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 sherrindrewATgmail.com 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.