There’s always something really special that takes place when meeting together as a small group to study the bible! Awhile back now, I had the amazing opportunity to create an eight week small group study where step-by-step we developed a biblical theology of gender. We kick-started the study by equipping ourselves with some basic, but very important, hermeneutics that would help to guard us against simply reading what we want to into the text. It's horrific to think about how Christians in the American South -using the same bible we use- genuinely believed that slavery was God’s design as taught BY the Holy Scriptures back in the 1800s. It really challenges you to slow down and wrestle with HOW we read the bible! Then equipped with tools to properly understand God’s word, we dove deep into some of the most challenging passages that speak about men and women starting in Genesis with the creation account and working our way through the key biblical texts in chronological order. We talked about how it is crucial to understand the cultural context, how to handle texts from different genres in the bible, and the difference between prescriptive and descriptive language in the text among so many other important considerations. We hunted for explicit statements of hierarchy in the creation account before the fall, when God's desire for humanity was unmarred by sin, and came up empty. We took note of how God gave Adam AND Eve dominion over creation and what happened after sin came in and distorted God’s ideal in the garden. Next up, we did a broad survey of women throughout the Old Testament and looked into Deborah's role of authority over all of Israel as prophet and judge followed by Huldah, the prophetess, whose ministry brought forth a spiritual revival in the land! We also spent time searching through the Mosiac Law which contains 613 commands touching on every single area of life for the Israelites and as such clearly reveals God's explicit will for how His people, the Israelites, are to live. A fascinating question was raised, “ If the Mosaic Law communicates God's clear will for His people, shouldn't we see instructions for husbands to be the leader of their families if that really is God's design for the family?”. 613 laws and NOT one speaks to the husband's leadership! Onto the New Testament we looked at the wide variety of roles women played in their Christian communities such as deacon, teacher, house church leader, disciple and apostle! Paul's shocking statement in Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” was our focus next as Paul applies the Jew/Gentile paradigm to men and women. We see Paul, many times over, detailing how being “one in Christ” impacts not just our spiritual status in Christ but also how we function day to day in our community of believers. Next up, we took an in-depth look at Paul's comments regarding marriage in his Christian remix of the Greco-Roman household codes in Ephesians 5, as well as how Paul used “head” elsewhere in his writings. How often we overlook the fact that Paul's starting point for his comments on marriage is a call for all believers to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”! Lastly, as a group we addressed 1 Timothy 2:12 and Paul's strange one-off prohibition that women are not to teach men. Studying the cultural, literary, and historical context for Paul's letter yielded some surprising discoveries that shed significant light on this puzzling passage. I thoroughly enjoyed teaching the basics of biblical equality in this small group format. It allowed for plenty of interesting discussions and lots of “light bulb moments” as we dug deep into those challenging passages that speak about gender! I hope I have the privilege again sometime soon!
This January I was invited to speak at a Brave Women retreat which took place at the Leadership Studio at Muskoka Woods Sports Resort! The Brave Women movement is all about using the gifts God has given you courageously, to impact the world around you for His glory. The three pillars of Brave Women are Spiritual Formation, Leadership Development and Social Justice, so I was ecstatic to be a part of this event! I shared Saturday night about how I came to recognize the call that God has my life and the challenges I've faced as a result. I talked about the journey I've been on over the last three years of discovering Biblical Equality and how God has brought incredible healing and life and given me a fresh passion to understand His word rightly so that it brings freedom and not bondage. We also looked at why Biblical Equality is so crucial in the body of Christ and the damage that is done when women are pushed to the sides and not given a seat at the leadership table. I closed with two challenges: The first was that we would always keep obedience to God at the forefront of all that we do. The second was to live in such a way so that when we stand before God, we can do it knowing full well that we did not bury the gifts God had given us, but we used them courageously to advance His kingdom.
SUMMER 2017 update
This summer I was invited to speak at Elmvale Community Church on one of my favorite bible passages where Paul is speaking about marriage in Ephesians 5! I've spent the last few years studying men and women and the bible and much of that study has been centered on the marriage relationship. So for me, to have the opportunity to preach explicitly from this passage the kingdom ideals of mutual submission and sacrificial love was incredible! Often this text has been used to teach that husbands are to be in authority over their wives and that God desires specific roles of each but upon looking closer at the text's cultural context and examining a bit of the Greek we saw the BIG picture: that we are called to leave behind the authority holding, hierarchical ways of Rome and move towards the way of Christ in His love and sacrifice! Find the entire sermon on the MEDIA page!
EARLY WINTER 2016.
After attending Nipissing University and being heavily involved with the Nipissing Canadore Christian Fellowship leadership team, it was a blast to return once more as their guest speaker for their biannual NCCF Retreat. We headed up to Camp Kahquah for a weekend of worship, teaching, food and fellowship. As the retreat speaker, I had the privilege of doing four teaching sessions taking a closer look at what it means to be a part of this New Covenant community of believers.
Friday night we dug deep into the Old Covenant, specifically the Believer Priesthood, so we could fully understand and appreciate all that Christ did when he came as our new High Priest and ushered in the New Covenant thereby granting every single believer, without discrimination, access to the very presence of God! Now, as members of the Priesthood of All Believers, we ALL have equal access to the presence of God, and equal potential to be used by Him, no matter our family line, gender, age or disabilities. We are all one in Christ Jesus! Each one of us can know God for ourselves and each of us have become a temple for the Spirit of God!
Saturday morning, we watched how Jesus interacted with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) and how He refused to discriminate against her despite the fact that in her culture she was four times the outcast! Jesus, committing countless social taboos, invites this outcast into a deep theological conversation where He, for the first time in ALL of scripture, reveals His true identity as the Messiah! Jesus reveals this earth shattering, highly consequential, revelation to someone that society viewed as completely inconsequential. Jesus doesn't interact with her according to her gender, race, or poor reputation. Instead, He treats her with dignity and respect. The conversation Jesus has with the woman at the well is the longest recorded private conversation in the entire bible! What an honor Jesus bestows upon this outcast!
Saturday evening we focused on Acts 10 and watched how the early church and Peter learned the gospel values of equality and inclusion in the body of Christ despite race or religious standing. We watched Peter learn that "God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right." as the Holy Spirit falls on a gathering of non-Jews just as the Holy Spirit had fallen on them previously at Pentecost!! In the body of Christ, we ALL are filled with same Holy Spirit!
Sunday morning, after studying how the Believer Priesthood puts us all on equal footing in the body of Christ, and reading about Jesus' dignifying treatment of the woman at the well, and how the Holy Spirit fell on Gentile believers just as He fell on the Jewish believers, we can see how the body of Christ is to operate. We are to dignify each other as equals in the body of Christ. After all, we are all ONE in Christ Jesus and all children of God. We closed with Jesus' radical example of servanthood as He took on the position of a lowly Gentile slave when He washed the feet of His disciples! We talked about how we are to imitate Christ and lay aside any power or position we might have to serve those around us. We are instructed to consider others as greater than ourselves and have the mindset of Christ Jesus! It was an incredible weekend and I felt very honored that NCCF (Nipissing Canadore Christian Fellowship) would bring me in as their speaker!
You can catch the Friday night session "Out of the Old and into the New Covenant" on the MEDIA page! Check it out!
LATE WINTER 2016.
The Young Life @ Mapleview Community Church in Barrie, ON has been doing an #allinclusive series and I got to jump in and be a part of it! Unpacking Paul's letter to Philemon, we took an in-depth look at what our identity as brothers and sisters in Christ means for us in the here and now! With Paul's radical appeal for Philemon to treat his runaway slave, Onesimus, according to his identity in Christ over his slave identity, we realize just how far Paul goes in applying Gal 3:28 to our current lives. Our identity as "one in Christ Jesus" trumps any other identity this world may give us. Look for the full video on the MEDIA page!
I had the privilege of speaking at a quarterly women's event here in Barrie. We disassembled the myth of "Biblical Womanhood" as we compared and contrasted three dramatically different women who were all praised in scripture to see if there is any specific, detailed model set out in scripture that all Christian women are to follow. We looked at courageous Jael, from Judges 4 and 5, who's trickery and ruthlessness brought victory to Israel over their enemy, the Canaanites, and their army commander, Sisera. The prophetess and judge's prophetic word "...the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman." came to fruition through Jael's bravery! Next up we looked at Mary (Luke 10) as she goes against two main social codes of the day that dictated how women should behave and amazingly, Jesus commends Mary for that! Finally, we took a close look at the legendary, oft-quoted, Godly "wonderwoman": the Proverbs 31 woman. It seems upon first glance, that this passage details what exactly all women are to strive for if they wish to be Godly. Is it possible that we have missed the point of this passage entirely? Check out the audio recording of this message on the MEDIA page to discover just how wrong so many of us have been (myself included!) about the Proverbs 31 woman.This passage should bring freedom, encouragement and life instead of creating pressure to meet an impossible standard if we wish to please God as women! This evening was a complete blast and it was wonderful chatting with a lot of ladies after and hearing how they felt set free to simply follow Jesus and be all that God uniquely created them to be. While I was preparing, God showed me the face of a specific woman that He was going to impact through this message. I was doubtful as this individual seemed to have it all together. The special woman that God had shown me approached me after and shared how challenged she was and that God had begun to do some much needed healing in her life! She shared how she felt a lot of pressure and expectations lift off once she realized that they were not from God. God is SO good! It's always an adventure being on God's team and witnessing firsthand His heart for people!