Fight the enemy with the sword of the Spirit

One of Ray's swords
One of Ray’s swords

My husband Ray loves to collect swords and other weapons. Downstairs in his “man cave” (recreation room – a combination of his office and where he relaxes to watch sci-fi movies with our daughter Leah after his hard shifts at work), he has hung up swords, knives, guns, and other weapons on the walls, as well as his various certificates and ordinations from different trainings (he has done so many amazing things and is the most certified person I know!). He could tell you the history of each weapon. 

Ray's collection of weapons
Ray’s collection of weapons

Ray is a former combat-medic Marine (14 years in the military), a former police chief and policeman, a former fire chief and fireman, and a former SWAT team medic. He’s also been to Haiti five times for medical/security missions trips.

Ray Jones
Ray Jones

After the catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake that killed an estimated 100,000 to 160,000 people, Ray flew there to help our pastor friend Dr. Jay Threadgill, setting up a medical tent and treating 200 to 300 patients a day.The medical clinic is now a permanent part of Fishers of Men Ministries. Ray has a black belt in Taekwondo martial arts. He’s been a paramedic for over 25 years. He’s been through a lot of hardship in his life. He knows a lot about warfare.

The Hands of a Woman: Everyday Women In Everyday Battles Available at Amazon October 23, 2015
The Hands of a Woman:
Everyday Women In Everyday Battles

This is why I asked him to write the foreward for my book, The Hands of a Woman: Everyday Women In Everyday Battles–a book about 8 women’s true stories of overcoming their greatest moments of spiritual warfare through faith in prayer and by standing on God’s word.

This powerful book is available in print and is launching in eBook format at Amazon for your Kindle on Friday, October 20, 2015. 

Ray's Japanese sword
Ray’s Japanese sword

Ray’s swords are mounted on the wall of his man cave and on his mom’s antique ceramic table. But swords weren’t created to stay on a wall or in their sheath; they’re to be used to fight. As a Christian, your weapon is the Sword of the Spirit, spoken of in Ephesians 6–the Word of God. 

When the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness, Jesus responded to him, “It is written.” He used the word of God as his weapon against the enemy and it is our greatest weapon, too; God’s word stands forever. (Psalm 119:89, Isaiah 50:8, 1 Peter 1:25)

In the movie War Room (I highly recommend it), the elderly prayer warrior Miss Clara said, “Very few of us know how to fight the right way.”

This coming week I’m having a free telecall about prayer and spiritual warfare and the soft launch of this new eBook on Amazon. Be sure to share with your family and friends! Stay tuned for details on my scopes at Periscope (follow me @bethmjones) and here at BethJones.net.

Beth Jones
Beth Jones, International Speaker Amazon Best Seller Author

 

 

 

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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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Catching up: Baby Piper, a wedding, a funeral, & War Room

So much going on right now, it’s hard to know where to start. I’m editing my previous eBook, 3 P’s in a Pod: Prayer, Purpose, and Passion, and having another eBook formatted for Kindle at Amazon, a close family friend’s husband and her sister passed away the same week (my husband Ray is officiating at the funeral), Ray is teaching an EMT class at work and our daughter Leah is taking the class to learn the skills, Ray and I went to see War Room yesterday (the movie on prayer-powerful), and I just spoke at Women’s Aglow in Grandview, MO, on Cinderella and her unique glass slipper (about walking in your purpose).

But I think the best news is that we have a beautiful, new addition to our family! Thank you, Jesus!

Our middle daughter Eden was pregnant with her second child and she had her baby girl, Piper Elizabeth Raine Gooch. Piper was 7 pounds 5 ounces, has brown-blonde, curly hair with red in it, and is a healthy girl! Isn’t she beautiful and precious?!

Piper Elizabeth Raine Gooch
Piper Elizabeth Raine Gooch

Below is a picture of Eden at the hospital in labor. She had the most remarkable, nearly pain-free labor I’ve ever heard of or seen, with the medicine they gave her (Nubain) and the epidural. While she did feel pressure, there was no crying or screaming. I was so amazed!

Our middle daughter Eden in labor
Our middle daughter Eden in labor

Here is Eden sleeping at the hospital during labor. Craig had worked before coming to the hospital, so he dozed a little, too. 

Eden sleeping during labor
Eden sleeping during labor

 

Eden had to be at the hospital with Craig at 5:30 a.m. and Ray, Leah, Heather and I arrived at the hospital about 8 a.m. She didn’t have Piper until about 10:30 p.m. that night, so it made for a long day for all of us! Cups of coffee helped pass the time!

coffee
coffee

Here’s Ray on his phone and Leah and Heather chatting. Heather had to go back to work around noon, then she came back later to help Craig coach Eden during delivery, an amazing (first time) experience for Heather. She said they all cried when beautiful Piper was born!

Ray on phone, Leah & Heather chatting
Ray on phone, Leah & Heather chatting

Right before delivery, Heather and I busted out laughing because Eden had been talking all day long while in labor and was talking even more than usual right before delivery, because she was nervous. She put on her makeup right before labor, too, which was funny to me….but I understand, because I don’t go anywhere without my eyeliner! Her friends and family were in the room with her to spend a few minutes with Eden before she had Piper. Below is a picture of Eden on the phone in the labor room, lol.

Eden on phone during labor
Eden on phone during labor

One of the happiest times during labor was when the nurse brought Eden a banana popsicle. She actually had two of them (the other was cherry flavored). She’d only been allowed to eat ice chips up to that point and she was hungry!

Eden eating popsicle during labor
Eden eating popsicle during labor

Below are Eden and Craig, eagerly anticipating holding their baby girl in their arms.

Eden & Craig at hospital
Eden & Craig at hospital

By the time supper rolled around, Ray, Leah and I felt starved (we’d had just snacks for lunch). Our oldest daughter Heather brought us a pizza and we quickly devoured it in the waiting area (to not tempt Eden with food). Heather is such a good, thoughtful daughter!

pizza
pizza
Heather in waiting area
Heather in waiting area
Our family in the waiting area
Our family in the waiting area
Leah and her older sister Eden before Piper was born
Leah and her older sister Eden before Piper was born

Eden and Craig were so happy when Piper was born. She is just perfect and such a joy to us all!

Piper, Eden, and Craig
Piper, Eden, and Craig
Eden, Piper & Craig
Eden, Piper & Craig

Heather had never been in a labor room before, but Eden wanted her in there with Craig, her and the hospital staff. She said it was incredible witnessing the birth and when Piper was born, they all cried. Heather is a proud aunt!

Heather and Piper
Heather and Piper

As Eden handed Piper to Ray for him to hold her for the first time after delivery, tears streamed down her face and she said, “Isn’t she beautiful, daddy? I’m so happy!” Naturally he was smitten with Piper!

The grandkids (four now!) call Ray “Papa” and me “Nana.” 

Ray and Piper
Ray and Piper
Piper and Ray
Piper and Ray

Craig and Eden greatly honored me by naming Piper’s middle name after my formal name, Elizabeth. I’ve never had a namesake before, and this really blessed me! Below I am holding PIper right after she was born for the first time. 

Ray, me and Piper
Ray, me and Piper

Here I am holding Piper when we came to visit Eden at the hospital 2 days later. I actually did a scope (Periscope) with Piper while there, lol. (I got Eden’s and Craig’s permission first to do it.) I joked that she’s now a social media star. You can follow me on Periscope @bethmjones. 

Piper and me
Piper and me

Here is Eden’s sister Leah with Piper. She was afraid to hold her, because she didn’t want to drop her. She did great, though, and is a proud aunt, too! 

Leah and Piper
Leah and Piper

Here’s Leah holding her again when we went to visit Eden later. I think she’s a natural at this!

Piper and Leah
Piper and Leah

Eden was concerned her son Jacob wasn’t going to “like” Piper. He wanted a baby brother instead of a girl, but he immediately loved her. His response after he looked at her was, “Mom, I’m glad she’s pretty.” Isn’t Jacob adorable? He’s ALL BOY! (Ray is so thankful to finally have a boy in the family!)

Jacob and his baby sister Piper
Jacob and his baby sister Piper
Jacob, Eden, and Piper
Jacob, Eden, and Piper

Heather’s girls Annabelle and Violet also immediately loved Piper. Violet wanted to “play” with her, lol. I had to explain she can’t sit up yet or crawl. Annabelle wanted to know if she could at least “army crawl.” Not yet!

Heather, Annabelle holding Piper, Violet
Heather, Annabelle holding her cousin Piper, Violet
Violet holding her cousin Piper
Violet holding her cousin Piper

We’re so thankful that Eden had a smooth, relatively pain-free labor and delivery (she only pushed 25 minutes!), and for a healthy baby girl. God is good and worthy to be praised! Thank you to all of you who prayed for her and Piper! We are very excited and happy that she is here! Mom and baby are doing good. 

Piper Elizabeth
Piper Elizabeth

“Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp! Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise Him with loud cymbals! Praise Him with clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”–Psalm 150:3-6

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