BOOK REVIEW-Emboldened by Rev. Tara Beth Leach

A woman, Mary Magdalene, was the first to proclaim the risen Savior on Easter over 2,000 years ago. So I thought it would be fitting to discuss a book all about women in ministry & pastoral leadership this Easter Sunday, 2018.

The book Emboldened by Rev. Tara Beth Leach is one of my favorite books! She writes in a conversational, very inviting, non-judgmental tone which is so nice to read. She speaks with both love & truth! I would like to note that although it is taking about women in ministry, it is written for both men and women and I would recommend anyone in ministry or considering ministry to read it.

The foreword of Emboldened is written by Scot McKnight and he says a profound statement, “How can young, gifted women know there is a place for them on the platform if they don’t hear stories about women ministering?” Well Rev. Tara Beth does just that. She saw what was missing and wrote this outstanding book.

One thing I love about this book is right at the beginning she brings up how Jesus sees, affirms, & emboldens women. She says, “Jesus boldly affirmed the value & worth of women, & appointed them to be colaborers in the mission.” She emboldens women by reminding them that women are among the priesthood of ALL believers as stated in Galatians 3:28.

All throughout the book you can tell that Pastor Tara Beth finds her confidence in the Lord and that is very encouraging and creates a great perspective.

She talks about how God doesn’t just work within our human made stereotypes, but that God works everywhere! Something that she wrote that really resonated with me and blessed me while reading was this paragraph:

“You see, our femininity is not rooted in ideology or cultural norms but in our humanity, which is firmly rooted in the humanity of Christ. The life, death, resurrection, and ascension of King Jesus informs our identities. We sometimes bear children & sometimes we don’t, but childbearing isn’t our identity; instead, our identities are ordered in the saving and transforming activity of the triune God”

In many church settings, a woman’s worth is centered around being a wife and mom, which are both amazing things, but that excludes so many women and is not a woman’s greatest/only calling. I’m so thankful Pastor Tara Beth stated that in her book!

In chapter 4, she discusses what to do when people don’t affirm you or are opposed to your calling. She has a very positive outlook on this and focuses on not being bitter, which is what many people fall into. “However, the moment I decide to let anger and bitterness deep into the very depths of my being is the moment I lose sight of what I was called to do in the first place” She mentions that there will be people who are against you and that it is good and important to know your theology but that it is also equally importantly trust the Holy Spirit.

Our culture is very self-minded, we are competitive and often hurt others to boost ourselves. However, Rev. Leach has a whole chapter dedicated to women encouraging and emboldening one another-not something we often hear, but something we NEED to hear.

Although I love every chapter, my favorite one is probably chapter 6. It is all about singleness, family, and marriage. She talks about how God uses and emboldens single people whether or not they ever get married in the future, Christ sees value and uses them to further His kingdom. Pastor Leach talks about marriage and especially mutuality and mutual submission. She discusses the mom guilt and difficulties you may face as a mother and a pastor. It was so refreshing! These are things I have worried about and thought a lot about and it encouraged me so much to read. She also has a section in that chapter written to Pastor’s husbands, in which she encourages them, and discusses the difficulties but also amazing things they will see and be a part of. Reading her words to Pastor’s husbands literally brought tears to my eyes!

In our self-focused society, we often forget about the mission of God, but Rev. Tara Beth does not. She reminds us that God’s kingdom is one of inclusivity and acceptance. She has this quote which floored me when I read it,

She didn’t keep on so she could prove to the world that women belonged in the pulpit, but she kept on because the mission of God needed to continue.”

We often get caught up in the craziness of life, but our focus should be on God’s mission.

Pastor Tara Beth has a whole chapter dedicated to men and how they can embolden and come along side women together to better further the kingdom of God. If you are a man in any ministry, please read this book but especially that chapter!

I could go on and on about this book, but I will finish with a final quote from the book Emboldened,

“Now is the time, dear church. Not tomorrow, but now. Now is the time for women to claim their full callings and be freed from gender-based restrictions. Now is the time for women to rise up and use their God-given gifts with boldness. Now is the time for the church to no longer be lopsided, but to move forward in it’s full potential, with men & women serving alongside one another-unhindered. Now is the time to be the church we were meant to be-a sign & wonder.”

Rev. Tara Beth Leach links:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

BUY EMBOLDENED HERE

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Tears, Emotions, & Prayer

All too often we try to shut down our emotions and pretend they don’t exist, especially in church settings. However, I, as a human, am an emotional being created in the image of a God who also has emotions! So why do we keep acting like emotions are taboo?

Over the past year, I have dealt with some pretty hard, sad things. People super close to me have too. I have had many times that I went to pray about it and I literally couldn’t do anything but cry. But here’s the thing, I believe that those tears were prayers too. Those tears, God understood. Even in the Bible, Christ showed emotion! We read in John 11:35 that, “Jesus wept”. Not just shed a tear, but WEPT!

That is why I believe that tears on the altar are one of the purest forms of worship.

Jesus said in Luke 10:27, “…love the Lord your God with all your heart, and will all your soul, and with all your strength and with all your mind…” Our minds control emotion, and our hearts break, so I believe giving our emotions to God is worship and God honoring.

Sometimes our prayers will just consist of tears and hurting, and that’s okay. Sometimes our prayers will be very deep and articulate, and that’s okay. Sometimes our prayers will be awkward and uncomfortable, and that’s okay, because God doesn’t mandate what our prayers look like, and He Himself created us to be diverse and to have emotions.

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”

‭‭[Psalms‬ ‭56:8‬]

The Conversation in the Library

Story time.

This past Monday I was at the local community college where I take some dual credit classes. I was in a group of people talking in the library. One of the men asked me what my major will be when I attend university in the fall. I replied, “Theology & Pastoral Ministry” and proceeded to tell him I was called to be a pastor. I wasn’t sure how he would react because it’s a sensitive topic. He began speaking about how he is trying out different churches and how it seems like there are so many denominations. I agreed. We discussed some of the differences and somehow got onto the topic of Complementarianism vs Egalitarianism (one of my favorite topics to discuss) and we had similar views on this (both egalitarian).

He then asked me a question I wasn’t expecting, “So how do you think racism affects the church?” I gave him my answer which went into how it creates injustice, hurt, and turns people away from the true love of Christ. He proceeded to ask me another question, “How are these people in churches justifying their racist beliefs and actions?!” I could tell he was speaking from experience and wanted to know how I, a white Christian, felt about it. We discussed many things but ultimately our main answer was that people twist scripture to fit their lifestyle, motives, or personal agenda instead of taking Jesus and scripture and letting that shape your actions and lifestyle.

It was a great conversation about gender and racial equality in the church. How it is right and more often, how it goes wrong. I’m writing this to let you know that people deal with racism and gender inequality all the time in church. It hurts & confuses people, and definitely doesn’t draw people close to Jesus. If you have never discussed problems within the church, now is a great time to start asking those tough questions. We NEED to have these conversations more and actually change our actions to combat injustice. We NEED to be showing the love and the actions of Christ in church, and the world around us. Our God is a just God, so maybe we should try to be a just people as well.

-Madison💛

Contentment in Christ

“To love God is to love His will. It is to be content with His timing and wise appointment.” -Elisabeth Elliot

Contentment in Christ begins with one thing: LOVE. When we have a love for God, it makes it so much easier to be content in Him. 

Contentment in Timing/Waiting:

This is the kind of contentment that can be the hardest (especially for teenagers and young adults). When we are waiting for something in life, it’s hard! Patience isn’t something we always have, however, in times of waiting it’s key, and is commanded:

“But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)”‭‭ Romans‬ ‭8:25‬ ‭
“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”‭‭  Psalms‬ ‭27:14‬ ‭
There’s nothing wrong be looking forward to something or the next phase of your life, but don’t let it consume you and make you discontent. Some things to remember in times of waiting or waiting on God’s (perfect) timing:

 1. God is in control!

 2. He has a plan!

 3. Rushing God’s plan/timing doesn’t help anything.

 4. There’s a purpose in waiting.
Check out this quote from C.S. Lewis:


Being content with God’s timing isn’t always easy, but be encouraged by this verse: 

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:31‬ 

Contentment When God Says, “No”

God always answers our prayers…however He doesn’t always answer the way we want Him to. There are times in life when God will say no to us. But we shouldn’t be discouraged or discontent because God’s “no” is not a rejection, it’s a redirection! We don’t usually understand why God says no to us however, “When God gives you a ‘No’, give Him a ‘thank you’. He was protecting you from less than His best.” That is a hard, but true statement. We have to realize that we are human, we don’t have the knowledge and wisdom God has. We must accept and be content with the fact that God knows more than us. 

Contentment During Trials:

This is the most difficult kind of contentment for me personally. When I’m going through stuff, I want to be content with God, but it’s hard. I get mad, but in the end I still want to please and honor God with my life. According to Bethany Baird, “A desire to please God says, ‘God, I will choose to serve you and praise you whether or not my circumstances ever change.'” That is a really really difficult thing to say and mean. What if your tough situation never changes? Could you truly be content with that? This is where prayer and a desire for the Lord is important. Philippians 4:11 says, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”

‭Paul is not saying that you have to LIKE the situation you are in. What he is saying is that we should be content with where God has put us and serve Him to the best of our ability in that situation.
Contentment is a daily struggle, one which can’t be done without a relationship with God. I encourage you to get into the word of God and find stories and verses that help you during times of discontentment. 
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭6:6‬ ‭

Be Still

Hey Everyone! Sorry it’s been a while since my last post. I have been finishing up school and things have been crazy. Since things have been so hectic in my life recently I had to really be intentional with my time and being intentional about spending time reading the Bible and with God. The Bible uses the phrase “Be Still” many times throughout scripture. Here are a few verses:

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” -Psalms‬ ‭46:10‬ ‭

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!”‭‭ -Psalms‬ ‭37:7‬ ‭

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” -Exodus‬ ‭14:14‬ 

Many people think the phrase “Be Still” means to just sit back and not do anything and let God do it all. That’s not necessarily true. The phrase “Be Still” is a reminder to take time to just be in God’s presence and worship Him. In Psalm 46:10 mentioned above, it says “Be still, and know that I am God.” So often (especially if you’ve grown up in church) we lose our wonder and awe of God. It’s a normal thing that we have accepted since infants. But we shouldn’t just be going through the motions of Christianity. I challenge you to really take time and BE STILL. Think about how marvelous, amazing, and awe inspiring the Lord is. He created the universe! He created you! He saved the world through Jesus! Don’t let the craziness of your life distract you from residing in Christ and being in awe of His wonder. Be still, and KNOW that He is God

Encouragement 

We so often underestimate how a simple phrase or sentence can impact someone’s day or even life. Most people are so hard on themselves and have so many difficult things going on in their lives; and by saying something encouraging you might be the person helping them through it. This happened COUNTLESS time with me when I was dealing with chronic pain and depression. One person would say something that gave me the strength to get through the day. It was a miracle and life saving. Recently I was texting with a youth pastor on my church district. I was talking to him about my call to youth ministry and he sent a message saying, “Oh Madison, you are going to be amazing!” And that right there impacted me so much and gave me so much confidence, excitement, and joy for the future. It was just a simple text but it made such an impact. Don’t think your words won’t have an effect. Say encouraging things to people, even if it’s not the most comfortable thing for you. Because trust me, it makes all the difference. We need more positivity and love in this world. It can start with you and a simple word of encouragement. 
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
‭‭{1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:11‬}

The Kindness Project: Introduction

imageHey Guys! I’m going to be starting a new series on my blog that will becoming out once a week. It’s called “The Kindness Project“.

I’ve noticed a lot in our culture and especially my generation that kindness isn’t really a popular thing and most people have an attitude of sarcasm and annoyance instead. This includes me! I’ve been inspired and convicted by seeing several of my friends and how kind and genuine they are. It had made me realize how much our world needs people to go out of their way to show kindness.

So what’s “The Kindness Project” anyway? Every Sunday I will be posting a blog post with a kindness challenge for that week. Some will be super simple and some might make you go out of your normal routine a little more. In addition to the weekly challenge, I will also have a weekly quote about kindness to inspire and encourage y’all. I hope that you will remember it throughout the week as we try and live out kindness.

Let’s make kindness trending again, you never know whose world you might change.

I hope you join me each week in doing these challenges and striving to be kind. I truly think it will make an impact on the people around us. -Madison💕

 

The Kindness Project: Week Two

Hey Guys! If you missed the introduction post to this series click HERE. Today is actually National Kindness Day here in the US so it’s very fitting that today’s post falls on it. First of all, this week here in America, something big happened. We elected a new president. Now, as I’m sure you are very aware, there has been an extreme amount of hate that has come out of this election from both sides. It really saddens my heart to see this so this week let’s combat this hate with kindness. 

Weekly Kindness Challenge:

•do a chore or responsibility of someone else’s at least twice this week. This could be in relation to a sibling, parent, spouse, coworker… Go out of your way to serve someone else and do something that they normally have to do in an effort to make their life easier. I would like to stress that you don’t point it out to them that you did this or make it a big deal. Have humility and do it to serve, not to receive glory😄

Weekly Kindness Quote: 

” I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear” -Martin Luther King Jr

I hope this encourages you and helps you think about your reaction to things during this confusing time in America. “Let’s make kindness trending again”


-Madison💛

The Kindness Project: Week One

Hey guys! I’m so excited to finally be starting “The Kindness Project” this week! If you missed the introductory post to this and want to know more about what the kindness project is, click HERE

This week’s challenge is something super simple but can impact someone’s day and week in a way you don’t realize. In fact, you don’t even have to leave your house for it. 

Weekly Kindess Challenge: 

Send at least 2 or 3 different people an encouraging and/or heartfelt text about how you love or appreciate them. I would suggest doing this to people you normally wouldn’t do it to. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Really put time and thought into what you are going to say. And of course, if you want to send it to more people or even try doing it once a day, that’s awesome! Take the challenge and choose how it would work best for you😄 

Weekly Kindess Quote:

“Kindness is a language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” -Mark Twain

I hope this encourages you and helps you through this week in our endeavor to “make kindess trending again”

  
-Madison💕 

Dating, Courting, and Marriage


Dating, Courting, and marriage are all intimidating topics everyone has to face at some point in their life. There is much controversy (especially in the homeschooling community) about whether dating or courting is the “correct” method for pursuing a relationship. There are also many questions on how to go about relationships and marriage.
    When it comes to pursuing a relationship, I think a person should first think about their motives. If a person is wanting a relationship to fill an absence in their life, to get temporary pleasure, or just to “see if it works”, then that person has the wrong motives. Some motives and goals to strive for are to be committed, grow closer to God, and to give/serve. You see, whether you call it “Dating” or “Courting” doesn’t honestly matter. The label doesn’t define the outcome. The motives and intentions behind the relationship, the commitment to each other and to God, and the effort put into the relationship is what defines the outcome.
      I believe it is very important to have values and convictions, and not just to have them, but to stand by them as well. “If you don’t stick to your values when they’re being tested, they’re not values: they’re hobbies.” Because of this, who you choose to have a relationship with is extremely important. If you are in a relationship you will either marry that person or breakup with them. Therefore, to spare heartbreak. It is good to have standards before you ever begin entering relationships. One way to “test” whether or not a person is a good candidate for a relationship or marriage is by inserting his or her name in place of the word “love” in 1 Corinthians 3:4-6. For example: “Alex is patient and kind; Alex does not envy or boast; Alex is not arrogant or rude. Alex does not insist on his own way; Alex is not irritable or resentful; Alex does not rejoice in evil but rejoices in the truth.” If “Alex” and his or her life doesn’t coincide with those statements, then “Alex” isn’t someone to enter a relationship with. (Also, try replacing the word “love” with YOUR name and see how true it is.)  Some other qualities to look for are: Good with children, loves God more more than you, a leader, genuine, hard working, respectful, shows love, kindness, and purity. Although these are important, making sure you have the qualities you want in a spouse is equally, if not more important. “Attract what you expect, reflect what you desire, become what you respect, mirror what you admire.
    So what do you do from there? If a person seems like a good potential partner and both people express a mutual attraction, what happens next? Personally, I believe that the man should ask the parent’s permission to pursue and relationship with their daughter. This not only shows respect for their opinions and their daughter, but in turn they will respect the guy as well.
When it comes to the actual relationship, both them man and the woman should sit down and discuss their values, standards, and goals in life. Just to make sure they are both on the same page. “You can’t walk together if you are going different directions.”
Not everyone is going to get married, some are going to stay single. However, although Christians need to stop idolizing marriage, as Christians we also need to stop idolizing “Singleness”. Serve God the best you can while single; and when you are in a relationship that causes you both to serve God better together, then that’s how you know they are the right person for you.
     It seems like in our culture there are more people divorced or living together before marriage than people actually married. However, this is not what God intended. People have the mindset of “We’ll see and if it doesn’t work out, then we will break up.” Having this mindset is practicing for divorce. Working together to figure things out and putting effort into a relationship is what will help it grow. Marriage is a covenant between a husband, a wife, and God. God says in the Bible that women are to be submissive to their husbands. However, people have twisted and confused this statement. Being submissive doesn’t mean allowing abuse or the wife doing whatever the husband says. It means trusting and listening to each other. Right after the scripture which says for the wife to be submissive, it tells husbands to love their wives. If you love someone, you don’t use them or try to be more powerful. Submission goes both ways. Both husband and wife are equal. No one is higher than each other. One of my favorite phrases is “Men and women are equally valuable, and purposefully different.” Not only does this apply to women and men in general, it also applies to marriage. Both husband and wife are equal in value and worth; no one is above or below the other. However, they were created for different purposes and “jobs”. Ezra Benson said, “Marriage itself must be regarded as a sacred covenant before God. A married couple have an obligation not only to each other, but to God.”
    Although relationships, dating/courting, and marriage are all very important, pursuing God, striving to do His will, and serving Him should be our ultimate goal in life. Elisabeth Elliot once declared, “I have one desire now: to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy and strength in to it.