Homemaking Through Servanthood ~ at Satisfaction Through Christ

homemaking through servanthoodAnd you thought your homemaking leaves a lot to be desired…

My husband and I have five sons and one daughter, four of whom still live at home, two of whom I home school. My goal is to keep noticeable filth to a minimum while still maintaining some semblance of a life. Unexpected visitors who come to my door often hear the Lesley family motto, “Please excuse the mess, but we live here.”

That’s my homemaking.

Come on over to Satisfaction Through Christ, check out my new post, Homemaking Through Servanthood, and learn how Christ set the ultimate example of homemaking for our families.

And while you’re there, Be sure to check out our social media links: like STC on Facebook, follow on TwitterPinterestInstagram, and all our other outlets!

Posted in Christian women, Home, Marriage, Sanctification, Satisfaction Through Christ, Servanthood, Service, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunday School Lesson ~ 4-20-14

sunday school

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. If you have any questions or need more details, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 15 ~ Apr. 13-19
1 Samuel 18-31, Psalm 11, 59,7,27,31,34,52,56,120,140-142,17,35,54,63,18
Easter with the King: The Story of Nabal, Abigail and David

 

Since the whole Bible points to Jesus, the whole Bible tells the story of the gospel. Even the Old Testament. Even the story of David, Abigail, and Nabal.

1 Samuel 25:2-42

flock of sheep in israelFilthy Rich (2)
3000 sheep/1000 goats was definitely rich (even today it wouldn’t be too shabby). While cattle are more valued in our culture for their meat, milk, and leather, sheep and goats were more valued in Israel for these, and also for sacrifices. Sheep and goats were Israel’s “pantry on the hoof.”

I Pity the Fool (3)
The name “Nabal” means “fool.” As we have seen throughout the OT, names weren’t just random labels. They told something about the person’s character or life, where he was from, who he was related to, etc. Sometimes names were changed to reflect life circumstances: Ben-oni (son of my sorrow) to Benjamin (son of the right hand- Genesis 35:18), Naomi (pleasant) to Mara (bitter- Ruth 1:20), Simon (God has heard) to Peter (rock- Matthew 16:18).

It seems odd, even by Israel’s standards, to name an infant “fool,” but we have no way of knowing whether this was the case or whether he acquired this name later in life after earning it by his behavior.

“Abigail” means “My father is joy.”

An Offer You Can’t Refuse? (4-13, Deuteronomy 22:1-4, 18:7, 21:11, 15:7-8, Leviticus 19:10, 23:22)
This incident hits our Western ears as odd or inappropriate, even presumptuous or akin to extortion, but Middle Eastern hospitality etiquette and neighborliness, not to mention God’s Law was, and still is, much different from ours in many cases.

Nabal did not ask David to guard his shepherds and flocks. Indeed, he probably didn’t even know David was doing so unless the shepherds told him when they brought the sheep in for shearing. (And since “one cannot speak to him” {17} maybe they didn’t.) David, however, when he met up with the shepherds, took it upon himself, out of his own good will, to look out for them. Maybe he had sympathy for them because he had also been a shepherd.

michael-corleoneDavid and his men likely put their lives on the line numerous times protecting Nabal’s livelihood. And he didn’t do it with an “I scratch your back; you scratch mine” attitude, thinking he would later demand pay from Nabal. He also didn’t take advantage of the shepherds (such as extorting sheep/goats in exchange for protection) while they were with him. David was obeying the spirit of all those “good neighbor laws” we read about (ex: Deuteronomy 22:1-4). The law is not just “don’t harm your neighbor,” but also, “do good to your neighbor.”

Remember, these shepherds were alone out in the wilderness with the flocks. There was no police force or army to protect them from raiding bands of Philistines. If the Philistines saw a thousand goats and 3000 sheep and wanted them, they just took them and captured or killed the shepherds. No legal redress, no sheep insurance. Nabal’s entire portfolio was at stake. You would think once he found out what David had done –for free and out of the goodness of his heart—Nabal would be extremely grateful. But was he? Nope.

David’s men arrived, explained themselves, and asked politely for whatever food Nabal could spare (kind of hard to make groceries when you’re on the run living in caves). They did not demand his best, and they did not demand he provide enough for their entire company of 600 men. They had even come on a feast day when Nabal was celebrating his wealth, should have been in a good mood, and should have had plenty of extra food on hand. And notice this telling little phrase, “they said all this to Nabal in the name of David, and then they waited.” (9) Now here’s one way Middle Eastern culture is similar to Southern culture. If someone was standing there telling you about all those nice things he had done for you, how long would it take before you gleefully interrupted him and offered him everything under the sun in thanks? Well, Middle Easterners aren’t as shy about interrupting as we are, and furthermore, they would take it as the highest insult if you didn’t take everything they offered.

Not Nabal, though. First, he pretended not to know who David was. Pretty ridiculous, since David’s conquests were well known throughout Israel (18:7, 21:11- even outside Israel), not to mention the fact that he was next in line for the throne. Next, he insulted David’s men by accusing them of lying about working for David. Of course, if he had been interested in finding out whether or not that was true, he could have brought his shepherds in and asked them if these were the guys who had protected them.

David’s men went back and reported what had happened. David’s immediate response was for everyone to “strap on his sword.” It seems like kind of an extreme response to us, but we have to keep a few things in mind. First, the Law. Nabal was breaking both the letter and the spirit of it. While there was no specific law covering a band of mighty men coming to you and asking for food on a feast day, there were laws about taking care of people who were hungry and poor, such as the gleaning laws (Leviticus 19:10, 23:22).

Deuteronomy 15:7-8 says: “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.”

When we read through Ruth, we saw Boaz doing a great job of fulfilling this law for Ruth and Naomi. Here, Nabal is showing the exact opposite of Boaz’s kindness and generosity.

Second, Nabal’s actions showed disregard and ingratitude for God’s provision and blessing. God blessed Nabal with wealth and protected that wealth (through David) without Nabal even knowing about it. Do we see any evidence that Nabal was humbled that God should do such a thing for him, or thankfulness to God for what He had provided? No. We see only selfishness, stinginess, and a blatant disregard for God as sovereign provider.

Finally, David’s response was likely an answer to Nabal’s accusations. “He wants to know who David is? He wants to know whether or not my men are lying? Well, let’s go show him the answer to his questions and see if he changes his tune.”

The Go-Between (14-31, John 12:14-15)
Abigail was quite a remarkable woman. This was not the first time Nabal had acted this way. He had a long standing history of being harsh and worthless (“son of Belial” is also applied to Satan in 2 Corinthians). And here, Abigail was going behind his back and defying him. This was no small thing for any wife in Israel. But for Abigail, it could have meant a beating or worse when Nabal found out. It’s possible she was even risking her life. And for what? To save him. Without his knowledge that she was saving him. Without his knowledge that he even needed saving.

Why in the world would Abigail want to save someone who was probably making her life a living hell? She could have just let David and his men handle Nabal. Certainly he would have www-St-Takla-org--abigail-entreats-mercygotten what he deserved. But she stepped in because it was the right thing to do. It was right to obey God by providing for David and his men. It was even right to protect her husband from his own foolishness and bringing David’s wrath down upon himself. But even more, she did it because she loved God, and maybe even her husband, too.

She sent the gift on ahead (19) to appease David’s wrath, then presented herself to him on Nabal’s behalf. Notice that she got down off her donkey (23). Kings rode donkeys. Rich people and people of high standing rode donkeys. She left her wealth and position behind and got as low as she could get, bowing down, humbling herself, and submitting herself to David. For Nabal.

Then Abigail did something even more remarkable. She said (24-25), “On me alone, my lord, be the guilt. Please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant. Let not my lord regard this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he.” She—a completely innocent party to Nabal’s sin (25)—voluntarily takes on the guilt and consequences of his sin. (Is this starting to sound familiar?) In v. 28, she asked David to “Please forgive the trespass of your servant.” It wasn’t her trespass, but Nabal’s. She was asking forgiveness for him.

The King’s Response (32-35)
David blessed Abigail, not just for her prudence and godliness, but also because she had satisfied his wrath and kept him from exercising it on Nabal. Her gift was sufficient, and David granted her petition to extend forgiveness to Nabal.

Happily Ever After (36-42)
Well, except for Nabal. Abigail had to tell Nabal what she had done. She’d been gone for a while and had taken quite a bit of food out of the house. No sense trying to cover it up. Hopefully Nabal would be grateful she saved him from certain death. When she told him, did he repent? Humble himself? The text doesn’t say that he did. It says “his heart died within him.” It’s generally believed this means that Nabal had a stroke (especially since it further says that he “became as stone” and lived for ten more days). Did he become enraged at what Abigail had done, and this physical exertion contributed to a stroke? We can’t know for certain. What seems unlikely is that he genuinely repented, because God “struck Nabal and he died.” As we’ll see later with David, while we usually do suffer the consequences of our sin, God shows mercy and forgiveness to the repentant.

David was thankful he had not taken matters into his own hands and that God had handled the situation. Justice had been served. And for her faithfulness, Abigail—who considered herself the lowliest of servants, only fit to wash the feet of other servants—ascended to the position of Queen. Back on her donkey where she belonged, exalted out of humility to sit at the right hand of the king.

The Backstage Gospel (Psalm 14:1, Philippians 2:6-8, 9-11)
Often, in stories like this, the characters aren’t just playing themselves, they’re playing out the parts of the gospel.

As with Nabal, God blessed His people richly with life, family, provisions, and all kinds of other blessings she wasn’t even aware of. The people didn’t ask God to do these things. God, the Good Shepherd, did these things for them out of the goodness of His own heart, the same way David had done for Nabal. But, as with Nabal the fool, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good.” (Ps. 14) The same way David presented himself to Nabal and told him what he had done for him, God, over and over, reminded Israel of the way He had protected and provided for them. But just as Nabal rejected David, so, Israel rejected God, and rebelled against Him in favor of their own sin and selfishness. And, like David, God’s wrath was inflamed.

Enter Jesus. Just as Abigail intervened on behalf of Nabal, Jesus intervened on behalf of Israel and all mankind. Just like Abigail, He laid down His life to save us. Before we ever knew Him. Before we ever knew we needed saving. Why? Why would He even want to save us Nabals? He could have let God exercise His wrath on us. We certainly deserve it. But in the same way that Abigail acted in love and in doing what was right, Jesus loved His Father and us enough to fulfill righteousness and to bring God glory by staying His hand of wrath.

In the same way that Abigail got down off her donkey, leaving behind all prestige and humbling herself to the lowest position possible—a servant only worthy of washing other hp-crossshadowservants’ feet— Jesus “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant [one who washed other servants’ feet], being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:6-8) And for whom? Us Nabals. “On me alone, my Lord, be the guilt,” Jesus said, even though, like Abigail, He was completely innocent. He voluntarily took on the guilt and consequences of our sin when He died in our place on the cross, and He did it to win forgiveness for us.

Jesus sent this offering of His life for the atonement of our sin on ahead of Himself to the Father, and God’s wrath was satisfied. Jesus’ offering was sufficient, and God granted His petition to extend forgiveness to the likes of us. And just as David picked Abigail up from her humility and she ascended to the position of queen, Jesus ascended to sit at the right hand of the King, and “God has highly exalted him [Jesus] and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:9-11)

This story didn’t have a happy ending for Nabal, because Nabal didn’t repent and submit himself to God. Nabal ended up taking the guilt and consequences for his sin himself (death) instead of gratefully humbling himself and being thankful for the gift of Abigail’s intervention and David’s forgiveness. But the rest of us Nabals can have a happy ending. Jesus has paid the price for our sin with His death, burial, and the resurrection we celebrate today. He completely satisfied the wrath of God on our behalf. It is finished. Forgiveness has been purchased with His blood. If we will humble ourselves, repent of our sin, and accept the beautiful gift of forgiveness God is extending to us at the request of His Son, we can be reconciled to God now and live happily in the ever after.

Posted in Easter, Forgiveness, Gospel, Old Testament, Salvation, Sunday School, Types and Shadows, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Cross in the Exodus

Michelle Lesley:

A re-blog in honor of Good Friday…

Originally posted on Michelle Lesley:

jesus-christ-cross-0204_phixr

I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and great acts of judgment.
I will take you as My people, and I will be your God.
You will know that I am Yahweh your God, 
who delivered you..
Exodus 6:6b-7a

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Never Forget…

Michelle Lesley:

A re-blog in honor of Good Friday…

Originally posted on Michelle Lesley:

9-11neverforgetNever forget.

We will remember.

The words jump off the page, off the screen, from our lips. A haunting breath whispering of unspeakable tragedy and heart rending grief.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 did something to this country. It changed our history. It changed us.

It was a despicable act of cruelty. People innocent of any crime against their executioners were brutally slaughtered in service to a god who demands the death of infidels.

It was egregious. Horrific. Abominable. And we will never forget. Nor should we.

Do this in remembrance of Me.

The words lie quietly on the page, beckoning us back to another day. A day dusty with the passing of centuries. But it changed our history. It changed us.

It was a despicable act of cruelty. Jesus, innocent of any crime, was brutally slaughtered by executioners serving a God who demands the death of infidels.

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Sacrificing Truth on the Altar of Tone

Ladies, do you believe in woman’s intuition? Do you have it? I’m not talking about premonitions- having a feeling that some future event is going to take place- I mean intuition. Being able, for example, to sense from a friend’s tone of voice that she’s having a bad day, noticing from the body language of two people who are “just friends” that romance is brewing beneath the surface, or discerning the tension between two people who are seemingly cordial to one another.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMaybe men have this “super power” too, but I’ve noticed it more with women. I believe it might have something to do with the way God has hard wired us. Nothing against men here (y’all are awesome in your own masculine way), but we women generally tend to be more sensitive to and concerned about other people’s feelings, we listen “between the lines,” and we hear and analyze tone of voice more. It’s one of the great things about the way God has created us that helps us as we nurture, comfort, and care for others.

But lately, I’m noticing that this “super power” of ours can also be a super problem.

Our sensitivity to tone (of voice, of writing, someone’s demeanor, etc.) is a hindrance rather than a help to us when we refuse to evaluate the content of what someone is saying to us simply because their manner of speaking, writing, or behavior has offended our sensibilities. This is especially harmful when that content is biblical truth.

I have recently observed several instances of this, all involving women who, at best, found it difficult (with some outright refusing) to put aside their feelings of offense at the writer’s or speaker’s tone in order to compare the content of his speech or writing to Scripture to see if it might be true. (And, by the way, the speech and writing I’m referring to here are sermons, commentary, and articles, not someone writing or speaking to these women personally.) I can sympathize. It’s happened to me plenty of times.

Often, when we hear a fellow Christian put biblical truth bluntly in black and white and it rubs us the wrong way, our first reaction is to quote part of Ephesians 4:15 and chastise him for failing to “speak the truth in love.” But is that the only point of Ephesians 4? Let’s take a look at it in context:

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Ephesians 4:11-16 (emphasis, mine)

MH900442219When I was in elementary school, one of the reading comprehension tasks we were often assigned was to find the “main idea” of a piece of writing. So, what is the “main idea” of this passage in Ephesians 4? I’ll even make it multiple choice (my favorite!).

Is the main idea of the passage:

a) Teachers and preachers should speak the truth in love so that they will not offend anyone.

b) A discussion of the different types of leadership roles in the church.

c) Christian leaders are to equip church members to grow to spiritual maturity which builds spiritually healthy and unified churches.

While the passage touches on some of the ideas in a and b, the main point is c. We’re to grow up. We are to listen to preachers, teachers, and writers who rightly handle God’s word, even if we come across one every now and then who steps on our toes with his demeanor or tone. Look, I know it’s hard. There are people out there who offend me sometimes, too, but persevering through the offense will grow us into mature women of Christ and make our churches healthier.

Statistically speaking, more women regularly attend church these days than men. And when I say “more,” I mean 61% women to 39% men. Can you imagine the impact it would have on the health of our churches if all of those women were pursuing spiritual maturity through biblical truth and sound doctrine?

Instead, we are often like a little girl in a burning building. The fireman is vehemently insisting that the little girl come with him to escape, and she refuses to move because he hasn’t said it nicely enough.

Ladies, I say this to all of us (including me) in love, because true love is desiring what’s best for someone:

It’s time for us to grow up. It’s time to stop taking our dollies and stomping home from the playground in a huff every time somebody speaks or writes strenuously. It’s time to stop crying about our hurt feelings, put on our big girl panties and be women.

Discerning women. Berean women. Women of God’s word. Women who can handle having our feathers ruffled and come out on the other side stronger for it.

9283e86a7bd7185b880df318c7681846Too often, we make the mistake of equating a soft tone of voice and a sweet disposition with “love”.  But many of the people who speak with this kind of “love” are not speaking the truth. They are smooth talking, charismatic con men selling snake oil for our souls.

If we’re not careful, we can become people who “will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4), or “weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:6b-7), or even “children unwilling to hear the instruction of the Lord; who say…“Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions,” (Isaiah 30:9-11).

We forget that our Master, the perfect embodiment of love, didn’t always speak softly and act politely when the gospel was at stake. Because there are things out there that are much more important than our feelings, and biblical truth is one of them.

Posted in Christian women, Church, Discernment, Sanctification, Uncategorized, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sunday School Lesson ~ 4-13-14

sunday school

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. If you have any questions or need more details, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Click here for last week’s lesson.

Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 14 ~ Apr. 6-12
Judges 19 – 1 Samuel 17
The King and I(srael)

Up until now, Israel has been under the leadership of Moses, Joshua, and a string of judges, including current prophet/judge, Samuel. But some of the elders have decided it’s time for a king. Why? Let’s take a look.

1 Samuel 8; 10:17-24

Why did Israel demand a king?

The cycle of the judges:
Israel was in a cycle in which: they would have a judge for several years and everything would go smoothly for them. throne1God would give them victory in battle (or peace), their harvests would be bountiful, etc. Then, the judge would die, Israel would get into idolatry again, things would go badly for several years, they would cry out to the Lord, the Lord would raise up another judge, and the cycle would start all over again.

Israel likely thought it was the lack of succession from one judge to another that was the cause of all the turmoil, and that if they had a kingship (with built in succession) the chaotic years would cease, and things would go smoothly from there on out. What they failed to realize was that it was their obedience to God that brought peace during the lives of the judges, not a seamless changing of the guard.

The appearance of strength:
Another reason Israel may have wanted a king was that it gave the appearance of strength to other nations. Without a king, neighboring nations probably viewed Israel as weak and vulnerable, leading to more attacks. Of course, this would lead Israel to depend more on the Lord, and that’s exactly what He wanted.

“Everybody else is doing it”:
Finally (8:5), they wanted a king “like all the nations.” Whether this was because they admired the other nations’ structure of government, economy, large armies, etc., or, because Israel wanted to look more prestigious (or stronger- see above) in the eyes of other nations, they were blind to the fact that they would have had things so much better under God’s Kingship.

 

Why didn’t God want Israel to have a king?

God was already their king.
Israel didn’t need a human king. God was far more capable than any human king of winning battles, providing for them, ensuring a good economy, establishing and enforcing law and order, etc.

God wanted Israel to look to Him for everything.
We tend to look to the President and Congress for worshipgovernance, the grocery store for food, our jobs for paychecks, our doctors for healthcare. God wanted Israel to look to Him for every aspect of their lives: government, provision, health, food, everything. Because He is sovereign over all that happens on earth and in heaven, He wants us to recognize that we should be looking to Him for these things as well. He wants us to realize that we are completely dependent on Him.

Israel’s desire for a king was another rejection of God, which brought Israel ever closer to severe judgment. (Isaiah 28:21, Ezekiel 18:23,32, 2 Peter 3:9)
Even though Israel deserved judgment for her many rebellions against God, judgment is a last, undesirable resort for Him. Isaiah tells us that judgment is God’s “strange work”. Ezekiel reminds us that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Peter writes that God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Small rebellions can lead to bigger rebellions. A loving parent knows this and tries to keep this from happening by disciplining his child. With a small rebellion, we might start out with a small discipline, such as taking away dessert. As the rebellions get bigger or more frequent, bigger discipline, stock_scales_justice2such as spanking or grounding might be appropriate.

Most children learn to control their behavior through these moderate forms of discipline, but a few may eventually become so destructive, addicted, or abusive that parents have to go to the extreme end of “tough love” by throwing them out of the house or turning them over to the authorities. It’s all done in love and all in an effort to bring the child home. This is exactly what was happening with the Israelites.

This is why God did everything necessary to keep Israel from His severe judgment. He carefully and specifically laid out the Law, promised them blessings for obedience and described the consequences for disobedience in gory detail, made examples out of people who disobeyed, offered forgiveness for repentance, gave them (initially) good and godly leaders (Moses, Joshua, the judges), and performed miracles to help them believe in Him. All this in an effort to stop their slide into total rejection of Him and the consequence of final judgment.

 

One last chance (8:10-18)

Israel could never say she hadn’t been warned. In these verses God told them directly and specifically exactly what their new king would be like, how he would treat them, and the consequences that would follow: confiscation of private property, slavery, God turning a deaf ear to their pleas for help. But still they demanded a king. This king God had just described. They were at the point of no return, and they plunged ahead despite the warning. Why?


Hearts of Stone (Ezekiel 11:19, Romans 1:22-25)
Just as a small rebellion can lead to bigger and bigger rebellions, a small hardening of the heart can eventually lead to a complete hardening of the heart.

In the movie Frozen, Elsa (the snow queen), accidentally frozen-anna-elsashoots an icicle ray (or whatever you call it) at her sister’s (Anna) heart, which causes Anna’s heart to slowly begin freezing bit by bit. If Anna doesn’t receive “an act of true love” before her heart completely freezes, she will turn into an ice statue forever.

This is similar to what was happening with Israel. Their continual rebellion was hardening their hearts against God bit by bit, until they would eventually be completely hardened against Him. Romans tells us that when people persist in ungodliness despite the many opportunities for mercy, grace, and salvation God has offered them, He eventually “gives them over” to a hardened heart. He gives them what they want: life without Him.

 

What does all this have to do with me? (Isaiah 55:9)

Everything. We are just like Israel in so many ways. We’re born into this world having already been shot through the heart with Satan’s “icicle” of sin, the sin nature we inherited from Adam and Eve. We spend our lives rebelling against God, our hearts slowly hardening, bit by bit, looking for another king (usually ourselves), so we can be just like everybody else, because what the world has to offer looks desirable to us.

But God doesn’t want us to have another king, because He’s already THE King, and He’s far better and more capable than any other king we could put on the throne of our lives. He wants us to look to Him for salvation, provision, comfort, strength, everything. So, God extends grace and mercy to us in a variety of ways, some pleasant, some not, to turn us towards the cross and Christ for salvation. He does this so that we can repent and turn to Him instead of facing the final judgment of hell in eternity.

Sometimes, we also see a similarity to Israel’s demand for a king in our prayer lives. We can ask, beg, and plead with God for things He doesn’t want us to have, and even get mad at Him when He doesn’t give us what we want. We must always keep in mind that His ways are higher than our ways and that what He wants for us is always better than what we want. Let us never get to the point in our prayer lives where our will is more important to us than God’s will. Israel’s way was, “No! But there shall be a king over us!” Jesus’ way was, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Let’s take our example, not from Israel, but from the the King of Israel, King Jesus.

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Real Ministers of Music’s Wives of Anychurch, U.S.A. ~ Part 2

diverse-group-of-women

I’ve been married to a minister of music for over 20 years. My husband has served at many different churches in a variety of capacities: on staff, interim, supply, revivals, conferences, retreats, etc. Over those 20+ years and in those various capacities, I’ve observed a number of things about him, pastors, church musicians, and congregations from a unique vantage point.

Now, with a little help and a lot of input from a few sister minister of music’s wives, it’s true confessions time. Time for us to tell all, here in Part 2 of Real Ministers of Music’s Wives of Anychurch, U.S.A. 

You can read Part 1 here.

Turn Your Radio On, and Listen to the Music in The Air
The minister of music understands that there are songs we love to sing along with on KLOVE or Pandora that we’d also like to sing in church, and, in a lot of cases, he’d probably like to, too. There are a variety of reasons why the songs we like might not get sung in church:

  •  It’s a solo. Most of the songs we hear on the radio (especially contemporary ones) are written and performed as solos, and don’t work for congregational singing because: the timing is difficult for a large group to follow, there are too many spontaneous riffs and change ups, there are complicated and/or numerous bridges and tags that are difficult for large groups to follow, etc. Not every song works for large group singing.
  • tube-radio-67772_640 The lyrics contain faulty or watered down theology. The minister of music’s job is to lead us in worship. We can’t worship if we’re singing something that conflicts with God’s word or doesn’t focus on Him and His nature, character, and deeds.
  • The accompanists aren’t comfortable with it. A lot of the songs people want to sing in the worship service can be difficult for pianists and other instrumentalists whose main experience is in other genres of music. While every musician should strive to improve his skills, the minister of music doesn’t want to put his accompanists on the spot if they’re uncomfortable with the technical requirements of the music.
  • Your minister of music isn’t comfortable with it. If the minister of music is in his 60′s he may not feel he can carry off a top ten CCM song made popular by somebody in his 20′s, especially if he doesn’t have a worship band equal to the one we’re used to hearing on the radio.
  • There’s no sheet music available. Or it’s not available in the right key or for the right instruments, etc.
  • It’s “off limits”. Occasionally, and for various reasons, the pastor, elders, or others in leadership over the minister of music will make a decision that a certain song is not to be used in the worship service. Depending on the circumstances, there may not be a diplomatic way to explain this to people who love that song and want to sing it in church.

play-piano-7626_640Play Us a Song, You’re the Piano Woman
Just by way of information, not every minister of music’s wife plays the piano. I’m one of them. Sorry. I wish I could.


One Singular Sensation
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Regardless of how many pop stars got their start by singing in church, the purpose of the worship service is to worship God. There are many wonderful and talented soloists who, in humility and faithfulness, pour their hearts out to God in song at their local churches and do a great job of it. There are also a few divas on their way up the ladder looking for a stepping stone to greatness. Church isn’t American Idol. Find a karaoke bar.

Show a Little Bit of Love and Kindness
It’s always encouraging for a minister of music to hear that he Fool boy is waiting his girlfrienddid a great job with the choir or that you really worshiped this morning. It’s encouraging when a pastor mounts the platform for his sermon and says thank you, or I really liked that song, or refers back to/quotes one of the songs during his sermon. Little things like that go a long way, so offer your minister of music a word of encouragement when you can.

Also, if your church participates in clergy appreciation month (usually the month of October), please don’t forget your minister of music, youth pastor, associate pastor, etc. They all work hard to shepherd you, and it doesn’t feel good to be left out.

War- What is it Good For?
The worship wars (contemporary worship music vs. traditional hymns) are alive and well. Sometimes, rather than being a general in that war, our minister of music might just be a casualty of it.

Competition

Everybody has particular genres of music that we’re most comfortable with. When a different style comes along, it can be jarring. It can cause angst. It can cause arguments. But when we worship God, our focus is not to be on what makes us happy or comfortable. Often, we get so concerned about whether the worship at church pleases or offends us that we don’t stop to think about whether it pleases or offends God.

But that’s the main concern of the minister of music. Which songs, regardless of style, will be pleasing to the Lord and lead people into truth about Him? While he’s trying to do his best to sort this out week by week, he’s possibly being pulled in a variety of directions by a variety of people over style. How many people will leave the church if we sing more hymns than contemporary songs? How many people will stop giving in the offering if we sing more contemporary songs than hymns? Who’s going to accost me after church and complain? How will the pastor and elders react to this week’s order of service? It can be a lot of pressure and take his focus off of where it needs to be: what will be pleasing to God?

Just as one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, the songs we don’t like might just be someone else’s favorite. What if we looked at singing the songs we don’t particularly like as a way to serve and encourage our brothers and sisters in the congregation who do like those songs?

Why’s Everybody Always Pickin’ on Me?
There’s no nice, sweet way to say this, so I’m just gonna throw it out there. Church members can sometimes be mean. thI mean, mean. Let me hasten to add that most of the time, most church members are not. The majority of church members are kind, loving, supportive, and definitely appreciated by the pastor and staff. However, the others are definitely out there. I have seen church members treat pastors, ministers of music, and other church staff the way I wouldn’t treat a dog. There’s no excuse for that.

The minister of music isn’t perfect. There may be times when he does something unbiblical or hurtful and at those times, it’s necessary for the appropriate person to talk with him, under the provisos of Matthew 18, about whatever is wrong. But there are other times when people get their feathers ruffled –even though the minister of music hasn’t done anything wrong or unbiblical—simply because their personal preferences haven’t been catered to.

It’s OK to talk with our ministers of music about things, even personal preferences, but let’s do it in an encouraging and helpful way rather than a griping or attacking way. Screaming, threatening, name calling, constant complaints, and nasty anonymous notes and emails are never appropriate, and if that’s what is transpiring, then the problem is not with the minister of music it’s with the person who’s acting that way. If we know that a member of our church is acting that way towards anyone, pastor, staff, or layperson, we must intervene and be a catalyst for making things right.

God calls us to encourage one another and build each other up, so let’s get at it! Let’s try to affirm our ministers of music (and pastors and other staff!) whenever we’re able!

 

What’s something you can do
to be an encouragement to your minister of music?

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