Have Faith, But be Faithful

I first learned about “Girl Power” when I was 3 years old.  My earliest memory was standing on the pier in Vancouver waving by-by to Daddy wile he rode away on a B.C. Ferry to the Island for what would be his last stay at Rehab.  He had a drinking and anger problem, and he loved my mom and us kids furosicousialy, so he was dealing with his issues.  My dad has been clean and sober for coming on 30 years.  He is a great dad and always has been.  But thats not the point of this story.

I still remember the feeling of confusion, “where is daddy going?” I remember wondering if he was coming back, and I will never forget how my mom stood looking out to sea wile her hair was teased by the ocean breeze.  The sun was setting pink and orange and she was beautiful, she looked like she could carry the world.  I didn’t know if we would see daddy again but I knew as long as we still had mom everything was going to be ok.

That was the moment I first saw Girl Power.  And my admiration for strong woman grew. Dads faviriot catch phrase was, “I like my tea weak and my women strong.”  I fell in love with Ma Ingauls from “Little House on the Prairie” and Michaela Quinn from “Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman”  I wanted to be like them, strong, lovely, gracious and wise.  I wanted to have a voice and help the marginalized, I was going to make a difference.  My father encouraged me to be who I wanted to be, the concept of blue and pink jobs never entered my mind.  My mom was a leader in church with children ministry and contributed in spiritual conversations.  My value as a woman and my value in Christ was never questioned.  I was a image bearer and equal partner in the Great Commission.

When I graduated and left home, everything changed.

I was introduced to a extremely chauvinistic work environment and what you might call old school church structures.  I learned that I was just a little girl in a mans world and I didn’t have a voice or a opinion or equal opportunities.

Men with authority, in both the church and the work place spoke opinions and partial truth into my theology and by the time I had absorbed the teaching and terrible advice I had lost my holding to the Love of a Heavenly Father and was surrendered to a Dictating Man upstairs who taught Church was for men and if I wanted to participate there were always undesirable jobs for woman to do.

My Faith was solid, but my theology was flawed and far from functional.

But thats not the point of this story either.  It is to say for too many years I have struggled with certain teachings about woman and our place in the church.  I have not questioned the truth of the words.  But rather the Love behind them seemed like limitations on my service oppoturinities.  And I am not going to say more then that because in recent years I have plainly just gotten tired of the same old conversations and refuse to have them anymore.  I believe all scripture is God breathed and for our benefit and I will leave it there.  So here is the point to all this.

Recentally I felt compelled to pray into this area of unrest in my heart and the Lord convicted me deeply,

Our conversation went a little like this…

God: You say you believe woman can’t be elders or pastors but you don’t accept that this is a direction of Love…

Jen: Because I don’t understand how it is Loving?  Im my knowledge of you I know you do all things out of Love but I just fail to recognize the Love in this one….

God: You would see it if you did these jobs.  You just have to trust Me.  You don’t have to justify it, just to accept it graciously.

Jen: You know I don’t want to struggle with this concept.  I don’t go looking for things to dought….

God: But you know the world is always going to encourage your worldly reactions and perspectives…

Jen: But faith is complicated.  How could we ever expect anyone to become a Christian if the answer is “You will never fully understand…”  “Just have faith….”

God: But faith is the whole point Jenny.  If you had nothing to exercise your faith on in the easy times, what would give you any hope in the hard times?  Knowledge doesn’t convict a heart to trust when it is scared.  Having exercised faith is how you will know to remain in my prevision when things get rough.  This is how I teach you to trust My Good will.

Jen: I guess I hadn’t thought of it that way…

You see I have missed the blessing of Christ growing my faith for all these years.  I had all the experiences to resent the teaching of truth and love in regards to those 2 little limitations in Church Structure.  But I also had all the resolve to accept what the Bible tells us is pure truth.  But I have wrestled with this teaching for many years, and defeated, I accepted the Doctrine but not recognized the Love in my impression of what I saw as a Limitation.

It really wasn’t about woman and church and that Law…  It was about my willingness to have Faith and Obey when I didn’t like the taste in my mouth.

And how helpful has that been over the years!  In my marriage, the trucker and I love each other deeply,  but we are both still self centred and flawed.  I have practiced my resolve to honour my heavenly Father so therefore, I had a idea how to honer my husband even when its hard.  When the Lord has asked hard things of me, like no more babies, or embracing hard friendships and letting others go.  Moving north or selling our home to buy land and be homeless with winter coming on….  I can step out with action because God has given me practice is walking around in the dark parts of faith.  The places you know you are meant to dwell but you can’t nessarially see the the whole path ahead.

With time spent exercising obedience and faith, in the face of little understanding you can trust even the scariest situation.  No, I am not overly brave and I still struggle, but I was encouraged at the promise of God leaning in and building my faith all these years.  My head was in the right place but my heart just couldn’t reconcile.  And now to look back and simply see the truth never change but I did and God never withheld His love and guiding hand,  I just needed to wrestle through long enough to see it.

This is a celebration of Gods goodness to the faithful.

Be strong and courageous do not be afraid!  The Lord your God is with you and He is growing you and you will see the fruits if you can just stay in the fight!  

Advertisements

Jars of Clay

Jars of clay are weak, they are fragile and break easily.  They were not designed to withstand long drops or bumpy rides.  Not without some kind of internal force keeping them together, holding them steady and stable.  So we conclude that they were intended to contain things.  Their function is simple, its humble structure would display no beauty alone and empty, but its purpose is held inside, with a great fragrance of destiny meant to be shared, between the vessel and its precious cargo.

Paul wrote a letter to the Corinthians and used clay jars as an example of how we are to reflect the function and purpose of this simple age old technology.

2 Corinthians 4:1-2a

Therefor, since though Gods Mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception nor do we distort the Word of God.  On the country   by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every mans conscious in the set to become the best, the brightest, the perfect performer we envision we shall become in the future.  We may not have obtained the required resources within ourselves at this time.  Under qualified and under funded with the merger means of our world view for the task at hand.  Regardless!  It is because of Gods great mercifully plan to use imperfect saints to sow seeds in perfect sinners.  Christ chose us for HIs great work, to accomplish great things for His Name sake.

Just like Satan in the garden “He didn’t really say you couldn’t eat form this tree…” manipulation.  Its the truth we believe the lies of this fallen world, that are pulling us down with it. Into a pit of self drought, self pity, and questioning our purpose and worthiness of a calling to victory.  A victory we have already been given at the cross.

Its simple, so present it as your simple truth.  As we live each day with this goal in mind to live, speak, and demonstrate the Truth, our lives and the lives around us will become more fulfilled, more fruitful, and spilling over the shallow sides of our clay jar.

2 Corinthians 4:7

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us.

You are a vessel simple and empty, so am I, and its the same old garbage in and garbage out.  But you have a better option; you have the capacity to be filled with power, might, passion, grace, beauty and a wonderful God who is generous in all ways.  All these things will radiate out from your jar as you focus on the giver of life and hope and wisdom.

Remember Gideon, and his megre army, they hid a lamp in their clay jars, and as the 300 approached the enemy camp, outnumbered 450 to 1 they broke the weak bonds of their jars, shouted the name of the Lord and victory was won.  Cause no one can stand against the light of the light maker.  The powerful become powerless when they stand against the One who created the rage of the ocean and the tower strength of the cedar trees.

Cause why shine like a candle stick when you can shine like a electric star?  For the maker of the stars has a light he is ready to see you radiate to the darkest corners of this world.  To the lonely places in our schools and in our care homes.  The integrity we are to infect throughout our work place and with in our business community.  The joy we are to infuse into our Sunday school children and our preschoolers in our homes for those few, short, tender years.  Like a sunflower reaching for the sky we can stand tall and allow the precious life changing cargo we carry within our hearts to shine upon a dark world.

1 Kings 17:16

For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.

And you remember the story of the obedient widow with starvation looming for her and her son.  But according to the direction she was given, she complied to the leading of the Lord, through the direction of His prophet.  Her jar stayed full and her life was saved.  It is life or death.  Is your jar empty…  are you starving for purpose and direction…  Are you floundering around in the dark looking for the light that the end of the tunnel…

Take hope, embrace your weakness as a clay jar and become filled with soothing, essential, power to be poured out like a healing balm on a hurting world.  Like a spring that will never run dry, accessible to you is the unending, refreshing and sustaining waters that will quench your driest thirst and sooth your aching soul.

Jeremiah 18:4

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

You must see our role in the death of Christ.  Each burden of our sinful ways we insist on carrying around with us.  From day to day we pack around the burdens we have grown accustom to, but that is not what we are destin for.  We are to be filled, not flattened under the heavy burden that is waiting to be lifted.  Lifted and placed at the foot of a battered cross, so that when we surrender our weakness and temptations at His feet we can open our hearts to be filled.  Filled like the custom vessel we are destine to be and to capture the vision of a future with no more cumbersome load, slowing us down from our given purpose.  No more bitterness or anxiety or rebellion, but peace and comfort in its place.  The place contentment is meant to dwell.  The place made by the master potter who formed us from dirt into clay jars made for His love. Labelled with His calling.