Reaching Women around the World

“And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

Revelation 5:9

While Joseph and I were in Addis Ababa to meet Evangelle about a month ago, we had a chance to spend the Lord’s Day with a missionary our local church has supported for several years. He took us to a church service that was conducted completely in the Amharic language. Although I couldn’t understand anything said in either the singing or preaching that morning, I was moved by the obvious passion for Christ displayed by the Ethiopian people as they enthusiastically offered Him their praise. It was wonderful to think of how believers of every tribe, tongue, and nation will one day be gathered together to worship our great God for all eternity.

Here in America, I so often think of Christianity mainly in terms of what takes place in this country, but the American church makes up only a tiny fraction of the body of Christ. Our visit to Ethiopia impressed me with the importance of praying more faithfully on a global scale, asking that God’s kingdom would be advanced not only in my country, but around the world.

For that reason, I was especially excited to hear what God has been doing for women in the Dominican Republic through the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. In the following video, Nancy Leigh DeMoss shares how the Lord worked this past weekend through the very first Revive Our Hearts international conference in Santo Domingo…

Will you pray that God will continue to reach women around the world through the work of Revive Our Hearts?

Photo: Flavio Takemoto

Revive ’11: Session #5

Susan Hunt has spent decades serving other women by living out the Titus 2 mandate. As we neared the conclusion of Revive ’11 this afternoon, Susan spoke passionately about the urgent need and incredible privilege of participating in the ministry of spiritual mothering. As she introduced the topic of biblical mentoring as taught in Titus 2:3-5, Susan encouraged us to remember that this passage is part of the great storyline of Scripture. Titus 2, like every other portion of Scripture, speaks of Jesus Christ, and must not be understood apart from His glorious Gospel.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

~Titus 2:3-5

God’s Design for Gender Roles: Titus 2 is not simply about matching an older woman with a younger woman and telling them to be friends; it is about God’s redemption story. In Genesis 1:26, God created mankind as male and female, equal in value with differing functions. God did not create a genderless being, and before the fall, Adam and Eve were perfectly content with God’s design for gender distinctive roles.

Sin’s Distortion & the Gospel’s Solution: After the fall, the true woman (Eve as God designed her) became a new woman (Eve distorted by sin) who lives with clenched fists saying, “I will have my way!” The Gospel makes it possible for men and women to be restored to what God created them to be. Jesus, the promised offspring of the woman (Gen. 3:15), came and provided the perfect sacrifice so mankind through faith can be clothed in His perfect righteousness.

The Value of Spiritual Mothering: Redeemed women are the only ones who can display God’s redemption design before the world. Only we can pass this legacy of womanhood on to the next generation. Titus 2:3-5 is about training women who are by nature life-takers to by grace become life-givers.

Because Jesus came and because He is coming again, we obey His command to make disciples. Spiritual mothering is sacrificial, but it gives us the privilege of helping the Bride get ready for the coming of the Bridegroom. Spiritual mothers live with the prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus, but while we wait, use us to prepare your Bride.”

After Susan’s message, Nancy encouraged us to take a moment to quietly reflect on what the Lord was teaching us personally. The ladies were given the opportunity to exchange prayer requests and commit to praying for one another each day for the next 30 days. It’s exciting to think about what God will do through these prayers!

Revive ’11 Breakout Session: Philosophy of Women’s Ministry

Whew! This live-blogging is tiring business. The speakers at Revive ’11 are providing us with so much great teaching, it’s tough for my fingertips to keep up! :)

We’re on lunch break now, so I thought I’d share the notes with you from Susan Hunt’s breakout session for women’s ministry leaders. While we heard from Susan, the pastors’ wives had the opportunity to enjoy a separate session with Kim Wagner, Holly Elliff, and Karen Waddles, which I have no doubt was highly encouraging to them.

After lunch, we only have one more session to go!

A Biblical Apologetic for Women’s Ministry in the Local Church

Women’s ministries are often task/personality/event-driven. We must be intentional in crafting ministries that are Word-driven.

1. God created us male and female (Genesis 1:27) 

Gender distinctiveness is woven into the Creation story.

  • Genesis 2:18—”Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
  • The Hebrew word translated helper is ezer. The Old Testament often refers to God as our helper (Ex. 18:4; Ps. 10:14; 20:2; 70:5)
  • The Problem: The Fall (Gen. 3)
  • The Solution: The Gospel (Gen. 3:15)
  • Helper/Life-Giver vs. Hinderer/Life-taker
    • Women must be discipled to be be life-givers.
    • Woman’s helper design and life-giving mission can be summarized as community and compassion.

2. Jesus’ great imperative to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20)

Biblical discipleship is…

    • Informational
    • Relational (Mark 3:13)
    • Transformational (Luke 6:40)

Are there biblical principles for crafting a women’s ministry?

Some discipleship is gender-specific (Titus 2:3-5)

  • Ecclesiastical submission (1 Tim. 2:9-15)
  • Compassion (1 Tim.  3:11)
  • Community (1 Tim. 5:1-16)
  • Discipleship (Titus 2:3-5)
  • Scripture (2 Tim. 3:1-9, 14-16)

Crafting ministries that are submissive to church leadership

  • Are we supporting our leaders?
  • Will our decisions be life-giving?

Training women for ministries of compassion

  • Are we giving women the training and opportunity to show compassion in practical ways?

Cultivating community among women

  • Women often feel lonely and disconnected in the church, so leaders must be intentional about cultivating community.
  • We must provide biblical content within the context of loving relationships.
  • Leaders must shine the light of truth and love to help women feel safe enough to move out of isolation
  • Box-talk introductions—Way of helping women get to know one another in Bible studies, etc.
    • Each woman brings a bag with a certain number of items of significance to her
    • Books she’s reading, family photos, team t-shirts, etc.
    • Takes a certain amount of time to introduce herself to others in the group by showing each of the items

Training women to be true women/life-givers

  • If women in the church aren’t trained to think biblically about womanhood, they will default to the world’s way of thinking.
  • True Woman 101 is a great resource for training women’s ministry leaders about biblical womanhood.

Implementing a Titus 2 discipleship ministry

Revive ’11 Session #3

What a blessing to begin this morning at Revive ’11 by hearing from Pastor Crawford Loritts on the topic of faith. This man is a wealth of biblical wisdom! Below, you’ll find a summary of my notes from Pastor Loritts’s powerful message…

Our faith is not lodged in blind ambition or in what we hope will take place; our faith is anchored to the Ancient of Days in the Person of Jesus Christ. Faith is a verb even when it’s a noun. The Christian life presupposes movement. The assumption is that you’re going somewhere…you’re becoming more than what you were yesterday. If we’re going to move forward, we must believe.

Faith is not about us reaching our capacity; we don’t have the capacity. Faith is the biography of God in our lives. A.W. Tozer said, “Faith is less about what you say you believe and more about how you behave on a consistent basis despite your circumstances.”

The Foundation of our Faith 

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

Hebrews 11:1-3

Certainty of faith (v.1): Faith is to the Christian what a foundation is to a house. “God said it and that’s enough.” Faith is confidence, not in myself, but in the belief that God will do what He promised every single time.

Conviction of faith (v.1): Faith always has to do with things that are in the future. The very nature of faith is that we trust God for things that do not yet exist. Every Christian should have the mission statement to glorify God by believing in Him to experience and accomplish everything He has planned for us.

Community of faith (v.2): Faith is the legacy of the people of God. We aren’t the only ones who’ve ever lived who have to believe God.

Continuity of faith (v.3): The way that God has always worked in the world is to make the invisible visible. This is how He works in our lives today. 

Our Ambition

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

If you don’t believe God, you can’t please Him. This ambition should be the consuming passion for those of us who follow Christ.

As Christians, we believe 2 things: that God is real and that God rewards. We can’t expect to get anything from God if we don’t believe He is real. The gap between where we are and what God wants us to do is faith. There’s no such thing as being close to God without believing Him. The reward of faith is God Himself. When our faith is tested, it is actually God that is tested, not us.

7 Keys to Strengthening Your Faith

1. Accept the reality of opposition.

You know you’re flying over the right target when you’re being shot at. Too many Christians have an entitlement mindset. God does not exist to make us happy.

2. Stand ready to resist.

Take up the shield of faith. It’s easy to believe when nothing is being hurled at us.

3. Keep your mind focused and filled with truth.

It’s important to think right at all times, but especially when we’re under pressure. 

4. Embrace the growth pains.

It is going to be hard. The condition of our faith is a key indicator of the level of our spiritual maturity. Don’t stop working out because you’re sore.

5. Stay in God’s presence.

Love Him, commune with Him, practice His presence throughout the day.

6. Associate with faith-filled people.

Negative critical Christians dismantle the faith of others. A critical spirit is toxic.

7. Act.

Faith is what we do, not just what we talk about. It’s not only theoretical.

Revive ’11 Session #2

In Session 2 of Revive ’11, Pastor Crawford Loritts spoke on the distinctives of Christian leadership and provided insightful teaching that will benefit anyone in leadership, whether they be mommies or managers. :)

Pastor Loritts reminded us that nothing ever happens in ministry without 3 things: faith, prayer, and a person to lead. In the realm of ministry, Christians should not have the same goals as do those in secular leadership. God wants us to translate His vision into reality; leadership is not about our dream or ideas. Every one of us must be delightfully obsessed with what God wants to get done through our lives in our moment in history.

4 characteristics that mark every great ministry leader :

1. Brokenness

God never uses anyone over the long haul that comes to Him having it all together. Brokenness and woundedness are two different things. We can’t be broken without being wounded, but we must have taken our wounds to the cross for healing.

Brokenness is a permanent awareness of a God-neediness. It stands on 2 pillars:

  • Proactive surrender—God taught Moses that it’s not the amount of gifts we possess that matters, but the depth of our dependence on Him.
  • An acute awareness of personal sinfulness—David fell when he forgot that he was only a ¼” away from doing the most despicable things imaginable.

2. Uncommon communion

The great leaders of the Bible were people who realized they didn’t have what they needed, but they had Who they needed. We need to understand that the assignments God gives are greater than our personal resources, and that in the process of accomplishing something, we become somebody.

When we understand that doing ministry is one of God’s primary tools of sanctification, it will drive us to the heart of God to find the resources we need. The greatest gift we can give the women we lead is to let them see us looking to God for what we don’t have. Leadership is not a place to show off; it is a place to demonstrate the greatness of our God. 

3. Servanthood as an identity and not as a strategy

Biblical leaders don’t serve because of reciprocity. If we give to get something in return, we’ve not given, we’ve invested. The true mark of leadership is when people are better off because of being with us. We should never ask anyone to do anything either that we’ve not done ourselves or that we’re unwilling to do. Our ability to lead is in direct proportion to our ability to serve. In John 13, Jesus provided the ultimate example of servanthood when he performed the lowliest of tasks by washing the feet of those He loved. 

4. Radical, immediate obedience

Obedience is implicit in God’s call. What God wants done has got to get done. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade, often said, “You don’t have to be successful, but you do have to be obedient.” The greatest thing that could ever be said about us is that we did what God told us to do.

Learn more about the distinctives of Christian leadership in Pastor Loritt’s book Leadership as an Identity.

Ready for Revive ’11

I woke up bright and early this morning to make the drive to Indianapolis with my sister Niki and our friends Carroll and Jessica for the Revive ’11 Conference. The Lord answered our prayers and brought us here safely in spite of my driving. ;) 

The auditorium is filling with enthusiastic chatter and laughter as over 1,000 women from 30 states and 3 countries take their seats in preparation for our first time of worship together with Fernando Ortega.

The ladies in attendance are also perusing the beautiful gift bags that awaited them at their seats. Each one was packed full of fantastic resources including the book Voices of the True Woman Movement, an ESV Study Bible, Nancy’s study Seeking Him, and more!

After our time of worship, Nancy Leigh DeMoss will speak to us on the “Potential Pitfalls of Ministry,” a subject especially applicable to the audience which is primarily composed of women’s ministry leaders and pastors’ wives. I was already blessed to meet and speak briefly with Nancy, and she was just as gracious and welcoming as I would have imagined. I’m so grateful for this opportunity! :)

Gotta’ go! The first session is beginning. Stay tuned for more… 

A Marriage Healed through Forgiveness

This post first appeared on Precious Adornment in October 2010. It dovetails perfectly with the last two articles on the sanctity of marriage.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
as God in Christ forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:32

In this video from True Woman, Lorna Wilkinson describes the vicious cycle of sin and unforgiveness that would have destroyed her marriage if God had not miraculously intervened. Although she believed for a time that divorce would provide the necessary remedy for her marital problems, God graciously revealed that He was the only answer Lorna and her husband needed.

This story is going to touch your heart; it certainly touched mine.

Ladies, forgive your husbands while there’s still time. You have no idea what God will do with your future when you leave the past in His hands.

Photo: Charlotte Na

Blessed with Wedded Bliss

This post first appeared on Precious Adornment in July 2010.

“…encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,
to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject
to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”

Titus 2:4

Could you use a little encouragement in your marriage? So often, it seems the only marriage stories we hear are the ones involving tragedy and despair. In a culture that continually devalues the institution of marriage, it’s good to be reminded that God is still at work knitting together the hearts of husbands and wives so they can better reflect the beauty of His Gospel.

In this video from True Woman, Kim Wagner and her husband Leroy tell the story of how their marriage underwent a radical transformation once Kim committed herself to living out the simple truths of God’s Word. Through her story, we see a vivid illustration of how God pours out His blessings on those who not only hear His Word, but also obey.

Hear more of Leroy and Kim Wagner’s inspirational story as Nancy Leigh Demoss talks with them over the next several days at Revive Our Hearts.

Photo: Francis Valadj

Happy 10th, Revive Our Hearts!

In September 1997, Nancy Leigh DeMoss wrote the following in her journal…

I have been contemplating the possibility that God might want me to become more engaged in confronting the influence of feminism by promoting a biblical view of womanhood. I have felt that to do so would be to spend the rest of my life in the “lions’ den”—and to take on a battle that there is no hope of winning—the enemy has done such a masterful and thorough job of deception and devastation.

But I am reminded of numerous situations in which God placed His children in a position where they were hopelessly outnumbered–that He might show them that “the battle is the Lord’s.” If this is a battle of His choosing for me, then He will fight for me, He will conquer the unconquerable, He will cause the walls of Jericho to fall, He will defeat the enemy, no matter how numerous or deeply entrenched they may be.

I am so grateful that God provided Nancy Leigh DeMoss with the courage she would need to enter the “lion’s den” and begin the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. This weekend marks a day of great significance in the history of ROH, the 10th anniversary of Nancy’s first radio broadcast. What a difference this daily program has made in the Kingdom of God!

If you’re not a faithful follower of ROH yet, I can’t encourage you enough to begin listening to Nancy’s messages, reading the True Woman blog, and making plans to attend upcoming conferences like Revive ’11 or True Woman ’12.

Happy 10th anniversary, Revive Our Hearts! I’m asking the Lord to give you many more years in His service!

Visit the 10th anniversary Revive Our Hearts celebration page to learn about the history of ROH, plans for the future, and more.

Photo: Revive Our Hearts

Leadership in Marriage & Learning through Disability

True Woman continues to churn out helpful resources…

In a series of articles for the True Woman blog, Kimberly Wagner has been using the acrostic “APPRECIATION” to address multiple ways in which a wife can strengthen her relationship with her husband. Kimberly uses the letter “E” as an opportunity to share ideas on how wives can encourage their husband’s leadership. Her advice fits in well with issues we’ve discussed recently in “Ask Mel.” She says:

So often women lament the fact that they desire a spiritual leader; they long for their husband to lead–but he won’t! What I’ve found to be the most common factor in the high rate of male passivity is the wife’s domineering control or demeaning attitude when her husband makes any attempt to lead in a way which she doesn’t agree with.

She goes on to explain 3 ways wives can encourage their husband’s leadership:

  1. No matter how small the decision may be, commend your husband when he is decisive. 
  2. Choose your places of dissent carefully.
  3. Live each day in light of life’s momentary nature.
Read more of Kimberly’s advice on this topic in her articles:

Encouraging His Leadership
A Bit More on Encouraging His Leadership

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Also from True Woman, a new video by Jennifer Rothschild on lessons women may learn through physical suffering… 

 

Men, Prayer, & Pornography

 

The True Woman blog has posted some terrific resources this week for both single and married women alike. The first post I want to draw your attention to is an article written by Candice Watters called “How to Pray for a Future Husband. Here’s an excerpt:

What if God answers your prayers differently that you want Him to? He is able to transform the desires of your heart to align with His, and to satisfy you, completely. We may never be able to understand this with our finite minds, but the Holy Spirit makes it possible to grasp it in our spirits, so that we may pray with Jesus, “Thy will be done.”

I’m amazed that God doesn’t ask us to begin there, or require us to deny that we have real requests and desires. Not only does Philippians 4:6 instruct us to “let [our] requests be made known to God,” Jesus modeled that in his prayer in the garden…

It was only after He prayed, “if there is any way, let this cup pass,” that he prayed, “not my will, but yours be done.”

The whole point of prayer is to grow in relationship with God. The more we talk and listen, the more He shapes the conversation. As we grow closer to Him, our desires shift from what we want—what we think we most need—to what He does. His desires become our desires.

Read Candice’s entire article HERE.

Another great post called “A Hope-Filled Conversation on Guys and Pornography” contains an audio interview with Tim Challies (author of the book Sexual Detox) and his wife Aileen. Tim and Aileen tackle several tough questions that Christian women often ask about men and pornography such as:

  • If a man isn’t interested in having sex with his wife, is that an automatic indication that he’s addicted to pornography? 
  • If a single woman is dating, should she try to figure out whether her boyfriend’s addicted to pornography? Do single women have any hope of getting pure men? 
  • How can we as women help men with this struggle?

This post also contains links to several additional resources which will provide help to anyone dealing with the damaging effects of pornography.

Listen to the interview HERE. 

Photo: jamie brelsford

Imprisoned Lives, Unrestrained Joy

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.”

Isaiah 1:18

Is anyone beyond God’s reach? In this video from Revive Our Hearts, you’ll see living proof that God’s grace can break through any barrier caused by sin, including prison walls…

Photo: Jef Bettens

A Marriage Healed through Forgiveness

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
as God in Christ forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:32

In this video from True Woman, Lorna Wilkinson describes the vicious cycle of sin and unforgiveness that would have destroyed her marriage if God had not miraculously intervened. Although she believed for a time that divorce was the answer to her problems, God graciously revealed that He was the only answer Lorna and her husband needed. 

This story is going to touch your heart; it certainly touched mine. 

Ladies, forgive your husbands while there’s still time. You have no idea what God will do with your future when you leave the past in His hands.

Photo: Charlotte Na

In Praise of Godly Women

“…train the young women to love their husbands and children…that
the word of God may not be reviled.”

Titus 2:3,5b

Proverbs 31 says that the husband and children of an excellent wife will praise her and call her blessed. In the following video about Holly Elliff’s growth in Christ while raising 8 children, you’ll see a family doing exactly that. “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all” (Proverbs 31:29).

Read Holly’s advice to busy moms on how to spend time with God: “Help! Mommydom leaves me no time for God”

Is there a godly woman who has impacted your life? Share your praise here!

Photo: Simona Balint

Beauty Supplements

Your daily dose of true beauty advice…

Hannah’s story teaches us what it means to be a true woman of God. She let go of her plans. She knew that God was in charge, not her. She believed Him enough to say yes even when desperation had caused her to go out of her comfort zone and ask for the unthinkable.

Motherhood gives us feelings of fuzzy blankets and baby rattles and toys to line the crib. But motherhood is actually one of God’s refining fires. The reality of motherhood is that it’s a place to learn surrender, letting go, trusting and believing that God is God…

With God in control, our prayers for our children can make a mark on our nation. True women, like Hannah, trust God enough to believe He has great things planned for the babies He has given us–babies we give back to Him for His use, His Kingdom, His glory.

~Janet Parshall in Voices of the True Woman Movement

What do you think, Mommies? Can you relate to the belief that “motherhood is actually one of God’s refining fires”?

Photo: OBMonkey