Wednesday, December 26, 2007

"The Excellent Wife" is a wonderful source of advice

In light of my post about giving and receiving advice I’d like to once again recommend Martha Peace’s The Excellent Wife as a wonderful resource which is packed full of biblical advice. I would happily recommend this book to any woman preparing for marriage. Martha continually draws her readers to the word of God. Reading The Excellent Wife is one way to become equipped to pass on truly wise advice, when asked. It covers everything from homemaking to submission, speech to bitterness – all with a thorough biblical basis. It is easy to compare Martha’s advice to God’s advice, because she continually refers to the Bible. This means that readers can assess the basis for her comments. I am still working through the study guide, and I find it a great way to learn to love my husband better. Applying the word of God with the help of the Holy Spirit is the only way to effectively address the sins and problems I sometimes encounter as a new wife.

Christmas pictures

I created these angels for our tree after seeing one at a local Christian book store. They are achievable for anyone who is confident with paper craft and is not a perfectionist. The angel I originally saw had a white head but I could only find brown ones, so I figured it would be good to have a multi-racial Christmas tree! Our tree is mainly decorated with angels and stars, as these symbolise aspects of the story of Christ's birth. If you would like to know how to make these angels, I can give instructions in the comments section of this post.

Dave cooked a turkey for Christmas day. Well done, Dave!

We had a lovely time with family.

It was our second Christmas at my parents' home, and our second with my sister's twins.

We also enjoyed relaxing together at home. It was a lovely first Christmas as a married couple.

A new blog plan

This weekend I am a bridesmaid at the wedding of Christina and Peirce. You will be able to tell form the website that it is quite an elaborate affair! I do not anticipate being online again before Monday or Tuesday next week.

When I come back I am going to start on a new discipline with my blogging. I thought of this while praying about my blog last week. I have a little plan to help me keep on track with the goals of my blog, as set out in the welcome message. I have a monthly plan that goes like this . . .

Week 1: Creation Mandate

Week 2: Loving God (the first part of the Great Commandment)

Week 3: Loving others (the second part)

Week 4: The Great Commission (which I see as a sub-set of the Great Commandment)

I hope that this will help me to post more on each of these important areas. I will also continue to post about other things, but I will try to do at least one post on the topic that is allocated for that week.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Apathy is the opposite of love

I once heard a preacher say that “Hate is not the opposite of love. Apathy is.” Since then I’ve often thought about this quote in relation to the problem of abortion. In the church in Australia, apathy is the most common reaction to abortion. This was illustrated when a group I am a part of arranged a launch of the work we have been doing toward a pregnancy crisis centre. Our group hopes to offer support to pregnant women, and to share with them the saving love of Christ. For our "launch" we planned presentations for guests to view, boards with information and prayer points, and even show bags for guests to take home. The secretary sent invitations to 41 churches in the Hobart area. Only five guests attended who were not either committee members or their relatives. Several of these were friends of the committee members.

At this time of year I remember what happened to me six years ago, when I attended an abortion debate at Parliament House. On that day, my heart was touched in relation to this issue. I wrote about this experience in my article Abortion broke into my heart. If God had not caused this to have such an impact upon me, I am sure that I would also be apathetic. Abortion is a very difficult topic to discuss and to try to do anything about. Just last week I was so discouraged with the whole thing, and so disappointed that what I try to do often turns out poorly, that I seriously thought about stopping this work. Shortly after that, God intervened again. I received a call from Bruce Coleman of Choices of Life. I have known Bruce for some years now, through his pro-life work, and our conversation reminded me that God is working with us. He does not give up, and neither can I. God calls Christians to love those who are caught up in this sin, and to love their children. They, too, are our neighbours.

Edit 26/12/07: Apologies for the fact that the links were not working on this post. I hope that the problem is now fixed.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Why grow a veggie garden?

. . . fill the earth and subdue it . . .
Genesis 1:28

The original idea

For a long time now I've been meaning to post about our vegetable garden. We decided to grow a vegetable garden after discussing the potential environmental impact of having a larger than usual family. Obviously we don't have any children yet, but we do hope and pray that God will bless us children. During our engagement we discussed the wasteful nature of modern society, and agreed that we did not want to raise a clan of relentless consumers. The modern household is often solely a place of consumption, rather than a place of production. People come home to consume the pre-packaged meals they purchased at the supermarket or take away, and watch the TV shows and movies that someone has produced for them. We want to turn our household into a place of production.

The spiritual motivation

Our vegetable garden as one way we can fulfill the Creation Mandate to steward the earth. We moved into a home with raised beds that had already been put in place. All we had to do was dig the earth and plant. We are subduing the earth God has given us in our own yard, rather than draining agricultural land. We are making use of what we have been given to grow healthier food which is very convenient to use . . . just walk out the door and pluck a few leaves! God placed Adam and Eve in a garden, and I have a feeling that he always intended people to grow things. You can see this in the way that even city dwellers like to grow a plant or two. There is something in the way that we were created as God's image bearers that makes us wants to cultivate the earth and make it bring forth good things.

And God said, "See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Genesis 1:29

The results

We have been very pleased with the results of our vegetable garden. So far we have harvested snow peas, beetroot (Dave's favourite), lettuce, carrots, celery, zucchini, coriander, basil, silver beet, and baby spinach. The garden gives us a lot of pleasure, even though it is also hard work. We love to go out and look at how the plants are growing, and it is often the first place we head to in the morning - even before we eat! I busy myself working out how to use all that we grow.

More inspiration

I have gained inspiration from my mother's vegetable garden, which is filled with an abundance of good things. I had to laugh when I went around there yesterday and saw her rows of lettuce, silver beet, beetroot, and other vegetables . . . when there are only two living there now! My mother's vegetable garden allows her to be very generous in giving away food, which is a wonderful thing to be able to do. Mum's garden was the place that started our discussions about growing our own food.

The Girotti family also have an inspirational vegetable patch. It looks amazing! When I saw this, my thought was "I hope our garden looks like that someday".

The garden is a wonderful place to think about Jesus' parables of reaping and sowing. It is also a good place to think of the wonderful prayer "The Deeps" and of "roots of grace spreading far and wide".

A favourite family picture

This picture was taken at my younger brother Aidan's wedding last month. It is fantastic to have all the brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews in the picture, all smiling, at once! Amazing!

Will Zuma be the new South African President?

This morning Dave and I discussed South African politics in the light of the recent election of Jacob Zuma to the African National Congress (ANC) Presidency. The ANC has won every election since the end of apartheid, so he is very likely to be South Africa's next president.

The Australian published a profile about Mr Zuma, noting that he happily admits to being a polygamist. He is also an alleged rapist and has been confronted with charges of corruption.

In "Profile: Zuma charms wives and nation", The Australian notes that Mr Zuma has four official wives and several girlfriends.

He is undoubtedly a master politician, one of the few who can combine township militancy and traditional African values - one day punching the air at an ANC rally, the next dancing in a leopard-skin loincloth at a Zulu village ceremony.

To say the least, my husband is concerned about this situation in South Africa. This morning in our conversations we were reminded that we need to avoid worrying about tomorrow. Concerns about changes that will lead South Africa toward dictatorship may well be unfounded.

Michael Spicer, of Business Leadership in Africa, said: “It is more a question of style than substance. Zuma cannot possibly deliver all he has promised but he represents a desire for change. I don't think economic policy or government would in fact change very much.”

Whether or not Zuma will change the South African political landscape dramatically, one thing is certain. He is not a godly leader. Will you join with us in praying for godly government in South Africa?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Freedom from the bondage of perfectionism

I think as wives and mothers, we have a tendency to fall in to the trap of perfectionism rather easily. It starts with a very good and noble desire to set a godly example for our families, our fellow Christians, and the lost. But, before we know it, we start comparing ourselves to others and feeling we fall woefully short. Jennie Chancey, Passionate Housewives Desperate for God, page 70.

One of my favourite parts of Passionate Housewives Desperate for God: Fresh Vision for the Hopeful Homemaker by Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald is the chapter titled “Too Good to be True: Freedom from the Bondage of Perfectionism”. One of the first pages I flipped to when I opened the book contained Jennie’s description of the way she loads herself with goals, when her husband would rather she did less and relaxed. After only a few months of marriage, I’ve worked out that this is the case for me as well.

“God has created me to be my husband’s helper – not a slave to my own whims or wishes.” Jennie Chancey.

This fact is so important to remember. I am sure that husbands do exist who load their wives down with unrealistic expectations. However, the majority of Christian men would greatly prefer a relaxed, happy wife than one who was constantly trying to perform at her unrealistically high standards!

“God gets all the glory when weak and frail sinners succeed.” Jennie Chancey.

When we are weak, we are reminded of our need for God. He is the only one who can make us holy, or enable us to succeed in any way. Jennie does not advocate laxness or laziness, but she does help readers to have realistic expectations of their own abilities. God does not wait for us to be perfect before he uses us to accomplish great things through our homes.

I particularly need to learn to trust that God can accomplish what he desires in my home despite the limitations of my chronic back pain and even my sin. If I am very sore and need to sit or lie down, instead of trying to do housework and ending up in tears, that is OK. If I become weepy because I let sinful emotions rule, this serves as another reminder of the fact that I need to continually repent and come to Christ. God is perfect and I am not. That is why he sent his son to die on the cross for my sins.

I’ll end with a final encouraging quote:

“But however noble our goals may be, they are utter fully if we do not keep foremost the greatest goal of them all: “He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30). It isn’t about me. It doesn’t depend on me. I will never be “good enough”, but God will always be gracious enough.”

Thank you, Jennie, for writing a wonderful chapter in a wonderful book!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Why is abortion after rape very rare?

In my recent post Why Would a Rape Victim Choose Life I mentioned that pregnancy after rape is rare. The excellent book Who Broke the Baby by Jean Staker Garton gives the reasons why this is the case.
  • Statistical odds against pregnancy resulting from any single sex act. Normally, women are only fertile one day a month, although sperm can live in her body for up to five days.
  • Women subject to emotional trauma will not ovulate, even if under normal circumstances they would do so.
  • Rape studies show a higher percentage of sterility and vasectomies among rapists.
  • Pregnancies that might occur from rape can be prevented with immediate medical treatment given in the five or six intervening hours between the sex act and the union of egg and sperm.

Due to this, abortion after rape would be very rare if it was allowed as an exception to abortion laws.

Why Would a Rape Victim Choose Life?

The social context

When I asked a local political candidate for her position on abortion, she spoke for a lot of people when she said: “I don’t support abortion as a form of birth control, but when a woman has been raped I think there should be a choice.”

Abortions after rape are only a tiny percentage of the total number of abortions, even smaller than the percentage that are related to a potential disability in the baby. Yet they feature disproportionately in public debate.

“The frequent references to it leave the false impression that pregnancy due to rape is common, rather than rare.” Randy Alcorn, Why Prolife, p. 79.

Even though pro-choice advocates support access to abortion for everyone, they often focus upon rape victims. A good question to ask someone who argues for abortion in cases of rape is “If you support abortions for rape victims but not abortion in all cases, will you then work with me to reduce the number of other abortions?”

Would an abortion help a rape victim?

The public debate also assumes that abortion is the best thing for a woman who has been raped. This makes sense if you assume that abortion is a benign event that usually does not leave long term emotional scars. The truth is, however, that many women do experience trauma as a result of their abortion decisions. This is especially the case for those who held pro-life values prior to the difficulties that led them to abort.

“It is hard to imagine a worse therapy for a woman who’s been raped than the guilt and turmoil of having her child killed.” Randy Alcorn, Why Prolife, p. 81.

The assumption that abortion is the best thing for a raped woman to do means that there is often pressure to take this course. As with many other abortions, it is easier for the people who are close to the woman if the problem is “taken away”. One fictional account of what can happen in real life is Francine Rivers’ book The Atonement Child. This riveting book is well worth a read.

The child is not guilty

Like rape, abortion is an act of violence. The woman who has been the victim of a violent act is now encouraged to become an aggressor herself. A child should not be punished for the sins of his or her father. A rape victim should not be encouraged to continue the spiral of violence.

“Having and holding an innocent child can do much more good for a victimized woman than the knowledge that an innocent child died in a fruitless attempt to reduce her trauma.” Randy Alcorn, Why Prolife, p. 80.

This blog post was created in answer to one of the questions I have received.

St. Nicholas

Faith has posted about some of her traditions. You can read about her family traditions in relation to St. Nicholas, the man behind the tradition of Santa Claus, in her second traditions post.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Biblical, balanced teaching on submission

The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace contains a lot of teaching about biblical submission. I have been completing the study guide, which is a great way to think more about the teachings in the book.

Here are five ways a submissive wife honours God’s word . . .

  1. Obeying God is more important to her than having her own way
  2. She reverently fears the Lord
  3. She lets God’s word direct her life
  4. Her life shows an example of the church’s submission to Christ
  5. She is submissive whether she feels like it or not.

The Excellent Wife is extraordinarily complete and balanced in its treatment of submission. As well as emphasising the importance of submission, it also addresses difficult cases. In cases where a husband is sinning against his wife, the wife is not to simply “put up with it” in the name of submission. Rather, she is to make use of the protections God offers her. These include giving a biblical reproof, asking the church for assistance, and contacting the police.

“Letting her husband bear the consequences of his sinful behaviour at the hand of either church or governmental authorities is an act of loving obedience to God since God himself has appointed these authorities for her protection”.
Martha Peace, page 173

More mishaps . . .

I’ve been thinking that it may be time to turn my blogging attentions to “homemaking successes” rather than mishaps. After all, homemaking is not all about injuries and failures! However, before I draw this series to a close I must share a few last incidents of note.

Today’s mishaps

This morning when I went into the laundry I discovered that my trousers, which I’d been soaking to remove a stain, had mysteriously gained several new stains that were worse than the first one. Mum came over this afternoon and informed me that I had soaked them for too long, failed to submerge the whole article in the water, and used an inferior stain remover. So I sent them home with her in the hope of a resurrection.

This morning I was baking cookies for Dave. I wanted to change the trays around in the oven. I placed one on the stovetop while I went to move the other one to the lower shelf. The tray on the stovetop must not have been placed correctly, and it came sliding down on top of me. All the cookies slid off the tray and mysteriously disappeared into the crack between the oven floor and the bottom of the door. They door must have acted as a cookie slippery dip. I asked Dave to clean up the mess. I can’t face my own mistakes sometimes. Thankfully, there was still one tray of cookies left to reward him with.

Mum and Dave seemed to think that both of these incidents were very funny. I disagreed.

Hanging pictures

The house we are renting has very few picture hooks. Since I figure that it is well within a homemaker’s abilities to hand a few pictures, I went ahead and purchased the necessary materials, and set about enthusiastically putting holes in walls. In one notable incident, a picture’s hook came out. As the picture fell from the wall its frame broke and it made a large scratch. This white gash in the dark blue paint now forms a constant reminder that hanging pictures is not as easy as it looks.

Jutting rubbish bins

I really can’t leave the topic of homemaking mishaps before I mention the important subject of rubbish bins with metal pedals. Every homemaker should know that placing them in certain locations can be hazardous. Before I moved mine to a safer place, I sustained cuts to the inside of my little toe on a number of occasions. This caused days of pain and complaints. Please, for your own sake, never place these bins in thoroughfares.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Giving and receiving advice

The discussions surrounding my honeymoon lovin’ posts made me think about the topic of advice. Women tend to think that their experience is an appropriate measure of what other women’s experience will be. They then give advice based upon this. This is what I did. My friend Christine Jolly also did so on her blog, when she advised women to go to the doctor. Since experience is not a necessarily a reliable guide to what others should or shouldn’t do, we need to give experience based advice with plenty of disclaimers. Even though I did not need to go to the doctor or read books, some women may benefit from these things. Even though some women benefit from going to the doctor, others are fine without doing so.

What kind of advice can we give wholeheartedly, then? God’s advice applies to everyone, regardless of circumstances. The best thing we can do is to point people to the Bible. This is true with regard to problems that can arise on honeymoons, as it is in other areas of life. Many of the problems women shared with me arose partly from a lack of biblical understanding. They had false ideas about what was sinful. A thorough understanding of God’s word would have created a healthy anticipation of God’s plan, rather than serious fear or inhibitions. Therefore, I can wholeheartedly advise any woman to consider the Bible’s teaching on sexuality in the months prior to marriage.

The Bible is also the first place to turn when we are given advice. Often we receive snippets of advice in the course of conversation. The person may not intend to “advise” us, they’re just sharing experience or ideas and giving recommendations on the basis of that. Sometimes this advice is excellent, with a wonderful biblical basis. At other times it is based only on human ideas or experiences. One piece of advice Dave and I received from several godly people was “wait a while before having babies”! We had already decided not to deliberately wait. Yet we took these comments seriously.

Clarity was given when we thought about whether or not the advice was biblically based. We quickly realised that no one had given us any biblical reasons for waiting. We’d been told that it was easier not to have babies, it gave you freedom to travel, you could “get to know each other”, and you could establish yourselves financially. These comments came from a well-meaning desire to help us avoid hardship, but they were not based upon any biblical ideas. Since we’d tried hard to develop a biblical perspective on child bearing, we felt free to continue to plan according to this rather than according to human experiences or ideas. We didn’t need to fear.

On the Internet there are many people giving their “two cents worth” about a host of topics. Some want to warn us away from evangelical feminists, others from advocates of biblical patriarchy. Women share their experiences and opinions in regard to everything from submission to motherhood, end times theology to university education. As we read these opinions, it is always worth asking the question “where does this idea come from”. Does it have its origin in the Bible, or is it a product of human opinion and experience? We can learn a lot from the experiences of others, but ultimately we will answer to God.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Decorating the tree

Dave loves decorating Christmas trees! He has many fond memories of growing up years when the whole family would join in the fun.

This was a pleasant break in the midst of the hard slog of PhD completion and wondering about the future. We are currently wondering how to manage a move to Melbourne for a couple of months in the new year, which is necessary due to Dave's PhD.

A bit of light fun in the midst of lots of work . . . and a fun memory of our first tree as a married couple!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Foolish speaking harms us

Whoever guards his mouth and tongue
Keeps his soul from troubles.
Proverbs 21:23
I came across this Proverb today and it seemed very relevant to my previous post! As with many other sins, foolish speaking harms the one who does it as much as those who hear it and those who are the victims of it.

I'd like to draw your attention to a great resource on the topic of speech. Scott Brown's CD Gossip: The Plague of the Church is a very thought provoking and challenging message. I recently lent it to a friend, but after it is returned I am happy to lend it to anyone else I'm in physical contact with. As sisters (and brothers) in Christ, we need to hold one another accountable. I want my sisters in Christ to do this for me. It is very hard to be rebuked, but it is much less harmful than continuing in this sin. Wise women don't gossip, and we need to remind each other of that.

In Proverbs 21 there are also scriptures which are directly relevant to women's tongues . . .

Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop,
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.
Proverbs 21: 9

The same chapter also says that it is better to dwell in the wilderness than with such a woman. As wives (or daughters or sisters), we need to remember the misery we can cause with our tongues. If we push our husbands away, we too will suffer as a result.

Please, speak loving words.

As God's people, we are called to speak words that reflect Christ's love. There are many instructions about the tongue in the Old and New Testaments. One that I remember from Proverbs is: "a wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit".

Stacy McDonald has recently been attacked on the Internet. She writes:

Along with the growth of the Internet, the potential for sin has grown. Rather than gossiping with just one neighbor at a time, now the blogging housewife can count the hits on her site meter as she multiplies her possibilities.

Once, God commanded young widows "to marry, to have children, to manage their homes" because they had been "gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to" and "going about from house to house" (1 Timothy 5:13 - 14). Now, married women with children have access to all kinds of technology that allows them to go from house to house while they sit in the comfort of their own living rooms. The principal of this passage still applies, however. Women need to concentrate their attentions upon loving their husbands, loving their children, and being competent keepers at home (Titus 2) rather than "sharing" with other women. There are, of course, times to share and discuss. As Stacy says:

Let me be clear, I don't believe that an honest critique, or a godly debate or discussion, is an act of slander, libel, or gossip. Book reviews (that actually review a book—not the personal “impressions” the reviewer has about the author), discussions on email lists and blogs regarding a specific teaching or biblical truth, and even respectful debates can be fruitful. Iron sharpens iron and we can all learn a lot in these settings.

Obviously, Stacy has a blog and so she is not saying that women should not share insights or encouragement. However, I do wonder how any woman who is doing her utmost to care for her home and family has time to gossip and slander on the Internet. Personally, I find it hard enough to blog about all the positive, Bible based things that I dream of sharing. I also have little time for reading blogs, and gravitate toward those that affirm what God has designed rather than tear others down.

Please read Stacy's whole article We're Not Gossiping. We're Networking. This is an area of sin that many, many women, myself included, struggle with. While I don't tend toward it on the Internet, it is easy in everyday conversation to choose to share others' sins when it really isn't necessary. Lets purpose to resist the temptation. Lets speak loving words about God's people, even when we disagree with them. Tearing Christians down with our tongues is no way to treat those who will share heaven with us.

Anonymous comments

I just added this rather long explanation of my stance on anonymous comments to my comments pages.

I love to hear from readers! However, please think about whether your comment promotes love for God and others before you submit it. If you comment anonymously, please place your name within the comment. I read all anonymous comments. However, I will not publish any comments that do not include the name of the person who has commented. This stance is a result of some unnamed commenters who attack my beliefs. Please feel free to email me if you do not want to name yourself publicly. My address is on the sidebar of "A Deeper Love".

I did this because over the weekend I received a number of anonymous comments I would have loved to publish. However, I think it is important that I stick to this principle for both positive and negative comments.

Often, when people make negative comments anonymously it is indicative of a lack of respect for this blog and for my beliefs. In recent weeks I have actually been upset as a result of the rudeness of some commenters. I have spent valuable time attempting to respond, putting aside other more worthwhile blog projects, and they appear to have no respect for my attempts. I am not the toughest person, and tend to be quite sensitive when people make personal attacks upon me. I always try to respond in a loving manner, addressing the issues at hand, and it hurts me when others do not respond in kind. It makes me wonder how these people relate to others in everyday life.

It is important that I protect my ability to continue to enjoy this blog, and to promote love, through sticking to the principal that those who will not give their names should not have the right to a forum or a response. At times, I may pick up on a question I have received anonymously and write an answer to it. This is particularly the case when questions are brought with a genuine spirit of interest and kindness. Please continue to submit these, as I do value them.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Election day!

This Saturday is Federal election day in Australia.

I would like to draw your attention to Jacquie Petrusma whom I believe is an excellent Tasmanian candidate for the Senate.

I am grateful that the Family First party provides an option for those of us who find it difficult to vote for anyone who opposes Christian values.

Why not vote for someone who shares our love for Christ?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Who are Christ's people?

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"

They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"

Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

Matthew 16:13 - 20

This wonderful passage from the gospel of Matthew reminds us that God's church is built upon the fact that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus is not simply a good man, a worthy role model. He is God, and this fact is what we are to build our lives upon.

The passage also teaches us that nothing will prevail against the church - those people who trust in the Saviour, Jesus Christ. This is a vital truth to keep in mind in a time when many people are rejecting God and turning against his people.

The church is made up of all those people, in any congregation, who trust in Jesus Christ as their Saviour. They know that without him they would spend eternity in hell, and that solely due to his death and resurrection they can enjoy heaven with him forever. As a result, their lives reflect the holiness that he said would characterise his followers.

On my blog, I have several readers who believe that God has worked uniquely in one particular church. I cannot agree. I am familiar with the arguments, and have spoken to representatives of more than one church who believe this. I distinctly remember the time when a Russian Orthodox priest told me that I should not have the Bible because I am not a part of the church.

I have recently received many comments related to the history of the body of Christ, in this post and others, that claim that one church has the authority to give and to interpret Scripture. Some of these have been sent anonymously with no names attached. Although I did originally publish some of these, I have decided that from now on I will publish no anonymous comments that do not include a name within the comment - positive or negative.

If you want to know my perspective, I am happy to provide that. However, please accept that this blog is one that is based upon the Bible, and all answers will come from that foundation. If you believe that my answers are unacceptable, please feel free to let me know. I appreciate the opportunity to think through my faith. However, if I believe that your comments are a reiteration of prior comments that I have replied to, and simply indicate that you do not accept my attempts to answer, I will not publish the comments or reply to them. Please respect the fact that my time is limited.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Is my husband a creationist?

The question . . .

I thought this comment was worth answering as a post, as it concerns a matter that I am passionate about:

hi sherrin
have been reading your blog for quite some time now and would like to ask you a question.
The problem of the Creationism vs Evolution problem has recently showed up at our local college, causing a lot of strife between faculty and the religious, leading to walkouts during the middle of lectures.

With your husbands scientific training i take it he is a supporter of the evolution standpoint, while your views seem to me to take the bible for its literal value ie. Creationism about 6 thousand years ago.

Have you had this discussion with your husband and what are your views on this sticky issue?

Frequent Reader
Jefferson City
There are some scientists who believe in a literal Genesis account!

My husband Dave is a supporter of the creation viewpoint. Dave's PHD supervisor, Geoff Downes, is also a supporter of a straight forward interpretation of the Genesis account. Dave chose to come to Australia to study partly on account of the fact that he had the opportunity to study under a devoted Christian man, as it is rare to be able to do so. He has been greatly blessed as a result of his desire to seek out godly company in his field. Geoff introduced Dave and I. Dave also lived on the Downes family property for months, and learnt a lot from interacting with them.

You may be interested in reading about why Geoff Downes became a creation scientist. He shares his testimony here. This testimony has been published in the book In Six Days: Why 50 Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation.

He says:

What I found was that the overwhelming majority of the scientific evidence we were taught bore no direct relation to either creation or evolution. The evidence that was presented within an evolutionary framework could equally well be reinterpreted within a creationist framework.

Geoff Downes and his family were also featured in Creation magazine in
this issue. At this stage the full text of the article is not available online.

The deception of evolution

You may also be interested in an article titled It's not science which explains the difference between operational and origins science. Don Batton points out the distinction:

However, we can make a valid distinction between different types of science: the distinction between origins science and operational science. Operational science involves discovering how things operate in today’s Creation—repeatable and observable phenomena in the present. This is the science of Newton. However, origins science deals with the origin of things in the past—unique, unrepeatable, unobservable events. There is a fundamental difference between how the two work. Operational science involves experimentation in the here and now. Origins science deals with how something came into existence in the past and so is not open to experimental verification / observation (unless someone invents a ‘time machine’ to travel back into the past to observe).

One of the greatest deceptions of our time is that evolution has been proven and that it is an essential part of science. As Christians, we can understand that science is part of our Creation Mandate (Genesis 1:28) to take dominion over God's creation and to care for it.

Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28.

When Dave and Geoff study God's creation of trees, they are part of this process of understanding and caring for the earth.

What about Christians who believe in evolution?

Many well meaning Christians do hold to various evolutionist viewpoints. However, I believe there is no good reason for compromise in this area. We know the One who was there at the beginning - and his word can be trusted. Those who compromise upon Genesis do not realise that they are destroying the foundations of our faith. They are often trying to be evangelical - telling people that they can trust in evolution and Christ - yet fail to realise that evolution gives people the very foundation they need to ignore God. If the world could exist without God, and could evolve on its own, why should we believe in God or submit to his rule?

My history

My grandfather was a passionate creation science supporter, and my foundation in this area was one of the reasons I came to know Christ. I wish that all Christians were blessed with such a strong foundation. Due to the blessing a strong creationist position has been to me, marrying someone who did not hold this position was not an option. I would not have courted anyone who did not interpret Genesis literally. I want any children I am blessed with to be given the same foundation that I was given.

The joy of being united

My husband and I are co-labourers in the Creation Mandate of caring for the earth under God, and bearing children whom we will train to do the same. It is essential that we are united. I am able to support Dave wholeheartedly in his work knowing that he is ultimately doing it for God's glory. It is exciting that when we go out and observe nature, Dave is able to share many facts that reinforce a creationist interpretation of Genesis.

Just to finish off, I want to say that if my husband and I did disagree on this matter our disagreement would not be published on the Internet! My job as a wife is to build up my husband and be united with him in pursuing Christ. I fail in this often, but I hope I will never make a premeditated decision to share disagreements on a forum like this! If I do, please email me at and let me know that I'm not living up to what I profess to believe!

Aidan and Jen's wedding

Two weeks ago my brother Aidan was married to the lovely Jen!

My parents now have an "empty nest", with all four of their children married.

It is a great blessing that my mother, a devout Christian, has been able to see all of her children married in Christian ceremonies. What a joy in this generation of "shacking up" together! Mum prayed a very heartfelt prayer during the wedding ceremony, and this was one of the most touching parts of the day. Her faithfulness has left a legacy of faith, and her prayers will continue to be effective as she brings her children before God regularly.

One of Dave's favourite pictures

Dave loves this picture, so we included it in a lot of our thank you notes.

If you don't yet have a thank you note for your generous gift, it is probably because we are working on finding your address!

The Kiss

I've finally got my act together to post a few more wedding pictures! I couldn't miss out "The Kiss"!

It was exciting to wait to kiss until our wedding day . . .

We have heard complaints that the kiss went for too long, but we don't agree.

After the service . . .

One of my favourite pictures with the bridal party. I love the black and white.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Questions anyone?

The heart of the righteous studies how to answer,
But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.
Proverbs 15:28

Readers have asked me a number of interesting questions recently. Most of these have been asked anonymously, often with initials or a name added. With regard to anonymous comments, I do reserve the right to choose not to answer questions or to choose not to publish the comment. However, where I believe important questions are being asked, which relate to the themes of my blog and may be of interest to other readers, I am likely to choose to spend time answering them. I am also more likely to do this if a person has been courteous enough to offer their name, their initials, or some other information about themselves.

Often, questions relate to topics I believe are important but I was not motivated to pursue. For example, questions about specific pro-life issues. I am far more likely to respond to questions that relate to general themes or issues than I am to respond to comments that are directed at attacking my personal life or faith. Thankfully, I have not received many such comments since starting this blog. The exceptions to this have been some unfortunate comments on my posts about the Reformation, which I have chosen not to publish.

Here are a few topics I’ve been asked about, which I intend to address at some stage:
  • Contraception and population
  • Rape and abortion
  • Science and Creation
  • The Protestant reformation – was it necessary? Am I misrepresenting Catholic teaching?
I have already made progress toward a complete answer to the question of the abortion of diabled babies, in my posts Should an unborn baby be treated differently from a newborn? and Disabled babies: is abortion a solution?.

Thanks again to those who have politely asked me these questions - I appreciate your interest, and I will answer them as God gives me opportunity. I have many more important priorities: like my husband, my home, and relationships with fellow believers who live nearby.

Please pray for me as I study how to answer.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Why celebrate reformation day?

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the gift of confidence God's people received as a result of the revival of understanding of God's word that came with the Reformation in the sixteenth century. In response, a couple of readers questioned the need for a reformation and argued that I had misrepresented the Catholic church. I will discuss the present Catholic teaching on salvation in a later post. I have worked with many Catholic people on pro-life projects and I respect many aspects of their faith. However, I do have grave concerns about the doctrine of salvation the Catholic church teaches. I have discussed this with numerous Catholics.

For the present, though, I'd like to point out the state of the church of Martin Luther's day. Susan aptly does this in her post Reformation Day: A Reminder for our Times.

But look at Europe at the time leading up to the Protestant Reformation. The Word of God was held captive by a religious elite who were corrupt to the very core, hiding theft, adultery, greed, swindling, and lies underneath the guise of the name of our Lord. The Gospel was not being preached to the masses; instead they were hearing select portions of scripture read to them in a language not native to them, and the public were being taught that they had to help earn their righteousness. They were so frightened of the future of their souls, and so frantic to do anything to earn their way into heaven, that the poor would give away some of their last pennies to buy off a few years from purgatory or to save their souls from hell. The masses murmured rote prayers in penance, trusted in priests to be their mediators before God, and lived in utter fear and spiritual darkness.
I recognise that selling indulgances is no longer an emphasis of the Catholic church. However, it was in Luther's time. This alone was cause for Reformation.

In closing, I've discovered another way that some are celebrating this important day! Please visit Your Sacred Calling to read about one church's Reformation Day Faire! It sounds like a great time! That is one way to ensure that children remember the events surrounding Reformation Day!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Homemaking mishaps: toilet cleaning

Before I got married, I had never cleaned a toilet. That may be hard to believe, but it is true! My mother is the kind of lady you have to force to let you do anything in the house. I had made progress with dusting, cooking, shopping and other household tasks but never quite got to take over some of the toilet cleaning!

So, when I married I approached this task with a sense that it was somewhat difficult and complex. I soon discovered that it was neither.

However, there was a day when I made a big mistake. My husband likes dishes to be rinsed, and since we only have one sink we use a large plastic tub beside the sink. One day I decided it would be great to recycle this hot, clean water. Since I also had to clean the toilet, I thought "Why not use it for that?". After all, Dave and I kept talking about taking care of the environment by using less. So I dutifully carried the tub into the toilet and began to wipe down the seat. After a while, it suddenly occurred to me that using the same basin for dishes and toilet cleaning might not be a good idea.

Dave is very "germ aware" so he was horrified when I told him what I'd done. While I had spasms of laughter, he seemed genuinely shocked. I assured him that I'd immediately stopped as soon as I realised, subsequently cleaned the tub very carefully in hot water, and I'd never do the same thing again.

A day in the life of an inexperienced, vague homemaker.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Christmas presents

I was very interested in Bron's recent comment on my post about Christmas traditions.

One tradition I'm hoping to start: instead of the whole presents thing at Christmas, I'd like to have a family dinner where each member of the family makes a contribution. When children are little this could just be 'helping' with something. When kids are older or teenagers if they aren't interested in cooking they could buy something nice to share. I like the idea because it means the focus isn't on individuals, it's on the family. Individual presents are better at birthdays anyway because then it really is a celebration of that person's life.
Bron makes a good point that Christmas isn't supposed to be about individauls: it is about the family and it's about Christ. Giving lots of presents to individuals counteracts this message. I've been thinking quite a lot about Christmas presents recently. A few weeks ago I asked my niece what Christmas was about and all she would say was "presents". This is not surprising, since she has received mountains of them on the two Christmases that she may be able to remember.

I began to think that it may be better to purchase a "family gift" at Christmas time - something that is for everyone. The problem with that idea is that an item that is officially for "everyone" always ends up being more for one or more people than for others. If you buy a swing for the little kids, the older ones don't feel like they "got" anything. If you buy a mat for the living room, it is really for Mum and Dad.

Another idea is that the focus of Christmas giving could be to give to someone outside the family. The family could plan and save together to give money to a worth organisation that helps the poor or persecuted Christians, or spreads the gospel.

Have any of you thought about Christmas presents? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Should an unborn baby be treated differently from a newborn?

When the topic of disability and abortion comes up, people often argue for all kinds of “What ifs”. What if a child has no mental capacity, what if a child will suffer horribly, and so on. What I would ask those people to consider is whether those reasons would justify terminating the life of someone who had been born. If not, why is the unborn child sufficiently different to the newborn that one can be killed without censure and the other cannot?

Few people advocate that parents should be free to “terminate” disabled newborns. Even fewer people argue that disabled children or adults should be open to such treatment. Yet it is very common to argue for the freedom to terminate disabled foetuses. Unborn children are commonly discriminated against on the basis of their size, level of development, environment, or degree of dependency. Are any of these factors morally sufficient reasons to treat an unborn child differently?

Let’s consider them one by one . . .

Size: If size is sufficient reason to make killing acceptable, a tiny baby should be just as open to termination. How small do you have to be before you are considered dispensable? Does a toddler have less of a right to continue to live than a six year old?

Level of development: A toddler is more developed than a newborn. Does that mean that he or she is more valuable? A foetus is less developed than a newborn. However, he or she has all of the anatomical features of a human being. The baby mainly just needs to grow, just as a toddler needs to grow if it is to become a six year old.

Environment: Moving house does not make you any more or less human. Moving from one room to another does not make you less human. Similarly, an unborn child is not made more human when it moves down the birth canal and outside its mother’s body.

Degree of dependency: An unborn child is completely dependent upon its mother. Yet newborns are also very dependent. They cannot live without the sustenance that older human beings offer.

These four points make a handy acronym: SLED.

It is inconsistent to argue that a disabled unborn child can be terminated, if you are unwilling to apply the same logic to those who are outside of the womb. Controversial ethicist Peter Singer is more consistent. Singer advocates infanticide for some disabled children. If the reason for the person’s life being ended is the disability, why should age make a difference? If a Down syndrome child is diagnosed before birth, the parents are encouraged to consider termination. If the same child is undiagnosed, the parents do not have that option following birth. The child is the same and the condition is the same. The effect of “termination” would also be the same: no disabled child to burden the parents and the government. Yet growing slightly older and bigger and moving down the birth canal makes all the difference.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Find Life

On the Heartbeat website, I read the following facts about Serbia.

An estimated 200,000 abortions are performed each year in Serbia compared to only 90,000 births. Vesna Radeka (pictured) had a vision to start the very first life-affirming pregnancy resource center in Serbia after attending the Heartbeat International Annual Conference in 2003. In May of 2004, her vision became a reality and the Choose Life Center was formed.

Whenever I read about shocking situations like this, where there are more babies being killed than being born, I am reminded of Proverbs 8:35 – 36:

For whoever finds me finds life,
And obtains favour from the LORD;
But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul;
All those who hate me love death.

We all do this sometimes, as we choose our own way instead of God's way in certain areas. Inevitably, we reap the consequences. However, the consequences are more pronounced when people, and whole nations, turn completely away from their Creator.

When nations turn from the only one who can give wisdom, the one true God who has revealed himself through his son Jesus Christ, they turn from life. Increasingly, death is preferred to life. Suicide, abortion, and euthanasia increase as a result. I grieve for those who are walking completely in their own wisdom instead of in the fear of God. I grieve because they are destroying their own lives, and those of their children. Rejection of God is as much a sin against self as it is against God or others.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Christmas traditions

As a new wife, I often think about the traditions we are forming in these early stages of our marriage. Are they traditions that will reflect Christ to any children God blesses us with? Or are they meaningless or harmful?

As Christmas nears, I've particularly been thinking about Christmas traditions and what they convey about the meaning of the day. Many children associate Christmas only with presents. How can this be avoided?

My birthday was last month, and Mum gave me some money to spend on whatever I liked. A few weeks after my bithday, I finally had a chance to go shopping! After exploring the city, I finally came back to this Advent calendar . . . something I really loved that I definitely didn't need!

Each little drawer holds a magnetic figure, which you stick to the stable scene. I think this would be real help to children in learning to focus upon the meaning of Christmas day. It is also lots of fun for adults :). I sure had fun arranging the pieces! With children, the Bible story that goes with the particular piece could be read out on the day that it is pulled out.

You may like to read more about traditions in Stacy's post on the topic. Here is some of what she wrote.

We may have family traditions that seem meaningless to others, but to our own children they communicate Christ. Because we live in Christ, the simple traditions we create in our own families are powerful. They don’t have to end in the word Christian or Jesus to reflect Christ.

Our primary purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. By glorifying God in our daily living, we can pass on that purpose and joy to our children. As we tell the story of Christ’s birth to our children—maybe over a cup of hot spiced cider or warm pumpkin bread—we are creating a memory. And if we do it every year, we’re creating a tradition.

The success of our family traditions isn’t based on how creative we are or how much money we spend on a certain yearly or monthly event, but on how well they reflect Christ and how real they are to our children.
I recommend that you read the whole post!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Celebrating Reformation Day

I have been thinking about how Dave and I could create traditions to celebrate Reformation Day, so I was pleased to receive a couple of ideas from Carmon's blog.

You may like to read Happy Reformation Day where Carmon described a couple of things they were going to do to celebrate or heritage as God's people.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The gift of confidence

Today is Reformation Day. Many Christians remember and celebrate the fact that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of a church over 500 years ago – launching upheavals in the Roman Catholic Church and facilitating the birth of many new churches. Luther challenged the view that salvation is partly a matter of man’s works, countering this with the truth of the gospel of grace. Christ’s substitutionary death and resurrection for us saves us from our sins – we could never be good enough to save ourselves.

Reformation Day is a reminder that the freedom we have in the gospel is hard-won, by men and women who sacrificed comfort and acceptability to proclaim the message of grace. The work that these people did has given many millions of people the gift of confidence in God’s saving work. No longer do God’s people have to labour under the burden of uncertainty about whether they have “measured up” to a standard that will allow them to enter heaven. They can have confidence that Christ has met that standard for them.

I am blessed to be part of a group of churches that commemorates this day with “Reformation Sunday” every year. Many Presbyterian and Reformed churches meet together to speak and sing about what God has done. Sadly, many churches outside of the Presbyterian and Reformed traditions do not choose to remember the events that occurred at the Reformation. The Reformation paved the way for all churches – Pentecostal and Reformed, Baptist and Presbyterian – to have confidence that salvation is assured through Christ. All Protestant churches are the beneficiaries of the revival of this truth. All can celebrate this gladly on Reformation Day.

It is worth remembering those who enabled us to sing with confidence the following words from “In Christ Alone”:

‘Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

No guilt in life no fear in death
This is the pow’r of Christ in me . . .
No pow’r of hell no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘Til he returns or calls me home
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.

It is even more worthwhile to pause and remember to thank God that he did not allow his people to continue to live in uncertainty. Rather, he sent people to remind us of his certain gift of salvation for all who believe. Pause, and remember the marvellous things that God has done for his people.

I wrote this post in response to Tim Challies' call for Reformation Day posts.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Congratulations Susan!

I love Susan's clever announcement of her honeymoon baby. I am thrilled for Susan . . . and maybe a teeny bit jealous!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Why throw out the birth control? Why love disabled disabled babies?

Over the years I've read Barbara Curtis' blog on and off . . . and been especially blessed by her perspective on down syndrome and loving children who are disabled. You can read one of her posts on this here and gain a new perspective on what down syndrome kids "look like".

She writes . . .

The fear is irrational but real. When women have never known a person with Down syndrome and have absorbed the implicit message of all the prenatal testing - that you don't have to have a baby who isn't "perfect" - then they panic when the diagnosis comes back positive. They're not thinking clearly, they're pressured to make a quick decision, and often they're advised by professionals to "terminate" and give it another chance.

When I talk to high school classes about this, I explain that this is the kind of decision you want to make in advance - even before you get married. And it's the kind of thing you want to talk about with a future spouse. Life comes at you fast - it's really wise to know where you stand on important issues like this before you begin to even think about marriage. Because this is the kind of issue which can tear a marriage apart.

Barbara opposes this culture of death with her pen and with her life . . . she has given birth to one child with down syndrome and adopted three more.

I was also interested to read Barbara's article on Christianity Today about Why some evangelicals are throwing out their birth control. This part particularly struck me, because it expresses my thoughts and my story so well.

Among younger Christian moms, many report going on The Pill before their wedding day as a matter of course – expected by their parents, their in-laws, and everyone else. Some report paradigm shifts set off by side effects: depression, weight gain, lack of sex drive.

Others discovered to their horror – since they considered themselves pro-life – that the pill can act as an abortifacient. They gave it up immediately.

While some went on to barrier methods, for others the shakeup of their preconceived ideas led them to rethink and scrap birth control altogether.

Many who structured their marriages to come off The Pill when they felt ready have been disappointed to find that fertility isn’t something we can turn off and on like a light switch. They struggle with infertility and miscarriages – adding up to much more time than they bargained for waiting for a baby.

I have never used hormonal bith control, but finding out about the effects of the Pill (thanks to Randy Alcorn and Eternal Perspective Ministries) did change my whole view of birth control in general . . . so much so that marrying someone who agreed was a priority. I don't feel at all "superior" to others who make different choices. I am just immensely grateful to God that he showed me parts of his truth in this area, so that I could avoid the heartbreak of making choices I could have regretted for the rest of my life.

Barbara is a wise woman. I am grateful to her, to other writers on the Internet, and especially to Eternal Perspective Ministries for changing my perspective on God's plan for family life.

Children memorising the Bible

It was a great encouragementy to read Crystals thoughts on memorising the Bible with children. What a wonderful legacy she will leave to her daughters! There is no greater gift than the word of God himself.

One of my goals with this blog is simply to point any readers I have to women wiser than myself. Women who have persevered through different trials and experiences, and who have godly wisdom to share as a result. They have learnt more fully how to love God and others.

Titus 2 tells young women to love their children - and Crystal is one example of someone who is doing just that!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Homemaking mishaps: burnt offerings

Like most new wives, I want to cook my husband nearly everything he wants to eat. Steak and kidney pies are the exception.

My husband likes two different types of pies that I make, spinach & cheese and potato & bean. So on a couple of occasions I set out to make them. The trouble is that they ended up badly burnt on the bottom. The puff pastry on the bottom had to be scrapped off. I discovered that our oven is too hot and nothing can be put on the shelf nearest the element. These burnt offerings were honest mistakes.

My second example of a burnt offering is much stupider. I placed a tray of baked potatos on a hotplate, not realising that I'd left it on. Naturally, the bottoms of the potatoes turned black.

My third and forth examples of burnt offerings involve overflowing cakes. If you are unfortunate enough to decide to try and fit as much cake mixture as possible into a tin, you may find that as it cooks it spills to the bottom of the oven and makes a delightful, thick crust of charred cake mixture. The most memorable example of this was a lemon curd cake that kept overflowing so that I had to place a tray underneath it. I found myself eating lumps of lemon curd cake as it cooked on the tray. Unfortunately, a lot of the cake ended up on the floor of the oven, meaning the oven required a thorough cleaning before it could be used again.

Do any of you have burnt offering experiences to share?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Disabled babies - is abortion a solution?

The Question:

I am interested to know your view on termination because the foetus has been found to have severe health problems and if carried to term would then be severely disabled (either mentally or physically)?

Thanks for asking me about this! I have researched this topic a lot, and even ran a seminar on it in 2005. I am happy to be able to share what I have learnt. I am also interested in reading about others’ experiences.

What does God say about disability?

As a Christian who desires to see everything in the light of God’s revelation to us in the Bible, I want to place God’s word at the forefront of this discussion. The Bible is not silent on the issue of disability.

“Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” Exodus 4:11

“But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?” Romans 9:20 – 21

These are hard verses. God has answered human questions about the reality of disability in our world, but he has not chosen to answer in a way that satisfies every question. In fact, he has almost dismissed the “right” to ask questions. He is the creator.

When people advocate the abortion of babies with disabilities, they are doing so because they do not understand that God created each of these lives with a purpose. Each life, if allowed to continue, has the capacity to bring glory to God in some way.

The limitations of pre-natal testing

There are also practical matters that are worth considering in any discussion of the abortion of disabled babies. Pre-natal tests, while they can indicate that a chromosomal or anatomical abnormality is present, often cannot determine the extent to which this disability will impinge upon the life of the child. This is noted in the pro-abortion book Prenatal Testing: Making Decisions in Pregnancy. For example, Down syndrome can be mild or severe. This level of disability cannot be diagnosed prenatally. Some other chromosomal conditions do not necessarily cause any impairment. One of the authors of the book had such a chromosomal abnormality. This lack of certainty means that parents are faced with making life and death decisions on the basis of incomplete information and “worst case scenarios”.

I am planning a follow up post, which will tackle the topis of:

Should an unborn child be treated differently to a newborn or an adult?

What is loving?

Is the abortion of disabled babies a big issue?

If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask!

Family Scripture Memorisation

Dave and I want our marriage to be built upon God’s word, which is why we read the Bible together almost every evening. We would also like to memorise scripture together. We’ve started on a plan to memorise the first nine verses of Psalm 145. We are using the method described in a Family Reformation article on Family Scripture Memorisation. This approach simply requires learners to read the chosen Scripture aloud regularly. I have not done this before, but have taken a “bit by bit” memorisation approach. I am looking forward to seeing how we go with this method!

Psalm 145: 1 – 9

I will extol You, my God, O King;
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
And His greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare your mighty acts.
I will meditate on the glorious splendour of Your majesty,
And on Your wondrous works.
Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts,
And I will declare Your greatness.
They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness,
And shall sing of Your righteousness.

The LORD is gracious and full of compassion,
Slow to anger and great in mercy.
The LORD is good to all,
And His tender mercies are over all His works.

This Psalm expresses our vision of loving God, and teaching any children he gives us to do so as well. This passage is also one that reminds us that the call to proclaim God's praises should be a life priority - in the presence of both Christians and non Christians. It also reminds us of God's wonderful character.

On my last blog I wrote several posts about Bible memorisation, including the post Bible Memory, a Joy.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Heartbeat International's Vision

I am working with a group of Christians who desire to create a Pregnancy Centre that is founded upon the gospel. We are considering affiliating with Heartbeat International. Their website is very encouraging, and on this page I just read about their inspiring vision:

Heartbeat's Life-Saving Vision is to help create a world where every new life is welcomed and children are nurtured within strong families, according to God’s Plan, so that abortion is unthinkable.
I wholeheartedly endorse this goal. It is a vision that Dave and I aim to foster in our marriage. Where children are welcome, abortion becomes unthinkable. A culture that loves children is a culture that is living out the Great Commandment. When Christians love and welcome children, they are loving the God who created each tiny child. They are living out before the world the love for the defenceless and powerless that is commanded in the Old and New Testaments.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Great Commandment gives purpose to all situations

Yesterday I began my third and last Field Experience for my Diploma of Education. This is nearly full time for five weeks, and requires a lot of out of school time to be spent in preparation. I have enjoyed getting to know the students, and being called Mrs. Drew, but have also struggled with increases in back pain and with the fact that I am not able to do what I’d like to do in the house. I can do little apart from fulfil my course requirements. This means that the hours spent preparing meals, being hospitable, cleaning, organising, and beautifying our home will be greatly reduced or eliminated during this time.

At times, especially in the weeks leading up to Field Experience, I’ve struggled with purpose. Why am I doing this? Is it really worthwhile? Will I ever work as a teacher? These and other questions have caused some distress and uncertainty. I began this Diploma with the intent that it would enable me to work part time as a teacher, or equip me to homeshcool excellently, and these are still my goals. However, at times these do not seem good enough reasons to expend so much effort and sacrifice goals that may be more important.

As usual, Jesus speaks to this and all situations with great clarity. I am in this situation now, whether it is wise or not, and Christ gives purpose to every situation. He does this through telling us how to conduct ourselves in any circumstance. We have a focus: loving God and others. After Jesus recounted the great commandment to a scribe, the scribe answered:

“Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is none other than He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbour as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” Mark 12:32 - 34.

Jesus does not require us to know what tomorrow holds, or to know how everything fits into our “life purpose”. He requires us to love Him and love others. As I start this Field Experience, I am encouraged that I do have a purpose in this time. Even if I never work as a schoolteacher, this time will be worthwhile if I love the students and teachers at the school and love God through praising and trusting him. I hope that you too, in whatever situation you find yourself, can find hope and purpose in the Great Commandment.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Passionate Housewives Desperate for God

I am very excited about a new book coming out soon, Passionate Housewives Desperate for God. This book is by Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald. I have read much of Jennie's writing, and have corresponded with her personally, and I have the greatest respect for her. I have also been reading Stacy's blog recently and I have been impressed with her graciousness toward those who disagree.

I agree with Dave that the title is "odd", but I also understand why they chose it. Do you normally associate the word "Passionate" with the word "Housewife"? If you are anything like me, you are more likely to have been taught to associate the word housewife with bored, possibly in need of medication for depression, lazy, or harried. Likewise with the word "Desperate". In our culture, we are conditioned to think that if a housewife is desperate for anything it is to escape the boredom of her life at home. It is great that Stacy and Jennie are working to create new ideas about who a housewife is!

You can visit the book's site here.

I also recommend reading a recent post that quotes from Courtney Tarter's thoughts on Why Feminism Hurts Women. Feminism has impacted upon all women who are born in the midst of it. Even though I intellectually reject it, I still find myself feeling inadequate at times because I don't have a great career and I don't earn much money.

Those of us who reject feminism recognise that It's not about choice. Those of us who make choices that are in opposition to feminism still find ourselves greatly impacted by its effects on society.

Choosing life

Yesterday I read an incredible blog post, In Memory of a Woman Who Chose Life. This moving post is the story of one woman who chose life. Doug Phillips writes:

I can only imagine the pressure she felt to try to erase the embarrassment, to end the physical discomfort, and to avert the potential shame and rejection she would experience as she faced her own legitimate children and extended family with the news that their mother had conceived a child with a married man.
Her choice not to abort caused thousands to be blessed. Please read this post and be inspired to choose life in every way you can. I rate this as the best, most inspirational blog post I have read this year.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Homemaking mishaps: plastic lids

My first homemaking mishaps post elicited a couple of comments that made me laugh! Susan reminded me of the tragedies that can occur with plastic lids on casserole dishes. By the way, Susan just returned from her honeymoon and you can see wedding pictures on her blog!

Susan used her rubber lid while cooking in the oven. We blonds must think alike, because I have done the same thing! My lid did not meet its death, but it did end up with a somewhat warped lid. The lid also has a finger print in one corner which is quite obvious. I pressed down on the lid after its rescue from the oven, to see whether or not it had melted.

These little episodes are part of the larger picture that homemaking is not all fun and games: it is hard work and it is a big responsibility. I was reminded of this today as I did the shopping for the next week and a half with a very sore back, feeling tired. I must have looked tired too, because a lady at a bakery consoled me that I'd be able to rest tonight! The daily responsibility of caring for a house and those who live there is something that must be endured at times, not just enjoyed. Remaining positive and focused requires a big vision of serving Christ and furthering his kingdom through the home, rather than solely a focus on the "here and now".

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Homemaking Mishaps: Ironing boards

Since I am a new wife, there is much to laugh about in regard to homemaking mishaps. I am commited to loving home, and to being a homemaker as Titus 2 commands, but things don't always go perfectly.

John Dekker generously gave us an ironing board for our wedding present, even though he could not attend our wedding. We were thrilled to receive this surprise gift, as we really needed an ironing board! Learning how to use it, though, has been a troubled journey at times. You see, back home Mum's ironing board was always set up. She has a wonderful, large laundry. Thus there was no need to work out latches, height adjustments, sensible methods of collapsing the board, and other essential details. I, however, want to keep my ironing board in a cupboard. So I tackled the pedals and the notches. Things went OK for a while, but then I tried to lower it slightly while it was up. Lets just say that the iron ended up on the floor and the board on my foot. I have since discerned that greater care is needed. Five weeks on, I think I have finally conquered the ironing board.

Future installments of homemaking mishaps will include picture hanging, burnt offerings, and toilet cleaning. Some of it is embarassing, but it might be an encouragement to all the other wives who are still studying homemaking 101. Yes, other people are more inept than you are!

Monday, October 8, 2007

The photos we paid for

A little over a week ago Dave and I were happy to pick up our "official" photos from our photographer. Here are a couple of the pictures he did for us . . . two out of about 450! He also made us a slideshow.

I enjoy the way he made some of the pictures black and white.

Living plainly and serving God: Part 2

I want a life filled with a love of God, of people, and of God’s creation. A life where unimportant things are deemed to be just that, and do not interfere with the priorities of faith, family and community. A life lived plainly, serving God.

The first post on Amish life explored some ways in which the Amish lifestyle implemented Christian goals of taking dominion over the earth and loving one another. The goal was to consider prioritising what is truly important, even if it means doing without some things that seem good.

While Amish people implement elements of God’s truth excellently, they also gravely misunderstand what God intends for humanity. Their central misunderstanding concerns the gospel. While aspects of their lifestyle may be worthwhile models of the Creation Mandate and Great Commandment in action, they do not understand the Great Commission.

The Amish frown upon anyone in the community who claims to have been “saved”. They believe this claim to be a form of pride. Yet the Bible teaches that it is the opposite. Those who understand their sinful nature, and know that Christ’s death and resurrection paid for their sin, become new people in Christ who know that God is the one who has rescued them.

"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) and raised us up together" Ephesians 2: 4 – 6a.

When God saves a person he brings them into the community of God’s people. Yet salvation is still an individual matter. Each person must repent of sin, and be freed from its effects through becoming a new person in Christ. This results in praise to God, not in pride about “achieving” salvation.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2: 8 – 9.

The Amish also misunderstand the Great Commission through withdrawing from “the world” to an extreme extent. Their practices indicate that they may misunderstand the nature of the human heart. When Jesus taught the Pharisees, he told them that what is “without” does not defile a person. Rather, wickedness comes from the heart.

“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness . . . pride” (Mark 7:21 – 22).

These human problems cannot be solved through altering the surroundings: wearing certain clothes, avoiding certain technologies, associating only with certain people. Altering surroundings may help, but it cannot solve the deepest human problems.

The Amish lifestyle remains, however, a challenge to those of us who live in the midst of a Christian culture that frequently mirrors the world. Those of us who understand the gospel in its fullness are called to be distinct from those who do not know God.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” Ephesians 2:10.

Sometimes cultures that do not understand the gospel show up those of us who do, through better living out aspects of who God created us to be. The Amish culture is one of those. Why don’t Christians have divorce rates lower than the Amish? Why don’t they work harder to maintain community? The gospel should transform Christians and make them more distinct than Amish communities.

Personally, my window on the Amish fills me with a desire to seek out a life that is filled with true bounty: the bounty of a livelong love, a flourishing garden, a fruitful womb, and a quiet appreciation for God’s simple gifts.

I want any children God gives us to grow up with an attitude of honour toward parents, a love for and commitment to the church, a rejection of desires that would cause us to live beyond our means, and a willingness to sacrifice individual interests for the sake of community.

I want a life filled with a love of God, of people, and of God’s creation. A life where unimportant things are deemed to be just that, and do not interfere with the priorities of faith, family and community. A life lived plainly, serving God.