Today those of us who live in the United States celebrate our political freedom. It is ours simply because we are Americans. We don’t have to do anything to get it. Political freedom was obtained for us by individuals who paid very high prices to obtain it, such as:

Cost of the American Revolution:
• Total American military casualties were approximately 50,000 men.
• Of these 50,000, approximately 8000 died in battle; 17,000 died from disease.
• Of the 17,000 that died from disease 8-12 thousand of these contracted diseases while living in the deplorable conditions of rotting prison ships in NY harbor.
• Another 2500 Americans died while encamped at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-1778.

Cost of the Civil War:
• Casualties were approximately 750,000 soldier deaths.
• Of those 750,000 soldiers, 56,000 died in prisons.
• Another 60,000 men lost limbs.

Spiritual freedom is also available to those who want it. The price that was paid for spiritual freedom was also very high. It was bought and paid for by one man. Jesus Christ obtained spiritual freedom for us at Calvary. Spiritual freedom, however, is not automatic like political freedom. We have to do 3 things to obtain our spiritual freedom. Those 3 things are: 1. Accept Jesus’s work on the cross as a personal gift; 2. Give our lives to him to do with as he pleases; 3. Lay our hurts, habits & hang-ups at the foot of the cross & LEAVE THEM THERE!

Political freedom and spiritual freedom are very different and do not necessarily coexist. It is possible to be politically free and be in spiritual bondage. It is also possible to be spiritually free and be in political bondage. Political freedom is being released from the bonds of others. Spiritual freedom is being released from the bonds of self.

The Apostle Paul discusses spiritual freedom in his various letters. Paul’s calling, the assignment God gave him, was to travel throughout the known world preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ and planting churches. He would stay in a certain location for a period of time, plant a church and move on. He stayed connected to the churches he planted by writing letters to them.

Toward the end of his ministry Paul spent approximately 2 years in a Roman prison. While there, he wrote letters to the churches in Phillippi, in Colosse, and in Ephesus. Excerpts from these letters:
• “So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins” (Ephesians 1: 6-7).
• “So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2: 7).
• “… you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourself in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ” (Philippians 1:27).
• “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
• “I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church” (Colossians 1:24).

To me, there is no clearer example of spiritual freedom than the image of Paul sitting in a foul Roman prison chained to a Roman guard writing these words.

To summarize:
We obtained political freedom by winning.
We obtain spiritual freedom by surrendering.
When we are politically free we do what we want.
When we are spiritually free we do what God wants.

When we are obedient to God he rewards us by infusing us with an internal peace that the world cannot give and cannot understand. It surpasses human understanding because it can only come from God.

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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.

Abraham Lincoln for the Defense by Warren Bull is historical fiction focusing on the period of Lincoln’s life in which he was a young attorney in Springfield, Illinois. It recounts the story of Lincoln defending two men accused of murder. In the Author’s Note at the beginning of the book Mr. Bull states: “…one interpretation of what might have happened…work of fiction…book is based on actual events…legal cases presented are based upon actual cases.”

Abraham Lincoln for the Defense reminded me of Leon Uris’s novels in that the culture of the time and place in which the events occurred is described with tangible accuracy; the description of the characters is full-bodied and multi-dimensional; and the dialogue is natural and believable. As I was reading the book I could see and hear the characters in my mind.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book are:

• “In this country we don’t have a king or an aristocracy to tell us what to do. Politics is the responsibility and duty of all of us…imperfect as it is, politics is what we have to work with.”

• “We will not resolve the thorny differences that strain the bonds of brotherhood by polite words over tepid cups of tea. We need the rough-and-tumble exchange of verbal thrust and parry.”

• “…some things legally right are not morally right.”

This book is a good read for anyone, however, history buffs in particular would probably really like this book.

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Abraham-Lincoln-Defense-Warren-Bull/dp/0998454613/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1496281750&sr=1-1&keywords=Warren+Bull

My daughter returns to work this week after her maternity leave (refer to my March 18th post, Reflections on Becoming a Grandma) and I will become my granddaughter’s nanny.

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). turn turn turn the byrds lyrics https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKP4cfU28vM

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?!

Parenting is difficult. (That’s an understatement, wouldn’t you say?!)

I am sending this out to all parents who may be feeling frustrated, discouraged, worried, etc. I have found that when I’m upset, stressed, etc the best medicine for me is a good laugh. I therefore hope this will bring some laughter to any parents whose spirits need to be lightened.

I stumbled across this years ago. The title and the author are both unknown to me.

After creating heaven and earth God created Adam and Eve and the first thing He said was “Don’t!”
“Don’t what?” Adam replied.
“Don’t eat the forbidden fruit” God said.
“Forbidden fruit? We have forbidden fruit? Hey Eve, we have forbidden fruit!”
“No way!”
“Yes way.”
“DO NOT eat the fruit!” God said.
“Why?!”
“Because I’m your Father and I said so!” God replied, wondering why He hadn’t stopped creation after making the elephants.
A few minutes later God saw His children taking an apple break and was He ticked!
“Didn’t I tell you not to eat the fruit?” God, our first parent, asked.
“Uh huh,” Adam replied.
“Then why did you?” asked God.
“I don’t know,” said Eve.
“She started it!” said Adam.
“Did not!”
“Did too!”
“DID NOT!”

Having had it with the two of them God’s punishment was that Adam and Eve have children of their own. Thus, the pattern was set and it has never changed.

Whenever your children are out of control take comfort from the thought that even God’s omnipotence did not extend to His own children. If you have persistently and lovingly tried to give children wisdom and they haven’t taken it, don’t be hard on yourself. If God had trouble raising children what makes you think it would be a piece of cake for You?

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.