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💛

Purity Rings & Purity Culture

The tradition of purity rings began in the ‘90s in the height of what is now known as “Purity Culture” within the church. They were given to young, teenage girls as a way to symbolize their commitment to save sex for their husband in marriage. Now, I believe purity culture had good intentions, yet executed many things wrong. I have several issues with purity culture and will have links at the end of this post for further reading. I am in no way saying that if you choose to wear a purity ring that you are a bad person or have bad intentions, so I hope that is not the message that comes across. I want to share the reasons I personally decided to stop wearing my purity ring and why we should take a closer look at the motives behind them and how we approach the topic of purity in the church.

First off, if you look at why girls choose to wear purity rings it is to save their virginity for marriage. Now, there is nothing wrong with making a commitment to do that, however, it promotes the idea that a person’s virginity equals their purity, which is NOT true. There are many people who are not virgins who are “pure”, and many people who are virgins who are not. God’s goal for purity is not virginity. If it was, then victims of rape and sexual assault would not be pure (and they 100% are!) There are people who have chosen by their own free will to have sex and sexual intimacy before marriage and have since repented and been forgiven by God. They are pure.

When do girls wear purity rings? They wear them before they are married. Now I have an issue with this because it implies (often unintentionally) that once you are married, you are no longer considered pure. This feeds into the lie that sex is dirty. I wish more Christians would be proactive in teaching young women that sex is not dirty and their sexuality is nothing to be ashamed of. Of course, sex can be manipulated for evil or used in an ungodly manner, however, within marriage, sex is good and God created it to be enjoyed. Purity is a part of marriage just as much as it is before marriage.

Wearing a purity ring that symbolizes refraining from sex/sexual intimacy before marriage can often make purity more about action instead of the heart and mind. Purity isn’t about the act of having sex.  It is a heart issue. What are your motives? It’s a mind issue. What thoughts are you entertaining?  It involves EVERY aspect of your life. We need to stop thinking of it as “sexual purity” and just as “purity”. I’ve known people who were taught that having a crush was a sin, and that having any sort of sexual desire was lust. Please hear me out, having a sexual desire is completely normal and was created in us by God. There is a big difference between that and lusting. As teenage girl, I plead to all the moms, youth leaders, pastors, and all those it might concern, to change how you present the idea of purity to the young women in your life. The church is known for shaming women and making sex into something that should be feared and that can cause serious issues later on in life including in future marriages.

I would also like to point out that for the most part, purity rings are only given to and worn by girls. Purity culture has put too much of an emphasis on women’s purity and hardly any on men’s. This is not only sexist, it can cause issues as well. When churches teach “purity” they all too often put more pressure on women to “not cause young men to stumble” and this puts the responsibility of the young men and their “purity” all on the girls. (click HERE for a great post to read on this topic) This causes fear and shame on young girls. Calling a girl, a “stumbling block” is dehumanizing and shame-ridden. (click HERE for an excellent video on this topic).

After saying all of this, I am not saying you can’t or shouldn’t wear a purity ring. These are just some personal issues I have with wearing one and why I think everyone who does wear one should examine their motives and reasons behind wearing one. If your motives are God honoring and the message you share with people about it is not one of shame and instead one of the amazing grace of Jesus, then by all means, wear a purity ring. If you are interested in reading more about “Purity Culture” here are some resources and links for you to check out:

https://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2017/05/teaching-purity-wrong/

https://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2016/05/purity-culture-waking/

https://www.cbeinternational.org/blogs/7-lies-purity-culture-teaches-women

http://phyliciadelta.com/why-christian-girls-are-done-with-courtship-culture/

http://thefederalist.com/2017/07/12/purity-culture-isnt-wrong-loving-chastity-using-weapon/

http://phyliciadelta.com/virginity-is-not-gods-goal/

https://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2017/06/purity-culture-lies-about-sex/

https://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2016/01/purity-culture-10-things-that-scare-me/

Why i

 

The Lie Christians Should Stop Saying

Unfortunately there are many things we, as Christians, say that aren’t true. “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Is one of the biggest lies I’ve ever heard told in church and Christian communities. It is not a statement ever found in the Bible or backed up by biblical truth. I think we say this as a way of lying to ourselves because we are afraid of trials and tribulation. Which WILL happen. That is in fact biblical and told to us many times. In fact, I personally believe that God will and does give us more than we can handle. Not because He hates us or is punishing us, but because it forces us to depend on and trust in God during these situations. It refocuses our mind back onto our Almighty God and makes us realize we CAN’T do things alone. We need God. When we go through these trials that are more than we can handle, God is going to be there with us the entire way if we seek Him and ask for help.

“My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge.” {Psalm 62:7}

Letter to Christians about Prayer

Dear Christians,

We so easily say one thing and do another. This is hypocritical and wrong. One of the main ways we do this to each other is by saying the phrase, “I’ll pray for you.” Now, I understand many people do follow through with that, but a drastic amount of people don’t. If someone is going through a hard time or they ask you to pray for them, PRAY FOR THEM! Don’t just use empty words, use the power of Jesus Christ in prayer. One of the best ways to implement this in your life is when someone asks you to pray for them, stop and pray for them right then and there. Yes, it might be uncomfortable if you aren’t used to that situation but it will be worth it & they will feel loved. Christians, the power of prayer is beyond our comprehension, DON’T take it for granted. If you aren’t going to actually pray for someone, then don’t bother wasting your breath to tell them that you are. Be sincere and actually pray if you tell them you will. This is something that’s been bothering me so much recently and something I used to do a lot. I think it’s important that we, as followers of Christ, actually follow Christ’s example and pray for people. 

-Madison Mullins 

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 ‭

WORSHIP🙏💛

“For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”‭‭John‬ ‭4:24

We hear the word “worship” a lot. And as Christians, we are expected to do it. But what is it? What is worship? Most people tend to think of music and singing when the word worship is mentioned. Music and singing are great, but that’s not all there is to worship.
I love the way Mike Bickle says that worship is a lifestyle. If I had to put worship in a quote I would say,

“Worship is the way you live your life with the intent to honor God.”

Check out this song about worship. It truly hits home and has an amazing message: “Clear the Stage” by Jimmy Needham

Worship takes sacrifice! In 2 Samuel 24:10-25, David was building an altar to God. David was the KING! He didn’t have to go and buy the threshing boards for the altar, but he chose to because David REFUSED to sacrifice unless it COST him something! We should have the mindset of David.

Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your God and serve only him.’” {Luke‬ ‭4:8‬}  Notice this verse links WORSHIP and SERVICE together. A big part of worship is to be serving others to serve Christ.

Finally, I would like to share some practical tips and advice for worship:

-Don’t absentmindedly worship. Have intent and do it WHOLEHEARTEDLY.

-When worshiping through music and singing, pay attention to the words you sing. Listen to understand.

LOOK for ways to be apart of worship. Be active in seeking God.

PRAY!!! Pray for understanding, thank God, and Pray and ask for the right mindset to worship.
-Madison🌻

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

There is No Greater Call

There is no greater call than giving you my all” 

This was a line in a song I recently sang at Extravaganza at Southern Nazarene University. During worship one evening, “Have It All” by Bethel Music (Brian Johnson) played and I had never heard it before. I was singing along, enjoying the song then that line was sung. Man it hit me hard. 
Think about it, what calling could be greater than serving the everlasting God?! What could be more fulfilling than giving Jesus Christ your life? We often don’t think about how amazing God is and the privilege it is to glorify Him.

 “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better.”‭‭ {Philippians‬ ‭1:21-22‬}

In this verse, Paul is saying that if he lives it will be worth it only to serve and work for Christ. 

But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being.” {Galatians‬ ‭1:15-16‬}

Paul is saying that God called him and it PLEASED him. We should be pleased when God calls us to serve him. I’m not saying it will be easy, but we should be pleased and willing. 

But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” {Acts 20:24‬}

Luke says that his life is worth NOTHING if it’s not used for serving Christ. 

Guys! Surrendering it all the Christ is the greatest call ever imaginable! Don’t take that lightly! Look at this quote from Brian Houston: 

I encourage you to think about what it means to serve Jesus and what it means to you. Do you believe the statement, “There is no greater call than giving You my all.”? 

I have one desire now: to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy & strength into it.” -Elisabeth Elliot

*I hope you enjoyed! Check in on Saturday for a new post😄*-Madison