I’ve been thinking lately about those summer evenings in my childhood at Nannie’s house. It was a white frame two bedroom under towering pecan trees. It was a day spent playing outside with crisp white sheets and blue collar uniforms smelling fresh as they dried in the sun and swished on the line. My daytime job was to sit in the shade, on top of a folded homemade quilt draped over the crank case of the old Ice cream maker ,while Papa slowly turned the handle. I sat with the smell of cream and vanilla and fresh peaches dancing in my head.
It would finally thicken up “til he couldn’t turn it any more and he would take out his “Red Man” chewing tobacco and his pocket knife and whittle on a stick while we played. Nannie would send me to the storm cellar to bring up home canned green beans and fresh corn from the garden to shuck. And if we got too rowdy, they would sit us down in the grass and tell us to search the clover for that illusive four leaved ticket to good luck and riches. (They also told me that if I could put salt on a bird’s tail, it would let me hold it. I wasted hours with the salt shaker trying to get close to those birds).
I didn’t know then what these two had accomplished to be in this quaint little house at the end of the street. With only a 6th grade education, survivors of the dust bowl, they had picked cotton and worked from dawn to dusk their whole lives. After they moved to town, they had purchased this place. My Papa got a job at the gas company as a meter reader. Nannie cooked lunch at the high school cafeteria.
And boy could she cook! I can still taste the fried chicken, and yeast rolls, Green beans with a slick of bacon grease on top, corn on the cob and mashed potatoes, the juiciest sliced tomatoes ripe in the sun simply served with salt and pepper. My job in the evening was always the same too. “Lori Lynn, wash your hands and get the ice in the glasses.” I remember, no matter how hard I tried to get them dry, my fingers would always stick to cold metal ice trays. You remember the kind. Silver aluminum trays with a divided insert and lever on top to had to lift up to crack it? Do you remember how hard it was to get the trays from the sink back to the icebox without spilling the water?
The women would be in the kitchen tending to the meal, cooling the chess pie and slicing the cold “Black Diamond” watermelon. The men preferred the front room, mostly I guessed because it had a window unit air conditioner. Nannie hated it and rarely ran it because she thought it was too noisy. As a kid, I never took notice of the heat. But I do still have the scars on my knees from being shredded by falling on the old grate of the floor furnace in the hall. That hall contained the door to the only bathroom and a nook where the old black rotary-dial phone hung on the wall.
Papa only had one suit and he wore it every sunday to church where he faithfully stood at the double doors to welcome the congregation and hand them a bulletin with their handshake. He also mowed the lawn of the church every Saturday to keep the Lord’s house looking dapper. Nannie had a couple of dresses and a church purse where she kept her cotton gloves, a handkerchief and a lipstick. She wore cat-eye glasses. She always had a brooch pinned on and always wore a scarf tied under her chin to keep the Oklahoma wind from ruffling her hair, fresh from the beauty shop. She always smelled like soap and Auqua-net hairspray. They had one car and Nannie never learned to drive. They always voted democrat because “He cares about folks like us”.
It’s funny how memories like these of a simple summer evening spent with plenty of food and lots of love can spring up in my mind, even today. It seems so far removed from computers and cell phones, drive-thru hamburgers, terrorism and Ebola. It all seems in direct contrast to the image of this American couple pouring percolator black coffee into their saucer so they could blow on it and sip it up. Anyone still crumble corn bread into their ice cold buttermilk? Would anyone today miss the ten dollar check Nanny mailed in to Billy Graham?
We are in this modern world now, there’s no going back. But I think it would do us all some good to bow our heads, remove our hats in respect and thank God for this, the greatest generation. Nannie never had a microwave or a dishwasher. But she did have an impact on me. She did have a legacy. Someday my grandkids will be remembering my kitchen and my house…and my smell. And I want them to remember me as grateful, content, wise, graceful, strong, and full of love.
We can’t slow down time, but we can slow down. We can savor the simple pleasures of life and family. The next time I remember Papa “pinching the sugar” off my neck, I’m gonna whisper a prayer for our country and the liberties, advantages and faith it was founded on. And I’m gonna Thank God for where I came from, and ask Him to be patient with our generation. We can still get this right.
Over the last quarter century of ministry together, Bruce and I have had the privilege of seeing many young preacher boys mature and become prepared for a life of service. We have also taken great joy in watching their lives unfold for God’s glory. An added joy has also been to watch God send them a beautiful, ready and able wife to join them in their calling. We’ve even had the precious joy of seeing God provide the perfect wife for our son, a pastor in Apex, NC.
If I could sit down and chat with any young lady who was being pursued by a pastor or pastor-to-be here is the advice I would give her:
1. If you marry this man, you are headed for the most fulfilling and FUN life imaginable-
You will be honored to join the front lines of kingdom work. You will be among the few and the proud who line up behind the purposes of God and join Him in His work in your community and in your church. There is nothing like the thrill of knowing He is moving through you. You will get to meet and come to love others who share this divine privilege and it will be a fast, exciting, and adventurous life.
2. Being on the front lines of a battle is dangerous-
Ministry life is not for cowards. You will be scrutinized, gossiped about, second guessed, criticized, and under-appreciated. You will never be rich. You will be called upon to sacrifice, love the unlovable, endure exhaustion, and fight spiritual warfare greater than you have ever know. You most likely will not be able to live close to your family or choose where you are sent. You will need to be incredibly tough, but gentle as a lamb. You will need to be low maintenance. Your heart will break a thousand times over as you bear these burdens but even more as you carry the endless burdens of pain in the lives of your people, privately in prayer.
3. You will need to get comfortable with leading-
You will never hold an office or official title, but you will be looked at to set the pace. You will be constantly observed and so will your children. You will need to learn to feed yourself spiritually and continue to grow, all while feeding and nurturing and carrying others. You will be called upon to wear many hats and be proficient even when you know you are in over your head, even when you are tired, or hurt or scared.
4. You will need to be a committed forgiver-
With all this pressure and possibility for pain, you must be able to forgive. Otherwise, you will come to resent the very sheep your husband was called to tend. You will have to be silent. You will have to be stable. You will have to be gracious to the ungracious.
5. You will be lonely sometimes-
You will have very few sisters you can be transparent with. You will have to keep many confidences. You will have to be careful who you trust. Your husband will be gone a lot. You will need to learn to do things by your self, especially on Sunday morning. You will not be able to be as close as you want with the other pastors’ wives whose husbands your husband manages.
6. You will be called to live a selfless life-
If you are called to be the wife of a pastor, you are called to be his helper. His unofficial co-worker. His confidant. His nest-maker. His partner in ministry. You will need to make his success your first priority, not your own. This will mean you need to run the home, be primary daily caregiver for the children, and a visible credible representative of what a christian wife should look like.
7. You will not be wise to compete with the church for his attention-
If you do this, you will make him miserable. Trust him to do right by you. Ministry can be all-consuming to your husband. He will be on call 24/7. He will not be able to turn his brain off easily when he gets home. Sunday is ALWAYS coming, ready or not, day off or not, teething baby or not. He needs your eyes and your arms to be his benediction each night. Nagging or pouting will hurt your cause. We love to use Paul’s words in Ephesians 5 to brow beat our husbands about not loving us the way Christ loved the church (sacrificially). But we often forget that Paul also said, “What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not…” 1 Cor. 7:29 What he is saying is that the work of the gospel is so urgent and so costly to those who are perishing, that the wives of those in ministry will need to take up some slack, and cut some slack too. After all, you are partners. Your role is to make it work in the seasons that require your husband to red-line it in ministry. He loves you. He loves your kids. He will be given supernatural power to love you the way you need, even when pulled in a million directions, but your lifestyle will probably not be like Mayberry or the Brady Bunch. He has enough burdens. Don’t add guilt to the pile. He may be late to the soccer game, but he will be there. He may have to take a call during dinner, but he will be there. He might miss dinner all together, but he will end his day tucking the kids in after a romp session and spend his night holding you. If you resent his commitment, you cease to be his partner and become his opposition. His brothers will remind him to be there for you, they will hold him accountable not to neglect you. As he grows, he will realize Jesus will care for His Bride, and he needs to take care of his.
8. He needs you-
If your yes in on the table and you are willing to deny yourself daily and take up your cross in this way, know that you are a mighty force for the gospel. You will be a fountain of provision for his needs. You will be his most trusted ally and confidant. You will be the prayer warrior he depends on most. You will be cherished by the people you serve because they will know you have sacrificed much for their well-being. And most importantly your life will be a showcase for the glory of God. Your legacy will outlive you and many will see heaven’s gates as a result.
If you’re in, the two of you will change the world. To love and be loved by one of God’s soldiers is like being strapped to a rocket ship. The fuel is God’s grace and power. It’s scary and it’s risky, but the ride and the view will be such a thrill you’ll thing your heart will explode. So strap yourself in. And enjoy the ride of your life, with the company of a man who God chose…For you, and for the kingdom…May God use you and may your love be a light in a dark and cruel world.
In Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, I wanted to feature a true survivor on my blog. Having grown to know and love my friend Sharon Robbins, I asked her to contribute her thoughts to this post. Her journey is one of pain and loss, but also one of bravery, determination and unshakable faith. My heart is heavy as I post this because I know so many who are afflicted by this horrible invasion in their bodies. But it is also bathed in prayer. For all those affected and all those who love someone who is battling…I lift you up for healing in Jesus’ Name. Here is Sharon’s Story:
October. Breast Cancer Awareness month. We see it promoted extensively by pink ribbons and catchy slogans developed to spur you to action in support of the fight against a terrible and life threatening disease. For one in eight women in America, like me, the focus isn’t limited to one month a year. We live it every day. We are “pink ribbon warriors” navigating our way through the turmoil that comes with the diagnosis and ensuing journey. According to the American Cancer Society, the moment you are diagnosed with cancer you become a “survivor”. Well, I want to be more than a survivor, and I have been successful in doing so.
My breast cancer journey began in November 2010. A casual rub across a sore breast. I feel a lump. I knew the news wasn’t good when I sat down in my doctor’s office days later and she started crying as she began discussing test results .
“I’m sorry, you have cancer”.
Time stood still and the big question was asked: “Am I going to die from this?” In that moment, wrestling to grasp the abrupt change life had just taken, I had a choice to make that would shape my future: will I be a victim or victor? Would I allow this indiscriminate enemy to overtake me without a fight? Or would I boldly jump into a no-holds-barred battle for life? I chose to fight with everything I had, and battling this devastating disease ended up leading to the best thing that ever happened to me.
The breast cancer battle is fought with your whole being: body, mind, and spirit. The spiritual battle comes first, beginning the moment you ask “is this it?” As a two-time survivor now living with metastatic breast cancer, I also believe it is the most important aspect of the battle. Without reconciliation of your spiritual condition, the fear of an uncertain eternal future can adversely affect your ability and strength to fight the disease on the physical and emotional plains. As I wrestled with this question, I sought reassurance from God’s holy word. I was drawn to Isaiah 46:3-4. “Listen to me…you whom I have upheld since before you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. ” God knows each of us intimately and we can rely on Him to be there for us. But could he rescue me? The answer is a resounding “Yes”! You see, the truth of the matter is, we are all “terminal”; we all die physically. But we are saved from spiritual death to eternal life when we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. Jesus promises this to all who trust in him in John 5:24: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” Therefore, as a Christ-follower, I was already rescued! I could let go of my fear of physical death knowing I had eternal security. That assurance gave me strength, because it meant that no matter how rocky the path ahead of me might be, or the final physical outcome, as His adopted daughter, I was already victorious.
With my eternal future secure, I then focused on embracing Christ’s hope for the life journey now before me. I diligently sought to immerse myself in a spiritual practice that would battle the “fangs” of the enemy: Fear, Anger, Negativity, Guilt, and Separation (from God). Philippians 4:4-8 helped me to do this as I learned to rejoice always (even in the darkest moments), to turn my fears over to the Lord (and let go of them), and to cast aside negativity, instead dwelling on what was true, right, honorable, pure, lovely, of good reputation, and worthy of praise.
My battle has included persevering through physical and emotional pain, multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, life threatening complications, and ongoing debilitating side effects. This perseverance has built character within me. That character led to finding hope secured upon the foundation of God’s promises to love me, protect me, and provide for me.
While no one ever wants to face cancer, if given the choice to go back to my pre-cancer life and relationship with Him, or to continue on my present journey, I choose to stay the course. The God that created me, carries me and sustains me has demonstrated himself in supernatural ways during the darkest of times. Romans 8 states, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I am a living example of this truth. This journey of a lifetime has indeed led to the best thing that ever happened to me: experiencing the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, and finding the purpose to which I am called. I am more than a conqueror (survivor) through him who loves me. By and through God’s grace, I am a thrivor!
Sharon Robbins called “time out” at the age of 50 and re-crafted her life during the battle against metastatic breast cancer.
Proclaiming “thrivorship” is possible during and after cancer, she is dedicated to helping other women through difficult journeys with grace, love, and a touch of humor. Drawing on her own journey, as well as biblical training and secular experience in executive leadership, presentation and speaking skills honed during her thirty year career as an employee benefits consultant, Sharon is available as a speaker for women’s events, a Bible study leader, and one-on-one encourager.
Her volunteer work has included service on the board of directors of The Hope Chest for Women, a non-profit organization providing financial and resource support to women in western North Carolina diagnosed with a womens cancer, director of the women’s ministry at her home church, fundraising for United Way and The American Cancer Society, and executive leadership to the local chapter of the National Association of Health Underwriters.
Sharon is an avid reader and aspiring writer and enjoys spending time with her husband, Dave, and their four-legged feline daughter Cocoa. Her current projects include work on a devotional, a bible study, and the design of a personal retreat for women ready to experience a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives.
Email Sharon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In my Grandmother’s house, in the seventies There was a powder room with gold wallpaper. It was metalically foiled and was flecked with a relief pattern in floral velveteen. It was the prettiest thing I’d ever seen. But today, It would be the first thing I ripped out of any home I bought. Tastes change. But our immutable God never changes. His truth is never out of style, never irrelevant, never without power.
It was Beth Moore who first introduced me to the idea of thinking about Truth as wallpaper for the walls of my mind. In her Bible study “Breaking Free” she taught me about tearing down the old lies and misinterpretations that my life had received and installed on the walls of my mind. I learned that hurtful images of painful experiences, false ideology/theology and counterfeit beliefs had been imbedded in the very walls of my thoughts and had infected me, moving from my mind to my heart and eventually to my actions. My task as I walk with Christ was to remove it, and to replace the lies that bound me with the Truth that sets me free.
But those old, dry, long-held beliefs and habits are a prison and are as hard to change as I’m sure that old wallpaper in Grandma’s powder room was…How does that truth get put up on the walls of our minds? How does the old rotten stuff get done away with? How does a stronghold of lies get torn down? Consider Paul’s words in II Corinthians 10 :3-5
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…”
Paul is telling these Christians, saved out of a culture that had corrupted their minds, to lay hold of a supernatural power that could destroy the layers of falsehood and deceit built up in their minds. If you are facing thoughts of pain, trauma, false teaching, or sinful reflections from a poisoned mind, The only way to win the battle is to change your inner wall paper. Notice, Paul calls this warfare. Weapons are necessary. The enemy will assault your efforts. He doesn’t want the lie exposed or the sinful imprint that controls you to be eradicated. And honestly, war is painful. It requires training, effort, sacrifice and discipline if you want to win. Here are some ways you can be victorious:
1. Limit access- Rope your work area off. In other words…Fasting and Prayer for a season. Disengage from former patterns. What feeds that craving to self-destruct? Starve your flesh of those things. Perhaps that will mean avoiding people, TV shows, Internet websites, certain secular music, movies, locations, even foods and drinks that reinforce the lies. Starve your flesh, yes, even crucify it.
2. Steam and scrape- You’ve turned up the heat on these old rags, they’re getting softer. Not take your scraper and get to shredding. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to the root of the lie. Was there a traumatic event? Was there a need being met by sinful processes? Were you exposed to a deep seeded lie from satan by false doctrine? Did you lose a war with your flesh and finally just give up to that addiction or habit? Or maybe the lie bloomed in you from often repeated injuries by people who did not seek your good, your protection, your purity, or your mental and emotional health. Ask Him to guide your trowel and help you root out the things in your mind that have set themselves up against the knowledge of God have now erected those “lofty speculations” about who you really are. A good counselor or godly mentor will be a great help with this. You’ll need prayer support and accountability. The enemy fights dirty. Mute his nasty voice by blaring spiritual songs in his face as you cry out for healing and reinvention. Worship sends him running in defeat.
1. Pick out the best paper ever made- You will begin to replace the old paper with the new. As every scrap of it comes down, cast it aside and consciously replace it with what God says. The only place you will find this precious paper is in your Bible. If you don’t know where to start, go to the first 3 chapters of Ephesians. Keep a running list of the over 60 facts about all that is yours in Christ. Make index cards to a poster to write them on. Memorize them and apply them to your own set of needs and areas of damage.
2. Install it properly- You must put in the hard work of taking every thought captive. This will demand intense focus and mental discipline and awareness. Be intentional. Move on in your quest to obtain knowledge. A great place to find the tools you need is II Peter. Meditate on this truth. Wallow in it. Let it cover every space. When it becomes a part of you, move on to more. When a new hunger takes over, and it will, feed it. Feed your spirit through your eyes and into your mind. Let it melt the hard places of your heart and change you, from the inside out.
3. Give the glue time to cure- That glue you used is still drying. You feel better and you act better now. But be on guard for failure. You are establishing new inner dialogues with yourself and with God. But the enemy will seek to tear down what He is creating in you. As the glue hardens the lies and the bait words will begin to just bounce off of it. But in the early stages of healing, there is lots of rubble that may trip you up. Pray through it, claiming all God’s great and precious promises. Know them and use them as weapons. Your spiritual muscles will grow, your spirit will get stronger and your flesh will get weaker. Stay the course. Talk to other strong brothers and sisters. Invite them into your story. Keep a short account of your thought patterns and be ready to attack any slips with your shield of faith and belt Truth and the sword of the spirit.
One of the most painful aspects of ministry is to see your sheep getting led astray or slaughtered by living in the past as victims. It’s even harder when you want victory for them more than they want it for themselves. I’m praying over this post that it will fall on hearts tender and ready to receive it. I’m praying that you will look inside your tarnished mind and let the truth set you free. Walk toward the Light and be made new.
“And so, dear brothers and sisters,a I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2
I am a victor. I have suffered a humiliating and brutal sexual assault. I know what it is like to realize your strength is a pittance compared to a man’s. I know what it is like to spot the signs too late. I know what it is like to be blamed for the attack. What I want to say today is a plea to all those fathers and mothers, husbands and big brothers, boyfriends and grandparents wanting to protect your girls and your women. I want you to impress upon them the evil that is in the world and is lurking out there to pounce on the oblivious. Don’t scare them, just give them the information that they need. Remove the naiveté, not the innocence. Be very specific. You will not be there every moment to watch over them.
Talk to your girls. Give them some life-saving wisdom. Let them know that little decisions they make can protect them:
1. Listen to your inner voice There is an alarm system built into the female…An announcement made in the back your mind that you are being threatened. Trust your intuition, that creepy feeling that something or someone is wrong. Teach them that when that internal warning comes to put aside those southern manners, sweetness and niceties. It’s not rudeness. If you feel threatened, speak up. Be assertive! I know many woman have been trapped while silencing those sirens in their guts in the name of being polite. When they feel it, tell them to get to a public place, or the nearest brightly lit safe zone and call someone.
2. There is power in numbers The predator will go after the most isolated in the herd. Go in groups. Don’t leave a friend behind.
3. Use common sense Jesus warned us to be wise and serpents but meek as doves. There are certain patterns to a predator’s ways.
*Monitor the online or phone activity of your girls. Ask question and get to know who they are “talking” to.
*Plan your day so you don’t have to be out alone late at night. This includes isolated runs or walks on secluded trails especially but not exclusively during the dark hours.
*Don’t accept a drink from anyone you don’t know or you did not see prepared. Tell the guy who sends a drink over that he can keep it.
*Walk to your cars in the company of others, lock your doors, park in lit areas, ask for an escort.
*Be alert. Don’t wear earphones, don’t look at your phone, have your keys ready, don’t hit the unlock button when you are still feet from the car. Walk purposefully and project confidence. Use college campus safety features and stay on the beaten well-lit path.
*Don’t put yourself at risk by intoxication. Don’t leave an event with a stranger no matter how charming or meet an online date anywhere but a public place.
*Always let someone know where you are, when you will be back and who you are with.
*Protect your identity, your belongings, your drink, your location. Never instagram or tweet or Facebook your location. If you need to share a comment or photo about somewhere you’ve been do it after you get home safely. If a stranger approaches you, give them no information. Report it to security. Use apps like Rave Guardian and Find my phone/friends.
*Don’t open your door to strangers. Lock your doors of your car and your room/house.
*If you are lost, the safest people to ask for help or directions are law enforcement or middle-aged females or young women with their children.
*if you are ordered to get in a vehicle to be taken to an alternate location, refuse. They might force you physically but don’t go voluntarily. Scream your head off, make a huge scene. They prefer to not be noticed. Even if they have a weapon, you have a better shot at survival if they shoot you in the parking lot than if they take you in their van. If someone demands your purse, throw it one way and run the other way.
4. Learn self-defense I took tae kwan do. Take a safety class of some kind. Consider your options of self-defense like pepper spray, a dog, or even a gun or taser. Never ever tolerate disrespectful, aggressive, or unwanted sexual advances. Report and sever ties with anyone who is violent or talks about violence.
5. Surround yourself with safe people Most men are natural protectors. Identify the ones you can trust and feel safe with. Predators will look for easy targets and undiscoverable locations. Get a trusted male to walk you to your car. Get one to watch over you at a party. Listen to them if they tell you someone seems off. We’ve taught our boys to look out for their female friends and family.
I do not live in fear. But I am security conscious. My husband trusts no one with my safety. He is a formidable protector. He’s taught me not to be naive. If I forgot milk and it is dark, he goes or we wait and do without. I always text him before I leave. When I’m home alone, our alarm is armed. There are evil, crazy, opportunistic people out there. Teach them to be wise. Teach them to be wary. Teach them that however sheltered they have been, you can’t always be there. Make them believe the risks and the threat. My heart is crushed every time I hear of another girl or woman who has disappeared or been assaulted or whose body has been found. Better to open her eyes than to have to heal her wounds or close her casket. Talk to the girls/women you love, today.
Yes, I have lived a privileged life. I am free, I am considered equal in the eyes of the law to any man. I have never suffered hunger, oppression, or disenfranchisement. But I am no less able to speak out on this subject than anyone else. I have seen the evil of these things in my world. I’m devastated by instances of inequality and injustice in the workplace and in society here at home. But even more so by the systematic oppression of women in the world at large, in areas where women are not granted access to education, civil rights, or the political process. I hate the fact that women are physically abused, raped, mutilated and in some countries even legally murdered. I cringe to think that females are required to cover themselves head to toe and treated as property. I weep at the remembrance of all the millions of female babies who have been robbed of life through abortion, murdered in the wombs of many desperate mothers, and many in the name of selfish convenience and the name of a woman’s right to make decisions about her “own body” with no account given to the one inside it. These are the areas in which I find my ire rising up on behalf of all women, against the fundamentalist ideologies that seek to keep them cut off from the most basic human rights.
In this way, I consider myself a “True Feminist”. I do believe in the ideal that all humanity is created in God’s image and that He views us all as equal. I take great pride in the American way that believes we have all been endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights and equal protection under the law. But I bridle at this brand of hyper-feminism that, in my opinion, wants to make us all the same. I do not want to be a man. I do not want men to be more like women. I want us all to be what we were designed to be.
The cry of the liberal feminists is equal pay for equal work. But the selfsame group will also demand that the standards for some jobs be lowered to give them access. Do you seriously want to be rescued from a burning building by a 120 pound female, or would you rather be carried by a 200 pound male? Do you want your daughters fighting in hand to hand combat in the streets of Iraq? Would you fight for your lovely grand-daughter, no matter that she is an elite athlete in her own right, to be able to face a football opponent who outweighs her by 200 pounds? Why can we not just admit that there are a few things that men are better suited for? Why is not OK to say that there are things women are better suited for too? Would you want your labor and delivery nurse to be a man? How about your mammographer?
Instead, let’s celebrate the male-ness and female-ness of each precious life. Let’s appreciate and respect the strengths of each individual. I’m very much afraid for a generation of young Americans who have bought into the myth that God’s design is patriarchal and that the Bible is sexist. Mothers and Fathers, Let’s teach our kids the beauty and order in being cherished by a man who sacrificially leads, provides and protects. Let’s show our daughters the power and influence afforded to us in the high office of homemaking and mothering, making it equally valuable to a career outside the home.
Ladies, this is a day in history where you can be anything you want to be. Follow your dreams. Work hard. Make yourself strong. Compete for and lay hold of your dreams, whatever that are. Fill your brilliant mind with knowledge and wisdom. Lead society. Lead alongside our brothers in the church. But, do not trample on the design of God, who has made woman, no fashioned her. Celebrate her strength and beautiful form. Don’t stoop to be more manly. There is purpose in our femininity…Softness, gentleness, tenderness and sensitivity. These are not weaknesses. Your femininity is a gift.
Gentlemen, Lead on. Be strong. Don’t suppress your ruggedness for fear of offending our sister feminists. Because there are still those of us who adore your gifts for leadership and powerful capacity for sheltering those you love. Your ways may be gruff, your faces covered in whiskers, your hands rough with callouses, but we know your heart to be full of courage if we will only let you be a man. We love your broad backs, deep voices and strong arms. We love your trucks, and lawn tractors, and footballs, and black coffee. We love to watch you eat. We love the way everything is a competition for you. We believe in you. We are honored as you open doors, carry our books, and wrestle with our sons in the living room floor.
Yes, I’m a feminist. I’m a lipstick wearing, cookie baking, baby rocking, high-heel clicking, man-loving feminist. And, Jesus was the greatest liberator of women history has ever seen. He was a man, a man’s man. He is my rock, my closest friend, and I choose to worship Him as King Almighty. And it is in His power I choose respect, and by His strength I seek to lead even as I serve.
I have been in a love relationship with the same man for 26 years and I love him more today than I ever realized was even possible. But due to lack of communication, we almost missed each other. We had been involved in the same singles group at church and had been introduced and made small talk. I was certainly attracted to him and found what he had shared about himself and his call to ministry very intriguing. I also felt like I was getting a vibe from him that he was interested in me. Yet, the “ask” never came. I found out later that he was praying about asking me out, but eventually decided not to because I was giving off a “snooty” vibe that made him think I was uninterested. Yikes!
I am a little embarrassed to admit, I eventually schemed a way to ask him out first! I rigged up a plan with my mom. We went up to him after church one morning in the lobby and invited him over that evening for a “Home-cooked” meal. What starving seminary student can say no to that? Right? The evening ended in total disaster, though. When we arrived at our family home in Ft. Worth after a singles event at church, the smell of napalm hit us in the face. My mom was on the hearth with her 80’s embroidered “mexican wedding dress” hiked up, emptying a can of RAID on a tiny twitching sparrow that had flown into our chimney. She looked crazed. ( she has always had a deathly irrational fear of birds, even the little ones). Dinner was burned. We ended up serving him a ham sandwich on the porch (fumes) and having a forced, awkward conversation. He left after less than an hour. I told my folks that night, “Well, we’ll never see that guy again.”
The very next day, my dad came home from work and told me he had gotten a phone call from Bruce. He just called to thank him for dinner (best ham sandwich he had ever had) and to let him know, man to man, that he was going to ask me out and that he looked forward to getting to know us all better. Dad told him that seemed pretty formal, but Bruce let him know that he just thought it would be polite to call him since I was still living at home while attending the local college. Needless to say, dad was a big fan of his from that day to this. I got a phone call at work the next day. It was Bruce inviting me out to dinner and to see a movie. There was talk of possible ice-cream and a walk afterward… *sigh*. I was hooked. He told me he had asked God to give him a sign if he was wrong about deciding not to ask me out. He took our crazy family dinner disaster as confirmation that he needed to get to know me better. He pursued me very intently after that for two months. Then, we had the old “where do you see this going?” talk.
He initiated the conversation by telling me how much he enjoyed our time together, how much fun he was having with me, that although he was taking things very slow (not even kissed me yet) he was physically attracted to me and what a trusted friend I had become. He said he wanted to take things to the next level and very gallantly requested that we begin to date each other exclusively. Three months after that, on a late night cuddle on the porch at his mom’s house, on Thanksgiving night, he told me he was thankful for me and told me he was in love with me. I cried my eyes out on his shoulder, and told him I love him too. He got his first kiss that night. We began having talks about the future and our calling and what kind of views we had about marriage and family. He was always clear, always taking the lead making me feel appreciated and secure, always making me feel pursued. All while working on his master’s degree full-time, serving on staff at a local church and working 8 hours a day in the hot Texas sun as a tennis pro at a local golf club. Four months later, on april fool’s day (yes, I was terrified it was a sick joke) he proposed. We married four months later, August 1989. This entire time, I never called him, never went by his house, never showed up at his work, never had to fight off roaming hands or feel like I had to compete with other women for his attention. He had declared his intentions and followed through consistently. He was the essence of manly leadership and chivalry.
With this as my background, I am totally confused by the singles scene today. I hear about guys who exclusively pursue a woman through text messages, who refer to their dating life as just “hanging out” or “talking”. How on earth would a woman know where she stands with you unless you declare your interest and intent to explore what God has for the two of you through dating? How can guys say they are too busy to seek out and get to know a woman? Or why be too busy playing video games or watching porn to walk up to a real woman and tell her you’d like to get to know her? How about planning and working hard with the honorable intention of being able to afford to provide for a woman to share a home and a life with?
I wanted to just give some “older woman” old-fashioned advice to my single Christian friends. (Not high-schoolers, this is for men and women) :
Guys, there are some very positive lessons in the love story above about how women feel and what they are looking to you for in a friend and dating partner. They want you to talk to God about it. They want you to keep them pure but they also want to hear when you think they are pretty or they make your heart flutter. They want you to be planning on a love-life by preparing vocationally, financially, and socially. They want you to initiate things and take the lead. They want you to periodically define the status of the relationship, even if that means you tell them it’s not gonna work out. They are totally confused by the phrases, “We’re talking” or “We hang out” or “It’s complicated”. They want personal contact, not just texts, group hang-outs and Facebook flirts. They want you to demonstrate your ability to lead, provide, and protect. They want you to go public with your intentions, no secret girlfriend who never knows where she stands. If she’s not a growing christian, not kind and giving, a drama queen or a man-basher run away. Stop looking for arm-candy and start looking for love.
Ladies, Nothing wrong with some innocent flirting! I nearly lost my shot with Bruce by playing it too cool. If you find a guy who is walking with God and he gets your attention, there are ways to tell him, without actually telling him. Give a guy some confidence by presenting an open low-pressure opportunity to get to know you. Don’t pursue him though, or you will be in a relationship where you always have to be the leader. Set the right tone about the physical stuff. You can keep him just as interested with eye-contact, hand holding, etc. if his intentions are honorable. Protect him by keeping things out in the open, not alone in his apartment. Lose the drama. Let things play out at his pace. Give him time to work, have guy friends, and enjoy hobbies too. Having a low maintenance lady who is always grateful and happy to see him, fun to be around and respectful, will always keep a guy coming back for more. Keep some mystery there too. Don’t let him take for granted that you will be sitting around waiting for his call. If he can’t afford to take you out, he can’t afford YOU. It does not cost that much to make himself clear. Some of our best dates were (are) just a walk and some ice-cream! If he hasn’t made a date with you by Wednesday, make your own weekend plans with friends. If he hasn’t defined the relationship after two or three months of casual dating, move on. This won’t be awkward or weird if you have kept the physical stuff innocent. If he hasn’t at least talked to you about a long-term future after a year, he’s not going to. Guard your heart.
As someone who did all their dating before cell phones, Facebook and e-harmony, I tend to look at things from a lot simpler viewpoint. I know it’s hard out there. I know many of us have baggage. But you can find love. And, you can keep from getting burned (or stalked by weirdos) if you keep boundaries well-defined and saturated in prayer. I seriously doubt you are gonna meet this kind of person in a night club though. Ha! Good luck out there! Guys, cowboy up! Girls, don’t be a crazy! Go!
“His appearance was like lightening, and his clothes were as white as snow.” Matt. 28:3
Do you believe in angels? I do. The Bible doesn’t give us all the information we want about angels and what they do, but it does give us quite a bit. We tend to get fixated on and entranced by the concrete world around us, with all it’s demands and sensory signals which we live immersed in. So, we can forget to consider that there is a very real, unseen spirit realm superimposed over our world in a dimension unchecked by time, space, and the laws of science. It is literal, but most of the time, un-perceptible. I sometimes wish I could view a split-screen version of my life in which I could see that unseen dimension, the battle of the good and evil spirit beings running concurrent to the events in my daily life. But then, maybe not. In scripture, every time an angel is viewed with human eyes, the first thing they have to say is “fear not”. They are fierce, powerful, and awesome creatures. Evidently they bear little resemblance to the white gowned, blond haired, glittery winged female statuettes we think of and compose in art. And that, my friends is just the good guys. I don’t even want to think about the evil, fallen angels who are now aligned with satan as demons opposing the saints and their gospel.
Today, I want to explore the scripture with you and give you some basic facts about this other dimension and the beings that inhabit it. I hope the information in this post can give you a perspective on your day and the people in it based on the truth that all around us is a band of brothers and warriors and allies doing the will of God on earth. I’m including some scripture references so you can check my facts. Think about these truths about angels:
1. Angels are creatures: God made the angels. About 1/3 of them followed Lucifer in his rebellion and were cast out of heaven. The ones who chose evil are defeated but allowed to rule over the earth for a time. They will eventually be cast into utter darkness with the souls of those who reject Christ. Neither the angels or the demons are subject to the laws of physics, but neither are they omniscient or omnipresent. There’s a bunch of them, myriads! Revelation 5:11, Matthew 12:22, Matthew 26:53, Jude 1:6
2. Angels have jobs: They are very powerful. They have different designs, ranks and abilities. Some are cherubim, some are seraphim, others archangels. They provide a continuous flow of worship before and around the throne in Heaven. They also are messengers from God, guardians of the saints, ministers to the saints, and warriors on behalf of God against the forces of darkness on Earth. We frequently see them in scripture delivering news or instructions to people. They protect us and battle demons. They come to people who are depleted and restore them. Psalm 91:11, Matthew 18:10, Hebrews 1:14, Zechariah 1:10, Luke 1:11-20, 2 Thessalonians 1:7, Revelation 12:7-9, Luke 22:43, Genesis 3:24, Daniel 21:1, Daniel 7:10, Ezekiel 14 &28
3. Angels are curious about grace: They desired to look into the effects of the sacrificial atonement of Christ and His relationship with redeemed humans. 1 Peter 1:12, Hebrews 1:5-7, 14.
4. Angels do not want to be worshipped: They do not hear our prayers. They do not do anything other than what God tells them to do. When we need protection we are to address our concerns to the Lord. He will command them according to His will. Pslam 99:1,Hebrews 2: 5-18
5. Angels have a fearsome appearance: Angels must manifest themselves in the physical realm in order to be seen by human eyes. Not only are they pretty scary to look at, they can be pretty “Other-Worldly” to imagine. Check out this description of one of them from the Bible in: Daniel 10:5-6, Ezekiel 1:6 and Isaiah 6:2-3 They also can take on the appearance of a human as evidenced in Hebrews 13:2, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
So, whether you are asking God to send one to protect someone you love, joining them in a worshipful chorus of “Holy, Holy, Holy” or depending one them to battle alongside you in spiritual wars remember they are loyal and dependable servants of God and would never want us to transfer our affections to them instead of our Heavenly Father. But they are fun to think about because they are an expression of the heart of our perfectly loving, genius and infinite Creator.
I am so excited to share with you about an event coming up at Biltmore Baptist Church on September 18, 2014! The Woman to Woman ministry is hosting a one night conference entitled “Lady In Red: Pretty. Powerful!” The evening will include fun things like a red carpet photo experience, snacks, a big dance number, an all red fashion show, inspiring videos and of course dynamic worship led by our Biltmore Worship Team and band. Our speakers this year are known nation wide for their gift to motivate and challenge women through their ministries. Take a moment to look them up via Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/meredithandrews and http://www.facebook.com/michellemcnattmyers. Meredith with be speaking and singing, both.
This is a ticketed event but, amazingly, tickets are only $5.00 and can be purchased online at http://biltmorebaptist.org/thegathering. Please join us and bring all your friends for a wonderful Ladies Night Out. Don’t forget to wear something red and bring an item to donate to our Kenyan Sewing Ministry. You can get all the details on the website! I look forward to seeing you all there! Enjoy this video below from Meredith Andrews:
I wanted to share this news with my readers who may not know me personally or don’t live in my community here in Asheville, North Carolina. I am wife to an amazing man who is called to be the lead Pastor at the amazing Biltmore Baptist Church. Words cannot describe how much I love this group of God’s people. I respect the heritage here and the legacy they enjoy in our area of the world. We celebrated the church’s 125th anniversary this Sunday! It is so rare to see a congregation that continues to grow and reach new people with the gospel after such a long time in existence. It’s unusual, I’m sorry to say, for such and old church to still be developing and changing to meet the culture around it head on with God’s love. We also had an exciting announcement of our latest campus to open in 2015. Please take a moment to watch this video that tells our church’s story, but more importantly it tells the story of God’s people taking their calling seriously to REACH UP, REACH IN, and REACH OUT!