Can I be a powerful woman and a Christian?

Hi there! I’m Stephanie and I am the women’s ministry leader here at LifePoint. Our women’s group is named Giggles (girls in God growing loving eating and sharing. Yes. Eating is very important in women’s fellowship around here.)

As a women’s ministry leader, I’ve encountered people telling me, “I thought church could only be run by men” more times than I would like to say. Every time this would happen, I didn’t quite know what to say or how to explain that women are just as important as men in ministry. There is also a lot of feminism trending in our country right now, and I have also been told, “I can’t be a Christian and be a feminist.” While I do agree with this statement to some extent, being a Christian in NO WAY prevents us from being confidant, powerful women. This has been sitting on my heart lately, so I wanted to explain how to be a strong woman in our culture and a woman of God.

There are some extremely conservative views on a ‘woman’s place in church’, so here I will address some of those verses.  Yes, in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 it says ” Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet”. And yes, in 1 Corinthians 14:34 the bible states ” The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.” Many non-believers, atheists, and even some Christians take these exact words to be absolute truth. But their fault in doing so is they don’t take into account the context of these verses. In 1 Timothy 2:11-12, Paul is writing to the church in Ephesus about false teaching occurring in the church and how the people should correct themselves to be Godly men and women. What I believe Paul is referencing here is Ephesians 5:22-23 “Wives, submit yourself to your husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the savior.” This passage is telling us that women are not to be suppressed, silenced, or to have no authority whatsoever. Women are to be under men, yes, but they are also one with man and the helpers of man. God created Eve for Adam from his rib to be his companion, not so he could control and suppress her. Genesis 2:24 “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become ONE flesh”. Again, showing that man and woman are essential to the success of the church.

The bible also shows us that women are loved, cherished, and in some cases, the “unofficial head” of the household 😉 What I mean is written in the following passages:
Proverbs 31 speaks to so many great gifts women bring to our Earth. Just a few traits stated are: She is worth far more than rubies, her arms are strong, she has no fear, she ensures her household is safe, she speaks wisdom, and many others. I HIGHLY encourage any women to study Proverbs 31 if they are feeling a little down.
And lastly, perhaps my favorite verse on women in the bible, Proverbs 21:9 ” Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” Personally, I would like to think this is where the term “happy wife, happy life” comes from, but that’s just me. 🙂

So if you ever find yourself in a position where you feel you have to choose either your belief as a woman’s leader or your faith in God, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to choose. God has told his children that women are not ‘less than’ men as some may argue. Women, you can have your cake and eat it too. 🙂

Our Righteous Deeds: Polluted Garments or Fine Linen?

“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” – Isaiah 64:6

For as along as I have known and been taught this passage, I have accepted and believed that all our good works (“righteous deeds”) are like filthy rags (or “polluted garments”) before God. We could never amount to anything since God is so holy and everything we do is tainted with an imperfect heart. This made sense to me to believe that our good works count for nothing for our salvation or anything else. While I still hold fast to the fact that our good works cannot earn us our salvation or justification before God I have come to realize that what I have been taught all my Christian life about how God sees our righteousness has been false.

We’ll come back to Isaiah but for now let’s consider what John says (technically the heavenly hosts say it) about our righteous deeds—the righteous works of the Church, the Bride of Christ.

“Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.” – Revelation 19:7-8

So, imagine for a second the Bridegroom awaiting and watching His bride walk down the aisle towards Him. Ought we to suppose that she is clothed with filthy, bloody rags or with “fine linen, bright and pure” when presented to her Bridegroom? Yes, she is adorned with fine linen, and John says the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

So let’s look back to Isaiah to see if it offers any clues to help us interpret it so that it does not contradict John’s plain teaching on righteousness. I believe verse five is very telling of who Isaiah is referring to and why he referred it:

“You meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember you in your ways. Behold, you were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?” – Isaiah 64:5

The key phrase here is “we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time.” So you see, the righteous works of Israel were filthy because they were living in sin. Thus, Isaiah is speaking specifically about Israel at that moment in time, and he is not making a universal statement about every person at all times. However, this concept could be applied to anyone living in sin—inside or outside the walls of church. God is not pleased with any works from those who are living an unrepentant life—living in habitual sin. Their sins stain and pollute their acts of righteousness making all that they do, good or bad, worthless and despised by God. We first must be cleansed of all our unrighteousness by the blood of Jesus Christ through the repentance of all known sin (recall the rich, young ruler who “lacked one thing”).

Once we are made clean through the redemption of His blood by faith, our righteous deeds are pleasing and are a soothing aroma to God. He delights in us and He saved us for the purpose of good works that we might bring Him glory. The death of Christ was the means to this end—to reconcile us to God by counting us righteous and causing us to walk in righteousness making us worthy to be called His bride. It was said in Revelation that the bride had “made herself ready” by adorning herself in righteousness. Have you made yourself ready for the bridegroom? How do you see your righteous deeds? Perhaps now you might be compelled all the more to seek after righteousness and to forsake your sin. Adorn yourself as the bride of Christ and make yourself beautiful and presentable to Jesus Christ your Bridegroom.

Rejoice. Pray. Give Thanks.

 

It’s not always easy to be thankful. Actually, sometimes it seems nearly impossible. 

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Did you catch that?
Rejoice ALWAYS.
Pray CONTINUALLY.
Give THANKS in ALL CIRCUMSTANCES.

If I am being totally transparent here, I have to admit that I don’t feel like I can always do that, at least not on my own. When I’m wrapped up in my circumstances and I am overwhelmed by how I am going handle things, I tend to rejoice little, pray less, and complain in all circumstances. The evidence of a changed heart is what I am desiring and trying to pursue, what I am longing for. Still, I sit in the assumption that my flesh will trip me up at times, even when I am rejoicing and praying and giving thanks. I am far from perfect, but I am seeking to be perfected through my trials. I’m seeking to know the fullness of His grace and love. When I feel the power of Christ rise up in me, I know He is changing this heart.

Priscilla Shirer recently released a 90 day devotional called Awaken. A dear friend sent me a copy and I started reading it at the beginning of this month. In one of my readings for last week I was faced with this reminder: “Your view is not the full scope of reality” which was followed by this, “What is (physically) seen is not all that is meant to be seen. The physical cannot fully grasp the comprehensiveness of the spiritual.” (Shirer, p.63, 2017)

Sometimes we need such deep and desperate reminders.
With report after report of friends who are ill, and babies who are suffering, and cancer that just. won’t. quit.
Rejoice always.

When my heart breaks, my faith is thin, and I’m worn out – just sitting on the edge of giving in and giving up, but then there is that still small voice. A nudge that pulls me off of my knees and onto my feet, tugs at my heart and whispers closely to me “This ground I have set you on is steady, solid. Take one more step. And another. And then another. We are going to make it through.”
Pray continually. 

Those long nights when restlessness is weighing heavily upon me, yet I can still find a moment of thankfulness for the beauty of the moonlight shining through the window.
Give thanks in all circumstances.

When I am surrounded by an arena of Christ followers worshiping Jesus, or even just an intimate group of a few, but it feels like it’s just the two of us, Christ and me, and He is holding me close as I cry out in prayer.
For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

The more I rejoice, the more I pray, the more thankful I am, the more I walk in His will for me – no matter the situation – this is exactly where He is working and drawing me in. Even when circumstances are bad, He is good. May this truth be ever in my heart, hanging on my lips, for it is never out of reach.