Blue Parakeets in the House of Venus and Mars

In a most recent article graciously offered by cc, An Opportunity to be like Jesus, we are entertained for the briefest of moment by what has been a past spur in the foot, but as new and sharper thorns birth, has seemingly become only a nuance in the annals of church polity.

Candidly, with the rise of chat about the gay and lesbian movement in our nation, the role of women in the ministry of the church has lost much of its luster as a topic for discussion. So much so, I apologetically admit to having forgotten to acknowledge by book review an interesting and illuminating piece of work somewhat on the topic.

Blue Parakeet“Blue Parakeet” by Scot McKnight is subtitled “Rethinking How You Read the Bible,” but somewhere in the midst of about half way through his write, it becomes evident that the author will support a personal agenda in his argument of how we read our Bibles.

He is moved to note that we historically have gender-ized Scripture to benefit the male side of the male-female created image bearing relationship, who are not meant to be divided for the purpose of elevating either above the other.

His defense of this thought begins at the beginning; the creation account. In short, man was created alone so God took from the one and made two, but then quickly made the two back into one. Let that one sink in for a moment.

I think that if forgetfulness does not set in again, maybe someone will prod if so, that I would like to chew upon some of Mr. McKnight’s main points on this topic publicly. I may and may not find full agreement in everything he reveals, but at the heart of his work is an important and much needed to be discussed postulation. Is a gender-biased reading of the Bible a man made affair?

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Journaling in Distant Lands; The Missionary

100_1011Thorns and thistles grow with no effort for the missionary stationed in a distant land. This isn’t something we westerners often brood over until we stand beside them; see and feel their struggle through the endless trial-some task of gardening.

It is dark already when the weekly outside gathering begins. There are only solar powered lights sharing their remembrance of a sun that set some time ago and gave the way to a lesser light.

100_0713Besides the missionary, his family, and their ragtag visitors from the west, there are three in attendance.

My mind wanders back across an ocean to a mansion where a similar study will take place in a few hours. It will be well lit and climate controlled. I marvel at so great the disparity.

Our presence means there are not enough seats, so some of us share simple benches and small wooden foot stools. My mind wrongly entertains the thought, “Will my friends across the water appreciate their cushioned seating this evening?”

100_0714The missionary teaches his friends in a language we don’t understand. Each of the three takes turns reading passages of Scripture, and on occasion, the missionary breaks to offer us a morsel of their study in English.

The missionary’s son prepares and diligently serves all of us tea throughout the evening. This custom is one we will participate in often during our stay. I think how proud the missionary ought be of so fine a son. This is a small token of the servant heart this young man will display during our visit. In each act of service and every time his presence is 100_0708visible, I know that it is Jesus making Himself known in a willing vessel surrendered to Him. It is humbling and yet so refreshing to watch the missionary’s primary disciple walking in his labor prepared beforehand.

Afterwards, we share our testimonies and enjoy the fellowship of a meal together. Minus the luxuries we are accustomed to back home, and the number of attendees, it appears we have merely engaged in a Wednesday evening service, but there is so much more resting beneath what is seen on this night.

Persecution, you know, comes in many sizes and shapes. This distant land we visit offers its own version of the enemy’s assault against the gospel. The people here are religious; very religious. It is a strange religion though, one that attempts to homogenize two belief systems; Islam and Animism.

The people are also very relation and tradition oriented. Following Jesus in this land means that one might very well lose everything, including family, friends, and vocation.

100_0978One of the men in attendance tells of his conversion being announced by radio to his village. He loses his famed soccer career. Another’s wife reported him to their community religious leaders. She wants nothing to do with his new faith. Each of the men display signs of wavering under the pressure. Is Jesus worth it, I can’t help but think they must ask?

The missionary remains strong before us even though this three could easily be one by next Wednesday. This is a hard land. It is much harder than I imagined. Words I thought I understood take on a new definition, like trust, hope, faith, and perseverance.

We are home in our comforts now, but the missionary and his family remain in the hardened and distant land.

The missionary will awaken again this morning, I know, and take his place among the people who burden his heart. He will build relationships, and then strengthen them. He will pray much as he plants and waters a crop he trusts his God is giving life to. He is where God has compelled him to be… where Jesus has called him to follow; and that is enough for the missionary. He has found the true rest that this disciple prays for even as he writes these words.

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An Opportunity To Be Like Jesus

Ephesians pic 1The largest purchases I have ever made have been homes. Now The Darling and I are beginning to look at that scenario again…selling and purchasing…and the realtor’s mantra of “location, location, location” echoes in our minds. It is an old phrase. It is an over used phrase. It is a parodied phrase. But it is true. WHERE a piece of real estate is located is an important factor in its value. Its value today. And its value tomorrow.

The same truth applies to the real property of Scripture maxims. Location, location, location. Because “truth without context becomes a pretext for a proof text”.   I have been on a pilgrimage through Ephesians. I was encouraged that walking is two steps taken over and over…putting off, and putting on. I was entreated by Paul to walk in love, to walk in light, to walk in wisdom, and to walk in deference. And right there, in the middle of exhorting us to have an attitude of voluntarily yielding our advantages, right there he stops and points out amazing aside.

Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. Ephesians 5:22

Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also love the church, and gave Himself for her. Ephesians 5: 25

This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:32

Paul uses comparisons to encourage us that our walk of humility, our walk of a love unity, is a great mystery that is a depiction of the gospel. Our relationships tell a story and marriage is a parable with an eternal truth.

Instead of focusing on relationships to learn about Jesus, Paul tells us to focus on Jesus to be trained in relationships. And the pivotal aspect he keys in on is the example of our Lord’s love and humility.

We live in a broken world, with broken husbands everywhere…but wait…they live with broken wives. Ouch. So voluntarily deferring to one another in love is a spiritual discipline that must be exercised, with constant and lengthy work out sessions. It was a discipline that this headstrong, independent, determined disciple did not always enjoy being drilled in.

But God.

In this part of our expedition in Ephesians He placed a jewel of encouragement. The Jewel of Jesus. 

But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 1 Cor 11:3  

And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Phil 2:8 

Although He was a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. Hebrews 5:8

My Savior and Lord, who is the expressed image of God, made Himself a nobody. He obeyed the Father and voluntarily waived His rights. But in waiving His rights He never lost His position, for He is Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever. He was no less God when He humbled Himself in obedience. This is the example I am to follow.   I do not waive my position in deferring to someone else in the context of a living love relationship. I am not less a person. I am deferring the governing, not my standing. And as I live Christ’s example then my relationship is the gospel. In humbling my self, my life proclaims the gospel. Good News!!!   He gives more grace. He resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

And so I am back to the context of walking.

Of following Jesus.

Of taking two steps over and over and over.

Taking off the old. Putting on the new.

Imitator of God as a dearly loved child.

Part 19 of “Echoes of Encouragement from Ephesians.” See Also: Walk the Line

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