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How many of you devote some portion of your summer vacation to visit family members, or to participate in a family reunion? This summer my husband and I will travel to his family farm, to reunite with extended family members in order to learn the latest news, both happy and sad, and to share a Sunday worship service together. Everyone looks forward to hearing how our lives have changed since the last reunion. We’re all excited to spend time together praying as a family, too. Like our extended family, many church families also meet during the summer months, to learn what Christ is doing in their local communities, and how Christ is leading them as an extended church family. Like the worship service I will share with my husband’s family, many church families meet in order to p... Read more
I think there's nothing more important than revision. When God matures us and leads us to a new vision or better understanding, we must revise our way of thinking even if it's a complete embarrassment to ourselves. Looking back on my life, I can see so many times when I was sure of a thing and then it turned out differently. I don't have regrets about following Him down those paths because of the lessons I learned as a result of them, but it's funny how in the end, it was not as I was so convicted about. For example, having an egalitarian view for marriage and the church is completely different than what I had taught and been so convinced about for so long. Only a few years ago, you would find me teaching that men should lead and women should follow. I taught it quite... Read more
Recently I happened upon an interview from Christianity Today with the new President and CEO of evangelical publishing giant Zondervan. To my surprise, "Moe" Girkins' first name is actually Maureen, and she is a proven leader in the technological sector, as well as a current MDiv student at Trinity Evangelical Seminary—not exactly who I would have pinpointed as the company's top choice. I'm really excited about Girkins for two reasons: First, she's a woman. And not only that, but a woman with experience in other male-dominated industries. I would expect this gives her a healthy awareness of gender dynamics in the workplace—including the unfortunate existence of sexism—as well as the confidence to take charge... Read more
Women, are often told that emotions are invalid, or that feelings are a sign of weakness. I have heard time and time again the statement against women in leadership, on the basis of protecting the “weaker sex,” that leadership is reserved for individuals (presumably men) who possess a thicker skin. At a conference a couple weeks ago, I came across a booth selling a series of paintings depicting Christ. This artist portrayed Christ as a good-looking tan gentleman who glowed in oil pastels. His white robes were unsullied by the dust and the movement of the crowds around him. His smile was practically an advertisement for White Strips. The paintings didn’t jive at all with my mind’s picture of the person of Christ. If we cannot portray Christ realistically—as... Read more
I just browsed through the latest catalogue from the largest Christian bookseller in Australia and one of their latest titles is "His Brain, Her Brain" with the subtitle "How divinely designed differences can strengthen your marriage". A few pages later there are books suggesting there is a 'feminine heart' (created in the image of an intimate God) and a 'masculine heart' (defined in the image of an intimate and passionate God). The first book is written by a couple with many years experience in marriage counseling which could give it credibility, but with our more than 35 years marriage counselling my husband and I have discovered a diverse range of 'brains' among both women and men. One outstanding example was a guy who was... Read more
Sitting in a sunny hallway the other day, I caught sight of a young girl coming my way. She was tripping along, tailing her brother, and together they were playing a silly game. As she passed me, she held out a tiny arm and giggled, “My wing is broken.” Two minutes later she returned, still flapping her arm, and without any sense of adult contradiction, chirped, “Watch how I fly!” At CBE, we recognize the long journey women have been on toward wholeness and healing. We understand that women have often felt as if their wings have been broken, their spirits grounded, their gifting denied. They have been told that a woman leading is a contradiction. It is easy to get discouraged on a road that often is full of potholes, contradictions, and disappointments. However,... Read more
As children, we are unfamiliar with our voices. We don’t always know what to say, how to carry expression, and what volume to use when talking. When I was young, adults told me that there are two kinds of voices: an “outside” and “inside” one. It was not until I was older that I learned this philosophy had translated into churches and Christian culture. It seemed as if other Christians had assigned women “inside” voices—softer, less valid ones. Men were encouraged to speak, booming with authoritative tones, as if they were the only ones that had something to say worth listening to. For years, I learned a way of silence. In the churches I grew up in, there were no female leaders. Women could participate in other ways such as Sunday sch... Read more
A few months ago, I was asked to play the role of Ruth in a church drama. I was unsure about accepting the part, having a heavy academic load as I tried to finish my last year at Bethel University. But the more I thought about it, the more I was drawn to the character of Ruth and her life. And finally I accepted. In the days and weeks that followed, I found ways that Ruth’s voice and experience paralleled many of my own thoughts as I graduate and move out into the world to find the calling Christ has for me. Since I will be moving away from the Minneapolis area, my internship with CBE will end and I have found my heart’s cry to be the same as Ruth’s as she anticipated parting with Naomi, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be... Read more
Adapted from a post originally appearing on Ashleigh's personal blog, Being Redefined, May 2007. "It's ultimately about Jesus," "We want to focus on the essentials," "No reason to stir up controversy." The excuses to avoid serious questions about the issue of women in ministry are plentiful, and many sound pretty good. So why bother with an issue that's seemingly on the sidelines? Well, because it isn't! Don't get me wrong; there are certainly much more crucial elements of our faith. But the more I grow in Christ the more I understand that he desires to be Lord over everything in our lives and in this world! There is nothing that shouldn't be submitted to his leadership, including our church governing structure... Read more
If you spend time with 20 and 30 year olds, you realize one of the most important topics on their minds, understandably, is dating and marriage. Young men and women are eager to discover gender differences, awakening powerfully in them; to understand and interact with the opposite sex in ways that please God and nurture their own maturity. It is a very exciting time in life, and their questions are healthy and God-given. Yet a powerful industry has developed to address gender in ways that are at odds with the biblical account. According to Jackson Katz (author of The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help), secular culture depicts male action heroes as muscular, forceful and dominant, while females are imaged as frail beauties, dependent on dominant males.... Read more