Convinced

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.–Romans 8:38-39


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Young, Restless, Reformed, and Female: An Interview

Recently, I had the pleasure of sharing some thoughts on women in academia with Katie Fischer and Whitney Waldemar, students at Bethlehem College and Seminary. It was an honor to encourage women to pursue biblical studies as a way to grow in the knowledge and love of Christ, and to enhance their service in the home and in their local churches.

Here’s the interview re-posted below:

[Recently, BCS senior Katie Fischer and junior Whitney Waldemar interviewed Kristie Anyabwile for her perspective on education for the home, church, and world.  Kristie is a North Carolina native and graduate of NC State University with a degree in History, as well as a B.A. in African American Studies. She and her husband, Thabiti, live in the Cayman Islands where Thabiti serves as senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman. This post has been edited for length.]

How does theological or worldview education equip women for service in the church?
Biblically…the primary means for this equipping is [through leadership at] the local church. That said, theological education can help women to understand and engage the world from a biblical perspective. Then, we can pass this knowledge and perspective on to other women and to the next generation in our local church. Being knowledgeable about worldviews can be very helpful in counteracting much of secular, feminist thinking that has been the steady diet of most women ages 60 and younger.

How does the church body benefit from women who are well-trained in the Bible?
…The body benefits as each person’s gifts are used to equip the saints and build up the body until we all reach maturity in Christ (Eph. 4:11–16). [As] pastors [are faithful] to teach sound doctrine to the entire body, women are given special charge to train each other in areas that are specific to women, and likewise for the men (Titus 2:1–5).

Do you see a need for more women in biblical studies?
It would definitely be helpful for the body of Christ, especially in answering egalitarian and secular women scholars. They are wreaking havoc on women’s studies programs and making very compelling but disastrous arguments for their positions. They continue to entice women toward feminism and unbiblical egalitarian views of women’s roles in the home and in the church.

Why we should encourage women to study in rigorous, academic settings?
If a woman has interests in that regard, we should encourage her to do it as a means to grow in her knowledge of God and in her love for God and in her service to God. This in no way means that academia is the only or even the preferred way for women to grow. The bottom line is that we should encourage women to study as hungry and thirsty babes, tasting and seeing that the Lord is good.

Why is it important for women to be in ministry? How does women’s ministry in the church strengthen male leadership?
[It is important because] we’re all called to minister to one another through teaching, correction, singing (Col. 3:16); loving one another (Rom. 13:8); encouraging and building one another up in the faith (1 Thess. 5:11); accepting and welcoming one another (Rom. 15:7); being kind and forgiving one another (Eph. 4:32); comforting and living at peace with one another (2 Cor. 13:11), and so on.

There are a myriad of ministry areas for women to be involved in that support the overall vision of the elders and leaders of their local church. In fact, I would argue that all women’s ministry activities should be directed under the guidance of the elders and leaders of the local body. Women’s ministry should serve as an example of biblically submitting to the authorities over us. Godly submission frees both men and women to be and do all that the Lord calls us to in the church and in the world, for His glory and for the building up of His kingdom.

Women in ministry can actually extend and strengthen the ministry of the elders, and the church as a whole. As women disciple, mentor, and counsel each other, they are able to minister to a greater number of women in those relationships than perhaps the elders would be able to.

Is it important for women to be scholars? Is there a place for women scholarship in the church?
Yes! Christian women are present and productive and serving in all spheres of [secular academia and other occupations]. In the same way that women seek to be excellent in their fields of secular scholarship, as Christians they are called to use their gifts and expertise to advance the kingdom of Christ. This is the call for all Christians—women included.

Women can bring their scholarship and expertise in teaching other women, encouraging their brothers in Christ, as well as in how they listen and respond to the preached word. They can also become biblical scholars, bringing another level of thinking and inquiry that would serve to strengthen the church against false philosophies and ideas that threaten it from inside and outside its walls…

What is the place for women feeding themselves? (Not to the exclusion of being fed by pastors, husbands, etc., but not being wholly dependent on them for it.)
“Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). Women are to seek the Lord while He may be found (Isa. 55:6). We don’t ultimately depend on our elders, but on God Himself, through His Word, by the power of the Spirit, and through the other means of grace He gives us to feast on God’s Word. We use all the resources the Lord has given to us—His infallible, all-sufficient Word; our own study and devotional life; the local church, the academy… conference & seminars; [various media tools]. We are so blessed to have these resources available to us. We should use them all to taste the goodness of the Lord and to enjoy sweet fellowship with Him.

What are temptations that women should guard against as they pursue a biblical or worldview education?
Secularism. Feminism. Egalitarianism. Pride.

Especially for women, there is the temptation to use their biblical/theological studies in ways that undermine male headship. …As a part of the fall, women have a sinful desire for the man’s place of leadership. This desire is manifested in the church when we fight for positions of authority and leadership that are outside Scripture’s teaching. …Women often become discouraged and bitter when don’t see opportunities to use their gifts in the local church. …There could [also] be a real temptation toward spiritual pride and self-righteousness… (Rom. 12:13; 1 Cor. 8:1) or deceiving ourselves into thinking that we’re wise… (1 Cor. 3:18)…

How do you encourage women to think about education as you mentor them?
…Women should keep in mind that they have freedom in Christ to pursue or not to pursue higher education. Here are some questions to consider:

    • Are there any stage of life concerns you should factor in your decision (single, married with small children, etc.)
    • How much time will you be able to devote to your job, family and church while you’re in school?
    • Will this course of study help you in spreading the gospel?
    • Will you have to go in debt to finance your education? If so, what’s your plan for paying it off?

Education is one building block for helping women to think critically and to love God with all our minds, fully engaging our thinking “to awaken and express the heartfelt fullness of treasuring God above all things.” (Piper,Think, p. 83). Education should be a means to this end.


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My True Identity

I’m just starting a study of Isaiah, and have been enjoying the devotional, Isaiah by the Day. It’s a wonderful daily devotional that walks through the book of Isaiah. I’m reading it along with the author’s commentary Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary, both by Alec Motyer. I love his writing style, precision, and his passion for the book of Isaiah.
Today, he opened up Isaiah 1:4 for me in a convicting way. The stark contrast between who the people were as redeemed people of God, and how they had shamefully become corrupt evildoers is sad.
“Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.”
Motyer says these nouns of privilege (underlined) define God’s people: they are a unique nation, redeemed people, brood (or seed) of Abraham, children of God. However, they had lost their identity and shamefully become sinful, guilt-ridden, evildoers, acting corruptly.
As I meditated on this verse and read the corresponding devotional thought for the day, I was challenged to consider my own life in light of this passage. Do I consistently live according to my true identity and new nature in Christ, or according to my sinful nature? Praise God that my sinful nature is not my primary identity anymore. My sinful nature has been crucified (Rom 8:9; Gal 2:20, 5:24; 2 Pet  1:3-5), my spirit is renewed and my new self is created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:24).
Lord, help me to live according to my true identity in you, so that I may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called me out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Pet 2:9).


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Grace in the Soul

Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ
Ephesians 2:4-5

God’s eternal love or good-will toward his creatures is the fountain whence all his mercies flow to us; and that love of God is great love, and that mercy is rich mercy. And every converted sinner is a saved sinner; delivered from sin and wrath. The grace that saves is the free, undeserved goodness and favor of God; and he saves, not by the works of the law, but through faith in Christ Jesus. Grace in the soul is a new life in the soul.

–Matthew Henry, in Matthew Henry Daily Readings: Edited by Randall J. Pederson, entry for July 15


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Day By Day

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day, the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He Whose Name is Counselor and Power;
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in every tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
Ever to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.


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Marriage is Not the Ultimate Good

I love my husband! He’s my best friend, lover, hero, favorite pastor, counselor, dessert taster and laundry folder! We laugh, cry, mourn, celebrate, pray, study, read, strategize, dream, and do nothing together. My life is made more joyous and full because of him. There is no other person on the planet who compares to him in my eyes and heart. BUT…my love for him has bounds. My love for Christ far outweighs the love I have for Thabiti, and he would not have it any other way! My love for him is also bounded by this life. It is for this age.

The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels (Luke 20:34-36).

I’ve been reading a wonderful book called God’s Design for Women by Sharon James. In it, she reminds us that Jesus puts marriage in its eternal perspective. She says:

Implying that marriage is the ultimate good ignores the biblical teaching that marriage was designed as a temporary illustration of an eternal reality.

The eternal reality is the love of Jesus, the bridegroom for his bride the church. Whether married or single, all Christians equally are participants in that reality. Human marriage is just a signpost pointing to something greater and more lasting (Ephesians 5:32). When well-meaning married Christians patronize their single friends by implying that life isn’t worth living unless one is married, they are disbelieving Jesus’ teaching.

No, Jesus teaches that the ultimate good is his love for us. That love is faithful, passionate and everlasting. We find our greatest happiness in him. (p. 144)


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Repentance and Faith

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
–Mark 1:14-15

“Observe the great truths Christ preached. By repentance we give glory to our Creator whom we have offended; by faith we give glory to our Redeemer who came to save us from our sins. Christ has joined these two together, and let no man think to put them asunder.”
–from Matthew Henry Daily Readings, edited by Randall Pederson, entry for April 13.


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Worldly Love versus Christian Love

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:35

Christian Love Quotes

Worldly love arises, either from views of interest or from likeness in manners; carnal love, from the appetite for pleasure. To these, something corrupt, selfish, and base always cleaves. But Christian love arises from the Holy Spirit, and is full of holiness.

from Matthew Henry’s commentary on Colossians 1:1-8


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Man Friendly Valentine’s Day Ideas…For Next Year

I was just reading Mary Kassian’s blog post, 10 Easy-on-the-Budget Ideas for Valentine’s Day. I appreciated her suggestions, but as I read her post to my husband, we decided to inject a bit more testosterone into her ideas and make them more “man friendly”. Here’s her list, and our man-up version.

1. Give him Valentines by the Dozens. Mary suggests kid-themed valentine’s placed where your sweety can find them throughout the day. Hmmm….I just can’t imagine Thabiti seeing Mickey under his mousepad, saying “Awww! My wife is so sweet! Another card!” But, I can imagine him saying, “At least it doesn’t have too many words!”

2. Pack a Valentine’s Picnic. This could be great! Pack a picnic and have it with him…at the GAME!

3. Burn a Personal CD. Love songs on a cd….This must be a prelude….

4. Make a Romantic Jigsaw. Just get a piece of furniture with some assembling required. Make that piece of furniture the cabinet for the flat-screen tv. Then, you could put the family photos, cards, candles on display in the cabinet.

5.  Create a Crossword Puzzle. Again-this must be a prelude….Just sayin’….

6. Name a Star. Mary says name a star after your hubby and then view it online. I’d say toss in a real telescope and you’ve got a winner!

7. Leave a Message on the Lawn. CAUTION! I would advise extreme care in messing with your man’s grass!

8. Celebrate 12 Days of Valentine’s. How about just 3 days of golf, 5 days of ESPN, 12 days of meat–sausages, steaks, etc.

9. Hang some love on a Valentine’s Tree. Create some coupons that would be a blessing to your man–one day of cuddle-free football, no chick flicks for a weekend, host a guy party with a few of his friends and his favorite game day foods, one day of football with cuddles (but no questions!).

10. Jar of Affection. Mary says, “Decorate a large jar with valentines. Fill the jar with folded pieces of paper—coupons—for “treats” such as a kiss, a back rub, breakfast in bed, coffee at starbucks, candles with dinner, etc. Your sweetheart gets to draw one coupon out each day until they are gone.” — no changes necessary for this one!

Happy Valentine’s Day!


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Inspired by Leftovers – Mexican Chicken Cakes

I LOVE Maryland Lump Crab Cakes, especially the ones you can get at Legal Sea Foods. Lots of lump crabmeat, spiced up, breaded and fried equals DELICIOUS! Well, it’s not easy to get to Legal Sea Foods where I live, but I did get inspired by my nostalgic flashback.

I had some chicken leftover from chicken quesadillas that we made a couple of nights ago and needed to use the rest of the chicken. I didn’t have any more tortillas, so I wondered how Mexican Chicken Cakes would taste. So, I used my food processor to pulse the shredded chicken, cilantro, and red onion. I then added a bit more spice, a couple of eggs, and breadcrumbs, and came up with my new favorite leftover-inspired recipe! The orange slices added a nice citrus zing to the dish.

Here’s the recipe (approximately)

Ingredients:
2 cups shredded chicken breasts
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, rough chopped
1/4 of a small red onion
2 eggs
1/2 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1 TBS olive oil (any cooking oil will do)
Orange slices (for garnish)

Directions:
1. Heat oil in nonstick pan on medium heat.

2. Add chicken, cilantro and onion to food processor. Pulse a couple of times to a fine consistency. If you don’t have a food processor, just finely chop these ingredients.

 3. In medium bowl, combine chicken mixture with rest of ingredients until well incorporated.

4. Form into 4 patties (not too thick), and cook until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes each side.

I’m definitely making these again soon. Next time, I’m gonna try a Mexican-inspired sauce to go with this recipe, and have it as a sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and a couple avocado slices. Enjoy!


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A Kind Visit from a Gracious and Generous Guest

From Matthew Henry Daily Readings by Randall Pederson

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock.

If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,

I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

Revelation 3:20

Christ is graciously pleased by his word and Spirit to come to the door of the heart of sinners; he draws near to them in a way of mercy, ready to make them a kind visit. He finds this door shut against him; the heart of man is by nature shut up against Christ by ignorance, unbelief, sinful prejudices. When he finds the heart shut, he does not immediately withdraw, but he waits to be gracious, even till his head is filled with the dew. He uses all proper means to awaken sinners, and to cause them to open to him: he calls by his word; he knocks by the impulses of his Spirit upon their conscience. Those who open to him shall enjoy his presence, to their great comfort and advantage. He will sup with them; he will accept of what is good in them; he will eat his pleasant fruit; and he will bring the best part of the entertainment with him. If what he finds would make but a poor feast, what he brings will make up the deficiency: he will give fresh supplies of graces and comforts, and thereby stir up fresh actings of faith, love, and delight; and in all this Christ and his repenting people will enjoy pleasant communion with each other. Alas! What do careless obstinate sinners lose by refusing to open the door of the heart to Christ!