Archive for May, 2012
“Like a shock of corn fully ripe” (Job 5:26).
A gentleman, writing about the breaking up of old ships, recently said that it is not the age alone which improves the quality of the fiber in the wood of an old vessel, but the straining and wrenching of the vessel by the sea, the chemical action of the bilge water, and of many kinds of cargoes.
Some planks and veneers made from an oak beam which had been part of a ship eighty years old were exhibited a few years ago at a fashionable furniture store on Broadway, New York, and attracted general notice for the exquisite coloring and beautiful grain.
Equally striking were some beams of mahogany taken from a bark which sailed the seas sixty years ago. The years and the traffic had contracted the pores and deepened the color, until it looked as superb in its chromatic intensity as an antique Chinese vase. It was made into a cabinet, and has today a place of honor in the drawing-room of a wealthy New York family.
So there is a vast difference between the quality of old people who have lived flabby, self-indulgent, useless lives, and the fiber of those who have sailed all seas and carried all cargoes as the servants of God and the helpers of their fellow men.
Not only the wrenching and straining of life, but also something of the sweetness of the cargoes carried get into the very pores and fiber of character. –Louis Albert Banks
When the sun goes below the horizon he is not set; the heavens glow for a full hour after his departure. And when a great and good man sets, the sky of this world is luminous long after he is out of sight. Such a man cannot die out of this world. When he goes he leaves behind him much of himself. Being dead, he speaks. –Beecher
When Victor Hugo was past eighty years of age he gave expression to his religious faith in these sublime sentences: “I feel in myself the future life. I am like a forest which has been more than once cut down. The new shoots are livelier than ever. I am rising toward the sky. The sunshine is on my head. The earth gives me its generous sap, but Heaven lights me with its unknown worlds.
“You say the soul is nothing but the resultant of the bodily powers. Why, then, is my soul more luminous when my bodily powers begin to fail? Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart. I breathe at this hour the fragrance of the lilacs, the violets, and the roses as at twenty years. The nearer I approach the end the plainer I hear around me the immortal symphonies of the worlds which invite me. It is marvelous, yet simple.”
One of my kids picks her nose. I don’t want to write her name here because I don’t want this information to live on the Internet forever and ruin her chances of getting into a good university.
I have another child who eats crayons. “No, little buddy,” I remind him. “We eat food, not crayons.” He spits out the colorful chunks of wax and cries.
One morning while I was reminding my daughter of what she should and shouldn’t eat, I realized something.
We’re not too different from kids who eat things that aren’t food.
Out of habit we feed our souls with seemingly harmless stuff. Most of the time it’s mindless; we don’t even realize we’re doing it until someone mercifully points it out.
“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food” (Isaiah 55:2).
Seeing and savoring God is the only way to satisfy our souls. David confessed in Psalm 63:1, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” In the desolate wilderness of a fallen world the only place we can find what our souls crave is in God himself. But out of habit we reach for that which is not bread and things that fail to satisfy us.
Where I live in the Arabian desert we drink bottled water because the tap water isn’t reliable. We keep 5-gallon water coolers upstairs and downstairs so we can have access to clean water. Each of those water coolers comes equipped with a little plastic container to catch the stray drops of water that leak when someone draws a cup of water. These little containers need to be cleaned regularly because the stagnant water mixes with dust and other sundry items and starts to smell.
Imagine that you come into my house and you are exhausted from the desert heat. You are so thirsty that you feel dizzy and you’ve started seeing spots. It’s obvious to me that you’re close to being dehydrated, so I give you a cup and urgently direct you to the nearest water cooler. But instead of drawing a glass of cool, clean water you take the plastic grill off of the container that catches the leaks and you chug it. You drink the dusty, grimy, stagnant water with a metallic film and choke down the missing Barbie doll shoes that someone stashed in there.
Yet this is what we do to our souls when we fill them with junk from the standing puddles of a stagnant well. We also neglect to drink our fill of God’s living water. “For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).
Like a dog that returns to its vomit (Proverbs 26:11), I go back to the same broken cisterns to fill up on things that don’t satisfy. When I’m unsure of myself then I manipulate people to gain their affirmation. When I’m anxious then I emotionally eat. When I’m insecure about my skills as a mom then I gloat over my children’s accomplishments. When I’m impatient and selfish with my time then I nag my husband.
And none of these solutions really work. My temporary fixes at broken cisterns are painfully short-lived because my soul craves so much more. Only God can satisfy my soul.
It’s time to spit out the useless non-food and train ourselves to eat food that will nourish our souls. David said the answer to his soul’s thirst and his body’s frailty was in seeing and savoring God himself. “So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory” (Psalm 63:2).
We see God’s power and glory revealed explicitly in his word, the Bible. In God’s word we can read about the steadfast love of the Lord that is better than any enticing crayon that comes our way.
Feeding on Rich Joy
Next time I catch one of my kids with a non-food item headed toward their mouth then I want to remember this. By God’s grace, I want to be aware of when I’m mindlessly filling my soul with things that don’t satisfy. Then I want to purposefully engage my heart, mind, soul, and strength in feasting on God’s love revealed in his word.
“My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy” (Psalm 63:5–7).
Three latest posts from Gloria Furman —
A Pregnant Woman’s Defense Against the Schemes of the Devil
Mommy Wars in the Local Church: A Parable
A Celebration of Biblical Masculinity
Truth obeyed, said the Puritans, will heal. The word fits, because we are all spiritually sick — sick through sin, which is a wasting and killing disease of the heart. The unconverted are sick unto death; those who have come to know Christ and have been born again continue sick, but they are gradually getting better as the work of grace goes on in their lives.
The church, however, is a hospital in which nobody is completely well, and anyone can relapse at any time. Pastors no less than others are weakened by pressure from the world, the flesh, and the devil, with their lures of profit, pleasure, and pride, and, as we shall see more fully in a moment, pastors must acknowledge that they the healers remain sick and wounded and therefore need to apply the medicines of Scripture to themselves as well as to the sheep whom they tend in Christ’s name.
All Christians need Scripture truth as medicine for their souls at every stage, and the making and accepting of applications is the administering and swallowing of it.
This blog is very personal for me.
Even as I just think about writing it, my emotions range from deep sadness to extreme anger, which propel me to action.
The negative impact of fatherlessness is staggering.
Many of America’s ills can be traced back to fatherlessness. Sadly, 40% of American children don’t have Dad at home. I was one of those children.
When Dad and Mom are married and emotionally healthy, their children are very likely to reproduce the example set before them. But what happens when Dad isn’t present in the home?
I’m indebted to Wayne Parker, who wrote the on-line article, “Statistics on Fatherless Children in America.” http://fatherhood.about.com/od/fathersrights/a/fatherless_children.htm
Young men who grow up without Dad at home are more likely to end up in jail than a young man who comes from a traditional two-parent home. (Cynthia Harper of the University of Pennsylvania and Sara S. McLanahan of Princeton University, cited in “Father Absence and Youth Incarceration.” Journal of Research on Adolescence 14 (September 2004): 369-397.)
63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of the Census).
85% of all children who exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (United States Center for Disease Control).
HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUTS
71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (National Principals’ Association Report on the State of High Schools).
Children living in a fatherless home report lower educational expectations on the part of their parents, less parental monitoring of school work, and less overall social supervision than children from intact families (N.M. Astore and S. McLanahan, American Sociological Review, No. 56 (1991)).
JUVENILE DETENTION RATES
70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept 1988).
Boys who grow up in father-absent homes are more likely than those in father-present homes to have trouble establishing appropriate sex roles and gender identity (P.L. Adams, J.R. Milner, and N.A. Schrepf, Fatherless Children, New York, Wiley Press, 1984).
In a longitudinal study of 1,197 fourth-grade students, researchers observed “greater levels of aggression in boys from mother-only households than from boys in mother-father households.” (N. Vaden-Kierman, N. Ialongo, J. Pearson, and S. Kellam, “Household Family Structure and Children’s Aggressive Behavior: A Longitudinal Study of Urban Elementary School Children,” Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 23, no. 5 (1995).
Children from low-income, two-parent families outperform students from high-income, single-parent homes. Almost twice as many high achievers come from two-parent homes as one-parent homes. (One-Parent Families and Their Children, Charles F. Kettering Foundation, 1990).
The likelihood that a young male will engage in criminal activity doubles if he is raised without a father, and triples if he lives in a neighborhood with a high concentration of single-parent families. Source: A. Anne Hill, June O’Neill, Underclass Behaviors in the United States, CUNY, Baruch College. 1993
So what are we to do? Doing nothing is NOT an option.
If you’re a father, take seriously the importance of your role in your children’s life.
If you’re a single man who desires to get married one day, find a great woman, get married, have children, and be a remarkable father.
Ladies, consider the man you’re in relationship with. Is he the man you want your children to be like? If not, stop wasting your time and don’t sabotage your children’s future, please.
I’ve also written the book, Hero: Unleashing God’s Power in a Man’s Heart. If you know a father, a potential father, or if you are a single mom, or a female wanting to know what to look for in a man, get my book, Hero. Click here:
Marinate on that,
Whether you like it or not … thoughts come!
… and …
Whether you like it or not … it is up to you what you do with them!
Unless you judge them against the Word of God …
… you won’t know what seeds you are allowing to take root in your mind!
Jesus warned us of the wiles or tricks of the devil, saying …
… He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth,
because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie,
he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
— John 8:44
Are you allowing your mind to meditate on the devil’s thoughts?
Thought seeds of fear, lack, sickness, poverty or death?
… seeds that will grow and you will harvest the result!
Because if you allow those thoughts to remain in your mind …
… you will start to develop faith in satan’s ability …
The good news is …
You can stop your mind from dwelling on those negative thoughts!
Simply do what God told Joshua to do …
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth;
but thou shalt meditate therein day and night,
that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein:
— Joshua 1:8
In other words, God is saying …
“Think of My word, My promises, My goodness, all the time!”
As Paul said to the Philippians …
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
— Phil. 4:8
Because meditating on God’s Word, His promises and His ways!
… will allow those seeds to grow in your mind …
… seeds of life, blessings, goodness, favor and prosperity …
Thought seeds that will develop faith in God, in your life …
… and that will give you a harvest accordingly!
As God said …
… for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous,
and then thou shalt have good success.
— Joshua 1:8
… Read …
1 Tim. 4:13-16
Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.
Wives can be chosen three different ways. Two of them give horrible results, but one is gloriously foolproof! Young man, guarantee yourself a great marriage. Marry a woman that fears the LORD. Her kind affection lies, and physical attraction is worth little. The advice here is of great value. Consider it; understand it; remember it; teach it; require it.
This is clearly one of the most precious proverbs. In just eighteen words, the LORD of wisdom gives glorious and comprehensive warning and instruction for one of life’s greatest decisions. Wise men will bow and tremble before this single sentence and know God wrote the Bible. There is more wisdom here than all marriage manuals combined.
Attraction and marriage generally occur for the two wrong reasons. Men pursue women for their friendliness and pleasing actions or for their beauty. Arranged marriages and political marriages are exceptions. Most men pick their wives by favor or beauty.
Favor is the way a woman treats a man. Favor is doing what the man wants, treating him kindly with responsive affection, and obeying his wishes. Women are experts at being agreeable, cheerful, friendly, feminine, and even submissive, when they want to be. Favor often includes sacrificing her virginity and making love before marriage to please him. Favor is how a woman seduces a man. Favor is doing what he wants in order to win him.
Favor is deceitful; it is a lie. Anyone can treat another person nicely for a while to obtain something from them. Such women do not treat husbands the same once they are married, for the need to seduce is gone. She has her husband, and now her true character will show. Deceitful favor is a shock – men cannot believe after the wedding to find that dating was a lie. She is not nearly as happy, kind, and loving as she was seducing him.
The man who married for her lying favors must now stare at the truth (and most often listen to it), as his wife reveals what she was all along – a whining tormentor! Remember! An odious woman is only found after marriage (30:23)! She was awesome on dates, remember? But thinking about it now is too late! The trap has been sprung; the rusty iron claws have grasped and pierced your heart; and it will not let go! She has got you!
Beauty is a woman’s physical attractiveness. Men desire beautiful women, for God made them to be visually stimulated. God also designed every feature of a woman to attract the man’s sight, and a beautiful woman has these features in abundance and perfection. In an instant of time, a woman’s face, body, hair, or all three can smite a man. He is in love, or so he thinks. His vision says that marital heaven is beneath the wedding veil and gown.
Beauty is vain and worthless, without value or profit. It will not make a great marriage; and it often creates more problems than pleasure. It does not indicate character. A perfect body often houses a deformed soul. You will only know too late. Beautiful women can be haughty, flirty, selfish, lazy, and shoppers. Husbands are often jealous, forced to support extravagance, forced to beg for favors, and may be limited to sexual looking and wishing.
Beauty also corrupts with time, distorts with sickness, and disappears with age, as the decaying effect of sin takes it away. The man who sets sail for marital heaven on the ship Beauty is in a vessel taking on water! The flower garden he chose for his life’s enjoyment is soon nothing but weeds! What will hold the marriage together when the beauty queen weighs 225 lbs., has sparse gray hair two inches long, and moles the size of grapes!
Remember! A beautiful woman without character is like a gold jewel in a pig’s nose (11:22). The beauty of the small jewel cannot make the pig attractive or take away the horrible odor (27:15-16)! Such a man is doomed to twenty-five years of wishing he could make love to his wife and twenty-five years of wishing he did not have to! Remember, young man! When you see the beautiful gold, do not overlook the hairy pig wearing it!
But a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised! Her husband and children will praise her for the great happiness, comfort, peace, help, and pleasure she brought them (31:28). They will honor her, for she fulfilled their lives with the wonderful blessings of tireless service, tender affection, selfless attention, devoted companionship, and diligent labor. Read carefully the detailed portrait of this domestic queen written by a royal queen, and see the character and conduct that puts her in a very rare class of wives (31:10-31).
Her husband’s life is full of joy, for his heart can safely trust in her (31:11). She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life (31:12). He knows she would never betray him; he never has to beg or coerce her for anything; he knows he and his children always get the best; he is thrilled and proud to be seen with her in public; he knows he has the most affectionate and erotic woman ever; he knows she works earlier, harder, and later than he does; he rejoices at her creativity and frugality; he is handsomely rewarded by her entrepreneurial ability and industry; her kindness is known by all; the beauty and warmth of their home provides the best in hospitality; and he is the envy of all other good men.
The fear of the Lord is a fervent and reverent desire to please God and hate anything that displeases Him (8:13; Eccl 12:13). It is much more than attending church: most churchgoers do not fear God. The perfect woman believes the Bible absolutely and fully, and she wants to obey it in every area of her life (Ps 119:128). Since it describes the perfect wife, she therefore has the highest motive to keep the highest standard for wives ever written. This criterion for picking a wife puts all others to utter confusion. Heed it!
Consider carefully. She has the highest motivation, for she serves her husband in all aspects to earn the approval of her eternal God and Judge. She follows the only perfect guide for wives, written by man’s Creator, who made the woman for the man. There is no comparison to marrying a woman who fears the Lord! But consider further. Only this woman has the Holy Spirit bearing the wonderful fruit of love, joy, and peace in her life!
When the flames of romantic attraction die down, what motive to excel as a wife, lover, and mother do most women have? They are lost without the internal passion that once drove them. But this woman is daily seeking to please her God, Who has laid out clearly in Scripture every perfect trait she must have to please Him. Her love of God and His love of her never vary, so the ebb and flow of marital affection do not affect her.
When marital difficulties arise, and her husband is foolish, only a woman who fears the Lord will remain unchanged. Her continued performance is not dependent on her respect or even love of her husband. It is entirely based on her love and fear of the Lord. She will not change, just because her husband shows his selfish, ugly side. She knows there is still a God in heaven, Who expects her to be a wife as unto Him! Hear me, young men!
A wise man will require the fear of the Lord. He will check her love of God, her devotion to Christ, her esteem of Scripture, and her willingness to be taught. He will measure how she takes correction, responds to hard preaching, and makes personal changes to please her Creator. He will look for that extreme devotion to the LORD that will turn to be his greatest asset, when she will love and serve her husband in spite of any troubles at home. He will check her prayer life, not her tan, her spirituality, not her cooking.
He will look for her in church, rather than bars, and not just any church. He will seek a committed woman in an old-fashioned church that emphasizes sound doctrine and holy living. He will test her by the word of God, and he will expect cheerful, perfect, and immediate obedience. He will look for that meek and quiet spirit that God says is of great price (I Pet 3:1-6). He will look for opportunities to check her submission to authority in personal matters. If she will grow her hair because of I Cor 11:15, prepare your dowry!
At all costs, do not get near any woman emphasizing her favors or beauty to attract you, for these are the signs of the strange woman, the whore who is out to destroy you (2:16-19; 5:3-23; 6:24-35; 7:5-27; 9:13-18; 23:27-28; 30:20). Demand the fear of the Lord! Reject all imitations! Reject all hypocrisies! They will come back to destroy your life.
Christian woman, do you want to be such a praise-worthy woman? Humble yourself before your Creator and practice everything in this book of Proverbs, especially 11:16; 12:4; 19:14; and 31:10-29. Avoid everything in 11:22; 19:13; 21:9,19; 25:24; 27:15-16. Hate the world and its popular message of liberation for women, for they are destroying the very sex they seek to save by swallowing Satan’s perverting lies. Seek a church where the pulpit loudly proclaims the apostolic truth of God unapologetically, and where the women enjoy hearing it and practicing it in their homes.
The wisdom of this proverb works both ways. Fathers must help daughters marry men who greatly fear the Lord. Such a man has the highest motivation – pleasing His eternal Creator: and he has the perfect manual for husbands – the Word of God. Women, do not even consider a man who does not have a passionate and consistent fear of God, love for Jesus Christ, and holy zeal for every word of God. A God-fearing man will take care of you and your children like no other. But measure wisely, for churchgoers are not enough.
Christian brother, if you have such a wife as described here, praise her and reward her, privately and publicly (31:28-31). See the comments on 31:31. Thank the Lord for her (18:22; 19:14; 31:10). You have been greatly blessed by heaven! Your Creator has brought you a woman far better than Eve, who killed her husband for a lie! He saved you from hell in this life by keeping you from marrying a woman with mere favor or beauty. To keep her fearing the Lord, take her to a church where His truth is plainly taught.
The great religious whore of Rome and her daughters seek the souls of men by offering them their favors of spiritual fornication and the beauty of their manmade garments (Rev 17:1-6). Be wise, Christian reader, to see the deceit of her treachery and the vanity of her pretensions. She has nothing but the form of godliness, without the substance. Look for the pure character of Christ’s kingdom in the simple churches of godly saints, who tremble in joyful fear before the throne of Christ Jesus, not the pope or any other man.
Our blessed groom, the Lord Jesus Christ, seeks a spouse who fears the Lord. Quit your deceitful favor (Rev 2:2-4; 3:15-16), and give up your vain ideas of beauty (Rev 3:17-18). Humble yourself in contrite repentance, and He will come in to you (Rev 3:19-22).