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Sunday, February 28, 2010

saturday morning rescue

Yesterday, one of our kittens was missing.  My husband and I were concerned (we care about our pets) but we didn't feel the urgency our daughter did to do something right away.  Bundled in her coat against the winter morning, she went walking down our street, calling the kitty's name, and listening to hear from him. It wasn't long until she got a response; Porky was caught up in a neighbor's tree. How long he was up there we do not know.  He may have spent a very uncomfortable Friday night or maybe just a few hours on cold, bare branches.  But he was ready to get out of there and, hearing Autumn's voice, knew that compassion and salvation were near.  He was meowing for his little cat life.  After my husband hoisted Autumn up into the tree, she was able to reach the kitten and bring him down.  Not before she got scratched in the process, but then, rescuers usually bear scars, don't they?  And so, for a little kitty, a day that began in fear and bondage ended in food and a loving embrace.

What a great reminder of the love of our rescuing God!  He missed us before we ever missed Him and came looking, listening for us to call out to Him.  Disregarding the inconvenience and pain of the rescue, He reached out for us and brought us to safety in strong and tender arms.  The love my daughter has for her kitten is just a spark of the great blazing love God has for us.  He is all about rescue.  And we love Him because He first loved us and gave Himself for us.

In Ezekiel 16, the nation of Israel is compared to an abandoned baby that was rescued and lavished with extravagant love.  As the little girl grew into womanhood, she turned her back on her benefactor and sought other admirers.  But, He loved her while she wandered and when she was broken and despairing, He forgave her and restored her and made her lovely again. 

That is a picture of what God does for each of us.  And as women, we have a unique understanding of how God wants to cherish and protect us because that is the longing of every woman in human relationship.  How much more meaningful to realize that longing is but a glimpse into the heart of God and His loving plan for our lives. 

(for more study, see chapter 2 of
Reflecting Beauty: Embracing the Creator's Design,
releasing april 2010)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

the creation equation

In her book, Girl Perfect, former supermodel Jennifer Strickland talks about the feminine desire to be  validated by a man.  Speaking from her personal experience in the modeling industry, Jennifer relates how a woman feels valuable if a man affirms her but feels the opposite if he tells her differently.  The truth to her is his perspective of her.  Our culture is, of course, slanted toward unwholesome affirmation in this regard.

But, what about the positive side of this fact?  Why are women tuned in to the cues, affirming and otherwise, given by men?

I think we need look no further than the beautiful creation account in Genesis 2.  In this record of God's great work, we read that woman was created to be the prized companion to the man.  In I Corinthians 11:9, the Apostle Paul tells us that woman was created because of man. 

Despite the squawk of the femininists, God's Word indicates that woman was created to fill a certain place, not as a counterpart to man, but as a compliment to him.  This is not insult, but honor.  The top tier of the mighty pyramids was set last; it is neither as large nor as strong as the foundation, but it is the crowning touch and the peak which is seen for miles.  Indeed, Proverbs 12:4 says "an excellent wife is a crown to her husband." (NKJV) A king is known by his crown, and a woman has that power in the life of her husband. 

There is a great difference between equal worth and equal place.  How we should value the diversity exhibited in the way God created the two genders!  He, whose heart is pure love, could only create what is good and beautiful.  If our human relationships do not seem beautiful, we should look for another to blame.  And it will not be hard to see the Enemy's tracks.

Men are wired to appreciate and women are designed to desire appreciation.  It is the hand and glove pattern that we see reflected numerous times in our world.  God makes the complete set; He has no 2 + 2 = x equations in the natural world.  He could never leave a missing link.  The only factor we have to search for is His presence and He has promised that even then, if we seek Him, we will find Him. 

So, it is true that women are influenced by the gaze, words and reactions of the men in their lives.  It is a good thing designed by God.  The value a Christian man places on his wife is important because He is representing God to her and showing the love that caused Jesus to give His own life for us.  That's part of the mysterious and wonderful way that marriage represents Christ and the church.  And the desire and efforts of a Christian wife to please her husband are so profound because she is to mirror the devotion the church has for Christ.  It is a beautiful, reciprocal relationship with divine meaning. 

In a culture influenced by self and sin, the system often doesn't work properly.  That's why men and women seeking authentic relationships have to look to One whose eyes and words always convey truth.  When the attitude or behavior of either is twisted in the direction of self, the power of relationship becomes destructive.  And we have all felt the impact of painful relationships, whether our own or someone close to us.

How glorious that Christ continually beckons us to find the joy of relationship aligned with His Word!  He is the vital factor in every union. He supplies what is missing when we rely on His strength.  And the result of that equation fulfills and makes content because He fills in the gaps with His love.  Then we can more fully see for what we were made.

For more study on this topic, see Chapter 5 of the soon-to-be-released book
Reflecting Beauty; Embracing the Creator's Design.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

a pugilist's opinion

"Where do you find diamonds?  Deep down in the ground, covered and protected.  Where do you find pearls?  Deep down in the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell.  Where do you find gold?  Way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock.  You've got to work hard to get to them . . . Your body is sacred.  You're far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too."   -- Muhammd Ali
(More Than a Hero:  Muhammad Ali's Life Lessons Presented through His Daughter's Eyes,
Hana Yasmeen Ali, Pocket Books, 2000)

Biblical femininity is both sacred and radical.  It is beautiful in stunning and surprising and honorable ways.  At its very core is the recognition of its great value. 

" . . .a woman must not betray her mystery. She must be a guardian of purity, not staining her precious gift by flaunting her sexuality in the way she dresses, the way she carries herself, or by her thoughts, speech, or actions. Because woman has been entrusted with such a deep and profound mystery, and because her body and soul are so united, when she betrays her purity, she wounds herself very deeply." 

Womanhood is a sacred trust under which we are to live our lives.  Respecting ourselves and others in our appearance is the most obvious way we can respond to this call.  It shows how much we value our femininity.

“Womanhood is a call. It is a vocation to which respond under God . . . “
(Elisabeth Elliot, Let Me Be a Woman, Tyndale House, 1976,p. 62)

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