Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Even Roosters Can Work Together! Can We??

 Hi Friends,


Today I wanted to share a story that I hope will encourage us to stop looking at others as our enemies and instead work toward unity to protect others and care for the weak. See what you think!

Dogs in the Chicken Coop

 


 “Mom!” 

I knew by the intensity of the shriek that something was very wrong. My six-year-old never screamed like that. She came bursting through my office door. “Mom! Help! Come quick!”

I leapt from my chair. “What’s wrong?”

She started to sob as she spoke. “The dogs are in the chicken coop. I couldn’t get them out.”

I ran for the door. She ran after me. 

“They pushed past me when I went in. I couldn’t get them out. Hurry!”

I was hurrying. I was sprinting out the front door, up the driveway, back toward the coop.

“Moooommmmmyyyy! They’re going to kill all the chickens!” 

Probably.

But I wouldn’t say that out loud. Instead, I just ran as fast as I could.

When I reached the coop, I burst inside. The hens were squawking high up in the coop while our white rooster flapped his wings at the two dogs and the red rooster lay, motionless, on the coop floor.

The two little dogs barked ferociously at the red rooster.

Oh no. Buffalo, the red rooster, was the favorite of all the kids.

I grabbed the two dogs and tossed them from the coop. They wagged their tails and scratched at the door to get back in. I ignored them.

Instead I knelt beside Buffalo, fearing the worst.

But he was still breathing. I helped him to his feet.

He shook himself and blinked at me. His entire, glorious tail had been pulled out and now I noticed feathers scattered around the coop. He had a few bare spots on his wings, but there wasn’t a bite mark on him. 

My daughter sidled up next to me. “Is he going to be all right?”

“I think so. Go get the wound spray from the barn. I’m going to spray him where his tail got pulled out.”

Jordyn brought me the spray and Buffalo held still while I tended to his bare back end. Then he fluttered up to his perch and checked on his hens. The white rooster turned around on his perch and I noticed that he, too, was missing much of his tail. I sprayed him too, checked the hens, then sat on the hay. 

The roosters stared at me. I stared back at them. “You’re war heroes, you know,” I told them. “You fought the battle so the hens could get away.”

They fluttered their wings, off balance without their large tails.

I smiled at them. Sometimes the roosters squabble with each other. Sometimes they peck the backs of the hens. But when the real enemy threatened their hens, the roosters worked together to protect the flock. 

That’s how we need to be too. In the church, in our families, in our circles of friends, we need to recognize that the enemy is not each other. There’s real enemy whose goal is our destruction, our death. 

Sometimes we’re too busy squabbling with each other to protect against the real threat. Sometimes we’re too busy pecking at those God has given us to protect. Paul says in Galatians 5:14-16 (NIV), “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

The roosters may occasionally be disgruntled with one another, but they don’t bite and devour each other. And when the real enemy sneaks into their coop, they band together to protect the hens. They know who the enemy really is.

And as I sat there, bemoaning the loss of Buffalo’s stunning tail (and most of Parmesan’s beautiful white tail), I started to see that losing a tail, even a gorgeous one like Buffalo’s, isn’t the worst thing that can happen.

God calls us to protect the weak, stand up for what’s right, lay down our lives, our tails, for others. He doesn’t call us to bicker and nitpick and peck at the very ones who we are called to protect. He doesn’t call us to bite and devour each other.

He calls us to fight the real enemy, the one who wants to destroy our souls. Together, just like Buffalo and Parmesan, we can defeat every dog who crashes our coop. Together, God gives us the strength to love others enough to sacrifice our tails so they can find a high place of safety.

Together, we can be who God created us to be, even if some feathers get pulled out in the process. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Have You Been Betrayed?

Hi Friends,

Lately I've found myself walking with a number of people who have been betrayed by someone very close to them. It's heartbreaking, shattering, and can shake one's sense of self and God's love. So, for those who have been betrayed, I offer this encouragement from the pages of Women of the Bible Speak Out . . .

From Sarah's story in Genesis . . .

Our God deems us precious. Valuable. Righteous. Justified. Free. Loved.

All of that is true. And yet, if it’s true, why doesn’t this God who loves us always save us before anything bad happens? ...

I don’t have all the answers. But I do know that God also didn’t spare his only Son.

Jesus trusted his Father in heaven. He loved, he gave, he never sinned . . . and yet he was betrayed. By a kiss, no less! By a sign of love. On the night he was arrested, Judas, one of Jesus’s closest friends, one of the twelve special disciples, a man who walked with Jesus, lived with him, and claimed devotion to him, walked up to Jesus in front of a mob of soldiers with torches and swords, and kissed him. The kiss was to show the mob what man to arrest. And following that kiss, Jesus was arrested, beaten, mocked, and crucified. A kiss is a sign of affection, but behind this kiss was the worst kind of betrayal.

Our God, in Christ, has lived the pain of betrayal. For him, it led to a horrific death on a Roman cross. It led to the most excruciating and cruel execution known to the world at that time. He was beaten, mocked, and crucified because he was betrayed by someone who claimed to love him, someone who betrayed him with a kiss.

Many of us have been there too. There were promises of love, kisses, but love wasn’t love. It wasn’t the real thing. And Jesus shows us how to respond to that kind of betrayal. As he hung on the cross, his last words were, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46). For him, it was a cry of surrendering to death; for us, it can be a daring, courageous cry of surrendering to real love, true love, the love that never abandons, never betrays. The love that knows your name, makes no excuses, gives you the voice of kings, and redeems you. The love that makes you an equal recipient of the promises of God. The love that sets you free from all guilt, all shame, and calls you his own. His princess.

Commit your spirit to him. You can withstand this pain because Jesus has walked this path of betrayal before you, and he walks beside you now. You can flourish. It’s not easy. It’s never easy. But Jesus himself has shown the way and holds your hand as you travel the path of healing your soul. Because he suffered and died and rose from the grave, you can be fully healed.

In the face of betrayal, stand in the love of Christ. Place your hand, place your life, in his. Hear the words of God spoken over you through Abimelech, the king: You are innocent . . . and before everyone you are vindicated. You are seen. You are loved. You are valued.

And no one can take that away. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Biblical? Or Just Traditional?

Hi Friends,

I was revisiting this little portion of Women of the Bible Speak Out today and thinking about some of the memes I've seen on Facebook, in particular. There's an umbrella meme that insists that a woman's place is under the umbrella of the husband, who is under the umbrella of God. It claims that the picture is the biblical model for a family. But is it? I really can't find any support for the meme's claims in the Bible. In our past culture, yes; but in the Bible itself? Not so much.

Sometimes what we believe is biblical is really only tradition. It's the "way things have been done." It's what has been considered respectable and right but isn't necessarily what the Bible actually teaches. Sometimes, in fact, it's the opposite!

So, next time you're thinking about what's biblical for people today, I urge you to think deeper. Consider not just a verse or two out of the Bible that you believe applies, but consider the Bible as whole. Consider the character of God. Think about the testimony of the God's Word about the One who is Love itself.  

And consider this short excerpt from Women of the Bible Speak Out, from the chapter about Mary and her sister Martha . . .

Jesus never calls us to meet the expectations of others. In fact, he often challenged the legalisms held by the religious leaders of his day. They had their traditions, their expectations, their interpretations of what they believed was God’s law and God’s way. But Jesus never condoned their narrow interpretations and beliefs. In fact, he routinely challenged them, such as on this occasion when his disciples failed to meet the requirements of ceremonial law:

Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders. . . . And there are many other traditions that they observe. . . .) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

“‘This people honors me with their lips,

but their heart is far from me;

in vain do they worship me,

teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

“You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” (Mark 7:1–9)

Tradition. Often what others insist is biblical, or God’s way, is really only human tradition, cultural tradition, or “the ways things have always been.” When Jesus came, he shattered many of these traditions—not only ceremonial traditions, such as the washing of hands, but also social traditions about the roles and expectations placed on women.

A woman sitting and learning at a rabbi’s feet? Scandalous!

Women disciples, such as Mary Magdalene, Mary and Martha, and others? Radical!

Women as the first witnesses to the resurrection? Unheard of!

When he walked the earth, Jesus was not a traditional rabbi. He was not even a what-was-expected Messiah. Instead, he chose to be exactly who God the Father wanted him to be.

You can be the woman God wants you to be. You can be Mary, choosing to sit at the feet of Jesus. You can be Martha, who accepted Jesus’s invitation to set aside the expectations of others.

Jesus himself longs to say of you, “She has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Who Do You Listen To?

Hi friends,


In response to all the shame and blame that's being thrown around these days, I wanted to share a short excerpt from my latest book, Women of the Bible Speak Out. The excerpt comes from chapter 12 which discusses the story of the "sinful woman" who anointed Jesus' feet in Luke 7. See what you think, and I hope you'll be encouraged . . .

Who Do You Listen To?
There’s an interesting dynamic of shame and blame, of scorn, that sometimes happens in my household of six kids. Today, it played out in an exchange between my thirteen-year-old daughter Bria and my ten-year-old son Jayden. It went something like this:
Bria: Jayden didn’t put his plate in the dishwasher.
Jayden: Bria! I did too.
Me: Bria, that’s Jayna’s plate. Jayden cleaned up after himself.
Jayden to Bria (with increasing volume): I did too, Bria! Stop trying to make me look bad.
Me: Jayden did what he was told.
Bria to Jayden: You never put your dishes away.
Me: He did this time.
Jayden (still totally ignoring me): I do too. I put my plate away. Stop being mean, Bria!
Me: (Heaves a big sigh.)
You would think that Jayden would be satisfied that I was backing him up, especially since I was the authority in that situation. You’d think he’d rest in my praise and affirmation of his innocence. But no. All it takes is one sibling saying something critical or negative about another, and that becomes the only thing the criticized one can hear.
Thank goodness the woman with the alabaster jar wasn’t like that! She knew who to listen to: Jesus. She focused exclusively on him. In fact, she did not cease kissing Jesus’s feet even when others were talking about her. She heard only Jesus, paid attention only to him.
I want to be like that—so focused on gratitude and love that I have no room to dwell on the scorn of the Pharisees in my life. I never want to allow the critics to distract me from showing love to God or from following his will for me.
The key, I believe, is firmly deciding whose opinion matters. Do we care about the scornful comments of those who are mean-spirited and judgmental? Do we let them pull us away from Jesus’s feet? What if they’re religious leaders? So was Simon! His opinion was supposed to matter . . . or was it?
In comparison to the opinion of Jesus, Simon’s opinion meant nothing at all. And that’s how it should be. If those around us, even leaders in the church, degrade and deride us, then they are not showing the character of Jesus. Jesus says we are forgiven. Jesus says we are made new. He is the one who offers freedom and peace. He is the one who calls us to come near.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Justice is Not Enough

Hi Friends,



There's been a lot of talk lately about justice, especially with regard to racial discrimination. When I was writing Women on the Bible Speak Out, I was thinking more about gender discrimination than racial, but still the same principal applies: Justice is not enough. It may help, but it's not enough to heal.

For those of you who are pray, I hope you'll consider praying for more than justice, but for healing, wholeness, and holiness.

When asked about this idea that justice is not enough in a recent interview, I said this:

Q: You say that justice is not enough. What do you mean by that? 

A: I feel that in our approach to the gender-based discrimination, hardships, abuse, and pain that women have endured we, as a body of Christ, and as a nation, have focused exclusively on justice, on bringing the sins of the abusers to the light. And while I’m glad the truth is finally being exposed (it’s about time!), it is not enough. Justice is not enough.
            It’s not enough for me. And it’s not enough for the women who have suffered, who are suffering now.
I want more than justice; I want healing.
I want more than healing; I want wholeness.
I want more than wholeness; I want holiness.

I want God to redeem every bit of my #MeToo experiences, and yours. I want him to transform them all.

There’s no use being swept up in anger, bitterness, resentment and so be victimized all over again. Anger doesn't bring about healing. Bitterness only poisons the bearer. And wholeness can never be found in the arms of resentment and accusation. Healing, wholeness, and holiness can only be found in a God who sees, loves, and redeems.

Justice? Good, we need justice. But what I really want, what I really long for is the wonder of God in the darkest places of life. I want to look and see, in the places I least expect it, the glory of God.
            

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Hagar: A Black Slave Woman Speaks Out

Hi Friends,

In light of the focus on race and racism in America right now, I wanted to share a short excerpt from the chapter on Hagar from Women of the Bible Speak Out. I hope you'll pick up a copy of the book and read the whole chapter. Here are a couple links for online purchase:

Directly from the Publisher
Amazon Link
Barnes & Noble



Hagar was Egyptian, meaning she was black. She was also a slave, given to Sarai, Abraham's wife, as a personal maid. When Sarai became frustrated that she wasn't having a child, she gave Hagar to her husband Abraham to use sexually so that Hagar might get pregnant and Sarai might claim the child for her own. Her story is found in Genesis 16 and 21.

Here's a bit from Women of the Bible Speak Out, chapter 3. I hope it encourages you today:

So often we ignore Hagar’s story, as if she were just a footnote in the story of Abraham and Sarah. As if she didn’t matter much at all. Nobody cared about Hagar. Not Pharaoh. Not Abraham. Not Sarah. And sometimes not even today’s theologians. 
At every turn, Hagar was used and treated as a consumable, a commodity to be used up for the purposes and gain of others, and then to be thrown away. She was used not only by Sarai and Abram in the attempt to secure God’s promise of a child on their own terms, but she was also used by Pharaoh, who most likely gave Hagar to Sarai after the disastrous “she’s my sister” incident in Genesis 12. Her life was defined by a series of events in which her needs, her wants, her desires were not considered at all. She was given away to a foreigner by Pharaoh; she was given to a man sexually so she could bear a son that would not be her own; she was abused by her mistress; and then she was cast aside once that mistress had a son of her own. Foreigner. Sexual slave. Property to be used, abused, and thrown away.
She mattered to no one.
Except God.
God spoke to her personally, rescued her, redeemed her abuse. He treated this Egyptian slave woman with respect, love, and care. With value. And he made her line into a great nation, just as he promised. He did it not because Hagar was humble or faithful or somehow deserving. He did it because he saw her suffering and offered his grace to a woman everyone else had used and thrown out. They left her homeless, husbandless, and helpless, but God lifted her up and transformed not only her desperate circumstances, but also her mistakes when he led her into a future that was more than she could ever have imagined for herself. 
God can do that for you, too. He can take the worst of what you’ve suffered—your most painful humiliations and even life-long dehumanizing moments—and, despite your own bitterness, pride, anger, and resentment, redeem them, and you. That’s what God does. 
When others use us and leave us without a place of safety, without a home, God is with us. When the love and security of family is taken from us—which, in Hagar’s time, was what it was to be husbandless—God sees and intervenes. When we feel helpless to provide for our own needs or the needs of others, God will not leave us bereft. 

Monday, June 1, 2020

New Book - WOMEN OF THE BIBLE SPEAK OUT

Hey Friends,


My newest book is now available - yay! I'm praying it will help many women to find the wonder and love of God despite hurts in their past. I hope you'll pick up a copy, read, and discover the amazing love of God for YOU.

Here's a short Q&A that I hope will encourage you . . .

1) What compelled you to write about women who were abused or treated badly in the Bible?

A: When my publisher asked me to consider writing a book about women in the Bible who experienced abuse, oppression, gender-based bias and discrimination, and more, I didn’t know what I would find in the stories of these women and how they would intersect with my story and the experiences of women today. But as I began to look deeper and to pray, what became clear was that these stories reveal more than abuse and oppression; they reveal the wonder of God in the face of even horrific acts. I thought I would find only horror in these stories, but beyond the horror I found a surprising hope; I found a God who is always, always, seeking to redeem, to heal, and to make right where mankind has broken and betrayed. And I knew I had to write Women of the Bible Speak Out to give the women of the Bible a voice in our lives so that they could show us the God that they encountered, the God who loved them and loves us. In their voices, I think we’ll find our own voice, and God’s.


2) What surprised you most in writing Women of the Bible Speak Out?

A: You know, I’ve heard people say that the Bible shows a God who turns a blind eye to oppression and subjugation, or even that he condones it. But after digging deeply into the stories in Women of the Bible Speak Out, I saw that nothing is further from the truth! Instead of winking at the repression of women, the Bible exposes it and reveals a God who not only shares in but seeks to redeem our suffering. 

That surprised me. I thought I’d find depressing and oppressing stories. Instead, I found a God who loves fiercely, who defends the weak, who is passionate about true justice, and who never white-washes the sin committed against those he loves. Against us. Against the women he created, and sent his Son to die for. 

I am still amazed, changed, by seeing in these stories, God’s fierce love for women. His love for or me. For the women listening … it’s breathtaking. He doesn’t turn his back; he doesn’t shrug his shoulder and say “oh well” – not then, not now. Instead, in God we find a fierce advocate and a gentle healer. We find the lover of our souls.


3)  The #MeToo movement has become controversial. What’s your take on it?

A: To be honest, I wish there was no need for #MeToo. I want #NobodyAtAll. But that’s not the world we live in. This world is far too full of sin, abuse, violence, marginalization, derision, pain, and shame. I wish it weren’t. But the poor treatment of women because they’re women has been going on for millennia, since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and were kicked out of the garden. We can’t ignore it. Whether we use a hashtag or whether we simply answer God’s call to love others, we must pursue hope and healing in the face of this particular kind of widespread sin against half the world’s population.

So, as the recent #MeToo movement has given voice to millions of women struggling through experiences of gender-based harassment and/or physical violence, Women of the Bible Speak Out is meant to give voice to women of the Bible. Looking at #MeToo, I had to ask:
            What if the women of Scripture could speak out in a #MeToo movement of their own?  
            What would they reveal about God, and faith, and life? 
What can women today learn from the lives they led?

I truly believe this book is crucial in making the #MeToo movement more than just a cry for justice, but rather a means to hope and healing … through the word of God.