Will We Give Presence This Christmas?

Posted by on Friday, Dec 22, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “The believer feels no shame, as though he were still living too much in the flesh, when he yearns for the physical presence of other Christians. Man was created a body, the Son of God appeared on earth in the body, he was raised in the body, in the sacrament receives the Lord Jesus in the body, and the resurrection of the dead will bring about the perfected fellowship of God’s spiritual-physical creatures. The believer therefore lauds the Creator, the Redeemer, God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for the bodily presence of a brother [or sister].” Life Together, p.9. I experience this truth last week while I preached in Yei South Sudan. The rumor was a white American woman was going to preach, so they came. It mattered that I was a woman, it mattered that I was white, it mattered that I was an American. Everything about my bodily presence mattered. In fact, it was a sign of hope, of healing, of something new beginning. The body matters; being present matters. (Even if your feet can’t touch the ground while sitting in a seat.)  A quick history lesson for those of you who don’t know much about South Sudan: South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011. This was the outcome of a 2005 agreement that ended Africa’s longest-running civil war (over 50 years). Unfortunately, in 2013 the world’s newest nation broke out in civil war displacing 2.2 million people. Massive Internationally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps have sprouted in Uganda and Congo as a result of people having to flee their homes. My husband Steve has had his boots on the ground for decades. He’s walked hand-in-hand with his fellow brothers and sisters in South Sudan. It’s because of his bodily presence, over the long haul, staying in the game, that he was included in the Yei River State grassroots peace process. He was there when the generals and government officials met to figure out how they could bring peace to their state. He was there when the rebels came out of the bush and laid down their guns. He helped figure out aid to get them reestablished into society. That was three months ago, and now we were back on the ground.   What now Lord, what now? That’s why I found myself standing and preaching to war-torn men, women, and children in South Sudan. I taught on Mary, the mother of Jesus. Scripture declares her a blessed woman, favored by God. She even proclaimed “God did great things for her.” I’ve noodled on that concept for a while. I’ve struggled with how I view being blessed in light of Mary’s life. Mary suffered. Her...

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Prayer for Preaching

Posted by on Saturday, Jul 23, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

MY MASTER GOD, I am desired to preach today, but go weak and needy to my task; Yet I long that people might be edified with divine truth, that an honest testimony might be borne for thee; Give me assistance in preaching and prayer, with heart uplifted for grace and unction. Present to my view things pertinent to my subject, with fullness of matter and clarity of thought, proper expressions, fluency, fervency, a feeling sense of the things I preach, and grace to apply them to people’s consciences. Keep me conscious all the while of my defects, and let me not gloat in pride over my performance. Help me to offer a testimony for thyself, and to leave sinners inexcusable in neglecting thy mercy. Give me freedom to open the sorrows of thy people, and to set before them comforting considerations. Attend with power the truth preached, and awaken the attention of my slothful audience. May thy people be refreshed, melted, convicted, comforted, and help me to use the strongest arguments drawn from Christ’s incarnation and sufferings, that men and women might be made holy. I myself need thy support, comfort, strength, holiness, that I might be a pure channel of thy grace, and be able to do something for thee; Give me then refreshment among thy people, and help me not to treat excellent matter in a defective way, or bear a broken testimony to so worthy a redeemer, or be harsh in treating of Christ’s death, its design and end, from lack of warmth and fervency. And keep me in tune with thee as I do this work. Arthur Bennett, The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions (The Banner of Truth Trust, 1975) Leather edition reprinted in 2002....

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150 Years Later

Posted by on Thursday, Aug 27, 2015 in Blog | 2 comments

August 16th I spoke at a church founded by my great-great grandfather, Rev. James Frazier. It’s been 150 years since another ordained Rev. “Frazier” (my maiden name) spoke in the pulpit. I’m still processing the profundity of it. One of the truths I’ve taken from the Book of Ruth is God uses things in our lives that will impact generations to come – and we die not even knowing it. Ruth gave birth to son. She died thinking that little one was God’s way of restoring her (and Naomi’s) life. She never knew the descendent of that little one would save the world. Jesus She never knew. She had a limited view. As I stepped into my great-great grandfather shoes I wondered, “Had he ever prayed for his descendants?” Surely he prayed for his grandchildren but did he pray beyond that? What about his great-great grandchildren? Did he pray for me? That I would be a child of faith? 150 years later I stepped into his pulpit and heralded the life-giving words of Scripture. It reminded me that I live so in the now. Maybe I think about the future but usually it’s the near future. Rarely do I contemplate that God may be weaving something from my life to impact others generations from now.  I have a limited view. We just don’t think 150 years do we? That God is weaving now for later. Way later. Imagine if we did. We would have such hope. Imagine the sense of purpose. Our lives matter. God is at work. Even when or if we can’t see it. Other’s benefit. Not just in the here and now. Not just in the near future. But 150 years from now. Ruth held that baby. I stood in the pulpit. It’s mind-blowing. Actually, it gives me...

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Invite Her to the Table

Posted by on Monday, Jul 20, 2015 in Blog | 7 comments

In August of 2008 I became the first female to preach from the pulpit at Irving Bible Church. Our church’s decision to invite a woman to preach was not well received by some of our brother and sister churches. They sounded the alarm of our church “going liberal” to the local newspaper and TV channels. We decided it best to have Bryan stand by as my body-guard for the three services in which I preached. It took time but things did die down, although I continue to pay a price for my decision. Some folks no longer invite me to speak. Often I’m asked to clarify my position on women or Scripture. Once a senior pastor asked, “What do you think of Scripture?” “Um, I like it. In fact I spend most of my days studying it!” Just this week a young seminarian declined a job with The Marcella Project because she may lose future ministry opportunities by aligning her voice with mine. Truth is – she might. There are consequences. It takes courage. Risk. (I’m resolute that Jesus is worth it.) I spent the next several years at IBC preaching, teaching and training other women to do the same. When I was introduced to Betsy I knew she had the gift of preaching.In fact I was pretty sure she would be the next women preaching from that stage. I told her so. Made her a bit nervous. She wasn’t sure where she stood on women’s issue. I responded, “Well, you better figure it out because the opportunity is going to come and you’ve got to be sure of what you believe.” She borrowed books and dug in – and over time determined the Scriptures gave her freedom to preach under the leadership of her church. She’s been preaching at IBC ever since. Until now. Last night was her last sermon on that stage – at least for a while. She’s taking a break to concentrate on her full-time corporate job. She requested the night of preaching end at our table – the place where our friendship flourished. We ate. Drank wine. Laughed. We talked about why it’s crucial that women preach. That it made the body of Christ more healthy and whole. It was profound listening to our brothers share how they had been impacted by women preaching. It changed them. For better. Women helped them see Scriptures and see Jesus in different ways. And walking along side these female preachers changed how they came to view their sisters. They recognized they needed them at the table. Their presence made them better. The Church better. It was a beautiful to hear one man say, “Betsy, I want to preach...

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Sunglasses and Spiritual Toxins

Posted by on Friday, Jan 30, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

I live 10 minutes from the DFW airport therefore I rarely find myself flying out of Love Field. But – here I am heading to Houston to teach. And I’m shocked at the changes from the last time I flew out of here. WOW. NICE. I think I even see a pair of sunglasses worth buying. I’m flying to Houston to meet with a small group of women leaders. We’ll meet at a woman’s home and spend several hours walking through our Marcella Salon material on female friendships. I long for women to understand why we compete and compare and the impact of doing so. Not only on us as individual women but as a collective group. Women can do a great work for Jesus when they join hands and collaborate. The next day I speak at their women’s conference. Four message on spiritual toxins – things that keep us from wholeness. Fear. Envy. Biblical Illiteracy. Un-forgiveness. That’s a lot of biblical material to cover in one day. It’s a LOT to listen to … even more to digest. Sure would appreciate your prayers.   I fly home that evening. Love Field isn’t big – I’ll be able to get to my car quickly. And maybe even get those sunglasses.  ...

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