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Monday, April 29, 2013

Woman Power

You hear the phrases all the time:
            Giving women a voice
            Put yourself first.
            Empowering women
            Breaking the glass ceiling
            Pamper yourself.
            Enabling women
            You deserve . . . .
            Giving women a voice
            Women at the top
            Gender equality

Upon Margaret Thatcher’s recent death, I heard one of her famous quotes, “In politics if you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” (May 20, 1965)

How about these quotations?
  • “Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed.  If I fail, no one will say, ‘She doesn't have what it takes.’  They will say, ‘Women don't have what it takes.’" (Clare Boothe Luce)
  • “Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels.” (Faith Whittlesey)

  • “Never let the hand you hold, hold you down.”  (Unknown)
  • “Women are the only oppressed group in our society that lives in intimate association with their oppressors.” (Evelyn Cunningham)

I had to laugh at this anonymous quote, “I am woman!  I am invincible!  I am pooped!” Maybe she was a working mother with toddlers.

I’ve even read something to the effect that God didn’t quite get it right with Adam, so then He made Eve. (Not true, of course. Read Genesis 1-2.)

I find that a lot of Christian women are struggling with their identity.

What’s a woman, in the great scheme of things?

Who are we supposed to be? What about all the expectations? Do we have to prove ourselves? Do we need to be more than wife and mother?

Do we really need men anyway?

Is it important to be pretty and feminine, or should I reject all that?

What’s the biblical philosophy about being a woman? What does the Bible say to these issues, so prevalent in our society? We can take heart; the Bible does have the answers.

Let’s start with the beginning.

When God created the world, He did it as the backdrop for His crowning creation—man. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it (Genesis 1:27-28a). Do you see any superior and inferior here? I don’t. Both men and women were given dominion over the earth.

God later declares, And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good (Genesis 1:31a). Everything that God had made was good. Man, woman, animals, plants, light, seas, dry land—everything was good. This gives the same value to men and women. Men aren’t better than women. Women aren’t better than men. We have the same value.

Adam names the animals and birds, and then God makes him a helper (Help meet means “helper.”) Eve is made from Adam’s rib, and then they are married. (Genesis 2:20-24) There’s a clue here about a woman’s role in marriage. She was made to help her husband. This has nothing to do with value. It has to do with her purpose and with order in the home.

The concept of biblical submission has been greatly misunderstood. Some feel it’s demeaning to women, that women are somehow less than men. The Bible never, ever implies that! It’s important to know what it does say:

Ephesians 5:22-24 says, 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 everything.

Q Looking at these verses, who is a wife to submit to? (two answers)
A her own husband, the Lord

Q Who is her head? 
A her husband

Q In what things should she be subject to her husband?
A in everything

Q With what attitude should she do this? (beginning of the passage)
A as unto the Lord

Now, let’s read 1 Corinthians 11:3: But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of every woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

Here we see God’s sense of order. Everyone has a “head.” 
Q Who is Christ’s head?
A God

Q Who is the man’s head?
A Christ

Q Who is the woman’s head? 
A the man (her husband)

Is it negative to have a head? Obviously not, since Christ has one! Here, we have a glimpse of God’s order of authority. God the Father is in a position over Christ. Is God the Father more important or better than Christ? No. They are equal; both are God! But Christ was obedient to His heavenly Father. There is even an order in the Trinity!

Man is in a position over his wife. Does that mean he has more value or importance than she? No. Genesis tells us that all of God’s creation was good. Both Adam and Eve were made in the image of God. They were created “good” with the same intrinsic value. The fact that God wants women to be subject to their husbands, and the fact that the husband is appointed as head of his home has nothing to do with one being superior and one inferior.

It’s about order.

If we put what we have learned from both Ephesians 5 and 1 Corinthians 11 together, we see that God and the church have a certain order:
  1. God the Father
  2. God the Son
  3. the church 

There’s also order in the family:
  1. God (Christ)
  2. the husband
  3. the wife

We aren’t less. We aren’t more. We are equal, but we have a different role. Submission is not a negative term. It’s a description of function. Submission has nothing to do with doormat or unintelligent or silly. Submission is a place.

It’s a role of passion and power—woman power in the biblical sense.

(We’ll go into more about a woman’s role in the next post. Part of this post, from the Ephesians 5 passage to the last paragraph, is edited from a couple of pages in my new book His Ways, Your Walk.)

Friday, April 26, 2013

He Leads Me

Man’s goings are of the LORD;
how can a man then understand his own way?
(Proverbs 20:24)

What a thought-provoking statement and question!

There’s so much here. First, God is in control. He knows man. He knows me.

The question is rhetorical. We already know the answer. Since God is in control, how can man understand his own way? The answer: impossible!

The solution is found in one of my favorite Bible passages, Proverbs 3:5-6. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

In my head, I started to sing this old hymn:
            He leadeth me:  O blessed thought! 
            O words with heavenly comfort fraught! 
            Whate'er I do, where'er I be,
            still 'tis God's hand that leadeth me. 
            He leadeth me, he leadeth me,
            by his own hand he leadeth me;
            his faithful follower I would be,
            for by his hand he leadeth me.

What a concept! God—the Ruler of the universe—cares enough about me—His silly and wayward child—to lead me where I need to go.
  •  In the Old Testament, we watch God leading the Israelites day and night. He tells them where to stop and pitch their tents and shows them when to move on. By day, His presence and leadership is in a visible cloud, and by night, they see a fiery pillar leading them. And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night (Exodus 13:21).
  • All through the Bible, we see the Good Shepherd leading His sheep. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand (John 10:11, 27-28).
  • We have God’s Word to lead us. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105).
  • God Himself leads us. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day (Psalm 25:5).
What a wonderful, freeing thought—that God leads us and we can follow Him. He gives us all kinds of leadership, especially His Word. All we have to do is follow. 

It’s that simple.

Why do we complicate things?

My own experience is that God leads. Many times, when I have been at a crossroads (or coming up on one), I find that God is already there, that He has already prepared the way. When I’m in tune with Him, He has already made it easy for me to follow His leadership. He makes the next little step clear. And, that’s all I need.

I want to see the whole picture. I like being in control.

But God knows what’s around the next bend. And He leads.

My job is to trust Him and follow.

Why do I make it so hard sometimes? Why do I get anxious about what’s going to happen, when all I need to do is trust Him today?

I read a blog post this afternoon, which said, “Abide in Him today.” I needed that message. 

Tomorrow is of the LORD.
How can I then understand my own way?
I will trust in the LORD with all of my heart.

"He leadeth me: O blessed thought!" 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Comparing Buildings

Dhaka, Bangladesh—A factory building collapsed on Wednesday morning, killing at least 123 and injuring hundreds. People continue to search through the rubble, extracting the injured and the dead.

In Jesus’ day, a similar event happened. It was the tower of Siloam that fell, and eighteen people were killed.

Let’s read the story:
There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish (Luke 13:1-5).

Bad things happen. They can affect anyone at any time.

When Jesus was on earth, for some reason Pilate killed people from Galilee. It could have been politically motivated. Whatever the reason, Pilate was taking it out on the Galilaeans and killing them. Jesus used this example to say it wasn’t necessarily the Galilaeans’ fault.

Likewise, when the tower fell and eighteen people were killed, those people weren’t any worse than anyone else. It wasn’t their fault that they died.

The big picture in these two stories, the big lesson is the same: the spiritual condition is more important than the physical. Unless there is repentance of sins, spiritual death is the result.

Consider these verses:
  • For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23).
  • For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death (2 Corinthians 7:10).
  • I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance (Luke 15:7).
  • Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:31).
  • The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

 Death comes to all men.

It is important to be ready when it comes.

Have you repented of your sins and accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior? Have you put your faith in Him?

That decision is the most important one in life—and in death.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Thoughts About Earth Day

Monday was Earth Day, dedicated to “saving the earth.” Plant a tree (or hug one), recycle your plastics and paper, mulch your shrubs, and so on. One of my friends shared this poster, which I loved.

My husband should get a medal for recycling and a wise use of resources. He has planted more than a hundred trees on our four acres. We use—thanks to his hard work—a renewable source for heating our home. He plants and tends an organic garden every year.

I do my part by recycling, hanging clothes on a line year-round, and turning off lights I don’t need. I save peelings and other veggie scraps for compost. I use a few wood cooking utensils and stay mostly away from plastics for food serving and storage. I confess to using paper towels sometimes, plastic wrap, and rarely, aluminum foil, so I’m not completely natural. I haven’t yet gotten into vinegar for cleaning. (I prefer it on my salad!) I also refuse to wash out—using soap and hot water—cans that are super dirty inside, just so I can have a clean conscience about recycling them later. I would say we are a fairly normal European household.

When God created the world, man was given dominion (rule) over everything that God put on the earth—all the plants and all the animals. (Genesis 1:27-30) I believe we have a responsibility to be conscientious about how we use what God gave us.

But, there are those who would have us to go on a guilt trip about using the earth’s resources.

Let’s take paper, for instance. Just this week, a machine told my husband that it would be good not to get receipts at the bank’s ATM (which are maybe 3” x 4,” on thin paper), so as to save trees. Granted, paper does come from trees, and you do have to cut them down in order to make it. This process usually involves chemicals, and it’s stinky. But, trees, especially pine trees, are some of the most easily renewable of renewables. A pine tree takes only 30-40 years’ growth to be ready for the sawmill. That means two whole stands of pines could grow in a lifetime. I would doubt seriously that a whole tree would be needed for the ATM receipts of our lifetime, all piled together. I refuse to feel guilty. (Besides, we cut off the bank number and recycle them!)

Animals? Well, you might be a vegetarian. (Fine with me.) But, if I choose to eat a piece of meat, say chicken, it’s renewable also. Now, I admit I don’t care to farm chickens myself, but I appreciate those who do. Little chicks grow to adulthood in eight weeks, and they can grace my Sunday table shortly afterwards. Other meats are renewable, too.

And, how about coal, oil, and other fossil fuels? I believe they can be used responsibly. I refuse to go on a guilt trip every time we fill our car. Oh yes, it would be nice to run a car on electric, solar, hydrogen, or something else—when it becomes cost effective and is actually good stewardship of our money.

And, when solar, wind, and water power become as inexpensive as other sources of electricity, you can give me a call.

The Bible says:
The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein (Psalm 24:1, quoted twice again in 1 Corinthians 10:26 and 28).

The Christian knows there will be an end to this earth, followed by new heavens and a new earth:
  • For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind (Isaiah 65:17).
  • But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Peter 3:10-13).
God put the fossil fuels and minerals in the earth. He is sovereign. He knows how long they will be needed. I have full confidence that the God of the universe will have planned His creation well enough to care for all of mankind during all the time we will be on this beautiful, old earth.

I liked this one, too. 

Happy Earth Day—a few days late!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


(To those of you who have left comments over the last week or two: I made some kind of a mistake and wiped out all the comments. I did read them, post them, and answer each one. But . . . due to my own technical disabilities, they disappeared, and I haven’t yet figured out how to retrieve them. I love it when you comment, and hopefully, this won’t happen again. Sorry!)

I’m reading the book of Proverbs, striving to read it thoughtfully. There is so much meat in Proverbs. Almost every sentence is a new theme, and sometimes I get caught up in all the changes and don’t make the connections.

Today, I read Proverbs 16 and 17. Verse 17:1 caused me to stop and think: Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife. I don’t know about you, but there are very few “dry morsels” that I like to eat. I enjoy savory, juicy foods. I love sauces, fruit, crispy salads, and gooey desserts. I don’t prefer dust-like breads, cookies, or crackers.

But looking again at this verse, it’s a comparison. It’s better to eat dusty bread and live in a quiet, peaceful house than in a house full of religious offerings with strife. It’s so true! (Of course, it is; it’s the Bible.)

I decided to search Proverbs to find more comparisons. What things are better? What are they better than?

Here’s what I found:

  • Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith (15:16).
  • Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith (15:17).
  • Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right (16:8).
  • How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver! (16:16)
  • Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool (19:1).
  • Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off (27:10).
  • Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich (28:6).
Did you see a common thread?

There are two:
  1. It is better to have less and be peaceful than to be wealthy and live in strife.
  2. It is better to live for God, doing right, than to do wrong, whatever the financial gain.

(The only contrast outside of these themes is verse 27:10, about a friend who is near being better than a brother who is far away. Practical!)

The instruction of Scripture is always clear. In these “better” verses, the Bible urges Christians to value the spiritual over wealth and peace over wealth.
Do we do that? 
  • Are we quiet and peaceful in our homes? Or do we shout and chide? Is their tension in our home?
  • Do we bend standards of righteousness in order to profit monetarily? Are we willing to be dishonest in our business dealings? Or on our tax returns? Or even “apple polishing” for our own gains?

 So, much food for thought. Let’s choose what’s better!

Sunday, April 21, 2013


“I was there,” said the lady when I found her in her living room watching television. I had waited for her at the appointed place for around fifteen minutes and decided to go to her house to see if she were ill. She swore that she was at the appointed place—even as she sat in her living room. She wasn’t there (probably forgot to go), but she’d never admit it.

“The horse ate the bill,” was a woman’s excuse for not paying. Yeah, right. Either she took her mail to the barn, or the hungry horse came inside the house. And we’re supposed to believe that?

A young woman is sitting in the school office flanked by a school policeman and the principal. She had been fighting another young woman, and the policeman had broken up the scratching, clawing, name-calling fight. The young lady’s father says, “My daughter would never fight another person. She’d never hurt anyone. It’s your fault! She doesn’t deserve suspension.” Caught in the act, but she didn’t do it.

Years ago, people used to laugh at the actor Flip Wilson, who excused every bad action with the phrase “The devil made me do it.” Well, maybe, probably . . . .

This week, when the alleged Boston bombers were identified, their parents claimed it was an FBI set-up. Their sons couldn’t have done it. The boys had never told them they were radicalized. Etcetera.

It makes no difference that there’s photo footage of at least one of the brothers planting his bomb. It makes no difference that the brothers told the owner of the hijacked SUV they were the Boston bombers. It makes no difference they were in possession of explosives and other arms (which they used against police). It makes no difference that the youngest participated in a one-hour shooting standoff with police, when he was discovered bleeding, and hiding in a boat. No, they couldn’t have done it.

You tell me: if a criminal is planning a crime, does he tell his mother? “Mom, I’m thinking about robbing a bank. I plan to do it next Friday at ten o’clock. My accomplice is my friend Buster, and this is how we’re going to pull it off . . . .” No one does that!

Even though a person may seem to be normal, well adapted, intelligent, and all the other adjectives we’ve heard bandied about, if he’s guilty, at one time or another, he made a conscious choice to do wrong.

Was he capable of making a wrong—terribly wrong—choice?

Of course.

The Bible tells us where sin comes from:
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies (Matthew 15:19).
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man (Mark 7:21-23).

The Bible also describes the process of sin:
But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death (James 1:14-15).

Could those two young men have been terrorists? Yes.

If they are guilty (as it seems), something was wrong in their hearts.

I honestly feel sympathy for their parents. It’s hard to imagine what they must be going through. I pray for them, that they will come to Christ.

I also understand their denial. Who would think their children capable of such an act?

But, I also think we can learn valuable lessons from this situation. Our children, but for the grace of God, are capable of sinning. We should understand this, since we ourselves are tempted daily. We need to pray for our kids.

Remember Job? Job sent and sanctified them (his ten children), and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually (from Job 1:5).

  • Are we praying for our children, daily? Job offered sacrifices to the Lord for his children every morning.
  • Do we deny that our child might be capable of doing wrong? Everyone is capable of doing wrong when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
  • Do we deny our own wrong actions or thoughts when cornered? We should be honest.
  • Do we make excuses instead of taking responsibility for our actions? Do we make excuses for others?
  • Do we blame someone else (the devil, the FBI, outside influences, etc.) for sinfulness?
Let’s not be in denial!

(All illustrations in this post are true.)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Merry Heart

I find it fascinating when I notice the same phrase or words used several times in a biblical passage. Reading Proverbs 15, I saw “a merry heart” used twice. I immediately thought of its use in Proverbs 17:22a, A merry heart doeth good like a medicine. Here, the use of the word merry is the same as in Proverbs 15:13. It means “joyful.” (Proverbs 15:13a—A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance.)

A joyful heart.

How can we have a joyful heart, a merry heart?

Only through the Holy Spirit. Only those who have put their trust in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior can have this joy. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit which indwells every believer.

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost (Romans 15:13).

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).

This merry heart or joyful heart isn’t a silly emotional feeling. It’s a deep sense of well-being in Christ. When the Apostle Paul wrote his “Ode to Joy,” the book of Philippians, he was in prison. Roman prisons weren’t exactly happy houses. But, Paul had joy and he urged believers to rejoice. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice (Philippians 4:4). Notice, he says to rejoice in the Lord. Our position in Christ is the reason for our joy.


A deep sense of satisfaction. Pleasure. Happiness. These are the dictionary definitions. 

Is my satisfaction found in my relationship with Jesus Christ? Am I completely satisfied with Him, in Him? The Bible says we are complete in Him (Colossians 2:10).

Do we have pleasure and happiness in our relationship with Jesus? Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16:11).

Do we enjoy the “good medicine” of a merry heart?

Do we have cheerful faces?

All of this comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ, through faith in Him, trust in Him.

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Perspective in Tragedy

This has been a horrible week in the United States. First, double bomb blasts killed three people in Boston. Then, there was a horrific fertilizer factory explosion in West, Texas. In each place, more than 160 people were injured and several lost their lives.

In Boston, it was a terrorist attack on a normal sporting event. The dead include a little boy and two young women. Many of the injured have life-changing injuries—including the little sister of the boy who died. It is so sad, so needless, so wrong.

As far as we know, the Texas explosion was an accident, but the results are the same: deaths and injuries. Some are fighting for their lives. Some will be left with scars—or worse. Surely some of the people affected are confused and traumatized.

In both Boston and Texas, each injured person represents a family affected by tragedy. Many people are praying for them, and many are helping them. It’s what we should do. The Bible tells us to bear . . . one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). We’re to help those who hurt.

My thoughts go to other places in the world where, this week, there also were tragedies. In Iran and Pakistan, a 7.8 earthquake killed at least 35 people and injured hundreds more. Homes and livelihoods were destroyed. The media barely covered the earthquake, though we’ve watched over and over again the explosions in Boston and in West. Granted, the area in Iran-Pakistan is remote. But, each of those people who were killed or injured in the earthquake is also a person. He has a family. Probably, people in that area were very traumatized.

The killing continues in Syria. In some African and Asian countries, people die from senseless attacks on nearly a daily basis. They are people, too.

Worldwide, so far this year, over twelve million babies lost their lives through abortion. They were killed before they had the opportunity to see their mothers’ faces. Twelve million children!

It’s not that the deaths of that little boy in Boston and potentially children in Texas aren’t terrible. They are. Each child is precious to God, and we should acutely feel his loss.

We should also feel the loss of the little ones we never saw, those whose lives were terminated, not by accident or terror, but by their own mothers.

Why are there huge memorial services for those killed by accidents and terror in one country, and we don’t even necessarily know about those killed on a sometimes daily basis in a country we don’t happen to live in?

Does it affect us deeply when a Nigerian or Indian Christian is killed because of his faith? Do we weep about Christians whose homes are burned down?

Do we pray for the families of thousands of coal miners who lose their lives at work each year?

Another thought: do we value adult deaths as we do children’s deaths? (Oh yes, it is horrible when a child dies. We always think about the lost opportunity, the life he could have had.)

But, life is life. It’s as awful for an adult to needlessly lose his life as it is for a child.
(Think of the two beautiful young women who also lost their lives in Boston and the volunteer emergency responders who were killed in Texas.)

As Christians, I believe we have a debt to the world. Time is short. We don’t know how long we have to impact a life for Christ. The Apostle Paul put it this way: I am a debtor (to all people.) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Romans 1:14-16). Paul sensed his obligation to spread the gospel to everyone.

So should we.

May our Christian perspective of the value of human life cause us to value every soul. May we share Christ with everyone, as God gives us opportunity. May we pray for those who have suffered loss and mourn with them. May we help. And, may we value the life of a person who lives far away as much as we value that of our brothers and neighbors.

May God give us His perspective.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Glorious Spring

We left home several weeks ago in the snow. We actually hauled our houseplants and suitcases on sleds down the lane to our car. We left a day early because of the snow. It was cold, wet, and miserable. Winter!

Then, we traveled to a warmer place on the planet, enjoying every minute of glorious sunshine and the tropical plants. Even the lizards were fun to watch!

Then, we flew to more winter in the northern U.S.A.

A little bit of spring—azaleas in bloom—in the South, and then . . .

Home again. Daffodils and our old dog greeted us. Heavy snows had bowed our shrubs and knocked down tree limbs, but we were home—to spring! Green grass, many little flowers of different colors, tulips popping into bloom daily.

And my faithful little buddies, the songbirds, have tuned up for our daily entertainment.

I love hanging up clothes on the line in this weather. It gives me an excuse to be outside, to revel in the sun, breeze, fresh smells, and birds singing all around me. Plus, I’m doing something useful—getting our clothes dry.

Spring is definitely my favorite season. There’s something refreshing about the new growth, the different colors of baby leaves, ranging from reddish to chartreuse to lime to really green green. I love it when primroses show their happy faces, followed by daffodils and then tulips. I love the early-blooming trees. There are yellow mimosas, rose-like camellias, plums, and some kind of a white flowering tree I don’t know the name of. In a couple of weeks, the leaves on hardwoods will pop open and the larches will be green with new needles. Tiny violets grace the ground, beside waking ferns. Everything looks new and clean and beautiful.

It always puts a smile on my face.

When God created the sun, moon, and stars, He said they were for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years (Genesis 1:14). In the book of Acts, we read that God did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness (14:17).

I am thankful for spring! I’m also glad for the fruitful seasons of summer and autumn. I’m even thankful for winter.

Because, after winter comes spring! 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Practical Checklist for Modesty

When you shop, keep in mind the two biblical guidelines for Christian women’s dress: modesty and moderation. (To help you remember what they are, think of M&Ms—Modesty & Moderation.) Always try clothes on in a fitting room. Look at the piece from all the angles you can.

Checklist to See If Your Clothes are Modest:*

  • Is it too tight? If any part of your outfit looks like shrink wrap, it’s way too tight!
  • Is it transparent? Under transparent clothing, always wear something that would be decent by itself.
  • Slacks or skirts shouldn’t show off hips, underwear, or skin. Never let any skin be seen between your top and your slacks or skirt.
  • Skirts and slacks should at least be long enough to cover or almost cover your knees. Slits should not be higher than knee-length. Take care that a skirt isn’t transparent to the light. (Wearing leggings or tights under a short outfit has the same effect as wearing the same outfit with hose. Just because you are wearing something under it doesn’t make it modest.)
  • Be careful with low necklines and with showing too much skin. Modesty means decency. Take special care with clothes you plan to wear for exercising or playing sports. Make sure you can bend over or reach up without showing anything.
  • Underwear should stay inside your outerwear and not show through it.
  • Your mirror is your best friend! Look at yourself in a full-length mirror from every angle you can. (If you don’t have one in your home, buy one.) Are you covered? Do you think you look modest? Does anything look too tight or does something call attention to any part of your body that you don’t wish to emphasize? Do your clothing and accessories attract attention up to your beautiful face? 
  • Does your father (or husband) approve of the way you’re dressed?
  • Would you feel comfortable, dressed as you are, if Jesus were standing right beside you?

God desires that we reflect His beauty and for us to be sweet and modest and feminine. When you choose your clothes, be a little bit picky. Pray before you shop, and try everything on. If you’re careful, you can dress like a woman who loves the Lord.

Q Can I dress to express my personality?
A Of course! God gave you your personality and your preferences. Just make sure you remember M&M (modesty and moderation).

Q Can I dress in the latest fashion?
A It depends. If the most modern accessory or article of clothing is modest, moderate, and if it doesn’t advertise an evil lifestyle, if it is beautiful and feminine, yes, you can dress with style.

Q Can I copy what my friends wear?
A Are your friends godly women? If so, and if they follow God’s dress guidelines, of course you can follow their lead.

Q Some people think you shouldn’t pay much money for clothing. Do Christians have to look poor and wear the same thing all the time?
A What did the Virtuous Woman wear? What did Jesus wear? Follow their examples.

Q Is it really wrong to braid my hair or wear jewelry? (1 Timothy 2:9; 1 Peter 3:3)
A Those passages also refer to costly clothing. Is it wrong to wear clothing? No, but it’s best not to be ostentatious. That goes for hairstyles and jewelry, too. The key is not to call attention to our bodies, our selves. We should call attention to our character instead.

Q I want men to take me seriously and to respect me. How should I dress?
A Men always respect a woman who has the character to consistently dress modestly. On the other hand, men tend to judge a woman who dresses in revealing clothes as “cheap.”

Q I know a woman who dresses like a man. Is that okay?
A The Bible always talks about women’s clothing separately from men’s clothes. Our guidelines are modesty and moderation, and our clothes should be different from men’s. If someone cannot tell from a distance that you’re a woman, something is wrong with your choice of clothing.

Q If you could sum up in three words how a Christian woman should dress, what would those words be?
A 1. Modest 2. Moderate 3. Beautiful

Q A Christian woman should strive for what overall effect when she dresses?
A She should reflect the beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ.

*This checklist is an edited version of the one in my new book, His Ways, Your Walk. There’s a whole chapter dedicated to a Christian philosophy for women’s dress with a more detailed checklist.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Biblical Dress: The Outside Picture

Photo by: photostock, Free Digital Photos

Yesterday, we explored the biblical teaching about our “heart clothing.” Today, we’ll look at the same Scriptures and notice what God says about our outside clothes.

  • Proverbs 31:22, 25She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
  • 1 Timothy 2:9-10In  manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
  • 1 Peter 3:3-5Whose 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. 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.
I am always struck by the balance in Christianity. God’s dress guidelines are no exception. In the Proverbs passage, we’re reading about the Virtuous Woman, the lady who’s the highest example of godly womanhood. She dresses in—get this—tapestry coats over silk and purple clothes. This is not a woman who looks like she crawled out from under a rock. This lady has class. (Notice, she makes the coat herself!)

Let’s go to 1 Timothy. What characterizes the Christian woman’s clothes? One adjective: modest. What does modest mean? The dictionary defines it as “in a way that is considered proper or decorous, decent.” So, we’re to dress properly, appropriately, and decently.

From the same passage, we read that women shouldn’t be too showy. We shouldn’t call undue attention to ourselves. So far, we see that women should look nice and be modest and not too showy.

Don’t forget the inner adornments: strength, honor, respect, humility, self-control, and good works.

Read the 1 Timothy passage again. Look for the answer to this question: who are our clothes models? Are they very tall, thin young women? Possibly. The Bible describes them as women professing godliness. According to the 1 Peter passage, who are our models? Holy women . . . who trusted in God. Hmmmmmm . . . . Maybe we need a rethink.

Biblically, the women we’re supposed to copy when it comes to clothing (and attitude) are godly women.

Do you know a godly woman?

How does she dress?

How does she act?

What does the 1 Peter passage say about clothes? It has the same idea as 1 Timothy—not too flashy, not calling attention to oneself.

Where does God say our emphasis should be: on the inside, or on the outside?

What is more important (hint: of great price) to God: a snazzy outfit and fabulous hair, or how we act and the condition of our heart?

You got it. It’s the heart attitude.

Does God care what we put on?

Yes! And, there’s the balance. We need to look nice, modest, and to honor God.

(Tomorrow, I’ll share some practical hints on how to check your clothes for modesty and propriety. Then you can decide if your dress truly honors God.)