Sunday, July 07, 2019

What is the missing ingredient in your walk with Christ?

Are you reading your Bible every day, always picking up today where you left off yesterday?

A pastor who does not read his Bible every day, dismissed this very sound biblical counsel [and justified his lackadaisical attitude towards daily fellowship with God through His Word] by telling me that it is my gift of teaching that singles me out and draws me into the Word of God every single day. 

I was stunned by the implication that I am somehow special among Christians because of this discipline in my life. The suggestion that daily Bible reading is a rare and unnecessary habit for "average" Christians [and this coming from a pastor, a shepherd of God's flock!] astounded me.

I begged to differ with him. It is not my gift of teaching that draws me into the Word of God every morning along with my first sip of coffee. It is my desire to know my Creator, to put Him first by visiting with Him every day, and to walk in victory and fellowship with Him. That is what draws me into His awesome LIFE-GIVING Word. 

Jesus is the WORD [In the beginning was the WORD...] and he said, "The WORD I speak to you is Spirit and is LIFE. I recall Jesus' answer when Satan came tempting him, trying to trip him up and bring him down; He said, "It is WRITTEN!" 

Spiritual warfare begins and ends with having knowledge of, faith in, and standing on, the WRITTEN WORD OF GOD

How can we know what is WRITTEN, unless we read it?

How do I know if I am hearing the Word of God in my spirit [and not the voice of a stranger] if I do not have knowledge of the WRITTEN Word of God? 

Isaiah, who prophetically saw further into the future than any other biblical writer, compared everything that claimed to be knowledge of God, with what had already been WRITTEN

My gift of teaching? That is not the reason I open my Bible and read every day, always picking up today where I left off yesterday, but my hope and prayer is that the Holy Spirit can use my gift to win souls, make disciples, and bring strength and encourage to his people through the power of the Written WORD OF GOD.

Friday, July 05, 2019

What is your Spiritual Gift?

 I believe God has given each of his children at least one spiritual gift. 

It may not be noticed in a public platform such as preaching, singing, teaching, etc... But His WORD promises that his differing gifts are divided among his children according to the grace that is given to each of us.

Your gift is important. It is making a difference in people's lives. One spiritual gift is that of encouragement. Are you an encourager? We should all encourage others, but have you ever considered that encouragement might be one of your gifts? 

A person once visited a workplace of mine who was in a devastating state of loneliness. After many years of marriage, they had been plunged into widowhood and one year later were still experiencing extreme grief and loneliness. In an effort to survive the loss [and escape painful reminders] they had relocated almost immediately, and this resulted in almost total isolation.

I preach. But was preaching the gift that was needed when this person began pouring out their heart to me? I teach. I write. I sing. I am gifted and anointed to speak publicly on a variety of topics, both religious and secular. But were any of these gifts of any use at all when confronted with a person who was emotionally broken, devastatingly lonely and isolated, and heartbreakingly transparent about their need for friendship and support in giving up the miserable comforter of alcohol?


A heart of compassion, a listening ear, an encouraging word, and perhaps the tiniest bit of direction to someone who hadn't the slightest idea of where to turn.  

Fortunately, my workplace was such that it provided community for people so this person was in a good place to begin building friendships and resolving the isolation problem. 

I asked them if they had a church they attended. They answered that they were not religious. They did not seem adverse to the idea of church, only that they felt they did not qualify for that option as they were not religious. 

I did not, at that point, feel led to begin preaching or even telling them that Jesus was their answer (though He is!), but I did assure them they did not have to be religious to visit a church where they could meet people and begin to develop friendships and support systems that would ease the loneliness, help deal with the grief and loss, end the isolation, and help with ditching the miserable comforter of alcohol (I phrased it simply "support group"). 

This person was open to all of this and thanked me for jotting down the names of two churches I thought they might enjoy, one of which has a weekly support group.  

Thankfully, my job was such that, when I had no pressing tasks, chatting with our members was part of my everyday life at work (primary reason I took that job!). This person thanked me for taking the time to talk with them and declared they felt very encouraged by our conversation.

We should all be encourager's, and I haven't given much thought as to whether that might be one of my gifts, but regardless, it felt good to encourage a heart that day. 

So what is your gift? How does God use you to shine HIS LIGHT and encourage hearts in your workplace and every day life? 

Encourage us by leaving your comment below.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Interview with Jocelyn About her Book "Woman this is WAR!"

 What is Woman this is War! about? Woman this is WAR! is about change. In many churches and homes, women are treated as second class citizens. This is not only unchristian and unbiblical, but it is unhealthy. It is emotionally and spiritually detrimental to all involved, and sometimes physically dangerous to women and girls.

Can you elaborate on that statement? Yes. How can it be healthy and beneficial when Christian leaders call men who love their families but have no desire to rule over their wives, "wimps," and when prejudice against women is encouraged as Christians are taught that the underlying motive in the heart of every woman is to dominate men? This is taught by the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood [CBMW] and is posted on their website.

Additionally, studies show that aggression and violence against girls and young women is increasing among young boys and college age young men. This has been connected with strongly held gender role beliefs. Tragically, mainstream Christianity is the primary propagator of this harmful paradigm. Complementarian teachings, pit husbands and wives against each other and often interfere in what might otherwise be happy marriages. Female submission teaching creates problems that complementarian leaders promise to solve. Thus, a thriving industry has been created for complementarian authors, speakers, and conference organizers that generates millions of dollars for those claiming to solve the very issues that their doctrine creates.

You sound like a feminist; isn't feminism opposed to Christianity and Biblical teaching? The definition of feminism has evolved over the years but at its most basic is simply "advocating for social and political equality for women." There is nothing inherently evil about that.

Language plays a dominant part in defining cultural attitudes. The earliest definitions of the word "feminist" were drafted by men in the 1930's. These men were hostile to the idea of equality between women and men. Webster's Dictionary first defined feminism as "propaganda," "the 'cult' of advocating for social and political equality for women." 
From 1938: The word "Feminist" was not yet in dictionary

It is the original smear on the idea of equality, embodied in the first definitions of the word "feminism" and then later the word "feminist," that lies at the root of the negativism and stigma still attached to the word today. The current practice within mainstream Christianity, is labeling all manner of evil, as "The Feminist” agenda.

Additionally, there is no evidence that Biblical feminism is a spin-off of secular feminism. It cannot be connected with secular feminism in any way. I document this thoroughly in my book, and anti-feminist author, Mary Kassian, admits as much in her book. 

It is a sad fact that Christian historians and authors have ignored, and even grossly misrepresented, significant Christian initiatives in the many movements for the autonomy of women.

Christian women and men have been instigators in the various historical movements for women's rights from the very beginning. For instance, four of the five women who organized the Seneca Falls Woman's Rights Convention in 1848, were Quakers. Christian involvement in women's rights spans oceans and continents and can be traced to the 17th century. The very first feminist is said to be a Christian. I write about her in my book.

Christian women and men have a rich heritage in advocating for equality of the sexes; and it is a heritage we should be proud of. 

What about women in the Church? The teaching that men should lead and women should follow cannot be found in scripture. In fact, there are scriptural examples of both women and men and of men following women. The complementarian prohibition against women teaching or leading in either the Old Testament or the New has no scripture to stand on. In Woman this is WAR!, I cover this in detail. It is a complete theological treatise on the subject of complementarianism and equality.

This is a contentious subject. Shouldn’t women just drop it and yield male leadership for the sake of peace and order? No. Only true equality—in both essence and function—promotes true peace. In God’s order, liberty and autonomy are not gender-based and is commanded for all of his human creation. Insisting on gender-based hierarchy is unbiblical and sinful. No Christian should yield to sin. If refusing to submit to sin disturbs the peace, the fault lies with those exhibiting the sinful behavior—not by those refusing to submit to it.

Regarding women, your title accuses the church of aligning itself with caste and slavery. How can this be justified? It is justified, because it is true. Mainstream Christianity has historically taught [and currently teaches] that women are born into subordination for the simple fact that they are female. Complementarianism teaches that there is nothing a woman can do to rise above the fact of her birth. This is caste. Many of the arguments used to keep women in subjection are identical to the arguments used by slaveholders in attempts to prove that God divinely mandated slavery. I once spoke with a young complementarian who still believes that God mandated chattel slavery! In the book, I draw many parallels between the attitudes of 19th century slaveholders and those of 21st century traditional role religionists and complementarians.

It sounds like you cover a great deal of historical background in your book: Yes, Woman this is WAR! is a treasure trove of historical information relevant to the contemporary issue of complementarianism and should be of interest to anyone researching not only the Christian aspects of historical women's rights movements but also Black History. Some prominent figures in the movement for women's rights were former slaves. Also, many African Americans who played prominent parts in facilitating freedoms we enjoy today were devout Christians. I write about these in Woman this is WAR!

How would this book benefit non-Christians? The historical aspects, of course. But also, the issues exposed in Woman this is WAR! do not affect just Christians. Religious misogyny (not just Christian) held by judges, politicians, employers, teachers, and others demands to be expressed, and it does so in court case rulings, legislative voting, when hiring and doling out job raises and promotions, and with treatment of students. Although this book does not deal with these particular areas [or other religions besides Christianity] in detail, it is a fact that regardless of religion, the sacred beliefs of people in authority or positions of influence, can pose a danger to human rights [most especially the human rights of women] due to strongly held convictions about gender roles. We see this in all three of the main world religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In order to understand how this can be true, this is the book to read and recommend...

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

How to Win Against Impossible Odds

 The future of any people lies in the hands of their leadership, whether it be religious or political (this is a biblical concept confirmed multiple times in scripture). 

That makes it critical for people to elect and follow good leadership

...and for leaders (whether spiritual or political) to listen to the right voices, to wise counsel

The historical example of Zedekiah is relevant for today. He was a wishy-washy fellow who also happened to be king during a critical time in his people's history. 

Little did he know (except by the words of a prophet he refused to listen to) that his was the administration that would make or break his nation. He would have only a few years to make decisions that would either propel his people into a time of Divine protection and prosperity or bring everything crashing down around them.

Making the right decision would involve faith and great courage. It would place his life and popularity at risk. It would work his enemies into deadly frenzies. The wrong decision would end life as they knew it.

The following is taken from The Hungry Hearts Bible Commentary (Notes from my Bible --by this writer):

    1: Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem And his mother's name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah .... 4: And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign in the tenth month in the tenth day of the month that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came he and all his army against Jerusalem and pitched against it and built forts against it round about 5: So the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah 6: And in the fourth month in the ninth day of the month the famine was sore in the city so that there was no bread for the people of the land 7: Then the city was broken up and all the men of war fled and went forth out of the city by night by the way of the gate between the two walls which was by the king's garden Now the Chaldeans were by the city round about and they [those that fled] went by the way of the plain 8: But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after the king and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho and all his army was scattered from him 9: Then they took the king and carried him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath where he passed judgment upon him 10: And the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes he slew also all the princes of Judah in Riblah Jeremiah 21:7-10, 32:4-5, 34:1-6&21, 11: Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah and the king of Babylon bound him in chains and carried him to Babylon and put him in prison till the day of his death[3]

[3] This was completely unnecessary. But even so, the people of Judah were placed in jeopardy and ultimately destroyed because their king, Zedekiah, was cowardly and double-minded Jeremiah 21:1, 27:12-14, 37:16-21, 38:13-20 & 24, . 

He was repeatedly warned to listen to God and to the truth. He was a wishy-washy coward who refused to heed repeated warnings that gave him ample opportunity to save the lives of his children and his people. Because of this, massive death occurred in his land. His sons were murdered in front of him, and he was blinded and imprisoned for the rest of his life.

There are indications that the heavy price he paid for his cowardice and faithlessness finally helped him to place his faith in YHWH, but not in time to avert disaster Jeremiah 32:5.  

That phrase in Jeremiah 32:5, “Until I visit him,” could be a reference to Zedekiah’s final condition of faith after the conquest of his kingdom. 

Another verse seems to confirm that Zedekiah’s imprisonment was likely a comfortable house arrest God said he would die in peace. It is doubtful that a true prison situation could be described as “peace.” After he was conquered, he had also transformed from a cowardly politician into a king beloved of his people.  

His passing was mourned and lamented. But is a tragic fact that the death and devastation of a king and his people could have been avoided altogether if only Zedekiah had possessed enough faith, strength of character, and the courage to obey the Word of the Lord—both the written Word and the verbal and written warnings from Jeremiah, God's true prophet Jeremiah 34:4-6

Contrast Zedekiah's fate (and all of his people) with that of Hezekiah when he was in a similar situation:   "And it came to pass when king Hezekiah heard it (That Assyria was invading), that he rent his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth (humbled himself before God) and went into the house of the LORD...And Hezekiah received the letter (the bad news) by the hand of the messengers and read it and Hezekiah went up into the house of the LORD and spread it before the LORD And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD...(and the LORD said) I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake and for my servant David's sake....And it came to pass that night that the angel of the LORD went out and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand...So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went and returned and dwelt at Nineveh."

Hezekiah and his people survived against impossible odds, because their leader sought wise counsel and turned to the right place (to God) for help.

People of God, pray. Pray like never before. Pray for our pastors and spiritual leaders, for our President, and political leadership at every level, to follow after what is right and good in the sight of God. 

We need shepherds who will tell us the truth, teach us the truth, toss political correctness to the winds, and feed us good food. We need a President who will do the same and fearlessly do what is right by Almighty God and by his people.