Thursday, September 27, 2012

Above Rubies

There is a saying around here, that "cats are a dime a dozen." Why? Because the country air seems to be a natural habitat for them grow and multiply; it's easy to find one. Similarly, we could say that ordinary women are "a dime a dozen," because the world is a natural habitat for sin to abound. It is easy to go the way of the world; but being a virtuous woman like the one described in Proverbs 31 takes work.
"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies." (31:10)
Hebrew study:
who- person (interrogative)
can find- come forth, appear, exist, attain, find, acquire. (fig: occur, meet, in person)
a virtuous- force (man power, means, or resources) army, wealth, virtue, valor, strength
"[The virtuous woman is a] weaker vessel made strong by wisdom and grace and the fear of God." ~Mathew Henry
woman- feminine form of man
for her price- merchandise, value
is far- remote (distance), specifically precious
above- from or out, a part of
rubies- (from root meaning turn or angle) as pearl

Concordance study:
Pro. 12:4- a virtuous woman is a crown to her husband
Pro. 19:4- a prudent wife is from the Lord
Rut. 3:11- all the city...doth know that thou art a virtuous woman
Ecc. 7:28- ...but a woman among all those have I not found
Sol. 6:8,9- there are...virgins without number...my undefiled is but one

*note: other verses that mention "above rubies" or such like, refer to wisdom. apparently, a virtuous woman and wisdom are without price.
Pro 3:15, 8:11, 20:15

Dictionary:
virtue- morally good; acting in conformity to the moral or divine law. Chaste.

A ruby is the second hardest gem, and is one of the four most precious stones. It is graded according to color, cut, clarity, and carat, as well as size and origin. (Wikipedia) 
A large ruby that is deep red, transparent, and cut beautifully (though not flawless,) is very precious indeed. What a challenge to be a godly woman in the midst of worldliness! As I continue to study the Proverbs 31 woman, I'm looking forward to learning and being equipped in God's ways. -To working toward being the kind of woman that is priceless as a fine jewel.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

People You Shouldn't Marry 5/5


Part Five
This is part five of "People You Shouldn't Marry" by Richard Rohlin

Don’t Be a Jezebel (Cont’d)
Thirdly, a Jezebel exalts physical beauty over spiritual beauty. I want to be careful about how I say this because I don’t believe for a moment that being spiritually beautiful means that you can’t keep up with fashion, or that you don’t take care of yourself or your physical appearance. Sadly, there are women who think and operate this way, overshooting modesty and hitting frumpy instead. To make sure we keep things in balance, let’s take a look for a moment at the original Jezebel and where she went wrong.
In 2 Kings 9, the reformer Jehu has ascended to the throne and is now on his way to destroy the last of Ahab’s household. Upon hearing of his coming, Jezebel promptly begins putting on her makeup to prepare herself to meet him. Now, here’s the key: there is nothing inherently sinful about makeup. There’s not even anything wrong with putting your best foot forward when you are about to meet someone important.
The problem here is that Jezebel is trying to use her physical appearance to compensate for the wickedness of her heart. She wants to charm and impress her way into Jehu’s good graces – something she’s probably been able to do herwhole life. And that’s the problem – using physical appearance or charms to compensate for lack of depth of character.
I think that most girls probably do this without realizing it. It’s the ones that realize what they’re doing that worry me the most – the girls that proclaim modesty to others while pushing the boundaries themselves. But the hyper-modest are equally guilty.
Don’t get me wrong – modesty is important. But it is not the be-all, end-all standard of good Christianity. The woman who obsesses over her modesty and snidely condemns the immodesty in others is still guilty of the same idolatry as the girl who dresses to attract or impress men. It is the idolatry of physical appearance over inner beauty. Here is what Peter says:
Do not let your adorning be external–the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear– but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands… (1Pe 3:3-5)
Peter is not telling women that they cannot braid their hair or wear jewelry any more than he is telling them that they cannot wear clothes. The key is in these words: “…but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart…” It is not that you should not look nice or wear nice things. But that is not your adorning. That is not the standard by which you will judge your own worth or the worth of others.
So there you have it, my little Tirza. Do not marry an Ahab. Do not be a Jezebel.  I hope that wherever you are, whenever you are reading this, that you are well and that you know that your Daddy still loves you with all of his heart.
Affectionately,
Your Doting Daddy

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Good 'Ole Fashioned Music

We are enjoying the services and music of the Benjamin Everson family http://biblerevival.com at our church. Mr. Everson is known as the "one man quartet" and has traveled as an evangelist for about 10 years. He has a heart for educating today's church about music and longs to see revival in God's people. If you are in the area, we'd love to have you join us here at Bible Baptist Church, Sidney, Montana, as we listen to his singing, piano playing, and teaching. Services will be Sunday at 6:30 and Monday and Tuesday evening at 7.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

People You Shouldn't Marry 4/5


Part Four of the gentlemanadventurer.org's People You Shouldn't Marry
Don’t Be a Jezebel
Lastly dear heart, as important as it is that you should not marry an Ahab, it is just as important that you should not be a Jezebel.

Jezebel – Even the mere mention of the name conjures up images of a woman who is morally-loose. As a culture we associate Jezebel with the temptress, the sorceress, the seductress. There are vague impressions of too much makeup, of muslin veils and dimly-lit palaces. But, when it comes right down to it, Jezebel is really much simpler than that. Jezebel is probably a very nice girl to hang out with and it’s quite likely she goes to church. She has a normal family, and given time she will almost certainly marry, or at least date a good deal, because she is the kind of woman for which the Ahabs of the world are looking.

First, Jezebel attains her self-worth and self-identity through idolatry. In ancient times, a person’s name carried great power and significance. It told you something about that person, and in a very real way it was their identity. Jezebel’s name, literally-translated from her native tongue, means “The Prince Baal Lives,” or “The Prince Baal Exists.” As I’m sure you know by now, Baal is a Canaanite fertility and weather god, worshiped by the same Syro-Phoenicean religion of which Jezebel’s own father was high priest before he became king of Sidon.

But in Hebrew, and this is a most unfortunate play on words, Jezebel’s name can mean, “There is no nobility.” The point, whether or not you put stock in the meaning of Biblical names, is that Jezebel was a woman who found her identity and her fulfillment in promoting her false religion – in promoting idolatry. In this way, she is not so different from the Jezebels of our own time, who seek for their fulfillment and self-worth on all of the pagan altars of the world: On Facebook, in their career, in their physical appearance, in ministry, and in men.

Of course the problem with this is that looking to any of these things for the fulfillment that you can only attain via a personal and vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ is the very essence of idolatry, not less than Jezebel’s altars and asherim. A woman who does this is not just rejecting her God-given purpose as a woman, she is rejecting what it means to be a Christian. Such a woman I hope and pray that you will not be, and such a woman is not ready or fit to be a helpmeet.

Secondly, Jezebels will cater to a man’s selfishness. Going back to 1 Kings 21, we see Ahab sulking because Naboth would not violate the Mosaic law and sell his ancestral inheritance out of his tribe. Jezebel, perhaps history’s worst example of an enabler, took matters into her own hands and had Naboth brought up on trumped-up charges and promptly executed.

Tirza, if you remember nothing else of this little talk, remember this: A woman who will cater to her husband’s selfish impulses will be the single most destructive influence in his life.

One of the things that I have always admired about your mother, and one of the things which first endeared her to me, was the fact that she has quite simply never put up with my crap. Lovingly, gently, she has maintained high expectations of the man I ought to be, and she is ever holding me to them. I think it is something that she does unconsciously, and frankly I find it unnerving at times. But she expects manhood of me, and that affects my behavior because I love her and want her to be happy.
I don’t mean to sound as though your mother somehow bullies me into Christianity, because that is not the case. But you need to understand that very much of how a man behaves is based upon the expectations that people have for him. If people will tolerate or reward his selfishness and unrestrained ego, then that is how he will behave. But if you treat your man like a Man, and lay upon him all the commensurate responsibilities and rewards, he will very quickly grow into them. If he doesn’t, then he’s not the man you are looking for.

To be continued...

Friday, September 14, 2012

God is... Zealous


Zealous

“…Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord shall perform this.” Isaiah 9:7

It is only one word, yet it carries so much feeling!

I love Shakespearian age literature, but am not one of those people that reads with a dictionary on hand. When I got to the letter “Z” in the names of God, the word “Zealous” immediately came to mind. The more I thought though, it occurred to me that I don’t really know the meaning of the word. Zealous meant… well… zealous?

Sheepishly, I pulled out my computer and looked it up, to see what the old Strong’s Concordance had to say about it. With all the thousands of words available, he defines zealous with only three very definitive words: jealousy, envy, and zeal. Further searches (Webster J) defined zealous with more ambiguous words and phrases, like, “passionate ardor,” “eagerness of desire,” and “fervency.”

In a human sense, zeal can be either a good or a bad thing. In today’s lingo, we would say “he’s all gung ho for…” something. (It can be any issue on any side.)

To then take that word and apply it to God’s character paints it in, completely unknown as of yet, colors. God’s zeal can condemn the Pharisee for hypocrisy while ardently calling the Publican to accept His forgiveness. In His fervent love for you and I, God has a zeal that is unmatched by any human lover wooing his bride.

At the same time, He is a very JEALOUS God. -And He has right to be.  
He created the world.
He created angels.
He made man.
And animals.
He shared His intelligence with man.

Yet man is “evil continually.” We stubbornly seek our own way. “I CAN DO IT MYSELF!” we say, disregarding His plan and His way of doing things.
My music.
My video games.
My movies.
My favorite books.
My version of the Bible.
My opinion.
Me. Me. ME.

We don’t get it! He is zealous for our love! He is jealous for our love! He is envious for our love!

And He should be. He is the one we should be seeking. It’s His opinion that really matters. He’s the Only One that deserves our unrestrained, undivided devotion.

Now I’m feeling sheepish for another reason. -I know I am not zealous for Him like I should be. Lord, make my life lead by Your desires and plans, not my own. May others see Christ, not selfish, pious pride, shining through my conversation. Lord, may you be glorified above all.

“For the zeal of Thine house hath eaten Me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached Thee are fallen upon Me.” Psalm 69:9

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

People You Shouldn't Marry 3/5


This is Richard Rohlin, (gentlemanadventurer.org),  talking about who you shouldn't marry. 

Part Three
Spotting an Ahab (Cont’d)
Third, an Ahab will shift blame. Psychologists call this having an “external locus of control.” Simply put, when things are going badly, it’s never their fault. It’s your fault, or their parents’ fault, or their employer’s fault or the system’s fault. We see this plainly demonstrated in Ahab’s confrontation with Elijah in the wilderness, where he blames Elijah for the years of drought that Israel has experience as a result of God’s judgment:

When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?”(1Ki 18:17)

Elijah is quick to point out Ahab’s error, as well as remind him of the true source of Israel’s woes:

And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals…” (1Ki 18:18)

This brings us to an important question you should ask yourself about any young man: does he shift blame or take responsibility? Now, this is tricky, my dear, because some Ahabs are smart enough to shift the blame while at the same time making it look like they are taking responsibility, especially if you are accommodating.

They will verbally castigate themselves all the while dropping hints to you about how hard their environment is, how negative the culture or people around them are, or the seemingly insurmountable odds that they have tried in vain to overcome – and they will do this until you have no choice but to sympathize and tell them that it isn’t really their fault.

That’s actually a really good place to transition to the fourth unique trait of an Ahab – Ahabs will ultimately look to a woman to solve their problems. It might be their mother, or their girlfriend, or the suspiciously-large circle of girls they hang out with that are “just friends” (which should also always be a warning sign, by the way), but at the end of the day they will seek their validation and fulfillment in the Woman instead of the Word.

The classic example of this is found in 1 Kings 21. Ahab, who is already moping because of the judgment pronounced upon him by Elijah, decides to engage in a little retail therapy. He sees the vineyard of Naboth (which is roughly Hebrew for “vineyard guy”, leading me to think that this must have been a very nice vineyard indeed) and wants to buy it.
Naboth won’t sell, because of his desire to adhere to a stipulation of the Mosaic Law, and so Ahab promptly goes to his room and pouts and refuses to eat until Jezebel finally solves his problem via an elaborate scheme involving trumped-up blasphemy charges and a kangaroo court.

There is a trickier variety of this which is more difficult to spot – the man who pines away for female companionship or recognition, and uses this to fuel the engine of self-pity. Like any other kind of sin, this is ultimately a corruption of something that God created, in this case the God-given need for woman. And I don’t even mean to say that all men who greatly desire female companionship are like this. The rule should be, if you even have to ask if your candidate is the exception, he probably isn’t. As I said earlier, he should need you to make his good life great, not his miserable life good.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

People You Shouldn't Marry 2/5

We are learning about people you shouldn't marry, from Richard Rohlin, and this is part two.


Part Two - Spotting an Ahab
Spotting an Ahab is easy, if you know what to look for. You will find them on the street, you will find them in the workplace, and you will probably find a disproportionately large number of them in the church. The church is a sort of safe-haven for scoundrels. The outside world is largely still a meritocracy, where men are judged based on a number of criteria. Although these criteria are often not biblical, there remains a certain expectation that a man must act in certain ways and accomplish certain things to be considered respectable.

On the other hand, the church has been hearing “judge not” for so long that they have begun to lose sight of wisdom and discernment. And so the church is full of perfectly placid “good boys” and “decent guys” who share all of Ahabs’ weaknesses, if perhaps none of his malice.

First, an Ahab serves only when it is convenient or advantageous to do so. We see this in 1 Kings 20-21, when Ahab is given victory over Ben-Hadad of Syria. Ahab obeys God’s leading and God consequently gives him a great victory over the Syrians. But then at the end of the battle, Ben-Hadad is taken captive and brought before Ahab.

Ahab, though he is commanded by God to kill this wicked gentile king, instead decides to grant him clemency in exchange for some territorial and political concessions. No doubt this seemed to Ahab to be a good plan at the time, saving him a lot of effort and conquest. But it was also in direct disobedience to the Word of God.

This is what Ahabs do. They will serve in the church, as long as people notice what they are doing and it accrues to their credit. They will be honorable, so long as there is something to be gained by it. But the Ahab lacks the courage and integrity to do what is right when it will not tip the scale in his favor.

Secondly, an Ahab feeds on self-pity. We see this in 1 Kings 21, where Ahab essentially goes into severe depression and stops eating simply because he cannot get what he wants. He is self-focused, incapable of showing love to others except where it benefits himself.

Ahabs will have a lot of friends – in fact, they may be completely surrounded with people. Many of these people may even genuinely like Ahab and think that he is a “good guy.” But when you take a closer look at the dynamic of these relationships, a disturbing trend emerges. Ahab is not the energy-giver, he is the energy-taker. He wears his friends and his family out with his constant craving for self-attention and self-exaltation.

It is this very trait which will probably endear him to you. He needs you. He can’t get along without you. And there is a certain kind of person, a certain species of pride, which will thrive and feed off of the Ahab because on a fundamental level it needs to be needed. This particular kind of relationship is damaging and destructive because each species of pride and self-absorption feeds on the other.

Here’s a quick-and-dirty rule for you, Tirza, when considering a future spouse: Is he already a “whole person” without you? Before you came along, was he a healthy, energy-giving servant of the king? If the answer is “no”, then he is not the man for you. It isn’t that a good spouse shouldn’t complete you – but the man you marry needs to be the sort of man who has already grounded himself in Jesus Christ. You are not his salvation. You are not his fulfillment. Any man who is wallowing in self-pity before you come along and pick him up out of the gutter will make an idol out of you as he has himself. And what we idolize, we will eventually come to despise.

To be continued...

Monday, September 3, 2012

People You Shouldn't Marry 1/5

Recently I came across this article, and it was so good, I wrote the author to obtain permission to share it with you. It's one of those "ouch" reads, but a blessing at the same time. Written by Richard Rohlin, of the Gentleman Adventurer, to his daughter, this article gives valuable advice to godly single women of all ages. 


People You Shouldn’t Marry (Part 1 of 5)
 “And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him.” (1Ki 16:30)
As of this last Friday, my daughter, Tirza, is just six weeks old. This past weekend we took her for her first serious roadtrip when we went out of town for a family member’s wedding. As the bride came down the aisle, it was hard not to look down at the little girl I held in my arms and wonder if that would be my daughter some twenty years hence. I think most dads with daughters will agreewith me that no thought is quite so terrifying.

What kind of woman will she be? Who will she marry? Will it be someone who is good for her – a man who will lead her in a loving and Christlike fashion? Will I have the discernment to know the good men from the charletons and fakes? I pray that I will. But while I am uncertain about many things regarding my daughter’s future and my role in it, I am certain of one thing: I do not want her to marry an Ahab, nor do I want her to be a Jezebel.

So Tirza, if you’re reading this, all those years from now, this one’s for you.

You probably already know about Ahab and Jezebel. You know that they were bad people. In fact, when your mother and I chose your name, there was a long list of names from which we could chosen – but Jezebel never even made the list. It’s synonymous today with a wicked and morally loose woman, and there’s a good reason for that. The original Jezebel set a precedent for wickedness that has ruined the name for any future Jezebels who came after her.

Ahab wasn’t any saint, either. In 1 Kings, we read that Ahab did more evil than any of the kings that were before him. It actually goes into more detail than that, because we see that Ahab knew he was evil and he took pleasure in it, his depraved heart constantly looking for more ways to sin.

And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. (1Ki 16:31)

Ahab’s marriage to Jezebel is listed as one of the greatest and most aggregious of his sins – and there’s a good reason for that. Marriage changes you in ways that nothing else will. If you marry well, as I believe I have, then it will be a wonderful blessing that will draw you closer to God in ways unexplainable to a single person. But if you, as a woman, marry an Ahab (or for a man, a Jezebel), it will equally define your life for the worse.

One of the things that a spouse will do is amplify everything aspect of your personality. That is, a good spouse will draw out the good things and make them more so, and a bad spouse will do the same with the bad things. In Ahab’s case, he was already a wicked and idolatrous man, but it was through Jezebel that Baal-worship would first be introduced to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. On the other hand, a good spouse should make you more Christ-like; they are one of the tools that God uses in the process of sanctification.

To be continued…

God is... Yoke-Breaker



Yoke-Breaker


Who knows what a yoke is? Being a farmer, I know this word has historical value. Before tractors and such, farmers used horses or oxen to move equipment. Two oxen would be yoked or tied together with a wooden pole, then harnessed to pull the load. Hopefully the oxen or horses were the same size and pulled the load evenly and easily. If an ox and a horse were yoked together, not only did it take more work, but often they couldn’t pull in a straight line.
Often times, Scripture uses the idea of a yoke figuratively, to give a mental picture to the people. Being under a yoke meant bondage or servitude to someone, usually more like a tyrannical relationship than a democratic one. This is the type of situation mentioned in Genesis 27:40, Leviticus 26:13, 1 Kings 12:10-14, Isaiah 9:6, and Nahum 1:13. Before you go any further, stop and look those verses up.
 ---
With those verses in mind, we can continue. You will have noticed that some of those verses were God talking, saying he would break the yoke and free them from bondage. God never intended us to carry that kind of yoke. In the New Testament, there is another kind of yoke mentioned that God didn’t like either.

“Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” Acts 15:10-11

In this verse, Paul is debating the issue of circumcision with other apostles. This verse is reminding them that Jesus died to free people from the yoke of Old Testament laws and traditions. Grace and truth come together. God’s laws are not intended to hinder freedom, but rather to enable us to be truly spiritually FREE. Jesus paid the price, broke the yoke; and now you and I can walk in Him without any fear of bondage.

Paul again speaks about a yoke in Galatians, warning the Christians there of putting themselves back under bondage to sin. Jesus made us free. Why then, would you want to go back to being tied down to every whim of another master? Instead, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1

Are you tired of being held in bondage to sin? Are you weary from trying to obey that tyrannical law in your own strength?  The invitation is still open today as it was two thousand years ago. Jesus calls us to a different yoke- one where He gives the strength and enables us to serve Him. -Where the burden is never unequal to our strength in Him. -Where peace reigns in our hearts.

Come to Jesus. He is the Yoke-Breaker. He set me free, and He’ll do the same for you!

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find riest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30