I’m late writing this. Yesterday the lack of sleep plus fasting added up to exhaustion. It’s the first time I had difficulty staying awake in class (and it wasn’t the topic because that was fascinating!). The lack of sleep is caused by everything that this is stirring up in me. I’m not the only one experiencing it, others have commented on it as well. The fast is for a breakthrough. I have had plenty of “experiences” these past three weeks. I want an encounter. That said, what I want and what I need are often two different things, and God knows best. This (Friday morning) is my third day fasting, and I usually don’t handle fasts well (the last time I tried one it sent my heart in a months-long cycle of palpitations–I’m praying that doesn’t happen again!). I’m also praying for Harrisburg. The mayor has requested prayer for God to show them the way out of the financial bind they’re in.
Yesterday morning Lee Grady got into the meat of the argument people use against women being in ministry. He started out by going over passages that show Jesus’ interaction with women, how he broke about every taboo there was in religious circles in his day. I don’t think most people realize how poorly women were being treated at the time. They were kept in ignorance (not allowed to be educated), relegated to the back of the church (synagogue), and pretty much kept barefoot and pregnant. Oh, and they were looked at as Jezebels who were there to tempt and were thought of as unreliable (not allowed to testify). Laws were twisted against them (think the woman caught in adultery–perhaps Jesus wrote in the sand “Where’s the man?”!!!). Jesus brought the woman bent over to the front of the synagogue (a HUGE no-no), healed her (on the Sabbath!) and then empowered her (she glorified God!). No wonder there was a price on his head!
Speaking of the woman bent double for 18 years, I think I mentioned a woman I spent time with named Vickie. Well she gave her testimony yesterday. She’d been afflicted with severe scoliosis for years, bent over from it, when someone called her and said there was a healing ministry going on at a mall nearby. She went and they prayed over her, and over the course of 20 minutes her back began to straighten. She said it made all kinds of popping sounds but eventually she was able to stand straight! There was a LOT of praising God going on!!! She said on the way home the vehicle was literally being rocked back and forth by the winds of angel wings which were flying around it rejoicing (it wasn’t a windy day otherwise, lol). She still has some health issues but God has been healing them one at a time. Every time she comes home from a conference or school her husband takes her to a measuring stick on the wall (think the kind you use when your kids are growing up!) and measures her. She keeps growing :)
Anyway back to the controversy. It pretty much boils down to two verses: 1 Cor. 14:34-35 and 1 Tim. 2:11-15. There are others, but these are the two biggies used to develop the complementarian thinking that men were created to be leaders and women to be followers. The information Lee put forth was new to me, and probably would be to many others even though it is contradicted by other things Paul has said. Sometimes it’s the subtle translation choices that make all the difference, like the “What?” that’s missing in most versions at the beginning of 1 Cor. 14:36. (Actually that’s a Greek symbol which could be translated “Huh?”) Add to that that Paul’s letter is in response to one of theirs and what was going on in the Corinthian church at the time, suddenly those verses take on a whole new meaning. Other passages were covered as well, and each time more light was brought so that, in the end, I must conclude that what the church has been teaching for the last umpteen years is wrong. It’s wrong, folks! If you believe otherwise, I have ten thousand churches in Africa to show you…not to mention the thousands more in China and Singapore which were started and are currently being led by women. And I’d recommend Lee’s book as well, Ten Lies the Church Tells Women.
What does this mean for me personally? Freedom, for one thing. Though often freedom comes at a cost. It’s not my mission to change other people’s mindsets, but neither will I be silent if the issue comes up. I’m better equipped than that now :) Lee shared at one point a discussion he had with God on this, more or less asking Him why these passages are even in the Bible when they cause so much controversy. I don’t know exactly what God told him but the gist was “I use these kinds of situations to expose what’s in the heart.” Does it ever! Lee has often been attacked by those who believe differently. Thanks, Lee, for taking it for your sisters! :)
His last session he spoke on “The Anointing to Finish Well.” He said that there is a lack of character in today’s “revivals” (Lakeland is a prime example–it didn’t end well) and that if you want to finish well you have to:
1. Develop a servant’s heart. Humility is a prerequisite for finishing well.
2. Live a transparent life of purity. In a movement that celebrates “the goosebumps of the Holy Ghost” there is a definite lack of character and a lot of men in ministry are falling.
3. Embrace trials and suffering. Rejoicing is God’s secret weapon!
A Christian needs three types of friends: Pauls, Barnabases, and Timothys. That would be spiritual fathers/mothers, bosom friends, and people we mentor. Ministers especially are vulnerable if they have few friends. We need accountability! We ended the session with a time of prayer/praise (and not a quiet one!). He had us speak our prayers (more like shout!) and just give praise to God, and it was awesome! Afterward then there was prayer for students and then some prayer for him. One of the young men felt led to pray for him. His name is Prem and he’s being called to India, perhaps even becoming involved in some of the ministry that Lee has. So he sidles up to Lee and prays, and that’s when things got interesting. As others began to pray as well, something started to happen. Unbeknown to most of us during lunch that day he was teasing Josh about his encounter the other day (I didn’t go into detail but trust me, it was dramatic). He was also laughing about another guy’s rolling around. Let me just say it’s a very dangerous to do that! Guess what happened to him during prayer? It started out as little shakes and then God got a hold of him and he did all of the above and more, lol. A stranger coming in off the street would wonder what the world was going on! I just stepped back and smiled, and some even laughed (those in on what had happened) and kept praying over him, “More, Lord!”
I got home a little later than usual last night and did some reading in the spare room, then I got tired and laid down. Then I went straight to bed. This morning I awoke early enough to write, but I’m still tired. This is the last day and I wish I were feeling better, but God will give me the grace to get through it. I am going to miss these people and this place so much and know that I need to balance the sadness with rejoicing. What a privilege it’s been, and what a joy to be with 43 other people who are as hungry for God as I am! So many times He showed up in ways I’d never seen before, and I’ve been stretched more than ever. I’ve been told that today’s speaker is consistently rated as everyone’s favorite–Max Myers, who runs Global. I’m looking forward to it :)