Things I Want My Daughter to Know: Living By Faith Is Probably the Most Important Thing We’ll Ever Show You

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Not that we do it perfectly, but we are striving to set an example of what it looks like to live your life based upon total faith in God so that you and your brothers see our faith lived out as a witness to how great and faithful God, Himself, is.

Ever since the beginning of our marriage, before we even had kids, we knew we wanted to leave a legacy of faith within the hearts of our children – one that would hopefully extend far beyond our reach to the generations to come.  In the Proverbs 31 series, we looked at specific people from history – particularly the mothers since I am a mother – who by living out their faith in front of their children, were able to have faithful descendants that multiplied enormously in just 100 years time.  We looked at how dramatically this affected our nation by producing so many productive, Christian, members of society.  We connected the family that was tracked with the Parable of the Sower:

“Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”  Matthew 13:8

The Goal of a Christian’s Life Should Be to Be Used By God

We also want you to understand that the goal of a Christian’s life, should be to be used by God.  And when one lives by faith, God uses them more than the average Christian.  This is a topic that would seem controversial, because it sounds so unfair.  But like we learned in my book detailing the virtuous wife of Proverbs 31, women respond differently to God depending on the soil of their hearts.  The good thing is that we control the kind of soil we keep, which represents the way we respond to God asking us to obey Him.

The way you’re currently obey God affects your entire outlook on life, but especially your motivation to develop a strong, courageous kind of faith.

Image result for parable of the sower

We also learned that God gives out spiritual gifts and abilities unequally, when we looked at the Parable of the Talents in the Proverbs 31 woman series.  We may be given spiritual gifts unequally, but it is fair in that God doesn’t expect from someone with only the capacity of 1 talent, to give Him a return of 10 when He inspects their efforts.  He expects we do our part with what we are given, but He is not a cruel master or unfair in expecting more from someone who doesn’t have that ability.

That said, there’s something God wishes for all of us to have equally, that will develop a heart of good soil and help us to do incredible things for Him in seen or unseen ways!  It doesn’t take having 10 talents, or even being a Type A Super Go-Getter kind of woman, this is something He desires for all people, and it is the single determining factor that explains how much God will use you in your life to do His work.

I heard a sermon maybe a month ago, which brought all this into a much more concise and understandable reason as to why God does use some people more than others, and how this greatly blesses them, and makes their life far more fulfilling.  This chapter is entirely based upon the thoughts of Chip Ingram, in understanding why God has more favor on, or tends to use some people, more than others.

We want to help you develop into the kind of woman whom God will use much more than just the average woman!  Not only were you prophesied over as an infant, but you come from a long legacy of faith from both your sides of your family.  You’ve come from people who have helped birth Christianity not only in their own families, but even in their communities by becoming Pastors and teachers of God’s Word.

You are related to a man who was even martyred for his faith in God.  Withstanding persecution is in your blood.

And we’re not talking about something grand, although it is possible that God would call you to something like that, it’s much more likely that you will impact His kingdom for good in extremely powerful, but almost unnoticeable ways.

The Most Important Thing to Be Used By God

All it takes to do more than the average Christian, to be used by God, and have more favor and blessings on your life, is faith.

That’s all it is, but it is SO PROFOUND.  This one thing – your faith in God – will determine the entire course of your life.  And I’m not talking about “faith” in that you prescribe to a certain religion (faith) and believe it’s the right one like Catholicism or Orthodox Christians.  But actually having a strong relationship with God where you read His Word every morning, spend lots of time praying to Him and knowing Him through His Word.

We want you to have the kind of faith that is real – believing what God said and ACTING on it in your real life.

For we walk by faith, not by sight.”  2 Cor. 5:7

We want you to see us having the kind of faith where we act on it when we feel like it, and we act on it especially when we don’t feel like it.  You will have this kind of faith, as well.

We act on it when it makes sense, and we act on it when it sounds like the dumbest thing in the world.

Faith is believing God – He commends it, He rewards it, He justifies you by faith.  It is probably the most important thing in your life, Little One, learning how to fully have faith in God and allow that to direct all the rest of your life.  It is probably the single determining factor for how well you will do in your Christian life.

For we walk by faith, not by sight!!

 

He uses people who don’t shrink back when facing insult, persecution, etc.

It’s not enough to just be religious and attend church.  You need to stand your ground for the hard stuff, and take whatever Satan brings on.  Christians who are used by God because they live by faith, will often have to face suffering and public exposure to ridicule, slander, criticism and even if it comes to it – confiscation of their property, imprisonment, and death.

Yes, even though this may not be a popular message (although ironically it is so needed at this time), we’re called to have a strong faith to persevere and endure ALL things for His sake.  Many Christians honestly just don’t have that kind of faith to not shrink back when even just the slightest beginnings of persecution start to affect their lives.

More than that though, God actually expresses displeasure when a believer shrinks back from persecution.  It proves they don’t have faith in Him or pure motivations in how they were serving Him.

And not only are we called to stand strong in the face of persecution (and not shrink back), we’re supposed to endure all these things without complaining.  It’s not wholesome for a Christian to be whining and complaining about their perceived persecutions, and no, asking for prayers during a time of persecution is not whining or complaining (typically).

We’re called to endure persecution, slander, judgment, public ridicule, imprisonment, torture or death, joyfully and confidently, so that we come out in victory through God and bring glory to Him for allowing us to stand and not cringe or shrink back from our persecutors.  In other words, yes, it’s better to die for Christ than to shrink back or complain about being persecuted.  From what I’ve seen, it’s sadly normal to find that Christian women shrink back VERY readily and fast – much to their shame and dishonor of their God.

Hebrews 10:32

Remember the earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings.

Sometimes you were publicly exposed to taunts and afflictions, and at other times you were companionsof those who were treated that way.  For you sympathized with the prisoners and accepted with joy the confiscation of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves have a better and enduring possession.

So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised.

“For in yet a very little while, the Coming One will come and not delay.  But My     righteous one will live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” (The author is quoting from Habbakuk)

Did you see that?

“But My righteous one will live by faith;

and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”

He’s quoting from Habakkuk here (it’s always been like this – that the righteous live by faith even during times of light or severe persecution).  This is our history, Christian women, God’s Word (both the Old and the New Testament) is timeless.

So now that you have a fuller understanding of the kind of faith that pleases God, you know it’s not for the faint-hearted.  Its not for people who give up or shrink back to just doing the minimum of Christianity so that they’re not persecuted anymore – that is, and has always been, the temptation.  Shrinking back from persecution, as we saw in Scripture, displeases God and brings shame upon the woman who does it.

 

It’s HARD to live by faith

We are slowly facing increasing opposition and the beginnings of actual persecution that will probably get much worse in our lifetime.  Just recently in California, banners and posters were approved to be hung at a popular mall for a normal, run-of-the-mill Christian speaking event for Pastor Greg Laurie.  Enough people complained, and even made threats because the posters showed a Bible, that the mall went back on it’s initial approval and ordered the Christian ads torn down.  Many Christians in California who were in shock over this decision to not allow normal Christian advertisement (which until now, has been allowed for decades), are now calling themselves the “underground church of California.”  

This is a big deal, sweet girl, and we believe it will slowly start spreading to other states.  Opposition to Christian speaking events, or even to Bible studies in your neighborhood, is going to become the norm, and you have to be strong enough to have faith anyway.  You’ll have the burden of teaching your own children to have strong enough faith in their time.  But it’s not enough to just have faith (or rather to say you have faith but hide it or be silent), like we saw in Hebrews 10, you will need to be bold enough to stand firm for your faith, even in the face of harsh punishments.  The good thing about times like what is coming is that persecution often re-ignites the church’s fire.  Many Christians (who don’t have a strong faith to withstand persecution) will simply fall away or “shrink back,” like Hebrews 10 talks about (displeasing God), and the Christians bold enough to keep standing, will end up shaping the backbone of the re-birthed church.  Throughout many times in the Bible we can see this happen with God’s people.  There is always a Remnant, and we can always depend on God, the One who brought us out of Egypt, to be faithful.

Faith can be developed, but it takes having an attitude of humility

The great thing is that even if one has failed in this area, it’s never too late to turn around and start living your life by faith – but it must be now.  That decision to walk boldly following God, needs to be firmly decided in your heart and mind, and then lived out everyday.

The main way to grow a strong faith like this, is to begin every morning with reading God’s Word – giving Him your first fruits.  There is no other way to live by faith if you’re not spending time knowing Him, understanding His commands, and loving that time with Him.  I know it sounds legalistic, but it’s just a logical thing that one cannot live by faith and not be spending regular time reading God’s Word and talking to Him about their life.  If you want a vibrant faith, if you want more favor on your life, to be used more than just your average Christian who merely attends church, but shrinks back at the slightest signs of persecution, then you need to be in His Word daily in order to strengthen you for what you will face.

Hebrews 10:38

“But My righteous one will live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”

But we are not those who shrink back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life.”

So right after we see that shrinking back from persecution makes God Himself have “no pleasure” in us, we also see that the writer of Hebrews is commending them that they are not people who shrink back and are destroyed – but instead are those who have faith (in persecution) and obtain life!

How dramatic that if one “shrinks back” from their persecution, that God says they are “destroyed.”  I don’t think that always has to mean in a physical manner or literal death.  I think being “destroyed” because they’ve shrunk back from persecution is probably a more figurative thing – a total losing of their motivation or purpose in following God (a Christian’s only true purpose).  Shrinking back from persecution and being “destroyed,” could also mean a shipwreck of their faith in a way.  Once they know they’ve utterly failed in pleasing God, what is there to go on for?

Without FAITH it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God

And we must note that these last verses of Hebrews 10, talking about the importance of enduring and not shrinking back, come right before the famous chapter of Hebrews 11, where all the heroes of faith from the Old testament are remembered and honored.  So this was an encouragement leading up to the Hebrews 11 passage, an encouragement to live by faith – because honestly, it is the only thing that will matter in this life.

“But we are NOT those who shrink back and are destroyed, but those who have FAITH and obtain LIFE!”

 

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Are Women Who Submit to Their Husbands in Sin?

I’m always late to know everything!  Apparently, it’s been making the rounds on the interwebz that popular and conservative blogger, Sheila Gregorie, has not only recently attacked a Pastor for trying to defend his view of biblical marriage (and calling for him to be fired… and calling for all the women in his congregation to rebel against him), she’s now accused wives who actually submit to their husbands of committing the sin of idolatry!

I used to think Sheila was on the more “conservative” or traditional side of Christianity – but I’d never really read her blog, and I never knew she was a Christian feminist.

Here is where she defends Queen Vashti as being the “hero” of the Esther story, because she stood up for herself and “social justice,” and refused to obey her husband.  It is a very twisted read in order to fit her feminist agenda of Vashti somehow being the “wife in the right,” with Esther being cast as a victim.

“I refuse to be treated like a sex object, because that is not what I am.” She stood up for the dignity of women, something, by the way, that Jesus did, too. In that culture that despised women, she said, “no more!”

Vashti doesn’t have to be bad in order for Esther to be good. Maybe both were standing up to injustice.

A few years ago, after reading what I thought would be a benign Bible study by Beth Moore on Queen Esther, I came across this same sentiment (from Moore) that Vashti really was in the right.  In the study, Moore builds up an elaborate case against King Xerxes in order to discredit him, much like Sheila does.  However, Moore is forced to admit to herself and her readers that Esther’s attitude and heart really were far superior than Vashti’s attitude and actions in winning over the King’s heart.

Sheila believes differently:

“I feel very, very sorry for Esther. I hate movies and books that portray her and Xerxes’ relationship as a love story.

She had to “audition” for a night to be chosen by him, and that’s pretty darn ugly, no matter how you slice it. We need to stop romanticizing it.

She was taken into a harem. It’s basically sex trafficking.

-Sheila Gregorie

Wow, so now Queen Esther was sex-trafficked!  I’ve never seen anyone interpret Esther’s story this far off from what it was meant to be.  It is definitely a type of love story, just as Ruth is another type of love story.  For centuries, women have always found these stories romantic, because they are!

Here is where I talk about how romantic Queen Esther’s love story with King Xerxes is.  From her uniquely tragic upbringing which forged her character and possible demeanor that captivated King Xerxes’, to being raised by a male cousin who gave her insight into men’s hearts, Esther made the King fall very much in love with her – to the point of him repeatedly offering her anything she wanted, including half his kingdom.

After reading Beth Moore’s study, I chose to focus on the good things she wrote about Esther, yet interject my own thoughts (as opposed to Moore’s) on how badly Vashti chose to behave.

From my post 3 years ago:

“Vashti had blatantly and cruelly humiliated him in front of all of Susa, during the finale of his week long party, during a sensitive time of his trying to ramp up political support for his campaign to go to war to conquer Greece (something that seemed like an extremely difficult undertaking).

He, of all men, understood what it meant to have a wife and Queen who would undermine you, publicly humiliate you, and refuse to support you at the time that you needed it most.”  (From Single Women: To Be Captivating is More Than Mere Looks)

Why Do Women Hate What the Bible Says?

Why is this topic such a controversial thing when the Bible says this command several times, I don’t know.  Just in the New Testament alone, I’ve counted four different books with specific verses that explicitly tell wives to submit to their husbands as they would to God Himself. I do know Truth is opposed.  And I know that when you start taking God’s Word seriously for your life, there will be people even in the Christian faith who will undoubtedly attack you for it.

Sheila calling submissive wives “sinful” for obeying and honoring the Word God’s given to us, is very similar to how Elspeth called women who revered Proverbs 31’s passage on the virtuous woman as a beautiful ideal to look up to, “Pharisees.”   It just shows complete lack of reverence for the beauty of God’s Word, and falsely accuses the women who are actually trying to follow it.

In fact, calling them “sinful” like Sheila did, or “Pharisees,” like Elspeth did, is slandering them for following the Word of God, and honoring it as something beautiful and true.  

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Matthew 5:10-11

When women who find beauty in the Proverbs 31 woman’s example are slandered as “Pharisees,” we should rejoice for being insulted and falsely accused by our fellow Christians.  And when women who submit to their husbands like Sarah did, and yet are accused of living in “sin,” we should be glad because our reward is great in heaven.  My husband and I expect behavior like this – attitudes that Sheila and Elspeth have shown against Christian women who respect and follow God’s Word – will only increase with time.

We best be prepared.

Stephanie