Holding Forth the Word of Life

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In the spring of the year 58 A.D., a middle-aged woman prepares to board a ship sailing from the Gulf of Corinth to Italy. She speaks with her friends upon shore who have come to see her off and wish her well. One of those friends is a man, short in stature. He bears the marks of deep thought, of hard study, and of resolute will. This man, as he bids farewell to the woman, hands her a bulky roll of manuscript. He gives her careful instructions as to its proper delivery. She waves goodbye as the sails are hoisted, and the boat glides slowly from the shore. Soon, the vessel is cutting her way across the fair blue waters of the Gulf, toward Rome.

While we do not know the vessel’s name or what kind of cargo she carried, we do know that she had a treasure on board more precious to the world than a shipload of the purest gold. For the little man with the striking face who had spoken with the woman on shore was Paul, the great Apostle of the Gentiles. The woman to whom he spoke was Phoebe, the deaconess of the church at Cenchrea. The manuscript he gave to Phoebe was the Epistle written from Corinth to the church, which was in Rome. It was an Epistle of such consummate importance to the future of Christianity that some believed she carried beneath the folds of her robe the entire future of Christian theology.

Phoebe is spoken of in Romans 16:1-2, where Paul states, “I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also” (NKJV). Sources state that she was a deaconess of the church at Cenchrea. Her duties were to attend to female converts, helping them get ready for baptism; to visit the sick and those in prison; and to attend to all parts of the church work which were typically completed by women. Phoebe was a woman of action, a woman who served, worked in, supported, and traveled for an apostolic church. She was a helper of many, and she was a woman with a mission.

Do you suppose Phoebe knew at the time Paul handed her his parcel that she carried a masterpiece? Other sources report Phoebe brought Paul’s letter to the room of Aquila, which was located across the river. This area of town was a region full of mean, vicious, and dangerous people. It was a region into which the police did not willingly enter alone. The Epistle to the Romans was, apparently, first brought to the church meeting in Aquila’s house, where it was read by the light of some small lamp, then taken to some other equally humble room where it was read to other Christian brethren.

Life is not always glamorous, and many times, it does not appear that the work we do or the message we carry will make a difference or impact anyone. We also can sometimes feel that the work or mission we have been given is difficult and heavy to carry through to its proper destination. This biblical account depicts the importance of pressing on and doing what we can. The message that God has for us to carry in “our robes” or in our hands can affect generations to come.

Another example is the legend of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, who also carried something of significance. It is said that, during the 13th century, she climbed steep, slippery, wintry paths to carry a supply of bread to the poor. One day she came upon her husband on the path, and he asked her what she carried. In the folds of her skirt, he did not find bread; instead, according to the legend, the bread had turned into red and white roses, lovelier than those of earth. The story goes that Elizabeth spent her time, strength, and means in caring for the poor people afflicted by famine and plague. She opened a hospital for children and cared for them herself. The legend depicts the beauty of her tender heart for the suffering. Perhaps the imagery of the bread for the hungry, which turned to beautiful flowers, speaks to your heart of the treasure God has given you to carry to others.

Philippians 2:16 states, “Holding forth  the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain” (KJV). This term “holding forth” or “holding out” is to be understood as bringing the message that brings life, or the message that shows people how they can really live. This is an exhortation by the Lord to keep on bringing the Gospel and to keep showing His love to those He leads us to.

The Apostle Paul urges us to embrace serving God and others. According to Galatians 6:10, Paul challenges us, “… as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people” (NIV). Every Christian can help in some form to make the world a happier and better place. The troubled, the weary, and the unfortunate are always near to us. The troubles and misfortunes of others are often our opportunity to reach them.

We should always be looking for opportunities to do good. In so doing, we should be like the dewdrop that finds a drooping rose and sinks down into its folds, losing itself but reviving the weary flower. So, let us be content to do good and bless the life that needs our benediction, being remembered only by what we have done.

 

The Love of a Father: What Strong Mothers Know About the Importance of a Daddy

 

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In today’s society, single mothers are strong, tenacious, able women who can juggle the pressures of family and work without skipping a beat. I should know….I was raised by one! It’s amazing that these moms are able to keep pressing on – giving their children the best family life they can under unfortunate circumstances.

Even though they can do it all themselves, it is sad when these strong mothers sometimes fail to recognize the importance of a father figure in their children’s lives. Proverbs 17:6 says, “The glory of children is their father” (NKJV). What a powerful statement that is! Our society has tried so hard to say that it makes no difference whether a child has both parents active within their lives, but we know deep down that’s not true. If a father is willing and able to be a part of his child’s life, a strong mother will encourage it, knowing that he will make up for the areas where she is weak. The child will only benefit.

Mothers who set out to eliminate good fathers from their childrens’ lives are unwittingly setting them up for lifelong insecurities and identity issues, causing the children to seek that love in ungodly relationships that often result in addictions and emotional or physical abuse.

I currently have a client – a wonderful, financially-stable single man in his thirties with a 12-month-old daughter. The baby’s mother doesn’t want him to have parenting time; she didn’t let the child have her father’s name, and she would be happy if my client would just continue to pay exorbitant child support, but otherwise, go away for good. She thinks this would be best for the baby, largely because she was raised by a single mother herself. Now that she and the baby’s father are estranged, she believes that she and her mother can raise the baby best without the trouble or input of the father. However, this is not in the best interest of the child.

My husband cringes today when he recalls how our infant daughter wailed the majority of the time that I left him alone with her while I taught a part-time college class two evenings a week. Sometimes when I came home, he was waiting at the door! If I had divorced him, I could have argued that he did not have a strong relationship with her – that he worked while I did most of the care-giving and that she would be better off spending most of the time with me. It would have seemed right at the time, and I would have been dead wrong. The way my daughter dotes on him today as a teenager, as well as her strong sense of who she is as a young woman and as a woman of God, is directly related to the steadfast love and presence of her father throughout her life.

Typically, children that have not experienced the love and care of a father find it hard to relate to the love of our Heavenly Father. The earthly contributions of a father’s love, rules and boundaries teach children how to receive love and give love while establishing the foundations for respect and order in their personal and spiritual walks.

If the child’s father has passed away or is unable or unwilling to be a part of his child’s life, for whatever reason, there are still many alternative male role-model relationships that a mother can encourage. An active grandfather, uncle, or close family friend can help fill the void of the father figure and help alleviate a little of the parenting pressure that even the strongest of single moms may experience.

As a family attorney who has counseled many clients over the years, I understand the impulse to be protective of one’s children and their relationship with their father. However, it is important for single moms (even the strongest!) to recognize their shortcomings and remember that the presence of a good father can make a world of difference for their children. I have seen firsthand the fruit of Proverbs 17:6. The glory of children truly is their father. And as a mother, there’s nothing better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discover Your God-Given Purpose

  “You are who God says you are!” Anyone who attends Word of Life Christian Center in Lone Tree, Colorado, has heard our anointed pastor Dr. Mark T. Bagwell shout these words from the rooftops! One of the things I love most about our church is the steadfast encouragement to be all that God has […]

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Purposeful Moments

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Countless idioms are used as analogies for life—a box of chocolates, a bowl of cherries, a mountain, an ocean! Personally, I love the anonymous quotes that compare life to a book: Life is like a thousand-page book. You want to quit halfway through, but then you realize you have a lot left to look forward […]

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“Three-Fold Foundation for Winter Wellness”

The last picking of fall’s garden filled the bushel baskets in Grandma’s cellar with bold colors of gold, orange, and green. That “fresh-picked” fragrance from the bushel baskets would just briefly cover the musty smell of the cellar. Our barn boasted hefty hay bales that were ready for the cattle’s winter feedings. My new school […]

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Ready, Set…GO!

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OK, so we know we need to eat right, brush and floss, get eight hours of sleep, drink plenty of water and, of course, exercise. We know that a mere 30 minutes of exercise a day is like the apple, keeping those doctors away. Well, I am tired of aching, tired of the blahs, tired […]

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Entertaining through Tradition – Part 2

Below are some recipes to create a new tradition or two in your family! Chicken Vegetable Soup 4          skinless, boneless chicken breasts 3          T. olive oil 3          T. butter ½         yellow onion, chopped 4          thyme sprigs 4          garlic cloves 3          celery ribs, cut lengthwise and sliced into ½-inch slices 3          carrots, cut diagonally into […]

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Entertaining Through Tradition: Making Life More Memorable

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Family tradition is one of the greatest gifts that we can give to our children and grandchildren. In my home, I still make that great oven-roasted pot roast that my mom and grandma used to make every Sunday after church. I can still remember walking into the house as a child and smelling the wonderful aroma […]

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The Essence of His Presence – By: Gayla Bagwell and Jane Dawson

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This inspiring Christmas celebration began with an enticing line-up of foods created and prepared by Danon Gale which included: Appetizers Pan Seared Scallops & Bacon Bites Grilled Chicken Bruschetta Mini Caprese Skewers w/Balsamic Glaze Strawberry-Spinach & Arugula Salad w/Zesty Vinaigrette & Candied Walnuts Italian Mini Meatballs   Desserts Mini Chocolate Eclairs Mini Red Velvet Bites […]

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The Essence of His Presence – A Gayla Christmas Celebration

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