Where Does God Dwell?
Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. We in America have a freedom that you just don’t find in the rest of the world. We have freedom of speech, freedom to vote, freedom to live and go where and when we please. But most importantly we have the freedom to worship. There are many types of worship services but there is only one true God. The only way to worship Him is in spirit and truth. On a recent trip to Athens Greece and Istanbul Turkey I was able to see some of the world’s most exquisite architecture. Turkey is a country that is 95% Moslem. In Turkey there is the renowned Haggia Sophia Cathedral. It was built for the Christian community to reflect the beauty that Solomon’s Temple once beheld. In spite of its elaborate intricate handiwork full of gold mosaic tiles, marble and brick walls, it is now a museum. It also contains various artifacts derived from Greek mythology and its continence is a shadow of it’s once intended purpose. Ironically across from it is the beautiful Sultanahmet mosque. Its known as the Blue mosque due to an extravagant array of blue mosaic tiles. Adorned with its intricate splendor and statueous marble columns and stained glass windows. It is scrupulously maintained and it is a place of worship for the Moslem community. Turkey is full of ornately designed mosques and Mohammed is whom they worship.
Words cannot express my gratitude to God for the things my eyes have beheld. The scriptures continuously came to my mind as I walked through the Haggia Sophia. “God does not dwell in a temple made by hands”. “That God is coming back for a church without spot or wrinkle.” There is absolutely no doubt in my mind to the unmerited grace the Lord has bestowed upon us.
The one thing the tour guide who was of Moslem decent (in Turkey along with our guide we were required to have a Turkish guide as well) said that stuck with me was “why would a powerful God allow His Temple to turn into a museum?” My point is God is so gracious and kind that He allows us so much freedom. He even gives us the freedom to choose who or what we want to worship. When I lift up Holy Hands, to Him and Him only my heart is eternally grateful. It is by His grace and His grace alone are we saved. God is truly worthy of all the PRAISE!
In Turkey is the city of Ephesus. There are miles and miles of ruins. Original artifacts, columns etc. and remains to testify to the fact Ephesus existed. To this day approximately only 10% of it has been uncovered. It is still currently under excavation. Primitive hand tools are used in order to preserve whatever archeological finds are uncovered. Paul wrote the book of Ephesians to the church at Ephesus. Just look at God! Despite the fact Turkey is a Moslem country Ephesus remains a monument to Christians of God’s eternal presence, grace and mercy. My most invigorating moments were spent in Athens Greece. We walked up the steep incline to the Acropolis saturated with aged columns made of marble. The Parthenon and majestic ruins were filled with slippery marble laden paths.
The highlight of our trip was when I observed my husband climb “Mars Hill”. In a foreign country one must be cautious. After my husband determined that it was safe I too climbed the hill and we both joyously praised GOD! This is the infamous Mars Hill that the Apostle Paul speaks about in the book of Acts give you a marvelous panoramic view. When we first approached Mars Hill there was a woman preaching. I found this to be quite interesting because years before when I was called to ministry a woman being a minister was not readily accepted. This was confirmation just how good GOD truly is. I was sure of the call on my life to minister but I was also very sure that I did not have to be restricted to the doctrines of a denomination but to the “Word of God!” Acts tells us “And it will come to pass in the last days saith God I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.” Paul spoke concerning an altar with an inscription representing the unknown god on Mars Hill. That unknown God is the God I love, worship and adore. The only true and living God. The GREAT “I AM!” Mars Hill today is in a magnificent open place. High above Athens for all to see. (I will forever cherish what it felt like sitting there and praising God for all He has done!) It’s walls and canopy are the blue firmament that God Himself spoke into existence through the Word. That Word is Jesus Christ wrapped in flesh. Who sacrificed His life for the sins of the entire world!
The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church of God. Glory! Glory! His truth is marching on!
“The earth truly is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof the world and them that dwell therein.” There is not a place that can be built that can contain the fullness of His majestic awesomeness. The early church had no building they met in homes. We have dedicated our home to be a place where God’s way prevails. The heart of each of His Children is where His true Church abides. There is nothing wrong with a church made by hands. But the focal point should not be a hierarchy laden with cliques, clichés, how do we pay our bills programs and solemn auxiliaries; a mere shadow of what God originally intended.
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.” We should praise Him in song, word and deeds. We are not saved by works. But our works display our faith. Our main focus should be to cultivate and environment where God receives the preeminence. It is God’s Word and His power that will draw men and change their lives when we spread His Gospel. Whether it be via T.V., radio, internet, song or the spoken word. TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!!
President Jimmy Carter & Women in Ministry
I am once again happy to see that President Jimmy Carter is in the news. But not for his political views. At least not concerning the U.S. Government. But his views as far as the Church are concerned. He has been a member of the Southern Baptist for many decades. After (60) sixty years he has taken an adamant , publicly visible stand and decided to part company. He does not subscribe to many of their doctrinal beliefs.
There is a belief among the leadership of the Southern Baptist clergy that women are to be restricted and forbidden to be ordained. They in fact believe that our position as women is to basically appease our husbands, be subservient and attend to the non leadership issues that arise as a subordinate. I have always found this interesting. I have in the past regularly attended their services. But have always been concerned with this very issue. As women you can participate in the “Women’s Ministry” teach Sunday School, work with the youth , usher, talk about the Lord but you cannot become an ordained minister.
I find this so very interesting because this does not only exist in the Southern Baptist it existed among the Traditional Baptist as well where we attended FAITHFULLY and generouly supported for many years. It has changed among Baptist somewhat in some places. But there is a definite discrimination that takes place I know this firsthand. To keep women in their place or else. You can be a Minister at home? The C.M.E. Methodist have allowed women to the forefront because they are losing ground and dwindling in numbers. They allow women to become ordained but are still quite controlling. The male clergy in general tend to be very ritualistic, condescending and dominating they allow women to participate by doing the things they deem appropiate.
Is it not God that calls us or anyone for that matter to ministry? Is He not “a respecter of persons?” The Word says “He will pour out His Spirit on ALL flesh.” Male or female! Did not the Lord use a donkey to speak to Balaam his prophet who was overcome by his love for the world and money? Balaam according to the Word taught Balak “to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and commit sexual immorality…” ( See Revelations 2) Balaam allowed himself to be used by baal and caused 24,000 people to be killed. The point is; The Lord can use whomever He pleases. Certainly if the Lord used a donkey to warn his prophet of his sudden death if he continued to proceed; He can use women inside or outside of the walls? I could go on but my point is God never intended for the Church to just be housed in a building of brick and mortar. The building is a dedicated place to come to gather or assemble! God’s Church is the Universal Church of believers who are people throughout the world from every tongue and nation.
I can testify first hand to the underhanded discrimination and outright mistreatment of women within the Church that President Jimmy Carter is standing “UP” for! If you choose to participate then you must subject yourself to the whims of the “man in charge!” Who makes it clear that it is his call and vision you serve? I have personally found it to be true what President Carter stated in his essay
“At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.”
And, later said
“The truth is that male religious leaders have had — and still have — an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. “
When I finished Seminary there was no women being ordained in ministry within our congregation. You could teach Sunday School, be a clerk, become a Trustee, or sing in the choir, or be a Deaconess? There was only one ordained female minister in the whole entire city that I knew of at the time. She had at one time been the choir director but was not allowed to sit in the pulpit were we worshipped whenever she returned to visit. It has changed to some degree. But many of the same chauvinistic issues are still there. It was not out in the open most of the time for all to see. I was just blacklisted and overlooked and labeled. Hmm like jealous, unyielding, wanting to be… as well as unteachable, self serving and …. which is so far from the Truth!
To some degree a few of my supposed “sisters” in the Lord were used to oppress me and make sure I was limited since I did not bow to the authority to the “man in charge.” They were used as examples to me and show me what was possible if I went along with the head. But they could do as they pleased because they would do whatever it took even if it included … Of course I could participate in the “Women’s Ministry.” And yes many would seek me for counseling still. But there was a definite unspoken no to limit me in ministry. So I calmly protested silently. Instead I opted to support my own husband within the ministry and just made a point to Worship and Praise the Lord in “Spirit and in TRUTH.” They were vigilante in their efforts to isolate and discredit me. No doubt my husband was also penalized within ministry because of my position. I can boldly say I have acquired much Patience and have great Peace knowing that the Lord knows my sincere intentions as well as the TRUTH!
After I graduated seminary I was ordained by the University’s Chancellor who confirmed my call. Who too wanted me to support him and just become his assistant. Therefore my husband and I continued to attend were we worshipped for a while faithfully and eventually founded and embraced the concept of “Ministry Beyond The Walls.” It is so true “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is LIBERTY.” I say this because I know first hand. I have lived it! But through it all my fervor, steadfastness, personal and public love for the Lord and devotion has grown tremendously! I can truly say I love the Lord more each day. Their oppressiveness just showed me where I did not want to be. I even tried to support those who wanted to participate in the “Center Stage ” of it all. (That is another story in itself) I also realize that once we ALL have completed this course of life we will have to give an account to the Lord for our actions. Praise God!
Therefore I applaud President Jimmy Carter for taking such a noble Stand. As a woman I hold ALL of the Lord’s Word dear to my heart. Inside and outside the walls. I can say that I love being “His child” and a Minister of His GOSPEL! No need to sit in a high chair. I Peter says; “… For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. Wives , likewise, be submissive to your own hubands, that even if some do not obey the WORD, they without a word,may ne won over by the conduct of the wives, when they Observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear…”
I love this scripture because I know who my Shepherd is. “The Lord is My SHEPHERD!” I have no problem with authority! I have no problem with submitting when it does not go against the Lord ‘s Word as well as obeying the laws of the land! If you read the passage of scripture in I PETER slowly again it says to be subject to your own husband not everyone else’s! Think about that for a moment. When Peter refers to us as the “weaker” vessel this is not at all to infer that we are weaker Spiritually. Ephesians assures us “We can be Strong in the Lord and the Power of HIS…..”
The Bible speaks of the women as the “weaker” vessel because we are built differently and naturally tend to be more emotional. I love being a woman and all it entails! If you listen closely you will see that this is a position of STRENGTH as we embrace self control we are able to do this through His Holy Spirit! When a husband does not obey the Lord you can win him over… Without even speaking if need be. The husband prayers are hindered when he mistreats his wife… Read this passage slowly and again if necessary. This is Powerful! By the way this does not mean using manipulation! God truly is awesome!
We live in a nation and a world that is constantly shifting away from God’s principles and many within God’s Church have enlisted and embraced worldly ways, concepts and methods in their attempts to control and dominate God’s people! Lord Help US!
Therefore I applaud President Jimmy Carter because he has brought an issue to the Light that many skirt or avoid. The question for Carter — and for others who find themselves at odds with leadership — is, when a group you’re deeply involved in starts to move away from your own core beliefs, do you stay and try to change from within or, at some point, do you have to look for the exit?
This is the question that each individual must deal with it may be considered spiritual suicide to go against the ideology of an organized religion. But when you really think about it this is how and why we have so many denominations! Some things will just not be understood on this side of HEAVEN! Protesting by sitting down or moving away from oppression can help you move closer to a growing rewarding inner satisfying relationship with the Lord. It frees you to live each and every day for the Lord! Especially when you know that Christ is not coming back for a church made by hands. But He is coming back for HIS CHURCH! Because according to the Lord’s Word there is still “One Lord, One Faith … and One Church which by the way belongs to Him! To GOD Be The GLORY!