Thursday, November 27, 2008

This Momentary Marriage

John Piper has completed his book on marriage, called This Momentary Marriage. I have been eager to see it as I have listened to a number of his sermons on marriage, this book stems from some of these. Some of these sermons have significantly changed my perspective and purpose for marriage.

You can download the book for free from the Desiring God website through this link. Through this link you will also be able to download the sermons on marriage.

Here are some of the chapter headings to stir up your interest!

Staying married is not mainly about staying in love

Forgiving and Forbearing

Lionhearted and Lamblike—The Christian Husband as Head: Foundations of Headship

Lionhearted and Lamblike—The Christian Husband as Head: What Does It Mean to Lead?

The Beautiful Faith of Fearless Submission

Single in Christ: A Name Better Than Sons and Daughters

Singleness, Marriage, and the Christian Virtue of Hospitality

Faith and Sex in Marriage

Marriage Is Meant for Making Children . . . Disciples of Jesus: How Absolute Is the Duty to Procreate?

Marriage Is Meant for Making Children . . . Disciples of Jesus: The Conquest of Anger in Father and Child

What God Has Joined Together, Let Not Man Separate: The Gospel and the Radical New Obedience

What God Has Joined Together, Let Not Man Separate: The Gospel and the Divorced

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Are you longing for home?

I have just finished our book club book 'In light of eternity - Perspectives on Heaven' by Randy Alcorn. What a life changing book!

It has been so exciting to read about our real Home, the one God is preparing for us.

Alcorn writes, "Like a bride's dream of sharing a home with her groom, our love for heaven should be overflowing and contagious, just as our love for God should be (Revelation 19:7). Our passion for God and our passion for heaven should be inseparable. The more I learn about God, the more excited I get about heaven. The more I learn about heaven the more excited I get about God.

How it must wound the heart of our bridegroom to see us clinging to this roach-infested hovel called earth, dreading the thought of leaving it, when he has hand built a magnificent estate for us, a place beautiful and wondrous beyond measure."

When we are blown away by an amazing sunrise or sunset, or marvel at great mountains and canyons we can praise God and 'these will prove to be but rough sketches of heaven'.

When we enjoy a night of sincere Christian fellowship it's only a glimpse of the deep rich, fellowship we will experience in heaven for an eternity.

When we take a bite of a fresh home grown tomato and delight in it's sweetness it's only a small taste of the food we will one day feast on in our everlasting home.

When we participate in an uplifting time of worship with our fellow believers that too is only a glimpse of what our worship will be like when we worship Him face to face with the entire body of Christ.

This earth is not our home! I am so thankful for the foretastes and glimpses He gives us of what is to come, and the dissatisfaction of worldly possessions and experiences remind me that deep inside I am longing for another place. A place where our bridge groom will be and where there will be no more tears because there will be nothing to be sad about.

"We spend our lives longing for this person and this place. Just as people restlessly move from relationship to relationship seeking the person they were made for, they move from location to location seeking the place they were made for. Somewhere new and better. A bigger house. A different city. The suburbs. A new neighbourhood - safer, nicer, with better schools. That dream house in the country. That idyllic mountain chalet. That perfect beach cottage.

Think about it - we have the very answers the world is crying out for, yet our wrong views of God's person and God's place silence and distort our message. What a triumph for Satan that we would actually pass on to our churches, our children, and our world a dreary view of heaven - and by implication a dreary view of God. "

Our view of eternity impacts everything we think, desire, say and do.

What a comfort....
To know that God and His saints are watching, cheering, praying for us.

To know that one day we will be rewarded for sincere, humble faithfulness to Him.

To know that one day we will be reunited with our friends and family, we will meet the faithful saints of the past, matyrs from oppressed countries, and millions of unborn children who will be dancing around heaven.

To know that God is preparing a place for each of us, unique and individual to us (I can't wait to see how God has decorated mine just for me!)

To know that one day we will meet Him face to face and He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, no more pain, suffering, and our deepest longings will be met in that place.

The greatest weakness of the western church today is arguably our failure to think of the long tomorrow - to take seriously the reality that heaven is our home. Out of this springs our love affair with this world and our failure to live now in the light of eternity.

I have been challenged to live so much more in the light of eternity. All I do, think, desire, say, spend, do has an impact for eternity. So expect me to be talking a whole lot more about our eternal home!

At the end of the day all that we have, our spouse, our children, our family, our possessions, our freedom, could all be stripped away from us, but what lasts forever is our eternal place in Heaven, and our eternal relationship with God.

God wants us to long for that place, to dream of it, to look up into the clouds and imagine His return. Thoughts of heaven will most certainly give us a dissatisfaction with this world, but it should also stir up a sense of urgency to tell others of a God that wants to spend eternity with them.
I will finish with some questions I was challenged by.

How about you? Are you following the example of the saints by longing for heaven (Hebrews 11:13-16; 2 Corinthians 5:2)?

Are you cultivating a passion for God's place?

Is heaven and all it represents a central object of your attention?

Have you 'set your heart on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God' (Colossians 3:1)?

Is your heart's attention there, rather than on 'earthly things' (verse 2).

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding 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 4:16-18

Friday, November 21, 2008

A week without Rickey

So it's been one whole week since our precious dog Rickey died. I was surprised at how miserable and flat I was all last weekend and at the beginning of the week.

There's a part of me that felt really bad for feeling really bad (hope that makes sense). Here I was feeling very sad and despondent about my dog dying when there are so many other people around me and throughout the world experiencing such greater losses and hardships...But I can't pretend that it didn't impact me in a big way, thank you Julie for sharing your story about the bond you had with your dog.

Even though it has only been a week, I have to say that we have already started talking about our next dog. I couldn't talk to anyone about it for at least 3 or 4 days after she died, but now I have been giving it some serious thought, and discussion with my husband!

We definitely do want to get another dog, there was never any question about that. Whilst it is so convenient not having to look after a dog, the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

The question we are now facing is what kind of dog should we get. I have never really had the opportunity to pick any dog I want before. Rickey was a gift to us, so we never got to choose her, and my mum chose most of the dobermans we had (and there was never any other option but doberman!).

It's something we are both researching. We both have similar qualities that we would like in a dog, we just have differing opinions in what size (sometimes), colour, fur length, facial expressions...! We have both agreed that we don't want a small dog, I am used to having reasonably big dogs around, they provide me with a sense of protection. And of course it needs to get on well with children.

So out of interest sake, what are your thoughts on what kind of dog we should get? Any recommendations or suggestions?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The story of Aggie Hurst

I read this article article the other day written by Randy Alcorn.

I'd heard bits of this story before. A story of a young missionary couple who went to the Belgian Congo. After his wife died during child birth, he gave his baby away and returned home discouraged and angry at God.

Such an amazing story of how God used just one seed to reap a harvest.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Learning to walk slowly

I have been learning to breathe lately, to take things slowly, to take time to smell the roses...

A couple of weeks ago I had a good chat with a friend who has been dealing with sickness and upheavals in her life. She told me she had been reading a book I gave her over a year ago called, Breathe, and she has been challenged to slow down.

I am naturally a very driven person, and much to my husbands frustration at times, I am hardly every lazy! Mostly that's a good thing, except when it hinders me from stopping! I find it hard to sit still, to dawdle along (just like my eldest daughter loves to do!). When I am walking I need to do it quickly, when I am doing the dishes they have to be done as fast as possible so I can move quickly on to the next task.

One thing I try not to rush though is my interactions with others. I hate having to rush off to meet someone else, to dash off to another appointment etc. It's my family who unfortunately have to suffer with my quickness, my desire for efficiency and organisation! It is such a retraining of the mind, I have to stop and ask myself, why are you rushing?

Moments after my conversation with my friend, I found myself rushing once again. Of course I had good reason to, if I didn't 'hurry' I would be late to pick up kids from kindy, so I had to hurry along my daughter to the car, drive as efficiently (without speeding of course!) as possible, all because I didn't want to put out the kindy teachers who would have to wait a whole 10 minutes with my children because I was late! I felt a bit trapped on this drive home and had a real battle with my flesh and spirit, my flesh would mumble words under my breath when there was a red light, whilst my spirit was saying chill out, don't worry, go slow and enjoy the moment, the drive home with only 1 child in the car!

Now 2 weeks later, my days have still been busy and full, but I am trying to go through them slowly, I am learning how to breathe, my steps are intentionally slower. I am constantly telling myself to take it slow. Especially at those times when the kids are arguing about something, or demanding something from me, I take a deep breath and remind myself that this moment, what they are doing is not an interruption, but it is part of how I need to serve them. I need to train them and teach them to interact respectfully with each other, to ask for things politely etc.

In a book called Your God is too safe I was reminded about how Jesus lived.

Jesus was slow.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, come quickly, come now! Lazarus is dying, demons are wreaking havoc; people are hungry! Jesus, do something, and do it now!

But Jesus just strolls along, talking to this blind beggar showing kindness to that prostitute, taking a nap, eating a meal. As Philip Yancey says, the one person who never suffered from a Messiah Complex - an anxiety about having to fix the world - was the Messiah. Jesus took time and took his time.

I love that last sentence, Jesus took time and took his time. When I think about how it must have been for Jesus, I can't imagine Him ever rushing from one thing to another.

I know that sometimes when I am rushing and hurrying everyone along its because I am not trusting and waiting on God. When I am waiting and trusting I seem to have all the time in the world for my daughter to stop and pick up a bug, and to listen to my son tell me a funny joke. When I am conscious that God is sovereign, that He is in control of everything, when I am trusting Him with all my heart and not leaning on my own understanding of how things are going, I am much more willing to take my time and to enjoy each moment.

So if you notice me rushing or walking fast, please remind me to breathe and walk slower and to put my trust in God.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I hope Rickey will be in Heaven

Today we said goodbye to our precious furry friend and companion, Rickey.
She was given to us when she was 3 months old as a wedding present, 10 years ago

I had always lived with a dog, so I couldn't wait to get one when I was married. I had wanted a cat as well, but my husband was not so convinced.

Two weeks after we got back from our honeymoon, my husband informed me that we were going down to the animal shelter. I asked him why, and his response was that we were just going to have a look at some cats. I tried not to get too excited!

When we got down there, it didn't take me long to fall in love with a very affectionate, unusual looking cat. I went in and she was all over me straight away. I brought my husband over, and he too thought she was very special. So much to my delight we went home with a cat, and called her Mooshka.

My husband thought that if we were to ever get a cat we should get it before the puppy came, so the cat could make her standing as boss!
So 2 weeks later Rickey arrived, and the first time Mooshka saw her she went to scratch her. Rickey was about the same size as her, and she cowered!

We have so many fond memories of Rickey in our early years of marriage. For us the early years were difficult and Rickey was such a comfort to me in many ways. She was so fun and affectionate and was such a reliable, trustworthy dog.

She loved her ball and she was a great soccer and basketball player (many of our friends can testify to that!)
During our 10 years of marriage we have lived in 6 different houses for varying periods and Rickey and Mooshka have been with us each time. She was such a good dog and settled in well wherever we were.

When I fell pregnant with my first child, one of my biggest concerns was how Rickey would respond to a baby. She had never really been exposed to any before, and all those horror stories about dog attacks etc. started to worry me.

But prayer is such a blessed thing, I did lots of praying about Rickey and our new baby. And praise be to God, she has been such a wonderful dog to all of our children, she has never shown any signs of jealousy. She has been so patient, gentle, tolerant and fun to play with.

I was brought up with dobermans, 2 of them were often unpredictable. Although they never bit or harmed anyone, I learnt how to be careful, and respectful around them. I have always wanted to have a big dog around our children, it is a good opportunity to teach them how to handle dogs, to treat them with respect and carefulness, and to not be afraid of them.

Over the past 2 years Rickey has had trouble with her ears. Apparently her ear canals are very thin and dirt etc. gets blocked in them easily which then lead to infections. 2 years ago we thought she would have to have a $1500 operation to open up the canals so they wouldn't get infected anymore, but she seemed to get better with a dose of antibiotics the infections stayed away.

But a couple of months ago they got infected again, so we took her to the vet for more antibiotics, they healed up, but I noticed a few days ago she was scratching again. Each time these infections come they cause her a lot of pain, and she howls when she scratches her ears, it was so sad to see her in such pain and discomfort.

Yesterday I heard her snap at one of the younger two children, I didn't see what happened but from what I can tell one of them pushed the other accidentally into Rickey and being startled, she growled back. Thankfully she didn't bite her, but no. 4 was pretty upset.
She has been such a gentle wonderful dog, not a nasty bone in her, but I know what it's like when you are in pain, you are more irritable and can't handle surprises. She was scared when no. 4 fell into her and she responded out of fear. I spent the rest of the day observing her and noticed that she was walking very slowly everywhere and spend most of the day lying down when usually she is running up and down the fence, with the dog next door. I wondered whether she was experiencing pain all through her body, not just in her ears.

Later that day we made the decision to get her put down. She was in pain and we couldn't risk her biting one of the children or anyone else, due to her being in pain. I would have such regrets if anything ever happened, and it would be such an awful memory to have of her.

So last night and this morning we cherished our last moments with her, it was very sad to try and imagine her not being with us. She was such a cuddly dog, just like a bear. We explained what was happening to the kids and they seemed to understand.

My husband took her to the vet this morning, she could hardly climb into his car, it seemed like a big effort for her. He found it very sad and emotional, but I am so thankful to him for doing it.

I spent the whole day out, so when I got home, the backyard felt so empty. I have always hated it when she had to go to the vet and wasn't home, but now I will have to get used to it :(

But I am so thankful for her, she has been with us through so much happiness, sadness, and life changes. She has been one of the few constant, things in our life (apart from God!). I will miss her immensely.

I am comforted by these thoughts by Randy Alcorn though, this is taken from an article called Do dogs go to Heaven.

"In her excellent book, Holiness in Hidden Places, Joni Eareckson Tada says, 'If God brings our pets back to life, it wouldn't surprise me. It would be just like him. It would be totally in keeping with his generous character. . . Exorbitant. Excessive. Extravagant in grace after grace. Of all the dazzling discoveries and ecstatic pleasures heaven will hold for us, the potential of seeing Scrappy would be pure whimsy—utterly, joyfully, surprisingly superfluous. . . Heaven is going to be a place that will refract and reflect in as many ways as possible the goodness of joy of our great God, who delights in lavishing love on his children......'

We needn't be embarrassed either to grieve the loss of our pets or to want to see them again. If we believe God is their creator, that He loves us and them, that He intends to restore His creatures from the bondage they experienced because of our sin, then we have biblical grounds for not only wanting but also expecting that we may be with them again on the New Earth."

And I love this poem by John Piper Alcorn quotes in the article.

And as I knelt beside the brook
To drink eternal life,
I took A glance across the golden grass,
And saw my dog, old Blackie, fast
As she could come.
She leaped the stream—
Almost—and what a happy gleam
Was in her eye.
I knelt to drink
And knew that I was on the brink
Of endless joy.
And everywhere I turned I saw a wonder there.
Thank you Lord for such a wonderful dog.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My husband is an great cake decorator!

When it's birthday time, I bake the cake and my husband decorates.

Child no. 3 turned 4 yesterday. Leading up to her birthday we asked her what kind of cake she wanted, and each time she gave us a different answer! She loves to change her mind!

Finally the day before her brother suggested having a crocodile cake, yes, that was what she wanted. All day she was telling people she was having a crocodile cake.

Then on the morning of her birthday, her older sister was chatting to her, and she decided that she now wanted a Princesses cake!

We said NO you are having a crocodile cake, you can't change your mind again!

It didn't take long for her to be decide she did want a crocodile cake!

I must say that my husband is very talented at creating cakes. He never uses a book, he makes up all his creations. I just ask him how many cakes he needs and what shape, make the cake, then leave the rest up to him!

So here is the crocodile cake.

And here are some other past creations.

Friday, November 7, 2008

What would it really be like to live on earth with Jesus

I was chatting with a friend today about how I would respond to Jesus if I was around when He was.

It's so easy to read about His life 2000 years ago and think - if I was Peter, there's no way I would deny Him, if I was Martha surely I would have grabbed the opportunity to sit at His feet and hang on His every word, if I was one of the disciples in the garden, I would have fought off the desire to sleep realising that Jesus was deeply distressed and troubled.

It's so easy for me to think that now, just reading frivolously over the words, 2000 years after it happened. But when I think deeply and realistically about it, I would have been just like them all. I am certain of it!

My friend and I talked about the many judgements, opinions, criticisms Jesus would have faced, from all sorts of people.

But, He didn't become man to please man, He came to save them and to do the will of His Father. I know that Jesus was sinless on this earth, but in the eyes of many, he surely would not have been perfect, He would have fallen short of many of the standards of that society, because they would have been looking at Him through their eyes and standards, not God's.

As I tried to put myself in the place of someone who lived with Jesus, I wondered whether I would have judged Him or criticised Him, I have certainly been guilty of doing that with many godly men and women I know.

In my eyes they may have been living or doing things that I don't agree with, or that I think may be ungodly, but I have no right to judge, to criticise. What they are doing may be totally godly and right in God's eyes.

God is the only one who can see our hearts, He knows our desires, our motives, He is the One we serve.

While I know I need to be sensitive to others around me and be careful not to be a stumbling block, I need to be far more concerned about what God thinks rather than what men think.

I am reminded of these wonderful, amazing verses from Hebrews 12:2-3 that constantly lift me up.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy set before him endured the cross,
scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

When I fix my eyes on Jesus, I am reminded that He is the one I am living for, I may be judged, criticised, persecuted, or even neglected by men, but He is the One I want to bring glory to.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A surprisingly enjoyable shopping experience!

I am not usually one to take all 4 of my kids shopping by myself, with no restraints (i.e. pram or trolley) but on the way back from taking my dad and sister to the airport the other day, there were a couple of shops I really wanted to 'pop' into!

I don't usually have much patience or tolerance for shopping with kids, but today I was in a rather relaxed mood, and found it much more easier to turn a blind eye and ear to their requests - i.e.

I need to go to the toilet,

I'm hungry,

Come and look at this Mummy!

I just strolled through the store, happy for them to wander along behind me, browsing at this and that. I dragged them all into the change room and they helped me decide which top and skirt to buy.

Normally I am a pretty strict about them keeping right by my side and about touching things, but today, I was way more relaxed, and the store was not very busy - I was actually enjoying myself!

After the clothes shop I just had to go to one more shop - the shoe shop! It's more like a warehouse really, shoes and boxes everywhere! I was surprisingly still very relaxed in this shop, I was on a mission to buy shoes!

As it turned out, this shopping trip was a lot of fun for all of us, my 2 year old daughter stirred up a bit of attention trying on all sorts of ladies shoes.

At first I stopped her, but after a while I realised she was just copying me and all the other ladies in the store who were trying on shoes!

So many ladies were smiling at her and commented on how cute she was. She chose a shoe from the shelf, put it on, walked up and down and then put it back roughly where she found it!

I realised after that if I had been really strict and bossy and made her stop trying on the shoes, we would have missed out on making so many of the ladies around us smile and enjoy watching her.

I know that a lot of this surprisingly enjoyable trip had to do with my attitude!

I wasn't being neglectful, and my children certainly were not out of control, I was just way more relaxed and made the effort to enjoy my children and allow them to enjoy the experience too!