Women: God’s Instrument for Justice

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me. Psalm 138:7

Anyone who tells you that the Bible degenerates women hasn’t closely examined it’s message of unconditional love, especially for the vulnerable.  The Bible is rich in accounts of God using the weak to defeat the strong (what an amazing way to show His power!). In the fallen world of patriarchal culture, circumstances often left women broken and victims of the destructive desires of men.  But the suffering will not last, and Jesus will one day come back and defeat evil once and for all. (Revelation 19:11-21)  Men’s power cannot stand next to God’s power.

In the book of Exodus we get a glimpse of God’s power to defeat evil men when He used women as his instrument of justice.  Pharaoh was fearful of the growing Israelite nation and sought to destroy them through the genocide of all newborn boys.

Two blessed midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, defied Pharoah’s order to kill all the Egyptian baby boys as their mothers gave birth to them. (Exodus1:15-20)  These heroines remind me today of the many women who work in crisis pregnancy centers, adoption agencies, and foster care; protecting and advocating for the most vulnerable among us. They stand powerfully against seemingly unstoppable injustice.

In addition, Pharoah’s own daughter was instrumental in his own destruction. She found baby Moses hidden in the reeds. She brought him into Pharoah’s house and raised him s her own. Pharaoh’s adversary grew up in his house because God used his daughter to thwart Pharaoh’s evil plan of genocide for the Egyptian people. (Exodus 2:5-10)  In perhaps what seemed to be quiet ways, these women through God’s diving will toppled the terrifying and oppressive power structure that reigned with ear over their lives.

Dear Sister, you are precious in the sight of God.  He can use you powerfully for His glory. While the world may objectify, sexualize, and stereotype women as less interested or capable of leading; God knows your great worth.  Men will fail you and leaders may oppress you, but God has not forgotten you.  He has heard you.

There is deliverance.  The powers of this world:  nations, unjust leaders, abusive boyfriends and husbands will fall. . . so hold on.  God is trustworthy and good. The oppression of this world cannot stand though it’s weight may be crushing.  God is working in the midst of the broken and vulnerable.  We can rest in his promised victory, and we can look for how He might use us to bring justice. . . just as He used Shiphrah, Puah, and Pharoah’s daughter.

About the writer:
Caroline is a wife and mom who loves Jesus. She also has a career in commercial real estate investing. God has given her a heart for encouraging other women. She and her husband, Eric, are the directors of the Fellowship Class, a young married Sunday School class at First Baptist Dallas.

Be Still

Let me paint a picture for you. Moses is leading the Israelites, God’s chosen people, out of Egypt where they were being brutality mistreated as slaves under Pharaoh. As they are fleeing, Pharaoh sends a large army filled with his best chariots after them to capture and kill them once again. At one point the Israelites find themselves in an impossible situation with Pharaoh’s army closing in on them
from behind and the Red Sea in front. At this point the fear filled Israelites begin ridiculing Moses for taking them from their familiar life and putting them in such a dangerous situation. All of a sudden panic sets in and being tortured in Egypt looks better to them than the fear of the unknown. Moses then gives the Israelites a pep talk of sorts reminding them the Lord will in fact deliver them. These specific wrds from Moses replay often in my own head as I face impossible situations as well.

 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.  Exodus 14:14 (NIV)

We struggle with infertility and our situation often feels impossible. I can easily feel surrounded by fear if I focus on our years of past struggles or the unknowns that lie in front of us, just like the Israelites. I find that when fear is ruling, I desire to have full control over my own situation. Living in fear and control is not being still. In fact, they keep us from fulling trusting God and often work against His plan. God wants us to be still so He can rule over our lives, directing us as He fights our battles along the way.

So how did the Lord fight for the Israelites? With the raising of Moses’ staff over the Red Sea it split in two, leaving a clear and dry path for the Israelites to escape. As they escape through the parted waters, the Egyptian army follows. At the direction of the Lord, the walls of water come crashing down and the Red Sea swallows up their enemy. The Israelites trusted and the Lord fought their impossible battle for them.

Don’t let fear rule and discount your faith in God. God is powerful over our impossible situations, we just have to trust Him. I absolutely love this specific verse from the popular worship song, No Longer Slaves by Bethel Music

You split the sea
So I could walk right through it.
You drowned my fears in perfect love,
You rescued me.
And I will stand and sing
I am a child of God.

How amazing that the God of the universe is working to fight my battles for me. Knowing that relieves such a burden! We must be still. Let Him drown our fears, allow Him to fight for us, and He will part a way through the impossible.

About the Writer:
Joni is a former elementary school teacher turned stay at home wife and mom to her son. She enjoys serving at First Baptist Dallas along side her husband as small group leaders in their Young Marrieds Sunday school class. She loves spending her free time crafting, attempting Pinterest projects, and above all spending time with her family.

The Breaking Point

The last straw. That silly, insignificant thing that sends you straight over the edge. It’s been a rough morning, after a rough week (or month). You are stretched thin, barely holding it all together and then one more thing happens and you break. And that’s where I found myself- at my breaking point.

I got my boys into class, found my way back to my car, and the flood gates opened. I was finally letting it all out. Every tear that streamed down my face represented a fight that I had lost in the last month, a moment where I had been defeated by life, another failure. I turned my car on and the music began to play. The songs flowed out of my radio… to my ears… to my heart. Each song seemed perfectly fitting for my situation- heartfelt songs, crying out to a savior for grace and mercy, a desperate call on the only One who knows every tear.

breaking-waveI thought I was doing fine on my own, things were not great, but they were not that bad either. Life was manageable, survivable… so I thought. “I’m strong. I can get through this.” I kept telling myself. Until I hit my breaking point. So, there I sat, in the school parking lot, broken, crying out to God, singing praises to the Lord through my tears, and questioning why. And then it hit me- to bring me back to God. I was trying to control my own life, my steps, my will. This breaking point was a not so gentle reminder that I needed to surrender my control to God. I have no control, I only thought I did.

The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Now I laugh, remembering what my son told me the other day, “Mom, my brain makes me think that I’m in charge of you, but I know you are in charge of me. My brain just tells me that I’m in charge sometimes.” He understands that I am in control of his life- to protect him, guide him, care for him. But he also recognizes the fight within his own head to take control of his life. Such wisdom from a 5-year-old.

I do the same thing with God. I tell him “I got this. I’m in charge. I’ll let you know when I need you.” When things are good in life, our minds deceive us into believing we can do this on our own- that we do not need God. Sometimes we must be broken in order to bring us back to the One who protects us, guides us, and cares for us. God is stronger and infinitely wiser. I have to seek Him daily and allow Him to be my God.

The Lord will fight for you; while you keep silent. Exodus 14:14 

Consider each breaking point pure joy and cry out to the Lord, praising Him with songs.

About the Writer:
Meghan is a former art teacher who feels blessed to now be a stay-a-home mom to her two boys. She loves volunteering at her sons’ school and with the First Baptist Dallas Women’s Ministry and First Impressions Team. She is passionate about art, cooking, working out, and playing volleyball.

My Refuge, My Fortress

To dwell is to inhabit as a permanent resident, to keep the attention directed on one place. This word perfectly describes my heart’s daily desire. Though my heart wants to abide in His Word, His presence and His will each day, the struggle to do so is real. With three kids who demand much attention, my heart’s desire is often times squelched by screaming voices, chiming phones, and a to do list much longer than the day can accommodate.Dwell

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:

Dwelling in a shelter is offered to me each day and abiding in the shadow of the Almighty provides relief that can only come from one place of refuge, one fortress, our heavenly Father. Do I wake up each day thinking, “I get to abide in Him today,” or “Man, I’m giving all of my attention to the Lord today!” No, let’s be real, I’m usually awakened by a sippy cup hitting my head or a small person crawling onto me with a wet diaper. Those days when I do sleep until the alarm goes off first, my feet don’t just bound from bed. I often feel worn out before I even start. And when I awake worn out, why am I not seeking My Refuge instantly? Why am I not standing in the shadow of the Almighty right out of the gate?

As women we must be conscious of where we dwell, moment by moment. We must take note of where we find refuge.  Are we finding validation and strength from the perfect picture of the kids posted to Facebook? Are we seeking refuge at the coffee shop with other women as we compare our lives to others? Or, are we seeking Him, daily, moment by moment and dwelling in His Word and everlasting love?

When times get tough late in the day, or you wake up exhausted simply because the season of your life right now, remember and remind one another to dwell in the Lord. Encourage each other to have some quiet time with the Lord today. Point one another to Christ, who is the source of our strength. Stand in the gap with one another as we dwell in the shelter of the Most High.

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Psalm 23:6

About the Author:
Tamie is a stay at home wife and mom of three kids with autism. She is a member of First Baptist Dallas and enjoys spending time hanging out at home with her family or at a quiet dinner with girlfriends. Tamie is passionate about encouraging other woman in their daily walk with the Lord.

Prayers of My Daughter

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3 ESV)

My two-year-old daughter is ever changing, learning, growing, … and sometimes disobeying.  It’s a tiring, but fun age because we are beginning to see the fruits of pouring God’s Word and love into her.  Praying childShe loves to pray.  She very seriously presses her hands together right in front of her nose, furrows her brow and says, “Dear God” and ends with a loud “Amen!”  It is sometimes followed by clapping.

In most of her prayers she says, “Thank you God for mommy, daddy, my carrots, and my fork”.  I think it’s important to start by teaching our children to pray with a heart of gratefulness and rejoicing (Phillipians 4:4).  But God clearly showed me when it was time to teach her more about prayer.  A family that is dear to us recently found out that their two year old has a potentially life changing eye condition called macular degeneration.  A perfectly healthy and precious little girl may experience deterioration in her sight leading to blindness.  My heart ached for her parents.  I began to internalize the questions and fears I would have if I was in their shoes.  I wanted to be faithful in praying for miraculous healing, and then it hit me that my daughter could pray too.

I explained to her in very simple terms what was happening and told my daughter this little girl’s eyes hurt, and that we were going to pray for God to make them better.  She nodded and paid attention in a way that is rare for her.  God Himself had clearly put empathy in her heart.  My daughter regularly, and without prompting, remembers to pray for her friend.  She prays, “Thank you God for making my friend’s eyes feel better”.  Oh, to pray like that – trusting fully.

I could easily dismiss her prayer as rote memorization, but I believe it is a reflection of the childlike faith Jesus asks us to have.  Our prayers are not heard because they are well formed, but because we believe and the Holy Spirit intercedes for us (Romans 8:26).  We are not miracle workers – Jesus is.  He has worked in my young daughter’s heart to make her a prayer warrior, and I believe He will perform a miracle for her young friend to protect her vision.

About the Writer:
Caroline is a wife and mom who loves Jesus.  She also has a career in commercial real estate investing.  God has given her a heart for encouraging other women.  She and her husband, Eric, are the directors of the Fellowship Class, a young married Sunday School class, at First Baptist Dallas.

Faithful. It’s Who He IS

When life as you know it changes, the bottom falls out, and everything gets turned upside down, what’s your first response?  When my first child was diagnosed with autism, my first response was denial.  When my second child was diagnosed with autism, my first response was fear.  When my third child was diagnosed with autism, my first response was gratitude in prayer.Faithful

What I have learned over the past 9 years is God is faithful.  He can be trusted.  He is everything His Word says He is.  I am now able to look back to that first diagnosis and see the Lord’s hand over everything.  The doctors and therapists He placed in our lives to help my daughter, the Sunday School class He so wisely guided us to, and the support system He was building around us without us even realizing it was all a part of His work.  I didn’t understand all that was happening, but became grateful He was in control when I was not.  What transpired over the last few years has been a joy in which to be a part.  I have seen God work in my life and in my husband’s life as we navigated the water of three kids with autism.

We saw everything we read about in scripture of who God is to be true.  He knows every detail and nothing surprises Him.  He’s trustworthy for this reason alone and more than able to guide our every step.  When everything seems out of control and beyond our control, we could rest knowing He works all things for good to those who love Him.  We only needed to keep our eye on the Cross, not the storm.  Through it all, we have direct access to Christ.  We are able to cry out to Him in the midst of all the chaos, knowing He hears my heart’s cry, and counts my tears.  My pain will not go to waste.  His word will not return void.  I have seen my God be exactly who He says He is.  He is faithful.  He can be trusted.  He loves me and my family far more than my head can comprehend.

“Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.” 1 Peter 4:19

I will seek His will for my life, trust that when life gets tough and trials come, He is who He says He is.  Faithful.

About the Writer:
Tamie is a stay at home wife and mommy of three kids with autism.  She is a member of First Baptist Dallas and enjoys spending time hanging out at home with her family or a quiet dinner with girlfriends.  Tamie is passionate about encouraging other woman in their daily walk with the Lord.

Where’s Wyatt

When my son was a baby, he would pull his blanket over his eyes and we would say “where’s Wyatt?” He would pull down his blanket and smile and laugh. This was a fun game. As he grew into a toddler, the game “where’s Wyatt?” took on a new meaning. Our families quickly learned to begin searching for Wyatt anytime one of us asked that question. Wyatt has a very curious mind and when he gets focused on something, he just goes.

Wyatt was 3 years old when First Baptist Dallas opened the new Worship Center andWhere's Wyatt Children’s Building. It was Easter Sunday and it had been a fabulous morning of worship and praise. The whole church was buzzing with excitement and there were people everywhere. My husband and I picked the boys up from their new classes on the first floor. We went down the hall to play on the playground, and I took pictures of the boys. I took a few pictures of Wyatt and then asked him to put a toy back so we could go see the fountain. I took a picture of my husband and our other son. I turned to check on Wyatt, but I didn’t see him. He was gone. I immediately went into frantic search mode.

I tried to stay calm, but my heart was pounding and worst case scenarios were flying through my head. I hurried down the hall, peeking into rooms and asking every friend I passed if they had seen him. Nothing. I reached the main hall and told a lady at the front desk that we couldn’t find Wyatt. She radioed for more help. Elevators. Wyatt has always been obsessed with elevators. I rushed toward the elevators in the building, then in the parking garage. He wasn’t there.

Fountain! I had told him we were going there next. As I headed out the front doors, there he was, walking back across the street with an unknown lady holding his hand. Tears of relief began to form in my eyes as I scooped him up. Then the fear sank in. He had crossed a downtown Dallas street, by himself. My husband and I were shaken to our core.

That night, after he fell asleep, I knelt beside his bed to pray. My worrisome heart prayed and gave Wyatt to God. I knew this would not be the last time Wyatt wandered off. The only thing I could do was submit Wyatt to God’s will. I prayed for his protection and safety. I prayed for God to remove the overwhelming fear from my heart and replace it with peace. Not just peace, but the Peace of God.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

About the Writer:
Meghan is a former art teacher who feels blessed to now be a stay-at-home mom to her two boys. She loves volunteering at her sons’ school and with the First Baptist Dallas Women’s Ministry and First Impressions Team. She is passionate about art, cooking, working out, and playing volleyball.

Wisdom of God

Have you ever felt that life can be so hectic; it often feels like you are drowning? The numerous responsibilities that life brings can be overwhelming. It is in those busy seasons that I think about my grandmothers. I wonder how they managed to keep it all together. They did not have nearly as many of the modern conveniences that I have now and yet my memories of them and their homes are memories of peace and joy. I want that for my home and my family.

I am sure that when their kids were small like mine, they might have felt the same sense of exhaustion. But I also know that through the years, they learned that what is most important is making God a priority.

Wisdom is with aged men,
With long life is understanding. Job 12:12

Growing up, I witnessed my grandmothers consistently immerse themselves in prayer and Bible reading.Wisdom of God  Each morning, they did not leave their bed until they had read a scripture and passage from a devotional. Each evening, they did not get into their bed until they got on their knees to pray. My grandmothers understood that in order to make it through this world, they had to rely on the wisdom of God, which is found in His word and in relationship with Him.

As a child, I could not understand why they chose to spend so much time in these activities. But as an adult, I now see the importance of spending time in God’s presence and seeking His wisdom. All too often, we rely on our own understanding rather than relying on the wisdom of God. This leads us down a path of greater confusion and disappointment. I challenge us all to choose the good part, the one thing necessary, by investing time in prayer and studying God’s ultimate truth. This will give us the wisdom we need to navigate through life with grace and peace.

About the Writer:
Gabby Brown is a daughter of God Most High. She is married to her best friend and she is the mother of two amazing little boys. She leads the adoption ministry at First Baptist Dallas, and supports her husband in his role as teacher of the Growing Roots Sunday School class.

His Grace is Sufficient

Do the “what ifs” sometimes overwhelm you? When you let your mind drift to any of the endless list of potential crises that could be a phone call away, do you feel unequipped to handle that grief? Do you look at someone else’s struggle and think, “I can’t even imagine” or “there is no way I can handle that”? That particular feeling struck me recently: I have two young mom friends, sisters in Christ, who have cancer. Both have two children under five. I can’t even imagine.

The possibilities seem crippling. And then, in steps the power of God.

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

The picture below is of my first baby girl, Elizabeth Alane. I never got to hold her. Eric and I saw her heartbeat at seven weeks, and by nine weeks her heartbeat was no more.

His Grace is Sufficient

After my miscarriage God held me up in so many ways. One way was through the Scripture that comforted and assured me. One of the verses that brought me so much comfort was 2 Corinthians 12:9.  His grace is sufficient. 

A week and a day before we found out that the baby no longer had a heartbeat, I broke down sobbing, and I told my husband, Eric, I was scared of losing the baby. I was mess. Eric held me and comforted me, and he prayed that we would put the baby in God’s hands. If you looked at what a mess I was then, you would have thought actually losing the baby would have rendered me a useless waste. But God gave me the grace I needed in the moment I need it. After my miscarriage, I had an undeniable hope despite my loss. I didn’t know how this would work together for good (Romans 8:28). I didn’t understand God’s thoughts and plans in this (Isaiah 55:8-9). But I believed that God’s word was true and even though I didn’t understand how He would fulfill the promise of Scripture, I knew that he would. God was extending me the grace I needed.

His grace is sufficient. It is sufficient to meet our every need, day by day as they happen. It is also sufficient to meet our greatest need – for salvation. Let the power of God be your refuge: no matter what lies ahead, He is able to see you through it.

About the Writer:
Caroline Moore is a wife and mom who loves Jesus. She also has a career in commercial real estate investing. God has given her a heart for encouraging other women. She and her husband, Eric, are the directors of the Fellowship Class, a young married Sunday School class, at First Baptist Dallas.

Protection Against Discouragement

Like the atomic bomb of an army’s arsenal, I believe discouragement is one of the most Protection Against Discouragementpowerful and decimating of Satan’s weapons against us. Discouragement is often the basis on which we give up on our walk with God and on the mission He has called us to. Once we have placed our faith and trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, Satan cannot remove us from the family of God. However, if he can manage to discourage us, he can render us useless to the Kingdom of God.

Discouragement can come in many forms, but in my life, it most often comes from those around me disapproving of me, my looks, or my work. I can quickly be shot down by harshly spoken words or a condemning look. It is literally as though someone robs the strength from my body. Satan is an expert at knowing just how best to discourage and defeat us, and when we find our identity and worth in anything or anyone other than Christ, we open the door to Satan’s discouragement.

Maybe you have experienced this as well. If you have, let me encourage you that there is hope! Though Satan’s attacks are strong, we serve a much stronger God who offers us protection against discouragement. What is this protection? I’m so glad you’ve asked! It is the truth of our identity. When we understand the truth that our identity is found fully and completely in Jesus Christ and not in the approval of others, we can stand strong against discouragement.

The story of Nehemiah is an amazing picture of a man who was used mightily by the Lord because he found his identity and affirmation in the Lord and not in what others said about him. As he led in the re-building of the wall around Jerusalem, he was bombarded with rumors about his character, his motives, and his safety (Nehemiah 6). Yet, he recognized them for what they were, attacks from the enemy without a basis in truth. Nehemiah said,

“For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, ‘Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done.’ Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.” Nehemiah 6:9

If Nehemiah had found his identity in what was being said about him, he would have jumped off that wall in order to address the rumors. The calling God had placed on his life (re-building the wall) would have never been completed, and the enemy would have had victory. However, Nehemiah faithfully remained on that wall, finding his value and calling in God alone, and recognizing the lies of Satan’s attempt to discourage him.

If you find yourself struggling with the battle of identity, being bombarded by the enemy’s discouragement, I encourage you to claim these facts as truth about who God says you are in Him:

  • You were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27)
  • You were created purposefully (Jeremiah 1:5)
  • You do not have to live in condemnation (Romans 8:1)
  • You are a co-heir with Christ Jesus, a daughter of God (Romans 8:15-17)
  • Nothing can separate you from God’s love (Romans 8:35-39)
  • Your weakness allows God’s strength to be made known (2 Corinthians 2:9)
  • You have been called to walk in the worth of Christ alone (Ephesians 4:1)

“Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands” (Nehemiah 6:9b).

About the Writer:
Kate has the privilege of serving as the Girls Ministry Director at Frist Baptist Dallas.  She has a heart for helping girls come to know and build a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. She is also contributor to Lifeway Girls Ministry resources.