Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cathy on boys and chores

You might remember my question about chores a couple of weeks ago. Today I'd like to share one of the responses I received from Cathy, of The Best Book Co-op, about how she and her husband train their son. Here's what she says:

With our four year old boy, Winton, my husband spent a bit of time memorising various Proverbs with him about diligence vs. laziness. This has given us a "language" in our household for getting work done. Winton is really excited to have any opportunity to "do diligent hands". Even his pretend play has become about doing hard work.

Steve has also been really conscious of training him in masculinity. A big part of which is that hard work is a good thing that he was created for as one of God's image bearers.

Everyday there is positive talk about taking responsibility, working hard, protecting girls and people who are not as strong as he is, serving others etc. He is enjoying learning to be a man.

We have been trying to focus on a demeanour that welcomes hard work in lots of environments (including pack up at church - which is a favourite!), rather than a list of jobs.

We are going to start an allowance (after listening to a John Piper talk on money), not as a reward for doing jobs, but as training in stewardship.

As our family grows, I am sure it will become more structured.

I am looking forward to hearing what people say about training girls!!
I was particularly challenged by Cathy's encouragement to teach kids the why as well as the what of chores, and by her suggestions about training boys to care for women.

And I agree - I'd love to hear your ideas about training girls - or boys!

image is from stock.xchng

Monday, March 30, 2009

Proverbs (5) the good path

I love to think of the Christian life as a path. I don't mean a vague "spiritual journey" -"You have your journey, I have mine" - but God's straight and narrow way (Matt 7:13-14), like the path of Christian in Pilgrim's Progress.

It's a path with steep hills to climb and deep valleys to traverse and lovely, still places beside quiet waters. It's a path with wrong turns into easier ways on either side. It's a path which leads to a golden city, our true home.

The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day. (Prov 4:18)
How wonderful if life could be like that: an ever-brightening path to glory!

In Proverbs 2 & 4, we get to eavesdrop as a wise father tells his son how to live a life like that. He tells his son to keep to the good path, the "way of wisdom". Like a well-maintained highway, the good path is straight, level, firm and bright. If you walk here, you won't stumble, and you'll be protected and guarded from harm (2:9-11, 4:11-12, 18, 26).

Branching off to either side are two crooked paths (2:12-19). One is the the way of evil companions (2:12-15, 4:12-19), and the other the way of the adulterous or promiscuous woman (2:16-19). These paths look attractive, but the father's warning is clear: they end in disaster and death!

Why, out of all the possible crooked paths, does the father go on and on about these two? Nearly a third of Proverbs 1-9 is about the adulterous or promiscuous woman (2:16-19, 5, 6:20-7:27)! And evil companions aren't far behind (2:16-19, 5, 6:20-7:27). There's also a section on sluggards and assorted fools (6:1-19).

I guess it's because Proverbs was originally written for young men. The most dangerous decisions a young man can make are to join the wrong crowd (drugs, drunkeness, violence) and to engage in loose sexual relationships. Some young men become sluggards, lying around all day, sponging off their parents. We all know young men on these crooked paths.

What are the crooked paths for young women? A longing for romantic love lures many into a relationship with a non-Christian boyfriend. Others put their hope in the security of a nice house in a nice suburb with nice clothes and nice possessions. These are the ones our Bible study came up with - can you think of others?

So how do we stay on the "good path"? Thankfully, we're given very specific advice (4:23-27):

  • above all else, guard your hearts - turn from the lies of the world to God's truth, and from sinful desires to valuing him as our highest treasure (1 Chron 29:18, Prov 4:20-21, Ps 119:11, Matt 6:21, 15:16-19)
  • banish corrupt talk from your lips - keep a close watch on this most perilous of all body parts (Jam 3:1-12)
  • fix your eyes straight ahead - fill your thoughts and affections with Jesus and heaven, rather than the pleasures of this world (Col 3:1-4, Heb 12:1-3)
  • keep your feet on the straight path - refuse to stray to right or left, even for a moment, however great the temptation (Heb 12:7-13)
May we be those who keep to the good path!

images are from stock.xchng

Saturday, March 28, 2009

when Lizzy went to camp

"I wish Lizzy would go to camp so we can have jelly cups!" Lizzy was about to go away, and Thomas was looking forward to the treat I'd promised him. "So what do you like more, having Lizzy at home or having jelly cups?" "Jelly cups!"

Last Monday, early in the morning while it was still dark, I drove Lizzy to school for an 8 hour bus trip to Our Nation's Capital (doesn't sound quite the same in Australian, does it?!). She spent 5 days in Canberra on school camp this week. She's only 10, and it's the longest she's been away from home.

It was an exercise in trust for me.

Elizabeth was staying with 4 other girls in a motel room - locked, but opening to the outside. The room had a TV in it. The motel had no plans to supply her with gluten free food, so I had to send an esky full of food with her (I know more about gluten free convenience meals than I ever wanted to!).

I watched the bus driver push the old, battered green esky into a dark corner of the luggage bay with trepidation. (What if he doesn't remember to take it off at the other end? Will the chef provide her with gluten free food? Will the teacher who's supposed to make her meals take good care of her?)

I looked at her empty bed each night - actually, I stopped looking, since every time I saw her vacant room my heart fell with a jolt into my shoes - and hoped that she was safe. (What if something goes wrong during the night? What if she's wandering around in the dark looking for a teacher? What if there's an intruder?)

I felt nervous and on edge all week, my head brimming with questions. (Did I pack enough warm clothes? What if the girls watch something unsuitable on TV? What if she feels exhausted and achy like she so often does from her coeliac disease?)

"Where is she? I miss she. I want she at home." That was Thomas' perspective half way through the week.

On the school website there were cheery updates, reassuring photos of a warm and well-fed Lizzy, and a quote from "Elizabeth" (I found out later that it was invented by a teacher, and all she said was "it was okay"!) about the trip to Parliament House: "We were very lucky to have our Federal Member of Parliament take us on a guided tour. We went to the Speakers Office which was very exciting and then we walked past Kevin Rudd’s office". Ok, so it didn't tell me much, but it was something.

I prayed every day for physical, spiritual and emotional protection for Elizabeth.

But mostly, I reminded myself that when Elizabeth is away from us, she's not alone. We've been learning Psalm 23 together, so she took that away with her, tucked into her mind. She and I both know that the Good Shepherd is watching over her, through green pastures and dark valleys, filling her life with goodness and mercy.

One day there will be a much bigger separation: the day she leaves home. If she gets married, there will also be the day she puts her hand in her husband's, and leaves our family to start a new one. This was just a practice session.

On that day, I hope I can let her go with trust and joy, knowing that she is safe in the father hands of God.

Elizabeth had a fantastic time, and was safe, warm, and reasonably(!) well fed. The empty space in our house is full again, although she somehow seems taller than when she left, 5 days ago. And Thomas' final words? "I'm glad to have she home. I'm sad when she was away."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spurgeon, Welch, Adams & Bridges speak about "the fear of the LORD"

You'll remember that on Monday, I began my definition of "the fear of the LORD" like this:

To fear the LORD is to submit to him as the one true God, with trust, love, worship, honour, service and obedience..
You might be wondering what all this has got to do with "fear", and fair enough. I'll try to answer that question soon.

In the meantime, I thought you might like to know that I'm not alone in defining "the fear of the LORD" like this. Here are some great theologians who say things along the same lines.

Dr. Jay Adams defines the fear of God as “loving and respectful obedience toward Him” (cited by Elyse Fitzpatrick in Overcoming Fear, Worry and Anxiety p. 145).

Charles Spurgeon says, in his sermon Godly fear and its godly consequences,

What is this fear of the Lord? The expression is used in Scripture for all true godliness. It is constantly the short way of expressing real faith, hope, love, holiness of living, and every grace which makes up true godliness.
Dr. Ed Welch, in his very helpful book When People are Big and God is Small, writes

This fear of the Lord means reverent submission that leads to obedience, and it is interchangeable with 'worship', 'rely on', 'trust', and 'hope in' (p. 19).
Like Spurgeon, he goes on to say lots about the attitude of "fear" - but we'll leave that until next week!

And Jerry Bridges, in a fantastic interview with Peter Hastie about The Fear of God which didn't quite make it into The Briefing, says:

Deuteronomy 10:12 links fear, love and obedience together. Moses says to the Israelites: “What does the Lord ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, and to serve the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul?” He brings those three terms—to fear God, to love Him and to serve Him all together in the one passage. And the way the terms are used, it's almost as though they are interchangeable expressions.
Jerry Bridges, by the way, wrote a whole wonderful book called The Joy of Fearing God. It's well worth reading if you want to know about "the fear of the LORD", or if you simply want a bigger, more awe-inspiring view of God.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

dieting and gluttony (8) gluttony and selfishness

Okay, I already know this is going to be an excruciatingly embarrassing post to write. But since I face no temptation which "is not common to man" - and woman (1 Cor 10:13), you might find it helpful, so here goes.

Perfectionist that I am, growing in godliness easily turns into a self-improvement program for me. "The self-help program to end all self-help programs! Become a Christian! Suddenly, you won't just care about murder - you'll care about whether you have angry thoughts (Matt 5:21f )! All the more for you to work on!" It's bizarrely attractive to an introspective perfectionist like me.

One of the problems with this is that issues of godliness (gluttony? spending? pride?) become more about me, and less about love. I can spend hours peering into my guts, working out why I do things, trying to change the way I think and feel. Some of that is useful, some of it isn't. But it's easy for me to neglect "more important matters" like love, justice and mercy (Matt 23:23, Mk 12:33).

When I wrote my blog series on gluttony and dieting, I was fascinated by what I read about idolatry and self-control, because it fed into my self-absorption. But when I read about gluttony and how it destroys social relationships? Well, frankly, I was kind of bored by it, unless it was about me and my family.

Oh, dear. And I've only just begun.


A few weeks ago I became my own illustration of the link between gluttony and selfishness.

It was our monthly dinner night at church, when everyone brings food to share. I always try to take something gluten free for my husband and daughter, so I ordered two gluten free chickens from the local chicken shop. We arrived at church, and I started jointing them (one of the few cooking tasks I love, oddly!) and putting the pieces on a couple of plastic plates.

A man approached. I know he's a man in need, who comes to church for food as well as fellowship. To my shame, I actually moved my precious gluten free chickens away, so they wouldn't disappear before my family were fed. Yes, my family have special dietery needs, but a couple of pieces of chicken wouldn't have been missed.

How often our instantaneous actions reveal what's in our hearts! - in this case, favouritism and a lack of mercy (Jam 2:1-13).


It's time to eat. The food is laid enticingly on the tables. Actually, some of it is more enticing than others. There's a delicious looking curry: not much, that might go soon, better get some! Oh, look, garlic bread: better watch out, that always goes fast!

One thing about having kids (especially a 5 year old who's crying because he's tired, hungry, and he just fell over and hurt himself) is that you have a perfect excuse to go to the front of the queue (and believe me, this is a lo-o-ong queue, the kind you don't want to be at the end of when there's delicious food on offer).

I grab a plastic plate - a pile of plastic plates (I have a lot of kids) - and squeeze my way guiltily into the queue, hoping no-one notices, or that if they do, they think "Caring parent. Hungry kids." I load my kids' plates.

I load my plate. I get the last spoonful of that yummy looking curry, no matter that someone else might like some. Lasagne! How can I miss that? I know my plate is full, but I just have to try it!

I return to the table, less intent on feeding my kids than on my over-full plate. A friend is sitting at the table, but I'm less interested in encouraging her than in hoping she hasn't noticed how much I'm eating.

That night, I wake at 3 pm feeling nauseous, and lie awake for an hour wondering if I poisoned everyone. It turns out to be a nasty virus - nothing to do with the chickens. But it's pretty clearly something to do with God's fatherly discipline (Heb 12:7-11).


In the morning, to my horror, it dawns on me: I'm a Corinthian (1 Cor 11:17-34)! I wasn't drunk at a fellowship meal, but I did treat it as a chance to stuff my face rather than to encourage those who ate with me.

I prioritised protecting our family chicken(!) over caring for someone in real need. I put my own wants and greedy desires over the needs, wants and desires of others. And if I'm sick, like the Corinthians, perhaps it has something to do with my loveless greed.

The link between gluttony and selfishness suddenly becomes excruciatingly clear. When I'm concentrating on what I'm putting in my mouth, I'm not concentrating on encouraging others. Like a pig at the feeding trough, I'm guzzling down as much as I can, rather than making sure others' needs are being met.


Two weeks later, I'm at church again. It's supper-time.

Someone has brought some delicious Asian dumplings. I haven't had dinner, and I'm hungry. There are 4 dumplings left on the plate. I take 1 and eat it. I'm about to take another.

My needy friend approaches. The thought flashes through my mind: should I take a dumpling before he takes them all? This time, the instantaneous decision goes the other way. I watch, rejoicing, as he takes the last 3 dumplings and puts them on his plate.

Love before greed: it's a good feeling.


God doesn't change me so that I can feel better about myself. He doesn't change me so that I can become perfect within, a mirror for my own admiration. True change results in someone who's less self-absorbed, more self-forgetful, focussed on the needs of others. Change is not about self-improvement: it's about love.

Slowly but surely, right in step with God's program for change, I'm becoming more like Jesus: the One who loved good food, but who loved God and people more (Lk 7:34, Jn 2:1-11, Matt 4:1-11).

images are from stock.xchng

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

the big picture

It occurred to me today - that's what happens when you write blog posts in a hurry! - that I left out an important step yesterday, when I told you how I prepare topical series.

You see, God's word isn't an encyclopedia (as I was reminded while I was reading Paul David Tripp's Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands today). You can't pick a topic, any topic, look up all the verses on it, and expect to find an instant answer. Some topics you won't even find in the Bible (career guidance? schizophrenia? home renovation?) so what are you supposed to do when you want to know what God thinks about them?

When you're researching a topic, you always need to think about the big picture of the Bible. And what's the Bible about? It's about the gospel: about how God sent a Rescuer to free us from our rebellion against him and make us his own, so that we can glorify him. It's about Jesus. Every bit of the Old Testament points forward to Jesus, and every bit of the New Testament proclaims his name.

So if all I have is a list of verses, I haven't got very far. I have to think about Jesus. Otherwise, when I'm teaching people about a topic, I'll give them bandaids rather than heal their wounds. I'll look at the surface problem, and provide lots of practical advice and handy hints, but skate over the deep issues: our sinful hearts and our desperate need for a Saviour.

If I'm looking at pride, I need to think about how Jesus humbled himself to die on a cross, so that I can be forgiven and transformed, becoming like him in humility. If I'm looking at "the fear of the LORD", I need to consider how God has drawn near to me in Christ, so that his perfect love drives away cringing fear.

Every topic needs to be put in the context of the Bible, God's unfolding plan of salvation, and the gospel, the story of Jesus, who died and rose again.

I might go back and add another point to yesterday's post, so don't be surprised if you discover an extra point there!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

how I prepare a topical series

I thought you might like to know where I get my ideas from when I write about the fear of the LORD (or pride, or enjoying God, or gluttony). Am I pulling ideas out of a hat? Am I telling you my pet theories? Can you trust what I say?

Here's how I work out what to say when I'm writing on a topic. You might find this process helpful if you're asked to lead a study or give a talk about a topic.

I don't know Greek or Hebrew, and I haven't studied theology except unofficially, so what I do, you can too!! God's word is clear, and it's written for us: you don't need to be an expert to understand it.

My aim is to read the Bible so I can understand God's wisdom and explain it clearly. I pray every step of the way: that God will give me insight into the Bible, that I will believe and obey what I read, and that what I say will be helpful.

Here's the steps I follow:

  • I use BibleGateway, pick a translation (I use NIV because it's familiar, but the ESV is more accurate), and do a keyword search on the relevant words (in this case, I started with "fear"). I print out sheets and sheets of verses!
  • I grab our complete concordance (we have an NIV complete concordance - ESV would probably be better!) and look up the relevant word(s). In this case, it soon becomes clear that it's a particular Hebrew word (yare and related words) and Greek word (phobos and related words) I'm looking for. I turn to the end of the concordance and look at the Hebrew and Greek words, and the different English words used to translate them. (It's not always necessary to look at the Greek and Hebrew, but in this case I'm looking at a particular phrase, "the fear of the LORD".)
  • When it comes to "fear", I discover it's also translated "worship", "revere", "awe", "dread" etc. Now I've got more words to look up on BibleGateway. I print these out too. I take my pages of printed out verses and circle the verses which used the relevant Greek and Hebrew words, using the concordance (this would be a lot easier if I knew Greek and Hebrew, but we work with what we've got!).
  • I read through the circled verses and look for patterns. What's "the fear of the LORD" linked to? Is it defined in any of the verses? Is the word "fear" used in different ways? What blessings are said to flow from it? I read the verses again and again. More questions occur to me.
  • I grab a notebook, write headings e.g. "the blessings of fearing God", and note down ideas ("wisdom", "long life", "honour") underneath with their references.
  • I don't want to take verses out of context, so I pick some of the more significant verses and read them in context. In this case, I did lots of reading of Exodus, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Isaiah, Nehemiah and James, to name a few! My quiet times were far richer as a result.
  • I also want to read my verses in the context of God's saving plan in Jesus. The Bible is the unfolding story of God 's sovereign plan to rescue his people from rebellion through the death and resurrection of his Son (2 Cor 1:20, 1 Cor 15:3-5). So I need to ask myself: how does these verses point me to the gospel? Am I just putting bandaids on wounds, giving a list of principles and projects? Or am I getting to the root of the issue - our sinful hearts - and showing how forgiveness, transformation and healing are available through Jesus' death and resurrection, and the work of his Spirit in our lives, so that we, as God's people, can glorify and enjoy God forever?
  • Now it's starting to come together in my mind. I write down what I'm discovering. My ideas are still very unformed, but I'm beginning to see what "the fear of the LORD" means, and how it might apply to me.
  • I check my conclusions against commentaries, books, and any articles or sermons I can find on line. Do the commentaries shed any light on the difficult passages? What are the main opinions of scholars? Do I agree or disagree, given what I've found in the Bible? Have I got it wrong? Does anyone put it really well? Are there any quotes I can use?
  • Now it's time for writing, rewriting, editing, polishing, trying to make it short and simple, sticking pictures in (that bit's fun!) and sending it out into the wide world for you to read.
As you can see, I'm no expert, just a fellow student of God's word! This is not the only way to prepare a topical series - you could just grab a couple of passages and work from them - but it works for me. I pray that we will be blessed as we look at the Bible together at in all honesty.

images are from stock.xchng

Monday, March 23, 2009

the fear of the LORD (1) the God we fear

Do you remember the young man desperately seeking wisdom, who found instead "the fear of the LORD" (Prov 2:1-6)? As I told you, our Bible study group got a bit stuck at this point, which sent me on my own quest to discover what the "fear of the LORD" means.

I'm going to share what I'm learning about "the fear of the LORD" over 2 or 3 weeks, all going well. Then I'll talk about how "the fear of the LORD" affects me and you.

There's been endless disagreement about what it means to "fear the LORD". Here's some contradictory definitions ("It means this! It certainly doesn’t mean that!"):

1. a general term for the mystical dread we feel in approaching any deity
2. being scared of God
3. reverent awe
4. obeying God
5.trusting God

I can tell you right from the start that I've got problems with no. 1. Whatever else it is, "the fear of the LORD” is not an attitude towards God, any God, but an attitude towards the "LORD". When you open the Bible and see "LORD" in capitols it means "Yahweh", the personal name of the One and Only God.

So "the fear of the LORD” is deeply personal. To "fear the LORD" is to fear the One who made himself known to Moses:

The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob ... This is my name forever ... The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished. (Exod 3:13-15, 34:6-7)
The God we fear is the LORD, the one true God, who created and sustains the universe, speaks through his word, makes himself known through awesome acts of judgement and salvation, and reveals himself ultimately in Jesus.

“The fear of the LORD” is often used as short-hand for following Yahweh as your God (Jon 1:9, Mal 3:16, Rev 11:18 etc). Jonah's calling-card reads, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land” (Jon 1:9). Those who don't follow God, on the other hand, have "no fear of God before their eyes" (Rom 3:18 cf Gen 20:10-11, Ex 9:30). To fear God and obey him is the "whole duty of man" (Ecc 12:13).

Those who "fear the LORD" are those who:

You can use these terms pretty interchangeably - "fear the LORD", "obey the LORD", "love the LORD", "serve the LORD". Here they are, side by side:

And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good? (Deut 10:12-13)
If you're looking for a living example of someone who "fears the LORD", look no further than Jesus, the promised Messiah who "delights in the fear of the LORD" (Isa 11:2-3). Here was one who served his Father joyfully, with every particle of his being.

So we come to the first part of our definition:

To fear the LORD is to submit to him as the one true God, with trust, love, worship, honour, service and obedience.

But our definition isn't yet complete. Why use the word "fear"? Why not "love" or "serve" or "obey"? We'll look at the scary bits next time, and how they relate to the "fear of the LORD".

Friday, March 20, 2009

what's happening on in all honesty

I think it's time to stop and take stock of what's happening on in all honesty. Somehow I've managed to start three series at once: a series on pride, a series on Proverbs, and a related series on the fear of the LORD.

I don't have time most weeks to write on more than one - and I doubt you have time to read more than one long, meaty post! So you can expect me to keep working through them, slowly but surely, this and next term, with a break over Easter.

Next Monday you can expect the first of 3 or 4 posts on "the fear of the LORD", and later in the week I might share our Bible study group's pictorial summary of Proverbs 1-9. Sometime I'd also like to tell you what we learned from Proverbs 2 & 4 about the "good path", and from Proverbs 8 about Jesus and wisdom. So expect some more about Proverbs! You might be waiting a bit longer for some more posts on pride, but they will come in time, God willing.

I'd also like to share a few thoughts on kids and chores in the next week or so, but I'd love to hear from more of you first (thanks to those who've written in already!). I have appreciated your combined wisdom on so many issues in the past, and I'd love to hear your thoughts about training kids to help out around the house. You can comment here, or if you don't like commenting publically, feel free to email me.

With love from Jean at in all honesty!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

giant slayers and storm stillers

I've said it before and I'll say it again, but The Jesus Storybook Bible really is a fantastic Bible for kids. The writing is superb, the pictures wonderful, and every story points kids towards Jesus, who fulfills every bit of God's grand plan of salvation.

I read the story of David and Goliath to 5 year old Thomas last night, and we were both captivated.

We held our combined breaths as we read "His beady, greedy eyes glowered at them hungrily from under his horrible helmet ... And he laughed his terrible laugh." We trembled at the picture of Goliath towering toothily over little David, then lying like a fallen mountain on the ground.

By the end of the story, Thomas had a new childhood hero: David, who was strong and courageous because he trusted in God.

We closed the book, and his eyes fell on the picture on the cover of Jesus asleep in a boat during a storm. "What's happening in that picture, Mummy?", he asked me. "That's the story where Jesus was sleeping in the boat, and there was a terrible storm. Do you remember?"

Thomas responded, "Oh, that's right. And then Jesus stood up and said something REALLY WEIRD!"

Okay, so maybe I need to go and read that story with him again. But it's good to see Thomas becoming captivated by the gripping, wonderful, Jesus-glorifying stories of the Bible.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

a question for you about chores

The other day I praised my kids for cheerfully helping out around the house. (Well, they were cheerful that day, anyway. There's plenty of complaining on other days.)

My son said to me, "You know why we're becoming more cheerful helpers, Mummy? It's because we have more to do now."

In other words, you've given us more chores, so we're more used to them, so we're more cheerful about doing them. Hmmm. I'm not sure his sister would agree.

Steve and I have been thinking a lot about which chores to give our kids to do around the house. Vacuuming their rooms? Unpacking the dishwasher? Weeding? Putting out the rubbish? Cooking? Hanging out clothes? Our kids do bits and pieces of all of these.

Here are some of the questions going through my mind:

Should girls be given different chores to boys?
Should kids get rewards, like pocket money, for doing chores?
Should kids be given a say in which chores they do?
Should kids be given unpleasant chores as well as fun ones?
How do chores help build a child's character?
How do chores prepare kids for independent adulthood?
How do chores train kids for adult roles as men and women?

I'm really interested to hear your reflections on kids and chores. Here's some questions to get you thinking about your own experience:

What did your parents do well when they handed out chores?
If you're a woman, did your mum train you to manage a home? How did she do this?
If you're a man, did your dad train you to care for a home and family? How did he do this?
Do you wish your parents had trained you in ways that they didn't?

If you're a mum or dad, what kinds of chores do you give your kids?
Do you give boys different chores to girls, and why?
How are you training your daughter(s) to manage a home, and your son(s) to care for a home and family?
What are you trying to achieve when you give out chores?

Pick one question, or three or four - I don't mind! - but I'd love to hear what you think about kids and chores.

You can comment here.

image is from stock.xchng

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

from one people-pleaser to another (2)

In yesterday's post I introduced Tamar, who struggles with accepting criticism and dealing with conflict. She finds it hard to express her opinion, because she wants people to like her. I talked about what's happening at the level of Tamar's heart - that she believes people are big and God is small - and how Tamar needs a bigger view of God and his grace. Today I talk about how to give her this bigger view of God, and bring it to the level of her experience.

I can help Tamar get a bigger view of God and his grace simply by opening the Bible with her. I'd probably start with the Psalms, because so many Psalms are written by people who fear others, and who are reminding themselves of the goodness and grace of God.

Tamar will learn heaps from the Psalms. She'll learn that God is great, glorious, good and gracious. She'll be reminded how pointless it is to fear people. She'll be given practical skills like how to preach God's truth to herself. Reading the Psalms with her might be all I need to do to begin to address the issue of people-pleasing!

But that could be very esoteric. How do I bring this to the level of Tamar's experience? How do I help Tamar change how she thinks, feels and behaves?

One helpful thing to do might be to encourage Tamar to become more aware of her thoughts. When she's in a situation where she feels scared of criticism or is trying to please someone, I'd encourage her to notice - perhaps even to write down - exactly what she is thinking at that moment. It might be as simple as "I need people to like me".

I'd try to teach her to replace these thoughts with more helpful ways of thinking: to think God's thoughts after him. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says "we must talk to ourselves instead of allowing ‘ourselves’ to talk to us." Tamar needs to learn to speak God's truth to herself (Jn 8:31-32, Rom 12:1-2, Phil 4:8, Col 3:1-2, Heb 12:2-3).

So instead of "I need people to like me", she might say to herself, "It doesn't matter what people think of me. What matters is what God thinks of me, and he already loves and accepts me because Jesus died for me on the cross." I'd also encourage her to learn some Bible verses to think about when she's tempted to think unhelpful thoughts.

Over time, I know from my experience that this will change how she thinks and even how she feels. It will be a slow process, but God's truth does set us free (Jn 8:31-32).

I would also help her to start changing her behaviour. When we reach out to others in love, it helps us to become less focussed on ourselves and on how other people make us feel. Perhaps I'd give her simple challenges each week:
  1. to serve someone at church in a way she finds scary
  2. to say what she thinks even when it's hard
  3. to ask for feedback when she does something
Sometimes acting out of what we say we believe, even when we don't feel it, can help us to trust God, because we see that he's there for us, and that the world doesn't fall apart, even when we do hard and loving things.

Finally, I'd be praying heaps with and for Tamar, because ultimately only God can change our hearts. We'd repent together of our excessive desires for the approval of others. We'd ask God to help us care more about pleasing him than pleasing people. We'd ask God to give us a bigger view of him and his grace, so that we'd be free not to worry about what people think of us, but to love them.

If I was to work through a book with Tamar (which would be an excellent option!) I'd choose from these (in order of recommendation):
Tim Chester You Can Change - helpful for just about any issue!
Edward T. Welch When People are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man
Lou Priolo Pleasing People: How Not to be an "Approval Junkie"

images are from stock.xchng

Monday, March 16, 2009

from one people-pleaser to another (1)

On Saturday I went to "Building 1-On-1", a mentoring training day for women at Ridley College. I was on a 3-woman panel which addressed specific issues in mentoring. Here's my scenario and the first half of my response (you can expect the rest tomorrow!).

In some ways, this is a worked example of how to apply the principles in Tim Chester's book You Can Change, so if you're reading Nicole's posts on this book, you might enjoy seeing how it applies to a specific situation. I'll start with the scenario I was given:

Head in the sand – Responding when someone ignores the bad things

  1. Tamar hates conflict. She seems to thrive on affirmation from others and consequently, many of her responses and reactions seem to be tailored to please the audience rather than to express her own opinion.
  2. When given any criticism, no matter how constructive, Tamar tries to sidestep the issue while avoiding conflict at all cost. She will often respond by avoiding the relationship until the issue ‘blows over’ or by stopping the friendship rather than considering the validity of the comment.
  3. This has created difficulty in the past as it tends to mean that Tamar doesn’t learn from her mistakes, but rather tries to ignore them. This often limits her personal and spiritual development.
How would you encourage Tamar to accept and evaluate constructive criticism and not to be afraid of conflict?

I’m a little like this myself at times, so at least I can sympathise! It's a tricky one, isn't it? How do you criticise someone for not accepting criticism when they run away from relationships when they're criticised? I don't want to destroy our mentoring relationship before it's begun!

So I'll wait till Tamar feels secure in our relationship before I challenge her about this. When I do talk with her, it won't be in a confrontational way. I'll probably begin by talking about my own struggles in this area. In my experience, when I talk about my struggles, people often say, "Me, too", and that gives me a starting point for addressing their issues.

But if she doesn't acknowledge her problem so easily, there will be a point where I'll have to gently challenge her. I'd probably say something like "I've noticed that you find it difficult to give your opinion or to accept criticism. Is this something you've noticed? Did something happen to make criticism hard for you?"

Which is all very well, but what if Tamar acknowledges that she has an issue with wanting to please people, but she doesn't want to deal with it? I can understand this: it's going to be a long and painful process.

I might need to help her see how it's keeping her from growing in Christ, or how it's stopping her enjoying relationships and loving others. I could share how hard I’ve found it to deal with my own issues, or to accept criticism and deal with conflict, but how much I’ve grown through these things. I might look at some verses which show that God wants to grow us through advice and rebuke (e.g. Prov 15:31, 19:20, 25:12).

Failing all else, perhaps I could encourage her to pray "Lord, I don't want to change, but please make me willing." Only God can help us to want to become more like Christ.

But before I get to the point where Tamar is comfortable enough with me for me to challenge her, there's a lot of groundwork I can do. I can address the underlying issues before I talk about her behaviour.

You see, according to the Bible, all emotions and behaviour come from the heart, our inner self. With our heart, we think and believe; and with our heart, we worship and desire. You can't address negative emotions and sinful behaviour without addressing the wrong thinking and idolatrous desires of the heart.

A people-pleaser like Tamar, at some level, thinks that people are big and God is small. She fears people more than she fears God, and desires the praise of people more than the praise of God. There will also be specific issues: perhaps she's a perfectionist who thinks she needs to get it right, or perhaps she feels deeply unloved.

What Tamar needs is a bigger view of God and his grace. As she gets a bigger view of God, she will start to depend less on the approval of others. She needs to know 4 truths about God (I've taken these from Tim Chester's You Can Change):

  1. God is great - he is in control, so I don't need to control how people see me
  2. God is glorious - he is powerful, so I don't need to fear others
  3. God is good - he is my joy, so I don't need to seek happiness in the approval of others
  4. God is gracious - he sees me as perfect and lovely in Christ, so I don't have to prove myself to others.
Tomorrow I'll share the second half of my response, and how I'd bring this bigger view of God to the level of Tamar's experience.

images are from stock.xchng

Friday, March 13, 2009

my rock

Here's a picture of my rock. I told you that it's a very ordinary looking rock.

It looks much more interesting with boys on it:

But mostly it's just me sitting there.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor (2) advice to the ordinary

Last week I told you about Don Carson's tribute to his father, Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson. This week, I'd like to share Don Carson's 9 reflections on his father's depression and discouragement in ministry.

You'll appreciate these 9 reflections if you minister to others in any way, especially if you sometimes struggle with feelings of inadequacy and discouragement in ministry (and don't we all?!).

  • People in ministry (especially workaholics!) need to remember the proper place of rest, and that we live in the freedom of God's grace. "The ministry is so open-ended that one never feels that all possible work has been done, or done as well as one might like. There are always more people to visit, more studying to be done, more preparation to do. What Christians must do, what Christian leaders must do, is constantly remember that we serve our God and Maker and Redeemer under the gospel of grace."
  • "Mum used to tell us kids, 'Work hard, and play hard, but never confuse the two.' ... Mum's maxim should be posted on the mirrors of most ministers."
  • "It is always disconcerting to see other ministers in your own sphere of service working effectively and fruitfully while you are plagued with stagnation. When that happens, there may be things to learn from more fruitful ministries, but sometimes one must simply rejoice that some ministers are more fruitful and more blessed than you are."
  • "Tom had a remarkably tender conscience. On so many fronts this is a good thing. Indeed, it is an almost universally recognized truth that the closer a believer is to God, the more deeply he or she recognizes and feels the weight of personal sin. This might become an insupportable burden if it is not joined with an ever-deepening grasp of the limitless dimensions of the love of God (cf. Ephesians 3:14-21). ... In Tom's case, he not only felt his own sin, but the failures and sins of those in his congregations ... Tom was developing a glass-half empty analysis of himself that was not, finally, realistic."
  • "To his enormous credit and his family's good, at no point did he ignore his wife and children. ... Tom did not fall into the assorted temptations that sometimes detach a minister from his family or even lead him to betray them."
  • It helps if we're aware of the most effective way of ministering in our particular fields (in Tom's case, he was slow to realise the importance of single language French congregations in Quebec).
  • "Much Christian contentment turns on perceiving things in the right grid." When we're experiencing failure in ministry, it's hard to combine contentment in our situation with humble confession of our sins and failing.
  • It's important to know ourselves, and how we minister most effectively. "Tom worked best on a team on which others were ordering his life and work for him, and he was set free to play to his strengths. ... Self-knowledge ... is vital."
  • "We should recognize that Tom's journal entries expressing deepest anguish frequently have the texture of biblical lament. Tom never stands in judgement of God; he never curses God. In his gloomest moments Tom ends up with a cry for help."
I pray that when you and I face inevitable discouragements in ministry, we would remember these lessons from the life of a faithful, ordinary pastor: the importance of rest as we accept the limits of our creatureliness and enjoy the freedom of grace, the ability to rejoice in the success of others without despairing over our failures, the wisdom to see ourselves clearly and to work effectively in the situation God has placed us in, the faithfulness to care for our families, and the faith to cry out to God when we feel discouraged and alone.

These 9 reflections are from Don Carson's Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor pp. 92-96.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

ageing beauty

This post appeared at Sola Panel today. I thought I'd reproduce it in full here, with pictures. I hope you enjoy it!

I'm sitting outside a cafe at a wobbly iron table, my pen moving lazily and messily across my notebook as I dream and write, dream and write. I sip from my mug-sized chai latte. A European wasp hovers hungrily above the frothed milk.

I look up and see a slim young Asian woman, neatly dressed in white shirt and charcoal bootlegs, smooth, dark hair in a ponytail, discreet silver rings in her ears. She tugs gently on the padded front bar of a walker.

Behind the walker is an elderly woman, bent sideways and stooped over like a crooked L. She shuffles one foot forward and slides the other up to meet it, swollen ankles hanging in soft folds over slippered feet. Her skin is crumpled and spotted with age, her white fly-away hair scant and dry, her patterned shirt and pleated skirt thrift-shop polyester.

She lowers herself carefully onto a bench. The young woman fetches a cup of tea and an easily digested sweet biscuit, and sits and chats about whatever comes into her head: the balmy weather, a boyfriend who left her, how she likes to sit in the garden after work. The older woman listens attentively, a small smile on her carefully lipsticked mouth.

Here is a greater humility than I have yet learned—not just to serve, but to receive service—to patiently accept help with simple tasks like walking, personal tasks like choosing which bread rolls to buy, and intimate tasks like showering. It would be even harder (for me, at least) to respond graciously when, inside, I'm longing for solitude and silence—to trade this lovely coffee shop stillness (how I love sitting alone in coffee shops!) for a constant companion who feels the need to make cheery conversation.

It looks like the younger woman is serving the older, but I suspect a different dynamic is operating. A sweet and unassuming gift is being given from older to younger—a gift of experienced wisdom, cheerful forbearance and patient stillness. It's a wisdom gained through a lifetime, a cheerfulness won during who knows how many battles with irritation and anxiety, and a stillness that has been reached after many years of cooking and washing and cleaning and serving.

How easy it would be to become bitter and self-absorbed and grumpy and anxious and shrill as I grow old! Instead, I pray that I will become like this woman, whose gentle spirit shines from her sweet face with a soft radiance. I pray that as my joints ache and my skin wrinkles, my heart would grow more lovely year by year. I pray that even now, I would be planting the seeds of humility, gentleness, cheerfulness and forbearance that will one day blossom into the beauty of lovely old age.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 1 Pet 3:3-4

images are from stock.xchng

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

JI Packer on wisdom and the fear of God

Probably the most common definition for the fear of the LORD is reverence or awe. After weeks of trying to work out what "the fear of God" is, I've come full circle and decided that this is a pretty good definition.

The reason I don't just stop there and be done with it is that "reverence" and "awe" are very slippery terms, and I'd like to unpack exactly what they mean (a vague feeling of devotion? obedient service? fear without the scary bits? all of the above?).

Here's a great passage from JI Packer where he defines "the fear of the Lord" as "reverence", and explains how it leads to wisdom.

Where can we find wisdom? What steps must a person take to lay hold of this gift? There are two prerequisites, according to Scripture.

First, we must learn to reverence God. 'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom' (Ps. 111:10; Prov. 9:10; cf. Job 28:28; Prov. 1:7; 15:33). Not till we have become humble and teachable, standing in awe of God's holiness and sovereignty ('the great and awesome [fearful] God', Neh. 1:5; cf. 4:14; 9:32; Deut. 7:21; 10:17; Ps. 99:3; Jer. 20:11), acknowledging our own littleness, distrusting our own thoughts, and willing to have our minds turned upside down, can divine wisdom become ours.

It is to be feared that many Christians spend all their lives in too unhumbled and conceited a frame of mind ever to gain wisdom from God at all. Not for nothing does Scripture say, 'with the lowly is wisdom' (Prov. 11:2 KJV).

Then, second, we must learn to receive God's word. Wisdom is divinely wrought in those, and those only, who apply themselves to God's revelation. 'Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,' declares the psalmist, 'I have more insight than all my teachers:' why? - 'for I meditate on your statutes' (Ps. 119:98 f.).
JI Packer http://www.amazon.com/Knowing-God-J-I-Packer/dp/083081650X 113; emphases his, bit in square brackets mine.

image is from stock.xchng

Monday, March 9, 2009

Proverbs (4) the fear of the LORD

My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding,
and if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.
For the LORD gives wisdom,
and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (
Prov 2:1-6)
What a great picture of a young man desperately seeking wisdom!

He's learned from his father that wisdom is like a beautiful young woman, eager to grant him riches beyond price. He's heard that wisdom brings honour, power, pleasure and long life. He's been taught to value wisdom beyond gold and silver, to search for it as for buried treasure.

I can see him in my mind's eye, going to a field where he's been told this priceless treasure lies buried. Perhaps, like the young man in Jesus' parable, he's sold all he has to buy this field (Matt 13:44-46). He digs and digs, sweat stinging his eyes, hands blistered and muscles aching, until the field is a wasteland of turned earth.

Suddenly his spade hits a chest with a ringing sound. He furiously throws the dirt away, first in spadefuls and then in handfuls, until the chest is uncovered. He dusts the remaining earth from the lid with trembling fingers, and reverently raises the lid. He says to himself, "At last! Here's wisdom! Here's the treasure I've been looking for!".

But what does he find inside? He finds the words the "fear of the LORD". It's like one of those bad Sunday school activities where you expected lollies, and were given a moral lesson instead. I can picture him saying, "The fear of the LORD?! I was looking for wisdom, and you give me the fear of the LORD?! What's going on here?"

He storms home, disappointed, and shouts at his father: "You told me I'd find wisdom! You told me that wisdom will give me riches and honour and power! But all I find is the fear of the LORD! What do I need fear for? I wanted people to fear me! I don't want to fear anyone else!"

His father takes him to one side. "My son, you were looking for wisdom, because you thought that with wisdom you would win respect, power, and riches - and so you will. But the way to wisdom is not as simple as uncovering a treasure chest. You see, wisdom is hidden in God. Only he knows the way to it (Job 28:20-23). There's only one way to find wisdom, and that's by starting with the fear of the LORD:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Prov 9:10 cf 1:7)."
And so the young man begins a new search. What is this thing called "the fear of the LORD"? Where does it live, and what does it look like?

At this point our Bible study group became a little lost, and so did I! There are few concepts in the Bible more debated and harder to understand than "the fear of the LORD". We learned lots about "the fear of the LORD", but we weren't able to decide exactly what it means.

And so my own search began. I've been hunting through concordances and commentaries for weeks. I'm going to interrupt my series on pride to share what I'm learning about "the fear of the LORD". I'm no expert, so if you've got any ideas or useful resources to share on "the fear of the LORD", please tell me so we can learn from each other!

images of chest and mattock are from stock.xchng, image of boy discovering chest is from Clyde Bentley at flickr, image of "fear God" banner is from EmerandSam at everystockphoto

Saturday, March 7, 2009

green pastures

Andrew is climbing up onto my desk, standing in front of the computer screen so that I have to peer around him to type this, and jumping into my arms. He declares:

"I'm getting down on gween pastures!"

It seems he's been listening while the older kids and I have been learning Psalm 23 during breakfast. It's good to know that God's word can even sink into the heart of a 2 year old.

And what are the "gween pastures"? Well, according to Andy, they're his mum. A bit of a theological misunderstanding, but we'll get there! In the meantime, I don't mind being thought of as green pastures.

Friday, March 6, 2009


The other day, as I was shepherding my straying 2 year old across the tanbark on the way into school to pick up the kids, I heard a familiar "tink!" in the gum tree above. I looked up, and there it was: a small green bird, flitting from branch to branch. A bellbird!

I grew up with bellbirds in our backyard. There's no more beautiful or evocative Australian bird song that I know of, apart from the carolling of the magpies in the early morning. Like the single metallic chime of a high-pitched bell, but far more piercing and beautiful, the bellbirds' "tink!" rings through the bush. You don't often see them, but you can't help but hear them.

I heard another bellbird as I woke up the other morning, chiming from the lemon-scented gums behind our bedroom. And another "tink!" just interrupted my thoughts as I wrote this post. Yes! There's another! And another, and another! Somewhere in the trees near our house there's a bellbird, dancing from tree to tree, piping his little song.

The bellbirds no longer come to the backyard of the house I grew up in. You don't often hear them inside the city limits. But here they are, in the homely surroundings of our suburb. I think they might be fugitives from the burned bushland only 30 minutes to the north of us.

Welcome, little refugees! I hope you've come to stay.

If you've never heard a bellbird (or, more properly, a bell miner) you can listen to it here or here.

image is by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos from Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor (1) to be faithful

Don Carson's Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson is a tribute by a son to his father. It's a moving and encouraging book, and a wonderful antidote to pride.

The man who transcribed the English part of Tom Carson's diaries says,

I used to aspire to be the next Henry Martyn [heroic British Bible translator and missionary to the Muslim peoples of India and Persia]. However, after reading your dad's daires, the Lord has given my heart a far loftier goal: simply to be faithful. I know we as men are but dust, but what dust the man I read about in these diaries was!
Tom Carson was an ordinary pastor, but also that most extraordinary of things: a man who sacrificed himself to tell others about Jesus, who didn't seek the praise of men, who spent much of his life in his knees, who dealt with conflict with humility and forbearance, and who struggled through his own "dark night of the soul" (brought on, as mine is so often, by perfectionistic guilt - but also, as mine so often isn't, by passion for the cause of the gospel) with perseverance and faith.

I cried when I read the closing paragraphs of these memoirs:

When he died, there were no crowds outside the hospital, no editorial comments in the papers, no announcement on television, no mention in Parliament, no attention paid by the nation. In his hospital room there was no one by his bedside. There was only the quiet hiss of oxygen, vainly venting because he had stopped breathing.

But on the other side all the trumpets sounded. Dad won entrance to theh only throne room that matters, not because he was a good man or a great man - he was, after all, a most ordinary pastor - but because he was a forgiven man. And he heard the voice of him whom he longed to hear saying, "Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your Lord."
I went away from reading this book determined to aim for that rarest of things: not to be praised or respected, but simply to be faithful.

The highlight of the book for me was the chapter on Tom's depression and discouragement in ministry. What Don Carson says is so significant for anyone in ministry, that I'm saving it for another post.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

tangles untangled

For a long time now - just over a year, to be exact, since I started this whole blogging business, and forcibly ripped my brain from the murkiness of breastfeeding and babies into the competing demands of childrearing and ministry - I've been struggling to keep the different strands of research projects and family needs and books to read and household tasks and ministry responsibilities separate in my head.

Like a tangled ball of yarn, they knot themselves around each other, a mess of incomplete ideas and unmet responsibilities and unfinished tasks, and sit somewhere inside me, an undigested mass in my gut, pressing upwards on my diaphragm, pressing on my lungs, making it hard to breathe.

I pray for God to untangle the ball. Occasionally, I tease a thread loose and pray about it. God responds, and unknots a strand or two, relieves the tightness and anxiety, and replaces it with his peace. But I glance away from him, and before I know it, another pressing responsibility, another incomplete project, another forgotten task tangles itself into the ball, and there it is again, cutting off my breath. Am I the only one who feels this way?

Some weeks ago, as I sat on my rock and prayed, an amazing thing happened: my perspective shifted sideways and I saw things differently.

The tangled ball of yarn was still there - the threads of ideas half-examined and tasks half-done and topics half-tackled and responsibilities half-met and books half-read and people half-cared for. But the threads were no longer tangled in my mind's eye.

Each thread lay, a separate and glowing strand, weaving over and under one another, but without knots or tangles. Some strands had been laid aside for a time, to be picked up later; others ended or began at certain points; still others lay in my hand, being woven into the pattern. Not a mess of knotted and tangled threads, but a neat bundle of coloured yarn, with each strand finding its place in the whole.

What this means for me, perfectionist and control-freak that I am, is that I don't need to keep track of every thread. I can lay one down and pick it up again or not as the case may be. My life doesn't depend on my ability to keep things organised, understood, and under control. Thoughts come and thoughts go, responsibilities are taken up and laid aside, projects are tackled and abandoned, but I can trust God to take care of the whole.

And if I (speaking sententiously and in cliches now!) am God's tapestry, and he is the weaver, who am I to think I can keep every strand clear and distinct and in my sight at all times? My job is to be faithful to God's word and to the people he has given me to care for, but only God sees every motive and perceives every thought and watches over every responsibility. I make plans, but he is the master designer who shapes my days (Prov 16:9, 19:21).

When I look back over my life from the perspective of heaven, I will see how every thought, every task, every responsibility was taken and used by him for the glory of his Son. And that is enough for me. That is knowledge too wonderful for me.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

images are from stock.xchng

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

John Milton on Satan's pride and fall

These are the words of Satan to his lieutenant Beelzebub after being cast out of heaven, as imagined by John Milton in Paradise Lost. They describe the essence of pride at its first beginning, handed down to all of us who know what it is to be proud.

What though the field be lost?
All is not lost—the unconquerable will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield:
And what is else not to be overcome?
That glory never shall his wrath or might
Extort from me. To bow and sue for grace
With suppliant knee, and deify his power
Who, from the terror of this arm, so late
Doubted his empire—that were low indeed;
That were an ignominy and shame beneath
This downfall ...

Farewell happy Fields
Where Joy for ever dwells: Hail horrors, hail
Infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell
Receive thy new Possessor: One who brings
A mind not to be chang'd by Place or Time.
The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n.
What matter where, if I be still the same,
And what I should be, all but less then he
Whom Thunder hath made greater? Here at least
We shall be free; th' Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav'n.