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

Breaking the mold of the reformed woman

Study ALL the words! Proverbs Pt. 5 April 14, 2009

Filed under: Bible,Proverbs — ashleylavalette @ 15:51
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Proverbs 31:19

 

 In this one verse alone, God is teaching us so many things.  I know it would not seem like it.  The first time I read it, I even thought that I should have combined it with verse 18, mention something about sewing, and then move on.

BUT, as Scripture says, ALL Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (1 Timothy 3:16), even the verses that seem on first glance like they are not saying a whole lot.

Another feeling that I had to fight was skipping past the word “distaff”.  After researching, I found out that a distaff is about three feet long and is used in the process of making thread.  One would wrap fibers of wool or flax around the distaff and the other end of the material would be connected to a handheld spindle.  The woman would tuck the distaff under her left arm and prop it up.  Then, in the other hand, she would hold the spindle, just as the verse suggests.  She would then allow for the spindle to spin, tightly gripping the fibers, twisting them together to form a thread.

When she was finished, all of the fibers from the distaff are wound together as thread on the spindle.  The thread could finally be used for sewing.  I did not realize that there were so many steps!
This action described in verse 19 involves the woman’s whole body.  She must keep the distaff upright and her hands must be trained in the art of spinning.

The most interesting detail of this verse is that the English “hands” in this verse is really two different words in the Hebrew.  The first word translated to the English “hands” is “Yad” in Hebrew and actually means strength.  She puts her strength to the distaff while her physical hands (“Kaph”) hold the spindle.

This has got to be a boring job.  Think of all of the different jobs that we have seen her do (and there are still more to come).  She has so many things going on – so many that she stays up to work while others go to bed (see Part 4).  But now we see her sitting quietly with the tedious job of making thread.

This very simplistic job is actually quite important.  If the thread is not ready to go, then the next step in the sewing process will be stalled.  Maybe others would not be able to do their jobs the following day.

I bet she had many more important things to do.  I bet she’d rather go do something else for herself.  I bet she is thinking of other things.

But she does the job.  She does not rush through it, doing a sloppy job.  She worships God even in this.  She does even the most boring job with a loving, glad heart.

We can find the antithesis to this in Malachi 1:13-14.  Here, the people did not find use in the ‘little job’ of an offering for God.  They hurried up and got through it, finding whatever they could to use as an offering, just to check it off the list.  You could say that they were just going through the motions.  If you read a little further in Malachi Chapter 1, you can find out God’s response.

Jesus is concerned with our heart, not our actions.  If our hearts are in the right place, then the actions will follow, just as they do for the woman in Proverbs 31.  She probably didn’t enjoy the tiring, boring job of spinning, but she loved God and her family.  Again, it was another way for her to serve.  If she would have done the same exact thing with a bad heart, she would not be an example to follow.  God is not tricked when we do something begrudgingly.

I have such a begrudging heart.  I do things based on my schedule and my mood.  If only I worshipped my Lord in everything!  How different even menial tasks would be!
I pray that God teaches us how to worship without ceasing and that He changes our hearts to want to glorify Him in even the most tedious tasks.

God, please teach me what real worship is.

 

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…”

 

“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

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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.