We are happy to have Mrs. Penny Keathley on the blog today, and we are very excited to share some news with you!  Check out her post below to learn about a BWI class that she will be co-teaching and hear some great insight on hospitality.

For many years now Mrs. Cindy Bush, widow of L. Russ Bush, former Academic Dean of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, has taught a course in the Biblical Women's Institute program entitled "The Ministry of Hospitality".  Anyone who knows Cindy even a little will confirm that her cup of gifts overflows with hospitality; and if they spend a little more time with her they will discover that she loves God and enjoys using her gift of hospitality to "love on" both the body of Christ and those who need to hear the gospel.  I am thankful to know her and to call her friend; and to have learned a few things about the ministry of hospitality from watching her in action.

This semester Cindy is unable to teach the course due to her responsibilities in caring for her aging mother, and I have been granted the blessing of co-teaching this course with another lovely lady gifted in hospitality - Mrs. Charlotte Akin, wife of Dr. Danny Akin, president of SEBTS.  Charlotte's gift of joyful homemaking and comfortable hospitality are a daily blessing to our school, our students, faculty and staff.  Any lady reading this post who might want to consider signing up for this course.

As one might expect, I have been doing my homework on hospitality and, though it is true that certain people are more gifted in this area, Scripture does not present hospitality as an option (1 Peter 4:9; Rom 12:13).  Christine D. Pohl in her book Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition emphasizes that hospitality is imperative for those of us who want to walk as Jesus would have us walk.

"Hospitality is not optional for Christians, nor is it limited to those who are specially gifted for it. It is a necessary practice in the community of faith...Jesus' gracious and sacrificial hospitality - expressed in his life, ministry and death - undergirds the hospitality of his followers.  Jesus gave his life so that persons could be welcomed into the Kingdom and in doing so linked hospitality, grace and sacrifice in the deepest and most personal way imaginable....Hospitality is a concrete expression of love - love for sisters and brothers, love extended outward to strangers, prisoners and exiles, love that attends to physical and social needs."

In another helpful book on this subject, Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others by Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock, I came across a new word: hospitalitude, coined by author Pat Ennis.

"I want to share with you a word to summarize [Practicing Hospitality] - hospitalitude; it is drawn from the word hospitality meaning to pursue the love of strangers and the word beatitude--signifying the character of true faith." (pages 236-8)

Below is my revised version from Pat's "Hospitalitudes".  They remind me of a poem my pastor Dad used to quote regularly to our congregation:  "Others Lord, yes others, let this my motto be. Help me to live for others, that I might live like thee."

  • Happy are those who practice biblical hospitality - because in so doing they are demonstrating their love for God. (1 John 3:17-18)
  • Happy are those in church leadership who practice hospitality - for they allow others to observe them in their homes where their character, way of life and beliefs are most revealed. (1 Tim 3:1-2, 4:12; Heb 13:7)
  • Happy are those who love the "strangers" - for they are choosing to obey their heavenly Father's command and modeling his character. (Lev 19:34)
  • Happy are those who intentionally extend hospitality to "the others" - singles, widows, the grieving, the hospitalized, etc - for they are choosing to live out biblical compassion (James 2:14-16)
  • Happy are those who include people of all cultures on their guest lists - for in this manner they are demonstrating the expansive love of their heavenly Father. (John 3:16)
  • Happy are those who are willing to make the sacrifice to practice hospitality - for they understand it is by sacrifice that we begin to learn what it means to walk in love. (I Cor 13)
  • Happy are those whose homes are both a place of refuge and a center for evangelism - for their honorable actions will bring glory to God (1 Pet 2:12) and they are fulfilling our Lord's instructions to "do the work of an evangelist". (2 Tim 4:5)
  • Happy are those who have consecrated their kitchen and their coffee cups to the Lord's service - for they have the opportunity of helping others to "taste and see that the Lord is good". (Ps 34:8)
  • Happy are those who acknowledge that they are unable to practice true biblical hospitality in their own strength - for they know that the Lord's power overcomes their weaknesses and allows them to become vessels useful for his honor and glory (2 Cor 12:9-10; Phil 4:13; John 15:5)

To register for Ministry of Hospitality please contact the Women's Life Office at (919) 761-2340 or womenslife@sebts.edu. 

Today's post is written by our dear friend, Andrea Allard.  We are so thankful to have her share some words of encouragement on loving even when it's difficult!

I know that this may be hard to believe, but sometimes people are difficult. We are told to love all people in the Bible and that is where it gets tricky. Loving the difficult means stepping outside of your comfort zone and meeting the person where they are at. It is humbling and many times uncomfortable, but our example is Jesus. He went to the sick and hurting, so we must not be afraid to put ourselves out for others. Often it costs us more than we want to pay in emotional turmoil, but what is a little struggle on this planet when we have eternity to spend with the Lord?

Ministry is a life calling and never ends. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing is ministry. The church is filled with people who are hurting - even if they do not admit it. Just think, most people do not meet with the pastor and his wife because all things are going splendidly. It is pain and hurt that usually drives them to seek spiritual solace. At this point in their lives, they can be difficult due to their life circumstances. This is when it is crucial to bring openness and a listening heart to provide the one thing that most people need when they are suffering: Hope.

Loving the difficult is a choice and it must be made every day. All encounters we have with others can be viewed as opportunities to grow and stretch ourselves more into the likeness of Christ. With this positive attitude and an open, approachable spirit, we can reach out to the difficult in the power of Christ to make an eternal impact on their lives as well as experience a deepening commitment of love and obedience to our Lord.

Happy Monday, Ladies!

Source: imgfave.com via Megan on Pinterest

Welcome back from what we hope was a wonderful weekend. We sure had a blast at the Self-Defense class on Saturday. It was a huge success! If you missed the action, be sure to look out for it next year!

As we wrap up this short month, we wanted to be sure to keep you updated on the happenings here in the office. We have a little something planned for everyone in the coming weeks, so be sure to see what interests you!

Monday, March 4: COLLEGE GIRL'S NIGHT (7-9pm) 
For college ladies only! Come join us for a night of fun at Magnolia Hill with our own Mrs. Charlotte Akin. Be ready to be just a little bit silly, spend time getting to know one another and Mrs. Akin, and (of course) snack on some delicious goodies!

March 12: TERM 2 BEGINS
If you are interested in taking BWI classes this semester, time is running out to turn in your applications and register for Term 2 classes. Be sure to contact us here at the office if you have any questions! (919)761-2340 or womenslife@sebts.edu

Monday, March 18: PROJECT:COMPASSION (7-8:30pm)
At this Connecting Point event, we will hear from Dr. Steve McKinion and his wife Ginger about how to minister to the hurting. All of us know someone who is in the middle of a difficult time, but we often don't really know what to do or how to encourage them. Dr. McKinion and Ginger will walk us through what it's like to go through painful circumstances and how Christians can minister to those who are hurting. Stay tuned for more information! In the meantime, feel free to check out Dr. McKinion's blog for more of their story.

Once again, Dr. Akin will be hosting his wonderful Family Life Conference here. The conference is open to the public, so be sure to secure your spot by registering today! Dr. Akin’s heartfelt teaching on marriage, child-rearing and many other topics will leave you refreshed and encouraged. For more information, please visit the Family Life webpage. This conference is also available as a BWI class.

As always, if you have any questions at all, don't hesitate to be in touch! 919.716.2340 or womenslife@sebts.edu

We look forward to seeing you! 

Well, it's Fun Friday here on the blog & we thought we'd spend our time telling you why you should be at tomorrow's event.  So, be prepared to be convinced...we'll be expecting your phone calls to register ;) 

Top 10Reasons
 You Should be at Tomorrow’s Event

1.  Because every girl needs to know how to defend herself in sticky situations
2. Women's Life will be there (and we're cool)
3. You might learn how to body slam someone
4.You might also learn how to break someone's arm
5. You WILL learn how to gain wrist control (if you don't know what we're talking about...click here)
6. Every girl needs to know how to defend herself in sticky situtations (like we said above)
7. Nathan Brown will probably demonstrate a drop-kick
8. Women's Life will be there (and we're still cool)
10. It's just going to be plain AMAZING!

Well, we hope you liked our Top 10 Reasons You Should be at Tomorrow's Event!  We hope to see you there!! 

Last Call For Self Defense Class!

Did you miss our homemade self defense video from earlier this week?  Fear not, here it is again for your viewing pleasure!

Register today by contacting Women's Life at womenslife@sebts.edu ~ (919)761.2340. 

Childcare is available for FREE, but you must register your child(ren) TODAY by emailing us at womenslife@sebts.edu.  

Can't wait to see y'all Saturday morning! Grab your neighbor, and your water bottle & get ready to get your self defense on!

As we continue on with this month's posts about LOVE, today's blog post is one you do not want to miss!  We're featuring guest blogger Kittie Trail today, and boy does she have some great words of insight for us.  Check out the post below to read the personal journey Kittie has walked in the past year, and what she has to tell us about loving those that are hurting.  

One year ago this month, I experienced a new dimension of hurting and suffering when I was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer.  After a year of treatments, including radiation, two series of chemotherapy and two surgeries, I have been declared NED (No Evidence of Disease). I am cancer free!! Praise God!  I am rejoicing but also have a new understanding and perspective of those who are hurting and suffering.  I had never had much more than a cold in my life and really didn’t know what it was like to be in pain or to suffer.  The Lord has walked with me every step of the way on this amazing journey that has been blessed beyond measure.  I didn’t say it was “pleasant” or “without frustration” but very “blessed”.

Looking back over the past year I have seen the mighty healing power of our awesome God.  However, not everyone who is hurting or suffering experiences that result.  That doesn’t mean there is a lack of faith or that God can’t heal or bring relief.  He can do whatever He chooses to do.  There is a great deal of false theology floating around that says, “If you just have faith you will be healed or you won’t have to suffer”.  That does not line up with the teaching of Scripture.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about being “given a thorn in the flesh”—he was suffering.  He pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away.  But God chose not to remove it.  Instead the Lord said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Did Paul lack faith?  No, Paul said, “I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardship, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  Strong’s Greek Lexicon describes weakness as feebleness of health or sickness.   Paul was well acquainted with hurting and suffering yet chose to “delight” in what he was going through.  He experienced God’s grace in the midst of his suffering.

When I was going through treatment, I never thought I would find myself saying, “Thank you God for cancer”, or that I would find any joy on the journey.  But somewhere in the midst of the illness and treatments, there was no other response than gratitude for God’s grace.  One of the reasons is because I was surrounded with people who knew how to love me during some of the most difficult days of my life. 

When we announced my diagnosis to family and friends, it was like the flood gates of blessings began to pour in.  I got texts, email messages, phone calls and literally hundreds of cards from all over the world.  I wanted to keep each card that arrived, so I bought a really large decorative box.  I call it my “Blessing Box” because it is full of over 200 cards of encouragement, Scripture, handmade notes, and hundreds of promises of prayers.  

On Valentine’s Day, my first day of chemo and radiation treatments began.  Special friends decorated our house with posters, cards, candy and more messages.  When I came home from the hospital, it was like walking into a room full of love. 

Four very dear sisters in the Lord who lived on three different continents managed to piece together a quilt for me. I was literally wrapped with their love and prayers.  Another group of friends showed up one day with a new chest freezer full of frozen homemade dinners.  They knew my husband doesn’t cook and that nutrition would be essential to my healing.  Flowers, more meals, friends cleaning my house and doing yard work just kept coming for 11 months.  The body of Christ showed up with a healing balm that was an amazing display of being the hands and feet of Christ Himself.  There was no other appropriate response to cancer but gratitude.

One day I was checking into the hospital for a treatment.  The receptionist always asked, “Is there someone with you?”  My sweet husband never let me go alone to a treatment.  If he couldn’t go with me, he made sure someone else was there.  I was very saddened one day as an older gentlemen came for treatment by his self.  His response to the nurse’s question was, “No, I’m all alone.”  My heart broke to think that he was suffering all alone.  I met another lady who came to treatment on the public bus, all alone.  I was never alone.  The Lord was always there, and He surrounded me with friends and family from all over the world to encourage and pray for me…..people who knew how to love when it hurts. 

Hurting usually involves some sort of loss.  Loss can come in many forms other than death---loss of a job, loss of a home and community due to a move, loss of good health, or loss of a relationship.  Whatever the loss, there is usually hurt or suffering. 

So how do we respond?

  • Listen, listen, listen.  Don’t offer advice or solutions, just be there and listen. Quiet presence, especially for the sick is important.  Most of the time, there is nothing you can say to make the pain go away.  Try not to give advice or focus on your own pain. 
  • Acts of kindness - Shower people with tangible blessings like meals, offers of house cleaning, taking care of children, rides to doctor’s appointments, etc. Offer specific aid that you know you can deliver.
  • Phone calls, written words of encouragement or any gesture that says, “I haven’t forgotten you.”   Life goes on for those who are not in the midst of hurting.  For the hurting, often, one cannot leave their home or be involved in regular activities.  Skype or do Face Time if you can’t be there in person. Loneliness can be intense.
  • Pray, pray, pray.  Don’t be afraid to ask your hurting friend, “How can I pray for you?”
  • Allowing someone to vent and talk is very therapeutic.  It will help you to know how to be more specific in your prayers.  

Finally, remember to say “I love you” and your heavenly Father loves you even more.  You are not forgotten or ever alone.        

Kittie Trail has been a missionary with the International Mission Board (IMB) for the past 30 years working mainly in Africa.  She, and her husband, Randy, are on a temporary assignment serving as Assoc Personnel Consultants for IMB and live in Wake Forest, NC.  They have an office on the campus of SEBTS and enjoy walking with students and others in the area who are going the application process to become missionaries.  They have three grown sons who were all raised on the mission field.

Get your Karate On!

Happy Monday SEBTS ladies! 

If you've been reading our blog recently, you've probably noticed an event we've been promoting...
it's this Saturday's

Self-Defense Class
with Nathan Brown.

As much as we hate to admit it, facts are facts girls; knowing basic self-defense techniques is important for women of any age, living anywhere.  This is why we like to offer a FREE...yes, I said FREE...self-defense class each year for our SEBTS gals.

This year is no exception.  To help promote this event, we've thrown together a little homemade video demonstrating the importance of self-defense for SEBTS women!  Now, even though our scenarios might be a little "far out there," you still get the point.  Every girl needs to be prepared!  

Enjoy the video...and we hope to see you Saturday!!

*Special thanks goes to Scott Jones whose last name was dropped in the credits :)

Register by emailing or calling Women's Life at womenslife@sebts.edu or 919.761.2340.
Childcare is FREE...children must be registered by this Thursday, 2.21.13.
Wear comfortable, modest clothes...and bring water!!

Happy February 15th!!!

It's the day after Valentine's Day.

The best thing about the day after Valentine's Day is getting into a duel with your best girl friends to see who can come up with the cheesiest pick-up line.

Did you hear any good ones yesterday?

But seriously, I probably would have said "Yes" to Greg if he ever did this:

Happy Friday, ya'll :)

Saint Valentine

Happy  Valentine’s Day  everyone! 
Our very own Dr. Liederbach has written today's post about one of the traditions surrounding the man for whom the day is named. Read on and remember the true spirit of our Father's Love. 

Rearranging Our Focus

Church Tradition records that in the year 269 or 270 AD (the historical record is unclear of the exact year) a young man living in the Roman empire saw something that changed his life – and influenced western Christianity for close to 1800 years.

While not a Christian himself and uncertain of his own beliefs, this young man saw something profound and intriguing in the lives of his Christian friends.  The mere fact that his friends where Christian made them objects of state-sanctioned wrath and persecution under the emperor Claudius. And yet, even while persecuted for their faith, their love and devotion toward one another and toward him was astonishing. 

Honored by their friendship, and intrigued by their faith, this young man voluntarily aided his Christian friends to such an extent that even though not a Christ follower himself, he also was eventually imprisoned.

It was there, while he was alone and afraid in a Roman jail, that his Christian friends visited him and this young man – whose name was Valentine - finally understood and embraced the Christian gospel.

It was not long after his conversion that the Roman officials presented Valentine with a choice: recant your faith and be freed or refuse and suffer the consequences. He refused.
As tradition would have it, he was then clubbed to death on February 14th

Before he died, however, he is said to have sent a message to his Christian friends saying: “Remember your Valentine... I love you”
Source Unknown
Ultimately, no one is quite sure of the exact details of the origination of the Valentine’s day tradition, but one thing that is sure is that a Christian by the name of Valentine was martyred for his faith in the year 269 or 270.

The truly curious thing, however, is that a day originally meant to commemorate the simple, yet stunning faith of a Christian believer willing to sacrifice his life instead of denying his faith has been reduced to a day that commemorates trivial crushes with heart shaped candies and a rather strange, almost naked, bow and arrow toting, pagan Greek god named Cupid. 

Sadly, the pure message of the life-altering good news that Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead as a way to offer payment for our sins and enable a new life based on faith in God and his promises has become little more than a holiday that serves as a litmus test of puppy love.  

Perhaps this Valentine day, amidst the heart flowers, cards, and guilt motivated purchase of candy, it might be a blessing to take a moment with your sweetheart and consider the real meaning of this special day.

Why would Valentine die for his faith? 

Perhaps Romans 5:8 holds the answer.  It is because “God demonstrates His love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”

And that kind of love is so compelling, so stunning, so simple that when we “get it” it is worth living for… and it is worth dying for.

That makes a lot more sense than trying to get a diaper clad puny god to shoot a love arrow at one’s latest crush.

Picture from http://www.sxc.hu

Dr. Liederbach is a professor of Theology, Ethics, and Culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the Dean of Students, Vice President for Student Services, and a research fellow for the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture. His official short bio reads, "Sinner. Worse than you. Saved by grace."