LPL Ft. Lauderdale, FL Scholarship Tickets!

Hey Florida! This weekend Living Proof Live is coming to YOU!

We are returning to the city where it all started this week twenty years ago – Ft. Lauderdale! Have you ever had the chance to see Beth live? If the answer is no, here’s what you might expect at a Living Proof Live event…

  • Hear a unique message specifically prepared for your city.
  • Worship with Dove Award-winning worship leader Travis Cottrell.
  • Laugh, pray, and study scripture with thousands of women from all walks of life.
  • Leave with a renewed sense of calling, purpose, and love for Christ.

Sound good? This event is sold out, so we only have a handful of special scholarship tickets to share.  If you’re a first-time attender and you’d like to join us but can’t swing the cost, one of them has your name on it.  All you need to do is give Kimberly Meyer a call at our office and she will set you up: toll free 888-700-1999 (Not an 800 prefix.)

We sure love Jesus and His Word, and want you to fall more in love with Him, too! He is our great hope and joy. For more specifics about this weekend in Ft. Lauderdale, visit LifeWay.com here. We are praying that God’s presence would be powerful and undeniable this weekend.  There will be a group of ladies excited that you are in the room.  Come join us!

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LPL Seattle Recap!

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Sorting Through the Church’s Silence

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The choirs of outcries from Hollywood over the Harvey Weinstein scandal concerning crimes against women and those echoing globe-wide over the atrocities of USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar against children drop a question of epic proportions into the lap of the church:

Why are we who preach and teach “the truth will set you free” largely bound by silence regarding sexual assault and abuse?

Rachael Denhollander’s cogent courtroom testimony, masterfully articulating both the grace and justice of Jesus Christ, made her identification as a Christian beautifully clear. We were immensely proud to be her sisters and brothers and to stand with her in the public square. Then came the irony of discovering that her advocacy for sexual assault victims had cost Rachael her church. What’s more, most of us suspect her congregation wouldn’t have been the only one. What are we to do with this disparity? Why would followers of Jesus be among the least vocal and the slowest to respond when Christ, whom we are called to imitate, was a relentless defender of the powerless, misused, victimized and abused? In specific regard to children, why do we – activists in numerous other streams of concern – choose reserve about wrongs for which Jesus reserved a titanic threat?

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!” (Mt 18:6–7 NIV). 

A few of the most obvious reasons have been discussed and cussed in recent months. Protecting powerful people (which can include ourselves), institutions and systems from shame, accusation, desertion and defunding are a few major contributors. Throw alongside those a nobler rationalization: the preservation of the “greater good.” This, of course, is an absurdity since hiding abuse will ultimately and absolutely be the institution’s (and the person’s) undoing. God just really doesn’t let us get away with that kind of thing forever. He’s too faithful. Christ’s own theology of secrecy can be summed up in two simple words: secrets manifest. Thankfully, the assurance is true in regard to good secrets as well as bad. (Matt.6; Mark 4) The faster we uncover the toxic ones before God (Ps.32:5) and before proper authorities, the better. Lastly, what we’ve proved willing to overlook for political gain has rendered us mute lest our hypocrisy know no bounds and, although that matters to me, that’s not the fish I care to fry today. My purpose in this article is to throw another possible explanation on the table for consideration.

I wonder if much of our silence, our squirming and palpable discomfort, regarding the exposure of sexual abuses is wrapped up in our guilt, shame or brokenness over our own sexual sins. After all, who among us hasn’t committed sexual sin whether in imagination or action? I will leave room for perhaps three of you out there somewhere who are now officially excused from this discussion. Please go reward yourselves with a half gallon of Ben and Jerry’s which we ask you to consume in one sitting just to make the rest of us feel some level of comfort over your gluttony or go covet your coworker’s car or at the very least be visibly proud of your purity over all aforementioned transgressions so we can be consoled by your sinful pride. Maybe the rest of us could sit around here for a second and give this theory some mild consideration. Even if our sexual sins belong to our pasts and our lives bear fruit of true repentance, we may still have an enormous reluctance to bring sexual misconduct to light.

And for good reason. Take John 8, for instance, and the woman caught in the act of adultery dragged into the temple courts and Christ’s response to whether or not she should be stoned. “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Every accuser fell silent to the thuds of rocks dropping at their feet. Which of us has the right to throw a stone? None, of course. That’s the way of Jesus. That’s the way of grace.

The thought that it could be our own sins shamefully exposed is so horrifying that we’ve ripped off a piece of duct tape and slapped it across our mouths. Most of us have not only committed some form of sexual sin. We’ve also grappled at one point or another with some level of sexual dysfunction, however well we hid it or quickly we moved through it. The statistics on pornography alone testify to our skewed sexuality. We understandably feel guilty about pointing out such weaknesses in others and our sensitivity to hypocrisy is appropriate. We see the faces of the accused all over the media and imagine our own mugs between their crimson ears and the sordid reports of our own sinfulness in print instead of theirs.

But here are a few questions I’d like to pose: do all sexual sins call for the same response? Are we meant by God to respond to the sexually abusive the same way we respond to the sexually immoral? To be sure, all stones of condemnation drop to the dirt in the presence and perfection of Jesus, crucified for our sins and raised from the dead so we can walk in newness of life. His grace extends to all. His forgiveness is earned by none. All sexual sins have negative repercussions but all sexual sins don’t cause the same level of repercussions. Likewise, all predators are immoral but not all immorality is predatory. Do we walk away from an unrepentant rapist because we’ve all sinned sexually in one way or another or do we apprehend him? Do we ignore a church leader’s sexual harassment because we slept with people in college? Forgive me for being so direct but these things need sorting out.

If we are going to move to a place of healthy community in the church where there is thriving instead of conniving, where the sheep are protected instead of the wolves, where the abused find shelter instead of the abusers, we’re going to have to sort out our convoluted thinking about sexual misconduct.

It is imperative that we learn to differentiate between sexual immorality and sexual criminality.

Both are sin.

Both call for repentance.

Both require grace.

Both can be forgiven, slates wiped clean, by our merciful God though the cross of Christ.

Where church and ministry leaders are concerned, both also call for proper action. But one calls for a different proper action. It calls for the police. While all sexual sin is immoral, not all sexual sin is criminal. There is sexual sin in general. And there is sexual assault in particular. There must be a distinction drawn between the two.

Here’s the bottom line. The problem is enormous but it doesn’t have to stay that way. We’ve helped blow it up to its current size with our breathy silence. We won’t be able to eradicate sexual crimes – only the coming of Christ’s kingdom will accomplish that – but, by His grace, power, wisdom and courage we can lessen it in our own midsts by a landslide. We have victims of sexual assault, molestation and abuse all over the church – 1 in 4 females and 1 in 6 males – just as we do in virtually any community. We also likely have some predators and abusers in our congregations. So, do we quit going to church? No, unless we want to quit going to work, too, and to malls and social gatherings and sports events and concerts. Anywhere you have a crowd of people, you are among those who have abused and been abused.

So, what can we do? We address it head-on. We start making it well known – wisely and without witch-hunting histrionics – that the church is henceforth an unsafe hiding place for predators. It’s a great place for them to go forward and repent and turn themselves in, casting themselves on the grace of God with the rest of us but it must cease to be a safe harbor where they can hide and perpetuate their crimes. We need pastors and teachers who are willing to address these realities often enough to alter the silence culture.

I think numerous Christians genuinely just need to know it’s God’s will to expose such things. After all, love covers a multitude of sins. And, thank God, it does but love does not perpetuate victimization by covering for a victimizer. Love that uncovers one in order to cover another is by no means loving. We’re smarter than this. We can discern better than this. We know in our gut that covering up grievous wrongdoing because the individual is a fellow believer can’t be what 1 Peter 4:8 means.

Ephesians 5:11 says “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness but instead expose them.”

Ephesians 5:13 follows it up with these words: “But when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light.”

We don’t expose darkness darkly, with condemnation, hatred and vengeance. We expose darkness by the light of Jesus. Anything – absolutely anything – the light reveals, the light can also heal.

God alone knows the impact Rick and Kay Warren will have on churches all over the world because they were audacious enough last Sunday to address the topic of sexual abuse and assault from the platform in all their services. Kay courageously, shamelessly told her story, shared ramifications of the abuse and the road to healing and Rick preached on the themes from Scripture. I will long remember Rick’s address to his congregation. After nearly weeping with compassion over the hurt many had suffered and saying the simple but fitting words “I’m so sorry that happened to you,” he said this: “God has made me shepherd over this flock. I will do everything I can to make Saddleback Church a safe place for the sheep but it will not be a safe place for wolves. If you are a predator and you prey on my flock, I will hunt you down and I will turn you in.” He also invited abusers to the cross of Christ, to repentance and forgiveness, and prayed for them. It was not the abused that left church frightened that day. It was the unrepentant abusers and make no mistake. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Prov.9:10)

We need more than a handful of people to activate. We need church and ministry transformation. We need brothers and sisters who are brave enough to sort through their own sexual messiness, to repent where it’s called for, to be infused by the Holy Spirit to discern wisely and to distinguish accurately, to love healthily, comfort and protect valiantly and to help create an atmosphere where people thrive and healing really can take place. We need us all. We need all of Jesus.

I’ll end with this. A few days ago my morning Scripture reading included the first two chapters of Ruth. I was halted by Naomi’s statement of affirmation regarding the field of Boaz as a safe place for Ruth to work, even with many men close by (see Ruth 2:21). In Ruth 2:22, Naomi used these words: “It is good…lest in another field you be assaulted.” What the chapter conveyed about both Naomi and Boaz as alert, aware and proactive protectors was profound. Women, let’s be like Naomi, informed, smart, discerning, and like Ruth, willing to listen to sound counsel – not fear-mongering but sound counsel – about safe versus dangerous places. Men, take up the mantle of Boaz and see to it valiantly, wisely and shrewdly, that in your field, whatever and wherever it may be, no one gets assaulted. And, should anyone be harmed despite your watchfulness, you know what to do.

Do what is right.

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Invited: Update on Tonight’s Event!

An update from Beth on tonight’s event! As mentioned in previous posts, due to limited seating you must have a reservation to attend Invited. If you have a reservation, please fill out this form to let us know if you will be attending. Only “yes” replies are requested. Thank you for your help!

My beloved sisters, what crazy weather is this???? We know that you are all wondering about Invited. Needless to say, we have been extremely prayerful and I have been in close touch with the pastor of the church where we are scheduled to meet.

Here is where we are right now. God willing, I will be at that church at 7 o’clock to meet with only those who live in the closest possible proximity to the church and with dry, safe roads. Everyone else, please refrain, so that we do not put you at risk in any way. We love you so much and, not only will we see you next month if you desire to come, but we will pray for you tonight.

I am releasing both my staff and the worship team so I literally have no idea what our worship will look like for those of us who meet in that sanctuary tonight. But this I know: if we come and worship our God in Spirit and in truth and in the holy and gorgeous name of Jesus, God will be pleased with what we bring. Even if it is not pretty. Smiling. I think I forewarned you this was not going to be slick. I am wearing jeans and a sweatshirt and have no idea who else will be there but as authentically as we know how, those of us who meet will seek the Lord together and will seek him together for those unable to come tonight.

Please be extremely wise and go with this caution. Only those who live really close and can travel safe dry roads with no overpasses or bridges. If that is you and you still want to come, would you let us know please so that we will know whether or not to schedule security? It would help us tremendously if you would fill out this quick form and let us know if you will be there.

We love you dearly and want so much to serve you well.  Please check your email one more time around 6 o’clock to see if there has been any further change. If you do not have another email, we are still on under these restricted conditions. Dearest affections to you in the name of Jesus!

Beth

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Update about “Invited”!

Hey friends! Some of you may recall a previous post about a new women’s gathering we’re hosting monthly here in Houston called Invited. There’s been such great interest in it, and because of limited seating, we decided to open registration!

Book your seat here!

You can read the details about Invited in Beth’s original blog post here.

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Invited: a Worship and Prayer Gathering for Women

 

***UPDATE: Because there has been such great interest in Invited, and due to limited seating, we have decided to open registration! Book your seat here!

Hey girls! Lots of new and exciting things are stirring at Living Proof in 2018 and we are especially thrilled to share this one with you! Starting Wednesday evening, January 17th, we will be hosting a monthly ministry night for women who’d like to participate. I’ve longed for some local hands-on ministry where the Holy Spirit is invited to create an environment for effective, fervent prayer and for building up our faith in God and His Word. By His grace and goodness, this prayerful longing is resulting in a new once-a-month gathering we’re calling Invited. It will differ a bit from what I have the privilege and passion to do the rest of the time. If you’ve been to our other events like local Bible studies here in Houston and Living Proof Live events around the country, you know that our usual approach is a half hour of uninterrupted praise and worship followed by a 60-75 minute Bible lesson complete with points on the screen, Greek or Hebrew word definitions, quotes, commentary excerpts and concepts developed into what I always pray will be a comprehensive theme. This is my favorite method and will continue to be my absolute priority.

But I also have a deep yearning to be part of a night each month that creates more space for prayer. We are each and all in desperate need of  prayer and, for many of us who genuinely love God and His Word, it is our weakest muscle. We were promised that we would receive power when we received the Holy Spirit and, if we’re in Christ, indeed we have but often faith-filled prayer is what God uses to activate that supernatural unction in us. We aren’t meant to barely eek by. We’re meant to abound. Yes, we’ll always have difficulties and sufferings but we can still flourish in our faith and either see God move mountains or climb them to get a better view of Him.

I’m convinced based on the authority of God’s Word that He is still willing to perform miracles and, yes, often in our circumstances, but always in our hearts and, if we’re willing, also on the battlefield of our minds. Invited will be an atmosphere…

…where I can bring a word I’ve sought from God and prepared but one that is deliberately shorter, free of handouts, power point slides and minutely-detailed scripting.

…where prayer and worship and the Word of God are not as segmented as most of our services (and often appropriately so) but integrated more spontaneously throughout the gathering.

…where there won’t be any snacks. Or kids*, though we love them so. Or coffee, though we love it so. 🙂 Just a water fountain in the hall. And, I pray, Living Water in the sanctuary. (*I wish we could provide childcare but it’s just impossible to figure out for this kind of thing.)

It’s just bare bones. The kind of bones we pray God will raise back to life.

A mega sanctuary is a fabulous place for Bible study but not as conducive to the environment we’re hoping God will appoint for this event. Bayou City Fellowship, my home church, has welcomed us to hold Invited in their sanctuary and it will be the perfect size. We will move the event into our new Bayou City Fellowship Spring Branch location for the sake of inside-the-city-proximity as soon as it’s finished by Summer but we’re going to meet at our Cypress campus until then. You’ll find the address at the conclusion of this post.

If you’re familiar with the term “seeker-friendly,” I can’t necessarily tell you that Invited will be the best environment to spring on a lost loved one, neighbor or friend but she is certainly invited, especially if she is desperate for prayer. It will be a place where people will be free to go to their knees or their faces in prayer if God so leads and where we might be directed to turn to several people around us and pray for one another or for our city or for the lost or grieved or broken. You get the idea. This event will not be designed for spectators. This one is for participants but, as long as you’re willing to participate, you don’t have to have an iota of experience. If you’re brand new to this whole faith-thing and want to come, by all means, do! I just want you to have an idea what you’re walking into. 🙂 At Invited, our goal will be to seek the One who is ever-seeking us. It won’t be slick. It won’t be Tweety. Instagrammy. Or Snap Chatty. But I pray it will be real and worth somebody’s time. I long for it and, if you do, too, let’s see what God might do.

 

So, our first gathering is Wednesday, January 17th 7-8:30 PM. And we have included dates for the next six months below. Invited will always be in the middle of the month on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening. (FYI for BCF women, this will not replace RISE. It will be in addition to.) Thank you for letting me share this new (interdenominational and nondenominational) vision with you. At Invited, we’re going to be putting up our phones and raising up our empty hands and I, for one, can’t wait.  Here’s the address:

Bayou City Fellowship Cypress Campus

12715 Telge Road

Cypress, Texas 77429

January 17  |  February 13  |  March 13  |  April 17  |   May 15  |  June 12

 

You guys are wonderful. Please pray for this event even if it’s not possible to attend or not really up your alley. I’m deeply grateful for the privilege to serve you! Tons of love to you.

Beth

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SSMT 2017: Verse 24!

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Why consent isn’t all there is to it

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As demoralizing as it has been to see the continual surfacing of one public figure after another accused of sexual misconduct, harassment, abuse, assault and, in various cases, rape, it also comes with a sigh of relief to many exhaling the words, “It’s about time.” Most women and, tragically, even many teenage girls were already well acquainted with the depth and breadth of a problem that desperately needed to be publicly exposed. I do not claim in this article to speak for every woman or girl who has been abused, assaulted or harassed but I’d like, if I could, to speak from what I have experienced, seen. heard and learned, not only as a victim but also as a servant to women for 35 years.

I wish to make only one primary point in hopes that it will stick and to make it succinct enough for this article to be read in full. As solutions are being sought and these vital matters are being discussed, the word “consent” is, understandably and appropriately, the word in the forefront. The line to be drawn in the sand. While determining whether or not there has been consent may be enough for settling legalities and forming policies, it is unfortunately not enough to insure that an individual has not been victimized.

Countless women and girls (and boys) consent to sexual advances they do not welcome or want and that scar them for a lifetime. Or sometimes they consent to one thing and get something completely and disturbingly different. They do so for the same reason I did. They feel enormously pressured, extremely unprotected, overpowered and, at times, utterly powerless. I well remember feeling something akin to paralysis. The word “no” was not even in my vocabulary. The boundaries around my life were bulldozed early and by a bully, I might add, because, while not all bullies are sexual predators, all sexual predators are, in one way or another, bullies. There was no manual within my reach about how to rebuild those crumbled boundaries.

I did, however, learn as God raised me up in strength and dignity and restored me. He accomplished these works through making me a student of His Word and of His gracious ways and through godly counsel and by making me a woman of fiery faith and ferocious prayer and confidence in Christ. All of these are unabashed graces of God and to His glory alone. Part of my work has been to help facilitate that process for others and it remains one of the greatest privileges of my life.

And here is one of the most important concepts I can teach them: YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO SAY NO TO UNWANTED SEXUAL ADVANCES. EXERCISE IT. Not a meek little whispery wispy “uh uh” but a full volume, confident, steel-strong “NO.” It’s not too late, no matter how old you are.

Parents, your part here is titanic. As you raise your children and teach them about the boundaries they get to draw around their lives, train them up with the confidence to use one of the most vital words in their entire vocabulary. And also teach them about how we can feel so pressured and overpowered, we feel like we can’t say no and how we can muster up the courage to get that reluctant term to bounce out of our mouths. This part is really really important: if and when you learn that harmful sexual advances were made on your child or loved one then come to find out there was “consent,” do not automatically assume consent is synonymous with welcome. Whatever you do, do not shame them. Help them. There won’t be a do-over on your initial reactions to their detrimental sexual experience. It will be hard for them to talk about so try to read what they are telling you by their behaviors and create a safe environment for them to communicate. Believe them as they slowly open up to you about what happened and show compassion and strength and facilitate whatever further help they may need. If there was legitimate welcome and consent, for crying out loud, still love your child and work through the complications. Don’t withhold physical affection from them like they’ve become a pariah unless they, for a while, don’t want you to touch them. Assure them over and over how loved and valued they are and teach them the life-giving concept of grace. You’re the adult. Don’t make your child parent you.

I wish tools like understanding (and expecting) pressures to give consent and like learning how to exercise the right to say no would solve everything. While these tools can have a strong impact in situations of harassment and less forceful unwanted sexual advances, they are often little to no help in a rape or assault. If you or someone you love suffer (or have suffered) such a torrential crime, please know there is help out there. There is healing to be had in Christ and much esteem, dignity and strength to be regained in Him.  Boundaries can indeed be rebuilt around your life healthily that do not become a prison to your heart, perpetuating your pain and isolation.

I’ll conclude with this. Five minutes of stunningly selfish sexual pleasure can cost a victim a lifetime of suffering. Little can be more demoralizing and infuriating than the shoulder shrugging of victimizers and their sympathizers. “It wasn’t that bad.” Sometimes all we who have been victimized have left to say are the words of Christ from the cross. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And sometimes that can be enough because, make no mistake. Nothing is more empowering than calling wrongdoing wrong, calling yourself loved of God and valued and, by the power invested in you as His child, forgiving those who don’t have a clue how much they hurt you.

Let’s keep this truth ever before us in these days of ever-surfacing evil: God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. God has no dark side.

 

 

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LPM Holiday Gift Guide!

Hi friends! This Christmas, we’ve put together something extra special for you! 

We’ve rounded up some of the LPM staff’s favorite resources and compiled a fun holiday gift guide – perfect for finding the right bit of encouragement for each of your people…

 

1. For the adventure-seeker: The Quest

2. And for the TEEN adventure-seeker (NEW!): The Quest for Teen Girls

3. For the fiction-lover: The Undoing of Saint Silvanus

4. For the commuter: Digital Downloads for an on-the-go message

5. For the one who wants to ramp up their effectiveness: Entrusted Bible Study

6. For the one who wants to grow their faith: Believing God

7. For the one who REALLY loves Christmas: A Christmas Collection

8. For the one who needs a daily reminder of God’s love: Twitter Talk Flip Calendar

9. For the one in a hard place: Get Out of that Pit

10. For moms of all ages: Feathers from my Nest

11. For the one new to life in Christ: Jesus the One and Only

12. For YOU! Free Downloads 

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The Quest For Teen Girls!

Here’s something fun we got at the ministry today in case it can help with Christmas shopping! Don’t panic if you have to leave a message. Let us know how to reach you, and we’ll call you back! 1-888-700-1999

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