Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday Footprints


Hey ladies,

It’s F-R-I-D-A-Y! As we enter into the weekend, here are some cool and noteworthy links to check out:


Taking God at His Word is this month’s FREE audiobook. Click here to download it. 

Cbd.com has Fab Fridays where you can get deals on Bibles, Christian books and Mother's Day gifts. They are also having a promotion where you can tell why you love your local church, place #iheartMYCHURCH and have a chance to win a $1000 gift card. 

Set Apart Girl has the annual conference coming up on June 3-4, 2016. You can join them in Colorado or through simulcast. Learn more here.

An encouraging quote for you:

“To me, a Lady is not frilly, flowery, flippant, frivolous and fluff-brained, but she is gentle. She is gracious. She is godly and she is giving. You and I have the gift of femininity…the more womanly we are, the more manly men will be and the more God is glorified…. Be women. Be only women. Be real women in obedience to God.” – Elisabeth Elliot

May you have a great weekend!
In Christ,
Joanna, Megan, Krista, Emily & Victoria

Monday, April 25, 2016

Tales from Taiwan #14


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Dear sisters,

The past two weeks I have heard comments from my students like "You are Teacher Joanna, right?!  Your voice sounds so strange!" or "You need to drink more water for your voice!" or my all-time favorite, "Teacher, you sound like a boy!"  

Yes, I am recovering from a bad bout of bronchitis where I lost my voice.  Losing your voice as a teacher is one of the worst things ever.  I'm just thankful for friends who helped give me creative ideas on how to teach classes without speaking!  I am so glad for worksheets, coloring pages and chalkboard exercises that don't require my voice.  Another big blessing is that my students were super understanding and supportive and very well behaved!

As I'm still recovering my health and my voice, it makes me grateful for all the times I have had my voice and take it for granted.  Thankfully I'm improving but in the meantime I kind of sound a little strange!

Through all this, God has been showing me how important words really are.  Reminds me of that verse in Proverbs 18:21 that says "death and life are in the power of the tongue".  This is especially important as someone who works with children on a regular basis.  God has been reminding me that what I say can impact them positively or negatively.  Or when I make a promise, I need to keep it.

For example, last semester one of my students Brian (*name changed) invited my friend and I to his birthday party.  He invited us two months in advance.  Then the date came up and I realized we didn't have a way of contacting him and we didn't know the party time.  So we guessed and went to his village.  When we arrived at Brian's house, all was quiet and I was disappointed that we had evidently missed the party.

However, when Brian came to the door and saw us standing there, he smiled like it was the most natural thing in the world that his two American teachers showed up late for his party.  When I asked Brian if he was surprised we remembered and came, he shook his head and said, "I knew you would come because you said you would.  So I just prayed that you would come and that was all."

Brian's words have stayed with me and recently God brought them to mind again as I've been sick.  Words are powerful!  So as we start another week of students, I'm praying that my speech will be uplifting, encouraging and most importantly, point others to Christ.  I pray the same for you wherever God has you right now.  May He season your speech with His grace!

For Him in Taiwan,
Joanna

Friday, April 15, 2016

Biblical Womanhood Misconceptions: Conclusion

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What do you think of when you hear the phrase, "Biblical Womanhood"? Maybe it makes you smile. Maybe it makes you cringe. Maybe you picture one of the misconceptions we've written about, or another one.

But does it sound powerful to you? Glorious, important, strong and beautiful?

Because that, lovelies, is what it is. That is God's vision for us as His daughters.

This kind of femininity is under strong attack these days. There are plenty of misconceptions and stereotypes,  and most people turn up their noses at the idea.

But it's under attack because Satan knows just how powerful it can be when we delight in the way we were created.

When He made us women, the capstone of His creation, it wasn't a demeaning position. To both Adam and Eve was given the command to "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Gen 1:28).

His first command. What does it mean for us as women?

To us he gave the power to be life-givers and nurturers.

To us he gave the command to rule. Girls, this means that we have real authority, capability, and responsibility from God to make the most of everything He has given us. Our talents, opportunities, possessions, relationships, education, thoughts, words, attitudes and more. The work we do matters.

He has entrusted so many things to us, and we are to be wise stewards. He's given us power. The woman who embraces God and all that He has made her to be is the one who lives Biblically. She is not someone with no opinion who stays in the corner: she is a warrior princess essential to this life-and-death battle of eternal importance that is going on in our world.

Girls, we are made in the image of God. Believers or unbelievers, we all are all little mirrors with some mini-versions of God's characteristics.

A Biblical woman is one who walks closely with Him and allows Him to shape her. By walking with Christ, she is continuously growing closer to Him and more like Him - and reflecting His glory to all who see her. She follows where he leads her, and contributes her skill and strength and passion to whatever opportunities and life season are given to her.

Really, it's not a list of rules to follow and check off (I need to have my own business like the woman in Proverbs 31 - check!). Because the truth is that if you are a daughter of God, you are this woman. He is working in you, and has promised never to stop. And the more you pursue this relationship, the closer you grow to him, the more you will grow into the mindset and role that he wants to play in this great story he's invited us into. And the more you become like him, the more you are free and the more you you become.

(Indebted to Barbara Mouser's "Five Aspects of Woman: A Biblical Theology of Femininity" for many of the ideas here.)

-- from the archives

Monday, April 11, 2016

Biblical Womanhood: Misconception #3

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Misconception #3: the unequal

This particular misconception is touted around in our day by both non-believers and believers. They say that the woman is lower than the man, that she is not equal with him. They say that because of this, she must “submit” (like “the submitter”) to every man.

Think of these two situations: 1) A woman is offered some help carrying a heavy load of groceries by a young man at the grocery store. Chagrined at the imposition of helplessness, she refuses the man and reasons that she is a liberated woman who is able to carry her own things. 2) A woman in college does everything that all her male friends tell her to do, thinking that it is a woman’s job to follow men. Is there something that seems odd in these two situations? The Unequal Woman can be presented in two extremes: as someone who finds herself not needing men and someone who mistakenly sees all men as people to submit to.

Equality is a term that is thrown around and about these days. A lot of people are concerned about receiving equal treatment and not being mistreated by others. It is a topic that stirs up a lot of debate and controversy. Equality is defined by the dictionary as “the quality and state of being equal” and gender equality is a concern that people have been fighting for. As Christians, we are called to live with a biblical worldview while preaching the gospel so that men may be saved. How can we apply this in terms of gender, equality, masculinity and femininity? 

Genesis 1:27 says that during creation, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Ultimately, God defined who we were and He created both male and female equally. While we were created equally, man and woman were given different roles that were meant to glorify God. Yes, you read that right, our femininity was created to glorify God. He also commanded women to submit to their husbands, but this is not a command to submit to all men that they meet in their lifetime. Also, this doesn’t mean He provided men with a license to mistreat and abuse women, because He values both of them.

Submission is created by God, designed to reflect our utter dependence on our Lord Jesus Christ. Submission is created for men and women as part of a covenant promise made possible by Jesus. Somehow submission was given a negative image; it was misunderstood to be something degrading, abusive and wrong. It was also wrongly equated with silent acquiescence, being controlled, miserable fear, and a lack of intellectual process. 

The Bible says, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything” This means that submission is commanded in order for men and women to glorify God through obedience of the Word. This also means that submission is an issue of the heart and is not dependent on our outward appearance and actions. 

So what does this means for us, single women? Well it means that with this season of single-hood, our submission is focused on our Lord Jesus Christ and he provides opportunities to serve our parents, our churches and people around us, making sure to preach the gospel whenever we can.

-- from the archives

Friday, April 8, 2016

Biblical Womanhood: Misconception #2

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Misconception #2: the submitter

She cowers in the corner, afraid and weary. She is told by others that the Bible says that she must submit to her authority. The problem is, she and her authority don’t understand the real meaning of this “submission” word. That being the case, she is instead treated almost like a servant, being forced to “submit” to every whim from her authority.
Most of us hear the word “submission” and feel like running. I’m going to be honest in saying that submission doesn’t sound like much fun. Submitting, whether it’s to your parents, boss, or husband sounds more like servant-hood than anything else. When, we hear of the submissive wife or the submissive daughter, we tend to picture a girl standing quietly, head bowed, and awaiting her next command. She lives only to serve her authority. She is quiet, fearful, and constantly working towards the next task her authority has for her to do. She does not think for herself. She does not voice her opinions. She simply submits. 

Sounds fun! Right? Okay, not so much. The great news is that this image is not what God intends submission to be! This image is the ignorant interpretation of us humans. We think that submission equals servant-hood. This is not true! God is far bigger than that in His planning for us. 

We are not commanded to submit to authority for the benefit of the authority, but rather to bring glory to Christ in our obedience. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21) 

Ephesians 5:22-30 paints a picture of what Biblical submission looks like in a husband and wife relationship.

22 “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”

25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleaning her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church- 30 for we are members of His body.” 

Submitting to your parents’ authority is so important that it is one of the 10 Commandments: “Honor your father and mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 5:16)

God intends submission to be an act of love. The church submits to Christ out of love as He  has loved the church unconditionally. The wife submits to her husband out of love, as he has loved and cared for her. The child submits to their parents out of love, because the parents have loved and cared for the child. Submission does not mean cowering at the every whim of your authority, but lovingly trying to please the other. Submission is not being fearful to speak, but speaking boldly in love. So, you see submission is an act of love, not servant-hood. That love is not undeserved, but given in return. Most importantly, “21 Submit to God, and you will have peace; then things will go well for you.” Job 22:21

-- from the archives