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Posts Tagged ‘equality’

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After all of the detailed instructions were given about what was to be made for God’s house, God instructs Moses on who was to make these things.

The Lord said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you: the tent of meeting, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is on it, and all the furnishings of the tent, the table and its utensils, and the pure lampstand with all its utensils, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the basin and its stand,10 and the finely worked garments,[a] the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, for their service as priests, 11 and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense for the Holy Place. According to all that I have commanded you, they shall do.” ~Exodus 31:1-11

As In Exodus 28:3, here, in Exodus 31:1-11 God elaborates further upon who he had called to work for him with their hands.  These passages highlight the truth that God calls and equips people to work specific trades for his namesake in the assembly.

Specifically, Bezalel was called to head up this undertaking.  Bezalel was like the foreman over the craftsmen.  He was from the tribe of Judah.  Judah – the apple of God’s eye.  Apparently skilled craftsmen called to work as builders and mechanics were quite valuable and honorable in the kingdom work God was dealing out.  In fact, these men were just as valuable and honorable as the men called to any other type of ministry in the house of God.

We have to get this.  The church has strayed so far away from the truth regarding the great variety of God’s calling and giftings that we have begun to consider tradesmen and craftsmen as unspiritual or important in the building of God’s kingdom.  Even our culture considers those who work with their hands as inferior to those who work white collar intellectual jobs.  These ideas could not be further from the truth that scripture teaches us here in Exodus. Matthew Henry says this:

“Skill in common arts and employments is the gift of God…He teaches the husbandman discretion and the tradesman, too…God dispenses his gifts variously, one gift to one, another to another, and all for the good of the whole body, both of mankind and of the church.  Moses was the fittest of all to govern Israel, but Bezalel was fitter than he to build the tabernacle.  …the genius of some leads them to be serviceable one way, of others another way, and all these worketh that one and the same Spirit.”

Consider carefully this passage next time you are tempted to think tradesmen are not called, not Spirit led, not as important, and not as necessary as the priests and preachers in the building of God’s house and kingdom on earth.  Clearly, God fills certain men with the Spirit IN ORDER TO have, “…the ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood to work in every craft,” and he has given, “…all able men ability, that they may make…” all that he had commanded Moses concerning the building of his house.

Moses was the voice of God for the people.  The tradesmen were the hands of God for the people.  Moses was the fittest of all to govern Israel, but Bezalel was fitter than he to build the tabernacle.  God gives us each other that we all might work together for the building of his great and glorious kingdom.  We need one another.  We need variety and diversity within the body.  Can the foot say to the hand, “I don’t need you” ?  Surely not!  Stop ranking men according to their job titles.  Every job is valuable and infinitely important in the work of the kingdom and every job is Spirit led when the man or woman working it loves and follows the Lord.  AMEN.

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Here, the Lord elaborates further on the Passover commemoration instructions.  The whole company is just leaving Egypt.  God wasted no time in instructing His people on exactly who may come celebrate and how they are to carry out this grand remembrance of His mercy and greatness toward them.  Moses and Aaron are taught exactly who may eat, who may not, and a few more details on how it may and may not be eaten.  All obligations of the Passover meal point to Jesus Christ and His church.

The underlying theme for the people of God here is preparedness.  No one may come to this meal uncircumcised.  Circumcision was to the people of Israel what regeneration is to Christians.  No one can come to the table celebrating God’s great mercy and miraculous deliverance lest he be first converted and circumcised of heart.

We are shown that anyone may come as long as he is circumcised.  No foreigners may come.  No one who is a hired servant or compensated in any way for his work may come.  But every slave who has been both bought and circumcised may take part.  If there is ownership of a slave – a slave that has been purchased by the people of God – that man is as welcome at the table as a blood-born Jew.

Furthermore, they must always eat the meal inside and all together in one house.  Slaves did not eat one place and masters another.  No.  All together and never outside where foreigners or hired hands would be able to take part.  And the animals’ bones must never be broken.

Lastly, one law applied to all who ate.  The rules applied across the board.  Jews did not have special privileges over sojourners or slaves.  This must have been quite unsettling to Jews because it indicated that their privilege and position with God was based not in their bloodline, but their earnest dedication to God.

The only ones who may come to the Lord’s table are those who have been properly prepared.  Preparedness is for us, conversion.  No one who works for salvation is welcome.  Likewise, no one outside of salvation may eat at Christ’s communion table.  Yet, all are welcome if they have been purchased – bought by the blood of Christ.  Those who are owned by the Father may come freely but those who are trusting in self-sufficient works are wholly unwelcome.  Everyone is to come into one house.  Some are not relegated to a lesser, lower place because the basis of belonging is neither work related nor nepotistic in nature.  The basis of belonging to Christ is, and always has been, our true love and dedication to Him.  No favoritism has ever been condoned in the house of God.  All are bound by one law and no one has privilege or position based on anything other than their love for God and His for them.

What a beautiful picture of how the church ought to look – how God’s people ought to come to feast upon Him.  Prepared.  Grace-dependent.  Unified.  Equally honorable.  Equally honored.  Collectively submitted to a singular law based solely upon grace and our response to it.

Praise God for His mercy!  They did not have to be Jews to celebrate the Passover with equal treatment and honor in the house of God’s people.  Slave, pilgrim – no matter!  It was their house, too!  I do not have to be from a particular family or social class, structure, or group to celebrate His grace and my deliverance with equal treatment and honor in the house of God.  It is my house, too!  If He is my deliverer, I am, and always will be a full-privilege member of his company.  I am included on the merits of one condition: His faithfulness.  Praise God for his mercy toward even me – a weary sojourner who has absolutely nothing but the blood (His – not mine!) to bank on!

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biblegirl

If you give a girl a Bible, she’s going to ask her Father what it means.  When he begins to explain it to her in the quiet of her soul, she’s going to know she has a gift and know she’s made for more.  When the gift becomes his glory, she’s going to use it all the time.  So she will sing or plan or teach or write.  When she’s done she’ll share those gifts with you and she’ll want to read some more.

She might do something unrefined or something strange indeed, but she is more than mommy, sister, wife, and matcher of the socks.  She is the very image of a God who lives outside the box.

If you give a girl a label, though, and strip away her clothes, Her Almighty Father will run right back to her and tell you where to keep your nose.  The girl was made to be like Him and not what you expect.  She will be what God designed and ask him what is next.

Never tell that girl to stop.  She is not yours to guide.  She does not need to fit a mold; She has Jesus by her side.

If you give a girl a Bible, do not be surprised, if God does not make out of her a fellow image bearer who asks, with you, o man, to be coequally wise.

Ok, so I stole that idea from Hannah Anderson who stole it from Laura Numeroff’s “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”  The truth is, if you write a book, people are going to adopt your thinking.  Eureka!  You’ve accomplished your goal.  When you write about the Bible – whether it is a book, a blog, a column, or an article, you’ve got to expect to questions, too.  When you’re a guy those questions are often, “What do you mean by…?”  or “How does that apply?” or “Are there any cross references?”  When you’re a girl they go more like this, “Who do you think you are?” ” How do you know?” or  “Where did you copy and paste that from?”

Hannah Anderson, a native of our very own Fayette County, Pennsylvania, wrote a book entitled “Made for More” wherein she explains the place women hold in God’s design, and, more importantly, in his heart.  It is not a book about roles or rules or relegation.  It is a book about who we are, our value, our place, and the mistaken security we draw from our long-held good girl proving positions.

The book, which was published by Moody in April 2014, has already topped many prestigious must-read charts (bloggingtheologically.com, monergism.com) and been recommended by many influential voices including the Gospel Coalition.

Hannah writes about Imago Dei (the image of God) and how “Imago Dei knowledge means searching for him (God) with childlike curiosity, wide-eyed and eager to discover who He is and the world he has made.”  For some of us, that means offering musical talent or mothering or CEOing or teaching or debating or preaching or writing.  It can mean a million things because when we live in his image, everything we do is in him – not just the church resume filling, important sounding, women’s work kind of things.  Still, when your gender is female, sometimes God given gifts are viewed sorely – especially when the cookie cutters have stopped being made by the we-always-did-it-this-wayers.

When I was a little girl, my mom used to wear a t-shirt which read, “General know it all.”  Maybe it was because she acted like she knew it all and didn’t think it was a bad thing.  Or, maybe it was because she was educated, intelligent, opinionated, and…female – in a time and place where the first three were not allowed to cohabitate with the last.  Often, we learn to adopt the labels people place upon us when we cannot crawl out from underneath of them.  Redemptively, Hannah writes, “When you commit yourself to Christ, he will make you the purest, most authentic version of yourself.”

And he does.  He puts desires, gifts, talents, and motivations into our hearts in order to draw us and others into his very presence.  The more we explore Him, the more we find ourselves.

 Therefore, when I write about theology, I do not want people to ask who I think I am.  I want them to ask who God is.  I don’t want them to say I’m that Mrs. know it all girl who’s fighting for a man’s place in the world.  I want them to say God knows all and because he says I have a place in the world – the place he called me to as a co-equal person in the grand scheme – what I have to say about Him is just as important and valuable as what my male counterparts have to say.

Hannah does an excellent job of bringing out the issues facing women pertaining to biblical equality, stereotypes, works mentality, and gender superiority/inferiority misconceptions.  This is an as-soon-as-you-possibly-can must read for Christians – brothers and sisters alike.  Bravo!

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Each day we start school with a passage from Acts.  Maylee has started a new trend exclaiming, “I hate Acts!  I love Acts!” whenever it is time to read it.  I feel ya, May.

I begin by asking the girls, “What do you think will happen to Paul today?”

“He’ll probably get beat up again!”  “Stoned!”  “Put in jail!”

“Nope.  Not today.  Today, something even worse happens.  Today, Paul sets out to find a quiet place to pray and get some peaceful Sunday rest with his two best theological buddies and finds…women.  The horror.

 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. ~Acts 16:13-16

“Did Paul chase the women away and claim the prayer territories for him and the boys?”

“Noooo.”

“Did he avoid the women who were so obviously there waiting for instruction on the scriptures and go somewhere more suitable for him and his buddies?”

“NoooOooo.”

“Did he start praying and try to ignore the women who were right in front of him as best he could?”

“NO!”

“What did he do?”

“He talked to ’em.”

Yep.  The text says he spoke to the women.  He taught the gospel and led at least one of them to the Lord.  Then, she and her whole family got baptized.  Afterward, she invited he and his friends to her home and they went.  They stayed.

How sketchy that mighta looked, huh?

But these guys were more interested in doing right than in looking right.  Reluctantly, and after much persuasion, they agreed to go to Lydia’s home.

Paul honored the women he encountered.  He sacrificed his own agenda and well-deserved repose for them.  He respected them without avoiding or ignoring them.  He conversed with them, visited them, and even stayed in one of their homes with a pure heart and a clear conscience.

Interesting.

That’s quite different than a man saying he respects and honors women as he covers his eyes, walks five blocks out of their way, and hides in the basement with his bible and his buddies.  But that doesn’t happen, does it?  How silly of me.

I do wonder what would happen today if a group of women held their bible study in a place they knew all the leading men in the church frequented.  I wonder what its like to purposefully position yourself as closely as possible to the teachers hoping to retrieve the crumbs of their off-camera wisdom.  I wonder if the leading men of the church today would converse freely with the inquisitive women?  Would they be avoided?  Ignored?  Acquiesced when offering a persuasive invitation?  Would there be segregation in our so-called progressive world?  Would there be obvious, unspoken separation between folks stemming from things such as fear, pride, insecurity, and impurity?  I wonder.

I wonder what it’s like to be a successful, spiritual, assertive, intelligent woman like Lydia – asking to be friended and taught by successful, spiritual, assertive, intelligent men.

Well, I suppose I really couldn’t say for sure.  I really don’t know much about studying the Bible, religious hubs, or weird dynamics between men and women in the church today, but if I did, I’d venture to bet Paul, Luke, and Silas might just be standing alone on this one.

I hate Acts.  I love Acts.  At least no one got beat up today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kXMmfTyWxs

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The Lord led me to Romans 1:12 this morning (even though I’m really anxious to get the Job monkey off my back some time before the rapture…) Anyway, I thought this must be important for today and so here I am.

 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. ~Romans 1:12

Paul, after introducing himself as both a servant and an apostle, (one cannot be the latter without being the former), opens his letter to the Romans in a way every leader ought to take note of.

He offers those to whom he would soon be ministering grace and peace from God.  He does his best to help them understand how thankful he is for them.  He commends their faith of which he has already heard.  He assures them of his concern and love for them by making them aware of how prayerful he has been specifically for them.  He further embraces them by letting them know how anxious and desirous he is to see them and to give of his own gifts for their benefit.

That’s where verse 12 comes in.  It’s the answer to the question of why Paul felt this way, why he was so excited to see and know them, and why he was so anxious to preach to them.

It wasn’t because he was on a marketing campaign to count up his converts and be the biggest name in Christianity.  He concern and love were actual, genuine, and real for those he desired to teach.  It was about them, not him.

It wasn’t because he was a relentless goal achiever who felt his next “project” was waiting for him.  No.  He recognized that he himself was just as much a project as anyone he would be teaching.

It wasn’t because he couldn’t wait to get a new program started by which he could neatly fit all of his inferior subjects into for intimidation, manipulation, condescension, life-fixing, and moral instilling.  No.  There was another reason Paul loved and prayed for these people.  There was a far better reason he couldn’t wait to see them and know them.

 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. ~Romans 1:12

Paul, in his God-given wisdom, understood how to be a gracious leader.  Because of that, he was able to build a phenomenal church.  Paul knew he was no better than those he was sent to teach.  He rightly believed that he needed them just as much as they needed him.  He wasn’t on some higher spiritual plane than those to whom he was called.  He was on a level plane with them, standing at the foot of the cross.

Paul knew that he was part of the project.  He knew that being imperfect meant he could also be excited to learn from those he taught.  He wasn’t proud or above reproach.  He was all in as a member of God’s church.  Yes.  Paul could not wait to bless these folks because he knew that they also had the means to bless him.  What Paul was saying points to mutual growth within the church between leaders and lay people.  It points to mutual edification and mutual encouragement.  That’s the very heart of every true ministry — whether you’re teaching seminary students or clothing the poor.  Ministry is always a two-way street between the minister-er and the minister-ee.  One body, many members.

That’s the kind of framework good church leaders begin with.  Respect, love, excitement and expectation of a mutual exchange of truth and gifting.  Let’s do that.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffBG7JAvBiw

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