The pearl necklace

My mother was going to a business banquet with my father. She decided to wear a simple, elegant black dress.

While in Woolworth’s, picking up something else, she happened by the costume jewelry section and noticed a pearl necklace. It was one strand and had a “pearl” and then a tiny gold bead, another pearl, and a gold bead. Thinking it was pretty and seeing the cheap price tag of something like $3.50, she bought it. It would go nicely with her black dress.

A lady at the banquet was talking to my mother, but she couldn’t keep her eyes off of her necklace. Mama said this woman just kept staring at the necklace and didn’t even look at her face. Finally, the woman, green with envy, complimented the necklace and moved on.

I’ve often wondered if her husband later paid for a custom genuine pearl and gold bead necklace for his wife.

Perceptions can be wrong.

I know mine have been.

Just as the woman at a fancy banquet figured my mother’s fake necklace had to be real, we have probably misjudged people.

Long ago, I met a lady. She was gorgeous, proper, and quiet. I thought she was a little bit cool. Once I got to know her, though, I realized she is a warm person and has a real knack for communicating with everyone. My first impression of her being standoffish wasn’t fair. She was only timid.

Several men in our community, one who used to wear his hair very long, with dangling hoop earrings, didn’t necessarily look like the nice guys they are.  It’s so easy to judge by outward appearances.

My husband and I were looking for a certain street address in a foreign country. We’d parked the car and we were looking for someone to ask. A man walked over towards me, so I asked him if he knew where the street was. As soon as I asked him, I realized he was not okay; he was on drugs. The man was very courteous, but he sadly didn’t even know where he was. I misjudged him for being a reliable source of information.

Misperceptions happen all the time.

Often, the truth is somewhere in the middle ground. And, just as often, as in the woman’s judgment of my mother’s necklace, we can be completely wrong.

Take the coronavirus prohibitions, for example.  Where does the truth lie?

Are governments being wise to completely cripple their countries financially in order to control this?

Is it a health issue or a control issue? Either way, what can we learn for the future so that we don’t shut down the whole world again?

Perceptions can be wrong, half wrong, and sometimes, right.

For now, I will sit back and let others make the big decisions for me.

And, if I ever get envious of anyone’s jewelry, I’ll call in an expert first. It might be a $3.50 immitation.

Jesus said, Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment (John 7:24).

My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones (Proverbs 3:1-8).

May we depend on God for wisdom and guidance, trust Him in the darkness, and be careful about pride in these uncertain times.

God bless you.

Forms of government in the Bible

In today’s highly charged political atmosphere, I have read all kinds of posts by Christians. Some favor one kind of government and some another. A few were outright nasty, and some were looking for an argument. It’s their right, of course, to express opinions and to differ. I personally think many could use an infusion of kindness and grace. But, that’s not what this post is about.

What does the Bible say about governments?

Which forms of government are found in the Bible? When I started brainstorming, I was surprised. Maybe you will be, too.

Theocracy = God rules. Actually, God always rules. Since the beginning, God has ordered the world. He created both the world and man and set His rules in place. Man disobeyed, but God kept ruling. When Israel was in the wilderness, ultimately God ruled. In the New Testament also, God ruled. Today, God rules. One of the most comforting concepts in my life is that God is ultimately in control. Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations (Psalm 145:13).

Strong leader = One leader rules. Throughout history, God ordained strong leaders for His people. Some did wrong, but they led Israel. Examples include: Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, and good and bad kings. In the New Testament, we don’t see a governmental structure like this until the millennium, when Jesus reigns (Revelation 20:1-6).

Monarchy = One family rules. The longest ruling monarchy in Israel was David’s, through sons and briefly, one mother, all the way up to the Babylonian captivity (993 BC-586 BC). Ultimately, Jesus, a descendant of David, will complete this monarchy’s rule as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16).

Representative = Representatives of the people rule. Moses needed helpers, and his father-in-law wisely suggested representatives for groups of people. (Exodus 18:17-22). Later, God gave judges to the people.

Direct democracy = The people vote. We don’t see this much in Scripture. Joshua asked the people to choose whether to obey God or serve idols. Their answer: And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey (Joshua 24:24). Gideon had an army of 30,000 men to go against the Midianites. He told them that anyone who was afraid could leave. Twenty thousand left (Judges 7:3). In this case, God later whittled the minority down to three hundred men, and He got the glory for the miraculous victory.

Communism = Everything is shared equally. Communism was tried in Acts 2:44-45, due to great persecution and financial need in the church at Jerusalem. Christians pooled their money, food, and goods. This system didn’t work for very long because of greed. Remember Ananias and Saphira, who told the disciples they were giving everything, but they held money back for themselves? (Acts 5:1-10) Their deaths were the beginning of the end for this form of government in the Bible.

I don’t know where you live or what form of government you live under, but wherever it is, the Bible is true. Let’s read some encouraging verses about governments.

  • Hezekiah prayed, Thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth (2 Kings 19:15b).
  • The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will (Proverbs 21:1).
  • Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour (Romans 13:1-7).

What’s my take-away from this little study?

The Lord is in control. This doesn’t mean that we fold our arms and don’t vote or that we shouldn’t be active in political affairs. It means, rather, that God works in governments. There’s no need to panic. We can rest in His sovereignty.

God’s purposes will be done on the earth.

Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth; O sing praises unto the Lord; Selah (Psalm 68:32).

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever (Revelation 11:15).

Wash them away

I recently watched a purification ceremony on TV. Men and women, dressed in white, dipped themselves in special tubs, while praying. The same kinds of ceremonies are common to many religions. Wash in the Ganges. Take an ice bath in Siberia.

What’s the point?

To purify, to wash sins away.

I’m reminded of the simple hymn, “What can wash away my sin?”

You may think Christian baptism washes away sins. It’s interesting that, in the Bible, only believers in Jesus were baptized. Their sins were forgiven before they were baptized.

  • Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls (Acts 2:38, 41).
  • But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women (Acts 8:12).
  • Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done (Acts 8:13).
  • And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him (Acts 8:36-38).
  • Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? (Acts 10:47)

When I was a baby, my parents had me “baptized.” The minister wet his fingers and dampened my little head. That wasn’t biblical baptism. I hadn’t yet made any decision to believe anything. I probably didn’t even notice my head was wet. I was only a baby. The truth is, that little ceremony was more about my parents’ dedicating themselves to teach me about God—which they did.

Later, my dad trusted Christ. After him, I did.

A few years of growing later, both my parents and I decided to be baptized as believers. We knew our sins were taken care of.

“What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” When we trust what Jesus has already done, we become new creatures in Christ. Later, we are baptized to signify what has happened in our hearts. In the New Testament, people were baptized immediately following their salvation.

Water can’t do anything but cleanse the outside. It gets us wet.

Only Jesus can cleanse our hearts and take away sins.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him (Romans 5:8-9).

Are you saved?

Have your sins been washed away because you believed in Jesus’ sacrifice for you and called out for Him for salvation?

He loves you and wants to save you. After salvation, you’ll want to give a testimony through baptism.

They that gladly received his word were baptized.

When you’re gleaning in your field and “Boaz” never comes

I have heard the messages, and they’re not entirely wrong:

  • Stay in the castle.
  • Wait for Mr. Right.
  • Prepare yourself, and God will bring a husband to you.
  • Be like Ruth. She did the right thing, and Boaz showed up.

But, Boaz doesn’t always show up.

And that’s okay.

The way I read my Bible, I see two clear paths for both men and women. There are a lot of single people in God’s will, and there are a lot of married people.

The Apostle Paul—always a single man—wrote, He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. Statement of fact. There are two roles. The will of God for Paul was singleness, but there are two clear paths and two different lifestyles, both in the will of God.

Here, the same teaching is for women: There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband (1 Corinthians 7:32-34).

Since I write for women, we will talk about the second part. Single women are supposed to be conscious of and caring for the things of the Lord. How does she do that? She—like her married counterpart—gets to know God in salvation and in Christian growth and service. I honestly don’t see any difference between a single’s walk with God and a married woman’s. 

The single woman also keeps herself holy (without sin) in body and spirit. Obviously, she’s supposed to be a virgin, and she’s to guard her body in holiness. I think it’s interesting that God adds “spirit” to this. It is very important.

How many singles do you know who have been waiting and waiting and waiting for their handsome prince to come—and each year that they wait, they are getting more and more anxious and bitter and antsy, looking out the window for him to show up—to no avail? Which makes them more anxious and bitter and antsy. It’s an ugly cycle.

This idea comes from false teaching—that everyone needs to be married—and from false expectations.

Waiting for Boaz is not a principle in the Word of God.

There, I’ve said it.

It simply isn’t God’s will (His best plan) for every woman to marry. This doesn’t mean He’s withholding something wonderful from you. This doesn’t mean you’re missing out.

Let’s look back at 1 Corinthians 7:34, the last part: she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. A single woman doesn’t have to live for the world. She doesn’t have to please a husband. Oh my!

Her purpose is to please God—like every Christian woman—and to keep herself pure—like every Christian woman.

The difference is the pleasing a man part.

Let that sink in.

A single woman frankly has more freedom. She doesn’t have to make dinner every evening if she doesn’t feel like it. Even though single women have to work and care for themselves, they don’t have to also please a roommate.

I’ve been married over 41 years now and happily so. I know a few things about marriage. But, I’ve also learned that God has designed two happy lifestyles for Christians, and they are both full and satisfying and wonderful.

Read your Bible. Make a collection in your mind of all the singles in the Bible with very satisfying lives. Make a list, if you want. Which ones were always sad and bitter? What was their problem?

How can you live a victorious life?

Forget Boaz.

Look to the Lord.

Enjoy your life.

Trust … in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy (Paul, to Timothy—both were single men—from 1 Timothy 6:17).

May God bless you.

Shopping therapy

I love to shop. For sure, I can shop ’til I drop. That’s about three to four hours, but I do it with complete abandon, a smile on my face, and my eyes darting back and forth to discover anything new and interesting. Shopping is therapy for me.

I confess I rarely buy anything. I window-shop—but more than that, I actually window-shop inside stores, as well. Is that called aisle-shopping? I don’t know.

My favorite stores are home furnishings, but I love a good variety store, antique shop, art gallery, or department store. I like quirky things. I especially love it when little “rooms” are decorated, so you can actually see the possibilities. My imagination goes wild! Inspiration overload.

I enjoy clothing stores less—because I rarely find anything I like in my size that looks good on me with a price I’m willing to pay. Clothes shopping does nothing for my good humor. Shoe shopping is even worse—but I’ll spare you.

I rarely get to do my shopping-’til-dropping escapades, and perhaps that’s a good thing. The malls where we live in Spain only have one home decoration store—nice but pricey. I still might find myself spending a short afternoon at a mall, just for fun—about once every two years. But, in the United States…. The possibilities are endless.

Michelangelo once proclaimed, “Gazing at beautiful things acts on my soul.” I totally agree with him.

I love to shop with my sister, who should start her own business of where to find what and how to outfit a person in one afternoon. I also enjoy shopping with our daughter, who tells me honestly what she thinks and keeps me from being “too old lady.”

Is shopping your therapy?

Which do you prefer: window-shopping or actually buying things?

Do you get a kick out of using your credit card ’til it smokes and buying a whole new wardrobe, pricey make-up, doing your hair and nails at the salon, and changing the living room furniture …

finding yourself overspending?

Dave Ramsey once said, “We often overspend because we are trying to fill an emotional gap in our lives. No object will ever satisfy your soul.”

It is one of the reasons we spend money—that emotional gap. We collect things because they make us feel somehow comfortable. Spending on ourselves makes us feel momentarily happy. After all, we deserve that treat. (Not so.)

Soon, we’re right back at the same low emotional place, and we’re tempted to spend even more money in order to feel good again.

We realize things don’t do it.

We’re not alone. Many post milennials are going minimalist because they’ve learned that living in a junked-up house is tiring. Too much stuff means too much to clean, put away, and it produces mental clutter and oppression. The decorating pendulum has swung the other way. Now, we enjoy clean surfaces, less is more, and invite Marie Kondo into our closet so we can learn to fold and roll.

Back in the 1800s, Henry David Thoreau decided to camp out at Walden Pond and enjoy a simple life (where he only stayed two years, by the way). He said, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”

“He who buys what he does not need steals from himself.” (Swedish proverb)

I think that’s true.

Is it sinful to go shopping? Of course not.

Is it wrong to overspend? Yes, we’re responsible to God to manage what He has given us. Jesus tells his disciples a parable about an unjust steward. It’s talking about money (here called mammon), and the parable concludes: He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Luke 16:10-11, 13).

God says you either serve Him or money, not both. When we overspend, we haven’t been faithful with the money God has entrusted to us. We become slaves to money—since we owe it.

The remedy for overspending, of course, is contentment. Are we content with what we have right now? Can we be okay not spending crazily?

And having food and raiment let us be therewith content (1 Timothy 6:8). Do we have something to eat and wear? Yep.

Let your conversation (lifestyle) be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Hebrews 13:5).

Our relationship with God is sufficient for our contentment. His presence alone should bring us joy.

I’ll close with an unattributed quote I found on Pinterest: “It costs $0.00 to be grateful for what you already have.”