February 27, 2009

Inspiring Leadership

Who do you inspire? Who inspires you?
When are you all out of inspiration and just want to call it quits?

These are areas I will be touching on tomorrow at the Women's Ministry Institute graduation in Hillside, Illinois. I am personally inspired by many women in scripture including Eunice, the mother of Timothy. Look for more on that subject in the coming days.

February 26, 2009

Leadership Tip: Truth and Love

As a kid, I experienced "Christianity" in various settings including fundamentalism, mainline denominations, cults, and fringe charismatic churches. God used these experiences to give me a passion for theology, a desire to know him with certainty and precision.

As an ever-maturing believer, I continue to learn and experience God's truth and God's grace each day. Through this grace, I was able to escape the influence of the bad theology of my childhood, but what God used was not only a new set of beliefs, but people and friends and teachers and other students who lovingly and very pastorally communicated these truths, showing me why they ultimately mattered.

Defending the faith and promoting solid theology ought to be in a spirit of love and truth. The motivation should not be rightness for its own sake, but for the cause of Christ--a genuine love for people. God's love and God's truth go hand in hand and should never be divorced from each other.

February 25, 2009

Does 'Complementarian' Equal Anemic Women's Ministry?

In 2007, Amy Simpson wrote “Why I Don’t Do Women’s Ministry,” citing the reasons for her struggle to fit in an essentially shallow church culture. She may have surprised a few readers, but clearly she spoke the heart of a silent, yet critical mass of women in the church.

These are women who want to fulfill the Titus 2 mandate, to mentor and minister to other women, who want to play a significant role in Christian education, but also want to escape the culture of women’s ministry that they inherited from their grandmothers. They want a more substantive interaction with the women they lead, because they know that time is a priceless commodity and they want to make the most out of every opportunity.

Continue reading at Gifted for Leadership

February 9, 2009

The Christian Life and Women's Issues

As an effect of sin, humans are deeply driven toward autonomy, preferring to live independent of God’s authority instead of within the shelter of his divine sovereignty. This is the temptation to which Eve would surrender. Instead of a life dependent on God, she evaluated on the basis of her self-appointed authority that the fruit of the forbidden tree was beautiful and an acceptable source for knowledge and sustenance. God was no longer necessary in her new view of the world because she chose instead to believe the twisted words of the serpent, that she could “be like God” (Gen 3:5). She quickly dismissed the distinction between herself, the created, and the Creator.

When faced with difficult life circumstances, we are called to submit to God’s wisdom and authority and recognize our own insufficiency. It is true that scripture does not provide explicit answers for each and every situation, so while God’s normative method of self-disclosure is not through audible voice, studying God’s word is necessary to develop a biblical worldview that will enable godly reflection in the absence of obvious solutions. Trusting God in the midst of any degree of crisis is probably one of the the greatest challenges to living the Christian life.

Popular culture argues, on the other hand, that God, if he even exists, is irrelevant to just about everything. Religion, and specifically evangelical Christianity, is regarded as bigoted and narrow-minded, outside the scope of logic and reason. Christian truth claims are viewed as merely private values, but the “promise” of scientific progress and “hope” through human reason—with little room for ethical reflection—are believed to be neutral sources of information, and therefore, the source of truth for everyone. This way of thinking is dominant in the area of women’s issues and is wielding great influence on the lives of women inside and outside of the church.

continue reading...

February 2, 2009

Why are we Repulsed by the Proper Use of Embryos?

The story about the woman from California who recently gave birth to 8 babies through IVF has stirred up what is, in my opinion, a very odd sense of moral outrage. "Who is she to have 14 kids, wasn't 6 enough?" "She still lives with her parents? With all those kids?" And my favorite, "It's not like she did it naturally" as if the method of accumulation should make any difference.

I am not suggesting that the use of ARTs (assisted reproductive technologies) hasn't proven to be a disastrous slippery slope, nor am I recommending single women run out and start their own country by birthing countless numbers of children. But we must examine the moral assumptions behind this outrage. For instance, the person who said "wasn't 6 kids enough" has the right to her own opinion, even if it is dependent on subjective ethical relativism. What prevents her from saying just one more child would have been enough? Who decides how many kids a person can have?

The expected response to that is to focus on the anticipated burden she might be on the welfare system. I realize it is popular right now to believe that limiting the amount of children born to people of a certain economic class is looking out for the common good, but how is her 14 different from the millions of women who have given birth to just one? Who decides how many is enough?

As Christians, we should applaud the fact that these little humans were allowed to be born. She could have allowed research on the embryos or simply had them destroyed. She likely couldn't afford more than the one implantation...and she opted to give them all a chance. Granted, there are some ethical questions with the doctors' willingness to implant so many embryos, but medicine today is consumer-oriented. Should we really focus any outrage on medical care on just this incident? This isn't the first time science and medicine has commodified human life.

Finally, I believe the inclination to desire to have children is going the way of the seared conscious. Culture is moving so far from God that we should celebrate anything that even resembles a desire to fulfill the cultural mandate. All other motivations aside, if she sincerely loves children, praise God!

Frankly, I'm more confused by the reactions about this story than I am bothered by her having so many kids. In fact, now is the time for the church to put words into action and come alongside this woman who chose life for the already living instead of death for these little souls.