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Friday, October 12, 2018

Angry Women

When I was a little girl, in order to discourage my ever wanting to smoke cigarettes, my mother pointed out women who were smoking and looked hardened and wrinkled. They had yellow places on their fingers. She would say things like, "A lady doesn't smoke. It doesn't make her look pretty." I would nod my head in agreement. The women she referred to me certainly weren't pretty. It made this impression: ladies don't smoke.

The truth is, back in those days, most women acted like ladies. They were graceful, kind, knew how to sit, walk, and talk. They were dedicated to their families. They loved children.

I think we've lost something today. Sure, there are lots of family-loving women all over the world. A lot of them act lady-like, too.

But, the face of womanhood is changing. And, it isn't a pretty face. I see angry, shouting, confrontational women. I see women who think they're owed the protagonist part, the CEO position, and leadership—just because society wants more women in these roles. They are aggressive, mean, and bitter. They wear ugly clothing and march through major cities, shouting blasphemies. They brag about killing their own babies. They are so angry.

We shouldn't expect any society to be biblical. The world system will always fly in the face of God's Word. Christians are supposed to live in the world but not be like it. Christian women should follow God's ideas about womanhood before mimicking the negative examples around them.

So, what is God's ideal?
  • Strength and honor. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come (Proverbs 31:25).
  • Wisdom and kind words. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness (Proverbs 31:26).
  • Homemaker and industrious. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness (Proverbs 31:27).
  • Adorned with a controlled, quiet spirit. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price (1 Peter 3:3-4).
  • Trusting in God, submissive to her husband. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands (1 Peter 3:5).
  • A mother who instructs her children. My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother (Proverbs 1:8).

Has society gotten away from these values? Sadly, yes.

Should we despair? Absolutely not. We can be a testimony in this world. We can be godly women instead of angry ones. Be encouraged today by these verses:
  • For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness (1 Corinthians 3:19).
  • For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation (lifestyle) in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward (2 Corinthians 1:12, Paul speaking).
  • But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world (Galatians 6:14).
  • That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:15).

I love what Jesus says about this subject:

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying,
I am the light of the world:
he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness,
but shall have the light of life (John 8:12).

These things I have spoken unto you,
that in me ye might have peace.
In the world ye shall have tribulation:
but be of good cheer;
I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

God bless all you Christian ladies today.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Adultery: Misconceptions and Facts

Adultery is basically cheating on one's spouse. There are three kinds of adultery:
  1. In the heart—imagined adultery. Jesus said, But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matthew 5:28; also 2 Peter 2:14) 
  2. The act of adultery. It's one of the Ten Commandments, Thou shalt not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14). Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness…. (Galatians 5:19)
  3. Marrying a divorced person after divorce. And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery (Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18. See also Matthew 5:32; 19:9.).
Adultery is nothing new. It was a problem in Bible times, and it's a problem today—much more so because of the rampant use of pornography.

It's a subject that needs to be addressed because there are many misconceptions. Let's look at some of them.
  • Misconception 1—Adultery is no big deal. Well, it's a big deal to God. It's one of the Ten Commandments, God's basic moral law (Exodus 20:14). It's also prohibited in Deuteronomy 5:18. In the Mosaic Law, adultery carried with it the death penalty for both the man and the woman. And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death (Leviticus 20:10). At the very least, whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul (Proverbs 6:32). Adultery is sin, a serious sin. In the New Testament, Jesus mentions five times that it's important to abstain from adultery. It's mentioned many more times, too. When the woman was caught in adultery, Jesus forgave her, but He didn't sugar-coat it. He told her to go and sin no more. (John 8:3-11).
  • Misconception 2—Adultery in the heart is as bad as a physical adulterous relationship. I believe they are different, though both are sinful. Almost all sin is conceived in the mind before acted upon. Biblically, the act seems to be worse than the thinking, though a Christian should bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:5b). God's standard of holiness includes the mind. (Click here for a complete post about adultery in the heart.)
  • Misconception 3—If one's spouse commits adultery, the couple should divorce. Though Jesus said, that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery (from Matthew 5:32a; 19:9), He never promoted divorce for any reason. In fact, God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). It is wonderful when the couple can be reconciled. I personally know several couples who have successfully reconciled after a spouse's adultery. These teachings of Jesus apply to everyone, even married couples: Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother (Matthew 18:15). Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him (Luke 17:3-4). Is it difficult to forgive adultery? Yes, very. Trust must be earned and established again. But, forgiveness and reconciliation are possible with biblical counseling and the Lord's help.
  • Misconception 4—It's okay for divorced people to remarry. We've already read one of the four passages about this subject (above) and listed the similar passage and two that mention the exception clause about fornication. The Bible also says, For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man (Romans 7:2-3). This next passage might apply to a woman leaving her husband in the case of abuse. Notice what it says about remarriage: And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife (1 Corinthians 7:10-11).
God wants marriages to work. He designed marriage to be a lifelong commitment between husband and wife. And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? (Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7; Ephesians 5:31). A loving marriage is a beautiful illustration of Christ with His church (Ephesians 5:22-33).

Becoming one is something God does when the wedding takes place. The physical relationship is part of it, but the marriage bond means much more than that. It's a sacred institution. Marriage forms a family. That's why adultery is such a serious sin and God hates divorce. 

Let's guard our marriages. When temptations come, we can redirect our thoughts, flee, or whatever's needed. (Remember Joseph?) And, ask the Lord to lead you together in His perfect will.

If adultery has happened in your marriage, get counsel from a Bible counselor. 

 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, 
and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 
Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; 
and the wife see that she reverence her husband. 
(Ephesians 5:31-33)

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Break the Rules!

"Make your own set of rules."

"Dare to defy the rules."

"You need to break the rules a little. Live!"

Often, the advice seems to be anarchist. We're told that in order to really be artistic, live life to the fullest, and even be successful it's good to break the rules. (Which rules aren't specified.) And, society is buying it. Throw out the old. Bring on the new. No matter what's expected, do something different. Reward the rule-breaker.

Is this what a Christian should heed? Yes, and no.

We'll start with "no." God made rules for our protection. The Ten Commandments and other instructions found in both Old and New Testaments are for our good. Following His rules demonstrates our love and respect.
  • Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, for ever (Deuteronomy 4:40).
  • And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself (1 Kings 2:3).
  • The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure (Psalm 111:7).
  • Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments (Psalm 112:1).
  • Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth (Psalm 119:151).
  • Jesus said, If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15).
  • He also said, If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love (John 15:10).
  • And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him (1 John 2:3-4).
  • For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous (1 John 5:3).

"Yes." We should break the rules when they go against God's will. Look at these examples:
  • And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard (Acts 4:18-20).
  • Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:28-29).

God teaches us to obey our government.
  • Nobody likes taxes, but Jesus taught us to pay them. And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee (Matthew 17:24-27).
  • Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? … Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's (Matthew 22:17, 19-21).
  • Here's some more about the government—and taxes. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour (Romans 13:1-7).

Some of God's rules are for the family. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 5:22-25, 28, 33; 6:1-4).

Yes, there are rules, but it's also okay to be creative. The great King Solomon once said there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Even so, in the Bible we see all kinds of creative people, musicians, naturalists, writers, orators, and innovators. God applauds and uses people's talents for His glory. Think of the many builders and artisans who worked on the Tabernacle and the Temple, for instance. These buildings had many artistic details and much elegant handiwork--besides the math and geometry necessary to make the stones fit perfectly. Remember King David's harp performances and his orchestra and choir for the praise of God? Moses said in Psalm 90:17, And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it. There's a new song that redeemed people sing. We find it in both Old and New Testaments. I will sing a new song unto thee, O God: upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee (Psalm 144:9). Stone, iron, silver, gold, and brass workers dedicated their craftsmanship to the Lord.

Our own rules need to be in tune with God's. Our lives should happily submit to the Lord's guidelines. But, there's nothing wrong with creativity and innovation. Use your talents in the right way: for the glory of God.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Please Fund ME!

Okay, I understand the idea behind funding campaigns. Some people are in dire need, and friends want to help out. Many of the causes are excellent, and my husband and I have sometimes given through funding sites.

But now, there's a trend to fund yourself—or your favorite charity.

It makes me want to hang out my own shingle:

Please fund ME.
I want to take a trip to Venice.
Please give an extra $100 
so I can hire a singing gondolier.

Of course, it's only in my dreams, and I would never do that to my friends.

But, others do.

Instead of birthday gifts, please send money to this cause. The motivation is honorable, but was I really going to send you a birthday gift in the first place? I mean, we do send gifts to close family, but we draw a line. We don't have the means to give to everyone on our social media feed—or support everyone's pet causes—even though they're good ones. It makes me wonder if a simple Happy Birthday wish will even be appreciated, if I don't contribute as well. I'm not sure.

Similar requests—at least in my mind—are "Vote for my niece Charlie's photo." Isn't she cute? No doubt, Charlie's the cutest kid out there, but don't ask me to vote for Charlie when there are several hundred other kids competing … and not one of them is my grandchild!

The truth is, there are some urgent needs, and it's wonderful when a friend sets up a funding account for people who are in extraordinary circumstances.

But, your relative's wanting to go on a trip usually isn't a dire need. Your wanting to do something special—like my imaginary trip to Venice—isn't either. Good charities have their own funding websites, so it's not necessary for you to set one up for your birthday. It's not best to have random people give to your church, either. (Biblically, the church is supported by its members' tithes and offerings.)

When I was younger, if a young person wanted to do something—granted, he never dreamed of a trip to Australia—he mowed lawns, washed cars with his friends, and did odd jobs. He worked for it. He saved up his money. Two of our young relatives visited us in Spain this year. They had worked, sacrificed, and saved so they could tour Europe. We're proud of them.

So, why am I writing this post? Merely to make you think.

If you can help someone with a serious need, do it! If it's some crazy woman's dream of Venice (Ha ha!) or a teen's trip to Australia, forget it. Let them work, personally fundraise, and save for those things. I guarantee they'll appreciate them more. If I ever get to Venice.... As a final note, I won't ask you to vote for my grandchildren's pictures. That's a promise.

Withhold not good from them to whom it is due,
when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.
 (Proverbs 3:27)

But my God shall supply all your need
according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

(Philippians 4:19)