In the Name of Submission – Last Words


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Last time, we left off with I Peter 3:1 telling wives to submit to their husbands. You can see the first post here.

We continue talking about submission and hopefully unpacking more of what it truly means.

I believe Peter starts with wives for a couple of reasons. (No, he’s not picking on us.)

First, I think it’s because God set up the order of a family. In Ephesians, he lays it out clearly. Christ is the head of the church. He is over the family. The husband is now entrusted with the well-being of his family under the headship of Christ. Then the wife is supposed to be covered by her husband, as Christ covers (loves and protects) his bride, the church. After that, the parents are the covering for their children.

Starting with the wife confirms that order.

Secondly, it seems that based on many passages in the Bible, women have so much influence. We are the “helper,” but the word translated like that sounds kind of lame. Like a token we say to our two-year-old for being mommy’s big helper. Encouraging, but we all know our child’s help is minimal.

Thankfully, that’s not what it means.

In the Hebrew, it actually means strength, warrior, working alongside. (This is a great post that goes into more depth. https://www.chasingsacred.com/helpmate-the-real-meaning-of-the-word/)

Think of some women in the Bible:

  • Mary (Jesus’s mother),
  • Deborah (prophetess)
  • Jael (killed a man with a tent peg – Judges 4:21)
  • Esther (saved the Jews)
  • Abigail (saved her people)
  • Rahab (prostitute who saved the spies)
  • Mary & Martha (sisters of Lazarus)
  • Lydia (business owner who led a church).

And those are only a few.

Every one of these women understood submission as part of the influence they had in their situation.

Peter tells women, in this first verse, that their husbands (and probably others) will be “won over” or influenced by their behavior without a word. Because when we are submitting for the sake of Jesus, we will be beautiful because of our purity, reverence, and our quiet and gentle spirit.

All without fear. Perfect love casts out fear. Submitting to God puts our trust in him. His perfect love for us means we don’t have to fear anything.

See where we’re going with this?

And lest you think that God’s focus is only on wives, verse 7 calls out husbands to act “in the same way” so that their prayers aren’t hindered!

Hindered prayers is a pretty serious consequence of not submitting with consideration and respect to wives while viewing them as heirs of God for the sake of Jesus. Paul says it this way in Ephesians 5:23 “Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.”

Don’t think that God doesn’t hold everyone to the same standard!

After Peter charges spouses—the relationship that mirrors Christ with his bride—he gives some specifics.

What does submission look like?

Verse 8 tells us to live in harmony. That may not be done easily, especially if another person isn’t feeling the tune you’re playing, but as far as it depends on you, be in harmony. (Romans 12:18)

We start by being sympathetic to other people’s hurts and pain. How are they feeling? That means we need to humble ourselves and not be set on our opinion, agenda, or feelings first or only. If we first seek to understand their perspective, it’s easier to show love and compassion.

Peter goes on to say in verse 9 that we are to be a blessing to others. Treat them kindly. Even if they insult us, answer that with kindness. Not always easy, but the Holy Spirit can make us able to do it with sincerity.

Finally, in verse 14 and 15, Peter reminds us not to fear. That was a hard one for me. My past situations gave me the view that I couldn’t really trust certain people so it was hard to submit to them. But I’m learning that when I’m submitting for the Lord’s sake, I can trust Him to cover me and help me choose to honor and respect them.

We can only do this when we “set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts.”

Submission begins with understanding the humility Jesus showed to submit himself to God and go to the cross. He tells us to have a gentle and respectful answer for our hope in him. He forgave us. That is our hope, the source of our love, and what makes us able “to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

For me this has been a huge lesson and offered me freedom in place of my misconceptions about submission. I hope it has been helpful for someone else too.

Jesus, I surrender (submit) all.

What Is Evil?


There are some things we would all agree with as being the epitome of evil. Serial killing, sex trafficking, murdering the innocent and helpless, and vicious brutality would all be in the category of “evil.”

But what if some work of the devil is much more subtle? What if we tolerate or even participate without even realizing that what we are thinking, doing, or accepting is actually evil?

In the book of Acts in the Bible, in the fourteenth chapter, we can see some of these subtleties of evil in Luke’s account of the apostles’ journeys and activities. It tells of how Paul and Barnabus were teaching in the Jewish synagogue—a place we would consider peaceful and full of kindness—and many people were encouraged and believed what they taught.

But then there were those who acted badly, and eventually, even viciously.

Here’s how we know they were being used of Satan to subtly perpetrate evil.

  • They refused to believe. Everyone can choose to believe or not. God doesn’t force anyone to receive his love. But the word “refused” reveals a heart of rebellion, not simply disinterest.
  • They stirred up the crowd. Specifically, they targeted the Gentiles who were different than them. Can anyone say “racism?” They were causing distrust and doubt among people groups.
  • They poisoned people’s minds against their brothers. We’re not talking siblings here, but other members of the same group of people being turned against each other. Sowing dissension, division, and hatred.
  • They plotted to mistreat the men who were teaching. It’s interesting that the people plotting were from both groups—a portion of the Jews and Gentiles came together to cause harm together.
  • They attracted people from other towns to create a mob. Then this mob stoned Paul and left him for dead.

Sound like anything we’ve seen or heard of lately?

Here’s the thing about what Paul and Barnabus were doing. It was all good. No one was forced to agree with them or believe what they taught. They simply shared what they knew—what they had experienced for themselves.

No threats. No violence.

The Bible says they:

  • Spoke effectively.
  • Spent considerable time with the people.
  • Confirmed their message with miracles.
  • Ran away from trouble.
  • Healed a crippled man.
  • Were humble and never claimed to be any better than any other person.
  • Spoke of God’s kindness, provision, and joy.
  • Strengthened and encouraged people.
  • Prayed for people.

Hmm…

It seems pretty clear when it’s examined like that, doesn’t it?

Maybe there are four groups of people.

Some may, for whatever reason, choose to perpetrate evil acts. Others may subtly, in their hearts, refuse any message of good and therefore create hatred. Perhaps there are those, who without realizing it, are sowing seeds of dissension and division, setting brother against each other—or by their participation are allowing it.

The last group are those who choose love and kindness. They show grace for others and speak truth in love with acceptance. Sometimes that may mean not to speak at all or to speak about something encouraging and hopeful. Changing the subject can be a loving strategy.

Tolerance and acceptance doesn’t mean ignoring and allowing evil.

We can accept that everyone has a choice to believe what they want, and we can honor them by not demanding they agree with our choices. But if someone chooses to act in a way that will harm another, we can also step in and take action to protect. Not to defend our position, but certainly to defend someone’s life.

Paul chose to return to the people even after they stoned him. He claimed that we would endure hardship for the kingdom of God and was willing to put his life on the line.

So, where are we? In which group do we find ourselves?

Is it possible that we are ignorantly participating in evil without realizing it or considering the cost?

Or are we loving people and showing them kindness? The Bible says it’s God’s kindness that leads to repentance (Romans 2:4), and that the anger of man will not bring about the righteousness of God (James 1:20). How are we doing with that?

The disciples were able to live showing kindness to others while they shared their testimony of what they’d seen and heard because they were filled with the Holy Spirit and joy.

I want to be like them. Like Jesus.

How about you?

Hurricanes (Hardly Ever) Happen


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Hurricanes (Hardly Ever) Happen

The region where I live is all aflutter.

Hurricane Irma has been assaulting innocent islands in the south and is headed our way. For the past five days, Southwest Florida has purchased more gas, water, batteries and boards (no, not surf or paddle) than probably have been sold in the past five years.

People are literally running for their lives.

I don’t blame them. I’ll confess it’s a frightening situation, this first hurricane of my life. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories of the ones that ripped us apart in the past, but to be here first hand, stocking up on canned foods and looking at empty shelves in grocery stores is a bit daunting.

Then there are the news reports.

Trees bent over in winds whipping San Juan. Cars crawling along like…well not like ants because ants move faster—more like snails taking naps. Buildings decimated with roofs scattered. The pictures say a thousand words and more.

But the tone of it all is fear.

And I hate fear. While healthy fear can be a good thing causing us to be diligent in preparation, fear can also cripple us into immobility. Or avoidance which keeps us from facing the storm until the very last devastating moment when disaster is upon us.

Fear grips us in ugly claws until our hearts pound in panic.

In the midst of this stormy circumstance, I think fighting fear may be a bigger issue than the pending potential destruction. The actual fight for our lives happens in our minds. And fear is like a monster demanding to be fed.

If we fuel it, it will grow.

I don’t know what will happen in the next few days. I’m sure numerous people will lose some if not all of their belongings. I grieve with Houston’s residents. Some may lose their lives or someone they love. I could be one of them.

But fear will not help me weather the storm well.

Preparation, peace and confidence in my God who created wind, rain and oceans will set me up to endure this storm. No matter what happens, He will be there with us to guide, protect and comfort us. He can turn any tragedy into something positive or helpful.

Already we’ve seen people reaching out in kindness.

Kindness is a characteristic of God. A man giving up a generator for a woman in need is laying down his life and looking to another person’s interests instead of his own. Another man volunteering his time to make sure people get water is giving of himself. We may think of those stories as sweet or nice, and they are, but really they are examples of God’s love.

I don’t know if those men know God personally.

But I do know that God is blessed when we exhibit his character. Serving, helping, giving all equal loving. God is love. And when we point to him as the source, he is pleased because he longs to see his love displayed to every single person.

Perhaps this post seems a bit random.

But as you read about kindness, did you forget I started with fear? Yeah, that’s what I though. When God’s love gets involved, fear gets pushed away. The Bible puts it this way,

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…     I John 4:18

If I know God loves me, then no matter what my situation, I don’t have to be afraid. He will bring the best for me even in the worst of circumstances. I know that’s easier to say than to experience all the time, but that has been my goal during this hurricane.

If it’s time to go, I will be with Jesus. If I get hurt, he will heal me at some point. If I am safe, I can help someone else. And in any case, I can trust him to hold me in the storm if I keep my eyes on him.