He Will Rule Over You

A brilliant little quote from Dr. Mimi Haddad from the article, “Fifty Shades of Grey: A Trilogy of Deceit, Collusion, and Domination.”

The collective suffering of women worldwide is the result of abuses of power, pervasive in many different cultures. Patriarchy–male dominance, is entrenched within the major faith traditions, including Christianity. The “he will rule over you” of Genesis 3:16 was one of the first consequences of sin in the garden. But unlike death, toil, and work, or even pain in child-birth–all the effects of sin–male rule has been elevated and advanced as a biblical ideal by Christian leaders throughout history. Christians resist death; we oppose the thorns and thistles of labor through technology and agriculture just as we work to improve the experiences of childbearing. Yet, male authority and rule receive an enduring endorsement from the church, making it harder to question and challenge without the fear of opposing God as well.

You can read the full article here.

Dr. Mimi Haddad is president of Christians for Biblical Equality. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado and Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. She holds a PhD in historical theology from the University of Durham, England. She and her husband, Dale, live in the Twin Cities. Follow her on Twitter @Mimi_CBE.

The Power of Hope

Bryan Stevenson loves God and loves others. He gave this talk at the Justice Conference (2014). I wish I could have been there. Please take a few minutes and watch the video. It’s inspiring, convicting, and hopeful.

Hopefulness is at the center of confronting injustice. Injustice persists where hopelessness resides. We cannot advance justice without hope.

When we’re content with weakness, when we’re content with difficulty, when we’re content with discomfort, that’s when we get to say, “When I am weak, then I am strong.”

Get close, change narratives, be hopeful, and do the uncomfortable.

Bryan Stevenson from The Justice Conference on Vimeo.

Signs and Wonders

Friday wasn’t supposed to be significant. It’s my friend Pat’s birthday so that makes it special, but other than that, it was only slightly important because my long-awaited doctor visit had finally arrived.

     When I lost my job in January of 2013, I also lost my healthcare. Up until that point in my life, I had never experienced life without healthcare. I was out of work for nearly eight months, got a job in August (insert Hallelujah here), and got a urinary tract infection in September. The job was a temporary appointment and I still had no healthcare. At that point, my finances were somewhere between “please stop calling me” and “my stellar credit report has died a terrible death.” So… the doctor visit was not an option.

     In October, I bought a UTI kit from the dollar store and the results were positive. In November, I called my doctor’s office and inquired about UTIs and the cost of treatment. The “oh-so-friendly” woman told me I would have to come in for a visit because they could not diagnose me over the phone. I said, “I realize that. I’m just trying to get an idea of what the visit will cost me since I am currently uninsured.”  She informed me that the visit would run me $100, antibiotics around $300, and there might be more tests needed at an additional cost. And…I decided I could live with the discomfort.

medical     In late February of 2014, I started to feel a little more uncomfortable, I began talking with women about my symptoms – even though it was awkward and slightly humiliating – and I started to feel a dull pain and became a little concerned the UTI might have moved to my kidneys. My temporary position became permanent (insert Hallelujah here) so I decided to wait. Thankfully, on March 1st my health coverage became effective (insert a choir of Hallelujah’s here). I immediately made an appointment. When it looked like my medical cards would not arrive in time for the appointment, I called to let the doctor’s office know. Oooooh! Not good news. After 14 years with the same doctor’s office, they wouldn’t consider back-billing my insurance, so I had to cancel the appointment and wait until I had the cards in my hand. Those beautiful plastic cards arrived and I called to make an appointment. I was told the only female doctor was no longer accepting new patients. Did I want to see a nurse?

     I looked around for a new doctor in town and made the appointment. The night before the appointment, I went to bed and dreamed I was lost, couldn’t remember where the doctor’s office was located, and arrived so late the appointment had to be rescheduled. Needless to say, Friday morning, when I was reminded someone was borrowing my car for the day but would drop me off at the doctor, I felt a wave of anxiety run through me. Later that morning, I left my office and stood at the curb watching for my car. When I got the call to say my car wouldn’t start, I was less than gracious. With just a few minutes to spare, my Mom picked me up at the curb and dropped me off at the doctor’s office. The reception area was empty (insert cricket sounds here). The receptionist informed me I was seven minutes late and just stared at me.  I reached deep, down in to my heart and pulled out an ounce of kindness and asked, “Will the doctor still see me or will I need to reschedule?”

     The self-diagnosed UTI turned out to be cervical cancer. Somewhere between “your cervix looks bad” and “You have cervical cancer,” I lost a little piece of myself – the piece that needed to go in order for me to grow. When I realized I was holding my breath, I exhaled, closed my eyes, and found the courage to tell God I was thankful and would follow Him wherever He wanted to take me. I actually can’t remember much of what the doctor told me: stages, treatment, hysterectomy, and waiting for the results.

TheKing     The last few days have been raw, cold, and numbing. I’ve suppressed more emotion than I ever thought possible, though I’m quite sure it’s been more difficult for the people who love me. I’ve said and thought some silly things, gazed into dark spaces in my mind, and googled things that sent me on a roller coaster ride of emotion. I’ve discovered there are things in my life I need to be rid of – the unnecessary stuff that serves no purpose. I’ve grieved for the hundreds of women and children that aren’t being loved right here in my town. And I’ve thought about how much of a fight I’m willing to endure, if any.

     On Sunday morning at church (insert Hallelujah here), Marty Solomon (Real Life on the Palouse) delivered a sermon, “New Beginnings,” that reminded me why I need to fight to be alive.  I am a ruler chosen by a king who reigns in righteousness. I am a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, a stream of water in the desert, and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land. And loving and serving people is the most effective way of reaching a fearful, hardened heart. I have no other reason to be here if I’m not going to do what Jesus commanded.

     Today I learned that my cancer was caught in the early stages of its destruction and will be treatable. And I am thankful. I’m not altogether sure what that means right now; nevertheless, I am ridiculously happy! No matter what happens, from here on out, I will continue to love the people He sets in my path and I will expect Him to perform signs and wonders through me. I am loved by an awesome God. And even if He chooses to take me home, I will gladly follow.


Goats vs. Sheep

I read a blog post entitled, The Failure of Mercy Ministry, and I was filled with grief and reminded of Matthew 25 about sheep and goats. If you want the source link, please ask me offline.

The blogger says this:

Everyone that Jesus fed, healed, or raised from the dead still died. And from now until the second coming, so will everyone who benefits from our mercy ministries. The point of Christians ministering to bodies, which will still succumb to death, is to give a picture, some small picture, of the healing to the soul that the Gospel offers. Jesus fed hungry people so that he could explain that he was the bread of life. He healed the blind so that he could explain what it meant to truly see. He raised the dead, so that he could explain how it was that he was the resurrection and the life. And we do the same with our mercy ministries. We minister to the body, so that we can create an opportunity to minister to the soul.

But that’s not what Jesus said:

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
     “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
     “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’(Matthew 25:41-45)

     He said…because you didn’t take care of the people I love, you didn’t care for ME. The point of Christians doing mercy is to love and honor God. So how do we show our love for God? Jesus fed, healed, and raised people from the dead because He loved them and they were hungry, husbandless, thirsty, cold, shoeless, fatherless, and not because He needed an opportunity to get their attention. Is there a more tangible way to show your love for God than to feed and clothe Him? If Jesus asked me for a sandwich, I’d move mountains to make Him one and leave out the bit about His body eventually dying.

The blogger goes on to say this:

But the temptation is always there to begin to think that ministering to the body is more important and we forget about the soul. This happens when Christians begin to compromise their teaching of the Gospel in order to create or maintain opportunities to participate in mercy ministry. This happens when the preaching of the Gospel starts to disappear because of the threat that it poses to the efficiency of the mercy ministry.

     Christ knows that if we say we believe, true faith will manifest itself in our actions. Mercy ministry is not a substitute for the Gospel, it’s simply the living proof that a living faith is present – it is the Gospel in action. Mercy ministry is true faith manifesting itself in the lives of believers, who understand the Grace of God and can’t keep themselves from loving the lost, widows, orphans, prisoners, and the weak. Justice isn’t a distraction.

     What pleases the Lord? He’s shown us what is good and what He requires of us. Do justice—don’t just talk about it. Love kindness—and not just to people who look like you and who can afford to buy you dinner. Walk humbly—spend as much on other people as you spend on yourself, be willing to sacrifice until it hurts, and give every aspect of your being over to God.

The blogger finishes by saying:

If we put the Gospel in the back seat while we do mercy work, we have shifted to a health and wealth Gospel. We have decided that it is more important to fix peoples’ bodies than their souls. As my kindergarten teacher once wisely told me, “don’t do that.”

     The guy misses the point of mercy work and, I fear, he will lead a multitude of people, if he hasn’t already, to live more like goats then sheep. Every piece of bread, every new well, every pair of pants, every visit to a prisoner and every rescued orphan, is centered on the person of the King. If you do mercy in connection with the King—you live out the Gospel to a world in need of Jesus. If you put the Gospel behind the wheel, then be prepared to stop frequently to feed homeless people.

If you’re giving people a meal so you can check a box and say your church does Mercy Ministry—and there’s no real love, passion, or understanding for why He asked you to do it—Christ would say, “Get away from me. I never knew you.”

The Heart of God In Equal Measure

The disciples had just returned from a trip to the city to buy food when they saw Jesus sitting and talking to a woman. We are told that the disciples were surprised to find Jesus talking to her, but they didn’t say, “What do you want? or ask Jesus, “Why are you talking with her?” Good choice.
     When their conversation is over, the woman goes back to the town and tells everyone about her meeting with Jesus. If you’ve been a Christian for more than a minute, you know it wasn’t an accident that He spoke with the woman. He knew her heart. He knew that her enthusiasm would change the lives of the people in her town. He knew she would draw people to Him.
     Many of the people from her town came to hear Jesus because of her testimony. They said to her, “We no longer believe just because of what you said. Now we believe because we’ve heard for ourselves, and we know that Jesus is really the Savior of the world.” (Jn. 4:5-30)
     It isn’t a stretch to say that women in their culture were virtually insignificant. They were poor, obviously the wrong gender, ethnically incorrect, their bodies were unclean on a monthly basis, and some women sold their bodies to provide for their families. And yet, Christ consistently challenged the culture of the day—the devaluation of women by the men in society—and He did it boldly and without hesitation. Jesus knew what was happening to women in the culture and He wasn’t having any of it. For Him, a woman would be a joint heir, a full member of the body of Christ.
     The value of women to God, and to the Church, has not diminished since Christ walked on the earth. Women represent the heart of God in equal measure to men. When the Church devalues women, sets them aside as incapable of doing kingdom work or limits their ministry to token tasks, the Church misrepresents Christ’s teachings and practices. Jesus taught women and prepared them for service as disciples. He wanted women to be baptized and recognized as part of the covenant.
     To suggest that the Church is best represented by qualities attributed to men is simply a failure to understand Christ’s vision and message. If you want to know what it’s like to be a bride, you need to ask one. If you want your church to represent the heart of God, you’ll need to add a few chairs at the table and invite some women to share their faith…their wisdom. Open your eyes. The harvest is ready. Everyone needs to role up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.

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