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View January 2009 Issue >>
 

Beth Moore - Breaking Free!

Beth Moore founded Living Proof Ministries, a biblically-based organization for women, in 1994. It is based in Houston, Texas, and it primarily focuses on aiding women who desire to model their lives on evangelical Christian principles. (4) Women from around the world sit under Moore’s teaching at Living Proof Live conferences, sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources. (3) Moore also teaches through her radio show, Living Proof with Beth Moore, and appears as a regular on the television program LIFE Today, where she hosts Wednesdays with Beth. In 2007 and 2008, Moore, along with Kay Arthur and Priscilla Shirer, founded Deeper Still: The Event, a LifeWay weekend conference featuring the three women.

Moore writes books based on the regular Bible studies that she conducts at the Living Proof Live conferences and at her local church, First Baptist Church, Houston, Texas. Moore’s books include Breaking Free, Believing God, and When Godly People Do Ungodly Things. Through her books, the Internet, DVD, video, and audiotape, women from every denomination around the world have participated in her Bible studies, while many others have listened to her on the radio or heard her speak in person.

Through the years American missionaries and expatriates have taken the Bible studies overseas, resulting in Beth Moore Bible study groups popping up all over the world. Moore's Living Proof Live conferences have taken her to thirty-nine states since 1994 and have been attended by more than 421,000 women. She has also taught conferences for women in numerous countries, including Ireland, England, Singapore, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and India.

In the early 1980s, while she was still trying to discern how God wanted to use her in full-time ministry, Moore helped take care of kids at her church during the week so that other moms could take a midday break. She led an aerobics class that often ended with a short devotion. She invited groups of women into her home for Bible study and led a monthly prayer breakfast.

 

These activities don't sound nearly as exciting as the life Moore leads today—dashing around the U. S. and across the world as one of the most respected and sought-after Bible teachers.

 

It was volunteering to teach Sunday school more than a decade ago at First Baptist that helped Moore realize she didn't know Scripture the way she desired. To strengthen her knowledge of the Bible, she enrolled in a doctrine class at church that she secretly feared would be boring. But as she watched the teacher lovingly pore over Scripture, Moore realized something was missing in her life.

 

"I began to pray two things," she remembers. "I prayed to love God more than I love any other thing in all of life. And then I prayed to love his Word. And all I can tell you is when I began to pray that, he started to do it."

 

Moore's deep yearning to know Scripture led her to write a number of studies based on the lives of biblical figures like David, Paul, and even Jesus. Perhaps her most popular study, called Breaking Free, drew from Moore's personal experiences to show believers how they can be released from the trappings of sin or pain and experience joy and freedom in Christ.

 

"She's had private Greek lessons," Bisagno says of Moore's devotion to biblical scholarship. "But Beth's secret is not that. It's in her commitment to the Word and applying it. She just sparkles. Beth's got the whole package."

Moore wanted to make sure she knew her stuff, and Bisagno played a big role in her development. Their relationship stands out as unique in a denomination where leaders assert that women should not be pastors or hold prominent positions of leadership over men in a church.

 

Bisagno, however, said Moore never went against Southern Baptist beliefs. "Beth would be strong to tell you that she doesn't think a woman should be a preacher," he says.

 

Moore admits she steers clear of denominational issues. "My thing is discipleship," she says. "That's what I love and feel most called to. My part is very undenominational. I'm not really into the [Southern Baptist] political scene."

Abused by someone outside of her immediate family as a child, Moore's scars ran deep and followed her into adulthood. In the preface to her Breaking Free workbook, she shares how she felt so violated and ashamed that she didn't even want to wear white on her wedding day. "I did not feel pure," she writes. "[There were] scars from being a childhood victim of someone else's problem."

It's a feeling that unfortunately many women can relate to, Moore says. But that doesn't mean she's felt compelled to share all the details of the horrible ordeal.

 

"I never share the details of my childhood victimization for two reasons," Moore says in Breaking Free. "First, I want the Healer glorified, not the hurt; and second, a greater number of people can relate to more general terms.

 

This wasn't the last time she would turn to God for healing. Later in life, after the birth of her two daughters, Moore and her husband, Keith, adopted a 4-year-old boy who was the son of a close family member. For seven years, Moore raised Michael like he was her own.

 

Then one day the birth mother decided she wanted her son back. The anguish that this caused Moore and her family, as she recounts in her 2000 autobiographical book, Feathers from My Nest, once again left Moore crying out to God.

 

Moore's willingness to talk about this and other personal trials—like when she lost her mother to cancer or watched her daughter struggle through an eating disorder—has helped many women face similar challenges.

 

"She's very real and open with her own struggles," Hedin says. "She doesn't set herself up as a woman who knows it all. She's had some tough things happen in her life. She doesn't go into detail, but she lays them out and says, 'I've been there.'"

 

The fact that other women are being set free from sin and bondage by studying Moore's materials is proof that God is alive and at work in Moore's life, said First Baptist of Orlando's Holder.

 

There's no doubt about it: Beth Moore live is fiery and funny. She may don her husband Keith's hunting camouflage to hit home a point, or unroll a literal laundry list of family dysfunctions that extends down the stage into the audience ("That's why," she cracks, "we're the 'Moores'—more of this problem, more of that … "). But fun isn't her main agenda; it's to communicate the transforming power of Jesus and his Word to the women worldwide for whom she says God's given her a supernatural love. She's passionate about this message because Jesus transformed her from what she calls her "miserable past."

 

Born in a small Arkansas town, Beth was raised by loving Christian parents. But early abuse occurred at the hands of someone she declines to name. As a result, Beth, a shy, troubled girl, grew into an insecure woman who made many wrong choices. "I've been in the pit, but I also know the One who pulled me from the pit," she says.

 

With her background, Beth admits she never imagined she'd one day have an international teaching ministry. But when her hunger for God's Word exploded a couple decades ago, Beth began writing Bible studies and teaching them to an ever-expanding group of women. Requests for Beth's material became so numerous that she formed Living Proof Ministries in 1995. Today women of every denomination around the world participate in her Bible studies series through the Internet, DVD, video, or audiotape. Countless others listen to her on radio, attend her Living Proof … Live! events, or read one of her books, including Breaking Free, A Heart Like His, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, Feathers from My Nest (all Broadman & Holman), and Voices of the Faithful (Integrity).

 

Despite her high profile, Beth, "48 and holding," is a private woman whose home is her refuge from the pressure cooker of ministry. Married for 27 years to Keith Moore, she's the mother of two daughters, Amanda, 26, and Melissa, 23. At Living Proof's Houston headquarters, photos of her family and her beloved dogs, Sunny and Beanie, sit everywhere.

 

Beth Moore is petite, but her body language is larger than life. She paces the stage dramatically, gesturing wildly with her hands and arms. Her attractive eyes bulge with intensity as she speaks. Her voice, with its mild Texas accent, rises and falls like a dazzling violin solo. Moore's charisma is contagious. Give her five minutes and she can have an arena full of women bursting at the seams with laughter and feeling like they've known the spirited Bible teacher for their entire life.

 

Her secret? This wife and mother of two grown daughters knows how to relate to today's overextended Christian women because she's been there.

 

"We all know who this one is," she once told members of her Bible study class at First Baptist Church of Houston, Texas, as she held up a Superwoman costume. "This is the woman who is busy, busy, busy. She is happiest not only controlling her life, but also the lives of those around her. This is the woman with the bumper sticker that says, 'God could not be everywhere, so he created me.'"

 

The audience of 2,000 roared in approval of Moore's bull's-eye observation of the life that many women lead. But once Moore had the women's attention, her tone became more serious and reflective. Moore had a message from God that she needed to deliver. While the topics of her Bible-study classes or weekend conferences may vary, a few key principles are always present.

 

"She uses the phrase, 'The ground is level at the foot of the cross,'" says Libby Holder, a Florida woman who has attended two of Moore's weekend conferences. "Beth teaches us that it doesn't matter where you come from, because we all come to Christ the same way. I came away with the idea that God just takes ordinary people and uses them in extraordinary ways."

 

That last statement is actually an accurate description of Moore's own rise to the rank of one of America's top Bible teachers. It also explains how a stay-at-home mom with no formal theological training became a Bible teacher whose study materials have surpassed Henry Blackaby's wildly popular Experiencing God series in sales.

 

Experiencing God sold more than 2 million copies. It is estimated that Moore's seven Bible-study workbooks have sold more than 4 million copies since the first one, A Woman's Heart: God's Dwelling Place, was published in 1995. And that's a conservative estimate. Some industry sources put Moore's sales more in the 7-million range.

 

Not bad for someone who doesn't promise a bunch of spiritual quick fixes. Moore sells the Bible, plain and simple. Her frank yet engaging style of communication, however, has affected women —and men—across the country to their innermost core.

 

"We had her at our church several years ago," says Holder, 60, a member of the large First Baptist Church of Orlando. "I sat there with my mouth hanging open. It took me two weeks to process everything."

 

That's because Moore, who is 45, doesn't hold back when it comes to sharing what God has taught her. "She just has to teach it," says Carolyn O'Neal, director of women's ministries at Moore's home congregation of First Baptist-Houston, and a longtime friend of Moore's. "She says it's just got to come out."

 

What comes out is Moore's passion that other women get to know Jesus in an intimate way. "You know that she knows her [heavenly] Father and that it's not fake," Holder adds. "She shares some of her hurts and some of the things she's been through and how God still chose to use her. There's such freedom at her conferences. She says that God has a plan and purpose for each one of us, and that no matter who we are or where we have been, God wants us to live in total freedom."

 

Moore's conferences begin on a Friday evening and conclude on Saturday. Her girl-next-door persona (friends say she can down a bowl of chili cheese dip and chips in no time flat) draws as many as 10,000 women to the weekend venues. What keeps them coming back, though, is Moore's compelling message that abundant life awaits those who will hungrily devour Scripture.

 

At the start of a typical conference, Moore can be found on her knees in front of the women who have come to hear her speak. After opening with prayer, Moore always appeals to women to devote their everyday affairs to God and kneel before the Scriptures. Her mission is to promote biblical literacy. Her approach is clearly working.

 

"People are wanting to know that the Word of God is not just a book of doctrinal dos and don'ts—that it's a book of relationship," Moore says. "I think people struggle to believe in the absolute unfailing love of God; to know the romance of Christ. To let him get much further than skin deep."

 

Moore says her mission is to show Christians that the Bible "still speaks, still transforms, that it has the power to change lives."

 

"I am one of those lives," she says.

 

In this exclusive TCW interview, Beth talks not only about her past but also about her passion for God's Word and why she's compelled to teach other women how to develop that passion.

 

To learn more about Beth and Living Proof Ministries, check out her website at www.lproof.org.

Beth Moore’s newest Bible study is Esther: It’s Tough Being a Woman. Esther may have been a queen, but her life was no fairy tale. An outsider, a foreigner, and an orphan, she found herself facing an evil plan to destroy her people. And you thought your life was hard! The Old Testament story of Esther is a profile in courage and contains many modern parallels for today's overloaded and stressed woman. You can share Esther’s destiny—even if your glass slipper no longer seems to fit.

Join Beth in an in-depth and very personal examination of this great story of threat and deliverance. She peels back the layers of history and shows how very contemporary and applicable the story of Esther is to our lives. If you've ever felt inadequate, threatened, or pushed into situations that seemed overpowering, this is the study for you. Just as it was tough being a woman in Esther's day, it's tough today. This portion of God's Word contains treasures to aid us in our hurried, harried, and pressured lives.

 

 

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