The Challenge: A Personal Story

woman in shadowOnce upon a time,
there lived a young brown girl, captivated by the world of beautiful faces and things. Mirrors, magazines, and friends were a constant reminder of “beauty”. Oh how she loved them.

Then entered FB, the queen of “beauty”. Close up…applause…long shot…applause…side shot…applause.

“I like FB” she thought.

Daughter?” He called.

No answer.

“Daughter?” He called again.

“Yes” she answered.

“What are you doing?” He asked.

“What do you mean?” she answered.

“Do you remember this? ‘Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.’” He asked.

“Hmmm” she sighed.

“I challenge you Daughter to die.” He said.

“Die!” She yelled.

“Yes, I challenge you to die to your world of beauty and replace each personal ‘beauty’ shot with a Kingdom shot of Godly content. I further challenge you to truly die to yourself and become nameless.” He declared.

“This is a major sacrifice? What will my friends and family think? They won’t know it’s me. Will they still ‘like’ me?” she thought.

Delete…”what’s going on?”…Delete…”are you okay?”…Delete…no applause.

Weeks Later

“I’m a little sad. This was a huge sacrifice and I get nothing. It’s so quiet around here.“ she thought.

Still Later

“I guess the quiet is not so bad, time to dig in and spend time with the Lord.”

Discernment: Daughters

DaughtersNancy Alcorn is a phenomenal woman.  She is the founder of Mercy Ministries.  Her message has been imprinted on my heart forever.  Anyone who has worked with young women especially from impoverished backgrounds has worked with many of the “daughters” she describes.  I could identify with Nancy’s struggle with trying to help these young girls who are hurting but being limited by church and state rules.  Many of the hurts the girls feel are major scars inflicted from abuse experienced at young ages.  Fast forward to the preteen and teens and you have the byproduct of that abuse: angry, young women who do not trust.  They are mad, they don’t smile, they’re curious as to why you want to help them, they are amazed you would spend your free time doing something for them and not want anything back, and in/out of juvenile or adult correction facilities. 

I love children and especially teenage girls.  Nancy’s message is one that everyone should hear, but especially those that work with young girls.  Nancy has no birth children, but she has many “daughters” that God has entrusted her to raise up.  I will share a brief story about one of Nancy’s daughters.  Nancy spent 5 years working in a women’s juvenile correction facility.  She could see so much potential in these girls and could not believe the world counted these girls out of ever being productive.   God placed upon her heart one girl, one “daughter”.  Over the course of her daughter’s stay, she had the opportunity to share God.  Her daughter had experienced horrific abuse and developed gender identity issues.  Upon her daughter’s release from the facility, Nancy prayed with her and instructed her to find a church within her community so that she could be among other believers and truly accept Christ (spiritual baptism).  Nancy told her that she would be accepted.  The girl was hesitant about this and didn’t believe she would be accepted but she followed Nancy’s instructions.

Many months later, Nancy received a phone call from her daughter’s birth mother.  Her daughter had shot herself in the head and left a gut wrenching note.  She wrote that she went to the local church as she was instructed and she was not accepted.  She was laughed at and judged by her appearance.  So this daughter, went home feeling rejected by the church body who Nancy declared would accept her.  This daughter ended it all before she could experience the joy God had planned for her.   Nancy’s beautiful daughter was heavy with judgment and shame.  She only wanted to be accepted and loved.  There was an opportunity within the church body to love her, but it was squandered.   She ended her life after she was rejected and judged by “believers”.  The TRUTH is that all of God’s believers are sons/daughters of God.  We are coheir’s with Christ (Romans 8:17). The TRUTH is we believers sit at the right hand of God with Christ in the heavenlies above the principalities of this world (Ephesians 2:6).   The moment we accept Christ, we are given the authority over our homes and families and friends.  WE ARE ABOVE the principalities of this world and devil.

The Lord says to live by faith not by sight, trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto our own understanding, and anything not done in faith is sin.  God is challenging us to LOVE!  Nancy said it and a great pal of mine says it “Love on ‘em”.  We are comfortable with our close group of Christian friends but meeting/talking with random strangers feels super awkward.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if we would jump outside of our boxes, step away from our shyness, step away from the mental fear, and jump into the ocean of God.  Interrupt that person dashing for the exit door or texting.  Talk to that person of a different age, style of dress, background, etc.  Introduce yourself and let God lead you.  Satan wants us to be standoffish and make assumptions.  He wants us to be complacent and do nothing.  Reject his LIES and accept the TRUTH…Love.  James 2:2-9 describes well what God’s feels about judgment or favoritism.

Lord, let your words be a Blessing to the readers of your Word and this message.  Speak to us as your Spirit wills, so that we may bear eternal fruit for your kingdom.  Amen

Related Posts: Beauty ; Hey You!
Recommended Reading for God’s Daughters: Dignitas
Photo Credit: Tumblr

Dating & Marriage 101: Beauty?

BeautyHoly Spirit I thank you for your Spirit of revelation and TRUTH.  Your words have pricked my heart and I thank you for allowing me to share your TRUTHS.  I pray for your Spirit of Protection of the message, the messenger, and the readers.  We put on the full armor, standing firm against the principalities, and lies of the society.  Speak to us individually as we read, as we sleep, and as we press ahead.  Let our thoughts, words, and actions be honoring of you Lord.  Protect us from the Spirit of anger and offense, let your peace and glory abound.  You are so awesome Lord and must be praised.  God Speak.

I was having lunch at a local restaurant.  Two young girls, about high school age, waltzed in and instantly drew attention.  The volume of conversation was much louder and the topic of conversation was boys.  As I was reading the NT, the girls sat down next to my table.  Their conversation progressed into reading horoscopes for relationship advice.  One of the girls said she was scared to read the info and the other said it was the “truth” and her dad has a big horoscope reference book at home for advice.   The reading seemed to be quite a dark for anyone, especially young girls or women, to read.  It spoke heavily of betrayal, not making others angry or else revenge, jealously, etc.  The other girl said she was really afraid and wanted her friend to stop reading it.  The girl that was reading the book said something to the nature of “Okay, but this is so your boyfriend.  He is just like this.”  Then the conversation turned to the experiences of being controlled and having a jealous boyfriend.  I prayed over the conversation and for the girls who seemed to be filled not with the joy that God designed for us but discontentment.

Prior to this, I had dinner with a good pal at a book store and discontentment became the topic of choice.   A book geared to preteen girls called Boy Talk was staring at us.  The entire book was filled with lies to young girls about them not being enough.  Dress this way; talk that way, show interest in their hobbies, etc etc etc.  It made me quite sad to think that the truth was not being told.  The truth of girls and women being fearfully and wonderfully made was not being expressed.  Instead the lie of being not good enough was being spread.  We then looked at the magazines and how they spread the same lies to women.  Every fitness, style, or beauty magazine toted the same theme of self improvement.  Plump up the lashes, plump up the lips, plump up the butt, plump up whatever you can so that you can be validated by man.  The idea of encouraging envy or jealousy by friends or acquaintances was cleverly disguised and prevalent.  The idea of enticing men to lust after you was also very prevalent.  Cover after cover, article after article, filled with nonsense about what we, women, can do to make ourselves better or validated.  LIES

At some point, many of us have been trapped by the lies being pushed.  My adolescent trappings were my skin was too brown, my hair was too thick and needed the creamy smack and all day hair appointments to be beautified, I was too skinny and must not have been trying hard enough to be thick like the friends or family who naturally had “meat on their bones”, and a host of other distortions.  I hated to look at myself because I wasn’t what was in the magazines or TV.  Fast forward into my thirties and God has given much clarity on those LIES.  God knit us together and he knew us before we were born.  He knew the color of our eyes, the curl of our hair, the height we would reach, our body form, and the brownness of our skin before we were born.  The best thing of all, is that he made us all different, he made us fearfully, and he made us wonderfully.  He didn’t create us so that we would pick on ourselves.  He didn’t create us so that we would try to change what he created through crazy dieting/overeating to fit in, bleaching or tanning ourselves to be more, donning excessive makeup, or a host of other things to be validated as beautiful.

So the young girls left the restaurant and as I watched them leave, I was saddened to see one of them at midday wearing only cut off shorts, a bikini top, and unzipped sweater.  I was that age and I could instantly see their desire to be validated as beautiful.  The validation they sought was a LIE about what is beautiful.  The TRUTH: “Your adornment must not be merely be external braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4 NASB.  The TRUTH is wisdom is beautiful.  “How Blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; and nothing your desire compares with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all those who hold her fast.” Proverbs 3:13-19.

Now as women of all seasons, the challenge is to live according to the TRUTH.  The TRUTH is our beauty is not the external but internal. “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.”  Proverbs 31:30.  “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.  A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.  But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”  1 Timothy 2:9-14.  We are beautiful naturally by God’s measure.  We must reject the LIES of society.  LIES in kid’s books like Boy Talk, women’s magazines, television ads and shows, music videos, and personal distortions (eating disorders).  Too much of our time is trying to imitate the world’s design of beauty.  The TRUTH is “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.” 3 John 1:11.

So, the simple question I have begun to ask myself and we should all ask ourselves is:  “What is the motivation?”  What is the motivation of buying that magazine?  What is the motivation of buying those expensive shoes or bag?  What is the motivation of buying the lip plumper?  What is the motivation of wearing a provocative dress or too tight jeans etc…in church or the club?  What is the motivation of participating in a club or group?  If the motivation is pure, God seeking and God glorifying, then we have no problem.   But if the action or motive (intentionally or not) is to be validated by man, to be “noticed”, seek praise, gather attention, distract others from focus on God, we must stop ourselves and exercise self control as women submitting our actions and motives to God.  Proverbs 7:10-11 describes well a busy lady, dressed to seduce, loud, rebellious, and never home.  She is described as a predator seeking to devour a prey.  I wondered during those K to 12 years of Catholic school why we had such strict dress codes (knee length shirts or dresses, white blouses, sweaters).  Was it to eliminate disparities between kids of all backgrounds?  Maybe.  Was it cheaper?  Maybe.   Or, the answer was quite simple.  They were encouraging us young ladies to be modest and to be the fearfully and wonderfully made women God designed.  They were encouraging us to be the natural beauties that God designed.  Go beautiful friends and share the TRUTH.  Be God’s beauties.

Thank you Lord for sharing your message, as these are your words not mine.  May they be a Blessing to those who read it and Bless those who have not read.  Give us your Spirit of Truth.  Amen

Related Posts: Hey You! ; Daughters
For a Fashion Forward Beauty Magazine taking back Media for the Kingdom visit: Dignitas
Photo Credit: HosanaintheHighest.Tumblr