Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas Meditation: A Life Fulfilled

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.” 
Luke 2:25-32


 At 38 I have lived a rich life.  I’ve been to amazing places and done amazing things.  But I have so many joys yet to come. I want to run a half-marathon and have a book published. I want many more Christmases to watch my family grow up.  I want sons-in-law and grandchildren to surround my tree.  I have so much life to live!

Simeon had lived too.  We don’t know his story.  Had his life had been full of adventure or the joys of domesticity?  Did he have happy memories of Passovers and Hanukahs?  Of days spent admiring the glory of the Lord in the temple?  All we know about his story is the end of it, the fulfillment of his life’s hopes and dreams. 

He saw Jesus. 


If somehow all the wonder and richness of my life on earth were stolen away, may I always be satisfied because with the eyes of faith I have seen the salvation God sent so long ago!

Helene

Ps.  This will be our last post for the month.  But we are excited to be rejoining you after New Year.  And if you have meditations on the wonders of Jesus' arrival here on earth we'd love to read them.  Leave us a link (or a copy) in the comments!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas Meditation: Building a Home for God

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about : His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,because he will save his people from their sins.”All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. Matthew 1:18-25


Matthew’s story of Jesus’ birth focused on Joseph.  He was a man who was “faithful to the law,” a good God-fearing Jew.  The kind of guy who would be at synagogue every Saturday, marry a virgin, and refuse to trim the edges of his beard. He wasn’t the kind of guy who would get his girlfriend pregnant and suffer a shot-gun wedding.  Not the kind of guy who would be raising his wife’s child.

Yet he was the kind of guy who was faithful in another way.  He had the merciful loving kindness of his God. The kind of mercy that refused to add to the public disgrace of a young girl.  The kind of faithfulness that hears the voice of God and remains celebate with the wife he married until the birth of her son. He could be trusted to give the most important name in the world “Immanuel”-God is with us-to that boy. 


The family in the stable wasn’t perfect.  No family is.  We live in a world where the 2 parent, 2 child, picket fence life has all but disappeared.  Joseph’s story is worth telling again and again.  By his faithfulness, by his obedience, by his mercy, he created a home for God himself. 

Helene

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas Meditations: A New Nativity Scene


   A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days. Revelation 12:1-6

The 7 headed dragon as pictured by my 14 year old
I want to see a nativity scene where the meek looking Mary is replaced by the crowned and shining woman with the moon under her feet.  Then instead of cows lowing, we will have a dragon roaring while she labors.  Instead of an infant in the manger we will have the triumphant ruling Christ caught up to the Father. 

Are you having trouble imagining this one set up on your coffee table?  I can’t blame you, yet it’s as real a picture as the other.  (When you consider that the wise men didn’t show up until Jesus was probably 2, it is a more accurate picture.)  


The 7-headed dragon as pictured by my 7 year old.
As much as I love the story of Jesus’ birth, as much truth as I see in his meek beginnings, those little figurines we put up only tell one aspect of the story.  The years that Israel labored and waited for the birth of Jesus, the way that she was glorified by God’s favor, the fact that this wasn’t any ordinary baby but the son who Isaiah promised and the King that the psalmist heralded, these are facets we mustn’t miss. 

Helene




Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Meditations: Pregnancy Announcement

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

“A child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;”   When my husband and I got married, we knew that the chances of us having children of our own was very slim.  We were resigned to the idea of a tidy life without the joys that child-filled Christmases bring. So when despite all medical powers of prediction, we discovered we were pregnant with our oldest child, we understood what joy could be in the words “A child will be born to us.”  

In some amazing and powerful way, Israel was pregnant (Revelation 12:1-6).  She would eventually give birth to the much longed for son.  This was the child of promise the people had been waiting for since God promised Abraham “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Genesis 22:18). 

We mustn’t read over the words too quickly.  This baby had been longed for not for 10 years but for thousands.  He wasn’t coming to complete an ordinary family but the numerous-as-the-stars-family of Abraham.  He is the longed for son not only of Israel but all the nations. Isaiah sends out the world’s most joyful pregnancy announcement-“For a child will be born to us!”


Helene

Friday, December 11, 2015

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Henry Ossawa Tanner - Angels Appearing before the Shepherds

2000 years ago, some shepherds heard a message. 

Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. (Luke 2:10-12)

Monday, December 7, 2015

No Room For Reindeer

Today the world is getting me down.  Outside are the terrorists. Inside we have people who react to the violence of a few by hating the many. There are sorrows closer to home - loved ones with cancer, believers who seem to be slipping away, evangelism that failed, and divorce and marital strife among those I care about.   I didn’t want to plan Christmas posts.  I didn’t want to think about December.  My mood is black.  There is no room for reindeer.

I suspect I am not the only one suffering so.

Yet Christmas is around the corner.  Does the holiday have anything to say to us, those who are struggling to find the spirit of the season?

Oh yes.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Spiritual Gift-giving Guide: 2015 Edition

It’s that time again! Time to bust your brains thinking of gifts to buy for everyone on your list.  If you are like me, you like to give meaningful gifts without breaking the bank.  Last year, we made a gift giving guide for spiritually uplifting gifts” for adults and kids that fit the bill perfectly, and we’d like to do the same this year.  We have reviewed most of these books over the last twelve months and found them to be of benefit to us in our spiritual journeys.  We’d buy them for our loved ones, and we’d like to recommend them for yours

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Praising God is Theology

What does it mean to praise God?  If you are imagining voices lifted in song, a man sitting alone with a fishing pole meditating and watching the sunrise, or a relieved parent telling everyone about their blessings when they discover their child is indeed cancer-free you are on the right track.  However this is the expression of praise not the source of it. The person who is singing God’s praises is using words that express one of the many amazing things we know about God.  The man who contemplates the sunrise praises God as one who created all and declared it good.  The parent who tells the doctors, the nurses, and everyone in the waiting room how God has blessed her praises God as the one who answers prayers and sustains his people in their darkest moments. 

Last Friday’s post was all about praise-what it does and when we do it.  Imagining ourselves in any of the above situations, it’s easy to imagine praise falling from our lips.  But as we learned last week, the people of God were prepared to praise God not just in those easy moments but in emergencies, in times of fear, and in suffering.  

How can we do that?  By being better theologiansTheology is simply the study of God, and if we are students of God’s heart and his character, then we too are theologians.  

Praising God is theology. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Praise the Lord!

I love Ladies Bible Class.  For nearly a year, I’ve had the pleasure of teaching a class that encompasses women who have walked with God for many years, baby Christians and women who are seeking God.  I love the class for the fellowship, the joy of studying the Bible, and because my “students” teach me things all the time. 

For instance, recently I wanted to teach a lesson on the power of prayer.  I pulled out some of my favorite Old Testament prayers for examples.  I had them lined up: Nehemiah’s prayer when he wanted God to help gain the King’s favor to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem; Hezekiah’s prayer when he spread that blasphemous letter from Assyria in front of God and insisted that God uphold his good name; Daniel’s bold prayer with his Hebrew brothers that stopped the murder of the wise men and gave the King the answer he asked for.  I had so many lovely lessons we could learn from these brave prayer warriors. 

When we finished the lesson, I asked them, “What stands out to you about these prayers?”  And they piped up, “Praise. All these prayers start with praise.”  I was stunned by their point.  Think about it.   None of these men were sitting around with nothing better to do, watching a sunrise or contemplating a mountain range.  Daniel was facing his executioner and Hezekiah an enemy army. This is the perfect opportunity to stop and praise God?

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Day Cancer Ate My Blog Post

For November, Helene and I wanted to do a few weeks on praise and Thanksgiving.  When I was thinking of what to write, I wanted to go beyond thanking God for our blessings (a good thing to do) and speak about being thankful for our trials (a hard thing to do).  


I had several verses picked out to show that we are indeed supposed to be grateful for everything, including suffering. (Romans 5:3-5; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; James 1:2-4; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 if you are interested) It would have been a scripturally accurate blog post.  And it would have been sterile.  Empty.  I would have been speaking from the Bible with very little personal experience.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Only Happy Wife

This post dates from several years ago but seemed to be a perfect way to end our mini-series on marriage. I am thrilled to share with you that the dear daughter in this story is now our sister in Christ.  

Recently I sat at the kitchen table and had a belly-laugh with my husband.  The two of us are sometimes like conjoined twins.  Except backwards.  Two bodies, one brain with the same bizarre sense of humor.  I could try to explain the joke; it was all about prayer, confession and this book we've been reading, but I assure you it would fall flat. Snorting, I laid my head down on the kitchen table catching a glance of my eldest daughter rolling her eyes at her crazy parents. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Equal Partners


I have two girls, an elementary-aged homeschooler and a teen in public school.  I tell them both (ad nauseum) “Don’t even DATE anyone who doesn’t love Jesus more than you.”  You may believe I am an old stick in the mud, but it is actually the adventure of living with God that has convinced me more than anything else of the wisdom of this idea.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Every Day a Birthday

My husband had a birthday recently.  Since our birthdays are close together, we had gone on one big date in lieu of gifts. (Dates are precious when you have three children!). However, I still wanted his day to special.  Earlier in the week, I made a birthday cake and prepared the custard for homemade ice cream.  On his birthday, I was sure to get up early enough to make his breakfast and get the ice cream freezer going.  I hummed happily as I thought about the homemade manicotti I would make later.  My husband repeated an oft heard (but never true) statement: “Youre too good to me.” I retorted, “Maybe, but I enjoy doing things for you.” Thats when it hit me.

Monday, November 9, 2015

"I am my Beloved's, and His Desire is for Me"


Do not disturbMost of the time, our posts here at Maidservants of Christ are perfectly appropriate for readers of all ages.  But today in our series on marriage, we'll be speaking of the more intimate parts of the marriage relationship.  If your child likes to read over your shoulder, today might be the day to read in your room.  As a follow up to our review of the e-course "Becoming More Sexually Engaged - For Christian wives," here is a reprint of the Make a Difference Monday post on the same topic that first got us in contact with the author of the course. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Learning to Say Yes

Every once in a while, we have a post here on Maidservants of Christ that is rated PG-13 for adult situations.  This is one such post.  If you normally let your child read over your shoulder, you might want to save this one for a more private setting.

I was raised a “good girl.” Brought up in church, I got the yearly lessons about sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Being a people pleaser and rule follower from the start, I generally followed the guidelines given to me (except the rock and roll part – I couldnt stay away from Elvis!). Like many Christian girls with this background, I took a certain pride in my sexual purity.  I was a virgin until I was married, and Ive only ever been with my husband. I may struggle with other sins, but sexual sin is not a problem! 

Friday, October 30, 2015

But What If I Fail?

Like Helene, I don’t live in fear of external things.  (Yes, if a spider lands on me, I will run and scream like a little girl, but I can avoid the eight legged freaks for the most part.)  I teach a women’s class at a prison once a week, and I never worry about being attacked or even called names.  For one thing, there are guards watching our every move, for another I rely on God’s protection when I’m doing His work.  

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Word Study Method of Bible Study

Redeemed. Gospel. Saved. Grace. I like to call these “churchy words.” They are words that we use so often at church that we sometimes forget exactly what we are saying. They are in the Bible, but rarely used out in the world. We also forget that to those “uninitiated,” these terms sound like jargon at best, babble at worst.  We need to be able to explain these church words to our lost friends who may be studying the Bible or going to church with us, but to do that, we need to know what they mean first. That’s what the Word Study method of Bible study is all about.  

Monday, October 26, 2015

9 Christian Strategies for Helping Kids Overcome Fear

Kids get scared.  Maybe it's the shadows on the wall as they try to sleep.  Maybe it’s the horrors on the news.  Maybe it’s the mean girl at school or learning to ride a bike. And don’t forget Halloween!

I’ve seen all kinds of parenting posts about how to comfort kids and help them overcome their fears.   None of them were terrible.  Well, ok, I found the ones that suggested lying to your kids pretty horrifying.  But it seems to me that Christian parents have a whole different playbook for solving these kinds of problems. 

With that in mind, I’d like to offer you some Christian strategies for dealing with the fears that plague our kids.

Friday, October 23, 2015

I Am Not Afraid.

I’m not afraid.  

I am not afraid of thunderstorms, heights, dogs, or mice.  They are little things that have been known to startle me (barking dogs and thunderstorms) or make me mad (Rodents of all kinds infuriate me! Tiny little home invaders!).  To say that I am afraid of them would be an exaggeration.  

I am not afraid of ISIS or any terrorist domestic or foreign.  They can beware of me. They have guns; I have prayer. They steal life - precious to me because it represents the days I have here to serve my King and his people.  Yet if they steal it, they have only moved the place I am praying from earth to under the heavenly altar (Revelation 6:9-11). 

Monday, October 19, 2015

5 Ways to Combat Sinful Anxiety

There are two kinds of anxiety.  There’s the chemical imbalance kind; the kind that is medical, needs a doctor’s care and possibly some kind of medication.  I make no claims to know anything about that kind of anxiety, nor would I presume to tell someone who suffers from it what they should or should not do. The kind of anxiety I have is different.  It is the kind that worries about things I can’t change, fears failure, and dwells on “what ifs” that may never happen. This anxiety could be considered more or less serious, depending on how you look at it.  On the one hand, it is sin, and that makes it a grave problem. Jesus told us not to worry (Matthew 6:25-34), so when I do, I am disobeying him.  On the other hand, sin has a solution.  Not only has Jesus’s blood cleansed me, but the Bible has given me ways to deal with my irrational (and even rational) fears.  Here are some ways that we as women can handle our sinful anxieties before they become a snare to us.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Art of Spiritual Conversation

I LOVE podcasts.  But I’m picky about them.  I insist, for example, that they not make me unreasonably angry, that they are well done from a technical point of view, that they reliably offer new content, and that most of all that they encourage thinking and learning.

I have been listening to a new one in recent weeks called “Cross talk” (http://www.radicallychristian.com/crosstalk-podcast)It is a group of several men from the same congregation who get together and record about half an hour of conversation on a spiritual topic.  It’s like getting to be at camp or a retreat and sit and listen as mature Christians mull over a deep topic.  Delightful. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Brandon Sanderson: An Author Review

Most of the time on Whatsoever Wednesday, our book reviews are non-fiction and overtly Christian.  If you are anything like me, though, sometimes you just want to escape into a good story.  I know there is some good Christian fiction out there, but much of it is romance – not my cup of tea.  I like a good quest through a magical world or adventure on another planet.  Sadly, not all of these kinds of books fit our Philippians 4:8 criteria.  I can’t tell you how many books I’ve had to put down because they were anything but noble, lovely, pure, and righteous.  So when I find an author who writes in the fantasy/sci-fi genre that I would feel good recommending to my Christian brothers and sisters, that’s exactly what I do!

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Source of Conflict

4 year old Adrian spies a shiny red fire truck in his playmate’s hand.  After a quick glance over his shoulder to locate the nearby adults, he pinches his friend, hard.  Squalling, the other child wallops Adrian over the head with the truck leaving behind not only a red welt but an indignantly wailing Adrian.  


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Topical Method of Bible Study

If you’ve been following along with our series on methods of Bible study, then you’ve gotten your feet wet on five different ways to learn about the Bible.  So far, our methods have been fairly focused, studying one person or chapter in the Scriptures.  This next method is much broader, and will take much longer.  The results are well worth the effort, however, as the topical method of Bible study will help you to learn all there is to know about a particular subject.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Soldiers

Two young Christian men in my life in are joining the armed forces.  There’s all this talk about PT (Physical Training), boot camp, and the rewards of having someone else pay for your education.  And tears.  There are a lot of tears.

Why?  Their proud parents and grandparents have a bone deep understanding that their boys are signing up for something tough. Soldiers serve their country to the best of their ability and stand strong in the face of danger.  They learn how to push themselves, how to be a member of a team and how to submit to authority.  They can come home with mental scars, missing limbs, or in a box. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Calling All Introverts: The Church Needs You!

Recently in an adult Sunday school class, we were discussing how people sometimes drift away from the church, and two different people pointed out that introverts often feel unneeded in their congregations, like they don’t have anything to offer.  It brought to mind this passage from Paul to the Romans: 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Sin in the Congregation

Are there Bible commands that are optional? I’m not talking about details under the Old Law like not eating pork or issues that may relate to culture like head-coverings. I am talking about the clear and direct commands of Jesus Christ. Do we have optional commands? We certainly have some that are rarely practiced, hardly noticed, and generally ignored.  Why?  They require such humility, selflessness, honesty and forgiveness that we read right over them with barely a glance. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Bouts of Conflict: Jesus our Referee

Conflict. I hate it.  I love peace, and I have been known to try and keep “peace” even when a little honesty and airing of disagreements would have served the relationship far better.  So if there are any of you out there who looked at the very TITLE of the post and didn’t want to read it, trust me, I get it.  

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Glittering Vices: A Book Review

Every once in a while, I come across a book that has a little something for everyone.  In YA fiction, the Harry Potter books fit the bill.  Do you like mysteries? Check! Coming of Age? Check! Fantasy? Check! A book with a message? Check!  Bad words, bosoms, and blood?  Okay, maybe not *everyone.* I recently read a book in the “Christian non-fiction” genre that has something for almost everyone.  Glittering Vices: A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins and Their Remedies, by Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung, is scholarly enough for the nerdiest reader, full of pop culture references, and most importantly, it made me confront the sin in my own life without wanting to throw the book across the room. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Freezer Wraps: For Long-Term Need and Small Appetities

I want to tell you a sad story.  Once there were loving parents (us) who let their child and teen go spend three weeks of the summer with their adoring grandparents.  The grandchildren were happy.  The grandparents were thrilled.  The mother and the best friend of the teenager were despondent.  So they decided to do a service project to cheer up. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Jesus the Multi-tasker

It is an oft-cited fact that women are good at multi-tasking.  I must be the exception to the rule.  Oh, I can cook supper while helping kids with homework or do dishes while talking on the phone.  Small day to day tasks arent too hard to manage. The problem is that sometimes I get so hyper-focused on a large task that I lose sight of everything else around me.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Free To Love

During bible class at camp my husband said this, "To be required to do something is drudgery. To be given the ability to do something is freedom.  And freedom brings great joy."  I was thought it was wise and wrote it down.  I asked him later if it would be ok if I blogged about it. "Wise? Me?" he replied and then graciously gave his permission. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Battling Hate

Hate.  It's like the rash from the black plague.  Contagious, obvious to everyone who passes by, hard to treat, and sign of a fatal illness. 

And our country is brimming with it. 

I can't make it half a scroll down my Facebook feed and I see another angry post.  I wish I could say that it was just the lost hating each other.  That at least would be normal.  
But instead what I see is the Christians I know becoming angrier and angrier at the world around them. 

And it's not even election year. 

On this Make a Difference Monday I would like to suggest some practical things that Christians should remember about hate. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Magic Teenager Pill

As the mom of a teenager I've earned some unexpected privileges.  Starting with the privilege of changing the radio station.  A lot.

1960 Studebaker Lark VIII sedan (12404305043)
See at our house we have something called, "The Moral Objection".  When the radio is on in the car, any family member who objects to the song on the radio due to its moral content (not its tune, style, etc) is allowed to call moral objection and the station will be immediately changed.  
My teenager is the reason for this family policy.  When we got back to the States and her listening repertoire grew larger than the music that her family members or adult Christians friends listened to (IE old rock, Sinatra, old country, classical), she quickly became uncomfortable.  One day in the car she quietly said, "Mom can I change the station?"  At my raised eyebrows she elaborated.  "I don't like the words to this song."  

Friday, July 17, 2015

Reaching Down

Let's say that I wanted to see the president.  No, I NEED to see him.  Not just from a distance, I need to sit down and have a private conversation. What can I do? Dial up the White House and say, "Sir?  Could I come over to the Oval Office next week and have a heart to heart with you?"

No.  If I tried for a month, I probably couldn't get past the phone operator at the White House. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Great Gain

On the way to and from Houston to see my in-laws (2 adults, 1 child, 1 teen, 1 dog-4 total days in the car) my husband and I found a new favorite song. "Homegrown" by the Zac Brown Band appealed to us immediately, but as we kept listening the words spoke to us. The chorus goes like this.

I got some good friends that live down the street
Got a good looking woman with her arms 'round me
Here in a small town where it feels like home
I got everything I need and nothing that I don't
Homegrown, Homegrown

Monday, July 13, 2015

Summer Camp

Summer camp.  Sigh.
I think nearly every kid has happy memories of summer camp.  I remember swimming every afternoon, playing in the camp-wide ping-pong tournament, and belting out "Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes" loudly enough at 7:00 am that they finally relented and let us have breakfast. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Hello, My Name is Jonah: A Book Review

I've been making weird food again lately.  My favorite was a rice, sausage and chickpea casserole from Peru.  I just can't stand eating the same food all the time.  Frankly I don't like reading and reviewing the same kind of book all the time either.  Recently at a Ladies Day, I ran into the author of a strikingly unusual book. Lynette Gray introduced her book on Jonah to me based on the things that were unusual about it and I found that those were the 5 things I like best about it. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Summer of Growth in the Lord

What to do with the kids this summer? Summer is a great time for fun but also for growing in the Lord!
Yesterday was Memorial Day, and you know what that means!  Summer vacation is just around the corner.  Kids are excited to be out of school for a few months, but sometimes it can be a stressful time for mom. It doesn't have to be.  Let's try to think of summer vacation as an opportunity to spend that quality time with our kids that is so hard to find during the school year. We aren't talking about expensive trips or impossible bucket lists either. Whether your kids stay at home with you, alone, or in some kind of child care, structure is necessary to help parents and children make the most of the mounds of free time stretching out before us.  We hope these suggestions help you to have a fabulous summer with your little (or not so little) ones.

Friday, May 22, 2015

God Hates Divorce

We've been talking about marriage for two weeks: sex, faithfulness, encouragement, books about marriage.  You might be wondering why.  The answer is simple. Railing against divorce seemed so much less helpful than trying our best to strengthen our own marriages through what we write, as well as the marriages of you our readers. See, we hate divorce.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Top 10 Couples: A Book Review


A few weeks ago, we talked about the biographical method of Bible study, and how we can learn from the lives of Biblical characters and apply their lessons to our lives.   In preparation for our discussions about marriage, I read a book that takes that theory and applies it to couples.  In The Top 10 Most Outrageous Couples of the Bible, David Clarke takes a look at ten marriages in the Bible and what we can learn from them.  Some of the lessons are positive (you should do this in your marriage), and some are more negative (please don't do this in your marriage), and all of them have the advantage of being grounded in Scripture while still being applicable to our 21st century lives.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

"I am my beloved's, and his desire is for me"

Do not disturb
Most of the time, our posts here at Maidservants of Christ are perfectly appropriate for readers of all ages.  But today in our series on marriage, we'll be speaking of the more intimate parts of the marriage relationship.  If your child likes to read over your shoulder, today might be the day to read in your room.  

Friday, May 15, 2015

He Does What He Said He Would Do

It's all about love
She grows frailer by the day.  The vigorous outdoor activities that they loved to do together are far beyond her now as is rising from the couch, bathing herself and using the toilet alone. 
He's a macho guy with health problems of his own, but these days he's her whole world.  With the tenderness of a mother and the strength of father, he tends to her.  He's an indifferent cook, so often he wheels her out to the truck and gently levers her inside for a run through the drive through.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

You and Me Forever: A Book Review

When christianaudio.com was offering You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity by Francis and Lisa Chan as their monthly free offering, I was immediately on board.  His most famous book, Crazy Love, convicted me, called me out and crushed me. I expected nothing less from this foray into the common area of Christian advice on marriage.

Monday, May 11, 2015

13 Ways to Encourage Your Husband

We want to be wise women who build up our houses and not tear them down.  I am firmly convinced that one way we can build our houses up is by building our husbands up.
With that in mind, I'd like us to work together to think of ways we can encourage our husbands.  I've remembered things that have been good for my husband over the few years of our wedded bliss, and I've asked him what encourages him the most.  I'd love to have your feedback on what you do to encourage your spouse!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Biographical Bible Study Method

Gebhard Fugel Moses vor dem brennenden Dornbusch c1920
I remember thinking when I was a kid that all the characters in the Bible were just too good.  Noah was so righteous he wasn't killed in the flood, Moses led the people out of Egypt, and David was a man after God's own heart.  How could I relate to these good people?   

Monday, May 4, 2015

Confession: Do We Do That?

I was recently at my home congregation on a Sunday night, and the minister was discussing the story of David being confronted by Nathan. What a relief it must have been for David to have it out in the open, he suggested before offering this, "So much of the power of sin is secrecy, speaking our sin aloud steals its power. That's why confession is so important."

Friday, May 1, 2015

Lovers of Pleasure Rather Than Lovers of God

We've explored the question here before of what it means to really love God, yet when I ran across this phrase in 2 Timothy 3:4, "lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God," I was stunned.

It would be easy to dismiss this verse without carefully considering it.  Obviously it does not mean that we are supposed to give up all earthly pleasures and joys.  A good steak, a snuggle with a sleepy toddler, a porch swing, a concert, a sunset, these simple pleasures are surely not what God had in mind here. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Learning a Lesson from a Strange Place

I don't have time for much TV watching during the day, but once in a while when I have laundry to fold, or I don't feel good, I'll fire up Netflix and see what I can find.  With a small daughter at home, I have to be doubly careful what I choose.  Yesterday, I found a show called "The Paradise," and decided to give it a try.  It's a BBC show, so I kept one hand on the remote, expecting to have to turn it off any moment.  What I got instead was a lesson on loving your enemy that beat any sermon I've heard in church about the topic. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

13 Tips for a Visitor Friendly Church

"Thou shalt greet visitors."

Okay, so this one didn't make it to the Ten Commandments, but being kind and welcoming to guests in our congregations is very important, and not so we can keep our pews filled.  Every visitor who comes through our doors has the potential to be a seeker, an unbeliever who has questions about Jesus and the church.  If we are an unwelcoming, insular group of people, then that visitor may never come back to our church or any other.  More than losing a warm body, we may be losing a soul.  So how can we be more welcoming to the new faces who walk through our doors?  We have a few tips today that we challenge you to read and follow in the weeks to come. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Honoring our Parents

One of the first verses I had my children memorize was Ephesians 6:1: Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  I liked having a verse that specifically applied to children, and if they obeyed the verse, it helped me out!  However, the mandate to honor and obey parents is not limited to people under 18.  In the lists of sinful activities in Romans 1 and 2 Timothy 3 have "disobedient to parents" among such sins as murder and malicious gossip. Serious stuff.  How can we as adult children make sure that we are not falling into sin as regards the people who raised us? Once again, we must turn to the example of Jesus.  As an adult, he showed us how to respect our parents by the way he treated his own mother.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

After Acts: A Book Review

All of the apostles except John were martyred.  Peter was crucified upside down because he refused to be killed in the same way Christ was.  Paul went to Spain, and Matthew evangelized cannibals.  

I've heard these statements all my life, and although I knew they weren't recorded in the Bible, I assumed that the stories were based on reliable historical fact.  When I read After Acts: Exploring the Lives and Legends of the Apostles, by Bryan Litfin, I was surprised to find out that "early church tradition" isn't as reliable (or as early!) as I had thought. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Letters of Encouragement

Mail boxes
On today's Make a Difference Monday, I'd like to share with you something our congregation does to fulfill the command to encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11,14; Hebrews 3:13, 10:25).  We have a long list of people who could use encouragement on a long term basis.  About half are prisoners in our prison ministry, and the other half are the chronically sick, missionaries, college students, soldiers, and anyone else who needs to be built up on a regular basis.  Our congregation is divided into four "teams." Each week, one team leader writes a letter of encouragement and makes enough copies for each person on our encouragement list.  Then the members of the team sign the letters, hopefully leaving a short personal note as well. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Sins of Un-

We often think of sin as "the bad things we do" or even the "the bad things we think."  More rarely someone understands that even the bad things we feel, for example hatred or covetousness are wrong and should have been submitted to Christ.   This is a "positive" view of sin.  In other words, this way of thinking understands sin as "The things we do, think, or feel that we should not."

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Jessie's Girl

One of the things that bugged me about living abroad was how terribly out of touch I felt.  As a nerd of the first caliber, I have never been caught up on pop culture but I'm not usually an ENTIRE decade behind.  Once in a while I still have to say, "Sorry, I must have missed that while I was gone," but these days we are LESS lost. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Cure for Greed

Hello, my name is Melissa, and I am idolater.  It's been one day since I've been greedy.  Sometimes it seems like I don't know how to stop worshiping money.  The sad thing is that sometimes I don't even know what I'm doing.  Then an extra expense comes up, and I feel that little knot of anxiety.  I see an opportunity to give, and I pass it by because we just don't have it this week.  But we have it.  Extra giving just isn't in the budget this week, and I'm sure God understands that I need a grand in my emergency fund.  When I begin to question if we can afford what we have budgeted to give, I finally see the greed for what it is.  I've put God behind money.  Again.  I look back and see all the signs, and I regret it.  Then it creeps up on me again. How can I break out of this cycle?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Lovers of Money

Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.  For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. Colossians 3:5-7

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Purer in Heart

Heather Pryor, from Pryor Convictions publishing, has just published a book that stands out in two aspects.  Purer in Heart is designed to be as useful for a girl of 13 as it is a woman of 63.  And although it does lean towards application in a woman's life, it covers a wide variety of Biblical topics.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Generation Gap

If you've ever looked closely at the New Testament you might notice the conspicuous absence of youth ministers, youth groups, and youth rallies.  Not to say that these things are somehow against the teaching of the New Testament, just that they aren't there.  Like many other things, including song books and church buildings, they are simply a convenient way to fulfill the commands of the Lord.