Revive Our Hearts Radio

Communication and Community

Leslie Basham: Karen Loritts says we all need to have an Elizabeth in our lives. Here’s what she means.

Karen Loritts: We all need to find some woman in your life that’s going to hold your feet to the fire. She will invest time, energy, her wisdom and hold you accountable.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, July 31.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: “Friend” has taken on a new meaning in a world influenced by social media.  It’s often used to describe someone who you barely know, who follows your life at a safe distance, communicating by clicking a “like” button.

Yesterday, Karen Loritts gave us a far richer portrait of friendship. She described a community of women who will encourage you, challenge you and stick with you through the most difficult of times.  

I'm so thankful to have a community like that in my life. I couldn't imagine living the Christian life without the encouragement and help I get from that group of women.

Karen’s no stranger to Revive Our Hearts listeners. She’s a pastor’s wife. Both she and her husband Crawford have spoken at a number of True Woman conferences. That’s where she delivered the message we’ll hear today.

If you missed any of part one of this series, you can hear it at ReviveOurHearts.com. As we finished, Karen was describing one of the disciplines she’s trying to develop in order to be a good friend. She’s trying to hold her tongue and refrain from cutting others down with her words. Wow! So important.

We’ll pick back up as Karen describes the ways we can use our words to build up one another in community.

Karen: So, what are some of the Scriptures that we could import into communication? First Thessalonians 5:11—encourage. “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” How can you encourage a friend? God has blessed you to have this friend. You must now encourage one another.

The second thing is to pray. James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another.” That means you have a level of trust that this person loves you and is committed to you and will hold a confidence.

Now, out of our fourteen friends, there’s a core of about three to five of them that I will just immediately think, “I need to call them on this.” If I was thinking right, instead of being so self-centered and prideful when I was going through my emotional meltdown, I would have called one of these three to five ladies and said, “Will you pray for me, because I am not feeling it? I am hurting. I’m scared about my mammogram. I’m scared about the doctor’s report. I’m scared about being alone in the house. I hear the walls actually breathing. Will you pray for me? Will you come over for me?” They would do that and hold my confidence. So, pray.

Communication means to encourage. I communicate by praying, confessing to each other. Ephesians 5:19 says, “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to God.”

I also want you to jot down Ephesians 4:15: “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” I like the idea of communication, but also courage.

It takes courage to be able to have a girlfriend come to you—she’s invested a lot of her time, the same thing with you—that you can speak and tell them the truth. I don’t want somebody to come and tell me what I don’t need to know, or they just want to say it; they’re a “yes” girl. I want someone who is going to be bold enough to say, “Karen, you’re screwing up. Act right. Stop whining. Stop making all kinds of excuses. Enough is enough.” I need somebody to tell me that. Now I like all the other ringing and twisting, but I want one of my girlfriends who I can trust to speak the truth to me. That takes courage to do that. It takes courage to be able to speak the psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with melody, being led by the Holy Spirit, but I also want you to speak the truth to me in love.

Do you do that to your friends? Are you a good girlfriend? Communication is really, really key. Don’t use your hormones to give you an excuse. Out of all the four weeks in a month, there’s really one week that everything’s okay. That's not biblical! There’s no place in the Bible where it says there’s one time in the month that you’re allowed to be spiritual, making melody, and love, and honor and be kind. Not in my Bible anyway—I don’t know what version you may have. But God says trust Him with all the other three weeks in the month, so that you will be able to give and receive truth with courage. You understand what I’m saying?

It takes commitment, good communication, forgiveness, and reconciliation. You be a blessing, and the word I would put down is be gracious.

I want to be one of these ladies, should God tarry and I’m still around when I’m maybe seventy or eighty, that people still want to be around me. We have some old, cranky women that no one wants to be around. I want to be around and my kids would still want to call me. I may not be able to talk right, but they would still want to be around me, because I’m not whining and griping about every ache and pain. We’re always going to have aches and pains. I get out of bed now, and I have to shake my body down—get this leg moving and that hill, and all this—but I don’t want to be that old woman that people want to stick in a corner somewhere.

My girlfriends should have given up on me a long time ago, because every time at the retreat I’m whining and complaining about nothing. Everybody’s got aches and pains. Nothing’s going right, but they still love me. I want to grow old gracefully.

So, communicate—be gracious. It will not hurt you. I promise it won’t hurt.

We looked at commitment and communication/courage, and we want to look at community. Community, as we look at that, as we establish a relationship, we strengthen the relationship by talking right and by being right and doing all those right things. Community involves nurturing the relationship—fellowship. 

There’s one thing that women do well—we like to celebrate anything. We just enjoy getting around on nothing but sipping coffe. Listen, men would not have a good time here at this conference. If this was a true man’s conference, first of all, their seats wouldn’t be as close—they would be in every other seat. They would never want to stand in line for the bathrooms and just chit-chat and talk. We love it. God made us that way. We love that fellowship together. We need each other.

We need each other when we have to go through some of these surgeries we may have to go through. What better than to have a woman who loves you, a girlfriend who loves you, who’s going to bring over that same old casserole—perpetrated as “I made this meal”— put it in a different dish, and take it to my friends when they are having surgery. We love stuff like that. We are community. We love fellowship.

But what are some of the things we can import as we nurture this relationship? First of all, let me give you the two “T’s.” Nurturing a relationship takes time, and it takes trust. We need to allow our girlfriends to invade our space. Some of us are just too tight—we don’t want anybody in. But the long distance relationships, those who are going to cross the finish line with you, are going to be those girlfriends you have invested time and you have entrusted with much. Your best friend will criticize you privately but encourage you publically. Best friends take a lot of time. It takes a lot of time.

We’ve been friends for thirty-some years, but we only get together once a year. We talk throughout the year with various groups of us, but once we get together it’s like we haven’t missed each other. I was on my way to do a conference in Mexico, and I was changing planes in Houston when I got a call on my cell that one of my best friend’s—one of “The Stones’”—daughter, who was twenty-six years old and had juvenile diabetes, had died. They wanted us to be a part of the celebration of Jessica’s home going.

For my friend, this was the second child she had lost. She lost her first, Remington, to heart problems. He was five months old and died on the operating table, and now Jessica had died. Her son Jonathan was serving his fifth year incarcerated. This is a woman who loves life and loves God, yet God had called two of her children home, and through no fault of her own, her son was in jail—there was an incredible amount of grief in that family, but she was such an encouragement to us. That time she ministered to us. She said, “We’re just going to wait and have this celebration when all seven of us can get together and give Jessica the celebration.”

Community, nurturing the relationship—that came over time. It didn’t happen overnight, but she could entrust the burial of her daughter to her precious friends. We were her pallbearers.

What other things can we import in community? Community, friends, we serve one another. Galatians 5:13 says, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

How can you meet your friends’ needs? When Remington, at five months, was in the hospital, looking at having open heart surgery, we went down to the Ronald McDonald House and just had a laughing good time—serving her when she couldn’t serve herself. At that time she was the mother of ten, so she left a big part of the responsibility to us for the other children. But while she was in the midst of watching her baby have to go through open heart surgery, we stepped in and served where she needed served. Wash other people’s clothes. I don’t do so much ironing, but even Karen can iron. Allowing another woman to come into your house and clean your house. Mmmmm, that’s a big one. Serving one another.

Community also involves burdens. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” Now, we’re not saying that you carry and take their burdens from them. They carry their own burden, but you can walk beside them and offer them the help and the hope, even in the midst of crisis when they can’t carry it themselves. You don’t say, “I understand how you’re feeling, Vivian,” because I didn’t understand. Her twenty-six-year-old daughter dead—I didn’t understand that. But what I can say is, “My heart breaks for you, and I’m here to bear your burden with you, whatever I can carry with you.”

Another area is Ephesians 5:21. It says, “Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” Community means as we get together that we mutually honor and respect and submit to one another as we fear Christ. That is what we’re called to do.

Two more—Romans 15:7 says acceptance. “Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.” Accept one another. Out of my fourteen girlfriends, there are some who are completely different. They are not like I am. We don’t have the same gifts and talents and abilities, but I accept them as God-created gifts to my life. Do you do that? Do you accept your girlfriends?

The last one. First Thessalonians 5:13—peace. Paul says, “Live in peace with one another.” Be at peace with one another, not having a bunch of strife and arguments all the time. That could be a hint that there’s something amiss in the relationship. But be at peace with one another. Don’t be able to go to your friends and just unleash a bunch of toxic waste all over a person.

Have you ever had a friend—little “f”—or acquaintance that every time you see them you want to run the other way because you know you’re going to be dumped on like a dump truck? “Come here, I need to dump all this stuff on you.” You feel so yucky—you wish they’d just leave the neighborhood. Or you may have a family member—“If they could just leave the family.” No, not really, but we could be at peace with one another because peace resides with me.

Are you a peaceable person to be with? We women, we always get a bad rap on stuff. You read through the book of Proverbs—like being in the desert where the women are just whining and dripping, like being in the desert on the top of a roof. We get a bad rap, but it’s true. There is nothing like a woman who is always kicking up stuff. She’s never happy; she always has something that she wants to dump on you. That’s not a real girlfriend. Get rid of the toxic waste.

Some of us, like I said, need to get rid of some of those bloodsuckers, those barnacles. Figure out which person over the course of several years has meant you no good, that God has been whispering that you need to move to the next level spiritually, but this person seems to be holding you back like a kite. They just won’t let you go. You need to get rid of them.

Now we talked about developing these friendships, but there’s something that you need to have in your life beyond these friends. I call them the Elizabeth, the Mary, and the Martha crew. Now, the Elizabeth person is an older woman.

One of the great things that happened to me when we moved from Dallas, Texas, to Atlanta, Georgia, was that I had an Elizabeth. I wasn’t raised in a Christian home, and so I was pitiful. I was so pitiful. I knew nothing about it. The only thing I knew was I loved this man, and he was a minister, but he was born and raised in an intact family—a mother and a father. He had a mother who just loved her husband.

She was like June Cleaver or Claire Huxtable. I’m serious. His mom had white pearls and an apron on, and then me—teenage, single parent, welfare. I got saved. We met in college, and God had a laughing good time putting us together. And so you had these two different backgrounds coming together. It was like the collision of two mighty steamships coming together, and so I needed help.

I love my husband, but he was a man’s man, and I was raised to be self-sufficient, but I knew that wasn’t God’s way. God had called me to this. He had saved me, and now I was going to be the first in my family to walk and talk the Bible. So, I needed help.

When I got to this church, Sister Ponder sort of scoped me out. I think it was my body language. You don’t have to say anything, your husband doesn’t have to say anything; it’s this body language that’s saying, “I don’t care what you say, I’m not going to do it today.” So, she must have scoped me out. I don’t know if it was my body language that gave me away, but she came up to me and introduced herself. She said, “I’m so glad that you’re here, and welcome to Atlanta, Georgia, da-da-da-da-da.” I had two little babies, a five-year-old and a nine-month-old, and she just got into my life.

That was kind of hard for me, because I said to myself, “I have a mother.” But Sister Ponder was abandoned by her husband to raise six children, and God turned her around incredibly, and so she knew something about what I was going through. She was this older woman, but she just came and made herself to sit down in my life, and she became my Elizabeth—an older woman.

She would tell me stuff that would curl your hair—in a nice way. I thought that I was talking to my husband right, but this Elizabeth in my life would say, “Oh, Karen, is there another way that . . .” and she’d just go on and say what I needed to do, and I’d be mad at her. I wouldn’t call her all that next week or not answer the phone when I knew that she was calling me, and all that kind of stuff. But we need an Elizabeth in our lives, someone that will speak into our lives.

What does this Elizabeth look like? She is an older woman. She will invest time, energy, wisdom, and will hold you accountable for maturity in Christ. We all need to find some woman in our lives who’s going to hold our seats to the fire. She will invest time, energy, her wisdom, and hold you accountable. We need an Elizabeth in our lives, and I think maybe we need maybe a couple of Elizabeths. I’ve had three. Altogether there’s been three ladies, and they were older women. They don’t have to be chronologically older, but for me that really helped out, because they were seasoned women. When they spoke, you saw God just coming off the words that they had to say, and I was able to receive it, because I was a hard head. So, we need to have an Elizabeth.

Another person we need to have in our life is a Mary. A Mary is a young person in whom we can invest our own lives, a young person to whom we can give time and energy and hold them accountable. This is some young person. Because we have been given much, we need to give much.

Then, for sure, we need a Martha. All of us need somebody who is our peer that we’re maybe in the same age group—like my Stones—we’re going through the same season in life. We’re respecting each other’s time. We give each other that time and energy, we hold each other accountable, so it’s a mutual relationship.

So, the Elizabeth is the older person, the Mary is a young person, and the Martha is a peer. Those types of things will help us mature in Christ. When we get to the finish line in life, I want to hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” I may get across the line a little raggedy, a little worn and torn, but I want to get across the finish line fulfilling what God has called me to do, and we need this other group of people to help us in this whole portrait of friendship.

Nancy: That’s my good friend Karen Loritts, and I couldn't agree more with what she's shared with us. She’s been helping us see how in true godly community we all need an Elizabeth, a Mary and a Martha . . . a mentor, a protégé, and a peer. Karen will be right back to pray.  

As you listened, did anyone come to mind as a potential mentor? Often, women are willing to mentor and encourage others, but they’re waiting to be asked. And who in your life could become a closer peer? 

And finally, is there anyone who you need to reach out to as a protégé? You have no idea how big of an impact you could have on that woman’s life. Listen, don't wait for women to reach out to you. I hope you’ll take a step in reaching out to other women and begin to develop the kind of authentic community we’ve been hearing about from Karen Loritts.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy.

Karen Loritts delivered the message you heard today at a breakout session during one of the True Woman conferences. It’s an example of the kind of authentic, practical instruction you’ll hear when you join us for True Woman this September. This year’s conference is called True Woman 12: Seeking Him Together for Spiritual Awakening.
 
I hope you’ll join Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Keith and Kristyn Getty, Bob Lepine, Janet Parshall, Priscilla Shirer, Mary Kassian, and Joni Eareckson Tada for this event. 

I hope you’ll join us September 20-22 in Indianapolis. Tickets have been going very fast, so get the details at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Bless you. It’s not just something to say after a sneeze. The concept of “blessing” is profound.  Nancy shows us why, tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Now, here’s Karen Loritts to close today’s program in prayer.

Karen: Lord, as women we just love getting together and having a good old time. I pray, Father, that all of us will take to heart the things we talked about concerning this portrait of friendship, but more so, that You would bring into all of our lives an Elizabeth, an older woman who will love on us, who will hold us accountable, who will give us that godly wisdom to help us get to the next level. We need that Martha in our lives, that girlfriend with this mutual agreement, accountability we’re investing together, we’re having this energy together, we’re helping each other get across the finish line. And then we need that young girl, that Mary. Lord, there are so many young girls who need someone to love them and be trailblazers for them. 

Lord, bring to mind those women whom we just applaud and celebrate who are in our lives, that relationships will continue to grow. We pray that we’ll have courage enough to get rid of those barnacles, those bloodsuckers that are just sucking the very life out of us. 

Lord, we want to be women who are true women of God. Lord, thank You for who You are and for what You’ve given us, and for all the things that are going to spur us on to good works. We say, “Yes, Lord,” and we thank You. Amen. God bless you. 

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

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