Monday, May 31, 2010

What I Learned in the First Year: Biblical Womanhood

In the months leading up to our wedding I read a lot about marriage. While I had read books about biblical womanhood in my single years, I hadn’t read them with my future husband in plain view. So I wanted as much information to prepare me for marriage as possible—even if it meant rereading material I had read before. You can never be too prepared, right? In my sinful attempt to control every aspect of my life, I thought that if I just read enough than I would be fully prepared and perfected for the task of being a wife. Thankfully, God did not leave me in that delusion for long.

It didn’t take long for reality to set-in in my marriage. The hype of the wedding was over. The presents were opened and put away. The family and friends had left us and gone home. We were left with each other and it was so exciting for us. But it was also real life. And real life can be really ugly sometimes.

Within a few short weeks Daniel and I had to work through some decisions that affected both of us. At the time Daniel’s decision for us was different than what I wanted for us, and primarily what I wanted for me. His decision to go against my desires felt like a stab in the back. I thought he was against me, and sadly I treated him that way too. “How could this be happening,” I thought. “If he loved me he would give me everything I want, right?” Wrong.

Thankfully I woke up from my selfish delusion. It hit me one day when Daniel and I were talking and he said, “You know that I am for you, Court, don’t you?” His care for me, and decision to lead our family, was the perfect expression of his love and commitment to me. He knew his responsibility before God was a serious one, and he didn’t take these decisions lightly or without prayer. What I failed to see was that his leadership of our home was for my good, not my evil.

My failure to understand this reality said far more about my trust in God than it did my trust in my husband. God gave Daniel to me to lead me, protect me, and provide for me. It was not an accident. God’s love for me is not contingent on all of my felt needs being met. Neither is my husband’s love.

In my pride, I thought I had a pretty good handle on the whole biblical womanhood thing before I got married. After the wedding, it was a whole other story. I was afraid to even say anything about biblical womanhood because I thought people would know how miserably I was failing at home and not believe me. But that’s the whole point. I am a failure at loving, respecting, and submitting to my husband. I don’t naturally have a gentle and quiet spirit. None of us do. That is where Christ comes in. He has accomplished all of these things for us already on the Cross. He is our hope to live in obedience to his call as women, single and married. When we fail to live according to his purposes for us, and we will, we can look to the only One who ever lived perfectly—our Christ.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What I Learned in the First Year: Sanctification

Before I got married people told me often how sanctifying marriage is. I believed them. Really, I did. But I didn’t get it. In my head I knew it. It just didn’t really register into knowledge. I was so wrapped up in being in love with Daniel that I often didn’t grasp all that the wise, older people were telling me.

And then I got married.

There is something really jarring about the first time (and every time, actually) you see the ugliness of your sin against the person you love the most. What I learned, very quickly, was that marriage has a way of holding a mirror up to your soul in a way no other relationship does. It makes you bare it all, in good and bad ways. Suddenly you can’t hide and pretend that you are a nice Christian woman. The man sleeping in the bed next to you, though he loves you, often knows that you can be quite different. The beauty of it all is that he loves you anyway. And you love him.

I would like to say that I am always excited about the promise of sanctification in my life through my marriage, but more often I am not. Most of the time, I am stubborn and angry that my sin is exposed. That is why I need sanctification!

Marriage has shown me more of my sin than I have ever seen before, but it has also shown me more of the Gospel. The hope of the covenant of marriage, and more importantly the covenant in the Gospel, is that we are in it for the long haul. Yes, we aren’t fully sanctified yet, but we are working to get there. And we are committed to each other’s growth and love for Christ and each other. Christ does not abandon us when we sin against him continually, nor do we turn from each other when we sin in much smaller magnitudes than sinning against the King of Kings.

So while I still have a long way to go before I am even close to being sanctified, I am grateful for the mirror that my relationship with my husband holds up to me on a daily basis. The picture isn’t always pretty. But Lord willing, I will be a better student of grace than I was this past year.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Missions Wednesday: Ethiopia

It would be hard to talk about missions without talking about the plight of orphans throughout the world. Today there are estimated 143 million orphans in the world. An orphan is defined as a child having lost one or both parents. And the number is staggering. 143 million children who have faced the traumatic experience of losing a parent. 143 million children who, in many cases, need a home.

Ethiopia, in 2008, had an estimated 5.5 million orphans largely due to the spread of AIDS there. One in 6 Ethiopians either has AIDS or has been infected with HIV, leaving 1 million children orphaned by the disease. Nearly 250,000 children have been infected with the disease as well.

There are over 79 million people living in Ethiopia. North Ethiopia was one of the first Christian nations. And while Islam has grown into a prominent religion there, 65% of people would still claim Christianity (though the majority of that number would be apart of the Ethiopian Orthodox church). Due to persecution in the earlier parts of the 20th century, Protestantism grew in larger numbers.

Even though some would claim allegiance to Christianity, there seems to be a strong disconnect between the high percentage of AIDS and the high percentage of children orphaned by the crisis.

Ways to pray:

  1. Pray that those who claim Christ would live a life of purity, especially the men. Pray that the men of Ethiopia would lead by remaining pure with one woman—their wives.
  2. Pray that Christians would feel called to lead in orphan care in this country—whether through adoption, helping in orphanages, giving money, or praying.
  3. Pray for the Bible translation work in Ethiopia. There are 10-15 with a translation, and 24 left to be surveyed.

For further reading:

Operation World: Ethiopia

Hope Adoption Agency (Ethiopian adoption and orphanage)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

One Year Later...

One year later…

I still think you are so dang cute.
I love holding your hand.
I enjoy going to bed with you and waking up next to you.
You still make me laugh, a lot.
I have realized I am much bigger sinner than I ever dared to think.
There is so much left to discover about who you are (and I love finding it out!).
You make me want to study the Bible more.
You help me to love and treasure the Savior.
We love just being together.
You are my best friend.
I love you more today than yesterday, which makes each new day that much more exciting.

Happy 1st anniversary, babe!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Family History and Good King Josiah

Imagine being the son or daughter of a man who was known for being evil. On top of that, imagine that it’s not just your dad who is evil, but your grandpa too. You are the product of a horrific family, a family that is determined to practice wickedness. In fact, all you have ever known in your family is wickedness. By the time you are born, your grandpa is far into his evil ways, and your father doesn’t live very long before he is killed by his own servants. This story isn’t imaginary. It’s real. In fact, it’s in the Bible. Maybe even today, there are some of you reading this who can relate to, and I hope be encouraged by, the life of King Josiah.

In 2 Chronicles 34 we are told that Josiah begins his reign. Prior to his ascension to the throne we are told briefly about his father, Amon’s reign and subsequent death. But it is his grandfather Manasseh who reigned for 55 years as a wicked king. Both men did not follow God wholeheartedly. They led Judah into idolatry and sin. But Josiah was different.

We don’t know much about Josiah’s life, how he came to serve the Lord with all of his heart. He was a product of a dysfunctional family. For all we know he did not even hear about the Lord in his home. It’s not an unlikely assumption considering he didn’t even find the Book of the Law until he was 18 years into his reign. Unlike his lost family, his life looked far more like King David’s than it did his father’s and grandfather’s life. God plucked him, changed his heart, and he followed God wholly.

Just because a person’s family is a mess, or their mother or father is lost, doesn’t mean they are destined for the same fate. The entire Scriptures bear out countless stories of children who are saved out of unsaved families. There is hope for the person who feels doomed to being a product of his or her own family history. God can change the course of that history, even if only for a generation (like it was in Josiah’s case). You do not have to be like the rest of your family. God is in the business of rescuing people from the darkest of situations, making them a disciple and worshipper, and getting glory for himself.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Laura Bush on Abortion

Last week Laura Bush discussed her views on abortion (and other things) on Larry King Live. Based on what she said, she has been, and still is, in favor of abortion rights. Many things could be said about this information, but the thing that struck me most was the fact that she is a woman who is affiliated with conservative views. And not just any woman, a woman married to a president who was praised and endorsed for his commitment to being pro-life.

This says a lot about the need for women, especially Christians, to be committed to and vocal about being pro-life. It is a blessing when godly men exercise their calling as protector and defend women and the unborn. But, there is something very profound about a woman who stands for life in the face of many women who would say she is “abandoning the sisterhood.”

For pro-choice women, a pro-life husband and pro-choice wife makes perfect sense. In their minds a man holds that position because he’s never the one who is pregnant. But a pro-life woman can be perceived as confusing—and anti-woman.

Just because a pro-life man can be explained away as a chauvinist doesn’t mean he needs to stop being pro-life. The same goes for a woman who is labeled as backward and anti-woman. God is the author of life. Babies in the womb are image bearers of our King, not issues to be flippantly discussed and argued over. As much as the abortion movement would like to say that we are autonomous and have rights over our bodies, the reality is they never were our bodies to begin with—they were (and still are) God’s. He is the author of life and he decides when life ends.

I think it is sad that a woman who in some ways claims conservative principles would be so quick to be in favor of keeping Roe v. Wade as law. But it makes me wonder what would happen if an army of pro-life women joined the cause to be defenders of the unborn, even when women of their own political party are against them. People would watch.

(HT: Denny Burk)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday Musings

I don't usually venture into "what I've been up to" on the blog, but honestly we have been so busy that I had nothing profound to put into a complete post. I have some thoughts, but they aren't anything worth reading yet (or maybe ever). So for those of you who are interested, here is a little update on what the Reissig's have been up to.

Our semester was quite busy with seminary, work, and youth pastor duties for Daniel, and work, Seminary Wives Institute, and helping Daniel duties for me. So when May 7 rolled around, and Daniel took his last final, we were one happy couple! We totally crashed that whole weekend following his last final, and didn't feel guilty for the utter laziness one bit. Right now he is on a brief break until he starts a summer class the day after Memorial Day.

Speaking of Memorial Day, we are quickly approaching our one year anniversary (more posts to follow on that)! Last year we got married on Memorial Day, so our anniversary is one week from tomorrow. I can hardly believe that it has been a year already. It went by so fast, yet I feel like I have changed and grown so much in this last year. Definetely sanctifying. Like I said, more posts to follow.

I took a couple of Seminary Wives classes this semester. It is a program that Mrs. Mohler heads up for the student wives. The class topics vary a lot, but some are really practical like the one I took this semester: Ministry of Hospitality. If I had to pick one thing that struck me most about this class it was about cultivating a love for my home and my family. It is so easy to get busy doing so many other things, but it is in my home that God has ordained for me to work diligently for his glory. I realized I have a LONG way to go before I understand how this all works fully, but I am so thankful to be here and learn from godly older men and women.

This summer doesn't hold any promises to be any slower than the semester, unfortunately. Well, it is for me. But Daniel is taking two classes so he can be finished with seminary forever by next May. It will be an intense year coming up for us. But we are all strapped in and ready for the ride. Thanks for taking time to peek in and join us!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Missions Wednesday: India

My first real encounter with India began with reading a biography about Amy Carmichael. As a missionary to India, Carmichael rescued hundreds of little girls from temple prostitution. By God’s grace, this practice is no longer in existence, but her legacy lives on. Eventually she began rescuing little boys, and her home in India became a shelter and safe haven for numerous children to be educated, clothed, fed, loved, and most importantly, taught the Gospel.

But there is still so much work to be done in India.

India’s population comes in at over 1 billion people. That means that over 1 billion people, made in the image of God, in many cases are in bondage to Hinduism and false religions. While the faithful witness of missionaries throughout the centuries, like William Carey, has brought the Gospel to India, the people of India are still largely overtaken by false gods. Over 600 million people live in poverty, often perpetuated by the oppressive Hindu caste system. Though castes are forbidden by the constitution, for over 80% of the population these structures are socially important. The caste system keeps the people of India in bondage to cultural and societal barriers, often providing no hope of release.

For some Christians, the hope of freedom is also grim. While the constitution allows for religious freedom, many within India have pushed for strong anti-conversion laws against Christianity. In some states, Christians have faced intense persecution and even death. Hinduism is the prevailing cultural religion of India, a religion that boasts of hundreds of gods to meet various needs.

Ways to pray:

  • According to Operation World, India has larger populations and people groups with no Christians, churches, or Christian workers than any other part of the world. Pray that God would give people a heart for India and a desire to go and make disciples of this nation.
  • Pray that God would break the oppressive caste system by bringing Indian people to himself. Pray that the Cross of Jesus Christ would break down years of sin and prejudice that has caused them to oppress their own countrymen.
  • Pray that Jesus Christ would be seen as the greatest and only source of true fulfillment.
  • Pray that existing Christians would be faithful to the task of proclaiming the Gospel and living out the Gospel in a country that is not welcoming.

As a side note, one of the things I was reminded of while reading about India was the fact that a Gospel witness has been around in India for over 2000 years. The Apostle Thomas was the first to arrive in India with the Gospel. Many years later, William Carey arrived. And for many years since then, faithful men and women have been going to India with the hope that the people there might come to worship the one true God. What a testimony of obedience and perseverance, and what a lesson on the long-suffering nature of our God. We don’t know why the Gospel did not spread in India like it did in Rome and throughout Europe. All we know is that God is sovereign and that he has people for himself in every tribe, tongue, and nation—including India. Sometimes we need a little perspective to see the bigger picture. God doesn’t promise us results right away. He doesn’t even promise us results in our lifetime. But he does promise us that one day he will have worshippers from India, and hundreds of other countries throughout the world he created. We are just called to be faithful and go and tell. He will take care of the rest.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Why I Am Pro-Life

Earlier this week a good friend of mine posted a "guest post" that I wrote about being "Completely Pro-Life." She has asked various friends and bloggers to write about what it means to be pro-life in every stage of life. I chose to write about being an advocate for life in the womb.

On a side-note, I really value Amanda's blog. She and I were both writing majors together in college, so we have been reading each other's thoughts for a while now. Her thoughts keep getting better, in my opinion. She has a gift for writing compelling stuff. It makes me think. It makes me pray. And it makes me ask God to equip me to be a better and more fruitful wife and keeper of my home.

Back to my post. We tend to think of the pro-life issue in terms of political parties. But it is more than that. So much more. Here is a preview of my post:

In many ways, the abortion issue can cause us to feel weary. The statistics can spur hopelessness. The constant barrage of anger, bitterness, and hateful banter can make it seem like a pointless cause. But in the midst of it all those numbers are souls that once lived in bodies—little image bearers of our Creator. Being pro-life is not about politics. It is about the Gospel.

As Christians we of all people should be the most concerned about life in every stage, especially in the helpless stage of the womb. But why should we care? From the beginning of time we understand that God created men and women equally in his image (Gen. 1:27). People bear the image of their Creator—God. This is staggering. Every soul lost through abortion is an image bearer of the King. But to take this even further, Christians are to also care about the least defended, the least protected, and the helpless. Who is more helpless than a 10-week old baby nestled not-so-safely in the womb of a mother who is determined to kill it?

In the post, I talk about being pro-life means being pro-mom. As we think about Mother's Day, maybe God is stirring in your heart an increasing desire live out your pro-life convictions by being a blessing to a mother in need. It's just a thought. Either way, I hope you read the post and visit my friend's blog. And I pray that God makes us all more passionate about the cause of life.

You can read the rest of the post here.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Missions Wednesday: Poland

Many of us remember the recent plane crash that took the life of Poland’s President, First Lady, and many of the country’s leaders. Tragedy can often bring a country to attention that was not previously on our minds. Apart from the fact that my sister-in-law is Polish (a descendant of Polish immigrants), my knowledge pretty much ends there. So today’s country is Poland.

Poland’s population, as of 2000, was over 38 million people. While the country is considered 90% Christian, the majority of these numbers are Catholic. They are a country with rich history, having been in existence since the 10th century. During World War II they were occupied by both the Soviets and the Germans, losing 6 million Polish lives in the war (many of them Jewish Polish). Like the rest of Eastern Europe in the aftermath of the war, they were under communist government instituted by the Soviets until 1989.

Evangelical Christianity is still uncommon in Poland due to the heavy prominence of the Catholic Church, and most young people are skeptical of religion but open to hearing about Christ and his work. This is promising. But in the rise of a new government of capitalism and democracy, the desire for wealth and power has overtaken many of the younger generation—yet leaving them hollow. This has only increased immorality and crime among the Polish communities.

Ways to pray:

  • There is a need for an evangelical presence among the Polish people. The Catholic Church is the predominant religion and people need to hear about the truth of Christ’s sufficient work for their sins. The Catholic Church has a considerable political influence among the Polish people.
  • Pray that Polish evangelicals would feel a desire to spread the Gospel to their own countrymen.
  • Pray for the growth of evangelical believers in Poland. They are a small minority and need encouragement to continue walking in the truth of the Gospel.
  • Pray for the growing Christian literature movement. Pray that Christ-centered resources would be published and get into the hands of many Polish people.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Searching for Significance

Significance (noun): the quality of being important

We all want it. Deep in the core of our being we want our choices, our actions, our dreams and desires to count for something—to do something big. We want our lives to be important, to matter and make a difference. Very few people seek to live insignificant lives, right? The quest for significance is part of who we are. It is a God given desire. Often the question we must ask ourselves is where am I looking for my significance?

God created us to live very significant lives. And the drive for significance was given by Him to give us passion to do big things. But there is a twist. While the world would tell us that our quest for significance is fulfilled in the glory we gain for ourselves, God tells us that we are fulfilled only in the glory we gain for Him. Living within the plan God designed for us is the greatest source of fulfillment and pleasure because we are no longer grasping for a wish that can never satisfy. In fact, it can give us greater abandon to seek our dreams because we know that even if they are never met we still have the greatest satisfaction in Christ.

All of these realities convicted me greatly as I began thinking through my tendency towards over-commitment outside of the home. I realized that I had started to view helping my husband, cultivating a love for the home, and a servant-heart within the home as less significant than being on committees, going to events, and helping everyone else. Sadly, I viewed the amount of people viewing my “Christian” endeavors as more meaningful than obedience to my God-given task of helping my husband. Does this mean that we can never do things outside of our homes? Of course not! But it does mean that if we are deriving our fulfillment from things that are going to gain glory for us, then we will be overwhelmed and disappointed every time.

We were made to desire significance. Often the very things that God has given us to do don’t feel very significant: changing diapers, going to work every day, cooking a meal, cleaning a kitchen, wiping noses, or fill in whatever mundane task you are struggling with right now. We don’t often see what the outcome of the ordinary and seemingly insignificant will be until years down the road. But God sees. And he is pleased. He isn’t looking for the next flashy person to do great things in the world’s eyes. He is looking for people like us. People who feel like the normal things aren’t so significant. Oh, but they are. Obedience to our heavenly Father is significant. It shows a lost and dying world that God is so much better than anything else this world has to offer. And it gives us greater joy than any futile grasp for our own glory could ever bring.