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Mutuality

Life sometimes comes in shock waves. A marriage teetering between life and death. A child born to an unmarried teenage daughter. A job loss. A notice of house foreclosure. A middle-of-the-night chaplain’s visit bearing the news of a son’s death. Sometimes life can be too much. Within two years Karen had endured each of these shock waves. When it seemed the hurt could not go any deeper, it managed to seep through whatever remaining façade of togetherness Karen could fake. And then her 23-year-old son — her only son — died. Out in the familiar Michigan countryside near the property of a dear friend, Karen walked. Soon family and friends would be coming to bury the ashes of her son under a sapling that would be planted at the service. Alone in the place that had nurtured her through the years, Karen cried out to God, “You’re still here, aren’t you?”  A butterfly fluttered near her chest. Then it flew away, circling back and coming close several times in the next few minutes. God, through creation, reminded Karen that yes, he was still very present. This butterfly experience may seem coincidental and perhaps strange. Theologically, can we affirm that God answers a mother’s cry with a butterfly? There is at least one realm in which this experience will be taken seriously, even welcomed — a spiritual direction session. In this context, I have found there is freedom to examine life — the best of it and the worst of it — and look for evidence of God. Read more
CBE has recently become the subject of unexpected news coverage. Our ministry has been featured in publications such as the Christian Science Monitor, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Associated Baptist Press. That these stories have led to numerous radio shows is both exciting, and somewhat curious. Why are the leaders of religious news so interested in CBE? Read more
Americans lead busy lives, and Vanessa Chitwood was no exception. Since the beginning of her marriage, Chitwood had worked to part-time as a nurse support her growing family. She also enjoyed volunteering at her local church. Still, she felt God wanted more from her. “There were areas of my life I kept under my own control. God was speaking to me about the need to give everything to him.” One day in 1996 she pulled her car into a parking lot and breathed a prayer of complete surrender to God. Eighteen months later Chitwood felt called to full-time ministry, but uncertainties kept her silent. It was not a direction she would have imagined for herself. “I kept these feelings to myself for about a year, thinking I was crazy, but the desire to serve just grew deeper, and in 1998 I acknowledged the call to my family and pastor and the process began.” Read more
Editor’s Note: Mary Katherine Campbell, a 60-year-old veteran missionary to Togo, West Africa, and a cancer survivor, returned to her field of service on Sept. 3, using her savings and contributions from friends. Campbell was one of the missionaries terminated by the Southern Baptist International Mission Board for not signing the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. She wrote this letter to family and friends explaining her situation. I was among the nearly 100 foreign missionaries who could not in good conscience sign the oath of affirmation of the revised 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. Many of my colleagues in our worldwide missionary force of 5,000-plus were able to sign it; some gladly, some reluctantly. Among those of us unable to sign, most either resigned or took early retirement, but 13 held out until “termination” was voted on May 7, 2003, by the board of trustees. Why couldn’t I sign the document? For 18 months, my mind and heart churned with the doctrinal changes made to the statement and the motivation behind the request to affirm it. I listened to colleagues as we debated it and the so-called “statement of accountability,” and read everything I could about the arguments, pro and con. I prayed, read scripture and sought God’s will for my own life. I reviewed the changes made in my beloved Southern Baptist Convention during the last 20-plus years, and I deeply resented the more recent accusations of heresy against the missionaries made by some of the current Southern Baptist leaders. I listened to respected colleagues say, “Just sign the piece of paper and go on with your work.” But I couldn’t honestly do that. Read more
This is a letter Ron Hankins wrote after the International Mission Board ordered missionaries to sign the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. Over 27 years ago, I came to Japan with the International Mission Board as a journeyman. Here I met another journeyman — Lydia Barrows, the woman I would later marry. As God led us both into full-time Christian service, we returned to the United States, got married and headed for seminary. After graduation, we were both ordained in Lydia’s home church into the “full gospel ministry.” Each of us was appointed to Japan as a “general evangelist” to start and lead churches. There wasn’t a “church and home” designation for Lydia — she was called by God and trained by Southern Baptists to be a church starter and pastor. Read more
Persecution and injustice are expected in a fallen world. Yet, finding the right way to deal with hurtful situations can still be difficult, says spiritual director Lola Scobey. “Persecution because of beliefs in biblical equality can challenge a person’s deepest sense of self and self-worth,” says Scobey. “A constant barrage of views historically held by some church groups ... can undermine a person’s confidence in both their personhood and their viewpoints.” Many emotions can be expected. Among them are anger, hatred, sadness, resentment, self-doubt, derailment, fear and hopelessness, says Scobey. “[D]ifferent strategies are required to deal with each of these negative emotions,” says Scobey. However, she adds that there are six fundamentals for dealing with any negative emotion. Read more
How do we forward the cause of biblical equality? The same way wise people forward any other cause: Understand to whom you are speaking and/or writing. What are their interests? What do they feel strongly about? What do they understand about their own position or yours? Read more
Over the years, one of the themes I have heard regarding marriage is the need for the husband to love his wife and for the wife to respect her husband (Eph. 5:33). It is an excellent theme, especially regarding husbands loving as Christ loved the church. Another theme that I think is excellent is that the husband needs to respect his wife. Unfortunately, I have not heard much along these lines. There may be various reasons for this, but I wonder if the net effect is rather like short-sheeting a bed: it’s still a made bed but the sheets just don’t fit the way they should. When I have heard discussion about love and respect it is often applied as gender specific: a woman needs love, a man needs respect. But it isn’t that cut and dry. Men need to be loved as well, and women need to be respected, too.  Read more
A college student shared a story about his family opening gifts at Christmas in his living room. His father walked over to his mother and presented her with a large, heavy package. The student remembers the excitement on his mother’s face as she unwrapped the present. Just as quickly, her expression changed to dismay as she slowly lifted the cold, steel shotgun from the box. The young man’s own spirits fell as he realized what his father had done; the gun was something he, not his wife, had always wanted. Read more
Like most of the other kids that grew up in Good News Baptist Church, my testimony begins with the day I asked Jesus into my heart as a 5-year-old girl in Vacation Bible School. But 20 years later, as I prepared my statement of faith for my application to seminary, I realized something about my testimony that I had never noticed before. As I bowed my head to pray, I remember feeling disappointed that the pastor’s wife was praying with me instead of the pastor. Although she was a godly woman, I thought that somehow if he led me in prayer it would count more than his wife’s prayers. I wished that I could sneak away and join the children who got to pray with the pastor. Read more

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Scot McKnight's Junia is Not Alone: A book review

"Let me be clear once more. The editors of Greek New Testaments killed Junia. They killed her by silencing her into non-existence" (p. 14).

Such strong words are echoed throughout this short e-book from Scot McKnight, illustrating how a historical person was systematically eliminated from Bible translations. The record of how this happened is detailed very clearly in Junia is Not Alone: Breaking Our Silence About Women in the Bible and the Church Today—Scot McKnight has definitely done his homework.

Book Review: Resources for Egalitarian Men's Ministries: Coming of Age

Coming of Age is a result of the Young Male Spirituality Project, a joint effort of Lutheran Men in Mission, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Luther Seminary (St. Paul, Minn.) to find out why young men are staying away from the church in droves, a pattern that surveys are showing is increasingly alarming.

Book Review: Coming to Know Christ as Lord: A review of Anne Rice's novel, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt

Anne Rice's writing is usually associated with vampires, witches, and devils. The twenty-six books she has written over the last 30 years included two cycles chronicling the lives of her characters. Paralleling her return to the faith of her youth, Rice's new novel, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, marks the beginning of a profoundly new cycle in her authorship.

Book Review: Rise Up: A Call to Leadership for African American Women

I applaud Sylvia Rose for writing an impassioned plea for African American women to step forward, rise up, and take leadership in the world. One challenge I had in reading this book was identifying the intended audience. It seems most likely to appeal to African American women who are well-educated or in the church already. But I believe Rose's message is valuable for readers with a broad range of education and church experiences.

Book Review: Tracing God's Women from Genesis to the New Testament: God's Women Then and Now

This book, written by two ordained women, deals in a winsome and loving way with the issue of women in leadership in the church and home. While solid in scholarship, the book is easy to read and full of personal and biblical illustrations.

Book Review: Mirror Mirror Reflects God's Love for Teens

When I heard about Mirror Mirror, I was immediately skeptical. Given the general genre, I was surprised and delighted by the thoughtful, creative egalitarian content of the book. I quickly realized I was wrong to judge this book by its cover.

Is There Any Good News About Injustice?: A Book Review of Good News About Injustice

Educating ourselves about the manifestation of injustice in the world can be painful, and as a result many of us try to avoid it. Like children who bury themselves under the covers with flashlights in fear of the dark, some of us are guilty of averting our eyes from the results of injustice by pretending the victims do not exist. However, for those who have been victims of injustice, the results are impossible to avoid.

Book Review: What Bible History Says About Women in Ministry: From Bondage to Blessing

If you want one book that clarifies controversial biblical passages about women in leadership, documents God's use of women in both the Old and New Testaments, and explains how and why the church grew away from equality after the time of Christ, this is it. In From Bondage to Blessing, Dee Alei traces the argument for biblical equality chronologically through the Bible and history. She also takes readers through the questions to a greater depth of understanding of biblical equality.

Book Review: Mark and Grace Driscoll's Real Marriage

Let me tell you about my car. It's your typical sedan. It doesn't have many special features, but I honestly appreciate what it offers (all-wheel drive). The trouble is, when the mercury drops below zero, which happens all too frequently in Minnesota, it probably won't start. But it will toy with me, turning over just enough to inspire hope. Sadly, it rarely comes through for me. It's the kind of car you don't drive if you have a better option. But if you have to drive it, you'll survive, as long as you can manage its many problems.

Love & War by John and Stasi Eldredge: A book review

While enjoying Valentine's Day dinner this year, my husband and I talked about the joys of being married. When he asked me what has been the most pleasant surprise of the past three years, I thought for a moment, slowly smiled, and said, "Marriage has been a lot easier than I thought it would be."

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