Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Discerning What Pleases God

This past week, John Piper, among others, has been speaking at the New Attitude conference on the theme of discernment. I am particularly looking forward to downloading the following talks on discerning what pleases God.

All the other talks have been made available courtesy of Sovereign Grace Ministries here. So check out such talks like discerning your doctrine, your culture, the gray matters and know how to apply!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

To Live Again - Catherine Marshall

It’s sometimes surprising to discover, or in my case rediscover, an old book which speaks so clearly into our own times. At the moment I’m re-reading a copy of Catherine Marshall’s book "To live again" and have been struck by the appropriateness of a quote from one of her husband Peter’s sermons.

Peter Marshall, a young Scotsman who became chaplain of the U.S. senate, had an outstanding preaching ministry, which was cut short when he died at the age of 46. His widow Catherine subsequently put together a book of his sermons entitled "Mr Jones, Meet the Master". Catherine quotes from one of his most popular sermons, ‘Keepers of the Springs’;

The emancipation of womanhood began with Christianity and ends with Christianity…When women in this country achieved equality with men, it was accomplished only by stepping down from the pedestal on which Christianity, chivalry, and idealism had placed her… So she copied the vices of men – in the name of progress! It is not progress to go down in a downward direction. It is not progress to lower and to lose ideals!

No woman ever became lovelier by losing her essential femininity... America needs young women who will build true homes, whether they live in two rooms – or ten… whether starched white organdie curtains hang at the windows – or silk damask...We need homes where harassed husbands may find peace, understanding, refreshment of body and soul…Where children may find the warmth of love…Where friends may find hospitality, graciousness and joy.

Only out of such homes will go men with strength and courage to …build a new and better world. To make such homes is, therefore, any woman’s supreme contribution to her country and to her generation.

At times when we hear reports of young women falling into binge-drinking and other kinds of behaviour, which have usually been the territory of men, this is a timely reminder that compromising our God-given femininity is not for anyone’s benefit. Peter’s words speak volumes to today’s society, where the role of wife, mother and homemaker has become desperately under-valued. Many women, whether temporarily at home with children, or permanently so by choice, can find it hard to admit that they are not out in the workplace, with a job title, bringing home wages. Yet Catherine Marshall sums up her view like this;

There might well have been some conflict between Peter and me over his strong views on the role of women in marriage, had I not discovered early in our life together that putting these ideas into practice brought me joy and satisfaction at a deep level. Such non-feminist ideas meant that I was single-minded in the marriage relationship. I was not a divided personality, and no effort was made to channel any part of it in other directions. Nor was any of this hardship or a sacrifice…For I was discovering for myself during those years the profound truth of that ancient and inexorable law that “he who loseth his life shall find it”.

By celebrating and living out our God-given femininity, we are serving “the Master” in a way that pleases him and brings help and healing to a hurting world. Girls – let’s not be scared to be different!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Redeeming the Time

Just a quick recommendation of a useful resource. Few of us may get the opportunity to study at bible college or seminary, but every Christian can benefit from the sort of teaching provided there. One way we can achieve this is using the otherwise "dead time" while we drive to work, make dinner or clean the house. An excellent resource to help us do this is the Biblical Training website which has a range of talks available for download from lay to seminary level.

I'm working my way through the New Testament Survey which is taught by Dr Bill Mounce and I can highly recommend it.

Monday, May 21, 2007

A Steadfast Heart

I've recently been reading a book by Elyse Fitzpatrick called A Steadfast Heart: Experiencing God's Comfort in Life's Storms. There are several good books out there on the topic of suffering and the Christian, but where this one stands out is that it is very pastoral and devotional rather the theological (although there is plenty of good theology in it too!). Also, it is specifically aimed at women.

The author has gone through a number of difficult trials over recent years and during that time her pastor preached on Psalm 57, giving her the idea for this book. This Psalm was written by David while he was in the cave, fleeing from Saul and the book walks us through this Psalm, pointing out the relevance to our lives today in the difficulties we face.

This is not a book of glib platitudes or quick-fixes but instead, it points us consistently to the cross and God's gracious, sovereign purposes:
In our trials, it's important for us to remember that everything we have was purchased for us by a merciful and loving Saviour. He was forsaken so that we would not be. He was punished so that we could be set free. The assurance that we have in the midst of our storm is that God's ear is always open to our cry and that He's not punishing us for our sins but rather has poured out every drop of His just wrath on His innocent Son.

Yes, we are suffering, but our suffering is not judgement for our sin, will not be eternal and is something we don't walk through alone. It is true that there are times when we reap the consequences of our sin, but even in this reaping, we are not being punished by God. He does discipline us, but His discipline is always redemptive and remedial, never punitive. He does correct us for our good and out of love, but if we're in His Son, we'll never know His eternal judgement and displeasure. He's with us even in our failures and is using them to benefit our soul and cause us to love the cross more and more.
The book also comes with a CD containing readings and songs, one of which was written specially. It is also a treasure trove of helpful quotes and poems. Each chapter ends with five or six questions for personal reflection.

I highly recommend this book, especially if you are going through a difficult trial. You can find out more about the author in an interview she gave over at The Purple Cellar (part one and part two).

Friday, May 18, 2007

Epidural Anyone?

In the next few weeks we anticipate the arrival of baby Adams #3. With this being our third child I'm really only getting round to thinking about preparing things now, and contemplating what childbirth will be like again.

On that note I was interested to come across a long comment thread over at Amy's Humble Musings on whether or not to have an epidural! If this is something that interests you head on over and check out the discussion here. It seems to be a hot topic over the pond given that Amy herself has yet to give her views on the subject!

For those of you who want to know, both Catriona and I would both concur, "epidurals all the way!" Having experienced birth once with and the other without I know what tack I'm taking the third time around!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Christian Biographies Part 2

So, what biographies have you been reading lately? Here's a list of some of your favorites. I have read some, but not all. I pray that this list may be of Godward encouragment to you and inspire you to get those books bought, ready for the summer! Follow the links and check out the book descriptions and reviews.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Joni on Marriage

Most of you will have heard of Joni Eareckson Tada, writer, singer, artist, world renown speaker and founder of an international ministry, Joni and Friends. Recently in a radio interview with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, she was asked: "What's the most important thing you do?" Her answer did not reflect any of the above, but:
Taking care of my husband. He is the most important person in my life. God puts people in the sphere of our influence all around us: our neighbors, our friends, people in our community. If we are invited to go speak somewhere, sure those are individuals in the audience. But that individual behind closed doors that you’re at home with, whether it’s—well, my husband, of course, but the children, perhaps that’s some of our listeners, mothers, their husbands, the family circle. The people in that sphere of influence—they are the most important individuals. And for me certainly that is my husband, Ken.

We’re coming up on 25 years of marriage. He indeed is the most important person in my life. If it doesn’t work with him, if my testimony is not living out with him, if I cannot be clear and transparent with him behind closed doors, then I better not be going out and speaking anywhere, saying anything that doesn’t first work at home.

Let me encourage you to read the rest of the interview here, full of humour, serious, practical, inspiring and of course, has all the ingredients of a good love story!

(HT: Solo Femininity)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Stay At Home Mum's

This report from Reuters brought a smile to my face today...
If the typical stay-at-home mother in the United States were paid for her work as a housekeeper, cook and psychologist among other roles, she would earn $138,095 a year, according to research released on Wednesday.

The 10 jobs listed as comprising a mother's work were housekeeper, cook, day care center teacher, laundry machine operator, van driver, facilities manager, janitor, computer operator, chief executive officer and psychologist, it said.

The typical mother puts in a 92-hour work week, it said, working 40 hours at base pay and 52 hours overtime.

I wonder what we'd earn if they actually took into account the more than 10 jobs stay-at-home mum's do!

(HT: Justin Taylor)