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.

 

JULY EXTRAVAGANZA Blog Tour — Day 1!

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.

 

Resource: Site for Free Downloadable Gifts in Self-Help Niche

Site with Free Resources Available

Many free resources in the self-help niche are available at this site through June 26, 2015 HealthyWealthyWiseGifts.com:

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Why in the world would I place my own gifts – clearly Christian and clearly believing the Bible as true – on a site with all of this vague-spirituality self-help information?

Because I believe it needs to be there, right in the midst of the many, many messages competing for people’s attention that don’t lead to Christ. Well, as I’ve said, some of the resources listed in the giveaway are clearly Christian; but most are clearly not.

Billions of people flock to self-help resources. Just ask booksellers and online retailers, not to mention infomercial airspace sellers. Everybody’s searching. Everybody’s filling voids in their lives and in their souls. In Ingrid Michaelson’s song’s words, “Everybody, everybody wants to love; everybody, everybody wants to be loved!”

I want those seekers to fill those voids with the truth of God’s Word.

Some people have been perplexed by the controversy over the issue of women’s roles in the church – and many have left the church and even their faith walk as a result of it. My book’s title and the resources I’ve listed may catch their eye.

About ten people have downloaded my resources so far. That’s good enough for me. Until they unsubscribe, they’ll continue to receive information and communication from me that will point them in the direction of studying and understanding the Bible through an orthodox (small “o”) Christian lens – for themselves and yet pointing them always to Christian community, with Christ as the focal point.

If you have friends whom you feel may be interested in such a site, which contains both Christian and non-Christian materials, please feel free to share this link and post with them.

Why on earth would I promote a site that provides free resources for self-help and “vague spirituality” niches and such to my blog readers?

1. Because I’m hoping you might send this link to your friends who are seeking spiritually – they will probably be surprised that you would send such a link to them since it’s not specifically Christian. They probably already seek via some of these means. And yet on this site they may stumble across my or another Christian’s free gifts. I personally know several Christians, including myself, who have posted free gifts there for this annual, limited-time event (only through 6/26).

2. You might also send it to your friends who are seeking help for business or other interests. There are a TON of business helps there.

3. You might find some free resources that interest you. I did! This morning, I downloaded…

  • a WAHM suggested schedule for running your business from home, yet maintaining personal and family sanity.
  • a checklist for hosting a telesummit (something I plan to do this fall)
  • a report on encouraging your child’s confidence
  • several Kindle publishing and Kindle business instructional reports

 

What other topics will I find in this giveaway? (Discernment Required)

You will find not only “spiritual” and “self-help” niche resources, although you will find many, many of those, but also a few specifically Christian and Bible-centered tools as well, including some resources from me that complement the Bible study and interpretation method and tools I teach in my book Women, Leadership, and the Bible: How Do I Know What to Believe? A Practical Guide to Biblical Interpretation. Go check it out and see if something will help you grow in your relationship to God, and perhaps also your professional or personal life.

Lots of helpful niches are represented: parenting, childbirth, meal planning, weight loss, entrepreneurial/business-business tools and information, lifestyle topics, personal organization, business org, stress management, wellness, quit smoking, health, brainpower, time management, etc.

You will also find other topics you may personally find more dubious or downright untrustworthy, but that doesn’t negate the fact that they are there on the site – please use your best judgment and godly discernment. Some of these include wealth and abundance, law of attraction, hypnosis, meditation, subliminal messaging, affirmations, positive thinking, chakras, and many more.

You must sift, sort, and use your prayerful, critical-thinking skills and discernment in the power of God’s Spirit to know what’s for you and what’s not. Yet, I present this to you because there is a LOT of good information included in this free giveaway and you may find something useful.

The giveaway continues through June 26.

Again, here is the site/link:

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Announcing Author-Insanity!

Are We Crazy?

Road Trip Griswolds Vacation perfect_road_trip_map_1

The Blog-and-Book Tour Road Trip Extravaganza!

Probably.

We’re excited (and, yes, a little nervous) to announce…

The 2015 Blog-and-Book Tour, Road Trip, and Product Launch Extravaganza!

You know, when I go, I go big. It’s just me. It’s usually fun, sometimes messy, typically stressful, and hopefully fruitful for the Kingdom and helpful to the Body of Christ.

In fact, this year’s effort will be much more than “just” a book tour, if that were possible. Here’s what’s involved:

  • July 2–9—Blog Tour, a series of blog interviews and posts hosted by various active Christian bloggers and authors
  • July 8 or 9—Blog-and-Book Tour Road Trip Kickoff Party
  • July 8 or 9—Official Launch of Biblical Breakthrough! Online Coaching Program (warning: the site’s still getting some final touches, as in the front/welcome page; but the site is live)
  • July 1–August 1—Book Tour Road Trip promoting the book and online program — and you can have me come speak to your group and/or friends and/or your bookstore and/or your church and/or whatever you want to add on here!!!

Click Here for All the Details!

 

For the Survivors

For the Girls and Women Who Didn’t Get to Choose Their Life as It Currently Exists


Photo by Almudena Toral

“You think you had a choice?” I ask, staggered.

She looks at me, then looks away. She starts to cry.

“I don’t know. I guess I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t want it.”*

I wrote this month for Threads of Compassion in honor and support of victims of sex-trafficking. It’s just one infinitesimal step toward helping heal the overwhelming post-traumatic stress in victims.Read my poem and learn more about Survivors’ Ink here.Please share as you are able. Many thanks!
Natalie* Credits:
Photo by Almudena Toral
Intro quote from: ”Human Trafficking: Modern-Day Slavery in Focus” by Annie Kelly. Posted at The Guardian. Nov 15, 2015.

Slavery Still A Huge Problem | Forum at OWU

[visibility show=”desktop, tablet, mobile-landscape, mobile-portrait”]If you’ve been around this site for a while, you already know that sex trafficking is on my mind. A lot.[/visibility] Especially child sex trafficking. Children in lineIt’s simply something that ought never be. I’m as passionate about that as I am about giving women the tools to thrive and think biblically and theologically about their toughest life questions. Hm. Probably more passionate, when it comes to what really gets me and moves me to tears, every time, without fail. Today, though, I wanted to brag on my husband, David Eastman, and tell you about something he participated in this week. Continue reading

#stopFGM

More “light” reading.

Not.

Buckle up.

Thanks to The New York Times’ contributor Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian woman my age, tonight’s reflections (conveniently just before bedtime) are on FGM, or “female genital mutilation.” Ye-gad, just the mention of it gives me the shivers. So, I needed to process it a bit before retiring.

Do Not Be SilentClick here to see the article I read tonight.

I’ve been familiar with the ghastly practice for some years now, although I wasn’t 100% sure I understood exactly what the procedure entails. So, for some real fun, I checked out some images on Google.

WARNING: If you follow suit, be prepared. You will see some horrifying sights, including a hand drill, horribly dirty and rusty razors, pliers, and other crude instruments. You will see entire families, often the males (mainly those appearing to be the pater familias, but also including some who look age-wise to be brothers) but also the females, holding down screaming girls who look to be about 5 or 6 years old with the most gut-wrenching facial expressions – often with their eyes being covered by family members and such.

It’s a bloody mess. Literally. Wrap-up and recovery? Their legs tied together with some scrap material to immobilize the legs.

Why on EARTH would these practices have originated in the first place? It goes part and parcel with the general misogynistic bent of our world, to which even women subscribe. This practice of FGM, among others, unequally places the “burden-of-proof” weight of sexual purity on girls and women over and above the weight placed on boys and men in many, if not most, cultures. In Islamic cultures, Mohammed is said to have prescribed circumcision (for both genders), but, in an addendum, not cut too severely. Apparently, some folks didn’t get the memo for the girls.

Even though hundreds of girls die annually from this practice, even under medical conditions, and even though grown women suffered their own gruesome experiences of the practice, it continues to be perpetuated because of the fear that a girl will not be marriageable if she is not “cut.”

It’s viewed to be the way that a girl will not let her sexuality “get out of hand” and so that she will not “get out of control.”

I just have no words. Well, that’s not true. I have no words that I can post here and not create quite a ruckus, especially among my Christian family, both brothers and sisters, young and old.

So, here’s what I will say:
Please be aware that this happens. It is real. Just like sex-trafficking of children is real. Just like the fact that the stats of sex-trafficked people will always rise as long as the number of “johns” remains so horrifically huge is real. Just like the fact that most “johns” in the world are caucasian, “western,” and could very well live in your U.S. suburban neighborhood, statistically speaking, is real. These things are REAL. Way too real.

Also, FGM happens NOT only among Muslims and tribal peoples, but among Christians in certain parts of the world. It happens among the uneducated and the educated, although the stats (at least anecdotally) say that the rate of education is inversely proportional to the rate of FGM. The higher the education; the less likely a family is to “cut” their daughters.

#stopFGMSo, please become aware. In some way, whether it’s sharing that article I’m sharing here, please advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. Let the Holy Spirit nudge you on this, or on whatever God is laying on your heart – do refuse to do nothing.

[Nod to my colleague Shayne Moore’s co-authored book “Refuse to Do Nothing: Finding Your Power to Abolish Modern-Day Slavery”]

Who’s She? Hannah More

A lot of people know William Wilberforce’s name. Many saw a movie (“Amazing Grace“) or read a book or two about his passionate and tireless zeal for the end of human slave trade and were appropriately moved. But very few have heard of an unsung heroine named Hannah More, the author of the many tracts and pamphlets used by Wilberforce and the other abolitionists. As the only female member of the Clapham Sect, the group that was the epicenter of the movement, she quietly wrote the words that slowly, eventually helped awaken an nation, and ultimately the world, to the atrocity of human slavery.

Just hours ago, I was reintroduced to More. My colleague Bronwyn Lea sent me a review she posted tonight on another of our writing colleagues’ (Karen Swallow Prior) books on Hannah More: Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist (Thomas Nelson, 2014), which made its debut about a week ago.

I could not keep either from you because

  1. Prior has written what looks to be a lush biography of Hannah More’s life and involvement with the abolitionist movement in England through writing and other strengths.  Prior highlights these contributions, but makes us aware that More did much, much more (sorry – couldn’t resist, even though this is a serious post). The book’s trailer calls her a woman “whose faith compelled her to both engage her culture and transform it,” and “woman writer who helped end the slave trade and taught a nation how to read.” Whether you’re a woman or a man, you will probably realize, after reading this post and hopefully the biography, that we all owe a debt of gratitude to her, along with a great deal of honor and respect for her writing, along with her courage, resilience, and ingenuity on behalf of education for the poor and in other arenas.
  2. And why through Bronwyn’s post? Why not just a direct link to the book? Well, first because I haven’t read it yet. I just learned about it hours ago, as I mentioned. But second, and more importantly, I wanted to introduce you to Bronwyn’s writing. This post is not “amazing”; it’s rather bread-and-butter: a book review. Meh? Not really. It still shows Bronwyn’s amazing facility for the distillation of large ideas and concepts, particularly when it comes to complex and often emotional issues. Just as I am typically inspired after reading Bronwen’s writing on just about any topic you might name, after reading her post on More, I instantly decided upon inaugurating an ongoing series of posts to highlight and bring attention to unsung folk, with women being my primary focus, who have effected change for all of humanity and for the Gospel of Christ. And so, her post bringing attention to Prior’s biography of Hannah More graces the first post in the series.

I encourage you to read the work of both authors – blog posts, articles, and books, especially this book on Hannah More.

Thanks for reading!

To encourage others to read and learn about More, as well as two other Christian authors, feel free to share this image on your FB page or Pinterest board, and please link it to this post (link: https://natalieeastman.com/whos-she-hannah-more/):

http://www.natalieeastman.com/whos-she-hannah-more/

Lecture and Book Signing at City Seminary of New York – Oct. 18

You're InvitedOne Day Only: Dr. Natalie Eastman will Give Lecture in New York City on 10/18/14

Dr. Natalie R. W. Eastman, author of Women, Leadership, and the Bible: How Do I Know What to Believe? A Practical Guide to Biblical Interpretation (Wipf & Stock Publishers, May 2014; http://www.womenleadershipbible.com), will lecture on

“Cutting through the Words to Get to the Word:
Discerning What God Says in Scripture
– for Yourself
(Rather than Simply Relying on What Everyone around You
Says God Says!)”

[alert type=”notice, warning, success, error, info” icon=”star” close=”true”]Free Admission. Light lunch provided, so please RSVP by Oct. 15.[/alert]

Details:

Date: Saturday, October 18, 2014

Time: 11:00 am–1:30 pm

Book sales and signing will follow the lecture.

Location: Walls-Ortiz Gallery and Center, City Seminary of New York

2204 Frederick Douglass Blvd (at W 119th St.)
New York, NY 10026

This event is sponsored and hosted by Women of Wonder! Inc.

About Women, Leadership, and the Bible:

Dr. Eastman’s book, Women, Leadership, and the Bible, pays particular attention to the often-difficult issue of women’s roles in church leadership. Yet, it’s not another book telling women and men what to believe about women’s roles. Rather, it teaches them how to interpret the Bible so they may understand it and discern their own viewpoint.

[testimonial author=”Jonalyn Fincher, author of Ruby Slippers, vice president of Soulation.org”]I have heard women tell me their one life wish is to study the Scriptures. I am delighted to be able to say they finally can, without going to seminary. Natalie Eastman dignifies women’s minds with her careful steps for understanding the Bible. You will finish prepared to face those ‘problem passages’ not just about women’s roles but about everything. Natalie Eastman is an ideal guide because she refuses to tell you what to think; instead she delivers the tools that all teachers of the Bible use to unlock meaning and application.[/testimonial]

Paperback:                            Kindle:

     

[callout title=”Help Us Spread the Word to New Yorkers!”]Please click on the SOCIAL icons just below to SHARE this page socially with your NYC friends. Thank you![/callout]

Dr. David Eastman to Run in 2014 Columbus Marathon: Fundraiser for Children’s Home in San Salvador

On Oct. 19, 2014, Dr. David Eastman  (my Awesome and Absolutely Favorite Husband) will run the Columbus Marathon for the second time to raise funds and awareness for the fabulous kids of the Love and Hope Children’s Home in San, Salvador, El Salvador.

Click here to support David and give for the kids of Love & Hope!

 

https://www.crowdrise.com/davidsrunforloveandhope/fundraiser/natalieeastman

Every $10 and $20 will raise that $0 toward our goal of $2k! (But, truth be told, $50s and $100s will get us there faster…)