Paula Writes Header

Women Who March to a Different Beat

Women Who March to a Different Beat

There is no ignoring the women’s march that took place this past Saturday in all fifty states and in over sixty countries.

Upon first glance, this women’s march could have appealed to many—and it did, even to some Christians. I know of women who marched against injustice, racism, misogyny, poverty, and much more.

There is nothing inherently wrong with women joining together to march for awareness of an issue. In fact, many women will be doing just that at today’s March for Life.

But while the specific issues women marched for this past Saturday are as varied as the participants’ faces, the organizers’ intent for the march was crystal clear.

The Principles Behind This March

For one, this women’s march was built around “reproductive rights.” In the organizers’ words:

This means open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion . . . for all people.

This is so important to them, that the week of the event they disinvited a fellow feminist group that was also pro-life. Turns out this women’s march wasn’t as inclusive as was originally claimed. As a woman who values and desires to protect human life, I will not—I cannot—participate in a march for a woman’s right to murder her own child, created in the image of God (Ps. 139:13–14).

This woman’s march was also built around “LGBTQIA rights.” In their words:

We must have the power to control our bodies and be free from gender norms, expectations and stereotypes.

I would welcome a person who practices “LGBTQIA” behaviors into my home and life as a friend. But I cannot march for their right to be free from God’s beautiful design for their life as male or female (Gen. 1:27) any more than I can march for anyone’s right to rebel against the King in any area of life.

The Spirit of This March

In addition to disagreeing with these values around which the the march’s organizers were united, I also cannot express solidarity with the spirit in which many of these women sought to be heard.

For example, here’s a snippet from Madonna’s speech at the Washington, D.C., event:

Welcome to the revolution of love. To the rebellion. . . . It took us this darkness to wake us the f— up. . . . Yes, I’m angry. Yes, I am outraged. Yes, I have thought an awful lot of blowing up the White House, but I know that this won’t change anything.

Or Angela Davis, another speaker at the main event:

The next 1,459 days of the Trump administration will be 1,459 days of resistance: Resistance on the ground, resistance in the classrooms, resistance on the job, resistance in our art and in our music.

As a follower of Christ, I am called to march to a different beat. There is a better way.

There Is a Better Way

Regardless of your concerns about what the next four years might hold, here are three truths you can count on.

  1. God will use our President to accomplish His purposes, even if things do go dreadfully. I love what I just read in Isaiah 10. In 722 BC, God used arrogant Assyria as a tool in His hand to judge His people, Israel, for their sin. Listen to how God speaks of this godless king and nation:

    Woe to Assyria, the rod of my anger; the staff in their hands is my fury! (v. 5).

    After God had used Assyria to judge Israel, He turned His attention to punishing “the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes” (v. 12).

    Consider God’s incredulous sarcasm as He speaks of this king:

    “Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!” (v. 15).

    God will use any and every leader to accomplish His purposes.

  2. Our surest bet at changing our nation for good will not happen through marching, but in prayer. Remember what the angel told Daniel:

    “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me” (Dan. 10:12–13, emphasis added)

    Did you catch that? His prayer was heard immediately, even though he didn’t see his prayer answered immediately. There were realities taking place that he couldn’t see.

    Your prayers could unleash a war in the heavens today. Don’t assume the silence means you haven’t been heard. Keep persevering in prayer—your petition may be being fought over, and it is being used by God to fulfill His eternal purposes.

  3. God calls us to influence those around us—not through hateful speech and actions but with gentleness and respect. As 1 Peter 3:13–17 says:

    Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

    As the following verse points out, our behavior and spirit are patterned after our suffering Savior, who quietly and purposefully laid down His life to bring sinners near to God (1 Peter 3:18).

As followers of Christ, we live in two kingdoms simultaneously: the kingdom of man and the kingdom of God. May we reflect the King of kings in word, action, and spirit as we live as citizens of both kingdoms.

May we nurture peaceful hearts rather than fearful ones.

May we seek to understand first, rather than insisting that we be heard.

May we love instead of hate.

May we open our homes and dinner tables to people who are just like we once were, before we encountered God’s grace (1 Cor. 6:11).

May we pray without ceasing.

And may we point our neighbors and our culture to God’s life-giving ways, seeking their best.

Women Who March to a Different Beat was originally posted on ReviveOurHearts.com. 

Share this →Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestPrint this page

Six Questions to Diagnose Subtle Gossip

Six Questions to Diagnose Subtle Gossip

I was moving fast when my friend texted me her grievances against another. Company was due to arrive within the hour, and everything seemed to be happening at once. Between combining the liquid mixture for the corn muffins and texting my hubby about what I needed him to pick up from the store, I texted some hard truth to my friend in response to her message.

Then, with messy hands, I forwarded my response to three people who were aware of the situation and who were praying for my friend. I wrote, “Just sent this to our friend. Please pray. Her heart is so hard.”

Only I accidentally included my friend in the group text. Ugh, ugh, double ugh.

Yes, I had been growing increasingly concerned for her, but after this incident, I realized it would have been best to share my concern with just her and God. Instead, I hurt her deeply. Where did I go wrong?

  • I was moving too fast. Proverbs 19:2 makes clear, “Whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.”
  • I assumed the role of savior, which only belongs to God. How much better to pray for my friend, “[I] do not know what to do, but [my] eyes are on you [God]” (2 Chron. 20:12).
  • I forwarded a text, which reeked of gossip. Paul warned of those who “learn to be . . . gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not” (1 Tim. 5:13).
  • I shared a prayer request about someone else without her permission to do so. As Proverbs 25:9 says, “Argue your case with your neighbor himself, and do not reveal another’s secret.”

Three Resolutions for Becoming a More Trustworthy Friend

As I asked God to change my heart and make me a more trustworthy friend, I set a few boundaries in place.

1. I resolved not to share prayer requests about anyone other than myself, unless I’ve explicitly asked their permission.

Proverbs 11:13 says, “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.”

Someone who reveals another’s secrets is a slanderer, according to the Bible. The King James calls such a person a “talebearer.” We probably don’t think of prayer requests as “bearing tales,” but if we dropped the “Please pray for so-and-so,” would it look any different than talebearing? Let’s not use prayer as a way to gossip through the back door.

2. I resolve not to forward other’s messages to me (or my responses) without permission.

It’s way too easy in our connected world to share other people’s struggles with others. It often feels necessary, as we believe in the power of prayer. The more people praying, the better, right?

But maybe that’s not the case. Maybe, just maybe, you and I are using prayer as a thin guise for gossip, fear, frustration, and support.

3. I resolve to wait to share hard truth with others until I can talk in person or on the phone.

This requires slowing down. It requires not freaking out in the moment and thinking that a problem’s resolution depends on you and you alone. It requires boldness to address a problem without the protective wall of electronic text between you. And it requires crying out in deep dependence to the one and only Savior, rather than trying to do His work for Him, as if He’s on vacation.

Six Questions to Ask to Prevent Subtle Gossip

What if we asked ourselves the following questions before sharing someone else’s business with others?

  • Has my friend given me permission to share this “prayer request” with others? Am I considering my friend before myself (Phil. 2:3)?
  • How much time has passed between the time I learned of this need and the time I’m sharing it with others? Am I sharing it impulsively?
  • If not a lot of time has passed, am I sharing this in a panic? Am I trusting in the Lord to act (Ps. 37:5), or am I trusting in myself to be the savior?
  • How seriously have I prayed about this issue myself before reaching out to others? Have I knelt in prayer? How long did I pray over it?
  • Do I believe that the earnest prayer of a single righteous person avails much (James 5:16)? Or do I think my prayers are not enough to move the heart of God?
  • Could I be embarrassed at some point that I sent this text or email? (If so, I probably shouldn’t send it.)

It Takes More Than Good Intentions

Oh, I know it’s easy to think our intentions are good. I thought that originally, too. But maybe we should distrust our intentions a bit more than we do. Even if our base intentions are good, we should always be on guard of having mixed motives. Love can often attach itself with the sinful desire to know other people’s stuff, to be “in the know,” or to feel puffed up that our lives aren’t so messy.

In my case, regardless of my original motives, I broke trust, and at that point, the only fitting response for me was one of repentance.

So that’s what I did. That evening after our company left, I called my friend and left a voicemail asking for forgiveness. I gave her space to call me when she was ready to talk. Eventually, she graciously forgave me, but because of the trust I damaged by sharing what was not mine to share, it will take time for her to be able to regard me as the fully faithful friend that I desire to be, with God’s help.

How about you? Will you strive to love faithfulness more than the pleasure of gossip? Will you join me in resolving to be oh-so-careful before we share about others?

Let us strive to be like the women recommended in 1 Timothy 3:11: “Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things.”

After all, we serve and represent the most trustworthy, faithful Friend of all.

Adapted from Six Questions to Diagnose Subtle Gossip originally posted at  DesiringGod.org. Also featured on ReviveOurHearts.com

Share this →Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestPrint this page

The Book of Ruth: So Much More Than a Love Story

The Book of Ruth: So Much More Than a Love Story

One of my all-time favorite promises for God’s people is found in Romans 8:28:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

I wonder if anyone has ever showed you how God faithfully kept this same promise to His people throughout Scripture, in history. There are so many stories I could point to, but we’ll just look at one today in the book of Ruth. (And no, I’m not ultimately talking about the love story between Ruth and Boaz—this book is about so much more than that!)

Rewind to the Beginning

Before we dive into the book of Ruth together, let me fill you in with what has been happening in the books leading up to Ruth, because the Bible is one, cohesive story.

  • God had formed a great nation (see Genesis through Numbers). Check.
  • He had brought His people into His place, the Promised Land, just as He had promised (see the book of Joshua). Check.

But God’s people weren’t living under His rule. In fact, since Moses’ death and then Caleb’s death at the end of the book of Joshua, there was no great leader to lead God’s people.

Repeat a Dark, Vicious Cycle

And things went south quick. When we open the book of Judges—the book just before Ruth—we see a vicious cycle that keeps repeating itself:

  • God’s people turn away from Him and sin.
  • This makes God angry, so He gives them over to their enemies.
  • Once they’re good and miserable, God’s people cry out to God for help.
  • God sends them a deliverer, or a judge. (These “judges” didn’t wear black robes and hold gavels like we think of today. Back then, a judge was a warrior, a deliverer, a military leader.)
  • Once God’s people have been saved, they once again turn away from Him, and the whole cycle is repeated.

All in all, God raises up twelve judges—eleven men and one woman—to deliver His people during this time. But even many of these judges are shady characters (think Samson.) I like the way Starr Meade puts it in her survey of the Bible:

In all the stories we see that the judges were not able to unite all of Israel, or lead the people in keeping the covenant, or even faithfully keep it themselves. So all the stories remind us that God’s people need a greater deliverer than any we see in this book of great deliverers.

Feel the Desperate Need for a King

Israel needed a king. See, a king was meant to help God’s people keep God’s law. In fact, God had promised kings to Abram when He made a covenant with him:

“I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you” (Gen. 17:6, emphasis added).

But there was no king on the horizon. The author of Judges gives us clues as to this problem in Judges 17:6, 18:1, and 19:1:

In those days there was no king in Israel.

The book ends highlighting this problem, just in case we missed it:

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes (21:25).

Note Many Sinful Decisions

Enter the book of Ruth. It’s set during the dark time of the judges:

In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi (1:1–2).

God had warned that if His people didn’t keep His covenant, He would send famine and drought. But rather than repenting of his sin and trusting God for provision, Elimelech took off for Moab—the home of Israel’s arch enemy.

Keep reading: We will see God providentially use Elimelech’s sin for good.

As if that’s not enough sin, Elimelech’s two sons decide to marry Moabite women, which was another big no-no because the Moabites did not worship the one true God. But in spite of their sin, we will see God providentially use it for good.

After Elimelech and his two sons die in the land of Moab, Naomi decides she’ll just go back to Israel to starve. Her Moabite daughter-in-law Ruth insists on going with her.

See How Ruth Is Not About the Marriage; It’s About the Kiddo!

Back in Israel, Ruth goes to work to provide for her mother-in-law. She gleans in Boaz’s field, who sacrifices his financial future to play the role of “kinsman redeemer,” just as God had commanded faithful Israelites to do.

After Boaz marries Ruth, they have a baby: little Obed. As soon as his birth is announced, we fast forward through his life to the day when he gives birth to a son, to “Jesse, the father of David” (4:17).

Did you catch that?!

Bernie Elliott, an elder at the local church I attend, points out, “This is like dynamite at the end of the book. God did it! God used famine, sinful decisions, and death. Through all that He still raised up what His people needed: God provided the king.”

Watch for the Sinless King

As we read on in 1 and 2 Samuel, we see that while David was a good king, he still sinned. We still need a better king—a sinless king. And this king is coming. God promises King David in 2 Samuel 7:12–13:

“When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever (emphasis added).”

While some of this promise was partially fulfilled through David’s son Solomon, we know that this promise was ultimately pointing to King Jesus, because after about 400 years passed, there was no more king in Israel . . . and there hasn’t been since.

Rejoice at the Sinless King Provided

But check out the first verse of the New Testament:

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham (emphasis added).

King Jesus was born . . . in order to die . . . for the sins of Elimelech and his sons and King David and all who would put their trust in Him. Nowhere do we see more clearly that no human evil can prevent God’s great purposes—He used the crucifixion of His Son to save a people for Himself.

If you have been saved by this King, God will do the same in your life, no matter what wrongs have been done by or to you. He will ensure that all the sinful, awful decisions and acts ultimately work together for good, accomplishing His grand designs. Of this you can be sure.

The Book of Ruth: So Much More Than a Love Story was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

Share this →Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestPrint this page

Cornerstone Transition Home Opens Its Doors

Cornerstone Transition Home Opens Its Doors

In 2003, a dream took root in Jennifer Smith’s heart. (Jennifer is a former inmate of eleven-and-a-half years and a current chaplain at McPherson Women’s Prison.) She envisioned a transition home where women released from prison could live for up to a year.

A Need Sparks a Dream

Rather than returning to a home of generational drug abuse and crime, women could live in this transition home with responsibility and accountability. They could learn how to live the Christian life on the “outside” of prison’s walls.

See, Jennifer knew well that the most common fear among inmates is that they will return to prison, because they don’t have accountability or a support system. (A female ex-felon has a 51 percent chance of re-offending and returning to prison.) Jennifer wanted to change that.

IFrame

A Dream Gains Momentum

At the True Woman ’16 Conference, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth announced that Revive Our Hearts would give 10 percent of the conference offering to the Cornerstone Transition Home. This would help with the final $25,000 needed to get the home up and running.

What you might not have heard is the end result. Conference attendees gave almost $17,000 to this project. Then Revive Our Hearts leadership sent Cornerstone Transition Home a check for $25,000 to make up the difference.

A Dream Come True

On December 12, Jennifer’s dream became a reality. The Cornerstone Transition Home opened its doors to its first three women. Fourteen more acceptance letters have been issued to women awaiting parole plans, and over fifty applications are yet to be prayed over and responded to. They hope to fill all twenty-nine beds by summer, Lord willing.

Their prayer is to see a host of women build their lives on the solid rock—Jesus Christ, the Cornerstone—and then share Him with the world around them through their changed lives.

If you’re interested in learning more, praying for, or giving to Cornerstone, visit Cornerstone’s website. You can also follow Cornerstone on Facebook to stay up-to-date.

Cornerstone Transition Home Opens Its Doors was originally published on ReviveOurHearts.com.

Share this →Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestPrint this page

One Giant Promise Kept

One Giant Promise Kept

When I graduated from high school, someone slipped me a slim, purple book full of promises from God’s Word for the new graduate. What I didn’t understand when I placed that book in my college dorm room was that God’s Word isn’t just a big flip-and-locate-different-promises-to-claim-for-your-life sort of book. All of Scripture is one giant promise kept!

Here, let me show you what I mean.

All of Scripture is one giant promise kept!

Open your Bible to the first page, and it won’t take you long at all to find mankind’s rebellion against God. On the first and second pages, we see God creating all things. Mankind is the pinnacle of His creation, made in God’s image to reflect Him and reign over all He had made. But on only page three of my Bible, Adam and Eve rebel against God (Gen. 3:1–7), passing their sin nature on to all who would come after.

Catch That First, Cryptic Promise

The same day of their rebellion, God doles out their punishment, as He is holy and must judge all sin. But even as He hands out judgment, He also extends grace. We catch the first glimmer of God’s promise to send Jesus to undo the damage we’d done in Genesis 3:15. God says to the serpent:

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

It sounds rather cryptic to our ears, so let me call in fellow writer Starr Meade to help explain:

Genesis 3:15 gives us the first promise of Christ in the Bible. Jesus Christ is the one who would be born of a woman and who would undo what the Serpent had done. It would cost Christ a great deal. He would have to take the judgment God’s people deserved for their sin by dying in their place. In this way, Satan would “bruise” Jesus’ “heel,” but Jesus would bruise the Serpent’s head by restoring God’s relationship with his people.

Turn a few more pages, and you’ll see God reaffirming and expanding on this promise to a man named Abram.

Hear God Reaffirm His Promise to an Old, Childless Man

In Genesis 17, among other things, God promises to:

  • Give Abram’s offspring land (think the Promised Land).
  • Make of Abram a great nation (think the nation of Israel).
  • Bless all the families of the earth through Abram (think through his descendant, Jesus).

All Scripture shows God keeping these promises in spite of great obstacles.

All Scripture shows God keeping these promises in spite of great obstacles. Take the second promise, for example. God promised to make Abram and his old, childless wife Sarah a great nation. At the time it sounded laughable, but when Abram was 100 years old, God miraculously gave this couple a son, Isaac. Slowly we see this family grow. Isaac gives birth to Jacob. Jacob has twelve sons. One of these boys is Joseph.

If you’re like me, you tend to read Joseph’s story as if it’s all about . . . Joseph. But this story is not ultimately about Joseph. Watch how God uses Joseph to fulfill His promise to Abram to make him into a great nation.

Watch and See

You can read Joseph’s fascinating story in Genesis 37–50. To recap, as his father’s favorite son, he is hated and abused by his brothers. They sell him into slavery and then breathe a deep sigh of relief. They’ll never have to see Joseph again, or so they think.

But years later, due to a harsh famine, these brothers travel all the way to Egypt for food and find themselves bowing before . . . Joseph. They don’t know it’s him at first (he’s grown up, he speaks Egyptian, he dresses Egyptian, he walks like an Egyptian, and he’s the second most powerful man in all the land of Egypt).

But after a couple dramatic interactions, Joseph reveals himself to his brothers:

“I am Joseph! Is my father still alive? . . . Come near to me, please. . . . I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. . . . God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors (45:3–7, emphasis added).

Did you catch that? If God had not providentially allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery and then rise to power, this little, incubating family would have been wiped out. God’s promise to Abram would have failed. But instead they are saved, and they continue to grow.

Observe This Little Family Grow into a Great Nation

Joseph’s family (Abram’s descendants) move to Egypt, survive the famine, and at the end of the book—while they are not yet a great nation—they’ve grown to nearly 100 people.

Turn the page (Exodus is just a continuation of the first book of the Bible), and what do you see?

The people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them (1:7).

In fact, by the time we turn to Numbers 1:46, we’re told there were over half a million males at this point. God did it! In spite of obstacle after obstacle, He made a great nation from one, lone man—a nation through which the whole world would be blessed . . . through Jesus. The New Testament begins this way:

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham (Matt. 1:1, emphasis added).

God always keeps His promises. If you tracked with me this far, you saw how God was faithful to make of one man a little family, and then to make from this little family a great nation. He did this in spite of many obstacles, because nothing is too hard for God.

The next time you open your Bible, remember that the whole story is one giant promise kept. It was written so you might know and trust this God who makes promises and always keeps them.

One Giant Promise Kept was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

Share this →Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestPrint this page