“A Book that Cannot Be Ignored”

Book reviews and a link to a chapter excerpt from my husband’s book 95 Theses Which Dispute the Church’s Conviction Against Women. This book is a thorough work on the subject, including exegesis of key passages, theological framework for discussion, as well as more pragmatic implications. Scot McKnight calls it “a book that cannot be ignored.”

Weeping for the City

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Today, I feel connected to the heart of Jesus when he looked out over the city of Jerusalem.

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.'” (Luke 19:41-42, NIV)

I am disheartened by the way people indiscriminately latch on to stories, pictures, and social media posts that support their view of events – regardless of whether those things are based in truth. No fact checking. No hesitation to hit “share” even if the post might be offensive, or a lie. And for those who profess to be Christian, I have to wonder, where is spiritual discernment?

I’ve said before [see prior post], and will continue to say, the biggest challenge in finding the truth in the Ferguson situation will be that many do not really want truth. They just want to support their agendas.

I’m all for working for causes, promoting change, and letting our voices be heard. But for Christians this simply cannot be done at the expense of truth.

When Christians have blinders on that prevent them from even considering possible truths in the perspectives of “opponents” – or worse yet, when we willingly align ourselves with those spreading lies – it is imperative to lay our hearts before the Lord, yet again, and ask him to reveal the sins we hold in our “hidden parts.”

If you’re willing to challenge yourself in this way, here are a few Scriptures to guide your prayer time:

Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being. And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. (Psalm 51:6, NASB).

This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. (John 3:19, NASB)

And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit. (Matthew 15:14, NASB)

Initial Prayer Thoughts after a Walk in Ferguson

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While participating in a march in Ferguson last night, I talked with five or six different young people. I asked two quick questions: 1) What do I need to know? and 2) What do I need to do?

Here are their responses:

1) What I need to know –

“We’re living in prison.”

“We’re all in this together.”

2) What I need to do –

“Speak”

“Pray”

“You’re doin’ it.”

“Walk with us.”

My mind and heart are stirring following this event, and I will be writing more on this later. But for now, I want just give some thoughts for those who are praying with us here and in our Facebook prayer group.

As you pray, you might want to think about these things:

  • How will you help continue Christ’s mission to free the captives?
  • How will you show that we are all in this together? If you don’t believe this to be true, put that before the Lord in prayer.
  • Will you obey Proverbs 31:8-9 and “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy”? If you’re not sure how you can do this, pray for direction.
  • What can you DO? How can you walk with others in their struggles?

Can “Daughters of Eve” Never Be Free from The Curse? Exploring “Rule” and “Desire” in Genesis

Until now, I have avoided blogging about “the woman issue” in the church because, frankly, I grew tired many years ago of being “the issue” and just decided to fulfill my calling. No need for further debate. Just lead by example and move on, I convinced myself.

Recently, however, one of the young women I used to mentor told me she would be using the book Captivating by Stasi Eldredge for a women’s Bible study she leads. I told her to be sure she sought out other sources for a balanced view. The very same day, I ran across Samantha Field’s blog and connected her to it since Field is currently running a series reviewing the Eldredge book.

I’ve had several follow-up conversations with the young woman as she’s gone through her studies. This has taken place in a private Facebook group we share with several other women. What has struck me in this group discussion is that, no matter how many voices there are out there encouraging women, the voices that seem to penetrate deepest (probably because they’ve heard them the longest) are those that tell them to “stay in their place.” This grieves my heart. And so, with that, I add my voice to those calling out for the redemption of the “daughters of Eve.”

As a starting point, I’ve chosen to add some commentary to Field’s most recent post. Here’s the excerpt from her post that prompted me to write today.

From Field – The next two pages are Stasi Eldredge sounding exactly like Helen Andelin (“It was a brilliant trap, well set,” because women should “cunningly” ensnare their husbands with manipulative traps), and then she relates a story about “Betsy” who was married to a “verbally abusive man” who was an elder, “mean,” who “villainized her to their children, their church.” But what did Betsy do– and what all women in her situation should do? She “didn’t seek divorce”; instead she: invited him to feel the weight of his consequences … She fasted and prayed … She gave him many tastes of what life could be like together …

The advice from Eldredge sounds a lot like the consequences of the curse for the relationship between men and women. When studying the curse and specifically the word “desire” in Genesis 3:16 (“Your desire will be for your husband, but he will rule over you.”), it is interesting to see the wording of that passage is almost identical to Genesis 4:7 in the story of Cain and Abel. There, sin is said to be desiring to overtake Cain, but he can master it. It seems like Eldredge is advising women to give in to the ungodly desires and tactics brought on by the curse.

A third parallel passage to this usage of “desire” (the only three times this word is used in the Bible) is found in Song of Solomon 7:10. There it says, “I am my beloved’s and his desire is for me.” Note the positive image of desire in Song of Solomon, as well as the role reversal. The context is a picture of a mutual relationship – She is his; he does not have to make her submit. “Rule” is not found, or needed, here. The context of Song of Solomon would indicate that this is a description of what the redeemed male-female relationship should be like, a contrast to the fallen state. It is a beautiful image.

But alas, most patriarchists would have women forever bound to the curse. “Daughters of Eve” are never to be free – not even in Christ.

Sometimes the Whale Is Your Salvation

Man, this place stinks! How did I end up here? The darkness … the slime … it’s suffocating. God, I can’t take much more of this. I haven’t been that bad have I? Why are you punishing me? I know I didn’t want to go to Ninevah, but nobody wants to go to Ninevah – no self-respecting, righteous person anyway. I am one of your people, so why would you treat me like this? It’s just not fair.      

This is how I imagine Jonah’s inner dialogue during his “whale of a crisis.”

The story of Jonah and the whale is one of the first Bible stories told to children in Sunday School and at bedtime. We learn from this account not to disobey God as Jonah did.

As the story goes, God told Jonah to go to the wicked city of Ninevah and warn the people that they were going to be punished for their sins. Jonah did not want to go to Ninevah (mainly because he didn’t like the part where God was also offering to extend mercy to the Ninevites if they turned from their sinful ways). So, he fled from the Lord and hopped on a boat going to Tarshish. During this trip a great storm arose.

When the men on the boat discovered that Jonah’s disobedience was the reason for the storm, they threw Jonah overboard. This is when Jonah was swallowed by the whale. After Jonah said a prayer of repentance, the Lord commanded the fish to spit Jonah up onto dry land. Once Jonah recuperated from his ordeal, he finally went to Ninevah and did as the Lord had instructed.

We usually think of the whale incident as part of Jonah’s punishment, his “trial” if you will. It did, of course, help Jonah come to repentance, but consider what Jonah’s state was before the fish swallowed him – he was drowning. Chapter 2 of the book gives a very graphic account, in Jonah’s own words, of what that experience was like…

“You hurled me into the deep,

into the very heart of the seas,

and the currents swirled about me;

all your waves and breakers

swept over me…

The engulfing waters threatened me,

the deep surrounded me;

seaweed was wrapped around my head.

To the roots of the mountains I sank down;

the earth beneath barred me in forever.

But you brought my life up from the pit,

O Lord my God.”

What means did God use to deliver Jonah from this horrible state of drowning? He used the whale! The great fish came and swallowed Jonah, thus saving him from death. Jonah 1:17 says, “…the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.”

Granted, a three night stay in the belly of a fish would not be pleasant. It was surely dark, smelly, and slimy. Yet, this experience was provided by the Lord to deliver Jonah. It was a blessing.

This brings to mind James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Trials may come for various reasons. Some are our own doing. Many of the epistles warn us to be careful that our desires for riches or pleasures do not lead us into troublesome situations (e.g., I Tim. 6:9; James 4:1; Gal. 6:7,8).

Other trials seem to be set up by God himself to test us and purify us. Paul said he was given his “thorn in the flesh” to help keep him humble (2 Cor. 12:7-10). Likewise, David (Ps. 119:67-75) acknowledged that God afflicted him to teach him to obey God’s word.

There are also trials brought on by the enemy of our souls (see the book of Job). And, alas, many of our trials are just the natural consequences of living in a fallen world. In the book of Romans (especially chapters 5-8), Paul goes into great detail as to how the world has been corrupted since the fall of Adam. Death, sickness, and strife will be a part of human existence until we are in heaven.

Regardless of the source, however, James and Paul both tell us to count it a joy when we face these trials. We can do this because we know that the Lord will use the trials of life to perfect us and help us mature. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Even things that seem bad in our lives will be worked out by God for our eventual good. Paul says that the good that will come is better than we can ever imagine. He reminds us (Rom. 8:18) that “…our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

When we feel as if we are drowning in our troubles, it may help to remember this lesson. Sometimes what we consider to be a terrible trial is being used by God to make us become more like Christ. We can come out of trials better people than when we went into them. In this sense, the trials can rescue us from our own nature and help us mature in spirit. Sometimes the whale is our salvation.

 

* Scripture references from the Holy Bible, New International Version.

FREEDOM – Day 14 of The One Word Devotional

NOTE: Today is the final day in this two-week go around with The One Word Devotional Series. I’ll do another round sometime in the fall. Glad for all who have joined us for this two week series. Now, for today’s focus …

Today’s word is FREEDOM.

There are many things you can do to “process” this word today:

Think on it.

Look it up in Scripture if you choose. An easy way to look up biblical texts on the topic is to go to biblegateway.com and do a search on the word.

Discuss it with others.

Google it.

I’m sure you can think of others. Whatever you choose to do to process this word today, please check back in at the end of the day and let’s have a discussion about your thoughts, experiences, etc.

To see the introduction and table of contents for The One Word Devotional Series, click here. Remember, for this series, the actual devotional thoughts are found in the comments.

GLORY – Day 13 of The One Word Devotional

Today’s word is GLORY.

There are many things you can do to “process” this word today:

Think on it.

Look it up in Scripture if you choose. An easy way to look up biblical texts on the topic is to go to biblegateway.com and do a search on the word.

Discuss it with others.

Google it.

I’m sure you can think of others. Whatever you choose to do to process this word today, please check back in at the end of the day and let’s have a discussion about your thoughts, experiences, etc.

To see the introduction and table of contents for The One Word Devotional Series, click here. Remember, for this series, the actual devotional thoughts are found in the comments.

GIVE – Day 12 of The One Word Devotional

Today’s word is GIVE.

There are many things you can do to “process” this word today:

Think on it.

Look it up in Scripture if you choose. An easy way to look up biblical texts on the topic is to go to biblegateway.com and do a search on the word.

Discuss it with others.

Google it.

I’m sure you can think of others. Whatever you choose to do to process this word today, please check back in at the end of the day and let’s have a discussion about your thoughts, experiences, etc.

To see the introduction and table of contents for The One Word Devotional Series, click here. Remember, for this series, the actual devotional thoughts are found in the comments.