Oct 24, 2011

Admonish and Exhort

Sometimes I feel like a nomad. I laugh when people ask me where I am from.
I grew up in North Carolina but when I was about 5-6 years old I lived for a short time in Florida and Texas. I spent a brief time in Florida again in college but ended up moving out to Oregon to marry my husband. A year after our wedding we were settling into a new home in Minnesota for him to finish his college education. About two years and five months later we moved back to Oregon. We were back in Oregon only about seven to eight months before moving to Nebraska where we lived for two years. We have already been here in Missouri for three months. Did you follow all that?

When I was at work this morning, a guest asked me for some help and then asked me a question concerning the location of another store in another part of the area. I explained that I could find that information for her up at our front desk but that I am fairly unfamiliar with that part of town as I am new to the area. Of course, she wanted to know where I moved from. And, when I shared my brief story, she asked if we were planning to settle down any time soon. I answered enthusiastically that I certainly hope so.

We haven't moved all over because it is our hobby to change up the scenery every few years; there were many reasons for each move. Travel is great but moving is another ball game altogether. It is the desire of our hearts to make a real home and put down some roots. To buy a home. Make friends. Join a church.

One big reason I desire to settle down is to cultivate a sense of community. I have certainly known people in the various areas we have lived but the majority of the time I have not been very close to anyone and have felt quite alone. The MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) organization really changed my life when I joined after moving to Nebraska. I had about zero social life so I loved (and still do) going to MOPS meetings and talking to other moms who, despite our quite varied stations in life and philosophies, had two precious things in common, motherhood and Christ.

Do you know that the Bible has something to say to the Church concerning how we interact as a community? Of course, there are many examples but one in particular I want to share today. Titus 2:1-8 (NKJV)

"But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—  that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you."

I love this passage. Paul wrote Titus (a pastor) a letter reminding the older women and older men in his congregation of how to conduct themselves properly. Then he teaches that the older women are to admonish (1. To caution, advise, or counsel against something. 2. To reprove or scold, especially in a mild and good-willed manner. 3. To urge to a duty; remind.) the younger women. Paul also teaches that the older men are to exhort (1. To urge, advise, or caution earnestly; admonish urgently. 2. To give urgent advice, recommendations, or warnings.) the younger men.

Perhaps, or almost certainly, what has been missing from our (me and my husband) lives has been Christ-like examples within the Church demonstrating and urging proper behavior and attitudes. I feel Paul knew that it was not enough that the pastor preach about proper conduct. It is vital that there be accountability and real examples among the community. It is not enough that we young people open our hearts to advice and counsel but that older people not only live their lives as examples but have the courage to speak up and be willing to teach.

It has most certainly been a struggle in today's present society for myself. My choices of marrying young and having my children young and being a stay at home mother that plans to homeschool my children have not always been greeted with enthusiastic encouragement and support. My own mother was a good example for me but it would have been useful to see more women in the church as examples. Thankfully I am finding inspiration from other women on the internet who choose to be Godly wives and mothers and share their thoughts on these matters. Knowingly or unknowingly they are being Titus 2 women and truly making a difference.

In today's society, it can also be quite a struggle for a young man pursuing the ability to provide for his family and lead them to live Godly lives. A simple and Godly life and sharing that with your family isn't what young men are often told is the key to success. A fulfilling career, personal accomplishment, and the pursuit of self-fulfilling entertainment are what society says will make them happy. A man may seek to be blessed but he can not be truly blessed until he sees the simplicity of the meaning of the word. Blessed means to be "blissfully happy or contented."

Until we purpose with our hearts to live out our God given rolls in life, listen to the counsel of the older community members, and be willing to teach others, we will not likely experience the full benefits of a Church community. Let's all purpose to be Titus 2 Christ followers.
♥ Shari

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