Three Reasons to Study the Bible with Older Women

CHRISTINA FOX|EDITOR Over the years, I’ve participated in many Bible studies. Some were specifically for women in my age and stage of life, such as college and career, young marrieds, or those in the trenches of motherhood. Other studies included a mixture of women from varying ages. Yet even in those studies, I found myself gravitating toward my peers—women who were pursuing their careers or busy at home with young children or running everywhere with their pre-teens. I wanted to connect with women who knew what I was going through, who shared in a mutual understanding of the challenges of juggling work and home life or who were also wrangling little ones or navigating the challenges of the teen years.   Recent years have found me in a Bible study where the majority of women are not in my age or stage of life; rather, they are older than I. These women are at or near retirement. Their daily concerns are not centered on the logistics of family life with children. Their conversations don’t focus on the daily challenges of work at the office. In fact, many have big concerns about real and frightening health issues. Or heart-breaking relational issues with their adult children and grandchildren. But you know what? Despite the difference in age, experience, and concerns of daily life, we have one key thing in common: our love for Christ. We are sisters in the Lord and these older, wiser sisters have taught me much. As it turns out, in the Kingdom of God, age is not a barrier to understanding. Just because someone is in a different stage of life than I, it doesn’t mean they can’t relate to me; rather, age is a bridge that leads to valued treasure—for the wisdom gained after years of walking with the Lord is a wealth of untold measure, a wealth we can all benefit from. Three Reasons to Study the Bible with Older Women God designed it that way: It may seem elementary—a truth many of us know—but it’s an important one to revisit. The Bible doesn’t say much about women’s ministry. Except in one place: Titus 2. In Paul’s letter to Titus, he instructs Titus in what a gospel centered church looks like. In the second chapter, he gives Titus specific instructions for various groups in the church, including women. That’s where Paul exhorts older women to disciple younger women (vv.3-5). These older women were to be spiritual mentors to the younger women in the church. They were to teach them what it means to love and submit to their husbands, how to glorify God in their mothering, and what it looks like to be a woman of God. These older women were to take what they learned from Titus’ preaching, apply it to their own lives, and then in turn help the younger women apply the gospel to their lives. Whether it is in one-on-one discipleship, a Titus 2 small group, a Bible study, or in an informal relationship, we all need to learn from older women. And what better way to learn than in the context of studying God’s word? As we dig into the Scriptures together, our older sisters in Christ can point us to truth. They can model for us how to live out the gospel in our daily lives....

Three Reasons to Study the Bible with Older Women2022-05-04T23:19:03+00:00

Four Reasons Seminary Wasn’t for Me {And Why Every Woman Should Consider It}

KATIE POLSKI|CONTRIBUTOR Several years ago, I sat at the kitchen table with my husband, and I proceeded to hammer him with a list of questions related to a Bible study I was in. This, my friends, is one of the benefits of being married to a pastor. After exhausting him with my imploring questions, he looked at me and said, “You should consider going to seminary.” I considered this for about six seconds before moving on to my next theological inquiry.   At that point in my life, I had not been in enrolled in an academic class since college. And the last class I remember in college was on Shakespeare. And the last academic paper I wrote was done in a computer lab—do those still exist? And so, six seconds was about all I gave to this far-fetched idea of going to seminary. Ridiculous.  But I couldn’t shake the thought, and so I jumped far out of my comfort zone and decided to audit a class. My plan was to sit in the back row, take a few notes, and just see what it was like. By the end of the semester, I had moved to the front row and took notes so voraciously that the notebooks I have are hardly legible. I was a sponge, absorbing every word, and I was hungry for more. Not long after, I enrolled in seminary and began my journey toward a Master’s in theology. You don’t think seminary is for you? Neither did I. For several reasons: I’m Not A Theologian My idea of seminary was that it was a room full of young men who were either experts in biblical studies or who were well on their way to being connoisseurs. It didn’t take more than a week for this assumption to be shattered. In each class I met men and women from all walks of life, all different stages and ages. I was placed in a group for my first seminary assignment with three other students. The youngest student suggested that we keep our work on a Google doc, and I panicked. For the love of papers, I had never heard of a Google doc. I pulled up my trusted Microsoft Word and scrolled through the headers looking for “Google doc.” Friends, this should do nothing but assuage your fears, especially if you are a “late” starter in higher education. We all come to seminary with different experiences, backgrounds, perspectives, assumptions, and we grow. We grow in our understanding of who Jesus is. We grow through discussions and honest questions. And we leave changed...

Four Reasons Seminary Wasn’t for Me {And Why Every Woman Should Consider It}2022-05-04T23:19:14+00:00

Delicious Despair 201

ANN MAREE GOUDZWAARD|CONTRIBUTOR My entire backyard burst with the colors of spring. Everything bloomed. It was a perfect, 70-degree day and the landscape showed off. I looked out my window and saw the wicker chairs scattered under the pergola and balloons dotted on the boulders strategically situated throughout the yard. When we invested in landscaping last year, I had visions of hosting joyful events. The picturesque backdrop was perfect for a tea party or bridal shower. In fact, we planned to host a “baby sprinkle” for my daughter that very day. (A “sprinkle” is a baby shower for couples who already have children.) Cori and Brett had all they needed for two kids, but then they found out they were expecting twins. So, we planned a sprinkle to help them provide for multiple babies. We hosted a memorial for the twins (Deacon and Hallie) that day instead. In 2020, the pandemic reminded us to preface our plans with “if the Lord wills.” Everyone’s agenda hit a “hard stop,” and we realized how precarious goals are. For our family, 2021 ushered in the opportunity to experience that truth in real time. My husband and I planned for chaotic bliss in adding a twelfth and thirteenth grandchild to our already bustling family. Together with our other children, we coordinated our calendars to support Cori and Brett at her due date. God had another plan. The Lord willed something different. Something more difficult. An accommodation we had no idea we would need to make. And so began my education in grief. What’s essential in the grief process is to try and grasp God’s redemptive plans. This takes time. It may even last indefinitely. In Delicious Despair 101, I wrote that Martin Luther fully expected the pain of suffering to result in a transformation.[1] For instance, in opposition to the “first step” of grief (denial)[2], candor looks suffering in the face and says, “Yes, that really happened.” Candor acknowledges devastation, but it also asks, “Now what do I do?” Wallowing in self-pity over the events God ordains is antithetical to biblical grieving. In 1 Thess. 4:13, Paul instructs mourners not to grieve as those without hope. So, we must keep moving through our grief and actively seek wisdom to reinterpret what happened as perfect and good...

Delicious Despair 2012022-05-04T23:19:25+00:00

How Much More: Marveling at God’s Care for His People

I was privileged to attend a small Christian university. At the beginning of every semester, regardless of the subject, my professors began their new classes with a reminder of God’s creation. My chemistry professor enthusiastically announced we would be amazed at how God had constructed the atom. A calculus professor started his semester telling us that math demonstrated God’s order in the universe. Even the fine arts professors would introduce their topics by reminding us that God knitted each individual together before anyone else even knew they existed. The authors whose works we would read were graciously knitted together with talents for communicating ideas through the written word. Studying under godly professors gave me an appreciation for learning subjects with an eye toward how each fit into God’s creative plan. One of my retirement goals was to get back into college to study subjects that had always fascinated me. Ornithology was on my list. Birds are so diverse and so numerous; scientists are still working on categorizing the eleven thousand known species. The sights and sounds of birds are a beautiful part of God’s order. Birds have been remarkably designed with vision, hearing, touch, and smell senses that surpass that of humans. Some birds can see ultraviolet wavelengths, and some, like eagles, can see four focal points that they watch at once. Certain owls can catch a mouse in total darkness, guided only by their hearing. The sandpipers’ bills are so sensitive that they can detect differences in pressure when they probe mud to sense things before even touching them. Many birds use an acute sense of smell for navigation. Others can sense the magnetic field, read the stars, track the sun, and hear infrasound as part of their navigational skills. Luke calls our attention to birds in chapter 12: “Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” (v. 24). As much as I have been in awe of the birds I have studied, I am reminded in this verse of how much more in awe I should be of those God made in His image...

How Much More: Marveling at God’s Care for His People2022-05-04T23:19:34+00:00

Not me! Not I…but Christ

One of the perks of studying abroad with a college theater group was free or cheap tickets to theatrical productions playing wherever we were. Actors like to play to full houses, so if there are spare tickets, they are happy to find worthy recipients. On one such occasion while I was studying in Italy, the British National Theatre was touring with their production of The Passion Play, and we somehow gleaned tickets for a performance in Rome. Because we had the “cheap seats” (the groundlings), we got to be very close to the action, sometimes part of the action, as we stood on the floor (for six hours with one dinner break). The first act told stories from the Old Testament, and the second act, the story of Christ from the gospels. Of course, during the Palm Sunday scene, everyone was excitedly cheering. Then during the Good Friday scenes, most of the audience was excitedly jeering. Except me. As one who seemed to be the “token Christian” in my group, I was not about to cry out, “Crucify Him!” I loved Jesus and wanted no part in demanding His crucifixion. And that’s what I shared when a couple of the others asked why I had been quiet. I thought of myself like one of the women who had followed Him and watched the crucifixion, devastated by His murder. I had even portrayed Mary Magdalene several times in an Easter monologue―but I had not considered why she followed Him even to death. (See Mark 16:9.) That kind of gratitude was not part of my response at the play, nor even part of my testimony....

Not me! Not I…but Christ2022-05-04T23:19:43+00:00

The Spirit’s Work of Regeneration and Renewal

EMILY DARNELL|GUEST I recently enjoyed a morning hike to a waterfall in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. As I hiked closer to the stream, the rushing of the water drowned out all the other noises of the forest. I could no longer hear the birds singing to one another. I sat down to take in my surroundings and a passage that I had just studied came to mind, a reminder from the LORD of His work in me. Titus 3:5-7: He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in  righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing  by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,  so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Regeneration and Renewing The pouring down of that waterfall helped me ponder the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. This passage in Titus is one of two New Testament occurrences of the word “regeneration.” The original audience would have pictured water baptism, which is the outward sign pointing to the inward reality of the Spirit’s washing, and of our cleansed conscience (Hebrews 9:8-14). In Old Testament sacrifices, the sprinkling of the blood symbolized cleansing; water now symbolizes the cleansing that is ours in Christ. The Spirit does the work of regeneration. As He does, the voices surrounding us urging us to just try harder, or the accusatory voices using the Law to conjure up old guilt, begin to fade away. The Spirit washing us by regeneration is the beginning of our new life, the beginning of His rich work in us. In addition to regeneration is the Spirit’s work of renewal where He makes all things new. He doesn’t patch us up, fix what is broken, or strengthen us to remake ourselves; rather, He makes us anew, born again. He takes Christ’s work on the cross and applies it to each of us so that we might have abundant life and growth in Him (see Colossians 3:10)....  

The Spirit’s Work of Regeneration and Renewal2022-05-04T23:19:52+00:00

Practice Hospitality

HEATHER MOLENDYK|CONTRIBUTOR PRACTICE is a word worthy of adoration. PRACTICE is a solid, steady friend. The one that shows up day after day to get all the things done. PRACTICE extends a hand of grace and a boost of encouragement. It leaves room for mistakes and allows for another opportunity to do it better. PRACTICE gives the pat on the back and reassuringly says, “You’ll never do it perfectly and that’s okay. Just do your best today!” When PRACTICE made an appearance in the Bible, I admit I was initially surprised. It doesn’t seem like a particularly holy word. I’m used to seeing PRACTICE hang out with friends like PIANO, BASKETBALL, FLASH CARDS, and PARALLEL PARKING. Nonetheless, I happily waved PRACTICE over to sit down and visit for a moment. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:13 (NIV) Sports are a logical thing to practice. There are rules to memorize, cardiovascular gains to make, and muscles to build in order to succeed. Music makes sense to practice. Success with scales, songs, and styles all require the dedication that only practice time can give. Most of us can envision what steps must be taken and what benchmarks must be reached in order to succeed in a variety of life-skills. But hospitality? How do you practice hospitality? In his letters to Titus and Timothy, Paul gives hints on how to build up spiritual disciplines. He tells Timothy to “set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12). He tells Titus to “be a model of good works” and dedicates a large portion of his letter on how the older generations should train up the younger ones through example (Titus 2:7). I began to think through the examples of hospitality I have witnessed in the lives of gracious women God has placed around me....

Practice Hospitality2022-05-04T23:20:01+00:00
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