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Archive for the ‘Women.’ Category

Why Some Women Keep Living With Abusive Men.


 

Abused woman
Do you know someone who is being abused and is too frightened to do anything about it? (IStock photo)

In the nation of Colombia, where I ministered last month, a woman is killed by her husband or partner every four days. The problem is so serious that sociologists have coined a new term for it: femicidio, or femicide.

I’ve often quoted the statistics about domestic violence, but when I was in the Colombian city of Barranquilla, I saw the scars up close. The emotional pain I encountered while praying with and counseling women there was excruciating. Some were gang raped as teenagers. Others were sexually molested by relatives. Many had been slapped, punched, choked, kicked or attacked with knives or iron rods by husbands or boyfriends.

Celia (not her real name) had the saddest story. She gave her life to Christ a few years ago, but she maintained an on-again, off-again relationship with a boyfriend whom she admitted was abusive. He screamed at her constantly, he pushed her to the floor on one occasion, and he often told her she was inferior to his other girlfriends.

Yet Celia couldn’t stand it when he stopped calling her. She wanted his attention, even when he called her names and bragged about his sexual conquests with other women.

Why do some women actually want to stay in relationship with men who act like total jerks? It’s a complicated problem, but we can’t use that as an excuse to ignore it. The Christian community must learn to confront domestic abuse if we ever hope to heal the women who suffer from it. In my experience, I’ve found five main reasons why abuse is tolerated:

1. Women feel compelled to keep their abuse a secret. Any form of abuse produces shame. The victim is made to feel she is the guilty one, so she feels compelled to keep quiet about it. In many cultures, relatives enforce this secrecy by insisting that what goes on inside the home stays inside the home. Often a mother will tell her daughter that exposing her husband’s abuse will discredit the family. So a woman is expected to be the scapegoat, bearing the shame for her uncle’s sexual advances or her husband’s beatings.

2. Their fathers abused their mothers. One woman I met in Colombia told me she has always ended up with abusive men in her life, ever since her boss raped her in his office when she was in her early 20s. In counseling we discovered that her father constantly abused her mother physically and verbally—and that her mother stayed in the marriage even though she was miserable. Today, the mother’s agony has been passed down to the next generation. The mother sent a signal to her daughter that women should simply roll over and take abuse.

3. They have lost their self-esteem. Women who are addicted to abusive men don’t become this way overnight. It can start with a lack of affection and affirmation at home. But usually a traumatic experience such as a rape, childhood sex abuse or even a serious bullying incident can trigger the downward spiral. Abuse victims start believing they are worthless—and that they deserve to be mistreated. When this lie has fully metastasized, an abused woman will feel attracted to men who reinforce this sense of worthlessness.

4. They are financially dependent on their husbands. In the United States, women can call the police and secure protection from an abuser (although the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says only 25 percent of victims in the U.S. report the crime). But in developing countries, reporting the abuse is rarely an option. In Peru, police have been known to rape women who report abuse! No wonder many women feel helpless. They have no legal way out of this nightmare—and if they leave the marriage, they have no money. So most women live with their bruises and suffer in silence.

5. They received flawed counsel from pastors. I’ve met many Christian women who felt trapped in horribly abusive marriages. In some cases, their husbands were HIV positive (because of affairs) and yet they demanded sex. In other cases, the men were hitting their wives, emotionally battering them or even threatening to kill them. Yet when the women sought help from the church, they were told to submit and endure. Often the line goes like this: “If you will be more submissive, your husband will change.”

That is the worst advice any counselor could tell a woman whose self-esteem has already been torn to shreds. She already questions whether God loves her—and now a pastor suggests that God wants her to be abused. This type of “pastoral care” is actually a form of spiritual abuse!

Often pastors tell women to “be quiet and take it” because they don’t want to encourage divorce. Pastors will use Malachi 2:16—“God hates divorce”—and yet ignore the rest of the passage, which says, “And him who covers his garment with wrong” (NASB). Many scholars say this passage should be translated, “And him who covers his wife with violence.”

Yes, God hates divorce—because He created the family. But He also hates it when women are abused. If we want His heart, we must defend women from abuse and devise compassionate strategies to protect and heal them.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of the Mordecai Project(themordecaiproject.org). You can follow him on Twitter at @leegrady. He is currently establishing a shelter for abused women in the city of Barranquilla.

7 Ways a Wife Injures a Husband Without Even Knowing It.


 

Couple arguing
Do you often injure your spouse without knowing it? (Stock Free Images)

I was talking to a man the other day. He’s injured. Not severely. He will survive. Hopefully. The wounds aren’t deep. Right now. But, he is injured.

It’s an emotional injury. Sometimes those are the worst kind of hurts.

The person doing the injuring: His wife. And she, most likely, doesn’t even know she’s doing it.

Surprised?

I’m not. It happens all the time. She’s probably injured too. And, he doesn’t even know he’s doing it to her. Marriages are made of two very different, imperfect people. Plus, we often injure most those we love the most.

My friend is newly married. Over the course of the last few months he’s began to realize how many things his wife is saying and doing that are causing him to pull away from her. He even recognizes his reaction as a defense mechanism. Rather than start a fight, he withdraws. And, he’s withdrawn to the point that he was willing to admit his hurt, which is difficult for any man to do. I was proud of him for being humble enough to ask if this was normal in a marriage.

It didn’t take long before I realized, however, this marriage is heading for disaster if they don’t address their issues soon. There’s a great chance she has questions about the relationship also. Thankfully, they’re in a great season to ask hard questions, learn valuable lessons and strengthen the marriage.

I should be clear. This is not a counseling blog. And, this couple needs counseling. Even though I have a degree in counseling, this is simply a blog where I want to help people. Mostly that’s by addressing leadership issues, but sometimes I address the issues dealing with relationships—families, marriage and children—because, those issues impact us and also our leadership.

Which lead me to this post—addressing the ways wives injure their husbands without even knowing it. It’s a little sarcastically written, partially because that was easier, partially because I can tend to be that way, but mostly because it hopefully illustrates harsher realities in a gentler way. (Again, I realize this works both ways. As a man, I feel most prepared to address this side of the issue. I’ll consider a companion post after I consult my wife.)

Here are 7 ways a wife injures her husband (without even knowing it):

1. Put him down in front of other people. Most men will not counter this type of humiliation in public…if ever. They will simply take it…and hurt. If they do eventually address it will be out of stored up resentment…maybe anger…and it won’t be pretty.

2. Go behind him when he tries to do something at home. Always show him how much better you can do things than he can do them. He will appreciate that. When he fixes the bed, make sure you show him the “correct way” immediately after he finishes. He will be reminded he doesn’t measure up to your standards.

3. Constantly badger him. If he doesn’t do what you want him to do …remind him. Again and again (Because that accomplishes what you want it to do).

4. Use the “you always” phrase … excessively. Because he “always” does and, best news yet, it helps build him into a man that always will.

5. Hold him responsible for your emotional wellbeing. He’s the reason you feel bad today and every other day you feel bad. So, make sure he knows it’s his fault. And, you don’t have to tell him. Subtly, just be in a bad mood towards him, without releasing him from guilt. He’ll take the hint and own the responsibility. He will think it’s his fault even if it’s not.

6. Complain about what you don’t have or get to do. He has a desire to fix things. He wants to be a provider. Every man does. Some attempt to live it out and some don’t. But, when he’s trying, doing the best he can and yet he feels he isn’t measuring up, he’s crushed. When you are always commenting on what other women have that you don’t, he carries the blame, even if you’re not intending it to be his.

7. Don’t appreciate his efforts. Want to injure a man? Refuse to appreciate the things he feels he does well. It could be work, a hobby or a trait, but he feels part of his identity in the things he does. When you don’t find them as “valuable” as he does, his ego is bruised.

The reality is a man’s ego—his self-confidence and sense of worth—is greatly tied to his wife, just as a woman’s is to her husband. We can be fragile people, some more than others.

Understanding these issues and addressing them—with a third party if necessary—will help build healthier, stronger and happier people and marriages.

I understand some women, especially the equally or more wounded women, are going to take offense to this post. I get that. I’m prepared for that … I think. All I can say is that you can’t measure my heart or my intention. As I said, I aim to help. You can’t address what you do not know. If you are guilty of any of these, the response is up to you. If not, well, thanks for reading to this point in the post anyway.

I’m praying this lands on ears that need to hear.

Click here for my follow-up, the “7 Ways a Husband Injures a Wife Without even knowing it.”

Ron Edmondson is a church planter and pastor with a heart for strategy, leadership and marketing, especially geared toward developing churches and growing and improving the kingdom of God.

For the original article, visit ronedmondson.com.

The Secret to Losing Weight Permanently.


body shape
(© stuartmiles | iStockPhoto.com)

God created us to be purpose driven. In other words, our natural inclination is to operate with an intent—a motive, so to speak.

The Bible gives us a number of examples of men and women who did extraordinary things (whether for good or evil) in order to fulfill a purpose or reach a goal. Jacob, for instance, worked 14 years for the deceitful Laban in order to marry the woman of his dreams (see Gen. 29). He had a motive (espousing the lovely Rachel), which served to motivate him to work an extra seven years to accomplish his objective.

It is human nature to operate with a purpose and not wander about aimlessly. The majority of things we set out to accomplish are done with a motive. This is how the Lord created us, and this attribute of mankind extends to every aspect of our living and influences our spiritual as well as our physical lives.

It applies even to weight loss. Most people who set out to lose weight have a specific motive for doing so. Maybe the class reunion is fast approaching and you’re determined to be only 10 pounds heavier than when you graduated, not 50. Or you may have booked a Caribbean cruise and simply refuse to slip on a bathing suit without first firming up and slimming down.

Is there a wedding coming up? How about a family portrait? Whatever the case may be, all too often our motivation for losing weight is simply the desire to change our outward appearance.

But remember Proverbs 31:30 tells us “charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting” (NIV). So if your objective for losing weight is only to enhance your looks, please take my advice: reconsider your motive.

Vanity Is Not a Virtue

Don’t misunderstand me—there is nothing wrong with wanting to look good. After all, Queen Esther received a year’s worth of beauty treatments before going into the royal chambers to visit the king (Esth. 2:12).

Our appearance is important, and first impressions (even second impressions) carry a tremendous impact. But there are a few reasons why appearance should not be the sole motivator for weight loss.

For starters, losing weight for cosmetic reasons is an entirely goal-oriented approach. We are determined to reach an arbitrary number on the scale or a certain size dress or suit.

Once the goal is reached (or once the vacation or the class reunion is over) we find ourselves without a motive, and we soon become unmotivated to continue doing those things we did to reach our goal in the first place—namely, eating right and exercising regularly. We have to shift our focus from the temporary to the permanent.

It’s not about achieving the temporary goal of squeezing into a dress that was two sizes too small to begin with. It’s about permanently establishing a brand-new way of living.

Ironically, another reason why appearance alone should not be the primary motivator is that many people are quite satisfied with their appearance. And because they are content with being “pleasingly plump,” they have no real desire to lose weight—even when shedding a few pounds would improve their health.

I find this is especially common in African-American and Hispanic women, who are not as inclined to strive for society’s standard of an acceptable body weight as are Caucasian and Asian women.

But though this high level of self-satisfaction might guard against conditions such as anorexia nervosa, it can be a real problem when contentment leads to complacency.

In my years of medical practice I’ve encountered a number of patients with serious medical problems related to improper diet, inadequate exercise and excessive body weight. But despite being diagnosed with potentially life-threatening illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, and despite the crippling pain of conditions such as osteoarthritis, they felt satisfied with their appearance (vanity).

They didn’t want to lose weight, even when their health was at stake. I’ve had patients tell me they were afraid they would look “sick” if they lost 10 or 20 pounds, not realizing those extra pounds might just escort them into an early grave.

If you want to lose weight, don’t allow yourself to be driven by vanity. Vanity is not a virtue; it is the cousin of pride, and “pride goes before destruction” (Prov. 16:18).

The Proper Motive

Adopting a healthier lifestyle requires discipline, moderation and self-control—character traits supported throughout the Scriptures. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, for example, Paul says: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

“Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

Paul compares the Christian life to an athletic competition here and in other parts of the Bible (2 Tim. 4:7; Gal. 2:2). What a powerful word picture to emphasize the benefits of living a life of discipline, moderation and self-control.

These character traits are perfected through the Holy Spirit and are vital to us if we are to mature on this Christian journey. And even though the prize Paul speaks of is our heavenly reward, we can’t ignore the importance of exercising these same qualities in our physical lives.

It’s actually difficult (if not impossible) to separate these two aspects of our existence since spiritual maturation requires that we keep fleshly desires under subjection (including the desire to overeat), and that we become adept at resisting temptation (including the temptation to indulge ourselves with our favorite foods).

A professional athlete practices discipline, moderation and self-control whether she feels like it or not. Her body does not call the shots–she does.

In other words, she engages in rigorous training on a regular basis, no matter what the circumstances, and no matter what her “flesh” would rather be doing. The same is required of any woman attempting to modify her lifestyle to improve her health.

Our flesh ought not to control us. But without discipline, moderation and self-control, you’ll soon discover how easy it is for the flesh to overtake you and for your worthy plans of living a healthier life to fall by the wayside.

It requires self-discipline to crawl out of a warm and cozy bed for a brisk 30-minute walk. It requires moderation to stop at one scoop of ice cream or one tablespoon of gravy. And it requires self-control to keep on driving past your favorite fast-food restaurant.

Honor God With Your Body

When you start with discipline, moderation and self-control, and then add the proper motive, you will certainly see results. If you refuse to be motivated by vanity but let your main desire be to improve your health (or maintain the good health you already have), then you’re on the right track.

Think about it this way: As believers, our bodies are the living temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20). So taking care of our bodies is one way we honor God. Losing weight as an effort to maintain the temple of God is an honorable endeavor; any other reason borders on self-centeredness and vanity.

Let’s compare it to the act of giving. We can give our tithes and offerings with a selfish, goal-oriented mind-set, focusing on the “good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over” return promised to us in Luke 6:38. But this is giving with the wrong motive.

The Bible says to “honor the Lord with your wealth” (Prov. 3:9). So giving is an act of worship, a way of honoring God.

It shouldn’t be a selfish act prompted by the promise of how much we will get in return. The same holds true for any of the other ways we honor God.

Remember in the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus described people who fasted and prayed just to call attention to themselves? He said their reward would be from men and not from God. The problem was that their motive wasn’t to have fellowship with God through prayer and fasting but to receive recognition and attention from other men.

Everything—yes, everything—we do as believers ought to honor God, including our motive for wanting to lose weight. The incentive to adhere to a healthy lifestyle should be to honor God through caring for our bodies, His temple, and not any self-centered desire to improve our looks.

If we end up looking a little nicer in the process, then that’s great, but it shouldn’t be our primary motivation.

Keep Focused on the Goal

I’m convinced that one of the reasons so many people are unsuccessful with long-term weight loss is they are operating with the wrong motive. Keep the proper focus. Purpose in your heart that you will honor God by taking care of your body, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, and start making a change today.

A dear patient once assured me that she was going to dramatically change her lifestyle by eating right, exercising and losing weight right after the Memorial Day holiday. She was planning a large party that weekend, a culinary feast for more than 100 guests.

Woman Who Lost 250 Pounds Shares Why Diets Don’t Work.


 

Teresa Shields Parker
Teresa Shields Parker discovered that dieting wouldn’t help her lost 250 lbs.

“Meet a woman who lost 250 pounds by giving up all thediets,” read the promo for my first television interview centered around my memoir, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying To Earn God’s Favor.

It’s true. I don’t consider what I do as dieting. Dietsnever work. The way we use the term diet in our culture means it is a short-term, highly restricted way of eating. It’s not something we intend to continue for the rest of our lives.

It’ll just be until we lose 20 or 40 or 100 pounds and then we will go back to the way we’ve always been eating.

I know this all too well. I once weighed 430 pounds, but I was a really successful dieter. I lost 100s of pounds through the years going on every diet imaginable. And they all worked until I started eating foods containing processed sugar and flour again. Then I’d gain the weight back plus more.

I had an idea of what I needed to do to lose weight. When I’d pray about it and ask God to help me with this “mountain of flesh,” He’d always give me the same plan. Stop eating sugar. Eat more lean mean, fruits and vegetables and eat less bread.

I never  thought I could do the first  step and stop eating bread so I’d search for the latest weight loss pill or supplement or go on another diet. I’d vow this time to make it work. However, they were just words.

A goal was always motivational for me because the reward after losing 100 pounds was to go back to eating whatever I wanted. It took no time at all to regain the weight plus more.

After being told I would die in five years if I didn’t lose weight, I eventually had a gastric bypass. I lost weight but I was angry that I couldn’t eat what I wanted. After a little over a year I found I could eat sugar again and so I started gaining weight again. Once again I found myself in morbid obesity headed back towards my highest weight.

This was more distressing now. I’m greatly altered my body. I’d tried the last magic known to man. I did not want to live this way and yet I couldn’t seem to stop eating.

The aha moment came when it hit me after hearing a 25-year sober alcoholic talk about how to get free of alcohol he had to stop drinking alcohol.  “Alcohol is essentially liquid sugar,” he said. This may seem like a duh moment to you, but for me it was monumental.

I never drank alcohol and never wanted to be an alcoholic. Now if what I was hearing was true, I was the same as an alcoholic only I was a sugar-holic. Since the meeting was a harmful life patterns group, open to those with all addictions, I asked the question, “Could a person be addicted to sugar.”

The presenter said he wasn’t sure of the mechanics of it, but a person could be addicted to anything they feel they can’t live without. I always said, “I could never live without sugar.” I knew in my heart I was addicted to sugar.

I began the journey by stopping my trigger food, which was candy, and then making the switch to giving up processed sugar. I substituted fruit in it’s place. Yet fruit has fructose, but it is much healthier than processed sugar because of the water and fiber content.

After giving up processed sugar, I learned how items made with processed wheat flour turn into sugar in the body. I gave up white and then wheat flour and finally all items with gluten.

It’s been a journey for sure. Altogether I’ve lost over 250 pounds from my highest weight.

Giving up what you crave sounds difficult at first, but when you set your mind to do what’s right for your life for the rest of your life, you will find God’s power is available to help you through. He won’t do it for you, but He will provide power to propel you forward.

The difference about the way I eat now is I’ve switched the way I look at food. I will continue to eat this way for the rest of my life. I am eating for my health, not just for weight loss. If I never lose another pound I will continue to eat this way. I feel better than I ever have.

I’m hearing more about the addictive qualities of processed sugar and flour these days. I’m glad.

However, I hate to hear supposed weight loss experts tell people they can eat whatever they want and lose weight. This may be true of people who have small amounts of weight to lose.

After being morbidly obese most of my life and knowing many who have not been able to kick this problem, even with gastric bypass surgery, I’m sure the majority of the obesity issue has to do with processed sugar.

Making that lifestyle change and sticking to it will make a major difference in anyone’s health.

How to make a lifestyle change.

1. Know Your Why: Why do you want to be healthy? Why do you want to live? It has to be more important than eating your favorite dessert.

2. Know Your Dreams: What are the things you dream of doing that you can’t do now.

3. Know your trigger foods: What are the things you crave and want constantly. Clean your house of these things and tell yourself what you can eat instead. Drink more water. Many times you are hungry instead of thirsty. Have some go-to snack foods, fruits, vegetables and protein that are easy to take with you and easy to snack on. Make sure you have plenty of lean protein throughout your day.

4. Know your emotions: When do you eat? Is it when you are happy, sad, bored, lonely, depressed, overwhelmed, tired? Write out solutions to what you can do to address each of these instead of eating.

5. Know your mindset: Your mindset is health. Know what takes you away from health. Know what you need to do to stay on track. Write out solutions to those things. Keep them handy. Refer to them often.

6. Know your temptations: What situations are most tempting? Is it parties at work, holidays, watching TV? Think through each of these. If you mess up, get right back on track.

7. Know your Higher Power: I make no bones about saying my Higher Power is God. Connect with Him. Ask Him to remind you of your goals, to encourage you and support you. Know that He wants you healthy to complete your assignment on the earth today.

That’s it in a nutshell. Now go out and change your life.

What part of changing your life do you think will be most difficult?

Teresa Shields Parker is an author, blogger, editor, business owner, wife and mother. Her book, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor is available on Amazon in print, Kindle and Audible HERE. This story is from her blog, teresashieldsparker.com.

Becoming a Woman of Discernment.


Kristen Leigh Evensen

During a quick five-minute break between afternoon tasks, I decided to read a short excerpt from a devotional book, one I had enjoyed reading for daily reflection a few years prior. As I read the day’s content, I began to feel less and less comfortable with the spiritual language used. Something about it rubbed me the wrong way. This nagging sense of unease had not been present in years before—so why now? As I thought more pointedly about the content, I realized that the book’s thoughts and encouragements had little basis in Scripture and in the gospel message. They revolved more around one person’s perception of the truth and in personal revelation and feelings.

In today’s world, half-truths and false messages are not limited to the books we read. They run rampant on the Internet, on Christian radio and, unfortunately, in the pulpit of our churches. Beyond blatantly non-Christian, non-Biblical worldviews are cunning messages proclaiming a false version of Christianity, the gospel and the Bible.

Edward T. Welch puts it this way: “We live in a time when there is a resurgence of God-talk and spiritual language, but conversations rarely get to the thing of “first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures…”’1 This is where it gets tricky for believers, and where the rubber hits the road. How do we as Christians discern whether or not the whole truth is being taught in the messages presented to us? How do we protect ourselves against being deceived by false versions of the truth?

One thing is clear: We need to take seriously the call to become women of Biblical, gospel-centered discernment. We need to be trained to test the truth of each message we hear—or the result will be our spiritual deception and the distortion of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This article will attempt to answer two important questions: Why is our growth in spiritual discernment important? And how can we cultivate discernment in our Christian walk?

Why is Our Growth in Spiritual Discernment Important?

My heart breaks when I consider the thousands of Christians who have been, and will be, led astray by false teaching and false gospels. The reality is, however, that warnings about these very problems were given long ago, as seen in these New Testament passages:

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people…these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified in the faith” (2 Timothy 3:1,4,8-9).

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

“Certain persons, by swerving from [a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith], have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions” (1 Timothy 1:5-7).

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world…therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them” (1 John 4:1).

Scripture makes it absolutely clear that the times are indeed coming, and have already come, when false teachers will appear on the scene and lead many well-intentioned people astray. Without a consistent, Spirit-led growth in Biblical and gospel-centered discernment, any Christian is susceptible to confusion, deceit, and blindness.

Our growth in Biblical, gospel-centered discernment is important because the name of Jesus Christ is at stake. Without cultivating this discernment, our hearts will be led astray to believe unsound, corrupt teaching that glorifies man and promotes worldly pleasure and gain. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh…We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” There is a greater war at hand, a spiritual battle for souls, and the enemy is on the front lines, ready to deceive all who are unprepared in the truth.

But isn’t this judging? You might be asking this question, and it is a valid one at that. It is true that only God is able to judge the heart because of his perfect righteousness (Psalm 9:8), and we are not to partake in such judgment (James 4:12). However, there is a major difference between judgment of souls and judgment of truth. Christians should take seriously the ability to discern between truth and error—the gospel is at stake! False representations of truth are not to be taken lightly. Consider Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia:

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”

Paul encourages the church to discern when a different gospel is preached, while surrendering the ultimate judgment of false teachers to the Lord, who alone can judge the soul.

How Can we Cultivate Biblical, Gospel-Centered Discernment?

Stay submitted to Christ. Loving obedience and humble surrender before the Lord are actions that put our lives in right perspective before him. Neglecting time at his feet will only result in following a wayward, self-focused heart that often forgets the lordship of Christ. Our lives are not our own; we were bought with the blood of Christ. A person is far less likely to fall prey to deceit and false messages if they are choosing on a daily basis to submit to Christ, our Ruler and Firm Foundation. His loving grace is enough to guide us into all truth.

Stay in Scripture. Proverbs 3:6 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” The very Word of God tell us the inerrant truth and acts as our guide. “Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). Scripture makes us wiser than our enemies and guards our paths so we stay pure and do not wander. The Word of God discerns the “thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12) and is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) for the eternal battle we fight. Jesus prayed for believers, that the Father would guard them from the evil one and sanctify them in the truth (John 17:17). Our part is to choose growth in the Word every single day. As with counterfeit money, Christians wisely discern counterfeit messages because we thoroughly know the original.

Stay in prayer. We are encouraged in Proverbs 3 to “call out for insight and raise [our] voice for understanding.” Prayer is part of our submission to Christ, as we realize our need for communing with the Father of all truth. My pastor once explained the importance of gaining wisdom through prayer like grocery shopping: If we shop on an empty stomach, we are more likely to make poor decisions that suit our immediate needs. But the person who fills up on a hearty meal before shopping makes wiser decisions and can discern options more clearly. When we stay in prayer and seek wisdom and discernment, we are then more likely to look at false messages with a clearer understanding of Biblical, gospel-centered truth.

Stay in the Church. The Church is Christ’s bride and his instrument for spreading his glory to the world. The Church is comprised with individual believers who, if all are submitted to Christ, in the Word and in prayer, can teach and admonish one another in all truth (Colossians 3:16). At times, if any certain teaching is rubbing me wrong, I will talk about it with another believer. The Church has a responsibility to point out false teaching within its own walls, to seek wisdom about godly leaders and to declare God’s greatness by its hunger for the truth. If you attend a church that has fallen prey to false teachers or gospels, please seek out church leadership, and begin a conversation. Another wise point of action could also be to explore an alternative body of believers where Christ is glorified as the supreme authority.

Be On Guard

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Corinthians 13:5) Christian woman, may you always be on guard against the deceiver, and all the ways and means he intends to use to derail your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ lead you into all truth, deepening your wisdom and founding you in his love, until you see him face to face.

Endnote:

1. Edward T. Welch, When People Are Big and God Is Small (New Jersey: Presbyterian Reformed Publishing Company, 1997), 77.

Kristen Leigh Evensen is a writer, blogger and singer/songwriter. She writes on faith and identity at The Identity Project and keeps a column at WHOLE Magazine. Her desire is to see women transformed by the Gospel! Follow her on Twitter @kristenlevensen and on Facebook.

Publication date January 7, 2014

God’s Grace for the Struggling Single Mom.


single mom with daughter
(http://www.stockfreeimages.com)

Sometimes it’s easier to apply God’s truths to my life than to the lives of my children. I don’t know why that is. Maybe I feel like I should be able to fix things for them because I’m their mom.

If I just love them enough, they won’t feel the void their Dad’s departure left. Nope—not possible. Only God can.

If I just spend enough time with them, they won’t miss their father so much. Nope—not possible. Only God can.

If I just do enough for them, they’ll know that they are valuable and loved. Nope—not possible. Only God can.

If I make life easier for them, the pain won’t be as acute. Nope—not possible. Only God can.

What I’ve done in my feverish attempt to fill the hole left by their father is become completely exhausted and a bit ineffective as a parent. It might have served a purpose to a degree at the beginning, but now I have children who are selfish about my time, demanding of my resources, thoughtless of the dynamics of our family and a bit entitled in their mentality.

Lest it sound like I have the rottenest kids on the East Coast, let me say they are all wonderful. They all have lovely, sweet moments and kind words often. My teenage daughter still calls me “Mommy” sometimes, which absolutely melts my heart. My tweenage son still enjoys reading with me each night while we snuggle. My 6-year-old loves to draw pictures to encourage me. And at the most surprising and sweetest times, my 5-year-old will flash me the sign for “I love you.” They all bless me; they just don’t really help me!

I’ve noticed recently that they don’t seem to be getting some pretty obvious house rules. You know, the knock-before-entering thing. The don’t-help-yourself-to-mom’s-things-without-asking thing. The pick-up-after-yourself thing. The whole obey thing.

I’ve made myself entirely too available for them, so now they expect me to always be available for them. I’ve allowed them to enter my space freely and, boy, am I paying for that now! There are always people in my room messing with my stuff, making a mess.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ SPIRITLED WOMAN.

4 Ways to Evaluate Female Friendships.


two woman talking
(http://www.stockfreeimages.com)

I fly a lot. Maybe too much. It’s how I get to where I need to be to do what I do. Thankfully, I’m on my last regional jet for the year.

There was a time when flying was an adventure, when you boarded large airliners that left on time filled with food, soft blankets and fluffy pillows, which were distributed to all by happy attendants. But that’s not how it looks anymore. Sometimes I feel like hours of my life have been hijacked by the airlines.

More often than not, the planes now come in two categories: small and smaller. Flights are so frequently canceled, I’ve learned to rejoice if mine is simply delayed. Food? No way! It’s no longer included in the mix of escalating airfares.

Regional jets don’t have the overhead space for carry-ons (leave it planeside), let alone blankets or pillows. Too often, the wear and tear of travel has taken its toll on flight attendants, and you’ll notice the skies are not so friendly any more. In short, regional jets are cheaper to operate, but they are not equipped to take you very far.

Some relationships feel like regional jets. No matter how many times you enter them, they feel the same: cramped, poorly maintained, easily canceled, often delayed, costly, stingy and short-ranged. Like a regional jet, these relationships do not have the equipment or capacity to take you very far (even though they carry the same price tag as travel on a 747!).

No matter how many times you prove your loyalty (a true frequent flier), it isn’t long before you discover thefriendship is one-sided. You pay; they take. You never truly move forward because the seatbelt sign is always on, preventing you from ever rising to a place of relief.

Life is a journey that is best traveled with friends. As you move into the next year, ask yourself:

  • Am I traveling unfriendly skies?
  • Am I reinforcing a relationship that is not long-range?
  • Do we have the same destination in mind?
  • Am I investing in what is consistently robbing me of one of my most treasured commodities—my time?

Not every relationship will—or should—last a lifetime. Some connections are made for a season. You can’t always know which friendships will be long-range, but you can choose to recognize and invest in the friendships that have the capacity to go far.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ SPIRITLED WOMAN.

Lisa Bevere is a best-selling author of Fight Like a Girl, Kissed the Girls and Made them Cry, Out of Control and Loving It! and Be Angry and Don’t Blow It! In addition to speaking at national and international conferences, she is a frequent guest on Christian television and radio shows. She and her husband, best-selling author John Bevere, make their home in Colorado.

Women of Faith Urges Ladies to Think Pink.


Women of Faith Conference attendees in Orlando, Fla.
Women of Faith Conference attendees in Orlando, Fla. (Facebook)

Women of Faith, the nation’s largest gathering ofChristian women, is actively supporting the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), one of the leading breast cancer awareness organizations in the world, by informing women of the importance of early detection and by encouraging those currently facing breast cancer.

With the tour under way and running through Nov. 1,Women of Faith asks ladies who plan to attend its events to deck out in pink. In addition, special pink Women of Faith products, such as Bibles, hats and shirts, will be sold during the tour stops. Twenty percent of the proceeds from the merchandise and $1 of every book sold will be donated to NBCF, and void in the following states: Alabama, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Mississippi and South Carolina.

“As an organization that hosts the largest Christian women’s events in the nation, we feel it is absolutely essential to use our ability to reach these groups of women with information about the life-saving power of early detection,” said Carol Nygren, executive vice president and managing director of Women of Faith. “Breast cancer is something that impacts all of us. Our goal at Women of Faith is to speak into the needs, the concerns and the pain women are facing today. Breast cancer is undeniably one of those issues.”

Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of death among females; one-in-eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Each year an estimated 220,000-plus women in the United States are given the heart-breaking news that they have breast cancer.

Despite breast cancer’s alarming statistics, the chances of survival are dramatically increased with early detection. Women of Faith and NBCF have come together to educate women and offer support to those fighting breast cancer.

Breast cancer survivor and Women of Faith speaker, Holly Wagner encourages women in their struggle.

“Some battles we choose, others choose us. The world is looking and waiting for a company of women who will rise in the midst of hard times. And you are just that girl,” Wagner said.

NBCF was founded in 1991 by breast cancer survivor, Janelle Hail. Its mission is to save lives through early detection and education. NBCF offers women free online tools through their websitehttp://beyondtheshock.com, where they can learn, ask and hear from others helpful ways to cope and heal. Additionally, by offering under-served women free mammograms in all 50 states, NBCF is giving women their best chance at life.

“With the help of Women of Faith’s message of hope and renewal, we can inspire women in their fight against cancer and encourage them to take ownership of their health,” said Janelle Hail, founder and CEO of NBCF.

The Women of Faith “Believe God Can Do Anything” fall tour will make a total of 24 stops in cities across the U.S. in 2013. The tour started August 2 in Oklahoma City, Okla., and will wrap-up in Louisville, Ky., on November 1. Each event runs a day and a half and includes a variety of speakers, such as Sheila Walsh, Christine Caine, Lisa Harper, Max Lucado and Priscilla Shirer. For a full list of 2013 “Believe God Can Do Anything” tour cities, please visit http://www.womenoffaith.com/events/.

Women of Faith hosts more women’s events than any other organization in the U.S. Founded in 1996, its live events have taken place across the U.S. encouraging and inspiring women to draw nearer to God and a relationship with Jesus Christ. Women of Faith expects to welcome its 5 millionth attendee this year.  For more information, visit http://www.womenoffaith.com.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

KATIE MARTIN

Drenda Keesee: Challenging a New Generation of Women Through the Media.


Drenda Keesee
Drenda Keesee

Drenda Keesee is using the media to help women discover their God-given potential. Her new weekly program Drenda is broadcast on numerous national TV networks like the ABC Family Channel. Her book is She Gets It! The 11 Lies That Hold Women Hostage, and she and husband Gary lead a thriving church outside Columbus, Ohio. Recently, Kathleen Cooke, who’s leading a new women’s initiative based in Hollywood, interviewed Drenda about her church, family and vision for media.

Kathleen Cooke: You and your husband, Gary, pastor a beautiful and growing church just outside Columbus, Ohio. And yet you didn’t start out successful. What turned things around for you?

Drenda Keesee: Gary and I always had a desire to minister like Paul, who was a tentmaker and paid his own way. We wanted to have our own business so we could share God’s Word without being controlled by financial concerns or manipulation from others. But our plans to build a business were more difficult than we thought. For almost 10 years we lived on commission sales in the financial services sector. For Gary, a basically shy and quiet person, every day was a struggle to talk to people and learn a new area of business.

Gary grew up in the pizza business before attending Oral Roberts University, where we met. I was not shy and believed in Gary tremendously, so I scheduled appointments, managed office details and took care of our young, growing family. In spite of our best efforts, one morning we woke up broke, discouraged and not sure where we were going to find money for groceries. I’ll never forget my mother calling from out of town and asking how things were going. In a cheery voice I responded, “Things are great, just great.” She said, “Open the refrigerator door and tell me what you see.”

As I stood in our kitchen, I opened the refrigerator, breaking down in tears, I said, “An empty jar of mayonnaise!” Literally that was all that was in the refrigerator, and our cabinets were no different. It seemed the harder we tried to get out of debt, the further we got into it. At this point, I was starting to get mad with God. How long did we need to keep trusting that He was going to bring us into a place where we were successful and could minister? In the upcoming weeks after this, I began to really seek God in a way I had not in many years.

One night, I decided I was not going to bed unless God told me what was going on and what we needed to do to get out of the financial mess we were in. I stayed up praying and searching the Scriptures for answers. After a while, I began to see in the book of Haggai (I know—who reads that?) where God said, “Consider your ways. … You looked for much, but it came up little … because my house is in ruins while everyone one of you runs his own house.”

It goes on to say that the silver and the gold are His, and in the midst of their lack God is instructing the Israelites that if they will take care of His things, that from this day forward He would bless them. What I realized is that although we had a noble goal to build a business for God, we were neglecting both Him and His Word while we built our own life, promising to honor Him once we got there. We had one foot in the world and one foot in the kingdom of God.

That night, I felt God show me that we would start helping others get out of debt and strengthening their marriages too. Others needed to hear what we were learning. It seemed hypocritical to tell others how they were relying on debt instead of God while we were in debt, but as we stepped out and started our own business with an emphasis on getting out of debt, we started to flourish in time. Something was different. Just like Haggai says, “From this day forward (when you put God’s things first), I will bless you.” Even though we still had some mountains to climb, and debt to pay, we had a word from God, and it gave us a renewed confidence that God was still with us and had a plan to not only help us but to use us to help others.

Cooke: You have an incredibly intense devotion to your family. Far too often among national Christian leaders, we see dysfunctional family relationships. Why is it so important to put family first?

Keesee: You can accomplish many things, but if you don’t have a strong family that is devoted to one another, then money or success can be very lonely. It was always a first priority next to our devotion to God—to have a great family. I always told God I would do anything He asked, but I would not sacrifice my family. He actually brought a thought to me that said, “I never asked you or anyone else to do that. That was their choice.”

I have come to recognize throughout the years that God gets the blame for so many choices people make when He wasn’t the one who did it. It seems easier to blame God than accept personal responsibility. With that in mind, we always tried to let our children know the “why” behind the “what.” They caught our devotion to God. We modeled it for them by living a real relationship with God with them, not just in front of them. We prayed together and asked them about their needs and taught them to ask God, seek Him first, and then they actually saw the provisions and miracles He did for them and with them.

This is a living faith and is relational, not religious and informational. We made many sacrifices together as a family to do what we felt God was directing us to pursue. We talked it out and made these decisions as a unit. Our children were on board with us. It has always been, and still is, important to us that they pursue God’s plan for their lives. We have several successful companies, but so far all five of our children love to minister throughout the church. They could be just as effective as a marketplace minister in the business arena, but they really love God’s church and helping His people.

Cooke: You’ve poured all these years of ministry into a new national TV program called Drenda. Some say the era of Christians on television is over. Why do you feel TV is the right platform for your message to women?

Keesee: I think we live in a media-driven culture and with so many women’s programs heralding a message of selfish pursuits in the name of freedom, and I just want to counter that message. The greatest joys I have in life are the ones that involve God, our marriage and family, but I don’t see these being valued in most women’s programs.

I am concerned that people are building their lives on sand and that one day they will wake up, just like we did when we found ourselves in serious debt. They will find themselves in tremendous regret that everything they chose and built means little to nothing. Haggai also says, “I blew on your efforts.” Just like sand, what we build our lives on will blow away if it doesn’t have eternal significance. I want women to recognize that it is a high calling to be moms and wives, and these are very fulfilling roles, with lasting joy that supersedes a moment of pleasure today. Invest in something eternal, and it lasts.

Invest in pleasure and it is fleeting, just like money! [Laughs.] Many women are trading their children in for happy hour and end up drinking a cup of sorrow later as their selfishness brings loneliness. But my so-called sacrifices to take care of my family have brought great joy. I want women to make good choices so they can enjoy real life.

Cooke: The show has been on television for a number of seasons, and I know you’re back at the drawing board revamping the program. You’ve never been afraid to change your methods to keep up with a shifting culture. Why is change so important?

Keesee: Change is important because we lose relevance with people’s lives if they can’t hear our message. The message doesn’t change because its based on eternal truths, but the package has to. We need to be on the forefront of change instead of following the world around like a puppy dog with a paper in its mouth. I want to be the one who helps make the change instead of following the crowd at the end of the pack.

Cooke: What’s your most important message to women today?

Keesee: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” I say this eating locust (croissants) and wearing camel hair (in Paris). Just kidding. But seriously …

I want to help people live more of what matters for their life and family. The price or choices to live a life with God based on His ways is worth it. I can’t completely call it a “price,” since the rewards have been far greater than the price we paid. In the beginning, you don’t see the outcome of your choices—that’s why it takes faith—but it’s later that the results show.

At that point, it may be too late to make some of the right choices with your husband and children that will impact the relationship. Hopefully not, but sometimes it’s too late. We allow women talk-show hosts who aren’t married and have no children to tell us how to live our lives and then expect not to be lonely and unhappy. Sure, we have many choices as women to live our lives, but there is no meaning to life if I live it just for me.

I want to live it with a few people that truly love me and share it with a lot of people who truly need to hear what I have to say. Character is who you are; reputation is who people think you are. I want to have character. Women are forsaking character because they want reputation, but God’s wisdom creates a successful life based on character. What’s popular is not always lasting, and what is lasting is not always popular.

Cooke: You and Gary have built a great church, have written best-selling books and have launched two national TV programs. [Gary has his own program, Fixing the Money Thing.] What’s next for Gary and Drenda Keesee?

Keesee: Gary wants to produce a movie trilogy equivalent to Star Wars …

I don’t know all that God has in store for us, but I know that whatever we do, we will be confronting cultural lies and sharing truth about more of what really matters in life. However we need to do that, we will! But ultimately, I want to leave a legacy in our children and the next generation that they can navigate throughout the changes they will see in their lives and in the culture and do it with a strong awareness of God’s destiny for their lives.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Kathleen Cooke is co-founder of Cooke Pictures in Burbank, Calif., and The Influence Lab, which is focused on empowering the church to engage culture through media. Find out more atkathleencooke.com.

Singles: What Kind of Husband Are You Praying For?.


couple
(http://www.stockfreeimages.com)
One time, I made a list of the qualifications I wanted in a husband.
Cute. Tall. Funny. Smart. Christian.
But I think most girls want that. What was to set the guy I wanted apart from every other guy who was cute, funny, tall, smart and a Christian? I had to really think about it.
Over the years, my list grew more detailed. I don’t remember ever writing down all my qualifications, because some of them sounded so shallow. Turns out, most of us have a list we don’t share with anyone for fear of sounding vain. But that is what separates us—what shows our individual preferences.
It’s OK to have a shallow list!
Do you want to know my ultimate shallow qualification? I wanted a man who was “cool” in the eyes of the world but chose to be a Christian. I wanted a guy who could hang out with anybody, whom everyone liked and respected—a guy who was popular and didn’t use the church as a crutch or need it in order to have a place to belong.
I wanted to find a guy who chose God because he needed Him.
Because he wanted Him.
Not because God was the only one left to accept him.
God delivered. Justin partied with the best of them (not an endorsement) but gave up that way of life for something better. Something eternal.
All right girlies, let’s make a list! Break out your notepad and pen. We’re gonna make a shallow list!
To be fair—and to get it out of our system—go ahead and write down the obvious ones:
  • Christian. Hopefully that’s your first non-negotiable since the Bible says not to be unequally yoked (2 Cor. 6:14).
  • Tall. Maybe you don’t care about his height. In that case, don’t write it down.
  • Smart. Yes, he needs to be able to have an intelligent conversation!
  • Funny. This one backfired on me, since my sister is literally the funniest person I know. I can’t breathe most of the time when she makes me laugh.
OK. Got those typical answers out of the way. So, what’s next? Does he need to have a job? A goodjob? Do you care how much money he makes?
Does he have to like children? What hair color are you hoping for? Does he need to be sports buff, or would you prefer someone who hates sports as much as you do?
What kind of family do you want him to come from? Does he need to share your favorite interests? Can he be a vegetarian? (I know the vegetarians are screaming, “Yes!”)
Can he have any type of disability, be it physical or mental?

Feeling shallow yet?
I don’t think we should squash our dreams of our perfect guy, so go ahead and write out every shallow little thing you can think of. Sometimes we try to be so holy and righteous that we squash the natural feelings and inclinations we have.
I heard a long time ago that since God knows exactly what you’re thinking and feeling, you might as well tell Him. So I do. If I have a shallow thought, I share it with Him, and sometimes I have to ask Him to change the way I feel since it’s not what He wants from me.
I know I’m not the only girl to have a shallow list, and as my youth group girls and I were going through the chapter in my book that covers this, they shared their shallow lists as well. At first, they didn’t go very deep—because, after all, who wants to be seen as shallow?
But after a while, some really good answers poured out. And what I saw was not a group of shallow teenagers but maturing young women who wanted to be intentional with the men they would eventually date.
The higher the standard—or rather, the more particular the qualifications list—the less likely these girls will be to settle for someone below par. And I want my girls to marry the best. I know God has amazing men for them to meet one day.
And while we’re talking about qualifying the guy, we have to also look at ourselves. If we want to marry a man who is 5 percent body fat and works out every day, then we might not want to be stuffing our faces with pizza every night. If we want to marry a godly man, then we need to be in God’s Word so that we have a strong relationship with Jesus as well.
What I found was that as I grew older, and thankfully a little wiser, my list started to change. What I thought was important in middle school differed a bit in high school and transformed some more when I was in college.
As the expectations I had for myself were nurtured and developed, my qualifications for a husband changed too.
I no longer had to marry a guy who worked a 9-to-5 job in a business suit and made a ton of money. Instead, I married a Marine who chose to go into the ministry.
Instead of marrying a man who loved dogs, I married a man who is allergic to everything. Bless his heart.
I married my opposite in many ways, and as my shallow list grew smaller and smaller, God blessed me in bigger ways—although He did grant me a few of my shallow wishes!
Just remember, the fundamentals are the most important.
I married a man who loves God more than he loves me. A man who studies and reads about God in his free time. Because he wants to. Because he can’t get enough of Him.
Justin takes our little boys outside with him when he’s fixing a tire or changing the oil or building a set of custom bunk beds. While most people would see having little fingers grabbing tools as an annoyance, Justin sees working with his children as a bonding opportunity and a teaching moment.
I wouldn’t trade that for all the dogs in the world.
Bethany Jett is an author and speaker from Tampa, Fla. Her dating book for young women,TheCinderella Rule, is available online and in bookstores everywhere. Find her at bethanyjett.com.

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