Years ago, a great friend and bible teacher told me that Jesus did not speak harshly towards women. She was leading a group of women in a retreat and we were looking at Jesus’ encounters with various women in the bible. Interestingly, every time we read aloud when Jesus said “Woman”, we read sternly. “Woman!” I guess we assumed Jesus was perpetually irritated with us and the women of his day. It hadn’t occurred to us that he was being gentle. “Woman,” Or speaking with compassion “woman :(” Wouldn’t the bible be easier to understand if emoticons had been a literary tool available back then?
I want to challenge you the next time you read Jesus’ encounters with the woman at the well, Mary and Martha(pre and post Lazarus’ death), the woman caught in adultery or his own mother, read them out loud several times and use a different attitude each time. You might want to insert your own emoticon to remind you of Jesus’ heart and intentions toward women.
I’m not a bible or historical scholar. I know that in his time and that culture, women were secondary. Considering Jesus came to earth through a woman, spoke directly to women publicly, wept with them, and appeared in resurrected form first to a woman(at least as it is recorded), I can piece together that He did not consider woman secondary beings. So try it. Read and re-read. Then sit in it for a moment and breathe.
Did any of you hymn-singin’, grew-up-in-church people ever play the add a phrase game? It’s the game where you add a phrase to the end of hymn titles and then giggle? For example, “Nearer My God To Thee” becomes “Nearer My God To Thee, Under the Bed” or the truly scandalous, “My Jesus, I Love Thee…Under the Bed”. I was indoctrinated into this practice the first time I met my future mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law. Lifelong women of God with a twinkle(and a little mischief) in their eyes!
Lysa TerKeurst writes of something similar in today’s Proverbs 31 Ministries daily devotion. She proposes adding the phrase, “so that I can love who?” to the end of bible verses. Here is an excerpt:
I started reading Bible verses by adding on a little question/challenge to myself at the end: “… so that I can love who?”
For example, Romans 12:2a, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (NIV) … so that I can love who?
There is someone in my life who needs my love but I’ll only be able to do it if I let God change my mindset. I need to add this little pop – a new expression of my faith through love.
Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (NIV) … so that I can love who?
She notes that adding this little pop to our regular everyday lives can give us a fresh motivation to live out our faith. Couldn’t we all use a little something new? To read the entire devotion by Lysa, click here.
So, in the 24 + years since I consciously accepted Jesus Christ as my savior, I have heard, seen, read and attended a myriad of sermons, messages, bible studies, small community groups, conferences, workshops, church services and gatherings. I still experience some of these, as I feel it is important not to be stagnant in education. Plus, there is an allure to search out and find the next great thing or nugget of truth–that one piece of information that will make all that conflicts me, snap into place. The “a-HA!” moment. We ask God for a sign and to tell us what to do and we get frustrated when God replies, “You can’t DO anything.” Wha-? But. But. He says, “Be still.” And we very reverently respond with, “WTH?”
Last December I got into a habit of daily meditation during the Advent season. Click here to listen to the 10/23/2011 and 11/27/2011 messages that inspired me. At some point it dawned on me that I just might already have enough information to follow Christ. How do I access that 24 year accumulation? I certainly didn’t have it archived. I got quiet. I didn’t stop all my other practices of gathering with my church community, prayer, etc. (although some did get the axe). But there is something amazingly valuable about sitting still, shutting up and listening. In the quiet, our senses stir. The mundane and ordinary that were once eclipsed by noise and activity, become exceptional. We start to see God’s presence where it has always been. Everywhere. We can hear the still, small whisper. We can hear the Holy Spirit leading us into truth we have been learning for years but have not slowed enough to embrace.
I love Robert Fulghum’s book All I Really Need To Know, I Learned In Kindergarten–especially that particular essay. It reminds us there are basic principles that we forget over time. Things like playing fair, saying you’re sorry when you hurt somebody, cleaning up your own mess, not taking things that aren’t yours. These principles still apply in our adult lives. We’ve just made them complicated and sometimes near impossible to live out.
So, after hearing two or three thousand messages–some duplicates–I’m pretty sure I have enough to go on in following Jesus. Accessing stillness makes us realize that the “a-HA” moments are more plentiful than we originally thought.
I forget who said it but I read a quote the other day that it is easy for those of us with choices to judge those of us who don’t have them.
I’m reflecting on this a little today just because I am glad for a few choices I have. I can drive my children to and from school. My oldest would otherwise have to take the bus to middle school. I’m afraid of the bus. Bad things happen on buses nowadays. I can choose to go to work during the day or continue to stay home and still have food on the table. I can post an update to Facebook, Twitter or a blog.
I prayed this morning for the moms who do not have choices, regardless of what we think. They have to go to a job and support their family. They cannot volunteer in their children’s school. They cannot choose their child’s school or educational process. They cannot follow through on homework especially if the power was just turned off. They may not be able to put that food on the table for everyone in the home. They must leave their babies in the care of people they may or may not trust and risk showing up in a sad news story that we all watch and scream “what was that mother thinking!”
If you are aware of someone who is choice-challenged, would you pray for an option to offer them? Would you resist thinking “what were they thinking?” or “Well, if they would only ____ then they could ____.”
Years ago I had returned to leading worship after taking time off. So there I was about 11 months pregnant and rockin’ the house–and it’s not easy rockin’ the house with an additional human strapped to your belly. A person I used to serve with relayed the critique of a mutual friend about my stage presence with the disclaimer, “She knew you’d want to know.” All in the name of excellence for God I suppose. Fortunately I was in a great place mentally and couldn’t have cared less. Truthfully, I was sad for her that in that awesome time of celebration surrounded by hundreds of worshippers, she was focused on me. Sooooo many opinions. Pay attention to the trustworthy ones.
Read this devotion from Proverbs 31 ministries about The Opinion Blender.
Had our first campfire of the season yesterday. I hate dousing campfires. Everything seems so dark and cold. And being a person of depression, my mind immediately thought of a list of sad things.
Dousing a campfire
Anakin Skywalker turns to the dark side
Closing of the public pool for the season
Having to get out of bed on a chilly morning when you’re all wrapped up in a comforter
Waking up 10 minutes before your alarm goes off
Ice cream falling off your cone onto the ground–includes gum and suckers too.
Stepping in a wet spot on the floor in your socks
Waiting in line for an hour for face painting or a balloon animal and they close with the kid in line in front of you.
Craving a food at a certain restaurant and finding out they are out of it or don’t serve it anymore.
Ok, enough. What are some happy things? Or maybe you have a few sad things I didn’t include. Enjoy!
Watched Food Inc. again. I get angrier and angrier every time. You want a real healthcare bill? Rebuild, not change, rebuild the food system in this country = fewer sick, fewer obese, fewer diabetic, fewer medicaid claims, fewer employee absences, lower employer costs, businesses can afford to expand and employ, fewer food industry subsidies–use the $$ to assist individuals and small business with legal fees when sued by Monsanto(how much freaking money do they need?) — criminals receive a free attorney, why not Joe Farmer? No more competing with other countries’ crop prices so Mexico can farm again without U.S. companies advertising in their papers to bring illegal workers to slaughterhouses reducing immigration issues. I could go on. And it’s all McDonald’s fault. (if you’ve seen “Food Inc” you’ll understand)
I’m changing my mind on many things. Sue the hell out of fast food. Not because parents don’t have responsibility but because we have been groomed for 60 years to think its cheaper to eat crap. It worked for tobacco. We all have a personal responsibility for certain. It’d just be much easier if I didn’t have to battle corporate america’s foot on my neck every time I go through a check out line.