She drank, Jesus ate

 

Jesus told the woman at the well that he could give her “living water,” and we often overlook what this encounter did for Jesus. Listen to what he told his disciples, “I have “food” to eat that you know nothing about.” That is a strong statement and I do not know where Jesus made such a declaration about his encounter with anybody else.

This story of the woman at the well is found in John 4:4-42 and begins by saying, “Now he had to go through Samaria.” It is best translated that “he purposed in his mind” to go through Samaria, because the Jews had found a way, even though it was inconvenient, to avoid Samaria. They thought they were better than these poor cousins, the Samaritans, and for a Jew to deliberately go through Samaria was unusual.

There was something in Samaria that Jesus needed to do in order to complete his earthly work.

It appears that Jesus was covering the bases with women. A few examples are:

  • The Jewish woman, Mary of Bethany, who Jesus welcomed to sit at his feet right beside the men, and learn at a time when learning scripture was forbidden to women.
  • The Gentile woman to whom Jesus revealed that he was not sent only to Israel, but to all people, which included her.
  • The Samaritan woman to whom Jesus revealed that he was the Messiah, who the Samaritans were also expecting, since they claimed theirs was the true religion of the ancient Israelites.
  • Mary at the tomb completes the gospel declaration.

These are pivotal stories because they show that Jesus gives the voice of the gospel to women just as he gives the voice of the gospel to men. These stories also set the stage for the empty tomb where it was women who first encountered the resurrected Jesus and where the full gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus would unfold. So, yes, Jesus purposed in his mind to go through Samaria, because he had something to complete in Samaria.

The completion of this mission was so satisfying to him that he told his disciples, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” The conversation he had with this woman had an effect upon Jesus that was profoundly different from his other encounters with men or women. This is the only scripture passage in the Bible where Jesus said that what had just happened was so meaningful to him that he felt that he had been fed. In other words, mission accomplished.

Verse 42 says “…we no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” These men first heard the words of Jesus from a woman, and then they heard the same message from Jesus himself.

 Will you allow a woman to stand up in your pulpit and declare the words spoken to women 2,000 years ago? If not, why not?

(excerpt from my book Dethroning Male Headship)

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Father’s “roles”

Last week was Father’s Day and we can be sure that in many churches, men were told that God had designed them to be the spiritual leaders in the family. I am sure “role” was mentioned a few times.

So let’s break it down. If your pastor said, “We all know fathers are the spiritual leaders of their families,” then we have juggling of the scriptures to do to make that fit.

  1. If we know that husbands are the spiritual leaders, we must have scripture to back it up. Where is the scripture that backs that statement up? Not what they used to do 2,000 years ago (where they got many things wrong), but what we are supposed to do in 2015 that advances the kingdom of God.
  2. If we know that husbands are the spiritual leaders, we must discount the words and actions of Jesus who didn’t seem to care a whit about husbands’ spiritual leadership. Examples are:

(a) Mary of Bethany had no husband to spiritually lead her after Jesus welcomed her into the circle of learning with men;

(b) the Gentile woman – who was told by Jesus that he would be the Savior of the Gentiles – had no husband mentioned;

(c) the woman at the well had no husband when Jesus told her that the Messiah for the Samaritans  had come;

(d) Mary at the tomb who was the first to see and speak to the resurrected Christ. No husband is mentioned.

  1. If we know that husbands are the spiritual leaders, we must discount 1 Peter 3: 1 where women are instruments in winning over husbands – without even words or behavior – just their presence!
  2. If we know that husbands are the spiritual leaders, we must discount 1 Corinthians 7:15-16. Instead of giving the leadership role to husbands, the scriptures actually say that it is both men and women who can be the spiritual leaders and who can lead the other one to Christ by example. These passages teach that both husbands and wives can lead, and make no case for male leadership.

On Sunday morning, we all look out at families where the women brought the kids to church and there is no husband in sight. Perhaps he is at home. Perhaps she has no husband. But we can never discount her spiritual leadership as being second place, or taking the place of the husband. Both husbands and wives share in spiritual development of children. However, most often it is the wife.

Stand up to your pastor! If he makes the claim that husbands have been given the “role” of spiritual leader over the family, ask him to explain those scriptures above. You have the right to speak up to your pastor. Maybe he misspoke, but he should be aware of the words he is saying and their meaning to the listener.

Will you stand up and speak up for what is right?

 

 

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“Great Awakening” will continue the nightmare

As we sang “Open Our Eyes, we want to see Jesus,” I looked at Jesus’ photograph in the back pew. There is a picture of Jesus between the pages of the Bible in the pew, but I doubt that many really want to see the Jesus portrayed there.

I seriously doubt the SBC wants to see that photograph of Jesus. If they did, it would mean facing some hard truths and I don’t think they are ready for that. Over 200,000 members have left the SBC but I suspect there are many more who have slipped away because they no longer relate to the message sent by those churches.

“I want to reach out and touch him and say that we love him” formed in my mouth and I stopped singing. Will the Jesus we claim we want to see understand why women cannot preach and why women are held to a submissive standard? Will that Jesus be pleased at the seminars, blogs, websites and preachers who deny over one-half of God’s human creation? Will he be pleased at the way women are treated by their church, by the Southern Baptist Convention leadership, by SBC seminaries, by Baptist Associations, and by other Baptist entities?

Open their eyes, Lord! Open their eyes.

Will the Jesus we find in the pages of the Bible be pleased at the meanness of SBC leadership when they seek to remove an Alabama church and unpaid staff member because they said out loud what many are believing but are afraid to say – that they support same gender marriage? (Baptist News: Just prior to the convention, the SBC Executive Committee will consider removal of an Alabama church already ousted from its local association because the pastor and an unpaid staff member said publicly they support same-sex marriage).

The SBC is going to hold a prayer meeting Tuesday night and pray for a “Great Awakening.” They are looking for a religious revival.

It won’t happen. It can’t happen. What are they going to awake to? They don’t like the picture of Jesus found in the Bible so they certainly are not going to awake to that. They like their laws but not the people who are affected by those laws. Matthew 23 is a mirror that they will not look in.

Open their eyes, Lord! We want to see the Southern Baptist Convention “awakened” to become the reflection of Jesus.

It is our fear – and should be the fear of all Christians – that the SBC will continue the nightmare of denying women the fullness of God and their salvation, and will continue their meanness against churches and people who are trying to live like Christ.

 

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Pentecost put no limitations on women

My Baptist church never asked me to wear red on Pentecost Sunday. In fact, they never mentioned Pentecost Sunday and now I know why. Pentecost is the complete equalization of men and women that Jesus showed through his words and his actions.

If you don’t believe me, read Acts 2 (selected passages from The Message)

 When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.

This is what the prophet Joel announced would happen:

“In the Last Days,” God says,
“I will pour out my Spirit
    on every kind of people:
Your sons will prophesy,
    also your daughters;
Your young men will see visions,
    your old men dream dreams.
When the time comes,
  I’ll pour out my Spirit
On those who serve me, men and women both,
    and they’ll prophesy.”

Here God gave women the promise they would be filled with the Spirit and they would prophesy. From the very beginning men and women were to be equal but man mixed up spiritual things with secular rules. Peter was quoting from the book of Joel in the Old Testament. The Day of Pentecost reminds us of that equalization of men and women.

Pentecost is called the Birthday of the church. There is no limit placed upon women in this chapter of Acts. That is why your Baptist church will not ask you to wear red for this Pentecost Sunday.

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Time to send in the women

Paraphrased, Charles H Spurgeon said “Don’t you care that sinners are lost? If you do, you will forget your discomfort and go into the fire to save others.” I was reminded of this with the study “Christianity in U.S. faces decline ‘across the board’” by Sarah Pulliam Bailey.

The truth is that we don’t care enough. If we did, we would be calling for all the help we could get to witness to the lost and to saving America. But we don’t do that. We put clamps over the mouths of women and push them even further down deep inside the churches. Books, blogs, seminars, seminaries, and sermons constantly tell women that God did not choose them to preach to save a person from hell. Spurgeon himself more than likely thought that only men could do the job.

That has proven to be wrong. Look at the decline of Christianity led by males. According to Pew Research Center, the percentage of adults who describe themselves as Christians dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years to about 71 percent. Churches are emptying out all across America. David Olson, the Director of Church Planting for the Evangelical Covenant Church, estimates that in only 35 years, church attendance will be at 11.7%.

Our pet doctrines against women are stronger than our desire to save the lost.

Listen to what Spurgeon said:

The saving of souls, if a man has once gained love to perishing sinners, and love to his blessed Master, will be an all-absorbing passion to him. It will so carry him away, that he will almost forget himself in the saving of others. He will be like the stout, brave fireman, who careth not for the scorch or for the heat, so that he may rescue the poor creature on whom true humanity hath set his heart. He must, he will pluck such a one from the burning, at any cost and expense to himself. Oh the zeal of such a man as that Whitfield to whom I have alluded! He says in one of his sermons, “My God, I groan day-by-day over the salvation of souls. Sometimes,” he says, “I think I could stand on the top of every hackney-coach in the streets of London, to preach God’s Word. It is not enough that I can do it night and day, laboring incessantly by writing and by preaching, I would that I were multiplied a thousand-fold, that I might have a thousand tongues to preach this gospel of my blessed Redeemer.”

Then he (Jesus) said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” Matthew 9:37

It is obvious that Christians had rather the lost go to hell than hear the words of salvation from a woman’s mouth. I just wonder what Jesus thinks of that.

Here we are. Send us. Not to the foreign mission fields, but to the neighborhoods that need the words of a preacher. It is time to send in the women.

Will you speak up for a lost America? Will you speak up for women workers who want to preach the word to our children and our grandchildren?  You have the power, now show the will.

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Missing grace

We can’t change the world’s treatment of girls and women, but we can change ours. Over 275 girls were recently kidnapped and stoned in Nigeria by Boko Haram. We change by starting at home and raising up women and girls to full equality in the church and home.

We quit throwing word bombs at women. We quit holding seminars telling women they are equal-but. We change our seminaries to teach full equality instead of some made up term such as ‘biblical womanhood.’ We recognize grace for both men and women.

“I know you don’t like Thom Rainer, but listen to what he says about church bullies.” The truth is that I neither like nor dislike Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Resources. I don’t know him.

What I do know is that he chooses books and literature for LifeWay Resources that speak out against equality for women in the church and home. What I do know is that he subscribes to wives submitting graciously to their husbands and that women cannot be pastors, as is indicated in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

Thom Rainer wrote the “Nine traits of church bullies” but he left off a Number 10, which would be: “They are often the pastors themselves. They preach, teach and post that women are equal-but.” I can’t hear you, Thom! Your words are clanging cymbals. You are missing grace.

I can’t hear John Piper, of Desiring God, when he says that Christians should go way beyond justice when I know what he has said about women and what he claims is their submissive role. I can’t hear you, John! Your words are clanging cymbals. You are missing grace.

I can’t hear Timothy Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York. A few weeks ago, my pastor quoted Timothy Keller from the pulpit, but my heart was not listening because all I could think of was his book The Meaning of Marriage in which he says that women should be joyful in their God-given submissive role. I can’t hear you, Tim! Your words are clanging cymbals. You are missing grace.

I can’t hear Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, when he tells me that he can’t spare a few minutes to speak with me about gender equality because “all such discussions take away from the time we might spend leading men and women to faith in Jesus Christ.” I am offering multitudes of harvesters who will help his men lead men and women to faith. But he doesn’t have time to even talk about their qualifications. I can’t hear you, Paige! Your words are clanging cymbals. You are missing grace.

I can’t hear you because you are not speaking the words of Jesus. I can’t hear you because you are not speaking the words of grace for all Christians, both men and women.

Will you join me in calling for grace by religious leaders for women?

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