Sunday, 18 November 2012

Complementarians - are they on the run?

I first came into contact with Rachel Held Evans and her blog when I joined twitter a couple of years ago. I instantly felt like I had found a fellow pilgrim. I have personally rallied behind the call of woman making their way in Christian ministry and being all they can be in what can be seen to be a predominately male environment.
I read her first book ‘Evolving in Monkey town’, where she writes honestly about her faith and her struggle with doubt. The title of the book is in reference to where she was raised in Dayton ‘Ohio, the infamous town where the ‘Scope monkey trials’ were held.

I have watched her write in defence of women and speak out against those who write or preach in a misogynistic way. She is clear that she is not a theologian and yet her thought through answers given carefully and kindly to those who oppose what she has said or spoke against makes me feel proud to be a woman she truly is ‘Eshet Chayil, a woman of valour'.

 I feel that her writing has managed to stir up the reformed patriachalists and they are running scared of her influence which I know must come at a cost for Rachel.

I was privileged to get an advance copy of  her new book and asked to write a review 
Rachel states that ‘I've long been frustrated by the inconsistencies with which “biblical womanhood” is taught and applied in my evangelical Christian community. So I set out to follow all of the Bible’s instructions for women as literally as possible for a year to show that no woman, no matter how devout, is actually practising biblical womanhood all the way. My hope is that the book will generate some laughs, as well as a fresh, honest dialogue about biblical interpretation.’

I personally found that she delivered in what the book was intended to achieve, I for one found it thoroughly enjoyable and informative and challenging.  It was my first attempt at writing a review and I after reading all the others feel that I did not do it justice. One of these great blogs was in response to a negative review found on The Gospel Coalition website. Kathy Keller writer of said blog is the wife of Pastor Tim Keller who in my mind is the friendly face of Calvinism.

Morgan writes, ‘Kathy Keller runs in the direction of supposing she understands what motivates RHE when she says, however, that is not the book you wrote. Instead, you began your project by ignoring (actually, by pretending you did not know about) the most basic rules of hermeneutics and biblical interpretation that have been agreed upon for centuries’.

How does Kathy know Rachel ‘pretends’ anything? We all bring our personal interpretations and views to reading the Bible.
Rachel sets out to create a narrative that through story and ideas she introduces us to women of the Bible, women she meets in various communities. She practices a characteristic each month highlighting the difficulties of maintaining the life of a so called ‘biblical woman’ at all times. She clearly shows that she is setting out on this journey to highlight rules and regulations that were laid out for women in the Old Testament that she undertakes with a ‘tongue in cheek’ humour that made me laugh out loud.

She again takes Rachel to task over this by rushing headlong into questioning her biblical interpretation; ‘making the decision to ignore the tectonic shift that occurred when Jesus came, you have led your readers not into a better understanding of biblical interpretation, but into a worse one. Christians don’t arbitrarily ignore the Levitical code—they see it as wonderfully fulfilled in Jesus’. This to me is a lesson in missing the point, the gospel coalition with their patriarchal views espouse biblical womanhood. Rachel is asking when we hear this term what do we hear and understand by it?

Rachel undertakes these laws for a small period of time, she only perches on the roof for just over one hour and she states that only a few people saw her sat there, one very disinterested postal worker who maybe is used to seeing strange things. Of course she knows that the city gate would have had elders sat there and not just a huge sign saying welcome to Dayton. To me these things were meant to read and be understood in the context of the whole book.

Then Kathy shares that; yet you cite accounts of historical events such as Genesis 16, 30, and 35 and remark, “If you were a slave or concubine, you were expected to be sexually available to your master,” as if the Bible condones this behaviour p48. The passages that Rachel sites are very difficult to read and clearly give rise to questions. She says ‘none of this information is easy to swallow. In light of passages like these I have come to regard with some suspicion those that claim that the Bible never troubles them. I can only assume that they haven’t actually read it’. p 51 

A disingenuous statement like this saddens me when Rachel clearly says that we cannot look to interpret present day marriage and relationships within a biblical understanding and context.
She lists on this page bible verses that clearly lay out these practices. We clearly know that was not what God would want of his creation to treat each other that way, but unfortunately for women that was more often than not their lot in life.

My biggest surprise was when Kathy says, ‘Rachel, I can and do agree with much of what you say in your book regarding the ways in which either poor biblical interpretation or patriarchal customs have sinfully oppressed women’. Really you agree that poor biblical interpretation is used to oppress women, we could make an egalitarian out of you yet.

She goes on to say ‘I would join you in exposing churches, books, teachers, and leaders who have imposed a human agenda on the Bible. However, you have become what you claim to despise; you have imposed your own agenda on Scripture in order to advance your own goals. In doing so, you have further muddied the waters of biblical interpretation instead of bringing any clarity to the task.’ Here is where I need to land my absolute frustration with this review.

I hope that Kathy will look to her own reformed group to start exposing some of the nonsense that I have seen written and spoken about. Doug Wilson and his group ‘Vision forum’ p51 of book shows that they have prescribed this biblical view of ‘26 principles ‘The tenets of Biblical patriarchy’, that control what the life of a woman looks like from child to when they marry and pass from being under their fathers control to their husbands. I think this clearly smacks of imposing a human agenda on the bible. Then we have Wayne Grudem with his list of 83 ministry things that women can do, if that’s not imposing a human agenda on the Bible I really don’t know what is, just gobsmacked!!

We are left with no doubt that Kathy feels and she states that, 'There is a third rule of interpretation that is widely agreed upon: look for the author’s intended meaning within a text’s historical context. Again, in order to inject the book with humour, you ignore this principle.'
Morgan points out in her blog 'she must have come to this book with arms folded.'  I absolutely agree Kathy did not want to find the beauty and narrative in this book she only wanted to make sure the constituency she serves would not be reading this book.

Mark Driscoll’s a firm favourite of the complemetarian camps recent teaching on the book of Esther another furore that Rachel wonderfully highlighted and answered with her wonderful teaching on Esther. Now if you listen to Mark you will see that Mark has no thought about teaching and imposing another narrative over this story. He likens Esther and her story to be on the set of ‘The Bachelor’ waiting for her night with the King Xerxes by spending a year in the beauty parlour and in his world Esther was not taken by force, she chose to be there.
Mark plays his teaching for laughs explaining about Xerxes 6mth long party and his ‘listening to young men’, who he says should never be listened too. If anyone could be accused of breaking this rule of interpretation then I would like to give that to Mark Driscoll with bells on!

My final thoughts for Kathy Keller and the gospel coalition is a view that I am beginning to think is the reason they have come out strongly (some it seems without even reading the book) against this book and sadly it seems to me against Rachel personally.
For all those women who express complementarian views there are many who if presented with clear thought through views (I feel clearly shown in this book and in the many great blogs including Rachel’s) what will happen to their comfortable worlds where women live submissively, stay at home, bring up the children and know their place in church leadership thanks to Wayne Grudem.
Has Rachel and those women with a voice got them on the run?

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

A year of Biblical womanhood - A Review

I was privileged to be able to read an advance copy of Rachel Held Evans book ‘A year of Biblical womanhood’ and asked to bring a review. I have to say that I have loved the book and my only sadness was when I finished it.
I am thankful for this work on so many levels as a Pastor of a church I feel Rachel has given me enough to teach on for a year or more.
This is an important book. Well researched, with a wealth of information. I would recommend that it is a valuable resource of information and challenge for both men and women, young and old.
Rachel’s writing is refreshingly honest she lets us have a glimpse of her life and insecurities and how she meets these head on when faced with tasks that are not part of her make-up.

I found myself smiling and laughing and moved whilst reading in November when Rachel’s task was Domesticity,

‘The elevation of homemaking as woman’s highest calling is such a critical centrepiece to the modern biblical womanhood movement, I figured no one less than the domestic diva herself would do’.

Armed with a home making book by Martha Stewart the domestic diva who it seems spent 5 months in prison only to return to her empire built on said domesticity (who knew all things home-making could be so lucrative) Rachel sets to cooking and cleaning their home with increasing hilarity.
Rachel found a love for cooking but cleaning was another matter my laugh out loud moment was when she realised that Martha Stewarts cleaning jobs on the monthly ‘to do’ list, she did only once a year, and the every season, possibly never, I so resonated with her at that moment! Her story of mum cleaning whilst singing out loud to Carole King about ‘the sky tumbling down a tumbling down’ telling her daughters ‘it has to get messy before it gets clean’ summing up most things in life from home-making to friendships to faith, how true.

I was moved when Rachel speaks about her husband Dan on one fraught occasion when the preparations for a meal were not going to plan
“He let bury me bury my head in his chest and cry, leaving 2 distinct mascara marks on his white T shirt, sometimes after a tough week when doing the laundry I find I the same marks and I am reminded why I married this man”

I found myself provoked 
'She must neither begin, nor complete anything without man: she must be, and bend before him as before a master, whom she shall fear and to whom she shall be subject and obedient.' 

'Wives or prostitutes that's what women are.'
Quotes Martin Luther P- 178-179

Rachel tell the story of Jackie Roese who when she delivered her first sermon at Irving Bible college church Dallas in 2008 to the whole congregation (she had taught in ladies bible lessons) she had to have a bodyguard for protection.
Before she gave her first sermon she told her daughter 'sweetie, I'm doing this for Jesus, but I'm also doing it for you'.

‘Because I am a woman I must make peculiar effort to succeed. If I fail no one will say, she doesn’t have what it takes, they will say, women don’t have what it takes.’ 
Clare Boothe Luce

More girls have been killed in last 50 years because they were girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the 20th century ' Half the sky 

‘Right now 30,000 children die every day from preventable diseases
Right now a woman dies in childbirth every minute
Right now women ages 15-44 are more likely to be maimed or to die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined.’ P280

I found myself Inspired
Rachel introduces us to a wonderful lady Ahava a Jewish lady who helps her understand the traditional part of the project she had to undertake. Proverbs 31 ‘the valorous woman’. Eshet-chayil pronounced- E-shet-hi-yil, means, ‘woman of valour.
At its core this is a blessing, one that was never meant to be earned, but to be given unconditionally. A ‘you go girl’ of our present day. I too am now challenged to look for all the women in my world to greet with these words, my dear friends who each deal with so much, my colleague a nurse who works full time and looks after her elderly mother. Also to my daughter a new mum who is doing a wonderful job being a great mummy to her little baby.
My heart responded with shouts of joy over the women of valour that Rachel met on her trip to Bolivia with World Vision. All these women are, ‘Eshet-chayil’.
I also found myself inspired by this beautiful prayer

Let nothing upset you
Let nothing startle you
All things pass
God does not change
Patience will win all it seeks
Whoever has God lacks nothing
God alone is enough
Theresa of Avila 

I found myself Challenged
I learned that Judaism has no word for charity instead they speak of tzedakah justice or righteousness.
A charitable act can be a single response of giving but justice speaks to ‘right living’ of ‘aligning oneself with the world in a way that sustains rather than exploits the rest of creation’.
It's a commitment to the Jewish concept of 'tikkun olam'  ‘repairing the world'. 
Once we accept the challenge that we are connected to the rest of humanity we should not look back and we need to realise we have a part to play in tzedakah,for all.

Post by Beverley Molineaux

Monday, 15 October 2012

Sometimes I just want to sit down

I have great admiration for Rosa Parks; I first heard her story several years ago and was immediately impressed by her bravery.
Rosa Parks an African American woman refused On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, to obey bus driver James F. Blake's order that she give up her seat in the coloured section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled.
Her act of defiance and the Montgomery Bus Boycott became important symbols of the modern Civil Rights Movement.

Sometimes I just want to sit down, on reading yet another blog, or piece written by a man who wants to tell me why I am confined by my gender to not holding a leadership position in a church.

I love to hear the stories of women that have made a difference in every area of life. Women who against all odds pursued the vision and dream to see other lives changed often times with the cost being their own lives. These women have had to combat at times overwhelming injustice and bigotry. 

Women who against all the odds pursued the dreams that God had given them, amazing women like Gladys Aylward a missionary to China, who was born into a working class family in 1902, she came to faith at aged 14, initially she was passed by deemed unfit to go. Undeterred she saved from her small income for a one way fare to China and at the age of 28 arrived to see this dream become reality. She became a Chinese citizen in 1936 and was a revered figure among the people, taking in orphans and adopting several herself, intervening in a volatile prison riot and advocating prison reform, risking her life many times to help those in need.

Jackie Pullinger at 15 graduated from the Royal College of Music, she also wanted to be a missionary, so she wrote to various missionary organizations. At first she wanted to go to Africa, but then she had a dream that impressed upon her the idea of going to Hong Kong. Unable to find support from missionary organizations, she sought advice from Richard Thompson, a minister in Shoreditch, who told her that she should buy a ticket for a boat going as far as she could get and to pray to know when to get off the boat. She followed his advice and went to Hong Kong by boat in 1966.
She found work as a primary school teacher in the Kowloon Walled City, which in the 1960's was not policed and consequently had become one of the world's largest opium producing centres ran by Chinese criminal Triad gangs. She established a youth club to help drug addicts and street sleepers. Her story like that of Gladys is full of drama and courage.

Courageous, awe inspiring women who make me feel proud to be a woman. The opposite sentiment of the prayer a male Jew would have prayed,

‘God, thank you that I am a Jew and not a Gentile.
God, thank you that I am free and not a slave.
And lastly…God, thank you that I am a man and NOT a woman.’

Consider this statistic from UNICEF and UN:

Women do 66% of world’s work, produce 50% of world’s food, but earn 10% of world’s income & only own 1% of world’s property.

I honestly feel weary and fed up at times and also immensely frustrated by the many blogs, the debating and various interpretations of the oft quoted passages that for the complementarian teaching limit the role of women to that of the submissive wife and mother, unable to lead in church alongside their male counterparts.

I look to these women of courage today who instead of letting these verses limit their ministry decided to just get on with it. They decided to just sit down. I feel that at times I have nothing else to add the discussion and it all makes me feel so weary when I see that there is so much to still be done. 
So for me and how I feel today, I think I will just sit down!

Thanks to Eugene Cho for these great blogs check them out.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Marmite Driscoll

I have had a few weeks of listening to the teaching of Mark Driscoll, not my favourite thing to do at all. I have mitigating circumstances for this it all started with my last blog post, ‘Why Mark Driscoll is not good for our daughters’? I don’t often get caught up writing or thinking about his teaching it all leaves me feeling too cross and frustrated and sleeping very badly.
I usually leave my lovely husband Alan to debate (here, here, & here) with others who both love or hate his teaching (he really is the marmite of the Christian world).
Mark has recently turned his attention to teaching his church Mars Hill through the book of Esther, and even before it started his preview created a furore in twitterworld. I admit to having bitten, I was so upset with his view of Esther and the implication that she had choice about being taken into the harem of king Xerxes.
I was then asked the question why I felt so strongly about Mark, in response, I started to listen to his teaching in order to make sure I was not being unfair.
I have 3 reasons that I struggle with his ministry.

Mark's Meta -narrative, the big story behind all he teaches at Mars Hill, is Complemetarian: a view I have opposed for many years.
For me, whatever Mark teaches about women in the church is viewed through this lens.

I have started to listen to his teaching on Esther and in his second session he asks the question did Queen Vashti make the right decision not to parade in front of the crowds of drunken partygoers possibly naked as commanded by Xerxes? He thankfully states that she did make the right choice, although he does leave it open to his audience to debate this in their bible groups. But then he proceeds to use his meta-narrative although God is ultimately in charge, power and authourity has been given to men over their wives.

I have just commented on a blog written by an articulate complementarian young woman. I have to ask honestly if these women are writing are they not teaching?
Wayne Grudem another of Marks favourite teachers when speaking at an NFI conference in the 1990’s spoke so disingenuously about women writing books (for example Wendy Virgo) likened it to having a chat over coffee. The theological gymnastics done to make sure this was not mistaken for teaching was almost laughable if it didn’t break my heart. I remember listening to the teaching on my cassette (it was that long ago) almost breaking it when I turned it off in exasperation; he said so much that was nonsensical.

Women through history have always had to battle inequality and much abuse often at the hands of men closest to them Husbands/fathers. I know those who love Mark will say he does not do this: he loves women, he berates men about the way they treat women. He SHOUTS at men strongly to behave well. None of this changes how I feel about how his Meta narrative is not good for women.

This teaching limits women only aspiring to the role of a good wife and mum in a way that wouldn’t be said to a man to only fulfil equivalent roles. I love being a wife, thrilled by my new role as a Nana and my girls are my world, but I have never wanted limitations placed on them due to their gender. To never be able to dream beyond being a wife/mum if you feel God has chosen and equipped you to lead.

Mark teaches on marriage and women on You Tube from 26/4/10 he ends patronisingly speaks about Grace not teaching 'it is just a conversation' I think he has been listening to Wayne Grudem teaching here.

Mark's meta-narrative is Calvinist. I feel this is crucial to his view of those he speaks to. After all irresistible grace means if God never chose you in the first place, you are going to hell. This answers I feel why he can make such sweeping un-thought through statements. For Mark if you are predestined you will make the choice no matter how difficult it seems.

Marks Meta-narrative has aggressive overtones, I know this again is a personal understanding, a lady I respect greatly this week told me she loves this teaching from Mark, and has found it beneficial. Mark says that he is trying to redress the balance that Jesus is not a ‘hippy, effeminate, sandal wearer’ who preached only about loving one another and nothing else. I am not sure how to word this and do it justice but honestly I see Jesus not as a wimp in anyway to say turn the other cheek, give your tunic as well as your coat, love your neighbour as yourself, forgive others 70x7 (meaning again and again and again) He was a revolutionary, he was saying turn away anger with peace, blessed are the peacemakers, the meek, those who have humility, the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the merciful, the persecuted. He said give a cup of cold water; visit the prisoners and the sick. He said give and not take, bless others and love, love, love. I don’t see it in shouting and aggression and honestly if that makes me wimpy and wishy-washy and a woman well there you go that’s just who I am.

A woman and proud of it.

A Post by Beverley Molineaux

Monday, 10 September 2012

Why Mark Driscoll is bad for our daughters

I am a great fan of social networking it has brought great benefits into my life; staying in contact with friends, making new friends from across the globe. As a Christian I love reading blogs, gleaning new ideas, and growing in my faith.

I am a mum of four daughters & Nana to a beautiful granddaughter; as such I am, and have been for many years, passionate for women to find equality in the church. I can remember where I was when women in the Church of England were given the right to be ordained; I cried.
I was in a position of leading a small church plant with my husband Alan and had never had to fight to play my part.
I have a daughter who leads with her husband alongside Alan and myself and another who also flourishes has a leader in church.

I have encountered over the years men of great influence who placed restrictions on women and I found myself in discussion with them. I am pleased that I was instrumental in making them review their position and even had a very influential pastor tell me that our conversation had started him on a path to rethink his position, so much so that he now had a female assistant pastor. He also spoke on this change of heart at a large conference event of a well-known denomination; his teaching was brilliant and made me cheer and cry in equal measure.

High profile churches like Hillsong Australia and the Abundant Life church in the UK have female pastors who travel the world with their ministries. It seemed change had arrived and in this respect I was so very pleased for the next generation of women. Now they could rise and take their place alongside their male counterparts, we had moved on so greatly and I was thrilled.

Then I began to hear about a young upcoming pastor Mark Driscoll, leader of the fast growing Mars Hill church in the USA. His complementarian/patriarchal teaching was more pronounced and even more restrictive to women than I thought I would ever hear again, (here). I read blogs by the wonderful Rachel Held Evans who tried to bring a reasoned biblical response to what he was saying and writing which I have very much appreciated.

I have just written my own response to how I am feeling about this resurgence to be put on my blog later. On late night Twitter checking it revealed a link to a teaching that he is about to undertake, bringing his (supposed) expertise to the book of Esther (here)

Mark clearly feels confident enough to say exactly how he feels about Esther; who he calls this ‘painfully normal’ young woman. Here is a paragraph from his blog.

‘Beautiful, she allows men to tend to her needs and make her decisions. Her behavior is sinful and she spends around a year in the spa getting dolled up to lose her virginity with the pagan king like hundreds of other women. She performs so well that he chooses her as his favorite. Today, her story would be, a beautiful young woman living in a major city allows men to cater to her needs, undergoes lots of beauty treatment to look her best, and lands a really rich guy whom she meets on The Bachelor and wows with an amazing night in bed. She’s simply a person without any character until her own neck is on the line, and then we see her rise up to save the life of her people when she is converted to a real faith in God’

So many things to say about this one short paragraph!
How on earth could a young woman taken into a harem to be prepared to lose her virginity be sinful in the way that Mark suggests?

I need to get to the premise of my blog and say this is bad news for our daughters in so many ways. Many will read his words and listen to his podcast; I have already seen several men and women tweet that they are excited to hear his teaching.

The adults who attend his church and listen and embrace his teaching are free in their choice to do so; their young daughters do not have this freedom.

Take this teaching a little further into the future, and apply the effects to these daughters (include Pastor Marks offspring). Imagine the men raised in this church and their misguided views magnified by years of this erroneous teaching. Lets then multiply it by the effect upon his wider audience and I fear that the work done by so many women (and men) to bring about real equality will be weakened and damaged.

There is so much more that is wrong with this teaching but I will look at that another time; for now I will say again I am afraid for the next generation of our daughters.
But I for one am not prepared to stay quiet whilst such nonsense is being presented as an acceptable reading and interpretation of this wonderful story.

A Blog by Beverley Molineaux

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Shane Hipps to leave Mars Hill

It was with interest that I read today on twitter that the wonderful teaching pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church, Shane Hipps, is to leave the role he has held for 2years.

I have followed the journey of Shane and his young family being a regular listener to of the podcasts from Mars Hill. I was impressed at the way he was able to transition so well from his previous role as Pastor of a Mennonite church by the way Mars Hill included Shane’ previous church on this journey.

The news that Rob Bell the founder of the community was then to leave the church for pastures new only a few months ago was I am sure a great shock for the congregation. They are a church that has had a significant effect on the wider body: teaching from Rob was key to this and it certainly had a big impact on my faith journey.

I felt that Shane handled Rob’s departure brilliantly and modelled transition from being a church led by a well-known charismatic leader, with the eyes of the Christian world upon them. He seemed to find a way to fill the role that Rob left in a way I feel sure the church could not have fully expected.

Having continued to listen to the teaching from Mars Hill I have been equally impressed with Shane. His clear Bible teaching and thoughtful approach to the church has also inspired me. Here is Shane’s well-crafted blog about his immanent departure from Mars Hill.

Shane explains in his blog how the church is lead:
‘The Elders are a body of twelve volunteers who have been elected by the congregation to be the ordained decision makers on the most important issues in the church.  They are tasked with representing the community and acting on their behalf.  In a church this size and such diverse make up you can imagine how challenging this is. The Elders do this out of the goodness of their heart and a strong sense of call. And I think they deserve our appreciation for serving as they have in this unique transition in the life of this church’.

This paragraph caught my attention because, along with my lovely husband Al, we have planted churches over the past 20 years and it is the idea of creating leadership structures that fills me with the most dread. In fact when I read this today I expressed the opinion that I would be happier to stop leading and just become a member, less hassle and much less stress.

We are now leading a growing church family with our daughter and son-in-law and our next step in the journey will be to look at a wider leadership base. We have already witnessed the discomfort of those who feel it is wrong having a family only lead church but I will remind them that Aire Valley Community Church exists because we dared to step out 4 years ago and plant it.

Shane goes on to explain ‘Not long after Rob left, the Elders determined it was in the best interest of the church to restructure the role of the Teaching Pastor to be a full time teacher, which means approximately 40 Sundays a year’ and ‘In addition, that teacher would report to the Executive Director who would be responsible for the overall leadership of the church.’

For what it’s worth here are my thoughts on the eldership of Mars Hill church; I write this and I know that some may not hear my heart on this but here it is.

When Al and I felt the call to plant churches here and also in Norfolk we clearly felt the call of God on our lives. We stepped out with the belief that God would help us build community in the way He envisioned us both.
And there it is; we had a vision and we were the vision carriers. It was birthed in our hearts in a similar way we gave birth to our natural children. We gave birth to these communities, we saw the people in our hearts and we were pregnant with them and delivered them in joy and sometimes in great pain too!

Shane explains that his original contract ‘was to teach 25 Sundays a year, continue serving the broader church through speaking and writing, report directly to the Elders, and play a major role in casting vision’.

He is a vision caster; a church leader who has been given as a gift to the church to lead it, not to answer to an Executive Director whoever they are or what skills they bring to the table. You see for me if they are able to make these decisions then they should have Shane’s role. How can they know what the church needs in this context? They I presume are not vision casters.

He goes onto explain that the Elders acknowledged that the new role was significantly different than the one he originally accepted, but expressed a hope that he would ‘consider applying for it.’ Shane offered to teach for 30 wks but they refused and he is now graciously helping them until they find the teacher/pastor that they all see will take Mars Hill on.

There is a saying that ‘power corrupts’ and I am sad to say that I have seen this so often with those chosen to work alongside senior leadership. (I understand that Senior Leaders can fall to this temptation too but this is not my point here)
Al and I appointed a team around us when we pastored in Norfolk; they consisted of a couple who we had seen come to faith, a very dear lady who we had walked through a very stressful journey. Another dear lady who we thought of as a friend and Al had privilege to see married in our church to the man we had seen come to faith on an Alpha course. Plus another couple that came to the church and worked with us in leading worship.

We set their role as deacons to help us serve the growing church we were leading. When we hit some issues my heart broke in pieces when I witnessed these folks attempt to make decisions that really were not within their remit to make or in keeping with the ethos of the church we planted.

This group of lovely friends and fellow Christians thought they new best about what the church needed and were very clear in the letter they wrote to us.

Shane describes the group of 12 Elders at Mars Hill in a similar way, ‘The Elders do this out of the goodness of their heart and a strong sense of call.’
They were I am sure under the impression that they were acting on behalf of the church in the best way they knew how.

I know there will be reasons why the Mars Hill Elders have acted that I am not privy too; but what I do know from their history is that Rob had a global ministry, which put this church on the map. Their founding ethos is not just to be a local church.

Shane is another gifted teacher and writer who is capable of keeping the profile of Mars Hill alive as a teaching church not only for this local congregation but also for the wider body. I am sad to think that soon this may not be the case.I will wait and watch prayerfully that Mars Hill will not disappear for it is very true, ‘Where there is no vision the people perish’ Proverbs 29v18

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Love Yourself

I am thinking a lot at the moment about being a parent even though my girls are all beautiful grown women who make my heart burst with pride. In 2 weeks I will be a grandparent my eldest daughter is expecting her first baby and both myself and Alan are giddy at the thought of meeting this baby who we know will change our lives in the way having the girls did.

Loving yourself is never easy in fact most of us are aware how we fail at being all we aspire to be. We are ‘our own worst critic’ no one could be more frustrated with us than we often are with ourselves.

There is a beautiful Psalm in the Bible that tells us we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’. I think of my grandchild growing in Jen’s womb, silently becoming this most beautiful creation, already so very, very loved and I ask myself ‘how can I best serve this little person’?

Think about this for a moment your child is going to watch your every move and listen to all you say, there are lots you can get away with when they are little but very quickly they mimic you and learn how you react to the world around you. Are you full of self-doubt, fear that you are not good enough? This loving of our self is vitally important, Of course you are not perfect no one is but in your child’s eyes you are, you need to live up to that by taking care of yourself, resting well, learning that the housework will keep; they on the other hand will grow up so very quickly and then you can clean house all day if you want too!

I look at the young mums today and I wish I could impress on them their value and worth. They matter so much to the precious gift that is their child. The best gift then is to love who you are, I cannot stress this enough after all the opposite would be to dislike who you are and even more than that to be hateful towards yourself and not be careful and how could you then care for your child/children? How I long to help those I meet to see the beauty in themselves. I see in the course of my work as a nurse so many taking antidepressants to help them feel better about who they are and I am the first to say if you need it take it but sometimes I know why people medicate and its due to their inability to love themselves.

Matthew 22:37

Jesus said, "'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them."

'Love others as well as you love yourself.'

Why do we find this so hard, this action of loving ourselves? Please lovely ladies, those who are mummies, mummies to be, beautiful single ladies of every age, love yourself. The next generation are watching you!!!

Psalm 139 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand when I awake, I am still with you.