Let’s Raise a Glass to the Women of the World!

womanThe latter part of Proverbs 31 speaks in honour of wives.  The writer begins with: “Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?”, and then he goes on to describe in great detail all of her accomplishments, work ethic and overall character.  The description of this ‘virtuous and capable wife’ is quite phenomenal, actually.  I’m glad he’s not describing the ‘virtuous and capable husband’ because I would fall far short of the mark.  So here are attributes ascribed to the virtuous wife…

Trustworthy

Encourager

Uber DIYer

Provider

Early bird

Servant of all

Entrepreneur

Night owl

Strong character

Dignified

Laughs

No fear of the future

Full of wisdom

Awesome teacher

CEO CFO COO of the home

Industrious

Blessed

Dare I comment?  Sure…here goes. I believe this best describes the character of women in general.  Women reveal a side of God that is rarely talked about, mainly because we ascribe the pronoun ‘he’ to God.  Seriously??  I think so.  So I’m going to let you take a peek inside my mind (I know, scary!).  Imagine with me if from the time the first of the sacred writings of the Bible, the pronoun ‘she’ was used for God.  Would our view of God be the same or different?  I just wonder.  Now I’m not saying we should rewrite Scripture or anything like that.  I’m just asking the question.  The way I see it, if all of humanity is created in the image of God, then the attributes of God include the attributes of women.

By the way, I am firm believer that women have within them a strength that is noble, honourable, and gives humanity hope for the future.  Throughout history, women have lived in a world where it is commonly understood that they are just a little bit less than men, and in some cultures, they are way less then men.  Men may say that women are equal, but actions always speak louder than words.  And then we have the church…

I’m always puzzled by the reality that as I read the gospels, never is Jesus depicted in word or actions that women are anything but equal with men.  But then Jesus saw all of humanity on level ground.  Greatness for Jesus is being the servant of all.  Being great in the Kingdom of God has nothing to do with physical strength or gender.  Greatness is based on a posture of humility.

Here it is, 2017 and believe it or not we have in North America, Evangelical denominations that state that the Bible instructs that women are equal in value to men…however, their roles are different from men, and specifically, the role of pastor is assigned to men.  Huh??  How can you be equal on one hand, but on the other hand, not permitted to serve in a particular role?  And this is the type of ‘stuff’ women live with day in and day out, century after century.

To all the women out there, there is coming a day when…

28 Her children stand and bless her.  Her husband praises her:

29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.

31 Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

Here, here!!

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phoenix galaxy cluster

The Phoenix Galaxy Cluster

The thirtieth chapter is quite different from the previous ones.  First, the author of these proverbs is Agur, son of Jakeh.  Who’s that, you ask?  Well, scholars don’t really know, other than to say that they do know he wasn’t an Israelite.  Besides that, there are some interesting sayings within this chapter.  If you have time, check it out, and see for yourself.

Here’s the proverb that intrigued me.

Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.

Do not add to his words, or he may rebuke you and expose you as a liar.

If there’s one thing I am learning as I grow older, it’s the realization that I don’t know as much as I would like others to believe.  What has particularly intrigued me the vastness of the cosmos.  One of my side interests is astronomy.  I love learning about what astronomers and astrophysicists are discovering day in and day out.  The knowledge that is being gained is phenomenal!  However, even the vast majority of scientists will acknowledge that there is so much more that they don’t know, then what they do know.  I love that humility when I encounter it.  I am reminded again and again of just how little I really do know.  If scientists can make the admission that with what they’re able to see, there is so much they don’t know, then just how much of God, who I can’t see, do I really comprehend?  Like, really!!

I find it odd that us pastors/preachers talk like we know more about God than others. Sometimes I catch myself when I am speaking in that ‘all-knowing’ tone.  If I am honest with myself and with others, then all I can really tell you is what I discern from Scripture and how that speaks to us in the time we live in.  Outside of that, I really don’t know the mind of God.  His mind is infinite…mine is finite.  Sometimes I think it is better if I remain quiet.

And that is the whole point of this proverb.  Every word of God is truth.  Or perhaps another way to put it is, all truth is God’s…and belongs to God.  Most of the time I try to be aware of how I come across when I speak.  I never want to convey that I have the inside scoop…because I know that I don’t!

While there are many things that I don’t know about God, the one thing I do know is that it is always better to be with God, than it is to just talk about him.  As Agur writes, he is a shield from all that comes at us from life.  While we may not know and understand everything about him, the one thing God has made sure we do know is his passionate love for humanity.  At the end of the day, is that not enough?  If so, then let’s speak of that!

THE SECRET TO EARNING AN EXTRA $10,000!

smilingman

Proverbs 28

19 A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies ends up in poverty.

20 The trustworthy person will get a rich reward, but a person who wants quick riches will get into trouble.

21 Showing partiality is never good, yet some will do wrong for a mere piece of bread.

22 Greedy people try to get rich quick but don’t realize they’re headed for poverty.

So if you were intrigued, even just a little bit, by the title of this post and the pic, then what the proverbs say concerning the allure of wealth is true.  Wealth, money, riches, etcetera, all need to come with a warning on them stating something like, “WARNING: Be careful what you long for!”

Let’s admit it, I think there is something in all of us that wouldn’t mind if a few zeroes were added to the balance of our bank account or investments (unless of course your statements are at zero).  Have you ever dreamed of winning the lottery?  What about when you bought that lottery ticket?  How much time did you spend thinking of all the things you could do with all the free time that would be available to you?

Have you ever been drawn to the multi-level marketing companies?  “You too can have it all!!  But you must act quickly so that you don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!”  No?  I have.  When I was seventeen, my older brother became a ‘distributor’ for cleaning products and was telling me how easy it was to sell, and how much I could earn by selling one bottle.  I was sold.  And so I too became a ‘distributor’ and went and found my first customer – our church custodian.  The product said that it could take coffee stains out of cloth covered chairs.  Our church had both the chairs and the coffee stains.  I mixed the proper strength up, sprayed it on the chair, rubbed it in, waited, and then wiped it off. Voila!  The stain was still there!  Grrrr.  Clearly I didn’t make a sale.  I went back to my bro and asked him what was up.  He explained that I just tell the customer that I will go back to the ‘lab’ (read – kitchen) and instructed me to double up on the strength, but just don’t say anything to them.  Right!  So much for getting rich!

There is a particular path we are to walk in this life, and if we choose to walk it, then we will find success in whatever we put our hands to.  That path is called, ‘hard work’, and no, it’s not super-attractive, but it will work for you just about every time.  The temptation is when someone or some thing comes along and suggests that there is a shortcut that you can take.  But remember, when you say ‘yes’ to a shortcut, you are also saying ‘no’ to wisdom and common sense.  When you veer off the well-worn path of wisdom, you are entering into the dense forest of disappointments, pitfalls, and poverty.  Anything that poses as the secret to everything you’ve always wanted – just toss.  You don’t need it and you definitely don’t want it.  Take the path of wisdom, because on that path you will not only gain wisdom, you will also mature as a human being and be known as a person of godly character.  In the end, you will be known as a rich and wealthy person, in more ways than one!

Stay on the path and watch your life grow!

 

Mind My Own Business? Nope!

GoodSamaritan

Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to die; save them as they stagger to their death. Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.” For God understands all hearts, and he sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew. He will repay all people as their actions deserve.   Proverbs 24: 11-12

I know, this proverb is a bit of a heavy, isn’t it?  Well, not all of it.  There are actually two nuggets of wisdom here that a wise person practices.

The first is that a wise person will put themselves in harms way if they see an innocent person being treated in an unjust manner.  But the question underneath that is “Why would a wise person become involved in matters of injustice?”  It’s a good question.  We are told to mind your own business, don’t talk to strangers, be careful who you associate with, and that it’s better not to trust people you don’t know.  In other words, people are to be feared, and so we have become adept at looking the other way, minding our own business and side-stepping the issue (sometimes literally).  But the wise person knows differently.

The wise person knows that every person has a story, every person comes from a family, and every person has the same needs as we do.  The wise person knows that they simply need to ask themselves, “How would I want someone to treat me if I was in that position?”  The wise person is more interested in others than they are with themselves.  They remember that God’s love extends to everybody, not just a select few.  They know that it could just as well be them that’s in that situation needing help.

Here’s a thought that crossed my mind, which I am currently pondering.  I wonder if just as every human being has the image of God imprinted on them, if also imprinted on every human being is a little piece of me.  I wonder if when I ignore a person in need, if in fact I am ignoring myself, and in turn, ignoring all of humanity and ignoring God.  If so, then that feels like a sin against you, me and God.

The second nugget of wisdom is that the wise person lives with the attitude and belief that for God to be God, then he must know our inner thoughts and motives.  If that’s the case, then it’s best to live accordingly.

“Lord God, help us to be wise and when we see a person suffering the injustices of this world, help us to remember that my fellow human being’s needs are my business.”

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’  The Gospel of Matthew 25: 40

The Intimidation Factor

humility

While dining with a ruler, pay attention to what is put before you.  If you are a big eater, put a knife to your throat; don’t desire all the delicacies, for he might be trying to trick you. Proverbs 23: 1-3

Have you ever met someone who comes across as a bit intimidating?  If you have, then you know you know it has the potential to knock you off balance.  This proverb is a warning to dining with ‘rulers’, or folks who have power, because they may have ulterior motives as to why they want to meet with you.  Basically, beware of being dazzled by their wealth or lavish food.  And no, the writer of this proverb isn’t suggesting that you actually put a knife to your throat.  That word picture has to do with – you guessed it – self-restraint.  In other words, keep your wits about you and remember not all that glitters is gold.

Let’s talk about what’s really going on here.  This is the time when you find yourself with someone who brings out that intimidation factor that can be found in all of us.  Now, sometimes, the person is intentionally intimidating for the purpose of compliance.  Think police or military in their uniform.  It’s fashioned that way for a reason ;).  And it works!

But that’s not the issue here.  The issue is when you find yourself with a person who is using intimidation to control you or have the upper hand.  There is something they want from you and one way to get that is for you to feel ‘smaller’.  It works, because we’ve all experienced it.  Let’s dig into this a little more.

For the person doing the intimidating, there is obviously a need to be in control, to communicate or show that they are greater, more powerful, richer, smarter, etc, then you.  However, the fact they need to do this says quite a bit about them.  The need to elevate would suggest to me that there are some inferiority issues at work here, and the only way to overcome that is to make you feel smaller.  Or perhaps they want something from you and they will go to any length to get it, and if intimidation works, they will employ that tactic.

But to be fair, I must consider the other side of the coin.  It’s true that sometimes I sabotage myself when it comes to meeting someone who, in my eyes is ‘more’ than I am.  I immediately feel and believe that I am ‘less than’, and in believing that, I have placed myself at a disadvantage.  That person may not have an intimidating bone in their body, but because of how I see myself, I therefore see them as intimidating.

So what’s the answer to all of this?  It comes down to how I really see myself?  The truth of the matter is that in God’s eyes, we are all created equal.  We are created equal because

It comes down to the application of wisdom.  If you’ve been reading the proverbs over the past three weeks, then you will notice that the wise person leads themselves.  Their desires, other people, and situations do not dictate how they live their lives.  The wise person has learned to walk humbly with their God. And in that statement, lies the answer.  Humility will always trump intimidation.  A humble person is aware, not only of their strengths, but also their weaknesses.  A humble person is not swayed or captivated by money, sex or power.  A humble person is aware that they were created in the image of God, and it’s to God that they owe their life.

A humble posture always triumphs over intimidation.

How To Be a Good Wife :)

GoodWifeAnd now from Proverbs 21!

It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home.

19 It’s better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife.

For all you wives out there, I hope you’re paying attention to Solomon’s words of wisdom. This tidbit of advice is coming from someone who has ‘been there – done that – and bought the t-shirt’! Like c’mon, he had, what is it? A thousand wives and three concubines? Oy vey! I can’t imagine what that must have been like, but surely he must be the expert on the kind of wife you ought not to be! So listen up all you wives.

Now would probably be a good time to crawl into a bunker as you start to lob bombs my way!

Let’s get serious now. We live in the western part of the world in 2017. Things have changed just a wee bit from Solomon’s era in the middle east…just a bit! So when you read something like this, understand that yes, it’s God who is inspiring people to write, but what is being written is coming through a specific mindset, culture, upbringing, and a particular understanding of how life is viewed.

Solomon lived in a patriarchal world where if you were born male, you were the master, superior, stronger, on the top of the heap, etc. The world was viewed through the eyes of men and women with that understanding. So of course Solomon would write something that would grate on the nerves of the majority of women (and probably most men) in 2017 in the western world. Gosh, it doesn’t even sit well with me. Nor should it with you.

Even Paul, in trying to loosen up the religious Christians in the city of Galatia wrote, For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Get it? We (men and women) are ALL one (equal and on level ground). Different? Yes. But not superior.

So now that we have that out of the way…

Simply put, living with a quarrelsome and/or complaining person (man or woman) would drive anybody crazy. You can’t live like that for very long before the attic, the shed, or even the desert starts to look really cozy.

Here’s why. Quarrels are not just disagreements. They are angry disagreements. And where there’s anger, there’s control issues. It’s not that you want or need to share your opinion, it’s that you have this belief that your opinion is the right one, and the other person’s opinion is flat out wrong! In fact you won’t even take to the time to listen and admit that their opinion may be better or even right.

Now when it comes to complaining, the issue there is that it’s gone from simply expressing something that you are dissatisfied with to lamenting about your dissatisfication (right on the heels of whining). We know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of that. But for the one who is known for complaining, there is a deep dissatisfication that that person has with their own life. Something is out of whack. Absent from a life of a complainer is gratitude, thankfulness, joy, and the inability to see the good in this world.

So if you begin to notice your spouse eyeing the attic space, or fascinated with documentaries about the Mojave Desert…maybe you should book some time with your therapist.

Life is 3 Dimensional

Three-Dimensional-Spheres

I’m not a fan of ‘black and white’ thinking, simply because it leads to seeing life two dimensionally.  Life isn’t two dimensional, my friend!  If you’ve had any life experience then you know that life is more gray, then anything else.  In reality we don’t want to go for gray, either.  Gray is simply mixing black and white together…a compromise.  I would suggest that rather than aiming for black, white or gray, let’s aim for wisdom.  Wisdom is thinking three dimensionally.  Below are some examples from the 20th chapter of Proverbs.  If you’re a black and white thinker, then you’ll probably understand these incorrectly.  So here we go…

Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls. Those led astray by drink cannot be wise.

This is not saying that you shouldn’t consume alcohol.  Remember one of the predominant themes running through Proverbs is ‘self-discipline’.  The same applies for alcohol consumption: without self-discipline, here’s what you can expect!

Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?

Loyal friends are out there.  Generally I think we expect too much from a friendship with others.  There’s a tendency to have too high expectations, and when we do that, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.  Unfortunately too many friendships have crashed and burned because of that.  As with any relationship, we need to put into practice the prayer of St. Francis. Make me an instrument of your peace…

16 Get security from someone who guarantees a stranger’s debt. Get a deposit if he does it for foreigners.

Someone who would guarantee a strangers debt is not to be considered as someone who lives wisely.  Lack of wisdom bleeds into every area of a person’s life.  Buyer beware!

19 A gossip goes around telling secrets, so don’t hang around with chatterers.

Wanna kill a relationship?  Hop on the gossip train and you will definitely derail any relationship.  RUN from gossip.  It’s deadly.

29 The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.

Those gray hairs that you’re seeing in the mirror are a blessing…seriously!  The fact that you have lived long enough to have gray hair says that you have experience, and with experience comes wisdom!  C’mon gray hair!!

30 Physical punishment cleanses away evil; such discipline purifies the heart.

This has nothing to do with strapping or hitting your kids.  So don’t even go there.  This is about physical punishment meted out by king’s officers for a criminal offence.  However…this approach was seen as wisdom from that time and that culture.  We know differently today because humanity learns and develops over the centuries.

Let’s choose to live 3 dimensionally!  Enjoy your day 😉