Revive Our Hearts Podcast

How to Exert Godly Influence

Leslie Basham:  Do you realize how much power you have to influence men? Here’s Mary Kassian.

Mary Kassian: I believe that true manhood is restored and will be restored in response to true womanhood. As we begin to live out the beauty of God’s design in our lives, it will impact the men around us, because we are tremendous influencers.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Brokenness: The Heart God Revives, for Friday, June 8, 2018.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: This week we’ve been looking at God’s design for men and women by listening to a message called, "The Genesis of Gender." My good friend Mary Kassian has been taking us through Genesis chapter 2, inviting us as women to embrace our God-given femininity.

She delivered this message in 2010 at one of the True Woman Conferences, and she'll be joining us at True Woman '18 September 27–29 in Indianapolis, along with: Pastor Eric Mason, Jackie Hill Perry, Dannah Gresh, Betsy Gómez and others. Throughout that entire conference we'll be exploring the theme: The Truth That Sets Us Free.

We're just about sold out, if not already sold out. So to get information as to whether there are any seats left and to learn more about how you can participate in this conference by means of livestream, be sure to visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Here’s Mary Kassian, picking up where she left off yesterday in the message, "The Genesis of Gender."

Mary: The purpose of woman helping man isn’t about exalting the man or serving him. It’s not about him at all. Her help contributes to both of them alongside, together, achieving a greater and a nobler and an eternal purpose that is far bigger and more significant than their own existence.

What does the woman help man do? She helps him image God and tell the gospel story. She struggles alongside for the same purpose for which he struggles. She helps him fulfill his purpose. And what is his purpose? Glorifying God.

In the end this is not about male and female. We're just the image, we're just the picture. This is about the glory of Jesus Christ and the glory of the gospel. We women help men achieve the purpose of exalting the jaw-dropping magnificence of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I help my husband, Brent, I'm a helper to him. I help alongside him. The two of us together are to image and model the gospel story. When people look at it, if we are doing it in the correct way, they will go, "Wow!" Which is what they do a lot of the time, not all of the time. But a good part of the time they go, "How can I have a marriage like yours? How can I find a guy that will treat me like your man treats you?"

When we live according to the glory of God's plan, we exalt Jesus and we exalt the gospel.

The female point number ten: Defer to the male. "The Lord God brought her to the man and said, 'She shall be called woman because she was taken out of man'" (Gen. 2:23).

I think the first male and the first female intuitively knew how to behave. He knew what it meant to be a man, and she knew what it meant to be a woman. So when the Lord presented the bride to groom, the man spontaneously broke into this poem. It is an incredible poem. He grasps the nature of their relationship. And he names her. He takes the initiative to lead, right off the bat.

She joyfully responds with deference. For both of them, it was the natural and a beautiful thing to do. When God presented Adam to Eve, you don't see Eve taking charge and saying, "Hey, you're not naming me! What do you think you're doing, naming me? I'll name myself, thank you very much!" No, she was delighted. It was intuitive and natural to respond to that. That was how she was wired. She was wired to do that.

Now, of course, sin has bent our wiring a little bit, has it not? So we need to fight against the bending of sin to get the wiring back in the right place.

When I talk about this deference and this receptivity and this responsiveness of woman, I believe I am talking of who God created you to be.

I know that as I have walked this path of understanding true womanhood, starting back when I became a Christian and then through my teens, I grew up in the thick of the feminist movement. I had to learn and unlearn a lot things.

Quite frankly, the idea of being the kind of woman that it talked about in Scripture: a woman who deferred to her husband, that was not all that attractive to me. It scared me a little bit. As I grew into that and said, "I'm going to take God at His Word. I'm going to walk in it and believe Him to be trustworthy and true." I actually found that like one lady described it to me, I found I became more "Mary" than ever before. I became more of who I am. It fits, and it feels good.

Submission becomes a problem when either Brent is being unreasonable, or when I am struggling with pride and sin in my life. The rest of the time it just feels good. If I am walking under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I delight to be who God created me to be. It isn't something I am bucking and fighting all the time because as I'm conformed into the image of Christ, it becomes more and more a part of my character and part of the essence of who I am.

So I just want to say that to encourage you women who are struggling with it who know that it is a struggle against sin. But it is a struggle that is not forever, and it is not something that will violate your personality. It will bring out your personality more.

If you are an exuberant, opinionated person, then you will be a godly exuberant, opinionated person. The Lord does not violate our personalities. He brings out the true beauty of who we were created to be and redeems it for the glory of His kingdom.

Point eleven: The female was the male’s perfect counterpart.

When Adam laid his eyes on the woman, he broke into an exuberant and spontaneous poem. “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman [Ishsha] because she was taken out of man [Ish]” (Gen. 2:23).

The first man called himself Ish and the woman Ishsha, and this appears to be a very clever and very profound play on words. It's a pun, almost. Ish comes from the root meaning “strength,” and  Ishsha comes from the root meaning “soft.” So the man is looking at this creation and he's going, "Wow! Now I know where to put my strength. I know the place that will be joyful to receive it.”

The implication becomes clear when we observe the biblical meaning of a man’s strength. The Hebrew root word is virility and is commonly associated with the wisdom and strength and vitality of a successful warrior. "Now I know who I get to fight for, who I get to protect, who I get to look out for, who I get to serve, who I will die for. Now I see her."

The woman's softness, this responder, relater. The bodies of male and female reflect this idea of complementary and distinction. A man’s body is built to move toward, and a woman’s body is built to receive a man. God stamped it even on our physical flesh. But I think it is a distinction to goes to the totality of who we are as women. Man was created to actively and joyfully initiate and give, and the woman was created to actively and joyfully respond and receive. She’s the soft one. She receives in the right way. She initiates through her softness, through the right thing to respond to.

We both need these parts to our character. A man's strength is undergirded by his softness of heart. But there is a difference in the way it shows up in male and female.

The woman was created to be the receiver and the responder and the relater. That's why I think women are so tuned into relationships. We are created to relate and to receive relationally. So we are very relationally tuned in.

We draw our sense of self a lot more from the success of our relationships than from the work we do. You can just see in culture as a whole how this difference shows up in male and female. A man draws his sense of self more from his work and a woman more from her relationships. That's who God created us to be. He created us with this complementary bent that we see working so beautifully together.

Point number twelve: The female was created in the garden

A final but highly significant observation is that female, the softer one, the more vulnerable one, the one who is relationally more vulnerable . . . When I say vulnerable, I don't mean weak. I mean sensitivity of spirit, a very tender heart. That's a beautiful thing. God created this beautiful one, this vulnerable in the Garden, in a place of safety.

She was created in the Garden and was already under the protective authority of her husband to be. The male leaves the protective sphere of his household to become the protector of a new household, Genesis 2:24. The Bible never shows the woman leaving. She’s always under the constant protection from the authorities that God has put in her life. The Lord wanted to make sure that the woman, the final, soft, delicate, masterpiece of creation would always be loved and cherished and kept safe.

These are beautiful images that we long for, that our hearts long for. When we see a woman that is not being loved, cherished, and kept safe, something has gone wrong. It isn't according to God's design. That's His plan for women. We are so precious, we are so important, we are so valuable to His plan.

It's breathtaking to think what this relationship between this first couple must have looked like. I don't even know if we can begin to imagine it. It's more staggering to think that even the best romance on earth is just a shadow of the cosmic romance to which it points, and that God wants all of us to be part of that greater storyline, the cosmic romance between Christ and His Bride. 

Whether you are young or old, whether you are single, happily married, unhappily married, divorced, struggling with questions of personal identity, whether you’ve been confused by womanhood, whether you’ve been hurt by men, whatever your situation, God invites you to say “yes” to Him and to begin to experience the reality to which these symbols point.

Our hearts yearn for romance, to be loved in the way we want to be loved. God wired us that way. These symbols of marriage and sex and male and female ultimately have very little to do with us and very much to do with Him and very much to do with the story of the gospel.

As our time wraps up, I want to emphasize just three thoughts.

The first thought is thisGod has a spectacular design for your womanhood. This overview of Genesis shows that He has a pattern for who He created you to be as a woman and it is very beautiful. It's spectacular. It's amazing. His plan for you is very beautiful. It is very good. It’s very profound, very significant, because He's created you to tell the story, to tell His story.

Number two: God wants you to say “yes” to His design. He wants you to recognize the ways in which you’ve messed up your life because you thought you knew what you were doing and were too stubborn to read or follow His directions.

Saying “yes” to true womanhood isn’t about accepting a cookie-cutter pattern or list. We can't hand out a checklist and go, "Check, I wear my hair this way. Check, my skirt is this long. Check, I spend this amount of time baking cookies for my kids." It's not about a checklist. Everybody wants a list, but the Bible doesn't give us one because the Lord wants us to display this in diversity of our personalities and diversity of who He created us to be.

I, for one, am not interested in promoting another false cultural ideal of womanhood. True womanhood is a woman who says “yes” to God and His right to be God. 

I am a true woman when I acknowledge that it is not me but my Creator who has the best insight into who I am and how I should live. He made the pattern. He made the design. When I follow His design, I'm going to get it right. If I don't follow His design, I'm going to mess up.

Point number three: God will do an amazing work of restoration.

Last year, after a lengthy intensive restoration project, one of the greatest masterpieces of the Italian renaissance was restored to its original splendor. It's in the gallery in Florence now. This particular painting went through a real rough history. 

It was painted in 1505 by Raphael. I went through an earthquake and the painting was shattered into several different pieces. It was covered with dust and grime from the earthquake. There was another artist who tried to put it back together. He put in some long iron nails and blocks of wood and then he tried to paint over it to cover over the cracks and make it look whole again. But it really was not in great shape. 

There was a  contemporary restoration project that took this painting and took the shattered areas and pieced them together just right and removed all those layers of paint and grime that had accumulated over the years. It was a massive undertaking. It took fifty people ten years of working on this painting, but they restored it. The result is stunning. The cracks are gone. The veneers and patches have been stripped away, and the finished product glows with all the rich reds and blues, and all the beautiful colors it was intended to have.

Given how badly it was damaged, the restoration of this painting is arguably even more amazing than the painting itself. The original was splendid, but the miracle of restoration compounds the beauty.

When the story came up in the news, I thought, Wow. That is an amazing parallel there. The spiritual parallel is amazing. Tragically, because of sin and because we live in such a fallen world the design of who God created us to be has been really messed up. It's gone through an earthquake. It's shattered a little bit. Maybe you've tried to piece together to bits of you life. We try to cover it up with veneers and we add more grime and dirt and it doesn't quite get dealt with until we submit our hearts and lives to Jesus Christ, and He does an amazing work of restoration. 

The good news of the gospel is that Jesus has the power to restore the damage. There is no damage in your life that cannot be restored by Him. It may take a little bit of work on His part. It may take a few years of Him chipping and pealing away those layers and cleaning you up and piecing you back together. But if you turn to Him, you are going to make progress and your life will become more and more beautiful as a woman who He created you to be. God has an amazing work He wants to do in your life.

Think about these things, ponder them, talk to your husband about them.  This is not to take and go, "Hey, you're not doing what you are supposed to be doing." This is for going, "God change me."

Women who are yearning for that true womanhood, that true marriage look in their marriage. Women come and ask me to pray for their husbands, and I'll do that. But I normally end up praying for them.

I believe that true manhood is restored and will be restored in response to true womanhood. As we begin live out the beauty of God's design in our lives, it will impact the men around us, because we are tremendous influencers.

God's beautiful design for you is actually not about you, it's about Him. It's about the glory of the gospel. For His glory and for the furtherance of His kingdom.

Heavenly Father, I pray for these women. We are talking about messages that are very counter-cultural. Sometimes we just bristle at them as we don't understand them, or we have been programmed to react negatively to these things. Father, forgive us for thinking that You favor one sex over the other. Forgive us for thinking the position of one sex is greater than the other. Forgive us for thinking that it is even about us.

Father, we want to surrender our lives to You and come away with a fresh understanding that this is not about us. This is about the gospel of Jesus Christ and His amazing work of restoration—restoring His creation to the original design. We ask you, as the master artist to take out Your tools and do a work on our hearts and our lives.

Work on my heart where I am filled with pride, arrogance, or rebellion. Work on my heart where I am not responsive or receptive and where I just want to stick in my heels and be loud and wayward. Lord, I pray that You will work on the hearts of every woman in this room. Transform us into more of who You created us to be for the sake of Your glory, in Jesus' name, amen.

Nancy: Amen. My friend Mary Kassian has been showing us as women why embracing God’s design is so important for us. It’s about bringing God glory.  It’s about displaying the truth and the picture of the gospel. For the last three days, Mary has shown us why God-given manhood and womanhood is so important.   

Mary’s written a book that will help you live out this message in a practical way, day by day. The book is called Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild.  It will show you how to approach many different aspects of life as a wise woman living in a complex and messed up world, and how to live out God’s unique purpose for your life.

Girls Gone Wise will show you why it’s so important to be discerning in a world that is full of lies. It will show you:

  • how to wisely interact with men—both married and single
  • how your wardrobe affects others around you
  • how to approach success and stuff
  • and many, other helpful topics.

This book has been a big blessing and challenge in my own walk with the Lord. It's been a joy for me to lead a group of young women through this study. I really wish that every woman listening to Revive Our Hearts would get a copy of this book, read it, and share it with others.

When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’ll send you Girls Gone Wise. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or donate by phone. The number is 1–800–569–5959. When you call or go online with your gift, be sure to ask for a copy of Mary's book, Girls Gone Wise.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. 

A declaration can be powerful. Just look at the founders of the United States who put their life on the line to sign the Declaration of Independence. On Monday hear why making a declaration can also be powerful in building God's kingdom.

Please be back, for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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