Guard the Fortress


There’s a lot going on in the world right now. Fires, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and storms have broken out all at once. Not to mention sudden, crazy weather patterns of intense heat followed by September snow.

We shouldn’t be surprised.

Jesus told us that all this would happen.

“Jesus answered, ‘Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name claiming, ‘I am the Christ’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nations will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” Matthew 24:4-8

As the world becomes more desperate, I pray we will turn to Jesus. While the enemy attempts to destroy us and our belief in a good God who loves us, Jesus longs for us to run to him in our pain, fear, hopelessness. He will comfort and strengthen us and give us peace.

His word also gives instruction to help us in this time of crisis.

Recently, I read some encouraging instruction in the book of Nahum. In the second chapter, and the first two verses, this prophet warns the people to be alert when their enemy is advancing on them. While those words were meant for that time in a practical war sense, all of God’s word is relevant to us in some way even today. This is what I took from the passage that I believe can be helpful today.

  1. “Guard the fortress.” As believers in Jesus, our bodies are God’s “temple” where the Holy Spirit resides. I believe that God would have us guard our bodies and hearts against unhealthy living and the lies of the enemy. Fear is a spirit that is stirring up the world. Let’s guard ourselves against it, rather than letting it penetrate our bodies and minds.
  2. “Watch the road.” Our mind is what lets in thoughts and images like a road into our fortress. If we’re not careful about what we expose ourselves to, we may find that what we let in is infiltrating us in a destructive, poisonous way.
  3. “Brace yourself.” God’s word is the most powerful weapon we have. It is the “sword of the spirit” which is truth. The Bible is “living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword…” (Heb. 4:12) When we declare it, pray it, and speak it, we are bracing ourselves for battle.
  4. “Marshall all your strength.” Our only true strength comes from the Lord. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” In order to gain that strength, I must be in God’s presence. Worship, talking to him, and asking for his wisdom in every area will make me strong. It’s Jesus who strengthens us. (Phil. 4:13)

Battles aren’t without injuries or destruction, but the Lord will restore to us anything that is lost in battle. He makes us beautiful and splendid no matter what might be destroyed. Even in this era of the world going crazy, let us look to the Lord, God Almighty who is our only true refuge in times of trouble.

Praying for you as you consider where your help comes from. My help comes from the Lord God, maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-3)

Does Crisis Create Community?


Early during Ian

8:00 a.m. Thursday, September 29. The morning after Hurricane Ian ravaged the west coast of Florida where I live. I make my way through the dark interior of our small townhouse with the dim light of my phone that thankfully still has thirty percent charge left after a long day and night of texting with far off friends and family.

I pick up the damp kitchen towel resting on top of the rolled-up rug at the base of our front door. The empty silence is punctuated with intermittent gusts of rushing wind. Pulling back the rug, I push open our door against another brief squall and the pile of leaves plastered against the bottom. Sunlight and a blast of cool breeze streams into our home, refreshing after the humid, stale air and darkness of our interior. With no power, there is no air conditioner to keep homes temperate in the heat and humidity of our tropical environment.

Standing in the doorway, I survey the damage to my surroundings.

Leaves, palm fronds, and chunks of foot long bark from palm trees litter the ground and neighborhood cars. Trees are stripped of leaves on one side, still full on the other, evidence of the direction the wind blew with force. I’ve heard anywhere from 70 to 155 mile per hour winds. The towering palms stand like toothpicks waving limp lettuce pieces from one side. A tree across the street is missing a limb and another dangles a branch lodged in place over a neighbor’s car. Surprisingly, very little water remains in the street where only hours ago, the raging winds danced over the flooded areas creating miniature replicas of the stormy gulf.

Most of what I see is better than I expected. After surviving Irma five years ago this month, and hearing the predictions in the past twenty-four hours, I thought we might fare worse. Later in the day, I would learn that some friends did far worse. Their home was destroyed and flooded with waist deep water, and their cars swept away by storm surge. Unbelievably heartbreaking, especially by comparison.

After taking in the scene around me, I noticed something I hadn’t expected. Down the street, an older man shoveling debris into a pile. A young couple walking a baby in their stroller. Two women chatting, another walking her dog.

My next-door neighbor popped out. “Good morning. How are you doing?” she asked. We exchanged descriptions of how we spent the very long night and what little news we heard of the damage. She informed me that part of the Sanibel bridge collapsed. We compared notes. No power. Check. Still have water for now. Check. She had no cell service, but I did. Another passing neighbor, overhearing our conversation, asked my provider and if she could use my phone to let her parents know that she was okay. “Of course!” Isn’t that what neighbors do?

We returned to our cleaning up. More people ventured outside to walk through the neighborhood or sweep up debris. Brendan and another man rinsed off our cars, checking for signs of damage. I left the door open to allow the breeze to cool the house. Some folks began taking down the metal shutters covering most of our windows. One neighbor who had given us some missing hardware rushed over to hand me some bills folded up, insisting that she wouldn’t take the payment we’d given her the previous day. “When I have enough for me, I will gladly share the surplus.”

Later in the day, after many conversations, we heard from our other next-door neighbor that her sister, a nurse, was trapped in the flooded hospital near Fort Myers Beach. She had returned from caring for her elderly parents in Port Charlotte whose boat ended up in their neighbor’s yard. As she began setting up a generator and barbeque, she offered to let us plug into her power source to keep our refrigerator running.

As Brendan and I sat down together to eat a few hours later, I could still hear bits of conversations floating through our open front door. That was when it struck me.

This is how we get through a crisis.

Community. Sharing stories, helping each other, and comparing notes is processing the trauma. Each person deals with it in their own way: walking, riding, talking, cleaning, or giving.

It’s how God made us.

God always has been in community. “Let us make man in our image.” One God, a triune connection creating others like them to multiply.

His instructions for us are based on community. Unity with him. Abide, remain, nothing apart from him. Love one another. Don’t steal or murder or covet another person’s spouse. He puts the orphan in family and admonishes us to take care of widows. Bear one another’s burdens. Pray for each other. Lay hands on each other and greet with a holy kiss.

Community.

We were never meant to live life alone.

I think this is why people rally together when crisis hits. 9-1-1 brought the city together. School shootings draw support from all over. It’s why Go Fund Me works, and people have rushed here and to other disaster affected areas to offer help to strangers.

It’s also why I love our church. After Hurricane Irma, we donned bright orange t-shirts and set out to help our devastated communities. Unexpectedly, we became known as “The Orange Army.” In the past five years, we’ve made it a point to welcome everyone into our church, but we also intentionally go outside the building to serve our city on a monthly and in some cases weekly basis.

“Church” in the days after Jesus was crucified and rose again was about being together. Joining resources, sharing stories of being with Jesus, and helping those in need. It never was intended as a place of judgment, religious isolation, and exclusivity.

It seems that God reminds us of this with every crisis.

Maybe crisis doesn’t create community. Maybe we are simply drawn back into community as a result of crisis. God is all about unity and coming together. Come-unity.

If anyone is interested in helping with relief efforts, I can guarantee that any supplies or funds sent through our church will go direct to families in need. You can give or find out more here: https://nextlevelchurch.com/ian/

Don’t Be Surprised


Photo by samer daboul on Pexels.com

Every day I see a new headline or post that makes me shake my head even though I know that I shouldn’t be surprised. Over two thousand years ago, Jesus told his followers not to be alarmed when famine, wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, and disease would start taking place all at once in multiple areas. He said that people would hate and betray each other and many believers would be deceived.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul gives a list of how many would act. He said that people would:

  • Not acknowledge God
  • Claim to be wise
  • Idolize people and lifestyles
  • Degrade their bodies with one another
  • Lust for the same sex
  • Commit indecent acts
  • Have depraved minds
  • Be full of evil, greed, murder, and deceit
  • Gossip about and slander each other
  • Be God haters
  • Be arrogant, insolent, and boastful
  • Be senseless, heartless, and ruthless
  • Know the truth, but deny it
  • Encourage others to do the same

Sounds a lot like television, movies, social media, politics, and the news, doesn’t it?

He also reminds us that one has only to look and acknowledge creation around us to know there is a God who made everything including us, so we have no excuse.

Everyone has free will. God loves us, but he won’t force anyone to love him back. If the act of giving up himself, his son, Jesus, to die on the cross and take all our sinfulness on him isn’t enough to show his love for us, what would it take for people to respond with gratitude, praise, and love in return?

But I understand that the majority of people won’t.

It makes me sad to see the heartbreaking mess the world is in, but we shouldn’t be surprised. Jesus warned us. So did Paul, who was once someone who murdered those who followed Jesus. No one is beyond God’s grace. He doesn’t want anyone to be separated from him. But if that is someone’s choice, God loves them enough to allow their choice and let them go their own way.

Maybe things aren’t too different than they were then. Maybe they’ve simply escalated to where they are now. Perhaps, it’s just that now we have the technology to see everything all over the world as it happens so we are aware. But we’ve been warned.

And we have a God who loves us and will see us through to the moment when Jesus returns to draw those of us who love him to his side. In the midst of all the evil, heartache, and chaos, Jesus is our hope and peace.

I may be surprised when I see the things that are happening in the world because I can’t understand why people would choose those things instead of an abundance of peace, joy, love, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. (The fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives when we receive Jesus.)

But I’m not surprised. He told us not to be alarmed. I believe Him. I’m resting there in the midst of the storm until I see him face-to face.

Bitter Betrayal


We are approaching World Day Against Human Trafficking at the end of this week. July 30th marks a day when all over the world, more people will be made aware of this atrocity. This post titled Betrayal that I read recently on Red Tent Living, took this to new depths for me. I know that evil in the world is increasing and being uncovered. We as Christians are not perfect, but being perfected by the power of the Holy Spirit. But it seems that we are seeing a wider chasm between those who truly follow Christ and intentionally live that out daily and those who claim the title, but revel in the world’s spiraling downfall of sin.

Is there a more brutal betrayal?

On a residential street lined with leafless trees, I had just reached my car, feeling relaxed from a massage, when my phone rang. My husband was coming home. He worked so much my heart leapt. Maybe we’d get take-out and watch a movie as we snuggled up. Yanked from my reverie, I heard, “I’ve been accused of sexual harassment.” Suddenly, the overtime, the snazzy outfits, and the STD he’d explained away took on new meaning. I collected my wits. This wasn’t a phone conversation.

In a panic, I called my counselor and left a message. I can never repay her for calling me back that night and grounding me as the earth quaked beneath me. I’m not sure how I drove home safely.

In the privacy of our home, I learned that the harassment my husband was dismissed for was only the tip of the iceberg. There are no words for the pain of discovering that my beloved—the one man I had begun to trust, who knew my story of being trafficked as a child—was purchasing trafficked women. How could my beloved…the charming, respected, Christian leader…be a “john”? I well knew that Christians purchase trafficked women, but I’d married a good man, hadn’t I?

I reeled from the data of his unchecked sexual addiction. It was so like my childhood abuse, and he…suddenly so like my perpetrators. The level of duplicity, lies, deception, heinous sexuality, cruelty, and remorselessness… Perhaps the most difficult of all his betrayals—he had used my story to get in with women and to fan the flames of his twisted desires.

I tried to gather the pieces of the man I so desperately wanted him to be and put them back together, but they no longer fit. I couldn’t unsee the other man. Who would believe me? I couldn’t. And yet, I knew this other man; my abusive childhood had habituated me to betrayal. I used to question how I could have married a good man. Heartbreakingly, I now knew that he fit into my story like a missing puzzle piece.

Divorce wasn’t supposed to be my story.

We were supposed to be holding hands in old age. But it became clear he was committed to not engaging his brokenness, and I began to believe I was worth more.

As a divorcèe, I have learned that even in this modern era I am an outsider. A friend once told me, “The stigma of divorce is still very real.” I didn’t want to believe that but, sadly, it’s true. A thousand experiences conveyed this; I’ll share two.

Though few knew the details of my husband’s betrayals, in a coupled world there was immense societal pressure to repair or tolerate his addiction. It was bewildering and excruciating how seldom any responsibility was placed with him. This painted for me our cultural view of women. It didn’t matter what the betrayal, how profound it was, or how repentant or unrepentant my husband—it was my fault and mine to repair.

My childhood trauma is easy to blame, but his addiction pre-dated our relationship. And even if it hadn’t, what we don’t say is that there are things that no one should ask of his or her spouse. I’m not sure how it became woven into our cultural belief that men can’t help themselves, but they have as much agency as women, and it has been used to wield great harm. Dear reader, my husband chose to break our covenantal vows. He chose how he broke them. And he chose not to seek healing.

If I may be so bold, I know some of you may have a similar story. Your spouse also has agency and you deserve to be honored. However it comes about—whether through your spouse’s repentance or your leaving—you deserve more.

As I mourned, I came to see my trauma as a death. The death of my marriage. The death of my beloved in my life. The death of our dreams for the future. The death of my hope of having children in my arms. It was the rending apart of lives intertwined for a decade and a half. But I began to realize that in our culture we have no traditions of mourning divorce. There are no flowers or cards. No meals brought by friends. No mourning clothes. No bereavement leave. No funeral. No graveside service. No marker upon which to weep. I was wholly alone. It was me and my four-footed friend trying to wake for another day, sort out how to make ends meet, and fight for the hope of a brighter future…a future too far off to see.

I am in a better place now, but it’s still a battle. Every weekend, vacation, holiday, and child’s laugh, I’m reminded how alone I am and the dreams that once were.

The author prefers to remain anonymous.

I applaud this woman for choosing to move forward in spite of horrific situations. To survive being trafficked is horrendous enough without living through this on top of it. I pray her story will encourage many others in their journey.

You can do your part in the fight against trafficking.

If you have been a part of this–whether by choice or coercion– know that it is never too late to turn around. Jesus already forgave you and by acknowledging that, he can make a way out where there seems to be no way.

If you would like to help, but you aren’t sure how, you can become educated through reading or participating in local, national, or international organizations who are in the fight. Here are some I support and learn from:

  • A21 https://www.a21.org/– based in Australia this international group fights with awareness, intervention, and aftercare
  • Not for Sale https://www.notforsalecampaign.org/ – originally based in San Francisco reaches areas that are most impoverished to create better situations to reduce trafficking where it starts
  • Bridging Freedom https://www.bridgingfreedom.org/ – based near Tampa, FL is a safe house where trafficked children can heal

There are many others, but these are my current personal choices which I support from the proceeds of a couple of my books that deal with trafficking. I give half of the proceeds from those sales each year.

For this week, July 25th – July 30th, by purchasing either Dangerous Ground or A Mighty Wind, you will get to enjoy reading a novel while learning a little more about this subject AND you will be giving to an important cause at a crucial time. I will donate 100% of the proceeds to these three listed organizations. It can be a way of you giving to help those in this situation. Perhaps you would like to share a copy, give a couple to friends and family, or donate some to your local organizations!

Thank you in advance from those who are healing or still need rescue.

Afraid Yet Filled With Joy


Fear seems to be dominating the world right now.

War, shootings, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, food shortage, gas prices, violence breaking out all over the world, and political battles with court cases pummel us from every angle. Headlines rarely have something positive to report (unless you watch or read some positive news source like CBN, Newsmax, Epoch Times, Dailywire, TBN – just to name a few where you can see truth and positive stories).

Even in our daily activities, we’re stunned by shut downs, breakdowns, and everything down. Today, my husband went to a local Dunkin’ Donuts for a business coffee meeting and found them closed due to lack of help. And we live in one of the best, growing, open states!

But I love that in Matthew 28:8, it says that the women who had gone to the tomb where Jesus had been buried left there feeling “afraid yet filled with joy.” Why?

The tomb was empty.

Jesus had risen from the dead just as he said he would. Kind of a trippy, frightening, yet exciting experience for them, right? Also much like what those of us who are in relationship with Jesus feel today. Everything happening in the world is an indication that Jesus will take us to meet him soon. We don’t know exactly when that “soon” is, but while we watch the fearful events of the current day, we are also filled with joy.

I can’t wait to be with Jesus face to face.

Like a bride anticipating the moment she walks down the aisle to see her groom awaiting her. Heart fluttering. Palms a little sweaty while holding a stunning flower bouquet. The look of adoration in his eyes.

Verse 9 says “Suddenly, Jesus met them.”

When they least expected it, but expectantly anticipated it, Jesus was there. With them. Greeting them. Love flowing. Joy exploding. Peace replacing fear.

They worshiped at his feet, and he reassured them. “Don’t be afraid.”

That is exactly where we find joy and peace in the midst of fear. At the feet of Jesus. In his presence. His perfect love for us throwing fear away. No matter what things look like, how they appear, Jesus is there with us, reassuring us, promising us that he is in control. We can trust him.

And then he told the women to go tell everyone else where they could see him.

That’s what I want to do with everything I live and write, whether on my blog or in a book.

You can find Jesus in the room with you. Sitting in your car. Standing next to you at work. You may not see him like the women did when he physically walked on the earth, but he is here, there. If you speak to him, acknowledge him, seek him, he’ll suddenly meet you right where you are. He loves you and wants to have a relationship with you. He’ll speak to you through his spirit to your spirit. And when you agree that you need him, you believe he died for you, God’s spirit, the Holy Spirit will live in you.

God designed us to hear him. If we resolve to seek him when we are lost, afraid, wondering how to navigate life, and set our eyes on him, he will make us able to not be afraid. He will help us think like he thinks, having great wisdom that brings peace, humility, calmness, and patience.

In spite of awful situations in our life or around us, we can find joy in his presence. Even if we feel afraid.

That’s more good news, isn’t it? And these days, we need some good news!

I have more good news for those patiently waiting for the release of Winds of Change, book 4 in the Winds of Redemption series. The e book version is finally out! It will be FREE from June 11 – 15th. Click the picture to get yours!

Bailey Davis is headed to a California college to learn landscape design. New friends and beautiful surroundings offer her a great start and a promising future. But when she’s faced with prejudice, opposition to her faith, and the persecution of her and some friends, will standing for truth run her straight into danger?

Newly engaged Dylan Davis encourages his daughter’s dreams and independence. Their unforgettable road trip to settle Bailey at school launches them both into a new season of life. Until Bailey goes missing and Dylan must face the demons of his past.

As their faith is tested from every side, Baily and her father must dig deep to continue trusting the God who miraculously brought them together once before.

If you haven’t read the first three books in the series, you can find them here.

One Thing I Know


God is faithful.

I chose to follow Jesus at a Billy Graham crusade when I was nine years old. I grew up in church, but that was the first time I felt God speaking to me. Drawing me to him. I devoured the book of John in the bus on the way home which gave me a glimpse of how much Jesus loved me.

I’d like to say that my life was perfectly great after that, but that would be a lie. Family situations, my own rebellion, and outside events led me into many, many messed up situations.

But God is faithful.

Always there, even when I though he was mad at me. (See last week’s post) As I tried to be good enough for him. (He didn’t ever say that I needed to be.) When I rebelled and did my own thing even when I had his still, small voice tugging at me to go a different way. Through every heartache, broken place, trial, and daily life, he has walked beside me or called to me when I ran ahead or off somewhere.

Nearly every morning lately I’ve been listening to a collection of songs by Phil Wickham. This one makes me cry every single time. Why?

Because God is faithful. Jesus loves me.

And I just wanted to share that he’s there for you too.

It’s Always Been You

Phil Wickham

You saw me first
You let me in when I was at my worst
The moment when I heard You say my name
It’s the first time in so long I’m not afraid
I’m not afraid

You are the voice that calms the storm inside me
Castle walls that stand around me
All this time, my guardian was You
You are the light that shines in every tunnel
There in the past, You’ll be there tomorrow
All my life, Your love was breaking through

It’s always been You
It’s always been You

My northern star
Your love will be the compass of my heart
Oh, I just wanna be right where You are
Right where You are

You are the voice that calms the storm inside me
Castle walls that stand around me
All this time, my guardian was You
You are the light that shines in every tunnel
There in the past, You’ll be there tomorrow
All my life, Your love was breaking through

It’s always been You
And it’s always been You
It’s always been You
It’s always been You

Who stood with me in the fire?
It was You, it was always You
Who pulled me out of the water?
It was You, it was always You
And who carried me on their shoulders?
It was You, I know it’s You, You

You are the voice that calms the storm inside me
Castle walls that stand around me
All this time, my guardian was You
You are the light that shines in every tunnel
There in the past, You’ll be there tomorrow
All my life, Your love was breaking through

It’s always been You
And it’s always been You
It’s always been You
It’s always been You
It’s always been You

God is Not Mad at You


When hard things, bad experiences, challenging situations occur, how often do we wonder if maybe God is angry with us? Did he cause the problem? Allow it to teach us something so we’ll finally get our act together?

I’ve entertained these thoughts.

I used to wonder if God was disappointed in me or angry because I did something wrong or bad again. Was he punishing me? Judging my behavior and actions?

If I could just do better, would my life work out or would things become easier?

A couple of messages I recently heard, along with what I’ve learned is true about God reminded me of a most important truth.

God is not mad at us.

It’s true that evil brings up his righteous anger. He is a just God and does not tolerate injustice. He hates what hurts us and his children who he loves.

That’s you and me.

One day, those who don’t want anything to do with him will answer to him. We will have to account for our actions. But that day isn’t today.

Today, God is calling to us in love.

He sent Jesus to carry all the sin on him. Every bad, wrong, evil word, thought, and action. Because God loves us and wants us to be reconciled to him. To live with him forever in peace and his glorious presence.

The Bible tells us that while we were still sinners, he made a way for us to come into his presence. Through Jesus. Because of his grace for us. Jesus died so we could be righteous. When we accept his gracious gift of taking on our sins, we can stand in the presence of God covered with Christ’s righteousness.

Because God isn’t mad at us. He loves us.

The enemy will tell us we aren’t worthy.

True. That’s why Jesus died in our place. To make us worthy.

The enemy will accuse us of needing to be perfect to approach God.

Jesus grants us his perfection so we can go boldly to God.

The enemy lies about us and who God created us to be.

But we are God’s creation, children—he calls us a royal priesthood!

It’s time to stop listening to the accuser. Stop agreeing with a liar. Quit entertaining shame and guilt.

Acknowledge the truth that we aren’t good on our own, but gratefully accept Jesus’s sacrifice for us and turn our hearts humbly toward God.

He delights in us. Sings over us. Embraces us.

When I run to him, even in my sin, he welcomes me and reminds me that he knew and had a plan for that.

He’s not angry. He rejoices.

Now, that’s good news!

FREE BOOKS!


Winds of Change, Book #4 in the Winds of Redemption series will be released soon. In anticipation of my new release, I’ve made books 1-3 on sale over the next few weeks as follows:

Book #1 – May 20-24

Book# 2 – May 24-28

Book #3 – May 28-June 1

E books are FREE. Print books are $10.00 – GET THE FIRST BOOK HERE

COMING SOON!

In the Name of Submission – Last Words


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Last time, we left off with I Peter 3:1 telling wives to submit to their husbands. You can see the first post here.

We continue talking about submission and hopefully unpacking more of what it truly means.

I believe Peter starts with wives for a couple of reasons. (No, he’s not picking on us.)

First, I think it’s because God set up the order of a family. In Ephesians, he lays it out clearly. Christ is the head of the church. He is over the family. The husband is now entrusted with the well-being of his family under the headship of Christ. Then the wife is supposed to be covered by her husband, as Christ covers (loves and protects) his bride, the church. After that, the parents are the covering for their children.

Starting with the wife confirms that order.

Secondly, it seems that based on many passages in the Bible, women have so much influence. We are the “helper,” but the word translated like that sounds kind of lame. Like a token we say to our two-year-old for being mommy’s big helper. Encouraging, but we all know our child’s help is minimal.

Thankfully, that’s not what it means.

In the Hebrew, it actually means strength, warrior, working alongside. (This is a great post that goes into more depth. https://www.chasingsacred.com/helpmate-the-real-meaning-of-the-word/)

Think of some women in the Bible:

  • Mary (Jesus’s mother),
  • Deborah (prophetess)
  • Jael (killed a man with a tent peg – Judges 4:21)
  • Esther (saved the Jews)
  • Abigail (saved her people)
  • Rahab (prostitute who saved the spies)
  • Mary & Martha (sisters of Lazarus)
  • Lydia (business owner who led a church).

And those are only a few.

Every one of these women understood submission as part of the influence they had in their situation.

Peter tells women, in this first verse, that their husbands (and probably others) will be “won over” or influenced by their behavior without a word. Because when we are submitting for the sake of Jesus, we will be beautiful because of our purity, reverence, and our quiet and gentle spirit.

All without fear. Perfect love casts out fear. Submitting to God puts our trust in him. His perfect love for us means we don’t have to fear anything.

See where we’re going with this?

And lest you think that God’s focus is only on wives, verse 7 calls out husbands to act “in the same way” so that their prayers aren’t hindered!

Hindered prayers is a pretty serious consequence of not submitting with consideration and respect to wives while viewing them as heirs of God for the sake of Jesus. Paul says it this way in Ephesians 5:23 “Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.”

Don’t think that God doesn’t hold everyone to the same standard!

After Peter charges spouses—the relationship that mirrors Christ with his bride—he gives some specifics.

What does submission look like?

Verse 8 tells us to live in harmony. That may not be done easily, especially if another person isn’t feeling the tune you’re playing, but as far as it depends on you, be in harmony. (Romans 12:18)

We start by being sympathetic to other people’s hurts and pain. How are they feeling? That means we need to humble ourselves and not be set on our opinion, agenda, or feelings first or only. If we first seek to understand their perspective, it’s easier to show love and compassion.

Peter goes on to say in verse 9 that we are to be a blessing to others. Treat them kindly. Even if they insult us, answer that with kindness. Not always easy, but the Holy Spirit can make us able to do it with sincerity.

Finally, in verse 14 and 15, Peter reminds us not to fear. That was a hard one for me. My past situations gave me the view that I couldn’t really trust certain people so it was hard to submit to them. But I’m learning that when I’m submitting for the Lord’s sake, I can trust Him to cover me and help me choose to honor and respect them.

We can only do this when we “set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts.”

Submission begins with understanding the humility Jesus showed to submit himself to God and go to the cross. He tells us to have a gentle and respectful answer for our hope in him. He forgave us. That is our hope, the source of our love, and what makes us able “to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

For me this has been a huge lesson and offered me freedom in place of my misconceptions about submission. I hope it has been helpful for someone else too.

Jesus, I surrender (submit) all.

In the Name of Submission – cont.


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We’re diving deep into what God means when he talks about submission.

We began with I Peter 3:1 which tells wives to submit to their husbands—and often it’s left right there without further understanding of what God is communicating.

That’s why we’re looking back at the previous chapter to get an idea of what “in the same way” means. You can read Part 1 here if you want to get caught up.

Today, we’re going back to start in chapter 2 verse 17 where it says that submission means showing proper respect to others and loving those who believe and fear God.

This kind of surprised me.

I expected the passage to talk about everyone, not just other believers. But then I understood why we start with other believers.

Think about it.

If we can’t respect and love others who are part of the church (entire world church, not just your church) in which Jesus is teaching us to love, how will we than be in a position to show that same attitude to the rest of the world?

Often, the world looks at the church and doesn’t see any difference. Can we blame them for not wanting to be a part of that? If the Jesus they see in us is gossiping, backbiting, disrespectful, and unkind why would they want him?

Bet you never coupled the word “submission” with that, did you? Neither did I.

Verse 17 continues by saying that we should give honor to the king. What if the “king” or something in that authoritative role doesn’t seem to deserve honor? What if they act in ways that are wrong or dishonoring to themselves and others?

I believe what he’s saying is that we honor the position God has established. Back in verse 13, Peter makes it clear that God is the one who created and established authoritative roles. Whether that is a president, governor, law enforcement official, teacher, pastor, husband, or parent, those roles were all set up by God for our benefit.

People may not use their authority rightly or well, but we should still show honor and respect. Not only that, but every single person is wonderfully and fearfully created by God. Every one deserves our honor for that reason alone, regardless of how they behave. This is a great book that breaks that down.

In verse 18, Peter takes it a step further telling us to submit even when someone is harsh, not only to those who are good and considerate. Wow! I confess I’ve thought that a person I’m dealing with didn’t deserve respect so why would I submit?

But it takes the grace, love, patience, and forgiveness of Christ to continue to show honor and respect, and to submit even when someone is not nice. Remember, that Jesus chose when and how to speak when he was confronted. He did not retaliate when he was insulted. The key word there is “retaliate.” He entrusted himself to God, knowing that God was in control of the situation and would deal with the person. (vs. 21)

Also, worthy to consider is that sometimes our submissive, honoring action is to remove ourselves from a situation or speak loving truth to someone who is acting harshly. God will lead us in how to handle the situation if we ask him.

**(Please note that “harsh” isn’t necessarily the same as abusive and/or dangerous. God does not call us to put ourselves into harmful relationships or stay there if we’ve allowed ourselves to get into them.)

So, now we’ve seen what “in the same way” means.

Next time we’ll move on to Chapter 3 and look at what Peter says specifically to spouses.

Yes, spouses. Not only wives. 😉

In the Name of Submission


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Submission is often a dreaded word.

I’m not going to lie, it’s a concept I’ve struggled with for most of my life. In part, I believe that’s because I didn’t understand it. And I think, unfortunately, the church as a whole is somewhat to blame.

The real problem lies in the way some have interpreted or defined “submission.”

It’s been coupled with obedience to mean that no matter what someone, specifically someone in authority, tells you to do, you must acquiesce without question. While obedience to God is good and right, when taken outside of that meaning, submission can be dangerous.

Many in authority, have used it to control. It’s been used to manipulate, subjugate, and dictate. Some have excused their actions, naming submission as their grounds for such. In extreme cases, submission has been used as reason to abuse.

No wonder it’s a hard term to get a handle on.

I’ve read about it, studied God’s word regarding it, and prayed hard over it, begging God to help me understand what he meant by submitting. For me, like many in bad situations, it perpetuated unhealthy relationships. A few pastors lovingly admonished me to submit in abusive settings. I know they meant well, and I’m sure they were intending to communicate the positive order God gave for family.

Certainly “submission” isn’t the bad guy here.

Submission actually has a good and fitting role IF we understand and implement it the way God intended.

I believe that way too often, we all take scripture verses out of context and end up misinterpreting them. Grossly. Anyone can find anything in the Bible to use out of context to support their own perspective.

Maybe you’ve heard of the man who sought God’s wisdom for a particular situation and opened his Bible to a couple of random passages that told him some nonsensical instruction.

“Judas went and hung himself.”

“Go therefore and do likewise.”

I’m a hundred percent certain that God is never telling anyone to follow those passages in that way.

But as silly as that example is, we do the same thing all the time. We say things like “God will never give you more than you can handle.” It’s a shortened, paraphrased verse taken out of context. Sorry, but that’s not what the Bible actually says. (See I Corinthians 10:13)

And unless we intentionally read what’s before and after a passage, as well as take it within the context of the entire Bible and all of what it says about God’s character, also taking into account the original language, we can badly misinterpret and misrepresent God’s word and intent.

This brings me to the book of I Peter in the Bible.

The first verse of chapter 3 starts like this. “Wives, in the same way, be submissive to your husbands…”

I can’t tell you how many times throughout my life someone has quoted that verse to me. I’ve analyzed it, struggled with it, and literally cried over it.

Because I love Jesus and want to obey his word. I love my husband and want to have the right attitude towards him.

I’ve looked at the verses before and after it, but this past week one phrase captured my attention.

“…in the same way…”

Wait. In what same way? What way was Peter talking about?

So, I decided to go back, way back, and look at what came before so I could get a better grasp of what “same way” it was talking about and why it was written here in this context.

Over the next couple of posts, I’d like to unpack what I found. Maybe it will be helpful to those who have wrestled with submission like I have.

First of all, this letter that Peter wrote to various believers in the surrounding areas was penned as an encouragement and a reminder to the people that they were chosen and loved by God. He admonished them to live in such a way that those around them who didn’t know about Jesus, would see their lives and end up believing and glorifying God as a result.

In Chapter 2 starting with verse 13, Peter starts breaking down each area of life and what it looks to live that way.

He tells the people to submit to authority for the sake of the Lord. That made me ask why for the sake of the Lord? God doesn’t need us to do anything for him. He’s capable of doing anything and everything in his own power.

Answer? He is at work in every situation so our submission aligns us with what he’s doing. It’s for the sake of what he’s doing in his kingdom that our submitting to him and those around us helps bring it about.

In verse 15, it tells us that when we do good by submitting, it “silences ignorant talk of foolish men.” Uh, we could use some of that right now, couldn’t we?

And lest you think that submission makes us doormats, Peter goes on in verse 16 to tell us to “Live as free men.” We’re not submitting ourselves into slavery, but choosing to be servants of Christ. That might look different in every situation. Sometimes submitting to God means laying our pride or agenda aside, but sometimes it might mean standing firm in obeying God instead of someone who demand we submit to their wrong plans.

Our obedience to God may lead us into situations that are challenging and even treacherous, but God doesn’t take us there without a plan for greater good. He knows who can stand under certain circumstances and what the outcome will be.

Daniel went into the lion’s den for submitting himself to God even though it meant NOT following orders of the king because those orders were directly in conflict with God. It was a severely dangerous situation from which God rescued Daniel.

There are believers being held in prison right now for obeying God. It’s not a good situation for them and their families. But when we look at the work God is doing through it and the people who are coming to know Jesus and be healed as a result, we can see the good God is bringing.

Submission is a broader term than we often think it is.

Next post we’ll unpack more about this word and see where it takes us especially when we get to wives.

In the meantime, whenever I think “submission,” I’m thinking “for the Lord’s sake.”