Far Above Rubies

"A worthy woman who can find? For her price is far above rubies." (Proverbs 31:10)

Friday, September 29, 2006

Seven Steps Downward or Upward?

Tonight, as I was reading Leslie Ludy's book, Authentic Beauty, I read the following:

"A devoted young college student, John Stam, who later gave his life for Christ on the mission field in China,* once wrote about the two roads we must choose between whenever we are faced with any kind of temptation toward sin. The first road John called "Seven Awful Steps Downward." He describes each step on this road. The following is a paraphrase:

Step One: Adopting a careless attitude toward sin.
Step Two: Giving in to sin.
Step Three: Habitually giving in to sin.
Step Four: Surrendering to sin.
Step Five: Abandoning God for a life of sin.
Step Six: Becoming a tool of Satan to tempt others to sin.
Step Seven: Hell - and you do not have to die in order to go there. Hell is character as well as location. The person who hates everything that God loves is in hell now, and hell is in him or her.

The second road John called "Seven Glorious Steps Upward." He describes each step on this road. The following is a paraphrase:

Step One: Developing a resistant attitude toward sin -- determining that sin will not gain control over you.
Step Two:
Overcoming sin by faith in Christ. Successfully fleeing from temptation--saying no the desire or opportunity to sin.
Step Three: A lifestyle of victory over sin. Habitually saying no to the desire or opportunity to sin. The strength that comes from one victory helps in overcoming the next temptation.
Step Four: Discovering the "abiding life," the "victorious life," the "exchanged life." It has been termed many things by many different Christians through the ages, but in short, it is a life of intimate acquaintance with the grace of Christ and the empowerment that comes when His Spirit gains full access to your life.
Step Five: Entrance into even deeper fellowship with Christ. It started with your trusting God--now God trusts you. You are set apart for His enjoyment and for His service.
Step Six: Becoming one that God calls on to do great and mighty things for His kingdom. A set-apart existence that values Christ over life itself and is willing even to suffer and die to carry out the King's bidding.
Step Seven: Heaven - and you do not have to die in order to get there. Heaven is character as well as location. The person who devotedly loves everything that God loves is in heaven now, and heaven is in him or her."

Which road are you on? The first road is a slippery slope, and you will continue to move downward if you don't change paths completely. If you are on the second road, are you moving upward, or digging a rut where you are? Perhaps even moving one step forward only to move two steps backward? Which step would best describe where you are in your walk with the Lord? Few Christians actually reach Step 5, let alone Step 6 where God can use them to do great and mighty things. If we actually believed that Jesus was returning tomorrow, how would that change our todays?

*John and Betty Stam, former students of Moody Bible Institute, lost their lives for sharing the Gospel in China. They were arrested by Communist soldiers, held for ransom, and beheaded. Their courage led hundreds of other young men and women to volunteer for missionary service.

"The Lord's Mercy"

Meditations of the Heart: "The Lord's Mercy"

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

"I will rejoice over them to do them good." Jeremiah 32:41

"How heart-cheering to the believer is the delight which God has in His saints! We cannot see any reason in ourselves why the Lord should take pleasure in us; we cannot take delight in ourselves, for we often have to groan, being burdened; conscious of our sinfulness, and deploring our unfaithfulness; and we fear that God's people cannot take much delight in us, or they must perceive so much of our imperfections and our follies, that they may rather lament our infirmities than admire our graces. But we love to dwell upon this transcendent truth, this glorious mystery; that as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so does the Lord rejoice over us. We do not read anywhere that God delighteth in the cloudcapped mountains, or the sparkling stars, but we do read that He delighteth in the habitable parts of the earth, and that His delights are with the sons of men. We do not find it written that even angels give His soul delight; nor doth he say, concerning cherubim and seraphim, 'Thou shalt be called Hephzibah, for the Lord delighteth in thee;' but He does say that to poor fallen creatures like ourselves, debased and depraved by sin, but saved, exalted, and glorified by His grace. In what strong language He expresses His delight in His people! Who could have conceived of the eternal One as bursting forth into a song? Yet it is written, 'He will rejoice over thee with joy, He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing.' As He looked upon the world He had made, He said, 'It is very good;' but when He beheld those who are the purchase of Jesus' blood, His own chosen ones, it seemed as if the great heart of the Infinite could restrain itself no longer, but overflowed in divine exclamations of joy. Should not we utter our grateful response to such a marvellous declaration of His love, and sing, 'I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation'?"

~ from Morning and Evening
by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Sunday, September 17, 2006

After God's Own Heart

  • That I May Know Him

  • I linked this post which I have put up on my blog, as per Barbara's request. Thanks!

    Saturday, September 16, 2006

    Do You Speak "Woman?"

    I had a wonderful time Thursday night fellowshipping with my young mom friends! They are both in their 20's (I'm 55), both pregnant, and both precious. I love them dearly, and we had the opportunity to have some great "Level 3" conversation. Our pastor categorizes conversations at three levels, #1 being surface and #3 being heartfelt, deep conversations about the things closest to our hearts. What a privilege that we can share because of Him. We were speaking the strange language that men have such a hard time understanding. It is called "Woman." Men can learn this language, but it takes a lot of effort. Thank God that there are those few men who will take the time and effort to learn it. It will pay off for them greatly in the long haul. I quote from Stu Weber's book, Tender Warrior:

    "So what are a woman's needs? What are the prerequisites for learning this wonderful, sometimes-bewildering language called "Woman"? Dr. Willard Harley isolates five. The first is her need for affection, that is tenderness. The second is conversation, the sharing of the heart. The third is honesty and openness; no secrets between us. The fourth is security, or physical and financial provision. The fifth is relational commitment. She must know she is a priority. Scripture refines those five feminine needs down into three imperatives for men: honor, nourish, cherish. And listen friends, that's no academic exercise--it's an action plan. Shakespeare said it this way, "They do not love that do not show their love."

    See, we're not that complicated! At least life is never boring with a woman around!

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    "My meat is to do the will of Him who sent Me...."

    I have been meditating on this verse for several days. "Jesus saith unto them, 'My meat is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.' " John 4:34. The Greek for meat used here (bromah) means, "that which delights and truly satisfies the mind."

    My son interviewed one of our Missions Pastors, John Brown today, and is writing a paper about that interview. John's responsibility is to teach those who are called to go to foreign fields and prepare them for their work. When Jeremy asked John how God had called him, he said that his passions changed - from business to Christian service, and then to missions. When John talked to Tommy Nelson, our pastor, about his love for teaching & missions, Tommy suggested combining the two and that is exactly what John does. Our church has its own Missionary Training Institute and serves as its own mission board. (If you are interested, the website is: www.serve.dentonbible.org) We have friends in Zhongdian, Shanghai, Kenya, and Mexico. Watching over the years as they have sacrificed and repeatedly laid down their lives and personal desires, I am always awe-struck at our marvelous God and how He works His will through them. Our friend, Jill, who is leaving for Kenya soon, has such a passion for her work that it is contagious - very evident when she had dinner with us last week! Carey has been interested in missions since the age of nine. I am looking forward to seeing what God will do with her life. I have no doubt that the above verse could easily apply to all of our missionary friends' lives. That which truly satisfied and delighted the mind of Christ was to do His Father's will and work. Nothing else would satisfy. How many of us can say the same?

    Sarah wrote a great post on something similar on Tuesday on her blog: "Job, even during the worst of his trials, was able to utter such words as to esteem the Word of God more than his necessary food." His Word, His will, His work. Complete satisfaction and DELIGHT. We've talked about surrender on this blog a lot lately, but have we been talking about gut-wrenching, teeth-gritting surrender......or delightful surrender? Is the doing of His will and work the very thing which sustains us and brings real joy to our lives? What else could possibly satisfy?

    God has done an amazing thing in my life this year. Although I have been a Christian for 34 years, I have had growth spurts and plateaus, trials and blessings, times of fervor and times of complacency. That is the normal Christian life. I was in such a time of complacency, and this spring God began moving in my life in a way that I have not seen in a long time. It is as if I have awakened from a deep slumber. I have become passionate for the Word again and a prayer warrior for many. I journal, I blog, I am discipling two other young women as well as my own daughter. I have a precious outreach in the Children's Ministry. I would rather think on, read about, listen to, and discuss the things of God than anything else. I really don't care if I eat anymore - it's just a bother. I have better things to do! So I guess that this verse is becoming a reality in my life in a way that it never has been before. The way He brought all of this about is even more amazing - I never would have believed it! But I praise Him for His mysterious ways and His never-failing love and goodness toward His chosen ones. He is truly the only thing that can satisfy and delight my mind!

    "I delight to do Thy will, O my God: yea, Thy law is within my heart." Psalm 40:8

    Monday, September 11, 2006

    Woman of Strength

    ~Proverbs 31:10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

    The word “virtuous” is from a noun (virtue) meaning strength. Virtuous is a commendable quality or trait and implies chastity, especially in a woman. Here, it refers to strength of character and moral strength. A virtuous woman is one who is morally excellent and thus, a righteous woman. In light of this truth, we can say that Proverbs 31:10 applies to a woman who fears God, loves truth and hates sin. In comparing Proverbs 31:10 to Proverbs 31:30, it is evident that a virtuous woman is a God-fearing woman.

    The expression of a "virtuous woman" is used in two other places in the Holy Bible. Therefore, to fully comprehend the term of a virtuous woman / woman of strength, we must take a look at:

    1. Ruth 3:11

    “And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that thou requirest: for all the city of my people doth know that thou art a virtuous woman.”

    When a woman has strength of character (fears God, loves truth and hates sin), others around her will take note. Why? Because it’s unusual for a woman (and may I add, especially young women) to uphold such high and Godly standards. In general, people are morally weak and lack Godly character, that when a woman of strength shows up, she stands out in the crowd.

    2. Proverbs 12:4

    “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.”

    Here, we learn that this woman of strength is the crown to her husband, she is his reward. A crown in the Bible usually typifies a reward for the Christian. Also, this virtuous woman does not make her husband ashamed.

    In conclusion, we know that a virtuous woman is a woman of strength in the Lord. She is clothed in righteousness, and so, we can say that she has put on the Lord Jesus Christ.

    ~Philippians 1:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

    ~Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.

    Thursday, September 07, 2006

    Dating vs. Courtship

    http://www.pursuantgroup.com/hudson/audiodevo/0906-w1.htm

    Remember Me

    When we were driving home from church last night, I was listening to Carey's I-pod and discovered a song by Mark Schultz that is very thought-provoking:

    Remember Me
    In a Bible cracked and faded by the years.
    Remember Me
    In a sanctuary filled with silent prayers.

    CHORUS:
    And age to age and heart to heart
    Bound by grace and peace
    Child of wonder, child of God
    I'll remember you...
    Remember Me.

    Remember Me
    When the color of the sunset fills the sky.
    Remember Me
    When you pray and tears of joy
    Fall from your eyes.

    CHORUS

    Remember Me
    When the children leave their Sunday school with smiles.
    Remember Me
    When they're old enough to teach
    Old enough to preach
    Old enough to leave.

    And age to age and heart to heart
    Bound by grace and peace
    Child of wonder, child of God
    I'll remember you...
    Remember Me.

    Wednesday, September 06, 2006

    Other-Centered Life

    Mattew 16:25, "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it."

    About nine years ago, my husband and I took a course on parenting from a Christian perspective. Carey and Jeremy would have been 9 and 5, respectively. There is so much good material available to help you on your way as a Christian parent that it is daunting! We came away from this course with two very important ideas that we have tried to implement since then:

    1) The family should function as a team, a microcosm of the Body of Christ. Right now, our home is a crazy place! My husband and my daughter are both in college at different campuses, going in different directions. My older son works in downtown Forth Worth and has a 2-hour round trip commute each day. So these three are literally going north, east, and south. Jeremy and I are still homeschooling, but we only do half of his subjects together. Carey and I work part-time at the church together several days a week (at least we see each other there). I am studying for the national pharmacy tech exam, which I hope to take in November. Somehow, meals are still prepared, laundry gets done, and the house is reasonably clean. To add further stress (I mean challenge), we recently moved my 80 year-old mother into a house down the street from us so that we can take care of her as she ages. That was a major step of obedience for me (honor your father and your mother). What amazes me is that most of the time, our family functions as a well-oiled machine. Okay, so we creak and groan a little! We take turns cooking, we all clean (sometimes under duress), some mow, we take turns running errands, etc. We are in church Sunday morning (service), Sunday afternoon (Lifeline), and Sunday evening (AWANA and childcare). Jeremy and my mom are serving as Cubbie leaders this year, while Carey and I work in childcare. We are not a ME-centered household! We support each other. Even our five bank accounts are linked so that we can transfer money around to whoever needs it. Guess who gets that responsibility! Which leads me to the second principle.....

    2) Our lives should be OTHER-centered as opposed to SELF-centered. I am sick to death of hearing about SELF-esteem. What we need is more GOD-esteem. If we have a correct view of who God is, then SELF becomes utterly unimportant, and the side benefit is that we find the true happiness that we seek when we lose ourselves in the Savior. The first principle will not work if you do not implement the second....and it is just plain hard work!

    So, as a young woman, if you are looking forward to marriage as the answer to all of your hopes and dreams...don't! In their book, The First 90 Days of Marriage, Leslie Ludy writes, "God challenged me to give Him the pen of my life afresh; to lay down my agenda, my expectations, and my plans for what our married life was supposed to be; to allow Him to take us through whatever challenges and trials He saw fit; to let Him continue to script our love story in His own perfect way. I realized that I had been subconsciously thinking of marriage as the time when 'everything would finally be perfect in my life,' that I would be completely satisfied and fulfilled simply because I was finally married. But I was looking for satisfaction in human things; in having a comfortable home, a white picket fence, and a husband that knew how to meet all of my needs.

    After spending time doing some serious soul-searching, I was reminded that my number one source of fulfillment and satisfaction must be Christ alone. My external circumstances might never be perfect. My marriage to Eric, though wonderful, could never fulfill the deepest needs of my heart. But my relationship with the God of the universe could satisfy and fulfill me completely, if I would simply surrender my entire life to Him." (The first chapter of this book is available to read online at their website: ericandleslie.com).

    As a young unmarried woman, what should you do to prepare yourself for marriage, providing God has that in His plans for you? Leslie says, "Surrender is not a one-time act, it is a daily, moment-by-moment decision." Amen! Look at every moment of your day as an opportunity to respond as He would, and His light and beauty will shine through you. When, and IF, God gives you the privilege of marriage, you will be much better prepared for the daily sacrifices and challenges He brings to you through learning to love another person His way, by seeking their highest good and not your own. Look for opportunities to die to yourself - providing the ultimate picture of the Savior. Get to know Him better! Spend every moment you can in His Word! Exercise your faith by talking to others about Him! Stretch yourself by taking a mission trip! Life with Jesus is rich and full - don't lose your todays by thinking too much of tomorrow.

    Monday, September 04, 2006

    The Lord Trieth the Righteous

    "ALL events are under the control of Providence; consequently all the trials of our outward life are traceable at once to the great First Cause. Out of the golden gate of God's ordinance the armies of trial march forth in array, clad in their iron armour, and armed with weapons of war. All providences are doors to trial. Even our mercies, like roses, have their thorns. Men may be drowned in seas of prosperity as well as in rivers of affliction. Our mountains are not too high, and our valleys are not too low for temptations; trials lurk on all roads. Everywhere, above and beneath, we are beset and surrounded with dangers. Yet no shower falls unpermitted from the threatening cloud; every drop has its order ere it hastens to the earth. The trials which come from God are sent to prove and strengthen our graces, and so at once to illustrate the power of divine grace, to test the genuineness of our virtues, and to add to their energy. Our Lord in His infinite wisdom and superabundant love, sets so high a value upon His people's faith that He will not screen them from those trials by which faith is strengthened. You would never have possessed the precious faith which now supports you if the trial of you faith had not been like unto fire. You are a tree that never would have rooted so well if the wind had not rocked you to and fro, and made you take firm hold upon the precious truths of the covenant grace. Worldly ease is a great foe to faith; it loosens the joints of holy valour, and snaps the sinews of sacred courage. The balloon never rises until the cords are cut; affliction doth this sharp service for believing souls. While the wheat sleeps comfortably in the husk it is useless to man, it must be threshed out of its resting place before its value can be known. Thus it is well th Jehovah trieth the righteous, for it causeth them to grow rich towards God."
    ~ from Morning and Evening by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

    Sunday, September 03, 2006

    Christian Manhood

    "Hey, wait!" you are probably thinking. This is a blog designed around Christian womanhood! Yes, but womanhood needs to understand manhood because one depends on the other. My son is currently being discipled by a wonderful man in our church, the AWANA Commander, Phillip B., and my husband. They are going through a Scouting program called "God in Life" which they will complete before Jeremy's Eagle Court of Honor, and Phil will reward Jeremy with an additional medal for completion of it. (I know, this may be boring to you, but hold on.) They are learning together about how to apply your faith in the real world. Nothing could be more important in high school than this. We may study great theology in Bible, but if he can't apply it, what good is that? (Although I do know that ultimately this is the Holy Spirt's job, but a little prodding can't hurt). In light of that, I am reading a book called Tender Warrior: God's Intention for a Man by Stu Weber (a former Green Beret in Vietnam and now a pastor). I highly recommend this book for the man in your life (could be your brother!), or for guidelines for you ladies on what to look for in a man. As I was reading tonight, I discovered two small literary nuggets that I just had to publish. The first is by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of my favorite American authors:

    As unto the bow the cord is
    So unto man is woman;
    Tho' she bends him,
    She obeys him.
    Tho' she draws him,
    Yet she follows;
    Useless each without the other.

    ~ from Hiawatha

    The second nugget is by Diana Craik:

    Oh, the comfort,
    the inexpressible comfort
    of feeling safe with another person.
    Having neither to weigh thoughts
    nor measure words,
    but pouring them all right out
    just as they are,
    chaff and grain together--
    Certain that a faithful hand
    will take and sift them,
    keep what is worth keeping
    and with a breath of kindness
    blow the rest away.

    What more can I say? Isn't this the kind of relationship all of us long for? Only through Christ and in His marvelous plans for our lives will we find it!

    Friday, September 01, 2006

    Listen to the Silence

    You are in My hands. You are not keeping yourself; I am keeping you. If I choose to hide you away, it is for a purpose. If I wish to give you a time of rest, it is for thine own good. Nothing is amiss that is in My will. Do not think that it will be as times in the past. I have deeper lessons to teach you. How invaluable have you found the truths to be which I have taught you in your 'Arabia years?' Arabia was not the only solitary period in the life of St. Paul. Indeed, it was rather insignificant in comparison to the later prison day experiences. One does not write what has already been written. One writes out of the storehouse of fresh revelation and his own personal knowledge gained through the painful experiences of growth. Ye cannot escape the growing experience without forfeiting the other. Ye shall cease writing if ye cease learning. Ye do not learn as ye write, but write as ye learn.

    I would spare you if I could do so in love; but this kind of protecting love would be false, and would rob you of much treasure. I only love you truly as I give you My best. My best cannot come to you without pain, even as it could not come to the Lord Jesus without pain. Pain is the result of sin, true, but sin is still an existing problem to be dealt with. It must be grappled with. Empires do not simply fall, but are taken by a stronger force if ye hope to see it fall. I want to make you strong. I want you to be a Devastator. I have brought you to this place. Make the most of it. Drink in the silence. Seek solitude. LISTEN TO THE SILENCE. It will teach you. It will build strength. Let others share it with you. It is priceless. It is little to be found elsewhere.

    ~ from Come Away My Beloved
    by Frances J. Roberts