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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Soul Slayers

WoodyandgossipProverbs 26

20 Fire goes out without wood, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.

22 Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart.

If you’re one who follows the news, then you are probably aware of the tension that is rising with the conflicts between various countries.  At times, it almost seems that if one more thing was to happen, a leader would snap and all out war would break out.  The world is concerned, and rightly so, who wouldn’t be?  However, while the vast majority of the world’s population feels helpless at being able to do anything to avert such a crisis, there are personal wars that rage across our world in homes, offices, factories, community groups and even in churches.  The war I’m talking about is gossip.

Gossip is the act of spreading unverified information about someone to others. It’s generally idle talk about the private affairs of someone else who is not present to defend themselves.

I’m sure most of us have participated in it, listened in, and even been the subject of it at one time or another.  On top of all that, we have magazines that are devoted to ‘celebrity gossip’, ‘entertainment’ shows on TV and on the internet who traffic in it.  We are a gossipy culture.

If you’ve been reading along through the book of Proverbs, then you will have picked up that gossip cuts three ways.

First, gossip is a tantalizing tidbit that when it tickles our ears, there is a natural tendency to take it right into our very souls.  There is just something so attractive about hearing third hand news about YOU!  Somehow, when I hear this juicy tidbit about you, in a way, you have been diminished in my eyes, and the fact that I have this ‘dirt’ on you, makes me feel superior.  When you think about it long and hard, gossip is actually quite insidious.

Now for the one who is passing on this little tidbit, understand that you have now taken part in bringing judgment on someone without any evidence.  If our courts treated people in that manner, we would vote to toss the whole system out.  Because who would want to live in a society where you can be judged without the necessary evidence?

And finally, for the one being gossiped about, it is tantamount to being betrayed and ostracized from the very people you thought you could trust.  That’s the time when divisiveness enters, and loyalty vanishes.  In essence, you have been marginalized…the very thing that God hates.

The wise person recognizes gossip for what it is, and rather than following the crowd and getting caught up in the tantalizing chatter, they douse the ‘fire’ out.  How?  They refuse to participate, and when appropriate, they speak up.  Douse that fire!

Note: I will not be blogging over the Easter holiday, but will resume on Monday.  As you take some time to ponder the suffering, humiliation and death of Jesus, may it lead you to the empty tomb and the glorious joy that death and the grave have been defeated!

He is risen…He is risen, indeed\

 

The Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

The first to speak in court sounds right— until the cross-examination begins.     Proverbs 18: 17

I can say a hearty AMEN!, to this proverb. When I was a police officer I spent many a day sitting in court, and sitting through many a trial. I found trials quite intriguing. Trials follow a very specific and detailed process, while slow, actually allows the judge and/or jury to have a more rounded picture or what really occurred. It’s one thing to hear one side of the story, but it’s quite another thing when you hear the other side’s version. What you thought was the truth turns out to be a part of the truth – but not the whole truth. It’s when you hear the whole truth that you are able to come to a right conclusion…most of the time.

Now, in case you think that is all this proverb is about…allow me to unpack it for you. This proverb speaks to a much deeper issue, and that is what we think we understand/know about a situation, person, or what we think we observe, is generally not a full understanding.

Here’s the problem. How we view people, any given situation, or even what we observe, is not necessarily the true reality. Let’s take something that we have all observed. Have you noticed when the moon is close to the horizon that it appears much larger than usual? The natural tendency is to think that the moon must be so much closer to the earth – hence, why it looks bigger.

The truth of the matter is the Relative size hypothesis. Huh?? Simply put, objects in the vicinity of the horizon moon exhibit a fine detail that makes the moon appear larger (Wikipedia). Okay, to make sense of what I’m saying, it’s the same thing as the Ebbinghaus Illusion, where a circle appears larger when surrounded by smaller circles, than it does when surrounded by larger circles. Really? Well check this out.220px-Ebbinghaus_Illusion.svg

Bottom line, not everything is at it appears at first glance. And that goes with everything. So next time you’re itching to jump to a conclusion because, “I just call it as I see it!”, remember the Ebbinghaus Illusion.

Free Speech…But to What Degree??

powerofwords1So yesterday was one of those days that was jammed packed from morning til late into the evening. Had I tried to write my post when I finally got home, I would been babbling and not being very coherent. I don’t sweat it. My goal is to write everyday, but I realize that ‘life happens’ and at the end of the day, it’s all good. But I do love setting goals for myself, as it gives me something to aim for. But I’m digressing once again…

We’re now into the part of proverbs where each verse or line is a short nugget of wisdom, and they can vary from topic to topic. My post will just reflect on one of the topics. So on to chapter 11!

With their words, the godless destroy their friends, but knowledge will rescue the righteous.

12 It is foolish to belittle one’s neighbor; a sensible person keeps quiet.

13 A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.

So I am a supporter of ‘free speech’. What I mean by that is that people should be allowed to state their beliefs, thoughts, opinions and their point of view on a variety of matters. I don’t believe that any one group of people should be policing what others can or cannot say…sort of. Let me explain.

Words are powerful. They can inspire, build ones courage, inform, educate, comfort, and love. Words can also destroy, hurt, annihilate, crush, suck joy, isolate, hate and kill. If you’ve been around this beautiful world of ours for at least a decade, then you have no doubt experienced both healing words and hurting words. You know their power.

Solomon is correct when he says that it’s the ‘godless’ who destroy their friends with their words. To use our words to hurt, belittle, or gossip is, in fact, ‘godless’. It’s godless because God doesn’t kill people with his words. With words, God uses words to build us up, love us, heal us, restore us, and secure us. Humanity is created in God’s image, and so Wisdom knows that to live life as it was meant to be lived means we live as creative beings, not beings of destruction.

Our world longs for peace in our homes, our communities and among our nations, and that all starts with our words, my friends.

I’m all for freedom of speech, just not undisciplined speech.

A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!                   James 3: 5  The Message

“If You Have Nothing Good to Say…”

The words of the godly are like sterling silver; the heart of a fool is worthless.

Proverbs 10: 20

A wee confession to make before I share today’s thoughts.  I gave you an incorrect reference to the passages yesterday.  I wrote that it was Proverbs 10, when in fact it was Proverbs 9.

I am choosing this one verse as it represents a few verses in this chapter where Solomon talks about the words that come out of our mouth and what they say about us.

When I was a boy growing up I can remember a few times when my Mom would say to me, “If you have nothing good to say about the person, then don’t say anything at all.”  I’m sure most people have heard that little saying quoted at some point in their life.  Some of the sayings that I remember hearing were easy to remember and yet were chock full of truth.  And this is one of them.

However, another saying that is definitely not true is, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”  As the vast majority of the human population can attest to is that in fact, words do hurt, and sometimes to the core.  Now I understand that we are growing up in an age where we defend our ‘right’ to free speech, and I am one who would uphold that.  But I think we flex the ‘rights’ muscle way more than we do the ‘responsibilities’ muscle.  When it comes to the words that we use with others, wisdom recognizes that the onus is on us to choose our words carefully and to choose those words that extend honour and dignity to a person, rather than reducing them as a person.  For example…

The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain (v.11)

Wise words come from the lips of people with understanding (v.13) 

The words of the godly encourage many (v.21)

The mouth of the godly person gives wise advice (v.31)

The lips of the godly speak helpful words (v.32)

What’s interesting as I ponder these words is the truth that I can actually choose how I am going to respond to someone.  Will my words heal, or will they harm?  Will my words feed, or will they starve?  Will my words encourage, or will they tear down? And the list could go on.

Unfortunately, there are times when my emotions get the better of me and my words do more harm than good.  It is then that I need to heed this piece of wisdom from Solomon:
Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. (v.19)  

And that’s just good ol’ fashioned discipline, my friend!  🙂