The Formidable Mrs. Moudy

Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.

Proverbs 31:10, RSV


There are fewer and fewer people who remember Mrs. Moudy, but if you were raised in the town I live you were likely raised by someone who does. The reason for this is that Mrs. Moudy taught High School English from the 1930's through the 1950's in Happy, Texas, and those who had her have never forgotten her.


If you have ever had that teacher in school, then you will understand. You remember the one! It was that teacher whom you were sure thought they were the only teacher who taught the only subject in the only class you had. In reality, you had plenty of other teachers in more than enough classes to keep you more than occupied, but this teacher was a tyrant. They made you do homework and that homework cut severely into your leisure time.


My Mrs. Moudy went by the alias of Mrs. Washenfelder in a city 750 miles away from happy. While the names were different, their M. O.'s were the same for they loaded everyone down with homework, had frequent tests, and then had the audacity to hand out C's to those who made average grades. These were the teachers everyone talked about. You would hear former students warn about them with sly grins on their faces, and current students complain about them with anything but a smile. While you did not actually "hate" them, the words "loath" and "despise" would not have been inaccurate descriptors.


But then you did graduate, despite the Mrs. Moudys and Mrs. Washenfelders, and something very strange happened: They slowly evolved to become something quite different than you had previously imagined. This evolution was slow, maybe first appearing with your freshman English class that was so pitifully easy that you made an A without hardly trying. Or maybe your boss at work complimented you on a report you prepared for an important client. Maybe it was the person who commented on your beautiful handwriting, but whatever the situation, it slowly dawned on you that you had that particular teacher to thank.


And then you began to utter words that you never thought would come from your mouth like, "that teacher wasn't so bad after all" or "Wow! I guess I did learn something from that mean old woman" or even "best teacher I ever had - the world would be better off if everybody had studied English under her." And after awhile the transformation was complete. You realized that what little discipline you had acquired outside of your parents had actually been instilled by that teacher. And of the few teacher's whose names you could still remember, the Mrs. Moudys and Mrs. Washenfelders were ones you would never forget.


And though I don't know everything about my own English teacher's background, I do know quite a bit about the "Indominable Mrs. Moudy" (a phrase we owe to Billie Silvey), for Mrs. Moudy was my wife's grandmother. I know that she was a righteous woman who loved the Lord, her family, and her students - in that order. And because she loved God, she felt a keen responsibility to those she was charged with teaching. And though demanding and strict and sometimes indominable, she was a woman who really did love her students so she made sure that she got the best out of them.


The world would be much better off with a lot more just such righteous women of God, wouldn't you agree?


Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gates.

Proverbs 31:30-31



Righteousness Exalts a Nation

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.

Proverbs 14:34, NIV


As a recovering "big city" man, I have probably spent more time than I should looking at videos and news stories related to America's large towns. Because of my dad's job, our family lived on the outskirts of Denver, Seattle and Houston, and we got to enjoy many of the amenities of these metropolitan areas. There were few things more exciting than going to places like the Denver Zoo, or riding the elevator all the way up the Space Needle that had been built to showcase America's cutting edge architecture for the 1962 World's Fair. The greatest thrill though was getting to go to the "Eighth Wonder of the World" and watch indoor baseball games at Houston's Astrodome.


I suppose growing up around these cities during their heydays was something I took for granted at the time. But now, all three of these cities are but a shell of their former glory. It's true that there are still a few "sanitized" areas where one can go and think they they are still in there prime, but when you stray but a few blocks from the areas for "public view" you quickly see things that you wish you had never seen. There are homeless encampments and drug infested communities wherein you can see things that even Hollywood has too much morality to display.


What happened?


I think Solomon covered it pretty well in the inspired verse we read above. When a people are righteous the resulting blessings have the capacity to exalt an entire nation. This was true of the America I grew up in as a child. While it's true that there were "skid rows" in many towns of that era, they were isolated for the most part and the denizens of these wicked areas hesitated to stray too far lest they be discovered and disciplined. But now? Now we see open wickedness and crime and behavior too shameful to discuss. The reason for this is also revealed in the preceding passage. It is because sin is always a disgrace to any people, and the penalties for that disgrace spread like a cancer.


So why talk about this now? I live in a small town that is pretty much filled with righteous people so it shouldn't be a problem, should it? Yet when I look around even our small town I see the same seeds of destruction that were being planted in the sex, drugs and rock 'n roll era I grew up in during the 1960's. I don't look too far to see the consequences of our own drug communities even within a small town. And you also don't have to look too far to see the beginnings of the squalor and rot that always seem to accompany a loosening of morals. And while it is true that I wouldn't want to live anywhere else because of the wonderful righteous people that still make up the vast majority of our beautiful little town, I know that this may not be the case for my children if we do not get control of ourselves.


For the truth of the matter can never change: Righteousness will always exalt, and sin will always bring shame. One of the reasons that I write these little articles is not just to remember the good times that were, but also to encourage others to do the work that is needed to ensure the good times that will be. Our children and our grandchildren deserve this and so, by the way, does God. So, let us all be determined to restore and develop the types of behavior that God expects of us so that we can leave behind something that our children will be proud of. It would be too horrible to conceive that we could leave behind anything that would disgrace their memories of us, so we need to get to work now.


It won't be easy. But, one heart at a time, we can all return to God and then we can help others do the same. Those who refuse can be ignored only so long before their sin begins to rot entire communities, so we must not forget them either. We must always remember that God loves them so we need to love them too. But we also need to remember to first and foremost protect the innocent ones that will suffer if we do not do something to reign in the sin that threatens to overtake and disgrace any community - ours included - should that sin be left unchecked.


And we need to do this understanding that righteousness always exalts a people, but sin will always disgrace a nation. Which, I wonder, will we choose? 



He Has Risen!

But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He has risen, as He said. Come see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead..."

Matthew 28:5-7, RSV


There it is! In a few short sentences we have the basis for the hope that all Christians have. We later read in Romans chapter six that all who have entered those soul-cleansing waters of baptism and have risen up from that watery grave will surely take part with Jesus in the resurrection that is promised to those who are faithful. The resurrection of Christ is perhaps the most important part of the Gospel and yet most people will rarely even think about it. But we do need to remember, for the resurrection of the dead is the key to our faith.


So let us take a moment or two to do just that:


We are told that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In the Gospel of John it is further revealed that Christ took part in that creation. This explains Who was with God in Genesis 1:26 when God said. "let Us make man in Our image". Later, when the time had fully come, God sent His Son again, this time in the physical form of a man, born of a virgin. Jesus then grew up as the perfect son, obedient to His earthly parents and always aware of His duty to be about the business of His Heavenly Father. 


When He revealed Himself it was through the power of miracles. The nature of these miracles revealed His great love for all men, for they were used to help, to heal, to feed, and to give testimony that He was indeed the very Son of God that the world had been waiting for. But wicked leaders soon revealed their true nature, for instead of rejoicing at His coming, they hated Him and immediately plotted His death. It seems that Satan spared no effort in this for wicked men from the Jews and the Gentiles all played their role.


And they took this gentle man, this Holy Son of God, and they lied about Him and had Him arrested. He was brought before the "religious" leaders of the Jews who spat upon Him and slapped Him in the face and beat Him. Then they turned our precious Savior over to the proper governing authorities who also spat upon Him and then beat him twice: Once by the formal scourging process, and then again just for meanness by the soldiers entrusted with His care. 


Then the people, the very people whom He had fed and healed, called for Him to be crucified. Then they came to the crucifixion and witnessed Him being stripped and nailed to that rough cross. Then many took that opportunity to show their final disdain for the Lord by parading past the cross in order to mock and curse Him. After three full hours of this wicked abuse, God caused a darkness to come over the land for three more hours to put an end to this terrible spectacle. At the end of those those three hours Jesus said, "it is finished" and gave up His spirit.


I wonder if at that time Satan had any inkling of what was to come. At the height of the evil one's victory, the death knell was sounding for all who would oppose God and Christ. For once Jesus's body was laid in the tomb, He began the process of taking away Satan's power of death over righteous men for all time. This was proved within three days when Jesus rose from the dead! You see, it was not just the shedding of our Lord's precious blood as a sacrifice that would remove the sins of all His disciples that was accomplished that day. It was also the beginning of the process that would culminate in His resurrection from the dead three days later.


Christ had indeed been raised from the dead by the power of God! And it is because He arose that we, too, have the opportunity to take part in the great resurrection someday. But I think we should all take caution in this fact: This resurrection was never intended for those who would merely observe this day with a brief memorial service followed by feasting and "easter" egg hunts. This resurrection is only for those who are willing to take up their crosses daily, and follow Him.


Are we willing to do that? It is a tall order indeed, but for those who are willing to take up their own crosses and live a life of sacrifice for Him, there will be a day when the dead in Christ arise and His disciples will live with Him forever. This is what we are here for. This is the true meaning of the season that we have before us now. He arose! And someday, the faithful in Christ will rise with Him!


He is risen!



Can a Sentence from God's Word Change Your Life?

The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.

Proverbs 12:15, NIV


Despite all the dumb mistakes I have made in life, I do have one or two things sprinkled in that have truly served me well. Among the latter, acquiring the practice of reading from God's Word at the beginning of each day has changed my life. For more years than I can remember, I have added to my regular Bible study the habit of reading from one chapter from the Book of Psalms or Proverbs each day. Since there are 150 Psalms and 31 chapters in Proverbs, that works out to a complete reading of these two books every half-year. And though it rarely takes more than five minutes each morning, this routine has genuinely changed my life.


It's like the Proverb above. It literally takes less than 5 seconds to read it, but you can roll around your brain the message it contains for the rest of the day. And if we will really consider the magnificent truth it reveals, it has the power to change your life! Just think of how many people you run across in a typical day who wouldn't take advice if their life were to depend on it. Because of this stubborn and foolish behavior, they often find themselves in difficulties that cause them to believe that life is just not fair. However, had they just accepted some of the advice that is so clearly revealed within God's Word, their troubles would likely diminish to the point that they felt that life was pretty good. More than fair, one might even conclude.


What I have been able to enjoy for many years now is the daily injection of God's wisdom into my mind that has helped me through countless situations. Take the Proverb that states, "The lips of a fool invite a beating, but a wise man holds his tongue". It took me a long, long time to learn the importance of this passage, but the few times I have actually put it into practice have allowed me to see the great benefits of just one of God's truths. I only wish I had learned to acquire this habit in my younger years, for it surely would have saved me more than one beating.


The fact is that there are many simple truths contained in God's Word that have the ability to change our entire lives. The question is, do we see it? An even more important question is, will we do it? It's something to think about, isn't it, and all for the incredibly low price of about five minutes of your time each day. Who knows, you might even run across a sentence or two that completely changes your life. 

He Restores Us!

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads us beside still waters. He restores my soul.

from the 23rd Psalm


I hate being sick! Perhaps you feel the same way. As I write this article I am sick. I'm not sure if it's contagious, but you might want to back away from your screen a bit just to be safe.


I remember an occasion when I was about five or six. It was a beautiful summer day in Broomfield, Colorado and all of the kids in the neighborhood besides me were out playing having the most fun that anyone had ever had in their entire lives. I knew they were having fun because the window was open and the sounds of their joy reached up to my Mom and Dad's bedroom where I was imprisoned. From the noise they were making it seemed clear that they were playing my favorite new game, frisbee volleyball.


And there I lay, confined to the makeshift hospital ward of our house having to listen to them have fun without me.


It wasn't fair and I likely told my mother just that. I really didn't feel all that bad either - just a small case of strep throat was all. It wasn't like I was going to die and it wouldn't have killed Mom to let me go out and play. But she could be a stubborn and meddlesome woman and she would not relent and that was just that. Maybe you had a Mom and if so you will understand. I really hated being sick when I was five years old. And on top of all that I probably had to go to the Dr. and get a shot of penicillin and I hated shots more than being sick. But until I was well and "we" were sure I was not contagious, I just had to remain a prisoner in our own house.


But now I am older and wiser. It's a rare, windless spring day in West Texas and I am sitting here typing on a key board instead of playing with my grandchildren who were supposed to come over and play with me today. They are two and three years of age and I know that they will be playing some favorite new game of mine while I stay inside and convalesce. I may be older and wiser now (or at least 50% of that) but I still don't like being sick. I wish I could get well quicker, but I would probably have to go to the Dr. and get a shot of penicillin (do they still have that?) and I still hate going to the doctor about as much as I do being sick. But I realize now that until I am well and sure that I am not contagious I will have to remain confined so I don't pass this along to anyone else.


As bad as being physically sick is, being spiritually sick is far worse. I know that there are people all over the world who are suffering from ailments of the soul, and it is killing them. The tragic thing about many of these people is that though they have a chronic soul-sickness they are virtually symptom free. That being the case, they feel confident in "going outside" and infecting everyone they come in contact with. But after a while they do begin to feel the effects of their spiritual illness, but they really don't know what they have and they don't know what to do about it. They are literally dying and at some point they may actually realize it, but what can they do?


That's where the Great Physician comes in. The Lord has a way of brining us out of the fog of sickness and into the green pastures of salvation. His remedy results in our lying beside those still, healing waters. Furthermore, His cure is complete and without unpleasant side effects: It literally restores our soul!


God and Christ truly are the remedy for what ails this world, if the world would only accept it. It soothes whatever is anxious within and Their restorative powers are complete. And, just as getting to go out into green pastures with water frontage would be Heaven for anyone who had been in the gloomy confines of the sick ward of their own making, having our souls restored in such a way will result in Heaven someday. The only question is are we willing to accept the cure?