Tag Archives: commentary

Happy Friday Feature!

Feature Friday

Before I introduce my featured blog for the day, I want to wish all my readers and fellow writers a very happy Friday.  Some of you may write for a living, so today may not be any different from another since you do not punch the Monday through Friday time clock.  I work as a Registered Nurse during the week, and only get to write in my spare time.  Even though I like nursing, Fridays are still reasons for celebration.  To those of you who share in my enjoyment and anticipation of much needed time off, Happy Friday!

Since I began my Friday Feature posting, I have highlighted several fellow Christian authors.  For the most part, those I featured have numerous followers and supporters.  Today, I would like to introduce someone who, like me, blends into the enormous community of Christian blogs; someone who, due to lack of exposure, might otherwise be overlooked.  However, today’s author is someone whose posts I never tire of reading. Please welcome:

 Dr. Jeff Krupinski

Dr. Krupinski has a no frills site, so if you are looking for bells and whistles, move on.  Instead, he posts daily devotions, which although not accompanied by snazzy photos or glitzy adornment, are straight to the point Truth from the Word.  He begins his devotions with Scripture, offers his unique perspectives and tips for practical application, challenges with pointed, thought provoking questions, and then ends with prayer.  The longer I have read his blog, the more I have come to appreciate his style and his consistent format.  Although basic, his site is refreshing in that it frees readers from the burden of distractions, and allows them to glean instead what Scriptural devotion followers came for in the first place – to learn more of about God’s Truth and how best to follow Him.

One of things I have discovered from following other sites is that many writers develop topical themes, similar to how pastors often have sermon series.  I tend to write all over the place, part of my somewhat ADD personality, I suppose.  I would categorize Dr. Krupinski as one of those writers who develops his thematic points gradually, daily, and I like this.  One of my favorite of his was from his February posts, in which he wrote on forgiveness.  The following link is to this post, in which he poignantly makes the connection of pride as a hindrance to the need for forgiveness:

2/27/13 Daily Devotion

I encourage my readers to check out this terrific site.  Dr. Krupinski does not share an About page, and for some that may raise concerns.  In my opinion, though, About pages are subjective anyway, and as such construed to convey personal information however the author chooses, whether accurate or not.  What I have found by reviewing a new site, and certainly by following one of interest, is that it does not take long to hear the person’s heart by what one writes.  If a true follower of Christ, it will be evident as Truth consistently and unashamedly bleeds through.  Dr. Jeff Krupinski fits this profile, and is a consistent messenger of Truth and a bright beacon of light for Christ.

Join me in following along as Dr. Jeff Krupinski – Brings God’s Word to the World.

Addendum: Dr. Krupinski is a minister, who is married with three children. He has doctorates in both Theology and Counseling, written numerous bible study booklets, and published three books.  This added information about his background is not at all surprising considering the quality of his daily posts.  Due to concerns as to coming across as bragging, he does not routinely share his accomplishments. Thanks for the information Dr. Krupinski!

Written with permission from the author. I am certain that you will enjoy following his blog! Blessings, always!
Sue

A Glad Dad

Proverbs PostA wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.
Proverbs 10:1

Years ago, when my son was little, I did something very foolish.  A friend and I decided to go camping on the beach, with just our children.  Neither of our husbands could get the time off work, but since some of her other friends could meet us there with their motor homes, we ventured out on our impromptu trip.  The problem was that neither of us owned a motor home; instead, we traipsed off, towing a horrendously overloaded pop-up all the way to our beach side oasis.

Amazingly, we made it there without a hitch (no pun at all intended).  Seriously, for me hitches are not a laughing matter!  Here is why.  No sooner had we unloaded kids and bikes, than the two female camping pros proceeded to set up camp.  One of my jobs was to pop-up our temporary dwelling.  My husband had spent hours training his not-at-all mechanical wife how to do so.  His instructions on unhitching the trailer and lowering the stabilizing wheel worked flawlessly – on pavement.  Those same guidelines did not work so well in sand.  As I attempted to unhitch the trailer, because of the sand and my ineptness, the entire weight of it came crushing down onto my exposed, flip-flopped foot.  Just in time, I managed to pull my foot free.  I ended up hobbling my way around camp most of the week but avoided a fracture, which was inevitable had the full heaviness of the pop-up landed squarely on me.  These beach-combing gals learned a valuable lesson: never go trailer camping without capable help and never set up shop in sand!

The potential for foolishness is inherent in all of us, but is particularly predominate in very young children and teens.  My husband and I have experienced our fair share of both with our children, especially with what some call teenage angst.  In the verse above, it is evident that God understands such foolishness and the tough job of parenting.  What I find so interesting are the contrasts described; a son who is wise brings joy to a father, whereas a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother. In another verse:

“A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish man despises his mother.”
Proverbs 15:20

Implied is that wise children are those who demonstrate honor and respect to both parents; by doing so, they bring a blessed peace to the home.  When things get out of kilter with respectfulness, such as during angst, things go haywire at home for everyone.

I derive much comfort from this verse above because it validates what I already knew, that moms seem to bear the brunt when a child strays into foolishness.  Any mother going through the trauma of dealing with disrespect, rebellion or defiance from a child knows that she just bears the burden differently from her spouse.  Overall, dads can encounter a late night outburst from a child then go right to sleep, but moms lie awake and cry.  The burden brought about by the foolishness hurts both parents, but for the mother it really does feel like a crushing weight.

The Lord understands this heavy burden carried by hurting mothers, but knows that fathers are suffering, as well.  Using the contrast above, He thoughtfully ties the two together.  Dads may not feel as crushed by the rebellious child, but they are nonetheless affected.  I am reminded of the saying, ‘When momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!’  The heavy emotional toll of a mother not coping with a parent-child conflict usually spills right over onto the dad.  The Lord knows that a father cannot be joyful when his wife is falling apart.

The flip side to this is that when things go differently, and a child quits being foolish to walk wisely instead, it brings joy all around.  The mother’s overbearing burden is removed, and she feels as light as a feather.  The heaviness leaves, the tension dissipates and a once sad situation becomes suddenly delightful.  With peace restored, momma is once again happy.  Dad enjoys the change in the child’s behavior, too, and seeing his wife happy makes him happy.  Everyone is happy!

We have all acted foolishly before and are all in need of God’s grace.  Some of my past harebrained decisions and periods of rebellion, I would like to forget.  Thankfully, Jesus has always shown that He will forgive and mend our foolishness.  I must do the same.  Along the way in our parenting journey, He keeps teaching my husband me how to love unconditionally, to forgive and to keep moving on.

Though the burdens of parenting can be massively weighty, God is able to lift them and to restore joy back into our lives-for both moms and dads!  During those times, when it seems as though the heaviness brought about by a foolish child is simply beyond bearing, God has a way of letting us know just how fully He understands.  He too knows firsthand the hurt rebelliousness brings.  He experiences it daily from His children.  On the other hand, whenever this child (me or you) acts wisely, it makes for a very glad Father!

Bright Clouds, Silver-Lined

Bright clouds for wordpress

“Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; [so] the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.”
Zechariah 10:1
KJV

Have you ever noticed how people obsess over the weather? Weather is the Pulitzer Prize of small talk. It the go-to subject around the coffee pot at work, the ice-breaking conversation starter with a stranger and even the talking point in an elevator, a place where few ever talk.

Inclement weather seems to generate the most dialogue, especially pending storms. Those initiate almost non-stop discussion, especially with the weather channel and 24/7 news feeds. I remember so well the days leading up to Katrina how, glued to televisions, we all waited and prayed for a favorable outcome. The threatening storm created much stir. Although Katrina has long since subsided, the weather frenzy has only intensified. Now more than ever, with every storm named, the weather fascination continues.

Weather was also a topic of interest in Jesus’ day. Apparently, there were meteorologists, even then. When discussing how best to discern end time events, Jesus initiated the conversation about weather as an avenue to reprimand those so-called weather and prophecy experts:

 “Then Jesus turned to the crowd and said, “When you see clouds beginning to form in the west, you say, ‘Here comes a shower.’ And you are right. When the south wind blows, you say, ‘Today will be a scorcher.’ And it is. You fools! You know how to interpret the weather signs of the earth and sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the present times.”
Luke 12:54-56

Another time, in Matthew 16, Jesus is confronted by critics asking Him for a sign to prove who He was but rather than comply with their demands, He scolds them for being savvy forecasters of weather, based on the color of the sky, yet unable to read the signs of His coming. These weather enthusiasts were pros at using their eyes to judge nature but failures when it came to recognizing the Truth standing in front of them. They were good at watching clouds but stunk at finding Him.

My key verse is from Zechariah 10. The context is the nation of Israel, after their captivity in Babylon and subsequent return to their homeland. Zechariah writes that God will once again bring the blessings back with His latter rain. This promise brought encouragement to them and for us today, as well.

THE BRIGHT CLOUDS

I have read this passage several times and often skim past it. Every time I read the part about the bright clouds, I envision a drawing depicting a bright, sunny day with lofty clouds and green grasses below. The kind of sketch a child would draw for display alongside other choice refrigerator artwork. Since I grew up on the KJV Bible, I had never questioned that bright clouds meant anything other than the billowy types. I assumed that the rain mentioned would come later. Actually, the bright refers to ‘lightning’ or ‘flashing clouds’ and are rain clouds instead of the bright sunny ones I supposed.

Bright cloud sketch

Lacking any adequate irrigation system back then, Israel’s livelihood was dependent on rain. Early and then latter rains are what kept their crops alive and their well-being preserved; hence, Zechariah’s portrayal of the clouds would automatically be viewed as an encouragement to those despondent, former slaves that blessings were forthcoming. Rain was on the way!

I was a little distraught when I realized my understanding about the clouds was in error. Even though the flashing type brought rain and were a clear promise of renewal, thoughts of such storms, with occasional associated destruction, clouded my receptivity of the verse’s true meaning. Part of me longed to keep that happier picture on the refrigerator. Yet, God reminded me to take a closer look.

Rain clouds are by nature ominous. Though not as becoming as the white, fluffy types, they are the only ones which sustain life. Water vapors, if left suspended in the sky, may be beautiful clustered together as clouds, but they must bust open their payload to nourish the fields and grasses below. My bright clouds look good floating around in the sky or on pretty paper but are worthless if they never bring showers of blessing.

THE SILVER LINING

The bright, flashing clouds mentioned suggest latter rain, but also hint of a benefit yet unseen; there is a silver lining. With stormy Cumulonimbus clouds, lightning is always around. It is the precursor to the rain. One flash suddenly illuminates the dark. The clouds bring the restoring rain, but the lightning bolts, though unpredictable and terrifying, herald its arrival. One day soon, another event will suddenly stun the entire world and bring for some a longed for promised restoration. With lightning strike speed, God will herald the Son’s return and our promised gathering to meet Him in the sky. For Believers, meeting Jesus in the clouds is our silver lining!

 “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:27

The return of Christ is on the horizon but His coming will catch many unaware. As lightning crashes unexpectedly ahead of rain, Jesus will snatch His loved ones home with a suddenness that will bring eternal blessings for them but profound devastation for those left behind. However, since this event is yet to occur, nobody reading this post need be unprepared. A-accept Jesus now, before it is too late. B-believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. C-confess your sins openly with your mouth and make Him Lord of your life. Out of love, Jesus gave His life so that everyone would have a Way back to Him and not left behind. Just do not delay. Today is the day of salvation!

God observes the weather. Though we tend to get fixated upon the weather and its patterns, He is not at all surprised when it changes. Perhaps, knowing that man would have such a fascination with the weather is what prompted His decision to designate clouds as the meeting place for Christ’s return. He knew we would be cloud gazing anyway, so why not have that upward stare be a reminder of Him.

Whether bright, fluffy ones or ominous, rainy ones, clouds should always be special to God’s children. It is in those clouds, with a blaze of lightning flash glory, that He will both reunite and carry us home. Bright clouds really are silver-lined!

Even to You

Hand compliments of Michaelangelo

Hand, compliments of Michelangelo!

So that your trust may be in the Lord, I have made known these things to you today, EVEN TO YOU. Have I not written to you excellent things in counsels and knowledge, to make you know the certainty of the words of truth…”
Proverbs 22:19-21

Early in life, I was severely shy. I can remember hiding behind my parents when someone new came to our house, or dreading having my name called each day during school. My greatest fear was of having any type of attention drawn to me. I preferred cowering in the safety of my comfort zone.

Most of that shyness has subsided, but I am still somewhat introverted and uncomfortable in crowds. Conversations in small gatherings or one on one are just more my preference. The very thought of being pointed out openly still sends my blood pressure soaring. Some remnants of timidity will likely always define who I am.

The Proverbs passage highlighted is a wonderful declaration by God of His trustworthiness and of how He made His Truth accessible. From a shy person’s perspective, though, a small portion of the verse jumps off the page. For those bashful ones like me, it is as if a speaker reading the verse stops when he reaches the ‘even to you‘ part, then points directly at me, causing my heart to cringe and my face to redden. Thankfully, this is not what God intended in this verse!

Quite the opposite is true. God is never mean-spirited or ever cruelly single us out, but He does call out. In this passage, He poignantly calls to us across the expanse of time. 

I love God’s Word, both its timeliness and timelessness. Though written thousands of years ago, His Word touches us where we are today. God could have just made known His Word, and left it at that, hoping that someone would pay attention and migrate towards Him.  He could have simply thrown Truth out in generalities, but He did not. Instead, God made His Truth known to you this day, showing clearly that the Truth was for a particular people group. However, God did not limit His Word to one group; He directed it straight at the individual, even to you. From ages past, God revealed excellent things in counsels and knowledge then made it available to all, even to you and me.

God’s excellent Word is alive and is the only Book that has the power to change individuals. It never has or ever will change. Other religions boast of truths and moral guidelines, but all end up causing more harm than good. The reason for this is that other religions require strict adherence to a set of teachings, causing perfectionism and bondage. God’s Truth, however, is the exact opposite. When revealed, it is so that the hearers’ trust may be in the Lord. They trust in His ability, not their own. God made Truth known, not for us to burden ourselves with unattainable religious perfection, but so that we would place our trust in the only One who is perfect. By revealing Truth to each of us, God is literally unveiling Jesus.

Sadly, for those who refuse Christ but instead choose religious bondage, the result will be death, a spiritual death that brings eternal separation from Him. God makes known His Word to every person born, in undeniable ways. Whether through the awe of His creation or orchestrated opportunities, He provides everyone the circumstances in which to understand the certainty of the words of Truth, found only through trusting Jesus.

God called out long ago with a message of Truth. He directed that call to everyone collectively, but also individually, even to you. Though I am still shy and feel awkward having my name highlighted in a crowd, He called even to me. This call was not mean-spirited, but was done out of a desire to restore us to Himself. It was a love message.

Through Jesus, God makes known that He loves us. Though He was nailed to the cross long ago, Jesus looked across time and saw your face. He saw everyone’s face. He even saw mine, bashful and all. The Way, the Truth and the Life gazed upon humanity then wrote an excellent message. That message of love was written to you. Even to you!

Proverbs Post*Similar blog entries of mine can be found on the category Proverbs PostBlessings always!  Sue

Hide or Seek

Facebook for wordpress

“So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For He will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.”
1 Corinthians 4:5

Many of you are probably seasoned Facebook enthusiasts. I jumped on board only a few years ago and mainly so that I could keep up with what is going on with our children and grandchildren. My husband and I live quite some distance away from them and often it seems like we are the last ones to hear what is happening in their lives. Facebook has helped us stay more connected. At the very least, we get to view all the cute pictures of the grandkids we would have otherwise missed seeing!

Since I am relatively new to social networking, and due to a general lack of interest, I am somewhat uninformed about many of Facebook’s features. Although the List setting has probably been around for quite some time, I only recently discovered it. I was researching information about privacy settings for Facebook as it relates to personal timelines and pages. While searching, I came across this whole concept of creating lists as a tool for customizing what one shares. By their own Help definition, “Lists give you an optional way to share a post with a custom audience or exclude some people from a post.” 

Once generated, lists act as filters for personal status updates or posts. One can even view how their personal timeline appears to each category of listed individuals. The whole concept seems rather benign on the surface. Very likely, most who utilize this Facebook feature do so because of privacy concerns. Some may even want to separate their personal lives from business for similar reasons. Others may simply organize their friends into categories of close friends versus acquaintances. However, plenty others may create segregated Friend lists in an attempt to compartmentalize their lives based on aspects of their behaviors or views. Some on their List can know certain things they say and do, while others cannot. 

In essence, Facebook Lists enables users to screen or hide certain aspects of their lives from others. When done for security issues, the filters are always justified. When utilized for communicating extremely personal sentiments to closest friends only, lists are understandable. However, when created for the sole purpose of hiding particulars of one’s life, lists then become avenues for secrecy and automatically arouse suspicion. Lists used for this reason epitomize a person trying to live a compartmentalized, secret-filled life.

With these Lists, keeping secrets can work. Children can cleverly hide from their parents any subversive behaviors or inappropriate posts. Employees can cloak from their superiors unacceptable off-duty choices or unethical remarks. Spouses can disguise from their mates unfaithful relationships or suggestive gestures. With Facebook, secret profiles may work. On God’s timeline, they do not.

God sees everything. One day, each of us will stand before His throne and give an accounting for the things we have done. In Mark 4, it is clear that God is our judge and nobody else. Before Him on Judgment day, all secrets, whether sinful in nature or not, will be revealed. So will the motives behind them. Since we will each stand before Him, it would behoove us to keep our lives undefiled. It is certain that nothing kept hidden ever goes unnoticed by God.

Those who generate Facebook Lists in an attempt to cover up portions of their lives are only fooling themselves into believing that nobody knows. They can continue to play a game of ‘Hide’ by using custom categories of Friends, but God sees every hidden Status Update and all components of their Personal Timelines. In the end, they will discover that what they tried to hide, the Light will fully reveal.

What is of particular concern is when Christians resort to such secrecy. Our lives are supposed to be like candlesticks with the light of God’s presence shining openly. Luke reminds followers of Christ,

 “For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither [any thing] hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.” Luke 8:17

The gospel should not stay hidden in Christians, nor should they be hiding secret sins.

What everyone should be doing is seeking God, not hiding. We should be seeking His face, seeking Him while He may be found, seeking Him like for hidden treasure, seeking Him with all our heart, and seeking Him first.  When seeking Him becomes our focus, hiding secrets will not be our desire. Sins we commit will be brought continually before the throne in order to be cleansed, allowing Him to make every area of our lives like an open book anyone can read. There will not be any devious compartments on Facebook which only certain people can view.

More than anyone else, we should want to Friend Jesus. He wants to make us His own and to call us friends. In His Book are the names of those friends, but He does not separate them into lists of those He loves more. Because of that love, we should want God’s friendship and to spend our lives seeking Him first.

Facebook is fine and a great way to stay connected with family and friends. God wants to stay connected with us, too. Knowing that, is there ever any reason for hiding secrets that would separate us from a True friend? 

No TV Trays Allowed

Photo by  my brother, Chuck Stephens

Photo by my brother, Chuck Stephens

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” Psalm 23:5

 At holidays and other special occasions, I like to get out my ‘pretty’ dishes to use for our meals. By pretty ones, I am referring to the two sets of vintage dinnerware given to my husband and me from our respective families. I suppose we could use them more often, but since both of us are very sentimental, we have decided that seldom usage will ensure their longevity.  We do enjoy them, but one drawback to using antique dishes is that they do not tolerate the rigors of a modern dishwasher; so, along with the special memories that come with our holiday celebrations are also remembrances of extended ‘KP’ sessions at the kitchen sink!

Place setting 2

Although extra work is involved with creating special holiday memories, most agree that the energy expended is very much worth it. In our fast-paced, increasingly disconnected society, the times in which families can gather around the table are becoming fewer with each generation. Yet, there are few things which connect families more than actual ‘face time’ at these cherished gatherings.

Green dishes

Jesus is preparing a banquet for His true followers to celebrate their homecoming. As we are His Bride, the wedding feast that awaits us is likely to be quite spectacular. I have often tried to imagine that magnificent setting. In my mind, I picture the longest table I have ever seen, one stretching for miles. I also envision unique place settings and ornate name placards, carefully arranged with each individual in mind. While only my imaginations, I doubt I am wrong to assume that Jesus will ‘bar no expense’ to make this ‘welcome home’ occasion one that is beyond what any eye has seen.

All Believers will attend the grand feast Christ is preparing. He is even now setting our place. Christians all have this blessed hope; however, we also have an adversary who wants to destroy our confidence in that hope. The Devil is constantly before the throne of God hurling accusations about us, and daily devising ways to create doubts in us about our promised future. Perhaps not you, but there have been times I have succumbed to his schemes. Occasionally, when discouraged, I have allowed Satan to convince me that I am not deserving of a seat at God’s banquet table; instead, just a TV tray by myself in a far-removed corner of heaven. For these fleeting moments, he deceives me into thinking that only more deserving and holier Christians have a seat at Christ’s grand wedding table.

Satan is a liar and deceiver. He is also very clever because he knows that the surest way to succeed in creating doubt in any believer’s heart is to do so during times in which they are tired, discouraged or weak. Those vulnerable periods are the times that he pounces on us like a ravenous wolf to its prey. As I said, I have unfortunately at times fallen prey by doubting that God wants me around Him in heaven. I fall for the lie that somehow my right to have a special seat at His table, and have one of those name placards just for me, is a result of my self-efforts and good deeds rather than what Christ has already done on my behalf.

Nothing could be further from the Truth. Even though the deceiver of the brethren would have us believe otherwise, Jesus is preparing a table for us in “…the presence of my (our) enemies.”  The devil shows up before God’s throne and presents his cruel accusations: Jesus just ignores him as He continues setting the table! A royal table prepared for those He loves. Because of what He has done, by dying for our sins and then rising from the dead, and not based on anything we could ever do, Jesus cleared the guilt that would have prevented us from having a place by Him. Satan knows this all too well; hence will continue to use his tricks to convince us that all we deserve is a TV tray apart from our loving Savior in heaven.

Jesus alone is Worthy and we do not earn our way to heaven. All that is required of us to sit with Him at that heavenly feast is to make Him Lord of our lives. He will sit at the Head of the table, a well-deserved place of Honor. However, He will welcome all of His children to pull up seats at the table. As to whether there will be any TV trays in heaven, though, Jesus tossed those out the moment He burst forth from the grave, leaving behind an empty tomb. At His table, there are no TV trays allowed!

Addendum: As I was putting away the dishes used for one of the photos above, the tablecloth slid causing my pretty vase to fall to the floor and shatter. It is obvious who was behind that ploy! No worries though-it is only a vase. I pray that God will set one far more beautiful for me at my seat at His heavenly table and fill it with roses instead!

From His Heart for blog

A Priceless Woman

Old photo of my husband's parents

Old photo of my husband’s parents

“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.”
Proverbs 31:10

Those who know me will tell you that I do not care for football. Since my husband enjoys it so immensely, I have at times put forth an exerted effort to focus on an entire game, only to find that after about 5 minutes my mind is drifting off to other things. America’s sport (stats show football has jumped ahead of baseball in the polls) just does not hold my attention.

Once a year, during the ‘big game,’ I try with renewed determination to appreciate the sport. Every Super Bowl Sunday, out of love for my husband and my desire to connect with what matters to him, I try. This past weekend, I failed as miserably as in my previous attempts. (Sorry, dear, I tried!)

Like many non-football fans, I do enjoy watching Super Bowl commercials. What I prefer to skip is the half-time show. It seems that every year, the theme of the show is either, ‘Raunchy’ or ‘More Raunchy.’ This year’s performance by Beyoncé fit the profile. I heard little vocal talent but saw much provocative gyrating. What I find offensive, though, matters little to ratings. The networks only spew out what our society demands; hence, scantily clad, overtly suggestive women performers will continue to dominate the half-time entertainment.

Unfortunately, there is infatuation in our culture with racy women. Brittany, Paris, and Madonna are but a few. Their names are not typically synonymous with virtuous, or ‘moral excellence.’ These women have shaken off the ‘prudish dust’ of virtuosity and replaced it with self-expression. To them, the more lascivious, the better. The more controversial, the more their popularity soars.  Sadly, this new brand of womanhood is breeding droves of young fans, longing to emulate everything they represent.

A virtuous woman, as is described in Proverbs 31, is rapidly becoming extinct. Although penned thousands of years ago, one can almost hear God earnestly pleading today, “Who can find a virtuous woman?” Where did she go? With each passing generation bringing fewer who value moral excellence, His plea becomes more urgent. Where are women who will strive for His principles rather than the unbridled restraint so rampant today?

Some argue that the only women living wanton lifestyles are those famous ones in the entertainment industry. Based on the prevalence of crude reality shows and music videos, it must be translating into the population at large; otherwise, the industry would dwindle. Either way, we would be wise to take a solemn look at what such lifestyles produce – addictions, narcissism, careless divorces, reconstructive surgeries to the point of disfigurement and discontent. These ‘progressive’ women exchange virtue for pleasure and often realize too late that, in doing so, they have traded away something of great value and thereby witness their lives fall apart.

God is not chauvinistic in His desire for godly virtue. He does not want women locked in castles wearing chastity belts! He expects virtue because He knows what an important gift it is; a gift that builds value in her and brings value to others, especially, to a spouse. Unlike any other trait in a woman, moral excellence seals a man’s heart with a confidence that no money can buy. She may not be as sexy, skinny or flashy as a Super Bowl entertainer is, but a virtuous woman offers him much more. With virtue comes courage, another definition for it. She will have the courage to stand up for what she knows is right, to share only privately with her husband her most intimate beauty, and to stand unwaveringly by her man. She is truly a gift.

One Super Bowl, just after the ‘wardrobe-malfunctioning’, gyrating half-time show has ended, what needs to come next is a commercial, opening simply with a man whose arm is around his wife. Unlike the one who just performed on stage, the woman next to him is one who is ‘above reproach.’ She could be, but need not be outwardly attractive, because to him she is the most beautiful woman in the world.

What follows in the ad are scenes of Beyoncé in juxtaposition with numerous of the man and his bride. Then, one shot focuses only on Beyoncé in concert with the words, ‘Attending a Beyoncé concert: $277.’ Later, another one showing her at the game with the script,Seeing Beyoncé in the Super Bowl: $3000.’ Those images are all the commercial needs except for one. At the end, the camera zooms in on just the wife with the clincher: ‘Being married to a virtuous woman: PRICELESS!.’

Elizabeth, a virtuous woman who was dearly loved, especially by her man!

Elizabeth, a virtuous woman who was dearly loved, especially by her man!

To the rest of the world, she may not be famous and she certainly will never put on a half-time show; but to the man who both loves and trusts in her, she is a woman whose “…price is far above rubies.”

Proverbs Post

God’s Treasure Chest

Treasure chest

Photo by Chuck Stephens

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Luke 12:34

I have a wooden jewelry chest, with lovely floral inlays, that doubles as a music box. Contained within my chest are my most treasured jewelry pieces. I store them there for protection and so that I can find them easily when I decide to wear one.

Since I have never been much of an accessory diva, I do not have much jewelry and certainly no expensive pieces. Pricey jewels have never enticed me; I’d much rather have heirlooms which have sentimental value, like those given to me by my husband or passed down through our family. When I wear their jewelry, I treasure the thought or memory of the one from whom it came.

Like special jewelry, treasures of any sort are the things we deeply love. As is described in this verse above, God reminds us to set our affections on things that matter. In a way, He wants us to apply a sort of heart test to the things we love and do. If those things have an eternal perspective and are done with a ‘paying it forward to heaven’ approach, we will pass the test by demonstrating that our affections are properly aligned with His. Our hearts desire will be to treasure Him above all else.

To further expound, I will share a story about something that happened years ago when I was a neonatal R.N. While working one evening, I was called by the postpartum unit to come and pick up a baby so that his mother could try to get one last good night of sleep before going home the next day.

After wrapping the infant snugly with blankets and tucking him securely into the wheeled bassinet for the trek back to the nursery, the mom suddenly pointed to her newborn son and asked, “Do you know what you have there?” I wasn’t quite sure how to reply, but there was no need since she quickly answered the question for me. In a passionate voice, while still pointing to the child, she said, “There’s my heart. You take good care of him because he is my heart.”

Her words touched me deeply and profoundly changed my perspective about my role as a baby nurse. When I left the room, it occurred to me that although my goal was to take excellent care of her infant, I was mainly focused on overseeing his well-being. I would do my best to see that nothing happened to her child. From her perspective, though, if anything happened to him, it would also happen directly to her heart. She saw no difference between the two. I thought my job was just to care for a newborn that night, but to this loving mother I was really caring for her treasure – her heart.

God loves us that much. He looks at us and says, “There’s My heart.‘ We are His treasure. I am reminded of but a few passages from Scripture which allude to this idea:

“You were bought at a price…”  1 Corinthians 7:23
“When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!”
Matt. 13:46

“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine…” Song of Songs 6:3
“Keep me as the apple of Your eye…” Psalm 17:8

Although I am not certain of this, it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that God has a treasure chest; a place where He stores up memories of each of us. There are hints of this in the Bible. In Exodus, God showed a decided fondness for keepsakes when He had Moses construct the Ark of the Covenant, then had him store artifacts from those supernatural events. It was God’s designated place for His glory, but He also wanted it used to save objects for remembrance.

In another passage, God again showed His affection for saving memories but that He does so specific to us:

“Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name.” Malachi 3:16

It would be just like the Lord to have a special place for keeping treasured memories of His children. As a carpenter, Jesus would probably elaborately craft each one. A gorgeous treasure box, engraved with our names! My hunch about this is only speculative; however, no crafted keepsake could compare to where we know with certainty God has decided our memories belong:

“See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands…” Isaiah 49:16

How perfect a place! To remember us, God need look no further than to His hands – hands that took nails in order to lovingly redeem us. When I need to find my earthly treasure box, I find it in my room; to find God’s treasure chest, I need to look no further than to those same nail-scarred hands. With our names written into His palms, we forever become a part of Him – His treasure. And ‘where His treasure is, there His heart will be also!’

From His Heart for blog

A Divine Sentence

Proverbs Post“A divine sentence is in the lips of the king; his mouth transgresseth not in judgment.”
Proverbs 16:10

Much discussion is currently going on in the public arena about judges in America ‘legislating’ rather than ‘ruling’ from the bench. Until recently, the accepted expectation of judges was for them to decide on cases according to established laws, then afterwards to pronounce a sentence for the accused. That standard seems to be changing as more in the judiciary are revising the role of judge to include the writing of laws.

Webster defines a judge as, “a public official authorized to decide questions brought before a court.” The decision is generally made after a careful weighing of the evidence presented. Rulings should also be founded upon the framework of a solid understanding of existing laws. Any judgment which deviates outside the confines of established law into the realm of arbitrary new law, undermines the very definition of judge.

While the role of judge should be confined to deciding law, that of a king is vastly different. Monarchies can vary, but historically kings are synonymous with sovereignty and thus possess, “supreme political power.” (Webster) Judges pass sentences. Kings can issue decrees. At their discretion, kings can function as both judge and law-giver.

The passage above refers primarily to any king acting within his sovereign powers to judge. By his own mouth, sentences are issued and this role is not delegated. You get the sense, by the emphasis of the ruling being a ‘divine sentence,’ that whatever a king decides is what will be. End of discussion!

Monarchs can rule however they want. In the verse above, God makes it clear how He prefers they rule: “…his mouth transgresseth not in judgment.” Another version says it this way: “…he must never judge unfairly.” (NLT) Throughout history, kings have come and gone but the ones who have grabbed God’s attention are those who are wise; a wisdom that is made evident by how they rule. Passing fair judgments cannot be done by relying solely on intellect. Kings who make their mark in history are ones who use their God-given power to rule in a way that is guided by principle, even if they are not fully aware of Who is the guiding force behind their decisions.

Ultimately, there is no earthly judge or king who rules with absolute perfection. The only flawless judgment comes when a ‘Divine sentence’ is decreed. God is the perfect law-giver and the only fair judge because He judges in righteousness. Once His Word is spoken and has gone forth from His lips, it will always be proven fair and true. His Word cannot be appealed or revoked. As the only Wise King, His rulings are always above reproach.

We do have an enemy who would like for us to for us to question this ‘Divine sentence’ and the trustworthiness of our King. The devil has his own set of decrees he would love to issue over us. Unfortunately for him, the Judge of all created beings has already issued a sentence concerning Satan. His ‘day’ is coming. God has promised us that we will one day get to watch this ‘accuser of the brethren’ cast away forever. The mouth of the King has spoken it, so it will be! Hallelujah for that day!

What both intrigues and encourages me about this ‘divine sentence from the lips of a king’ is the hint of something that goes beyond a mere reminder that God is a fair and perfect judge. When God speaks, and His Word has gone forth, it is both powerful and final. Another passage of Scripture reveals this same idea:

“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
Isaiah 55:11 (NKJV)

After a decree leaves God’s lips, He will not change His mind. Earthly decrees can be overturned because human kings and kingdoms are temporal; thereby, subject to change. God’s Word will never change. The encouraging thing for us is that this certainty of what He has determined applies not only to His commands but also His promises. Specific promises, which are spoken directly into our hearts and confirmed through His Word, are given to us by the King of Kings! The guarantee of their fulfillment came the moment He issued their decree!

It is like God is saying to us:

‘Everything which I have purposed for you has already gone forth out of My mouth. It will all be fulfilled. It cannot be altered or overturned because a Divine sentence is in the lips of a King!’

Moments in the Storm, Part I

Tsunami new

I love this old hymn that we used to sing when I was growing up called, ‘Got Any Rivers?’

Got any rivers you think are uncrossable?
Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through?
God specializes in things thought impossible
And does the things that others cannot do.
by Oscar C. Eliason
(Excerpt)

Don’t know about the rest of you, but I have encountered rivers that seemed ‘uncrossable’ and huge mountains that I felt I could not tunnel through. I am not talking about actual rivers or mountains. Instead, what I mean are those seemingly impossible, overwhelmingly awful circumstances that seem to come when you least expect. Sometimes, they have even been more like what I would describe as tsunamis! By whatever name, they tend to hit out of nowhere and leave one feeling vulnerable, devastated and afraid. When they occur, there often just does not seem to be a way to make it through.

Like it or not, we are guaranteed to experience these awful trials. In John 16:33, Christ reveals to us, “In the world, you will have tribulation…” This Greek word for tribulation is thlipsis and means, ‘to crush, press, squeeze’ or ‘a grievous affliction or distress.’ God accurately describes these kinds of storms because they really do feel like a crushing blow and seem to squeeze the very life out of us. Jesus warns us that while here, we will all eventually bump headlong into ‘grievously distressing’ situations which have the capability of crushing us and taking us under.

Though it does help to be warned, knowing ahead of time that we will face tribulations doesn’t make them any easier when they hit. In fact, they are the things which make or break us as believers. They become our defining moments. Our ‘moments in the storm.’ If we really trust Christ, we should all be able to just ‘bounce back up’ and handle anything life throws our way. The reality is that these stormy moments can be of such magnitude even the strongest in faith are knocked flat.

As if the storm itself were not bad enough, there are also many online or on television preaching that believers must merely ‘speak away’ every trial in Jesus’ Name. When the storm does not immediately subside, the same ones say we should call into question that person’s level of faith. Jesus does want us to pray in faith against any mountain or storm; however, conclusions by others due to the apparent lack of results when we do, are at best guess-work and even cruel.

It would be great if our trials were so easy to understand and we could go through this life totally free of tribulations by simply speaking them away! The fact of the matter is that we have no guarantees our storms will suddenly abate by our speaking, wishing or even praying them away! Our only certainty is that they will come. God is God and we are not; consequently, we cannot circumvent His sovereignty or negate circumstances He has allowed and perhaps even deemed necessary. We often misunderstand that God’s seeming refusal to respond is instead Him asking us to wait.

Conclusion tomorrow.