What I Deserve

…of whom the world was not worthy…
Hebrews 11:38a

I have actually started typing this post seven or eight times, and I’ve begun it in my head countless times.  It is hard to write.  Not because I don’t know what to say.  But rather because there is so much left to say.

There remain countless women who were teachers, mentors, family members, friends, colleagues who remain unmentioned but who have a lasting impact on my life.  

I would have loved to write a post this month celebrating…

  • …my childhood Sunday School teachers.   These faithful women who were the first outside of my home to tell me of God’s great love and help me fall in love with the stories of the Bible.
  • …Flannery O’Conner, whose short stories inspire me to be a better story teller, a better preacher, but  most importantly a better person because a good man is hard to find.
  • Perpetua and Felicity.  If you are a Christian and don’t know their stories…  Well, then shame on all of us; stop reading this blog and google their names or click on their names above to at least read their Wikipedia page (After you’re done reading about them, please come back and finish reading this post, follow my site, and share on your social media).
  • …Mary the mother of Jesus, who was favored by God.  In a world where our daughters need positive role models, why are we NOT celebrating Mary in our evangelical protestant churches!  

The list of possible posts, goes on and on!  We need more than a month!  Of course, that’s the point, right?

Until we realize that far too often the roles of women have been forgotten, overlooked, minimized; until we realize the unbelievable impact that they have had on Christianity and the world; until we realize that they are listed alongside the men of old of whom the world was not worthy; until we realize that these women are truly a gift from God; well until then, we need a day, a month, a reminder, that we don’t deserve them either.

Of all the things — and believe me when I tell you that they are too numerous to count — of all the things that I have learned from my wife, Stace, the most important is that I don’t deserve the best things that I have in my life.  She, like the rest of the best, is a gift from God.

I am privileged to walk through life with her — I wouldn’t want to walk it without her.  I am privileged for the women (and men) who have gone before us on this road.  And I am excited to see those who are coming behind us with their own adventures.

Me and Stace walking awayAs this series concludes, my hope for myself and all who read it is that it will simply serve as an ongoing reminder that we, like the rest of the world, are not worthy of their faithfulness, their strength, or their inspiration.  And because we don’t deserve it, we will remain forever grateful. 

 

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The Fiction of Peace

Stace HawaiiAbout today’s author:
Stacy Bender derives her earthly joy from three earthly areas: her family, her friends, and her work.  Though she could probably have hobbies, she would rather connect other people to what makes them tick.  Her current claim to fame is living in a 1965 airstream trailer at least part of the last year. For a couple of years, Stacy blogged daily (click here to read all about her racing mind).  In the past few years, she has blogged once every so often. 

You can read more about how Stacy has influenced Kerry’s life as his wife and friend, and why he is celebrating her during International Women’s Month by reading tomorrow’s final post in the series “Celebrating Women.”

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If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
-Romans 12:18 (ESV)

Biff and Momsiah and momIf you look at my public Facebook feed, you will see a lot of smiles on it.  The biggest smiles most recently have been in some live videos with my daughter (who authored the post a couple of days ago) and with my son after the closing of his recent on stage performance of The Amish Project at Baylor University.

I do not smile all of the time.  

In fact, every year that goes by shows more wrinkles on my forehead from the “Stacy Scowl” that often contorts my face to represent the ugliness that resides in my heart.  I harbor resentments, I want to be right – or at least seen as someone who can find out what is right, and I lack trust in others to watch out for me.

Who knows where this comes from?

Research could probably point to a number of different “risk factors” in my life, but I want to be clear that, given how many people seem to have risk factors,  I see it more as “normal dysfunction” in my life: a lot of fun stories, a few laughs, and a lot of tears.  Side note: I like the concept of “normal dysfunction.” I just coined it; maybe there is other research out there that has already coined it, but it’s the first time I have written it in a published work .

Of course, research has its place.  We could measure my cortisol (stress hormone) level to see how it differs when I am with people I trust versus those who have hurt me in the past.  We could create charts, graphs, and pretty images to depict how everyone else is responsible for my feelings.

And that could feel good – giving everyone else the responsibility and weight of my feelings.  

In the words from a recurring line in The Amish Project, “Am I right?”

Of course, I’m right.  You responsible for me takes away the responsibility from me for me…and for you…and for anything.  I can blame you for all of my problems, I can feel better, I can avoid you, and I can talk about you in counseling office, in prayer concern time at Bible study, and in passive-aggressive story-telling at a favorite coffee shop.  Everyone will sympathize with me, they all will feel better about unloading their stories, and they probably will feel fine talking about me when I’m not there.

“Am I right?”

Sarcasm.

All of this is sarcasm.

And it makes us feel better.  We internalize it.  We believe it.  We live it.

Until it doesn’t feel good at all.  

Until I have to look at myself in the mirror and realize that the broken relationships in my life have one common denominator – me.

The fiction of peace is that you can give it to me or that I can give it to you.  

We do this thing in liturgical churches – we extend the peace to one another.  But it only works if I extend peace to you while you are extending peace to me.  You cannot give me peace while I hold onto peace and not extend it to you.  You can extend it, I can extend it, but – without a recipient – there is only a fiction.  Peace hangs in between us and begs us to accept from one another as we extend it to one another.

And actually – isn’t that the truth?  That peace hangs…or at least hung…on a cross…

Romans 12:16 is not a stand-alone verse.  We come to this verse after a lengthy discussion of what sacrifice is and what love is.  The bottom line is that love and peace and sacrifice are not concepts but rather a person.  When God sent Jesus, heaven came to earth.  Jesus brought peace in the form of a living breathing person who because a dying sacrifice who conquered death – an our lack of peacefulness – in the day of Easter.

The fiction of peace is that we are extending something to each other.

When we share the peace with one another in a liturgical church setting, we are not extending our peace with one another.  We extend the peace of Christ – God himself – to one another.  This becomes less about us and all about what God has done and is doing in the world.  Romans 12:3-15 describe what it looks like to be the church in action  – to be Christ’s peace to one another.

I am not saying that allow ourselves to be doormats.  Boundaries are healthy.  Toxic relationships should be handled with care.  We should make wise choices about how we relate to those who have deeply hurt us.

More often than not, though, we use this as an excuse to harbor resentment, to put up walls in relationships where bridges should be built, and to create havoc in the lives of others because of our choice to withhold peace from them

Kerry asked me to write about “being a wife” and what that means.  Being a wife means to be someone who is willing to live at peace to the extent that it depends on me by relying on the One who is peace to be the peace I bring to my relationships. To be clear: I have not perfected this concept of peace in all of my relationships.  There is still plenty of work to be done.

So…let’s get to work, shall we? Together.  Let’s all be peacemakers in our hearts, in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our country, and in our world.

ps: You can bring this concept to your Facebook feed…smile!Stace Waterfalls

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March is International Women’s Month!  It is my hope that you will join me over the course of the rest of March in celebrating the women who have had a significant role in influencing me.  I will post daily blog-posts — some of these posts will be from me talking about the women who have had a significant role in influencing me and some of the posts will be from these women themselves, childhood friends, mentors, teachers, co-workers, etc.  

My hope is that this series, “Celebrating Women,” will accomplish three things:  

  1. to serve in a small way as a “Thank You” to all the women who have influenced me
  2.  that you will gain wisdom from those who have spoken wisdom into my life
  3. that it will serve as a reminder to say thank you and to recognize all the amazing women in your one life

Click here to see all of the posts related to “Celebrating Women.”

The Ultimate Co-Worker

About today’s author:
Jen and her husband Todd live in the Twin Cities. They will soon have a child in elementary, middle, and high school as their oldest enters 9th grade in the fall. Jen works in the church office at Faith Baptist Church and volunteers in a variety of Christia
n Education roles including as chair of the Children’s Ministry Team. She has a passion for learning and teaching more about God’s work in and through His people across time. In the last few years, she has had the opportunity to help author VBS curriculum focused on Church History as well as contribute to devotional projects (to check out and possibly buy one of these devotional projects click “Anchored” and “Wherever“).

You can read more about how Kerry knows Jen and why he is celebrating her during International Women’s Month by reading yesterday’s post by clicking on “Women’s Work.”

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I love working with people on projects. I like brainstorming, discussing ideas, figuring out how to implement, even evaluation. But sometimes, working with people can be annoying too – mostly because they don’t do things my way.

Just the other day my husband and I had a “discussion” about something we needed to do. It was such a small thing. We just needed to send a quick email about a trip. But it turned into a “discussion” because I thought we should do it one way while he had another in mind. And of course, I thought my way was better. If I’m really being honest with myself, most of the time, my way isn’t better; it’s just different. My husband and I do things differently and approach things differently because we are different.

This isn’t just true in marriage; it’s true in the church too. God gives each one of us different gifts and skills that enable us to do the things He has called us to. Those gifts aren’t meant to put us at odds with one another, or better one another, but rather to accomplish God’s purposes and plan. The church in Corinth was struggling with this issue of different gifts and “ways of doing” when Paul chastised them saying,

“What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”    –1 Corinthians 3:5-7

What I believe Paul is getting at is that we are co-workers. God has called us to serve. He hasn’t called us to serve alone. The Bible is clear in so many places that he has given each of us different gifts, experiences, and skills that uniquely prepare us for the specific work He is calling us too. We are co-workers with the people in our church, our families, our communities…to accomplish His purposes. God doesn’t just work through me. He works through those around me too. I need to value the gifts God has given to those laboring beside me. In doing so, I’m recognizing God’s work in, and through, their lives.

But Paul doesn’t stop there. As I consider what He has called me to do, his next words are something I need to hear often. The results are not my responsibility. And they aren’t the responsibility of another person either, they are God’s responsibility. We are co-workers with those around us, and we should seek to work with them in harmony, but ultimately, God has invited us to be His co-worker in the work He is doing in the world. Let that sink in for a minute. The God of the universe has called me, and you, to join Him in His redeeming work in this world.

I’m learning more each day that I need to be willing to rely on the co-workers God has placed in my life and their gifts and skills—not just my own. BUT even more than that, I need to trust God as my ultimate co-worker. The outcomes are His…not mine. Not easy words. But true ones.

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March is International Women’s Month!  It is my hope that you will join me over the course of the rest of March in celebrating the women who have had a significant role in influencing me.  I will post daily blog-posts — some of these posts will be from me talking about the women who have had a significant role in influencing me and some of the posts will be from these women themselves, childhood friends, mentors, teachers, co-workers, etc.  

My hope is that this series, “Celebrating Women,” will accomplish three things:  

  1. to serve in a small way as a “Thank You” to all the women who have influenced me
  2.  that you will gain wisdom from those who have spoken wisdom into my life
  3. that it will serve as a reminder to say thank you and to recognize all the amazing women in your one life

Click here to see all of the posts related to “Celebrating Women.”

Women’s Work

As a child, I hated group projects in school.  My grade?  Dependent on someone else’s lack of motivation?  NO THANK YOU!

I have to admit that my view of group projects hasn’t improved much since becoming an adult.  There is always a slacker — or someone who has their own ideas — how annoying!

But Paul understood the importance of group projects, of working together, of fellow workers in Christ.

Because of this, Paul’s letters are filled with lists of group project members, requests for the presence and help of others, and praise for those who were fellow workers in Christ.

Phoebe is one of the women who makes Paul’s list of fellow workers — of a group project member.  As a matter of fact, Phoebe receives a special honor.  In Romans 16:1, she is described by Paul as a “sister” and as a “deacon” or “minister” in the church at Cenchreae.  This is a huge deal!  Paul, in the first century, a former Pharisee, coming out a patriarchal system, lists a woman as a minister or as an official office holder in the life of the Church!

Of course, Phoebe’s position as a deacon is passionately debated; if you don’t believe me, just Google it.  The word that Paul uses for “deacon,” the Greek of which is “diakonos,” is a word that can mean servant in general when translated.

The early Church adopts this general term and impregnates it with special meaning, so it can mean servant for the early Church.  However, it can also mean a specific office, the office of “deacon,” within the life of the Church.  Therefore, many english translations choose to translate this term as “servant” instead of “deacon” to describe Phoebe.  This would mean that she was not an office holder in the early Church but rather a simple servant of the Church.

But let me briefly put forward four quick arguments to see Phoebe as a deacon:

  1. Paul’s use of this Greek word is primarily, if not exclusively, tied to being a minister in the work of God, not a general servant.
  2. Paul ties this particular instance of this word to a local church — strengthening the argument that this is an office or at least a specific ministry.
  3. The early church (late 3rd/early 4th century) saw Phoebe as a “deacon” listing a woman named “Sophia” as a deacon and as a “second Phoebe” (for a full discussion of this see Elizabeth McCabe’s Society of Biblical Literature article, A Reexamination of Phoebe as “Diakonos” and “Prostatis”).
  4. If Phoebe had been a man, I wouldn’t have needed reasons 1-3.

I recognize that some readers may disagree with this position and that a quick Google search will provide enough ammunition to share in the comments; however, I think that Phoebe’s record — both by Paul’s own words and the view of the early Church — speaks for itself.

It’s tragic that the translators of many English translations consistently translate Paul’s use of “diakonos” as “deacon” or “minister,” but translate  the same Greek word in Romans 16:1, referring to Phoebe, as “servant.”  It is equally tragic when we “translate” or view the work of men and women with the same lenses within the Church today — valuing one as ministry and the other simply as service.  I realize that this is a nuance, but nuances are important!

This is not an argument for women to be pastors or elders, nor is it an argument opposed to that — that can be a topic for another day.  It is simply an argument that we should see the ministry of women, the work of women within the church, and the offices that they hold within the life of the Church with the same respect, honor, and appreciation that we have for the ministry and offices that men hold.

womens-equality-dayAt the end of the day, there is no “women’s work” or “men’s work;” there is only the work of Christ that must be done to demonstrate his love to the world!

I have had the privilege of working with some amazing women who are workers, servants, ministers, office holders, whatever you want to call them.  They are amazing people, and they have my utmost respect.  To try to list them all would be impossible — from the women that taught me Sunday School, to my college mentors, to professors at seminary, to the women that strived for the Kingdom of God with me in the churches at which I have had the privilege to work.

We worked on constitutions and bylaws together.

We cleaned the sanctuary together.

We wrote Sunday School curriculum for children and adults together.

We planned worshipped services together.

We folded bulletins together.

We prepared church meals together.

We went on mission trips together.

We served on teams, committees, and boards together.

The list could go on and on, and the benefit and knowledge that I have gained from the women with whom I had the privilege of serving alongside — well, that continues to go on and on as well.

For tomorrow, I have asked one of these women, Jen Woyke, to write a blog post about being a co-worker in Christ.  I had the privilege of working alongside Jen in numerous capacities, and I have had the opportunity to take a Church History Sunday School class from her that rivaled any class I took in college and seminary.  We served on boards together and went on a mission trip to Cameroon together.  Upon returning from that trip, she preached a Sunday morning sermon that I am not ashamed to say was one of the best sermons preached during my time at Faith Baptist Church.

Her hard work, commitment, and knowledge has benefited me and the Kingdom in countless ways.  And she is only one of scores of women that I have had the privilege to minister beside.  Any of them could have written tomorrow’s post, and those who read it would have benefited tremendously from it.  I hope that each of these women will sense my deep appreciation for them as they read this post and tomorrow’s post.

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March is International Women’s Month!  It is my hope that you will join me over the course of the rest of March in celebrating the women who have had a significant role in influencing me.  I will post daily blog-posts — some of these posts will be from me talking about the women who have had a significant role in influencing me and some of the posts will be from these women themselves, childhood friends, mentors, teachers, co-workers, etc.  

My hope is that this series, “Celebrating Women,” will accomplish three things:  

  1. to serve in a small way as a “Thank You” to all the women who have influenced me
  2.  that you will gain wisdom from those who have spoken wisdom into my life
  3. that it will serve as a reminder to say thank you and to recognize all the amazing women in your one life

Click here to see all of the posts related to “Celebrating Women.”

You are the writer today!

thank youWe have reached close to the midpoint of this series “Celebrating Women” during  International Women’s Month.  It is a series where I have written about some of the women who have influenced and formed me, but more importantly, it’s been an opportunity to hear from these women themselves.  I hope you have enjoyed it so far, and there are some great blogs to come from some of the guest bloggers.

If you came here today to read something, I want to say thank you and I am sorry.

I am not going to write anything today.  Instead, I would like you to take the next 3-5 minutes, the amount of time it would have taken you to read a blog post, and — instead of reading — call or write a note to a woman who deserves your thanks today.

Thanks again for reading this series.  Please take the time to follow my blog.

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March is International Women’s Month!  It is my hope that you will join me over the course of the rest of March in celebrating the women who have had a significant role in influencing me.  I will post daily blog-posts — some of these posts will be from me talking about the women who have had a significant role in influencing me and some of the posts will be from these women themselves, childhood friends, mentors, teachers, co-workers, etc.  

My hope is that this series, “Celebrating Women,” will accomplish three things:  

  1. to serve in a small way as a “Thank You” to all the women who have influenced me
  2.  that you will gain wisdom from those who have spoken wisdom into my life
  3. that it will serve as a reminder to say thank you and to recognize all the amazing women in your one life

Click here to see all of the posts related to “Celebrating Women.”

Seeking Stillness

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Earlier this week, it would have been my mom’s 67th birthday.  I say “would have” because she passed away 14 years ago just as she and I had become adult friends.  She loved my husband, and we all had eased into being adults together well.

I was only 21 when our daughter was born.  My mom had raised me to be a woman who could do anything she pursued; however, her most important role in my life as I moved into mommy-hood was to ensure that I believed in myself as a mother.  She treated me as if I were the best mother she had ever met who had the best children she had ever met (even when my son had colic for several months and did his best to prove her wrong).  The four generation photo above is from the day when Kerry and I graduated from college;  she and I stand together while Grandma Lois holds my daughter.

Several years later, just eight months prior to her death, my husband (host of this blog series) took his first senior pastor position at Faith Baptist Church in North Minneapolis.  My mom was so proud!

Within two months of Kerry starting the position at FBC, my mom was diagnosed with a rare and terminal cancer.  Although she tried a brief course of a trial drug, it became clear quite quickly that she would not benefit from that treatment.  The last three month of her life were a quick decline from high energy woman to a woman who spoke nonsense because the pain medications interfered with clarity of thought.

My mom’s life had not been easy.  Various circumstances, choices made both by her and by others, and being self-employed created a bit of chaos.  She worked hard, loved intensely, and championed her children as they became adults, the spouses as we married, and our children as we had them.

As the pain medications slowed her thinking, a different kind of chaos began.  Decisions had to be made, her businesses need attention, and everyone she loved and whom she loved tried to understand what it meant for her to be dying.

In the midst of all of this chaos, my mom stood firmly on the promise that the chaos around her did not determine her destiny after her death, nor did it steal the assurance she knew she could find in the knowledge of who God was, His love for her, and His redemptive plan for her life and the world as a whole.

My mom’s favorite verse, Psalm 46:10, comes in the of a psalm in which David first describes the truth that God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble and then continues to discuss a whole lot of chaos.  Natural events like the ones in the psalm continue to cause fear for us: rising flood waters threaten much of North Dakota again this year, and several earthquakes have devastated entire cities recently.  These “forces of nature” cannot be stopped even with all of our modern technology.

In the midst of it all, the psalmist encourages us to be still and know that God is God.  He is with us in our fears and in the scary and unfortunate circumstances to which no one seems immune.

Through it all, God is with us.  Through it all, God is our refuge.

We can stop letting the chaos pull us toward feeling chaotic.  Our refuge – the Creator of all that is, that was, and that will be provides a peace that cannot be understand simply because He is peace.

During my mom’s last week alive, many people visited her.  Some came with offers to pray for her – healing, comfort, and strength.  Most people left her presence in awe of her assurance that she was not alone and that God had not abandoned her.

Though her death was clearly imminent, she would not allow others simply to minister to her.  She wanted to minister to them.  As she sought to live the mandate to be still and know that God is God, she encouraged others to reflect on their situations and to live in that truth as well.

It is hard to believe that she has been gone for nearly 14 years now.  Though I am not good about always putting this lesson into practice, I do count myself as one of those who benefited from her attitude as she was dying.  Once in a while, when I am in a chaotic time and wish that I could call her, I realize that she would tell me to step back, to get still, and to focus on the truth that God is God.

Regardless of the circumstances around me and the view I have of how those things will go, the truth is that there is no chaos to God.  He is God.  He is my refuge.  I can seek stillness and be reassured that He is with me. Because of that, chaos cannot consume me.

Yvonne “Von” Schreier could have founded the blogging movement.  Prior to her death in 2003, Von had devoted her life to God’s service, her family, and the pursuit of lifelong learning.  For several years, Von had written a daily devotional and emailed it to an ever-growing list of readers. Stacy Bender, Von’s daughter, is married with two adult children and is the online programming director for a small hybrid online school in Minnesota.  Inspired in part by her mom’s writings as well as the encouragement of mentors and friends, Stacy embarked on a daily blog project on August 1, 2011, and continues – though not always daily or even monthly – into the present.

March is International Women’s Month!  It is my hope that you will join me over the course of the rest of March in celebrating the women who have had a significant role in influencing me.  I will post daily blog-posts — some of these posts will be from me talking about the women who have had a significant role in influencing me and some of the posts will be from these women themselves, childhood friends, mentors, teachers, co-workers, etc.  

My hope is that this series, “Celebrating Women,” will accomplish three things:  

  1. to serve in a small way as a “Thank You” to all the women who have influenced me
  2.  that you will gain wisdom from those who have spoken wisdom into my life
  3. that it will serve as a reminder to say thank you and to recognize all the amazing women in your one life

Click here to see all of the posts related to “Celebrating Women.”

My Barnabas Was a Woman

“…Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”  -Acts 4:36-37

Barnabas was an amazing individual in the Bible.  He stood out not because of his preaching, or miracles, or even because of the numbers whom he converted — Barnabas stood out because he encouraged others.

Encouragement is a neglected spiritual gift!

Barnabas was the apostle who took Paul under his wing and encouraged him — and encouraged a frightened Church to welcome Paul, who was a recent and previously violent convert. Who knows, without Barnabas there may have not been a “Paul.”  In addition, though Barnabas was Paul’s encourager, he wasn’t afraid to stand up to Paul when another young man of God, John Mark, needed an encourager whom Paul had “written off” because of a previous “transgression.”  Paul would later recognize John Mark as vital to his ministry and would request his presence.  Without Barnabas as an encourager, Paul and John Mark may have remained estranged, and they would have been the worse for it — and so would have the Church.

We all need a Barnabas in our lives!  We need an encourager — someone who encourages us but isn’t afraid to stand up to us and for someone else that needs to be encouraged as well.  I have been blessed with several encouragers through the years, but there has been one that comes to mind as my Barnabas — a woman, one of my heroes, my mother-in-law, Von Schreier.

Von would have been 67 yesterday, March 9th.  I say “would have” because she died at 53.  It is one of the most tragic losses in my life because she was one of the greatest blessings.

Von was amazing!  She encouraged individuals that many would have ignored.  And she wasn’t afraid to stand up to others to remind them of their own responsibility to be an encourager.

When I think of Von, Barnabas isn’t the only image that comes to my mind — the other image I have is of a cheerleader.  I mean no offense to cheerleaders, but I’ve never really been a fan.

The unbridled enthusiasm.

The optimism in the face of unspeakable odds.

The unconditional devotion and admiration.

But that’s who Von was for me, and I loved every minute of it.

When she came to Boston, MA, to visit us while I attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, she came to classes with me.

It was fantastic.

Yes, I took my mother-in-law to school with me.  She loved it.  She and Rick, my father-in-law (a man who deserves his own blog post, but my wife wrote that one already), supported us, loved us, and encouraged us through courtship, going to school, and having our children.

And amazingly, they expected nothing in return.

Von continues to encourage me beyond the grave.

NO! She doesn’t talk to me, but her legacy is a legacy of encouragement.  Without her, there is no doubt that I would not be the man, the husband, or the person that I am.

Tomorrow, I’ve asked my wife, Stacy to write a blog on behalf of Von.  I know you will be blessed by my wife’s words and the lesson that she and I both learned from her mother, my mother-in-law, my Barnabas.

March is International Women’s Month!  It is my hope that you will join me over the course of the rest of March in celebrating the women who have had a significant role in influencing me.  I will post daily blog-posts — some of these posts will be from me talking about the women who have had a significant role in influencing me and some of the posts will be from these women themselves, childhood friends, mentors, teachers, co-workers, etc.  

My hope is that this series, “Celebrating Women,” will accomplish three things:  

  1. to serve in a small way as a “Thank You” to all the women who have influenced me
  2.  that you will gain wisdom from those who have spoken wisdom into my life
  3. that it will serve as a reminder to say thank you and to recognize all the amazing women in your one life

Click here to see all of the posts related to “Celebrating Women.”

More Than a List

I am strange.  Those of you who know me well won’t argue.  Part of my strangeness is that I really like listening to sermons!  One of my all-time favorite sermons is by a man named Fred Craddock who passed away in 2015.  He was a gifted preacher, a devoted professor, and a passionate and compassionate Christian.

The title of the sermon was “When the Roll is Called Down Here,” (you can read the sermon at “Preaching Today” by clicking on the title of the sermon). The text for his sermon was Romans 16.  It’s an unusual text for a sermon.  The text is basically a list of names.  A list of names of Paul’s ministry partners.  A list of fellow believers.  A list of those who made Paul who he was.

Craddock brings home the fact that this was more than a list — “Don’t call that a list.  It’s not a list.”  For Paul, this was more than a list of names.  For Paul, it was the Church.  For Paul, it was the fiber of who he was.

As I read this list again recently, I remembered the sermon with fondness, but I was surprised again by Paul’s list that is more than a list.  What surprised me was the number of women on Paul’s “list.”

He calls these women sisters, saints, and workers in the LORD, fellow prisoners; even one woman receives the title “mother.”  The affection, the respect, and the recognition of these women by Paul is obvious yet too often forgotten.

One can argue about Paul’s theology of women in ministry, but his practice is clear.  By his own words, his own admission, and his own list, Paul recognises that he couldn’t have done it without them.

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The Fabric of Who I Am

As I thought about Paul’s list again, I took Craddock’s sermon to heart once again and began to think about my own list.  That list is sprinkled liberally with women — peers, friends, mentors — a list that made me who I am, a list that influences me everyday, and a list that is more than a simply list.

Therefore, beginning on March 8th which is recognized as International Women’s Day, and continuing to the end of March.  I want to honor these women by sharing a few of them with anybody that reads this blog.  The series will consist of twenty-four daily posts — some posts written by me sharing the impact that these women have had on my life, but, more importantly, some of the posts will be written by these women themselves.

 

I hope that this month you will join me in remembering the women on your list, honoring the women in your life, and celebrating women!