Monday, May 6, 2019

The Faith to Ask Questions

Let me shoot you a scenario. A Child is arguing with his mother about staying up late on a school night. He is telling his mon that he wants to stay up an hour longer "because all his friends are doing it," but his mother stands firm stating that he needs to go to sleep at his normal time. Then the inevitable question comes. "But why?"

Now, this mother can go through all the details of why he needs to go to sleep at a normal time--
---That he is a nightmare to wake up in the morning even with his normal sleep schedule...
---That he needs as much sleep as possible so he can focus at school...
But instead, she responds with:

"Because I said so!"

Now, we've all been there. We have either been on the receiving end of that statement or on the side of giving that statement---or both. As a parent, I know that I have used this several times. 

"Why mom?" 
"Because I said so." 

"Why is this like this?"
"Because that is just the way it is."

"Why is the sky blue?"
"Because it is."

We all get tired of the questions, but I'll tell you something. I find myself thanking God that he doesn't get tired of our questions. But I realized something. We approach questions about God, the Bible, and Christian traditions much the same way that we approach the questions our children ask.

"Why do we do this (or not do this) as Christians?"
"Because God said so."

"Why do we do church this way?"
"Because that is just the way it is."

"How do we know what the Bible says is true?"
"Because it is."

And sometimes, when we ask those questions, we are quickly reminded of "Doubting Thomas." We all know that story. He's the disciple who demanded that he would not believe unless he saw and felt Jesus' wounds on the Living Lord. Jesus answered his request but said, Because you have seen me you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe" (Jn 20:29). Boy, do we rag on Thomas. How dare he not believe? But we say nothing about Peter and John who ran to the tomb to see for themselves that it was empty--God knows they didn't believe the women who ran to tell them. We say nothing about the other eight disciples who failed to believe until Peter and John came and confirmed what the women had originally told them. What is different? The difference is simply that Thomas was the only one who voiced his questioning, so we give him a bad rap. I want to point something out. When Jesus told Thomas "Because you have seen me you have believed," he said it in a room full of disciples who had doubted his resurrection.

But we take this as "do not question God." Jesus did call out the lack of belief, but questioning God is not at all what is being addressed here. The angel (and Jesus himself) had commanded the women to tell the disciples that he rose. It was not what they questioned---it was why. They questioned, not to inform belief but because they doubted those who were sent.


Throughout the Bible, there are numerous accounts of people questioning God. The Psalms are riddled with questions of "Why?" The prophets regularly questioned God and even expressed blatant frustration with his call on their lives. Even Jesus questioned and pleaded with God. So why were the disciples "rebuked" and not the Psalmist? Why were Jesus' friends called out and not the prophets? Why is it okay for Jesus to question God but not his disciples?


Hebrews 11:1-2 says, "Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. For by it our ancestors won God's approval." In verse six, it says, "Now without faith, it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."(Italics mine)

Those who earnestly seek him.

Seek. To ask, to request, to solicit, to call for, to entreat, to beg, to petition... to question. 

Matthew 7:7-11 says, "Ask and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be open to you. For everyone who asks receives and the one who seeks finds., and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Who among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for fish, will give him a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him?"

Parents, we identify with this. If our child asked for something that is good for them, we would NEVER give them something that would harm them instead.

When my daughter was little, she loved vegetables even more than she does now. She used to ask for carrots and celery instead of dessert. You can bet your bottom dollar I did not wave a cupcake under her nose instead of giving her the desired carrots and celery. Nope, I excitedly gave her the veggies and beamed at the fact that she wanted something that was healthy. I still brag about that characteristic. That girl STILL loves her fruits and vegetables.  

Even still, when she asks for healthy snacks--like oranges or broccoli (seriously, broccoli)--I make sure that she gets a healthy snack. 

Jeremiah 33:3 says, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."

God is longing to reveal his truth to us. But he is not going to bestow it on someone who refuses to seek it. 

"A discerning mind seeks knowledge, but the mouth of the fool feeds on foolishness" (Pro 15:14).

A discerning mind seeks knowledge.

How do we gain knowledge?  By asking questions. When we ask God for wisdom, for understanding, for knowledge, he will give it--

IF WE EARNESTLY SEEK IT!

"How much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him?"

But we live in fear of asking. We take "fear God" as "don't you dare question."

But those questions plague us. We read our Bibles and wonder... or at least I do... I wonder... and then I ask... and when I ask, I am always told: "Because the Bible says." But the question doesn't leave. I read the Bible and wonder why things must be this particular way, but was always told: "that is just the way it is."

"That is just the way it is."

THAT IS SUCH A LAZY RESPONSE!!!

#sorrynotsorry 

But for real. If anyone has used that as an excuse for why Church is the way it is, well folks, y'all are just being lazy!

"A discerning mind seeks knowledge."

"That is just the way it is," "Because the Bible says so," "Because the Pastor says so." These are dismissive statements. They are not knowledge seeking or knowledge enhancing. They are empty words of a lazy religion. The question is still there, unanswered and brushed--like a fungus, eating away at the seed of faith within the heart.

But the fact is, we are afraid. Countless Christians profess that you cannot love God and the sciences. In fact, John Wesly once said, "I am convinced, from many experiences, I could not study either mathematics, arithmetic, or algebra...without being a deist, if not an atheist" (qtd. in Meunier). We fear the questions. We fear the closer examination. We want faith to be "at a glance" instead of "detailed analysis."

But Why?

Because Science, Mathematics, History, Psychology, Sociology-- these all force us to examine the Bible in greater detail. We view that as a doubt to its authenticity and there is the fear that if something with the Bible is found to be untrue, our faith will prove to be false. Well, if your faith is in the total historical, scientific, and mathematical accuracy of the Bible, sorry folks, your faith is in the wrong thing.

Now, don't get me wrong. I believe the Bible to be true. I believe, wholeheartedly, in 2 Thes. 3:16 
"All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." But it was also written by man, and sometimes some of the minor details recorded were wrong. ie: Jeremiah got the date of the fall of Jerusalem wrong--but that does not invalidate the Bible. Why? Because the Bible isn't about the dates. It is about God. We cannot put our faith in the minor details of the Bible. Our faith needs to be in the one the Bible is about.

Proverbs 1:7 says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction."

As Christians, if we fear the Lord, we will continuously seek him--and seek knowledge about him. That means a closer examination of scripture.

"Fools despise wisdom and instruction."

Why do fools despise this? Simply because a fool does not want to be told they are wrong. They want to continue living life in bliss ignorance believing they have life completely figured out. 

"Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, and the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn't collapse because its foundation was on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and doesn't act on them will be like the foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. It collapsed with a great crash" (Matt 7:24-27).

What is your foundation?

Is it the Rock?

Is it God and seeking Truth?

OR

Is it the Sand?

Is it the way you've always been raised to believe what the Bible says?
Is it your personal interpretation of scripture?
Is it what your Church, Pastor, or Parents believe?
Is it what is easiest for you to believe?

How many times do we become irritated when we hear someone use the excuse: "Well this is the way we've always done it" and fighting progress? This is the mindset that has kept women from equality. It is the mindset that kept the races segregated. It is the process that caused people to fight medical advances. 

And yet...

It is the same mindset that keeps us from growing in our faith, knowledge, and trust in God.

Tradition has its place, but remember--it isn't everything.

And "because that is just the way it is" is laziness through and through.
The "Why" must be answered.

As Christians, we cannot be afraid of "Why?" Our trust should be in God. He is strong enough to withstand any question we have. Whether it is about him, about why he works a specific way, why something happened the way it did... it doesn't matter what questions. He gave us a brain wired with wonder. We are supposed to use it.

A three-year-old does not fear questions. Any parent can attest to the fact that at that age, everything is "Why?" Maybe that is what Jesus meant when he said we must be like Childre. We must be willing to admit we do not have all the answers and not be okay with a simple statement of "that is just the way it is."

Look at your Pastor, your Sunday School Teacher, your Bible Study Leader, your College Professor--- these people are human. They study the Bible, but they do not have some special direct line to God for accurate interpretation that you do not possess. They read the same Bible you do. What they say is not the end-all-take-their-word-for-it-100%-of-the-time-Truth. They spend a ton of time studying what they will share with you and they will never share with you something they feel is inaccurate, but they are not the divinely-selected-interpreters of scripture. 

EACH OF US MUST STUDY FOR OURSELVES!

Once upon a time, only priests possessed the ability to read the Bible--and through that "power" a lot of heresies were born. These heresies were blindly followed because the people didn't know any better. When the Bible was translated into the common language, People were actually angry. Why? Because of fear. The Priests told them what to believe and how to express their "faith"--and ignorance was bliss. If they had to read the Bible for themselves, they would be responsible for what they discovered. But they didn't truly have faith. What they had was blind obedience bred out of fear. 

Romans 12:2 says, "Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God."

We live in an age of ignorance. I am just going to say it. Browsing through social media, it is very evident. I scroll through my newsfeed and see numerous posts which express how uninformed everyone chooses to be. I cannot tell you how many "Pray for Dakota Miller" messages I have received.***For those of you who don't know, it is a hoax message that has circulated about an 18-month old boy who shot himself with a nail gun*** I have been getting those messages for the last two years and for the last two years I have bee responding with a link explaining that the message is a hoax.

How many of us received a message on facebook saying "Hi, I got another friend request from you yesterday... hold your finger on the message until the forward button appears..." a simple examination of this message stated that it was simply a forward and no one actually received a friend request from you or even the person who sent it to you---but no one wanted to accept that as the truth. 

The fact is, this age doesn't really care about what is true. The truth takes effort to find and it's much easier to post uninformed opinions or thoughts than to make sure what we are posting is true--and it is much easier to believe what we have always been told about the Bible (even if it doesn't quite make sense) than it is to seek the truth and know without a shadow of a doubt that what we believe is accurate. 

But a faith that is blind is not faith, it is ignorance. 

And ignorance is bliss.

Until it's not.

I am going to give you a challenge:

HERE IT IS:

Ask Questions.

Seek Answers--don't be content with lazy responses.

When someone else asks a question, don't give them a lazy answer.

If you don't know the answer, seek the answer.

Remember: A faith that is blind is not faith, but rather a fearful ignorance masquerading as submission to God and his will.

But God's will is for our faith to have a firm foundation--the Solid Rock

and The Solid Rock--the foundation our faith should be built on--is Christ.

The questions will come and the doubts may surface, but if our foundation is on Christ, no matter what answer comes our way, our faith will not be shaken.

"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose" (Phil. 2:12-13). 











Works Cited:

Meunier, John. “John Wesley's Advice to Stephen Hawking.” John Meunier, 20 Sept. 2010, johnmeunier.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/john-wesleys-advice-to-stephen-hawking/.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The *Real* Proverbs 31 Woman

I remember shortly after my oldest daughter turned 6 months old, I began looking for a job to help make ends meet at home. My husband was working overtime hours and as soon as he would clock-out, we would head to the neighboring town and work at the church until late into the night, so I decided it was time to contribute.

That was when the opinions came in.

That was when the pastor told us his views.

A woman’s place is in the home.

Referencing Proverbs 31, the pastor of our church at the time made his opinion of me working outside the home very clear.

In his mind, I was sinning.

And, actually, this is a very common view within the general Church today.
The man needs to be the bread-winner, the spiritual leader, the head of the household.
That is how I had always grown up.

Several years after struggling with needing to find a job, I was in a similar situation. Only this time Jason was the associate pastor at another church, and due to his secular job being shady in their dealings, he was laid off promptly after I gave birth to baby number two. The church only paid us with housing and when my little boy was a couple months old, we were feeling the struggle. Having burned through our little amount of savings, we were financially strapped. I called my mother, hoping for so support. I knew I needed to get a job, but leaving my baby home was devastating for me. But the support I so desperately needed from my mother was not there.

Instead, I was told “Your husband needs to get another job and support his family. A woman needs to be home with her children.”—Your husband is not being a good husband and father if he is not working sunrise to sunset on top of ministry hours to make ends meet, and you are not being a good mother if you leave your children to work outside the home for a few hours every day.

I was already devastated, and what my mother said hurt worse. I spent several months with no contact with her. She had wounded me, but more than that, she had caused me to doubt my own success at being a Godly wife and mother. So, as anyone who wants to know God’s heart would do, I dug into the word. And that is where I found it.

Proverbs 31—again—This was the biblical chapter I had read a billion times over as a teenager. I was determined to be a Proverbs 31 wife. I was going to be this ultimately successful parent who made both her children and her husband proud. But my mother said I was failing—but as I read it again with fresh eyes, I noticed something intriguing.

A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings, she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand, she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

This was not some submissive wife who depended upon her husband to be her provider. Actually, quite the contrary. She earned and was responsible for her own money. She works with her hands, she considers a field and buys it and out of her earnings plants a vineyard. She manages her household (which means she was in charge of the servants and maintaining the finances). She is charitable—and if you notice, she does not run her charity by her husband. Instead, at the very beginning of the section, it says that her husband has COMPLETE confidence in her. He trusts her and she trusts him. They are in a relationship of mutuality.

He has complete confidence in her, and he is respected at the city gate… I have heard so many instances where men will chat among themselves and joke about their wives squandering money—this is not one of those instances. The woman of noble character and her husband have a relationship of complete trust and respect; and as a result, both of them are highly respected by those around them. A husband constantly ragging on about his wife will not have a high level of respect from those around him (and neither will his wife as he has shattered any positive reputation she may have had) and vice versa. A relationship of mutuality is one in which both parties are cherished and respected by the other—neither dominating or dictating the direction of the relationship, but both working together toward a common goal within their relationship.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

A woman of noble character is a woman who does what she needs to do to take care of her family as a mutual provider for them. If she is a single woman—with or without kids—she is her provider. If she is married, then she works in conjunction with her husband to provide—whether financially or not. “Honor her for all that her hands of done”—meaning she works hard and needs to be recognized for it. “Let her works bring her praise at the city gate”—Do not even dare undermine or ridicule her for working outside of the mold you have placed her in. Let her works bring her praise at the city gate. Let her be publicly acknowledged for the effort she has put into supporting her family and those around her. Let us stop forcing women into the corner of submission telling her it’s the “Proverbs 31” way—it’s not. Proverbs 31, taken in context and truth, is empowering, emboldening, and all about a woman being made a mutual and equal partner in relationships… not about being a submissive partner who merely supports her husband by cooking and cleaning. Allow women to be who they are called to be—Who God has designed them to be. Let women be themselves.

A woman of noble character is a woman with her OWN character—stop trying to force women into your nice little mold of a sandwich making housekeeper. She was made to be so much more than that. She was made to be Noble!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

New Year; New Name

My followers will notice that the blog has undergone a name change. Formerly "Just the Pastor's Wife" it now holds the title "Woman Behind the Pulpit". Why? Well, the reasons are two-fold. First, I was continuously getting comments about needing to drop my "Just the Pastor's Wife" title now that I am pursuing ministry. After several professors, fellow pastors, and close friends made the suggestion, I decided to at least consider it.

Consider it I did, and I realized something. Pursuing my call means that I am not guaranteed to remain "the pastor's wife". There was no promise that I would serve alongside my husband as his associate--in fact, I feel called to eventually lead (not for a while, but eventually). I do not know what that looks like yet, if that means that we end up pastoring two different churches, co-pastor, or he becomes my associate--that is entirely up to God. But I did realize that whatever the case, the "pastor's wife" title was soon (even if several years away) to become obsolete. So here I am. Now embracing the "Woman behind the pulpit". It is figurative now. I am not regularly preaching (though I did recently preach my first pulpit supply sermon---that was awesome. Right now, I stand in support with my husband as he stands behind the pulpit--in the future, I will literally be the one up there preaching.

As this new year dawns, I embrace my call-- not only in action but in name as well. I am no longer just a pastor's wife. I am called to empower, embolden, and lead.

Welcome to this new era!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Line in the Sand ***TRIGGER WARNING***

Lately, I have had a theme on my mind. The theme is the design of the Creation of the world. I am part of a church denomination that embraces the design as the blueprint for who we are meant to be. I love that about my Church. God designed us to be perfect and to live in a perfect relationship with him. Beautiful. But my church goes beyond that. It expresses the design of God’s creation as sexual relationships being between one man and one woman. Okay, most evangelicals will get behind this. That was how God made them right? “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” is what you’ll hear by most Christian protesters at Gay Pride rallies—but really, that’s not why I am writing this blog post. I am writing this because of the much less popular view among evangelicals. It’s the belief that women and men are equally called—not in the “separate but equal” sense—but the seriously equal sense. That men and women are both called to leadership within the Body of Christ. I adore that part of my church. I believe that statement with all my heart. Why? Let me explain.

Genesis 1 details the intention God had in the creation of mankind.

So, God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and every living creature that moves on the ground.’ Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was the evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.”(vv.27-31, NIV)

I want to call everyone’s attention, not only to what is in this passage but also to what is not (an aspect that is equally telling). This passage shows that God told “THEM”—male and female to subdue and rule over the earth. They had joint authority. He gave them everything. However, there is a striking lack of God telling Adam to rule over his wife in the original design. Did you notice that? Adam and Eve appear to have been blessed with absolute equality. Neither ruling over the other instead, they are working side by side as leaders in the paradise God had created for them. 

However, after the fall—after sin entered the world and corrupted the design—God addresses the man and woman and punishes them for their sin.

To the woman, he said, ‘I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor, you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.
“To Adam, he said, ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil, you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.’”
(Genesis 3:16-19)

Simply explained, Adam ruling over his wife (and subsequently, men ruling over women) was a result of the fall—a result of sin entering this world. I find it interesting to note that women having painful child-births is acknowledged as a result of sin. “Eve ruined it for everyone. Darn her!” However, the patriarchal mindset is viewed as God ordained? How is that possible? How can one part of Eve’s punishment be because of sin, but the other be something God desired for humanity? God’s statement that her husband would rule over her is a result of her eating the fruit, not something he ordained or wanted. But you reap what you sow—and in this case, Eve ate the fruit and gave some to her husband. That was on her.

I also find it interesting to note what Adam’s punishment was. He would labor—work hard and be the breadwinner. My husband pointed out to me the irony that this seems to be a point of pride for men. Like this was a reward or something. Adam was being punished. He would have to work to survive and keep his family alive. Where God designed the Earth and gave Adam and Eve dominion over it, now suddenly Adam (and Eve) was having to work extremely hard to simply get by. Again, that was not how God designed it—but here we have modern men rejoicing and bragging about their fallen state. They brag that they’re the breadwinner when that was actually meant to be a punishment. It is like a child being happy to be placed in time-out. It just does not make sense.

But that is the world we live in.

Especially as evangelical Christians.

I was told by a pastor once that I should not work outside the home because that is not what God intended. No, that is not what the curse intended. God intended for me to be equal to my husband in our responsibilities. Neither leading nor following.

“Well, okay. But Sin did enter the world, so we just need to deal with the consequences.”
Well, to a point—but not entirely. We need to understand that the world around us is fallen. We cannot hold the people who are not saved to the standard of Christian holiness but as Christians. As believers in Jesus Christ and those who have accepted his gift of love and grace at the cross, we are no longer under the curse.

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.’”(Galatians 3:13)

“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive in Christ Jesus. Therefore ,do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires, Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.(Romans 6:11-14)

“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.”(Romans 6:22)

Christ, when he died on the cross, he took the punishment for our sins. What does that mean then? It means that, Men, it is okay if you cannot work or make as much money as your wife. You’re not less of a man or less of a Godly person for earning less than your female counterpart. Wives, guess what, you’re not limited to being ruled over by your husband. You can now step up beside him and care for your family together—as equal partners, sharing in every responsibility that comes to caring for your home (earning money, cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, making coffee, etc.) Christ took the punishment, so why do we insist on “staying in time-out”?

Honestly, I think it is because of that stupid fruit still. Why did they eat it? Because they wanted to be like God. Men took lording over women and truly fell in love with the power. This is where we get the phrase “Toxic masculinity”—don’t get me wrong. I am not against masculinity. God made men masculine and Godly masculinity is awesome (I have a very great example of Godly masculinity right here in my home), but toxic masculinity is the masculinity that tells a woman she is less than what God DESIGNED her to be (an equal partner, and co-heirs in Christ) and limits her based on the curse upon Eve (which, by the way, we are no longer under). Toxic masculinity tells men who do recognize God’s call and design upon women that they’re “weak” or “girly” because they’re not “leading like a man”. Toxic masculinity is the masculinity that limits men to being the “stronger half”, the main breadwinner, and the “macho man”. Toxic masculinity has a “God-complex”—a desire to rule over something weaker than themselves. This is a masculinity refusing to get out from under the curse of sin and death. This is NOT God’s design for men.

What is Godly masculinity? Godly masculinity is the masculinity that chases after a relationship with God. A man like this wants to “walk with God in the garden”—talking with God and listening to what he has to say. A man like this won’t “lead” a woman but will walk along side her. He will listen to her and speak to her in a genuine dialogue—not overpowering her voice because he recognizes that it is a God-given voice that is meant to be heard. This is a man who will use his physical strength, not to overpower or Lord over a woman, but to help as needed (after all, she was meant to be his “Ezer” *or helper corresponding*, and he is meant to be hers). Godly masculinity will not flaunt male dominance but will use his voice to speak equality. Godly masculinity strives for the design of the creation of male and female and refuses to stay under a punishment that was taken away.

Now, Feminism goes the same way. There’s toxic forms and Godly forms. Each takes a similar form as masculinity stated earlier-- only replace it with “feminism”. 

But I want to draw your attention back to the beginning of this post. I pointed out my denomination’s stance on sexual relationships. The general evangelical church screams out “God designed them male and female” but ignores the fact that God designed males and females to be equally responsible. That he gave them shared authority. That he placed neither above the other. The church preaches that homosexuality is a result of the fallen world and therefore must not be allowed but, turns around and claims God’s ordination of male headship.


Church, I am drawing a line in the sand, and you cannot straddle it with one foot on one side and the other foot on the other. On one side is the design—the original blueprint for creation. One man, one woman, equally and lovingly made by God to share the authority over the earth together in a life-sharing and life-giving way. On the other side is the result of the curse—men and women fighting over authority in toxic masculinity and toxic feminism, acceptance of sexual immorality, abuse, sin, and death. You cannot preach in favor of part of God’s design and against the rest of it. It’s all or nothing. So, Church, are you going to turn around and accept the design of God with the unity and mutual authority of male and female. Or are you going to stop shouting about “Adam and Steve” and start waving the rainbow flag? You can either embrace the design or reject it. So, Church, what’s it going to be?

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Displacement

As many of you know, my husband has recently started the position Senior Pastor. We uprooted and left the place where we brought my two youngest children home from the hospital. We left the people in our old church--the ones who may as well have been grandparents, aunts, and uncles to my children with how much they spoiled my kids. But we left filled with hope for this new season.

However, I haven't settled down yet. I feel anxious. We have been here almost two months and I still find myself dreading each new day. I have continuously prayed for contentment, and I have adopted a practice of "fake it til you make it" but you can only fake a smile for so long--eventually the mask wears off. Now, don't get me wrong. I love our new church. The people are incredible and I have already become friends with several of the women in our church--that is not the issue. I simply feel like I am in the wrong place.

Have you ever felt like that? Like even though all the circumstances are right, you just feel out of place? I love our new home. I love our new church. I love this town. But, no matter how hard I try, it doesn't feel like home. I simply feel displaced.

In the last week, this feeling of displacement has been so strong that I have literally lost sleep. I have had one full night of sleep since Sunday. I slept maybe an hour-and-a-half Sunday night. Monday night I didn't sleep at all until 7am (and then I slept until about 9am). Tuesday night I didn't sleep at all--and I was awake until 11:30pm on Wednesday. I ended up waking up at 7am today. So I did get 8 hours last night. But you get the issue.

I have started dreading each new day because there is no light at the end of the tunnel. I have no idea why I feel this way or how long this feeling will last. I don't have any point to look forward to and say "well, I know that this is going to help me feel like this is the right place." Instead, I simply feel displaced.

I can honestly say, I have never felt this way. I mean, there have been elements in my life that I knew were not quite a good fit, but I have never felt so completely outside of "the right place" before. It's just difficult.

Anyways, sorry for the rant. Just had to get my thoughts out.

Friday, August 10, 2018

A Change in Tides

Well, I thought I would share a little of our personal journey with you all today. My husband, Jason, has recently accepted a position as Senior Pastor to Meadville Church of the Nazarene in Meadville, PA. We will be starting up there on the 27th of this month (August) and we have a lot of packing to do!

This week, I have also started classes again. I started "History and Polity of the Nazarene Church"-- it also has "Foundations of Women's Ordination" intertwined in the curriculum. I am so excited about taking this class! I am learning a lot and there is a lot of confirmation of the results of my own studies. Super exciting.

BUT-- the class is going to be taking place WHILE we move... so I am a bit on the stressed side. Somehow while taking care of the kids, cleaning our current home, and unpacking in the new parsonage, I will have to find time to do the assigned reading as well as the assignments-- this next month is going to be exciting.

 But God has got this!

Please be praying for my family and myself as we are in the midst of our transition. We are going to be a part of a whole new ball game...

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

PREACH IT SISTER!!!

"I truly believe you are going to be an awesome pastor!" - NBC Classmate

This past weekend has been an interesting one, to say the least. I woke up Sunday Morning and went to Church... but I felt like I was forgetting something--and I was... I had forgotten that I was supposed to lead the service that morning. I went into the service completely unprepared praying that God would direct what I said and did before and after pastor Raymond gave the message. Boy, did God come through!
After Church, Jason was still wondering what God was wanting him to speak on at Youth Group (he is not usually unprepared but this week we were planning to go up to Family Camp for the last service. However, with our move coming, Jason decided to have normal youth group to spend as much time with the group as possible.) Well, he finally gave up trying to think about what to speak on and asked me if I wanted to share. Well, it just happens that God had been laying something on my heart to share. I was a little concerned that I only had two hours to prepare but God came through!

After I taught, a young man from the group approached Jason and sited 1 Timothy 2:12--didn't quote it, just sited it and said "That's just what I think about it"-- the "it" being my speaking to the group. Well...

I believe that God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8). The God in the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament and the same God today. In Judges 4, we meet a woman named Deborah. Deborah was a prophet--but more than that, she was LEADING ISRAEL. She held authority over the men of Israel--and GOD SPOKE THROUGH HER.
God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
If God called Deborah then, he can (AND DOES) call women now. To be in authority. To minister to others. To share the Gospel of Christ--to everyone... not just other women and children.

"Well, the reason Paul wrote that to Timothy is that he was sexist."

I don't believe that either. Paul recognized the authority of Phoebe, Priscilla, Nympha, Lydia, Lois, Eunice--to name a few. Had he been misogynistic, I doubt highly that he would have recognized them at all. Instead, he would have greeted their spouses or the other male leaders in the Churches. No, he took the time to point out and recognize the authority of these women with no statement of "even though they shouldn't be in leadership".

Well then, why did Paul say, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet."?

Well, Timothy was leading a Church in the town of Ephesus. Ephesus was the central hub for the goddess Artemis. Artemis was believed to be the "mother of life" and her followers were decidedly feminist (the reason for Ephesians 5:22). Women were not respecting men and the men were in-turn abusing them into forced submission. The Temple of Artemis housed several levels of "Bees" or Women dedicated to serving her. Some of these women had taken a vow of Chastity and were, therefore, virgins their entire lives. These women served in the temple by maintaining the grounds and as manual laborers. However, one of the other levels were the women who performed "Ceremonial Prostitution". Men would come to the temple to "pray" to Artemis but the form of "prayer" was sexual in nature.

When Paul said, 'I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man", he was speaking TO Timothy ABOUT the church in Ephesus. An area where Women in religious authority were often used as sexual objects to connect to a deity.

There is only one other place in the Bible that Paul seems to say that women have no rights. The other passage is 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 "Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church." Yes, this by itself seems to say "women, just shut up. You don't have the right to speak." However, earlier in Corinthians mentions women praying and prophesying. The issue in the Corinthian Church was two-fold. 1. The culture was similar in nature to Ephesus (with the ceremonial prostitution) and 2. Women (specifically) were literally being disruptive. During the time of scripture reading and studying, the women were interrupting by speaking in tongues. This is explained just four verses later: "So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But all things should be done decently and in order." (Vs. 39-40)

I find it incredibly sad that these two verses in the Bible are being used to overlook the call of Women. Throughout the Bible, God has called women. He has constantly been raising women up from the dust that the world has trampled them under and placed them in leadership roles. 

"Well, God placed men as the head of the home, so shouldn't it be the same in the church?"

Actually, nowhere in the Bible does God call men to be the head of the house. Where that is coming from is Genesis 3 when God is explaining the curse of sin. He tells Eve that "your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you."(vs. 16) That was not a call placed on Adam. That was a punishment for Sin placed upon Eve. Paul does say that husbands are the head of the wife… but even then, the headship described at that moment is not of power but of love and care. A man's total willingness to sacrifice everything for his wife. You see, that willingness is often already found in a woman's instinct. The maternal pull of a woman will push her to give her all for the family she cherishes. She would give up her life for her children and the spouse she loves, but the maternal instinct is not as common for a man. This was a call from Paul to the men of the church to step up and sacrifice themselves for the women they love. To do the things they find burdensome and irritating. To take charge so their wives don't feel like they have to do everything themselves or nag their husbands. This is about mutual effort. "Husbands are the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church"--Christ came and served. He did not demand others to do for him, instead, he washed feet. He called the children unto himself. He healed the sick... Jesus stepped up and DID. 


The fact is, Men and Women are equal. There are no God-given gender roles (other than childbirth). The gender roles that we are allowing ourselves to be limited by are the result of sin. But we are no longer under the curse of sin and death. We are under grace. I am called to preach, and I am so thankful for what my classmate said. God IS going to use me. My God is not limited by my gender. He is so much bigger than that. How big is your God?

The Faith to Ask Questions

Let me shoot you a scenario. A Child is arguing with his mother about staying up late on a school night. He is telling his mon that he wants...