Tuesday, November 26, 2013

To Be (Heard) or Not to Be (Heard)...An Investigation of Men and Women's Roles in the Church, Pt. 3


It is in relationship to the cultural issues that we come back to the question concerning what role a woman should have in the assembly and church life. Peter, in his first letter, (3:1-7) shares many of the same principles in relationship to submission that Paul shares in 1 Corinthians. Peter indicates that women (wives) should be submissive to their husbands, as Paul has said. Once again, this is not a “forced bondage,” but a willing spirit of the ladies’ behalf to be God’s woman and live lovingly with her husband. And, just as Paul has shared in Ephesians 5, men (husbands) should live in a loving, protective (even “submissive”) relationship with their wives (v.7). Peter wants the woman of God to be “chaste” and have “respectful behavior” and “to be adorned properly.” As I have already indicated earlier, she is also to exercise a “gentle and quiet spirit.” Peter seems to indicate that this attitude is a universal principal, going all the way back to Abraham and Sarah (v.6). So, this is a mindset or attitude that was to be consistent with women everywhere at the time, and there is nothing to indicate that this is a principal that has changed over time.

When we consider Paul’s instructions to Timothy concerning the church in Ephesus (particularly women/wives in 1 Timothy 2), we see a number of things that are consistent with what we already have seen in 1 Corinthians and 1 Peter. At the same time, there are also some significant differences. Once again, the question of women coming to the assembly without appearing immoral is at issue (1 Timothy 2:9). The women at that time needed to be modest with their attire as befitting a person who was godly. There were some women in Ephesus that appear to have a similar mindset as those in Corinth, in that they were not being in subjection to their husbands and this was not acceptable. The women/wives in Ephesus, as at Corinth, had no place to be contradicting the public teaching in an abusive manner, nor should they be arbitrarily teaching (taking over the role of public teaching) in a way that would not be Christ-like. What is interesting to note concerning v.12, is that Paul says a woman should receive teaching literally, “in a respectful manner, with a quiet spirit.” This word aysuchia, is the same word that Peter uses (1 Peter 3:4) and it is a word that describes the practical, spiritual mindset that godly women are to embrace and exercise. It is the spiritual working out of the principle of “keeping silent” that Paul describes earlier in relationship to the Corinthian church. What is fascinating is that Jesus came to set women free from their bondage under the Jewish cultural system. Notice that I said “cultural,” because this is not what God had intended for women, spiritually or even religiously, but the Jews had become so constricting with their laws in so many ways that it became a struggle for women to function at all...much like what we see under Islam in many Middle-eastern countries today. So, for a woman even to be able to receive instruction was a relatively new concept to many of those whom Jesus was speaking, and it carries over to Paul, here. These women, culturally and spiritually, are in a place where they actually are able to receive instruction, but they must not forget that they must continue to behave in a spiritual manner.

The real context of the situation is set in v.13, as Paul indicates that there are some there in Ephesus, as in Corinth, who desire to have their opinions heard and will do whatever it takes in order to accomplish this. Some of these women have been “exercising authority over” some of the men there. The word that Paul uses here is authenteo, “to have authority over” in a way which literally means “to domineer,” and it is used only here in the New Testament. If Paul had wanted to, he very well could have used the word exousia, which is the predominant, typical word for “authority” in the New Testament. The fact that he does not do so, but in fact uses a much stronger word, indicates that he does indeed have a point to make here. And his point fits precisely the context, as I have shared. In my opinion, Paul is not making a negative blanket statement about women teaching in a public or private manner, just that they need to do so in a way that is respectful and with a right (submissive) spirit. We see that when Priscilla and Aquila teach Apollos in order to show him a better way (Acts 18:24-28), that it is apparently Priscilla who is the taking the lead in doing the “teaching.” In fact, Priscilla seems to have been the stronger personality in that relationship, but she obviously seems to have understood the principles of submission concerning which Paul shares here in 1 Timothy as well as 1 Corinthians.

Paul finishes his argument here with an allusion to Adam and Eve. He still wants men and women (husbands and wives) to understand that they each have particular functions...and it must always be so. Paul wants the church, in general, to understand that men are to be the spiritual leaders not only of the church family, but of their own families at home. This has been something of a problem in the current culture in which we live, as we have seen the advent of such Para-church organizations such as Promise Keepers that seeks to help men to re-identify themselves as the spiritual leaders of their families. It is not that Paul is saying that men are to have the only spiritual leadership role at home and in the church, but that they are to have the primary role. Most families could not conceive of mothers not having a significant spiritual role in the training and overall spiritual health of the family. Why should it be any different as it pertains to the body of Christ? Paul is not saying that women “should be seen and not heard” as some have practically interpreted it, but that women should have a prominent role in the life and leadership of the church. He is not overriding the principle of women being involved in the body life of the church, which he has clearly stated, but is dealing with some abnormalities that have arisen – this is clearly indicated in the New Testament context. Men should be the primary spiritual leaders of the church, but this does not mean that ladies are supposed to have some insignificant role or function. It is apparent that Paul desires for women to teach as he describes in Titus 2:3 (and it is “good,” which could be done by example, living a life of service, or didactically, in a classroom setting). It is apparent that some women were intended to be leaders, as we see with Priscilla, some of those who were praying and prophesying in Corinth (1 Corinthians 11:4), Lydia, who was a prominent convert, Philip who had four daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:8), but perhaps the most prominent “leader” was Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchrea (Romans 16:1). This lady played a significant role in helping her home congregation. There have been some who have specifically interpreted the word diakonia to mean “deaconess” in the context. This word needs to be understood in that it can have a general and specific meaning. The word “apostle,” meaning, “one sent out with a message,” works in much the same way, as we know that there were twelve “specific” apostles, like Paul, but also that Barnabas was called “an apostle” in a more general sense (Acts 14:14), as was Junias, a woman, in Romans (16:7). So, Phoebe may or may not have been a deaconess in the specific sense, but that she was certainly a “prominent servant” having helped Paul and others on a number of missions.

We can understand that Paul did have in mind a role for women not only in the culture in which he was living, but also in the church. It was not necessarily a minor role; it could very well be a major role, depending upon the situation and the place. There were obviously some women who were abusing their positions and, as the result, were being admonished by Paul in his direct addresses to at least two churches that they needed to keep a proper spiritual perspective in relationship to modesty, respect and submission.

Note: We need to be able to take a look at the passages that I have mentioned and consider them honestly...free from presuppositions...which is not necessarily an easy thing to do. One of the difficult problems with interpretation is that we were all taught specific things in certain ways, and it is difficult to separate ourselves from this. It is humbling and challenging to come to conclusions that are different than the ones that we have been taught...and I have had this happen for me concerning a number of passages...but this does not mean that we have to disparage either our former educators or our new understanding. In fact, I like to call it growth. :-) We simply need to be thankful that God can help us to see things differently...to gain insights in ways that we may not have understood before and that it is okay. God bless you in your studies.

Blessings, Don

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

To Be (Heard) or Not to Be (Heard)...An Investigation of Men and Women's Roles in the Church, Pt. 2


In 1 Corinthians 11, there is different instruction given in relationship to this issue that we will now explore. Paul picks up the theme of liberty from 1 Corinthians chapters 8-10 and brings the argument into 1 Corinthians 11 and continues with it. Without a doubt, this is a fascinating section to interpret. Sorting out all of these issues and principles in context is a big challenge. He seems to be making a circular argument dealing with issues of culture in Corinth, and at the same time, proclaiming universal principles for all Christians. There are certain situations pertaining to creation revealed in vv.2-3, 8-12, and situations of culture in vv.4-7, 13-16. The primary issue, here, is concerning respect and submission. There were a number of problems with the Corinthian church in relationship to submission. Women in the Greek culture were feeling restricted culturally and religiously, and some of them were rebelling against the customs of the day. They were not submitting to the principles of “freedom in Christ,” concerning which Paul just shared in chapters 8-10, and they, therefore, were not respecting the authority of God. The men and women (or husbands and wives) were not living with respect to one another. Paul begins dealing with the issue and continues his argument in the following chapters, which we have already discussed.

When Paul talks about Christ being the head of every man, there are a couple of different ways that this can be understood. The word “head” can mean either “origin” or “master”. In other words, man has His spiritual origin in Christ, or Christ is the master of man. Either interpretation makes sense, but it only becomes clear when we consider the second part of the statement -- “the head of the woman is man.” I don’t believe that Paul would be talking about the relationship in terms of “order”, that is “man being the master of woman” especially considering his argument from vv.11-12. There are two truths here that are in tension with each other in this passage (v.3 and v.11), but both are true -- woman comes from man, also man and woman cannot be independent from each other. It makes more sense if he is talking about “origin”. Woman has her origin from man, in that the woman, Eve, was formed from the rib of the man, Adam (Genesis 2:18-25). And of course, Christ has His origin in God -- He was with God and He was God at the same time (John 1:1).

Another consideration here is that Paul is also talking about the husband and wife relationship (as we see in chapter 14). The word for man, here, is aner, which can mean either man or husband. The word for woman is gunay, which can mean either woman or wife. As Paul proceeds to make his argument throughout the course of this section, culminating with chapter 14, he seems to be talking in terms of husbands and wives in some contexts (vv.4-7, 13-16), but men and women in others (particularly the “universal” passages, vv.2-3, 8-12).

There were problems with men and women coming into the assembly with the wrong mindset in relationship to how they should be properly covered. It is really easy to miss the main thrust of what Paul is saying here. We must keep in mind that the big issue is respect and authority (v.10) -- not hair. Now while Jewish men would wear a prayer shawl or covering called a tallith, this was not the case with the men in Corinth. It would also appear to be a cultural taboo for men to have long hair (v.14). The men in the Greek culture were to have their heads uncovered when they prayed or prophesied. (Prophesy here could be either “fore-telling” the future or “forth-telling” the message of God -- it doesn’t really matter for the purpose of the argument that Paul is making).

The instruction for the women was just the opposite of that given to the men. They were not to pray and prophesy with their heads uncovered. Even though it is not a part of the argument that Paul is making, it would appear that at this time and in this place that women were indeed praying and prophesying. When we consider that Philip had four daughters who prophesied in the early church (Acts 21:8-9), it is hard to say definitively how and when this took place. As we can see, it was not to be at a time or in a manner that would be disruptive to the assembly, but it is apparent that it was taking place. If this passage is in relationship to an assembly context (11:1-16), which it certainly appears to be, it would help us to further understand the nature of the assembly at Corinth. Now, we must also understand that it is possible that some of this instruction has been modified by the time that Paul writes to Timothy and the church in Ephesus. We will consider this later when we come to Paul’s instruction to Timothy.

The women needed to have their heads covered in order to show respect and submission to the men (i.e. their husbands) and to higher beings as well. It is important to talk about the covering itself since it, historically, has been the subject of some discussion. The KJV has the translation “veil” whereas other of the more prominent translations (NAS, RSV, NIV) have translated it “covering.” The KJV translation was the result of its own cultural bias at the time; the rendering “veil” comes from a 13th century Byzantine manuscript, whereby women in the culture of that time (particularly “Muslim” but not excluding other cultures) wore actual veils. This practice continued through the 17th century during the time that the KJV was translated, and is still true even today in some cultures (once again, predominantly the Muslim religious culture).

During the time of Christ (when the letters to Corinth were written), the covering for women at that time was long hair (v.15). This was particularly so for Greek and Roman women, but not necessarily for Jewish women at that time. Jewish women would wear a long body shawl that would be wrapped around them ornamentally which they would pull up over the heads at the appropriate time and place. The women in the Greek culture were to come to the assembly with their hair up, as in a bun. In this way, they would be living with respect to the men, culturally and religiously. Some rebellious women were coming to the assembly time with their hair down which was a cultural taboo -- this was how the prostitutes of the day wore their hair. It was also ritual practice for many women in non-Christian religious associations, such as those who would be worshippers of Isis, the primary goddess of those living in Corinth. Therefore, proper ladies would not be seen in public with their hair down -- it would be an offense. So, it would appear from all of the information that the “covering” was more of a cultural issue that needed to be respected at the time of the writing of the Corinthian letters.

Any interpretations concerning “veils” or “coverings” applied to other cultures and contexts would be of a personal/communal nature, that is, it would be up to them. But, it is apparent that the cultural issues that the Corinthians, and others at that time, were dealing with were not binding on others. However, the spiritual principles of submission and respect lined out in this passage would still appear to be applicable to all cultures. Men and women must not have a cultural style or demeanor that is “shocking” to those around them. Once again, men and women, husbands and wives must live with respect to one another (see Ephesians 5:21-33).

Blessings, Don

Thursday, November 14, 2013

To Be (Heard) or Not to Be (Heard)...An Investigation of Men and Women's Roles in the Church


Nothing like picking on a "touchy" Biblical subject to investigate...one that I do not believe that it should be so, however. But, this is an important subject and it is one that requires study, because it is a critical subject to the genuine life and health of the body of Christ. So, without further ado, we will consider part one.

I believe that a significant concern for the early church was that certain women, experiencing their new-found freedom in Christ, could not properly assess their role or position in society or the church, therefore some of the NT writers (Paul and Peter, particularly) deal with the situation in the newly-formed church. It is apparent that in Ephesus and Corinth (predominantly Greek societies, where women had greater "freedom" in some respects) that some of the women were abusing the grace shown to them and were usurping the authority of their (prophet) husbands and perhaps other male leaders who were worshipping in those places. At the same time, Paul does outline that, in general, the leadership of the church should be male (1 Timothy 3, Titus 1). I do believe that there were and are apparent exceptions to this rule (Phoebe, for example, Romans 16:1ff). Our fellowship, historically, has struggled to understand the overall context of the NT concerning this issue (an overemphasis on 1 Corinthians 14, 1 Timothy 2 to the detriment, or ignorance of other data from the NT). Therefore, in many cases, our churches have had an unbalanced relationship concerning men and women and their function within the church.

The definitive passage that most have focused upon in relationship to this discussion has been 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, which says, “Let the women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says. And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.” This is one, big steering wheel of a passage for many people. The way that I have heard this passage interpreted is that it has been taken in a literal sense to say – the women are to keep absolutely, literally silent. Yet, the fascinating “inconsistency” in relationship to our fellowship, is that we generally have not “literally” abided by this. We have allowed our women to speak up in Bible class and have permitted them to sing in the assembly time including, to be able to speak once they enter the building for assembly time, (which would not take place if it were “absolute” silence). There were no “authorized” bible classes then, but they have become a recognized expedient over the centuries in order to help our people better learn the Bible and be better committed to the Lord…and this is a good idea. I have heard of some fellowships that have interpreted and applied this passage “absolutely literally;” their women “literally say nothing” upon entering the building until they depart. Although I disagree with this interpretation, I have to respect them, somewhat, for their consistency. However, the real question is -- what is this passage really saying in its context? We Christians have a bad habit of taking passages out of their context and building a theology. We need to be careful to honestly approach our Bible study, otherwise can get us into big trouble when we are seeking to interpret. It is necessary to keep these two verses in the context of 1 Corinthians 14, first of all, then the context of 1 Corinthians 11-14, then 1 Corinthians, the New Testament and finally the Bible as a whole. This telescoping out of “context” helps us to be thorough in our study and allow us to better interpret passages of Scripture.

What we do understand concerning Corinth, Ephesus and other churches at that time is that the women needed to be respectful and submissive to their husbands. Paul was not saying that they were “literally, to be absolutely silent” at all times. An important consideration in this discussion is that some have interpreted “in all the churches of the saints” (14:33b) as if it is to be connected to v.34, rather than v.33. The original Greek did not have the punctuation in place the same way that our English translations do, so there are situations where the context has determined where the punctuation should go for the English translators who translated the Bible over the centuries. Some translations have “in all the churches of the saints” (v.33b) going with “let the women keep silent” (v.34). I believe that the New American Standard version depicts this most accurately as it keeps “in all the churches of the saints in v.33 with “for God is not a God of confusion, but of peace.” It makes more sense to consider the latter principle as being the more universally held principle than the former (see in v.34). As we have discussed, the issue of boisterous women behaving in a disrespectful manner was a significant problem, at least in Corinth, and perhaps in Ephesus (1 Timothy 2), and in other places (1 Peter 3).

When we broaden our study to consider 1 Corinthians 11, as well as 1 Timothy 2, we will see all of this even more clearly. This is especially the case given that he has been dealing with such cultural issues as “hair” already. In 14:29-32, the prophets are to speak and pass judgment, but all in relationship to being respectful and orderly (14:40) concerning how they were to be presenting their information from the Lord. However, there had apparently become some confusion about what was taking place in the assembly at Corinth as some of the wives of these prophets were disrupting the flow of the service, perhaps with their own “prophesying” (1 Corinthians 11:5), or they were just being disagreeable and boisterous, in general. They also may have been “cross-examining” their own husbands publicly (thinking they had the better interpretation, perhaps), which would quickly create chaos in the assembly. We clearly do not understand everything that is going on, but we have enough information to discern the situation. Now, all of this is interesting, especially in relationship to the Greek culture, where women typically had no public role at the time. Paul was trying to help them understand some “spiritual” principles regarding…not only the church…but with respect to their culture. What we do know is that when Jesus came, He set women free from the cultural captivity that they had been exposed to for thousands of years under the Jewish cultural system. This has always been a significant sticking point for me – why would we want our ladies “to be seen and not heard” as did the Jewish people, when Jesus came to set them free from such a strict life and religion? Paul tells the Galatians that “all have been set free in Christ” and we are “one in Christ” in order to experience the salvation of the Lord (Galatians 3:28, 5:1). Now, we must be careful not to discard all cultural principles when we consider this issue, but we must discern which principles are culturally bound and which ones are universal in their application. Understand, however, that Jewish women basically had the same value “as property” and so they were not even permitted to learn or be educated in the rabbinical schools, etc. It was not ever the Lord’s intention for women to be put into such arbitrary subjection, yet this is how many Jewish males treated their women (with some notable exceptions – Deborah, Esther, etc.). When Paul tells Timothy and the Ephesians in 1 Timothy 2:11 that women can receive instruction, this is radical teaching, as this had not ever been allowed, or happened before (in general – see the movie Yentl for an interesting reference). What we do understand concerning the situation in the Greek and Jewish cultures is that there was some room for “interpretation” even in their own unique cultural circumstances. For example, even in our own world cultures today, we have typically had the men serve the Lord’s Supper in our American churches of Christ. Yet, in certain Asian cultures, it would be unacceptable for the men to serve the women, rather, it is necessary for the women to serve the men. So, when we return to Corinth, we see some unique circumstances that help to create the current environment under which this instruction comes.

Another important factor in the discussion is the use of the word “silence.” The word in the original Greek is sigao, which means “to be silent or to keep silent.” When we consider all of the ramifications and everything else going on, culturally, as we have stated above, we can see why Paul uses this word in this particular situation, given the fact that the disruption created by certain women was having disastrous results in the assembly. The other word used in relationship to this principle of submission is aysukia, meaning peaceable, quietness or having a quiet demeanor. This word is used in most of the other passages in relationship to this subject – see 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and 1 Peter 3:4. When we consider the big picture of how it is that God wants His women (and men for that matter) to behave, it should be with this frame of mind and according to this spirit. This is the attitude that he wanted the women in Corinth (and all women in the churches) to be exercising – one of a gentle and quiet spirit, not boisterous and domineering. This is the general principle (quietness) in relationship to the specific situation (silence) seen in Corinth. When we think about the cultural and spiritual issues and discussions that were taking place, we can see why it would make sense that Paul wanted the women everywhere to have “the quiet spirit that was befitting godliness.” The general principle at work is not that he wanted all of the women everywhere to be absolutely silent as it pertained to the assembly and Christian living. It is also important to note that he shares in the context of the discussion that if the (said) “wives” should have questions that they should ask their “husbands” at home (v.35), which sheds further light upon the context. So, is Paul…once again…making a statement for all women for all time…or, is he dealing with an issue pertaining to prophets and their wives? The fact that he is dealing with husbands and wives certainly provides some important context for understanding the discussion at hand. We will continue the discussion by going back to chapter 11 of 1 Corinthians next time.

Blessings, Don

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Power in the Name


Luanne Oleas shares this story -- When the 1960s ended, San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district reverted to high rent, and many hippies moved down the coast to Santa Cruz. They had children and got married, too, though in no particular sequence. But they didn't name their children Melissa or Brett. People in the mountains around Santa Cruz grew accustomed to their children playing Frisbee with little Time Warp or Spring Fever. And eventually Moonbeam, Earth, Love and Precious Promise all ended up in public school. That's when the kindergarten teachers first met Fruit Stand. Every fall, according to tradition, parents bravely apply name tags to their children, kiss them good-bye and send them off to school on the bus. So it was for Fruit Stand. The teachers thought the boy's name was odd, but they tried to make the best of it. "Would you like to play with the blocks, Fruit Stand?" they offered. And later, "Fruit Stand, how about a snack?" He accepted hesitantly. By the end of the day, his name didn't seem much more unique than Heather's or Sun Ray's. At dismissal time, the teachers led the children out to the buses. "Fruit Stand, do you know which one is your bus?" He didn't answer. That wasn't strange. He hadn't answered them all day. A lot of children are shy on the first day of school. It didn't matter. The teachers had instructed the parents to write the names of their children's bus stops on the reverse side of their name tags. The teacher simply turned over the tag. There, neatly printed, was the word "Anthony." Aaah, oh well. The lessons we learn, right? Names are important, as they more closely identify us than anything else we own.

So, it is with this in mind that we further come to understand the unique relationship between the Father and the Son here in John 17:6-12…and how the Son carries the name of the Father. The Old Testament Jew knew God has Jehovah, the Great I AM (Exodus 3:11-14). Jesus takes the sacred name I AM and makes it not only personal, but meaningful for His disciples. “I AM the Bread of Life” (John 6:35), “I AM the Light of the World” (John 8:12), “I AM the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11) all reveal that Jesus is everything that they need. But, the Father’s name includes much more than this, for Jesus also teaches His disciples that God, the Great I AM, is their Heavenly Father. “The Father” is used 53 times in John 13-17, and 122 times in John’s gospel. We get the picture as to who is in the picture here. Jesus makes it clear, repeatedly, that it is the Father who sent Him, that He is equal to the Father, and that His words and works come from the Father. He makes a clear claim to the fact that He is deity, but they refuse to believe. By saying that He has “manifested the name of the Father”, He reveals the very nature of God. One of the ministries of the Son is to declare the Father (John 1:18, 14:7ff). It is through His living the life of service, that He gradually…by His words and deeds…reveals the nature of His Father in a way that they are able to more readily grasp it.

It is because we believe in the name of God and the power of salvation that comes in His Son, that we understand that we, as believers, have safety. Peter and John believed in this, as they proclaimed the power of the name of Jesus is Acts 3-4. God took care of them. God takes care of His own people. The Father purchased us through His Son, and He is not going to allow us to have to fend for ourselves. As we discussed in chapter sixteen, God gives to us His Holy Spirit to guide and protect us in our walk with Him. Furthermore, God’s people are the Father’s gift to His Son. Would the Father present His Son with a gift that would not last? Whenever you feel down or as if the Lord has somehow forgotten you, read Romans 8:28-39. The Father is near…He is present…He cares for us and what is going on in our lives. The Spirit helps us to understand better the presence of the Father for us and through us.

We come back to the theme of glory once again. With all of their faults and failures, the disciples still receive this word of commendation – that Jesus is glorified in them. As I mentioned last week, we need a Savior, because we are going to blow it, we make mistakes, we sin. But, the Lord God knows this. This is why He would send his Son to rescue us from ourselves. And no one can take this away from us. Once we have received salvation in Christ, the only way that we cannot have it is to walk away from it. We must be faithful to Him who called us out of the darkness and into His glorious light.

Finally, we have fellowship and unity (v.11)…a theme that He is going to come back to shortly. Wherever we find saints, we find fellowship. We have the most important thing, and in this case, the most important person in the world in common – Jesus Christ. The Father knew that we would need one another. After washing their feet and up until the time of His crucifixion, Jesus knows that they are going to face trying times and that they are going to need one another. We are able to be overcomers in this life, because we share in the life of the One who has overcome sin, flesh and even death itself. So, even though one day we are going to die, it will be as if passing through a gate from one form of spiritual/eternal existence to another. Jesus is going to be waiting for us, by the power and authority of the name of His Father. What a marvelous thing!

Bruce Larson, in Believe and Belong, tells how he helped people struggling to surrender their lives to Christ: "For many years I worked in New York City and counseled at my office any number of people who were wrestling with this yes-or-no decision. Often I would suggest they walk with me from my office down to the RCA Building on Fifth Avenue. In the entrance of that building is a gigantic statue of Atlas, a beautifully proportioned man who, with all his muscles straining, is holding the world upon his shoulders. There he is, the most powerfully built man in the world, and he can barely stand up under this burden. 'Now that's one way to live,' I would point out to my companion, 'trying to carry the world on your shoulders. But now come across the street with me.' "On the other side of Fifth Avenue is Saint Patrick's Cathedral, and there behind the high altar is a little shrine of the boy Jesus, perhaps eight or nine years old, and with no effort he is holding the world in one hand. My point was illustrated graphically. "We have a choice. We can carry the world on our shoulders, or we can say, 'I give up, Lord; here's my life. I give you my world, the whole world.'"

In a sense, this is the message that Jesus is sharing with His disciples…then and now. You and I can try to take on the world, put it all on our shoulders and see how long we are able to bear up…or, we can let it go. We can trust in the power of the name of God, and the authority of the name of Jesus to take care of us. It is in the strength and power found in Jesus that we are going to find victory and overcome this world, religious trappings, and other matters that seek to weigh us down. There is a song that came out recently that really captures this wonderful thought, and I fell in love with it quickly, because it helps us to gain some perspective on life. It is called “Just Say Jesus.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWbYo6H0WiI

Blessings, Don