Submission or Celebration?

I hate most sermons on marriage. If there’s to be only one text for the sermon, it’s almost always Ephesians 5:22–you know, “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as unto the Lord.” In fact, some teachers claim that the entire success of the marriage hinges on the woman’s level of submissiveness. In other words, if your husband is being an abusive jerk, it means you’re not being submissive enough. (Excuse me while I hurl.)

Sermons like these make marriage sound more like a duty than the joyous, nurturing experience it should be. Even though my husband is not a believer, I’m excited about our marriage–because although he may not be “godly,” our union is. And for us, it’s not so much about my submission, but about our mutual celebration. Let me explain. Continue reading

Are You Saved?

I accepted Jesus Christ as savior at 5 years old. I remember the moment so well. I came running down the sidewalk toward my father as he picked me up from school that day, shouting, “Daddy, I’m saved! I asked Jesus into my heart today!” I was so full of joy at knowing that no matter how dark or lonely my life became, Jesus would always be near to comfort me.

But my joyful assurance wasn’t to last.

See, I would go to church and hear ministers ask me if I was really saved. Because there was a chance I might not have been completely sincere in my confession of faith the first time around. I might have prayed the sinner’s prayer without really knowing what I was doing. I might have done it simply to impress someone or to obtain my “get out of hell free” card. I might have unknowingly “back-slidden” since then or left some sin unconfessed during that first prayer. At any rate, I had to question, question, question. Were my motives for following Christ pure? Was my life completely without sin? Was I doing everything possible to be holy? Would God find me worthy of heaven at The Judgement? I had to be sure! My eternal soul depended on it. Continue reading

Joyful, Joyful!

007

For you, Malala.

Many bloggers are writing about joy this week. After all, we’re in the middle of the most joyous season of the year. There are twinkling lights in the city squares, ribbons wrapping the columns of houses, and the smells of baking goodies wafting out of every door. My nearly 3-year-old son talks excitedly about the gifts he will unwrap on Christmas Day. While I watched him participate in song and applause at my church’s service this morning, my heart became fit to burst. It’s hard not to be joyful.

But I realize it’s not the same for everyone, or even during the rest of the year. Sometimes the car breaks down. Sometimes work becomes overwhelming. Sometimes nasty people get in the way. The kids get sick, the washing machine goes out (my house this week), the spouse becomes cranky and distant, and internal demons surface to fight your every step. At these times, it’s easy to sink into a pity-party state. You watch your neighbors drive up in their spotless Lexus or BMW, while your not-so-stylish Ford sits collecting pollen and paw prints in your crumbling driveway. Joy seems like a thousand miles away. Continue reading