I got the opportunity to sit down recently with Kevin Ezell, who has been my pastor for 14 years, my boss for 8 years, and is now the new President at the North American Mission Board (NAMB). I asked him some questions about his transition to NAMB. Here is the audio of that interview where we get a glimpse of what Kevin’s heart is and what is in store for NAMB.
Interview with Ezell
Some of the questions asked are:
Baptist21 is extremely excited for the future of NAMB with Kevin at the helm. We pray that by God’s grace a multitude of gospel-centered churches will be planted across this nation in the years to come!
Guest blogged by Lindsay Swartz and Melanie Coppenger
The last session of the conference was a culmination of excitement over the Truth about womanhood being taught this weekend. Some women were hearing these truths for the first time, while other weary saints were being refreshed in the battle. Following a casual panel discussion of six women, Nancy Leigh DeMoss addressed the ladies one last time.
She began by declaring that Revive Our Hearts is not just about one True Women event, but about believing God for revival and a quiet, counter-cultural movement of true women who go into the world and live out God’s design for womanhood.
DeMoss then taught from Judges 4 and 5, giving the account of Deborah, a woman who fulfilled her God-given mission. She was not a weak or wimpy woman, but one who exerted strong, godly influence in a way that was distinctly feminine. Most notedly, she encouraged men to fulfill their God-given roles.
She explained that Judges 4:1-3 sets the stage for her story. These verses describe a cycle of Israel that is repeated at least seven times throughout the book of Judges. She used four words to describe this cycle: Disobedience, Discipline, Desperation, and Deliverance.
Once “again” in this passage, God’s covenant people abandoned Him, marking a period of spiritual apostasy, backsliding, and decline. As a result, God brought his divine discipline by giving His people over into captivity. DeMoss explained that this often takes place in our lives, homes, and churches. One of the marks of His discipline during the time of the judges was the lack of strong male leadership. She compared this to our day, stating that God has given us over to this in many respects because we, as women, have taken the reigns of control.
She pointed out that it took the Israelites 20 years to reach the point of desperation, coming to the end of themselves and crying out to the Lord in humility. She then posed the question, “How long will it take in our nation, your home, your heart?’ However, when we do cry out to God, He brings deliverance. In Israel’s case, He used Deborah, a wife and judge, to encourage male leadership that would lead Israel into victorious battle.
Several characteristics are important about Deborah. She did not neglect her home in her ministry of God’s Word. In addition, there is no evidence that Deborah sought to be a self-appointed leader. Instead, God raised her up and she used her influence to promote, encourage, and cultivate male leadership. She was not driven by a desire for power, control, position, or recognition. This is seen in her encouragement to Barak in Judges 4:14 when she asked, “Does not the Lord go out before you?” DeMoss pointed out that she could have demeaned or emasculated him, but she chose to encourage him to trust in the promises of God, instead.
DeMoss also said it is important to note that God’s normal pattern is to use men as the primary providers, protectors, and leaders for His people. The same is true for our day. Biblical womanhood is at the heart of influencing a return to this model. In fact, Pastor John Piper has said that the “heart of mature femininity is a freeing inclination to affirm, receive, and nurture leadership in worthy men.”
There is a vicious battle going on in our day over God’s design for manhood and womanhood. God has brought up Nancy Leigh DeMoss and many others to champion God’s Word on this topic. In addition, he is moving in the hearts of women across the world for such a time as this. DeMoss stated that He will move heaven and earth, if necessary, to defend His people and glorify His Name. Yet, as she reminded us, the battle comes before the rest that victory brings.
By God’s grace, our resolve is that of the hymn-writer who wrote, “Though this world with devils filled should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God has willed His truth to triumph through us!” May God be pleased to triumph his Truth through these 6,000+ women by our glad embrace of biblical femininity. We know the Word of God to be true in this battle, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6).
There were so many additional moments during the conference where the work and encouragement of God’s Spirit was obvious. In particular, were the testimonies last night of two women who have experienced God’s transforming and sustaining grace.
First, we saw a short video testimony from Kim Wagner. Mrs. Wagner, wife of LeRoy, the Pastor of Dayspring Church in Hot Spring, Arkansas, has taught in Christian schools, is a women’s Bible study teacher and conference speaker, and is a frequent panel guest on Revive Our Hearts. Nancy Leigh DeMoss said they discovered through evaluations that Wagner’s testimony was the single most impacting moment of the previous TW ’10 conference.
Mrs. Wagner is a pastor’s wife who struggled with understanding and living out true womanhood. Admittedly, she frequently gave into the temptation to belittle and disrespect her husband. In fact, it created such a struggle in their marriage that her husband sunk into a crippling depression.
But God, in His grace, opened her eyes to His design for her heart toward her husband through a small book written by Mrs. DeMoss. Her heart was immediately transformed and, over time, the trust of her husband was won back and her family was restored. Today, God’s glory in magnificently on display through the peace of Christ that reigns in their family.
As a result of this testimony, many married ladies were convicted of their sin and stood to pray, consecrating themselves to be faithful in marriage and respecting their husbands. You can view Mrs. Wagner’s full testimony here: http://www.truewoman.com/?id=1191.
In addition, we had the immense benefit of hearing from Joni Erickson Tada. Mrs. Tada is the Founder and CEO of Joni and Friends, a Christian organization that promotes ministry for the disability community. She has been a quadriplegic since a diving accident in her teens. In addition, she has struggle with chronic pain for the last several years and has recently been diagnosed with and undergoing treatment for breast cancer. As a result, Mrs. Tada was not able to join us in person, but sent a message via video.
Mrs. Tada, full of humor and gentleness, used Hebrews 12:1-4 to encouraged us to look to Jesus in the midst of our trials; we have not yet resisted sin or struggles to the point of shedding our blood. She said she remembers this truth when she feels like she is going to crack from constant suffering.
She also spurred us on to think about Ephesians 3:10, remembering that the way we respond to our pain declares something about God to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. She remembers this truth, especially at night when she feels claustrophobic because of the inability to move, and is reminded that she has a cosmic responsibility to glorify God in the midst of hardship.
Mrs. Tada’s deep joy in Christ is evident from the moment you see her. Her testimony was steeped in Scripture and full of hope in her future with Christ. Because of her love for her Savior, she has chosen to cling to and live out God’s design for true womanhood in the midst of trials that threaten to eclipse His truth. Yet, as C.S. Lewis said, her suffering is a megaphone declaring God’s perfect love and sovereignty to thousands of women.
Mrs. Wagner and Mrs. Tada’s testimonies were particularly powerful because they demonstrated to us that God’s Spirit can transform our hearts and minds, we are able to obey Him in every season, and the good fight of the faith is worth it because Christ is our reward. Praise the Lord for giving us such a faithful cloud of witnesses here on earth that helps us to press on to know and serve the Lord until we hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
The evening session began with much anticipation of what the Lord would teach us through Mary Kassian. Mrs. Kassian, who faithfully pointed us to God’s Word, is a distinguished professor of Women’s Studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of several books, including The Feminist Mistake and Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild.
Mrs. Kassian tactfully addressed the topic of “Women Gone Wild,” warning that Christian women are particularly in danger of living wild lives. In fact, she said “the world would have us believe that women going wild make the world go round.” Unfortunately, we have bought into this lie and, often, celebrate our “freedom” to be wild.
Using Proverbs 7, she pointed out marks of wildness and how they show up in our hearts and lives. This chapter, which is a wise father’s advice to his son about the type of woman he should marry, is also a tale of a woman gone wild. It is full of valuable information about the type of women we ought not to be. She shared three helpful insights from this passage that will help us to walk in the way of wisdom.
First, we see that wildness warps true womanhood. Sin targets us sex-specifically, as seen in God’s sex-specific judgments in Genesis 3, and leads us to get our womanhood wrong. Instead of being who God created us to be, we are often warped in our behavior. We present ourselves provocatively, have crafty hearts, have a clamorous disposition, live as insolent and defiant, have self-indulgent priorities, act as aggressors, depend on men for purpose, get our fix from things, have an attitude of entitlement, are non-committal, and have destructive speech habits. And, this just scratches the surface of the wickedness that has the potential to penetrate our hearts.
In addition, Mrs. Kassian pointed out that there is a powerful pull on women to go wild. Strikingly, the woman described in Proverbs 7 was a religious woman with a divided heart. The wildness we display when our hearts are impure is a rejection of God’s rule. Satan delights in this rebellion because he knows that we are powerful influencers. As a result of wildness, we promote the norms of our culture, instead of using our influence to reflect the beauty of Christ and the grace of His Bride.
Finally, Mrs.Kassian urged us to realize that being a true woman requires that we intentionally turn from being wild to wise. She posed the powerful question, “What do you think would happen if we bowed our knees and repented of every wild tendency of our hearts?”
Mary Kassian’s teaching was a timely message that must be embraced by us, as Christian women, for the sake of the legacy that we will leave behind. Our lives will bear fruit that points to someone or something. We will either dishonor our holy God by living for our own fleeting pleasures, or we will adorn the doctrine of our Savior through self-controlled, upright, and godly lives that point to the lasting joy we have in Christ and His ways.
True, wise womanhood, according to God’s design, is not about exalting womanhood, but about exalting Jesus. Oh that God would be pleased to transform our wildness, make us wise, and give us hearts that bow before Him and repent of every wild tendency. Surely then we would see revival spread through our land. Let it be, Lord Jesus.
Bob Lepine, co-host of FamilyLife Today, Vice President of Content and Chief Creative Officer at Family Life, lead a breakout session that addressed three areas of a woman’s life that can take on an unhealthy, idolatrous proportion: Food, Beauty, and Control. Taking us all the way back to Genesis 3:6, he pointed out that “the woman saw that the tree was good for food” (food), and “delightful to look at” (beauty), and that it was “desirable for obtaining wisdom” (control).
At the beginning of Genesis 3, when Satan is questioning Eve on whether or not God really did say that she couldn’t partake of the tree, what he was doing was planting a seed in Eve that says, “God wants to deprive you of good things. He’s withholding things from you.” Suddenly, what Eve couldn’t have were the things that occupied her attention. She listened to the lust of the flesh. What Eve really wants is for nothing to be off limits in life. No boundaries. No restrictions. Nobody telling her what she can and cannot do. This was the first time Eve was dissatisfied with what God had given her. She believed she would be more content in life if she partook of the fruit.
We are all in danger, Lepine warned, when you become discontented with what God has given you in life. When you pursue what God has said you can’t have, you are saying God doesn’t know best, He doesn’t care, and He’s not a loving God.
With humor and effective illustrations, Lepine provided the capacity crowd great insight on the struggles of food, beauty, and control. Food, he says, can take on proportions it was never supposed to take on in our lives. At some level, wise, healthy eating is a good thing. But for a lot of women, what you eat or don’t eat can become a problem. Your appearance (beauty) will say something about your life. How much do others opinions of your dress control you? Is your dress shaped more by the culture or the Bible?
Lepine urged the women to grasp the truth that one’s value before God has nothing to do with one’s physical appearance. The one area where physical beauty is commended and encouraged by God is in the Song of Solomon, affirming that physical beauty is something for your husband.
Control was the third and most challenging point. Lepine brought clarity to this issue by pointing out that women want to feel safe and secure. The danger is that she most often thinks that she must be the one in control to feel safe and secure. God never intended for us to be in control of our lives. Really soak that in. Isn’t it freeing and refreshing? Yet, most women think we can do a better job on our own. That, Lepine notes, is a dangerous place to be. Through our weaknesses as women, we should allow God to demonstrate His grace and through His power make us perfect, weaknesses and all, through Jesus Christ.
We make something an idol when we inflate it and ask it to become god in our lives. These three issues, food, beauty and control are all issues of idolatry. What you worship is what you will ultimately serve. What if there is an idol in your life? You identify the idol, repent, confess and then replace the idol with the living God. If you do not replace the idol, it will just resurface. Thank you Bob Lepine for addressing these sensitive issues that plague, pollute, and paralyze so many women. May there be many idols detected and replaced because of this clear and challenging breakout session.
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