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Monday, 31 January 2011

The Year in Review

I know I'm a little late doing this, but it's the first time I've had a chance to sit down this year and really review what's been going on - despite promising myself that I would take the time to do so quarterly!


So much has happened that I'm going to be mostly working in bullet point form. Not beautiful, but it is efficient. :D


In 2010 we:

  • Added Elisha to our family
  • Moved halfway across the country
  • Matt graduated his PGCE
  • Started a new job
  • Joined a new church
  • Invited a cell group to meet in our home
  • Started a new bible study group
  • We bought our first house
  • Joined a homeschool co-operative
  • Took part in a documentary about young Christians
  • Started 'man training' (discipleship group) for sixth formers
  • Organised our finances more efficiently
  • Found a new mentor
  • Begun discipling/mentoring three young women
  • Returned to leading worship (informally)
  • Home made many gifts (wedding, birthdays, Christmas)
  • Become more intentional about Wills education
  • Started a reading program with Elisha

So looking forward our goals for 2011 are to...

  • Renovate our house in preparation for residence
  • Become Involved with a more local HE network
  • Support a friends new bible study group
  • Take time to make more sentimental and home made gifts for people
  • Set aside regular 'lesson' time for Will
  • Give more financially
  • Set up garden to grow some food
  • Practice my sugar crafting skills so that I can make my sister the beautiful wedding cake she deserves
  • Take more control over my thought life
  • Be more intentional about keeping contact with specific women I am supporting (at least weekly)
  • Blog regularly and keep you all up to date


Friday, 28 January 2011

Treasure Hunting

We've been talking a lot about 'treasure hunting' at our church recently. It was invented (or at least publicized) by a guy called Kevin Dedmon at Bethel Church in California. Basically what you do on a treasure hunt is spend some time asking God to give you thoughts, images or promptings of things like places, names, the way a person appears and what they might need prayer for. You write these things down on your “Treasure Map” and then go out to look for people to minister to based on the clues that God gave you.

That's all great, but it's not the kind of treasure hunting I wanted to talk about. Sorry if you're disappointed.


I'm excited about treasure that I find in the bible, and by treasure, I mean types.


There are prophecy geeks out there who spend hours scouring the bible for hidden messages that might reveal something about the future, but I'm a typology geek. I get really excited about finding a new type that fits. Small, seemingly insignificant details, which then fit the meta-narrative to an astounding degree of accuracy are enough to make me want to jump up and down and and squeal with delight (genuinely, I'm not exaggerating)!

So I was particularly excited when Cat introduced me to one I hadn't spotted before in Genesis 22. It's the classic story of Abraham being called to sacrifice Isaac, but then at the last minute God stops him and provides a ram instead.


I love this passage because it's full of types:

i) Abraham - God the Father, sacrificing his 'only' son

ii) Isaac - Jesus (the willing sacrifice nb. Isaac was a young man, not a child)

iii) Eleazer - the Holy Spirit, going to gather Isaac's gentile bride

iv) Rebecca - gentile bride/church

v) 3 days between Isaac being pronounced 'dead' to Abraham and being restored/'resurrected' (heb 11:19)

vi) the place where it happens is likely the exact spot where Christ was crucified


And there's loads more, but what I had missed was that Isaac had to carry the wood, just like Jesus had to carry the cross, and that Abraham carried the knife and the fire, just as God the Father holds the judgement. Wow.


If you've never looked into it before, the bible is full of types like this, where a seemingly innocent historic event is loaded full of codes and meaning. I really recommend you get into it in your study, not least of all because Revelation makes NO sense unless you do, but because it is fascinating and complex and clearly displays evidence of God's design throughout the entire bible.


If you want to get started, try Joseph as a type of Jesus. There are hundreds of ways he can be paralleled and I'm sure I've yet to exhaust them. Lots can be found if you google it, but that's cheating ;)

If you are looking for something a little more advanced try Numbers 21 and the bronze serpent incident (hint: John 3:14-16). Matthew Henry's commentary lists the parallels in phenomenal detail.

This is a great group assignment for your kids too if you home educate, or even in family devotionals if you don't. You'll be amazed at what other people spot that you missed and vice versa.


I can't remember who said it, but there is a quote that says the Bible is deep enough for a man to swim in, but shallow enough for a child to wade in. It works on so many levels, and is completely inexhaustable, but totally accessible.


Have fun!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Rollercoaster week

Ever had a roller coaster week? I've had one this week. It's been an insane week full of blessings and could-be disasters followed by more blessings!

Yesterday in particular was crazy, it was the day we had a very important interview (wont find out how we got on until next week, but we'll be sure to let you know). It started out waking up alone, as it turned out Elisha had been teething, so Matt had taken her downstairs so she wouldn't wake me up, but consequently had very little sleep himself :(


He then had to leave in a hurry and barely got to see Will as he was going to an inset day at another school, but pointed out to me that our wheelie bin has been stolen. For his part, Will was incredibly helpful all morning, loading and unloading laundry, putting the dryer on and mopping the kitchen floor, all without being asked :D but then I broke a glass whilst unloading the dishwasher, cutting my hand fairly badly and passing out. Poor Will was terrified, and put himself to bed, but refused to let me come in his room because he didn't want to see the blood.


My sister attempted to drive over and help me with clean up, only to get stopped in a road that the Police closed off around her due to an accident further ahead. When she did get here I managed to go to the interview with Matt, but was feeling fairly unwell, and my hand was still quite heavily bleeding (some 3 hours on). I think the interview went quite well, but we had to end it a little early, because I thought I was going to pass out.

Some great friends came to the rescue (with no notice) to babysit so that Matt could take me to the hospital (no way could I drive) and I felt really glad to have such wonderful people around us.


Another friend reminded me of the story of Gideon, which incidentally I'd been teaching Will about this week. Maybe things seemed to conspire against us, and maybe that was God's way of letting me know that He was in charge, and if we get this job, it will be not on our own merit, but by His goodness.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

How not to faint when doing well...

What causes us to start home schooling with excitement and enthusiasm and then as the days pile one on top of each other our enthusiasm wanes? Sometimes the day-to-day drudgery seems too much to bear. The children seem to whine continually and the house never stays clean for longer than thirty minutes.


There are days that we just feel like crying and giving up.


Then to add to the burden, one of our dearest friends may have just put their children into school and she is singing the praises of how wonderful her children are doing and how much more they are learning than when they were at home. How she finally has some 'me' time and is looking forward to going back to work, getting her career on track and socialising in the 'real world'.

Why not? Why not just give up this daily battle and find an easier life? The thought of a whole day to ourselves is alluring and we find ourselves becoming more and more dissatisfied with the daily battles we face. Surely, we could use the extra income that would be available from having two full time earners in the family?


This scenario can be seen not only in home schooling but in many areas of our life. The dissatisfaction with the routine of staying at home compared to the attraction of being a working woman. It could be to give up on a marriage that seems hopeless. Or to tire from the daily consistency that is called for in training children.


My own personal struggles will be different from yours, but I believe that we all fight the same temptation - which is to give up when things get rough. The more I think and pray about it, the more I realize that I fight this battle of feeling overwhelmed and discouraged continually in one or more areas of my life, it has little to do with my circumstances. Many times I am tossed to and fro for several days because I follow my emotions instead of turning to God for strength.


The enemy of our souls has many ways of distracting us from the duties God has called us to. He causes our duties to look dull. We may see our neighbours leaving for work in their shiny new cars and dropping their children at day care while we are left home with our screaming kids and a buggy with a flat tyre. Their homes always look perfectly presentable while we find it difficult to keep the sinks shiny (FLY lady mums, you know what I'm talking about ;))


Satan may suggest to us that our home schooling is worthless. He whispers, 'What are you really accomplishing anyway? Your children will be weird and their not very clever anyway. Your ruining their education and their social life.' Or we may just be bored with the whole routine. The same routine, day after day, after day - never ending!


What I am sharing with you this month is not from a someone who has conquered this enemy of discouragement. I give into weariness. I'm often overwhelmed and feel like giving up. I become discouraged with my workload and covet an easier life. I have never worked outside my home for any length of time and have found running a home business exhausting. I don't know what God's will is for the future, but I have prayed for the past 4 years that the Lord would show me how to not become discouraged when the pressure is on. So, what I'm sharing is really a sermon to myself!


I found two scriptures that I am committing to memorization:


"He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength." Isaiah 40:29

The Hebrew word for faint is ya`aph, which means to tire as if from a wearisome flight.


"Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. 2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I." Psalm 61:1-2


The Hebrew word in Psalm 61:2 for overwhelmed means 'faint' or to fail. I laughed when I saw that one of the meanings of overwhelmed was faint. I pictured myself throwing the back of my hand up to my forehead, all Scarlet O'hara, and then fainting just because I felt I'd never accomplish all that needed to be done!

Hope lies in both of these Psalms because they teach that God gives power to the faint, increases our strength and leads us to the rock that is higher than our current difficulties. Notice that it is He that leads us to that higher rock that becomes our safe refuge. God never wearies nor grows faint so our strength is to be found in Him


"Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary?" Isaiah 40:28


When God gives us power we can rest assured that it will be exactly what we need for our situation. He never gives us a measure of power that is not sufficient to overcome the difficulty at hand. His power is all-sufficient. He will give us all the power that is required.


His Word says, 'As thy days, so shall thy strength be.' Dueteronomy 33:25


The strength God gives can not be defeated by the devil and it shall be ours as long as we need it. So what causes us to faint in the face of hardship?


The heart sin behind fainting is doubt and unbelief. Basically we are saying that we do not believe that God is able to fulfill His promises or strengthen us for what He has called us to do.


We know in our hearts we are called to home school but we begin to entertain thoughts of doubt. We go round and round with the thoughts of doubt until we are so confused that we talk ourselves out of even knowing our first name let alone if we are called to home school.


The cure for fainting is faith. We must ask ourselves why we doubt God? Did He not call us? Then why do we not trust His faithfulness to provide the exact amount of strength for what each day holds? Why do we distrust His faithfulness?


David said, 'I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.' Psalm 27:13


Charles Spurgeon wrote:


"... your doubt concerning God's power sets up a new god. Do you start in alarm at that statement? It is true, for that which is mightiest in the world is God; but if there be anything which surpasses the power of God, something that is more potent than omnipotence, that something must be god! Jesus said, 'Believest now that I am able to do this?' Matt 9:28 True faith believes that Jesus is able to sustain me under this temptation and to strengthen me to accomplish that which He has asked me to do."


Our feelings and emotions are strong. At times they seem overpowering. In a sense, they can run our lives if we have not trained ourselves to live by the Word instead of our emotions.


Especially as women, we deal with this weakness more than men. I am especially weakened by this during my monthly cycle. If we are not disciplined and live by principles instead of our feelings we find ourselves giving into every whim. We don't feel like having school, so we plan a shopping day. If we feel depressed, we mope and sin by focusing all our thoughts on ourselves instead of denying ourselves and looking to see who we can serve. This is one reason we need to govern ourselves by God's Word and to bring ourselves under our husband's authority.


Our decisions need to be made by God's Word and under our husband's direction, not by what we are experiencing in our emotions, otherwise we become a 'basket case' driving ourselves crazy, and our husbands right along with us. Once we have determined to do God's will, then our will must deal with our feelings.


Jesus left us a an incredible example of will vs feelings on the night before His crucifixion. His feelings were nearly overpowering as a human being. The battle was raging between His flesh and His desire to do God's will. Praise God He desired to do God's will above giving into His feelings.


Fainting during difficult times may also arise from another sinful cause: lack of prayer.

Jesus said, 'Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.' Luke 18:1


This seems to imply that if we do not pray that we will faint.


'But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.' Isaiah 40:29-31


Here lies our choice: to either wait upon God through prayer for strength or to be overpowered and faint. God knows exactly what measure of day to press us to Him. (Psalm 16:5) He has assigned every minute of my day and hours. I know that if my days were more manageable that I would not have to lean on Him. But, I am pressed to Him when the day seems impossible to live out in my own strength.


Normally, I am sending up prayers as I'm running about trying to accomplish everything. But, many times I do not find strength until I head for my bedroom and spend some time focussed and alone, crying out to God to rescue me. Then, a flood of peace soothes my soul within minutes and I let out a big sigh!


One of the commentaries I read from expressed a note that we should be thankful if we have fainted because God gives HIS power to the faint. I never thought of being thankful for fainting. I don't believe that I am to give up daily just so God's power will come on the scene. I believe this teaches that we are to glory in the fact that we are weak because then we know that the power of Christ will rest upon us.


'Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.' 2 Corinthians 12:9


Let us pray for each other to be done with fainting when things get tough. Instead let us receive God's power and seek to live in His divine strength and might.


And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." Galatians 6:9

Monday, 3 January 2011

B90x


P90x: A revolutionary home fitness program
In just 90 days, you can get back in shape, or build the body you've always wanted. All you need is a set of dumbbells or resistance bands, a pull-up bar, and about an hour a day. No gym membership required.

This advertisement for the fitness program that is taking America by storm was the inspiration behind B90x - a revolutionary bible reading program developed by Brian Jackson. His rationale? If P90x can make a radical difference in just 90 days, then B90x will surely do the same... or more!

I heard about B90x via twitter. It seems there is a large group of housewives committing to take on reading the whole bible in just 90 days, starting today. I'm really excited about giving it a go. This will be on top of studying (because reading at that pace won't allow you to get into a detailed study), good morning girls (because I am committed to those women), family devotionals and book club.

WOW. When will I have time to refurbish my house? Good question. 

But I'm convinced that if I make time for God and the study of his word, everything else will just fall into place. I'm not really sure if I'll make it all the way through. It seems pretty daunting, but I'm really looking forward to giving it a go and seeing how it goes. 

If you want to join me in this adventure, the program is availablehere.  Leave me a message so I know you're doing it too and we can discuss it. 

 
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