Celebrating Women in Leadership: 3 reasons why I am Egalitarian

Celebrating Women in LeadershipSo in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith…There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

  1. Women in Leadership is Biblically Accurate: Women in scripture were clearly more than the helpmate that my complementation brothers and sisters would describe. Women were bold dynamic leaders (Deborah, Esther, Mary, the Samaritan woman, etc.). Supporting women in ministry leadership actually takes a deeper reading of scripture. I can see where a simplistic surface level reading of the text could lend someone toward complementation thinking. However, solid biblical exegesis leads me back to the fact that men and women can and should be full partners in ministry.

Here are three quick reasons why I believe women in church leadership is biblically accurate

-Men and women are both image bearers: Genesis 1:27;31, 5:1-2

-Jesus levels the playing field: Galatians 3:26-28

-Women were apostles and leaders in the early church: Romans 16,

***There are many more reasons why this is biblically accurate, if you are looking for reasons then check out my friends over at http://juniaproject.com or post a question in the comments and I’ll get back to you

  1. Women in Leadership are Strategically important: This question has rocked me lately, “If the great commission were to be fulfilled in two years, what would have to happen?” Obviously, when you start thinking about the ramifications of this question, the first thing is that we need more people who are on mission with Jesus. We need men and women to, to lead churches and to disciple others. If the Great Commission were to be accomplished in the next two years, the church would minimally have to double its output of leaders. This means my complementation friends would have to release some ladies to lead churches and preach the gospel.
  2. Women in Leadership makes an “Acts 2” Church: Everyone wants to have the “Acts 2” type of church. Usually when this is mentioned to we are specifically suggesting Acts 2:42-47. This is a terrific vision of what the church ought to look like and be, But in my Bible I can’t get to Acts 2:42-47 without reading verses 17-18

“‘In the last days, God says,

I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy,

your young men will see visions,

your old men will dream dreams.

Even on my servants, both men and women,

    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,

and they will prophesy.

 

Sign up for the Celebrating Women in Leadership Conference, February 14, 2015: Click Here

 

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counterfeit love

CS Lewis wrote about life so profoundly that you can’t help but testify to the truthfulness of C.S.-Lewis-2what you have just read.  I just got back from a two-week vacation where all I did was read. Out of all the page I’ve read, the one line that has stuck with me most vividly was from Lewis, “Love, in its own nature, demands perfecting of the beloved.”

My dad and I have always had a great relationship, but I remember one time in college when we sharply disagreed on something.  It was nothing that harmed our relationship, we disagreed before but this time just stuck out to me.  Now that I have some distance from the issue, it is overly apparent that he was right.  In fact, I knew he was right at the time I just wanted my way.  Love disagrees, and sometimes sharply, not for the benefit of the lover but for the beloved.  I am thankful for my father, through this disagreement he taught me how to think and reason correctly.  My father cared more about whom I was becoming than I did in those moments.

In friendships, in parenting, in marriage you will find that this old CS Lewis wisdom rings true.  Love indeed demands the perfecting of the beloved.  It is not very loving to watch someone spiral out of control.  What kind of friend would I be if I did not speak out when my friend was going down a dangerous path?  What kind of husband would I be if I didn’t want better than the current reality for my wife?  What kind of father would my kids have if I didn’t discipline them, and then what kind of kids would they be if they thought their impulses were always correct?   What kind of God would God be if He didn’t want the very best, including perfection, for his people.

True love always hopes and wants the best for others.  There is this impulse in the fabric of our society that says when your opinion is offensive; it is not loving to say it.  This seems to me like counterfeit love.  We must reject counterfeit love that allows people to rejoice in their own impulses.  Reject the kind of counterfeit love that allows you watch others drift toward disaster without lifting a finger.  Reject the counterfeit love that cares more for the lover than the beloved. Real love is compelled to want the best for you.  Real true love is compelled to kindly correct and rebuke.  Real love gently draws out perfection, if it is at all possible.

Counterfeit love is all around us, it screams, “do whatever you want!”  Even when what you want is bad.  It is a dangerous delusion when we re-define love in our own words.  As I said in another post, what would happen if a man beat his child but still professed the message of love?  The child would always have a flawed definition of love.

What would this world look like if the lover demanded the perfection of the beloved?  Of course, our love is flawed because we ourselves are not love, only God is Love.

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the message is the messenger

Our actions either affirm the gospel message of Jesus Christ or we fit the gospel message Jesus the conformist into our actions, thus contorting the gospel into a new one entirely.  If I told my children that I love them and then I beat them, then wouldn’t they have a distorted understanding of the message of love?  It takes less than one generation to change the message.

This idea speaks much to my concern with the state of the church in America.  By our actions we affirm the centrality of ourselves.  By our purchasing power we affirm that we can supply all of our own needs.   Our self-indulgences help us to forget there was ever such a thing called temptation. By our travel into the cosmos we can practically touch the heavens.  Through our denial of the existence of evil we nullify the need to overcome such evil.  And the gospel message becomes a tame, easy message of sinning and feeling good about it.

The message of the gospel is most readily preached through our actions, whether they are correct or not.  Our actions are read and interpreted with the ease of a children’s book.  We say common phrases like, “don’t shoot the messenger.”  But so many times, the message is the messenger.

I have been getting into the conversation of Christianity and homosexuality a lot lately.  This is yet one more reason as a Christian I cannot celebrate gay marriage or homosexuality in general.  I know I will sound like an extremist and fundamentalist with this next line, but I think those serious Christians who do affirm such behavior are at risk of changing the gospel message entirely.  The message will be, “Jesus wants you to fulfill all of your desires.”  Professor Niebuhr reminds us that this gospel does not lead to freedom in his famous quote, “man is most free in the realization that he is not free.”  Niebuhr reminds us that life with Jesus is about submitting our entire life, including our desires to him and living in the freedom of being filled with Him.

It is not just the homosexuality conversation that changes the message.  Our ravenous consumerist desires, coupled with our individualistic needs have probably done more damage to the message of Christ than any case of pastoral infidelity.  Our thirst for fulfilling our needs through common consumer practices are even de facto blessed by the institution of the church, which needs to have the newest, latest greatest gadgets as well.  I suppose we accidentally create desire for stuff rather than for transformation.  This is a problem that infects everyone and actually does serious damage to the poorest among us.  It again changes the message to, “I can solve all of my problems and I can have all of my needs met through a simple transaction.”

So what is the message of Christ?  What did he say the Gospel was?  What Jesus actually said was this: “The time has come, The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news,” (Mark 1:14) It could take many pages to explain this phrase fully, but it could be taken as simply as saying that His ways are not our ways, His kind of love is not our kind of love, so we need to change our minds, submit our actions to what God is doing and wants to do all around us.

There are many who will disagree with what I am suggesting here, I would welcome you to straighten me out in the comments below.  But I would also challenge you that before you did that, ask yourself what your actions preach.  How does the way you live amplify, distort or change the gospel of Christ?

May God bless you richly today,

May He shine his face upon you,

And give you peace.

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awkward conversations

Awkward_Postcard (1)I had a friend, and fellow blogger, point out to me on Sunday that I thrive in tension and that I love creating it.  The truth is that creating an awkward, tension filled environment is great for learning.  I don’t do it to make people feel uncomfortable but when you think about it, the moments that shift our paradigms the most are when we recognize the tension that is alive within us and face it.

On April 27th we begun a series called, “Awkward,” our goal is to face these issues head on and become the kind of church that the world is waiting for (Romans 8).   Ever since I wrote a little on gay marriage a few months ago I have been more and more compelled to talk about this issue.   The problem is the divisiveness of the issue.  More and more “disagreement” has been translated as “intolerance” and intolerance has moved to “hate.”  This type of thinking is inherently illogical.  While it helps the homosexual agenda, it can be extremely damaging if applied to other areas of life.  Taken to its logical conclusion, this form of thinking is inherently reverse discrimination.  Here is an easy example that has actually happened.  Voting for traditional marriage was branded as hate, in that the campaign was “NOH8.”  This actually happened.  Then a company CEO (although not tactful) states his position on gay marriage and then almost immediately the entire company is branded as a hate filled organization that needed to be boycotted.  Effectively, labeling any group as “hateful” is the impetus for discrimination in the marketplace.  Even though this person showed no evidence of being hateful by the real meaning of the word, they simply had a strong opinion.

It is my belief that this tit-for-tat petty thinking needs to end.  Unless we engage in meaningful conversation and give the homosexual community a chance to be heard and understood we will always be steeped in this type of battle.  Similarly, the homosexual community needs to give the Christian community a chance to be heard.  We need to understand each other’s differences and respectfully disagree with one another.

We need to recognize that a war has been waged.  The homosexual community and the Christian community did battle numerous times.  Very little about this was tactful.  Very little about the war created unity and allowed for others to understand one another.  Our culture is immersed in a type of toxic thinking.  That is, retributive violence or revenge is a means by which order is restored.  I believe this to be the biggest lie of all.  I want to submit to you a new way forward.  I think there is really only one way to restore order after a war.  We need to repent in the areas we have been hurtful, change any hurtful behavior and begin to learn from one another.

I want to publish my teaching outline from this past Sunday, and invite you out to the conversation I will be having with a friend of mine who is gay on May 4th.   If you have a topic or question for conversation that you’d like us to cover then please put it in the comments below.

If you’re looking for a fight then this is not the place for you, but if you’re looking for actual dialogue that will help us approach this issue better, then I’d love to have you as our guest.

————–Sermon outline———————–

This is Awkward…The Homosexuality Discussion

Matthew 21:31

What do we do with our enemies?

Matthew 5:43-48

The logical conclusion of Jesus’ teaching is to have no enemies

We remember the mission of the church is to be a community of redemption

Many of you have heard this quote:

“The church is not a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners.” Morton T. Kelsey

Luke 18:9-14

Matthew 21:31

We never define, label or joke at the expense of others.

We have to always remember:

  1. Each person bears the image of God (Genesis 1:27)
  2. We are God’s delivery system of Grace (1 Peter 4:10)
  3. We must speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15, 25)
  4. We must guard against unwholesome talk that doesn’t build others up (Ephesians 4:29)

We never Judge others

Luke 6:37-38

We show hospitality to everyone regardless of their sexual orientation

Sodom and Gomorrah was more about a story of inhospitality than a story condemning homosexuality

Ezekiel 16:49 

We remember that loving someone and walking through life with them does not constitute affirming a particular lifestyle

Jesus spent so much time with the tax collectors, drunkards and gluttons that he was considered one of them.  We have no evidence to say that Jesus was actually one of them.  However we do have evidence to say that Jesus led them out of their lifestyles

Luke 7:34

Let the Bible speak for itself

We do have a Biblical basis to say that homosexual behavior is outside the will of God in regard to our sexual relationships.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Romans 1:24-28

Jesus on traditional Marriage:

Matthew 19:3-6

We have a working framework for discussion

Frame 1: Homosexuality = Struggle

Frame 2: Homosexual behavior = Sin

Frame 3: Homosexual agenda= Strategy

How to engage with others:

  1. Listen and learn from them
  2. Lead them to Jesus
  3. Leave people with Jesus
  4. Love people like Jesus
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reflections on fred phelps and the wbc

This morning I got a news notification on my phone that Fred Phelps the founder of Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) died.  Like most people my age I remember seeing the people he sucked into his delusions, protesting military funerals and especially the funereal of the young gay man who was murdered horrifically in Texas.  Seeing WBC band of followers has branded my conscience deeply.  How can people who claim to follow Jesus be so unloving?

Photo Credit: Steve Hebert for The New York Times

Photo Credit: Steve Hebert for The New York Times

I get frustrated with the WBC because when you look at movies, TV shows and other media forums, you always see the crazy radical Christians.  Always willing to kill an abortion doctor or yell at someone for not believing the way that they do.  All of these writers have to show Christians in a recognizable way so they use the classic militant Westboro Baptist personality.  WBC and Fred Phelps have given material to countless writers working on TV or movie scripts.  It is frustrating to me that so few Christians are this way and we all get painted with the WBC personality in media.

I get frustrated because the WBC does not make following Jesus attractive.  I actually have a feeling of disgust when I think about what they do in Jesus’ name.  Countless people who have attended funerals that the WBC has picketed will always associate the church and possibly even Jesus with hate.   Any clear reading of the gospels shows that Jesus would be grieving at these losses, not protesting their life.

It is moments like this when I am reminded that we ought to be praying for the WBC folks.  These are people living under the most severe mind control imaginable.  Although they all are complicit in the actions of the church and therefore share a responsibility, I truly think that there are many who “know not what they do.” There are many that have been bread to be members of WBC.  Those who have fled from the church have told the stories of mind control and oppression.   All of the reports say Phelps was excommunicated from church he founded because he began to advocate more kindness to the members.   The monster he created truly devoured him.  Kindness is dangerous in the WBC system because with kindness, forgiveness is sure to follow.  When forgiveness rears its beautiful face, reconciliation is next to come.  Then, love.  I hope Phelps was on a good path when he died, who knows?  But it appears that the WBC was too afraid of losing its identity and going down the slippery slope of “kindness.”

I know that I cannot put feelings in you, but I can tell you mine.  I have a deep sense of pity for these people.  I really believe that they are so brainwashed that they cannot see the harm in what they are doing. I feel pity because I feel sorry for the children who are now adults advocating hate in Jesus’ name.  I feel pity, not mercy, not compassion; I feel pity for these people because pity allows me to, cut them some slack.  Jesus too pitied me.  My favorite author, Dallas Willard reminds us that pity makes you wince when you hear the word.  Pity cuts the ego down quite effectively.  In the Divine Conspiracy Dallas reminds us, When we give someone mercy it saves the ego and its egotism.” In other words when we use the word mercy we are allowing the ego to continue to thrive.  When we pity them, we help the work of reconciliation to happen, by both loving and cutting down the ego.

In this situation it is so tempting to bash Phelps and the WBC.  They have heaped up quite enough reasons for criticism.  Let us as a church call for the WBC to re-examine the gospel.  Let us call for the WBC to reconsider their positions.  Let us call for the WBC to repent and apologize and to begin reconciling with the communities they have done irreparable harm to.  Let us pray that they would be overcome with grief for their actions.  Lets us move toward embracing people that provoke hate so that them might truly see the love of Jesus.

It would be my hope that in the years to come when people see crazy Christians on TV or movies, that they wouldn’t have a frame of reference for it.  What would it say to the world if the Christian church came around the small cultish WBC and held up signs that say, “we pity you,”  “We will forgive you, ” or my favorite “Let’s hug it out?”

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