Questions from a Women’s Retreat

We had a half-hour for Q&A at the end of your women’s retreat, but 2 hours of questions. So, here are some quick answers for this veritable smorgasbord of questions and some links to resources.

You asked: For women in the workforce world: How do we balance standing up for ourselves–“I’m good at this!” without being rude, in your face, or prideful?

Where every you work, whether in a church, school, or corporate setting, you will have opportunities to fight through the dichotomy of how the world says we should live and how we know Christ has called us to do so. Rudeness and pride have no place in the life of a believer. However, I do think that Christian women struggle with how to communicate with confidence and competence. (And men don’t always receive confidence well.) We have been discipled that modesty of accomplishment is “next to godliness,” so confidence in skills and/or knowledge is discouraged. I even see this personally in the way that I write emails sometimes. I couch statements with “soft” words like “just,” “maybe,” and “I believe.” A healthy, humble understanding of your skills and God-given talents brings the freedom to serve well without the fear of what others may think of you. All that we have is a gift from God and is intended to be used for His glory. What does it look like for Christian women to recognize His work in our lives and move forward with confidence?

You asked: How do we set up a tone in our home that children are a blessing in a world that says “ew” to children?

As someone who is not a parent, I cannot speak fully to this. However, I do remember a few helpful practices my parents employed from my childhood. Theologically, they made sure I knew that Jesus loved children–we read the stories, sang the songs, and imagined what it would have been like to sit at His feet. Socially, my brother and I were exposed to many different kinds of people in our community–the elderly, the poor, people from other countries, missionaries, customers, and even people from wacked religious communes. We were taught to listen, engage, enjoy, and help those we visited. Vocationally, my parents taught us how to work hard. I understood early that I could contribute to the world around me in our home, in our business, at church, and in the neighborhood.

You asked: How do you pray?

One of the most helpful practices of prayer is to start where Jesus started with His disciples. When they asked Him to teach them how to pray, He walked them through a simple prayer that serves as a framework for our prayers. Pray a line at a time and expand on the statement or request: “Give us this day our daily bread. Lord, you know what I need before I even ask. Would you supply today’s measure of food. . .a new job. . .strength to work through this illness. . .housing that could be used to glorify you. . . ” Many other passages from the Scriptures will also help you to pray in a way that is focused and biblical. For example, if you are praying for your children, take the passages we just studied and pray that they would know what it means to be blessed IN CHRIST, to be aware of God’s redemption, to rely on the righteousness of Christ.

Just a few other helpful things to consider. Do you ever get a prayer request from someone? Stop and pray with them right there. Are you going to pray before your meal at the restaurant? Ask your server if there is anything you can pray for them. Do you receive missionary prayer letters/emails? Stop and pray immediately and then send them a message to tell them you have prayed for their specific requests.

Lastly, prayer is not always easy. It is a conversation with God, and as with any conversation, sometimes we don’t know how to pray as we aught. Romans 8 assures the Christ-Follower that the Spirit helps us in our prayers.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

You asked: What are a few practical things that helped you “settle” into your role as a home maker?

This is an interesting question as I never quite know what people might attach to the term “home-maker.” Are you talking about the expectation that a woman would never work outside of the home? Are you thinking about a Pinterest/Joanna Gaines vision of a beautiful house? As a single woman who works, my relationship with the concept of a “home” may be different than a married woman who is raising 5 kids with her husband. “Home” is an interesting concept when you start thinking about it, actually How is the Christian to view “home” when we know we are just passing through this world? What should the pilgrim mindset be?

In my case, I recognize that my home is both shelter for my head and a means of service for others through hospitality. Whether you own, rent, or share a home, it is never meant to be your castle. Instead, home is to be a further means of service to your own family, your church family, and strangers. More on that here.

You asked: Scripture calls us to “love thy neighbor,” “turn the other cheek,” and generally be passive in discipling. How would you frame this given the rate at which the world is deteriorating?

Hmm. . .I would like a little more background on this question, I think, but I will take a stab at it. There are a couple of things at examine here. The first is a definition of discipleship–the process by which Christ-Followers walk together to become more like Jesus. In our sessions, we talked about informal and formal expressions of this. Taking a young woman grocery shopping with you is informal. Meeting with a small group study is more formal. The call, however, is never to passivity. Discipleship, whatever form it takes is meant be intentional and active.

What we do in the world is less about discipleship and more about evangelism–inviting people to become disciples of Jesus. Loving your neighbor and turning the other cheek were both illustrations that Jesus used in His teaching to communicate how His people were meant to live differently from the world. That is still His call to us today.

You asked: Do you have any podcasts or materials for new women believers?

I have some favorite podcasts that I have mentioned here, but most of these are not directed at new believers. The best thing any new believe can do is get into the Scriptures and fall in love with Jesus’ church.

You asked: First Corinthians 7 makes it clear that our bodies don’t belong to ourselves (both men and women) and we aren’t to deny each other . But what if you don’t feel comfortable with what you are being asked to do in the bedroom? Is it sinful to say NO or set boundaries?

I have zero experience in having worked through such a scenario, but I do believe there are some clear Biblical principles at work. First, the husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the Church–that is a sacrificial love, not demanding and selfish, but seeking the best for the other. Second, and I may be reading into this, but I have heard this question enough to bring up the topic–couples should never seek their own good at the cost of someone else’s purity. Or to put it another way, pornography is never right, even within marriage. Finally, I would recommend that you seek good counsel in dealing with this situation. I do know that ignoring issues rarely makes them disappear.

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