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Christian Living

How Can a Man Write about Women in the Bible?

We are One Through Jesus, Neither Male nor Female

When God prompted me to write about the women in the Bible, I was excited and began work on it immediately. Much of my life, it seems, had brought me to the place to explore the amazing women found throughout the pages of Scripture.

In short, God has given me a heart for women.

I want to celebrate who they are, encourage them, and make sure that no one ever treats them as less than simply because of their gender. Remember, God created us in his image, male and female (Genesis 1:27).

In a traditional sense, I am a feminist, wanting men and women to embrace—and treat—each other as equals. In this respect, I see Jesus as the first feminist. I’m also reminded that Paul said we are one in Christ, neither male or female (Galatians 3:28).

Yet I also knew some would question the suitability of a man writing a book about women in the Bible. I briefly considered asking my wife to take on some small aspect of the project so that I could list her as a co-author, and thereby defuse any gender bias. I’m sure others have used this strategy in the past, but I didn’t feel right about it and didn’t want to do so for the sake of expediency.

I moved ahead with the project God called me to do, all while wondering how to respond to people who question me—as a guy—for having the audacity to do so.

With much joy in the process and aided by Holy Spirit inspiration I authored the book and published Women of the Bible in 2018. It covers 135 women in the Bible, with a list of seventy-four more for additional study.

Readers received the book well, and it remains my most popular one. It continues to sell better than any of my other books, which currently number over two dozen.

A Heart for Women

Even so, people will sometimes ask, “How can a man write about women in the Bible?” Though I could launch into a lengthy justification or attempt to discuss it from a theological perspective, I’ve chosen not to do so. I simply tell my well-intentioned questioners, “I believe that God has given me a heart for women.”

Usually this allays their concerns, and they accept it. But if I suspect they need further explanation, I add one more line. I say, “I want to encourage both women and men to celebrate the women in the Bible.”

Yes, I want men to read Women of the Bible too. Sadly, I fear they’re more apt to do so with a male name on the front cover than a female. That’s on them. It’s not right, but it happens.

For my part, I’ll do whatever I can to change those misogynistic perspectives. After all, when it comes to God, gender doesn’t matter.

When it comes to God, gender doesn’t matter. Click To Tweet

Men in the Bible

Interestingly, there’s another question that catches me off guard. I’ve heard it nearly as often as “How can a man write about women in the Bible?”

What is this inquiry? I’ve had multiple people ask me when I was going to write about the men in the Bible. I don’t think we need such a book, but if people keep asking me about it, I may just write it.

Besides, I’ve already written about many men—along with women—in my book The Friends and Foes of Jesus. And I’ll cover many more in my upcoming book Old Testament Saints and Sinners.

Get your copy of Women of the Bible, available in e-book, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.

Read more about other people in the New Testament in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Should You Be Part of a Spiritual Mastermind Group?

Aligning with Like-Minded Peers Can Propel You Forward on Your Christian Walk

A mastermind group is a peer-to-peer mentoring alliance where members work together to help one another solve problems, overcome roadblocks, and move forward. I’m part of two author mastermind groups. In them we encourage and support each other as writers, propelling us forward in our craft. It’s most beneficial.

I wonder if I should apply this concept to my Christian journey, too, and be part of a Christian mastermind group. Though I’ve experienced this a couple times on a basic level from a church small group or Bible study, they’ve fallen short of what a mastermind group can provide.

Though we might want to call it by something with a less business-sounding name, what can we hope to gain from a spiritual mastermind group?

Iron Sharpens Iron

In Proverbs, King Solomon says that “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17, NIV). As we surround ourselves with like-minded followers of Jesus, we will help each other become stronger in our faith. A spiritual mastermind group can do this for us, propelling us forward on our faith journey.

Two Is Better Than One

A parallel passage, also penned by King Solomon, reminds us that “two are better than one.” If either falls, there’s someone present to pick them up (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, NIV). We need each other. God didn’t create us to be alone (Genesis 2:22).

A Cord of Three Strands

Later, Solomon writes that a three-stranded cord has great strength (Ecclesiastes 4:12). There is safety and strength in numbers. One way to realize this is through a spiritual mastermind group.

Party of Five

We also find support for this concept from motivational speaker Jim Rohn, who says “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” What better way to accomplish this by spending time with five like-minded disciples of Jesus in a spiritual mastermind group?

Align with five other like-minded Christians to form a spiritual mastermind group. Click To Tweet

Moving Forward with a Spiritual Mastermind Group

What have you done informally to enjoy these benefits that walking through life with two, three, or five can accomplish? What more could you realize if you pursued this idea with greater intention?

We can receive much benefit by partnering with another or forming a group of three. How greater the outcome could be if we align with five other like-minded Christians to form a spiritual mastermind group?

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

My Haiku

Why I Write

Linking letters and
wielding words to create art
for God, my patron

My haiku first appeared in Imagine This! An ArtPrize Anthology.

After having one of my longest posts last week, The Seven Transformations of Peter DeHaan, today I’ll treat you to my shortest. It’s succinct, yet poignant.

Categories
Personal Posts

Cross Words

I have had a lifelong affection with words. An avid reader of fiction as a child and teenager gave way to becoming a student of nonfiction as an adult. Along with that goes forty years of random writing experience and two decades as a magazine publisher.

It should come as little surprise then, that I also enjoy crossword puzzles.

When I work a puzzle, I rely solely on the mind: mine and sometimes my family’s.  (I used to tap all available non-human resources, but upon enduring merciless harassment after buying a crossword dictionary, I swore off artificial assistance.) 

Unfortunately, I am, quite ironically, a poor speller. (My “flexible” pronunciation of most words doesn’t facilitate spelling accuracy either.)

My wife often endures the brunt of my spelling deficiencies. It might go something like this:

“How do you spell Cat?”

“C-A-T”

“It’s not with a “K?”

“No”

“Could it be four letters?  Like K-A-T-T or K-A-I-T?”

“Ah, no!”

I ponder a bit more.  “I can make kitty work if it only has one T.”

“No, there are definitely two Ts in kitty.”

I contemplate the situation some more, but I’m no longer thinking of a 4 letter word for feline. Instead, I’m marveling that a person with orthography issues, such as mine, could so immensely enjoy crossword puzzles—and generally complete them quite effectively.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Personal Posts

4 Reasons to Set Goals

It’s important to set goals, both for our work and for our self.

Goals Move Us Forward

Without goals, it’s easy to drift from day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year—and nothing really changes. One of my goals is to attend two writing conferences each year. This helps grow me as a writer and meet others in the industry.

Goals Give Us Clarity

Goals reveal what’s important to us. Activities that aren’t relevant to our goals need to be given lower priority or even eliminated. One of my goals is to write every day.

Goals Reflect Our Focus

Without goals we can easily go in four directions at once, never accomplishing anything. Another of my goals is to watch less TV. This gives more time to read, write reviews, and do other things to advance my career as a writer.

Without goals, it’s easy to drift from day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year—and nothing really change Click To Tweet

Goals Facilitate Success

I want to publish my books, but that won’t happen just because I wish it. I need to work at it. One critical step is to present my writing to agents and publishers, often in the form of a query.  Submitting a query will not guarantee success, but failing to do so will ensure failure.

What are your goals?

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Woodpecker Wars: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Peter DeHaan News

Book Release: 52 Churches: A Yearlong Journey Encountering God, His Church, and Our Common Faith

The Book 52 Churches is Now Available

Visit fifty-two churches in a year?

Am I crazy? Maybe.

My wife and I spent a year visiting churches, a different Christian church every Sunday. This book is our story.

I’m sure we visited a church just like yours.

And wow, did we learn a lot. Things that will surprise you and make you cringe. And more than a few things that will inspire you.

In 52 Churches, you’ll:

  • Discover the shocking approaches that some churches use.
  • Learn the essential dos and don’ts when you have a visitor.
  • Make sure your church avoids the really creepy things I saw.
  • Uncover traditional church practices that no longer make sense.
  • See what’s not working, and what to replace it with.

You’ll Laugh, You’ll Cry, You’ll Wince.

But 52 Churches isn’t a rip at the modern church or a mean-spirited journalistic exposé. Instead it’s a gift that offers encouragement, hope, and ideas on how your church can thrive and be relevant in today’s culture.

52 Churches is ideal for church leaders, church members, and church outsiders. And if you’re still reading this, it’s perfect for you too.

Get your copy of 52 Churches today!

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Peter DeHaan News

A Year in Review: Top Ten Posts for 2016

Check Out Our Readers’ Favorite Posts for the Past Year

Another year has come and gone, and with it another year of blogging at “Pursuing Biblical God,” with over 100 new posts about God, the Bible, his church, and us.

Here are the ten most popular posts in 2016:

  1. The Truth about Seminary
  2. The Bible Uses a Third Person Omniscient Point of View
  3. 13 Reasons Why I Love the Bible
  4. Are You Spiritually Selfish?
  5. Do We Need to Listen to a Lecture Each Sunday at Church?
  6. Should We Confess the Sins of Our Nation?
  7. 5 Things God Asks of Us
  8. What Does an Eye for an Eye Really Mean?
  9. Can I Pray For You?
  10. Church Is For Girls

Some posts are “evergreen” content, meaning they continue to resonate with people for many years. Here are the ten most read posts of all time:

  1. What Does it Mean to Pray Hard?
  2. Beware of Spiritual Incest
  3. Four Angels in the Bible With Names
  4. Which Gospel Should I Read?
  5. Does God Receive Our Actions as a Memorial Offering?
  6. The Car That Cried Wolf
  7. When Was the Book of Job Written?
  8. Job’s Conclusion
  9. Are We Just Doing Our Job or Getting God’s Attention?
  10. Job’s Daughters

Thank you for stopping by this past year. You helped show that these posts are your favorites.

May you have an amazing 2017. Happy New Year and God bless!

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Categories
Bible Insights

The Bible Uses a Third Person Omniscient Point of View

Knowing the writing style of the Bible will help us avoid confusion when we read it

Since my days as a teenager, I’ve spent time most every day to read and study the Bible. I’m also a writer who writes every day. I like to share what I’ve learned about both subjects. Here goes:

I don’t want to trigger unwelcome flashbacks to junior high and high school, but here’s a brief reminder about point of view in writing: When we tell stories of what we did, we use first person (as in “I drove…”). When we tell stories about others, we use third person (as in “she drove…”).

And there are two variations of third person perspective

  • limited (restricted to what only one character can see or know) and
  • omniscient (knowing everything, like God).

In days of old, writers used third-person omniscient. Nowadays, third-person limited is all the rage, with the industry turning up its snobbish nose at third person omniscient writing.

The books I read in third person are always third person limited. In this I’m restricted to one person’s perspective per scene, just like a movie camera.

Reading, “he thought the idea was silly, but she was thinking the opposite,” is jarring because we hop from one person’s head to another in the same sentence. This is verboten in today’s writing style, third person limited.

Yet the Bible does this all the time.

For example, how was Jonah aware that the seas calmed down after the sailors tossed him into the water (Jonah 1:15)? Or when Philip left the Ethiopian eunuch, how did he know the eunuch went on his way (Acts 8:39)?

With today’s writing style, they can’t. We see things from Jonah and Philip‘s point of view and, according to the rules of third person limited writing, we can’t be privy to what happens when they aren’t present.

Omniscient God inspired the Bible; it’s logical the Bible uses an omniscient point of view. Click To Tweet

Yet most of the Bible uses the third person omniscient point of view, not third person limited. Therefore, consistent with this writing style, we can know these things.

Given that God is omniscient and inspired the words of the Bible, it’s completely logical that the Bible would align with his omniscient point of view.

It took me way too long to figure this out.

Over the years I’ve heard people criticize the Bible’s accuracy because of these passages about Jonah and Philip, as well as scores of others. They assumed the Bible should obey the rules of today’s in vogue writing style of third person limited.

Yet third person omniscient is the style of older literature, including the Bible.

God is omniscient, so it follows that his book would be mostly omniscient too.

Does knowing that the Bible uses third person omniscient point of view affect how you read it? What parts of the Bible use first person point of view?

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

Read the Bible as Literature

Studying scripture teaches us about classic literature and writing to inform our literary perspective

My post “13 Reasons Why I Love the Bible” started out as a top ten list, but I couldn’t stop at a round number. I kept going and couldn’t pare my list down to just ten reasons. And if I had kept thinking about it, I would likely have come up with more.

A related topic is considering the Bible as literature, the classic of classics. So much of what we read today has allusions, though sometimes subtle, to scripture. We see biblical themes repeated in TV and movies.

Knowing the Bible helps us to more fully understand God but also to better appreciate literature and entertainment. Consider what the Bible has to offer:

Variety of Genres

The Bible contains different styles of writing. Much of it is history, with some biography and even autobiography. There are several poetry portions (albeit without rhyming and meter), which reveal ancient poetic styles and can inform modern day poets. The books of prophecy reveal the future, some of which has already come to pass and other portions, not. Books of wisdom give as wise advice. Other sections reveal God, serving as the first theology text. The Bible also contains letters from teachers to their students. There are epic dreams documented for us to ponder. And two books, Job and Song of Songs, read much like the modern-day screenplay.

The Bible contains: history, bios, poetry, prophecy, theology, letters, dreams, & screenplay. Click To Tweet

Multiple Viewpoints

The Bible contains four biographies of Jesus (gospels). The four respective authors reveal different aspects of Jesus based on their personal perception and target audience. Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s writing contain the most similarities; John is the most different. Similarly, 1 and 2 Chronicles provides a counterpoint to the books of 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings. Last, some of the prophets provide additional historical accounts to round out what we learn from the prior six books of history (1 and 2 Chronicles, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings)

Different Perspectives

Much of the Bible is written in the third person point of view, while some passages are in first person. I especially enjoy these first person accounts as it places me in the middle of the action, as if I am there, living it with the speaker.

Multiple Levels

Reading the Bible is analogous to peeling an onion. Each time we unwrap one layer, we find another that gives us additional insight and added meaning. There are many tiers, virtually unlimited. We will never know all of what the Bible says, but we do strive to learn more of what it reveals. With each successive read we are able to connect different passages together and glean deeper insight into its stories, lessons, and writers – as well as the God who inspired it.

The Bible has much to offer, not only from a spiritual perspective, but also from a literary one. Reading the Bible as literature will increase our appreciation of other things we read, what we write, and the world in which we live.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

How Do You Affect Others?

We have an effect on everyone we meet. We can touch them in a positive way and leave them better off for whatever time we spend with them, or our interactions can have a negative impact and produce the opposite results.

This might be at the store, how we drive, with our neighbors, during work, and when we’re at church. This happens through our actions, our words, and even our nonverbal communications. It’s in person, on the phone, via text, and using email.

We have many opportunities to affect others. We can help them, encourage them, guide them, and pray for them. Or we can irritate them, cause them distress, criticize them, and discourage them. We can make their day a bit brighter or a tad duller. We can subtly point them to Jesus or turn them off.

Though I want to live my life with intention and have a positive effect on everyone all the time, I fear I fall short more often than not. Here’s what I recently learned about this:

We Don’t Always Know the Effect We Have On Others

A few weeks ago I was at a writers conference. I attend it every year to learn and to share. Three people surprised me by individually taking time to thank me for something I said or did for them the year before. Who would have known?

We Need to Thank People When They Impact Us

Another person thanked me for the writing newsletter I send out each week. She told me how helpful it is for her and that she looks forward to it. I thanked her for her encouragement.

What I didn’t tell her was that I was quite discouraged with the newsletter: for the time it takes to do each week and my assumption that no one really cared. She refueled me to press on.

Sometimes God Leads Us to People When They Need it the Most

I also led a couple of breakout sessions at the conference. The second one did not go well. Though I know I shared useful information and provided value, I also feared I caused just as much confusion. I do know I didn’t communicate clearly: talking too fast and stumbling over my spew of words.

When it was over the phrase “train wreck” kept popping into my mind.

Then our enemy, the father of lies, began his attack. My mind quickly spiraled out of control. Within an hour I had retreated to the bathroom to wallow in despair. I couldn’t think clearly and didn’t know what to do. Prayer eluded me.

We don’t always know the effect we have on others. Click To Tweet

When I emerged from my seclusion a friend’s gaze caught my attention. I don’t know if she beckoned me or if I was drawn to her. She thanked me for my presentation, the information I shared, and the value I provided.

She couldn’t be talking about me; surely she must be confused. But no, she had sat in the back row during my session. She was there for my train wreck but didn’t see it that way.

I thanked her profusely and told her just how much I needed to hear her words. My eyes misted over, and I gave her a hug of appreciation. Her words rejuvenated me, and the rest of the conference went great – thanks to one person willing to follow God’s prompting to search me out.

She had a positive effect on me just when I needed it the most.Save

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.