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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. 

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Please Don’t Kill Our Heroes

Please Don’t Kill Our Heroes

Maybe you’ve clued in to the growing debate over assisted suicide, a debate about whether to allow patients the legal option to end their life. I predict we will hear more and more that assisted suicide is compassionate, that quality of life trumps sanctity of life every time. We say we want to end suffering . . . but at what cost?

A couple years ago a beautiful, young woman started a global conversation about “death with dignity” when she ended her life after she was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer. I want to make sure her voice—and ultimately her choice to take her life—is not the only voice and choice you’re hearing about.

Would you allow me to introduce you to a few of my heroes who know what it is to suffer, to cling to God in trust, and to lead a purposeful, fulfilling life?

Meet Joni, A Quadriplegic

Joni Eareckson Tada became a quadriplegic at seventeen, during an unfortunate diving accident. As if that weren’t enough, she continually feels crippling pain and is a breast cancer survivor. Instead of wanting to end her life, though, she has led one of the most beautiful, surrendered, servant-hearted lives I have ever seen.

She has become an advocate for the disabled around the world—among other things—providing wheelchairs for those who otherwise would be confined to their beds.

Time and time again at the True Woman Conferences, Joni has spoken life into my soul. She has shared how God redeems our suffering, how our suffering is anything but insignificant, and how and why we should forgive those who have hurt us. She has also pointed to a deeper kind of healing and freedom than the healing and freedom of physical pain.

Just this month I emailed Joni about a work project. In her response, she included this personal update:

I’m always fascinated at the way God works in our lives. I’ve been in bed for the last five days healing a stubborn pressure sore, but oh, what a rich time of communion with Jesus! Hopefully, by tomorrow, I may be able to sit up. Prayers are always appreciated!

Now that is the kind of woman I long to become.

Meet Katie, A Chronic Neurological Lyme Patient

If it is sickness that brings me closer to Jesus, then it is a gift, and I am so thankful for it.

Katie Laitkep is a sweet, new friend. After ten years of pain and no answers, she was finally diagnosed with chronic neurological Lyme disease in 2010 and has been undergoing treatment ever since. In spite of symptoms continuing daily, she teaches hospitalized children and others unable to attend school in a traditional setting. She is a beautiful writer who blogs about the Lord’s perfect faithfulness in chronic pain.

“I will always long for health,” she says, “but if it is sickness that brings me closer to Jesus, then it is a gift, and I am so thankful for it.”

Meet Ian, A Survivor Left with a Brain Injury

I do not know Ian and Larissa personally, but their story has brought tears of wonder to my eyes. Ian and Larissa met at college in 2005 where they fell in love. In September of 2006, on his way to work to earn money for an engagement ring, Ian was involved in an accident that left him with a brain injury.

Four years later, they did marry, even though Ian could barely talk and couldn’t walk. After that came a book deal and lots of opportunities to share Jesus with the world. Watch their story here, and marvel at their selfless love for one another.

Meet Katherine, A Brain Stem Stroke Survivor

I’ve never met Jay and Katherine in person, but their story speaks volumes to me. Katherine, a former model and new mother, survived a massive brain stem stroke that nearly took her life. She spent forty days on life support, two years in brain rehab, and was left with a severely disabled body.

Watch any of her videos, though, and you will see that she is full of life and laughter. Her husband stayed with her through it all. They have two sons, and they’ve written a book together. And—in what she calls “upside-down kingdom irony”—Katherine just landed her biggest modeling job to date. Does that sound like a life lacking . . . quality?

Our Heroes and Our Teachers

All these “broken,” suffering people have pointed me—the supposed “healthy” and the “whole”—to the ultimate freedom and joy offered by Christ.

Please do not believe the lie that these people would be better off to end their suffering early and die.

Please do not believe the lie that these people would be better off to end their suffering early and die. They are fulfilling God’s purposes, bringing great glory to Him, just as this blind man did:

And his [Jesus’] disciples asked him,“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:2–3).

These are our heroes. These are our teachers. We need them. Please do not take them from us.

Please Don’t Kill Our Heroes was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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3 Ways Darth Vader Points to a Greater Story

3 Ways Darth Vader Points to a Greater Story

In order to prepare for December’s epic release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, my husband and I had a Star Wars marathon. (Yes, I was one of the few remaining humans on this planet who had never watched Star Wars, but that has now been remedied!)

Do you remember the battle scene between Anakin Skywalker (before he officially became Darth Vader) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Darth’s old master)? Anakin is defeated, and then this video shows how he became Darth Vader just after.

As I watched these clips, I realized I was already familiar with a similar plot line—not from a fictional story, but from God’s infallible Word. Vader’s story parallels Satan’s story in at least three ways:

  1. Just as Vader was once a good Jedi Knight, Satan was once a good angel of light.

    We know this because all God created was good, not evil. Genesis 1:31 shows God standing back, taking His creation in:

    God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good (emphasis added).

  2. Both Vader and Satan rebelled against their former masters.

    Just as Vader desired more power, so did Satan. At some point before Genesis 3:1, Satan rebels against God. Jude 1:6 fills us in on his journey to the “dark side”:

    The angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.

  3. Both Vader and Satan were wounded but given more time to work their evil.

    Vader was severely burned in the lava pits, but Palpatine fitted the disfigured Vader with prosthetic legs and an arm as well as a life-supporting suit of armor, and his fight against “the light” continued.

    God cast Satan out of heaven, but he was allowed to continue his work on earth for a time:

    The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, . . . “Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” (Rev. 12:9–12).

    Satan was then crushed at the cross, as it had been foretold in Genesis 3:15:

    “He [the offspring of the woman, Jesus] shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

    Hebrews 2:14 tells us:

    Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself [Jesus] likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil (emphasis added).

    Yet the devil still limps around, like the propped-up Darth Vader.

    Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

    Why didn’t God put a complete end to Satan long ago? Pastor John Piper explains it like this in this excellent sermon:

    Jesus Christ will be more highly honored in the end because he defeats Satan through longsuffering, patience, humility, servanthood, suffering, and death, rather than through raw power. And the more highly honored the Son is, the greater the joy of those who love him.

A Very Different Ending

This is where the similarities between Darth Vader and Satan end. Because while someone else rose to take Vader’s place and continue his dark work, no one will continue Satan’s work.

Jesus Christ has risen to ensure that the darkness will not overcome the light. He is the stronger one!

Jesus Christ has risen to ensure that the darkness will not overcome the light. He is the stronger one! Soon, Satan, sin, and death will be utterly and completely done away with. Revelation 20:10 gives us a glimpse into the future:

And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

This, my friend, is incredible reason to rejoice!

As phenomenal as the Star Wars movies are, they are just that . . . movies. But Satan’s final demise (and sin and death’s!) is as sure as an Imperial Admiral getting force-choked by Darth Vader.

Do you know what that means for you?

  • The end to all your fear.
  • The end to all your tears (Rev. 21:3–4).
  • The end to all your sin and guilt and shame.
  • The end to all your pain (Rev. 21:3–4).
  • The end of death (1 Cor. 15:26).

Hallelujah! No matter how dark your world may look, you can know this: The dark side will not win.

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you (Rom. 16:20).

“3 Ways Darth Vader Points to a Greater Story was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.” 

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Charlie, Charlie: Contacting a Demon or an Innocent Game?

Charlie, Charlie: Contacting a Demon or an Innocent Game?

What’s the big deal?

All my friends are playing it.

It’s just an innocent little game!

Maybe you’ve had some of these thoughts about the latest “game” that’s captured teens’ hearts around the world. The Internet is loaded with videos of teens running, screaming, after asking “Charlie, Charlie, are you there?” and then seeing the pencil move on its own. (For the record, I wouldn’t recommend this Google search. If you’re wondering why, keep reading.)

It’s no game to try to communicate with demons.

It’s no game to try to communicate with demons (some claim Charlie is a Mexican demon, while others chalk the whole thing up to psychological suggestion or to the precariousness of one pencil balancing on another).

Regardless of whether Charlie is indeed a demon or a just a scary game, God is very clear about steering clear of anything even remotely close to “Charlie, Charlie.” Check out God’s words to His people in Deuteronomy 18:9–12,

“When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD.”

Regardless of whether a particular spirit named “Charlie” exists or not, this I do know:

    1. The spirit world is real, and demons are dangerous enough for me to want to stay as far away from them as possible (Eph. 6:12).
    2. God specifically commands us not to try to contact spirits (Deut. 18:10–12).
    3. Spirits like “Charlie” are not “innocent.” They have either chosen to follow God or to rebel against him and follow Satan. They all have an agenda: either to carry out Satan’s commands or to carry out God’s commands (Rev. 12:9).
    4. Satan’s mission is directly opposed to Jesus’ mission; Satan seeks to steal and kill (and scare!) and destroy, while Jesus came to give us life—vibrant, thriving life (John 10:10–11).
    5. Jesus has freed me from darkness. So why would I want to contact someone from the realm of darkness? (Col. 1:13).
    6. Jesus triumphed over evil at the cross, and Satan soon will be locked away forever (Col. 2:15, Rev. 20:10).

So while the rest of your friends are running, screaming in fear—from Charlie—see to it that evil spirits run from you. How? James 4:7 holds the key:

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

How cool is that?! Rather than fleeing in fear, you can actually cause the devil to flee from you, if you are resisting him, submitting to God, and full of Christ’s Spirit (which He freely gives you when you trust in Him and Him alone in order to be accepted by God).

So it’s up to you. Run in fear from Charlie, or have Charlie and his demons flee from you.

Me, I choose the later.

Oh, and I will not be playing “Charlie, Charlie” anytime soon.

Charlie, Charlie: Contacting a Demon or an Innocent Game? was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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Cinderella: “Have Courage, and Be Kind”

Cinderella: “Have Courage, and Be Kind”

I saw Disney’s new Cinderella movie this past weekend. (Did you?) I loved it! Not only was it a much-needed break from my never-ending work; it also gave me a picture of the unparalleled beauty of courage and kindness in the face of humiliation, suffering, and shame.

If God is your Father, and you are His adopted daughter, then you are a princess.

It was a surprising picture, and a jarring one, as the previews before the movie—and everything our world seems to celebrate—is not letting anyone so much as step on our toes.

But Ella (the main character in Cinderella) shows us a shockingly different way of life. A beautiful way of life.

For some reason, Ella’s mom waited until her deathbed to share with Ella “a great secret that will see you through all the trials life has to offer.” Ella promised. She would:

“Have courage and be kind.”

The movie doesn’t explain how Ella is able to perform this feat in the face of such mistreatment, but she does. After her dear mother dies, Ella is courageous and kind when her stepmother and stepsisters:

  • Relegate her to the attic to sleep
  • Banish her from the table at mealtimes
  • Change her name from Ella to Cinderella because she’s dirty from the cinder in the fireplace
  • Treat her like a servant instead of the sister and daughter that she is
  • Tear her dress and forbid her from attending the ball

But thanks to the fairy godmother, Cinderella is able to attend the ball after all, and the Prince makes a beeline for her.

Sure, Cinderella looks stunning. But it’s not her ball gown or glass slippers that first catch the Prince’s eye. Weeks before, she turns his head when he happens upon her on a hunting trip in the forest—when her hair is knotted and her clothes plain. It’s her inner beauty that captures his attention—her courage and her kindness.

Girls, this beauty isn’t just the stuff of fairy tales. It’s what you and I are to pursue as daughters of the King:

“Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses [or shimmering, blue ball gowns!] but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:3-4).

According to God’s standards for beauty . . .

Kindness isn’t weakness; it’s strength.

Submission isn’t pitiful; it’s beautiful and courageous.

First Peter has a lot to say on the subject. Here’s just a taste:

“To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. . . .

“Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence . . .

“It is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:8–18).

But how can we have courage when others mistreat us?

Why should we be kind to those who are cruel?

Cinderella acted this way because she was a princess—not a princess by blood, but a true princess in heart.

And if God is your Father, and you are His adopted daughter, then you are a princess too. Not the kind with a ball gown and a tiara, but a true princess. A princess because God brought you into His family at the exorbitant cost of His Son’s life-blood. This honored position is not an excuse to act selfish but to be courageous and kind.

So when you encounter those bullies at school or at home or at work, remember this: You may not have a fairy godmother to rescue you, but you have the living God on your side. This God is pleased—not when you suffer for doing wrong—but for doing right. This same God suffered for you so you might become royalty:

“You have been called for this purpose [to patiently endure suffering for doing what is right], since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,

“who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Peter 2:21–24).

Are you acting like the princess you are? If you’re not sure you’ve ever surrendered your life to the King of kings, you can read more about that here.

Bow to the King, sweet girl.

Have courage, and be kind.

Cinderella: “Have Courage, and Be Kind” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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Christian Grey: Why Women Everywhere Want This Man

Christian Grey: Why Women Everywhere Want This Man

Today, a blockbuster romanticizing BDSM (bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism) will hit the big screens near you. In case you’re not familiar with these terms, a sadist receives sexual gratification by dishing out pain; a masochist receives sexual gratification by receiving pain.

A Strong Woman’s Dilemma

At first glance, it appears downright puzzling that women would consider this to be enjoyable entertainment . . . and flock to it in droves. Dr. Juli Slattery asks,

In a culture that constantly celebrates women’s independence and freedom, do you find it strange that a book about bondage is spreading like wildfire? All of a sudden, words like “submission,” “master,” and “obedience” are not only acceptable but sexy.

In a conversation about Fifty Shades on The View, Barbara Walters suggested that the reason women love this book so much is because, “when you go home, you want the guy to be in charge.”

Really?!

Well, yes. Women want strong, confident men . . . and we want to be in control. But unfortunately, through insisting on control, we’ve contributed to the very thing we despise: a culture of increasingly weak men.

Christian Grey to the Rescue

Enter counterfeit solution Christian Grey and the dark world of BDSM. Dannah Gresh and Dr. Slattery write,

Although Fifty Shades is fiction, we assure you that the world of BDSM is not. Since the book’s release there has been a dramatic increase in the sales of bondage gear. What was once viewed as a strange, aberrant practice is becoming increasingly mainstream for married couples and for those looking for an exciting affair.

But, they warn,

Solving the “weak man” problem with BDSM is about as logical as curing obesity by promoting anorexia. Both are dangerous distortions of appetite. The true answer is for us to grasp what health looks like.

So what is healthy in the bedroom?

Great Sex Is Not Grey

First, a couple of basic reminders about sex. Because, while E.L. James, the author of Fifty Shades of Grey, would have you believe that sex is grey, God is not grey on this topic. He’s black and white, so that you might catch a glimpse of His unrivaled beauty:

  1. Great sex was God’s idea (Gen. 1:18–25)! If that blows your mind, that’s because, as Dr. Slattery says, “Sex has been dragged through the mud so thoroughly that most people can’t even comprehend that it is intended to be something holy.” Oh, and “holy” does not equal “boring!” God designed loving, passionate sex to be enjoyed in the safe context of a covenant commitment between one man and one woman.
  2. Great sex is not ultimately about us; it’s about God. God designed marriage and sex to tell the story of His loving sacrificial leadership toward His Bride, the Church, and of the Church’s joyful submission to Him (Eph. 5). Again, I appreciate Dr. Slattery’s reminder:

    Christ taught and modeled that authoritative leadership is for the purpose of loving sacrifice, not domination, control, abuse, or humiliation.

    Submission is all about power—not weakness. . . . God’s design for women to submit is not to take away her power but to channel it in a way that builds a courageous lover and leader in her husband. God’s plan works!

Christ Jesus to the Rescue

So what if you don’t have a strong man to love and serve and lead you?

Actually, you do.

Christ Jesus, God’s own Son, left His powerful position and riches in Paradise to stoop low to serve you. He became a man so He could receive the righteous blows of God’s justice as the willing Substitute for your sin.

Christ Jesus is the strong man your heart desires. Christian Grey is a cheap substitute for the strong, loving leader you were designed for.

Christ Jesus became a man so He could bleed, so that His blood might wash your dirty heart and body white as snow. He experienced physical and emotional pain unlike any you will ever know—so that you, through His wounds, might be healed.

He did all this to restore your broken relationship with God, so that you might glorify and enjoy Him forever, “to the praise of His glorious grace” (Eph. 1:6).

Christ Jesus is the strong man your heart desires. Christian Grey is a cheap substitute for the strong, loving leader you were designed for.

Calling Out the Hibernating Strong Man in Your Husband

Until you are with Him in person, God has given you the means to fulfill your sexual desires, married woman. Not through dark, harmful, twisted sexuality, but in the God-blessed, sanctified context of biblical marriage.

Some of you are experiencing this joyful gift right now. Others of you wonder if your husband even has a sex drive.

I’ll share a secret with you that I learned from reading Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart. Great sex will not begin in the bedroom. Here are a few excerpts that speak to this:

Becoming a great lover requires you to exercise the muscles of temporarily suspending what you want in order to understand and bring joy to your husband. . . .

Sex in marriage will always take on the form of the relationship, even for couples that try to use it to cover up other problems or to think of it as a separate issue. Many couples come to counseling complaining of problems sexually. Almost invariably, their sexual dynamics are a perfect illustration of what is happening throughout their entire relationship. . . .

If God created and defines sex as a “deep knowing” (“yada”), we can reason that the ultimate sexual satisfaction will be found when we are truly known by one another. If you want a satisfying sex life—to truly experience yada—friendship with your husband is the pathway to achieve it. When the deep knowing is given priority in our love lives, the physical aspect of sex just works better. . . .

Regardless of whether your sex life is sizzling or hibernating, my challenge to you is this: How can you begin to call out the strong leader in your husband?

If you have no idea where to start, may I encourage you sign up for the 30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge? Even if you’ve taken it before, would you consider taking it again?

Christian Grey: Why Women Everywhere Want This Man” was originally posted on TrueWoman.com. 

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Does Erotica Help . . . Or Hurt?

Does Erotica Help . . . Or Hurt?

Dear Single,

So you don’t have the love (and sex!) you want. Does that mean that erotica is a good outlet for your sexual frustration?

 

Before I answer that, let me tell you how I define erotica. Erotica is art, literature, or movies intended to arouse sexual desire. It doesn’t have to be a harlequin romance novel or an X-rated movie to count. I can hear you protesting, But when I read a book or watch a movie, I’m not actually having sex myself. So isn’t that the lesser of two evils?

This Valentine’s Day, the world offers you a solution: You don’t have to have sex yourself; you can watch someone else have sex, or you can read all the steamy details through erotica like Fifty Shades of Grey. While that might initially sound better than having sex yourself, don’t believe for a minute that erotica has any place in a genuinely born-again believer’s life.

 

Is Jesus a Killjoy?

Jesus clearly taught us that any kind of lust is sin:

“Everyone who looks at a woman [or man] with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her [or him] in his heart” (Matt. 5:28).

Was Jesus just being a killjoy? Quite the opposite! Did you know that great sex was God’s idea?! (Gen. 1:18–25). If that blows your mind, that’s because,

“Sex has been dragged through the mud so thoroughly that most people can’t even comprehend that it is intended to be something holy.” —Dr. Juli Slattery

By the way, “holy” does not equal “boring!” God designed loving, passionate sex to be enjoyed in the safe context of a covenant commitment between one man and one woman. (I can’t wait!)

But if you—like me—aren’t yet married, than you do know what it’s like to wait! And wait. And wait. And wait.

 

Why Erotica Is Not the Solution

Here’s why Dannah Gresh shares that erotica is not the solution for your sexual desires:

While erotica might originally heighten sexual feelings, over the long haul it erodes something much more important—intimacy. Whether you are married or single, you are longing for more than sex. Your body, your mind, and your spirit were created to crave intimacy. The Old Testament [word] for sex [is] yada—to know, to be known, to be deeply respected. Transcending the physical act, God’s language speaks of the deep emotional knowing you ultimately long to experience. The physical aspect of sex is just one part of the equation, but our culture tends to hyperfocus on it with no attention to the ultimately more fulfilling aspect of yada—emotional intimacy. Sexual activity by itself is an empty substitute for true intimacy, and will never be enough. Erotica places undue emphasis on the physical and disables your ability to connect emotionally.

The Tragic Ending Erotica Doesn’t Tell

If you’re still skeptical, take it from a girl who’s been there. Dannah and Juli share this girl’s story in Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart,

I am single and erotica has ruined my life. I have been addicted for ten years, and I am only twenty-five. No one knows that I have lived an isolated life because I have found more solace in fantasies aroused in my mind by erotica than in real relationships. Erotica seems harmless because it’s just words on a page but it brands your mind, creates false expectations for future relationships. I can’t even maintain real relationships because I feel like a shallow pretender hiding one of the biggest parts of my life. Erotica perpetuated my “need” for meeting people online because I didn’t know how to develop or maintain relationships with people outside of the screen. Eventually, I decided to take my online relationships into reality. Many of the stories I read portrayed rape or power-struggle situations as exciting. A no didn’t always mean no because, in the end, the girl always seemed to end up just fine. So when I met one of my first guys offline, I was thrust ever too quickly into a scenario I had read about but, unlike the stories, I didn’t end up fine. My no didn’t mean no, and I was sexually abused by a man who did the same things to me that I had read about in those erotic stories. But in my story, there wasn’t a happy ending. Ever since then, I have carried the weight of shame and guilt from putting myself into that situation six years ago. Erotica makes it seem normal for us to be used and abused, but it’s not normal.

Dear single, erotica is not the answer to your longings for intimacy. Christ is. He’s also provided community so you can experience emotional intimacy right now. And if and when He provides you with a godly spouse, the physical intimacy of sex will just be the icing on the cake of the friendship and emotional intimacy you already share together. (And if you’re married, erotica isn’t for you either, for all the reasons mentioned above. It will erode your intimacy with your husband, rather than enhancing it.)

I’d love to hear from you. Here are some ways you can join the conversation:

  • Do you agree that erotica doesn’t belong in a born-again believer’s life? Why or why not?
  • How do you see the difference between sex and intimacy?
  • Got any great ideas for how single girls can cope with unmet sexual desire? Please share them!
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Undercover at Oprah’s Tour

Undercover at Oprah’s Tour

“We come from the stars. . . . How amazing is that?” These were Oprah’s opening words at The Life You Want Weekend 2014 Tour.

Undercover at Oprah’s Tour

I know, because I was there. Oprah Winfrey’s The Life You Want Weekend Tour is drawing women like crazy, and I wanted to see what women are feasting on. What is Oprah feeding them? I figured I’d return to the office with fresh passion for why I do what I do.

I got that . . . and more.

As I slipped into my seat just minutes before the tour started with my pen and notebook, I asked God for compassion, wisdom, and discernment.

Those prayers quickly turned toward marriages and families as Elizabeth Gilbert encouraged women to go on a quest (even if it meant divorcing their husbands, as she did, in order to “find themselves”).

I prayed for Rob Bell, who, according to TIME magazine, “is at the forefront of a rethinking of Christianity in America.” I prayed big, that Rob would share the Gospel without even being able to help himself, but . . . alas. There was not one mention of sin or of our need for a Savior.

I prayed for speakers Oprah and Mark Nepo and Iyanla Vanzant. You might assume I left discouraged, disheartened, and thoroughly defeated, but just the opposite is true.

I left praying prayers of thankfulness.

Praying Prayers of Thankfulness

I left praying prayers of thankfulness that I know the name of the “unnamed spirit” Mark Nepo addressed in his group meditation:

“Oh endless Creator, Force of Life, Seat of the Unconscious, Dharma, Otman, Rah, Kal, Dahr, Center of our Love, Christ-light, Yaweh, Allah, Mother of the Universe . . . Oh nameless spirit that is not done with us . . .”

I left praying prayers of thankfulness that I am not the “master of my fate, the captain of my soul,” (the mantra Oprah imbibed as a young girl), but I know the One who is.

I left praying prayers of thankfulness that I don’t have to figure out why I’m here by catching the “whispers” the Universe sends my way—I already know why I’m here through the reliable, unchanging Word of God.

Mostly, I left praying prayers of thankfulness that God would reveal Himself to me. I left freshly aware that the best the world has to offer is utterly empty in comparison to the riches found in Christ.

Because of this, now I’m turning my prayers to True Woman ’14, praying that all 10,000 seats will be filled. I’m praying that Oprah Tour attendees will then rub shoulders with True Woman ’14 attendees and breathe in deep the fragrance of Jesus Christ, slain for sinners, raised to defeat sin and death and secure for His children everlasting life with Him.

You may not have attended one of Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend Tours, but in your own life—as you see what the world has to offer—what prayers of thanksgiving can you offer as you consider all that is yours in Christ?
Undercover at Oprah’s Tour” was originally posted on TrueWoman.com.

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Will I Ever Be Loved Like Peeta Loves Katniss?

 

Will I Ever Be Loved Like Peeta Loves Katniss?

 

 

Whether you caught The Hunger Games opening weekend (and contributed to making it the biggest November opening ever!), or whether you have no idea who Peeta and Katniss are, I’m guessing you can relate to this girl’s bottom-line question:

I finished The Hunger Games series, and I am so envying Katniss. I mean, I know they are just fictional characters, but seriously! Peeta loves her so much and so unconditionally. This guy is SO perfect. I know I have God and all, but is there gonna be a guy that really loves me THAT much??

Will I ever be loved like that? Even if I’ve never asked that question out loud, it’s been the silent question behind the tears filling my eyes after dropping yet another novel into the library dropbox or watching the credits roll by after yet another chick flick. Could that ever happen to me?

But as the books and movies have been released and the tears have fallen and the years have passed, I’ve come to believe that even if . . .

Even if Peeta actually existed in real life . . .

And even if I were his “Katniss,” the woman he lived and breathed for . . .

It wouldn’t be enough. Not for long.

That’s because the hole in my heart—and the hole in your heart—isn’t Peeta-shaped. Or Gale-shaped (Katniss’ other love interest).

You weren’t made to be adored but to adore.

You weren’t made to be worshiped but to worship.

You were made for more. You were made for God.

A God so big the waters of the earth fit into the palm of His hand. A God of nearly 500 billion galaxies. A God who has no weaknesses, who never trips or falls or needs you to rescue Him (like Peeta). A God who not only talks about dying for you (like Peeta), but a God who actually sacrificed His life for you.

Why?

So you—a poor nobody from the dark, outer district—could enter into the closest relationship you have ever known with the kindest, most powerful King who has always been. So there could be no distance or discord or disconnectedness between you and Him.

How do I know?

Because God thought up marriage—the most committed love relationship we can experience as humans—to give us just a taste, a tiny taste, of the oneness we can and will know with Him, through faith in Jesus Christ:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church. . . . This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it [marriage] refers to Christ and the church (Eph. 5:25–32).

You are loved. So much more and so much better than Peeta loves Katniss. You are loved by this God who makes Peeta look . . . well, puny.

Dream bigger. You were made for so much more!

Will I Ever Be Loved Like Peeta Loves Katniss?” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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Dear One Direction Fan

 

Dear One Direction

 

Dear One Direction Fan,

I get how Liam, Niall, Harry, Zayn, and Louis melt your heart. I do. They’re sexy, they’re funny, and they’ve been coached by the very best to know just how to tug at your heartstrings.

They’re your life. You feel like they complete you. Like they’re perfect. Like they love you even though they’ve never met you.

I don’t know how to break this to you gently, but . . . it’s all one beautifully packaged lie.

The truth is, they don’t know you. They probably don’t even care about you—other than to be grateful in a vague sense that as one of their millions of fans you give them the attention and acceptance they crave.

See, ultimately, they’re no different than you. They, too, have an emptiness—a wild, restless craving to be loved and accepted.

So they get up on stage after stage to sing songs someone else wrote that play to your insecurities and send your emotions soaring and your tears falling. And then they walk off the stage and probably never think about you twice . . . or at least not in a way that’s in your best interest.

It’s not that I take pleasure in deflating your world. It’s just that I know One Direction won’t always be there for you. Like every other band in history, they will be replaced. Like every other human in history, they will die.

But through it all, their Creator and your Creator will live on. This God who sings songs over you and stores all your tears in a bottle.

This God who knows everything there is to know about you, including the number of hairs on your head.

This God who sent His Son to step onto the stage of time and perform for you on the cross because He knew you could never perform well enough to meet His perfect, holy standard.

This God who raised His Son to life again so in Him you, too, might experience new, crazy-free life.

That’s what I want for you. That you’ll turn from your idol and worship and serve your Creator rather than One Direction—so you can experience true joy. That you will personalize His promises the way you’ve personalized One Directions’ lyrics. Promises no boy band could ever fulfill like:

“I will never leave you or forsake you.”

“I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

His love is not a beautifully packaged lie. It is real. Real enough to bleed, to pursue, to wait, and to win your heart.

Dear One Direction Fan” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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