Why Queen Esther Matters for Feminism Today

Let me be the first to admit that when the topic of biblical womanhood is brought up in a Bible study, sermon, blog, or the dinner table, my eyes glaze over and I go to my happy place.  I have lost count of how many times I’ve heard the Proverbs 31 woman be cited as the optimal goal for Christian women. While this woman has great qualities and seems like a nice lady who puts her family first, she is not the only woman mentioned in the Bible. Can I hear an “Amen!” from all the women allergic to the kitchen?  (I’m convinced “gathering food from afar” can mean driving to Whole Foods!

While it’s important to look at the biblical model for households, it is also equally important to look at how God used women to accomplish His goals outside of the kitchen. As a Girls Minister, who works with teenagers for a living, let me tell you, one of the reasons women young and old have rejected biblical womanhood is because most teaching leaves out exciting Biblical stories with women in the starring roles. Thus enters the allure of the feminist movement.

Today we are going to look at a woman with a leading role in the Bible and in history, Queen Esther. Esther lives a real-life Cinderella story, has an entire Biblical book named after her, and manages to change the mind of a king and the direction of a country through her wisdom, beauty, timely words, and place of royalty. EScreen Shot 2017-05-23 at 5.19.51 PM.pngsther has an important message for Christian girls and women who desperately want an exciting life and an impactful existence, and who secretly wonder if they must side with the feminist movement in order to accomplish these goals. Let’s look at why Queen Esther matters for the feminist movement of today.

Esther 4:14 is the most quoted verse in the entire biblical book of Esther.

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish.  And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?  Esther 4:14

This is her uncle appealing to Esther to stand up for the Jews who were being mistreated and to use her high position in order to get her convictions heard before the king.  The verse directly contrasts the idea that the Bible oppresses women.  God placed Esther as Queen in order to lead a revolution!

  1. Esther only used effective methods and means. If Esther lived in 2017, she would not have attended the Women’s March. How do I know this? She had seen the King’s first wife, Queen Vashti, behave in a feminist protest by refusing to obey her husband, to submit to his God-given authority, or to follow the norms for the culture of the day- which resulted in her losing her crown. Esther was not about to repeat the same mistake.
  1. Esther had a systematic plan in mind and motion. Esther was not interested in merely yelling loud enough or long enough to get someone’s attention. She wanted results and to keep her husband’s heart, interest, and trust. Esther did not make him change his mind as a result of a tantrum. She carefully planned and respectfully appealed to her king and husband.
  1. Esther kept her dignity resulting in her keeping her crown. Esther was not rash in the way she planned to confront injustice. Esther did not demand action, but requested her voice be heard and her plan carried out. Because of her patience and calm demeanor, her husband was open to hearing her concerns.
  1. Esther was her own person while remaining submissive. Esther had her own ideas about culture, society, justice, and equality – and that is more than okay! In fact, Esther’s differing opinion from her husband’s is a main plot of this story! She was her own person, with her own ideas, who respectfully brought her request to the king, and he listened.

There are ungodly and unequal ideas, laws, practices, and crimes that must change for women in 2017. Culture needs to progress in how women are treated, and Christians need to stand for those who are mistreated. In the midst of creating a better world for women, there is value in learning how women in the Bible used their power, influence, grace, patience, beauty, and position to change the minds of kings and the direction of history.

About the Writer:
Julia is the Girl’s Ministry Director at First Baptist Dallas. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor who trained at the world-renowned Meier Clinics.  Julia is a professional speaker for Just Say Yes, speaking nationwide on the topics of suicide, depression, self-harm, and eating disorders. Julia is passionate about her three favorite topics theology, psychology, and ryanology. She has been married to her junior high sweetheart, Ryan, for eight years and loves ministering to teenagers alongside her best friend and favorite boss. Julia has a heart to see people experience the same freedom through Christ that she has experienced!

Respect and Influence in Your Home

In the story of Esther, we see that the queen of the land had the ability to influence not only the king, but other women in the kingdom who were watching from a distance. While the cultural practices are very different today from those in Esther’s day, I think that we can glean a very challenging application from these pages.

God’s divine providence placed Esther in a role where she had the authority to sway the heart and the actions of King Ahasuerus. She had great favor in his eyes. (Esther 2:17) If we step back and look at our spheres of influence, we might realize that we are all given more authority and ability to effect change than we realize.

In the first chapter, a story unfolds where the previous Queen Vashti was insubordinate to the king and, in response, one of the princes suggested that she be removed from her place of honor, with the reasoning that “the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women causing them to look with contempt on their husbands.” (Esther 1:17) By contrast, Queen Esther’s words and actions towards King Ahasuerus were humble and respectful even in a time when she could have approached him with extreme emotion and haste.

Instead of running immediately to the king, she gathered information, prayed over several days, and prepared a plan. When it came time for Esther to meet with the king, she demonstrated her respect for him by the way in which she approached him. She was patient and gentle with her words and her actions. How different could my home look if this were the manner with which I approached my husband every day, in an attitude of prayer, humility, and respect?

As wives and mothers, we make decisions throughout the day that influence and set the tone for our families. The positive or negative energy that we display to our family is reproduced and multiplied around us. In this power, we carry both a great responsibility and a great opportunity.

Instead of reacting quickly out of emotion, let us act with patience and courage. Let us pray and take careful measure in the way that we respond to our families. For we are each placed into these roles by God and He has plans to use us for a specific purpose.

About the Writer:
Audra has a passion for encouraging women in their roles at home in both marriage and motherhood. She enjoys sharing her journey of refinement and learning through these important transitions on her blog called The Homegrown Project.

The Word of God–Fighting Sin

Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.(Psalm 119:11)

 As my Bible study reached Genesis 3 about the fall of man, my own sin became front and center. The study asked us to list three sins we struggle with the most and find verses that indicate why each sin was destructive and then other verses to help us guard against that sin.

CarolineMayI have made lists of Bible verses before about places to turn when you “struggled” with something: a list for finances, a list for worry – you get the idea. But to call my own sin out, to name it and confront it – was completely foreign and life changing.  When we specifically call out our sin and use the Word of God to confront it, with His help, we can destroy it.

One of my sins is anger and a quick tongue, particularly with my husband.  When I began to get angry with him and feel the urge to lash out, I pull out my list of verses.  I’m confronted with the truth of God’s Word.

First, I read the devastation of my own sin:  “A foolish woman tears down her house with her own hands.” (Proverbs 14:1)  I am confronted that my cutting words tear down our house. I do that.

Then I turn to how to handle it: “Let no unwholesome word proceed from you mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)  It stops me in my tracks. I approach my husband with grace and humility.

There is power in God’s Word. When sin creeps in, I read the verses over and over. I am confronted that my desire is sin, but God has provided the way to escape the temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). I fight sin with the power of God’s Word.

I challenge you to do the same. Pray and ask God to reveal sin in your life.  When He has spoken clearly to you, list those sins. Then search the Bible for answers – verses that warn about the destructiveness of that sin and verses that instruct you on how to fight it.  Treasure God’s Word in your heart that you may not sin against him.

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.

 

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. 

Radiance of the Father

When I was in my early 20’s I was plagued with cystic acne. Having always enjoyed pristine skin, I had no reason to anticipate these changes that accompanied my early adult years. At first I tried to cover it, then I tried to fix it, then I felt ashamed of it (taking it quite personally), and then I just endured it and avoided mirrors. Of course, I was never happy about it nor did I fail to notice the constant ache it created as the deep-seated nodules put pressure against my facial bones. Looking back, it seems so insignificant and not even worth recalling — if not for the valuable lessons God showed me during and after those uncomfortable, drawn-out years. Eventually my skin cleared up; but, surprisingly, the change did not make me any happier or more confident as a woman.

We all know that external beauty is only skin-deep; but oh how easy it is to let injuries, childbirth, deformities, cancer, physical decline, sickness and scars maime our sense of self-confidence. Praise God for His unconditional love that considers us beautiful and valuable no matter how we feel about ourselves.

When I think about the times that I feel truly radiant, I notice that it has nothing to do with my physical appearance. It is not because I am pleased with my weight, my hair, my face or my outfit. Instead, such moments of true radiance, when I know beauty, are when I gaze upon beauty — not compete with it.

Psalm 34:1-5
I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul will make its boast in the LORD;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
O magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
I sought the LORD, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.

Continually celebrating and knowing the Lord as the Holy One, the Worthy One, the Magnificent One make the release from any fears or self-consciousness a gracious certainty. As pride seeks to compete for God’s glory, thankfulness and joy come to the ones who turn their eyes to Jesus. Any glory that God has reflected upon us must be turned back to Him. We decrease and He increases (John 3:30). He makes us beautiful because He created us in His image (Genesis 1:26-27, Psalm 139:14). He makes us radiant because of His glory and calling (2 Corinthians 3:18, Ephesians 5:27). He makes us full because of His fullness (Colossians 2:9-10, John 1:16). He makes us pure because of His precious Son’s blood (1 John 2:12, Revelation 1:5). Having caught His eye, we realize that no greater admiration is equal.

Radiance of the Father

Psalm 8:3-4
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
What is man that You take thought of him…

About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.

Practically in Love

As I reflect on years past, when my husband and I were newly married and our hopes were high and our future was bright, it was easy for us to say and even show “I love you.” But after 10 years of marriage and 2 kids later, the masks have come off and the real people have emerged, which is not always a pretty sight. For us, “I love you” has taken on a new meaning and it often shows itself in not so romantic ways (even though my husband has always been the type of guy who likes to go all out for his girl). He loves me when he comes home and sees me in those baggy sweat pants and the same food stained college T-Shirt that I’ve had on for the past 2 days. In the same way, I still love him when he walks straight past the sink of dirty dishes and overflowing trash can, as if they didn’t exist.

Practically in LoveAs Christians, I would venture to say that we have no problem with the idea of loving God. His amazing grace urges us to love Him with all our heart, soul and mind.  The struggle comes in those everyday situations when we have an opportunity to represent God’s love to others, especially to those who don’t know Him. It’s easy to love the lovable (for example, my husband), but it’s much more difficult to love those who give you no compelling reason to do so.

When we raise holy hands to show God how much we love Him, let us also strive in our daily walk to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Jesus tells us, “By this, all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” John 13: 35

Here are some practical examples:

  • The difficult co-worker or fellow committee volunteer: Could you bring them a latte on Monday morning or pray with them when one of their family members is sick?
  • The boss who puts unrealistic expectations on you: Could you avoid bad mouthing them and instead work in a way that shows you are working unto the Lord?
  • Your children: Could you show a little patience and understanding when they are having their most unlovable moments?
  • That waiter who gets your order wrong when you only have 15 minutes to eat: Can you show him a little grace instead of frustration?

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.

October Bride

It’s been close to seventeen years ago, but it seems like it just happened yesterday – my wedding that is! It is the happiest of all my fall memories because it truly was the day that I married my best friend. He and I are high school sweethearts. We’ve been together twenty-one years and will be married for seventeen years on October 18th. We were fifteen and sixteen years old when we met and fell in love, and our relationship has only gotten better as the years have gone by.

As the summer months come to an end and the leaves take on those vibrant fall colors, it signals the arrival of another year we get to celebrate being together. My precious husband is my rock, my protector, my lover, my counselor and my best friend. In so many ways he’s been a savior to me. My heart loves him fiercely. Marrying him will go down in the history of my life as one of the best decisions I ever made!Fall wedding

The physical world mirrors the spiritual. You see, whether you are male or female, married or not, if you belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, you are His bride. Like our physical husbands, Christ is ultimately our Rock, Protector, Lover, Counselor, Best Friend and most importantly, our Savior. Marriage is beautiful when done correctly; it honors God who created the institution in the first place.

Ephesians 5:21-33 outlines how husbands and wives are supposed to interact with one another. It speaks on submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ and summarizes the roles men and women play in the marriage relationship. When you have two people submitted to God and one another, who do marriage the way God designed it, it works. It’s never perfect. Problems still arise and disagreements happen, but when God is the center, He makes things that we as humans typically dislike, such as compromise and sacrifice, much easier.

As daylight gets shorter and the days get colder, I get closer to my wedding anniversary. If you are married, my prayer is that you and your spouse would surrender to God’s headship in your lives; and that your relationship would be blessed, enjoyable and something you look forward to working on making better each day!  If you find yourself on the other side of the equation, my prayer for you is that you would remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7. Please take the time to read it in its fullness, but pay close attention to verse 34 which reads, “…her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit.”  If you are not married, devote yourself to God, and He will take care of the rest.

I thank God for marriage and the husband He blessed me with. I pray that as I near my favorite fall memory, that you would remember that you too are a bride – the bride of Christ. I pray that your heart would love Him fiercely. I know from experience that giving my life to Him will go down in the history of my life as THE best decision I’ve ever made!

About the Writer:
Nicole enjoys reading, writing, cooking and spending time with her two favorite people – her husband and son. She realizes marriage takes a lot of hard work and commitment, but the payoff is one of the most awesome relationships God has given mankind. She and her husband have found it to be worth the effort on both parts.

Every Good and Perfect Gift

In the words of the ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus of Ephesus, “All is flux, nothing is stationary.” That the world around us is constantly changing is a natural law that one can bank on. Isn’t it a relief that God’s character does not follow His creation’s nature of change (James 1:17)?

Transition and changes in life are typically mingled with emotions. Also, some changes come unexpectedly and without our consent. In one particularly radical period of transition in my life, I remember it seemed there wasn’t a plan or hope left standing. Relationships, previous goals, career aspirations, independence, health, finances, possessions, ministry — everything seemed to be destroyed from the inside out. It was at that point I encountered a test: today would I obey God and trust Him? Would I try yet again at my own way or avoid what I knew He had prepared for me? Would I obey God when I didn’t understand and didn’t like His direction?

This past month the First Dallas Women’s Ministry highlighted a Bible Study by Pricilla Shirer on the life of Jonah. After studying Jonah, one might easily come to the conclusion that he is not the poster child of a joyful servant. In the same way, I may not meet every change of direction with the grace of a skilled dancer — I may stumble my way through the awkward confusion of leading versus following. Either way, God is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He wants my heart to trust His unchanging character as I choose to follow Him through life’s ups and downs, twists and turns.

In the words of the Apostle Paul to the church in Ephesus, I believe we find courage and hope to meet Heraclitus’s observation. God loves us. He has a full, abundant life waiting for us, and He is able to accomplish more than we can comprehend. Hidden inside His calling to meet the unexpected with trust and obedience, is a gift beyond our limited understanding. More of Him.

Every Good and Perfect Gift

 “May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.”

Ephesians 3:19-21

About the Writer:

Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow Christ. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to raising her daughter to know and love the Lord. 
Lyndsay has a blog dedicated to sharing and celebrating the work of Christ through her experiences as a missionary, world traveler, knowledge seeker, and recipient of God’s lavish grace.