Excerpt, When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough:

Question: Where do women belong in the twenty-first-century church?
Answer: Wherever God places them.

God has carved out places for every one of his daughters in his church, and he wants us to occupy the places he chose for us. Whatever spiritual gift or gifts you were given, you were given for a reason and a purpose, and he wants you to use it for the purpose he chose for you. He does not want you to hide it. If you choose to hide your gift(s), God is displeased. In his book The Purpose Driven Life Rick Warren states “You don’t bring glory or pleasure to God by hiding your abilities or by trying to be someone else. You only bring him enjoyment by being you. Anytime you reject any part of yourself, you are rejecting God’s wisdom and sovereignty in creating you.”

Link: https://www.amazon.com/When-Going-Flow-Enough-Upstream/dp/1625860714/

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This was a Facebook memory from 2014. Decided to share it here.

I did not sell any books at my book signing yesterday. I bought one instead. As a store employee was setting up the space for the book signing a book caught my eye. It was titled A CALL TO ACTION: Women, Religion, Violence and Power by Jimmy Carter. I have already read the first four chapters and it has really grabbed hold of me. Here is an excerpt from the inside front cover: “A Call to Action addresses the suffering inflicted upon women by a false interpretation of carefully selected religious texts and a growing tolerance of violence and warfare. Key verses are often omitted or quoted out of context by male religious leaders to exalt the status of men and exclude women.”

Perhaps rather than selling books God had a higher purpose in mind for me at that bookstore yesterday.

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/

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

Christians for Biblical Equality, an organization based in Minneapolis, posted an awesome review of my book When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough, on their website. For those who are interested, here is the link to the review: https://www.cbeinternational.org/resources/review/book-review-when-going-flow-isnt-enough

What’s more, they are now stocking that book in their online bookstore! PRAISE 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.