Category Archives: faith

I’ll Go Home. Will You?

Thoughts on John MacArthur’s Words About Beth Moore

There are a lot of things in modern culture that make my blood boil or rend my heart into pieces. As a practice, I take these things inward – pray & process – but then usually keep my mouth shut unless prompted to speak up & out. I choose my battles, as it were.

As a woman that feels called not just to speak, but to actually preach (*gasp!), I’m choosing this battle.

After seeing articles flash across my social media feeds regarding John MacArthur’s stinging words about Beth Moore over the last couple of days, I decided to actually listen to the audio myself.

Let me give a little context to that first. I braced myself for a personal sting. I knew I’d be walking in to something that feels very personal, something that would potentially trigger hurt & pain & oppressive “upper hands” memories from my past in regards to using my voice for His purposes.

What I discovered, unfortunately, was exactly that. Several things struck me about this whole situation:

  1. The audio I listened to had a picture attached. It was a shot of all white, grey-haired men watching a stage of all white, grey-haired men talking on a stage. It felt like being a fly on the wall to a special men’s (only) club where the laughter is coarse & the jokes are demeaning. The tone in the room punched me in the gut. Not the good kind of punch when truth strikes you, but the kind where you feel devalued just because you’re you.
  2. Before John MacArthur answers the question fielded by Todd Friel, he says “I feel like I’m being set up.” Maybe he was. But here’s the thing – he bantered back & forth & then took a long pause before he uttered two graceless words that triggered a charged reaction from the crowd when he spoke his pithy response to the name Beth Moore: “Go Home.” His words were chosen. Selective. And felt all too similar to the antiquated demand to women: “Go back to the kitchen.”
  3. This all happened at a conference called “Truth Matters” by Grace to You at Grace Community Church. Do you notice the repetition of the word “grace” here & the fact that in the snippet of this panel discussion, that “grace” was obsolete? I did.
  4. As the conversation continues, Phil Johnson calls Beth Moore narcissistic. He says, “This is what it looks like to preach yourself rather than Christ.” He then goes on to say that “She has said, ‘I read the Bible & put myself in the narrative.'” I don’t know about you, but when I meet with God on the pages of His Holy Word, I often find myself in the narrative as well. That doesn’t take away from the original meaning, it enhances it & gives me a practical way to live out my life of sanctification with & before Him.

I could go on with more thoughts on this, but my intent is not to bash these men. It’s really not. I recognize that they actually believe what they are saying & that’s why they are so passionate.

My intent here is to speak on behalf of women called by God – to partner with Him in building His kingdom – who’ve lived under this level of ridiculous oppression in the Christian world over & over again.

This isn’t about women wanting to be at the same table as the men. It’s not about gender equality or even egalitarianism. It’s not about submission. It’s not about feminism in the burning bras kind of way or the “I am woman, hear me roar” kind of way. It’s about freedom to be who God called us to be as women on a mission with Him… for His purposes of building His kingdom (not ours) on earth as it is in heaven. And sometimes that means using our voices to speak His truth… to women AND men. (Again, *gasp.)

A friend of mine actually posted this on Facebook yesterday – “Church: The only place I feel like a feminist.” It’s funny &… sad.

For me, being a woman called to use my voice starts here with Him:

But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” ~ Jeremiah 20:9

I’m choosing to speak out as a woman, called by my Father & Maker, because I know where my identity lies. In Him. And I can’t hold it in. It’s like a fire shut up in my bones. And I know that He called me & He values me as a woman called to preach & to speak & to shout His name from the rooftops & to whisper it in the quiet. Wherever that is, whatever it looks like. He invited me to partner with Him & He values me (& you!)… radically.

But guess what? I’m tired. We’re tired. We’re exhausted from this battle. Our hands are weary, our bodies bruised. We’re over fighting to be heard. We’re done with being stomped on & overlooked because of our gender. And not because we “need” the eyes of man on our lives & our calling to empower us, because we actually KNOW that we’re empowered & championed by Jesus (who also happened to be a man), “The Great Equalizer” (as Cara Meredith calls him here in her article on this John MacArthur hoo-ha).

But here’s where it lands for me. As I’ve listened to the words of these men & their chaffing tone in the way they’ve presented their thoughts, I’ve ruminated relentlessly on those two pointed words: Go Home.

And here’s what I say: I will go Home. Gladly. Because for me, the true definition of “Home” is the Presence of God.

Where He is, that is Home. I long for that place. Every day. I can’t live or be or breathe without being at Home with Him.

That longing leads me to sit at His feet, pouring out the oil of my heart to my Best Friend. It leads me to adorn Him with worship & songs, deep breaths & silence. It leads me to meet Him in that secret place, to soak-in every Word He infuses into my heart… To let Him sing His poetry over me. Day by day. Moment by moment. Word by Word. Breath by breath.

So this is not about theological conviction or opinion. It’s not about learnedness or a mastery of Greek & Hebrew. It’s not about holding a fancy degree or certificate of completion in specialized Biblical training (though I have a few of those). It’s about presence, engagement with Him as He is with us. It’s about leaning in to the fact that Jesus values women (always did), just as He values all people – black, white, slave, free, male, female, etc. He values you. He values me. And we find our true Home in Him.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. ~ Galatians 3:28 (NIV)

So, to John MacArthur, I simply say: I will go Home. But my question is, will you?

Because then & only then, can we have a constructive conversation about a woman’s true place & a man’s true place: at Home.

Missing Out On The Fear Of Missing Out

The “fear of missing out” is real. For an Enneagram Type 7 like myself, it taunts and teases me, pushing me into a corner, where I feel like a toddler puffy-cheek pouting in timeout.

You see, I want to taste and touch and experience every aspect of life. Because of that, choices overwhelm me.

What should I wear today? (Ultimately it’s based on comfort and color and practicality.)

What do I want to eat? (It’s better not to ask. I usually don’t know, although I’ll never say no to chips and salsa.)

How should I prioritize my day? (There are 8000 things I want to do in one day, so I eventually – somewhat painfully – just pick one.)

These choices are small. But what about the bigger decisions of life?

This past week, on the heels of July, which was split with a ministry adventure to West Virginia (Camp ROYAL) and family vacation in Colorado, I landed in August with 7 (yes, S-E-V-E-N) big decisions on my plate.

Ugh. The exhaustion of constantly having to prioritize what’s most important or what’s best to put aside for a season. Does this resonate with you? (Shall we pause and enjoy a cup of tea instead?!)

True confession: I’m terrible at editing… not just in writing, but, more importantly… in life.

So last week (and part of this week), I’ve been discerning decisions about two part-time job offers or running full speed ahead with vision I have through freelance ministry endeavors as well as whether or not to attend two work conferences, one spiritual retreat, and a 40th birthday trip for a friend.

Here’s the problem: it ALL seems thrilling. And guess what? I DON’T WANT TO MISS OUT.

On Sunday in the aftermath of some of that decision-making, the sermon at my church was about fear because, as my pastor said, “It’s a form of focus.” I sat through the sermon and jotted lots of notes, per norm, feeling slightly high and mighty and grateful that fear isn’t something I really struggle with. And then, after the sermon, during worship and a time of reflection, I got the gentle Jesus slap to the face.

IT HIT ME. THE FEAR OF “MISSING OUT” IS A REAL FEAR. And it carries too much weight in my life. So it IS a struggle. Sheesh.

As I sat there wide-eyed in self-analysis mode, running my brainwaves through the trails of all the events and conversations and questions of last week, I realized that the fear of missing out was hindering my ability to make wise decisions. Somehow it had floated itself to the top of the surface as a PRIORITY in my decision-making processes.

NO NO NO. NO MORE!

Here’s why: Because in that moment, standing in total shock of this revelation and in a response of dazed surrender, I realized that WHEN I’M WITH GOD, I CANNOT BE MISSING OUT.

See, if my goal is to be in His will, to be WITH HIM, aware of His Presence… that requires that I go where He is… where He is leading, guiding, directing, releasing.

And even more than that. HE IS IN ME.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.
~ Psalm 139:7-12

So I literally cannot be missing out… because if I am with Him, and He is with me, I am missing nothing. The opportunity to my right or left is NOT better if He is not leading me there. It’s not more fun. It doesn’t have nicer people or ideas that will bring clarity or revelation. It’s not better than where I am right now.

It CANNOT be if He is NOT with me there. And because He is with me, because He resides in me, where I am is where I need to be.

There is no missing out for you or me… except on one thing: the fear of missing out. I’m happy to bid that one adieu.

x Bethany

the hope adventure LAUNCHES!

Hi friends –

Do you ever get to the end of a journey (which is really just the beginning) and wonder how you got there? I’m in that place right now and the only-sometimes-obvious answer is, “by taking one step at a time.”

Really that’s the only way we can do it. And I’m thankful, because otherwise, life would be too overwhelming!

But speaking of journeys and beginnings… I want to announce to you that I launched my podcast today! It’s called The Hope Adventure and is a place where we’ll explore the truth that The Greatest Adventure is His Presence.

I travel a lot. When I do, my parents always bid me adieu at the airport or in the driveway with the same encouragement, “Go find another story.” ⁣⁣

This podcast is a culmination of those stories and the deep spiritual meaning that can be found in a simple story.⁣⁣

I believe that God is always speaking to us if we would just tune our hearts and ears to listen. My prayer is that this podcast helps us do that together. ⁣⁣

And if nothing else, if you just want someone to pray over you weekly. Listen in. There will always be a moment for that.  ⁣⁣

[To listen, click on the link above or visit iTunes, Spotify, GooglePlay, or Stitcher, and search The Hope Adventure.⁣]

Please subscribe and leave a review so that more people can join us as well! ⁣⁣

Let’s adventure together…

x Bethany

You Gain Strength…

Glen Cairn, South Africa | Photo by J. Bethany Anderson ©2009

In January of 2018, I was traveling back from serving with refugees in Athens, Greece when the plane I was on flew directly over Brandon, Canada. I was currently discerning a job offer and my would-be boss was named Brandon so it caught my attention like a shimmery light on the horizon.

Let me pause here and insert a small caveat: I love words. I love their double, triple layers and believe that meaning can be found anywhere that we take time and space to dig deep. I believe this not because of some weird, airy-fairy thing, but because one of the deepest convictions of my heart is that God is ALWAYS speaking. We just have to train ourselves to shut out the noise – the non-stop thoughts about our to-do list, how to wisely navigate that relationship, what to eat, what to wear to that event, when to make that decision, etc. – and STILL our hearts long enough to wonder.

So when that shimmery light of a word, “Brandon,” caught my attention, curiosity struck. So I researched that blip on the map and stumbled across some important words. The city’s motto is from the Latin: VIRES AQUIRIT EUNDO –> It gains strength by going as it goes.  

Fast-forward to January of this year [2019] and as I was reflecting on what God might have for me this year, He kept whispering the same phrase into my spirit: It gains strength by going as it goes.  

2018 was a whirlwind, in regards to my work. I took that job as an event coordinator for an action sports ministry [ROYAL] and spent my entire summer in West Virginia working with young athletes, published my first book [Kiss My Fish: Tales of Chasing God Around the World] as well as my first e-devotional [Give My Heart], and completed a 6-piece commissioned art project for a friend. Those twelve months flew by!

I was geared up and ready to hit the ground running in 2019. I had days marked on the calendar for goal-planning and dream sessions. I had a list of to-dos longer than my forearm and I was motivated to take it all on with the focus of a horse with blinders on.

And then, it happened. I woke up on December 26th with a full-blown cold/sinus/headache/allergy thing that knocked the wind, energy, and all my motivation sideways. For two weeks straight, I fought that monster. I tried to hit my to-do list. I tried to sit down and plan my goals. But I could never get past the throbbing headache or debilitating fatigue.

I could feel myself rapidly spiraling downwards into a dark hole. I had been in places like that before and I wanted to do everything in my power to thwart being thrown completely off-track at the start of a new year.

Eventually, my body healed, but the feeling that I was already way behind lingered on repeat in my mind. In the middle of that fast-paced descent downwards, God came alongside me with gentleness. He said over and over again to me, “It gains strength by going as it goes.” I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant, but it gave me enough oomph to do the next right thing.

And so, I did. The next right thing was taking it a day at a time, breathing in-between, and continually asking Him, “What’s on Your heart today, Father?”

And now, here it is – the end of February, which I deemed as my “official” [re]start of 2019. And I’m excited to announce that exactly one week from today [on March 5th!] I will be launching my podcast – The Hope Adventure, a place for us to explore the beautiful truth that “The Greatest Adventure is His Presence.”

One thing I know for certain is that in those moments when I felt zero motivation and was stuck in analysis-paralysis due to clouded thinking, confusion about which option to pursue, and an overall pause to my momentum, I kept the mantra in front of me and personalized it.

I gain strength by going as I go.

I gain strength by going as I go.

I gain strength by going as I go.

And I figured for that to be true, I just needed to keep going. And maybe you do, too…

x Bethany

www.jbethanyanderson.com