Food for the SoulTweet
Posted 3/1/17 at 6:29 PM | Audra Jennings
Part 1 of an interview with Shannon Popkin,
Author of Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden
of Control from Seven Women in the Bible
Many women worry about life spinning out of control and want to be sure of a happy ending. They have a compulsion to make it all turn out just right and are willing to do almost anything to make it happen. When they realize control is slipping from their grasp, they lose control and react in anger or fear. This unbalanced pursuit of control makes those around them anxious and defensive. Author Shannon Popkin knows this struggle well. In her new book, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible (Kregel Publications), she reveals to readers the only way to find the deep security they crave is to surrender to God and entrust the outcome to Him.
Q: The title of your new book is Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible, but the initial inspiration came from your own life. When did you first realize you had a control issue?
Before I got married, I didn’t realize I was a Control Girl, probably because I could control most everything in my little life. Then I got married, and my husband was messing up all of my plans. He wanted to stay in, and I wanted to go out. He wanted to save our money, and I wanted to spend it. He wanted to get up early, and I wanted to stay up late. These were my first tastes of giving up control, and I didn’t like it. When we added children, houses, dogs and jobs to our lives, my control issues really began to mushroom. There was so much I couldn’tcontrol! God used the chaos of family life to press me to consider my heart’s unhealthy craving for control.
Q: Do you think Control Girls readily recognize their problem with control?
I didn’t. Even as I was behaving like a complete Control Girl, I didn’t see control as my problem. I thought my problem was anger. I was reading books about anger and asking my friends to pray for me. Then one day I was driving in the car, and I heard Dee Brestin on the radio talking about the “sin beneath the sin.” She said we often recognize our surface-level sins, such as anger, but we fail to connect them to the deeper sin. Then she mentioned the sin of control. In an instant, I knew this was my problem.
I’ve found my anger, anxiety and perfectionism often stem from this deep, insatiable, unhealthy craving I have for control. When I see these other things (losing my temper, trying to be seen as perfect, anxiety over safety, etc.) rising to the surface, I’ve found it’s helpful to ask, “OK, Shannon. What are you trying to control? What do you fear losing control of?”
Q: What drove you to explore other “Control Girls” in the Bible?
One day I was painting the laundry room and listening to John Piper preach a sermon on the curse in Genesis 3. He explained that when God said to Eve, “Your desire will be for your husband,” her desire would actually be a desire for control. I remember standing there on the ladder with my paintbrush in my hand, completely stunned. I, as a daughter of Eve, had been cursed with this desire for control. In one sense it was a relief to learn this because for me, it was like being diagnosed with a degenerative disease passed on from generations back. Suddenly all of my control symptoms made sense!
Then I had another thought. If I was struggling under this curse, thousands of years later, surely the first women in the Bible also struggled with control. Later, I began combing the Scriptures, looking for any evidences of this desire for control in the stories of Bible women. It turns out I didn’t have to look very far. I found these Bible women — Eve, Sarah, Hagar, Rebekah, Leah, Rachel and Miriam — all struggled with control the same way I do. They took matters into their own hands and tried to make everything turn out “right” from their own perspectives. They also made everyone (themselves included) miserable in the process.
Q: Which of your seven Control Girls of the Bible surprised you most?
Rachel. She was the favored younger sister of Leah and the beautiful girl whom Jacob worked fourteen years to have. She seemed, to me, to have a charmed life. Yet Rachel’s story was ugly from start to finish. In every scene in Scripture, Rachel is portrayed as entitled, demanding and controlling. Rachel spent her entire life fixated on trying to have more babies than her sister, which was clearly something she couldn’t control. God did finally give her one baby, but she named him Joseph, which means, “May he add.” She wasn’t content with just one baby; she wanted God to add more babies to her side of the family tree. Rachel’s life was cut short when she died giving birth to her second son.
As Rachel stressed and fretted over her family’s little maternity ward, she was oblivious to the fact God had just birthed the nation of Israel. Rachel was part of a story that was all about God and His people, yet she was making it all about herself. The nerve, right? Yet this is my struggle, too. I hijack God’s story, ignore His greater purposes and make the story all about me and my small idea for a happy ending. What surprised me about Rachel’s life was the stern warning it delivered. Rather than vying for control, God invites us to get swept up in the thrilling story we get to be part of but is all about Him.
Q: What practical advice do you have for the woman who wants to stop being a Control Girl?
Think of the Spirit’s guidance as arrows placed in your path to give direction in life. In the book, I talk about “Big Arrow” surrender, which is giving Jesus control in big, life-altering ways, such as when you first gave your life to him. Big Arrow surrender is essential, but I don’t think we can truly become Jesus Girls unless we also practice Small Arrow surrender in the seemingly insignificant moments of life. Let me suggest one Small Arrow to begin with: the tongue.
James chapter 3 compares our words to a rudder or a bridle. Our tongues are powerful and direction-setting. If we want to turn a new way, we can start with our words. As women, talking is one of the primary ways we take control, so it’s also one of the best ways to retrain our hearts to surrender control to God. If I will repeatedly, day after day and moment by moment, bite my tongue, refusing to say the controlling thing I’d liketo say and surrender to God instead, this will be absolutely transformational.
Q: You end each lesson with a meditation. What does the Bible teach us about meditation, and why is it an important aspect of giving up control?
Control Girls seem particularly resistant to change. We might readily say, “God is in control,” or, “I know this is out of my hands,” but our behavior suggests we don’t believe these things at all. I’m convinced transformation is only possible through revamping our thoughts about God and ourselves. That’s why I’ve included a meditation for each lesson. (These are also available for free download on my site.)
Meditation builds a bridge between what we say we believe and how we live. Thoughts are powerful. When we review, in a focused way, truth about God and about ourselves, we wear new grooves in our minds (Colossians 3:10 and Romans 12:2). By hitting refresh on what we know is true, we curb our controlling behavior. We ready ourselves to face the many situations we’d like to control but can’t. We posture ourselves to surrender to God, rather than caving in to our old tendency of trying to control.
Q: What other resources are available to help Control Girls hand the reigns back to God?
At shannonpopkin.com, you can download my Meditation Cards, which are arranged by chapter. I also have an adult coloring book available, titled Reflections on Surrender. My friend Janyre Tromp did all of the original artwork in this lovely book. We hope that as you fill the pages with color, you’ll also fill your heart with each page’s message of truth about control, ourselves and God.
Shannon Popkin is a writer, speaker and Bible teacher who combines her gifts for humor and storytelling with her passion for Jesus. She is a regular contributor for the Revive Our Hearts’ True Woman blog and author of the book Control Girl. Popkin and her husband live the fast-paced life of parenting three teens in Michigan.
A Barna Research study indicates that a majority of Christians do not believe Satan is a living being, yet in the same study, 69% of Christians do believe that people can be under the influence of demons or evil spirits. It is this dichotomy of beliefs among Christians that author, speaker, and radio host Eric Barger says is creating a generation of young people who are unaware of the concepts of evil and spiritual warfare, and are subsequently, falling under demonic influences. In his latest book, “Disarming the Powers of Darkness: Fearless Conquerors in Spiritual Warfare” (Aneko Press), Barger says that Christians today are often ill-equipped to know how to handle blatant Satanic activity in our culture.
“In a church culture replete with ‘feel good’ sermons that are often light on substance, many Christians are unaware of the Bible’s emphasis on this life-long spiritual struggle,” says Barger, who co-wrote the book with David Benoit. “Others have a mistaken, unrealistic desire to be permanently immune from knowing about, being subject to, or participating in spiritual warfare. The fact is, as long as we’re here on earth, we are going to be in the arena of spiritual warfare. And not enough pastors today are willing to give their congregations the tools necessary to deal with a culture that is saturated in the occult.” FULL POST
In her book, “Six Pairs of Sandals: Yesterday’s Footsteps and Today’s Women’s Ministry,” author and speaker Dr. Deborah Waterbury highlights six women in the bible who personified the qualities of leadership. She also addresses specific areas of need for women to minister to other women within every local church, something she feels has been greatly lacking.
“In the last 10 years of working with women, particularly women in local churches, it has been sad to see how many churches are abdicating the ministry of women within their confines,” says Dr. Waterbury, who founded Love Everlasting Ministries in 2007. “Often it’s a matter of methodology, but just as often it is a matter of scarcity. Too many women either feel they are spiritually inadequate or that they simply lack the gifts necessary to minister to one another in their own home churches. I designed the book so that the reader can read a biblical example of each of the six broad categories of women ministering to women (teaching, prayer, mentoring, service, ministry leader, and small group leader), surmise which of those women she is most like, and then give her a list of practical ways she can step out and begin ministering to the women in her church in that way.” FULL POST
Q: As someone who has been performing in public schools for over two decades, what changes have you seen take place in children in attitude, character or other traits?
A: I don't know that there has been a dramatic change in elementary age children—as far as their response to my shows. Kids love to laugh. Some parents like to laugh—but many have forgotten how. Since the beginning of my school events, creating a connection between parents and kids has been a huge joy for me. Many parents don't see their children "belly laugh" very often—except for the occasional TV show or movie. Children are (mostly) honest and loving. Since the start of my career performing for families, I have seen children with hard hearts. Many times, I've seen those hearts melt through the fun and laughter. Since the beginning, I've been honored to take on a sort of "crazy uncle" role. Unfortunately, many kids don't see their dad in a loving, fun, role. It seems sometimes when a man becomes a father his psyche changes—and now as provider—he is scared just to be himself with his children. It may be difficult for some men to be a bit vulnerable, open and honest. As a father myself, I have to remind myself often just how much my kids adore me, and my role in guiding, nurturing and directing them is vastly important. FULL POST
Posted 1/27/17 at 1:50 PM | Audra Jennings
Many women worry about life spinning out of control and want to be sure of a happy ending. They have a compulsion to make it all turn out just right and are willing to do almost anything to make it happen. When they realize control is slipping from their grasp, they lose control and react in anger or fear. This unbalanced pursuit of control makes those around them anxious and defensive. Author Shannon Popkin knows this struggle well. In her new book, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible (Kregel Publications), she reveals to readers the only way to find the deep security they crave is to surrender to God and entrust the outcome to Him. FULL POST
Posted 1/5/17 at 11:41 AM | Audra Jennings
Part 2 of an interview with Letitia Suk,
Author of Getaway with God: The Everywoman's Guide to Personal Retreat
Does spending time with God sound like just one more thing to check off an ever-increasing to-do list? How are you supposed to fit in anything that threatens to be more time-consuming? Too often there's simply no room to experience the intimacy, grace, and peace that God offers us.
In Getaway with God, Letitia Suk does more than invite readers to step away from life's pressures to take a personal retreat. It shows you exactly why you must --- for your sake and for your family's.
With grace and warmth, Suk provides step-by-step guidance and the necessary tools to enable any woman on any budget to plan time away, whether it's a quick, half-day break or a weeklong time of restoration.
Q: Why does everyone need to take the time to go on a retreat alone? FULL POST
Posted 12/29/16 at 5:15 PM | Audra Jennings
Part 2 of an interview with Tanika Fitzgerald, author of
Miscarried Joy: Moving Beyond Incredible Pain to Extraordinary Faith
Faith over Fear. Patience over Frustration. Pain with a Purpose.
In Miscarried Joy (Nyree Press), Tanika transparently shares her deeply personal and disappointing experiences of losing her babies due to miscarriage. There were times when she felt God was the cause of her pain. However, her journey through the lives of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth and Naomi, revealed quite the opposite --- God had allowed her pain for a much greater purpose. Each of these women had something in common: they learned to surrender their will and trust God's plan beyond the pain. They were pushed to a posture of prayer that led them from questioning God to have total confidence in Him. Tanika discovered that this season of waiting didn't show up simply to challenge her, but to change her. FULL POST
Posted 12/27/16 at 11:06 AM | Audra Jennings
Part 2 of an interview with Marlo Schalesky,
Author of Waiting for Wonder
It's easy to believe God when a promise is new. It's hard when the years pass and nothing changes. It's even harder when desperation strikes, your plans backfire, and still God does not fill the emptiness. But what if, in this waiting, God is calling us to more?
Join author Marlo Schalesky on a unique, contemplative journey to reveal the wonder that is often missed when we find ourselves struggling to wait well in her new book, In Waiting for Wonder: Learning to Live on God's Timeline (Abingdon Press). Walking through the life of the biblical character Sarah, one who knows what it means to wait, you will discover a glimpse of God's character that will give you strength to keep hoping and praying for the desires of your heart.
Q: You say walking with Sarah, Abraham's wife, will help us learn to live on God's timetable. Why do you think Sarah, given all of her mistakes, should be our guide for waiting well with God? FULL POST
Posted 12/20/16 at 11:06 AM | Audra Jennings
Part 2 of an interview with Amelia Rhodes,
Author of Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Pray for Your Community
When faced with more prayer requests than she could count, Amelia Rhodes realized how often she was failing to follow through on praying for others long-term. She longed to participate fully in lifting up those around her rather than simply offering quick, fly-by prayers as she learned of needs. Rhodes sought the Lord's guidance and help with being more disciplined in her prayer life, and an idea started to take root in her heart. "I realized how many people I knew were struggling with the same types of things - adoptions, cancer, marriages. The idea of praying by topic seemed natural, and then I decided to see if I could make an A to Z list of all the needs and struggles facing our communities today," Rhodes explains.
Rhodes' new book, Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Pray for Your Community (Worthy Inspired) helps readers get a better handle on the prayer needs of those around them. Covering matters such as abuse, depression, hunger, persecution and more, Rhodes helps readers categorize requests into manageable groups. Each letter of the alphabet covers five topics, the first three of which are for prayers of petition asking God to work in a certain area of one's life. The last two topics for each letter offer opportunity for praise, acknowledging God's character and His work. FULL POST
Posted 12/16/16 at 3:17 PM | Audra Jennings
A practical guide to pray for your community
Amelia Rhodes helps readers focus their prayers on the needs of those around them
A text from a friend. An urgent phone call from a family member. An announcement at church. Maybe even a share on social media or story from the news. Many needs surrounding us require prayer. Each request is valuable and worthy of time before the Father, but the sheer number of them can be overwhelming. In
Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Pray for Your Community (Worthy Inspired/November 15, 2016/ISBN 978-1617957451/$14.99), author Amelia Rhodes helps readers topically organize their prayer requests and lay the burdens of their community at the feet of the Heavenly Father.
When faced with more prayer requests than she could count, Rhodes realized how often she was failing to follow through on praying for others long-term. She longed to participate fully in lifting up those around her rather than simply offering quick, fly-by prayers as she learned of needs. Rhodes sought the Lord's guidance and help with being more disciplined in her prayer life, and an idea started to take root in her heart. "I realized how many people I knew were struggling with the same types of things - adoptions, cancer, marriages. The idea of praying by topic seemed natural, and then I decided to see if I could make an A to Z list of all the needs and struggles facing our communities today," Rhodes explains. FULL POST