Posted on 05/11/2018 - Last year the film “Wonder Woman” was released. But the Bible talks about a real wonder woman: the woman of Proverbs 31.
The woman described in this passage is the longest description of any family member in the Bible. That should tell us a lot about what God thinks of mothers and how important they are.
The chapter is an acrostic, which means that each verse begins with the succeeding letter of the Hebrew alphabet. What we’re given is an A-to-Z description of what a wonder woman – a woman of virtue – is like.
Verse 1 introduces this proverb as “the sayings of King Lemuel – an inspired utterance his mother taught him” (NIV). We don’t know a lot about this king, but we do know that he had a mother who gave him some great wisdom, which he wrote down.
According to verse 10, a real wonder woman is priceless and quite rare: “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies” (NIV). We live in a time in which worth, especially for a woman, is determined by outward appearance. The more beautiful she is, the more valuable she is in the estimation of modern culture. The less beautiful or older she is, the less valuable she is. But that is the exact opposite of the way God sees things. In fact, pretty girls are a dime a dozen, but a woman of virtue, honor and character is priceless.
In Proverbs 31, we have a description of a woman of character and integrity. I can say, without any doubt, that my wife, Cathe, fits this description of the woman of virtue. A word to single guys: This is the kind of woman you need to be looking for. Start with Proverbs 31 and look for a woman who fits this category … or is at least is seeking to live this way. This is your standard, because the most important decisions of your life are: 1) the Lord you serve; and 2) the woman you marry. The first decision will determine whether you have heaven or hell in the afterlife. And the second decision will determine which one you’ll have in this life.
And a word to single women: This is the woman you want to be. Forget the magazines, their articles and their emphasis. They are so out of sync with what the Word of God says. Forget what you see on television and in commercials and instead look at what the Bible says about the real wonder woman, because this is God’s plan – and it’s better than any other plan. This is the perfect balance of beauty, brains, and spirituality. The woman who lives this way will be a happy woman because she’s a godly woman.
The wonder woman of Proverbs 31 is also trustworthy: “Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value” (verse 11 NIV). Trust is so important in a marriage. So is communication. You need to be honest with your mate. You need to tell the truth to your mate. If you have a trustworthy wife, then you have a wife of such great value.
Also, the wonder woman loves her husband: “She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life” (verse 12 NIV). She is his greatest cheerleader. She encourages him. She doesn’t tear him down in public. She doesn’t tell an embarrassing story about him in front of their friends. (And to the point, a husband should not do that to his wife, either.) Build up your spouse in public. If you have something critical to say, then say it privately.
The wonder woman of Proverbs 31 also loves her family. We see from this proverb that she finds wool and flax and busily spins it. She is like a merchant ship, bringing her food from afar. She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plans the day with her servants. Wool would speak of clothing for the winter, and flax would refer to clothing for the summer. In this day, they wouldn’t buy clothes; they made them.
I think the emphasis here is not that a woman has to start making all the clothes for her family (though some do that very well). Rather, verse 13 says that “she works with eager hands” (NIV). It speaks of a delightful willingness. She enjoys this calling God has given to her. She is also a shrewd investor. She goes to inspect a field and buys it with her earnings. This woman is an entrepreneur, a businesswoman.
Another thing we see about the wonder woman of Proverbs 31 is that she’s wise: “She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue” (verse 26 NIV). The words of a mother are so powerful, and they will stay with her child throughout his or her life. My wife taught our sons the Word of God and helped them with everything from manners to being tidy and so forth. If we were to look back over our lives, we would realize there are a lot of things our mothers taught us.
For example, our mothers taught us about anticipation when they said, “Just wait until your father gets home.” Our mothers also taught us about genetics when they said, “You’re just like your father.” They taught us about justice when they said, “One day you’re going to have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you. Then you’ll see what it’s like.”
There’s something about the bond of a child with his or her mother that is so special. When little children fall down, who do they call out for? Mom. Now if mom is not around, then dad is distant second. But they really want mom. When a football player scores a touchdown, he turns to the camera and says, “Love you, Mom!” And stories have been told of young men who, as they lay dying on the battlefield, they were calling out to their mothers.
We thank God for mothers, and we bless them. Let your mother know today that she is appreciated. Yes, a gift is fine. A card is good, especially if you write something in it. But she needs to know that you love her and notice all the things she has done. The best thing you could say to your mother or your wife who’s a mom, “You’re doing a great job.” If you thought of giving her some flowers on top of that, it’s even better. Verbally say to her, “I love you. I appreciate you. Thank you for all that you do.” It’s an important thing to do for the wonder woman in your life.
Posted On 12/22/2017 - Awhile back my grandson, Christopher, found some ants in the family room. “Papa, come look at the ants!” he called. We got down on our hands and knees and looked at them. He said, “The ants are going to get me, Papa!”
“No, they aren’t,” I told him. “I’m going to get the ants.” I took a little paper towel, wiped them up and flushed them down the toilet.
Would you be willing to become an ant to reach the ants? I don’t think so. Yet God was willing to become a man to reach us. Jesus didn’t have a rags-to-riches story. Rather, he had a riches-to-rags story. He went from being a sovereign to being a servant. He went from the glory of heaven to a stable for animals. He went from a throne to a manger, and then to a cross. He gave up his place in heaven so we could have a place in heaven.
Jesus came at the appointed time, the perfect time. The Bible says, “But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law” (Galatians 4:4 NLT).
When Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, she was ready to give birth at any moment. Every place was full, and when they came to an inn, they were turned away. Can you imagine? Talk about opportunity knocking. Here was a woman who carried in her womb God in human form, yet she and Joseph were turned away.
The Bible never identifies an innkeeper; we simply read there was no room for them in the inn. We assume there was an innkeeper. It would seem to me that this person was simply preoccupied. He had other things to do and was just too busy to make time in his schedule.
That is like so many of us today, especially at Christmastime. You could write three words on American tombstones: Hurried. Worried. Buried. We are the only nation on Earth with a mountain called Rushmore. We’re always rushing about. We’re bombarded with information on our smartphones, tablets and other devices that beep messages to us constantly. We wonder why we never hear from God. Sometimes it’s a good idea to unplug from all of it and turn it off.
I think in all of the busyness and clutter of this time of year, we might be overwhelmed. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30 NIV).
These are the words of Jesus to any person who is stressed out, any person who is under pressure, any person who is carrying a burden of any kind. Another version puts it this way: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest” (MSG).
To burned-out people Jesus says, “Come and find rest.” To stressed-out people Jesus says, “Come and find rest.” To people carrying the weight of their own sin, Jesus says, “Unload those burdens and come and find rest.” He offers that to all of us.
People say one of the problems with Christmas is that it’s commercialized. I get that. That is one of the problems, but I also think we have made Christmas too beautiful. What happened was beautiful, of course, but we have romanticized Christmas with our images of sleighs and snow and hot cocoa in front of the fire. We have romanticized images of Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the animals in the stable and the wise men in coordinating colors, presenting their gifts.
Actually, the real story was raw. The real story was quite sad in some ways. Jesus was not born in a manger; he was born in a barn or a cave. It was cold and damp. He was not wrapped in clean sheets; he was wrapped in cheap rags. The stall where He was born would have smelled of straw and, quite honestly, feces. God incarnate was born on the dirt floor of a filthy cave.
For me that doesn’t diminish the story. It enhances it to understand the great sacrifice God made to come to us. Commentator R. Kent Hughes wrote, “It was clearly a leap down – as if the Son of God rose from His splendor, stood poised on the rim of the universe irradiating light, and dove headlong, speeding through the stars over the Milky Way to earth’s galaxy … where He plunged into a huddle of animals. Nothing could be lower.”
God became a little baby. He who sustains the world with a word chose to be dependent on a young girl. As G.K. Chesterton wrote, “The hands that had made the sun and stars were too small to reach the huge heads of the cattle.”
God often comes to us in unexpected ways. He came to Moses in a burning bush. He came to the wise men through a radiant star. And he came to this Earth as a baby.
The Bible tells us, “Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9 NKJV).
God has come into our world. He sent a baby to save the world.
The innkeeper missed the greatest opportunity of all. Standing before him were Mary and Joseph. He should have welcomed them in. He would have had the privilege of having the Son of God born in his inn. Instead he dispatched them to a place where animals were kept.
Today God is knocking on the door of our lives. Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20 NKJV). He won’t force his way into our lives. We have to open the door and invite him in.
THE MISSIONARY CALL was expressed by Paul in Acts 16:9: “A vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.”
Paul discovered that a missionary call is a divine urge, a compelling impulse that a person cannot resist. The calling creates a divine urge to respond. It is like a hunter’s dog on a leash, straining to get away. Missionary Pastor Oswald J. Smith calls it “an irresistible must.”
How should a person respond to the inner urgings of a calling from God?
William D. Alton returned to his home in Riviera Beach, Florida, after completing a tour of military service in the South Pacific. His wife, Lorraine, was attending the Church of God, and he went with her to church. God saved him.
A few weeks later, the church experienced an unusual move of the Holy Spirit. Multiple messages in tongues and interpretations were given. A woman took a Bible off the pulpit and marched down the aisle, placing it in Bill’s hand. She said, “God is calling you to the children of Africa.” Bill ran to the alter crying. He prayed until early in the morning, and finally surrendered to God’s call.
In 1982, my tenure as youth and Christian education director of Florida ended. Church leaders contacted me about continuing youth work in another state, serving as a state overseer, or accepting a pastorate. I went to the campground at Wimauma for days of prayer and fasting.
As I sought God for direction, God led me to Joshua 3:13: “It shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.”
The Lord said to me, When your feet are wet with the first step of obedience, I will open the door before you and give you the courage to walk through. I said, “Lord, what is the first step of obedience?”
The Lord said, All of the things you have been asked to do, say no. I contacted the church leaders to remove my name from consideration and waited on the Lord.
Two weeks later, God spoke again and called me to give my life to missions, sharing the gospel with people around the world. Although I had spent 17 years in ministry in the U.S. as pastor, college teacher, and state youth director, God had a new work in mind. For the 32 years since, I have been involved in completing the Great Commission.
Like Paul, my calling started with listening to what God was saying to my spirit.
In 1938, Edmond and Pearl Stark obeyed God’s call and became the first Church of God missionaries to Africa. In Angola, they introduced Bembua to Christ. He quizzed Stark, asking him when he would leave them and return to his home. Stark said, “Your country will be my country until I go to God’s country. His country is my real country.”
Bembua accepted Christ, but his tribe rejected the message. Filled with rage, they drove Bembua, his wife and children away from the village and burned their home.
Three weeks later, Edmond Stark died of malaria, but his obedience to fulfill the mission call opened the door to Africa.
Two years later, Bembua died of malaria also. The heathen gathered around his deathbed as he told them, “Jesus is calling me; I am going home to God’s country.” His tribe had never seen a man die unafraid. They eagerly received the gospel so they could join him in God’s country filled with peace.
Obedience to the call allowed an unreached tribe to receive and experience the message of Christ.
Frances Bailey Evans was a 20-year-old widow with a young son. The uneducated woman had a bleak future, but she had a great love for Christ. The California native moved to Salem, Oregon, where they were hiring trainees to become keypunch operators.
In the church Frances was attending, it was customary to pray at the altar before the Sunday night service. One night as she was at the altar praying, the Holy Spirit spoke to her about carrying the gospel to other countries. Another woman in the church said she saw angels surrounding Frances.
Frances responded to God by questioning how she as a single woman with a small child could go to the mission field. The Lord asked if she loved Him. She responded that God knew of her love, but she did not know how she could leave her family.
Finally, in obedience to the voice of the Lord, she said, “Lord, I give my life entirely to You as You wish. I am willing to go even if it means my death.”
Frances graduated from Lee College, and then she and her son, Jim, traveled to Honduras by car. For over 50 years, she pioneered ministry on the islands off the coast of Honduras. She planted more than 20 churches, being pastor of three at one time. She taught school, started a medical ministry, and introduced Christ to many before moving back to California in retirement in 2008.
Phyllys Wozniak, veteran missionary to Latin America, experienced God’s call during a mission trip. God put in her heart a love for all things Hispanic—the language, the food, the music, the worship, the people. Phyllys believes God calls every believer to obedience wherever He leads us and whatever He gives us to do. The call is ongoing, and we must obey.
Vance Massengill, a native of Alabama, attempted suicide twice. He had a history of drug and alcohol addiction. On March 20, 1992, he told his parents he was going to end his troubled life. His parents prayed all night. His mother told God, “I give him to You; just save him.” God heard her prayer and saved Vance.
"If you will listen, you will hear the cry of the unreached of the world calling for a messenger to come."
As Vance read through the Old Testament, he was captured by the words of Isaiah 6. The Holy Spirit filled his room. As he read verse 8, it was as if God spoke directly to him. Although Vance had never been exposed to missions, he knew God was calling him. That day he spoke the same words as Isaiah: “Here am I; send me.”
He and his wife, Keri, have served in China, Greece, Croatia, and currently live in the United Arab Emirates. They are following Christ’s example to make and train disciples.
Don and Chryssie McBrayer had six children, and Don was in middle management at a Central Bank in Alabama. At the urging of a relative, they attended a Life Counseling Retreat in Panama City, Florida. While there, they felt called to commit their lives to mission service.
After returning home, they received in the mail a magazine from Wycliffe Bible Translators. They knew nothing about the organization, but they shared with the leaders their calling and skills. They committed themselves to linguistic training and were sent to Kenya. Later, they transferred to Church of God World Missions and presently serve in Ecuador. They continue to translate the Word of God into a language people can understand.
Margaret Gaines endured war, deprivations, and loneliness during over 50 years of missionary service in the Middle East. At age 15, she heard a message by a veteran missionary to Tunisia, Miss Josephine Planter. Planter emphasized that she was 79 and needed someone to relieve or replace her. She appealed for volunteers to answer God’s call to the Arabs.
Gaines pleaded with God to send missionaries to the Arabs. She felt God urging her, You have no right to ask that others be sent unless you give Me the chance to turn you down.
“Oh, God,” Gaines volunteered, “if I’m fit material for the mission field, do please send me.”
In 1952, at the age of 20, she went to Tunisia to join Planter in ministry to the Arabs. Twelve years later, she went to Israel, where she labored in establishing a school, a daycare center, and a church among Arabs. Her life of enduring faithfulness to the call of God has influenced thousands in the Arab world and in the U.S.
When God calls, His servants must obey, for it is no sacrifice to do the will of God. Jim Elliot, missionary martyr in Ecuador, said: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
If you will listen, you will hear the cry of the unreached of the world calling for a messenger to come. Listen, obey, follow, and endure.
Douglas LeRoy is a minister, missionary, educator, and writer who has served the Church of God in many capacities, including director of World Missions.
I recently had yet another exchange with an abortion supporter who argued abortion is justified from the perspective of a woman’s “bodily rights.” I have written pro-life responses to this argument before, such as here and here. It occurred to me that when the bodily rights argument is raised it is often perceived as more challenging, but at the end of the day our simple proposal ought to be this: Let’s focus on a parent's responsibility to her child. It is easy to lose sight about what we are actually talking about when bodily rights is raised, and that is this: relationship. And not just any relationship—the relationship of a strong party to a vulnerable party. And not just any strong party and any vulnerable party. We are talking about a mom and a child. I therefore need to call out the bodily rights argument for the horror that it is: a profoundly brutal attack on the nature of the parent-child relationship.
What element of the Rwandan genocide was more horrifying than other human rights violations? It was that colleagues, neighbors, friends, and even family were turning over and killing people that they knew. It was not just a matter of strangers killing strangers (as horrific as even that is). Consider the story of Monica: She is a Rwandan woman whose own father and brothers brutally executed her Tutsi husband and children in front of her eyes.
Her father and brothers did more than attack her spouse and offspring. They attacked their bond with her. They attacked their relationship.
Or consider the story of Penny Boudreau who killed her 12-year-old daughter Carissa. The young victim's last words as she appealed to the woman who birthed her were these: “Mommy, don't.”
There is something horrifying about her second-last word in the context it was said: “Mommy.” That little girl made an appeal without realizing it; her use of the term “Mommy” was a call to the nature of who Penny was: a mom. “Mommy, don't” was more than “Don’t kill me.” It was a cry from the very depths of her being: “Mommy! Do what mommies do!”
Why do we need a mommy? What are mommies for? What do mommies constantly assure their children who wake up from nightmares? “Mommy is here. Mommy will protect you. You're safe with me.” Certainly, it is nice if a stranger helps a scared child, but we sure know that of all people who should help such a sad soul it is this: a mom.
And so, I would suggest that abortion, and the corresponding bodily rights argument to justify it, is entirely sinister because it is about a mom killing her child. Not just any child. Her child. Not just any woman. A mother.
I feel pain writing that. I feel it for two reasons. The first is because it is so sad. The second is because so many moms have unfortunately already made this permanent, deadly choice. I have several friends who have had abortions, and met countless other women who have done the same. And sadly, I cannot bring their babies back.
What I can do is point the wounded in the direction of hope, which, as an anonymous quote I once read said, “is like a bird that senses the dawn and carefully starts to sing, even while it is still dark.” What I can do is tell about my friends like Anita, Angelina, Debbie, and Elizabeth, who have found forgiveness and healing from their abortions, and who have redeemed their pasts by warning others to learn from their mistakes rather than make new ones. What I can do is show that even in the most unthinkable of situations, reconciliation is possible, which is what Monica from Rwanda, mentioned above, managed to achieve with her brothers.
We cannot undo the mistakes we've made in our past, but we can inspire people to act different from us in the present. We can also inspire people to follow the example of those who have done the right thing. That’s why I believe it’s worth focusing on another mother, a single mother I met on a college campus several years ago. Veronika told me,
“The picture I have enclosed of Amelia and I does not fully show my face but it's an important picture to me. Amelia became very ill with respiratory problems around seven months which meant a lot of nights of dealing with fevers, congestion, pain control and a sad little baby who kept waking up due to having trouble breathing in her sleep. I took this picture one night when I decided to let her sleep on my chest instead of in the crib and she slept throughout the night. I did that every night until she was better. To me, it represents what we do as mothers, that we stop looking at ourselves as individuals with needs and we begin to look at how we can serve another and therefore love another, and with that comes learning to love ourselves.”
When I mentioned that in being faced with a “bodily rights” argument we ought to make a proposal about a parent’s responsibility to her child, I think there's a better way of saying that:
Our proposal, ultimately, is love.
Posted By Greg Laurie On 11/17/2017 When wickedness is rampant, we wonder why God doesn’t stop it. We look around at our world today and wonder, “Why would God allow those terrorists to do what they did?” or “Why would God allow that injustice?” or “Why does God permit these things to happen?”
God is fully aware of what is happening. First he reveals his grace before he brings his judgment. The Old Testament book of Genesis begins with the story of the Garden of Eden, where everything was perfect. Adam and Eve lived in a beautiful garden with the incredible things God had made. Best of all, the Lord himself would show up as the sun was setting, and Adam would take a walk with God every day.
You probably know the story. The serpent entered the scene and deceived Eve. Adam disobeyed. Thus, sin entered the world. Then things went downhill rapidly. By the time we get to Genesis 6, God is saying that he’s sorry he made man (see verse 6). God was grieved in his heart. If someone dies whom you love deeply, you grieve deeply. God was grieving over Adam and Eve’s sin. He took no pleasure in it.
Then why does God send judgment? Because God is just. Abraham rightly said, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25 NKJV). If people can flagrantly and continually break the laws of God and pervert everything God has made, everything that is right and good, then is it appropriate for the Lord to turn a blind eye? If God is just, then isn’t it appropriate for him to take action?
Some might say that is not very loving. But let’s just say you had a sweet little toddler who was playing in your backyard, and you saw a wolf suddenly jump the fence and move rapidly toward your child. What are you going to do?
Are you going to talk with the wolf? Are you going to try and hug the wolf? Those things won’t work. You probably would shoot him or hit him with something. Why? Because you love your child.
God loves His creation. God loves mankind. And the Bible says that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked (see Ezekiel 33:11). But God also said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever” (Genesis 6:3 NKJV).
I wonder if the Lord has reached that point right now. He knows about every act of wickedness and perversion. He knows things that you and I don’t even know. In this day of instant information and social media, we practically see and hear everything in real time. I think that is one of the reasons we’re so stressed out. We don’t wait until tomorrow to pick up the morning newspaper; we get the news on our Twitter feed. That is the world we’re living in today.
In the days of Noah, God said, in effect, “That’s it! I’m going to bring judgment.” But against this very dark spiritual background lived a man who walked with God. Noah was that man. Sometimes when jewelers want to display a beautiful piece of jewelry, they will place it on a dark background. In the same way, sometimes we can better appreciate someone who lives a pure life when they are put against the backdrop of a very impure world.
Noah, a rare jewel indeed, shined against the very dark spiritual backdrop of his day. The Bible tells us that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8 NKJV). Did God have grace on Noah because he lived a righteous life? No. It is actually the opposite. The word grace means “God’s unmerited favor.” God extended grace toward Noah, and Noah responded to that grace.
That is how we all come to know God. You see, justice is getting what we deserve. Mercy is not getting what we deserve. And grace is getting what we don’t deserve. Don’t ever say to God, “I want justice in my life.” You don’t want justice; you want mercy and grace.
God extended grace toward Noah. “For by grace you have been saved through faith,” Ephesians says, “and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (2:8–9 NIV).
God did not love Noah because he lived a godly life. Noah lived a godly life because he understood how much God loved him. There is a difference. The Bible says, “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19 NKJV).
God loves you. Just embrace that and be thankful for it – even when times are hard. The apostle Paul said, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV).
In the book of Daniel we find a story about a law being passed that prohibited prayer. Can you imagine such a law today? What would you do? We know what Daniel did. We’re told in Daniel 6, “But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God” (verse 10 NLT).
If the Bible said, “He opened his windows and prayed, ‘God why did you let this happen?'” I would have understood that. But Daniel gave thanks to God because he was in the habit of doing so. That is a good habit to be in.
We cannot only give thanks when things seem to be good. We must give thanks because the Lord is good and because he is working all things together for good.
We’ve heard the expression, “It’s all good.” And in a broad sense, it actually is. I don’t mean that every little thing that is happens is good, because bad things happen. Inexplicable things happen. Hardships and tragedies happen. I am not saying those are good things. But I am saying that it’s all good in the sense that God is good. And God ultimately will work things together for his good and for his glory – and for our good as well.