Monday, June 18, 2018

My Most Potent Weapon Against Fear

Recently I was in church feeling all the feelings. If one more person said, "How are you handling this?" I was going to dissolve into a puddle of snot and tears.  My oldest graduated from High School that Saturday and all the love and attention I was getting was only making it worse.

I didn't even know why I was so upset.

But sitting there praying as the communion trays were passed I suddenly understood.

I was afraid. Afraid of time passing, of things changing, and losing the close relationship we've shared. I wanted to pretend it was all sadness, but in that moment of communion I knew the truth.  I was afraid.

It's not the first time (or the second) I've faced fear.  Or re-learned the hard lesson about trusting God with my unknowns.

Fear is my enemy.  Caution can be a wise friend but fear is a thief.  It steals today's happiness to be replaced with tomorrow's worries.  How can we fight this enemy?  What is my most potent weapon against that fear?

Swing over to Jerushaagen.com and find out!  I have a compete guest post there and I am excited to share with you how I fight fear!


Sunday, June 3, 2018

Competency: What it takes to raise a Proverbs 31 girl

If you could sum the Proverbs 31 lady up in one word what would it be?  

Competent: A real Proverbs 31 womanMy daughter drew a series of illustrations to sum her up.  There was one of her sewing with a sewing machine - a bit anachronistic but I got the idea and one of her selling the clothes she made.  There were pictures of her cooking, giving instructions, and one with her own child.

Her illustrations matched the one word in my mind.  Competent.

That lady could do stuff!  In fact, if we start considering the women of God one by one we’ll come up with lots of competent ladies.  Wise ladies (Deborah), warrior ladies (Jael), hostesses (Junia, Lydia and the mother of John Mark) poets (Hannah), dancers (Miriam), hard workers (Ruth), brave women (the auntie), and women who were steeped in the word (Huldah, Anna, Priscilla).

Competence is greatly undervalued in women.  Our culture values brashness, beauty, silliness, and ambition.  Our churches value social skill, and the roles of a wife and mother.  But when is the last time you heard someone say, “Mrs. Michelson! That lady can speak three languages and she is always down at the ESL center helping out!  How godly.” Or “Don’t you love how Mrs. Jones and her daughters spend a week each summer working with Habitats for Humanity?”

We love to encourage our girls.  We bandy about words like self-esteem and growth mindset thinking if we apply enough praise of the right type at the right moment, we’ll have strong and godly girls.  But let me suggest a different path.

Let’s teach our girls to do stuff.  And then to use their skills to honor the Lord.  Let’s teach them to clean and cook and sew and craft. Let’s teach them to garden, camp, blog and refinish upholstery.  Let’s let them go to language camp, teach them sign language, and learn a martial art.

And above all else let’s teach our girl's Bible.

When I started at Harding University they were starting a new major: “Vocational Ministry.”  It was a second major and had to be paired with a non-Bible major. The purpose was to provide Bible major level study to future deacons, elders, and vocational ministers.  But also to future Sunday School teachers, mothers and wives. I jumped at the chance. And although I didn’t have all the same classes, I got much the same education as my Bible major husband.  

The things I learned to this day effect my study, my writing, my ministry, my life.  That BIble education was priceless. I promise my teacher’s time wasn’t wasted because I am not a preacher.

Our girls need to learn Bible.  We must not for a moment imagine that their purview is simply the verses on “women’s role.”  Or the Proverbs 31 lady we mentioned before. Our girls need to memorize the books of the Bible, recite verses, memorize outlines, and learn what exegesis means.  They need wise mentors who can disciple them into strong, practical, competent followers of Jesus. And they need to start now. 4 is not too young and 12 is not too late. (Subscribe here and get a semester of free theology curriculum for tweens!)

When we look backwards to see how we want our girls to be, we are often painfully short sighted.  We look back to some idyllic and imaginary time when women all stayed home, rocked babies and waited quietly for their men to come home.  Not only is that image all wrong (those women were more than competent in their own sphere) but it simply doesn’t look back far enough. The women of the Bible were neither fainting violets, simpering idiots, nor brainless chatter boxes.  They were judges, evangelists, business women, hard workers, women of powerful wisdom.

May each one of us be about the business of teaching our girls to be the same.



Sunday, May 13, 2018

Summer Devotional Series-Rainbows


Ever had a tough Sunday morning? Or like me is EVERY Sunday morning a tough one?  Could you use a little help getting your mind focused on God instead of on finding "church clothes," locating that missing shoe, or taming the kids' hair?  I have just the thing.  Every Sunday morning this summer before your first cup of coffee I will send you a short devotional (just like the one you're about to read).  Each one takes about 5 minutes to read, includes two scriptures and some practical thoughts.  Each one is designed to help you get ready to worship the Lord.  Want to join us?  Subscribe here!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Another Summer of Devotionals

This morning on my Facebook memories there was a quote from my then 12 old daughter over morning devotionals.


Me: Why do we fold our hands when we pray?
Daughter: Because the grown-ups don’t want us to do anything naughty while their eyes are closed.
Me: (Crickets chirp in the stunned silence)


I laughed, hit the share button, and remembered that summer is almost here and it's time that we start summer devos again.  


We’ve been doing this every summer since my younger daughter was four (read about our faltering start).  It’s more than just a habit, it’s a pleasure. When school is in, we study Bible as an academic subject, but when school is out, it would be easy for Bible study to fall behind.  


This summer my girls will turn 10 and 17.  And every morning, as soon as breakfast is over, even before we clear the plates and do the dishes, we recite whatever verses we are working on memorizing, read a short passage of scripture together and talk about what comes up.  Our school year Bible study focuses on learning; our summers focus on becoming.


We’ve done Daniel and worked through Colossians (both of which are available to you free online Daniel / Colossians).  This summer we are focusing on what it means to be a woman of God. We’ll be looking at Deborah, Hannah, Jael, Miriam, Huldah, Ruth and Esther.  Then turning to the New Testament we will talk about Mary, Mary and Martha, Mary Magdalene, Lydia, Phoebe, and Priscilla.


This isn’t spiritually easy ground.  We’ll discuss the ethics of violence in Jael’s story and our own ethics as we progress in Tae Keon Do.  We’ll work on when it is right to lead and when we should submit with Deborah, Huldah, and Miriam. We’ll talk about courage from the perspective of Mary and Mary Magdalene.  And what it means to be both a female evangelist with Priscilla’s story. We’ll talk about loyalty, God’s and ours with Ruth and Esther. And we are going to learn about prayer, poetry and “reversal of fortune” with Hannah and Mary.  I hope to share some insights with you as we go along.


It’s going to be a wonderful summer.  This is my last full summer to have my eldest home.  Soon after her 17th birthday, she’ll head off to the University of Wyoming.  But for these last precious days, the three of us girls will take that 10 minutes in the morning to have devotionals.  Take the chance to listen to my girls, to hear their hearts and know their minds. To recite God’s word with them and think about His story together.  Time goes so fast and for us summer devos are priceless.
For Kids Healthy Food=Healthy Body Healthy Bible Study=Healthy Soul Free Bible Curriculum for you and your tween


If you are looking for Bible study material for your own kids, you are welcome to use our online material on Daniel or Colossians or we have an entire semester's worth of FREE curriculum just for our subscribers!  Subscribe here!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Coffee on a Mission: Epic Coffee Video Review


Last week I promised I'd get you a proper video review of the bag of Epic Coffee Justin sent to my husband and I in exchange for an honest review.  It's a three part review and I'll post one here each week as they come out!  Be sure and read the whole interview with Justin if you haven't already.  And after you watch the video be sure and grab a bag or two of the coffee for yourself.


Video 1


                                        







Video 2


Monday, April 16, 2018

Missions and Coffee: It's Epic

Why this interview?  Why Epic Coffee and Justin Hopkins? I love a good cup of coffee.  I have a heart for missions.   I know that THE most effective ministers are ministers who are bring the Word and the Spirit into their own language and culture. So when I ran across Justin on a Christian bloggers board I am a part of, his story flipped all the switches!  I'll let you tell you more in his own words.  (By the way This post contains affiliate links.  Your price is the same when you click through our link.  But MaidservantsOfChrist does earn a small commission on your purchases.)


Hi, Justin. Welcome to Maidservants Of Christ.  Tell us something about yourself. Where are you from? Married? Family? Where did you grow up? What's your educational background?  What do you do for fun?

How Do You Like Your Coffee?  Epic Coffee- Missional, Fair Trade, Batch Roasted CoffeeThank you. It’s a privilege to be here. I grew up in Austin, TX, and my life has been graced by my amazing wife, Leah Hopkins. We have three sons, from thirteen to seven years of age. I am a graduate of the Southwest School of Bible Studies, hold a B.S. in Human Development from Amridge University, and a graduate diploma in Christian Education from Southwest Graduate School of Bible. I enjoy spending time with my family, and of late have been doing a lot of camping and hiking with the boys.

Ministry, missions, small business and coffee--that seems like a counter-intuitive combination. What led you to this unique combination? What inspired you to roast coffee to help support yourself? When did you go into business? What services do you offer? What kind of ministry do you do? Tell us something about your congregation. What's your favorite part of your job(s)?

That’s a great question. I’ve wanted to preach since I can remember. I think a lot of that had to do with growing up at the Southwest congregation, and spending time with the preaching students and their kids. After graduating from SWSBS myself, we went into local work. Currently, I’m preaching for the church in Itasca, TX. It’s a small congregation, but they’ve got a big heart, and are determined to make an impact in the community. Our other work is under the oversight of the elders at Granbury St. in Cleburne, TX.

From local work, we transitioned into a supported ministry creating Bible class curriculum, and study resources. That all started when my wife wrote her first book, which is a study of purity for teenage girls. Even though I’m not a teenage girl, I highly recommend it. Since then we have been privileged to publish a number of great books and study tools. We spend A LOT of time working on curriculum. We have a one-year Bible survey that will be finished up later this year, Lord willing. Also, I provide teacher’s workshops and evangelism seminars for congregations here in the States. My next Teacher’s Workshop will be Saturday, May 12, at the Fort Sam Houston congregation in San Antonio. You can check out what we’re doing at https://Azimuth.Media 

The coffee came next, I guess. It started as a hobby about two years ago, and just kinda grew. Now it has reached the point where it is beginning to help some with our support, and I really enjoy it. Over the years I’ve gotten to know Gage Coldwater and the Manna Project and have been impressed with the great things he is doing overseas. Somehow or another the topic of coffee came up. One of the things that Brother Coldwater has been doing is helping preachers become self-supporting through agriculture. He’s been working with brethren in a few coffee growing regions, and they aren’t really getting a fair price for their coffee right now. I just couldn’t let go of the idea of getting my coffee directly from our brethren and helping them spread the Gospel in their own communities. So, that is what we are focusing on doing.  

Tell us about the coffee part of your business!  What is your favorite thing you sell for your own morning cup of joe? How do you source the beans? How was your coffee different than what I get in the supermarket? How long does it take to roast the coffee? Describe the process? How long does it take from end to end? What would you improve about your process if you could?  

My favorite coffee? That’s a hard one. Each coffee has a unique flavor profile that is affected by the soil, altitude, rainfall, and other environmental factors, as well as how it was harvested, and how the coffee beans were extracted from the cherries and prepared for shipping. One big thing I have noticed is that most people have been conditioned to prefer a dark roast. However, the darker roasts actually have a lower caffeine content. Also, the darker roasts tend to bury the unique flavors of each coffee, making everything taste more like the roasting process than anything else. So, I prefer lighter roasts, which allow me to enjoy each coffee for what it is. It is truly amazing how different two different coffees can taste, even when they come from the same region. Right now, I’m drinking our coffee from Narino, Colombia

I am contacted periodically by different importers, wanting me to try this, that, or the other coffee that they have in stock, and occasionally they’ll send something that’s exceptional and I’ll bring it in. Usually, though I work through direct-trade relationships to select the coffees I want, and to make sure the farmers are treated fairly. I’m very excited about our growing relationship with the Manna Project, and I’m looking forward to supplying coffee directly from Christians to Christians soon. This summer while I am in Uganda teaching in the preaching school there, I am planning to meet with some of our brethren there that raise coffee and work on moving that relationship forward in a way that will help them out. 

The actual roasting process doesn’t take that long. I am using a roaster that I had custom built because, well, nothing like it existed. I build a natural fire using Texas Oak and Pecan and crank up the heat to around 450 degrees. After my stainless-steel drum is preheated, I load it with green coffee, and start roasting. It takes about 8-12 minutes for the coffee to be roasted. After that it’s got to be cooled off quickly to keep it from turning into charcoal. To do that, I’m using a custom-built cooling tower, that uses dry, HEPA-filtered air to cool the beans. After that, it’s into heat-sealed bags to lock in the freshness. I’m pretty happy with my process right now. As far as I know, I’m the only roaster doing anything like it, and it gives a subtle, mellow flavor to my coffees.

Missions: Money from your sales goes to missions, a cause near to my heart. How do you choose the mission to go to? Can you tell us the details of one of those missions?  Have you been a missionary yourself? 

A portion of each sale is donated to the Manna Project. I’ve selected that work for a couple of reasons. 

1. They are working with brethren that are growing coffee and helping them to support their families (without American money) while preaching the Gospel. 

2. It is through them that I am getting connected with these brethren and forming relationships that will hopefully help them find more financial security while growing my business. 

The Manna Project is overseen by the church in Vidor, Texas, and is the only thing of its kind that I know of. These brethren are making inroads into mission points that are further off the beaten path, and are experiencing explosive growth, often converting entire churches to the true Gospel. Then, they help the brethren in these areas grow spiritually, and train preachers there to go out into the surrounding villages. They are working as partners, not as benefactors, which really empowers those brethren to do great things on their own. In several places the local brethren are now sending out missionaries themselves.

I have not yet been blessed to teach the Gospel outside of the United States, but I am excited to be going this summer to Uganda. I’m still raising the last of my support for that trip. While I’m there I am going to be teaching in the preaching school at Kasese, hopefully helping with some local work, and also meeting several preachers who are growing coffee so that we can talk about how to make their crop more profitable, and figure out an economical way to buy directly from them.

Did your work as a small business owner or coffee roaster teach you any spiritual lessons you’d like to share?

Running a small business is full of spiritual lessons and opportunities for growth. One thing that I have really appreciated about it, is that it has opened doors for evangelism that are often closed to “the preacher.” When I introduce myself as a coffee roaster, conversations start (usually over a cup of coffee), and folks are often more receptive to studying the Bible with me than they would be if I was “the preacher.” It has reminded me that some of our most effective evangelists, and some of the greatest opportunities to share the Gospel come with a job and a paycheck.

If you aren’t drinking your own coffee, what’s your favorite?  Do you brew at home or go out?  What’s your brewing method?  Drip, french press, percolator?  Do you drink it black? If not what are your add-ins?

When I’m not drinking my own coffee, I try to seek out the local stuff. The big franchises and national brands, probably as a product of their wild growth, often loose touch with the nuances that make coffee exceptional. A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across a local shop in Forth Worth called Sons of Liberty. I had a great chat with the Barista, who was serving up Onyx coffee out of Arkansas. It was a solid cup that I’d gladly go back for.
Where Does Your Coffee Come From?  Small-batch roasted, fair trade, missional coffee
I’m always brewing at home. If I happen to be out and about, I’ll grab a cup from a local shop, but that adds up if it’s a regular thing. My go-to method of brewing is the Chemex or the Hario V-60 pour over. It’s a clean cup of coffee with great body. If I’m in the mood for something a little bolder, or maybe quicker, I’ll grab a French press. Almost always I drink it black. That’s the best way to enjoy the flavor and body unique to the farm, processing method, and roast that the coffee brings with it.

In the afternoons lately, I’ve been reaching for the cold brew. For desert coffees sometimes I’ll go with Turkish coffee, CafĂ© Olla (a Mexican recipe), or a latte. 

What has the reaction been in your community/church to the fact that you are partially self-supporting?

I think folks have received it very well. Of course, at this point I’m still a long way from being self-supported, but it’s a goal. I almost never meet somebody who doesn’t want to talk about coffee, and that can open doors. I think that tent-making preachers may become more common place as time goes on. That is a two-edged sword. You become acutely aware of the increased demands on your time. It’s a balancing act. I’m probably more self-conscious and worrying about making sure that I give the Lord’s work its proper time, because I’m acutely aware of the sacrifices and trust of those amazing brethren who support me with their prayers and their funds. 

What do you love about being a minster? What’s not your favorite?

Several years ago I heard an older preacher say that the work of the Gospel is the only permanent cause. I love the idea that I can make a difference in people’s lives that will last into Eternity. I love seeing the lightbulb go off when somebody sees the simplicity of the Gospel for the first time. I love the look of excitement and peace when they come up out of the water. I love sharing that with other brethren who catch the fire. 

The downside is the haunting memory of those souls who turned away. Those that I couldn’t reach. I always wonder. Could I have said or done something different? Did I try hard enough? Was I Christ-like in all my dealings with them? All we can do is sow the seed, and trust it to grow, but it still hurts to see someone walk away from the truth.

See what I mean?  I'd love for you to go grab a bag or two of the coffee for yourself.  I'll be posting a review of the bag that Justin sent my husband and I to try soon!  Ready to find out more?  You can catch a video about Epic Coffee here. 



Catch me linking up at any of these fine places: Mommy-MomentsSpiritual Sundays, Inspire Me MondayHolly GerthThe Mom GeneGood Morning Monday,  The Modest Mom BlogMoments of HopeGod-sized DreamsGlimpsesBreakthrough Homeschooling,Be Thee Inspired, Facebook.com/groups/saltandlightgroup



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We are also an affiliate of Epic Coffee.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

9 Tips for an Amazing Ladies' Day

Ladies' lectureship, a Ladies' Day, a retreat, a Ladies' night out-whatever you call it, planning and executing these kinds of events is hard! Last time we dealt with topics, themes, speakers and decor. This time I gathered the collective experience of wise women from my email list and the minister's wives I knew. And I compiled all kinds of great tips to share with you!  


How to Rock Your Ladies' Day: Maidservantsofchrist1. Put God First: This seems obvious, but in fact it is an important and subtle principle. Consider this question: 

We are thinking about having a women’s ministry event. What should we do first?  

a) Brainstorm
b) Form a committee
c) Do an internet search
d) Pray

All the answers are good, but let’s pray first.  Let’s think about the message we want to be brought from the Word of God before a cute theme.  The spiritual food before the breakfast tea.  Lifting our voices as sisters in worship before we count the number of people who came.  All our planning will be better if we START with God. 

Kelli Hughett suggests one of the ways to this is "have a devotional for the women involved the night before to focus on Jesus before the big day."

2. Don't underestimate your audience.  Provide the women with solid lessons.  Michelle Braun Bolen said, "I personally, am not a fan of Ladies' Day "fluff."  For myself and others, we like "meat" for deep lessons straight out of scripture. Lessons can be kinda "feel goodie" or "too girlie." I want "meat"- deep contextual study."  Choosing the right speaker, theme and tone contributes to a time of real study. 

Also don't underestimate women's willingness to participate.  Another lady said that in her congregation little girls are invited up to lead singing and it's the highlight of everyone's day (and a great moment when hostesses can escape for a moment to finish lunch!).

3. Choose a speaker carefully: Start looking well in advance-many well known speakers only take a limited number of speaking appointments every year.  Think about geographical limitations- wherever you live in the United States there are speakers within a few hours of your congregation.  (Check out both speaker recommendations and a link to an extensive list of speakers here)

Finding a quality speaker with open dates is an issue I saw frequently addressed.  Dene Ward from Flight Paths said, "Finding speakers with open dates seems to be a big problem, and those capable of offering more than the average women could bring on her own." Mrs. Hughett said, "Pay a speaker well for her time.  Fly in the best you can get for your budget.  We value what we pay for."


4. Open up: Although it is easier to plan for two thirty-minute lessons, allowing time for ladies to ask questions and interact with each other and the speaker can improve your Ladies' Day.  

Dene Ward from "Flight Paths" says, "One place had me open myself up to a question and answer period after the talk.  It was a little scary for me because you never know what someone will say or ask, but I think it helped the audience to relate to me better and thus to accept my words easier.  Afterwards, there were even people who approached me one on one, and I don't think they would have if not for that session." 

Similiarly, don't be afraid of breakout sessions. When I asked for feedback, lots of women said these were their favorites.  Not only was it participatory, but making new friends and connections and sharing the hearts of other Christian women is amazing.  The silly games did not get nearly so good a review!

5.Think about budgets:  Ladies days are often inexpensive or even free for attendees, but most retreats have a charge.  Please think carefully about ways that you can include and not shame sisters with less generous budgets.  I have heard (again from Mrs. Ward) about places that offer “scholarships” for those who can’t afford to attend.  In the past, my church has subsidized things we decided to do as a group to make them more affordable or simply announced the cost and said that anyone who needed help to participate could speak to the elders privately.  On the other side, a generous person might be willing to help defray some of the cost ahead of time.

6. Don’t be defeated by the “committee.”  My dad says, “If you trust a man to do a job, trust him to do it right.”  In other words committees and micromanagement are the death of any good work.  Let me suggest meeting together, have someone take notes, and then compile a list of each person's responsibilites and then meet in a few weeks to discuss any problems that were met.  If everyone (or anyone) has to ok every detail, the process will get bogged down. 

7. Advertising:  Get the word out!  And be creative.  Your local paper (online or traditional)  may be willing to do a story on the event.  You can send invitations through the mail to every congregation in an hour’s drive.  Get on Facebook and make an event so it is easy for members to invite friends.  Have someone in your congregation design a Facebook Ad and spend 3 dollars to promote it!  

Jania Otey said, "One year the ladies at our old congregation were divided into groups.  Each group was encouraged to invite non-members to the program and collectively pray for their efforts." I love the practical focus on evangelism from this suggestion.

8. Audience: Carefully consider not just who is likely to come but who you would like to come.  Sometimes we unintentionally exclude younger women because we choose times, topics and speakers that just don’t work for them or we don't consider their need for childcare. Also you might like to have a speaker and topic aimed at seekers in your community and strongly encourage your ladies to bring friends and co-workers. 

9. Practical considerations: 
    9 Tips for an Amazing Ladies' Day
  • Folks will leave after lunch and/or grow sleepy.  So you may want to have a late lunch and not plan an after lunch session. 
  • Try not wear your workers out. Spread out the work and be sure the ladies in your congregation get to benefit from the lessons as well.
  • Be aware that there will be people on special diets.  Simple whole foods are often easy for everyone to eat (a vegetable tray or fresh whole fruit).  You might also consider making an ingredient list available upon request. 
  • Relax.  Stuff will go wrong. It's ok!

Are you excited about attending some Ladies' Days/Retreats soon?  Check out this list of events!


April 14 - 10am-2pm Allons church of Christ, Allons, TN. Lunch provided.  Kathy Pollard will speak.

April 14 - Highway church of Christ in Benton Ar.  Sharla Owens will speak.

April 21 - Eagleville church of Christ in Eagleville, Missouri. Luvenia Noblin Jenkins will be speaking. 

April 21 - Warner Robins GA. The speaker will be Jania Otey. 

May 4-5 - Worland church of Christ, Ten Sleep, Wyoming, at the Circle J Ranch.  Starts Friday at 6 with dinner.  Ends Saturday at 1:00. Dennell Dennis will be talk about "Ripples on the Water."

May 12 - 9am-12pm Corinth church of Christ. Amanda Noyes Keys speaking on "Sowing the Seed."