My First Year of Blogging – 2014 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. See what’s happened since Lisa started her blog on May 8, 2014.

Here’s an excerpt:

The busiest day of the year was October 16th with 81 views. The most popular post that day was 5 Controversial Statements about Race and Gender I’ve Really Wanted to Post on My Blog but Haven’t – Until Now.

Click here to see the complete report.

One Aspect of Male Privilege Actually Surprised Me When I Became a Pastor

After reading Dr. Jeremiah Gibbs’ excellent post on “Women Pastors and Male Privilege”, I was compelled to add one additional category to his list of the ways male privilege is manifested in this setting.

I have been surprised at the number of people who question my role in counseling male congregants. In the almost 30 years my husband has served as a pastor, I cannot recall anyone questioning whether he should offer pastoral counsel to the women in our churches. There have, of course, been seminars and workshops on setting appropriate boundaries, and I agree completely. But there was never a suggestion that he should pass along the women who came to him for prayer or advice to a female counselor. Since we started co-pastoring together in 2009, I’ve had numerous people advise me to refer male members to my husband, even though they have come to me and not him. Interestingly, even though we are now tag-team pastors, no one has yet to say he should send the women to me.

Adding to my surprise at this attitude is the fact that it has not occurred in any other setting. When I served as principal at a Christian school and also while on the faculty at a Bible college where I was responsible for the spiritual formation program for our students, my ability to meet with and counsel fathers and male students was never questioned. In fact, I was the one who had to insist that windows were built into my office doors in both settings.

I’ve never heard a discussion about whether a female therapist should take on male clients. Why the church has such a hang-up on this has taken me aback.

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.

Going Deep Together to Reach New Heights

GOING DEEP TOGETHER TO REACH NEW HEIGHTS

Going Deep Together

I wrote the following in my journal during a rough spot:
I don’t need you to tell me I’m wrong – somewhere inside I know this. I need you to talk with me about the deeper things surrounding this “wrongness.” To create a place I can live during the processing of it and still be loved and accepted. I need people who are really WITH ME as I work through it. People who call me to a higher standard (or maybe I should say call me to a deeper place) simply by being love to me – being Christ to me even when I am not yet Christlike enough. We can only be this for each other when we realize/admit none of us are “there” yet.

When I decided to share that journal entry here, I wanted an art piece to accompany it. So, I clicked on the page of one of my favorite artists, Gwen Meharg, and found the painting shown above. Click this link , then scroll down to the image of the painting on Gwen’s page and click that to see her explanation of the piece. It’s a great accompaniment for the thoughts I had when I was journaling.

I just want to add, too, that the link to Gwen’s work above is for her watercolors. She also does some amazing multi-media work. You can find it here.

How We Ended Up with a Coffeehouse @ The Merge

HOW WE ENDED UP WITH A COFFEEHOUSE @ THE MERGE

How We Ended Up with a Coffeehouse @ The Merge

As important as our coffeehouse is to the overall vision of The Merge, you might find it interesting that we were as surprised by the concept as anyone else might be when we were in the planning stages for our church plant. Scott and I had known for years that we would someday plant a church. We knew it would have a heavy emphasis on music – thus, the music venue portion of our plans – because music is a significant part of Scott’s personal testimony (I’ll leave that for him to write about at some point). We also knew that we wanted to focus on a relational approach to church life, discipleship and outreach.

What was nowhere in our sights was a coffeehouse. That “little” addition to the plan was completely a God thing. So, I thought I’d share with you how that came to be.

I had been journaling for quite some time about the idea of dreaming big and living with passion. For over a week, I had repeatedly used the word “impossible” in my reflections. My mother-in-law had read a book about a missionary and told me that every time she picked it up to read it, she thought of me. So, she was going to hand it off to me when she finished.

One day, I was walking through the living room and saw a book lying on the ottoman entitled A Passion for the Impossible. I didn’t realize this was the book my mother-in-law had told me about or that she had left it for me. I just knew the title jumped out at me and I had to read this book.

It was the biography of Lilias Trotter, who became a missionary to Algeria in the 1800s. Prior to her work in Algeria, however, she lived in London. While there, her heart went out to the prostitutes she saw in the streets and she ministered to them through local missions and job training programs. Lilias eventually opened a storefront café where these women could come in off the streets, have a meal and “normal” conversation, and just feel loved. When I read about her café, I wrote about it in my journal and said, “This is something I think Scott and I need to consider.”

A few days later, Scott walked in the door after work and confirmed the idea I hadn’t told him about yet. Uncharacteristically for him, he didn’t even put his briefcase down before he said with an almost puzzled look on his face, “I’ve been thinking a lot about having a coffeehouse.”

I said, “That’s interesting. Let me show you what I wrote in my journal this week.”

We both still find it humorous that Scott actually voiced the idea. He was not even a coffee drinker at the time and never frequented places like Starbucks. I, on the other hand, could often be found working and/or socializing at coffeehouses. Having Scott bring it up without me mentioning it was definitely confirmation to me that the idea was from God.

And that’s how The Merge came to have a coffeehouse. We spent several years defining its purpose: a safe place for the community, a place for church members to build relationships, a place where we interact with the public in a way that feels like a normal part of their everyday lives, a place you can invite people who won’t readily accept an invitation to church.

We didn’t open a coffeehouse to be cool. If you know Scott and me, you know we’re just not that concerned about being hip – good thing because it certainly would not come naturally. We didn’t open a coffeehouse to bring in revenue – good thing because our most recent adventure with the coffeehouse is to offer a “pay what you can” menu so no one is denied service because they can’t afford it. We did not open a coffeehouse for most of the reasons I hear people speculate. We opened a coffeehouse because that’s what God led us to do.

It has been a wonderful adventure so far. I can’t wait to see the ways God uses this place He has helped us create as we continue to follow His leading.