Thursday, April 28, 2011
In 1912 Jesse Penn-Lewis noted from Genesis 3 that it was the serpent, not the woman, who was cursed: "The serpent is cursed, but, in effect, the beguiled victim [Eve] is blest, for through her will come the 'Seed' which will triumph over the devil and his seed; and through her will arise a new race through the promised Seed (Gen.3:15) . . . . Henceforth it is also war by Satan upon the womanhood of the world, in malignant revenge for the verdict of the garden" (War On the Saints).
Church history reveals that Roman Catholicism and Protestantism taught and practiced forms of patriarchy that essentially sided with the evil one's disdain for females. Women were not allowed to function or speak in the church, were viewed as existing to serve males, and were seen as conduits of sin and error. John Calvin, for example, rashly affirmed "Therefore all women are born to submit to the pre-eminence of the male sex . . . . Let the woman be content in her position of subjection, and not feel indignant because she has to play second fiddle to the superior sex."
In No Will of My Own, author Jon Zens compares the patriarchy taught to families by the Roman Catholic and Dutch Reformed churches in Holland with an aggressive patriarchal wing of the home-schooling movement in America. He shows that the earmarks of patriarchy doctrine result in varying levels of abuse of young girls and wives. This book serves as a vital warning concerning the misuse of Scripture and church tradition to smother female worth and dignity.
In almost every religion around the world, the hearts, souls, and bodies of women are sacrificed on the altar of fundamentalism. In No Will of My Own, Jon Zens takes a sobering look at abuse within patriarchal Christianity. An important book. -- Hillary McFarland, author of Quivering Daughters: Hope and Healing for the Daughters of Patriarchy
In No Will of My Own, Jon Zens, author and apologist for genuine godly relationships within the body of Christ, has bravely taken on patriarchy, one of the most damaging and aberrant trends within the Church today. Comparing the research by Annie Imbens and Ineke Jonker in their 1992 book, Christianity & Incest, with the underlying teachings and attitudes of patriarchy, Jon makes a solid case for further examination and rejection of this movement. From the notion that the father is the center of the home, thus the intermediary between God and his family, to the belief that daughters should not attend college or even be allowed to leave home until "given in marriage," Jon demonstrates that the attitudes that produce these ideas are what leads to physical, mental, verbal, spiritual and sexual abuse of both women and daughters. Having spoken myself with many women whose homes have been destroyed by these very teachings, many who have experienced horrendous abuse, I am so grateful that No Will of My Own has been written. I hope it convinces those who are just wading in the waters of these teachings to go back to shore and critically examine them in the light of Scripture! And I hope that validating its reality will also be the beginning of healing for the precious sisters who have tasted of its bitter waters. – Karen Campbell
Jon Zens writes with a compassionate, loving heart and he dares to reveal a horrid actuality with the candor and boldness of Truth. In NO WILL OF MY OWN Jon Zens brings a hidden, secretive reality into plain sight. I especially encourage the sisters in Christ to read this invaluable little book! – Kat Huff
Jon Zens' comprehensive work documents the aberrant fruit of fundamentalist patriarchy. I pray that the Holy Spirit will set tens of thousands of daughters free through this book. -- Dr. Stephen R. Crosby
You may obtain NO WILL OF MY OWN through www.amazon.com or contact Jon at firstname.lastname@example.org, 715-338-2796 or Searching Together, P O Box 548, St Croix Falls WI 54024-0548.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
It is assumed by most that God intended to create a “perfect” world.
Moreover, many contend that Adam & Eve were created perfect
walked in a perfect relationship with God.
Could it be that God had no intention of
Yet, what Scripture supports the contention that God fashioned a “perfect” creation?
Upon completion of His creation, God considered all that He made, including humankind as being “very good,” not perfect [Gen.1:31]. It could be said that this is a matter of semantics. However, is it reliable to interpret Scripture to say something that it may not say?
Was Satan “perfect?”
Most would say that Satan was perfect until he chose to rebel against God. However, why would a flawless creature in a perfect relationship with God scheme to overthrow His authority? We must consider, from where did such pride manifest? How did this sin enter into God’s creation, if in fact it was created “perfect” as one typically defines perfection?
Many teach, including those who authored my study Bible’s footnotes, that, “the great deceiver clothed himself as a serpent, one of God’s good creatures.” If this were accurate, why would God “allow” Satan to use one of His “perfect” creatures to deceive humankind? If Satan did not “take on the form of a snake” but is that ancient serpent as Revelation 12:9 says, where did he get his craftiness [Gen. 3:1]? Did he conjure it up or did God truly create all things? Job 5:12 tells us, “He thwarts the plans of the crafty!” Unless it was a part of God’s plan, why didn’t He do so here? “Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it” [Lam. 3:37]? Can we rightly argue that this does not include Satan’s words of deception?
How is it construed that Adam & Eve were created perfect?
Does “created in His image” [Gen. 1:27] mean perfect, like God? God speaks to His people through Isaiah [46:5] saying, “To whom will you compare me or count me equal? To whom will you liken me that we may be compared?” Obviously, Adam and Eve were not made exactly like God! Unlike humankind, the perfect Creator does not have the ability to sin! In their “very good” state, Eve was deceived and Adam succumbed to evil. Can this rightly be considered “perfect?”
From what Scripture do we surmise that Adam and Eve had a perfect relationship with God?
Can we even correctly conclude that God regularly walked with Adam and Eve simply because God was walking in the garden in cool of the day [Gen. 3:8] upon which they sinned?
If in fact, Adam and Eve enjoyed a perfect relationship with their Creator, why would they seek something more? What more would there be? Would a perfect person not be able to recognize the evil one or be willing to listen to his lies? If perfect, would Eve have not noticed the deception and rejected it? Demonstrating loyalty to a cunning serpent which led Adam to separation from his Creator is hardly an indication of perfection!
Could it be?
designing a “perfect” universe with “perfect” creatures?
Or did He make a mistake?
Could it be that God’s “very good” creation was fashioned perfectly for His plan, but was purposefully lacking something? If not, where would the need for a Redeemer, planned before creation [Eph. 1:3-4], fit in?
Could it be that the “very good” state of Adam and Eve meant that they were suited for what God intended them to do? Or did God error when He fashioned their hearts which were obviously more inclined toward evil than good? Should we consider instead that the intentions of the Creator, through Adam’s and Eve’s sin, was to reveal His love and sovereignty to the powers and principalities of His universe? Or can we justly argue against the written Word, “They did what Your power and will had decided before hand should happen” [Acts 4:27-28]?
Most would agree that God created all things. However, they will argue that He didn’t create sin. How then do we explain its existence? Most would agree that God is sovereign over all things, yet will argue that Adam & Eve had free will. Scripture tells us however that God does as He pleases with what is His!
Could it be that God had no intention of
- Consider Eve and the serpent. “In His hand is the life of every creature and breath of all mankind; both deceived and deceiver” [Job 12:10].
Consider Adam’s physical and spiritual death. God told Adam, “when you eat (not if) you will surely die [Gen. 2:17]! Some explain this away by concluding that God foreknew that Adam would choose to disobey. Yet, “Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind” [Job 38:36]? “He who forms the hearts of all” [Psalm 33:15]! Scripture tells us that, “The Lord brings death and makes alive” [Samuel 2:6]!
In considering Adam’s “disobedience” as the greatest disaster of all, how do we explain Amos 3:7, “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I the Lord do all these things?” We rightly understand light and darkness in other sections of Scripture to mean both physical and spiritual. Can we ignore that deduction in light of the formation and disaster of sin? “They stumble(ed) because they disobey(ed) the message which is also what they were predestined for” (1 Peter 2:8)!
Is it true that the Creator “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will” [Eph. 1:11] or is it not? According to Daniel 4:35, “He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth!” Can we rightly argue that this does not include, Adam, Eve and Satan? Or do we surrender our understanding to the difficult Word that, “God has put it into their hearts to accomplish His purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God’s words are fulfilled” [Rev. 17:17]?
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Stunned and with much concern for my well-being, my teacher asked momma about my heart-rending story. Momma was shocked to hear that I had told such a “lie” and assured my teacher and me that when we arrived home I would receive a spanking!
Had I “lied” or had I told the story the best way that my little girl heart could understand the reality? The truth is that although she would have been a few years older than me, I did have a sister who died when she was only a month old. I must have over-heard momma sharing this incident and attempted to understand it. I recognized that her death was “unusual” and I couldn’t imagine a sister doing anything other than playing with me. Consequently, I concluded that she and I must have been playing when she died!
I’ve come to realize that a similar process tends to take place as we try to understand God’s Word. It seems that most of us take what we hear and either parrot it back as “truth” or we take it in the best way that our hearts and minds can understand it at the time, only to discover later that, although not totally inaccurate, we had much of it distorted! Unfortunately, we pass on our warped understanding as though we have it “all figured out” and like my teacher, others unwittingly swallow it hook, line and sinker!
Did I receive the lickin’ that momma promised? Momma swears to this day, “Why, Bonnie Joann! I would have never spanked you for such a thing!” I lovingly explain, “Momma, I remember very clearly that long ride home! The anticipation was much worse than the spanking itself!” Did I need to hear truth from momma? Of course! However, while it certainly impressed upon me that lying wasn’t wise, the discipline didn’t make reality any clearer for me because I wasn’t capable of understanding it.
In our “wisdom” we recognize people who “need Truth” and of course there seems to be no better time than now for them to “get it”! After all, shouldn’t we speak spiritual Truth in all circumstances? Jesus said to disciples, "I have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now" (John 16:12). Sometimes the Lord may restrain us from speaking the truth because the person can't bear it now – a better moment will come later. We can rebuke people for their ignorance and explain Truth `til the cows come home, but if they are not prepared to receive it, it “does not compute”! Just as I was able to understand the reality of what had happened to my sister and was equipped to share it more accurately as I matured, the Spirit of God is the One who prepares us and gradually guides us into deeper maturity and illuminates our hearts (John 16:13) with greater Truths.
Why are we so quick to point out one another’s misunderstandings?
Is our Lord not capable of using them for His glory?
Is His timing of revelation not perfect?
Through the years, I have had an underlying awareness that, in regard to my understanding of God’s Word, “some of the pieces just didn’t quite fit.” Although I had no clue how to rearrange them, there was something about the discomfort of those “misplaced pieces” that caused me to keep seeking, searching and asking questions. Just as His Word promises, we will find Him if we look for Him with all our hearts (Deut. 4:29). My dependency upon His Spirit grew and my passion for Jesus intensified as a result of my persistence in wrestling the pieces around!
A little over two years ago, the Lord re-kindled my life-long desire to write. The passion on my heart was to write in such a way that others would be encouraged to pay attention to the discomfort of the “misplaced pieces,” to not give up seeking Truth, to not crumble under the pious reproach of others and to assure them that there is Life that can be found if we are willing to know Him and understand His Kingdom with our whole hearts.
And one last thing…I’ve often felt all alone in my searching. Consequently, I know how lonely the journey can be. Like you, I still don’t have all the pieces in the right place, but can we search together in love? As we do, unlike my struggle to explain my sister’s death, the nature of our love will communicate to the vastness of this universe, Truths beyond our own comprehension, but surely for the One who lives and His glorious Kingdom!
Thursday, April 7, 2011
My friend likes challenges and is dedicated to mission work wherever the Lord sends her. She is currently completing one mission trip and preparing for the next, but in a different country. While going through all the necessary preparations, she discovered that her visa will cost much more than what she expected. She is very frustrated and even angry about this!
Needing someone to hear her heart, she lamented to me, “For crying out loud, I'm spending my own money to go down there and help clean up their own mess for free out of the goodness of my heart, and they want me to pay $400 for it?”
Can you hear yourself saying something similar if you were in her shoes? I surely can! My response to her, which I believe the Lord placed on my heart, has implications for all of us to consider.
I can understand why you are ticked-off about this. I agree that the visa fee seems very unreasonable! The application process and preparations are nerve-racking enough without this added stressor! Thanks for sharing your heart with me. I will certainly be praying for you as you continue through this challenging process.
I noticed myself “jumping on the bandwagon” of irritation with you until the Lord kinda “nipped it in the bud”! While it certainly isn’t my intention to make light of your frustrations, may I offer some thoughts for prayerful consideration which may be helpful as you continue to prepare for this mission?
I have found that sometimes the Lord tests us regarding what we are willing to press through and “pay out” in order to be obedient to His call on our lives. With that in mind, could it be that this is about you and God rather than about those who govern the country to which you are heading? Could it be that you are being asked if you are willing to spend your last penny and your last drop of energy to accomplish His will and that He's waiting to see how you’ll respond? Could it be that He's wondering if you trust Him enough to provide your needs after you come to the end of what you perceive is available to you? I have even found that, in situations like this, the Lord is sometimes simply saying, “I was just checking” and the circumstance doesn’t unfold the way in which it seemed to be heading. A good example of such an instance is expressed in one of my favorite songs,
I JUST WANTED YOU TO KNOW
By: Randy Swift
God told Abraham take Isaac up the mountain
And there make him a sacrifice to me
I know tears rolled down & breath was hard to come by
While Abraham was knelt there on his knees
So hand in hand they headed up the mountain
And he thought about the thing that lay in store
Like shattered glass inside his heart was breaking
Cause he’d never known a pain like this before
Too soon they reached that spot where they were going
And he laid Isaac down on his death bed
His heart raced as he drew the knife to strike him
But a God of mercy stopped him and he said
I just wanted you to know exactly how it feels
To watch a son you love, walk up a lonely hill
To feel the pain inside as your heart breaks in your chest
To lose the very thing that you love the best
So now you’ve walked the walk and I know you understand
The price that must be paid to correct the sins of man
And you’ll know just how I feel when they walk him up that hill
I just wanted you to know
I know that you have sacrificed greatly in order to pursue previous missions and I realize that you are surrendering even more to proceed in this one. I recognize that in doing so it entails not only money, but includes leaving family, friends and comforts behind in order to be available to God’s leading. I truly understand how painful this can be. I remember a time when I cried out to the Lord saying, "How much more do you expect me to give-up?" His response was, "All of it, Bonnie. I want all of it!"
As He stretches us beyond our comfort zones,
the tendency is to resist against the perceived cause of discomfort.
In reality though, we are resisting against Him.
The “cause” is only the means
by which He accomplishes His will in us.
With this in mind, shouldn’t our focus be on asking our Lord what He desires for us to learn through the trial rather than how to change the circumstances or find a way to wiggle our way out of it? As painful as it may seem, shouldn’t we rejoice in the fact that, in His wisdom, He is using that which He knows is exactly right for transforming us?
“Consider it pure joy, my fellow believers,
whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Perseverance must finish its work so that
you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Blessed is the person, who perseveres under trial,
because when he has stood the test
he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him”
(James 1:2-4, 12).
So often we go into situations which we believe the Lord has called us into with a focus on all that we are going to accomplish! Yet, isn’t it our pride which says, “I’m going to go here and there and I’m going to do this and that” (James 5:13-17)! If God can use the rocks to accomplish His will (Luke 19:40) and a donkey to speak for Him (Numbers 22:30), the reality is; He doesn’t need us! While it certainly is commendable to desire to be used in His Kingdom work, it really boils down to what He desires to accomplish in us for His glory rather than all that we desire to do for others or achieve for Him.
What if we go and nothing on our list gets accomplished? Is it by what we have accomplished for Him that God is glorified or is it when we reflect Him in the midst of the trials which announces to “the rulers, authorities, and powers of this dark world and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm” (Ephesians 6:12) that Jesus is King of all kings!
May our focus be on that which brings Him glory as He uses the situations we find ourselves in to refine and mold us into His likeness! May we find that we respond in every situation in a way which reflects the glory of our Lord! May our deepest desire be to communicate our Father’s magnificent message to the entire universe which He so clearly spoke to Abraham, “I just wanted you to know” how glorious the King is!