Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Jewish Homegirl Rocks the Exodus

There are some colorful people in the bible. There's also a bunch of stuff that happens where you can't help but go, "Say whattttt???"

Stick with me here.

Sometimes, I really think too many cheesy version of bible stories make us forget that the people in the bible were in fact, people too! We think of them as superheroes or we overlook them completely.

Let's look at one example out of the book of Exodus.

You may remember a Sunday school story about baby Moses. If you don't, I know there are several animated versions that are decent and I'm sure there's a Veggie Tales version out there somewhere (because talking vegetables just make the Bible more interesting).

Baby Moses is born during this crazy time when all Hebrew newborn boys are supposed to be thrown into the Nile. His mother hides him for as long as she can and then sends him down the river in papyrus basket.

Exodus 2:4 says, "His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him."

There she is! Miriam is Moses' sister. She undoubtedly watched her parents fret over how to hide Moses and then make the agonizing decision to send him out in the basket.

Sure enough, the Pharaoh's daughter finds little Moses. Then, because of Miriam's quick thinking, Moses' mother ends up being payed to raise her own son! (see Exodus 2:1-10 for that little pip of a story).

So have you ever really thought about Miriam? She's not even named initially in Exodus! However, there some things we can learn from Miriam and about the character of God!

1. She was a faithful woman of God

Miriam was a Jewish homegirl. She would have been raised learning all about God and what he had done in Genesis. From Adam to Joseph, she would have known about it.

Interestingly, we don't hear from Miriam after the birth of Moses until the exodus. It's at this point that we have that crazy Red Sea incident. God parted the Red Sea! We often can skip right over that because we've heard it so many times, but don't miss how amazing that is!

So the Israelites make it through the Red Sea and they immediately start praising God. Miriam comes back in at Exodus 15:20:

"Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took a timbrel in her hand and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing."

Miriam was one of only a handful of women that was called a prophetess (i.e, BIG DEAL!) She also acknowledged what God had done by praising him (and pretty much rocking out)!

2. She was a sinner

Skip ahead a little bit to the book of Numbers and we find the Israelites still doing there thing in the desert (by thing, I mean a tiresome roundabout of stubbornness).

We find Miriam again in Numbers 12:

"Miriam and Arron spoke against Moses... and they said, "Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?" And the Lord heard them."

You really could end a that last part with a dramatic "dun Dun DUN!" Miriam and Aaron are having a little power struggle here. The first time I read it, it sounded a lot like when people talk about each other and really try to one-up each other, "Well, is Moses REALLY the only one that God talks through? I mean come on! He's spoken to both of us! Why does he get be the one in charge of all this?"

Well God heard her and talks to all of them and pretty much puts them in their place. Then God turns her instantly into a leper! You heard me! She immediately becomes leprous. That means flesh being half eaten away and everything. Pretty gross stuff to say the least.

God mercifully heals her, and Miriam spends the rest of her life in submission to God and Moses.

3. God used her

So we see Miriam is a woman of God. She is also a sinner. As is God's way, he still uses her to fulfill his purpose. Many, many years later, Miriam comes up again in Micah 6:4 when God says,

"For I brought you up from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam."

Miriam was an integral part in Moses' life and the exodus from Egypt. She is an example of how God takes a sinful, imperfect person and uses them to make an eternal impact.

Are you allowing your past mistakes to hold you back from what God is calling you to do?

What do you need to surrender to him in order to fulfill your God-given purpose?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


What holds you back in your relationship with Christ?

Be honest.

Are you stuck in the performance trap where it seems like no matter how many "good things" you do, you and God just don't seem to be there?

Is there something in your past that weighs you down? Something you've done? Something that was done to you? Do you think that God just wouldn't ever be able to use someone like you?

Are you overwhelmed with where you are in life? Has there been something that came up out of nowhere and pretty much knocked you off your feet?

Ever felt like there had to be something more to this life? Something more in your relationship with Christ?

I've answered "yes" to every one of these questions at some point in my life. My relationship with Christ has been a journey. It's never been simply getting from point a to point b.

I recently read Perry Noble's new book "Unleash." (In stores today!) Having attended Newspring several times and being very familiar with Perry's preaching, I was really interested in how this book would stack up.

Let me tell you that you need to add "Unleash" to your reading list right now! This book is comprised of so many of the truths that I have heard Perry Noble preach about in the past. At the same time, it's a simple read. He doesn't use a lot of big "church words" or confuse the truth with lots of extra fluff. This a straight forward book on how you can unleash your life to reach your full potential in Christ.

I love that Perry Noble didn't make this book one big feel good message. He acknowledges that sometimes, life simply sucks! There's a lot of bad things that happen in our lives, but we have a God that is bigger than them all and wants us to live fully and freely.

I can't really do justice to everything that I got from the book. It definitely reminded me of those times in my life where my only option was to rely on God and encouraged me in my walk with Christ now.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

An Epiphany about Romans 8:38-39

Romans 8:38-39 is my all time favorite section of scripture:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord

I think that's one of the most beautiful declarations in all scripture. That truth should catapult us to boldness! Nothing can separate us from the love of God! Nothing in all creation!

I like an epiphany. It's that moment where something strikes you and you either react like me, with an audible "hmmmmmmm" or maybe it's simply "ah-ha!"

However you know, epiphanies can bring out something that you may have completely overlooked before.

I know this verse by heart. A good friend painted it for me and it's hanging in my office. But last night I had an epiphany about it.

I've always focused on the external things about this scripture. In a way, I have thought about it like my relationship with God is in a bubble and all the things it talks about in this verse are like things trying to break through the bubble and separate us.

I love the declaration that not even death, angels, demons, or any power in all creation can separate us from the love of God. I'm not coming out of that bubble!

Then I thought, "This verse is kind of talking about me."

In other words, nothing I can do will separate me from the love of God!! (hmmmmmm!)

As someone who struggles with performance based affection, this is something I have to remind myself of. Nothing I can do will make God love me more or less than he already does! He can't possibly love me more because when he looks at me, he see's Jesus!

Let that sink in for you.

As a Christian, there's nothing you can do to earn God's love. There is also nothing you can do to make him love you less! 

Let's run with that today!! Not only is there nothing in all of creation that can separate you from his love, there's nothing you can do to change his love! Let's be bold with this! Let this truth fuel every aspect of your life!

I do love a good epiphany

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Women in the Church and the Questions I Still Have

The theological implications of women in the Church has long confused me. I've pretty much heard every view you can think of. The problem I have is I'm still not entirely sure what God says about it! I've been studying the scriptures and reading the books and commentaries and have narrowed down my confusion.

Let me first say that I am happy in my calling from God. I know he's put me in a place of support and "behind the scenes" work. That fits me great! I'm not really interested in being ordained because I don't really think I need a title to do what I'm doing, but my own curiosity prompts me to know more. From my experience, if I have an area of doubt in my life, satan exposes it to throw off my focus. I'm trying to solidify my understanding of what God says.

Let me lay out what I know:

1. God Values Women
There is no doubt that God also created women in his image and places immense value on women. It's summed up well by simply saying, "men and women are equal in value and dignity by creation and redemption."

2. Women Have Valuable, Unique Roles in the Kingdom
Starting in Genesis we see this idea play out. There was no suitable helper in all of creation for Adam, so God created Eve to fit that role. That's pretty huge in and of itself. Out of everything God created, there was nothing that could fill that role except for Eve!

Further in the Old Testament, we continue to see women filling unique roles. Some of the big names include Rehab, Ruth and Esther. These women were played pivotal roles.

In the New Testament, we see that there were women who traveled with Jesus and the disciples, caring for them wherever they went. When Jesus was being crucified and the disciples fled in fear, these women remained and watched until the end. (Matthew 27:55-56) Mary Magdalene and the other Mary also carried the news of Jesus' resurrection to the disciples. Again, these women were a vital part of the story.

If women have valuable, unique roles, then it is to be assumed that men also have valuable, unique roles to play and the they are different from each other. Men and women were created differently. Every person who has ever thought, "I just don't understand him/her," should know this is true. Men and women were created differently to fulfill different roles.

3. Submission is Not a Dirty Word
In our feminist society, the idea of submission (especially by women) is usually looked at as an antiquated concept that puts the church further out of touch. This is sad. So many women become defensive when we start talking about things like male headship.

Submission is defined as "recognizing your place within the God-given order of society, and to act appropriately to that place, by accepting the authority of those whom God has entrusted it."

This definition of submission is applicable to the authority of the Church, God and a husband. For me, this concept is a little difficult to grasp. It's almost difficult to understand authority without thinking of it negatively. During a recent message on authority I was listening too, I was trying to reflect on this concept.

I was raised by a very strong, independent woman. I gladly submitted to her as my mother but also as my best friend. In that way, I generally understand the concept of the submitting to the church and I've never denied the fact that as a follower of Christ, I am to submit to him. But as I was sitting and listening to this message, I had a thought. If you think of your ideal father, someone that loves you and cares for you just like you want to be loved and the submission that would come from that relationship of love and trust, then you're starting to get a good picture of submission to God. God is our perfect heavenly father and we submit to him in the same way. While husbands are people too and generally imperfect (just like wives), the concept still remains. Submission is birthed from love and trust and is really a beautiful thing.

4. God Doesn't Care About Your Resume
When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied in Matthew 22:37, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."

This commandment was not conditional. Think about the Great Commission, "Go and make disciples of all nations." Jesus didn't tell them to go after they completed four years of seminary and and an extensive internship. He said Go!

Loving God with our heart, soul, and mind is an all consuming love. Everything we do is to be done as if it was for God. This means that wherever you are, whatever you're doing, you are serving God. You don't have to be ordained, have a title, or even some kind of credential. God doesn't care about how extensive our resume is, He simply commands us to go and make disciples.

So I'm pretty confident about all that. I stand by those four things.

Here's where I'm still confused:

Reading scriptures like 1 Timothy 2:8-15, 2 Timothy 1:5,3:15 and Titus 2:3-5 leave me with more questions about the role of a woman in church.

What about the idea that all Christian teachers are called to teach humbly under the authority of Christ? Can women teach others, including men, under the authority of scripture and with humility? Can she she be a member of a pastoral team whose leader is a man? Could she be involved in ministry and therefore commissioned (ordained) to do so?

What do you know about all this?