An Ephesians 5 Man

This week in small group, we decided to toss the questions provided to guide discussion and simply dig into scripture on our own. Just your average college aged girl leading a group of high school girls in a study solely looking at the word of God, without any outside curriculum… A truly crazy idea, am I right?

Wrong. It’s not crazy at all. It’s a beautiful thing when you let God’s word speak for itself and allow room for the Holy Spirit to move. It’s an exciting thing to see young women read a passage of scripture, pull out information, put it in their own words, and grasp its relevancy.

The topic of the night was boys. I didn’t want to have a surface level discussion about crushes and peer pressure. Those are all things I as their small group leader am there to talk about with them, but are also all things that scripture can speak to. That night I wanted to have a discussion rooted in scripture that taught them that God’s word is as relevant now as it was 2,000 years ago.

So listen up, ladies. My high school girls are about to teach you a thing or two about what a man of God really looks like. Here’s what we learned by walking verse by verse through Ephesians 5:

v1: He is an imitator of God.
v2: He walks in love.
v3: He isn’t characterized by sexual immorality, impurity, or covetousness/idolatry.
v4: His speech isn’t full of filthy/foolish talk or crude jokes. He also exudes thankfulness.
v6: He doesn’t deceive you with empty words.
v7: We are not to enter into intimate relationship with people who are characterized by these things because they will “dull your shine.”
v8-10: He walks in light and strives to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.
v15: He walks wisely.
v16: He uses his time wisely.
v17: He seeks God.
v18: He doesn’t get drunk and is instead filled with the Spirit. Real life quote of one of my girls: “He’s not hunky if he’s a drunky.”
v21: He reveres (has great respect for) Christ.
v23: He is a Christlike leader.
v25: He loves you as Christ loves the church and makes sacrifices for you.
v26: He is interested in your sanctification (your growth, your process of becoming more like Christ).
v28: He loves you as he loves his own body.
v29: He nourishes and cherishes you.
v33: We are to respect him.

Note: These qualities are things we should all strive for, whether we are a man or a woman. In this context, though, we were finding qualities we should be looking for in a future husband.

We were able to walk through this passage and gain an understanding of the type of guy we should be looking, praying, and waiting for. We talked about understanding that we are all sinful and will all fall short of these things (so not to hold ourselves and others to outrageous or legalistic expectations), but to be aware that if someone is continually showing a pattern of red flags we should reevaluate whether a relationship with them is healthy or not. We shared stories, struggles, and spent time encouraging each other. It was truly a sweet time together, and guess what? All we needed was God’s word and His presence!

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A New Song

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“Sing to the Lord a new song…”

I was sitting at a conference about six weeks ago listening to a session taught by Richard Chin. He began by reading verses from Psalm 98. “Oh sing to the Lord a new song,
for He has done marvelous things!” Chin kept reading but my mind stopped there. In that moment I got stuck on this idea of singing new songs, and I have been mulling over it for about six weeks.

Come to find out, the phrase “new song” is found nine times in the Bible:

Psalm 40:3 – He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God…
Psalm 96:1 – Sing to the LORD a new song; Sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Psalm 33:3 – Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.
Psalm 98:1 – O sing to the LORD a new song, for He has done wonderful things…
Psalm 149:1 – Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song
Isaiah 42:10 – Sing to the LORD a new song, sing His praise from the end of the earth!
Psalm 144:9 – I will sing a new song to You, O God…I will sing praises to You.
Revelation 5:9 – And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You…”
Revelation 14:3 – And they sang a new song before the throne…
I am also reminded of Mary’s song in Luke 1. Oh how I long to be like Mary, singing praises to the Lord because I am so full of joy.
All of these verses appear to be speaking about songs of joy and praise. Do new songs have to be joyful ones? What if the songs in my heart are more so songs of lamentation?

John Piper said, “There is a deep release and a relief that comes when we find a way of seeing and saying some precious or stunning reality that comes a little closer to closing the breach between what we’ve glimpsed with our mind and what we’ve grasped with our heart.”

As much as I long for the songs from deep within my soul to be ones of pure joy, I think my songs of sorrow can bring just as much glory to the Lord. In this season of my life, I have experienced more heartbreak, pain, anxiety, and despair than I ever knew was possible. One thing after another, it seemed, was being thrown at me. The Lord, though, remained faithful.

I experienced new depths of His grace and mercy. Even in the deepest and darkest corners of my mind and heart, His love and light broke through. I experienced His relentless love and comfort in ways I never had before. I learned to rely on Him to supply my needs. As what I knew in my head to be true of God was being taught to me in real ways through my circumstances, my heart began to grasp the knowledge in a new way. My new song began to form.

When driving home alone late at night reflecting on my day, when waking up in the morning to an overwhelming day, and when spending time with sweet friends that speak truth to me, the Lord works in me new songs. He puts words to my aches and to my laughs, and helps me to piece together the displays of His sovereignty so that I may articulate His character in such a way that brings Him honor and glory.

I wish I could say that I have been fully delivered from this season of heavy depression and anxiety and that I am singing new songs of great joy. The truth is, I am still walking through it. But, the Lord, in His goodness, has put a new song in my heart that I will gladly sing as I fight to rest in Him.

As I’ve learned from David’s psalms, it is okay to cry out to the Lord. It is okay to be honest, to speak of our sufferings, and to be transparent about our broken and crushed spirits. In fact, there’s roughly 65 Psalms that do just that. How encouraging to know that others before us have also cried out songs of lamentation to God.

It is important to remember that we must combat our struggles with the truth of God. In the psalms of lament that I’ve read, I’ve noticed a pattern. The writers speak of their pain, but also speak truth about who God is and what He has done. That is the beauty of the songs we sing; that they reveal sweet truths about our Father, whether they are songs of joy or songs of sorrow.

As I wrestled with the idea of what a new song should look like, I realized this simple truth: Regardless of my circumstances, and despite the groanings of my soul, my songs should praise God for who He is and what he has done. This I can do when I am overflowing with joy and this I must fight to do when I am drowning in pain.