God’s Ways Are Not Man’s

woman of samaria

Building upon what I’ve shared in the last couple of posts, regarding the “new” way Jesus the man taught and treated women, I want to share my thoughts on one of the most intriguing and least-understood figures in the New Testament…the Woman of Samaria.  Also known as the Woman at the Well.

On His way to Galilee with His disciples, Jesus was “wearied from his journey” and sat near Jacob’s Well to rest and quench His thirst.   He happened to stop near Samaria, the  Jews’ enemy territory (bold move #1) and approached a woman (bold move #2) to give Him water.

He perceived she’d had 5 husbands and that her current partner was not her husband.  She was shocked that He knew so much about her and perceived Him to be a prophet.

Enter bold move #3…Jesus spent time with, taught and nurtured a sinner.  As soon as her heart became sensitive and open to who He was, it didn’t matter what her past – and current – mistakes were.  Only that a perfect and masterful shepherding moment lay before Him with a very teachable subject.

He did not condemn her, He taught her.  The Woman of Samaria/Jesus interplay in the Bible shows us that we do not need to have it all together, living a spotless life, to be visited by the Master.  We can feel His presence, receive His teachings, and be sent forth for a purpose.  Intimately.  In our imperfection.

His disciples could NOT believe that He was talking to a woman, much less a Samaritan.  Jesus was showing them another way.   As He always did.

What Jesus taught the Woman at the Well:

“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10, NIV)

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13, 14 – NIV)

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” (Jhn 4:23 –NIV)

How she responded:

“Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” (John 4:15 – NIV)

“I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming…” (John 4:25, NIV)

“The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” (John 4:28-29, KJV)

How she was received:

“And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified…” (John 4:39)

As I discussed in my last post about Mary Magdalene, who went running to tell the disciples He was risen, this woman left her water pot and high-tailed it back to Samaria to testify of His divinity.  Despite the rejection she must knew she’d face as a woman of poor reputation.

Isn’t it a beautiful pattern in the scriptures that the Lord uses the “weak things of the world” to accomplish His purposes?  What is weak to the world is strong to the Lord.

The weak of the world are, in Truth, His powerful ones…

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, [yea], and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are.”     (1 Cor 1:27-28, KJV)

Bold move #4:

“But God has chosen spiritually-sensitive women to confound the wise, and the worldly ones that appear mighty.  The world has rejected women, but God has chosen them…to bring the Truth to light.”

God’s ways are not man’s.

Thank goodness.

Jesus Came to a Woman First

mary magdalene

Today Jeff and I taught our daughter’s Sunday School class – a group of eager and restless 12 and 13 year-olds.  Because it’s Easter Sunday, we tag-teamed the story of the last days of Christ’s life:  the washing of the apostles’ feet, the Last Supper, the prayer in Gethsemene, betrayal and arrest, Crucifixion, burial, Resurrection…

There was a heavy line of demarcation in the room – loud and rambunctious boys on one side, meek and demure girls on the other.   So as not to let our exuberant male audience overpower our less verbose feminine one, I turned to the girls and pronounced, “Ladies, if there’s one thing you remember after this lesson, I want it to be this:  Jesus appeared to a woman first.”

I explained to our hungry-eyed young ladies that a group of women went to Jesus’ tomb 3 days after His death to anoint His body with spices and precious oils and ointments.  When those women arrived, they discovered the stone had been rolled away.  Upon entering, they saw an angel sitting next to where Christ’s body had been lain, who told them Jesus was not there.  He was risen.

The angel bearing the news of the resurrected Lord spoke to a group of women first.

One of those women literally ran for Peter and James, who followed her back to make the same discovery.  After the whats and the whys and the hows and the something-must-be-done-about-this disorentation…Peter and John left.  One woman stayed behind, weeping outside the empty tomb.

A woman lingered.  A woman mourned.  A woman searched.

Someone from behind started to approached her.  Was it the gardener or caretaker?  “Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou has laid him, and I will take him away.” (John 20:15)  Just tell me where He is.  I just want to make sure He is cared for.

I just want to make sure He is…found.

All He needed to say was, “Mary.”  The most sweet and soaring words to any woman’s ears…her own name.  And then she knew.

Mary Magdalene ran to Him and cried, “Rabboni,” which means Master.  How joyful their reunion must have been.  After the lingering and the mourning and the weeping and the searching, He had come.  To her.  Jesus had appeared to a woman first after His resurrection, and had instructed a woman to report that He lives.

Mary – again – ran to tell the disciples that she had seen Jesus and that He had spoken to her.  Disbelieving and incredulous were many of them.  Later Jesus would appear to them and tell them He was disappointed because they had not believed Mary’s account.

Jesus ministered for 40 days with His disciples – including many women – after His resurrection.  Women were present in the “upper room” just prior to His ascension into heaven.   “And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.  These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”  (Acts 1:13-14)

And so I asked our young female friends why they thought Christ came to Mary first.  Why didn’t He just come when Peter and John and everyone else was gathered together at the empty tomb?  I believe by that point it was obvious.

Mary of Magdala, the woman, was seeking Him in solitude.  Her heart was open, searching…breaking.  She stayed behind to find Him, to feel after Him.  As women often do.

One of our tween male participants wisely observed, “And Jesus probably knew that she was going to run and tell everyone the Truth about Him.”  That made me smile.

On this Easter day, I wish to be as Mary, a heart afire, running to tell the Truth about what He speaks to me.  No matter who believes me…

Because He simply is risen.

Were Women Slighted in the New Testament?

woman with veil

What was the “collective ideology – prevailing thought “consciousness” – about women back when Christ walked the Earth?  We all know that the Pharisees and Sadducees (the guys in charge) were very rule bound – very “letter of the law.”  What were the customs and traditions that women were bound by back then?

And NOW…what are we denied as women because of the modern, diminished consciousness surrounding the Feminine?  The world just doesn’t get it, and never has.  That’s why I try not to take chauvanism and the angry “it’s a man’s world” femininist movement too seriously.  I realize that it is just absolute ignorance, and could not be further from the peaceable and powerful Truth of our divine feminine identities.

Back in Christ’s day, women had to have long hair and be covered before they could pray.  Here are some words from the apostle Paul (whom I have to admit I thought had little respect for the gifts of women until I did some research)  Many, like myself,who don’t interpret the scriptures in the right spirit have condemned Paul for demeaning and excluding women:

1 Cor. 11

But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.   For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered…Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?   But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

1 Cor 14

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

I used to wince while reading these passages.  I used to believe that Paul was actually promoting the fact that women were not spiritually allowed to receive what men can.  It really bothered me, until I asked the Lord to provide some insight [ask, and ye shall receive…].  After some research and pondering, I looked more closely at 1 Cor 11 and 14 and attempted to put them into the right context.  Paul’s not telling the women they shouldn’t pray and prophesy, he’s telling them they have to obey the customs…be respectful of traditions they’re largely forced into. He’s saying it was a shame for women to speak in the churches because it was not permitted.

Culturally.

It makes me think of how backwards certain cultures – including our lovely “popular” one – have it regarding the rights and roles of women.

In the Jewish Talmud (written by the Scribes and Pharisees), women were completely denied the privilege of reading and studying the scriptures.  Men had usurped complete authority of all reading, studying and expounding on the scriptures.  Can you imagine how that grieved the heavens?

In Christian assemblies, women -in their fervent zeal to know more- started to act disorderly within the Jewish synagogues because they didn’t know basic points of doctrine, having been denied this privilege.  They wanted more!  And so Paul was trying to counsel these women.  He was showing them ways they could skirt the customs and peacefully receive it for themselves at home, without having to create a public scene.

Adam Clark, leading theologian on Judeo-Christianity, writes:

“It was permitted for any man to ask questions, to object, altercate, attempt to refute in the synagogue; but this liberty was not afforded to the women.  Paul confirms this in reference to the Christian church.  He orders them to keep silence; if they wished to learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home, because it was perfectly indecorous for women to be contending with men in the public assembly on points of doctrine, cases of conscience, etc. But this by no means intimated that when a woman received any particular influence(calling) from God to enable her to teach, she was to ignore that influence; on the contrary, SHE WAS TO OBEY IT.”

So, was Paul telling the ladies to put a lid on it?  Au contraire, mon frere.  Paul was largely admonishing women to obey the laws of the land.   He wasn’t telling them to be quiet or not to develop their spiritual gifts.  He was simply warning them that unfortunately, women had to acquiesce to their messed up culture.  Otherwise, they may lose their right to worship as Christians.  They might get shut down by those in authority.

It is interesting that later in that same chapter (Cor 14), still talking to women, Paul says, “For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.”

In Acts 16:14 we read about, “…a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple…whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.”

Lydia and a group of women in Philippi were the first converts who helped to organized the first local church on the soil of Europe.

Rom. 16: 3 “Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:”

Priscilla and her husband Aquila were associates of Paul, and taught Apollos.

When Paul started his long list of greetings to individuals in the church at Rome (Romans 16:1-16):  “I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church… That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.

The first name he addressed in his greetings was a woman. In fact, ten of those referred to individually were women.

Philippians 4:2-3:   I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel…whose names are in the book of life.”

Paul encouraged and exhorted Euodia and Syntyche (2 women) as fellow workers in the cause of the gospel.  He entreated his brethren to help the women!  Soooo NOT chauvinist!

See, Paul took it for granted that women would pray and prophesy in church; to pray and to prophesy were to exercise leadership and teaching roles in public worship.

This was uncommon in the Early Saints’ culture and time period…to afford women this kind of inclusion.

And who was teaching PAUL how to deal with women…the rights women should be afforded in the Church…Who taught Paul about the Divine Feminine?  Certainly not his culture.    But Jesus Christ. His mentor.

WHAT JESUS DID TO ATTEMPT TO RAISE THE EARTH’S CONSCIOUSNESS ABOUT WOMEN while He was a mortal?

I love this statement by Joseph Coleson, a renowned scholar and theologian at Nazarene Seminary: “Throughout the Gospels we see—if we are looking—the radically new and different treatment of women by Jesus. He talked with women, ate with, traveled with, and taught women, accepted women’s ministry to him with respect and dignity. Given the social norms of Roman Palestine, it is impossible to overestimate the importance of the fact that women were the first to see Jesus’ empty tomb, and to see Jesus himself after His resurrection, and further, that Jesus directed the women to report His resurrection to Peter and the rest of the men of the company. Women, whose witness was not accepted in a court of law, were charged with first witness to the most important event in all history. This was church leadership of the first order!”   CHRIST SHOWED A NEW WAY TO TREAT WOMEN.  He literally defied the customs of His day.   I want to explore, in a little series of posts, how this was so.  Stay tuned 🙂

The Importance of Being STILL Every Day

jesus calling

I am in love with the little book, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  It’s so inspiring the way it’s crafted, being written as if Jesus is speaking directly to you, in a daily devotional format.  Apparently the intimate exchange in Sarah’s moments of stillness with her journal – after reflecting upon certain biblical passages – was how the book was born.  Her March 27th entry is…sigh…thought-provokingly wonderful:

“Be still in My persence, even though countless tasks clamor for your attention.  Nothing is as important as spending time with Me.  While you wait in My Presence, I do My best work within you: transforming you by the renewing of your mind.  If you skimp on this time with Me, you may plunge headlong into the wrong activities, missing the richness of what I have planned for you.”

“Do not seek Me primarily for what I can give you.  Remember that I, the Giver, am infinitely greater than any gift I might impart to you.  Though I delight in blessing My children, I am deeply grieved when My blessings become idols in their hearts.  Anything can be an idol if it distracts you from Me as your First Love.  When I am the ultimate Desire of your heart, you are safe from the danger of idolatry.  As you wait in My Presence, enjoy the greatest gift of all: Christ in you, the hope of glory!”

I have the tendency to “plunge headlong into the wrong activities” as “countless tasks clamor for [my] attention.”  What a beautiful reminder that seeking the Lord – waiting on His Presence to arrive in my heart – is my first priority.  As I do so, my mind is transformed…I have more clarity, more focus and more peace.

Also!  God is not there simply to grant my every wish, or to even listen to my every problem, story, crisis, or issue.  He’s there for me to praise, to love, to allow in, to express gratitude towards, to be in AWE of.  His gentle peace and Presence is bigger than the blessings I seek at His hand!   To have no other gods before Him is to place my heart on His altar and wait on His peace and Presence, and His alone.  Sometimes it means to just wait and listen and communicate to Him, “I love you.  I trust you.”  With NO agenda.  Just being with Him.  Just letting Him do His awesome work in me.

One of the first things I do with the women I coach is to have them secure a place in their home where they can receive peace and clarity…messages from On High.  We call it the Sacred Space.  We then place into their daily lifestyle a structured time to connect to the heavens, a sort of Divine Appointment, or Sacred Routine.  They start with 20 minutes, then work up to whatever feels right, in the flow of spiritual connection.  Women have had miraculous breakthroughs and insights when putting this Routine into practice.

Without this structured time as a daily staple, it becomes too easy for idols to infiltrate – for distractions to reign.  I am learning that NOTHING is more important than daily stillness.  Babies, house, spouse, church responsibilties, your life calling/purpose…it’s all secondary to this.   Nothing should take precedence over personal connection with the Divine.

What Does It Mean to be a GREAT Woman?

I heard this “greatness” list on a group teaching call recently and loved it.  I love it because it affirms my position that “average”, “status quo”, “getting by” and “doing pretty good” is NOT what we were born for…

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF GREATNESS

1. You shall remember who you are.

2. You shall let go of anything that stands between you and your greatness.

3. You shall take the high road in everyday thoughts, words and acts whether anyone is looking or not.

4. You shall Say “Yes” to the Spirit within without reservation.

5. You shall act in Faith.

6. You shall fully express your purpose, innate gifts and talents.

7. You shall live from your highest vision and manifest a life that is worthy of you.

8. You shall Love, be Love and be “in Love!”

9. You shall allow yourself to stand out naturally.

10. You shall assist others in remembering who they are and stepping into their greatness.

– Reggie Odom

This little blurb at the end pretty much says it all:

“Playing small is not what I had in mind for you.” – The Divine

I think many of us hold back from really “being” more because we fear others will perceive us unfavorably.  We go to their level of comfortability – absorbing their feelings of “less than” because we’ll seem superior if we try to be “more than.”  Silly girls.  We so often place the opinions of others before God’s!  HE wants us to soar and shine and be in our gifts and experience bliss and flow and passion and Light.  That way, His work gets done more quickly and we get to expand our souls in the process.

Remember Marianne Williamson’s reminder that our “playing small does not serve the world”?  That when we become liberated from what others think and feel our  “presence automatically liberates others”?

Wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that if we actually did let our lights shine and play “big” we will set those naysayers FREE on some level?

I know in my heart I’m not trying to outshine anyone.  I just want to bring other women to God.  To peace.  To a knowledge of THEIR greatness and divinity.  Each of us, because of what we have passed through, are experts on something.  Time and experience have implanted within us seeds of greatness that, through our faith and courage, have the ability to spring forth and move masses of other people.

Oft-quoted, but here’s Marianne’s full statement:

marianne“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I memorized this, heart and mind, in the year 2000, as I was going through my own awakening and transformation process.  I felt like it gave me permission to be more than ordinary, to break out of what was around me… a permission slip I desperately needed and was actually begging for, soul level.  I’ve realized that while we all need other people along the way to validate our efforts to move forward and be more, I need to trust that I can give myself that permission.

I need to trust that my relationship with Deity is solid enough that I will not go astray if I play big.  I need to trust the voice of God which to my heart almost constantly whispers, “Permission GRANTED.”

So, what does it mean to be a great woman?  A great woman is a woman who “gets” her Greatness.  She gives HERSELF permission to shine (hey! that phrase sounds familiar…I have a free audio on it on this site).  A great woman LEAPS forward with her heart at the forefront, inspiring others with Love and Light and enthusiasm… couched in her own sweet IMPERFECTION.

Greatness is not perfection, it’s just unabashed desire and courage.  Heed the call to Greatness.  The Earth needs what you have!