[pocket] Disciple: Seven Experiences with Jesus

Erik Fish, founder of Student CPX which teaches students how to make disciples and plant churches on campuses, and his family are staying with us at present. A few days ago, four heavy boxes arrived for him. They were the first copies of a new pocket manual he has written called [pocket] Disciple: Seven Experiences with Jesus.

The church that meets in our home seemed a good place to try it out. The book aims at teaching the basic commands of Jesus through seven discipleship practices. So last Friday, the group of us gathered there went through Experience #6: gather. We read through the instructions about how to use the book, discussed some Scriptures, answered questions and then experienced Jesus by celebrating communion together.

With us was a young woman, a co-worker and friend of one of the gals who gathers with us. She is from the Middle East and has no background in Christianity. It was her second time here. She went through Experience #6 with us and was full of questions. So Erik and some others took her through Experience #1: change. She wept her way into the Kingdom.

This little booklet is a great tool for discipling new believers. You can get it here.

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)

Is the age of chivalry dead?

Or should the age of chivalry be abolished?

Twice over the past few weeks I’ve read from different sources that it’s somehow demeaning to a woman if a man opens the door for her or pays for her meal. In both instances, the people concerned were offended if a man held the door open for them because it somehow made women inferior.  They felt that a man being chivalrous towards a woman was in some way discriminating against them because it was rooted in the idea of a female being helpless. (The idea comes from the age of knights and dragons and heroines in need of rescue.) One in particular made it clear that chivalry is basically kindness and should be practiced by both genders towards others.

Those who read my blog know that I believe women can be very strong, warriors for the Kingdom, able to do and be anything that God asks of them. They can make disciples, baptize them, plant churches, teach and train, give communion etc. There are no barriers in the Kingdom of God for women. But what about at a cultural/social level?

I guess I was taught how to “be a lady” from an early age. I’d never thought twice about a man opening the door for me. I’d never even considered the matter until recently.

I’m puzzled as to how to react to this and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What do you think about a man opening a door for a woman?

Is chivalry purely a cultural phenomenon? Should it be encouraged? Does it say anything about women at a spiritual level? Is chivalry a Kingdom quality?

    Photo Credit: InAweofGod’sCreation via Compfight cc

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.

We are different

I don’t have a problem with men and women being different. I studied medicine (I’m a physician by background) and not only are we anatomically different, nearly every system in our body is different in some way. The X and Y chromosomes make an impact. We obviously have different endocrine systems (hormones), but other systems differ too. For example, our skeletons are different. Our musculature is different. Our brains are different (men’s brains are larger, but women’s have more connections between right and left hemispheres.) When I studied diseases, I had to learn the differing rates at which diseases occur in men and women. Study any text book on pathology and you cannot get away from the differences.

It’s not hard to believe that the chemical and physiological differences impact how we think and process things.

Are there differences between men and women?

Yes.

I have no problem with those differences.

What I do have a problem with is when those differences are used to create a gender-based hierarchy, or when they’re used to limit women, preventing them from doing and being everything God has commanded them. Or when they produce stereotypes that people are expected to conform to, or when they are used to demean women.

What I long to see is for the body of Christ to welcome those differences, creating a synergy from our different strengths.

What do you think?


Photo Credit: Double–M via Compfight cc

 

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

Sometimes I’m excited when people leave our church…

Sometimes I get really excited when people leave the church that meets in our home.

Here’s an email I received this week.

I just wanted to let y’all know that we have really enjoyed getting to know y’all and your church. It’s been a real joy and I’m sure we’ll still be stopping by from time to time, so keep us on your email list please. 
 
However, we just started a new church with some of our neighbors who don’t yet know Jesus. We are meeting with them on Friday nights, so we’ll be unable to join y’all most Fridays. 
 
We met with them last Friday. We checked-in with them and listened to The Lord together. This was a powerful time with lots of hard things shared and many tears. After that we did a discover bible study with them in John 1. Again this was very powerful, even though it was the first time they had read the passage. Neither of them could even locate the book of John before hand, but their insights were amazing. 
 
Thank you again for sharing yourselves and your community with us, and please keep us in your prayers as we press on to join y’all in trying to see a vibrant family of Jesus within close reach of everyone in Austin. 
Isn’t that awesome?
 

On being a feminine leader

Yes, that’s right. I said “feminine leader,” not “female leader.”

Why is it that people expect leaders of either gender to think/look/act as though they are men?

 

Photo Credit: anicaps le forum via Compfight cc

Someone once sent me a Facebook picture saying, “I’m tired of Christian women leaders looking like men. This is how I would like a woman leader to appear.” The picture was of a very beautiful, very feminine lawyer. But there was such strength, courage and determination in her face. My response to it was, “Yes! A woman can be feminine and strong. She can be the kind of woman that men open the doors for, but yet be a leader in her own right. God has female (feminine) leaders and warriors.”

We tend to stereotype the genders–men are strategic, logical, strong. Women are relational, intuitive, creative. Many of us know people who don’t fit the stereotypes. (I, myself, think logically and strategically–I’m not sure if that’s by nature or because of my medical training). But we assume that men will carry one type of role and women another because of these characteristics.

Many assume that better leadership is more masculine. So women leaders, whether in business or on the Christian conference platform often dress like men and perform like men.

I think this is sad. Women can be feminine leaders. They can look attractive, be creative and intuitive, and still be strong leaders.

What do you think?

An update on The Black Swan Effect

I am excited! Two years of work, plus decades of background study, are nearly done. The Black Swan Effect is undergoing its final edits before going to the printers later this month.

You readers of my blog have been my inspiration. I was totally amazed when I shifted the emphasis of this blog to include writing about women in the Kingdom, that my readership doubled almost overnight. Your comments have inspired me and caused me to do further research. When I’ve felt discouraged, one of you has always written something that’s lifted my spirits and made me think, “Yes, it is all worth it.” Thank you to everyone.

Here’s the latest:

The Black Swan Effect website is up and running. It has interesting information about the book and its authors, plus a sample chapter. You can see it here.

We are pretty much reliant on word of mouth when it comes to the marketing of the book. It would be wonderful if you would help us spread the word. Let your friends know its becoming available soon. There are a number of things practical things you can do too.

  • We have a Facebook page . It would help us if you would “like” the page and then invite your friends to like it too.
  • You can follow us on Twitter.
  • If any of you have blogs, I’d love you to blog about the book. I’ll willingly do an interview for you, or give you some other materials about it. Of course, a (favorable ;-) ) book review on your blog would be great too.
I’ll keep you posted…

A woman of faith: Elisabeth Elliot

I’m currently on vacation with Tony–staying in a house on a deserted beach in Eleuthera (Bahamas). This article about Elisabeth Elliot is a repost.

Our deserted pink-sand beach

“The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of christian,But the fact that I am a christian does make me a different kind of woman.” Elisabeth Elliot

Elisabeth’s parents were missionaries in Belgium, which is where she was born, but they returned to the States when she was just a few months old, and she was brought up near Philadelphia.

Elisabeth went to Wheaton College where she studied classical Greek in the knowledge that this would help her translate the Bible into the languages of unreached people groups. She met her first husband, Jim, while she was there. Following college she went to Ecuador to work with the  Quichua Indians. A year later, Jim also came to work with the  Quichua. Jim and Elisabeth were married in Quito in 1953.

Jim had always had a heart for unreached people groups. The Aucus, a fierce tribe who killed everyone who came into contact with them, were  not too far away. Jim and four others determined to reach them and so made a trip into their territory in 1956. They made friendly contact with three of the tribe members but then all of them were speared to death. As Jim said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Left alone with a 10 month old daughter, Elisabeth Elliot continued work with the Quichua tribe. Then God led her to two Auca women who were living amongst the Quichua, whom she invited to live with her. They stayed for a whole year, and taught her and fellow missionary, Rachel Saint, the Huao language spoken by the Aucas. One of the two Auca ladies was the key to Elisabeth being able to live and work with the Aucas, the people who had killed her husband. She spent two years with them with her three-year-old daughter, Valerie, and Rachel. She then returned to her work with the Quichuas, finally going back to the States in 1963.

Since then she has led a very productive life, speaking and writing. She became an adjunct professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and was one of the stylistic consultants for the New International Version of the Bible. She also remarried, and now works with her current husband. She is one of the most influential Christian women of our day.

Photo credit:www.elisabethelliot.org

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