things we put on the table, and the liturgies we form around it, that the city is built; caring is more than half the work.”

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

The Feminist Mistake by Mary Kassian -My Review-

A professing Evangelical woman today will try to say that she is not a Feminist, that she only believes that in marriage (and Church) there should be no hierarchies, that in Christ we all are one and that we, wives, are not longer called to submit to our own husbands, instead we are both (husband and wife) called to submit to one another.  Is this even possible?

Mary Kassian’s book: The Feminist Mistake, The Radical Impact of Feminism on Church and Culture is an extremely important book in all this “gender debate” issue. And it is important because of at least three reasons:

1. It helps us understand the origins, the philosophical and theological views of Feminism and how it found its way into the Church.

2. It also help us understand how it is impossible to be a Feminist and a Christian. You can’t embrace both. Feminism always leads to a “new kind” of theology which has its own hermeneutic methods to interpret the Scriptures, so that it would be able to “support” its own beliefs.

3. It helps us understand that the so called “gender-debate” (egalitarianism vs complementarism), goes beyond the issues like “who takes the final decisions at home.” Feminism leads, little by little, to a complete non-Biblical view of God, and the world.

Kassian’s book is well written, clear, and engaging. It is also well researched and it includes a great number of references. Mary Kassian’s approach is objective, and does not deal with the subject as if she were in a “witch hunt,” she presents a professional historical account, and always from a solid Biblical standpoint.

The book is divided in two parts: The Philosophical Quake and Shock Waves

The first part is subdivided in three stages:

1. Naming Self (here she explains how women decided to name themselves, instead of letting God name them, define who they are).

2. Naming the World  (two of the things she deals about in this stage are: Women-centered Analysis of Theology and Women’s Studies in colleges).

3. Naming God (the feminization of God, and women and their place in the Church are discussed here).

In the second part of her book, Kassian deals with the advent of “biblical feminism,” the hermeneutic methods they use to sustain their “egalitarian” position, the  “what-to-do-know” kind of questions, and what will happen next if we refuse to see the danger feminism represents and we neglect to stand firm against it.

I would like to share with you some quotes on the matter of Feminism and Theology:

“In order to harmonize feminism and religion, Daly found it necessary to reject the theology that presented God as omnipotent, immutable, and providential, for she believed that this view discouraged women from seeking change. Furthermore, she viewed images of a jealous and vengeful God as projections and justifications for the role of the “tyrant father in patriarchal society” rather than as actual aspects of God’s character. The concept of an almighty, all-powerful, unchangeable, caring, providential God, jealous and demanding worship, was, according to Daly, an inadequacy in the conceptualization of basic doctrines which sustained and perpetuated androcentric theological teachings.” (p.47)

 

“Feminist theolgians, therefore, took the liberty of discarding passages of the Bible that did not agree with their vision of sexual equality. They either dismissed the text as outdated -relative only to a particular time and culture- and the author of the text as misogynistic, or they interpreted it and assigned it a meaning different from what the author had intended. The dynamic view of the Bible that feminists adopted allowed them to adjust biblical interpretations in order to make the Bible relevant to the problems and  perspectives of women in contemporary culture. Feminists argued that biblical interpretation could and should change.” (p. 108)

 

“Traditional symbols of the church had presented God as “He” and as King, Lord, and Judge. Feminists maintained that these religious symbols excluded women. The symbols needed to be updated to accommodate the new feminist consciousness. According to feminists, linguistics symbols of the Bible and church, as well as of God, needed to be altered in order to bring them into line with the inclusive equality of women.” (p.162)

Ruether and Stendal, two influential feminist theologians, said that “those who imaged God as male were guilty of idolatry,” and that “those who believed that God was, in some way or another, male were guilty of idolatry.” The author rightly responds,

“…by changing the biblical symbols, Russell altered and renamed God. This is a serious matter. For if feminism’s altered view of God is out of synchronization with who God really is, as He has revealed Himself, then it is not really God whom they are imagining and worshiping; and this is the idoaltry that the Bible condemns.” (p.168)

When women start re-naming God and try to de-sexualize Him, what they end up doing, according to the author’s analysis, is they depersonalized God, they attack God’s character,  they deny the Trinitarian relationship, they obscure the person and work of Christ, they obscure humanity’s relationship to God, and their own personal identity (p.168-173).

If you read this book carefully, you will clearly see the philosophical progression of feminism.

Mary Kassian says,

“While I do not deny that feminist vary in political theory and theology, I maintain that are all part of a larger continuum that supersedes and encompasses those variations. A feminist, at any given point in time, may not see herself or himself at the radical end of the movement, and I am certain that some individuals will never change their personal views to that extent. But the dissociation of one’s brand of feminism from the remainder of the feminist movement is a naive denial of reality. The philosophical progression of feminism is both coherent and logically immanent.” (p.241)

Maybe you are one of those who “sees feminism as an ideology that merely promotes the genuine dignity and worth of women.” Read what Mary Kassian wisely says on the matter:

“If this were true (the statement above), feminism would definitely be compatible with Christianity, for the Bible does teach that women and men are of equal value in God’s sight, co-created as bearers of God’s image. But the philosophy of feminism adds a subtle, almost indiscernible twist to the basic biblical truth of woman’s worth. Feminism asserts that woman’s worth is of such a nature that it gives her the right to discern, judge, and govern that truth herself… Feminism does not present itself as at outright affront to the Bible, but it nevertheless contains an insidious distortion that erodes the authority of the Scripture. Acceptance of the feminist thesis may not drastically alter one’s initial beliefs, but if followed, it will naturally and logically lead to an end miles away from the Christianity of the Bible.” (p. 261)

What now? Why should you read this book if you are not a “biblical feminist” (or an egalitarian)? I assure you, sisters, that the rise of this movement is coming more rapidly and with more fury than we can even start to imagine. We need to be ready to discern it and be well grounded in the Word of God to be able to teach our daughters (and sons) the dangers of this lie.

Let us press hard and embrace our precious and wonderful calling which is good, because God said so. Let us not be afraid, sisters, to be named by God, to embrace the beauty of our place in His story.

Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man’” Genesis 2:23

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

Mary Kassian blogs at Girls Gone Wise, and True Woman

 

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Love and Respect Your Calling

Because this is too important not to read….

“Love and respect are both very transformative. A loved woman becomes more and more lovely, and respected men become more and more respectable. We all know this at a foundational level. It is true all over the world that when someone bestows love on something or someone, change is visible. I am not talking simply of emotions here – I mean the action of loving, or the action of respecting. Emotions follow actions, and it is one of the great myths of our time that love is an uncontrollable force, coming and going in ways beyond human control.”  Read the rest over at Femina today.

Becky

Because We Love Friends

This is true, we love our friends.

Friends who cry with us, friends who need that we cry with them.

Friends who listen and friends who need to be listened to.

Friends who laugh and others who need our laughter.

Friends who encourage and others who need encouragment.

Friends who support us in prayer, friends who need our prayers.

Friends.

We women are especially willing to engage in deep friendships, we love to talk and encourage others and just be friends; but as I teach my daughters about friendship, I need to go deeper and teach them, really teach them, about this issue which can build them up or tear them down.

I have seen this, I have been at a Starbucks by myself trying to read a book and suddenly the conversation besides me  calls my attention. A group of women, all loud, all “friends”, and their words are only words that destroy their husbands and children. It is almost like a competition to see which one of their husbands is the worst, the meanest, the less preapared, and the least affectionate.

It is true, these women are probably not Christians, but I have also seen this particular way of conversing around a table in which the women around it call themselves Christians. The difference? They do exactly the same, but add the words “Please, help me pray for my husband or my children….”

Mary, a woman who found favor in the eyes of the Lord, learned from the beginning a valuable lesson that we, women who fear the Lord, must learn; the Bible says that  “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart…” (Luke 2:19)

Who are our friends? What do we talk about around a coffee table? Is it about the weaknesses of our husbands or children? Are we gossiping in the form of  “prayer requests”? What is in our heart? Let us pray to the Lord and ask Him forgiveness if we have done this.

Every time we open up the secrets of our home over a coffee table, we are walking away from wisdom, away from prudence, away from understanding; in the book of Proverbs 2: 9-13, we read:

“For wisdom will come into your heart,
   and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
  discretion will watch over you,
   understanding will guard you,
   delivering you from the way of evil,
   from men of perverted speech”

Women dress up beautifuly to meet with their friends, yet they often forget what the Bible teaches about a woman who is not discreet:

“Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
   is a beautiful woman without discretion.”

Proverbs 11: 22

I want to teach my daughters all these and now that they are young, they are already learning that it is not Biblical to talk about their parents’ or brother’s mistakes in the company of others. They are learning that certain things need to be kept inside our home.

If you are really in a desperate situation, don’t go over to a coffee table, go first of all to your husband, and then go to an elderly woman in the Church in whom you know you can trust.

Friends,  godly friends are a gift from God. I have been greatly blessed with many women in my life who love God and love their families so much that they do not come to our coffee table to tell the me all about the sins of their husbands and children. They honor them, they are grateful, they build wisely, and walk in prudence. For this I am thankful.

“Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets,
but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.”

Prov 11:13 ESV

I have also learned that if I want to honor my husband and our relationship, I should come always to him first. He is my Beloved, he is my best friend, he is the one who holds my hand in the night. I should never choose oher friends over his friendship. Whenever I share about a personal struggle with a friend, he knows about it. He is never left out.

My friends have helped me be a better wife, a better mom; they have encouraged me to good works, to grow in my sanctification, and for this I am grateful. 

We insist to our children about the importance of choosing excellent friends, godly friends? Do we hold the same standard for ourselves?

Do we choose wisely?

I pray I will always do.

“Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets;
therefore do not associate with a simple babbler”
Prov 20:19 ESV

“The righteous chooses his friends carefully
but the way of the wicked leads them astray”
Prov 12:26 ESV

May you find today beautiful opportunities to bless your friends.

The pictures were taken in a trip with my best friends, my husband and my sister with her husband. We had a wonderful time. It was a gift indeed!

A book which helped me grow into the woman I am now is this:

The Fruit of Her Hands

 
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We will start the conversation Tuesday, October 12. 
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This post is linked to Raising Homemakers