Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I have a confession to make

This month I have received the gift of an amazing new desk that really fits the printer, computer, books, and scrapbooking projects on it, as well as my slope board for reading. Amazing! Friends decided it was too big for them, and we think it is just the right size for us right now.

I have taken lots of photos of the view from our study.

I have observed Mum and Dad's amazing new glass house.

We have had Shellyanne and Phil Ninness for dinner.

We have sampled our bottled beetroot and discovered that it didn't need quite so much sugar!

I have finished my Developmental Psychology for Teachers final assignment.

I have also done lots of other things, like hosting Bruce Colman of Choices of Life for a week, and participating in his training to do pro-life school presentations.

But I haven't written my testimony or asked others to write theirs for my blog. I'm sorry for presumptuously saying that I would do this for my Great Commission week this month. I hope that it will happen another time, but I'm not going to make a deadline! Even though I haven't written about it yet, I'm still deeply grateful for God's saving work in my life. Lets keep praying that others will know this same joy.

One step closer to a Diploma

Last night I finished my final assignment for the Diploma of Education subject I studied this trimester. Now I only have three more subjects to go before I'm finished! It should be all done by the end of November. I am studying Primary teaching. For my major Developmental Psychology for Teachers assignment I made a PowerPoint presentation for parents of children entering Prep (first year of full time schooling). I also wrote a 2,500 word essay on the theory behind the presentation.

While putting together the presentation, I enjoyed using google image to search for pictures to compliment what I wrote. Here are some of the images I came up with . . .

I used this cartoon for a whole slide, to add a little humour to the presentation! It comes from

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

60,000 men weep & sing together

Dave received an amazing article via email today. The news was featured in the Sunday Independent on 27 April, but is only accessible online to subscribers.

Here are some excerpts . . .

To draw more than 60 000 men to a non-sporting, Christian event is not just an achievement, it could be deemed a miracle.

From all parts of South Africa and various corners of the globe, they came to the Mighty Men's conference in the small KwaZulu-Natal town of Greytown last weekend.

In three Boeings from Cape Town, 17 buses from Nelspruit, with cars backed up for nearly 30km on the road from Pietermaritzburg to Greytown, men converged on the farm Shalom. There was even a contingent of 140 farmers from Queensland, Australia.

Lawyers, doctors, businessmen, farmers, an army general - from Ireland, America, England, Australia, Swaziland, Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa - were there for one purpose: to hear farmer-turned-evangelist Angus Buchan, of Faith Like Potatoes fame, speak, and hopefully turn their lives around.

About 80 percent of those present were Afrikaner men - and many of these Mighty Men were soon weeping as they listened to the powerful message that they "should take back the family unit".

For Buchan, 60, what was particularly staggering was that men responded in such numbers.

While even a mixed gathering of such proportions, including women and children, would have been difficult to comprehend in a small rural town, for men to feel the call and make the pilgrimage was literally earth-shaking.

As businessman Myles Buxton of Durban put it: "They were shaking the ground with the power of their voices as they sang."

Buxton said many of the participants had not really been sure why they were there. "But we knew we were there for a reason, and boy, did it arrive. There were these big, strong men crying like little babies. So did I."

Clive McMurray of Kloof said he had been to several Mighty Men conferences and had watched the numbers grow each year. "Angus's messages don't change dramatically from year to year, but are always based on telling men they must get their act together."

McMurray said the emphasis was on committing and recommitting, on going back home and loving the people around you. The focus was also on repentance and praying for South Africa and on loving one another in the way Jesus had loved.

If people were harbouring prejudices against other races, they should get it out of their systems. "He [Buchan] cries 70 percent of the time on stage," said McMurray.

For Buchan, what brought all these men together is easily explained. "God gave me a directive to turn fathers back to sons and sons back to fathers, to take back the family unit," he explained, saying he was still pinching himself to see whether it had not all been a dream.

Although he has been asked why there was no conference for women, he said his directive had been to challenge men to stand up and be counted: "To be prophet, priest and king. They must be the breadwinners, protect their wives and discipline their children."

At the first Mighty Men gathering five years ago 240 men turned up; 600 the next; then 1 060. Last year the figure rose to 7 400. Then came this year's mind-blowing 60 000 to 65 000.

Buchan believes that with this kind of support, South Africa can flourish; that it will not start with the politicians, but with people learning respect for each other. To this end, he has booked the 50 000-seater Loftus Versveld stadium for July 19 - and tickets are already sold out.

I've ended up including most of the article, because it is so amazing! Who knows what God will do across Africa, and even the world, as a result of this gathering.


In "Is black SA turning old friends into foes?" Nigerian Pius Adesarmi wrote of the perceptions Americans have of Africa, and the perceptions black South Africans have of non-SA blacks.

I needed the return to Africa badly. I had been away from the continent for an uncomfortable stretch, carrying out my scholarly labour in the minefield of North American academe, writing Africa "from a rift", as Achille Mbembe would put it. I also needed a reprieve from the oppression of the North American media image of Africa.

The African living here is in constant danger of accepting whatever image of Africa he or she is presented by the media as gospel truth.

In North America, I have been consistently assailed, assaulted, and oppressed with images of Africa traceable to the colonial library: Africa-as-Aids, Africa-as-hunger, Africa-as-civil war, Africa-as-corruption, Africa-as-the-antithesis-of-democracy, Africa-as-everything-we-are-glad-not-to-be.

You get tired of the ritual of explaining to charmingly ignorant interlocutors that there is a fundamental distinction between the Africa they see on CNN and the real Africa.
I am not "African", but I have a great interest in the continent since visiting last year and marrying a white South African eight months afterwards. I too grate against the images presented as Africa-as-everything-bad, and Africa-as-the-place-you-would-never-want-to-be.

We have to be realistic about the challenges South Africa and other countries in the continent face. Yet the caricatures are not realistic, and that is one of the problems.

The author goes on to describe his experiences in South Africa, and the racism he encountered there: of an unexpected sort.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Loving the church

Maybe like me you've struggled at times to love the church. People disappoint you. The preacher says things you disagree with, or even hate. The music is bad, or non-existent. The Bible studies seem pointless. Why should you bother?

Many people give their answer: I won't bother.

Maybe you have seen some of these people loose their love for the church. They recount stories of hypocrisy and confusion. They have grown bitter about slights and disappointments that happened years ago. They no longer care what the Bible says, and they live according to what "seems right".

Maybe you are one of those people.

Or maybe you have seen people who think they are too good for the church. They have a better way of "doing church", and until they find a group of like-minded people they are not going to go. They can see how the church will affect them, or their children, badly if they do go.

Maybe you are one of those people.

Perhaps you go to church, but you remain disengaged. You are afraid of being hurt or making mistakes. I've been there, and often I still am.

In our consumer orientated, fragmented society, it is hard to commit to a community of imperfect people. It is hard to open yourself up to deep relationships when you're used to superficiality. It is hard to stick with something when the dominant attitude is "If you don't like it go somewhere else" - or perhaps, don't go at all.

I'm so grateful that the Bible is not unclear when it comes to our responsibilities to love God's people. We are to love all people, but we have a particular responsiblity to commit to the church. As I've chosen to obey God's word, very imperfectly, I have been blessed through the teaching and relationships at my church.

To read more about loving the church, why not read Joshua Harris' book "Stop Dating the Church" . . .

You can read an interview with Josh about the book at Boundless Webzine. You can also read Tim Challies' review.

I'd also love to hear about your experiences of church, positive or negative, and how you are dealing with them. I'm always encouraged by Faith's positive comments about her church!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Idolatry is promoted on talk shows

Oprah Winfrey has become a guru to many. I even know some Christians who live nearby who receive her magazine, and I believe they have been influenced for the worse. Today I read a post titled Are You Attending the "Oprah Church"?. This post revealed the false religion that Oprah promotes. Those who are willing to listen to this false gospel deserve the same rebuke that Paul gave to the Corinthians . . .

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted - you may well put up with it! 2 Corinthians 11: 3 - 4.

Idolatry is alive and well in our culture. How can we respond? How can we avoid being like the Corinthinas? We can simply loving God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength, as the Great Commandment tells us to do.

Image from Bible Truth.

God's character is revealed in Exodus

I've just finished reading the book of Exodus. This book has some great verses which reveal God's character and help us to love the true God, not a creation of our imaginations or preferences. God says of himself . . .

I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. Exodus 33: 19b.

And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation. Exodus 34: 6 - 7.

The picture is from Michael Bogdanow Paintings.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A testimony of God's provision

Click here to read a beautiful story of God's provision for one family.

God will provide for our children

I recently received a newsletter from Open Doors Counselling and Educational Services. This service offers pregnancy and post-abortion counselling. The newsletter included the story of “Geoff” and “Lyn” (the names had been changed), who discovered they were expecting triplets. Here is their story.

Initially they were overjoyed as they had waited a long time for a baby in their lives. However, as the pregnancy proceeded and Lyn battled morning sickness, she became overcome with anxiety about trying to manage 3 babies at once. Family supports were few as all family members were interstate. In her debilitated state she became quite distressed. Initially, Geoff tried to encourage Lyn to take it one step at a time. However, she became even more distraught.

Geoff just didn’t know what to do to relieve Lyn’s distress and then he started to panic as well. He felt totally at a loss and suggested that they seek the opinion of their doctor, hoping that he would be able to assure Lyn about the pregnancy. When the doctor spoke to them about having what is termed a ‘selective reduction’ of the number of fetuses, both were horrified and became even more conflict.

How could they choose one baby over the other two? Things spiralled downwards even more and, in the end, it became an “all or nothing” situation. The fact that Geoff felt overwhelmed further exacerbated Lyn’s panic. Anxiety and fear took over any attempt to be rational, and the pregnancy was terminated. What followed for them both was immense sorrow and anguish over the decision they made.

After reading this story for the first time, you may feel as sad and sickened as I was. You may even be angry. Angry at “Geoff” and “Lyn” for making such a devastating choice, at their doctor for recommending a selective reduction, or with him for agreeing to abort all three babies when the parents were clearly not making a rational choice. If you know that the Australian government offers a lot of support to parents of triplets, particularly in the first year, you may be horrified that the couple were not informed of this.

When I read this story, though, I think of God. The God who will provide for our children, no matter how many we have and no matter what their needs are. It is tragic that so many people do not have the support of faith in God. Instead, when confronted with a pregnancy involving difficulties, they are encouraged to think about whether “they can cope”. How many of us would total confidence in our ability to parent 3 babies at once, or a disabled child?

When we know God’s character, and have a deep love for Him, we can face the prospect of parenthood even when there are difficulties. We can have faith in His character as our provider, defender, comforter, shepherd and friend. God never encourages us to consider our own resources before we choose to bring a child (or three) into this world. None of us know what our resources will be next month, or next year. Yet God has promised us our daily bread, and he will also feed our children. Only God can give us the strength and faith we need to welcome children with hope, even when we cannot hope in our own resources.

Little ones

There have been some little ones at our house recently . . .

Esther came to stay the night. We had fun together including making alphabet cookies, working on her alphabet scrapbook, making pizza, and going for a walk.

Janelle has also been letting me have the really little ones . . .

Jeriah and Caleb now come to visit on their own when Janelle has activities she needs to do with Esther. Such charming little men they are too :).

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Creation Mandate is affirmed throughout the Bible

Jeremiah 29: 5 – 7 is interesting in the context of the Creation or Dominion Mandate God gave to the first man and woman in Genesis.

Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters – that you may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it, for in its peace you will have peace.

This passage seems similar in intent to what God told mankind to do in Genesis: rule your immediate surroundings well, tend the ground, and have children. God knows that these are the ordinary things of life, but he deems them important and desires that his people do them even when they are in difficult circumstances. This is also assumed in the New Testament, although not stated explicitly in a single passage.

God’s people are commanded to work hard. Titus 3:14 says “And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.” Paul made himself an example of hard work when he stated that he and his companions “worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you” (2 Thessalonians 3:8).

Childbearing and rearing is encouraged, commanded, and assumed in various passages (see Titus 2:4, 1 Timothy 3: 4, 1 Timothy 5:10 & 14, Colossians 4:21, Ephesians 6:1 – 2). One qualification a widow being supported by the church is “if she has brought up children” (1 Timothy 5:10). An elder is to be “one who rules his own house well, having his children under submission with all reverence” (1 Timothy 3:4). Parenting is obviously valued as a good and important work.

Jesus’ death and resurrection did not nullify the Creation Mandate. Even though we know that the most important realities are eternal ones, the "earthy" Creation Mandate is not abandoned. Rather, it is basic to living daily life as a Christian. We are to work hard and to rule our immediate surroundings with skill and dedication. We are to bear children and bring them up to know Christ. Our daily, ordinary work now also has eternal significance in that it speaks of the God we serve and points people to him.

But we urge you brethren that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing. 1 Thessalonians 4:10b – 12.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Kitchen Gardener

In Australia, we have just entered the second month of autumn. This season and the cold winter that follows are a great time to begin thinking about the vegetables you could plant in the spring! If you would like to begin a garden in the spring, or learn more about the garden you already have, The Kitchen Gardener is a great resource.

The Kitchen Gardener by Julian Matthews is packed full of colour pictures and inspiration. It includes a beautiful section on potager gardens, which are designed to be both ornamental and edible! It also contains a section about growing vegetables and herbs in pots, titled “No garden? No problem”. General information about soils and sowing and a “Garden diary” of when to plant are other features. My favourite section of the book is the A-Z guide to vegetable growing. Each vegetable is given a double page spread that includes pictures and information about its nutritional value, suitability for pots, soil needs, seed raising, sowing, spacing, pests and diseases it may be susceptible to, and harvesting.

This book will provide all you need to start out on your adventure in vegetable gardening, and plenty of new ideas to keep you going! In Tasmania, April brings colder weather. We have planted some seeds in the garden: rocket, lettuce, carrots, chives, and beetroot. This is a bit of an experiment to see if they will grow over winter. The climate is mild enough, as it rarely snows in non-mountainous regions. When it becomes too cold to plant anything I intend to spend some extra time studying up on what we can do in the spring.

Happy gardening!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Nothing to do at home? Think again . . .

If you think there is nothing to do at home when you don't have kids, allow Crystal to challenge you to think again about the worth of the home as a center for ministry, productivity, outreach, and evangelism. A wife is first of all called to be her husband's helper and that is a big job in itself! As one elderly minister's wife once said to me (paraphrased) "Often when wives work, their husbands are the ones that suffer. A lot of women will give up work for their children, but not for their husband. I don't think that is biblical at all, because biblically the husband comes before the children". Of course, many women have very healthy marriages and some level of paid employment at the same time! However, the fact remains that there is an abundance to do at home and a childless woman can often be the best help to her husband through her work there.

Please pray for Kristy

I was so sad yesterday when I discovered from Crystal's blog that Kristy's husband has died. They had only been married since January. I can't imagine how hard this must be for Kristy. Please pray for her as she walks through this very black valley. As God's people we are called to "weep with those who weep". The least we can do is to uphold Kristy in prayer.

I’m sorry, even a nanny state can’t do it all

Australia’s indigenous population faces many challenges. Some of these are disadvantages created through systematic government policy over many decades, including dispossession, genocide, and removal of children. Others are a result of the choices of indigenous people, in response to “white culture” and to traditional practices. In recent years there has been a revival of concern about past abuses. This culminated in an apology to indigenous Australians.

Indigenous people, sampled as a group, are likely to live 17 years less than other Australians. This has been called a “national shame”. Christopher Pearson’s article in The Weekend Australian, “Nanny’s unhealthy regard”, slams this idea. Pearson rightly points out that smoking, alcohol abuse, and poor nutrition are matters of personal choice.

“The first thing to note is that these are all matters of individual choice rather than anything that could remotely be considered an occasion of national disgrace.

“In a pluralist society, the nanny state can deplore people’s lifestyle choices but Aborigines are as entitled as the white proletariat to tell nanny to mind her own business.”

Australians are right to be ashamed of the actions of some of their ancestors. At times with good motives, at times with evil ones, many settlers and government officials of the past abused the indigenous people of Australia. Responsibility must be taken. At the same time, modern Australians must be realistic about the contribution that the choices of indigenous people make to their disadvantage. I’m sorry, but the nanny state can’t make up for that.

Zimbabwe's election

I am eagerly watching the Zimbabwean elections, hoping for a change in government there. The situation is truly tragic. Since Zimbabwe borders on South African, my husband's homeland, we have a special interest in the country. If Zimbabwe could improve, this could reduce the refugee problem in South Africa. If the land grab in Zimbabwe can be recognised as mismanaged and unwise, it may reduce the likelihood of similar events occurring someday in South Africa. If proper democratic procedures can be observed in Zimbabwe, it will give us greater hope that South Africa can continue to have an orderly and non-dictatorial government.

You can read the comments of one Zimbabwean on the country at BBC World News. I found her response to questions interesting, especially this one . . .

Q: What is wrong with our African leaders - especially the so-called liberators?

Jeffery Sebunya, Kampala, Uganda

This is a difficult one. I guess we the public feel we owe them for our freedom, and we tend to worship them instead of viewing them as mere political leaders who are answerable to us. We watch and stay silent as they amend constitutions to give themselves more and more power until the country becomes a fiefdom. So it's not entirely the leaders' fault, we also contribute by staying silent when we should speak out.

The writer also gave honour to God - how wonderful! Will you join us in praying for Africa?