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Tag: Nehemiah

muscled arm

Muscles Not Required

I can write about chiseled features, a shirt stretched across broad, muscular shoulders, a lithe, athletic build, and thick waves of dark hair, curling slightly at the ends, but that isn’t what makes a hero sexy—at least not enough to keep readers flipping pages.

Three thousand people surveyed by a British Health Care Company found a man’s chest to be the most attractive male physical characteristic, followed by hair and arms. While I did notice my husband’s broad shoulders and tall physique, it was his self-confidence and the way others looked to him for leadership that woke something inside me, like the delicious smell of coffee in the morning.

muscled chest

A muscular chest and thick hair may turn heads, but it is a firm sense of integrity and principles that turns women’s hearts. They don’t have to be able to bench 200 lbs. or drop and do 100 pushups. They don’t need muscles bulging on top of muscles. It’s inner courage and strength of conviction that’s sexy.

One of my favorite books of the Bible is Nehemiah. Nehemiah is an attractive character. He was a cupbearer to the king, which was a distinguished career at that time. It would have come with prestige and a nice income, but that wasn’t his allure. Nehemiah was unafraid to show his feelings in his passion for his homeland and anguish that his ancestorial city lay in ruins. His ability to display and understand emotions, while an admirable quality, wasn’t what made Nehemiah so captivating

What’s attractive to readers and heroines is the confidence the hero exudes (albeit not always right away) that he will stand his ground to protect his beliefs and loved ones. Even against opposition, Nehemiah showed leadership in directing his men on how to rebuild the wall and a devoutness toward God, instructing his men, “Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families (Chp4. v14).” This is the point when I need to turn down the AC because my Bible was getting hot.

Nehemiah continues to impress by standing firm against Sanballat and other enemies. His dedication to his principles showed when he told Sanballat’s messenger that Nehemiah was doing a great work and he wouldn’t come from his ladder. He displayed integrity and wisdom when he saw through the lies of the false prophet sent by Tobiah and Sanballat and rebuked them. “Why would a man like me run for cover? Why would a man like me use The Temple as a hideout? I won’t do it.” Nehemiah drew a line in the sand that he would not cross and communicated that others would pay the price if they crossed it.

This don’t-mess-with-me-or-you’ll-regret-it is what I call a Nehemiah moment—an amazing display of inner courage and fortitude that makes for a swoon-worthy hero.

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men welding weapons

Bring on the Opposition

I used to cringe when the phone rang. There was a time in my life when I was called down to my son’s school daily to discipline him. One day, weary, defeated, and overwhelmed after leaving, I had cried off all my makeup and still had to return to work, so I stopped at a CVS to buy eyeliner. I stood in the makeup section with an eye-pencil clutched in my hand and caught a glimpse of my puffy eyes and red splotchy face in the mirror. The words of Nehemiah rang in my head. “I am doing a great work and cannot come down.” (Nehemiah 6:3)

God had placed a vision in Nehemiah’s heart to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem (which had been torn down and the gates burned). While he and his men repaired the wall, Sanballat, the Governor of Samaria to the north, and his cronies heard about Nehemiah’s work and attempted to thwart him. He taunted, mocked, and scorned the men as they labored and later moved to threats, lies, and plans of harm. Nehemiah told his people, “Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your friends, your families, and your homes!” (Nehemiah 4:14) He instructed his men to keep their weapons on them at all times. They held a hammer in one hand and a sword in the other while up on ladders. They slept in their clothes, prepared and ready.

What Nehemiah said still applies. That day, at the CVS, eyeliner became my warpaint. I was ready to do battle and fight for my son, my family, and my home, and God has been faithful. Last night, that same son sat in our back yard with a group of 28+ high schoolers praying.

wooden ladder

Listen to Nehemiah’s words. Hear them in your own heart. Don’t be afraid of the enemy. Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your friends, your families, and your homes! When we are doing God’s work, there will be opposition. Sometimes our battle will be a visible foe like Sanballat. Sometimes it won’t be tangible. The Apostle Paul stated, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).” Battles aren’t easy. Nehemiah prayed, then, he pressed through, stayed on that ladder, and continued his great work despite the trouble. In the end, it was Sanballat and his men who lost their self-confidence because they realized this work had been done by the hand of God.

Whether your warpaint is eyeliner, lipstick, a slick hairdo, or a knockout pair of shoes, be at the ready. A battle is waging whether we want it to or not, but we are doing a great work, and despite the opposition, we need to stay on those ladders with hammer and swords in hand until God’s work is completed.

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