Christian Womanhood is a monthly ladies magazine available printed and digitally. Loretta Walker and her staff are dedicated to helping christian ladies in all walks of life live victorious christian lives at home, work, and church.
II Peter 3:18 “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
A few years ago, my husband and I had a cat, named Abishag. She was loving but it was clear she was MY cat. Our souls spoke to one another whereas my husband just saw her as a hairy nuisance. One day he opened our back door, and for some reason did not verify that the screen was shut. I returned home to see this and realized my fur baby was gone. I posted on craigslist, Facebook, a missing pets website etc. to no avail, I cried for days because I knew it was pushing 90 degrees out and this chunky spoiled cat was not prepared to fend for her life in the wilds of suburban Canal Winchester.
“The Monarch of Bibles” A practical Biblical study of the words of Scripture, “inspired and preserved.” (Click on the image for more information.)
A few days had passed and a concerned citizen from the lost and found pets website called me. She said “I live in Grove city (about 30 minutes’ drive away)” and proceeded to explain that she found a friendly black cat in her yard and fed it, and she thinks it may be mine. I was skeptical because why on earth would this cat make the trek to Grove City, but the lady told a convincing story about how her brother had accidentally taken a stray that was stuck somehow in his car or under his car to another state and it was, in fact, possible. I figured it couldn’t hurt to check and as I was busy that day I ended up sending Brandon. I begged him, “please call me the second you know!”
He called and explained that he couldn’t be sure but he seemed excited and said, “I don’t know how Tash, but I think this might be her!” I was so happy! The lady gave us a carrier and I asked that he bring her to me so I can check! You might think the moral of this story if that God can find us even when we wonder far away… or He never stops trying to reach us etc… let us pump the breaks right there, my friends. While all that is true, this story takes a hard turn.
He pulled up and I bolted for the car, swung open the door, and saw that Brandon was beaming. He felt like a hero. The cat began to meow loudly, and before I even saw it, I said, “it’s not her voice”. He said she had been outside maybe she was hoarse -_- but eager to have my baby back I grew hopeful again. I opened the cage and let me tell you… she (or rather HE) might as well have been a yellow dog. It was so clear to me that this was NOT her. He had marking she didn’t have, the voice, the size, he was twice her size! The attitude was totally different, but Brandon, bless his guilty heart, tried to explain all that away. Her color faded in the sun, she ate different stuff, etc…
“Recipes for Rearing Children” by Pete and Frieda Cowling (Click on the image for more information.)
In his defense he genuinely did think that this was her, he sure wasn’t trying to just bring another cat home. The difference in why I knew Abishag and he didn’t was love. I had spent more time loving her, I was attached to her and he was not. He was fooled so easily by another animal because in his mind he couldn’t remember her face or her voice. He hadn’t spent the time with her that I had or took the time to notice these things about her.
There are many verses in the Bible where folks were in the presence of Jesus yet had no clue who he was. They’d been told for generations to look for the Messiah. They studied all about Him. Some had even Him before, like when his disciples didn’t recognize Him. You can’t always recognize someone you haven’t spent time with, heard their voice, someone you haven’t studied their face, or grown to love. I want to be so familiar with Jesus that I can’t help but notice Him everywhere and in everything. I want to feel His presence but that only comes with the effort of getting acquainted with Him and learning of Him. I want to know HIM. So, I challenge you, would you recognize Him? Would someone be able to pass off a phony to you? This was convicting to me, and I hope it encourages you, like me, to want to know Him all the more!
Longer story short, We eventually found Abishag and had a joyous reunion. We laugh about it now that this animal was so clearly not ours and Brandon just so badly wanted to fix his mistake, he tried to shove this square peg through this round hole, so to speak. I joked that if one of our kids ever went missing, he’d bring home totally the wrong kid, LOL! God was faithful to answer my children’s prayers for their beloved pet (and mine!). God is good!
I have never taken a bath in a #2 tub! like the one pictured here. These were used as bath tubs (and for other purposes) back in the days when the only running water was, “somebody run to the pump or creek and git some water!” I’ve heard tell back in the days of #2 tubs that on Saturday night Daddy would take a bath first, then Momma would use the same water for her bath. Then the oldest kid (that would be me) would then use the same bath water. That same bath water was then used by every kid right down the line till it was the baby’s turn! Imagine how dirty and nasty the water and tub would be with the grime of 7 days from at least 3 people! Yucky! Yucky! This is where the phrase “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” came from. The water would be so dark you couldn’t see the baby in it!
“Invisible Hurts” by Loretta Walker $12.00 (Click on the image for more information.)
In Psalm 60:8 God says, “…Moab is my washpot”. The nation of Moab was made up of people who were descendants Moab, Lot’s son. Moab was the result of Lot’s incestuous relationship with one of his daughters. (Genesis 19:31-38) The Moabites were wicked, idolatrous, sin-loving heathens. I can’t imagine being the offspring of incest. The story of Lot and his daughters is probably my least favorite in the whole Bible. I even feel dirty as I write about it in this post. Yet, my Heavenly Father says, “Moab is MY washpot”. Moab is one of God’s possessions! Not a very pretty one but he belongs to God. God uses Moab as a washpot or bathtub. Psalm 60:8 arrested my attention recently. I began to think about Moab and how God might use a Moabite. Then I remembered that Ruth was a Moabitess. Her story is found in the book of Ruth and happens to be one of my favorites. She turned from her culture, religion, beliefs and home to follow her mother-in-law Naomi back to Israel! Ruth became the wife of Boaz and is one of the women recorded in the genealogy of Jesus! God used His #2 tub, Moab to produce a woman who is in the genealogy of His Son, Jesus Christ! She is also a picture of believers who make up the Bride of Christ. Boaz is a picture of Jesus redeeming us for Himself.
I wonder if Ruth was ashamed of her past. Shameful actions she did or were done to her. Shameful thoughts in her mind. Shameful words that came out of her mouth. I too have shame in my past. My shame is not the same as yours but mine is just as shameful to me as yours is to you. This is a beautiful truth and picture of how much God loves all of us. Background, heritage, culture, up-bringing, nationality, and religion matters not to God. If a sinner will turn to Jesus and trust Him for salvation from hell and receive the gift of eternal life, God can and will use that person for His purpose.
Creative Printing, a Christian Printing Company in California. (Click the image for more information.)
I know what I’m ashamed of in my life. Have you ever been ashamed of anything in your life? I often feel like God’s #2 tub when I think about my shameful actions, thoughts and words in my past and present life. When those thoughts arise, I can remember Ruth. She was called God’s washpot and if God can use her, He can use me and you too!
Let’s start with a very familiar verse in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” In this verse the word “study” means “to hasten to do a thing, to exert oneself, endeavor, give diligence.” Now back in Acts 17: 10&11 we see a wonderful example of a group of believers who gave diligence to God’s Word: “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” The word “search” here means to “examine, investigate, and inquire.”
I want to give you several ideas of how you can “exert yourself, be diligent, examine, investigate, and inquire” about the things of God in God’s Word. We are going to begin with Bible study can be as easy as looking up the number meanings and letter cross references in the center or side column of your Bible. Your first example is taken from my old Cambridge Bible, so it may not look exactly like the Bible you are using, but I believe it will be a benefit to you. If you look at Colossians 3:2, the Bible says, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Just in front of the word “affection” is the little number 1. Then over in the center column I have circled the number 1 and its meaning “mind.” The publishers of this Bible have already done a little bit of Bible study for you by providing this meaning. Do you see how this little help gives some further understanding of this verse? Now look down at 3:8 “But now ye also put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth:” Do you see the little “t” just before the word “put?” Then look over into the center column where I have circled the ”t” and an additional Bible reference. To the far left I have written that reference for you. “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” By taking the time look up this additional reference it gives us further understanding of what we were reading in Colossians 3, particularly the need to change our thinking about these things that we are to put off prior to adding the things God tells us to put on. Now your Bible may be set up differently, but I would encourage you to learn how to use the helps that come with your Bible.
Bible study can be as easy as reading your Bible through chronologically. If you are a person who likes a lot of order in your life, you will really love reading your Bible chronologically. It won’t bother you so much that you will come to scriptures that are repeating the same stories, because it will be all neatly laid out on a chronological time line. So your next example is a copy of a chronological Bible reading schedule.
Two for $20! Pick a book or CD and some jewelry for the special lady in your life! (Click on the image for more information.)
Bible study can be as easy as paying attention to the various kings who ruled each kingdom. Again if you are more of an orderly person you will really enjoy the next example I have given you on the kings. Before I used this little help, I was so confused especially when some of the kings in the northern kingdom had the same names as those in the southern kingdom or even when they just sounded similar. I literally referred to this example with each new introduction of another king, and I hope you too will find it helpful.
Bible study can be as easy as taking the time to look things up on a Bible map in the back of your Bible or a Bible atlas. Most of our Bibles do come with a map or a few maps, so I would encourage you to learn to refer to them for further understanding of what you are reading. Just look in the back of your Bibles and see if you have a map of the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. Do you see the river that is connecting them? The Jordon River runs through the Rift Valley, which runs along the eastern side of the state of Israel and runs all the way down to Lake Victoria in Africa. I was surprised to learn that the name Jordon River comes from a Hebrew word which means to descend, to go down, because it descends from Mt. Hermon which is 9000 feet above sea level to the Dead Sea which is almost 1400 feet below sea level, which makes it one of the faster flowing rivers for its size that exist. Now today the state of Israel has dammed it up for a water supply, but in Bible times it sure helps paint a picture of what those priests were stepping into as they trusted God to part the river.
Bible study can be as easy as purchasing an actual Bible study book where you will be guided as to what scriptures to read and then asked a series of questions to help you gain further insight of the various passages. My husband’s cousin Betty Henderson has written several Bible study books and she has sent a few of them to me. I then passed them on to others, because the whole fill in the blank idea did not appeal to me. But I was really interested in Debi Pryde’s Glimpses of God, so I thought I would go ahead and try it again. Would you believe that I couldn’t wait to get up each morning and work on the next section. So I would encourage those of you who are thinking, “I don’t want anything that reminds me of school” to just try it.
Each of these ideas take reading the Bible a step further as we EXERT ourselves to gain more understanding of what we are reading. Now let’s move on to Bible study can be as interesting as noting all the things God tells us the Word of God is to us in Psalm 119. It was really hard for me to decide which page of Psalm 119 to copy for you as an example, but just look at some of the things circled: vr. 70 do we delight in God’s Word, vr. 74 is our hope in God’s Word, vr. 76 is God’s Word our comfort, vr. 78 do we meditate on God’s Word? This chapter is both convicting and challenging as we look at our relationship to the Word of God.
“Selah” Devotional by Sharon Rabon (Click the image for more information.)
Bible study can be as interesting as noting all of the attributes of God in the book of Psalms and then meditating on them throughout the day. Your next example is taken from Psalms 61-63, and I learned this idea from the book What Do I Know about my God by Mardi Collier. As you see I have both circled and then written in the margin the various descriptions of what God is to me. Then I also wrote each verse on an index card and meditated on what I had learned about God throughout the day. We each come from various backgrounds, and my background is one of very little church attendance until I was old enough to drive. I am the oldest of 9. My mother had 4 of us in 5 years time while she worked full time outside the home and then suffered for several years with breast cancer until she passed away the first week of my senior year of high school. When you are a kid you don’t stop and think, “my mom works full time and she is trying to deal with 4 of us, who were born in 5 years time, 2 of which are special needs kids, so she just needs me to be the oldest and do what I’m suppose to do. You do think why doesn’t she love me like my younger siblings. The only time my mother ever said she loved me was in response to a statement I made to her when I said, “I don’t feel like you love me,” and she responded with “Well of course I love you.” Needless to say I spent my childhood and teen years trying to earn her love. I was a good kid, not a perfect kid, but a rule keeper, not a rule breaker. I just wanted her to value me and love me that way I observed her loving my younger siblings. After she died my father did come to me and tell me that he did not know why she was so hard on me, and it was helpful to know he at least noticed it. But I carried that mentality of earning love into my walk with God, and it was a glorious day when I finally understood that there is nothing I can do to make God love me anymore and there is nothing I can do to make God love me any less. If you will look at your example, it is nice if you had a parent who was a place of refuge for you, who provided a shelter for you, who was your defense, and who was your help; but whether you did or not, God is all of those and much more for you. If you struggle at all with a warped view of God, I would challenge you try this simple Bible study that was truly life changing for me.
Bible study can be as interesting as noting the attributes of God through the life of Christ in the Gospels and seeking to add these attributes to our lives to be Christlike. The character of God is seen in the life of Christ, so I challenge you as you read the Gospels to study the life of Christ. Pay attention to how He reacted to and treated those around Him and realize that He is exhibiting the very character of God.
Bible study can be as interesting as noting the various prayers in the Bible, so that we can pray Biblically. It is just my opinion, but I don’t think we can ever hear too much about Bible study, the filling of the Holy Spirit, and prayer, so when a friend of mine mentioned a study on the prayers in the Bible I knew it was something I wanted to do at some point. About a month ago I began this study and have found a great website that records not only the specific prayers in the Bible, but also any mention of prayer itself. That website is https:// www.hopefaithprayer.com/prayermew/222-prayers-of-the-bible.aspx.
Bible study can be as interesting as noting the descriptions of Love in 1 Corinthians 13, the various pieces of Armor in Ephesians 6, the things we are to put off and put on in Colossians 3 and Ephesians 4, the various fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5 and Ephesians 5, and on and on I could go.
Giving special attention to different passages, takes Bible reading to a more personal level as we diligently seek to apply the Word of God to our lives.
Now let’s go a step further and see how Bible study can be as rewarding as learning to use a concordance to look up a word or subject. Most Bibles come with a concordance in the back or you can purchase one just about anywhere i.e., Cruden’s, Young’s, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, etc. You can also get various Bible programs for your computer or smart device, many of which are free. I did not give you an example of a concordance, since most of you will have one in the back of your Bibles. Turn to the back of your Bibles and just check to see if you have one. A concordance is a great Bible study tool that will help you find other places in the Bible where a particular word is used for you to study. Since I woke up with facial paralysis I have often said that it is not good for me to spend too much time in front of the mirror. I have also said that I want to spend more time looking into the mirror of God’s Word to have the right thinking about what has happened to me. So one of the things I wanted to do was to look up the words beauty and beautiful and others along that line and do a Bible study on them. The first Bible study tool I used was a concordance to first find all of the verses using words about beauty that I was interested in studying.
Bible study can be as rewarding as learning to use a subject index, which many Bibles also contain. Your next example is from a subject index in the back of a Scofield Bible. If you were doing a Bible study on “Beauty” you may find this to be very helpful as it gives you scriptures on various subtopics of Beauty ie. beautiful women, the vanity of beauty, the danger of beauty, and some scriptures on how beauty consumes away. I don’t own a Scofield Bible, but if I did this probably would have been my second tool to use in my study on Beauty.
Bible study can be as rewarding as learning to use different Bible study tools such as Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Word, and the like. Your next example is from my Wilson’s and as you will see it is very easy to use because you simply look up the English word from the OT, and you will be given a list of scriptures (using Roman numerals). Then beside the reference containing the word you will be given a letter code that corresponds with its meaning. And your next example is from my Vine’s, which is bit more challenging, because you will need to know the Greek word for the English word you are interested in defining. However, your online Bible program may give you the Greek word as you click on the English word. I have and love my Interlinear Greek New Testament that has the Greek words written above the English words. I also find it very interesting to see the sentence structure of the Greek. After I choose all of the scriptures that I wanted to use containing the word beautiful and others like it, I then used these Bible study tools to learn the exact meanings in the various verses.
Bible study can be as rewarding as learning to use a good commentary. My counsellor recommends the King James Parallel Bible. A friend of mine compared it to the Liberty Bible Commentary and found it to be identical but less expensive. I have also done some comparison and they do seem to be identical. A commentary is really nice to check once you have looked up the meanings of various words, and sometimes you may still have some confusion after looking up the meaning of a word and a commentary can come in really handy. This was the last tool I consulted in preparing my Bible study on beauty.
And last but not least Bible study can be as rewarding as learning to use other Bible study helps such as What The Bible Is All About by Dr. Henrietta Mears, and others your pastor may recommend. Henrietta Mears book is a great little handbook giving you and overview of every book in the Bible.
When we get to the place in our Bible study where we begin to skillfully use various Bible study tools it turns ordinary Bible reading into an exciting expedition as we inquire, and examine, and investigate, and finally discover the riches found in God’s Word. Read your Bibles, but as you are reading don’t fail to stop and search out those things of interest to you. If you are on a Bible reading schedule, perhaps you want to read your Bible through in two or three years to give yourself the time needed to really discover what God has for you. My husband has often said, “It’s not how much Bible you read that makes you a good Christian; it’s how much Bible you live.” We can’t live it if we don’t really understand it. Study brings a greater understanding!
January of 1993 began for me, as it does for most of you, with plans and dreams and resolutions. This year would be even more exciting for us as we learned, much to our delight, that we were expecting a child. It would be our second pregnancy. The first had ended in miscarriage after eight weeks. We had been waiting for this pregnancy, and so, we excitedly told people and were making plans of how this little child would change our lives and specifically, my career. However, it wasn’t long before I began to have unusual symptoms and discomforting pain. After many trips to the doctor, weeks of bed rest and several ultrasounds, God again chose to take our child—at ten weeks.
How many times have you wondered what to say to someone who has recently lost a child? Specifically, I want to help you in knowing how to comfort a lady who loses a child through miscarriage or premature birth. However, you can apply these suggestions to any situation in which you are trying to be a comforter.
“Job’s Wife, the Untold Story of a Woman Caught in Life’s Adversity” by Ruth Ellen Zuber $10 (Click on the image for more information.)
FIRST, remember that losing a child during pregnancy is very different than losing a loved one of any age. The reason is, in part, that when you have a miscarriage, you are dealing with physical and emotional pain as well as hormonal changes. When a pregnancy terminates itself, it typically takes six weeks for the body and emotions to adjust to the fact that you are no longer expectant. God created such a marvelous system for carrying a child, and when a child is conceived, the body sets in motion the adjustments that will take place over a nine-month period. When a pregnancy doesn’t last nine months, all of those adjustments take place prematurely which causes emotions that are often out of control. I remember experiencing days of crying and being depressed and not being able to control how I felt. Understanding then that losing an unborn child is very different from any other loss should indicate that a very different means of comforting is needed from people who care about that mother.
SECONDLY, comfort in a safe way. Many times, we say things that hurt the very person we are trying to help. We have all heard it said that sometimes the best thing is to say nothing at all. But, how often do we not remember that
truth until we have blurted out some words that wound our friend. We often don’t realize how we are hurting people by trying to make light of their situation. People need to grieve over any loss. Don’t breeze over their grief; grieve with them. Here are some “wrong” statements people make, and the subsequent response felt by mothers who have lost a baby:
“There will be other children.” “That doesn’t make up for this one.”
“At least you were only ‘x’ number of weeks along.” “I’m just as pregnant at one week as 40 weeks.”
“You’re young; you can try again.” “It’s not supposed to hurt as much because I’m young?”
“Be thankful. Maybe that child would have been less than perfect.” “I would love that child in any condition. That was my baby.”
Some ways you can safely comfort:
Say you care. To comfort someone in a situation in which I have never been, I say, “I can’t say that I understand how you feel, but I can say, I care.”
Give a hug or a loving touch if you are a lady friend. Some of the best comforting I received was through a hug or a touch from someone who was choked up and couldn’t say a word.
Talk about the baby being in Heaven. An Assistant Pastor at First Baptist Church of Hammond, met my husband and me at the surgery facility just before I was taken in for surgery. He talked to us about their child in Heaven (who would be 11 years of age), our first child (who would be 5 years of age) and this infant child. Heaven is a reality. Don’t be afraid to talk about it as a real place.
Remember that grieving people are the same people they were before the tragedy came. Don’t treat them as if they have a plague. Later, many people would say, “I wanted to call but didn’t know how you would feel” or “I wanted to give you some space.” They need you now! Don’t stay away.
Send a note or card. A quick note to say you are thinking of them and praying for them is very welcomed.
Prepare meals for the family so the family can rest.
Offer to clean the house or do laundry. This is especially helpful if there will be guests in and out.
Be silent. One of my dearest friends spend many, many hours at my house in total silence. I was glad she was there and even more glad that she was wise enough to know I needed her presence but wasn’t ready to talk.
“Decorating Your Home Creatively and Inexpensively” by Frieda Cowling (Click on the image for more information.)
Comforting is a skill. Learn from people who do it well. There are things to say and things not to say in any situation. However, if you find yourself not knowing what to do, don’t stay away, go to the person if all you do is give them a hug and say, “I love you.”
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” III John 4
Since becoming a parent, I have occasionally reflected on the mother of Judas Iscariot, whose son betrayed Jesus for thirty paltry pieces of silver. Especially since nothing is told of this lady in the Bible, I could never begin to judge her as a parent—nor do I wish to do such.
After all, it is not unusual for two children from the same family to go in two completely different directions. Though they had the same parents and the same basic upbringing, somewhere along the way each of those children came to a point where, for whatever reasons, they made certain choices regarding the course their lives would take. I am familiar with the hurt a wayward child causes a parent as is indicated in Proverbs 10:1b which says, “a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.” I caused my own mother some heaviness of heart when, for a time, I ran with the wrong crowd. Possibly knowing that my backsliding was a result of my choosing to go against the principles my parents had taught me has helped me to not judge others who have unspiritual or backslidden children.
“The Monarch of Bibles” Practical Biblical Study by Richard Tudor $6.99 (Click the image for more information.)
My purpose in referring to Judas’ mother is not to judge her. Rather, I want to pose a question to those of us who are still in the process of rearing our children: Did Judas’ mother have many regrets? If, in years to come, we have to watch our children flounder away from God, it certainly seems it would be a help to know that we had done all we knew to do at the time we were rearing them.
Quite possibly Judas’ mother was what we would consider the ideal mother. On the other hand, possibly her attitudes of life were the primary factor in setting the course for this young man’s miserable existence.
Did Judas’ mother do her best in rearing her son? Did she study the Scripture looking for principles of child rearing, or did she go along with what-ever happened to be the accepted child-rearing trends of the world in her day?
Did she not only in word, but also by her example, try to teach Judas to live for that which is eternal, or was she more concerned about his sharp clothes and whether he was popular and well-liked by his teachers and friends?
Did she quietly pray for God to direct his steps as she worked with his teachers and other leaders to help him become a person of character, or did she routinely manipulate and scheme to help him be in the spotlight performing for others, wanting him to be chosen as the lead character in the class play?
“Recipes for Rearing Children” by Pete and Frieda Cowling $12 (Click on the image for more information.)
Did she care more about his integrity and attempt to train him to be a man of decency, or did she cover for his sins, mistakes and wrong behavior in order to impress other people?
Did Judas’ mother administer Scriptural discipline as needed, or was she afraid of what others would think if she spanked him? Did she realize the seriousness of his offenses and disobedience when he was in his formative years, or did she smile at his antics, thinking his behavior was “cute” and simply part of his being “all boy”?
As a mother I ask myself, am I more interested in Carissa’s character, her spiritual development and her heart condition, or am I, by the things I say and do, teaching her to live for material things and be more concerned with how she looks before others than what God already knows her to be?
May we all determine to do our best to train our children according to Biblical principles and trust God to work in their lives as we consistently pray for, unconditionally love, and diligently train the children God has given us to rear for Him.
She slowly walked around on the window, searching for a way out. (I knew it was a “she” because it was a ladybug!) She was trapped inside the house where she didn’t want to be— yet she could see the trees and plants where she longed to be. This caused her to get very frustrated and aggravated. It looked so easy to get where she wanted to go, but she couldn’t break through the barrier. She would pace a little and then fly, banging herself against the glass, then pace, then bang, then pace, then bang. I watched this cycle go on over and over and over.
“Possessing Peace” Bible Study by Loretta Walker (Click on the image for more information.)
After a time, it seemed to me she just gave up. She stood motionless on the window for more than ten minutes. (This in bug time is ten years! Just kidding, I think it’s only seven years!) She didn’t move, she didn’t crawl, and she didn’t fly or bang against the window anymore. She gave up trying to get out of her predicament using just her own strength and her own ways. Maybe she just realized that she couldn’t do it on her own.
It was then that I reached out with my big hand to grab her to take her outside, but it seemed as if when I reached my hand out to her, she jumped into it. I carried her out of one room and into another with her just sitting there on my hand not trying to fly away. I walked through the door and outside, and then lifted my hand to the sky. She just sat there for a while as if she didn’t want to leave. Then slowly her wings fluttered, spread out, and off she went.
I have been where she was. I have been in a situation where I didn’t know how I got there, didn’t know how to handle it, and tried desperately with everything in me to get out of it, and I couldn’t. I felt like I was banging my head against the wall.
“Pause” Devotional by Sharon Rabon (Click on the image for more information.)
Then I finally realized, as did the ladybug, that I couldn’t figure a way out of the situation I was in all by myself. I needed to stop trying on my own and let Somebody bigger and stronger than I reach out His hand to carry me and show me the way. And you know, it’s kinda’ strange, but I didn’t want to leave His hand either.
The Lord opened the door for me to become involved in missions full-time in 2006. Prior to that, however, I remember as a teenager responding to an invitation at church. I didn’t know how to articulate what was going on in my heart, so when my pastor’s wife asked why I had come forward, I told her I wasn’t sure, but that I didn’t want to grow up, get married, have 2.5 kids, and live in a corner house with a white picket fence – all the things that described the average American life at that time. While in nursing school my church had its first mission conference, and I learned to start giving to missions. In Bible college, one of my best friends was a missionary kid, and I never tired of hearing her stories from the countries where she had been raised. Whenever I heard missionaries give their presentation I was in tears because I was distressed for those without the hope of Jesus Christ and without His Word in their language. I believe now that the Holy Spirit was using all these things to direct me toward missions.
“Invisible Hurts” by Loretta Walker $12.00 (Click on the image for more information.)
Foolishly on my part, there were several years when I was very backslidden, but the Lord is merciful and faithful, and I responded as He drew me back to Himself. By that time, however, I figured I was no longer a suitable candidate for missions. Still, I was heart broken with every mission presentation. Then one day a friend loaned me a preaching tape by Missionary Mark Sigstad. I could hardly believe my ears, but he was saying that a person could volunteer to be a missionary. Immediately I called my pastor and discussed this option with him. His response was that we could go in that direction as long as the Lord kept the doors open. Sunday, August 12, 2006, I went forward in a church service to publicly volunteer as a missionary. The Lord has kept the doors open all these years!
I think it is human nature to plan out our futures, and I was no exception to this in regard to how I ‘scripted’ my life as a missionary. I had read plenty of missionary biographies, and the ones I liked most were the ones where the single lady went to some remote area of the world and served faithfully until she died, reaping a harvest of souls along the way. In my mind, the best missionary was the one that led hundreds to Christ, discipled them all and then died on the mission field. Not exactly realistic, but nevertheless, it’s how I envisioned my future life as a missionary. But God didn’t follow my script!
In two years I raised my support to live in West Africa and participate in an already established medical ministry. I was going to a francophone country, so I attended language school in France to learn French. Truly, it was one of the hardest years of my life, so I was devastated when just weeks before graduation I found out that the country to which I was going was in civil war and many missionaries were leaving. A few months later I found out that the government had taken over the clinic where the ministry was based, and there was no longer a medical ministry. I was so worked up that I was literally pacing the floor and wringing my hands with a hundred thoughts going through my head. What am I going to do? What do I tell my supporting churches? Has all this been a waste of time and money? I know the Bible says that God speaks in a still, small voice, but that day the Holy Spirit had to shout above the din of uncontrolled thoughts screaming doubt and unbelief. I remember His voice penetrating through my agitation and confusion – ‘Lean not unto thine own understanding!’
“Selah” Devotional by Sharon Rabon (Click the image for more information.)
It took several months of prayer and counsel, and I consider the work that the Lord did in my heart during that time as very precious, but I eventually became aware of a ministry that took teams of medical volunteers to other countries on short-term mission trips to help church planting missionaries in their outreach. There were several things about this ministry that appealed to me, but my biggest hesitation was that I would not be ‘the one’. By ‘the one’ I mean that I wanted to be the one to lead people to Christ. But in this ministry the members of the church with whom we were partnering were the ones witnessing to the patients as they came through the clinic. It only makes sense that the gospel be shared in a person’s native tongue when possible, not via an interpreter, but I had a hard time accepting that my position wasn’t that coveted one of leading someone to Christ. Again, the Lord had an answer for me, found in an African proverb given to another medical missionary decades ago who struggled with the same concern. When this doctor talked to the chief in the village where she was serving, the chief said, ’We can’t all be the last link in the chain.’ Very simply, he was saying that it takes many laborers to lead a soul to Christ, and the person who leads someone in prayer for salvation is not the only link, nor the most important, though we often give them the most glory. Paul teaches the same concept in I Corinthians 3:4-9. We are laborers together with God, but God gives the increase. Once I surrendered to being a link in the chain of bringing someone to Christ, and not solely the last link, it wasn’t hard to accept that God had a different script for my life than I did. His script has turned out so much more than anything I could have dreamed!
I attend a church that has its services streamed live online. That creates a choice whether to go or not go. But for me, having been raised in church and a Christian school, and having attended a Christian college, it’s not about if I need to learn more basic doctrine. It’s not about whether or not I can learn as much from a sermon from my sofa. I believe the Holy Spirit can speak to me anywhere (He lives inside me). I also have the ability to return my tithe and give offerings via text. I dead-sure need to worship the Lord, pray, and read my Bible everyday of the week! BUT church is so much more!
(Click the image for more information.)
A big part of attending a service is what I can do for others while I am there. I teach Sunday school, but that is not the ministry of which I’m speaking. It is the ministry we all have– walking to my seat, looking for that person who may feel awkward, alone, sad, grieving, new, unsure….there is the chance for ministry. Who needs a smile and a greeting? Who needs a seat near me so they don’t have to sit alone? Who needs me to see them, so I can create a plan and tell my kids to shake their hand during that part of the service? Who needs to be encouraged by seeing me being faithful during a difficult time in my own life? Who needs me to share the Gospel with them one-on-one? Attending church creates all these opportunities. It is a place to train my children to live for others, to pay attention to authority (whoever is leading each part of the service) and follow along as a team member. It creates so many teaching moments of how to interact with people. We would pay for these social graces to be taught to our children, but church provides these opportunities for free! It is not about how often we MUST attend to be within the laws of the Bible. Scripture tells us to meet together, but does not define a specific number of times. (It does say we are to meet together and encourage each other more and more often as we prepare for Christ’s return–Hebrew 10:25). But my church attendance is so much more! My church offers first-class music specials and orchestra specials. I would pay to go hear quality music or to download it on my phone. I get it free at church. I appreciate the time the musicians put into practice. I appreciate the time my pastor puts into preparing a message.
(Click on the image for more information.)
My attendance shows my gratitude. (Pastors and their wives carry many burdens for others. My attendance as well as my smiling face and attentiveness during the message encourage my pastor and pastor’s wife, both of whom pray for me and my family.) I am not “sinning” by staying home or missing services….I am just missing out on so much. How often should I attend? May I ask, in what church has God led me (or you) to be a member? How often do they meet together? That’s how often God would like me there when I am in town. If they don’t plan to meet, we won’t meet. Staying home makes it about ME. Attending makes it about those around me. I can use a lot more of that mentality in my life, and so can my kids.
Last month I discussed how to handle the arrival of a new baby. As the newcomer grows older, make family policies. The following are some of our family policies that have helped our children.
Never allow one child to take a toy from another—not even if the one doing the taking is a toddler. When our youngest son Joe was a toddler, he took a gun from K.W. I took the gun from Joe and explained to both that this was not allowed. I told Joe if he wanted his older brother to love him, then he would have to be kind.
Children must ask each other for toys rather than snatch them away from the other sibling. For the one child to surrender the wanted toy is the only way for the other one to receive it. I have to help with this surrender.
Unkind words to each other are never permitted. Perhaps K.W. makes a statement such as, “I wish you would have never been born.” I try to teach K.W. that if he wants Joe to love his big brother, he must not say unkind things to him.
After a statement like this is made, the parent should allow the older sibling to explain his frustrations. Be encouraged if he will share his feelings with you. As the parent, you must be aware of any antagonistic behavior on the part of the toddler. As the adult, I can help alleviate these situations.
Teasing is permitted in moderation and only if done properly. Older siblings should not be allowed to pick at the younger sibling until he is upset. For instance, an older child often teases a toddler by running after him and saying, “I’m gonna get you.” This teasing can get old fast. An older child hiding toys from the toddler just to see him scream in frustration is not permitted.
The younger is not permitted to hit the older brother or sister just because he is upset. It’s important that the older child sees the younger reprimanded for bad behavior. The younger may not be old enough to spank for hitting or pulling hair, but stopping the action and verbally saying “no” will be a comfort to the older children.
Having policies like these and others will help you know what to do when situations arise. Too many times we decide what is to be done while the children are screaming at each other. We could be unfair toward the older in favor of the younger just to keep peace. The goal is not to keep peace; the goal is to teach the children to love each other enough to work out the problems in the relationships.