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Archive for October, 2010

“Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life risked their own necks..” (Romans 16:3,4a)

When the apostle Paul came to the great city of Corinth, he went looking for a job. He found a couple who had set up business as tentmakers. He was happy about this since that was his occupation, too.  This husband-wife team was Aquila and his wife Priscilla. It is interesting that in all but one of the other references in the Bible to this couple, Priscilla is named first. And so, the Bible refers to them as a wife-husband team!

We usually think that in Bible times women had to be silent and stay in the background. Yet the apostle Paul gives great honor to Priscilla. Let’s see why. First, here is what we know about her.

Priscilla (or sometimes called more formally, Prisca) and her husband had apparently met and married in Rome. She had come from a noble Roman family. Aquila was a Jew from Pontus. They had a flourishing tent making business.

In 49 A.D., the emperor Claudius expelled all of the Jews from Rome. So, Priscilla and Aquila moved their business to Corinth. Corinth was the New York City of the first century. It was a major port with a very long history. The people there were as wealthy as anyone could be in those times. They were living there when Paul came around the spring of AD 51.

The three of them worked very hard at their trade. We are not sure if Priscilla and Aquila were converted to Christianity when Paul first met them, but they surely were converted very soon while he stayed in Corinth. Paul founded a church there and after eighteen months of ministry with his new team, the three of them left and went to Ephesus.

Because of their great wealth, Priscilla and Aquila were able to open their home for church meetings. They did this while living in Corinth, Ephesus and later in Rome.

Paul trusted Priscilla and Aquila enough to leave them in Ephesus while he went to Antioch. They opened another branch of their tent making business. They took complete charge of the mission in Ephesus.

A gifted man, named Apollos, came soon after. He was very knowledgeable in the Hebrew Scriptures (the only ones the New Testament believers had!) and he was an eloquent speaker. He was not completely up to date on the Gospel message however. Priscilla and Aquila taught him “the way of God more accurately.” (Acts 18:26) With their help, Apollos went on to be a powerful preacher. The Bible says that Priscilla and Aquila took him aside. We can see from this that Priscilla played an active role in instructing him. She was not just in the background quietly serving refreshments. She was helping to teach Apollos.

She was very successful at her business and there were other successful businesswomen mentioned by Paul as well. There was Lydia, whom Paul had already met in Philippi. (see the posting about Lydia on this Blog.) There was also Chloe, who ran a business in Ephesus. These women all became zealous helpers for Paul. God used them mightily in this way to help spread the Gospel.

Eventually Priscilla and Aquila would end up in Rome. We know this, because Paul sent them affectionate greetings when he wrote a letter to the Roman Christians. There, he also greets the church which is in their house.

Paul tells us that Prisca and Aquila “risked their own necks” to save his life. We do not know the details of that story, but Priscilla is surely to be admired for her courage.

According to tradition, Priscilla and Aquila ended their lives as martyrs.

It is truly wonderful to see this example of a husband and wife team working together, not only at their business, but also in their mission. What a privilege it is for a woman when her husband has a business that she can be a partner in. In a day when women are wondering about whether or not they should be working outside of the home, perhaps they should be considering starting home businesses with their husbands. Or even just starting a home business themselves. There are many, many clever women with an entrepreneurial spirit who have started home businesses. Of course, if the children are small, that is the wife’s first business. But, when the children are older or out of the nest, it is wonderful for women to be able to do something worthwhile.

We should be serving the Lord with the gifts He has given us. Priscilla certainly did!

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Pro-choice?!! I say let’s GIVE THE CHOICE TO THE BABY! Let’s ask the baby what she wants and let her choose. Will she choose life, or will she choose a horrible death by dismemberment or burning by saline solution and eventual suction of her body parts out of her mother’s womb. What do you think she might choose if you asked her?

The women who call themselves ‘pro-choice’ are really hypocrites. They are not the ones whose lives are at stake. They are not the ones who are living helpless in a supposed place of safety – a mother’s womb- hoping that that person who created their life will nurture and care for them. These women are really playing ‘God’.

But only God really gets to choose. He is the author of all of life and He does not allow human beings to murder other human beings.

And that is what abortion is – it’s murder. It is not a ‘choice’.

Here are the stories of two special people who were not killed, because their mothers knew that God had given them a baby and they would accept that baby as from His hand.  These mothers did not know that their children would grow up to be international stars. These mothers simply knew that it was the right thing to do to let their babies live. These mothers knew that only God has the choice. They acted out of love for their babies.

This Blog is about courageous women, but we will include one man here because his story is really about his mother.

“What would the world have been like without Andrea Bocelli, Italian pop, opera, and classical singer? With millions of infants having been victim to abortion, the blind international music sensation has revealed that he too could have been one more abortion statistic,” states Peter J. Smith of LifeSiteNews. (Rome, June 4, 2010)
Andrea Bocelli has been active in a project known as the Whole Life Initiative, which is dedicated to promoting “a respect for the intrinsic dignity of the human person regardless of ability, age, status, ethnicity or sex.”

His own story is very special. He tells it this way:

A young woman was hospitalized and treated for a simple attack of appendicitis. The doctors suggested to his mother that she abort the child because the  child would be born with a disability. “But the young brave wife decided not ot abort,and the child was born,” recounts Bocelli. “That woman was my mother, and I was the child.” Bocelli was born in 1958 to Alessandro and Edi Bocelli. At his birth, doctors diagnosed him as having congenital glaucoma, and by age 12 he was completely blind. 
“Maybe I am partisan, but I can say it was the right choice,” said Bocelli.

Millions of Bocelli’s fans worldwide would agree. In spite of this disability, Bocelli developed a passion for music, that would lead to a career of international hit singles, eight operas, and 70 million copies of his albums.  For years Bocelli used to be an agnostic, but returned to his Christian Catholic faith in 1994 in part due to reading the works of Leo Tolstoy, which are said to have convinced him that life was not random chance, but had a purpose. 
Bocelli said he hoped that the story of his brave mother “could encourage many mothers that find themselves in difficult situations in those moments when life is complicated, but want to save the life of their baby.” (see LifeSiteNews.com for the complete article)

Andrea Bocelli is devoting much time to encouraging other young mothers to carry their babies to birth. He has a video on YouTube and there are other inspiring stories on at the website – IamWholeLife.com.

Another amazing star who has recently told the public that she almost did not live to see the light of day is the singing phenomenon Susan Boyle.

In an article in LifeSiteNews.com, Susan tells her story:

The 49-year-old native of Blackburn, a village in West Lothian, Scotland would never have dreamed the dream of singing on the international stage, if her mother had agreed to abort her on the advice of doctors. In her autobiography, The Woman I Was Born To Be, Susan reveals that doctors recommended a “termination” to her mother, Bridget Boyle, who already was a mother of eight children, because they feared physical complications. Susan said that her mother rejected this advice as “unthinkable” since she was a “devout Catholic.”

When she was born by emergency c-section, doctors did not tell her mother the usual “Congratulations, Mrs. Boyle! A beautiful baby girl.” Susan wrote that doctors took a dismissive view of her life – especially when they suspected brain damage due to oxygen deprivation.

“‘It’s probably best to accept Susan will never be anything,” Susan recounted the doctors telling her mother. “‘Susan will never come to anything so don’t expect too much of her.’”

“I’m sure they had the best of intentions,” she continued, “but I don’t think they should have said that, because nobody can foretell the future.” “What they didn’t know was that I am a bit of a fighter, and I’ve been trying all my life to prove them wrong.” (You can read the rest of her story on LifeSiteNews.com. I encourage you to check in to their site daily and read how many people are fighting for the rights of the unborn.)

No baby is a “mistake”. It may seem that way to the doctors sometimes, but God has created these little ones and he will give the mothers and fathers the courage to care for them. No doctor has the right to tell a mother to kill her child just because the child may be less than perfect. No woman has the right to ‘choose’ to kill her child for the sake of her convenience.

And God has blessed us with the gifts and talents He has given these amazing people whose mothers were brave enough to let them live. What would our world be like without them?

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Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

“The evidence of things not seen.” That is what Darlene Deibler put her trust in when she was interred in a Japanese prison camp during World War II. Things went from horrible to nightmarish when she was sent to Kempeitai, a prison known for torture and murder of prisoners. Expecting to be beaten or killed at any minute, she could still say that faith was “what I put my trust in. . . . in the unchanging Person of Jesus Christ.”  Suddenly she realized that she was singing:

When darkness veils His lovely face,          
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high ad stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

Darlene and her husband Russell had been called by the Lord to serve as missionaries in New Guinea. She was the first white woman that many of the natives had ever seen. They had been working with the Dyaks for only a short time when they heard the announcement over a primitive radio that Pearl Harbor had been bombed by the Japanese.

The Japanese quickly took over many of the islands in the Pacific. The missionaries had a very short time to decide if they wanted to stay or leave. After much prayer, they decided to stay. This decision turned out to be the correct one, since the ship they would have left on was torpedoed and sunk only three days later. Darlene said, “It is imperative that we know the voice of the Shepherd and learn to follow Him when He speaks.” She would lean on His voice over the next four years of hardship and heartache. The men and women were eventually separated and sent to different prison camps. Her husband, Russell, would die of disease less than two years later.

At first Darlene was in a women’s prison camp called ‘Kampili’. The Japanese commander made her a barracks leader. Life was hard, but she showed respect to those in charge and avoided trouble.

One day, a spy maliciously gave a false report about her and she was hauled off to Kempeitai, a place of terror, where many were never heard from again. Here, her trust in God would be severely tested. She would go through a dark time, but ultimately remember that Christ is her solid Rock. God graciously spared her, and when you read her story your faith in God’s goodness will increase.

Darlene would be miraculously released from Kempeitai and sent back to the main women’s prison camp. There she would minister to others. Though she was ill all of the time, she actually praised God for His goodness. It is hard for us to imagine here in our comfortable homes how anyone could be thankful for the misery that she underwent. But, Darlene listened as the still, small voice promised her, “My grace is sufficient for you.” (IICorinthians 12:9)

She really needed this comfort when the Allies started bombing the prison camp (the prisoners were not sure why) and the women and children had to hide in knee deep mud in trenches or in wild forests.

I am not going to tell any more of the story. If you really want a boost to your faith, please read the book. Evidence Not Seen: A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II, by Darlene Deibler Rose. (Harper Collins Publishers, originally published in 1988. The newer book has an update written in 2003, which tells how this faithful woman has continued to serve Christ even into old age.) Darlene went to be with the Lord in 2004.

At the beginning of the War, the Lord had given Darlene this verse; Deuteronomy 33:12, “The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him; and the Lord shall cover (overshadow) him all the day long and he shall dwell between His shoulders”. This promise of God was not only the cornerstone of her faith during her internment, but demonstrated that God is able to do abundantly exceedingly above all that she could ask or think as this promise remained the firm foundation of her faith all her days on this earth.

Darlene’s story has been a great encouragement to me. It has shown how God loves His children and takes care of them. He does not always give us an easy life. When He allows trials into our lives, He is there to comfort and to teach us to grow. When things are going right for us, we tend to forget God. When we are put into perilous situations, that is when we see His might and power. Reading Darlene’s story will boost your faith!

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More Good Books on Women

From time to time I am asked where I hear about all of the women that I write about. It is difficult to find a whole book written about lesser known women, but there are some great works by a woman who has dedicated much time to telling the stories of women in history.

These books by Ruth Tucker are well researched and very interesting to read. I highly recommend them. She has written many other books about Missions as well, if that is a subject you are interested in. One, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, includes the stories of single women missionaries.

—  Tucker, Ruth A., Guardians of the Great Commission: The Story of Women in Modern Missions, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, 1988)

BACK COVER: “In the early years of the modern missionary movement, women were denied the right to function as bona fide missionaries. However, as wives of missionaries many of them served with distinction. On the home front women zealously supported the cause of missions through fund-raising, publicity campaigns, and prayer circles.
It did not take long before the barriers that kept women from serving as missionaries were broken down. Needs overseas were overwhelming, and missionary wives appealed to their single sisters back home to come and join them. During the last half of the nineteenth century women took up the challenge and went to the mission fields of the world. They soon became a majority – as is still true today.”

This book includes the stories of over 40 women. The role that women have played in missions in the last 200 years is phenomenal, but most people could probably not name more than a few. Ruth Tucker has remedied that situation by writing this book. It is the fascinating story of how women have helped to bring the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to the lost all over the entire world.

—  Tucker, Ruth A., Liefeld, Walter, Daughters of the Church: Women and Ministry From New Testament Times to the Present, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, 1987)

BACK COVER: “Rich in historical events and colorfully written, this fascinating account of women in the church spans nearly two thousand years of church history. It tells of events and aspirations, determination and disappointment, patience and achievement that mark the history of daughters of the church from the time of Jesus to the present.”

Whether you want to read the entire history of how God has used women in the last 2000 years, or focus in on a certain time period, you will find well-researched and documented stories of these women. This volume also has many wonderful pictures, appendixes, and a great 30-page bibliography for further research.

Other books containing multiple stories of women in history are:

—  Zahl, Paul F. M., Five Women of the English Reformation, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, 2001)

SYNOPSIS:  This book contains the stories of five very courageous women who lived in the sixteenth century. You will find a short account of the lives of several of them on this Blog under “Historical Women”. The book covers:
—  Anne Boleyn (1507 – 1536)
—  Katharine Parr (1514 – 1548)
—  Jane Grey (1537 – 1554)
—  Anne Askew (1521 – 1546)
—  Catherine Willoughby (1520 – 1580)

—  Anderson, James, Memorable Women of he Puritan Times, (General Books, Great Britain, 2009)

SYNOPSIS: In this book you will find the stories of Mary Cromwell, Lucy Apsley, Katharine Boyle, Elizabeth Bunyan (Mrs. John Bunyan of Pilgrim’s Progress), Rachel Wriothesley, Elizabeth Gaunt, Bridget Ireton, and many others who were married to famous Puritans.

This book is copied from an original manuscript and is difficult to read in places. Once you get used to the style, it is not too bad. But the stories are will worth your time and effort. (The publisher has made available digital copies on their website which you can get.)

—  MacArthur,  John, Twelve Extraordinary Women: How God Shaped Women of the Bible and What He Wants to Do With You, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 2005)

BACK COVER: “Celebrated for their courage, vision, hospitality, and spiritual giftedness, it’s no wonder women were so important to God’s plan revealed in the Old and New Testaments. It wasn’t their natural qualities that made these women extraordinary but the power of the one true God whom they worshipped and served.”

The twelve women are: Eve, Sarah, Rahab, Ruth, Hannah, Mary the Mother of Jesus, Anna, the Samaritan Women, Martha and Mary, Mary Magdalene, and Lydia. I am sure that the stories of these women will be as inspiring to you as they are to me. John MacArthur has researched their lives and given us many interesting details that we may not have known before. He tells their stories in such a way that you can relate to these women. They are not just ‘super-spiritual’ beings. They are real flesh and blood women, many of them poor. But they all had one thing in common – they courageously followed the Lord.

My most recent post was about Gianna Jessen. Here is a book you can get to find out more about this remarkable woman. An updated book is coming out in January, 2011.

—  Shaver, Jessica, Gianna: Aborted . .  and Lived to Tell About It, (Focus on the Family Publishing, Colorado Springs, 1995)

BACK COVER: “God is using Gianna Jessen to remind the world that each human being is precious to Him. It is beautiful to see the strength of the love of Jesus which He has poured into her heart. My prayer for Gianna, and for all who listen to her, is that this message of God’s love will put an end to abortion. Let us fight abortion with the power of love.”   Mother Teresa

This book traces the miraculous story of Gianna’s life beginning with the time her mother has made the decision to abort her. The most amazing thing that comes shining through in Gianna’s testimony is her faith in Christ.

In January, 2011, an updated version of   —  Gianna: Aborted . . and Lived to Tell About It, will be available. Here is the review from Amazon.com.

“Gianna Jessen picks up her life story where the book Gianna originally left off. She details her incredible experiences since then, including meeting George Bush and Tony Blair and opposing abortion before legislatures across the globe. (Excerpts from some of her addresses are included). She describes her life mission and desire to not live an ordinary life. Some personal achievements are mentioned such as participating in a marathon. She concludes by addressing a series of FAQs. Over 203,000 copies sold in previous editions.”

 

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My son (or daughter) . . . keep sound wisdom and discretion, so they will be life to your soul and adornment to your neck. Then you will walk in your way securely and your foot will not stumble.” Proverbs 3:21-23

A beautiful picture of one of Christ’s daughters is Gianna Jessen. Her wisdom is truly an adornment around her neck. God has blessed her and given her a secure walk with Christ. Certainly, her foot does not stumble as she goes through life telling her amazing story of God’s love and grace.

If you want to see what a woman of courage looks like, watch the video of Gianna’s speech before the government officials at Queens Hall, Parliament House, in Victoria, Australia. She had been invited there by the Ad Hoc Interfaith Committee to speak out against abortion.

You see, Gianna is a survivor of a saline abortion. She should have been born dead. Instead, after 18 hours of burning up in her mother’s womb in the saline solution, she was born alive. Due to oxygen deprivation during the abortion, she was born with Cerebral Palsy. What is so amazing is that instead of being bitter against God, she is thankful for the opportunity to know Christ and depend on Him.

Faithful followers of Christ are also told that they will “stand before kings”. Gianna did not stay home and feel sorry for herself. She has praised God publicly for the chance to use her affliction and He has given her opportunities to “stand before kings.” This speech at Queens Hall was given on the eve of the debate to decriminalize abortion in Victoria. (September 10, 2008) You can watch this fearless woman of faith bravely stand before the civil representatives and testify for the right to life on”youtube.com”.  Just go to Google and search for her name. There are a number of other amazing videos that you can see as well.

Another group of “kings” which Gianna had the opportunity to stand before was the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, July 20, 2000. On this occasion she was giving testimony for the passage of H.R. 4292, the “Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2000”. I am happy to say that this act did pass.

I am going to copy this entire speech for you, since it contains her story in her own words. (Credit for this copy goes to Evidence For God at godandscience.org)

My name is Gianna Jessen. I would like to say thank you for the opportunity to speak today. I count it no small thing to speak the truth. I depend solely on the grace of God to do this. I am 23 years old. I was aborted and I did not die. My biological mother was 7 months pregnant when she went to Planned Parenthood in Southern California and they advised her to have a late-term saline abortion.

A saline abortion is a solution of salt saline that is injected into the mothers womb. The baby then gulps the solution, it burns the baby inside and out and then the mother is to deliver a dead baby within 24 hours.

This happened to me! I remained in the solution for approximately 18 hours and was delivered ALIVE on April 6, 1977 at 6:00 am in a California abortion clinic. There were young women in the room who had already been given their injections and were waiting to deliver dead babies. When they saw me they experienced the horror of murder. A nurse called an ambulance, while the abortionist was not yet on duty, and had me transferred to the hospital. I weighed a mere two pounds. I was saved by the sheer power of Jesus Christ.

Ladies and gentleman I should be blind, burned…..I should be dead! And yet, I live! Due to a lack of oxygen supply during the abortion I live with cerebral palsy.

When I was diagnosed with this, all I could do was lie there. “They” said that was all I would ever do! Through prayer and hard work by my foster mother, I was walking at age 31/2 with the help of a walker and leg braces. At that time I was also adopted into my wonderful family. Today I am left only with a slight limp. I no longer have need of a walker or leg braces.

I am so thankful for my Cerebral Palsy. It allows me to really depend on Jesus for everything.

When the freedoms of one group of helpless citizens are infringed upon, such as the unborn, the newborn, the disabled and so called “imperfect,” what we do not realize is that our freedoms as a NATION and Individuals are in great peril.

I come today in favor of this Bill, in favor of the Protection of Life. I come to speak on behalf of the infants who have died and for those appointed to death. Learned Hand, a well respected American Jurist (within our own century) said: ” The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias; the spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded; the spirit of liberty is the spirit of Him who, near 2000 years ago, taught mankind that lesson it has never learned, but has never quite forgotten; that there is a kingdom where the least shall be heard and considered side by side with the greatest.”

Where is the soul of America?! Members of this committee: where is YOUR heart? How can you deal with the issues of a nation without examining her soul? A murderous spirit will stop at nothing until it has devoured a nation. Psalm 53:1-3 says: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘there is no God’; they are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; there is none who does good. God looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. Every one of them has turned aside; they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one.”

Adolph Hitler once said: “The receptive ability of the great masses is only very limited, their understanding is small; on the other hand their forgetfulness is great. This being so, all effective propaganda should be limited to a very few points which in turn, should be used as slogans until the very last man is able to imagine what is meant by such words.” Today’s slogans are: “a woman’s right to choose” and “freedom of choice,” et cetera.

There was once a man speaking from hell (recorded in Luke 16) who said “I am tormented in this flame.” Hell is real. So is Satan, and the same hatred that crucified Jesus 2000 years ago, still resides in the hearts of sinful people today. Why do you think this whole room trembles when I mention the name Jesus Christ? It is because He is REAL! He is able to give grace for repentance and forgiveness to you and to America. We are under the judgment of God – but we can be saved through Christ.

Romans 5:8-10
“But God demonstrates his own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For when we were ENEMIES we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

Death did not prevail over me….and I am so Thankful!!

Praise God for this amazing young woman. Please pray for her and pray for the woman who bore her.
If you would like to read more about her, see the book review in the Review Postings on this Blog. There is an updated book coming in January, 2011.

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