Sunday, January 24, 2010

My Ta-Da List

I'm shamelessly robbing this idea from the de-cluttering group on Ravelry.

Where my head's at at the moment writing a to-do list seems too daunting and I wouldn't be able to handle it. I'm half way through my teaching placement, 2 weeks to go and I've run out of my own resources. One part of me is freaking out. Another part of me knows that God can use what little I have to do a lot.

So, instead of writing a to-do list of all the lesson plans, schemes of work and resources I have to do, I'm starting to write down my ta-das for the day. Sometimes that can be as little as:
  • Get out of bed
  • Get washed and dressed
  • Go to the shop
  • Eat
  • Go on the internet
Sometimes it's less than that, other times it's more. But writing down what I have done rather than what is yet to be done gives a much bigger sense of achievement to me than scratching off entries on a to-do list, knowing that I won't reach the end of the list today, or even ever.

So... so far today I have:
  • Got out of bed
  • Got washed and dressed
  • Made lunch
  • Answered a text
  • Wrote a blog
  • Had a good chat with my Mum
Wow! All that and I haven't even been out of bed an hour! lol

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Loving the Prodigal Son

Luke 15:11-32

And Jesus said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

I love this parable. Last night I was thinking about it again and new meanings and depths started to emerge. First, a little bit of background. I believe that this parable speaks of eternal security. The prodigal son was always a son, even though he squandered his inheritance/reward and even though he didn't seek to be reinstated as a son. The father was so, so happy to see him. Think about it. Our Father, God in heaven, does not sit with His arms folded, an angry look on His face waiting for us to slip up so that He can punish us. There are natural consequences for sin, but our Daddy in heaven is patiently waiting for us to return to Him so that we can be reinstated into fellowship with Him in this life. The prodigal would always be a son whether or not he was reunited with his father in this life, always.

Last night I got to thinking about how this parable applies to the Body of Christ in this life. I got to thinking about modern day prodigals, people who are born-again into God's adoptive family but who slip away from fellowship with their brothers and sisters and even from God. People who struggle with anger, addiction, reclusiveness, brokenness, abuse... people who just don't seem to fit into churches. God loves them. If they are born-again, He will never leave or forsake them and nothing (not even themselves) will snatch them from His hand or separate them from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. They have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and Christ lives in them, the hope of glory. Same as you or me.

What about the faithful son, the one who is also born-again into God's adoptive family but who is obedient to His Father, does His will in this life, is faithful with everything his Father has given him. God also loves them. He will never leave or forsake them and nothing (not even themselves) will snatch them from His hand or separate them from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. They have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and Christ lives in them, the hope of glory. Same as you or me!

So what gives the faithful son the right to criticise his Father's love for the prodigal son? What gives me the right to stand in judgement over a brother or sister whom God loves, has justified, sanctified and glorified, whom He has died for? So called "good" Christians need grace just as much as "hopeless" or "bad" ones. Good Christians were just as damned before they were born of the Spirit of God. We all have besetting sins and faults, some of them are imperceptible to other people, others wreak havoc and wreck lives. And how do we in the church deal with this kind of besetting sin in others? We call it a demon and try to cast it out. We have prayer meetings and pray against it, we fast and pray.

When did Jesus ever command us to cast demons out of eachother? He commanded us to love one another. That's much harder than calling in the local deliverance minister who probably doesn't know the person and will probably never see them again. It's much hard to accept a brother/sister as they are and just love them. Love them? How? 1 Cor. 13


  • can be patient with them
  • can be kind to them
  • don't have to envy anything about them
  • don't have to brag to anyone that I'm loving them
  • don't have to be arrogant towards them (I'm saved by grace too, remember?)
  • don't have to act unbecomingly towards them
  • can't have ulterior motives in relation to them
  • don't have to be easily provoked by anything they say/do
  • don't have to hold anything against them (God doesn't)
  • don't have to rejoice when they mess up and say "I told you so"
  • can rejoice when the truth of God's Word changes the way they live/feel about themselves
  • can put up with them
  • can believe in them
  • can hope that God will heal them
  • can endure all things with them
  • don't have to give up on them
That's hard to do all the time with someone I like. That's really hard to do all the time with someone I don't like. In fact, it's impossible. But I've been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I that live but He lives in me and the life I now lead I lead by the faith of the Son of God! Christ (God) is love and as I relax into His salvation, His life can start to manifest through the earthen vessel that is my body. Praise Jesus :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Curse of Eve

Was recently reading Genesis 3:16. Had read it before in more than one translation but this was the first time I'd read it in the KJV: "Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception". I will greatly increase thy conception? Other translations, including the NIV, translate it thus: "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing". Hang on a minute, these are saying two completely different things. The KJV seems to suggest that conception would happen more frequently, while the NIV seems to suggest that child-birth would be more painful.

I decided to google commentaries on Genesis 3:16 and most of them didn't deal with this specific issue, until I stumbled across this article from "gracethrufaith". For me, it settled the issue in my heart that nowadays, post fall, women conceive more frequently than they would have done pre-fall. Women were not originally designed to have 20+ babies, this is a result of our fallen nature.

That said, I'm not looking down on couples who have decided to go contraception free and have large families. The Duggar family has a really good website outlining their reasons for doing so and I bless them for it, I don't think they're doing anything wrong or sinful. They are raising their children in the way of the Lord- that is admirable and God will bless them for it. I'm also not standing in judgement over couples who decide to contracept in order to devote more time and energy to fewer children.

I do think it's important to know how different methods of contraception work in order to make an informed choice. E.g. until last year I hadn't realised that hormonal contraception (like the Pill and IUD) can work abortively (they do not allow a fertilised egg, a foetus, to implant). I know of one couple who use the Pill, knowing it's abortive properties, but they get around this by using a barrier method (condom or diaphragm) when they know the wife is ovulating (which is easier to calculate and measure when the menstrual cycle is regulated by the Pill.

My own mind isn't made up on family planning at the moment, except that I don't think I would be able for 6 kids never mind 20! As a single woman it's not an issue for me now but it's good to at least have an idea about it before I do get married :)

God bless,
Handmaiden of Adonai

Monday, January 4, 2010

Looking Back Over 2009

Where do I begin? 2009 has been the most fun, most traumatic, most spiritually fruitful, most painful and most healing year I've ever had. Most of 2009 has been coloured by falling in love with, getting engaged to and breaking up with Ollie, a truly remarkable, wonderful man... who struggles with addiction. Watching him fall into addiction and all the behaviour that goes with that was hard but even harder was watching the reactions of some of my close friends towards him, some of whom who have struggled with addiction themselves. But, God was at work in our relationship. Within the instability, unpredictability and pain of this relationship, I learned so much about myself.
  • I struggle hugely with trusting other people & trusting God.
  • Yet at the same time I try to please everybody.
  • Many of my actions have been driven by an intense fear (worry, anxiety, terror) that I didn't even know was there.
  • This led to me leading people to believe that I am stress-free, coping very well and generally a very stable person while inside I am despairing. It also led to the fragmentation of different areas of my life: college, home, church, boyfriend. I didn't allow any of these areas to interact with eachother. My mum doesn't know anything about my church, I won't let anyone from my church meet my college friends, etc. It takes a lot of stress and energy to carve up your life like that and strive to keep them separate. This often led to me not being able to/wanting to get up in the morning.
  • I really don't want to teach religion in schools- it stresses me out, I find it very difficult & I don't want to put myself in a position where people could accuse me of brainwashing their kids. I'd prefer to be able to be completely upfront about my beliefs and teach English, possibly resource English (can you believe that there are people who go through the Irish education system and graduate being functionally illiterate?!). I'd prefer people to know that I am a born-again Christian and not think I'm being deceptive or have furtive motives for teaching religion. 1 Peter 3:15 "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you" How will people see the hope that is in me? I want them to see a woman who is fully alive in Christ, not a woman who is stressed out because she is trying to save the world (God has already done that).
  • God will never leave me or reject me- I really believed that He would love me, take care of me and then at some point leave me on my own.
  • People's real expectations of me can be very different from the expectations I perceive them to have.
  • I don't have to fight every battle, I can even avoid most of them. This past year I had very heavy (sometimes spiritual) battles on every front: family, church, college, personal health & well-being. Some of these were unneccessary.
  • I need to talk to people and let them know where my head is at. I don't mean accountability where someone else is keeping tabs on my behaviour, I mean I need to get things off my chest so that they don't get repressed and affect my emotional/mental/physical health.
  • I can hit rock bottom and God is there, closer than He ever was. There is no depth I can fall to where He cannot carry me. He is more than strong enough to carry me and my burdens!
  • I am beautiful.
  • I am worthy to be loved.
  • I am worth taking care of.
  • I thought I could heal Ollie of his addiction. I really thought that if I prayed hard enough, loved him enough and took care of him that that would deliver him from addiction. I can't. Only God can do that. He does it instantly for some people. Other people struggle through it and eventually get free. Some never get free. This doesn't affect their salvation or spiritual growth, but it does alienate them from other people and especially the church. The church in general doesn't know how to love these people. We need to learn because God has given them to us to take care of, not to wave a magic wand and heal them but to take them where they are, love them and walk alongside them. Am I saying that this is easy? Definitely not, but God has told us to love one another.
  • If it weren't for Ollie coming into my life I would have kept struggling along thinking that living this way was normal (at least for me). It frightens me to think that if it hadn't been for his intervention (and God working through him) I could quite easily have ended up on valium, in a looney-bin or dead. I'm not looking for sympathy, I'm just telling it like it is. I bless God for him.
These thoughts culminated in the following conclusions:
  • I don't have to teach religion, nor do I want to.
  • If I am so stressed and run-down that I can't function, I can't help anybody.
  • I don't have to say yes to everything.
  • I now have a number of female friends who I'm learning to confide in.
  • I can be truthful with myself and others without being afraid of offending anybody. I can ask difficult questions of myself or other people. Jesus said that the truth makes us free. Being truthful with myself gives me a freedom I've never experienced before.
  • Preaching the gospel does not necessarily mean leading thousands of people to Christ, it can also mean leading one person to Christ and walking alongside them for a few years or even a lifetime and loving them unconditionally. The journey does not end at being born-again, it has only just begun and each of us needs support and teaching and love right until God calls us home again.
  • "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20 My flesh is dead. I don't have to rely on myself for anything. Jesus lives in me, in my body, and is strong enough to live this Christian life for me. This is not a cop out, it's not denying my responsibilities, it's a recognition that I don't have to strive anymore. I can submit to Him, lean on Him and trust Him to carry me through everything. "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest." Hebrews 4:9-11 I really need rest. When God created the world He said that there was evening and morning after each of the first six days. On the seventh day He rested, but He doesn't say that there was evening and morning on this day. He is still resting and I can rest in Him. I can be free from fear and I can rest in Him. How amazing is that?!
So, where does all of this leave me? At the moment I feel like someone has tried to play the xylophone on the inside of my ribs with a spoon, I feel exhausted and I am constantly running to God with my fears. But at the same time, I feel hopeful. Open-heart surgery takes a while to recover from and I've had a lot of open-heart surgery this year.

To finish, here are a couple of quotes I found in a book I was reading last night, "God's Provision" by Charles R. Swindoll.

  • "Our English word 'worry' is from the German 'worgen' which in that tongue means 'to strangle'".
  • "Jesus dropped by His friends' home in Bethany. He was, no doubt, tired after a full day, so nothing meant more to Him than having a quiet place to relax with friends who would understand. However, Martha, one of the friends, truned the occasion into a mild frenzy. To make matters worse for her, Martha's sister Mary was so pleased to have the Lord visit their home that she sat with Him and evidenced little concern over her sister's anxiety attack... Mary's simple faith, in contrast to her sister's panic, won the Savior's affirmation. What is wrong with worry? It is incompatible with faith. They just don't mix."
  • "We just take life one day at a time. That's the way God dispenses life. Because He never changes and He knows what will work together for good. You and I don't."
  • "God is never at a loss to know what He's going to do in our situations. He knows perfectly well what is best for us. Our problem is, we don't know."
  • "Not even becoming a Christian erases our imperfections. We still make mistakes-even dumb mistakes. But, thank God, forgiveness gives us hope. We still need a lot of it."
  • "Contrary to popular opinion, God doesn't sit in heaven with His jaws clenched, His arms folded in disapproval, and a deep frown on His brow. He is not ticked off at His children for all the times we trip over our tiny feet and fall flat on our diapers... He is a loving Father, and we are precious in His sight, the delight of His heart."
Here's to a year of peace, refreshing and just living.
Grace & Peace (Shalom)