Posts Tagged ‘encouragement’

God brought a woman named Margaret into my life just before my mother died. He knew I would need the continued encouragement and mentoring of an older woman, a woman who would be an example of faithfulness, kindness, and self-control. In the years after my mother’s death, I was challenged in my vocations of wife, mother, and national president of Lutherans For Life. Margaret could always be counted on to listen, ask questions that helped me to think, and influence—not with her feelings, but with the Word of God.

A few weeks ago, Margaret’s daughter called to tell me that her mother was nearing the end of her earthly life. It was ok. Margaret, nearly 90, was looking forward to leaving this world behind and going home. Satan, however, couldn’t stand the thought of losing one more soul to heaven, so he visited Margaret now and then to see if he could tempt her. “We both know my mom’s faith,” Margaret’s daughter told me, “but I think now would be a good time for you to write her.”

And so, without letting Margaret know her daughter’s request, I spent Friday, December 8 writing the kind of comfortably honest letter she would have written to me.

My dear friend, Margaret…

I miss you! I miss our meaningful discussions about the Lord of our lives and why we must cling to Him. I miss the encouragement we have always given one another.

It has been my deepest desire to come see you and spend another one or two wonderful days together. I’ve wanted to do that ever since our last visit when I was in your area speaking and stayed with you. Now, over two years later, I’m wishing I could quickly drive up to see you, talk with you, and share the love we both have in Christ.

Nine grandchildren keep me on the go. I’ve learned, as you learned before me, how important grandparents are. We can encourage and pass on wisdom in a unique way. Parents can be so overwhelmed with the day-to-day parenting. They need encouragement, too, and it helps them to know that their children have the added strength and guidance of grandparents.

You will probably not be surprised to know that I have started writing a second book. After the first book, The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity, I was asked by several parents, “So now what? Now that we know why our children are being sexualized, what can we do for them? How can we equip them to live in this world?” Margaret, I did not want to write the first book, let alone a second book! Then it came to me. I didn’t have to write it! There have been more than 50 pastors who have served on the pastors’ panels following my book presentations. Twelve of them accepted my invitation to help write the lessons for this book. I am assisting them… and serving as general editor. God is good to provide me with an assistant editor. You would like her! She is a young wife and mom who understands the need of our society for Titus 2 mentoring of biblical womanhood and manhood. This stay-at-home mom was in the perfect position to say “yes” when I asked her to help with this second book entitled Male and Female by Design: What Does This Mean?

Margaret, you and I talked about the most important message of my first book which is this: our identity in Christ matters! We are far more than sexual beings! With our Baptism, we become heirs and children of God because of what Jesus Christ has done for us! Our identity remains the same, no matter our age, health, or any other circumstance in life. You and I, Margaret, are daughters of God! Always and forever! Through water and Word, the Holy Spirit was given to us and He continues to work in us.

Our baptized identity cannot be snatched away! Our holiness and purity in Christ cannot be snatched away! Satan may deceive us. He may tempt us to believe that he has power over us, but he does not! He is the loser! He is the poor, pitiful creature that Christ has won victory over. You and I have talked about this so many times… and we must continue to remind one another of this truth.

This second book that I’m working on will help parents and their children better understand the importance of our baptized identity. Yes, it will teach what it means to be a boy or a girl. It will teach about biblical manhood and womanhood. But, even more so, it will remind both parent and child that with our Baptism, we have a barricade against Satan. Our Baptism isn’t a one-time “event” that serves no purpose for us as we grow older. Our Baptism makes us part of God’s family and connects us with Jesus Christ!

I so appreciate the book Afraid by Rev. Robert Bennett. He writes about the very real spiritual warfare that we experience on this earth. You and I have talked about this spiritual warfare… and it is something we engage in until we are carried home by Jesus. You and I can THANK GOD that no matter how arrogant or bold Satan might be, we’re the ones who hold power over him! With the life of our Baptism and with forgiveness of sins, Satan has lost his stronghold and peace is found (Acts 26:17-18). Rev. Bennett quotes Dr. Klaus Detlev Shultz, who says that the Sacraments of Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and Confession/Absolution “ultimately serve as a barricade against the perpetual onslaught of non-Christian elements on the believers.”

You and I both know, Margaret, that we are God’s daughters living in an alien and hostile world. I have seen how the Lord has been faithful to provide for you and help you endure very difficult situations. You have always been very private about your personal life, Margaret, but I know enough to recognize you as a daughter of God who has trusted her Lord and Savior in the toughest of times. You have pointed your children and grandchildren to Christ. You carried them to the Baptismal font and taught them who they are in Christ.

I hope that you are remembering your own Baptism. I hope that you are remembering that your identity is not found in your service to others, your youth, or your good health… but in your connection to Jesus Christ! We do not stop being God’s vessels on this earth. Even if we must move to assisted living or can’t drive our own car or can’t go help everybody else, we are still His instruments and He works through us.

When my big, strong farmer father-in-law was flat on his back and near death with a brain infection, he bemoaned the fact that he couldn’t serve us. I looked him in the eye and said, “But you are serving us! Helpless as you may feel, God is using you to teach us how to serve you and one another. He is teaching me to be less selfish, more patient, and trusting of His will and not my own.”

Oh, my dear Margaret, no matter where you are or what you can or cannot do, never forget that you are God’s own. If I could be sitting there with you, we could talk about Job. We could remind each other of what Job experienced and how God showed His faithfulness to Job in the worst of situations.

Job’s friends were of no comfort to him when he was suffering the loss of wife, family, possessions, and good health. Their ears could not hear and their eyes could not see the Almighty God. But the Almighty God had worked faith in Job that did not fail. When Job questioned His Maker, God said,

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were the bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? … Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion? … Do you give the horse his might? Do you clothe his neck with a mane? … Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars … Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes his nest on high?

Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it … Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right? Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?
(from Job 38-40).

Margaret, may you and I be like Job who answered: “I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth.”

May we continue to entrust one another to God our Father who calls us by name (Isaiah 43:1). May we entrust one another to our Father who bears with us, carries us, and saves us (Isaiah 46:4). May we live confident in our Baptism which makes us daughters of God and connects us to Christ on this earthly journey… and forevermore!

The timing of the letter I had been nudged to write was, well, God’s own. On December 17, Margaret was carried home by her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Driving to her funeral four hours from our home, I asked my husband, “Do you think the letter mattered?” The answer came from Margaret’s daughter. “She read your letter. She called for the pastor she trusted. There was peace.”

There was peace for Margaret in dying and there continues to be peace for me in living. It is the peace of the Lord that passes all understanding for those whom God calls by name.

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To be sure, men can be foolish, too.  Still, I am intrigued by the fact that the book of Proverbs calls attention to foolish woman.  As a woman, it seems appropriate for me to pick up on this — and ponder.

Light contrasts dark.  Hope contrasts despair.  God’s Word contrasts deception.  In Proverbs, God teaches the way of wisdom by contrasting it to foolishness.  So, I’m pondering the following verses.  And, I’m thinking of the hopeful difference women could make if they responded with wisdom in contrast to foolishness.

An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones”(12:4).

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down” (14:1).

. . . [A] wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.  House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord” (19:13b-14).

It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife” (21:9; 25:24; 21:19).

As long as women are deceived by the world, we will remain foolish.  Fretful.  Impatient.  We will fall to the idolatry of self.  Expect others to make us happy.  Blame them when they don’t.  Our houses will become cold.  Unwelcoming.  Without mercy.   But, there is hope.  There is always hope!

The remedy for foolishness is to be in God’s Word (Proverbs 2:1).  (All of His Word, not just the passages we like.)  Jesus Christ is the Word that brings people from darkness to light.  Sets captives free.  A foolish world is overcome by Jesus Christ.  One day, it will pass away and be no more.   For now, He commands the dawn to know its place and takes hold of the skirts of the earth (Job 38:12-13).  Evil, disguised as good, is being shaken and exposed.

If we want to be wise — even in the midst of those who think themselves sophisticated and progressive — we must know Christ.  Not just quote Him, but study Him.  Then seek to follow Him.  Turn away from silly myths.  Tell Satan to jump a cliff.  Be repentant for wrong choices of the past and begin to trust the Creator of our lives.  See the things of this world as Jesus sees them: False.  Puffed up.  Loud.  Arrogant.  Harmful.  Hopeless.

And, so, the wisest of women builds her house.  Her sphere of influence.  She trusts that God will meet her needs in unexpected ways.  Putting herself in His care, she is free.  To leave old ways behind.  Serve husband and children.  Encourage.  Build up.

May I — and all the women in my life — be like the adulterous woman who sat at the feet of Jesus.  Sins exposed and forgiven.  Eyes open.  The foolishness of the temporary exchanged for the wisdom of the eternal.

No longer foolish, may we be a refuge.  Our light burning brightly.  Our homes a welcoming place.

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The question is: “Who steps first into the circle of love and respect: The husband or wife?”

It helps to remember who created that “circle.”

God did.  And, true to His design, there is order.  God created human beings in His image, but He did not make them to be the same.  They are equal, but different.  God did not create woman at the same time as man, in the same way, or for the same purpose.  In fact, God revealed to man that he was incomplete.  “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18).  “Fit for him” literally means: “Like his opposite.”  (Think of this!  Anatomically.  Hormonally.  Psychologically.)

Is it significant that woman was made for man?  To complete him?  Be his helper?  Yes.  The created order shows that man was to be the steward over all and she would help, assist, encourage, comfort, and be his advocate.  (The word “helper,” by the way, is not dissimilar to the word used by Jesus to describe the Holy Spirit [John 14:16,26).  In her privileged role, she is free to help without any initiative on his part.  She doesn’t wait for him to ask before she offers encouragement, comfort, or good counsel.

God’s created order is a reflection of Himself.  He is one God, yet three persons.  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equal, but with different functions.  There is headship in this orderly structure… and there is submission.  The same is true with male and female.  Even after sin spoiled God’s perfect design, the order of creation remained in place for our benefit.  Sin broke man and woman’s relationship with each other and with God.  But, in mercy, God used the submission of the Son, Jesus Christ, to save His Bride, the Church, and serve with humility.  A woman might resent the created order.  A man might abuse it.  But, whenever it is honored, it continues to serve family and society well.

Doesn’t the created order beg the question from a leadership perspective?  Shouldn’t the man be the first to step into the Ephesians circle?  No, not necessarily.  Even if he is stepping out front to fight wolves at the door, she is fully engaged as his ally and encourager.  In God’s design, the man is responsible for bringing order out of chaos, but she helps that happen.  Regardless of their different functions, both husband and wife can practice loving and respecting at all times.

There is no measuring stick.  No fairness meter.  In a godly home, neither husband nor wife keep track of what the other does or doesn’t do.  Both have the same goal: To do all they do to God’s glory.  And, when they fail, they apologize and forgive.  Both take their sin baggage to the cross — and leave it there.

Visits to the Cross happen all the time even in the best of marriages.   Let me approach this from a woman’s perspective.  Helping is what I naturally do.  But, flawed by sin, this becomes difficult.  My husband might not think he needs help.  Might not invite help.  Might resent help.  Might interpret my help to mean he needs “fixing.”  So, how do I enter the “circle of love and respect” at such a time?  Hopefully, I haven’t disengaged from the “circle.”  Hopefully, I am faithful in offering encouragement.  If I need to help, but he’s too prideful to accept it, I need to take care.  Be sensitive.  I may need to move slowly.  Mary told Joseph that she had been visited by an angel with news of her pregnancy, but Joseph was of the mind to quietly divorce her.  In their “circle of love and respect,” Mary understood that it wasn’t up to her to convince Joseph.  She needed to wait on God.  In His time, God helped Joseph get his arms around the situation.  A woman is helping — in one way or the other — all the time.  She may be helping to good… or bad.  To build up… or tear down.  To encourage… or discourage.  To trust God’s plan… or shape her own.

Ultimately, two are better than one.  One may fall, the other lifts up.  One may be overwhelmed, a team of two stands firm.  One alone is cold, two together stay warm.  One might fall out of the “circle” momentarily, the other welcomes him/her back in.  Woven with God, both are able to engage in the “circle” freely and unconditionally.

The pure circle of love and respect is tainted on this earth.  We too easily think of ourselves first.  How we’re not being served… or how we’re doing all the serving.  But, challenged to “shine like lights” and “hold fast to the word of life,” we do what we do for Christ — even if it means being “poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of our faith” (Philippians 2:14-17).  Faith produces a sacrificial attitude for husbands and wives that frees us up to think less about self and more about other.

With this attitude, one might even forget who started, paused, stopped, or re-started the circle to go ’round.

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God gave humans great potential.  From the very beginning in the Garden of Eden, God had plans for His creation.  People were to have a perfect and loving relationship with God.  This would allow them to experience harmonious relationships with all other human beings.  But, sin destroyed perfection.

When Satan tempted Eve, he raised a question.  “Did God really say . . .” (Genesis 3:1).  He subtly turned Eve’s thinking, causing her to think that, perhaps, God was holding something back from her.  Adam and Eve rebelled against God, elevating themselves and their desires to compete with God.  Left to themselves, man and woman would have been forever alienated from God because of sin.  But, God didn’t give up on His beloved creation.  He provided the way back to Himself through His Son Jesus Christ.

Today, satan speaks through many disguises.

  • Satan hisses, “Did God really say that He created us in our mother’s womb?”  But, God assures us (Psalm 139:13-16).
  • Satan taunts, “Did God really say that He knew us even before we were born?”  But, God assures us (Jeremiah 1:5).
  • Satan tempts, “Did God really say that taking your child’s life is murder?”  But, God assures us (Deuteronomy 5:17).
  • Satan dares, “Did God really say that a woman doesn’t have a right to make decisions concerning her own body?”  But, God assures us (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
  • Satan sneers, “Isn’t your God a compassionate God?  Did He really say you should bear the burden of a child for the rest of your life because of one night’s passion?”  But, God assures us (Philippians 4:13)

Satan tempted the first man and woman to sin, but he wasn’t alone in bearing the responsibility for that sin.  Still today, he actively tries to seduce and persuade us with his temptation and accusation, but we can’t honestly pass our decisions off onto him.  Within each of us is a conflict of desires.  Galatians 5:15-21 explains the results of living by the desires of our sinful flesh.

Rev. Ed Fehskens, a trusted friend and pastor, writes, “A compassionate church will speak clearly and without compromise against the sin of abortion, cutting through the rationalizations that people use to convince themselves it was the right — and only — thing to do, considering the circumstances.  For the love of souls, we must also say that beyond the emotional and physical damage, abortion, like any sin, causes grievous spiritual harm.  Unrepentant sin places us in danger of losing our salvation — the greatest tragedy of all.”

Here’s the Good News!  Trusting in Christ and looking to His Word for life, we are moved to thoughts and actions that serve and honor God.  And, after repenting of our sin — no matter what that sin might be — we are received into the arms of our Father God because of what Jesus has already done for us on the Cross.  We are forgiven!  We are new!  We can start over!  (Psalm 32:3-5; John 8:10-11; Peter 1:3; 1 John 1:9)

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Marisol Valles Garcia is a 20-year-old mother of one child.  In November of 2010, she became the police chief of Praxedis G. Geurrero, a small town near Ciudad Juarez which is Mexico’s most violent city.  Marisol is a criminology student who says she loves the town of Guerrero where she’s lived for ten years.  She was offered the chief’s job a year after her predecessor was murdered.  This quiet farming community has turned into a “lawless no man’s land” into which, it appears, no man is willing to step.

Two rival gangs, Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels, battle for control of a drug trafficking route along the Texas border.  Marisol, described as tiny but energetic, finds herself in the midst of this war.  She says she plans to hire more women, but “will leave most of the decisions about weapons and tactics to the town mayor, Jose Luis Guerrero.”  Marisol has two body guards, but chooses not to carry a gun of her own.

About the same time Marisol took the job of police chief in her Mexican border town, another woman “top cop” was murdered.  The CNN report on her death read, “One of a small number of women who have filled a void by becoming police chiefs in violence-torn Mexico was gunned down” in November 2010.  Hermila Garcia, 38, was not a mother.  She was a lawyer and willing to serve the people of Meoqui.  “Was she courageous or foolhardy?” asked CNN.

Several reports on these two women read the same.  The situation in the Juarez Valley along the Mexico and U.S. border has become so desperate that women are filling the void.

I am reminded of Deborah.  She was a prophetess and judge filling a void during a desperate time in Israel’s history.  She sent for Barak, the son of Abinoam, and said to him, “Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor . . . and I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand’?”  But, Barak replied, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.”  (Judges 4:4-16)

Deborah said, “I will surely go with you.  Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.”  Deborah went with Barak, but only as far as Mount Tabor.  She did not go down into battle.  She fulfilled her role by encouraging Barak and his troops with the words and promises of God.  The woman into whose hand the enemy general, Sisera, was “delivered” was Jael.  When Sisera was being pursued by the Israelite army, he fled to the tent of Jael.  Jael, the wife of Heber, killed the enemy general not with a sword or military weapon, but with a tent peg which was a common household item.  (Judges 4:17-22).

Marisol is a mother living in the midst of a Mexican drug corridor.  In a desperate situation, with no men stepping forward, Marisol is filling a void.  In doing that, she is a target for enemy fire.  No biological children of Deborah are mentioned in the passages from  Judges.  However, in a desperate situation with no men stepping forward, Deborah filled a void.  In filling that void, she did not position herself as a target for enemy fire but, instead, played a motherly role by encouraging and strengthening her people.

The question posed by Marisol and Deborah is this: When the enemy threatens a family or nation, a woman can step up to face him, but should she?

A long time ago, life in another quiet farming community was threatened.  Eve was tempted to engage the enemy.  Adam did nothing.  God’s order for His beloved creation was ignored.  What were the consequences?

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Remember when God’s people were taken captive by the Babylonians?  Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, took seige of Jerusalem and moved the people of God to live in his land.  These days, I feel as if people of the Word have been taken captive, too, but didn’t have to leave their homes, schools, churches, or places of employment.

The question is, how do we live in Babylon?  Some, intimidated into thinking “we can’t mix church and state,” are paralyzed into silence.  Some, feeling overwhelmed by powerful forces, pull back into the crevices of the familiar and safe.  A great many, believing themselves to have progressed out of God’s Word, have become like the Babylonians.

There are others, however, who are affecting a pagan culture — one heart and soul at a time.

We live where we live.  Here’s the question for me: How do I, as an ezerwoman (helper), make the greatest difference where I am and with what I have?  How do I affect a pagan culture — one heart and soul at a time?

Babylon, like America today, was a mighty civilization that tolerated opposing religions, thoughts and practices.  But, many Babylonians were good neighbors, friends and co-workers.  God placed me where I am and, although it may feel like I’m living in a strange and foreign land,  I think I’ll better affect good neighbors, friends and family whenever I remember who I am and live accordingly.

I am, first and foremost, a creation of God and a treasure for whom Christ gave all He had.  That is my identity.  It does not change with the circumstances of my life.  Trusting this identity, any semblance of racism melts away.  Trusting this identity, every human life — from conception to natural death — is valuable and worthy of respect.  Trusting this identity, I am free to be the “helper” God made me to be.

Do you know that the term for “helper” used in Genesis 2:18 (Hebrew: ezer) also applies to God in Psalm 70:5?  Jesus said to His followers, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.  You know Him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:15-17).   That Helper is the Holy Spirit.  The Greek for “helper” (parakletos) means “comforter” or someone who appears on another’s behalf (“advocate”).  Do you understand why I find no insult in being a woman?  In being a “helper” or “helpmate?”  As a helper, I’m in good company!

As an ezerwoman, I can help, encourage, comfort, and be an advocate for my husband, sons, grandsons, father, brothers, uncles, nephews, pastor, and every male with whom I work or fellowship.  I can help by choosing to build up the struggling men in my life rather than tear them down with disrespect or cutting words.  I can help by practicing patience when my husband needs a little more time to get his arms around a new idea (1 Peter 3:1-2).  I can help by speaking, dressing, and behaving in such a way that encourages men and boys to act chivalrous and godly (1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Peter 3:4).  I can help by using the model of Titus 2:1-5 with younger women.  I can help by contrasting “silly myths” (1 Timothy 4:7-10) with the “Way, the Truth, and the Light” (John 14:6).

Daniel found himself captive in Babylon.  He was educated in Babylon.  He was called to serve the king of Babylon.  But, he remained faithful to God in all things.  Daniel acknowledged that he was of no use to the wicked (Daniel 12:10).  That’s true for me (and you), too.    But as an ezerwoman who remembers her identity and clings to God’s Word for Life, I am encouraged to encourage, joyful to share joy, and strengthened even in a strange and foreign land with faith, hope, and patience.

You know, when I think about it, I’m happiest when I’m helping.  I’m more content when I’m encouraging others.   Perhaps God is showing me the best way to live out my days in Babylon.

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“It is not good,” said the Lord God, “that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18).

Let’s assume a Biblical understanding of the word “helper.”  A “helper” (Hebrew: ezer) is defined as being an “assistant” or an “ally.”   Perhaps most significantly, it is a description of God Himself.  Before Jesus returned to heaven, He promised His disciples that He would send “another Helper” (John 14:16).  That “Helper” is the Holy Spirit who is described as a “comforter” (Greek: parakletos) or someone who appears on anothers behalf.  Some commentaries speak of the Holy Spirit as an “encourager.”   The Holy Spirit imparts truth.  Builds up.  Strengthens.

I am not demeaned or offended to be a “helper fit for” man.  There is order and purpose to everything that God does.  God is order, the opposite of chaos.  The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, yet the three are equal.  The Holy Spirit is not inferior to the Father or the Son, but plays a different role.  Lives are affected through the power of the Spirit’s presence as He helps, comforts, and encourages.

In the created order, woman is not inferior to man but plays a powerfully different role.  Her presence and the way she chooses to use her natural power affects the lives of others.

Will she choose to use this power to discourage or encourage?  To bring pain or comfort?  To tear down or build up?

Man was created to be a good steward over all the earth, a defender of life, a tender covering over his wife, and the mentor of children and grandchildren.  But, he can’t do this by himself.  He needs the Word of God.  After that, he needs a helper.  That helper, said God, is woman.

How a woman helps, especially in her vocation as a wife, is explained by the way in which the first woman was made.  “The rib that the Lord God had taken from the man He made into a woman . . .” (Genesis 2:22).   The Hebrew word for “rib” is commonly used for a structural component related to the side of something.  When speaking of a building, it may mean a pillar or beam.  But, when used in reference to a person, it generally means a “rib bone.”   In the structure of our anatomy, the rib guards the human heart and breath of life.  Martin Luther called his wife, Katie, his “rib.”  I am my husband’s rib.   The rib is a strong bone, but it is also easily fractured or broken, especially when under attack.  Women — and the men that women love — are vulnerable in a sinful world.

In this fallen and difficult world, a woman helps her husband by being a pillar supportive of his personhood and his vocations.  Those vocations, or callings, include his stewardship, fatherhood, employment on behalf of family, and respected place in community.  How does she do this, yet remain fearless in the face of her own vulnerability?

She clings to her identity as God’s creation and the treasure for whom Jesus Christ gave all He had.  This identity never changes, no matter the circumstances.  Some women think their identity is found in being a wife, mother, teacher, musician, care-giver, or friend.  Some find their identity in their appearance, popularity, or health.  All of these vocations and circumstances are in a constant state of change.  Our identity as God’s creation and the treasure of Christ never changes… no matter if our children grow up or we lose our job, best friend, or health.

When a woman trusts her identity in Christ, she is free to use her natural power in positive ways.  She doesn’t have to control the people or circumstances in her life, but can practice self-control for the good of her neighbor.  In a marriage, that neighbor is her husband.  She has the power to make or break or husband; to build up or tear down.

Some women know they have this power.  They make a conscious decision to assume control.  Some women are clueless about this power.  They may slowly and painfully destroy their husbands with cruel and insensitive words and behaviors.  Perhaps, feeling small, they try to build themselves up by tearing their husbands down.  Both kinds of women have the same core problem: Their foundation is unsure.  They have forgotten (or never been taught) their identity in Christ.   There is another woman.  She is keenly aware of the power entrusted to her by God; therefore, she strives to use that power for good.  She knows her identity is sure and certain, no matter the circumstances.  She turns outward from self to others and, in so doing, brings glory to God.

God’s Word in the book of Proverbs speaks of a woman’s power — and choice.   “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones” (12:4).  “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down” (14:1).  “A wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.  House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord” (19:13-14).

The power of a woman — the helper, pillar and rib — is life-affecting and life-changing.  Disciplined, it is awesome.  Undisciplined, it is dangerous.

Will a woman choose to tear down… or build up?  The answer to this question doesn’t only affect men.  It affects children — for generations to come.

This ezerwoman will continue to ponder and think aloud on the journey.  In the meantime, you’re invited to visit Titus 2 for Life.

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