Saturday, February 24, 2018

JANUARY 24, 2018


"The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish tears it down with her own hands."

"'Buildeth' i.e. adorns, establishes, and makes happy her household."

These words should not be controversial.  I mean, who wouldn't want to be a wise, constructive woman.  Admittedly as I perused twenty or so commentaries, at times some could be viewed as old fashioned in their perspective of a woman's job in the home.  Yet, contrary to societies in all of history, biblical women are built up in their importance.  This is far from those today who march wearing hats depicting a private body part and hold signs with foul language with speakers who spew violent and vile words demanding their respect?!?  Note this verse is not speaking of a wise man building his house. 

Some of the descriptions in the commentaries read like lovely poetry...

"A good wife is heaven's last best gift to a man; his angel of mercy; his minister of graces innumerable; his gem of many virtues; his casket of jewels; her voice, his sweetest music; her smiles, his brightest day; her kiss, the guardian of his innocence; her arms...his safety; the balsam of his health, the balm of his life; her industry, his surest wealth; her economy, his safest steward; her lips, his faithful counsellors; her bosom, the softest pillow of his cares; and her prayers, the ablest advocates of heaven's blessings on his head." Jeremy Taylor 

The following is a translation of a Welsh Triad:--A good wife is modest, void of deceit, and obedient; pure of conscience, gracious of tongue, and true to her husband; her heart not proud, her manners affable, and her bosom full of compassion for the poor, laboring to be tidy, skillful of hand, and fond of praying to God; her conversation amiable, her dress decent, and her house orderly, quick of hand, quick of eye, and quick of understanding; her face benignant, her head intelligent and provident, neighbourly, gentle, and of a liberal way of thinking; able in directing, providing what is wanting, and a good mother to her children; loving her husband, loving peace, and God."

Dr. Jason Hamilton said, "The angel of the house moulds a family for heaven, and by...holy example, and gentle control."

"Albert Barne's Notes: "Every wise woman--literally, Wise women, 'The fullest recognition that has as yet met us of the importance of woman, for good or evil, in all human society." Plumptre

Burckhardt's, "a good woman has patience (with her husband), and thereby she builds up her house...In truth, the oneness of the house is more dependent on the mother than on the father."

"This conditional relation of the wife to the house expresses itself in her being named as housewife=honour of a house used by which the Talmudic answers; the wife is noted for this and hence is called the root and foundation of the house." (For years, and to this day, I am made to cringe by admitting I am merely a housewife, as if I add nothing to my home by being such a dinosaur.)

Matthew Henry: "The family has comfort within doors and credit without, thus the house is built."

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary: "The wise woman is a social architect.  She 'builds' her house..Building implies a plan.

By the way, a single woman can build her house upon the rock.

Foolish woman: she is not only no centre of unity, she is a source of discord; she not only cannot build the house herself but she makes it impossible for anybody else to do anything towards it.  She is not only no 'crown to her husband,' but she is 'rottenness to his bones.'"

St. Ambrose noteth that when God asked Abraham, 'Where is your wife, Sarah?' --He was not ignorant where Sarah was; but that He asked the question that by Abraham's answer.  'Behold, in the tent,' He might teach women where they ought to be--namely,  in the house, and not so much in the house as in the affairs of the house, making ready to entertain God as Sarah." (I love this!  making ready to entertain God!)

John Gill: uses words such as discretion, decorum, "bringing up her children in virtue, and in fear and admonition of the Lord.  So Christ, who is in this book goes by the name of 'Wisdom,' as the wise woman, builds His house upon Himself, the Rock."  (Remember the parable of the wise man who built his house upon the rock while the foolish, on the sand.)

One gives an example that is humorous and sad at the same time.  "Cowper, bishop of Lincoln... whose wife burnt all his notes that he had been eight years in gathering, lest he should kill himself with too much study (for she had much ado to get him to his meals.) so that he was forced to fall to work again, and was eight years in gathering the same notes wherewith he composed his dictionary, and that useful book...How much happier in a wife was that learned Gul. Budaeus, 'My wife seeing me bookish, is no less diligent about my books, than about my barns, whom she breed up with singular care and tenderness."

Coffman says, "This writer remembers a young banker, many years ago, whose wife, in public gatherings, such as receptions, habitually made derogatory remarks about her husband, apparently unaware that she was wrecking his career and her own as well."

Sadly, I too have seen in all of our decades of ministry women who tore down their own houses by derogatory speech as well as by adultery hurting not only their families but the house of God.  It was often needed in ladies Bible study groups to remind the women not to demean their husbands, otherwise it could turn into a husband-bashing fest.  There were other avenues to deal with problems than in that group setting where perhaps humor turned into bitter and even vicious comments.  Women also needed to remember that their man they are tearing down is eagerly desired by other women who would be full of appreciation if they could get their hands on him.

I admit that I am spoiled by a very good man.  Often it was iron sharpening iron with a few sparks here or there, but my opinion mattered.  I come from a heritage of women who were appreciated and built up their homes.  Not all are so blessed.  So a word to the single woman: choose wisely someone you can respect and honor, and be a godly woman who deserves respect and honor.  Grow together, not apart.

Friday, February 23, 2018

JANUARY 23, 2018

"He who withholds his rod (correction or discipline) hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him diligently."
Proverbs 13:24

We had an adorable nephew with red hair with beautiful brown eyes.  And I've related this sad story before, but this verse still gives me chills thinking about how it was abused in his home.  We once had a brother-in-law who proudly took and twisted this verse to abuse this preschool step-son by keeping him up all night to beat him while quoting this verse.  When his grandmother and other relatives found the bruises, they took this "Christian" man to court, and the boy was removed from his home to go live with his biological father.  Some had asked us to take him while we were in seminary.  We said yes, but his biological father had the primary custody.  

We must find the balance, the perspective, apart from that of cruelty of a twisted mind.

Adam Clarke says, "...if he hated him, he could not do him a greater disservice than not to correct him, when his obstinacy or disobedience requires it.  The Rev. Mr. Holden makes some sensible observations on this passage, 'By the neglect of early correction, the desires (passions) obtain ascendancy; the temper becomes irascible, peevish, querulous.  Pride is nourished; humility destroyed; and by the habit of indulgence the mind is incapacitated to bear with firmness and equanimity the cares and sorrows, the checks and disappointments, which flesh is heir to."

Yep, this is what happened when we sent them to their rooms.
But I loved what my cousin did with her kids when sending them to their rooms:
"You can come out when you have a smile on your face and a song in your heart."

"My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
For those whom the Lord loves He discipline,
And He scourges every son whom He receives."
Hebrews 12:5-6
Umm, this is written to adults.

As most know, we fost-adopted adorable little boys when they were four years old and seventeen months.  They had suffered from the trifecta of substance abuse from the womb, to violence, and to neglect.  Once their mother left the youngest as a newborn and then three year old in a hotel with a ten year old sister saying she was going to go get milk for the baby.  Instead, she left them hungry and crying for over twenty-four hours.  Yes, that kind of neglect.  This actually changes brain development.  So we are well acquainted with the county mental health providers. 

Not fun to live with & we thank God for meds!
ODD is real, and the child is not merely defiant.

Medicine has immensely helped our boys to maintain better mental health.  However, these meds can cause side-effects that can't be ignored.  At one time, it was an uncontrolled tick causing him  to wink.  Another was tremors.  Another was jerky movements when relaxing his arm, etc.  So when our son kept constantly complaining of this and that, we thought he was becoming a hypochondriac.  I mean, who ever heard of a child needing to be picked up from school because his tongue stuck out?  Well, after the repeated "whining," I went on line and found that everyone of his current symptoms were possible side effects of his meds, even the tongue thrusting.  Talk about eating humble pie, but it was a relief to our son to finally be believed.   So now we are jumping through the hoops to be seen by his psychiatrist again before the symptoms become permanent.  And no, we did not beat him.  We just had not believed him.  Parents must be diligent walking the line of neglect by ignoring their child or over-reacting with inappropriate discipline.

P.S.  As to the current discussion of the FL school shooter, yes, he has mental illness that was not properly dealt with.  It seems the schools, home, and FBI seemed to ignore the possible consequences, but there is still personal responsibility.  Evil is real and has horrible results when it is unrestrained.

I've told the story before, that my children had sleep problems.  One daughter was six years old before she slept through the night.  Yes, I was one who lived in the valley of the shadow of sleep.  So one night when she was put to bed, after a bedtime snack, after getting a drink, after a story and the cassette of music playing, after prayer, after a nightlight was plugged in, after I went back down the stairs exhausted, I heard her call, "Mommy, can I have an apple?"   I marched up those stairs and gave her a swat.  Tearfully she said, "I just wanted an Asprin."  I had misunderstood what she asked for.  It was a huge slice of humble pie of bad mommy.  I tried not to faint when I was reproved by the Lord.  

But then I had one of these who cringed when I so much as whispered, "No, no."
(I'll let you guess which one it was.) It was an amazing anomaly!

Maybe that's what parents should remember, that we are not beyond the Lord's discipline, that we do not grow out of it as His children.  

Thursday, February 22, 2018

FEBRUARY 22, 2018

PROVERBS 13:1-6, 9, 13-17, 20

A good and faithful servant has gone home to glory having lived 99 years here on earth.  He said recently, "Someday you will read or her that Billy Graham is dead.  Don't believe a word of it.  I shall be more alive than I am now.  I will just have changed my address.  I will have gone into the presence of God."

    These verses in Proverbs have led me to reflect on his life.

"A wise son accepts his father's discipline...
From the fruit of a man's mouth he enjoys good...
The one who guards his mouth preserves his life...
A righteous man hates falsehood...
Righteousness guards the one whose way is blameless...
The light of the righteous rejoices...
The one who fears the commandment will be rewarded...
The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life...
Good understand produces favor...
Every prudent man acts with knowledge...
A faithful envoy brings healing...
He who walks with wise men will be wise..."

My husband and I have been blessed by the Billy Graham Association by receiving a scholarship twice to their Billy Graham School of Evangelism, once in Vancouver, British Columbia, and once in Lake Louise, Canada, both highlights in our lives.  They brought in top speakers and music such as George Beverly Shay for the pastors and spouses in attendance.  Someone gifted their money to the Association and just the interest on that donation paid for these events and scholarships so that none of the other donations to the Billy Graham Association were used. 

While Billy Graham was busy holding crusades and speaking engagements, his wife was a single parent at home raising their children.  He estimated that he was away from home 60% of the time.  Ruth kept her Bible open on the kitchen counter so that she could glance at verses as she was busy with everyday life. 

One of my favorite books was one of her prose and poetry called, "The Prodigal."  It is about their son who left the faith in rebellion breaking their hearts.  That was Franklin Graham who became the prodigal who returned back to his Father and his father and who now carries on his father's legacy.  Thus, applying verse one, "A wise son accepts his father's discipline" comes to mind.  The results of the influence of a Christian home and tearful prayers were not wasted.  Franklin Graham became that wise son.

Billy Graham had a bountiful harvest as the fruit of his mouth blessed the world with good.  He preached to millions, more than any man who has ever lived.  In order to be a man of integrity, reputing any attack on his ethics, he had to put guards around his mouth and guards around his way in order to be blameless.  He instructed his staff to not even go into an elevator by themselves with a woman understanding that travel away from family and staying in hotels could lead to impropriety. 

In spite of all the offerings taken, he kept his salary at a fixed minimal amount in order to stay above reproach, not enormously profiting from his ministry as many mega-pastors are known to do: back twenty years ago, it was at $40,000.  His family remained in their beautiful, but humble cabin they inherited, tucked away on a mountain top in South Carolina where he was raised, where they raised all their children, where he and his wife retired during their last years.

Billy Graham was a light in this dark world.  Though his background was of a different theology than ours, he was known to have said that churches which proclaimed holiness were the hope of this world.  But when a person is on fire for God, there is no difference in theology.  He was on fire his whole life.

The hallmark of his preaching was simplicity in the proclamation of the gospel of salvation.  He was not caught up in the foolishness of those who challenged the inerrancy of the word of God.   He was one who feared the commandments and thus was rewarded with a great harvest of souls,

from the poor masses around the world

to respected leaders

to popular musicians

to popular entertainers, one being
Steve McQueen whom he led to Christ
in the last years of his life.

His wise teachings were  a fountain of life offering the living water to the thirsty.  His good understanding produced favor with presidents, kings, and other leaders around the world.  Billy Graham's message made him a faithful envoy bringing healing to the hurting masses.  Some of my husband's family came to Christ through his evangelistic broadcasts while sitting alone watching him on the television, some of the untold scores of people who were saved through his ministry.  

We are left with the encouragement that we too can walk with wise men,
even through the study of their lifework. 
Any Christian can endeavor to be wise
and be the one who leads others. 

Daniel 12:3 says...

"Those who have insight will shine brightly
like the brightness of the expanse of heaven,
and those who lead the many to righteousness,
like the stars forever and ever."

"Well done, My good and faithful servant."

He was converted right before
his 16th birthday. Billy wanted
to be a professional baseball
player, but instead traveled
to ball stadiums everywhere
to preach the gospel.

Billy Graham was an instrument in
the hands of a loving God.