What I’ve Been Up to Lately

It’s hard to post blogs when you’re in survival (or deployment) mode.  I’ve not been able to post as much as I’d like lately.  It’s been difficult to even share this with people.  I know that our words hold power to change worlds, so I also have wanted to be careful.  It also seems that not too many people understand what this situation is like.  So, I guess I’ll give this a go.

My amazing, wonderful, beyond-all-dreams husband has been dealing with some severe back problems.  They started with some incidents and injuries while he was deployed.  They got worse and worse, but didn’t affect him too much.  One day, something happened.  We don’t even know what it was.  He just woke up unable to walk!  It’s basically been a downhill journey from there.  It’s been a year and 3 months, since the initial-whatever it was.  He’s being “treated” by the military, and I use that term very, very loosely.  They are basically giving him no options for treatment, since they don’t do the type of surgery that would be the most beneficial for him.  He is also in need of multiple surgeries, which is why the type is so important.

Iaian has gone from being a top athlete, to having a handicap sticker, using a cane, and sometimes is not even able to get out of bed.  It has been so rough to see someone that I love so much go through something like this!  He is in constant pain, and there’s nothing anyone can do.

Here’s the kicker.  We KNOW that God heals!  We KNOW that Jesus provided for our healing on the cross.  We KNOW that it is NOT in God’s will that Iaian be hurt!  We KNOW that Jesus gave us the authority over sickness and demons.  We pray constantly, with all authority, for Iaian’s healing.  Iaian believes.  We all believe.

Most of my days have been spent “just trying to get stuff done”.  We’ve got 5 kids, and we homeschool, and Iaian’s been unable to move.  It takes all day to do all of the things I need to do.  This is what I mean by deployment mode.  I spend my time “getting stuff done.”  The only HUGE difference is that he’s not getting shot at, and he’s not going to die unexpectedly.  But it is so hard seeing someone you love in agonizing pain all of the time.

We had a huge blessing the other day.  Some days have been better than others with Iaian, but they are never “normal” days (like he’s functioning the way he used to).  Something knocked him out again, and he was unable to even lay down without constant, make you scream, pain.  I was desperate.  I just threw it out of facebook, so see if anyone would be willing to come over and pray and worship with him.  We’re not talking about a begging session here.  We’re talking about power filled prayer!  I was just overwhelmed by the response of the people that said they were coming!  Our house ended up filled with people praying over him, singing over him, and just loving on him!  We had people praying around the world at the same time!  By the end of this two hour glory fest, HE WAS STANDING!!!  He hadn’t stood in two days!  What was the most amazing about all of this is that it’s not something we are going through alone.  A lot of the time, I feel like I am the only one that can help him.  But there are things that people can do!  I felt like I had a spiritual weight lifted off of my shoulders when they all came in!  Other people were standing in the gap for him!

I believe for a full recovery for Iaian-somehow.  I don’t know how it will happen, but it will!  He will be having some appointments coming up to reevaluate the situation.  It’s gotten much worse, since he was first looked at.  Now, I will have to take him to his appointments.  Now, I will be in the room with the doctor.  Let me just say that we WILL get answers!  Iaian WILL have a treatment plan.  This man joined the army running some crazy time for his 2 miles, and HE WILL LEAVE THE ARMY WALKING!!!  They owe him that much!

Well, I share this with you so that you’ll join in victorious prayer with us!  I share this with you to be real.  Not all things are sunshine and roses, but the things that aren’t, are intended to hurt us, and are NOT of God!  I know God works all things out for good…so if it’s not good yet, it’s not the end.

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!

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!

Rediscovering Beauty Part 2

What does beauty look like in the church?  I believe it looks exactly like love.  Is that what the church is currently known for?  I think not.  Can we get there?  I know we can!
I know this is bad, but a lot of times I cringe at the persona the church is putting out.  The church as a whole (especially from the outside) looks so different than what Jesus looked like.  The church is known for what we hate.  (I know, I know Christians aren’t supposed to use that word.)  The church is known on the inside for “hating the sin, loving the sinner,” but on the outside we just appear to hate.  I would suggest, that if we begin a statement with the phrase “hate the sin”, we have no idea how to “love the sinner”.
I cringe at some of the predominate tactics used for evangelism.  We all know the church definitions of evangelism and gospel, so I thought I’d check out Webster to see what he had to say.
e·van·ge·lism
əˈvanjəˌlizəm/
noun
1.     the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness.
gos·pel
ˈɡäspəl/
noun
1.     1.
the teaching or revelation of Christ.
“it is the Church’s mission to preach the gospel”
synonyms:
Christian teaching, Christian doctrine, Christ’s teaching; More
2.     2.
the record of Jesus’ life and teaching in the first four books of the New Testament.
What I see these people teaching and preaching is NOT the gospel according to Jesus.  He walked in perfect love.  He spoke in love and not condemnation!  The only people he was “rude” to, were the religious leaders (you know, the guys that studied and studied the Torah, and wanted everyone to follow the “rules” and would publicly humiliate and condemn anyone that they deemed unworthy.).
I have to admit, there are certain Christians I steer clear of!  If I see a bumper sticker, t-shirt or other promotional items from these groups, that promote this type of evangelism, I run the other way!  (Now I know that God loves them too, and they do have good in them-otherwise they wouldn’t take evangelism so seriously, but I’ll be honest, my heart is still being worked on here.)  I would be scared to see the statistics for the pain they caused unbelievers vs. the “conversions” they facilitate.  I truly think it’s preposterous to suggest that Jesus went around publicly pointing out random people’s sins, thereby publicly humiliating them, when no one asked for His opinion.  The examples I see in the Bible show the GOOD news being proclaimed.  They show the LOVE of the Father!  They show the power given by Jesus. They show the works of the Holy Spirit.  They show Jesus healing and making whole!  This is a different kind of evangelism than what is at work today.
Then there’s the Christian political movement.  I won’t get too in depth here.  I do want to start out by saying, I believe there are people specifically appointed for this job!  There are people that are supposed to work in politics.  The people that I am thinking of right now are truly amazing people.  They are full of love and grace and smarts and poise.  They truly embody sheep in a wolve’s world: wise as serpents, and innocent as doves.  They are anointed to make governmental changes and bring awareness of national and international injustices.  That being said, I certainly don’t believe that this is the calling on every person’s life!  I don’t know that we are all supposed to stand and “rally” against things, holding signs and shouting at people.  I think that without that specific calling, we are to do our part and be informed and vote in line with our beliefs, but what if there is not change right now in our government and political system because we are actually supposed to be changing the world with LOVE?  What if we are actually supposed to operate like Jesus did, empowered by the Holy Spirit in a new system called unconditional, unending LOVE? 
I think that many times these two scenarios go hand in hand.  You may be thinking that this sounds very critical.  I will just say, I have been there.  I have done these things.  I have “witnessed” by pointing out other’s sins.  I have attended my fair share of rallies.  There was a part of me that never felt peaceful about it.  It didn’t settle right in my spirit.  I’ll tell you one of the moments that started the transformation of my spirit was at a community festival.  It was a small town festival with family fun and food.  As I was walking through the crowd, tall above all of the heads, I see a sign that says, “God HATES: homosexuals, liars, cheaters, thieves, murderers….” the list went on.  I felt my heart rate speed up.  This made me furious.  I couldn’t quite pinpoint why; I didn’t have the words for this type of thing yet.  I kind of lingered in the area to see what was going on.  There was a man holding the sign and then two others handing out tracts and trying to talk to people.  The people were running like cockroaches when you flip on the light!  I would have too!  This is not the environment that Jesus induced.  I finally went up to the guy holding the sign.  I asked him why he was using this “tactic” when trying to witness to people and that I thought Jesus operated in love.  That’s why he died on the cross because he loved us.  The man explained that people have to recognize their sin and God can’t be around sin.  I couldn’t remember the reference, but I quoted the man the verse that says, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through Him.”  (Yes, I was so flustered that I couldn’t remember that this was John 3:17.)  I obviously didn’t change this guy’s mind.  I was totally unprepared to see something like that.  I didn’t know that kind of thing existed up until that moment. My heart was sad, and I didn’t even have the words to process why.  
I love the church.  The church is Christ’s bride!  We are to be radiant, not downtrodden and solemn, and barely hanging on!  (Isaiah 60:1; Matt 5:14; Ephesians 5:27) I want to see the church healthy and whole and that starts with individuals.  We must be healthy and whole and living from the fullness of being in Christ before we can impact the world.  Anything less, leads to a counterfeit.  Jesus is the most authentic being ever and if He lives in us, we should be the most authentically beautiful expression of LOVE on earth!  (As He is so are we in the world 1 John 4:17)  I just think we can do better!  I think He has provided a beautiful path that He exemplified on earth, and somehow we as a church decided to take a different route.  What if we all looked like Jesus?  Really truly, looked like Him.  I am not speaking condemnation here.  I want to go up higher!  I want everyone to go up higher!  Let’s not settle for what someone said was the “good Christian thing to do” and start looking and what Christ really did and how he operated!  Let’s start operating and living in LOVE!  And trust me, if it’s really love, it’ll look like love, and smell like love, and feel like love, and sound like love!
One verse that kept popping up in my mind while writing this is Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.  I love this!  The etymology of the word lovely has to do with a “beautiful kiss”!!  That is so amazing!  The things we are to be thinking of and operating out of are supposed to be like a beautiful kiss!

The Father is love.  Jesus is love.  The Holy Spirit is love.  Love is perfect beauty.   Beauty takes on so many forms.  What form of beauty is in you for you to express?  How are you to be an expression of beauty for the world to see?  After all, we are the light of the world for that very purpose, so the world will see the beauty of God!