Category Archives: Value and Worth

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.

Advertisements

Am I satisfied with what looks good or is good?

WisdomGod acts from the highest, purest motives.

God expects me to do the same.

Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good;
    God probes for what is good. | Proverbs 16:2 (The Message Bible)

Am I impressed by what is in the heart or what looks good? The glory of God is a huge thing. Do I see what others are doing to bring honor to Jesus? Or … do I hold others in contempt because they don’t dress as nice as I think they should?

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. | 1 Corinthians 10:31

What is the desire of my soul? Now that is a stunning question. Think about it. In my heart and soul, what do I really want? For myself? For others?

Is the desire of my heart and soul to love? How am I doing with that?

Indeed, while following the way of Your judgments, O Lord, we have waited for You eagerly; Your name, even Your memory, is the desire of our souls. | Isaiah 26:8

What is the good news? God has given me a new heart! I am a new creation. The old, evil ways have been washed away.

Does my heart condemn me? God has given me a new heart. It is the heart of His son Jesus. It does not condemn me. I can have confidence. I am whole.

We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God. | 1 John 3:19–21


Honoring Mothers

My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: – Proverbs 6:20 

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, but today is the last day in Proverbs chapter six. Therefore, I thought I would go ahead and give a little shout-out to my mom, Marie Baker. I thank God for her and for her wise counsel. I could have been a completely different person without a godly mother like her.

To her credit, I don’t think my mother would have turned out the way she did had it not been for her own godly mother, Lorene Cagle, my granny.

Then there was my dad’s mom, Mary (Hughes) Baker. She was an interesting woman to have as a grandmother…half Cherokee, the wife of a tractor-driving moonshiner, and one who threatened to “wear me out” if I ever got into a fight I didn’t win. She might not have been the “godliest” woman, but nevertheless I remember some of her advice to this day.

1941 Bunting Glider

Just this week I finished restoring a vintage 1940’s-era front-porch glider. The glider has been in my family (on my dad’s side) since it was new, but it had fallen into disrepair after years of neglect and exposure to the elements. I kept track of the restoration project with photos I posted on Facebook, noting the effort was an act of love for Mother’s Day.

I finished it on Friday, and my mom was completely thrilled with the result.

This morning I recorded a sermon to be aired on the radio tomorrow afternoon. Believe it or not, I preached from this very chapter, specifically from Proverbs 6:20-23. The main point that I tried to make was how godly and wise instruction from a wise and godly mother can make a huge difference in our lives.

We are told to “bind” the instruction of our fathers and mothers to hearts, even to tie them around our necks (v.21). The reason for this is pretty simple…

When you walk here and there, they will guide you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; when you wake up, they will talk to you. For a command is a lamp, teaching is a light, and corrective discipline is the way to life. – Proverbs 6:22-23 CSB

How valuable are the teachings of a godly mother? Think about it:

  • Wherever you roam, no matter how far you go, a mother’s guidance can give direction, keeping you from dangerous paths.
  • Sleep can be peaceful, restful, and restorative when you lie your head down knowing you’ve done things correctly, have no regrets, have confidence in the future, and know you’re loved.
  • As you go through your day, as you face new circumstances, the godly wisdom of a godly and wise mother will surface in your memory, giving you the sense that you’re not alone in the decisions you must make.

How many lives have been shattered on the rocks of misfortune, all because they didn’t listen to their mothers?

“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”
-Abraham Lincoln, U.S. President

When all the matriarchs in my life are gone on, and one day when I’ve passed on to my own heavenly reward, I hope my children will remember the impact my mother and grandmothers made on my life.

Maybe they’ll think about them as they sit on that old, front-porch glider.


The Preciousness of Wisdom

Hello, Dear Reader. I am a rarity to this blog, but I have come to share with you some truths of Wisdom which I have gleaned.

Last Summer, I found myself in a particularly tough place in regards to dating relationships. The person I was with for a period of three months was someone of immoral character and rebellion. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, so to speak, and I, being the naïve woman looking for a nice and caring fellow, fell into the trap of enticement.

During the last couple of weeks of my relationship, I was interested in reading Scripture, but it was rooted in how I wanted to prove to my parents that this person I spent time with was worth the time I had invested. I began to read through Proverbs for a short time, but once my relationship ended I began to have a bitterness fester within my heart due to some underlying problems with self-image and self-value.

I have always hated the possibility that one day I would live up to my middle name which means “bitterness,” yet that is exactly what I had become: a bitter young woman, full of rebellion against my upbringing. I spent a majority of my time during the last half of last year and the first part of this year in hate and corruption of the mind and heart, and the worst part was that I knew exactly how to remedy that pain I put myself through.

In a paper I wrote at the beginning of this semester, I stated:

“I know that God is real and loving and forgiving; I know with all certainty that He wants me to come to Him. Even so, I do not want the help that He has to offer my wounded and rotting spirit. I do not want to muster up the courage it takes to allow Him to scrape the putrid rot from my soul, just as a doctor must scrape and clean a burn victim. I do not want the comfort that He sends me through the gracious acts of others as they hold me and speak life into my heart. I do not want what I need. I want my own efforts to win over. Never have I understood so clearly how a dying man fights for his last breath – until now. I know that God is real, but I would rather trust my fingernails for security.” – The Strength of My Own Fingernails

Now, as I am recovering from this season of life, I can look at Scripture again with a refreshed mind and soul. Here is what I have learned from Proverbs 2:

Wisdom is:

  • A protector via discernment (v. 3)
  • A saving grace from wicked people (v. 12-19)
  • Something which only comes from the Lord (v. 6)
  • Something which must be sought out (v. 1-5)
  • Something which has value (v. 4)

Sterling Silver

In verse 4, Solomon refers to the value of Wisdom as being like that of the value of silver. This precious metal has been used in jewelry for thousands of years, including a piece which is now on my left ring finger. I wear a sterling silver band for several reasons, one of which to serve as a reminder that God’s Wisdom is something to be cherished. If only I had listened to the teachings of this Word and my parent’s concerns before taking my course of actions last year! I would have saved myself so much heartache and regret!

Wisdom is worth seeking out; it is a treasure to obtain. The catch is this: you must be willing to sacrifice your personal agenda in order to journey to find this treasure. It was only after I sacrificed my lifestyle and my hurt to Christ that I was able to access the Lord’s Wisdom again. If you want this treasure, it must be the only thing you seek.


A Final Thought (5 Years, 10 Months Later!)

Proverbs 31:31

“Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.”

What of Us?

At long last, we have come not only to the end of a chapter, but the whole book of Proverbs (and the second time through – it’s taken SIX YEARS!). The last verse of the last chapter is both a statement of praise for the virtuous woman and a challenge for us. Wisdom will receive the fruit of her labor. Her works will praise her in the gates. But what of us? What of our works?

The virtuous woman of this chapter has done everything with wisdom and grace; she deserves what is coming to her. The product of her faithfulness, her ingenuity, her holiness, and her benevolence will speak of her in the highest places of honor. Her works are her testimony; she need not speak of herself. But what will be said of us?

Fruit? Praise?

When it all comes down to where the rubber meets the road, we will reap what we sow. If the nearly two years it took to write the “thoughts” found here on this site (or the book which hopefully will follow) were worth anything, there will be fruit, and Wisdom will be praised in the gates.

proverbial thought pictureIt is hard to believe that almost SIX WHOLE YEARS have gone by since the first post on Proverbial Thought was written back on April 1, 2012! Much has happened; much has been endured; much has been learned; many have been blessed, and many have become wiser.

But the real blessings yet to be had are the ones that will be revealed in eternity: the marriages that stayed together; the poor choices not made; the hearts made more in tune with God’s Spirit; the lives saved by simple moments of vulnerability; the eyes turned to Christ, the Wisdom of God.

Thank you, dear friends and subscribers, especially all the contributors, for a wonderful and enlightening journey through this ancient book of wisdom – God’s Wisdom. I pray it was fruitful.

Now, what next?


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.

 


Blessed

Proverbs 31:10, 28 

Who can find such a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies….
Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

This last chapter of Proverbs has provided the male contributors to Proverbial Thought with several opportunities to reflect on the blessing of a good wife. Perhaps that is something all husbands should do more frequently. Perhaps by taking stock more often husbands would be prompted to praise their marriage partners instead of taking them for granted.

This challenge applies to our children too. How often do children fall into the same trap as their father and fail to appreciate just how blessed they are by their mother? This does saddle fathers with additional responsibility. If children see their father taking their mother for granted then it seems inevitable that they will fail to truly value the blessings they receive from their mother.

Marilyn and Reuben copySo here in my final entry as a contributor to Proverbial Thought I want to take the opportunity to thank my wife Marilyn. It is difficult to adequately express my gratitude. In two months we will celebrate our thirty-fifth wedding anniversary. As I look back on those thirty-five years I know that God has blessed me beyond anything I have ever deserved in a wife, and I thank Him for what I consider to be an arranged marriage. When God chose us for each other He knew what He was doing. He always does.

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19: 3-6 NIV)