To Do List on Men’s Retreat Weekend

My church‘s annual Men’s Retreat is taking place this weekend. It’s always amazing to me that about 300 men go on a retreat each year hoping to come back with a better view of God, themselves and their people.

For those of us who are married or have kids, Men’s Retreat weekend affords us some opportunities we may not have on a normal weekend.  If you are wondering what to do while the man is away, I’ve created this list of ideas, in no particular order:

1.  Take advantage of not having to prepare a “real” meal and let the kids choose from any cereal they want for dinner. Why should Dad be the “fun parent” all the time?

2.  Pray for your man to encounter God in a real and life-giving way.

3.  Stay up late “pinning” to your heart’s content with no guilt attached to the way you are using your late-night hours.

4.  Pray the speakers at the retreat will speak on behalf of God in a clear and loving way.

5.  Don’t be in such a hurry to do the dishes or picking up.  Wait till Sunday.  Heck…make the kids do ’em.

6.  Pray he will establish and build friendship with others that will influence him well and spur him on to love and good deeds.

7.  Have a few friends and their kids over, turn on a movie and order some pizza and enjoy the 95 degree heat with a low of 75.

8. Go to the beach.  {See #7}

9.  Thank God you have a man who even wants to go on a spiritual retreat.

10.  Swap kids with some friends so you each have a few free hours in the day tomorrow.

11. Come to church this weekend – come on Saturday for tacos and you won’t have to cook.

12.  Tell your kids how much your miss Daddy so they see your love for him.

13.  Resolve to be interested without asking him 5,000 questions when he gets home on Sunday.

14. Make sure you clear your calendar for the women’s retreat, February 15-17 , because you need to do something for the sake of YOUR soul.

15.  Pray for God to raise up some awesome, courageous, strong and gorgeous {I mean why not? Eph. 3:20} men for your single friends.

16.  Take up the whole space in the bed.  Sleep in the middle and stretch out.  Enjoy the space.

17.  Catch up on magazines, pick up a good book or watch Downton Abbey {It never gets old}.

18.  Buy something sexy to welcome him home on Sunday night after the kids go to bed.  Just sayin’.

19.  Read the book of Ephesians.  Especially chapter 5.

20.  Have your kids make him “welcome home cards.”

21.  Don’t complain about how tired and stressed out you were all weekend taking care of everyone and driving all over God’s country. Pretend it was a breeze but reiterate how much better it is when he is around.  He wants to come home to a wife, not a martyr.

Finally… use any quiet space you have to think and pray, asking God show you how to love, support, encourage, help and partner with your man in ways that speak to him.

“An excellent wife who can find?
    She is far more precious than jewels.
 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
    and he will have no lack of gain.
 She does him good, and not harm,
    all the days of her life.”

Do you look forward to a little time alone? 

What will you be doing?

Would you add anything to the list?

Confession…

Sometimes I wonder, was “she” really trusting God? Or could there have been a possibility she was delirious?

I know the answer… but seriously…

Haven’t you ever found yourself laughing when there was nothing you could do about all you have to do… or simply because of the circumstances you find yourself in?

Surprised by Hope

The word hope is an indication of waiting. 

It’s a waiting for our prayers to be answered.

For light to shine into the dark night of the soul.

It breathes the anticipation of the not yet but the soon to come.   

Hope gives us confidence in the future.

There really isn’t much more painful than the absence of hope. The Proverbs tells us that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

I am so honored to be guest posting on (In) Courage today about hope.

Surprise by Hope

She called me to ask if I had any idea why the church had sent them a check with the words “love gift” in the reference.

I informed her that someone must have had it on their heart to give them some money and did so through the church to remain anonymous.

She began to weep.

“You have no idea what this means.”

Click here to read the rest.


For the High School WOMEN

The following is what I shared the young women in our High School group tonight summarizing what I tried to teach them in a very brief but delightful three weeks:

Last week was hard for me because I felt pressured to sum up in one night what it means for you to be a woman of God by way of a definition. I ended up deviating away from what God has been writing on my heart for years. I have always hated any thing, any book, any Bible study, any idea that tells you that you need to be a certain way. To fit into a mold or a cookie cutter. To be like “that” woman over there, or “this” one here.

The truth is, God made you to be you and only you can be you.

God will take each of you on a journey that will be a different path than the person sitting next to you. If you begin to compare yours to hers, it will be far too tempting to fall into sin. Your journey will be full of triumph, trials, joy, suffering, heart ache, loss, indescribable love, great friendships, successes and failures. All of these things are and will continue to shape you into the woman God is making you to be.

What will make you a woman of God is for you to surrender all of it {again and again} and be willing to live as someone learning to follow Him. Pursue Christ as if He were your husband, as though you would want to know everything about Him. What would He think? How would He want you to be?  How would He treat the people in your life?  Desire what He thinks is best for your life now and for your future.

Don’t be consumed by the ever-tempting things this world that will offer you cheap gratification and significance. The short-term thrills of partying, the deceptive impression of love through sex outside of the bonds of marriage, the wasting away of time when none of us really knows how long we have on this earth.

Think critically about what type of man you want to married to and what kind of marriage you want to have and then pray that God would prepare you to be the woman who can walk into that. If you are hung up on this word submission, then let that fuel your prayers for a husband who will be a humble, gracious, gentle, and loving leader whom you will want to come alongside and trust to lead your family.

And until he comes along, pray that God will make every day useful, starting with today.

Don’t dwell on the question, “What is God’s will for my life.” Instead, ask God to fill you with His Spirit so you can walk in the steps He has laid out for you today.

Being a woman of God does not depend upon being older, being married or being a mother.

It is immeasurably due to your devotion to Jesus. Will you follow Him and make Him your LORD? Will you ever-so-imperfectly and only by the grace of our LORD Jesus and the Spirit that resides in you endeavor to love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength? Will you allow Him to be the lifter of your head and walk as His beloved and not let anyone take that away from you?

Dress as someone who Jesus loves and died for. Walk in the manner worthy of your calling to enter His Kingdom. Carry yourself as someone who is part of His royal court.

When faced with the question of “How far should I let this go,” consider the loving view of your Father in Heaven and what hopes and vision He has for you to enjoy the wonderful, mysterious, satisfying, sacredness of the marriage bed.

Have respect for yourself that Christ loves you so much He was willing to die so you could live. He died for you not just so you could go to Heaven when you die but also that you would have life to the fullest now… that you might have life abundantly now.

A real woman is one who recognizes without Christ she is nothing. She is empty and void of all this. And yet because of Christ and His invitation for you to join Him and His desire for you to belong to Him, to pursue Him and His priorities to contribute to the advancing of His Kingdom by loving, nurturing, helping, leading and bringing along those He puts in her path. Whether they are her own children, younger believers, the body of Christ, her own generation and the ones that follow her

She. Is. After. His. Purposes.

When you find it difficult to love God, remember that He loved you first. Remember all Jesus has done for you, the great sacrifice He made on Calvary, His willingness to go there because of His great love for you.  If you think on this and meditate on His word and allow Him to fulfill His desire to convince you of His love… your love for Him will increase and out of that love will come your obedience, your willing heart to do His will, to hate sin and love what He loves and gravitate towards the things He wants for you.

Go forth in Peace for Peace is with you.

The Greatness of God in Relationships

The theme for our women’s retreat in January is the Great is Our God. We chose this theme this year because of our conviction that as humans, we often lose sight of just how great God is, how powerful the Gospel of Christ is and it’s significance to our daily lives. I often wonder how I would approach many situations in my life or the relationships I have if I viewed them through the lens God’s greatness.  Lately, I’ve been inspired by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis E. Johnson’s book, Counsel from the Cross. Today I came across this as it relates to how we relate to others:

“When our relationships are built around the truths of the gospel – the truth that we are walking in light even though we are still sinners in need of cleansing by his blood – we can be free from feelings of inferiority and the demanding spirit that is born of pride. We can pursue relationships without fear of being discovered as the sinners we are.  This kind of open relationship rests solely on the realities of the gospel.  We are more sinful than we ever dared believe, and so is everyone we know.  Because of this, we won’t be surprised by other’s sins.  They won’t expect us to be sinless either, so we don’t have to give in to self-condemnation and fear when they see us as we really are. We don’t have to hide or pretend anymore.

The gospel also tells us that we are loved and welcomed without any merit on our part, so we can love and welcome others whose merits we can’t see.  We can remember the circumstances under which we have been forgiven, and we can forgive in the same way.  We don’t deserve relationship with the Trinity, but it has been given to us.  We can seek out relationships with others because we know that we have been sought out by him and that he is carrying us all on his shoulders.”

Do you have a relationship in which you need to apply this truth to?

When Does a Woman Become a Woman?

Last night, Drew Barrymore was David Letterman’s guest on The Late Show. I was getting a bit of work done so I wasn’t fully tuned in as she was discussing a recent spiritual journey she took to India. It sounded like she had a really interesting time. My interest piqued when at one point in the interview, she stated:

“I’m trying to become a woman.”

The lovely Ms. Barrymore did indeed grow up fast, she went through a lot of ups and downs that were very public. Yet, she was able to overcome a lot of adversity and reinvent herself. She’s had a very successful career, owns her own company, has had relationships with men and yet, she still feels she is missing something.

I’ve written about being a woman on this blog before, but I’d love to hear from you.

What do you think makes a woman a woman?

When does a girl become a woman?

Fearfully & Wonderfully Made

This is Part 3 of a series for Gender Week for the Idea Camp. Please see the previous posts for Parts 1 and 2. This week, the Idea Camp bloggers are writing about Gender. What does it mean to be a man or a woman?

Since the fall of man, the lens through which men and women are viewed has been skewed, to say the least. Prior to sacrificing and covering their shame, God warns them there would now be enmity between man and woman. Furthermore, her desire would now be to control her husband and he would desire to rule over her. (Genesis 3) This relational strife pitted between man and woman would be something to contend with for generations to come.

For years and years, men and women all over the world have struggled with shame, condemnation, oppression, depression, abuse, adultery, divorce, substance abuse, murder, suicide and many other maladies in part due to animosity between one another. Relationships have been destroyed, visions and dreams have been crushed, limits and glass ceilings have been put into place and broken through either appropriately or inappropriately, but none the less, we can all agree it has been difficult.

In Jesus, we have a Savior who has come to restore and redeem His Kingdom so men and women can view themselves and one another through the lens of Jesus and God the Creator of mankind. The way it was intended to be. Because of Him and the Spirit which gives us power, we have the ability to seek Truth, to understand God and each other.

A few years ago, I wanted to teach a class on Biblical womanhood. I searched through dozens of books and curriculum to find something I believed was truthful, biblical and within the scope of reality for the women in my church. I wanted them to see the truth of who God made them to be in a very tangible, attainable and applicable way. Every thing I found either viewed women solely through Genesis 3, put them in a cute little box making every woman feel like they needed to be cut out of the same mold, and basically didn’t leave much room for any diversity in lifestyle, personality, or calling. According to what was out there, we were either deceived, insubordinate, needing to understand more what it means to be gentle and quiet or we had to learn to put everything aside so the man if our life (assuming there was or would be one) could become the man God intended him to be.

This was difficult because we have many women in our community who are married, divorced, single, young, and older. We live in Los Angeles, so many work out of necessity or because they are called to careers in which God is moving greatly through them. So, I put aside every other book and decided to go with what always works… the Bible and wrote a case study called Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: A Field Guide for Women in the 21st Century.

If you read the stories of women in the Bible, you will find women who were imperfect, broken, noble, benevolent, giving, deceitful, naughty, and good. And those are just the ones God chose to use to advance His Kingdom.

Beginning with Eve ~ We see a woman God intended to complete her counterpart and work alongside him to fulfill God’s purpose for filling, ruling and subduing the earth.

Sarah ~ A woman who had to learn the hard way not to take matters into her own hands but to trust God… no matter how long it takes for Him to answer our prayers.

Rahab ~ Even a prostitute can be used to bring about His purposes before she even shuts down her business.

Ruth and Naomi ~ The value of friendship, loyalty and redemption for those who wait upon the Lord.

Deborah ~ When leaders aren’t leading and doing what they are supposed to do, God does indeed raise  up a woman to judge, make decisions and inspire the people to do what they are called to do.

Huldah ~ A prophetess in the time of King Josiah who warned of impending disaster and spoke on behalf of God regarding the Book of the Law.

Mary ~ God used a woman to bring about His Son. She was the first to hear of Him and the last to be there at the foot of the cross when He gave His life.

The Bleeding Woman ~ We need to reach for Jesus in our most desperate moments so we can see, He is all we need.

The Woman caught in adultery ~ There is no one who is without sin and when we look to Jesus, we can actually go and sin no more.

The Woman at the well ~ In our most sinful and broken places in life, Jesus knows all and loves us still and can restore women and use them to bring an entire community to Him.

Mary Magdalene ~ An outcast in society, overcome by 7 demons before she met Jesus and she was the first person He chose to reveal His resurrection to and the first person commanded by Him to”Go and tell…” (John 20).

Priscilla ~ Alongside her husband Aquilla demonstrates how a woman can gently instruct a man bringing truth and perspective that in turn benefits the body of Christ. (Acts 18).

Phoebe ~ A vital part of Paul’s ministry in Cencherea was Phoebe, a servant or deconess, whom he commends to the people of Rome to receive in a manner worthy of the saints. Many suggest she delivered the book of Romans and from her we learn that God entrusts His word to women.

The one thing all these women had in common was that in their defining moments, they responded to God first and as a result it effected the relationships and communities around them. They are but a few examples of how God uses the broken yet beautiful parts of us to bring healing, restoration and redemption to this Kingdom.  If we carefully study these God given examples, we know we can fix our eyes on Jesus and in response be women {and men} the way God intended us to be.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” ~ Psalm 139:14

How do you see your unique contribution as a man or a woman to God’s Kingdom?

Oh, Eve

This is part 2 in a blogging series on Gender for the Idea Camp.
For part 1, click here.

Dustin L. Boutwell, http://www.westendgallery.net

Enter Genesis Chapter 3. The Fall of Man and the hinge on which many arguments surround gender issues hang on.

It goes something like this: Satan tempted Eve with the same thing he tempts us with today.

More.

More of what doesn’t belong to us. More knowledge. More power. More credibility. More fame. She forgets what she’s been taught, she forgets the very Word of God and succumbs to his scheme. She is deceived. Not only does Eve fall, she brings her husband down with her and yet he should have been the very person to protect her, hold her accountable and remind her who she is and who God is.

Because of this great fall, chaos, confusion, difficulty, pain and enmity have plagued relationships, society and the world.

“Naked and unashamed” became “covered up and full of shame”

Yet God is faithful. He never has and never will allow anyone or anything thwart His plans for humanity.  It doesn’t come easily. God replaces their garments of fig leaves with a garment of sacrifice. A foreshadowing of what is to come in Jesus. He gives them a new calling, a new direction and sends them out of the garden to work, struggle and survive. But not without a promise of His faithfulness. Not without the promise of His sovereignty. Not without the promise of a future redemption.

Jesus.

Because of Jesus, we have been redeemed. Although due to present day context, we aren’t going to walk around naked, we can be unashamed. We can take hold of our uniqueness and be the woman God intended us to be.

The word redeemed by definition is “cleared by payment” or “to obtain the release or restoration of, as from captivity, by paying a ransom” or in theological terms, “to deliver from sin and its consequences by means of a sacrifice offered for the sinner.”

Because of Jesus, we have been cleared from the curse bestowed on Eve.

We have been released from the captivity of sin caused by the fall.

We have been restored to be the women who God intended us to be.

We have been delivered.

Today, many women struggle to walk in redemption and not in the fall. Though the effects of the fall are very real and still exist, we walk with our heads low as though we have a scarlet letter on our foreheads. We need to remember that Genesis begins in chapter one and not chapter three and yet we are still often confused.

What does it look like to you to walk in redemption?