A Conversation With Beth Moore
May 1, 2003 - Through her bestselling Bible studies and conferences, Beth Moore encourages women not only to stand on the Word of God, but also to know what it says. More than 20 years ago, she began speaking at local women's luncheons and retreats. Only a few years later, she found herself in full-time ministry, writing and speaking across the United States. In 1995, the Lord led her to establish Living Proof Ministries to guide women to love and to live on God's Word. Moore recently spoke with "Decision" Executive Editor Jim Dailey about her conviction that God's Word still holds the power to change lives.
by Jim Dailey
Q: You are known for having a great passion for God's Word. How can we cultivate a growing hunger for studying and meditating on Scripture?
A: I have challenged women across the country to take six months to pray earnestly each day for God to give them a love for Him and a love for the Word. I tell them to pray for it more than they pray for blessing, for health or for anything else. I dare them not to have a spiritual transformation in that period of time. I know that God is true to His Word. He is going to give us what we ask for in His will. Nothing is more in keeping with the will of God for our lives than these things.
Some may be tempted to say, "Well, that's for people like you, Beth, but I'm not sure God will do it for me." But I am just like them. I don't have a list of theology degrees. I was on a different career path when God called me. I'm not on staff at my church. I am just a layperson who wanted to see theology become a reality. I wouldn't have known to put it that way in those early years, but I was desperately broken inside.
The Lord used the example of two godly people in a very powerful way to stimulate my hunger for His Word. I saw in one woman a love for God that was beyond anything that I had known. It was almost a sacred romance that I saw in her. She became my mentor. Then, I sat under the teaching of a man that loved and delighted in God's Word in a way that I had never seen before. I flew to God as fast as I could, and I prayed, "God, I don't know what they've got, but I want it. I want it with everything that I've got in me!" I couldn't even define it. Of course, what they had was a passionate love for Christ and for His Word. Every day, I ask God to give me a love for Him and a love for His Word.
Q: How are these pursuits bound up in an intimate relationship with Christ?
A: Colossians 3:4 says that Christ is our life, and this is so important to me when I list my priorities. As a young married woman, I knew it was supposed to be God first—then my husband, my family, my church, my work and my other relationships. We get raised on this mentality. We compartmentalize priorities like a chest of drawers, making God the top drawer. However, that mentality is fruitless because God says, "I don't want to be the most important thing in your life. I want to be your life."
God wants to invade your marriage. If He had not invaded my marriage, my husband, Keith, and I agree that we would not have made it. If He had not invaded our parenting, our children would not be serving God today. He is our life. What a tragedy it is to compartmentalize Him into only the religious or the spiritual parts of our lives and to keep Him out of the other areas.
Q: You often speak about your past when sharing with other women. How has God been gracious to you?
A: I was prone to a cycle of defeat for many years. I can testify with such passion about the Word because God sent forth His Word, and He brought healing to my life. I had some pretty serious victimization and hurts as a child, as many of us do. I want to be clear that some wonderful things happened with people who loved me. But sometimes devastations come, and they offset the good. That was the case with me, I'm sad to say. It wasn't until my 30s that God began to set me free from my self-destructive tendencies, which took all sorts of forms. I'd get victory over one area and then self-destruct in another. God began to teach me to memorize Scripture. I began to listen to godly, edifying music. He taught me how to think all over again. That's when I began to feel like the new creation that I am. I've been a new creation since I accepted Christ as a child, but I didn't feel new. For so many years, I acted like my self-destructive old man of sin. I know that God can save anyone, free anyone, forgive anyone and use anyone—because He did all those things for me. I'm in constant awe of His grace and His mercy. A lot of people feel like they have already blown it, but they have to know that there is life after failure.
Q: We can never lose sight of God's great love for us, can we?
A: God's been speaking to me recently about His loving-kindness. His love is kind. You cannot separate kindness from the love of God. His mercies are new every day. God communicated that to me in a very special way when I led a Bible study at The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. I was touched that I had been asked to teach there. I asked a good friend of mine to come with me. When we arrived, we were shown around, and I was overwhelmed. I felt that I didn't belong and tried so hard not to show it. It was obvious to me that God had richly blessed Mr. Graham and his ministry. I felt unworthy in comparison, and I was trying hard not to fall into condemnation because of my past. I got through the first session that evening, but when we returned to our suite that night, I went into another room, laid open my Bible and wept before the Lord.
"I don't need You to say anything because You've said it to me a million times," I said to God. "You've told me that I am a new creation in Christ. It's not Your fault that I feel this way. This is my problem, but You are worthy and I praise You." I sensed the embrace of God and went to sleep.
When I woke up the next morning, I was still clutching my Bible. I stumbled into the kitchen, looked down the mountain and squinted my eyes at a sight that I had rarely seen. I asked my friend, "Is that frost or snow?" She laughed and said that it was snow. I jumped up and down and yelled down the hill, "Whiter than snow! I am whiter than snow!"
I'll never forget God's gift to me, saying, "I'll never send you anywhere that you don't belong in Me. I've cleansed you and washed you. Your sins are forgiven, and you are whiter than snow." I have never asked that same question again. I've thanked Him for it a thousand times. Now when that attack comes, I say to the Lord what He said to me that day: "I am whiter than snow." I have innocence and purity today in Jesus that I did not have for so many years.
Q: In other words, you have to believe that what God says about you is true.
A: This is the biggest thing that God has taught me in the last five years—simply to believe and to act on God's Word alone. We can study the Word for a long time and go to every Bible study our church offers but still not let the truths of Scripture sink into our belief system. Unbelief was my problem. I had to learn to really believe what the Bible says about God Himself and about others in the body of Christ. In 2 Corinthians 4:13 it says, "I believed; therefore I have spoken" (NIV). I have been challenged in my quiet times. Am I going to just read the Bible and take it as a little guidance for the day, or am I going to believe it and act on it?
Q: What are some of the major issues women deal with today?
A: I find that many women who are drawn into a wonderful relationship with Christ feel the living, powerful Word of God in action and then want their entire household transformed instantly. My husband and I have been married for 25 years, and we are crazy about each other. But God allowed us to struggle as well.
Once a woman told me that she was getting closer and closer to God, but she found herself caring less and less for her husband. I knew that that is not God's way. God's way, when we allow it to go past our minds and to overtake our hearts, becomes the law of love and kindness. We will be more of a blessing in our homes and in our parenting. We can't impose a legalistic doctrine on our family members, or they will hate it. What we can do is let them see that our lives are filled with a greater love, joy, peace and patience. I cannot tell you how many times Romans 5:5 has been my lifesaver. "God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit" (NIV). In difficult relationships and in situations in which I need to love people that I find difficult to love, I ask God to overtake my heart with His love, to love them through me. That's the law of the heart, and it will have an effect on those family members. It is very contagious.
Q: Your Bible studies challenge us to become authentic followers of Christ. How can we cultivate the kind of godly life that pleases the Father?
A: It is a daily challenge. We need to find our approval in God and not in man, so that we can be freed from the expectations of others. It was bondage for me to try to appear as if I had it all together. I did this through my college years. I was a successful student and received honors in all kinds of things, yet I was trying to keep that unhealthy person inside of me hidden as much as possible. I was miserable! God finally brought me to a place in my early 30s in which He allowed so many crises that I couldn't hide my handicapped heart anymore. Such freedom came to me when I was finally able to share my story in a genuine way. Today, I keep my story very general and say, "I have been so messed up. If that disappoints you, I am so sorry. But it is worth it for you to think less of me so that you can see God as more!" That is my way of decreasing so that Christ can increase. We've got to get to the place where our freedom in Christ is of more importance to us than how other people see us.
God deals with reality in His Word. Sometimes I read His Word and am astonished that He uses some of the terminology that He does and points out the problems in humanity that are there. God does not mince words. He wants us to be free in Him—and that means tackling some issues about ourselves in order to experience that freedom.