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Mutuality

I believe that left-handed people are fully capable and called by God for ministry. I believe left-handed people can serve in ordained ministry or any other capacity, just as right-handed people can. However, some oppose left-handers. They believe that God made left- and right-handers equal in essence only, while denying them access to certain vocations. Ordained ministry is for the right-handers only, as the claim goes. Believe it or not, the Bible does portray left-handers in ministry. Take Judges 3:15: “Again the Israelites cried out to the Lord, and he gave them a deliverer — Ehud, a left-handed man...” I’m guessing you have never heard of Ehud, I know I hadn’t until I met a few left-handers trying to respond to their calling…. Read more
Harriet had conscientiously served the ministry’s leaders, Rev. and Mrs. Smith, for twenty-five years. The Smiths were a godly couple, and their work for the Kingdom had flourished over the years. Theirs was a model of a faithful marriage, and they were seen as blessed by God. Working for the Smiths had not always been easy, but Harriet was deeply committed to the ministry. She had left once, but God made it clear that she was to return. God promised her that he understood, and that he would allow her to birth a project of her own that would be of value to the Kingdom. Read more
A few years ago, the leaders of a major denomination struggled with the issue of women in their executive leadership ranks. Women could be ordained as pastors but could not ascend to the next level of clergy leadership, District Elder. Through the years more women began to call for a shattering of the “stained-glass ceiling”1 that prevented them from assuming key decision-making roles. Finally, at the denomination’s annual convention of clergy, a series of policy resolutions were debated. Many of the current leaders advocated that women should be elevated to the next level of leadership but must be given a title other than District Elder. Two women delegates were given permission to address the Board of Directors. These two women boldly represented the sentiments of a vast number of women of this denomination. Read more
Growing up, my father’s esteem was the most important in my life. Throughout my childhood I attempted to meet — and exceed — his expectations for me. I longed for his approval. If he thought I was smart, I was. If he thought I was pretty, I was. If he thought I was worthy of love, I was. My father’s sense of who I was shaped who I wanted to be. And it shaped who I wanted to be with. Whether a girl’s relationship with her father was good or bad, existent or not, he is still the first man in her life. As girls move from child-hood to adolescence to adulthood, their fathers are often the first people they turn to discover their worth. Read more
Did you know that the Bible is filled with single people who were loved, called and used by God? Whether prophets or widows, eunuchs or church leaders, these single souls served God “with gladness and singleness of heart.” And the greatest among them was the Son of God. Read more
“Can you stay late again tonight to help me work out one last kink in the budget?” Pastor Keith gently urged Sarah from the doorway of her office. Sarah glanced at her watch, then back at Keith. His big blue eyes won again. “Sure, I’ll come to your office as soon as I make a quick call home.” Her heart began to race a little. She had worked for other pastors before, but never had one of them appreciated her as much as Keith did. She really felt special around him. “Great!” he beamed as he gave her a wink and big smile. By the time Sarah had cleared her desk, made the call and joined him, all the other staff members had gone home. As she entered his office, he jumped up and offered her a chair beside his desk. “You’re an incredible woman, Sarah. You’re the best administrator this church has ever had. Besides that, you bring me more joy than you can imagine!” Keith exclaimed. After that last comment, his face clouded and he added, just above a whisper, “I wish I could say that about my wife.” That she could mean so much to Keith touched Sarah deeply. How she longed to save him from the heartache he was experiencing in his marriage... Read more
Sister Peng pays a high price to be a Christian in China. She has been arrested many times, and she will go to jail again if the police catch her preaching the gospel. Forced to live as a fugitive, she must sneak into her home at night to visit her husband and young daughter. The first time Peng was taken into custody, just after the Tienanmen Square massacre in Beijing in 1989, she was delivering a fresh shipment of Chinese Bibles to some unregistered pastors. She was thrown into a dirty detention cell and tortured with an electric cattle prod in an effort to force a confession of her “crimes.” She shivered in that cell for months. Guards offered no coats, blankets or feminine hygiene supplies. “For eight months I had no contact with anyone. I just ate soup in my cell,” Peng told me when I visited China three years ago. “It is really God’s mercy that he fed me and kept me warm.”  Read more
The first-century Middle-Eastern world that Jesus experienced in the flesh was a patriarchal culture several millennia old. Although Jewish patriarchy had been shaped by the Law of Moses early on, its views about women had become distorted over time in its oral traditions, or midrashim, and were often influenced by neighboring cultures such as that of the Greeks. Read more
The twenty-something man with spiky hair and trendy, too-tight jeans strummed his guitar as he spoke. “See, I’m the spiritual leader of our home, the sole provider for my wife and children…” Read more
I love the biblical story of Shiphrah and Puah, the Hebrew midwives we encounter in the beginning of the book of Exodus (Exod. 1:15-20). Despite the fierce oppression the Israelites were facing under the Egyptians, their numbers were increasing and the king of Egypt was getting nervous. He summoned Shiphrah and Puah and ordered them to murder all Hebrew boys they helped deliver. Read more

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Book Review: Forgotten Girls: Stories of Hope and Courage

A Tibetan girl named Sonam used to spend her days collecting dung for fuel and desperately trying to patch the worn sides of the tent she shared with her mother. That is, until something as simple as a basic cinder-block house freed her family from the elements and allowed her to attend school. Then there's Meerim, an accomplished young Kyrgyz woman who was kidnapped and forced to reject her Christian faith for an unwanted Muslim marriage. And Mai Lin, a Chinese AIDS orphan. After years of rejection by her community, she was educated and cared for at a Christian school.

Book Review: Singles and the Church: A Match Made in Heaven?

At my former church, I offered a suggestion to the pastor. I told him that his morning sermon had been geared toward the married members of the congregation, but did not have application for singles. I suggested that he try to include messages relevant for single churchgoers as well. He looked at me and straightforwardly replied, "I don't know how to include singles because I am married."

Book Review: What Science Says About Superiority: Shattering the Myth of Race

Shattering the Myth of Race by Dave Unander is a thoughtful discussion of the conflict of race and ethnicity against the backdrop of the history of Western Europe and the United States.

Unander speaks of many people's lack of family roots in his Chicago neighborhood in the 1920s and 1930s to suggest that people can lose a sense of racial or cultural identity. In his multiethnic neighborhood, what people were like had more bearing on what he thought of them than their racial or ethnic background.

Book Review: Unmarried But Not Unimportant: Single Women: Challenge to the Church?

Intended for single women and the churches they attend, Single Women: Challenge to the Church? tackles the unique challenges faced by single, Christian women through the eyes of nearly 100 women who were surveyed and interviewed for the project.

The book also addresses the church's response to these challenges and provides practical suggestions for the church on how to serve its single members. This work is an encouragement for single women because it views singleness as a gift that holds a distinct purpose for a woman's service to God.

Margot Starbuck's Unsqueezed: Springing Free from Skinny Jeans, Nose Jobs, Highlights, and Stilettos: A book review

I will be honest about this. Margot Starbuck's Unsqueezed: Springing Free from Skinny Jeans, Nose Jobs, Highlights and Stilettos (InterVarsity Press, 2010) is not a book I would typically pick up, let alone excitedly read. With its giant, bright red, high heeled shoe on the cover, and a different pair of shoes gracing the first page of each chapter, I worried that it would be a "fluffy" message about how all women are beautiful—a Christian "chick lit" book that would provide milk when I was longing for meat, to use the metaphor of Hebrews 5.

The Gospel of Ruth by Carolyn Custis James: A book review

James begins by giving her readers an in-depth look at what it means to be a widow and a barren woman in Old Testament times, a heart-wrenching reality for both Naomi and Ruth. Her treatment on barrenness is particularly full of insight as she describes how God uses pain to engage his people on a deeper level, while also making it clear that the pain of loss can never be glossed over. She writes, "Even when we can pinpoint 'something good' that came out of tragedy, it never balances out what we have lost . . .

Susan McLeod-Harrison's Saving Women from the Church: A Book Review

I had just finished teaching an adult Sunday School class on spiritual gifts when a friend ran up to me and asked, "Did you hear what pastor said today in his sermon—that women can't teach men—and he used you as an example?" In processing my pain and confusion from that day, I found resources from Christians for Biblical Equality that helped me heal, and led me to Jesus. Now, there's a new publication that offers similar hope and healing for women: Susan McLeod­Harrison's Saving Women from the Church—How Jesus Mends a Divide.

Book Review: Jo Anne Lyon's The Ultimate Blessing

JoAnne Lyon feels the way all of us do sometimes—depressed, bitter, lonely, helpless. But she also remembers what we often forget—that through the pain and frustration of human existence, we are blessed by a transcendent God who loves us and promises to be with us always.

Book Review: Crossing the Divide: Daughters of Islam

Daughters of Islam: Building Bridges with Muslim Women is a wonderfully relevant book for Christians who have little knowledge of Islam or the people who subscribe to it. This book helps readers peer into the hearts of Muslim women, to perceive what they feel and think, and to understand how they live.

Book Review: Kate Hurley's Getting Naked Later

Are you still looking for a way to use those two-for-one coupons you long to share with a spouse? Or, are you constantly giving your single friends advice on how to snag a mate? There's something for you in Getting Naked Later, by Kate Hurley. Don't be put off by the title—she never gets into specifics.

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