|A Message from Tonilee|
Yesterday I attended the #SheLeads Conference held at the First Church of the Nazarene in Pasadena (or PazNaz). Two of my Theology teachers were attending who have had a tremendous influence on me so I decided to go.
One professor is Dr. Kara Lyons-Pardue. She is in her mid-30s and reads Greek as a first language. She received her PhD from Princeton and I have to say she is nothing short of kind, welcoming and the most non-judgmental person I have ever met. I remember my first day of class as a Master of Ministry student scared to death to be a woman learning with men (some of them pastors). My fundamental church background taught me well about a woman’s place and this step of attending school challenged me greatly. On the first day of class, I was shocked when female Professor Lyons-Pardue walks into the classroom with her belly beautifully 8 months pregnant. Not only was her belly adorable but her confidence and intelligence seemed to lift me right above my fears of advanced learning with religious men. I still remember many of her sentences and she still remembers me crying in class as I described a horrific, painful experience from a pastor in North San Diego County.
In time, I then met Dr. Rebecca Laird. She was the first woman I had met who was an ordained minister in addition to a Theology Professor. Rebecca changed my life by her counsel, her confidence and her experience. She looked at me and said something to the effect of, “The church world is like a big ocean. You need to learn where you fit in the ocean. You are a woman evangelist and you’re presently trying to swim in cement.”
Through the years of learning at Point Loma Nazarene University and now at Nazarene Theological Seminary, I have lost the chip on my shoulder. I don’t need to defend the gifts and callings God has given me. The education has allowed me and my female peers to grow and thrive without apologizing.
Well, I say all that to talk about yesterday’s #SheLeads Conference. It was the first time I sat in a room with female senior pastors, a female president of a Theology School and so many young female college students pursuing a career in ministry. Amazing! Could it be that we are entering a time of androgyny—a world without gender limits? Could it be that the Pentecost Anointing to both men and women is now being released? Could it be that God who pours out His Spirit on both young men and women is now opening up the flood gates to bring women into true leadership and ministerial roles? I kept thinking of Acts 10 with Cornelius’ family being anointed in the Holy Spirit by Peter. It took time for the Jewish-Christians to accept Gentiles becoming Christians but in God’s timing and in His way, the Church embraced the goodness of God to extend salvation to all.
As a woman who ministers (Daily Disciples) and as a woman chaplain ministering, I can say there are a few things about women ministers that we all have in common:
- We have no doubt that we are called by God and we have a firm conviction to be faithful to Him.
- Our first desire is to please God, despite the words and opinions of others.
- We do not want to be men. God made us as women and we are happily female.
- We are being obedient to God, not rebellious to the church culture.
- If we have children, we love and care deeply for them. God did not have us choose between our children and His will. It was His will for us to have children within His calling. As a result, God works with us and through us to mother our children.
- Pastors are shepherds. There are both male and female shepherds in the Bible. The body of Christ is not complete without having both male and female pastors.
- We needed to learn how to wrestle the demons back to hell while living in the wilderness to fulfill our calling with grace and peace. We know that Christianity is the only religion that places women upon an equal platform with men, as initiated by Jesus Christ.
Yesterday’s #SheLeads Conference is summed up best by a testimony I read in Phoebe Palmer’s book, “Promise of the Father” written in 1859:
“Soon after this another preacher came to…desire I would give over speaking and praying in public, to which I replied, ‘I will, if you will answer for me at the day of judgment for the one talent God hath given me;’ but he went away saying, ‘That I cannot do.” And she responded, “I counted the cost, but concluded to obey God rather than man. I valued the having my name among God’s people, but I thought more highly of its being enrolled in the book of life.”
For women who minister and women ministers, we stand before God alone someday and we will give an account for the gifts and calling He placed upon us on this earth. Isn’t it time to stop asking God why He called you and to start asking God how to fulfill His call for you? Let’s step out together and turn the world upside down for Jesus Christ. Let’s continue to bear fruit for His glory. Let’s continue to pray that someday we may hear from Him, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
And pray for me…Bobbye has asked me frequently to teach women how to teach the Bible and how to be leaders and speakers. I believe it’s time to start organizing a conference to embolden and encourage my sisters to be about our Father’s business! If interested, let me know.
Because the Power of Hope Women’s Conference is approaching, I have been praying a lot about Hope. What is our definition of hope? What is God’s definition of hope? Hope is not a fruit or a gift of the Spirit. So how do we have it, keep it, get it? Can we “hope” that our prayer will be answered? Does our hope waver when we discover God did not answer our prayer?
President Obama ran his campaign using the word “hope,” which makes hope seem subjective as we can make it be whatever we want. But the Apostle Paul obviously believed hope was objective as he states that there are three components for life and godliness, “Faith, Hope and Love but the greatest of these is Love.” Love is tangible to those who love; faith is definitive by acknowledging God through prayer, but hope is more evasive even though it makes the top three.
John the Baptist had hope in Jesus the Messiah who baptized with fire, which was greater than his water baptisms. However, when John the Baptist found himself in jail for speaking the truth, his hope of who he wanted Jesus to be and what he wanted Jesus to do for him wavered. He suddenly lost his hope because the circumstances did not pan out as he had hoped.
And what about us? What is our definition of hope? Do we maintain hope when all seems hopeless? Hope in what? Hope for what?
It is time to define “hope.” It is time to embrace hope as an attribute every person needs to breathe. It is time to be hopeful…not in something but in Someone. We have a future and a hope because Jesus Christ moves mountains in our lives even if He helps us to shovel the mountain away one pile of dirt at a time. Our hope is not in the changing of circumstances but in the unchanging, ever-loving God of all creation who can change us.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
Hope is an attribute of God. The more we seek God, the more we find Hope. If we stop believing in a loving God because of our circumstances, then we will become hopeless. Job became hopeless for a season but seasons change. It is best to Hope in God and seek the God of Hope who will fill you with joy and peace.
The Power of Hope Women’s Conference is being held in San Diego California on Saturday, January 30 from 9-4. Tickets are only $25, including lunch. Do you need hope? Do you know of someone who needs to hear about the message of hope? We not only hope so, we know it! For more information, go to www.dailydisciples.org
Nearby hotel reservations are available at a discounted rate. We HOPE to see you there!
Bobbye and I asked a friend of ours to be interviewed on our daily radio show. Her name is Donna Scott and she is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Today she came to our office for the recordings. Even though we know Donna, her kindness and sensitivity to share in her clients’ pain and then to wisely and calmly provide counsel to those in broken relationships amaze us. God is using her and mightily moving through her to repair broken hearts and mend broken relationships.
On a side bar conversation, I asked her what the biggest difference is between men and women when struggling in their relationship? Her answer may surprise you…
“When people come in to get healing help for relationship wounds, I notice a difference between the types of injuries found in men versus women in their moments of brokenness. As I counsel men, they generally tend to intellectualize their pain through interpreting life events. They typically sense that no matter what they do, it is not ‘good enough.‘ These feelings frequently create a sense of helplessness and futility. Unfortunately, it is usually manifested as anger or indifference to their partner. Women, on the other hand, are likely to experience their emotional hurt as ‘I’m not worth fighting for.’ This hurt results in lowering her sense of worth and security in the relationship. Her pain is sometimes displayed as anger or nagging. Neither understand that they actually have the same need in common; It is the longing to love and be loved by the one who matters most.”
We all want to be loved. We may not be very good at communicating how we want to be loved and we might not be very good at explaining why we are acting out or withdrawing but the bottom answer is the same.. to be loved. “For God so loved…” and because “God first loved us” we can love. I am certainly thankful our relationship with God is based on His love.
Donna Scott’s contact information is http://www.DonnaScottTherapist.com or (619) 500-4653. Calling her may be your first step in learning how to express love and how to receive love from God, others and yourself.
Thank you Donna for sharing your heart with us today and loving others through God’s gift of counseling.
Bobbye and I attended a new networking meeting hosted by Rebecca Garcia. She entitled the group “Christian Women Entrepreneur Network.” We were asked to open in prayer and dedicate the group to the Lord. The women who attended were very sweet and sincere in their efforts to improve their lives, including their businesses. I was impressed by CWEN’s agenda to include prayer and worship in a network gathering.
As the agenda for the day began to enfold, Rebecca called a panel to the front to answer questions of how to incorporate faith in the workplace. The panel did a fine job of answering the questions but I liked how Rebecca’s summarized the problem; she stated that there is a common misconception that one can separate faith from their occupations. That statement struck me funny and has left a nagging pull in my mind. As an evangelists and teacher of the Gospel, my calling determines my convictions even greater than my convictions determine my calling. I am called to evangelize so I became a nurse. Daily Disciples is on radio, television, and has the convictions to spread the Gospel through multimedia because of the Great commission. Obviously we are not all called to be evangelists, pastors and teachers. But can we as a Christian people actually separate our faith from our every day life?
Is it possible to compartmentalize our convictions from our callings (or occupations)? Regardless of our occupations to be engineers or contactors or window washers, Jesus Christ makes it clear that our faith is the foundation in which all other things spring. It is from the abundance of our heart that our mouths speak. How can we separate our hearts from what we speak and do?
Is it possible that we do not realize that this life is where eternal life begins? It is in this life on this earth that we come to Christ to enter into eternal life. Jesus said, “I have come to give you life and life abundantly.” (John 10:10) Eternal life starts here, not when we are dead. It is in this life that we develop a relationship with God the Father as we do His will on earth as it is in heaven. The Holy Spirit gives us gifts to do God’s work to bear fruit that has eternal ramifications. We cannot be responsible for others choices but we will be held accountable for our own. We will stand before God someone day alone and give an account of how we used our talents.
As a Christian, is it possible to separate your heart from your head? Yes, but we will have no peace until they align. As a Christian, is it possible to separate our convictions from our calling? No, because if we are truly Christians, our faith impacts the life we live as much as the air we breath. Satan is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). Whose air are we breathing? What kind of life are we living? How do we determine our convictions? Why are we working and for what purpose?
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34
Happy Easter! He has RISEN indeed…
The effectiveness of our life hinges on the extent of our relationships. God the Father has a relationship with the Son, Jesus Christ. God the Father sent the Son to this earth for us to have a relationship with God the Father through the Son. The two greatest commandments are relationship based:
29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12, NIV)
A large part of the relationship building, maintaining and sustaining process deals with our own personal self-awareness of our gifts, talents, strengths and natural capacities. We cannot love our neighbor as ourselves until we can come to know and accept ourselves. That concept is very difficult when we are taught to think of others over ourselves even though the Lord says to love others as yourself. Self love, obviously is natural, so servant leadership becomes even more of a challenge. Implementing leadership empowerment in ministry is not something that can be enforced or mandated through promotions and titles. I just finished Jim Collin’s book, Good to Great. Chapter 7 is entitled The Technology Accelerator as he states that, “disciplined people, who engage in disciplined thought, and who then take disciplined action” can work together through a leadership model. This section in his book, he was discussing the Hedgehog Concept and addressing three intersecting circles:
#1 Circle: what is our team deeply passionate about?
#2 Circle: understanding what you can be the best in the world in a literal sense?
#3 Circle: what drives our economic engine?
He is basically saying that we need to find the intersection of profit per acts. The hedgehog concept brings up very challenging questions when dealing with any kind of ministry. I do believe that every ministry needs to honestly ask and answer these questions before moving forward with leadership development. Can God and does He raise up teams to do a powerful work without all 3 circles since God is not dependent on the ways of man? Absolutely. But I do believe that many ministries and churches spring up and can be successful for a season, but have difficulty maintaining a long term presence without addressing these questions.
Christianity is not a company. Christianity is about others, community, discipleship and even growth. However, blind faith without objectives, vision and goals cause stress and conflict. We need healthy, wise leadership to prioritize team building as we work together as a family of believers and as a body in Christ for the long term good of the people. Matter of fact, God’s definition of “long term” is eternity; He asks us to think of the eternal over the temporal (1 Corinthians 4). So, in order to be sustainable, we need all circles answered to make it on this earth in ministry. Is it strange that God uses the principles of man to confirm what He first began with creation? On earth, Jesus was a leader who died on a Roman cross. We are now called to be leaders to lead others to the cross of Christ. That is the first step of any ministry. Can we lead people to Christ? We need to ask ourselves if we are really leaders if we do not have a conviction to lead others to Jesus.