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Posts tagged ‘Women’

Respond to Your Call to Influence.


 

group of women
(http://www.stockfreeimages.com)

The church has not always recognized the spiritual gifts of women. But God has fashioned them to be key players in His kingdom.

Let’s imagine for a moment what the world would be like without women. All the wonderful traits women are capable of providing with exuberance—gentleness, nurture, care, refined beauty—would be missing.

Men possess these same qualities but in smaller supply; women, on the other hand, overflow with them. Without women the world would look like an army base where everything’s painted white or gray and designed for efficiency at the expense of beauty. An awful sense of incompleteness would permeate the planet.

Women have many qualities unique to their gender, one of the grandest being the ability to host life. This privilege to shelter another life at such an intimate level has been granted exclusively to Eve and her daughters.

Women can nurture their newborns through the most intimate interaction between a female adult and a child: breastfeeding. The image of a baby being nursed by a loving mother is a picture of total dependency, perfect care and the most sublime transfer of nurture from one being to another.

Women are also the ones who predominantly shape the character of their children during their crucial early years. They plant tender gestures in the inner layer of a child’s malleable soul and watch as, like the seeds in a flowerbed, the spiritual seeds sprout, spreading beauty over the adult landscape in the form of noble deeds.

When were the seeds planted? During the nurturing years when a child spends most of his time with a woman: his mother!

Jesus’ First Teacher
It was a woman, young Mary, who first heard beating within her the heart of God Incarnate when she was pregnant with Jesus. It was her hands that first touched Jesus’ body and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes.

Think for a moment what this reflects: God Almighty, Creator and Preserver of the universe, took the form of a baby and became dependent on the care of one of His creatures. When God experienced human flesh, with all its limitations, who was there to meet His needs? A woman.

Jesus’ mother, Mary, was His first teacher and also later His first disciple. No other human knew Jesus as intimately as Mary did.

Ponder for a moment the scene at Calvary. While most of Jesus’ frightened disciples hid at a distance, Mary and a group of faithful women gathered at the foot of the cross. Despite the pain and suffering Jesus endured, His last earthly concern was for a woman—His mother.

He could not forget that she had taken care of Him when His earthly life began. And now, as His life was about to end, Jesus lovingly turned her over to the care of His beloved disciple (see John 19:26-27).

Women’s Hall of Fame
Throughout the Bible are inspiring testimonies of other brave and brilliant women who were not mere privates in God’s army but key players who were given pivotal assignments at strategic points and in crucial times.

Moses’ mother challenged the pharaoh’s genocidal decree when she preserved the life of the one who would eventually lead millions of Hebrews to freedom (see Ex. 2).

Rahab held the keys to the taking of Jericho. By turning them in the right direction she assured the fall of the fortress city (see Josh. 2).

Hannah cried out to God for Samuel to be born, and he went on to become the greatest prophet and judge Israel ever knew (see 1 Sam. 1).

Deborah was an illustrious judge and a proven prophetess who delivered Israel from the mighty chariots of Jabin, the oppressing king of Canaan. Another woman, Jael, helped to bring total destruction to Jabin and his leading general, Sisera (see Judges 4-5).

Esther courageously risked her life to save her nation, God’s people, when they were in danger of being exterminated.

Sarah was called “mother of nations” by God Himself (see Gen. 17:16) and is listed among the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11.

Priscilla and her husband, Aquila, instructed and guided Apollos, who had been preaching less-than-perfect theology (see Acts 18: 24-26). The fact that in most tranlations, Priscilla is listed first in this passage signifies the prominence of her role.

On the shoulders of these women—and countless more down through the ages—rested the fate of cities, tribes and nations.

Pillars of the Early Church
One of the main reasons Christianity spread so rapidly in the early years is because its message restored honor and self-worth to half the world’s population: women. Romans had such a low view of women that some men engaged in sex with other men. Jewish rabbis completely silenced women inside the synagogue, and pagans used them as temple prostitutes.

However, early church leaders dignified women by teaching that in Christ “there is neither male nor female” and we “are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28, NKJV). Women were also given positions of honor and leadership.

Priscilla, for instance, was part of the team that founded the church in Ephesus—site of the greatest power encounter recorded in the book of Acts. She was there, inside the crux of God’s power, when God dethroned Artemis and brought down the demonic socioeconomic structure that had controlled Ephesus.

Throughout the epistles women are unapologetically exalted as pillars of the faith. Paul identified two women as the headwaters of Timothy’s faith: his mother and his grandmother (see 2 Tim. 1:5). In Romans, a letter intended for wide circulation and public reading, Paul praised several women as people of faith and proven ministry (see Rom. 16:1-15).

The first European convert was a woman, Lydia, and hers was the first household to be baptized (see Acts 16:14-15). She was very assertive in her interaction with the apostles: “She begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ So she persuaded us” (v. 15).

Three centuries later, the driving force behind Constantine’s conversion and the subsequent Christianization of the Roman Empire was another woman, Helena, the emperor’s mother.

Extraordinary Sensitivity
Women have an extraordinary sensitivity to spiritual things. I am not saying that they are more godly than men, but I believe they are definitely more spiritual. This is why Jesus was able to reveal two of the most powerful truths in the gospels to women.

He told Martha that He is the resurrection and the life (see John 11:25-27). To the Samaritan woman Jesus explained that He is the living water (see John 4:7-15). These women were in a state of confusion when Jesus found them, but both were able to hear, understand and believe these profound truths.

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10 More Things Wives Want to Hear From Their Husbands.


Are you saying the right things to your wife?
Are you saying the right things to your wife? (Stock Free Images)

A while back, I wrote “10 Things Wives Want to Hear from their Husbands.” I was surprised at the incredible reaction to the post as thousands shared, tweeted, pinned, posted and “liked” it.

So I thought I’d go to the well again and share these 10 more things wives want to hear from their husbands.

1. “I’m your biggest fan.” Everyone wants someone to celebrate their wins and encourage them in their struggles. Be sure your wife knows that you will always be there to cheer her on.

2. “I’m thankful for the little things you do.” If your wife makes you coffee every morning, appreciate this small act of kindness with thankfulness. Don’t fail to notice the small ways she shows her love to you each day.

3. “Let’s take a walk together.” Show your wife that she’s important by prioritizing your day to set aside time to be with her.

4. “I miss you when we’re apart.” Remind your wife that she is constantly on your mind whether you are at work, in the car or anywhere else. Never take her presence for granted.

5. “I’m here for you.” You won’t always understand everything that your wife is going through. But youcan listen and sympathize with her by letting her cry on your shoulder when life gets tough.

6. “You’ll always have me by your side.” No matter what life throws at you— parenting challenges, hard financial decisions or family tragedies—let your wife know that you’re walking with her and will carry her if you need to.

7. “I want to be the man you deserve.” Realize that there will be times when you fail your wife. When you do, apologize, learn from those mistakes, and let her know that you want to be a better husband.

8. “You love others so well.” Be sure she knows that you see the way she interacts with her friends and family. Then be a voice of encouragement to her in these relationships.

9. “I love you more every day.” Never let your wife forget that she is lovely, beautiful and breathtaking. Show her that you will continue to romance her for the rest of your life.

10. “How can I serve you today?” Your wife needs to know that you want to support and serve her in everything she does. Just asking this question will convey to her how much you care.

What are some other things wives want to hear from their husbands? Please share with me below.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ NEW MAN.

Mark Merrill is the president of Family FirstFor the original article, visit markmerill.com.

10 More Things Husbands Want to Hear From Their Wives.


Man and wife
What words do you want to hear from your wife? (Stock Free Images)

As I’ve shared in several blog posts, the tongue is powerful and words can hurt or heal, tear down or build up.  People crave words that help, heal, affirm, build up, and breathe life.

Because so many shared, tweeted, pinned, posted, and liked a previous post, 10 Things Husbands Want to Hear from their Wives, I thought I’d share a few more. Here they are:

  1. “I’m always on your team.”  When you and your spouse face a difficult choice, be sure your husband knows that you are his teammate, not his enemy.
  2. “I wouldn’t want to be on this journey with anyone else.” Life is a journey. Along the way, you’ll witness things that are breath-taking, but you’ll also experience things that are hurtful and sad. Let your husband know that you’re with him no matter what.
  3. “I don’t’ say it enough, but you are a good man and a good husband.”  Don’t be slow to tell your husband that you admire him for the man he is.
  4. “I don’t understand, but I know you’ll make the right decision.”  Life is full of tough decisions.  So when you aren’t sure how to handle something, tell your husband you trust him to make the right choice for your family.
  5. “I hope our daughter marries a man just like you.”  Let your husband know that you admire his character. Tell him how you desire for your daughter to find a man with similar integrity.
  6. “I really appreciate you planning our date.”  It’s not always a man’s natural tendency to be creative and romantic.  So when your husband plans something special, appreciate him and his effort to be a gentleman.
  7. “I’m thankful that you always have my best interests at heart.” Recognize how you know your husband wants the best for you.
  8. “You make life more fun.” Be sure to point out the moments when your husband makes you laugh.
  9. “I can depend on you to take care of our family.”  Let your husband know that you appreciate being able to depend on him to take care of you and your children.
  10. “You are really courageous.”  Your husband faces fears every day—fear of rejection, fear of loss, fear of failure. Be sure to praise him for standing up to these fears with immense courage.

What are some other things husbands want to hear from their wives? Please share in the comments below.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ NEW MAN.

Mark Merrill is the president of Family FirstFor the original article, visit markmerrill.com.

A Three-Point Plan for Effective Discipling.


Melissa Kruger, Author, Women’s Ministry Director

A Three-Point Plan for Effective DisciplingYears ago, my friend Elizabeth came to me with a question.  A young lady in her church asked if she would be her mentor.   The young lady picked an excellent choice, because Elizabeth is a wise, spiritually mature, Godly woman.  However, as Elizabeth was discussing this request, she turned to me with a bit of apprehension and asked, “What exactly does she want me to do with her?”Elizabeth faced the same perplexing question any mentor faces.  Many believers have never experienced the blessing of a spiritual mentor in their own life.   Without an example to follow, it can be intimidating to agree to mentor a younger believer. Elizabeth wanted to be a positive influence and provide spiritual encouragement in this young lady’s life.  However, she didn’t have a vision for what to do in their time together.

I have enjoyed the blessing of mentoring many ladies, and for each, the specifics of our time together varied based on individual or group dynamics.  While a single article can’t provide an exhaustive manual on how to mentor, I do hope to provide a basic direction for those who want to invest in the lives of others, but don’t know where to begin.

Generally, well-balanced discipleship consists of encouraging three relational facets of a younger believer’s walk with God:  the person’s relationship with God, the church, and the world. Each month it is helpful to try to steer the conversation towards a different area, so that you are faithful to encourage and build up the entire believer.  If you only talk about a person’s relationship with God, you may meet for months before you realize he is struggling in his marriage.  If you only talk about parenting, you may miss out on the opportunity to discuss her potential for evangelism with her new neighbor. These three categories will naturally overlap, but it is helpful to concentrate on a different emphasis each time you meet.

Relationship with God

One of the most important areas to discuss with the person you are mentoring is his or her relationship with God.  Rather than just asking behavioral questions (e.g. “Are you reading your Bible every day?”), I find it more insightful to ask questions that probe the younger believer’s affections, (e.g. “Over the past month, what is one passage of the Bible that God has used in your life?  Why was it so impactful for you?”).  For prayer, you could spend your time together looking at different prayers in the Bible and ask the younger believer how she would like to grow in her prayer life.  During these times, feel free to share how God is impacting and growing your own faith.  Observing and reflecting upon your relationship with God in the midst of struggles and victories will help a younger believer develop a vision for a more mature walk with God.

Relationship with God’s People

Encouraging a younger believer’s relationship with God’s people encompasses a number of different areas.  Obviously, topics regarding church attendance, service, fellowship opportunities and spiritual gifts would be items to discuss with the person you are mentoring.  It is also the category for which to include topics like marriage, parenting or the person’s relationship with his or her parents.  Asking open-ended questions such as, “Is there anyone in your life you struggle to forgive? Why?” can lead you to understand and get to know the person you are mentoring in a deeper way.

Relationship with the World

Understanding how the person you are mentoring relates to the world is also an important category to discuss on a regular basis.  One person may spend her time so consumed with worldliness (working excessive hours for monetary gain, shopping, watching TV, enjoying recreations) that it affects both her relationship with God and her relationship with the church.  Another person may avoid the world altogether and miss opportunities to share his faith.  Helping a younger believer develop a heart for missions, service to the poor and evangelism affords them the opportunity to learn how to be in the world, but not to become like the world.

While every mentoring relationship will be different, these three areas are important to reflect upon in different meetings with those you mentor.  In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul instructs, “Be very careful, then how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16).  Our goal is to live wisely and encourage others on the journey of faith to do the same.  As one part is strengthened and encouraged, the entire body benefits.   I encourage you: don’t wait!   Start today, building the church by building up God’s people.  You will be blessed as you enjoy the pleasure of being a blessing.
Melissa Kruger serves as Women’s Ministry Coordinator at Uptown Church in Charlotte, North Carolina and is the author of The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World (Christian Focus, 2012). Her husband Mike is the president of Reformed Theological Seminary, and they have three children. You can follow her on Twitter @MelissaBKruger.

When Change Is Constant.


(http://www.stockfreeimages.com)

Change is not simply a season in our spiritual journeys; it is a process we undergo for the whole of life.

As her labor pains intensified, I watched in amazement as my typically sweet-natured, mild-mannered wife took on the appearance of Sigourney Weaver in Alien. In one startling moment her peaceful appearance was replaced by a taut jaw, steely eyes and the bark of a drill sergeant preparing young soldiers for the battle of their lives. The thin line of sweat that had formed on her brow began to pulsate in rhythm with her temples.

I wanted to run for my life, to get as far away from this frightening creature as I could. But the next moment she was back to normal—normal, that is, for a pregnant woman about to give birth.

For a moment I wondered at the amazing transformation I had just witnessed. Was she possessed? Should I call the church intercessors? Was this the time to order the anointing oil I had seen advertised in Charisma?

Then I remembered the warning of the wise old doctor who had done everything within his ability to prepare my wife for this moment: “Transition is unlike anything you have ever felt before.” Suddenly, it all became clear to me. This was it—the dreaded stage called “transition.”

The lessons I learned on that stormy night 15 years ago have enabled me to keep my sanity during many other transitional experiences in my life, both natural and spiritual. Here’s what I’ve discovered.

Transition Is Unavoidable

The inescapable reality of life in the 21st century is “Change, or you will be changed.” If there is anything we’ve learned from the last few years of experience in doing life, it’s that the near future holds anything but the expected. We live in the midst of changing times.

Gone are the days of predictability and routine. Those frameworks that have held firm for generations, providing the basic structure of life, have begun to falter. The concepts that have governed business, science, government and philosophy no longer seem to apply. The traditional formulas for interpersonal relationships cannot guarantee the same results they once did.

And no one has felt the pain of transition any more than women.

As women have begun to take a more visible role in shaping our world, they have experienced the direct effects of transitional living. Fifty years ago, it was unheard of to have women as heads of state, industry and education, yet now they lead us capably and successfully. This social transformation has left women managing the pain of personal transition while also dealing with the pressure of learning new skills.

For years I lived with the idea that we were simply in a season of change, only to wake up one day and realize that this season was unending. Transition is not simply a period of time in our lives; it is the whole of life. In fact, transition is the lifestyle of Spirit-led men and women.

It is vital for us to embrace this truth because if we perceive transition to be only a “momentary affliction,” then we will be incredibly disappointed when we move from one period of transition headlong into the next. My wife, being the insightful woman that she is, quickly discovered that the transition of labor leads to the transition of motherhood, which leads to more transition in every area of life.

What’s true of life in general is also true of our relationships with the Lord. As one well acquainted with transition, Paul said that in following Christ we are “transformed … from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18). The end result of spiritual transition
is total and complete glorification; anything less than that will keep us on the road to change.

Like ancient Israel, God created us to be a spiritually nomadic people who travel light along life’s journey as we pursue the pillar of fire, the cloud of glory and the ark of His presence. We were created for the journey, not just the destination.

Transition Will Redefine You

For this reason, transition can be frightening, especially for those who have defined themselves by what they do rather than by who they are. I have counseled a number of women who fall into this category:

  • Working women who quit their jobs to raise children—”I don’t even know who I am anymore without my career.”
  • Married women who have just gone through a divorce—”If I’m not his wife, who am I?”
  • Mothers whose children are now grown—”With our last child out of the nest, I don’t know what to do with myself.”

I recently experienced a similar identity crisis. After pastoring for 15 years, I went through a six-month period during which I wrote, conducted seminars and spoke in conferences but didn’t actively pastor. One day during this period, Tyler, my youngest son, came home from third grade with a question.

“Dad, what are you now?” he asked. I groped for an answer, rambling on about what I was doing. His eyes glazed over.

Tyler was looking for a noun—pastor, lawyer, doctor, teacher—and all I could give him was a string of action words telling him what I was doing. For a few months I struggled with the way transition was redefining me.

But I finally realized that there was no point in trying to get comfortable because as soon as I did, change would appear on the horizon. Just about the time my wife became comfortable in her role as the mother of an infant, the baby began to walk, and our whole world changed. When we moved the breakables to higher shelves and covered the electrical outlets, we realized our world would never be the same.

Although we were eventually able to return the delicate figurines to their original places, we had to make other adjustments in our home and lives as we went from being the parents of a toddler to being the parents of a grade-schooler to being the parents of a teen-ager. Through the process I learned that the only way to avoid transition is to stop growing.

Transition Takes Time to Assimilate

Science teaches us that light travels through space at a constant speed of 186,281 miles per second. The governing laws of the universe dictate this speed with absolutely no deviation.

Yet humans travel through life without the benefit of a fixed velocity. We move at a variable rate that fluctuates according to our capacity for assimilating new information and influences. How well we absorb the implications of change dramatically affects the rate at which we successfully manage the challenges we face—both individually and collectively.

Each of us was designed by God to move through life most effectively and efficiently at a unique pace that will allow us to absorb and respond to the major changes we face. When we assimilate less change than our optimum speed allows, we fail to live up to our potential. When we attempt to assimilate more than our optimum speed permits, we become overloaded and stressed out.

Many of the women to whom I minister have recently found themselves in an unprecedented state of disequilibrium. They’re not quite sure where the world is going and where they fit in the journey; consequently, they feel “out of balance” emotionally, spiritually and physically. As a result of this upheaval, they often find it difficult to maintain a healthy balance between work, rest, worship and play.

The result is that they are allowing change to manage them rather than managing it. This can cause them to become bitter instead of better.

Futurist and author Alvin Toffler was the first to popularize a term that describes the potentially debilitating effects of transitional living when he coined the term “future shock” in 1965. In a book by the same title, he accurately predicted the devastation that could result if we are unable to properly absorb major changes in society.

“Future shock” occurs when people are asked to tolerate more disruption than they have the capacity to endure, and it results in high levels of stress and low levels of effectiveness. A few years ago, I learned that a number of pilots were in open revolt against more technology. These pilots were saying, “Please don’t increase the technology in my cockpit. If I can’t manage everything in here, you’re going to kill me.”

It seems the pilots were not complaining about inferior technology. In fact, what they were given was very often equipment they had asked for and even helped to design. But they were worried about making a rapid transition to new instruments without proper time for assimilation.

We all need time to assimilate the changes that are necessary for our survival. Learning the principles that will allow us to manage change and increase our spiritual resilience is not just a luxury but a necessity.

Find Something to Focus on During Transition

I believe that the greatest challenge we face in life is the challenge to forget the past, consider the present as transitional and focus on the future. When we camp in one spiritual or emotional location for too long, spiritual rigor mortis sets in. To remain where we are is to remain as we are.

Several years ago, I found myself standing in front of a kiosk in the shopping mall, desperately trying to focus on a three-dimensional mosaic picture. I had walked by the booth a hundred times smirking at the silly people wasting their time trying to discern the unseen. After one of my caustic comments, my wife threw down the gauntlet: “All right, wise guy, if it’s so easy, let’s see you do it!”

I marched confidently over to the booth, picked up the picture and entered a world of total confusion. No matter how hard I tried, I could not see anything but a thousand unrelated pixels.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ SPIRITLED WOMAN.

The Downward Spiral to Drive-In Prostitution: Is America Next?.


drive-thru
Could sex drive-thrus be coming to America next?

Drive-ins aren’t just for fast food and movies anymore—if you’re in Europe, that is.

With Switzerland’s announcement that it spent a whopping $2 million on a plan to provide “drive-in prostitution,” complete with “sex boxes,” it makes you wonder how their priorities and social norms became so distorted. Certainly the easy availability of pornography is a contributing factor.

Hardcore pornography is commonplace in European countries, available on TV networks and at magazine stands in public areas. “Enlightened Europeans” claim the widespread acceptance of this sexually exploitive material is without effect in society. Or is it?

Studies indicate there is a high correlation between the consumption of porn and the use of prostituted women and sexually trafficked women and children. Research on the topic can be found at pornharmsresearch.com.

Switzerland, along with other countries like the Netherlands and Germany, legalized prostitution years ago and is now taking further steps to promote prostitution. In Switzerland, they are providing “sex boxes,” similar to rest stops at national parks in the U.S. This is all for the convenience of the “johns,” who are in a hurry and who just drive up for quick sex. They say this is for the health and safety of those prostituted, but this is not a sign of a healthy society. It will eventually lead where all efforts to promote prostitution lead—to more health problems, more trafficked victims and further degradation of society.

In the United States, we have laws that ban hard-core pornography and prostitution. We have seen how trafficking, violence against women, the sexualization of children and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases have increased because we ignore these laws. Unless we take strong steps to stop this downward spiral and curb the spread of pornography and prostitution, can sex boxes be far behind in America? We think not and continue to demand that existing laws prohibiting the distribution of hard-core pornography, sex trafficking and prostitution be vigorously enforced.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Dawn Hawkins is executive director of Morality in Media.

Human Sex-Trafficking Filmmaker Turns to Kickstarter in $100K Fundraiser.


Salvation Army

The connection between pornography and the growing business of human sex trafficking is undeniable, yet many may not be aware of it. Film producer Guy Noland is making a concerted effort to raise the public awareness.

Noland, of the Salvation Army Vision Network, is producing a feature-length documentary titled Hard Corps in an attempt to expose the façade that pornography is a “harmless pastime for consenting adults.” His goal is to uncover the truth about how pornography truly leads to addiction, infidelity, prostitution and, eventually, sex trafficking.

Raising awareness is key,” Noland says. “Many casual users of pornography are able to claim ignorance, and we want to shatter that bubble. If they choose to continue on, they can’t claim ignorance anymore.

“More importantly, we want to inspire people to get involved and make a difference within their own communities. Modern day slavery is happening, and it’s not a third-world problem. It’s happening in your communities, right next door. We believe it’s time to do something.”

The Salvation Army firmly believes the abuse and exploitation of human beings through any form of human trafficking is an offense against humankind and against God. Combined with its mission to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, the organization is working vigilantly for the prevention of human trafficking and for the restoration of its survivors.

A campaign to raise funding for the film has been posted online at www.kickstarter.savn.tv. A goal of $100,000 has been set to bring the film to completion and to provide for promotion and advertising.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

SUZANNE NILES

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