Anna Sofia and Elizabeth discuss some of single women's biggest questions about fruitfulness and joyfulness during the single season.

Welcome right off the bat This is a women's only session. Sorry If you're a man, you've got to leave. Okay now I do have some little grandchildren here, you know but I'm and who are males, but I'm gonna let them stay but if you're a man you got to leave because we're not comfortable putting men under the authoritative teaching of women. The Bible tells me so. So there you have it.

The men who are with the Botkins, like brothers and things like that, they can stay. They can stay, okay, because they're producing this thing. So that's the way I'm going to cut it. Okay, sorry. I know, I'm going to stay.

This is my meeting. So let me tell you a few things about this session first of all I am so delighted that this session is happening maybe you don't know this but you know I have been collaborating with these bot consisters and working together on these issues for 15 years. We have been in many conferences together. I don't know how many father daughter retreats we did and we cast these very same visions. Vision really hasn't changed but learning about it has modified over the years that's this is the way that God works God sanctifies his people he takes them through experiences they learn more the great thing about being a Christian is you get to learn more And God's mercy is new every morning for you.

And I have really been so delighted from beginning to end, if today is the end, which it isn't, to work with these women. They are some of the wisest women I've ever met. When we talk I learn. I use their life, they're a little bit like my wife, I learn from these very wise women. These are women who've grappled with all the tough issues that women have to grapple with as women, number one, As women living in their parents household They've honored their father and their mother I've watched them do that for years and their parents have loved them and tried to Care for them in a godly way the best they knew how that's all parents have they All you have is the best you know how.

And every kid sort of is a victim of the best you got, you know, which isn't all that great sometimes. And that's the way God ordered it. He didn't order a perfect world for his people to grow up in. He ordered a world to save sinners. And we should be thankful for that.

I'm really grateful that these women are here to speak to you. And I've heard them speak many, many times, And I have always cherished the things that they have spoken from 15 years ago to today. And we've had a lot of conversations even recently. And I've just been so delighted to hear their meditations over the last few years to consider the struggles that they've had over the years, the thoughts, the modifications. You know, they were bold enough to write down what they thought and I'm so glad they did.

And it's been a blessing to many. And it's actually been a difficult thing. They've been slandered severely by women and men. And it's tragic that people would be slandered for giving their whole heart to try to be faithful to the Lord. And that's exactly what they've done.

So I don't like their slanders at all. I'm one of their fans. And these women did everything that they could in the years that I've known them to use every ounce of their energy for the kingdom of God and they they really have tried to work for the prosperity of their home that was absolutely the right thing to do. And they're still doing it. And they're learning how to broaden as they've grown over the years.

They've matured and I think they've matured beautifully. I'm just seeing them being very fruitful, you know in the years that they're in now Another thing I really like about these girls is that they know how to use every power tool you can find at Lowe's There you go, And they can play about any musical instrument you might bring up here. And they're cheerful, and they're doing with their lives what the Lord has laid in their hands. And that's really all you can do. You can only do what God has put in your hands.

And I'm just so thankful to see women who do that. I'm gonna stop gushing right now, okay? It's over. And I wanna pray, but I'm so delighted in this session that we're having it now, and I look forward to more. So let's pray.

Father, how thankful we are that it's you who are the sovereign king of the universe, how you set men and women who are but dust in the world. And in their fallenness, you take them up in your everlasting arms and you carry them all the way through their lives from beginning to end. You're so faithful, you're so kind. Thank you for all of your laws. Thank you for all of the precepts that you have given us to live by.

Lord we fall short in so many ways in every one of your precepts And we are at the same time so thankful for your mercy. But oh Lord, here we are in your hands to obey you in your holy word. And I just pray that you would use this for the encouragement, for the blessing, for the correction, for the prosperity of your kingdom in these next few minutes. Amen. Wow, Thank you, Mr.

Brown. All right, so ladies, first off, how many of you were in our talk the other morning for the singles conference? OK, that's Great. So Anna and I deliberately came into this conference not having prepared a talk beforehand, but instead deciding that we were going to try to talk to as many young women as possible and try to see what are the big burdens and questions on all of your hearts. And then try to just go through and give some time to talking about those issues.

And we'll also leave a lot of time for Q&A. So basically our comments are going to be just an amalgamation of, like it's not a talk on one theme, it's just, all right, now let's have some thoughts on this, let's have some thoughts on this. It's going to be very casual. If we say something as we're going along that makes no sense or is terribly confusing, please feel free to raise your hand, although like I said, we're going to mostly try to do Q and A after we're done with our comments. But if we say something that is very confusing, I don't want anybody to be terribly confused until the end.

Also, please be writing down questions as our comments go along for the end. Do you have anything on that? As Mr. Brown mentioned, we've been talking about these issues, writing about these issues for about 15 years, and have learned firsthand just how different it is to be a single woman in your 30s than it is to be a single woman in your teens. And it's been a humbling journey, too, because there were some things that we believed and said very authoritatively in our teens that we've come to realize that was actually not correct or that was oversimplistic or things like that.

So you'll hear us reference some of those things as we go along. For those of you who are not in our first talk, I'm going to give you a very quick rundown on the ground that we covered there, because some of the comments that we're going to be making today are like follow-up comments on those things. So one of the first points we made, basically we were trying to lay out, here are some concepts that you need to understand as a single woman in order for single womanhood to make sense and to understand how to make the most of it. So the first one was that womanhood, godly womanhood, is actually bigger than just marriage and children. When God is thinking about a godly woman, he's not just picturing a married woman with six small children in a home of her own.

But that's something that a lot of us, I think, actually grew up thinking. And so it can be very difficult to then be a grown woman who doesn't have any of those pieces and to wonder, well, where do I fit in God's economy? I want to be a godly woman, but I feel like he hasn't given me the pieces. And so basically, Anna and I have found it very helpful to look at different examples of women in scripture that actually did not have those pieces, but that God used them very, very powerfully. And even sometimes when he is talking about wives, like for instance when Paul is talking about what makes a widow worthy of church support in 1 Timothy 5, it's interesting that he doesn't say if she was a good wife and a good mother to lots of children.

Put her on the list. He said, having been the wife of one husband and having a reputation for good works, if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. How many of these things could you be doing as a single woman? Like, almost all of them. And it's really, it was kind of a box breaker to me when I realized if all this woman had done was care for her husband and her children, she wouldn't have actually made this list.

And that actually made me realize when I was younger that the type of wifehood and motherhood that I was preparing for, it was not the whole picture. And then we also see women like the Proverbs 31 woman who she is absolutely looking well to the ways of her household. But you also see her looking out for all these people outside of her household. She's reaching out to the poor and needy. She's making belts for the merchants.

She's being all kinds of productive and doing all kinds of ministry. And we see examples of people like Priscilla, who we can assume that she was a faithful, you know, manager of her household, but the picture that scripture gives us of her marriage to Aquila mostly involves their work together in making tents and their planting churches together and they're making disciples together. And so basically as young women we should be grabbing hold of all all of these things that were part of the picture of biblical womanhood and realizing that most of them apply just as much in the single season as the married season. Another point we made is that even with that said, the fact that there's so much continuity between these seasons, there is a difference that God shines a spotlight on in 1 Corinthians 7, which is there is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit, but she who is married cares about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

And I say this for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper that you may serve the Lord without distraction." And so basically one of the things Paul is saying is there is a difference in focus and distractions and logistical freedom between a married woman and a single woman. And one of the big mistakes that we made in our early writings is that we were trying to build a theology of single womanhood based mostly on verses for married women. And so we actually kind of put the same focuses and responsibilities on single women and we basically said, your mother's husband and children and house are, should be, you should think of these as kind of your responsibilities as well. And we've come to realize that is actually not a responsibility that God puts on a single woman, which is not to say that it can't be good to help your mother, you know, serve your younger siblings and that kind of thing, but God doesn't put the same level of responsibility on the single woman. Right.

And I would say, I would repeat that too, The home can be a wonderful training ground and can be a wonderful area of ministry. There can be so many ministries. We've talked about this our whole lives, the ministry opportunities and training opportunities in the home. And all of that is good, but we do just have to recognize the duty to care for the home, manage the home, the duty to train children, the duty to help the husband is not given to the single woman. And that's a very important distinction that the Lord makes.

And one thing we realized a few years back was we were not actually taking that principle in 1 Corinthians 7 seriously, that there were certain things that God wants us to make the most of as a single woman. Because we were trying to take on sort of like the primary focus of a married woman almost. We were not actually stewarding this special, undistracted season and this special logistical freedom. So we've been really praying that the Lord will show us, Lord, How do we make the most of what it is that you said is different and special about this season? And we still work these things out on a day by day and season by season basis.

And it doesn't mean that we are never in the home anymore. It just means that we are trying to think bigger than that. Right. OK, so then another point that we made is that the house is not the only arena in which women can serve God. And God doesn't actually limit women's fear of activity and ministry to the house.

You know, as powerful as the home is. And as much as you see God using the home in Scripture and all the amazing things that you see happening in homes and ways that you see women using their homes, You also see women in Scripture doing God's work in the marketplace and under palm trees and on the wall and in foreign palaces, in prisons, in caves, at public wells, in the field. You see women following Jesus. You see women serving in the temple and just generally doing the Lord's work all over the place. And it's true that passages like Titus 2 and 1 Timothy 5 talk about married women and their responsibility to manage their households or be despots of their households.

And that's one of those passages that Anna and I used to apply to just all women. All women, you need to be managing whatever house you're in or something. And we've come to realize, you know, if you dig into that, you realize he's talking to married women who have made a covenant with a man that they are founding a household together. Of course these women have a responsibility for that household. It's actually not a blanket command to all women, you know, like single women.

God doesn't actually tell single women that they have a primary location in which they must be or are particularly responsible for. That is actually going to be very, very different woman by woman. And one thing that we have found that is very easy to do as a woman is to fall into a kind of what we call locationism, which is to make our focus all about the location where God wants work done, rather than to make it all about the work that God wants done. So, and people make the same mistake when they talk about the church and they're talking about the church building, rather than the people in the church and what they are doing, and whether they're being sanctified, and whether they're taking the gospel out. And so basically, as single women, we need to make sure that we are not using this idea of home is beautiful, home is powerful as to think physical houses are what God wants us to be all about.

I don't have to be about taking care of the poor and the needy. I don't have to be about making disciples or caring for souls or meeting others needs. I can be all about decorating and looking at pictures on Pinterest of beautiful houses. Yeah. I actually even remember reading an article about 15 years ago written by a married woman who was it was an article that was basically about all the things that single women can do if they're feeling bored and and she said no there's no excuse for a single woman to feel bored in her home If she feels like there's nothing else to do, well, are all of your decorating magazines organized by date?

Are all the bathrooms in your home spotless? Is there a new craft that you could be learning? Like These were the works of the Lord that she was prescribing to the single woman who has time on her hands. She was very serious about this. And I can see how this mistake could be made, again, if your focus has shifted to a place and is not on the people and on the work.

Right, and I think as single women, we need to be really honest with ourselves about the fact that it's easier to just be at home than it is to make disciples. And it's easier to clean and decorate a house than it is to do the hard, messy, scary work of reaching souls. And so if we're letting our desire for a beautiful, perfectly decorated house to keep us from meeting strangers or caring for the widow and the orphan, or making Proverbs 31 contributions, or any of the other duties of the Christian life, we've actually completely missed the point of the home. And I think this is especially relevant for single women, a lot of whom We don't even have homes of our own. And to understand that God actually doesn't limit the sorts of contributions that we could be making to the world to a physical house.

You can take a meal to somebody else's house. You can minister to somebody at the park or in a coffee shop or in your car. You can actually be serving the Lord all over the place. So, okay, another point. Oh, even if we are not married in the sense that we would like to be someday, we are part of a marriage right now, and that is the marriage between Christ and His church.

And a lot of women, they think that the central part of their identity is whether they are married or single. But one of the most central parts of our identity actually needs to be the fact that we are right now part of Christ's household, and we have brothers and sisters in this household. And we Basically, all of the things that we dream of doing someday in a marriage, oh, I would love to have somebody I can pour out my relational energies into. And I would love to have little ones that I could be pouring into. And I'd like to be able to do special things for people, and do hospitality, and feed people food.

There's this context of Christ's household in which we actually are free to do all these things. And we do not need to wait on that. And also understanding... I'll actually say, this is another error we made in our earlier teachings. We tended to center woman's identity very much in physical family and not in spiritual family.

And we've come to realize this is such a big part of her identity, and it really needs to be such a big part also of the context of her service, and such a big part of where her accountability comes from, where her training comes from. That is actually one of the purposes God has for the church, is that we are supposed to actually be receiving authority, accountability, mentorship, training from the church, and not actually just our physical family. Another point we made, which is it's kind of the counterbalance to this point. On the other side of the coin, even though a lot of our identity is in these corporate bodies, we also have a major part of our identity is the fact that we are called and gifted and used by God as individual souls as well, Not just as part of a family and not just as part of a marriage. And I think part of why this is a really important thing for single young women to grasp is because we can sometimes be tempted to feel like our purpose in life or our calling or our direction will come from that man someday when he comes.

He will tell us what to do. His calling will be our calling. He is what will give us reasons to get out of bed in the morning. He will help us figure out who we really are. And who we really will be is basically just his wife.

Well, then who are we until that happens? And it's been helpful for me to realize how directly God often dealt with women in the Scriptures. Even married women. There were a lot of women to whom he gave personal, individual directions, such as Mary, Hannah, Samson's mother, Hulda, Anna, Philip's daughters. And he also held women individually responsible for the decisions that they made.

Even if they were following their husbands, like Sephira, he still required both of them to answer individually for the choice that they made to disobey him. And so this point is difficult, because I'm sure all of us have seen girls sort of ricocheting back and forth between extreme collectivism but also extreme individualism. And neither of these are actually the biblical concept. And so like so many areas of Christian doctrine, this is one where there's two truths that can seem like they're on opposite poles, but they're actually not like Jesus being fully God and fully man. They're both true.

And if you let go of one of them and just go all the way to the other, you're gonna fall into heresy. Or like woman is made in the image of God and wives have to submit to their husbands. And Some people are like, they can't both be true. I can't hold these things both at the same time. And so you see them, yeah, pinging back and forth sometimes.

So we have to understand both the concept of the individual, like our individual accountability to the Lord and his individual purposes for our lives and the individual good works that he has prepared beforehand for us to walk in, but also understanding the purposes of authority, accountability, and fellowship and covenant body. I went longer on that one than I meant to, sorry. Did you want to summarize the one on parental authority? We'll get into this one in a lot more detail. This is one of the big ones that we've had questions about this week, and it's also one of the thorniest.

But yeah, another principle that we touched on was that parental authority does change as we age and mature. And when we wrote our book at 15 and 17, that's when we started writing the book, the picture that we painted of parental authority was that it was very, very hands-on, very, very involved because at that point in our lives it was and it needed to be. And praise the Lord that we had parents who were there for us and who took that very hands-on type of parenting. At 35 things are different now in the way that I relate to my dad and the way that he relates to me. And I will say though that the duty to honor does not diminish and as I get older I even become more aware of how important my attitude towards my parents is, even in relation to my attitude towards the Lord, and how often it will be kind of a litmus test of how I'm doing.

My relationship to my parents is important. Do I really honor them? Do I really love them? Am I really grateful for everything that they've done for me? These are pivotal in my spiritual health.

But at the same time, there's a few, there's some other things that we need to add to that principle of honor and one of them is that biblically we can see that parental authority does change and we threw out the verse from Galatians 4 one that says an heir as long as he is a child is no different from a slave, even though he is the owner of everything. But he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. So we can see that there's a difference here. There's a child who is being managed, And then there's a date set, there's a switch that's been flipped. And now he is a self-governing adult who has been given charge of all of these things.

His managers are not going to be over him telling him exactly what to do every minute of the day. He is now a self-governing agent managing the things that his father has given him. And so I think that kind of gives us a picture of what parental authority is supposed to do. It's not just there for its own sake, but it's actually producing a result, which is a trained, mature adult who is now able to manage themselves. That doesn't mean management without direction or management without counsel, but it does mean self-government and not someone else making your schedule for you and telling you exactly what to do with all these resources that the father has now given the son.

Another principle we threw out is that parental authority is not absolute. And no earthly authority is absolute. And when it comes to how you go about, how you respond to a parent who is overstepping, that's really tricky. We might get into that in a little bit more detail, But ultimately that has to be figured out with a lot of counsel and on a case-by-case Basis and it's very difficult But we do need to recognize that the Bible does say at times as it says in Ezekiel 20 Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers nor keep their rules nor defile yourself with their idols I am the Lord your God walk in my statutes be careful to obey my rules so anyway another principle we talked about was An adult woman should have accountability and input besides her parents. And I think this principle kind of holds everything in balance because it's not like a person or a daughter ever outgrows the need for accountability.

I would say that in our lives we actually have more now not less. And as a daughter grows into an adult and she's an adult in her church there's going to be all of these other people who are giving her that accountability. One would be her elders who, as it says, give an account for her soul. There's also just other believers in the body who are going to be giving exhortations and rebukes, and there's just gonna be a lot of back and forth when it comes to that. We're also supposed to be receiving counsel and instruction from other older women in the church.

So we can see the universe of people giving us input in our lives is growing. It's not diminishing, it's growing. Okay, another one, another important point here is that as important as fathers are in in leading their families in their homes and giving giving a vision for their households that they are in charge of, spiritual vision and purpose ultimately comes from the Lord and not from fathers. And that's something that I feel like we didn't say as well as we could have in our first book. And as young believers ourselves, we had not even experienced as much of the personal seeking of the Lord that we have now.

And so now, like, okay, one passage that we refer to a lot in our book to lay out the foundations of a father's authority was the Numbers 30 passage about vows. And when I read it now, I read it a little bit differently, but I'll read it real quickly. It says, if a woman vows a vow to the Lord and binds herself by a pledge while within her father's house in her youth, and her father hears of her vow and of her pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand." So it's essentially, it's laying out the fact that a father has the authority to annul a daughter's vow. And you can look at this passage in two different ways. You can say The point of this passage is that a dad has authority.

But there's something else going on here too that is really big to me, and that is that this passage acknowledges the fact that a young girl, maybe 12 years old, living in her father's house, is expected to be making vows to the Lord. You know, initiated by herself. Obviously her dad is part of the picture, but this, she is making vows to the Lord all by herself. She is coming up with something she wants to promise to the Lord or do for the Lord all on her own because she has her own distinct relationship with the Lord. And then yes, she can bring this idea to her dad and her dad can say, I think that's a good vow or not such a good vow.

But there are even limitations on how he can annul it. It needs to be in the day that he hears it. But yeah, I'm taking something different out of this passage now than I did 15 years ago. And we'll come back to this point, because we realize that it's all very well and good for girls to realize, ah, the authority of my parents should look different now that I'm an adult than when I'm 12. But what if my parents don't see that?

And so that's really sticky and very individualized, but we do have more thoughts on that one. And then the last point that we were talking about the other day pertains to how do you make decisions about things like working outside the home. And it's very easy for those of us who grew up in very, you know, very conservative Christian homeschooling circles to think in terms of two boxes. Either I can be strictly home-focused and preparing for marriage and all that. Or I can be the pantsuit-wearing, career-minded woman who doesn't like men and doesn't want children.

And I'm gonna just keep doing the first box until I've eventually just hit a brick wall and feel like this doesn't even make sense anymore. And then I'll, if that doesn't work, then I have no alternative but to go over to this other box. And I know that Anna and I, when we wrote our first book so much more, my concept of economically productive work for women was basically only negative. I feel very ashamed saying that, but all I could picture was this concept of jobs outside the home, or you're competing with men and you're serving mammon and you're serving as the functional help maid of a man who's not your husband and I could only picture a very unhealthy, unwomanly sort of picture. And when women think that they can think of economically productive work as a type of compromise or a necessary evil.

And it's something that you have to do if times get hard or you need money, but then it's very hard to enter into it wholeheartedly because you kind of feel like you're making a compromise. And that's so not true. Like I think when we see the Proverbs 31 woman, we see such a different attitude towards this kind of work. Because the Proverbs 31 woman is putting her whole heart and hands into meeting other people's needs, stewarding the earth's resources, creating, taking dominion, creating abundance to share with others, and making a profit. And this is something that I think a woman would do naturally, if she understood that she could, she would be doing this naturally as just worship to the Lord and a desire to serve others and just being created in God's image as a God who works and who creates.

So we need to understand that this should be a big part of what a woman cares about, but also understand there's very different ways of doing it. There's as many different ways of doing it as there are different women. And you certainly can pursue economically productive work in a way that would be an ethical compromise, but you don't have to. And so we shouldn't see it as just a simple decision. Should I get a job or not get a job?

It's not that simple. Yeah, and I will point out really, really quickly, the Prop 31 woman who is working and bringing in an income, she has not fallen on hard times. We can actually see that she is living in pretty cushy circumstances. I think her husband is pretty well-to-do, actually. So she has no financial need to do this.

It's not like she's resorting to this because she is destitute. It's because this is what a woman does. And I just wanted to point that out too, because that was something we missed. Right and wondering how much of this to get into. Well okay One of the points that we were talking about is that ethical decision making, there's actually a lot of layers to it.

With most decisions, it's not as simple as, can a woman be an astronaut, yes or no? Even though it is much simpler if we could approach it that way. And so one of the levels that you, one of the aspects of this kind of thing that we have to look at is, are there any absolute rules? Does God prohibit this for women or does God command something else for women that would make this impossible? And there are absolute, clear prohibitions in Scripture and things that women can't do.

But then, after you have figured out whether something is within the realm of lawful, then There's all the things within the realm of profitable, and that can include things like your personal trajectory, your personal motives, your personal situation. There are things that could make something maybe a truly God-honoring option for me, but maybe not for Anna, Or maybe a good option for me now, but maybe not a good option for me ten years ago. And I think the way Mr. Brown framed this the other night was so powerful when he was basically saying, you know, is this going to make me more careful about obeying the Lord or less? Is this going to help me mortify my flesh?

Or is it actually going to make provision for my flesh? Will this lead me into more purity or more set apartness or more fruitfulness or less? And so I think when our eyes are really trained on the Lord and His glory and wanting to obey him and not follow all of these other things. Yeah, I might even just throw out an example of kind of how someone would walk through this. So, a few years ago, an opportunity came to me to be a director on our local Chamber of Commerce.

A woman that I knew who was on the Chamber of Commerce said, hey, a position just opened up. Would you like it? I think you would be good for this job. So I had to kind of figure this out along the lines that Elizabeth just said. Because there's not a verse in the Bible that says, a woman can or cannot be a director on the Chamber of Commerce.

And so I had to wrestle through all the different facets of what this decision would mean. So who will I be working with? What exactly am I going to be doing? Does this position come with authority over men? It actually doesn't.

I mean every chamber is different so you'd have to weigh that differently in every situation. What opportunities could I have for the gospel with the people that I work with or the projects that I get involved in? How much of my time is it going to take? Is it going to give me more flexibility or less flexibility? Like what, who is basically, who is going to be in charge of my time?

Who is going to have authority over my time if I take this on? And will it be taking me away from other things that might have been a better opportunity? Right. And then, Yeah, and then on a very personal level, is this going to be a good opportunity for me, right, for me, is this going to be good for, is this gonna stretch me in the ways that I need to be stretched? Or is this gonna make me more comfortable?

Is this going to help me kill my flesh in the areas where my flesh needs to be killed or is this going to feed my flesh? If it's the kind of opportunity that comes with a lot of glamour and a lot of opportunities to be in the spotlight, which it doesn't, but That's an important thing to consider too, for who I am and where I am spiritually right now, is this going to be good for me? And then another would be like, what kind of fruit do I hope to bear from this? And how am I going to know if I am? Like how would I...

So essentially it's like coming up with a spiritual business plan. Oh, well, and also one that you weighed is what do all the counselors and authority figures and accountability in my life, accountability people, and how I think about this. That's right. Yes. And so I talked to my dad about it.

I talked to a lot of other people and then I just asked a whole lot of questions of people in the county Just so that I knew exactly what I was walking into and how I could make the most of it So so yeah And that's that is how I think we have to wrestle through every decision and not just look for a very clear cut and dry command about whether a woman can or cannot do a thing or not. Okay, so now we're getting into the stuff that we want to kind of build on from the things we shared the other day. And something that I've realized is just a big burden on a lot of our hearts, definitely Anna's and mine, is just this whole issue of how do you go about, you know, wise, godly, safe, sane manner, How do you go about reevaluating things like this and maybe making changes in decisions or in priorities? Because probably every one of us has seen and has had our hearts broken by. The examples of dear friends or family members or whatever it might be who came to this quandary where they realized, I was, I, Maybe I've been taught some things that weren't perfect.

Maybe I've inherited some ideas and theology and practices from imperfect people. Imagine that. That's actually every person in the world. And so they, and now they're faced with this quandary of what do I do, what do I do with this? And this is something we all have to wrestle with in fear and trembling before the Lord, because quite frankly, all of us have inherited ideas and theology and practices from imperfect people.

So are we going to be reformers? Are we going to be rebels? Are we going to have zeal for the tradition of our parents in the way that Saul of Tarsus did, which was actually a bad thing because some of those traditions of his father's were not something he should have had zeal for? Or are we going to be like some of the kings of Israel or Judah who they didn't destroy some of their parents' high places and they actually were supposed to? But the thing is there are very God-honoring ways of going about this and there are extremely spiritually dangerous ways of going about this.

And we have a pile of thoughts on this. We have less than half an hour just FYI for all this stuff. So I don't know how we're gonna do this. Yeah. But I will just throw out really quickly, I think that all of us have a huge debt, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to our parents and to leaders who 20, 30, 40 years ago made some very drastic and radical choices, and to step away from the feminism and the worldliness and the statism that was ravaging our country at the time.

And We are still now just part of the process of hashing out some of the questions that they started asking, like how do we educate our kids if we're not going to put them in school? What is a woman going to do if she's not going to be a career woman? We're all in this together. And it should not surprise us when the people who first decided to step away from the status quo and do things differently didn't get it all right at the very beginning. And That's – no one can.

And when you look at the Reformation, you can see that the early Reformers, it took some time to actually hash things out, but we're so grateful for what they did. And we're all just continuing in the Reformation. We're continuing to build on that foundation and refine that foundation and we're continuing to work together as a team and so I think that is what our attitude should be towards leaders and teachers and parents who really wanted to serve the Lord in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, but did not get every single thing totally perfect. Right. Okay, so a few things that I think are really important as we try to keep a watch over our hearts as we do these things.

One is to see what is it that we are being drawn towards or pushed away from? Are we just being drawn more and more towards the beauty of scripture? And that is what is causing us to realize, oh, this thing here was not correct, or this thing here was not correct. Or is it more, I am so fed up and disgusted with these things that aren't working, or these things that now look so dumb to me, or all my friends think they're dumb? Are we actually just careening away from something in reaction, or is it just the pull of scripture that's causing us to make these decisions?

I think another thing that's really important is How much are we soaking in doctrines of the goodness of God and just growing in our trust of Him? Because I've seen so many friends falter when they started wrestling with, could God really, Could it really be good that God tells children to honor their parents? I'm not sure I understand how that can be good. I'm not sure I understand how God can be good to tell me that. Could it really be good that God put me in a situation where my parents are doing this or that?

And once somebody starts to question whether God is really good and whether what God says is actually better than what they or their friends might have figured out, you're in such a dangerous place. And usually everything starts unraveling at the point when they decide they're okay with maybe God isn't good, maybe He doesn't know what He's doing here. So you have to anchor yourself on this. Even if you don't quite understand what a verse means, or how it's supposed to look for you to honor ungodly parents, you have to believe that God knows what he is talking about. And to say like Peter, when he didn't understand what Christ was saying, he just said, but Lord, where would we go?

You have the words of eternal life. Nobody else has that. So I'm not going to run to the people over here who say they've found better answers. You're the only one who has the words of eternal life, even if I don't fully understand them. And I just forgot what the other one...

Oh, okay. This is one. So if you realize that you have had tendencies towards legalism or a rules focus in your heart, I would so strongly recommend a book called The Whole Christ by Sinclair Ferguson. And there's also a video series on the subject, and it was so, so good. And a lot of what it's dealing with is this whole legalism versus antinomianism thing.

Like, I really think every child who grew up in a Christian family should go through this series. And one of the points that Sinclair Ferguson makes is basically both legalism and antinomianism come from the same, basically I think he used the phrase slavish spirit, where we're seeing God's rules as separate from God Himself and the goodness of God Himself and from a relationship with Him. And so the antinomian is like, we follow the rules because we have to. And then the antinomian got fed up with that, And so he's like, God's all about rules. I'm sick of the rules.

I'm not following the rules. And Ferguson points out, you know, you look at the two, the two sons, like the prodigal son and his brother. And you realize that early on, like before the prodigal son repents, both of these sons actually have the same spirit. And when you realize that the older brother goes to his father and he's complaining, and he's bitter, And he's essentially saying to his father, all these years, I have slaved for you. Like, is that the attitude of joyful obedience?

All these years, I have slaved for you. And you never give me anything. And the father says to him, You're with me always. And everything I have is yours. See, this is us.

We are with, we have this amazing privilege of being with the Father. He is with us always and everything He has is ours. So it's our attitude, I slave for you and you never give me anything. You never gave me a husband. Right, right.

Because if that's true, if that's our heart, that is what has to be repented of. And you don't repent of that by deciding, you know what, God, I don't like your rules because you never, I'm gonna stop slaving for you. I'm gonna go slave for this instead. He said you repent of that slavish spirit and you run to the Lord. And you center yourself on him and then out of that love for him, you also have a love for everything he says, because like Paul Washer was saying the other night, our relationship with the Lord is really so determined by our relationship to his word.

If we don't like his word, let's not kid ourselves that we love him. Yeah, and I had, I had some thoughts basically on if we are in a, if we are in a season where we are going through transition, which I would say Elizabeth and I have been in for the last 15 years. It can be a scary place. And there's a lot of things that we need to look at and examine in our own lives to really determine the fruit and the trajectory of where we're going because this is dangerous territory. And so a few things that I think we need to examine in ourselves and in our own hearts when we are rethinking things would be these.

One would be, is our love for God's word actually increased? And here's the thing, it's very easy to be a critic. It's actually very easy to see holes in someone else's teaching, and even to think in terms of scriptures that might prove that they're wrong. We all know these critics who seem to be really good at finding the verses to prove that these people are wrong or that their parents are wrong. But that does not actually mean that they have a deep abiding love for God's word or that they're really seeking it out as the guiding principle of their life.

And so when we are sort of critiquing our own worldview or what we've been given, we need to make sure that we don't just have the heart of a critic. And the words of God that we're looking for are not just the ones that are going to refute this idea or refute this idea, but we are actually looking for the entire counsel of God for every single part of our lives. And while we're critiquing this, we are also growing in love for this. And we are building out, we're not just rejecting this over here, we're actually building out a more thoroughly biblical approach to everything. And another thing to look at would be are we hanging onto the principles while we are maybe changing some of our application.

So for example, the difference between principle and application is very important. I'll give a quick example. So here's a principle. A woman's dress should be modest and should be distinctly different from a man's dress, one application would be a woman should wear a long denim skirt. So do you see there's a difference there?

And maybe you have some friends who are not wearing the long denim skirts anymore. Maybe they're wearing pants. But if they're still clinging to the principle of modesty and distinction, that could be a fine change in application. And you don't necessarily have to freak out because they're changing the application if they're still hanging on to the principle. But if we are wanting to throw off an application that we don't like, but we're not hanging on to the principle of modesty.

We're just throwing off what we don't like and now we're wearing whatever we want. Or we're throwing off a particular application of some other lifestyle, but we are not hanging on to the principle. We should be afraid of that. So I will just, I'll just be done now because I know we're running out of time here. What to do first?

I wonder if we should bounce straight to parents and then circle back around to the how to be fruitful stuff. Probably. OK, since we don't have a ton of time. Yeah. OK, so say you're a girl.

Say your vision for what it means to be a single woman is expanding. Say your parents aren't there yet. And maybe they do struggle a little bit with still thinking you're 12, because you were for a very long time. Like Anna mentioned, There are things that every person under authority has, like the right of appeal. There are also factors like the fact that God has put other authorities in your life too.

If you're part of a church, which you should be, you are also under the authority of the elders there. And your parents are also under the authority of the elders there. And this is a very kind provision that God has given, and these authorities should actually be a helpful check and balance. And so don't feel like you couldn't go to the elders and say, I need help. I need help talking to my parents.

And also, another really important thing to understand is that anger and bitterness are spiritually playing with fire. The Bible talks about how if you let the sun go down on your anger, you are giving the devil an opportunity. And I have seen so many young people, once they start actually living with the spirit of anger towards their parents for things their parents got wrong, because all parents get things wrong, they can really enter this season of intense spiritual disorientation and confusion. And God talks a lot about the importance of giving thanks in all things, which doesn't mean pretending that things aren't as they are, but even in a difficult situation, you can give thanks in all things, and you can have a spirit of gratitude, and a spirit of forgiveness, and a spirit of grace, even as you are trying to work through the problems and resolve the problems. And understand too that God's refining fire isn't actually generally a punishment, It is for our good.

This is how he purges away our dross and refines our gold and sharpens us into sharper weapons. And so if you are in a difficult season with your parents, maybe a season where you're having a lot of conversations about how things should be changing in this time or whatever it might be. I would encourage you to think about what are maybe some character things in you that God wants to grow in you through this. Like maybe you hate having difficult conversations, and now God is giving you as a present. Much practice.

Maybe you will be an expert at this by the time this season is done. Maybe you struggle with fearfulness. Maybe you struggle with, I don't know, anything. Think about what it is that God might want to grow in you through this. Because God doesn't always just want to rescue somebody out of a difficult situation right away.

And you see that in scripture. Sometimes he wants you to be there and wrestle for a while. And so don't just think, my situation has problems, it's not ideal, I must remove myself. I must remove myself. That is always the solution.

That is not always the solution. Okay, so there's not a lot of mothers in this room, but I would like to make a very short appeal, not an authoritative instruction, but a very short appeal to mothers. Please do unto others as you would have had your mother do unto you. And as you look at your daughter, think about where you were when you were her age, and think about what you would have actually wanted your mother to do for you, and what would have been very painful for you if your mother had been doing it to you. Because you don't actually want this to be a painful season in your daughter's life.

You don't want to be a source of grief to your daughter, a source of frustration, a temptation for bitterness. You want her to love you and be grateful for the role that you're playing in her life. So please think about how old she actually is and what it would feel like to be her. And also, I would say if maybe it's more your husband who's struggling to not see her as 12 anymore. I would venture to say that as his helpmate, as his counselor, it might be that one of the best things you could be doing is helping him talk to his children, hear his children, understand his children, have compassion for his children, look at things from his children's point of view, launch his children, and please take these years of your daughter's life seriously, because they don't belong ultimately to the parents, they don't belong ultimately to her, they belong to the Lord, And her fruitfulness is very important.

And I'm going to throw something out there too. I know of mothers who I think have struggled with letting their children go because they didn't feel like they had any other ministry. And this kind of goes back to some of the things we talked about at the beginning. If a woman believes her only avenue for bearing fruit is through raising children, it's going to be very hard for her to let them go. Because as soon as they've left the nest what does she have left?

And so I would just say there is so much there's so much left for an empty nester when it comes to the role that she can play in the lives of other young women in the church, or other ministries in the body. There's so many other things that the Lord could have you be doing, and so don't be fearful of being an empty nester. So I just wanted to throw that out real quick. I also think it would be good if we just talked a little bit more about what it means to make an appeal to your parents. Because this can be a very, very scary thing for a girl.

Especially if she's a little bit confused over whether it's even honoring to say, go to her parents and say, hey, can we relook at maybe some of these rules or some of these, you know, some of these rules that we put in place when I was 12. I'm now 20. Can we talk about these again? And the thing is I think that can be very helpful to a parent who is a very busy parent, they've got all these kids and yeah, they put these rules in place when they were little and maybe they haven't really thought about the fact that, oh yeah, we've got some children in the family who are about 20. And they might actually just need those reminders.

It can be helpful to them to just let them know the changes that are happening in your life and remind them, hey, I'm growing up over here. And just say, hey, I know that we had this application of this principle. Can we rethink that? And there's something here that I really feel called by the Lord to do. Can we talk about this?

And I know that we always have this perspective, but can we rethink this and we can we go back to Scripture together and look at this? And I think one thing that can make a big difference in your parents ability to see your heart is if it's clear that you're thinking in terms of the Lord's interests and not just your own. Like this isn't just something that I personally want to do, but I believe this is something the Lord wants me to do based on these commands and these verses. And they can see that you're, yeah, it's not just your rights that you're fighting for. It is, in a sense, it's the Lord's it's the Lord's rights and you should all be in this together.

Yeah, actually I just realized that there's also a caveat that we need to make. I hope it goes without saying that we're not talking about things on the level of like criminal abuse by your parents or sexual abuse or things like that. That is a totally different category. So like when we were talking about, like sometimes God wants us to wrestle through a difficult situation. I am not talking about, like, if you're being sexually abused, stay there and be sanctified.

That is not what I'm saying at all. I'm talking about things that are just more on the level of, you know, I'm not being required to sin. I'm not being prohibited from doing things God commanded. It's just difficult. It's just personally trying.

Right. And this actually is also a good reminder. I mean, in order for a girl to even know what is, like if my parents command this or if they prohibit this, we have to really know God's Word personally very, very well to even know. Like what if your parents forbade you to go to church? Is that how like what level of seriousness is that?

We have to have these things sorted out in our own hearts based on our own study of the word so that we even we even know these things. Okay we should probably be moving right along here. Yeah we have eight minutes left. Well maybe we should just take questions then. Do we want to talk about this one here just real quick?

Like maybe the hospitality one? Okay, yeah let's do that. Let's jump over there. So we've also had a lot of questions just throughout the week from girls asking everything from so how do I what are some different work opportunities that would be good for a young lady to what are some ways that I can be practicing hospitality if I don't have a home and if my family is not as into having tons of people over as I am? And I wanna touch on this hospitality thing real quick because hospitality is one of the main ways that the Christian reaches out to an unbelieving world.

And, and there's a book on that that I would highly recommend called the gospel comes with a house key by Rosario Butterfield. I don't agree with everything in it. But I think it's got some really, really solid ideas that we can sometimes be missing in these circles. And so hospitality is super important. But here's kind of an earth-shattering truth about hospitality and what it actually means.

The word hospitality does not mean have your friends over a lot for parties. It also doesn't mean entertain people and get out the best China and make sure that you have the oyster fork in the right place. Hospitality literally means love for strangers. So it has it doesn't even have anything to do with the house, per se. And it also means that we're not just having friends over, or having people in the church over, or having people who agree with us on everything over.

It means that we are going out of our way to meet and love the stranger. And This is a command. It's not just an opportunity that girls can have if they want to. This is actually a command. We are supposed to be getting out there and loving the stranger.

And this is something that single women can do. Do you want to talk about some ways that we are found to do this? Yeah, I think as a single, there is room for and also need for much creativity. Like if you don't have a large home of your own, which a lot of singles don't. And this is something that for us, we've had to work out on a season by season basis, because there were times when our house was like Grand Central Station.

And it was just always open. And there were times where there were health issues in the home. And we couldn't just be having people in the home. And so Anna and I had to figure out how do we take hospitable hearts and spirits out. And so there is all kinds of things you can do like take dinner to someone else's house or meet a mom at the park, bring a picnic, minister to her there.

Or we've even done wild things. Like, you know, sometimes you can rent a public space and be like, I want to bring these people together and these people together and try to get started these sorts of conversations. But there's all kinds of spaces you can avail yourself of. And you can do things in your car and you can, I don't know, what are some of the other things? Well, coffee shops can be great.

Yeah, we have rented parks and public areas. But I still would say that the main thing is not even, again, the location where you're having these people. It is the fact that you're going out there, you're loving strangers, you're bringing them into your life. And This is something that is required even of the introvert. And it's very important if you are, I am an introvert, if you are an introvert to learn to, to learn to go outside of yourself and do the hard thing and stretch yourself.

And this is a weakness that I do see in a lot of young ladies in the stay-at-home daughter movement is there's been a lot of focus on the home and maybe just one step outside of the home, maybe the church. But there's still kind of a lot of isolation. Hasn't been a lot of contact with people outside of these trusted safe circles. And safety is an issue and it's one that you have to factor in when it comes to where you go and who you're with, but at the same time, if we are not taking light into the darkness, I think we're missing something in our Christian walk. And if we're not going out there and meeting people who think very differently than we do, And taking the gospel to them, I think we're missing something.

And yeah, and it doesn't necessarily mean we're bringing them into our houses. And I've done a lot of hospitality at my Chamber of Commerce building. And even in the public square, when I talk to people there, or in our family's business, T-Rex Arms, we'll bring people in there for tours and things, and we'll get to know them and talk to them. Yeah, it's not about the location. It's really entirely about your heart and your love for the other person.

All right. Looks like we're about done. So we'll just take questions. You can just come find us after this is all done.