Thursday, October 30, 2008

TV and the Great Commission

I've recently been listening to some of the Matthias Media "EQUIP Women" 2004 conference CDs. Wendy Potts made many good points in her talk "Making the most of opportunities". The CD inspired me to trust God and look for opportunities to connect with people who don't know Him. As CDs on evangelism go, it was good and worth recommending.

One thing, however, was of concern to me. In a section of the talk about finding things to work on in your life, Wendy said "I need to work on watching more junk TV". She went on to explain that watching TV shows like Sex and the City might provide opportunities for spiritual conversation. As I thought more about this (with our TV stowed safely in the cupboard), two things came to mind.

Firstly, are we supposed to enjoy watching these shows? If we don't enjoy them, how can we connect with others on the basis of these things? I find it impossible to enjoy TV shows that make comedy out of vile things. Since marriage, sexual immorality has become increasingly horrifying. When I read facts about it in the context of someone's life (such as in a newspaper or biography) I feel a kind of horrified sadness. How can something so wonderful and pure be turned into something so impure and destructive? Should this not grieve us?

Secondly, the purpose of evangelism is to bring disciples into the church. The Great Commission commands us to disciple the nations in all God has commanded. Numerous times, God commands us to flee and to hate what is evil. I don't suppose TV shows are excluded. While Wendy may be able to watch these things without sin, there would be many immature Christians in her audience. It is easy for new Christians to be crippled when they continue with viewing habits that legitimise sin. They often have a desperate need to be renewed in their minds, and portraying junk TV as a positive part of life is surely unhelpful.

I recognise, as I write these things, that many godly people I love watch a whole lot of junk TV and have a many justifications for it. I clearly disagree with the what-you-watch-doesn't-matter folks, and am grieved to hear of what others enjoy. I've tried to be careful not to rant in this post, however, and hope I've conveyed love for my brothers and sisters who disagree. I can't comment on TV better than John Piper does in Don't Waste Your Life:

TV still reigns as the great life-waster. The main problem with TV is not how much smut is available, though that is a problem. Just the ads are enough to sow fertile seeds of greed and lust, no matter what program you're watching. The greater problem is banality. A mind fed daily on TV dinimishes. Your mind was made to know and love God.
The Great Commission is about teaching people to know and love God. I really don't see how Sex and the City will help.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Get Married!

I highly recommend Kara's two posts about Candice Watters' new book Get Married: What Women Can Do To Help It Happen. This book appears to avoid some of the pitfalls of Getting Serious About Getting Married and to encourage a more contented attitude of trust in God. I cannot do justice in a few words to the themes Kara explores in her posts. All I will say is that they are well worth reading! Check out part one and part 2 of her review. I would like to read this book in order to better help young women who desire to be married.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Visionary Daughters on friendship

In the context of recent posts on courtship, I found a few posts by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin relevant. These posts deal with the topic of friendships between men and women.

In their first article at Visionary Daughters, the sisters share their thoughts on treating one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Standards and rules of decorum should be regarded. The trouble is, they don’t ultimately fix the problems. Only treating the attitudes of our hearts – cultivating agape love, wisdom, thoughtfulness, and the perception and intuition to discern the need of the moment – will help us act like the sisters in Christ we should be.

Try to act like a sister, not a prospect. Don’t be obsessed with your own eligibility, or theirs either, for that matter. Selfless, honest interaction with young men has the potential to edify, stimulate, educate, inspire and encourage both parties.
In a subsequent post, they answer a 14-year-old's question about whether friendships between boys and girls should be different from those between girls.

The danger here isn’t just boy-girl relationships. It’s fool-fool relationships. There is this danger in friendships between girls, too. Yet age shouldn’t really be the basis of “discrimination” either, any more than gender. The issue is spiritual maturity.
Finally, they address the topic of whether guys and girls can be "just friends" without emotional entanglement.

Few of us have ever seen friendships between young men and women conducted in an entirely pure and honorable way.

We believe the problem is not with friendship, but with sin. Sadly, sin and selfishness are what drive most the relationships of today’s youth.
In my opinion, each of these posts presents a lot of wisdom. They are worth reading in full.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

There really is a baby in there

Yesterday I went to the doctor at the public hospital and she did a very quick scan to measure the baby. Sure enough, there really is a small Drew present with us :). He/she waves and kicks. I'm not that excited about fetal development, having learnt so much about it through pro-life involvement. It is not new and exciting to me anymore! However, it is exciting to see my own baby on the screen. 28 weeks to go, God willing.

I haven't written much about my pregnancy. There are a couple of reasons for this.

1) I've been trying not to whine about being sick/tired.

2) I'm also trying not to turn this into another Mummy blog, much as I love some of them. This may be a short lived and futile aim, but you'll note that the title of my blog is still "A Deeper Love" and not "Pregnant Mum Muses" or something like that. I want motherhood to be a minor theme of this blog, not a totally dominating one!

For those who are curious though:

  • I have finally started looking at maternity clothes for no good reason. I am just as thin as ever. I even got Dave to come and look at some with me :)
  • I've developed a horror of my home being filled with cutsie and pointless toys. Is it possible to prevent this??
  • Today I went through boxes full of my sister's baby clothes and more, and brought three boxes home with me. It is fantastic to have so much given to me, and means we will have to buy much less than many new parents.\
  • I keep wondering what colour scheme the "spare room", which we hope will soon be shared with baby, should have. Does pale gold and deep red sound good to anyone else?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

From White Australia to Woomera

Have you ever wondered about the composition of Australian society in comparison to that of other countries?

Do you think we are one of the most multicultural societies on earth?

Have you felt unduly swayed by newspaper reports, and wanted to understand immigration more deeply?

Do you fear a "Muslim invasion"? Or perhaps an Asian invasion, or some other variation?

If so, this book may be for you. A rational, detailed and often dry 220 pages of analysis from an expert in the field, it will leave you with more information and (hopefully) fewer prejudices. Thanks to the White Australia policy, that existed until the 1970s, Australia became one of the most British societies outside the UK. This continues even to the present day, with 3/4 of the population speaking only English and describing themselves as Christian. James Jupp provides analysis of White Australia, the movement to multiculturalism, the policies of various governments, the need for immigration, and much more.

Amongst the most helpful aspects of this book are the author's definitions of racism and xenophobia. James Jupp writes "By 'racist', I mean a fairly complex position which argues that clearly identifiable races not only exist but are hierarchically graded." Racism is an ideology that views all members of a race as superior or inferior to members of another race. "By 'xenophobic', I mean a simpler psychological reaction to people who originate in a different homeland and who are believed to be physically or culturally different." Jupp argues that this is an almost universal reaction, but must be controlled in a civilised society. Xenophobia can include fear of another religion or language.

This is a secular book, but it has aroused all kinds of religious questions in me. What does responsible dominion, as taught in the Creation Mandate, mean for a country's immigration policy? What is a loving response to refugees? Should Christians advocate that all people "fit into" society and adopt Australian values? Should we support the evaluation of people primarily on the basis of their potential economic contribution to society? How can we, who know that fear and worry are expressions of lack of trust in God, fear Muslim people coming to Australia? Should we not rather view their prescence as an opportunity? I don't have the answers to these and many other questions. However, they need to be asked if Christians are to develop a loving and biblically based response to immigration.

Creation Ministries Event

For those who live near Hobart, this event may be of interest:

Friday 24 October 2008 at 8pm

"Design, Deluge & Dilemma


The Most-asked Questions - Answered!

Dr Jonathan Sarfati, Writer/Co-editor for Creation magazine

Kingborough Life Church
5 Mertonvale Cct, Kingston

Especially if you have never attended a creation event, it will be worthwhile to check out the biblical message presented.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cultural story-telling

I have argued previously that the Creation Mandate is a cultural mandate. What we call "education" (and the Bible terms discipleship or teaching) is the way we transfer that cultural mandate to others and equip them to continue its advancement.

Fernhout explains it this way, as quoted in the notes of my Wesley Institute Diploma of Education Biblical Studies course:

"If education is, at bottom, a process of cultural story-telling . . . then the educational engagement of Christians should be imbued with, penetrated by the biblical story and its life-world. Each new generation of Christians needs to be steeped in that story so that their lives can tell the same story as the biblical story . . . Christians are to live in the biblical story as the community whose story it is, and from that indwelling they try to understand and cope with events int heir time in order to carry the story forward."

It is vital to understand the world through the biblical text, and to do this students must both know the text and how to apply it. Significantly, much of what we call "education" today does not disciple students to apply the biblical story. In fact, it disciples students through the lens of alternate stories. It should not be a surprise when students grow up to live those stories, or try to combine them with the biblical story.

Friday, October 17, 2008

You're looking at Dr David Drew

In August Dave submitted his PhD thesis titled "Describing and predicting temporal growth and wood property variation in plantation eucalypts". People immediately began to congratulate him, but he was reticent to accept their commendations. Why? The thesis had been submitted for assessment, which allowed for the possibility that it would be rejected.

Well, now the suspense is over.

In the words of one examiner:

"The project described in the thesis was a very ambitious one. The known range of environmental variables influencing xylem development is enormous, and it is clear that there may well be others which are not yet recognised or understood. The difficulties involved in developing a model taking account of these variables would deter many people from even attempting to do it. However, I was most impressed by the logical and reasoned way in which the candidate has approached the problem, and by the level of success achieved."

"This report is relatively short because I have found little to fault in the thesis. It represents a lot of hard, painstaking work. The candidate demonstrates his clear understanding of the scientific problems involved and a comprehensive grasp of the techniques he has used. He has demonstrated the ability to analyse critically his observations and to set them in the context of the relevant literature. In thirty years of examining I have seldom encountered such a well-written, carefully prepared and readable thesis."
Since others may not be as interested in this as I am, I'll spare you quotes from the other examiner! We are thrilled with this result. After watching the huge amount of hard work Dave did, including many evenings and Saturdays, I have some idea of what it has cost. What a blessing that the work has been rewarded. Thank you God!

Officially, Dave is not a "Dr" until his formal graduation ceremony. I'm not going to worry about that little detail though. Some of you may remember that Anne of Green Gables later became Mrs. Dr. Blythe. Her domestic help, Susan, often called her "Mrs. Dr. Dear". As far as I'm concerned, I could now take on the title Mrs. Dr. Drew - if I wanted to, that is!

Principles for Courtship

You’ve finally found someone you think might be Mr (or Mrs) Right. What is your courtship supposed to look like? Google courtship and you’ll find a multitude of opinions. Ultimately though, the Bible is our guide. Call it dating, going out, or whatever you like. The point is that as Christians we need to seek God about the way we do things. Here are some principles I believe are relevant and applicable to couples in all kinds of situations . . .

1. Make sure you're both ready to consider marriage. Dating or courtship should only be entered into if both people are considering marriage, and are ready for it. Readiness can be defined as a willingness and ability to take on the responsibilities of marriage. Courtship is a time to seriously consider a lifelong commitment. If this is not the intention, you may be toying with the emotions and future of a sister or brother in Christ.

2. Seek out godly counsel. Listen to others, especially parents. My father is not a Christian and did not take an active role in setting standards for my relationship with Dave. However, I still asked him for his thoughts about Dave. I have heard many stories of people who ignored their parents’ warnings and came to grief. Unless parents’ views stem from selfishness or unbiblical ideas, they should be treated with the utmost gravity. If parents are not available to give counsel, seek out the advice of pastors and others. Dave and I asked the advice of friends and pastors as well as parents.

3. Honesty is essential in a courtship if both people are to get to know each other. There should be no pretence, and if possible it is good to see each other in a variety of situations.

4. Set clear standards with regard to physical contact. Dave and I are enormously grateful for our decision not to even kiss before marriage. You might not make that call, but other clear boundaries will be necessary if purity is to be maintained (unless you are unnaturally self controlled)!

5. Decide on a time frame. If you’ve decided on what you’re looking for, and you have godly counsel, it shouldn’t take years to decide whether or not to marry. If there is still uncertainty after the time frame you decided on, take a break to consider what God wants. Don’t tie someone up for years with no long-term commitment, especially if you’re not 22. It is not smart or loving.

6. Don't expect things to be perfect. Some people seem to think that if they can only hit on the right method of courtship, it will all be beautiful. They think that they'll be able to avoid hurts. However, our sin and frailties always make relationships risky.

Personally, Dave and I found courtship difficult at times. It was hard to define what our relationship was, and hard to keep saying “if” about our future. Conservative Christian ideas about courtship often focus on ideas such as “emotional purity” and withholding your heart prior to engagement. I found myself feeling guilty for loving Dave. In the end I realised that while remaining emotionally detached might be a good idea, it would require support and help from parents and friends who agreed with this viewpoint. In the points I’ve listed above, I’ve deliberately avoided recommendations that rely upon being part of a distinctive community or family.

How picky is too picky?

Earlier this month I wrote about how convictions should impinge upon courtship decision making. The hard part is knowing which things really matter. Back in 2006, I wrote:

As well as personal convictions that are so strong they are faily non-negotiable, most of us have preferences about what we'd like. Some people love going on long hikes, and really want someone to do that with. If so, someone like me with a serious back problem is not going to be ideal for them. I have some preferences related to children. I'd like to have at least four kids (biological or adopted), and I'd like to adopt at least one child from another country. However, these preferences are not on the same level as convictions. The events of life itself could dictate that preferences do not occur, even if both the husband and the wife are in agreement.

Looking back on this, I realise that some things I'd considered preferences are actually convictions. If I am really honest (rather than trying really hard not to be too picky) I would have struggled enormously with marrying someone who would "prefer" to deliberately have few children. Why? I am actually convicted that this type of preference does not sufficiently take into account the Bible's teaching about children and sexuality.

I don't have any easy answer for how to discern between convictions and preferences. However, a useful guide may be to honestly assess whether or not you believe the Bible speaks to a particular area. If you do, your view is probably a conviction rather than a preference. Hair colour, on the other hand, can be firmly placed in the preference category! Remember also that every person is a work in progress. The person you are considering courting may not be as convicted as you are in a particular area. However, you may grow together. Dave and I have both changed as we've responded one another's viewpoints and experiences.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mr and Mrs Drew

On the weekend we were privileged to have the opportunity to attend Dave's brother Christopher's wedding in Brisbane, Australia.

Miss Kerry-Lee Du Plessis is about to become Mrs Drew! The Du Plessis family moved to Brisbane from South Africa in the 1990s. Kerry's uncle and grandfather performed the marriage service. The reception was held at Kerry's parents' home.

The new Mr and Mrs Drew!

Christopher and Kerry-Lee met when Christopher came to Australia for our wedding, and stopped over in Brisbane on the way to and from Hobart. We had not met any of the Du Plessis family prior to this weekend. They are a warm and close family, and welcomed us into the family with great kindness and hospitality.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Liberated to serve

Soon after coming back from South Africa (and the day before finding out I was pregnant) I wrote this in my journal:

"I felt convicted toward the end of our trip. I realised I'd been in too much of a hurry. I'd wanted everything at once. God's given me a wonderful husband and home. Yet I long for more, as though all good gifts should arrive at once. God is not in a hurry, and I think he wants me to enjoy the journey! I need to set aside some dreams, hopes, and even inner conflicts right now, heeding the voice of the only one who really makes any difference in this world, who commands me to find rest in his care. Our situation of childlessness has been teaching me that in any circumstance our hope should be to serve and glorify our creator. There are no circumstances that exclude Christians from doing those things. Christians can serve and glorify God in Afghanistan, South Africa, America, and Australia, in childlessness, small families, and large ones, large homes & tiny flats, marriage & singleness, riches & poverty, old age and childhood under godly governments and evil ones."

I am sure that God had taught me this lesson before. Yet he used particular sets of circumstances to remind me again, even more powerfully than before. This lesson has been a help to me in recent times of sickness. I should not be wishing to hurry past this season, but rather should take comfort and strength from the fact that I can serve and glorify God right now. I've felt quite liberated as I've realised that circumstances and location really don't matter. We can respond rightly to God, and serve Him, no matter what is going on in our lives.

Praising the Lord in the Morning

Before we went to South Africa, I listened to a Nancy Campbell message about what our homes should be like. As women we have a lot of power over the atmosphere and activities of our homes! God has many purposes for our homes. One of those purposes is that our homes should be places of praise and joy.

This was a challenge to me. Joy is one area where I know my home can be lacking. I generally manage to keep it relatively clean and neat, and make it a welcoming place. I used to cook meals regularly, and I even have a garden. These were all ideas that Nancy encouraged. But I'm not sure my home is a place of joy and continual praise.

While we were in South Africa, I decided that when we arrived home I would begin each day by getting up and singing to the Lord. Whether it be with a CD or from memory or with my hymn folder, I wanted to start the day this way and set the atmosphere and the focus for it. I wanted to begin creating this atmosphere for any children God gave us, because I want them to be praising people.

On the many days when I have done this it has been a wonderful way to start the day. I am reminded of God's character, of the things He has done, and of all the blessings that we have as a result. I hope that this also helps the rest of the day to be one of focus upon Him.

Here is one of my favourite hymns, which seems to sum up the journey of my life so far and of everyday life with Jesus:

I heard the voice of Jesus say come unto me and rest
Lay down thou weary one lay down, thy head upon my breast.
I came to Jesus as I was, weary and worn and sad.
I found in Him my resting place and He has made me glad.

I heard the voice of Jesus say behold I feely give,
The living water thirsty one, toop down, and drink, and live.
I came to Jesus and I drank of that life giving stream,
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, and now I live in Him.

I heard the voice of Jesus say, I am this dark world's light.
Look unto me, thy dawn shall rise, and all thy days be bright.
I came to Jesus and I found in Him my star, my sun.
And in that light of life I'll walk till trav'ling days are done.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Co-labourers in taking dominion

This post is a continuation of the courtship series I began two months ago.

There is more to looking for Mr (or Mrs) Right than considering the traits of a godly man or woman, and paying particular attention to humility. Although I believe these are the first things it is important to consider, there are others that are also relevant. Husbands and wives are called to be co-labourers in taking dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:26 - 28). This is the Creation Mandate, and it is part of what it means to glorify God on the earth. This charge includes creating culture, and the hard work of child rearing. Married couples are to work together in their homes and in society, to do these and other things.

What does this mean in practice for those thinking about marriage? For me, one thing it means is that you must look for a life partner whom you can be in agreement with on matters that are important to you. How can you work together if you are opposed? Most of us have some personal theological or practical convictions that are strong, and impinge on how we choose to live. These will vary from person to person. I made clear decisions about these before courting Dave, and decided which of them were no compromise zones. Here is what I wrote about this before Dave and I were an item:

I see a belief that the Genesis account is literal history as foundational to my faith. The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is also important to me. I would not consider marrying someone who did not share these beliefs. I also have strong beliefs against hormonal birth control, due to my research on this matter . . . Therefore, I would not want to marry someone who wanted me to use this type of birth control. I could list a few other things, but I’m sure you get the gist! If I knew, for example, that a person was a theistic evolutionist I would not even considering going out with them. It would not matter how much I personally liked them.
I wondered if I would ever meet someone who actually believed Genesis was history and who would really let me choose not to take the Pill. It turns out that God gave me a man who sees Genesis as foundational to the Christian faith and has even led our local Creation Ministries International support group meeting a couple of times! My husband will not only "permit" me to ditch the idea of hormonal birth control, he's also just as excited as me about welcoming children into our home. Wow! Can you imagine? I still shake my head and wonder if it is possible at times!

I share this in the hope that it will encourage you, too, to hope and to wait for the person whom you can really labour with in the Lord. I'm not advocating pickiness ("oh, I just have to have a man who pulls out my chair for me"). Form your no-compromise list with much prayer and consideration of whether these things are truly important. If you really feel passionate about something, and feel it is integral to who you are as a person and to your faith, you should ask God for someone who also shares that conviction. You will be able to work better together, and you will be happier for it.