Posts Tagged ‘Christian living’

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musings on Psalm 139

March 29, 2011

Psalm 139 – 13 For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. (NKJV)

Please excuse me for asking what will no doubt come across as a stupid question to my theologically inclined friends, but here goes. Psalm 139 says, to me, that God made each individual with a specificity and attention to detail. However, can this not also be a potentially negative thing*? Or is it an inherently uplifting and positive scripture?

It seems too easy to perhaps draw out what will probably sound incredibly shallow**: if God created me to be like this, why? Why this… broken ugly hideous visage? The faults? The imperfections? Okay, I know the whole thing about how we live in a broken fallen world that was once very good, since damaged, one day to be restored. But, is that it? Is that all there is to it? To the question of one’s fundamental worth?

Anyway, just wondering. I don’t know if anyone has any thoughts on it but any comments would be welcome. I have a working feminist position on the issue (initially sparked by reading Wolf’s The Beauty Myth) but I have largely been disappointed with Christian approaches to the concept of beauty.

For the record, I do not want to impose any particular mould (“iron maiden” as Wolf described) upon other women; I disagree with externalised, cultural definitions of beauty as being far too narrow to encompass the breadth of human female variety. Problem is, I find it very easy to take it out on myself.

 

*not to imply that the only valid positions are necessarily positive

** but I am confident I’m not the only one who thinks these things

 

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Christmas Time Devotionals

November 23, 2010

Christmas Themed Devotional Readings: https://darthmaulmakesmesmile.wordpress.com/tag/Christmas-2008/

In 2008 I wrote a series of 28 Christmas-themed devotionals, beginning with https://darthmaulmakesmesmile.wordpress.com/2008/11/24/christmas01/.

At the time, I wrote:

I thought I’d take some time out to share a few thoughts on Christmas in the month to come, as a sort-of non-denominational pre-Christmas Advent devotional and musings column. I hope that it brings you some light, inspiration and excitement as we remind ourselves of the true meaning of the festive occasion.

I believe it is still relevant and hope you will consider reading it as part of your spiritual journey during December.

The devotionals incorporate Bible scriptures and links to further readings on related topics of faith.

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Article: “An Equal-Opportunity Destroyer”

September 22, 2010

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/september/24.71.html

Extract:

“If you’ve heard the word porn in church recently, in a small group or from the pulpit, chances are you hardly blinked. Thanks to ministries like Promise Keepers and Operation Integrity, the research of sex addiction expert Patrick Carnes and neuroscientist William Struthers, and individuals courageous enough to admit they have a problem, American churches have squarely faced porn’s destructive and tragic effects. We know porn is highly addictive, and we have more tools than ever to break its stranglehold. Praise God.” Read More.

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Captivating

September 14, 2010

Today I picked up an “old friend” of a book – John Eldredge and Stasi Eldredge’s Captivating (2005). I simply can’t recommend it enough. It is one of the (sadly) very few Christian women’s books that I have read, and re-read, and been transformed by.

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Thoughts on Australian politics

July 20, 2010

At the risk of inadvertently turning this into a political blog, I want to highlight the important issue of chaplains in Australian schools.

In recent times, chaplains have been made available in many schools to help students work through their issues. I have, as a parent, even employed the services of my children’s school chaplains when one of my kids was struggling with some issues. The chaplains responded quickly and provided excellent standards of counselling and assistance for my child, who subsequently saw a great improvement in social relationships with other children at school.

Some politicians (particularly the left wing, though some of those have supported chaplaincy) have suggested that the widespread religious education programmes in Australian public (Government-operated) schools and chaplaincy should be replaced in favour of non-religious “ethics” classes and psychologists.

While I understand the arguments in favour of this position, I personally believe that the holistic care of a chaplain (not just mental and emotional but also spiritual) and the opportunity for children to learn about the spiritual/ religious foundations of many Australians’ lifestyles are important and significant.

For fellow Australians who are interested in learning more about what chaplaincy is about, and who want to see it continued after the next election, please look at these websites:

National School Chaplaincy Association (with information on contacting your local representative in support of chaplaincy)

Access Ministries – chaplains and religious education teachers

Here are some articles on how chaplains and religious ministers have helped in the aftermath of the Black Saturday crisis, in early 2009 when bushfires claimed the lives of hundreds of Victorians.

“Parishes, chaplains step up to help fire victims”

“A Chaplain’s Story”

“The Firefighters”

National Research Findings on Chaplaincy in Australian Schools (Link to a PDF)

“Responding to the Bush Fire Tragedy”

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Article: Churches Adopt Adoption

July 8, 2010

I just read this article in Christianity Today, “Churches Adopt Adoption“. It’s such an exciting thought that people are seeking positive change to impact the lives children. How heartbreaking, then, was the thought of an adoptive mother putting her 8 year old boy on a plane because she, quote, “I no longer wish to parent this child.” As the mother of an 8 year old, I can’t even imagine what hardship a mother would have gone through to feel that the only solution would be to send her little boy on a plane back to his home country. However, at the risk of saying too much on a topic I don’t know enough about, I’ll just leave it at that.

Here’s the link: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/july/11.23.html?start=1

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The Awesome Song of Songs + a lament on self-righteous singles

May 12, 2010

Reading this on facebook? Please view and comment at the original post!

*Warning: big generalisations

Gledhill, T. (1994) The Message of the Song of Songs. Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press.

Koorong Books

If you read only one Bible study on Song of Songs, make it this one. It covers a lot of detail and is a positive read. It is so refreshing to read a Bible study text that affirms sexuality, rather than treating it as something to be dissected, abhorred and feared.

Today I read an article on a Christian website that seemed to characterise marriage as God’s ‘back-up’ plan for the Christian who has no self-control. It appeared to be a simplistic dichotomy between married versus unmarried. The single Christian is perceived as somehow superior to the married Christian.

Usually I find the articles on that site as being high quality and excellent; but this particular article really did come across as the poorly thought-out. Perhaps I misunderstood it. The author is clearly writing as a single man – there is a peculiar kind of arrogance (for want of a better word) that a lot of young single Christian men seem to have regarding their lifestyle / lifestage.

These foolish attitudes ignore the original created very goodness of marriage (Genesis 1 and 2). It also implies that somehow God sees the single as greater  than the married. Yet, as I repeatedly tell my peers, marriage is what has transformed me – it is through marriage and parenthood that I came to know Christ, that I shed much selfishness, that I have had to learn grace, patience, endurance, forgiveness and generosity. I have had to learn self-sacrifice. I can no longer go out to drunken parties and sleep in late and do what I feel like, because it is not about me. I can’t just buy what I want – the money is not mine but ours. Everything I do impacts on the lives of other people. I am an individual, yes, but I am a social being who exists within the context of family and community. Not that I consider myself communitarian, but we are more than just our individuality – we are all social creatures, designed in the image of a Triune God, purposed for LOVE, and love can only exist when we realise that ‘I’ is not the centre of the universe. (Yes, obviously single people are capable of love so please don’t think I somehow characterise “them” as the “Other” or as soulless robots.)

Now, I have read other articles by the same author that I have found useful and insightful. However, I must admit that these days I find little substance in Christian preaching that comes from young, unmarried, determinedly and self-righteously single (as opposed to those who are genuinely called by God and gifted to walk in celibacy / singleness). It simply rarely applies to my life stage. I am in my 20s and trying to discover who I am and where I am meant to go, as a woman, as a wife, as a mother and daughter and sister and cousin and niece, as a student and in my future career, and as a member of a local community of followers of Christ. There is a level of annoyance that I experience when unmarried Christians my own age start preaching on the benefits of what appears to be a generally self-absorbed life style. Singleness does not equal greater devotion to God. When I am scraping together money to pay another set of bills, trying to keep my kids in private Christian school, when I really would rather just have that money to buy myself some new jeans, or I’m trying to be patient towards my husband, trying to ignore my own convenience to serve my family, well – that’s when God comes in. Because only He can give me the grace, strength and energy that I need to get through these challenges. Only He can provide when the bills cost more than our income. Only He can help me create a healthy marriage.

I understand that many young Christians may be called to a time of singleness, but I think some unnecessarily inflate their pride by assuming that they are too good for marriage, that marriage is God’s Plan B. It also ignores the practical realities of marriage and parenthood in the Christian context – leave it too late and biology will have its way: the human female body is, I have heard, designed to reach peak child-bearing age in the mid-20s. It all goes downhill from there. A young woman who ever wants the possibility of having a family will need to bear this in mind before it is too late.

Gledhill’s Song of Songs is an excellent study that shows that sex really is designed by God as part of the whole human experience. I mean, it really does become a thing of beauty when considered through God’s eyes. It is a well-written and balanced text and I certainly recommend it, particularly to married or almost-married Christians. I for one would love to see Christians, in general, shed their bizarre hang ups and legalistic ideas regarding sex. I do get tired of the Christian marriage books (usually American, it seems to me) that treat sex in marriage as a series of “do nots” but miss out on the glorious complexity of the human being and the marriage relationship.

I also get tired of reading complicated manuals on dating, etc. Really, is it that complex?All this stuff on ‘the girl should not ask a guy out’, ‘you should have your first chaperoned date by age 15’, ‘some kinds of sex between a man and wife are sinful’… blegh. Whatever. If we spend all our time constructing these difficult and complicated and not-in-the-Bible rules, we’re going to miss out on the glorious full and abundant life God has for us. That extends to making up some rules, based on half-read Bible verses, about how God is disappointed every time a Christian gets married. Because He’s not disappointed. Marriage is given as an example of the love Christ has for His church. It is by no means an inferior state of being.

*Disclaimer – I am not trying to bag single Christians. I do not believe that married or unmarried is the argument or debate here. We are all unique and we need to ask God to open our eyes to what He would have us do.

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