A Marathon, Not a Sprint

Like many of us, I’ve been struggling with anxiety this week. Our lives are full of uncertainty, and everyone is trying to figure out how to live, work, parent, and school while stuck at home. Since we already homeschool, our day to day lives are pretty much the same, although I’m a little concerned about the dwindling t.p. supply.

So I was a little surprised by how anxious and emotional I was feeling towards the end of the week. And then it dawned on me, the social distancing and isolation is bringing back really unpleasant memories of my pregnancy with my youngest.

I was extremely sick with my last pregnancy. I had hyperemesis gravidarum which basically means I couldn’t stop throwing up, and I lost a lot of weight. I couldn’t even keep water down. From week 7 to week 24, I rarely left the house.

I missed family gatherings, birthdays, Easter, and week after week of church. It was awful, and the worst part (besides the relentless nausea) was not knowing when I’d feel better. The strain was as much emotional as it was physical.

I realized at some point that what I was going through was a marathon and not a sprint. It didn’t help to push myself or get mad when I couldn’t do everything I was used to doing. I needed to be patient, rest, and learn to live with my limitations. I also had to lower my expectations and adjust my priorities.

So here’s my encouragement for everyone stuck at home trying to balance work and life and parenting and school. First thing, go easy on yourself and your family. Everyone is stressed. No one is coping as well as we’d like to be.

Next, be realistic with your expectations. At the end of each day, if everyone is fed, clothed, relatively clean, and the house is still standing, you’ve done what you needed to today. That’s priority one.

You don’t need to live up to anyone else’s standards. It’s ok if you can’t do everything. Your kids will be ok even if they don’t learn anything while they’re home. We’re in survival mode. It won’t last forever. As hard as it seems right now, things will go back to normal eventually. So hug your family, get some rest, trust in the Lord, do what you can, and try not to worry about what you can’t.

P.S. if you’re feeling especially stressed, I strongly recommend limiting your time on social media and watching/reading the news. Get outside if you can and do something active. Coleen and I talked with Ashley Glassick in recent episode on Anxiety, Depression, and Self Care. I hope our discussion encourages you.

Theology Gals Series on Essential Doctrines

Coleen Sharp and I have just wrapped up our series on essential doctrines. I’m putting the links here in case you haven’t had a chance to listen to the full series. We had a great set of topics, and I hope you’ll find them helpful. Our next series will be on the church. I’m looking forward to sharing those with you too.

Creeds and Confessions: We started the series with an episode on the importance of the creeds and confessions.

The Trinity – Eternal Functional Subordination with Glenn Butner: In this episode, Coleen and I interviewed Glenn Butner on the doctrine of the Trinity and eternal subordination with Glenn Butner. Glenn’s book is extremely helpful: The Son Who Learned Obedience: A Theological Case Against the Eternal Submission of the Son

Federal Vision: A Gospel Issue: We did 2 episodes on federal vision and why it’s a threat to the gospel. Part 1 focuses on the history and doctrines of Federal Vision and explain how Federal Vision is a threat to the gospel. 

Federal Vision: A Gospel Issue: In part 2, we continue our discussion Federal Vision and respond to typical statements about the topic. 

The Humanity of Christ: Coleen and I talk about the nature of Christ. In particular we address a couple of questions about empathy and servant leadership.

The Importance of Understanding the Law and Gospel: We talk about the importance of law and gospel and show the emphasis on law and gospel in the Reformed Faith.

Understanding the Law: This week Coleen and I discussed the three divisions and uses of the law. 

What is the Gospel? with Pastor John Fonville: This week is part one of a two part series with John Fonville. In part one we focus on the gospel and law and gospel.

Antinomianism and Legalism with John Fonville: This week is part two of a two part series with John Fonville. In part two we discuss antinomianism and legalism. 

Assurance: Coleen and I discussed the topic of assurance. One of the dangers of false teaching like we’ve been addressing in this series is the undermining of assurance.

The Work of the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit is often overlooked or misunderstood. Coleen and I discussed who the Spirit is and what He does in the life of believers.

Good Works: Despite claims to the contrary, Coleen and I are not antinomians. We strongly believe Christians should do good works. As R. Scott Clark writes, the question isn’t whether but why.

Essential Doctrines: Series Wrap Up: In this episode, we wrap up and summarize our series on essential doctrines. We also briefly discuss what’s up next.

Podcast Series on Counseling

My pastor, Todd Bordow, and his co-host, Chris Caughey, have a weekly podcast. Recently they’ve been doing a series on counseling, and I highly recommend it. Here are the links for the series episodes so far:

Critique of Nouthetic Counseling: “Staying with our Meredith Kline Applied series, we start a new section on counseling. This week we critique nouthetic counseling. The main reason for this is it was the counseling model that we were taught in seminary. It is also a popular model in Reformed churches. However, we also critique other counseling models as well.”

Counseling Continued: “Though we are not talking specifically about nouthetic counseling this week, we are talking about what Meredith Kline’s biblical theology might have to say to us about how we should counsel people in our churches. First we talk about verbal and non verbal ways of helping each other. Then we talk about some general principles of love, grace, and care.”

The Elephant in the Room: “In this episode, we talk about a very difficult topic. If you have children younger than teenagers who listen to the podcast, this episode is probably not for them. First, we spend some time talking about a general approach to ministering to a local church on the part of pastors and elders. Next, we turn to the topic of pornography. As it turns out, what Kline taught us about the nature of the New Covenant has profound implications for helping those who struggle with pornography.”

Narcissists and Manipulators: “This week we talk about a particular kind of person who is attracted to Christian churches. This episode may be the least related to Meredith Kline’s theology. But Kline’s understanding of the fall certainly helps us to see how there can be narcissists and manipulators.”

Men & Women: “This week we talk about what Meredith Kline’s theology has to say about men, women, and gender roles.  We will focus on Kline’s eschatology.  Hopefully this is helpful for both men and women.”

Links and Notes

I realize it’s been a while since I posted anything here. It’s hard to find the time to blog like I used to. Honestly, since the launch of Beyond Authority and Submission, I’ve found it difficult to write. It’s especially daunting to know that everything I say can and will be used against me. For today, I’d like to share a couple of articles.

First is an article I wrote recently for Modern Reformation, Is There a Place for Priscilla in Our Churches?

Within the conservative, Reformed world, the opinions on whether or not women can teach theology to men cover a wide spectrum. Some believe that women can do anything in the church that a non-ordained man can do. Others believe that women can teach theology to other women and children but not to men in any setting. A few believe that women shouldn’t ever teach theology.

When it comes to writing and speaking about theology outside the church, opinions vary even more. Should a woman speak at a theological conference? Answers include “Yes, but only if the audience is all women,” and “Depends on if she’s teaching theology or speaking from her own experience.” Should a woman write a book or blog or have a podcast? Answers include “Yes, as long as the book/blog/podcast is intended for women, it’s OK if a man comes across it and learns from it,” and “Books provide a separation between author and reader so a man isn’t learning directly from a woman.”

In all these discussions, I wonder what the modern Reformed Christian community would make of Priscilla if she lived today.

You can read the full article here. Predictably there have been some critical reactions to my post. All I’ll say in response is: Women serving like Martha in the church is not the same thing as having room for Priscilla in your church.

Along the same lines, I highly recommend Aimee Byrd’s recent piece, Not a Daughter of Sarah?

Not all teaching is behind a pulpit. And I don’t know what all this “usurping authority” is about. When Scripture calls us to teach and admonish one another (Col. 3:16), or that by this time we ought to be teachers (Heb. 5:12), to use our gifts of teaching or exhortation (Rom. 12:6-8), to pursue love and spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 14:1), when Scripture calls brothers and sisters to build one another up with a teaching if they have it (1 Cor. 14:26), are we to pretend that this is all directed only towards the men? Is exercising our gifts as disciples in the general office of layperson usurping authority, or obeying the authority of Scripture?  

I am struggling to understand what it is about me that needs putting a stop to. To where there is now an organized effort, with officers in my own denomination—men with spiritual authority—that are organizing offensive and defensive strategies against me. Me? Who the heck am I? I read about my “agenda” and my motivations, and I don’t know this person they are talking about. Talking is a kind word. Plotting, scheming against…slandering. Yes, that is appropriate. Normally, we would just be wise to ignore such people. Unless, they are in positions of spiritual authority. In your own denomination. 

Whenever you write or speak publicly, especially on topics like women anad men in the church, there will be critique and constructive debate. That’s to be expected. However, what Aimee and I (and others) have experienced goes way beyond legitimate debate and discussion. What we see are histrionics, personal attacks, name calling, gossip, and slander.

If you’re on social media, you’ve likely witnessed these kinds of behaviors. I haven’t spoken much about these attacks. In general, I would rather not give any attention to these guys. But sometimes it’s necessary to shine the light in dark places and reveal what’s going on. It’s time to stand up to the bullies who are sinning against us.

I encourage you to read the two articles I’ve linked here. I’ll close with a link for a podcast interview I did with Marcos Ortega and Lisa Spencer of Reformed Margins. We talk about what happens when women write and speak about theology. You can listen here.

Share Your Story

One of the reasons I wrote Beyond Authority and Submission was because of my concerns over what’s being taught about women and men in some facets of conservative Christianity. It’s not an esoteric, academic discussion. There are real world consequences. What we believe about the nature of women and men and how we should interact has wide-reaching effects on us as individuals and in our various relationships.

I’m working on a new project, and I need your help. My plan is to write more about the practical outworkings of prevalent beliefs about women and men. I’d like to use personal stories to illustrate the effects these teachings have had on real women, men, families, and churches. That’s where you come in.

I’d like to hear your stories, and I want to give you the opportunity to be heard. I’m curious what effect these teachings about women and men have had on you as an individual, on your marriage, on your family, on your church, or on your relationships. Whatever you’d like to share.

At the bottom of this post is a contact form. Messages sent through the form are emailed directly to me and do not post to the website. I want to protect your privacy. My plan is to change names and identifying information in the stories I use.

If you’d like more information, feel free to use the contact form to ask me any questions you may have.

Social Media Sabbatical

I wasn’t exactly an early adopter of social media. When I graduated from college in ’97, the internet was still very young. We had email, and there were some websites. But no one was doing much with them yet. Then there was instant messaging and forums and blogs. Those were fun.

In 2009, I reluctantly joined Facebook to keep up with my extended family and friends. I was virtually house bound. Pregnant with my youngest, I had severe nausea and vomiting (hyperemesis). I barely left the house. During that time, I started reading more, and I started blogging.

The social media world was different then. The platforms have changed a lot over the last decade, and sadly I think they’ve changed us a lot too. I’m still thankful for the connections to family and friends that social media facilitates. But I’ve decided to take an extended break from social media.

Why now? Well, I’ve been wanting to do this for a while now. I quit Twitter four months ago. With the 2020 election cycle starting, now is a great time to take a social media sabbatical. I’ll still be blogging and updating my Facebook page for this site. I’ll also continue to co-host the Theology Gals podcast with Coleen.

What will I do with my time this year? I’m looking forward to reading more. I’m planning to spend time studying the Word. A friend invited me to join her in a mystery book reading challenge. I’m excited about that.

Lord willing, I want to spend time writing. I have a handful of book ideas. I also have several areas of research to delve into. But what I’m really looking forward to is having time with my own thoughts and ideas, a chance to breathe and to focus on the things that really matter in life.

If you need to reach me, you can contact me through my “About” page or message me on Facebook. I’ll check my inbox regularly. God bless, and I’ll catch y’all on the flip side.

Read the Bible in a Year

For the last several years, I have been reading the Bible through each year. I’ve used several different plans, and there are elements of each that I’ve really enjoyed. But a few years ago I wanted to do something different. I like the idea of reading each book through so that you get a good feel for the flow of the book. But I really don’t like to wait until the last third of the year to read the New Testament. I love reading the Wisdom Literature, but I think I appreciate them more in smaller portions.

After looking through the various Bible reading plans available, I decided to create my own. My plan alternates between Old Testament and New Testament books, but completes one book at a time. On the weekends, my plan has readings from the Psalms on Saturdays and a chapter from Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, or Song of Songs on Sundays. Enjoy and happy reading!