Pigs’ Snouts And Beautiful Women

Walt Disney and Looney Toons popularized the idea of pigs as cute and lovable critters. But Jews of ancient Israel despised them as one of the species that Yahweh declared to be unclean (Leviticus 11:7). Therefore, you can imagine their shock and horror at this proverb of Solomon’s:

As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout
So is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion. ~~Proverbs 11:22 (NASB95)

As you can see, Solomon contrasts lovely things with things which completely ruin their beauty. Golden rings, even today, are precious and highly valued, so naturally Jews would deem them as incongruous with the noses of filthy swine. If the image repulses 21st Century Gentiles, surely it would have repulsed Solomon’s original audience. And consequently they would have seen his point even more vividly than we do. Plainly, a lack of discretion destroys any beauty in a woman.

The word “discretion” generally denotes a sense of modesty and appropriate behavior. Scripture teaches that Christian women should cultivate those qualities. For example, take a moment to look at 1 Timothy 2:9-11 and1 Peter 3:1-6. It’s interesting that both passages indicate a relationship between how women ought to dress and how we ought to act.

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The Gospel Christmas Teaches

I designed this quotation of Hebrews 1:1-3 as the front of the Christmas card that John and I are giving to our Personal Care Attendants this year. I wanted something unexpected — something a little more difficult for them to gloss over. Something that pointed to the deity of Christ in a way they may have never considered before.

As I worked on the graphic, wrestling with it for about an hour to keep the darker areas of the gradient from blending into the background, I read the passage several times. Although I’d originally intended on emphasizing the first and second verses, verse 3 captivated my attention. Amid testing colors and printing out samples to check how the graphic looked on paper, I grew increasingly amazed by how the writer of Hebrews moved from the sufficiency of God’s Word to Christ’s Incarnation to the atonement and resurrection in three verses. What a wonderful way to present the Gospel in a Christmas card!

The more I thought about this little fragment of God’s Word, the more I wanted to write a blog post about the rich teaching it contains. The writer’s economy in condensing the Gospel message into just three verses encourages me to remember the simplicity, and yet the profound magnificence of our Lord and Savior. We celebrate His birth precisely because He is the glorious One described in this beautiful introduction to Hebrews. So let’s spend a few minutes enjoying the teaching in this small portion of God’s Word.

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When Christmas Isn’t All That Merry

The lights on the tree had always heralded the joyous news that Jesus, the Light of the world, had come. But on December 25, 1989, they seemed intrusive, and I stared at them resentfully. That year, I just wanted Christmas to go away.

Only a week earlier, my beloved friend Bob had lost his battle with AIDS. Oh, I understood that he had gone to heaven, having repented of his homosexuality and placed his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In the best way possible, God actually had given him the ultimate healing by taking him. It just wasn’t the healing I had demanded in my prayers. It wasn’t the Christmas miracle I so wanted God to perform. While everyone around me was having a holly jolly Christmas, I felt empty.

Some of you reading this post may experience such feelings this Christmas. Maybe Covid took a loved one from you this past year, and your dinner table won’t seem full. Perhaps you’ve suffered a broken engagement — or worse, a broken marriage. Maybe one of your children has turned away from Christ. Many tragic things can make the Christmas season anything but merry and bright, so that the tinsel garnishing your tree becomes nothing more than shredded aluminum foil. As much as you love Christ, this year all joy is gone.

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Throwback Thursday: The Wonderful Message Of Christmas — And Why People Work So Hard To Obscure It

Originally published December 12, 2019

2015 Christmas

I personally know many non-Christians who just love Christmas. They’ll decorate their homes to the hilt, send out beautifully illustrated year-end newsletters wishing people peace and joy, and maybe even put up a cute nativity scene as an homage to the story of the first Christmas.

For them, Christmas is primarily about brightly wrapped presents, feasting on scrumptious food, and parties. Songs mentioning benign infants lying in mangers must be supplemented with other songs about jingling bells and an obese elf from the North Pole who sees us when we’re sleeping. And then there are the infamous office parties and their accompanying innuendos about who was nice and naughty.

Most of all, they’ll declare that Christmas is about children. Not so much about a specific Child, although some might give Him an obligatory nod, but children and their sense of wonder during this seemingly magical season. Visions of sugarplums dance in secular heads that watch children light up with joy at this most wonderful time of the year.

The secular traditions seem to increase every year, conveniently distracting culture from the powerful message that God became flesh and dwelt among us. Babes in mangers, after all, had better keep their place — especially that Baby!

Sometimes it’s difficult for Christians to understand why others work so hard to obscure Christ while celebrating Christmas. Let me suggest that acknowledging the Lord Jesus Christ for Who He actually is threatens those who deny His authority over them.

Please run Colossians 1:15-20 through your brain for a few minutes.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. ~~Colossians 1:15-20 (ESV)

Think about this passage and its richness in portraying the Lord Jesus Christ as the Creator and Sustainer of this universe, from the vastness of outer space to the complexity of a single cell. Then remember that He became a Man in order to shed His blood on the cross to pay for our sins. Those of us who have experienced His love and grace rejoice that the Most High descended to earth to reconcile hopeless sinners like us to Himself.

For us, the wonder of Christmas comes as we contemplate Christ’s humble Incarnation against the backdrop of His majesty. The more we understand His deity and bow to His authority, the more we rejoice in His mercy to shed His blood for the remission of our sins. And therefore we celebrate Him as the glorious Christmas message!

That Baby in this manger was actually the Lord of all creation. Yes, even of created men and women who want to reject His claim on them. The world may try to obscure Him with magic reindeer and boughs of holly, but one day His light will obscure everything but Himself.

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Abortion To Save The Life Of The Mother

13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. ~~James 3:13-18 (NASB95)

Who could, in good conscience, insist on bringing a pregnancy to term if doing so would cause the mother to die? Wouldn’t the mother’s death also result in the death of the unborn baby? Perhaps not always. But probably in most cases. Truly pro-life people would want to save one rather than let both mother and baby die.

Truly pro-life people also know that abortions for this reason occur very rarely. According to Table 2 in an article on why women have abortions in ScienceDirect, 3.8 women in the United States during 2004 cited “the health of the mother” as the reason for ending their pregnancies. At first glance, that statistic may surprise you, perhaps even challenging your stand against Roe v. Wade. Should we endanger 3.8 American lives simply to overturn a 1973 court decision? Do we really consider unborn lives as more valuable than the lives of women? That sort of attitude doesn’t sound very pro-life. Critics of the pro-life movement, in fact, raise the question of abortion to spare the mother’s life precisely because it indicates hypocrisy on the part of those who oppose abortion.

I want to refute this line of argumentation on two fronts: from logic and from the experience of a personal friend.

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Fairytale Weddings And Happily Ever After Marriages

A romantic proposal and a sparkling diamond ring have a way of filling the mind with thoughts of a long white gown and a church full of flowers. Most girls dream of their wedding day, usually taking mental notes as they attend weddings of friends and family members. Once they say yes, they have a thousand things to plan and organize. Her day to be a fairytale princess is finally arriving, and she has so many details to work out to make her special day perfect.

Weddings indeed should be beautiful. Throughout the following years, couples should look back on their wedding days and remember both their vows of commitment to each other and the joy they experienced as they looked into each other’s eyes and promised to love, honor and cherish as long as they both shall live. In the weeks leading up to her death, John’s mom repeatedly showed me her wedding album, wistfully recounting her happiness. John and I watch our wedding video each year on our anniversary to laugh about his struggle to lift my veil, to relive the intense romantic feelings and to recall the promises we made before the Lord. Certainly, weddings must be such special events that we never forget their wonder.

Sadly, many women invest so much thought and energy into weddings that they neglect to prepare for marriage. Oh, they attend the required premarital counseling sessions with their pastors. Usually. But they don’t always really pay as much attention to those sessions as they pay to the wedding coordinator. After all, the Lord has brought them the perfect guy. What could go wrong? Better to focus on orchestrating the perfect wedding…right?

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Why Are You Depressed, My Soul?

Depression can cripple the emotions, sometimes so severely that everyday functioning becomes overwhelming. In the worst cases, a Christian suffering from depression could require Biblical Counseling with an ACBC certified counselor. We mustn’t minimize the fact that circumstances can often engender feelings of hopelessness.

In most situations, however, the average Christian has the resources to combat depression in Scripture and fellowship with other believers. She can receive Biblical counseling by reading the Word and talking with mature sisters who know how to correctly apply the Word. Scripture provides a treasure trove of passages to assist us in working through a wide range of emotional problems, but depression is especially prevalent due to the many ramifications of Covid as well as the approaching holidays. With those factors in mind, it seems appropriate to focus on how the Bible addresses this emotional battle.

To demonstrate how you can utilize the Bible during times of depression, let’s look at Psalm 42. (Click this link to read the entire psalm.)

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Psychology And The Question Of Scriptural Authority

The atheist wanted nothing to do with the Christian perspective on depression. She knew what secular psychology teaches and what medical doctors believe. Convinced that professional counselors alone possess the qualifications to address an issue like depression, she publicly ridiculed the possibility that habitual self-pity could be a root cause of depression. When I stated personal experience of overcoming depression by repenting of self-pity, the atheist reacted angrily, interrogating me about my credentials and scolding me for suggesting a link between the two conditions. Her rage surprised no one.

When Christians who have studied both secular psychology and Biblical counseling raise our objections to psychological approaches, all too often we are dismissed as uneducated idiots who have absolutely no right to our beliefs. The atheist will demand that we have clinical training according to secular standards, as if secular standards supersede Biblical truth.

For the atheist, secular standards indeed seem authoritative. I get that. Someone who rejects God quite naturally would reject the authority of God’s Word, and Christians shouldn’t expect otherwise.

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Understandable Assumptions Don’t Mean Correct Understanding

My friend pointed to the girl across the room, acting as if I’d never noticed the severity of the girl’s Cerebral Palsy. My friend balked at the announcement that the girl would be baptized that evening, but not because she suspected the girl hadn’t really placed her faith in Christ. On the contrary, my friend knew that baptism signifies repentance from sin, and consequently wondered why we wanted to baptize her. She whispered critically, “Why does someone like her need to be baptized? How could someone that disabled possibly sin?”

I sort of understood my friend’s perspective. Like me, the girl was a quadriplegic, but she didn’t have the ability to type with a mouthstick or headstick. Like me, she had an extreme speech impediment, but I was really the only one who could decipher her grunts and facial expressions well enough to translate for her (thankfully my speech was clear enough for me to do so). Outwardly, the girl appeared to have few desires beyond skipping her peanut butter sandwiches in favor of dessert. How could someone that disabled possibly be considered a sinner?

I knew better. Having grown up with her at the school for disabled children, I knew quite well of her strong will and intense desire to have the social advantages that I enjoyed. Sadly, her learning disability prevented her from being mainstreamed part-time into regular school, and her unintelligible speech kept her from meaningful friendships — even with other disabled kids. Yet she definitely knew what she wanted, and she had no problem expressing her frustration in violent outbursts.

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The Most Important Aspect Of Dealing With False Teachers

For years, I researched several popular false teachers (most notably Beth Moore) with the motive of helping women escape their deceptions. To a point, that research benefited me, and hopefully benefited some of my readers. I still appreciate the bloggers and podcasters who keep up with these teachers and faithfully warn against them. Doing so requires a lot of time and effort, usually incurring a lot of abuse from followers of false teachers. When this form of discernment ministry is done properly and with a right attitude, it can be worth the persecution just to save one person from the lies that could damn their souls (Jude 22-23).

Aging with a physical disability has significantly reduced my desire to research false teachers, however. I now leave that work to people with more stamina. Oh, I might occasionally pop out a blog post alerting readers to a dangerous teacher, but I doubt I’d make it a regular practice. And the Lord has convinced me to compliment the ministries of those courageous bloggers who name names by teaching women discernment through sound doctrine.

This past month I’ve been reading 2 Peter, an epistle known for its teaching on handling false teachers (Chapter 2) and unbelieving scoffers (Chapter 3). Over the past few days, Chapter 1 has caught my attention, as Peter lays a foundation for the bulk of his epistle by encouraging his readers toward God’s Word as the source for knowing God. Interestingly, during this week’s Bible Study reviewing Colossians at our church, my pastor emphasized that Paul’s approach to refuting false teachers hinged on teaching right doctrine. The best way to spot false doctrine, he said, is to saturate oneself in true doctrine. Between 2 Peter and my pastor, I learned that the most effective approach to dealing with false teachers comes from knowing God through His Word.

Peter begins his second epistle with one of my favorite passages.

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