Monday, June 30, 2014

online meanderings

Learning to speak to yourself - I once thought that the psalms were sung by a fine choir in God’s throne room. Then I actually read them, and they sounded more like the words a street troubadour who encourages the participation of those around him. Now I find that they are simply spoken and sung everywhere: in the darkness of night, in the early morning, in all the details of everyday life. And there are a handful of psalms in which the psalmists speak to themselves ...

Stop faking spiritual maturity

4 ways to prepare for suffering now - These would top my list too.

4 reasons to sit near the front in church

The pointlessness of unplugging

for young men
Dear single dudes: it's time to man up

Letter to a potential boyfriend  

Growing older should grow faith, so that like Abraham, we look forward to the heavenly country, to the city built by God—the permanent city, the one with foundations (Hebrews 11:10, 13-16)—where we can be forever with our eternal, unchanging, wholly-satisfying Lord. Rebecca Stark

Healing is a good thing, but it remains entirely in God’s hands. We cannot force or demand it and it is not a benefit that we can earn or receive as a reward. Healing is a gift. There is no secret rite that will elicit its appearance, no magic formula that will sway the sovereignty of the giver. God will bless as he sees fit and in accordance with his own counsel and wisdom. Should he choose to bless you with this mercy, receive it with humility, thanksgiving and joyful praise. Should he choose to withhold this mercy, endure with humility, thanksgiving and joyful praise. - Scott Blackwell

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online meanderings for dads and mums

Our children are our neighbours too

4 lovely pieces of advice for a young dad

Letter to a potential boyfriend - A mum writes to a young man who wants to date her daughter. Awesome.

On daughters and dating - For dads: how to intimidate potential suitors.

Why my family doesn't do sleepovers - This is not the only helpful approach, but it's worth considering.
When we’re exhausted, when we feel the dusty earth of the Calvary road, we can remember that it’s especially then that the life of Jesus is manifested in us (2 Corinthians 4:10). It’s then that Jesus gives us more of himself, proving over and over that he is enough, that he is good, that there is more joy in him than in the grain and wine that abound (Psalm 4:7)—or in the kids who never make messes and the dinner that prepares itself and the schedules that operate seamlessly. He is better. There’s no way a finite, nurturing heart can hold all these things, but Jesus can, Jesus does, Jesus will. - Gloria Furman

I like to think that the amount of water my children waste when they shower is partly made up for by their failure to flush the toilet and remember to brush their teeth. - Deb

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

what I'm reading: wounded but not wasted

I thought there could be no worthy successor to JI Packer's Knowing God to feed my soul this year. I was wrong.

On a Friday morning, sitting under the oak trees outside my favourite cafe, I can't wait to open Tim Chester's The Ordinary Hero.

Here's a favourite quote-within-a-quote:
We should avoid, not a wounded life, says John Piper, but a wasted life ...

Too often, we can't quite lay hold of the treasure of Christ with both hands because we're still clinging to the baubles of this world ...

Piper again:
What a tragic waste when people turn away from the Calvary road of love and suffering. All the riches of the glory of God in Christ are on that road. All the sweetest fellowship with Jesus is there. All the treasures of assurance. All the ecstasies of joy. All the clearest sightings of eternity. All the noblest camaraderie. All the humblest affections. All the most tender acts of forgiving kindness. All the deepest discoveries of God’s Word. All the most earnest prayers. They are all on the Calvary road where Jesus walks with his people. Take up your cross and follow Jesus. On this road, and this road alone, life is Christ and death is gain. Life on every other road is wasted.

Tim Chester The Ordinary Hero 77, quoting John Piper Don't Waste Your Life 76.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

online meanderings

Get out of your holy huddle - 7 ways to deepen relationships.

When the prospect of pain threatens our pleasure - Thoughtful, encouraging.

Christianity is not a religion of the stiff upper lip - Just read the Psalms.

The day I lost my temper - "More like I found my temper. I found it right where I left it." 

Will she live with us forever - A moving post about a daughter born with Down syndrome.

12 questions to ask before you watch "Game of thrones" (or any show with nudity in it).

A pattern for regular time off, 3 assumptions we must conquer, and 8 ways to say "no" - 3 posts on busyness and burnout.

The 5 stages of biblical repentance - "One of the strangest and most deplorable phenomena I’ve ever encountered in the Christian church is the tendency of many believers to take the side of the abuser in domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault cases, particularly if the abuser is a pastor or leader in the church."

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

online meanderings

The psalmists' rich view of depression - An interesting article about the psalms, biblical counseling and depression.

What to do on days when sin looks delicious

3 thing things I tell myself when I'm feeling low on patience

When it's time to leave a church - Red lights, green lights, yellow lights.

On the benefits of employing people with disabilities - An inspiring story.

for parents:
Setting up my kids for salvation (or why we can't) 

5 ways to model grace-dependence to our children

An open letter to my daughter-in-law - A great read for mums, especially new ones.
Eternal life is more about a Person than a place. ... That is the treasure you have discovered in the field of this fallen world. Jesus has paid for it all, and it costs you everything you own in this age to have it. Yet it is such a small payment for such an everlasting, never-ending treasure that only a fool would pass it up. The treasure makes all the difference. Jon Bloom

The person of great sacrifice must be the person of little sacrifices ... The big moment of courageous action doesn’t occur in a vacuum, but has behind it tiny moments of simple sacrifice that have been trending that direction all along. In other words, if we can’t wash dishes and change diapers, we shouldn’t kid ourselves with the idea that we’d step in front of a bullet. If we are stingy with our time and money toward those in need, we’ll be stingy with our lives when a gun gets pulled on innocent people. Jonathon Parnell

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

what I'm reading: where else have I to go?

This is one of the saddest and most encouraging things I've read.

It's from Tim Chester's brilliant book (read it! do!) The Ordinary Hero.
In 2007 violence erupted after disputed elections in Kenya. Beth, a Kenyan studying in the UK, and part of The Crowded House, the family of church planting networks to which I belong, emailed me at the time:
This past week I’ve realized that I don’t truly know what God being good, wise, sovereign and faithful means.

I know what it doesn’t mean – it doesn’t mean no suffering in this life. I know that whatever he allows is for his glory and our good. But I also don’t want to be flippant or simply parrot phrases as though I’ve merely learned them by rote.

I talk to my aunt and uncle who are doctors and have hardly slept during the last three days because of the sheer number of people coming in. I want to know what it means to talk to them and then say “God is good”.

Surely any earthly parent would come running at the sound of their baby’s blood-curdling shriek. So I want to be sure I know what I mean by “God is good” when we have prayed and prayed to the soundtrack of the screams of children being burnt, knowing that the stench is getting to heaven and silence is the response.

When I watch on live television people being dragged out of cars and hacked to death, my mind spins – and not because I have wondered if God is sovereign, but because I know he is ...

Life as I’ve known it has changed and will never be the way it was. And a huge chunk of me grieves … I’m not losing faith, for where else have I to go? Whom else have I in heaven but him?

I read through Job today in one sitting and realized that Job had a lot of questions, but God didn’t answer any of them. He only revealed his character and that was enough. Job says, “I had heard of you but now I have seen you.”

And so that’s my prayer: that God would move me from having heard of him to seeing him, and that his comforting, sustaining and sanctifying grace would abound in the gap of hearing and seeing.

Tim Chester The Ordinary Hero 18-19, 22.

Friday, June 13, 2014

online meanderings

Partnering with people in their pain - By a man whose wife lives with chronic pain.

A year that hasn't gone according to plan - More helpful reflections from Jenny.

The extraordinary work of ordinary means - How songs can do their work long after they are sung.

God has timed the grief of aging perfectly

Pastors, you make your own sandwich - A great post about life and ministry.

Learning to be a writer - Very reassuring.

for parents ... and a quote for tired mums
10 toys I don't regret buying

Qualities to teach your kids as they relate as brothers and sisters
'This is the season of boo-boos and spit up and dirt. It’s the season for 10 minute showers, half shaved legs, and one eyed mascara. You will get lonely. And jealous. And maybe sometimes you’ll begrudge your life and wish you had someone else’s. You’ll get frustrated and angry and you’ll want to escape. This will be the most unglamorous and unappreciated time of your life, and sometimes it just totally sucks. That’s ok. But have peace in knowing that this will be the season you look back on longingly. One day, we’ll gladly give up all the friends in the world to have our babies small again. To be able to fit them on our laps and read them stories and go on adventures and eat pancakes at every meal. Kristen

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014


I have written so little that's personal for a while. I apologize for that - although I'm sure you understand. That's the nature of blogs, to grow and change and shrink with the demands of life (except for those uber-bloggers like Challies that seem to keep it going time without end, amen and hallelujah.).

I've been busy working on a seminar on contentment, and I find that I don't have time and energy to focus on more than one major writing task at a time (again, unlike the uber-bloggers. I have to learn not to aspire in that direction.).

But more significantly, life doesn't allow me much time to write. The mornings are filled with getting kids off to school; the afternoons, school pick-up and chores (days, too); the evenings, time with Steve (see me put first things first! ;) ). I mentor a couple of women, and recently I did a talk at a women's event - fun!

Steve's health has been poor for some months now (he is having tests to find out what's wrong). Ben is home for parts of every day (he is still doing a 2-5 hour school day, which we are gradually extending). The pain team assures us that we are on the right track with his chronic headaches. We all had a nasty flu earlier this term, and we're into our second cold this term.

It hasn't been an easy time for us. If you're a pray-er, please pray for our family, especially for Ben and Steve. Pray that we will use this time of trial well, to grow in patience and endurance and joy.

But thank God, too. Thank him, with me, for freedom from anxiety - such a blessing after last year's intense, ongoing anxiety! Thank him, too, that the bitterness of those first few years when Ben was sick have given way to acceptance and trust and hope and even joy. That's a miracle, friends: to change this stubborn heart of mine.

Thank him for watching over us and loving us and always, always drawing us to himself. And pray that we will be able to face whatever else this year may bring, still trusting in God and living for him.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

online meanderings by the numbers

7 (+ 1) benefits of going through hard times

8 baby steps to Christian courage

9 ways to battle the darkness of anxiety and depression

3 things to guard against in the middle years

15 things not to say to someone with a chronic or invisible illness

10 toys I don't regret buying 

5 ways you can hurt your credibility without realising it

what I'm listening to: you can trust that man

It's one of my favourite stories about Jesus.

A woman, who's been bleeding for 12 years, touches the very edge of his cloak, and feels in her body that she's been healed.

He asks, "Who touched me?" She comes trembling, and falls at his feet.

He says, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” (Luke 6:40-56)

In Annabel Nixey's talk about this woman,* she asks, do we really want this woman's faith? Or do we want something more exciting?
Jesus lifts up this woman as an example, and he says, "See her faith." ... Faith is the guts of how we relate to God. ...

The faith that this woman had in this moment, we are to have in every moment.

So what was it? It's that she had empty-handed trust, and that this trust was in Jesus.

This woman came to Jesus with nothing, and she knew it. She was no great achiever. She was a receiver.

But if I'm honest, even when it comes to God, I want to be independent. I want the glamour faith. I want the independent dependence.

There's no such thing! There is simply no such thing.

When you look at this woman trembling in front of Jesus, do you want to be like her? I'm happy to learn from her. I don't know that I want to be like her.

And yet she is the example that Jesus holds up of how to treat him. 
Me too. I'd love the glamour faith, not the broken faith. But only when I'm broken do I learn what it  means to cling to Jesus. Yet my faith is no more perfect than this woman's:
But here's the comfort. This woman is held up as an example of faith, but her faith wasn't perfect.

It was tentative at first. It was wrapped up in the superstition that she had to touch Jesus. Jesus heals her anyway.

Maybe you look at your Christian friends and family, and you longingly think, "I wish I had her faith."

Look at this woman. She didn't have some mysterious quality. She simply trusted in Jesus. 

Maybe you look inside yourself, and maybe you ask yourself, "Do I have faith? Do I have enough faith? Do I have the right kind of faith?"

It wasn't about whether she had perfect faith.

It's about who her faith was in.
Instead of examining my own faith, I am learning to look away from myself and to Jesus:
We need to lift our eyes, look to Jesus, stop the self-analysis, look at Jesus.

Do you trust that man? Because we have even more reasons to trust in Jesus than this woman did.

You can trust that man. He went on to die for his people. Right after this, he raised Jairus' daughter from the dead. Who does that? He went on to punch through death himself in the resurrection. He gave us his Spirit.

And so we know that he is going to come back, and he's going to bring a whole kingdom where there will be no more bleeding. There will be no more need for doctors. There will be no more dying.

We need to lift our eyes and look forward to that kingdom.
I've been wondering what this woman would say to us. I don't think she'd say, "Look at my faith." I do think she'd say, "Look at him!"

Look at Jesus. You can trust that man.

* This is from Annabel Nixey's talk from Equip 2013. I wrote about another talk from this conference - Anna Moss on Mary and Martha - here. I highly recommend these talks. I found them very encouraging.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

online meanderings

That which I did not sow - For the kind of loss you can't speak of, and unexpected growth.

Words for the suffering - "I doubt I would have heard those words if they had come before the tears and the silence. But because they came after those things, I heard them with my heart."

Portrait of down syndrome - A beautiful post about a son and opportunities for people with special needs.

Say the last 2% - Don't leave the main point out of your conversations.

One way to stop worrying

6 lies grads will be told - To which you can add: "You are the cream of society".

for parents:
A ridiculous-sounding affirmation for tired mums by Gloria Furman.

What are we teaching our daughters? - There are more important things than flower arranging and sewing.

I was hunting for resources on helping my son cope with anxiety when I found these: Kids and stress Helping kids cope with stress

for preachers:
Many of the truly great preachers of every era were not people who only read other preachers. Part of what made them great communicators was a facility with language, an understanding that storytelling was at the heart of what moves people. In our own language, they were rich in Shakespeare, full of Milton, well-versed in verses outside the canon. Go beyond the artist/preacher you admire and go their own sources. I think we will all be richer if you do, because you will be richer. SD Smith

You will not be able to extemporize good thinking unless you have been in the habit of thinking and feeding your mind with abundant and nourishing food. Work hard at every available moment. Store your minds very richly, and then, like merchants with crowded warehouses, you will have goods ready for your customers, and having arranged your good things upon the shelves of your mind, you will be able to hand them down at any time without the laborious process of going to market, sorting, folding, and preparing… Take it as a rule without exception, that to be able to overflow spontaneously you must be full. Charles Spurgeon

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