Feast and Fast – Part 1

I have 347+ articles of clothing, which is disgustingly typical for the American woman. This doesn’t include undergarments, accessories, or shoes. If each article cost $20 that would be $6,940 wasted, since I wear maybe 17 articles in a week. I have enough clothes to wear something new, everyday, for 5 to 6 months.

Do these envious, gluttonous tendencies our culture tells us we need in order to ‘fit in’, cause us to be discontent and unhappy? People are walking 20 miles, without shoes, to get water to survive. There are homeless people, who don’t have a coat this winter, who might die. There are people starving to DEATH. How can we rationalize our gluttony? Is our clothing/possession reputation more important than real human lives? Wouldn’t we be happier if we saw the lasting and perpetuating joy from helping someone in need?


Guilt is not the response being called for here. God sent the prince of peace. Self-deprecation is a cruel response to Jesus, who died to make us righteous. Guilt is not Jesus’ medium. He is battling for global redemption right now; His objective hardly includes huddling in the corner with us, rehashing our shame again. He finished that discussion on the cross. We’re so conditioned to being a problem that we’ve forgotten we’re actually the answer. God is not angry with you; how could he be? You’re on the team. Don’t imagine He is sitting us down for a lecture. Rather, He’s staging a rally, gathering the troops. He is staging a massive movement to bind up the broken-hearted and proclaim freedom to the captives. The trumpet is blowing. The Bride is awakening. I don’t want to base my life on what I’m against; that’s not inspiring enough motivation. May we embrace unity over infighting, bravery over comfort, us over me, people over principles, and God’s glory over our own. Together, let’s become restorers of Eden. Let’s become His ambassadors ushering in His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. With this in mind, let’s get back to the opening statement.


Eccl. 5:10 – Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness.

Solomon was one of the wealthiest people in the world, and he tells us in Ecclesiastes that wealth doesn’t bring happiness, because the those who love money are never satisfied. Rich people are plagued by discontentment. The more we have, the more we want. Most of us don’t even see ourselves as rich. Rich people don’t like to admit they are rich. Their discontentment drives them to ungratefulness and denial.

A poll asked American’s on an income of 30,000/yr how much they would need to make to be considered rich. They said $75,000/yr. Another poll asked subscribers of money magazine how much they would need to make a to be considered rich. They said $5million/yr. We aren’t rich, but we know someone who is… and our eyes get the best of us. Always wanting more. Never satisfied. Never happy. What is happiness lies in living on only what we need and using the rest to help others become able to live on our same level?

We need to admit we are rich. If you make 44,000/yr COMBINED household income, you are in the top 1% of wage earners in the world! Even if you have running water you are better off than most in the world. We aren’t walking 20 miles to get diseased water; we are spraying clean water on the ground.

Acts 20:35 (MSG) – You’ll not likely go wrong here if you keep remembering that our Master said, ‘You’re far happier giving than getting’

1 Tim. 6:17 – Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth.

Arrogant: making claims to superior importance or rights; insolently proud; a sense of superiority, self-importance, or entitlement.

God is not a respecter of persons. We are not superior to anyone because we make more money. Every person is valuable. Ben Carson has a great example of this. His mother had a third grade education and couldn’t read. She worked multiple jobs to raise her children. She is now a doctor. We like to judge circumstances, but God sees our potential. We should start trying to see like God. We need to love people where and as they are.. you know, they way Jesus did. Scripture describes the people who drew Jesus’ eye: the poor widow, lepers, the lost and hungry, adulterers, the outcast, the sick and dying, the already dead. He gave up His life, as a King and as a God, to help them. Finery and opulence never impressed Jesus; quite the opposite. Maybe He knew what riches He was capable of having, and became disgusted by the pride of others. He rebuked religious leaders for their fancy robes, strutting around as if their ceremonial dress had any bearing on the condition of their hearts. Perhaps an obsession with even clothing has distracted us from the point of the gathering: a fixation on Jesus.

Prov. 30:8 – Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread

Give us this day our daily bread. Remember how the manna in the desert rotted if they gathered more than they needed? What if wealth, indulgence, and excess are creating a polished people rotting from the inside out, without even knowing it? Pretty on the outside, but dead on the inside; rotting from excess. We should take only what we need and use the rest to help others; then, we will be happy.

1 Tim. 6:17-19  – Command those who are rich in this present world… to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

He gives us everything for our ENJOYMENT. Then He says, remember that you are happier when you give. Give me my daily bread and help me live a life free from excess, willing to share, so that I will be happy and take hold of the true meaning of life: Love. We shouldn’t be moved by guilt, but by love. Love that shows respect for God and man, and moves us to compassion and generosity. Love, in many versions, is translated charity. If we are giving out of guilt then we still have a heart issue and we won’t be moved out of the key factor: Love. God says if anything we do is void of love, it is useless; we gain no reward. We also gain no peace.

2 Cor. 8:9 – Though He was rich, He became poor, that by His poverty He could make you rich

2 Cor. 5:14-20 – For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 17 If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…  20Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ

Ambassador: a diplomatic official of the highest rank sent by a government to represent it on a temporary mission

If Christ loved all, we should love all; if Christ died for all, we should die for all. That is how we follow Him and become His ambassadors. We should be giving to those in need.


Maybe some of you have stopped there thinking, ‘But I tithe.’ We think this basic  obedience exempts the rest of our spending. We use this as an excuse to assuaging our consciences, checking the stewardship box. Is 10% really considered laying down our lives? We need to rethink that excuse:

Luke 11:37-42 (MSG) – When he finished that talk, a Pharisee asked him to dinner. He entered his house and sat right down at the table. The Pharisee was shocked and somewhat offended when he saw that Jesus didn’t wash up before the meal. But the Master said to him, “I know you Pharisees burnish the surface of your cups and plates so they sparkle in the sun, but I also know your insides are maggoty with greed and secret evil. Stupid Pharisees! Didn’t the One who made the outside also make the inside? Turn both your pockets and your hearts inside out and give generously to the poor; then your lives will be clean, not just your dishes and your hands. 42“I’ve had it with you! You’re hopeless, you Pharisees! Frauds! You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but manage to find loopholes for getting around basic matters of justice and God’s love. Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required.

The Pharisees, like many of us, never miss a penny of tithing, but shamelessly we neglect justice and totally miss the point.

What if we gave new meaning to the verse ‘love your neighbor as yourself’, and gave 50% of our earnings to them, making them our equals? What if we gave 80% away? American statistics show that the more we make, the less we give. We need to realize we are rich, fight discontentment, not allow our hope to be in money. Not think that money can provide safety.

How can I be socially responsible if unaware that I reside in the top percentage of wealth in the world? Excess has impaired perspective in America; we are the richest people on earth, praying to get richer. We’re tangled in debt, because we feel like we are entitled to more. What does it communicate when half the global population lives on less than $2/day, and we can’t manage a fulfilling life on 25,000x that amount? It says we have too much, and it is ruining us. The day I am unaware of my privileges and unmoved by my greed is the day something has to change.

We think if we save enough money we can not only make ourselves happy, but save ourselves from certain calamities.

Prov. 18:11 – The wealth of the rich is their fortified city. They IMAGINE it a wall too high to scale.

Having a savings account is great; the Bible supports that. But we can’t look to money for safety or happiness. We should look to God who says give for happiness and my protection.

1 Chron. 29:12-14 – Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. 13Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. 14“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.

We need to learn to be thankful for the wealth God has given us. It’s that thankfulness that will bring happiness, contentment, fulfilling life, compassion, and love/charity. How can we give our of love, if we aren’t thankful for what we have?

If Christ died for all, we should die for all; that is how we follow Him and become His ambassadors. I no longer want to follow my old man, which thinks about my own pride, is ungrateful, and builds a kingdom for myself. The Spirit is leading me to a fast, where the devil will tempt me to stay the same, but by the strength of the Spirit of God in us, we have the power to change and go against the culture of the world. I will fight for humility, thankfulness, and reconciliation to the hurting.


God’s idea of a fast is less about what we’re against and more about what we are for. True fasting isn’t a month about us, but a life about others. When we hear ‘fast’, we put on a yoke of self-denial. When God said ‘fast’, He meant to take off the yoke of oppression. This fast is not about abstinence; it is a fast from self-obsession, greed, apathy, and elitism.

Is. 58:3 (NLT) – We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’ “I will tell you why!” I respond…

Is. 58:5 (NLT) – You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the LORD?

Is. 58:6-9 (NLT) – “No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. 7Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. 8“Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. 9Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.

Joel 2:12-13 – return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13and rend your hearts and not your garments.

A true disciple of Christ never stops the cycle of fasting and lifestyle changes. After Christ was baptized, the first thing He did was go into the desert to fast (Luke 4). Fasting helps us renew our minds and become a new creature. The day I realized God was real, I changed my friends, I trashed all my secular music, and I decided to seek Him out. Today, I see His call for humility and I am willing to follow. First through a fast, of abstinence, to renew my mind; then, after journaling through the fast, I will decide which lifestyle changes I can adopt for the long run.

Luke 3:7-13 – John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him,… 11“Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” 12Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” 13″Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.

This baptism of repentance was not about going without something (a temporary fast), but instead about not taking more than we need (a lifestyle). It was a warning against exalting ourselves above others; a warning about excess.

Luke 4:1-2 – Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

In some supernatural way the abstinence from food was the catalyst for Jesus’ unveiling. After Jesus’ fast, He began healing, rescuing, redeeming. The Spirit filled up the emptiness Jesus created, launching Him into ministry. The fast launched Him into a new lifestyle. Maybe we should do the same, to rend our hearts and change our minds. Jesus gave to those He was around and those who sought Him out. Maybe their is also happiness in forming relationship with the least, instead of being faceless donors…


My new years fast will be this:

One Month FOOD Fasts and Goals:

Food Fast 1: Cut back on food options by picking 7 foods for the month: chicken, bread, eggs, avocado, spinach, sweet potatoes, apples. Use only minimal salt, pepper, and oil. No other foods, products, sauces, or spices allowed. Goal: Gain thankfulness for the surplus of food, and options, that I am used to having. Learn to give thanks before each meal.

Food Fast 2: Cut back on food intake by eating only 1 cup of rice, 1 day of each week. Goal: Gain empathy for the poor who are starving, or who live on 1 cup of rice a day. Give the money saved from daily food purchases to them.

Food Fast 3: Cut back on food options by eating nothing but bread for 1 day of each week. Goal: Gain understanding about how the Israelites felt eating manna for 40 years. Compare those feelings with the idea of staying in the same old mindset (same food), instead of seeking a new mindset (land of milk and honey).

One month PRIDE Fasts and Goals: 

Pride Fast 1: Cut back on pride by wearing a t-shirt and jeans everywhere. Exception for work only. No jewelry or other accessory adornments. Use only minimal makeup. Goal: Gain a renewed mind, free from pride, competition, boasting, and stereotyping.

Pride Fast 2: Cut back on pride by not handing out explanations for this months choice of clothing. Goal: Gain humility. Gain focus on the condition of the heart instead of our outward appearance. Gain trust in God’s ability to uphold us, instead of relying on self explanations and excuses.

Pride Fast 3: Cut back on prideful locations. Go spend time with the least by getting involved in outreach ministry. Goal: Gain humility. Gain a renewed mind, focused on the value of people. Gain a serving spirit.

One Month POSSESSION Fasts and Goals:

Possession Fast 1: Cut back on excess home things. Everything I don’t need, want, or use will go in a pile, including everything in storage. This will last much longer than a month, but it will get its start and a lot of focus in this month. Goal: Gain freedom from excessive chores and bills. Gain a heart for those in need of everyday items. Find someone in need to give my excess to and sell the rest on the Etsy store I’ll create during this month.

Possession Fast 2: Cut back on excess clothing. I’ll be doing this by setting apart the clothes I wear in that month. Once I have them separated, I can see what is being used and what is not being used. Things that don’t fit, or that I don’t like, can find new homes. Things that I love, but that are excessive can find new homes. Goal: Gain a heart for those in need of clothing. Find someone in need to give my excess to. Gain willingness to immediately give the shirt off my back when I see someone in need.

Possession Fast 3: Cut back on envious tendencies. No real, or fake shopping (online, in-stores, Pinterest, window gazing, note taking or complimenting friends clothing instead of their heart, etc.) Goal: Gain a heart of contentment. Gain and reallocate money that would have been wasted.

One Month STRESS Fasts and Goals:

Stress Fast 1: Cut back on time induced anxiety. I’ll cut my clocks back 15 minutes. Goal: Gain 15 minutes of travel time to make me drive slower and calmer. Gain time to pray or read if I arrive early. Gain a pure mouth.

Stress Fast 2: Cut back on Sunday activities. Choose one day a week to rest from all work, to gather with believers, and to focus on God. Goal: Gain obedience to the Sabbath commandment. Gain rest. Gain intimacy with God and man.

Stress Fast 3: Cut back on anxious thoughts by praying 4 times a day: upon waking, midday, leaving work, and at laying down. Goal: Gain focus on God’s purposes. Gain peace by handing over anxieties.


For more on this topic:

1. Listen to the Get Rich series here, by Chris Hodges.

2. Read part 2 of this blog post here, which will cover some great ideas from Jen Hatmaker’s Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.

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Feast and Fast – Part 2

I have 347+ articles of clothing, which is disgustingly typical for the American woman. This doesn’t include undergarments, accessories, or shoes. If each article cost $20 that would be $6,940 wasted, since I wear maybe 17 articles in a week. I have enough clothes to wear something new, everyday, for 5 to 6 months.

Do these envious, gluttonous tendencies our culture tells us we need in order to ‘fit in’, cause us to be discontent and unhappy? People are walking 20 miles, without shoes, to get water to survive. There are homeless people, who don’t have a coat this winter, who might die. There are people starving to DEATH. How can we rationalize our gluttony? Is our clothing/possession reputation more important than real human lives? Wouldn’t we be happier if we saw the lasting and perpetuating joy from helping someone in need?


Jen got my attention when she put herself on the line, sharing a gross number of excessive clothing she owns. I had to know, and of course I had even more than her… In Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, Jen asks, ‘What in my life, and in the lives of most Americans, is just too much?’ She comes up with 7 categories: food, clothing, possessions, media, waste, spending, and stress. She tackles one category a month, for 7 months as an exercise in simplicity to create space for God’s kingdom to break through in her life. I fell in love with her journalistic writing style and attention grabbing evidences. The following are some ideas from her book:

Month 1 – Food:

– Jen chose 7 foods to eat during the month. Her friends chose to eat like the poorest nations, with only rice, beans, bread, and oatmeal. Jen talks about how sick she gets of the 7 foods, how people react to her new menu, how grateful she is that the foods are nutritious and doubling her energy, how much money she saves, how little food gets wasted during the fast. She weeps for her children in Ethiopia that she is trying to adopt. They are orphaned by disease, hunger, or poverty and will go to bed with no mother while her American children threw away a pound of food because there was no ketchup. She weeps for her biological children who will battle American complacency and overindulgence for the rest of their lives.

“We didn’t even know what was precious. We threw away things that people would kill for today.” – The Book of Eli

– In our culture intentional reduction is so uncommon people just don’t know what to do with it. Folks are adding, not subtracting. The rise in prosperity is not making people happier or healthier. We are incurring debt and working longer hours to pay for the high-consumption lifestyle; spending less time with family, friends, and community. What happened to don’t gain the world only to forfeit your soul?

– By the 1960’s real food was rapidly disappearing from its shelves, to be replaced by the modern cornucopia of highly processed food-like products. Maybe food simplification is a good idea for all of us. For health, waste reduction, time management, spiritual clarity, and gratefulness. Maybe we should consider avoiding food products containing ingredients that are unfamiliar, unpronounceable, or more than 5 in number. When a loaf of bread traditionally involves flour, yeast, water, and salt, but now contains 20+ ingredients, and lasts a month longer than the homemade version, we might should be wary what we are eating.

– In some supernatural way the abstinence from food was the catalyst for Jesus’ unveiling. After Jesus’ fast, He began healing, rescuing, redeeming. The Spirit filled up the emptiness Jesus created, launching Him into ministry.

Month 2 – Clothes:

– Jen counts her clothing items: 327. She estimates she spent $30 average on each, which equals $9,810. She didn’t include anyone else in her family. She decides to wear 7 articles of clothing for a month. Her friends do a variation of the fast, separating the clothes they wear in a month from the rest to see what percentage actually gets used.

– Unfortunately, Jen didn’t choose a jacket as one of her 7 items and it ends up snowing in Austin, Texas. She talks about the 4,500 homeless people and the lack of shelters in emergency situations; 100+ people died last year from the cold. She layers on her 7 items and gratefully goes to bed in her warm home.

– Scripture describes the people who drew Jesus’ eye: the poor widow, lepers, the lost and hungry, adulterers, the outcast, the sick and dying, the already dead. Finery and opulence never impressed Jesus; quite the opposite. He rebuked religious leaders for their fancy robes, strutting around as if their ceremonial dress had any bearing on the condition of their hearts. There is something noble about an assembly of believers in simple clothes, where the lobby isn’t filled with people saying, ‘You look pretty’ to one another. Perhaps an obsessive occupation with dresses, hair, and shoes detracts us from the point of the gathering: a fixation on Jesus. Maybe our fine dresses keep us from dancing or bowing in worship, or hugging the poor off the streets, or changing a babies diaper; keeping us from connecting in loving ways.

– Host a clothing swap with your friends so you each get something new without spending money. Give away the clothes you don’t use, to help someone in need. Think about what you are buying. Does your child need a $50 smocked dress to run around filthy playgrounds? I hope one day clothes and appearance and everyone else’s assessment doesn’t even occur to me. I would like to be so focused on the valuable that what I am wearing doesn’t even warrant mental space.

– Love your neighbor as yourself. What standard is acceptable for my own life? My own family? This is the benchmark for everyone else, which necessitates a decrease in the definition of necessary (for us) and an increase in the definition of acceptable (for everyone else).

– The average human gets around 25,000 days on earth. We have this one life to offer; we get one shot at living to expand the kingdom, fighting for justice. We’ll have one moment to say, ‘This is how I lived.’ Jen spent enough on clothes to irrevocably change the lives of a 100,000 people. Closets full of clothes we might have worn twice. She said, I imagine being in heaven and having a family look at me who were too poor or sick to raise their babies. I gaze on their helplessness and see them realize the same amount I spent on clothes would have kept their families fed and healthy for 30 years.

– In a culture that elevates beauty and style, the Christian community is at genuine risk for distraction, even deception. Are we no different from the secular population, drawn to charisma and style above substance and integrity? I hope not. I want to belong to a Christian community known for a different kind of beauty, the kind that heals and inspires. I can’t help but remember Jesus, and how God made sure to mention He was plain by human standards: ‘He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.’ – Is. 53.

Month 3 – Possessions:

– I could point a finger at culture for pressuring me into having nicer things. I might implicate modern parenting, which encourages endless purchases for the kids, ensuring they aren’t the ‘have-nots’ in a sea of ‘haves’. Jen gets rid of 7 things a day for a month.

– The great tragedy in the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor. I truly believe that when the poor meet the rich, riches will have no meaning. And when the rich meet the poor, we will see poverty come to an end.

Unfortunately, in the southern bible belt, we care so much about clothing, appearance, and pride that some people kick out the poor that step into their churches. Such was the case in a church I once attended. The south needs to awaken their hearts and focus on the ministry of reconciliation instead of selfish gain and conceit.

– Jen gives away her clothes. The clothes that gave her confidence when she was terrified and uncertain during her first women’s conference, brunches, and weddings. Getting rid of them is like a farewell to our old life. I thought about how my lovely clothes propped up the outside while my inside was struggling to find its way. I smile to think of a broken, abused woman slipping these pretty things on and propping up the outside a bit during her healing process. I pray they will remind her that she is beautiful, she is valuable, she is worth it.

– We went in for the Easter service and saw a homeless-looking guy with weird hair, wearing what appeared to be a burlap sack in the shape of pants and a tunic. This was, of course, Shane. He’s been ‘escorted out’ of several churches before they realized he was their guest speaker… As we were about to take communion, Shane said, ‘You are under no coercion, but if you want to, you can leave your shoes at the altar when you take communion. We’ll wash them and deliver them all to the homeless community in San Antonio tomorrow. We were both wearing our brand new boots; the most prized and expensive shoes we’d ever owned. At the close of the service, I watched all these smiling people gladly walk barefooted out into the cold. When God told us to give, I suspect He had spiritual formation in mind as much as meeting needs. ‘If we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.’ We want the life part without being united in the death part, but that version of Christianity doesn’t exist – that is a false gospel, void of sacrifice or love. The fertile soil of death is where the gospel forms roots and actually bears fruit.

Matt. 6:19-21 – Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal… where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

– In a typical year the US spends about $16 billion in foreign aid and $276 billion on advertising. What do we do with our riches? Money is the most frequent theme in scripture; perhaps the secret to happiness is right under our noses. Maybe we don’t recognize satisfaction because it is disguised as radical generosity, a strange misnomer in a consumer culture.

Month 4 – Media: 

– One month without tv, gaming, social media, radio, internet, apps, or excessive/useless texting. Take something away and your habits become clear. We had to start cooking together, walking after dinner, having friends over, doing crafts, actually calling people, reading books, and fall in love with new hobbies. It’s wild what will emerge out of the black hole of media. Media stole energy from my home and family, substituting face-to-face time with screens.

Sorry if that’s a short description of this chapter, but I don’t have cable and just joined the smart phone era this month, so I’m already protecting myself here. Pinterest might be my downfall in this category, so I included it in my version of the fast. Maybe I should add excessive texting too. I would challenge anyone to try Jen’s challenge for a month. It’s peaceful and helps you focus on what is important in life.

Month 5 – Waste:

– Does ‘creation’ have anything to do with God whom I call ‘Creator’? Surely God isn’t worried about how we handle His creation that He created. Jen takes on 7 habits for a greener life this month: gardening, composting, conserving energy and water, recycling, driving one car, second-hand shopping/thrifting, buying only local.

“Today is Earth Day, or as evangelicals call it, Thursday.” Ouch.

– Until now, my  produce originated from the same place where it is all in season, all the time: the grocery store. Whether it is a hot-weather vegetable or a fruit that requires sandy soil, I haven’t a clue. It doesn’t matter because it can be prematurely picked, artificially ripened, and shipped from anywhere on earth if I need it for my cobbler that day. By subsidizing large-scale agriculture with government handouts, we: a) expedite the extinction of small farmers and diversified crops, b) facilitate agriculture that is destroying and polluting our soils and water, weakening our communities by concentrating wealth and power into a few hands. Only .18/dollar goes to the grower when buying at the supermarket. Farmers markets enable farmers to keep .80/dollar spent by the consumer. When you buy from an independent, locally owned business, twice the money recirculates through the community, doubling the positive impact on the local economy. Nonprofit organizations receive on average 250% more support from smaller business owners than they do from large businesses.

– Since we are recycling this month, we have zero trash. Americans 251 million tons of trash per year. Trash in a landfill will stay there for a really long time; with little oxygen and moisture, trash doesn’t decompose rapidly. Landfills aren’t meant to break it down, only bury it. Sites have to be monitored 30+ years because of contamination threats. Who knows what percentage of chemicals gets into our groundwater. What if we changed our label from ‘consumers’ to ‘stewards’? There are a limited number of resources in the world, and when we take more than we need, simply put, we are stealing from others. By pillaging the earth for more than our share, we break the 8th commandment. I was stealing from people, present  and future. Turns out I constantly steal from my kids (and yours). I’m snatching up goodies like clean air and water while millions of families clamor for a drink and struggle with disease. I’m throwing away excess paper and packaging while rain forests disappear.

– I keep thinking about our obsession with health. God gave us spectacular bodies, and we value them. But as certainly as God created man in His image, He first created the earth. With the same care He designed 60,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body, He also crafted hydrangeas and freshwater rapids and hummingbirds. The details He included while designing the earth are so extraordinary, it is no wonder He spent 5 days of the 6 days of creation on it. So, why don’t we care for the earth anywhere near to the degree we do our bodies?

Ps. 42:1-2 – The earth is the Lords, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the water.

– We should fulfill our calling to be caretakers of the earth regardless of whether global warming is real or there are holes in the ozone layer or three nonhuman species become extinct each day. Our vocation is not contingent on results or the state of the planet. Our calling simply depends on our identity as God’s response-able human image-bearers.

Month 6 – Spending

– Staying true to our generation, we dug a deep, dark debt hole to purchase the lifestyle we couldn’t afford but for some reason felt entitled to. Unwilling to live within our means. This month Jen buys from only 7 vendors: farmers market, gas station, online bill pay, kids school, travel fund, emergency medical, and target. That a big cut from the 66 vendors a month, not counting repeat visits. She cut down on a lot of excessive purchases.

– Let’s address the original objection, ‘But I tithe.’ This basic obedience exempts the rest of our spending, assuaging our consciences and checking the stewardship box. But you know Jesus, with the quick retort:

Luke 11:37-42 (MSG) – When he finished that talk, a Pharisee asked him to dinner. He entered his house and sat right down at the table. The Pharisee was shocked and somewhat offended when he saw that Jesus didn’t wash up before the meal. But the Master said to him, “I know you Pharisees burnish the surface of your cups and plates so they sparkle in the sun, but I also know your insides are maggoty with greed and secret evil. Stupid Pharisees! Didn’t the One who made the outside also make the inside? Turn both your pockets and your hearts inside out and give generously to the poor; then your lives will be clean, not just your dishes and your hands. 42“I’ve had it with you! You’re hopeless, you Pharisees! Frauds! You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but manage to find loopholes for getting around basic matters of justice and God’s love. Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required.

They never missed a penny of tithing, but shamelessly neglected justice and totally missed the point. Jesus remedy: Give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you. What if we gave new meaning to the verse ‘love your neighbor as yourself’, and gave 50% of our earnings to them, making them our equals? What if we gave 80% away? What if wealth and indulgence are creating a polished people rotting from the inside out, without even knowing it? Jesus never utters a positive word about the wealthy, only tons of parables with this observation: It is terribly hard for us to receive His kingdom. If this is true, then more than fearing poverty or simplicity, we should fear prosperity. If tithing the minimum and consuming the rest is okay, then we can dismiss Jesus’ ideas and act obsessed about other stuff He said. Annually the US spends $8billion on cosmetics, $12billion on perfume, $17billion on pet food, and only $6billion on global child education, $9billion on clean water for global citizens.

– What if our goal became nonconsumption? If you think of something you want, wait a month and see if you still need it. What if we redirected all that saved money to save people? What if we became wiser consumers? It’s simple to find out if a business has integrity or if they are building from the backs of slaves and children.

– We don’t see the New Testament church hoarding the feast for themselves; more Bible studies, more sermons, more programs, classes, training, conferences, information, more feasting for us. We are addicted to the buffet, skillfully discarding the costly discipleship required after consuming. The Phillippians send Paul money in spite of their own poverty.

– The pagan satirist Lucian (130-200 ce) mocked Christian kindness: “The earnestness with which the people of this religion help one another in their needs is incredible. They spare themselves nothing for this end. Their first lawgiver put it into their heads that they were all brethren.” Emperor Julian, who attempted to lead the Roman Empire back to paganism famously declared: “The impious Galileans relieve both their own poor and ours… It is shameful that ours should be so destitute of our assistance.” Would the early church look on us in disbelief seeing that Christians outnumber orphans 7 to 1? Would they see our wasteful spending and notice 25,000 people die every day from starvation? How will they judge us on the final day?  With a 6th of the world population claiming to be Christian, I don’t think they could reconcile the suffering happening on our watch while we live in excess. If we were following God’s principles we wouldn’t have to coax people into our sanctuaries. The local church would be the heartbeat of the city, undeniable by our staunchest critics. Instead the American church is dying. We made it acceptable for people to do nothing and still call themselves Christians. Last year, 94% of churches reported loss or no growth. 4,000 churches are closing annually. We are losing 3 million people annually. The church the Bible describes was wrought with sacrifice. It cost believers everything, and they still came.

Month 7 – Stress:

– This month Jen observed Sabbath, and prays 7 times a day everyday. We have too much going on. We are short fused, stressed out, overextended, and unrested. This pace is not sustainable. Not living in the moment; I’m just getting it done while thinking about what’s left. We race from one activity to another, teaching our children to max out and stress out. Nice legacy. Perhaps God designed Sabbath as a gift, not an obligation.  What if God understood our tendency to overwork and underrest, so He made it mandatory to breathe, pause, pray, and relax every week? God ordained the Sabbath for us, not just another requirement from us.

Mark 2:27 – The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath

– Everyday we are summoned to be creators of the present moment. Artists know the value of white space. Sometimes what isn’t there enables us to see what is. Perhaps you are being called to the spiritual practice of bringing a little of the white space into your workday by setting pauses on the hours, to stop and pray. Constant prayer interrupts our ego trips and disrupts our toxic trajectories.


– God sent the prince of peace. Self-deprecation is a cruel response to Jesus, who died to make us righteous. Guilt is not Jesus’ medium. He is battling for global redemption right now; His objective hardly includes huddling in the corner with us, rehashing our shame again. He finished that discussion on the cross. We’re so conditioned to being a problem that we’ve forgotten we’re actually the answer. God is not angry with you; how could he be? You’re on the team. Don’t imagine He is sitting us down for a lecture. Rather, He’s staging a rally, gathering the troops. He is staging a massive movement to bind up thebroken hearted and proclaim freedom to the captives. The trumpet is blowing. The Bride is awakening. I don’t want to base my life on what I’m against; that’s not inspiring enough motivation. May we embrace unity over infighting, bravery over comfort, us over me, people over principles, and God’s glory over our own. Together, let’s become repairers of broken walls and restorers.


Some questions to help you figure out what to fast:

1. What in my life, if taken away, would alter my value or identity?
2. What causes an unhealthy change of attitude, personality, or focus when ‘it’ becomes threatened?
3. What is the thing outside of God that you put everything else on hold for?

Women in the Church – Part 2

We left our last lesson talking about women in 5-fold ministry, so let’s pick back up there.

Eph. 4:6-7, 11- God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. 7But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift… 11And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers

The 5 types of ministry are:
1.apostles, 2.prophets, 3.evangelists, 4.pastors, 5.teachers

As you see in our scripture reference, all are called to one of the ministries; man or woman, child or elder, according to the measure God has given us. The more we are faithful with, the more we receive. And some of these women are working with a great measure. In our last lesson we saw Miriam, the prophetess, in the Old Testament, leading all of Israel. Now let’s look at some more examples of women working in the 5-fold ministry:

– Rom. 16:1-7 (NIV) –  I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. 2 I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me. 3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workerin Christ Jesus. 4 They risked their lives for me… 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

Paul has just greeted: 1. Phoebe, a woman deacon, 2. Priscilla, one of his women co-workers, and 3. Junia, a female apostle! He commended them; he did not rebuke them.

– Acts 18:26 – And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

Luke shows us here that it is okay for women to teach a man the ways of Christ. These women lovingly took this man aside to teach him the ways of God more accurately.

– Proverbs 31:26 – She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

Solomon shows us that there is wisdom in the teaching of women. Later, Solomon shows us what a person, who wouldn’t listen, would be called:

Prov. 1:7 – fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Prov. 31:1 – The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him.

Here we see that one of the most recited chapters in the Bible came from a woman. Lemuel was another name for King Solomon, who was the wisest man on earth; and he got his wisdom from God, through his mother Bathseba.

– Judges 4:4-5 – Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. 5 She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment.

Here we see a woman as the judge over all of Israel! We might as well call her the queen, since she was the one ruling. Deborah prophesied over a man, calling him out to be the next person to rescue Israel. This man was too scared to go to battle! He practically said, hold my hand mommy; so she went and God gave the honor of the victory to Deborah. If a woman can judge, or pastor, all of Israel, why can’t a woman be the pastor of a church of 50 people?

– Judges 4:8-9 – Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.” 9“Certainly I will go with you,” said Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.”

Thank God for letting a woman step up to lead; if He hadn’t, and He instead said, ‘women submit to men, no matter how bad their decisions are’, then Israel wouldn’t have been free from their enemies.

– 2 Kings 22:11-20 – 11When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. 12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest… saying, 13 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah… 14 So Hilkiah the priest… went to Huldah the prophetess… And she said to them… “Thus says the Lord,… because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the Lord,… your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place.’” And they brought back word to the king.

Once again, we see a man, the king of Judah, go to a woman to seek God’s advise and instruction. This woman, a prophetess, advised the nation and the king. If this woman had not been in the ministry the Lord had appointed her to, would Israel have been saved from God’s punishment?

– Acts 21:8-9 – On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied.

A daddy, in ministry, understood the word of God, and did not keep his daughters from working in the ministry.

– Luke 2:36 – And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.

– Joel 2:28-29 (ESV) – And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.

John 4:39-41 – Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony… 42 They said to the woman, “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.”

According to Jewish law, Jesus wasn’t supposed to speak to a Samaritan. He not only spoke to one, he spoke to a woman. This woman became an evangelist who made many believe, and they believed even more once they saw Jesus for themselves.

So in these verses we see women as apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists and pastors. Plus, you remember Mary, the first evangelist of the risen Christ from Part 1. You also see examples of women being deacons, leaders, and warriors; they spoke and ministered to women, children, men, kings, and nations.

Q: So what are women called to today?

Heb. 13:8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

A: If Christ doesn’t change, and Christ approved of women working in ministry in the Old and New Testaments, then He still approves today. You also saw multiple instances where women were instructing men, and submitting to Christ over their husbands, so lets look at that a little closer:

In 1 Samuel 25, Abigail’s husband was a fool. He, his family, and everything he had, was about to be destroyed because of his foolishness. Abigail, his wife, left without telling him, and said yes to what her husband had said no to. She went, and set the matter straight, and it saved the lives of many. David, the king, gave praise to God for her actions and called her blessed, even though she had not submitted to her husband. Later when Abigail’s husband died, David took her as his wife.

If submitting to everything your husband tells you is the right way, then 1. everyone would have been dead, and 2. David, the man after God’s heart, wouldn’t have wanted her as his wife.

1 Sam. 25:32-34 – David said to Abigail, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. 33May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands. 34Otherwise, as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has kept me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak.”

As long as submitting to our husbands does not lead us into sin, then we should respectfully follow them. However, we cannot submit to a husband who is in sin; we cannot put our husbands above our submission to God. If we do, it’ll lead us to death. Likewise, we cannot hold up Christ’s blessing of leadership without respect for men either. Lot’s wife was a good example of a woman that should have respected her husband. Instead of listening to his wise words, she turned back to her sin and turned into a pillar of salt. This way, a man who is following God can save his wife, and a woman following God can save her husband.

Back to respecting women in leadership, Mary asked Jesus to make wine. Jesus said it wasn’t his time yet; but then, Jesus obeyed His mother and made the wine.

John 2:3-4, 7, 11 – When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”… Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”… 7Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”… 11What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory

Since we know Christ never sinned, then what his mother asked was not sinful. Even though Christ had not yet performed any miracles, God used his mother to spur him into God’s timing, to start revealing himself. She did not ask in order to honor herself. She asked in order to protect the bride and groom from the shame of running out of wine. This example shows us that we can all respect each other, no matter what status, age, sex, or level of gifting we hold; even Christ respected his mother. We just can’t follow others into sin.


 Gal. 3:28 (NLT) – There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and femaleFor you are all one in Christ Jesus.

I’ll take this a step further since I was telling you about my girlfriend who was traveling and teaching, from the pulpit, from age 12. There is no young or old in Christ, for we are all one. If we are all one, then there is nothing that separates us in Christ. Christ gave the gift of His Holy Spirit to everyone who believes; and it is the Spirit that guides us into truth, not our age. No one should be leading if they don’t have respect for the other members of the body. If a man has no respect for women, they shouldn’t be leading. If a child has no respect for elders, they shouldn’t be leading. Otherwise, everyone should be working in their God given calling.

1 Tim. 4:12 – Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

Ps. 8:2 – You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength, silencing your enemies and all who oppose you.

Matt. 21:15-16 – But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. 16“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “ ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”

That needs to be a whole separate study, so just chew on it for now and lets move back to the topic at hand.


Remember the language barrier from part 1? Let’s look at more of that:

– 1 Tim. 2:11-15 – A woman (wife) should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man (husband); she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women (wives) will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with self-restraint.

This is not saying that the act of having children brings a woman salvation from her sins. That would be a weird doctrine…

This was written to the Greek city of Ephesus; the head of polytheism. Women, from all around, came to this city to give birth, saying Artemis the goddess of the city would protect them during childbirth. Many of these women wouldn’t convert to Christianity for fear of dying during childbirth.

Paul is teaching the women that they don’t need Artemis to protect them during childbirth; that those who continue in the Christian faith will be ‘saved’, or not die, during childbirth.

– 1 Tim. 2:12 – I do not permit a woman (wife) to teach or to assume authority over a man (husband); she must be quiet.

There are over 40 words used for ‘authority’ in the bible, and this one is only used here. In this one instance, ‘authority’, means to murder with ones own hand. It meant, to slap with the back of the hand, or assume all power. If Paul had wanted to say women shouldn’t take any authority over a man, he would’ve used a different word that meant good and bad authority. Since he instead uses a word for castrating authority, then we have to see that women are still allowed to lead with good authority.

– 1 Tim. 2:13 – For Adam was formed first, then Eve.

Paul mentions that Adam was made before Eve, because this was a Greek city where they believed woman, the greek goddess Gaia, was created before man. Paul was trying to correct a specific issue where women were dominating over men. And yes, it is wrong for anyone to dominate over anyone; women over men, men over women – its wrong. Love and respect are what we are called to. Equal dominion, just like at creation. Both leading; both teaching. The whole bible empowers women, but this one writer, in 3 restrictive verses catered to specific locations and situations, we have taken out of context and formed a culture on for 2,000 years… infuriating. But we can already see our minds starting to align with Christ; and we can openly, and lovingly, share our views, inciting change in the minds of those around us.


Back to Genesis, we see how God made us in the beginning:

– Genesis 1:26 – Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.

God gave both, man and woman, the right to rule. He didn’t put one over the other.

– Gen. 2:20 – The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.

I don’t think the word ‘helper’ is supposed to mean Adam’s pin-up girl. Adam needed help with his work load; he needed a ‘helper’ to help him maintain Eden, and name all the animals.

1 Cor. 6:13 – The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

Granted, within marriage, Adam and Eve’s sexual union would not have been sexually immoral, but this verse still says the body was made for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. We are the body of Christ, and He calls the WHOLE body to action. Men can’t carry the gospel on their own. The church needs women and their unique ability to bring life, comfort, and emotion. Maybe there are so many people who hate Christians right now, because there are a lack of women leading, showing the softness of God instead of the sternness that men bring by nature. Women are fashioned to share in dominion. Yes, there was a curse put over women, but remember part 1 and how that curse was broken? Moving on then…


 1 Cor. 11:2-16 – … I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head

We’ll cover what this passage is talking about with 3 bullets:

1. Ancient sources indicate that women, in the Greek religion, commonly participated in religious ceremonies without headcoverings, while male priests, in the Roman religion, normally covered their heads for ceremonies. Paul was telling them to come out from under those cultures, and make themselves separate and set apart to God. He told them to just go ahead and do the opposite so that people could see they were different and ask why. The covering was then symbolic of where your authority lay. If I’m a woman who came from the Greek religion, where women spoke without covering their head, I will now cover my head to show that I am under the authority of Christ. If I am a man coming from the Roman religion, where men spoke with covered heads, I will now speak with my head uncovered to show that I am under the authority of Christ.

Ps. 91:4 – He will cover you with His feathers; you will take refuge under His wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield.

2. Furthermore, this verse from Psalms helps us see what a covering is for. A covering is for protection. A woman should cover her head, her husband, and protect him while she speaks. She can speak, but she should not do so in a way that is unloving toward her husband. A man should not cover, or hide, or protect Christ, his head. How can a person protect Christ? They can’t. Especially since the only way they could ‘protect’ Him would be through arguments, which Christ said not to do. Win people over in love. Show people what you believe and why, but do not argue with them. If they do not agree or want to hear you, then pray for them. Divisions, dissensions, and rivalries come from the flesh, not from the Spirit of God. So, we cannot protect Christ, and we certainly should not try to hide Him or His truth; That’s what 1 Corinthians 11 is about.

3. The people who do think this passage is about anti-women teaching, do not enforce their women to wear traditional Jewish head coverings, which is evidence that they are viewing scripture with a context as well. Everyone views scripture in the context of their own lives and cultures. The goal is to take our experiences, and our culture out of our minds, and renew our minds with the Word of God. We need to see the full story, not a pet scripture that is out of context with the rest of the Bible.


 Ps. 68:11-13 – The Lord gives the word; the women who announce the news are a great host: 12 “The kings of the armies—they flee, they flee!” The women at home divide the spoil—13 though you men lie among the sheepfolds

These women heard the Lord, proclaimed His message, and received His reward, while the men stayed at home tending their own business. Let’s all make the Lords business our focus. Let’s all respect and empower each other. Let’s build the body up.

Women in the Church – Part 1

This is the most powerful teaching I’ve ever heard, much less tried to regurgitate. No doubt it will stretch some believers, and maybe scare or offend some, but I couldn’t recommend another study, to anyone, over this one. There are some denominations that think its okay for women to speak and there are some that don’t think it’s okay for women to speak. Sadly, the only side I’ve ever heard speak on the topic, are the churches that would stifle women. Even after growing up around women who were speaking, and leading at the age of 13, I had some verses in the back of my mind that I couldn’t help but wonder about. I’m sure most women have them in the back of their head too. Let’s bring it to the front and see what the Bible really says about women’s roles in the church.


First, let’s talk about the woman’s curse and some language barriers in the New Testament:

Gen. 3:16 – Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.

This verse doesn’t say men are to rule over women, but that husband would rule over the wife (and even that was not God’s will, but the natural punishment of our trespassing boundaries).

language studyIn the Hebrew language there are separate words for man, woman, wife, and husband. In the Greek language there are not separate words for man/husband, or woman/wife. Let’s look at a couple scriptures in the new testament where having separate words could change the way we read them:

1 Cor. 11:3 – But I want you to realize that the head of every man (husband?) is Christ, and the head of the woman (wife?) is man.

If we read this verse with the translation man and woman, then we now have more of a curse on us than we did in the Old Testament curse. If we read this verse using the translation husband and wife, instead of adding a heavier curse on women, the verse is simply repeating the old testament verse – that the husband will rule over the wife.

Gal. 3:13 – Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law.

Q: If Christ redeemed us, then is the husband still ruling over the wife? No.

Eph. 5:24-25 – … wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

Eph. 5:33 – each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

1 Cor. 7:4 – … the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.

A: Culturally men used to own women, as they would a house, but now Paul invites a culture where women have ownership of their husbands too. Now it is an equal thing. Paul used to be, Saul, a Pharisee. If a Pharisee had heard Paul give women this authority, they would’ve had a stroke. See, between the last book of the Old Testament, and the first book of the New Testament, was 400 years. During that time we see the rise of the religion termed Judaism, with Pharisees and Sadducees. These terms weren’t mentioned in the Old Testament under the Mosaic Law. If fact there were only 252 laws given under Moses. Yet, in Judaism there were 613 laws, 100 of which were written against women. Pharisees hated women. Jewish women at the time were kin to slaves with no rights. They received no respect, and had no voice. They were the property of men. They could not own land. They were not allowed a formal education. They were required to veil their face in public, and if they didn’t, there was grounds for divorce. If there was a male visitor to the house, the woman would have to eat in another room. They were subject to arranged marriages, and sometimes polygamy. Women couldn’t vote or even be a witness in a court trial (more on this in the next section). They weren’t allowed to read the Torah. One teacher during that time even said: ‘I would rather burn the Torah than have a woman read it.’ They couldn’t even pray at meals.

So, having a former Pharisee say something like, ‘the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife’, would have been amazingly controversial. As we know, Jesus often had the same effect when He was teaching. So, should it surprise us that His disciples are still fighting against these added laws, and denominations, which hold no truth?

Back to the ruling vs. equality thing – Women now are asked to submit and respect their husbands, and husbands to give themselves up for their wives. Husbands no longer rule, or force, their wives, but instead become equal servants. This is the reverse of the curse. If you are a woman and don’t honor God’s word, to respect and submit to your husband, then the natural response of your husband might end up being: that he gets angry, there is a lot of discord in the home because there are dueling authorities, and eventually these footholds may turn into a stronghold, and he might start beating you; which is not God’s will. Husbands should love their wives. Remember the love chapter? Love is not self-seeking. Remember how Jesus died for the church? Men should not rule over their wives, but love and give themselves over to the woman. This way there is equality.

Of course some countries are still living under the curse because there is only freedom from the curse where the Spirit of the Lord is. All those who love God have His Spirit and that Spirit guides them into Truth if they will follow.

2 Cor. 3:17 – where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.


Tidbit:

Luke 8:1-3 – Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him, along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons; Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.

Jesus didn’t follow the cultural tendency to keep women in ignorance. He had women following him, just like the disciples, getting their education.


Let’s look at this one verse through this next segment:

1 Cor. 14:34-35 – Women (wives?) should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman (wife?) to speak in the church.

Q: Is this verse saying women should be silent in church and submit to men, or that wives should not speak out of turn to their husbands, or what?
A: Well, that’s a multi part answer. We’ll cover it in 4 points:

1. First, if Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, and the original curse was submission to husbands, why would we now be submitted to all men? Wasn’t the point of redemption, from the law, to make the curse less intense instead of strengthening the curse? Let’s look further:

2. The context of this segment of 1 Corinthians 14 is talking about order in church service, not about women’s rights. Other verses in the same chapter empower women:

1 Cor. 14:34-35 – Women (wives?) should remain silent in the churches

1 Cor. 14:39 – my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy.

1 Cor. 14:5 – I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy.

1 Cor. 14:26 – What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.

Why would God ask women to be eager to prophesy if they weren’t supposed to use the gift to speak in church, where 1 Cor. 14:4 says, ‘the one who prophesies edifies the church’? How can a woman edify the church if she can’t speak in church? Seems like our ideas are not God’s ideas. God says its okay for women to speak in church; I say I’m following Him. I want the whole truth, not a pet scripture out of context, that cuts off half the body.

Since this verse says, in fact, that women are allowed to speak in the church, then what is the other verse for again?

1 Cor. 14:34-35 – Women (wives?) should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

1 Cor. 14:29-33 – Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 30 But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

This verse says, women shouldn’t interrupt a service with questions, or speak at an inappropriate time that causes confusion. The one who speaks over someone else is not being loving, whether they are a man or a woman. If anyone has a question they should ask after the appointed time of listening. So why were women singled out?

3. The old testament says this to both men and women:

Eccl. 5:1-2 (HCSB) – Guard your steps when you go to the house of God… Do not be hasty to speak.

Eccl. 5:1 (NIV) – when you go to the house of GodGo near to listen.

Sounds like no one should be interrupting service. So why were the women singled out again?

4Paul wrote his letters to specific locations, churches, and even people in those churches. The few restrictive verses on women that he gave were all specific messages to Greek cities that had a goddess as the head of the city.

Corinth worshipped Aphrodite
Ephesus worshipped Artemis
Crete worshipped Kynthia

Let’s get to know this Greek culture so we can understand the context of the verse and future ones:
– The Greeks loved women and gave them more authority than men. Their reason being, mens sex drives are stronger and women decide what they do with their own bodies, holding the power over the man.
– The most honored people in these 3 greek cities were women priestess, at the temple of the goddess of the city. Meaning the converted christian men in these cities would be used to having women speak at religious events, and the converted christian women would be used to speaking at them. Women already talk too much. Can you imagine how much more they would talk while being enabled to speak over a man? I can’t imagine that an empowered Grecian woman would be much different than an American one – can’t get a word in edgewise. Maybe if the men had been faced with such an urgency to talk, that they disrupted service, they would’ve been singled out too.
Greek women were also allowed to have an education; so these newly converted men didn’t know any more than the women did. It wasn’t like the pharisees who knew more scripture because they suppressed their women and kept them from having an education. What good would it have been to go home and ask a husband of equal knowledge? So when it says women can’t speak, it must be talking about the timing and disruptive nature of the speaking. Let’s face it, the few denominations that hold this verse over their women, still let them speak in church; just not preach. They are adding context to the verse too. Otherwise they would be silent when they enter, and wouldn’t sing.
Paul also told these cities it was better to not marry, so there were plenty of singles who couldn’t go home to ask questions later anyway. They would’ve had to ask during a part of the church service that was designated for questions. Americans typically do this after service.
– And finally, and maybe most importantly, in these early churches, men and women sat on opposite sides of the room. For a woman to ask a question, in church, to her husband, meant she would have to scream across the room to him, interrupting the ordered time of listening. Disruptive much?! No wonder they were singled out to be quiet.

I think bullet 2 speaks the loudest, seeing the context of the chapter, but hopefully you’re catching the drift here. It’s okay for women to speak in church. Paul was addressing a very specific instance, in a very specific location, about being disruptive.


Next, let’s talk about women in the bible that dared to speak in church.

Instance #1

John 12:3-4, 7-8 – 3Then Mary took a pound of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair… Judas Iscariot… objected, 5“Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?… 7Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

‘Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said’ (Luke 10:39), had a clear understanding that Christ would die, and she was leading the pack with that knowledge. The 12 disciples hadn’t gotten the picture; Peter even got rebuked for denying that Christ would die. They not only didn’t get it sometimes, but they didn’t do anything to serve or prepare Jesus for it. A great leader is a servant, which puts Mary leading the pack in service and understanding. We see that Jesus is fighting on her side, and the men are against Mary’s leadership; not just Judas, but all the disciples.

Matt. 26:8 – When the disciples saw this, they were indignant.

Luke 7:39-43 – When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” 40Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,”…  44Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

Once again we see a man opposing this leading woman, even calling her actions sinful, and Christ rebukes him. The funny thing is, this one was a Pharisee who obviously lived by the added laws we talked about earlier. The disciples, however, were not learned men. They had been brainwashed by their culture, even while trying to follow Christ.

Instance #2

Did you notice in the previous instance that Mary had one pound of perfume for Christ’s burial? One pound was the typical amount needed for a Jewish burial. Nicodemus brought and used 100 pounds of this expensive embalming material; that was enough for use in a hundred or more common Jewish burials.

John 19:38‑40 (NKJV) – Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus… Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night, came too, bringing a hundred pounds of embalming ointment made from myrrh and aloes. Together they wrapped Jesus’ body in a long linen cloth saturated with the spices, as is the Jewish custom of burial.

Matt. 28:1 – After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

The Marys went to LOOK at the tomb. Could it be that Mary, the one who sat at Jesus feet, was again the only one who got Jesus? The only one who understood that He would rise again, and the only one with enough faith to go early in the morning to look at the tomb to see if He had risen? The men weren’t there.

When she got there, she noticed the rock had been moved and Jesus wasn’t in the tomb. She rushed to tell the men. But of the 11 disciples that were left, only two went to the tomb. Remember earlier when we mentioned that women were not allowed as a witness in court? It might be important to note that Mary was told to go tell the disciples. She had divine authority to be the first witness of the risen Christ. Were the men too self-righteous in their worldly traditions to see what God was doing? Were they so unwilling to hear a woman that they missed the Resurrection of Jesus?

John 20:6-9 – Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

The two men left, but Mary stayed and waited on the Lords presence and was richly rewarded.

Mark 16:9 – When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene

Mark 16:1 – When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus‘ body.

Why was Mary carrying more spices when she went to look at the tomb? Did she really intend to add to the 100 pounds of oil that were already on Christs body in the tomb? How did she expect to get in this tomb? It had a giant boulder and guards blocking it. Remember how Mary had anointed Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair in instance 1? Mary was the only one who not only understood that Christ was about to die, but also prepared him for it. I don’t think she came to the tomb looking to rewrap Christs body with linens she didn’t bring, or add more oils to the 100 pounds. I think she came looking because she also understood He was going to rise. And she wanted to be there to prepare and anoint the risen King of Israel. There were no men looking or waiting for Him, but Mary was once again with Jesus, anointing His head with oil, and wiping his feet with her hair and tears of joy.

Matt. 28:5-9 – The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.

Isn’t this the good news? That Jesus has conquered death and the grave, and risen into His Kingship? Funny how the first carriers, witnesses, proclaimers, preachers of the good news were women bent on seeing the face of Christ and expecting Him to fulfill His promises.

Mark 16:9‑11 – Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.

We found out where the men were after all. Mourning and weeping! They didn’t understand His promise and, if they did, they didn’t have faith when they heard the good news. They certainly weren’t going to listen to the preaching of a woman. Their loss then; their loss now.

Luke 24:10‑11 – It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them.

Seems to me like Jesus is okay with women teaching men. Seems to me that he orchestrated that whole thing to show us something. Not just to show us that women can teach men, but to warn men to heed the teaching.

Eph. 4:1-7,11-16 – Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. 7But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift… 11And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. 14As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

Jesus is calling forth the women. He has been calling since the beginning, and He still is.

We, the body of Christ, cannot reach maturity until we have built the body up in love. The love of God, which is not boasting/exalting of men, proud of men, or dishonoring to women. We, the body, cannot reach maturity until we become unified in this kind of love. Right now, the body has been cut in half. Only half are operating in the the 5-fold ministry to serve and build up the church. We’ve allowed our culture, and our willingness to follow manmade rules and doctrine instead of Christ, to lead us into a lack of knowledge of who Christ really is. Satan is scared stiff of Eve. He knows that when she comes to the realization of what he has taken from her – hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

If we want Jesus to return for us, we have to become the mature, intact, loving body, and bride of Christ that He has called us to be. The men who disagreed, and dishonored what God had honored, missed the first Resurrection. Men, are you missing out on something from God because your ways aren’t lined up with God’s ways? Women, I ask that you start searching out the full measure of Christ, and step into your God given place in the works of service Christ has called you to. The body needs our help, our love, our knowledge, our gifts, and our callings. Women carried the very first gospel message, and whether people listen or not, we aren’t going to stop proclaiming, “He is Risen!”


Last tidbit for today, then we’ll finish this discussion in Part 2.

Directly after Christ was announced the Son of God, Satan began to tempt him. Satan will continue to tempt us in the same ways.

Matt. 4:5-10 – Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ”7Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ”

John 8:44 – the devil… was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Through this verse we know that Satan is the father of lies, and there is NO truth in him. So how can there be no truth in him if he knows and recites, the truth, the word of God, to Jesus?

Satan has taken the scripture out of context and stripped it of its truth and power. He will tempt us all, the same way he tempted Jesus: 1.with what we need/want, 2.with taking all the glory for our God given calling/doing things in the wrong timing/doing things that don’t line up with scripture, 3.with scripture. We have to know Jesus, the Word of God, better than Satan. We have to know it and keep it intact! When Satan brings up a verse, we need to search out the rest of the Bible and make sure it aligns with the big picture! We need to make sure it aligns to Christ and His truth, and that it isn’t an unaligned lie from Satan. Teachers are good, but we can’t let any teacher, or denomination, become our golden calf that we hold up, and worshipped, above Jesus. Sometimes, there are leaders that have quit looking for Christ’s full measure, and have settled on worldly ways. We need to remember that we are all works in progress, and we are all tempted; even our leaders and forefathers.

Ex.32:2-4 – Aaron said to them, “Take the objects of gold from the ears of your wives, your sons and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took the gold objects from their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took the gold from their hands, worked on it with a sharp tool, and by melting it, made it into a calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.”

Aaron led the people of Israel. He stripped the women of their adornments and said, ‘this is the God you follow.’ Are you on your guard to see if your leader is causing you to worship false gods? Women, are you allowing your leader to strip you of the gold adornments God has given you when He led you out of your powerless slavery? Do you see God as the God who frees the oppressed and gives them power, or are you allowing someone to make you worship a god that is powerless and makes you powerless?  You judge for yourself what sounds like the full gospel of Christ and what sounds like a scripture that’s been idolized to deceive.

Ex. 15:19-21 – When Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the Lord brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground. 20Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. 21Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.”

Ex. 15:1 – Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: “I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.

A woman, in the Old Testament, working in the 5-fold ministry as a prophet, sang a new song to God, and led the nation of Israel in worship.


If you want to know more you can: Fashioned to Reign
1. Listen to the podcasts in the below links:
http://podcasts.ibethel.org/en/podcasts/the-theology-of-empowering-women-part-1

http://podcasts.ibethel.org/en/podcasts/the-theology-of-empowering-women-part-2

2. Get this book: Fashioned to Reign by Kris Valloton
3. Or wait for Part 2 of this blog post

About 80% of this post came from the podcast