The following are summaries of topics that I have prepared and presented over the last twenty-five years. There are others that are not outlined here and I always enjoy, as time permits, to study and prepare for a suggested topic or passage of Scripture. These topics can be used as a single talk or expanded for retreat or seminar sessions. I have placed them in the order of their popularity as retreat/seminar topics.
Broken relationships are everywhere! Not only the obvious failed marriages of our “enlightened” culture – I’m talking about wounds that keep families from the nurturing, sheltering activities God purposed. I’m talking about fractured friendships that tear down rather than build up. I’m talking about gaping wounds in the fragile flesh of fellowship in the body of Christ. Relationships fail because we have not gone to God’s Word to understand the content of relationship.
This study begins with that relationship of love, communication, and purpose in the Godhead evident even in the Creation account. It traces God’s perfect design intention for His image bearer through creation, the fall, and redemption. Our relationships in this world as women – daughters, sisters, (physically & spiritually) mothers, friends, and wives flow dramatically from our understanding of our relationship to God through Jesus Christ. We are no longer takers (dead in sin) but now givers and receivers because we are complete in Christ (Philippians 2/ Colossians 3). There is much opportunity for practical application of this rich biblical truth for women & girls of all ages in a retreat context.
Conversations – Talking to God, Talking to Myself, Talking to Others
Imagine your day today without conversation. Everything from the mundane details of living to the deepest expressions of love, joy, pain, frustration, and hurt depend on our ability to talk to one another. Conversation is the vehicle of communication for every dimension of life. Relationship would be impossible without some means of communication. Why is this and what makes communication so difficult, yet so important?
In order to understand conversation, why it is important and how we may use it well – we must understand where it came from and its original purpose. Conversation is one of the scores of areas where we have been “taken captive by hollow and deceptive philosophies that depend on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” We must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. For too long, our wicked culture and a man-centered, dilute interpretation of Scripture have told us how to converse- with God- with ourselves- and with one another.
This study sets the foundation of our conversations on the bedrock of God’s speech to us in His Word. God’s Word then models for us talking to God, meditation of mind and heart and counsel to others in fellowship in the home, the body of Christ, the community, and the workplace. Application from God’s Word for women of all ages is penetrating and timely.
The Proverbs 31 Woman
Years ago I was given a tract with this passage of Scripture on it. The translation was “Today’s English Version” from the Good News Bible. At the top of the tract was written, “In praise of a good woman.” Verse 10 read, “How hard it is to find a capable wife.” At the bottom of the tract I had written years ago… “Is this a real woman? or a composite? Take this apart. Can you attain this Margy? Is this realistic? I was tremendously impacted by the title of the tract and the translation. I wanted to be what God wanted me to be but was wondering how I would ever accomplish it!
In the years that have followed I have thought, prayed, studied, and grown by the work of God’s Spirit to understand this passage in a different way than is expressed in my original question! The question is not – is this a real or composite woman? The question is “What is God exalting in Proverbs 31? An accurate translation of verse 10 tells us – “A wife of noble character, who can find?” I n this beautiful passage, God is praising Godly character, not brawn or even brain. Godly character is praised, not productivity! Women often judge their success by what they do – not who they are! The personality profile in Proverbs 31 is character oriented! What a relief! Inner qualities determine outward behavior. The work of my hands is important as an outworking of the stuff of my heart.
This study uses this premise to study the many qualities of character exposed in Proverbs 31. Those qualities are then fleshed out in many other passages of Scripture.
The Whole Picture- The True Nature of Reality
Is our sense of well being from day to day summarized by whether we had a “good day” or a “bad day”? And what made the day “good” or “bad”? Often, sadly, it is the circumstances of our days that dictate to our mind and heart our mood and spiritual temperature!
If we are going to have “good” days regardless of the circumstances, we need to get the whole picture! That is available in God’s Word. There we have a richly textured picture that allows us to see the disparate pieces of our lives in God’s sovereign, capable care. We find solid ground that allows us to stand firm and strong against the winds of circumstance with joy and hope!
Psalm 73, II Corinthians 4, and other powerful passages are the heart of this study. All of God’s Word provides us with illustrations of that unseen world of spiritual reality which God inhabits and which He calls us to see and know with our spiritual senses.
God’s Way – Not Mine
It is a no faith response to look at the situation or circumstances God has brought us to and say… “This isn’t working, therefore I must…”, ” How can I get out of this one…?”, “I don’t like this. I know… I’ll…”, I must solve this problem… let’s see… I’ll…”
Scriptures have been given to:
- Confront us with God’s sovereignty
- Confirm the truth of the testimony about him
- Attest to His duty and right to rule
- Demonstrate His ability and faithfulness to His people
- Encourage/exhort/and give hope in all circumstances
- The Holy Spirit has been given to witness to our souls the truth of God’s Revelation to us
A parade of saints from the pages of Scripture and through the time of the Reformation to the present echoes this truth. This study examines the claims above. It challenges ladies to learn from the lessons taught by many positive and negative illustrations from God’s Word. People faced with problems choose God’s way or their own way. The fall-out of their choices is very instructive!
You Never Know What a Day Will Bring! – Proverbs 3: 5&6 Trust in the Lord
YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT A DAY WILL BRING! This is true of our “every days” and for the “long haul”! Your new perm that was supposed to yield lush, loose curls cascading about your face turned out to be frizzy and to cry over! In the same way, “You never know what life will bring!” A man who trained to be a medical doctor became one of the greatest preachers of the 20th century – Martin Lloyd Jones.
This short term and long term uncertainty can leave us feeling vulnerable, even frightened. We need to know something for sure, to be able to have confidence in something that we know will work out as planned. There is one such truth that we can be sure of. It’s taught in many ways in the Bible with many different words. It is summed up in Proverbs 3: 5,6.
What is the heart of this trust we are commanded to practice? How is it described in other passages? Psalm 91 and Matthew 5 among others expose the heart of trust of the believer. This is a rich study for bringing conviction to our hearts as women who seek to know God.
Everyday Struggles with Sin
Where do these struggles originate? We must first reject the theories of Godless society and even a liberal religious climate that explain away the battle that wages in the hearts of all people. We must accept that God’s Word describes our dilemma as Adam’s offspring and prescribes new life in Christ as the second Adam as our only hope for deliverance. Now we can look at our struggles with sin.
We were created to worship. We will either worship God or idols. Most often, our deepest sin issues are rooted in hearts that worship us. We are on the throne of our hearts and bow down to the sinful desires that pander to our pride and lusts. David Powlison of Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF) has identified the truth that there are many “root issues” exposed in Scripture that explain the WHY of our sin – not the WHEN of our sin. It is not WHEN we sin or WHAT we do that is the heart of sin, but WHY! Mark 7:21-23 tells us where sin comes from. It comes from the heart. Jer. 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?”
It’s important to know the difference between WHEN we sin (the circumstances that occasion our sinful behavior) and WHAT (our external behavior) we do as a result of indwelling sin; but we need to know WHY (the root issues) we sin in order to engage in spiritual battle effectively. God mercifully brings rescue. We would be utterly without help if He did not. In I Corinthians 10:13 we find the heart of that help. He will provide a way of escape. Jesus says in John 14:6 “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”.
Biblical solutions for our struggles with sin are found in understanding God’s holy and perfect searching of our hearts, in knowing God and the nature of reality, and in knowing who God is and what He has done. We must become practiced at discerning root issues and examining them in the light of God’s Truth. Then God’s provision for us in all the formal and informal means of grace will equip us for the struggle. We will know growth in grace. God is faithful to feed and nurture the righteous life within which He created and brings to completion as we commit ourselves to walk in His ways, in righteousness before Him.
JAMES 4: SUBMISSION TO GOD
James isn’t speaking to unbelievers when he introduces “spiritual adultery” as a warning against friendship with the world.
James 4:7-10 is a profound and sobering formula for repentance – surrender to God. Submission to God is foundational to all other submission to authority in our lives – in the home, church, school, workplace, or in the community. This route to true heart submission is contrary to our hearts desires and the methodology of our culture.
The Christian Woman and Submission
I spoke at a ladies’ retreat in October of 1975 on this topic. The invitation for that retreat 21 years ago stated the following:
“In this age of women’s “lib”, when so many of our friends and neighbors are re-evaluating their roles as women, with specific consideration of their position in the home and the world in general, we invite you to join with us in reflecting on our roles as women, using God’s word, the Bible, as the standard for our evaluation.”
Look at where we’ve come in those thirty-four years. I shudder when I think of the many glib references to this headlong slide into degradation. Our culture is so aptly represented by the advertising jingle that went like this- “You’ve come a long way, Baby, to get where you are today. You’ve got your own cigarette now, Baby! You’ve come a long, long way!”
The downward spiral has continued! Secular humanism has robbed man of the dignity that distinguished him as God’s image bearer. It has decimated the roles God ordained to provide fulfilling, enriching lives of service for which we were designed as women. The same is true for men, children and all people for all the roles God’s precepts define.
We must revisit this theme of submission – not for the sake of warding off new trends our culture foists off on God’s people in subtle ways. It is too late for that. It is rather to rid us of current, powerful hollow and deceptive philosophies that depend on human tradition rather than on Christ. Even in the church – we are often lock step with the view of women’s roles that would have shocked the church of Christ 30 years ago! How did this happen? How can we redeem the time, our roles, and our daughters to know the power of God at work in our hearts and our homes? The evangelical feminist movement must be understood and refuted. We must beware of the “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
What is biblical submission? The secular culture and evangelical feminist movement has bashed and thereby stereotyped the biblical model of submission. Godless people have made God’s perfect design for women’s roles grotesque because their minds are darkened to the Truth. We must once again bring Godly womanhood into the perfect light of God’s Revelation and own it as whole and beautiful.
This study examines the woman’s role before God in general and submission to our husbands (individually) in particular.
Childrearing – The Mother’s Role (suggested where mothers described in summary are predominant)
This study examines the mother’s role in “shepherding” her children’s hearts. It is based on the parenting model laid out in my husband’s book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart (Dr. Tedd Tripp). In a culture where the Christian family does not conjure up in our minds a father leading and a mother supporting, there are many mothers who struggle with multiple parenting roles. Many are lone Christians in a family where either their husbands are tyrannical about non-Christian lifestyle choices or couldn’t care less – leaving such decisions and values to the Christian wife. Many have professing husbands who are spiritually lifeless, leaving mom to be the spiritual head whether it is biblical or not! These ladies have questions. We must answer them from God’s Word.
Being God’s Woman
Our culture is obsessed with “becoming” something or someone. As Christian women, we have the assurance of “being” someone and something in Christ. “Being God’s Woman” rests on what Christ has done, not on what I can do or what or who I become. Foundational to any aspect of my “womanhood” is who and what I am in Christ.
Being who we are in Christ or resting in Christ is an extension of Christ’s death, which was specific for each of us who have turned in faith to him. He is our resource. If Christ’s work stopped at salvation – going to heaven by and by – there would be little hope for us except to do the best we can. But, praise God, Christ’s work was thorough. We are complete in Christ. Not just free from just death for our sins, but fullness of life in Christ. Philippians 3 sums everything up in. “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”
This study contrasts the worldly (secular) mind with the spiritual (Christian) mind. We are challenged by God’s Word to define and reject the ways the world has crept into our minds, homes, and churches in our roles as women.
Regardless of the cost, we MUST have a Christian mind. As God’s children, loved and known by God, created by Him for our role as women, WE MUST REJECT THE WORLD’S AGENDA FOR US. We will find both protection and direction in doing so.
- I Peter 1: 13-16
Sexuality – God’s Design Intention (appropriate for small groups or individuals in counseling)
I grew up in an era when good Christian people didn’t acknowledge sexuality! This gave silent credence to the general consensus abroad in the fifties that it was a dirty and disgusting subject. The legacy of such an approach in the church and in our nation has been to unleash denigration and ruin on one of the most profoundly beautiful and precious elements of our creature hood.
G. Gordon Liddy swaggered in his despicable speech through radio talk shows in the nineties that sex is a beastly act and has nothing to do with fidelity. He sells his “stacked and packed” calendars of women in undergarments bearing weaponry in a blatant illustration that our culture has abandoned the preceptive will of God even in His creation of Eve and presenting her to Adam in that most profound love scene in Genesis 2. The trend has gotten worse through the turn of the century.
The holy passion God intended in the marriage relationship has grown cold, untrusting and unkindled in the crafty hands of the enemy of our souls! We have bought the lie and modeled loveless marriages for our children. The result is a given! Having abandoned God’s ways – man will worship the created thing rather than the Creator. As a result, our nation’s children are given over to every evil practice with a continual lust for more. Mothers sit with their adolescent children before TV’s spewing out bawdy exhibitions of sexual acts and lewdness of every description, wholly without regard to any commitment to relationship – let alone marriage. And where did this all come from? Do you remember songs like “Dream, Dream” or “Strangers in the Night”? Do you remember jealous spats and hints of unfaithfulness in the “I Love Lucy” or “Mary Tyler Moore” shows? The church was asleep! In a moment it seems, we went from singing the songs to watching the movies and now we weep as sisters in Christ lose their marriages and our churches’ daughters bear children of relationships that should never have been. Where will it end?
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Our sexuality is by God’s design. It was a pre-fall determination of God that we be male and female – for the purpose of knowing the human delights of sexual union. Procreation is a blessed by-product and purpose of God in our crafting.
When our view of our sexuality is restored to God’s perspective – much healing will transpire – homes will be whole and happy – children will learn the powerful lessons of Proverbs. God created our sexuality and purposed it for our godly pleasure. It is not funny or trite. It is holy and undefiled and perfectly lovely!
- Loving God In Life’s Disappointments
- A Biblical View of Manners
- A Biblical View of Modesty
- A Biblical View of Romance
- Shepherding a Child’s Heart: The sowing and reaping principle of Scripture
- Sowing and Reaping: A Biblical View of Consequences
- What If It’s Too Late? Help for Parents of Rebellious Children
- I Just Don’t Fit In: A Lament of Members of the Body
- Christian Education – (more for Christian school in-service)
Christian Education is like an aerial view of the world from our orbiting satellites. It is a way of seeing everything through the Bible, God’s Revelation.
Everyone has a philosophy – presuppositions upon which they build explanations for their minds and hearts concerning all of life. The Bible gives us a way of seeing that is unlike any of the ways man’s mind has conceived. The Bible lets us look at everything through the eyes of God’s Truth – that is the only Truth. It doesn’t depend on man, only on God.
This is a study that examines how we may use God’s Word to educate ourselves, our children, those we teach in Sunday school, Christian school, or other instructional settings. It has most often been used for Christian school chapel, Christian school in-service or Sunday school teacher instruction.
Other Christian education topics:
- Administration and Board: A Shepherding Foundation
- Shepherding a Child’s Heart in the Classroom
- Helping Parents Shepherd Their Children
- Homework: A Biblical View