“We are in a crisis: pandemic, racist violence, political uncertainty, cultural clashes, economic downturn. All this is exposing fragility of our lives and calls our way of life as individuals and society into question. The truth is we must be confronted with fragility and death to seek a more promising life. That’s Jesus: the healthy do not need—and do not seek—a doctor.
We are sick and yet, faced with death, most of us crave not a new life, but the life we’ve always known, the very life whose cracks the crisis is exposing. —Miroslav Volf
Ponder also what Professor Volf has to say about repentance in his incredible book Exclusion and Embrace. This book is not a quick read. That’s said, it is deep, rich, and utterly profound—without question one of the best books I’ve ever read! It couldn’t be more timely either, given our current crisis.
“God is shaking his daughters awake and summoning us to engage. His vision for us is affirming and raises the bar for all of us. We cannot settle for less. We have work to do. There’s a kingdom to build, and what we do truly matters. Our compass is fixed on Jesus. We can no longer listen to those who call us to love him with less than all our heart and soul and strength and mind. We may not have titles, position, or power in the eyes of others, but leadership is in our DNA. The call to rule and subdue places kingdom responsibility on our shoulders. Conflict draws us out. And as we answer God’s call, our brother will be first to benefit.” —Half the Church
If you are, or know someone who is, a woman in ministry leadership or who aspires to a career in ministry, Lead Bold should be on your radar.
The 2020 Lead Bold Conference is set for Saturday, September 12, 9:00am-3:30pm/PT. The Coronavirus pandemic made an in-person conference out of the question. But the Lead Bold leadership team persevered and are moving forward with a virtual conference, which could, in the long run, reach more women across the country and beyond.
This California-based gathering of kindred spirits is designed to equip women ministry leaders “to be refueled, revived, and refocused.” With all the the changes, isolation, and catastrophic loss of life, health, and jobs that Covid-19 has brought to our lives and communities, the value of such a ministry is hard to overstate. Ministry comes with responsibility to care for and support others. Under these dire circumstances, ministry can be exhausting, and leaders face their own struggles too.
Anyone who has access to a computer can attend via ZOOM. I’m looking forward to participating as a speaker.
For more information and to register go here. And help spread the word to others who may be interested!
Recent events remind us that abuse against women, even in the hallowed halls of Congress, is alive and well in our nation.
Last Thursday, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, took a stand on the House floor to raise awareness of and to condemn abusive conduct against women and girls—after an unpleasant encounter on the steps of the capital with her Republican colleague, Rep. Ted Soho. Soho had used obscene language to demean Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who responded in a speech described in the Washington Post as “a comeback of a lifetime.”
She was prepared to let the matter drop, until Soho raised the subject himself in the House and defended his behavior by pointing out that he is a husband and the father of two daughters. According to AOC,
And that I could not let go. I could not allow my nieces, I could not allow the little girls that I go home to, I could not allow victims of verbal abuse and, worse, to see that—to see that excuse and to see our Congress accept it as legitimate and accept it as an apology and to accept silence as a form of acceptance, I could not allow that to stand.
Her “comeback speech” lit up the Internet. Her detractors and supporters had plenty to say and responded as expected. But she earned new respect from others who applauded her courage and her willingness to use her national platform and her power as a U.S. Congresswoman to engage the abuse pandemic on behalf of others.
One response on Twitter was especially poignant and worth repeating as it cuts to the heart of Part 2 of the #MeToo/#ChurchToo Pandemic discussion below between Paul Metzger and me. The response centers on AOC’s statement about daughters:
Mr. Yoho mentioned that he has a wife and two daughters. I am two years younger than Mr. Yoho’s youngest daughter. I am someone’s daughter too.
My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr. Yoho treated his daughter. My mother got to see Mr. Yoho’s disrespect . . . and I am here because I have to show my parents that I am their daughter and that they did not raise me to accept abuse from men.
That last line drew this response on twitter:
AOC said that her parents didn’t raise her to accept abuse from men. A friend said, in response, that she realized when she heard it that her parents DID raise her to accept abuse from men. So did mine. So did an entire culture. And now I can’t stop thinking about it.
Part 2 of the New Wine Tastings series focuses on the root causes of abuse that perpetuate the #MeToo/#ChurchToo pandemic to the next generation. Some of the roots are cultural, systemic, and multi-generational. Some are theological and have Bible verses to enforce them.
One generation passes on to the next generation flawed teaching about masculinity and femininity, male/female relationships, about power and authority, silence and submission. And the cycle keeps repeating. In the church, these teachings are sanctified as “biblical” and set in stone, instead of subjecting them to the scrutiny of the whole of scripture and to the radical, life-reconfiguring teachings and example of Jesus—God’s perfect image bearer.
“Women have been taught, by every cultural force imaginable, that we must be ‘nice’ and ‘quiet’ and and ‘polite,’ that we must ‘protect others’ feelings before our own. That we are there for other’s pleasure.”\
We undermine efforts to to address abuse against women and children that surface in the church and elsewhere if we fail to uproot the faulty teachings and theological systems that create an environment that is conducive to abuse in the first place.
Part 2 of the #MeToo/#ChurchTooPandemic examines some of the root causes and points to the Bible’s #MeToo stories as an important resource in raising awareness and preventing further abuse.
Coronavirus isn’t the only pandemic currently destroying human lives.
Although Covid-19 remains a deadly threat to human lives around the world and warrants a serious response from all of us, we cannot afford to allow this pandemic to turn our focus away from other sinister global forces that persist in actively destroying human lives on a staggering scale.
The brutal death of George Floyd again turned public attention to the pandemic of systemic racism—a history-old pandemic that hasn’t declined. Floyd’s desperate yet unheeded cry for mercy “I can’t breathe!” recharged the #BlackLivesMatter movement which large segments of the U.S. population still don’t understand, sparking nation-wide angry protests against police brutality.
The investigative reporting of NYTimes journalists into sexual abuse allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein triggered the #MeToo/#ChurchToo pandemic. The courage of a few prominent women who spoke out about the sexual abuse they’d suffered emboldened other women (men too) to speak up. The #MeToo hashtag created by Tarana Burke went viral, followed in short order by a tsunami of #ChurchToo tweets making visible a pandemic of sexual violence against women that continues to fester both outside and inside the church, even though for the moment other pandemics have eclipsed it.
After I gave a series of lectures in June on #MeToo/#ChurchToo for Professor Paul Metzger’s DMin cohort at Multnomah Seminary in Portland, Oregon, he pressed me for an additional interview to call the attention of a wider audience to the ongoing destructive #MeToo/#ChurchToo pandemic.
He and I have collaborated on several projects—including co-teaching seminary classes at Missio Seminary in Philly and Multnomah Seminary in Portland, Oregon. I am blessed to call him my friend and to share our conversation with you.
“This for me is the defining argument for diversity: Diversity is the best way to defend equality. If people from diverse groups are not making the decisions, the burdens and benefits of society will be divided unequally and unfairly—with the people writing the rules ensuring themselves a greater share of the benefits and a lesser share of the burdens of any society.
If you’re not brought in, you get sold out. Your life will be worth twenty shekels. No group should have to trust another person to protect their interests; all should be able to speak for themselves.
That’s why we have to include everyone in the decisions that shape our cultures, because even the best of us are blinded by our own interests.”
Global catastrophes change the world, and this pandemic is very much akin to a major war. Even if we contain the Covid-19 crisis within a few months, the legacy of this pandemic will live with us for years, perhaps decades to come. It will change the way we move, build, learn, and connect. There is simply no way that our lives will resume as if this had never happened.”
Having suffered through some of the world’s worst catastrophes, people who aren’t strangers to suffering can give us a truer perspective. Professor Ahmad’s point of view (indeed her whole life) has been shaped by living in “conditions of war, violent conflict, poverty, and disaster in many places around the world. . . . food shortages and disease outbreaks, as well as long periods of social isolation, restricted movement, and confinement.”
She reminds us that trouble, suffering, and the hard places of life always leave their mark—either creating bitterness and hardness or deepening us with what she describes as a “wisdom born of suffering, because calamity is a great teacher.”
That’s a statement that cannot be taken too seriously and warrants deeper probing. I think of Job and Naomi. How much can we learn from the suffering they both endured and the questions about God their losses compelled them to ask? How do the life and teachings of Jesus and the letters of his apostles frame today’s deadly pandemic with hope and give us the courage we need to keep going?
We are all struggling, fearful, and wondering when this will all stop. We’re understandably worried over the staggering loss of life and livelihood that Covid-19 will leave in its wake. We could all use a bracing word of hope.
To ease the isolation and disorientation of the pandemic, they’re offering a free downloadable resource of the Gospel Luke and the book of Acts, along with everything you need for a two-week community book club to do online with friends, at home with family, or on your own.
IFBR’s goal is to help people read and understand the Bible. To that end, they’ve republished the New Living Bible (NLT) translation in an inviting format that restores the beauty of the biblical text before all the chapter and verse numbers were added. They’ve included helpful introductions and background information for each book of the Bible.
Whole church congregations are now immersed in reading the Bible together with small group book clubs meeting for discussions.
I’ve been an advocate for IFBR’s Immerse Bible Reading series from the start and am honored to serve on their Advisory Board. I love this new approach and the NLT. I’m currently reading Paul’s epistles in the Immerse New Testament volume Messiahalong with The New Testament in Its World—the newly released 4.5 pound New Testament introduction co-authored by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird. What a feast!
So download Immerse from Home and savor the encouragement that comes from Jesus’ life, ministry, death, resurrection, and the power of his love for you. Draw hope from the ongoing life-changing work of his Spirit against all odds in the history of the early church and into the present. We need these strong reminders today that God has not abandoned us but is in the struggle with us. We have solid reasons for hope, for he is still moving his good purposes forward for us and for his world.
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted life in ways no one could have imagined. It brought an abrupt halt to conferences, church services, sporting events, and other large gatherings. The devastating power of this microscopic virus is mind-boggling: the rapid spread, the heartbreaking loss of life, the shattering spike in unemployment, and the terrible toll on health care workers and first responders. Who would believe a virus could sweep over the globe and radically alter life as we once knew it?
It would be bad enough if the only global problem facing us was Covid-19. But as we all know, other serious global issues that predate Covid-19 continue unabated and could easily qualify as pandemics. While all of us are understandably focused on coronavirus, these issues persist and are impacting lives around the globe in destructive ways—poverty, racism, violence against women, displaced populations, to name a few.
One of those pandemics is patriarchy.
Patriarchy (“father rule”) is a social system that surfaced after the fall as a consequence of sin. It privileges and empowers men over women and some men over other men in sharp contrast with the Creator’s vision for humanity (Genesis 1-2). As stories of men in the Bible reveal, patriarchy is destructive to men as well as women. Beginning with Cain and Abel, history chronicles the horrific saga of men killing other men.
Throughout history and still today patriarchy has impacted every human culture. The fact that patriarchy appears on virtually every page of the Bible has led to the assumption that the Bible endorses patriarchy—that to maintain “biblical” gender relationships we must preserve some elements of this social system.
For Christians the prominence of patriarchy on the pages of the Bible means patriarchy is important for a variety of reasons, regardless of what our personal views may be of that cultural system. . . . Beginning with Abraham, God chose patriarchs living in a patriarchal culture to launch his rescue effort for the world. Events in the Bible play out within a patriarchal context. But patriarchy is not the Bible’s message. Rather, it is the fallen cultural backdrop that sets off in the strongest relief the radical nature and potency of the Bible’s gospel message.(p.31)
The original plans were to record this podcast in Costa Mesa, CA in March at the Society for Pentecostal Studies 2020 Conference where my topic was “Dismantling Patriarchy and Recovering the Blessed Alliance.” They wanted to know how I got into the work I do, what I mean when I say patriarchy is the backdrop not the message of the Bible, and more.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus compelled the cancellation of the conference, so we recorded long-distance instead.
She knows before you do all the reasons she should stay quiet. No one will believe a woman who used to dance with demons. A woman who used to dance. A woman who used to. A woman who used. A woman.
It’s hardly a secret when they’re talking about you All the whispers in the world sound a lot like shouting.
How will they ever hear her over their idea of her? She’s heard all the voices but her own. She knows from watching him how words can kill and death can take you by force a day at a time a breath at a time.
They will likely say: “She sees things that aren’t there,” But He said: “Let go of what isn’t yours to hold.”
And when you know before anyone else: The clothes that covered death are folded and in their place, When you know: life is on the move and everyone might miss it.
When you know, because the grave in you is now a temple, You clear your throat, find your voice, and tell anyone who will listen, “Love is on his feet again.”