Tag Archive | women in ministry

Letters to the Apostle Paul from 2013 #8


Faye, a Christian in the year 2013, again sit down to compose to the Apostle Paul, now a resident of Heaven with the Lord Himself, another letter. Although it was my intention to be to have my letters to you end at the last one, number seven, I find myself unable to do so. I am drawn repeatedly to the subject of women serving in leadership positions in Southern Baptist and other denominations being denied based solely on their gender. Further, I was challenged by a reader, a minister, pastor, friend to always keep in mind that now that my beliefs about your denial of these roles of pastor, deacon, teacher of men – to women had hanged I was accountable for the knowledge and what was to be done with it. I believed all I was to do was change my beliefs privately within our own congregation, publically via this forum and it was finished. I’ve found I was wrong.

How many more letters will I write to you? I do not know, I just know this one is being written.

In the Old Testament book of Judges, chapter 4 we read of the prophetess Deborah who was the wife of Lappidoth was leading Israel after Ehud died and the children of Israel had gotten themselves into slavery under Jabin, a king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. Deborah held court under what was referred to as the “Palm of Deborah” between Ramah and Bethel. God gave her instructions for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh so that Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army whose army was equipped with nine hundred iron chariots plus other men could be defeated in battle and killed. He was an opponent that seemed to be invisible. God was prepared to give this man and his army to the army of Barak with only 10,000 men of Naphtali and Zebulun who had no iron chariots. God told Barak what to do through the Judge of Israel at that time, Deborah.

Did Barak go without question? No. Did Barak go as God had instructed him through Deborah without “insurance”? No. Barak agreed to go only if Deborah went with him. Barak went into battle because God gave a prophetess and Judge of Israel the instruction to do so specifically for Barak. This wasn’t Barak’s idea. I can see that he would have felt more confident if God had given him the instructions without sending them through Deborah but that isn’t what God did. Barak and Deborah must have had numerous conversations about how to throw off the yoke of oppression and slavery from Jabin through Sisera. Deborah, clearly, had made this a matter of prayer as had perhaps hundreds of other Israelites. Deborah got the battle plan from God.

Because Barak balked at following God’s plan without Deborah accompanying him (and Deborah had her own part to complete from God already) Deborah and Barak had this conversation in Judges 4:8-9, “Barak said to her, ‘If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.’ “”Very well,” Deborah said, “I will go with you. But because of the way you are going about this, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will hand Sisera over to a woman.”

Sure enough, Sisera’s army with its nine hundred iron chariots was defeated and Sisera escaped by running away. He sought refuge in the tent of Heber’s wife Jael who seemed to welcome him and provide him with a place to stay. He asked for water and she gave him milk to drink. She made him comfortable. He was exhausted and fell into a deep and sound sleep feeling safe in the tent Jael, a woman who was the wife of a friend of Jabin’s. Sisera apparently overestimated the friendly relations between Heber and Jabin and he really underestimated the ability of a female to kill him. He never woke up for Jael took a tent peg and a hammer and drove the tent peg through his temple into the ground. Sisera was wiped from the earth by the acts of two women. Deborah, the prophetess and Judge of Israel, who followed God’s instructions without question and Jael, of whom all we know is she was Heber’s wife and clearly either on the Israelites side or just really hated Sisera and/or Jabin.

Yet in Hebrews in the New Testament in chapter 11 verse 32 you wrote, “And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephtah, David, Samuel and the prophets,…” This particular chapter of your book called Hebrews is referred to by us today as “The Hall of Faith” for you have listed through Israel’s history those whose faith in God assured them His promise. You name Barak, you do not name Deborah and from the way you list the names of the men whose stories of faith you do not have time to cover it’s unlikely to suppose you would have included Deborah later, or Jael.

Barak did lead his 10,000 men to conduct a great battle and they did defeat the army lead by Sisera but Barak didn’t do it solely because he had faith in God. Barak needed an insurance policy of God’s favor. He needed Deborah to go with him. Barak and Deborah lead the Israelites in celebration in Judges Chapter 5 where the “Song of Deborah” is recorded. You credit Moses’ parents for hiding him and Rahab for befriending the spies sent to scope of Jericho but you credit Barak for what his faith allowed God to do. Barak, not Deborah, why? Barak’s faith needed an insurance policy and he lost the honor of being known as the man who took care of Sisera once and for all.

This strikes me as a time when perhaps your distrust of the female gender and the rigid laws of the laws and rules of the Old Testament got in the way of giving credit where credit was due.

Another piece of the puzzle concerning your personal attitude toward females and how that influenced your writing and your beliefs. Had you not had the attitude against women serving in leadership roles in the church, speaking in church then your words may have been different and the history of women would have been different.

How different is only something I could image, but I do know that man would not have had your words to twist to suit themselves if your words had been without prejudice.

Still finding my way on this,

–Faye

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Letters to the Apostle Paul from 2013 #6


Faye, a female Christian in the year 2013 greet the Apostle Paul, thanking him for his time and begin to conclude this series of letters.

Honestly Apostle Paul some of our 21st century’s churches could use a letter from you to straighten us out. For the only person who knows where Paul, the man with his bias and religious background that was so grounded in the Law came through in his letters to the churches and Titus and Timothy is you. You and Jesus.

My questions, my search, my dilemma and my thoughts have been real soul searching issues, I have not taken this journey lightly in any way. For as I studied your letters and the books whose authors quoted sources as old or older than parts of the Scriptures themselves, I have a couple images on my mind that serve to steady my legs and sit my feet on firm ground. The Holy Spirit has shown me the error of my plan, the one flaw that has been presence in my whole life of dealing with this issue – I’ve left out Jesus!

There have been countless times I’ve pondered the question of women in ministry, the roles they could and should take on and the roles they shouldn’t I’ve witnessed the steadfastness of women whose service to their churches kept their church’s doors open because there were no men to step forward. I’ve witnessed congregations where the women and men are still worshipping together but divided by gender. Sunday morning, at least for the mainstream congregations, I’ve long believed should be a time the spiritual health of families is improved by the family attending church together, sitting together, learning together, and serving together.

The cultural conditions of the time you wrote your correspondence to churches have to be considered also. But, the main consideration, the One upon whom all our lives are threaded into the tapestry of mankind’s history with God is Jesus. And in light of that revelation I see…

…the woman caught in adultery that John tells us about in John 8:2-11 who is drug from her bed to have her sin publically exposed. I can see her hanging her head in shame, fearful of the judgment she knows is coming, feeling the anger of the men who have accused her of adultery, who have witnessed her sin and who have chosen to make her an example and not the man who was sinning with her. A man who probably cooperated with those who set up the plan to force Jesus to condemn her. This woman is guilty and she knows it. Despite being set up, for what are the chances that two or more witnesses would happen upon a man and woman committing adultery, she is guilty of what she has been accused of. Of course, so is the man who she was with and the same Law that condemns her condemns him but he is not being used as a pawn to trap Jesus.

And she waits, this guilty woman before the Savior of the world, the promised Messiah, the Son of God to be condemned to die by stoning. When Jesus is silent and the crowd hushing in His silence, she must have dared a look at Him through her tangled hair and her tear filled eyes and see Jesus bend down and write upon the earth. Her astonished ears hear Him tell the angry mob of people around her, rocks in hand to stone her, that the one there without sin in their lives can cast the first stone. And the longest moments of her life pass as she waits for the first blow, the first stone to hit its mark and instead her ears are greeted by the thuds of the stones falling to the ground and her accusers turning and walking away. Finally, again she looks up and this time meets Jesus’ eyes and answers His question, “Woman where are your accusers?” And with shaking voice she answers that they have gone. Then her astonishment overflows as Jesus tells her that He will not condemn her either and to go and leave her life of sin. She stood before Jesus, the Messiah, the One who will one day announce judgment on us all and was shown mercy, incredible mercy and fairness. In a time in society where women were not often shown kindness or consideration by men, Jesus had compassion, He saw the value of this woman to the kingdom of God. He frees her by reminding men that they do have sins in their lives, only no one challenges them, but their secrets are not secret to God and they lack the right to condemn this woman. A message that we all should do far more examinations of our own hearts, souls and motives than be concerned about someone else’s sin.

I see the Samaritan woman at the well, again an adulteress, who is the first person Jesus reveals Himself to as the promised Messiah and with whom Jesus interacts as no Jewish man would dare interact with a Samaritan woman or man! Jesus is at that well for a divine appointment to meet this one woman. And out of this meeting, out of His love, understanding and great mercy a woman is saved from the fires of hell and goes and tells the others who have long shunned her for her lifestyle who and what Jesus is and by her testimony others come and many are given the same Living Water the Samaritan woman is. Jesus shared the truth of Himself in a straight forward and complete way to another woman that the Law would condemn and John tells us in John 4:4-42.

I see Mary, as Luke describes in Luke 10:38-42, looking up at her sister Martha from her seat at Jesus’ feet when Martha points out that her sister is leaving her to do all the work. My eyes see the blush of embarrassment on Mary’s face as her sister points out her lack of womanly attention to the tasks of being a hostess to not only Jesus but the room filled with other men, the other disciples and her own brother Lazarus and probably others. I imagine she is thinking that Martha is spoiling this for her for now surely Jesus will side with Martha and send her to do the tasks of a hostess, to help Martha. Mary isn’t trying to shirk her responsibilities but how often will she have opportunity to sit and learn from the Messiah Himself? She only wants to be there listening and learning. Why any of them should be concerned about their hunger for physical food when their souls can feast on the spiritual banquet before them? They will eat! Will it matter, really, if all the manners and customs of the day are kept? Then I see the look of relief on her face as Jesus answers Martha by saying, “Martha, Martha, the Lord answered, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”(v41-42)

The picture Luke gives us isn’t of Mary being indulged or pampered as a child or encouraging her as a woman being obsessed with Jesus romantically. In my mind I don’t see Jesus ignoring Mary as she sits there or merely tolerating her presence. Instead I note that He does not send her into the kitchen. I don’t see Him ignoring her questions nor do I see Him addressing her heart issues, though being who He was He surely knew what was in her heart as if by chance but I hear Him allowed her to ask her questions or even address her with a question of His own to help her reveal her own searching. Yet she sat in submission at His feet because of who He was, the Messiah! He is God! Everyone should have sat at His feet.

Finally I see Mary Magdalene and the other women coming to the tomb where Jesus body was supposed to be laying and discovering an empty tomb. I see Mary finding Jesus before her and Him telling her to go and tell His brothers He is alive. A woman is the first to learn of the greatest truth in mankind’s history! (John 20:1-18)

For today this is where I leave you Apostle Paul, you and I both, as well as my readers who are on this journey with me with the images of these women and their unique relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

Until the conclusion,

-Faye

Letters to the Apostle Paul from 2013 #5

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Artwork remains property of artist, all rights reserved. Art by DAVe.

Faye, a Christian in the year 2013, send greetings to the Apostle Paul current resident with all those gone before in service to the Lord Jesus Christ and live with Him already in Heaven. So much I have to write to you!

“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” I Timothy 2:11-15 (Emphasis mine.)

Eve was deceived by Satan. I wonder, as I have for many years, why man seems to skip over a few words in Genesis 3:6-7 that cannot be left out as insignificant. This scripture is as follows (emphasis mine): “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were both naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.”

Adam was with Eve, either when she was deceived or shortly thereafter. The Scriptures don’t say she went looking for him, the Scripture says he “…was with her…” and she gave some to Adam and he ate it. The scripture then says “Then the eyes of both of them were opened,”

They sinned together. How can you then say Eve alone was the sinner? So was Adam. He knew what God had said as well as Eve. God punished them both. Eve by greatly increasing her pain during childbirth and by making Adam her ruler. Adam by cursing the ground so that producing crops to feed himself, Eve and their children would be back-breaking labor.

I find it interesting that you also say in 1 Timothy 2:15, “But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” My question to you is then, how long before woman is no longer cursed? And what is it that woman is saved from by childbearing? Christ Jesus is the Savior of all, all being all, man, woman, child of any color, race, religious background or physical appearance. All. Everyone.

The sweetest reality of grace given to us by our Abba Father and taught in the New Testament is that it is mercy undeserved. The most amazing thing about the forgiveness of God for our sins is that they STAY FORGIVEN. We don’t have to be forgiven for the same sin over and over (although we may have to be forgiven for other acts of the same sin over and over). Once God gives His forgiveness it is forgiven. We may bear the consequences of it, but we’re forgiven nonetheless.

Adam and Eve’s sins forever changed the relationship of humanity to God. We’ve bore the consequences of that sin for so many years it can’t be pinpointed exactly. And if you ask me, though no one does, women have paid not only in the means intended by God but our societies and cultures have used that punishment to continue to punish women for simply being female. God punished Eve and her punishment continues for every woman in history and beyond yet some seem to have determined in his authority of woman to continue to renew that punishment.


You yourself say in Galatians 3:26-29, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Interesting is it not, that it takes both a man and a woman for Abraham to have heirs and yet that is then used as an iron shackle to prevent women from speaking in church, and from doing other things? To one church you expound that in Christ Jesus we all find salvation and He sees us not as “…Jew or Greek, slave nor free, male nor female…” and to others you are saying women must learn in silence and ask questions only at home. You instruct that the order of authority in the home is God rules the man, man rules the woman and children.

And when the husband is wrong? When he hears with tainted ears what you don’t intend to be heard? What if because of the repetition of this theme of women being silent and learning in submission or not “qualifying” to be a pastor or a deacon because they cannot be the husband of one wife or rule their household that man believes you are telling them women are inferior? That women don’t need “education”? That women are good for childbearing and that is it? That submission is the duty of a woman and she is not to question her husband’s ruling?

Yes you also say that man’s ruler is Christ and that man should love his wife as Christ loves the church but that does not alter one bit your stance on women in leadership in church. And it has been misconstrued through the centuries. Women were denied the right too many things, much like the Law of the Israelites denied them. Women could not own property. Women were so ruled by their fathers, brothers and then their husbands that for one to strike her for not performing her duties was considered okay. Women were deemed inferior in all ways and were treated that way for centuries. Women won their freedom from inferiority eventually in most cultures today but there are still some that treat their women as possessions, not as human beings. Women have paid and continue to pay for the consequences of their own sins and the sins of the men in their lives and your words are used to justify that.

I also have to admit that women today, in America and other countries where the evolution of time has passed, women are treated with much more respect and equality than the ones who came before us.

At least it is illegal in this country for a man to abuse his wife and children. Women can be employed outside the home and be successful in many of the same jobs as men. We can vote. Some denominations of Christianity allow women to be led by God and fulfill the roles in churches God has set aside for them. Simply that I will be able in an hour to tap a few buttons and publish this into a virtual world for whoever to read as they will proves that women today are no longer the complete unequal’s of men in the majority of areas of life in America.

And yet, sadly, this has also brought upon us its own issues and difficulties. For women too are human and our pride and vanity can be appealed to and we are not incapable of making wrong decisions ourselves. Not incapable of sinning and that sins consequences, like Eve’s for us, to seep into generations to come.

Yet, I don’t think that’s what you meant to have happen nor is any of this your fault, only your bias and the culture in which you were alive offered a perspective that has been used to the advantage of those in power. How?

 

In 1 Corinthians 14:34 you wrote women should learn in submission as the Law says; yet in Galatians 3:23 you tell the Galatians, and now us, that we are no longer prisoners of the Law. You also say clearly that, “…I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” (I Timothy 2:11) Not God does not permit but you do not permit. Clearly you knew the Law jot and tittle. Fact is that you had been married and apparently were no more either by being widowed or divorce and you had a clear dislike for the female gender as a whole. Whether because you were emotionally wounded by the desertion of women in your life or by their deaths, you were unable to look at the female gender as you did the individuals females in your life. The question then becomes how we should take your instructions to apply in the 21st century?

Remaining steadfast in the storm,

-Faye


 

Letters to the Apostle Paul in the Year 2013 – #2


Faye, a sinner saved by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in accordance with the will of the Father, a believer seeking freedom from chains and opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ; to the Apostle Paul who died a martyr for Christ in A.D. 66 and now a resident of Heaven, continually in the presence of God: Grace and peace in the name of our Savior on this 26th day of June in the year 2013.

Though I have no wish to offend you Apostle Paul, or in the least to be disrespectful, I confess I am alarmingly annoyed by the task set before me by God to ask of you answers for questions from a century and time you cannot possibly know or comprehend. How can I adequately express to you the burden the words you penned nearly 2000 years ago have caused and continue to cause for women especially? Can I hold you accountable for the actions of many men and women who have read your letters and determined courses of action that weren’t, perhaps, intended? How can I ask you to explain why you were led by God to pen what you wrote? You? The Apostle Paul?

Am I to dare to question a man who gave his life in the service of God to reach the Gentiles with the message of the Messiah’s arrival, crucifixion and triumph over death for our sins? I, a Gentile and a female to boot, who am I to ask these things? Who am I to seek you out, one who saw on earth the Lord Jesus and reside with Him now in paradise?

Since my letter of yesterday I have been unable to escape the weight of the task I have taken up. It has gnawed at my soul since I hit the publish button yesterday.

See, there in itself is difference in your world and mine that I am without words to help you understand. You, who dictated your letters to a man who wrote your words on parchment and those precious letters were then entrusted to fellow believers to carry to their intended recipient. While I am blessed to sit and use a device called a laptop computer and type my words, go back and edit them, pray my way through them and by clicking on one icon leave them for the discovery of any number of people, in a few seconds?

Forgive me Apostle Paul if what expressed to you by me is spoken so frankly it offends you yet I know no other way to say this; “Did it not ever occur to you to write your own full testimony? I am reeling from the shock of learning you were indeed a man who had been married, if not married after your decision to follow Christ. In all the times you wrote instructions for men and women who were married, single, widowed – did it not occur to you to tell us of your own marriage experience? In your first letter to the Corinthians you wrote, “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord)…” and just a sentence or so later you wrote, “To the rest I say this, (I, not the Lord)…”. So you were aware of when you were interjecting Paul’s viewpoint when you wrote, and yet it never occurred to you to tell us why you felt that it was best that if a man had a wife who was not a believer or vice versa it was best to remain married if they had no objection? Why not say, “I tell you this from personal experience?”

Instead you chose to remain silent and your bitter attitude toward the female gender as a whole comes shining through while your willingness and gratitude toward individual women you encountered is also apparent. Your choice to not share this information at some point in one of your letters or in Luke’s decision not to include it in Acts – oh the burden it has been!

And yet you never imagined your letters would comprise the majority of the New Testament portion of our Bible today. You were writing to people you had interacted personally with, who would have known your personal testimony more thoroughly. Didn’t they?

The time, the culture, the world is so different now! We are in need of an Apostle Paul among us, although, in fact, we have several though the need for more continues and to fill this need there are women who are stepping up, women who long to step up but feel strangled by your instructions to remain silent and have no authority over a man and time is ticking away! How much longer will God wait to send Jesus to earth again? How long before the antichrist rises to power? How long before more people who wander blindly through life have the scales drop from their own eyes and find themselves deceived?

The time grows short again Apostle Paul and I must close this letter. Tomorrow though I must approach you with your own words again and I pray you do not find me an annoying female stepping outside the boundaries of God’s expectations.

In the service of Christ,

-Faye

Letters to the Apostle Paul in the Year 2013 – 1


Faye, a sinner saved by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in accordance with the will of the Father, to the Apostle Paul who died a martyr for Christ in A.D. 66 and now a resident of Heaven, continually in the presence of God: Grace and peace in the name of our Savior on this 25th day of June in the year 2013.

Your life on earth ended 1947 years ago if my math is correct. Mine would not begin until 1898 years later, in the year 1964. So therefore, Apostle Paul, you do not know me. My name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, which is our common ground, but unless for some reason God would let you know about my life while you are in Heaven with Him you know nothing of me. I state this in what seems an obvious fact to me, for what reason would God have to bring me to your attention? None that I can see.

I live in the United States of America, a country not in existence in your day, but one you would surely want to come and evangelize if you were alive. I am blessed to live here with a freedom still to worship God in the ways taught to me by my parents and through many preachers, teachers and friends in many bodies of Believers. Though I have very specific reasons for writing this letter to you I am led to give you first an overview of how radically different our daily lives are compared to the people in your time.

What I write I realize will most likely be beyond comprehension for you. I am not even sure you can believe me as I describe for you about life on earth today. Simply put we’ve got a LOT more STUFF that is supposed to be making our lives easier than was even available for you to consider having. (However like the people of your time many are caught up in owning as much as possible, whether they need it or not, simply to feel they are better than those who do not have these things and because they find pleasure in owning and using what are indeed, unbelievable and fine possessions.)

There are over 7 billion people on the earth today in 196 countries. Some of those countries are so technologically advanced it is next door to scary and others are not that radically different from those you knew when you were here. Compared to your life of 63-64 years my life of 49 years – well you probably couldn’t even comprehend it. That’s part of the reason for this letter.

All of the issues you had in your world then we have here now. Even in the church. False gods. Idolatry. Charlatans. People in need. People pretending to be in need. Grumbling. Complaining. Lying. Stealing. Gossip. Sexual immorality. Homosexuality. Prostitution. Weak Christians. False Christians. Christians deceived by the lies of Satan who in turn lead others away from Jesus. Hunger. Poverty. Times when everything doctors know can’t keep someone alive and sometimes what they know has them anxious to pretend they are God. Our modern day medicine can heal and there are times it fails. We have this thing called technology and it is threatening to over-run our lives. More needs than we have people willing to help meet those needs. As Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

See, you wrote a lot of letters to a lot of churches when you were ministering to the Gentiles after God got your attention with being blinded by Jesus on the road to Damascus. We have this amazingly, wonderful book called the Holy Bible, or just the Bible, and it has all of the scriptures you learned from as a boy and man in the Jewish synagogue. The first five books are the Torah. This section of books, which contain the Law, prophecies and the stories of the saints from prior to Jesus being born and it is called the Old Testament.

The writings we believe are God inspired and revealed to men who wrote them down after Jesus began His ministry on earth are in the Bible in the section called the New Testament. There are 27 “books” in this section of the Bible. Matthew, Mark, James and Jude penned one apiece; Luke and Peter authored two each, John wrote 5 and you wrote 14. Over half the New Testament is written by you and most of Acts is about you and your missionary journeys, conversion to Christianity and your life before that.

It is difficult, as I am sure you can believe if you accept the truth of the numbers I’ve given you on the make-up of the New Testament, to study the scriptures within it without studying your writings. Now I know you had no idea over 1947 years ago that any of your letters would survive beyond maybe several years, certainly not for over 1947 years! Life was so different then. Life is so different now.

Which is one of the biggest reasons I have for writing you. To read your writings it can be and has been thought for man that women’s roles in church are severely limited. Honestly Apostle Paul men have used your instructions to “keep women in their place”. Both in the home, in society and in the church. And frankly, it seems to me as I read and re-read the scriptures penned by you that you have a very contradictory attitude toward women.

On one hand you worked with them in new church starts and welcomed their service. On the other you blast them and order them to be quiet. As individuals you seemed to welcome the involvement of women in your ministry but as a gender overall it seems you held us in some distain. It does make me wonder if perhaps a man by the name of John Pollock in his book, The Apostle: A Life of Paul was right when he wrote that one had to wonder if you were bitter towards women. We know from your own writings you were not married, yet we also know in order to have been a member of the Sanhedrin you had to be married and a parent. From this one concludes either you lost your wife in death or that she did not follow you into the life of a Believer of Jesus Christ. In your time Apostle Paul you kept dictating your letters until all God wanted you to say was finished. That is why your letters are referred to as books in our day. However in our day, to send a letter as lengthy as the one I foresee me writing, also led of Christ to do so, would be longer than someone would sit and read in one session. Therefore, I am closing for now, to pick up my correspondence with you again later.

Meanwhile, I hope you will consider replying to this letter to help me understand your mind-set in general towards women.

In the fellowship of our Savior,

-Faye

Renewing


“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2 NIV

It is a lovely spring morning in Alabama. Out in the rural area I live in, in a small “town” there are still the sounds of multiple birds chirping, bees buzzing, roosters crowing, hens clucking, the occasional swish of tires on the street outside my front door. But here, on our back porch, even within easy sight of houses and sheds it feels as if I am alone in the screened in womb of which I’ve become quite attached too recently. Having my quiet time with God out here with a good cup of coffee has been a “want to” of mine since I started my flowers, vegetables and herbs growing.

Being out here, regardless of the time of day, renews my heart. Being out here, reading God’s word, renews my mind. Being out here, praying and seeking God’s will renews my spirit. Because those parts of me are renewed then I am renewed also in the roles of my life. As a Believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. As a student of the Scriptures. As a wife. As a mother. As a sister. As an aunt. As a church member. As a friend. As a writer. The list is shorter these days since my disability retirement, but I’m learning that this too is a renewing.

It is extra special this year that the seasons of my life are in alignment with the seasons of nature. Winter, with its cold winds and icy rains, dark skies and short days seemed endless but it too matched my season of life. My depression deepened. My hope diminished. My spirit sought shelter from the harshness of winter. Because I found that shelter in Christ then just as the earth warmed and the season changed so did I.

And of course Easter arrives with spring and the resurrection reminders can’t help but put one’s mind toward renewed life, renewed faith.

As a female, I willingly confess to you, that I often wondered if I was losing touch with my “female” side when I was in the work force. Even during the time I was in ministry. For many years, all but ten months of my time in the ministry, I was without husband or child. It was easier to work long hours, nurture other’s children and youth and work seven days a week to meet the demands of the congregation. Yet it was during this time I found myself losing my “female” side.

It wasn’t welcomed as easily in a Southern Baptist church as it would have been in another denomination. There were times other ministers, who were male, would “put me in my place” quite clearly and sometimes not with an attempt of kindness. I never desired to a senior pastor position or one that would require my preaching. It was only towards the end of my time in ministry when I had at last been able to enjoy some formal seminary training and was asked to teach what I had learned to small groups in our church that I lead a group that had adult men in it that was focused mainly on Scripture. But I learned you had to have a thick skin to be a female in ministry if you wanted that “title”. It was important to me to be able to say I was the youth minister for my church. It was easier for others if I used the title youth director. I knew other male counterparts in the same line of work I was with the same credentials and no one had a problem with them being a “minister” yet allowing a female to use that title was a touchy issue most of the time. So I learned to “think like a man” more than “like a woman” in ministry. I wasn’t always successful, but I was far more than I believe people realized and in doing so I lost touch with my “female” side.

Once I made the transition into the non-profit work field my ability to cater more to my male attributes was something that allowed me success. I remember the day we received word that one of our counselors had passed away unexpectedly in New Orleans where he grew up and had taken a brief and unplanned trip that weekend. When my supervisor told me, even though by then due to circumstances and some unusual phone calls I already suspected the truth, when she told me Keith had passed away it brought tears to my eyes and pain to my heart. Just at that time I was reeling with the shock and news a delivery of office supplies arrived. My supervisor stood there in amazement as my “professional” side immediately took over and the delivery man left never knowing anything was wrong. “How did you do that?” she asked. “One second you’re nearly crying and clearly upset and the next you can’t tell a thing is wrong with you!”

For me the trick to being a female in a male dominated field is to learn how to separate what you’re doing with your emotions. I called it “boxing up your emotions”.

The upside of this is that I learned to look at situations and issues from many different viewpoints before making a decision and to be concise about it. The downside was that when I needed my ability to be female, to center on my intuition as a female I often had to struggle to identify it, it was no longer an automatic part of me.

God’s word more than the warmer air around me or the sounds and sights of nature awakening after their dormant season has created a renewing in me. My world, in many ways, has gotten smaller. And I find that subjects I thought God and I were finished with, such as the role of women in ministry and especially pastoring are rearing their heads from dormancy. I’ve had a very good friend who is a pastor and a male challenge my belief of what scripture says regarding this topic. Suddenly I have a deeper longing to “know God’s word” than ever before in my life. Not to know it intellectually as much as to know it in my heart. There is a difference in having the knowledge of a subject and a knowledge of it that creates a passion in you to have it be a living, breathing part of you.

And too I must make my life a living sacrifice for Christ daily, minute by minute. Nothing in living the Believer’s life is ever a “single” aspect, all things are as connected as the body parts Paul uses to describe the Body of Believers known as the church in I Corinthians 12:12-26.

Spring gives us many opportunities to think about renewal in our own lives. I hope this spring finds you renewing your spiritual self as well as any other part that may be in need of a fresh breath of springtime air.

In Christ’s Love,

-Faye