Monday, June 29, 2009


Sunday morning I experienced the power of technology in ministry when the ping of my cell phone woke me up. Twitter, FaceBook,and other social networking technologies have a surprising variety of uses, from exposing and fueling political crises, as we have witnessed in the Iranian election protests, to mindless chit-chat with friends. These technologies are also power tools for community and ministry to others.

For example, a friend emailed me recently to ask if I knew of a simple self-study on the book of Romans for his son who is in prison and newly turned to the Lord. Now there's a tall order! A few words on Twitter (which traveled from there to FaceBook) and within minutes I had three solid recommendations to pass on to him.

Then there was that ping on Sunday morning. It was a text message—a tweet from Max Lucado. I have him and a couple of others I follow linked to my cell phone, so their Twitter messages come to me direct. Evidently, he was up early and sending encouragement to others. It was a timely word for me—a welcome first thought of the day.

May God calm your soul on this day.
May the Voice that soothed Galilee's storm, still yours.
"It's all right. I am here." Mt. 14.27

Follow me on Twitter @carolynezer

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mrs. Noah—The Unknown Soldier

"Mrs. Noah got lost in her marriage. Among the lost women of the Bible, she has all but vanished from sight. Her story (which may have been a good one) died with her and remains buried to this day because the story that got told was her husband's. . . . In an odd way, Mrs. Noah is ideal for our discussion of lost women precisely because we know so little about her. She helps us see . . . God's purposes aren't just for those who stand in the spotlight. They apply equally to those of us who remain hidden in the shadows."
Lost Women of the Bible
Joel Spector, artist

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Eve—A Forgotten Legacy

"The trouble with Eve is that in the rush to evacuate Eden, we picked up the wrong pieces of her to tell us who we are. . . If we want to recover Eve's true legacy, we must begin where the Bible does—with her creation. We must retrace our steps to the Garden of Eden to retrieve the truth God revealed about Eve before the serpent showed up. God's definition of the woman and her significant place in his purposes came out in the planning phase of creation when his blueprint for women was spread out on the table in heaven's holy conference room."
Joel Spector, artist

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Something to ponder . . .

“Christianity is a doctrine not of the tongue, but of the life, and is not apprehended merely by the intellect and memory like other sciences, but it is revealed only when it possesses the whole soul and finds its seat and habitation in the innermost recesses of the heart.”
—John Calvin

Thursday, June 18, 2009

21st Century Deborahs

This week I heard an inspiring presentation about Hope International—a microfinance ministry that through small loans is empowering people (the majority are women) to work their way out of the depths of poverty. The stories of transformation are remarkable.

One mother of five children from Congo said, "Before, on a 'good' day, I could usually feed my family once a day. Now I feed them three times a day, pay for my children to go to school, and am feeding my pastor's family and a widowed neighbor too."

"So what are their husband's doing?" someone wanted to know.

Well, let's see . . . the unemployment rate in Congo is 90%. They're out of work, most of them, and have been for months. Probably they're depressed. Maybe hitting the bottle. Some (not all) have abandoned their families.

So their wives turn inventive, entrepreneurial, resourceful. They shift into ezer-mode and with a small business loan begin to battle their way out of hunger, poverty and despair.

I was deeply moved by their stories. At the same time I wondered how wide of the mark the church's message for women is for them. Does our message fuel them with courage or cause them to think they're operating outside proper boundaries. Are they "exceptions" to the rule or are they hitting the bullseye of what God calls his ezers to do? It's difficult to place these women in our well-developed grid and our intense debates over what God created women to do and what is off limits.

Deborah is another woman who simply doesn't fit. I'm always perplexed that Deborah seems to be such an anomaly in Christian circles. She's a perpetual topic of debate. Her position of authority and leadership—unquestioned by the Bible—is questioned by us. She is routinely downsized and redefined as "a punishment" on men who were shirking their responsibility for leadership.

In other words, Deborah is a "substitute" judge, an emergency measure, who if things were working properly, wouldn't be a judge at all. In the process, her story and her significance as a role model for women today get pushed to the sidelines.

Deborah may have been a great woman, but "please don' t try this at home."

The Bible doesn't talk about her like that. Strangely, there's no hint in the Bible to justify the kind of treatment Deborah receives at our hands.

The book of Judges gives Deborah top billing. She comes in the early phase, where according to some Old Testament scholars the judges are strongest. We have more of her words than any other judge. And there are no negative editorial comments embedded in the text about Deborah being out of line in God's eyes, hiding out in a winepress, or cavorting with the Philistines.

To the contrary, she is spotlighted as a person of great leadership and character, courageous faith, and remarkable gifting. People flock to her for advice, judgment, and wisdom. She calls Barak into battle and is so full of faith herself, believing God will do what he says against terrible odds, that she boldly joins Barak, bolsters his faith in the battle, and spurs him on to greatness (Hebrews 11:32). When all is said and done, she stands shoulder to shoulder with any other psalmist in the Bible. Her theologically rich lyrics have instructed God's people for generations.

Wouldn't the world be a better place with more strong women like that?

If we include Deborah in our pantheon of female role models, where she rightfully belongs, suddenly the parameters expand for what every woman should be doing to engage the kingdom battles before her. Just think how it would fuel the efforts of the women of Congo to identify with a woman like Deborah. How it would fuel our efforts? How could this change our daughters’ lives?

Until and unless we factor in Deborah to our discussions of what God calls his daughters to be and do, we remain very much in danger of believing and exporting an irrelevant and unbiblical message to women in the global church and of endangering women everywhere of being the steward in Jesus’ Parable of the Talents who must explain to the Lord why she buried his talents in the ground.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lost Women of the Bible

Starting this Friday, June 19, Moody Radio's Midday Connection is re-airing a 10-week series, where host Anita Lustrea, Nancy Kane (Associate Professor of Educational Ministries at Moody Bible Institute), and I go chapter by chapter through Lost Women of the Bible.

You can locate your local station and time here.

If you haven't yet read the book yet, it's time you did! This way you can read along with the disussion.

I should mention, this isn't the same old "stories of women in the Bible" that we've heard all our lives. Readers tell me it's like meeting these well-known women for the very first time. There's a lot more to their stories than we realize. And when we dig deeper, we discover their stories have a surprising 21st Century relevance and a message for women that will preach in any era, circumstance, or culture.

This is also where you'll learn about the ezer and the Blessed Alliance and why both concepts are so important to all of us—men as well as women.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Here comes the bride?

In a video message posted online, Pastor Mark Driscoll (Mars Hill Church Seattle) defends himself against his critics who find some of his remarks in the pulpit inappropriate. In defending himself, among other things, Driscoll talks about something he finds inappropriate—namely, associating the word "bride" to himself personally in relation to Jesus.

You can watch his full defense here.

The comments I'm referring to start about 2:45 minutes into the recording and relate to a sermon he preached on the Song of Songs.

“. . . we do love Jesus, but we don’t love Jesus as if we were his bride. . . . the bride imagery of the church doesn’t work real well for an individual application, especially for a man. . . . But taking that metaphor, for example, and applying it to an individual would mean that I am Jesus' bride. That I am Jesus' wife. To say the least, that conjures up very bizarre imagery that creates a very strange relationship with Jesus who is God become a man, but is now a man nonetheless, the God-man to be sure, but a man. . . . It’s false, it doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t work. . . . because that’s not the kind of relationship that a heterosexual man should have with Jesus.
I would agree that the bride metaphor is corporate and also that there's always a danger of taking a metaphor too far. At the same time, aren't we skating on thin ice theologically and hermeneutically, not to mention falling into the "picking and choosing" habit, when we stiff-arm a biblical metaphor at the personal level just because it makes us uncomfortable? Isn't Scripture supposed to make us uncomfortable?

More to the point, does Driscoll's resistance expose a flawed view of male/female relationships, if it is off-putting at best and demeaning at worst for a man to think of himself as a bride or a wife, even though Scripture attaches those labels to him?

Doesn't the "heterosexual man" need to know at the personal level he is beloved, pursued, embraced, and called out. Are there no low moments in his life when he needs to hear Jesus exclaiming "You are bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!" or be reminded that the love bond between God and himself is "as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave"?

Is there something important for all of us to gain—including Pastor Driscoll—in contemplating what it means for us individually to be called the Bride of Christ?

What do you think?