• Why American Christians Should Support Better Gun Control

    In the wake of the Sandy Hook School massacre (so soon after the Denver movie theatre shooting), there is a new call for America to enact more gun control laws, even ban guns.

    There are lots of good reasons why this makes sense, one of the clearest being the
    success of other countries such as Australia in reducing their gun-related crimes by
    banning guns (sounds so obvious doesn’t it?).

    What concerns me more though, is that the biggest opponents to gun control are largely
    right wing, Republican, conservative, CHRISTIAN Americans. The word we often hear
    from these guys is rights. I have the right to bear arms under the constitution, I have the
    right to defend myself, I have the right to engage in recreational gun activities.

    Whether or not these arguments are valid (and people have argued both ways to
    exhaustion), what seems strange to me is that somehow rights are being used by
    Christians as the unbeatable principle in guiding their actions and lifestyles.

    Philippians 2:5-8 says.

    In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

    Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

    rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.

    And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
    even death on a cross!

    2 Corinthians 5:21,

    God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the
    righteousness of God.

    Jesus had the right to do what he pleased. That he came on earth to sacrifice himself for
    us instead is the amazing centre of Christian belief. It is what shapes the Christian
    worldview and life. It is the non-negotiable crux of the Gospel that forms a lens that
    Christians should have their opinions and attitudes seen through.
    Note also that we are specifically encouraged in the beginning of the Philippians passage
    to emulate Jesus in this. Actually more than that, we are to have the same mindset as
    Jesus. One of the foundations of our lives, thoughts and actions should be to give up our
    rights for the sake of others.

    For the American Christian (or any Christian) who argues they have the right to bear arms,
    what matters isn’t whether you have that right or not, what matters is whether you are
    willing to give up that right in the same way that Jesus gave up his life.

    Are we all as Christians doing this same thing to things in our lives? What other things do
    we hold tightly to because we have the right to instead of considering that our rights don’t
    necessarily come first?

    The author of this post is Jackson Stace. Jackson loves Jesus. He is moving to Sydney to study Gods word at Moore College and join the team at Resolved Church to reach the people of Sydney. He loves fantasy fiction but thinks that Game of Thrones book 4 was boring.

    You may also like:

    Guest post: Alie Benge’s Strategy for Managing the Crazy

    Guest post: How the Gospel Shapes Me as a Mother to Young Children by Erin Crispin

    Guest Post: How the gospel shapes my life as a single woman by Katie Brown

     

  • Guest post: Alie Benge’s Strategy for Managing the Crazy

    Alie is a former member of Resolved who moved to NZ a few months ago. She is focusing on carving out a writing career while studying a bachelor of arts in Philosophy. Follow her writing at www.searchingforourselves.wordpress.com

    Welcome to my five point strategy for how to deal with the things life throws at you. No one’s life is a perfect ray of sunshine and every now and then you may find yourself in a rut. It’s ok, it happens to the best of us. Whenever you need it, here’s some ideas for how to get back on the happy train.

    1.Keep a book of crazy.

    Get a journal and write in it how you’re feeling, why you are feel the way you do, and try to bring it to a resolution. The benefit of writing things down is it forces you to carry a thought to completion. I have the tendency to mull over something, turning it over in my mind, never actually thinking helpfully about it. Writing it down gets it out of your head, puts it where you can see it and enables you to be a problem solver, not a problem wallower.

    2. Don’t be a jerk about medication

    There seems to be a stigma attached to medicating things. Believe it or not, anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication isn’t concocted over a cauldron and there’s no eye of newt thrown in there. It definitely shouldn’t be a first resort as there are side effects involved, you also don’t need it if you’re just feeling a bit down in the dumps that particular week, however if a doctor has agreed that it would help you then there is nothing wrong with taking it. We aren’t living in a dark age. There’s nothing to fear about modern medicine. However, they should be used in conjunction with some kind of counselling. What the drugs do is help with the process of getting better by lifting your mood and allowing you some perspective. The idea is to reach a stage where you no longer need medication.
    3. Don’t run from your problems. They run faster.

    Seeing a counsellor or psychologist is mentally depleting. You’ll be asked hard questions and asked to think about things you’ve been avoiding. You know those memories that you’ve buried away in a dark corner of your mind? Well, you’ll need those. You’ll have to brush the dust off and bring them back into the light. I used to have an image of myself standing on a cliff, facing land. Over the cliff was all this crazy, hovering menacingly in the open space. I thought if I turned around and really looked at my problems they would drag me over the edge. Now I see that as one of my face palm moments. By not looking behind me, I couldn’t see that it had already begun pulling me over. My psychologist asked me hard questions. She made me feel uncomfortable, she made me take deep breaths, and she left me feeling like I’d run an emotional marathon. Sometimes I left her office feeling confused, sometimes furious, sometimes terrified, but I realised after a while that I hadn’t fallen over the edge; in fact I was walking away from it, descending the hill. You can ignore your problems, keeping them in your peripherals, but that’s where they’ll always be, growing and manifesting in secret ways. Or you could muster all your courage, face your problems and begin pushing them away.
    4. Don’t be a hero

    This is the part where I need to take my own advice. Don’t be the strong, silent one, bearing up under suffering all alone so as not to hurt others. I’m a witness to the dangers of internalising. Soon the problem will warp and mutate and blow your brain up. It will become a heavy secret that will bear down on your shoulders and cause you to distance yourself from people. Those who love you would be more horrified at the thought of you suffering alone. They’ll want to help you but they can’t read minds. Talk to your pastor, parents, siblings or friends. Trust the wisdom and perspectives of others and don’t be afraid of being a burden. It is one that most would gladly bear.

    5. Find healing in the Bible

    No one gets through life entirely un-bruised. We’ve all been damaged in some way by the people around us or by the things we’ve lost. At some point in your life you may not have been loved perfectly, maybe your parents, your friends or your spouse let you down, maybe you were rejected or anxious. Not everything that damages us is unreasonable or even noticed. Lucky for us we have in the bible one who has loved us perfectly. One who will never reject us or let us down. One who will keep loving us and keep forgiving us every time we turn around sheepishly and ask to come back. You can trust God with your anxieties. You can ask him to forgive you when no one else will. You can see how he loved you on the cross when it seems you are unloved. When you feel you are unworthy you can know that you are made in the image of God.

    You may also like:

    God will not forget your suffering but he will reward your faithfulness

    Guest Post: How the gospel shapes my life as a single woman

    Guest Post: How the gospel shapes my life as a young mum

  • Guest post: How the Gospel Shapes Me as a Mother to Young Children by Erin Crispin

    Hans’ note: As a basketball player I love Erins blog! On her blog she details the life of a young Christian mum who is married to a pro baller Joe Crispin (who can flat out shoot!). Please check out her great blog www.marriedtoaballer.com and follow her on Twitter

    I remember being a young 24-year-old preparing to have our first child. I had read countless books, visited various websites and was a plethora of information on how to best raise a Christian child. What none of these resources ever told me was that in the process of “raising a child” it was me who would do the most changing.

    I have now been a mother for 7 years and have four children ages 7, 5, 3 and 13 months. Every day is a reminder that although I need to preach the gospel to them, often that preaching is just as much for my own heart as it is for theirs. Whereas I used to think of our teaching and discipline times as opportunities to plant the seed of gospel into their young hearts. Now I see that it serves as a reminder to me of what God has done and is doing for me through the work of Jesus.

    We use a little saying in our family whenever we are speaking of obedience. It is from the definition of obedience in “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” and it goes like this:

    The happy way is to obey without challenge, without excuse and without delay.

    The reasons we added the “happy” part in their is because Jesus did not call us to obey out of duty, but out of finding our delight in His perfect plan for our lives. The obedience comes with a reward. Instead of “happy”, our Bibles often have Jesus using the similar word blessed. The Beatitudes (here quoted from Matthew 5) are usually the most recognizable of Jesus’ sayings where He promises that good will come from obedience to Him:
    “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

    “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

    “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

    “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

    “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

    “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

    “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

    As we read these words, we see that we are motivated to obedience through finding greater delight in God that we do in sin. So when I share the gospel with our children throughout the day, the message is:

    Jesus died so that you can be forgiven of your sin and live in victory over it because you have been given a new heart to now find God as your treasure instead of sin.

    And this is the message I need to be reminded of every moment of the day. Because like the old hymn says:

    Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
    Prone to leave the God I love;
    Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
    Seal it for thy courts above.
    “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

    When we believe the truth that God’s way is the happy way, we all obey without challenge, without excuse and without delay. The gospel is the reminder we need consistently to trust that moment by moment.
    Erin

  • Guest Post: Fifteen Ways To Get A Single Woman’s Attention by Ally Spotts

    For those of you who don’t know me my name is Ally Spotts and I’m a writer and blogger from Portland, Oregon. I’m single, a committed Christian, and I also happen to write a lot about dating and relationships. If you’ve never been to my site, you can visit me here!

    Last week I wrote a post titled, “Why Christian Women Date Non-Christian Men,” and Hans found it when one of my more dedicated fans [thanks dad] posted a link in the comments of his blog. Before I knew it he was asking me to write a post about what I, as a single woman, am looking for in a man.

    The problem is (I realized, after I agreed) I don’t have a list of things that I’m looking for in a man. I mean, I am looking for some things, I guess – mostly that he is also a committed Christian – but somewhere along the line I realized that the actual or mental lists I was keeping were making me really prone to selfish, unrealistic expectations for what I wanted in a husband. So I ditched it.

    So I’ll give you a different list, instead. It isn’t a checklist, and it isn’t a list of ideas I’ve picked up from romance novels or fantasies from Hollywood. It’s just a list of things I’ve noticed the men I know sometimes do, things that tend to catch my attention.

    Again, it isn’t a checklist. I don’t expect any man to be all of these things all the time. But it is a list of real things that real men have done. I’ve witnessed them. In real life. Not a novel or a romantic movie.

    These are the things that, as a single woman, really get me thinking…

    1. When a man treats all women well, not just the ones he wants to date. The men in my life who are most protective of (and kind toward) me are often men who have no intention of asking me on a date. My brother, for example. My dad. My friends’ husbands. My brother-in-law. And when I see an available man treat his mom or his sister or a close friend with tenderness and care, it is a huge head-turner for me.

    2. When a man’s actions match his words: Some men have really good intentions but not much follow-through; and while this can seem impressive at first, I’m ultimately distrustful of a man like this. I am much more prone to notice a man who is faithful in the little things. He says he’ll call and he does. He shows up on time. He doesn’t commit to things unless he knows he can finish them. If a man is consistent, the littlest things can make the biggest impression.

    3. When a man has a strong work ethic. There is something unbelievably sexy (am I allowed to say that here?) about a man who works hard. It can be physical, mental or emotional labor. It doesn’t matter. A man who has drive and stamina and perseverance toward a particular task is bound to catch my eye (in fact, he might even catch me staring…)

    4. When a man is committed to open and honest communication. I am so impressed when a man is willing to initiate difficult (but necessary) conversations with me and with others around him. Hard conversations are (wait for it…) hard to have but I’m always impressed with a man who is up to the challenge.

    5. When a man asks good questions. A man who asks good questions demonstrates selflessness, compassion and generosity, not to mention a wiliness to connect with those around him. Those qualities are really, really attractive to me.

    6. When a man is good with a grill. Hey – a girl has to eat… right?

    7. When a man is generous with his money. Several months ago I was at a restaurant with a large group of people and a friend of mine excused himself to the restroom, gave his credit card to the waitress, and paid for the meal before any of us even realized what happened. For the rest of the week I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I admired that simple act of kindness.

    8. When a man is generous with his time. Some men don’t have the means to be as financially generous as the man I described above, but that’s okay. I find it equally attractive when I see a man offer his time, sacrificially, for the good of the community. Men I know volunteer their time to lead and inspire youth, help their parents with yard work or other chores, or give up their Saturday to help a friend move. These are all things that make me stop and go, hmmm…

    9. When a man doesn’t flirt with every girl woman who flirts with him. One of the most impressive things in the world to me is watching a man who is selective with his flirtation. This doesn’t mean he never flirts, or that he only flirts with one girl his whole life (flirtation can be a necessary and important part of determining romantic connection) it just means that he doesn’t respond to every beautiful girl who happens to blink her eyes at him. I think that single-mindedness can demonstrate a man’s strength of character, self-confidence and conviction.

    10. When a man has a positive attitude. This is especially true of a man who is faced with difficult circumstances, and still chooses to speak positive words about life, about himself, and about other people. When I see a man who approaches life with grace and gratitude, I definitely stop and take notice.

    11. When a man has a plan: I went on a first date awhile back with a man who planned the whole evening ahead of time (a flexible plan, but solid enough that there weren’t a bunch of decisions for me to make) and I was really surprised by how comforting that was for me. On a broader scale, I’m really impressed by a man who has a 5-year or 10-year plan for his life. Even if his plan never comes to fruition, I’ll do pretty much anything for a man who knows what he is called to do with his life, and knows that he wants to do it with me.

    12. When a man is competitive. I hesitate to include this because not every woman would find this quality attractive, but it is my list, so… what the heck. I love watching men play sports or games, or watching their competitive nature come out in business. I find it attractive when I see a man who doesn’t feel the need to apologize for his masculinity.

    13. When a man carries his Bible: Recently I received some bad news while I was writing in a coffee shop and a friend who was sitting nearby saw my reaction and immediately went to the scripture to offer me some encouragement. I’m not saying a man always has to carry his Bible (that would be weird) I’m just saying that I find it impressive when a situation calls for it, and he has it on hand.

    14. When a man takes responsibility, even if he’s not sure it’s his. I was with a man recently who took the blame for something that may or may not have been his fault, and I felt oddly impacted by that. It was such a small act in retrospect, but the truth was that no one really knew whose fault it was; and I felt oddly comforted knowing that he was willing to take the blame – and the consequences – to protect the rest of the group.

    15. When a man can admit his weaknesses and is willing to work on them. Guys. If you don’t remember any other item from this list, remember this one. In fact, if I had to reduce the list to one item, it would most definitely be this.  None of us are perfect. We all have areas where we need to grow. And there is something profoundly attractive about a man who recognizes this reality, is a little introspective, and is humble enough to admit when he is wrong and keep working toward the man he wants to be.

    Okay, I’m just one woman, and not the authority on the subject. I need some other ladies to jump in. What do you think about my list? Any changes or additions?

    And MEN. Call me selfish but I’m dying to hear from you. How can a girl catch your attention?

     

  • Guest blog: Preaching Isaiah by Barry Webb pt. 2

    Hans’ note: I had the privilege of learning from Barry when I was at Moore College. I can still remember some of the things he said in those lectures because they were profound, biblical and helped me see the beauty of the gospel more clearly. Barry is a warm, generous and beautiful man of God. If you have never read any of his work I would suggest going over to Amazon and buying anything that he has written. You will not be disappointed. These are the handout that Barry gave out when he helped my wife and the other girls who would be preaching at Moore college’s womens chapel. They were preaching on Isaiah and who better to get to talk about preaching on Isaiah than Barry Webb! If you want to read the first post click here.

    4.  General Implication for preaching from Isaiah

    4.1

    The text should not be handled in a way that denies its humanity or disconnects it from history. I assume therefore, that some attention will have to be given to the man Isaiah, his personal circumstances, and the circumstances of those to whom his words were originally directed. This means that sermons will need to have a strong exegetical base. Statements should not be taken as expressing timeless truths unrelated to the particular circumstances in which they were given. To preach with integrity the preacher will need to have settled convictions about the origins of the text and apply these consistently in his preaching.

    4.2

    The text should not be handled in a way that denies its unity. That is, particular passages should be related to their literary context, and some attention should be given to the way they contribute to the message of the book as a whole. This means that the preacher will need to have settled convictions about the basic shape of the book, its major themes, and its theological centre, if it has one. Before beginning to preach it is desirable that the preacher be able to summarise the message of the whole book in a sentence or brief paragraph.

    4.3

    Given the particular responsibility of the Christian preacher, it will be important, especially in the second half of the sermon, to trace at least some of the connections between the passage in hand and the gospel proclaimed by Jesus Christ and his apostles in the New Testament. This is where a genuinely Christian sermon on Isaiah will differ essentially from a Jewish one, or from a one which speaks merely of God and morality. Attention will need to be given here to NT quotations from Isaiah, but also to the way the broad themes of biblical theology develop as one moves from the OT to the NT.

    4.4

    Given a commitment to the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, the NT use of Isaiah will not be regarded as arbitrary, or as an unwarranted imposition on the original text. In tracing out the NT developments of his text the preacher will understand himself to be trying to ‘think God’s thoughts’ after him, and will try to help his hearers to do the same.

    4.5

    Given, again, the nature of the preacher’s essential task, the sermon should move from exegesis, to gospel-focused theological reflection, to application. At this point the preacher must grapple with the question of how the particular aspect of the gospel which is illuminated by the passage intersects with the present life situation of his hearers

    5. Particular issues regarding preaching from Isaiah

    5.1

    The size probably precludes consecutive exposition of the whole book, even if this were desirable in principle. Some kind of selection of passages or themes is necessary.

    5.2

    The unity of the book makes it undesirable to divide it, for preaching purposes, into the three sections normally taken as the starting point for historical-critical study (e.g. 1-39, 40-55, 56-66). This makes diversity (and a particular view of the diversity of this book) the controlling datum of interpretation, rather than the gospel. It is probably best, from a preaching point of view, to give people some way of seeing the book as a whole first (e.g. in the first sermon) and then taking up particular passages or themes in more detail in subsequent sermons.

    5.3

    Selection of passages and/or themes for inclusion in a preaching series will depend to a large extent on the convictions of the preacher about the structure of the book and its major, most distinctive themes. A series on Isaiah should, among other things, give the hearers a eel for what is Isaiah’s special contribution to the message of the Bible. Passages or themes should be chosen with this in mind, and not selected arbitrarily

    3. Planning a sermon series on Isaiah: An example

    3.1  Introductory talk or sermon:

     

    Isaiah’s Vision: God is King.

     

    • Why study Isaiah? Because of Jesus (Luke 4:14-21)
      • The world of Isaiah
      • The man Isaiah
      • The book of Isaiah
      • Why study Isaiah? To see Jesus’ glory (John 12:41)

     

    3.2  Sermons on selected passages

     

    1. The King’s Holiness Isaiah 6:1-13
    2. The King’s Wrath Isaiah 24:1-16a
    3. The King’s Trustworthiness Isaiah 37:1-20
    4. The King’s Gospel Isaiah 40:1-11
    5. The King’s Servant Isaiah 42:1-9
    6. The King’s Banquet Isaiah 55:1-8
    7. The King’s Justice Isaiah 56:1-8
    8. The King’s City Isaiah 65:17-25
    9. The King’s Mission Isaiah 66:12-24

     

    This sermon series has passages from all seven parts of the book, and touches on most of its distinctive themes: the holiness of God, the Servant as the key to God’s purposes, the new Jerusalem as the centre of God’s coming kingdom, justice as the essence of true religion, trust as the proper response to God, mission to the nations as the plan of God.

    __________________________________________________________________

    Resources

    Reid, A., and K. Morris, Two Cities: Isaiah (Sydney: Matthias Media, 1993)

    Roth, Wolfgang, Isaiah (Knox Preaching Guides; Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1988).

    Recommended.

    Williamson, H. G. M. “Preaching Isaiah.” Chapter 8 in “He began with Moses”: Preaching the Old Testament Today. Edited by Grenville Kent, Paul J. Kissling, and Laurence A. Turner. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Aca

     

  • Guest blog: Preaching Isaiah by Barry Webb pt. 1

    Hans’ note: I had the privilege of learning from Barry when I was at Moore College. I can still remember some of the things he said in those lectures because they were profound, biblical and helped me see the beauty of the gospel more clearly. Barry is a warm, generous and beautiful man of God. If you have never read any of his work I would suggest going over to Amazon and buying anything that he has written. You will not be disappointed. These are the handout that Barry gave out when he helped my wife and the other girls who would be preaching at Moore college’s womens chapel. They were preaching on Isaiah and who better to get to talk about preaching on Isaiah than Barry Webb! I hope you enjoy today’s and tomorrows posts as much as I did.

    Preaching Isaiah

    1. 1. Assumptions about the nature of Christian preaching

    1.1

    My starting assumption is that the essential task of the Christian preacher is to preach Jesus Christ, and that the two basic resources for doing this are the Bible and the Holy Spirit. This needs to be elaborated via a theology of the Word of God and of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in relation to the Word.

    1.2

    My second assumption is that preaching (as opposed to lecturing) entails application as an essential element. Given what I have just said under 1.1, I take it that the application will have an essentially Christocentric, gospel focus.

    1.3

    I understand the role of the Spirit in preaching to consist essentially of (1) enabling both the preacher and the hearers to understand the Bible, (2) empowering the preacher to proclaim its message effectively, and (3) bringing conviction and appropriate response from the hearers. A corollary of this is that I understand good preaching to have a prophetic dimension to it.

    1. 2. Assumptions about the Bible

    2.1 The Bible as the Word of God

    I understand the Word of God to be essentially Jesus Christ himself, and secondly the gospel, which is the announcement of what God has accomplished for us in him. I understand the Bible to be the word of God in two senses. First, in that it is inspired by God and is therefore revelation given by God. Second, I understand it to be the word of God in that it is the gospel writ large, so to speak – all of it in one way or another part of a total revelation which has Jesus Christ as its focal point.

    2.2 The diversity of the Bible

    I understand the diversity of Scripture in terms of its connection with history. The revelation it contains was given through many particular people in many particular situations over a long period of time. The Bible is truly human, just as Christ was and is truly human. This means that, at one level at least, understanding the Bible requires the same attention to the particulars of time, place and style that is required for understanding any piece of human communication.

    2.3 The unity of the Bible

    I understand the unity of Scripture in terms of (1) its divine origin, and (2) its connection with Jesus Christ and the gospel. As the word of God Scripture expresses the mind of God, and must therefore be coherent. The gospel describes that unity essentially in terms of promise and fulfilment. In literary terms the unity of the Bible is manifested in its basic plot line.

    2.4 The inerrancy of the Bible

    My assumption here is that the genuine humanity of Scripture does not necessarily entail error, and that the divine inspiration of Scripture actually excludes this. There is a real analogy between the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ and the humanity and divinity of Scripture. My basic reason for accepting the OT in particular as inerrant is that this is evidently how Jesus himself accepted it. This means that no part of the text may be dismissed as irrelevant to a proper interpretation of it on the grounds of alleged error. A commitment to inerrancy entails a commitment to a holistic interpretation of the text.

    1. 3. Assumptions about the book of Isaiah

    As part of the Old Testament canon, I assume that the book of Isaiah has all the characteristics of Scripture I have just listed.

     

  • Guest post: How the gospel shapes my life as a newlywed by Kat Oxley

    Hans’ note: The author of this post, Kat Oxley, is getting ready to go over to New York with her husband (who is super brainy!). She has been a staff worker at UTS with CREDO and she has been at Resolved since it started.

    Here’s how I’d love to answer this question: The gospel shapes my life as a newly married woman by spurring me on daily to be a better ‘living parable’ of Christ and the Church (his bride) so that the people around me who don’t have a relationship with Jesus may see something of him in our marriage. But here’s the (not so) secret truth… I fall short of this on an hourly basis.

    Marriage is this wonderful beautiful gift from God; to have a companion in all of life, to have a partner in all you plan and do, and to have a spiritual leader who’s primary concern is for my relationship with God, blows my mind! Plus it’s a whole lot of fun! In my best moments I am unbelievably thankful to God for this beautiful undeserved gift in my life! While I loved being single for many reasons, I still spent too much time wondering what ‘one’ had to do to earn a husband, or what this or that girl had that meant she got a husband and I didn’t. But, much like God’s grace in salvation, I have and am learning that God gives good gifts to his children because he is a good Father, not because we are good children. Some well meaning people say nice things like “I’m so glad you have a great man, you deserve that”. No. I’m not good enough to earn a husband, and living this closely with one only magnifies my unworthiness more!

    I would love to respond to this gift well, to be spurred on to thankfulness more, to be more aware of my own sin (especially my selfishness) and therefore the cost of the Cross, and to love Peter as the Church should love Jesus so that God may use me to encourage everyone to love Jesus more – both in theory and in practice. But come on! It is hard. One of the hardest things is taking Peter for granted, he is a husband who reads Ephesians 5 seriously, and it would be too too easy to ‘let’ him always choose what is ‘best for me’ instead of loving and serving him, putting him above my own wants and needs. We’re also noticing a tendency to think that it is because we are so perfect for each other, or we did this and that the right way, or whatever other ‘us’ based reason, that means we have a fun and good marriage now. That is flat out wrong. Marriage is good because God made it, and he made it good (even when its hard). When we are loving being married, or even struggling through harder times, we should be driven to thankfulness. Sometimes we are – I just wish I was every time.

    Having said all of that, being in relationship with Jesus fundamentally changes how I “do” marriage. If I really believe that God created me and marriage, and that I have been freed by the blood of Christ to be truly who I was made to be, well then I will want to listen to what God has to say about marriage. Thankfully he gives his Holy Spirit, because I am still too broken and sinful to selflessly love Peter as I should, but that doesn’t mean I sit on my ass and wait for the Spirit to do its magic! When I am being grumpy or selfish, there is a conviction from the Holy Spirit that says “not cool Kat” and I have to take a breath and stop dwelling in the strange comfort of the bad mood and start to work the real issues through in my mind (which often means I need to stop negatively twisting things). Marriage is from God and it is good and it is for life. “No divorce” doesn’t start when we have been fighting for years and need to see a counsellor or lawyer, it starts now, by not playing emotional games, by being honest and working out everyday what it is to be us – a married couple trying to please God. Even this I cannot do apart from God’s help.

    Through God’s grace in my decisions I married a man who loves Jesus –  I know Peter is also filled with the Spirit, and that divorce is not an option for him – and I know he takes that seriously from now. It is a wonderfully safe environment in which to grow and love. It also has meant that we try to have an open welcoming marriage, where hospitality and relationships with others are essential. Not just because God created us to live in community, but also because we want to be a living parable of Jesus to people (because we trust that God can use even imperfect examples). While this serves others, the transparency also serves our marriage, because when we let people see how we really are, we start to realise how much we need to draw closer to God through his word and prayer together. Hopefully this is a godly cycle that feeds itself, rather than a self-indulgence or a guilty balancing act of us time verses time with others.

    If you’re a praying person, which if you know Jesus I hope you are, please pray for the marriages you see around you. Marriage is no walk in the park, even when it is fun and good, and I’m no expert on it, but I know I need love and prayer and support from my family in Christ. Pray that we would thank God for his undeserved gifts, and that it would lead us to remember his ultimate grace in salvation when we deserved nothing but judgement. Pray that we would be more aware of our own sin as we live so intimately with someone else, and that the awareness would not lead us to despair, but through awareness into thankfulness for the Cross. Pray that, in all of this, we would love Jesus more, and therefore desire to share him with people around us all the more in little and big ways.

     

     

  • Guest Post: How the gospel shapes my life as a young mother and wife by Nicole Hamilton

    Hans’ note: I met Nicole at bible college and it seems she has not lost any of her spark and humor that made her such a great person to be around. Please take time to read her blog. It is a great read!

    Motherhood is a season of life which gripped my heart with an unprecedented amount of emotion.

    Guilt and self-loathing: As I took my first shower as a new Mum while my baby girl screamed in her bassinette for some comfort… Or as you hear your two year old mimicking a phrase that you know is yours, but which you wished you could attribute to your hubby instead.

    Frustration and sadness: As the years of broken sleep keep adding up and our beautiful children struggle to breathe at night through crippling sickness.

    Satisfaction and delight: When one of them shares a beloved toy or better yet, recalls that: “God is everywhere, Mum. Did you know that?”

    Being a mother is definitely the most challenging and yet exciting season of my life yet. Because despite feeling like my heart is able to be crushed in a million pieces at a moments notice, the benefits of being a mother are great, and the importance of being a godly mother even more significant. What I realised early on in motherhood was the necessity for me to be a person worth imitating. Paul often urges the churches: “Therefore, I urge the churches to imitate me.” (1 Cor 4:16) And the reason why? Because of his “way of life in Christ Jesus”. Whether we want to have the role of mentor or not, this is what a parent is. We will instruct our kids on how to live by the way that we live. And if they see that our lives are lives of value and significance because of Christ, then we are doing our jobs well.

    Early on in motherhood it became absolutely clear to me that the way that I support and love my husband, Craig, and the way that I nurtured my own growth with God was essential to my goals as a mother. Part of my passion and deep-seated desire is to ensure that our children see that Christ is worth our everything. If my beloved (and best-friend) Craig heads away to teach about Jesus, the way that I reflect Craig’s absence will make an impact on our children’s minds. If I allow myself to hold an unbalanced and resentful view of ministry, then how can I expect my children to find joy in expending themselves in service for Christ? If I choose to read my bible and pray, then that will not only affect my attitude towards our children, but will hopefully impress upon them the godly habit of disciplining themselves for the race we’re running. Nurturing my walk with Jesus is a key element to my “success” as a mother. Sure, I’m going to make mistakes and fail. Sure I’m going to live a much-less-than-perfect life. But the walk alongside my forgiving saviour is the key. So I consciously reflect on my mistakes with my children (not all of them, sheesh I wouldn’t want to overwhelm them!) Sometimes we repent together in our prayers at night for the mistakes we made during the day. Sometimes we just come together and thank God for clouds and pink milkshakes. Other nights our 3 year old thanks God for dying to take away all her naughtiness. (This one always brings tears to my eyes.) Yes, being a mother is more than fetching soggy poo out of the bath plug-hole or learning all the names of the Yo Gabba Gabba family. Being a mother is the opportunity to impress God’s message of salvation upon our kid’s hearts so that they know and love Him and are passionate to share this relationship with their world. I think God has given us a very special and beautiful responsibility. And the best part is, all we have to do is live alongside these beautiful creatures of our creator. Loving them as best we can and loving God a thousand times more than that.

    I love my life.

     

  • Guest post: How the gospel shapes me as a young mum by Kristen Young

    Hans’ note: Kristen is married to a Youth Minister, and has three young children. She is involved in ministry with children, young people and other Mums in a small town. In her spare time, she likes to write. Follow her on Twitter

    The Gospel.

    If there is one thing that is going to change everything for you, it is meeting Jesus. The Gospel is more than something you hear about in church on Sunday. It affects everything, no matter what stage of life you’re in.  My stage of life is that I’m a wife to one husband, and mother of three small children. It’s been a huge learning process, and I’m still on the journey, but here are some of the things I’ve learned so far about the Gospel and being a wife/mother:

    God is more interested in Who I Am than in What I Do.

    Before I was married, I worked a full-time paid professional job. I had Degrees! I was in control! I had business cards with my name listed in bold letters! I organised events! I spoke with important people! I had power lunches! Even after I was married, I worked for a few years while my husband finished his college studies. I was doing important stuff!

    Then I had children.

    Some people try to define it in important career-type terms: “Domestic Goddess” or “Domestic Engineer”. But it was hard to feel Goddess- or Engineer-like when my shirt was covered in porridge and I had just changed the sixth stinky nappy for the day. I longed for the days when I could be an adult, dealing with grown-up career issues. Not wrestling with toilet training or cleaning texta off the carpet.

    It was a hard lesson to learn. But ever so slowly, I began to see that God was more concerned with my character than my career title. In God’s mind, it is far more important for me to grow to be like Him. I can do that whether I have a full-time job in an office somewhere, or whether I am at home hanging out the washing.

    Who I am (my character) matters more to God than What I Do (my job).

    God is more interested in What I Do than in Who I Am.

    Status and titles are things that define, but can also imprison us. I am a Mother. I am a Wife. Everyone has a mental picture of what that should mean: am I the stereotypical 1950s Housewife, wearing an apron in an immaculately clean kitchen while baking souffle? Am I the modern Power Mother, handing my children their sushi lunches while preparing for pilates before I head off to work? Am I the new age Earth Mother, encouraging my children in permaculture, and teaching them how to repurpose household refuse?

    We want to be able to define ourselves in a way that makes us feel important. Status and Titles are things that we can too often strive for at the expense of what really matters.

    Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21

    Jesus didn’t care what people called themselves, or what titles they had. He cared about how they lived. More importantly, he cared about how people lived in response to him.

    So what if I call myself “Christian”? Does my life show others that Jesus is my King? Or is it just a title that I wear like a badge of honour, while living the opposite way?

    So what if I call myself a “Christian Mother”? Does my life demonstrate to my children that Jesus is the most important reality in our existence?

    As a parent, we have the most amazing opportunity to help new human beings grow up to understand that their Creator loves them even though they rebel against him, that their Creator sent Jesus to die for them, and that they have the opportunity to love and serve their Creator and the people around them too. We can do that with what we teach them, but we also do it by how we live.

    Children enjoy having “opportunities” (like music lessons or craft or reading activities or sport), but most of all they benefit from the example that their parents set. As a wise teacher once said, our faith is “caught”, not just “taught”.

    James wrote: “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” (James 2:18b).

    The Gospel changes our status (from sinner to forgiven), but it also demands a response. I respond in repentance – by turning to God and away from my sin. I respond in faith – by trusting Jesus. But I also respond in action – by living out my faith in my family and community.

    I’m not saying that this is easy. There are nights when I’ve spent more time awake tending babies than asleep, days I’ve spent in a sleep-deprived fog. There are days when the demands of the children have been so constant and so unrelenting that I’ve wanted to scream, “Where’s some Me Time for me?!!!” There are times when our marriage has been tested by miscarriage or prolonged illness, or lack of attention to each other’s needs. In each of these times, I’ve had to learn how to be consistent in what I say and do – or when I’ve been challenged at how I’ve let stress or Self stand between my family and Jesus. I’ve had to ask myself, “If my husband or the kids had to describe what they thought was most important to me, what would they say?”

    Prayer is important here. I’m amazed at how many times my stressed and strangled cries of “Help!” have been graciously and lovingly answered by an incredibly patient God. I’ve also learned the benefit of technology like iPods, so I can listen to sermons even while I’m cleaning out the bathroom, or take my bible with me in my handbag. These things have helped me to get back on track when life has been full of busyness and stress.

    I’m on a journey. I’m still learning to be a wife and parent. I’m learning how to live out my faith in front of an audience. I’m a work in progress (If I said I had it all figured out, you’d know I was lying!). But the Gospel is helping me to follow Jesus one day at a time, and to share his love with my family.

    Whether I’m covered in porridge or not.

    – Kristen Young

     

  • Guest Post: How the gospel shapes my life as a single woman by Katie Brown

    Hans’ note: The author of this post, Katie Brown, is an amazing young woman who i have a lot of respect for. She oversees all Resolved’s social media and is one of the most switched on people I know. I hope this blog challenges you. Follow Katie on Twitter and see what great work she does as you follow Resolved on Twitter and Facebook

    I think that there is an assumption in life that all singles (whether male or female) deeply wish that they weren’t. I thought it would be helpful to start this post by asking you to throw that assumption away for a minute, because I actually don’t believe it to be true – but I also want to challenge you that perhaps this is an unbiblical way of thinking.

    I don’t know what your circumstance is but I’m almost positive that if you’re single you’ve been on the receiving end of someone who is married taking pity on you in some way (I don’t believe that this is ever intentional). Most people argue that it is the world’s media & culture that has caused us to feel that being single is a type of incompleteness – which is definitely true, but I also think that the church has been involved… controversial I know! Let me explain: over the last few years there has been a really strong & exciting resurgence of young men being encouraged & mentored into strong leaders & church planters with a large focus on telling these “boys” to buck up and be “men” – get out of their parents’ basement, put away the video games, get a job & get a wife! While some of this rebuke is probably necessary, what an unbelievably scary pressure for a young man to all of a sudden feel a desperate need to find a wife in order to assume a position of manliness & leadership within their ministry & Christian life. As a woman I have felt a deep compassion for so many of these young men who will watch all of their young friends marry while they still have not met “the one” and wonder what this means for their future in ministry or perhaps feel disheartened & inadequate as a “man”. I think as a result, there has been a strong focus within the church to encourage all single members to be married or to at least be doing their best to move in that direction (I need to be clear that this is merely my experience, and not everyone’s!). And we wonder why Christians struggle with singleness…

    The wonderful & God breathed bible says that marriage is indeed a good thing (Gen 2:18) but by no means does it say that is it the only thing; singleness is a prominent option presented. 1 Corinthians 7:17 says that “each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him [/her] and to which God has called him [/her]” – this verse says that whatever your relationship status may be, God has assigned & called you to be just that. It is for this reason that I am most content in my singleness when I am regularly reflecting on God’s sovereignty and allowing His Spirit to teach me to trust Him in everything, not just in relationships but in work, money, church… everything. I take great comfort in Acts 17:24-28 which says…

    “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”

    As I reflect on this passage I am reminded that what is most important is that I am seeking the Lord & learning how to live for Him and Him alone. What a privilege that God has allowed us to take part in His plans! To suggest we know better is outrageous.

    I could now talk about how singleness is a gift, but I think that this is an area well covered by many people much wiser than I and I also think that it is a difficult point for singles to hear because they don’t feel that it is a gift at all & therefore feel guilty for thinking so. I will however say that as a single Christian I am able to do far more things with my time than I ever would as a married person (particularly with regards to ministry) & I do truly see that as a precious gift! (*Read 1 Corinthians 7 for Paul’s very clear [& controversial] thoughts on singleness & it’s importance within the church)

    I will finish on a final myth that singleness somehow equals “aloneness”.  Something I find really fascinating about this idea is the high number of married friends I hear talking about how lonely they now feel since they are now more committed to one person & see far less of their other friends – so I don’t think that loneliness is something felt only by singles. That being said, single people do struggle with loneliness & a way that I attempt to combat this is SUPER simple (but of course far easier said than done!): spending time with God in his word & communicating with him every day! I find that the more time I spend reading the word, praying & meeting in fellowship with others at church the more I feel content & completely loved. If we are in an active relationship with the loving Father who sent his very own beloved son to die a brutal death, take on the punishment we deserve & then rise to life again – all so that we could be in a right relationship with Him… how can we possibly feel alone?!

    I’ll let Paul (who remained single) conclude on this topic… In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret [of being content]—whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13

    Some resources for further reading:

    A pastor from The Village Church in Texas named Paul Matthies has preached some sermons on singleness & loneliness which have been an immense joy & help to me – I would highly recommend you listening to them no matter your circumstance.

    Just go to http://fm.thevillagechurch.net/sermons & search for sermons by Paul Matthies & you will see his talks “Only the Lonely” and “Single-Minded”.

    I also have loved the wisdom from Barbara Hughes in her book “Disciplines of a Godly Woman” which I am sure you can order online or at Koorong.

    Recently my brother in law recommended Nancy Wilson’s new book called “Why Isn’t a Pretty Girl Like You Married?” which I have not read but since it is written by Nancy I am sure it would be helpful, if you have read it please comment?