Category Archives: Theology

The Proverbs 31 Man: Listen My Son!

Proverbs 31 Man

Yes, you read that correctly, the Proverbs 31 MAN! I’ve always been taught that Proverbs 31 is a description of the ideal wife; her list of job duties were what we as women were to aspire to. Men got to follow after extremely flawed leaders such as King David, Abraham, and King Solomon while we had to be the perfect woman, and if we couldn’t attain such greatness we could settle for being like the virgin mother Mary, Ruth the sexual trickster, or Esther the beauty queen. Those who were of the humble type could settle for being like Mary Magdalene the devoted member of Jesus’ core group of servant leaders, Rachel the barren over comer, or Naomi the redeemed widow. If you don’t have the characteristics of an ideal woman, you will be reminded of your unfortunate status courtesy of countless women’s bible studies and sermons on perceived ungodly women by the names of Eve, Jezebel, Sarah, and Vashti.

proverbs 31 ecard

 

I’ve never desired to be the Proverbs 31 woman primarily because she didn’t exist. The “Capable Wife”, also known as the “Woman of Valour” is a character in a poem. She is the personification of wisdom. She is found throughout the Hebrew scriptures and in other proverbs such as 3:15 and chapter 8. I’m sure there are women who fit her description and they should certainly be praised, but I have no desire to model my life after fiction.

My desire in life is to have the character of Woman Wisdom as described throughout the bible and especially in Proverbs. The important thing for readers to realize and accept, is that these characteristics of wisdom are intended for both men and woman. God doesn’t have two different standards of characters and values that He expects us to obtain. God is a god of equality, His teachings are for all of humanity to obey, treasure, and follow.

King Lemuel’s mother is cautioning her not so wise son about the dangers of being seduced by worldly temptations. Nothing brings a powerful man down like drunkenness, bad company, and a penchant for the type of women who can only offer outer beauty and nothing else. This is a mother who wants her son to develop a character of wisdom, especially because he is a king. We have somehow forgotten an important part of Proverbs 31 where the King’s mother advises her son to, “Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy” (v 8-9).

God wants both men and women to:

  • be trust worthy (11)
  • do good and not harm (12)
  • work hard for a living (13)
  • provide for the needs of your  household (15)
  • be a servant leader to those who work for you (15)
  • have a home and take care of it (16)
  • be physically strong and fit (17)
  • have good economic sense (18)
  • be skilled (19)
  • help the poor in an honest way, and help those in need (20)
  • be prepared for the unexpected and think ahead  (21)
  • dress appropriately and accordingly (22)
  • associate with respectable people and earn your place among them (23)
  • practice good business skills (24)
  • be independent, confident, and worthy of respect (25)
  • don’t fear the future (25)
  • speak words of wisdom (26)
  • speak with kindness and others will learn from you (26)
  • look after your family and household instead of being unproductive  (27)
  • raise a happy family (28)

All of these values are important, they are what we strive for as godly people, but it is only the rare person who obtains them all. 

Charm is superficial (30), God is looking for depth and authenticity. Beauty (30) is subjective and also doesn’t contribute to the depth of character that God is looking for. The only thing that matters to God is our relationship with Him and how we deal with others. A godly person who lives a life filled with wisdom is honoured and respected by his or her family and the community (31); wisdom is important for developing healthy relationships with others. Thankfully God has given us His Holy Spirit so we are not left to develop wisdom through our own efforts. The more we seek to do God’s will, the more wisdom we receive.

King Lemuel’s mother wants her son to rule with wisdom and inner strength. His mother expects him to be the Proverbs 31 wife, and his family are those he rules over. This teaching is in line with how God wants us to live; this is how God wants leaders, rulers, and kings to set an example for others to live. If a nation is lead with wisdom the leader will not only gain respect from the people, but he will also develop wise followers.

So husbands, I encourage you to see yourself as a Proverbs 31 husband. For those of either gender who are not married, I encourage you as well to become a Proverbs 31 person of wisdom.

 

Jesus the Introvert pt.2

Jesus the Introvert pt 2

Matthew 14:13, “Now when Jesus heard this, [the death of his cousin John the Baptist], he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself.” Matthew 14: 23, “And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,…”

In part 1, I wrote about Jesus’ displays of introversion based on his 40 days of retreating to the desert and him being tempted by Satan while there. This time I will be looking at Matthew 14 where we are shown more of Jesus’ introvert style.

After Jesus is informed about the beheading of John the Baptist, he decides to go off by himself, not to just any place, but to a deserted place on his own. It is easy to say he did this because he feared being next on the chopping block, but I don’t believe this theory is the sole reason for Jesus retreating into isolation. By being alone Jesus is able to process the death of John, pray to God, and gather strength and clarity for deciding what his next steps would be. In the bible, Jesus displays a range of human emotions, he shows compassion, fear, anger, frustration, love, and grief complete with tears. His (possibly) introverted nature leads him to a deserted place to be alone with his thoughts and emotions and most importantly he is finally able to be alone with God.

When people are faced with the loss of someone or something important to them, their friends and acquaintances tend to flock towards them with advice, condolences, questions, and their own emotions regarding the loss. I can imagine the men mourning alongside Jesus, while simultaneously asking him a series of questions: “Jesus, what should we do? Do we organize and fight? Do we leave the area? Where do you think John is in the afterlife? Are you alright?” and on and on.

Jesus knows he needs some time to be away and alone, but somehow others don’t understand that. The crowds found out where he was and went to him. In the midst of his grief and mourning, he chose to acknowledge those who found him and healed them of various illnesses and even made time to perform the miracle of turning 5 loaves of bread into enough pieces to feed over 5,000 people. Again, as in the story of Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, he shows us the importance of refueling one’s self and making time to be alone with God. His times of solitude segway into his healing others and performing miracles. If Jesus did not give into these introvert character traits, I’m not sure what his ministry would look like. An emotionally stretched and drained person has less to offer to those he or she serves. Recharging yourself is an important and critical part of being an effective servant of God.

John 6:15 tells us that after feeding thousands of people, the crowd wanted to make Jesus a king against his will. Thankfully Jesus did not get drawn in by such an honour. Jesus knew what his calling and his role was, and it certainly wasn’t to be an earthly king. The end result is that Jesus dismisses the crowds, sends the disciples ahead of him in a boat on their own; and for himself, he chooses to head to the mountains to be alone.

Jesus’ alone time prepares him to say no to the temptations of the world and instead focus on the will of our father God. For introverts, being around too many people for too long not only drains their energy, it also affects their moods, and decision making abilities. Jesus knew how he was wired and he knew what he had to do in order to stay focused on the will of God and not the earthly temptations of people and power.

Read all of Matthew 14, make note of events that happen after Jesus has spent time in solitude.  I don’t think it is a coincidence that the writers mention that Jesus had engaged in intentional times of withdrawing from others.

 

QUESTION: When you have to make important decisions, is your natural tendency to discuss your options and dilemmas with others or be on your own to ponder the situation? Think of some recent examples from this past year.

Why might it be important for extroverts to also spend time alone with God when faced with upsetting news and major decisions?

ACTION: If you are an extrovert, think of some ways that you can spend quality time recharging so you will be well fueled for your calling, your ministry, and your duties.

If you are an introvert, take time to schedule meaningful quiet, alone time so you can be recharged as well. Book the date and time in your planner or electronic calendar. Be intentional.

Peace.

Passionate Social Media Posts: Did Jesus Really Say That?

Thankful for November

I couldn’t believe I hadn’t made a blog post since September 2015. October 19th is when we had our federal election for a new Prime Minster of Canada. We had a long election campaign filled with hate mongering, optimistic promises, and difficult voting dilemmas. I wasn’t allowed to post political preferences on social media and I’m thankful for that. It kept me from reacting and responding to the many political posts that filled Facebook.

Politics can bring out the best and the worst in our behaviours. Political hot topics reveal a lot about who we are and what we believe. Having to remain silent about political matters during the campaign taught me a lot about remaining outwardly calm and respectful when interacting with others who hold opposite values and beliefs than I do. Internally I didn’t do as well, but I’m alright with that; I wasn’t interested in censoring my thoughts, just my words.

I have a better understanding of why Jesus didn’t spend time entertaining political debates; it’s sometimes a waste of time. By not debating or having discussions with people of opposing views, I was able to conserve some much needed energy. I was slowed down for most of October with terrible migraines. Instead of going back and forth with someone whose mind I cannot change and vice versa, I used that time and energy for things that decreased my stress levels, prevented the worsening of my migraine, and brought me happiness. I would encourage other believers to use their energy for things other than political debates and arguments. Know when a debate or discuss is healthy and when it’s not.

During one of the nastiest election campaigns that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime, or at least that I can remember, some of the worst behaviour and beliefs came from self-professed Evangelical Christians. Their beliefs didn’t surprise me because I’ve been part of an Evangelical church for my entire adult life, but it was a surprise to others who were not familiar with Evangelical fundamentalist beliefs and values.

What I’d like to say to politically passionate Christians is this: Please remember that you do not represent the beliefs and values of Christ when you write posts on social media that are rooted in fear, misinformation, hatred, and meanness.

omg Becky, look!

A simple way to control yourself is to ask this question: Would I post this on Jesus’ Facebook page or Twitter account? Sounds silly, but it has stopped me on many occasions from posting reactive comments. Thank goodness for the delete button, because it has saved me from leaving some of my most stupid posts on peoples Facebook pages.

 

Ahead in November:

I’m currently in the midst of writing the advent series that I will be posting during Advent from November 29 – December 24, 2015.

I’ll also be posting part 2 of Jesus the Introvert on Sunday. I’ve been reading a lot about the spiritual nature of the introvert and I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned with readers.

The remaining two posts will be about health and fitness. I’ve be writing about some awesome Christians who have experienced more depth in their faith as a result of embracing a dedication to their personal health and fitness.

 

Happy November!

 

 

 

Jesus the Introvert, pt 1.

 

                           40 days alone in the desert, I can handle it!
 “40 days alone in the desert, I can handle it!” 

 

Yes, you read that correctly, Jesus the Introvert. I believe that according to the examples given in the bible about how Jesus lived, he showed signs of being an introvert. Does this mean my fellow introverts are finally free from the social guilt of being an introvert? No. Extrovert types are still more acceptable in our North American culture and everything from homes to cubicle office space is designed to accommodate them.

This is part one of four in my “Jesus the Introvert” series where I will be highlighting some of Jesus’ introvert habits and writing about the significance of these traits as a spiritual discipline that if given a chance, extroverts can find as fulfilling as being in a room full of party people.

What is An Introvert?

There isn’t one “type” of introvert, or extrovert for that matter. There are varying degrees of introvert traits, but they all have some of the following in common:

– gathers energy from being alone, energy is depleted by being around too many people for too long,

-mental and physical energy is drained by over stimulation from being around groups of people in busy work and social environments

-processes thoughts and generates ideas internally

-tends to be more reserved and reflective

-enjoys solitary activities, but is not anti-social

-likes to quietly observe before making decisions or participating

-analytical

Silent Time With God

Prayer and Fasting:

Jesus spent time alone in prayer connecting with God and himself where he utilized that time to rejuvenate his body and mind. In Matthew 4 we read of Jesus’ 40 days alone in the desert. Being alone for 40 days might feel like emotional and social death to an extrovert; but for Jesus, he did what he knew he had to do to prepare for his calling. If Jesus needed to take a social break sometime during this period of prayer and fasting, who knows what might have happened to himself spiritually. Instead of giving in, Jesus passed the test of temptation by resisting Satan with God’s truth straight from scripture. He did this alone. He didn’t need a crowd of people to take up for him. He had no one, it was a battle here on earth between himself and Satan, but don’t be fooled into thinking it wasn’t a spiritual battle. Jesus prepared for and won that battle with solitude, fasting, and prayer. He won that battle for himself and for the entire human race.

Being in community with others is an important part of our spiritual growth, but there is something different about being alone and welcoming God’s spirit to communicate with us.

Being alone gives us time to deepen our relationship and dependency on God. Times of solitude remind us to be quiet and focus on the promises of God and the lessons He wants to communicate to us. God has messages that are meant to be delivered to you in solitude. These are messages that can only come to us when we are alone in silence with a receptive heart and mind. It is also important to not be in a hurry to tell others what God has been laying on your heart. An extrovert will want to quickly run and tell somebody or everybody what has been revealed to him during quiet times with God, but an introvert knows to be still and ponder the message. Whatever is revealed to you during your time of prayer doesn’t always have to be shared with others. If God leads you to share it with others, then do so, if He doesn’t, then it is alright to keep it to yourself.

Let’s not forget about another introvert in Jesus’ family, his mother Mary.

In Luke 1:29 Mary is said to have been “…much perplexed by his (the angel’s) words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.” After the post-natal visit and prophetic words from a group of shepherds in Luke 2:19 Mary, “treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” It’s not a coincidence that the bible writers chose to make note of Mary’s habit of pondering what had to have been confusing, frightening, and odd news.

In a society that favours extroverts, let’s not forget to embrace and value introvert traits. We can develop an appreciation for introvert based spiritual disciplines by following the ways of Jesus, and we can do that by starting with prayer and fasting.

QUESTION:

Do you spend more time praying in groups or praying by yourself?

Does your church or place of community gathering place more of an emphasis on introvert or extrovert expressions of faith and spiritual disciplines?

What are some of the introvert and extrovert expressions of faith practiced in your Christian community?

Do you lean more towards introvert or extrovert expressions of faith?

 

ACTION:

Here’s a challenge for you. This week, after your time of prayer see if you can spend at least 5 minutes in quiet solitude, saying nothing, and doing nothing except welcoming the presence of the Holy Spirit. It might sound strange if you are not used to doing this, but I can’t stress the important of sitting in silence by yourself, welcoming the Holy Spirit. We are used to rattling off prayers to God, but it is more difficult to then sit in silence afterwards. You can do this sitting on the floor, lying on the floor, sitting in a chair, standing, but whatever you choose you need to be able to be still in that position for 5 minutes.

 

May the presence of His Holy Spirit bring you peace and wisdom.