Julie Coleman on “Context”

When Bible Interpretation Goes Wrong: Context Matters

By Julie Coleman

Location, location, location. 1 Thing flower transparent

It was our number one consideration when house shopping. Location largely determines the value and desirability of a home. A beautiful home too far from work or in a bad school district has little attraction to the buyer. It makes a huge difference where a home is planted.

The same can be said about the location, or context, of a passage of Scripture. The reason we study the Bible is to glean truth from God—to discover His perspective, His instruction, and hear His heart. So the last thing we should want to do is put words in His mouth! Ignoring the context can result in an interpretation that means something far different than God ever meant Scripture to communicate.

Several years ago I read a devotional with that kind of error. The author wrote of a certain third-world country recently coming to financial ruin, resulting in many children now living on the streets. Her hope was that God would send them someone to declare the words of Hebrews 6:9: “We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation.” The writer basically interpreted the verse as a promise of a better financial future for those who believed the gospel. The Scripture she chose seems to validate her claim… until you look at its context.

Hebrews 6 begins with an encouragement to believers to press on to maturity. As a warning, the negative example is given of some who had experienced salvation but eventually fell away. “But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation…we desire that each one of you show…diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end.”

Hebrews 6:9 is not a promise that prosperity or physical blessings will accompany salvation! It is an exhortation to believers to be diligent and persevere. This devotional writer’s careless interpretation promised something to her readers that God has never pledged to do.

Carefully examining context is one of the best ways to avoid this kind of error.

Two Key Questions Will Help

Answering two key questions can help us bring the context of the passage into focus:

  • What is the author’s purpose in writing?
  • How does this passage contribute to the message of the whole?

Thinking through these questions helps us dig deeper into the Word, and often uncovers great truths in the process.

Example 1: Mark 6 – “Rest” Jesus-Style

As an example, let’s look at the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 in Mark 6. While the order of events in the gospels are loosely chronological, they are better seen as parts of a context the author is purposefully building to make a point to his readers.

A look backward at what comes just before the miracle gives insight. The disciples had been sent out by Jesus to surrounding cities to preach repentance and the kingdom of God (Mark 6:7-13). They returned flushed with success, glorying in the miraculous power they had been given to heal which validated their preaching (Mark 6:30). It was a heady taste of their future apostolic ministry. But Jesus knew their experience was only part of what they would experience. It would not be only glory and excitement. There would be plenty of hardship, discouragement, and exhaustion as well. They would need to learn about abiding in Him.

So He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31) The group boarded a boat and headed to the wilderness.

But when they arrived, a crowd was waiting for them. Jesus spent the day teaching and healing with the still-tired disciples working by His side. Finally, as the day wound down, the disciples approached Jesus. They were anxious for some of that rest He had promised. Send the crowd away, they urged. They are hungry and need to take care of their needs.

Jesus had other plans. “You give them something to eat,” he told them.

Wait…what? There was not enough money in the till for that. This was an impossible number. Jesus sent them looking for food in the crowd. All they could come up with was a boy’s lunch of five loaves of bread and two fish: woefully inadequate to feed 5,000. But Jesus assured them: it would be enough.

Jesus miraculously provided the food. But He kept the disciples involved. He told them to organize the crowd, seating them in groups of hundreds and fifties. He had the disciples distribute the food as it was created. The crowd ate and was satisfied. Then the disciples were ordered to gather up the leftovers.

It was a lot of physical labor. I imagine it took some effort just to follow Jesus’ orders, considering they had just returned from extended travels. But in the end, the disciples had learned a huge lesson on what it meant to (truly) rest in Christ.

We think of rest as putting our feet up and taking a little nap. The rest Jesus wanted to show them was in placing their trust in the power of God. He would use the disciples to build his kingdom. They would be the hands and feet of Christ. But they needed to know the conviction of hearts and the transformed lives would be God’s work. They were merely messengers.

Would it be enough? Yes, abundantly more. The twelve leftover baskets were proof of that. A basket full of uneaten food was left for each disciple. God would provide more than they could even use. They could rest in His power alone.

Do you see how the context adds such rich meaning to the miracle? Never miss the surrounding details. They are key to unlocking wonderful truths.

Example 2: Matthew 7 – What Constitutes Faith’s Foundation?

A second example of how context makes a difference can be found in a parable Jesus taught. I recently heard a speaker teach on the story of the house built on sand from Matthew 7:24-27. His main point was we build our house on rock by our obedience. In other words, our righteous acts lay a firm foundation. If we weren’t obedient, he warned, we did not belong to God. We may call Him Lord, but we are fooling ourselves.

What?? I was floored. How much obedience would qualify me? Because I fail to obey time and time again. If it is up to my actions, I am doomed. Then the words to an old hymn ran through my mind, assuring me: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness…On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” My foundation was in Christ alone.

Where did this speaker go wrong? He missed the context around the parable. If only he had just gone back a few verses! In Matthew 7:15, Jesus begins the larger context by warning the disciples that false prophets would come, looking like harmless sheep, but who were actually ravenous wolves. They will claim to know Him, even call Him Lord, but in reality, they won’t know Jesus at all. You’ll know them by their fruits, he told them. Their false doctrines will lead people away from God.

Then Jesus says a single word: therefore… connecting this warning with the parable he is about to tell: a metaphor comparing building lives on His words to building a house on a rock foundation. “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them may be compared to a wise man who built his house upon a rock…” (Matthew 7:24)

Listening to the false prophets, on the other hand, is like the man who builds his house on sand, Jesus continues. The first storm that comes along will knock that home right to the ground. Determine to base your faith on the rock solid truth of my words rather than the shifting sands of false teaching.

The connection the speaker missed was Jesus’ focus on the truth vs. false doctrine. Both men in the parable were builders. But there was a huge different on where they were building. Base your faith and lives on the Lord Jesus’ words of truth, not on the lies of an imposter.

Both of the above examples show how taking context into consideration brings a better understanding of a passage. We need to see smaller portions of Scripture as part of a whole—an example or further detail that the writer is using to bring his main point home. Interpreting Scripture through use of its context will bring a richness and clearness that pulling it out of context will never afford.

About Julie Coleman

Julie Zine ColemaJulie Coleman has been bringing audiences into a richer understanding of God through the transforming power of His Word for over two decades. With enthusiasm, transparency, and humor, she delights in helping others discover the unexpected sides of God.

Julie holds a Masters in Biblical Studies from Capital Bible Seminary. Her book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2013), was named non-fiction book of the year by the Advanced Writers’ and Speakers’ Association. She is a popular speaker for women’s events nationwide. She has been featured on many radio shows including Moody Radio’s Midday Connection as well as The Harvest Show on television.

In her former career as a school teacher, Julie won multiple awards including Anne Arundel County Teacher of the Year. She and her husband make their home in the Annapolis, MD, area. They have four grown children and six grandchildren. When she is not teaching or writing, Julie loves cooking, sewing, and being taken on daily walks by her dog Sasha.

Notes from Natalie

Do you struggle to find time and ways to begin your day in God’s presence and in the Word? True confessions: me, too…many, many days! I wanted to bring your attention to Julie’s book 15 Minutes a Day in Colossians, because in it Julie provides a way to dive deep into God’s Word in, ahem, well, 15 minutes a day. You know it’ll be a good, rich start to the day if you’re learning, growing, and stretching in your knowledge of Scripture and placing yourself in God’s presence.

Finally, for the sake of full disclosure, I broke up Julie’s text with the subtitles you see here. These are my own writing. You can blame me if you don’t like them. 🙂

Meadow Rue Merrill on Trusting God When Life Hurts, Act III: “Looking in the Word”


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Trusting God When Life Hurts

Contributed by Meadow Rue Merrill

1 Thing flower transparentWhen our daughter Ruth, who had multiple special needs, died before her eighth birthday, my husband, Dana, and I were devastated. I don’t say “completely” devastated or “profoundly” devastated, because by its very definition devastation is total. There are no degrees. Rather, we experienced a black, bleak ruin where the flowering, fruitful garden of our lives once grew.

Born in a hospital in Uganda and quickly abandoned, Ruth had spent much of the first year of her life in an orphanage before being diagnosed with cerebral palsy. She then came to Maine for six months of physical therapy. We met her through friends, fell in love with her laughing eyes and contagious smile, and completed a lengthy and complicated international adoption to give her a home.

Was raising Ruth hard? Yes. It was also the most unexpected, amazing, life-affirming, heart expanding experience of our lives. Because Ruth could physically do nothing for herself, our new routine—and our three older children’s—involved daily sacrifice. Yet, loving and serving Ruth filled us with joyful confidence that we were living out God’s will, expressed throughout scripture, to share his love with others. Our purpose was to love Ruth, and we did. Completely.

Then, without warning, Ruth died in her sleep after a mild illness. Not only did we lose a beloved child, I lost my trust in God. How could he allow this to happen? Here we had deliberately sought to obey God, and he had broken our hearts.

For months, I struggled to pray or read my Bible—once familiar practices that had often strengthened and comforted me in the past. For me, there was no comfort, only the aching question of who was to blame for Ruth’s death: us? or God? If us, how could I forgive myself? And if God, how could I trust him?

Discovering a hidden, underlying cause for Ruth’s death—something we could not have anticipated or prevented—slowly helped me let go of the guilt I felt. In the weeks and months that followed, I gave myself permission to feel and express the anguish of having lost our precious Ruth. I needed to mourn, but I also needed to be comforted. For those who trust God, grief is not the intended legacy of life. Love is.

And so, not quite trusting this God who had allowed Ruth to slip from our tender grasp, I opened my Bible to the most melancholy books I could think of, to see if perhaps God would meet me there. Ecclesiastes, which opens with the words, “Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” seemed like a safe bet. So did Lamentations, which is written in the form of a funeral dirge. I also found comfort in the Psalms, which are full of laments.

“I am exceedingly afflicted,” Israel’s ancient king David wrote in Psalm 119:107. “Revive me, O Lord, according to your word.”

This was what I needed: to be revived. The more I read, the closer I drew to God and the more tangible his presence became to me. I also became more aware of the hurts of others—not just my own. The Bible is full of misused, abandoned, downtrodden, and grief stricken people, including those actively following the will of God. To deny this is to deny the very suffering of Christ and that of other innocent people around the world—those caught in the modern slave trade, those struggling to find water, food, and shelter, those who lack proper medical care, and the millions of children like Ruth, who are still waiting for homes.

While I still ache from Ruth’s loss, looking in the word helped me to connect with the suffering of others and trust God so that I could keep sharing his love. If you read to the end of the book, you’ll discover this story’s not over yet. One day God’s redemption will be complete and suffering will be no more.

About Meadow

Meadow Rue Merrill

Meadow Rue Merrill

Meadow Rue Merrill is an editor, speaker and Christian columnist who writes books for children and adults from her home in Mid-coast Maine. This is the third essay in a summer-long blog series on trusting God when life hurts. To read other excerpts, please visit www.meadowrue.com




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Sharla Fritz on Is Meditation Dangerous?

Is Meditation Dangerous?

Contributed by Sharla Fritz

Is meditation dangerous?

Is meditation dangerous?

I remember clearly when a friend mentioned he was seeing a counselor who recommended meditation.

“Clear your mind,” the counselor instructed. “Try to empty it completely.”

Red flags immediately shot up in my own mind. “Empty your mind” did not sound like good advice in light of Jesus’ warning that an empty mind may be an invitation for evil to take up residence (Luke 11:24-26). So I warned my friend that this kind of meditation could be dangerous.

But not all meditation is alarming and unsafe. Christian meditation doesn’t aim to empty the mind. Instead, Christian meditation focuses on filling the heart by contemplating God’s Word.

Think of meditation like enjoying a rich, European chocolate. You don’t pop in the delicacy and gulp it down as quickly as you can. Instead, you savor it, let it melt on your tongue, and enjoy the rich flavor as long as the candy lasts.

When I’m meditating on Scripture, I don’t try to read through God’s Word as quickly as I can. Instead I take a small portion and deliberately savor it. I let the meaning melt into my heart.

One way to meditate on Scripture is method I call SACRED reading. Choose a small portion of Scripture (about 6-8 verses) and follow these steps spelled out by the word SACRED. (Some Scripture selections to try: Matthew 5:3-10, Ephesians 1:15-20, Philippians 4:4-9)

  • Silence your thoughts. Begin by quieting your spirit. At first your thoughts may seem to crowd out any quietness, but let them pass through your mind and eventually the chaos in your head will die down
  • Attend to the passage. Read your chosen verses. Read slowly, out loud if possible. Pause when God seems to be highlighting a certain sentence or phrase.
  • Contemplate the Word. Meditate on the passage, especially on any words the Holy Spirit seems to directing to you today. Ask yourself, “What is my truest reaction to these words: resistence? sadness? conviction? joy? peace? thanksgiving?”
  • Respond to the text. After you have taken time to listen, pray. Pour out your heart to God, responding to what He has spoken to you. Express your joy or sorrow, your gratefulness or fear. Spill out any doubts and anxieties.
  • Exhale and rest. Read the text again and rest in the love of God. Receive His peace.
  • Dwell in the Word. Don’t shut the Bible and leave the words behind. Pick out one truth that you can carry into your day, one promise that will help you live out what God has spoken to you.

This kind of meditation will not empty your mind; it will fill it with God’s peace. This kind of meditation is not dangerous; it will leave your heart and mind more secure in God’s love and abiding presence.

For More on Soul Spa

For more about meditation on Scripture, check out Sharla Fritz’s new book Soul Spa: 40 Days of Spiritual Renewal and visit her website to get her free Soul Spa Kit: 59 Ideas For Creating Your Own Spiritual Retreat.

blog-banner-email-footerAbout Sharla

Sharla Fritz, author of Soul SpaSharla Fritz is a Christian author and speaker who weaves honest and humorous stories into life-changing Bible study. Author of four books including Soul Spa, Divine Design, Bless These Lips, and Divine Makeover, Sharla writes about God’s transforming grace. She is passionate about helping women take their next step of faith.

Find out more about Sharla on her website: www.sharlafritz.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sharlafritzauthor

Twitter handle: @SharlaFritz

Soul Spa: 40 Days of Spiritual Renewal is available at CPH.org and Amazon



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Q&A with Carolyn Custis James

When I first sensed a call to write the book that later became Women, Leadership, and the Bible, people — and I mean an extraordinary number of people — suggested that I needed to contact a woman named Carolyn Custis James. I’d not yet heard of her and she’d only published one book by that time: When Life and Beliefs Collide. I found her, got involved with something she’d launched called Synergy Women’s Network, read When Life…, and have been blessed and stretched by her thoughtful approach to faith and thinking theologically ever since. Also since, she has published prolifically a handful of books that have influenced thousands of women to think more biblically, consider life more theologically, and engage the world’s spiritual and physical issues more robustly and responsibly (book list at bottom of this page)

Today’s Feature: Malestrom (Including a Book Giveaway Contest!!)

Today, we feature a Q & A with Carolyn about her latest book, Malestrom.

We’re also doing a book giveaway contest for it using the “Rafflecopter” app:

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Carolyn, please tell us how you came to title your book Malestrom.

When I started researching what is happening to men and boys in today’s world, I was stunned and disturbed by what I found. Powerful currents are bearing down on them, causing them to lose sight of who God created them to be as his sons. These currents can be overt and brutal leading to the kinds of atrocities and violence we witness in the headlines—wars, school shootings, beheadings, and the trafficking of men and boys for sex, forced labor, and soldiering. The number of male casualties on the giving and receiving ends of the violence is beyond epidemic. But these currents also come in subtle, even benign forms that catch men unawares yet still rob them of their full humanity as God intended. The repercussions of such devastating personal losses are not merely disastrous for the men themselves, but catastrophic globally as the world is depleted of the goodness and gifts men were born to offer. The maelstrom—a powerful whirlpool in the open seas that threatens to drag ships, crew, and cargo down into the ocean’s watery depths—offered the strong image I needed to represent the power and seriousness of what men are facing. A slight alteration in the spelling, and Malestrom was born.

Has the church embraced a fallen notion of manhood? And if so, what should replace it?

To answer that question, I point to the fact that there is a chapter missing in the Bible—the chapter that would show us what unfallen manhood is supposed to be. The Bible opens with a spectacular display of God in creative action and issuing the exalted mandate for human beings—male and female—to reflect him and to do his work in the world together. But before we witness a single moment of unfallen image bearer living, the Enemy invades and God’s image bearers rebel. They are cut off from their Creator and divided from one another. We are left in the ruins of a fallen world to figure out what God had in mind for us. If our reference points are broken, our conclusions will be broken too. Jesus didn’t come to endorse any human social or political system, no matter how we may try to “Christianize” or improve it. He calls those who follow him to a kingdom that is “not of this world.” Not a kinder-gentler version of how the world does things, but a Jesus, gospel way of living that is foreign to us and to our world. So to answer this question, yes, I believe we have embraced fallen notions of manhood. The Creation narrative doesn’t contain the slightest hint of one image bearer ruling over any other image bearers. Humanity’s call is outward to rule and care for creation for the good of all. What puts this whole discussion in an entirely new and alarming light is the fact that Middle Eastern experts now are linking “the struggle for identity, meaning, purpose” as a major factor that explains why disenfranchised young men (even from the West) are being drawn into the ranks of ISIS and other radical organizations. Social scientists describe an “insidious link” between masculinity and violence that fuels many of the wars that rage across our world. Malestrom is a call for the church to be fearless in putting anything and everything on the table that may stand in the way of reconnecting with God’s original vision, including patriarchy. We should care enough about men and boys—our fathers, sons, husbands, and brothers—to do this. The stakes are serious. We now have ISIS to consider.

How does patriarchy color the understanding of men’s stories within the Bible?

The fact that patriarchy is on virtually every page of the Bible means that in some way patriarchy matters. And in fact, patriarchy is an essential and powerful tool that helps to unleash the Bible’s radically transforming message. Here’s the crucial point:  Patriarchy is not the Bible’s message. Patriarchy is the backdrop to the Bible’s message.  Against this fallen cultural backdrop, the Bible’s message stands in sharp relief, and we begin to catch eye-opening glimpses into that missing chapter. Interwoven in the stories of women I have been studying in the Bible are the stories of remarkable men whose stories have been eclipsed by someone else who attracts more attention or who have been downsized because we’ve looked at them through an American/western lens. These missing men battle the malestrom and emerge to embody a brand of manhood that reflects the newness that Jesus brings. One of the reasons I wrote Malestrom was to recover the stories of these incredible men.

It is unusual for a woman in evangelical circles to write about men, yet you believe women are in an especially good position to offer insights into manhood. Why is that?

Actually, this is familiar territory for us. For decades women have been wrestling with what God calls us to be as his daughters against the tide of cultural and church expectations. The focus of gender discussions and debates has been almost exclusively on us. We want to know what is God’s calling on our lives and how, in this fallen world, we have been disconnected or prohibited from answering that call, and what we can do to get back on track. I’ve searched for a vision, and what I’ve found is moving us in that direction. The assumption has been that men don’t experience similar restrictions; that they really didn’t have problems with identity, purpose or meaning, until women started speaking up. But men are also disconnected and hindered from answering God’s calling on their lives. All of them are. No human being can escape the effects of the fall. Even men who live at the top of the power pyramid can seem to “have it all” one day and plummet to the bottom the next because of a misstep, a bad decision, or because another man (or woman) displaces them. Manhood definitions even lock them off from essential aspects of themselves that should characterize every Christian—love, mercy, gentleness, kindness, compassion, and the readiness to weep with those who weep. Not only have I come to this discussion with the conviction that we need to ask the same questions for our brothers that we’ve been asking for ourselves, I’m convinced that part of God’s calling on me as a woman is to battle for my brothers. I don’t have all the answers, but I am willing to open the conversation and raise questions. The stakes are high, for this is in many, many situations a matter of life and death. Not only that, but the very purposes of God in the world are hindered until God’s sons and daughters answer his call together. Daunting as all this sounds, it is a venture that is saturated with hope—for we have it on good authority that God loves his sons and has empowered them along with his daughters to be agents of good and blessing in the world and we have plenty of powerful stories in the Bible where that is actually happening.

Book Giveaway: Reprised

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About Carolyn James

Carolyn Custis JamesCarolyn Custis James (M.A., Biblical Studies) thinks deeply about what it means to be a female follower of Jesus in a postmodern world. As a cancer survivor, she is grateful to be alive and determined to address the issues that matter most. She travels extensively both in the US and abroad as a speaker for churches, conferences, colleges, theological seminaries, and other Christian organizations. She is an adjunct professor at Biblical Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, blogs on www.whitbyforum.com and Huffington Post/Religion, is a consulting editor for Zondervan’s Exegetical Commentary Series on the New Testament, and a contributing editor for Leadership Journal. Her other books include When Life and Beliefs CollideLost Women of the BibleUnderstanding Purpose, The Gospel of Ruth, and Half the Church. Carolyn and her husband live in Sellersville, Pennsylvania.

Carolyn’s Books

Aubrey Sampson on “Audacious Mary”: Overcoming Shame

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Contributed by Aubrey Sampson

It was the first time I had ever taught in “big church.” The first service seemed to go well, and I was excited for the second one to begin. But in between services I ran to the water fountain and overheard this conversation:

Woman: “I am so excited that a woman is preaching today.”

Man: “Umm…She isn’t preaching. She is sharing.”

In the years that followed, as I began to book more and more speaking engagements, I was afraid to say the words aloud—I am preparing to preach a sermon. In fact, when asked about the speaking I was doing, I would tiptoe around the topic by explaining that I was merely teaching a lesson or preparing to give a word of encouragement.

I shrouded my calling in semantics.

This ongoing conversation about women in leadership, especially in preaching, has become more welcoming and graceful recently, and for that I am truly grateful. But at times it still tends to borderline on the absurd.

Here are a few things I have been told over the years:

“You can read the bible passage, but please do not comment on it.”

“You can be up front a few times a year; any more than that, the people might think you have authority.”

“The pulpit is a sacred space.” (Subtext: my feminine voice would defile it.)

And my personal favorite: “Wow. You were really emotional up there. Are you on your period?”

I’m sensitive to the fact that there are great theologians and pastors (some of whom I adore) who are truly concerned with following the Scriptures well, and they just aren’t quite comfortable allowing a woman to teach, yet.

But I’ve also heard enough theologians and pastors tell me that I should probably be more like Mary in Luke 10—quiet, contemplative, and content to sit at the feet of Jesus—rather than called to stand behind a podium. And while I know it’s not a great theological argument, frankly, I get annoyed with that version of Perfect Little Mary, and the pressure women are under to be like her.

If I’m going to be like Mary, I prefer NT Wright’s version:

“We would be wrong, then, to see Mary and Martha as they have so often been seen, as models of the ‘active’ and ‘contemplative’ styles of spirituality. Action and contemplation are of course both important… But we cannot escape the challenge of this passage by turning it into a comment about different types of Christian lifestyle. It is about the boundary-breaking call of Jesus.” (from Luke for Everyone)

According to Wright, when Mary sat at her rabbi’s feet, she wasn’t being contemplative and serene. She was defying cultural boundaries. Mary dared to sit in the “public room” of the house—a space primarily set aside for male interaction. And by sitting at the feet of Jesus, she embodied the typically masculine role of a disciple, one being trained to both teach and preach the word of God.

What’s more, Jesus allowed—even encouraged—her scandalous behavior.

In that little house in Bethany, Jesus completely shifted the paradigm of womanhood. He was offering both of these women an education, a dignified existence, and a completely new status in his upside down kingdom.

It is no coincidence that the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10 falls directly after the Parable of the Good Samaritan—a lesson in loving the least of these. In Mary and Martha’s home, Jesus was embodying the meaning of his parable, revealing that even women are neighbors, equals, and loved deeply by God. In fact, when Jesus tells distracted Martha that Mary has chosen what is best, some translators say that Mary is eating the “better meal.”

I never want to put words into God’s mouth, but I like to imagine Jesus saying something like this to Mary: Woman, I have uniquely gifted and enabled you to cultivate, create, teach, preach, fight injustice, prophesy, transform your community, serve your family, communicate, love, lead, and worship me. I went to great lengths for you, not just crossing cultural boundaries, but carrying your shame to the cross, so that you are no longer subject to it. Your womanhood is now found in and defined by my paradigm-shifting love.

When that itchy tension between my womanhood and my desire to preach begs to be scratched, I am soothed knowing that Jesus is in the process of transforming both. As a woman I am set free to sit at his feet and learn from him at the kitchen table, the altar, the office, the coffee shop, the mission field, or wherever he has me.

Nearly a decade after that first “sharing,” I now serve on staff as part of my church’s preaching team. When I walk up to the pulpit, I do so knowing that I am not preaching for men. I am not preaching for women.

I am preaching for my rabbi— the one who has not banished me to hide in the private spaces— the one who invites me into the public room to be with Him.

I’m pulling up a chair next to Audacious Mary; together we are eating the better meal.

 About Aubrey

Aubrey Sampson

Aubrey Sampson

Aubrey Sampson is passionate about empowering women to experience freedom from shame. She is a pastor’s wife and stay-at-home-mom to three sons, which is to say she spends most days in her pajamas drinking too much coffee. On the days she manages to get dressed, Aubrey speaks at MOPS groups, bible studies, ministry events, and retreats. Aubrey’s first book on overcoming shame, Overcomer: Breaking Down the Walls of Shame and Rebuilding Your Soul, is available for pre-order now on amazon. Official release is October 2015! 

Keep up with Aubrey:

Twitter: @aubsamp

React & Reflect

How did (or do) you view Mary and Martha’s actions and reactions? What are your thoughts about Mary’s audaciousness? What “meal” have you usually chosen/eaten? What does Jesus’ reaction to the sisters’ interaction indicate? Is there any way that you need to be more “audacious” in your own spiritual life? Feel free to comment below.

Feel free to participate in the conversation by leaving a comment below.



To celebrate July 4th well, I decided I needed to post in two places! Huzzah! This time, however, I’ve gone (rather unpatriotically, I suppose) to the southern hemisphere – I’ve gotten a gracious invitation to post on a Kiwi’s blog! New Zealand encourager-of-women (especially mamas) blogger and business-owner, Sarah Wilson, was kind enough to allow me to post to her blog, Lattes Laced with Grace today, and highlight my book.

I imagined a world in which all Christian women—including tired, distracted mamas and busy business creators—handled Scripture with deft accuracy and skill; sorted through conflicting opinions and interpretations on difficult cultural issues and theological questions; and stepped boldly into forming their own informed beliefs about what God says in his Word about an issue, over and above what everyone else says God says.

Can you see it? Maybe not yet. But can you imagine it? What would the world be like? Would it be like a Bible-Mama Utopia?

Many thanks, Sarah! Go read the post here.