Ask Me Anything! (Well… almost)

DictionaryYeah yeah, it’s not your regularly scheduled dose of Emeth’s Home Brewed Esoteric Lexicology, but it’s close.

I get a lot of questions while I’m dancing through the cyber-sphere. I don’t always get the time to answer them all. Often as not I refer people to my blog and say I’ll get a post up as soon as may be. Which… all too often turns out to be never. :'(

But! This time I’m going to be doing it the other way around.

I’m writing a blog post in which I tell you to ask questions.

Fun, right?

The only stipulation is that I will limit my answers to the lexicological aspect of whatever you ask. So if you ask lexicological questions, it makes it easier for me. 😉

And if you don’t know what lexicological means, ask that, and I’ll answer. 😀

Share this post around, keep asking questions, and have fun in the comments section!

Christ in Pain

Holy Spirit painting

When the chips are down. When the rubber meets the road. When all hell breaks loose, literally. When “things don’t quite turn out.” When your life is wrecked, devastated, turned upside down. When your heart is torn into shreds and fed to the dogs. When the worst thing you could imagine… happens. How is God glorified in that?This is really a re-phrasing of the age-old question: How can a loving God allow death and suffering in His world? And although the answer to that is inestimably crucial, the answer is too much for the scope of this article. If you don’t know the answer, please, please email or comment and let me know, and I will be more than happy to explain it. Knowing this is vital, absolutely critical.

But when I phrase it this way… the question opens itself up to being rephrased again, and to really reaching into the heart of a struggle that I see many Christians battling with. A turmoil I see in the lives of people I love. So… you know who you are… this is for you. * smiles *

When everything is against me. When the world opens up at my feet to swallow me…

How do I glorify God in that?

You see how it’s connected? Think about it. God hates sin. He hates evil. He hates death, suffering, misfortune. He uses it, yes, but He doesn’t like it. It is not a part of His perfection which He wants for us (and which He will give us in heaven).

So how is He glorified in it on Earth? And as Christians, where do we fit into that? We are commanded to glorify Him in everything we do, in every circumstance. And really, if you think about it, what else should we want to do?!

So… how do we do it?

It’s hard.

No… scratch that. It’s not.

It’s impossible.

Really. It is. It is superhuman, supernatural — absolutely completely a miracle.

And that is the key. See, in our own strength we can’t glorify God in circumstances like that. We can’t do anything that would bring Him honor or praise or bless Him in any way. So… we do things we can’t do. Impossible things. It’s really as simple as that.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

What is peace?

Look at a glass of water or a still lake. Look at it… placid… smooth… unrippled. Untouched, unbroken. It is at peace.

Drop a pebble in. It breaks, the surface begins going everywhere, reacting to the stone. It is troubled.

God’s peace is this: Doing what is right regardless of circumstances.

Some people say it is freedom from harm. Which isn’t true. The Holy Spirit brings about peace, as well as troubles and harm (unless being stoned and drowned and beheaded and robbed and broken and tormented doesn’t count as harm…). If peace is freedom from harm, then He contradicts Himself. God forbid.

It might be more accurate to say that it is freedom from fear of harm. But even that isn’t true, because fear is not something you can really get rid of. It is a God-given impulse of our flesh, and we can’t rid ourselves of it any more than we can remove our need for water and food. What really matters isn’t being unfearful, but being courageous.

Courage is doing what is right despite being scared.

That is peace. It is choosing not to let circumstances control you. It is not reacting to things that happen to you — but choosing to respond instead. It is not letting your heartbreak determine what is on your heart’s throne. Doing that is impossible.

The pain is there. It will be there.

But that pain isn’t bad. Not if you glorify God in it. Then it becomes a wondrous thing.

When the very thing which is a punishment and consequence of rebellion against God brings glory to God, when imperfection blesses perfection… that is glorifying God.

So in essence, the way you glorify God in trials is simply to do what you would have done if you didn’t have trials. Make sense?

You still love. You still have joy (not necessarily happiness, though). You still serve. You still forgive. You still trust. You still pray. You still draw closer to God. You are still a little Christ, a little light of His.

And the very fact that you are doing all that while being tormented is what brings God ten-fold glory. Because it is impossible.

Now, you might have noticed that I didn’t give any Scripture references in this whole blog post. It quotes from the Bible extensively inline, refers to Scripture constantly, and is built solidly upon multiple studies of several topics, but I didn’t give any references. So, I am curious if any of you have any Scripture quotes which apply to this which you would like to share in the comments. Or even if you don’t want to share them, go ahead anyway. 😉

A comment form is right below, and you can get Scripture here: www.sir-emeth.com/bible

Have at it. 🙂

Eccentricity, Mathematics, and Peculiar People

Examples of orbital trajectories with various ...
Image via Wikipedia
I am eccentric. Quite so. In fact, almost invariably so. And I quite like it.

Now, when most people notice my eccentricity (and they do), they generally comment on how weird it is, and then make some comment about fitting in or having to still be able to communicate with people or something along those lines.

They miss it.

Totally.

Why? Because they have a messed up perception of eccentricity and weirdness in general.

What does eccentric mean? What does it really mean?

Well if you go back to the roots, you find that it is founded in mathematics. An eccentric circle is a circle with a different center from another circle.

Not having the same center; — said of circles, ellipses, spheres, etc., which, though coinciding, either in whole or in part, as to area or volume, have not the same center; — opposed to concentric.

This is still a valid definition in use, and it directly affects the other definitions.

Not terminating in the same point, nor directed by the same principle.

So someone who is eccentric isn’t random, arbitrary, or capricious at all. Being eccentric means living with a different set of life principles than those you share company with (either by being in the same circles, or by working on the same things, whatever). You share some things in common with them, but you don’t share a common starting point or worldview.

The modern definitions of eccentric have become synonymous with unpredictable heterodoxes. The whole concept is one of any deviations from the societal norm being wrong by default.

So… which is good? To be eccentric, or not eccentric?

To be eccentric of course! We’re commanded to!

Or are we?

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

What does peculiar mean?

Appropriate; belonging to a person and to him only. Almost every writer has a peculiar style. Most men have manners peculiar to themselves.

It means you have something unique and special about how you do things… another way to say you have a different set of principles. You have a different center and goal.

So now we know we’re supposed to be eccentric, peculiar, and odd, at least as far as the world goes. Our goal is to have Christ and His Word as the center of our lives, wherever that leads us. Even if it means we disagree with other Christians… if God’s Word is our reason for it, then it isn’t a sin to disagree: the Bible is our center, and that’s what matters. Listen, test your center, always, but don’t be afraid for it to be different from other centers.

So what about communication then? If you’re so off-the-wall that no one can relate with you… what then? How do you impact them?

Good question. 🙂 I’ll write about that later, but for now, you can get started with your ideas in the comments. Go!

Is chivalry slavery?

This time we’re going to do something a tad bit different, although I’ve done it once before I think on this blog.

Instead of me posting a long article on something, I want to get your ideas on a difficult topic. I’ll be in the comments (am I ever not?) talking with you all, but I want you to start it up. Don’t feel shy, and say your mind! Think with lexicology. 😉

So the question is this: Is chivalry slavery?

What do I mean by that? Well, by chivalry I mean showing deference and respect to others, particularly to females. By slavery I mean the kind of unjust servitude and subservience enforced by tyrannical power over people of supposed lesser status, particularly to those of a different skin color.

If you want to know where the question came from, you can watch this very infuriating video (be forewarned, it might make you angry, haha): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCW2dKD45oA

So I’m curious… what do you think about this issue? Comment and let us know!

 

 

 

 

Eleven tips to stop your handshake miscommunications

First Handshake
First Handshake by MJ/TR on Flickr

I shake hands. I am a handshaker. It’s my favorite element of a greeting, and it’s a key element of how I communicate who I am and the nature of my relationship with someone to them.

That’s right, shaking hands is a form of communication. It’s an integral part of body language. And it falls within the purview of lexicology. So I’m writing about it. 😉

I’ve gotten quite a few compliments on my firm handshake, mostly from guys with hands like a giant’s. I speculate they’re as tired as I am of diffident and wimpy handshakes and appreciate the grip of a guy who knows how to do it.

But even if you do have a strong grip and shake people’s hands with attention, you can be doing it wrong. And you can definitely be underusing this communication medium, neglecting to take advantage of its full potential.

So here we go. 😀

The first thing I’m going to talk about is the obvious fish grip. That’s where you don’t actually grasp the other person’s hand at all – you just kind of put your hand by their’s in a completely relaxed state. There are numerous reasons why this is a bad thing to do. The first is that you can actually get hurt if they have a strong grip and aren’t skilled enough in handshaking to save your hand. Don’t put the onus on them to avoid crushing your metacarpals. The second is that it communicates weakness and a diffidence about your relationship with the other person. You aren’t really interested in them and you’re only shaking their hand as a matter of course to be polite. Which is ironic because a fish grip is anything but polite.

(I’ve always wondered what two fish grippers do when they shake hands with each other… how do they hold on? Do they hook thumbs or something?)

The next mistake is the mash grip. This is a common error for guys who work out a lot and aren’t focusing on being courteous (either that or they just haven’t got a clue because they haven’t been taught). It is also the bane of the fish grip. A mash grip is when you grab someone’s hand and proceed to mash it into a pulverized mass of quivering nerves and bruised muscles. Yeah, you’re showing strength (and possibly benificence), but you’re also showing a lack of self-control and care for the other person. Avoid the mash grip like the plague.

Another handshaking fail is what I call the super shake. You grab the other person’s hand and pump it up and down exaggeratedly. The range of motion in a super shake varies, but I’ve experienced handshakes that moved my arm over a distance of a foot and a half in both directions. Not fun. And if this is coupled with a mash grip it spells chaos for your wrist. Besides the fact that the only thing you can do is go along for the ride. This communicates enthusiasm generally, but like the mash grip, it also communicates a lack of care for the other person. It’s almost embarrassing. What’s really weird is when someone combines this with a fish grip. It’s one of the most difficult handshakes to meet and deal with. You gotta hold on without hurting them while trying to anticipate their next movement so you can follow along. Crazy.

The last problem grip I’m going to mention is the freeze grip. Like the mash grip is the opposite extreme to the fish grip, this one is at the other end of the super shake. Let’s say you walk up to someone and grasp their hand in a friendly handshake, and you start to try and… you know, shake his hand. That’s what you do in a handshake, right? Not in this guy’s world. No, he grabs on and locks your paw in one set of coordinates in twelve dimensions. Don’t do this, people. A handshake is a handshake for a reason. It’s an action, not a state. This grip can communicate anything from a threat, to control, to fear, to insecurity, to all kinds of things. It all depends on the rest of your body language.

Okay, enough about the wrong grips, what about the right one?

The right grip is a strong grip. Here’s how you can tell if you are doing it right. Hold your hand out like you are shaking someone’s hand. Now act like you are shaking their hand, just without holding onto anything. Does your forearm tighten? Good, that’s not a fish grip then. Does your fist close? Bad, that means you’re doing a mash grip. Your hand should maintain it’s general form, while being strongly tense. It’s isometric, using your own grip muscles to oppose themselves instead of the other person’s hand. This way, if you are shaking an old lady’s hand, you can give them a firm, secure, friendly, committed handshake without endangering them. This is also the best defense against a mash grip. This is because it strengthens the structure of your hand so it won’t be crushed while still engaging with the other person – without challenging them to a crush match (not fun if the guy is twice your size and can smash raw apples with his bare hands). Your grip will still dynamically engage with them, giving a good amount of squeeze so you don’t give the impression of a robot, but it also won’t be trying to fold their palm into an accordion.

But the hand grip and motion is only a part of a handshake. What about the rest of your body language?

For example, eye contact – don’t look anywhere but in the other person’s eyes when you shake their hand. It’s rude to be looking at one person while shaking another person’s hand. If someone else walks up and you want to greet them, look over at them to acknowledge them, then look back at the person you are currently shaking hands with before disengaging and moving on. Don’t look down at your handshake while you are doing it: look them in the face. When you first come up to someone you want to greet with a handshake, look at their eyes, smile, look down as you put your hand out in order to make sure you make good contact without hurting them or missing, and look back up as you shake their hand, holding eye contact until after you let go of their hand.

And always smile. Period. Full stop. Even if it’s a little one while you’re crying. A smile is an integral part of a friendly handshake. Without a smile it almost feels like a threat. 0.0

Give your handshake personality and uniqueness, not just to you, but to your relationship with the other person. Each person I shake hands with has their own unique shake that I give them. With one person I lean forward a certain amount, give a certain kind of grin, grasp his hand just so, move it up so much, move it down and slightly forward so much more, smile more, nod a bit, and then disengage with a small bow. With another lady I always take a step forward with a certain smile, bow while extending my hand, grasp hers with a slightly supine grip (instead of holding my hand vertical, it’s almost sideways, as if I was going to kiss her hand), shake it down once while saying “My lady,” and disengage with a grin and a step back. Sometimes I intensify it, especially if I haven’t seen them in a while. Sometimes I combine it with a friendly shoulder hug.

Always use their name. If it is appropriate to use their first name, do so. Make the effort to learn and remember people’s names and use them. It makes a huge difference, and gives life to an otherwise ordinary handshake and greeting.

Now, what about if you are a girl, or if you are shaking hands with a girl?

Same principles apply. Make sure you always match the enthusiasm and duration of your handshake to your relationship with the other person, though. You don’t want to convey the wrong thing by breaking off too late or too early. Be natural, and be friendly. Once you get familiar with handshakes and their nuances, and once you’ve got the hang of your personal style, you’ll be able to handle this intuitively.

And lastly… do it. Shake people’s hands! Don’t avoid it, just start doing it. That’s really the only way you’ll get used to it and get practice. Watch and listen to their feedback, either from their comments or their body language. Don’t go around asking people to test out your handshake (though that would be a fun adventure and a way to meet new people, haha), just be observant. Learn, grow, improve.

Become a communication master.

P.S. Write your tips, experiences, and questions in the comments!

* Bounce Bounce Bounce *

A scene of Tokachi Plain, Hokkaido, Japan.
Image via Wikipedia

Okay, so that title was a bit misleading. This is a deep post. Very deep. * nod nod *

Well maybe not that deep. But it was life-changing for me, and I wanted to share it with you.

See, I am a collector. I don’t collect Hotwheels or stamps though, I collect principles. Life principles are best. I love it when I find a new concept, insight, proverb, or rule that will alter my life in a beneficial way. And once I examine and test and refine it I will do my best to integrate it into my habits and motivations and standards and life in general. Keeps me growing and improving all the time, and that is powerful.

But anyway, I recently came upon a desperate need for a new life principle, and went in search for one to fill the gap.

All my saved life, I have been in extremes of circumstances. I am either up on a mountain, or down in a valley. All the time. The more level ground in-between went by so quickly I never really noticed them. I definitely didn’t learn how to live in them.

Until now.

Yes, my life is more crazy than it ever has before, but I am having periods in between the valleys and mountains where I have to survive in a new war field… the plains. Yeah so they are only a week long in general, but hey, it’s long for me!

I had learned how to glorify, praise, and thank God on the mountain tops without succombing to pride and arrogancy every time (still a struggle, but victory is here). I had learned how to seek God’s strength and mercy in the valleys, drawing closer to Him without despairing and losing sight of that blessed hope that belongs to those who trust in Him. But I hadn’t learned yet how to go on doing the same thing day after day without being driven to God forcefully by either one of those extremes.

As soon as things got easier, they got harder.

I’m not the kind of guy who takes to monotony easily. In fact I hate it as much as a Karnian Great Mountain Wyvern hates baths (and for your information, that is so little as to make a scale come up negative). I always delegate such jobs to you strange but wonderful folks who actually like doing the same thing over and over and over and over and… * gags * over. And so in the plain… things are so… plain. Boring. Bland. Tedious. Insipid. Bleacgh.

And of course I end up lagging.

And things get worse, because then I end up not being as close to God as I need to be, and when you aren’t close to God… life loses meaning. Which means I get even less interest out of life. And the vicious spiral continues.

I was talking about this to one of my dear friends, and she pointed out that all of life, even the plains, are made up of a bunch of little bumps. A simple thought, but profound. Quite profound. And I saw the makings of the very life principle I had been needing so badly. And I promptly named it Be-Bumpy (right along with Be-Creative and Be-Grateful and all those other ones). And I can say with perfect honesty that it is has changed my life.

Life always brings us one of two things in predominance, every moment. It brings them to us large and small, and in various measure, but it always brings them to us with an inequality, whether slight or great. At any moment you can look at where you are and ask yourself this question with assurance of a helpful answer: “Am I facing a challenge that I can do in God’s strength for His glory, or am I being blessed with a respite of happiness for which I can thank and praise Him?”

Sometimes you can pick either one or the other – in fact you can almost always do that, unless there is a hugely challenging valley or a hugely high mountain. In which case it is best to just stick with the obvious one, in my experience.

This question is still helpful to ask even if it is obvious which end of a hill you are on, though. It serves as a brilliant reminder of what your reaction should be to it.

Otherwise, it serves its regular purpose admirably: it gives you something to be excited and passionate about in the daily grind.

In other words, it brings an eternal perspective into your moment by moment life.

See, some people will say that all you need to do is discipline yourself to be diligent in those kinds of times. But what does that mean? How do you discipline yourself, and what in the world is discipline?

I would define discipline as a measure of the kind of maturity in which we make choices about our immediate actions based upon long range motivations. (Yes, another one of Jay’s extremely compact lexicology definitions, haha.) Christian discipline would mean that those long range motivations include a heavenly, eternal perspective

See, we always do what we want. Period. Every time. No exception. This is good, this is a law of life, and it is not part of our carnal nature. It is as true of angels and God as of us.

When I choose one choice out of several options, I am basing that choice off of my own preferences. If I choose one, it is because I want it more than the others: that is the definition of me choosing it. Innumerable factors go into why I want it more than others, but that doesn’t change the fact that I want that one most.

If someone walks up to me and asks for a hundred euros, I probably will not want to give it to him. I would rather keep it. I have no reason to think that giving him the money would bring me any value now or in any time in the future (including heaven).

If, on the other hand, he asks with a drawn and loaded gun, now he has added in another consideration that I must factor into my decision. I now want to give him the money because that is tied to me keeping my life. I want my life, and so I want to give him the money. I may not like having to make that decision, but I didn’t have a choice about that one.

Discipline is basically taking into account future results. If I choose to watch TV all day instead of working towards something productive, I am not displaying maturity. A mature person would look into the future, figure out what he wants there, and then based on those desires, figure out what needs to be done now. Then, he wants to work rather than watch TV, because he sees the value it will give him. Our fleshly nature is to avoid this kind of maturity and live in the now without regard for consequences. That is why an eternal perspective is so, so important.

When we sacrifice ourselves for God, we are doing it because we want to please Him more than we want to please our flesh. If we didn’t want to please Him, we wouldn’t do it. If we didn’t care about heaven, we wouldn’t do it. Etcetera.

This maturity can be gained in many ways of course… through study of the Scriptures, learning more about God and worshiping Him, experiencing consequences brought about by previous actions, motivation seminars, etc. But the more we learn to apply the widest and highest perspective possible to our immediate, current, day to day choices, the more this maturity will grow, the more our discipline will grow, the more our diligence will grow.

This powerful question brings all this together for you, tying your prime motive into your immediate task. Because your prime motive should be God.

So remember it. And if you have improvements on it, let me know in the comments. Or if you have other life principles, or if you have used this kind of idea yourself in your life, or if you just want to say welcome back to posting! (Haha, yeah, I know, it’s been way too long, and I am sorry.)

“Are you facing a challenge that you can do in God’s strength for His glory, or are you being blessed with a respite of happiness for which you can thank and praise Him?”

A New Kind of Modesty

Andromeda:  Textile Macro
Andromeda: Textile Macro by cobalt123, on Flickr

I walked down the high street of Cork, my head down, my ears dulled, and my heart aching. The atmosphere of the world washed over me like a warm wind laced with acid. I felt miserable. Every view my eyes beheld had an immodest diva as the centerpiece, framed by sensual suggestions. My stomach churned. I hate shopping. A strange glimmer of something caught the attention of the corner of my eye, and I glanced up. My eyes locked, and I smiled.

A girl. A real girl. Long hair. Long skirt. Subdued dress. Tastefully adorned. Probably homeschooled. Definitely Christian. Very pretty. At least to me she was. She might not be garishly redone and pimped like an android from Venus, but she was clean and wholesome. The sight of her refreshed me to no end as she walked through the teeming crowds of the world’s charms.

The winds of fleshly temptation blew about me unheeded; the heat of devilish suggestion beat upon me unnoticed. God had sent an angel to refreshen me in my battle, and even when she had gone, my heart was renewed, my eyes were alight with resolve, and my smile remained.

-a generic retelling of an all too infrequent occurrence in my life

Oooooh…! Jay is looking at girls!” I hear you say.

Yup. I do that.

Go ahead and gasp all you like; I am not apologizing. I want to talk about this. I want to encourage young ladies like the one described above (who I have never yet met, though I think I have seen the same one a few times here and there) in what they are doing. And to encourage those who aren’t, to start.

Please note what I saw in this girl: her outside features. All I could see was her clothing and her head. And yet I was inspired, encouraged, lifted, strengthened, and exhorted. How was that? The answer is pretty simple actually:

Clothing is a part of language.

Honestly, it is. It is a part of language just like body language or speech. This has been true as long as there have been clothes… in fact the first occurrence of clothes in the Bible (and in the world for that matter) emphasized this fact (Genesis 3:7-21). This quality of clothing is inescapable.

So what did this girl’s clothing say to me?

I am a Christian. I serve God with my heart and my body. I yield my personal desires to His requests. I seek to please Him in all I do. God is glorious, and worth serving. God has changed me. I am not beat down or trampled on: I am living joyously and full of life. I want to save myself for marriage, and I want to help you do the same. Live for God.”

Nice little sermon there, huh?  And that is why her appearance was like a drink of refreshing water straight from the fountain of life: she was glorifying God. She was pointing straight to Him. And His presence was there in that, blessing both her and me. And that was what gave me strength.

Of course I hear you saying, “But what if she doesn’t believe those things? What if she isn’t trying to say those things?” Well, the answer is rather obvious: there is a miscommunication. *grins*

But it doesn’t matter very much to me. See, if someone accidentally says they hate me, and I forgive them, it makes no difference to me than if they had really meant it and I forgave them. I react the same, and I am right to do so.

If someone gives out Bibles in an attempt to go undercover and subvert, destroy, and otherwise attack a church, those Bibles are not blocked from helping people. Lost may still become saved through his efforts, even if he didn’t mean it.

So it is with clothes. Whether you mean what they say or not, they still say it.

Therefore we all ought to take heed to what we wear to make sure we are saying the right thing.

Now, as with learning any language, there is a lot involved. Thankfully the Bible helps us out a ton in figuring this out (believe it or not, the vast majority of the language of clothing is not cultural, but built into us by God, and laid out in His Scripture). Unfortunately, there is also a ton of controversy on every single standard of communication that is in the Bible. Go figure. Lexicology is tough.

I want to focus on one particular part of this, though: adorning.

Leaving aside the standards of modesty, femininity, and cultural significance (assuming we are at least reasonably in agreement on those, though it would be surprising if we were), of course, because those would take a looooong time to go through.

I want to examine two passages in the Bible: 1 Timothy 2:8-10, and 1 Peter 3:1-5. This will be an exercise in hermeneutics, so hang with me. 🙂

Here is the first:

1 Timothy 2:8-10 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;

10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

And the second:

1 Peter 3:1-5 Likewise, ye wives, [be] in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
2 While they behold your
chaste conversation [coupled] with fear.
3
Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
4 But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God,
adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:

It is good to take these two in context with each other, since they are talking about the same topic, to a similar audience, in related contexts, and thus act as commentaries on each other.

There are two key words that tie these passages together (among other things of course): Conversation and Adorn.

Conversation means your way of life, plain and simple. 1 Peter actually mentions this word twice, and additionally uses the concept at least 3 times. 1 Timothy does not use the word, but uses the concepts around three times. The theme of these two passages is actually not really clothing, but your lifestyle in general.

This is what I was talking about just a bit ago: these passages are teaching us how to communicate godliness through our actions, including our dress.

Adorn is the important word. It is used in both passages, and provides the key to interpreting them.

ADORN’, v.t. [L. adorno, ad and orno, to deck, or beautify, to dress, set off, extol, furnish.
1. To deck or
decorate; to make beautiful; to add to beauty by dress; to deck with external ornaments.
A bride adorneth, herself with jewels. Isa 6.
To set off to
advantage; to add ornaments to; to embellish by any thing external or adventitious; as, to adorn a speech by appropriate action, sentiments with elegance of language, or a gallery with pictures.
3. To make
pleasing, or more pleasing; as, great abilities adorned by virtue or affability.
4. To display the
beauty or excellence of; as, to adorn the doctrine of God.

Webster’s 1828, of course.

According to Strong’s, every Greek and Hebrew word translated as ‘adorn’ in the Bible has the same definition presented here: to make beautiful by decorating.

With this definition, we are immediately presented with a logical problem.

1 Peter 3:3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;

So, at first glance, this would say that women are not supposed to braid their hair or wear gold or… wear clothes?

Then you think, oh, right, it says ‘adorn’ not ‘wear.’ Therefore we aren’t supposed to decorate ourselves with those things.

Which means women are not permitted to put anything on them which would make them beautiful. Even worse, they are not allowed to put anything on them that will make them not ugly (otherwise it would adorn). In which case the Muslims got it right. 😛

This view is untenable, not because of the Muslims, but because in other parts of Scripture, women are commanded to adorn themselves for their husbands… with jewels (which would defeat the purpose of this verse entirely, with this interpretation at least).

An example:

Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh [himself] with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth [herself] with her jewels.

Another interpretation is that they shouldn’t wear clothes at all, which is, ahem, obviously not the right one.

These are the interpretations you get if you look at only this verse. The only way to understand it correctly is to look at the context.

1 Peter 3:4 But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

The wearing of ornaments is not contrasted with drab apparel, but with a different adornment: good conversation. This is born out also in the sister passage in 1 Timothy.

1 Timothy 2:10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

And if you look at the example that Peter gives, it becomes even more clear (isn’t it great how the Bible interprets itself?):

1 Peter 3:5-6 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:

6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

Notice how it didn’t praise Sara for dressing in a bland and ugly fashion, but by pointing out her beautiful spirit.

And that is the point. This passage is exhorting women to make sure that their primary adornment is that of their spirit. If their clothes outshine their conversation, then that is not a good testimony.

They are saying the wrong thing.

Yes, women can wear gold, jewelry, braids, and even quality clothes fit for a princess of the King of kings; as long as their soul, their walk with God, their good works, their faith, their meekness, their sobriety, their shamefacedness, comes forth with yet greater splendor. In fact they must shine forth to such a degree that those are the things that people see first and talk about.

Ezekiel 16:8-14 Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time [was] the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.
9 Then washed I thee with water; yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil.
10 I clothed thee also with
broidered work, and shod thee with badgers‘ skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk.
11 I decked thee also with
ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck.
12 And I put a
jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head.
13 Thus wast thou decked with
gold and silver; and thy raiment [was of] fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom.
14 And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy
beauty: for it [was] perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD.

This is the word picture that God used to describe His redeeming work in Israel’s life, and ultimately, in our lives. God would not have used this word picture, which describes in fascinatingly vivid detail putting costly array (and even gold) on a girl, if He disapproved of those very things.

The focus of these verses is to exhort women to make sure their conversation outshines their adornment, not to forbid women from wearing gold or braiding their hair (etcetera).

This true interpretation is born out in the definitions and usage of the words in the context of 1 Timothy:

1 Timothy 2:9 …that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety.

Shamefacedness is easy: it is the opposite of ‘bold’, very close to ‘shy’ or ‘bashful.’ They do not put themselves forward.

Sobriety does not exclusively refer to the absence of drunkenness: it means “Habitual freedom from enthusiasm, inordinate passion or overheated imagination; calmness; coolness; as the sobriety of riper years; the sobriety of age.” Again, reserved, not putting yourself forward.

Modest really doesn’t only refer to sexual chastity, that is actually not even the primary definition. Webster has practically a sermon in his two definitions on this subject (‘modest’ and ‘modesty’), and I wish I had the space to quote it all here, but I am sure you have noticed that this post is fast becoming a book. But here is a snippet:

Not bold or forward; as a modest maid. The word may be thus used without reference to chastity.

Almost enough said, but I can’t leave without quoting this gem (pun intended) found at the end of Webster’s definition of modesty:

In females, modesty has the like character as in males; but the word is used also as synonymous with chastity, or purity of manners. In this sense, modesty results from purity of mind, or from the fear of disgrace and ignominy fortified by education and principle. Unaffected modesty is the sweetest charm of female excellence, the richest gem in the diadem of their honor.

He likes to wax eloquent, doesn’t he? 🙂 But the point is made well.

God wants us to be beautiful for His glory, just like a flower, or a waterfall, or a sunset glowing over the horizon of the ocean.

But we have been given a great gift that God did not give to these things. Above and beyond this sort of beauty, God has given us the capacity to radiate His splendor through our actions and our spirits.

And that is the mark of a child of God, when we do that.

P.S. I want to link to another post on this subject by a good friend of mine, Mrs. Parunak, on her blog Pursuing Titus 2. We don’t disagree on much. 🙂 But we do happen to disagree on this point, and her article, in fact, inspired me to write this one. Mine is a bit longer, though. 😛 I am not here to refute her at all (though I do welcome her to comment and let me know what she thinks, and if I missed anything). The only reason I am linking to her article, is because she does a great job presenting the contrary view.

http://pursuingtitus2.com/2010/09/07/you-might-need-to-take-a-deep-breath-for-this-one/

Rebellion and You

Torah inside of the former Glockengasse synago...
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What is rebellion?

First, why do we care? That question is easily dealt with:

1 Samuel 15:23 For rebellion [is as] the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness [is as] iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from [being] king.

Proverbs 17:11 An evil [man] seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him.

Jeremiah 28:16 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the LORD.

Remember that both rebellion and witchcraft were punished by stoning in OT Israel. Ouch. So… what is rebellion then?

Of course you know where I am going to go to find out, don’t you? 🙂

Yup, Webster’s 1828 Dictionary.

Open resistance to lawful authority.”

That is the short bit, and all we really need here, but the rest is very cool too, so check it out if you are interested. [http://1828.sorabji.com/1828/words/r/rebellion.html]

The only proper (meaning ‘approved by Jay’) shift of meaning that has transpired since Webster’s writing of this cogent definition is a variation of use which allows for rebellion to occur covertly, rather than openly. One may have a rebellious attitude that remains sequestered within your breast, and never sees the light of day, and yet remains truly rebellious in the sight of God.

(One could argue that this sense still retains the quality of openness, since all things are open to God. But if you take that into consideration you might as well strike it out of the definition anyways since all things are open and thus it ceases to be a defining factor.)

On to the next word.

What does it mean to resist?

To stand against; to withstand.”

To set yourself against something means that you are out from under it. You cannot be submissive and rebellious simultaneously. Thus rebellion is a rejection of authority.

Ah, but not just any authority.

Lawful authority.

I think that little word there, Lawful, is the most important word in that definition. I believe that is so because of this simple fact that it makes true:

You cannot rebel against unlawful authority. It simply cannot be done.

This ties directly into Romans 13:1-2.

Romans 13:1-2 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.

2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

The message of this passage is very clear and simple: Authority only comes from God. And so to resist lawful authority (rebellion) is indeed resisting God just as much as if you spit in His holy face or committed witchcraft.

Because of this powerful fact, we must be very careful. Why? People claim to have authority over us constantly, and by thereby demanding obedience of us they are claiming to be the ministers of God. Whether or not they think they are claiming this is irrelevant.

The Bible is very very clear that we are all equal, and equally at liberty from the control of others, except where God has specifically delineated an authority figure to perform a specific function.

These authority figures are defined and instituted by God for our good. That is His created order: for us to submit ourselves to these authority figures. I cannot go into all of the different ones here (that is a matter for many books), but I do want to point something out:

If an authority figure steps outside of his jurisdiction and exerts control that was not given him by God, he is sinning. And by definition, he is sinning against someone (or more than one someone). This does not mean that we ought to revolt (notice my word choice: we can’t rebel against him, since he isn’t exerting lawful authority, we can only revolt) against him, though. Generally we ought to merely yield (give up your cloak, turn the other cheek, etc.). There are very few situations in which the Bible commands us to revolt, resist, and overthrow unlawful authority. Most of the time we ought to pass it by.

Realize this though: your parents are your lawful authority, and their jurisdiction is far reaching. Their authority surpasses and supersedes the authority of every other ordination of God. That means that if your pastor tells you to do one thing, and your father tells you to do another, you obey your father. Period. Full stop. No questions, no buts, no hesitations, no qualms.

Realize also that even if your parents tell you to do something that you consider to be sin (like for example not going to church, or not wearing a headcovering, or going to public school, or reading a secular book on the ‘Sabbath’ day (I am looking at you Elsie Dinsmore)) in the vast majority of cases, you ought to obey. Even if they are not saved. (Especially if they are not saved, depending on how you look at it.) This passes the responsibility for that action onto them, and God will bless you in that deed.

Why do I say this? Wouldn’t God say that you aren’t rebelling since it isn’t their jurisdiction?

Because God commanded us to do it. Do a study of 1 Peter 3:1-6 and ask me about it in the comments if you don’t see it.

Controversial issue, I know. But those who know me know that I don’t shy from those. * smile * There are a lot of facets that I haven’t covered (such as when parental authority ceases to be binding), but I will save those for another time and another post.

What do you think? How do you think you should change your life in light of this study? In particular, what do you think about how you are treating (and thinking about) your parents? Are you rebelling against them in your heart or in your actions by simply not yielding to them with all your heart?

I Am In Love!

I like to put riddles in my statuses, and yesterday was no exception. I posted a short, 42 character message to twitter, buzz, and facebook, and sparked an explosion of responses like none other. The status was this:

“I have a girlfriend; I am in love; she is perfect.”

Some who knew me very well immediately concluded, rightly, that this could not be taken literally.

Others were not sure, thinking that I might possibly, somehow be serious.

Some guessed that the ‘she’ was a new technology, an animal, a boat, a car, the Church, and any number of random and incorrect ideas.

Most were frantic for me to reveal the answer, a couple were bright enough to actually figure it out.

It was very fun.

But now is the time for me to reveal the answer.

She is a ‘her.’ Not an ‘it.’

She is not human.

Nonetheless she is my girlfriend, nonetheless I do love her, and she is perfect.

Her name is:

Wisdom.

Go ahead and kick yourself. 🙂

Proverbs 4:6-9 Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee.

7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

8 Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her.

9 She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.

Proverbs 8:1-11 Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?

2 She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.

3 She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.

4 Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.

5 O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.

6 Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.

7 For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.

8 All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.

9 They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.

10 Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.

11 For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

Wisdom is represented as a gracious woman throughout Proverbs. She is said to have been there with God before time began, and to have worked with him in the creation of the world. And we are commanded to love her, to embrace her, to dedicate ourselves to her.

And yes, we are commanded to consider her as our sister, our kinswoman, which is well within the limits of the definition of the word ‘girlfriend.’ 😉

Wisdom is valuable knowledge or skill (Prudence is knowing how to avoid evil), plain and simple. People try to give it other meanings, but they aren’t really supported from the Biblical use of the word. The Wisdom character in Proverbs, if you really study her out, is one of the attributes and aspects of God Himself.

God supplies our every relational need. He is our Father, our King, our Brother, our Betrothed, and… our Sister. Pretty cool.

So, what are your thoughts? How can we act out this very interesting relationship with Wisdom in real life?

How Immature of You!

Welcome to my second guest post! This one is done by one of my other closest friends on the internet, a man of many names. I know him best as Neil of Erk, because that is what I first met him as (on Holy Worlds). He is also known as Jordan Wright, and as the author of his blog, Beware the Darkness, where I recently did a guest post for him. I am honored to now post his article on something which I consider to be of prime importance.

So without further ado, welcome Neil of Erk!

——–

Most, if not all, of the people who read this post probably desire to be mature. The difference is mainly in our perceptions of mature people, and what we mean when we use the word “mature”. I would like to briefly cover several different forms of maturity, and then discuss the final, and most valuable, form of maturity: Spiritual maturity.

First, there is physical maturity. This “maturity” is largely relative, but clear in certain areas. A child, for example, is generally to be considered physically weak, in need of physical support, and is clearly still working on mastering hand-eye coordination. A young man is often said to be in “the peak of physical condition”, “fit”, or “healthy”. Such young people are usually strong and well coordinated. This is generally what we mean by physical maturity. Older people sometimes said to have reached “a ripe old age”, a statement that refers to a fruit that has ripened.

There is also mental maturity. Children are usually poor logicians; the wise and sage elders are often the masters of logic. Children usually have difficulty understanding scientific concepts, while those “over the hill” seem to be the greatest scientists. Mental maturity is the most intangible form of maturity, because it is often based on our own personality type, and other such relative factors, which cause us to compare other persons to our self.

The greatest, and second most tangible, form of maturity is spiritual maturity. It is my personal belief, based on Biblical and natural principles, that there are three stages of spiritual life, and when a person is fulfilling their current role in these three stages, they are to be considered mature.

When a child is born into the world, they are also born into submission, the first stage of a long walk through life. During the time of submission children and youths are like untamed colts, to be broken to the will of the Lord, so that they may serve him better. This is a period of weakness. We serve, and slave, and are not to question, merely to do, for in doing is learning. The lessons of submission form the building blocks of the next stage of our lives.

When a young man or woman is fully submitted to their parents and the Lord, then they ought to be considered “adult” in their behavior. At this point the path men will walk becomes different from the path woman will walk, mostly in timing, but also in direction.

When a young man has been fully broken, God considers him ready for his tasks, and empowers him with the spiritual powers to perform these tasks. This marks the entrance to manhood, as well as the departure from submission and the entry into the stage of strength. This is not to say that the lessons and rules of submission change, but a man’s place in the world has changed. He is not quickly becoming an authority. This is the path of strength, and its lessons and trials will consume most of a man’s life.

The journey of strength is different for a woman, because while she may become an authority figure as a parent, she will also be in submission to her husband, rather than a boss at the office, or some other employer. This might almost be considered a blessing, because a woman will be constantly reminded of the lessons of submission, and yet, will still have many authority positions.

Finally, we come to sacrifice. Usually women enter this stage before men, but it appears similarly for both.

A person who is fully committed to the stage of sacrifice has reached the age where they must let go of the gifts they have been given. Eye sight fades, hearing become unclear, the limbs move slowly, even the mind is effected. But that alone is no sacrifice, it is just loss.

Sacrifice is even more. Not only are the elderly loosing their gifts and strengths, but those who are wise begin spend what little strength they have left on the younger generation: Pouring out their strength and wisdom to those farther behind on the path. The leader becomes the advisor. The warrior becomes the teacher.

Now, I might argue that those who reach the stage of sacrifice are the mature, but that’s not how I see it. Allow me to explain.

Each stage has a sort of “Code of Honor” behind it. Submission, Strength, Sacrifice, they all have a code and set of concepts that guide you through the stage. I believe those that truly understand and follow these “codes” are the mature.

The youth who is truly submitted to authority. The adult who is boldly using their spiritual gifts, wisely ordering those who have been placed under them. The elderly, gently and strongly giving away that spiritual power, giving up leading for advising, strength for sacrifice.

These people, they are the mature.

You will do well to learn from them.