Reclaiming Eve, Out and About

4ffbcc84288edb2d21fa286abee22687A few weeks ago in church, I started chatting with a man named Mike.

"I'm reading your book," he said. (Anytime a brother says this, I want to stand up and shout.)

Smiling, I asked him what he thought.

"At first I wasn't sure what to think," he said. "But then I started reading it. And I thought, this really is what Jesus makes possible. But mostly, I just love the stories. I keep reading to find the stories." 

***

Today someone asked me what it feels like to be a published author, and I said "Mostly the same. Except that there is opposition and there is also support, and you just have to do what God is calling you to do." Would I do it all over again, if I knew how hard it would be to get published and to speak into this big conversation the Church desperately needs to have on reclaiming women for the Kingdom?

I would. I would, because one by one, I hear stories of women from Africa to Indiana being set free. Of brothers reading and discussing and supporting their sisters. Of the freedom Jesus came to bring ringing out, a little bit here, a little bit there.

May the freedom song continue, echoing, so that the whole world hears. 

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Reclaiming Eve, Out and About

Linked:

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Video:

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  • Coming soon: I'm doing a Fullfill webinar with Elisa Morgan on May 21 at 2 pm ET/1 pm CT. Sign up here. Especially helpful for those who want to lead a Reclaiming Eve discussion or study.
  • Preorder now: Reclaiming Eve Small Group DVD (Available in July) at beaconhillbooks.com and other online outlets.

Join the #ReclaimingEve conversation on facebook or twitter.

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, FullFillwww.fullfill.org 

Let's talk about Reclaiming Eve at your church or conference

Reclaiming Eve - flat image“It is a grand and powerful story of God’s plan—for women in His Kingdom, for an amazing alliance between His sons and daughters, for living out the redemption and restoration purchased by Jesus. Suzanne, Carla and Jamie have woven together their stories and the stories of other ezers to portray what can happen when God’s children live out who God made them to be, working together to do the Kingdom work He has given them.”-Judy DouglassWriter & Speaker, Director of Women’s Resources, Cru

"Reclaiming Eve is confessional and narrative and unflinching and graceful all at the same time." -pastor & writer @RyanAlanScott

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What does the gospel make possible for women?

Reclaiming Eve shows that it restores them as full partners in God's Kingdom mission.

And story by story, women and men are being set free to live out the strong partnership God intended for them in the beginning.

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Interested in inviting me to speak on this powerful and needed message? Here are some ideas on how to bring Reclaiming Eve to your church or conference:

  • Invite me to speak in a Sunday morning worship service: "Allied: Restoring God's Intentions for Men and Women" "Why Women Matter to God" (topical sermons based on the Creation account and gospel references)
  • Invite me to speak at a two-day women's conference or retreat on Reclaiming Eve.
  • Host a one-day "Allied" summit where I speak and men and women discuss reconciliation and partnership in small groups.
  • Invite me to your conference or school to present a talk on what the gospel makes possible for men and women.

Find out more about Reclaiming Eve via this recorded radio interview or this google hangout video

For more information on speaking at your gathering, contact me via this form. I look forward to hearing from you!

Friday meditation + Reclaiming Eve, Out and About

imageWhat is Jesus primarily saying to his daughters? Or put another way, the question repeats: What would you tell the woman who is discouraged by her present circumstances? 

The one facing a dead end. The many wondering how to fully contribute the gifts the Holy Spirit placed in them. Those who may be silenced.

I am not sure that my answer ever completely satisfies; I fear some are looking for the perfect solution.

I have no immediate solution that works for all, though I pray for one. But I do have a Savior.

###

I tell them they are the Beloved, the One Jesus loves, and that he delights in them.

I say, remember Jesus, dunked down in the waters of the Jordan, coming up again, only to be covered over with Belovedness, the Spirit alighting, the voice saying:

"This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

Did you know that God loves you this much? That he seeks out the desperate, downtrodden and discouraged and offers them his delight and pleasure? How can I convince you that you are defined by God's intentions—his great, glorious intentions for each of his daughters, and not by your current circumstances?

How can I convince myself?

###

Jesus' words ring true for all of us, all of us who are stretching, reaching out to touch his hem, hoping that just a touch will heal.

Who touched me? he says.

We fall at his feet, trembling in fear, and confess the truth.

And he says, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

But there is more than simple healing here. The unclean woman (Mark 5:25-34) went from exclusion (do you feel this, too?) to complete inclusion (a daughter given a place).

Keep reaching for his hem. Keep meeting with him as his Beloved. Watch him heal you and know that no matter what anyone else says, Jesus has already set his daughters free.

Watch the two-minute video on how Jesus frees The Unclean Woman here.

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Reclaiming Eve, Out and About

Linked:

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Broadcast:

  • TheWritingShow.com, hosted by Ann Byle and Dawn Jones, on the challenges and writing of Reclaiming Eve. Listen here.
  • WKTO Florida - Enjoyed a conversation with Carol Henry and prayer for God's daughters to be set free.

Video:

Join the #ReclaimingEve conversation on facebook or twitter.

When the women of the New Testament speak

When the women of the New Testament speak, their lives tell a radical, redemptive story. 220px-Tizian_050

Make no mistake, they were:

  • Open to being divorced if they could not bear children. [1]
  • Generally not allowed as official eyewitnesses in court.
  • Jewish women were allowed to worship in the Temple's outer courts only or in a separate section of the Jewish synagogue.
  • Missing—in the ancient Greco-Roman world there were about 100 women for every 140 men. Many were left to die when they were born the wrong sex. [2] 

Though some wealthy women enjoyed a measure of freedom, most were defined by their husband, their father or another male relative. If they were widowed, they were expected to attach to a man for survival's sake.

Until a rabbi named Jesus arrived on the scene, scattering seeds of freedom that would grow up to shatter the chains of patriarchy.

He was nothing if not radical when it came to interacting with women. And he moved among these females with such ease, with no pretension or worry about what others might think. Over and over again, he did the unthinkable, talking to them as his equals.

Because of his actions, their lives speak:

  • Mary Magdalene supported him to the end, then ushered in a new post-Resurrection reality in which women not only speak, they proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Mary of Bethany sat at his feet, just like a good disciple would learn from a rabbi, and Jesus praised her.
  • The Samaritan Woman found his manner shocking, until his offer of living water broke through her defenses, causing her to abandon her water pot in favor of becoming the local evangelist.
  • The Woman with the Issue of Blood approached him as she bled, making him unclean. Instead, he called her "daughter," declared her whole and showed us women are no longer defined by their monthly cycles but by his promise of redemption.
  • Priscilla came after Jesus as a teacher of the word, a church leader, and a winsome companion to her husband Aquila and to Paul the apostle.
  • Lydia came, too, a seeker of Yahweh, and in one day, she and her whole household were baptized. The church at Philippi started in her living room, which for some reason no longer seemed unusual.
  • Then there was Phoebe, serving as a minister in the church of Cenchrae, carrying the book of Romans for Paul,  and quite possibly serving as the first commentator on this important doctrinal book. (Can you imagine?)
  • Finally, there was Junia. Though silenced for years, a look back at Romans 16:7 in the original Greek shows she was a female apostle, joined with her relative Andronicus and distinguished among the other apostles.

Lest there is any doubt at all, the introduction of Jesus Christ—and his life, death and Resurrection—brought a new era of freedom for women. It still does. He carried with him a new kingdom that still shatters the business-as-usual nature of our relationships, making us whole again:

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” -Matthew 20:25-28, NIV

The lives of these New Testament women speak with glorious freedom, wholeness and joy. Are you listening? And what do their life stories say to you?

[1] Jeffers, James S. The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era: Exploring the Background of Early Christianity. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 241.

[2] Ortberg, John. Who Is This Man? The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 46.

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The announcement of new beginnings

Have you ever chronicled the bumps and bruises a year contained? In December, I did something unlikely, something decidedly counter-cultural. I scheduled three individual days of solitude with God at a state park that is mostly unpopulated in the winter.

Although I remembered the hard times in 2013, these times became more about healing, more about celebrating things like this:

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There is life, which is honestly often unpredictable and filled with things one has to manage, and then there is the wilderness, a forest of trees and animal tracks, and it is here that I usually hear God's voice loudest, that my ears are most finely tuned to his voice.

"Wait," he seemed to be saying. "Wait."

And what is advent anyway but waiting expectantly?

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And might I just add: here in the mostly unspoiled outdoors it seems entirely reasonable to wait on God. 

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. -Psalm 130:5, NIV

IMG_2242Spiritually speaking, these little retreats felt like working out the kinks in a knotted neck or a pair of strained shoulders. I felt myself standing taller, I felt myself more deeply believing God's love for me and his love for everyone. I felt myself stilled.

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OK, so I also felt my rear becoming like an ice cube during the snowy hikes, but I'm just keeping it real.

I would head inside the lodge, and I would sit and listen, and I would journal, and I began to be given new eyes to see what was really happening in my life, to glimpse the beautiful things dormant underneath the ground, waiting to sprout.

On the last of my retreat days, I sat on a couch by a Christmas tree, and I was reading about the importance of solitude and how it prepares us for the things God has for us to do, and I thought of this little book, Reclaiming Eve (amazon affiliate link), and how desperately we've worked for four years now to get it out into the world. To say with grace and truth, women matter to God! They are essential to his kingdom mission, and it is high time for brothers and sisters to join together to get on with the business of loving the world and sharing the gospel.

Then I remembered how vulnerable I feel, how afraid I can be to speak this important truth, to offer a prophetic word on behalf of the kingdom. And I felt God impressing an image on me . . . 

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Stand firmly rooted in my truth and my word, in the glimpse I have given you of my Kingdom. Do not waver. But as you wait, standing firm, extend your arms, stretching them out to meet these new opportunities to speak into the gender reconciliation the gospel provides. Sometimes the opportunities will stretch you a bit further than you're comfortable with, they will necessitate growth and risk and sacrificial love. But you can do this, if you remain rooted, abiding in me.

The next day, the fedex man rang the doorbell, and this arrived:

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And may I say that I can't tell God the wait wasn't worth it. But I can say that he calls me Beloved, and that he has provided the opportunity to birth this book with my coauthors, to launch it into the world.

May the new year hold opportunities for you and me that we could only dream about now—opportunities that happen as we remain still, rooted, stretching our arms out toward the things our Abba has for us. 

And may there be days of solitude, carved out purposefully, set aside intentionally, to hear his still, small voice. May there be beauty and praise. And at the end of 2014, may we be able to say with conviction: all is well in this stillness; all is well with my soul.

She Shines: the story of Macrina (a guest post by Rev. Carla Sunberg)

CarlaRev. Carla Sunberg, PhD, is one of the coauthors for the upcoming book Reclaiming Eve (March 2014), a District Superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene, and an enthusiastic student of the Cappadocian Mothers, living examples of the holy life. Find her on twitter @CarlaSun.

She was a beautiful girl, the eldest daughter from a wealthy family, and the whole world lay before her. Of course, there were many suitors, and finally there was the handsome young lawyer who asked for her hand in marriage. The whole family was pleased with the arrangement and the wedding plans were being made when suddenly everything came to a screeching halt. The handsome young man, the love of Macrina’s life, unexpectedly passed away, and now, everything would change. 

Her family comforted her through the time of mourning—but after a proper period of time, they encouraged her to again look for someone to marry. Macrina would have none of it, she felt that God had given her the man that she should love in this lifetime but now she wanted to live her life in total service to God. Could this possibly be the fulfillment of the vision her mother had the night she was born? On that night a stranger had entered the room and told her that this child would be special and she would have a secret name, Thekla, a name that had belonged to a female leader who gave her entire life in service to God.

She declared to her father and brothers that she would live the remainder of her life “alone”—that is, in a relationship with Jesus Christ and in service to him alone. Macrina had been well educated in the Scriptures by her grandmother and mother and went on to become the chief teacher of the younger siblings. Eventually nine children in the family would reach adulthood and this oldest sister would have a profound impact on each and every single one of them.

Not only did she help to form her siblings, she became her mother’s spiritual leader. Soon after the birth of the 10th child their father died and Macrina’s mother was overwhelmed with the administration and management of their large estates. Macrina encouraged her mother to divest of most of their material goods—sell the big house in the city—and move to the family’s country estate and set-up a family monastery.

The family invested their personal fortune in ministry to the poor and needy. Even those who had previously been servants in the household were now considered brothers and sisters. Macrina would personally labor in the kitchen baking bread for her mother and other members of the community, while retaining her daily responsibility as teacher, only now the numbers of those benefitting from her vast knowledge expanded beyond those in the household to the surrounding community.

Macrina’s entire life became one in which she gave up her earthly bridegroom for a heavenly one. What she may have lost in earthly love she gained as she fell more and more desperately in love with Jesus Christ. He became the passion and direction of her life as her behaviors seemed to reflect him more and more. She became engaged in feeding the poor and healing the sick. People traveled for days to visit this holy woman of God and experience God’s presence in the family monastery. With complete and total humility Macrina never allowed anyone to praise her, but only to praise Jesus, the one who’s loved flowed through her.

Her brother describes the very final moments of Macrina’s life. In that moment she becomes a type of living mirror and as she faces her Beloved with her entire surface, all of the beauty of his form is reflected in her.[1] She says wholeheartedly, “I to my beloved, and my beloved to me.” [2] She receives his beauty and the result, according to her brother Gregory, is “true holiness, purity, incorruptibility, light, truth, and all the rest.”[3] In life and in death, Macrina shone with the reflection of the glory of God.To read more about Macrina, visit this site.

[1] Nyssen, CC, Homily15 (PG 44:1093c-1096d) (GNO VI), trans. Musurillo, 282. [2] Song of Songs 6:20 [3] Nyssen, CC, Homily15 (PG 44:1093c-1096d) (GNO VI), trans. Musurillo, 283. Psalm 109:3

Women are not allowed to "___________"

What exactly are women allowed to do? In the church?

In the home?

In the workplace?

In social settings?

These are the tired questions I find myself facing again and again. That's why I wrote about it in our upcoming book Reclaiming Eve. Because I felt it was high time to bring all this "allowing" business out into the open.  

I even wrote about it on Kurt Willems' blog last May when I graduated from seminary, in a blog post titled:  "What will you do after seminary?" "What will you allow me to do?" was the question I began to think about asking others when they asked about my plans. I have gifts to preach, to lead, and to encourage. What will you allow a woman to do? What should she do? Where should I go with these gifts and this degree?

This word of God that I love, the one that ushered me into new life in Christ, healed my hurts, wrecked my soul, and knit it back together again, is used by so many factions and camps to "allow" or "disallow" certain things, specifically when it comes to women.

Sometimes women are allowed to teach or preach from the pulpit. Many times they are not allowed to.

Sometimes women are allowed to take management positions within companies. Sometimes they are strongly encouraged not to.

Sometimes women are allowed to be deacons or elders or church board members. Often times they are not allowed to.

Sometimes women are allowed to manage their households and family using all of their brains and their gifts. Sometimes they are encouraged to ask their husbands for permission before they buy pantyhose or underwear.

"Well, these people have good biblical reasons for all of these things!" you say. "They are trying to be faithful!" And this may very well be true, they may be trying to do their best with what they know and believe.

But beyond all the attempts to try and fit men and women into categories and roles from the 1950s or so, the Bible stands as a book of truth that is ageless, that passes the test of time.

And no matter what position one might say they hold firmly on what women are allowed to do in a specific time and place, I believe the real question each of us must ask ourselves is this:

What does the gospel make possible for women?

Let me spell this out as clear as I know how:

Do you see women primarily as fallen, dangerous creatures? Or do you see women as imagebearers of the living God who have the opportunity to be radically renewed because of the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ?

What does the gospel make possible for women?

Because our New Testament sisters impacted by Jesus experienced a radical before and after, my friends. They went from second-class citizens to being a part of a family where there was no Jew or Greek, no slave or free, no male nor female. The more I read about Jesus and the stories of the women who followed him and came after him, the more I am convinced that his blueprint "the last shall be first" turned things upside down for these women.

As one woman once told me, "Jesus has already set women free." And because I believe this, and because I will defend the power of the gospel and the new kingdom Jesus ushered in, I will tell you my wish. I wish and hope and pray that someday we will stop all arguing about what we will allow women to do and instead we will rise up and say:

What will we empower women to do in light of the gospel?

To do anything less blights the power of the good news Jesus came to bring, I'm afraid. I long to see God's female imagebearers unleashed to build his kingdom alongside their brothers. May it be so!

What do you long to see the Church empower women to do for the sake of the kingdom?

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.