"The moment the word 'why' crosses your lips, you are doing theology."
—When Life & Beliefs Collide                

Monday, March 23, 2015

Join the Future of Synergy!

The Missio Alliance welcome mat is out for the Synergy Women's Network, and we are walking through that door!

May 7-9 is our first opportunity to join this national gathering. Besides promising to be an outstanding conference, the Missio Alliance 2015 Conference—BEING TRULY HUMAN:
RE-IMAGINING THE RESURRECTIONAL LIFE—is going to be a joyous Synergy reunion. The women you see above will all be there.

We'll also have plenty of opportunity to contribute to the conference content and to practice what we've been preaching about wanting a Blessed Alliance with our Christian brothers.

Here's the Missio Alliance Special Synergy Invitation with all the information you'll need. Even if you're not a part of Synergy (yet!), check this out and come!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Ezer-Kenegdo: Ezer Unleashed

"My first serious encounter with my calling as an ezer happened in the middle of the night. It was around 3:00 a.m., and it changed my life. I wasn’t tossing and turning in bed, but wide awake, pouring over books, smuggling volumes out of my husband’s study, and searching for answers. I felt like a detective and I knew I was onto something. For years I had been troubled by interpretations of Eve that left me and a lot of other women out in the cold. I was looking for answers, but I was not at all braced for what I was about to find."

To read the full article (an excerpt from Half the Church) go here: www.faithgateway.com

I love to see this message spreading!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Five Brave Women . . . and More


"God alone lights the way out of the darkness in Genesis. But in Exodus, God has many partners, first among them, five brave women.”
—Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt

This morning Huffington Post/Religion ran Lauren Marko's great story on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's commentary for passover in which Justice Ginsburg draws out the stories of women who play powerful roles in the Exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. "Yocheved, Moses’ mother, and Miriam, his sister. . . . Shifra and Puah, the midwives who rejected Pharoah’s decree to kill all the Jewish baby boys. . . . and Batya, Pharoah’s daughter, who plucked baby Moses out of the Nile River."

Read "With New Commentary, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Turns Passover Into A Feminist Celebration Of Biblical Women" for yet another reminder of why it is so important for men and women to study the Bible together. Together we see so much more, and there is so much more to discover!

And for the record, God has many brave women partners in Genesis too!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Sociology Professor Assesses Half the Church

Matt Vos is a husband, the father of two daughters, and a college sociology professor with a lot of gifted female students—all reasons for him to read Half the Church.  Which he did, after his wife read it first and kept reading parts to him.

Not only did he read the book himself, now he has his students reading it. 

His wife, a professional guidance counselor (who also read Half the Sky), described Half the Church as "invigorating and inspiring." His female students were "energized" by the book. He felt strongly enough about it to write a review essay, just published in the March issue of Dordt College's Pro Rege Journal.

In the review he writes,
"In the Evangelical community in which we are centered, my wife and daughters almost never see visible symbols reminding them that women’s leadership is important and valued, let alone vital. However, on the male side of the gender divide, my son and I continually observe men (like us), and the symbols they produce, guiding and shaping the institutions that frame our collective lives. I’ve come to see this imbalance as equally problematic for my son and my daughters."
—Matthew S. Vos, 
Professor of Sociology

Here's the link to the entire essay (third article in this issue, starts on page 19):

Carolyn Custis James’ Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women: A Review Essay

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Off to Balmy Boise!

After the worst storm of the winter—incredibly beautiful but disruptive (my flight for this morning got cancelled)—I'm heading to Boise in the morning and looking forward to a warm weekend with the women of Cole Community Church.

Temperatures are supposed to be in the 60s. Who knew Boise was so warm in March!?

I love the theme of this conference, which was inspired by Hagar's story, and am eager to meet another great group of women and warm up too.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Synergy Challenge

I remember it like it was yesterday.

It was our second Synergy Conference. Zondervan had just released my second book, Lost Women of the Bible. I had spoken for the first time on Eve and God's vision for his image bearing daughters as ezer-warriors in a Blessed Alliance with his sons.

It was a pivotal moment for Synergy. The room was electric. It was clear, during the interaction that followed, that the women were energized by that vision as they expressed their passion to live into it. They embraced their identity as ezer-warriors and wanted to shout "ezer" from the rooftops. But as enthusiastic as these ezer-warriors were for their recovered birthright, more than anything they wanted to see that Blessed Alliance become a reality.

This year Synergy reached another pivotal moment.

By becoming part of Missio Alliance we not only have regained a national forum in which to continue supporting and learning from each other, we have joined a predominantly male organization as committed as we are to the Blessed Alliance God envisioned in the beginning. I've been to a couple of the Missio conferences, and already I've seen evidence of their dissatisfaction with the gender status quo in the church. They want to see things change.

Not to suggest the path before us will be easy, for the oneness Jesus calls us to faces many obstacles—gender is only one of them. And we already know from experience that the process of forging strong partnerships for the gospel can be messy and even painful. But this opportunity is truly golden and utterly worthwhile.

What ezer-warrior in her right mind would walk away from a challenging opportunity like this?!

Come Join us at the 2015 Mission Alliance this conference—those of you who are part of Synergy and those who are new to us and/or new to Missio Alliance.

The conference is May 7-9 in Alexandria, Virginia.
  • Friday morning Zondervan is sponsoring a special Synergy Breakfast Event where I'll be speaking.
  • Conference presenters include Synergy women: Natasha Sistrunk Robinson, Judy Douglass, Halee Gray Scott, Lesa Engelthaler, Nikki Toyama-Szeto, and yours truly.
  • To register go here.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Call to Pray for the Persecuted Church

Christians in the Middle East are suffering. They are also leading the way by living out their Christian faith within the furnace of brutal persecution. Many believers—young and old—have suffered violent deaths with the love of Jesus on their lips.

The mass beheadings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian men—the latest horror in a litany of barbaric ISIS executions of countless Christians—is prompting Christians in the West to rise up together in an urgent call to prayer. This call comes on the heels of a video published by HuffingtonPost/Religion where a grieving Beshir Kamel, elder brother of two of the martyred men, Bishoy Astafanus Kamel (25) and Samuel Astafanus Kamels (23), responds to his losses as a believer whose feet are planted firmly on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. He is unbending in his pride of two younger brothers who died for their faith, calling them "a pride to Christianity." Along with his grieving mother, he is forgiving of his enemies and extends a hand of grace and hospitality to his brothers' ISIS executioners.
"My mother, an uneducated woman in her sixties, said she would ask [the killer] to enter her house and ask God to open his eyes because he was the reason her sons entered the kingdom of heaven." 
"Dear God," Kamel prayed, "please open their eyes to be saved and to quit their ignorance and the wrong teachings they were taught."

Kamel's example is a call for the rest of us to join in praying for those who are persecuted as well as for those who persecute them. Jesus' Gospel is powerful and large and his Spirit easily penetrates behind enemy lines.

Last night, Gabe Lyons sent out this announcement and the video at the top of this post that can be downloaded from the 21martyrs.com website:
I know it's late on a Friday evening but this couldn't wait. Over the last 48 hours we have focused our creativity and resources on supporting an appropriate response to the 21 Egyptian Christian martyrs. In partnership with many other leaders and organizations, our team created 21martyrs.com as a simple place to call for action in two specific ways:
FIRST: Join thousands of churches for a 'Moment of Silence and Prayer' this SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 22nd and play this video before offering a prayer of reflection. 
Please invite other church leaders in your area to participate as well for a moment of unity.  
SECOND: Engage the growing PRAY 703 initiative created by Ann Voskamp to guide us towards repentance and renewal during this Season of Lent at 7:03 each day. Use #Pray703 on twitter to follow her posts and mobilize others to join in here.
I'm thankful for your participation.
Please join this rising tide of prayer and help spread the word to others.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Something to ponder . . .

"Jesus doesn’t give an explanation for the pain and sorrow of the world. He comes where the pain is most acute and takes it upon himself. Jesus doesn’t explain why there is suffering, illness, and death in the world. He brings healing and hope. He doesn’t allow the problem of evil to be the subject of a seminar. He allows evil to do its worst to him. He exhausts it, drains its power, and emerges with new life. The resurrection says, more clearly than anything else can, 'There is a God, and he is the creator of the world we know, and he is the father of Jesus, Israel’s Messiah.' That is the first part of the good news about God."

                                    —N.T. Wright, Simply Good News:  
                                        Why The Gospel is Good News 
                                         and What Makes It Good

Read more on Scot McKnight's blog, Jesus Creed: Deconstructing the Bully God

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Orange is the New Pink

Kathy Woodward

"You have cancer."

Those three words still sound utterly alien to me. They came from the doctor who was explaining to Frank and me the meaning of the starburst-shaped intruder in my lung. But once those three words hit the airwaves, they cannot be retracted. And, as I was soon to learn, those are "fightin' words" even when, as in my case, the cancer is mercifully caught early.

Needless to say it was an unexpected encouragement to hear from Kathy Woodward who attended a conference in California where I spoke about the ezer last February just days before my diagnosis. She wanted me to know how that ezer message steeled her for the moment four months later when she would hear those same three fightin' words and she embraced her ezer-warrior self at a whole new level.

She gave me permission to publish the poem she wrote as she journaled her battle with cancer in the hope that it will encourage others who are engaged in this battle (as it does me) and the many other battles God calls his daughters and sons to engage. Her grandkids joined the battle with her by making the paper chain she is holding with words of encouragement and verses for her to read each week.

Orange Is the New Pink 
Don’t give me pink! Pink is soft, tender blooms in spring, baby’s skin. Pink is NOT me.
Breast Cancer is not pink,
                        not pretty,
               not girlie.
     And definitely not for WARRIORS!
Breast Cancer is walking on fire, step by step through smoldering flames. Hard to see across.
Each step painful, but with God, each step is a miracle and a necessity to arrive to the other side.

FIRE is orange, it is a bold color. BOLD is for WARRIORS and I AM a warrior!
Orange shouts from the mountaintop, or shocks the eye in a painted sunset.
Cancer requires one to be a bold warrior. (An “Ezer” —or warrior— was designed to reflect God’s own character.)
               Prepared for battle
     Armed with Him
NO FEAR. Ready to move forward into unknown territory, even if what awaits is not seen.
But trusting.
Give me ORANGE. In my weakness, help me be BOLD. I am a warrior when He is with me.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Think Fast and Act Quickly!

The WhitbyForum website has gone silent for several months. But as any parent of small children knows, silence doesn't necessarily mean nothing is happening. The past few months (actually all of 2014) may have slowed my blogging efforts, but this has been an intensely busy and productive time. At least I have plenty to show for it.

Frank and I have moved out of the Hobbit Hole and are now living above ground, albeit still with boxes to unpack and pictures to hang. We've enjoyed a wonderful holiday with our daughter and her family. I'm making steady progress on my recovery from surgery. And in May, (no small miracle) my next book—Malestrom: Manhood Swept into the Currents of a Changing Worldcomes out. I'm now an adjunct faculty member at BTS (Biblical Theological Seminary) and will be teaching a course on The Gospel of Ruth this Spring.

More about all of this shortly.

One of the biggest surprises of 2014 was the migration of Synergy from a stand-alone organization into our new home as part of the Missio Alliance. Here's the announcement: "Breaking Synergy News!"

I've already been to a couple Missio conferences, and I am convinced this is a marriage made in heaven. Here are just a few reasons why I'm excited about this development:
  • We are joining an organization where the men are firmly committed to women in ministry leadership. They've already demonstrated that commitment in a variety of significant ways, not the least of which has been their active pursuit of Synergy to become part of their organization. 
  • The Missio Alliance Conference—coming up in May 7-9 in Alexandra, Virginia—gives us a way to reunite and resume building the strategic relationships that have enabled us to do a better job of answering God's calling on our lives. Friendships with other Synergy women mean we are no longer alone, but are strengthened by the friendship, support, and wisdom of other women in ministry leadership.  
  • Missio Alliance leadership is eager/determined to explore and embody the Blessed Alliance between men and women that is part of Synergy's DNA. The partnership between Synergy and Missio Alliance gives us the opportunity to take this commitment to a whole new level as we work actively with our brothers to see the Blessed Alliance move from vision to reality. 

In my wildest dreams, I couldn't have imagined a more historic moment, a better outcome for Synergy, or a more promising development for women in ministry leadership than Missio Alliance's welcoming embrace of the Synergy Women's Network.

So here's what's happening next.

The May 7-9, 2015 Missio Alliance Conference in Alexandria, Virginia is our first conference together. The conference theme is "Being Truly Human: Re-imagining the Resurectional Life" #TrulyHuman. Here's the line-up of presenters. Friday morning, I'll be speaking at a special Zondervan sponsored Synergy breakfast as our entrée into the Missio Alliance community.

Already a bunch of us have signed up for the conference and would love to see you there. Whether you're a long-time member of Synergy, have wanted to join us, or simply have always known you are one of us—we want to see you there.

Today—Super Bowl Sunday, January 31—is the last day for the Early Bird rate, so if you want to catch that rate, you'll need to move fast! To register, go here.

The clock is ticking . . .    See you in May!