Category Archives: Devotional

Hospitality Table: The Unseen Guest at Every Meal

Editor’s Note: Today’s blog post, “Hospitality Table: The Unseen Guest at Every Meal,” is written by Vic and Christine, who serve with Medical Ambassadors International at the California headquarters office. Vic is a medical doctor who coordinates MAI’s international ministry in holistic community development. Christine is a former Fulbright Scholar and health educator who served in Africa and then later in Asia with her husband. They homeschool their two girls, Selah and Rinnah.

Brunch at the Hospitality Table

If this table could talk… It might seem strange to ask for prayer for our dining room table. It’s a long, heavy, big black table that my husband’s brother gave us when we returned from Asia and moved to California’s Central Valley. Sometimes, the table gets covered in mail and butterfly crafts and piano lesson books, and it’s seen its share of spills and scratches. But, in our family priorities, its main role is to be the gathering place for our guests.

If the table could talk, it might tell you about friends from Africa trying to use chopsticks for the first time … or neighbors hanging out drinking spiced cider at Christmas … or lots of international development workers sharing about all the things they get to do all over the world, in places like Albania and Pakistan and Europe and Central America, and even the USA. It would tell you about special visits from family, when we enjoyed meals and conversations face-to-face. And, it could tell you about refugees sharing their stories of heartbreak and their stories of hope.

This past month, we heard a Muslim man at our table talk about his journey of faith and his search for God, and it was striking how connected our stories can be, when Victor, my husband, began sharing about God’s love with this man through a story about Victor’s own parents’ journey of faith when they were new immigrants to the USA. Would you pray for this man? And would you please pray that God would continue to fill our table with people —and that He would be that “unseen Guest” at every meal?

Prayer Project

Please take 10-15 minutes to prayerfully reflect:

  1. Lord, how do I use my home and my dining room table for hospitality?
  2. Lord, how can hospitality become the venue for sharing the gospel message?
  3. Abba, how am I demonstrating love of God and neighbor through how I invite and receive others into my home?
  4. Lord, what have I taught my children about Christian hospitality in the context of homeschooling and daily life?
  5. Abba, have I taught my children that you are the “unseen Guest” at every meal?

Lord Jesus, I want nothing more than to do your bidding. Help me to prayerfully invite others to sit at our table and break bread together. Help me to model for my children the meaning of Christian hospitality and invite them into the development of their own gifts in the area of hospitality. Lord, help my children become aware of the “unseen Guest” at every meal. Expand my heart to give more, hear more, see more, pray more, and love more. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Christine and Vic, Medical Ambassadors International

Soul Surgery – The Power of Confessing Our Sins Together

Mom and Daughter pray together - the soul surgery of confession

Have you ever been involved in the soul surgery of family or church confession to God for failure in any area? I have. I remember a time when our elders confessed their failing and when our church corporately confessed our failing in the same meeting. Members stood up, confessed their sin, and then we all prayed our confession corporately. I also remember a time when a member of our church staff confessed moral failure from the pulpit and resigned. And, I remember times in my own household when my husband and I would have to come before the Lord and confess our failure in response to a disagreement, confessing our poor responses to one another and to God. Read more

Emotional Prayer – Teaching Your Children to Pray What They Feel

Hands held, praying together - emotional prayer blog

I recently took a three-day retreat. During this time, I stayed at a spiritual retreat house that included a small library with many Christian books. Among the books, I found Tom Holladay’s The Relationship Principles of Jesus (2008). I was completely struck by Tom’s second exercise on relationship which included David’s model of Emotional Prayer, based on the Psalms. Read more

What If? – Staying True to the Intergenerational Investment of Home Education

Silhouette of a Child leaning against a tree and reading the Bible

In the 75th anniversary of Wycliffe’s ministry in Bible translation, I found myself absorbed in reading their history over the holidays. Obstacles, such as cross-cultural and linguistic challenges, kidnapping, and martyrdom wove throughout Wycliffe’s history.

I was particularly struck by the story of Chet Bitterman. When Chet was considering missions work, he told his wife, “I’ve only got seventy-five years on this earth at best. I want to use them to give someone the Bible.” So in obedience to their calling, this young couple joined Wycliffe (p. 103). Chet and his wife, Brenda, prepared for missions work and were to work with the Carijona people. As they prepared to move to this village in Colombia, they were at the Summer Institute of Linguistics in Colombia.

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Should you be sheltering students from evidence against Christianity?

Editor’s Note: Sean McDowell is an internationally known apologist, author and expert on helping youth cultivate a flourishing faith. Originally posted to on January 13, 2017, today’s article was the #1 post on his blog last year. Have thoughts to share about Sheltering Students? Join the conversation on Facebook.

Teenage girl with backpack steps into a shelter in the woods

Sheltering students from beliefs contrary to Christianity is a big mistake. Let me say it again, to be sure it sinks in: Sheltering students from arguments for other religions, or against Christianity, is a bad strategy for developing them as disciples in the faith.

In his book You Lost Me, researcher David Kinnaman argues that “protecting” kids from opposing viewpoints is ultimately detrimental to their faith. Like “helicopter parents” who “hover” over their children to keep them from any conceivable danger, many young Christians feel that the church demonizes everything outside the church, fails to expose students to the complexities of the “real” world, and is too overprotective. Read more

Resolutions for Change: Conducting Teacher Evaluations for Homeschoolers

Woman holding up a shiny January Calendar for resolutions - BYA's Teacher Evaluation blogHappy New Year! When January 1st rolls around, homeschoolers have the opportunity to hit the reset button, and get a fresh start by creating resolutions together. Doing this well takes intention, motivation and careful conversation with your children.

Now that you are half-way through the homeschooling year, take inventory of how things are going. Carve out time in your busy schedule to pause, reflect, and pray about the last few months. Ask God to highlight the strengths of your family and homeschooling—and to graciously point out areas to improve in the coming year. Read more

Budgeting for Teens – Five Money Tips for Homeschoolers

Teen's homeschool desk with budgeting supplies

As home educators, we have the opportunity to teach our children invaluable life skills, such as financial literacy—this begins with budgeting for teens under our roof.

My mother taught me a great method for managing my money as a young child. It was the 10/10/80 plan. I would tithe 10% of my allowance, save 10% of my allowance, and spend 80% of my allowance. I have implemented the 10/10/80 most of my life, except, as I have gotten older and had more income, I give more than 10% and save more than 10%. By always living within my means, I don’t go into debt, except for items that are true investments, such as real estate or an education. Read more

Giving Notes of Thanks

Editor’s note: Today’s blog, “Giving Notes of Thanks,” is written by Michelle Eastman, and adapted from the archives of her blog, A Heart Surrendered. Michelle is a veteran homeschool mom, who is educating five boys and a girl at home. She is also the wife of Dennis Eastman, Associate Director of Biola Youth Academics. We hope you enjoy her practical insight and Spirit-filled wisdom, and visit her on her blog.

Giving Notes of Thanks – Card that says "Thanks" next to a coffee cup with heart latte artToday has been a day of joy and reflection … and both were needed for the hurting and weary heart that beats in my chest.

This morning I was given the glorious gift of an entire hour to myself! My children were gone, my tennis shoes were laced, and I embarked on the long walk I had been dreaming of for days.

It had just stopped raining, so the temperature was crisp, the streets were wet, and the air smelled fresh and clean. For this rain-loving girl it was the perfect setting for my time alone. Read more

Too Tired to Pray – Finding Rest in the Stress

Editor’s Note: On October 6, 2017, after 42 days in the hospital, June Hetzel’s brother moved on to glory. The following blog post, “Too Tired to Pray,” was written in the midst of those trying 42 days.

Looking into a hospital room - too tired to pray BYA blog

Have you ever felt too tired to pray? I have. For example, right now, I am in the midst of untold agony as my only brother, Rick, is fighting for his life at Kaiser Permanente, Anaheim Hills. It’s day 37. He’s out of ICU but he’s not out of the woods. Yesterday was the first day in 37 days that he could breathe on his own for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, he had to get a tracheostomy at day 21. His digestive track is not working and they had to move him from a feeding tube to feeding intravenously. His kidneys are working at 50%. His skin is deteriorating from an advanced case of diabetes. He suffers from depression and I am completely helpless and hopeless to save my brother, and so are the doctors. They give my brother a grim diagnosis. All my emotional energy goes to him. I try to conduct daily business as normal, but nothing’s normal. I’m emotionally exhausted and physically exhausted. I need frequent breaks. Then, I fell and hit my face on the cement. Bleeding, numb teeth, swollen lips, painful nose. Ugh. The Lord forced me to rest … for days. Read more

Prayer and Self-Regulation: A Spiritual Practice that Increases Focus and Self Control

Editor’s Note: Enjoy this week’s blog by Luciano Cid, Assistant Professor of Biola University’s School of Education, as he explains the connection between the role of prayer and self-regulation in a child’s development.

Young Girl reading quietly on a couch demonstrating prayer and self-regulationRecently, while I was teaching Sunday school to a group of four and five year old children, I experienced an amazing psycho-spiritual event. You see, although the children who normally make up my Sunday school class tend to be extremely well behaved and respectful, this particular day, for some reason, a great majority of them were acting a bit unruly. Read more

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