I’ve Moved!

I moved my blog home over to a prettier place: http://livingtopleasegod.blogspot.com/ so please do come and visit me over there!

Our Children’s Bible Story Time

Every day before bed, my husband reads the children a Bible story or two, or three! They took a little while to get used to it when he first started, but now they love it. First they read from the Beginners Bible then as they got older we moved to Good and Evil – a comic book type of Bible. As they finished that, they then went on to read The Illustrated Bible: The New Testament and are currently going through The Picture Bible. These last three all have cartoons so the kids love it, but also have a lot of information. Now that our youngest is toddling around I read him the Beginners Bible while the older two read with Daddy so that he can enjoy it more at his level, and they are not disturbed.

 I took these photos the other day when we had a lot going on. Clint had to go somewhere so he couldn’t do Bible study with them, and I was behind and was still washing the dishes. So I asked Caleb to go and read the Bible to Hope. A few minutes later I went to check on them, and they were sitting like this, both snuggled up in Daddy’s armchair, his arm around her, holding their cups of hot chocolate, with him reading her the Bible stories. It was so sweet!!

I am very thankful that my husband has researched and bought these Bibles especially for that time, because it has made my son interested in reading them for himself. He reads them for fun, and knows loads of the Bible stories. When I think about it we are so blessed to have all these different kinds of Bibles available to buy when some countries aren’t allowed to have any Bibles. I figure we can’t really go wrong buying them lots of Bibles because the more they are interested in them, the more they will read them. Then more seed will be sown in their lives that hopefully will bear fruit if we also teach them what it all means, live the right kind of life for them to see, and pray for them.

Sometimes it is hard to see past the everyday things that are part of being a stay-at-home mother and homeschooling. But it is times like in these photos when I see a glimmer of light. Because it is through my teaching him to read that my son can read the Bible, and it is through my husband buying and reading them Bibles that they have come to enjoy and know the stories so well. ‘And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?’ Romans 10:14

Headship in Marriage Part 2 – Why and How?

In the last post I was sharing on what the whole authority and headship thing means, and the qualifications. This time I want to look at why God put it there and some of the things it takes for us wives to put this difficult stuff into practice!

Why did God put this in place?

  • God is a God of order –  John Macarthur said ‘An employee may be more intelligent and more skilled than his boss, but a company cannot be run without submission to proper authority, even if some of those in authority are not as capable as they ought to be.’
  • Protection for us – When our husbands realise that we are submitted to their authority, they will often see more of the weight of the decision that lies with them, and take more care over making it. It also protects us from a lot of the worry that we would otherwise be prone to as the responsibility lies with him.
  • Women are more easily deceived –  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 2 Tim 2:14 We don’t like reading this verse mainly because of pride and the world’s teaching. But this doesn’t mean that women are less valuable or less intelligent, or inferior. ‘It does mean that God has restricted women’s role in the local church partially because she could be more easily deceived.’ (John Macarthur) And in practice we are more easily deceived, I think primarily because the emotions that God has put in us to help us care for children also have the tendency to mislead us. If I want my 3 year old daughter Hope to kiss me after she has already refused, all I have to do is to pretend to cry like a baby, ‘Waah, waaah, waaaaah!’ and she immediately gives me a kiss! There’s no chance of that with my two boys! That is a bit scary for me because it shows how easily she can be manipulated by being made to feel guilty, just as I know I can be.

What it takes on our part

  • An understanding of who God is – God is compassionate and understanding, and knows what we are going through, and knows what we can cope with – He has promised to not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear 1 Cor 10:13
  • Faith in God – God has also promised that He will work everything for the good of those who love Him Rom 8:28. This is key in submission, as if we trust that, and know that God’s will is that we submit to our husbands, then we can trust that God will work it for our good whether our husbands make the right decision or not, because ultimately God is in control, and we are doing God’s will so we don’t need to be afraid.
  • Humility – We have to get past our pride that tells us we are right and they are wrong, and that we know more than they do so we should be making the decisions. That may be true, but just as Christ humbled himself and became obedient, so must we!
  • Obedience – if we obey God we will be blessed, and if we disobey we will reap the consequences. Ultimately we have to remember, this is a clear command in the Bible, which is God’s word.

If you want to know more, Alistair Begg has an excellent sermon called ‘Being a Wife God’s Way’ that you can listen to online, as well as many other sermons on marriage and womanhood that are free to download and listen to.

Headship in Marriage Part 1 – What Does The Bible Say?

We have been going through ‘The Excellent Wife’ in our women’s ministry, so I thought I’d share some of what I’m learning as I study!

The Bible says that the husband is the head of the wife: ‘Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the body.’ Eph 5:22-23

This is a controversial topic because the world’s view is so different from what the Bible says. As Christians we should try not to be pressed into the world’s mould, so if this is something you are not sure about I would encourage you to pray, be open to changing your mind, have God’s word as your rule and not what the world says, and examine the Bible to see if these things are true. Also remember that if you obey God you will be blessed!

Carolyn Mahaney says about this topic, ‘How do you view submission? Do you find it appealing or do you cringe at the mere mention of the word? If you react negatively to the idea, chances are you have only seen a warped or defective product, because the genuine article of submission brings immeasurable benefit to our marriages and tremendous honour to the gospel’

Elisabeth Elliot said, ‘Many are the discussions I’ve heard on this one, almost all of them directed to ‘what it can’t possibly mean’ rather than to the plain word of the Lord. The statement is simple. Not easy for women like me, but simple, that is, I understand it only too well. As Mark Twain said, I have far more trouble with the things I do understand in the Bible than things I don’t understand.’

What does this mean?

Some people use the verse where it says that there is neither male nor female in Christ (Gal 2:28) to argue against headship of the husband. But there the context is oneness in Christ – it means that we are all equally one in Christ. Marriage is just like in the Trinity, where all the members are equal, yet ‘the head of Christ is God’ 1 Cor 11:3. The members of the Trinity are equal in nature but different in their function, and in marriage it is the same as we are equal but have different roles. Wives submit to husbands yet are not inferior to them, just as Christ submits to God yet is not inferior to Him.

The word ‘submit’ here is a different word from obey – not as a servant or a child, but as an equal. In the Greek it means ‘to voluntarily place oneself under’. So as wives we should voluntarily place ourselves under our husband’s authority. It is also to be done ‘as to the Lord’ because our manner and attitude is to be as to the Lord. There will be times when our husband is inconsiderate and thoughtless, and then it will really help to remember that we do it for the Lord, as it is the Lord’s will. A wife who does not submit to her husband does not submit to the Lord.

Some qualifications

  • The husband never has absolute authority over the wife because God is the higher authority. So if our husband asks us to sin then must we must obey the higher authority – God – and refuse.
  • The Bible doesn’t say ‘Submit to the right kind of husband’. He may be an unbeliever, or sinful (who isn’t in some things?) but we should still submit. A good passage that deals with that issue is 1 Peter 3:1-6
  • God has also put our church and the authorities there for our protection, so if abuse happens we should go to them for help
  • Headship doesn’t mean that we have to ask our husbands about every single decision, unless they want us to! It is more meaning that they have the authority to lead and make final decisions.
  • We can of course give input, but when a conflict of opinion arises that cannot be resolved, they are responsible to decide, and we are responsible to honour and affirm their leadership.

It is interesting to me that Jesus delighted to do His Father’s will – and I think with true submission in our heart we will delight to do our husband’s will – it’s not just a case of waiting till there is a big dispute to submit!

The Story Of My Life – Part 2: Is There Really A God?

In my last post I shared how I became a Christian, but the story is not really complete without adding what happened when I was 18, as I went through a sudden onset of doubts. I hope that many of my questioning friends will read this!

A few months later I started experiencing a massive amount of doubts about Christianity. This was probably partly due to the fact that I had suddenly committed my life to Christ far more radically and so the need for me to be sure that it was all true was more than ever before. But also I expect the devil didn’t want me to be that committed and tried to dislodge me. For about three months I went through constant doubts.

Every time I went to a public place I would look around and think, ‘I’m sure all these people don’t believe in God, so how can it be true?’. Interestingly, the next year I went on a mission trip to London with an outreach team, and walked up to a lot of complete strangers to talk to them about God. And I was surprised to find that probably 95% actually did believe there was a God! They just don’t have a sign on them saying that they do 😉

I decided to sit down and work out why it would be true. Here are the things that finally convinced me:

  • There were so many people I knew that were very practical and intelligent and believed it. Men and women – my dad being the main person in my mind. I’m not sure if I know anyone more practical and realistic than him, apart from my husband!
  • There is clearly evil in the world, seen in the occult, so there must be supernatural stuff going on, and it follows that there must be good if there is evil.
  • Creation is so amazing – little did I know then of the wonders of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding which has made it even more amazing to me! And I couldn’t see how anyone in their right mind could believe it had evolved!
  • I have had so many miraculous answers to prayer. As a child and teenager the kind of things I prayed about were not earth shaking – but enough for me to see that God cared about me and heard my prayers and answered them miraculously. I distinctly remember one day in secondary school when I could not find my French textbook anywhere! I needed it for school that day, and if I couldn’t find it I would get a detention. I had NEVER got a detention so I was super-scared of that. I had searched my room for ages and had to leave for school. I was so stressed, then I threw up a quick prayer, ‘Father please help me find my textbook’. I looked up from closing my eyes in prayer, and it was right there IN FRONT OF ME!! It was in the middle of a pile of books on top of my piano, and I hadn’t seen it. That was just too obviously God (and his sense of humour). I have also had lots more amazing answers to prayer beside that one.

There are many other reasons to believe in God – but these are the ones that helped me to be sure of my faith. So God brought me through these doubts and out on the other side, which resulted in my faith being much stronger! And I have had a wonderful experience of life with God beside me, helping me, guiding me, encouraging me, and just being there for me. If you would like to know more, please e-mail me – rhodajane at gmail.com – or visit this website which explains how to know God, and answers frequently asked questions about God.

If you are a Christian and were convinced about the truth of Christianity by other ways, it would be great if you could comment and share – maybe it will help someone who is still uncertain!

The Story Of My Life – Part 1: A Sinner Saved By Grace

 I was recently reminded of the powerful influence of a personal testimony, so I thought I’d share mine in the hope that it will show how God has worked in my life.

I have always been in a Christian family and attended Bible teaching churches, so I think from the beginning I took Christianity almost for granted as part of my life. Though I know I was born a sinner and not a Christian, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t believe in and love God. I think when I became a Christian I was around 3 to 5 years old. I remember asking my mum how to become a Christian. She said something like ‘repent and believe’ i.e. you need to turn from your sinful ways to God and say sorry for the wrong things you have done, and have faith in Jesus Christ to save you. After she said that I remember praying to God and saying I was sorry for doing wrong and asking Him to forgive me and save me. I kept repeating it just to make sure! I also used to keep my monkey with me every night so that he could come with me to heaven if Jesus came back suddenly! When I was in infant school I used to tell my classmates about God. Unfortunately I got put off doing this by primary school since I was bullied a lot and called ‘Bible basher’, so I kept to myself more.

When I was 9 I heard a sermon preached on baptism, saying that Christians should get baptised. I then asked my Dad if there was any chance of getting baptised because it was obviously something I should do. As a result of that, my brother and I had several classes with the senior elder, where we went through the meaning of Christianity and of baptism. At the age of 10 I was baptised. Around that age I started going into the main church service in the mornings, instead of the Sunday School. I used to always take a notebook and write notes from the sermons to help me to listen and give me something to do. My aim each service was to get our visiting preacher to smile at me, so I would sit in the front row and grin widely at him whenever he looked my way – I usually managed to get a smile back!!

When I was about 15, a young people’s Bible study was started up. It was very practical, and although I knew I sinned, I don’t think that I had previously realised quite how much. So I began to make a real effort to improve spiritually in my everyday life. When I was 16, my mum came back to church and I started going through the M’Cheyne Calendar with her – we would both read the 4 chapters a day and then write down our favourite verses and compare, which was always fun. We also moved to Kent and went to a church where there was really good preaching and fellowship and a lot of Christian young people. It was wonderful because I started to really look forward to every Sunday. Instead of God being just one part of my life, He became much more central.

When I was 18 the most major turning point in my Christian life happened. I was reading some easy-to-read biographies of Christians and gradually progressed into ones that had more depth to them. I read Isobel Kuhn’s biographies, Hudson Taylor’s and then Amy Carmichael’s. This last one really inspired me, and I resolved that I wanted to give every part of my life totally to God, to try and do His will in everything. I also started to really want to do fulltime Christian work when I was older. Well I wasn’t perfect from then on of course, but my whole attitude to life had changed – I wanted to please God in everything I did and really tried to put that desire into practice. This change also resulted in me having a big sort-out! I looked at different things I did, and tried to think whether they were pleasing to God. I threw a lot of novels out, lots of films, and lots of CDs. I decided I was spending too much time thinking about how much I wanted a boyfriend, and the romantic music I was listening to, the films I watched, and the books I read were not helping – so I got rid of them all!! And it had a great effect, as it really did help me to get my mind off that way of thinking. As a result of reading Isobel Kuhn’s biography I also committed to spending an hour with God every day, which again had an enormous impact on my life.

The scary thing about my story is that I have been so blessed by being brought up in a Christian home with loving and prayerful parents that I have more responsibility as a result. ‘For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.’ Luke 12:48

Mothers Are Angels In Training

My mother gave me this sweet and encouraging fridge magnet a while back. When I look at it, it makes me laugh and reminds me that my job isn’t easy, but it is very worthwhile and will also help me to grow!

Over the last few weeks I have been thinking a bit more about it. I read through 1 Corinthians 13 on love recently and it was like a light went on in my head as I realised that I have grown a lot. I don’t struggle half as much with some of these outworkings of love as I did before, though I still need a lot of work on them of course! For the last few years with small children I have been barely keeping my head above water, just struggling to get through each day as Sally Clarkson described so well recently. But it dawned on me that during this time even though it often seems like I’m in a tunnel, God has been helping me grow as I have sought to obey Him in the little things.

I have often read and heard that trials are supposed to produce good things in us and to make us more like Christ, for example: Romans 5:3 ‘tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.’ This has proven itself to be true in my life, and I have only just realised it because it has been so slow and so tough, and I’ve felt like I’ve been buried under mountains of nappy changing and cleaning up messes!! But the fruit of this period has been in my character, and was totally unexpected.

I think we are really all angels in training, because Jesus said that in heaven we would be like the angels, Matt 22:30! However I think mothers need special encouragement, as it can seem like all the work we do at times is so endless and all the messes return as soon as we clear them up, the laundry basket fills up again, the children misbehave again and so on… The children are a wonderful fruit of our labour, but added to that, WE are a fruit of our labour! As my husband so often says, ‘Marriage makes you realise how selfish you are, and kids even more so’. Relating to your spouse and dealing with your children all day really gives you great practice at putting Biblical love into action. If we will just keep putting one foot in front of the other, seeking to obey God every day and fulfil His calling in our lives however humdrum of an existence that is, we will be rewarded not just by seeing our sin, but also by growing in our character.

We can apply this principle to all the trials we go through, as God will work in our lives through all our problems if we will respond to them rightly. Charles Stanley said, ‘Valley experiences are the most profitable times of learning for the child of God’. I hope this will turn our attention away from the difficulties of motherhood and anything else we may be going through, towards what God is doing through it. ‘For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.’ 2 Corinthians 4:17,18

How I Learned To Forgive

I’m not anywhere near perfect in this area yet but there was a definite time in my life when I learned a big lesson in forgiveness, and went from wanting to kill someone to being able to smile at and talk to them, knowing I had forgiven them, and it changed how I forgave people from then on. Here is my story, with specifics about the situation left out.

Quite a number of years ago there was a man that caused something that hurt me so much that I cried every night for weeks on end. It wasn’t a horrific abuse or anything criminal, thankfully, but it was something that was very hard for me emotionally. I was so upset, hurt, and angry that I really wanted to kill him! I must have felt like this for a long time, because I think it wasn’t till about a year later when I was reading my Bible that I came across something that hit me hard. I want to make a plug here for reading through the whole Bible (I have followed the M’Cheyne Calendar for over 15 years now) – I really don’t know how long it would have taken for me to be convicted on this situation if I hadn’t been reading like that.

The part I was reading at the time was Joseph’s story in Genesis. Joseph had been sold into slavery by his brothers, which then led to him being cast into jail in Egypt. Of course he did get out of there and ended up 2nd in command in the entire country of Egypt, but many people in that situation would have been bitter and resentful. But what Joseph said to his brothers, and this is what stabbed at my heart, was, ‘You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.’ Genesis 50:20. He forgave them and realised God had a purpose in all of it. I was convicted that I should not be holding this in my heart against this man, feeling bitter, angry and resentful. And even though this man had not repented I felt strongly that God was telling me I needed to forgive him anyway.

So then I thought, ‘How?’. I felt so angry still that it was hard to think I even could. So I prayed that God would help me to forgive him. Later on that day or the next day, I can’t quite remember, I was still praying and thinking about it, and then I just felt that it was OK again. I didn’t feel mad, and I felt like I had forgiven him – God had answered my prayer. But of course this was all in my thoughts – how did I know that it wouldn’t be different if I actually saw him in person? So I prayed that God would give me an opportunity to meet him and talk to him, so that I could know in my heart that I had forgiven him – crazy I know, but I just felt I wanted that assurance!

Anyway, the amazing thing is that the very same day I got an e-mail from a friend asking me to come to an event which he would be at, and I hadn’t seen him for at least a year! So of course I accepted, in fear and trembling. Then when it came time for the event, I prayed that I would have a chance to talk to him and be friendly so I would know that my heart was right, and again God answered my prayer and though neither of us brought up the issue from the past, I smiled and was friendly and I knew everything was OK. And it was a wonderful feeling to not have those feelings against someone anymore!! And what’s funny is that years down the line I can understand a lot more why he did what he did anyway, I just didn’t see all that at the time.

I want to encourage you if you have something against someone not to wait for them to ask for forgiveness but to forgive them in your heart anyway. And also to remember that love keeps no record of wrongs, and covers over sins. While some things that people do mean that wisely we should steer clear of them in the future or do certain things differently, we can still forgive them. And true forgiveness means doing your best to forget it and not bring it up again anymore, just like God: ‘As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.’ Ps 103:12 – an amazing verse.

What Do We Let Our Eyes See?

David said, “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes” Ps 101:3 and also prayed that God would ‘turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things’ Ps 119:37. I have long believed that it is really important we are careful what we watch, read and listen to because it all has an influence on our thoughts. If we can keep the wrong things from entering our minds then it is so much easier to think the right thoughts, which lead to speech, and actions. Greg Laurie said ‘How does temptation come? Primarily through the doorway of the mind’.

I think a really big way that we can guard our hearts is by actively thinking about which films and TV programs we watch. Here are some guidelines I use:

1. Look at the rating

Kind of obvious, but very useful! I have a personal rule that I won’t watch anything above a PG though there are occasional exceptions. This has come from getting fed up of walking out in the middle! Most stuff above that is either violent, scary, sexual or has cursing, none of which are very helpful. The back of the DVD, if you have it, also usually has the reasons why it is rated that way which gives you an idea of the content.

2. Look at the storyline

The film might be a Universal rating, but be all about two people who are already married falling in love with someone else and sleeping with them, or the story of a criminal that makes him look good. Often the storyline is not really pure and God-honouring. I just read a statistic that said ‘89% of all sex on TV occurs outside of marriage’!

3. Look at a good review

Most times when I’m considering watching a film now I go to Plugged In Online – a really cool website of Focus On The Family. Some brave reviewer watches all the films that come out and then reviews them with a summary of its positive and negative elements to help us make informed decisions. This has put me off watching quite a few films which otherwise I might have watched and then regretted or walked out of!

4. Think Biblically

‘Therefore whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God’ Col 3:23. I sometimes think if Jesus came back and I was sitting watching this film would he be pleased? And is what I’m doing glorifying God?

Even more convicting is Phil 4:8 ‘Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.’ This verse has led me to set aside an awful lot of things I might otherwise have watched, and I now tend to watch things that people would call ‘wholesome’ as they more often go along with this verse.

5. Know what you struggle with

Everyone has different temptations that are worse for them than for others, so while I believe we need to be careful of all these areas, some we need to be particularly careful in! If you’re struggling with cursing then films with curse words in will probably make it worse. And the same with other temptations.

6. Be OK with walking out

It’s better to walk out of a bad film and put up with what your friends say than live with it haunting you or affecting you in ways you may not even be aware of. And if necessary you can shut your eyes – here is a great promise: ‘He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, He who despises the gain of oppressions, Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, And shuts his eyes from seeing evil: He will dwell on high; His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; Bread will be given him, His water will be sure. Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; They will see the land that is very far off.’ Isaiah 33:15-17

Are You Willing To Go It Alone?

I just watched ‘Prince Caspian’ where C.S. Lewis draws a very challenging picture of our walk with Christ. When Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy try to find the crossing of the river to go and help Prince Caspian, Lucy sees Aslan the lion, who is symbolic of Christ. She tells the others that she has seen him and he is telling them to go that way. But the way looks impossible – down a tall cliff with no visible path, and they don’t see him. So they don’t believe her and go a different way. After a long journey the other way they get met with arrows fired at them and have to quickly retreat. They end up going back the way that Lucy told them to, having delayed their journey considerably by their detour. Later on Lucy meets Aslan and tells him that she would have followed him, but the others didn’t believe her.

Here is what happens next, from the book: ‘From somewhere deep inside Aslan’s body there came the faintest suggestion of a growl. “I’m sorry,” said Lucy, who understood some of his moods. “I didn’t mean to start slanging the others. But it wasn’t my fault anyway, was it?” The Lion looked straight into her eyes. “Oh Aslan,” said Lucy, “You don’t mean it was? How could I – I couldn’t have left the others and come up to you alone, how could I? Don’t look at me like that… oh well, I suppose I could. Yes, and it wouldn’t have been alone, I know, not if I was with you. But what would have been the good?” Aslan said nothing. “You mean,” said Lucy rather faintly, “that it would have turned out all right – somehow? But how? Please, Aslan! Am I not to know?” “To know what would have happened, child?” said Aslan. “No. Nobody is ever told that.” ‘

I think many times in the Christian life God calls us to do something, just like Aslan called Lucy to go that way. But we don’t go because other people don’t agree or do the same, and we are scared of going by ourselves. This has challenged me every time I’ve read it or watched it to remember that I CAN go by myself. And I SHOULD if it is something I am sure God is telling me to do. He will be with me – it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or does.