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A Letter to My Brothers

Dear Brothers in Christ,

A few years ago I told my friend, Ed Stetzer, that, whenever he hears the news that I’m on my deathbed, he’s to elbow his way through my family members to interview me about what it’s been like to be a female leader in the conservative Evangelical world. He responded, “Why can’t we do it before then?”

“Because you know good and well what will happen,” I answered. “I’ll get fried like a chicken.” After recent events following on the heels of a harrowing eighteen months, I’ve decided fried chicken doesn’t sound so bad.

I have been a professing Evangelical for decades and, at least in my sliver of that world, a conservative one. I was a cradle role Southern Baptist by denomination with an interdenominational ministry. I walked the aisle to receive Christ as my Savior at 9 years old in an SBC church and exactly nine years later walked the aisle in another SBC church to surrender to a vocational calling. Being a woman called to leadership within and simultaneously beyond those walls was complicated to say the least but I worked within the system. After all, I had no personal aspirations to preach nor was it my aim to teach men. If men showed up in my class, I did not throw them out. I taught. But my unwavering passion was to teach and to serve women.

I lack adequate words for my gratitude to God for the pastors and male staff members in my local churches for six decades who have shown me such love, support, grace, respect, opportunity and often out right favor. They alongside key leaders at LifeWay and numerous brothers elsewhere have no place in a larger picture I’m about to paint for you. They have brought me joy and kept me from derailing into cynicism and chronic discouragement amid the more challenging dynamics.

As a woman leader in the conservative Evangelical world, I learned early to show constant pronounced deference – not just proper respect which I was glad to show – to male leaders and, when placed in situations to serve alongside them, to do so apologetically. I issued disclaimers ad nauseam. I wore flats instead of heels when I knew I’d be serving alongside a man of shorter stature so I wouldn’t be taller than he. I’ve ridden elevators in hotels packed with fellow leaders who were serving at the same event and not been spoken to and, even more awkwardly, in the same vehicles where I was never acknowledged. I’ve been in team meetings where I was either ignored or made fun of, the latter of which I was expected to understand was all in good fun. I am a laugher. I can take jokes and make jokes. I know good fun when I’m having it and I also know when I’m being dismissed and ridiculed. I was the elephant in the room with a skirt on. I’ve been talked down to by male seminary students and held my tongue when I wanted to say, “Brother, I was getting up before dawn to pray and to pore over the Scriptures when you were still in your pull ups.”

Some will inevitably argue that the disrespect was not over gender but over my lack of formal education but that, too, largely goes back to issues of gender. Where was a woman in my generation and denomination to get seminary training to actually teach the Scriptures? I hoped it would be an avenue for me and applied and was accepted to Southwestern Seminary in 1988. After a short time of making the trek across Houston while my kids were in school, of reading the environment and coming to the realization of what my opportunities would and would not be, I took a different route. I turned to doctrine classes and tutors, read stacks of books and did my best to learn how to use commentaries and other Bible research tools. My road was messy but it was the only reasonable avenue open to me.

Anyone out in the public eye gets pelted with criticism. It’s to be expected, especially in our social media culture, and those who can’t stand the heat need to get out of the kitchen. What is relevant to this discussion is that, several years ago when I got publically maligned for being a false teacher by a segment of hyper-fundamentalists based on snippets taken out of context and tied together, I inquired whether or not they’d researched any of my Bible studies to reach those conclusions over my doctrine, especially the studies in recent years. The answer was no. Why? They refused to study what a woman had taught. Meanwhile no few emails circulated calling pastors to disallow their women to do my “heretical” studies. Exhausting. God was and is and will always be faithful. He is sovereign and all is grace. He can put us out there and pull us back as He pleases. Ours is to keep our heads down and seek Him earnestly and serve Him humbly

I have accepted these kinds of challenges for all of these years because they were simply part of it and because opposition and difficulties are norms for servants of Christ. I’ve accepted them because I love Jesus with my whole heart and will serve Him to the death. God has worked all the challenges for good as He promises us He will and, even amid the frustrations and turmoil, I would not trade lives with a soul on earth. Even criticism, as much as we all hate it, is used by God to bring correction, endurance and humility and to curb our deadly addictions to the approval of man.

I accepted the peculiarities accompanying female leadership in a conservative Christian world because I chose to believe that, whether or not some of the actions and attitudes seemed godly to me, they were rooted in deep convictions based on passages from 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 14.

Then early October 2016 surfaced attitudes among some key Christian leaders that smacked of misogyny, objectification and astonishing disesteem of women and it spread like wildfire. It was just the beginning. I came face to face with one of the most demoralizing realizations of my adult life: Scripture was not the reason for the colossal disregard and disrespect of women among many of these men. It was only the excuse. Sin was the reason. Ungodliness.

This is where I cry foul and not for my own sake. Most of my life is behind me. I do so for sake of my gender, for the sake of our sisters in Christ and for the sake of other female leaders who will be faced with similar challenges. I do so for the sake of my brothers because Christlikeness is at stake and many of you are in positions to foster Christlikeness in your sons and in the men under your influence. The dignity with which Christ treated women in the Gospels is fiercely beautiful and it was not conditional upon their understanding their place.

About a year ago I had an opportunity to meet a theologian I’d long respected. I’d read virtually every book he’d written. I’d looked so forward to getting to share a meal with him and talk theology. The instant I met him, he looked me up and down, smiled approvingly and said, “You are better looking than _________________________________.” He didn’t leave it blank. He filled it in with the name of another woman Bible teacher.

These examples may seem fairly benign in light of recent scandals of sexual abuse and assault coming to light but the attitudes are growing from the same dangerously malignant root. Many women have experienced horrific abuses within the power structures of our Christian world. Being any part of shaping misogynistic attitudes, whether or not they result in criminal behaviors, is sinful and harmful and produces terrible fruit. It also paints us continually as weak-willed women and seductresses. I think I can speak for many of us when I say we are neither interested in reducing or seducing our brothers.

The irony is that many of the men who will give consideration to my concerns do not possess a whit of the misogyny coming under the spotlight. For all the times you’ve spoken up on our behalf and for the compassion you’ve shown in response to “Me too,” please know you have won our love and gratitude and respect.

John Bisagno, my pastor for almost thirty years, regularly said these words: “I have most often seen that, when the people of God are presented with the facts, they do the right thing.” I was raised in ministry under his optimism and, despite many challenges, have not yet recovered from it. For this reason I write this letter with hope.

I’m asking for your increased awareness of some of the skewed attitudes many of your sisters encounter. Many churches quick to teach submission are often slow to point out that women were also among the followers of Christ (Luke 8), that the first recorded word out of His resurrected mouth was “woman” (John 20:15) and that same woman was the first evangelist. Many churches wholly devoted to teaching the household codes are slow to also point out the numerous women with whom the Apostle Paul served and for whom he possessed obvious esteem. We are fully capable of grappling with the tension the two spectrums create and we must if we’re truly devoted to the whole counsel of God’s Word.

Finally, I’m asking that you would simply have no tolerance for misogyny and dismissiveness toward women in your spheres of influence. I’m asking for your deliberate and clearly conveyed influence toward the imitation of Christ in His attitude and actions toward women. I’m also asking for forgiveness both from my sisters and my brothers. My acquiescence and silence made me complicit in perpetuating an atmosphere in which a damaging relational dynamic has flourished. I want to be a good sister to both genders. Every paragraph in this letter is toward that goal.

I am grateful for the privilege to be heard. I long for the day – have asked for the day – when we can sit in roundtable discussions to consider ways we might best serve and glorify Christ as the family of God, deeply committed to the authority of the Word of God and to the imitation of Christ. I am honored to call many of you friends and deeply thankful to you for your devotion to Christ. I see Him so often in many of you.

In His great name,

Beth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LPL San Diego Recap!

 

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LPL Green Bay, WI Recap!

 

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Bookmark for Green Bay LPL “Life Wide Open”

*UPDATED

For those at Living Proof Live Green Bay:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To print your bookmark:

1. Right click to open each file separately.
2. Print both files on one 2-sided piece of paper.
3. Cut and enjoy!

 

If you prefer a PDF version, click the links below:
Front: Green Bay Bookmark Front
Back: Green Bay Bookmark Back

 

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It’s a Good Good Friday: My Own Billy Graham Story

A number of years ago, fifteen or more I think, I was invited for the first time to speak at The Cove, the Billy Graham Conference Center. I was honored to be asked and had looked tremendously forward to it and prepared diligently, prayerfully. I’m also a mountain girl and I never met a Blue Ridge Mountain I wouldn’t have married. It was the first weekend of November. I remember the time of year distinctly because it holds a significant place in this story. I almost always travel alone to conferences to minimize any distraction to a sense of Christ’s presence as I prepare but my wonderful hosts at The Cove had set aside a two-bedroom cabin for me that was perched, I was told, in a spectacular spot on the mountain, just above the conference center.

 

My friend, Jan Silvious, was within driving distance of it and I knew she’d be the perfect cabin companion for those three days because she also travels and speaks and teaches and knows what it takes. And she’s refreshingly low maintenance. We rarely get to be in the same place so it couldn’t have been a better time to pull off a reunion.

 

When I arrived at the conference center, I was taken aback by its beauty. It remains, to date, one of the most breathtaking places I’ve ever served. It was late Fall but Fall nonetheless and girlfriend’s a sucker for Autumn. I recall it being a pleasant kind of chilly. I’m not even sure I wore a coat. A sweater and a jacket was more like it, I recall. The young man hosting me asked if I’d like a tour of the building and the grounds. Yes, yes, of course, I would.

 

It happened almost immediately. This is the wretched side of having a rough and sinful background. You supply the enemy with so much material for condemnation and your self-destructive human nature is more than happy to double-team with him. I say this is the wretched side but, make no mistake, there is a good side. God’s grace to me is not in vain. I never, not for one minute, forget what Jesus pulled me out of. I never walk toward a microphone that I do not remember my past. I am not remotely tempted to believe any hyped-up press. I don’t know how leaders with a more righteous track record handle all of that but God is faithful to guard us and uses other means I’m sure. These are the means He uses very effectively with me.

 

How I have learned through the years to recognize the difference between God making the best use of my sinful past and Satan capitalizing on it is, of course, the result. The outcome of the Holy Spirit whispering, “No matter where I send you, never forget from where I saved you,” is humility. The outcome the enemy whispering, “No matter where he sends you, never forget what all you’ve done,” is misery. You’d think after a while I wouldn’t fall for it but sometimes it still rolls over me like an avalanche. That afternoon was one of those times.

 

No thinking person imagines Billy Graham was a perfect man. We all recognize there is no such thing. We are all weak in our natural selves. Christ alone was utter perfection wrapped in bruisable flesh. But, touring those grounds, it is absolutely impossible to miss how much the man did right. There’s also just this sense of sacredness there that I can’t explain. Perhaps even righteousness. Whatever it was, I suddenly felt woefully out of place. Jan arrived and we settled in our delightful, cozy cabin. I never said a word about what I felt. I spoke that evening for the first of what would be three times over the next 24 hours. The group was warm and welcoming and God seemed present. When we got back to the cabin that night, Jan looked at me and said in the plainspoken way that makes her one of the most fabulous people on earth, “What is wrong with you?”

 

When you are trying to hide how you really feel about something, never invite a Christian counselor to join you. They’re onto you. And they don’t mind confronting you.

 

“Nothing’s wrong with me!” I smiled my happiest. “I think I’m just tired. The time change and all.”

 

“It’s a one hour time change,” Jan quipped, deadpan expression. “Beth Moore, I know you. Something’s wrong and I want you to tell me this minute what it is.”

 

I mean, what was I going to say? “I feel bad about myself.” Oh, brother. Get a grip. Have a little cheese with that whine. I knew she’d roll her eyes and should. I wasn’t new to this thing. I teach the power of the cross continually and pound heavily on the difference between Holy Spirit conviction and self-condemnation. But, for the life of me, I could not pull myself out of this one. It was not that I felt guilty. It was that I felt heartbroken. Even the recollection causes tears to sting in my eyes.

 

I hugged my friend, told her how happy I was that she’d come, assured her I was OK, which she, of course, knew was bull, and we each headed to our rooms and went to bed.

 

The only person in the universe I wanted to talk to was Jesus. I lay in that bed and sobbed and sobbed with a wide-open Bible on my heaving chest. I suppose it was open to the Psalms. I’m not sure. I couldn’t have seen through my tears to have read a single word. Sometimes you just hold the Scriptures. I said in whispers between sobs, “You were worthy of that.” “I wish so much I’d done it that way.” “You were so so worthy of that.” “I wish I could do it all again.” “I am so sorry.” “I am so, so sorry.” My past relationship with defeat was complicated. I covet those with backstories filmed in black and white. “I was in terrible sin. Then I met Jesus. Then I never terribly sinned again.” If that’s your story, you are so blessed. Depart from me, I never knew you.

 

I was a little girl when I came to know Jesus. A very troubled little girl who would cycle in and out of the pit for years and years. My darkest time of sin and defeat did not occur out of rebellion. I was not looking for trouble. I was awakening to the brilliance of Scripture and was becoming increasingly enraptured by Jesus. I’d already surrendered my life to ministry at 18 and pledged to be faithful to Him all my days. I wasn’t. I have no explanation for the darkest season except that Satan placed a bet on my well-hidden brokenness wrought by victimization and unrelenting instability in my childhood home. At the time I fell into the deepest abyss that would ever swallow me, I was a young adult who genuinely loved Jesus and never let the sun come up without meeting with him. The devil’s mean. The flesh is stupid. And together, they team up for a trainwreck.

 

That dark time was years behind me as I lay in bed and sobbed that night in the cabin above The Cove. I’d long since had counseling over it. Long since, by the grace of God, broken out of the pattern that had dogged my young years. Long since lived in the light. I’d truly repented and never returned to that pit. Still, the regret at times was almost more than I could bear. Every wave of fresh love I’d have for Jesus would be followed sooner or later by a fresh wave of heartbrokenness over old sin.

 

Jesus was strangely quiet that night as I wept. Often in a wave of despair like that one, His Spirit will remind me of certain verses or I’ll sense His comfort. I didn’t feel like He wasn’t with me. I just felt no response at all. Not even a good, swift kick in the pajama pants like, “Oh, get over it.” Nothing, just quiet. Just despair. I cried until I was empty, my hair sopping wet at the temples. I fell asleep with that Bible wide open on my chest.

 

The next morning I awakened well before dawn and crept quietly, so as not to awaken Jan, into the small den between our two bedrooms to turn on the coffee maker. I looked out of the picture window of our cabin and saw a strange and unfamiliar sight. I squinted my eyes and looked as hard as I could. I walked over to it and tried to make out what I was seeing. I hurried over to the door and opened it and everywhere I looked, it was the same sight.

 

I ran into Jan’s room and said, “Get up! I have to show you something!”

 

“What on earth?”

 

“Jan, get up! I need you to see something! I need to ask you something!”

 

I got her by the hand, dragged her onto the porch of that little cabin, both of us in our pajamas, and I turned her toward me, held her by the shoulders and said, as seriously as I have ever said a word in my entire life, “Jan Silvious, I have a question to ask you and I need you to think about it and be very sure about your answer before you give it to me.”

 

“OK,” she said, looking completely confused and coffeeless.

 

I pointed toward the limbs of the trees right in front of us. “Jan, is that frost? Or is that snow? I need to know.”

 

“This is what you got me up for?”

 

“Jan. Frost? Or snow?”

 

She shook her head and laughed at her friend from the hotlands of the Texas Gulf Coast and said, “Beth, that is not frost. That is snow. Frost does not heap up on the branch.”

 

And I began to jump up and down right there in my pajamas and I yelled from the top of my lungs for that Blue Ridge Mountain and every soul on it to hear, “Whiter than snow! Whiter than snow! Jan, Jan, Jan! I’m whiter than snow!” Got her by the arms. Made her jump with me.

 

“We’re whiter than snow!”

 

That morning when our host greeted us, he said, “How about this snow? We weren’t expecting it this weekend. It’s pretty early for these parts around here.”

 

Oh, no no no, Brother. It was right on time.

 

It was one of the best days of my life.

 

Today, on this day, we remember the best day of our lives.

Christ’s worst day. Christ’s best day. The day toward which the first day dawned. The day heaven and hell crashed violently in the skies and the devil who’d shown up for his big triumph was put to open shame.

 

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. Colossians 2:13-15

 

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:

       though your sins are like scarlet,

they shall be as white as snow;

       though they are red like crimson,

they shall become like wool. Isaiah 1:18

 

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Let me hear joy and gladness;

let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Psalm 51:7-8

 

 

Whiter than snow, loved one in Christ. The nightmare is over. You’re clean.

 

Whiter than snow.

 

 

 

 

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LPL Boone, NC Recap!

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LPL Boone, NC Scholarship Tickets!

 

**UPDATE: We have shared all of our scholarship tickets.**

Hey North Carolina! This weekend Living Proof Live is coming to you!

We are returning to Boone, NC as we continue celebrating twenty years of Living Proof Live. Boone is also the hometown of our beloved worship leader Travis, where he says the unofficial motto is: Where God gets His mail!

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 the High Country, 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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The Promised Pound Cake Recipe

Hey you Ft. Lauderdale girls! As promised, here is Beth’s go-to pound cake recipe. I pray it blesses you (and your neighbor)!

5 Flavor Pound Cake:

2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup Crisco shortening
3 cups sugar
5 eggs, well-beaten
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 tsp. each of vanilla, lemon, almond, coconut and butter flavor extracts

In a mixer, combine butter and Crisco until smooth. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs and mix. In a small bowl, blend together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt. Add in flour mixture, alternately with milk. Mix in extracts. Pour into well greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 and 1/2 hours. Let cool completely before you turn it out of the pan. That means you’ll need to make it about four hours in advance of serving. You can put a glaze on it but it doesn’t need it. You can also throw some fresh strawberries or blueberries on it with whipped cream.

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LPL Ft. Lauderdale Recap!

 

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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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