No Girl Left Behind

July 16, 2010 at 6:14 pm (A Time to Laugh) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

a-time-to-laugh

Ladies, a crisis is upon us.

Here at the Pearls and Diamonds blog, we were entirely ignorant both of the crisis and of our patriotic duty to take a stand and right it.

Until today.

Visiting the “No Girl Left Behind Website” and learning of the Marriage Crisis…left no doubt as to the wisdom of the solution “proposed.”  Government is always good at solving “problems.”

We encourage you to visit the website and join the campaign.  Or at least the laughter.

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Part Four: Love and Marriage

March 6, 2010 at 1:33 am (Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living, Love, Marriage, Purity, Singleness, Worship) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

Once upon a time I found myself in the middle of a conversation with a young woman.  The topic?  Romantic relationships.  She was aghast when she discovered that I “don’t date.”  “But—but—but,” she spluttered.  “How will you ever get married if you don’t date?”  “Hmmm,” I stroked my chin, enjoying her perplexity.  “I’ll have to think about that one.  How many guys have you dated?”  She thought for a few minutes before answering something close to a dozen.  “And you’re still not married?” I opened my eyes wide, pretending shock and horror before smiling.  “Well, if a dozen attempts haven’t found you hitched, it doesn’t really seem to me that dating is making marriage happen for you.”

Created to be his help-meet?

When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians he commanded them to go about “romance” in a set-apart way—not in lustful passion like those who don’t know God, and to be careful of defrauding.  In so-called “conservative” circles, we recognized the devaluation and pollution of marriage and the entirely impure routes many take to get there.  Often we denounce dating as “lustful passion” and “defrauding.”  We also see the rejection of God’s wisdom in creating men and women with unique roles.  And soon we are creating models and stereotypes of how a romance must progress and preaching slogans like “I’m saving my heart for my husband” and “Biblical courtship” and talking about being maidens in waiting. *  We proclaim the importance of marriage and the beauty of being wives and mothers, but sometimes I think we get caught up in the means and forget the end.  I think we’re confusing ourselves when we insist that we were created for marriage and child-bearing.  Before you stone me and throw me out of the synagogue, hear me out.  I counsel crisis clients at a pregnancy center, and every time I go over the information about conception, baby development and birth, I’m overwhelmed by God’s genius in creating women with the unique ability to sustain another human life.  You’ll never catch me devaluing that as a woman’s “saving” service. **  And yet, there’s a bigger picture.  You weren’t born married.  You could have been, but you weren’t.

Let me explain.  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  And He created a man to care for the earth.  But the man needed a helper.  So God created a woman and brought her to the man.  Eve might as well have been born married.  Adam had to have a wife to help him fulfill God’s command to multiply and fill the earth.  Eve was created to be his helper.  No questions asked.  That was the role God gave her when he brought her to the man.

But there was a bigger purpose.  Turn to the end of the Book—the Revelation given to John—for the unveiling of why God created the world, why He created man and woman.  “You created all things,” the saints proclaim the worthiness of the Lamb “and for Your pleasure they existed and were created.”  (Revelation 4:11)

Role vs. Purpose

The revelation is that you and I were created for God’s pleasure.  For His glory.  To do His will.  And we weren’t created married, which means that His pleasure, His will and His glory are more far-reaching than simply being married.

See, when an actress performs in a play, her purpose can’t be simply to play her role.  Her role will fall flat and empty if she focuses only on her character.  Why?  Because she’s missing the bigger picture.  The purpose of a play is to tell a story.  In order to tell the story, a play incorporates individual characters.  So the actress must make her purpose to tell the story, to express the story by playing her role.  She must make her role serve the story.  She is a part of a whole.

My concern is that, all too often, we miss the bigger picture.  By holding up marriage and motherhood as our purpose, we are actually stealing from the story.  What I see seeping through the cracks in the marriage goal are a few subtle lies:  that marriage will fulfill my needs; that I serve God through marriage, so, in the meantime, I am being prevented from really serving God as I was created to do; that single years are wasted years; that if I am not married, I must not be godly/mature enough; that my reward (of marriage) is based upon my performance (contentedness/purity/domestic skills/etc); that unmarried people are incomplete—just waiting on a spouse so they can truly be useful; that I would be more useful to God if I were married (I know better than He does). As we swallow these lies like our daily vitamins, we come to be self-obsessed.  Instead of looking at the bigger picture, the story that God wants to tell of His power, His love and His glory, we’re focused on our role.  Instead of making our role serve the story, we just want God to hurry up and write our lines.  When will it be my turn to come on stage?  How does my costume look?  Is this the guy for me?  I’m content now…Lord, where is my husband?  Soon we are pursuing our role instead of our purpose.  We’re obsessed with being wives and mothers, when we should be obsessed with God’s glory.

Ladies, even a pagan can be a wife and mother.

Am I against marriage?

Absolutely not!  Godly marriages glorify God.  But discontentment does not.

Our purpose is to glorify God.  We do this by seeking to understand our role—learning to be obedient women.  Being submissive wives and loving mothers is not the end.  It’s the means to the end—glorifying God.  And it only brings God glory if it springs from submission to God and love for His people.

What does God want from women?

For several years now, I’ve been searching the scriptures to see what God commands me to do.  I found an interesting omission.  God never commands me to marry.  He doesn’t command me to save my heart for my husband.  He doesn’t command me to court.

He commands me to love Him with my entire heart.  He commands me to love my neighbor as myself.  He commands me to view my body as His temple and abstain from sexual immorality.  He lays out the blessings and responsibilities of marriage.  In fact, He holds forth marriage as a picture of Christ and the church—that’s a pretty glorious role to play—picturing here on earth a spiritual truth as large as God’s eternal plan of divine love and redemption.  He also lays out the blessings and responsibilities of singleness.  Those whose roles find them unmarried or who have chosen to audition for unmarried roles are to be single-minded.  And Paul insists that singleness presents more freedom for service to God.  Neither is to covet the role of another.  “If you have a wife, do not seek to be free.  If you are not married, do not seek a wife.”  (1 Corinthians 7:27)  He lays out guidelines for relationships—single and married and in-between.

We are not commanded to have a mindset of marriage.  We are commanded to have a mindset of love.

Godly women are to love

Love, Biblically speaking begins with Christ’s love for us which enables us to have agape (sacrificial) love for all men, which progresses to phileo (affection) toward Christian brothers and sisters and finally (if God so wills) to romantic love—the deepest human fellowship, reserved in the Lord for one person.  When we divorce romance from agape, we have what Paul calls “lustful passion.”  Which is impurity.  For each of us, it must be agape that inspires phileo and controls romance—within the pure bounds of marriage.

The commands to believers over and over and over again are to love.  We are to love Yahweh with all our heart.  We are to love our neighbor as our self.  Your neighbor always begins with the one closest to you.  Married women are to love their neighbors, as well—their husbands and their children.  (Titus 2:4)  We are to look out for the interests of others, being devoted to one another in brotherly love, giving preference to one another in honor.  Our mindset shouldn’t be marriage, but love.

Love Yahweh with all your heart.  Love your neighbor as yourself.

This is obedient womanhood.  This is worship.

It is also the foundation for a marriage that mirrors Christ and the Church.

One day it may be these two loves that lead you into a godly marriage.  What is marriage if not complete and sacrificial giving of oneself—love?  When you understand your purpose is God’s glory, then you can joyfully accept a role of singleness or marriage—for however long the Lord prolongs it.  You can understand that God must always claim first place in your affections and that you must always love others as you love yourself.  Married or single.  This is obedient womanhood.  This is worship.

Part One:  Love and Purity

Part Two:  Love and My Heart

Part Three:  Love and My Brother

Part Four:  Love and Marriage

Part Five:  Love and Matchmaking

Part Six:  Love and Today

*  I’m not trying to attack the goals or purposes of phrases like this, but none of these terms is actually found in scripture.  I’d encourage us to be careful to lift the actual scriptural principles higher than our extra-Biblical models and phrases and to be sure our models and phrases are supporting and fitting into the grid-work of scriptural principles.  I’ve seen each of these terms pasted on rather varying explanations.  Those who advocate these ideals certainly can be/often are upholding Biblical goals, but its not subscribing to a “courtship approach” or claiming to be a “maiden in waiting” or to “saving my heart for my husband” that makes us pure.

**  I use the term “saving” role in reference to 1 Timothy 2:15, which speaks of the woman being “saved” or “preserved” through bearing children.  It is not her eternal salvation in view here—as though salvation were by works, especially a work over which she actually has little control—but the salvation of her importance in human society.  Modern women think they must compete with men to establish their importance, but men cannot compete with women in the thing God considers their most important task.  What will become of the human race if women cease to raise children?

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Part Two: Love and My Heart

March 4, 2010 at 1:46 am (Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living, Love, Marriage, Purity, Singleness, Worship) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

The Valentine’s Day just past left me with plenty of fodder for the mental camel I’ve been feeding. Over and over again were the expressions of devotion “You have my heart!” or the pleas “Be mine.” Giving and exchanging of heart-shaped candy and heart-covered cards left impressions of hearts popping out of the heads of every couple I passed. Modern music speaks much of the heart, but the father in Proverbs had some thoughts on the issue, as well. He warned his son of the dangers of impurity, encouraged him to be faithful to the wife of his youth and exhorted “Keep your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

Proverbs describes temptations not unlike our own and speaks of the wisdom of “keeping” what the world would tempt us to give.

>Keep:

The Hebrew word translated “keep” has a lot more depth to it than four letters might imply. It means a conglomeration of watching, maintaining, guarding, protecting, preserving, even concealing or surviving a siege (mostly negative connotation). The word is nearly identical in purpose to the command given in the Garden of Eden, when Adam was placed in the garden to cultivate and “keep” it. (Genesis 2:15) *

Just what was Adam’s task? To keep the soil soft, healthy, bearing good fruit. To protect it from weeds. To cultivate healthy, fruit-bearing plants. Why? To bring God glory.

The Creation story tells us that man and woman were created in God’s image and when we skip to the end we see God’s purpose. “Thou hast created all things and for Thy pleasure they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:11) God created you a unique woman, in His image, to bring Him glory. You belong to Him, heart, soul, mind and body.

The heart of the matter

To keep, to guard, to maintain, to protect our heart, we’ve got to understand to Whom it belongs. The answer is not “to ourselves.” The answer is not “to our husband (wherever he is and whenever God wills to reveal him to us, etc, etc).” When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind…” (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27) Over and over, Yahweh complained of Israel’s unfaithfulness. “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.” (Isaiah 29:13) He described the worship issue in graphic language as adultery. In the New Testament, Paul describes our bodies as God’s temples and explains that purity is a worship issue. (1 Corinthians 6:19) “Lust, covetousness, impurity, greed…which amounts to idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5)

God commanded us to love Him. We failed. We chose other gods, other lovers, other things. That’s the story of scripture. Adam and Eve failed to love the Lord with their hearts, minds and souls—instead they sought to know good and evil experientially, they sought knowledge elsewhere and the fellowship between man and God was destroyed. This was the relationship that you and I inherited at birth: enmity with God. But God was never surprised and He was willing to offer His redeeming love to buy us back from slavery to the other things we had pursued. Hosea pictures for us the power of redemption as he buys back his adulterous wife. God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners—enemies of God—He gave His own precious Son to buy us back.

Why am I recounting the gospel story for you? Because when God bought you back, He made you a new creature, able to have intimate fellowship with Him. By the Holy Spirit’s power you are able to love God. “We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) God created you once, and you belong to Him. Then He bought you back by redeeming love. Is there any question that you belong to Him?

You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart. The world will never have an accurate view of love because the world does not know God.

The Idols We Serve

Why did Hosea’s wife keep fleeing him and returning to her life of sin and degradation? Didn’t she have exactly what so many Christian girls long for today? A godly, compassionate husband and several beautiful children? Still her heart wandered to fields that did not belong to her, and where her heart wandered, her feet followed. Discontentment, we call it.

Lust. Greed. Covetousness.

God calls it “idolatry.”

The idols of Israel’s unfaithfulness were made of wood, gold and stone—materials that God had created, that were good, that served a purpose–in fact, materials that were used to build His own temple. It wasn’t the materials that caused the idolatry. It was the hearts of the people that sought for something they could touch and feel to complete them. In a similar way, romance, marriage and motherhood are not evil. They have been created by God and are holy—when surrendered to Him. But whenever we pursue, worship or serve our desires—even godly desires—we allow them to usurp the place that only Yahweh can fill.

Discontentment, we call it.

God calls it “idolatry.”

Pursue the dream-giver

You’ve seen the young woman everyone says is “glowing.” She’s the one “in love,” the one everyone watches with whispers and chuckles. Her every thought is to please her lover. She talks about him constantly. She talks to him every chance she gets. She can’t wait to be with him and when she is, her eyes are fixed on his face. She’s like a garden soaking up the spring rain and flourishing. Hosea, the faithful husband, proclaims the Lord’s faithfulness and the refreshment found in His presence. “Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn and He will come to us like the spring rain watering the earth.” (Hosea 6:3)

Your heart is like a parched garden—it longs for fulfillment. Your Divine Lover created you to respond to His offer of divine love. Scripture says He jealously desires the spirit that He has made to dwell within us. (James 4:5) The Father in Proverbs says the heart must be diligently kept for from it flows the springs of life. The Father seeks worshipers, Jesus told the Samaritan woman, and He promised her springs of living water—welling up inside of her to eternal life. (John 4:14) Press on to know the Lord and He will come to you—bringing refreshment, bringing life.

In God’s economy, giving is keeping. If you lose your life for Christ, you will gain it for eternity. If you give to the poor, the Lord will repay you. If you want to keep your heart, you must pour it before the Lord. Paul wrote to the Philippians not to be anxious, but to pour everything with prayer and petition and thanksgiving at the feet of Christ. “And,” he promised, “the peace of God that surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) If you pour your heart, your grief, your struggles, your pain, yourself out in extravagant worship, you will find it guarded, protected and healed. You will find it softened, growing with good things. You will keep your heart. For God’s glory.

Purity and worship

Whenever anxiety enters, when other things vie for your attention, when your biological clock is ticking so loudly it is waking the neighbors or when that godly young man gives a good answer at Bible study, you must keep your heart. You must know it, you must guard it, you must conceal it, you must cultivate it. It’s not that desires are ungodly, but even godly desires must find a place in the kingdom of God. Jesus encouraged His followers to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25-34) The Father knows what you need before you ask. Above all else, He knows you need Him.

Seize every distraction as a redirection to focus on the Lord. Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Seek the Lord.

Jesus blessed the pure in heart. “They shall see God,” He said. (Matthew 5:18) He accepted into His service women at whom others looked askance. Others saw only the scars of the past. Jesus probed into hearts and found them washed clean, restored and redeemed through the prodigal grace of God. ** When a woman of shady reputation poured a vial of expensive perfume over the feet of the Lord, she was pouring out her heart, despite the cold condemnation of those witnessing the act. But Jesus accepted this extravagant worship with the words, “he who is forgiven much, loves much.” (Luke 7:36-50) As forgiven women, let us never forget to love much. Purity is a heart attitude that springs from devotion to Christ.

A “kept” heart is a heart that has chosen the best part—the place at Jesus’ feet.

Part One:  Love and Purity

Part Two:  Love and My Heart

Part Three:  Love and My Brother

Part Four:  Love and Marriage

Part Five:  Love and Matchmaking

Part Six:  Love and Today

* A few interesting uses of the Hebrew words translated “keep/guard”: Gen. 3:24; Gen. 17:10; Gen. 28:15; Gen. 30:31; Ex. 12:25; Ex. 15:26; Ex. 20:6; Ex. 23:20; Lev. 18:26; Num. 6:24; Deu. 5:1; Ps. 12:7; Ps. 25:10; Ps. 34:13; Ps. 78:7; Ps. 89:28; Ps. 91:11; Ps. 105:41 (contains both words); Ps. 119 (uses both interchangeably, repeatedly); Ps. 127:1 (same word used for “keep” and “watchman”); Proverbs; Ecc. 3:6; Is. 26:3; Is. 27:3; Jer. 3:5; Ez. 20:19; Dan. 9:4; Hos. 12:6; Mic. 7:5; Nah. 2:11; Mal. 2:7

** Prodigal (adjective): 1. wastefully or recklessly extravagant. 2. giving or yielding profusely; lavishly abundant. The “prodigal son” was wastefully and recklessly extravagant with his inheritance—an evil thing. Mary of Bethany was lavishly abundant with her worship—a pure thing. God is prodigal with the grace He bestows on us—extravagant, profuse and lavishly abundant. Praise Him!

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Part One: Love and Purity

March 3, 2010 at 1:43 am (Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living, Love, Marriage, Purity, Singleness, Worship) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

Several years ago, I received a Facebook invitation to take a “purity quiz” and see how I rated.  Curious, I clicked over.  Not surprisingly, I ranked something like “angelic”—entirely due to activities I had or hadn’t participated in–including marriage.  I shook my head and blinked—had Lauren been taking this quiz, she’d have lost “purity points” simply by virtue of being married.  In fact, her reputation would have been severely tarnished by the fact that she kissed her husband—never mind that it wasn’t until their wedding day.  Girls I know who are now shining examples of purity would have been ranked something like akin to purity’s pond-scum due to pre-Christ actions—forgiven actions.  Oh, friends, a girl could obsess about boys, flirt with boys, read romance novels, fantasize—even look at pornography and still come out “angelic.”  But she couldn’t be married.  She couldn’t have kissed her husband on her wedding day.

It wasn’t that long ago that Britney Spears was held up as an icon—a “good girl”–a “virgin.”  Now her name conjures up shudders of horror.  Something happened.  What went wrong?

As I clicked the browser closed I thought, “Something is terribly skewed with our perception of purity.”

For what is “True Love” waiting?

Swimming against the current is never easy, and when it comes to the issue of purity, sometimes it feels like we’ll be swept away in the filth of modern “love.”

We easily recognize the destruction of “love” by a society so devoid of anything holy.  In the name of love, God’s commands are broken, vows are broken, marriages are broken, hearts are broken.  The world surrounding us has a broken image of love glorified in the public unveiling of sex and the rampant cheapening of romance.  Both have become a commodity sold on billboards on every highway, advertised by every form of media and sported on a million living models.  To the world “love” is a multi-million dollar industry—a never ceasing effort to capture in a tangible way the elusive spark of intimacy.

In the midst of the madness, some say purity is coming back into style.  In an effort to swim against the “Love is Sex” current, the “True Love Waits” campaign has spawned a fad of rings and t-shirts and banquets and merchandise to encourage “purity pledges.”  But the statistics surrounding the “True Love Waits” movement are hardly encouraging.*

As godly young women see the “True Love Waits” advocates being swept into an ocean of temptation and technicality, they wring their hands and cry for answers.  In the effort to protect “true love” the boundaries are often pushed back, one step at a time.  “True Love Waits” preaches purity as “saving sex for marriage.”  A boundary of “saving sex for marriage” is like starting down a water slide thinking you won’t get to the bottom.  So, where do we draw the line?  Well, kissing leads to sex, I won’t kiss.  Holding hands leads to kissing, I won’t hold hands.  Dating leads to holding hands, I won’t date.  Emotional attachment leads to dating, I won’t get emotionally attached.  Friendship leads to emotional attachment, I won’t be friends with boys.  Talking leads to friendship, I won’t talk to boys.  Eye contact leads to talking, I won’t make eye contact with boys.  Being in the same room with boys leads to eye contact, I won’t be in the same room with boys.  HELP!  There are boys everywhere tempting me to break my purity pledge!  They keep walking into the room!

From our fogged understanding another skewed perception of purity is formed.  Subconsciously we are accepting the word’s definitions and understandings—“falling in love” leads to sex and purity is saving sex for marriage, so if we are really going to accomplish purity, we’re going to have to protect ourselves from “falling in love.”  At least until we marry, at which time suddenly we will fall in love and ta-da!  Everything will be perfect and pure.  Essentially, we’re not supposed to love boys.  Which breaks down, in so many words, to a horrible lie:  that love is impure and purity is unloving.  If we want to be pure, we can’t risk loving.  So we create rules:  no dating, no best guy friends, no talking to guys, no looking at guys period!  And no matter how pure our intentions are, how well we keep our own rules, they simply don’t work.  I promise.  Suddenly one morning, we wake up and realize that we’re crushing on a guy we’ve never even looked at.  (He sure gives good answers at Bible study, though.)  In anguish and frustration, we tear out our hair crying “How did this happen?  I did everything right!”

Be an example—in love and purity!

Paul left his son in the faith—his protégé–Timothy, in Ephesus, strengthening the church, establishing order as Paul’s apostle and wrote him some guidelines for his conduct as a younger Christian.  “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.”  (1 Timothy 4:12)  He charged Timothy to be an example—in love and purity!

An example in love and purity—to those who believe.  Love and purity not only do coexist, but must coexist!  Scripturally, love is not something a person can “fall into.”  Neither is impurity.  Both are choices that we make, often one tiny moment at a time.  To understand just what the Lord wants of us, let’s get back to the Bible for our definitions of love and purity.

>Purity

The Bible uses the word “purity” to refer to doctrine, wisdom, thoughts, religion, hearts, devotion—and in its most simple form it means: undefiled. **

>Love

Scripture commands two kinds of love:  phileo (Greek–brotherly affection) and agape (Greek–sacrificial love).  It also speaks of several forms of romantic love (various Hebrew variants of ahab).  All are created by God and intended to be pure.  And all must flow first and foremost from devotion to God.  ***

The world has a terribly skewed perception of purity for a simple reason:  purity is not a set of rules.  It’s not a have or have not check-list.  In many cases acts are, of themselves, not impure, but motives direct whether our actions are pure or impure.  Jesus said “out of the heart proceeds…impurity.”  And “he who looks at a woman to lust has committed adultery already in his heart.”

Purity is a heart issue.  And rather than denying love, it is actually empowered, guided and guarded by love.

If you want to be pure, you must love.

Because love is pure and purity is loving.

Part One:  Love and Purity

Part Two:  Love and My Heart

Part Three:  Love and My Brother

Part Four:  Love and Marriage

Part Five:  Love and Matchmaking

Part Six:  Love and Today

*READ WITH CARE:  A study done by the New York Times reveals that, of teens who take the “True Love Waits” pledge, the majority break them.   Many Christian girls perceive purity as a “technical virginity”

**A few appearances of purity:  Job 11:4; Psalm 12:6; Psalm 18:26; Psalm 24:4; Proverbs 15:26; Proverbs 20:11; Zeph. 3:9; Matt. 5:8; 1 Tim. 1:5; 1 Tim. 3:9; 2 Tim. 1:3; Tit. 1:15; Jas. 1:27; Jas. 3:17; 1 Pet. 1:22; 2 Pet. 3:1.

** *A few appearances of agape:  Matt. 5:43; Matt. 6:24; Matt. 19:19; Matt. 22:37; Matt. 22:39; Mark 12:33; Luke 6:27; Luke 7:42; Luke 10:27; Luke 16:13; John 5:42; John 8:42; John 10:17; John 13:34; John 14:15; John 15:9; John 15:12&13; Rom. 5:8; Rom. 8:28; Rom. 8:35; Rom. 12:9; Rom. 13:8; Rom. 13:10; 1 Cor. 13; 2 Cor. 5:14; 2 Cor. 12:15; Gal. 5:13; Eph. 4:2; Eph. 5:2; Eph. 5:25; Phil. 1:9; Col. 3:19; 1 Thess. 3:12; 2 Tim. 1:7; 1 John 3:11; 1 John 3:14; 1 John 4:19; 1 John 4:21; 2 John 1:6.

A few appearances of phileo:  John 21:15; Rom. 12:10; 1 Thess. 4:9; Tit. 3:15; Heb. 13:1; 1 Pet. 3:8; Rev. 3:19;

A few appearances of romantic love:  Gen. 29:20; Judg. 16:15; 2 Sam. 1:26; 2 Sam. 13:4; 1 Kin. 11:2; Pro. 4:6; Pro. 5:19; Ecc. 3:8; Song of Solomon; Ez. 16:8; Ez. 23:11; Hos. 3:1.

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Love Means a Cross

March 2, 2010 at 1:51 am (Attitudes, Love, W.O.W.) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

food-for-thought

Chew on this…

When you are not yet married, or when your marriage is over and you look back on those years with longing, it is without doubt quite possible to idealize it.  But there is one thing which enters into all of life, one thing which will keep us from idealizing life’s best and will make bearable life’s worst, and that is the Cross.  The Cross must enter into marriage.  “Who loveth suffereth too.”

The Cross enters the moment you recognize a relationship as a gift.  The One who gives it may withdraw it at any time, and knowing this, you give thanks in the receiving.  Desiring above all else to do the will of God, you offer back to Him this greatest of all earthly gifts as an oblation, lifted up in worship and praise, with faith that in the offering it will be transformed for the good of others.

This is what sacrifice means.  This is why the Cross of Christ “towers o’er the wrecks of time.”  Love is sacrificial.  Sacrifice is giving, and offering up, and the meaning of sacrifice in the Bible is the giving of life to another.

~ Elisabeth Elliot, Let Me Be A Woman, 1976

…and tell us what you think.

thess-5

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Lust is the Problem

February 19, 2010 at 1:46 am (Purity, The Book Shelf) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is) by Joshua Harris
Original Title: Not Even a Hint
Multnomah Publishers, Inc. 2003

Book Type: Christian Living, Purity

Rating: 10 out of 10

Recommended? Absolutely, with parental guidance

Overview: Joshua Harris, author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, tackles the tough subject of lust in this concise and practical book. Mr. Harris helps his readers to understand the way God has made them as men and women, and how they can fight temptation and seek to live pure lives according to God’s standard. Full of insight and advice, this book is a must read for anyone who struggles with lust, offering encouragement and pointing to God’s word to find strength for the battle.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: The only thing really ugly about this book is the subject matter: lust. That may be an uncomfortable subject for some, but it is handled in a very godly manner.

Praises: This book really does help. If taken to heart, it can provide a biblical perspective on lust (and sin in general), as well as give guidance to those willing to put that sin to death. Mr. Harris challenges us to examine our hearts and submit our thoughts in obedience to Christ, with the goal of there being “not even a hint” of sexual immorality in our lives.

Concerns: I liked the original title better. It was a bit more delicate and brought Ephesians 5:3 to mind. That said, this book is excellent no matter what you call it.

Tips for getting the most out of this book: Be prepared for serious heart-searching and confession. Sin is not to be dealt with lightly and this book will challenge you to fight it full-force. Have index cards ready to write out Scriptures to memorize, and journal about your struggles and victories if that helps. Above all, yield to the Holy Spirit’s prompting as He calls you to “put off” your former lusts and “put on” the Lord Jesus Christ.


Buy the book on Amazon.com

Visit Josh Harris’ Blog

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Observations on the Survey

February 18, 2010 at 1:16 am (His Perspective, Love, Purity) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

While gathering results for the Jealousy Survey, a few interesting trends stood out.  We surveyed as diverse a group of men as we could on short notice—making only one requirement: all were professing believers.  Ages ranged from something like 18 to 60, with a variety of backgrounds, including some internationals and those with multi-cultural influences.  They also represented a variety of single men, dating men, courting men, engaged men, divorced men, married men and fathers of daughters our ages.  The trends seem rather revealing, so we’re sharing them with you.

*On the issue of deep spiritual/personal conversation, many men clarified that there would be little or no issue if the conversation were a group setting instead of private.  In a similar manner, discipleship by a couple, dinner with a couple, road trips with a couple were expressed as non-issues.  Alone is the threat.  Privacy = intimacy.

*The internationals seemed to be rather lenient on the issue of light kissing.  In many other cultures a light kiss is actually a very standard greeting—about like a handshake or a hug in our culture.  In case you were wondering.

*Hugging was a complete split.  Some of the men expressed that they didn’t think they would mind their wife side-hugging a man that they fellowshipped with regularly and trusted.  A stranger?  That typically aroused jealousy.  Others would didn’t want anyone hugging their wife at all.

*The married men tended to be less jealous about hugs.  They also mentioned that they might possibly rather send their wife on a road trip with a trusted friend or older man than send her alone.  It’s possible that, having been married, they could more easily imagine exception situations.  The variation we saw in married men’s answers leads us to suggest that a married woman may actually have more “freedom” than a single woman—because of her husband’s authority and protection.  If you are married, we recommend that you seek your own husband’s guidance on each of these issues—he may be one who is not at all bothered by a hug—or he may find it absolutely improper.  You answer to the Lord first and to your husband next.

*With the chatting or talking one-on-one issues, the men responded that jealousy would be present any time a wife is communicating more with another man than with them.  Or is more excited about talking to another man.  Perhaps this suggests that “special treatment” is a husband’s special prerogative?

*It was almost amusing hearing the many explanations of what would be done or said to the other man—usually rather emotionally-charged doings or sayings.  Aimed at the other man?  Rarely were the negative emotions directed toward the wife in question.  Questions about this trend were answered, “That’s because the men ought to know better.”  It appears that men hold men mostly responsible for relationship boundaries.  This fits with scriptural patterns of men as pursuers and women as responders, as well as the passage in 1 Thessalonians 4 dealing with “not defrauding your brother.”  If men are to “take a wife” they should also be careful not to “take” what doesn’t belong to them.  To the men we suspect are lurking, we suggest that you should be carefully guarding the interests of your Christian brothers by guarding the women around you.  Paul told the Colossian Christians “Do not merely look out for your own interests, but also the interests of others.”

Our thanks goes out to the guys who participated in the survey as well as Abigail’s brother Josiah, his friend Tommy, and a couple of girl friends who helped get the survey out and answered!

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What Makes a Husband Jealous?

February 17, 2010 at 1:20 am (His Perspective, Love, Marriage, Purity, Singleness) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

“You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, soul and mind,” Yahweh charged Israel in His greatest commandment, but the hearts of the people turned away to foreign gods and their minds strayed to sin and self.  “You have committed adultery against Me,” Yahweh warned.  “I am a jealous God.”  Through the prophet Ezekiel, Yahweh graphically described Israel’s adultery, painting a revolting picture of lewdness and impurity.

To the church of Corinth, Paul wrote as God’s emissary, “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.”  (2 Corinthians 11:2)

The adultery Yahweh charged Israel with was in giving to another god what rightly belonged to Him—heart, soul and mind in worship.  Paul’s jealous guard over the purity of the bride of Christ was to preserve their minds in the purity and simplicity of devotion to Christ.  Devotion–the minds of believers rightly belong to Christ.  We tend to think of jealousy as an evil, but Paul speaks of a godly jealousy.  God’s jealousy was over what rightly belonged to Him.  Paul was jealous on behalf of Christ, over what rightly belonged to Him.

As I worked over the post dealing with God’s Will: Your Sanctification, I came head to head with the issue of defrauding—cheating, taking what rightly belongs to another.  With the words “The Lord is the avenger,” I was reminded of the jealous husband’s test in Numbers 5—and the curse upon the woman who had “gone astray into uncleanness.” As I pondered, I began to wonder what would be rightly considered a husband’s?  Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 7 that the wife’s body belongs to her husband, and his body belongs to her.  Wouldn’t it be godly then for a husband and wife to be jealous over each other’s bodies?  What else might they be jealous over?  Each other’s emotions?  Devotion?  Time?  Affection?  Attention?  I’d often considered purity in relationships, but I’d never before thought of it in terms of what would make a husband jealous.  The traditional wedding vows proclaim to “forsake all others, clinging only to you.”  I began to consider the implications of Paul’s words to the churches of his day regarding purity and marriage.  Marriage should not be sought in lustful passion, as the pagans, but in set-apartness and honor.  He warned us not to go beyond and defraud—because God is the avenger.  This warning suggests that, even if no one else ever knows that we have “cheated”—gone beyond what was rightly ours—God knows and we will reap the consequences in our lives and hearts.

Ladies, what I’m proposing is that we carefully consider what rightfully belongs to God as the first step in purity.  “Love Yahweh your God with all your heart, soul and mind.  Worship and serve Yahweh only.”  And we carefully guard and preserve that for Yahweh only.  That we consider what rightfully belongs to those around us.  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  A sacrificial love, based on Christ’s love for us, offered without thought of gain.  This, too, is worship of God.  And, in purity, that we consider what rightfully belongs only to a husband.  Even if we never marry, there are some things that no one is authorized to claim outside of a marriage covenant.  I propose that we jealously protect and preserve this until such a time as, covenanted in marriage, we can freely and purely pour it out in worship to God.  God is the avenger, because our purity is an integral part of our worship of Him.

These thoughts in mind, Lauren and I constructed a survey to try and help us understand what things would make a husband jealous.  We created a series of hypothetical questions, based on many of the debates/teachings we’d heard regarding “purity” boundaries, placed those situations into a marriage scenario and surveyed 50 men from very different backgrounds and denominations–single men, dating men, courting men, engaged men, married men and men with daughters our ages—without giving an explanation for our questions.  We wanted unbiased feelings from a range of perspectives.  We reasoned that those things which provoked jealousy in a husband are likely to be good indicators of what rightly belongs to a husband only—and therefore what we should be jealously guarding from any man to whom we are not married.

We’ll admit that we were surprised by the clarity the results seemed to cast on “grey areas.”  We’re talking about activities that many youth pastors would advocate as still “chaste” and would leave a “True Love Waits” pledge unbroken.  Many of the men expressed that they were deeply disturbed in considering their wife engaging in many of these activities—few thought “jealous” even covered their feelings on the topic.  God used graphic word-imagery to express Israel’s adultery–to inspire our horror and disgust.  We’ve tried to be as discreet as possible in dealing with these issues, but this is a serious affair.  Impurity should provoke our horror and disgust.  We’re sharing the results with you and we encourage you to consider carefully guarding what these men express as provoking jealousy.  In the areas that are expressed as depending on circumstances, prayerfully, carefully let your actions be guarded by love—focus on the Lord first and what will bring Him glory and then pursue sacrificial love toward your neighbor–what will cause them to focus on the Lord.  The excellent wife does her husband good and not evil all the days of her life, and his heart trusts in her.

See the survey results here:

What Makes a Husband Jealous:  The Survey

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Emotional Affairs?

February 15, 2010 at 1:17 am (Attitudes, Purity, W.O.W.) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

food-for-thought

Chew on this…

Intimacy is not just about physical encounters.  When someone shares inner feelings, secrets, desires, flirts or flatters, or even places himself or herself in a compromising situation, you are being intimate.  The final analysis:  all forms of intimacy should be reserved for the marital relationship or else you are taking something away.  Something that belongs to the spouse and giving it to someone else.  That wasn’t what the vows were about.

The ultimate deterrent to all of this is a strong set of moral values, rules and standards.  These keep you from even taking the first step.  Because, for sure if you don’t take that first step, you won’t be there to take that final fatal step.

~Dr. Laura Schlessinger, When is an Affair and Affair?  (TV show)

…and tell us what you think.

thess-5

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Root of Rebellion

October 14, 2009 at 9:11 pm (Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

root of rebellion

With the great response to “Identity Crisis“, I thought you ladies might enjoy a peep into the past–a look at the literary outcome of my first Identity Crisis, when I was about sixteen.

There it is again: those horrible feelings of rebellion, that I seem completely unable to stifle. The “I don’t care what my parents think, I don’t want to do it!” is back in full force, and I can’t seem to quench my snotty attitude. I love my parents—I really do—but this is more than I can handle! I’m just so sick of obeying!…Why?

In the midst of such feelings the tears come, and in the desperation aroused by my frustration and depression I beg the Lord to show me my sin. Where could I have gone wrong, that such emotions could gain a stronghold in my heart? Am I wrong to blame my parents? Am I wrong to seek my own way?

I want to share with you an answer to my perplexing questions—a cause for my strange feelings of dissatisfaction, the result of these feelings, and a solution to my frustration with my parents. These emotions are not the natural result of my parents’ actions. They are not caused by tyranny, overwork or flustering requests. They are caused by myself—in reality, they are the product of my own imagination.

Let’s begin with the cause. Rebellion starts with dissatisfaction—a dissatisfaction with myself. I am not pleased with who I am. Whether or not my frustrations ring true, I have come to feel that I am inadequate in some way.

I may be dissatisfied:

  • With my appearance—I feel ugly, fat and unattractive. My face is broken out, my hair is straight and limp or frizzy, my nose is too long.
  • With my wardrobe—I feel out of place in modest clothing, my outfits don’t fit well, or they simply do not flatter me. I am frustrated trying to find cute, comfortable, modest clothing that doesn’t look old ladyish and isn’t miles too big; I envy others around me.
  • With my personality—I feel insecure, unconversational and uninteresting, I feel like a dead-beat, a bore. I feel like I simply don’t fit in—anywhere.
  • With my intelligence—I feel stupid and slow. I am a failure: I just don’t have it. Others expect more of me than I can give; others are smarter than I am.
  • With my talents—what talents? I am not actually good at anything. I try, but I simply have no time to work at or practice anything because my parents…whoops! Feeling a little rebellious am I?

Lastly, when I have become entirely dissatisfied with myself, my life, and anything else about me, I become unhappy in my spirit because I am starving it. But what stands in the way of my changing these areas that I feel unsuccessful in? Shall we say my parents, and the fact that I don’t run my own life? I can’t just turn the house topsy-turvy because I wake up in the morning feeling ugly.

And my parents? “Honey, you look fine!”

Ok, so I’m not so pleased with myself. Now let’s move on to step two—link this all together, and explain what the result of disatisfaction is! How in the world do “fat days” affect my obedience to my parents?

I have noticed, that when I am not satisfied with myself, it becomes very difficult for me to believe that anyone else is satisfied with me.

I hear “Honey, you look fine” but I know she is thinking, “Well, you really ought to lose about 10 pounds, and I don’t know what we’ll ever do about your acne! I really wish you would bring your math scores up, and stay on top of your chores, and your attitude stinks. I think you need to get right with the Lord.”

“I already know that, now would you just shut up!” I feel attacked, before my parents even say anything, because in my mind I am already defeated.

I am a failure. I have failed my parents.

I am a loser—a rotten loser. How could anyone like me? How could anyone enjoy spending time with me? Why would anyone want to put up with me?

I can’t do anything right. My family must think me a burden. I’m just a hump on a log, a disgrace to mankind. <sniff>

I haven’t stopped loving my parents. I haven’t lost a desire to do well, to please them, to honor them.

I have merely given up.

I’m beat. Striving for success feels pointless. I can’t please my parents! Why try? I can’t succeed in anything! Why try? I can’t please God! Why try?

And all she said was “You look fine.”

She never expressed any dissatisfaction with me, or anything I had done. I imagined it, and the insecurity washed over me, causing the rebellion spring up.

It’s just not fair! I try to please them—they don’t care! Think of all the things I do, yet I get scolded for the one tiny responsibility that I happen to forget. It never ends—the same jobs over and over again, and nobody ever thanks me, nobody realizes how much I do! I am so sick of trying to be good! I am so sick of myself! I am so sick of this place! I am so sick of everything I do! I am so sick of my family! I just want out of here!

Like a slow burning fuse, the bitterness builds up until I snap.

And everyone stares at me in holy horror.

I can’t help it! I just feel ugly today!

Is it it possible that maybe I can help it? I believe there is a solution, if I will accept it.

But what can I do? I didn’t plan the rebellion. I didn’t want to explode. I don’t even know where these feelings came from! I’ve been submissively trying to cut out my rebellion, haven’t I? I’ve crushed it down every time it tried to rise, haven’t I? I haven’t been trying to nurse resentment, have I? So why in the world can’t I conquer myself?

There is a reason—a good one, even. I can’t cure my problem, because I am attacking the symptom, not the cause. Every time a weed of rebellion popped up, I cut it down. But the root of bitterness and dissatisfaction continued to grow. Rebellion will come up again in other areas, and I can keep cutting it out, but the root will keep growing until it explodes. I need to attack the root, and the first step is locating it.

Thankfully, I now know where the problem lies, due to much prayer and fasting. This doesn’t mean that stamping it out is easy. There are many things about myself that I am unable to change—ever.

  • I will never be taller than God intended me to be. I can’t change the shape of my face, or the build of my figure.
  • Modesty is a must, though my culture makes it very difficult and awkward.
  • My personality is there—it is my identity. I can hone it, but I can never change it.
  • My intelligence has a limit. I can work hard, but I will never be a genius. It just isn’t there.
  • If I just don’t have certain talents, I just don’t have them!
  • I can’t change the unchangeable.

But I can be yielded. I may not be satisfied with myself through the eyes of the world, but I need to remind myself who I am through Christ.

Why would He love me? I can’t see a logical reason, but He does. He sees the future, and he will perfect me…in His time.

Basically, my rebellion boils down to a lack of trust. I am not trusting God to work through my parents. I am not trusting God to complete what He has begun. I am not trusting God to change me. I am not trusting the God who made me.

I simply need to shift my focus from what I can’t do, to what He has done, and the weed will wither and die—from the root up.

The rebel can submit.

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Staying Joyful at Home

May 30, 2009 at 4:11 am (Announcements) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

joyful at home

Being at home is one thing.  Being joyful at home is another thing entirely.  Jasmine at Joyfully Home has made it her mission, not only to be joyful at home herself, but to encourage others striving for the same goal.  She just wrapped up an excellent series on the topic that we’d encourage you to check out.  Even though her series is geared toward single young ladies, there’s application for the married homemakers as well!

From the top down ways to stay joyful at home:
Way Number One: Build a strong relationship with your mother.
Way Number Two: Find your sufficiency in the King of Kings.
Way Number Three:  Stay busy and useful in the sphere where the Lord has placed you.
Way Number Four: Learn to be a supportive daughter.
Way Number Five: Learn to accept reproof and filter criticism.
Way Number Six: Don’t be afraid to answer legitimate questions; but don’t let speculation cause you to fear.
Way Number Seven: Get to know your siblings.
Way Number Eight: Find the blessing in difficult circumstances.
Way Number Nine: Be a seed-planter.
Way Number Ten: Contribute to a joyful atmosphere.

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Why Don’t You Open That Door?

February 25, 2009 at 12:20 pm (Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

open-that-doorHaving my own bathroom sounded glamorous. As soon as we moved in, I set to work stripping off disgusting grey wallpaper, sanding down the uneven walls and painting it a delicious color of green. (Well, Lauren doesn’t like it, but it’s not her bathroom, now is it?) I hung new towels and put out the perfect canisters and soap dispenser, but I soon discovered that my “beautiful” bathroom has a nasty problem: mildew. Tucked into a back corner of the house, the humidity is high and the slimy black stuff appears from nowhere, crawling across the ceiling or down the shower wall and clinging to the tile grout.

I’ve rolled up my sleeves and scrubbed with bleach water (thought I’d ruined my hair when I accidentally spilled some on my head!) more times than I care to recall. For a couple of days the tile shines and the ceiling glows white again, then one morning I wake up to realize the mildew has crept back into life. Where does it come from? How does it get here? Why does it keep coming back?

One day my ever-wise mother responded to my frustrations: “Why don’t you open that door?” I blinked. I didn’t even realize that I do keep it closed, until she mentioned it. Of course, I have a cartload of excuses. For one, I don’t want everyone who comes into my room being tempted to use my bathroom–or even being able to see into it. You know, sometimes I have sweaty work-out clothes hanging up in there. Or dirty work jeans. Or the dirty clothes become restless and tumble out of the closet–it’s my bathroom, none of their business. In these cold winter months, it stays warmer than my 45-degree bedroom, which is nice for showering and getting dressed in the mornings. “So,” she said, “Close the door when you’re showering and dressing and leave it open the rest of the time so it can air out.”

Are you wondering why I’m going on and on about the mildew infiltration in my bathroom?

The mildew offered to me a prime picture of my heart. When I trusted Jesus it got cleaned up, adorned with good things and I thought it looked pretty good–for a while. Slowly, so many nasty things began to creep in. Where did they come from? How did they get there? Where there’s a bathroom, there will be mildew to fight. Every heart is deceitful and full of wickedness. When I notice the mildew in my heart, I go for the bleach and scrub brush and get to work cleaning, scrubbing, purging, repenting, weeping, praying. For a couple of days I seem like a shining, new individual on the inside, and then the mildew comes creeping back. Always, it comes creeping back. Always it will come creeping back, but “Why don’t you leave the door open?” Mom said.

Leave the door open? What in the–?

Accountability. Instead of closing myself up inside, hiding behind a white-washed door, I ought to be seeking accountability, opening myself up to scrutiny. Not to everyone (I don’t invite everyone into my room), but to my parents, to my siblings, to my closest friends and sisters in Christ. Not necessarily about everything. Some things are private-like showering–but do I really need the door closed when doing my hair? Putting on make-up? Or even cleaning? In fact, I might need accountability for those very things! What are the sins and struggles that keep creeping back into my heart and life, those nasty things I try to hide from everyone else? Thinking my agenda is so important, my bad habit of reading everything I see, or beginning to focus on outward appearance and worldly success. Or the fact that I don’t pay attention when Mom is giving me instructions because I think I know what is and isn’t important. Or not being disciplined about personal study or prayer time.

Just like getting some air into a mildew infested room can slow down the mildew’s growth, being transparent about my failures can often spur me to overcoming them and can dampen the temptation. Having someone know that I am tempted in a certain way can strengthen me to resist. After all, they might ask, or they might notice that mildew growing now the they know what’s behind that closed door. They can guess what I might be hiding when I say, “I’m doing fine.”

Seeking accountability involves more than just sharing struggles. There’s little need for a mutual pity party. Accountability involves action on both parts: prayer for each other, suggestions, Biblical guidance. When I seek accountability, I should be praying and seeking prayer. I should be seeking suggestions, tools and ideas for overcoming and resisting, for cleansing and purifying. And I should be looking for root issues. When I seek accountability, I should be implementing suggestions and expecting follow-up inspection. The goal is a mildew-free environment, not just an open-door policy. It’s not that I want people to have to look at my disgusting bathroom. The goal is to become presentable: a bathroom fit for the King.

“Why don’t you open that door?” Mom said. It’s habit now to close it-at least most of the way, but when I see itjames-5-161 standing closed, a white wall barring the view into my “inner” room, I open it to let it air out. Sometimes it means I actually have to put those sweaty work-out clothes away, or wash that hand-towel, or get more toilet paper, or even go to work on that mildew when I’d rather be doing something else. I’m trying to learn to open up my heart to accountability, as well: let it air out to help slow down the mildew’s growth, implement other’s suggestions for cleaning, seek root problems and deceitful heart issues. Hopefully, at least, I’ll notice more quickly when the black slime begins to spread.

And perhaps it will encourage others to see that there’s hope. We all have mildew in our bathrooms and our hearts, but a little accountability and a lot of bleach can go a long way in the cleaning process.

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His Perspective…On Respect

February 14, 2009 at 1:00 am (His Perspective) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

his-perspective-on-respect

Valentine’s Day conjures up thoughts of red foil, powdered candy hearts, oozing chocolate cakes and over-the-top sentimentalism all wrapped up in a hazy misunderstanding of the word “love.” To the world, love is a feeling, coming and going on the winds of time, age, business and beauty, pronounced in words that pass away and proudly displayed through things destined to perish with the using. The disciple Jesus loved gives those of us who would understand true love a great reminder: “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in action and truth.” (1 John 3:18 ) English teachers will insist that love is an abstract noun—an idea. Scripture tells us it’s a verb. Sisters, let’s stop just using empty words to express love. Let’s really get active about loving according to the truth of scripture!

Paul, the bond-slave of the Lord, never mentioned flowers or chocolate or candlelight dinners, but he did give some excellent advice for godly love and relationships. “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church…and let the woman see to it that she respect her husband.” (From Ephesians 5:22-33–we really recommend reading the whole passage). In the literal Greek the word for “husband” is really just “man”, plain and simple, and we believe that the respect factor applies to young women under the authority of their fathers, as well. After all, what better way is there to prepare for respecting a husband, some day? Could there be a better way to prove respect for the Lord than to respect the authorities He has placed in our lives?

Some of the men who are seeking to work out this Biblical pattern graciously agreed to help us in digging up some great insights on the issue of respect. We’ve included a few prime quotes below as a sort of appetizer and we’d encourage you to take a look at what they had to say and put your love into action, guided by the truth of God’s word! Just follow the link at the bottom to visit the “Respect” page and see the whole survey! Feel free to share what you find, and don’t be afraid to ask your own men the same questions to discover what honors them and proves to them your love and respect–for God’s glory.

Are candy hearts and red roses wrong? Not at all. They are thoughtful. They are romantic. They are even pleasant. Only to call those things “love” or even “expressions of love” which never even come close to scratching the surface of the love of God, who sacrificed His Son for sinners, is to cheapen a word which should be reserved for gifts of much greater worth. This Valentine’s Day, we challenge you to give more. We challenge you to lavish your man with respect—all year long.


“Biblical respect is the humble, intelligent, joyful response of a wife to God’s placement of authority expressed by esteem for, encouragement of, and submission to her husband’s leadership.”

Shai Linne, Philadelphia, PA


“It is possible to have a surviving relationship without respect because I could choose to love them [wife/sister/daughter] even if they refused to respect me, but to have a really healthy flourishing relationship both must fill their biblical roles.”

–Moriah Day, Altamont, KS, age 16, eldest of 10


“Leaving me would be the highest rejection of my leadership and provision. But in absence of legal separation, complete emotional and relational separation would be basically equivalent.”


–Nathaniel, Tulsa, OK, married to Lauren for 1 year, 4 months and 4 weeks 😉

We hear much about men having a built in need for respect and similarly women having a built in need for love … as if men and women are designed by God with the frailties of tiny egos and frail emotions that need constant stroking by the other lest we suffer the consequences. This is nonsense. Respect and Love in the context of Marriage have everything to do with God given roles and authority structure. Respect and Love are what bring about God’s desire that we use our position selflessly for the benefit of our Spouse.”

–John Day, Altamont, KS married 18+ years, father of three daughters (so far)


“’Love is of God,’ I John 4:7 says. God’s love is not natural to man, as the Scripture continues: ‘everyone who loves has been born of God.’ So husbands are to love, not by human product, but by the love of God. Likewise are wives, according to Titus 2:4, to love their husbands, not by natural love, but God’s love.”

–Glenn Schreiber, Central Illinois, (very happily) married for 18.5 years, father of two daughters


It is the ‘picture’ of Christ and His bride. The relationship for the husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church. Sacrificial love, a love worth respecting because it is wonderful and it knows the love is acting in the best interest for the wife. How do they differ? The love is the leading action which makes the respecting enjoyable.”


–Gabe Graham, Tulsa, OK, married 5+ years, father of three daughters


“The Bible says that Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. I think this word is a great way of summarizing how a wife is to respect her husband. She treats him as someone who is very important; as someone who she means to serve and obey, and who is worthy of her service. No other person trumps him; he is the #1 person she is meant to help, to love, and to give her time and affections to. What is important to him becomes important to her, simply because he values it. This all comes out of an ultimate desire to serve her Heavenly Lord, because this is His command to her; ultimately, she is serving Him through demonstrating a giving over of her desires to the desires of her husband, and treating him as the authority God has given her.”

John A. Moss, Morgantown, WV, married almost three years, a daughter due in April (!)


“God’s originally-stated purpose for creating mankind was to rule over the earth (Gen. 1:26). His special purpose for man was to cultivate and keep the garden (Gen. 1:26; 2:15) and for woman was for her to be a suitable helper of her husband (Genesis 2:18). It follows that she must learn to help her man. This is the major distinction between the husband and his wife’s roles–he is the leader and she is the helper. More descriptively, he is to be her loving leader and she is to be his reverent helper.”

–Lane, Rural AR, married 31 years, father of Abigail (and Lydia)


Trust and respect can be shattered by failure to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus.”

Zach Welchman, Arkansas Tech University

We found the answers sometimes surprising, often enlightening, sometimes encouraging, often convicting.   We’d love for you to take a look at the comments and the survey (when you can) and tell us your thoughts!

His Perspective on Respect: The Survey

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The Three Weavers

September 9, 2008 at 8:19 am (Singleness) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

…in days of old there lived three men who made their living by weaving cloth for the mantles of others. Their small-but-tidy houses stood side by side on the pebbled street of a flourishing city and their fortunes had been so intertwined that whatever took place under the roof of one, happened under the roofs of all. But though trained in the same art they were as different in character as three close friends could be.

“I always weave my webs the same length,” Herthold confided to the other two. “There is no use wasting time measuring each man, when I know the size which a perfect mantle should be.”

“Don’t you get weary with always weaving the same size? What if you run out of the proper color of warp or woof? It is much more convenient just to end the web there.” Insisted Hubert, for it was well-known that he wove his whims into his fabric and then stretched or cut afterward to fit whoever would buy.

Hildgardmar shook his head sorrowfully and returned to his work. Carefully and painstakingly, he measured first the man and then the web by the inches and ells of his carefully marked yardstick. He knew the stature of those around him and his reward was his own satisfaction at the perfection with which each cloak fit the shoulders of the man for whom it had been made.

In this pattern of similar fortunes, each man took a wife and later each became the father of a tiny daughter. Thus were born Hertha, Huberta and Hildegarde.

One evening a short time later, the three friends sat together under the sparkling stars discussing the future. There was a lull in the conversation as each father mulled over the mysterious message he’d received a few days before.

Finally, Herthold spoke up: “Friends, rejoice with me! Wonderful fortune has befallen me and mine. Perhaps you know that the fairy of all the weavers was present today for my Hertha’s christening? she left a beautiful gift beside the cradle: a tiny loom, fashioned of the purest gold. And a wonderful promise, to boot!”

Even as Herthold spoke, his two friends exchanged knowing glances, for, you must know, that what had happened under the roof of one had happened under the roofs of all. The fairy had made her appearance at the christenings of the three wee maidens, and left beside each cradle a tiny, golden loom with the same foretelling for each: that a prince would come to seek her hand.

“Think of it!” Hubert laughed, boisterously. “I, the father of a queen!”

Herthold added, “It’s a good thing children provide for their parents in old age. I should have a comfortable retirement.”

“Gently now, friends,” Hildgardmar reminded them. “What if our daughters cannot fulfill the required conditions?”

The three men fell silent thought, the fairy’s parting words echoing in the halls of each man’s memory. “One thing is necessary: Your daughter must weave upon this loom a mantle fit for the prince’s wearing. It must be ample and fine, cloth of gold and woven in rainbow hues, and of princely size and shape. Many will come to claim it, for your daughter will be fair and charming, but if it is woven rightly, it shall be the guide by which she may measure her suitors. And when the prince comes, it will fit him in all faultlessness, as the falcon’s feathers fit the falcon. But if it should not be ample and fine, worthy of royalty, the prince will refuse to don it and the maiden’s heart will break.”

Herthold sighed heavily. “It is a grievous task to give a small girl. Mine shall know naught of the loom until she is old enough to weave with skill and style. I’ll not waste my time with a child who will be constantly distracted by childish fancies. Until then, I’ll lock it away where she cannot destroy such good fortune with her folly.”

“What an old worrywart you are!” Hubert scoffed. “It is not as if the fairy has asked her to weave straw into gold. Besides, I am sure it is all a joke—you saw the loom. It could never make a mantle large enough to cover a man’s head, much less his shoulders. It is only a toy. Besides, what is written is written and I can’t change the outcome of fate. I have good fortune coming and I plan on celebrating!”

Hildegardmar said little, but his mind was busy long afterward. Often as his wife would come to bring him his lunch, she would hear him speaking to himself over the clacking of his wooden shuttle. “Upon the correct weaving of this mantle lies my precious daughter’s whole future.” Clackety, clack. “I must teach her to weave with care and give her a standard to measure by.”

…and the girls grew like the summer wildflowers. One day as they strung daisies together, Huberta said to the other two, “I have a loom made of solid gold in a little tower off of my room.”

“Don’t be silly,” Hertha retorted. “A loom of gold would belong to a princess.”

Undaunted, Huberta continued. “I have one and you do too. So does Hildegarde. A fairy gave them to the three of us at our christening and said a prince will come to wed us if we weave a mantle for him.”

“I don’t believe you,” Hertha snapped. “I never heard of such a loom, and I don’t believe it is true, or else my father would surely have told me.”

Hildegarde interposed, “If it is true, Huberta, just show us the loom.”

Silently the three girls stole into the weaver’s house and through Huberta’s room until they stood beside a doorway, standing half-open. Entering the room they saw, against the wall, a small loom of pure gold that had grown with Huberta’s growth and fit her as if made only for her. The golden warp was the fairy’s gift, but the thread of the shuttle was of her own spinning—from the airy dreams of a maiden’s fancy. Huberta ran her fingers over the smooth gold, and motioned to the beginning of a mantle. “See? Already I have begun.” She seized the shuttle as she spoke and crossed the threads of a rosy-daydream with the golden warp.

Hertha and Hildegarde watched in silent envy, their eyes following the glowing threads as they crossed in and out of the beautiful pattern, bounding and leaping like summer clouds. But soon they were drawn to a new wonder: in front of the loom so as to reflect through the window, hung an exquisite mirror in which the shadows of the world passed by. As they watched a curly-headed shepherd lad passed by in the street, his knobby staff held aloft like the a scepter.

“See that shepherd lad?” Huberta laughed. “Doesn’t he look a prince with his head held high and his crook in his hand like a scepter? Are you surprised that I am at my loom both sunrise and sunset to see him passing by?”

Hertha shook her head and pointed. “That long-haired page is more my style. He looks almost noble dressed in velvet with a feathered cap! I wonder why my father has said nothing to me of the angel’s marvelous gift. I too, should be at my loom and weaving. I’m as old as you are!”

Hildegarde clapped her hands. “I too!”

Huberta shrugged her shoulders. “Why don’t you ask your father? Perhaps he has forgotten.”

Hertha was not long in reaching her home, and sought her father as he busily weaved the same pattern he always used. Timidly she crept to his side and stood with downcast eyes until he paused. “Father, where is my loom? Huberta has already begun and I, too, would like to be weaving for my prince.”

Herthold leaped from his stool, sending the shuttle clattering. “Hertha, listen to me! Never again must you listen to such idle fairy tales. When you are grown, I will call you and then I will teach you the art of weaving, but not a moment sooner. I am ashamed that my daughter would indulge in such foolish fantasies.” He turned stormily back to his weaving, leaving a confused Hertha to creep away to her room, where she threw herself on her bed and wept violently. “My father must not love me,” she whimpered into her blankets. “But someday my prince will.” Suddenly she stood and walked resolutely to the wall, feeling behind a rich tapestry that adorned it until her fingers closed around the doorknob of a secret room. Inside she found a golden loom filled with shining thread and a mirror in which the shadows of the world passed by. Smiling through her tears, Hertha took hold of the shuttle to send the first woof thread shimmering through the warp, and as she did so the long-haired page hurried past, clutching his velvet cap. “How like a prince he is! My father is a tyrant to forbid me such a simple pleasure as weaving. How can it harm me?”

At the same time, little Hildegarde stood before her father patiently measured a web by the silver yardstick he kept near him. “Is it true, dear father, what Huberta says about our looms? After I saw her loom, I pushed back the bolt to an inner room from mine and there I found such a loom as hers, and a fascinating mirror. I want badly begin my mantle, but I crave your permission and your advice, since you are a more experienced weaver than I.”

Hildegarde’s father laid down his yardstick and placed his hands on his small daughter’s shoulders. Smiling tenderly he answered, “I have often looked foreword to this day, my little one, although I did not think you would come so soon with your questions. It’s true. On the right weaving of this web depends the happiness of you as well as your descendents. It’s a dangerous gift the fairy left you, for that mirror will tempt you to weave to fit the shifting shadows. But listen to your father who has never yet deceived you: keep always by your side this silver yardstick for it marks the inches and ells to which the stature of a prince must measure. Not until the web cloth fully equals it can it be safely taken from the loom. You are young and the loom small, but it is a marvelous gift that lengthens with your growth until you can hold it up against the yardstick and find that it measures to the last inch the size demanded by a prince’s noble stature. You will often be dazzled by the mirror’s sights, and youths will come to you begging, ‘Give me the royal mantle, Hildegarde–I am your prince.’ Do not be persuaded to cut it loose and give it him. Weave patientlyuntil you have fashioned a web that will fit your prince faultlessly.”

With a quick impulse, Hildegarde threw her arms around her father’s neck. Then Hildegardmar took up the yardstick in one hand, and his daughter by the other and led her into the inner chamber where her golden loom awaited. He hung the sterling yardstick next to the tempting mirror, laid her hands on the shuttle and left her with his blessing, to weave.

Hertha grew tall and lovely, treading the house with the airy grace of youth, yet fearing her father’s disapproval she fled more and more often to the inner chamber where she worked in secret, hoping for a glimpse of “her” page. She called him a prince in her thoughts and was sure that, clothed in the mantle she wove he would soon appear as royal as she perceived him.

Huberta laughed brazenly about her web and the prince she hoped to capture with it. Her father often teased her while she sat by him at his weaving. “Is that your prince?” But he never went with her into the inner room so he never knew that she cut the strands of one year’s weaving and gave the cloak to the curly-headed shepherd lad. But Huberta saw other figures in her mirror which pleased her fickle fancy and she began another web.

Years passed by, Huberta scattering favors to whoever would call her “darling” and Hertha, faithful to the page. Hildegarde worked carefully under her father’s guidance, weaving intricate patterns of rose and gold. One day a face flashed across her mirror, so noble and earnest that she started back, her heart fluttering in her bosom. “Father! Surely it’s him!”

“My daughter,” old Hildgarmar said gently. “He only measures as an ordinary man. You are still young. Weave on and you shall fashion a royal web. This is not the one for you.”

Obediently Hildegarde went back to her weaving, and watched in silence as the man disappeared from her mirror. Again time swept over the figures of the weaving maidens, and spring came bringing restlessness to Hildegarde’s heart. The face that crossed her mirror this time was bold and brave, decked with plumes and glittering with a silver helmet. She knew how lovely her mantle would look spread across his broad, mail-clad shoulders and hastened to her father to plead his blessing. “Father, a knight in shining armor has come to me and asked me for the mantle. Measured by your yardstick it would fit him faultlessly.”

Hildgardemar followed his daughter into the inner room and stood for a long time looking into the mirror at the shining stranger. Then he held up the yardstick and shook his head. “It fits only because you are not yet ready to wed a prince. See? Your mantle reaches only to the size of a knight. A knight may seem noble, my daughter, but he lacks a handbreadth of full stature and you must weave that handbreadth for the wearing of a prince.”

Tears sprang to Hildegarde’s eyes. “But father, suppose the prince should never come? Suppose I should give up the one destined for me and be left forever to weave in solitude?”

Tenderly, Hildgardmar took his daughter in his arms. “I am an old man, Hildegarde, knowing far more of the world than you, my daughter. Better to weave forever, than to settle for a man who does not measure up. Have patience just a little longer. In another year, think of the mantle you will have made!”

With a bowed head Hildegarde returned to her work. As the tempting images rose before her in the mirror, she turned her eyes to the yardstick and wove on.

…when the maidens had all three grown into tall and beautiful women that a prince came riding into the village and, stopping before the house of Hubert, asked him for the hand of his daughter. With a bow and a flourish, Hubert vanished to seek her in the garden. “Well, Huberta, your prince has finally come. Run and get your royal mantle. It must be splendid after weaving all these years!” When she returned with a small, shimmering cloth over one arm, Hubert was startled by its pigmy size. “Is this a jest?”

Hanging her head, Huberta answered, “I—I have already given a few mantles away.

I have no more of the golden thread the fairy left me.”

Hubert rubbed his chin, his brow knit in thought. “Surely it is no worse than what many another has done. No doubt you were only passing time and meant nothing serious by your favors. Besides, it’s still a mantle. Only an unreasonable prince would expect a beautiful girl to wait forever for him.”

Together Hubert and his daughter bore the small out to where the prince stood waiting. When he saw them approaching, he bounded eagerly forward to receive from the maiden’s hand his cloak, but his face fell as she held it up before him. He gazed deeply into Huberta’s beautiful eyes and sadly shook his head. Turning his back on her, he mounted his horse and rode from that house forever. The dwarf mantle fell from the shocked Huberta’s hands and she covered her face and sank to her knees and wept until her heart broke.

The same day a prince approached the house of Herthold and dismounted. Entering, he found Herthold studiously at work, and requested his daughter’s hand in marriage. Herthold rose abruptly and answered, “Have you come at last? Excellent. My daughter is as rare a jewel as you could desire. Wait one moment.” He walked briskly to the doorway leading to the garden and called for his daughter. When she did not answer, he ascended the stairs toward her room and met her halfway, her face downcast and blushing. “Your prince has come!” Herthold explained, seizing her hand and leading his unwilling daughter into the room from which she’d just come. “We must make haste!” But even as he said this his eye fell on the loom, standing empty by the far wall. “What is the meaning of this?”

Defiantly, Hertha raised her head. “If you mean to teach me to weave, you’re too late. Since you scorned me as foolish I wove in secret, and when my prince came long ago, I gave him the mantle. Look! See him?”

The astonished Herthold turned his eyes from the loom to the window, where he saw the long-haired page standing eagerly, clothed in the mantle which Hertha had woven for him. In a rage, Herthold tore the mantle from the lad’s shoulders and dragged his daughter downstairs. But the prince looked contemptuously on the mantle, the angry father and the resistant daughter. Without a word, he left the house, mounted his horse and left the town at a gallop. Standing brokenly in the doorway, Hertha saw her adored page, now stripped of the princely robe which her fond imagining had woven around him. She saw his unworthy shoulders against those of the retreating prince and with a cry she flung her mantle at her father’s feet, screaming in agony as her heart broke.

Then came a gallant prince to the humble abode of Hildgardemar, and entered the house to seek permission to claim his bride. Hildgardmar looked long and carefully at the young prince, then nodded to his daughter who sat by his side. With a pounding heart she dashed up the stairs to her room and clipped the golden threads that held her now-finished mantle in the loom. For a brief instant she gazed at herself in the mirror, her eyes running over the silver yardstick as she held her web before her. “It measures!” she breathed in a tone of awe. “So perfect!” With the mantle in her hand she returned to offer her gift to the prince. He knelt at once so that she could spread it across his shoulders and, glancing shyly into his face, she observed with wonder that her weaving fit him faultlessly. The prince took her hand in his and led her outside to his waiting horse. As her father assisted her to mount behind her prince he whispered, “Farewell, my daughter. Because you kept in view the silver yardstick which I gave you, even in childhood, because not even one golden thread of the golden thread was squandered on another, because you waited cheerfully and patiently until your womanly fingers had woven the best that lay in your womanly heart, may all happiness be yours! Receive it as your fitting crown!” Then Hildegarde stooped to kiss her father, and with his blessing crowning her lovely brow, she rode away behind the prince. With tears in his eyes, Hildgardemar watched, knowing that her life would be filled with joy and love as it had been written.

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Stop, Drop and Roll

August 22, 2008 at 10:34 am (Articles, Godly Living) (, , , , , , , , )

Imagine you are a little mouse in the home of the average American family, where two children sit coloring at the kitchen table. “You stole my pencil!” one exclaims. “I did not!” the other replies indignantly. “You stole it yourself!” You, the mouse, sits to the side, contentedly munching the missing pencil. Behold the epic tale of the false accusation.

The issue caught my attention the other day while browsing the Rebelution forum: What do you do when you’re on the receiving end of the accusation? Here’s my recommendation for becoming fireproof.

Stop before you answer. Think about the accusation to be sure it’s false–that there is no truth in it. Answer gently–not affirming the accusation, but also not denying it or if you feel you must deny it, deny it gently once. Don’t argue about it. Siblings are rarely persuaded through argument. Parents should be honored. Husbands should be respected. Proverbs says to leave the arguing to fools.

Drop to your knees and pray for wisdom, gentleness and forgiveness, insight into why the other person may have accused you, understanding of what they may currently be going through and for the truth to be made known. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood–pray that the Lord would do the battling and the debating for you.

Roll with the punches. Remind yourself that you may falsely accuse at times as well. Remind yourself that your relationship with this person is too valuable to risk harming by fighting. Remind yourself that God knows the truth and He will bring all truth to light eventually. If the person is angry, you won’t be able to reason with them anyway. Give them some time to think it over without irritating or increasing their anger. Shrug your shoulders, thinking of the bigger picture—eternity. How important is it really whether you stole the pencil or not?

Sometimes, at a later time, an opportune moment arises to discuss the issue–take it then and calmly express yourself, respectfully. Even siblings deserve respect and honor. But don’t force an issue and always give it time to cool! If it becomes an argument, bow out. So many misunderstandings resolve themselves when set on a shelf for a little while. Many false accusations are quickly proven to be false without a struggle. In fact, if you maintain an attitude of humility and gentleness, you’ll find that people are less likely to accuse you, more likely to listen to you and more likely to acquit you and come to your defense. For me, I find the root of my defenses usually lies in self-righteousness, pride and anger. King David had an excellent attitude toward false accusations, of which he found himself the frequent butt. “But I, like a deaf man, do not hear, and I am like a dumb man who does not open his mouth. Yes, I am like a man who does not hear, in whose mouth are no arguments. For I hope in Thee, O Yahweh, Thou wilt answer.” (Psalm 38:13-15) The Lord will vindicate the righteous. And He does so with much more finesse.

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