Archive for April, 2010

Here is an amazing story of a young woman of courage that I wanted to include in this Blog. I hope that you will go on You-tube and watch the presentation. I also hope that if you feel as strongly about the sanctity of life as I do, that you will support the efforts of all those who are fighting for the lives of unborn babies. LifeSiteNews.com has good stories every day that will help you see how many others are involved in working to promote life.

12-Year-Old Stuns Pro-Choice Teacher and School with Pro-Life Presentation
By Kathleen Gilbert

TORONTO, February 11, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – 12-year-old “Lia” of Toronto has become a star at her school and on Youtube with her five-minute pro-life speech, crafted for a school competition.  Despite discouragement and outright opposition, Lia’s presentation was so well done that she reportedly won the contest she was told she would be disqualified from, due to the “controversial” message of her speech.

The speech is available in its entirety on Youtube, where it has been viewed over 100,000 times and sparked a heated discussion. (See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOR1wUqvJS4&feature=channel_page)

“What if I told you that right now, someone was choosing if you were gonna live or die?” begins the charismatic seventh-grader in a practice recording of the speech posted on Youtube.  “What if I told you that this choice wasn’t based on what you could or couldn’t do, what you’d done in the past, or what you would do in the future? And what if I told you, you could do nothing about it?

“Fellow students and teachers, thousands of children are right now in that very situation.  Someone is choosing without even knowing them whether they are going to live or die.  That someone is their mother.  And that choice is abortion.”

Lia, speaking easily and with sunny enthusiasm, fires off answers to several common objections in the brief speech.

“Why do we think that just because a fetus can’t talk or do what we do, it isn’t a human being yet?”  She asks.  “Some babies are born after only five months.  Is this baby not human?
“We would never say that. Yet abortions are performed on 5-month-old fetuses all the time.  Or do we only call them humans if they’re wanted?

“Think about the child’s rights, that were never given to it. No matter what rights the mother has, it doesn’t mean we can deny the rights of the fetus,” she said. “We must remember that with our rights and our choices come responsibilities, and we can’t take someone else’s rights away to avoid our responsibilities.”

Lia’s mother says that the topic was of her own choosing, and that she was determined not to back down, even after teachers told her it was “too mature” and “too controversial.”

“She was also told that if she went ahead with that topic, she would not be allowed to continue on in the speech competition,” Lia’s mother wrote in the email to the Moral Outcry blog.  “Initially, I tried helping her find other topics to speak on, but, in the end, she was adamant. She just felt she wanted to continue with the topic of abortion. So she forfeited her chance to compete in order to speak on something she was passionate about.”

The mother told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) that the girl’s homeroom teacher was supportive of Lia’s speech even though she was pro-choice.  “After helping Lia do the speech she said, ‘It really got me thinking,'” the mom noted.

At the schoolwide competition, the mom said one pro-choice teacher on the judge’s panel “didn’t even want to hear” the speech, and stepped down from the panel before Lia began.  After the speech, which Lia’s family said was well-received by both students and teachers, the judges initially told Lia she had indeed been disqualified.  But controversy among the judges eventually led to a reversal, and Lia’s family learned the next day that the panel agreed the girl deserved to win the competition.
“There was a big stink about it, and we volunteered to step down … but her teacher said ‘No, she won fair and square, so she’ll keep going on,” said her mom.  Lia is expected to present her speech at a regional competition tomorrow night, representing her school.

When asked what inspired Lia to pursue the topic so adamantly, her mother said it was “a little mystery.”

While the family espouses pro-life Christian values, “it’s not like we’re out every weekend picketing,” she said. “It was just something really deep in her heart, and she just felt really passionate about it.”  She added: “I kind of snicker when I see people on the Youtube video [comment box] saying ‘Oh, her mother forced her to do this’ – I’m like, ‘No, I’m on the other end, trying to make her pick another topic!’ “But she was just really passionate about it, and she has her research on it,” said the mother.  “I really believe it’s just something that God put in her heart.”

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One of the most courageous things any person can do is to be able to say that they are wrong in front of everybody else. Almost anyone will apologize in person to a single individual. Imagine telling the whole town!! That is exactly what the “woman at the well” did.

Being able to forget about yourself and think of others is not a common characteristic these days. But a Samaritan woman (found in the Gospel of John, chapter 4), wanted only to bring others to Jesus. She was able to admit her sins to the whole town in order to get them to consider coming to hear Jesus speak. Many townspeople did go out to hear Jesus and many came to believe in Him.

It had happened that one day Jesus decided to go to Galilee from Judea. He had to pass through Samaria or go around it. The Samaritans and the Jews did not get along, and many travelers just went around it. Jesus was led by the Spirit to go through Samaria. The disciples were with Him. After a long journey they were tired and thirsty and stopped to rest at Jacob’s well near Sychar. It was about the “sixth hour” or around noon.

Jesus’ disciples went to the nearby town to get some food, and while they were gone a woman came to draw water. Our Lord opened up the conversation, “Give Me a drink.” This is an important point. We know that men were not allowed to speak to women in public. And besides, she was a Samaritan. And so, this woman was honestly surprised, “How is it that you ask me for a drink?”

But our Lord had a purpose in mind to bring this woman to belief in Him as Messiah and so He steers the conversation in the direction that He wants it to go. “If you knew the gift of God, and who was asking you, you would ask for living water.” The woman knows by His dress and speech who He is, that He is Jewish, but she really does not get His point yet. But Jesus has at least aroused curiosity in her, and she reacts as if she thinks He means the water in the well. “Sir, you don’t have anything to draw water with, and where will you get that living water?” The woman is still thinking on a physical level. After all, she has the water jug and the means to draw water. Jesus is the one who is thirsty and tired. Here He is by a well and He can’t get any water without her help. How is He supposed to help her?

At this point, Jesus gives her an unexpected answer, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” Jesus had asked her, “If you knew the gift of God,” Jesus is the gift of God. He is the One who offers us eternal life. The water in Jacob’s well can only satisfy a temporary thirst; the living water that He gives will last eternally. The Samaritan woman is still thinking literally, and asks Jesus to give her that living water so that she, “will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.” Again, Our Lord responds in an unexpected manner with, “Go call your husband, and come here.” She responds, “I have no husband.” Jesus commends her honesty, but proceeds to startle her by telling her something only a prophet, or the Son of God, could know. She has had five husbands, and the one she was living with was not her husband. We do not know exactly what her status was, but Jesus’ answer makes the woman realize that Jesus must be a prophet, and so she shifts the conversation to religion. She points up a major difference between the Jewish worship and Samaritan worship. Perhaps she points to Mount Gerizim, seen in the background from where they are sitting. “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain.”

Jesus refuses to be drawn into that discussion. He is the living and true Temple; He is the focus of worship, not a certain mountain. The Messiah does come from the Jews, but an hour is coming when worship will be, “in spirit and truth;” The woman recalls that Messiah will come and declare all things to them. Jesus very plainly tells her, “I who speak to you am He.”

She now knows that the man to whom she was speaking is indeed the Messiah! She left her water pot and ran to the town to tell everyone about Him. “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?” They must have been amazed that she would approach them so openly with her story! They believed her because of her testimony and later many would come to belief in Jesus.

And so, on an ordinary day, an unremarkable, lowly, nameless woman came to meet her Savior. Not only that, but her courage, and the enthusiasm of her testimony led many others to belief in Jesus as Messiah.

The apostle John chose to tell this story even though he had many to choose from. “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25) There is an important lesson here for us.

We see in this story what kind of boldness a follower of Christ will have. The strong woman is able to rise above criticism in order to speak the truth. It takes a courageous person to put her own feelings aside and think about the other people around her. Truly the Samaritan woman is an example of selflessness, courage, and faith for us.

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For by it the people of old received their commendation.” (Hebrews 11:2)

Many graces have been displayed by God’s saints over the years – faithfulness, courage, self-denial, mercy, and obedience. But one characteristic is necessary for all of the others to be displayed – faith.
These graces are not given to us just for our own glory. They are for God’s glory. He is honored when His saints are honored. Jesus Christ will be admired in His saints. So, we must be careful in how we live our lives because Christ’s reputation is at stake.

One who did deny herself to the point of being willing to lose her life was Ahn Ei Sook. (Now she is Mrs. Esther Ahn Kim.) The glory of God was her first and primary goal. She lived in a dangerous time when she was called on to do just that. But what about you and I? Are we called on to sacrifice? Let’s get this into perspective for our times.

Imagine that you are at the monthly church business meeting. Your pastor is there. All of the members of the church board are there. You have gotten through most of the items on the agenda. Things are going along pretty smoothly. Most of the items are routine and not cause for any concern.
Now, the pastor shuffles his papers and somewhat nervously says, “Well, everybody, we have received an application for the new church organist. I know this man and he is openly gay. He is a terrific musician and he says he loves the Lord and would like to serve by using his gift. What do you all say”
Everyone seems to be nodding their heads in agreement, but you say, “I don’t believe that we should hire him. Homosexuality is against God’s law. What will we be saying to the congregation if we put this man in a leadership position?”

Are you feeling uncomfortable right now? Are you thinking of excuses for why you would never say such a thing? Are you thinking that you should not go against the advice of the pastor and the others? I would like to suggest that if you are, you have bought into the political correctness that has been forced on our society for many years now. I would also hope that you would be examining your beliefs in God, in His Word, and in how much faith you really have in His Truth. What is truth, and are you willing to defend it?

Ahn Ei Sook, a Korean woman living through the terrible times that the Japanese occupied Korea in the 1930’s and through 1945, did take a stand for God’s truth. She stood all alone despite certain arrest, imprisonment, and possible execution.

We have read much about the brutality of the Germans against the French During World War II, and of the Japanese against the Chinese, but we do not have many accounts of what the Japanese did to the Koreans.

During their war with China in the 1930’s, the Japanese realized the importance of Korea as a geographical link. They conquered Korea, and began to completely subjugate the country, forcing the Koreans to support their armies. They also tried to force their Japanese culture on the Koreans. Everyone was forced to speak Japanese. They were forced to give their children Japanese names. One of the many things that became obligatory for the Koreans was to worship at the Shinto shrines. Each shrine contained a picture of the Japanese emperor and a picture of the Japanese sun goddess.

Korean Christians had to make a choice. Refusal to obey would result in arrest, harassment, and financial hardship for the families, because they would be outcasts. Some Christians saw the act of bowing as a sign of respect for the Emperor and merely a political expedient. But many Christians, like Ahn Ei Sook, would not bow to the shrine. Not only was the sun goddess an idol, but by the late 1930’s the emperor had become a divine being to the Japanese. To bow to him would be bowing to another god. Ahn Ei Sook would not compromise. Jesus had said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by Me.” She would follow only Christ.

The Japanese especially targeted the leaders of the Korean culture for persecution if they did not obey. In 1939, when Ahn was a teacher at a Christian school, the command came for her school to attend a rally of schools at one of the shrines in the city of Seoul. She didn’t really want to go, but she was pressured by the principal. The principal was a Christian, but she was frightened about the trouble that the Japanese would make for the school. She was more afraid of men than of God.

On the way to the shrine Ahn prayed that God would save her as He did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. She would refuse to serve other gods as they did. She knew however, that God might not save her, even if she did what was right. Still, she would trust in His will. She prayed for strength from God and lined up with the other teachers and students. The Japanese official called out, “Attention! Our profoundest bow to Amaterasu Omikami [the sun goddess]!”

In unison the whole crowd bent over in a deep bow. All except one. There was Ahn, standing up all alone, looking straight up at the sky. Walking away from the shrine later, she thought, “I am dead.” But she had peace and joy inside, knowing that she remained true to Christ.

There were many Christians in the throng who bowed to the idols in the shrine that day. Only Ahn bravely followed Christ alone. She was arrested, imprisoned, and tortured for six years. (For her entire story of courage and faith, I highly recommend her book, If I Perish, published by MoodyPress) By her testimony, she won many to Christ.

And what about you? Are you willing to be the lone voice at the church board meeting defending God’s truth? What have you got to lose? I would like to say that right now, all you would lose is face. Maybe, you might feel like changing churches. We are not in a place in our country yet where you will be arrested and go to jail. However, if we as Christians don’t stand for the truth now, we may find ourselves in that place. The churches in Korea and Germany capitulated to the government during WWII. Are our churches capitulating to our government now?

Examine your heart. Do you have the courage to speak the truth in love in front of others?  If you are uncomfortable speaking God’s truth at church, how do you expect to witness about Christ to others in the world? Will you encourage your church to be a light on the hill? Will we put God’s glory first?

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Abigail Adams

We remember Abigail Adams as the wife of the second President of the United States, John Adams, and mother of the sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams. Abigail Adams is a wonderful example of a courageous woman who lived in colonial America. We sometimes think that women in her station had an easy life. Surely, she must have been pampered and privileged. Actually, she had a difficult life before becoming First Lady. During the struggle of the colonists against Britain, she managed her family farm and ran the family business while her husband was away serving his country.

Abigail was the daughter of a Congregationalist minister, Rev. William Smith. She was educated at home and she learned quickly and she loved to read. That she was very intelligent can be seen in her writings. She and her husband, John Adams, had an affectionate marriage. She was a devoted wife and mother and put her duty above all things.

They had four children, three sons and a daughter. Because John was away for long periods of time, sometimes months or years, Abigail managed the family farm, the business, and the education of their children. However, she still found time to correspond with her husband and with many family members and friends. She loved writing and wrote nearly every day. She also tended to the needs of the poor in her area, feeding them and sewing for them. With what little time she had left over, she managed to educate herself with the help of books.

When it became obvious to all Americans that the British were not going to be reasonable or fair to the colonists she gladly gave her husband up to the cause of freedom. It was a great sacrifice for her. She loved him dearly and he was really needed at the farm. Like many of the other wives who lived during the War for Independence, she took on the responsibilities of the family business herself as her contribution to the war effort. Many of our foremothers rose to the occasion by sacrificing their comforts in order to provide financing and supplies for the soldiers. They also sacrificed their own loved ones; husbands, fathers, and sons were killed. Many families lost their property. Some, like Annis Boudinot Stockton, had their homes looted and then burned down. Annis was left destitute and hungry. This was not uncommon.

Abigail’s farm was not lost, but the war came within a short distance of it. She could go up on a nearby hill and watch the battle. This must have been terribly frightening, but she trusted in God to take care of her and the family. And she was full of feelings of patriotism. One night after witnessing a fearful battle and listening to the tremendous noise from the bombardment, she wrote to John in a letter, “The cannonade is from our army and the sight is one of the grandest in nature.Tis now an incessant roar. Tonight we shall realize more terrible scenes still.” She was full of pride for America when the colonists won the battles. She told her husband that she longed to be away from the sound of the battle and be with him, but she knew where her duty was.

Often during the war disease would spread. Once Abigail nearly lost her son but managed to nurse him to health. She was so ill herself that she could barely move around, but almost everyone else in the neighborhood was ill, too, so she could not depend on anyone else to do it. Around this time, her mother died, and this added to her loneliness and her weariness. Her husband could not come home to console her, but she bravely wrote to tell him that she understood that he was needed by their country, and that he must continue to serve.

She was fiercely loyal to the American cause. After reading the King of England’s proclamation against the colonists she wrote to her husband, “This intelligence will make a plain path for you, though a dangerous one. I could not join today in the petition of our worthy pastor for a reconciliation between our no longer parent state but tyrant state and these Colonies. Let us separate; they are unworthy to be our brethren. Let us renounce them; and instead of supplications, as formerly, for their prosperity, let us beseech the Almighty to blast their counsels and bring to naught all their devices.”  Let the reader understand, these are very brave words. There were British enemies all around them. There were also Tories, who would have gladly gotten into the good graces of the British by turning in “traitors” like Abigail Adams. Don’t forget, because Americans won the war, we think of the Patriots as heroes. History has judged them to have been the ones who were in the right. But in the early part of the war, the outcome was not so sure. The Tories, colonists who supported the British, often had the upper hand and the colonists who were in favor of independence were seen as the traitors. There was a very real threat to Abigail’s home and family. She showed incredible courage to take a stand with her husband as she did.

We have heard a lot about our Forefathers. We owe them a debt of gratitude for the freedom we have today. But we also owe a debt of gratitude to our Foremothers. Women of courage supported the war effort in many amazing ways. It is a shame that in our time, they have been forgotten. But back in their own day, great men were appreciative of their efforts. One of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Rush, said, “The women of America have at last become principals in the glorious American controversy. Their opinions alone and their transcendent influence in society and families must lead us on to success and victory.” Abigail Adams shines as proof of his words.

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Courage:  Most dictionaries merely define this as “bravery”. 

What does it mean to be brave? What characteristics does a brave or courageous woman have?

The women whose stories are in these pages display many exceptional traits. They are wise, dependable, thrifty, energetic, and unselfish. They are good wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends. Some will stand out in one or more of these areas, while others will shine in different areas. But there is one thing they all have in common: they were all very courageous.

How do these women show their courage? Many will exhibit grace under fire. They have a strong presence of mind. They are able to act decisively because they are sure of their convictions.
Strong women will inform themselves when there is a problem. They don’t just rant about problems. They will find solutions, and they will be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Besides being informed, courageous women are also clever and intelligent. They know how to connect the dots. They know how to share and are not afraid of criticism. When they find that they are wrong about something, they readily admit their error. In fact, they rejoice in learning so much that they are glad when someone points out their error so that they can grow and mature. A godly, courageous woman wants only to know God and know Him better. None of us knows everything. It is part of maturity to learn more and grow. A courageous woman can say, “I’m sorry,” and mean it. She is gracious.

Courageous women depend on God. They trust Him and accept His will in their lives. They are willing to accept what God gives them in their lives. When they perceive His will, they put their all into the tasks before them.

Brave women are willing to take a stand for what they believe. They will draw a line in the sand and not cross it. Unjust powers, no matter how fearsome, will not deter them from their righteous goals.
Courageous women also love others. They are unselfish. They put the needs of others ahead of their own. Their own self-esteem is high enough to free them to be able to act independently.

In every woman’s story that I tell, many of these characteristics will shine forth. Courage is the central theme to all of these stories. I am telling these stories so that we can have an example before us of how a victorious life can be lived. We are in uncertain times. Only the courageous woman will get through the perils holding her head up high.

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The stories on this Blog are about courage. The characteristics of courage that Katherine displayed were: willingness to trust God no matter what He brought into her life and wholehearted obedience. She depended on Him, and then when she believed that she knew what His will was she followed Him, trusting in His provision.

Katherine’s mother died when she was very young. Her family sent her to a Benedictine convent at the age of five or six. She remained in cloisters for about twenty years. All of the evidence shows that she accepted her lot in life, and more than that, she tackled the situations that she found herself in with all of her energy. Her willingness to put out the effort to succeed wherever she was would prepare her to be an excellent wife for the esteemed husband that God was preparing her for.

Katherine had been placed in the convent as a young girl to receive an education. Around age ten, she moved from the Benedictine cloister to a Cistercian convent in Nimbschen. When she was 16, she took the veil of a nun after one year as a novice.

We are not sure if she felt a strong calling to the religious life or if she was there because her father and stepmother wished it. As I mentioned before, many noble women were placed in a convent by their parents for a set period of time. Some might leave the convent if they could get a good marriage. Others might go home to help with family affairs. Many remained indefinitely. It was a good life. Their noble families sent endowments to the convents to pay their way and they basically lived a life of comparative ease. They did not do physical work. They had servants for that.

Katherine’s family was not well off, but she was accepted in the Cistercian convent anyway. She had two aunts at the convent in Nimbschen already. Her maternal aunt may have been the abbess, and her paternal aunt another nun. There seems to have been some indication that she stayed at the convent because her stepmother was not eager to have her back.

Katherine did well at the convent. She learned excellent habits from her daily routine as a nun. She acquired considerable skills in reading and studying. She learned Latin, which enabled her to understand the theological writings of the scholars of that day. Besides studying, Scripture recitation, praying, and singing she held some kind of an office in the convent along with the other sisters. We are not sure what that office was, but she learned how to do all of the tasks necessary to run the cloister efficiently. All of these abilities would later enable her to manage her household as the wife of a busy and famous minister whose time was much in demand.

Knowing Latin enabled her to read the writings of Martin Luther. These writings were already widespread by the early 1520’s. Besides the theological differences that Luther had with the Roman Catholic Church, he questioned the monastic life. His writings caused quite a stir in many convents. One of his converts was Katherine. Once she became convinced that Luther was right, she made the brave decision to leave the convent. She was convinced that his arguments were Scripturally correct, and she could no longer remain there, even though convent life was a secure life. She wanted to follow God no matter what it might cost her.

There were 11 other sisters who also wanted to leave because of their new convictions.  They needed some help. Lone women just didn’t walk out of a convent. Where would they go? Who would protect them on the road?

Martin Luther himself thought of a plan to help them escape. On Easter Saturday night, April 4, 1523, Katherine and the 11 other nuns escaped from the convent with the help of Leonard Koppe, a city councilor and merchant, who smuggled them out in a fish wagon. Koppe was also taking a risk because it was against the law to “abduct” nuns. He could face the death penalty.

These women were very brave. They had security in the cloisters. They had a comfortable life. They had an honorable career. As “brides” of Christ, they would always be cared for by the church. Now, these 12 women did not really know what would happen to them. The church would no longer support them. Some could go back to their families, if their families would have them, but since they converted to Protestantism, they were often disowned by their families.

They could not get a career where they could use all of their learning. That was forbidden to women at that time. So those who had no family were forced to marry quickly or try and get a job of some sort and live with a family or friends for protection. There was no such thing as a “working woman” then. Eleven of the women who escaped were married quickly. Husbands were found for them.

At first, no husband was found for Katherine, and she didn’t seem eager to obtain one.
Katherine’s father was dead by this time. It did not seem that returning to her family was an option. So, in the beginning of her new life away from the security of the convent, she stayed with a friend in Wittenberg. Here her duties included managing her friend’s household. She met a young man while in Wittenberg and fell in love. He wanted to marry her, but his family forbade it. Katherine was not acceptable because of her poverty. The family was not happy to get an ex-nun for a daughter-in-law either. So, her young man married a younger, and richer, woman.

Eventually, Luther, who had not been in a hurry to marry either, approached Katherine.

To be continued…..

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Anne Askew

Anne was an English poet and Reformer who was persecuted as a heretic. She is the only woman on record to have been tortured in the Tower of London before being burnt at the stake.

Born at Stallingboroug in 1521, the daughter of a nobleman, she was forced by her father, Sir William Askew to marry when she was just fifteen.

Her marriage did not go well, not least because of her strong Reformed beliefs. Her husband turned her out of the house. She then went to London. Henry VIII was on the throne at this time. There was much strife between Reformers and Catholics. While many people think that Henry was a Protestant because he broke with the Pope, his own beliefs remained very much Catholic. The main difference was that he made himself the head of the Church in England and forced everybody to take an oath of allegiance to him. He also used the antagonisms between the Reformers and the Catholics to achieve his political goals. While they were fighting amongst themselves, he maintained much power.

In London, Anne proclaimed Christ wherever she went and distributed Reformed books. These books had been banned and so she was arrested. That was the pretext, but there was also another reason why she was arrested. It seems that as a noblewoman she had access to the royal court. Apparently she knew some of the royal women, including the Queen who was known to be sympathetic to the Reformed cause. Henry VIII was near death. The Catholics and Reformers were wrangling over positions of power and each wanted control of the throne. Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor, Thomas Wriothesley and Richard Roth were two high ranking Catholics who saw their chance to get evidence against Queen Katherine Parr and put her out of favor with Henry VIII. They decided to do something never done before – torture a woman, and not just any woman, but a noble woman.

Sir Anthony Kingston, the Constable of the Tower of London, was ordered to torture Anne in an attempt to force her to name other Reformers, especially those of a high rank, and so Anne was put on the rack. However, Kingston refused to carry on torturing her on the grounds that it was not the custom to torture women, and especially one from a noble family, thus he could no longer partake in such an abominable act. Kingston ran away from the Tower and sought a meeting with King Henry VIII at his earliest convenience to explain his position. Henry VIII listened, but did not say that there should be an end to the torture. Sir Anthony refused to do it anymore, so now it was left to Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor, Thomas Wriothesley, and Richard Roth, to take over.

According to Anne’s own account – and that of jailors within the Tower – she was tortured only once.  She was taken from her cell to the lower room of the White Tower to where the torture chamber was situated, at about ten in the morning. She was shown the rack and asked if she would name those who believed as she did. Although she never said so, she must have realized that the intention of her interrogators was to implicate Katherine Parr, the Queen Consort.  (The Sixth and last wife of Henry VIII.) She bravely refused to implicate the queen or any of the other women.

She was asked to remove all her clothing except her shift, which she did. Anne then climbed onto the rack and lay quite still as she was spread-eagled and her wrists and ankles were fastened. Again, she was asked for names, but she would say nothing. The wheel of the rack was turned, pulling Anne along the device and lifting her so that she was held taut about 5 inches above its bed and slowly stretched. In her own account written from prison, Anne said that she fainted with the pain and that she was then lowered and revived. This procedure was repeated twice more before the Lieutenant of the Tower stopped it, and went to complain to the King.

Left on their own Wriothesley and Rich may have been worried: they had put a noble woman to torture with no result. They were unable to persuade the professional torturers to carry on, so they set to work themselves. The rack was worked by a wheel at the head, and in the first stage this was turned and held taught by hand. For more reluctant prisoners, a ratchet could be applied which stopped the rack going slack between turns. Wriothesley and Rich put the ratchet on, and went to work stretching Anne. Apart from the pain of stretching muscles and cracking joints, the rack also constricted the wrists and ankles, causing blood to flow from the fingernails. Anne’s cries could be heard in the garden next to the White Tower where the Lieutenant’s wife and daughter were walking. So piteous were the cries that they turned indoors and shut the windows. In spite of this terrible treatment, Anne gave no names and her ordeal was ended when the Lieutenant returned and ordered her to be returned to her cell to await her execution.

Here she wrote a first-person account of her arrest and torture, and put forth all of her beliefs. This was published as the “Examinations” by Protestant Bishop John Bale, and later in John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments of 1563, which proclaims her as a Protestant martyr.

Anne Askew was carried to her execution in a chair, as she could not walk after her torture. She was dragged from the chair to the stake which had a small seat attached to it, which she sat astride. Those who witnessed her execution (including Lady Jane Grey) were very impressed by her bravery, and many witnesses reported that throughout the long execution she did not scream until the flames reached her chest whereas the three men burned with her cried out from the first touch of the fire. Undoubtedly Anne was very brave but she may also have been so badly damaged on the rack that she had lost the feeling in her legs and perhaps even below the waist. She was burned at the stake at Smithfield, London, aged 25, on July 16, 1546. Her testimony at the stake, and also the published writings of her torture and burning inspired many who came after her. She had given her all for her Lord, Jesus Christ.

She died only a few months before Henry VIII died. Henry’s only son, Edward, succeeded him to the throne.

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What an unlikely wife a runaway nun would make. How incredible then, that God would choose such an unusual woman to be the helpmeet for the man who would be the founder of the Great Reformation. How great is God to fashion and prepare such a remarkable woman to be the spouse, partner, and sustainer of  one of the most famous religious men of all times.

Katherine von Bora Luther lived her new life in Christ to the fullest, setting an example of the godly woman for all wives and mothers.

How did this all come about and why was she so well-suited for her famous husband, Martin Luther?

Let us begin by looking at the culture in which she grew up.

In the early 16th century women had few options outside of marriage or living as a spinster with a rich relative. Many chose to follow a religious or monastic life instead.

For some time the institutional church had degenerated into mere ritualism. There was a reaction to this dead formalism and so there were many monasteries founded in Europe. Men and women sought spiritual depth and closeness to God. They wanted to live the Gospel commands in their every day life, and so they formed societies where they could obey Christ as they believed.

In these monasteries, or cloisters, monks and nuns prayed day and night for the souls of the people in their communities. They were also expected to live a virtuous life, committed to poverty, chastity, and obedience. Some stayed in their cloisters and provided for themselves only. Many did charitable work outside of the monasteries and convents. These would mostly take care of the poor, finding food, medicine, and clothing for them.

As these monasteries, and later the convents, grew in popularity, they also gained the approval of the church. They had support from the church and from wealthy patrons. Often a rich person would leave money, or land, or both in exchange for the promise that the nuns or monks would pray for their souls daily while they continued to live and perpetually after their deaths.

In Katherine’s time the convents were often the place of education for women. Wealthy people would send their daughters there to learn the arts, music, drama, languages, and other subjects. These women were being educated before being married into an influential family. Other girls, who were the second or third born in a wealthy family, and had not the expectation of a large dowry, might stay on in the convent as a place of protection. Some girls of a lower rank in societal circles who could not get a good “match” might also choose to stay in the convent as a vocation. Their wealthy families were expected to pay their way. Many took the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and became nuns.

The highest-ranking nun was called an “abbess”. She had a lot of power and ruled pretty much independently. The convents were overseen by the church,  but as long as things went along smoothly they were left alone. Many convents were democratic and nuns were voted into the various positions of leadership that were available according as each was gifted and willing.

Katherine was first sent to a Benedictine convent at the age of five or six. She remained in cloisters for about twenty years. Her experiences would prepare her to be an excellent wife for her esteemed husband.

To Be Continued . . . . .

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“Every man did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6b)
During the times of the Judges in the Old Testament, God’s people were struggling to be obedient to Him. The book of Judges recounts for us the cyclical nature of Israel’s history during this time. For some years, the people would follow God, and would enjoy His blessing of peace. At some point, they would sin by beginning to follow other gods. God would bring judgment against them, usually in the form of a foreign enemy that would conquer them. After much misery at the hands of these cruel oppressors, the Israelites would cry out to God for relief. He would have mercy on them and raise up a rescuer, a Judge, who would lead them against their enemies. God would help them to be victorious and they would have peace again for many years. But then, they would sin, and the cycle would start again.

Our story takes place during one such cycle. “Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, after Ehud died. And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; and the commander of his army was Sisera.” (Judges 4:1,2)

God would have mercy on His people again, but in a unique way. The other recorded Judges were men. But now, God raised up a remarkable woman – Deborah, who was also a prophetess. I will tell more of her story sometime in the future. We shall focus now on another courageous, but little remembered woman in that story – Jael.

The commander of the Israelite army, Barak, engaged King Jabin’s troops in a battle. Barak wiped out all of the enemies except the general, Sisera, who escaped on foot.

Sisera fled to the tent of our heroine, Jael. Her husband, Heber, a Kenite, had made a pact with Jabin, and so Sisera expected to be safe in her tent.

As Sisera came running in her direction, Jael beckoned him to come into her tent. She covered him with a rug to hide him. He then asked her for a drink of water. He was very tired and thirsty after the battle. Instead, she gave him a drink of milk and covered him up again. Sisera asked her to keep watch and tell anyone who might come by asking after him that he was not there.  He fell sound asleep, exhausted.

“But Jael, Heber’s wife, took a tent peg and seized a hammer in her hand, and went secretly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went through into the ground….So he died.” (Judges 4:21)  God had defeated Israel’s enemies by delivering their leader into the hand of a woman as Deborah the prophetess had foretold.

God used a courageous woman to help to defeat Israel’s enemy. Why did He choose this particular woman? What was so special about her and her act of bravery?

Some say that what she did was not courageous. They say that she heard from someone passing by that King Jabin’s army had been defeated and that Sisera was on the run. they assert that She just wanted to join the winning side and thought she could be the heroine if she betrayed Sisera. They say that she used a cowardly trick to dispatch him from this life. The Scriptures tell us otherwise.

In reality, Jael knew she would face approbation from her husband and her husband’s family for her treatment of Sisera. She knew that she had violated the very strict laws of hospitality that were followed in those days. She also knew that she could face the possibility of being put to death for assassination. The Kenites were supposed to be neutral in this war. Her act would have been seen as betrayal by her people. And, she took a very real risk of having to defend herself against a mighty warrior if he should awaken before she was able to complete his execution.

And so I believe that she was courageous and she feared God rather than men. There was a line that she would not cross. Her life was in danger, but she chose to do what was right. The Scriptures tell us that she was blessed for what she did. Deborah made a song of that great victory over God’s enemies and proclaimed, “Most blessed of women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite.’ (Judges 5:24).

I believe that Jael had faith in God, and this is why she chose to follow Him no matter what. It is my prayer that this story of strength and courage from God displayed in Jael will enable you to follow Him when you have hard choices to make.

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Do you really like the idea of having to go through a full body scan machine that will expose your naked body to the workers at the airport who are supposedly there to protect you? Is this an invasion of your privacy or not? Why would you let anyone do this to you? Why would your husband allow men to see your body in the name of protecting us from terrorism?

An incident occurred last winter which the government is using to justify taking away your right to privacy. A man, a supposed terrorist, tried to get on an airplane with a small bomb sewn to his underwear. Now the government says that we must have these humiliating machines in every airport and force everyone through them. But why? Do you remember that the supposed terrorist went through one of those machines before getting on the plane? The machine did not catch him. What sort of insanity is this?

Why are people remaining silent about this?

Perhaps Sophie Scholl, a victim of Nazi injustice during WWII can help us understand.

“The real damage is done by those millions who want to ‘survive.’ The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves—or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honour, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.”       Sophie Scholl

As long as we seek safety at the expense of our freedoms, as long as we think or believe that the government can keep us safe, as long as we are too afraid to speak up, those who want to control us will place more and more curbs on our freedom.

Sophie Scholl was only 21 years old when she was killed by the Nazi’s for passing out leaflets which criticized the war. She took a stand and then acted on it. She hoped that others would follow.

An excellent movie has been made that tells the story of this daring heroine.

“Sophie Scholl: The Final Days” –  This film is in German with English subtitles, but don’t let that keep you from viewing this award winning movie. It was very well directed. Though you know how it’s going to end, it is very suspenseful right up until the final scene. You find yourself hoping that somehow it will all come out all right anyway.

Sophie and her brother Hans, and their friend, Christof were all executed. It is significant that only moments before they go to a room where they will face the guillotine, Christof says, “It was not in vain.”

It was not in vain. Their courage inspired many German people to resist the war. We learn in the epilogue to the movie that, after their executions, a sixth leaflet was smuggled to England by way of Scandinavia. Allied planes then dropped millions of copies of the leaflet over Germany.

Sophie’s defense at her trial should cause you to examine your heart and ask yourself if you are ready to assume personal responsibility for fighting for freedom. She maintained her poise and showed much grace under fire. Her belief in her cause sustained her to the end.

I am not just writing these posts to the Blog to tell great stories. Anyone can go online and find out all of the information on these wonderful women that they wish. I hope to encourage women in our day to take a stand against injustice. I deliberately choose stories that were about something that was happening in their times because it is also relevant to our times. We are losing our freedoms left and right because no one is taking a stand.

Nor do I just want to rant and rave as so many do on other websites. I hope that readers will be informed and encouraged and motivated. But I will not leave off with just the concern. I will try to give you something you can do. Right now, that something is easy: it will only take a few moments of your time. Contacting your representatives is easy and we have the freedom to do it. In this situation let them know:

  1. The scanning machines are unconstitutional. – They invade our right to privacy.
  2. The scanning machines are not needed and are too expensive. The machines did not catch the “underwear bomber” did they? Wouldn’t our hard earned tax dollars be better spent somewhere else?
  3. There are grave health concerns. They disrupt DNA replication. Further study needs to be done before they are put into use.

Will you just go through the scanning machine like a defeated sheep displaying your most intimate body parts to government bureaucrats, or will you protest? Will you write to or call your representatives now and tell them that you will not stand for this? Or will you put it off until it is too late. They have websites. Please get on them now before you leave your computer. Sophie warned us, “If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion.” Yes, the bogeyman will find you. Let’s not let this happen. Next stop, the guillotine.

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