what’s in your heart?

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0057In Christ, an everyday man or woman becomes

someone with the power and authority

to expose the devil’s schemes

to drive him out and away from all things.

The everyday man or woman “in Christ” has the power

to speak truth into lies,

cultivate righteousness into moral confusion,

and inject peace into earthly conflict.

The everyday man or woman “in Christ” has

the power of God’s Word in his heart

and in his hand as a sword

ready to bring

healing,

grace,

purpose,

freedom

to all he engages.

~Dave Huizenga, 2013

Submit? You’ve got to be kidding!

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coupleAs a young independent woman raised in the United States, I had some negative reactions to Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:

“…you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:24b

Submission was not something I was looking for. “Submit? In Everything? You’ve got to be kidding!”

Still, I believed then, as I do now, that the Bible’s words come from God, and as God is front and center in my life, I need to take his words seriously. In the past 43 years of marriage to one man, I have spent a lot of time reading Hebrews 5, but not just verse 24—I’ve read the whole chapter—and I realized that my negativity came from taking this verse out of context.

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us… And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

“For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.

For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word… As the Scriptures say, ‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

As I was researching and writing an historical novel, I tried to imagine putting myself in the patriarchal culture that Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth lived in. It made me realize how radical these words would have been to them:

“Husbands, love your wives as much as you love yourself.”

The commandment to love stated that women were not merely property but valuable as people in and of themselves. That is the fundamental seed of women’s empowerment, and it was a part of Hebrew laws given to the Israelites about 1500 years B.C.

pre-fixed attitude affects behavior

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0001Attitude is a state of mind, and your attitude influences your behavior.

“I can’t do it.”

“I’m dumb at math.”

“I always make a fool of myself.”

“I don’t have any talents.”

“What if I make a mistake?”

Abraham Lincoln Statue

Does the idea of a pre-fixed attitude make sense to you?

Some examples:

Are you trusting or suspicious?

Do you see a half-full glass or half-empty glass?

Do you consider yourself  the “poor me” victiom?

Are you more at ease in a quiet room or a noisy one?

What is your response to the smell of freshly-cut grass?

ENTHUSIASM

What attitude will you choose for today?

empowered or not?

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Shepherd with lamb in Negev riverbed, tb010303618Can an historical novel about women struggling through life in a patriarchal society speak into women empowerment issues?

Perhaps we should start with a definition. A quick perusal of the world-wide web showed that most groups agree on a definition similar to the one below:

Women’s empowerment focuses on identifying and redressing power imbalances and giving women more autonomy to manage their own lives.

To find empowered women in Less Than a Widow, many readers will need to take themselves out of the Western mode and transplant into another culture. The realities of women in patriarchal or tribal societies—in ancient times and today—may be very different than the way you were raised. I recently watched a video in which Palestinian father and educator Yousafzai Ziauddin speaks about his daughter’s struggle to be educated, how he supported and encouraged her, and the price of her efforts for empowerment. [You can view this at http://www.ted.com/talks/ziauddin_yousafzai_my_daughter_malala. ]  Ziauddin explains the expectations of obedience for women and honor for men—precepts that put women in a prison from which there is little chance for escape.

In Less Than a Widow, Ruth’s rebellion almost led to her death at the hands of her birth father. (His wives aided and abetted him, as do many women in this kind of system.) Without a man, without boy-children, women are considered dead-weights that drag fathers-brothers down. They have no rights, no means of sustenance besides prostitution, and still they are punished severely for engaging in that occupation.

Ruth’s battle for empowerment continued throughout her life, and she made some choices that some readers might consider to be sell-outs. I don’t. I hope that I approach my life with the courage, wisdom, and faith that she displayed.

A Call to Arms

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We picked a very hot day to see The Mall in Washington, D.C., but found a cooling fountain to sit by for lunch.

We have declared a today to be a “take-a-vacation-from-vacationing day.” We’re in Virginia with two of our junior-high-aged granddaughters, and we’ve been enjoying activities every day, including: water park, canopy tour (with zip lines, etc), miniature golf, a HOT trip to Washington, D.C., hiking in the Shenandoah mountains, etc. Today at 10:30 a.m., the girls are still in their pajamas (on their screens of course), John’s reading a Tom Clancy book, and I’m catching up on everyone and everything on the internet.

I find that it’s in the quiet times, in the times we slow down enough to listen, that we hear God’s voice and his promptings. This morning, I can’t stop singing, “I know that my Redeemer lives…” Checking out FaceBook, I took the time to follow a trail to Anne Graham Lotz’s blog, and I have been soaking up much of what she has had to say in the last year (I’d never read her blog before).

This struck me. Written in 2012, it’s a call for Christians to get ready. A fight is coming.


 

A Prediction

 Jan 3, 2012, from Anne Graham Lotz’s blog

Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Psalm 119:89

The following is a prediction I [Anne Graham Lotz] wrote in response to a request from CNN for use on their belief blog. They chose not to publish it. Imagine that!  So I have decided to use it as the first of my new blog that will be available on our website from time to time. Depending on my schedule, I’m not sure how frequently I can write, but I hope to share with you special insights God gives me from His Word in my own daily devotions, or relevant thoughts concerning what is happening in our world, or an excerpt from something I’ve written previously that comes back to mind. My prayer is that God would use this blog to encourage your heart and strengthen your faith in Him. And as always, to draw you into His Word, and thus closer to Him.

“God’s Word will still be true in 2012. God means what He says, He says what He means, and what He says is so.  The words of politicians, entertainers, leaders, presidents, CEO’s, kings, editors, and op-ed writers, will come up short at times.  Promises will be forgotten, treaties will be disregarded, covenants will be broken, truth will be spun, and lies will be spoken. Therefore, I predict that people who are  sincerely seeking the Truth, looking for time-tested solutions, and desiring to live lives that work, will turn to the Bible as the one sure Guide in an unsure world.”


 

Two-and-a-half years later, Anne is sounding the call to arms. The fight is at hand. Are you ready? Will you join with others as we march around the evil we have allowed to take over ourselves and our world?

I went back and re-read in Bible passages that tell about Israel’s victory over Jericho (Joshua 6). The army was led with praise and prayer. The focus was on God. The Israelites waited and waited, followed God’s instructions even though it made them look silly, and God brought about a victory. Their participation was what God called for, and because they all joined in, He brought victory in a way that they couldn’t have imagined.

We are being called again to participate. Will you join in?


Sounding the Alarm

 Jun 18, 2014, FROM ANNE GRAHAM LOTZ’S BLOG

 

Blow the trumpet…sound the alarm…for the day of the Lord is coming.  It is close at hand– Rend your heart and not your garments.  Return to the Lord your God…   Joel 2:1, 13

This assignment came indirectly from a Syrian pastor through a National Day of Prayer attendee. In obedience, I am blowing the trumpet…sounding the alarm…issuing a national prayer initiative entitled 7 7 7:  An Urgent Call to Prayer.  The Call is for God’s people to pray for each of the first seven days in the seventh month—July 1-7.  Then on the 7th day, July 7, we are to pray and fast for 7 hours.

The purpose is three-fold:

·     For God the Father to restrain, protect, and deliver His people from the evil that has come into our world.

·     For God the Son to be exalted, magnified, and glorified in His church, in our nation, and in our lives.

·     For God the Holy Spirit to fall on us in a fresh way, compelling the church to repent of sin and our nation to return to faith in the living God, resulting in a great national spiritual awakening.


For more information, visit Anne Graham Lorz’s blog at: http://www.annegrahamlotz.com

 

“Am I Enough?”

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kathieevenhouse:

I am a grandma now, but I struggled with the “am I enough?” curse before during and after children for so many years. This blog spoke to my heart, and I hope it reaches yours. Kathie

Originally posted on Barren to Beautiful:

This week my husband walks in the door after a long day at work to find: dishes piled in the sink, laundry all over the living room, the beef for dinner still in a frozen block, and me…looking like Frump Queen. He is gracious. And tells me to take a nap. I instantly obey. (Inwardly rejoicing.) And while I am sleeping for 45 minutes, he manages to clean the whole house…while watching our daughter. (A feat I clearly was incapable of accomplishing today. Many days.)

One part of my feels grateful the house is clean. I can relax now, right? But the other (bigger) part of me feels guilty and defeated. He just worked the whole day at his job, and then came home and did mine, too. Isn’t this why I am staying home? 

Every day I have this desire to accomplish something. But every day it feels I accomplish nothing. I…

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change starts with a thought

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Everything you imagine, say, or do starts with a thought.

That thought associates itself with every other thought you have ever had on the subject, and all together they trigger an emotion.

The thought(s) with their emotional attachments affect your behavior.

Look at the women in the picture below. Can you guess their thoughts? Look at the women row by row–they obviously aren’t all thinking the same thing.
joyful or solemn

Do you want to change how you act?

You will have to start with changing how you think.

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The late Nelson Mandela brought change to a whole country by urging its citizens to change how they think. This is what he said in his book Long Walk to Freedom.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

  ~Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

 

 

the basics

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What does it take for you to feel at home?

Many of us would make a list of things: temperatures, safety, conveniences, rights…

Now pick a different country, culture, financial stratum, time in history, and ask yourself the question again. What does it take for you to feel comfortable and content?

Did your list change as your circumstances changed?

What I might consider as the basics—a place to live, food, transportation, furnace/air-conditioning, running water, freedom, morning coffee, my laptop—might look like luxuries to someone else. Dana, a friend and fellow blogger recently went on a ten-week sojourn to West Africa and was hit in the face with this question. [See her blog at: http://danabrux.com/2014/06/02/den-lhr-acc/.]

Can I imagine a situation where I would thank God just to be alive or to have food for merely one meal? Can I imagine being thankful that I didn’t receive a beating today or that I have access to clean well water (even if I have to walk a mile with a jar of water on my head)? Would I feel blessed to have a ten-hour-per-day physically-demanding job in addition to raising my children? What would I do if school for my child cost more money than I am able to earn in a year?

Do these questions inspire guilt for my blessings or grow an awareness of the wealth that I possess? In every country, every culture, and every time in history there are “haves” and “have-nots.” My friend Dana is getting a face-to-face look at the wide divide between women’s “at-homeness” in the world today. My own recent experience in this area came through researching the lives and times of Ruth, Rahab, and Tamar who lived around 1400 B.C. As I imagined living in their shoes I learned, as Dana is learning, that it wasn’t “stuff” that made their lives worth living. It was hope. It was love. It was faith.

That leads us to the day’s final questions: What is it that I can’t live without?

let it be

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0023Do you feel like it’s all up to you?

Do you worry about making it through the day?

Are you awake at night with anxious thoughts spinning?

Does everybody depend on you, and you want to run away and hide?

The truth is—you’re not the center of the universe. There’s something bigger out there, and He cares for you.

Look for Him—you will find Him, and He will give you peace.

These songs may help.

“Let It Be” by Paul McCartney
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajCYQL8ouqw

…And when the night is cloudy
There is still a light that shines on me
Shine on until tomorrow, let it be

I wake up to the sound of music
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be…

Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong United, Writers: Matt Crocker, Joel Houston & Salomon Ligthelm.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoZE2RsthRg

…And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine…

Salma endured

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Desert 0062

An extended drought brought about a famine in the land, and food became a precious commodity. Salma, a prince of his people, took the hunger of his people personally. When his son Boaz expressed  concern that their wealth and health would vanish before the famine was over, Salma said,

“As famine strips us of flesh, it also strips us down to the bones of who we are.”

Salma was an honorable man with a responsibility to his people, and his son Boaz agreed with him.

The difference between the two men was their approach to these life circumstances:

  • Salma endured.
  • Boaz said, “There has to be another way.”

How do you approach the droughts that attack your life?