Because of your gender…

Would you want to become a Christian if you were told that your role in church would be limited, solely because of your gender?

That because of your gender, you would never be allowed to teach or to lead in any strategic way.

That because of your gender, you would be expected to wait for others to initiate?

I think that many people view the church as archaic/medieval because of its traditional views of a woman’s role. Paul said he became all things to all people that by all means he might save some. (See 1 Corinthians 9:19-23) I think he would be appalled that something he wrote might be a barrier to people becoming followers of Jesus.

Just sayin’…

 

Two articles

I’ve had a couple of articles posted more widely in the past few days.

The first is in Christianity Todays section on building church leaders. It talks about the paradoxical nature of leadership within the simple/organic/house church movement.

The second comes in Charisma’s SpiritLed Women. They periodically (and with my permission) use one of my blog posts. This one they have entitled “The Medieval Attitudes that Prevail for Women in the Church.”

Enjoy!

Jesus Now

Jesus Now: Unveiling the Present-Day Ministry of Christ is Frank Viola’s latest book. I love Frank Viola’s writing. He is always scriptural, always Jesus-centered and he always makes me think. So I was delighted when he sent me a copy to review.

Over the years, I’ve read many “deeper life” books. The writings of Andrew Murray, Watchman Nee, and AW Tozer and many others have impacted me. In many ways, Jesus Now reminds me of their works. It places Jesus front and center; it challenges the reader to make Jesus Lord of everything in life; it reveals how Jesus transforms and strengthens the believer.

We all know what Jesus did when he was here on earth. He healed the sick, cast out demons, raised the dead. But what is he doing now? He continues to work in our lives. Jesus Now: Unveiling the Present-Day Ministry of Christ details the current ministry of Jesus as our High Priest, Chief Shepherd and Heavenly Bridegroom. Just these chapters alone could transform the lives of many believers as they are set free from guilt and condemnation.

But the book doesn’t stop at the level of the individual follower of Jesus. In a way that few books do, Frank takes these concepts further into the ministry of Jesus in the body of Christ at large. Jesus is the Master Builder and the Head of the Church. This has implications for how we meet together and how the church interacts with the world.

Although this book is a fast read, I believe Jesus Now is destined to be a classic! I highly recommend it.

Frank has a great offer for us. If you purchase the book between May 5th and May 8th from Parable.com, you will not only get it at 50 percent off, you will also get a study guide for free. Here’s where you can get it.

Three generations listening to Jesus

Over Easter, Tony and I spent time with our oldest son, Jon, his wife, Amy, and their four incredible and amazingly talented children ages 6 to 14. (And yes, I’m biased–very!)

Jon and Amy live in a small town in the mountains to the west of Colorado Springs. It’s incredibly beautiful. There are views of Pikes Peak from much of the town. The mountains were all snow-capped, the sun was shining, there were deer grazing in the front yard. We spent our evenings gathered around a wood fire roasting marsh mallows and telling stories.

Jon and Amy normally get together with a group of friends for church on Sunday mornings, but this week, people were out of town for Easter, and it was just our family. So we had church together.

Jon and Amy have taught their kids how to listen to God. After a brief recap of the Easter story, we all spent a few minutes listening to the Lord on our own. Then the kids shared what Jesus was saying to them. Jon and Amy shared. Tony and I shared. The whole blended together to become a beautiful narrative of what the Lord was saying to us all. It was simple–nothing earth-shattering. It was easily understood by everyone, including the six year old. It was profound. It was Jesus.

What a privilege. Jesus speaking to three generations of Dales who are listening to him together. Family doesn’t get better than this….

An interview with Steve Holt: “Intentional: In Jesus’ name we play”

I love stories. It’s often said that the longest journey is the one from mind to heart. But the journey in the opposite direction can be very short. Stories touch the heart and from there it’s a quick journey to the head.

I recently read Intentional: In Jesus’ Name We Play by Steve Holt. It puts many of the principles about simple/organic church into story format. Here’s an interview with Steve:

What is the book about?

Trey Glass is a professional basketball superstar who considers his fame on the court secondary to his life as a light among the people in his depressed neighborhood.  His parents raised him to live intentionally for God, and he takes that role seriously.  For starters, despite his multi-million dollar contract, he chooses to live in a neighborhood most wealthy people would never consider.  He treats street beggars with respect.  He has compassion on the young alcoholic who kills his dad while driving drunk.  He bails out a dozen street gamblers and provides opportunities for them to find meaningful employment.  He falls in love with a Latina medical intern and fights sexual temptations that have plagued him all his life.  Most interesting to friends of House2House, perhaps, is how he deals with obstacles to attending a traditional church and how his little house church becomes a beacon of hope in his racially divided hometown of Memphis, Tenn.

But, of course, living like Jesus brings the reality that many people find his lifestyle objectionable.  He encounters critics from every side—church leaders, team management, friends, sports reporters and more.  And then there are the physical assaults from street gangs who don’t like what he’s doing for the neighborhood….

What inspired you to write the book? 

I remember wondering what it would be like if a famous person, one who was known by many, was ever bold enough to really live like Jesus.  So, that was a large motivation for the book…to create a fictional character who really tried to live like his Lord. I spent nearly thirty years in a variety of positions in the institutional church, so I saw the inner workings of “religion” close up and first hand.  And frankly, early in my career I began to not like what I saw…what God’s church had become. I also came to realize that my own sons were wrestling with the traditions their parents had followed.  When they went off to college, their faith expressions changed, and I was delighted to see what was happening in their lives.  They focused on the right things and gave up the lesser important matters.  They actually had a lot to do with teaching me about the blessings of smaller and simpler faith communities.  I truly believe it was God’s intention all along to gather his family in small, intimate groups.  History shows that when church was taken out of homes and confined to cathedrals, many unfortunate things began to happen. I wanted to capture the benefits of these smaller communities in a form that people would actually read.   

Who did you intend to read this book?  And why fiction?

It’s odd…they say you should have a target audience in mind before you start a book.  I didn’t.  I just started writing, and when it was finished I sent the manuscript to friends of every age.  They all liked it.  In the back of my mind was the idea that if I wanted millennials to read the book, it would have to be fiction since they probably wouldn’t read a non-fiction, “how-to” book about house church.

This is the kind of book that can change people. What kind if transformation took place in your own life as you created the story of Trey Glass?

The thought I had throughout the entire project was “someone is going to ask if I live my life like Trey Glass lived his.”  I found myself confessing time and again that I am not fully living as if Jesus was the number one priority in my life.  That caused me to ask “why not?”  Many of the examples of a true Jesus follower in the book came from points of decision I’ve had in my life, many of which I didn’t make the right decision. I’ve come to the conclusion that there is really no excuse. And that is haunting.  The whole project has made me a better person.

What do you hope the book accomplishes in the lives of its readers?

I truly hope that readers will see that living like Jesus really is possible in twenty-first century America…and can be done by every race, every socioeconomic level, every sexual orientation, every person.  We are here to care for one another, and Trey Glass does this as well as anyone I know.  Readers will also face the realities of what such a lifestyle will cost them.  Jesus promised persecution, and Trey found that and more.  We can expect the same if we choose to walk as Jesus walked.

 

(Intentional is available from Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats) 

 

A helper for my husband

For many years I was taught that my purpose as a wife/woman, was to be a helper for my husband. A sort of divinely appointed personal assistant to him. He was the one to take the initiative; I was there to serve him, to help him fulfill God’s vision and call on his life. If I was to have any kind of strategic role, it was to be through my husband.

This teaching mainly came from Genesis 2:18, which in the King James Version of the Bible says this:

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. 

More modern versions also describe the woman as a helper for man.

It is an enlightening exercise, however, to look at the other occasions on which this word “helper” is used.  Of the 21 times, the Hebrew word “ezer” is used, in 16, it refers to God.  Typical examples include, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence comes my help.  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1, 2) or “Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8).  On three occasions, it is used in a decidedly militaristic context (eg Hosea 13:9).

The Hebrew word translated “meet” or “fit” means literally in front of with the understanding of “comparable to.” Someone alongside.

The impression is not that of a “Girl Friday.” It is more of a coach or rescuer, a valued consultant brought in to assist where man is lacking.

Photo Credit: Gerry Balding (Creative Commons)

Primal Fire

Primal Fire: Reigniting the Church with the Five Gifts of Jesus is Neil Cole’s latest book.

Disclosure: Neil is a good friend of Tony’s and mine. We’ve spent many an evening in our hot tub enjoying a glass of wine and discussing theology and church planting and putting the world to rights. I love all his books and read the manuscript of this one some time ago to write an endorsement for it.

I’m also blessed to have met/know all the members of the 5-fold team that works with Neil (all of whom wrote the book with him) and they are the best functioning leadership team  of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher I’m aware of. They are the real deal.

Here’s what I wrote in the endorsement:

Neil Cole is neither traditional nor tame, and he is uniquely positioned to write about the five gifts Jesus gave tot he church. He doesn’t just talk about the principles in this thought-provoking book: he lives them out as a highly effective apostle within a gifted team that has trained tens of thousands of church planters around the world. Neil forces us to think outside our conventional boxes by shedding fresh light on Scriptures we thought we knew well. I highly recommend Primal Fire for anyone who longs to see a multiplying and maturing move of God.

I stand by that endorsement. This book contains all kinds of original ideas. It’s well worth the read.

Both men and women

It takes us both.

So God created human beings in his own image.  In the image of God he created them;  male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

  • Both men and women are created in the image of God.
  • Both men and women were used by God to save the nation of Israel in the Old Testament.
  • Both men and women followed Jesus in the Gospels.
  • Both men and women represent the body of Christ.
  • Both men and women serve the body of Christ in the 5-fold ministry.
  • Both men and women are described by Paul as fellow-workers (eg. Philippians 4:2-3).
  • Both men and women are described as having leadership roles (for example, the word prostatis used to describe Phoebe is a word used for church leadership).

So what’s the problem?


Photo Credit: Tambako the Jaguar via Compfight cc

Getting to know us…

It is rare that I post anything personal about our family on this blog.

However, I’ve just had 10 days of glorious family fun and chaos with our whole family together for the first time in 18 months. Our four kids are among our best friends, and our daughters-in-law/son-in-law are amazing! Our nine grandkids range in age from 14 to four months. Over the last two weeks we’ve shared our lives together, laughed a lot, eaten way too much, played games, walked, entertained kids, sat in the hot tub…. It’s been a blast. What a blessing and a privilege.

The day after Christmas we had a photography session. As you can see, we’ve done our best to obey the command to “be fruitful and multiply”:

 

 

 

 

Interesting church statistics

According to a good and informative 2013 year-end status report by Leadership Network providing statistics on the state of mega-churches in this country, almost 10 percent of Protestant churchgoers attend a mega-church.

According to a Pew Forum report in December 2009, (if there is a more recent report, I am not aware of it), 9 percent of Protestants “attend religious services in homes.”

Just saying…