Category Archives: Giving Honor

Woman-hater

bubble-19329_1920And one parting post on Proverbs 31 and God’s view of women, from this Macbook at least.

It fatigues my already tired mettle when that worn out rag of an opinion resurfaces that Christianity is somehow anti-female. Of course, now that the definition of “female” is under debate, I suppose that is, itself, a shifting deck in a storm of opinion.  No matter, because at least, historically, there is in my mind (admittedly, for what that’s worth…) substantial evidence that feminism has its actual roots in true Christianity. 

Note the word “true”.  Not necessarily organized religion, because most people never bother to check out the Source Document for themselves, and if they do, it’s merely a cursory study without much in depth “what’s-really-going-on-here” desire to know truth.  I realize that’s a scathing indictment, but there it is.  

Case in point, here’s a story that can be easily misunderstood, but in reality, it’s one of my faves:

“Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre. He didn’t want anyone to know which house he was staying in, but he couldn’t keep it a secret.”

Duh.  He’s at the height of His popularity.  He and His crew can barely eat or get a moment alone to rest.  No wonder He fell sound asleep on the boat in the middle of a gale!!

“Right away a woman who had heard about him came and fell at his feet. Her little girl was possessed by an evil spirit, and she begged him to cast out the demon from her daughter. Since she was a Gentile, born in Syrian Phoenicia…”

Okay, stop right there.  There’s an old saying in ancient Judaism that goes something like, “thank God I’m not a dog, a Gentile, or a woman.”  OUCH.  In addition to these three, children in this era were also not exactly seen as high on the social scale, especially daughters.  So here’s where Jesus’ comment can be taken as confusing to our 21st century sensibilities:

 “Jesus told her, ‘First I should feed the children— my own family, the Jews. It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.’”

HOLD IT!  Call in the ACLU!  Protest marches!  Pink hats and speeches!  Massive Facebook posts!  NOT FAIR!  Most of us (me included) would be offended and walk away. 

But not this mom…

“She replied, ‘That’s true, Lord, but even the dogs under the table are allowed to eat the scraps from the children’s plates.’”

BINGO.  This gal chose, CHOSE mind you, to not be offended.  Her need, her love for her child, was more important than her selfish pride.  You want to call me a dog?  Fine, call me what you want, but this is what I’m asking for.

Except that Jesus wasn’t actually calling her a dog.  Look again.  Look at the company He was in, the dinner party of the other Jewish men.  With those words, Jesus was holding a very clear mirror up to their faces, spewing their filth back at them. When He said those words, however, I can see His eyes transfixed on the mother’s eyes, unblinking, waiting, encouraging, hoping,…

C’mon, girl.  Don’t give in to this cultural trash.  Don’t be offended with these words.  Reach out to the real Me.  Push through the pain.  Push through the confusion.  Forget your pride, it’s not worth it.  Think of your precious child.  Here I am. 

“Good answer!” he said.  “Now go home, for the demon has left your daughter.”

So actually the question about feminism, in this post at least, is rather moot.  The real point is the pressing compassion of the Christ, to every human, in every culture, in every time period, as well as our extreme need to not give up when it’s so very much easier to just throw in the towel and be offended, confused, or just too fatigued to press on. 

Because no matter what, His eyes are fixed on us.  Waiting for our response.

Mark 7:24-29 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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We made it!!

mom-1508902_1280FINALLY, we come to what some may consider the capstone (or the low point, depending on your political orientation I suppose) of Proverbs—the “Proverbs 31 woman”. 

“The words of Lemuel king of Massa, which his mother taught him…”

I remember a brief conversation with my mother, probably back in the late 60’s; I was around 9 or 10.  She said to me, “Dawn, you can be ANYTHING you want to be, and you don’t even have to be just one thing—you can do more than that!”  I could grow up to be an engineer (like my dad) or a doctor, start my own business, wow. I was never really aware of any gender barriers, not in my family’s culture.  My orientation from youth was “the sky’s the limit!”  So what did I choose as my profession?

Nursing. (Duh.)

The word “feminism” carries different connotations for different individuals.  For example, there are some that get genuinely frustrated with the masculine references to God as “Father”, which I consider merely a cultural personification.  This confusion is actually nothing more than Satan’s devilish device to cloud the true issue of God’s love and ever-expanding justice.

I say “ever-expanding” because it seems that justice is one of the over-arching themes throughout the Bible, and I reference the story below as an example of how God is waiting for us to “co-labor” with Him (again, I have no problem with that pronoun) to define His love and justice to a very confused (and confusing) world.

Backstory: Moses and the people of Israel are standing on the threshold of the Promised Land.  Land ownership was an important concept, so the dividing of the land was hugely significant.  At this time in this culture, only men could “own” land, which was passed down to sons.  But this one guy (who had now died while wandering around in the wilderness during that infamous forty-year hike) was survived only by his five daughters.

Now, these ladies could have easily thrown up their hands in bitterness and just resigned themselves to their cultural fate.  OR….

“One day a petition was presented by the daughters…These women stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the tribal leaders, and the entire community at the entrance of the Tabernacle… ‘Why should the name of our father disappear from his clan just because he had no sons? Give us property along with the rest of our relatives.’ So Moses brought their case before the LORD.  And the LORD replied to Moses, ‘The claim of the daughters of Zelophehad is legitimate. You must give them a grant of land along with their father’s relatives. Assign them the property that would have been given to their father.’”

Whoa!  Talk about bold!  Talk about initiative!  These women not only acquired justice for themselves, but reading the next several verses, also for many who were to follow.  New regulations were set up because of their action.

Another interesting point is their motivation.  They didn’t want their dad’s name to be disrespected by being left out of the land grant.  It wasn’t about them, it was about the honor of their father’s name.

Hmmmm….

God calls us to “come boldly to the throne of grace…”  It is there first and foremost that we find the true definition of justice, and God’s heart in forwarding that very thing, not merely for ourselves, but for those who are to follow, and most importantly, for the honor of our Creator’s character.  In fact, the Cross is the eternal symbol of, not only God’s love, but His justice.  And it’s paid in full.

Now, THAT’S bold.

Proverbs 31:1; Numbers 27   Tyndale House Publishers Inc (2008-06-01). The One Year Bible NLT (One Year Bible: Nlt Book 2) (Kindle Locations 9353-9365). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.


Getting Over Ourselves for the Well Done

Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men: For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen. –Proverbs 25:6‭-‬7, KJV

You probably remember the parable of the Wedding Feast as found in Luke 14. Jesus was basically retelling Proverbs 25 verses six and seven.

What are Solomon and Jesus telling us?

Get over yourself.

We live in a very individualistic society that says it’s okay to demand the best treatment and put yourself forward. After all, you deserve it.

But God says “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

That means to not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (See Romans 12:3)

Just as Christ, who, though was in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be attained, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (See Philippians 2:6‭-‬7)

Likewise, we should not demand our own way or seek prestige, power, or popularity. (I could be a Baptist preacher with alliteration like that!)

No, we should instead put others first and then say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.” (See Luke 17:10)

Then our holy King will draw us close on the last day and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”


Please Enjoy the Hymns (Don’t Move Landmarks!)

Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set. -Proverbs 22:28, KJV

I am fairly certain I fall under the Evangelical Christian label, so there may be some who will try to change that label based on what I have to say today.

Based on this verse, do not neglect tradition!

“Wait,” you may say, “you sound like a high-liturgy (i.e. Lutheran or Presbyterian) Christian or even Roman Catholic.”

Well, I reply, there is nothing inherently wrong with tradition. As a product of the Reformation, I do believe in Sola Scriptura, Scripture Alone.

With this, what I mean is that traditions that do not contradict Scripture nor distract people from Christ are to be honored.

Besides, many creeds and theological truths were cemented in Church history. They have become ingrained in our traditions. They are snippets of truth that have been hashed out by our spiritual predecessors. To ignore and forget them …

… well, look at the state of the Church today. There is widespread theological confusion and ecclesiastical animosity.

Translation: we cannot agree about God and the Bible, and we distrust those we should call brothers and sisters in Christ.

Because we “remove the ancient landmarks” the Church fathers set.

This does not mean blind faith in old teachings. Study and think through why we believe these teachings. (i.e. The canon of Scripture, the Trinity, Heaven and Hell, etc.)

To ignore what has historically come before leads to what we see today and failing to live as one as Jesus and the Father are one (John 17:22-23).

Also, please enjoy more of the old hymns! They are often so rich in truth!


Gray and Glorious Crown

Getting old is a fact of life; it’s something all of us will experience (unless we die). On the other hand, some people get old before their time, which is truly sad.

Most people blessed with longer life will experience the graying of their hair. It doesn’t matter if it’s on one’s face or head, or even in the ears or nose, it’s going to turn gray. That’s why hair color manufactures will always stay in business. There’s big business in trying to look young.

But for those who live long lives that honor God, their gray hair (that’s what “hoary” means) can become a testimony of His faithfulness throughout the years.

The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness. – Proverbs 16:31

I am mostly bald, but I could let what hair I do have grow out. If it did, it would have a silvery sheen to it. All I’d need is a little lighting and I’d look like an old-fashioned aluminum Christmas tree, just without the top branches. On the other hand, my face has plenty of gray.

The older I get, the grayer I get. The more gray, the more stories I can tell. The fact that I’ve lived as long as I have is a miracle, and that’s why I don’t mind the gray – it tells a story for those who want to listen.

The only reason my story is one I’m happy to tell is because I’ve experienced the grace of God. If my gray hair was the result of a wasted, squandered life, I’d have nothing to say, and my “hoary head” would mean nothing.

But oh the wonderful stories that come from seasoned saints who’ve experience the continued faithfulness of our God! The gray hair then becomes a crown of honor, dignity, and glory.


Your sty, or mine?

pig-214349_1920My grandfather used to raise hogs.  I remember as a kid how grandma would have the runts up at the house trying to feed them in the off-change they might decide to live.  And to this little girl, they were sooOOO000ooo adorable!  I was such an animal lover, and I would naturally end up naming them, like Sylvester Pigsley. 

Then one of them would succumb and grandma would just as naturally heave it over the fence.  (Can’t remember if it was Sylvester or not, but it was quite the education for a young suburbanite…)

I have also since learned that pigs are not overly discriminating with their dietary preferences; neither is keeping their personal space clean a high priority, thus our comments to the teenager’s room looking like “a pig-sty”. 

Okay, I’m still a suburbanite, but to this day I think a pig’s reputation gets a bit of a bum rap.  I’m told they are actually one of the more intelligent barnyard animals, rolling around in mud and eating slop notwithstanding.  All that intelligence is just hidden under gross and grunts.

Interestingly, the opposite is true with Solomon’s comparison.:

A beautiful woman who lacks discretion
    is like a gold ring in a pig’s snout.

In this example, we have all the beautiful trappings on the outside hiding what’s really within.  Now, here’s a guy with more than a little experience—something like 700 wives and 300 pseudo-wives.  I’m sure he had his share of less-than-discreet, (not to mention the hormonal drama…gag!)  Plus, consider that being in such a position of social and political power put him at higher risk when it came to the consequences of indiscretion.

Because it wasn’t merely about what she wore (or didn’t wear), but also about how she saw herself in relation to those around her.  A woman of true discretion knows that she has a “hidden congregation”, areas of influence, some of which she is aware, and some not.  By inference, this means people are watching and listening,…and learning.  

It also means that her decisions, her responses, her words, are a reflection on those who are dear to her, to their reputations as well.  How does what I say and do honor my husband and children, my parents, other Christians, and more importantly, my Lord?

people-2587456_1920Once again, as usual, it’s not just about me.  I may not be a king’s wife, but I am a King’s daughter.  (And with or without the gold ring of beauty, I have a crown.)

Proverbs 11:22 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


My Daughters

Proverbs 31:29 

“Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.”

What Matters

Over the years I have met many people. Sadly, many of those cared not about the virtues praised in this chapter, only fame, popularity, wealth, and beauty. Parents are often more concerned with whether or not their daughters make the team, wear the crown, win the ribbon, get the rich husband, or fit into that certain dress.

IMG_8999

Alicia on her wedding day.

However, I don’t care so much about all those things. Sure, I want my daughters to be liked and well-off. It even makes me swell with pride when they win awards or turn heads with a glamorous gown. What matters to me is that they become women of honor, courage, strength, and faith. What matters most is that they honor God.

Praise

Unfortunately, most girls get praised for being sexy, selfish, and seductive. Instead of praising the hard-working woman who is faithful to her husband and God, who takes care of her family, we tune in each week to reality shows that make millionaires out of harlots and place a premium on vanity, not virtue.

Haley and Katie @ Bryan College

Moms and dads, husbands, it is our responsibility to praise the woman “that feareth the Lord” (31:30). Whether they be young and in school, or mothers and grandmothers, our “daughters” should be praised for doing “virtuously.” And what higher praise could there be than to say, “Of all the virtuous, godly, Proverbs 31-like women in the world, you are the best“?

That is the praise my wife desires. That’s the praise I hope to teach my daughters to seek.