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Me!! I Found One!!

Angie and Brandon

It’s ancient Hebrew poetry, and it’s found in the midst of wisdom literature. So if you understand the biblical context of Proverbs 31:10, it makes sense as a rhetorical question. “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her worth is far above rubies.”

As Solomon recounts the advice of his mother to him about finding the ideal woman, she concludes that the ideal woman can’t be found. But the purpose is not to say that no women are virtuous, but rather to make a point: virtuous people are rare. They shouldn’t be, but they are. And if you find one, you’ve found someone of great worth to her world.

I once wrote about this passage that the woman in the passage didn’t exist, and that no woman should have to live up to some of the sermons we’ve preached from these verses. I’ve always thought it was funny how male Pastors stand in pulpits on Mother’s Day and call upon women to live up to this lofty standard of womanhood. I don’t know about the rest of my brethren, but I’ve given up on trying to be an expert on womanhood.

Here is what I do know – I married a virtuous woman.

Most of the people reading this blog post won’t understand. You won’t get it. You’ll think I’m writing this because that’s what you’re supposed to do on Valentine’s Day – blog about your sweetheart. But I’ve done a lot of reflecting on this. God gave me the priceless gift of a virtuous wife.

He gave me a wife who, in a sense, puts me to shame, takes me to school, and outshines me! I don’t mean that in a bad way. I just mean that in all the ways I’ve failed her, I have ultimately failed to deserve one who has been so good, so faithful, and so loving toward me.

I’m madly in love with Angie Cox. I want to chase her and make her mine each day. I don’t always live up to those words. Some days I’m in a bad mood, I’m selfish, or I’m thoughtless and insensitive, so she suffers. But when I’m in my right mind, when I come to my senses, I know her worth is far above rubies. She’s worthy of a chase. She’s worthy of pursuit.

Angie, I so appreciate you. I’m so proud of you. I’m so grateful you’re here in my life. You’ll never know what a difference you’ve made in me. And I think you’re wonderful. You’re beautiful. You’re full of class. You’re a delight from the smile you wear to the flowers you put in your hair. I love your laugh. I love the way you love our kids. I love the way you help to keep me in line, which is at times an enormous job.

I read a statistic this morning. 80% of men, if given the opportunity to choose again, would still choose to marry their present wife. How sad that it isn’t 100%. I can’t imagine anybody else at my side.

Angie, you’re awesome, and I love you. And I’m so glad that every time I ask “will you be my Valentine,” you still say yes… so far.

Who can find a virtuous woman?… Me!! I found one!!

When Our Plans Line Up With God’s Plans

“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.” -Proverbs 16:9

Have you ever mistakenly assumed that you are totally in charge of your own life? God created us to be choice-makers and we have certainly made our fair share of bad choices. He grants us free will, the ability to determine what we’re going to do at the crossroads’ of life. At the same time, however, He reserves the right to direct the course of human history as He wills. His sovereignty is never impugned by our choices.

Solomon said that a man plans his pathway in life, but then God directs the steps he actually takes. When I was a teenager, preaching was the furthest ambition from my mind. I would never have dreamed of being a pastor. I had plans of my own and they did not involve leading a church. But at some point, God began to change the direction of my heart so that I responded and desired to do the very thing He was calling me to do – preach. He placed people in my path that directed me toward ministry. I can look back now and see His guiding hand bringing me every step of the way to where I am now.

Have your plans matched God’s? It’s great to have a plan. It’s wise to think about the future and to get ready for the best and/or the worst, but remember that our plans are always subject to change depending on God’s plans. Go ahead and devise your way, but let God direct your steps today.

The Remedy for Iniquity

“By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.” -Proverbs 16:6

We all want mercy when we’ve messed up, but we rarely want truth, but it is truth that really keeps us clean. Because of God’s mercy, He forgives us and wipes the sleight clean. But by speaking His truth to our lives through His Word, we are kept clean. We often make the assumption that when someone shows us mercy, they should then refuse to speak harshly with us. God handles our iniquity otherwise.

Remember the woman crumpled at Jesus’ feet who felt the mercy of God as the men dropped their rocks? Jesus then gave her a word of truth – “go and sin no more.” God’s mercy says, “Yes, I forgive you, but you’re going to have to change.” And it is in hearing these harsh truths from God that we revere Him and therefore, depart from evil.

Most of us want to be “off the hook” but we don’t want to learn anything from our experience. God, however, wants to change us through His truth so that we fear Him, and so that we depart from the evil of our pasts.

Learning to Hate (the Right Things)

“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.”—Proverbs 8:13

Sin is a bitter enemy. Until we learn to spot it, name it, and hate it, we’ll never overcome it. Learning to hate sin is a matter of agreeing with God about sin – sharing His perspective on it. Sin has done nothing but wreck and plunder God’s wonderful creation, so He detests it. Sin is the very opposite of all that is divine in nature, so God loathes it. Repentance demands that we turn from our sin and begin to agree with God about it – to hate it as He does.

Our problem is often that we minimize sin in our lives. Why? Because the world does so. When we laugh along with the world at inappropriate humor, at the triviality of injustice, or at the grossness of sin, we’re sort of participating in it, and we’re desensitizing ourselves to it as well. If you want to overcome sin, you must look at it the way God does – with hatred.

Never hate others. Never hate yourself. But learn to hate that which hurts you and others around you – sin.

The Priceless Woman

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.”—Proverbs 31:10

The author of this great passage of Scripture is no doubt, King Solomon, writing under a pseudonym, King Lemuel. He is relating the advice his own Mother taught him about finding the right woman. There may have been some hint at a “dowry,” but Solomon’s intention was to show that a virtuous woman is of great worth, and priceless. Certainly for a King such as Solomon to find one who would truly love him, not for his riches, but for his soul, would be a rare find.

God often blesses us with priceless people. Today, Angie and I celebrate our eighth anniversary, and I can hardly believe it! I’m so thankful for the priceless woman God gave to me. I know that Angie selflessly loves me and supports me. I know that she cherishes our daughter with a deep adoration. She loves the Lord, His Word, and His church. She loves all children, everywhere, and works on their behalf daily.

The “Proverbs 31 Woman” is the ideal woman, a picture of perfection. She’s a protector (v. 11), a business woman (v. 13), a shopper (v. 14), a giver and a cook (v. 15), a real estate investor and a farmer (v. 16), a fitness queen (v. 17), a sleepless warrior (v. 18), a seamstress (v. 19), a philanthropist and humanitarian (v. 20), a decorator and fashion designer (v. 22), a distributor (v. 24), and an educator (v. 26). Who wants to model their life after someone like that???

The lesson of King Lemuel’s Mother surely was that the virtuous woman does whatever God’s will dictates with passion and perseverance. She is willing to be stretched for others, in the name of the Lord. Thank you, Lord, for the woman in my home who loves so many people with such great passion!!!