Mental Toughness Characteristics

For all the time executives spend concerned about physical strength and health, when it comes down to it, mental strength can mean even more. Particularly for entrepreneurs, numerous articles talk about critical characteristics of mental strength—tenacity, “grit,” optimism, and an unfailing ability as Forbes contributor David Williams says, to “fail up.”

Amy Morin is a licensed clinical social worker and writer

However, we can also define mental strength by identifying the things mentally strong individuals don’t do. Over the weekend, I was impressed by this list compiled by Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker, that she shared in LifeHack. It impressed me enough I’d also like to share her list here along with my thoughts on how each of these items is particularly applicable to entrepreneurs.

1. Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves. You don’t see mentally strong people feeling sorry for their circumstances or dwelling on the way they’ve been mistreated. They have learned to take responsibility for their actions and outcomes, and they have an inherent understanding of the fact that frequently life is not fair. They are able to emerge from trying circumstances with self-awareness and gratitude for the lessons learned. When a situation turns out badly, they respond with phrases such as “Oh, well.” Or perhaps simply, “Next!”

2. Give Away Their Power. Mentally strong people avoid giving others the power to make them feel inferior or bad. They understand they are in control of their actions and emotions. They know their strength is in their ability to manage the way they respond.

3. Shy Away from Change. Mentally strong people embrace change and they welcome challenge. Their biggest “fear,” if they have one, is not of the unknown, but of becoming complacent and stagnant. An environment of change and even uncertainty can energize a mentally strong person and bring out their best.

4. Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control. Mentally strong people don’t complain (much) about bad traffic, lost luggage, or especially about other people, as they recognize that all of these factors are generally beyond their control. In a bad situation, they recognize that the one thing they can always control is their own response and attitude, and they use these attributes well.

5. Worry About Pleasing Others. Know any people pleasers? Or, conversely, people who go out of their way to dis-please others as a way of reinforcing an image of strength? Neither position is a good one. A mentally strong person strives to be kind and fair and to please others where appropriate, but is unafraid to speak up. They are able to withstand the possibility that someone will get upset and will navigate the situation, wherever possible, with grace.

6. Fear Taking Calculated Risks. A mentally strong person is willing to take calculated risks. This is a different thing entirely than jumping headlong into foolish risks. But with mental strength, an individual can weigh the risks and benefits thoroughly, and will fully assess the potential downsides and even the worst-case scenarios before they take action.

7. Dwell on the Past. There is strength in acknowledging the past and especially in acknowledging the things learned from past experiences—but a mentally strong person is able to avoid miring their mental energy in past disappointments or in fantasies of the “glory days” gone by. They invest the majority of their energy in creating an optimal present and future.

8. Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over. We all know the definition of insanity, right? It’s when we take the same actions again and again while hoping for a different and better outcome than we’ve gotten before. A mentally strong person accepts full responsibility for past behavior and is willing to learn from mistakes. Research shows that the ability to be self-reflective in an accurate and productive way is one of the greatest strengths of spectacularly successful executives and entrepreneurs.

9. Resent Other People’s Success. It takes strength of character to feel genuine joy and excitement for other people’s success. Mentally strong people have this ability. They don’t become jealous or resentful when others succeed (although they may take close notes on what the individual did well). They are willing to work hard for their own chances at success, without relying on shortcuts.

10. Give Up After Failure. Every failure is a chance to improve. Even the greatest entrepreneurs are willing to admit that their early efforts invariably brought many failures. Mentally strong people are willing to fail again and again, if necessary, as long as the learning experience from every “failure” can bring them closer to their ultimate goals.

11. Fear Alone Time. Mentally strong people enjoy and even treasure the time they spend alone. They use their downtime to reflect, to plan, and to be productive. Most importantly, they don’t depend on others to shore up their happiness and moods. They can be happy with others, and they can also be happy alone.

12. Feel the World Owes Them Anything. Particularly in the current economy, executives and employees at every level are gaining the realization that the world does not owe them a salary, a benefits package and a comfortable life, regardless of their preparation and schooling. Mentally strong people enter the world prepared to work and succeed on their merits, at every stage of the game.

13. Expect Immediate Results. Whether it’s a workout plan, a nutritional regimen, or starting a business, mentally strong people are “in it for the long haul”. They know better than to expect immediate results. They apply their energy and time in measured doses and they celebrate each milestone and increment of success on the way. They have “staying power.” And they understand that genuine changes take time. Do you have mental strength? Are there elements on this list you need more of?

Who’s Running Things Around Here?

The undeniable fact is that God expects parents to lead the family.
By Chris and Michelle Groff

Aaron and Jennie wanted the best for their daughter Claire. They knew a good high school resume was important to get into a prestigious college. They also knew this didn’t just happen; it required years of preparatory work.

Over the years, they pushed Claire to excel in school and extracurricular activities—the ones she would need in order to be a “success.” Aaron and Jennie sacrificed a lot of time and energy to help Claire lay the groundwork for her future.

Early in her life, Claire sensed how important her achievements were to her parents. She wanted to make them proud of her. Whether it was her grades, sports, cheerleading, or clubs, she did it all and excelled at most. But sometimes she neglected more mundane responsibilities because she knew she could count on her parents to bend over backward to make sure she overachieved on the “important stuff.”

For example, when Claire rushed off to school and left her room in a mess, her mother would clean it up because she knew Claire would be exhausted when she came home. Claire’s back-to-back activities were often on different sides of town, so her parents took turns leaving work early to drive her from one to the other. When Claire remembered before a club meeting that she’d signed up to bring brownies, her mother would drop everything, go to the store, and make the brownies so Claire could work on her homework instead.

So who really was running Aaron and Jenny’s household? It was Claire.

Her needs came first, and her parents formed their schedule around hers. Her parents’ desire for success led them to sacrifice their time, money, and energy for the goals they had for Claire.

That may sound noble at first, but a closer look at the role of the central authority will show you how turning the hierarchy in the home upside down actually results in less growth and maturity, less preparedness for the world, and the possibility of a serious case of entitlement on the part of the children.

So what is a proper biblical authority structure for parents and children?

A hierarchy for healthy families

The undeniable fact is that God expects parents to lead the family. In fact, He spelled out a hierarchy designed for healthy family functioning: The husband is to be the loving, self-sacrificing head of the wife and kids. With this authority comes the most challenging task of all: to love his wife the way Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:23). Talk about a high calling!

Next, the wife is to be intimately involved in and consulted on family decisions. (See Ephesians 5:21 and 1 Peter 3:7.) Just because she is subject to the husband’s headship doesn’t mean she has no authority. In reality, lots of child-raising responsibilities are delegated to Mom, and Dad must support her in those tasks.

Finally, children are to obey their parents and learn from the loving, empathetic relationship that develops with them. (See Ephesians 6:1-4.) God designed the family in such a way that parents are to function as a team of true, loving, central authorities. This lays the foundation for everyone to fulfill his or her responsibilities to the family with love rather than selfishness or pride. (See Ephesians 5:21-6:4.)

Parents must learn the dynamics of exercising authority together. Intuitively, kids will learn to master the divide-and-conquer approach to dealing with authority. They will quickly recognize the weaknesses in the parental team and learn how to pit Mom against Dad when it works to their advantage.

For example, if Mom has a particular way of dealing with problems and Dad has another, the children will learn to choose which one is better for them as each individual situation crops up.  They can run to the rescuer to avoid consequences and to the dictator when they need a problem solved.

Kids are much more likely to learn how to solve problems and face consequences when their parents are united in their approach and fully supportive of each other.  These parents are able to provide clearer boundaries and a greater sense of security to their kids.

This may require parents to have team meetings from time to time in order to work together.  Ideally, you’ll discuss these difficult parenting issues in private so you can agree on boundaries and deliver effective consequences as a unit.  Even if you don’t have time to consult one another before each issue, you’ve got to be supportive of the other parent and keep your disagreements private and behind closed doors.

Fear of discipline

An even more subtle way children indirectly acquire the role of central authority is when parenting decisions are shaped by a fear of discipline or causing pain.  When parents fail to exercise their authority because they can’t stand to see their kids suffer consequences or because they are afraid their kids will be mad at them, the kids have become the authorities in the home.  These fearful parents resort to pleading, bargaining, or whining to get their kids to do what they want, but these approaches undermine their authority and rarely get the responses they are seeking.

Some parents are so afraid of being disliked by their kids that they fail to establish reasonable boundaries for the kids’ behavior.  These parents rationalize with comments like “Well, they were going to do it anyway, so I thought they might as well do it where I can keep an eye on them.”  What’s sad is that the effort to convince their children to like them usually results in disrespect and entitlement instead.

Still other parents are afraid to exercise their authority because they think that enforcing boundaries with consequences will damage their child’s self-esteem.  They believe every experience must be a positive one or their child will become discouraged and lose heart.  But one of the reasons God gives people trials is to build perseverance, maturity, and confidence.  Parents who believe in their children and support them in their struggles without rescuing will find that godly self-esteem is a natural by-product of the process of struggling through discipline.  (See James 1:2-4 and Romans 5:3-5.)

In contrast to the parents who are afraid to exercise authority, other parents exercise it too harshly.  These parents run the family like a drill sergeant, barking out orders and expecting everyone to jump at their commands.  They often insist on “first-time obedience,” expecting their kids to obey every command without challenge, excuse, or delay.

While we all want our kids to obey the first time we ask, the dictatorial approach sends a message that we aren’t willing to listen to our kids.  It emphasizes our power and authority over the value of having an authentic relationship with our kids.  This makes obedience difficult for rebellious kids and mechanical for compliant kids.  In neither case is the child learning from his or her experiences because the parents are forcing their will on the child rather than walking beside them and using the experiences to shape their character.

Far from having the positive influence they desire, an overbearing parenting style can cause kids to become preoccupied with the power disparity.  As a result, many kids can’t wait to get out from underneath this power structure as soon as possible.  In the meantime, they will look for passive/aggressive ways to exert their own power.

As parents, it is time to reevaluate what it truly means to exercise godly authority.  This is not being permissive or domineering but rather being balanced as God is balanced.  He will help us learn to exercise our authority well and how to maintain a careful balance between truth and love.  God expects and equips us to exercise our power empathetically and judiciously, with the overarching goal of encouraging each member of the family to grow into the person He designed them to be.  Pray for the wisdom to be that kind of parent.

Bringing it home

God created families with a particular hierarchy in mind, and parents are at the top of that hierarchy.  For dictators, this is a comfortable position.  For rescuers afraid of disciplining their kids, it can be more difficult.  But a balance of bonding and boundaries is essential to being a godly authority that earns respect by treating his or her kids with respect.  A balanced parent sets boundaries, gives age-appropriate choices within those boundaries, and delivers consequences when kids stray.

Kids will sometimes assume the position of authority in a family when the parents cede power to them, either by making the children’s activities the most important events of each day or by failing to deliver consequences when they are deserved.  Take some time to reflect and pray about your responsibilities and priorities for your family.  Is family time sacred, or does it get sacrificed in order to get to the next practice, game, meeting, or event?  Do you eat dinner together often, or is life too hectic for that?

Do you lovingly discipline your children when they make poor choices, or are you afraid of their reaction?  What about the reaction of other parents?  Do you worry that you might be seen as a bad parent if your kids are not doing all the things the other kids are doing?  Or do you insist on first-time obedience and fail to consider that it’s important for your kids to know the reasons for asking them to do something?  Is your attitude “my way or the highway” where your kids’ thoughts, opinions, or reactions are ignored just to get things done?

Take heart!  God knows your struggles and your tendencies.  Ask for help, and wait to hear.  Spend some time with your Bible and look for God’s wisdom.  He will speak through the words on those pages.  Be empathetic and earn the respect of your kids through clear boundaries, consistent consequences, and a willingness to walk with them through the struggles of life.

 

Taken from Parenting by Design, copyright © 2014 by Chris and Michelle Groff, with Lee Long. Used with permission of Westbow Press, a division of Zondervan publishing. All rights reserved.


 

Create Identity Reminders

One should place high value on creating a work environment that speaks to your identity. Five stones are sitting on my desk as a reminder of what David used to fight Goliath. You will never have all the weapons you want, but God will use the ones you have.
Joel
“Building kings submitted to the King of Kings.”

Your mind responds to cues in the physical world with thoughts that become feelings that create physical sensations that motivate behavior. Committing to a location that expresses your desired internal feeling puts your interior experience in alignment with your exterior surroundings.

4 Ways to Make Sure Your Environment Reflects Your Identity

4 Ways to Make Sure Your Environment Reflects Your Identity

– BY MICHELE ROSENTHAL

Environment Reflects Your IdentityEvery six months Franny rearranges the furniture in her home. “Just moving the couch from one wall to another can change the whole feel of a room!” she exclaims. “The change in energy makes me more creative, invigorated, and ready to face any challenge.” Franny’s is just one example of how your environment reflects your identity.

A business major in college, Jeremy has trouble settling down to study. To help find focus he dresses in a suit and tie, places a copy of Investor’s Business Daily on his desk, and lights a cigar before opening a textbook. He says, “The smell of the smoke reminds me of my father working in his home office.”

]Look around your environment today. What does it say about how you see, feel, and think about yourself? Does it match who you are and announce that self with a sense of pride? Every week Justine adds some new, beautiful object to her home: an exotic flowering plant, a set of multicolored handblown iced tea glasses, a Swarovski crystal picture frame. She explains, “The world outside can be so harsh and ugly. By having things of beauty around my home, I create a world in which the presence of beauty, love, and joy dominates. Inside that space I know who I am, no matter what happens outside.”

What Franny, Jeremy, and Justine have intuitively activated is the tremendous impact of environment on sense of self. How you express who you are affects and can be affected by your experience of the world around you. On a cold and rainy day, for example, you feel different than you do on a warm and sunny one. In a tiny, cramped office with no windows, you feel different than in a large and spacious room with breathtaking views. Simply altering temperature, space, and light can change the way you feel, think, and behave. Long-lasting changes in these areas alter your identity, as they change not only your self-perception but also how you present and are defined by actions in the world at large.

While you live in the context of a global environment over which you don’t have complete control, your personal world offers abundant opportunities to assess—and choose to change—how your environment reflects and affects your personality. Consciously collaborating between yourself and your world further manifests the person you most wish to be. Four major factors have an impact on your identity-environment relationship:

Location. Your mind responds to cues in the physical world with thoughts that become feelings that create physical sensations that motivate behavior. Committing to a location that expresses your desired internal feeling puts your interior experience in alignment with your exterior surroundings.

Decoration. Personal spaces both define and can be defined by you. Identifying colors, designs, and spatial organizations that feel good allows you to express and respond in the physical world with things that resonate with and exemplify the nonvisible parts of yourself.

Energy. How you feel dramatically affects who you are. The better you feel—the more you inhabit your real, authentic self—the more you make choices and take actions in alignment with your inner vision. A creatively invigorating and rejuvenating environment increases your ability to achieve that self and its desires.

Expression. The more you behave in ways wholly aligned with the type of person you want to be, the more you become your ideal self. Choosing an environment that allows and inspires you to act and engage in ways congruent with who you are can be critical in accessing and unleashing the real you.

Look around your environment today. What does it say about how you see, feel, and think about yourself? Does it match who you are and announce that self with a sense of pride? Fully inhabiting your identity means purposely living according to individual values, plus expressing beliefs with confidence. Your environment can support this process by aligning internal and external experiences.

A simple place to begin practicing this is in your home. What actions need to be taken so that your home more precisely expresses who you wish to be?

No More Grudges for Joel: Move on!

No More Grudges for Joel:
Are you holding a grudge against anyone? If you had asked me this question last week, my answer would have been, NO. I’ve always considered myself to be one that quickly moves on once someone offends or tries to push my button. You see, my thoughts were it is easy to let stuff roll off your shoulder from people who are not in your inner circle. My wife and I were talking last night at the Dallas Stars game about the Dallas hockey fans holding a two-year grudge against a player for Anaheim. The fan explained the reason they booed this player, Mr. Corey Perry, was because of an incident two years ago in the playoffs. I laughed at how funny it is for fans to hold a grudge for so long. I’m reminded of an Andy Griffith episode about two families who were fighting so long that no one remembered why. They families were taught from birth to hold a grudge against the other family.

I realized that I’ve carried a grudge since 1998 against Reggie Miller. Who is Reggie Miller? Reggie Miller played professional basketball for the Indiana Pacers for nearly fifteen years. So, why would I have an issue with Reggie Miller? Did he steal my girlfriend? Did I lose a bet and cost me some money? No. I realize the reason I have not liked Reggie Miller is because of something he did in 1999. Reggie pushed off Michael Jordan to hit this last second shot and because I am a Michael Jordan fan, I have not liked Reggie since. Here is a link to the play that upset me,https://youtu.be/kbL5U3MUzWA. As you can see, Reggie pushed off which should have been a foul. I know it sounds crazy, but it is true. I’m not proud to admit it.

What about you? Are you holding a grudge against someone? A parent, ex-girlfriend, classmate, family member, neighbor, co-worker or spouse? Is it time to move on? Yes, I’ve learned that grudges prevent one from moving into their purpose. A grudge is like a 50lb bag on your back, you adjust to the weight, but it still causes damage to the body.

I challenge you to do what I have to do….move on. Forgive your Reggie Miller and move forward. I’m not saying Reggie didn’t push off, I’m saying- Michael moved on and so should I. When the dust settled, Michael and the Bulls won another championship. I guess it is time for me to let the offense go and live my life. When I think about it, my grudge only affected me since Reggie Miller did not do anything against me. I’ve held a little grudge for too many years and I must say, it is over.

Please join me in saying, “It is Over.”

Here is a quote regarding this topic.

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”
– Steve Maraboli

Regards,

Joel
The Kingmaker

How a Man Learns to Pray

How a Man Learns to Pray

The first step in becoming complete is to stop relying on our own resourcefulness and recognize our great need of a powerful God.
By John Yates

Most of us have not had models for what an authentic, manly prayer life looks like. Religious people—especially ministers—pray at church, and the prayers prayed in church are beautiful. But most of us find that sort of prayer does not come easily. Women seem to pray more easily than we do. They’re good at organizing prayer groups. They talk about prayer more easily. In fact, your wife may be the “initiator” in your home, the one who prays with the kids because it just seems to come more naturally to her. But who do we look to?

Not long ago my sons and I had the opportunity to spend a vacation together alone in the Rocky Mountains, After several days in a rustic cabin at 10,000 feet, where we had few modern conveniences, we moved to a friend’s condominium in one of the ski villages in central Colorado, where we actually had hot water and a television. During the few days we spent in these luxurious quarters, we watched some videos. We saw Apollo 13, Tombstone, The Shawshank Redemption, and The Shootist with John Wayne. Great men’s movies! But not once did I see a man praying in any of these films. Every once in a while, we see football players go down on one knee in the end zone and it looks like they’re praying, but this is not particularly inspirational for the rest of us.

Why Prayer is Foreign to Men

The truth is, as men, we’re given a double message. We hear sermons about it, and we hear stories about it. We read the Bible and see that all the great men and women were clearly people of prayer. History is full of examples of great men and women who prayed. But most of us haven’t known many men of prayer—and my personal opinion is, from years in seminary and in the ministry, that most professional Christian leaders truly struggle with prayer, too.

The bottom line: prayer is confusing, and foreign to the way many of us think and live. Why is that?

First, prayer isn’t objective. It’s hard to get your hands around prayer. It’s hard to know if you’re really praying or just thinking or if you’re getting it right.

Second, prayer can be frustrating. A friend of mine says that prayer is like trying to run a road race after a hurricane—everywhere you go, something seems to block your way! There are so many demands on our time, so many activities that seem important. When it comes to prayer, we have good intentions and may even start out all right. But then we get interrupted—the phone rings, or we remember something that we have to do right away. We say we’ll pray later. After enough of these put-offs we can feel guilty, or think that trying to pray is useless. Sooner or later, we wonder if we’re really cut out for prayer after all.

Third, it can be so hard to focus. For years I tried to pray in my car. I’d drive down the road, shut off the radio, and start trying to concentrate on praying. As often as not, I’d decide I needed a cup of coffee … or start thinking about something my wife, Susan, had said. Then I’d catch myself and begin to pray again . . . only to find myself thinking about a particular problem I was having with someone at church. After many years, I finally gave up trying to pray in the car.

Fourth, prayer is, in part, admitting our need for help—and here we step into a bind. Few men I know like to admit that they need help—even though we’re confronted every day with our inadequacies (which is particularly true if you have a family)! There’s so much we need to know that we don’t know. I saw a book the other day entitled What Men Understand About Women, and when I opened it up, every page was blank! I don’t know about you, but I have often felt that way—that I really don’t knowvery much about raising my children, relating to my wife, or exercising my responsibility as a husband and father. We want to be the best fathers we can be. We want to provide for our children. We want them to have good health, to get a good education, and to mature as men and women of faith, integrity, courage, compassion, and discipline. In the face of all these needs—if we stop to face them at all—we can begin to feel overwhelmed, if we’re not careful, by our inability to make a difference.

Realizing We Need God’s Help

Life is wonderfully complex—and challenging. Frankly, as your kids get older, you realize more and more how much you need God’s help to raise them and to guide them toward maturity. We don’t know nearly as much as we think we know. Perhaps your daughter is spending time with the wrong kind of friends. A young son may be sullen and refuse to respond. Another child is not studying—or not learning, anyway. In the meantime, you’re thinking about the importance of SAT scores, or about all the lessons your kids have to learn before they can make a good marriage. You can tell your child what’s right and how they have to live and even share with them the hard lessons you’ve learned. But a wise man realizes how very much he needs God’s help in the whole process of being a parent.

Many men I know are quietly despairing about their families. His relationship with his wife may be in trouble. A child may have a serious illness or disability, or may be in open rebellion. His parents may be getting older and struggling with bad health. He may be looking at years of college tuition or years of nursing home bills. He may have a sibling whom he has to bail out of trouble time and again. The point is that most of us have large challenges in our families.

Ironically, it is this sense of failure and great need—our sense of being overwhelmed by so much responsibility—that can actually be the starting point of a genuine intimacy with God in prayer.

One of the most encouraging things Jesus said comes from the only long sermon recorded in the Gospels, the one we call the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus begins with a radical statement: “How blest are those who know their need of God; the kingdom of Heaven is theirs” (Matthew 5:3, NEB). When I first read that, it gave me a great sense of relief—because if there is one thing I’m sure of, it’s my need of God. Jesus was saying, that is the starting place to becoming the man God wants me to become.

He talks in this sermon about the “blessed” man. He says there is a kind of relationship with God that, if we have it, we will be blessed, trusting God to give us what we need.

The word Jesus used that is translated “blessed” has several meanings. It meanshappy, good, satisfied, or approved by God. In other words, we men who have such a heavy sense of responsibility weighing upon us can find release from the internal pressure of holding on to the ultimate pressure to “make it all happen.” We can begin, instead, to relax and trust God for all that we and our families need.

No, the secret to peace, power, and security in life is not to become omnicompetent, or simply to study and work harder, or to be more and more responsible. Neither is it to be better organized, brighter, stronger, wealthier. Actually, the first step described by the Son of God in becoming complete and competent for the responsibilities we have is to stop relying on our own resourcefulness and recognize our great need of a powerful God! Literally, what Jesus said is, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.” In other words, those men who realize how small their personal resources are, and who turn to God out of this great sense of need, have taken the first step toward gaining all that they need to fulfill their responsibilities in life.

Learning to Pray Genuinely

A man who is going to grow in relationship to God, and meet his responsibilities, first needs to learn how to have genuine, intimate communion with God. This communion is the heart and soul of prayer. Power in prayer does not come from “getting it right”—that is, using the right technique, words, or system. It begins with the realization of just how inadequate we really are and that God is the only adequate One.

So if you think you’re not “cut out” for prayer, you’re in good company with the rest of us. All that is needed is you and your need!

My favorite story of prayer in the New Testament comes in the account of Peter trying to walk on water to meet the Lord. His prayer wasn’t eloquent or long or theologically deep. It was just real. When he started to sink, he yelled, “Lord, help me!”—and the Lord answered his cry. Peter knew his need.

On the one hand, prayer is based on a deep mystery. That mystery is how an eternal God can desire friendship and intimacy with willful men—like me. But on the other hand, prayer is simple: It is lifting up to God those areas of life where we are inadequate to do the job, seeking His help from the heart.

Taken from How a Man Prays for His Family by John Yates. Published by FamilyLife Publishing, a subsidiary of Campus Crusade for Christ. Copyright © 2004 FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

FamilyLife is a donor-supported ministry offering practical and biblical resources and events to help you build a godly marriage and family.

Balancing Work and Family

Somewhere between the deadlines and the to-do list, I’d forgotten the most important ministry God had entrusted to me: my family.

by Greg Leith

I slipped into his room late one evening as I arrived home from work so that I could give him a goodnight snuggle and a kiss, only to find him wide awake. “Hey Dad, it’s Wednesday!” my 12-year-old said. “Tonight was our date night, Dad! You forgot!”

Somewhere between the deadlines and the meetings and the to-do list, I’d forgotten the most important ministry God had entrusted to me: my family. It had also been weeks since my wife and I had a date together, and I knew things needed to change – and fast. Instead of focusing on work, I needed to focus on my family and let them know they were just as important as my work and my ministry.

We set out to meet our work goals and somehow in the midst of it all, we forget that waiting at home is that young boy wanting to play catch, that teenage girl who needs to talk about boys, or that spouse that needs to be treated with all the attention we used to give when we were dating. Why does it happen? How does it happen? How can you prevent it from happening to you?

Let me ask you this: if you and I were sitting at that Tim Hortons near your house discussing the state of our lives, could I ask you a pretty personal question? What is the real goal that you are striving for? Is it possible that the prize you’re pursuing for has edged out your precious family, or that spouse you were madly in love with during your courtship days? They need some of your best time, not just your leftover time.

Well, before the coffee gets cold and we both need to run, here are ten ideas to help you as you strive to balance your work and your family. Got a pen? Jot ’em down on your napkin.

1. Get your family together and craft a family mission statement. It’s just as important to be intentional as a family as it is in the workplace. We wanted our family to all be on the same page in terms of our life purposes and the principles that would govern our time together. Need a head start? Here’s our family mission statement:

Our family is going through life’s journey together, growing roots in Christ and wings for our mission, becoming equipped to make a difference in our world by learning to live like Jesus, for Jesus and in Jesus.

We’ve designed other elements of this mission statement into the shape of a house, with walls of laughter, doors of prayer and windows of other important character qualities.

2. Carve out time for your family each week…in advance. Put it on your calendar. Stop saying you have to get one more thing done before you leave for home. Plan your week with specific ending times and stick to them.

3. Jettison things from your schedule that aren’t important. March to the mission that Jesus called you to, not the mission that others want you to do for them. Be ruthless here!

4. If your work situation requires constant excessive hours to get the job done, it’s time to evaluate other ways to accomplish the task. You can’t accomplish the mission of the organization single-handedly, so stop trying! Pray for the Lord to send workers into your harvest field and then sit back and watch Him go to work. Pray for supernatural results from the time you do put into your day, then go home and be a minister in the other mission field God gave you…your family.

5. If you’re a leader of others, have them actually write into their job descriptions the need to be committed to their family and specific ways in which they will make this a priority.

6. Develop an activity together with your family as a whole, and/or with individual family members. Maybe it’s hiking, a date at Denny’s for breakfast on Saturday, or coffee and prayer with your spouse each day. As you do this, remember that teachable moments are almost like ‘intentional accidents’: they happen, but not always because you planned them. So be sure to plan large quantities of time with your family throughout the year so they’ll have a chance to occur.

7. Create a ‘spiritual life development plan’ for each of your kids, outlining their strengths, their areas for improvement and your plans to shape their character as they grow up under your care. Our children are arrows that are being released into a world that we will never fully see. It’s our job to shape them into arrows that will fly straight and travel the distance to the kingdom target that God has intended for them.

8. Schedule a date night of at least an hour once a week with each child and your spouse, where you focus solely on them. It doesn’t have to be expensive; time is the critical ingredient here. When our budget has been tight, I’ve had this time in my backyard with my son.

9. When you’re traveling, send an email or a postcard back to your family. Call them on the phone and pray with them, in addition to chatting.

10. At the end of a day, ask your kids and spouse these three questions: ‘What happened today that you’re proud of?’ ‘What happened today that you wish you could do over?’ ‘Where did you see God in your day today?’

If your spouse or children were to describe how your performance as a spouse and parent, what would they say? If you’re not happy with the words that are echoing around in your head, it’s time to make some changes. I love how Eugene Petersen puts it: “Exploit or abuse your family, and end up with a fistful of air” (Proverbs 11:29, The Message). When my work years have come to an end, I want to be holding more than air, don’t you?

“Hey Dad! I passed!” exclaimed my 15-year-old girl. You see, I’m writing this morning from the Department of Motor Vehicles waiting room, where I came with my daughter to get her driving permit. Some days you just can’t achieve balance, so lately I’ve been working on integration – aren’t laptops wonderful? As my daughter and I celebrated her passing the test with a big hug in the lobby, I was glad I’d decided the to-do list at work could wait. The memory of this morning with her will last forever.

Used by permission of FamilyLife Canada. Copyright 2003.

Real Men Are Warriors Who Protect

As a husband and father, you are the warrior who has been charged with the duty of pushing back against the evil that seeks to prey on your wife, daughters, and sons. If you don’t step up, who will?

It began as a shopping date with my daughter Laura, who was 13 at the time. I never dreamed it would end the way it did.

Laura decided that she wanted to go where her older brothers and sisters went to shop at the time—Abercrombie and Fitch. There she found a beautiful baby blue sweater, and she went to the dressing room to try it on. While I was waiting I noticed a life-sized poster of a young man completely nude, leaning up on a boat dock knee deep in water. The shot was from behind, but I had not asked to see that guy chilling in his birthday suit.

I stood there looking at that poster thinking that I thought this was a clothing store and how inappropriate that was for my daughter and other girls. Finally I asked if I could please talk with the manager. The young man, who couldn’t have been over 30, came over and I greeted him with a smile. I shared with him that I had six children and was a good customer; then I said very kindly, “This picture … I’m sorry, but it’s just indecent.”  I thought I’d get agreement.

Instead he quipped, “I beg to differ with you, sir. By whose standards?”

A little stunned by his response, I replied with measured firmness, “By any standard of real morality.”

By that time, Laura had wandered back with her sweater. I pointed to the picture of the chiseled, buff-buddy’s buns, looked the manager squarely in the eyes, and said, “Sir, if that picture is not indecent, then I’d like you to drop your pants and get in a similar pose to that guy in the picture.”

He looked at the picture, then my daughter, and back at me. He looked like a deer in the headlights. There was a moment of silence, full of anticipation. Then he shook his head and said, “Huh-uh.”

I probably shouldn’t have pressed the point, but I added, “Come on, you said that picture is not indecent. Come on, drop ’em.”

“Huh-uh.”

I smiled and said, “You know, it’s a good thing you didn’t drop your pants, because you could have been arrested for indecent exposure.”

Then he replied, “Well, if you think that’s bad, you should see our catalog.”

So I went over and opened the catalog. One photo showed four teenage girls in bed with a boy; I’m not sure what they were advertising—maybe bedsheets—because none of them had clothes on. I pushed the catalog back and said, “I’d like you to take my name and phone number. I’d like someone from your corporate office to give me a call.”

To which he politely said, “Sir, I can take your name and address but they’re not interested. They really don’t care what you think.”

My response was kind, but firm: “I just want you to know I’m just one customer. I’m just a daddy of six kids, but I’ve got a lot of friends. And I want you to know that wherever I go, I’m going to use this episode as an illustration of a company that doesn’t care about the future of our young people, their morality, or the future of our nation.”

I figure I’ve shared the story with about five million people on various radio broadcasts, speaking at conferences, and in writing.

The courage to protect

One of my favorite quotes, attributed to British politician Edmund Burke, is “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” When evil invades a man’s life and marriage, his children’s lives, his work, and his community, the easiest thing for him to do is nothing.

As a husband and father, you are the warrior who has been charged with the duty of pushing back against the evil that seeks to prey on your wife, daughters, and sons. If you don’t step up, who will?

When you think of protecting your family, perhaps the first things that come to mind are keeping your house locked, or holding on to your child’s hand on a crowded sidewalk, or investigating a strange sound downstairs in the middle of the night, or teaching your children about what to do if the house is on fire. But as I’ve looked at my responsibilities as protector at home, I’ve realized that they go further. For example:

I have established boundaries to protect my marriage. I’m doing battle for my marriage when I don’t meet with a woman by myself unless the door is open or there is a window so that others can observe. I do not have lunch with other women alone. I do not travel alone in a car with other women. I copy my wife, Barbara, on e-mails written to women, and I don’t have private conversations with women on social websites without her knowing. At the same time, I do battle for my marriage by helping Barbara with household chores, taking her on dates and getaways, and spoiling her with an occasional gift of her liking.

I protected my children by training them in the choices they would make. I organized weekend getaways with both sons in their early teens to discuss peer pressure, dating, sex, pornography, alcohol, and more stuff the culture was throwing at them. I continued these conversations with my sons through the years—we even talked about things like dealing with girls who pursue them sexually, and what to do if they see a fight breaking out at school. In addition, Barbara and I made a big effort to get to know our kids’ friends—especially once they reached junior high and peer pressure kicked into high gear. We wanted to be aware of the good influences and the potential bad ones.

I protected my daughters by dating them and, later, by interviewing their dates. On these dates I showed them how a young man was to take care of them, what they should expect from a guy, and how to deal with sexual overtures. I explained why it was important to dress modestly, and I did it at an early age before they experienced much peer pressure on the issue. I met with their dates and made it clear to each young man that I expected him to keep his hands off my daughter.

I protected my family by working with Barbara to set up boundaries about media. We set standards on the types of films and television programs we would watch. We made rules about when and where they could access the internet, and talked about how to protect their privacy and how to guard against sexual predators. If I was a father with children at home today, I’d also be setting boundaries on cell phones, texting, and video games, and I’d install porn filters on all computers.

A trained warrior also has battlefield vision that anticipates the future.  He scans the horizon and assesses dangers that are coming so that he can prepare for them.

And he realizes he is never off duty.

Warriors in the community and boardroom

Not only does America need warriors at home, but it also needs men willing to use their influence to protect their communities and even the nation.

Like my friend Scott Ford, former CEO of a large wireless phone network, who told me of the pressure he felt from stockholders who wanted to increase the company’s profits by putting pornography on the mobile phones they sell. Scott stood firm and many times stood alone.

Robert Rowling, whose holding company owns Omni Hotels, is another corporate warrior. He pulled all the pornography out of his hotels at a cost of more than $6 million, reasoning that if he didn’t want his sons to view that stuff, why should he make it possible for other men or their sons to stumble?

The Scriptures contain a simple admonition that men of all ages need to take to heart today: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Men, we are in the midst of a cosmic conflict of good versus evil. Wars are made up of battles, and battles demand a few good men who assume the responsibility of warriors and fight.

Many of you are not corporate leaders, but you may have the opportunity to step up in other ways. Perhaps it will be taking a stand against deceptive practices in the company where you work, or speaking out against sexual harassment, or talking with your child’s teacher if he or she shows an inappropriate film during class.

It takes courage for a man to step out and push back against evil. It will mean that you don’t go with the flow. You can’t fight every battle, but you can get involved when opportunities come your way.

When men don’t step up, the cost of doing nothing means that indecency, immorality, and other aberrant behaviors become the new norm in the culture. Our children and grandchildren will pay the ultimate price if we turn our heads. When men are not warriors, when men don’t push back against evil with good, the evil we were meant to conquer turns around and preys upon us and our descendants (see Isaiah 59:11-15).

In all these various engagements with the culture and others, real men are firm, but gracious. Having convictions does not give a man the license to be rude or pummel another person with his beliefs. Truth and love must be kept in proper tension with one another.

“Freaking” on the dance floor

I have one last admonition: Be ready! You never know when you will come face-to-face with an issue that demands courage and stepping up.

A number of years ago a couple of our teens attended a junior high dance. Barbara and I decided we’d drop in unexpectedly and check it out. As we entered the darkened dance floor we saw about 30 kids off in the darkest corner, doing a dance called “freaking.” Now if you haven’t seen this, trust me, it’s an imitation of intercourse, but with clothes on.

A handful of parents were huddled near a light in a corner watching, grousing and complaining about what they saw, but generally doing nothing.

I walked past the parents and went over and stood near the swaying crowd. I watched as two boys drew a young lady in between them. As I stood there deciding what to do, my palms grew clammy, sweating with anticipation. I thought, Here I am, a 45-year-old man, and I’m afraid of what a couple of pimple faced, 14-year-old boys think about me?

I finally concluded, What they’re doing is absolutely indecent. It’s ridiculous for me to cave in to fear!

So I stepped into the crowd of “freaking” dancers and tapped one of the young men on the shoulder. I smiled sternly and told him to knock it off. I challenged him to treat the young lady with dignity and respect.

He had a very blank look on his face. I could see him thinking, Whatever…

His response didn’t matter, because one small step had brought victory. Feeling more courageous, I approached another trio of gyrating teens and busted them up. I looked over my shoulder and a bunch of dads were now joining me.

Here’s the point, guys: God made us to pierce the darkness. He didn’t make us to fight every battle, but He did make us to stand for truth, to embrace standards. And when men don’t embrace beliefs they are paralyzed and neutralized by the culture. They won’t step forward and can’t step up because they don’t have the mandate of truth resonating in their souls. In the absence of real men pushing back against evil, the culture continues its downward spiral and becomes increasingly shameless and vulgar.

Do not be overcome by evil. Step up and kindly overcome evil with good.

Adapted by permission from Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood, Copyright © 2011 Dennis Rainey, FamilyLife Publishing.

FamilyLife is a donor-supported ministry offering practical and biblical resources and events to help you build a godly marriage and family.

20 Ideas for Dating Your Wife

20 Ideas for Dating Your Wife

Only you know how to best cultivate and guard the woman God has given you.
By Justin Buzzard

Men, you need to come up with your own ideas for how to date your wife. You know your wife better than anyone else. Only you know how to best cultivate and guard the woman God has given you. But, sometimes it helps to build off other people’s ideas in order to form your own … My prayer is that the power of the gospel would drive how you date your wife and implement these ideas.

1. Attend a wedding. Sit in the back row and spend the whole time whispering memories from your own wedding.

2. Make a list of ten things your wife loves to do. Each new time you take your wife on a date, do one of those ten things as your date.

3. Take up a new hobby with your wife; do something new that you’re both excited about.

4. Do the classic date: dinner and a show. Take your wife to din­ner and to a movie she wants to watch.

5. Take a twelve-month honeymoon with your wife. Relive your honeymoon by scheduling a 24-hour getaway for every month of this year. Each month go somewhere new with your wife.

6. Devote one hour each night for alone time with your wife. Talk about how your days went. Joke around with each other. Cultivate your friendship. Talk honestly about what’s going on in your lives. Help each other. Encourage each other. Pray together.

7. Mark your wife’s birthday, your wedding anniversary, and Mother’s Day on your calendar every year and plan to make those days special.

8. Write a love note to your wife. Tell her all over again what she means to you.

9. Spend an evening stargazing with your wife and talking about dreams you have for the future.

10. Spend an evening reminiscing with your wife about all you’ve been through together and all God has done and redeemed in your life together.

11.Devote the next month to studying a book of the Bible with your wife. Take twenty minutes several nights a week to read, discuss, and pray through a shorter book such as Ephesians or Philippians.12. Visit your roots. Visit where your wife grew up and where you grew up. Learn more about each other’s backgrounds.

13. Hold your wife’s hand often, in public and in private.14. Tell your wife that you love her.

15. Tell your wife that Jesus loves her more than you do.

16. Set a weekly date night. Each week rotate going out and stay­ing in for your date night.

17. Cancel work for the day and do something special with your wife.

18. Take dancing lessons with your wife.

19. Cut something from your schedule and use that time to date your wife.

20. Vacation with your wife without your kids, without your work, and without your cell phone and computer.

Adapted from Date Your Wife by Justin Buzzard, © 2012, pp. 133-139. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.

Junk Theology Article

Junk Theology: How Goddesses and Witchcraft are Invading the Church

by Linda Harvey
‘The God of the Bible locked in mortal combat for the souls of men with the goddess of revived paganism—…Few in the church and the popular culture realize the enormity of the revolution going on around us.’ 1

Peter Jones, Ph.D., Spirit Wars

It’s an ordinary Sunday, nothing to distinguish it from any other. You and your family walk into your chosen place of worship– perhaps an Episcopal church, or a United Methodist, or a Presbyterian, or Lutheran, or Roman Catholic. You sit in your usual pew, you glance around– and you notice something different. At first the changes are hard to identify. Then it hits you.

There are no crosses. None.

Instead, at the place of honor on the altar, is perhaps a tree, or a circle representing the earth and nature. Or, perhaps a statue, ethereal and abstract, of an unclothed woman, surely reaching to the sky, surely spiritual in pose, meant to represent a cosmic dream, a unifying principle.

In other words, a goddess. An idol.

What would be the response of most members of these churches? Would they feel vaguely uncomfortable, and leave? Or feel vaguely uncomfortable, but stay? How would you react? Would you accommodate this new expression of spirituality as being a natural outgrowth of a continuing quest for knowledge of the unknown? Or would you, knowing what is really going on here, take your family, rise and walk away from a place where Christ no longer is worshipped?

“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bringing on themselves swift destruction.”
(2 Peter 2:1 NKJV)

Among the false teaching predicted in Scripture is perhaps the single unifying heresy of our age — a pagan return to earth-centered religion, embodied in a “feminine expression” of deity. Goddess worship, even in its ultimate form–witchcraft–is now being openly,even proudly practiced in mainstream Christian denominations, in defiance of the foundations of the faith.

Could the scenario above become reality? We believe it can and will, unless informed, courageous, convicted Christians stand against the introduction of doctrinal error into mainline congregations. Will such brave stands be made?

The cause for alarm is the massive nature of the assault, which doesn’t end at the church door. The ultimate philosophy behind the global agendas of feminism, homosexuality, environmentalism, abortion rights, multiculturalism, and anti-“fundamentalism” has its roots, knowingly or not, in the new paganism. The political agendas reinforce the religious bias and vice versa. Concerned Christians need to understand what is happening to the culture as a whole. When even prominent members of the media are practicing witchcraft, it’s time to worry. More on this later.

An important book explaining the feminist spirituality movement and its ancient roots is Spirit Wars: Pagan Revival in Christian America by Peter Jones, Ph.D.(Main Entry Editions). Jones is a Harvard and Princeton trained professor of New Testament at Westminster Seminary in Escondido, California, and has written and lectured extensively on the spiritual basis of the current chaos in American and global culture.

Spirit Wars identifies a revived interest in Gnosticism, the pseudo-Christian teaching of the first and second centuries after Christ, as the foundation of current feminist rejection of traditional Christianity. At the root of this rejection is the same old rebellion as that of the Garden–merely embellished in the pompous rhetoric of radical feminist theological scholarship as well as in pop feminist teaching and literature.

The primary source of this rebellion is inside, not outside the Christian church. But because we are a culture that has been dominated by Judeo-Christian thought, the emergence of this as the predominant version of “Christianity” is also transforming the whole Western worldview into one that is pagan in orientation. Jones summarizes the conflict eloquently: “…Two religious faiths, and only two, battle for the spirit and the mind of the modern world…The present contest is between two powerful spiritualities: Christian theism/ God the Father, and pagan monism/ the Mother goddess.” 2

THE FALSE CHRIST OF THE RELIGIOUS LEFT

“The earth is a woman, and she rises. We all live in her,” chants a group of Catholic women who met several years back for a WomenChurch conference in Boston.3

A tenured professor of theology at Boston College, a self-declared lesbian witch, stands up at a major Bible conference in 1992 and says,”What’s all this biblical bulls–t?” She ischeered by the crowd of seminarians, ministers, and Bible scholars.4

And the speaker at the fourth Re-Imagining Conference in Minneapolis in 1996 invited the audience of several hundred Christian women, many of them ordained ministers or active in their churches, to bite into the apples available on their tables. “Let us bite into the apple in celebration, for we, like Eve, are created to know.” In a brazen mockery of the Fall, the women cooperatively devoured their fruit. The same conference featured a “goddess wall” with reproductions of 33 ancient and modern goddesses, among them Gaia, Mary (Jesus’ mother),the Babylonian Ishtar, and Diana.5 Let’s not forget–this was a Christian women’s conference.

The superficial, compromised Christianity accommodated for decades in mainline churches is the reason such foundational error is being tolerated. “Does the average Christian know what is going on in our ostensibly civilized society?” Peter Jones asks. “Pagan ideology, sometimes of the most radical and anti-Christian nature, is taught in university departments of religion, theological seminaries, mainline church agencies, feminist networks, and wicca covens across the land. It adopts the name of Christianity, but it will render our world unrecognizable.” 6

Before we delve into the ideas behind this rebellion, it is important to emphasize Jones’ point: that while this might seem on the surface to be merely a Christian church issue, it is actually the engine driving a massive global transformation in thought, from Judeo-Christian democratic principles to neo-pagan, power-based postmodernism. And, far from an evolving new concept, a “bridge to the 21st century,” this is a road mankind has traveled before, with disastrous results. Even the current pagan packaging has eerie similarities to ghosts of ancient civilizations.

Tolerance and peace are hardly part of the “new understandings” of our faith, but rather distortions and neuroses. When the crucifixion of Jesus is denounced as too bloody and a form of “child abuse,” as did Christian feminist speakers from the podium of the goddess-exhalting Re-Imagining Conference in 1993, it’s time to take a hard look at what’s behind all this and where it’s taking us.

THE FEMINIST CASE AGAINST THE BIBLE

The background for the revolution is a feminist rebellion against the so-called “patriarchy” of Genesis, subsequent biblical references to women, and the treatment of females down through church history. Are the critics totally off-base in some of their claims? No. Males have sought to twist scripture at times to suit their needs for ambition and dominance–and still do. That’s human nature.What is dreadfully wrong,however, is the reasons behind the criticism, the rebellion it reveals, and where these radical religious approaches would take the church if followed.

“At the beginning of the current women’s movement in religion, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, feminists pointed out how women often were completely excluded from the full practice of Judaism and Christianity,” says author Rita M. Gross.7 This seems like a statement with some validity. Later in the same book Gross destroys her credibility with radical, blasphemous ideas, including explaining the virtues of witchcraft. This is typical of feminist spirituality.

Yes, there have been some abuses of patriarchy in Christianity. Are they to be attributed to the canon of Scripture or to human sin? I don’t think a person who truly loves the Lord would see justification for abuse in the Bible. As one looks at where most of these feminists ultimately take the argument, there is such obvious rage behind their premises, and such extremism in the goals, that the real motivation becomes clear: payback, destruction, and empowerment no matter what the source of the power.

The feminist approach to Scripture begins with suspicion. A feminist reading of the Garden of Eden story sees not a caring parent but a jealous, possessive male deity whose objective was to place limits on humans, particularly Eve. After her disobedience (which was just a trick, anyway), this unjust God placed women in a position of subordinance that limits the expression of their gifts and puts them forever at the mercy of males.

As the narrative continues, the Hebrew patriarchs then refused to let their people worship any female deities, unlike neighboring cultures, all of whom had goddesses. These other cultures were more gentle and less warlike, the theory contends, and if worship today would retrieve those ancient matriarchal traditions and cast off oppressive and violent male religious dominance, society would evolve into a peaceful utopia where women would certainly be equal and perhaps even superior. The rigid black and white dualism of Christianity and Judaism– good and evil, sin and redemption– would be replaced with justice and “freedom” in a celebration of the human as being at one with all creation, as expressing only natural impulses (including sexuality in any form), and unfettered by the guilt of male-dominated belief systems.

One can recognize in this approach not only the philosophy of the religious left, but the underlying premise of all current liberal thought. This so-called human rights orientation is probably the primary source fueling the growing animosity to biblical Christianity. It is based on a shallow and self-focused reading of Scripture; false information about ancient history; a personal commitment to sensuality and self-indulgence no matter what the cost; a failure or deliberate unwillingness to differentiate between human failings and foundational biblical principles;and ignorance of or disregard for the results of paganism, which are seldom peaceful but ultimately tend toward violence.

Feminists develop these twisted premises in an avalanche of popular and scholarly books with titles like She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse; Goddesses in Everywoman; The Gospel According to Mary: A New Testament for Women; When God Was A Woman; Sexism and God-Talk; and The Rebirth of the Goddess. It is the unfortunate or uninformed person who is seduced into adopting what amounts to blasphemous beliefs, based on the pseudo-theology presented in such pages.

And the mass marketing of these ideas to women through popular media is omnipresent. The popularity of the book The Da Vinci Code attests to the willingness of the public to absorb silly notions like Jesus having married Mary Magdalene and fathering a child.8 An article featuring “The 25 Most Influential Working Mothers” appeared in an issue of Working Mother magazine recently. One of the honorees was Elaine Pagels, professor of religion at Princeton University. “Pagels is a towering force in the theological community and a beacon for women seeking a voice in the Church,” declared the article. “By exploring the suppression of women by early Church leaders, Pagels has raised the Christian community’s consciousness about sexism in organized religion.”9

Pagels is the author of such books as The Gnostic Gospelsand The Origin of Satan and is responsible for much of the modern acceptance of Gnosticism as a valid Christian view. No other woman representing the field of religion was mentioned in the article, once again demonstrating the exalted position the pagan viewpoint holds among our cultural communicators, and no conservative in any field was included among the twenty-five. Among other honorees were, predictably, Hillary Clinton and Rosie O’Donnell.

FEARLESS AND GODLESS

One of the most striking features of radical feminist Christianity is its outright repudiation of even the possibility of truth in the original biblical account. This is postmodernism at its finest, which simply makes up truth with no basis other than, “Because I want it this way.” For example, Rita M. Gross’ Feminism and Religion proceeds from the usual feminist theological assumption that God as presented in the Bible simply does not exist, and that “imposing” Him on the Jewish/Christian world was the triumph of a cruel patriarchy, not the work of an Almighty deity. Males in the non-Western world are much nicer, according to Gross. “Western monotheism is unique in its fear and denial of images of female divinity.” 10 (Emphasis added).

Fear is a key concept in the feminist spin on Judeo-Christian religion. Western men are supposedly afraid of the unfettered sexual expression of women (particularly lesbianism) so they have to contain femininity within certain boundaries, and they invented a male god to do so. It is no coincidence that many if not most of these feminist theologians are also lesbians. Not unlike other homosexual writings, there is an assumption that fear of something harmless (which homosexuality is presumed to be),rather than avoidance of something destructive, is at the base of biblical proscriptions against sexual perversion.

But it is not only women who are receptive to the reemergence of matriarchy/ pagan images in Christianity. More and more liberal men are arguing in defense of this same view. In a book called Fire in the Belly, author Sam Keen says, “Feminists who argue that goddess-worship historically preceded the notion of God as father are certainly correct.”11 Good and evil were not at the heart of the struggle in the Garden; it was matriarchy vs. patriarchy, he maintains. And the loss was freedom of sexual expression. The male-dominated God replaced sex with violence.12

REBELLION AND WITCHCRAFT

The amount and nature of the open rebellion against doctrine is being downplayed, even hidden, by the leaders of national congregations. The Re-Imagining Conferences have attracted many women and some men in church leadership but have been publicized little except among conservatives within church circles.

There has been acknowledgement among mainline Protestant denominations that the participation in conferences like Re-Imagining has affected donations– negatively. And there is an emerging countermovement to stand against radical feminism and other postmodern debates within the church. An organization called the Association for Church Renewal was formed with James Heidinger of Good News as president. Diane Knippers of the Institute on Religion and Democracy and Todd Whetzel of Episcopalians United are vice-chairs.13

Probably the most disturbing element is the emergence of the actual practice of witchcraft within the church.The unwary Christian woman today may be seduced into goddess worship as an interesting and attractive alternative to tradition. But she may quickly find herself involved in the outright practice of witchcraft without knowing it, because witchcraft is basically the ritual aspect of nature/goddess worship. Casting a circle, the drawing down of power, the importance of not breaking the circle–these are witchcraft rites designed to call on the demonic. They are usually not identified thus, because Satan’s existence is largely discounted by liberal theologians–another reason why there is no fear of dabbling in the unknown.

And witchcraft is beginning to be accepted rather casually in religious, even Christian circles. Certainly the media has little problem with it. Margot Adler, the New York Bureau chief for National Public Radio, and who is a frequent commentator on their shows like “All Things Considered,” is a practicing witch. No, we are not kidding.Adler is the author of Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-worshipers and Other Pagans in America Today (Beacon Press,1986), a very popular feminist book describing ritual and goddess worship–positively.

“Witchcraft is the wave of the future,” states Peter Jones firmly in Spirit Wars. He notes that at the 1993 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, witches were given official status.14 In Salem, Massachusetts, the local ecumenical group includes representatives of Protestant churches, Catholicism, a Jewish rabbi, and the high priest of the Rosarian Order of Wicca.15

IF WE DO NOTHING

If you as a Christian aren’t totally sure about this issue–why this feminist spirituality movement is deeply rebellious and ultimately destructive to the church — then a reading of Spirit Warsor one of Jones’other books is a must.(See his group’s web site at www.cwipp.org) All of the mainline denominations have conservative groups concerned about these issues. Get in touch with the group within your denomination and find out how you can become informed about their views and perhaps involved.

What happens if we do nothing? The face of the confessing Christian church is on a course of self-destruction unless we are willing to confront the change agents. Of course, the authentic church is in no danger of disappearing–that victory was won at the cross. But do we want to be marginalized to the point where genuine faith must go underground? One expert in the field of false faith believes that, not only could the form of the church change, but so could America.

Talk with fellow Christians, especially those who are undecided on this issue. We must stay informed about current issues, and remain strong in the faith. For real conviction, the best defense is Bible study and discussion groups combined with prayer.

Just to clarify, that’s prayer to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit–only.

———————————————————————-

Sources:

  1. Peter Jones, Spirit Wars: Pagan Revival in Christian America, 1997, Main Entry Editions,PO.Box 952, Siloam Springs, AR 72761, p. 251.
  2. Ibid, preface, page xii.
  3. “The Enemy Within,” Kathleen Howley, Catholic World Report,June 1996, p. 57.
  4. Spirit Wars, p. 183.
  5. “Re-Imagining Revisited,” by Diane Knippers, Good News, January/February 1997, p. 28.
  6. Spirit Wars, p. 35.
  7. Feminism & Religion, Rita M. Gross, Beacon Press, Boston, 1996, p.40.
  8. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown,Bantam Dell Publishing Group, 2003.
  9. “The 25 Most Influential Working Mothers,” Michaele Weissman, Working Mother, February 1997, p. 24.
  10. Feminism & Religion, p.169.
  11. As cited in The Goddess Revival, Aida Besancon Spencer et. al, Baker Books,1995, p. 45.
  12. Ibid, p. 46.
  13. Good News, January/February 1997, p.8.
  14. Spirit Wars, p. 147-148.
  15. Spirit Wars, p. 148.

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“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
John 17:3 NKJV

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:12 NKJV

“For day after day they seek me out; They seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God.”
Isaiah 58:2 NIV

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