Proverbs 31 Woman: Fairy Tale Ideal?

Driven Publishing LogoThe Proverbs 31 Woman is an ideal and often feels impossible to obtain. As described in Proverbs 31, she belongs on the cover of Forbes Magazine as well as Cosmopolitan. Is she a fairy tale character?

 Proverbs 31 Woman: Cinderella?

 As some of you know, I perpetually work on my novel which I describe as the real story of Cinderella. Interestingly, I find many similarities between Cinderella and the Proverbs 31 Woman–at least in perception. Most people describe Cinderella as a meek, mild, hard working survivor who is saved by a handsome, powerful, loving prince. That may be true, but there is more to her than that.
 
Please understand, I consider Cinderella a real person, because she is–she is in every woman I know–just like the Proverbs 31 Woman. We struggle and we prevail. We wish and we work. We trust and we get hurt. We go to the ball and we run away. But in no way are we perfect…and neither is the Proverbs 31 Woman.

Chayil – H2428

 In verse 10, this woman is described as noble, virtuous, excellent, and capable, depending on the translation you read, but these words fall short not only in meaning, but also in scope. The Hebrew word used to describe this ideal wife is chayil (H2428) and means valiant, strong, courageous, able, mighty, etc. This word is used to describe powerful armies such as Joshua’s (Joshua 6:2), qualities in a ruler (Ex. 18:25), and Boaz even used this word to describe the courage of Ruth. Is anyone singing Helen Reddy right now? Yes, we are powerful and strong, but only if we have courage.
 
Courage is the beginning of the Proverbs 31 Woman. All the positive attributes that follow in this chapter stems from her courage. She must believe she is capable and useful. She must believe she is worthy and lovely, and sometimes, she needs a reminder. The chapter ends with her receiving praise for her own abilities and not those of her husband’s. 

Eve

If anyone ever says that Christianity is chauvinistic, they haven’t studied the Bible enough. God created Eve to help Adam, but the Hebrew word for helper (‘ezer – H5828) is also used to describe the help we get from God and as such, has no connotation of man’s superiority.
God created Eve to be a helper, a companion, a teammate, a lover, a wife, and a mother. She was wonderfully and beautifully made in order to complete the creation of man.

Rahab

God chose Rahab to save the spies in Jericho. Rahab, a Gentile, a harlot and unlikely hero, hid the two Israelite spies from the king of Jericho and told the king’s messengers that they had left.
Her act of courage saved her life as well as her families and allowed vital intel to pass to Joshua. It took much faith and courage to defy the king of Jericho, but God knew her heart and she said, “yes.”

Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James

Though there are many more examples of God’s love for women, my favorite is that He chose three women to be the first to witness Jesus after His resurrection. Using the examples God has given us, The Proverbs 31 Woman is everything Helen Reddy says she is.

Courage of a Lion

Our courage must begin and end with God by accepting His power, strength, guidance, and love. Our motive must be to serve God. Never serve out of pride or the misconception that we can earn the love we receive. Be bold enough to speak out and at times, remain silent. We must have the fearlessness to say “yes” and also, “no.”
 
To be a Proverbs 31 Woman, you must love the Lord with all your heart, find God’s will for your life, stand firm in your beliefs and never, ever, ever, try to earn love; your perfection is not a prerequisite.
 
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Proverbs 29: Leading With Logic

Driven Publishing LogoAll leaders make choices, but the Proverbs 29 Leader realizes the consequences prior to making those choices. If you follow the simple logic of Proverbs 29, then you will be a good leader–depending, of course, on what you want.

Proverbs 29 in Logic Form

In Stephen Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, his second habit is: Begin with the End in Mind. If we follow that rule as we read Proverbs 29, we have an interesting list:

  • If you want to be suddenly destroyed without remedy; ignore advice
  • If you want your people to rejoice; be righteous
  • If you want to squander your wealth; hang out with people who only want your money
  • If you want your team, company, or country to be stable; rule with justice.
  • If you want to be ensnared; be evil
  • If you want justice for the poor; be aware of their plight
  • If you want to stir up violence; mock and hate others
  • If you want to be a fool; vent your anger
  • If you want your officials to become wicked; listen and believe their lies
  • If you want your throne secure; judge the poor with fairness
  • If you want peace; discipline your child
  • If you want dissension; remain angry
  • If you want honor; remain humble
  • If you want to remain safe; trust in the Lord

The Beauty of Proverbs 29

The beauty of Proverbs 29 and, frankly, of all Proverbs, is that few words are used to describe large concepts and when you explore the complicated through a simple lens, revelation occurs and wisdom expands. Dare to view your leadership skills through the simple lens of Proverbs 29.

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Proverbs 28: On Whom Do You Rely?

Driven Publishing LogoIn Proverbs 28, rulers or leaders are mentioned six times (vv. 2, 3, 10, 12, 16, 28,) but all the verses are a measuring stick for a ruler. ;) Verse 21 sums it up perfectly: even the strongest of men will break a covenant for a morsel of bread.

No matter how much faith you have in a person, do not rely on them. Keep your faith in The Lord.

Respect verses Faith

We can have respect for a ruler, and I believe we should, but to have total faith in one is not only foolish, it is dangerous. No matter the power or intention, The Lord is the only ruler you should fully rely upon. He is Faithful.

Why Dangerous To Rely:

Belief that a human being, no matter how righteous, has all the answers, will only lead you down a crooked path full of thorns and snares. But The Lord guides us toward good (Jeremiah 29:11) and is compassionate (Nehemiah 9:19).

Never question The Lord’s intentions, but always measure a ruler’s actions against The Word. Blind faith in a human, even Billy Graham, will cause heartache and disappointment.

Why Dangerous To Condemn:

No matter what, we cannot fully understand a ruler’s intentions nor the struggle that occurred for them to make that decision. We do not know if they meant well or were heartless, or if the scale balanced on a single piece of straw. We only know they are human.

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The Proverbs 27 Athlete

In May, I wrote about being a Proverbs 27 Coach. Today, on being a Proverbs 27 Athlete.

Pre and Post Game Interview

Players need to control what they tell reporters and Proverbs 27 says, “No boasting about your perceived outcome of tomorrow’s game (v 1), for it will become a burden on your playing (v 3). Praise others and let them praise you (v 2), for anger and jealousy will destroy the team (v 4).” You don’t need to be interviewed on television to follow this advice.

Practice Field

Accept the evaluation of your coach (v 6.) Your ego will not improve your skills, your humble acceptance that you can always improve will.

I found verse 7 exceptionally powerful today. Athletes often talk of staying hungry and this verse explains why: it taste sweet. When hungry, there is no room for bitterness or complaints and even minor victories become sweet. Stay hungry.

Be dedication to both yourself and the team (vv 8,9). “Lean on each other,” the dedicated athlete says. “And if you have a problem, come to me first, for if we stand together, we cannot fall–regardless of the score (v 10). For we are in this together (v 11).”

Iron Sharpens Iron

Though still pertaining to the practice field, I wanted a special section for verse 17. Everyone is familiar with this phrase, but what does it mean? We know what iron is, but the Hebrew word for it (barzel, 1270) can also mean strength. Strength brings more strength and strength is much more than muscles. The best example I found is from Facing the Giants. Watch this clip and you will see what I mean.

Pregame Speech

Now the final words before entering the field: “Don’t let the referees bother you, arguing with them is like restraining the wind and holding oil in your hands. Let it go (v 16). You know your job and have honed your skills. Your play will be a direct reflection of your belief in that preparedness (v 19) and nothing at all in the praise you have received (v 21). You have worked hard and your reward is on that field waiting for you to take it (v 18).”

The Athlete’s Reflection

Take time to gather your thoughts. Find of the weaknesses of the opposing team and play to your strengths (v 23). Live in the moment, for your playing days will end, but allow them to mold your future. Learn obedience, hard work, and diligence and forget excuses and doubt (vv 24-27).

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Proverbs 26: Foolish Gossip

We have been reading about the folly of fools and the wisdom of the wise for twenty-five days, but how can we distinguish one from the other? The easy answer is the wise seeks knowledge and understanding and the fool seeks instant gratification from selfish desires. But that is vague and subjective. The easiest distinction is Gossip.

According to verse 20, gossip is the fuel for quarrels and in verses 4 and 5, if you repeat this gossip, you become equal to the gossiping fool, who now considers himself wise.

Gossip Is For Fools

You know when you do it and sometimes you try to stop yourself, but the desires to share information to the uninformed lures you into the discussion. The next thing you know, you have shared what should have remained silent and you have succumbed to foolishness.

The tidbit of knowledge may be benign or could be vicious, but both are gossip. The rush of sharing something that others do not know elevates our status…but only in our own eyes. In reality, this sharing propels us down and not up.

How Do You Stop?

If you dare, ask The Lord to weigh your heart and open your eyes to every time you gossip. Have the guts to say, “take away this folly and leave me with peace, joy, and silent lips.”

Be bold in your reading of His Word, listen to His lessons, and ask for the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

…and then, repeat daily.

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Proverbs 25: Warning or Conviction?

Driven Publishing LogoProverbs 25 seems to be a warning against certain types of people and their actions, but what if that person is you? The warning may ber for you to open your eyes to your own behavior.

Another Warning of Perspective

Opposite of Linear Perspective of good deeds, the offensives of others are easier to see than our own. Maybe I should change that to first person: I notice the offensives of others more than I am aware of my own.

Innocent Misunderstanding

This is a slam on me and it isn’t. I do not know when I have offended someone and would like to think the offense unintentional.

When I was younger, I would often not wear my eye glasses out of vanity. One time I confronted a friend and asked why she was mad at me. She told me that she saw me at the mall, I sneered at her, and then went on my merry way. I had no recollection of the event, but put the pieces together: I squinted instead of sneered, and could not see well enough to recognize her.

Exaggerated Apology

I realize I was innocent of the direct slight on my friend, but my vanity was guilty. An apology was in order, which I gave, but I have no idea whether my friend believed me or whether my apology mirrored the intensity of her hurt. I think that is one of the keys of getting along with others: our reactions need to be lessened when hurt and exaggerated when apologizing.

Take Action

This rant comes from verse 19. Though not directly about offensives or hurt feelings, it is about relying on the unfaithful and the pain such reliance causes. Don’t be unfaithful. Be aware of hurt you cause others and take action to remedy them.

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Proverbs 24: Location, Location, Location

We have all heard the real estate rule of location, location, location. You can change everything about a house except the placement of its lot. The same rule applies to your spiritual house. Where is your spiritual house?

Where Is Your Foundation?

We know the importance of the foundation for soundness of structure, but where you build it is what really matters. If you build a house at the corner of Prestige and Wealth, where it is easy to see the rewards and comprehend the earthly blessings, you have built your house in the wrong location. Better to start a wee house smack dab in the middle of God’s Way, where you study and question, read and listen, learn and understand, in order to know where you should place your foundation.

Once you have your foundation and it is strong and solid, because it is built on the Holy Trinity of God, continue to trust His word, both promises and commandments. Only then are you ready to build the structure using the wisdom God granted you at your bidding.

Structural Maintenance

Once completed, maintain your structure by accepting the house rules and continually making repairs and cleaning it and just like a house, clutter needs to be removed and walls need to be painted; the beliefs that start our journey of following Christ need to find deeper meaning and understanding. I have found that the more I learn about God, the less I know and if you own a house, you understand this analogy: there is always something to fix or do within its walls and The Bible is the handyman’s guide.

Location of Furniture

Now it is time to fill the house. Some people stop at the maintenance of the house, but filling it with treasures is where the glory of following The Lord comes. Quotes of inspiration etched on the walls. Photos of loved ones lining the staircase. Answered prayers covering your chairs. Feeling the warmth of Jesus’ love under a blanket of faithfulness and commitment. These treasures take nurturing time and often a professional to help with the design. Find that help at a church that has the proper location, firm foundation, and proof of lovely treasures.

Seek Design Help

If you do not belong to a church, you are missing out of a treasure trove of life. Your church, found through seeking and much prayer, will change your house and its members will not only help you build your sanctuary, but will also give you the joy of helping others build theirs.

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Proverbs 20: Linear Perspective vs. Drawing to Scale

Linear Perspective is an art method used in a picture to show spatial recession by placing objects in a series of receding planes which eventually lead to a vanishing point. Basically, the items closer to you are larger and with more clarity than the items further away. Drawing to scale is an accurate depiction with precise proportions and without perspective.

The question in life is: Do you Draw to Scale or do you use Linear Perspective in life? In other words, do you see events from all angles or do the items closest to you appear larger than the ones further away?

Mental Perspective

When you evaluate a situation (usually a disagreement) you know your own intentions and perceived actions, but you only know the actions of the “other side.” You do not know the struggles it took for them to make that decision nor their intentions.

Drawing Toward Scale

When working together toward a goal, we  remember what we do much more than what others do and often, because they are closer, appear larger. I do not believe it is intentional, but it happens naturally. To offset this perspective bias,  we must give more attention and detail to the objects which are further away, as well as, make them larger in order to balance the scale.

Dishonest Scales

If we constantly think we do more than others, care more than others, and try harder than others, perhaps we are using Linear Perspective instead of Drawing to Scale. Could verse 23 (and many other in Proverbs) not be talking merely of commercial scales, but interpersonal ones? Do we need to continually rebalance our own scales?

Try, not just looking from their perspective, but to look from above and view to scale. Most of the time you will discover that both sides are right…and wrong, and the only remedy is asking for forgiveness and forgiving. Hurt feelings and anger are seldom (if ever) a matter of innocent and guilty, they are usually a combination of both.

I guess that leads back to seeking first to understand.

Sorry about the delay in this post. Sometimes my days fall away from my grasp and tumble out of control.

 

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Proverbs 19: Edwin’s Reward

Driven Publishing LogoEdwin wasn’t afraid to die and spoke often of his trust in the Lord; he knew he was in God’s loving hands. When told he needed a heart transplant, he prayed for healing and the healing occurred. A member of another church asked Edwin to share that testimony to the congregation and he did earlier this month. I do not know how many lives he touched with that testimony, but I do know he is in heaven getting his reward.

Edwin’s Thoughtfulness

Edwin’s kindness and contagious smile touched many lives. I will miss seeing him, speaking with him, and reading the newspaper articles he would bring to me. It may sound trivial to say I will miss his newspaper clips, but that is a perfect illustration of his thoughtfulness. Edwin went through the trouble of cutting it out and bringing it to me (and others) because he thought we would enjoy reading the information. Thoughtful.

Edwin Cared

Edwin, a retired physician, never stopped doctoring. He was quick to offer free advice and he reached out to me on numerous occasions to ask about my spine issues and tingling feet. He cared.

Edwin’s Example

We can all learn from Edwin’s example. He was kind and thoughtful, quiet and gentle, joyous and peace loving. I have no doubt that he is singing with a choir of angels and encouraging them to sing yet another hymn.

Edwin’s Reward

I am confident Edwin has received the reward of verse 17. He dedicated much of his career to treating Native Americans. He served the poor and loved it. But he didn’t wait until he got to heaven to receive it. He felt it every time someone smiled back at him and thanked him for his help. Edwin understood what was important in this world. He served.

Please pray for Edwin’s many friends and family as we mourn and Lord, remind me of his joy.

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Proverbs 18: Kind-ergarten Primer

Proverbs 18 reads like a poster in a kindergarten classroom. We have heard these rules all our lives, but sometimes we forget to follow them, or worse, think they no longer pertain to us.

The following list is life changing if you follow it.

  • Be Friendly; mean is selfish
  • Seek to Understand
  • Hatred comes from evil
  • Use your words to refresh and bring life
  • Don’t look the other way when you see injustice
  • Don’t lie; it causes trouble and leads to more lies
  • Don’t listen to gossip
  • Laziness is destructive
  • Run to The Lord
  • No amount of money will protect you
  • Pride destroys and humility must proceed honor
  • Seek knowledge and accept it in your heart
  • Listen to all sides before making a judgement
  • Accept outcomes done accurately
  • Settle disputes
  • Speak the truth; it fills the soul
  • Don’t be a loner
  • Be kind
  • Learn who to trust

…But In Reality

It seems so obvious and easy, but in reality, it is not. Because we hurry, we jump to conclusions before getting all the facts. We avoid confrontation, which often leads to lies. We pout and stand our ground, even when we know we are wrong.

Be Kind

But I think the biggest culprit is kindness. When our thoughts are stuck within our own minds, we are oblivious to others. We become unaware because our own desires are screaming so loudly in our heads, we cannot hear what others have to say.

Your Smile

Everyone has bad days and your smile might be the one thing they need to see. And with that in mind, notice when someone is kind and smiles at you, because smiles are contagious.

Today’s blog is dedicated to one of the kindest men I have ever met. My thoughts and prayers are for you and your family, Edwin.

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