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The following excerpt from When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough has been running through my mind all morning, soooo I decided to share it. Here it is:

“I want them [my sisters in Christ] to be who they were created to be, to be free to operate in their spiritual gifts, and to fulfill the purpose for which they were created and designed to fulfill. I want the Church to not only give them permission to pursue their calling, but to also actively encourage and support them in doing so. I want the Church to tell them they are on equal footing with men and don’t need to fit themselves into prescribed roles.

Needless to say, we have a long way to go to make this happen. There are a lot of battles which will need to be fought and many streams in which individuals will need to swim upstream. Much conflict and controversy will follow. Whoever chooses to fight these battles or swim up these streams will need to be ready and willing to face a torrent of opposition. It will take people who have the determination of James Madison, the visionary leadership of Elizabeth Stanton, the dedication of Susan B. Anthony, the perseverance of Martin Luther King Jr., the amazing selflessness of the Freedom Riders, and the passion of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Most of all though, it will take people whose hearts have been changed by Christ.”

If anyone is interested in reading more, here’s the link to purchase the book: https://www.amazon.com/When-Going-Flow-Enough-Upstream/dp/1625860714/

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On the recommendation of a friend I submitted a proposal to be a presenter at the Maryland Counseling Association’s annual conference in November. The proposal was accepted. The title of my presentation is “The Intersection of Gender Equality, Mental Health and the Church”. The presentation will include content from When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough and When Therapy Isn’t Enough.

 

The following excerpt from When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough has been on my mind a lot the last several days. I don’t know why. Maybe someone needs to read it, so I decided to share it. Here it is:

When an individual gives his or her life to God, that individual becomes part of God’s family. The Holy Spirit then comes to live inside that believer and endows him or her with spiritual gifts. A spiritual gift is an ability or talent that is given to an individual by God when he or she becomes part of God’s family. The Apostle Paul discussed spiritual gifts in his letter to the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians), his letter to the church in Rome (Romans 12), and his letter to the church in Ephesus (Ephesians 4).

 Important Point: There is no reference in any of Paul’s letters to gifts being distributed according to gender.

As I walked with Jesus I gradually came to the realization that I had been given the spiritual gift of leadership… As I tried to live out the purpose God had called me to, using the gifts he gave me, I ran into intense opposition. I crashed right into the stained glass ceiling. I was told that I was controlling (a bad thing) and that I was too strong of a leader (another bad thing)…I studied the difference between controlling and leading. I studied the difference between leading and managing.  I studied the difference between anointing and ordination. I read books on gender equality in the Church, and I studied the lives of women in the bible. As a result of all this I came to the unshakable conclusion that God is color blind and gender blind. He does not distribute gifts and assign purposes based on race or gender.

… as we grow into the people God created us to be, we become comfortable in our own skin. When we are comfortable in our own skin, we are able to unreservedly allow the people around us to be comfortable in their skin, to be who they are, who God created them to be. When we are not comfortable in our own skin, we often try to control our external circumstances and the people in our life in an effort to achieve that comfort. In her book Men and Women in the Church, Sarah Sumner, a noted author, international speaker, and dean of A. W. Tozer Theological Seminary, describes a time when she was impacted by people around her who were not comfortable in their own skins. “When I was a student at Trinity, one of my professors called me into his office and said to me in a warm, fatherly tone, ‘Sarah, do not show the full color of your plume; it will intimidate the men.’ She further stated ‘… every Christian woman is told not to lead too much.’”[i]

As I look back at the times I was told I was too strong of a leader and think about the people who told me this, I now understand that they were not comfortable in their own skins. If they were, they would not have been so threatened by me growing into the person and the leader God had anointed me to be.

[i] Sarah Sumner, Men And Women In The Church (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003) pp. 26-27

I am currently reading American Gospel by Jon Meacham. The following excerpt grabbed me, speaking to me very loudly. I am sharing it with you because I am hoping that it speaks to some of you as well. Here it is:

“What is essential–and what has long been part of religious intellectual traditions–is to draw not only on scripture but on reason and experience when contemplating the nature and problems of the world. In the seventeenth-century battle between the Catholic hierarchy and Galileo over whether the earth revolved around the sun or vice versa, it was Galileo–a Christian–who understood better than his persecutors how to reconcile apparent contradictions between faith and science. ‘If Scripture cannot err,’ he said, ‘certain of its interpreters and commentators can and do so in many ways.’ In other words, if reason leads humankind to discover a truth that seems to be incompatible with the Bible, then the interpretation of scripture should give way to the rational conclusion. In this Galileo was echoing Augustine, who wrote, ‘If it happens that the authority of Sacred Scripture is set in opposition to clear and certain reasoning, this must mean that the person who interprets scripture does not understand it correctly.’ … Augustine’s work enables thinking Christians to take advantage of scientific and social advances without surrendering the authority of revelation. Guided by these lights, believers have (however slowly) removed the biblical support for the ideas that the earth, not the sun, is the physical center of the universe, that women are property–and that slavery is divinely sanctioned. The lesson is that purely religious arguments may not be sufficient to get us to the right result. The faithful should see that God meant for them to use reason as well as revelation as they make their way through the world.”

If you are experiencing difficulty discovering or living your purpose, I encourage you to work a Christ-centered 12-Step recovery program. You very well may have hurts, habits or hang-ups that are impeding you from discovering and/or living your God-anointed purpose.

You may believe that you only have to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior for your life to be complete and satisfying. The proclamation that “I am a born again Christian, my past is washed clean, I am a new creature, and Christ has totally changed me” is true. Our Spirits are born again. Our flesh, however, is holding on to a lifetime of hurts, habits and hang-ups. The likelihood that you have no behaviors, thoughts or attitudes that need to be changed and/or wounds that need to be healed is small to nonexistent. I believe that it is impossible for anyone to grow to adulthood without accruing some hurts along the way and developing some destructive habits or hang-ups.

To over-spiritualize the initial work of salvation may be to deny the actual condition of our lives. Giving our life to God, accepting his free gift of forgiveness and entering into a personal relationship with him is step three. Taking this step assures you that you will spend eternity with him in heaven. You can stop there. Many people do. If you want to live a life of abundance marked by internal peace, joy and fulfillment, however, you need to work the additional nine steps. Working these steps is what improves the quality of your life on earth and increases the possibility of your doing what you were created and shaped to do: making your unique contribution to the body of Christ.

another excerpt from manuscript I’m currently working on:

As the discrepancies between Roman Catholic doctrine and Scripture became clearer and clearer to me, I became very angry at the Catholic Church. I was angry at them for teaching me and countless others a distorted gospel—a gospel that leads to fear, anxiety, and shame rather than peace, joy and love. My anger at the Catholic Church simmered under the surface for years and would flare up when I would attend a Catholic Mass or observe other Catholic rituals or ceremonies. As my family of origin were still practicing Catholics, all family weddings and funerals were held in Catholic churches. Each of those events became times of much internal struggle for me. At times I was able to hold my anger in check, at other times I was not able to do so.

It eventually became clear to me that I needed to make peace with the Catholic Church if I was to grow in faith and truly walk the walk. With God’s help, I was able to accomplish this by learning to see the cup as half full rather than half empty. I began to look with appreciation at what the Church did do, rather than look with anger at what they didn’t do. What the Catholic Church did do is: teach me that God exists; that he made me; and that spiritual matters are important. The Church also instilled in me a belief that church is where one develops good morals. If it were not for the second lesson, I would never have brought my children to church and I would never have been led into a relationship with the real God.

I am now at a place in my faith journey where I am grateful to the Catholic Church for what they did teach me. Though anger at the Church still rears its ugly head from time to time, it is quickly replaced with a deep sadness for the multitude of faithful Catholics who do not know the joy and peace of resting in the certainty of their salvation and the unconditional love of their heavenly Father. At the same time, I am extremely grateful to God for leading me away from the Church and teaching me that it is not about religion, it’s about relationship.

Excerpt from manuscript I’m working on:

Throughout my childhood and adolescence the emotional lessons I was learning at home were paralleled by the spiritual lessons I was learning in church (Catholic) and in school (Catholic). While I was learning at home that I had to earn my parents’ love and acceptance by what I did, I was learning in church and in school that I also had to earn my way into heaven. Church and school were virtually interchangeable. We would frequently attend Mass during the school day, and religion was part of the curriculum.

I learned that my salvation was dependent on what I did (good works) not on what Christ did for me. I learned a very complex system of checks and balances in which certain types and amounts of good works and penance made up for certain sins, and sins were divided into categories of venial and mortal. I learned that if I died with mortal sins on my soul that I had not sufficiently made up for with good works and penance, then I would spend time suffering in purgatory to purge my soul of these sins. The amount of time I would spend in purgatory would depend on where I was in this check-and-balance system regarding sins and good deeds at the time of my death. This greatly increased my anxiety and contributed significantly to my sense of not being able to measure up no matter what I did. Due to this I was not only afraid of life on earth, I was also afraid of life in the hereafter.

My picture of God was of a very cold, distant, critical God who didn’t care about how I felt or what I needed, and who had very high expectations of me, so high it was doubtful I would ever reach them, and he wouldn’t love me or welcome me home unless I achieved them. He certainly was not someone I could trust or depend on. He was someone to be afraid of and stay away from.

During my early adulthood, I drifted away from church and away from God.

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