Read all about it!

Yes, I know I’m being totally “extra” right now, but it’s also totally warranted!

All in ONE MONTH…

I have been invited to speak (plans changed but you still NEED to check out this conference),

launched our home church,

got an AMAZING coach & new friend to walk with me during this church plant,

shared on the Third Millennial Church podcast about my passion for people and social media,

finished an e-book (I’ll post the link as soon as it published)… and SO much more incredible stuff I can’t even share yet!

So, I’m super sorry I have been out of touch on the blog. Definitely thinking of you all and praying for you every day!

I’ll be back to posting soon about what God is doing in this next season of my life.

For now, check out this timely word on your social media use.

See you on the flip side 😉

Your sister,

Monica Gary

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We have all criticized this man. Verbally or in our mind at some point. We would be foolish to never have wondered what is really up with him.

I have been an outspoken opponent of his ministry. Viewing videos made by other naysayers and dissecting them for inspection. I have shuddered at some of the misspoken words that have come from his wife.

But it doesn’t matter what I think. We all know the old saying about opinions.

What really matters is what does Jesus think?

I’ve only got partial information about Osteen because I’ve never met the guy. The best intel I have is from a trusted source (my own pastor) who is amazed by Joel’s heart for the lost. If that really is the case then we should stop badgering the poor man (haha, sorry I can’t help but laugh at the irony in what I just typed).

But seriously. For sake of argument, let’s assume that our worst fears about Joel Osteen and his ministry prove to be true.

Worst case scenario, what would Jesus say about him?

Let’s look at the book of Mark. Chapter 9, verse 38-40 says this:

John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in Your name, and we tried to stop him because he wasn’t following us.

Don’t stop him,” said Jesus, “because there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name who can soon afterward speak evil of Me. For whoever is not against us is for us.

Notice the disciples were complaining that the people were not following them.

They had removed Jesus from the equation or He wouldn’t have had to remind them of the awesomeness that His name was being preached!

Jesus is far more concerned with us finding freedom than He is with how “right” our theology is.

He knows that in Him we find freedom so that relationship is always paramount to everything else.

A right relationship with Jesus will correct any faulty theology over time. Nevertheless, none of us can say we have it all figured out; “it” being a sovereign, Holy, incomprehensible God of the universe. (Please email me if you do because I would like to meet you, Jesus!)

Jesus says leave Joel be. Let him preach because, even if the worst suspicions are true, our Lord is being glorified and people are finding freedom and eternal life!

Is my opinion of a man’s bank account more important than your salvation? God forgive me that it has been. How arrogant I was.

God will hold every teacher accountable for how he has stewarded what was given to him in this world.

Our job is to love one another and be one. That includes the preachers we love to criticize and (let’s be honest) compare ourselves to.

Every preacher of the Word thinks he/she would be the best steward of resources like Joel has if we were blessed with them. We judge our hearts more capable of handling wealth than men God has chosen to bestow it upon.

I’m not declaring that you should start trusting every pastor that preaches the gospel. I’m simply saying we should trust God and be about our Father’s business instead of publicly calling foul every time we disagree with someone.

I’ll be doing exactly that today. Preaching through blogs and Instagram and phone calls… whatever it takes. Personally I’m glad someone like Joel is utilizing that massive platform to point to Jesus.

Your sister,

Monica

I sat in my husband’s office yesterday listening to him share about a church someone recommended to him. Being the vigilant theologian I am, I immediately knew what was off just by the denomination.

Extending the benefit of the doubt, I looked up the website anyhow. I was still kind of looking to prove myself right but I tried to be as non-biased as possible.

It didn’t take long to confirm that this church does not welcome women in their leadership.

” ________ churches are governed on the local level by “sessions”, a group of men that have been set apart by the local and regional bodies of the church”

My heart sped up a bit as I tried to convey to my husband that he had found yet another church that couldn’t get with Jesus’s position on the role women play in the body of believers.

His response? “Let’s try to keep an open mind”

O-kaaayy…

I moved on. At least I tried.

After about 15 minutes of trying to silently process what had just happened, he noticed my demeanor and asked our kids to step out of the room. He stared at me.

“I don’t want to talk about it.” Then correcting myself I stated what I really believed:

You don’t want to talk about it.”

He already knew.

What he didn’t know was the pain it caused. That I could not wrap my brain around being “open minded” regarding such things.

“If the website said ‘churches are governed by a group of white people set apart by the local and regional bodies of the church’, we would immediately know something was wrong, not try to be ‘open-minded’,” I said angrily.

He asked why I was angry, assuming it had to do with what I want to do in ministry. I had to explain the greater implications of this type of discriminatory mindset in our churches.

The fact that I had to have this discussion with my own husband who loves and respects me (and whom I follow unashamedly), brought a harsh reminder that we need to keep talking about this.

The church is finally making moves to attain racial reconciliation and yet our homes are still afflicted with ignorance.

I am applauded for changing an alternator one day and the next I’m supposed to be open-minded about establishments (that are meant to reflect the heart of God) telling women that we are “valued and equal” in a tone like they are expecting to get a medal for being so progressive.

I don’t need you to tell me my value. My Lord told me who I am. Likewise, I look to Him to tell me what I can and cannot do in His Church.

I am deeply grieved by the number of women who have been conditioned to accept this treatment as tolerable and even ideal.

Women who have heard things like what I just read in this church’s belief statements:

“Doubtless the presence of women serving in positions of spiritual leadership can undermine the God ordained role of spiritual headship that their husbands (and other husbands) are to play.”

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if a women serving in a spiritual leadership role undermines your “authority” and she’s not even your wife, you’ve got some other issues that need to be worked out with the Lord.

I’m not out here trying to gain support from our brothers to speak up against this disorder. I tried that already. It was ridiculously unsuccessful. (Likely because they are unaware of how bad it really is just like my husband was.)

This article is for us women.

Let this marinate:

There is only one teacher. That is God. If you are a willing vessel He will teach through you with all authority.

One of the most interesting, yet heartbreaking things I recently learned was the history of the deacons’ white gloves in African American churches.

The purpose of the gloves was to cover their hands as they served in white churches because they were not allowed to touch white people. To this day many churches still have their deacons wear gloves and don’t know the painful history.

Women who serve proudly in churches that relegate them to “appropriate ministry roles” are devastatingly similar to the deacons who still cover their hands.

You walk around in bondage to man-made rules oblivious to the freedom that is available to you, often doing so proudly.

That’s not your fault. Nobody told you how it got this way.

It’s time to take the gloves off.

Weather man or woman, if this article got your blood pumping and you need to decry the error of what I have written… I plead with you to first fully examine your own position in the presence of God.

Come correct and we can have a necessary dialog.

Worst case scenario, we disagree and I keep speaking truth because that’s what I was made for. Regardless, I’m going to love you all anyway… because I was made for that too.

May you be broken and blessed by this today.

Your sister,

Monica

I am not here to put my two cents in on what Cosby may or may not have done.

I trust the Lord will sort that out and work in our justice system as necessary.

I am, however, glad to hear that there is a retrial on the horizon.

Regardless of the outcome, the fact that this case is being given a retrial is a huge indicator of how far America has come in regard to treating women as fully human; a sentiment we have seen eerily echoing out from our past sins of racism.

(imagine the combination of both prejudices that “angry” black women have to deal with every day in America)

Women in general have had a rough go of it for centuries. We were reminded of this just yesterday as dialog about women being the first to preach a risen Savior flooded our social media feeds (mine anyway), and people lashed out in protest.

There’s a difference between preacher and pastor” one man commented, clinging to his superiority.

I kept my comments to myself and decided to enjoy Easter with my family, sans debate on church patriarchy. I have seen enough to know that God is at work (still) and there is no need to argue on the matter.

I believe however, that He is on the side of the oppressed and that our nation is now having to face the harsh reality women have lived for so long.

In the coming year, we will see one man (Cosby) held accountable for his alleged actions against women. America is finally moving in the direction of Jesus’s ideal of how we should respect and value one another as humans. We’ve got a long way to go, albeit, but it gives me hope nevertheless.

It gives me hope that the church will continue to lead the way for our equality despite the naysayers and power-seekers.

It gives me hope that this type of thing could be just what we need for whole church to begin realizing the lingering bias and ignorance.

It gives me hope that my daughter, who is 8 and wants to be a pastor someday, will not have her dream ripped away by some fool that worships law over the Lord.

So, I am grateful that the Lord works all things for good. All the horrible things these women have had to endure at the hands of politicians, celebrities, and for many of us, even our family members…

All these things are being worked together for our good. The world is taking notice of our struggle and God is on our side.

For my brothers and sisters, I ask you to decide where you stand.

Will you be on the right side of history when our nation looks back on these events? Will you bear the load of your fellow Americans when we could not speak for ourselves? Or will you turn your face away because it is just easier not to listen?

I pray your heart is softened and your eyes are opened to the struggles of those around you today and every day.

Your sister,

Monica

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Being a woman called into ministry is a unique experience.

I cannot count how many times I’ve been told, if only passively, to “sit down“; that there is no place for a woman in the pulpit. The problem with this is, not only do I know the calling God has placed on my life, but He has never told me to sit down.

He’s never told any of us to sit down.

Rather, He tells us to kneel… before Him, and then to carry the Word boldly into this world. This is the great commission put on every believer in Jesus Christ. Some of those believers, like myself, are called to do this in pastoral ministry. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why this is my calling… but I know He has equipped me for it.

Perhaps, it is because God knows I’m a little cray and I’ll lead boldly for Him. He knows that I will honor Him no matter what the cost. No matter what the opposition. God created us to be brave warriors in His kingdom.

It is no matter to Him that there are actual breasts beneath the breastplate of righteousness, so long as the sword we fight by is His Spirit.

We are all to have feet “sandaled with readiness” to carry the gospel. If the way you are called to do that is in front of a crowd or a church, do it! Do not neglect your gift! I’m not going to neglect (or hide) mine any longer. Today, I lay it out there that this is who I am.

I am a pastor.

I was the worst of sinners. I realized only God could change my heart and I wanted to surrender, but I doubted Jesus was God. I almost became Muslim. I begged for faith in Christ. I received it immediately and in abundance. I had only one request from God:

“Let me feed your sheep! Please!?” I was on the floor crying this, y’all.

I prayed and asked what He wanted me to do with this overwhelming desire to teach. As a teen, I had been anointed as a teacher in church, but I didn’t know what it meant during that time (I thought I was going to teach math). When I came to faith 10 years later, it became clear.

Within days of recieving this faith, my pastor recommended I begin attending The John Leland Center to earn my diploma in theology. He suggested I would pastor a church myself someday. He had no awareness of my pleading to the Lord about shepherding. I didn’t even know that is what I was asking for at the time. I just had to ask!

I asked and I received.

Now, I’m going to use what I asked for. The question is no longer my calling… God already made that very clear. The question is now where, when, how… and all the normal things every pastor has to grapple with.

I tell you this because it is not a road to travel alone. We need each other, even and especially those of us who lead. Friends, please be in prayer for me and my family as we navigate this journey. It is only the beginning and I’m going to need all of you, the body of Christ, along the way. I love you all dearly.

Your sister,

Monica

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Sometimes it is difficult for me to get to a place of relation. Really difficult. In this case, it has nothing to do with the positive. I do not struggle to relate to Bishop T.D. Jakes because of his powerful preaching or his obvious business prowess. All those things are inside of me too (yet in development still). It is more humbling than that.

It is hard for me to relate to him as a fallen sinner in need of Jesus.

Not because I don’t see him as one, but today I somehow forgot how sinful I can be. As far along in my journey as I have come, I still have much ground to cover. So does Bishop Jakes. We all do, which is why the Lord’s mercy is new every morning. We have new need of it every morning. My bout of pride, mixed with a little fervor for the holiness of the church, made for an interesting sequence of events.

I greatly admire Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation church. Last night I watched a live broadcast of his conversation with Bishop T.D. Jakes. There was some useful wisdom in there of what I could catch between running up and down stairs trying to put my daughter to bed (that child never sleeps!), and I was taking in all that I could.

I’ve never favored Bishop Jakes per se, but he’s got a lot of knowledge in some areas that I do not, so I listened carefully. My open-mindedness came to a screeching halt as I watched the end of the broadcast, when The Bishop led the congregation in singing “I Beleieve I Can Fly” by R Kelly.

I immediately set about formulating how to best make people hear that this is not ok. I thought of all the pictures from social media recently of church members marching against human trafficking for the A-21 Foundation. And here these two greats in the church are singing songs written by a child molesting, abusive misogynist who is currently under investigation for, guess what? Sex trafficking.

Talk about fire in my bones!

I could feel it welling up from the deepest parts of me and I had zero qualms about telling the world what had just happened. In a single zealous moment, I turned from a woman passionate about grace to a woman passionate about justice… forgetting that the two work hand-in-hand in the Kingdom of God.

I forgot that my God is already aware and working on this problem in the church. And I took to my soapbox to fill in for what I thought He wasn’t doing fast enough.

I started slamming Bishop Jakes on social media (not realizing this is what I was doing at the time because, well… righteous indignation, right?). Soon after, a friend confronted me publicly with her disapproval of what I was doing. I didn’t care. I was right.

The funny thing about being right is that, absent grace… we cease to be right.

Justification of my own righteous anger ends at the place where it turns to love, and declares, “I got this. I no longer need you.” It ends at the place where I start demonizing people in order to assign blame, which is only for my selfish desire of wanting the problem to be solved faster.

People turn to problems when grace departs from judgement, and no amount of me being “right” would ever justify dehumanizing anyone.

I know this in the pit of me and yet, being still a sinner on even my best day, I am prone to wander from truth. If I don’t intentionally remind myself that Bishop Jakes is not only a leader, but also a human being who makes mistakes and sins just like me, just like the rest of us, I can become a great tool of division against the very church I love so much.

I believe we are at a turning point in the church where grace is replacing judgement in our outreach to the world. Thank the Lord!

Lets not stop there. Let’s extend our leaders that same attitude of grace they have been praying for us to have for so long. I’m not saying they are always right, that’s why they need grace too. But I am saying that God will judge them in a way appropriate for what they have been entrusted with and we cannot assume the role of judge and remain graceful. By all means, speak out against injustice. But don’t do what I did today and stoop to throwing your brother or sister in Christ under the bus because of pride or impatience.

In the presence of the Lord we all fall short. We become Christians because we know this, and we know that grace is the solution. Not judgement.

Its not the end of the world because one of my favorite preachers did something I don’t agree with. It’s not even my job to argue that there might be some sinning mixed into this situation. I’m not in that room. Maybe someday I will be blessed with the opportunity to influence some of our promenant leaders. Today, I have you all.

That is not a lesser thing to me.

So now I ask forgiveness for failing to lead you well today. I ask you to stay with me. I might stumble but I still know where I’m going. I can only pray that, should I ever have such a great platform and responsibility as T.D. Jakes or Steven Furtick, you all will remember this moment and continue to extend me the same grace when I fall… as I hope you do now.

Grace to all of you. Thank you once again for being a part of my journey and letting me be a part of yours.

Your sister,

Monica