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….

When women champion men…

As part of some correspondence, a pastor’s wife, Kathy, wrote the following. I LOVE what she says here!
My prayer is that one day, women will “champion” the men who are brave enough to come out of the “male only” leadership box.

I believe that women who are free are the ones who will be used by God to open the doors for men (and other women) — so that they walk in freedom.  The slaves cannot free themselves.  I am no longer enslaved by the lies of the enemy about my position in Christ.  

I have permission from God– God’s Female Image is free and equal to His Male Image.
Complete freedom and peace came for me to live and minister as God’s Female Image — when the Spirit clearly revealed to me that God had opened the door and I realized satan was keeping me in bondage because I thought that my husband or “the Elders” had to give me permission to be free.  

I stand on Galatians 5:1 – 

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Happy Easter

This Easter weekend commemorates the most important event in history–the death and resurrection of Jesus. We celebrate the victory Jesus accomplished for us over sin and death and the forces of darkness.

The Easter story is also one where the role of women comes to the fore:

  • A woman anointed Jesus for burial
  • Women watched as Jesus died
  • Women followed Joseph of Arimathea to see where Jesus was buried
  • Women bought and prepared spices for his body
  • Women were first to the tomb after the Sabbath
  • A woman was the first person to whom Jesus revealed himself after his resurrection
  • Women were entrusted with the message that Jesus had risen

Have a blessed Easter!

Photo Credit: arbyreed via Compfight cc

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) 

 

The continuum on gender bias

Sometimes my blog posts about the impact of women and men to co-laboring side by side in the Kingdom  are picked up by other sites. They can attract a wealth of comments–usually favorable, sometimes disapproving of my position, and on occasion, downright antagonistic.

I’ve observed a whole continuum on gender bias. It goes something like this:

  1. Unashamedly misogynist: these people tell me I’m rebellious and unsubmissive and should get back in line. If God uses me, as a woman, it’s an aberration, rather like God using Balaam’s donkey (and yes, I’ve had someone tell me that!)
  2. Men lead; women follow: these people are sympathetic to the plight of women but believe that the role of women is always to be subservient to that of men. The overall effect is that women are marginalized.
  3. Certain roles are forbidden to women: women can be apostles, prophets and deacons, but the roles of elder and senior pastor are reserved for men only.
  4. Women can do anything. God has gifted women in many ways and their gifts can be used in any way and in any role that God directs. We see this through Biblical examples and throughout history.
  5. There’s no difference between men and women. Any cultural differences should be wiped out.
  6. Women are actually superior to men, and the opinions of men can be disregarded.
  7. Women have been downtrodden through the centuries and it’s payback time.

As you can see, the continuum on gender bias goes from the downright misogynist to the militant feminist. I’ve received comments that reflect all of the above.

I know which one I favor. What about you?

Photo Credit: TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ via Compfight cc

The Black Swan Effect: A response to gender hierarchy in the church is now available.

Free e-book for those who purchased The Black Swan Effect

A big thank you to all who supported the launch of The Black Swan Effect: A Response to Gender Hierarchy in the Church.

Thank you to those who blogged about the book, mentioned it  on facebook and wrote tweets. Thank you for those who wrote reviews on Amazon. Check them out–they are amazing.

Thank you to all of you who purchased the book.

I’m very grateful to all of you. You all are the best!

The book did way better than I had even dared to hope for, creating quite a buzz and rising up through the Amazon rankings.

Now it’s up to the Holy Spirit. If the message through the book is to gain traction, a second wave of people, those who hear about it from those who have read it, will have to emerge.

[Tweet "Free ebook for those who bought The Black Swan Effect http://bit.ly/1lQSiCy"]

As a thank you to those who bought the book already, I have an ebook on the challenging Scriptures for women. I’ve been reading books on this topic for decades, trying to work out what the Scriptures really say about women in those passages that seem to limit them. All of us want to obey the Word of God. The e-book looks at the four most difficult ones for women–the ones that are usually quoted by those who believe that men lead, women follow. I’ve tried to simplify the reasons why many of the best scholars believe that these verses can be interpreted, with integrity, to mean something quite different.

Get your free e-book here

I love this picture. A friend sent it to me when the copies he ordered arrived in the mail!

When Jesus “in-thunders”

[First of all, an apology to many of you who have made comments to other posts on my blog. The last few weeks have been crazy with the launch of The Black Swan Effect: A Response to Gender Hierarchy in the Church and I've just not had time to respond as I usually would.]

The other morning, I was reading John 11, the story of the raising of Lazarus, and I found myself weeping over the passage. My tears tied up with the depth of emotion expressed by Jesus at the situation. Here’s what verses 33-38 and 43 say in the NLT:

When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him,  and he was deeply troubled.  “Where have you put him?” he asked them.

They told him, “Lord, come and see.”  Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!”  But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”

Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance…  Then Jesus shouted,“Lazarus, come out!”

In this passage, Jesus has deep anger, is deeply troubled, is still angry and shouts!

On Friday, in the church that meets in our home, we broke into groups to study this passage. I decided to look up the meaning of the word translated “angry” in a Greek version. The word literally means, “in thundered!” Jesus was thundering inside. Was it the work of Satan he was thundering against? Death?

Strong’s Concordance and the Helps Word Studies gives the definition, “snort like an angry horse,” “roar with rage,” “express indignant displeasure.”

So our group spent some time praying with a young man who has a brain tumor (please pray for Jose. He’s undergoing another brain surgery today). We “in-thundered” against the tumor. (It was a noisy prayer-time!)

I think Jesus “in-thunders” over a number of things. I think he “in-thunders” over sickness and disease, poverty, injustice.

What do you think?

 Photo Credit: Sprengben [why not get a friend] via Compfight cc

The birth of The Black Swan Effect–and a review

[Tweet "Check out this interview with Frank Viola http://bit.ly/1h8CHxQ"]

The process of writing a book can become all consuming. I know. I’ve written several. It starts out as an idea which grows. An outline forms. The middle stretch is hard–is anyone interested in your topic? The final few months, it takes over much of your life as you try to reach deadlines.[Tweet "The Black Swan Effect is now on Amazon http://amzn.to/1lAhU6x"]

I’m so thankful for the co-authors of this book. The team of women brainstormed every aspect of it over a period of  four years. The guys who contributed chapters have stood with us, encouraged us and helped in every way they can.

I was humbled and blessed to see some of the reviews over the weekend. Here’s one of my favorites by Gary Roberts:

“The Catholic priest Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the church doors in 1517. He was not suggesting the Church should reject the scriptures or hold any position contrary to the Bible. He was encouraging the Pope and others to reconsider and return to the scriptures. Nearly 500 years later, it’s difficult to believe there may still be doctrinal or practicing positions held by Bible believing people which need to be reconsidered. Is that possible?

The Black Swan Effect: A Response to Gender Hierarchy in the Church raises an issue for all thoughtful Christ followers. What are the God-given roles and responsibilities of women in the Church? Have we misunderstood, misinterpreted or misapplied the scriptures concerning women? Have we, to our peril, sought to know Christ and advance his Kingdom with one hand tied behind our back?

The Black Swan Effect says, “Let’s talk about it”..

Felicity Dale and her team of ladies have assembled thoughtful, passionate, informed and experienced authors to propel our conversation forward and walk with us on the journey. And some of them are men!

The ladies; Lynne Hybels, Peggy Batcheller-Hijar, Jan Diss, Katie Driver, Julie Ross, Suzette Lambert and Felicity Dale, tell their stories and the stories of other women longing and looking for their place in the Kingdom. They honestly detail their struggle to know and understand their giftedness and calling only to find a church which for the most part discourages them because they happen to be female. There are questions raised by these ladies that challenge me and even haunt me. I’m glad they asked.

The men aren’t bad either. Neil Cole, Alan Hirsch, Floyd McClung, Dave Ferguson, Frank Viola, Jon Zens, and Michael Frost are confessional and confrontational. They detail their own journey to understand the Bible’s teaching concerning women and to release them to their God-given destiny. As a man with complete confidence in the scriptures and a desire to follow Jesus Christ, I found their contributions to be convicting, informative and affirming. They raise and answer questions most Christian men have, but rarely ask. I have read these men outside this current collaboration because they love Jesus and make me think. You will enjoy their contributions.

Felicity Dale’s chapter Created in God’s Image – Male and Female (chapter 7) is worth the price of the book. She also does a wonderful job serving as team leader and general editor for the project while writing additional parts.

Viola, Zens and Cole handle some details of interpretation and application in their chapters which should serve us well in our discussions. Read them thoughtfully.

Suzette Lambert’s chapter on The Emancipated Woman held the biggest surprise for me. Her words forced me to face some of my own struggles and thoughts which keep me from realizing my own destiny and fulfillment. Life changing? Yes.

I’m a long, long way from being where I need to be as a follower of Jesus Christ. These ladies, with an assist from some “door opening” men have helped me on my way. Thanks!

Let’s wrap up this review.

Martin Luther knew this truth and so should we. We need never fear the truth.

The Black Swan Effect is well planned, well written, well edited and well done!”

Thanks to Chris Jefferies for the photo 

The launch of The Black Swan Effect

[Tweet "IT'S OFFICIAL! THE BLACK SWAN EFFECT IS NOW LIVE ON AMAZON. Yay!!"]

 

Here’s the link to The Black Swan Effect: A Response to Gender Hierarchy in the Church on Amazon. Both paperback and Kindle editions are available.

I’m so grateful to the team of women–my wonderful friends Peggy Batcheller-Hijar, Jan Diss, Katie Driver, Suzette Lambert and Julie Ross–we’ve worked together on this project for four years now. And I’m very thankful for the guys who’ve stood with us, contributed chapters, encouraged us–Neil Cole, Dave Ferguson, Michael Frost, Alan Hirsch, Floyd McClung, Frank Viola and Jon Zens. And Lynne Hybels wrote the foreword of the book for someone she’d never met… What a blessing!

Although our technical launch date is tomorrow (Saturday, April 5th) there are already various other blogs and articles about  it on the Internet. (See here, here, here and here).

Most readers of my blog are familiar with the The Black Swan Effect. But if you’re new, here’s a little about it–taken from the “blurb” on Amazon.

The Black Swan Effect presents a vision for what can happen as men and women work together in the Kingdom of God.  The authors (both male and female) encourage men to champion women as equal co-laborers and partners in the harvest. They also give women permission and inspiration to follow the Lord—to reach their own full potential and encourage others to fulfill God’s call. The Black Swan Effect equips both men and women to bring an informed and positive contribution to the increasingly crucial conversation on gender in the church.

If you are like most Christians, one of three primary motivations propels you into this discussion about women in ministry:

  • Many Christians have come to the conclusion that there is no better way to increase the size of God’s missions workforce than to fully deploy women to use their spiritual gifts and God-given capacities.
  • Some are asking theological questions. They are investigating how the Bible portrays women, especially women leaders. How did Jesus treat women? Were the New Testament writers—in particular, the apostle Paul—misogynists? Are there alternative interpretations for some of the really difficult passages of Scripture?
  • Others are drawn to this discussion because of issues related to justice and human dignity around the world as well as in the church. As they study Scripture, they are assured that God creates all men and women in his image, and they can’t even imagine a God who would discriminate against women.

Fourteen different authors contribute to these themes, each writing from their own area of passion and expertise, the whole being woven together into a single narrative. Encouraging stories of women who are doing marvelous things for God today accompany each chapter.

Change is coming! Let’s get ready.

If you purchase The Black Swan Effect, readers of my blog can also get a free download of a short (25 page) e-book entitled “A Simple Guide to the Challenging Scriptures for Women.” (I’m using an honor system here. If you purchase the book, click on the link for the guide.) It’s a quick reference to four of the Scriptures that have proven most troublesome when it comes to women in ministry through the years.

 

Neil Cole on The Black Swan Effect

The Verge conference was last weekend. I always look forward to spending time with good friends who make it to Austin for the conference.  Neil Cole is one of the contributors to The Black Swan Effect, and he came and hung out with us at our home when the conference was over. I took the opportunity to take a brief video of him talking about why the concepts we all write about in The Black Swan Effect are important.

Neil has also recently written a book called Primal Fire: Reigniting the Church with the Five Gifts of Jesus, which I highly recommend.

Neil Cole speaks about The Black Swan Effect from Felicity Dale on Vimeo.