Oh, did I type that outloud?
Since moving here, to my sweet and quaint little southern Tennessee town, a little over a year now, I have come to realize that there are some things here that are a little different… A little difficult… A “man’s man” world.
Although raised by a southern-bred grandmother, my style is not familial here.
Frankly, I’m not kin… So, well… I am just not “proven.”
When I am wrestling with political leaders with regard to the way that everything here seems to be “oky-doky” even though, it’s not working… and we have a broken system… When I’m fighting for the rights of victims of violence and sexual assault – When I’m calling out those who cause dissention and mayhem in the Church…
Then, it’s fantastic! “Long overdue” … “A breath of fresh air” … “Just what we need.”
As long as I’m not talking about them, that is…
But, when I do call out those who are complacent, defiant to God’s commands… when I refuse to align myself with ministries that are not Biblically correct, (or biblical for that matter), when I fight for the right of victims to be heard in the church…
Apparently, I’m doing it wrong.
I have had more passive-aggressive attempts towards the changing of my personality in the past year, then I have had in a lifetime. But it’s most annoying when it comes from the women “leadership” of my church.
I have been subject to “getting to know you” meetings that prove to be nothing more than covert counseling sessions, laced with a lesson on the appropriate “attitudes of the south,” followed by a send-off list of reading materials (mostly from unresearched, heretical authors) meant to curb my un-southern approach to ministry…
What it is, is an attempt to change me from a Martha to a Mary.
I’m not a Mary.
I’m a Martha.
I’m a head-strong, heart-broken, wretch, that will argue and wrestle with Jesus because I believe in His promises and permissions over mine (or yours for that matter), and I want to know Him better… So, I can serve Him better.
“Lord, if you would have only been here… Lord, don’t open the tomb, it’s going to stink…. Lord, make Mary help me…”
I’ve prayed every one of these same declarations.
Martha: We do not know who exactly her husband was, although some scholars have a few ideas… but what we do know is that it was indeed her home where Jesus sought refuge during the course of his ministry – and it was her that was the hostess with the most-tist – somewhat demanding, but always fearless, unafraid, and confident.
She was also named first when Jesus referred to whom He loved: “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister [Mary], and Lazarus” (John 11:5).
Jesus also warned Martha when she was “anxious and troubled about many things….”
And I would say that I understand that completely.
As a matter of fact, knowing this little factoid about Miss Martha…. When her brother Lazarus died, Jesus’ response to that was to hang out and wait a couple more days… “So, when He heard that he [Lazarus] was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was” (John 11:6).
Martha’s response to that –?
Well, she wasn’t just sitting back with the crowd of mourners at the house.
Nope. When she heard that Jesus was coming, she met Him at the edge of town… face to face confrontation… “Where were you? If you had been here then Lazarus wouldn’t have died” (John 11:21, Holly translation) …
Martha didn’t stop there… no, she went on – as if Jesus didn’t remember who He was…. “Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give to you.”
I love that.
I do that.
“Jesus, I don’t get it. Where is the justice? Where are you? This place reeks of sin and destruction! I can’t serve here! I have no help! … But you are God Almighty – You Lord, YOU can do anything!”
And then He renews my strength, opens the tombs, and we walk on… (Sometimes it’s a couple days later…)
Have you ever met with Jesus face to face? Have you the confidence in Whose you are and the LORD you serve to “boldly approach the throne of grace?” (Heb. 4:16). To wrestle with His promises. (Gen. 32:22-32).
Have you ever spent a weekend with a broken and contrite spirit, wrestling with tears and anxiety over a lost, hurting world around you? Not being able to eat – not because you are fasting…. but because your stomach aches so badly that the mere thought of food disgusts you… Begging the Lord to “search my heart… make me clean!” … Prostrate before the Lord, begging the Lord for forgiveness, guidance and direction? The fulfillment of promises for a world… the church… to come back to its first love… to glorify the King of Kings?
Then you have done missed the boat, ladies.
Here’s a little piece of advice for my southern Mary’s… I’m not you and I don’t want to be like you either.
I want to be a Martha. And Martha’s don’t stop agonizing over those we believe to be dead – especially when they know the God they serve and what He is capable of…
After Jesus confirmed that Lazarus would rise – Martha wanted more clarification.
That is me too… I know God’s promises, just like Martha – “I know that he is going to rise in the resurrection…” But sometimes, I want to know what to do about the right here and right now.
Could I have done more? What is there that I am missing? Am I walking in your ways? Did I exegete that Scripture properly? Do I need to be cleansed… again?
So, I boldly approach the throne of grace.
Quit trying to stop me. I’m on a mission.
Leonard Ravenhill said that there is a “normal New Testament experience” and people like me seem so abnormal…
“The secret of this ‘jet-propelled fellow’ is that somewhere [there] is a Jacob-like wrestling with God and [they] have come out stripped, but also ‘strengthened by the Holy Ghost.”
The church, as described by Ravenhill – and to which I subscribe, is that we might have some with vision, but we have no passion. We are so full of competition that we have forgotten consecration. We have substituted propaganda for propagation.
We are so worried about being “offensive” that we have forgotten that the Gospel is offensive.
Ravenhill describes this as being “so earthly minded that we are of no heavenly use.”
When David and I rolled into town, we met some of the greatest, sweetest people, the kindest people… but the most complacent, spoiled rotten, group of “believers” we have ever seen.
Not all… But certainly, most.
I think that one of the things that makes the Bible belt of the United States so dangerous is the vast amount of people who think they are saved, spewing their idyllic view of the Scriptures in a vain attempt to convince God to do things their way.
They have made for themselves their own free grace for all, “God loves you right where you are,” gods and although they call themselves “believers,” they couldn’t give you one single presentation on what they believe or why they believe it.
“Even the demons believe, and shutter.” (James 2:19)
But these people don’t “shutter.”
They don’t so much as flinch.
On the contrary, they sit in in their seats each Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday – and leave it all in the pew after each and every service.
There is no excitement – No fury – As a matter of fact, sometimes it feels that we are at a funeral service rather than that of a worship service!
Paul Washer was speaking to a group of “believers” – He was talking about the complacency of the body of Christ, the fact that they are compromised, they are not gospel hardened – but gospel ignorant…
The crowd cheered… Hearty “Amen’s” all around… Until he yelled – “I don’t know why you are cheering! I’m talking about YOU!!”
Well, church – the Bible belt – I’M TALKING ABOUT YOU!
The “older woman, teaching the younger…”
We are in ministry people! We speak out for the mute, fight for the rights of those who are destitute, open our mouths and judge righteously, and defend the rights of the poor and needy…” (Pr. 31:8-9).
Yet, because I am a woman, who happens to live in the south, I am supposed to conform to the Mary’s that are in my midst. I am to curb my passion – maybe not be so …intimidating.
But here is the problem with that – Since we have become a world of Mary’s who [claim] to be quiet, content, just sitting and listening as the “lord” speaks to us… while doing absolutely nothing but hosting events, tea parties, weekend retreats, conference events, bringing in “professional” (but mostly heretical) guest speakers… [rather than our own disciples] … So that we can be quiet, content, and just sit, so that we can listen some more…
. . .
Therefore, in return for your “southern hospitality” the world has given you the respect you deserve:
So, excuse me if I seem a little less hospitable than you…
You see, we are not sitting at the feet of Jesus – He’s done left the building and issued commands that we are to teach and proclaim the gospel… we are to be focused on the Kingdom of God… we are not to be busy-bodies –
We are to get busy!
But that’s not what they want here…
When it comes to fulfilling the command to study Scripture, fulfilling the command of the “older women teaching the younger women…” I have actually had people tell me – Women LEADERS tell me, “I’m just not there yet…” I hear, “I can’t do that… I need to pray about that… I feel God calling me in a different direction…”
Really? When did God ever call anyone away from His commands?
And your right – YOU aren’t there yet…. YOU can’t do anything. If you are trying to do anything in your own strength, then you should fail.
Southern women are a proud bunch. I have met many a prominent southern women… Proud to have been members of the church for over 20… 30… 40 years… Proud to proclaim their husband as a deacon, minister, leader, teacher, missionary… Yet, they have never mentored one-single-woman.
We have enough leaders… We need people who want to be servants.
And in reality, what they are really saying is – “Holly, I don’t want to deal with these people… their problems, their struggles, their life choices… there might be confrontation and accountability – (unsaid: What if they want to know about me????)… Frankly, I love my church and I just don’t want to create waves…” (or be vulnerable).
“We don’t really want to do the work of the Kingdom… That is for people like you…”
That is, if I keep it out of the church.
When the church fails the people. The people will fail God. When the people fail God, “their blood will be required of you” (EZ 3:18).