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Archive for December 20th, 2010

This time of year, I ponder on Joseph.  In pondering Joseph, I also think of Adam.  Soon, I think of all godly men.  And, I thank God.

Joseph loved Mary and had asked her to be his wife.  But, the plans he had in mind were changed.  Ruined.  Unchartered territory lay ahead.  At a precarious moment in his life, Joseph had nothing to hang on to… nothing, that is, except the Word of the Lord.

The Word gave Joseph courage.  “Don’t be afraid!”  It was the Word that showed Joseph how to be faithful.  “Take Mary as your wife.  She will give birth to a son, and you will name Him Jesus” (Matthew 1:20-21).

Perhaps, in holding on to the Word, Joseph remembered the experience of his ancester, Adam.  Perhaps, in a moment of truth and with eyes focused, Joseph could picture Adam standing next to his wife, Eve.  Perhaps, with wisdom only from the Holy Spirit, Joseph recognized the significance of Eve’s creation by God from man’s rib.  And, perhaps, with discernment only from God, Joseph understood that he must not repeat the sin of his ancestor and do to his rib what Adam had done to his.

Perhaps, in remembering what Adam had failed to do, Joseph was given the courage to cover his wife, Mary, and lead her to safety.  Let the village talk.  Tweak carefully-made plans.  Trust the Word of the Lord.  Although it meant leaving his zone of comfort, Joseph did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him to do.  He covered his rib by taking Mary as his wife.  And, when Mary’s child was born, Joseph named Him Jesus.

God wanted Joseph to make a difference — a difference that would impact the world.  But such a difference could only be made by being faithful.

Convenience told Joseph to walk away from Mary.  Self-defense told Joseph to think of “number one.”  Pride told Joseph that he could do better.  Fear told Joseph to hide.  But, God told Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife.  Through all the frightening days ahead, Joseph remembered the Word of the Lord.  And the Lord did not forget Joseph.  When danger lurked near, the angel of the Lord warned Joseph.  When uncertainty abounded, the angel of the Lord directed Joseph.

Life was never the same for Joseph.  It wasn’t what he planned.  But, in remembering the Word of the Lord and trusting it, Joseph was used by God to impact all people of all cultures for all time.  Some 2000 years later, the Boy who grew to be a Man in the house of Joseph is still changing lives.

(Excerpted from “Joseph & His Rib” by L. Bartlett.

Tract available from LFL or CPH.)

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Gentlemen.  What words are there for you?  As a mom, I can speak to my sons about women.  I can describe feelings, emotions, and the complexities of my gender.  But, any wisdom and true instruction I have for men comes only from God.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die'” (Genesis 2:15-17).

“. . . [T]he man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?'” (vv. 8-9).

God created man to be the head and steward of His creation.  It is to man that God gave the words of life and the warning away from death.  Man was to pass on the Word of Truth — to his wife, their children, and their children’s children.  Even though the woman was the first to disobey God, man was held responsible.  Such is the order of God’s creation.  Even after sin, God brings order out of chaos using the leadership of godly men.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of the water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  In the same way husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of His body” (Ephesians 5:25-30).

The husband is not to rule his wife, but to love her (Colossians 3:19).  St. Paul wrote more to the husband than to the wife because it is an opportunity to rejoice in the Gospel.  If a husband’s love for his wife is Christlike, he is willing to give up his very life for her (Galatians 2:20; Titus 2:14; 1 John 3:16).  St. Paul notes that the husband is the “head” in a marriage.  Perhaps it follows, then, that the wife is the “heart.”  One is not more important than the other; both are necessary for life.  Neither man nor woman honor God or themselves by asking: “What can I get out of this marriage?”  Instead, everything a husband  — or a wife — does should be a living illustration of Christ’s love.

“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).

Feminists may be offended by the expression “weaker vessel.”  But, as students of history, we do well to remember that the culture of the Apostle Peter’s time had little respect for women.  For this reason, the apostle was guided to choose his words with express care for women.  Physically, women are typically smaller in size and weaker in strength then men, which could make them vulnerable to abuse.  Peter admonishes husbands not to exploit a woman’s size and strength in unkind ways.  Viewing husband and wife through Biblical eyes, each was made to complement the other.  Both are heirs of God’s saving grace.

What about the unmarried man?  How is he to treat a girl or woman?  St. Paul prepares the young man Timothy for ministry with these words:

“Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2).

A man is called by God to treat all people as Jesus did — as members of His own family (Matthew 12:46-50).  Here is a culturally-transforming opportunity for men.  Can you imagine how esteemed and safe women — and, therefore, children — would be if they were treated like mothers and sisters?

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