Saturday, December 30, 2006


"I am a strange boy, but at least I'm not wild."

~Noah James Linhart, age 4

Friday, December 29, 2006

Oar Eee Gun

Check out our Web Album for pictures of our time in Oregon!

Zoo Lights & Christmas Day


And now for something that happened that's sure to be one of our most cherished Christmas memories:

At a restaurant in Astoria, Noah had to use the bathroom. He insisted on going into the stall by himself. This was fine...until he couldn't get the door unlocked. (Insert music of doom here--dun dun dunnnn!) After lots of coaching and sticking fingers in tight spaces I finally had to crawl, with my pregnant belly, under the stall door. To Noah's credit, the lock was very hard to unlatch. But I doubt I'll be letting him go into stalls all by himself any time soon!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

artist: Danielle Drennan

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Jesus in my left ventricle...

Noah: Mom, do you know why I love you today?

Jeana: Why do you love me today?

Noah: Because God is in my heart.

Jeana (heart melting): Really? When did God get in your heart?

Noah: I don't know...he's just been reading a book in there.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Festival of Lights

The northwest experienced a giant wind storm this last week and many were left without power. Our power went out on Thursday night right before midnight and didn't return until Saturday morning at about 4am. Noah and I had a quiet day at home and while the sun was shining we didn't miss having electricity all that much. However, once the sun began to set it was whole different story.

I had used up all the firewood Geary had brought into the house earlier that morning and we were starting to lose heat. As the sky got darker and darker our apartment became more hazardous. I couldn't do anything without light. Despite living here for over three years I still bumped into walls and furniture and felt disoriented in my dark surroundings.

So, I started lighting candles. I lit three candles in the living room, the giant candle behind our couch, a couple candles in the kitchen, one in the bathroom. And then I spotted our Hannukkah menorah. And I had to chuckle. Friday night at sundown was the official start of Hanukkah.

Technically, I should have only lit the first candle. But I lit them all. You see, I was desperate for light. And that is the point of Hannukah. The Jews were also desperate for light when they reclaimed the temple. It had been desecrated and they had worked tirelessly to restore it. When it came time to rededicate the temple they only had enough oil to light the lampstand for one day. But God provided enough oil to last for eight days.

My family celebrates Hannukah because we believe we can celebrate all the ways God has provided for his people. We like the traditions and the beauty of the Hebrew prayers. But most of all we like that in celebrating the light that God provided for the Jews, we can also celebrate the Light that God provided for all people.

You probably don't celebrate Hanukkah in your house, but at our house we'll be praying that this week you find new desperation for the Light of the World and that through him you experience peace and hope until he comes again.

Nes Gaddol Haya Sham! (A great miracle happened there!) and Shalom!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Can Women be Elders and Deacons?

The Backstory: My friend, Hutch, and I have been having a friendly discussion on several issues concerning women in the church. It started on November 27th with Hutch posing the question of how we interpret the word “weaker” in 1 Peter 3:7. You can read the start of the discussion here.

I had some curiosities on Hutch’s thoughts so I asked a couple questions. This led to Hutch posting a three fold answer which you can read here. Be sure to read the comments so you can follow along with the discussion.

The Challenge: Hutch has been great about answering all my questions and challenges and it was only fair of him to issue a challenge back. He has asked that I walk him through why I believe women can be elders and deacons and how I can believe that while still being true to Scripture.

The Disclaimer: The Disclaimer: This discussion was started between friends who share similar understandings of issues related to this topic (i.e. women teaching, women being silent, submission, etc.) I will not be going in depth on these issues—only on elders and deacons. Also, questions and comments are welcome but I reserve the right to delete comments that seem divisive or disrespectful. The goal is to keep this a friendly discussion.

The Argument:
*Plink* That was my soapbox, which is smaller and daintier than Hutch’s. Also, it is pink.

Let’s begin by looking at the passages. 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:6-9. I highly encourage you to read as many versions as you can handle.

The Translation Issue:

Q: The 1st Timothy passage repeatedly says “he” and “man.” How can this be talking about women, too?

A: Although the word "man" is used in 3:1, 5 the Greek word used is tis, a neuter word meaning male or female. Paul could have used the word andron which specifies male only, but he didn’t. Already we have a hint that elders and deacons can be men or women. In Titus 1:6, the word is also tis.

Verse 11 speaks directly to women. Right in the middle of explaining the qualifications for elders and deacons, Paul addresses women. The NIV translates 3:11 as “their wives.” However, in the Greek there is not a definite article nor is the possessive case used. The Greek word is gunaikas which could be translated as women or wives. Since there is no possessive article there I don’t believe we should be reading “their wives” or “their women.” Simply, “women” is the correct translation.

Q: But it doesn’t say women deacons…just plain women. If Paul isn’t addressing the wives of deacons, isn’t he just simply addressing all women?

A: Since the previous verses and the ones that follow talk about deacons, I think it can be safely assumed that Paul is referring to deacons who are women. It is true that Paul could have said, “Likewise, women deacons (gunaikas diakonos)…” but he didn’t. Still, trying to understand this as an instruction to all women right in the middle of talking about deacons just doesn’t make sense. Why would Paul do that? Not only does it not make sense in the context, it doesn’t fit with Paul’s style of writing. When Paul goes off on a tangent, he makes it clear that he is going down another thought path and then makes it clear again when he gets back on topic. While it’s true that the word diakonos does not appear in verse 11, the context lends itself to understanding that the women he is referring to are female deacons, not any woman and not the wives of deacons.

So now we have Paul addressing Elders, Deacons, Male Deacons, Women Deacons, and All Deacons again. This whole line of thinking is linked by the Greek word hosautos which means “likewise” or “in the same way” or “for the same reason”. Paul is showing us this line of thought: Elders are supposed to be this way…For the same reason, deacons are supposed to be this way….For the same reason, women deacons are supposed to be this way. Hosautos links the entire list of qualifications with one another. It links the deacons with the elders in v. 8 and then links them to women in v. 11. While the translation issue is clearer in suggesting that women can be deacons, I believe this “likewise” link also suggests that women can also be elders.

Rules vs. Principles

Q: But what about the “must be the husband of one wife” requirement? Surely, this means elders and deacons must be men only.

A: Hutch maintains that these qualifications are hard and fast rules. I do not agree. One of the biggest problems I have with seeing this list as a set of rules instead of principles is that Paul himself did not meet or practice these requirements (as he apparently appointed Phoebe, a women, to the position of deacon. More on that later.). Neither did Jesus, for that matter.

If we take this as a list of inflexible rules we must not only reject women, but single men (like Paul and Jesus), widowers, men with young children, men with only one child, sterile men and men with barren wives, young men (like Timothy, the recipient of the this letter and the one who was to appoint the elders) and men whose children do not believe. We might even have to reject men whose children are grown and out of the house—in which case, we would be ruling out “older” men. Most scholars agree that in the early church, there were no differences between episkopos (bishop/overseer/elder) and presbuteros* (presbyter or elder, used in 1 Tim 4). Both words describe the same function. Presbuter literally means “older man”. So…could the church really reject “elders” who are in the truest sense elders (older men)? And, more importantly, can we really suggest that Paul or Jesus could not be an elder because they were not married?

One might argue, “But Paul is not an elder, he is an apostle.” That may be true, but Paul is claiming to be an authority over the Elders. It does not make sense that he would set up requirements for the leaders of the church when he, as a leader of the leaders does not/cannot meet the same requirements. Additionally, Jesus as the supreme leader of the church does not meet the husband or father requirement either.

Plus, Paul encourages singleness as an asset to ministry and leadership for both men and women, saying that those with families will have divided attention (1 Cor. 7:25-35). He wishes that everyone could be celibate like himself. Does he wish this for everyone except church leaders (a group which includes himself)?

However, if we read this list of qualifications as a set of principles, Jesus and Paul do meet the requirements. And so can certain women. Hutch argues,
“What still applies and what doesn’t? How do we determine Paul’s mind here? If he calls for specifics, but we’re just looking for principles (like a husband and a good father), do we chuck those and just say that he has to run things well?... To start parsing out which of the list we follow and which we principilize gets a bit dicy.”
But here’s the thing about principles: we don’t simply “chuck” the ideas we don’t agree with—we apply the principles to the specific situation.

If this is a list of exact requirements then we must find out exactly how long someone needs to be a Christian before they are no longer considered a novice. How long? Anyone? But if this is a list of principles we can consider each individual’s walk with Christ on a case by case basis. This is the point of verse 10’s instruction on testing deacons (and elders, too because of that “likewise” link).

Women in Ministry

As far as Paul appointing women goes, the evidence indicates that women were indeed entrusted with leadership positions in New Testament churches. There were women prophets (Acts 2:17-19; 21:9), women teachers (Acts 18:26; Titus 2:3), women church leaders, including Phoebe, the diakonos (deacon), (Rom. 16:1, 3-5; Phil. 4:3; Col. 4:15), and even a female apostle by the name of Junia (Rom. 16:7). Paul made significant use of women in his ministry. He applauds several women as fellow-laborers in the gospel (Rom. 16:1-15; Phil. 4:2f.) and asks the church to give submission to them (I Cor. 16:16).

Men and Women in Church Leadership

As a whole, the New Testament emphatically requires everyone to use their spiritual gifts in the ministries of the church, regardless of marital status or gender. Church organization is never described as a gender based hierarchy. Instead, we are told over and over again how we are to submit to one another and work in unity. Men and women together, in all tiers of church life, acting as one body. (Matt. 19:4-6; John 17:11, 20-23; Acts 4:32; Rom. 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 12:12-14; Eph. 4:4-6; etc.).

Furthermore, as I have already brought up in the comments over at Hutch’s blog, Paul stated that in Christ there is neither male nor female and that before the Lord there is neither man without the woman nor woman without the man (Gal. 3:28; 1 Cor. 11:11f.). Racial distinctions (Jew/Greek), class distinctions (slave/free), and gender distinctions (male/female) have become completely irrelevant to how the church should function. Unity and ministry are inseparably linked. Therefore, since we are not divided in any way (race, class, gender) we have a ringing mandate for both males and females to participate in church leadership without raising the gender difference as grounds for discrimination. In fact, any type of discrimination among believers is biblically forbidden!

Here’s the point: The Holy Spirit gives gifts without regard to gender. Scripture teaches us that these gifts and callings of God are given to all members of the body of Christ (Rom. 12:3-8; I Cor. 12:4-11; Eph. 4:7-11; I Pet. 4:10-11). None of these gifts or offices is the exclusive prerogative of men and there is no mention of women being excluded from such ministry roles. Furthermore, the text teaches that no individual has the right to excuse oneself (v. 14-16) and that no one has the right to exclude someone else from doing ministry (v. 20-22).

The members of the church are meant to use their spiritual gifts to full capacity. If we say that certain women are not “allowed” to use their spiritual gifts in these leadership areas, not only are we grieving the Holy Spirit and disregarding his example, we are hindering the church. We cannot walk if we keep cutting off our toes. And do we really want to present a maimed bride to Jesus?

Conclusion: I do not claim to know all the answers. Like Hutch I am on a journey of discovery and I too am getting whacked on the head by God’s word. It is with a spirit of humility that I make these arguments for women in church leadership. Hutch stated that he didn’t know what to do with Phoebe. So, he decided to understand the difficult in light of the easy. That is a fine thing to do—except when the seemingly easy is also the jagged piece that doesn’t seem to fit with the whole. Sound doctrine must come from an overview of all the scriptures on a subject. Then we fit the seemingly hard to understand into the context of the whole, not the other way around. What we have done with teaching on women in ministry is backwards. We have ignored the practice of women being used in ministry and concentrated on a few Scriptures that may have missed out on the translation boat when the translators took their voyage. I’m simply proposing that we understand the pieces that don’t seem to fit (like Paul seemingly saying that Elders and Deacons are to be men only) in light of the overwhelming evidence from the entire Bible that God’s plan is for men and women to work, live, minister, learn, worship, and lead together.

Finally, I would like to thank Hutch for his participation with me in this discussion. As a woman I have been elevated and honored. As a student of the Word I have been challenged and stretched. And as a friend and fellow Christian I have been motivated toward Christ and sharpened by a quality piece of iron. Thanks, friend. It seems right and fitting that you are the father of two future women—surely they will be cherished and raised with a healthy view of femininity because of your tender and thoughtful care. Let’s do this again sometime.

*As a side note, there is no basis, except for discrimination, for the fact that the word presbuter the word for “older man” is often translated as “elder” but the feminine of that word presbutera is translated “older woman”. The word presbuteros also means "older," and simply means those males and females in the church who carry out the functional positions of modeling servanthood, pastoral care, and developing the less mature ones. Is the goal for the church to be functional or positional/hierarchical? “Eldership is something that one does. It is not a slot that one fills.” (Barbara Collins)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Preschool Nativity

Let's play Caption This.

Wiseman: I wanted to play King Herod so I could make my maaaaad face!

Angel on the left: Psst...I think your buddies are taking off with the gold and myrrh!

Shepherd: Did I remember to close the gate to the sheep pen???

Joseph: Wait for the flash and then smile. Gets 'em every time!

Mary: My mom is on the PTA and I just know this is the picture she's gonna pick for our class!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

New Phones

We love Verizon wireless. Thanks to their "New Every Two" upgrade deal, Christmas sales, and a Christmas gift from my Papa (thank you, Papa!), we were each able to get a snazzy new phone last night!

Geary went trendy and chose the fancy pants new chocolate in black. It really is a sleek little phone and Geary chose it because it's also an MP3 player. Now he can listen to all his NPR podcasts while working out or on the bus or simply ignoring me while I have a Gilmore Girls DVD marathon.

I picked last year's fancy pants phone, the Motorola Razr V3 in silver. My phone can also play music but I was more interested in its picture taking abilities. I love the big screen and the slim design. It's also been extremely easy to figure out all the functions.

24 Weeks

I had my 24 week OB appointment this morning. Again, everything is looking good. The heartrate was 160bpm and my doctor was even privileged enough to get a good kick from the baby while she had the doppler on me. Also, the ultrasound report was in and those cysts are gone! Even though I wasn't too concerned about it, it's a relief to know there is nothing to get worried about. They were able to see the parts of the heart and face they missed before and everything looks perfect! At my next appointment I'll have some blood work done and it will also be time for the diabetes test. In my mind the diabetes testing is always "near the end" of pregnancy so it feels kind of exciting/weird that I'm almost to that point!

Some developmental facts about the baby:

At 24 weeks he weighs a little over a pound and is about 8 1/2 inches long -- the size of a banana. His skin becomes less translucent as pigment is deposited, and it looks wrinkly because his body is making his skin more quickly than it makes the fat to pad underneath it. His unique hand and footprints are forming.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Santa's Little Helper

Noah would like to give you some Christmas Cheer by dancing a little elf jig for you. Click here for the cuteness.

Thanks, Suzanne, for pointing out the link!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Proud Parent Moment

For several months now I've been sharing with Noah about paychecks. We talk about why daddy gets a paycheck, why he works so hard for his family, what we do with the money, allowances, and how one day he can earn money for the jobs he does. He's seen me tithe, pay bills, buy gifts, grocery shop, and give money away to complete strangers. But I had no idea how much all this financial stuff was sinking in until Noah got a $25 check for his birthday.

After explaining what the check was for and who it was from, I asked Noah, "So...what do you want to do with this money?"

He did not hesitate. "I want to give some of it away to a kid who doesn't have any toys. I want to save some of it in the bank. And I want to use a little bit to buy a toy for me, like a Rescue Hero or some Diego stuff."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

We know firsthand how amazing it is to have a newborn near Christmas. As a mother, I could relate to Mary and her sacrifice, wonder, and joy in a completely new way. To think about Jesus coming to earth as an infant while cradling your own tiny child is a wonderous thing. I'm not sure anything could make an already incredible season more magical or miraculous.

So, we would like to extend congratulations to two families who are undoubtably experiencing the same joy, wonder, and amazement right now.

Congratulations to Hutch, Steph, and big sister Lizzy on the birth of
Eliana Joy


Congratulations to Jed, Mel, big brother Ezra, and big sister Addie on the birth of Asher Josiah

If one feels the need of something grand, something infinite,
something that makes one feel aware of God, one need not go far to find it.
I think that I see something deeper, more infinite, more eternal than the ocean
in the expression of the eyes of a little baby when it wakes in the morning
and coos or laughs because it sees the sun shining on its cradle.
~Vincent van Gogh

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Ultrasound #3

I just got back from my third ultrasound for this pregnancy. The tech was able to get some better shots of the heart and she said everything looks really good. They still have to analyze the pictures and write up a report which my doctor will share with me at my appointment next week. But I'm relieved that the heart was all there and functioning normally. The heartrate today was 160 bpm. Also, I got to see the baby sucking it's fingers--so cute! I didn't get any pictures this time around. The tech left so I could have some privacy when I wiped all the goo off but she never came back. Oh, well.

Two things that made me laugh:

1. At one point the tech said, "Let me see if I get a better picture using semen." I was thinking, "Um...isn't that how I got pregnant in the first place?" But it turns out that Siemen is the name of the computer program she was using.

2. Towards the end of my ultrasound I was told, "You know, you have a beautiful cervix." Well, I guess it's good to know what your best features are!

It was great to see the baby again. I can't believe how quickly this pregnancy is going by! I'm over halfway there!

Oh yeah...I guess some of you are wondering if we found out the gender. Well...we did. *grin*

Monday, December 04, 2006

Merry Christmas, yo.

Noah was playing with his Little People Nativity Set and I overheard him say:

And then the angel came to Joseph and said, "Joseph, Mary is gonna have a baby. Now you gotta be the baby daddy. "

Friday, December 01, 2006

Bouncy Birthday

Noah's birthday was a great success! He woke up and called out, "Good morning, Mom! I'm FOUR today!!!"

We went to Toys R Us for a special birthday trip. When we got there he was given the Special Birthday Treatment which included a crown, balloon, toys, sheriff's badge, and super special birthday shopping cart. As a added bonus, the employees announced over the intercom, "Attention shoppers! We have a very special guest with us today! His name is Noah and today is his fourth birthday! If you see him make sure to say Happy Birthday, Noah!"

Noah was giddy! Tons of people said hello and happy birthday. I'm pretty sure he thought he was famous.

After Toys R Us we had a special lunch at McDonalds (a rare treat for Noah) and then headed over to Pump it Up for his party.

14 kids bounced and ran and slid and tumbled for an hour on several giant inflatables. Then we all gathered in a party room for cupcakes, juice, and presents. It was a really fun day. Best quote:
"This is best birthday I've ever had!"
--Analia Johnson

Check out our Web Album for more pictures of the day. Posted by Picasa