Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Music for my soul

This morning I had an unexplainable heaviness in my heart. I was trying to fight off random negative thoughts and my tiredness was allowing them to have victory.

Even though I know deep down that only God can truly satisfy, it is so hard sometimes to come to Him.

But something within me drew me to put on some music, and within moments my downcast soul was lifted, amazingly, and overwhelmed by my wonderfully gracious, almighty God.

I bought the CD Valley of Vision - Songs of worship inspired by the classic book of Puritan Prayers, a few weeks ago, and it has been such a blessing to me. I love the way music can touch parts of my soul like nothing else can!

These are the words that turned me to Him.

In the Valley

When you lead me to the valley of vision
I can see you in the heights
And though my humbling wouldn't be my decision
It's here your glory shines so bright.
So let me learn that the cross precedes the crown
To be low is t o be high
That the valley's where You make me more like Christ.

Let me find Your grace in the valley
Let me find Your life in my death
Let me find Your joy in my sorrow
Your wealth in my need
That You're near with every breath.

In the daytime there are stars in the heavens
But they only shine at night
And the deeper that I go into darkness
The more I see their radiant light
So let me learn that my losses are my gain
To be broken is to heal
That the valley's where Your power is revealed.

The last verse is what got me, I love looking into the sky during the day amazed that the stars that we see so clearly at night are still there. The only reason we can see them at night is because of the darkness, and they shine so much brighter out in the country where there are not so many lights.

Just like in my moment of darkness, the wonders, grace and love of God shine so much brighter than during the daytime, when things are going well.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A worthy biblical goal for our children

I have been a bit slack in my blogging lately, I have been too consumed with many good books and projects and I haven't taken the time to sit at my computer!

Amongst all the good books I have been reading, I picked up one of my favourite parenting books the other day, Shepherding a Child's heart by Tedd Tripp and I was challenged about what my goal for my children is.

He mentions the following as unbiblical goals.

Developing social skills, psychological adjustment, saved children, family worship, well-behaved children, good education, control.

So what is a worthy biblical goal? His answer comes from the Shorter catechism.

Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.

He continues,

Is there any other goal that is worthy? Are you willing to start here with your children? You must equip your children to function in a culture that has abandoned the knowledge of God. If you teach them to use their abilities, aptitudes, talents and intelligence to make their lives better, without reference to God, you turn them away from God. If your objectives are anything other than "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy God forever", you teach your children to function in the culture on its terms.

How do we do this? We pander to their desires and wishes. We teach them to find their soul's delight in going places and doing things. We attempt to satisfy their lust for excitement. We fill their young lives with distractions from God. We give them material things and take delight in their delight in possessions. Then we hope that somewhere down the line they will see that a life worth living is found only in knowing and serving God.....

From their earliest days, they must be taught that they are creatures made in the image of God - made for God. They must learn that they will only "find themselves" as they find Him. Your child must grow to see that real living is experienced when he stands before God and says, "Whom have I in heaven but you? And being with you I desire nothing on earth" (Psalm 73:25). If this is what you want for your children, then you must ensure that the content of your everyday life fits this objective.

It is so easy to get caught up with worldly goals for my children. Good behaviour and control is a big one for me. I can easily get into the mindset that if my children are under my control and are well behaved, they are doing well. But loving and enjoying God is a so much better goal and desire for my children. I long for them to know and love God with all their heart, soul and mind.

So often I focus on correcting their behaviour and telling them what God does and does not want them to do, more so than I talk to them about how glorious, majestic, loving, forgiving and sovereign our God is.

I am so thankful to God for this reminder, and I pray that He will help me to see the opportunities He gives me to talk to them about Him.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A time apart...

Every now and again I take the kids down to my dad's for a few days to allow my husband some 'quiet time' at home.

The first time we did this, a couple of years ago, I dreaded the thought of being left alone with a 4 children under 5! But, it was something he needed, and as it ended up, something I needed as well!

In the past I have unintentionally depended on my husband way too much. He has been such an awesome help ever since number 1 entered the world. He does absolutely everything when it comes to babies and children (except clean up vomit!). I am so thankful for all that he does, I don't know how I would have coped without him!

But the balance between his work, family life, marriage, personal times etc. has been hard to work out and maintain, and this has overwhelmed us both at times. So our times away from each other have been so vital and necessary. Beneficial not only for us individually, but for the impact it has on our family.

The first time I left him at home alone, I had to depend totally and utterly on God to get me through. I wanted to give him that time alone, but I felt so inadequate and overwhelmed at the task of caring for our children all on my own.

But, thank God for weaknesses, as they cause me to run to Him, to depend upon Him, to find strength in Him alone, and at the end of the day, He ALWAYS hears me and pulls me through, victoriously and joyfully! Those few days ended up being so wonderful, and it was so freeing to know that I could do it on my own with His strength and grace. I really enjoyed the time with my kids and with my dad, it ended up being a wonderful time away.

So this week I am back here at my dad's enjoying a holiday away from my home! I actually have a project to complete while I am here, painting his office to accommodate more beds for when I invite all my friends over for sleepovers!

I am also enjoying time to spend with my kids, they are older now so I don't feel like I have to do as much for them. I cooked meals last night for us all, so I don't need to fuss about cooking, and it really doesn't matter if we spend the day in our pyjamas as we don't even really need to leave the house!

I love being at my dad's house, it brings back lots of wonderful memories. I love exploring in the garden, sitting by the pool, reading in the formal lounge, and the early nights!

I am looking forward to hearing all about the time my wonderful husband has spend on his own and with the Lord, and absence always makes the heart grow fonder!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

A donkey's back

This week we have decided to read portions of the Easter story to our children each night leading up to Easter and then have our children draw a picture of what happened in the reading. I hope to collect the drawings each night and put them together in a book with the readings alongside the pictures.

Tonight my husband read about Palm Sunday and Jesus' welcome into Jerusalem. As our children were busily drawing donkeys, my husband informed us that all donkeys have a cross on their back.

"Really?" I said, "Yes really, I will find you a picture on the Internet." He replied.

Well he found lots of pictures, none of which I can post here as they are copyright (so if you are interested google donkeys cross and check it out for yourself!).

I was completely shocked! I can't believe I have lived 33 years (almost 34!) without ever knowing donkeys have a cross on their back. I feel rather silly, because I guess that's the kind of information EVERYONE knows, but can I just say that it was such an amazing thing for me to learn about!

I still find it amazing every time I think about it. That an animal which led Jesus as a baby inside his mother's womb into Bethlehem and that led Him into Jerusalem, the City in which He would be crucified on a cross, had a cross on it's back!

After learning about this my children all put crosses on their donkey's backs!

God never ceases to amaze and wonder me!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

An Incomprehensible vision of marriage

I have been reflecting upon two awesome pictures of marriage today. The first from Ephesians 5:22-32, the picture of marriage being like that of Christ and the church. Wives are to submit to their husbands, as to the Lord, as the church is subject to Christ. Husbands as the head of the wife are to love their wives and give themselves up for her as Christ have Himself up for the church.

The second picture I have been contemplating is the one found in Genesis 2:18-25, God makes a helper for the man, and the man says "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." Verse 25 then says "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed".

I am trying to get my head around both these pictures of marriage, pictures that God has established and that He desires of marriage. In every day life what does it mean to submit to my husband as to the Lord, as the church submits to Christ, and what does it mean to become one flesh?

I love the word of God and I am excited about thrashing out these passages so much more so that I may have a better comprehension and understanding of God's desire for marriage.

These words from John Piper's book, This Momentary Marriage have also got me thinking.

"There has never been a generation whose general view of marriage is high enough. The chasm between biblical vision of marriage and the common human vision is now, and has always been, gargantuan......That was the case in Jesus' day as well. But ours is worse. When Jesus have a glimpse of the magnificent view of marriage that God willed for his people, the disciples said to him, "If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry" (Matt 19:10). In other words, Christ's vision of the meaning or marriage was so enormously different from the disciples', they could not even imagine it to be a good thing. That such a vision could be good news was simply outside their categories.

If that was the case then - in the sober, Jewish world in which they lived - how much more will the magnificence of marriage in the mind of God seem unintelligible in a modern Western culture, where the main idol is self; its main doctrine is autonomy; and its central act of worship is being entertained; and its three main shrines are the television, Internet and the cinema; and its most sacred genuflection is the uninhibited act of sexual intercourse. Such a culture will find the glory of marriage in the mind of Jesus virtually incomprehensible.

.....I mention this cultural distortion of marriage in the hopes that it might wake you up to consider a vision of marriage higher and deeper and stronger and more glorious than anything culture - or perhaps you yourself - ever imagined. The greatness and glory of marriage is beyond our ability to think or feel without divine revelation and without the illumining and awakening work of the Holy Spirit."