Just to refresh my memory, I’m re-reading my posts from Disciplines of a Godly Woman. This is helping me gauge if anything has changed since I first wrote these posts. It’s always good to review what got me started on this in the first place. I asked Karl to let me know which ones he thought I needed to work on first, the areas that need a little more discipline. I’ve updated several of these posts. If you remember them, then just scroll to the bottom for the update. Good grief, some of my posts are looong! One thing I must do is resolve to say more in fewer words.

The first section of Disciplines of a Godly Woman is all about developing disciplines for the soul. There are many spiritual disciplines (some of them not-so-Christian) and means of doing this, but Hughes emphasizes

The second section is about developing godly character. Hughes details developing

The third section is about a godly woman’s relationships

  • in the church (one)
  • as a single woman (I didn’t write anything about this chapter since I’m not single)
  • in marriage (one)
  • as a nurturer (one, two)

The final section is about a godly woman’s ministry through

I need the most grace in these areas: my mind (I need to recommit to being more intentional with scripture memorization), perseverance (I could stand to exert myself more), marriage, nurturing, good deeds, and witness (I need to pay attention to the people around me and TALK to them). I am keeping in mind what Peter wrote:

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.

Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:3-11

Grace of Discipline

Well, this is the final chapter of Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes, and quite possibly my favorite chapter. I have enjoyed reading this book again and taking the time to really think through each chapter. She begins this final chapter with a reminder of what we learned in the opening chapters: discipline means training. Hughes writes, “The disciplines godly woman rids herself of associations, habits, and attitudes that impede godliness. Then she invests her energy in the pursuit of godliness.” She fills this short chapter with encouragement and practical exhortations for the challenge to work hard toward godliness as God’s grace works so abundantly in us.

I love this quote: “Legalism says, ‘I will do this thing to gain merit with God,’ while discipline says, ‘I will do this because I love God and want to please him.’ Legalism is man-centered; discipline is God-centered.” She then gives her explanation for how to be disciplined without being legalistic.

  1. Prioritize. “Begin by reviewing the disciplines we’ve covered in this book and divide them into two lists–one list for areas in which you’re doing pretty well already and one list for areas in which you need help.” I did this after my first reading of the book and will share my lists (and my “plan”) in another post.
  2. Be realistic. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. It’s a marathon, not a sprint!
  3. Pray!
  4. Be accountable.
  5. If you stumble, “get right back to your commitments again. It is often ‘three baby steps forward’ and then ‘one giant step backward.’ But don’t give up!

She ends this chapter with a wonderful reminder of the abundance of God’s grace that He joyfully supplies to His children. I don’t know about you, but it gives me great joy knowing that I was saved by grace alone, I will grow in godliness by grace alone, and one day I will be glorified as a work of that same grace! It is God’s grace at work in me that moves me to discipline myself for godliness. It is God’s work which He began and He alone is going to see to completion! That does not mean I sit here like a bump on a log, but I recognize the work begins and ends with God.

Hughes closes with this final sentence and a song:

“Sisters, as we attempt to do God’s will, He always gives more grace.”

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done;
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
–Ann Johnson Flint

Discipline of Giving, Part 3

Barbara Hughes writes that “we need a thoroughly biblical understanding of giving” before we are able to give in such a way that pleases and honors God. This tells me that there must be a right way and a wrong way to give. There is a way to give that will not glorify God.

First of all, giving money does not earn a believer a better position with God. He cannot be bought!

Second, Hughes writes that believers must “understand that while giving will not bring favor with God, it does bring blessing.” I believe that God promises to bless those who give (yes, He does!), but I believe these blessings are primarily spiritual in nature, not monetary.

There seems to be a common misconception out there in Christendom that if you give money to your church or a ministry that God will return the blessing in kind, in some monetary form. For example, I heard one pastor, when asking his congregation to pledge to their building fund, say that God will keep their washing machines running and they might even get a good deal when they need car repairs! I was in another meeting, early in the year of 2004, in which some of the people in attendance began to chant, “More in 2004!” as they discussed how much money they would pledge to a certain ministry. Clearly, they were only giving with the hopes that their own pockets would be overflowing with money later in the year. Another ridiculous teaching I have heard is that God will get His money from you one way or another–either you give it willing through tithing or He takes it through unexpected events that carry high price tags, i.e. your car breaks down or you’re involved in an accident.

This kind of talk slanders God and distorts Scripture. Giving motivated by a heart totally given to God does produce blessing in our lives. But which would you rather have–a spiritual blessing or a bigger bank account? inner contentment or a new minivan? The way you spend your money and the way you give really does reveal what is in your heart. –Hughes

Third, consider the Macedonians (2 Corinthians 9 8) who gave out of their trial and poverty. Consider the widow in Mark 12 who gave from the very little she had. Jesus praised her saying, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more that all those who are contributing to the offering box” (Mark 12:43). God is pleased with generosity and sacrifice from GLAD and WILLING hearts, not seeking anything in return.

Finally, Scripture teaches that we ought to give serious thought to what we give. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” If our minds are set to give, then we can do so with cheer.

Thinking through this chapter of Disciplines of a Godly Woman has caused me to evaluate my own convictions regarding giving and whether or not I am the cheerful giver that God wants me to be. How many times do I give with the thought, “what else could I be doing with this money?” How often do I give and then consider, “Should I have done that?” I want to give with the thought that I am giving to Jesus Himself. Would I be stingy toward Him? I hope not. I want to be like Mary of Bethany who held nothing back, but poured every drop of her very expensive perfume at Jesus’ feet.

Read Part 1 and Part 2

Discipline of Giving, Part 2

Read part 1 here.

(Subtitled: What we did Tuesday)

I think that from now on we won’t be doing school on Tuesdays. I think I am going to make Tuesday my official errand day. Hannah and Benjamin have piano lessons on Tuesday mornings. By the time we are home and have eaten lunch, no one wants to spend the afternoon doing schoolwork. Especially me. I like to get as much of it done in the mornings as possible and keep the afternoons open for fun stuff. I am convinced our weeks will be much more productive if I cram all running around on one day rather than leaving the house for one trip every day. And since we are going out every Tuesday morning anyway, Tuesdays are our official run-around/out-of-the-house days.

For some unknown reason Benjamin’s skin is making it abundantly clear that it is He has had the worst nights he’s had in a long time. Wet wrapping and extra Aquaphor are not helping. His skin is so dry and cracked and hive-y I don’t know what to do. This morning I gave him a fast bath and then covered him from head-to-toe with Aquaphor while he was still wet in order to try and seal in some moisture. Then, he got dressed. I don’t know how he stands it!

We packed up some school books and headed to Mrs. Ball’s house for Hannah’s and Benjamin’s lessons. But on the way I noticed Benjamin’s neck starting to break out in hives. It wasn’t too bad and he wasn’t messing with it. We continued on to the lessons. By the time Hannah’s lesson was over, I was certain I needed to get Benjamin an antihistamine and there was NO WAY he could play the piano for his teacher. He couldn’t stop scratching long enough to do anything! We rescheduled and headed home.

Home: Benadryll. Next stop: the barber shop. While the boys were getting sheared, I called our allergist. He is a wonderful doctor. I like him better than any doctor we’ve seen–and we’ve seen MANY! He sees the boys and me quite regularly. He also understands me and what we’ve been through; therefore, he knows if I’m calling to ask for a topical steroid for one of my kids I must be desperate. He agreed to call in something for Benjamin–praise the Lord!! And praise the Lord for good doctors!! Anyway, I had promised my mother and grandmother a visit, so I called them, too. After the barber shop, we went back home to get something (I can’t remember what) and then to Publix to help with lunch at Nanny’s house.

We had a great visit with the grannies. My grandmother will be 79 next month, but she has a cell phone and a dvd player that she knows how to use. She recently purchased a dvd collection of “HEE HAW” episodes and I just had to watch one. Once my kids got used to the format they thought it was funny, and they love any kind of music. I loved this show when I was a kid. My fondest memories of staying at Nanny’s house involve watching “HEE HAW” with PawPaw, dancing to the opening theme song of “Dallas”, and waking up to the smell of eggs and sausage. I’d give two fingers to be a kid spending a weekend Nanny’s house again. There is just nothing like the love of a grandmother.

Mom asked her if we could throw her a little party for her birthday that’s coming up. Nanny said, “No, wait till I’m eighty and we’ll have a big one.”

Since we were in the neighborhood, I decided it wouldn’t be right to not visit Karl’s grandmother, too. When we got there, we realized we wouldn’t be able to visit too long because she had been cooking all afternoon for the Samaritan’s Clinic volunteers and it was time to get to the church and she was already late. But not too late to give the kids a few gifts she picked up for them. “Oh, and take this cake. I’ll get in trouble if I take it because I wasn’t supposed to make a dessert, but I did it anyway. And here are some cinnaomon rolls I made just for your boys.” [How did she know we were going to stop by?] On the way down the driveway, Noah asked, “Why does she always give us stuff?”

“Well, Noah, she just loves y’all so much is one reason. The other reason is that Mima learned an important lesson a long time ago. Jesus said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ And Mima is most happy when she is giving to someone else, especially the people she loves.”

Benjamin said, “Mommy, we need to be givers, too.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Discipline of Giving, Part 1

In this chapter of Disciplines of a Godly Woman, Barbara Hughes offers a sure cure for materialism–giving! She begins by explaining why most Christians believe that they are supposed to give 10 percent back to the Lord, but says this is “a woeful misconception. There were multiple giving requirements in Israel that came to considerably more than that.”

  • The Lord’s Tithe: Numbers 18:26 “Moreover, you shall speak and say to the Levites, ‘When you take from the people of Israel the tithe that I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you shall present a contribution from it to the Lord, a tithe of the tithe. 27 And your contribution shall be counted to you as though it were the grain of the threshing floor, and as the fullness of the winepress. 28 So you shall also present a contribution to the Lord from all your tithes, which you receive from the people of Israel. And from it you shall give the Lord‘s contribution to Aaron the priest. 29 Out of all the gifts to you, you shall present every contribution due to the Lord; from each its best part is to be dedicated.’
  • The Festival Tithe: Deuteronomy 12:10 But when you go over the Jordan and live in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and when he gives you rest from all your enemies around, so that you live in safety, 11 then to the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell there, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, and all your finest vow offerings that you vow to the Lord. 17 You may not eat within your towns the tithe of your grain or of your wine or of your oil, or the firstborn of your herd or of your flock, or any of your vow offerings that you vow, or your freewill offerings or the contribution that you present, 18 but you shall eat them before the Lord your God in the place that the Lord your God will choose, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, and the Levite who is within your towns. And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God in all that you undertake.
  • The Poor Tithe: Deuteronomy 14:28 “At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. 29 And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.
  • Grace Giving: Numbers 18:11 This also is yours: the contribution of their gift, all the wave offerings of the people of Israel. I have given them to you, and to your sons and daughters with you, as a perpetual due. Everyone who is clean in your house may eat it. 12 All the best of the oil and all the best of the wine and of the grain, the firstfruits of what they give to the Lord, I give to you. 13 The first ripe fruits of all that is in their land, which they bring to the Lord, shall be yours. Everyone who is clean in your house may eat it.

That’s more than 25 percent and does not include the freewill offerings! And we think we are so godly giving our 10 percent.

Well, what does the New Testament say about giving? The funny thing is that I can’t find a percentage anywhere in the NT. And it certainly doesn’t have anything to say about only giving out of one’s abundance. In fact, the most highly regarded group of givers can be found in 2 Corinthians 8 and they were dirt poor and enduring a severe trial. They gave out of their poverty!! Paul calls it “extreme poverty.” Another interesting fact about the way the Macedonians gave is that they did something else first: “but they gave themselves first to the Lord.” True grace giving has its beginning in first offering oneself completely to God. The example of the Macedonians proves that when God has your whole heart, money has no power over you.

O, Lord, let that be said of me.

Do not love the world or the things in the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh
and the desires of the eyes
and pride in possessions—
is not from the Father but is from the world.
And the world is passing away along with its desires,
but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
1 John 2:15-17