Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Deck The Halls!

Its that wonderful time of year again. Its the time when all religions come together whether they believe in the reason for the season or not, and do what we are all supposed to be doing all year. Its the time when all people recognize and acknowledge that there needs to be peace on earth and good will toward all men. Its when joy is abound and giving is the foundation for all. Though unbelievers say when they give, its not for the holiday, yet they aren't giving at any other time with as much happiness. I love this time of year!

For believers, we waffle with whether to decorate the house, home or even have a tree. I did the same thing. It was lousy not having a tree. It was only lousy because I was so use to having one. The reason I didn't put up a tree that one Christmas was from what I read out of the scriptures. I saw that the tree was idolized and decorated as a thing to worship. I then equated what I was doing must be insulting to God. I felt guilty and repented. I was so young in Christ back then. I laugh at that behavior now.

You see, what people did in the Old Testament they did trying to recuperate from the disobedience of Adam. They were under the old covenant law of which they had to abide by or die. Being a new creation in Christ, gives us the liberty that the Old Testament Christian didn't have. The Word is clear about abiding under the law (Galatians 3:10 AMP). You must do all that is required to maintain righteousness. This includes animal sacrifice for atonement of sins. Though some think this act is unreasonable, how can you (in your state of wrongness) pick and choose what to and not to do, not knowing what is right unless you are taught? Who is doing the teaching? Is it someone who fared well in making excuses for not abiding under the whole law or
has God been merciful to you too?

Believing in Christ is much more then just enjoying Christmas. His birth is what the children of Israel had been waiting for. They called on the Messiah and He came. Born in a manger with the very animals that were used to sacrifice for atonement (Luke 2 AMP). His birth in of itself is a message to all who had been bound under the law. The stirring of those who had been waiting came to see the miracle of His birth. The 3 wise men traveled for miles being led by a star. Through the weather conditions, the outside elements that they might have come against, with all of the other stars shining, those 3 men presevered to get to the Messiah (Matthew 2:1-12 AMP).

This is the image I think of when I trim my tree every year. All of the twinkling lights represent the stars in the sky. This one tree is representing all of the other trees that the wise men had to go passed to get to the manger. The ornaments represent the outside elements that may have or not served as obstacles for them. And at the very top which God is the Head of it all, is His guidance leading them through to get to their destination - the star. The presents, isn't it obvious?

In keeping with the theme of this blog, wondering why life is treating you like this or that, could it be what you have done to yourself (Galatians 4:1-7 AMP)? Could it have anything to do with believing a lie when on the inside you would like to celebrate the Savior's birth too? Its alright, enjoy Christmas, it was meant for you too. By the way, have a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Women's Day (Part 1)

There will come a time where the females in the church will pronounce a special day dedicated to the women
who do so much in the ministry. There might be a dinner, luncheon, or a tea  honoring the first lady and some of the other female ministers. When all is said and done and it is time for the speaker to get up and minister the Word, the common place to go is Proverbs 31 where the virtuous woman can be looked at from a different perspective or the same things will be reiterated. Esther is another favorite, where the speaker will use how a woman can lose or keep her man depending where the emphasis is placed. Or maybe the book of Ruth where it will be taught how humble Ruth became to cling to her mother in law and be that support Naomi needed in her time of grief. How do I know this? Its been done over and over again. What keeps women from attending these functions is the loyalty of being members of that ministry and showing off the new clothes purchased for the event.

Is this an insensitive way to put it? Maybe, still my hope is that it is remembered for change to take place. We cannot keep maneuvering in such a way and not do as God has been telling us repeatedly. He calls us to watch and pray. He also tells us to walk in love in all that we do (Ephesians 5:1-3 AMP). And finally, we are to rightly divide the Word so that we will never be directed on a path of error (2 Timothy 2:15 AMP). So let's tackle this Women's Day with those topics that have been regurgitated for God's children to eat. It didn't come from the Lord's table and my aim is to prove it.

The Proverbs 31 woman, more commonly known as the Virtuous woman. I won't be using Webster's definition of virtue because it has changed as the years do. God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. So let's use what is indicative of Him - His Word. The woman was created for the soul purpose of being of assistance to man (Genesis 2:18 AMP). Now its out there on front. I have no idea why women don't make mention of that on Women's Day. Its danced around but never point blank. Well, there it is! No more identity crisis. You were created as a time such as be of some assistance to a man. He doesn't necessarily have to be someone you are married to - but you are to be a help to some man. Now this doesn't mean that you are to do anything outside of righteousness. If he is tired of his wife or she doesn't understand him, this is not your place to be of assistance. Step back, send him to his wife or pastor. You are out of place trying to counsel a married man. There is no virtue in that, just ignorance and a means to be tempted.

In dispelling some of the myths that have been taught in the Proverbs 31 woman, we must understand the
example used of a woman who is a domestic engineer - a housewife. However, she is not cemented into her home, not able do other things. Notice that she gets up early to pray and study the Word...that's spiritual food. She also makes sure the house servants know what their duties are. This means she is of means where she can afford to have a house staff. See that she is away from the house conducting business with merchants (Proverbs 31:16 AMP). This means not only that she shops for her home but that she can have a business. Ministry has taught this passage with her being a house wife and that's all she can be. This is not true. All women have different passions in life. All men are not the same; therefore, women meeting the needs of a specific man, has a myriad of gifts. If the bible was to make examples of all of the things a woman can do, there would not be enough room for the rest of the books. What is written is an example. We must be able to see where the virtue is and what has been given in order to compare to know that it was right. This is rightly dividing the Word as it has been directed for us to do. We must be able to practically apply it in our lives.

Women's Day (Part 2)

In rightly dividing the Word, we are supposed to be listening to what is being taught and then having the
desire to study for ourselves. Take out those notes, our bible and spend time to see if the Word was quoted correctly and if it was used in the proper context. With all of those things in order, then and only then could we use the message in applying it into our lives or to use in discussions or to help someone in their time of need. Anything else without these matters in place is a person in error and causing others to be as well. You will discover this as you continue to read.

In the first part of this post, hopefully the idea that a virtuous woman can only be if she is a house wife has been dispelled. Her priority is in Christ and then doing what He has called her to do. This is the message that I didn't hear and is why I write. The other passages under the guise of "Women's Day" also kept the real message from being expounded upon. I am not sure if the reasoning is trying to only teach what the people can be comfortable in hearing or if the ministers were directed not to
preach such things. I don't have those constraints.

The book of Esther is one of those popular sermons where it has been said, to the group of women I was seated with, that if a woman wishes to keep her husband she should do as Esther has done and not Queen Vashti. It was also reiterated of the respect Esther had for her Uncle Mordeccai and for her husband once she became Queen. She also was obedient which is why she was highly favored (though her looks added to some of the benefit). While I took in these lessons, it wasn't until much later in my own studies did I wonder if the female ministers read the entire book of Esther or just the passages that seemed pertinent for the message. I also wondered if these lessons were from the Lord or something seen on television or recorded and watched to be taught again and again. If so, that was not from the Lord's table. The Lord may have prepared a meal in the presence of our enemies, but rest assured the meal had not been eaten before and regurgitated for us to swallow (Psalms 23:5 AMP).

To understand Esther in the role that was thrust upon her, you must first see the king for who he actually was. He was a foolish man. He held parties that lasted far longer then necessary and the only one enjoying his parties was him (Esther 1:1-8 AMP). He would have the food and drinks placed for everyone but no one would be drinking but him. Then when he called for his wife, Vashti, she was tired having thrown her own party for the women and wasn't about to be humiliated as she has been putting up with the king's drunken behavior before (Esther 1:9-12 AMP). She refused him. The king could have pouted for a moment and been over it. But the princes had to be bored. They were the ones that started thinking that the queen had some influence and would cause for their wives to be just as impassive (Esther 1:16-20 AMP). That was fear doing the thinking for them. Seeing the king was not of a sober mind, he listened and acted on that thought of
fear. This is what caused for the queen to lose her position.

Now Esther, she was a child. Not knowing what happened to her actual parents gives some perspective as to why Esther's demeanor was the way it was. She had been obedient and without a doubt her Uncle, a godly man, prayed for her. We also don't know if her Uncle had anymore children of his own. Assuming that he didn't, because the Word never tells us that he went back to his home or to his wife and family, he kept a close watch on his niece. Never did I ever hear how close knit this family was and why Esther may have felt that way; however when her surroundings changed so did she.

Why do you think Esther went from a humbling, obedient, quiet child that was highly favored to one that was going to give her Uncle a directive? He told her what was needed to be done to save the people and that she was placed in the position for this very reason. Instead of her seeing the big picture, she looked at how she had been trained to do as the king ordered (Esther 4:8-11 AMP). The order was, not to disturb the king unless he called for you. Did you notice how Mordeccai got her head back together (Esther 4: 12-17 AMP)? He reminded her where she came from. She saw her position being greater then the niece of her Uncle. Actually, it was...only Esther was a child and didn't see that. She had a decision to make and this may have been the last time her Uncle could give her a directive to follow. After all, she is the queen and needed to be about serving her husband not her Uncle. But, again, this isn't the message that was taught in the services I attended or those I've seen.

Now this is the part that most female speakers get trapped in and deliver the oration as a show on how to be that domestic engineer that all men desire in a woman. What is ministered is that the woman needs to be able to read her man (know his ways). She should not come at him the moment he comes home, but she should allow him to relax, draw him a bath, serve him a hot meal. Then after he has finished and is in a better state of mind, ask what you will. Then the scripture is used in seeing what Esther did with the king just for him to reconsider what he had ordered (Esther 5 AMP). Yeah right! Did we not establish that Esther is a child? Did we not already establish that she had no clue as to what to do with any man much less her husband? And if you keep reading, she didn't ask him with the first dinner, or the second. What I wondered was, what happened afterward? I mean after the order was over and Haman was executed? Did Esther continue cooking her man's meals or did she have those servants do as they have been hired to do? And isn't that manipulative? Does a man appreciate a conniving woman? Is this seed sown and now her husband can be the same way? Is this the sort of thing a woman hopes the rest of her life must consist of in order to speak to her husband? Its ridiculous, isn't it? It sounds like a hard task to keep up with especially when a woman
never had to go through such foolishness as a single person living her life righteous before the Lord. Why would God make marriage hard for us? Answer: He wouldn't.

The real lesson in Esther for the purpose of Women's Day is the childishness of the king listening to the advice of princes. He got what he deserved. The equivalence of who he is. All of those parties and allowing for those who were not chosen to be king have control of the decision making, got him a wife that was equally yoked with his personality. She was a child easily to be controlled and manipulated. We saw this when Mordeccai told Esther what to do. He was no longer in that position to do that, but she adhered to his direction. The princes told the king what to do. They were not in a position to make that decree themselves and if the king knew his place, he would have put those princes in theirs.

When a woman accepts the proposal of a man, she must know that he has the confidence, assertiveness, and aggression to hold the position as being the head of her. He has some direction of where he would like to be and is appreciative of the help that she is able to give to get him there. If its all about him and he doesn't love her as Christ loves the church, and therefore should expect all sorts of trouble. Because this man will be asking advice of all sorts of matters that should be left to you, him, and God - only!

Women's Day (Part 3)

Realizing that Esther was a girl and having to learn along the way, is good reason to re-evaluate what you have been taught so that the application of those lessons in your life can get you out of error and back on the path of righteousness. Esther did not have it all right; however because of the righteous living of her Uncle, she was able to have favor with those who were in authority of her and then be chosen as the queen. Cooking a meal, did not get her there. If food is the way to a man's heart, you chose the wrong man. As
you may have already realized, appetites can change.

The last example I am going to use is popular among female ministers. It is the book of Ruth. The ministerial staff and guest speakers where I use to attend would have such glowing remarks about Ruth and Naomi. They gleaned from the good attributes in the book rather then expounding on some features that did not fare well for them. In so doing, it gives the listener a false sense of direction when trying to apply what was heard into practical living. So let's really break this thing down and get what is really useful from this book allowing the rest of the dross to be just that.

First, let's just please notice how little the Lord or practices of righteousness are used in this book. That in of itself should have the reader and all those ministering from this book doing so gingerly. It begins with Naomi's husband doing away with a direct command of God for the children of Israel to stay in the land. Because there was famine, Naomi's husband decides to do a big move of disobedience (Joshua 1:1-18 AMP). What was Naomi going to do, rebel? That would have been the difference between living and dying for Naomi. She followed along after her husband and brought her two sons as well. So that is disobedient act, number one.

In their travels they came upon a place that seemed habitable; however the people were idol worshipers and considered evil in the sight of God. These people came from the incestuous acts of Lot and his daughters (Genesis 19:30-38 AMP). They were called the Moabites. Naomi's sons grew up in this land and married Morabite women. God told the children of Israel not to marry foreign women (foreign to the things of God) because they would cause for them to turn away from the ways of the Lord and to do things that were not pleasing to God. Naomi's sons grew up in this land and married Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. This is disobedient act, number two.

Because of these two disobedient acts there were direct consequences. Naomi's husband died. The Word tells us that her son's married these Moabite women and then they died as well (Ruth 1:1-5 AMP). Here is where a lesson can be taught that I have not heard and possibly others as well. Seeing that when a woman marries, she becomes one with this man, it would be one of those helpful times for a woman to speak up when her husband is hell bent on causing discord in her house. If it is not apart of the culture for the woman to speak, there is nothing the matter in her praying so that God hears her prayers and has mercy on the disobedient acts of her husband (James 5:16 AMP). You don't think this is possible? What about when Abigail hurried and pleaded for the evil acts of her husband, Nebal to David. David had mercy on that man's life (1 Samuel 25:3-32 AMP). Would God have less mercy then His own creation? If you know what the right thing is to do, even if your husband doesn't, you can make change happen through is written.

Now lets see the decision of Naomi and Ruth trying to make some sense of what has happened to them and where should they go from here. Naomi comes to the resolve that she needs to be with her family. She knows of nothing else but from where she came. Orpah thinks the same thing. She doesn't know anything else but where she has lived all her life. The big decision came from Ruth. She has decided to move to a land where she has only heard about by being with her husband and her husband's family. Ruth essentially shows, not what Naomi has taught her but how much she picked up being one with her husband, Naomi's son. He cleaved to his wife and because of that, we see how Ruth responds to her mother-in-law and how she received direction even when she has her own needs and has her own ways of the Moabites (Ruth 1;11-16 AMP).

What are the ways of the Moabites? Well, look at Abram and his family. They were liars and thieves. God was limited in blessing Abram because of his surroundings. His environment was conducive to what he has always known, to lie and steal. Those are not characteristics of God. So when God told Abram to leave his kinfolk and go to a land where God would show him, Abram brought Lot with him (Genesis 12: 1-4 AMP). In those travels, Abram sought how he could keep himself safe. He lied about Sarai being his wife. Notice how he didn't hesitate when Sarai offered her concubine to birth his first child. That's his personality showing. Also see how when he had his son Isaac that when he was grown, he used the same lie as his father. Lot, Abram's nephew, while they lived in Sodom and Gomorrah, he had a separate home where his wife enjoyed that sort of lifestyle. We didn't hear what Lot thought; however, he was one with his wife so how much more different could his opinion have been when his wife turned to look at the city she loved just before turning to salt? The other thing that strikes interesting is the character of his daughters. Why was their thinking so limited where they became afraid that there would be no men on earth and they would never have children? Then the entertainment of that thought branched off into the corrupted solution of having sex with their father after they get him drunk in order to fulfill their need to impulsively have children. This is a synapse of what made up the character of the two groups: the Ammonites and the Moabites. To further the selfishness of the people, see how Abraham realized that peace could not continue with him being with his nephew. Abraham showed him both sides of the land giving Lot the option to choose which ever side he would like to reside. The Word tells us even after all that Abraham did for him and his family, Lot chose the better of the two for himself (Genesis 13:1-14 AMP). This is the root of the feud happening in the Middle East to this day.

Now that you have a basis of what Ruth's normal is, let's also see why she would rather be with Naomi to a place she has never been as opposed to going back with Orpah. Remember, Naomi's family came out there because of the famine in Bethlehem, Judah. Ruth still made up in her mind that's where she wished to be as well. Here is where, the ladies of the church begin all of the accolades for Ruth and being loyal to the only mother figure that Ruth has. Let's get real! Ruth is trying to get the same sort of husband she had and knows if she sticks with Naomi, there are to be more of them. Ruth can't get in there any other way but with Naomi. Its not pretty, but we have already established the type of personality Ruth has been around her whole life. She will show her true self further in the passage.

When Ruth was introduced to Boaz, you wouldn't think that Naomi was at the ready plotting to get her daughter in law married off. The scriptures allows us to read how Naomi was thinking but unless you see closely, you won't notice Ruth showing her Moabite ways. When Naomi told her to stay close to the maidens, you see that Boaz told her to do the same thing. However when she came home to her mother-in-law, she said Boaz told her to stay close to the men. Its almost as if Naomi paused for a moment. She knew her family would never have said such a thing. Why not prove Ruth wrong or better yet, kick her out of the tribe altogether so not to spread those ways among her people? Instead, Naomi says nothing. She corrects her and moves to the next stage of her plan. She cleans Ruth up and tells her where she should go in pursuant of Boaz. Ruth finds Boaz in the silo either passed out or just asleep. Most women would leave but Ruth lays at Boaz's feet. When he wakes up, he knows what would happen if any of the villagers sees her leaving this man's property at that hour. They would assume she is promiscuous and have her stoned to death. But Boaz had to think quickly and have her not to leave empty handed as if she came to borrow a cup of sugar. When she came back to Naomi, she saw that Boaz protected Ruth's honor. Later, we see how Boaz finagles his way in being able to marry Ruth even though he is not the next in line to do so. If you don't believe me, look it up!

The lesson here should be to let young women know if you start scheming to get your own way, that's seed sown for you to keep doing it. Its so much unnecessary work when trusting in God is so much simpler and better. All Naomi needed to do was pray and teach her daughter in law to do the same. I wonder about a ministry who would teach otherwise based on the book of Ruth.

Women's Day is a day where we not only allow honor where honor is due, we also teach about examples in
the scriptures for our young ladies to see what to do and not to do. How did these women fare and where was the root of it all? Esther did well because of the prayers of her Uncle. The Proverbs 31 woman is an extraordinary example of a woman who has her family's best interest to heart, knowing who she is in Christ and making Him first in all things. Ruth is not a woman of nobility. She had a dog-e-dog mentality and if it weren't for Naomi, she would have been killed within the week of their return. It was Naomi who had ears to hear and redirect Ruth's attempts at getting her man any way she can.

Is it different from what you have been taught? More then likely; nevertheless, study the verses for yourself so you can know the truth and it can give you the liberty that is available for us all. Amen?