My Proverbs 31 Woman

“An excellent wife who can find?

She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.

Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.”  (Proverbs 31:10-31)

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her”. I am long over due!

The 13th of next month I will have been married to this wonderful woman 11 years. How do I describe her? In a word, Amazing!

If I chronicled here all she has accomplished, just since I have known her, most of you would applaud and perhaps a few of you would grumble that a woman has that much influence. Much of what she initiated, suggested, or orchestrated behind the scenes, she will not be credited for. But she didn’t do those things to improve her ego, trust me when I tell you, she doesn’t have a self-esteem problem.

When I read the passage where Paul mentioned and commended those “women who labored with me in the gospel” I always think first of Carol. I know no person with more ambition and determination to get things done for the kingdom. She is a driven lady who is just as ambitious in her singing, preparing for a house party, or getting help to people in need, she is an equal opportunity enthusiast. Only God can anticipate what she can facilitate!

Carol is a woman of vision. I have never known any person, man or woman, who can see the end of a dream long before I start to think. She just assumes nothing is too hard and if something is worth visualizing it is worth realizing. Again and again, I’m thinking, “That will never work!”, but it usually does work.

Hard work is her gait. God made this gal with her cruise control set on about 85. She thrives on getting tasks accomplished. And she is not bashful about recruiting others to help. I lovingly gave her the nick name “The Little General”. She has come close to making grown men run away screaming. As I told one friend who was her pack mule for the hour, “Just do what she says and everything will be fine”.

She is generous to a fault. Her heart and her hands are always open to those in need. Again and again I have seen her heart open and her hands busy to meet someone’s needs. I have seen her reach out in tangible ways to scores of people in amazing and creative ways to simply help. Her care for others is one of her traits I admire most.

Her ear is tuned to that still small voice. It is not uncommon to hear her say to me, “I just said that before I even thought about it.” Or “I believe the Spirit (of God) wanted me to do….” or “say ….”. And there is a couple with an adopted child, a husband with a godly wife and a one time widow with a godly man, and ….well you get the point I hope. From babies to marriages, singers and church vans, new ministries, and saying exactly the right thing to inspire hope in the hopeless, I am married to a woman who ‘walks in the Spirit”.

Loving is as natural as breathing. I have been loved in an amazing ways by this great woman, my wife. She loves her children and especially her grand children, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, old friends and new friends, the grieving, the poor, the lonely and the list goes on… They all are the objects of this great lover, My Carol Jane.

Am I bragging? You bet I am!

(Carol, when you read this, please know that I love you, honor you, respect you, and am excited to see what unfolds in all of our shared tomorrows for God’s glory.  Happy Anniversary!)


…On Spiritual Transformation

Spiritual Transformation is an important subject in the Christian community and rightfully so. One of the inescapable truths that serious church leaders must grapple with is the apathy of those who populate church pews on Sunday. Common knowledge is that perhaps as much as 90% of all the work in a local congregation is done by about 10% of the members. The numbers fluctuate a bit but this sad template applies to most churches and across denominational lines.

To say that “most” church members are content to show up once a week for a worship service, give some money, sing a few songs, listen to the preacher, and live much like their pagan neighbors the rest of the week is not a stretch. Since this is true, the challenge is how do we get “Mr. Joe Christian” transformed from nominal believer to an on fire disciple?

Based largely on the popular idea that more “activity” equals more “maturity”, many church leaders have simply opted to create more and more opportunities throughout the week for members to be involved. In my view, having committees,  ministry teams, and small groups staffed by people with little appetite or aptitude for God solves nothing. Unless church leaders are content with a church that operates like a civic club that methodology is not a good idea.

The apparent question then is how does “Spiritual Transformation” happen? There is no valid answer unless we first know “what” it is. The first thing we must understand is that it is a work of God.

“for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13)

This important text, understood in context, lays the foundation for any spiritual transformation of the believer. I invite you to read the prior 12 verses and you will see the Apostle’s plea for selflessness, putting the interests of others ahead of our own, and imitating the humility of Christ. The verse preceding  the one above gives the correct response to the knowledge that God is at work in us for His pleasure.

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12)

The often quoted phrase “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” is more often than not taken out of context and misapplied, putting “self”in the seat of power only God deserves to occupy. The “work(s)” we do are in the knowledge that our part of the equation is to humbly walk with God as He directs.

Paul’s absolute confidence in God’s ability to transform believers into the image of Christ should encourage each of us that in our own lives and the lives of those in our faith communities, God is at work!

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6)

It is God’s will, work, and purpose to transform every believer into the image of Christ. That work will be final at the resurrection. Until then we must cooperate, on purpose, if we want God’s best life now. We must not only know God is at work but we must do the work of a disciple, that is we must practice the disciplines of the Christian faith. Bible study, prayer, and interaction with other believers is essential to our growth.

A man is what he thinks. The remedy is to think right. The injunction of Romans 12 applies here.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1,2)

Two striking truths challenge us from this passage. First, we are to give our whole selves to God as a sacrifice. This is true worship! The implication is human effort alone is worthless to God. Secondly, we must have renewed minds. Unless, and until, we are no longer depending on the energy and resources of human flesh, and we begin to have minds filled with God and his purposes and not focused on our own agenda’s, there will be little “Spiritual Transformation”.

What then is the solution for the church at large? First, know and admit the problem. Our people have not been taught correctly. We have taught for centuries that more “church” related activity equals spiritual growth. Instead of a recipe for maturity this method often results in hypocrite church members.

Once we believe and admit the bankruptcy of human effort we must focus our personal and cooperate teaching and practice on the worth and work of God in us by the Holy Spirit. We must dethrone “self” and invite God to have free access to every facet of our lives.

More trust and less trying, less hustle and more humility, and ego crushing purposeful living and loving will open the door wide for God’s work in us and through us.



Valentine Gift Ideas for your Spouse

Do you want to give your significant other the perfect gift this Valentine’s Day?

Roses are pretty but have a short life at best. Candy is sweet but stays around and mostly in the wrong places, if you know what I mean.

A evening out for fine dinning in a romantic place is very sweet but fades to a memory far to soon.

Have you thought of giving these?

  • Be patient. It isn’t a good idea to make snap decisions. Listen more.
  • A little kindness goes a long way. Want some kindness? Give some.
  • Wait for others to compliment you, don’t do it for yourself.
  • Respect is rewarded in manifold ways. Give some.
  • Put your husband or wife first, and you will be first.
  • Quickly admit when you are wrong. It is an uncomplicated way to love.
  • Find joy in his, or her, accomplishments. It is OK to brag on your spouse.
  • Quickly forgive without waiting to be asked, and then live as if it never happened.
  • Be true, be truthful, expect truth, love truth, and seek it in all of your life.

You can’t love God and at the same time not love the one he gave you for life. Love always gives, always hopes the best, always trusts, always honors, always looks out for the best interests of others.

Love never fails. Give the gift that keeps on giving. Now go be a lover.



“Gospel” Up Close and Personal #2

The “gospel” is the story of Christ’s work on behalf of sinful people like you and me. I have been immersed in Bible language all of my life and for perhaps now over a half century have studied the scriptures, so this is very familiar language. And, I assume it is to almost all of my readers. But, it isn’t to everyone.

Let’s suppose I find myself conversing with a guy with no church background, who didn’t grow up in the South as I did, and was unfamiliar with biblical lingo. Who is Christ to that man? Who is he to you? Was he just another of the dozens of colorful characters whom we find on the pages of our Bibles? Was he only one of many teachers, rabbi’s,  or religious leaders of the first century in the middle east?

“Christ” died. He was the Messiah of God foretold by the prophets of old, the One who would come to save the people from their sins. He was the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world of whom John the Baptist preached. He was the One whose birth announcement said “God with us!”. He had no human father, he was conceived in a young virgin’s womb by the Holy Spirit of God. He was both man and God.

He is the Creator of all that is and by His power every molecule keeps it’s assigned place. He  is the exact representation of the Godhead and the fullness of His glory. Before the earth was formed He is. He humbled himself and took the lowly place of a man, perfectly kept all of God’s laws, and though tempted as we are, never sinned even once.

His life on earth was one of doing only good. He went about healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, raising the dead, loving the most unlovely, and reaching out to the untouchables. He alone has all power in heaven and in earth. His name is above every named that can be named and one day every creature will bow admitting his Lordship over all creation. Every man, woman, and child will one day be judged by this one man, The God-man Jesus Christ our Lord. It was this man who died, and he did it for you.