How “Submission” Turned to Suffocation

I paused before I spoke, carefully weighing each word—and more importantly, each tone of each word.

I had waited for two months to talk with my ex-husband about something that needed to be talked about as soon as it happened (painful things with other women). But, I was terrified to talk even though what had happened was wrong.

That doesn’t sound healthy, you say—and you’re right.

My suffocating experience in marriage led me to research healthy womanhood with a passion. There had to be more to relationship in marriage than what I experienced. Surely this was not what Jesus talked about in 1 Peter 3.

Surely if a wife who loved and served her husband discovered something wrong in her husband’s life, she should be heard?

I knew the answer was yes even though I didn’t experience it. I weighed my words carefully and spent years in confusion and emotional distress because I tried so hard to avoid the hurtful conversations I knew would happen if I tried to communicate.

Thank heaven this is not what a wife is meant to have in marriage.

Let’s take a look at some powerful women in the Bible. Deborah was a prophetess, a wife, during one of the most troubled times of Israel. She’d sit under a palm tree dedicated to her, called “The Palm of Deborah” while the people of Israel came to her for judgment.

When they were oppressed under Jabin, king of Canaan, Deborah called Barak and told him the Lord asked him to go out to war against the king’s army. In verse eight Barak says to her, “If you will go with me, I will go; but if not, I will not go.”

Deborah goes with him but lets him know that the glory won’t go to him because the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hand of a woman. (Judges 14)

The battle rages hot but as is always the case when God is on our side, Barak’s army won until each man fell. Every man but one, that is.

When 900 chariots of iron weren’t getting him anywhere, Sisera fled on foot to Jael’s tent. Why this tent? Because there was peace between her husband and the king.

Jael kindly invited Sisera into her tent, comforted him with words of peace, fed him hot milk, and covered him up warmly. He fell asleep and she took a tent spike into her hand, a hammer in the other, and pounded away, into his brain until he was dead.

Then, she reported it to Barak.

Israel’s victory began with two women, one of which obviously went against her husband’s wishes when she chose to fight on the Lord’s side. Get this—she killed a man who was at peace with her husband. The only vibe we get from scripture concerning this act was one of approval, God fighting with her, with them.

She aligned herself well. Remember this, sisters—when your husband opposes God’s kingdom it is of utmost importance that you choose the right side.

Now, lets hop on ahead to 1 Peter 3 where God talks about one of His exemplary women, Sarah.

“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conversation of their wives………as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord. And you are her children if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” (1 Peter 3: 1 & 6, ESV)

How do we make sense of this seeming contradiction? By taking the entirety of the Word of God rather than zoning in on one verse. God has a perfect plan for His women and it shines through all of scripture.

Jael quietly did what she needed to do. We don’t read of her becoming feministic, abrasive, or brash. We simply see a woman of great strength with an ability to rise to a God-given occasion to fight for His people.

In that moment, her husband was second to God, not competing with God. This is what we need to remember: our husbands do not compete with God for equal place in our lives. God is number one, always.

I believe God was number one in Sarah’s life and that was the only reason she was able to honor her husband. God was proud of her and used her as an example.

There’s an entire culture of honor we ladies need to live in, walk in, and speak in. We can do this even when we need to say no to our husbands.

My situation forced me to not only say no, but to testify in court against his actions. From closing my mouth in order to keep peace, to opening my mouth and refusing to make peace, this was one bear of a journey.

The Lord let me know one day as I was walking that my husband would leave, and that I would be the one to speak up against his actions. I still didn’t know the extent of gross sin I’d be dealing with, but my heart cried out, “Please Lord, please no. Please not me.”

I wanted so very much to please him instead, but it had become impossible.

When rubber hit the road things not only got worse, but sickeningly disturbing until the entire town was in an uproar. I had to speak with detectives and law, court, and fight for my children until my knees shook.

I could no longer obey, “submit” or pretend to be okay.

And bit by bit, I learned that it was okay for him to be unhappy with me. I’d take my emotions by the shoulders, give them a good shaking and tell myself, “Sara, if he was happy with you, you’d be in the wrong. It’s a good thing, a very good thing, that he’s unhappy with you.”

Sisters, please hear me on this. You are not responsible to make your husband happy, or to keep peace. BUT, if you walk in love and honor, you will make a good man very happy.

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

If you’re walking in love and with Jesus by your side, you’ll treat him with honor. You won’t yell and be obnoxious. You won’t nag.

You’ll be feminine, gracious, and eager to bless him.

But hear me on this—you will also communicate honestly as you honor him.

You’ll be able to say the hard things.

You’ll be able to say no if he wants to veer right off track into obvious sin.

If he’s pulling toward another woman you’ll be strong enough to stand up to both of them with a better option—that of saving your life-long covenant with your husband.

If the need rises, you’ll be Jael in Sarah’s world.

Sisters, there is no other way.

Abigail brought food to David and God took care of her belligerent husband who became so angry with what she did, that he died. God blessed Abigail for feeding his servant when her husband was selfish enough to cause a war. (1 Samuel 25)

But take note on the extreme cases these examples are. Jael won a war and Abigail stopped a war. Many women today create wars instead because they are too selfish to think past their own skin.

Femininity or feminism?

Feminism tries to prove to men that we can do what they can do. It is obnoxious and nothing short of abusing the word, “woman”.

Feminity thrives in a culture of honor. We honor ourselves when we honor those around us. We are ‘yes’ women with the ability to say no when the need arises. We are graciously strong and refuse to buckle under sin and abuse.

We can stop wars and win wars, but never create wars unless standing for truth creates one of necessity. We are, as Jesus asks us to be, “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16, ESV)

A culture of honor can be nothing else.

It’s Still Okay to be Feminine

I’m going to open my veins here and let them bleed a little on a topic dear to my heart.

I love being a woman.

I love it so much that I have no problem owning the fact that men possess attributes I do not. The same is true of women—we can do things men cannot do. But hear me out just a little here……….

It took me forever to burn things from my marriage, but I finally did, carrying a pile out to burn up in flames because my marriage was so far gone. I even sold my bed and all the pillows, then slept on the floor as I cried some deep tears.

In some ways it was merciful for things to get as bad as they did, or I would have hung on forever. But I finally knew I had to be done.

God met me there and told me, “Sara, you are still fully woman and fully feminine, with or without a man.”

Those words from Jesus have been my saving grace. No man can rob me of the gift of being fully woman. Since then, I’ve been able to enjoy, even more, all the things I did before.

God has this ironic way of redeeming everything for those who love Him, and the gift of being able to appreciate goodness even more, as a result of the ugly I’ve been through, has been part of my redemption in it all.

I still dress up, wear make-up, and purchase an occasional new piece of simple jewelry. I still love fashion even though most days I’m knee deep in cleaning supplies at the job. Every once in awhile I still take out the curling iron, and I still love an elegant glass of wine.

If anything, those things mean more to me now because I’m joining the work force each morning and filling my car with gas along with a gazillion men who are all building houses, maintaining lawns, and pouring concrete. They make the mess; I clean the mess.

But recently, as I praised my ten year old son for his masculine protection over our home and family when someone ransacked our car in the night, I was bombarded with upset women because I dared imply that men are more protective than women, that we should all be content with our gender and simply live it up.

I even dared speak against transgender lifestyles. I’m not into the pop-Christian culture where sin is blatantly condoned. And I’m not afraid to mention Jen Hatmaker or her false interpretation of love.

But that’s another topic in itself. Back to daring to mention that men are protective.

I was blown away. Surely most of those women would happily take a protected place should war break out and the men around us rushed to the front lines to protect their homes and families. (I’d honestly love to see a line of feminists when the call to bear arms comes along. I dare say that at that moment, they’d love to let men be men.)

Of course there are female soldiers, too. But I’m talking majority here. There is simply no doubt that most men have a protective instinct and most women have a desire to be protected.

My little boy’s eyes lit right up as he planned how to scare a thief away from our car. And I, as his mother, could only stare at this tiny ten year old and wonder why he wasn’t afraid.

Say that on face book though, and you’ll get all kinds of “Women are definitely the strongest gender” kinds of comments.

I’m not sure what we have to prove here. Do women really feel obligated to do and be everything a man does and is?

For crying aloud, men can’t grow a human in their own bodies, give birth, or even care for a baby as instinctively as women can. We are just as strong, yes, but in a different way. There’s a (God-given) reason most little boys play guns and most little girls play dress-up.

Of course some girls are naturally “tomboy-ish”–and I happen to love scary adventures, mountain climbing, and such as well. We’re not making cookie-cutter descriptions here, but calling appreciation to the fact that genders are different and families need BOTH to function well.

We are just as important, yes, but we are not the same. If God wanted females to be as good at everything men are, He would have just created all of us male.

I’m weary of the twenty-first century where femininity is looked down on rather than appreciated. Have women forgotten they are bearers of beauty, kindness, and love? The world needs us—and every real man knows it.

When women release their femininity for something they think they should be, instead, something difficult comes in its place.

Insecure women bring control, unrest, and ugliness into this world. I’d say this universe needs the opposite—and I’m frankly honored that God created us for the task.

The other day I was cleaning a bath tub for a client when suddenly a massive something with a million legs came speeding up an unused drain. I screamed just a little, stepped back, and wondered what to do.

I could be the bravest ever and say with millions of other women, “Who needs men?” I could squash that creature with a wad of toilet paper. I could overcome every fear I’ve ever had of crawling creatures, and just do it.

Or, I could be okay with my fear, walk out to the garage, and ask the gentleman to please help me with this mini-animal scrambling around his tub.

I chose the latter and stayed far away until he walked out with a smile, a dead creature, and an apology. I thanked him, re-entered his bathroom, and made it cleaner than it’s ever been.

See this—I wasn’t weak for wanting help with a crawling creature speeding about with a million legs in the bath tub I was cleaning. And he wasn’t less of a man for not wanting to clean his house.

I own a cleaning business because I’m good at cleaning and I love organizing. Most days we clean three homes, some of which are obviously bachelor’s pads. Now, some guys are cleaner than women, but there’s a reason we often use extra soap on man caves.

See that term, man cave?

A woman will most likely call her home a nest. She’ll have plant rooms, dining rooms, a sitting room—all geared to love, nurture, and create a haven.

Both genders are strong, yet in opposite ways because we are meant to compliment each other and bring to this world what the other does not. When we both do our part, we create a beautiful balance. When we compare, fret, and feel less than, we create void by default, because when someone isn’t filling a spot, the spot is empty.

If women try to be men, what is left for real men to be attracted to? Who is there to care for, to love, to be hero for?

Before you bristle, ladies, remember that a man is biologically created to be a hero. Even Disney knows this. There’s a reason Cinderella wears the glass slippers and her real man rescues her.

Real men need real women, even in the twenty-first century.

Before you go haywire on me with all kinds of hormonal reactions, may I remind you that I write this as a single woman making my own way in the world?

I know how to start, own, and grow a business, hire employees, and manage a thriving company.

I know how to pay my bills, do my own yard work, use a weed trimmer, fill the lawn mower with gas, and check the tank for oil.

I know how to use a chain saw and I’ve spent hours cutting up fire wood with my children.

I can manage my website and work with people from one end of the spectrum to the other.

But, I’m still fully woman and it’s totally okay to have a man get that crawling whatever out of the bathtub while I stand there shaking.

We have nothing to prove, but everything to be.

Do what you need to do in life, but nurture those around you, bring beauty to every place you go, and find full satisfaction in being a woman. Appreciate and acknowledge what men do and are for you. Only an insecure woman has something else to prove.

You are so needed. Not half of you, but all of you.

Let every real man keep right on opening doors for women, and let every real woman thank him with a smile.

The attributes we do not possess are meant to be fully met in the other. Goodness calls to goodness as we both live fully in this world.

Single women, this is for you, too. You are every bit as much of a woman, and the world needs you. Remember to stay kind and bring both internal and external beauty to those around you.

Way of a Woman, Part 111

KNOWING OUR WORTH, Guest post by Kate Kenaston

So if every boy is born with a question, what questions is a girl born with? Some people say, “Am I beautiful?”

I disagree.

I believe it’s, “Am I accepted?”

When God went to form Eve, He could have used dirt just like man. But he chose to instead open Adam’s side and remove a rib. Adam was human.

There was blood and sacrifice involved.

Eve lived because Adam sacrificed his body.

When she was brought to Adam, the man verbally proclaimed her identity over her. His approval was not based on how well she performed her role. At that moment she had not done anything.

He approved of her, because she was HIS. She was taken out of him…and the man celebrated his sacrifice.

When Jesus came to earth, He left His acknowledged identity. He left His honor, His comforts, His dignity and His preferences. Laying down his life was much more than the cross. And when His life culminated on Golgotha and He died on the cross, His side was pierced and out flowed both blood and water.

His side was opened.

There was blood and sacrifice involved.

The church lives because Jesus sacrificed His body.

And Jesus verbally proclaims her identity. His approval is not based on how well she performs her role. We are approved of before we have done anything. He approves of us because we are HIS. We live because of Him and Jesus CELEBRATES His sacrifice.

There is a REASON for everything God says and does.

Women were created to be a physical representation of the church.

  • We are worth sacrifice.
  • We are valuable.
  • We are vital.

We desire to be loved, approved of, accepted, chosen and seen as blameless in our husband’s eyes, even IN our unacceptable state, because that is how Jesus sees His church. Innately we desire what we were created to receive.

And THAT is why men are called to love their wives as Christ loved the church.

He chooses her above his own reputation, comfort, conveniences and preferences. Put that with a woman who gives back to him all the honor, respect and admiration she can muster …you have something unstoppable.

You see, what most men don’t realize is when they truly forsake all others and cleave only to his wife and LAY DOWN THEIR LIVES, the honor, respect and submission they crave will be a spontaneous outflow of gratitude. Just like the church’s worship, respect, love, praise and celebration and the church’s spontaneous overflow to JESUS for what He has done.

Satan’s goal isn’t only to keep men isolated.

He is also out to keep women from feeling loved, because he knows that if he can keep us from feeling loved, we will have a hard time to truly honor.

There are many men who refuse to forsake all. Instead they cling to their identities, reputations and entitlements. If Jesus had done that, there would be no church.

But I don’t believe fulfilling our role depends on the other’s performance.

We have no excuses. And we will get into that later on.

We need to understand GRACE.

You love him with his imperfections, just as Jesus loves YOU.

John 15:12 “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.”

In order to GIVE this kind of GRACE, we have got to have experienced it ourselves. We cannot give what we do not have.

We have got to understand the grace God pours out on the church. We have got to be able to see ourselves in God’s eyes. Our identity has got to come from GOD…not our husband.

When our HEARTS are turned towards the FATHER, no matter what our actions are, He loves and accepts us. He accepts us when we are unacceptable, because our position is TOWARDS HIM.

It’s when we turn our back to Him, no longer willing to receive HIS input into our lives, that creates the void between us. And I believe that is what sinning against the Holy Spirit really means. It’s repeatedly choosing to block out His voice and refusing to listen. It’s hardening your heart. God doesn’t turn His face away. WE are the ones who turn.

Grace is being accepted when we are not acceptable.

It is trusting the identity that JESUS spoke over your life. That never fluctuates by your performance. The approval of God on your life is not dependent on the approval of your husband.

And when we can live in unshaken grace, we can extend unshaken grace.

You cannot extend what you don’t possess.

Pt. V: LIVING OUT EZER

Every military establishes a strategy BEFORE the conflict.

OUR STRATEGY: RESPECT & HONOR

Matthew 10:16 “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.

Let’s back up and review.

  • God believes in male and female equality (Gal 3:28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.)
  • God strategized, by establishing order and divvying out strengths/weaknesses.
  • We are not to look at our roles as “greater and lesser”. Jesus is “under” God, but we all know He isn’t lesser.
  • Women are a physical representation of the Bride of Christ and we relate to our husbands the way the church relates to Jesus.
  • every boy is born with a question: “Do I have what it takes?”

We know Satan wants to answer this question. His agenda is to prove to the man that he is as insignificant and incapable as his deepest fear whispers he might be.

Respect isn’t something we do because it’s the “right” thing to do. Remember, God doesn’t get bright ideas just for the thing of it. He does everything with a purpose. Showing respect is for a certain RESULT. It’s to accomplish something.

Have you ever asked the question, “Why should I honor, respect and submit?”

Unlike many authorities, God is never threatened by our questions. Acts 17:11 Paul commends the Bereans for questioning and studying. His reasons are big enough for questions.

Ephesians 5:22-33 ESV

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

To understand the meaning of a word, we need to back up and look at two things.

  • The etymology (original definition) of a word
  • And the context

So let’s do that here.

The Greek word “submit.” hupo-tasso-mai

The Greek word “submit” is a combination of a verb with a prefix. The verb “tasso” could be translated as “set, arrange, order.” What we miss right away in English is that this verb was a military term for arranging soldiers in ordered formation to confront an enemy. It was primarily military language for “designating, commissioning, appointing or deploying. Or “assign, appoint, arrange.” The ending of the word tells us we’re in the passive/middle voice.

Literally, we could read the verse, “deploy yourself under”.

Now we could read the verb as it appears in Ephesians 5:22 as “place yourselves under your husband” and you might be technically correct, and then you might look, as past translators have, for something like “be subject to” in order to render the verse in better, quicker English.

But…you lose the military context of hupotassomai, which is about forming up for battle and about deploying or stationing yourself to support.

Should we even be surprised? If God chose the military word Ezer to define woman’s role, doesn’t it make sense that He would chose another military term when assigning her the strategy?

What we are talking about is not an ancient Greek word for abstract obedience, but a concrete metaphor of military support!

Context of its use:

This translated word, “submit/deploy” is embedded within a passage that provides an extended military metaphor.

Eph 1, God’s power and plan:

  • 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,. (He just gave us the end goal.)
  • We celebrate the fact that we are adopted into God’s own family.
  • Vs 9 “God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ–which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time He will bring everything together under the authority of Christ.”

This is why He does the things He does. Think of this next part as his strategy, equipping us so we can help him accomplish this. This is going through Ephesians and giving a basic overview of subjects covered.

  • We are reminded how we are made alive again.
  • Importance of peace and unity among believers.
  • Explains how we are a temple of God.
  • The giftings to each believer. Your giftings are to forward the Kingdom of God, NOT to make you feel good about yourself.
  • Living as Children of light in a practical way.
  • Living by the Spirit’s power
  • Chap 5 Spirit-guided relationships Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (He talks about how we should walk as children o light…and then goes on to specific instructions to relationship: wives, hubands, children, servants…)

And THEN it goes into:

  • Putting on the Whole Armor of God

At the time, these letters were being written to challenge hierarchy, not support it.

Numerous times Paul talks about how men and women are “one body, fellow heirs, and husbands to love their wives as their own body.”

1 Cor 11:11-12 But among the Lord’s people, women are not independent of men, and men are not independent of women. For although the first woman came from man, every other man was born from a woman, and everything comes from God.

Lots of women cringe a little bit when reading 1 Cor 11. But I’m pretty confident that in Paul’s day, it was the MEN who were doing the cringing.

Eph 6:10-18 (Read this with your relationship with your husband in mind.)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.”

Now, I want to explore the meaning of the word, “head” used in Ephesians. I believe in God’s order of authority. We see that authority order lived out in Father God-Jesus-Church. Take a moment and dwell on how that order is lived out. I know a lot of us have experienced negative church experiences, where we haven’t experienced the Church living as a beloved Bride. But she is. And as we go into this, let’s mirror the God-Jesus-Church order and line it up with God (3-in-one)-man-woman order.

FATHER GOD-JESUS-CHURCH

GOD (3 in 1) – MAN – WOMAN

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

  • The meaning of the world translated as “head.”

The Greek word used here has two meanings. “Head” and “Origin.”

A “source. Like the head of a spring or a head of a river. ”

We don’t respect or submit because the man has better ideas. We don’t respect and submit to him because he is always right. We don’t respect or submit because it’s wrong to disagree.

And let’s think again. WHY does the church submit?

If we need to submit like that, we need to understand this.

It’s not to gain approval–we are approved of because of what JESUS did for us…not our own works. It comes from a genuine feeling of THANKFULNESS that spontaneously outflows. And that is how it should be in submitting to our husbands.

We respect him because we are accomplishing a goal.

We are strategizing WITH GOD.

We have a point to prove.

We have a question to answer.

We have a man to help.

And we are given the tools to accomplish that.

And this leads into something else. This is why I don’t believe in excuses. We aren’t victims–even if you find it impossible to submit with the same attitude that the church does. Remember that God is using military language, and war is never easy.


1 Peter 3:1-22

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.

1 Timothy 2:11-12 Women should learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them.

WHY? God did not intend these verses to be a three point plan on how to have the least conflict in marriage. He’s not afraid of conflict. God actually values tension.

I want you to remember that you are strategizing with God. Remember, God is the one who created man….and He knows how to teach you the language of a man’s heart.

And it goes right back to the question haunting your man’s every day. “Do I have what it takes?” To a man respect, honor and submission means, “I value you. You got what it takes. Your mistakes do not change the way I perceive you and YOU are more important to me than being right.”

It allows him to put his guard down, as he has nothing to prove.

It creates a safe space.

It opens his ears so he will listen to you.

It gives us a platform to speak into his life.

It is so much BIGGER than just doing what he says.

Like everything else, it’s your heart and what motivates you.

There are a lot of women going about the motions of respect and submission. They never dispute or challenge. They agree and comply. But all these motions are just for “doings sake.”

The purpose is forgotten, and just like a church loses life when religion sets in, so honor loses its power when it is no longer done on purpose.

2 Timothy 3:5 Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

The goal is not to “do the right thing.” We need to know what we are doing. WE need to be aware and active. We women have the Spirit of God inside us. We host power in that Spirit. And with the power invested in us, we can come against the devil and his agendas.

There is devastating damage when a church embraces religion. When the outward actions are put before the inward heart. When DOING is more important than BEING.

And God created us to exemplify the church.

Remember the ditch of Deadly Compliance? That passive control? Putting on a form of godliness for our OWN benefit. So we can feel good about ourselves. There are many women who submit just like that. To feel good about themselves. And it destroys their home, their husband, their children and their own lives.

Proverbs 31:10-12 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her,and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

We often think of finances when we talk about your husband trusting us. But can you prove to him that he can trust you with his failures, or does he always have to prove to you that he was right? Can he trust you with the painful parts of his past, or is he afraid that you will think less of him? Do you know RIGHT NOW what his present struggles are? Does he know you are co-laborers TOGETHER, with Christ, or does he feel like he is slogging up the path by himself?

So we build trust and believe in him.

We create safe spaces.

We have patience.

We do not fight for a place. We PREPARE a place.

Now some people stop at honor and respect, but Ezer isn’t just about making a man feel like he is capable of going out to battle, it’s about being willing to go out with him and fighting FOR him.

DOING BATTLE:

1 Corinthians 7:13 “If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he is consent to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband.”

I know. Most of us are married to really decent guys who love God and go to church.

And as women, we desire the approval and acceptance of our spouse more than anything. And what holds us back the most from being Ezer is fear. Fear of criticism, fear of rejection, fear of conflict. Fear of vulnerability. Exactly what Sapphira was afraid of.

Do you remember what Peter said about Sarah?

We are her daughters if we aren’t afraid.

If your actions are motivated by fear, they are the wrong actions.

So what do we do?

  1. Stop and renounce fear. Refuse to participate.

Fear will not only affect any decision you make, but it will make your husband react as well. When a woman is afraid it makes a man go on the defensive. He will feel like you don’t trust him and he will tend to want to control or else he will give up and stop trying. Neither stance is the response needed for healing.

When you allow yourself to see what is really going on, If all you can do is stand against fear, know that that in itself does a lot. There is power in recognizing a hurt area in your husband’s life, seeing for what it is, and standing against fear in your heart.

Why? Because standing against fear takes the power of God. You engage the darkness with light. You are willing to accept the tension it brings. And what is the opposite of fear? Yes, it’s faith. Faith, knowing that God is there. It’s not you and your words and your suggestions. Standing there, allowing yourself to see what is going on, and standing silently in faith before the Throne of God. Your husband doesn’t even have to know you are doing it. He’s feeling your love and respect. He is aware of your honor. Your presence means safety and warmth.

PRAYER IS WARFARE!

2 Corinthians 10:4 “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”

Luke 10:19 “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.”

Matthew 18:18 “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

We do not have authority over the man, but we definitely DO have authority over the spirit world!

Using your authority:

First we need to understand where it comes from.

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore….”

God himself is the power behind our authority!

We need to understand it belongs to us.

The Bible says that you are the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). Jesus is the Head, we are the Body — and His authority is perpetuated through the Body. When Jesus rose from the dead, He transferred His authority on earth to His Body, the Church. In God’s mind, when Christ was raised, we were raised.

Ephesians 2:6 “ the God raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.”

Both the Head and the Body are seated there, next to God, in the place of power and authority.

That means YOU are seated there! You are seated in the power position, and you are His heir (Romans 8:17). That means that everything that’s His — including His authority — now belongs to you.

Using it:

You have got to understand your true position of power in order to use it. Remember the verse that I read “Having a form of godliness but denying the power”? Meditate on your position in Christ until you fully grasp the revelation that you are seated with Him, and YOU ARE the one He moves through.

Then use your authority by speaking out what His Word says, using the Name of Jesus.

Think about that! When you use the Name of Jesus, believing that you’re seated with Him at the right hand of God, you are backed by all the power in heaven! Every knee must bow to that Name (Philippians 2:10).

Jesus made it very clear that His Name is the key to all authority:

“Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 13:13-14).

How does this work out?

You know your husband’s weaknesses as well as satan does.

You can identify the vulnerable areas and approach the areas satan is destroying in your husband’s life and come against them in Jesus’ name.

If it’s a relationship with a child, you can pray over that area. Even while an encounter is going on, you can pray against satan’s agendas. You can barr him from entering into the relationship.

You can pray that Holy Spirit will enlighten your husband to lies he believes. And you can ask Him to strategize WITH you by giving you thoughts, questions and words you can speak into his life.

All this can be (and I believe should be) done without your husband knowing it. All he is aware of right now is your honor, your trust, and a new confidence and strength that radiates out of you.

Remember, it’s not your husband you are taking authority over. It’s darkness.

SPEAK:

For some of us, this is the hardest part of all. It feels super vulnerable to allow the Spirit to flow out of us to our man. And honestly I have no formula to give you, except love.

When Holy Spirit speaks, the motivation is ALWAYS love and empowerment.

If you are not motivated by love, it’s not the Spirit of God.

And the right words spoken in the wrong spirit are NEVER right.

  • Have you ever prayed outloud over your man?
  • Have you put your hands on him and blessed him?
  • Have you looked him in the face and told him, “

Holy Spirit is in you. I believe in you. I see Jesus in you. I really love the way you related with that child. I’m so thankful for you. May your spirit rule over your mind and body today. Thank you for all your do for us.

Are you intimidated or afraid by these suggestions?

If so, I ask you why? It’s worth exploring.

And I remind you that just like Sarah, you should not allow fear in your life.

I am not sure when He will tell you speak life into the man in your life, or what words God will give you, but if you allow your heart to overflow in honor. If you stand against darkness. If you pray in the spirit. I know that in the moment you need them, God will give you in the exact moment you need them, the words he needs to hear.

So what would have happened, if Sapphira would have been willing to be Ezer?

What if she would have made herself a safe place where Ananias could have voiced his insecurities? Showing honor, voicing appreciation, refusing to cower, refusing to bow to the spirit of fear…and yet asking nudging questions, little by little to guide him into exploring the places in his heart he’s afraid to go.

And once she was a safe place and Ananias opened up, sharing his insecurities, she held his heart and PROVED her trustworthiness. What if instead a lecture or silence, she spoke words of faith and love. All bathed in respect and honor. Proving to him that he wasn’t a “lesser” man in her eyes. Proving to him that he isn’t his worst fears.

And yet, when the time came. If he still decided to go ahead and pretend religious righteousness, she could have stood for what is right. She wouldn’t have lied to Peter.

She wouldn’t have been afraid.

Believe me, you are up to this task!

God has equipped you with every skill needed to be Ezer.

  • He gave you an identity to represent in physical form the most treasured part of His life. His bride. His church.
  • He has given to physical characteristics to see past the physical day-to-day.
  • He gave you the tools and strategy you need to reach your husband’s heart.
  • He gives you grace–seeing you as accepted even when you are unacceptable.
  • He gave you all authority to resist darkness.

And He has given you the strength to see it through, because He promises that you can do ALL things through Him.

Matthew 16 the disciples start worrying if they have enough food because they forgot to bring any. Jesus reminds them of all the miracles He worked, providing for their needs.

And then in verse 13 He asked a question:

“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

I believe that we can take that verse literally.

Jesus will provide not only the daily bread you need, but He also has given you the keys. When we know who Jesus is and thus know who we are in Him, any lie, stronghold or struggle the man in your life faces, cannot withstand an Ezer. The gates of hell cannot withstand us.

“Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm, she’ll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she’ll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she’ll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she’ll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her.”― Erick S. Gray

Way of a Woman, Part II

Guest post by Kate Kenaston

Pt II: THE DEFINITION

The Hebrew word for “help suitable” is pronounced, Ezer Kenegdo

Ezer is the word God chose to use when defining woman’s role. It’s a very difficult word to translate into English, as the word “Help” has a very broad usage, everything from acting as someone’s assistant to rescuing someone. Generally ezer and related words are used in a military context where someone is actively receiving help against an enemy. When this word is read in it’s Biblical context, there is a strong sense of coming to someone’s defense. Proactively coming to help someone in their need. Some people had said that “rescue” would have been a better word, but though the context of the word is often used in rescue situations, Hebrew had a word specifically for “rescue”….and God could have used it if He had wanted to.

In the Old Testament the word Ezer is used 21 times. Only two of those times does it apply to the woman. Three of those times Ezer is used for nations to whom Israel appealed for military aid and sixteen times God uses the word Ezer to apply to Himself when God is talked about at Israel’s helper.

And because we know that God does all things perfectly, let’s explore those verses:

Ezer used for God as Israel’s helper.

““O Lord, …give (Judah) strength to defend their cause; help them against their enemies.”

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭33:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

““There is none like God, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty.”

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭33:26‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion!” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭20:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭33:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay!”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭70:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“O Israel, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭115:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭1211-:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“He destroys you, O Israel, for you are against me, against your helper.” ‭‭Hosea‬ ‭13:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What these verses have in common is that Ezer is used consistently in military context.

The Ezer is undoubtedly a warrior.

Kenegdu. This is sort of a mix of three words. The ke part means “according to” and the negd part means “in front” or “opposite” and the u part means “of him.” If you stick these together in English and translate them literally, it doesn’t really make any sense, which is why translations vary a fair amount. The central idea seems to be that God is making someone a helper that is the “opposite of Adam” in some way. In English “opposite” sounds more negative, which is why it isn’t translated that way. This probably means that she is “opposite” like “corresponding to.” A very loose (and more interpretive) translation might read that God made Eve to be the mirror image of Adam, that they aren’t the same, they aren’t copies of each other, but they do fit each other. Expounding the idea a bit, I think it would be implying that their differences are made to be complementary. She is strong where he is weak and he is strong where she is weak, and that would be why she could be such a necessary help to him.

We’ve all heard the comparison that mens’ brains are waffles and womens are spaghetti.

Men in general like to compartmentalize things and for a woman, everything is connected to EVERYTHING!

God never does anything on a whim.

Neither is He like us and makes a decision and then has to make another to compensate for missing a vital piece of information.

That means that men, with their common thought patterns, traits, instincts and tendencies are just as they should be.

  • That means men are SUPPOSED to be less communicative than women.
  • They are naturally less emotionally driven.
  • They are driven to conquer.
  • They were created to fix things.
  • They also were created with a co-partner in mind! (That means they are SUPPOSED TO need your help at remembering and finding things. Women, don’t complain about something that is our JOB.)
  • They were made to doggedly put one foot in front of the other. Day after day, shouldering responsibility and persistently doing life.

Their life is a life of doggedly doing.That is one of their greatest strengths as well as being one of their greatest weaknesses.

And that means that women, with their common thought patterns, traits, instincts and tendencies are just as they should be.

  • That means we are suppose to need to use words.
  • We are created to be emotionally driven.
  • We were designed to desire to love and be loved.
  • We were designed to be ATMOSPHERE CREATORS.
  • It’s our job to help him find the mayonnaise, the words, and the strength to keep going.
  • We were created to have a desire to be seen and heard.
  • We were created to be valued, honored and cherished.

It is said that every man is born with a question on his tongue and it haunts him the rest of his life: “Do I have what it takes?”

Remember the “opposite, mirror image” male and females are to each other? Satan wants to answer that question, but I believe our differences were created to answer it. (And in case you are wondering, women were also created with a question…but we will get to that later.)

Instead of our differences working together, satan has everything geared towards division. Movies, media are classic for this. Emotional damage is sustained by both genders and both men and women’s coping patterns of avoidance and protection are being used to divide and isolate.

  • Women stuff their emotional tendencies and try to toughen up. They feel like they need to prove that they don’t need or desire the security a healthy man brings.
  • Men are mocked for not seeing the ketchup in the fridge and pretend they don’t care.They feel inadequate, so they have a constant sense of needing to prove something. A lot of domination we see today comes as a result of being threatened and insecure.

Now, God has a sense of humor absolutely, so while it’s okay to laugh at jokes, take a moment to search your heart. Do you secretly despise him for something he was created with?

Satan’s tactics are two-fold.

  • Keep women from recognizing what Ezer is, and by default, men are isolated.
  • And to keep people threatened, shamed and insecure to ensure that humans will try to dominate humans.

God gave man dominion over the earth and the things in it, but He never gave humans permission to control humans.

We were created to be different. We process things differently. But we are designed and equipped to fulfill our role well.

I get the mental image of two warriors trekking down a jungle trail.

The man keeps to the trail.

He goes at a steady pace.

His determination and desire to conquer keeps him focused.

He keeps his head and bearings.

He has the physical strength to overcome obstacles.

He is focused on reaching the destination.

The woman is right in step next to him.

She is intune to the surroundings.

Alert to danger, the sound of water or sensitive to approaching enemies.

She veers in and out of the jungle around them.

She is a keen strategizer.

BOTH are equipped in weaponry.

Both are secure in the other’s knowledge and skills.

Both cover for each other in an attack. They have learned to work with each other, covering for each other’s weaknesses, and trusting each other’s strengths. They aren’t threatened by the other’s gifts, instead they are thankful for them and they count on using them. There is nothing to prove. They are one unit with one mission.Because survival depends on BOTH being strong.

Now, with this in mind, let’s read over the verses where Ezer is used for the woman…

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And to give a picture of what God was envisioning when He said that…

“Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs.””‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭33:29‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What do people call when being attacked by a dog?

“Help!”

What about if a person is drowning?

“Help!”

At that moment, they are not asking for an indecisive person offering them tea on a tray.

They are begging for active relief and assistance!

That, my friends, is what we are.

We are “Help.”

We are the answer to that cry.

We are a partner to work as a team.

We know our spouse’s weaknesses and they know ours and we cover for eachother.

We are a co-strategizer to defeat the odds.

We are perfectly fitted together so our differences lock together to make a formidable force.

We are Ezer.

God never does something on a whim. He is intentional. There is a reason God chose the military term “ezer” instead of a cozy and comfortable word that would translate as “companion or encourager.” Lack of good company wasn’t the reason why man shouldn’t be alone.

Pt. III: WORKING IT OUT

I don’t believe that “Ezer” only applies only to married men and women. “Ezer Kenegdo” explains the reason why women are in the world. It applies to your relation to all men you come in contact with. Why? Because Jesus was single and totally and completely fulfilled His mission. It was HE that coined the phrase “life abundantly”. In Matthew 19 He gives logical reasons for remaining single. Paul defended and even encouraged singlehood.

  • Marriage is a physical representation of what Jesus did for His Church
  • Singlehood is a physical representation of Jesus WAITING for His church.

Jesus is still human, He is still single and He is still waiting.

Marriage is a lot like having kids. Complicated. Worth it? ABSOLUTELY!

But it can complicate healing in the individuals involved. Soul ties and dependence are created, and though absolutely God-ordained within the confines of marriage, satan has come in with sin and wrecked havoc. Remember that whatever God states as “good” satan singles out to destroy.

This next part may seem like I am speaking to wives, but I’m not. If you are single, listen with an open mind and evaluate what you have been taught in the past, your reactions, your preconceived notions, and your relationships with the men in your life. And who knows…you might someday need this. 🙂

Ephesians 6:12

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

2nd Corinthians 2:11

“So that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.”

Whatever God wants, we know that the devil works towards the opposite end. But the cool thing is that we can recognize the devil’s tactics.

If God says, “It isn’t good for a man to be alone,” we can be assured that the devils goal is to isolate men. Like every road we have ever seen, there are two ditches. And both were created to isolate the man.

The Ditch of Feminism

Because satan plays two sides of the coin, you can be sure that he is trying to raise up controlling, domineering men. It is a definite spirit with an agenda of control in an unhealthy manner. I do believe though, that the most domineering men are the most insecure as they are trying to prove their competence by domination. But I’m not speaking to men. I’m speaking to women.

We have a job, regardless of what is going on on the other side.

But nevertheless, there is also a Spirit of Feminism. Jezebel, we sometimes call her. One of her goals is to persistently show men that they are inconsequential. Movies are classic for this. Men are portrayed as the oafs who can’t find their shoes, can’t find the mayonnaise and who can’t manage the kids. Men are no longer heroes, instead we are led to wonder how they manage without women. Again, Satan turns what was a God-ordained, intentional gift of needing women into a shame which incites a negative reaction.

“If a man can do it, women can do it too…if not better.”

When we are in this ditch, we feel like we have something to prove.

We fight for the man’s place.

We want their titles.

Their platforms.

We use our influence to silence their opinion.

We feel threatened.

We secretly despise him for who he is.

The end goal of feminism is to show men they aren’t needed. That they aren’t leaders.

It makes sure that a man knows that he is incapable, and never gives him a chance to prove otherwise.

And I ask you, is this not the very spirit that makes men want to dominate? It doesn’t matter which gender this spirit lives in, it’s wrong. What is in us that compels us to prove our worth?

When a woman allows feminism to live out of her heart, men are alone.

This ditch shouldn’t surprise us, because though feminism wasn’t created by God, it is a direct result of the fall.

“And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.” Genesis 3:16

So the power struggle was born.

God is holy and good. He doesn’t create evil to punish us. Yet He is omniscient, so He knows all things. And just like we know that a room gets dark when we turn off the light, He knew the result when sin entered the world, and so He did what He could. He warned us.

But it’s good for us to remember again, that Ezer was created before the fall.

Our place is not a punishment.

The Ditch of Deadly Compliance

This stance of wordless obedience is actually a form of passive control. It is intentionally blinding yourself and accepting decisions regardless of the consequences. It is exactly what Adam did to Eve. He stood with her, received the fruit and (seemingly) unquestioningly ate it. THEN, when God called him out, he did what? He blamed Eve, washing his hands of all guilt and playing the victim. And ever since then, we women like to play the same game right back.

The heart of it is so ugly. Deep down in the center of it is, “It’s his decision. If he wants to do this, the outcome is his fault.” We wash our hands and submit. And it’s so sneaky because it looks so good.

It even looks “Biblical”.

BOTH of those ditches gives the devil what he wants. Neither empower the man to fulfill his God-given role because in both of them he is isolated.

Jezebel either smashes masculine worth or incites male dominance.

Deadly Compliance never questions. It mindlessly and mechanically goes about seemingly doing the right things, but with no purpose and power.

And satan has a hayday. He can feed men lies all day long. A man can live out and rule over his family, all the while completely isolated in himself and out of line of the partnership God intended. All the while never being questioned.

And he is exactly where satan wants him.

Let’s explore a situation where a woman walked in this ditch…

Acts 5:1-2

Ananias and Sapphira

NKJV: “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”

NLT: “But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount.

With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest.

Amplified: “Now a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s full knowledge [and complicity] he kept back some of the proceeds, bringing only a portion of it, and set it at the apostles’ feet.”

ESV: “But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”

I’m going to start reading between the lines here…

We don’t know the full conversation between them, but we know that historically at this time, men didn’t normally ask for their wives opinions when conducting business matters. It’s very unlikely that Ananias would have thought to ask Sapphira’s opinion before deciding. Also take note of the word usage: “Aware of it. Consent. Full knowledge.” It’s not like the scene painted in Esther when Haman’s wife actively planned the gallows that was to hang Mordecai. It does not say, “Plan with. Decide together. Conspired to.”

Ananias made a decision and Sapphira knew what he had decided. And she chose to go along with it rather than risk conflict. She remained silent.

She wasn’t willing to be Ezer.

She left Ananias alone.

Before we are too hard on her, let’s just think for a moment. She probably also was used to not sharing opinions. Just the fact that Ananias felt like he had to pretend to gain acceptance shows that he was a deeply insecure man…and insecure men often take even suggestions as a threat, let alone an outright question. There’s a good chance he had anger issues, rejection issues or perhaps he had a silver tongue that made her feel stupid.

When Peter called her and asked her if they had sold the piece of property for the amount stated, she didn’t know her husband was dead. She couldn’t hide behind his decision and play the victim. But she stood there and was afraid. I am certain she had a flashback of what would happen if she spoke the truth and Ananais found out. So she chose her husband over what she knew was right. And she paid the price.

What should she have done? Let’s explore it.

1 Peter 3:4-6

“But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.

… And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.”

And this is the catch.

Women were created to want to be desirable to men.

We crave their admiration.

We crave their approval.

We crave acceptance.

We want to make them proud of us.

To stand up and speak up risks all of that.

But I believed that God instilled in us the gift of foresight and He gave it to us for a reason.

There is a REASON why “everything is connected to everything.”

We know.

We know when our husband is losing his children’s hearts.

We know when he is coping with childhood wounds.

We see when he is driven by insecurities or threatened by authority.

We can list the lies he believes.

We often understand his motives better than he does.

We see the future and where it is leading.

All these are part of our calling! We were designed to see all these things!

For many of us, the “submit and respect” commands have gone so deep we feel guilty for seeing our husbands weaknesses. .It feels easier to just ignore and agree than to engage our concerns. Or, we allow our panic to force us into nagging him prematurely.

You might see rejection ruining your husband’s relationships.

You might see how fear makes him control his family.

You might recognize how he uses humor as a protection against vulnerability.

You might recognize how hurts make him harsh with the children.

Or you may see how insecurity keeps him from living his potential.

We were created to see past the outward, and into the reason behind the action.

But so often, we are afraid.

  • We are afraid to acknowledge our husband’s weakness because we haven’t experienced healing ourselves so we aren’t sure there is healing for him.
  • We don’t know what it’s like to experience unconditional acceptance, so we don’t know how to give it.
  • We feel like recognizing his failings is somehow disrespectful.
  • We don’t trust ourselves to respond rightly to them.
  • There is hurt inside of us that will be exposed by being honest with how we feel, and so it’s easier to just ignore it than risk vulnerability.
  • We don’t know how to be okay in imperfection.
  • We aren’t patient enough to prepare a safe place.

And this is the main reason why Peter tells us, “do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

Remember how we talked about how men’s instinctive responses are God-given? Men are destination oriented. They don’t see the mayonnaise in the fridge because their eyes were created to see the big picture. They are well aware the fridge is full…it’s the mayonnaise they can’t find.

Men don’t like being told what to do.

In a healthy man, it makes them decisive, level headed and confident.

In a healthy man, we women admire those traits. They make us feel safe and protected.

But remember, just as God created men with their characteristic tendencies,

God also created US women “Kenegdo.” We are “opposite: as pertaining to.”

EVERY strength has a weakness.

Men are do-ers. They find it easier to “do” than to analyze uncomfortable feelings.

Women tend to be feelers. We know everything has a reason behind it.

Men are leaders.

They doggedly stick to the trail.

They were created to be competent, and can be threatened by too many suggestions, because suggestions can sound like they aren’t perceived as being capable.

All these things make them the leaders God sees them to be. These characteristics are not our enemy. I find it remarkable that our perfect God is so okay with imperfection that he created human beings with strengths and thus weaknesses on PURPOSE.

So if men don’t like receiving directions, how can we help them?

Do you remember how every boy is born with an unanswered question burning on his heart.“Do I have what it takes?”

Satan’s goal is to make sure that question destroys him. And though it is said that a little boy’s father should be the one to answer that question, I believe that women’s job is to answer it again and again and again.

Respect and honor is meant to do just that.

Inside you is the map to help guide your husband into wholeness into the places in his life that he will never go on his own. Holy Spirit is there to help to navigate it–all without him knowing. This is where “respecting and submitting” comes in.

But first, we have to know a few things ourselves, because this next part is what makes respect and honor powerful….

Minimize Stuff, Maximize Christ

I shoved two more bags of “stuff” into the car with great satisfaction. There’s nothing as good as clearing the house of excess.

Minimalism is on an all time high. You get the look—crisp white walls with minimal décor and a few succulents gracing a shelf or two. Very different than the oldies look of stuff, stuff, and more stuff.

Just recently I turned old brown paneling into a crisp white wall—well, actually, a painter did–a  super kind one who didn’t charge me a penny for his labor. I sold old furniture and purchased new décor. The results were remarkable.

three green assorted plants in white ceramic pots
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

I love minimizing.

Having less is great until we carry that over into kingdom living. In God’s kingdom, there is lavish excess and he wants us to tap into it, daily. But, it’s so easy to be frugal with our dedication to God.

Loving Jesus means abundance and passion, excess comfort in all circumstances, and care for every detail of our lives. And such a good God deserves maximum focus.

Americans often give Jesus just enough attention to “get into heaven”. But loving Jesus isn’t about getting to a place; it’s about knowing a person.

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When all you want to do is get to heaven, you’ll treat Jesus Christ like one of those lovely succulents on the shelf of your home, there to grace your atmosphere with His presence and make your life beautiful. But you won’t breathe deeply of the very essence of Christ as you go about your day and your heart won’t really vibe with the good news of being born again.

Words like “born again” will sound like foreign language. Who says that, nowadays?

You’ll feel like Nicodemus when he asked Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time in his mother’s womb, and be born?” (John 3:4, ESV)

Or, you’ll feel like I did today as I sat a little wearily in a large crowd, but warmth and excitement overtook my heart as the pastor spoke about really knowing Jesus.

Knowing Jesus is different than knowing how to be good. I know what it’s like to be a good girl, but have no peace. That’s because Jesus isn’t interested in my goodness; He’s interested in me seeing that I need His redemption.

I remember the day I realized that no one can be good enough for God, and I had this vile sin nature within me that even my outwardly good life couldn’t answer for. I went to Jesus Christ for his free gift of mercy, and found that the best day of my life came at the end of my own resources. I found mercy only when I realized I desperately needed mercy. 

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But I didn’t stop trying to be good enough for God. I had always, always, always tried to gain the approval of people by being good. And, I figured God would kick me to hell if I wasn’t good all the time. My efforts exhausted my heart, and  still I had little peace.

Then, Jesus showed me who he was. A beautiful, wonderful Savior who was more like a Father. An intimate Friend who was closer than a brother. A Lover who would love me unconditionally. Someone Who was always present, always available. Someone who wouldn’t rebuke me or point out my flaws unless it was met with equal mercy and forgiveness.

I fell in love with THAT PERSON, and there was nothing minimal about it.

I began to pray that God would maximize my love toward Him and all those He loves.

I want to be His hands, His feet, His heart in a world of brokenness and pain (of which I know much). 

I learned to have fun and live fully. I learned to laugh even when I was crying—because the joy of the Lord was my strength, and He gave me richly all things to enjoy. I learned that the key to living a sanctified life was being deeply in love with a sanctified Savior. 

You can’t be connected to Someone without becoming like that Someone.

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This is why, when others talk of church buildings, religion, and denominations, my mind draws a blank and my heart doesn’t resonate. Religion is nothing to me, but Jesus is everything. And sometimes, like He did, I find more love and grace with non-religious people than I do with those who line the pews of a stained glass church.

When they tell me, “I don’t know if I’m a Christian, but I do believe in God”, my heart (and sometimes my mouth) says, “Please make sure you know the person of Jesus Christ.” 

We can be minimalists with every THING, but not with every ONE. Jesus Christ is more than a sweet idea gracing our lives and making sure we get to a certain place; He’s a Person who wants to fill our lives and gift us with supernatural GRACE.

Gateway to Forgiveness…….

I still have that Edward Jones coffee cup in my house, that masculine looking one they gave me after catching those tears during lunch hour.

What does forgiveness look like?” I asked the pastor and his wife. “Because right now, I don’t even know.”

I wanted to forgive. But I also needed to process, and sometimes the process of processing is long, hard, and ugly.

In times of crisis, one may go from grief, to anger, to despair, and all the way back to grief again. It doesn’t help when well-meaning people tell you to “let go and move on” and that you’ll have a better life in a short while.

You didn’t want another life; you wanted God to fix the one you already had, but instead it all fell to flames and the devastation was so great that you didn’t know how to breathe,walk, or move. 

To the soul in crisis, grieving often feels okay, but difficult. It’s the anger part we don’t know what to do with. At least for people like me who were conditioned to believe that anger is sin, and avoided it at all costs.

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For crying out loud, I’d repent in tears if I let the slightest bit of edge creep into my voice when I spoke to my children on a bad day. I hated tension of any sort and wanted everything gentle, kind, and peaceful. But when my life went up in smoke with all kinds of ugly, I knew it was unrealistic to feel “gentle” and “peaceful” about what went down.

I began a quest to be real with my feelings, real with God, and real with humanity.

I realized that Jesus tipped money tables over in righteous anger when the Jews brought their marketing into His temple.

I also realized God sent His Son to die for every sin on the planet. Not only that, one doesn’t need to work hard to receive forgiveness like this. It’s a gift, one none of us deserve, yet all get to receive.

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Daily, I’m struck with the mercy of God and I’ve spent a life-time focusing on mercy. It appeals to my make-up and the way I want to live. But I’ve seen that one can only truly release and forgive if one grasps the fact that God is also a God of justice.

When I see that God holds justice in his hand and invites me to release all wrong to His control, I can truly forgive and release.

My God never said there was no vengeance; He said “vengeance is mine.” When I see that God holds both justice and mercy in a balance that I can’t even describe, I am able release the offender as well as the offense to a God who sees all and knows all.

God won’t just swoop down and force someone to change but get this, ladies who need intervention—He sees it all and knows exactly what to do when you don’t.

This sounds trite and we all think, “Of course He does, but that changes nothing for me right now.”

Broken soul, will you remember this with me: Your God knows when to render justice and when to give mercy.  He’ll give you wisdom when to speak up and when to be silent. Sometimes His justice speaks out strongly; other times His mercy waits quietly. He will show you what to do when you wait on Him. 

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I cannot, hard as I may try, change my circumstance. But seeing God changes everything, and I invite every broken soul to join me on this journey to healing where I’m finding life in hidden places and springs in driest desserts.

I’ll never forget that lunch hour in the office of Edward Jones where my friend handles finances with such expertise. I’ll never forget how she and her husband caught my tears over cups of mid-day coffee.

Because sometimes all we need to know is that we don’t have to know when to feel what, because God knows exactly what to do all the time.”

Let it go, and learn to live fully in the very moment you breathe. 

 

Navigating Your Brain

I took the little ones’ hands and walked as quickly as I could.

We had just emerged from the forest and hadn’t ended up where we had planned on meeting the other kids. My heart was sick with worry even though I knew they were okay.

Though on foot, I hit Google maps and began walking swiftly in the direction it led. After about a half mile, I realized it was leading us astray.

Ever walked in circles trying to get somewhere, worried about your other kids?

The woods were deep and the trails varied and confusing, but we were on small paved roads that should surely lead us back to the car. What was the problem?

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Ever ran your mind in circles trying to come up with a plan that worked? A plan that would lead you out of a mess?

Ever landed up exactly where you were at, before? Wondering how it was possible to waste so much time?

We navigate our own brain a million times, only to come up with a solution that leads us to a shack in the woods rather than our own sturdy home. I wonder when we will tune in on God’s word to us, and tune out on our own words to ourselves.

This God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 18:30, ESV)

What is God saying to you right now, friend? 

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Did you know his word to your heart is perfect, even when your circumstances are not? Can you take the dare to listen carefully and follow his road map even when your own thoughts run in circles and you’re tempted to conjure up your own plan?

The God who equipped me with strength, and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.

He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.

You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip.” Psalm 18: 32-36, ESV

Are we all the way in with God? We cannot receive his comfort unless we’re first willing to give up our own discomfort.

Rather than fight your trial, purpose to use your energy to pursue the heart of God for your trial. Only he knows the way out of the maze.

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Others may think they do, and God will use them to pull you through. But never allow their words to replace God’s word to your heart. God’s word is sure, and human words may contradict each other, leading you round and round another maze.

Only listen in when human words match with God’s words.

Don’t fear your trial. Don’t fight it. Jesus himself ended his earthly life in excruciating pain while bearing blame he never deserved in a million years.

There would have been no empty tomb had there been no occupied cross.

There are no plants springing up without a seed buried and dead under the soil.

And there will be new life for you when you are fully willing to die to your old.

For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you.

And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your teacher.

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’”

And he will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous.” Isaiah 30: 19-21a, ESV

Running your own mind in circles will inevitably lead you to mental exhaustion and, most likely, worthless, fruitless striving.

Slow it down. Breathe. Not everything has to be fixed today.

Only move when the word is sure to your heart. Realize that your part is to receive from the Lord rather than produce for yourself.

As you learn to adopt his word to your circumstance rather than try to fix your circumstance, your way will become bright and sure. You will be a shining light, glowing on a dark path.

No lamp the Lord lights is put under a basket or in a closet. Let His word shine light through you, and you will find that your circumstances no longer control you.

 Let there be rivers of living water flowing through you, out of you, headed to thirsty souls who want to know what grace life really is.

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Let truth govern you, calm you, reign your mind in a world of many voices. Refuse to run the circle, and choose instead to run the race. 

We navigated our way through the maze of small roads, and spotted the van. The kids were there, waiting, wondering where mama had been. I was certainly grateful as I turned the key.

The road led home, and the maze was gone.

Friend, are there others waiting for you to get out of the maze of your own mind? Are your kids longing for you to see clearly and walk with clarity?

Will you tune in on a sure word from the Healer Himself? 

His word will lead you home, out of the maze. And if your circumstances don’t change, your heart will—because God is good.