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Celebrate your womanhood! God loves women and men equally: He does not love males more! God is not biased for men over women. Throughout history, women have been denied the equal rights and freedoms of men. This viewpoint of unequal status has often rested on misinterpretations of the Bible. While the Old Testament does indeed appear in some places to sanction the unequal treatment of women, analysts have repeatedly misinterpreted and misrepresented the implications of the Old Testament provisions for Christians who, through Christ’s grace, are freed from the old law. Furthermore, although early Christians initially embraced the cause of gender equality and reunification through Christ, this cause was abandoned as the growing Christian church confronted the political challenges associated with its own expanding power. Even today, the Christian churches almost all fail to return to the God-ordained principle of gender neutrality through spiritual unity in Christ.

Misinterpretations of the Garden of Eden

It has been observed, “For two millennia now the Judeo-Christian tradition has placed man a little lower than the angels and woman a little higher than the demons.”1 From early in Christian history, misinterpretations and misrepresentations of the Garden of Eden story in particular have played prominent roles in the effort to deny women equal freedom and rights of men.2 These traditional misinterpretations and misrepresentations have held, in part, that woman was created as a mere “helpmate” and that women were therefore destined to be dependent upon and inferior to men.3 In these and other respects, the conventional (mis)readings have emphasized the supposed unlike and unequal traits of the two sexes, further exalting man as the “head” of humanity and deprecating woman as the “body” of humankind.⁠4 Perhaps even worse, the Garden of Eden story has been repeatedly misinterpreted and misrepresented over the ages to cast the woman as a being driven by curiosity rather than intelligence.5 According to these misplaced allegations, the woman employed her powers of seduction lure the man to join her in sin and folly, thereby bringing unbounded suffering to all humanity.6

Although the woman becomes a casualty of circumstances set in place before her arrival, she evinces a number of positive traits that are downplayed or denied by traditional misrepresentations. To begin with, a careful exegesis of the story reveals the woman is a decidedly active player in the unfolding drama. As such, she actually differs immediately and markedly from the “docile, chaste, and homebound” Jewess who is seems to be present throughout much of the rest of the Hebrew Bible.7 Hardly a passive and submissive figure, the woman cannot be content merely to wander around the garden.8 Instead, she actively pursues the deeper meanings of life and, rather than artless falling victim to the devious serpent, seems to carefully consider what the snake tells her and to evaluate the desirability of the fruit of the forbidden tree.9 She then decides to eat the fruit because she saw that it “was good for food and pleasing to the eye,” and because of the promise that, upon eating it, “your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”10

Revealingly too, the Genesis account also suggests that the woman does become more like God than her male companion in at least one critical respect: the ability to produce new life.11 This godlike capacity is, of course, tarnished by serious punishment: “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children.”12 Yet God never threatens to take this precious godlike ability away from the woman.13 For his part, the man is so amazed by the woman’s godlike capacity to create new life that, even though he has just received the undoubtedly devastating news of his new mortal status—“dust you are and to dust you will return”—he is moved to name his wife Eve “because she would become the mother of all the living.” 14 It is also revealing that the woman’s punishment is meted out to her in manner that is rather different from the manner in which the man and the snake have their respective punishments meted out to them. The serpent is “Cursed … above all livestock and all wild animals!”15 and the man is solemnly advised that the very ground is cursed because of him.16 By sharp contrast, the woman’s punishment is stated without preamble and with decidedly less emphasis.

Unequal Treatments in the Old Testament

Despite the rather positive beginnings that become obvious through a more careful reading of the much-misinterpreted Garden of Eden story in Genesis, later parts of the Old Testament do appear to reflect significant biases for men over women. Yet these biases should not be read as a reflection of the will of God. Instead, the biases are attributable in part to the fact that as ancient Israel developed into a more complex society it was marked by a more gendered division of labor, power, space, and of society in general.17 With time, the ever-sharper gendered divisions of duties and responsibilities translated into ever-deeper gender inequalities.18

These inequalities were reinforced by a Hebrew Bible (and by other religious and cultural sources) that presented decidedly restrictive and oppressive interpretations and portrayals of what it meant to be a “Jewess.”19 It is important to realize that the Hebrew Bible was concerned primarily with theological and religious transformations, rather than with social reforms.20 As such, the Old Testament scriptures generally spend little time questioning the fairness and justice of patriarchy—or, for that matter, of slavery and the various other forms of institutionalized social inequity that ancient Israel inherited from other ancient Near Eastern civilizations.21 These articulations of Jewish femininity were meant to stand in direct opposition to the supposedly active, sexual, and worldly gentile woman of Hebrew stereotypes.22 A heavy premium on women’s marital chastity became a key dimension around which the ancient Jewish society distinguished itself from its neighbors.23

In the Hebrew Bible, women’s affiliations to Israelite society were closely connected with considerations of marital fidelity.24 Jewish women were deprived of control over their own honor and sexuality, even as fathers, husbands, rabbis, and emperors positioned themselves as the guardians of marital chastity.25 Upon marriage, the Jewish husband came to be vested with full powers over the person of his wife, gaining exclusive access to her body.26 Never having enjoyed authority over her own sexuality to begin with, the married Jewess was further doomed to stricter confinement to domestic space than was the case even for many of her (disempowered) contemporaries in neighboring societies.27

The Old Testament appears to prescribe harsh treatments that seriously deny women the rights and freedom extended to men. Yet despite prescriptions that appear to reinforce especially severe forms of patriarchy, it is possible to argue that the Hebrew Bible does not justify subordinate social roles for women or sanction the position that women are inherently inferior to men. In fact, although the Old Testament does not set out to challenge and overturn patriarchy (or other institutions such as slavery), it does clearly empathize with women and other downtrodden elements of society.28 As subordinate and peripheral figures in the Hebrew Bible, women may even be read as embodiments of Israel itself alongside the more powerful empires of the ancient Near East.29 In this respect, the subordinate and relatively powerless women of the biblical texts actually reflect and represent integral aspects of ancient Israel’s own self-image.30

Freedom from the Old Law through Christ

Fortunately for Christian women and men, the hideously unequal and unjust Old Testament provisions were triumphantly overturned by a Savior who “set aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations.”31 Christ himself clearly rejected the gender biases inherent and often blatant in the old system of laws. Jesus revealed, for instance, that Moses had penned the old law allowing a man to dismiss his wife simply by issuing a certificate of divorce and sending her away “because your hearts were hard.”32 Thus, the unjust laws had existed not because they reflected God’s will for inequity between men and women, but because they were all that suited a society filled with people of hardened hearts. By referring specifically to Genesis 1:27, Jesus made clear that his era reflected a return to the more perfect, egalitarian conditions that prevailed “at the beginning of creation [when] God ‘made them male and female.’”33 Jesus also references Genesis 2:24, “‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh,’” to further emphasize the fact that his reign overthrows the gendered inequality and injustice inherent in the old marriage laws.34 By reiterating that the married couple “are no longer two, but one flesh” joined together by God,35 Jesus made clear that men and women entered marriage on entirely equal terms. After all, how could an entity that existed as one inseparable “flesh” be divided into separate parts with unequal rights and privileges?

Christian women and men are also freed of the curse of gender inequity by the fact that Christ came to earth as “the culmination of the law,” overturning whatever injustices might have existed in the law and ushering a new age in which there is “righteousness for everyone who believes.”36 Christ gave Himself not for those who, by virtue of gender or social standing, wielded privilege and power in earthly society. Instead, Christ graciously and freely gave Himself “to all who did receive him.”37 Christ grants to all “those who believe in his name … the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”38 By placing their faith in Christ, Christian women and men in turn “also die to the law through the body of Christ,” so that they “might belong to another: to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.39 Throughout their previous confinement to “the realm of the flesh,” men and women had been bound to “the sinful passions aroused by the law.”40 Yet “by dying to what once bound us,” those who have placed their faith in Christ are wondrously and gloriously “released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”41

Having freed them of the burdens of the cumbersome and unjust old laws, Christ challenges his followers to comply with just two key commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”42 Once Christ’s glorious message was fully revealed to them, Jesus’ first apostles also recognized well that women have equal freedom and rights before God. This fact becomes obvious, for instance, in events surrounding the coming of the Holy Spirit to the apostles at Pentecost. Once they were filled with the Holy Spirit, the apostles began speaking in diverse tongues that the Spirit empowered them to speak.43 “Utterly amazed” and bewildered, “perplexed” members of the multilingual audience of “Jews from every nation under heaven” pondered the meaning of this unprecedented development.44 Yet Peter explained to the fascinated and concerned audiences that they were witnessing the fulfillment of the prediction by the prophet Joel (see Joel 2:28-32) that the Lord would “pour out his Spirit on all people” so that “sons and daughters [alike] will prophesy.”45 Further quoting from Joel, Peter acknowledges the fulfillment of God’s promise that: “Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.”46

Banished forever were the defunct gendered division of rights and freedoms as Christian women and men alike were empowered to declare the wonders of God in the many and diverse tongues of those who hunger for His hopeful message. The people had been “held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed,” once that faith was revealed through Christ, but now Christians were finally freed from the restrictive “guardian” that was the often unfair and unjust law of the past.47 The old distinctions relating to of gender and other social constructs were rendered irrelevant as Christians of all types are brought together through faith in Christ Jesus. Once they are baptized into Christ and thereby clothed themselves with Christ, true Christians come to realize that: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”48

Early Christianity and the Movement away from Equality

How, then, has subsequent Christian history been marked by the continued denial of equal freedom and rights to women? How is it that even today women continue to be locked out of church leadership? Again, the problem is that, for much of the Christian era, people have continued to misinterpret and misrepresent the Bible—Old and New Testament alike—to “justify” unbiblical prejudices against women leadership and gender equality. Although Christians initially strove to live according to Christ’s fair and just standards, the pressures of life in the material world soon weakened their commitments to Christ’s perfect standards.

As Christianity began to take shape during the late Hellenistic era—and particularly during the period immediately after Rome consolidated its imperial power, there were immense challenges against the traditional roles of men and women in society.49 Longstanding distinctions between what was “properly” feminine versus what was “properly” masculine were seriously undermined as they became the object of heated debate and controversy.50 This pervasive phenomenon of “gender dissonance” had radical wide-ranging implications because in the ancient world “male” and “female” had a number of “sweeping metonymic associations” that extended well beyond today’s understandings of gender.51 Thus, “female” and “male” functioned in Hellenistic thought, not only (as is the case today) as psycho-sexual categories, but also as representations of the poles of a range of binary oppositions between mind versus body, rational versus irrational, and active versus passive—to cite but a few.52

Powerfully impacted as they were by the gender dissonance phenomenon, early Christians widely and persistently followed Jesus’ lead in embracing the image of what some have termed “the Androgyne”—that is, the first human of Genesis 1:27 who was created both male and female.53 Through the figure of the Androgyne, the early Christians embraced the unification of opposites—and particularly the unification of the opposite sexes—as a principal symbol of their salvation.54 Whereas the conventional distinctions between male and female were regarded as critical symbols of the existing order of the material world, the efforts to challenge and modify these conventional role differences became for the early Christians a powerful symbol of their criticism—or even of their total rejection—of that existing order.55 By adopting and championing the figure of the Androgyne to their eschatological sacrament of baptism, the Christians declared, in effect, that there was no longer male and female for the old world had passed away and, behold! the new has come.56

Yet as Christianity became more mainstream following the consolidation of Rome’s empire, Christian leaders found it increasingly difficult, for political, reasons to uphold the reunification of female and male.57 Reunification of male and female became symbolic, less of redemption through Christ than of “metaphysical rebellion.”58 Rejecting gendered conventions became an act of “cosmic audacity” for “spirituals” who sought, above all else, to abandon the community and the world for the sake of subjective transcendence.59 Confronted with such challenges, Christian leaders such as Paul insisted on preserving at least some symbols of the existing and differentiated order.60 This position helps to explain Paul’s odd concern, for instance, with the appropriate headgear for men and women while they pray to God.61 It is nonetheless important to note that from Paul’s perspective these symbols had, by the time of his writing, lost their ultimate significance because this world was already “passing away.”62 For Paul, women and men already operated from positions of equality because they were members of a community formed by the Spirit that belonged to the end of days.63

Yet as time passed and the end of days presaged by Paul failed to materialize, Christians became reluctant to persist with the equality accorded to women in the early Christian missions. Although the rhetoric of baptismal reunification of female and male persisted for a while, a conservative reaction to previous efforts to end gender stratification took hold.64 As Christianity moved to the mainstream of Rome’s expanding imperial power, the previous, biblically grounded, commitment to the notion of gender equality in Christ proved “too dangerously ambivalent” for the increasingly powerful church.65 In time, the once bold declaration that in Christ female and male ceased to exist faded to become nothing more than an “innocuous metaphor.”66 Nearly two millennia later, the Christian churches seem still to be awaiting the advent of the Christ-ordained era of gender equality on earth.

Endnotes

1 Adrien Janis Bledstein, “The Genesis of Humans: The Garden of Eden Revisited,” Judaism 26, no. 2 (1977): 187.

2 Ibid., 187-192.

3 Ibid., 187-189.

4 Ibid., 187.

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

7 Esther Fuchs, “Gender in Jewish Antiquity: Biblical Texts, Rabbinic Interpretations, and Feminist Interventions,” NWSA Journal 16, no. 2 (2004): 197.

8 Rooke, “Feminist Criticism of the Old Testament,” 166.

9 Gen. 3:2-6.

10 Gen. 3:5-6.

11 Rooke, “Feminist Criticism of the Old Testament,” 166.

12 Gen. 3:16.

13 Rooke, “Feminist Criticism of the Old Testament,” 166-167.

14 Gen. 3:19-20.

15 Gen. 3:14.

16 Gen. 3:17.

17 Avraham Faust, “Burnished Pottery and Gender Hierarchy in Iron Age Israelite Society,” Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 15, no. 1 (2002): 53, 66.

18 Ibid.

19 Fuchs, “Gender in Jewish Antiquity,” 197-198.

20 Ibid.

21 Ibid.

22 Ibid.

23 Ibid.

24 Ibid.

25 Ibid.

26 Fuchs, “Gender in Jewish Antiquity,” 197-198.

27 Fuchs, “Gender in Jewish Antiquity,” 197-198.

28 Fuchs, “Gender in Jewish Antiquity,” 197-198.

29 Ibid.

30 Ibid.

31 Eph. 2:15.

32 Mk. 10:2-5.

33 Mk. 10:6.

34 Mk. 10:7-8.

35 Mk. 10:8-9.

36 Rom. 10:4.

37 Jn. 1:12-13.

38 Jn. 1:12-13.

39 Rom. 7:4.

40 Rom. 7:5.

41 Rom. 7:6.

42 Matt. 22:37-40.

43 Acts 2:4.

44 Acts 2:5-12.

45 Acts 2:16-17.

46 Acts 2:18.

47 Gal. 3:23-25.

48 Gal. 3:23-25.

49 Austin Busch, “The Figure of Eve in Romans 7:5-25,” Biblical Interpretation 12, no. 1 (2004): 1; Wayne A. Meeks, “The Image of the Androgyne: Some Uses of a Symbol in Earliest Christianity,” History of Religions Vol. 13, no. 3 (1974): 206.

50 Meeks, “Image of the Androgyne,” 207.

51 Busch, “The Figure of Eve,” 1.

52 Busch, “The Figure of Eve,” 1.

53 Busch, “The Figure of Eve,” 1; Meeks, “Image of the Androgyne,” 165-170.

54 Busch, “The Figure of Eve,” 1; Meeks, “Image of the Androgyne,” 165-170.

55 Meeks, “Image of the Androgyne,” 207.

56 Ibid.

57 Ibid.

58 Ibid.

59 Ibid.

60 Ibid., 208.

61 1 Cor. 11:7-16.

62 Meeks, “Image of the Androgyne,” 208.

63 Ibid.

64 Ibid.

65 Ibid.

66 Ibid.

 

Big Beginnings

Have you ever started something and then you didn’t finish it well? I recently cleaned out a big storage box in my garage. There, in a shoebox, I found the embroidery project I had started years ago.

I remember wanting to embroider my pillow cases with custom designs. It seemed so easy and fun. I had seen gorgeous samples and I thought it was a good idea. So I purchased the supplies, got the instructions, and started.

It was a big beginning, but as the work continued and obstacles started to appear, my progress got slower and slower. The thread was knotted. The design was not right. The needles hurt by fingers. Eventually, I just give up and put that whole embroidery project into a shoebox and stuck in on the shelf.

Building a Strong Foundation

That’s exactly what Jesus is teaching us with the parable in Luke 14:28-30 (The Message): “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’”

On the surface Jesus is talking about building a house, but he is really talking about building a life. People start things all the time, but often they didn’t have a vision, or understand the cost to complete the vision. When you don’t have solid plans, you end up with a structure, a life, that doesn’t match your vision. You might have some reluctance about rethinking your life … I already raised my family, I don’t have children, I’m comfortable where I am. All of these thoughts are stumbling blocks to your future!

You are building your life, day by day, on each choice you make. I know that is an overwhelming thought, but let me tell you something, It Doesn’t Have To Be! You just need to make sure your thoughts and decisions are focused on where you want to go! My Dad used to say, “You don’t have a problem, only a decision.” That is true of every decision we face.

New Beginnings

Today is your new beginning. Today you are taking control of your life, your home, and your leadership. I know you can live the life you’ve always dreamed about!

I’ve heard it from every woman I’ve gone shopping with. When we get in the dressing room and try on that bathing suit or dress, we stare in the mirror, groan, and say, “I DON’T LIKE HOW I LOOK IN THAT MIRROR.”

Mirrors are a part of EVERY woman’s life! We start looking in reflective surfaces as babies, fascinated by what we see looking back. We look in them as little girls playing dress-up, imagining what our lives will be like. We look in them as teenagers, comparing ourselves to the other girls in our class. We come to terms with what we see, some of us loving the woman in the mirror, others lamenting their perceived flaws.

Women even used mirrors in the Bible! Exodus 38:8 says, “Moreover, he made the laver of bronze with its base of bronze, from the mirrors of the serving women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting.” Now these weren’t clear, glass mirrors like those we are use today. The polished stone or brass worked like our modern mirrors, reflecting slightly distorted features, giving an inexact representation of the face. But thousands of years ago, we know one thing for certain, even then women loved mirrors!

I use a mirror every day, and I’m guessing you do too. Depending on the mirror you are looking into, the reflection of who you see is shaping the person you are!

Whether we realize it or not, each of us looks into mirrors all around us, and they are reflecting our image back to us.

4 Mirrors We Look in Every Day of Our Lives

 

The Mirror of the World

The mirror of the World gives us a blurry reflection. Secular culture sets a standard of what is valued in women. Exterior beauty is the GOLD standard of worth. We see this played out in commercials, on the big screen, in photos and pictures on Instagram, in advertisements, and even in music. These images send CONSTANT messages of “what is beautiful.”

Social media sets the image of what successful women look like. We are told this is the way to dress, or look, or think, or live. Let me tell you something. We are selling ourselves short when we settle our value on adjectives like “SEXY” and “HOT.”

This idea of the beautiful, sexy woman has gained such a following that we now have a phenomenon called “sexting.” Are you kidding? Since when is sending sexually explicit images of yourself or one of your body parts to another person a wise choice?

The INTERNET is permanent. Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook— these are all WORLDLY images reflecting and shaping the person you are to yourself and to others. I think it is shocking to watch gorgeous, smart women sell themselves so short for someone’s attention.

The blurry, distorted image of who we are will never clear up when we continue to stare at ourselves in the mirror of the world.

Women’s status and problems in the world are growing every day.

  • Women account for 70% of the population living in absolute poverty (on less than $1.00 a day).
  • Over 60 million girls worldwide are child brides, married before the age of 18.
  • 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not yet considered a crime.
  • More than 16.4 million women in the world have HIV/AIDS.
  • The US government estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 victims (mostly women and children) are trafficked globally each year, and 14,500 to 17,500 are trafficked into the US.

The WORLD exploits women through pornography and a distorted message that a woman’s value is through her sexual beauty.

Take a good look in the mirror — each of you doing whatever you want, whenever you want, refusing to pay attention to me.” (Jeremiah 16:12, The Message)

There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough; look again—it leads straight to hell.” (Proverbs 14:12)

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (Romans 12:2, The Message)

The world’s mirror is not kind to women. Our reflection in that mirror is not creating beauty in women’s lives. It remains blurry. No matter how hard we work and work, the reflection remains distorted.

The Mirror of our Relationships

The mirror of our relationships doesn’t just reflect the women we are today. It is cluttered with images of who we were in the past, who we are today, and who we hope to be. This includes our our childhood, our youth, and any abuse or trauma we have experienced. It reflects how we appear to our family, our co-workers, our boyfriend or spouse, and our children. For many of us it also reflects our dreams, our hopes, and our desires for the future.

Painful and positive relationships SHAPE us every day.

Emotions are what make us human—what makes life worth living—but emotions are 100% neutral. We have no control over having a feeling. Someone says, “you can’t feel that way.” But the truth is our feelings are in us, and we experience them outside of our control when they occur. But God gave us feelings as a “guidance system” for us to navigate our actions, and therefore our lives.

FAMILY of ORIGIN – FAMILY of CHOICE

NO ONE chooses their family of origin. But we all can choose the life lessons we take from our family. Our family of origin gives us our life lessons by default or by design, so we spend the rest of our lives either building on the good or overcoming the bad. We decide if we want to be like them or go our own way. Either way, they are part of our past reflection.

The kind of people who you follow will determine the kind of person you ARE, and in the future the people you will lead. We make the choice to allow them to influence our lives, to reflect their vision of who we are back at us. Look at your Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook … those folks already reflect who you are … they ARE your family of CHOICE.

“For now we see obscurely in a mirror, but then it will be face to face. Now I know partly; then I will know fully, just as God has fully known me. But for now, three things last — trust, hope, love; and the greatest of these is love. Pursue love!” (1 Cor. 13:12-14:1, CJB)

Loving others with a true selfless love is impossible without Jesus. So is Forgiveness, especially when you have been truly hurt. Here’s what you have to remember: Forgiveness doesn’t excuse their behavior—Forgiveness PREVENTS their behavior from DESTROYING your heart.

Mirror of Religion

The Mirror of Religion reflects a shattered kaleidoscope of images back at us. Institutional Religion is the cause of pain all over the world. The perversion of religion and the inhuman treatment of people in the “name of religion” is unspeakable. People say, “Why don’t I go to church? Because I went once! I couldn’t fit into the rules, the categories.”

CHRISTIANS are the only ARMY in the WORLD that shoot their wounded.

Institutional religion requires each person to fit into a certain image. If the person is flawed or broken, they are marginalized or cast aside. This is a religion of rules and appearances. This is the religion of hypocrites. It includes judging, excluding, and measuring ourselves against each other.

“You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.” (Matt. 23:27-28, The Message)

The Mirror of God’s Word

The mirror of God’s Word is clear, magnified, and exposes every defect.

“If someone listens to God’s word but doesn’t do what it says, he is like a person who looks at his face in a mirror, studies his features, goes away, and immediately forgets what he looks like. However, the person who continues to study God’s perfect teachings that make people free and who remains committed to them will be blessed. People like that don’t merely listen and forget; they actually do what God’s teachings say. If a person thinks that he is religious but can’t control his tongue, he is fooling himself. That person’s religion is worthless.” (James 1:22-27)

When we look into this mirror we learn to lead with our ears … then with our mouth. Our actions will follow our words.

“For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.” James 2:13

When we look into the mirror of God’s word, what do we see?

  1. We see our flaws. We see that we are sinners.
  2. We also see that Jesus Christ died for our sins.
  3. We see that by believing in Jesus Christ, we can be changed forever.

God’s WORD is the ONLY MIRROR that CREATES BEAUTY!

“Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray … raising holy hands to God. And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.” (1Titus 2:8-10, The Message)

“Just as water mirrors your face, so your face mirrors your heart.” (Proverbs 27:19, The Message)

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful …” (Ps 139:14, NIV)

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL—made in God’s IMAGE—a one of a kind, ETERNAL creation filled with giftings, destiny, and purpose … ALL YOUR OWN … but you say … I AM NOT PERFECT!!!!

Women love mirrors because we SEE ourselves. But we look into mirrors every day, seeing our:

  • Distorted reflection in the mirror of the WORLD
  • Imperfect and disappointing reflection in the mirror of our RELATIONSHIPS
  • Broken and destructive reflection in the mirror of RELIGION

Only the PERFECT MIRROR of God’s WORD can transform us! It creates beauty inside of us, which ultimately creates beauty on the OUTSIDE too. Once this transformation happens, we become a mirror ourselves. A mirror that reflects Jesus to a lost world!

“We can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him.” (2 Cor. 3:18, TLB)

I say when we look long enough into God’s best beauty treatment ever—His Word—we can become MIRRORS!

So I ask again, “Mirror mirror on the wall … who is the fairest of them ALL????”

JESUS IS THE FAIREST ONE OF ALL

He is the PERFECT one. HE is the one who looks back from our reflection when we look into God’s Word. His perfection, through His Holy Spirit, looks deep into our hearts and fills us with His love, His purity, His wholeness, and His acceptance.

How is the WORLD shaping your image of yourself? How have your cluttered imperfect relationships bound you in unforgiveness and robbed you of love? How has a FAKE dead religion trapped you in unbelief and a prayerless, spiritual life?

It’s 2016. Are you ready to look into the MIRROR of GOD’s WORD and expect to be created into the beautiful woman living the future GOD designed you to live?

I can still, very clearly, remember the day my youngest son, Taylor got in the car and drove to his first day of his last year of high school! This was the last “first day of school” for me. No more shopping for school supplies, backpacks, or lunch boxes. At 18 years old, he looked so handsome in his red, navy, and khaki school uniform. I kissed him, told him that he had brought me more joy in life than I could describe … and felt so overwhelmed with God’s providence. I have been so blessed to have four incredible boys.

That day I entered into the transition in life that bridges motherhood to the “empty nest.” As I watched him drive away, I wondered, “What am I supposed to do now?”

Stepping into the unknown is always scary … and always demands more from me than I ever think I can give. It made me think about a story:

Have you heard about the frog that was born at the bottom of a well? He thought life couldn’t get any better till one day he looked up and saw daylight. Climbing up to investigate he was amazed to find a large pond and he quickly jumped in to enjoy his newfound opportunity. Going further, he discovered a lake that was even bigger. When eventually he came to the ocean and all he could see was water, it dawned on him just how limited his thinking had been! He had believed that everything he needed for life was down inside that well, but in fact, that little well was only a drop in the bucket compared to all that was out there for him to enjoy!

Wouldn’t you like to step out in faith, experience new depths in Him and go where you’ve never been before? Maybe you are living today in your own little “well”—reluctant to leave your comfort zone, settling for a limited and safe existence while God has rivers deep enough “to swim in.” Remember, the enemy will do everything he can to keep you focused on your background, your lack of formal education, your appearance, and your limited resources.

It doesn’t matter whether you are short of money, people, energy, or time. When God invites us to step out into our destiny, He will always challenge us with a vision that is greater than our present resources! Fear cannot limit our vision, because when God is our source, His supply is UNLIMITED! One idea from Him, just one, can change your life and the lives of others. He has great things in store for you today – so start thinking outside the box!

I figured out what to do by the way. I went back to school, earned my master’s degree, and my doctoral degree. It is NEVER too late to MOVE FORWARD.

That handsome young man from the beginning of this post married a beautiful young woman and they are on their own journey toward more than they can imagine.

Now it’s your turn to MOVE FORWARD. He will meet you in tomorrow! Life in on our hands … He has given us the power to choose. God’s Will is that all of us step into the destiny that He has designed for us! HIS WILL IS OUR HIGHEST PRIORITY.

THE BEST WAY TO PREDICT YOUR FUTURE … IS TO CREATE IT!

The first half of my Mother’s Day post dealt with Marching over Painful Memories. Part two focuses on two more lessons motherhood has taught me. The first is:

M.inimize O.bstacles every M.oment

It is always too soon to quit!

“Even when we are too weak to have any faith left, he remains faithful to us and will help us, for he cannot disown us who are part of himself, and he will always carry out his promises to us.” 2 Tim 2:13

Big shots are only little shots’ that kept on shooting! Keep going.

Rich and I have been married over 40 years. 40 YEARS! People have asked me, how have you stayed married and not gotten divorced?  The answer:  We didn’t get divorced.

We did not talk about divorce.  We never really considered it an option. Here is the secret to a long happy marriage—STAY married. The same goes with life. Don’t give up on your business, your dream for success, your dream for health.

God blesses us to be a blessing. What prayer are you praying for? Instead of praying with a motivation of ‘ME,’ pray from this question: If God answers this prayer through me, who will I bless with the answer?

The secret to being a happy Christian is caring for others and doing for others. It’s not a coincidence that MOM’s are tireless when it comes to their children. They will move any mountain to help their child. That’s the same secret for all of our lives.

TRUE HAPPINESS comes in caring for others more than ourselves.

Once I asked one of my sons how he could handle all the pain out on the football field. I watched him get hit over and over.  He looked at me and instantly replied, “Oh mom, when my team is winning nothing hurts!”

Ah! Obstacles are minimized when a winning effort is underway. When we are working hard, pushing through to win the prize, we discover that obstacles are overcome.

Minimize your pain by doing for others!

M.ake O.pportunities M.atter

Opportunity is everywhere! Abundance is the nature of the universe. All of us have opportunities. We choose every day.

I drive by a property every day that I could have purchased at a low price. I remember the day I drove over and walked around. But I said “Nope. I am not going to buy this lot.” Today when I drive by I see that someone else saw the same lot and built a luxury condo. They saw opportunity where I said “nope.”

The difference between what I am and what I want to be is what I do!

I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: “Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us.” Phil 3:13-14

M O M’s to MAKE IT!

  • March Over painful Memories

  • Minimize Obstacles every Moment

  • Make Opportunities Matter

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9

To get started pray right now:

“Father, I need your help. I let go of yesterday. Forgive me for not trusting you with my life and my future. I let go of all my plans, and I choose to step into obedience for your plan for me … beginning right now.”

Our PROMISE FOR TOMORROW:   

“For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

BE ENCOURAGED – Happy Mother’s Day!

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It’s Mother’s Day weekend! Have you planned how you will honor your Mom this week?

Being a mother is not an easy job. In some ways it is often thankless, dirty, difficult, back-breaking work. But it IS the MOST incredibly rewarding gift a woman can ever have!

1471316_10202036143798872_166153230_nMy four sons are all adults now, but through their growing up years I learned many power principles which kept me motivated. This week I am sharing three important lessons to encourage you.

M.arch O.ver painful M.emories

You can’t change yesterday!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Cor 5:17-18

Believe it or not I didn’t want to be a mom. I wasn’t even interested. When I was 16 years old, I remember shouting at my mother, “I never want to be like you!” Kids, cooking, and housework were beyond boring to my teenage perspective of life.

A career without domestic home responsibilities was what I envisioned for my future. But then after 8 years of marriage, I came to discover that my husband and I needed a family. So I stepped into motherhood at 27 years old when our first son, Jonfulton, was born. Being a mom turned out to be the most surprising, greatest challenge of my life. Until I experienced it, I had NO idea what an enormous commitment parenting would require.

Within six years we had 2 sons and I was settling into motherhood when my third son, Graham, came along. He was born C-section and premature. He had a rough start, and then when he was six months old he became critically ill with spinal meningitis.1 Newborn

I rushed him into the emergency room at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and was told immediately by the medical staff that Graham had died en-route. The pediatric intensive-care medical team immediately began emergency measures to resuscitate baby Graham.

I numbly stood watching through the glass window of the trauma center as the doctors urgently worked to cut off his little pajamas, so they could slash open his carotid artery, his wrists, and ankles to insert life support tubing.

The lead physician worked intensely, applying pressure to his little chest while breathing into Graham’s tiny lungs. Minutes went by, but then—Graham breathed a deep breath. He was alive.

Although the prognosis remained grim, and Graham was hospitalized for another two weeks, miraculously he was released to step into his life which was forever altered. Through the resuscitation process his brain had been cut off from oxygen for too long and he had suffered permanent brain damage.

Life changed drastically at that moment.

WHY did this happen?

It seemed impossible that this had happened to me. Why did I have to become the mother of a handicapped child? Why did God allow my child and my family to suffer forever with this horrible reality? I was angry. I was enraged. I had NO plan in my future for dealing with the burdens of a handicapped baby. I was angry at myself – for being angry. But most of all I was furious at God.

I was stuck. I was stuck in my rage. I was stuck in my grief over the loss of my identity as the mom of ‘healthy normal kids.’

Life got harder. My negative attitude seeped into every corner of my life. Parenting became impossible. My marriage was toxic. Years were rolling by, but inside I was rotting away in my pit of personal pain.

One particularly hard afternoon, while Graham was fully engulfed in one of his terrible, frequent, out of control emotional tantrums, it hit me that all this trauma was even harder on little Graham than it had been on me. Graham needed every ounce of support I could muster if he was going to ever walk, talk, and function.

I realized that God had not gotten ‘mixed up’ when Graham was born and He had not given me the wrong boy. Out of all the women on earth, I was the right mom for this struggling child. God had chosen me to be Graham’s mom. That meant I had what it took, in me, to parent this child through his heartache and struggles.

There is much more to this story, but until I ‘let go of yesterday’ I could not USE the pain of the entire situation to move forward in my life again. Until I fully accepted this principle:

“Robyn, YOU CAN”T CHANGE YESTERDAY”

I did not have the strength to March Over painful Memories. I had to LET GO of my old expectations, plans, and vision of how my life was going to look to be able to embrace the vision of my new family—including our special child. As long as I stayed paralyzed in my coma of grief, hanging on to the “old me,” my life was going to be frozen in emotional toxic waste.

Today, if you are trapped in the turmoil of life’s unexpected challenges, your first step to moving forward is to let go. Forgive everyone and everything that has let you down. Next, look up. God knows exactly where you are and what you are facing. He will give you the strength to march over your painful memories and into His big plan for your blessings, but it won’t happen until you are willing to move.

To get started pray right now:

“Father, I need your help. I let go of yesterday. Forgive me for not trusting you with my life and my future. I let go of all my plans, and I choose to step into obedience for your plan for me … beginning right now. ”

Our PROMISE FOR TOMORROW:

“For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord.’I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.” Jer. 29:11

More M.O.M.s for you are coming this week!

BE ENCOURAGED – Happy Mother’s Day!

 

The heavy wooden beam of the cross hung across His lacerated shoulders as the procession of the condemned Christ and his executioners began its slow journey from the Roman jail to his crucifixion site. With enormous blood loss and in shock, Jesus stumbled and fell.

When they arrived at Golgotha, the beam was placed on the ground and Jesus was thrown backward with His entire body pressed against the wooden stake. The soldiers stretched his arms against the cross beam.

The Roman soldier then grabbed his arm, and dug into Jesus wrist to locate the depression at the top of his hand. Once the executioner was satisfied he had found the spot, he then drove a heavy, square, wrought iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. He moved to the other side and repeated the action.

I imagine Jesus, turning His head toward the nail just as the soldier lifts the hammer to strike it. I imagine Jesus seeing the mallet, the nail, and the soldier’s hand. I also believe that Jesus saw something else. Through the eyes of scripture we can see what those who were there that Friday could not see. But Jesus knew it was there.

Colossians 2:14 states,

He canceled the record that contained the charges against usHe took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross.

Between Jesus hand and the wooden cross was a list. A long list. A list of our mistakes: our lusts, our lies, greedy moments and prodigal years. A list of our sins.

Dangling from the cross are the bad choices from last year and the years before. There in broad daylight, for all of heaven to see, was the comprehensive eternal list of all our evil thoughts, wicked actions, and failures.

The list however cannot be read. The words cannot be deciphered. The mistakes are covered. The sins are hidden. Jesus’ hands hide those at the top; His blood runs down the Cross and covers every sin down the list.

ALL OUR FAILURES ARE BLOTTED OUT – FOREVER

His left foot was pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail was driven through the arch of each foot. The searing agony of the nail tore through the nerves and bone of the feet. A sign was nailed to the top of the cross that read King of the Jews. As the arms fatigued, great waves of cramps swept over His muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain.

Jesus fought to raise Himself in order to get a short breath. Tissue was torn from His lacerated back every time He moved up and down against the rough timber. Jesus felt a deep crushing pain in His chest and the chill of death crept through his tissue. With one last surge of strength, He once again pressed His torn feet against the nail, straightened His legs, took a deeper breath, and uttered His seventh and last cry. “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.”

The Roman soldier made doubly sure Jesus was dead by driving his sword through Christ’s ribcage, piercing the heart, and immediately blood and water drained from his wounded body. Thereby Jesus died, not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure due to shock and constriction of the heart.

Envision Jesus on that cross. Take a moment to see yourself there. It was my sins and your sins which nailed Jesus to the Cross. But now —See those sins nailed to the Cross. Done. Forgiven.

Why did He do it? Because he loved us, he valued us that much.

BUT – What does it mean today for us?

Life is Not Futile

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jer. 29:11

Failures are Not Fatal

For I will be merciful regarding their wrong deeds, and I will never again remember their sins.” Hebrews 8:12 ISV

Death is Not Final

But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. 1 Corinthians 15:51-54

Does your life feel futile? Doesn’t have to.

Do some of your failures seem fatal? They aren’t.

Does the grave appear to be the final stop? According to Christ, your death is just the start of the something great.

There is a truth greater than all the losses and sorrows of life. And it can be discovered in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Through his death, your life has purpose and meaning. You are forgiven and loved by a Savior who died for you. And an empty tomb proclaims that death does not have the final word.

Peace where there should be pain. Confidence in the midst of crisis. Joy in place of tears.

What’s so GOOD about “Good FRIDAY”? Because of that supernatural Friday, we have the daily power for abundant living now … with eternal life as a bonus. WOW—mind blowing! Wonderful! TGIF

THANK GOD IT’S FRIDAY!

What are you going to do to celebrate this wonderful gift? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

One year, around Thanksgiving, my husband got an invitation to the White House Christmas party in the mail. It may be a bit of an understatement to say I was a little excited! Rich had been to the White House and had met other presidents, but this was my first time. I immediately started planning. Plane tickets, hotel, a new outfit, I was going to meet the President and the First Lady!

Not long before we were supposed to leave for Washington, Rich started to suffer from back pain. He ended up in the hospital and couldn’t make the trip. Let the DRAMA begin! The invitation was in Rich’s name. I was the unnamed “And Guest.” On the bottom of the invitation, written very clearly, it stated “Non-Transferable.”

I WANTED TO GO!!!

I really wanted to go, but my name was not on the invitation. My sister, Kathie, came to the rescue. She emailed and explained my situation to the President’s team. She told them I wanted to come anyway … in fact, could I bring along my son, Rich, Jr.? He has the same name, after all! They sent back an email saying there was no problem, but we didn’t get a new invitation with the new name. Time was ticking, and we couldn’t decide. I had not been invited, Rich Sr. was the name on the invitation, would we get in?

When Rich Jr. and I arrived at the White House, we handed our invitation and ID to the guard at the gate. He looked at them, at his list, and let us in! I was able to walk through that gate under my husband’s authority. (I walked quickly in case the guard changed his mind.) I was covered with authority—covered with his name, with his credibility, because of his works, efforts, and accomplishment we were covered. To think we almost missed the best Christmas party ever because I wasn’t sure I was covered.

My experience at the White House reminds me of a story in the New Testament. This is a story written 2,000 years ago, but it has truth for my life today. The story I’m referring to appears in Luke 7:1-10. A centurion’s servant, valued highly (cared about) by his master, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. So Jesus went with them. The centurion had such faith in healing because he had faith in Jesus.

The centurion’s entire understanding of life was built on authority. He was covered with authority. The centurion recognized authority when he saw it, and he had faith in Jesus’ authority.

Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authoritywith soldiers under me… (Luke 7:6-8)

Our faith is only limited by our willingness to be covered in Jesus authority. Jesus is all authority; He is our covering. I told you about the President, but I have needed more than even his authority in my life. I was covered when I stood in an emergency room with my dead son. I was covered when I started back to college at 57 years old. I was covered when I stood beside my father’s beside moments after he died.

I am covered every moment of every day when I can’t figure out what to do and when I am overwhelmed.

God sent us an invitation to the greatest party ever! The invitation comes through His Son Jesus. The question is whose authority is covering us? Are we resting in what image we have, or status, or family, or past performance? Is our faith amazing Jesus? WE ARE COVERED. It takes faith, but we have an invitation to attend the most amazing party ever!

I AM A COVERGIRL!