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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Coming Down the Home Stretch

We're coming down the home stretch on the Midday Connection series about Half the Churchwith only two more sessions to go. This week we've reached the chapter entitled "The Great Debate"—a major consideration for all of us, and yet ...  Well you can either read the book and/or listen in to find out where this discussion will go. I hope you'll do both.

Midday Connection, hosted by Anita Lustrea (left) and Melinda Schmidt airs daily at 1:00 ET/noon CT. You can listen online or check their website for local listings.  If you missed a previous broadcast, they're filed by date, and you can listen here to catch up.
  • April 6:     Introduction—Seeing Beyond Ourselves
  • April 13:   Chapter 1Going Global  (I was in the Moody Radio studio for this session and got caught on video, which Midday has posted on FaceBook.) 
  • April 20:  Chapter 2Identity Theft 
  • April 27:  Chapter 3—Bearing God's Image in a Broken World  
  • May 4:      Chapter 4The Shaping of a Leader's Soul 
  • May 11:    Chapter 5The Ezer Unbound 
  • May 18:    Chapter 6Here Comes the Bride! 
  • May 25:    Chapter 7—The Blessed Alliance
  • June 1:     Chapter 8The Great Debate 

Monday, May 30, 2011

International Ezer Day!

I was born on Memorial Day. When I was old enough to understand, my father used to tell me people were flying flags on their houses because it was my birthday. To those whose loved ones have served in the military, this may sound like sacrilege, but for me it was better than Santa Claus. Seeing all those flags on my birthday always made me hold my head a little higher.

Then, in 1968 Congress passed a law that took effect in 1971 changing Washington's Birthday, Veteran's Day, and Memorial Day to Mondays to create 3-day holidays for everyone.  Veterans were not pleased because the change seemed to elevate long weekends over remembrance of those who have served our country.  I'm sure if Washington were alive, he'd have a thing or two to say about his birthday being moved.  You can be sure I was disappointed when flags stopped waving on my birthday except for that rare year when my birthday lands on the last Monday in May. 

Mother's Day is the one day on the calendar when the church is (so to speak) waving flags for women.  Yet ironically, a day that brings enormous joy and much deserved gratitude and love to many women, is for many others a day of utter discomfort and grief. Maybe it's the way FaceBook is changing things, but this year I received an unusual number of messages from women who were dreading church that day because of infertility, singleness, the loss of a child, or heartache over a prodigal.

Those emails reminded me of a blog I wrote on Mother's Day in 2009 to wish everyone a Happy Ezer Day!  Afterwards Caryn Rivadeneira suggested we declare an International Ezer Day.  I loved the idea. But at the time, Frank and I were selling our house in Orlando and preparing to move north. So a great idea got lost somewhere between Florida and Massachusetts.   


This year, Memorial Day falls on May 30, and Old Glory is flying on houses again. Seeing those flags and recalling what my father used to say has me thinking we do need a day to celebrate ezers we love. It's time we paid proper tribute to ezers who have impacted our lives and are moving the kingdom forward in great and small ways. It's time we started cheering on the rising generation of young ezers. 

I'm ready to name the date and am open to your suggestions.  Propose a date (or vote "like" for someone else's suggestion) on the Synergy Women's Network FaceBook page (if you haven't yet joined, it's time you did) and start making your "Ezers I want to honor" list. I've already started mine.

Stay tuned for details!  

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Oprah Phenomenon

Last week, Oprah took her final victory lap after 25 hugely successful years of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Friends and fans gave her a blow-out farewell party to celebrate her legacy and the global following she has acquired (a reach of 150 countries). They also put front and center strong evidence of the powerful impact she has had on women and girls that should not go unnoticed by us.

A cluster of young girls, calling themselves "Oprah Show babies" and describing her as "the sound track of our lives," offered up a litany of evidence that was quite moving to hear.

"Oprah, because of you, I love to read books."  "I've learned to stick to my beliefs and not let anyone change who I am."  "Your show taught me to take better care of myself.  I'm thirteen and I've lost 20 pounds."  "My mom and I watched your show every day together. I was only 14 when she died and I know she would want me to continue to learn from you."  "Oprah you helped me lift the shame of being abused and taught me that it wasn't my fault. Thank you."  "We've learned from the Oprah Show that we're enough, that we matter, that our lives have value."  "Because if you every morning I look in the mirror and say, 'Good morning gorgeous!'" "Oprah, I learned from you that I can be anything I want. Like the president of the United States."  "Because of you, we believe girls can run the world!"

Singer, actress, BeyoncĂ© chimed in, "Because of you, women everywhere have graduated to a new level of understanding of what we are, of who we are, and most of all who we can be"—extraordinary praise of Oprah's impact on women, (although the provocative dance routine that followed made me wonder just how much of Oprah's message BeyoncĂ© has actually grasped).

In her post, "Filling the Oprah Void," author Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira points out that one of the reasons for Oprah's significant contributions has been her fearless openness in discussing painful subjects of interest to women and raising those subjects to new levels of seriousness.  Caryn writes,
"Oprah understood the power of speaking truth as a method of healing. And, for all the people who criticize us for being a talk-show culture, ever-keen on spilling our guts, there are many more entirely set free by knowing we are not alone in our troubles."
While I welcome Oprah's undeniably positive influence on many lives, at the same time I grieve the fact that instead of taking the lead in giving women and girls a bigger vision of who God created them to be (and, trust me, we do have such a message—even better than what Oprah has to offer), the Christian community is lagging woefully behind. And why is it that we are so often in catch-up-mode in addressing subjects that are painful realities in the lives of countless women and girls?  Shouldn't we be first?

We can sit on the sidelines and criticize Oprah for what her message lacks or for the flaws in her  theology. Or we can ask ourselves if girls (and for that matter, boys too) in the church are saying, "Because I am God's image bearer, I know my life counts, I have value, I can change the world." "You helped me lift the shame of being abused and taught me it wasn't my fault." "The church has graduated women to to a new level of understanding of what we are, of who we are, and most of all who we can be"?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Midday Connection Series Continues ...



Every week, I look forward to talking about Half the Church on Midday Connection with one or both of these two—Anita Lustrea (left) and Melinda Schmidt (right).  We're coming down the home stretch, and I'm already dreading the day when this series will be over and I won't have my weekly Anita/Melinda shot. Both are solid thinkers and amazing interviewers who don't frustrate their guests with shallow discussions about their work. I'm grateful to have them as friends.

Next chapter on tap is The Blessed Alliance—the partnership between God's male and female image bearers—a central kingdom strategy God unveiled in the beginning, that the Enemy broke up in the fall, and that Jesus came to recover by making his followers one.

Midday Connection airs daily at 1:00 ET/noon CT. You can listen online or check their website for local listings.  If you missed a previous broadcast, they're filed by date, and you can listen here to catch up.
  • April 6:     Introduction—Seeing Beyond Ourselves
  • April 13:   Chapter 1Going Global  (I was in the Moody Radio studio for this session and got caught on video, which Midday has posted on FaceBook.) 
  • April 20:  Chapter 2Identity Theft 
  • April 27:  Chapter 3—Bearing God's Image in a Broken World  
  • May 4:      Chapter 4The Shaping of a Leader's Soul 
  • May 11:    Chapter 5The Ezer Unbound 
  • May 18:    Chapter 6Here Comes the Bride! 
  • May 25:    Chapter 7—The Blessed Alliance

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Kingdom Vision


"God's vision [for his daughters] doesn't just reassure us that we matter and that our lives do count for something. God's vision compels us to look beyond ourselves, to ponder a picture of how things were meant to be that leaves us aching for his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, and to look for ways to participate in moving the world toward that goal."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Where do you start?

One of the fundamental questions facing anyone attempting to unpack the Bible's message for women is "Where do you start?" Every view on women has biblical passages that don't fit easily within their system. So choices are made to give some texts more weight than others and to interpret those other texts within the framework of these starting point texts.

In Half the Church, my starting point is God's vision of his daughters (which he casts in Genesis 1 and 2) as image bearers, ezer-warriors, and half of the Blessed Alliance. I read everything else the Bible has to say about women through that grid.

In this video, Professor N.T. Wright answers the "Where do you start?" question from the New Testament as it applies to women's gifts and ministries in the church. His response is similar to what Scot McKnight asked of the Bible in his book, Blue Parakeet with the acronym WDWD—"What Did Women Do?"  In the passages Dr. Wright selects, WDWD carries added weight because of the men who are in the picture.



Situating the passages Dr. Wright references within the ancient patriarchal culture has the effect of placing an exclamation point beside both narratives. The main actors in these texts are the two leading figures in the establishment of Christianity—Jesus and the Apostle Paul.

Paul, the writer of Romans 16, is a recovering Pharisee and a former religious terrorist who in his pre-Christian days posed a terrible threat to followers of Jesus. It was in his cultural DNA to keep his distance even from Jewish women, especially in public. Yet here he is singing the praises of Gentile women leaders and openly declaring his reliance upon their ministries with and to him. Go figure!

According to John 20, had Jesus timed things a little differently, he could have commissioned the great apostles Peter and John to be the first gospel proclaimers of his resurrection. Instead, he waited to give Mary Magdalene that privilege, in a culture where the testimony of a woman was not accepted in a court of law.

"Where do you start?" is a crucial question everyone must answer.  What do you make of Dr. Wright's response?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Connecting Faith


I'm looking forward to another great opportunity to discuss Half the Church today, this time with radio host Michelle Strombeck. The  interview airs on Faith Radio's program Connecting Faith.

You can listen live online at 1:00 pm ET/noon CT here or dial in to KTIS-AM  Minneapolis/St. Paul.