(this was an address to our men at a men’s dinner)
Feb. 27 2014
INTRODUCTION – Based on 20 years and two months of prayer, watching and observation of what God is doing and trying to listen to what He is saying to and about our region; and what He is saying about what He wants to do in our region – – I believe we are on the precipice of a very significant move of God in this coastal area, and on the Central Coast. You and I could have the privilege in the not too distant future of being a part of something we have never seen in the history of this region.
I say “could have the privilege” because it is not guaranteed. And one of the things that could hinder some of us men from being in the forefront of what He is planning to do is our attitude towards and treatment of women.
Jesus Christ said, “I will build My Church and the gates of hell will not stand against it”. And one of the reasons Satan and his demons will be powerless to defeat us or stand against us is because we will have allowed King Jesus to make us just like Him in the way we think and feel towards women, and thus in the way we treat women in our lives – whether they be our wives, our mothers, our daughters, our co-workers, our neighbors, etc.
Have you ever taken a good look at how Jesus related to women? Well in the gospel of John – you are probably aware that the very first miracle He did was turning a ton of water into a ton of wine at a wedding. But what I find interesting about that story is how quickly in vs. 1 Jesus’s mother is introduced as a major player in the story. “On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there;…” The couple getting married are never introduced because that’s not what John was after. You see it was Mary – Jesus’s mother – that noticed the wine had run out. And it was her that immediately ran to Jesus and informed him of this situation – knowing He could fix it. Now a lot of people are thrown at His response to her, which seems a bit curt, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” (vs. 4). But do you know that is the same way He addressed her when He was dying on the cross, and He saw His mother and John standing nearby, “Woman, behold, your son!” This was not curt. It was just a normal way of greeting women in ancient Jewish culture. There was no disrespect whatsoever in His response to her- rather a heart bleeding with compassion and care for her. Back to the wedding – Now He did convey that the timing was not right. But His mother wasn’t a bit offended or hurt, and instead told the servants to be ready to do whatever He said. And soon after that Jesus kicked into action and solved the crisis. Remember the day some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus criticizing His disciples because they did not “wash their hands when they eat bread”. Jesus lit into them because they were so consumed with their stupid hand washings and rituals, but were totally neglecting to honor their Father and Mother, which has been clearly commanded repeatedly in the Old Testament.
Whether John 8:1-11 was truly supposed to be in the Bible or not, Jesus’s dealings with that adulterous woman were very consistent with how He related to women at every other point – – including how He related to the immoral Samaritan woman in John ch. 4. Other religious men condemned them and wanted nothing to do with them. But Jesus’s interactions with these women marked them for life. Truth for sure flowed out of His lips with both of them. But an equal amount of grace did as well. They were convicted, but never condemned – never disrespected or looked down upon by Jesus.
I know you brothers are aware that the 12 disciples followed Jesus everywhere He went. But are you aware that so did a group of women? Listen to Luke 8:1-3 “Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.”
Jesus Christ was constantly around women, and yet not once did He in any way with any woman think towards her or treat her with disrespect or dishonor. And can I say here that in Jesus’s day – there were probably many women who were immoral, uncontrolled gossips, maligners and slanderers, and naggers, and some who were consumed with self, backbiters…. In 33 years Jesus had to have been affected to some degree by such women. I mean the level of spiritual maturity had to be at an all time low by the time He hit the scene.
So when Paul instructed Timothy in his two letters to him for how he was to help establish the churches under his care – – one of the things he was very concerned about is how Timothy himself related to women. Thus in I Timothy 5:2 he commanded him to relate to “older women as mothers” and to the “younger women as sisters, in all purity.” No amount of gifting or devotion or sacrifice will replace or cover over how we relate to women. The integrity and fruitfulness of our ministries will depend largely on how we relate to women.
Peter in his first letter to all those disciples and congregations scattered throughout Asia and beyond – – wanted to make sure especially husbands knew that no matter how great their devotion or sacrifice or biblical knowledge was – – if they did not “live with their wives in an understanding way…. And show them honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, ….their prayers would be hindered.” I Peter 3:7
And brothers there is no effective Christian life, much less effective marriage – – without an effective prayer life.
So now that you are possibly feeling pretty beaten up and maybe even hopeless, let me tell you a little story.
I had my first girl friend in first grade, and rarely ever was without one until I moved to San Jose from Knoxville, TN at almost age 20. Pretty much all of those relationships – maybe 10 or more were infatuation, lust, sexual based relationships highly influenced by the steady diet of pornography I had – also from a very early age – – throughout most of those years. You see my friend Todd lived in a huge house with only his alcoholic mother, who was always drunk upstairs and we had the whole downstairs to ourselves where either magazines of girls or actual girls were present with us. My friends – Rusty and Dusty – had a corrupt cop for a dad – who left a variety of pornographic magazines lying around the house, which he was rarely home in…which we often availed ourselves of. My friend Greg, lived with his divorced dad, who was often not home and left playboys lying around. And I could tell you about several other friends like these.
I grew up watching every Elvis Presley and James Bond movie that ever came out thanks to my dad loving to watch them and allowing us to watch them with him, or just because I always had some money and lots of freedom to go to a movie with my friends when I wanted to. We managed from time to time to see much worse movies.
That explains a little bit of my lust issues, but what about my anger issues towards women? Well besides the fact I was born in sin, and the enemy of my soul hates women, and loves to impart that hatred to men, I had a neighbor lady when I grew up – whose daughter would often try to play with all us boys in the neighborhood, and she was a very mischievous manipulative lying little girl. We weren’t perfect by any stretch. But often she would do and say wicked things, and if we reacted in any way, she would run home crying, tell her mother a bunch of lies, and every single time – her mother would call my mother and blame me for whatever happened. And my mother most of the time would believe her and punish me accordingly.
One time in middle school we were on a field trip in one of those yellow school buses. Back then they allowed us to drink coke bottles on the bus. Two of my female schoolmates were sitting in the seat in front of me. They dared me as they noticed I finished my coke to throw the bottle out the window. We were out in the countryside and there was only fields along the side of the road, so I threw the bottle out the window. It landed in a field. No one noticed. It didn’t hurt anything. But these two girls told on me and got me suspended from school.
I could go on and on with memories of negative experiences with women like these. So when I moved out to San Jose on my own, and got involved in the Navigator ministry there, and a local church, and a guy began discipling me, and I began to take seriously the call of God on my life, do you think Jesus had some concerns about the way I felt about and related to women? You bet ya!
Is He still pruning away at the dross or flesh in my life having to do with how I think and feel towards women, and how I relate to them? You betcha!
Brothers, if you will allow God – the great vine dresser and pruner and Healer to clean you up in this area of life – – there is no limit to how He can and will use you in the coming months and years.
So to expedite that process, I want to share a few things that have helped me cooperate more with God in this journey, and then I want to pray for you.
First, if you haven’t already memorized I John 1:9 – I want to suggest that you do that – – and then every time one of these memories comes to your mind – – memories of times when you have been wronged by women, or when you have wronged women – – every time – ask God to cleanse you by the wonderful powerful blood of Jesus. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity.” Cleansing is not automatic. We have to clearly identify the sin and intentionally confess it to God as sin – – and because He has so many times invited us to ask Him for anything, and He will grant it if it is according to His will, He will more than gladly do a deep cleansing work in our lives. Let’s don’t stop at or be content with just forgiveness. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to fully and completely cleanse us of this stuff.
Second, ask the Holy Spirit to help you as you read and meditate on scripture to read and meditate on them increasingly through the lens of women in your life – especially wives, daughters, mothers and sisters, or even ex -wives. For instance, if I’m reading Colossians 3:12,13 “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” I want to allow the Holy Spirit to help me see how I can obey this passage with these women and any others for that matter.
Third, when necessary and appropriate – confess your sins in this arena to a trusted brother or two and ask them to pray with and/or for you. James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.”
Not too long ago my 26 yr. old son and I were riding in my car somewhere together, and I tried to help him see how the men in our clan have rather sloppily and therefore sinfully treated the women in our clan for generations – – just taking them for granted, and not honoring them and serving them – – and we both owned it, confessed it and prayed against it. My clan still has a long ways to go, but I know Jesus Christ is very good and very persistent in what He does.
OK – speaking of prayer – allow me to pray for you.