7/28/10

Choosing to Answer the Call

Voices and Choices of the True Woman Movement
(Part 9)


This is the end of my summer journey through the book, Voices of the True Woman Movement. My goal has been to highlight some of the godly men and women who have voiced the truths, principles, and motivation in the True Woman movement. These voices are from True Woman '08, and many of them are returning for True Woman '10 in Indianapolis and Ft. Worth this fall.

It is fitting that the book closes with challenging words from Nancy Leigh DeMoss, the author of the book. The subtitle of the book is: A Call to the Counter-Revolution. The call is alive and powerful, founded in the True Woman Manifesto.

Nancy first reminds readers that the women's movement (telling women, "Have it your way") made many promises, but left women more "dissatisfied, disoriented, and distressed than ever." Women are discouraged, dysfunctional, and desperate; and these are emotions that, sadly, are found among many Christian women, too. Nancy says, "I believe now is the time for us to seek God for a movement of reformation and revival among Christian women ~ a Word-driven, Christ-exalting, counter-cultural revolution that will take back the ground that has been given over to the world's way of thinking for so many years."

Swimming against the flow of this world may look different to each woman, depending on her season of life; but "our generation has an unprecedented opportunity and responsibility," Nancy said, "to invest our lives into God's Kingdom." She says she believes that, especially from the millions of boomer-era women, "there could be unleashed a massive movement of true women, who could take all kinds of battlefronts for Christ."

One of Nancy's favorite writers is Amy Carmichael, who traveled to India in 1895 as a single missionary. Amy stayed there for 55 years without a furlough. She worked against the practice of selling children and young women to Hindu religious fathers, who turned them temple prostitutes. She fought against the flow of that culture, like a salmon swimming upstream. Who would want to choose that path? "But what a picture this is of the heart of Christ ~ the heart of Calvary ~ swimming upstream, fighting against the tide," Nancy said, "being bloodied and beaten on His way to giving spiritual life even at the cost of His own physical life."

That is our calling, too. We are called to "pour ourselves out in fulfilling the Kingdom purposes of God in this world," no matter the cost. Nancy is calling for "a band of sisters who say, "If I perish, I perish ... I'm going for broke."

God may be calling us to be the Amy Carmichael's in our generation, in our own sphere of influence. There are women in your and my community, church, and family who desperately need to be rescued from the enemy who has taken them captive. "We're commissioned to shine the light of [God's] truth in the darkness, enabling captives to be set free for the glory of God."


One of the passions in Nancy's heart is to see women return to biblical womanhood. "For decades," she says, "Western culture has been drifting from whatever biblical and spiritual moorings it may have had. We have abandoned scripture as our ultimate authority and are now facing an all-out assault on Christian and biblical values. Nowhere is this more true than in our relation to gender issues ... Feminist ideology has become mainstream, and we are now experiencing the long-term effects of an intentional, orchestrated effort to undermine what the Bible teaches in relation to gender and sexuality."

The True Woman Manifesto, mentioned above, is "an attempt to make a thoughtful, earnest, biblical response to this point in history," Nancy said, "and to provide a succinct statement around which women of God can unite their hearts and efforts." The True Woman Manifesto, unlike the self-serving Feminist manifestos, "is a call to come and die ~ to ourselves, to our own plans, to our own desires ~ so we can manifest [God's] resurrection life to our world." This call to "come and die" was pictured at True Woman '08 by broken women, waving symbolic white flags of surrender ~ handkerchiefs embroidered with two simple words, "Yes, Lord!"

Every posting in this series has ended with a list of choices that we can make to become True Women of God. This entry has only one choice, but it is crucial. It is surrender. Will we lay down our lives, being true Christ-followers in obeying the Father? Will we add our voice to the voice of others who are standing for truth, revival, and biblical womanhood? Will we say, "Yes, Lord"? It may involve many obstacles, or even suffering; but we will glorify God in our obedience and service. And that is why we were created.

God is calling, and everything hinges on what you decide. Will you answer the counter-cultural call?

7/21/10

Incense Rising

Choosing Intimacy and Legacy


Voices and Choices of the True Woman Movement (Part 8)

I recently read a powerful magazine issue that focused on prayer: Revive, a publication of Life Action Ministries. In that magazine, men and women of God challenged readers to look at prayer in fresh ways. In the heart-searching "Making It Personal" section, the reader discovers 10 hindrances to effective prayer (unconfessed sin, selfishness, praying for show, a proud spirit, unresolved conflicts, an unforgiving spirit, lack of compassion, giving up too soon, lack of fervency, and unbelief).

The Lord balanced all of this heart-searching in my reading with some words by Fern Nichols in another source, the book Voices of the True Woman Movement. Fern Nichols, founder of Moms in Touch International, spoke at True Woman '08 on how to grow closer to the Lord and leave a lasting legacy through prayer. She says that we cannot give a greater gift to those we love.

Prayer is so simple that even a child can do it, and yet the most eloquent woman in a relationship with Jesus also needs to pray. As Fern says, "Prayer is an equal opportunity undertaking." God tells us that prayer is powerful. He wants us to ask so we will receive. He wants us to experience the joy of answered prayer (John 16:24).

Fern says, "I'm convinced that one of the most wonderful things about prayer is that it enables us as women to leave a legacy for our children and grandchildren. Long after we're gone and our lives are but a memory, God will still be responding to the faithful, fervent prayers we've offered on behalf of our dear ones."

The effect of our prayers, as God works through them in accordance with his will, is a legacy that will outlive our earthly lifetime.
Fern talks about the prayers that she offered up for her son, a prodigal in high school and college. She wanted to see her prayers answered right away. When change didn't come, she kept persevering in prayer. Year after year, there seemed to be no answer to her desperate praying. She says, "We couldn't see it at the time, but God was acting in hidden ways, performing His wonders of redemption." We must have the confidence that God hears us (1 John 5:14-15).

"The incense still rises before His throne," Fern says. "I believe the incense of those prayers continues rising up before the loving gaze of my God in heaven. I believe this is eternal stuff." The lesson is, don't give up; He will answer in His time. The problem is that we grow impatient and become fatigued. We need to commit to intentional prayer every day, even if it's only for five or 10 minutes. We must pray when we feel like it and pray when we don't. It also helps to pray together (to gather in support of one another, interceding for our children and grandchildren).

Fern Nichols, of course, began a ministry for moms, encouraging them to pray for their family members. She shares incredible stories of the miracles that happened because women fervently prayed. She believes that God has called us to partner in prayer (Matthew 18:19-20). We pray in the unity of faith. This is God's design.

Sometimes our pain for our loved ones is so deep, we can only groan together, because we don't know what to say. Our Heavenly Father hears our wordless, groaning prayers, and He understands. As we pray in unity, we grow stronger together.

Fern suggests four kinds of prayers, and these are our choices in prayer to leave a powerful legacy:
(1) prayers of praise (Psalm 9:10)
(2) prayers of confession (James 5:16; Hebrews 10:22-23)
(3) prayers of thanksgiving (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
(4) prayers of intercession (Isaiah 55:11)

Fern says that she is praying for an army of praying women in every nation who will be obedient to God's call and never tire until his will is done on earth and his spirit moves in the hearts of our loved ones and the needy souls around us. Our legacy of prayer is powerful. It is a gift. Fern says that nothing is as personal and powerful (and perhaps as "dangerous") "in the loving, all-knowing hands of our wonderful God than the fervent prayers of the righteous."

What legacy are you leaving for your children, grandchildren, and others you love? Is it a legacy of prayer?
Fern will be one of the speakers at True Woman '10 in Indianapolis and Ft. Worth.

7/14/10

The Choice to Glorify God

Voices and Choices of the True Woman Movement (Part 7)

Recuperating from a fractured ankle, my thoughts have turned repeatedly in past weeks to a precious woman God, Joni Eareckson Tada, founder and director of Joni and Friends. Struggling in my rolling walker, I thought of the difficult circumstances surrounding Joni's paralysis, and the endless hours and days and years and decades in her wheelchair. As I watched my husband Bob serve me, I thought of Joni's Ken (shown here with Joni). How she must thank God for him. People came to my assistance, and I thought of Joni's faithful lady helpers and prayer warriors. As I endured pain in the middle of the night, I thought back to True Woman '08. We "saw" Joni only by video, because she couldn't attend the conference. Her new physical pain was terrible then, and continues today.

In recent days, Joni had breast cancer surgery, an event that caused many in the Christian community to pray for her health. But I've had a special connection with her, reading her chapter in Voices of the True Woman Movement. Joni's chapter is appropriately titled, "God's Jewels." Joni is a rare jewel. As I mentioned her breast surgery to my husband, he remarked, "That woman is going to have an incredible reward in heaven!" What he meant was not that she would be rewarded for her suffering, but for her spirit and determination to glorify Christ through her suffering.

Joni talked about God's description of those who love Him. They are His "jewels," His treasures (Mal. 3:16-17). God wants to refine His treasures to make them sparkle and shine (Zech. 13:9). Joni said, "I long to be a jewel that does not cringe when God chooses to give my soul a hard scrubbing every now and then." She doesn't glorify the suffering that it sometimes takes to polish our faith, but she glorifies God whose image is reflected through our struggles. "If you want to shine with His glory," she says, "it will be on His terms.

Sometimes that process is indeed tough. God takes us where we might not want to be, but He can be trusted. Jesus said we would have troubles (John16:33), but "Trouble is the textbook that teaches us who we really are," Joni said. "Trouble is what squeezes the lemon inside of us, revealing the stuff of which we are made. And it's not always pretty."

We like to think that God will indulge our sinful attitudes ~ but no. As Joni said, "The core of God's plan is to rescue us from our sin." The sanctification process is "bent on conforming us to the image of [God's] Son." He is concerned about our poverty, pain, frustration, and brokenness, yet "God cares most, not about making us comfortable, but about teaching us to hate our transgression and to grow up spiritually."

I have to confess that I don't like the process. "God takes," Joni said, "one form of evil (my suffering) and turns it on its head to defeat an even worse evil (my sin and self-centeredness)." God won't let us stay comfortable with our self-focus for long. He loves us too much to let us enjoy sin. He wants us to "glow" with His glory.

Suffering is a chisel, she says ~ one of the tools God uses to chip away our pride. He desires to destroy our stubbornness and rebellion, and He's not going to let up on the "chiseling" until we go home to heaven! We may feel battered, but His goal is that we will be better. That we'll be changed. Transformed. Sparkling and mirroring God to a needy world. "It's through obeying in small, yet great ways," Joni said, "that God miraculously changes you."

Joni's chapter in Voices details how God uses our suffering. Certainly, God is the One wielding the chisel, but as I see it and draw from Joni's words, we have some powerful choices involved in our transformation, too.
  • Trust the Master Craftsman; yield to the chisel. God knows what He is doing. What you may consider unnecessary or injurious, He sees in light of the masterpiece He is creating. Trust the sovereignty of the Craftsman.
  • Stop fighting change. God may not want things to remain the same, for a reason. See your life as an adventure with God. A rewarding adventure is full of good, but often unexpected events.
  • Obey God each time He speaks, whether in small things or large. You will experience "freedom from the bondage of sin and self," Joni said. So strengthen your "drooping hands" and "weak knees" as you make "obedient paths" for your feet on your way to healing (Heb. 12:12-13).
  • Expect God's grace. Where sin abounds, grace abounds; and His grace is evident throughout His childrens' lives. God is more than sufficient for our suffering (Rom. 5:20).
  • Remember that Christ is with us, even in the fellowship of suffering (Phil. 3:10; 1 Pet. 2:21).
  • Consider others who have greater needs than yours. Serve, give, encourage, and love. Use what you have to bless others.
  • Keep eternity in mind. Guard a biblical perspective. (Rom. 8:18). Remember that suffering and struggles are temporary, but our attitudes toward them can yield eternal fruit.
Matthew 13:43 shows the result of God's work in us through all the circumstances of life: "the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Zech. 9:16). We will be His jewels, reflecting His glory. I want to sparkle, don't you?

I don't know whether Joni will appear in person or by video at True Woman '10, but I do know that she will describe how God has taken her to a deep place of trust and worship. I am so glad I'll be in Indianapolis to hear that message. I hope you'll join me there, or attend in Ft. Worth.

7/7/10

Choosing Faith, No Matter the Circumstance

Voices and Choices of the True Woman Movement (Part 6)

I believe the church as a whole needs to hear the voices of godly, God-centered men and women of color—God’s Church is made up of all people groups and nations. So I was thrilled to see and hear Karen Loritts at True Woman ’08. The first thing I noticed about Karen was the bright flowers she wore on her suit lapel. The second thing I noticed was her congenial, Christian authenticity. This pastor’s wife lives Bible truth in power, and she glowed with the love of Christ.

Karen’s message, “Choosing Faith in Seasons of Change,” chapter six in Voices of the True Woman Movement, encouraged me to trust God no matter what happens.

Karen described her heart and life preparations as her daughter went off to college. She was prepared, yet, “it was awful,” she said. She couldn’t stop crying in the days that followed ~ her “new norm.” Fear, worry, and loneliness became her companions, and though she’d served in ministry for 30 years, she had an emotional meltdown. Karen noted that fear brought its evil buddies—doubt, despair and other negative emotions—and none were conducive to healthy spiritual growth and stability.

Karen knew that, in order to conquer fear and live authentically in biblical womanhood, she needed to trust God with every fiber of her being. She retreated to the scriptures and put fear “on notice” that it could not make her its slave.

Karen offered six powerful choices that can help women conquer fear – based on James 4:7-10:
(1) Submit to God. Wave the flag of surrender. Faith believes that God understands our fear and He knows what is best.
(2) Resist the devil. The Bible says He will flee when we, by faith, take our stand in the holy, powerful name of the resurrected Lord, refusing to be the devil's victim. Embrace your victory in Christ!
(3) Draw near to God. Be assured of His presence as you intentionally rest in Him. “Resist the temptation," Karen says, "to let those pity parties drown out what God is trying to say, making you doubt the reliability of His Word and the certainty of His presence.”
(4) Cleanse your hands. Don’t give in to other sins that magnify fear (worry, anxiety, doubt, etc.). Repent of sin and rest by faith in God’s forgiveness and freedom.
(5) Purify your heart. This goes deeper. “Fear will always keep its teeth clamped down on us," Karen said, "until we truly ask God to ‘create in me a clean heart … and renew a right spirit within me.’" (Ps. 51:10). Be sure your heart, motives, and thoughts are purified so fear has no grip on you.
(6) Humble yourself. Karen, when she went through her meltdown, had “so much pride” that she couldn’t share her pain with others. Pride caused her to think her group of supportive girlfriends would think less of her if they knew she was struggling with fear. “Saying ‘everything’s fine’ is not the way we’re delivered from the fear…,” Karen said.

Other circumstances (physical problems) complicated Karen’s struggles, but she discovered that making these six choices put her in a place God wanted her to be … and that’s where she found hope. “There’s nothing our God can’t do,” she said. “Of all the things we must resolve to do when life is at its hardest and our fears are at their worst, the first is to resolve to surrender…. Let God be God, and fear will eventually bow down to its Conqueror.” We must choose faith in God and the power of His Word, no matter our circumstances!

Karen and her husband Crawford will speak at True Woman ’10 in Indianapolis (Sept. 23-25) and Ft. Worth (Oct. 14-16). To register or for more information, go to True Woman.

Friend, do you struggle with fear? What have you found helpful in conquering your fears?