Redefining Everything

Everything in my world is being redefined.  All understanding is shifting because after all:

“I am making all things new!” Revelation 21:5

We know that when Jesus died on the cross, the veil in the temple was torn!  All separation was removed between God and men (…and women.  Just for the record, man is NOT the mediator between women and God.)  How amazing that He brought us in-to Him!

I am so happy that its spring, but one thing winter is good for, is some good object lessons.  (I promise, I’ll bring this back around.)  It snowed this year for us, and my favorite event was hearing it melt!  We had a few warm days where the sun was doing the melting.  Our backyard is surrounded by an 8 foot privacy fence.  The snow had cleared everywhere…except where the fence had blocked the sun.  It was so strange to look at!  There was literally a perfect line down the side of the yard:  grass on one side, snow on the other.  It was so warm, the snow shouldn’t have been there.  (I wish I had taken a picture!)

This is a picture of one of the choices we have as a believer!  We could bask in the Son!  We have been given direct access to its warmth and clarity, His perfectness!  If we decide to take one step to the left we will find ourselves under the shade of the fence (when we ONLY get our revelation from other people. Ie. Teachers, pastors, ect)  Our understanding of the Son, will have to be filtered through the blockage of the fence.  What a vast difference in the outcome!  The section in direct Sonlight is flourishing!  It is green and thriving even right beside the effects of winter.  The section under the fence is cold and dead and unable to produce life.  It’s not making the progress that nature should make when it comes in contact with the sun.  How often do we ONLY look to others to spoon feed us our revelation?

You have direct access to the Son!  He gave up His life to make this happen!  Why would we go back to the way things were before His ultimate act of love?

This is where I have been for the past 10 years!  I have been slowly realizing what teachings I grew up with that were under the fence.  I have direct access to Jesus and am learning to bask in His love.  He’s changing things!  He’s redefining for me even the definition of love!  It’s strange to look back because everything looks so different now.  I will never forget where I came from, but will always be moving forward!  This is what I want to share with you.  I want to share my journey of how Jesus is:  Redefining Everything!

Americanized Christianity

The American church has it made.  We are a totally different animal than global Christianity.  While we sit over here debating on Calvinism, Arminianism, dispensationalism, cessationism, complementarianism, and egalitarianism, other Christians around the world are having real problems.  They don’t have arguments about these things because they are humble and simply living all of the things that we are talking about.

American Christian women have it made!  God loves women so much!  He values us, and declares us equal.  He set us free from the worldly systems of patriarchy, and brought us in to His Kingdom, sitting us as co-heirs with our brothers in Christ!  Our American society lines up with this equality, and sometimes even practically speaking, surpasses our church culture.  We aren’t just considered equals in our hearts, and then sent out to participate in a society that sees us as less.  Our society validates and trail blazes women’s worth!

From the beginning of time, there has been an all-out war waged against women.  Satan went after the woman first, after the fall, patriarchy became the distorted version of family, women are targets of domestic abuse, human trafficking, and even in America, a working woman’s wages are generally not comparable to a man’s.

I believe that because of the privilege American Christians have, we also have a responsibility.  (Yes, men, I believe this includes you too!)  Luke 12:48 says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”  This is one of the first verses that crosses my mind, when thinking about global woman’s issues.  We have been given so much, and there are so many women around the world that do not have the privileges we do.  The American church needs to stop fighting each other on the “roles” of women, the clothing of women, and the subordination of women.  We are eating each other from the inside out, when we are supposed to be providing food for those that have none.  We need to stop this, so that we can help the women that are truly not free!  They may be imprisoned by a different religion.  They may be held captive by a societal structure.  They could even be held by evil people that have no problem humiliating and degrading these precious women.  Our God holds these women in the highest regard!  They need to know how much freedom our Father gives them, how valued they really are.

I believe it’s our responsibility to help!  We have been given the freedom of a highly privileged life.  It is for freedom sake that Christ set us free!  We have been given the ministry of reconciliation!  We are to bring those that don’t know the Father’s love to His heart!  I don’t believe that our Americanized privilege is to be squelched on the “comforts of living”, but to do what Jesus did and free the captives!

Overcome Evil With Good

Have you ever read a “non-Christian” fiction book that contained spiritual truths that blew you away?  That’s what Lois Lowry’s book “Son”, did to me.  This isn’t a plug for her books, but I cannot stop thinking about what was so eloquently and profoundly depicted.  (Spoiler alert!)

Gabe is the son of Claire.  He was taken from her at birth.  She spends most of the book trying to find her son.  She is finally close to finding him, and has to make a trade with the evil Trademaster, to enter the community he is in.  She trades her youth for entry.  Trademaster only accepts trades of things that are personal to you (ie. Youth, humor, character, intelligence). Trademaster has bargained with many, and many people have given up much of who they are for something they either needed or wanted.  Gabe finally learns that Claire is his mom, but their time is about to be cut short because she is on her death bed.  Gabe must go fight Trademaster to restore his mother’s youth.

Gabe is the only one that can do it because he has a special gift.  He is able to feel what others are feeling.  Trademaster is always lurking close by the village.  Gabe only has to cross the river to meet the evil man.  Gabe is blown away by the pure ugliness Trademaster exudes.  Gabe doesn’t want to kill anyone.  He doesn’t know if he is strong enough.  Trademaster knows that Gabe cannot take his life.   He decides to use his gift.  He gets into Trademaster’s head.  Trademaster is hungry; he is starving.  This is why he is lurking by the river.  It positions him close enough to his victims to see their misery and pain.  This is what feeds him.  He is fueled by other’s suffering.

What does Gabe do with this information?  He uses it to kill Trademaster.  He begins to tell him about the lives of the people he has traded with.  This one woman is doing great.  Another man is doing well.  This other person is thriving.  Each time Gabe tells Trademaster of the positive outcome of a person that should be suffering, Trademaster dies a little more each time.  Finally, Gabe delivers the final blow, and Trademaster is dead!

The verse that immediately came to me, when reading this, is Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Maybe this is what Paul meant when he penned this.  We spend so much time “fighting”, when maybe all we need to do is stand and say, “no, you meant this for evil, but thanks to the blood of Jesus, we are doing just great!”  It even reminds me of Genesis 50:20 which talks about Joseph after his ordeal, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

What if, instead of taking a fighting posture, we took a posture of standing?  Ephesians 6:13 “13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”  What if instead of “fighting evil” we took a position of perfect rest? It’s so important that a whole chapter in Hebrews is dedicated to it. Hebrews 4:1 says, “Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.”

What would it look like if this is how we overcame evil with good?

You Might be a Femi-Ninja if…

After finishing the “in the beginning God did not create patriarchy” mini-series, I thought I’d lighten the mood a bit.  We have already discussed that Biblical egalitarian doesn’t equal femi-nazi, but I’d like to talk about a different type of women.  I was thinking about many of the women I know, and I came up with a title for these certain special women:  Femi-ninja!  The key to being a femi-ninja is recognizing your freedom, and walking in your freedom.  You know that Christ set you free from all expectations the world imposes, and more importantly, all of the misunderstood expectations of religion.  Let me paint you a picture of what a femi-ninja might look like.  They come in all shapes and sizes, all ages and marital status’.  Actually, you just might be a femi-ninja!

You might be a femi-ninja if…..you are a single woman, and you understand that your time is probably better spent on other things, than figuring out whether or not to wear leggings, as a Christian.

You might be a femi-ninja if…you are single and are pursuing the dreams and ambitions that God put in your heart, rather than sitting around waiting for your Boaz.

You might be a femi-ninja if…you are a wife, and realize that even though the two have become one, doesn’t mean that you disappear completely.

You might be a femi-ninja if…you love your husband.  Like, actually, love him and want the best for him, refrain from using psychological manipulation to control him, enjoy being around him, and even enjoy and look forward to making love!

You might be a femi-ninja if…you are free to love your kids.  You are free to raise them, clean up after them, cook them dinner, cart them around to their activities, be the soccer mom, not because it’s expected or because that’s your “highest calling”, but because you are free to love!

You might be a femi-ninja if…you are free to be a tom boy!  You understand that you are not stepping on men’s toes, by enjoying the things you enjoy: shooting, hiking, camping, ect.

You might be a femi-ninja if…you are free to be feminine!  You understand that you are fully capable of doing the girly things you like to do: crafting, baking, scrapbooking, knitting, and just because you enjoy these things, doesn’t make you in the least bit weak.

You might be a femi-ninja if…you have believed all of the lies that the church tries to sell to women, and have overcome!  You have literally looked around inside until you found yourself again, took that girl by the hair and stepped back into her.  You realize you are free to love yourself!

You might be a femi-ninja if…you are divorced and still kicking!  You know and have realized your strength and what it takes to keep on moving!  You understand that your divorce doesn’t define you!  You have even been able to see past some unsavory comments from your churchy friends.

You’re actually a super femi-ninja if…you are a military wife!! (‘nuff said!)

You might be a femi-ninja if…you are a stay at home mom!

You might be a femi-ninja if…you are a working mom!

You might be a femi-ninja if…. you are a work from home mom!

You might be a femi-ninja….if you laugh in the face of all that Satan has tried to throw at women…and you just keep on moving!

You might be a femi-ninja…if you understand that your highest calling is following Christ, being in a relationship with Him!

You might be a femi-ninja…if you are reading this….and are pretty sure that you might be a femi-ninja!

You might be a femi-ninja…if you know that Christ set you free and you are walking in that freedom.  In that freedom you have the ability to do whatever you want!  You are able to wear any hat you choose.  You are free to pursue whatever position you feel that God has for you.

In the Beginning God Did Not Create Patriarchy (Mini-Series: Part 4)

Genesis 3:

Enter:  The Curse

AKA: Patriarchy

We are all pretty familiar with this story.  I feel that the church has emphasized the fall and the curse more that the pure love of God and beauty of creation (but I suppose that is for another time).  Satan enters a serpent.  He tempts Eve.  Eve is deceived.  Adam joins in.  God comes looking for them because He loves them.  He is so sad that they would chose to be apart from His love for them.

Genesis 3

16 Then he said to the woman,

“I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy,
and in pain you will give birth.
And you will desire to control your husband,
but he will rule over you.[c]

17 And to the man he said,

“Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree
whose fruit I commanded you not to eat,
the ground is cursed because of you.
All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.
18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you,
though you will eat of its grains.
19 By the sweat of your brow
will you have food to eat
until you return to the ground
from which you were made.
For you were made from dust,
and to dust you will return.”

This is the first time we see tension between the genders.  Once God’s perfect world was tainted, only then do we enter a world of inequality.  This is where patriarchy enters the scene.  This is the first mention of gender hierarchy.  LET’S BE VERY CLEAR HERE:  these are the way things WOULD now be, NOT the way they SHOULD be!!  Patriarchy was NOT in God’s original design for His kids!  His original design is gender equality and harmony.  It’s only after sin enters the world do we see the man-made effects of the sin in the form of patriarchy.  We need to stop declaring the curse over ourselves!  The curse was the enemy’s plan, and we need to start living in God’s plan for us. Gender is the only part of the curse that we “keep” and some even declare that it is “God’s system set up on earth.”  None of us go, “Give me some more pain with these contractions!  They are not quite as painful as they should be!”  or “Man, I need this ground to have some more weeds!  Tilling wasn’t quite as hard as it was yesterday!”  We don’t require all Christian men to work the fields, but the church requires all women to be under the rule of men.  We have worked since the fall to make cultivating the earth easier.  We use tractors, tillers, and countless other modern conveniences to ease the pain of tilling the earth.  I mean, not very many men even have the occupation of farmer anymore.  We have invented new ways to birth children.  We now have epidurals and intrathecals.   We have done all of these things to combat or ease the curse, but the idea of patriarchy has been put on a gold placard and considered “the way things are supposed to be”.

To put it in other terms, we don’t say, “Man, I haven’t had enough temptation today.  I’m going to need a little more.”  Or, “The devil hasn’t prowled around me enough today.  I should have some more resistance.”  This just sounds foolish!  Why would we do this very thing with the idea of patriarchy?

People are so quick to say, “Jesus broke the curse when He died on the cross”, but for some reason we are very offended when that touches the idea of patriarchy.  A majority of the church lives in a way as to say, “Jesus broke the curse!  Except the curse of patriarchy.  We will keep that one.”

Jesus in His loving mercy didn’t leave us under the effects of the law.  He didn’t leave us with the way things would be.  Our loving Father, sent His only Son, Jesus, to redeem us from the curse.  HE REDEEMED US FROM THE WAY THINGS WOULD BE AND BROUGHT US INTO THE WAY THINGS SHOULD BE!  Isaiah 61 foretells the New Covenant that was established at the cross!  This New Covenant is the final covenant in which we receive all the benefit!  Galatians 3:16 declares, “13 But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”[g]14 Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised[h] Holy Spirit through faith.”  Christ has RESCUED us from the curse!.  Verse 14 shows us that one of the marks of the New Covenant is the Holy Spirit being available and indwelling all believers!  Galatians is such an amazing book.  The theme is sonship and identity in Christ!  Later on,  Galatians 3:28 states, “ 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile,[o] slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This is not just a salvational verse, this is a sonship verse, a kingdom verse!

How can we know that we are under the New Covenant and it is in effect today?  Hebrews 8:6 states, “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.”  Wow!! A better covenant with better promises!! Yes!!  2 Corinthians 3:6 shows us that this New Covenant is CURRENTLY in effect (not something that has to be waited for until after death), “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”  He has made US ministers of the New Covenant.  That’s not for another time.  That’s for NOW!

He has redeemed us from the curse!!  It is finished!

In the Beginning God Did Not Create Patriarchy (Mini-series: Part 3)

All of this talk about Genesis may have you thinking, “But what about the part about Eve being created as a helpmate?”  This was a point of concern for me for a long time.  Was I just created as an accessory?  Was Adam tired of doing the dishes and cooking his own meal, so He asked God to give him a helper?

If you’ve been around Christian circles for any length of time, you are probably aware that the word helpmate, translates to the Hebrew word “ezer.” (Genesis 2:18) (We will see in a bit that “ezer”’s partner, “kenegda”, has been forgotten or deleted in most modern American churches.) What exactly does that word mean?

Ezer is derived from two Hebrew root words. One meant “power” and the other meant “strength”.

Carolyn James, in her book, “The Gospel of Ruth”, enlightened me on the word helpmate.  Before Eve was created the word helper or helpmate is used twice in Genesis 2:18 and 20.  Helper or helpmate is translated into Ezer.  “Ezer is a powerful Hebrew military word that is used to describe God as Israel’s helper.  The Bible’s consistent use of ezer within a military context leads us to believe God created women to be a warrior alongside the man in advancing God’s kingdom on earth.  This is every woman’s calling. Every woman is an ezer from birth until death.  We are warriors for God’s purposes alongside our brothers in Christ.”  Women are fighters.  We are warriors.  This brings so much more meaning to a woman’s life than what time dinner is, and how to make her husband’s socks brighter and whiter.  I challenge you to let these words speak to your heart, and live up to what you were called to, being an ezer warrior!

Ezer is used 21 times in the Old Testament, twice in reference to Eve, three times referring to the nations Israel requested help from, and 16 times in reference to God being Israel’s help.

The other word that we cannot leave off of the word ezer, is the word it is partnered with in Genesis 2.  The whole phrase is “ezer kenegda”.  This would be “helper fit/suitable” for him.  Kenegda indicates a power or strength corresponding to man’s.  This means equality. This is not some lesser value, weaker link, lower intelligence kind of thing.  This is someone of the same power, strength, and value as man.

We have had a poor understanding of the word ezer or helpmate.  We have turned this word into something cheap, something insignificant, something subordinate, something that has been undervalued.  Somewhere along the line, we have bought into the idea that a woman’s only value is held in being wife.  We forget that we are a portion of the image of God that the world deserves to see.

How did this happen, you ask?  The word help”mate”, was translated into English from the old English word, help”meet”.  “Meet” was in the Old English to express the concept of “fit to” or “corresponding to”.  We must not be afraid to go back to the original Hebrew for clarity!  Unfortunately, a lot of meaning can be lost through the many translations of the Bible.

Hebrew scholars have said that the most accurate translation of Genesis 2:18 would be, “I will make a power [or strength] corresponding to man.”

This is something to be excited about!

In the Beginning God Did Not Create Patriarchy (Mini-series: Part 2)

We have already seen that God’s original commission and design was for both genders to live harmoniously and equally together in this new world!  Genesis 2 gives us a more in depth look into the creation of humans.

Genesis 2

Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.

Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made.

Wow!  I absolutely love this.  If you just take a minute to picture this, it is beautiful!  The love and care that the Master Artist took creating man and breathing on him!  Then, He planted a garden for Adam!  So much love was poured out for His beloved creation!

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” 19 So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man[c] to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. 20 He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.

21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs[d] and closed up the opening.22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.

23 “At last!” the man exclaimed.

“This one is bone from my bone,
and flesh from my flesh!
She will be called ‘woman,’
because she was taken from ‘man.’”

24 This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.

God created man from the dust of the ground.  At the end of the day, God said it was good.  Adam was created in God’s image.  So, God created Adam as the complete human representation of Himself.  Adam was not lacking in anything!  I believe at this point, Adam was probably even an asexual being, if reproduction were necessary.  Here’s Adam, complete, and made in the image of God.  If God created Adam in His image and lacking nothing, then what did he make Eve out of?  Adam’s rib, you say?  Okay, so a rib was taken out of Adam (during the first supernatural surgical procedure, I might add), and with that He fashioned Eve.  I’m pretty sure we are all on the same page here.  Well, what was Eve’s innards made of?  Not her organs, but her emotions, inherit qualities, and general demeanor?  Did God give her something new?  Did He created these things to put into her?  No! (Remember, Adam was complete, and he was good.)  God, in His infinite and amazing wisdom, extracted the female attributes from Adam and fashioned them into a woman!  Whoa!  Think about that for a minute!  That’s amazing!  Life takes on a whole new meaning at this point.  This is why God says that in marriage the two have become one (Genesis 2:24)!  The one person literally became two people, and now the two people become one complete person! (Remember Genesis 1:27 In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.)

God extracted the feminine qualities OUT of Adam, who before that, being created in the full image of God.  He fashioned an amazingly new bodily vessel out of Adam’s rib, and voilai: Here is woman!!  The image of the nature of God is now housed in two distinct persons.  Marriage brings the unity of these two entities together, once again reuniting, to make a whole!

In the Beginning God Did Not Create Patriarchy (Mini-series: Part 1)

This story changed my world!  Genesis is the beginning of all life.  This story sets the stage for the rest of the Bible, and for all of our interactions with God and with others.  This is where it all begins.

What if I told you that God didn’t create a patriarchal society?  What if I told you that God didn’t give Adam dominion over Eve, or that Eve wasn’t created for a subservient position?  What if I told you that all of this is laid out in Genesis?  Understanding these truths makes all the difference in the world.  This is foundational for Kingdom living.

We are all pretty familiar with the Genesis story of creation and the fall.

Genesis 1

26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings[b] in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth,[c] and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

27 So God created human beings[d] in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

29 Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. 30 And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened.

31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!

What I love about Genesis 1 is that everything spoken to, about and over humans, were spoken to, about and over both Adam and Eve!!  “Let Us make human beingS, in Our image, to be like Us”. BeingS (plural).  “THEY will reign over…”  “In the image of God He created THEM; male AND female He created them.”  “God blessed THEM and said…”

This is the original blessing spoken over ALL mankind.  God included women in this!  This is so beautiful and reveals so much of the nature of God’s love for us!

So, Genesis 1 amazingly depicts the gender equality that God intended.  Adam and Eve are in full harmony with each other.  They are created and commissioned together, not one reigning over the other.  In fact THEY are to reign over all of creation together!  This is the beautiful, most perfect, original design!

What comes next? Genesis 2

Why Does Biblical Gender Equality Matter?

Most people have an opinion about the value and position or “role” of women in the church.  If you don’t think you have an opinion about it, you probably just took on the position you were raised with, or what you have seen predominantly modeled in your church.  Some people can’t even see why it is an issue.  Others go so far as to say that it is a secondary issue in the church.  A secondary issue?!  If there are no secondary members in the church, then how can there be any secondary issues about the equality of women?  This is not a secondary issue because there are no secondary people groups in the Kingdom!

Does it really matter?  I am here to tell you, YES!  It absolutely matters!  Each person is created in the image of God.  There are attributes that we exhibit that are predominately masculine or feminine.  When Adam was created, he was created in the full image of God.  He contained all of the attributes of God, masculine and feminine.  When God fashioned Eve out of Adams ribs, He extracted the feminine qualities from Adam and placed them in a woman.  Whoa!  This is amazing to me!  That’s a big deal!  That’s so much better than the idea that women were an afterthought because Adam was lonely and needed a housekeeper, a buddy, ehem, I mean helpmate.  Women were part of the original design!

The equality of women matters more than we may see on the surface.  The church has been stunted in growth and maturity because women are not being encouraged and promoted into their callings!  Man and woman together are the full representation of the Father.  That’s why he gave us marriage.  After he extracted the feminine qualities out of Adam and placed them in Eve, God gave the institution of marriage, in which case, the two would become one (again).  This also applies to the church.  The church is to be the representation of Christ on earth.  We bear His image!  What does the church look like if only half of its members (who are relatively similar) are being represented or activated?  It looks like the American church!  We are only functioning at half capacity!  The church is only being represented in its masculine form!  (Have you ever wondered why the church is so justice oriented?  Have you ever wondered where the compassion has gone?  Have you ever wondered where the nurturing/discipleship side of the church is?  I believe these questions are easy to answer when you look at who is allowed to be active in the American church.)

The world needs to see the feminine attributes of the Father exhibited in His church!  The world is longing and begging for that!  When women are allowed and encouraged to step into the callings, this will be not only a gift to the world, but will also develop the church into a more radiant bride!  The winds of change are blowing!  I can see it happening!  The Holy Spirit is releasing freedom and peace to men and women everywhere!  Unity and love is here!