Know when to run

How do you know when to stay in a difficult situation, or when to walk away, or even run?

You ask God.

Kenny Rogers, The Gambler Photo source: Google
Kenny Rogers, The Gambler
Photo source: Google

 

Kenny Rogers is one of my husband Ray’s favorite country music artists. I saw him years ago in a little restaurant-bar in California, but didn’t know who he was then. I really like one of the songs he sings, The Gambler. It is very prophetic about life and has wise advice. Some of the refrain’s lyrics are:

“He said, “If you’re gonna play the game, boy
You gotta learn to play it right
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run.”

I believe there’s 4 spiritual principles to these lyrics, that I’d like to share with you today:

  • Hold ’em. That we as believers in Christ are in a spiritual battle every day is a given. Ephesians 6:12, NASB, says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” There is a raging, unseen war around you and me every day. Sometimes we get tired and worn out, but we must never give up or give in to our enemy Satan, as Christ has the victory. Ephesians 6:13, New Heart English Bible, says, “Therefore, put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand.” This is what “hold ’em” means when you’re fighting a battle , to stand your ground and not let the enemy advance or conquer you, despite being fired at by guns, tanks, and helicopters, a blockade cutting off food, water, and supplies, guerrilla attacks,, walking through mine fields, or more : in military terms, stand fast.
  • Fold ’em.  In a card game, you fold by laying down your hands and stop playing the hand. You give it up and are out for that hand. You don’t place any more bets. In life, we fold ’em by surrendering. Not, and never, surrendering to the devil, but to God. You learn to let go of all control, let Jesus take the wheel, and allow God to have His way in and through your life. You die to self. You allow Christ to increase and you decrease for His glory. You trust God knows best for your life in this hard situation, and take it one step at a time, day by day (John 3:30)
  • Walk away.  If you were on Facebook at all since last year, you saw how the presidential election caused a storm of controversy, even dividing Christian family and friends. It was a shame, and grieved God’s heart to see so many of His children attacking each other, when the real enemy in this world is Satan. Titus 3:9, NASB, says, “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” Sometimes we just need to walk away from a situation, and not engage in strife or drama because it will just result in division, hurt feelings, offenses, and more. Be wise and walk; walk toward God!
  • Run. In boot camp, soldiers are trained to follow orders, be tough, and the long term strategy is to defeat the enemy, not to run away in fear and hide. However, there is a concept in battle called “withdrawal,” which is retreating forces back while maintaining contact with the enemy or totally disengaging for a moment.  A withdrawal may be used as part of a general retreat, to consolidate forces, to occupy ground that is more easily defended, or to lead the enemy into an ambush. It’s risky, requiring discipline to keep from turning into a disorganized rout (a chaotic, disorganized retreat resulting in the enemy’s victory) or at the very least doing severe damage to the military’s morale. (Source: Wikipedia) There IS a perfect Biblical example for running from the enemy, though: Joseph, who ran from Potiphar’s wife who was seducing him to come to bed with her. (Genesis 39:12). Instead, Joseph did what was right and winded up going to prison for his faith, later being raised up by God to be second in command in the land. At times we need to run from temptation or a situation that is not good for us or our loved ones.

Pray to God and ask for discernment and His wisdom in your specific situation and what you should do. No matter what the hard circumstances are that you’re facing right now, remember that you are more than a conquer through Christ.

The Hands of a Woman
Buy it now at Amazon:
http://hyperurl.co/coqmyz

You can read my book on spiritual warfare, eight women’s stories of their greatest spiritual battles through faith in Christ, The Hands of a Woman: Everyday Women in Everyday Battles, by clicking on the link below:

http://hyperurl.co/coqmyz

You can hear Kenny Roger’s song The Gambler by clicking on the video below:

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War Room movie review: Your prayers are powerful

Miss Clara, the prayer warrior in the movie War Room
Miss Clara, the prayer warrior in the movie War Room

This post contains some spoilers.

“War has been part of humanity in every age…There always seems to be something to fight for.” – Miss Clara, War Room

This weekend I went to see the movie War Room, which raked in more than $11 million despite showing at only 1,100 theatres in its opening weekend. It was second place to Straight Outta Compton, but surpassed the success of Mission Impossible and No Escape. Praise God!!! I love seeing how God is working today in the media!

prayer closet
Miss Clara praying

The movie is about prayer and faith in Jesus Christ. 

Ray was at work when I went to see it, but he went with me the next day. Our youngest daughter Leah didn’t want to see it, saying it looked “predictable” (for a Christian movie). She was right, it was predictable, but powerful. 

And really, there is something reassuring and comforting about predictability. To know that you can always count on God, that He’s always there for you and He hears your prayers. That He doesn’t change. (Malachi 3:6) That God wants to move mightily on yours and your loved ones’ behalf. That God is safe, trustworthy, and faithful, even when we’re not

“I see in you a warrior that needs to be awakened.” – Miss Clara to Elizabeth in War Room

I found it interesting that the main character’s name was Elizabeth (my formal name). I related to much of the story in this movie, especially the intense marriage problems, which I share about in my memoir, Promises In The Dark: One Woman’s Search for Authentic Love

The main character, Elizabeth Jordan, in the movie War Room
The main character, Elizabeth, in War Room

Elizabeth is played by Priscilla Shirer, the daughter of minister Tony Evans, and is a speaker, author of He Speaks to Me: Preparing to Hear From God, and a Bible teacher. I didn’t know this until after the movie. She shares the stage at the Going Beyond and Deeper Still conferences with Beth Moore and Kay Arthur.

Beth Moore, founder of Living Proof Ministries which teaches women world-wide to love and live on Scripture, also played the minor part of Mandy in this movie. Not a coincidence Beth was in this!

I thought everyone did a great job of acting in this movie. The only problem I had with the movie was that their little girl, Danielle (Alena Pitts), played the pathetically sad daughter (because of her parents’ marital strife) throughout the movie.

After awhile, I wanted to scream, “Okay, everyone GETS it! She’s so sad because her parents fight all the time! Let her talk or something!” Otherwise, I thought she did a good job (she’s great at jumping rope, too.)This movie marks her professional acting debut.

Danielle with her mom Elizabeth in War Room
Danielle with her mom Elizabeth in War Room

One of the most powerful moments of Alena’s acting is when Danielle told Elizabeth that she felt like her parents only loved her a little bit, and when her mom protested, she began asking her questions to see if she was even paying attention to her: what was her coach’s name, what colors were her team’s, what award did she win last week? Elizabeth didn’t know the answers, and tears streamed down both their faces. Very convicting for parents. 

Briefly, the plot of the movie is this: Elizabeth Jordan, a real estate agent, is in a troubled marriage to her husband, Tony, a successful business man. They seem to have it all with their careers, a beautiful daughter, and a gorgeous home – the American dream, right? Their marriage has become a war zone with constant fighting, anger, and bitterness, and their daughter is the collateral damage. 

Clara and Elizabeth
Clara and Elizabeth

Elizabeth finds guidance from one of her clients, an older woman named Clara (Karen Abercrombie –Clara was my favorite character in the movie; she is powerful and hilarious), who teaches Elizabeth to fight for herself, her marriage, and her family with the weapons of prayer and faith in Jesus. 

“Submission is ducking so God can hit your husband.” – Beth Moore’s character Mandy to Elizabeth in War Room

Of course, critics are tearing it apart (naturally, it’s a Christian movie!). I read some reviews before I went to see it, and wondered if I’d agree with it, especially Jim Judy’s criticism that the movie had a “potentially dangerous ‘remedy’ to domestic abuse.”

Since I am a survivor of childhood sexual and physical abuse and my daughter Heather and I were physically battered in my second marriage, I don’t condone violence or abuse at all and was interested to see if this review was right on. After seeing the movie twice, I felt that his review was untrue and unjust. 

The husband, Tony Jordan, in the movie War Room
The husband, Tony Jordan, in the movie War Room

 

While the husband Tony was self-absorbed and a jerk to his wife (with a wandering, lustful eye), I don’t recall him saying anything abusive to Elizabeth and he never physically abused her.

Spoiler alert: Critics mocked the part where Tony was contemplating having an affair with a co-worker, and threw up, saying that it depicts God as a genie who gives your husband food poisoning before he cheats on you.

“Very few of us know how to fight the right way.” –Miss Clara, War Room

I get what the critic is saying about this, but the truth is that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and God does sometimes allow things to happen in our lives to stop or hinder us from sinning (because He loves us), or allow painful, difficult things that are a consequence of sin.

I don’t believe God is an angry God ready to zap people in a rage, who are sinning, wanting to just throw them into hell. He is a good God. But He is holy, and He doesn’t want men (or women) committing adultery. He has set you and me apart for His holy purposes. 

Beth & Ray Jones
Beth & Ray Jones

I believe and KNOW that prayer is powerful and as believers, we have great authority in prayer through faith in Christ. But I do agree with the Christianity Today movie critic Kenneth Morefield, who wrote that the movie has too easy fixes and Tony’s transformation is so radical and complete, that it’s like he’s a prize given to Elizabeth for prayingIf this was the case, my husband Ray would be a very different man in some areas of his life (and I would be very different in certain areas of mine, from Ray praying for me). 

“If you want victory you must first surrender.” – Miss Clara to Elizabeth

Spoiler alert: Some favorite parts of mine for this movie were:

  • Miss Clara, my fave character. The ending with her prayer and words was SO powerful. I cried both times seeing it.
  • Elizabeth taking authority over the devil in her house and telling him to get out;
  • Miss Clara talking to the cops about Jesus and the man who tried to rob her and Elizabeth, eating two helpings of ice cream and getting a sugar rush;
  • Danielle smiling big and saying, “That’s my dad!” after the jump rope contest. While it’s difficult to believe a successful business man is going to trade his career for half his previous salary to work at the community recreation center and be content, I felt this part of the movie was prophetic. That is what God did for us. He humbled Himself, emptying Himself of Divinity to be born here on earth, die for our sins, and raise again so we’d always have a relationship with God. Jesus always showed people, “That’s my Dad!”, as we can do too with God, who works so incredibly in and through our lives. 
  • Tony giving Elizabeth what she’d asked for: a foot rub and a big ice cream, fudge sundae with whip cream and a cherry on top. I was craving a hot fudge sundae after this, and went to get one yesterday, eating a little and giving the rest to Leah. It was so good;
  • Elizabeth eating potato chips and drinking a soda in the closet while she prayed;
  • Miss Clara’s victory prayers, and saying, “Devil, you just got your butt kicked!”

Ray thought it was a “good, clean family film.” This is a big compliment, seeing as how Ray prefers movies with machine gun fire, lots of blood, car crashes, or geeky, sci-fi plots.

The power of prayer
The power of prayer

Overall, I give this movie a thumbs up. Yes, critics slammed it, yes, it had predictable parts, and yes, it had easy solutions to complex problems. But its message, that prayer and faith in Jesus is powerful and work, is the truth. Your prayers make a difference; keep praying!

To learn more about the power and authority of prayer, click here for my book, The Hands of a Woman: Everyday Women In Everyday Battles. This has eight women’s powerful stories about prayer. 

Did you see the movie? What did you think? Leave your comments below.

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Do you need a reset button?

Reset button. Source: http://jarche.com/2009/04/push-the-reset-button/
Source: http://jarche.com/2009/04/push-the-reset-button/

This morning I woke up much later than usual, which threw my day off. Then Ray and I had some “intense domestic fellowship,” as our friends Don and Gala dub marriage conflicts, over something stupid (usually arguments between married couples are!).

As I sat in my sunroom having coffee with God, I prayed, “God, I need a reset button for this morning. I need a reset button for my life.”

Do you ever feel that way? The good news is that with Jesus, you have “a reset button.”

He exchanged His life for yours, His perfection for your sins, His healing for your sickness, His heavenly riches for your poverty of spirit (and finances), His eternal promises and hope for your discouraging trials and tests, His joy for your tears, His beauty for your ashes. 

I haven’t had a perfect life. In fact, I’ve been through so much in my life that a TV researcher interviewing me for a possible TV segment last year said, “Beth, you’ve been through so much in your life that it could easily be made into 3 movies.”

If I had a reset button for my life, I’d do a lot of things differently. But all I have is the present-today. That’s all you have, too. And through Christ we can have a reset button right this moment.

Whatever you’re going through, God is there. He loves you. He has a good plan for your life. (Jeremiah 29:11)

If you’ve messed up, ask His forgiveness. (1 John 1:9)

If you need healing, Jesus is the Healer. (Psalm 107:20)

If you don’t know what to do, pray for wisdom and direction. (James 1:5-6)

If you feel discouraged, there is always hope with Christ. (Romans 5:2-7)

If you need a miracle, nothing is impossible with God. (Matthew 19:26)

If you have a dream in your heart, God has more for you than you can even think or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20, The Message)

Remember, with God there is a reset button for today.

*******

Promises In The Dark: One Woman's Search for Authentic Love
Promises In The Dark: One Woman’s Search
for Authentic Love by Beth Jones

Had a hard life? Going through trials and tests which seem overwhelming? I relate. Read the story of my childhood sexual and physical abuse, 3 abortions, and adulterous affairs and the healing and hope I found through Jesus Christ in my book, Promises In The Dark: One Woman’s Search for Authentic Love, by clicking here. Available for sale at BethJones.net, Amazon for your Kindle, and Barnes & Noble for Your Nook.

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