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Is Compliance Obedience? Is Disobedience Rebellion?

Gavel

Lately, I’ve been pondering the question:

Must we, Biblically speaking—as Christians—ALWAYS obey ALL authorities? I am just guessing, but I believe this has been an often debated question from way back when time began. Think Adam and Eve.

Dictionary.com defines compliance: “the act of conforming, acquiescing, or yielding, a tendency to yield readily to others, especially in a weak and subservient way.” Kinda mindlessly following. God wants us to have the heart of a servant, not to be SUBservient out of fear or dread. We must not check our heart at the door. Whatever we do, must be with our whole heart, in response to the love we have for our Creator God. Our Father. He always wants our best. And He has a plan. The plan He has for me will NOT look like the plan He has for you or for any other person. We are unique and each of our paths are unique.

I want to tell you a story.

Many years ago, I think it was 1986 or 87, I came face-to-face with that decision. Did I have to obey? Was I facing a forced compliance? It is not a frivolous question. And there are no easy answers. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me give you a bit of background.

The Mission Field.

When we had our initial interviews, the mission authorities understood that my husband and I believed with our whole hearts that God had called us to homeschool our children. We felt we could not compromise that “calling” in order to join in ministry with the group. They would be with us wherever we went.. And…Thankfully, the authorities agreed. We had a green light that all was in order. We were delighted that they honored our commitment.

However, when we came back to the mission headquarters in California–from language school in Costa Rica—we needed to go through some additional intense training before we were released to our assigned country.

Things changed.

THAT is where we had to make a decision. Must we, Biblically speaking—as Christians—ALWAYS obey ALL authorities? The “authorities” said EVERYONE had to put their children in California schools or daycare during the training season. We reminded them of our agreement. They said “No exceptions”. We were stunned. What happened? What were we to do?

We didn’t argue. They ran the mission. We had to obey the rules. Or did we? We prayed for wisdom. Our pastor’s daughter was willing to come to our headquarters apartment to stay with our kids during the day while we were in training. And then I could go down between classes and during lunch and other breaks and check on my kids.

We presented that option to the “authorities”.

They said they would consider it but we would have to pay for the nannie ourselves. It costs a fortune in California, and we did not have that kind of money available to us and there was no time to raise that kind of additional support. It was “D-day”. NOW! we had to have a solution. So,we asked if the money they were going to pay for us for the California Day Care could be used to pay our “nanny”. They said NO! Absolutely not. They couldn’t set a precedent. So, I was beside myself with grief. It looked like we were up a creek without a paddle.

What would YOU do?

My husband was busy in flight training school.

I was alone with the children. I talked to God about what to do. I cried and prayed and cried and prayed and prayed some more for God to provide.I felt POOR. And forsaken. I felt betrayed and confused. Why were they making it so hard for us? Where was their compassion? Shouldn’t they be keeping their word? Shouldn’t they be delighted we were committed to obeying what God had clearly told us to do to raise our children? After all that crying and questioning and praying…I began to ask…

What did God want me to do?

He tells us in Hebrews 13:17 NLT “Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.”

I didn’t want to give them grief.

But I simply could not do what they asked. But 1 Peter 5:5-6 NLT instructs: “In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for God opposes the proud but give grace to the humble. So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.”

And Romans 13:1-2 NLT teaches: “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.” Does that mean that someone else makes decisions about how I am to raise my children? No, I don’t think so. There is a Higher Authority that decides the family structure.

What does Peter mean when he says to humble myself?

Does that mean that they are right and I am wrong? It was a horrible testing time. I was so grief stricken. The Webster dictionary defines humility as “not being proud, haughty, arrogant, or assertive.” I truly don’t think I was doing any of that, but was I being a rebel?

Was I in rebellion against my “authorities” like Romans teaches?

Rebel is defined by Webster: “to oppose a person or group in authority: to refuse to obey rules or accept normal standards of behavior, dress, etc.“ I didn’t feel like I was rebelling, but rather reminding them of our original agreement and their promise to us. Was I rationalizing? NO! I know that I had to do what GOD said. Not man. I knew that I would have to accept the consequences, however it turned out. And I was willing to do that, but I was so very sad. I trusted God but I wondered if I had misunderstood Him. But I knew I had NOT misunderstood God. Too many things along the way since BEFORE the children were born, convinced me that I was on the right path. Our “sending” church from back home was fully behind us homeschooling our children. But perhaps we had misunderstood going to the mission field?

What would YOU do?

And then, there is also the other side of the story. The mission “authorities”:

“The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power but love, not force but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion. Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serve.”

John Stott

I prayed and cried some more

It all seemed impossible. We were going to have to leave the mission and go back home…failures!! Quitters!!!

There was a knock on my door.

It was a missionary neighbor. She said she had just gone up to headquarters to get her mail and she had received a letter with a check in it. And she didn’t need the money. And…

Are you ready for this?

She felt that God had told her to give it to me. And…are you ready for this? It was the exact amount we needed to pay a “nannie” to stay with the kids in our apartment so I could attend the meetings and come down often to check on the kids during the breaks.

THE EXACT AMOUNT NEEDED

AT THE LAST HOUR
CONFIRMATION THAT WE HAD INDEED HEARD GOD’S PLAN FOR OUR FAMILY.

So, I immediately went up to headquarters and told them the news. I hate to say, but truthfully, I can’t remember what they said in response. (I was kinda floating around on a cloud of joy.) But I do know that everything fell into place and it all worked out beautifully.

So, back to the initial question:

Must we, Biblically speaking—as Christians—ALWAYS obey ALL authorities? It’s not just cut and dried one size fits all, is it?

If you ask Father God, He will tell you when to stand firm and when to yield. It won’t be easy, but it will be GOOD! And you will know in your “knower” when He has given you your answer…

I’m praying for you right now…

My Father: Experiencing God's Love A-Z

Pamela Taylor invites you to join her in this interactive acrostic devotional journal designed to draw you into the extremely personal and abundant love God has waiting for you. Experience the "Just ask..." of His love for you!

My Father: Experiencing God's Love from A-Z by Pamela A. Taylor

Let's Connect!Until next time,
Awaiting His shout,
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Christian Life Coach
Leading from Your Strengths Mentor
www.loavesandfishescoaching.com


Guest Post: Emily’s Journey with Jesus

Nativity Set

Background

It was perhaps a decade or so ago that Emily Forsyth and I first met at church. She was young and pregnant with her fourth child. She was weary, but hungry to be all God intended her to be. Little did I know that the Lord would allow me to be a part of her “story” for all these years. I love being in the background, watching God work as he is molding her into a thing of beauty, fit for the Master’s use. She has found the path to the source of Joy.

God adores His “girls” and He is a good, good Father. He can be trusted to direct our steps if and when we surrender to His leading. He wants us to know that He is intimately involved in our lives, just as He has been in Emily’s. We are each a work in progress. And we all need someone to remind us it is not about us. We are merely to allow ourselves to be vessels through whom God works.

Emily has given me permission to share this article with you. She originally wrote it for her church newsletter. My prayer is that you will be inspired to stop and think how God might help you to more fully find your own unique path of decrease so that He might increase in your life.

And now…Here’s Emily……


…Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.

John 3:29-30

I just love how our church is buzzing with excitement over the children’s Christmas program! I can’t help but remember back in 1991 when the words were announced by the Sunday School Director, “and the role of Mary goes to…Emily!” That moment, my ten-year-old heart must have skipped a beat. I couldn’t have been more happy to have been chosen to wear that sky blue robe and hold the plastic baby Jesus as the congregation sang Silent Night. At that year’s Christmas eve program, I’m sure I was beaming with delight.

I have always felt the urge to be front and center. What is that about me? It’s not that I have many skills or talents to offer. It’s just that I sometimes don’t mind the “story” being about me.

Several years ago, I had taken a stance in front of a group of people, and in the days following, I began worrying. I found myself at an emotional low. I turned to an older, wiser sister in Christ for counsel. She patiently listened while I shared my heart. I told her of the people, and the things I had said, and how I must have sounded stupid, or unkind. They must have thought I was hateful. I carried on… After a while, she stopped me. She gently put her hands on my arms, and looked into my eyes. “It’s not about you, Emily.” What did she mean it’s not about me? I was the one with anxiety because of this stance that I had taken. Didn’t I have to get it straightened out to be myself again? But as she paused, that truth struck me. This. was. not. about. me. This was about GOD. Everything is. The moment I took myself out of the picture, and focused my concerns on the story being told about God through that situation, I could breathe again. Not only could I breathe, but I felt joy! John the Baptist said “…Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”

From then on, I realized how much of my life I spent trying to play the starring role in a story that was never about me to begin with. I realized that I was created for a purpose, with giftings, and talents, and passions that were given to me to play a specific supporting role in God’s story. I was created to direct all attention to Him, like shining a spotlight, or making the announcement, or opening the curtain. I no longer had to be the shining star, because in His eyes, I already was! He made me precious in His sight! There is nothing more, nor less I can do to be worthy. And the joy is found when each of us works together to fulfill our supporting role as part of the body of Christ to further His kingdom and shine the light on Him.

When I adapted the principle that “it’s not about me,” everything changed. I stopped striving and over-preparing, and watching to see what others were thinking of me. I knew that it no longer depended on me to get it right, but that God would always get it right. My relationships, my health, my finances, and my faith all grew stronger. Now, whenever I feel consumed with thoughts about what people think of me, or whether I am succeeding or failing, I stop and find a way to serve someone else in the name of the Lord Jesus. It’s amazing how small acts of service toward others can relieve feelings of anxiety or depression. It’s a way of directing our attention away from ourselves. It’s because we were created for that — to play a supporting role in God’s big story! If we do His work, we will find a joy that passes all understanding.

So, to that ten-year-old little “Mary,” I would say, “hold that Jesus high and make sure the light shines on Him. Don’t worry if you fall out of the spotlight, because there is no greater blessing than to be the one who makes great the name of the Lord.”


Emily ForsythEmily Forsyth

Emily finds her joy in Jesus, coffee, and people. As the only extrovert in her family, she admires her quiet, steady husband, Aaron, and their four children. They homeschool and live in Clear Lake.


God Loves Aardvarks: And God Loves Me

"Thank you, God, that you love all the animals and bugs. You love funny looking aardvarks and you love me."

Thankfulness through the alphabet. That's what this fun book will teach the kids in your life.

God Loves Aardvarks and God Loves Me

Let's Connect!Until next time,
Awaiting His shout,
pam_signature-c49a6c

Christian Life Coach
Leading from Your Strengths Mentor
www.loavesandfishescoaching.com


Creative Injuries

Woman teaching a class

Continuing Ed Classes

I had been teaching a continuing ed class at my community college. The room was full of people that actually paid for me to teach them. Wonder of wonders, many were public school teachers. The class I was teaching was “Spalding, The Writing Road to Reading”. It is an amazing language arts jewel. The class was going well and the adult students were engaged with lively interactions as they learned new techniques. They were excited about the potential for their students. It is actually fun!

Homeschooling and Tutoring

Having taught my own children and also having tutored other people’s children, I was confident and enthusiastic because of the excellent results I had gotten using this method–even when the child presents a dyslexic challenge. All children benefit!

I had begun sharing an experience I’d had with a distraught and frustrated mother who had come to me for help. Her dyslexic teenage daughter hated reading. The mother had gotten all sorts of reading material for her, to encourage her to read ANYTHING. Nothing had worked.

Sidenote: I have a rule

I won’t teach another person’s child the Spalding method unless at least one parent goes through the training of the basics, with their child, because when the parents also learn the Spalding method they can reinforce at home what their child has learned in my tutoring sessions. We all need to be on the same “page” with the same direction and goals so their child has the greatest opportunity for success. So, the mother learned the basics along with her daughter.

A phone call

Then, one day after just a few months of learning Spalding, the mother called me. She was over-the-roof ecstatic! She had come home to find her daughter reading THE NEWSPAPER of all things. She was reading EVERYTHING in sight. Talk about a joyous conversation! Wow!

The Continuing Ed class reaction

As I was sharing that story with the continuing ed class, I mentioned that I homeschooled my own children. This was many years ago, when homeschooling was almost considered child abuse, and the Teachers’ Unions and Legislators were fighting against homeschooling. I once even had a teacher tell me she was actually TAUGHT in college that parents were INCAPABLE of teaching their own children. So, when these “educated” teachers found out I homeschooled, suddenly what they thought was wonderful, COULDN’T be because I had taught it and I did not have a teaching DEGREE.

That, my friends is an example of a Creative Injury.

Success no longer mattered

They were furious at me—this UNSCHOOLED ordinary woman. Never mind that I had had great success. And never mind that they had been so excited about all the possibilities with their own classrooms of students. Never mind that it actually makes learning FUN!

Suddenly, I was an “ordinary woman”

I suddenly had no credibility in their eyes. It was a stunning experience. But one for which I am grateful. Do you wonder why I am grateful?

This is not a new thing.

We humans do it all the time. We put education and degrees above knowledge and wisdom and experience. We are impressed when someone has a bunch of degrees after their name. Sometimes, all that means is that someone is very good at taking tests. Or something else as simple as that.

But God has a different criteria

I knew that I was not as smart as the experts were, but I also knew that God sent me the kids HE wanted me to teach, encourage, and influence—Including my own. I also knew that I had been trained and was qualified to teach the Spalding method. I knew that I had experiences they did not have. I had proven the effectiveness of the methods in the trenches, where it matters.

I am grateful Jesus chooses misfits

He loves to astound the elite. The educated. The prideful. So, He chooses people who are willing to be ridiculed as they follow in His steps, seeking His wisdom and guidance all along the way. I’d love to hear your experiences from either side of this equation.

An example from Scripture that there is nothing new under the sun..

”The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.

Acts 4:13 NLT

As each of us deasl with our own experiences of “creative injury”, may people be able to say of you and me that they recognize that we had been with Jesus.

Life is challenging and sometimes people hurt us, but God is good all the time. BE with HIM and all else will fall into place in your life and you will have JOY because you have lived your life in His presence.

Daddy, Daddy! Guess What I Saw Today?

From a flock of geese to a dog on a leash, the pages of this winsome little book are filled with things we see around us every day. Pamela A. Taylor takes those everyday items and looks at them through the eyes of a child; making them seem exciting and new while also teaching children how to be grateful for the God who created them. Take a walk with Pamela through the pages of this book and help your little ones see God’s hand in the beauty of life.

Let's Connect!Until next time,
Awaiting His shout,
pam_signature-c49a6c

Christian Life Coach
Leading from Your Strengths Mentor
www.loavesandfishescoaching.com