This is why Darkness is Winning-

 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light– Ephesians 5:8 NKJV

We live in the best of times and the worst of times. 

Our generation has been blessed with comforts, luxuries and technological conveniences previous generations would have had a hard time even imagining. 

However. 

 Slavery has experienced a resurgence in recent years with 40.3 million people worldwide living out their entire lives in modern slavery. Governments are becoming more dictatorial and less accepting of opposing views.  Big business and big government have formed an unholy alliance, the two have teamed up and are making speech more censored and far less free. The average person is petrified to speak their mind on a myriad of different subjects out of fear of being publicly vilified or “cancelled”. Ancient pagan notions concerning sexuality have become normalized. This has led to a change in values surrounding sexuality. The resultant promiscuity has left millions feeling physically gratified but emotionally empty. Lawlessness has become commonplace. Murders and assaults and nearly every other form of crime is on the uptick. Our cities are no longer safe spaces to work and play.  Left-leaning thugs routinely threaten the rest of society with violence if they don’t get the outcome they want from a trial or court case. Fear of disease and death has left millions of people emotionally crippled and unable to enjoy normal, everyday activities. It feels as if darkness is winning.

Because it is. 

In many regards, life is getting worse not better. We are slowly devolving into the world the apostle Paul predicted we would end up with in 2nd Timothy 3:1-3. He foresaw people would be lovers of themselves, ungrateful and unholy, unwilling and unable to do good or love others well. Sigh. There are reasons for this sorry state of affairs and a lot of those reasons have to with how Christians have conducted themselves for the last couple of decades.  Following are three of the biggest problems:

Men have left every significant social fight of our time to women-

I watch a lot of news. In recent months there has been a great deal of coverage concerning school board meetings where parents are fighting for changes in history and sex education curricula. In every one of those meetings women outnumber men by at least 3-1. Every. Single. Time. I do not believe the only realm a woman should have a voice or play a significant role is in the home. I do not think men should do all the fighting while women stay home baking cookies.  We are all Christian soldiers called to the fight for righteousness, truth and the souls of the lost (2nd Timothy 2:3-4). Women and men were created by God equally but differently so that they could join forces and work together to bring about God’s purposes in the world (Genesis 1:26-28). Anytime men or women silo themselves and attempt to do anything significant without the other sex we lose half our fighting force and all the uniqueness the other gender has to offer.  It is a fact that many (not all) Christian men are MIA. They are sitting at home watching the game while their wives go to school board meetings and volunteer in soup kitchens. They sleep in on Sunday mornings while their wives take the kids to Church, they drink beer while their wives pray with the kids.  Until more Christian men are willing to get off their rumps, get in the game and start fighting alongside the women for what’s right we will continue to lose more battles than we win. 

Christians have routinely put preferences over principals- 

Here’s a hard truth: the average woke heathen would rather poke out his or her own eye with a dirty stick than purchase a product from a company that espouses traditional views on marriage, sexuality or gender. This is true even if there is no equivalent alternative to the product they want. Woke heathens will just go without rather than spend their hard-earned money at a business that doesn’t share their values. Here’s an even harder truth: the average committed Christian will cheerfully buy from the wokest of corporations, even when there’s an alternative product available. We buy what we buy simply because we prefer the products, cost or convenience the woke company provides. I hate boycotts, they rarely work and sometimes they even backfire. However, I do think we should consider where companies like Starbucks, Target and Amazon donate their money before we contribute anymore of ours (God’s really) to companies that are actively attempting to tear down our values.  

Our theology has made us spiritually lazy-

The idea of a pre-tribulation rapture has taken root in most Christian denominations. I am not necessarily opposed to this theology. However, I hate the fruit it has produced. This theology has convinced many Christians that there is no need to work to reform our educational, political or social systems because we are all going to get raptured out of here before anything really terrible happens. Well. That theory is being tested at this point. There are a lot of really terrible things going on right now. It’s time for Christians to stop praying for the rapture and start working for a better world because if we don’t God’s not going to be too happy with us when does He get here. 

Not all is necessarily lost. 

All it will take to bring about much-needed change is for all of us to take our calling as Christians a little more seriously. We need to work a little harder and pray a lot more if we want to see the darkness retreat. 

Some Hard Counsel for Christian Women-

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate– Psalm 127:4-5 ESV

Okay, so.

 Generally speaking my ambition is to live a quiet life and tend to my own affairs (1st Thessalonians 4:11). Truly.  As a rule, I have zero desire to be a busybody or to butt into another person’s affairs (2nd Thessalonians 3:11).  On the infrequent occasions I have made it my thing I usually end up feeling sorry.  

Today, I’m willing run that risk. So, here goes:

In recent years, I have noted an attitude making its way into the church. It has become quite common for Christian women to minimize and disparage the roles of wife and mother.  As an older woman I clearly see this thinking is a tool the enemy is using to weaken Christian families. The attitudes developing in the church are potentially detrimental to the future of the church and the family because the Christian family has historically been God’s most powerful and fruitful means of evangelism and discipleship.  

Please understand—I do not believe that wife and mother are the only truly significant roles a Christian woman can or should play in this life. In my experience, when a Christian woman is walking in step with the Holy Spirit she will fulfill many functions and play a variety of different roles throughout her life. Some of those roles will be in the home, some in the church and others will be in the workplace. That being said, the role women play as wives and mothers is critical and should never be demeaned. So, my dear sisters in Christ, today I’m going to share some direct counsel that I believe is desperately needed in this cultural moment. 

First: 

Don’t be weak- 

As a mother of four, I get that being a Mom is a demanding job. This is particularly true in the early years of motherhood when money is often tight and children have lots of needs and no real ability to manage themselves. That being said. It’s not that hard and I’m very disturbed by the “Mommy needs a drink” mentality that has drifted into the church. No one needs to become a drunk in order to manage the pressures of motherhood. Seriously. Women have been caring for children since the dawn of time without modern conveniences such as disposable diapers, baby swings and iPads. This generation is no less capable than our predecessors. Though, I suspect we are less resilient and tough-minded. It is critical we understand that a Christian woman is a soldier of Jesus Christ (2nd Timothy 2-4, Ephesians 6: 10-13).  If a Christian woman has children her primary mission in life is to teach and train her children to fear the Lord and walk in His ways.  The early years of parenting are critical. Kids need a Mom to create a stable, loving environment for them to learn about God, themselves and life. No one can provide any of that wasting precious energy whining about how hard and miserable it is to be a Mom. 

It’s critical we understand children are the only real legacy we leave- 

It’s a clichéd saying that became a cliché because it’s so dang true: “No one has ever laid on their deathbed and wished they had worked harder on their career”. However, lots of people die wishing fervently they had put more energy into the only legacy that really lasts: their kids.  I have done a lot of things with my life, some of them significant by worldly standards. I am not sorry I put my energy into any of them. They were worthy endeavors.  That said, none of the things I have done will have a greater impact on this world than the children I have raised.  

Marriage should not be a rivalry- 

A Christian marriage is intended to be a partnership where each partner sacrifices for the good of the other and the family they create together (Ephesians 5:21-33). A Christian marriage should not be about which spouse has the most impressive career or the most degrees. Those are temporal things that should be viewed as tools to build a legacy for the kingdom of God not as the desired end in its self. 

You can do it all but not all at once-  

Seriously. A woman can have a solid marriage, be a faithful Christian, raise amazing kids and have a rewarding career. However, attempting to do all those things all at once practically guarantees something critical will get lost in the shuffle and done poorly. Sadly, it’s the kids, marriage or relationship with Jesus most likely to get lost. Wise women recognize there really is a season for everything. It’s not wrong to have a job when kids are young as long both parents are committed to being really attentive to the kids during non-working hours. 

It is critical Christians guard their hearts and minds from adopting the attitudes and mindsets of the culture. Nowhere is this truer than in the area of how we view children and family. (Psalm 127:3-5). When we allow the world to dictate how we view these issues it’s the enemy who wins. 

The Sad Truth Concerning #Metoo

The plans of the righteous are just, but the advice of the wicked is deceitful~ Proverbs 12:5

I will not lie. I had high hopes for the #metoo movement.

 Back in the day, I found myself on the receiving end of some bad behavior from men who were well beyond the point of knowing better. These days, that behavior would without a doubt be considered sexual harassment.

 Back then we called it “boys being boys”. It was wrong then and it’s wrong now. It just got a whole lot less attention back then.

 Crude comments, unwelcome touching, and rape are wrong for many reasons, most of which are clearly obvious to thinking people. At the root of every single one of those many reasons is the reality that predatory sexual behavior is an attack on the God-given dignity and personhood of women (Genesis 1:27). For that reason sexual violence against women is an attack on God Himself (as the author of life and giver of human dignity).

 Which brings me back to my original high-hopes for the #metoo movement. I like the idea of drawing attention to the very real problem of sexual violence. I also feel that those who commit acts of sexual violence deserve to have their deeds exposed (Numbers 32:23, Galatians 6:7). For those reasons alone, I wanted so badly for #metoo to be something that I, as a Christian woman, could support and stand behind.

 It’s not.

 For the record, I did not rush to judgment on that pronouncement. I sincerely wanted to see where the movement would go before I made up my mind about how I felt about it. I did this because, generally speaking, I feel that Christians are a little over eager to both condemn and embrace movements.

 When Christians criticize and condemn before getting the facts, we all end up looking like a bunch of small-minded, knee-jerk Judgy McJudgers. Conversely, when Christians choose to embrace movements prior to getting all the facts, we wind up looking ridiculous when we are inevitably forced to backtrack and retract our support.

 I have been observing the #metoo movement for a while now and have concluded that smart, thoughtful Christians should avoid the #metoo movement for at least four reasons:

 The movement is insincere-

 If #metoo were truly serious about ending sexual violence and the exploitation of women they would do more than simply point fingers at high profile predators. They would denounce the porn industry, fight for the end of prostitution and raise money to support those victimized by the sex trade. To my knowledge none of those things are happening, which makes all their talk about being “advocates for women” appear hollow and self-serving.

 Not every man is a bad man-

 One of my biggest concerns with the #metoo movement is that they seem to sincerely believe that every man is a sexual predator and every unsolicited flirtation from a man is somehow a form of rape. One does not need to be clairvoyant to see where this insanity might lead. Innocent interactions between men and women will no longer be seen as innocent, men and women will be further alienated from each other and the war between the sexes will intensify. If that happens we will all lose.

 The movement is quickly becoming one-big witch-hunt-

 The #metoo movement believes that all women should be believed regardless of evidence (or lack there of). They also believe that women should be able to accuse men anonymously. I am all for keeping the identity of victims of sexual violence who have reported the assault to the police out of the public eye. The privacy of victims should be protected from the press. Period. That said, sometimes people lie (Deuteronomy 19:15-17) and in the interest of fairness (and keeping our justice system just) the accused have a right to know who is accusing them.

 #metoo could set women back decades-

 I work in a field (ministry) where men tend to be very reluctant (for obvious reasons) to be seen interacting with a woman. This fact (as understandable as it may be) has not made my life in ministry easy, nor has it helped me to move ahead in a field I love. I’m not complaining. I am simply describing the world I live in. I am fearful that the law of unintended consequences will come into play and my (admittedly weird) problem will become a problem for all women. No man in his right mind will be seen associating with women (even in a business setting) if he knows there is a good chance his reputation will be ruined for it.

 Nothing in this world aggravates me more than the powerful taking advantage of the powerless. It is true that some men (not all) have taken advantage of women in the past and even prevented some from reaching their God-given potential. That said, the way to correct a past injustice is never with more injustice. We correct injustice through understanding, open communication and a commitment to believe the best in others unless there is an obvious reason not to.

 

 

The True Value of a Woman

Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands~ Psalm 112:1

 Last weekend we spent the day preparing for out-of-town company. Our preparations consisted of frantically cleaning everything we never clean so we can trick people we rarely see into thinking we are much cleaner people than we actually are. It was a big job, and by dinnertime we were all exhausted and hungry. So my husband and I loaded the family up in the car and took them to dinner at a buffet.

 After a short wait we were seated next to a family with three children who all appeared to be under the age of six. I confess that was I less than excited to be seated next a family with little kids. After a long, hard day I wanted a little peace and quiet.

 My fears were baseless. The kids were adorable, polite and a delight to be around. But it was Mom who captured my attention. She was amazing. She serenely held the two-year-old on her lap, talking to him calmly about table manners and encouraging him to try new foods while still managing to keep an eye on the baby girl and calmly direct the older boy.

 Watching that remarkable young woman do what she no doubt does every day of the week, reminded me that Mothers are truly the unsung heroes of human history.

 If it were not for the sacrificial contributions of women throughout history, we would have no great civilizations, no novels would have been written, no masterpieces crafted and no righteous causes fought for. Precious few would have been inspired to attempt such things without a wise and loving Mother laying the right foundation and urging their children forward.

 The influence of a Mother is perhaps the most powerful force on earth. We have all been shaped for good or ill by the impact of our Mothers. Perhaps the most striking testimony of a Mother’s impact is how significantly we feel the loss when our mother is gone. For those of us who are fortunate enough to be mothers, we too have been shaped by the experience. Mothering is a powerful act that forever changes all involved.

 Christians universally agree that nurturing children is crucial. In recent years, Pastors have gone to great lengths to emphasize and celebrate the importance of Motherhood. This is a good thing. In a society that has devalued the act of mothering it is vitally important that Christian leaders encourage women as they nurture and train up the next generation.

 For women who are not Mothers, the second Sunday of May can be a painful one. In our eagerness to promote the importance of mothering, we can inadvertently send the message that Mothering is the only truly significant thing a woman can do. The message is a dangerous one that hurts all women, especially those without children and older women. Many feel their value is diminished once their children are grown and gone.

 As valuable as motherhood is, it is essential to remember that there is so much more to who we are as women than whom we parent. On this day that we rightfully set aside to celebrate the countless contributions Mothers make in this world, I want to remind women that motherhood is not the end of our journey towards biblical womanhood. It is simply a step that many of us take in the journey.

 God has called Christian women to be…

 Pursuers of wisdom and knowledge~ Proverbs 4:7, Proverbs 2:6

 Bold and courageous~ 1st Chronicles 28:20

 Competent to teach and pass on wisdom~ Proverbs 31:26, Titus 2:3-5

 Loving wives~ 1st Peter 3:1-8

 Mentors~ Titus 2:3-5

 Busy building up the Body of Christ~ Ephesians 4:11-13

 Constantly striving for betterment of others~ Proverbs 31: 8-9, Proverbs 31:20

 A woman’s ultimate power is found in her ability to influence. The quality of a woman’s influence will largely depend on the quality of her relationship with God. A woman who is seeking to be and do all that she has been called to be and do, regardless of the stage of life she finds herself, will become a powerful force for good in this world and a blessing to those whose life she touches.

 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised~ Proverbs 31:30

 

 

 

 

The Original Gateway Sin-

When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him~ Acts 13:45

 A few years ago, I was at a seminar with some other women from our church when a woman about my age walked into the conference room. I observed immediately that was that she was pretty and well put together. She was tall and thin, with cute clothes, shiny hair, smooth skin and a warm smile. She confidently approached our group and introduced herself. Within minutes it became apparent that she was not only gorgeous with great taste in clothes, but bright and articulate as well.

 She was well spoken but did not dominate the discussion. She asked everyone in our group questions about themselves and then listened intently to the answers. One of the woman in our group inquired about her husband and kids and she graciously showed us some photos of her extraordinarily attractive husband and perfect little boy and girl.

 She talked about her ministry activities and her reasons for attending the seminar. She went on to share how she planned to use what she was learning to start a ministry in her local church that would bless the community. All in all, the woman I met that day was gracious, attractive, thoughtful and engaged in the world around her.

 And for one brief moment that I am not proud of at all, I loathed her. I mean I really loathed her. Not only did I loathe her, I brutally judged her.

 In the span of about three minutes, I became smugly certain that there was absolutely no way that woman could possibly be the real deal. She must have a raging eating disorder, be a horrible Mother, a gossip, a liar, or a terrible friend. There had to be SOMETHING wrong with her. There was simply no way anyone could possibly be that beautiful, that thin, that kind and be blessed with that cute of a husband without having some sort of loathsome dark side.

 Just as I was preparing to share my opinion with the others in our group, the ugly truth and a giant load of conviction hit me like a ton bricks. Pious, Jesus loving, church-going, Bible-study leading, me was firmly in the grip of the foulest and most treacherous of all emotions.

 I was jealous.

 Proverbs 27:4 makes this observation concerning jealousy:

 Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood. But who can stand before jealousy?

 The self-deceptive nature of jealousy makes it infinitely more dangerous than anger or wrath. Jealousy is the original gateway sin. If left unchecked, it becomes a frontrunner to all sorts of other sins because jealousy convinces us that the anger and wrath we feel are justified. Jealousy dupes us into believing that the innocent person on the receiving end of our bad behavior is somehow deserving of our actions.

 Jealousy gains a foothold in our hearts because we focus far too much of our attention on what other people have rather than what God has blessed us with.Our misdirected attention inevitably leads to resentment and lack of gratitude as well as jealousy. Such was my experience at the conference. I became so fixated on what that other woman looked like and what God had blessed her with that I forgot all about all about the abundance of good things in my own life. My willful amnesia was followed by a shocking lack of gratitude for everything God has done for me.

 At the root of jealousy is lack of faith and belief in God’s goodness. Jealousy overcomes us when we doubt God’s ability to work with what He has given us. We forget that God gifted each one of us our own set of abilities, or we decide that that those gifts are not good enough to do anything significant with. Either way, it’s a terrible sin and the birth of a jealous spirit.

 No one in the history of forever has ever done anything out of jealousy they felt proud of. For that reason alone jealousy should be avoided at all cost. The key to avoiding jealousy is to take our focus off ourselves and other people and keep focus on God and the good things He’s given us. When our eyes are on God and our focus is on our own unique set of blessings, we cannot help but be a blessing to the rest of the world.