Tuesday, April 29, 2008

How to Minister to Single Women

I'm dipping in and out of Elyse Fitzpatrick & Carol Cornish's book, Women Helping Women: A Biblical Guide to the Major Issues Women Face. It's a tome of superb advice and I'm appreciating the learning. One of the chapters I was keen to read first was on women and their singleness. As someone who struggled with my own singleness before I got married, I'm very keen to learn how I can encourage single women in my church. Fitzpatrick & Cornish have a few ideas, so if you are a married person and want to know how practically you can minister to the single ladies in your church here are 10 of their top tips.

1. Be a mentor

2. Adopt a single woman

3. Offer to be available to help in case a problem arises

4. Pick a single woman to encourage

5. Choose friends of all ages and positions in life, including single women

6. Ask a gody single woman to become involved with your teenagers (or in my case, my babies!)

7. Choose a single woman to pray for throughout the week

8. Offer to host dinners or other social events for the singles in your church

9. Start a single woman's group to study the biblical view of singleness

10. Help a woman build godly brother/sister relationships

If you have any other helpful tips on how you minister to single women, or if you are single and can offer some insight I'd appreciate the wisdom.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Contentment at Home or Away

Being apart for the gospel is something that God is graciously using to teach me a lot about my sinful self and my need of Him these days. I'm continually challenged in my attitude and actions when my husband requires an extra evening to work or takes a few days away on a ministry trip. For some this might not seem like too much of a sacrifice, but for my husband and I, we have always worked closely together and rarely been apart - we met at bible college and studied together while dating and on into our first two years of marriage. Being apart is relatively new for both of us. To go from being in each others pockets (and loving it) to spending more time apart than together was not something we really prepared for. It was not something we gave any thought to.

Therefore, I'm always on the lookout for some helpful advice and godly examples to whom I can turn and be encouraged. I have this little book which I pick up from time to time which provides me with encouragement from God's Word and reassurance from ministry wives who have been there. Lisa Ryken has a short thought on being content whether your husband is at home or away. Readign words such as these not only bring rebuke, but comfort knowing that even the godliest women we know have been there. She writes:

My mother, a very godly woman, gave me wonderful advice when she said, "be content when he is at home and be content when he is away." This is an echo of Paul's exhortation in Philippians 4:11 to be content "whatever the circumstances." It's easy to become resentful and angry and then bitter with your husband - and with God - because of his work. When he has to make a hospital call or conduct an unexpected funeral, or when his sermon preparation takes longer than usual, do I respond with cheerful contentment or with grudging tolerance? One of my jobs as my husband's helper is to encourage him in his work.

What do I say to our children when they ask, "Where's Daddy?" My attitude usually determines how my children respond. If I'm angry about my husband's Saturday morning meeting, then my children are sure to be angry that Daddy can't be home to play with them. To be a godly mother and role model I need to respond to my children cheerfully. Instead of getting upset that my husband needs to go back to the office, I must pray that his work will be productive and joyful. This helps me to be content, to have a godly attitude, and to love my husband and his work.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Courage under adversity

As you will know if you read this blog, from time to time we look to women from the past to see what we can learn from their example. I've recently been reading a book written in 1884 (I do read modern books too!) called Annals of the Disruption. This is a detailed account of the Disruption of the Church of Scotland which occured in 1843 and resulted in the formation of the Free Church of Scotland. You can find out more about this here, but briefly summarised, the Disruption was the breaking away of a group of ministers from the established Church of Scotland. The reasons for this were centred around the headship of the church, with those breaking away fighting for Christ to be given his true place at the head of the church.

Breaking from the established Church of Scotland had great consequences for those ministers involved as they forfeited their salaries, church buildings and the manses they lived in. One minister's wife from the time, Mrs Parker of Lesmahagow wrote of the difficulties faced by the ministers' families, and her own situation:
So far as I can judge,...the Church in her present struggles is doing no more than her duty to her great Head;...No one values more than I do my present comforts, and few are less qualified for making sacrifices and enduring hardships, and sometimes my very heart is sore when I look at my dear children; but I trust that God in His providence may prepare a place for us - a sphere of duty where my dearest husband may exercise those gifts with which God has endowed him.

Although our circumstances are probably not so dramatic today, still God can call us out of comfort and into hardship. I pray that, like Mrs Parker, we can trust our future to God's guiding hand, where ever he may lead.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Radical Heavenly Mindedness!

Over the past week I've been keeping an eye on the various talks given at the Together for the Gospel Conference. While ironing yesterday I listened to John Piper's address: How the Supremacy of Christ Creates Radical Christian Sacrifice.

As usual, Piper really messes with your soul in this talk, stripping back all that we hold dear in this life and challenging us to live risk-taking sacrificial lives for Christ. Speaking from various texts in Hebrews, Piper looks at why the early Christians joyfully accepted the plundering of their property as they risked visiting their brothers and sisters in prison. He asks: "What created this lifestyle of risk by visiting other Christians in prison?" He answers: "It was their amazing emotional persuasion that what they were about to inherit in the great reward was so superior in its value that it made the loss of their present possessions as nothing to them... they knew they had an abiding possession - it was profound heavenly mindedness concerning the infinite value of this great reward."

I believe he was exactly right when he went on to challenge those of us who have bought into the argument that to be so heavenly minded means that we are no earthly good. For these early believers, their focus was on the great reward, they were so heavenly minded that their witness was of supreme good on earth. To be radically heavenly minded means we are truly free from this world. We don't care about taking risks for Christ. We gladly sacrifice all that we have for his glory.

There was so much in this talk! I haven't even begun to relay Piper's exposition of the "great reward" - for this you need to take time to listen here!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Apart for the Gospel

Perhaps many of you will resonate with this article when your spouse has the opportunity to attend a Christian conference, or even his pastoral work takes him away from home for a few days. Often, in my own experience I struggle when my husband heads off for the weekend with work, or takes some time away to attend a pastor's retreat or conference. I pretty much, all of the time, get quite negative, withdraw into myself and begin to feel the weight of being home with three kids on my own.

Although I know that my husband and others are profiting immensely from their time away, sadly I'm not focused on seeing this as a time of potential for gospel living and growing while we're apart. Unfortunately I'll all too often find myself battling resentment, that yet again it's not my chance to get away. Apart for the Gospel reminded me that in times like these, this is my opportunity to show forth the gospel in a unique way.

HT: Girltalk

Monday, April 14, 2008

For the Love of God

Recently we've been learning a couple of new songs at church written by Don Carson and set to music by Rob Smith. Lyrically, as well as musically, I thoroughly enjoyed both pieces and decided to buy for my husband (and friend) the CD for their respective birthdays.

Both my husband and I are thoroughly enjoying For the Love of God - New Songs for the People of God Volume Two. We especially appreciate Carson's lyrics which are theologically solid and saturated with Scripture. Moreover, the songs are particularly written for use in church and would certainly enhance any congregational worship in my estimation. So, if you, or your church music leaders are interested in learning a few new songs, full of meaning and easy for the congregation to sing to, this CD is well worth purchasing.

You can go here to order the CD and here to have a sneaky listen to first! Personally, my favourites are For the Love of God, Pour Out Your Grace, Astounding Grace & On that Wretched Day.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

From the Valley of Vision

Thou art my good in times of peace,
my only support in days of trouble,
my one sufficiency when life shall end.
Help me to see how good thy will is in all,
and even when it crosses mine
teach me to be pleased with it.
Grant me to feel thee in fire, and food and every providence,
and to see that thy many gifts and creatures
are but thy hands and fingers taking hold of me.

From "The All-good", Valley of Vision

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Provoking Our Children

I found this post over at Pulpit Magazine interesting. It explores Paul's command in Ephesians 6:4, "do not provoke your children." As MacArthur says;
To “provoke . . . to anger” suggests a repeated, ongoing pattern of treatment that gradually builds up a deep–seated anger and resentment that boils over in outward hostility.
He then goes on to list 8 ways in which we can provoke our children. I'll list them briefly, but do go to the article to read further.

1. Overprotection
2. Favouritism
3. Pushing for achievement
4. Discouragment
5. Failing to sacrifice for your children
6. Failing to let children grow up at their own pace
7. Using love as a tool of reward or punishment
8. Physical and verbal abuse

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Guidelines for Dating

Lydia at the Purple Cellar shares some guidlines for dating taken and paraphrased from Rick and Sharon Phillips' book, Holding Hands, Holding Hearts: Recovering a Biblical View of Christian Dating.

Here's the list for girls:
1) A godly woman should allow the man to initiate the relationship. This does not mean that she does nothing. She helps! If she thinks there is a good possibility for a relationship, she puts him at east and encourages him as opportunities arise.

2) A godly woman should speak positively and respectfully about her boyfriend in his presence and absence.

3) A godly woman should give honest attention to his interests.

4) A godly woman should recognize the sexual temptations with which a single man will normally struggle and will avoid potentially compromising situations.

5) A godly woman will build up the man with God's Word and give encouragement to godly leadership. She should allow and seek biblical encouragement from the man she is dating.

6) A godly woman will make "helping" and "respecting" the watchwords of her behavior toward a man.

7). A godly woman will remember that the man is her brother in the Lord. She should not be afraid to end an unhealthy relationship but should seek to do so with charity and grace.
And for guys:

1) Commit to take the lead in the godliness of your relationship.

2) Decide before starting the relationship if you are willing to love a woman in the self-sacrificing, nurturing way the Bible describes.

3) Seek out her interests and spend time doing them with her.

4) Be willing to talk about the relationship. In fact, be the one to initiate honest dialog about it.

5) Pay attention to the cares and burdens of her heart. Be supportive rather than critical.

6) Do not be shy in ministering the Word to her. Do not preach, but exhort.

7) If something about her bothers you, seek to encourage her in that

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Holiday Breaks?

I'm just back from enjoying a week's break with the family and friends up in the north of Scotland. It's our first holiday away for over a year (due to Grace's birth and a house move) and so we were well overdue some getaway time. Our time away was enhanced by good company, great conversation, beautiful scenery, marvellous food and some gorgeous walks to compensate for the amount of marvellous food we consumed. Despite all of us enduring a tummy and sick bug, we had a well worthwhile break.

My husband and I tend to do alot of thinking and processing of 'stuff' when we're away together, and like him, my experience of going away on holiday can be a challenging time also. Despite benefitting from being away, there are times when I feel that holidays don't do for me what they should. Colin jotted down a few thoughts on why a Pastor struggles to relax on holiday, but here are a few things which, as a wife and mother of 3, I find myself battling against. Do any of these things resonate with you? If so, what do you do to overcome them?

1. The pre-holiday washing, ironing and packing of clothes as well as organinsing the other 101 things you need to take with you can not only be very draining but stresses me out no end and makes me horribly irritable.

2. On the way there is a sense of relief and anticipation, though regret at the state in which you left the house and the things that you forgot to bring.

3. The need to bring structure (because that's how it is) to what should be an easy-going unstructured time away.

4. Continuing with the mundane tasks of feeding, bathing, cleaning up after the children and generally feeling that you aren't really getting a break at all.

5. Frustrated with knowing that your husband is also struggling to relax.

6. Frustrated that the kid's behaviour is worse than usual.

7. Frustrated that someone, if not more than one, fall ill.

8. Wondering what's happening back at home with church, family and friends.

9. Dreading the holiday ending, knowing that your husband will be going back to work.

10. Feeling the need to get back to normal and almost wishing you were back home.

11. Dreading going home to the pigsty that you left.

12. The prospect of a suitcase load of washing and ironing.

13. Coming home just as tired as you left.

I would add, that on this holiday we stayed with friends who more than helped with entertaining the kids, cooking and washing. In addition, my parents popped round to our house while we were away and did some necessary cleaning for us - a great surprise when we arrived home!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Lime Cream Pie

As we are thinking about hospitality, here is a recipe for a very easy and extremely yummy dessert (although don't count up the calories!). My mother-in-law makes this and she got the recipe from one of her friends so I don't know who the original source is. I usually make it the evening before we have someone over for lunch or dinner.

Lime Cream Pie

Base 8oz crushed ginger biscuits.
3oz melted butter.

Filling 1 can full cream condensed milk (400g).
200g full fat soft cream cheese ( Philadelphia or the like)
150ml half fat crème fraiche
3 juicy limes - grated zest and juice.

  1. For the base, mix together the biscuits and butter and press into greased flan dish. Chill well.
  2. Beat together the condensed milk and cream cheese until smooth ( I use an electric whisk).
  3. Add the lime zest and juice. Fold in the crème fraiche. Pour over the base and chill overnight.
  4. Decorate with grated chocolate.
The filling freezes well, but the base is best made not more than 24hrs beforehand.