Category Archives: Ministry

Daughters of Zelophehad: Spiritual Mothers of the Ancient Near East

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International Women’s Day is this Friday 8 March 2013. It is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.
So to celebrate the occasion and raise awareness, Sarah Bessey is hosting a synchroblog on the topic of Spiritual Midwives and Patron Saints. This blog post in particular is participating & focuses on 5 lesser known spiritual mothers of the Bible.

Recently human trafficking, sex trade, prostitution rings, and the mistreatment of women and children have gained international attention. In various parts of the world, women struggle to even be treated as humans. The book and documentary, “Half the Sky” revealed the inhumanities done to women and now considers itself a movement against the oppression of women worldwide.[1]

The injustices done against women are anything but new. In the Mishneh Torah, boys and men were encouraged to pray this ‘blessing’ each morning,

“Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has not made me a non-Jew. Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has not made me a woman. Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has not made me a servant.”[2]

Whether or not one argues this ‘blessing’ actually validates the beautiful role of women in the Jewish faith and culture, the reality of the human heart has turned it into a curse and bondage. Inadvertently or intentionally, it leaves a woman feeling she is ‘less than’ her male counterpart.

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(photo taken from Convoy of Hope facebook page)

A Biblical Example: Daughters of Zelophehad

This was the context and culture of five sisters who lived in the Ancient Near East. On International Women’s Day, these sisters are heroines of the faith. Their story is actually found in the Bible. Numbers 27 talks about the daughters of Zelophehad. They had just buried their father. They lived in a time where women did not hold positions of honor or receive inheritances. Expectations of women were to work in home or in the fields.[3] Because of their gender, they received nothing. All their possessions they had known and grown up with was no longer rightfully theirs after their father passed on. What must have it felt like to lose everything after burying a loved one?

Numbers 27:1-4 reads,

The daughters of Zelophehad son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, belonged to the clans of Manasseh son of Joseph. The names of the daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah. They came forward and stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders and the whole assembly at the entrance to the tent of meeting and said, “Our father died in the wilderness. He was not among Korah’s followers, who banded together against the Lord, but he died for his own sin and left no sons. Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father’s relatives.[4]

Bold Prayers2

Legally these five sisters received nothing, but they knew something had to be done. They wanted to receive their property, their inheritance promised to their forefathers and their family for generations.  They decided to come together and ask for an inheritance. Against all odds and against everything they asked.

   It is also possible Zelophehad, their father, was a criminal. He may have died receiving the death penalty for a sin he committed. Notice the distinction made in verse 3 when they speak about their father’s death. “He was not among Korah’s followers, who banded together against the Lord, but he died for his own sin.”

   These daughters not only lived without any property or inheritance rights, but they lived under the shadow of their father’s sin. For them to come and ask for an inheritance was huge. They had to come and stand before the same people who possibly condemned their father.

Without batting an eye they asked for their inheritance boldly. Numbers 27:5-11 discloses their sheer determination.

“Give us property from among our father’s relatives. So Moses brought their case before the Lord: and the Lord said to him, “What Zelophehad’s daughters are saying is right.” You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father’s relatives and give their father’s inheritance to them. “Say to the Israelites, ‘If a man dies and leaves no son, give his inheritance to his daughter. If he has no daughter, give his inheritance to his brothers. 10 If he has no brothers, give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. 11 If his father had no brothers, give his inheritance to the nearest relative in his clan, that he may possess it. This is to have the force of law for the Israelites, as the Lord commanded Moses.”

What happened as they went before the assembly boldly and asked for their inheritance? In this text, they are granted their request but God also changed the culture and their governing laws concerning women. Later on in Scripture we find out they received their inheritance and then some. Because they asked boldly, they received ten tracts of land for their inheritance. These sisters left a legacy for their daughters and grandchildren.

734585_10151399973829681_583031258_n(photo taken from Convoy of Hope facebook page)

I struggled with this passage. It is an obscure passage in the middle of nowhere. Take a right turn after Leviticus and a left-turn before Deuteronomy to Numbers. Rarely will you hear any inspiring, vision casting, turn or burn sermons from this little known book in the Old Testament. When I read over it, I almost missed it. But I had never heard this story before about these sisters. And the more I read, the more it got my attention.

Is this small story about the 5 sisters overcoming obstacles? That reason in itself could preach! Is it about these confident and self-assured women leaving their past behind them, and moving forward to better things? They were definitely not their father, they were women of integrity. Was it about injustices and God making that which was unjust, just? All of us have experienced injustice in this world and some of us have experienced it more than others. Is it about claiming their ancestral land? We do not know how many days, months or even years passed between their father’s passing to when they were able to receive and use their actual inheritance – their tracts of land.

Still if you narrow it down to all of these, there is still something missing.

What’s Missing?

After long hours of studying this passage and crying out to God, I realized it was right there! And if you aren’t careful, anyone can miss it. This text is actually about prayer and going boldly before God. Moses is a type of mediator between God and man. As a mouthpiece for God, he stood as an example of One who was to come! Hebrews 3:1-2 proclaims,

“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters,

who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses.”

    This story about the five daughters of Zelophehad is about prayer! Prayer that moves mountains, prayer that is truly sacrificial and thinks not of the present situation, but asks boldly with faith. It took them everything to go before Moses and the assembly. Above all of that, they knew they stood before the one and only God, the King of the Universe. They were coming to Him with their petition.

Psalm 2:8 says, “Ask of me and I will make the nations your inheritance.” We sing about it, we pray about it, but what does this verse mean? What is the significance of this verse when it talks about inheritance? What is this inheritance?

We are the Lord’s inheritance. You and I are part of the inheritance of faith. Yet there is more. Those people who have not yet believed, they are a part of an inheritance to come. They are our inheritance of souls we work to bring into the kingdom of God.

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(photo taken from Convoy of Hope facebook page)

Kingdom Issues

On International Women’s day, we who are followers of Christ, must understand the issues for equality are also in the church. This ongoing battle for equality is a more than a gender issue. It i

s a kingdom issue. Jesus says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Pray therefore that the Lord of the Harvest will send laborers into the harvest field.” If Jesus himself said that laborers are few, why do we as his body continue to limit women in their working the fields of God’s calling?

And what is our response as women to those who place limitations in the ministry? The story of the daughters of Zelophehad is an amazing one – it is one of boldness and prayer. We too can respond through going to the Lord for the injustices we see and walking with integrity in front of others, including our accusers. With God’s help, culture can change and we can work together to bring in an inheritance of souls.

by Debbie Fulthorp

Photo on 1-31-13 at 10.47 AM

[2] http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/920169/jewish/Chapter-Seven.htm (some have also translated ‘slave’ into ‘dog’, and non-Jew would’ve been transliterated “Goyim” or another word for Gentile)

[3] John Oakes, “What Life was Like for Women of the Old Testament,” Evidence for Christianity, 2011, http://www.evidenceforchristianity.org/what-was-life-like-for-the-women-of-the-old-testamentr/ (accessed January 17, 2013).

[4] All Scripture unless otherwise noted is the updated 2011 NIV.


Misrepresented

The author and her husband have two boys and live in India. Through teaching English, she and her family work in an unreached area. Her passion is to see those that have never understood who Jesus is, come to a true understanding of his love and forgiveness!

When I think of the word ‘misrepresented’, I think how much that word is an ESL nightmare, and how difficult of a word that is! There are 3 prefixes and 1 suffix. How is it ever possible to teach an English learner what all that means? Obviously, ESL is my world right now so that’s why my thoughts go there quickly. I know most wouldn’t even think twice about all that!

My friend planted Freedom Church in Lebanon, Indiana 5 years ago. One thing God spoke to my friend is that they were planting this church because he (God) had been misrepresented and they could represent Christ in the right ways.

I appreciate that. First, I appreciate that God has entrusted people that I care about so deeply with something so huge. Second, I agree. I agree that Christ has been misrepresented in many ways. It’s an important part of a non-believers journey to belief to be able to truly understand who Christ is and what he represents. If (more likely when) parts of his character are not understood correctly, then many times it takes quite a while for those things to be ‘discovered’ as untrue and turned into truth.

But, wow, when that truth is made known inside of us…when our heart is softened and our mentality shifts? When Christ makes known His character to us, those are amazing moments.

When our understanding of him lines up more accurately with who he really is, then we can represent him more effectively.

How do we uncover those misrepresentations? How do we get to places where we understand who Christ is in relation to us personally and the rest of the world as a whole?

Discipline.

Now that’s another difficult word, I know. Not necessarily from an ESL standpoint, though! Discipline is what it takes to represent Christ well.

Discipline in our time with God, in our reading of His word so we can better understand the words he left for us.

Discipline in our attitudes and behaviors, in our priorities and discipline to do something about the lostness of our world.

In those moments when we are denying ourselves and exercising his discipline in our lives, that’s when our hearts and minds are open more to him than any other time. Those can be very hard times. Especially if it turns into a long season of discipline. It’s one thing to hold your tongue or develop a good habit of Bible reading. Add to that spending time in his presence. These are all great attributes and excellent disciplines to develop. It’s a whole other thing, when a season of discipline comes into our lives. We have to respond to God continually. This process enables us to who Christ’s character and it may be easier said than done.

Hebrews 12:7 says we are ‘to endure hardship AS discipline’ (NIV). Notice the word ‘as’. At times we skip over that word and read that passage as saying that hardship IS discipline. No. Our hardships are as discipline in our lives. We will be more fully able to represent the heart of Christ because of our discipline through enduring hardships.

“As” and “is”…may be only 1 letter different, yet it makes a tremendous difference in how we approach hardship!

We can move from misrepresenting Christ, in even small ways, to representing him with our best and with all he has for us. As we allow discipline to be more prevalent in our lives, we understand more about Christ and share that with others. That’s what it is really all about anyways, isn’t it? Sharing Christ and bringing others along on the journey.

I am very thankful to have all the SHWAG sisters on this journey together!

written by a SHWAG Sister*


The Beauty of No….

Korista Lewis is a bi-vocational Lead Pastor of Connection Church in Aberdeen WA.  She has been an ordained minister with the AG since 2007 and LOVES the Northwest Ministry Network that she calls home.  She is 33 years old, single, has embraced the runner that lived dormant inside her for so many years and is a HUGE Doctor Who fan!

It’s one of the first words we learn.

It’s one of the first directions God gives to Adam and Eve.

Moses heard it, Joshua lived with it, Jesus said it to Pharisees and Disciples alike.

Maybe you are like me.  Maybe you have found in our world of excess, our world of yes, our world of more, you are constantly trying to keep up with the woman next door or the Pastor down the street.  We so rarely use or hear the word but it is a beautiful word: No.

As women following after our Savior we desire to be people led by the Spirit.  Our hope is that God will daily grow the Fruit of the Spirit in us.  But there is one fruit we don’t like to talk about.  Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.”  Did you catch that last one?  For many years of my life I did not.  Patience: check!  Love: Most of the time! Joy: YAY! Peace: Thank the Lord he provides it! Kindness…Goodness…Faithfulness….check, check, and check!  Yet, SELF-control; wait God, you want me to exercise some sort of control over myself?  I skimmed right over it while I fed myself a steady diet of quick foods, processed snacks, over spending my money, my time, and my physical body.

Last year God started to wake me up to the excess in my life.  Physically I was extremely overweight. My schedule was jam packed with meetings, assignments, programs that my sluggish body was having trouble keeping up with.  My finances were tight, spent before my paycheck ever arrived.  This is not easy to confess and I do not say it lightly or from a place of having it all figured out.  Yet God started to say one word to me: No.  He started teaching me to say “no” to myself which was much harder than saying no to others.  In ministry I had been taught to create boundaries.  However NO to myself?  REALLY God?  Really?  You want me to deny myself the foods I love, the new pair of shoes, and the 15 meetings a week?

Really?

And He said, “Korista, really!  I want you to live a life that is available to me and you have so overfilled and overstuffed there is not room for me to direct you, to lead you and to surprise you.”

So last February I started saying “no” to myself.  And my life is fuller than ever but in the best, most healthy ways.  I love the way The Message translation expounds on “self control” it says “able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.”  All my overspending of time, money and physical health was not marshaling or directing my energy wisely.

My beautiful, courageous sisters, my question is this:

Do you need to say no to yourself today?  Is there a physical issue that would be cared for with a wise “no”?  Is there a relationship that would be healthier if you said “no” to the time you’re spending on it? Do you need to stop comforting yourself by spending constantly on stuff?

My sister, may God give you the motivation and the courage to say no to yourself today, and may His treasure of self control be evident in all areas of your life in the coming days, months, and years!

Cheering for you,

Korista

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Inadequate? But God!

Emily Hill is a licensed minister in the Assemblies of God.  She lives in Lacey, WA, and is currently embarking on an exciting new journey into ministry.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak in all four of our weekend services with two other church leaders.  I put my heart fully into what I had prepared because I know that opportunities for me to speak are few and far between, even though this is the call that God has placed on my life.

I was nervous at our Saturday night service, but I had fun.  I told my and God’s stories and shared with the world that my faith looks a little crazy sometimes.  I was the only one of the three of us who came up with five pages of notes.  In Sunday’s three services, I did my best to share this faith story, page after organized page.  The other two speakers shared from their hearts as well, but their stories changed each service.  In one service they would mention something, and then not bring it up in the next.  I wondered…  “Am I boring?  Do I really belong up here?  Are they allowing the Holy Spirit to work through them more than I?”

I felt confident in the words that I spoke, in how I delivered them, and in the consistency of my message.  And yet… those questions nagged at the back of my mind.  Secretly, I wondered if I was inadequate.

A few days later, I got a note in the mail from my pastor.  “Thank you,” it read, “for your consistency.”  He thanked me for doing what I had allowed myself to question.  It was noticed.  It was appreciated.  I was following what God wanted me to do.

When I was a kid, I was that kid who always tweaked the teacher’s projects—instead of making a turkey out of my cut out hand, I made a dog.  I bought the book the teacher was reading to the class so I could read ahead, just to know when the sad parts were coming.  I was different.  I was the teacher’s pet.  The loud mouth.  And yet I often wondered if I was inadequate.  If, perhaps, I acted like another kid, I might get further, be more successful, not be such a nerd.

But God.  That’s my response now.  But God intervened.  I often feel inadequate, but God created me to share His light in a way that is different than everyone else.  I’ll be confronted with the feeling that I’m supposed to follow the crowd, but God says “I have created YOU for a specific purpose.”  I, in my inadequacies, shout out, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor… To proclaim freedom for the captives!”  (Isaiah 61:1)

The next time you feel different, inadequate, not enough…  Remember the strength of the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord upon you.  You have been called to proclaim His good news—HE has anointed you.  Seek hard after God, Sisters.  We may be different or separate, but God!

written by Emily Hill

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