Perspectives, Gender Bias, Words & What God is Asking of Me Now

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A real conversation from a few years ago:

Me: Even though we say that we affirm women in leadership in this denomination, I think there is still a problem with patriarchal attitudes in the denomination and even in my own local church.

Him: No there isn’t. So, why don’t you stop trying to take the word of God and use it to forward your own agenda.

Ouch. I brought up gender bias and I got told to SIT DOWN. The response shocked me. It was completely outside of my understanding of the character of the person I had begun the conversation with. I had said what I said to a trusted friend and ally, but was answered back by a cultural entrenchment. Looking back, I see the conversation was significant because it represented something much larger than one man’s opinion. That larger thing is systemic gender bias and it is real. My own experience with it in the church hasn’t been easy or pain free.  Still, I believe my experience, and the experiences of many people, are being used by God in order to give us a voice to insist that God is calling us into a fuller experience!’ 

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The View From the Cross

“Here sighs and cries and wails coiled and recoiled on the starless air, spilling my soul to tears.” – Dante

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Look at this sea of faces: anger, accusation, judgment, grief, deception, misunderstanding, selfishness, abuse, faithlessness, powerlessness. There is suffering and darkness, endlessly shaping itself across the ages through disfigured family and social structures, through blighted politics, business, nationalities and religion. Corruption and malignancy and suffering abound – and all of it is directed straight at you.

Take that in for a moment. Experience the weight of it.

This is the View From the Cross of Christ.  Continue reading

A New Frontier

 

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One day ends and another begins. I have ended my formal ties with the denomination I was a part of and am no longer a ‘licensed’ Pastor. I’m just Jen again, (though Pastor Jen’s heart still beats within me), and working on how to navigate this new frontier.  Continue reading

Words Matter.

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When I was a little girl the adults around me used to love to tell jokes. Often times the jokes made were made at the expense of African-American or Mexican or Asian people and culture. The N-word was used freely as were ‘ghetto’ or ‘spic’ or ‘oriental’ accents when getting to the punchlines. The other adults at the gatherings would listen and laugh and I would listen and laugh too, wanting to be like the adults that I loved. Continue reading

Claim Your Place

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This is the first time since becoming Christian and knowing I am called to ministry that I’ve seriously considered throwing in the towel. It’s the first time in almost eight years that I’ve seriously considered breaking my sobriety. It’s the first time since my early twenties that I’ve faced serious depression. What is happening in the world and in the church right now is wrong.  Continue reading

He’s the one.

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“When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” Matthew 11:2-6

It strikes me that John is asking for a definitive ‘yes or no’ answer, yet Jesus doesn’t give him one. Instead, he gives John evidence and then has John draw his own conclusion.

So, is Jesus the one?

Since coming to Christ I can see truth about myself and the world that I couldn’t find before, even though I was looking. I am able to pursue things in life that are central to my passion and being that I never could before, I can listen to others and creation with a new openness, with grace and clarity. I have new Life (which is hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced this gift from God yet), and I understand today that I am glorified by God and that I am invited to participate with God in God’s good plans – which is good news! I am blessed since putting down the offenses I thought were Jesus, but were really just misappropriations of who Jesus is. There’s no doubt about it.

Jesus didn’t say, ‘Yes. I am Him.’ in a straightforward/beyond doubt kind of way. Instead, he showed us how to know it’s him. Today, all the markers he lined out are visible in my life in some really amazing ways and I’m so grateful.

After 20 years of earnest spiritual seeking and learning/practicing lots of different spiritual disciplines I can say confidently that, in Jesus, I have experienced a connection with the divine unlike anything else. It is unparalleled – far and away and high above. I love everything I’ve experienced and been taught along the way, but Jesus has added a dimension that was unattainable without his presence.

He’s it. Jesus is the one.

Same Place, But Different – Christ Visible

JESUS IN MIRROR

As many of you may have noticed (or not), this blog has been silent for a long time. I’ve thought about the blog, and you, quite often, but after my last post about sharing the gospel, I wasn’t sure how to proceed. In that situation, with the neighbor with cancer, the result was that I never felt bold enough to follow up with her. I never overcame the sense of irresolution and confusion inside. I never prayed with her. I never shared the gospel. She’s dead now, so the chance has passed.  Continue reading

Scripture Memorization Club Revelation 4:8

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I love God. It’s all consuming.

The Holy Spirit is alive and at work. I have witnessed Him in the tears and words and hearts and minds and actions of the people of my community this week. I have been filled with a Love for those people (for all of you) that is beyond my words.

It is like the peaceful joy of a well tended garden (including birds and bees) plus the permeating warmth of the sun on a perfect Spring day times infinity. To watch God at work in and through, and the concurrent tumble of falling into deep and sublime Love with you people, you wonderful people, is an incredible gift.

God is growing a pastors heart within me. He has allowed me to see all of you with just the slightest hint of the way Jesus does and I am swooning. I didn’t know pursuing ministry would feel like this.

All I can say this week is that I love the Lord. I love Him. And I give Him my life. My all. My everything.

Revelation 4:8 New International Version (NIV)

Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

“‘Holy, holy, holy

is the Lord God Almighty,’[a]

who was, and is, and is to come.”

I know how those winged creatures feel. Praise God.

This week, day and night, praise God.

Praise God.

Be blessed.

Scripture Memorization Club Matthew 27:46

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I am so sick. The skin on my lips is peeling off because I have to breathe through my mouth, my sinuses are blocked, my head feels like there is an axe in it, my throat hurts, and I have a deep, rattling, painful cough that hurts my throat more. My body is aching,  my energy is completely gone.

For two days I could not speak, I could not care for my children, I could not bathe, I could do nothing but lay in bed with my eyes closed, drifting in and out of borderline hallucinogenic sleep and waiting until I could safely take the next round of fever reducer. I have been brought low. Continue reading

Then The Pipe Burst

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There it is, the misty muddy swill and hiss of a rusted water main bested by the cold snap. That problem has come and I feel the damp of it pressing on the tiny ember of newborn hope recently kindled within me. I’m in that place in life where I’ve got to concede I’ve reached my limit. I’ve blown the balloon of my financial capacity just to the edge of bursting and I’ve got to find a way to release the pressure. I thought maybe, just maybe, the new plan that just arrived, carrying with it direction and hope, would be it. Then the pipe burst. Continue reading