On a Tightrope With Plates Doing Algebra

 

I heard this wisdom from a friend a few months ago, she said, “You can hold more than one feeling at a time, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can hold grief and still hold joy. Some days the joy will be larger and others the grief.” That piece of understanding started to make sense but I struggled to actually acknowledge it in my daily life. Then it was said again a few days ago. It became visible and freeing as I hopefully understand it in my mind and heart. “You can hold more than one feeling at once. You can have rage(yes he used the word rage and I thought do I really have rage?) and grief they are real, but you can also have joy and freedom. Some days grief is going be bigger than joy, other days joy is larger, other days it may be an even mix of them all”. I decided all of this was a bit like looking at a complex algebra problem. The answer is Jesus and Jesus empowers me to take heart. I can see the whole algebraic expression. Sometimes one is more focused on one part than the other, but it is all there and all seen, and I can have the same acknowledgment of my emotions. This quote embodied the thought of acknowledging one’s feelings.

There’s no ‘should’ or ‘should not’ when it comes to having feelings.
They’re part of who we are and their origins are beyond our control.
W hen we can believe that, we may find it easier to make constructive choices
about what to do with those feelings. – Mr. Rogers

It is also like being on a tightrope with plates, the plates holding my feelings and thoughts. If Jesus can walk on water, He can help me balance on this tightrope with the sorrow life has handed me.

Take heart because I have overcome the world” In essence Jesus has overcome and helps us take heart and overcome the sorrow from the trouble in this world.

I typed this out on my Kindle over coffee this morning. There is something of solace in coffee and coffeeshops.

 

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Putting The Comp/Egal Debate In Its Place

The gospel is what matters…
And it’s a good possibility that both are “right” and we have different personalities and experiences that make us prefer one or the other. I will say this no one should tell you you must take their stance, that’s problematic. I didn’t even know what these terms were until March of last year, although I knew their practical definitions and the various degrees of the complementarian view. 😄 If I thought I had to be complementarian even of the lightest sort it would make me feel unable to breath, but someone else it may make them feel secure. I certainly think people should not treat their view as the only biblical one. I think there is more protection against abusers with the egalitarian view, at least for me, he would never want a partnership or to come alongside or any of that.

Tim's Blog - Just One Train Wreck After Another

Aimee Byrd and Laura Martin are two of the most thoughtful writers I read. They tackle hard subjects relating to faith and doctrine, family and relationships, culture and society. They have taught me much through their scholarly and yet extremely readable posts.

So I turned to them to help me with something. I wanted to know how they would express their priorities when it comes to gospel and doctrine? Read along for the question I posed and their excellent answers, and enjoy the type of fellowship we should all strive for in the family of God.

***

Good morning Aimee and Laura:

I have an idea for a post about loving Jesus and pursuing good doctrinal understanding of God and his word. You each write well on this and cover a number of doctrinal issues with good solid support; it also just so happens that one of you is complementarian…

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Heartfelt Convictions Part One

There are beliefs in our Christianity that though not the gospel are essential to who we are as a person. They have been and are essential to our spiritual growth, our intellectual honesty, and may have even kept our head above water in a chaotic world.I would say that prayer although not the gospel itself is extremely essential, completely intertwined. I mean how would one even take hold of Jesus without it. While yours or my heartfelt beliefs are not as essential as everyone’s heartfelt belief of prayer they may come close. It’s different for everyone. For you it may be the Eucharist/communion everytime you attend church. It may be adult baptism or infant baptism. It may be only one thing or several. They may be something that comes to  you all at once or gradually. You may have just always known it from day one with your walk with Him, perhaps even before as you were on the outside looking in. It may have been an appealing factor that helped draw you in, kinda like a free meal at church. The free meal certainly isn’t Jesus but there it is, much like the hungry people and the fish and loaves it plays a part in bringing us to Him.

The focused belief in the Holy Spirit as in baptism and asking for His empowerment and filling and His gifts came gradually. At times I tried to formalize it but that is always a bit of a disaster. There was no formula for it, some churches specialize in pushing the Holy Spirit into a box to be worked out in a certain way, come forward or speak in tongues or have more patience and any number of other virtues. While the virtues are fruit of the Spirit and indicate He’s working in us they aren’t  Him any more than the fish and loaves are Jesus. It started from the beginning of course. I wasn’t exactly raised in the church and believe it or not for that I’m thankful because it’s allowed me freedom to discover who He is and not be an echo of someone else’s convictions. My mom started to play piano for a Missionary Alliance church in a little town in Northern Pennsylvania. That made attendance regular for a while. I heard about John chapter three and chapter fifteen one morning when I was ten almost eleven.  I was sitting in the front pew the whole thing to myself. My mom sat at the piano, not playing now, she sat there during sermons too. I also heard about God the Father and when you see Jesus, you’ve seen the Father. That Jesus calls us friends. I heard about sin, I didn’t quite understand that concept because I was a “good” child, but I wanted to understand. I heard about the Holy Spirit, how He is like the wind and we are born of Him. That was my first taste of the Spirit being equal to Jesus and the Father Odd but I think I understood the three in one more than sin at the time; that understanding came gradually over time. I really understood the “I have called you friends…” part. The more friends the better right and there is something appealing about Jesus. I began my walk with Him and my gradual Holy Spirit journey. I read a lot of hard classic works, King Arthur, The Black Arrow, Robin Hood etcetera. I soon read the Bible from front to back, skipping some parts just a little. Unfortunately we moved so bye Missionary Alliance church and Reverend Swanberg and friends from the little town, sad for me.

Skip ahead some years church attendance here and there. My mom played at a Mennonite church that was just as dry as dry. I landed at a Charismatic church. There were problems. I will not get into them all here but mostly it was these things- The healing services were fake of course. I’m not saying God didn’t heal some people but a lot of working up of everything permeated the whole thing.  The speaking in tongues was not used properly who knows what it even was with some people, just crazianity to be sure. The bible was taught in a way that was spun towards elevating a sensationalist view of The Holy Spirit. I quietly experienced the Speaking in tongues at a youth meet. It was me and God, I was never loud about it. Being loud about it seemed wrong to me. Putting it above Jesus seemed wrong. Speaking in Tongues to them proved you were Spirit filled. Some of the people lived how they wanted but said they were filled and better than all those Christians that they thought were not “spirit filled”. This was wrong too since I knew people who followed Jesus closely who did not speak in tongues and didn’t have the same type of experience.  The pastor had an affair consequently a lot of people left. I also left to come back a couple years later to a different building, different pastor and eventually the most wonderful couple as youth pastors. They did a brilliant job tag teaming he taught some, she taught some. They were both available to the kids. I wish all youth groups were taught by a couple there is something about that dynamic, it’s a bit like a family. It’s a good idea. I went through some trouble with dating, a boyfriend that did drugs. I did a couple hits of something but never went down that path. I became slightly too interested in a sort of New Age eastern religion. He was pushy, it was too physical, he was not a believer, and I dumped him. I dated another guy from youth group, that ended in tears and depression for both of us. He blamed it on us being too physical, I blamed it on me only wanting to be friends in the first place. The youth group during this inner and outer turmoil was balancing for me. Downstairs with the adults not so much.  I left the idea of the Holy Spirit behind because of a new boyfriend, I was in love completely. Before he was my finance he used the chaos in adult church and his own bad theology, some fairly extreme fundamentalism  mixed with emotional and spiritual abuse to forbid me to even ask for the Holy Spirit to fill me when I prayed. He forbid me to pray in tongues. He convinced me to leave my church. I was planning to anyway since I was twenty and too old for the youth group, but I wanted to do that differently. I wanted to take the balanced teaching from the youth group with me, praying in tongues as a sort of contemplative prayer with me. My own spiritual journey and walk I wanted to take with me. I left it all behind due to my fiance’s control and sensationalism all that is in another post. Marriage and one kid and several churches and some years later we landed at a non-denominational Free Methodist church, which was sought out having family that was Free Methodist. Some of the people there believed in the Spirit like I used to and the flame started to smolder. Two more kids later we left that church for something closer, and because I was burnt out and my husband was disabled. Things were not good it’s a long story that I’ll write later. My church had a view of the Holy Spirit that was healthy. In the midst of spiritual abuse and other things from my husband  I experienced realizing I needed empowerment so I opened up everything I believed  about the Holy Spirit. I started asking for His  filling, and for the Spirit’s baptism in case I hadn’t experienced that at an earlier time. I prayed in tongues in my prayer time quietly. I read Francis Chan’s book Forgotten  God. Things more chaotic in my home and I did not follow this awareness of the Holy Spirit perfectly, far from it. 

 This is my belief that I’ve held on to and that’s brought me healing in the midst of abuse, separation and sometime soon divorce. I’ve needed the Holy Spirit’s empowerment and comfort. I’ve needed the praying in tongues for edification. Prayer has been a struggle I think contemplative prayer that I’m sure I’ve done in a sense without knowing it will soon be added to my heartfelt beliefs. In case you think I’m practicing a strange thing contemplative prayer is essentially this- Become aware of God’s presence. Review the day with gratitude. Pay attention to your emotions. Choose one feature of the day; one scripture to pray from. Look toward tomorrow.

You certainly don’t have to have the same type of experience or use the same terminology about your experience with the Holy Spirit.  For me it is a heartfelt belief. Part two will be about how I think God views women, that’s another empowering belief that shapes who I am. 

I wrote this on my smartphone because my six year old is watching Lego on the computer.

Rethinking Christianity 

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Rethinking Christianity seemed to be the best, least click bait type of title I could think of. I almost wondered if Christianity Ruined My Life would have been an appropriate title since I was wanting to marry a believer and somehow became blind to the control/abuse my husband was dishing out in the guise of Christianity.   Jesus Isn’t Toxic would have perhaps been a good title also. Perichoresis Is Relationship NOT a Hierarchy  would have been a title to appeal to all my thinking friends.

Say it better, say the Gospel better,  let your life and attitude bear witness of the gospel, blessed are the feet of them that bring good news, that good news is Jesus, not the current or historical crazianity, historical since there is nothing new under the sun. If it seems new it’s simply repackaged. My Experience With Crazianity would have been an appropriate title for sure.

I’ve been taking a hard look at Christianity for over a year. My perspective and world view have changed. Yet in a sense worked back around to the beginning to start again with more wisdom and clarity. A heightened awareness of what is the gospel and what isn’t seems to have overtaken my senses. The gospel isn’t a set of controlling ideas but a person. The circumcision that Paul addresses in Galatians was a controlling idea, practice, they thought they were saved by it and made a saving idol out of it; not merely an idol but one that  saved them. Today it’s a bit tricky this idea or unbendable truth that we put up in place of Jesus doesn’t save oh no who would go that far as to say that, although some do, but it proves our salvation and it makes us better.  We are better if we have this or that idea or practice in our belief. It can be any number of things. A lot of those things can be flipped to an opposite stance, we are better or real Christians because we believe and practice such in such or don’t; it is  a sort of Gnosticism that history repeats.

For almost two decades I thought at least ninty-five percent of divorce was preventable and caused by mere selfishness of both parties. When I  came to the realization that my husband was emotionally/spiritually abusive and that this is far too common in Christian circles, perhaps more common than the circles of the world. I felt completely uprooted. The only reason my husband agreed to go to marriage counseling was because he thought that since our counselor was Presbyterian, PCA to be exact, that he would think I was demon posessed and be my exorcist. Of course the counselor had none of it and saw my husband as spiritually/emotionally abusive. The counselor had me back for individual counseling by the forth visit. My husband forbid me to go back and accused the counselor of “liking” me. I went and clarity of the abuse I was enduring came. No wonder Mark Driscoll makes me flinch. Demon trials anyone! I conclude if some of these popular teachers were my counselor how would that have turned out since I thought, even hoped I was doing something wrong because if it was me I could do my best to fix it once I knew, once a counselor made it clear to me. Finding that my husband was abusive caused  my whole house of cards to be knocked down. What I thought was stable and sure proved to be sand; quicksand and deadly if I would have stayed. Where is God, why couldn’t God fix this, is my faith strong enough or is God able to keep me in spite of my wrecked faith? 

God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.~C.S. LewisA Grief Observed

 It was and is grief to be sure but the grief of a lost marriage is different and perhaps more complicated than the death of a spouse. My husband  was serious in his claims, at least serious in order to control me, that I was demon posessed and that if I didn’t agree God was going to give me over to a reprobate mind and God himself would make me gay. God was also punishing me every time I was tired or sick or having anxiety. The anxiety was caused by living in that toxic environment and went round in circles. The whole relationship from the beginning only after a couple months of dating spun into mostly being able to only connect with religious matters and especially only able to connect by agreement with him on those matters. The other ways to connect always spun back to religion or were overshadowed by religion. It was all dramatic and rather addictive. Now when I see a teaching that resembles control or sensationalism or a lack of reality as in a lack of knowing we must live our lives yes in light of eternity but eternity is also in the now. I notice it with overwhelming clarity. 

With every bit of retrospective thought I can muster I’m seeing it  comes down to I didn’t see the abuse because of words, phrases and avoidance by that person to have the empathy and emotional connection of an image bearer of God as we humans are apt to have much less the connection of a fellow Spirit led believer. I also didn’t see it because I was never properly warned the church is so full of teaching that is not gospel focused nor living in light of what scripture actually teaches, but full of sensationalism, fear and rules. Rules that are like the Galatians beliefs on the necessity of circumcision, repackaged, but just as much a saving idol.  Mis-used Christian words muddy our clarity.  Words that can be spun to have either negative or encouraging meanings depending on the character of the person interpreting them. Mis-use of words by a few as it trickles down to the masses can in some person’s lives mean little since good people mostly don’t think of it much. They are interested in fair play and loving connection with others, but hand those words to a potential sociopath and what do you get a lot of cards he can use. Sin covers all the mis-used words because if you don’t agree with his interpretation that is sin and his interpretation is what God says so you are now sinning against God so sin can be anything when someone is bent on controlling others.

There is sensationalism that is addictive and exciting about toxic religion, lots of which I never fell for. I never fell for reading Harry Potter is evil or trick or treating is evil. The Christian who doesn’t participate in the free candy day is better, more saved, less worldly type of nonsense. I didn’t fall for being a teetototaler for long only a decade, let me be clear it’s perfectly acceptable to obstain from alcohol sometimes even necessary but to think we are better by doing so or not doing so is not the gospel but pride. There are some who feel obstaining for them would make it more appealing and the way they don’t over indulge is by not making it forbidden. This seems to work well across the ocean where alcohol is viewed differently, but this is not where my post is headed.  We have the Holy Spirit to work those things out in us.  My appeal to Christians is say it better. If words are being misused clarify what they don’t mean and if you feel comfortable or not change the wording if applicable. Add explanations to make something more clear. Sometimes even when I know the phrase is meant in the best possible way it still brings discomfort or even a sense of panic because he would use the same phrase or verse in a harmful way. 
 Whenever Jesus is seen as less than in the Trinity  there tends to be problems.  I remember my ex going through a phase where he said Jesus was a created being. God created by God. He dropped that eventually, but yet God the father was always put on this pedestal of distance from Jesus. Jesus seemed to be this subservient victim, a whipping boy that God the angry father pours out his wrath on and not only on Jesus but on us if we don’t stay in line. Not staying in line causes the whole whipping boy thing not to work out for us. Unfortunately the line was my ex’s interpretations especially his interpretation  regarding the Holy Spirit. All of that is explained in this post https://christianity9968.wordpress.com/2016/11/19/marriage-train-wreck-1/?preview=true and the defensive hope post. Of couse some people flip this to the other end of the spectrum and go into complete crazianity and the  Holy Spirit is the  one put on a pedestal above but that’s a whole other thing that I’m not covering here.  These ideas make the trinity split. Where is the divine dance of relationship. The holy conspiracy of the Father and the Son to save the world. The Trinity is about relationship not hierarchy, marriage is also about relationship not hierarchy. My ex having no bias against female pastors, rather for them actually, was able to assert himself between me and God with the idea of hiarchy and control of the husband over the  wife in marraige and this full on assault of my thinking by repeating the same ideas over and over, mind control almost. I detest the umbrella meme with the husband over. Don’t put my Jesus behind the veil of someone’s umbrella please. He rent the veil and there it stays. I seriously think i have a good point in strongly disliking the umbrella meme. The strongest point being that there is one mediator between God and humanity that is Jesus.   I couldn’t see through his spiritual abuse of me since he was after all fine with women leading in a church setting. It provided a bit of a smoke screen for him. This is why I flinch at the new Calvanism idea of the eternal subordination of the Son and that being used as an agenda to keep women in a place, in a box, with men between them and God.  I distrust when the Trinity is put in a different light than relationship, than perichoresis. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perichoresis

 I’ve always seen a woman’s place to be in the midst of where God’s working. I always knew that those verses in Timothy and Corinthians  were addressed to women who were teaching crazianity not you or I and could have been just as easily addressed to men. One doesn’t have to dig deep to prove the scripture is teaching against abusive control in those verses it’s self evident when lined up with the rest of scripture although I certainly encourage you to dig into the first century and into the freedom women and all humanity has in Christ. 

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2017/07/31/learning-female-pastor/

When a prominent teacher says men must be careful and not learn too much from books by women I gag and think of all C.S. Lewis learned and enjoyed reading by Dorathy Sayers and all his correspondence in letters with women such as Sister Penelope and Ruth Pitter and the list goes on. Here is a man, a person for at least most of his life maybe all of it who did not believe women should be priests but that was not taken into a crazianity position. I realize I have to agree to disagree with my Catholic and Orthodox and some branches of protestant friends on this matter of women priests/pastors and that is not what this article is about exactly a little bit but not exactly.  To silence a woman’s voice, even her writing is an assault to her personhood. It’s wrong to silence people by refusing to learn too much from them. 

For a teacher to invalidate a women’s voice as if she matters not stirs feelings and thoughts in me that say “I am not truly loved by half the Christian community simply because I am a woman. My ex invalidated me and now I’ve learned this invalidation of women is at an organized church level, this is disheartening.”

 God created man and woman a living soul our personhood matters. I trust no teachers who do not make a rabbit trail to explain what commonly mis-used scriptures  mean in context of God’s love and character. Do l get triggered by this misuse of scripture yes, but thankfully my pastor has had nuance and understanding. I’m not certain why some people have understanding and some don’t but one thing is certain more is needed. This next linked article moved me. Some of my feelings are the same yet for a large part I have found church healing  and because of that I have to wonder how much knowledge of abuse and understanding about it this woman’s pastor had. Even so I struggle there are times I’ve showed up when it was the hardest thing to do. I admit a lot of those times I simply showed up because I wanted my kids to be in church that morning. I doubt that TGC in the states would publish this, I’m glad at least Australia is waking up.

https://australia.thegospelcoalition.org/article/things-i-wish-you-understood-an-open-letter-to-ministers-from-a-family-violence-survivor

There is a difference that is noticeable between a Christianity that follows Jesus and the (c)hristianity that is rift with rules, roles, fear and sensationalism. Let us know the difference. 

I want to apologize to my co-pastor for writing this during his teaching on Amos. I was listening in spite of typing. 🙂

A Senior Devil, Mere Faith, and Beginning My Life in Christ

C.S. Lewis is the Christian who taught me to think instead of telling me what to think.

Tim's Blog - Just One Train Wreck After Another

[This first appeared two years ago as a guest post I wrote for Jennifer Neyhart’s blog.]

Is it cliché to say that C.S. Lewis had a formative influence on my understanding of what it means to belong to Jesus? Not that it matters if it is cliché.

It’s true.

An Atheist Reads a Devil’s Letters

The Screwtape Letters came to me as a gift, both literally and figuratively. I was an atheist traveling around England on Christmas break in 1983 and a couple of young Christian women I met thought I might like Lewis’ epistolary novel of temptation and faith.

I did.

Screwtape advised his nephew Wormwood how to capitalize on his target’s petty jealousies of others.

I recognized petty jealousies in my own life.

Screwtape spoke of leveraging the target’s smug self-satisfaction.

I recognized smug self-satisfaction in my own life.

Screwtape spoke of building on the resentment the target had toward those…

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What Can We Learn from Cornelius Sulla?

Even though I wasn’t exactly raised in the church and most churches I later attended were Nazarene, Free Methodist and the like the harsh teaching towards women creeped in. Some of the creeping in came from popular Christian books and teachings. This teaching caused some blindness about abuse. It affected my confidence to be myself. It even affected my self-esteem, and how I viewed other women. My self-esteem has improved and I didn’t even know it needed to. How I view other women has improved I see them as strong and capable; I knew I was but I thought I was strange to be so capable.

Apostle's Warning

Cornelius Sulla was a Roman General that fought wars against a King named Mithridates in Asia Minor in the 1st century BC, just before the New Testament time period. In these wars, the followers of Mithridates did some pretty horrendous things to Romans. In the city of Tralles, Romans were dismembered and killed in a local temple. Those responsible were called “authentai.”[1] Mithridates ordered the “slaughter” of Romans. The Greek verb used to describe this order was “authentesonta.”[2] Students of New Testament Greek are likely aware that Paul used a form of the same word in 1 Timothy 2:12; he used “authentein.”

When the wars against Mithridates were over, and Rome had prevailed, Cornelius Sulla became a Consul in Asia Minor. He enacted legislation to punish violent crimes against Roman citizens. He especially prohibited violence against Romans that was carried out in a religious context.

Anatolians had some religious…

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My Brief Experience With “Accountability”

This is going to be long…

I had coffee with a friend, I said some things about how things had not worked out with my marriage, but God has that and He is my all in all and I’m trying to heal.

She talked about what she was doing in short term missions and the like.  I told her my heart how I had some false guilt over my daughter because I had gotten her some vaccines and I was afraid maybe my daughter’s autism was my fault. I was in mid sentence when she interrupted me and said. “I know we are only talking surface here, you are not talking about your heart.” I thought like a yell in my head,  “My heart is on this table right now in bite sized pieces because of false guilt and speculation about a few vaccines and I’m pouring out here and talking about my child who is in essence my heart… what in the world.” She went on “I remember what you said a few months ago about a PennDOT man being good looking that you saw working.” I laughed, thinking “She’s  been carrying that one sentence I said around for months and apparently forgot the rest of what I said after that one sentence.” I tried to say something deep even though it was not deep to me, I just happen to notice if a person holding a stop sign looks like Thor, personally I like the way Jamie Oliver looks better.  “Yeah I feel sometimes since things fell apart am I single or am I not and noticing someone was attractive reminded me of the question, am I single. I’m so busy with my kiddos and healing from this whole thing that it’s not really something I have time for, I’m definitely not looking for a relationship.” She said, “We need to get to the heart of this, women lust too, is there lust in your life.” I’m setting there confused because after all I’m human and perfectly normal. “Well I do think sometimes some guys are attractive, but that’s normal, I’m raising my kids, I like guys of course but I’m always relieved if they are unavailable because I don’t need that now, I’m trying to heal and find myself.” She asked  “What do you mean you are relieved , what makes you relieved?”

I’m beginning to feel interrogated at this point. “Well you know if someone’s married or young or old it’s good because  I can talk to them and not feel too terribly awkward because I’m not looking for a realationship, example,  like sometimes some of my Facebook friends  into C. S. Lewis message me that’s always nice.” “Men messaged you on Facebook”? She asked. “Yes, they  have a life it was C. S. lewis stuff, absolutely nothing. I would not take anyone’s time excessively that would be wrong. It was a few times with life questions that’s all. Seriously I’m not looking for a realationship with a guy, they were kinda young in their twenties”. She said”Sometimes a woman can lust or have a crush on a young guy”… she went on about lust a little bit and how she struggles with it and has crushes so she understands. I’m was sitting there thinking “This is unbelievable what is she doing, this is accusing and negative.”  I awkwardly said “There’s different kinds of crushes you know. I have no interest, I’m busy with kids and drawing closer to Jesus, I mean, I like guys they are people too, I grew up playing with the boys.” I thought,  “Therefore I see them as people not objects so what is she getting at?”  “What about your neighbor?” She asked. I laugh “Oh him, yeah he’s asked me out for a drink about six times, of course I say no because he obviously tries to hit on me. The great thing is I’m no more attracted to him than I am you. He’s married, no way, plus technically I’m married so there’s that, plus he’s a bit of a turn off at this point.” She says “Don’t talk to him. Do you talk to him?” Me- “I came home Sunday evening and he was on the edge of his yard so of course I talked to him, it was funny, we talked a little about what not and as I’m walking away he asked me out for drinks. He’ll never learn it’s  hysterical.”She questioned further “Does his wife know? ” Me- “Yeah I mentioned it to her, I avoid them, I’m nice but I distance myself a bit” She says “I think he’s trying to wear you down”. “There is nothing to wear down that is ridiculous  and even if I liked him that way I would not.” I retorted, offended at this point. She went on “I think you should talk to our pastor and his wife about lust and guys” I laughed out loud, “Nooo, hoho, I grew up playing with the boys, I’m attracted of course that’s normal, but I don’t consider that lust, obsessive thinking would be that, naturally during these questions  I’m overly  introspective and wondering if I’ve managed to nip all thoughts properly, and I’m not looking for a realationship if sometime years in the future I develope a friendship and after I become technically available and it’s turning into  something and I feel the need I might talk to them.” She said “I’m afraid someone will come and just sweep you of your feet romantically so you should talk to them before hand, before that happens.” It is getting ridiculous and pushy at this point, “Oh no I’m a careful person, I’m healing I’m trying to get over things I’m not jumping into anything, I’m raising kids.” I got up to leave and lightly said, “Haha since we have had this conversation/ interrogation I’ll probably meet someone.”

I went to Martin’s to pick up a few groceries and received a text from her… “I think I misunderstood you as you left. I thought u meant u would get together with another woman friend but u meant meet someone?  God will guide you as you seek Him first in all things.”

I than had to text back saying no I was not meeting a guy… at this point I thought, “Even if I was this is damned controlling you narcissistic nut job”, but I brushed it all off with a humorous text back and explained clearly no, not meeting a guy.

The worst thing about the whole  experience was that it gave me anxiety. It triggered feelings and emotions of when my husband would accuse me of meeting up with guys and not want me to go anywhere. More than that it acutely reminded me of how he would manipulate me spiritually and emotionally.

This is not my first confusion with her, she’s run me in circles before saying… and misunderstanding. If I try to further explain myself a crazy circle will start again and it will be negative and I will feel drained.

I’m done, been done almost a year, she might possibly  mean well but I’m done. I felt drained and it was negative and weird. When I told her about my feelings over the conversation/interrogation  she at one point retorted after apologizing profusely that she never said that I was looking for a relationship. My thought was and I didn’t voice it out loud “So you were just accusing me of plain old lust, how nice.”

Thinking About Prayer

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I ran into the quote by George MacDonald and later the one by C.S. Lewis and lastly A.W. Tozer’s and it struck the core of me. Then I reflected and realized my pastor had also mentioned the congregation gathering for prayer soon. The combination of those four things got me thinking.

There is quite often this nudge, this draw to pray or to praise and sometimes I do. Prayer is much easier when I’m with other believers, there is His overwhelming presence and I’m drawn in despite myself. By myself it’s not so easy more than half the time in the stillness of the morning, or the quietness of late evening I don’t. I think to myself in the very heart of me “but He didn’t answer. Not only didn’t He answer but I feel set up, like He knew He wasn’t going to answer the way I needed the way everyone involved needed.”

 “’Knock and [the door] shall be opened.’ But does knocking mean hammering and kicking the door like a maniac? And there’s also ‘To him that hath shall be given.’ After all, you must have a capacity to receive, or even omnipotence can’t give. Perhaps your own passion temporarily destroys the capacity.” (C.S.Lewis, A Grief Observed, Chapter 3)
Sometimes when I feel the nudge to pray I say in my mind, “But You didn’t, so no thank you, forget it I’m not coming near in prayer not after You didn’t answer.  I’m not coming near with the prayer that doesn’t request anything and only wants to be in Your presence. I don’t feel like it now since You didn’t pour out what I so desperately needed.  I’m certainly not making any requests only to be devastatingly disappointed and then to be angry in that disappointment.”

I prefer thinking to praying, but surely there is thinking prayer and a place where one can turn one’s thoughts into a sort of prayer.

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I wonder what would happen on the inside of me if I would just let go and pray or praise when He beckons me. I know He has sustained and strengthened me. He has overwhelmingly went before me and given peace and a way through some bad circumstances and the subsequent pain, anxiety and almost hopelessness.    Maybe the letting go and dropping into prayer is  gradual,  maybe it will come almost all at once. This I know He has grace for me.

Intoxicated Delphi Priestesses 

Priestess of Delphi

This post has been simmering inside for a year, ever since I found out a good portion of denominations and affiliations of  Christian movements  do not have women pastors. I had made the assumption most were like Free Methodist or Anglican in relation to women in ministry. Oh, and it does not stop there, there are all sorts of limitations on women in varying degrees. Of course if your missionary plane goes down and your missionary husband is dead than you can essentially pastor people in a very dangerous setting, other than that, no go. If that happens it’s not called being a Pastor it’s called being a missionary.  You may preach a sermon to enraged murderous people in an other country before you are martyred but not here to relatively safe people in the States. Of course that sermon would be called a proclamation or testimony  instead. I understand there is a bit of difference between teaching and testimony but most testimonies contain some teaching, some more than others, and we learn from all testimonies. If you learn you are being taught.   The whole terminology thing does not line up. I’ve heard women can preach but not teach. The synonym of preach is teach, go figure. Like I said, all these varying invisible lines of what women can and cannot do.

I believe the Holy Spirit is raising up women who are walking as Jesus walked. Who are not out there on a rampage against the essential teachings of the Church. They in a sense are like Mary because they are a vessel giving birth to Jesus into the lives of others. There are denominations and affiliations that are sound and have the heart of Jesus. Some of them may believe in the gifts of the Spirit, not in a crazy way, not in an exploitative way but in a way that benefits the believer and the whole church. For an example on the exploitative and crazy watch most of whats on  TBN. In many churches there are called women. It is in my heart that the leadership in these churches would open up and be willing to fill some available positions with women who are called to pastor. Some have already such as the Anglican and Free Methodist.  Free Methodist always has, it was started on freedom and equality for women and African Americans.  There is one mediator between God and us and that is Jesus. Jesus is just as much in a woman as in a man. A woman represents Jesus in her words and actions just as much as a man does. The person teaching does not have to be male just because Jesus is male because He is our mediator, not our pastor, not our priest.  I have my own research besides common sense on why it is biblical and good for women to be pastors. Some of my historical  source is Zodhiates. There is Paul’s attitude in Philippians 4:1-3, it is exemplary where he appeals, urges Euodia and Syntyche, he call’s them his co-workers. In Romans 16 You have Phoebe, Paul gives her a little section there that is beautiful. There is Priscilla and Aquila, her name is first. Certainly the church in their home was being largely or at least equally  led by her. A church is a mixed group nothing else makes sense for that. I love the way scripture says their home, but the church, the church is Christ’s not the leader’s. Plus their home puts Priscilla and Aquila on even footing it’s not his home but their home. The N. T. Wright video below gets into Romans sixteen more. In the gospels Jesus did not want us lording it over one another so what Paul says in 1st Timothy 2:12 is applicable to men who teach also. 1st Timothy 2:11-15 all of those verses were a rebuke to a woman and certain other women who were lording it over. Paul was also correcting Gnosticism at Ephesus.  The word to teach in the Greek is to constantly teach in a know it all manner. I think Paul was concerned because when you hear something over and over it sounds like the truth and this particular woman and other particular women were teaching a Gnostic falsehood. Have authority over this Greek word is only used once in the New Testament and means absolute sway over another. This woman  was doing what Jesus didn’t want anyone to do even with the truth let alone falsehood. Paul would have said the same thing to a man if that would have been the case. The classic Greek for this have authority over is even more extreme meaning absolute authority to the point of murder. Paul was obviously talking about a certain woman and some other women like her.  The women needed exhorted because of a belief that Artimis would help them in childbirth IF they were having children. Some were holding to a Gnostic asceticism. Therefore Paul wanted the women of Ephesus to know that getting married, having sex, having children would not jeopardize their salvation as some ascetics taught. Having children is morally pure Paul wanted them to know that. In today’s Christianity in the States Paul might say having a quiver-full is not necessary for your salvation; to not make a saving idol out of having children. The wording might be a little sloppy Greek to English or it could be because the recipients knew what Paul wanted to say but we don’t not being in their shoes, therefore it seems like Paul is saying women are saved by having children, however one knows this certainly doesn’t line up with the rest of scripture. Paul was speaking against the asceticism of not getting married and having children that women were practicing to obtain salvation. Remember the church was going through thinking circumcision was necessary for salvation, see the book of Galatians. Paul had two types of Gnostics here in Ephesus, one taught licentiousness and the other asceticism, Paul had to deal with both. He wasn’t telling good women not to lead, he was talking to some  women who were trying to lead the men and other women into a cult. Paul was not talking about the introverted shy women, who have truth in their hearts, he’d tell them to speak up. He wasn’t talking about the extroverts and everyone in between because, Priscilla obviously. In today’s world at your little church he may be talking about the woman who shows up and shouts out loud “prophecies” and distracts everyone and gets on their nerves.  In First Corinthians 14:34 we find the other confusing exhortation, but again it is to certain women in Corinth who were part of a cult in Delphi. The priestesses of this cult became intoxicated off of a drug and would utter incoherent sounds. I think also Paul wanted to clarify there was a difference between the Holy Spirit’s gift of tongues and that. No wonder he told them to be quiet. People who do not want women have full ministry opportunity in the Church proof-text with these verses from 1st Timothy and 1st Corinthians, instead of interpreting in the light of all scripture, in the light of the individuals he was writing to, history, backgrounds of the cults and religions of the day.

Note this when watching N. T. Wright below one could say the apostle Junia in Romans sixteen was a man and there would still be biblical support for women as pastors so I never included her in my own research. I understood the biblical basis for woman in ministry before hearing Wright so he just gave affirmation. He has other longer more in depth videos, but this one is short to the point and reasonable.

For those denominations and affiliations who will not support  woman pastors being among them, I understand some of the more traditional churches this would be a hard go. I have reason to believe with the Orthodox Church it’s the women’s menstrual period, they derive that from something in the Old Testament that I’m not bothering to look up. But I see Jesus born of Mary all the blood and mess of His birth, it’s holy, all of that is clean.   Women should be able to be everything in a more complementarian or traditional church except for Pastors or Priests, free them up as much as your tradition allows.  If they also can not be elders, they should be deaconesses. They should be visibly proclaiming, teaching, preaching in mixed groups and filling in. Not all women want to or can do things in the church, but all woman feel honored, understood and heard if there is visible representation. We should not have to wait for a woman to give her testimony, to hear a woman teach. Sorry, giving a testimony is teaching, that terminology again! For the type of church where women are not pastors or elders, but they are not subordinate, it is complimentarian without subordination. That is not something I agree with but at least it’s a biblical opinion. It is also an opinion of language where the words Pastor and elder is seen as masculine nouns, but surely there are feminine nouns for similar positions. We need leading women to be visible to other women because not all are going to come to woman’s bible studies to connect and hear teaching. If I need to talk to someone I don’t mind going to and talking to anyone regardless of whether they are a man or woman, we are all people. Yet not every woman feels this way. It’s essential other women can connect  by seeing and hearing women preach, lead worship or whatever. We should not have to always go to “a women only thing” to see that. I believe it builds respect and honour in the men towards women also. Good woman are not taking authority over men, I covered that in the second paragraph. If we used those verses in 1st Timothy 2 and 1st Corinthians 14 to also check men who are false teachers and lording it over, the Church would be healthier. These verses are not about women they are about false teachers who are repetitive with their words to brainwash others. It just happened to be that the ones Paul was speaking to via letters were women and wives.   There should also be a respect and honor to cross denominational lines and work with churches who have  women pastors.  There should not be this invisible line where  woman are afraid. I covered that here The Patriarchal does not Allow A Women to be a Berean .

In defense of sanity among denominations that have not gone off the rails women in leadership is a way to multiply disciples. If a perfectly grounded woman with wisdom, experience and calling wants to pastor somewhere or plant a church, encourage her. If you are still not open to women pastors, say “Go over there, that church is open to it”. Acknowledge that a good part, up to half of the church planters and pastors in China are women. It’s already being done by the Holy Spirit there. Go ahead and let the churches who are teaching negativity and strangeness such as that of Mark Driscoll (those verses in 1st Corinthians 14:34 apply to someone like him and his demon trials and odd teaching) Let those churches not have woman do anything in a visible way. Let them be told not to read scripture publicly, let them be told they can’t lead worship, although Mark Driscoll was open to those things and I heard even let women preach, the Calvanista’s in general are not. Mark had other issues you can look up elsewhere. Why should we as  Jesus loving churches embrace views that come from (t)heologian Doug Wilson. He said that Jen Wilkin’s views on women’s roles would lead to trouble. I can’t imagine what he would think of mine!  John Piper was concerned men would find themselves being shepherded by  women’s books, no Catholic, no Orthodox, no Methodist, no Pentecostal, no one would even think of that.  Who cares, it is Jesus who is shepherding. Paul never listed being a woman who leads and teaches a mixed group in a church setting as a sin “… nor theives, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor women pastors, nor women teachers of anyone listening…” oops I added that for effect.  We should not resemble Patriarchy at all. We wonder why some of the women’s teaching written by women in those churches can be a bit off, it’s because it is all off. If the women in those churches want freedom and soundness they can come to the churches that are teaching truth and have spiritual fruit. Who are not quenching the Spirit by not allowing women to lead when He calls them. So I see it as an opportunity to multiply and good men are probably sick of patriarchy  too.

Our Christian beliefs are on a spectrum in the centre there is a narrow but fairly wide balance beam, this is the path of reason, logic nuance. Unlike an actual balance beam if you get off a little it’s not bad, there is grace for that. If you get way over however your Christianity becomes something else: legalism, harsh determinism, name and claim, patriarchy,  odd demonology and just craziness. So check yourself before you wreck yourself.  There is room on that path for different thinking, opinion, and personality. God can use us better if we are not all the same. It could be that a sort of complementarianism, the kind that’s not teaching subordination, is fitting for some churches and personalities but it’s not the gospel and it should not become patriarchal. Sometimes it is what we are used to that becomes comfortable and feels like a part of our personality so make sure you are not just comfortable.  Egalitarian, that can also go off into something that is not biblical, nor is Egalitarianism the gospel. Sorry but I’m not going to call Father God, Mother and I could go on except I’m not as familiar with run amok feminism and egalitarianism, but some of you are. I  became too familiar with patriarchy from other Christians, and books accidentally read, and teaching accidentally listened to more than from my own church leaders. I was shocked to find it was in  churches also.  Just stay balanced no matter your opinion.

I understand there are many ways women lead and influence besides ministry in the church. I get that mothering and music and the arts and any number of things may be what a lot of women are called to. At least for a season of time, but that doesn’t negate what God is wanting some women to be and do in our churches. Like I said it touches our hearts to be represented even if we ourselves do not have the same calling.

Paul entrusted Phoebe with the letter of Romans.I think if Phoebe would have had the opportunity to plant a church on her return trip she would have and Paul certainly would not have stopped her by saying “Phoebe don’t plant that church!”. You have the book of Romans partially  because of her, yet Tim Challies would not allow her to read it publicly in a church setting.   Maybe she did plant a church you never know.

*Artist John Collier Priestess of Delphi