So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
The voice is a powerful thing. Whether it’s a voice saying you aren’t good enough or the voice of God saying He created you for a purpose and He knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb — the voice to which you lend your ear may be the prism through which you form your identity. For many, many years there was an invisible voice screaming in my ear, telling me I wasn’t good enough. The voice told me that all I should ever expect is to only be second best. When I started dating, I always settled for the guys that were hung up on another girl. I settled, because I believed the lies that the voice repeated in my ear, that second best was as good as I deserved.
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
I John 4:4
There was a season when I was having a great internal battle in my spirit between the lies I had come to believe and the Truth of Christ I was chasing with all my heart. Although I had encouraging parents that believed in me, there was a battle of voices; the loud, invisible, external voice that was trying to hold me back, and the still small voice in me that spoke gently and lovingly saying, “I love you; you are fearfully and wonderfully made.” One day during this season, I was really struggling with this identity of not being good enough. I was exhausted from putting on the façade that I had it all together and that everything was okay. I was broken and I needed healing from the inside out. Through a friend at church and her father, I was invited to hear a prophetess speak that was visiting a church some 50 miles away. After accepting their invitation, I had looked forward to going to hear her all day. But when we began the drive to the church, that voice that had haunted me for years said, “She’s not going to know what’s going on with you; she won’t have a word for you.” I had talked myself out of going to the altar for a blessing.
Fortunately, my friend and her father persuaded me to go up to the altar since I had come all that way. As soon as the prophetess laid hands upon me, I was broken by the Voice of the Holy Spirit speaking through her. The Voice of God through His prophetess said to me, “You are not a second-hand rose, you are not a second-hand rose.” Ten times she spoke that phrase. She went on to break the power of the past words that had been spoken over me which had placed me in a box. As soon as she started speaking, I just started crying. Through her, I heard the Voice of the Father. She knew exactly what was in my heart. No one but the Father could have known the battle that was raging in my mind and in my soul and how impactful and true her words were. I knew she had heard from God. The words she spoke broke a complacency and willingness in me to settle for second best. Although the enemy has continued his attempts to keep me in the box, a Truth greater than he that is in the world has screamed, “NO, NOT MY DAUGHTER! SHE WILL NOT BE HELD BACK FROM THE PLANS AND PURPOSES FOR WHICH SHE WAS CREATED!” Now when I hear the lies, I get angry.
We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.
I Thessalonians 5:12-22
You see, I now know that He gave me the same voice that He gave that prophetess. He gave me the voice that breaks chains of bondage! He gave me the voice that will call out and be the voice in the wilderness that says, “Set my people free!” He gave me a voice to say, “Repent and turn from your destructive ways and run into the loving arms of the Father of Mercy and Grace that await you!” The voice given to me by God is a weapon for the Kingdom of God! I will use my voice to empower people and to encourage men and women who have been oppressed by the same lies that I’ve endured. I will not let a demon from hell or a man on this earth steal, silence, or oppress the voice that God has given me!
“…Touch not my anointed one, do my prophets no harm!”
I Chronicles 16:22
I feel as if there have been attempts to quench my spirit and silence my voice. I have been praying to be bold, fearless, and courageous in the Lord. I’m reminded that when God created me, He gave me characteristics that would be utilized for the kingdom of God. He made no mistakes when He created me as He did. He did not create me so that man or demon could quench the spirit inside of me. He created me as a woman with a voice. Yet some doctrines want to put women in a box within the church setting. There are men displaying a false sense of superiority over women. They think that men can have dominance over women, but men are not to dominate over women any more than women are to dominate over men. We are to be unified in Christ. In the Trinity, there is no hierarchy. In Christ, we do not dominate one another. Godly leadership has nothing to do with authoritative domination. Godly leadership has everything to do with the sphere of influence, making disciples, earning respect so that you are given permission to speak into the lives of others, helping people to be the best version of themselves, and being what God created them to be. If one thinks Godly leadership is about domination and authority over those with whom they are joint heirs in Christ Jesus, then that person is in the world and is trying to conform God’s Word into the culture of the world.
- man, human being
- man, mankind (much more frequently intended sense in OT)
- Adam, first man
- city in Jordan valley
God’s Word tells a story of unity among humanity that was separated through the sins of the first Adam. The second Adam, Jesus Christ, restored humanity and redeemed the sins of the first. The curse was reversed. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man (H120 – mankind) in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male (H2145) and female (H5347) he created them.” Prior to the fall of man through sin, mankind was one flesh and one spirit and when God took woman from man’s side-chamber (rib), He did not take secondary characteristics from man to create woman. How do I know this? Because God has no secondary, second-hand, or sub-par characteristics! Men and women are different, praise God! But the differences don’t make one a better leader over the other in a unified body. In the original unified body of mankind, the image of God, male and female bore no shame in those differences in the presence of one another. Just like the Trinity, the image of mankind — male and female — were one flesh and one spirit. This is reiterated in Genesis 5:2, “Male (H2145) and female (H5347) created He them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam (H120 or mankind, human beings), in the day when they were created.” Mankind was divided upon partaking of the forbidden fruit. Not only was humanity divided, but the curse (or the consequence of sin) upon the woman, imposed dominion of her husband over her. God never created us to be separated from Him or one another, so He made a plan of restoration, redemption and reconciliation through His Son, Jesus Christ, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). Did you see what happened there? Through Christ Jesus, the curse of separation and division within mankind was abolished. Now, the Church is unified once again in one body without separation, dominion, or hierarchy.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Our unified voices are the most powerful weapon that we have in the kingdom of God. The Word of God is a double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). It is the Voice of the Shepherd that we follow (John 10:5). It is how we are guided; it is how we are led. It is our voices that sing praises to the Lord (Isaiah 24:14). It is our voices that call upon the name of Jesus to be saved (Romans 10:13). It is through the words that we speak to one another that we have the power to encourage, the power to promote, the power to love and to empower (Hebrews 10:24-25), and, by the great commission, to make disciples. The commission was not given to a portion of the church. This commission was given to the entire church.
It was in the spirit of ensuring the entire church is released to serve in that commission that prompted my last blog. After I wrote it, I was asked to consider if I had been a little harsh regarding John MacArthur and his mocking comments about women in ministry. My response to that question is that any preacher, pastor, teacher, or leader given such a large platform and sphere of influence has a great responsibility to that position. They will have to stand before God and answer whether they empowered the entire body of Christ, or if they oppressed, mocked or silenced more than half the body of Christ based on gender. James 3:1-2 says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” It is with a leader’s voice that he or she can break a person’s spirit. It is with a leader’s voice that he or she can oppress. Through the force of silencing a voice, a leader has the ability to cripple a spiritual walk and do the most harm. I pray that John MacArthur will reconsider his position.
So why is it that the enemy is going after the voice of the church? Why is the enemy going after the voice of liberty? Even the devil knows where the power is — it is in our voices! Not only is there power in our voices, but it is in our unified voices. That is precisely why the enemy of the church always wants to create division between men and women. We see in the world today the enemy trying to silence the voice of the church with restrictions on worship. At a time when we need more voices, we have pastors standing in pulpits restricting the service, gifts, and voices of more than half the congregation because they are women. We must read the Word through the lens of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that brought restoration, redemption and reconciliation. The Word must be read through the Spirit of Jesus Christ and His bond-breaking Spirit on all of God’s children. A doctrine that silences and limits women’s God-given gifts and talents in the church should not be based on a couple of scriptures that have been taken out of cultural context of the biblical time of their writing and are void of the Spirit of Jesus Christ and the redeeming Blood of the cross.
The world we live in would like to slap the label “feminist” on liberated women to diminish their voice and cause further separation. First, this isn’t a women’s issue. This is a whole-church-body issue. By diminishing women in the church body, you diminish the whole body. In failing to empower women, the church fails to run on all cylinders in a time we need the full power of the church. So, am I a feminist? I am not a contemporary feminist. I’m a proud late 1800’s – early 1900’s feminist. I’m the feminist of the suffrage movement that advocated for women’s rights to allow their voices to be heard at the ballot box. Many of the women that led the suffrage movement were God-fearing Christian women. I’m not a 21st century feminist that wears replicas of female body parts on her head. I’m not a modern feminist that will tell you that you should only vote for a candidate based on her gender. I’m not the modern feminist that seems to think that every woman’s accusation should be believed outright without the testimony of the man she accuses. That’s not true feminism. That “feminism” does not advocate for equality. The modern version of feminism disqualifies our brothers in Christ and brings division. True feminism says that we regard equally the characteristics given to women and not see those as secondary qualities. True feminism embraces the differences of our brothers in Christ and desires to unify with them by allowing our gifts to be utilized in leadership and service to the body of Christ.
Unlike the modern feminist movements, I make no demands. I am prayerfully and humbly asking God to call upon men in leadership to stand outside the gates of legalism and ask for the women of the congregation to be set free in their God-given gifts and talents. I am asking for them to put aside fear, and to embrace the freedoms Jesus and Paul bestowed upon women that they enjoyed for the first two hundred years of the early church before legalism crept back into the church culture. I ask do not silence the Voice of the One who created women, but let women declare the Word of the Lord!