The Promise-Keeper

Two springs ago, I watched rain shoot in waves from our neighbor’s car-driving-rain-storm-abstract-background-13899452roof. Lightning flashed, a boom of thunder shook the house, and my wide-eyed children flocked to me.

“It’s okay,” I told them in what I hoped was a confident voice. “We’re safe.” And I knew we were, but as the rain fell in sheets, my anxiety for my husband grew. He had driven into the city to make a hospital visit. What if he had an accident in this storm? What would the children and I do if he were killed?

Later, when my husband finally arrived safe and well, I sagged into his arms. After he told of the many wrecks he’d barely missed in the flooded streets, our five-year-old looked up from his toys and said, “But Daddy, I thought God promised not to send floods anymore.”

My husband explained God promised never to flood the whole earth again, and that our city was only having flash flooding.

“That’s okay then,” our son said, turning back to his toys, “because God always keeps His promises.”

My little boy’s faith shamed me. Why was I so quick to fret when I knew, even if my husband died, God promised He’d never forsake me or my children?

And God always keeps His promises.


Snapshots of Courageous Faithfulness

ruth2In so many ways, our culture’s motto is “Do whatever feels right to you.” Believing that there is one right way set by God Himself and living according to that way takes a form of courage we often lack. Though thousands of years old, the book of Ruth gives us three snapshots of courageous faithfulness from which can we still learn today.

Naomi illustrates courageous repentance. The book of Ruth begins by recounting Elimelech and Naomi’s disobedience in moving to Moab because of a famine in Judah. Their actions reflect the sin of their time as shown in the last verse of Judges (just before Ruth in the English Bible), “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” Reacting to the famine they could see rather than by faith in the One who delivered them from Egypt, Elimelech and Naomi rejected the inheritance God gave them and married their sons to two accursed Moabite women. In the midst of their unfaithfulness, Naomi’s husband and sons died. Left with only two young Moabite daughters-in-law, Naomi had to choose. Would she continue in unfaithfulness or repent and return to Israel? Perhaps in desperation, perhaps in courage, Naomi chose repentance. Though she renamed herself Mara out of bitterness at God’s discipline, yet she resumed her trust in Him. She returned to the land of promise, even bringing Ruth, physical proof of her disobedience, home with her.

Ruth illustrates courageous conversion. Raised an idolater, Ruth is instead engrafted into God’s people. When Naomi urged her to return to her own people, Ruth told Naomi, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16).  Ruth’s statement is one of the most famous examples of faithfulness in Scripture, and she isn’t even a Hebrew. In fact, most Hebrew Bibles order the book of Ruth directly after Proverbs 31, the poetic rendering of a woman of excellence, reinforcing Ruth’s character as a living and breathing woman of excellence (Ruth 3:11), one who courageously left all she knew to become part of God’s people.

In this and every story, God is the ultimate example of courageous faithfulness. Working sinlessly through the sin of Naomi’s family, God wooed Ruth to Himself. Out of His great faithfulness, He provided Israel with food that tempted Naomi’s return. Through Boaz, He provided for both women’s physical needs. Through Ruth and Boaz’s descendant Jesus, He provided for their—and our—spiritual needs.

Just as they did in Ruth’s time, people in today’s culture do whatever seems right in their own eyes. Still today we must, like Ruth, be courageous enough to align ourselves with God’s people. Like Naomi, we must be courageous enough to repent of our sins, accept God’s discipline, and return to His people. We must place our trust in the One who is faithful beyond all we can imagine—King Jesus.

How to Be a Fool

nofoolinLet’s be honest—being foolish often looks like more fun than being wise. The stereotypical wise person is old, gray, stern, and sits around thinking deep thoughts all the time. Boring. A fool, though, is typically young and pretty. She says and does whatever she wants whenever she wants. Sounds freeing, doesn’t it? I took a look in the Proverbs for tips on how to become foolish, just in case I wanted to try it. Here’s what I found:

  1. Be a mocker. This kind of fool makes fun of God and all forms of goodness. He’s haughty and insulting. Doesn’t bother to watch his tongue at all. A good example is the thief on the cross—not the one who repented and sought salvation from Jesus, but the one who, with his dying breaths, hurled insults at the only One who could’ve saved him. Hmmm. It doesn’t appear his mocking tongue served him so well in the end.
  2. Be a rebel. This type of fool goes her own way no matter how many of those deep-thinking wise people give her good advice. She’s hardhearted and hardheaded. If she wants to do something, she does it, regardless of the consequences. An example of this fool is Solomon’s son and successor, Rehoboam. The people promised Rehoboam that if he’d lighten the workload Solomon had put on them, they’d serve him faithfully. The gray-haired wise men advised Rehoboam to do what the people asked, but Rehoboam’s buddies told him to make the people work even harder—just to show he was a bigger Big Dog than his daddy. Rehoboam liked that idea. He told the people their work under Solomon was nothing to what they’d have to do under him. The people rebelled, and there went most of Rehoboam’s kingdom. Not such a great outcome for this fool, either.
  3. Be Godless. This type of fool totally closes his mind and heart to God. In his arrogance, he decides that he’s the definer of the universe and that no God can tell him how to live. An example of this fool is a man whose name literally means fool, Nabal. When David, whose men had protected Nabal’s sheep, requested food for his men, Nabal insulted God’s anointed. Nabal refused to acknowledge God’s provision for him through David. If not for Nabal’s wise wife Abigail, who acted quickly to soothe David’s rage, Nabal’s entire household would’ve been slaughtered. Though David spared Nabal for Abigail’s sake, God struck the fool dead for his foolishness. Guess Nabal found out he wasn’t the center of the universe after all.
  4. Be simple. This fool believes whatever anyone tells her without stopping to find out if what she’s being told is right. To her, anybody’s opinion is the absolute truth. An example of this fool is the young man the Proverbs says is “lacking sense.” Momma advises. Daddy instructs. Wisdom calls. The adulteress beckons. And the simpleton, too stupid to realize he’s headed straight for his death, takes the path to the adulteress’s house. Another bad end for yet another fool.

Okay, being foolish doesn’t sound so great after all. Good thing the Proverbs teach the way of wisdom as well. Basically, study the paths of foolishness…and do the opposite.

Advice for the Rookie Pastor’s Wife: Tip #1

Helpful tips and advice on a yellow office noteOver the past 19 years as a pastor’s wife, I’ve learned some things…and made quite a few mistakes. Though I’m far from an expert, I plan to give a new tip each month for the rookie pastor’s wife, advice I hope will help her make fewer mistakes than I’ve made.

Tip #1:


One of the questions you’re sure to get when your husband interviews for a ministry position is, “Mrs. Potential Pastor’s Wife, if we hire your husband, what would your role be in the church?”

Gulp. If you’re a people-pleaser and/or if you really want your husband to get the job, you’ll be tempted to say, “I’ll do whatever the church needs—play piano, keep nursery, teach Sunday School, direct VBS, clean toilets, answer phones, AND do any other job nobody else wants.”


Remember, the church is potentially hiring your husband, not you. You are not the freebie in a BOGO sale.

To prepare for this question, you and your husband should clarify your gifts and priorities (preferably on paper) before the interview. Then take the written list to the interview, just to make sure you don’t misspeak when answering those dozen strangers you hope will call your husband as their pastor.

Your list should look something like this:

  1. My role is to be a helpmeet to my husband.
  2. My role is to mother my children, thereby freeing my husband to do his job.
  3. My role is to do my work well (whether employed outside the home or not).
  4. God has gifted me in the area of ___________ (YOU fill in the blank).
  5. After 6 months or so to get settled, I will prayerfully consider which church tasks best fit my time and abilities.

Trust me, if the church does call your husband, being clear on your priorities will make the transition into your new role as pastor’s wife so much easier!

Homeschooling on a Shoestring

downloadGas prices sky high. The economy worsening. Your family’s budget stretched to bursting. How you can afford to home educate your children? Here are some practical ways to cut costs and still operate an effective homeschool in the Columbus, Ohio, area.


  • Buy used. HOTR (Home on the Rock) and CHEO (Christian Home Educators of Ohio) publish information about used book fairs on their websites. Try Amazon, ebay, and for good deals. Some sites like and post swap boards to facilitate trading or buying/selling materials.
  • Use the library. The Columbus Metropolitan Library system has many resources available. If the nearest branch doesn’t have what you need, request it from another branch. They’ll bring it to your location—free!
  • If you buy new, shop carefully. Rainbow Resource often has the best prices, but shipping can ruin your budget, so make a complete, one-time order. If your total is $50 or more, shipping is free. Some curriculum companies have free shipping months (often April).

Field Trips and Extracurricular Activities

  • Join a homeschool group. Homeschool organizations provide lots of information about money-saving opportunities. Groups like HOTR and CHEO usually cost less than $50 per year but include a 10% discount to the Home School Legal Defense Association. Some, like HOTR, have small-group cooperatives meeting around the city. You usually pay a small fee for expenses but get a great return on your investment. You and your children get to socialize with other homeschooling families. Kids can take classes with other kids and different teachers. Group field trips provide discounted access to local attractions. You’ll likely learn about unexpected opportunities—like the mom who teaches piano cheap or the one who will tutor your child in math if you’ll tutor hers in Latin. You might even find someone willing to swap or lend curriculum.
  • Take advantage of the free stuff. Many Columbus attractions are free or very inexpensive. And, of course, educational.

Columbus Free Stuff:

Slate Run Farm
Columbus Museum of Art (Sundays only)
Ohio Craft Museum
Riffe Gallery
Ohio Statehouse
Thurber House (weekdays only)
Orton Geological Museum
Shrum Mound
Longaberger Homestead
Park of Roses
Topiary Garden
Chadwick Arboretum
Columbus Parks and Recreation (costs $1 per badge per person)
Anthony Thomas Factory Tours ($2 per adult, $1 per child (ages 3-18), under 2 is free; admission fee may be used toward purchase)

  • Ask for the educational or field trip rate.  Just by filing a field trip form in advance and bringing your notification letter, your family can visit the Columbus Zoo for only $5 per person if you live in Franklin County ($7 if you live outside Franklin County). COSI offers an educator’s family membership for $95 per year. The Ohio Historical Society offers a family membership to educators for $50 annually that allows four adults and all family members under 18 to visit OHS’s 60 historic sites at no charge. Kelton House offers an Underground Railroad Learning Station Tour for $4 per student and a Kelton House Historic Tour for $2 per student. Columbus Children’s Theatre has discounted tickets in their Thrifty Thursdays plan. Catco is Kids (Phoenix Children’s Theatre) offers School Performance Matinees with tickets for $5.
  • Use coupons. You can often find great deals on-line, in the phone book, or at travel plazas.
  • Give useful gifts. Give your son karate lessons for Christmas. Ask Grandma to buy BalletMet tickets for your daughter’s birthday.

Don’t let today’s economy discourage you from home education. Columbus has so much to offer that you’ll find homeschooling on a shoestring is really no hardship at all.

Approaching the King

the-chronicles-of-narnia-the-lion-the-witch-and-the-wardrobe-profileThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe has been a favorite among children and adults for generations. C.S. Lewis’ fantasy tells the story of Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy—four children who live with a professor in the country during World War II. Through a wardrobe in his house, they discover the magical world of Narnia. They soon find that the White Witch has trapped the land in eternal winter and enslaved the Narnians. Edmund goes to her side, and his siblings must try to rescue him. But Mr. Beaver makes it clear that only Aslan can save him.

Not being Narnians, the children don’t know of Aslan, so the Beavers attempt to describe him. Mr. Beaver says, “I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the Sea…. Aslan is a lion—the Lion, the great Lion.”

Naturally, the children feel skittish about encountering a real lion.

Susan asks, “Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” says Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

Lucy asks, “Then he isn’t safe?”

“Safe?” says Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

When they meet Aslan, the children do approach with fear and trembling because he’s not at all safe. But, as Mr. Beaver says, he’s good—so good that he dies in Edmund’s place, taking the penalty due a traitor to Narnia. But then Aslan rises from the dead and conquers the White Witch, freeing Narnia from bondage.

This story mirrors King Jesus’ interaction with us. We’re enslaved to sin, unable to do anything to save ourselves, but Jesus took the punishment we deserve by dying on a cross in our place. Then He rose again, breaking the power of death over us, so that we can live.

Jesus is the Son of God, the Lion of Judah. We must approach Him with reverence and awe because He’s not to be trifled with. Like Aslan, He’s not safe. But He’s good. He’s the King.

Will we dare approach Him today?

Teens and Senior Adults

This week’s blog is an article by my daughter that will appear in Encounter Magazine. It’s her first time to be published, and I think she has some good thoughts on the importance of reaching across generations in the church.thumb_COLOURBOX6623351

I believe the teens and senior adults in churches should get to know each other. In fact, this would be good for both the seniors and the teens. There are several reasons they should get to know one another.

First, it is a lot of fun to be around people who are younger or older than you instead of hanging around only people your own age. Recently, my church had a youth event to watch the Ohio State versus Michigan game at one of our senior adults’ houses. There were more seniors who came to watch the game with us. We ate pizza, watched the game together, and all of us had a lot of fun.

Next, the two generations can learn from each other. The senior adults know first-hand about some of the things students are learning about in school, like WWII, the Great Depression , Vietnam , and other events from history . The seniors could tell the teens what it was like when they were young. And the teenagers could learn from the example of the seniors. On the other hand, seniors can learn what it is like to be a young person in our culture today.

Last, the two groups would have a chance to serve each other. The teens can help the seniors do jobs that the seniors can’t, things like climbing ladders to clean out gutters or shoveling driveways when it snows. Our youth group has done some jobs like those. Also, seniors can teach teens how to do things, like fixing cars or woodworking. One of the senior adult ladies in our church is teaching me how to sew. She enjoys passing on her skill, and I have fun learning.

Overall, it is good for both the teens and the seniors of churches to get to know each other. It helps both teens and seniors learn and grow in Jesus Christ. It builds solid relationships among God’s people across age lines, and it strengthens the church.

How to Suffer Well

bible105Stefanie knew God’s standards on sexual purity when she stayed at the office late with her co-worker and let things go too far. Can her marriage survive?
Dan had been a pastor for decades when he got brain cancer. After years of serving God, now he might not live another six months.
Trish’s deacon husband got caught embezzling money from work. Can she survive the humiliation?
Like these case study Christians, we sometimes suffer and can’t imagine how we’ll survive. Job gives us five steps to endure trials…with our faith intact:
1.      Self-examination. Job guards so constantly against sin he knows his pain isn’t a result of his own wrongdoing. In the above cases, Stefanie’s suffering is a clear result of her sin. Though the consequences won’t disappear with her confession, repentance is an essential step toward restoration. Dan’s cancer is likely a painful result of living in a fallen world, and Trish is suffering for her husband’s sin, but both must guard against bitterness. What about us? Maybe like Job we can say, “I have kept to his way without turning aside” (Job 23:11), but if God convicts us of wrongdoing, we must repent.
2.      Beware bad advice. Job’s friends falsely accuse him. His wife tells him to curse God and die. Job understands the pain of bad counsel. If Stefanie heeds advice to keep quiet about what she’s done, her marriage will only suffer more harm. If Dan’s friends tell him he’s sick because God doesn’t love him, the lies will sink him deeper into despair. If Trish’s friends tell her to leave her husband, she’ll suffer from her sin as well as his. We must heed counsel from mature Christians who will guide us to the One who loves us more than anyone else can.
3.      Seek God. Job knows God allows his suffering. He knows God alone can tell him why. So Job seeks God. In the above cases, Stefanie must run to God for cleansing. Only God can keep Dan through his cancer, whether it results in death or healing. Trish needs God’s grace to forgive her husband. We, too, must pursue God in our suffering, knowing only He can carry us through.
4.    Complain. God hates murmuring so much He let a generation of Hebrews die in the wilderness after the Exodus. Yet Job complains plenty. The difference is the Hebrews murmur among themselves against God’s gifts, while Job tells God how he feels about his pain. Job takes his grievances to God. Likewise, Stefanie should tell God of her guilt. Dan should tell God how betrayed he feels. Trish should tell God of her humiliation. We, too, should tell God of our rage, hurt, and abandonment. He can handle it.
5.    Hope. Job trusts God. He knows God will bring something good from his agony. He says, “When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). Job knows his suffering will lead to his sanctification, though he doesn’t like the process. In her pain, Stefanie can hope for stronger character and deeper love for her husband. Dan can think of the testimony he’ll share if God heals his body, and he can look forward to spending eternity in Heaven. Trish can thank God for increasing her faith. We, too, should view our pain as God’s means of making us more Christ-like. We must hope beyond our suffering for the good God promises to bring out of it.

Grandparenting Homeschoolers

o-GRANDPARENTS-RAISING-GRANDCHILDREN-facebookIf you are a grandparent of homeschoolers, you have many special opportunities to help train up your grandchildren. Following are twelve ways:

  1. Encourage. Even if you disapprove of your daughter and son-in-law’s decision to home educate your grandchildren, make only positive comments, especially in front of the grandchildren.
  2. Research. Educate yourself on homeschooling. Subscribe to a journal like Homeschooling Today. Check out the threats to your grandchildren’s educational freedom by searching for their state on The more you understand about the issues facing homeschoolers, the more you can help your family with their educational efforts.
  3. Protect. Would you telephone the public school kindergarten teacher during class for a brownie recipe? Don’t do it to the homeschoolers either. Ask your daughter for a schedule so you’ll know when not to call. Protect your grandkids’ education—even from yourself.
  4. Chaperone. Is your daughter planning a field trip to the zoo? She’d love it if you’d volunteer as a chaperone for the expedition.
  5. Chauffeur. Your grandson needs to get to youth choir practice, his sister volunteers at the vet clinic, the youngest has a play date at Jacob’s house, and your daughter needs to buy groceries. If you live nearby, you could relieve some of the stress by taking a grandchild where he or she needs to go.
  6. Teach. Offer your grandkids a once-a-week unit study or teach a course at their homeschool co-op. Pick a subject that interests you—birds, gardening, hunter safety, bread baking, knitting, the human skeleton, flowers, Niagara Falls, Egyptian mummies, etc. If you’re near enough to help daily, offer to teach your granddaughter’s Algebra course for a semester. If you live too far away to help daily, teach a week-long short course when you visit or video record lessons for your grandkids to use daily.
  7. Tutor. In a multi-student homeschool, a child having difficulty learning to read or do fractions causes extra strain on the family. If your grandson is having trouble with Latin, offer to tutor him. If you don’t live near enough to go to his house regularly, ask to take him home with you for a week of intensive study. Or use email, fax, video, and/or the telephone to help.
  8. Apprentice. You are skilled in areas that your daughter and son-in-law may not be. Set up an after-school or summer-long apprenticeship for your grandchildren in car repair, canning, farming, animal care, woodworking, piano tuning, etc.
  9. Babysit. Offer to keep preschool grandchildren occasionally so your daughter can teach the older kids without distractions. If you grandparent long-distance, volunteer to pick them up, keep them several days, and return them. Pick a week in August to keep all of the kids so your daughter can prepare for the new school year.
  10. Sub. Fill in when your daughter is sick or has just given birth or simply needs a day off.
  11. Give useful gifts. Useful gifts don’t have to be socks or pajamas. Piano lessons, a new desk, ballet tickets, a microscope, soccer cleats, tuition to science camp—all make great birthday or Christmas gifts.
  12. Grandparent. When your grandchildren have a piano recital in their living room or a closing program with their homeschool co-op, go and encourage them. Home educated or not, your grandchildren need you to grandparent them.


Testing Required

f-test1I graduated long ago, but I still sometimes wake up in a panic, thinking I have to take an exam for which I didn’t study. Ugh! I’d be content never having to take another test in my life.

Yet Scripture commands Christians to test the spirits to see if they’re from God. If we fail at this testing, the consequences are much more serious than flunking a class. The consequences are eternal.

False teachers are everywhere—television, radio, internet, books, movies. Even in Sunday School classes and pulpits. Everyone wants our ear, but not everyone should get it.

How can we discern who’s teaching truth and who’s spouting lies?Here are three questions to help us decide:

  1. What’s being said about Jesus? Lying spirits hate Jesus. If a speaker or writer professing to teach Biblical truth either ignores Christ or lies about Him, we must reject that teacher. I don’t mean we should nitpick every word that comes out of our pastor’s mouth. I mean we can’t listen to anyone who denies the basics of the Gospel—that Jesus is God who became man, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins, rose again, ascended into Heaven, and is coming back one day.
  2. Does the world love it? Popularity doesn’t equal truth. In fact, if the world loves something/someone, Christians should beware. By nature, the world loves what is worldly and hates what is from God. Remember, labels can be deceiving. Just because somebody labels a book or movie “faith-based” doesn’t make it Christ-exalting. I’m certainly not saying every “inspirational” book that makes The New York Times Best Seller list is teaching lies. I’m just saying we can’t embrace it without careful testing because not everything labeled “faith-based” is based on faith in the right Person.
  3. Is it Biblical? This question doesn’t allow laziness. We can’t simply point to a tacked-on Bible verse and call a teaching good. We have to ask if Scripture is being correctly interpreted. We have to watch for verses taken out of context. If the way a verse is used doesn’t fit with what the rest of the Bible teaches, it’s not being used correctly. In order to recognize whether a teaching is Biblical, we have to know what the Bible actually says. When we have trouble understanding passages, we can seek help from trusted Christians, read reputable commentaries, and check time-honored catechisms, creeds, or confessions. We should always pray for God’s help in discerning the truth.

How should we proceed when someone’s teaching fails the test? If the source is a book/movie/blog/radio program, etc., we can’t allow it in our homes, no matter how popular it is with our friends or family. If the false teaching comes from a teacher in our church, we should go to that person and respectfully present our concerns. Maybe we misunderstood what he/she said. Maybe the person will correct his/her false understanding. If the person refuses, we must bring the issue before other church leaders. If that doesn’t work, we must seek a different church–one where the truth is proclaimed.

Above all, we can’t give up. Even if we get it wrong sometimes, we’re commanded to test the spirits. We must use the tools God has provided…and get testing.

Author, Homeschooler, Pastor's Wife

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