An official update on the Reclaiming Eve book + DVD curriculum

Have you ever worked on a project that took four years to hatch?  If so, you'll understand our jubilation at announcing that, indeed, the Reclaiming Eve book will be published in spring 2014! It will release in March, to be exact.

Here are a few endorsements:

149718_72bd21c05fa807bb11428e0e3b989d0a.jpg_srz_320_425_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srz“The authors write, ‘..this woman has been following me all my life!’ No kidding! The reputation of Eve has trailed after us all, holding onto our ankles, pulling us back from what God has always had in mind for us to pursue and become: his free women! In Reclaiming Eve, you’ll find solid biblical thinking to help you shake off false mythology about womanhood and grab hold of much-needed freedom to embrace your destiny as God’s woman. Pick up this book, throw off the ‘old’ and live out your influence! -Elisa Morgan, Speaker, Author, She Did What She Could and The Beauty of BrokenPublisher, FullFill, www.fullfill.org 

EdC200_thumb1“Reclaiming Eve reminds us that scripture empowers and uplifts women, calling them not to merely be helpers, but to become full partners in the work of God's Kingdom. The Bible has become "bad news" for women in many churches, but this refreshing and liberating book sets the record straight.” -  Ed Cyzewski, author of Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life and co-author of Unfollowers: The Doubters, Detractors, and Dropouts Who Didn't Follow Jesus

Slingshot_120427_08_MK"Reclaiming Eve is a book I wish I could have read in my teens or early twenties, when I was just embarking on the adventure and challenge of ministry. Grounded in Scripture and brought to life by their own real experiences, the authors ennoble women.  I am thrilled to recommend this resource for every daughter of Eve who struggles at times to ground her identity in a solid place, who longs to make a difference for Jesus, and who hears false messages every day from our culture - which would include about every woman I know!" -Nancy Beach, Leadership Coach, Speaker, Champion of the Artists in the Church; Author of Gifted to Lead: The Art of Leading as a Woman in the Church

Beacon Hill Press team

My coauthors and I just returned from a trip where we recorded eight 10-minute video discussion segments that will be used in church groups for those who choose to use Reclaiming Eve as a Bible study in their small group or church class. In what could only be a beautiful act of God, the videotaping among the three of us was seamless, rewarding and fun. (Admittedly, part of the fun was dressing up in cute outfits and getting our hair and makeup done. And I'm not apologizing for it!) The folks from Nazarene Publishing House/Beacon Hill Press treated us so kindly. But the best part of the whole video thing was the realization that this project has transformed me spiritually and that these coauthors have lovingly pointed me toward Jesus and his plans for all of us. What a gift!

Not only will the book finally be published—painting a Christ-centered vision for why women must rise up to join their brothers in advancing God's Kingdom—the video will help to reinforce our personal passion to see God's daughters celebrated, encouraged, and mobilized for him. The DVD package will include a Bible-study insert that will help guide the weekly studies, and each ten-minute segment can also be downloaded individually if you're only interested in one or two chapter discussions.

So thank you for joining us on our journey to reclaim Eve and every woman ever born, no matter her circumstance. Stay tuned for regular updates, and an official way to preorder the book in the next month or so. This is our prayer: Do with this little book what you will, Lord. May it unleash women to stand side-by-side with their brothers, advancing Your Kingdom through all means possible. So be it.

Stay tuned for the next update, when we'll announce the preorder page on amazon.com.

In your opinion, what keeps us from seeing Eve as a full imagebearer of the living God? Why has she so often carried a "second-class citizenship" throughout history? Can't wait to read your answers.

A prayer for your Friday

Prayer from church father Augustine on finding God after a long search:

Saint Augustine in His Study by Sandro Botticelli, 1480, Chiesa di Ognissanti, Florence, Italy, wikipedia.com

Too late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient, O Beauty so new. Too late have I loved you!  You were within me but I was outside myself, and there I sought you! In my weakness I ran after the beauty of the things you have made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The things you have made kept me from you - the things which would have no being unless they existed in you! You have called, you have cried, and you have pierced my deafness. You have radiated forth, you have shined out brightly, and you have dispelled my blindness. You have sent forth your fragrance, and I have breathed it in, and I long for you. I have tasted you, and I hunger and thirst for you. You have touched me, and I ardently desire your peace.

-Augustine, Confessions, X, 27, 38

Describe a turning point or "aha" moment when you realized you longed for your Creator more than the Created things he made. How did this change things for you?

When Jesus Exaggerates, part 2

Many Wednesdays, I'll be taking an "underneath-the-hood" look at Scripture, pushing us to go deeper and to read the Bible for what it is, not for what we want it to be. Last week, in part 1, we looked at how we sometimes misinterpret the words of Jesus when he exaggerates. Specifically, we saw that when Jesus makes a statement of physical or logical impossibility in the gospels, all is not literal—neither should it be taken as such. We also discovered that Jesus exaggerates often to make a point to his hearers, hearers in a very different culture and time than ours.

This week, we shine a spotlight on what's happening when something Jesus says contradicts something else he has said. We'll continue to draw examples from the fabulous book pictured here, Interpreting Puzzling Texts in the New Testament. (No, I am not exaggerating re: its fabulousness. It's probably even worth the $23.47 they make you pay for this paperback on amazon.) 

Interpreting Puzzling Texts in the New Testament

Here's a question that stumps many: "Why does Jesus ask us to pray in secret  (Matthew 6:6) while also giving us the very-corporate Lord's Prayer? (v. 9-13)"

Have you ever heard someone say they don't do public prayer because of what Jesus says in Matthew 6:6? I have; but at the time it struck me more as an excuse for not wanting to volunteer to pray than solid biblical exegesis.

Try this on for size: the evangelist who wrote the book of Matthew clearly did not mean for the two concepts to contradict, though they are in the same passage. Most likely, he took the intended meaning behind verse 6 to indicate that "personal prayer is not for show or for the applause of people but rather is a private matter between the believer and God."

Still not convinced? Then what about considering the fact that Jesus and other good Jews met regularly in synagogues with prayers incorporated into public services?

When you take the whole of the biblical witness and life of Jesus into account, you see that: A statement which conflicts with what Jesus says elsewhere may contain exaggeration. It is also true that a statement which conflicts with the behavior of Jesus elsewhere may contain exaggeration:

  • In Luke 14:26, Jesus supposedly endorses hatred of one's parents and family. 
  • Then we witness him entrusting care of his mother to the beloved disciple upon his death (John 19:26-27) and we remember that as a young man "he went down with [his parents] and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them" (Luke 2:51).

We read his words, watch his actions, and seek to let Jesus say what he intends to say, not what we want to hear. In this case, Jesus appears to be encouraging his disciples to count the cost of following him; sometimes this will mean that they lose their family ties. But this doesn't cancel out their responsibility to care for their families and to love and to submit to them.

My two cents: Jesus was a profound communicator who used a plethora of rhetorical techniques to make his point to his original audience in their everyday context.

2,000 years later, in our earnest efforts to discover his truth, we've often squeezed the beauty, metaphor and exaggeration out of his sayings so that we can "follow him to the point."

In so doing, we've often missed the point entirely! Combine fundamentalism with a lack of knowledge of the culture of Jesus day and you get some pretty wacky interpretations of Scripture. Let Jesus say whatever he meant to say with whatever kind of exaggeration he meant to use in the original hearers' context, and you are treading on life-giving truth.

It's like mining for gold. This is the kind of stuff that still surprises and delights me, day after day, though I've been in the church all my life. And that makes serious study worth the effort.

(Next week: Jesus on divorce. Oh, yes, we're going there. Was Jesus using overstatement when he spoke about divorce in Mark 10:2-12? And if we're missing something he was referring to when we read Scripture, what does it mean for us today? Deep waters next Wednesday.)

Comments: Can you name a saying or teaching of Jesus in which you have wondered if he is exaggerating? 

Welcome to the blog: hope you'll pull up a chair!

Anyone who's anyone is blogging. That's one of the very reasons I've been reluctant to do so. In the last five years alone I have:

  • gotten married
  • moved out of state
  • faced several years of infertility
  • turned 40
  • decided to pursue adoption
  • served as an interim pastor
  • led a Bible study for recovering addicts
  • coauthored a book
  • pursued a theology degree
  • weathered the loss of my husband's parents

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Look at your own life and you'll note: a lot can happen in five years. Along the way, I tried to blog but couldn't sustain it. My heart was all wrapped up in questions and quandaries, and I simply had no need to speak of these things publicly. Frankly, some of these things felt too terrible for words. 

And yet.

I've been through a refining fire that has transformed my heart, renewed my mind, and somehow, someway, shaped my theology to the point that I can tell you that God calls me His Beloved even if I never have a child, even if I don't find the perfect spot to exercise my calling, even if there are some things in the Bible I will never understand this side of eternity.

Here lately, with theology classes rumbling around in my head, and a heart scanning the horizon for God's beauty expressed through His World and His Word, I have longed to speak and write of these things too precious for words. So here we are, you and me. And here's what you can expect.

A place of longing, hope, careful biblical reflection, heart formation and transformation, and amidst it all, a search for the Beauty. I heard it this week in a child's laugh. I saw it last night on the face of a husband who is fighting for his wife's heart; I observed her fighting for his as well. I was reminded that God's promise-plan to Abraham, and likewise to us, reeks of the Beautiful. And that Jesus' Sermon on the Mount is overwhelmed by it, brimming over with Kingdom hope and rightly-ordered affections. Stick around very long, and you will see that I long to see His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. I seek that my heart would agree with God's heart for all of His big, beautiful Creation. And lest there be any mistaking it, I long for each one God has created to be reconciled to Him through Jesus.

And so, a few notes on particulars. I'll follow weekly posts as much as I am able. Here's what they'll look like:

Barren Mondays & God Stories

How does one discover beauty and meaning when life appears to be stripped of hope and fruitfulness? How does a woman living out her infertility battle her brokenness to discover beauty? Tune in for true stories of inbreaking joy found through the laments of life—we'll be talking physical, emotional and spiritual barrenness and how God breaks through the dry and cracked soil of our broken places to bring new life.

When I served as a pastor, I would occasionally share "God Stories" with the congregation—that is, stories of the inbreaking of the Kingdom in our everyday lives and our everyday church. As stories occur in my life and the lives of those God puts in my path, I watch my theology grow, evolve and become grounded in a God whose goodness overshadows every pain and struggle we might face. Read the stories and remember that God is alive and active, restoring, renewing, and bringing hope in the most unlikely places.

Word-filled Wednesdays 

Sometimes the Bible surprises you, slaps you upside the head, knocks you over with intensity and begins to promise you more than you ever dreamed you could hope for. Welcome to the last five years of my life. Take a fresh look at God's Word and discover the freedom of  reading it for what it is, not for what we want it to be. Surprises await! Go ahead, drink deep.

Formation Fridays

What was lost will be found. Find grace in these disciplines that always felt like they were confining us, reining us in, keeping us in line. Instead, explore old and new ways to be beautifully formed into the image of Jesus. Formation Fridays are for you, dear one. Because He calls you Beloved, the One that He loves, the One that he delights in. 

Aside from these scheduled conversations, I'm hoping you, the reader, will create ideas for conversations yet to be conceived. We are in this together, and together we will add to the Beauty that God intended from the beginning. Let's get this party started!