Friday, October 21, 2011

Unexpected Visitor Alert!!

Okay, folks. Due to technical difficulties (my time machine overheating and requiring maintenance), I’m going to space out our Women of the Bible Series. No, seriously, my mom had surgery and I need to spend extra time helping her for a while. So, in order to dedicate the amount of research due to these women, I’m going to do posts twice a month instead of weekly. The next one goes up November 4th (I’ll still be posting on Fridays.) and, as announced last week, our guest will be Tamar, David’s daughter.
 Mr. Iwan A. Karrat showed up rather brusquely today with his wife Mrs. Neda Karrat (not pictured) to make sure I ask your indulgence and thank you all properly for your patience. He’s very fierce, you see? So I’m going to be toeing the line on this one. Ahem. “I ask your indulgence and give you many thanks for your patience.” J

 *Whispers* Did I do it right, Mr. Karrat?

(Mr. Karrat gives me "the look". See photo.)

Until the 4th!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Women of the Bible Encouragement Series: Deborah ~ Stand Up

Today, we have as our guest Deborah, who led the children of Israel into war against Jabin, king of Canaan, and Sisera, the captain of his army. She is fierce, I will tell you that.  I was a little afraid when I first saw her sitting under The Palm of Deborah, a spicy, dust-laden wind billowing the edge of her cloak. She was quite a Joan of Arc in her day--only we are left to imagine she had a happier end.

Hi Deborah! Thanks for being with us today. Tell us a little about yourself.
I am Deborah, wife of Lapidoth.

(Locusts chirp in background.)

Okay. Um… You are called a prophetess, which can mean several things: the wife of a prophet, a woman who prophesies, or a poetess. Which one were you?
I judged the people of Israel along with Barak.

Ah… I see. (I scratch my eyebrow, wondering how to get her to open up.) Well, maybe you can tell me about the day you rode with Barak towards the army of King Jabin.
I said to him, “Up; for this is the day in which the Lord hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: Is not the LORD gone out before thee?”

So you had to pretty much stay on his case in order for him to follow God’s command? Was he lazy or just afraid?
It is not good to speak against God’s man.

(Oops) You're right. I'm sorry.
I will tell you, however, that the Lord gave the honor of victory to a woman, Jael, as a punishment and judgment for Barak’s cowardice and unbelief.

We don't hear much about your husband, Lappidoth, other than his name. Was he similar or opposite to Barak? Did he support you in your position as a judge of Israel? Tell me about him.
I am tired of speaking. I will sing the answer to you.

Oh. Okay, um... Go right ahead.
My beloved is like a beacon on the hilltop. His name means ‘shining’. He sings to me the songs of encouragement and is always with me. He is my resting place.

Your voice is lovely. Where did you learn to sing?
My mother. She taught me to use song to proclaim truth. A woman’s tongue has the power to tear down, build up, calm down, or stir up. We have a duty to use it wisely.

Yes ma’am. That is so true. You mentioned your mother and it got me to wondering... You are called a ‘mother of Israel’. Were you not afraid that you would die in battle and leave your children motherless?
It is better to die, leaving an inheritance of righteousness and peace, than to live in cowardice and sentence future generations to slavery and oppression.

That is a hard truth. You have given me much to think about. 
Winding down here... I know you’re a poet, and have done a bit of writing yourself, so what advice would you have for Christian writers today?
Poetry in writing means nothing if the words do not honor God. Write for a reason. Do what is right even when others don’t. Stand firm in what God has called you to do.

Natalie again. Thanks for reading! If your wondering about Deborah's propensity for impulsive singing, check out Judges chapter 5. She is a very quirky lady, so much so that I had trouble following her sometimes. LOL. Hopefully you got the gist of her story. Next week's guest will be Tamar, David's daughter. This randomly selected guest was suggested by commentor Victoria and Joel

Friday, October 7, 2011

Women of the Bible Encouragement Series: Priscilla ~ A Helping Hand

            Today’s guest was suggested by Marilyn In Mississippi. She said, “I think I would like to hear from Priscilla….wife of Aquila. (Acts 18: 26) I’ve always wondered about this verse where it says that ‘Aquila and his wife Priscilla took Apollos with them to expound the way of God more perfectly.’ ” 
            Thank you for the suggestion!
            I’m turning my dial back to A.D. 67. This is around 20 years after Aquila and Priscilla hosted Paul in their home for 18 months, making tents. I’m hoping she’ll be able to share a little about that and her and her husband’s experience with Apollos.

            Hi Priscilla! The first question I’d like to ask is about your occupation. What is involved in tent making?
Hello Natalie. When you start to make a tent, the first thing you have to have is a strong material. Leather was our most popular, though a cloth of woven goats' hair was also used. The skins would have to be softened and treated with different solutions to make them pliable, but at the same time sturdy and protected from snares. We would sew them together in a great sheet of skins, then patterns would be cut out and sewn at the seams. The sizes and designs of our tents were as varied as the customers who ordered them.
How did you and your husband come to pursue the craft?
Aquila and I were both born in Rome. His father was a tentmaker of great renown and my father, plying the same trade, owned a shop across the way. There had been a heated competition between the two, for as long as I remember. But, in our spare time, Aquila and I would play together, piecing together the scraps and making our own miniature tent. Despite the friction between our families, we married when we became of age and joined the two businesses, I being an only child and my father's heir.
With the growing fame of the arena games, commercial tent makers were booked months in advance, so customers whose orders weren’t related to that cruel sport came to us for business.
            It’s very interesting that you shared how you and Aquila met, because our next question is about the relationship between the two of you. There is never a place in the scripture where one is mentioned without the other. Have you always enjoyed that inseparability?
Well, yes and no. Before we became followers of The Way, we were closer than other married couples we knew. We married for love, not money or social standing, so we had more to build on than most. We also had much in common. But after we came to Christ, we realized there was a sweet fellowship between our spirits that, before, had not existed. 
In the six places where you and your husband are referenced, your name appears first in three and Aquila’s in the others. Is there a reason for that, do you think?
Possibly. Aquila and I enjoyed a fellowship and oneness that was uncommon for husbands and wives in our day. Women of that time were considered more like property. Even some of the Christian women who attended the church in our house held no more input in their own homes than hired servants. Aquila and I were never like that.
I will remind you, however, that when scripture speaks of our teaching Apollos, Aquila’s name is written first, likely symbolizing his primary role in that area of expounding scripture. Also, using what some call the law of "first mention" Aquila's name is first to be mentioned in the entire text.
I became a believer in Christ before Aquila, and I was always pushing him to grow and lead. At one point, I was convinced that it was my responsibility to take charge in the spiritual matters of our home, but when Paul came to stay with us, he quickly corrected me. He boldly taught that wives, though no less valuable, or intelligent, are to be subject to their husbands in the home and in church.
There is a Divinely established order of authority in the realm of mankind and in the realm of Deity. Woman is to yield to man’s authority and man to God’s. Jesus yielded to God’s authority in everything. He said, “In all things, I please the Father.” “Not my will but Thine...” Everyone is under the authority of someone. A man is under the Lord, a wife, her husband and a servant, his master. This is not the teaching of man, but of God.
I also learned very quickly than a man will not hold contest with a woman to be the champion of something. He doesn’t consider it a win if he has to defeat his wife in the process. Paul made it very clear to me that Aquila would stand responsible before the Lord for his spiritual guidance in our house and I could either help him by supporting him in his duty, or cause him to desire to give up his God-given responsibility with my contention.
            Wow. You’ve given me a lot to think about. While I consider what you just said, do you mind telling what Apollos had to be corrected in, exactly?
Well, in all truth, he was not teaching heresy. He was a very learned man, bold in the scriptures. But he was a disciple of only John and did not know to teach that Jesus, the Messiah, had come and was the true sacrifice for our sins.
I remember standing in the synagogue with Aquila like it was yesterday. This was after Paul had left us and we still gathered with the Jews in the place where he taught. Apollos began his message and I was waiting with anticipation for this fervent, eloquent man to come to the part about Jesus of Nazareth, but he never did. I was very disappointed. When Apollos stepped down, finished with his incomplete message, Aquila caught my eye across the room. Women and men were separated for the teachings, but I could see him through the lattice that parted us. It was clear Aquila felt the same as I. That day, Aquila bravely approached Apollos, invited him into our home, and began to tell him the rest of The Story. Apollos was a very humble man, readily accepting our words.
Did you and Aquila ever have children?
I have wished a thousand times over that I could say yes to that question. That was one of the greater sorrows that Aquila and I shared. It was always our desire, but the Lord proved to us that “His grace is sufficient.” Because of our childlessness, we were able to move several times and witness the love of Jesus to many varied characters that we might have been afraid to entertain, were there children in our home. I remember the time we won to the Lord a gladiator, recently escaped from his master in Rome. His was one conversion I don’t believe I’ll ever forget.
Ah, I’m letting the memories wing me away.
Concerning your question, you know, I think Aquila’s decision to teach Apollos was greatly produced from the fact that he never had a son of his own. The span of Aquila’s and Apollos’ age difference was not great enough to represent a father and son, but that type camaraderie was there just the same. We fellowshipped and exhorted one another in the scriptures. It was a wonderful time, though I did bite my tongue and rephrase my thoughts on more than one occasion so that I would not be overriding or “usurping the authority” as Paul warned us against. On the other hand, I was able to share my testimony and use our times together to magnify Jesus and His works. All the glory goes to him. I am nothing more than a wife, a tent-maker and a woman who loves her Lord.
            Thank you, Priscilla. I’ve enjoyed our conversation very much. I’m going to give you the last word on this. Do you have any advice for Christian writers today?
Always look for a chance to help those around you, whether they are struggling in areas you've already experienced or are far ahead of you in accomplishments. If you are on the receiving side, always remember to give thanks, to God and your benefactor.
Lend a helping hand. Encourage, and build up. Be gentle in correction and faithful in prayer for others. We all need help from time to time, and your edification may be the Godsend someone has been praying for.  After his time in our home, Apollos became a great preacher to the Jews and many were saved because of his preaching. It was none of our doing, but all the Lord’s.

Natalie here. Just wanted to say that I took more liberties with Priscilla’s story than with Dorcas’. The parts about how she and Aquila met and the conversion of the gladiator came right out of my fiction-filled head. And the Bible doesn’t say when Priscilla or Aquila was saved or who came to Christ first. I’m thinking they were believers before they left Rome, but I have no scripture to back that up. That’s just a hunch of mine. Also, there has been much debate as to whether Apollos recognized Jesus as the Christ and was merely  ignorant of the filling of the Holy Spirit, or if he taught only what John taught--"Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matt. 3:2) I did my best to present my understanding of it, but do not claim to be an expert on the subject.
And the "keeping it short next time" thing? Well, that went right out the window. After hearing how much Priscilla had to say in this interview, I think she might have had a more active role in exhorting Apollos than she knew. ;)
The winner of the First Blog Post Celebration Giveaway is... Drum-roll please. Victoria Willard. Please email me at simmadar(at)yahoo(dot)com and give your mailing address, so I can send you the book. 
Next week's randomly selected guest will be Deborah suggested by Debby Giusti and Victoria and Joel.