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Dear Readers,

I am currently in the middle of the second year of pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree. Over a year ago I posted that I would like to write a book about women in ministry using some of the over 200 stories that are on my blog. I have recently changed my mind and will be writing a curriculum on women in the Bible and history. Some day I might write a whole book but for now I believe I need to write Bible stories.

The reason: I sent a survey on women in the Bible to many churches and received very disappointing results. For one thing, very few men said that the speak about women from the pulpit. There were many reasons, but I am concerned that this is NOT encouraging to women. At the very least it makes us feel unnecessary.

More importantly, the stories are in God’s Word. God included the stories of women for our benefit. When we skip over them we lose out on what God would teach us. That includes all of the inspiring stories of women that God has used in Kingdom work.

An important reason for writing a curriculum is to show that God does indeed use women in ministry. But equally important is a list of resources for women to use. I have been blessed by each and every book or article I have read. An important part of the curriculum will be a bibliography containing a list of the many books available. Other women will be blessed too as they read these inspiring stories.

So, for the next few weeks we will be looking at the stories of women in the Bible. Most of these women will be very familiar to you, but we will examine them more closely than you may have had opportunity to in the past.

The first and foremost attention will be paid to what the Bible has to say about the women. There is a lot of misinformation out there that can be cleared up by just looking at what the Bible actually says.

For example – what would most people say the occupation of Mary of Magdala was? It might surprise you to learn that the Bible does not say that Mary was a prostitute. This idea originated with Pope Gregory the Great in the late sixth century and it has stuck to this day. Hollywood has helped to cement the idea in place by castigating Mary as a loose woman. I don’t expect anything better than that from a group that uses lurid details to sell movies whether they are accurate or not. But I would like a chance to set the record straight for Christians by telling the story from the Bible.

And so, that will be the format of all of these lessons. We will begin by reading the Scriptures. Next, I will bring in some background material from well-respected Christian historians. Why are these stories in the Bible? What can we learn from them? How do they fit in with God’s overall plan of Redemption?

The Bible is really a story with the Lord Jesus Christ as the central character. The stories of the men and the women in the Bible are interesting and important in themselves, but they all point to God’s plan of salvation. By studying the stories of these women in their context, we can see how they fit into God’s plan of redemption.

Jesus asked the Church to take the Gospel to all of the nations. That is a big job. It will take all Christians, men and women working together to fulfill the Great Commission.

Are we looking forward to Christ’s appearing? There is only one place in the Scriptures that gives us an indication of when Christ will return. “The gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) Now with technology, GPS, easy travel, more cooperation between some countries, and the many new Mission Organizations I believe that we can reach every nation. This is exciting for all of us who look for and love His appearing.

And so please study and enjoy the stories of God’s kingdom women. You are a kingdom woman! How will God use you to bless others while you serve Him?

 

 

 

The Song of Mary

The Song of Mary

Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob; forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. –Luke 1: 30-33

There is so much to praise in Mary who as an ordinary human being had great faith, courage, and piety. She proved her faith with obedience, her courage with humility, and her piety with thoughtfulness, prayer, and submission.

Her cousin Elizabeth confirms this, “and blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” (Luke 2:45)

We admire Mary for her example to us in how Christians should respond in faith. Mary exalted God alone. Mary would wish us to keep Christ on the throne.

Mary herself says as much in her beautiful song that we have called the Magnificat. (Luke 1:46-55)

Mary’s song follows the pattern of the other famous songs in the Old Testament. Here is a list for you to look up: Song of Moses (Exodus 15:1-18); Song of Miriam (Exodus 15:20, 21); Song of Deborah (Judges 5:1-31); Song of Hannah (I Samuel 2:1-10).

The songs follow a pattern of praise, adoration, ascribing magnificence to God, thankfulness for salvation, a history of how God has always saved His people, and a hope and belief in God’s promise for the future.

Filled with the Holy Spirit and rejoicing in God’s goodness Mary sang:

My soul magnifies the Lord,

Hannah – “My heart exults in the Lord.” (I Samuel 2:1)

Moses – “I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted” (Exodus 15:1).

Miriam – “Sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted” (Exodus 15:21)

Deborah – “Hear, O kings; give ear, O rulers! I – to the Lord, I will sing, I will sing praise to the Lord, the God of Israel.” (Judges 5:3)

 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

“My heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation” (Psalm 9:14; 13:5; 35:9; 48:11; 68:3; 97:1; 149:2)

Isaiah – “I will rejoice greatly in the Lord; My soul will exult in my God” (Isaiah 61:10)

 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;

Hannah –

“For though the Lord is exalted, Yet He regards the Lowly” (Psalm 138:6)

“For thus says the high and exalted One… I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit.” (Isaiah 57:15)

 For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.

“How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust” (Psalm 40:4)

“How blessed are all those who long for Him.” (Isaiah 30:18)

“And she (Elizabeth) cried out with a loud voice, and said, ‘Blessed among women are you, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. … And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.’” (Luke 1:42, 45)

 Why is Mary going to be called “Blessed”? Note the word is “blessed” not “bless-ed”. She is the one who has received the blessing. Why? Read on.

 For He who is mighty has done great things for me,

“Who can speak of the mighty deeds of the Lord, or can show forth all His praise?” (Psalm 106:2)
“The Lord has done great things for us; We are glad.” (Psalm 126:2)

“Do not fear, O land, rejoice and be glad, for the Lord has done great things.” (Joel 2:21)

 And holy is His name.

“And give thanks to His holy name.” (Psalm 97:12; 105:3)

“Holy and awesome is His name.” (Psalm 111:9)

“Our Redeemer, the Lord of hosts is His name, the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 47:4)

 And His mercy is on those who fear Him

“’I will surely have mercy on him, declares the Lord.’” (Jeremiah 31:20)

 From generation to generation.

“Thou, O Lord, wilt keep them; Thou wilt preserve him from this generation forever.” (Psalm 12:7)

“The counsel of the Lord stands forever; The plans of His heart from generation to generation. …. I will cause Thy name to be remembered in all generations; Therefor the people will give Thee thanks forever and ever.” (Psalm 33:11; 45:17)

“Thou, O Lord, dost rule forever; Thy throne is from generation to generation.” (Lamentations 5:19)

He has shown strength with His arm;

“Splendor and majesty are before Him; Strength and joy are in His place.” (I Chronicles 16:27).

“I love Thee, O Lord, my strength.” (Psalm 18:1)

“With the saving strength of His right hand” (Psalm 20:6; 21:1; 28:7; 31:4; 37:39; etc…)

“For the Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2).

“The mountains quaked at the presence of the Lord,” (Judges 5:5)

 He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

Hannah – “Boast no more so very proudly; Do not let arrogance come out of your mouth.” (I Samuel 2:3)

“Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him; And tread down the wicked where they stand.” (Job 40:12)

“Rise up, O Judge of the earth; Render recompense to the proud.” (Psalm 94:2)

“Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.” (Proverbs 16:5)

“For the Lord of hosts will have a day of reckoning against everyone who is proud and lofty.” (Isaiah 2:12)

 He has put down the mighty from their thrones,

“Now it came about at midnight that the Lord struck all the first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh who sat on his Throne to the first born of the captive who was in the dungeon…” (Exodus 12:29)

“And I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the power of the kingdoms of the nations” (Haggai 2:22).

 And exalted the lowly.

“He sets on high those who are lowly” (Job 5:11)

“Yet He regards the lowly” (Psalm 138:6)

“I dwell on a high and holy place and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit” (Isaiah 57:15)

 He has filled the hungry with good things,

Hannah – But those who were hungry cease to hunger. … He raises the poor from the dust.” (I Samuel 2:5, 8)

“For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.” (Psalm 107:9)

“Who executes justice for the oppressed; Who gives food to the hungry.” (Psalm 146:7)

And the rich He has sent away empty.

Hannah – “Those who were full hire themselves out for bread” (I Samuel 2:5)

“Do not be afraid when a man becomes rich, …. For when he dies he will carry nothing away” (Psalm 49:16, 17).

“… his eyes were not satisfied with riches” (Ecclesiastes 4:8)

“But he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished.” (Proverbs 28:20)

 He has helped His servant Israel,

Moses – “The Lord is a warrior; The Lord is His name. … Your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.” (Exodus 15; 3)

Miriam – “The horse and his rider He has hurled into the sea.” (Exodus 15:21)

Moses – “So Israel dwells in security, …. Blessed are you, O Israel; who is like you, a people saved by the Lord?” (Deuteronomy 33:28, 29)

 In remembrance of His mercy,

I am the Lord your God, etc……..

“The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works.” (Psalm 145:9)

Referring to Israel and God’s dealing with them:

“In His love and in His mercy, He redeemed them; and He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.” (Isaiah 63:9)

“’Therefore My heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him, declares the Lord.’” (Jeremiah 31:20)

“Let those who love Him be like the rising of the sun in its might.” (Judges 5:31)

 As He spoke to our fathers,

The Ten Commandments – “Then God spoke all these words saying” – (Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 5: 1-22)

“Hear now and I will speak” (Job 42:4)

“Hear, O My people, and I will speak.” (Psalm 50:7)

“God has spoken…” (Psalm 60:6; 62:11; 85:8; 99:7; 105:31; 108:7, etc…)

 To Abraham and to his seed forever.

“The Lord said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country … to the land which I will show you; …. I will make you a great nation … I will bless you …. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.’” (Genesis 12: 1-4)

As you celebrate Advent and Christmas remember to thank and praise God for His many blessings to you!!

Merry Christmas, 2017

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41).

Glory to God in the Highest and Peace and Goodwill Towards Men*

 

At this time of the year there is much anticipation in the air. Children can’t wait to be done with school for a while and have a nice break. Of course, the main object of their anxious waiting is Christmas!

Moms and Dads are filled with anticipation of the happy Christmas morning when they can see their children’s eyes light up when they come into the family room and see the beautiful tree and all of the presents.

These are wonderful traditions. I pray that at this Christmas everyone will take time out and remember that the One that they should be anticipating is the Lord Jesus Christ. The presents under the tree are fun, but the best gift ever is from our Heavenly Father.

Our best gift is the Savior Who can give us a better life and an eternal home with Him.

In Luke’s Gospel we encounter the story of the Savior’s birth along with many details surrounding it. Luke gives us a glimpse into the lives of the people who would be special in the life of the baby Jesus. Last Christmas, we talked about His mother Mary. This Christmas it seems appropriate to talk about a relative of Mary’s family, Elizabeth.

Who was this woman and why was she so special that the evangelist Luke should commemorate her story?

We don’t have many details, but what we know is important. Both Elizabeth and her husband, Zacharias, were descended from Aaron (Moses’ brother) and therefore they were both in the priestly line. Therefore, their child, John the Baptist, would be from the priestly line from both sides of his family. John the Baptist was the great prophet who was foretold in the Old Testament who would introduce Jesus at the beginning of the Savior’s ministry. Elizabeth had the privilege to be the mother of this great person.

Elizabeth understood that God had chosen her for a special task. Like some of the other women we have studied, such as Sarah and Hannah, Elizabeth was childless for a long time. In Jewish society barrenness was both embarrassing and humiliating. It was assumed that the woman had disobeyed God somehow and was being punished with childlessness. Elizabeth responded to God’s blessing by praising Him. “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men” (Luke 1:25). Of course we know that God has His own purposes for how He deals with us. The stories of these women are a great encouragement to those who are suffering misfortunes in their lives.

We are told specifically that sinfulness was NOT the reason for Elizabeth’s condition. Luke tells us that both Zacharias and Elizabeth were “righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of he Lord” (Luke 1:6). The Father was merely waiting until the time was right to bless Elizabeth with motherhood. God’s timing is perfect; He was also about to visit Mary the future mother of Jesus. These women were relatives.

After Mary became pregnant with Jesus she went to visit Elizabeth. A wonderful thing happened. As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped for joy. Even her unborn child recognized the nearness of the Savior of the world. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and rejoiced saying to Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord” (Luke 1:42-45).

Note especially the last verse, “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” Elizabeth believed and was blessed.
This year as we anticipate the wonderful Christmas season, my prayer is that all will believe and be blessed. Jesus is the Son of God the Most High Who will reign forever; His kingdom will have no end.
A blessed Christmas to you and your families.

  • I posted this story on Elizabeth 5 years ago. At this time in Advent I was meditating on the how we should be looking forward in anticipation to the Second Time that Christ will come to earth. I couldn’t think of a better way to think about the Lord Jesus than to rediscover the story of the two women who play a part in Jesus’s first coming. A post on Mary will follow in two weeks. God bless you all!

In honor of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, we have been studying about the wives who supported the Reformers.

In Part 1 we found that Martin Luther claimed that he would not have done so many things without his Katy. John Calvin learned more graciousness and beauty from his wife Idelette.

In Part 2 we learned about wives who carried on the work of their husbands after they became widows. Kahtarina Schutz Zell wrote books and even preached. Wibrandis Rosenblatt, widowed four times, added to the ministry of her Reformation husbands by caring for the poor and the victims of the religious wars.

This week we turn to two other pious wives of the Reformation – Anna Reinhard Zwingli and Anna Adlischweiler Bullinger.

Anna Reinhard (1484 – 1538)

Anna Reinhard Zwingli was actually the first Reformation wife. Like Idelette de Bure, Anna was a young widow when she met Huldrych Zwingli. Her first marriage to John von Knonau ended tragically when he died from poor health leaving her with two children, a son and a daughter. It was her son, Gerold, who actually brought Anna and Huldrych together.

Zwingli, as a priest, came to Zurich in late 1518. Anna and her children would go to hear Zwingli preach. Zwingli noticed that Anna was one of his most attentive listeners. He also noticed that Gerold was a bright and gifted boy and Zwingli took him under his wing. He tutored Gerold until he was around 11 years old and then sent him to Basel where he continued his education. Gerold did well and rose to prominence when he moved to Zurich.

During this time Anna and Huldrych fell in love. They wanted to marry, but priests were not allowed to marry in those days. Anna and Huldrych married in secret in 1522.  When it was discovered it caused a great sensation.

Zwingli addressed Anna as his dearest wife. She was a model minister’s wife, refusing to wear jewelry so that she could feed the poor instead.

All through the hard years when Zwingli was translating the Bible into the Swiss German tongue, Anna stayed up late caring for her husband. He would often read to her from the translation and it became one of Anna’s favorite things. She never tired of hearing the stories from the Bible in her native tongue. When the Bible was completed in 1529 (several years before Luther’s translation appeared in 1534) Zwingli gave Anna a copy. It was her favorite book.

Along with her many hours of toil caring for her husband, Anna also entertained the visitors and friends who came by. Her home was always open to them. Even the town dignitaries praised Anna and Huldrych called her “an angel wife”.

In October, 1531 the Roman Catholic army approached Zurich. Hard as it seems to us today, the people were willing to fight a war for their religious beliefs. Zwingli was ordered to go along with the Reformer’s army as the chaplain. It was a tearful parting for Anna and Huldrych. They prayed together and embraced for what would be the last time. Anna said, “We shall see each other again if the Lord will. His will be done. And what will you bring back when your come?” Zwingli replied, “Blessing after dark night.” They were his last words to her.

The Roman Catholics won the battle and many Reformers died or had to flee. Anna lost Huldrych, her son Gerold, a brother, a cousin, and a fatally wounded son-in-law. Anna could not even give her husband a decent burial because his body had been quartered and burned and its ashes desecrated. Sorrow upon sorrow was heaped on her and yet she was seen at prayer soon after turning to God for comfort.  It was because of this that Anna has been called “the weeping mother of the Reformation.”

Several good friends cared for her and her remaining children. Martin Bucer (Remember him from the last post? He married Wibrandis Rosenblatt in 1542) offered help for her and her family. But it was the Bullingers (see post below) who took Anna in and gave her a new home. Zwingli had left no money for Anna. Heinrich Bullinger provided for Anna’s family, even seeing to the education of the children.

We don’t know much about Anna’s later years. Her oldest daughter, Regula grew into a beautiful and pious woman. Regula married Rudolph Gualther who later became the successor to Zwingli and Bullinger as the head of the Zurich church.

And so like mother, like daughter. Both women are still remembered today for their piety and many Christian graces. Anna was a great example for the many Christian wives to follow.

 

Anna Adlischweiler (1504 – 1564)

Anna Adlischweiler was a nun like Katherine von Bora.  Anna’s father had been killed in battle when she was eight years old. Her mother was poor and in bad health and so she put Anna in a convent. The convent at Oedenbach was also a hospital so Anna’s mother moved in with her.

Around 1522 the council at Zurich decided to send Zwingli into all of the convents to preach the Gospel to the Roman Catholics. Many of the nuns joyfully received the Gospel. Of course they left the convents to get married or find another living. In Oedenbach all but two left, Anna and her sister. Actually Anna became a believer but would not leave so that she could care for her mother.

One day the chaplain of the convent, Leo Juda, brought a young man by the name of Heinrich Bullinger with him when he visited Anna. Heinrich fell in love with the gracious and pious Anna. Heinrich proposed to Anna in a letter. It is actually the oldest existing love letter from a Reformer. It is very long but I will quote part of it from James I. Good’s book on Famous Women of the Reformed Church.

At length in his letter, Heinrich honestly tells all to Anna – he describes his physical and his financial conditions. He then makes his proposal:

But why are many words necessary! The sum of it all is, that the greatest, surest treasure that you will find in me, is fear of God, piety, fidelity and love, which with joy I will show you, and labor, earnestness and industry, which will not be wanting in temporal things. Concerning high nobility and many thousand gulden, I can say nothing to you. But I know that what is necessary to us, will not be wanting. For Paul says, “We brought nothing into the world, and we will take nothing out. Therefore, if we have clothing and food it is enough.”

Ten days later Heinrich received Anna’s reply of acceptance. Anna was very happy, but her mother was opposed to this marriage. Anna postponed the wedding so she could care for her mother until her mother died in 1529. Then in August, 1529, Anna and Heinrich were married.

Much had happened during the years that Anna was in the convent. As mentioned above, war had started. The defeat of Zurich left many Reformers dead. Others fled to safer places. During this war Zwingli, the pastor of the church at Zurich died leaving his wife Anna a widow with children. Heinrich and Anna Bullinger took the Zwingli’s in and gave them a home.

Anna not only cared for all of these others but she and Heinrich had babies almost every year. She eventually had six sons and five daughters. She also took care of her in-laws. Like Katherine von Bora Luther, Anna entertained some of Bullinger’s students.

On top of all of this, in 1556 as a result of the religious wars, 116 refugees fled to Zurich. Anna and Heinrich cared for eighty of them. Bullinger’s salary was not large and Anna often wondered where they would find the money to care for all of the refugees. Somehow she managed; the Lord always provided.

Like Anna Zwingli, Anna Bullinger received the reputation of a ministering angel. In addition to all of the refugees, other prominent foreigners came to her home – Calvin, Farel, Bucer, and Capito.

Anna distributed food, drink, medicine, and clothing to the huts of the poor. Like other Reformed wives, Anna earned the title of “Mother”.

Ever thoughtful of others, putting their needs before her own, Anna nursed her husband during the plague. He got better, but she succumbed. When she died in 1564 all of Zurich mourned for her.

Anna Adlischweiler Bullinger joins the list of the wonderful Wives and Mothers of the Reformation –

Katherine von Bora Luther

Idelette de Bure Calvin

Katharina Schutz Zell

Wibrandis Rosenblatt Bucer

Anna Reinhard Zwingli

We thank the Lord for their graciousness, faithfulness, and godly character.

 

 

 

Churches all over the world have been celebrating the 500th anniversary of one of the most momentous times in history – The Reformation. Historians often credit the beginning of the Reformation with the nailing of his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg by Martin Luther on October 31, 1517.

Last week we posted the stories of the wives of two of the most famous Reformers – Katherine Von Bora Luther and Idelette de Bure Calvin. Luther and Calvin both praised their wives and thanked God for the blessings these remarkable women were to them in their lives.

Speaking of pastor’s wives, two other women made contributions to the Reformation as well. Katharina Schutz Zell was known as the “mother vicar of pastor’s wives”. A really interesting woman was Wilibrandis Rosenblatt who was the wife of four men, three of which were pastor’s!!!!

Here are their fascinating stories:

Katharina Schutz Zell (1497 – 1562?)

Katharina Schutz, wife of Matthew Zell, is called the “mother vicar of pastor’s wives”.

Katharina married as a young woman; she was 20 years younger than her husband.

When Katharina married Matthew in 1525 the Reformation had begun. The Zells ministered as a team to their congregation. Katharina was a brilliant woman. She had the ability to put Scriptural truths into words for the common people. Katharina became the Reformation’s leading female author. Martin Bucer said that Katharina was “a trifle imperious” but he also said that she was “God-fearing and courageous as a hero.”

In addition to her writing, Katharina enjoyed a happy family life. Her parents and siblings lived nearby. The family was overjoyed when Katharina gave birth to a child in 1526. But sadly the child died in a few months. Katharina struggled to cope with the loss. Matthew and good friends, like Bucer, tried to comfort her. Katharina gave birth again in 1531 but this child died within two years. Katharina began to worry that God was punishing her. She did come to realize that God gives challenges to his children for their spiritual growth. She could rely on her own experiences to sympathize with others. And there were plenty to sympathize with.

During the German Peasants’ War refugees poured into Strasbourg. Katharina helped to organize Strasburg to deal with 3,000 refugees for a period of 6 months. Katharina opened her own home to care for as many as eighty at one time. Katharina cared for these refugees and wrote to their wives, encouraging them to stand firm in their faith.

At various times, Katharina also hosted other Reformers at her home – John Calvin, Oecolampadius, and Zwingli. During a period of persecution for the Reformers, she hid Bucer and Fagius in her home for several weeks until they could escape to England. Like Bucer said, she was a very courageous woman!

Katharina traveled frequently with her husband, unusual in that day. She showed tolerance and concern for Anabaptists and made frequent visits to those who were imprisoned.

Katharina was widowed in 1548, and spoke at Matthew’s funeral. Bucer sent her to Basel to recover from her grief in the home of Myconius, and then to Zurich. When she felt better emotionally, she returned to Strasburg. Her physical health was failing, but not her zeal.

In 1558 she cared for a Magistrate stricken with leprosy, and a nephew with syphilis. She gave an address at a funeral of a wife of a follower of Schwenckfeld shortly before her own death in 1562. There were no other pastors at the funeral so she just did it herself.

Katharina was praised for developing women’s ministries. She also published a book of Psalms for women to sing. She was constantly entertaining and worshipping in her home.

Katharina produced many other works. Some samples of her writings are: On the Priesthood of Believers (1534) which contains an important, relevant truth – “Teach your household to know that they do not serve human beings but God when they faithfully keep house, obey, cook, wash dishes, wipe up and tend children, and such-like work which serves human life, and that they can also turn toward God with the voice of song. And teach them that in doing this, they please God much better than any priest, monk, or nun in the incomprehensible choir song.”

On Christ Alone and Grace Alone (1548 and 1553) – She wrote – “Christ has power to save us from sins, death, and hell, and to give us eternal life. In Him is all salvation, and in no other creature or work in heaven and earth, for no one comes to the Father, or dares to think of coming to Him except through this living Son of God, who should be honored as the Father is. The one who has Him has everything; He is the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6, 5:23)

The date of Katharina’s death is uncertain. A letter survives dating to March, 1562. But sometime before she died she had written a letter to a friend summarizing her faith in Christ:

“That is my glory . . . in God and Christ, not in myself. I glory that God the Father gave me the gift of faith in His Son (which is not given to everyone), solely out of His gracious love, without any ability or merit on my part.” (Eph. 2:4-8, 19)

Many thousands came to thank the Lord for Katharina’s faithful service in caring for them. Today we can still be blessed by her writings.

 

Wibrandis Rosenblatt

One of the many women who had a significant impact on the Reformation was Wibrandis Rosenblatt (1504 – 1564). Wibrandis was such a gifted and compassionate woman that four men were ready to marry her in order to have someone who was so intelligent and diligent as a life companion.

Wibrandis lived in Basel, Switzerland. She was the daughter of a knight who was frequently off fighting the Emperor’s wars. She lived in the exciting and challenging times of the Reformation.

Because she had four husbands, all Reformers, she has sometimes been jokingly called “The Merry Widow of the Reformation”.

But, Wibrandis deserves much more respect as a woman who supported the goals of the Reformers. Obviously at least four men noticed her strength and godly character and considered her companionship to be very valuable to them in their lives and work. Each one of Wibrandis’s husbands are famous as Reformers. These great men of God knew that their life’s work would be blessed by having such a wife.

Here are the four husbands:
First, Wibrandis married Ludwig Keller around 1524.This marriage lasted about two years. Wibrandis was widowed in 1526 for the first time. During this marriage Wibrandis had one child.

Next, she married Johannes Oecolampadius. Oecolampadius was an older man, probably around 45 years old. He was sickly, but they had three children together before he died leaving her a widow again in 1531.

After this, Wibrandis came to the notice of Wolfgang Capito who had been widowed himself and was still grieving. He took comfort in such a godly woman as Wibrandis and they were married in 1532.  They had five children together before he succumbed to the plague and died in 1541.

Lastly, Wibrandis married the very famous Martin Bucer in 1542. During Reformation times life was often dangerous. Martin and Wibrandis Bucer had to flee to England at one time to save their lives. During this marriage Wibrandis had two more children and they also adopted a child. In 1549 Martin died leaving her a widow for the fourth time.

Wibrandis moved back to Strasbourg with her family. She then relocated to Basel where one of her sons was studying theology. The plague was still rampant and it claimed her as one of its victims in 1564. She was buried next to her second husband. Wibrandis is remembered not only for being such a fine and gifted wife and mother, but also for her years of hospitality. She was always willing to open her home to the less fortunate. In addition to caring for her large family she nursed her mother.

She is truly a model for Christian wives everywhere.

 

 

This week churches all over the world are celebrating the 500th anniversary of one of the most momentous times in history – The Reformation. Historians often credit the beginning of the Reformation with the nailing of his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg by Martin Luther on October 31, 1517.

Everywhere you look you can find materials with the story of Dr. Luther and many of the other Reformers. Most of these pioneering men were married to equally brave wives.

This week we will focus on the stories of the wives of two of the most famous Reformers – Martin Luther and John Calvin.

Here are their stories:

Katharine Von Bora Luther

Katherine came from a noble family of Boras. We don’t know too much about her childhood, except that her mother died when she was 5 or 6. She was then sent to a Benedictine cloister. She received a good education there, and then at age 9 or 10 she went to a Cistercian convent in Nimbschen. When she was 16, she took the nun’s veil. During her 20 years at the convent she learned self-sufficiency, discipline, religious habits, singing, and the art of prayer and reading Scripture. She learned Latin. This would prove very important in her life where God was leading her.  She was an excellent reader and somehow obtained the writings of Luther which she read. She was convinced and converted.

On Easter Sunday night in 1523, in a plan masterminded by Luther, 12 nuns escaped from the cloister with the help of a city councilor named Leonard Koppe. Abducting nuns was a capital crime, so Mr. Koppe helped them escape secretly in a fish wagon. When they got to the town where they were going, they had to marry quickly or try to work on their own. Luther helped them all to find respectable jobs or husbands. All except Katherine.

Katherine had befriended a man whom she wished to marry, but his family would not accept an ex-nun. She was heartbroken. Luther tried to match her with someone else; she refused that man.

Finally, in 1525 he decided to please his parents and irritate the pope and the devil by “getting married with the last ex-nun available in town.” Some people rejoiced in the marriage; others were scandalized. This was not just because it was Luther, but because clergy were only just beginning to get married.

Katherine and Martin had six children of their own. Sadly, two died in childhood. Katherine also cared for six or seven nieces and nephews, and four orphans, along with many others who came under her roof.

Katherine’s home was a Pastor’s and professor’s home, and she set the standard for reformer’s wives. Her convent training enabled her to help Luther run a boarding school for theology students, a hostel for visitors and occasionally her house was turned into a hospital, receiving refugees, providing meals and beds for all, and finding money to cover all the costs. She also made tasty beer.

Katherine managed to finance all of this by raising vegetables and fruit. She raised animals, fished, baked bread, and brewed beer. She increased their wealth by buying land. As an aristocrat, she understood the value of land and talked Luther into buying

two farms and two orchards.

Katherine enjoyed participating in “table talks.” She knew enough Latin and Scripture to join in, much to the annoyance of some at the table who thought her behavior inappropriate for a woman. Apparently though, Luther made no effort to stop her.
     While Katherine was submissive to her husband, it is certain that she contributed much to his ministry.  She certainly helped with his understanding of marriage, love, gender roles, and family life. Martin Luther became a model father, teaching and playing with his children. Katherine remains a model of  the ideal Christian woman.

 

Idelette de Bure Calvin

Not a lot is known about Idelette. Her first marriage was to Jean Strodeur and she had 3 children with him. He died tragically leaving her a widow to raise the children on her own.

When John Calvin decided to marry, he put together a committee in Strasburg (where he had gone in exile from Geneva) to find him a wife. Their attempts failed several times. It seemed that John might remain single.

Then John noticed Idelette, a widow with 3 children. She had a godly character. John realized that she was the widow of the former Anabaptist that he had converted. She was strong in her faith and John knew that she would make a good wife.

 

Their marriage would last nine years, though they both were frequently ill. Further complications arose from family members of his that did not like her, producing periods of family strife.

Idelette and John had two children but one child of theirs died while an infant and she miscarried another. In the process, Calvin, who spoke little of his married life, was deeply touched.

Their relationship softened his heart as a pastor. When she died, he did not remarry, though he would return to Geneva for fifteen more years of reforming work. Idelette’s contribution to the Reformation should not be underestimated. As a wife she helped John Calvin to understand many things about ministering to people that he would have otherwise missed.

 

 

 

In the next few weeks we will talk about some other godly women who contributed to the Reformation through their work with their husbands.

 

 

 

 

This week I watched a beautiful production of the life of Lilias Trotter.

Video:
“Many Beautiful Things: The Life and Vision of Lilias Trotter:

Featuring the voices of Michelle Dockery (Downtown Abbey) and John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings and Indiana Jones)

Directed by award-winning filmmaker Laura Waters Hinson

Original Music:  Sleeping at Last

This video was released in 2015 by Oxvision and is 70 minutes long.

Available at Amazon or Vision Video.

I am going to do a full post on the life of Lilias Trotter in the near future. In the meantime, her story is beautifully told in the video. Below is the description from the video, since I could not improve on their summary.

Description (from the DVD):

Could you give up a dream to pursue your true calling? That’s exactly what Lilias Trotter did.  The documentary Many Beautiful Things shares her life story, explaining the heart-wrenching decision she made to give up comfort and potential fame in Victorian England to serve women and children in Northern Africa.

Lilias was a gifted artist who found favor in the eyes of respected art critic John Ruskin. Ruskin mentored Lilias in her artistic endeavors, seeing such potential that he claimed her work could be “immortal.”  She wrestled mightily with the decision, but eventually moved to French Algeria to share God’s love with the people there—a choice that was almost unheard of for a single woman of that time.

This artistically produced documentary uses Lilias’s paintings and journal entries to share her story. Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) provides the voice of Lilias Trotter and John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones) portrays John Ruskin in this 70-minute documentary. The DVD also includes special features, such as “behind the scenes” with Michelle Dockery and a theatrical trailer.

 

Commentary:

I was so entranced by Lilias Trotter’s life and vision that I researched where one could find more about her including some of her drawings on the Web.

You can get a Miriam Huffman Rockness’s biography, “A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter” on Amazon.com. You can also get books containing reprints of her many inspirational drawings.

There are many places available where you can find prints of her inspirational drawings. I purchased a beautiful print on wood from:

FineArtAmerica.com