Tag Archives: Beth Moore

Beth Moore on misogyny, objectification and astonishing disesteem of women

 

Beth Moore.jpg
Photo Credit: Facebook Public Profile Picture Beth Moore Nederland

In case you’re not active on Twitter, I’ll tell you that tweets have been flying for a few months regarding a woman’s place and value in the gospel, and in our current society. Some of the most abashing comments come from mature, well-known leaders in the Christian community.

 

I’ve addressed this on Twitter and in past blog posts. Beth Moore has addressed this on Twitter several times, but today she took the time to post an open letter on the Living Proof Ministries blog.

Beth noticed a year and a half ago what many other men and women in Christian ministry were reading: “Then early October 2016 surfaced attitudes among some key Christian leaders that smacked of misogyny, objectification and astonishing disesteem of women and it spread like wildfire. It was just the beginning. I came face to face with one of the most demoralizing realizations of my adult life: Scripture was not the reason for the colossal disregard and disrespect of women among many of these men. It was only the excuse. Sin was the reason. Ungodliness.”

Beth opens her letter siting the reasons for speaking on the subject; a subject she planned not to speak about until she was on her death-bed. Be sure to click the link below to read her full article.

“This is where I cry foul and not for my own sake. Most of my life is behind me. I do so for sake of my gender, for the sake of our sisters in Christ and for the sake of other female leaders who will be faced with similar challenges. I do so for the sake of my brothers because Christlikeness is at stake and many of you are in positions to foster Christlikeness in your sons and in the men under your influence. The dignity with which Christ treated women in the Gospels is fiercely beautiful and it was not conditional upon their understanding their place.”

Beth continues on, telling about an encounter with a giant in the faith. This is a scenario sisters-in-Christ face day in and day out from some Christian brothers; married ones none-the-less. I’ve lost track of the times brothers didn’t keep eye contact with me because their eyes were busy looking my every curve up and down. Enough! We aren’t blind or naive; we know what you’re doing.

“About a year ago I had an opportunity to meet a theologian I’d long respected. I’d read virtually every book he’d written. I’d looked so forward to getting to share a meal with him and talk theology. The instant I met him, he looked me up and down, smiled approvingly and said, “You are better looking than _________________________________.” He didn’t leave it blank. He filled it in with the name of another woman Bible teacher.

We are not out to destroy men, take their place, or treat them like objects. They are not second class citizens, but neither are we. No one is! Beth agrees:

“I think I can speak for many of us when I say we are neither interested in reducing or seducing our brothers.”

Back to Twitter: It isn’t full of anti-woman rhetoric only. There are many men interjecting support, hope, words of affirmation and healing, and statements and questions of accountability to those who do not show the heart of Jesus to God’s daughters. Thank you!

Beth has also noticed: “The irony is that many of the men who will give consideration to my concerns do not possess a whit of the misogyny coming under the spotlight. For all the times you’ve spoken up on our behalf and for the compassion you’ve shown in response to “Me too,” please know you have won our love and gratitude and respect.”

Finally Beth ends with asking for, “forgiveness both from my sisters and my brothers. My acquiescence and silence made me complicit in perpetuating an atmosphere in which a damaging relational dynamic has flourished. I want to be a good sister to both genders. Every paragraph in this letter is toward that goal.”

Please take the time to read Beth’s complete letter: A Letter to My Brothers

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 3

Naghmeh Abedini photo
Naghmeh Abedini’s Facebook Profile pic

In How Do We Respond: Part 2 I worked off the premise that, “Domestic violence and abuse of any type is not a marital issue; it is an abuse issue.”

“The abuser needs healing.”

Now on to my reasoning for having the abuser obtain counseling without the presence or help of the spouse: The victim shares no responsibility in the abuser’s character, attitude or actions.

There is scriptural precedence for blame not being split down the middle.

Let’s consider Nabal and Abigail from I Samuel 25. Abagail was living in an abusive nightmare. And let’s make one thing clear: No woman deserves to be abused. Education, social standing, beauty, or lack thereof…nothing gives cause for a human to be treated with abuse yet we read of Nabal, an abusive husband to, Abigail, “an intelligent and beautiful woman.” The Bible describes Nabal as harsh and evil in his dealings. I Samuel 25:3. I understand a good deal about narcissistic personality disorder and will restate what I have read numerous times from Christian psychologists; Nabal was a narcissist.  He was utterly selfish, ungrateful, mean, sarcastic, arrogant, and lacked any amount of empathy.

An extremely wealthy Nabal refused David’s request to feed David’s 600 men. That was the hospitable custom of the day for travelers; especially since David and his men had been protecting Nabal’s workers from theft and harm during their stay in the desert. Thereafter, when David went to kill Nabal and the males who belonged to Nabal, he met Abigail riding her donkey on the road. She was a wise woman and was on her way to intercede with food and drinks, and to ask for forgiveness. I imagine she was thinking of her innocent family members; not Nabal. Abigail, “got off her donkey” and pleaded, “Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent.” After David listened to Abigail’s appeal, he was impressed by her and thanked her for keeping him from bloodshed that day.

Abigail showed immense courage; plus she was sensible, capable and persuasive. Being an abused woman DOES NOT mean you are weak, incapable, stupid, unattractive, boring in the bedroom, or insensible. Most likely you are strong. How else could you survive the abuse?  Nabal could have severely punished Abigail for her independent actions that went against the rules of marriage in those days. David and his men could have taken her life and continued on to massacre Nabal’s household. Yes, Abigail, was strong and courageous.

David was wise. He listened. He took extra time and effort to understand Abigail’s predicament. He did not hold Abigail responsible for her husband’s actions or tell her she held a portion of responsibility for his actions.  Neither did the Lord; in fact, when Abigail told Nabal what she had done, “He became like a stone.” Possibly he became so worked up that, “His heart failed him.” Ten days later the Lord took Nabal.

I can’t tell you how many abused women have hoped for such an ending. I would like to take a poll and find out for myself. That may sound terrible but I’m just being honest. The flip side of this is the numerous women who were in total despair, saw no hope, and imagined there was no way out; choosing instead to end their lives with suicide.

 

Now let us take a look at Lot and his wife in Genesis 19.  This is the account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; the city which archaeologists claim to have found in the last few years.

Sodom and Gomorrah is a stern, wise warning that indulgence, not restrained by the Holy Spirit in us, arouses lust and can leave us continually wanting more. Lot, his wife and their family were told to, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back.” Lot’s wife disobeyed the urgent command and looking back, turned into a pillar of salt. Did the Lord judge Lot by his wife’s actions? No. Lot’s wife made an independent decision and received the foretold consequence for her actions.

Now we will look at Joseph in Genesis 39. He acted honorably with truth yet Potiphar’s wife persuasively lied resulting in Joseph’s imprisonment.  I believe Potiphar probably knew his wife was lying and that is why he, “Burned with anger” when he heard the accusation. Because Potiphar’s entire household, including slaves and servants, heard the charge; he was forced to take swift action.  Potiphar chose not to have Joseph executed; in fact, Potiphar (Captain of the guard a.k.a.; prison warden) still trusted and respected Joseph and saw fit to place Joseph in charge of everyone, and responsible for everything done in the prison.

This is often what women go through in joint counseling when the husband spins a different story. They play the role of victim and the wife gets scolded; leaving  her isolated, in despair and in an emotional prison because the professional they trusted to see through the grand acting is blind, deaf and dumb to his antics. Her husband looks great to others around them, and she hurts and grieves horrifically behind closed doors in her home. It is common for the wife to be disbelieved; leaving her beaten down.  The wife may feel like the counselor just dug her grave so her husband could bury her alive.

Another problem women tend to have is that some male counselors refuse to call the husband on the carpet over his abuse in front of the wife due to the patriarchal system to which some Christians adhere. In such cases the counselor will reprimand the wife for her desperation or for showing emotional responses to her deep marital wounds. A patriarchal social system can be defined as a system where men are in authority over women in all aspects of society; a false sense of male entitlement. This system employed by an abuser can lead to further verbal, emotional, physical and sexual abuse in the home; silencing the victim. We need people who will hear and,

 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.
 Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.” Proverbs 31:8-9.

Many in our own American culture seem to hold a view of women as substandard beings. Case in point: Google all the revolting, insensitive, demeaning statements presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, says about women. We don’t need him standing at the top of that slippery slope encouraging other men to join him for the ride.

 “Women, our gender will not flourish in a political climate where we are objectified OR deified.” –Beth Moore

The church needs to educate itself on domestic abuse. There are women you see in church every Sunday who are sitting next to their abuser. She has done nothing wrong and yet most counselors would give her at least a gentle rebuke for saying anything negative about her husband when she desperately needs someone to hold the abuser accountable. A gentle rebuke for the abuser serves no purpose; in fact it is a nauseating jest for the woman, as nothing changes. Only strong accountability by the church and a counselor who specializes in rehabilitating abusers will help.

To read a chilling account of a husband and wife who both lacked integrity and who were equally paired in their deceptive ways, duly receiving the same consequence, read Acts 5:1-11. This lesson is not about marital abuse but rather marital co-conspiracy. Peter exposed their fraud of lying to the Holy Spirit and embezzlement.  The punishment was proportionate to both; death.

Isaiah 1:17 reads, “Learn to do good; seek justice; reprove the ruthless; defend the orphan; plead for the widow.” Women in this situation are widows; sometimes they are married widows because their husbands have emotionally and spiritually divorced them.

When abuse revelations come forth from a woman in ministry, or she is married to a spouse in ministry, or is publicly well-known—few are interested in hearing the truth of her suffering, and fewer are willing to risk supporting her. It’s uncomfortable to hear. Unless you are living it, it is difficult to imagine such behavior is possible from someone who has been held in such high regard. Although the husband has emotionally and spiritually left the wife he pours on the charisma, charming smiles, spiritual talk, and engaging conversation to outsiders.

“I fear many of us have confused Christendom with Christ. We equate Christian institutions and organizations with the Son of God. They are not the same. Christendom is not even the same as the true body of Christ. Jesus Himself told us that. He said there are tares among the wheat, wolves among the sheep, and whitewashed humans posing as believers — sometimes in leadership. We long to be comfortable somewhere, to fit in, to feel at home, and so we let ourselves think Christendom is safe and fail to see and assess and discern. Instead we listen and follow, or we remain silent. Many poor sheep have unknowingly followed a blind guide and landed in a pit. Christendom, like all institutions or organizations, tries to protect itself. If you doubt that, just expose a case of child sexual abuse by a leader and watch what happens.  Christendom has used Scripture to support or hide slavery, racism, domestic violence, and other cruelties our God hates. I fear Christendom today has become less interested in truth and more interested in power and protecting that power. Many have acquired fame, money, status, reputation, and kingdoms. At the same time we are steeped in pornography, marriages are failing in large numbers, the next generation is turning away, and we tolerate leaders in our organizations and pulpits who feed off the sheep. We have had a lot of recent headlines about Christian leaders and Christian systems that look nothing like our Lord. Christendom is not Christ.”¹   – Diane Langberg  

 

This reminds me of when leaders were waiting to see if Jesus would challenge Sabbath teachings by healing a man, (Mark 3) and a woman (Luke 13) on that day. Jesus did heal the needy man and woman, and he told the leaders that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. I believe the same applies to marriage.

The church must choose to love people more than they love things such as the institution of marriage. My commitment to my marriage covenant, and my false belief that divorce was wrong in all cases, kept me in a very sick and dangerous marriage for too long. You cannot make your husband love you, or reason with him to stop the abuse.

Wives in abusive relationships long for their abuser to be reasonable.  This will not happen. He’ll justify every offensive word and action. His refusal is the headquarters of his control. Nothing is more frustrating, or more difficult, than living with an unfair, unreasonable, and self-centered abuser.

I have learned that the percentage of abusive men who actually change is close to nil. It usually only escalates. This is a sad fact. It isn’t hopeless if the husband wants to work through the dysfunction because he, “Can do all things through Christ who strengthens” him. We know our God is the God who makes impossibilities possible.

Regardless of an abuser’s cruelty, selfishness, deceit, unfaithfulness, addiction, and/or weakness,—it can’t trump God’s strength.

Prayer for Naghmeh is essential during this time. I hope many more choose to cover her in prayer.

Naghmeh is handling the marital separation with strength that comes only from God, and I admire how she is taking her stand quietly, working hopefully, not bashing her husband, and yet preserving her own dignity.

 

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¹ http://byfaithonline.com/suffering-and-the-heart-of-god/?platform=hootsuite

 

MORE ARTICLES ON NAGHMEH ABEDINI:

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 1 March 1, 2016

Naghmeh Abedini: How Do We Respond? Part 2 March 3, 2106

Naghmeh Abedini’s Leaked Letter December 8, 2015

She Said He Said: Naghmeh and Saeed Abedini February 2, 2016

 

 

 

 

Expect Trials to Multiply

Feed your faith

In my previous blog I shared about my late night of crying so hard that I broke a blood vessel in my eye while praying over a prolonged spiritual battle. A circumstance I was in out of obedience to God. I told God I was finished fighting and I meant it…unless He showed me otherwise. I remembered Hebrews 5:7 “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” Jesus was intense with deep emotion. Jesus was not guarding his heart, soul, mind and strength from his heavenly Father. No! He was showing exceeding sorrow. God considered this passion reverent submission to His plan.

Reverent. Humble. Obedient.

Yes, there isn’t anyone else I would be comfortable showing this much emotional confusion, need and turmoil to. No one else could handle it on any level. It is only God’s opinion that matters and He is the one I want to obey…because I trust Him. God does not become frustrated with or tired of my raw emotions. He considers them reverent submission.

The next morning when I woke up I rolled over and picked up my devotional book turning to page two. I just began reading this devotional the day before. I like to keep devotional books around the house that I can read for a quick pick-me-up during the day when I need more of God and this particular morning I needed a stimulant just to muster up the strength to crawl out of bed.

I read:

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EXPECT TRIALS TO MULTIPLY

God does not put heavy burdens on weak shoulders. God educates and tests our faith by trials that increase in proportion to our faith. God expects us to do adult work and to endure adult afflictions only after we have reached a mature status in Christ Jesus. Therefore, beloved, expect your trials to multiply as you proceed toward heaven.

Do not think that as you grow in grace your path will become smoother and the sky calmer and clearer. Quite the contrary. As God gives you greater skill as a soldier of the cross, He will send you on more difficult missions. As He more fully equips your ship to sail in storms, He will send you on longer voyages to more boisterous seas, so that you may honor Him and increase in holy confidence.

You would think that in Abraham’s old age – after he had come to the land of Beulah, after the birth of Isaac, and especially after the expulsion of Ishmael – he would have had a time of rest. But “it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham” (Genesis 22:1). Let Abraham’s story warn us to never plan on a rest from trials this side of the grave.

The trumpet still plays the notes of war. You cannot sit down and put the victory wreath on your head. You do not have a crown. You still must wear the helmet and carry the sword. You must watch, pray, and fight. Expect your last battle to be most difficult, for the enemy’s fiercest charge is reserved for the end of the day.

*Beside Still Waters: Words of Comfort for the Soul. C.H. Spurgeon, Edited by Roy H. Clarke, p2

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Watch, pray and fight.” Fight was the very thing I made clear I no longer wanted to do unless God told me I must. When God answers my prayers specifically through scriptures, a Bible study, Christian book/author or a godly person, I know it is not a coincidence and I better take note of it. Rarely do I receive an answer this quickly but God knew my heart, my need and my state of mind. God was not removing or ending my suffering but I knew He would give me His grace for each new day.

Well, I cannot say my soul was comforted but it was resolved. I took note of expecting my last battle to be the most difficult because it meant the situation could intensify. I knew better than to ask, “What else can go wrong?” because there is always something else. I knew God would honor and bless my submission to keep fighting even though I was not complying with a smile on my face or a joyful song in my heart. I knew the transformation and blessings might not happen here on earth so I was not looking around every corner or new day for the answered prayer to be placed in my lap. Life is not about me and what I think I deserve or do not deserve. I deserve nothing. I deserve death but Christ took care of the justice I deserved, on the cross, and made me worthy. All my sins and failures are paid for and eternal life in heaven is my destiny. Life is about agape; loving God and loving others. I may have to wait until heaven to see the big picture and that’s all right…because I am pretty certain my obedience will be GREATLY rewarded and paid out in a jewel for my crown. I think part of the reason I was allowed this battle was from praying years ago to be allowed a crown of splendid jewels to toss at Jesus’ feet.

There have been a couple of battles where I had to bite my tongue when I found myself wanting to tell someone, with a smile on my face and a twinkle in my eye, “Thanks! I know you meant that for bad but you just earned me another jewel for my crown.” In this way I can keep some humor in my heart during the heat of the battle.

A few years earlier God had impressed upon my heart that this particular spiritual battle would grow worse before it became better. I have always held on to the ‘better’.

I knew I would need to collect my spiritual manna each morning. My, “What is it?” I have never known what it is and I often have no idea how I will endure another day of watching, praying and fighting. All I can say is that God’s manna is super natural and it is always enough. Occasionally I believe I didn’t collect enough morning manna to make it all the way through the day but God has a track record of seeing me through my tough hours one hundred percent (100%) of the time.

That day was no exception. I did crawl out of bed, care for and teach my children, prepare my home for facilitating a mother/daughter Bible study, prepare dinner and eat with my family plus found a few moments of time alone with my husband before guests began arriving for our next Beth Moore Bible study, Daniel: Lives of Integrity – Words of Prophecy.

Even as I type out that day’s schedule I realize only God could have given me the energy and clarity of mind to get through that day. He’s good like that. God delights in the invitation to be involved in our daily lives. I’ll gladly take more of Him!

“There is only one group of people who don’t have any problems…

Yep, and they are no longer breathing air either.”

– Michelle Teague

Part 1: Weebles Wobble But They Don’t Fall Down, previous blog

Lyrics:

So faithful
So constant
So loving and so true
So powerful in all You do

You fill me
You see me
You know my every move
You love for me to sing to You

I know that You are for me
I know that You are for me
I know that You will never
Forsake me in my weakness

And I know that You have come down
Even if to write upon my heart
To remind me who You are

So patient
So gracious
So merciful and true
So wonderful in all You do

You fill me
You see me
You know my every move
And You love for me to sing to You

And Lord, I know that You are for me
I know that You are for me
I know that You will never
Forsake me in my weakness

And I know that You have come down
Even if to write upon my heart
To remind me

I know that You are for me
I know that You are for me
I know that You will never
Forsake me in my weakness

And I know that You have come down
Even if to write upon my heart
To remind me who You are

You remind me

I know that You are for me
I know that You are for me
I know that You will never
Forsake me in my weakness

And I know that You have come down
Even if to write upon my heart
To remind me who You are

Proof positive

Read the accounts of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-44, Luke 22: 41-44). What is Jesus saying to you about being real and honest when you pray to God?

Tell God you want your relationship with Him to grow deeper.

Be real when you pray because God knows the real you anyway. He knows your strengths, weaknesses, failures and sins. Don’t try to be someone you are not. Don’t pretend and don’t try to hide how you feel or what you are thinking. God already knows who you are so just be yourself when you approach Him.

Jesus gave us examples for prayer. Don’t wear masks or withhold feelings – God can handle all of it. God heard the full range of emotions from Jesus, our example, so that we will know what is acceptable and pleasing to Him.

 

Toxic Tuesday: Identity Declaration

Toxic Tuesday biochem hazard smallI’m sure you have heard a pastor, teacher or professional counselor talk about reprogramming the old tapes in your head with new tapes; removing the negative thoughts, bad words spoken over you, and perhaps lies told about you. For the sake of keeping up with technology lets throw the tapes out and hook up to iTunes with some Beats wireless headphones.

When we keep our eyes and ears fixed on God and His word we find our listening experience personal and real. The Beats’ brand advertises to the secular world what God alone does for us on a spiritual level—similar to Beats, God cancels out the external noise making claims over our lives and makes it mute to our heart, soul, mind and strength while He speaks good words over us.

Do you have toxic people in your life? Are you involved in difficult relationships or impossible circumstances? If so, I’m certain you need to hear words of truth and encouragement.

Here is some good medicine for reprogramming the negative thoughts, or tapes, in your head. Don’t consider or believe the lies you have heard. Place the Beats headphones over your ears and listen to the declaration below. Memorize the words so you can speak truth over yourself when toxic opinions, hurtful words, or the out right lies of other people attempt to take over your thought life.

This truth applies to both women and men.

Beth Moore, Living Proof Live, September 2014
Beth Moore, Living Proof Live, September 2014

Click here to download this song to your computer from the Living Proof blog.

Let me leave you today with personalized scriptures to pray out loud over yourself or your situation.

How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them! Psalm 139:17 (NIV)

I demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and I take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

Thank you, Jesus, that Your yoke is easy and Your burden is light. Matthew 11:30 (NIV)

… whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—I will think about such things. Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Thank  you, Lord. You are my strength and my defense;
    You have become my victory. Psalm 118:14

Tell the ungodly opinions and beliefs to take the issue to your Heavenly Father and to vanish from you in the name of Jesus!

Father, Your word says, “You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.” Thank you. I receive Your peace. Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)

 

 

Flashing Billboards on My Forehead

TOXIC TUESDAY warning

“I have learned that faith means trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse.”

Philip Yancey

Conflicts: Dysfunctional. Abusive. Boundaryless. They can happen to anyone including Jesus followers who daily spend purposeful time with God through reading the scriptures, in-depth Bible study and consistent prayer. You may be a godly person and a good neighbor, boss, employee, co-worker, parent, spouse, child, sibling, relative or friend finding yourself in an unwanted and uncalled for difficult relationship or circumstance.

I have had relationships in which I interceded for the other person through prayer by asking Jesus to heal them of their dysfunction, mental illness or sin. Most scriptural records of Jesus healing a person were instant, complete and permanent. Even though the person I prayed for had not asked for the help or healing and I could not physically take them to Jesus; I could spiritually bring them before Jesus.

I have previously witnessed Jesus provide in ways that seemed impossible to me relationally, emotionally, spiritually, physically and even legally. He is so like that. When I have been at my wit’s end believing there was no possible way, no hope, no healing, no relief, no safety to overcome an obstacle; Jesus did the impossible. My mind had not previously conceived what He chose to do on my behalf. It was so out of the box that only He could have done it. There lies the beauty; Jesus has no box and I cannot put Him in one. Whoop — whoop!

That being exclaimed, I must also add that I have known Jesus long enough to realize not all prayers are fulfilled the way I wish, in my timing, or sometimes they may not be answered in my lifetime and I know I’ll have to wait until heaven to see how it is eventually answered. My heart may sometimes doubt Jesus heard my prayer but my mind always knows better. He hears, remembers and acts. Always.

If you use Pinterest, the online bulletin/pin board, you have likely read quotes about trusting your heart: “There is no instinct like that of the heart.” “Trust your heart. What is true feels good. What is false causes doubt.” – Monica De Liz. “Always listen to your heart.” “When you can’t believe your eyes you can always trust your heart.”  “Trust your heart and you will be with the one you love” -Aunt Wu.

Here is what trumps all these quotes: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV). Our hearts need to be established in Christ first and even then scripture tells us not to trust in our heart, but with all of our heart, trust in God. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” Proverbs 3:5 (NIV).

I knew Jesus was capable of healing the person I was praying for. Scripture told me of His great power and; moreover, scripture states the power is for us. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,” Ephesians 1:18-20 (NIV). I have longed for this kind of power to be exerted in to the heart, soul, mind and strength of someone I knew on multiple occasions. The bottom line was they had to want it and believe Him for it. When they did not —I was not quick to give up on them. I’m stubborn like that.

Often when I sense God has released me from relationally reaching out to someone and has shown me the exit door from a dysfunctional, abusive or boundaryless relationship; I usually look for a detour and go back for the person. I find myself wondering, “Have I done everything I can?” I do not want to question if there was possibly something else that would have worked. I continue to pray and ask if there is please, another way. I must know I did everything I could and when I look back; have no regrets. If I am going to error I can live with erring in faith but I could not live with erring in what was convenient. I am capable of missing the proverbial boat when it comes to discerning the voice, the will, of God and I want to make certain I clearly understood his heart and will for this concern.

On the other hand, I have a history of allowing anger (toxicity) to be taken out on me so when it comes up in a relationship it feels natural but I know God is calling me to recognize and respond to it in a biblical way. This is anything but easy for me.

Sometime I imagine I have a flashing sign on my forehead that reads, “Easy to Manipulate: Free Test Try” or perchance “Bounaryless: Trespass without caution.” God keeps the lessons in these areas coming at a steady pace and He is determined to teach me how to soar by handling the issue without becoming nervous, shaky, lightheaded, heart pounding out of my chest or; as in my most recent lesson, feeling like Icy Hot was rubbed on my chest. I never before experienced this sensation during a difficult confrontation and fortunately was able to laugh at myself when the conversation had finished. Icy Hot — seriously — I never knew!

Thankfully, God is a patient teacher who does not give me a failing grade. He just keeps teaching me new applications and giving me new situations in which to work them out. God has also given me a godly, humorous private tutor who happens to be an Ace when it comes to practical application. God is very serious about me learning this lesson and passing on to you what I learn. I must add that these lessons are not easy and are sometimes painful. To quote Beth Moore from a lesson in Daniel: Lives of Integrity, “You want to learn this lesson in the classroom and not on a field trip.” I imagine I have more field trips logged than the average student.

In an upcoming post I will refer to toxic relationships, or what the Bible refers to as relationships with fools. Until then; if you, like me, have a flashing billboard on your forehead — turn it off! And keep clear of Icy Hot.