Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Gods and Kings: A Book Review

"MOLECH ... MOLECH ... MOLECH!"
Suddenly the wall of soldiers parted, and Hezekiah got his first glimpse of Molech.  He knew he wasn't dreaming. He knew the monster was real because he never could have imagined anything so horrible.  Molech stared down at him from a throne of brass as the fire in the pit beneath the hollow statue blazed with a loud roar.  Tongues of flame licked around the edges of his open mouth. His arms reached out as if waiting to be filled, forming a steep incline that ended in his open, waiting mouth. ... Hezekiah watched in horror as the man tossed his brother into the monster's waiting arms.  Eliab rolled down the incline toward the open mouth, clawing at the brazen arms to try to stop his fall, but the metal was hot and polished smooth.  He couldn't hold on.  Eliab's pitiful screams wailed above the  roar of the flames and the pounding drums, even after he had fallen over the rim and Molech had devoured him. (Austin, Lynn. Gods and Kings: Chronicles of the Kings #1, p 14-15.).  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Giving God the Leftovers

Crumbs saucer forkHave you ever planned out your supper to include leftovers for the next meal only to discover at the end of your meal that all of the food is gone?  Now I have an even more important question.  Have you ever planned out your day to include your quiet time with the Father in your spare time during the day?  This is how I have been approaching my Bible reading lately.  I have intended to read during my spare moments during the day or at the end of the day before bed.  Somehow those spare moments have become filled up.   By nighttime, I am too tired to read and pray.  I have become so far behind that I have no reading to write about today, which is particularly bad considering the fact that my reading should be three weeks ahead of the blog.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

Halloween is just around the corner.  I don't need to turn to costumed children or horror movies to feel a chill of fear.  Media doomsayers, gunmen shooting up movie theaters or fanatics causing buildings to crumble-they shake us all.  We are tempted to think that terror is a modern phenomenon.  This week we'll be covering the two most terrifying ancient women we could think of-Jezebel and Athaliah. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Blessing of Children

Pierre-Édouard Frère - Interior with Woman Teaching Child to Pray - Walters 371404
When I think about how my children are a blessing from the Lord, I have a very definite set of "blessings" in  mind.  With my young children,  spontaneous kisses, wide eyed wonder, cooking lessons, bubble baths, and snuggles all come to mind.   Indeed, all of these things are blessings to be grateful for in my nightly prayers, but when I read the Bible, I find one woman thankful for much different things. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Letting Go

WARNING: You might want to read today's post with Kleenex box in hand.  On Monday, Helene posted a profile of the Gentile woman whose daughter was demon-possessed, and tomorrow Melissa will put up an article about Hannah letting Samuel go.  We wanted to include a real life example of a woman letting her children go.  Today's guest post is by Anna, a woman whom the three of us have known and loved for many years.   She is well acquainted with the pain associated with saying goodbye to one's children, but also with the comfort found in our Savior's arms during such difficult times.  Anna's life demonstrates various ways in which women are called on to let go of their children.  Many of you will probably be able to relate to one or more of her illustrations.   We hope you not only enjoy this guest post but are reminded who those precious little ones really belong to.  ~ Helene, Jane, and Melissa

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Setting Their Hope

Welcome to Whatsoever Wednesday!  In the middle of the week, we like to share what we are reading, watching, listening to, and otherwise filling our minds with to fulfill the command in Philippians 4:8: "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."

Sometimes my prayers stink.  I think God must get tired of me saying the same things over and over.  I start with the obvious address, I do the "intercession" time (You know, please bless my kids, my husband, our family...), I say thanks for this and that and I'm done.  I know there must be more to prayer than that.  Something more than the dry, methodical, self-centered, obligatory phrases I have been saying since I was 10.  I love God, but I am shallow! Or maybe I am simply out of words.  As if this wasn't bad enough, I'm a chronic emergency pray-er. When I am sad, hurt, or frightened, I can pray like a fiend. When things are sailing along, I forget everything I learned; my passion wanes and I become inconsistent again. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why Do You Believe in God?

Why do you believe in God?  I don't know if you have been asked this question recently, but it is a question that Helene and I both get asked fairly frequently.  There are many reasons that I do, but today I would like to talk about one that relates to my recent reading.  I have just finished reading the book of Isaiah.  Although I admit that there are many sections in this book that I don't understand, the prophecies in this book that I do understand really strengthen my faith.  The fact that I am able to read about events that were written down hundreds of years before they ever happened really helps me to know that there really is a God and that He cares for the intimate particulars of our lives.   In addition to many details of Jesus' life and death that were foretold by Isaiah, I found two other passages particularly moving--one a surprise to me and the other an old favorite.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Desperate Mama

Have you ever thought your child was going to die?  I don't mean in a fit of temper you were going to have to kill them. All of us have had that humorous thought.  I mean have you had a moment or more than one, where you honestly didn't know if your child would live or die?  I have.  Three times in the 4 years she has been in this world, I have honestly wondered if my younger daughter would live or die.  They are three of the worst moments of my life.

Friday, October 19, 2012

When Husbands Go Wrong: Unequally Yoked

Have you ever known a couple that was "unequally yoked?"  I mean, a couple where one is a Christian and the other is not?  I'm sure you have.  It can be a really hard way to live.  I watched both of my faithful grandmothers come to church alone every week.  Both were married fairly young and became Christians after marriage.  They loved their husbands, and the fact that they were not Christians didn't take away from their love for them.  They both would have loved for their husbands to be saved. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Guest Post: The Hidden Infidelity

This post was originally posted at www.thechristianwoman.com.  Ms. Cosgrove was gracious enough to allow me to re-post it here as we've discussed husbands who go down the wrong path.  Her story is similar to Abigail's that we discussed last week in that her husband died.  It is also similar to the Christian woman we'll discuss tomorrow because she prayed for her husband fervently.  This painful narrative reminds us that there are not always easy answers when husbands go wrong, but that our God is always faithful. ~Melissa
 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

To Will and To Do

Last summer, our upstairs neighbors dropped off a load of unwanted books.  Among the paperbacks was this title, The Christian's Secret to a Happy Life. To my mind the title promised more of the same: pseudo-psychology meets watered-down Christianity.  Not for me, thanks.  However, unsurprisingly as my supply of new books dwindled, I was drawn to the worn pages.  Do you ever read a book, back of a shampoo bottle, set of instructions to a remote control, child's textbook, 8 month old newspaper, or even your Bible just because you were out of stuff you wanted to read? I have.  I am a junkie. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Shining as Lights

Have you ever sat outside at dusk waiting for the first star of evening to appear?  With the sun melting into the backdrop, it is easy to miss that star when it appears.  However, on a moonless, clear night far from city lights, the stars twinkle so brightly that they almost hurt the eyes to look at them.  We live in a dark world full of sin, but Philippians 2:14-15  says that when we are living as God calls us to, we appear like "lights in the world."  The NIV says we "shine like stars in the universe."

Monday, October 15, 2012

Aliens and Strangers

Everyone was standing in the hallway by the classroom murmuring the way you do while waiting in line.  The air was sticky and still. There were two tables, six women, four signs, and I was entirely lost. The fall semester was about to begin the next day and I needed to register my youngest daughter for preschool.  I can speak some of the common tongue but I can't read at all.  So there I am, a true stranger, staring around in confusion, wondering which crowd of people to join.  I was especially perplexed by the signs.  There was no obvious table or line where I should begin, and after the more savvy parents (the literate ones!) read the signs they seemed to know where to go.  But what do they say?  Is one sign for 4 year olds? I have no idea! Or perhaps one sign is for people who need to pay? Or to register new or returning students?  I am frozen, anxious and sure that standing there staring around has revealed me for what I am, an alien.

Friday, October 12, 2012

When Husbands Go Wrong: Abigail

When I was in junior high, I had some friends who were not very nice.  They made fun of other people, even people who really couldn't defend themselves.  Sometimes I just stood by quietly and let the teasing go on. Sometimes I joined in.  There came a point when I realized that if I claimed to be a Christian, I could not behave that way.  I didn't want to lose my friends, so I tried to talk them out of being so mean.  I had a very lonely year.  Instead of stopping the sin, they stopped being my friends.  I could not influence them for good.  I'm sure my efforts were very immature, but sometimes a person can't be convinced to do the right thing.  What if that person is your husband? 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thorns?

Today's guest post comes from my Aunt, Polly Banks.  She has been writing poetry which reflects on life and our walk with God as long as I can remember.  As soon as last week's post, Redefining the Thorn, was up, I got a note from her sister about this poem which I had not had the pleasure of reading.  Aunt Polly's sweet and positive spirit has always been an inspiration to our whole family. ~ Helene 
 

Thorns?

We walk through life
with thoughts of roses in mind.
Looking for all the happiness
and joy we can find,
But there are times many thorns
come our way,
Do we then look for the roses
hidden that day?
If we dwell on the negatives
we find in life,
We could be eaten with
worry, sorrow and strife,
But if we think on the things
of good report,
Roses amongst the thorns
and things of that sort,
And how God walks with us
through all of life's pain,
How He gives us salvation
with eternal life to gain,
And how blessed we are with
eternities values in view
We then can have a rosy
outlook in all we do.

Philippians 4: 4-9

PB

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sing and Be Happy


My son really had a rough time today.  After he turned on the garden hose (which he knows is off limits), I made him come in the house.  He absolutely fell apart.  He'd had a busy couple of days, and the exhaustion was showing in a melt-down.  It was naptime.  All of you who have had any contact with children know that the last thing a worn out four year old boy wants to do is take a nap.   He screamed; he kicked; he did all he could to keep himself awake.  None of my usual bribes or punishments was working.  So I started to sing: "Blessed Assurance" followed by "Sweet Hour of Prayer."  By the time I made it to "It Is Well With My Soul," he was asleep. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dearest Daughter,

There was a point in my life when I was quite down on myself, and taking this first chapter of Ephesians and changing it into a letter from God to me, really helped me to realize how special I was to my Father.  I used the New Living Translation as a basis for this letter, but had to slightly alter it in a few places to change it into its current state.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Faith and Works

The last time you heard a sermon on faith and works, did it mention Rahab the harlot? No? Why not? She's the perfect example! In fact, Rahab is mentioned three times in the New Testament.  Once as an ancestress of Jesus and twice in connection to the idea of faith and works (Matthew 1:5, Hebrews 11:31, and James 2:25).  Her example is one of the clearest illustrations of the connection between what we believe and what we do in all of the Bible. 
 

Friday, October 5, 2012

When Husbands Go Wrong: Sapphire

I am blessed to have a husband who is a Christian and the spiritual leader of our house.  I thank God for him every day.  But I know that not all of you women out there have what I have.  Some of you are married to men who are not Christians.  Some of you have to take up the mantle of spiritual leader because your husbands have not. I've seen both sides over and over in my life.  Sometimes husbands and fathers go wrong.  Sometimes non-Christian husbands makes the choice to lead their wives in sin.  Sometimes believing men can make bad decisions which may harm their families.  How are we, as Christian women, supposed to handle it when a husband goes wrong?  In the next few weeks, we'll be looking at some examples of what women in the Bible did. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Creepy Caterpillar

I have been thinking about caterpillars lately.  Especially how they change.  Walking to preschool the other day, my youngest daughter stopped to watch a caterpillar crawl across a rock.  For the rest of the walk we talked about the way caterpillars become butterflies.  The mystery of it still befuddles me. In two weeks one kind of creature, a fuzzy crawling pest, becomes an entirely other kind of creature, an ethereal piece of art in motion. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Redefining the Thorn


Thorns.  Aside from the ones on roses, this is not a word that brings to mind beauty and comfort.  Rather, when we think on this word, we think of pain and ugliness.  Thorns and thistles represent the bane of every gardener.  They bring about hurt and discomfort and if left too long in the skin, even infection.  No wonder Paul asked for his thorn in his flesh to be removed (2 Corinthians 12:7).   Now, I am almost certain that Paul wasn't asking God to remove an actual sticker from his finger, but I do believe that he used this term intentionally to bring to our minds a mental picture of pain and suffering.

Monday, October 1, 2012

If You Had Only Been Here

I've wondered about prayer since I was kid.   I wonder how does God feel? Does my lackluster prayer life hurt His feelings, like if I just stopped Skyping my Mom?   How does He begin answering prayers before I've prayed them?  Why does He wait so long to solve problems that He is going to end up solving for me in the end?  Does He ever answer me, and then I just don't understand the answer at all?  How many "thank-you notes" for prayers answered have I forgotten to send in my life?