Ladies, the world we live in has sold us a bundle of lies about our gender and what constitutes strength. I for one am sick of it.
In my younger years I bought into all of it so quickly I am embarrassed. Not even thinking to check it against what God has to say. I was a smart woman; I thought I knew what it meant to be strong.
I really had no clue.
When a woman was cheated on by her husband I would side with the throng shouting, “Leave that unfaithful jerk! You don’t deserve that. Move on and make him sorry. The children will get over it, they are better off without him.”
That is how I felt until meeting a woman who became like a mentor to me about 12 years ago. I admired her so much; she sang the praises of Jesus Christ and of her husband too. I longed to be that in love with my husband. After knowing her for about a year, she told me their story. A story of shocking infidelity and even more shocking reconciliation. A story of staying and not leaving, a story of a couple renewed and redeemed by the power of Christ alone. A victory story ordained by God.
Since that time I have walked with others who have gone through that same type of pain and have chosen to stay. I watched as God turned their anger into a passion to not allow Satan the win; watched their drive to serve God over serving their flesh and their desire to just run. I saw peace restored, husbands repenting, marriages now not just restored but soaring all for the glory of God.
Now I know I have witnessed the true strength of a woman.
Not so many years ago, my mental picture of a strong woman was one with ambition, who had a successful career and took care of her family. Someone who had it all together and worked hard to accomplish her dreams.
Now having walked with women who struggle with anxiety, wrestle with depression, and deal with chronic pain, I see real strength. These same women call on God for help, trusting in him to carry them on. They pick themselves up and walk out their doors to face a harsh world that they don’t seem to fit into. Despite the Enemy’s attacks, they keep getting back up and loving on others. They worship with passion and praise with joy. Doing battle bravely with the sword of God’s Word.
I used to think being a submissive wife was a joke. Offensive oppression and disturbing old church ways. Until I read how the Savior was crushed and hung on wood because he was submitting to his Father’s will…in order to save me…un-submissive and selfish me. Until I saw submission modeled out for me in relationships with such beauty that I can no longer argue against its purpose, command or its effectiveness. I now see how brilliantly marriages dance and thrive when strong women allow their partner to lead. She is his equal yet has different steps to tread with a beauty all her own. A beauty modeled after Christ and the Holy Spirit. Glorious and strong submission.
The career woman can be a strong woman in Christ, but she is also the woman who gives up her worldly status to stay home and raise her children. She is the one who stands up and says “No!” to the teaching of the world when everyone else is saying, “Okay, I guess, whatever.” She is the one who picks up her Bible to read instead of the latest trend novel. She is the one loving the unlovable and forgiving the unforgivable. She cherishes her God-given gender and the beauty of its purpose. She is the one who chooses life instead of convenient murder. She is the one who works hard at pleasing her Lord even if that displeases the world around her.
The strong woman trusts in her God who tells her, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10.
Ladies, don’t eat up the lies the world is trying to push down your throat. You know deep in your heart that God’s way always has been and always will be the best way. His opinion is the only one that matters. Show true strength in this world; admire true strength in this world.
Be determined to walk that narrow path of truth while others carouse down easy street. If you have been living with a misunderstanding of strength, time to take a stand and get it right. Hear God’s word today and let this be your prayer right now:
“For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.” Psalm 86:10-12.
Slam me down and spin me around. Keep me centered. We have been singing a song in church lately that has the line, “Center my life on your name.” Being the pottery nut that I am, the same image pops into my mind every time.
When you are sitting at a potter’s wheel the first thing you have to do is take your lump of clay and center it on the wheel. You do that by shaping it into a ball and then slamming it down on the very center of the wheel. If you miss you must pick it back up, shape it and slam it back down. You have to do this until you get it right. No shortcuts.
Only after you have your portion of clay in the middle of your wheel can you then begin the spinning and go on with the process of molding it and creating something beautiful.
What happens if you don’t get the clay centered and try to move forward with an off-centered lump? Nothing good and nothing beautiful. You will fight it, trying to get the clay centered and to a place where it will be workable. It will eventually be so off-kilter that it will turn into an ugly mess and possibly fly off the wheel all together (I know this from experience).
Our lives in the same way need to be centered on Christ. It is a perfectly simple visual. If we stay centered (if we are in God’s Word, fellowshipping with other believers, praying, praising), we are shapeable, malleable, and able to be formed into a vessel of good purpose. We will be drawn vertically upward stretching ourselves toward Godly beauty under the perfect hands of the Potter.
I did not invent this sweet analogy, God did. “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8.
With God as our potter what can we do as the clay? Be still and know that he is God. We are to remain on the wheel, centered and in his capable hands. Always moving and active yet only in the way that he guides us. Not trying to move in our own direction so that the gracious Potter must pick us up and slam us back down again (for our own good). Not trying to harden ourselves and be resistant under his loving hand. Don’t be ignorant or stubborn clay.
“You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, ‘He did not make me’; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’?” Isaiah 29:16
Sound ridiculous to think of clay talking back to the potter? Yep, sure does! But we do it all the time. We question God’s plan for us, we doubt his intentions, we complain about our form and our seemingly unexciting purpose. We tell him, “Hands off! I can do it myself.” We need to stop sassing back and instead trust him and let him have his way. He is perfect remember, we are not.
Be malleable so he can do his work, growing you up, shaping you to hold more and more of him. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7
When centrifugal force starts to pull against us, when we feel the pain and frustration that comes when we flail and come undone in life. Our prayer should be for God to please pick us up and slam us back into the place where we can once again flourish under his care. Difficult? Yes. Painful? Possibly. But oh so worth it. So much better than finding yourself thrown off and left to dry out, all because you did not trust the Potter.
Ladies, let this be your prayer today: “God, do whatever is necessary to center my life upon you that I may be made into something beautiful and can be filled with the treasures of your goodness all for your glory.”
I love garbage day. I also like recycle day. Those days are Thursdays and Fridays for me each week. I really like Thursdays and Fridays. After the fire at our business we got excited on Tuesdays, the day they emptied out our big dumpster so we could refill it again for the following Tuesday.
One of my favorite activities (nearly a hobby) is taking donations to thrift stores. I love dropping off boxes full of clothing, toys, books and décor that I just don’t need. I really feel a weight off of my shoulders. I feel lighter and less tied to this world.
Some of you (though not all) can relate completely. You get me.
This superficial and short-lived enjoyment we experience of decluttering our homes needs to be applied in a much more profound way to our spiritual life. We need to clean house and take out the trash. Let’s look at this in two ways today: physical and spiritual (or tangible and intangible).
First, the physical (tangible). Get the junk out of your home that does not honor God. Clothes, movies, music, games, books, pictures, photographs, letters, artwork, magazines, certain medications, certain foods and drinks, posters, décor, idols. Anything that you would want to hide, turn off, or change out of if Jesus either walked into your house, hitched a ride in your car or stopped for a visit at work. Trash it all or even burn it. Do not donate your sin or shame to someone else.
Take a tour of your home with a trash bag in hand and go to work. You may be sadly surprised at how quickly you fill it and grab another. Some things may be hard to part with, but do it anyway. We don’t want to find ourselves trading God’s blessings for worthless dust. “Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” Jonah 2:8.
Secondly, the spiritual (intangible). The same applies; get the junk out of your mind and heart. If the Spirit of Christ has mercifully come to dwell within you, don’t make him room with fear, lust, anger and bitterness. “Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?” 1 Cor. 3:16. Jesus died so that you could be emptied of trash like this and could be filled with his gifts of faith and grace; overflowing with fruits like love, peace and kindness.
Just like with your home, take a spiritual inventory of your heart. What is there that needs to be brought out and burned? Unforgiveness? Hatred of others or yourself? Envy? Anxiety? Kill it all with the power of the Sword. “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24. Don’t stop there, do not stay empty and vulnerable (see Matt. 12:43-45). Fill the space with ammunition for when new rubbage tries to take up residence. Filling up on God’s Word so that when new hurts want to hang out and fester, you can turn them away for lack of space. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16
I pray that you will hold your own trash day very soon and will ask for God’s help and his strength to accomplish it. Rid yourself of what is toxic and causing gross stagnation in you. It is time to be renewed and refreshed by the cleansing waters flowing freely from the throne of God.
“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” 2 Cor. 7:1
Ladies, do your spring cleaning for real this year. Make a difference in your heart and home. It’s time to take out the trash.
Ladies, how does that sound to you? Receiving a new mind? You may find yourself saying, “Sign me up, this old one just isn’t cutting it anymore! It wanders, is easily confused and it can’t remember a thing!” Trust me, I understand where you are coming from.
Our minds can feel like a war-torn battlefield. Our thoughts compete against one another trying to direct our thinking or demand that they be displayed through emotions. At times we feel defeated by how our brains seem to work (or don’t work). When our thoughts turn to sad memories or past hurts it can affect our day, our week or our lifetime.
Does it have to be this way? Does God care about our minds and how they work? The resounding answer is “Yes!”
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,” Romans 12:2. This often quoted verse is truly awesome, but did you catch the “renewal” part? We often think this verse refers to us changing as our mind slowly becomes new little by little. Our brains certainly do affect our actions and whether we behave like the World or like Christ. But are they really becoming new little by little, being partially old and partially new?
In Ezekiel 36:26 God states, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” This is the eternity-altering, divine heart transplant we rejoice in as Christians. But when God claims you, do you think he simply gives you a new heart and leaves the old brain? Not a chance!
The heart of a person is the core of their being. God redeems their heart which then radiates to every single piece of them. Christ was a fully sufficient sacrifice to redeem all of us, not a partial sacrifice that only afforded a single organ. The Bible speaks to this in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” All the old is gone and what has come is all new.
So the “renewal of your mind” in Romans 12:2 has been accomplished. We are able to be transformed because our mind is made new through Christ. Just as your heart is no longer a slave to sin, neither is your mind, your intellect, your brain, or your thoughts.
This is exciting news to me. I too often get caught up in the mindset that my brain is what it is and that I must put up with the thoughts that I have and the emotions they produce. This is not true! That is why Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ”. Command your thoughts to obey Christ through the power of Christ that resides with in you, specifically “the knowledge of God”.
Not allowing yourself to be a slave to your thoughts is something you need to practice. And yes, you will get better at it as you mature and gain increased knowledge of God (so pursue that). Your brain is new, bought and paid for, but like the rest of us, is still on this side of Heaven. We will not get to experience our fully perfect brain until the day we meet Jesus (I’m so happy I will be in my right mind at that moment!). We still must work at becoming smart, Christ-focused women who refuse to allow our minds to sucker us into our old thought habits.
When your mind begins to feel like a battlefield, realize that Christ won long ago and do not allow thoughts of defeat. Fill your mind with the weapon of His Word and grab ahold of the victory already given you by Jesus. Think as the new creation He has made you to be, new brain and all.