Friday, March 27, 2009

BELIEVING FOR CHANGE: THE DAUGHTERS OF ZELOPHEHAD

In the 27th Chapter of the book of Numbers, there is the story of five sisters who made a difference in the lives of women. Their names are Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. It was all about the economics. It appears that most real change or systematic change relates to justice and the distribution of a fair share. These women went before Moses to protest the law that only men could have access to property upon the death of a father. These women are movers and shakers. They are life changers.

Do you remember how in the book of Exodus, the 18th chapter, Moses’ father-in-law, Jehtro, helped Moses to put into place what I will call “District Courts”? These sisters moved from “Family Court”, to community court or “Circuit Court”, to “District Court”. Following this train of thought, one may then conclude that when they came before Moses they were before the “Supreme Court”. Change is a process.

I believe these women went through what every life changer goes through. They probably experienced ridicule. More than likely, someone told them to leave the established laws alone. Someone may have told them that they were asking for too much. I am pretty sure that someone suggested they ought to stay in their place. And, those who remain true to what “is” probably uttered words like, “It ain’t goin’ to happen”.

Take our newly elected president, President Barak Obama, the first African American to hold the office in the United States of American as an example. Every thought that he presented was challenged. He was too much pie in the sky. He was too inexperienced. He wasn’t politically savvy enough. Some people said, “It’s just not time for a Black president; just wait”. Change only comes by changing our thoughts and discovering a way to pursue the change.

Change only comes when someone is willing to fight for it. For systematic change to happen, somebody has to have enough faith to keeping moving. Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah had to form an Association of Determination. They would not accept “NO”! I could suggest that these five women were the first Women’s Suffrage Group. And, you know what the first of anything has to go through, don’t you? Making change requires almost everything about us to be tested. Whether it is changing one’s self or a system, the change will only come when we are willing to go beyond the normal.

Out of curiosity, I looked up the meaning of the names of these five progressive women. I thought it might give us a clue as to why they dared to move forward to change the conditions of women and ultimately a nation. The following Hebrew meanings are found in Strong’s Analytical Concordance: Mahlah means disease; Noah means motion; Hoglah means partridge; Milcah means counsel; Tirzah means favorable.

Might I suggest that, like Fannie Lou Hammer, Mahlah was sick and tired of being sick and tired of the established injustices? Noah understood that faith without action is dead. Hoglah looked at her small size and realized that with God it is always bigger than us. Milcah brings her gifts of wisdom and knowledge to the table. He is a mighty good counselor. Tirzah reminds us that one day of favor is better than a hundred years of labor


To accomplish change, we need five graces: (1) We’ve got to be sick and tired of how it is. Using Les Brown’s words, “we’ve got to be hungry,” for change. (2) Change requires action. Put a move on it. (3) According to scripture, we must not despise small beginnings. One step is many steps. Do it today. Today is the future. (4) Seek out counsel. Find mentors and supporters. (5) Trust that, in spite of the criticisms, somebody needs the change(s) you are seeking. Favorable conditions will soon emerge.

These five sisters offer us an opportunity to believe in the power of unity. Unity is not the same as uniformity. Unity might suggest that each of them were different, but their desire for the change was focused in unison. They went before Moses with one agenda that would bless each of them individually. They went together. They stood together. They knew they were right. And, God said to Moses, “The daughters speak right.”

Righteous causes require much, but in the end they are right! Change for change’s sake is nothing, but change for justice is God.


QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
What five women have made changes that you are benefiting from?
What woman are you criticizing because she is not the status quo?
What five sisters are you consulting with to make a change?

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SAVING OUR CHILDREN, ESPECIALLY OUR SONS: A Wise Mother’s Perception – Jochebed

Exodus 2
1And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi.
2And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.
Jochebed is the mother of Moses, the deliverer of the Israelites. We’ve heard the story of Moses. We’ve sat for hours during the Easter season watching the Ten Commandments, as Charlton Heston portrays the character of Moses. I propose that the story could not have emerged, had not Jochebed recognized the giftedness and purpose of Moses’ life. She saw something worth saving in the eyes of her child. She saw goodliness. She saw purpose. It has been said that she who rocks the cradle controls the world. As it was in the beginning, so it is today.
Women continue to nurture, train, and condition children from early childhood for their greatness. In our modern times in America, it is rare that mothers are faced with the issue of saving their children from overt dangers. Rather, mothers struggle against covert systems that foster poor education, child molestation, sexual difference, infant mortality, and a host of other morays that destroy children.
We are bombarded day and night with stories of mothers who kill and maim their children. It leaves us in horror. The search for little Caylee Anthony finally ended, and an indictment for murder was issued for her mother. The killing of young Julian King, nephew of Academy Award recipient, Jennifer Hudson, tears the hearts of millions. His mother, Julia wrote, “Now because I chose to do what was natural to me and love someone, it cost me my family... my only son, Julian, my innocent baby.”
Jochebed is a good mother. She reminds us that we must be valiant in saving, protecting and directing the lives of our children. Moses was conceived when the system in control was fearful of allowing the growth of intelligent and strong sons. The influence of mothers in developing their children is paramount to creating and maintaining a strong world. In this story, I saw that there was a direct attack against sons. This caused me to consider the plight of minority sons, especially African American sons.
The first lesson in watching Jochebed is that she obeyed the law of the land. The Egyptian Pharaoh commanded that the Israelite sons were to be cast into the river (Exodus 1:22). So, she placed her son in the river. By obeying the law of the land, she was in a position to watch God perform miracles despite the enemy’s attempt to destroy. African American and other minority families in America are often faced with placing their children in inadequate situations and conditions. Inadequate housing, inadequate schooling, inadequate medical provisions, and inadequate equality and justice all appear to be the plight of minorities and the poor. Jochebed teaches us that, though we obey the law, we can seek correction through the system. It was the Pharaoh’s daughter who was involved in Moses’ salvation. We must participate in the system.
Jochebed then teaches us that we should always have a concerned watchman close by our children. We must return to community support in guiding our children’s welfare. Miriam was Moses’ sister. She represents that family and community involvement are necessary tools to protecting the lives of our children.
Education remains a premier key to the growth of exceptional children. Notice that Jochebed gave Moses the best education that money could buy. But, she didn’t just stop with the education that money could buy. Pharaoh (the system) could only do so much. She involved herself in Moses education. Saving our children must be about more than what money can buy. Yes, finance plays a great part in modern education. But, while we are fighting for smaller classrooms, we must remember that generations were taught in one room schoolhouses. Children succeeded and became doctors, lawyers, educators, and scientists, even in the back woods. The expectation of excellence was instilled in the children.
Salvation of our sons requires instilling them with a thirst for knowledge. While our sons are floating on the waters of ignorance, and the ninth grade is when they often choose to discontinue their education, we must find a way to create a thirst for education. When our sons are expected to fall victims to low self-esteem, low expectations, and low vision, they are delivered to systems of punishment. They are doomed to serve Pharaoh in his prisons. Jochebed tells us that, as mothers, we must make Pharaoh accountable to us. The plight of our children, and especially our sons in this X generation, demands that we adhere to Jochebed’s training:
(1) From birth, prepare to teach the child his (goodliness) purpose.
(2) Watch for a way of escape to protect your child(ren).
(3) Seek to ensure a responsible community for children.
(4) Involve ourselves in the education of our children.
(5) Seek to make the systems accountable to children.
(6) Know the potential of the system to help or to destroy, and fight for children’s rights.
THOUGHTS FOR DISCUSSION:
Arrange for sons to speak with Men of Integrity and Power
Adopt a school through your church or organization
Discover how many boys in grades 1 – 4 are failing in your neighborhood
and create a program of excellence to assist them.
Recommendation: Giants In Training

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Women of Influence - Samaritan Women

St. John 4:1-43, describes a close encounter of a woman with Jesus. This passage has been preached many times in various ways, Usually, though the woman has been depicted as a prostitute. She is often shown as a woman that other women would have nothing to do with. She is often the brunt of spiritual conversations related to adultery. Based on verses 14 - 18, the text is often construed as the woman being unclean, or in sin with a man, who was not her husband. Most often, that is how the Samaritan woman is depicted. Yet, the scriptures never say that she was a prostitute or a woman of ill repute.

I would like to share some of my thinkings on this passage. First, I wish to take note of the fact that throughout the new testament there is no other passage where Jesus spends as much time speaking with any individual, male or female. For approximately, 20 of the 43 verses, Jesus is in conversation with this Samaritan woman. So, I believe that I can authentically say that Jesus doesn't mind talking with women. He shares with them in long, thorough conversation. He's not afraid to be in their presence, in spite of cultural, theological, or gender specific gargon.

For our discussion, I want to zero in on what I consider very pertinent verses of scripture. As I said I have heard this story preached with this woman usually portrayed as a woman of ill repute, an adulterer. Most times, we zero in on the part where Jesus expressed to her that the one who she is with is not her husband. That is the point that I've heard most often. But, what impressed me is that Jesus said to the woman, "you speak the truth," vs.18. Someone once said to me, that if we would just be honest, God would take who we are and our situations and work a wonderful work. But, how often are we afraid to witness the truth, because of the fear of what others will think of us. This is a great phenomena in the Church. People live as if they have and are always doing what's right. Yet with all of our shabby depiction of her -- This woman is known by God as a honest woman.

(2) I love that this woman used her gifts. She had the gift of discernment. She perceived that Jesus was a prophet. Just by using the gifts God has given us should lead us to better gifts.

(3) I love that this woman was teachable. She had an understanding. She shared that understanding with Jesus, but as a student, she left room to move into transformation. She was a seeker. We often get that that we know and never seek for anything higher. Her sense of questioning in the presence of Jesus inspires me. The scriptures imply that if we seek him with our all, then we will find Him. Learning, growing, transforming is not an unmovable thought pattern. Revelation knowledge comes when we are in THE PRESENCE willing to be taught by the Holy One. And, because she was willing to grow in the presence of Jesus, she evanglized a whole community with the TRUTH ABOUT WORSHIPING GOD.

(4) This woman lived in a culture and time when women were looked down upon. Women were thought to be discouraged by God and man. Yet, the 28 vs. says she went directly to the men of the city, Proverbs 31 describes them as they that sat at the gate. She Speaks to them. This woman speaks to the men, and according to my understanding of the scriptures, there is not one word about them not believing her. She had a repretation for being truthful - honest, full of integrity. Before they even met Jesus, they counted on her word. I like that this woman took a whole new AGENDA and understanding to her community. She didn't go through a bunch of committees. She didn't seek out the politically correct way. She didn't discuss it with the theologians of her day. She shared the TRUTH to change this community. She went in her integrity - A whole community was transformed. copyright dls

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION:
Have there been any transformations in your family, your job, your church, your community because of your integrity? If so, share how you impacted them.

Is there some woman (person) that you are discounting because of your perceived sins in them?:

What woman do you know who has demonstrated influence in your community? Share how she has done this.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mentoring: Speaking Power Into the Lives of Women - Deborah

The 4th and 5th Chapters of Judges share with us the story of a multitalented and gifted woman of God named Deborah. Deborah is one of my favorite characters in the scriptures. I guess you could say that it is because I am her namesake. Yes, when I was very young I came to appreciate myself through reading about this powerful woman of God.

In the survey of bible stories concerning women, Deborah is noted as one with great authority. She is able to judge. She causes others to make righteous decisions. She is among only a few women listed in scripture who is noted as giving instructions to men, especially to Barak, a commander of Israel's army.

Barak tells Deborah that he will go to war only if she will lead him. In itself is a potent statement coming from a male counterpart. But what impressed me was her statement to him. She said, "I will surely go with you, Barak, but you won't receive the glory". She then continues by saying that the victory or the glory, will come by the hand of a woman. For our discussion I would like to point out the impact Deborah has on the life of another woman.

At first glance, you might think that Deborah is speaking about her own powerful abilities. You could possibly entertain the thought that since Deborah is going to war with Barak, she is claiming the victory for herself. After all, she will be on the battlefield risking her life and taking her chances against Sisera's army. By the way, Sisera had won several battles against the Israelites. Deborah could be caught up in having her name more renown in the land. She could be concerned with keeping the status quo of being the only, or first, woman to command men in battle. Yes, Deborah says, the battle will be won by the hand of a woman. Yet, she looks beyond herself and sees the possibility of another woman.

Remember that Deborah is God's called woman. She is a prophetess. This means that she is gifted with the gifts of discernment, seeing ahead, and speaking into existence. So, I believe that she sees a young woman who she believes capable of obtaining victory. She sees Jael, and rather than keep the victory for herself, she releases Jael to her strengths. She sees her. She believes in her. She speaks up for her.

The scripture does not speak explicitly of Deborah and Jael as knowing each other. But through reading the whole text, you will see that Deborah has knowledge of Jael. My point is that women who are in power must empower others. Yes, we are great corporate queens. Yes, we are great administrators both at the corporate and religious boards. But all that I know about growing the kingdom requires that we teach others. Discipleship demands that we train others concerning the things we have observed. (Mat.28:19,20).

Deborah shows us how to delegate responsibility. But what I deem most important about Deborah is her ability to celebrate another woman. Deborah writes a song of praise unto the Lord. She celebrates Jael's giftedness. She expresses pleasure at the works of another. She sings praises. She is not afraid to tell others about Jael's abilities. She is not afraid that Jael's accomplishments will thwart her own abilities. copyright dls.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION:
Are you making room for someone else to grow?
Are you telling others in power about another sister?
Are you celebrating the accomplishments of other women?

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Ministry Marketing Mindset Session Six (of 8)

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