Women Facing Stones

There he saw a well in the open country, with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. The stone over the mouth of the well was large. When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well.
“Why don’t you water the flocks so they can get back to grazing?” Jacob asked. “They’ll be hungry if you stop so early in the day!”
“We don’t roll away the stone and begin the watering until all the flocks and shepherds are here,” they replied.
As this conversation was going on, Rachel arrived with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother.
When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.
 
Gen 29:2-3; Gen 29:7-10; Mark 16:1-4
Three flocks, three women. One well in the open county, one tomb in a lonely place. A large stone.  “Who will roll the stone away?”
How can we go on with our lives if the large stone remains as a cover for that which we seek to get to? Whom will we have to wait for? How long will we have to wait?
Yet there is one who has the promise to bless all nations within his body, who is able to roll the stone away. Who will not wait for the “correct” setting or correct time. Now is the time for the one who carries the promise of the Messiah within himself.
My husband and I have been going through studies, material, scriptures, and thoughts all searching through this idea of women in ministry. God vs women. The curse, the restoration of all things, the Messiah and Eve (and Adam). Who wins?
As people who are interested in this debate, we are those who are coming forth in the open country side. We ask ourselves, what will it take to find our identity in an eternal God who is not gender bias?  The scriptures themselves have been taken by bad shepherds who merchandise in the souls & flesh of men, and they have laid a large & heavy stone over top. Sealing us outside the source of what we so desperately seek to come unto.
Our journey has been hard.
Yet, we’ve been surprised by the picture set before us, as we come closer and closer. Something very strange. Something very different than we expected.
It’s not there.
The very large stone, that had always kept us waiting in line, and had made us waste precious hours of the day. It gone. It’s been removed. Now there’s a new man standing, waiting. Familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. Loving and broken hearted. Excited, relieved, tired and renewed. Who is it that stands before us?
 “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”  And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it.  And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.  Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Rev 5:2-5
For better or worse, the Lord opens to us that which no one else can open. Our delight is that this opening, revealing gives us a sending. The times ahead maybe perilous, but the compare to the glory that is about to be revealed, it’s a small thing to endure.
There is something beyond us. Bigger than us. Yet we all get stuck on small biers. Thistle and thorns have kept us from coming sooner. Bad fruit that we were given to eat. It didn’t seem right at the time, and it surely wasn’t. It didn’t take us where it promised; it didn’t lead us to where we wanted to go. But there is the promise of redemption still.
In our journey to seek God’s face, to see how God feels about women, and what the whole of the Bible says, we have found ourselves aligned with stories of those who have fallen. Fallen for sin, or fallen for Love. Every turn has redemption in it.
We find it impossible to read all the way to the New Testament and find grudge-holding to be God’s ideal. Neither does the blame-game seem relevant anymore.  Instead,  when to comes to the issues of women, we have found God there in every turn, with love in his eyes. Heartbreak and love. Love always wins with God. God’s love swallows the heart break that was once there, until there is only love. It’s like Jesus…
It’s like Jesus and the women who was “caught in the act of adultery”. The whole issue seems to be summed up here:
“Where are your accusers? Are there any left?”
“No.”
“Then neither do I accuse you.”
Throughout the Bible there is reconciliation and redemption. Eve, Adam, and God. Paul, Junis, scriptures. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.
There are no long held grudge match against women in scriptures. So where are those modern scholar’s who are without sin? Will they continue to hold their stones and point at women’s “short comings” while denying their own ancient faults? It’s impossible to be justified before Christ while holding onto that stone, holding onto that power, and holding onto the blood thirst.
As it turns out, even if no one else will place aside the stone (whether large or small) God has already set a redeemer to his Beloved, and the daughters of God no longer wait on anyone else.
The well is open, the tomb is empty, redemption has begun. It is up to each of us now, to decide whether we’ll drop or stones as well, or wether we harbor contempt for a woman who was set up and deceived. And where is that man who fell into sin with her? Has he alone been redeemed, forgiven, set free?
We must reconsider that facts, from God’s point of view. Least we let the letter of the law ensue within us blood thirst for one of God’s precious ones. Careful now…

Sins of the Forefathers: un-sever?

I read an interesting story this morning. A story about a few kings in distress who seek a prophet of God so that they may know what will happen to them. The fact that they sought the LORD, I would think to be a good thing, but the prophet “welcomed” them with quite a different attitude. I thought this strange at first, because it seems like God always welcome those who truly seek him. …but maybe that’s the problem?
In the book of 2 Kings chapter 3 the king of Israel (the northern kingdom at this time in the story), the king of Judea (the southern kingdom which had Jerusalem and therein follow God…{more often}), and the King of Edom (neighbors and sometimes enemies of the people of Israel, but apparently not enemies at this time in the story) all allianced together to war against the king of Moab. The get stuck out in the wilderness area, running low on rations and water, and they start to question their master plan. The king of Judea ask, out loud, if there is any prophet whom can speak to God on their behalf, and someone answers that there is one close by. Elisha the prophet, who is quite a man of God indeed, was the very prophet to whom they came.

Elisha coldly greet the king of Israel, of whom it says he lived better than his father & mother’s example (for they were they most wicked rulers of the northern kingdom) but he did not consecrate himself to the LORD God but continued in the sins of the man who first split Israel into two kingdoms. And apparently this is why Elisha the prophet of the LORD God spoke to him so disdainfully.

Now God in his mercy allows everything to turn out well for this kings who sought his words, and you’re welcome to read the story, but what catches me is Elisha lack of cordiality towards a king who has done at least some better than his wicked parents. It’s curious to me. Yet knowing Elisha is to know that he could perceive the wickedness in a man’s heart, so I don’t discredit his reaction. I merely wonder what is to have the authors of this book give the king of Israel some little bit of credit, but yet the prophet of God gave him none.

In my opinion, one of the factors we’re looking at here is the over-simplicity of what it is to do good, perhaps. To turn away from wickedness that is blatantly sinful is certainly an idealistic beginning, however if that happens to be all the further one goes, then honestly, it’s only a “down grade” of wickedness at best, and not a turning to do what is good.

In a similar situation, I strangely think of how Christianity itself is reported to have started within Jews, but now is proudly considered its own religion which only occasionally has anything to modern Judaism or Jews. …It’s almost like when Israel and Judea became two separate nations.
I think we could argue whether this was destined to happen or whether the two kingdoms should have reunited at some point as one… but arguing the past doesn’t deny the similarity of modern history’s pattern.

So could be that one of the reasons this king of Israel received such a cold greeting from Elisha, the prophet of God, might just be because this king was still endorsing those things which were meant to keep Israel and Judea from reuniting in the future? …and therefore he himself was keeping the northern kingdom from truly/fully becoming the people of God, but first & foremost the people of Israel?
Do we also suffer from this in modern times?

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will plant the kingdoms of Israel and Judah with the offspring of people and of animals. Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down, and to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” declares the Lord. “In those days people will no longer say,

‘The parents have eaten sour grapes,
    and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’

 Instead, everyone will die for their own sin;
whoever eats sour grapes—their own teeth will be set on edge.

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
    “when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.
 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,
declares the Lord.
 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God, and they will be my people.
 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Jeremiah 31:27-34

Certainly God has a plan. However, sometimes we get caught up in our own ideas, our own plans, our own righteousness. We know how the system works, and how to work the system when necessary. The man who original separated Israel and Judea, separated them not only as two geographical nations (1Kings chapter 12), but he separated them in their religious believes, historical accounts, and even ways of seeking truth. That man was so afraid that he might lose his own power (the northern kingdom as its own separate kingdom), that he purposefully lead the future generations to believe a lie. That lie then lead the people to continuously sin, and for some reason those lies were never debunked.

Guess what..?
We’ve been lied to as well.
Now, as I look into the history a little bit, it’s hard for me to say if the lie we’ve received was on purpose or merely degradation over time. Maybe both.

There are too many church fathers who willing sacrificed Biblical truth & principles to replace them with “modern wisdom” and modern philosophies. They held up the name of Christianity above the Covenant given to the Jews, and shoved their Jews brothers out, telling them they’d have no inheritance together and calling them enemies.  This isn’t how Christianity was suppose to be.

Sadly this story isn’t in the past. We have downgrade our prejudices to correspond with modern society, but much of Christianity still believes that the Jews are part of one kingdom with their idea of God and Christianity is in another kingdom with it’s own idea(s) of God. It’s like we don’t know that we come from the same history. It’s like we don’t know that it was the same God who’s brought us this far. It’s like we think it’s a pure coincidence we exist so closely together.
This is the sins of our forefathers.

Even though the king of Israel (in the story of 2Kings chapter 3) didn’t commit the same sins of his direct biological parents, he did essential continue in the same sin of his forefathers, in a matter of speaking. Although this king must have realized some of these things were wrong, he did not go down to the root of the matters. …but we must!
With all my heart & mind I do not believe that the church will be able to continue as it is for more than 2 more generation. I believe that we have to do more than ask the pastors and Christian authors for advice of how to be “deeper”. We ourselves must look at what has brought us here, and we must sift through our history, our beliefs about God, our beliefs about how we got here and why we are here, and go all the way down to the roots or else we will not survive.

We need to know truth exist in even purer forms than we’ve been taught thus far. However that kind of truth comes from the Holy Spirit to those who are willing to prove themselves faithful & meek in many, if not all, things. We need to go further into what’s truly God’s heart on what type of people we are to be in our own generation, than even our forefathers, who have stories of glorious revivals, have done. And I say that we need something more and purer because all that they have done has only brought us here. Maybe it’s instinct or maybe it’s obvious, but there’s a piece of the puzzle that’s still missing in our holistic gospel, and I have this hint that it back before we split ways with the Jews.

We need to be willing to find out that we’re the center of the universe, so that we can find truth. Truth will cost us something precious, and will give us something even more precious than before. We need to go beyond the revival saints, and find the core issue that has to be dealt with today. If that means giving up our northern kingdom for the glory of God, then give me God’s glory. For that I pray.

Are you willing to make this journey?
Please let us walk together dear friends. It could be beautiful, indeed.

Babies having babies

In America we’re thinking about Thanksgiving this time of year. My basis opinion says this should definitely be a universal celebration, and I know many other cultures and nations do have a sort of “thanks giving” celebration. Good enough.

Many family who gather together this time of year will have multiple tables to welcome all the guest. Many times there’s even a specific “kid table” and from this comes many jokes about growing up and making to the “adult table”.  In my family, this isn’t the tradition, but some years it does work like this. Overall the jokes are there to go along with it, because there’s a simple understanding that somewhere along the line conversation with the adults becomes interesting enough to hang around for, instead of getting bored and going to play outside. I am ever in between. Sometimes I do sit with adults and listen to conversation, sometime I work the knees of my jeans threadbare playing with the kids (afterall they’re only kids for a short time). Sometimes the kids don’t want me to play too. I’m flexible.

I believe in the beauty of growing up. I think maturity (in the proper time) is a wonderful experience that brings a true sense of happiness, joy, and pride (the good kind). I’m a believer.
However I’m also aware that too often in modern society people grow up at the wrong age(s). Some 20something still act childish and like high school hasn’t ended. Other young teens are having babies at ages that are so shocking it’s sometimes referred to as “babies having babies”. Some people in their 40s look out for #1 all the time, and haven’t learned to consider others (a basic kindergarten skill).

I understand the reality that these things happen and can’t just be stopped, but I’d like to propose the idea that our culture suffers from this most deeply because the church endorses it so vividly within their Christiandom borders. Not that Christiandom supports teenagers becoming parents or adults to shrugging social obligations (at least I hope not), but because Christiandom has raised generations of infants and told them the best way to grow up spiritual is to reproduce spiritual. Thus we only end pygmy “spiritual giants”, at best.

Unfortunately I came across this earlier today:
Just how do spiritual young men and women grow up to become spiritual fathers and mothers? There is only one way – to have children!

Spiritual babies, having babies. I wish I was making this up! I’m too embarrassed for this author to mention where I found it, because I think the statement in itself speaks volumes about the author.

For the record, I think “spiritual father” and “relational ministries” are shams. In theory, it all sounds good until you keep reading.  When reading or researching the opinions out there about “spiritual fatherhood”  I quickly see this is a hierarchy scheme. I’ve said it before, but this time I’ll let Jesus say it: “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,  and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.
(Mark 10:42-45 feel free to read the whole chapter, it’s good one!)

Authority, Leadership, Spiritual Fatherhood… these are rumors and reflections of something greater. Why not just choose the greater thing? Servanthood, Christ-likeness, “a ransom for many”.
What’s in a name? What’s in a title? What’s better, a spiritual father or brotherhood? Is there a better? Than why do we need to rule & reign over one another? Why can’t we come along side of each other? Are we so rehearsed with the ways of our society’s culture that we can’t see with Godly eyes or hunger with Heavenly desire? Must we compete over childish things such as self-important titles?

Seems ironic to me that some of the most important things in today’s Christian leadership are things that Jesus corrected his apostles on 2000 years ago.  I’m glad we’re progressing. Oh wait… :/

And if I ask the same questions…
Well you say I ask the same questions…
Well maybe I repeat myself from time to time…
But if I ask the same questions,
And I know I ask the same questions
It’s cause everyone who answers me is a liar

-song: Tie Me Up, Untie Me!
by mewithoutYou

I know I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it a hundred times more, but people, we are not competing here!  This is not about practicing proper authority. This is not about submitting. This is about walking side by side. This about looking out for your fellow brethren. This is about being the people God’s created us to be, and not about reproducing a systematized machine-like hierarchy. We follow Jesus even when the modern church & religious systems disagree.

And again I propose that this isn’t just about you and I as the church getting it right, but the very structure of society cannot be corrected if we are not living an authentic example of unity, maturity, and familyhood. Because we are to be the reflection of Christ in this age and because Christ is our perfect example of how God created things to function, if we don’t get this right, no one will ever find a magical formula on down the line. This is an ultimate responsibility.

It’s not about growing out of the kid’s table and becoming an adult with greater status, it’s about being grown up enough to know why the adult table is great and why the kid’s table is also great, and making sure everyone is included in the love we share. Utopian, I know. However, we must strive towards that which Christ is calling us to be, if we truly want to be the people of God and/or see the earth receive His glory.

Getting Older Fearlessly

I am a fairly reflective person. I like to know where I’m going partly by understanding where I’ve been. Things don’t always make sense in the moment that we go through them, but that doesn’t mean that they will always be a mystery. Sometimes understanding how people treat me means I have to understand a bit about that person without them telling me.

People don’t always look back to understand. Some people live in the past and some people intentionally forget the past, or maybe don’t forget it but merely remember it begrudgingly with all emotions intact. Most of my past I remember with the emotions I felt as I went through the different things, for good or for bad, but at the same time I can know that was then and I don’t have to feel that way now. I can look back and see thing with a different perspective IF I choose to. …or I can wallow.

There’s one specific chapter in the whole Bible that is know for being “the Love chapter” where it describes characteristics of what Love is truly like. It’s 1 Corinthians chapter 13 (Lucky 13, right?). While there’s a lot to comment on about this, I’m going point out the very last part of this chapter which isn’t so much about Love as it is about realizing our individual perspectives are only a small part to the great holistic picture.
There’s this one little bitty sentence that I love, and which is usually overlooked and not taught on, but I love it:

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

I love this verse for some very simple reasons. It speaks of fearlessness. It speaks of healthy growth and change and something new to look forward too. It speaks of living in the right time and enjoying it.  Lots of people will make growing up sound terrible. They will dread, and drag their feet, and whine & whimper and honestly… I think a lot of people don’t know how to enjoy adulthood. I feel a little bit sorry for those people. Only a little bit because it’s their choice to act like that.

I’ve seen terrible examples of people who would not grow up in many important areas of their life, and therefore acted selfish and treated other people terribly. I’ve seen watched people ruin their lives because they would not take advice or counsel, but licked their wounds and remained childish and allowed stunned maturity in their lives for decades. …or even until death. I’ve seen people who would not put away their childish thinking ruin others lives. The sadness is beyond words.

We are not victims. We are not who we once were. We are who we choose to be for today and tomorrow, for this all we can now choose.

There’s is a fearlessness that must come into play so that we may put our childish ways behind us, and so that we might step forward into adulthood. I maybe one of the rare few people you’ll meet who truly can enjoy adulthood and growing up. I do not shrink from another year. New Year’s Eve/Day is my favorite holiday, for I am ever-thirsty to find out what is before me and to hope anew. I do not fear what I do not know. I am thirsty for it.

I’ve long felt inside me a longing and that I am missing someone(s) and somethings I have not yet known, but my spirit knows them. I have enduringly prayed for great friends, community, my husband, and the many hundreds (thousands?) of lives we may impact. …but I am sure we have not meet yet. My husband I have met! And my heart knew him as soon as we first spoke for I’d long been praying for him years before and God revealed it to my heart instantly when first spoke. It was an amazing moment. I know there are many other people I still miss but have yet meet because I’ve prayed for them too for years. This compels me forward. My heart longs for them. There is so much ahead, things I cannot explain but I am sure of. My spirit compels me forward.

Growing up is great! I have so much to look forward to. There’s work to be done. There’s adventure to be found and lives to be lived, and fear to be drive out with love. I am so excited! I am thankful that God and I and my husband get to build this time of faithfulness together, although we hope for the future and were we might be soon, we are still thankful for this time.

Unpracticing Authority

I was in the kitchen helping prep lunch a little Christian gathering and I drifted over to the drink station where I saw another lady & man discussing making the coffee and how much and when, the man said something about we ladies had the authority to decide how much coffee and when because we were in the kitchen fixing lunch. How weird is that?

I was getting ready to go to sleep as the storms were growing close to the shared cabin-bunk I was sleeping in, I was excited, I love storms during a camp/retreat. I don’t know why I just do. We are all full-grown adult woman in this bunk-cabin so I imagine no one will cry through this storm, like I’d been use to in other precious camp experiences. One of the ladies decide she’d like to sit on the porch of the cabin as the storm passed through, to which the older ladies cried out in dramatic-ness that she’d be struck by lightening if she sat out there! …so much for no childishness over these storms, I thought. Much to my surprise after a little bit of debate the first lady stayed inside (bored) because she chose to ” submit to the authority” of these years-aged woman. Now that’s crazy, I thought.

What “authority” are these people talking about? And what’s it have to do with prevailing over (what seems to me to be) common sense? You like storms and you want to watch it, you’re full grown adult, watch them outside if you want. You want plenty of coffee and have made it multiple times before, make some more for everybody! What’s the problem here?

I’ve never heard of authority being used like this. …nor submission. Let’s clear some thing up and define terms a little, maybe?

“although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love” -Philemon 1:8-9

Paul has authority to demand the right and/or perfect thing to be done. All Paul has to do is give the words and they go out with authority like a commandment, but he doesn’t because this Paul. The same Paul who introduces himself at the beginning of the letter as “a prisoner of Christ Jesus”. The prisoner, the servant, the bond-slave… Paul’s idea of credentials and authority were very different than our modern business society.

Servanthood. That’s what I know. There’s a concept that I grew up with, serving one another. It’s the leveler. There’s no need to appoint authority when we are serving one another. …Moreover there’s no reason to give authority when we are not serving one another. Authority is almost obsolete if we are living in the example of Christ Jesus, and is invaild among brethren if we are not living in the ways of Christ Jesus.

Authority practiced and stretched out is more likely an abuse, than actual authority. Because if you must practice authority, then something must be very wrong… more so than even running out of coffee in the midst of three-a-day 2hr lectures. We are called to serve and practice love one to another, if someone enjoys watching storms we should not indoctrinate them with fear, but appoint them to the wisdom and hands of God “ok, but be careful and come in if you feel it’s too dangerous” that should be our response. Using, taking, or practicing authority should be reserved for the severest situations, and not practiced to perfection. Servanthood will lead us to perfection, just as Jesus showed us in his life when he set aside his authority to practice servanthood.

Jesus was strong.

Strong people can remain calm & in-control. Crazy and/or insecure people must yell, scream, and be dramatic to show a false authority. Strong people can serve one another without fear, because they instinctively know the power and authority it takes to be and to remain a servant. It takes the strength of pure-love. One can not be a good servant or authoritative figure without a pure love.

When Paul appeals on the basis of love he also empowers Philemon (the reader) to become an authoritive servant in Christ Jesus. Paul gains authority by giving it away to other faithful servants of Christ.

We need not to practice or appeal to authority within the brethren, instead we need to practice and appeal to love and servanthood. We need to reason together, because this is the example which Christ Jesus gave to us to live by. And since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Grace & peace brethren