Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Breadth of the Great Commission

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen." Matthew 28:19-20.

The aim of the Great Commission category on “A Deeper Love” is to explore some of the ways we can further God’s kingdom here on earth. The Great Commission begins with evangelism: helping people to come to know their Heavenly Father for the first time. Yet it does not end there. The Great Commission is a mandate that reaches to every area of human endeavour. Christians are not simply called to make disciples. They are called to train those disciples to live in the light of all that God has commanded. In this sense the Great Commission encompasses the Great Commandment: as we teach people to be Christ’s disciples, we teach them to love God and one another.

Most Christians are involved in living out the Great Commission, even if they never personally lead someone to Christ. Parents who speak God’s word to their children are training them to obey what God has commanded. Church members who tithe to their local congregation are helping the church to fulfil its mission of training Christians and proclaiming the gospel. Preachers who exhort the church to avoid sexual immorality are teaching their congregation to do what God has commanded. The Great Commission is broad. This truth encourages me. Even though I have never had the blessing of directly leading someone to Christ, I am involved in fulfilling the Great Commission.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Avoiding slander in the church

Ungodly speech can lead to terrible things, including murder and physical attacks. It more commonly leads to strife within the church. One form of ungodly speech that is common in the church is the tendency to misrepresent the beliefs of others. Paul was slanderously reported as saying things that he had not said (Romans 3:8). We need to be careful of being like Paul’s attackers. I am commonly guilty of this sin. I am trying to summarise the beliefs of another group of Christians, and instead I distort them. I oppose a particular viewpoint without even understanding what it is. I often hear others committing this sin as well. We need to stop. Lets ask each other “Are you sure that is what person x believes?”

Another way we can slander other Christians is to stick the unclear label “legalist” on anyone who disapproves of something that we think is fine. I think it is fine to wear trousers. This does not give me the right to call those who wear skirts all the time “legalistic”. You may believe it is consistent with biblical thinking to use birth control for reasons of preference. I don’t. That does not give you the right to call me a legalist. To be legalistic is to claim a better standing before God due to personal actions or positions. As C.J. Mahaney wrote in Living the Cross Centered Life, “Legalism is seeking to achieve forgiveness from God and justification from God through obedience to God”. If the label “legalistic” drops easily from your tongue, you may be slandering those who are trying to live a biblically consistent and gospel centred life. Please stop.

Understanding slander

In the past couple of weeks I have been studying ungodly speech. I’ve followed through the McArthur Study Bible’s references regarding slander, and written them out. An important part of learning to love one another is learning to control our tongues. The first steps toward doing this are prayer and the study of God’s word. The Bible forbids many kinds of ungodly and/or unwise speech.

Whispering and backbiting are listed amongst the sins that characterise the ungodly
(Romans 1:29 – 30)

Gossip is condemned in 1 Timothy 5:13.

Defamation is described in Jeremiah 20:10, as mockers are attacking the prophet.

False Witnesses are condemned in many biblical passages, including Exodus 20:16.

Judging uncharitably is described in James 1:11 – 12, and McArthur argues that this passage particularly condemns careless, critical, slanderous accusations.

Evil suspicions are condemned in 1 Timothy 6:4, indicating that we should not pass on our “evil suspicions” regarding the conduct of others.

Repeating matters relating to the transgressions of others is not loving, and actually separates friends (Proverbs 17:9).

My motivation for studying these and many other scriptures was the tendency for the Internet to foster and promote slander. God's rules for loving one another don't cease here. When we don't know people it is so much easier to slander them. When we have personal contact with individuals we know what we disagree with them on, but we also know their good points and the things we love about them. On the Internet it is easy to see people as a particular viewpoint we don't agree with, and to stop treating them as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Biblical Womanhood guest post

You may be interested in a guest post I did for Biblical Womanhood last week, titled Don't Repeat My Mistakes!", in which I encourage teens to learn household skills.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Loving the true God

I planned to post this last week, but since Dave and I have been staying at a friend's place to help with their animals I have had little time at home!

It is easy to love the parts of God's character that are currently approved of in our culture, or which make us feel good. We may think of God as kind, loving, gracious and forgiving. This is what many non-Christians think as well. If we are to love the true God, we have to embrace other parts of his character that are less popular. God is not only loving, he is also angry with sin. He takes sin so seriously that he caused his own son to die on the cross so that we would not have to bear the punishment for it. Choosing to ignore sin, as we commonly do, was not an option for God.

In the early years of my Christian life I chose to focus on parts of God's character I agreed with. I embraced his forgiveness but rejected his sovereignty . As I understood more about God's word, I realised that I cannot pick and choose the "nice" parts of God's character. Our God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Lord of Hosts who destroys his enemies. The LORD who remembers every idle word we speak. We can take him as he is, or we can make up a god who is more to our liking. Either way, he remains the LORD and his character is unchanging.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

What do I do with . . . beetroot?

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

God causes our food to grow . . . and then we have to work out what to do with it! Part of our Creation Mandate of having dominion over the earth is learning to creatively and carefully use the resources God has given in the form of food.

Since having a garden, I've been developing plans for what to do with various crops. Here are some beetroot ideas . . .

Dave is eating roasted beetroot with pasta. This is ultra-simple. Roast the beetroot with olive oil. Heat up some cream to boiling point and melt grated parmesan in it. Mix these with the pasta and serve! Beetroot and parmesan go well together.

Dave has encouraged me to develop skills in preserving food, and these are my first efforts! Two jars of pickled beetroot! They have yet to meet the taste test.

Here Dave is cooking a beetroot risotto. This was delicious, and a beautiful scarlet colour! We roasted the beetroot before putting it into the risotto.

We have also used roasted beetroot in green salads, and in potato salad.

Do you have any further beetroot ideas . . . I'll gratefully receive them!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Gardening Fun

Dave watering the cherry tomatoes, corn, basil, lettuce, snow peas, pasley, butter beans, carrots, spring onions, squash, and silverbeet!

Home food preparation is environmentally friendly

I was surprised when I heard on the news that eating processed foods has a greater impact upon the environment than eating home cooked foods. I had thought that it would be more efficient and therefore more environmentally friendly. However, processed foods must be transported and packaged. They create more waste and energy consuption. Dave and I often talk about ways in which we could produce more of our own food. This is generally cheaper as well. Today I googled "yoghurt making" and came up with a couple of interesting links to sites that encourage home food production of many kinds.

Green Living Australia includes a forum, a store for Australians, and instructions about a variety of foods including yoghurt and preserves.

Basic Ingredients HomeBread not only includes information and supplies for bread making, but also sells yoghurt cultures and (of all things!) ginger beer plants. Dave loves ginger beer, so maybe we'll have to try that out!

So remember . . . when you prepare something you could have bought pre-prepared and packaged, you are helping to look after our environment. I find this encouraging as I usually spend at least two or three hours a day preparing meals and cleaning up after them! This is a worthwhile work, not only from the perspective of health and taste but also from an environmental perspective. I hope this encourages you too!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Fewer people is not the answer

According to Waste Management by Kaye Healey (ed), each person in the Western world now produces ten times the waste that the average person in 1920 did. People in 1920 grew a lot of their own fruit and vegetables. This also reduced the burden they placed upon agricultural land. Currently, a Western person produces 20 times more waste than a person in the third world. These facts demonstrate that it is not the number of people on the earth that counts, as much as it is the way they use the earth.

Monday, February 4, 2008

My first polls!

Thank you to those who voted in the polls that recently finished, especially to my husband who was the only man to vote! It was fun to find out how he had grown in the last year. I was encouraged that so many of my blog readers feel they have grown in loving their husbands, learning from older women, teaching younger women, discretion, and homemaking. Praise God for what he is doing in your lives! It is great that there ended up being at least one person who chose each of the important areas God calls us to grow in as women, including loving children, avoiding slander, reverent behaviour, and purity. May God continue to bless you all!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Learning from older women

You have already met my Mum through her post The wisdom only God can give. Here she is teaching me to clean my windows. In the book Family Practice Elizabeth Elliot suggests that the command for older women to teach the younger women is primarily a practical one. Older women can help the younger women through practically showing them how to care for their homes and families. This is the way Mum helped me this week, when she came over to show me how to clean windows. I encourage you to seek out an older woman to teach you a practical task you have not yet mastered - perhaps dusting, or cleaning the shower, or baking bread. Most women would be only too happy to share their skills and experiences with someone who cared to know.

The example of Elizabeth Prentiss

Felicity Manning is a young woman at my church. I have had the pleasure of seeing Felicity grow in godliness over the past few years. She shares some encouraging words about seeking out the wisdom of those who have gone before us.

When Sherrin asked me to write a guest post about wise women I was honoured but unsure who and what to write about. However, as I thought about all the Godly wise women who had crossed my paths I was drawn to one women who I have never met. At the beginning of last year, the girls over at Girltalk started reading , Elizabeth Prentiss: 'More Love to Thee' in their bookclub. I purchased this book and started reading this biography of Elizabeth Prentiss. It is a fantastic book that I would recommend to any women to read.

Through reading the about Elizabeth Prentiss' life I was able to see a Christian women who although lived in a different century and country to me, was an example of trusting God through all lives circumstances. The back cover of the book describes it best.
“Do you sometimes feel that you would be able to grow in love for God and others—if only your circumstances were different? Maybe you find that the sheer demands of everyday life squeeze out time for God? Perhaps a terrible tragedy has made you doubt the goodness of God?”
“Read this true story to find out how one woman discovered that:
-The most difficult circumstances are ‘God’s school’ to teach us more about his grace.
-The very busy times are precisely those times when we need—and can find—God’s strength.
-The worst of tragedies can draw us closer to God.”
Through reading this biography I was able to see the whole life of a Christian woman, a woman who experienced sorrow, suffering, joy and victories, and yet what marked her most was her deep dependence and faith in God. She was an example to me that God is greater than our circumstances and that it is when we don't feel strong enough he gives us the strength to continue and draws us closer to him.
"As Cotton Mather, the well-known American Puritan once wrote: “examples do strangely charm us into imitation.” That’s why we tend to talk, dress, and behave a lot like the people we live and mingle with—even after only two weeks. Or, as Proverbs 13:20 observes: “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” By reading biographies, we can “walk” with wise men and women from history and become wise ourselves through their trials, obstacles, doubts, victories, and strengths. And because they have already finished their journey, we can discover what it means to live and end well." ~ Girltalk blog

I pray we can look for and follow the examples of the wise women around us.