“Excellent” Wife–Fighting Words?

Ever gotten hung up on the idea of submission? I hope you don’t feel I’m beating a raw topic, because I know we’ve discussed it here before on Going Beyond Belief. But I’m forever surprised by the infinite and multi-layered ways that God reveals Himself to us, and consequently, made in His image, the multi-layered ways He wants us to reveal Him to the world through our lives. 

Proverbs 12:4 says, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.”

An excellent wife. 

Who doesn’t desire to be one? What does that mean to you? In what ways do you fall short of this or how are you succeeding?

But what if the original meaning of the word “excellent” got lost in translation? 

The Hebrew word for excellent in this instance is chayil, meaning: “might, efficiency, wealth, army, strength, ability, efficiency, force … “

Probably not what you were expecting, right? Not the quiet submissive type we often imagine the excellent wife to be. In fact, this is the word God used to describe Gideon when He was commissioning him to go into battle against the Midianites with a measly army of 300 men. In Psalm 8:32, it’s translated strength: ” … the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.”

In Psalm 60:12, we are reminded it’s a God-given power and excellence: “With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.”

It’s a fighting word. It’s a battle-ready, fully equipped, clearly-thinking, humbled, powerfully-dependent word that, ironically, does not contradict God’s upon a wife to submit to her own husband.

Excellence, in the sense of strength, ability and might, is another way that God desires for women to express His complete nature first in our homes and marriages and second to the world at large.

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Submission: How to Want To Do It

Has your husband ever done something that just dropped you to your knees? You know, that submissive position–but in a good way?

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We often bristle at the word “submission.” It makes us feel beneath someone else, second rate and spineless. But I wonder if God’s command for submission should have a whole different feeling, flavor, context and evoke a different physical reaction …

So I ask again: Has your husband, or anyone, ever done something that just dropped you to your knees?

Maybe he knocked 15 things off the “please, honey do list,” or you came home from a long day and he’d vacuumed the house and done laundry. Maybe, on the way home from work he picked up your favorite coffee. Maybe, he dumped the cat litter pan even though that’s “your” job. Maybe he did something 1000 times better, but often, for me, it’s something relatively small but shows that he knows me, my desires, my heart and my needs.

When Patrick turns off the alarm on a Saturday morning, rolls over and pulls me into him, I’m suddenly awash with a gooey feeling like, “I’ll do anything you want–ever!” Or, if he pours me a beer and suggests we sit on the back porch in the evening and listen to a thunder storm, I’m struck with an almost primal-deep desire to do something for him in return, something he loves and longs for. Suddenly, I want to make his favorite dinner, or offer to not give him grief if he wants to play a video game for five hours.

His kindness toward me evokes a response of submissive love, gratitude and a desire to serve him. For a moment, I’m not huffy at all about doing what he wants, about seeking out his desires or preferring him to myself (Philippians 2)–about submitting to him. 

And, I wonder if that’s really how we are supposed to submit to God?

I was reading Psalm 45 this morning. It’s a riveting love song. Truthfully, it can be applied to Christ and the church, to the relationship between Jesus and me. Listen to verses 10-11:

“Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention: Forget your people and your father’s house. Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.”

I heard the Father say to me: Imagine one day being loved like you’ve always wanted. Imagine that everything you’ve ever hoped your husband would do for you, every word you longed for him to say or expression of affection is granted–liberally. That’s what it will be like when you walk with me face-to-face. Indeed, I love you that much now, but your human eyes and heart don’t have the capacity to experience it. Just wait … 

Imagine indeed. What kind of response would that kind of love evoke in me?

And there I think is the key to submission to the Heavenly Father, trusting His goodness and His (often difficult) will, embracing His purpose for our lives and serving Him at cost to ourselves. Did you catch it?

The key to embracing God’s purpose for our lives and serving Him at cost to ourselves is understanding what He has actually done for us … for you … for me. 

Unfortunately, that’s where we fall short. That’s another hurdle that our human minds can barely, if at all, clear: what Christ has done for us. The essence of the Gospel. Admittedly, on a daily basis, I glimpse only shadows of the very truth I have staked all my eternity on–the selfless act of Jesus Christ on the cross and three days later, the powerful act of Almighty God erupting from a tomb.

I don’t know the secret of keeping the Gospel always before my face, but I do know it’s the key to igniting that irrational love response that says, “God, I’ll do anything you want!”

What do you do to keep the truth of the Gospel always before your eyes?

On another note, a wonderful novel based on this passage of Scripture was written by a friend of mine and edited by yours truly! Check it out:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B016AYQV9S?keywords=the+king+will+desire+tomko&qid=1444491137&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

When Life Feels Like a Gamble

dices-1385675-mPsalm 16:5-6 “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”

“I shall never believe that God plays dice with the world.” Albert Einstein

Though believers in Christ know the truth that God is in control; we cannot help but often feel as if our lives are as unpredictable as a game of dice. I am married to a military officer. Our life could hardly get less predictable. The location of assignments, the length of deployments—sometimes the Army plays its cards close to the vest. Or, take my dear friend’s life. Everyday is a waiting game, a baited breath, a prayer that her husband keeps his job in the midst of ruthless layoffs. Then there is the little boy I met at the hospital yesterday. I could see in his mother’s eyes that the slow and painful chemo feels like a die, violently tossed and refusing to settle. What will the outcome be?

Psalm 16:5-6 brings an extra measure of comfort to those days when I’m so confused, tired or bewildered that I don’t know what to pray. God knows that our lives often feel like a gamble. But He promises in His Word that He holds our lot. The lines (otherwise translated as “lot” from the Hebrew) fall in pleasant places for those who love God and are called to His purpose. We can trust and be thankful because God has qualified us to share in a beautiful, heavenly inheritance with the saints in light (Colossians 1:12).

This article was first posted on FaithWriters as a devotional

Strength in solitude

We all know the Bible verse, “Be still and know that I am God.” And most of us are honest enough to admit that stillness doesn’t describe our daily lives. And most of us will also willingly admit that we crave a little more peace in our lives, in our homes, in our jobs, in our world. And lastly, we’ll admit that we’re kind of afraid of stillness and peace. Won’t that be lonely?

I’m not here to chide you, or to offer a solution. But I want you to think about something with me.

Remember David and Goliath? The tiny, boy shepherd challenged a seasoned warrior. With a mere sling, he hurled a stone which sank deep and deadly into the giant’s forehead.

Where did David get that courage? Where did David find the inner peace with potential death and failure? What made David so sure that he heard God right?

I mean seriously, if I thought God told me to charge into battle against a giant twice my height, who had already intimidated my country’s entire army, I might think I was crazy.

But David was a shepherd. His life, to that date, had been spent in solitude. On quiet hillsides, with only curly headed lambs to talk to, David lead a simple, introverted life.

I wonder, is that where David got his strength?

But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.

David’s courage didn’t come from memories of valiant battles or brilliant strategy. His gumption didn’t come from the witness of others, telling him, “You can do it!” David’s determination came from personal memories of God’s faithfulness and a settled relationship with a good, gracious God.

I believe David soaked up God’s company while he sat, perhaps a little lonely on those Judaean hills. It was also the sweet psalmist of Israel who said, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Sink your teeth into those quite, lonely moments. They will furnish you with peace and confidence.

Here is a wonderful exhortation to experience peace: Haven Journal

Irrelevant

If I fit nowhere
If I have no home or beloved
If I have no posterity
If I have no purpose or calling

If I fit nowhere
If like a missing puzzle piece
I lie lost and trampled on the floor
If I’m shuffled under shadow
forgotten and discarded
If I am wedged into painful places
or tossed useless in the box

If all my life seems forfeit
If I am irrelevant to a box-lid world
That sees beauty only by definition
This one thing will I recall
This one truth hold dear
Then this will secure the joy of all my life

That HE has claimed me.
That HE has done it.
And it is marvelous in my eyes.
Ps. 118:23

 

Stripped of Chaos

“The devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements: noise, hurry, crowds…Satan is quite aware of the power of silence.” Jim Elliott

“We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private.” C.S. Lewis

Have you ever said: “I was home alone all evening, on a Friday night. What a loser.”

Have you ever done: Flipped on the TV, the radio, a CD or all of them at once – just for “background noise?”

Have you ever thought: The more the merrier?

Have you ever found: Yourself in such a hurry that you don’t remember the last time you read a good book?

I venture to say that most of us have done all of the above at one time or another. There’s an odd dichotomy in our culture right now, an expressed longing for quiet, juxtaposed with fervent applause for the busiest, most productive among us. We see sentimental quotes everywhere, on bookmarks, refrigerators, office walls, that tell us to stop and smell the roses. Mattress commercials remind us that none among us get enough sleep. Doctors decry the effect of stress on our hearts.

Simultaneously, the first question we ask any bloke on the street is, “What do you do?” essentially, equating an individual’s value and their relationship to us primarily on their occupation.

And noise? Even sitting here, I can hear my husband’s television show from the other room. A few hours ago, as I made breakfast, I listened to a sermon on my iPhone. As soon as I headed upstairs to shower, I turned on the Christian radio in my bedroom. God-forbid I entertain silence for a moment!

Have you ever felt: Like God has deserted you? As if you’re all alone and your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling? Like you’re fighting a losing battle? What if you quit fighting? What if you stopped praying and listened? 

Exodus 14:13 “And Moses said unto the people, ‘Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.'”

If God doesn’t build the house,
the builders only build shacks.
If God doesn’t guard the city,
the night watchman might as well nap.
It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,
and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don’t you know he enjoys
giving rest to those he loves? Psalm 127

Obvious

For an obvious reason
My heart is weighty with your praise.
Obvious as the icy rain that
hangs frozen in mid-air.
Obvious as the durable, quiet man upstairs
(between my sheets.)
Obvious as the smallish mongrel who insists
to share my seat.
Obvious as that blest morning aroma,
Perfume of homes worldwide.
My own tamed with milk,
thin brim of foam.
Obvious as its porcelain cup,
“I love you,” on its side.
Obvious as the three faint lamps
Lending softness as they provide
My eyes with visions of your word
And highlight pen to page.
So here I scrawl my meager words,
Slight as they may be.
To altar the obvious praises
Of my perfect, worthy King.

My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe. Ps. 145:1b

Post Election – Lord, If You Had Been Here!

Briefest of thoughts this morning, post election. I’ve been spending time each morning meditating on the smallest portions of the Gospels. Today was John 11:32-35. What caught me was both sisters’ exclamation, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

What am I asking this morning? you? “Lord, if you had been here, someone else would have been elected.”

“Lord, if you cared or you hadn’t abandoned our sinful country, someone else would be in charge.”

When the girls said it, I found it confrontational and perhaps ignorant of the fact that Jesus intentionally waited 2 days before heeding their call to come because Lazarus was sick. They must have known how long it would take him to get there, and as the days passed assumed he was ignoring them, or that he didn’t care.

But in the following verses Jesus shows his absolute passion and affection for this family. And, as he delayed, he told his disciples that it was so that, “God’s son may be glorified through it.”

This morning, my heart was heavy and I felt it cry, “Lord, if you were here! Lord, if we hadn’t abandoned your principles! Lord, if you hadn’t taken your hand away from our country – this wouldn’t have happened!”

And I heard him clearly say:

I will wait awhile, that this might be for my greatest fame and glory. In the meantime, your calling to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself,” has not changed. Get up today and live as my hands and feet – as you did the day before. I am coming. I am the resurrection and the life. And you will see my greatest glory.

Ps. 27:13-14

“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

 

 

Do As I Say, AND As I Do

I’m not very good at resting. In fact, if I were training myself, I would be on my own nerves. How many times I have advised someone, “Take a day off. It’s OK. It’s not helpful to over-stress your body.” I usually feel my conscience tapping me on shoulder saying, “Are you listening to yourself?”

I got a good, pointed reminder of this as I studied the materials for my NESTA personal trainer certification. God made our bodies capable of hard work, and it is good. We imitate our Father in heaven when we work, like He did when He created us. But, as modern, 21st century humans, we conveniently forget that God rested too. God then instituted the Sabbath, commanding us to rest as well.

In the physical realm, it’s the resting that “does a body good.” In the hours after physical exertion, our muscles repair, strengthen and grow; our bones strengthen, too. In the spiritual realm, after we work – serving God and others – rest, quiet mediation on His word is when we regain our strength, grow in the knowledge and admonition of the Lord. It is when we are still that we can know God better, which in turn makes us better able to obey Him in our work for Him. (Ps. 46:10)

God didn’t need to rest. I am certain that He wasn’t fatigued after the strenuous work of commanding the world to exist. But He did rest. I believe God rested in order to show us what was best for us. Proverbially, we preach to our children, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Thank the Lord that He chose to set an example for His hard-headed creation.