S01 E02 : Pink, not Pinky

And by that I mean, the pinky finger! The smallest, most pretty looking and most insignificant finger. In an overcrowded world where everyone is fighting for a voice and for space, I want to begin by saying, woman to woman, you may be pink but you’re not the pinky. You are definitely not made for the last, you’re made to last! Our purple colored God, when He made humans in His own image, just took some of the blue out of the purple that He was and made man, and took the pink out of the purple
and made woman.

Genesis 1:26 ESV
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion..” It’s interesting to note here that the Hebrew word for man (Adam) is the generic term for mankind and is used as the proper name Adam. It doesn’t denote the word meaning ‘male’, but stands for humanity or a human being. And that’s why God blessed and multiplied ‘them’, not him.

Genesis 5:2 ESV
Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man (Adam) when they were created. God named ‘them’ Adam! Them together! Both Male and Female were called Adam.

Genesis 2:23 KJVS And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman (feminine form of a mortal being), because she was taken out of Man. Now, this is the first time ever in the story of creation that there is a distinction shown between the genders, where the root word for man isn’t Adam but Iysh, which means male and woman is ‘Iyshah’, the opposite of male. As the splitting image of a spirit being, that is, God the Holy
Spirit, we are gender less spirit beings first before physical beings defined by gender in our capabilities for a specific
task, because here’s the thing: It takes both man and woman to represent God. That’s why, when Jesus talks of the afterlife, He describes how we would attain our original form that was lost in the garden of Eden, that we would be like angels, spirit beings that aren’t identified through a gender.

Luke 20:34-36 [NLT] Jesus replied, “…But in the age to come…they will never die again. In this respect they will be like angels. They are children of God and children of the resurrection. And that’s why, when the task at hand given to Adam (both male and female) was to have dominion over the earth, the
Bible says-
Genesis 2:18 [ESV]
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
Genesis 2:18 [ISV] Later, the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make the woman to be an authority corresponding to him.” How could someone be a helper to another had one not been equal to the other? How could a lower form of mankind ‘help’ the supposed superior? Think about it.

 

Pastor Rashmi Varghese from Bangalore Revival Center is our guest author for this week. God has been using her powerfully to impact lives in Bangalore and across various other cities. This blog is a continuation of  a previous blog piece by her, titled ‘My Pink God’. If you haven’t read ‘My Pink God’, click here- My Pink God

The Syrophenician Woman- A New Testament Shadow to the Gentiles

The Syrophenician Woman- A New Testament Shadow to the Gentiles

An unnamed woman gets introduced in the gospel of Mathew 15 and again in Mark 7. St. Mathew calls her a Canaanite woman and St. Mark attributes her as a Syrophenician Greek. Jesus compares her to a dog.

“And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.”- Mathew 15:22,23

I feel almost embarrassed to see how Jesus behaves with this woman who is clearly suffering. He says He has been sent only for the lost sheep of Israel. His demeanor shows He isn’t available for or interested in helping her. His response to her request was first silence and then an excuse. Neither of which inspires confidence, much less worship.

And yet this is her response.
“Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” –Mathew 15:25

Jesus was getting closer to his betrayal, suffering, and death on the cross. In a little while, He was about to die for this very woman and the rest of the world. His sacrifice was about to rip away the veil that separated God and man. So why did he treat her so poorly?

“It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”

This interaction would mostly leave me with an impression of an unfair God. In her place, my response would have probably been to raise accusations against the indifferent God of the Jews.
But then she said,
“Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.
I can’t tell exactly why Jesus behaved this way. But the account leaves me with a sense of marvel at the concept of faith according to Jesus as expressed here.
What was her faith? When Jesus confronted her with her inadequacy in receiving anything from Him, she did not respond with blame or disappointment with God. She did not grumble as Israel did in the wilderness. She did not walk away. She held on to one thing- the goodness of God.
Her response acknowledged that she was not worthy of help. She didn’t have the right to receive. She accepted that the salvation came for the chosen people, God’s elect, the seed of Abraham but she held on to the overflow of grace that the Jews received and she staked her claim to partake of it.
All salvation is salvation through God’s covenant with Abraham. It traces back to Genesis when God makes a covenant with Abraham saying “And in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12.3)
Her argument here is simply one of humility, perseverance, and truth. Yes, I am an unworthy foreigner. But Your grace abounds toward Israel and through Your promise of salvation for them, I receive salvation by faith. She didn’t question his goodness and his grace but instead, she depended on it.
A test of faith often brings us to our knees admitting our lack of credentials but also gives us an opportunity to express our steady confidence in the promise God has extended to us. When I look at this incident, I see God working in her to establish a new shadow for all the believers that come after her. I am able to see not an unfair God but a God working to reveal His heart to us through faith and actions of people like this gentile woman, encouraging us to trust in Him, to be humble before Him and to believe in His goodness especially when our faith is tested.

Lessons From Joseph – Part 3

Lessons From Joseph – Part 3

In our previous blog, we saw how Joseph found the right perspective as well as his purpose even when he was nowhere near the dreams that he had dreamt as a child. Imprisoned for a crime he did not commit, Joseph did not become dysfunctional and withdrawn, but he viewed his circumstances as a training ground where he was being prepared for the responsibilities that accompanied God’s promise. Today, let’s examine Joseph’s response to the different people who were a part of his incredible story.

There is always an opening for disappointment when we live on this earth among imperfect people. Yet, we are created to live in peace with all that’s around us, to live not as a reaction to fallen nature of men, but as a response to our lover Jesus, and the love He carries for others around us. This is the key to maintain healthy relationships. Joseph could’ve cried about his background, the crimes committed upon him. But he never complained neither about his brother’s betrayal and being sold by them to the Ishmaelites, nor about those who framed him of something as major as an attempt to rape, or even the chief of the butler forgetting the service Joseph had done for him. None of this stopped him from influencing or revealing God to those around him, even after so many years. The only reason being He had found God to be his everything, and that no matter what when he looked back on his journey He gave thanks to God who had orchestrated everything for good. 45:7-8.

In my life, I have always found myself in places where I never planned or imagined to be. At the time, I didn’t know the significance of those placements, but now, many things make sense looking at the completed journey. Sometimes not every reason is revealed at the very moment. Yet I would like you to know that God is setting you up for an elevation. If the butler had spoken of Joseph to the Pharaoh immediately, then maybe he would’ve gotten out immediately. But God was setting him up to influence, to serve a whole nation, for something much bigger than himself. Our purpose and callings are always bigger than us, but everything we need is already within us. Even when we are in the similar places in life, let’s assure and reassure ourselves that we are in God’s hands. Let’s stay tender and walk with him finding our purpose in the present with an elevated perspective of seeing what God is doing through it all. (Jer. 29:11)

The ultimate proof of His love and care for you was showcased on the cross. You are loved, accepted and everything concerning you and me has been made perfect because of Jesus’ sacrifice. Unlike the chosen few of the old covenant, all of us in the new covenant are called to live in God’s presence, experiencing, communing and dwelling with the Spirit of God.

No matter what your circumstances are, bring your mind to a place where you know you are guarded in Him, having faith that He is the One who has ordered your steps, finding purpose in your present, and experiencing Christ as your ultimate reward. This intimate life is made possible through the beautiful sacrifice of our lover Jesus on the cross all because God so loved us and the world.

 

Lessons from Joseph – Part 2

Lessons from Joseph – Part 2

In last week’s blog we saw how God’s presence granted Joseph favour and elevation at Potiphar’s house, the prison and the palace. No matter where he was placed Joseph excelled and influenced because God blessed him to have higher standards than others. Another lesson from Joseph to us lies in how Joseph’s experiences prepared him for his purpose.

The graph of Joseph’s life was dramatically crooked with sheer highs and lows. After his brothers betrayal came slavery and just when everything was going well with him at Potiphar’s house, Potiphar’s wife framed him and he was imprisoned, not just in any prison, but the place where the king’s prisoners were bound. The Lord was with Joseph in every rise and dip of his life.

In Genesis 39 we see how Joseph found favour and oversaw the matters of the very prison he was held at. From Genesis 40 onwards, we see how God’s hand uses Joseph in interpreting the dreams of the chief butler and chief baker who were imprisoned with Joseph. When Joseph’s interpretation was proven right he asks the butler to remember him.  The butler takes 2 years to remember Joseph when the Pharaoh’s dream turns strange. At this point we see, God orchestrated events such that no man, but Joseph could interpret the Pharaoh’s dream and this lead to Joseph stepping into a massively influential place, being the ruler over all of Egypt.

Even in the prison, Joseph had the right perspective and found purpose in the present. The bible says that while he served time in the jail the Lord prospered everything he did. We often become dysfunctional when we live believing that a particular place or country or a stage is required for us to reach out or serve or influence. But the truth is we, living from the truth of our position in Christ Jesus and reminding ourselves that our identity is not in the titles of the world but being the sons and daughters of God, makes us efficient and raises our standard of service. This attracts favour and more influence to reveal more of Jesus and the culture of heaven wherever we are placed.

Another thing we noticed was the chief butler failed to remember Joseph for two years, even though all of what he interpreted came to pass. But at the appointed time, the king had a dream and when nobody could interpret it, the man with the Spirit of God was already trained and prepared to step up and take charge to act with wisdom in the face of calamity.

Notice that it was not the destination of being the ruler over Egypt that is emphasised in this story but Joseph’s lifestyle throughout every dip and rise of his journey. What is revealed here is not just the palace or ruler’s position, but the posture of his heart-to serve and reveal and glorify God. The preparation throughout, enabled him to stand before the king and reveal the greatness of God.

Joseph teaches us to see our circumstances as the training ground where we are moulded to uphold the responsibility that accompanies the promises given to us by God. Joseph shows us that it is indeed possible to hold onto God’s promises even when our reality may seem to be the stark opposite. The purpose of the present pressure is to prepare you to push back against the pressures of the power that you will inevitably face.

Lessons from Joseph – Part 1

Lessons from Joseph – Part 1

Joseph’s story begins with a boy and depicts his growth into a young man of influence.

How can we relate this story to real life? Starting off from Joseph being sold as a slave to Ishmaelites(Genesis 37:28) after which the Ishmaelites brought him to Egypt and there he was bought by Pharaoh’s officer, Potiphar (Genesis 39:1 onwards), where he found favour, prospered and was successful in all he did. All of this was because the Lord was with Joseph and this was most evident in the scriptures (Gen. 39:4).

So Joseph found favour in Potiphar’s sight, and he served him well. His master made him supervisor over his entire household and Potiphar put all that he had in Joseph’s charge.  The revelation from this chapter of his life and growth is about how the one constant, i.e, Gods presence, brought him elevation, promotion, favour, influence in his life. Its relatable to most of us and as Christians, we don’t go to our workplaces or colleges, or anywhere we are placed, just to benefit ourselves and to be served. Rather, we go with a purpose to influence and to operate from a position to serve others as we carry the presence of God in us.

 Joseph was bought as a slave, but still found favour and had influence because of the presence of God. When the pursuit of our heart is to do everything according to God standards and to being lead by Him, and the desire to build and make every place look more like Him, we also will be noticed and given greater portions and influence.

 For example, when everybody around you finds a reason to blame the authorities and complain about their circumstances, you can stay grateful and faithful, knowing it is God who ordains your steps. When we renew our mind to our position and identity in Christ, it will enable us to reveal more of Jesus as it fills us with joy peace and hope.

 Dear brothers and sisters, in every place you are at, hold an elevated standard, not unto men but as unto God, and this comes from a place of being aware of the purpose in the present.

S01:E01 My Pink God

S01:E01 My Pink God

I’ve always thought me to be a girl..when I was born, the docs confirmed me as an absolutely truly XX chromosome member of the species.

Nonetheless, and here’s the tough part, it’s so departed from the socially accepted definition of a woman, the picture of poised perfection, the sari-clad superwoman, meek and mighty, who stands on the pinnacle of a mound of achievements at the end of the day, behind the man whose surname she’s got.

However, welcome to my world, my head. I love math! My artwork looks like the diagram of the digestive system. I manage to scramble egg for breakfast, change the conked light bulb, and fix the dripping water tap at home. I dislike doing laundry, and I’ve pricked myself enough number of times trying to sew buttons onto shirts that I have sworn to only wear T-shirts. But I’m a woman!

So then..what is the definition of a woman? Is it what I have to do, how I have to feel or have to behave? Because if yes, then who gets to decide what is the “correct way” for a woman to be?

There’s a whole debate that has been ravaging the Believer’s world. It’s the debate that’s gone on for centuries. It’s the debate that always brings something new or something we may have accepted and believed in, but may not always be true.

More close to the heart of the debate, can a woman be a pastor? Can she be a leader? Can she be a head? THE head? Can she BE ALLOWED to do something that she CAN do, is capable of doing, is equipped to do?

Before we talk about women in ministry, let’s talk about the Creator of women in ministry, that is God.

The Bible talks about God in some descriptive ways

Isaiah 66:13 ESV
As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

Isaiah 49:14-15 ESV
But Zion said, “… Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”

Psalm 131:2 ESV
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.

Hosea 13:8 ESV
I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs;

Isaiah 42:14 NLT
..But now, like a woman in labor, I will cry and groan and pant.

John 11:35 ESV
Jesus wept.

That’s the God of the Bible, in a picture that’s so departed from the socially accepted definition of a masculine God, the scene of muscle wielding, sceptre thumping, lightning throwing terror on the throne.

Hmmm…so seriously thinking, this side of God is so strongly feminine it just cannot be ignored, because as much as we are used to the idea of a ‘He’ God, our spirit God is a genderless being. The attributes He possesses cannot be tied down to any sort, because the personality and the characteristics of God, who He is, and what He carries, are beyond what a gender can define or confine it to be.

He just IS these inherent qualities, of power and love, of severity and tenderness, of law and grace, of discipline and comfort, of the head and the heart working in tandem, and so much more, that look like contrasts to our finite human mind, but are actually complements, missing jigsaw puzzles that fit so perfectly when seen in the light of the big picture.

And this purple coloured God, when He made humans in His own image, he just took some of the blue out of the purple that He was and made a man, and took the pink out of the purple and made a woman.

Ps. Rashmi Varghese from Bangalore Revival Center is our Guest Author for this week, God has been using her powerfully to impact lives in Bangalore and across various other cities!