Posts Tagged ‘women’

Iris knows a beautiful African woman who is very fertile. She kept getting pregnant and having abortions.  After several abortions, she had an exquisitely beautiful and vivid dream.

In her dream, she was carrying a huge basket in front of her belly with the strap of it around her neck.  She was standing under a giant spreading tree laden with all kinds of fruits. She reached up and plucked various fruits, which she bit into and tasted and then threw them away.  She did this several times, and none of the fruit was gathered into the basket. Then she woke up and she could feel the Spirit of God all around her.

She telephoned Iris and said, “You don’t even have to tell me what God was saying to me.  But this is the first time I really understood that God loves me.”  She cannot forget about the dream in which God sweetly corrected her.

(“The Iris Diaries” is a series of true stories written in surrealist style.)

~♥~

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I came across these lovely quotes while reading Twice-Told Tales today, and they really spoke to me:

 The mother’s character, on the other hand, had a strain of poetry in it, a trait of unworldly beauty- a delicate and dewy flower, as it were, that had survived out of her imaginative youth, and still kept itself alive amid the dusty realities of matrimony and motherhood.

…for all through her life she had kept her heart full of childlike simplicity and faith, which was as pure and clear as crystal; and, looking at all matters through this transparent medium, she sometimes saw truths so profound, that other people laughed at them as nonsense and absurdity.

From “The Snow-Image”

English: Twice-Told Tales by Hawthorne. Printe...

(For more of Olive’s favorites, click on the “QUOTES” page or category- look above or in the sidebar)

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Ahem…hey, all y,all fair and tender ladies.  Ah’ve got this friend and she’s having a few troubles, and she ast me to post this here note.  She says she’s goin’ through a phase common to women-folk and she needs to know a few things about what’s going on and what to ‘spect and how long and what to do about this here mess. In recent days, she’s as nervous and wretched as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockin’ chairs. So I know y,all sweet ladies know what ah mean an what ah need to know, so go for it.  But keep it down… Okay?  My friend needs some hep quick!

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Nomination for HUG (Hope Unites Globally) Award

I woke up to discover this nomination from Sandi at http://flamidwyfe.wordpress.com/.  I am so grateful for this honor from such an amazing inspirational woman who works as a midwife in the Far East.

I read about this award today at: http://ahopefortoday.com/2012/01/14/hope-unites-globally-hug-award-guidelines/ .

Interestingly, before I saw this nomination, I was preparing to post a piece, which I have decided to include today.  I want to state that I am not a writer who strives to be politically correct, or flow with the current trends in society.  I simply state what I think and feel.  I am still on my own spiritual journey, and I think we should walk this path together truthfully and compassionately.

~♥~

LOCKING THE KINGDOM GATES

“Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”  ~Luke 11:52

For some reason, Christians today seem to have forgotten that Jesus wants everybody to come into His Kingdom, no matter what their life has been, no matter who they are. He doesn’t want His followers standing in the doorway of hope and blocking it for people who want to come in.  He offered Himself for all, not just a few.

He opens His arms to the atheists, the free thinkers, people of other cultures and faiths, feminists, gays, lesbians- Jesus wants every one of them to come to Him for redemption and hope. But we Americans have turned Christianity into an exclusive club for nationalists, bigots, and rich leaders who are robbing the poor and preaching that the sacred things are for sale.

I am confused by believers who run around stabbing people with the knives of their opinions and judgments, instead of embracing people with the compassion and healing of Christ. The church needs to repent of its cold heart toward people who would like a chance to know Jesus. I read these words by Martin Luther King recently, and couldn’t help but notice correlations with what is taking place today:

I must make it very clear in the beginning that I’m against discrimination and segregation whether it’s toward a Negro, or Mexican or a Jew or Catholic or wherever it is. I think injustice toward any people is a threat to justice for all people. I’m against discrimination.

The first way that the church can repent, the first way that it can move out into the arena of social reform is to remove the yoke of segregation from its own body. Now, I’m not saying that society must sit down and wait on a spiritual and moribund church as we’ve so often seen. I think it should have started in the church, but since it didn’t start in the church, our society needed to move on.

The church, itself, will stand under the judgment of God. Now that the mistake of the past has been made, I think that the opportunity of the future is to really go out and to transform American society, and where else is there a better place than in the institution that should serve as the moral guardian of the community. The institution that should preach brotherhood and make it a reality within its own body

I can’t help but wonder how we have strayed so far from the Gospel message of Christ, the Incarnate God who humbled Himself to dwell among adulteresses, whores, winos, and a variety of sinners (I was all of these).  He forgave them and set them free from their past, and now we are doing the opposite.  When will we ever learn?

~♥~

“Never look down on anyone. You do not know whether the Spirit of God prefers to dwell in you or in them.”

~Sayings of the Egyptian Fathers


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“And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.” (Luke 8:1-3)

Of all of the women in the New Testament, I most identify with Mary Magdalene, the woman who was about to be stoned for committing adultery.  Most of you already know the story of how Jesus rebuked a group of men with stones in their hands and said that whoever was without sin should cast the first one, and they all walked away.

Jesus was not only defending the woman, but acknowledging that a woman cannot commit adultery by herself.  “Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.” After everyone had left, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you? She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”[1]

After saving her, one might have expected Him to say, “Now go and get married and be a dutiful wife from now on.”  But He released her in that moment, and she henceforth became a witness and a disciple in her own right.

After this, the Pharisees came arguing with Christ that He did not have authority to do the things He was doing.  He answered them saying, “You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.”[2]  He said that He had the authority to judge, but chose not to exercise it.  If Jesus did not hasten to condemn, then why must Christians be so judgmental?

He told the religious leaders “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.  If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed…”[3]

After she was liberated by Christ, Mary traveled everywhere that Jesus went and offered financial support for His ministry.  She was a very important figure who witnessed His earthly ministry, crucifixion, and burial.  She was the first person to see the resurrected Christ.

Consider the story of the woman at the well.  She was a Samaritan, and Jesus was a Jew, and by law they were not supposed to interact at all.  But Christ chose to interact with her when He humbly asked her for a drink of water.  At one point Jesus asked her to call for her husband.  She said, “I have no husband” and He replied “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”[4]

Again, if one of the religious leaders had been there, he would have ordered her to get married or fulfill her expected role in society.  But Christ did not do this, and she also became a disciple.  She could not wait to tell everyone she knew that she had met the Messiah.  “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’”[5]

Mary the sister of Lazarus was another great woman of God, who loved to listen to Jesus teach.  When Martha tried to get Jesus to make Mary work with her in the kitchen instead of spending time with Him, He rebuked Martha saying “Mary has chosen the better part, and that will not be taken from her.”  He clearly allowed Mary to fulfill her own heart’s desires, and this Mary also became a powerful disciple.

On one occasion, at a feast in the home of a wealthy man named Simon, Mary came in and washed Jesus feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, and poured expensive perfume on his feet.  The men in the room were appalled and made mockery of her, and whispered among themselves that Christ did not know what kind of woman she was.  He knew their thoughts and harshly rebuked them.  He said that the woman would always be remembered for this act of affection that she bestowed on Him, and told Simon that he could learn a lot from her behavior about how to treat the Lord. Christ had a pattern of showing love and dignity to women, and He could not endure to see them mistreated by anyone.

In the eighth chapter of Luke, Joanna and Susanna are mentioned as women who take care of Christ’s needs “out of their substance.” A friend of mine and I had once discussed the fact that Christ had no house, chariot, money, job, or any comforts that most people enjoy, and we had wondered how His clothes were cleaned and things such as that.  Then we found our answer in this passage with the women who cared for Jesus.

Imagine the bravery of Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward, to be helping Jesus after the male babies had been slaughtered and John the Baptist had been beheaded by this same king!  In many ways, she showed more courage than the twelve disciples did. But she considered it a privilege and a joy to take care of the Lord.  Women were always coming forward to take care of things that the men were unwilling to attend to.

When the rich young ruler came and tried to argue with Christ about the law, I don’t read that he offered to contribute money to help with the ministries of Jesus and the disciples.  There are other men who said that they wanted to follow Christ, but after He told them that He was homeless, they lost interest in following Him.

But the women were always there.

After Christ was crucified, the scriptures say that the women were still lingering around the tomb weeping for Jesus when the men had given up and were complaining that Christ had not saved them from the Romans. In John 20 and 21, the disciples didn’t even recognize Christ after He appeared to them several times, and they all went out fishing.

In the early church after the resurrection of Christ, women continued to play an important role in furthering the gospel.  The apostle Paul mentions Priscilla and Aquila in his epistles, and scholars say that he mentions Priscilla first because she was recognized as being more gifted in the ministry than her husband.  Lydia the purveyor of purple cloth helped support the work of the apostles, and Dorcas was so important in one community that Paul raised her from the dead.

Kathleen Norris writes in her book The Cloister Walks that theologians have never forgiven Christ for coming through the body of a woman.  She states in her chapter about virgin martyrs that the men could not bear to kill holy women without raping them first, because they thought of them only as devices for the pleasure of men.

Today we still see this attitude within the context of Christianity, that a married woman is expected first to serve her husband and then God.  Women are considered second-rate citizen in the Kingdom of God by many denominations, and leaders take scriptures out of context to support this errant view.  As a result, women in some churches are not permitted to speak or to lead, because it is believed that their only suitable roles are child care and baking cookies.

This subject was addressed in an article entitled “The Head of the Epistles,” which appeared in Christianity Today in 1981. The writers explain that the “head” was a metaphor for the enabler of the body, not the ruler:

Paul’s word order also shows he was not thinking of chain of command: Christ, head of man; man, head of woman; God, head of Christ.  Those who make it a chain of command must rearrange Paul’s words.  In fact, Paul seems to go out of his way to show that he was not imputing authority to males when he said, “For as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman.  And all things are from God. (1 Cor 11:12)

     …As Christ is the enabler (the one who brings to completion) of the church, so the husband is to enable (bring to completion) all that his wife is meant to be.  The husband is to nourish and cherish his wife as he does his own body, even as Christ nourishes and cherishes the church. (vs.29)

It is very clear to me from reading scripture and particularly the “Parable of the Talents” that we are expected to use all of our gifts to promote the Kingdom agenda. No one should be hindered in doing their best work for Christ.

OLIVE TWIST ©2012


 http://www.godswordtowomen.org/head.htm

The Head of the Epistles was written by Berkeley and Alvera Mickelsen, professors at Bethel Theological Seminary in St. Paul, MN.  It originally appeared as an article in Christianity Today, Feb. 20, 1981.

Scripture Passages:

[1] John 8:10-11, ESV

[2] John 8:15, ESV

[3] John 8:32-36, ESV

[4] John 4:17-18, NKJV

[5] John 4:39

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An old friend sent me this poem in the wee hours of the morning, saying it was on a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap and she thought of me. Good ol’ Dr. Bronner!

I almost cried when I read it along with a brief  history of the author.  It really “speaketh to my condition” as the Quakers used to say.

On the last line, I wanted to see some words about invincible women too, but I’ll deal with it somehow…

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‘if’ by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master,
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

(Well, I must concede that “you’ll be a woman, my daughter” wouldn’t rhyme or sound quite as good…)

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Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

“Rudyard Kipling’s inspirational poem ‘If’ first appeared in his collection ‘Rewards and Fairies’ in 1909. The poem ‘If’ is inspirational, motivational, and a set of rules for ‘grown-up’ living. Kipling’s ‘If’ contains mottos and maxims for life, and the poem is also a blueprint for personal integrity, behavior and self-development. ‘If’ is perhaps even more relevant today than when Kipling wrote it, as an ethos and a personal philosophy…

“The beauty and elegance of ‘If’ contrasts starkly with Rudyard Kipling’s largely tragic and unhappy life. He was starved of love and attention and sent away by his parents; beaten and abused by his foster mother; and a failure at a public school which sought to develop qualities that were completely alien to Kipling…”

Thanks again, Dr. Bronner!

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(From “The Twisted Cross:  Distortion of the Gospel”)

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“…I was wounded in the house of my friends.” (Zechariah 13:6)

I will never forget when I first realized that religion had become a highly profitable business.  I had been attending a large evangelical Friends church for a long time, and I had grown very close to many people there.  I loved my church.  I loved the leaders and the teaching and I started outreach ministries in the name of the church.  I put my money in their offerings, and dedicated my children in that church.  I went to prayer meetings and every service I could possibly go to. I was immensely smug about myself and my church.

But after Juan Carlos Ortiz spoke at our yearly conferences, the “scales fell off of my eyes,” and I saw things in a new way. I stood up in the sanctuary the following Sunday, and announced to my dear friends, “I just want to let you know that I am not the same person that I was one week ago.  I am a changed person.  I have claimed my identity as a servant of Jesus Christ, and I will never be the same.”

That is when my spiritual battlefield opened up before me, and I first saw my enemy.  What frightened me was that he was operating through my church.

Soon after my public statement, I was sitting in the sanctuary of my church and the executive minister said that they were starting a new program called “Kingdom Seeds”.  In those days, these phrases about seeds had not been coined like they are now.  Our pastor began to explain that the ushers were going to pass out dollar bills which were the “seeds” in special envelopes.  He said that the general idea was that people were to take the money and “plant it” and “make it grow”.  Then in a few months, after it had grown, they would bring it back for a special offering at “harvest time”.

I had promised God that I was going to be obedient to Him in whatever He led me to do.  Anger began to rise in my heart, and a voice broke into my thoughts, saying, “They have turned my house into a den of thieves.”  I knew I was supposed to speak up, but I began to argue with the Spirit inside of my mind, saying, “Why me?  They won’t listen to me.”  The Voice answered, “You said you were my obedient child.”  This hit me hard, because I had two young children at the time.  One of them was more obedient than the other.  When I needed something done in a hurry, I knew not to ask the disobedient one.  In a situation that required quick action, I knew to call upon the obedient child.

A few minutes later, the minister announced that it was time for “open worship.”  I rose to my feet and said, “Friends, we need to face the fact that we are tithing to ourselves in this church.  We are not tithing to God, but to man.  At least ninety percent of the money in our offerings stays within this church building to pay salaries, clean carpets, do building repairs, and such.  Very little is used for missions and outreach.  The gospel is being used as a cloak for covetousness, which Paul warned about.  Paul also wrote, ‘We are not like many, peddling the Word of God.’ People were selling the gospel then, and they are still doing it today. If Jesus came in right now He would come with His whip, because the moneychangers are still in the house of God.”  I was in the back row when I stood to speak, and people were turning around in astonishment, some with anger in their eyes.

When I sat down, it fell silent for a few endless moments.  Then our lady minister stepped to the microphone and turned to the executive minister and asked, “Do we still want to proceed with this?”  He nodded firmly, and the lady minister prayed and the ushers came forward with their hands full of envelopes.  The piano and organ began to play softly, as the ushers carried handfuls of envelopes to the end of each row, and everyone seemed uneasy.  The people in the congregation began shaking their heads or sweeping their hands at the ushers to refuse the money.

When the lead pastor saw it, he went to the microphone and asked the ushers to pass the whole stack of envelopes down each row.  I watched in surprise as the people passed the whole stack from one end of each row to the other, and no one wanted to take them.  It was an act of civil disobedience which startled me.  I never dreamed that these people would listen and act. I thanked God, but I knew I was in trouble.

A little later in the church service, the offering plate was passed around, and can you guess what happened next?  People were not putting money in the offering either.  Then I knew I was deeply in trouble.

After the service was over, many people approached me and thanked me for being the “voice of prophecy” in the midst, for telling the truth when no one else dared to.  I knew that God had used me that day, but I knew that it was not over.

The next morning, I got a phone call from the executive minister.  He said that we needed to talk, and that he wanted to arrange a time.  We planned his visit later in the week.

During that week, I began to receive thank-you cards from people in the congregation.   To my surprise, one of them was from the chairman of the financial committee.  Two missionary friends of mine asked if they could come to our house when the minister visited, because they wanted to provide moral support.

Then came the meeting with my husband and two missionaries present, and the minister asked me how I could do such a thing without clearing it with someone first, such as the elders.

I explained, “The Spirit asked me to speak, and I could not wait and get permission.  I had to be obedient.” He asked, “How do you know how this affected people?”  I answered that I had been receiving notes from people in the congregation, and I walked to my desk and pulled them out.  I will never forget the look of dismay on his face as he looked at the notes, particularly the one from the financial committee chair.

Then my missionary friend Susan spoke up and asked, “Why can’t Olive tell the truth?  Is it because she is a woman or because she doesn’t have a PhD?  Other people have said similar things in jest, and nothing was said.  Why can’t Olive say these things?”  The minister said that he just felt that I should have asked him first.

Then he quizzed me about whether I tithed regularly.  I explained that we spent much more than ten percent between our outreach ministry in the community and the offering plate.  I expressed surprise that he should even ask this question, since he was more than aware of the costs of the ministries that we did in the name of the church with no donations from anyone.  It was evident he was simply trying to undermine me.

After that, he told me that I needed to respect the authorities in the church, or find another church to attend.  I asked him, “Who is the head of the church, you or Jesus?”  He became very quiet, and said that he had a lot to do that day and needed to go.  We all said our farewells and the minister left first.

After that, I continued to attend the church, and watched the wheels of greed and corruption in motion.  I saw the programs and newsletters pleading for people to give money to the church.  I saw an abrupt change in the character of certain people that I had respected.  One woman approached me at church and told me ever so nicely that if I didn’t calm down, I might “go over the deep end”.  I told her it was much more satisfying than the shallow end and walked away.

The whole landscape shifted from spiritual to political, and I suddenly felt that this church was not the place that I thought it was. I felt a sense of resistance from the leaders towards the purposes and agenda of God.

There was good deal of financial trouble in that church for several months, because people were questioning things for the first time.  I kept getting calls from the child care department that they needed help on Sunday mornings so I helped with the children many times. I knew that the minister did not want me in the services until he could repair the financial damage.  I felt disillusioned, and betrayed by this man that I looked up to and trusted, and it hurt me a great deal.

But my faith grew because of this experience.  I learned to trust Jesus more, and man less.  I saw that all people have flaws, but Jesus doesn’t.  It ended the idolatry that had been going on in my heart.  It revealed to me that many people are idolizing religious leaders instead of looking to Jesus.  Because of my obedience and the ostracism I encountered, I grew closer to Christ and shared in His suffering, and that gave me great joy.

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me…”  (Exodus 20:3)

OLIVE TWIST ©2012

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