Eyebrows

What’s going on with eyebrows? I chuckle to myself.

I grew up in the ’60s when eyebrows were drawn on. At that time, even platinum blonds had perfect brown brows.

In the ’70s, eyebrows were all over the place. Actually, they were still on women’s faces, but they were everything from wire-thin to tadpole to the unibrow. Brows weren’t the thing; hair was. All those gorgeous girls with poofs and wings and layers had whichever brows they preferred, though most started just above the inside corners of one’s eyes.

Around the year 2000, eyebrows got mega cleaned up—even for men. I think Japanese men started the trend, but metrosexuals like David Beckham made it look cool to be groomed. All of a sudden, crazy brows were nowhere to be seen. No one had anything sprouting above his nose.

Since around five years ago, it seems like the Middle East has dictated brow fashion. Brows are once again drawn, tattoed, and perfect—and they are so close to the bridge of the nose that some approximate unibrows. They curve downwards at the outsides for the first time since Harlow and Hayworth. Semi-circle brows and full, flat angry ones are the all the rage. Pun intended.

What next, you ask? My prophecy is that the inevitable will happen. It always does in fashion. We’ll soon be back to thin lines and tadpoles. Every forty years, fashion comes around to what it was—maybe slightly different—and makeup does the same. If you don’t believe me, notice that all the CNN ladies have been wearing flesh-colored lipstick since January. 1980 has returned.

The same thing happens in Bible-believing circles. These cycles also take something like forty years. The battles—unfortunately, there is always a religious battle—come around again. What was fashionable to argue back when I was in college has become fashionable again, only this time with a slightly different result. Like eyebrows.

Doctrine is important, don’t get me wrong. The Apostle Paul admonished Timothy, Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee (1 Timothy 4:13b, 16).

I’m talking about infighting about preferences, interpretations, and contending about issues that didn’t even exist in the New Testament.

Years ago, a person who attended our church was open with the pastor (my husband) that he held a different view about future events in Scripture. My husband replied, “We are fine with you if you are fine with us.” A fight wasn’t necessary. My husband could have debated his position on prophecy until he was blue in the face, and it wouldn’t have helped. This person was decided on his own interpretation. No fight was necessary. Keeping the unity in the faith is more important than our positions.

As Christians, our purpose on earth is clear: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 15:6).

When we seek for unity instead of divisiveness, when we seek to get along, even when we don’t dot our i’s and cross our t’s in the same way, we have more of the mind of Christ.

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel (Philippians 1:27).

Yes, doctrine is important. We should stand without apology for the foundational doctrines. But, the unity of Christians of the same mind and striving together will go a lot further in spreading the gospel than backstabbing and infighting.

What does this have to do with eyebrows? Fashions come and go. The whole eyebrow thing is silly. Battling over religious issues that make little difference is also silly. Those battles come and go.

Wear your eyebrows as you wish.

In biblical practice, be strong on doctrine and non-contentious about the small stuff.

Strive for unity in the Spirit.

And, in my opinion, you can forget the unibrow.

Cheesy Christians

If there’s anything I don’t want to be, it’s a cheesy Christian. I want to be real.

Is it easy to be cheesy? I don’t know, but you’ve seen them, and so have I. They’re the ones that always smile, always have a platitude to share, have the answers for everything—but it’s all an act. Behind the veneer, there’s a needy person. Only, they can cover it up all the time. “I am the perfect Christian,” they proclaim to the world.

Thanks to Jesus, it is fairly simple to become a Christian. You have to be empty of every hope but Jesus and call upon Him for salvation. You have to believe in Him—put all your faith in His ability to save you. It is a huge heart decision. But, it isn’t complicated to do it. Surrender yourself to Jesus. Accept His payment for your sins, through His death on the cross. Believe that he died and rose again. It isn’t complex, but it cost Jesus everything—even for a time, when He bore our sins—fellowship with the Father.

The Christian life is not a bed of rose petals, though. “Believe and everything will be hunky-dory” is popular but not true. Every person on the earth experiences hurts, disappointments, the deaths of loved ones, pain, sadness, and sickness. Those things are the result of the first sin.

The “prosperity gospel,” that God wants you to be rich, isn’t true, either. That doesn’t mean that some Christians won’t be rich. Some are. Others—the majority of us—aren’t. I personally don’t think it’s a problem, since God promises to meet all of our needs according to His riches. I love what the Psalmist David said, I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread (Psalm 37:25).

The Lord gives a deep, abiding joy. No doubt about that. But, that doesn’t mean we won’t go through some extreme valleys. Psalm 23:4 calls it the valley of the shadow of death. The happy news is that, even there, Jesus goes with us and protects us. I love the way the Psalm ends: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever (verse 6).

So, how can we avoid being cheesy Christians? Here are five considerations:

  1. Be real in your faith. Make sure you are born again. When Jesus talked to a man named Nicodemus, he said to him, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:3b, 5b-6).
  2. Be real in your Christian walk. Consistency in Bible reading, prayer, Bible study, and church attendance will help you to grow in grace and spirit.
  3. Be genuine in your facial expressions, reactions, and conversations. It is okay to reflect what is really going on. Yes, it’s great to smile. Everyone loves a smiling face. But, it is absolutely fine to be sad when the occasion calls for it. It is okay to care. The Bible says we’re to empathize with others: Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep (Romans 12:15). There is a time and a place for everything. (See Ecclesiastes 3:1-6.)
  4. Be willing to share that you have needs. Experience has shown me two kinds of Christians: those that share every single stubbed-their-toe needs and those that never share anything at all, even when going through serious problems. I’m not sure either extreme is best. Maybe the first group should limit somewhat the kinds of issues they share, and for sure the second group should share when they have needs. Transparency, especially in the church, helps others meet the needs of their brothers and sisters in Christ. This goes for spiritual needs, as well. Are you struggling? Ask for prayer.
  5. Work on displaying the fruit of the Spirit. There isn’t one Christian on earth that doesn’t have a spiritual weakness somewhere. Anyone who is born again has some fruit of the Holy Spirit in his life, but we all can work on our weak areas. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25).

Cheesy Christian? I don’t want to be one.

I want to walk in the Spirit, and I’m sure you do, too.

Spiritual OCD

I was scrolling down my facebook feed, and all of a sudden, I wanted to change the décor in someone’s living space. The offense was in the background of the photo, on the wall. It hit me squarely. This needs to be fixed. I am like the fictitious perfectionist, Hercule Poirot. I can’t just leave a crooked picture, even if I’m in someone else’s house. (Actually, I have left them crooked a couple of times, when there was no way to straighten without getting caught. Oh, the agony!) In this case, the offending décor was two framed pictures, one on top of the other, not centered, and no space at all between them. I want to visit that place and set it right.

Right means my idea of right, which would be centered, probably on a smaller wall, and with enough space between top and bottom frame to make them look comfortable, probably at least one and a half to two inches.

I wonder how many of us have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) about other people’s spiritual lives. Unfortunately, I think we’re all guilty.

Did you ever:

  • Repeatedly think about someone else’s sin—however great or small—over and over in your mind?
  • Tell your friends how to improve their spiritual lives, who have exactly the same problem you have with yours?
  • Obsess about offensive words said to you?
  • Climb on a hobby horse about one spiritual issue?
  • Judge someone else by your own high, perfect standards?

We have all done these things.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? (Luke 6:41)

My imagination goes wild with that verse. “Hey, Bro., stand still. I see this tiny little black speck in your eye.” Then, I turn around and look in the mirror. “Woah! A whole whoppin’ beam! How did that get there? I’m gonna need surgery!”

Why is it so much easier to see the mote than the beam?

We can see others’ faults way before our own. And, you know what? Probably more than 90% of the time, others’ lives and faults are none of our business. If we’re in church leadership, we may be called upon to counsel and encourage, and in that case, it is our business. But normally, the “motes” we see in others’ eyes aren’t.

What about the beam?

“That huge, heavy, railroad tie thing hanging out of my face?”

Yes, that.

“Um, surgery?”

Maybe that would help, but you’ll need to see a doctor. No way am I moving that thing—even if I could.

The doctor says, “Beam-face, what seems to be the trouble?”

I point to the beam.

“Oh, you’ve been judging others again?”

“Yes, Doctor.”

“There’s only one cure for that.”

“Cut it out?”

“No. It’s inoperable.”

“So, Doctor, what’s the cure?”

“Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye. You have to take it out yourself. Then, you’ll see just fine.”

I go home, look in the mirror of God’s Word, confess my sin of judging people through my obsessive-compulsive spiritual disorder, and I tug that huge, ugly hunk of wood out of my eye.

Voilà! I can see as clearly as if I were trying on new glasses for the first time.

“Thank you, Lord! And, help me remember this lesson.”

Straighten your own pictures. Space them the way you like. Let others hang theirs the way they want. It’s their house, after all.

We beam-faces have a lot to learn.

The ironies of life

When I was a teen, I wanted to be different. I shouldn’t have worried; each person is unique. It took me a long time to figure that out.

I went to college at age seventeen, and when I chose a major, I went over my favorite subjects, crossing out a few, and ending up with my number one interest: art. To be different, I chose “straight art” and not “art education.” I’ll explain.

Everyone in my whole family is a teacher. College chemistry, middle school math, physical education, first grade, kindergarten, grade school and middle school. Every one of them is or has taught.

So, I wouldn’t.

That’s what I thought.

No one had “art” as a profession, so I went with that one. Practical, right? How ignorant I was.

It was a fitting major for me. I minored in psychology and then changed to English—so I could graduate on time and marry my fiancé. By the way, both of those were great decisions, .

My first job after college didn’t last long. It was physically draining, and I needed something different. I found a job in art and then another, and I taught—don’t laugh—calligraphy at a local community college.

Then, my husband and I started deputation for missions in Spain.

I left my full-time job several months into deputation, when our circles around our home got too big to be back on Monday mornings.

We had a child before we moved to Spain and one after we got here, and soon, I became a homeschooling mom. You may laugh, now.

Sixteen years later and having learned grade school and high school all over again—twice—I decided that the empty nest was a great opportunity to catch up on all the things I hadn’t done while schooling the children. My life quickly filled, and then, all of a sudden, I was left with lots of free time on my hands.

I saw an ad for teaching Spanish online, talked to my husband, and applied. After an interview, I was hired, and for the last four years, I’ve been teaching homeschooling high schoolers in a virtual classroom and loving every minute.

The old saying, “what goes around comes around” is true. The girl who didn’t want to teach—ha ha—ended up teaching for twenty-three years and enjoying it.

That’s not all.

I wrote my first book, a handbook for women—the result of about fifteen years of Bible study—and published it in 2012. It’s titled His Ways, Your Walk and is available through me.

My first blog post ever was published in January 2012. (You may access and browse “In the Way” here.) I bought a personal domain, starting this new blog in January 2019.

My first novel is a work in progress. It’s been written and revised many times—and totally being rewritten at the moment. Oh, to learn today’s style and forget the old ways! But I digress.

My father was a teacher like everyone else, but almost of his life, he’s been a writer.

As it turns out, the two things I never thought I’d be are what I am.

And, I am richer for them.

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10).

Live joyfully … for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might (Ecclesiastes 9:9-10a).

Has your life turned out differently than you imagined?  How? Please feel free to share your story.

A tale of two women, Proverbs 9

For many years, I used the One Year Bible for my devotions. It has portions from Old and New Testaments, a Psalm (or part of one), and a few verses from the Proverbs for each day. I love my One Year Bible, and I’ll surely go back to it in the future, but a few years ago, I felt a need to change things up.

For about two years, I did quite a few guided Bible studies and thoroughly enjoyed them.

Some time ago, I began this study in Proverbs. (It’s always good to study wisdom.) As I did, I began to see the Proverbs in groups of verses, and it has provided me with a fresh appreciation of this book.

This ninth chapter is a fine example. It’s divided into two parts. The first part (verses 1-12) is the personification of Wisdom as a woman. Wisdom is described and then “she” has a divine message for all mankind. The second part (verses 13-18) describes the foolish woman.

Let’s study these two polar opposite women.

Wisdom prepares her house for guests (1-2). Then she sends out an invitation: Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding (4-6).

The theme shifts a little bit. Now she’s talking about a scorner—someone who mocks truth and will not seek wisdom. He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee (7-8). To me, this is good advice for a counselor. Don’t waste your time on someone with a contrary attitude. Give good advice to someone who will listen and heed—the wise person. There’s more about teaching and students in this next verse. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning (9).

This is the theme verse of this chapter: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding (10). It’s helpful to think of the fear of the LORD as respect for God. It isn’t exactly trembling and being afraid, but it’s the great recognition of God’s perfection and authority—and wanting to please Him.

Do you remember when you were a child and you had a fear of your parents? If they were decent parents, your respect was borne out of your position as a child. You wanted to please. You knew you needed to obey, or there might be some adverse consequences. This illustration isn’t perfect, since we are so much lower than God, but maybe it will help with an understanding of the kind of respect we are talking about when we see the phrase, the fear of the LORD.

This respect for God is the beginning—starting point—for wisdom. It’s the foundation. We build understanding upon our respect for God.

The next clause, the knowledge of the holy is understanding, is truly profound. What’s the only holy thing in the world? God. As we get to know Him, we will obtain understanding.

How can we know God? Through Jesus. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life (1 John 5:20).

Wisdom resumes speaking. For by me (Wisdom) thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased. If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it (11-12).

Now, we encounter the second woman, the foolish one. If you’ve been following our study of Proverbs, you’ll know that we have already met a strange woman. This one will sound familiar.

She is: clamorous, simple, and knoweth nothing (13).

We find her sitting at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city,

To call passengers who go right on their ways (14-15). At the beginning of this chapter, Wisdom was in the high place calling people to her home. But, the foolish woman says, Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant (16-17).

At the end, as we’ve seen before in Proverbs, there’s a warning of the sad consequences of sin: But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell (18).

So, here we have two women and two outcomes. Heeding Wisdom: thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased. The person who goes in to the foolish woman knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.