Capture the Creeps
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Mary KassianMary A. Kassian is a Word Guild award-winning author and international speaker. She has published several books and Bible studies, including Girls Gone Wise, Conversation Peace, and True Woman 101. Mary is a popular conference speaker at women’s events such as Revive and True Woman. She has appeared on numerous radio and television shows such as Focus on the Family and FamilyLife Today. She has also taught cluster courses at Southern Semina...more
Mary Kassian tells women that if they want to be strong in the Lord, stay away from the creeps. Creeps can be anything from bad boys to bad attitudes, and the biggest creep of all-Satan.
Capture the Creeps
Bob: Mary Kassian believes women need to be strong women. She also knows that strength/spiritual strength doesn’t typically implode all at once; it erodes over time.
Mary: Maybe she entertains that thought in her head; maybe she lingers on that image that she saw on the television show; maybe she starts criticizes her husband; maybe that criticism starts pouring out into her words. Maybe she lingers on the attention/the positive attention she’s getting from the guy at work; then, maybe it’s the text messages; then, maybe it’s the lunch. It’s a series of small compromises, where she will find herself far away from where she wants to be.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, March 17th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. You’ll find us online at FamilyLifeToday.com. Strength is something we typically build over time. Although spiritual strength can be destroyed quickly, more often than not it dissipates slowly. We’re going to talk more about that today with Mary Kassian. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I think this is a first; I haven’t done an exhaustive study of all Christian writing and literature; but, at least in the years I’ve been looking at it, I think this is the first Christian book I’ve come across that has a chapter on creeps. [Laughter]
Dave: It might be!
Bob: The book I’m talking about is a book called The Right Kind of Strong by our guest, Mary Kassian, who joins us again. Mary, welcome back.
Bob: Mary is an author, a speaker; she’s a teacher. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, with her husband and her three adult sons.
Mary: They don’t live with me; they’re out of the basement. [Laughter]
Bob: Mary has been a regular guest on FamilyLife Today. This new book, The Right Kind of Strong, is a call for women to embrace God-given strength as opposed to culturally-defined strength. As we’ve already said this week, knowing the difference will determine whether there’s rejoicing and fulfillment in embracing your strength or whether there’s frustration in it.
Mary: The Lord wants women to be strong. Proverbs 31—where it talks about the prototypical ideal woman—it says that she dresses herself with strength, that she makes her arms strong. Strength is something that God desires for His daughters.
Bob: You came across this in an interesting way. You were reading about foolish women in the Bible. That’s what got you thinking about, “What is the right kind of strong?”—right?
Mary: There’s a passage in 2 Timothy, Chapter 3, verses 6-7 that always used to rub me the wrong way. Ann is shaking her head; it rubbed her the wrong way too. [Laughter] I think that most women, when they read this passage, the hairs on the back of my neck used to stand up when I read it. It says, “Among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women”—weak women—“burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.”
This is Paul writing to Timothy in the church of Ephesus. He’s describing a problem amongst this group of women in the church; and he calls them “weak women.” Let me tell you, if anyone had ever called me a weak woman, especially when I was growing up, I would’ve—in fact, I did.
Dave: What would you have done? [Laughter]
Bob: Given them “What for!” Given them “What for!”
Mary: Given them “What for!” Well, I once got into a fight with my brother—an actual fist fight—because he called me a weak girl.
Mary: Oh, yes. We were doing dishes; my parents were out for the evening. I don’t know—we were in some sort of a tiff. He’s three-and-a-half years older than me. He called me a weak girl, and down went the dishtowel. We went into the living room, and
we pushed aside the furniture. We had a fisticuff, but we had it out. [Laughter]
Dave: How’d it go?
Mary: It did not end well for me. [Laughter]
Dave: Yes, but did you get a good lick in or two?—a couple?
Mary: I got a good lick in; I laid a good one on his nose. He wasn’t taking me seriously; it was probably a good thing that he didn’t at first. Then, when I licked him, he started taking me seriously and he started fighting; and that was not good for me. Our older brother had to come up and intervene in the whole situation—pull him off.
Bob: So who are these weak women in the Bible that Paul’s talking about?
Mary: The weak women in the Bible: the word, “weak woman,” is, first of all, really fascinating. In English, we have two words: “weak woman”; but in Greek, it’s all one word. It’s just the word for woman and, then, with what’s called a diminutive on the end. Basically, it’s like saying a “book” and a “booklet”; or a “pig” and a “piglet.” This is like a “woman-ling,”—a diminished woman/a woman who is less than she ought to have been.
As I studied this passage/as I unpacked this passage, Paul’s point is not that women are weak. Paul’s point is that women ought not to be weak. It’s interesting that he wrote this to the church in Ephesus. Priscilla was in the church in Ephesus; that’s one of the powerhouse strong women of the ministry couple, Priscilla and Aquila; so Paul did not want women to be weak.
In this, he talks about weak women—women that are diminished; women that are less than they ought to be—then, he lays out some of the reasons why these women were struggling.
Ann: What were some of the reasons why women were struggling? And how does it correlate to women today?
Mary: When we unpack this passage, it’s just fascinating. Every little tiny phrase talks about a habit that these women were engaged in that diminished them—that made them weaker than they ought to have been—that sapped them of strength. It’s a strength-sapping habit. If we look at these habits, we can see what diminished them, and we can also see what we need to do in order to be strong.
The first one is that the woman, who is a weak woman, tolerates creeps. That’s where we started off—[Laughter]
Mary: —tolerating creeps—because the false teachers were creeping into their households. The creeping means to encroach slowly: make advances a little bit at a time, little bit at a time, little bit at a time. I think that, if you are a weak woman, you tolerate creeps in your life; you allow things to creep in a little bit at a time.
Now these were false teachers; these were creepy guys; but there are all kinds of creeps. There are creeps in terms of our attitudes; there’s creeps in terms of our behavior, in terms of our morals, in terms of what we allow ourselves to be exposed to. No woman gets herself into a predicament or into a situation—perhaps she’s in an affair or perhaps her family relationships are breaking down—she doesn’t get there in one big leap. Often, it’s just a series of small decisions that creep up on her, where she makes a series of bad decisions and then goes, “How did I ever get here?”
I would say that sin does not advance by leaps; it advances by creeps, the one tiny compromise at a time: maybe she entertains that thought in her head; maybe she lingers on that image that she saw in the television show; maybe she starts criticizing her husband; maybe that criticism starts pouring out into her words; then, maybe she lingers on the attention/the positive attention she’s getting from the guy at work. Then maybe it’s the text messages; then maybe it’s the lunch. It’s a series of small things that creep into her life—a series of small compromises—where she will find herself far away from where she wants to be.
Dave: So, why does a woman let this happen? How do you catch the creeps? I love the chapter title. Obviously, she doesn’t see this as happening; it’s a subtle little thing. Yet, to be a strong woman, she’s going to have to be able to stop it. How does she stop it?
Mary: The way that she stops is by understanding that it’s a big deal. Most women will go: “What’s the big deal? So, I’m watching this HVC television program that has a lot of illicit sex—what’s the big deal? It’s not a big deal.”
I think that a strong woman realizes that all those little deals add up to be a big deal. A strong woman takes care of that little stuff and stops sin from encroaching. We are told in Scripture that the devil prowls around like a lion. A lion doesn’t always just pounce; it prowls, prowls. Sin takes its time; it circles you slowly; it starts sucking you in by one little compromise at a time.
Ann: I think this is why it’s so important that women have other friends that can point out the creeps; because sometimes it’s so subtle, we don’t realize what’s happening.
I was just talking to a woman this morning on Facebook® that messaged me. She gave me her whole story of she was in a marriage relationship; her husband had an affair—he left her for another woman. Now, she’s in another relationship, where she just found out this guy’s been cheating on her so many times. She’s devastated; but he’s saying: “Let’s go to church,” and “You need to forgive me, because Jesus has forgiven me.” She said, “I’m thinking that’s what I should do and stay in the relationship.”
As another woman, I’m saying: “I see this a little more objectively than maybe you do.” I need to say, “Yes, you do need to forgive him; but I also think you need to be out of this relationship,”—just somebody to say: “No! This isn’t good for you! I’m sure that Jesus loves him/has a plan for him. But for now, let him get healthy, and heal, and get counseling, and seek Jesus. But go away and you seek Jesus on your own, because you deserve more than that.”
Sometimes somebody else can see it way more clearly; we need women friends.
Bob: Wisdom and discernment are really key to spotting creeps. I agree with you, because there’s wisdom in a multitude of counselors.
But to catch the creeps, you’ve got to be a discerning person; you’ve got to be alert; you’ve got to be wise. To get there, you’ve got to be steeped in the Scriptures so you can spot these things when they emerge.
Mary: Absolutely; because if you don’t understand what is right and what is wrong, what is good, what is bad—if you don’t understand what the Word of God has to say about what truly is a creep and what isn’t—then you’re going to misjudge; you’re going to make some bad judgements.
Bob: I think all of us need to, also, be alert to the voice of our conscience/the voice of the Spirit—
Bob: —because God will do that for us. There’ll be those little things, where you go, “Wait; is this the right thing?” When you feel that, don’t just shrug it off and move forward; go: “Hang on. I need to pull out. I need to think about this, so that I can be wise in the choices that I make.”
Dave: I know for men—I don’t think it’s any different for women—I need the Spirit; I need the conscience; I need another guy to help me identify the creeps. You need that guy/you need that woman to come beside you and go: “He’s a creep! What are you doing?!” Then, you sort of wake up.
I love what you said—I wasn’t even going there in this chapter until you said it—“The biggest creep of all—
Mary: —“is Satan.”
Dave: —“is Satan!” I’ve never heard him called “the biggest creep of all.”
Mary: He is biggest creep; absolutely.
Dave: Talk about that influence.
Mary: He’s the uber-creep; he’s the big, big mighty creep, who seeks to creep up on us and to encroach on children of God to get them to live lives of defeat, to suck them into sin, to get them distracted from knowing God’s Word, and to get them distracted from following Jesus wholeheartedly.
It’s interesting—this passage talks about these false teachers creep into households. I want to focus on that last little phrase: “into households.” I think that there’s a sense in which women are the keepers of the households. Men are the guardian in terms of the shepherds of the households. I think there’s a sense in which the mama bear is the one who watches over all the relationships, watches what’s going on and is able to perceive and sense when things are off.
I can’t tell you the number of times, in my marriage and in my home, when I have had a sense: “Something is off here,” “Something is spiritually wrong,” “Something is creeping in on my household.” I may not know exactly what it is. Maybe it’s my child, whose emotions or relationships are off—something’s not right. I have prayed and asked God: “God, would You please reveal sin in my household? We need to see it, so we can deal with it. I want to see what this creep is.”
God has, in His grace, done that. It hasn’t always been pretty, but a strong woman does not allow the creeps into her household/into her home. She claims that for Christ—she says: “Satan, you’re not encroaching here. You’re not encroaching here with attitudes; you’re not encroaching here on my marriage; you’re not encroaching here on my children. I am going to fight for this ground for the gospel. I’m going to fight for truth—I’m going to fight it in my own life; I’m not going to allow the creeps in my own life—and I’m going to be the watch-keeper and guardian over my family, to pray for them, and to pray with my husband and to fight with him, and to alert him when I see things creeping in.”
Dave: It’s interesting—in the passage, Paul says the creeps capture weak women; they don’t capture strong women.
Mary: That’s right.
Dave: I’m sure they’re trying;—
Mary: They are trying.
Dave: —it’s not going to happen.
Mary: It’s not going to happen.
Bob: You summarize this in your book, The Right Kind of Strength; you say: “A weak woman tolerates creeps. She doesn’t know how to spot them, doesn’t have the strength to resist their advances. A strong woman remains on the lookout.”
That’s the strength you’re talking about: “Stay vigilant; stay alert.” I’m thinking of the passage we always think of when it relates to men—like 1 Corinthians 16—that says: “Stand firm in the faith; be on guard; be alert. Be courageous; be strong. Let everything you do be done in love.” That passage can be applied, in a womanly way, to what a strong woman needs to look like.
Ann: I think, too, it’s really important that women, as we come together—I’ve always said this—that a woman needs someone in front of her, beside her, and behind her.
In front of her, meaning someone that will mentor you: it’s someone that’s going to pour into you/who is encouraging you.
Someone beside you is someone who’s running the race right beside you. You’re praying. When you say, “My husband’s an idiot,” she says, “I hear you, but let’s pray for him.” It’s somebody who’s on the same track, spiritually.
And then somebody behind us—that we’re looking for those women, who are just new in their faith, or they’re younger than us, or they’re behind us.
I think that’s really critical; because as we do that, we start to look for those women in our lives.
I’m telling you—for women, even if they think that: “I’ve failed; I’m divorced,” “My kids are rebelling”; but you’ve learned so much! Don’t let Satan take you off that path and that race, because God still wants to use you.
Bob: There really is a connection between catching the creeps and the habits you talk about in the book—which is where the passage in 2 Timothy takes us—the idea of mastering your mind.
Mary: The passage actually says that these weak women were captured. Actually, some versions of the Bible use the word “captivated,” the women were “captivated.” There’s an element of psychological domination or psychological/intellectual mastery that’s taken place. These women are being deceived in their minds. I think weak women don’t guard their minds.
Strong women are very careful to guard their minds for truth/to fight for truth; and when they see falsehood come into their minds, to correct that with truth.
Bob: How do you guard your mind? What do you do, practically, to try to strengthen the muscle of your mind and to keep it alert?
Mary: I think that it’s important to know the Word of God. If you don’t know the Word of God, you’re not going to be able to guard your mind. You need to know Scripture. If you don’t know Scripture, you won’t know what’s false and what’s true.
As a Christian—when I have submitted my life to Christ and to His way and His word—then I have to take Scripture and go: “Alright; there are all these thoughts going through my head here. I’m thinking, ‘Mary, you’re worthless. You’re good for nothing.’ There’s all this mental chatter going on.”
I need to evaluate it—to stop and evaluate it—and go: “Is that the way that God wants me to think? Am I thinking according to the truth in the Word of God, or am I giving into deceit?” We’re told that the big creep, Satan, is the master deceiver; and he’s the accuser of the brethren. He’s always going to be whispering in my ear falsehood: things to accuse me, things that will lead me astray, things that are untrue. I have to fight for the truth with the help of God’s Holy Spirit. His Word is how you come against error with truth, and you come against it with the truth of the Word of God.
What I have done, if there’s something in my life that I am struggling with, I will sometimes identify a Scripture to help me fight that battle. For instance, when I was battling with just having a critical spirit and having critical words, I memorized
Ephesians 4:29, which said, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen.” That’s one of the ways that I combatted that creep and that falsehood that was in my mind, and combatted it with truth.
Bob: This is Romans 12:2; right? “Don’t be conformed to this world; be transformed”—how are you transformed?—“by renewing your mind.” And the renewing of the mind is all of the wrong thinking—that comes, as standard operating equipment, when we’re born: the world, the flesh, and the devil are all feeding in there—got to be combatted with right thinking, which is what the Bible gives us. That’s got to be reprogrammed: Bible memorization, meditating on Scripture, studying, going deep.
If somebody says, “Yes, I spend ten minutes in devotional reading every day,” that’s great; but that’s not sufficient. That’s like saying, “Yes, I have”—I was going to say, “a Twinkie,”—and reading the Bible’s not the same as a Twinkie—“I have a cookie/a healthy cookie, every day”; right? You need some meat and potatoes; you need some vegetables—you need to go a little deeper in your understanding of God’s Word—this is how you renew your mind so that you can stand strong and fight the creeps.
Dave: I think it’s so critical—Mary just said this—to take every thought captive—
2 Corinthians 10—it’s like: “I cannot let this negative lie linger for a second”; and I want to! I want to play with it; I want to entertain it; I want to live there. It’s like: “No! Grab it; take it captive,”—that’s what a strong woman does; that’s what a strong man does. A weak one plays with it; lets it build: “Oh, it’s alright. It’s not going to go anywhere.
Mary: “Not a big deal.”
Dave: “It’s going to destroy you”; yes.
Mary: Yes, exactly. A strong woman will do that, and not just with the negative, but also just in terms of the temptation that comes her way. I think that women—nowadays, we’re seeing women are far more tempted to engage in affairs. It used to be that it was the man who went out and cheated; and now, often we’re seeing that it’s the woman who does/who is responsible for bringing adultery into the relationship and marital breakdown.
Lingering with the temptation or the thought: “Oh, the grass is greener….” or “I married the wrong guy,” or “My husband is so this, so I need to think about and dwell about this.” The thought life and the fantasy life—women tend to have these romantic fantasies that they dwell on, and they play them over and over in their minds; or something they saw on television: “Oh, I wish that was me.” I think that taking thoughts captive—taking that captive, as a woman—it means shutting those things down—not just the negative thoughts—but also the temptations that come into our minds.
Dave: Sometimes creeps are thoughts. You have to see them as this ugly, gooney thing coming. It’s like: “No; I am not going to let that thought land. I’m going to grab it now.”
Bob: Part of the way for a woman to renew her mind and be thinking biblically is to—
Dave: I know what you’re going to say, Bob; you’re going to say, “Buy this book.” [Laughter]
Bob: —get a copy of Mary’s book, The Right Kind of Strong; because it is anchored in the truth of God’s Word and keeps pointing us back there as we go through this. We’ve got copies of Mary’s book, The Right Kind of Strong, in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can go online to order a copy at FamilyLifeToday.com, or call to order: 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the website, FamilyLifeToday.com; or call to order at 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
We want to also encourage moms and dads to be having conversations with our daughters and our sons about godly character, godly strength—about the “right kind of strong” for both boys and girls. We put together a resource, years ago, called Passport2Purity®. There have been thousands—really, tens of thousands of parents—who have taken preadolescent sons or daughters away for a Passport2Purity getaway. Take a couple of days; go somewhere that your son or daughter would like to go. Listen to some audio on the way—some conversation about issues facing preadolescents: about dating, about the “birds and the bees,” and about peer pressure, and how all that’s going to affect as they move into middle school and into high school.
We have learned from so many of you how important/how helpful these getaway weekends had been. We want to make the Passport2Purity resource available to you. If you can help with a donation to support this ministry, the Passport2Purity kit is our gift to you. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com to give an online gift, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make a donation over the phone.
We’re happy to send you the Passport2Purity kit, along with one of two books. We’re going to be talking this week to Vicki Courtney about a book she wrote called 5 Conversations You Must Have with Your Daughter. Next week, we’ll talk to her about 5 Conversations You Must Have with Your Son. We’ll send you your choice of either the book for daughters or the book for sons so that, as you plan your getaway weekend, you can have some follow-up to do. Go through this book with your kids and talk about the issues that she talks about in the book.
Again, all of this is because of the burden we have that you, as parents, will be better connected with your kids in having important life conversations/spiritual conversations. All of this happens because of folks who help make it happen by donating to this ministry. Donate, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. When you donate, ask for your copy of the Passport2Purity kit, and ask for your copy of either the 5 Conversations You Must Have with Your Daughter or …Have with Your Son books. We’ll get those to you as our way of saying: “Thank you for your ongoing support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We appreciate you.”
We hope you can join us back tomorrow when we’re going to continue our conversation with Mary Kassian. We’re going to talk about how strength and humility are connected; because often, it seems like those two conflict with one another; they really don’t. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow. I hope you can join us.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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