Thursday, January 31, 2008

God who alone is wise

Karen sent me this Scripture which is applicable to our topic for this week . . .

"Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen." 1 Timothy 1:17

Wise women (and men!) gain their wisdom from the "God who alone is wise".

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Marriage to a sinner

When I was preparing to be married, I asked a few women for advice. One of them was Karen from the Sower's Corner. Karen kindly sacrificed her time to share her thoughts extensively. She included some great thoughts about marriage to a sinner, which I've copied here. I still haven't read "When Sinners Say "I Do"", but it is on my list of goals for this year!

First, and I think the most important, is knowing that you are both sinners. This dashes unrealistic expectations that we have for one another. It also brings us closer together, realizing that it is all by grace. God's grace is the glue, used by His Holy Spirit Who is developing our character. Conforming us into Christ's image.

With all of that said, there is an excellent book that just came out called "When Sinners Say "I Do" Discovering the power of the Gospel for Marriage by Dave Harvey. I just bought this book and I'm reading through it.

In the beginning of your relationship you tend to read a lot of books on marriage and relationships and then that falls advice is to invest in your relationship by reading and buying good books on marriage. In every marriage, there are times where because of life's demands you become "dull". You sharpen and stir up your feelings and love by periodically (maybe once a year or every six months) reading or re-reading a good marriage book. I would start with When Sinners Say "I Do".

As you are reading books on your role as a wife, remember that you are a complement to your husband. So all of your strengths are there to complement his weaknesses and vice versa . . .

Another area about roles that I had struggled with and now understand better is when it is appropriate to speak to my husband about something that needs correcting with him. For a long time, I thought that I shouldn't correct him, I should only pray for him and let the Lord do the correcting. This was not a loving thing for my husband. Remember we are both sinners and we both have blind areas. Sometimes these blind areas keep us from really walking in the Lord the way we desire. The Lord often times will show us what is needed and we must gracefully bring correction.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The wisdom only God can give

This guest post is from my Mum, Lorraine Ward. Mum is a wonderful example of wise womanhood. I have watched her walk out the truths she describes here. I hope and pray that I will become more like my Mum.

I have been a Christian for 38 years, but it was many years before I realized that I had no wisdom of my own and that there is no such thing as human wisdom. As a young believer I thought I had answers to a lot of life issues but now I know with certainty that true wisdom is all God’s and that I only receive His wisdom when He reveals Himself to me and when I rest totally in His grace, coming under His Lordship in all things. Then I begin to see His wisdom at work in my life.

Many times I have had to repent of walking in my own thinking, while saying I was following Him. Many times I have opened my mouth to speak foolish words which I thought were wise. Only through the bad consequences did I learn that wisdom comes through the death of self and trusting in His Way in relationships and plans.

Many times my flesh cries out to gossip or speak unkind words, but as I cry out to the Lord He whispers gently to me, “Be still and know that I am God.”….”A gentle answer turns away wrath.” “Wisdom is better than weapons of war.” Many times I have wanted to rush forward without waiting on the Lord , but with my sin confessed, I have turned to Him and asked for wisdom and He has given it to me in the most surprising and unexpected ways. I just know that it had to be God who gave me that wisdom. My sinful heart would never have thought of it!

I once battled with bad feelings toward someone and wrestled with a crisis relationship for a time. I cried out to the Lord and repented of my independent spirit and I woke one morning to the wisdom of God when the words came clearly to my mind, “Whoever slaps you on the right cheek turn the other to him also.” Yes, Lord, only You could have such wisdom. This really changed my relationship to that person and it is bearing His good fruit.

With His wisdom comes a quiet comforting peace that God is reigning and that in my day to day struggles He has the victory over evil as I choose to let His wisdom work in my life.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Words of wisdom and kindness

As the first post for our week of wise womanhood, I am very blessed to be able to share with you this wonderful guest post from Deb of Mountain Musings. Deb shares about the someone who has blessed her through wise and kind words. I have benefitted from Deb's words of wisdom and kindness as well, through her blog and through the advice she gave me (upon request) as I began married life.

She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness. ~ Proverbs 31:26

I feel very honored that Sherrin asked me to consider writing a guest post for this week's focus on "Becoming a Woman of Wisdom." After praying about what to write, the Lord laid the above verse on my heart and brought to mind someone who exhibits this verse in her life. The friend I'm thinking of is very gifted in speaking words of encouragement and kindness and is a true example of the woman the Lord teaches us to be like in Proverbs 31.

I first met Sherri via her daughter's blog a couple of years ago. Even though I didn't know her very well at the time, she blessed me through her comments and emails. This past summer our families were allowed to meet in person when they traveled through our state. I was drawn to Sherri's peaceful manner and by the light of the Lord on her face as we conversed.

After being a recipient of her weekly emails of scriptural encouragement she writes and sends to her family and friends, I can tell she is a woman of great faith and wisdom. I've gained insight from her writings on Wisdom for Decision Making, Wisdom from Ecclesiastes, Virtue From Christ, and A More Excellent Way--Charity. Serving the Lord and relying on His wisdom are emphasized, and I look forward each week to what the Lord has laid on her heart.

Sherri's life is surely a sweet savor of Christ, and I am inspired to be more a student of the Word from her example.

For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. ~ Proverbs 2:6

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Bloggers With Integrity

Thank you, Karen, for nominating me for the "Bloggers with Integrity" award and writing such kind and encouraging words about me! It is always a blessing when people use their blogs to build others up and to be thankful.

Now I have the pleasure of nominating five more people for this award, to spread this thankfulness and kindness around the Internet.

The defnition of integrity is . . . Wholeness; soundness; uprightness, honesty.

To me it speaks of a person who is willing to speak out what they believe, and bases their beliefs upon a good foundation. A person who lives in a transparent and honest way.

John Dekker's Journal is now closed. However, for many years John wrote about his thoughts and experiences of the Christian life. Thanks for your musings, John! You wrote with honesty and soundness.

Lydia Hayden writes in an uplifting way about her Christian life. I appreciate the joy and kindness that shines through her blog. Thanks for being a light, Lydia!

Crystal at Biblical Womanhood blesses thousands through her life of integrity. Crystal boldly shares what she believes, and humbly shares her failures and successes. Thank you, Crystal, for sharing your life with us!

Mike Jolly is a man of integrity whom I know personally! He is totally committed to Christ and to the gospel. Mike's blog is mainly a journal of his ministry activities, and exhibits his passion to help others to live for Christ.

Well, I'm running out of time . . .

Last but not least is Susan. Thanks, Susan, for posting your thoughts on so many topics over the years! Your honesty and humility have been a blessing!

I hope that some of those I've linked to will pass on the blessing of encouragement to someone else, and we'll all be able to hear about more bloggers of integrity.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Becoming a Woman of Wisdom - a week of celebration!

Next week I am planning a week of celebration of God's wisdom for being a woman. Wise womanhood is already a major theme of my blog, but next week there will be a special focus upon the topic. I am passionate about biblical womanhood, and I hope that you are too! I even saved a blog address on the topic -, but have decided to stick with this address and overall theme. My friend Margaret Sonnemann created this lovely banner for me, but so far I haven't been able to work out how to get it into the header of Perhaps my study of HTML and CSS will help.

Now, about next week!

I have asked several ladies if they will write guest posts for me. Two have said a definite "yes", and one of them is my mother. She is one of the wisest women I know, and I'm sure you'll be blessed by whatever she has to share.

Other readers, whom I haven't asked in person, are more than welcome to write a guest post as well. Just email me your submission. I'd particularly like to hear from men, as I'm sure they also have insights into biblical womanhood. Here are some ideas . . .

* A woman who has blessed your life. This person doesn't have to be a Christian, but must display some characteristics of godly wisdom (for example, faithfulness to her husband) which are worthy of commendation.

* A blog or book that has helped you to grow in godly wisdom.

* A wise woman in the Bible whose example has helped you.

* Characteristics of biblical wisdom.

* An incident in your life which helped you to become a wiser person.

Please join with me in this week of celebration! I can hardly wait!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The gift of godly children

One reader asked the following question in response to topics raised in my post Is my husband a creationist?.

This reader asked:

“How far do you think it reasonable to 'train' your children to believe in exactly the same things that you do?”

He/she further explained that:

“there are some sections of society who hold that it is much better, and fairer to a child, to allow them to form their own opinions about life, the world and religion. This does not mean that you may not guide them towards a sense of morality, of what is 'right' and what is 'wrong'.”

On our wedding day Dave and I promised, amongst other things, to “raise any children God gives us to love and serve our Saviour”. One of the reasons God created marriage is His desire that godly children will come from the union. Malachi 2:15 says of marriage:

“And why one?
He seeks godly offspring.”

This is certainly not the only reason for marriage, but it is a major one. The mandate for couples to bear children and to teach them to exercise godly dominion has existed since Adam and Eve were given this charge (Genesis 1:28). Raising many godly children is one way that we can influence our nations, as the Great Commission commands.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations . . ." Matthew 28:19.

Some people believe, like the Greek teacher Protagoras, that “Man is the measure of all things”. The idea is that man is the ultimate, and should have the ultimate decisions. Each person decides which gods to follow, and which values to endorse.

While this is popular, it is not biblical. Proverbs 16:25 says:

“There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death”.

This is why in the Great Commission Christians are taught to make disciples of all the nations. There are not many right ways, there is one.

“Jesus said to Him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”. John 14:6.

God’s standard for acceptance into heaven is perfect obedience. Every one of us falls short of this. Therefore it was necessary for Jesus Christ to come to earth, fully God and fully man. Jesus perfectly obeyed his Father. When he died on the cross, he died the death that we deserve. He took our sins upon himself, and paid the penalty. Trusting in his work on the cross is the only way our sins can be forgiven. When we try to be good on our own, our sinful natures frustrate and trap us. Or, even worse, we create our own version of goodness that is far from God's perfect standard.

I hope that my children will be different from me in many ways. Perhaps they will learn skills that I never had an aptitude for. Perhaps they will travel to countries I will never see. Yet I hope they will be like me in their passion for the Christian faith. In fact, I hope they will surpass me. They may conquer sins I always struggled with, or apply truths I never understood. Dave and I don’t just pray for the gift of children. We pray for godly children.

Monday, January 21, 2008

First, pray

When it comes to evangelism, I feel inadequate. Most Christians I speak to are the same. Well, there is one thing that we can all do fairly easily. We can pray. This week, please join with me in praying each day for a different person you know who does not know Christ. At the end of the week, we'll each have prayed for six people and in the years ahead we may see our prayers answered.

Evangelism Action

Since this week on "A Deeper Love" is focused upon the
Great Commission, I'd like to refer you to a blog which is devoted to the topic of evangelism. Evangelism Action covers such topics as using questioning in evangelism and sharing the good news at Christmas time. The blog has several contributers and is written from a reformed perspective.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Real Love for Real Life

We cannot separate real demonstrations of care from the gospel itself. When we care for people in imaginative, life-giving ways, we embody the love of Jesus. What could be a grander calling?
Andi Ashworth

Andi Ashworth’s book Real Love for Real Life: The Art and Work of Caring is a treasure for all those who spend many hours of their lives in unpaid caring work. This includes singles who work in 9 – 5 jobs all day and then give their evenings to church leadership, homemakers who spend their days caring for their families and communities, those who give full time care to elderly relatives, and many other types of people.

Ashworth encourages readers to view caregiving as “real work”. It is work that requires creativity, energy, and tenacity, and is an essential expression of the love of Christ to a hurting world. Ashworth notes that it is hard to value unpaid caregiving in a culture which prioritises efficiency, speed, control, and quantity over quality (p. 38).

“In this paradigm, caregiving seems very much out of place. Caring does not “maximise” our time. Its richest rewards are not tangible. The results are not quantitative. Caregiving needs are unpredictable, and sometimes meeting them is a slow process.”

Ashworth opens up for readers the many facets of a caregiving lifestyle. Topics include sacrificial and joyful hospitality, the necessity of rest and communion with God, and the importance of celebration. Real Love for Real Life also includes many stories of creative caregiving. As Andi says . . .

“We learn as we go that the creation of a home and the building of a family won’t happen magically. It will take our best thought and action” (p. 134).

My only concern about Real Love for Real Life is that Andi Ashworth presents the view that the Bible says nothing about whether husbands or wives should take on the greater part of homemaking responsibilities. This perspective will appeal to many. However, anyone who has recently read Paul’s epistles, particularly Titus and 1 Timothy, will know that this is not the case.

Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry . . . manage the house . . .
1 Timothy 5:14

. . . that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers . . .
Titus 2:4 – 5

Women are particularly called to a life of unpaid caregiving. Men do perform many caring roles. However, God has given special directions to women regarding caring for home and children. All people are called to give care, yet some have specific instructions regarding their role. I’ll close with a final encouraging thought from the book. When you give care “you reflect the beauty of a God whose love knows no limit” (p. 18).

For the benefit of international readers

Knowing how much people overseas enjoy seeing our native animals, I decided to post some pictures!

Miss Tamrin Tasmanian Devil

Master Walter the Wombat

Wendy the Wallaby and her baby Bruce

Mrs. Kristianne Kookaburra

My brother and nephew with Mr. Klaus Koala

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

An unexpected kindred spirit

“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.”

Mark 12:32 - 33.

“Love will cover a multitude of sins”
1 Peter 4:8

In October I wrote about beginning my teaching Field Experience. At that time I realised that aside from the material benefits I may eventually gain, the situation had a purpose. That purpose was to spend the time loving God and others.

I ended up having an excellent time in many ways. Why? The school was a loving community. Even though I was different to most of the staff theologically, their enthusiasm for God, prayerfulness, and love for the students and other staff was a great blessing. They even gave me a special farewell afternoon tea!

Even more importantly, I had a wonderful supervising teacher. She was encouraging and helpful. I was also a blessing to her. She wished that she’d started out in life with the decision to walk in God’s ways, and enjoyed hearing about my life choices. By the end of the Field Experience, we felt a real oneness in spirit.

My supervising teacher was an unexpected kindred spirit. She is a working Mum of a three-year-old, a divorcee in her second marriage, and a Pentecostal. I am a newlywed Presbyterian who thinks day care is an abdication of the responsibility to train one’s children. Yet in Christ, we can love and learn from one another.

I share this story in the hope that I can encourage you, too, to focus on loving God and others in every situation. If love can cover over a multitude of sins, surely it can cover differences as well? Who knows, you may even find an unexpected kindred spirit along the way!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Perseverant love

Carolyn's blog Radical Womanhood, formerly Solo Femininity, is worth visiting. Carolyn expreses a lot of wisdom through her study of God's word and her commitment to Him. Radical Womanhood recently featured a post about perseverant love, titled the pink bear parable. Carolyn says . . .

I want to love and be loved until all that remains is a tattered remnant. Then may the Lord gently lay me to rest, closing my mortal eyes until the day I exchange an imperishable body for the one that wore out.
This weekend I've struggled with perseverant love. It is easy to grow tired of giving, isn't it? Yet God calls us to keep on, and keep on, and keep on giving. To give until it hurts, then give some more. Our aim should not be to preserve our own lives, but to wear them out for the sake of others.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My most important new year goal

I have written pages in my diary about things I'd like to do this year. I would like to learn to . .

- clean each room once a week
- praise God in song through learning hymns
- clean windows
- make cusions
- create web pages (learn html)
- recognise the capital cities and key political leaders of each country in the world
- bottle food
- and much more!

I'd like to read about . . .

- biblical communication
- South African history
- environmental issues, especially individual and household consuption rates
- and much more!

I don't expect to achieve every one of my goals, but I am aware that having them written down and clear makes it much more likely that they will happen. Amongst all these goals, it is necessary to prioritise. I've decided that my most important goal is to learn to praise God in song as I go about my daily tasks. The Bible is full of examples of people who prioritised praise, and of exhortations to praise God. Yet I do not even know many songs of praise, let alone make a habit of singing them. Western Christians can learn much from African Christians in this regard. Many Christians in Africa commonly sing joyously as they go about their work. I want to ensure that I create an atmosphere of praise in our home. Learning to sing myself is also an important step toward teaching any children God gives us to praise Him.

To help me towards this goal, I've taken a few steps.

1. I wrote out a list 29 of hymns I'd like to learn. This is not a magic number, it just happened to be what filled 1 1/2 pages of my diary. At that point, I decided that this was a large enough goal for now!

2. I purchased a display book, and have begun to get the words of songs from cyberhymnal to print out and put into it.

3. I sing as I prepare meals, wash up, etc., and quickly learn the words.

Some of the hymns I've chosen are . . .

  • Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
  • Blessed Assurance
  • I heard the Voice of Jesus
  • A Mighty Fortress
  • I Need Thee Every Hour
  • Tell Out, My Soul
  • Great is Thy Faithfulness
I hope to make this the year when I learn to praise God more than I've ever done before. I'd love it if you'd join with me! Perhaps hymns are not your style, and you prefer modern tunes.
Whatever your preferences are, make it a priority to praise God. This is one way we can fulfill the commandment to love God with all our hearts and minds. As we focus upon His many wonderful characteristics, it will be impossible to keep from loving Him more!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Peirce and Christina, man and wife

On the last weekend before the New Year, it was a joy to participate in Peirce and Christina's wedding. The festivities began in earnest for me on Thursday the 27th, when I helped to organise the Kitchen Tea. The event was lovely, and very feminine with hats and gloves to adorn us. It was also a lot of work, and I even forgot things because I was so busy creating various food items. I didn't properly eat breakfast or lunch because preparations took so much time. Not to worry! Happy memories . . .

The next day we had a rehersal at St. David's Cathederal, as Christine the rehersal manager has so ably described! That afternoon it was off to Port Arthur to stay the night before the "official" rehersal and rehersal dinner the next day. Port Arthur is one of Tasmania's most famous historic sights. We stayed nearby in a lovely cabin. Like Christine, we enjoyed meeting some very interesting people and discussing a variety of topics with them.

The rehersal and rehersal dinner on the 29th were further great opportunities to meet people and enjoy the occasion. Since Peirce is American, there were many guests from overseas. It was great to be able to get to know people. Rehersal dinners are not an Australian tradition, but I enjoyed this one so much that I can see why they have become a tradition in the USA! There were many touching speeches, which gave honour to God.

Here are the happy couple at the rehersal dinner . . .

Finally it was the wedding day! As a bridesmaid my day began before 7 as I prepared for my 7.30am hair appointment. From then on, apart from an hour or two's respite mid-morning, there was a frenetic schedule until about 1am on the 31st when we arrived home from our cruise back from the reception location.

Here is Dave giving Mr and Mrs Baehr a baby Bear. Strange? Well, there was a prayer for the blessing of children in the wedding service.

Dave and I in a rare moment together at the reception . . .

All the bridesmaids had different shades of blue for their dresses. I don't have any pictures of us together as yet, but hopefully I'll post one later.

Here is my bouquet, which I loved. It was a special privilege to be involved in this wedding. This wedding was one of the most God-honouring and parent-honouring that I have ever attended. It was wonderful to be involved in all the preparations and associated festivities, as well as the actual day.

The only down-side to being a bridesmaid is that it made me somewhat obsessed with trivialities! While Christina Elizabeth was saying to Theodore Peirce

"for richer or for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to obey,
until we are parted by death"

I was thinking about the fact that I hadn't taken good enough care of her skirt! Why, there was a small crease in the train that should have been spread out, and wasn't that a speck of dirt . . . ? Thoughts like this consumed much of my attention during the service.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Contraception, population, and humanist imperialism

Some time ago I received a question about my views on contraception and population. This is a very extensive topic, with many angles that could be addressed. In this post I am choosing to focus on the differences between a humanist and a biblical worldview. Before beginning, I’d like to note that much of the earth’s surface is unpopulated and there is more than enough food for every person. God has given us abundance. Human sin and mismanagement, however, mean that there are still people suffering from lack of food.

The promotion of contraception for the purposes of population control is usually associated with the promotion of many humanist ideas. These include the following:
  • Smaller families are happier, healthier and more practical.
  • Have smaller families so each member will be able to have a higher standard of living.
  • There is a duty to control fertility to ensure that children are provided for well, and the environment will not be harmed.
While it is commonly believed that modern times are unique in regard to the use of birth control, many ancient cultures also practised it. Ancient Egyptian and Native American cultures come to mind.

I believe that the Bible presents a different vision on each of the points above. . .
  • Many children are a blessing and a source of happiness (Ps 127 & 128, Duet. 28, and other passages)
  • Each family should be content with what they have, as long as it is sufficient to provide food, clothing and shelter (1 Timothy 6:7 – 8).
  • God is in control of fertility, as he opens and closes the womb (Genesis 20:18, 30:22, 1 Samuel 1:5). God also promises daily bread for all his people. When the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt they multiplied rapidly, although they were bearing children for a life of hardship and slavery (Exodus 1). This was a blessing to them, and the Bible never indicates that they were unwise for having children in these circumstances.
  • We have a duty to care for the environment. However, the very part of the Bible that encourages us to care for the world (Genesis 1 & 2) also encourages us to have children (Genesis 1:28). It is ironic that some Christians use the Creation Mandate as a reason to control fertility, when it relates physical fruitfulness to godly rulership of the earth.
Theoretically I would not have a problem with promoting knowledge about non-abortive birth control methods (barrier methods, natural family planning, and sterilisation), if massive doses of humanist thinking did not accompany it. While Christians can and do disagree about the ethics of contraception, all should agree that it is a matter of conscience which should never be laid upon people as a duty. Advocating population decreases in the developing world imposes Western ideology upon people who have differing beliefs about fertility and family size. It is essentially an exercise in humanist imperialism.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Culture and the Creation Mandate

The “command to subdue the earth (often called the creation mandate) is a cultural mandate”. Walsh and Middleton 1984, 55.

So God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and 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 creature that moves on the earth.
Genesis 1:27 – 28

In their book The Transforming Vision: Shaping a Christian Worldview, Brian Walsh and Richard Middleton explain that the creation mandate is a cultural mandate (p. 54 – 56). Genesis 2:15 reveals that Adam was placed in the garden “to till it and to keep it” (RSV), or to “tend and keep it” (NKJV). “The twofold original human task is to develop and preserve our creational environment” (1984, p. 54).

Walsh and Middleton explain that the notion of cultivating, which is encompassed in the idea of tilling and keeping the earth, is connected to culture. “Culture is the result of cultivation . . . Both culture and cultivate refer essentially to our human interactions with the world” (1984, p. 54).

This cultivation of the world, and simultaneous creation of culture, is a communal or social action (p. 55). Adam needed Eve to complete his mandate. As a couple they needed to have children in order to rule the whole earth effectively. This was not something they could complete alone.

As human beings made in God’s image and living in communities, we cultivate relationships, forms of worship, ideas and traditions, technological objects, institutions, music, economics, and entertainment (p. 55).

“In all our cultural activities and affairs – that is, in all human actions, artefacts, relationships and institutions by which we interact with and develop creation – human beings provide evidence of their God-given rule of the earth” (p. 56).

The formation of cultural norms is a God-mandated activity. It is part of being human, and Christians have an additional motivation. Culture is not neutral. We can cultivate the earth for God’s glory, bringing his love into all our interactions. Or we can abdicate our responsibility, and allow idolatrous cultures to dominate.