purpose


Excerpts from When Doing Isn’t Enough:

Waiting is not popular in our modern society. Immediate gratification is popular. We want what we want now, and we do everything possible to get whatever it is we want now and avoid waiting. Sometimes waiting is unavoidable though and we have no choice but to wait… God appears to like waiting and seems to require it of anyone who will be used by him, particularly those who will be used in a significant way.

Waiting on God means that you are willing to look to God for guidance and direction, and are willing to abide by his timing regarding the events in your life. It means accepting that God knows better than you do what is in your best interest. It means putting God in the driver’s seat of your life. Waiting on God requires surrendering to him.

In light of all of this though, waiting on God is not passive waiting. It is not helpless waiting. It is not unproductive waiting. Waiting on God is active waiting. Waiting on God requires a conscious decision to trust God and wait on him no matter what, to not let fear run your life and to live by faith, putting one foot in front of the other even when you can’t see the path.

Waiting on God also requires a clear understanding of what I can do and what I cannot do, what I have control over and what I do not have control over. God will not do for us what we can do for ourselves. We need to do what we can do, and leave to God the things we cannot do.

If one is to willingly agree to wait on God one first has to know God, the real God not a distorted image of God. The real God is love. He doesn’t have love. He doesn’t show love. He is love. It’s his character.

Trust is inherent in waiting. It’s easy to trust God when everything is going well for us, when our life circumstances and situations are in our favor. It’s not so easy to trust him when life seems to turn against us.

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I am currently reading Lisa Bevere’s book Lioness Arising. The following excerpt particularly caught my attention: “Consider the word submission for a moment. What comes to mind? Probably Ephesians 5:22, about wives submitting to their husbands. Interestingly, many Christians have taken this verse and created an extreme and limiting definition for the word. I believe the word submission has been distorted beyond God’s intent for it. Many Christian women have believed their primary value lies in their ability to serve men. They have not realized that speaking in the church, respectfully voicing their opinions, or taking on the responsibility of a leadership role is serving. I heard a definition of submission that framed and aligned it with God’s plan for all Christians…Consider this: the prefix sub means under, and mission is an assignment.”

According to this definition then, submission means under assignment. I take this to mean assignment from God. Therefore, to live in submission means to be obedient to your assignment or purpose or calling from God.

Political and social movements which have changed the course of human history have always been orchestrated by individuals with a clear vision, a consuming passion, the courage to swim upstream against the status quo, the willingness to deal with the consequences of swimming upstream, and the perseverance to keep going no matter what.

Though tremendous legislative strides have been made regarding both racial and gender equality, it is sad but true to acknowledge that racism and sexism still exist. They exist because “isms” are not legal conditions, they are heart conditions and legislation does not change hearts. Civil rights legislation taught us that. I believe that if sexism and racism are to truly come to an end, hearts need to change in a way that leaves people color-blind and gender-blind, seeing each other as equal—different yet equal.

My newest book, When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough, Swim Upstream, discusses how the Christian Church has contributed to maintaining gender inequality in the U.S. Throughout the book I encourage people to swim upstream against gender inequality wherever they see it. Excerpt from Introduction: “Helen Keller once said, ‘I cannot do everything, but I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.’” Final words of the book: “Because God planted a passion inside me for a very specific calling and wired me with the temperament to fulfill this calling, I will not refuse to do the something I can do. I hope you do too.” Because I wrote these words I feel compelled to live them, i.e. walk the talk.

When Bobby Kennedy campaigned for the democratic presidential nomination in 1968 he repeatedly stated “Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.”

My dream is that individuals will be able to make choices re: roles within families and relationships based on talents, abilities and spiritual gifts, rather than being assigned roles based on gender. Though I have this dream, I do not have any illusions that I will lead a political or social movement which will result in full gender equality. I also have no illusions that gender equality will become a reality in my lifetime. I wrote the book and try very hard to walk the talk in the hope that I will plant seeds for change in some hearts

Word of Caution: Those of us who are called to fight for gender equality in the church need to be careful about how we measure success. We need to remember that we can only control what we do, we cannot control what anyone else does in response to what we do. We also need to remember that this change in the church will only come when hearts change, and we cannot change hearts. Only God can change a heart. He may use us as instruments to change hearts, but he is the one who does the heart changing.

Another word of caution: As we swim upstream to advocate or fight for gender equality in the church, conflict and controversy will inevitably follow. We need to face it head on and deal with it in healthy ways. That’s what Jesus and the early apostles did when conflict and controversy erupted in response to their efforts to transition people from the old covenant to the new covenant. We cannot however, be conflict creators. We cannot create conflict for the sake of creating conflict. If we do that we are not operating out of pure motives. On the other hand, we cannot be conflict avoiders. If we are conflict avoiders we are operating out of fear, and “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

For the record, it is not easy to swim upstream and walk the talk. Please know that I understand that what I’m asking people to do is not easy, and that I am not asking anyone to do anything I am not willing to do myself.

Excerpts from When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough:

A number of years ago I read an article in a Psychology Today magazine titled Whistleblowing (by Myron Peretz Glazer and Penina Migdal Glazer, August 1986 issue). This article resonated with me (which is why I held onto it). It seems that when I was young I was endowed with an absolute inability to tolerate injustice, oppression, and dishonesty. To complement this, I was not endowed with an ability to keep my mouth shut. Due to this combination of characteristics, I have been a whistleblower my entire life and, believe me, this has not won me a whole lot of friends. What it is has given me though is a clear conscience and an ability to tolerate opposition.

The article contained words of advice from more than twenty resisters. I found most of the advice to be solid and worthwhile. One word of advice that I did not agree with, though, was “Don’t tilt at windmills; don’t waste your strength and courage fighting a battle you know you will lose. There are more than enough fights around that offer a chance of winning.” Rather than agreeing with and heeding this bit of advice, I agree with the following statement made by Martin Sheen’s character in the movie An American President :“Don’t fight the fights you can win, fight the fights that need fighting!”

In addition to getting this article out and periodically reading it for encouragement as I wrote this book, I read the book Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas. Sacred Pathways is about spiritual temperaments. Our spiritual temperament, or our sacred pathway, is “the way we relate to God, how we draw near to him.” Of the nine sacred pathways Thomas identified, two of them (sensate and activist) describe how I draw near to God.

Thomas says that Christians with a sensate spiritual temperament “…want to be filled with sights, sounds, and smells that overwhelm them when they worship. The five senses are God’s most effective inroad to their hearts.”

In describing someone with an activist spiritual temperament or sacred pathway, Thomas says, “They define worship as standing against evil and calling sinners to repentance. These Christians often view the church as a place to recharge their batteries so they can go back into the world to wage war against injustice. . . . They find their home in the rough-and-tumble world of confrontation. They are energized more by interaction with others, even in conflict, than by being alone or in small groups.” Other statements he made regarding the activist sacred pathway are as follows:

• “It can take some time for the enthusiasm generated by the activist mentality to be tempered and seasoned by maturity and foresight.”
• “Every activist must learn that faithful obedience doesn’t always result in immediate success.”
• “Activists will never be satisfied playing it safe. They need to experience the exhilaration of seeing a miraculous God come through in miraculous ways.”
• “Activism is one temperament that, while it tends to spiritually feed many Christians, can also exhaust them.”

For many, many years I did not like my tendency to be a whistleblower. I wished I wasn’t like that and I tried to change it. I tried to be oblivious or tolerant of injustice and oppression. It never worked. I tried valiantly to keep my mouth shut about injustices and wrongs I saw. I failed even more miserably at that. When I read Sacred Pathways and realized God had wired me to be an activist, I finally relaxed about that part of myself and actually embraced it. I do wish, though, that my tempering and seasoning had happened a bit sooner. I might have made a few more friends if it had.

The more I studied it and thought about it, I realized that the activist temperament is my primary sacred pathway and the sensate temperament is my secondary pathway. I have felt that spiritual exhaustion when I am absolutely running on empty both emotionally and spiritually. When I am in a worship service where the music is excellent and the worship leader is worshipping, not entertaining, I can engage in authentic and meaningful individual worship. I then feel spiritually nurtured and energized and ready to take on the world. I realized that when God wired me to be an activist he knew about how exhausted and depleted I would get, so he wired me with the secondary pathway of sensate so I could be replenished and energized. Isn’t he a wonderful God?!

I just finished reading Tim Tebow’s book Shaken. I liked it very much. Parts of it resonated with me on a deep level in a very affirming way.

Two of my favorite quotes from the book are:

o So many times we are paralyzed from forward movement because we hold ourselves down. We compare our journeys, our losses, our victories, our marriages, our jobs, our dreams, our families with everyone else’s. And in our minds, in some way, we fall short…When our self-worth crumbles, when we’re not feeling confident, when insecurities overwhelm us, we have to remember whose we are…remind yourself how much God loves you and that He has a unique purpose and plan for your life.

o Trophies don’t last. Awards come and go. Impressive titles move from one person to the next. But how we live can make an eternal impact.

Excerpt from When Doing Isn’t Enough:

Love is not a feeling. It is an action. It is a choice. We can choose to act loving, even when we don’t feel loving.

If you want an example of pure, perfect love, think about what Jesus Christ did for us. He left the glory of heaven to take on human form and do something for us which we were not able to do for ourselves. He created the way for us to get to heaven. He explained this to his disciple Nathaneal in the first chapter of the gospel of John, verse 51: Then he said, I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.

Jesus chose to act loving by carrying his cross to Calvary in Jerusalem and allowing Roman soldiers to nail him to it, then staying nailed to it until he died. A picture of pure, perfect love is Jesus, bloody and beaten beyond recognition, hanging on a wooden cross. He did not have to stay hanging there. He chose to stay hanging there. It was not nails that held him to that cross. It was love, love for each and every one of us, past, present, and future.

Jesus understood that the reason he had come to earth was to offer himself as a sacrifice for the sins and wrongdoings of all mankind. Throughout the three years of his earthly ministry, he never lost sight of his purpose. He stated The Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life John chapter 3 verses 14 to15. As Jesus went about ministering to people by teaching them and healing them, he was always moving toward the fulfillment of his purpose. Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he went, always pressing on toward Jerusalem (Luke 13:22).

We get a glimpse of how Jesus felt about going to the cross in the account of him praying in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to his arrest. He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.’ Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood (Luke 22:  41-44).

It is important to note that Jesus went to the cross out of obedience to his father and love for us. It was a choice he made in spite of how he was feeling. Prior to his arrest, Jesus spoke to the apostles about the choice he was making. He said, No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded John 10:18. He also stated, There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13).

The Apostle John spoke about this expression of God’s love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins (1 John 4: 9-10).

 

 

Finished reviewing the edited version of my new manuscript, When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough, Swim Upstream. One more excerpt:

Lasting change begins on the inside, i.e. in our hearts. Our thoughts, feelings, attitudes and values change first. Then, our behavior changes to line up with the internal changes. If our hearts don’t change, we may be able to maintain behavioral changes for a while, however, it won’t last. We will eventually go back to behaving in a way that reflects our heart. Jesus Christ made this point to a group of Pharisees when he said “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart” (Matthew 12:35).

Throughout this book I will be highlighting individuals who made significant contributions to both the civil rights movement and the women’s rights movement. I am hoping that their stories will touch your hearts, as well as encourage and inspire you to swim upstream against gender inequality in the church, if you feel moved to do so.

There is a critical difference, however, between effecting change in the world and effecting change in the church. That difference is: fighting for gender equality in the church is not about women’s rights or affirmative action. It is about spiritual liberation. It is about truly allowing Christ to be the head of the church by following the leading of the Holy Spirit when choosing who will serve in what ministry roles. It is about allowing individuals with the spiritual gift of leadership to lead, and allowing individuals with the spiritual gift of preaching, to preach, regardless of their gender.

 

 

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