A Woman is Preaching?

Do you know the Bible story of Huldah?

Many people have attended Sunday school and church for their entire lives, yet they have never even heard of her. Even those who went to a Christian grade school or college might be thinking, “Umm, in the Bible? Are you sure? Wasn’t that Hagar the Horrible’s wife’s name?” (Nope, that’s Helga). Many of you have spent thirty, forty, or eighty years in the church and still, you’ve never heard of Huldah. I have asked Christians who have all of the above credentials (and more) and generally, they have never heard her name or story.

She almost never shows up in children’s Bible story books. She does not appear in the majority of Sunday school curriculum. Huldah’s story is absent. I have attended church my whole life, all thirty-six years. I have listened to pastors preaching online, on the radio, in different churches, in different denominations, in this country, and overseas. And I have never once heard a pastor tell the story of Huldah or teach on the significance of her life.

And why not? She was arguably the most respected and influential prophet during the reign of King Josiah. Most of us know the story of King Josiah, a godly leader who was crowned as a young boy. So then, why have we not heard about Huldah, an important female prophet from the same period?

It is hard to say that her story is obscure, except that we have made it so by ignoring it. God used Huldah’s prophecy in a powerful way. Her work was followed by the most thorough religious renewal in the entire history of Judah. There were a few Southern kingdom monarchs who had turned away from idolatry in Judah’s history. But it was only under King Josiah in response to Huldah’s prophecy that every visible trace of idol worship was wiped out. Stone idols were even smashed and ground to powder so that no one could salvage a crumb and worship it. Of course, as soon as Josiah died, idolatry popped right up again. But under Josiah’s and Huldah’s leadership, it was completely forbidden.

So why is it that we have overlooked the story of Huldah—a story recorded twice in Scripture (2 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 34)? Why do most people not know her name? Why is she not remembered with other Bible women such as Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, and Esther?

Quite simply, Huldah’s story does not fit with the prevailing theology on women in ministry that is held by most evangelicals in America. There is really nothing to her story except that she preaches the word of God, quite authoritatively, to a group of men who happened to be the highest civic and religious leaders in the country. Even the high priest was there.

Imagining Huldah: this linoleum block and watercolor print was inspired by women depicted in ancient art from Egypt and the Aegean Sea people.

We cannot pull the focus of her story toward co-operative military leadership as we can with Deborah. We cannot put a magnifying glass over her childhood story, her musical talents, or her mistakes as we often do with Miriam. We cannot make her into a beauty contest winner as we can with Esther. Huldah really does only one thing. She preaches a sermon. And it was not sharing time at women’s ministry night. Her audience was men. In the Bible, that is really all that Huldah did. She held a respected position of spiritual leadership, and she clearly taught the word of God to men.

But you thought “ladies” weren’t supposed to do that! Huldah’s story raises difficult questions about why women today are not allowed to be spiritual leaders and religious teachers in the church.

In Jerusalem at the time of Huldah’s ministry, there were some very dark practices going on. There were prostitutes whose services were available right inside the temple of Yahweh. People thought that in order to keep the gods happy, the crops healthy, and the invading armies away, they needed to throw their children into the open jaws of the evil god, Molech. Their children were burned alive as human sacrifices. But all of that ended after King Josiah encountered the word of God. God spoke to the king in two ways, through the Book of the Law found in the temple (probably Deuteronomy) and through the preaching of a woman.

So, here’s my question today:

Would you like to see the church purified from its modern day idols? Would you like to see our “Molech” ground to dust?

Then let the women preach! Do not put up roadblocks of doubt and shame about what a woman can do for God’s people. Tell your daughters about Huldah. Encourage women who want to learn and teach God’s word. Invite them to share what God has taught them to women and men. In the humble footsteps of Josiah, seek out the wisdom of godly women in your church. Be prepared for God to speak in an unexpected way with an unexpected voice.

And remember:

“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days and they will prophesy.” (Acts 2:17-18)

[ this article is by Sara Ronnevik, October 14, 2015 ]

Holy Spirit Theology 101

Here are my notes for the third session of The Forgotten God, by Francis Chan, which includes questions for my Poster-TheForgottenGodsmall group, quotes from the book, and other observations. Remember these are notes, and not a complete article on the topic. Please purchase the book to support the author.

If we stop short of applying the truth to our lives, then we do not actually grasp that truth. Our belief determines action.

More important than what we know is how we act. For lack of understanding we grieve the Spirit.

Think about KGBC in light of the huddle analogy. How have you been running from the huddle to the bench?

God gave the Spirit so that we might change the world. How might we look if we all began running plays?

We study biblical truth, which makes us smarter and knowledgeable, but doesn’t affect our lives. We are educated far beyond our obedience.

So, the result of this study could be that we walk around with more knowledge of the Spirit, or we can know the Spirit.

  1. The Spirit is a person, rather than a force, an it, or a ghost. (Matthew 28:19, the trinity / Ephesians 4:30, emotions)
  2. The Spirit is God, not less than the Father or the Son. (Acts 5:3-4, the Spirit is called God)
  3. The Spirit has his own mind and will (Romans 8:27, 1 Corinthians 12:11) and enables & empowers us to fulfill our mission.
  4. The Spirit has emotions (Ephesians 4:30), grieving when there is disunity, or lack of love for others or God. Sin affects God.
  5. The Spirit is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, immutable. (Zechariah 4:6, First Corinthians 2:10, Psalm 139:7-8).
    1. The point is not to completely understand God but to worship him. Allow him to lead you to value him more.
    2. Jesus left this earth and gave his followers an impossible task (Acts 1:8). He made it clear the Spirit’s power was needed.

What the Spirit does in and through us:

  1. He helps us when we are in precarious situations ((Mark 13:11, Luke 12:12).
  2. The Counselor teaches and reminds us of what we need to know, and remember what Jesus taught (John 14:26).
  3. The Spirit brings peace in the midst of turmoil (John 14:27, Romans 15:13).
  4. The Spirit works in the hearts of all people, convicting of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7-11, First Thessalonians 1:5).
  5. The Spirit seals us in Christ, and is a pledge of our inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14).
  6. The Spirit confirms in us that we belong to Christ (Romans 8:9).
  7. The Spirit is the revealer of truth that helps and guides us to understand and interpret God’s Word (John 16:13).
  8. The Spirit is our Helper, Counselor, Comforter, (Paraclete) (John 14:16).
  9. The Spirit convinces us of the deity of Christ (John 15:26).
  10. The Spirit is a gift-giver (1 Corinthians 12:7, 11, Romans 12:6).
  11. The Spirit is a fruit producer (Galatians 5:22-23, 2 Corinthians 3:18).
  12. The Spirit is a witness empowerer, and equipper (Acts 1:8, Romans 8:26, Ephesians 3:16-19).
  13. The Spirit is a slave redeemer, he sets us free (Romans 8:2, 10-11, Second Corinthians 3:17).
  14. The Spirit is an adoption confirmer, being witness we are God’s children (Romans 8:15-16).
  15. The Spirit is a weakling strengthener (Romans 8:26-27).

Now that we know all this, we must ask, “What does the Holy Spirit want from me right now?” “How can I cooperate with him in his work?” Don’t just ask what he can hypothetically do, but ask what he can do in your life.

Ponder the amazing power of the Spirit…

Here are some quotes from the book:

  • What you do and how you live are absolutely vital. Without action and fruit, all the theology in the world has little meaning. But theology is still important—what you believe absolutely determines how you act.
  • The point is not to completely understand God but to worship Him. Let the very fact that you cannot know Him fully lead you to praise Him for His infiniteness and grandeur.
  • I have heard the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit described like the three parts of an egg: the shell, the white stuff, and the yolk. I have also heard people say that God is like a three-leaf clover: three “arms,” yet all are a part of the one clover stalk. Another popular comparison is to the three forms of H2O (water, ice, and steam). While these serve as cute metaphors for an unexplainable mystery, the fact is that God is not like an egg, a three-leaf clover, or the three forms of water. God is not like anything. He is incomprehensible, incomparable, and unlike any other being. He is outside our realm of existence and, thus, outside our ability to categorize Him. While analogies may be helpful in understanding certain aspects of Him, let’s be careful not to think that our analogies in any way encapsulate His nature.
  • Yet when the Holy Spirit descended and indwelt them, a radical change occurred. From that point on, none of these disciples was ever the same. The book of Acts is a testament to this fact. We read of Stephen, the first martyr. We see Peter, a changed, courageous man. We see Paul (formerly Saul) go from killing Christ followers to becoming one and showing many others how to do so too.
  • I believe that if we truly cared about the Holy Spirit’s grief, there would be fewer fights, divorces, and splits in our churches. Maybe it’s not due to a lack of belief but rather a lack of concern. I pray for the day when believers care more about the Spirit’s grief than their own.
  • In 1 Corinthians we read that the gifts of the Spirit are “empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” (12:11). This is an important reminder of who is in control. Just as we don’t get to choose which gifts we are given, so also we don’t get to choose what God intends for us or for the church.

Who Needs the Spirit?

Here are my notes for the first session of The Forgotten God, by Francis Chan, which includes questions for my Poster-TheForgottenGodsmall group, quotes from the book, and other observations. Remember these are notes, and not a complete article on the topic. Please purchase the book to support the author.

Our western mindset: we tend to assume that God won’t work supernaturally in our lives. We read some crazy stuff in the book of Acts but we don’t expect the supernatural.

In John 14:16, Jesus promised “another” counselor to be with them. This is not another of a different kind, but another of the same kind! Jesus says the Spirit would be like him!

When we are honest, we would prefer a real and physical Jesus we can see and touch over an invisible Spirit… but Jesus said it is BETTER that he go away and his followers have the Holy Spirit.

We don’t value the Holy Spirit or his importance in the Christian’s life:

  • John 6:63
  • John 16:7
  • Romans 8:9
  • Romans 8:11

How have we missed this? How have we come to except our experience of the Christian life as normal?

In general, how did you learn your theology, that which you believe about Christianity? What process do you follow in forming your beliefs? MANY people get their knowledge of God and theology from people we know; pastors, teachers, friends, parents, rather than from our only source of faith and practice, the Bible. One problem with the American church is that we are full of believers who possess a second-hand faith who have never discovered on their own who God is or received personal inspiration from his Word. God help us develop a first-hand faith.

1. Take a moment and list your beliefs about the Holy Spirit?

2. Are these beliefs shaped more by Scripture or what you have come to see as the normal Christian life?

3. What the Holy Spirit does in a person’s life: Acts 1:4-8, Acts 2:1-13, Acts 4:31, Romans 8:1-17, Romans 8:26-27, Romans 15:13, 1 Corinthians 2:12-14, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, 2 Corinthians 3:17-18, Galatians 4:4-7, Galatians 5:16-25, Ephesians 1:13-14, Ephesians 3:14-16, 1 John 4:13.

(You may download my Holy Spirit Scriptures document HERE.) The bottom line, does the Holy Spirit make a difference in our lives?

4. What would you expect to observe as the Holy Spirit entered a person’s life? The fact is that when you get outside the church walls, you can’t tell believers from non-believers. When they see no difference, they question our integrity, our sanity, or even worse, our God.

5. Why do you think that everyday life does not match these biblical descriptions?

6. According to Galatians 5:16-25, what does it look like to walk by the Spirit?

7. What would distinguish a Spirit-filled person from a non-Christian?

8. Every day, people try to live the Spirit-filled life without the Spirit. What good can we do in merely human effort?

9. How should supernatural results differ from what we can accomplish on our own?

10. It’s not about you. What practical ways can the Spirit work through you to bless people around you?

It is impossible for finite humans to fully know God, in fact, we don’t need more cerebral knowledge but experiential knowledge. We can never go back, only forward, seeking what it means to live faithfully in the time and culture where God has placed us.

Caterpillar Confusion: Life Transformation (a parable of our new life in Christ)…

Have you ever wondered what caterpillars think about? Just imagine what a caterpillar experiences. For all its life it crawls around on a small patch of dirt and up and down a few plants. Then one day it takes a nap. A long nap. Then, what in the world must go through its head when it wakes up to discover it can fly? What happened to its dirty, plump little worm body? What does it think when it sees its tiny new body with gorgeous wings?

Francis Chan quotes from The Forgotten God:

  • If you are still alive on this planet, it’s because He has something for you to do.
  • God calls us to pursue Him, not what He might do FOR us or even IN our midst.
  • When we are at our wits’ end for an answer, then the Holy Spirit can give us an answer. But how can He give us an answer when we are still well supplied with all sorts of answers of our own? – Karl Barth
  • Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the “Helper” or “Comforter.” Let me ask you a simple question: Why would we need to experience the Comforter if our lives are already comfortable?
  • Our lack of intimacy (with God) often is due to our refusal to unplug and shut off communication from all others so we can be alone with Him.
  • A lot of people in churches have added Jesus to their lives. People who have, in a sense, asked Him to join them on their life journey, to follow them wherever they feel they should go, rather than following Him as we are commanded. The God of the universe is not something we can just add to our lives and keep on as we did before. The Spirit who raised Christ from the dead is not someone we can just call on when we want a little extra power in our lives. Jesus Christ did not die in order to follow us. He died and rose again so that we could forget everything else and follow Him to the cross, to true Life.
  • Some of you would like it if I said we were going to find a healthy balance between unhealthy extremes. That’s not what we’re going to do. When we are referring to God, balance is a huge mistake. God is not just one thing we add to the mix called life. He wants an invitation from us to permeate everything and every part of us.
  • And perhaps the core issue is really about our holding back from giving ourselves to God, rather than our getting “too much” of Him. Perhaps when a person says, “I’d just like a little God, thank you very much,” she or he is really saying, “I’d rather not give the parts of my life that I really care about over to God, so I’ll just hold on to this, that, oh, and that, too….” It doesn’t work that way. When I read Scripture, I see the truth and necessity of a life wholly surrendered to and dependent upon the Holy Spirit.
  • Most of us assume that what we believe is right but have never really studied for ourselves.
  • When those outside the church see no difference in our lives, they begin to question our integrity, our sanity, or even worse, our God.
  • Thousands of years later, I think most of us would also choose a physical Jesus over an invisible Spirit. But what do we do with the fact that Jesus says it is better for His followers to have the Holy Spirit? Do we believe Him? If so, do our lives reflect that belief?
  • I am tired of living in a way that looks exactly like people who do not have the Holy Spirit of God living in them. I want to consistently live with an awareness of His strength. I want to be different today from what I was yesterday as the fruit of the Spirit becomes more manifest in me.

Are you tired of living in a way that looks exactly like people without the Spirit? Let’s live in the awareness of his strength, and grow…

Pray for humility to be open to what the Spirit want to teach you, even if you have overlooked the obvious.