Not Just Pretty Flowers: A Reformed Girl and Her Masculine Theology

Breaking the mold of the reformed woman

Karfreitag April 10, 2009

Filed under: Articles,Bible — ashleylavalette @ 10:12
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Our “Good Friday” is called “Karfreitag” in German.  “Karfreitag” can be translated to “Grieving Friday”.  The “Kar” part actually comes from the jewish word “kara”, which means grief, sorrow, distress, etc. 

As I do most days, today I visited challies.com to read Tim Challies’ latest post.  He has been reading the book The Cross He Bore by Frederick Leahy and chose a very powerful quote from the book to speak about today…

“At Bethlehem, when the Saviour was born, the night was changed to day as the glory of the Lord shone around the shepherds. On Golgotha the day gave way to night as Christ sank deeper and deeper into the abyss of damnation. At Bethlehem there were countless angels praising God; on Golgotha legions of darkness filled the impenetrable gloom, hoping that darkness would finally triumph over light.

 Golgotha was so different from the mount of transfiguration where the Lord conversed with Moses, representing the law, and Elijah, representing the prophets (Mark 9:2-4). There, for a brief moment, the glory of deity broke through the veil of flesh, a fleeting glimpse of the radiant splendour of Christ when he comes at the end of this age “in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).

 Between the shining forth of glory at the transfiguration and the glory of the second coming, however, lies the heavy darkness of Golgotha.

 At the creation, God, at an early stage, introduced light. Yet now he leaves his Son suspended in darkness at midday…”

 

The Single Woman and the Modesty of Personal Restraint by Lydia Brownback April 3, 2009

Filed under: Articles,Uncategorized,Women's issues — ashleylavalette @ 12:25

Although it is speaking directly to single women, I believe this is also for married women as well.

This article was found on the following website: http://www.thisisnext.org/webzine#article1

As the spring season blooms, talk about modesty heats up in Christian conversation as fast as the weather. Bloggers, radio hosts, and the rest of us lament the shorter hemlines, deeper necklines, exposed bellies, and bare bottoms in thong bikinis at the neighborhood swim club. But immodesty deals with a lot more than revealing too much skin. We are just as prone—if not more so—to overexpose what’s under our skin. Revealing too much about ourselves is immodest too. When Peter painted his picture of godly womanhood, it included outward modesty—how we handle “the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing”—but it also included the modesty of personal restraint—“a gentle and quiet spirit,” which, he said, is very precious in God’s sight (1 Pet. 3:4).

I wish Carrie had known the wisdom of Peter’s words. Fresh out of college and starting her first “real” job, she came to work each day eager to be part of the team. But after just two months of work, Carrie experienced a personal crisis, and it began to affect her performance. Carrie was never at her desk. Instead, she spent the better part of the workday pouring out her struggles to her colleagues behind closed office doors. Finally, a female colleague was asked to talk to Carrie and to put a stop to it. But Carrie didn’t understand. What was wrong with being open and honest? Were office friendships forbidden? “It’s not appropriate, especially with the men,” she was told. “After all, how would their wives feel if they knew you were pouring your heart out to their husbands?” Carrie had no boundaries because she lacked a “gentle and quiet spirit,” the modesty of personal restraint that Peter taught. Happily, Carrie learned through the experience and went on to cultivate a godly self-restraint.

There is a time and place to open up and share our sin struggles and personal concerns, and if we are careful to apply Peter’s words about the modesty of personal restraint, we will be wise not only about the time and the place, but also about the people we choose to share our hearts with. The book of Proverbs warns us, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (4:23). Along with this there’s general biblical call on all of us to love one another, which means that we are called to guard the hearts of others, too. We might be tempted to think that this verse is guiding us toward self-protection, but it is not. What we are called to guard is our heart—our passion—for God, and we do this primarily by holding at bay anything that would compete with that passion in ourselves or in those around us.

Sharing confidences and personal experiences with someone forms a bond. There is always an element of vulnerability when we choose to trust another with our confidences and with not rejecting us when our weaknesses are exposed. If we share a little bit with someone and all goes well, it seems safe to share more, and before we know it, a bond has formed. This can be a great blessing, but when we allow it to happen in the wrong context, it is unwise, and great hurt can result.

Single women are free to enjoy the company of single men, but there is a way to go about it that reflects Peter’s idea of modesty and keeps hearts guarded. Time spent in groups is always wise because group conversations tend to be less personal. The group dynamic provides a safety net for the heart. On the other hand, private conversations and e-mail chats lead naturally to bond-forming, and if you overexpose your soul in a relationship where there has been no stated commitment, you are risking the hearts of both involved. 

Single women are not free to enjoy the company of married men—other women’s husbands–in the same way they are with single men. This includes pastors. Pastors are our God-given shepherds, certainly, but many if not most are also husbands. We are free to take our concerns to them, but there is a way to open up that shows appropriate personal restraint.. It’s one thing to seek our pastor’s counsel, perhaps repeatedly. But there is a difference between a genuine need for his wisdom and our desire for his attention and involvement in our lives. Countless phone calls and endless e-mails are probably going too far. This is the point at which most pastors will wisely redirect us elsewhere.

Inward and outward modesty is also a must in the workplace, as we saw with Carrie. Many women today are likely to spend some portion of their lives out in the job market. This means that men in the workforce spend more waking hours with their business colleagues—a significant number of which are women—than with their wives. Those of us in the workplace ought to consider that one of the primary motivations for modesty is safeguarding the marriages of our colleagues. A low-cut blouse isn’t necessarily going to lead to an extra-marital affair; however, when we recall Jesus’ words about what constitutes adultery—“everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28)—we see the need to be extra careful about what we wear in the office.

Modesty of speech is also crucial in the workplace. Office banter can be a slippery slope. Working together is also a bonding experience, and, naturally, friendships arise. But because this is so, it is all the more reason to restrain what we share about ourselves with our coworkers. “Wait a minute,” we say, like Carrie did. “We’re just friends! There’s nothing wrong with that.” Oh, but there is. Sharing verbal intimacies with a man is the exclusive right of his wife. It takes something away from her when we focus her husband’s attention onto ourselves, however harmless our intent. The best of marriages takes work, and because of that there are certainly seasons in which a man can be especially tempted by an illicit attraction. The new and different is exciting to almost everyone, so even the most innocuous revelations about ourselves can prove distracting.

Of course, there exists the very real possibility that friendship with a man—a single guy or another woman’s husband—however innocent at first, will morph into something more. But if there is no commitment to accompany the attachment that has developed, or the attachment violates a commitment made to someone else, heart destruction is sure to follow. Believing that this can’t happen makes the possibility of it happening even greater. “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall,” Paul warns (1 Cor. 10:12). We’re not above it. None of us is. No one intentionally seeks out a destructive relationship, but they happen all the time. And they typically develop one conversation, one shared laugh, one lunch meeting at a time.

Are you as modest with your heart as you are with your clothing? It is a great way to love your brothers in Christ. It is also the best way to guard your heart and the reputation of your Savior. 


Lydia Brownback is the author of the On-the-Go Devotional series (Crossway); Fine China Is for Single Women Too (P&R, 2003); and Legacy of Faith: From Women of the Bible to Women of Today (P&R, 2002) and a speaker at women’s conferences. Lydia is an editor at Crossway Books, and she blogs at The Purple Cellar. Previously she served as the writer-in-residence for Reverend Alistair Begg and as the broadcast media manager for Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, where she produced The Bible Study Hour radio program with James Montgomery Boice. Lydia holds degrees from Syracuse University and Westminster Theological Seminary and resides in Wheaton, Illinois.

 

“It Smells of the Lamp” Proverbs Pt.4 April 2, 2009

Filed under: Bible,Proverbs — ashleylavalette @ 23:29
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Alright.  After our break, it’s time to get back to work.  Our next verse is Proverbs 31:18.

This verse seems out of place with what we have been talking about.  Is she full of herself in noticing that she is doing well with the products she is selling?

I believe that this verse is showing us that she is a woman with a calculated, organized plan.  Just as we learned from verse 16, she does not make decisions based on her emotions.  She has considered a strategy.  So, when she “perceives that her merchandise is profitable”, it is evidence that she is a good business woman.

The woman works hard through the whole process of her business, including the end result.  She does not work to pass the time frivolously.  Her investments yield fruit and she keeps a watchful eye on them.

This is also more evidence that she does not only start a project and leave it for someone else to finish.  The second half of verse 18 talks about her lamp not going out at night.  The woman does not lose focus!

Even after the sun goes down, the woman is still working.  Now, some might read this and want to scream, “She’s a slave!  She never relaxes!  It’s nighttime!  Give the woman a break!”  Scripture is not saying that the woman should never rest (in fact, just the opposite –  I believe that God demands that His people take a Sabbath!).  God is not saying, “Woman, work all day and then come home and do the chores.”

I believe that God is saying, “Woman of virtue, I see your hard work.  I notice how you take care of things, even as others sleep.  I know that the reason why you are still awake is because you love Me and you want to care for your family.”  Take note that the verses are not commands, per say.  Take a look at other places in Scripture like 1 Corinthians 7 or 1 Peter 3.  These are commands directed toward Christian women.

The verses in Proverbs 31 draw us a picture of a woman that all women should want to emulate.  The bottom line here is the woman’s heart.  She stays up, not because she is ordered to, not because she has to, but because her life is not her own.  Jesus Christ has called her to Him.  Her sinful self has been crucified with Him.  Matthew 10:39 says “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (ESV).

As John 12:26 says, she has been called to follow Jesus and that is why she serves Him the way she does.  God has been honoring her through the scriptures for thousands of years because of her service.

God, please teach the women who are Yours to serve in Your name.  I pray that You will draw to Yourself those who still own their own life and only work to serve themselves.  Please show us how to follow the example of this woman of virtue.

 

Get Your Hands Dirty, You Sissy! Proverbs Pt. 3 March 19, 2009

Filed under: Bible,Proverbs — ashleylavalette @ 20:06
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Proverbs 31:16-17

Here, again, we see how the woman who fears the Lord works with her family in mind. Verse 16 shows us a couple of things. First, we see an example of how her husband trusts her (verse 11). She is choosing, buying, and running a piece of real estate. Now, there is a lot that goes into buying property. One must know the value of the land, how much money they have, how to recognize a good price, how to purchase, etc. This woman must be knowledgeable. Also, do not overlook the word ‘considers’. She does not hurry and make a rash decision. She weighs the pros and cons. She thinks of all the ways that her decision will affect her family. She realizes that this is a huge decision. She is responsible for the outcome.

The second half of this verse points out that she follows through with her plans. She is not an irresponsible dreamer. She does not leave the dirty work for someone else. She does not get bored and move on to another project. And maybe the most important – she does not start all of this and then assign tasks to her husband!!! This is her project from beginning to end. The goal of purchasing and growing a vineyard is definitely not to give her husband something else to do or work on. He already has a job (Again, to the single ladies: HE HAS A JOB! That is a conversation for another time, but that time will come!). She takes care of everything, including the manual labor of working the vineyards.

Verse 17 says “She dresses herself with strength” (ESV). I really like the Hebrew here, which means “She girds her loins with strength.” This verse teaches that a woman has no excuse to be a sissy. She is to get her hands dirty. She can lift heavy things. It’s okay (rather commanded here) to be in shape and to have a little muscle. So many women and women’s ministries love or hate this chapter in Scripture. They feel that the woman here is presented as the woman who is always barefoot and pregnant. Some hate it because they are ultra-feminists out to crush the sexist masculine culture. Some love it because it gives them another excuse to go get a manicure and watch soap operas all day. But verse 17 slaps both of these groups in the face. The woman here does the hard work.

One thing not to forget, however, is that the woman in this chapter is definitely not masculine or butch. We will see in a couple of verses that she is elegant and does keep up on her appearance.

I pray that God teaches us HIS definition of femininity. Also I pray that we will carefully and prayerfully and consider ways that we can invest ourselves for our families, whether we have one now or in the future. I pray that we learn how to be the virtuous wife and apply our knowledge in a greater scale to the church, who is Jesus’ bride.

 

Selfish Sleep – Proverbs Pt. 2 March 17, 2009

Filed under: Bible,Proverbs — ashleylavalette @ 18:16
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Proverbs 31:13-16

 

While it could be very easy to look at these couple of verses and conclude that God wants women to work outside the home and have careers, I think it would be profitable to look closer. Why of all things does the excellent woman seek after wool and flax? Well, both materials are used for clothing. Flax has a number of other uses including being an ingredient in medicine and food. She seeks for and works with these materials to take care of her family.

Just as a wife expects her husband to consider her in everything he does, so the wife should consider him. Her husband is the whole reason why the virtuous woman works in the first place. It is absolutely not because of her selfish aspirations. She is tied to her family, not her job. That means that if she had to, she’d walk away from everything – the years of education, the time used to train, the promotions – if it came between her and her family.

The goal in verse 14 is taking care of her family. Work is just a means to do that. Both of these verses describe a woman who is willing and determined. She understands that the goal is not necessarily her satisfaction. It is not about her career or her “me time.”

More evidence of this follows in verse 15. Her ultimate goal is taking care of her family. One can tell that she is determined because she gets up early in order to do it! Matthew Henry commentates, “Those that have a family to take care of should not love their bed too well in a morning.”

I think what’s so cool about this is that women have so many responsibilities. I am excited that God pushes us to do so much. Our families rely on us.

Now if anyone knows me at all, they know that I LOVE my sleep. I do know now after reading these verses that I choose it over the work that God is calling me to. I believe it is because I still don’t have the biblical goal of my family. Think about it. Sleeping in (not generally sleeping, but sleeping in) is selfish. It is lazy and cannot benefit anyone (even you, because you know with more than eight hours of sleep, you are just as tired as when you went to bed).

Again, single ladies cannot get out of this just because they do not have a family right now to take care of. You are to be preparing. Everything you do, do it for God first and your future family second. It does not matter if it is you education, career, dating life, etc.

This is so different from what our culture says is important. Culture says that every move we make as women should be dictated by how it affects us personally. School is to better my career and to find myself. When I make time, I will marry but the man must bend around my life. He cannot ask me to change myself. We’ll get to kids when I am ready to take off of work.

However, when I get out of the spotlight and my priorities become God first and family second, my course of action changes drastically.

 

Today’s verses are really challenging me. I pray that God will convict our hearts and rid us of our selfish ways.

 

Excellent Women are Rare – Proverbs Pt. 1 March 16, 2009

Filed under: Bible,Proverbs — ashleylavalette @ 14:35
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Proverbs 31:10-12

First, let’s just peek at the verses at the beginning of the chapter (1-9), since we are starting half-way in.  Here we find that King Lemuel writes what his mother has taught him.  Matthew Henry commentates that this probably is a nickname for King Solomon, who wrote the rest of Proverbs, as Lemuel actually means “for God” (Strong’s #03927).
The first time that King Lemuel’s mother speaks to him about women is in verse 3.  It sounds like a warning at first glance, but combined with verse 2, it looks more like a reprimand.  These women destroy men.  They have agendas.  They do not respect and they run the show.
Henry says that verses 10-31 could either be from King Lemuel’s mother to him to teach him what to look for in a godly wife or for her daughters after addressing her son in the verses before.
Either way, verse 10 says that an excellent wife is hard to come by.  The reason that jewels (rubies) are precious is that they are rare, as is an excellent woman.  Because excellent (virtuous) women are very rare, they should be prized and carefully looked after.  So many times women strive to be the excellent women that God is charging them to be, and the men around them do not treat them like gems!
I believe this has a tendency to spark a chain reaction.  Many men sin and are not the providers (not only financially, but spiritually and/or emotionally) that they are supposed to be (check out 1 Timothy 5:8, Ephesians 5:25, and Colossians 3:19).  Women have a tendency to retaliate with sin, most likely some form of disrespect and power struggle.  This is in the opposite direction of Christ’s vision to make them excellent.
If the wife disrespects her husband and struggles with him over leadership, then he cannot trust her, which is exactly what verse 11 says he should do.
The point is that if a woman who strives to be holy marries a man who does not love her the way Christ does, as a jewel, then she already has a handicap on the road to being virtuous, and we are not even fully into the second verse of this section!
What this means for a godly single woman is that they should have the highest BIBLICAL standards for the men that they date and eventually marry.  The Bible has these standards for a reason and there are absolutely no exceptions.  Again – you are not the exception.  The man in a woman’s life has direct influence over her and her walk with Jesus.
Now for those who are married and their husbands are not taking care of them the way that they are called to do by God, you are still called to submit* to the authority of your husband, just as the Church submits to Christ’s authority (Ephesians 5:22+).  Also, pray for God to give your spouse a repentant heart.  Authors J. Ligon Duncan and Susan Hunt (see post #1 for book info) emphasize that “the failure or weakness of male leadership does not absolve us from our responsibility.  We are to run to the Author and Perfecter of our faith with our hurts, wounds, and disappointments” (Women’s Ministry in the Local Church, 52-53).  If a wife still has a respectful heart, even when her husband sins, she is giving him the freedom to trust her.  She is taking care of him and the second part of verse 11-12 is possible, “..and he will have no lack of gain.  She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”
To be honest, respect has sometimes been a tricky thing in my marriage.  I am learning (probably a little too slowly) that Jeff and I might have two different ideas of what respect actually means.  The bottom line is that if he does not feel respected, then I cannot argue with him and explain to him how he is wrong.  Believe me, I’ve tried it.  It does not work.
I think more than anything in those situations, when I argue, I show him that he cannot trust me (verse 11) to trust him to lead me.

I pray that God will teach us to be trustworthy women who learn to respect, even in times of frustration.
See you tomorrow.

 

*We will jump into what it means to submit to husbands in verses ahead.  This is in NO WAY condoning any abuse.  If you are in an abusive relationship, please separate yourself from the abuser and seek help from a pastor, Christian family member, or other form of counsel.

 

3 Guesses…but you’ll only need 1 March 13, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashleylavalette @ 04:44
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If we were to just start a new blog for women, and I wanted to start with a Bible passage, what passage do you think I would choose? I’ll give you 3 guesses, but you’ll use one. That’s right. Proverbs 31.

Now, I have to admit, I have a tendency to be a little like the cartoon character Daria from MTV. I tend to stand back and roll my eyes at anything that seems fluffy and surfacey. So when you hear about women’s groups going over Proverbs 31 yet again and letting out their she-man roar, or when you see the greeting cards at the store, it’s enough to make you want to just stop at Proverbs 30 and be done with it. It’s just always seemed to me like chapter 31 had a the perfect ultra-feminist “I don’t need no man” attitude problem.

But that is just my automatic response to how people have used the infallible, God-breathed Word, not the Word itself. I know that this part of Scripture is just as inspired, just as strong, and just as meaty as any other part of Scripture (especially Ephesians 5:22).

I also know that Scripture compliments Scripture, so we cannot put away one section when reading another. Every piece must fit together to show the picture of Christ. So what does Proverbs 31 teach? Let’s go through it slowly together…

Check back on Monday for the first part.